Saturday, January 29, 2011

And how I saved my sanity

It may not look like much: this little brown donut necklace. But it may be the best $6 I've ever spent.

After Little Spaghetti's newest obsession with my eyelashes, I knew I had to do something to distract his little wandering fingers. Enter the "nursing necklace."

This isn't an "official" nursing necklace, if there is such a thing (plenty of online shops will tell you there is). This is a DIY version thrown together in desperation.

It went something like this:

Me, lying in bed, thinking: "I should order one of those necklaces my friend recommended, the nursing necklaces."
* Poke, poke*: Little Spaghetti jabbing me in the eye.
Me, in my head: "But it could take WEEKS to get here. WEEKS!"
*Scratch*: Little Spaghetti prying open my eyelid.
Me, again: "I don't have weeks! I don't know if I even have hours. I will solve this problem tomorrow."

So I visited a little place called the Bead Shop. The nice young man (ok, he was a teenager) at the counter asked me politely if I needed help.

"I need something big enough that my child can't easily swallow and choke on it if he happens to get his hands on it. And I need something really strong to string it on."

"May I ask what it's for?" he asked. Boy, I think he regretted that decision after he heard my answer.

"Well, when I'm trying to sleep or breastfeeding my son, he yanks on my hair incessantly. And I can't take it anymore!" Just the mention of anything having to do with my breasts made him turn ten shades of red.

He hesitated. Finally he stuttered, "well, I'm...I'm just not sure I'm qualified to tell you what would be safe for your child. I'm not sure I can recommend anything. Maybe you should get a haircut?"

Thank, buddy. No really, thanks. I haven't thought of that or even actually ALREADY DONE THAT.

Anyway, I browsed around and found this lovely stone donut (natural with no varnish or clear coat, to boot!) and a pretty strong natural fiber cord to put it on.

The proof is in the pudding, folks! Success looks like this:

Friday, January 28, 2011

The bruise wall is no more

<- Let me introduce you to the bruise wall.

Now a little background... When Little Spaghetti was two weeks old, we signed the papers to buy our first home. It's a beautiful 1960s ranch in the neighborhood we've always wanted to live in. It has a great layout, but it came with (what I'm pretty sure was the original) seafoam green shag carpet, and was marketed as "a handy man special," read: lots of broken, old, and disgusting stuff going on.

This was wildly exciting, but - in retrospect - also completely insane. We had two weeks to move out of our little apartment, and our new house had to be completely renovated before we could move in. To make a long story short, we moved in, and have spent what sometimes feels like endless hours in the past 10 months remodeling this house. We painted every room. We put new flooring in the entire house. We tiled a counter and installed a sink. We fixed plumbing, installed blinds, installed faucets. We painted the entire outside of the house. We installed doors. We installed lights. We put in a new stove. And a billion other "little" projects that arise as you get into your "big" projects because that's how remodeling works. I'm sure this isn't the last you'll hear of remodeling.

When we moved in, though, there was one room - a sun room the previous owners added on in 2005 - that was in pretty decent shape. This was the room we lived in for the first two or three months in the house until other areas were habitable. We had our bed in there, the crib, the glider/recliner, a tv, and a futon. We refer to it as "the conservatory" because we're classy like that.

I have very fond memories of spending 99% of my days with my newborn in this room, leaving only to venture to the bathroom because for large spans of time the rest of the house had only bare subfloor. We slept in this room, we ate in this room, we dressed in this room, we nursed in this room. Never mind the fact that there were no blinds on the windows back then so our new neighbor next door, Terry, and her elderly mother got to watch us like we were in some kind of fish bowl. I was a new mother...I didn't have the energy to be modest. I spent my days with Little Spaghetti reclined on my knees. I occupied my time taking cell phone pictures of him. Proof:
(The ninja-baby headband pictures are my faves. Apparently I also wore the same pajama pants a lot.)

Anyway, as we moved into the rest of the house, we slowly filled up the conservatory with things that didn't go anywhere else in the house. In other words, it became a giant storage room. But now, I'm reclaiming this room. It's one of my favorites in the house, and it's time it got spiffed up, too.

The room was decked out with a hideous poker wallpaper border that provided lots of entertainment to my six week old back in the day. The walls were a terrible shade of light purple, and one wall had been sponge-painted with darker and lighter shades of tan and purple. This wall we have referred to lovingly as "the bruise wall." I'm not kidding, folks, it looks like someone beat the crap out of it. used to anyway. It doesn't any more because THE BRUISE WALL IS NO MORE. And we are one step closer to having the conservatory finished! The room is prepped and primed. Stay tuned for the final reveal.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Mommy Fail #52

It's 3:19 p.m., and I just realized that my shirt has been on inside out all day. And I was feeling like I had it all together today...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Sometimes I'm clever...

...but not usually until it's too late and the moment's passed. My life is filled with moments where I think, "Oh, I wish I'd said..."

Case in point:

We have made a habit of taking a trip to Costco around lunchtime on Sundays. It usually happens because something about sitting in a wooden pew at church Sunday morning makes me crave a big, hot, cheesy slice of $2 pizza from "Cafe Costco." Each week I promise myself that we will not indulge in this craving, and each week, I fail to have the self-control to not eat my full day's calories in one delicious sitting.

Aside from reinforcing unhealthy eating habits, Sunday at lunchtime may be the absolute *worst* time to go to Costco. We're talking 1:00 p.m. Impatient bulk-foods shoppers abound on Sunday afternoons, and these shoppers are a special breed. It's as if they are extra hurried because their weekend is slowly slipping away from them, and if they don't get a case of tomato soup in time for Monday: you better watch out!

On this particular Sunday, I tried to find a place to sit while Mr. Spaghetti dutifully stood in line to order food. This is no small task since most of the tables are not far enough apart to accommodate the cart that held my sleeping Little Spaghetti in his car seat.

First, I sat down at a table on the end of the main aisle. But for some reason, every single table on the main aisle has a giant trash can sitting right next to it because - you know - having just one or two trash cans centrally located is just not enough. Or maybe Costco just knows most people are too lazy to walk to a trash can? Who knows? Either way, I felt bad parking my baby right next to the trash can. I didn't want him to get splashed with stray drops of soda that casual passersby might throw into the trash can.

So I tried a table at the front of the row where there was less traffic to block with my massive shopping cart. I sat down apparently under some kind of air conditioning vent that was blowing full bore...never mind the fact that it's JANUARY.

Finally, I settled at a table in the very back corner, next to the customer service desk. There was space for my cart, but I quickly found out that space was only there because they had just put away all the customer returns. As we sat there, returns started piling up, and they started filling in the space around my cart one big-screen tv at a time. Soon, there was no way in and no way out.

Enter: the lady with five children who was upset at having had to walk all the way to the last table in the seating area as it was. With me on one side of the table and my husband on the other, there were still three or four seats on each side of the table. The family came, intending to take up the seats on each side of us, which - to be honest - would have been a little too close for my comfort with strangers anyway.

Several of the kids tried to go around the table, but my cart (which I couldn't have moved if I'd wanted to) was in the way.

*Sigh* "Could you, like, move your thing over there,"the woman said while she waved her hand toward my cart like she was shooing a dog away. Then she rolled her eyes and put her hands on her hips. She gave me *the look.* Luckily, she's not my mother, so the look didn't have quite the intended effect.

"I'm sorry, I really can't. We're pretty blocked in."

"Fine." *Sigh* "Just make it work, kids," she ordered.

So they crammed in next to my poor husband, all six of them. In a space that wasn't really big enough for three people, let alone six.

Then Little Spaghetti started making some noise. So I got up, pulled him out of his car seat, and sat him down on my lap to wait while Mr. Spaghetti crammed the rest of his churro (our standard Costco dessert) into his mouth so we could leave.

All the sudden, the woman looks over, "Where'd that baby come from?"

Right...that'd be that thing you were telling me to abandon across the store just a minute ago.

"Oh, he was just sleeping, in the cart," I explained.

As we were getting up to leave, it hit me. I wish I'd said, "Well, ma'am, I could tell you where this baby came from, but I'm not sure that's how you intended for your kids to learn about the birds and the bees."

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Mommy Fail #28

I set the date on my camera today.

That may not seem like much of an accomplishment, but in my world - let me tell you - it was. What this means is that I will actually know when photos were taken...Something I haven't known for, you know, the entire ten months of my child's life.

Wow, Little Spaghetti crawled for the first time in June of 2005! How advanced! Almost five full years before his birth date. What, you don't believe me? Look at the time stamp on the digital photo file. See, I told you.

Ah well, one small step at a time. Today - one step closer to remembering which month of the baby book pictures belong in. Who knows what tomorrow holds.

Becoming mommy

or, "How I Lost My Eyelashes..."

When I got pregnant, I (naively) thought my physical transformation into mommy-hood would be blamed on the pregnancy itself. As I watched my body change, my belly grow, I knew I’d never be the same.

I was prepared for the saggy, wrinkled extra skin left behind from my beach-ball belly. I had braced myself for the expansion and ultimate deflation of my breasts. I had adjusted to the excess body hair that sprouted on my stomach, my butt, my legs…my everywhere. But what I wasn’t prepared for is (what I like to call) the slow “mommyfication” that happens well beyond when you deliver the baby.

First came the sleep deprivation that created craters where my eyes used to be that even the best cover-up couldn’t hide. And, let’s face it, who has the time to put on cover-up most days anyway? Then came the wardrobe woes created by the fact that my body just isn’t the same shape it was pre-pregnancy, exacerbated by my cheap self that doesn’t want to buy a whole new wardrobe. I’ll confess that I still have one or two maternity items hanging around in my closet for days when I just can’t. pull. it. together.

With “solid” foods arrived lovely streaks of orange and green that accessorize most of my outfits as I became a human napkin. All this was topped off by the “mom hair” – the ever-practical, short haircut that I swore I’d never succumb to. (And it’s accompanied by all the usual defenses, “It really does make more sense, though.” And, “it’s so much easier to care for, and far less hazardous to my mental health since I’ve been blessed with a little hair-puller.”)

Each of these small steps has chipped away at my former self for the past nine months. One small sacrifice at a time – I now believe – is how we really become mommies, at least on the outside.

But this new development…this is too much.

Little Spaghetti’s love of hair – pulling, twisting, sucking – has gone too far. Even with short hair, the kid would tangle his fingers deep in my once-lovely locks, burrowing his little fist deep next to my scalp as he nursed or fell asleep. Then, a few days ago, he decided my hair wasn’t enough. Now, he has to rub my eyelashes. My EYELASHES!

When we go to bed at night, he rests next to me, and with as much gentleness as a nine-month old can muster, uses his pointer finger to stroke my eyelashes as he drifts off into sleep. Beside the fact that this isn’t exactly a relaxing way for *me* to fall asleep, he has a tendency to poke me in the eye. Not on purpose, but it hurts nonetheless.

Each day when I wake up, I find no less than eight eyelashes attached to his little footie pajamas. They just don’t have the strength to withstand this new obsession. I fear I may soon become eyelash-less. And let’s be honest, no amount of mascara will fix that new mommy trait.

Update: see my solution here.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Not from the back of the can

I have a long, disappointing history with family recipes. I’ll spare you (or, really, me) the gory details. Let’s just say I was seriously crushed w hen I discovered that most of our “family recipes” came from the back of the box/jar/can of whatever the main ingredient in the dish was. Don’t get me wrong, my mother is a FANTASTIC cook, and anyone who’s eaten at her house would tell you so. I hope she doesn’t get mad at me for blowing her cover…

There’s something romantic, though, about family recipes. About secrets passed down through generations and about only *really* knowing how to follow a recipe if you’ve watched your Grandma in the kitchen.

Well, folks, I am happy to say that yesterday I made my very first dish from my very first family recipe. The recipe is barely legible; there’s no ingredients list, no measurements. I can’t tell you the pleasure I took in trying to figure out what “a little bit” of something meant or how much “some” referred to.

My favorite is the one line that says “Puree.” You can’t get more vague! Is this a verb? Am I supposed to puree the ingredients? Is this a noun? What variety of pureed food am I looking for?

But the result – fantastic. And, extremely Italian (well, at least upstate-New York Italian, which is where my family is from) which is a nice bonus. This was the result of my Grandpa’s recipe for tomato pie, and I couldn’t be happier.
Perhaps someday I’ll uncover more of these gems and resurrect my fantasy of having an arsenal of family recipes.

-Mama Spaghetti

P.S. I’d share the recipe, but it really wouldn’t do you any good!

Well, here goes...

When I told my husband I was going to start a blog, he said, “Ok, but what’s your hook? Why would people want to read about YOU?” Well, aside from his resounding lack of confidence in my new endeavor, he made a good point.

So, I started thinking about it. Well, I’m a mom. Though, there are lots of other moms out there; plenty who have two, three, ten kids – and I’m sure they know more about being a mom than I do. Alright, I like to do crafts. Or should I rephrase: I like to TRY to do crafts. Ok, I cook. But I’m by no means a chef. 90% of the time I can make a passable meal for my family. I bake, I aspire to be a gardener, I cloth diaper, I knit, I breastfeed. I like to save money, and I think I’m pretty frugal. I consider myself mostly a stay-at-home mom, though I do moonlight at an office job. I do my part to reduce my carbon footprint and be eco-friendly. But I’ll be honest, I’m not an expert at any of those things.

I’ve come to the conclusion, though, that maybe the hook isn’t so important. I want to write about, to share, and to remember my life. If I can strike a chord that resonates with someone else out there, I’ll be thrilled. 
But if it doesn’t? If nobody reads this blog? In the end, it doesn’t matter. I’m chronicling my life, my relationship, and my motherhood. Some day when I’m old and my life’s memories are like Swiss cheese, I’ll have something to fill in the holes with.

Two things you should know about me: I’m Italian, and I live in Nevada (hence the Spaghetti Westerner). In reality, I am only about one-eighth Italian, and my husband often reminds me that I’m “as much French, German or American for that matter” as I am Italian. But I’ve chosen to embrace my Italian roots. I love wine. I love pasta. I love tomatoes. I talk with my hands. I enjoy the loudest parts of my family most. I identify best with my Italian self: so I’m Italian. (Besides, my Grandpa, who is actually Italian, once told me that I am his favorite grandchild because I am the most Italian of us grandkids.)

While I may not be a real Italian, I am a real Nevadan. Born and raised. Crystal clear, wide open blue skies; drab colors like “sage” and “sand” as far as the eye can see; counting more cows than people on drives across the state; a place where “off-roading” is a genuine past-time: home truly does mean Nevada to me. (It also just so happens that my husband and my son were also born in Nevada, which makes us legit as far as I’m concerned.)

So, I’m Mama Spaghetti. I’m married to an ever-practical engineer, Mr. Spaghetti. I’m known as “mom” by my one happy son, Little Spaghetti, and my hilariously cute, half-breed Spaghetti Dog. This is my place to share, to think, and to vent about my hopes, my sadness, my joys, and my frustrations about my (not terribly unique) life as a mom and a wife. I don’t intend to censor myself very much. I can’t promise I won’t use foul language or over-share sometimes. If that sounds alright to you, then welcome. I hope you enjoy your stay.

-Mama Spaghetti

P.S. I am aware that “Spaghetti Western” refers to something vastly different than what I’ve described above. While I appreciate this specific sub-genre of 1960’s Western films as much as the next guy, I am no Spaghetti Western aficionado, nor do I claim any affiliation with them…let’s just accept this as my attempt at being clever, can we?