Dining Out

Last night my parents took us out to a very nice restaurant for dinner. Going out to a fast food joint with the boys makes me anxious. So as much as I was looking forward to a really delicious meal, I was a wee bit worried (by which I mean my stomach was clenched in fear) about the behavior of the two young men in my life.

Sometimes those boys surprise me. Ok, so Z took C for a quick walk outside before the meal came, and Z and I tag teamed the two mid-meal trips to the bathroom. But other than that it was smooth sailing. Star Wars stickers worked their magic yet again.

Near the end of the meal a friend of my parent’s walked by the table. She has young grandchildren, so she bent down to chat with T. He is a bit of a rambler when he gets going and dude was on a tear. “Do you know what? Well, tomorrow is going to be me and Charlie’s birthday. But, but, but…tomorrow isn’t really me and Charlie’s birthday. But we get our birthday with Grandma and Grandpa tomorrow. And we are, um, we are, uhhh, we are going to have presents. And a cake. I want a….Star Wars Angry Bird cake. And we are getting presents! I want Star Wars legos. I want a Chewbacca figure. I saw it at the Lego store. The Chewbacca figure, well, it has a slot, not a put on head. Like the Gamorrean guard. They are the only two with a slot, not a put on head. But we already have the Gamorrean guard. And I want a big Star Wars Angry Birds play set. A big one.”

This lovely woman was a total sport. She just let him talk and murmured little hmmms and yeses at all the right places.

T paused for a second, took a deep breath, and looked her square in the face.

“I just farted.”

He is totally my child.

T in the pool

Loving the pool with Daddy. Photo by Ellie Leonardsmith Photography.

popsicle love at floyd fest

T and Z went to Floyd Fest. First music festival for T.

playing at Floyd fest

He had a really good time.

Empire Half

When it comes to doing things that scare the living shit out of me I often need to sneak up on myself. Otherwise I wouldn’t take the plunge. Signing up for a half marathon was not on this morning’s agenda. One of the other Moms in C’s classroom at school is a runner. She’s relatively new to the sport, but she’s already done a marathon and a bunch of halves. A few weeks ago she suggested I do a half near Albany for my first try. Today I told her I was considering signing up for it. “Oh, that’s already full.” she told me. “You should sign up for the Empire State Half Marathon. It’s in Syracuse in October.” “Is it pretty flat?” I asked. I mean, let’s get real. I’m slow and 13.1 miles is going to be a mighty struggle for me. Hills and 13.1 miles would be an impossibility. She assured me there was only one big hill.

So I told myself not to think about it. I drove home on autopilot, pulled out my wallet, got on the website and signed up. I’m excited. I’m terrified. Thankfully October feels really far away.

When it comes to doing things that scare the living shit out of me I need to announce them as soon as I commit. That way I can’t talk myself out of whatever I’m doing without looking like a quitter. Shortly after writing a FB status update stating that October 19th is the day I do my first half marathon my wonderful friend A signed up as well. I’d been bugging her to visit this year, and now we are going to have an insane adventure together. Knowing she is going to be there makes the idea of the race less scary.

This past weekend my friend did her first 25K race. She has been a big inspiration for me when it comes to this whole running deal. The last time I saw her in person was less than I year ago and I told her I admired the hell out of her and simply couldn’t imagine ever doing what she did. A few weeks later I bought my first pair of running shoes and somehow made myself do it. A year ago I wouldn’t have believed I could get up on a Monday morning and jog more than three miles without stopping. It wouldn’t occur to me that a goal of 13.1 miles was a possibility. Somehow my friend’s support from a couple of hundred miles away has been a huge factor in helping me realize I can do this. She gleefully commented that she can’t wait for how much more I’m going to talk about poop when I start running longer distances. I responded that I didn’t think it was possible for me to talk about poop more than I already do.

A couple of hours later T and I had the following conversation. It might not be about running, but Kelly this one is for you:

The boys are on antibiotics. Which means the boys have diarrhea. In the middle of the day they get yogurt and applesauce doctored with probiotic powder, but even still the meds upset their bellies. Both of their parents have wicked IBS, they never had a chance in terms of tummy troubles.

This afternoon T was giving me a particularly satisfying hug when I asked him if he pooped at school today. He nodded his head. “Diarrhea or solid?” I asked. “Solid!” he gleefully replied. “Really?” He could hear the excitement in my voice. “Well….it was solid in the middle. Kind of liquid at the beginning and end. It was poop-arrhea.”

It is certain that poop-arrhea will become part of our family’s vocabulary. I mean, it is a magnificent word.

So brace yourself for more jogging talk. More poop talk. And please wish me luck!

C poops

Caught this guy behind the curtain. He hides when nature calls. I asked if he was pooping. “Noooooo!” he shouted. He was lying.

me and my boys

Me and my boys.

Wednesday

Unplowed roads meant the boys didn’t go to school this morning.

They both have colds.

My throat started hurting by noon.

Walked over a mile in a snowstorm to school.

Classes were cancelled shortly thereafter, but we didn’t know that in our class so we stayed til the end.

I slipped and fell on the way home.

The plow came while I was gone and blocked our driveway so I shoveled it out so Z could pull in.

C had pooped during his nap and taken his diaper off. The sitter did a great job dealing with the mess, way above her pay grade. But I found crusted poop on the floor of his room and he simply smelled like feces.

I cleaned up the shit and gave him a bath.

T gagged on leftovers from two nights ago. Two nights ago when he cleaned his plate and told me I made good food.

This was not a fun day.

So I was really looking forward to the one cadbury creme egg  left on the counter after dinner.

I earned that damn egg.

Also, it would seem that I ate that damn egg yesterday.

Fuck. FUCK. FUUUUUUUCK.

I really wanted that creme egg.

stroll in the snow

After my delightful stroll in the snow.

star wars stickers

The boys playing with Star Wars stickers this morning. T is obviously Spider-Man.

Vignettes

We were on our way to Target to get T his reward for handling the pain of a flu shot. Yep, I bribe my kids in order to make a scary event more bearable. I’m not even going to apologize. Yes, I vaccinate my children. Because I believe in science and herd immunity and I’m really not going to apologize.

I let an old lady’s car in front of me as we inched towards the intersection and out of the business park. Old lady put on her left turn signal and I cursed inside my head. We were going to be stuck waiting for her to turn forever. Sure enough there wasn’t a break in the traffic for ages. Finally one came. She did not pull out. I was biting my tongue to hold in the string of expletives that were flashing through my head. Another break came. “Grandma! Come on!” I shouted. She went.

From the backseat T was furiously craning his neck to try to see the other driver. “Mom? Do you have two grandma’s?” Yup, little man thought my actual grandma was in the car in front of us.

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C was in the front of the shopping cart as I walked down an aisle at Target, concentrating on the task at hand rather than my children. He shouted, “Socks!” as he grabbed a pair from the hook. Might seem like nothing, but when you kid has a speech delay and only a dozen words at 26 months old it felt like the fucking most amazing thing that had happened in ages.

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The boys were nearly out of patience as I herded them into a dressing room with five bras in my fist. I got permission from the attendant for each boy to take something into the room to occupy themselves. Play doh for C and T’s little transformer figurine flue shot reward. I stripped down to my waist as I begged C not to scream and T to get out from under the bench. I stood there in an ill fitting leopard print bra, flesh spilling from the sides of the cups. I’m sure to make that extra flesh feel less lonely my muffin top poofed luxuriously from the top of my jeans. I started laughing hysterically. Leopard Print. LEOPARD PRINT! Fat spilling everywhere. Muffin top. What was I trying to do? I’ve never quite felt so much like a Mother in my entire life.

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We all were ready to go home, but we were 5 stores away from LL Bean. And T has started to tell his teacher that he didn’t bring a hat so he can wear the awesome one in the classroom. The one he deemed much cooler than his own. The one from LL Bean. I figured we could get him one of his own as he’s worn his current chapeau for two years. As we left LL Bean hat in hand we passed a Mom with two kids, each probably a year younger than my own. I was trying to wrangle C who was throwing the great tantrum of ’13 so I didn’t get a close look, but the very young toddler was in a stroller. “That little fella was excited to go to the store because he thought he was going to play with me!” T exclaimed. And suddenly I was laughing again.

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At some point we are going to have to face the music and potty train C. We’ve promised ourselves that we will put him on the toilet first thing in the morning, but we’ve been too lazy to actually do it. This morning I sat with him on the bathroom floor and gave him two choices-the little potty or the big potty. He wept and raged and shook his head and said, “uh-uh” which means no over and over. We sat quietly for a minute and he pointed at the big toilet, so I put him on. Nothing happened, but I told him he did a terrific job. T called me out of the bathroom. I shut the toilet lid and left. A moment later I returned to find C standing at the commode on tiptoes, lid and seat raised, desperately trying to hold his penis above the edge. Guess he’s been watching how Daddy and T do it. I held him off the ground so he could “aim” properly, laughing hysterically and telling him what a clever monkey he was. Looks like we are going to have to get a stool.

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Parenthood is frustrating and exhausting and just when you think you have figured out every way possible to screw it up you surprise yourself with creative new ways to make mistakes. Admittedly I bitch about it nonstop. But the small little moments above? They all happened in the last 18 hours. No matter how bad my days are there is always a counterpoint of hilarity and delight and wonder. You know what I’m talking about. The moments of silliness or absurdity or parental pride that might bore everyone else on the planet to tears. The moments that will either be a part of your family lore forever, or be forgotten the next day.  The moments that actually make it possible to slog through your day. They are the reasons I wouldn’t exchange my kids for a million mornings of sleeping in, or lazy weekends reading the Sunday Times cover to cover, or nights out at the bar with friends.

Ok.

Maybe I’d give them up for a million of those. Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve read the Sunday Times? But surely not for a hundred thousand.

cream cheese mustache

His luxurious cream cheese mustache is rather fetching.

New Hat

New hat on this delightful creature.

Twig and Berries

Writing about the Brooklyn Jugs and adventures at various bars in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn has made a bunch of ancient memories come bubbling up to the service.

Did I ever tell you about the time I saw a guy’s dick on the subway?

This one takes place during the same general era as the Lillie’s story. Z and I were living in Prospect Lefferts Garden (Southeast corner of Prospect Park). Z worked at NYU and I worked for a tiny wholesale bakery that over the years hopped around to various professional kitchen sites throughout the city. We started in a cavernous and filthy basement in SoHo, moved to a tiny but tidy storefront in the Meatpacking District across from what would soon be the Spice Market, detoured to a labyrinth catering kitchen in a warehouse in Long Island City for about a year, and returned to the Meatpacking District storefront for a second try.

Commuting from Brooklyn to Queens was pretty straightforward even if I did have to go to Manhattan to get there. I’d hop on the Q at Parkside Ave in Brooklyn and somewhere in Manhattan I’d switch over to the R which I’d take to 36th Street in Queens. Queens. That borough always confused me. With its 36th Street and 36th Avenue and the fact that they intersected. It just didn’t feel right. But the kitchen space was large and clean and the catering company that ran it invited us to eat family meal with them every day. I remember the chef reaming out a cook for not removing the bones from the fish in a dish he prepared for family meal. Chef was not fucking around. He was feeding his people (and us) right. Anything that was put out for consumption was expected to be as excellent as the food they sent to the US Open. I still have a couple of travel coffee mugs they were passing out late summer of ’05 after the Open was done.

So back to the train. If you are a daily commuter in New York you have your system. You wait for the train in the same spot every day. You enter the train through the same set of doors. You have a favorite seat. You have your routine, be it napping or reading or listening to music. You are in a bubble and feel alone even in a crowded car. I think it is how one stays sane in an overwhelming situation. You make order out of chaos. Your world gets manageably small. You recognize the regulars in your car, nod or smile at them but never strike up a conversation. When one of the regulars goes missing you feel a bizarre sense of loss for a stranger you never knew.

One morning in the silence of the subway car I happened to glance up from the book I was reading to see a well dressed man walking down the aisle. For a moment I could not process what I was seeing. He had carefully arranged his junk so that both his flaccid penis and rather hairy balls were free from the repressive underwear and pants the rest of us were wearing. His pants were buttoned, the fly was simply gaping open, a passageway for his genetalia that clearly yearned to be free.

I tensed up. You never really know what shit is going to go down on the train, best to be on guard. Not one other person in the half full car said a word, it seemed that everyone was so involved in their routine that they didn’t notice. I quickly looked back to my book and pretended to read until I heard him exit out of the door and into the next car.

A guy with his dick on display walked the length of our train car. After he left I glanced up at my fellow commuters. Not a single person met my eye. Not a twitch of a smile on any of their faces. I was having trouble not laughing hysterically. Did it that just happen? Was I really the only one to notice? Did I suffer some extended hallucination?

The next morning I was reading my book on the train as we chugged along still in Brooklyn. Suddenly I heard a woman talking to her friend. About Mr. Dick-Outside-His-Pants. My head whipped around, “You saw him, too?” I asked. “I didn’t think anyone else noticed!” She laughed. She didn’t think anyone else had noticed either.

I wonder how many of us on the train did notice. Either way I never saw the man again. Man, I miss the fuck out of New York. Not a lot of dull moments.

can we fix it

Of course we get all sorts of great moments in Syracuse as well. WCNY, our local PBS station moved into a fancy new location and had a big party to celebrate yesterday. Even Bob the Builder came.

bob the builder and c

Brave C just strutted right up to Bob for a high five.

too shy for bob

Shy T needed to watch from a distance and cuddle with Daddy.

kombucha

Guess what? I’m brewing Kombucha! Thanks again for the scoby, L! Should be ready to bottle in the next few days.

Goodbye Hat

Five December 18ths ago I turned 31. Unbeknownst to me I was pregnant with T. On that day Z and I went out to eat and ended up in downtown Providence at a pop up craft show for the holidays. It was there I spotted it-the hat I fell instantly and deeply in love with. Z was dubious. Obviously he is a hat guy, but over the last decade and a half we have bought me a ton of hats that just collected dust. I wanted to be a hat person, but I didn’t have the chutzpah to pull it off. I promised Z I would wear this one and probably because it was my birthday he agreed we should get it even though it was super expensive.

cloche hat 2009

Photo by Ellie Leonardsmith. Fall 2009. T about 3 months. Hat less than a year old.

This magic cloche made by hand from an old cashmere sweater with a felt flower applique made me into a hat person. It might have been somewhere in the neighborhood of $80 (gulp), but over the last almost five years I have worn the fucking shit out of it. We haven’t regretted the purchase for a second. I am a creature of habit. The hat works. I love it. Z loves it. The lady who works at the pharmacy at Target loves it so much she calls me the hat lady and is sad when I don’t wear it in the summer. True story. I’d be perfectly happy to wear the hat for the rest of my life.

silly cloche winter 12

Photo by Ellie Leonardsmith. Outtake of January 2012 Leonard family photoshoot. Perhaps my favorite picture of Z and me ever. Why is he trying to snack on me? Hat still going strong.

Last year I had to face facts. The hat was getting horribly stretched out. It was stained and gross and there really wasn’t a good way to clean it. It got me through the winter once again. But I knew I was going to have to do something about it.

stretched out cloche

Stretched out cloche. Photo by Ellie Leonardsmith.

For once I was proactive. I contacted the maker via Etsy last April. By July when I noticed on FB that she was shutting her shop down for a month I got nervous and contacted her again. In September I send another email to her new website as she’d closed the etsy shop and I made one last attempt at the beginning of October. It would seem she does not want to sell me another hat. I think I should have gotten the picture by July, but I hate change and would basically do anything to get a new version of the hat that feels like a second skin to me.

This morning I left a note of utter desperation on the maker’s fb page. But it is time to face facts. The era of the magical handmade cloche is over. I am disproportionately sad about it.

I’m not linking to the maker’s page because I don’t want to be a bitch. She runs a small business and she might be overwhelmed with work. She has no obligation to sell me product. I have no desire to stir the pot of internet meanness.

And it is a silly thing. It’s just a hat. A super expensive hat that I honestly can’t afford right now. Yet as someone who doesn’t put effort into appearance (again fear-if I try to look nice and I still don’t look nice, well, I just don’t want to face that. easier to not try) it really felt like a big deal to me. For once I was making a fashion statement. The hat was saucy and cute. It took balls for me to wear it. Eventually it felt like a piece of armor. It is funny what we cling to, what helps us get through life. That damn hat made me feel like I could face the world.

Next weekend is the annual Salt Market Craft Fair in town. Last year they had hats. Fingers crossed they do again this year and I find something to replace the hat that has seen me through so much-finding out I was pregnant, moving to Syracuse, buying a house, becoming a mother, losing a pregnancy, becoming a mother again, starting school. It’s been a big five years for our family. I wonder what the next five years will bring. I need to find an amazing hat to be my armor and help me face the challenges of life. There has to be another magical hat out there. One that will be my new superhero costume. If I find it next weekend I’ll let you know.

gentle stormtrooper

All photos by Ellie Leonardsmith.

Who knew a stormtrooper could be so gentle?

falling T

Isn’t this one amazing?

jumping C

And this one?

boys on rustophone

Last spring Z was part of a sculpture show at a local art park. He build this structure, which is a bunch of huge musical instruments. Pretty amazing, huh? It’s called the Rustophone and it is what we are sitting on in the new header shot.

Doppelganger

On October first I wore a tank top and flipflops. In Syracuse. We are in the middle of a week of glorious weather–70s in the day, 50s at night. According to my phone it is going to hold at least until Sunday. After dinner every night Z rallies the troops for a walk around the neighborhood. Last night when T whined he did not wanna go Z informed him there will be an evening constitutional until it is too cold to do it, damn it. The “damn it” was implied. Then Z turned to me and commented on our extraordinary weather. “Maybe it will be a mild winter!” “What the fuck is wrong with you? Do you hate America?” I hissed. The “fuck” was implied. But I believe he heard it loud and clear. The number one rule of living in Syracuse is you do not jinx the weather.

As we moseyed down our street Z caught me with a goofy grin on my face. “What?” he asked jerking me out of my daydream.

“Oh, I just saw T’s face for a second as he turned his head.” T was tearing down the block ahead of us on his balance bike. “He looked exactly like a picture of me when I was his age. It still is crazy to me. Before we had kids I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to be able to look at another human and see yourself as a child. It’s a total mindfuck, like two of me decades apart are living in the same moment.” (The boys were out of earshot-“mindfuck” was stated, not implied.)

I glanced over at Z and he was looking rather bemused. “Oh….” I said. “Um, yeah. I still don’t know what that is like.” he grumbled.

I laughed. “Don’t worry,” I reassured him. “Someday I will tell you who their real father is.”

The boys don’t look a thing like Z. Physically they are Cordanos through and through. When C was born and Z got a look at his face his first words were, “It’s another Cordano baby!” My genes are obviously very pushy, much like the rest of me.

photo (11)

Broke out an old photo album and found some shots of me at around 4 years old.

photo (12)

Smiles and a little naked tub action. Being my nudity is more than 30 years old the statute of limitations on embarrassment has expired. Although I cropped out my sister. I remembered rule #1 of the internet-don’t post nudie shots of anyone other than yourself! And why are you posting nudie shots of yourself? Stop it! (I’m ignoring the second part of the rule). You’re welcome B!

photo (13)

T is Amazing. And I do require Special Handling. Man, that was one fine bodysuit.

M&Ms

He is so much like me on the inside as well. Hence the separation of M&Ms before consumption. And the nightmares. And the fear of new things. And the freakouts when anything in his life is out of order. Oh sweet sweet T, I am so very sorry. But I am going to be able to talk you through all of it. You have someone on your side who understands you completely. And honestly, isn’t it awesome to have the ability to stretch out the enjoyment of dessert for 30 minutes?

C had a field trip for school today. We spent the morning at the pumpkin patch. Dude loved it so much he threw an epic tantrum when it was time to leave. He was fearlessly jumping off haystacks. He couldn’t be more different from T. I understand T in my bones, but it sure is fun to have a kid who is up for anything.