Wednesday, April 30, 2008

My Other Thirds

In case you were curious, here are some things you can learn about my husband and our son.

Name: Gabriel Adams Wolf
Age: 25 (Yeah I'm a cougar? Roar.)
Role in my life: the hub
Likes: video games, talking about video games, watching videos online of other people playing video games, having the TV on in the background while he watches people play video games, sleeping, when I say, "Jealous?" like that one-legged Amy Poehler character on SNL, when Liam cuddles with him
Dislikes: when I want the TV off, when I listen to matt pond PA (jealous?), when Liam spits food at him during dinner, putting dirty laundry IN the hamper
Skills: holding down Liam for diaper changes, making me laugh until I think I might tinkle, hotness, video games (I imagine), love, putting dirty laundry NEXT TO the hamper

Name: Liam Mercury McCourtney-Wolf
Age: almost 11 months
Role in my life: bringer of sunshine
Likes: trying to crawl away during diaper changes, the sound of my voice when I sing, cuddling, holding hands, Eskimo kisses, taking his socks off, lentils, taking one step and then falling, trying to chew electrical cords, feeding himself, bath time, looking out the window, clapping
Dislikes:diaper changes, nail clippings, face and hand wiping after eating, being in the car seat too long, sleeping in
Skills: constant beauty and cuteness, taking his socks off in the duration of one blink, making girlfriends everywhere he goes, finding electrical cords that are hidden, growing cute little teeth, softest skin ever, love

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Sandy Tagged Me!

So here are ten random facts about me.

1. Being pregnant, giving birth and breastfeeding shot most of my modesty out the window. I am willing to talk about body parts, bodily functions and other icky things to most people who won’t get grossed out.

2. I can name all of the people I have kissed in my life in chronological order, with the exception of the first one. It was a traumatic event (which I can laugh about now, kind of), not magical AT ALL, and it’s the reason I didn’t have my second kiss, or my first “real” boyfriend, until four years after my first kiss. Gabe is kisser #11.

3. From birth until now, I have lived in nine towns in Massachusetts, Maine and Texas, and fourteen houses or apartments. I HATE MOVING.

4. I was in color guard for six years from 7th to 12th grade and I was the captain of our squad for all four years of high school. I coached my high school’s winterguard squad and the parade season for two years after I graduated. I still regret not being able to accept the fall coaching position I was offered twice, and I still wish I could perform or coach.

5. I knew I wanted to be with Gabe before I even talked to him. I thought he would be completely uninterested in me and if he hadn’t started talking to me it may have never happened. We met online, on the old Thursday message boards, in late 2002.

6. It sounds funny if a band has never done this for you, but Thursday changed my life- with their music, the way it made me think and feel, and because I met my husband because of them. I have a Thursday tattoo. I got it before I met Gabe. My two best friends, Laurel and AJ, got Thursday tattoos with me. I also don't listen to Thursday anymore and I am ok with that. Their older music was enough for me.

7. My mum is French and the first person in her family to have been born in the United States. French was her first language but I don’t speak it, except for a few snippets here and there that I picked up. I have a really hard time with the proper pronunciation, even though I grew up among a handful of people who were born in France and have really heavy accents. I can easily tell the difference between European French and Canadian French. My mouth is very American, unfortunately. Not only so I desire to speak French, I wish I had the accent when I speak English. Sometimes when I am alone I pretend to be speaking French but it’s really just jibberish with a bad French accent.

8. Ever since the beginning of my pregnancy with Liam, I cannot watch movies or health shows when someone gives birth without crying my eyes out.

9. I am currently writing a novel. I have been thinking about it and writing it for over a year. I haven’t gotten past the third chapter and I am re-writing the first one (AGAIN) and it’s driving me crazy. I don’t know where to go. I don’t want to stop trying.

10. If I could afford it I would get braces and have my nose straightened. I am really self-conscious about my teeth and nose. Luckily I like my lips, so at least when my mouth is closed it looks ok. If acne scars could be completely removed I would do that too.

Norse Rage

Ok, so once again I didn't really have a whole lot to worry about.

I think I just need to feel the anxiety and expect the worst, so that I don't go into it thinking it'll be really fun and easy. Just like our plane ride to Manchester. No biggie.

Liam only napped for me in the car on our drive through the hilly country in the beautiful town of Wales, and when he woke up in the car ten minutes from home he didn't stop crying until we got into the house. Tears had been streaming down his face. That was the hardest part of the day. That was it.

The big drama of yesterday was my research into tenants rights laws and finding that my landlords totally broke the law. Our heat hasn't been on in over a week, and it's April in Maine and even though we've had some beautiful and nice days, it's been constantly cold in our apartment, day and night. Because it's April in Maine!

I called the management office several times over the past week, leaving messages each time. Once I was told that the furnace has a sensor that shuts it off when it's warmer than 62 degrees outside, and that "someone will go over to reset it, sometimes it doesn't always kick back in." When it still wasn't happening I called again and was told the owner would call me back. When she didn't call me back I was told her husband was being sent over to check it out. It was still fa-fa-fa-REEZING in here.

Yesterday morning I was LIVID about it. Liam was shivering while he ate breakfast. I was PISSED. I called the office again, knowing that it was before business hours, but to leave a message. I said something along the lines of, "This is Nora, AGAIN, from [insert my address here] and I'm calling because the heat hasn't been on in at least a week and it's too cold in here. Not just for me but for my son, who needs to be warm. This situation has gone on too long and it needs to be resolved NOW. Call me." I called again after nine o'clock and left a similar message after my neighbor knocked on my door to ask if we were cold too and after I found online that by law, landlords must keep rental properties at a minimum of 68 degrees. The nights have been in the forties and fifties, so I knew it wasn't happening.

I called again. I left another message letting them know that I know the law and will pursue action if it is not upheld. No call back. I called again. This time it was after ten in the morning and I knew the office had to be open but no one was answering.

I decided to go to the office itself. The owners were sitting at the desk. The woman said, "Can I help you?

"Yes. We haven't had heat in our apartment for over a week and-"

She snorted and looked away from me. Her husband laughed. "That's because I shut off the furnace."

My head exploded. "It's too cold to not have the heat on right now."

He looked at Liam. "Yeah, I shut it off on April 15th. We usually do it May 1 but it's been warming up and we've spent a lot of money on heat this winter."

My composure, my purpose just disintegrated. I was so flabbergasted at his complete ignorance and lack of concern that I could barely think. I looked at Liam. "He's been freezing," I sputtered.

"Yeah, I didn't think of him. I should have thought of you guys having a baby. I'll turn it back on for you tonight. You know that your thermostat controls the building."

"But when there's no heat, that doesn't matter," I pointed out.

"Yeah, that's because I shut off the furnace!" he laughed again.

"I know. It's going to be on tonight?" I asked.

"Yeah, I'll go turn it on for you tonight."

I will note here that these owners are practically our neighbors. I know it's the same temperature in their house as it is in ours, so they should have known. I can guarantee they have used their own heat since April 15. I can guarantee that these idiots have been toasty in their pretty little Cape house down the street and laughing about how their tenants must be shivering as they sipped wine and feasted on roast lamb and potatoes.

I will also note that they were both avoiding eye contact with me.

I wanted to punch them really really hard in their stupid fecking faces. I wanted to grab their chins, make them look at me, and say, "Where's your heart, you beast? Where's your conscience, you stupid piece of shit? Would you let your own daughter freeze in her home? Turn on my [beeeeeeeeping beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep] heat NOW!"

I didn't. I was shaking too hard. I was too angry. I was walking the line between crying or being meanly sarcastic, neither of which would aid me in the situation.

After asking a couple more times to make sure that it would be warm later, and forgetting to get that in writing, I left. I slammed the door behind me, which I swear was an accident, and then I wondered if he'd change his mind if I went around slamming doors.

And it WAS still cold last night.

But we woke up to warm radiators. We woke up and the air did not bite us, did not keep us huddled in bed for warmth.

I am still pissed.

I am going to write a list of other things I need done to my apartment, things that have been minor nuisances since we moved in but I didn't want to be a nuisance of a tenant.

I am pretty much over that now.

When I go in to pay my May rent, I am going to give them a written list of when needs to be fixed, and deadlines to get them done. If they are going to be assholes, I will do my best to make sure they are at least doing their jobs, which I pay them to do. That's what I pay rent for: a safe and livable apartment.

And God help me, I will report them if they pull this shit again with the heat.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

willing and able

Today was the last day of Liam having two parents home all day, every day.

He and Gabe have done some serious re-bonding since our move. Where he used to come to me for most of his comfort, Liam now will reach for his Dada (sometimes even whispering "da-da-da-da-da..." which is not on purpose but still really adorable) and he's more willing to cuddle with him than he was before, and he's always looking for Dada for a smile when he knows he's been cute. They "talk" to each other. Liam rides Gabe's shoulders. It's great.

What's also great is that Gabe has a job now! And we're very very happy and thankful about that. I'm just getting the heart-quickening anxiety much like I had a couple weeks into my maternity leave when Gabe was about to return to work, leaving me alone all day with my baby, when I still wasn't sure and confident enough to feel like an adequate mom. Of course I was. I nursed him. I cuddled him. I rocked and bounced and swayed with him. I read him books. I kissed him over and over and held his little hands and told him I loved him in every way I could think of. But I still cried when he cried. (Those hormones!) I still worried when it seemed like he was crying for too long. I still felt like a failure that he cried at all because even though babies do cry and that's ok, as a new mom it's heartbreaking when you can't make all of your baby's discomforts, pains and fears and everything else they cry about just go away.

Liam is older now. He crawls and stands and cruises and laughs and plays by himself. He can tell me with facial expressions and baby words if he's not happy, without crying. But he still fusses. I still can't read his mind. I am nervous all over again about being alone with him all day. And I feel real lame about that in a big way.

With all of the time Liam has spent with both of his parents, most notably his dad, this month, I am afraid he is going to get really tired of all of his mommy time, really quick, and give me a really hard time about it. And refuse to be as happy and content as he's been.

I do know how lucky I am to be able to do this. To be able to spend this time with him. To reconnect with my baby and take walks and read books and play on the floor and go visit local farms and relatives and lakes and stores and his Grandmere and Grandpop. I want this.

I wish I felt already that I could do it.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Hug a Tree, Kiss the Clouds, Save the Earth

Happy Earth Day!

You are probably bombarded today with eco tips, and instead of more of that I will etch two lasting images into your brains to keep you mindful of our earth all year 'round.

In fifth grade, I tried to start a group at school called the Save the Earth Club. People made fun of me, except for my two friends who were members. They were made fun of too. It was not "cool" yet to care. Those foolish eleven-year-olds! Where were you then, Al Gore?? Oh yeah. In the White House (or wherever the vice president lives). Being made fun of for trying to raise environmental awareness. I know how you felt.

Too bad I didn't have these t-shirts then!!!

This is my "YOU BETTER RECYCLE, FOOL!" face.

And this is here because my shirt says LOVE YOUR MOTHER. Also in this photo is my friend Sophie. Her shirt says b(eco)me, which is part of the environmental awareness campaign Half Price Books runs. (This was my last day on the job before I moved.)

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Ahhh, reading again. And not just online.

I actually finished reading two books this week!

Yesterday morning I finished We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson after reading it on and off for months now. I had four and a half whole hours to myself yesterday morning when I was at my sister's gallery. It was beautiful.

I loved the book. It wasn't scary at all but it was so creepy and suspenseful, despite the big, beautiful house it took place in, and the sunshine and the garden and the pleasant demeanors of the people who lived there. There were secrets though, clouding up and haunting everything. The pleasantness was a desperation.

The only Shirley Jackson I had ever read was the short story "The Lottery," and I just love the way she writes.

When I get brave enough I will read The Haunting of Hill House, even though I heard it's one of the scariest things ever written. (The 1999 movie The Haunting, which was based on/ inspired by the novel was so bad and not to be confused with something worse, The House on Haunted Hill.) I am not good at being scared, especially since I am still a little scared of my new, big, shadowy, creaky old apartment.

I heard a music box last night when I was in the kitchen. I don't own a music box.

I also started and finished Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut. I have wanted to read him ever since I heard him do an interview on NPR a couple years ago. I always waited for his books to come in our store, but they were few and far between and gone before I got to them. We sold used books, mostly, and there were certain authors we were always just thirsty for that customers tended not to sell as frequently. Then he passed away and people held on to their Vonnegut books like they were heirlooms. (Maybe they are.) I am serious when I say that I saw maybe four Vonnegut books after that.

I managed to get my hands on three of his books before I left the store, and I will say that my first Vonnegut reading experience was a fulfilling one. Just like he was in his NPR interview, when I first became interested in him as an author, his writing was witty and captivating and comfortable. He was such an intelligent man.

I'm not going to summarize these novels for you. For any of you who've listened patiently as I try to tell a fairly simple story, I am bad at summarizing. I'm bad at "the short version." I have a hard time telling people what a book or movie is about without being too vague or giving away juicy details that should be discovered independently.

I will recommend them, though.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

sweet suit

This is the only bathing suit I have seen this season, or ever, that I would be willing to slide my post-partum, mostly unexercised twenty-six-year-old, a-little-jigglier-than-it-used-to-be body into. The problem? Urban Outfitters wants $88 for it. That's more than what I paid for my wedding gown, and about $60 more than what I could/should spend on a swimsuit.

Am I now condemned to a life of granny skirts on my swimsuits? Those are pretty cheap at Wal-Mart, I imagine.

Or should I... just exercise? Yeah. Yes. The answer is yes. I have more time for it now. I'm only twenty-six. No granny skirts, please. Not yet.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

I am excited right now because...

1. Despite waking up at 6:25 this morning, Liam has taken good naps and been incredibly incredible today, and is now sleeping peacefully on Gabe as Gabe plays video games and I read blogs.

2. My mum is coming over for the afternoon on Thursday to watch and play with Liam as Gabe and I UNPACK AND CLEAN! I might actually have this all done by the weekend! There's an end in sight!

3. My mum volunteered a spot of land in hers and my dad's 5-acre yard for me to grow a garden. Yes, I am serious, and no, I can't wait for my own cucumbers, zucchini, squash, carrots and green beans!!!!

4. I went to Dunkin Donuts twice today. Somebody help me.

5. Groceries tomorrow!

6. It's supposed to be 68 degrees here on Thursday and Friday so to reward ourselves for all of our sure-to-be hard work with the apartment on Thursday, I propose that Gabe and I treat ourselves and Liam to a trip to the ocean on Friday to enjoy the warmth and the salty smells and the general all-over feeling of peace and clarity that being near the northern Atlantic graces me with. And maybe a trip to Dunkin Donuts.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Boxes, boxes everywhere

We've been in our new apartment now for two weeks and we still haven't unpacked everything. We have most of the essentials out: food, cups, silverware, some clothes, books, TV, bedding. There are two small plates we are using until I get to the boxes of dishes.

For three years I was living in apartments with dishwashers and walk-in closets. That's what's good about apartment complexes. You just had to take your dishes out of their boxes, toss them (gently) into the dishwasher, and just put them away. We could hide the unpacked messes in the massive closets until they could be tended to.

Now we are back to washing dishes by hand. I did this my whole life leading up to our time in Texas so it shouldn't be a big deal. But here's the thing. I wicked hate washing the dishes. Sometimes I can put on a good CD and zone out and get it done without thinking about how much I hate them but that's been hard for me because we have TONNNNNS of dishes. We really should scale back. Does a family of three (with one of them eating with his own to-scale utensils) really need sixteen plates, forty-eight mugs, five sets of glasses, fifty-two plastic tumblers, and seventeen bowls? NO! Did I think of this every time I saw cute dishes on a store shelf and thought, "Ooh, cute dishes!"? NO!

Dishes are on my list of things to purge. I feel a yard sale coming on.

When doing laundry last week I also separated out two boxes of clothes I want to consign at Material Objects in Portland and some to donate to a women's shelter. There will be more when I finish with the boxes of clothes. I've been proud of how realistic I've been with the packing and unpacking so far and how I am finally letting go of things I just don't need and that're just taking up room.

I got a lot of my art and craft supplies unpacked yesterday and was really excited about things that had been packed away when we moved at the beginning of my pregnancy and have been packed since. I forgot I had a lot of this stuff. I have so much stationery. It's sick.

And beautiful. I am not purging my stationery or art supplies. I can't wait to start making things again.

I am really tired and should go to bed soon. But will I? NO!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


Sunday Liam turned ten months old and the McCourtney-Wolfs officially reside now in the lovely state of Maine.

Since Liam and I arrived here last Thursday (adventures and details of the flights to be shared later) I swear he’s grown and blossomed at a faster rate than usual. His hair is longer and his teeth are becoming more noticeable and numerous. He has also started talking more- a lot more. It started with my parent’s dog. Liam was afraid of her at first and would yell and then cry when she came too close, then when he got used to her he’d just let everyone know that the dog was in the room. Now he talks constantly. He’s been waving at everyone, smiling at strangers, and three days ago he discovered clapping. He’s developed new facial expressions and even made a sarcastic face at Gabe a few nights ago.

It has snowed twice since we got here and I wanted so badly to take pictures of Liam in the snow (not playing in it, but having it fall all around him like tiny clouds or chilly flower petals) but I didn’t have room in our luggage for the camera and I have not unpacked it yet from whatever box it ended up in. Our apartment is still cluttered by unpacked boxes, tasks to be taken care of tomorrow.

I found us a beautiful apartment. I can’t believe it. I also can’t believe I also applied for an apartment with an overbearing and slightly sketchy landlord that was the same price, only half the size, and that I had a funny feeling about. Luckily I was still searching and I felt good about this one as soon as I walked in the door. This is an 1800’s farmhouse that’s been converted into apartments so it has a lot of character and feels like a home rather than a box. We have big windows, hardwood floors, wainscoting, a beautiful and elaborate mantel over the fireplace, and so much space that it’s almost unsettling. We have a huge yard! I can even walk to my sister’s apartment.

It was advertised as a two-bedroom with a double parlor but we’ll be using the rooms differently so we have an eat-in kitchen with laundry hookups, a dining room, an art room (for me! Seriously!), a living room with a china cabinet, and one bedroom. Having just one bedroom is fine for now since we still share our bed with Liam. The bathroom is a good size and we have a large hallway with a big closet. I cannot wait to get unpacked and organized and start really enjoying this space. And having company!