7 Quick Takes about My Kids and My Hair

20 December 2013

Quick taking with Jen today because....well because it's Friday, and I might never know that it was Friday if it weren't for the quick takers in my corner of the blogosphere.

- 1 -
Instead of "problem" Jake says "probroom."

"What's the probroom, mama?"

Every time he says it, I think life is awesome.

- 2 -
So Jacob and I have a crush on a couple in our parish, and I'm trying to figure out how to take it to the next level. They're a little older than we are, have more kids, been at the parish longer. They're down to earth and they make us laugh. (Emily, I feel you.) I will appreciate any pointers on securing a dinner invite.

- 3 -
I've been thinking a lot about "how I'm doing" as a mom of two. When Jake was a newborn life was very difficult, but the transition to two has been kind of...wonderful. I feel strange saying that and meaning it, because after Jake was born when I said things like that I was mostly lying, because it wasn't wonderful.

Two littles is hard, certainly. But it's hard in a very entertaining way. I accomplish the smallest of things and I feel so good about it. Granted, the only things that get accomplished are the things that I 100% set my heart on. One day that might be making a dinner that involves something besides baked sweet potatoes. Another day that might be exercising or blogging. So long as I don't TRY to do more than my one or two must dos, I feel pretty good at accomplishing absolutely nothing beyond those things.

And when things get crazy, and everyone is pooping and crying at the same time, I mostly find it amusing. Like I'm living in a reality show or animal planet or something. And I begin to hear a narrator comment on the eccentricity of the human species. I heard the narrator this morning when I was brushing out an embarrassing amount of rats nests in my hair: Today the mother is grooming. The mother typically grooms herself and her offspring weekly. 

I would say we are thriving...in the same clothes as yesterday and last night.

- 4 -
A few days ago, Jake saw me putting some bobby pins in my hair and asked:

"What you doin, mama? You goin to Mass?"

- 5 -
I'm thinking about getting my hair cut because I haven't been to a salon in two and a half years. Yes, it's been two years of half-hearted trims courtesy of my mom. I'm good at some things, but none of them involve "beauty regimens."

For instance, I'm about to replace the mascara that I bought (my mother bought me?) in 2009. And I've been "about to" do this for two months.

I'm wearing a cardigan today that I would very much describe as "new" and I bought it last winter.

I think I feel a new years resolution coming on.

Actually, the last time I cut my hair Jake was about the same age as Lucy June is now. So it must be some kind of postpartum hormone.

Before I end this take I will pose the age old question for you readers: bangs or no bangs?

- 6 -
Jacob spent Tuesday and Wednesday in Vegas with his brothers. He does his best to get together with all his brothers annually for some man time, and I do my best not to be bitter about it/make him feel guilty/complain about birthing a new appendage every two years and send him on his merry way for consecutive days without having to get anyone out of a car seat.

Our fatherless days weren't unbearable though because I took his escape as an excuse to come early to my parents house where I pawn off my children.

Jake wakes up at ungodly hours to eat oatmeal and blueberries with his obliging grandfather while I sleep in till said grandfather goes to work. In the wee hours of Wednesday morning I awoke to some scuffling in the bathroom and I went in to find my dad - in a tie - tackling the Everest of toddler diapers.

I felt so horrible and told him he should have woken me up, and he replied: "Your mother said the same thing."

"It's OK. I mopped this morning."
I love my parents.

- 7 -
And the most newsworthy take, I have saved for last:

Jacob and I signed a lease on a house and we're moving next month. Huzzah!! We decided against buying because we don't know how long we are for Houston. The house we're renting is quite small but it has a great kitchen, a nice backyard, and a garage. So all the ambulant members of the family are content.

More than content really. A real house. A real house that costs the same amount to rent as a our one bedroom apartment in Los Angeles did. I will still have to kick toddler toys out of the way whenever I shower but I won't have to walk up and down stairs to get to my front door.

When we drove up to meet the realtor to sign the lease, we parked and saw that our neighbors had two goats penned in their front yard. Jacob turned to me with the biggest grin and gave me a kiss right there in the driveway. Home sweet home.

Happy Weekend!

[All photo credits go to my husband who has gotten a little snarky about my recent lack of disclosures.]

Blitz Posting During Naptime

17 December 2013

Reporting from my parents' house in Fredericksburg where we will spend these blissful last days before Christmas and before Jacob's work picks up so much I basically won't seem him for two months. Both the kids are sleeping and the internet is working - these things coincide for about five minutes a day at my parents' so I thought I'd jump on the old blog.

I'm currently in a dilemma. My baby is sleeping against my leg and if I leave she will surely wake up, but the dryer just finished and the end of cycle alarm (which I stupidly forgot to turn off) is beeping every few minutes right next to where my toddler is sleeping. There certainly were days in my life where more was on the line and involved much more complex problem solving, but as far as one mother of two littles is concerned: this molehill mountain is basically insurmountable.

Opes. The typing woke baby girl up. She's basically delightful except for when it comes to sleeping. I'll be very cheery about it and just say she's a bit of a princess when it comes to her sleep preferences which are on mama, on mama, or on mama. See. Here you find us as we are now in the glow of my computer screen.

Me. My half asleep candy cane baby. My top knot. And Jesus.

Ok. Ok. My time is running out till my toddler wakes up and I'm feeling some pressure to say something (Anything!) substantial.

Let's see.

So many of you said such nice things about our engagement story, and I'm glad you enjoyed it. Jacob liked it too. He said this about it:

"I like your version of the story more than mine which involved me showing up to your empty house and going to Walmart to buy the torches and my tie. You were SUPER late coming home from your trip, and I was sitting around sweating bullets until I got to go have a very nerve wracking conversation with your dad outside of St. Mary's where he asks me: 'Do you think she'll say yes?' And that made me feel a lot better."

But I did say yes. See:

And with that, my little man is awake which means I have about sixty seconds till he realizes that neither Nana Suzie nor Uncle Robert are home and settles for a post nap hang out with his mother.

The Time We Got Engaged (pt. 3)

14 December 2013

If you're catching up: read part one here and part two here.

We drove home from the creek house on Saturday night. I spent the entire ride tucked in the back seat of my father's truck next to my grandmother. I had a notepad out and I was asking her questions and taking notes about her childhood. (The child of Icelandic immigrants with seventeen siblings has plenty of them.)

We neared Fredericksburg, and my dad said he needed to stop by the clinic. After we dropped him off and headed home, my mother started talking about how he was going to the hospital to do some inductions:

"You know how he does that sometimes, right? I mean, gets some pregnant women started on inductions on Sunday night so he can go in and deliver a couple of babies on Monday morning? You know? Get the week started off right?"

"Sure, mom." I remember thinking how strange it was that my mother was all of a sudden talking about this. (Certainly, labor-talk is all the rage at this point in my life, but as a single 23 year old, I didn't just start up conversations about Pitocin and ripening cervixes.) The fact that my father, who has doctored for 60+ hours a week in this small town for the last thirty years, needed to stop by the clinic had not struck me as strange at all. But this nervous chatty mother of mine...that was unusual.

But again. I was oblivious to the import of the day and to the fact that my dad had actually stopped in town to have a chat with my husband to be. Everyone in that truck knew exactly what was going on, but not me.

As we made our way back to the house, I made some hyperbolic remark about how I hadn't showered all weekend on the river. My grandmother was appalled. I grinned and pushed the scandal - I admitted that I had gone swimming and slept in the t-shirt and gym shorts I was still wearing.

"Well, I hope you don't smell." She said, and my mother quickly changed the subject.

After we got home we began unloading the truck, and I helped with the general bustle of returning from a trip. Soon my grandmother came and got me, and she seemed legitimately concerned about something. She brought me to her house and said there was something strange in the master bedroom (Her master bedroom is like a museum because she's never slept in it and prefers her couch in the den.) She walked me back to the bedroom, pointed to a black suitcase on the floor on the far side of the bed, and asked if I knew who's it was. I told her I'd check, and as soon as I opened the suitcase my eyes settled on a very familiar khaki t-shirt sporting a plaid number 7, and I stopped breathing.

[ASIDE - Now before we go ragging on my grandmother for "ruining" one of the biggest surprises of my life. I will come to her aid and say that even though she knew THAT Jacob was coming and she'd figured out WHY he was coming, the fact that he might have left his stuff at her house to be a little stealthy never occurred to her and in her 88 years was simply confused and concerned. And besides. This is how stories are made.]

So there I was staring at Jacob's clothes and was in complete shock. I stood up and walked out of her house as she repeatedly asked about the suitcase. I couldn't even respond. I didn't understand what was happening. I felt like a wave was engulfing me in slow motion as I walked out onto her porch and across the driveway. Some family friends were there retrieving their daughter who'd come on the creek trip with us. The mom flagged me over to say that she'd just found a picture of me in her Bible from the time we went out on their boat. I smiled, said a few words, and walked away. I headed into the house and wandered through it to the back door and saw my brother who asked if I wanted to go on a run with him. I said sure. I then saw my mother and somehow managed to communicate that I'd just seen Jacob's suitcase at Nan's house. She was quiet for a minute and then said, "I was just about to go out to the garden. Would you like to come with me?" I nodded. We walked out to the garden and looked at the bolting romaine and the tomato plants

I'm giving you all these details because they're all very huge in my memory of this event. You see, I believe this experience has given me a unique insight about insanity. I think - speaking without any authority whatsoever - that an element of going crazy is not being able to put details of experience into a hierarchy. Imagine if you were here with me as I type and everything you saw mattered the same amount and it mattered a lot. The fact that there is taco seasoning and flour residue on the counter and that the muffins are about to burn in the oven and that I am a mother, would all have about the same significance. But they don't, and they shouldn't, and if they did the world would be a very confusing place indeed. You might be suspicious of everything. That's how I experienced the ten minutes between seeing Jacob's suitcase and the moment he drove up.

When Jacob got out of the car with my dad, I ran out of the garden and into his arms. He was surprised to see me galloping toward him since he'd hoped to sneak into my grandmother's. He handled the thwarted surprise pretty well, especially considering I was spewing words at him and making absolutely no sense:

"Robert wants me to go running and he's never asked me to go running ever. And the pepper plants aren't doing well at all. WHY is your suitcase at my grandmother's? And Mrs. Taylor has a picture of me WATER-SKIING in her Bible!!?!"

He looked down at me and brushed the matted creek hair from my forehead and told me to go inside and that he'd come get me in a few minutes.

I went inside and started to collect myself. My head was beginning to clear, and I began to embrace what was happening. I sat in the living room with my mother for awhile before going into my bedroom to be alone and to pray.

Jacob was back in about fifteen minutes dressed to the nines. He took my hand and walked me away from the house. We walked around back, out of the yard, and along the stretch of land along the creek. We went through a cluster of bushes and turned a corner, and I could see a circle of torches Jacob had lit underneath an old oak tree. The tree sits high on the banks of where the two creeks on the property meet. To get there we had to hike through some tall cactus ridden grass. Jacob picked me up and carried me.

And so we walked through the evening. Jacob in a shirt and tie and me in his arms in my creek attire. He set me down in the middle of all the torches and got down on one knee. He held up the loveliest of rings and said a couple things that I forgot almost immediately before he said:

"Katherine Suzanne Ramsay, will you marry me?"

I remember breathing in this moment. I loved how he'd said my whole name, how he'd summoned every syllable of me. How perfect this moment. The cicadas and the warm August night, the glow of the torches and the small bouquets of white daisies and baby's breath secured to each one. I couldn't believe this was happening. One of the biggest moments of my -

"So?" said the man still kneeling down.

And my eyes widened in embarrassment. I had one line in this whole charade, and I'd missed my cue. I blurted out "Oh! Um. Yes. YES!"

He stood up and put a ring on my finger - the same ring his grandfather had given his grandmother years and years ago.

Thanks for reading! Happy weekend!

The Time We Got Engaged (pt. 2)

13 December 2013

Catch up with part one here, and I promise to be done with this whole charade by tomorrow!

So I flew home after my work in Princeton finished that summer and took a trip with my family to our creek house in south Texas. It's a standard late August trip for us that we take with a group of family friends. The day my mother and I would move me to Los Angeles was only a week away, and I was apprehensive about getting the details straightened out, but I was enjoying some much needed time to relax on the river under the pecan trees.

One night on the trip I was playing Cribbage with my grandmother Nana June and she told me there was a surprise back home and she wasn't going to tell me what it was. She didn't say that the surprise was for me, and I assumed it was something involving her dog Duchess because well...most of her news involved Duchess.

She teased me for the rest of the weekend about this surprise, and I made a few guesses to humor her, but I didn't have an inkling of what the surprise was, and honestly didn't think I would care about it as much as she seemed to think I would. My brain was mostly preoccupied by this HUGE move to Los Angeles I was about to make and the fact that I would soon be reuniting with my boyfriend and all those good things.

One of the family friends on the trip was a girl we shall call Elizabeth. Elizabeth and I grew up together but we hadn't connected in a while, so she and I spent most of the trip chatting and watching our brothers cliff jump, shoot gar, and throw poison ivy at each other.

Elizabeth actually wasn't supposed to come on this trip. She was supposed to have moved six weeks before to South Carolina where her boyfriend lived. But, no, they had broken up...I got the story in detail.

She and her mother had packed up her whole life and shuttled her half way across the country so she could live closer to her serious boyfriend. Long drives with mothers apparently make for lots of good soul-searching or something because when she arrived she told her mother to go sit in the moving van while she went in and broke up with Mr. Not Right. They then turned the van around and drove right back to Texas.

She was still a little emotional about it, but she was certain she'd done the right thing. It had been hard, and she found out afterwards that he'd been planning on proposing, like had a diamond in his pocket when she waltzed in and ended things.

As you can imagine, the timing of this made it the scariest story I'd ever heard.

My mother and I were T-5 days from taking basically the exact same trip except we would be heading west on I-10 while they had headed east. I was a total deer in headlights. Complete inner turmoil. I mean, did I need a bigger sign? What did it mean?? Why would God let me encounter this most awful of stories right before I embarked on one that was so similar??

Eventually I stopped freaking out for long enough to answer Elizabeth's queries about me and Jacob. I told her about how awful long distance dating had been, about my plan to move to LA, and about how we wanted to discern the next step in our relationship.

And she interrupted, "Wait, you're not sure you want to marry this guy?"

I immediately felt very awkward and stumbled through some explanation about how we were still figuring things out and how our need to answer that question was precisely why I was moving to LA. Blah blah blah. I fed her all the things I'd been feeding myself over the past months about our situation.

As I listened to myself I began to understand the truth: I just didn't think Jacob was there yet.

Jacob never brought up matrimony except to tease. No questions about my ring size or strange contact with my father. No engaged in the fall married in the spring conversations. If anything, in recent months we'd spoken about it less than previously. I just plumb didn't think he was ready to marry me, and I really wanted us to be on the same page, therefore I wasn't ready to marry him either. So I routinely, methodically, and even therapeutically had been pushing that question out of my mind.

Because of course I wanted to marry him. I was just trying to be chill and go with the flow. It was a strange and even brave realization for me, and I blurted out. "Well, I mean, if he were to show up on my doorstep tomorrow with a ring I'd say yes."

I don't remember where the conversation went after that but I was simply making a point.

And THAT is another set-up.

Pay off tomorrow friends, because this mama is supposed to be sleeping.

(Part three here)

That Time We Got Engaged (pt. 1)

12 December 2013

There's no reason I'm posting this now other than that it's the holidays and I'm sentimental. If you haven't read our love story you can read part one here and part two here.

If you're hankering for a honey rush you can score some of ours in the giveaway that ends tonight.


Our engagement story of course begins long before the day we got engaged. So this whole installment has ended up as one big prologue. Apologies.

Jacob and I spent the year after college long distance. I headed off to sew my semi-wild oats abroad, and he to make a way for himself stateside.

My year in Italy was half-amazing, half-horrible.

I was training to run the Rome marathon, a race that my dear friend, two brothers, and dad were all running with me. I taught at an English language school in a job that still ranks as my favorite ever. I ate pizza every day for lunch and got paid every Friday with an envelope full of cash. I lived in a converted garden shed in a seaside town and rode a train every day along the Mediterranean.

And I missed Jacob.

All the time.

He, meanwhile, was in Portland at his mom’s house. He painted houses and interned at a local TV station. By March he landed a six-week gig that took him to Hollywood. By the end of that gig he’d scored a full time job and looked to be staying in sunny Southern California.

By April, we were at a crossroads. I was about to move back to the US for a summer job in Princeton, and after that I didn't know where I was going. But I knew one thing: I couldn't handle long distance dating anymore. We needed to live closer together or break up. So we talked about it long and hard and decided that I should move to LA. He’d landed there at least for a while, and even though I’d never even been to California and I didn’t have a job or a place to live, I was planning on packing up all my belongings and heading West in August as soon as my summer job in New Jersey wrapped up.

In Princeton that summer, I worked for a seminar program and basically spent the whole summer drinking Sam Adams and white wine out of plastic cups while solving the world’s problems with this (courageous) lady and another of my good friends from college. 

One morning the three of us were on campus, and I don’t remember who brought the magazine or what it was or any of it except that we all ended up taking a “What Type of Engagement Ring Are You?” Quiz – I’m fuzzy on the details honestly, but that doesn’t usually stop storytellers, so I won’t let it stop me.

Taking such a quiz was tempting fate, and I certainly wasn’t inclined to do so. My friends prodded me about how close Jacob and I were to getting engaged, and I back-pedaled big time. I was moving to Los Angeles IN ORDER to see if MAYBE PERHAPS we were supposed to POTENTIALLY get engaged. Jacob and I didn’t talk about marriage. I mean, we’d tease each other about it mercilessly. We both were very clear about each other’s habits that would have to go if/when we tied the knot and we'd started naming our future children, but we never talked about it FOR REAL.

Of course, we were in a relationship and were “serious” or whatever, but Jacob had never brought up a marriage or engagement timeline, and so I never did either.

Anyway, I took the stupid quiz, and I was like 100% an heirloom ring.

This was no surprise. No surprise at all. I’m a tightwad who reuses the mesh bags her garlic comes in, so you can imagine how much my stomach lurched at the idea of someone spending actual $$$$ on a diamond. And heirloom rings are vintage and full of sentimental value and all those wonderful things…

But what if Jacob didn’t have an heirloom ring? And he almost certainly didn't. My life would of course be ruined without a true heirloom ring. After all, the magazine had merely confirmed the murky things that were already written on my schoolgirlish heart and poor Jacob couldn’t do a thing about it.

He also was just starting a new job and was paying off loans and certainly had no money for a ring, so NO and NO we wouldn't be getting engaged anytime soon, and did I mention he NEVER breathed a hint of a word about it? So after the stupid quiz I stopped thinking about it. I was moving to LA and that was big enough for now.

I continued my job in Princeton with my buddies; Jacob and I had our weekly phone and beer dates with occasional stolen conversations and texts on the off days; and the summer ended. 

That's where I'm leaving you with this installment, but I will say that the heirloom ring detail - I know this from all the screenwriting talk I’ve been subjected to over the years - is what you call a set-up.

Night Night

10 December 2013

Someday, little Lucy June, you will be two years old. And our evenings together will be very different.

Can I be two minutes? Can I be two minutes? Please. Please. PLEASE. NO NO NO. It's not night night time. It's just wake time. I want to run around. Can I be two minutes running around? No, I want my monster pants not my map pants. Not my map pants. Only my monster pants.

Tell me an ocean story. Tell me an ocean story. Tell me an ocean story about the helicopter and the giant fishes. Lie down with me for two minutes. Lie down with me. Lie down with me, Mama. Door open. Door closed. Door open. Door closed. Put a blanket on me. Put a green blanket on me. No No. Only the fuzzy one. Put a fuzzy blanket on me. My toesies. My toesies. Put a blanket on me.

Put some water in my sippy cup. Put some cold water in it. Put some just some nice cold water in it. I'm wet. I'm WET. I'm just wet on my shirt. Ouchy ouchy. I got a ouchy, mama. My knee is ouchy. Put some water on it. Put some water on my knee. Mommy mama mommy mama mommy mama mommy mommy.

Mommy mama. Mommy mommy.

I have a poopoo.

7 Quick Takes Saturday (with a GIVEAWAY!!!)

07 December 2013

Joining Jen as I dust off the long forgotten blog today to pull some quick takes out of my magic bag of unproductivity.

-1 -
I just don't have any staying power anymore. I do things. I just don't finish things. So far I have about eight unfinished drafts in blogger. A half done baby bonnet and blanket for Lucy June. Four gifts for new moms in various stages of completeness (this one kills me...to those moms: when you have a nine month old and you get a target gift card in the mail from me, know that I had something much more personal in the works but it is still in three pieces and has unfortunately been consigned to the graveyard of my craft bag.)

- 2 -
Jacob just walked into our quiet house as I sit here blogging with a baby asleep on my chest and another asleep in a bedroom. He asked me how it was going, and I said that I felt badly that I hadn't blogged in so long.

"Yeah. Your readers are starving." And then he started cracking up.

He's always such an encouragement.

The other day I asked him to change a toddler diaper because I was a bit of an invalid after a kitchen mishap left me with an impressive gash on my left thumb.

He whisked the toddler away and said: "Remember when mama got an excuse on her finger?"

- 3 -
Update on Firstborn

Recently Jakeboy and I had the following conversation:

Jake (to me): "You don't have horns? You just have ears?"
Me: "No, I don't have horns."
Jake: "You're not a cow?"
Me: ...

- 4 -
Update on Secondborn

Lucy June has started smiling. It's the dearest thing ever and maybe we'll get a picture of it one of these days.

- 5 -
In an effort to tie some of the loose ends that probably only I care about in my little life. Here are the pictures from the Thanksgiving post I never wrote.

The carver and the vultures.
The gravy makers

Boston 2014
- 6 -
I did however get the lion's share of our Christmas shopping done by Advent. I'll just gloat about that for a second because it makes me feel like a rockstar. Admittedly, this has been a goal of mine every year since I got married, and I only managed to come close to the goal this year. So I probably should just get on down off that high horse, but I won't. Nope nopity nope. Because I've even started wrapping. Earlier this week I dusted off my crafty pants, and I tore apart and flattened some brown shopping bags and set the toddler to decorating them. Red white green paint + wine corks + potato stamp.

And here's how they turned out:

- 7 -
And finally. The giveaway. Today The Rhodes Log is hosting its first ever giveaway of some of Jacob's homegrown honey. I'm also throwing in some homemade chai tea mix because we're mildly obsessed with chai tea and it makes the honey seem more giftable.

A few months ago I had the charming idea to give some honey away on the blog, and then I thought -- like the good little Catholic that I am -- that we could give the honey away on the feast day for the patron saint of beekeepers. I discovered that the patron saint of beekeepers is the relatively well known St. Ambrose.

And his feast day is none other than today. The infamous December 7th. Which also happens to be the birthday of our very own beekeeper.

Happy Birthday, my love. I made you a pie.
I thought the coincidence was too good to pass up, so here I have pulled myself out of my diaper changing stupor to giveaway some honey. In honor of both St. Ambrose's feast day and my husband's birthday.

So if you want to win some of this magical honey and chai, just leave a comment on this post telling me how you would use it (put it in your tea, drizzle it in your yogurt, give it to your grandmother, etc). I even wrangled a Rafflecopter widget because I'm fancy like that.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Now go visit Jen to catch the more timely takers.
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