My stepfather accuses me frequently of spending my days dressing up Livy in different outfits, laughing, taking pictures of her, and then starting all over again. Usually when he does this I defend myself by saying that she's a semi-professional puker (Look out cheer squad/sorority/pageant circuit!) or by retelling the horror stories of diaper blowouts past.
Today, though, he's right. We're heading to Maui in a couple of days, and I needed - NEEDED - to make sure that her swimwear fit and was in proper condition for her beach debut. Also, I was bored.
So here we have swimsuit #1. It's a delightful striped number with a corsage centered at the bustline and a discreet ruffle for hip modesty. Grandma Snyder bought this for Livy when she was roughly 30 seconds old, because Grandma Snyder has a shopping addiction likes to be prepared.
Next, we have Livy's obligatory two-piece, which I bought for her in a mad bikini panic before Christmas. It's cute without being overly girly, and, unlike most options, it's not 1) pink, or 2) slutty. Oh, yes, I said slutty. You'd be surprised how many baby clothing designers seem to find the illusion of infantile sexual availability appropriate and marketable. It's gross, but this isn't:
I do love this one most of all, but, alas, it doesn't fit. Unbelievably, and unlike any other garment we own, it is too big for her. I forgot to account for Lycra's stretchiness when I chose the size. Dammit.
Then, we have the most geographically relevant choice, this palm-tree-bedecked suit that she received from her Oma and Opa for Christmas. SLB and I swore that it would be too small on her, but, as usual, we were wrong. It fits like a glove.
... or raving lunatic? You make the call.
Finally, we have Olivia Lee's favorite swimsuit pick of all. It's a risky choice, primarily for other swimmers, but she insists that it will work.
It's a tough day here at Me Show Central. Our car was broken into last night, and the ensuing hassle has sucked up a lot of time, energy, and mirth this morning. The urge to let this ruin the day is almost insurmountable, but I'll fight it with a happy blog post. Just a spoonful of sugar, whistle while you work, make lemonade, etc. You get it. You're smart people.
So here's my least-expected happiest moment of the Christmas holiday this year. On the 23rd I had to leave the house so that SLB could wrap my presents, so I took Livy to the lake for a late afternoon walk. It was a lovely day - perfectly crisp and perfectly bright. It was the kind of winter day we're not supposed to have here in the land of legendary rain, and everyone at the lake was in a good mood because of the holiday and the sunshine.
Even the ducks, who had congregated for a little pre-holiday cocktail party, seemed pleased.
Is it racist to say that they all look alike to me?
The chubby munchkin is getting used to hats, and she was gleeful to get a little fresh air and a trip out of the house.
We had the opportunity to create our own clothing tree, too. I found this hat lying on the ground and made a hat tree. Voila! It was magical.
Be well, little hat! I hope you find your friends soon!
I'm usually irritated by what I call the "mandatory whimsy" of the northwest. We're the kind of people who will paint our houses purple, overuse artisanal lawn ornaments, and glue any number of toys and found objects to our cars, presumably in an attempt to thwart the Seasonal Affective Disorder that holds us all in its oppressive grip. Because I am Seasonal Affective Disorder personified, this generally just pisses me off. But I liked this:
Purple houses? Thumbs down. Folksy, neighbor-decorated tree? Thumbs WAY up!
All in all, it was a lovely walk. The sunset was gorgeous...
Which is cute and everything, especially because it is, as a celebration of the temporary, ephemeral. It can be profoundly lovely to be big and pregnant, and that loveliness can be enjoyed in many artistic ways. Unfortunately, not all can we washed off after use. Because, you see, the next logical step after washable tummy art is this:
And what in the hell do you do with that afterward? It's big, it's awkward, and it's plaster, which collects dust like no one's business. I can't wait until Niecy Nash finds one of these on Clean House and gives us viewers at home a manly, whorishly made-up arched eyebrow in disapproval. This takes the celebration of fertility to an impractical and self-indulgent new level. And, unfortunately, the impulse behind this albatross is fundamentally similar to the motivation for this:
And that, my friends, is a teddy bear made out of dried and stitched human placenta. Now, before you get all culturally relativist on me and start spouting patchouli-scented undergraduate nonsense about cultures in which placentas are revered, planted, and even eaten, may I just say this: GROSS. Gross, gross, gross. Gross. It's irrefutable, so save your self-righteous breath for your American Spirits and/or bong.
So, please pregnant women, think long and hard before you paint that belly. It's a slippery slope from body paint to placenta pals, and the world is horrific enough without afterbirth buddies. Let your baby be the souvenir of your birth if you aren't lucky enough to have long-lasting pregnancy weight gain and postpartum stretchmarks. Your child should be reminder enough.
SLB is on the floor playing with Livy as we wind down from Baby's Fourth First Christmas. Josie and the Pussycats is on the TV. Mama's full of roast beef and red wine. Olivia grabs SLB's lips closed to prevent his continuing a robust rendition of "Kokomo" at the top of his lungs. Then she giggles, wiggles, and squeals with delight as he changes his tune to a self-written ditty whose lyrics consist only of the words "Livy is a scallop!" repeated over and over again.
As some of you know, SLB and I come from tragically broken homes (cue the violins and/or after school special theme music). This means that we each have two families to visit on Christmas and have been living the dream of the mediocre movie Four Christmases for years. To alleviate some of the pressure of multiple Christmases on two days (the 24th and 25th, duh), my mom and stepdad agreed to host an early fake Christmas yesterday. As I think my stepdad is the only religious person among any of our parents and therefore actually holds the holiday as holy, this officially makes him a saint. Maybe one day I'll include him among my pantheon of hot nuns. I'm sure he'd like that.
I would include a photo of him here, except that he was too busy handing out our presents and making us our dinner. Like I said, the guy's a saint.
So, instead of middle-aged-man pics, I'll post pictures of a cute baby. I'm sure this is a win for everyone involved.
Livy was thoroughly spoiled and received numerous wonderful gifts. Her favorite, though, was the crinkly mylar wrapping paper that the gifts came in. Yeah. She likes garbage.
Trashbaby says "So shiny! So crinkly!"
In addition to refuse, Olivia also received a gigantic set of plastic links, some of her very favorite toys. So, in accordance with sacred yuletide tradition, we turned her into Flavor Flav.
A bow on the baby's head? Check. A closeup of Mama's postpartum, postcheeseplate, posthollandaise belly? Check.
You wanna say something? Give me an excuse. Say it. SAY IT!
After a quick costume change (Spitup AND pee. What a thorough girl!), Olivia developed a deep and abiding love for her new friend, Glowworm. She was so enthralled with Glowworm that she couldn't even smile. She only stared and made amazed fish faces at her new sweetheart.
My friend, how I love you!
It was as if Olivia had found God in that luminous round face, which, given the season, is only appropriate. Maybe my stepdad got his Christmas wish after all, just a few days early and symbolized by the most bizarre of graven images imaginable.
1. You already know about my delight in the Mariners signing Chone Figgins, my favorite funny-named baseball player, but did you also know that Milton Bradley, my 3rd favorite funny-named baseball player, just signed to become a Mariner, too? Viva! Viva! Now we only need the Royals' Coco Crisp (#2 with a bullet) to become a Mariner, and my baseball life will be complete.
With the talent and the disposition to suit his name: Milton Bradley
2. I completely forgot that Susan Sarandon played Sister Helen Prejean in Dead Man Walking.
Now that is one hot nun supreme, friends. I'm in a good position to judge, too, because she was my first client when I was selling rare books on Madison Avenue. She was perfectly luminous even in yoga pants and a puffy coat, and she smelled like an angel. I am embarrassed to have left her off of the hot nun list. Please, Ms. Sarandon, forgive me this oversight. I know not what I do.
Jennifer Jones, Oscar winner for The Song of Bernadette died today at age 90.
Because The Song of Bernadette played late at night at least once a week during my high school "Summer of Insomnia," that movie means something to me. I'm not sure what it means, though. I don't particularly like the movie, but I have seen it a number of times and so have an affinity for it. It's like family; you don't have to like it, but you do have to love it.
What always struck me about the movie was the struggle it so often had with itself in presenting Bernadette as a pure young woman touched by the spirit of the Lord when Hollywood films generally require their leading ladies to exude some kind of sex appeal. Bernadette is, by the very nature of her character in the film, entirely sexless. And yet Jennifer Jones's dark-haired, ivory-skinned beauty is reminiscent of a dewy, budding adolescent Snow White, to say nothing of the perky rack on display in her oddly tight "modest" bodices.
Now, a smart person would explore the complicated connections between passion and Passion, the exquisite agony of sacrificing for God and the exquisite agony of more carnal pleasures - especially the sexual nature of so many of the female saints' passions. But I am not a smart person.
So, instead, in honor of Ms. Jones's passing, I give you famous hot nuns from Hollywood's past:
Audrey Hepburn in The Nun's Story - the little black dress of hot nuns. The alluring gaze in this photo is especially disturbing.
Ingrid Bergman in The Bells of St. Mary's - alarmingly square-jawed, "free-love cultist" hot nun. Somehow the wimple ruins all the loveliness wrought by the jauntily off-center lady-fedora in Casablanca.
Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music - spinning, singing hot nun. Yeah, "hot" might be stretching it until you consider both Andrews's gender-bending in Victor/Victoria and her defiant boob flash in S.O.B. Twisted, under-the-radar hot.
Amy Adams in Doubt - contemporary, ironically raised Mormon hot nun. Double the Godliness for double the hotness.
Hello, friends! Olivia Lee here with a message of love and self-care this holiday season.
As those whose mamas and daddies aren't grinches can attest, this is a wonderful time of year. It's a time of year where we open ourselves up to emotional vulnerability and share our love and gratitude for our family, friends, and fellow man. But, dear readers, do you show such love and gratitude for yourself? Hear me out (come closer, I have wisdom to share with you):
I know how it goes. Really, I do. You spend all this time and money and effort buying thoughtful gifts for those closest to your heart. You bake and cook until your burned, blistered, wounded hands can no longer take it so that you can nourish your family and friends. You nurture holiday traditions for your family at the cost of time spent nurturing your own soul and spirit. I know how it is. The things you do for others are remarkable.
But you deserve love, nourishment, and nurturing, too. So, go ahead. Pour yourself a stiff top-shelf drink. Buy yourself that nice box of chocolates you were eyeing for your mother-in-law and eat it all by yourself. Take a long bubble bath with the swanky bath products you were saving for your Secret Santa. You do so much for so many others. Now is the time to do right by yourself. You'll be surprised how much more festive you feel when you treat yourself as well as you treat your loved ones.
Take me, for example.
Now, I know my worth. Lately I've been starting the beginning stages of teething, which, I don't need to tell you good readers, is a serious bitch. Mom offers me lots of teething options: water-filled rings, gummy-winged toy bugs, satin-rimmed chewing blankets, and even, God love her, her own fingers. These are good options - they really are - but they are not the best. So, do I take these good options, sigh, and call it good enough? Hell no, people! I don't settle for less than the best, and the best is Mama's shoulder. Deeeeeeeelicous. When that lady offers any of her second-tier chewing options, I politely remind her through my screaming and flailing that only the best will do for me this holiday season, and she'd better get a new burp cloth on that thing right quick, too.
So, take my advice, friends. This season of giving, give to yourself. This season of caring, care for yourself. This season of loving, love yourself. You, like me, are the reason for the season.
A couple of days ago Olivia slept through the smoke alarm screeching through the house. I was amazed that after I smacked the silly off the smoke detector's face with a broom handle that I didn't then have to put a screaming baby back together like she was an emotional humpty dumpty. She merely fluttered her eyelids, turned the other cheek, and kept on snoozing. Amazing!
An oldie, but a goodie. I miss her sleeping burrito-style.
Olivia Lee can sleep through:
1. the smoke detector
2. Mama's hyena laughter in her ear
3. the clatter of dropped cookie sheets in the kitchen
But she cannot sleep through the sound of the bathroom fan being turned on, even though EVERY BABY BOOK EVER WRITTEN claims that bathroom fans are delightful white noise to which all babies blissfully sleep.
Which makes sense because I can sleep through:
1. nearly the entire performance of A Comedy of Errors at the Royal Shakespeare Company
2. SLB watching The Birds at full volume on a TV about 12 inches from my sleeping face
3. my former daily subway ride from 116th to Borough Hall (And I never missed my stop. Ha!)
But I can't stand the ticking of my watch on my nightstand.
And SLB can sleep through:
1. every announcement and ticket-taking punch on the commuter train from Philadelphia to New York
2. an entire seminar of 15 people total with Ronald Dworkin in law school
3. many, many instances of the baby screaming
But he can't tolerate silence.
This is proof that not only do we deserve to live in a bus station, but that we'd sleep more restfully there. I guess we'll just have to suffer our secure, middle-class home in wakeful silence.