<i>i swear she wears pants at practice</i>

i swear she wears pants at practice

Our darling little four year old is officially old enough to participate in team sports and in Mebane (and Elderland) that means she now plays soccer. It’s curious how at this age to “play” a sport actually follows the most commonly intended use of the word which is to engage in something for amusement or recreation, because even though the Mebane Youth Soccer Association (MYSA) is formally known as a recreation league, there’s an age at which things become a bit more, shall we say, serious? I suppose at some point in anyone’s sporting career the decision is made as to whether or not playing has played its course and the time has come to move on, and those that stay are still dubbed players, but the essence of playing loses at least some of its amusement. But she’s four! So it’s totally all about fun! Pause here to quote our darling little four year old from a moment about ten minutes into her first ever soccer practice at a resting point between drills, “when are we going to play real soccer? I don’t want to play fake soccer anymore!”

Our first experience with MYSA came about eight or so years ago when in our flurry of social-circle-building over-joining, Pete decided to volunteer as a coach. The reaction from the league tended to be one of confused appreciation – you don’t have kids and you’re not a retiree and you want to give some of your time to coaching a bunch of four and five year olds? I mean, YAY THANKS! – but at least they didn’t suspect him of being strange. For the next several seasons he stayed on, ultimately sponsoring a team himself, and only reluctantly resigning when having our own kids became the reason for eschewing a number of activities (the irony). As we approached the age at which Norah could sign up, it was agreed upon, for a number of reasons, that Pete would remain on the sidelines and let others take the lead in forging her path toward stardom. Then we forgot to sign up. Then she was wait-listed. Then the league was short coaches. And here we are… Pete Elder, coming out of retirement like Urban Meyer post breakdown, to once again coach an adorable lineup of little ones. A former soccer jock himself, and a general lover of all things sporty, despite our previous agreement, I think he’s pretty pleased about it.

Norah thus far seems to love it. It’s new, it’s exciting, it’s outside, and it involves dressing up in shinguards, unusually tall socks, and super special soccer shoes. Be it this or something else, I do hope she holds on to her passion for participating, because there are so many benefits to being involved in sports. And though there’s the small part of me that fears our future full of extra-curricular activities and what that means for our already frenzied family life – especially when I listen to my lovely friends describe their weekends by first noting the number of soccer events they attended – I want our kids to have a wealth of experiences, to be healthy and happy, to make memories and learn lessons, and to have and do and feel all the things that make up living.



at the FL Elders’ house

There they go, looking all sorts of grown up again in yet another photo where I’m somewhat frightened at how easily I can see their teenage selves shining through. But for now, they’re two and four, and while I’m sure I’ll say this again and again as the years pass, this age coupling is thus far my favorite, part of which is due to the fact that they can both communicate with words.

Having two fully conversational children is 90% absolutely amazingly useful and awesome, and 10% temper testing to the point of maybe I want to bust through that window over there and keep running until either my legs or heart give out because collapsing on the street might be preferable to listening to another whiny word. Every parent knows the feeling of wanting to tell their child to shut the fuck up (and maybe every now and then some of us mutter it softly under our breath with our backs to them because even though no one can hear it but us, there’s some satisfaction in saying it “out loud.” Maybe.) But we also all know how invaluable it is to have a child who can express what they want, need, feel, etc. with actual words and not just through variations of WAAAAAAA!

Norah, more than two years into her life as a conversationalist, speaks like an adult almost to a fault (I correct her every time she uses the word like as a filler and not according to its definition), and has now moved on to mastering things like phraseology, irony and sarcasm (if only she had someone to teach her the latter). When she does learn a new word for something she’ll ask why it’s called that, to which I usually reply that’s just what they decided to call it, because much like many before me I’ve become an avid deployer of parent copout responses (because I said so is SO useful!).  I do help defray the wonder of who is “they” by following that with it’s like how we decided to call you Norah! Her response to that lately? I’d like to be called Emma and this is my brother Henry. Okaaaay, sure. Names are another fascinating verbal varietal for Norah and she’ll somewhat sporadically choose to address Pete by his first name instead of daddy. The other morning while I was in our bathroom getting ready, Norah was sitting on our bed next to her sleeping father “reading” a book to herself, when suddenly she dropped it in her lap and exclaimed “Pete! What time is it? I’m hungry. Is it time to eat?” She seems to use it only when she really wants to get his attention. I have no idea where she gets that from.

Crosby’s vocabulary is bloody brilliant (BRAG!) for his age and in general I believe he’s just really excited about having the ability to speak. He revels in identifying things – “that’s a tractor trailer!” – and wants only for one of us to be paying attention because our natural response is to offer happy praise – “that’s right, Crosby! very good!” – and who wouldn’t want that? If we say a word he’s unfamiliar with, he repeats it a time or two as if he’s mentally adding the entry to his personal lexicon. His normal voice is what you’d expect from any two year old – soft, sweet and a bit on the soprano side – but every now and then his eyes grow wide with excitement over something and he drops a couple octaves as he breathily exclaims his observation – “that’s a BIG one!” I don’t believe describing it here can fully convey the absolute adorableness of this voice transformation, but if you ask me sometime (after I’ve had a beer or five) I might try to replicate it for you. And then there are the times when he says something that flat out steamrolls me with its gush-worthiness and leaves me in a puddle of mommy to baby adoration…

Ping from Pete to me on a work day:
While looking at stuff online there was an ad with Sophia Vergara on the side
Crosby walks up and says “I like that one” while pointing to her
I said “She’s pretty huh?”
He whispered “yeah.”
He then said “I like my mommy.”
I said “She’s pretty too eh?”
He whispered “yeah.”
Toast. XO.


Sitting in the dark in Norah’s room on her bed, doing the usual routine of talking and story telling and singing and water sipping and whatever else she can come up with to delay us leaving and her going to sleep…

Me: You’re going to be four tomorrow! What the what?! How is that even possible? How did that happen?

N: I’m growing. I’m going to be a grown up. I’m going to keep growing and growing and growing, and have lots and lots and lots and lots of birthdays with CAKE! SO MUCH CAKE! And cake and cake and cake and CAKE. (pause) But first we have to eat dinner.

A confident, headstrong, goal driven girl with a wee bit of a crazy side tempered by a sensibility toward structure? You’d think I trained her.

PS Six months ago a cake the size of Manhattan wouldn’t have been enough to get this girl to wear a shirt with sleeves above her elbows let alone a skirt and heels. My, my how the times have changed. Thanks Auntie C!

photo (3)

In a matter of weeks my darling daughter has accomplished a couple of pretty big deal, big kid feats, and I’m feeling some serious mom pride about it. It’s almost as if she had the three year old’s version of the forty before forty list and was firmly focused on ticking off a few milestones before the big four. Though she still needs quite a bit of practice with both, Norah can now officially ride a two wheel bike sans training wheels and swim a decent distance unassisted and under water. At this rate she’ll be ruling the world by 10.

Aside from an occasional hop on one belonging to a friend or family member, Norah never rode a bike with training wheels. While we hold no judgment against this method – that’s how I and a million others started our bike riding careers – our personal choice, based on advice from good friends and our own research, was to get her pre-pedal practice on a balance bike. If you’re not familiar with this fancy contraption, just Google it and prepare to be awed. It’s just like a regular bike except, get this, it has no pedals! And no chain! Go ahead, take a minute to freak out. We purchased one for Norah for Christmas when she was about 18 months old which was perhaps (definitely) a wee ambitious as her inseam wasn’t long enough to allow her to straddle it and that sort of (definitely) defeated the purpose. But we put her on it and pushed her around the house anyway, because we won’t let a little thing like being too small defray our plans for getting our kids to be mobile in a million ways as quickly as possible (are we insane?). Over time and with added inches, she learned to ride it herself and we truly believe this was the primary factor in her ability to comfortably pedal a proper bicycle as a three year old. For the better part of her third year here, that pedaling ensued only after we held her shoulders to get her going and was always accompanied by one of us running along side her to wane any wobbles. And then a couple weeks ago, in the church parking lot next door, with some good old fashioned Grandma guidance, she lined up the pedals, pushed forward, and with not a hand on her, rode her bike. I got a video at work and about cried, and then of course insisted she show off for me when I got home. The breaking mechanism remains putting her feet on the ground and letting them drag, but she’ll get the hang of that bit before too long and be racing around with reckless abandon.

On the note of swimming, I give all the credit to Pete. After a few group tot classes and some hemming and hawing about whether or not to sign Norah up for lessons, he decided to take matters into his own hands and throughout the winter took on the challenge of toting two small kids to the indoor pool at least once a week. Once there, he kept a close eye on a floaty cradled Crosby while slowly getting Norah used to each aspect of swimming independence. From simply putting her face in the water to blow bubbles to solo jumps with full submergence and resurfacing, by the time we packed our bags for this summer adventure in Florida, she was at least able to get from one point to another entirely on her own. It did however tend to take a lot of time for she would awkwardly paddle in a somewhat vertical position keeping just her face above the water, but even that seemed an epic leap from the fearful way she would cling to us just nine or ten months ago. Then on day two here, Pete was in the water with all the kids when Norah decided to paddle toward him without warning, and with all the splashing and fray and Pete unaware of her approach, she got stuck in the middle without help and panic struck her face to which I responded by screaming repeatedly “GET NORAH!” Of course Pete got her, and even in that moment she did remarkably well to keep her face afloat, but that awkward vertical treading and anxiety about going under halted her from simply heading to the side which was only a few feet away and I proceeded to firmly (read: bitchily) express to Pete my dissatisfaction. He happily accepted my implied challenge and proceeded to coach her on swimming like the big kids which he amazingly had her accomplishing maybe an hour later. Relieved, impressed, proud, and excited, I gave her all the love and hugs and high fives, and have watched her eagerly swim with her face under water a hundred times more over the past couple days. I still wouldn’t leave her unattended for even a moment, but she has certainly ticked that task off her how to grow up fast list and I can’t imagine what’s coming next.

It’s our last day here and we’re sure to log a little more pool time post nap, maybe even an evening bike ride, and who knows, perhaps she can practice some driving with Uncle John.


ten for two on tuesday

Tomorrow is Tuesday. Tomorrow my baby turns two. I suppose this is about the time that many a mum might come down with a classic case of baby fever and start feeling that familiar itch for all things teeny and tiny. They see a pregnant lady out and about with boobs busting and belly drooping and can almost feel the little kicks inside their own empty tummies. They visit with friends whose wee one just started to giggle and balance all itty bitty 15 lbs of her on their knee, smiling, cooing, and marveling at her remarkably small fingers and toes. They may even miss those middle of the night feeding moments when mom and baby bonded so lovingly, and wax nostalgic for a time with their tot lived nearly every minute in their arms.

Nope. I’m good.

Holding my buddy’s babe is fantastic because she’s fucking adorable and I love her to death and when she starts to get a little too pissed off I can just hand her right back. We Elders are not shy about the fact that our baby factory is officially closed. Two is the magic number. Three not for me. We have all the love we need in this family and we’re happy to keep Elderland a party of four.

So in honor of the fact that I’m actually quite comfortable about the impending second birthday of my baby boy, I believe I’ll write a little list called “Ten Things about my Two Year Old”…

1. Crosby started out a bit on the long and scrawny side, as many newborns do, but by the time he hit 12 or so weeks he was a solid butterball of a baby with fat rolls for days, and he has been a chunker ever since. Of course these days the mass quantity of calories he burns from never ceasing movement have at least diminished his wristles (like cankles, think about it), but he’s still a hefty little man and weighs nearly as much as his two years senior sister. I have every expectation that he’ll be taller than his daddy by high school with some seriously strong legs, and though I’m fairly opposed to having a child play football, I wouldn’t mind having a future World Cup star on my hands (USA takes it in 2034??).

2. The hair. Oh my god the hair. We waited well over 20 months before we got Crosby his first haircut, and did so then only because we grew so wary of every stranger we encountered calling him a girl. No matter how boyish his outfit, it was all she-her-so pretty-your girls-blah-blah. Looking back on the photos, I kind of get it, but his glorious mane of silky blond curls was just too amazing to lay scissors to. When we finally gave in, Pete took him without me, which was probably for the best lest I convulse with each snip and yell at the stylist. I all but commanded that Pete not let the woman cut off more than an inch or so, just enough to push him back toward the boy side of the spectrum, and she really did a bang-up job (PUN!). He’s had one cut since, but for now we’re keeping it longish because I mean damn, the kid has dreamy California surfer hair, and I’m seriously jealous.

3. The range of what he eats is somewhat narrow, but when he finds something he likes, he goes all in (see #1). And when I say all in, if we’re talking about hummus, I mean ALL in – all fingers, hands, cheeks, lips, forehead, hair, belly, and who knows where else. Hummus, or Thomas as he likes to call it, is definitely Crosby top five fare, and while he’ll occasionally opt for a dipping vehicle like carrots, crackers or pretzel chips, those are entirely unnecessary as he’d just as soon scoop it out with a spoon. No spoon? No problem! That’s what these ten little digits are for. The boy likes his Thomas. I suppose there are worse vices.

4. Crosby has taken to using the training potty quite frequently, enjoys a good celebratory potty dance after accomplishing his goal, and while still fully in diapers for he hasn’t completely grasped that you can’t just pee when and wherever, he almost exclusively poops in the pot. He gets very excited when his poops are of noteworthy size, calls “Mommy/Daddy/Grandma come look!” to show off, and even commends us for our own pottying skills post pot sit – “Good job, mama!” On a less proud note, one small side affect of all this fecal joy is a favorite new game of his which involves straddling whichever of us is sitting or lying on the floor and exclaiming “I poop on you!” before bursting into giggles. Boys.

5. He has a tiny scar below his right eye from a terrible spill he took off the front of the jog stroller because stupid mommy thought letting him ride like this was a good idea and he face planted on the sidewalk proving me very wrong. I know chicks dig scars and all that, but he’s going to be handsome enough without it and I hope it mostly goes away. #momguilt

6. He talks a lot. In complete sentences. It blows my mind and makes me ridiculously happy. Sure there are plenty of words he still struggles with, or perhaps just mindfully opts for his own version of (see #3), but his vocabulary is what I’d consider vast for a two year old and I’m not ashamed to brag about it. He’s also shy and when we get around folks he doesn’t know well he tends to clam up and hold on to my leg, smiling coyly as he peaks around, so not everyone gets to enjoy his jib jab, but we hear his lovely little voice every day and it never fails to bring a smile to our faces. Even when he’s saying things like “I poop on your penis!” Because come on, it’s funny.

7. In classic boy fashion, he loves trucks and tractors. Dump trucks might be his favorite. He has a book about all sorts of trucks and from it has learned to identify things he sees on the road like scoops, bulldozers and cherry pickers. He gets adorably excited when out the window he sees a truck drive by our house and tells us all about it – “I saw something! A big truck!” – and the day we paid a surprise visit to the Mebane fire station and he got to run around the garage and sit in the trucks might have been the happiest moment in his life to date. And while I’ve never been the type of mom to push gender specific toys, I can’t help but love how much of a little boy he is. He also loves baby dolls, tea sets, and the color pink (which he occasionally refers to as fuchsia). So there.

8. One of his top front teeth is chipped and has been for almost as long as he’s had front teeth. I can’t tell you how it happened, but it did, and it only adds to the charm of what is surely the most amazingly cute and contagious smile this world has ever laid eyes upon.

9. Bed time routines are the best because a) they’re routine and everyone loves some good old fashioned reliability and b) they signal impending adult time for mommy and daddy for things like watching netflix, reading the New Yorker, blogging, and staring at the walls in silence. Aside from the expected bits of his routine like teeth brushing and diaper changing, Crosby has thrown in a little of his own flare to keep it original. One such step is to wait until the last moment after which we’ve put him in bed, turned out the light, turned on the sound machine, and turned toward the door to say through his pacy “sing me a song.” His first request is generally Twinkle (for Twinkle Twinkle Little Star of course), followed by Sunshine (for You are my Sunshine), and up until a few weeks ago when he perhaps grew sick of it, the third and final request was Wrecking Ball. And who I am not to oblige my baby boy with a little Miley before night night?

10. Ninety percent of the time Crosby is the happiest kid people have ever met. Seriously, we’ve been told as much again and again, “that is the happiest kid I’ve ever met!” About half of the remaining ten percent is made up of the occasional injury induced tear-fest, often brought on by a sister induced injury, but only when she thinks we’re not looking, and it’s hilarious to see the look on her face when we catch her in the act – “what? wait? me? no, i didn’t? huh? you saw what? that doesn’t make sense.” That final five is the worst as it brings out the tyrant in our darling baby boy, mostly in response to him not getting his way, our response to which is a firm time-out, his response to which is to cry for a minute, then stop and flash that irresistible smile (see #8), our response to which better be to look away lest he see us melt and know that timeout is obviously over. Clever little bugger.

Happiest of birthdays to our favorite son, the one and only, Crosby William Elder.


the big race

Earlier this year I registered for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh – my first ever full marathon. This week I officially began my training. I thought this topic a good one for reinvigorating the blog…

As a kid, I never did anything active that would be considered a sport. That’s not to say I sat on my butt all day and played video games or the like – I partook in and enjoyed bike riding, swimming, rope jumping, and other non-competitive, casual examples of exertion. But other than a brief stint in dance class pre-puberty and height spurt, my participation in any sort of organized athletics was null. As a teenager, though obsessively motivated to achieve straight A’s, I was fairly apathetic about any such school or other involvement required of something like playing soccer or running track. I much preferred to do what was necessary to keep the report card gleaming, and fill the rest of my time with debaucherous things that I’ll refrain from recapping. As far as exercise goes, I can quite vividly picture the first time I decided that I was going to try running (I was 17-ish) and the near death feeling I experienced after a 1/4 mile. I also recall a time toward the end of high school when my BFF and I decided that in an effort to prepare for college and the possible weight gain, we should work to maintain our size 0 bodies by eating lettuce for lunch and walking 4-5 miles at night. Fitness just wasn’t my jam.

Then came college. I’m not sure what the primary instigator was – free fitness center at my complex, ever present fear of packing on pounds, general boredom – but I suddenly took an interest in working out. Sure it was low level stuff – 30 minutes at the gym a few days a week – but it was certainly more regular exercise than I had ever gotten in my life, and I kind of liked it. Then came friends. As in I made new ones. And they also had taken an interest in using their free apartment complex gym. I began spending nearly all my free time over at their place, and that time consisted mostly of calculus homework, gym visits, and pre-gaming while we whorified ourselves for a trip to the club. Looking back, I’d strongly argue that that time in my life was when I became conscious of the fact that I’m perhaps more competitive than the average Jane. Not because of the calculus homework – I was already used to being better at school. And nobody (hopefully) wants to win the drunk college hooker competition. No, it was the working out that brought to the surface this shining quality of mine where I feel perversely good about crushing others. I could run faster and longer than my friends. And I loved every minute of it.

A year or so later I met Pete, who also had an interest in running, and over the next few years of college we kept at it together, going perhaps as far as five miles at a time – nothing serious, but enough to feel sufficiently worked out. After college, as we started our “adult” lives, moves, job changes and other things that happen when you’re trying to establish yourself as a proper grown up, sometimes trumped running and it moved up and down the priority list. But it never totally left. I can remember the first time I ran six miles – it was while we were living in Carrboro, with a local running group called the Runnegades. It was tough and painful and awesome, and I was absurdly sore the next couple days. My first seven miler was sort of an accident in that I only intended to run 3.5 to a place where I expected some friends to be that could drive me home. They weren’t there. Back I ran. After that I was pretty much all in and with a number of 5K’s, 10K’s and half marathons under my belt, there’s only one logical next step (or steps! 26.2 miles of them!).

I’ve thought about and talked about running a full marathon for a long time, and I’m excited as hell and totally freaked out that it’s finally going to happen. Sunday, April 13th, 2014 is a going to be a pretty damn big day for me and I just hope with all my powers of positive energy that everything goes okay. Of course okay is relative and I’m tempering my expectations for this because I haven’t the slightest clue what it feels like to run for so long. So the goal is this: finish. Okay, okay, I maybe secretly have a more specific goal in mind, but I don’t like to talk about those things because my competitiveness is married to a general distaste for failure, and if I publicly announce a time and don’t beat it, I’ll feel quite awful.

Week one in the books! 21 weeks and a giant pile of running to go.

norah says…

Ever since she began speaking in complete sentences, one of Norah’s most oft uttered phrases has been “get my boogies out.” The girl has some serious OCD issues with mucus. At times it makes sense i.e. when she’s sick and legitimately has a fountain of snot pouring from her nose. On other occasions I swear the skies are clear for a mile and she still obsesses over having her sniffer swiped. The sporadic request for boogie excavation is not too bothersome, but the instances like the past couple days where the demand is uttered nearly once a minute and typically in an ear damaging whine are maddening to the point of me wanting to scream expletives into the ether and punch walls. After a threat to get the snot sucker if she doesn’t blow her nose, this situation usually ends in tears (sometimes mine) and never actually accomplishes any sort of satisfactory snot removal. And on top of all this, she has upped the ante on her neurotic nose needs by requiring a moist baby wipe for the procedure – no dry tissue will suffice.

While using the potty in the bathroom where I was getting ready recently, Norah made her favorite request…

N: I’ve got boogies, please get my boogies out.

M: I can’t right now, I’m busy and I’ve got things to do.

N: I’ve got things to do!!

M: Like what?

N: Like getting my boogies out!

And then tonight, after I recovered a stack of 7-8 dry wipes that had clearly served their purpose prior to being strewn about the floor, bed and chair in her room…

M: Norah, why do you waste so many wipes?

N: Because sometimes I just need a lot of wipes. Because I’m a wipe waster.

That’s my girl!