T, My Long Haired Fish

We’ve been hitting the pool at my folks house pretty hard. The first couple of days we were down here were tough. T had been fantastic during week one of our trip, but that week was incredibly actioned packed. We quickly learned we needed to tire the hell out of him so he doesn’t act out because he is bored.

In the past he’s been a bit freaked out by the pool, but this trip has been different. He begs to get in even though it isn’t really quite warm enough. But the hot tub has a kid setting of 94 degrees so when C naps we’ve been suiting up and jumping in. Keeping him busy has been working.

Part of the deal is he gets his hair washed days we are in the pool and little man hates to get his hair washed-usually we do it every three days or so. The water down here is super hard and the chlorine isn’t helping anything so little man’s luscious locks are full of snarls. My Mom smartly suggested we get some detangler and I found a natural one at the grocery store yesterday. It makes a fantastic difference.

I love my little man’s hair. I want my little man’s hair. It’s long and curly, Z and I have kept it long because it rocks so hard. People mistake him for a girl all the time, which doesn’t really bother me. I get it. Long hair=girl to most folks. So I gently correct them and hope that T doesn’t notice.

Today my dad took him for his first trip to the driving range to learn how to swing a golf club-another activity to tucker him out. And during the little excursion three people referred to T as “she”. Tonight as I was working the comb through the knots after his bath T said, “My hair makes me look like a girl.” My throat started burning and I had to blink past tears. I told him I didn’t think he looks like a girl, that long hair didn’t mean girl or boy. But I said if he wanted to get his hair cut that it was his choice and we could go do it. He said he did want it cut and I asked how short he wanted it. He pointed to about two inches past his shoulder. “But Baby,” I said, “You hair isn’t even that long now!”

If he wants his hair cut because he is bored with it I’d be sad, but it is his hair and I’d support him. If he just wants it cut because he thinks he looks like a girl it will break my heart. Don’t get me wrong, if he really wants it cut I will make sure it happens no matter the reason. But dude isn’t even 4. I don’t want him to think he needs to act a certain way because he is a boy. I want him to do whatever feels right for him.

Who knows what he’ll think or want tomorrow. The bottom line is I can’t protect him from-oh, the list in endless. From society’s idea of gender roles, from the casual mistakes of others that hurt even though that wasn’t the intent, from expectations others will place upon him, from everything that will make him fear just being himself. We can support him and encourage him to be himself. But we aren’t parenting in a vacuum and it sort of scares the shit out of me.

Dude can now doggie-paddle to the side of the pool if he is wearing his water wings.

amazing hair

His beautiful curls.

C on the boat

C loving Grandpa’s boat.

brothers hugging

A rare moment of the boys not trying to beat the crap out of each other.

How We Roll

T’s been sick, fever mostly. But yesterday dude got some pretty nasty diarrhea. Of course this morning we had a 5 hour drive ahead of us. I packed a bunch of extra clothes for him plus some cleaning supplies and I warned my father who was traveling with us that we might have a pretty big mess on our hands. He suggested that we stick a pull-up on him. We did it last January when T had a wicked stomach bug.

I calmly told T he needed to wear a pull-up for the ride and he preceded to completely melt down. He turned into a weeping puddle in my arms. He begged me to let him keep his underwear on. He promised he wouldn’t have diarrhea in the car.

My mom told him even grownups have to wear pull-ups sometimes when they can’t control themselves. That it was not a big deal. But T was inconsolable. Dude has been potty trained for more than a year and hasn’t been wearing pull-ups overnight for almost that long. He simply couldn’t hear that the pull-up wasn’t a punishment.

So no pull-up.

We got in the car and made a quick stop at the grocery store. My dad rushed in and I quickly told him that I was having a bit of an anxiety event and that when he came out I needed to run inside. Because diarrhea.

From the backseat T piped up with, “Well, Mommy, if you have diarrhea you are going to have to wear a pull-up!”

Touché little man, touché.

sick boy T

Sweet kid with a nasty fever. He didn’t crap in the car, by the way.

melting into the window

My name is Karen Cordano and I have Irritable Bowel Syndrom and an anxiety disorder. As a travel companion I am a treasure.

Mama Humble Pie

You know how you think your kid is exceptional? Come on, we all do. We can’t help it. I’ve actually come to think that the wacked out impulse is totally normal, you just need to have a sense of humor and awareness about it. Because every kid isn’t an over-achieving special flower. In fact, telling a child that they are gifted and special and uber-intelligent actually just might backfire-they don’t think they need to work hard for anything because they know their natural state of being is extraordinary. If they have to try they already think they have failed. I’m trying hard to remember that. To compliment T and C on how hard they are trying rather on what comes easily to them.

But sometimes I get so excited about my kid’s special flower-ness that I get carried away with myself. On Wednesday I posted this status update to FB:

“For weeks T has been insisting we call him “Bumblebee the Yellow Car Transformer”, which is a major mouthful. This morning he switched it up. Now he is “Opt-Thomas Prime”. What a clever little nut-job.”

Man, was I ever proud that my guy was smart enough to figure out that play on words. I mean, he is only three. And 29 of my friends were kind enough to like the very braggy status. Cut to yesterday. My boy spiked a fever and so he was stuck on the sofa with Grandma’s iPad. He kept asking for the video with Opt-Thomas Prime. And I told him there wasn’t a video. It was something he made up in his head. That sweet, wonderful, clever little monkey made it up all on his own!

Um, actually he didn’t.

Yup, it is a Thomas the Tank Engine/Transformer Mashup that isn’t even appropriate for a three year old. And I now feel like I owe all 29 of my friends personal apologies. Friends- I am an asshole. A very braggy asshole. Not only is my son not a brilliant wordsmith, I’m being a shitty Mom by not monitoring what he is consuming via Youtube. Oops.

So what am I going to do now? Brag some more! Way to learn a lesson, Karen!

thomas writes his name

Little man knows how to write his name. And I can verify the authenticity of this one. I swear, I was sitting right there. What? You don’t believe a word I say now? I don’t really blame you….

superhero

The dashing superhero I had dinner with the other night. T is an extraordinary superhero, you know. Very advanced for his age. He can actually fly! And he has superhuman strength. We are so proud. And delusional.

ride em cowboy

And here is my cowboy. Although he is a mere 21 months old he already can lasso steer and ride bulls. Seriously, my children are so very gifted.

We’ve been on the road for almost a week. Missing Z like mad. He is blogging about his Japan adventures if anyone wants to check it out. I’m so excited for him, but I can’t wait to give him a hug in a few weeks. The posting will continue to be pretty sporadic for the next while. We are having fun adventures with family and are keeping very busy. Hope you are as well.

Beware–Braggy Post Ahead…

For those following along I took a final exam on Tuesday and my first graduate level course is officially over. I’ve been freaking out about this class all semester. The work load was intense. Most weeks we were expected to read 100-200 pages of extremely dense material. There was a midterm and final, but there was also a 15-20 page term paper. I was scared I couldn’t do it. More specifically  I was scared that I would try my hardest and it wouldn’t be good enough.

I still don’t know my grade for the paper or the exam or the class. And I’m still freaked out it won’t be good enough. But something really amazing happened today. And even though it’s bragging I’m totally going to tell you about it.

Got to back up a bit first. During my research for the paper, which was titled “The Human Right to Food Applied to the Problem of United States Breastfeeding Rates” (I know, I know sounds like a page turner, right?), I came across a number of cool breastfeeding advocacy groups and some of them had FB pages that I “liked”. Whatever. I’m a nerd. The other day The United States Breastfeeding Committee posted a link to a New York Times Parenting Blogpost “Similac’s Dubious ‘No Judgement’ Marketing”. I shared the link on my page prefacing it with:

“Incredibly troubling marketing campaign from a leading formula company. Yes. Obviously mothers should not judge each other. But this company’s first interest is not in “Mommy Wars” and the effect they have on Mothers, rather it is selling formula. Ethically this is simply appalling.

After being the only country in the world to vote against adopting the The International Code of Marketing of Breastmillk Substitutes in 1981 (Go USA!), the Clinton administration reversed that decision. But sadly nothing has been done in this country to enforce The Code in the last 20 years, and this campaign is in direct violation of it.”

I might feel a little passionate about this issue….

I also emailed the link to my professor. She let me know that she was forwarding it to colleagues, which made me happy because I worried about bugging her or wasting her time. Today she emailed me to tell me that she had sent the link along. She also asked if I would mind if she forwarded my paper to the same group. The thread of emails was included as well as the recipients. As I looked at it my pulse raced and my throat closed up. They were people we’d read all semester. People who are involved with important Right to Food NGOs. People who work with the UN.

So I don’t have my grade yet. But the paper can’t suck ass if she is willing to share it with her colleagues. I worked really hard and my paper did not suck ass. I’m so fucking happy and excited I don’t know what to do with myself.

z cleans

Z is out of here very early Sunday morning for his trip to Japan. He needs to be packing. So he decided to move the refrigerator and clean underneath it. We are master procrastinators in this house. Oh, and yes, we’ll be traveling for a while. But don’t think you can come break into an empty house. People are staying here while we are gone.

handsome guy

My handsome man. I’m going to miss the hell out of him.

 Posting might be pretty spotty for the next while as the boys and I head south.

Still Gross, But Maybe Not Wrong

There is scientific evidence that my sloppy parenting might have one small positive upside. Morning Edition ran a story today about the results of a study on how parents dealt with pacifiers that fell on the ground. I braced myself to hear yet another piece on how I’m doing it wrong, but was shocked and rather delighted to learn that according to this study the gross parenting wins. When C had a pacifier during the day (he only uses one when he sleeps now) and it fell on the ground I totally would pop that puppy into my mouth to “clean” it off. It turns out in this age of anti-bacterial everything our kids’ immune systems aren’t exposed to enough bad stuff. As counter intuitive as it seems, sticking a pacifier covered with my bacteria into C’s mouth might have kick started his immune system and helped him ward off eczema and allergies. Don’t get me wrong, dude is sick all the time, has had three trips to the ER, two overnight hospital stays, just got ear tubes. And I’m totally sure all that stuff is somehow my fault.

But. He does not have eczema. He (so far, knock on a forest’s worth of wood) does not have allergies.

I was feeling pretty self-satisfied while I told Z about the news piece as we headed to the backyard so he could hop on his bike and ride to work. Our backyard that was still covered in party detritus-decorations and used paper plates and sippy cups and a cooler filled with beer and mostly melted ice. Eh, the party was less than 48 hours ago. We are slobs. I ignored the mess and continued to feel pretty great about the validation that my gross version of parenting isn’t damaging the kids.

And then I saw it–an obviously pee filled diaper on the lawn. I turned to Z, “Please tell me we aren’t the people who have dirty diapers in our yard.” Z, “I cannot tell you that. Because we are those people.”

I’m desperately trying to focus on the positive. You know, the part where I filled my kid’s mouth with bacteria….

beautiful C

Last night he stood quietly for a moment. And then he returned to running around and screaming at the top of his lungs. He is wearing the water and pee soaked diaper that ended up spending the night on the lawn.

naked gardening

Naked gardener. He kept washing the dirt off of his feet. And then he’d take a step. And then he’d wash the dirt off. And then he’d take a step. Kept him occupied for a really long time.

Our Version of Church

After a family trip to the grocery store late this morning we drove by a church on the way home. To be honest, we drove by a bunch of churches. But as we drove by this one in particular I said to Z, “You know how every couple of years you talk about wanting to go to church for the sense of community?” Z, “Yeah.” Me, “Well, last night is my version of church.” Z, “Huh. Yeah. Yes. Yes it is.”

Last night was special because we celebrated Z’s 40th birthday. And it was special because it wasn’t special at all.

First the birthday stuff. Z is flying off to Japan for a month next Sunday. On his real 40th birthday he will be in Kyoto where he and the class he’ll be co-teaching will go to a fish market and then back to a kitchen to learn how to make sushi. Pretty fucking sweet.

So I decided to surprise him with a birthday not on his birthday. He had a quick overnight work trip to NYC on Friday. Our friends came over early on Saturday morning to watch the boys as I did party prep. They decorated the backyard with cheesy 40s and crepe paper and a Star Wars banner that I’d bought. And when he pulled into the driveway we shouted, “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!” He was surprised and I was tickled pink. I suck at secrets and wanted to tell him all week. We did presents and I broke the news that he’d have to help out as the party prep continued. He was a total sport about it.

backyard pre party

Waiting for the party to start.

Now for the not special stuff. As it was closing in on party time Z said, “We’d probably be doing this exact thing even if we weren’t celebrating my birthday.” It’s what we do in Syracuse while the weather is nice. We have people over, we cook out, we drink, we laugh, the kids run around, we drink a little more. We’ve found our people. Our kids have friends that they will grow up with. This community is a big part of why we want to stay here. And I can’t express how grateful we both are.

z 40 cake

Most weekends I don’t make a cake. And it was a serendipitous coincidence that the party fell on Star Wars Day (May the Fourth Be With You).

z cookies

When I found the Z cookie cutter years ago I couldn’t believe it. They make a cookie cutter of my husband? How cool is that?

blowing out the candles

Blowing out the candles with the kiddos. The paper hat…our first summer here the nutjob decided he’d make a paper hat and wear it around the yard. It drove me crazy. He made me one last summer and I humored him by wearing it a bit. I swallowed my dislike and make him a special one for his big birthday.

So yes, our church rocks. The food is pretty great, we get to drink, the kids can make as much noise as they want, and it is right out our back door.

birthday hat

Happy 40th, Baby. I sure do love you.

In Which I Am an Ungracious Little Shit

Back in February when I decided to move the old blog over to WordPress a big reason was the sense of community on this platform. It bugged me that I was unable to “like” WP blog posts because sometimes you don’t have a comment, but you’d like to acknowledge you enjoyed reading. I liked the template designs here more, they feel cleaner and airier. It was a good decision, I really do like it here.

Part of the WP community seems to involve giving “Awards” as a form of encouragement and inclusion. I haven’t paid much attention to them because they just aren’t my thing. But last night Beadstork nominated me for the Liebster Award, which is for blogs with under 200 followers. And to be clear, the nomination is the prize. It is a way to tell the folks who read your blog about the smaller blogs you enjoy.

Here’s the part where I’m a total asshole and uncomfortably honest as usual. It freaked me out. I didn’t want to participate. I was embarrassed. Naturally that made me think and I decided I need to address it. Beadstork was being kind and encouraging, what the fuck is my problem? Well, there is the whole I-hate-compliments-with-my-entire-being thing. For the newer readers-I had a pretty big mental breakdown almost a decade ago and an eventual diagnosis of borderline personality disorder. One of the larger parts of that situation manifested in me believing that everyone was constantly laughing at me/pitying me. Any time I received a compliment I thought I was being mocked. I no longer am categorized as borderline (yay therapy and drugs!) But the compliment thing has continued to be a struggle. “Now wait just a minute,” you say, “Did you not post three pictures of yourself in a bathing suit the other day? Were you not practically begging for compliments?” Listen, I know. I know it looks that way. And I’m sorry about that. I really was not looking for compliments. I was doing something that was very hard for me. I’m trying to not feel so bad about myself. I’m trying to encourage you to not feel so bad about yourself. The second part isn’t hard for me. I really think you should not feel bad about yourself.

Mostly though, I’m a big fat introvert. I’ll wait for you to stop laughing. How can I be an introvert? Me, a reckless internet over-sharer? Well, most of my (teeny-tiny) readership are not folks I see regularly. In fact, when I find out that local in-real-life people read here I get really weirded out and guilty. Like I’m imposing on friendships by shoving really intimate stuff down their throats. For some reason I feel comfortable letting it all hang out online and I don’t feel like it impacts my daily life much. I know, I’m inexcusably naive when it comes to the realities of the internet.

So what to do? The introvert in me is worried that nominating other people will make them uncomfortable-if I am afraid of group activities then everyone must be. I do keep a pretty up to date blogroll. Wish I could share an awesome blog of a friend of a friend who is writing about parenting her foster-to-adopt daughter, but the blog is private for now. The minute it becomes public it’ll go right on my page, though. Recently I’ve gotten back in touch with someone I knew in college. We worked closely together, but I don’t think either of us cared much for the other one back then. Probably because I was insufferable and prim. Turns out we have a lot in common these days and if we lived in the same city I could see us being close. She’s a playwright. A proper writer. And her blog rocks. Did you guys know that Z writes about the found object instruments he makes? Or that my amazing sisters-in-law are blogging about their daughter? Really, if you are in the market for more blogs to read please just check out the blogroll. I haven’t included anyone that isn’t in my RSS feed, they are the folks I think are awesome.

And that is the point of this whole award thing I think-encouraging each other to write more. So to Beadstork I’d like to say thank you. Thank you for being encouraging and big hearted and for participating in community. I’m sorry I’m so sloppy about accepting it. The truth is even though I didn’t/don’t know how to gracefully respond to that encouragement, you did make my day. It delighted me that someone I’ve never met has enjoyed this blog enough to share it with her friends. And I’m sure the other folks you nominated feel the exact same way.

To my friends who write. Please keep writing. I love reading your stuff. You brighten my day, it stands to reason you are brightening other people’s days as well.

I like this WordPress situation. I like the community. I like that people seem to want to lift each other up. I’m going to try and get better about participating myself. I want to, I really do. Just got to learn to stop tripping on that damn anxiety disorder.

kels and t

Speaking of my sister-in-law, she dropped by the other day on her way to Minnesota. Strange, but true.

violin

Speaking of Z’s instruments, he made this cigar box violin a while ago. This week he met with the Kronos Quartet and the founder and first violinist played this very violin. Z’s life is amazing and I’m so very proud of him.

checkered lily

These crazy checkered lilies are in our front yard. The first spring we lived here it was so cool to discover them and all the other flowers that previous owners had planted.