June 30, 2009


In becoming a mother, I have become a person I no longer recognize. I depart the house on the weekends without so much as a glance in the mirror. I arrive at a destination (e.g., the mall or the park - as IF there are any other destinations at this point) only to discover: stains on my shirt and poo in my hair. I sit at playgrounds instead of Starbucks, and I scour the sale racks of the Children's Place instead of Nordstrom.

Every Friday my legal assistant asks without fail: "Oh, Meredith do you have any exciting plans for the weekend?" I look at her, over my glasses, and then, as if she realizes she broached a sad subject of conversation or stuck a fork in an electrical outlet, this look of horror overcomes her face. She recoils and says, "Oh, sorry. The mall or the park. I know. Your exciting weekend."
And she does. She's only been working with me for about six months, and she knows.

As a mother... I no longer recognize who I am, and who I have become. On Fridays, I used to enjoy sharing a giant bottle of wine with my husband, after which we'd retreat to our separate couches, where I'd write poetry or work on my latest "novel" and he'd finish up a movie on TiVo or work on his latest work project. At the end of the night, we'd retreat to goodnight together. TMI?

I used to know exactly who I was. But I must note, that in those moments of recognition, I was lost. At that time, I would declare "I am (fill in the blank - a law student, a writer, a lawyer, a photographer)." In those moments of recognition, I was a person who I did not respect. And that's the funny part.

Now, twenty pounds heavier than I "should" be and fifty pounds heavier than Hollywood would even cast someone to play the "fat chick," with body parts all over the place, all of my Citizens and Seven jeans long sold on Ebay (because, hello, they don't fit), I find myself to be more of myself than ever.

I no longer recognize myself, and for that, I am immeasurably thankful. Turns out... I didn't like myself so much. I like myself much better at the mall, with my giant double stroller, and cookie crumbs all over James, my shirt (and my face). Turns out... life is more fun with a temper-tantrum-toddler and a six-month old who poops all over her brand new bloomers. Someone without children inevitably calls bullshit on this. But, it's the truth.

Before James and Stella, I possessed a guarded nature of selfishness. And while I'm not one hundred percent certain what that means... I do know that this person I do not recognize, is the exact person I want to be. I love my James Monkey and Stella Bell more than anything/anyone in this world.

While it does not makes sense, the fact that children are such changing factors in one's life... it makes life. And life, my dear friends, may be sleepy. But it's good.

June 27, 2009

Hell on Wheels

We went to the train museum today in Duluth for the "Locomotive Celebration." I am silently laughing, because the only folks celebrating...were the workers....when the Atwood family left.

This was the first of the fits.

For starters, it was one hundred degrees outside, sun reflecting off every dark steel surface. Stella was red as a beet in her little stroller, and James... well, James melted down the second we hit the pavement. I managed several photo ops, which in the history of the photo albums will look like we had a really great time. Hooray!

In theory, the train museum was a good idea. However, in practice - perhaps not the best place for a 20 month old in the dead of summer.

Granted, I truly believe that James tried to like it. But it was just so hot. The first of the "fits" started at the ticket booth. Who knows what the problem there was.
To his credit, I'm not sure if he appreciated what we "were trying to do for him" - to him, it was hotter than hell. Hell on wheels. Train wheels. And there was no 1) goldfish, 2) bears or 3) monkeys. He was over it.

Jason next tried the train ride. Ha ha ha. Not even up the stairs, and James is screaming "mommy mommy mommy" and I do not know why... he could give a rip about what I'm doing most of the time.

And then there's sweet Stella. Not a peep the entire day. Thank goodness.
She must like trains.

So the Atwood family feigned fun around the place, blazing through the "arts and crafts" station, "Uh, yeah sure, he'd love a train sticker" (yet, James is screaming while the nice lady tries to give him one).
Mind you, this is the kid who screams "Thomas! Thomas!" demanding to watch episode after episode of Thomas the Train and Friends. Whatever.

Moments like these, I swear, I am not cut out to be a parent. I think Jason was on the same wavelength.

And then there's sweet Stella... who's hot and sticky and smiling, and I'm thinking: what in the world gives? How can the littlest one be perfectly happy, irrespective of the heat, and James is throwing himself on the pavement, screaming?

I give up. Parenting. I deep down believe that children are the very greatest gift...
And then sometimes, parenting is, well....sometimes, it's just hell on wheels.

Choo choo.

June 24, 2009


So James apparently knows how to count. To nineteen. A nice surprise today.


"Five" and "Ten" are apparently missing. And everything in the teens is "ahteen." But who's counting? That's right - James is!

"How many ears does Sissy have, James?"
He looks at Stella, and points to each ear, "One. Three."

"How many ducks are in this book?"
"One. Eight. El-ven." Nice.

Yes. Impressed. I know you are.

June 22, 2009

Working from Home

So I had to leave work early today (sick nanny and sick baby), which was a bit of a tough deal, since this week is starting off with a bang. It happens. And we all know what "it" is. Nevertheless, I have managed, over the course of the last two hours to accomplish quite a bit.

While feeding Stella and bearing down on a copy of "Green Eggs and Ham" (a masterpiece book, useful in more ways than simple child's reading or fine storytelling after six beers), I finalized a complaint for filing tomorrow. I prepared James' grilled cheese while sending several emails about a problem file. When Stella conked out asleep, I fed James and searched for missing documents in a giant file (found em!). While I was searching and he was supposed to be eating, James grabbed my blackberry, and I snatched it promptly from him, saying as I always do: "Whoa, not yours, you're crazy." To which he repeated: "Phone. Craaaazy." Yup, you got that right.

Now, they are both asleep, which means I could have as little as one hour, and as many as three hours to work. Hooray!

I'm now scarfing down my first food of the day (cold oatmeal), thrown together in the thirty seconds after putting the wild monkey (aka "sweet baby James") down for his nap.

So I think, why not try to blog, work, and drive myself crazy, all at once? Afterall, why would I savor the peace and quiet, even for six seconds? Because I'm a nut, that's why. Peace and quiet does not work for me. Not that I'm complaining. I got myself into this "mess." And what a glorious, divine and beautiful mess it is.

Good Help is Hard to Find

Just a few more years... and I won't be needing that maid service afterall.

Moo ha ha.

June 20, 2009

Happy Father's Day

Fatherhood is pretending the present
you love most is soap-on-a-rope.
- Bill Cosby

Happy Father's Day to the wonderful fathers in my life.

To my husband: who is the greatest father of two I know. I grow to love you more with each second, and when I see you holding our children, I cannot help but be in awe of you.

James thinks you are the funniest person on the planet, and Stella looks at you, with a look of knowing exactly who are you, and what you mean to her.

To my dad: there are no words to tell you how much I love you, and how thankful I am for the father you have always been, and the "Papa" you are growing to be.

To Papooh: the great gift-giver of "Peng," James' favorite stuffed animal ever. Thank you for always being there at every event, at every milestone in our lives. You are the best grandfather a gal could have asked for.

To Alex: You're the father of the man I love. I thank you for Jason each and every day. Without you, I wouldn't have Jason, and I wouldn't have my wonderful babies. Thank you.

To PaPa Atwood: The "first" of the James... thank you for such a wonderful name, a name which my son can always carry proudly.

And last, but certainly, not least - to Larry: our adoptive father. Thanks for always lending a truck, a hand, or a beer. We love and miss you.

Thank you all for the men you are. I hope you have a wonderful Father's Day.


June 15, 2009

Twist in Miniature

Tonight, right before bed, we had a family of four "dance party" to Music Choice on cable.

First song was "Jungle Love," and James was not one-hundred percent convinced. He stomped around a little, but really just ended up throwing a fit or two.
The second song - the blessed Frank Sinatra with "New York, New York." With an unconvinced look on his face, I scooped that boy up, and we waltzed-foxtrotted-tangoed (as if I know how to really do any of that) across the living room, around the coffee table one hundred times, and up and down the hallway a hundred more.
Jason had Stella, and the father-daughter pair were performing a fantastic disco and cha-cha number (again, as if he knows either of those moves). Out of breath and laughing hysterically, "New York, New York" ended with Stella dozing on Jason's shoulder and James in a pile of laughter on the floor.

I thought, this is it. This is what "it" is all about. The "it" being family, motherhood, life, and the reason for it all.

I bathed Stella, and carried her up the sixteen stairs (yes, I have counted) to her room for the rocking dance and bottle. We two gals pass by Jason throwing (yes, literally, throwing) James into the tub, along with the Thomas the Train Tugboat, and laughter over screams of "Thomas! Thomas! Daddy! Monkey!"

Stella and I begin the nightly ritual, where I rock and feed her in the dimming quiet of her room, while listening to the whir of the fan and also enjoying a book. These are the sacred thirty quiet minutes we have together, and we are both exhausted. She eats with her eyes closed, winding down after her long and busy day as a growing little girl, and I listen to the "gulp gulp gulp" sound, rock rock rock her, turning page after page in the only pleasure reading that exists for a mom with new babies (except the "throne," but even throne reading is cut short these days by banging on the door or fingers shoving washcloths under the door).

During this time, Stella holds my pinky, pats my hand or I rub her foot, kiss that precious receding hairline. It seems as if I would be "out" of hands (with the reading, petting, feeding, etc), but I'm not. With the birth of Stella, I grew an extra set. Unlike the less-than-perky boobs, an extra set of hands is a beneficial side-effect of child number two.

As Stella finishes up her bottle, and I reach the halfway point in the less-than-literary My Sister's Keeper, my eyes pass over the words:

"Goldfish get big enough only for the bowl you put them in. Bonsai trees twist in miniature. I would have given anything to keep [my children] little. The [children] outgrow us so much faster than we outgrow them."

Amen to that. I will be chasing after James, begging for a dance to "New York, New York" in only a few short years. Stella will be too cool for my kisses, in probably four years. And such is the way it goes. But for now, I won't think about it - we'll dance, snuggle and kiss all over each other. They outgrow us so much faster than we outgrow them. And that's what will break my heart... and that's the way it should be.
Love to you all,

June 13, 2009


Look at me. Look at my dirty house. This is a 7:00 pm, Saturday, babies are in need of being put to bed, dirty house. Look at the Christmas decoration on the floor near the television - James loves to play with it, and I let him (hello, people - it's June).

Look at my mismatched clothes, and my hair (is that a leaf, I see?). Look at the bouncy seat, precariously placed on the coffee table, the lampshade cooked.
Look at James riding my deflated belly like a lazy horse, while I try to read to him (a book that he brought to me, said "book" and then plopped down on me with a crushing blow). And he's watching something probably completely inappropriate on tv ("my children will never watch tv.")

Look at this zoo, this freakshow. Tickets are available online... (Do do do do, dee dee do do - can you hear the music?)

While some mornings I wake up, and I cannot remember what day it is... I can honestly tell you (with a straight face) that I love this life, this love I have, these precious and most perfect babies.

This is my freakshow, and I think it's the greatest.

Love to you all -

PS - donations in support of the freakshow are always welcome, can be made out to "Atwood Family Freakshow" and are tax deductible.

Stella Works the Exersaucer

James Says Frog (Kinda)


June 10, 2009

Safe in my Home

Someone (or someTHING) broke into our cars over the weekend, taking our spare change (ripping out my ashtray and carting it off, in the process), some odds and ends, and a car title. I learned my lesson about having a car title in the glove box. Thank you, I need no comments on that.

All irritation and general ticked-offed-ness aside, this incident has lit me up. They also took our garage door opener. And to me, this means...they intended to come back. And to me, this means that they could have harmed my children.

To the hoodlums that broke into our cars: My father is donating a gun to the Atwood house cause for safety. The fact, that because of your stupidity, greed, and utter lack of control or respect for property that does not belong to your stupid face, I can no longer feel truly safe in my home, in my driveway, and I thank you. The fact that I worry about the door locks to our home being broken, and am tormented by the fact that I cannot afford this second to purchase window treatments across six giant back windows...and now, I am feeling terribly scared because of this, I thank you.

You just better hope that once this shiny new revolver is in my possession, that I do not catch your dumbass(es) standing in my driveway in the middle of the night, clicking the garage door opener you hold in your worthless, smelly, sweaty hand. Ka-pow.

It ain't just me anymore. I've got two people way more important than me. And as long as I can breathe, I will make sure no harm comes to them. No matter the cost. The parental insanity has begun. You have all been advised accordingly.

June 5, 2009

Pool. No.

"James, do you want to get in the pool?"


"Like the ducky, do you want to get in the pool? You can swim. You can go swimming."


"Yes, do you want to go swimming?"


"You can sit down in the pool. There you go. Just sit down."
"Good! You did it."


(He eventually liked it. A little. I still predict, that kid will be swimming like a fish by July 4th.

So we do this "smmim-ing" for a while, and then I look at him, and he's very still, and making "the" face. Uh-oh. Poop. In the pool. Ew. My biggest pre-parently fear. The poopy, pool diaper. Here we go.

"James. Did you go poopy?"

"No." (Yes, he did.)

Hence the picture with no pants. In the pool. Smmim-ming.

And sweet, lovely Princess Stella, watching it all, and cracking up. Although I can never, absolutely never, catch her in the act of cracking up in a picture. She's too wise for that.

June 1, 2009


I am bilingual. I speak English. And I speak James (pron. "ha-maze").

I understand that aircraft, is actually, hairbrush.

Debbies (does not mean snack-cake) but means not only strawberries, but also umbrella. Mote is clearly remote. And fun, can of course, be fun or phone.

Happy and puppy may mean the same thing, depending upon the context and which way the finger is pointing.

Dress means shirt. But shirt never means dress. Button are buttons, and also snaps.

Bubbles. Well now, bubbles is a tough one, because it's like the wildcard in poker. If in doubt, you've got a bubble. Bubbles can mean an actual bubble, but also a dot, spot, circle, freckle, the store "Target" or anything that is not identified in James language yet. Most recently, bubble was a man with a visor.

All "s" words are pronounced with the appropriate cross of precious lisp and utter conviction: buggies, bees, cheese and sissy, to name a few.

The word mouse is alot like bubble, in the sense that it's the animal wildcard. A rabbit, squirrel or donkey can be a mouse, anything with ears and fur may be catagorized as a mouse. Please note, however, that a mouse is never incorrectly identified as a rabbit, squirrel or donkey... a true mouse, is always a mouse. If you follow. Maybe not.

Nap is a joke. He says, nap, to which I respond: James, do you want to nap. And he then says "no." So you see, nap is meaningless. Kinda like "blah blah blah" in English.

And on and on it goes, through the well-over hundred of words that James now knows.

Of course, he's loud and clear with hat. That's his most recent favorite word. Now, if he could only say "dang, this hat is especially hot in 89 degree weather, but I insist on wearing it, and it's not my mother's fault." Then, we'd be talking.

Footnote: hat may also be anything placed upon one's head. For example, as noted in a previous blog entry, an apple placed upon one's head... clearly becomes a hat.