Thursday, March 26, 2009

Why I Love My Husband, part 2

(See part one here.)

I was on the couch, and Gabe was on the floor. He yawned. We made eye contact.

GABE: What!
NORA: What?
GABE: Are you spying on me?
NORA: Spying on you?
GABE: I saw you staring at me!
NORA: I looked at you right as you looked at me.
GABE: Creep.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

household hazards of the toddler kind

"I'm sorry about the yelling, but he wouldn't listen. There was a tidal wave coming out of the tub. A tidal wave. And I got mad. He got my pants wet. My shirt. He got my head wet; the tidal wave reached my head. My head! I was engulfed." -Gabe Wolf, my husband, after bath time this evening.

I am so glad that bath time is daddy-son time.
I mean, look at this kid's moves.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009


While watching the season finale of Jon and Kate Plus Eight last night:

GABE: Where are the twins?
NORA: I don't know.
GABE: Hm. [Thinks the conversation is over.]
NORA: I know. I bet Mady ate Cara so they sent her to juvy.

Then I laughed at myself really hard, then I felt bad for making fun of an eight year old girl who is obviously not ok.

It's easy to make assumptions and judgments about the Gosselins, and the Duggars, and the frackin' Octo-Mom, and all of the other parents who are doing things I would not. When comparing, I would lose track of everything I would do differently, either in my life or if I was in their situation. Becoming a parent opens you up to all sorts of criticisms and judgments, no matter what you're doing, and it's not fair- but those same parents who are made to build up defenses are trying to knock down the forts other parents build.

It's an ugly cycle.

I'm going to write more about this later, when I am not just minutes from the end of Liam's nap. I have things I'd like to talk about regarding the walls I have to build against criticisms and assumptions about me, and I have opinions I want to share about families who live their life on television.

In the meantime, tell me... do other parents make you cringe? Do you see moms and dads doing things ALL WRONG by your standards? Or are you able to always see objectively? What have you had to defend yourself against?


Coffee & Counting

I guess my coffee consumption is on the rise and Liam's heard me murmur "I need coffee," more than I realized because it's one of his words now. He pronounces it "coppee." Whenever I'm drinking from a white lidded up he points and says, "Coppee?"

When we're in the car and I pull into a drive-thru he starts repeating, "Coppee. Coppee? Cooooppee." I guess he recognizes all of the Dunkin Donuts all over town from his rear-facing position.

Last night Liam was talking about coffee again when we were trying to get him to drink his milk. Gabe handed him his milk cup and told him it's coffee. Liam took a gulp, said "Mmmmmm! Coppee!" and giggled. He drank all of his milk. Pretending is awesome.

This morning he was ignoring his milk again but the pretend-coffee trick didn't work. He was probably thinking, "This coffee tastes an awful lot like that boring-ass milk they give me every day and I'm in no mood to make-believe. I need me some COPPEE."

Maybe he's drawn to my change in mood after I have coffee. I relax and sigh, and inhale the aroma, and smile dreamily. I wish I was exaggerating. But I like coffee an awful lot lately. Liam's perceptive enough to know that mommy goes from tired and tense to relaxed yet productive after a medium coffee with skim milk and sugar.

ALSO CUTE: I've been counting with Liam when we play and read. I'll count his blocks, Goldfish crackers, dogs in a book. He's started counting too: "Doo, bee, doo, bee, doo, bee..."

Translation: Two, three, two, three, two, three... He'll get it.

Monday, March 23, 2009

adorable overload

Liam gets to spend a LOT of time with me so naturally he's always way excited when Gabe's home. Liam loves waking up next to his daddy, automatically smiling and cooing, "Hi, Daddy. Daddy. Hi, Daddy." If Gabe is already in the shower when Liam wakes up he wastes no time getting out of bed and checking the bathroom for his favorite guy.

This morning Liam became restless as soon as Gabe got out of bed, and he stirred and cried in his sleep for a few minutes until he rolled over and opened his eyes. He pointed to a speck of something on the sheet, groaned, then made his surprised face when a loud car rumbled by. When I smiled he flung himself back into the crook of my arm, nuzzled his face close and gave me a sleepy smile. "Daddy. Hi, Daddy. Hi, Daddy."

I considered pretending for a bit, afraid to disappoint my sleepy babe, but decided to reveal my true identity. "Good morning, Liam. It's Mama. Mama loves you."

His eyes refocused on my face and he kept smiling, pushing his cheek against mine. "Mama," he sighed. "Hi, Mama. Hi, Mama."

We'll still be co-sleeping for a while.

This is the face Liam makes when I ask him to show me his teeth.

Lately he's been chirping, "Alloooo, alloooo," practicing his L sound, and he sounds like a little Frenchman (well technically he is). I am charmed since this is how some of my relatives say Hello.


Friday, March 20, 2009

I don't even know what to call this one.

So, my date with Mary Kay was not awful. There were two other young women there with me so the pressure was off of me to buy, sell and all that. As it turned out, the Mary Kay representative who approached me is kind of a Mary Kay celebrity- she created a special recruiting tool, she makes a more-than-decent living, and she has earned nine free cars. NINE FREE CARS!

Because she is so successful she did not pressure me as hard as the lady in Flower Mound to buy products or start attending meetings to become a consultant. (The Texas woman told me I do not need to see my fiance as much as I thought I did when I told her I hardly see him as it was. Ummm... thanks? for the advice...? Now go to marriage counseling with your hubs because you've lost The Spark.) Like, she actually took no for an answer, and that was that.

The best part was that I spent no money and just by attending I earned a free product I can actually use. It's a concealer/cover up specifically for the eyes so now I will look like I actually get enough sleep! This is a miracle. Heaven is shining upon my sleepy face.

The worst part about the evening was this.
Yeah, that would be my face. On the bright side (and I don't mean my shimmery eyelids), now I know which color scheme to use should I ever portray a hooker on stage. A dimly lit stage. Please note the four different glittered eye shadows PLUS blue eyeliner fit for a shiny Spandex-clad aerobics instructor circa 1985 PLUS a landing strip of blush.

That first photo doesn't show it well but I actually have eye shadow on my lower lid. It's green.
Do people actually do that??

Liam actually looked at me funny when I came home. When I entered the living room he happily called, "Mama!" and came at me with open arms. THEN HE SAW MY FACE and he stopped. That's not a good reaction from the one person in the world who thinks you're perfect. Gabe simply said, "Holy crap." Not Holy Crap I Want to Make Love to You, but HOLY CRAP WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOUR FACE.

I had planned originally to stop by the grocery store before coming home but I obviously couldn't go out looking like that. My skin never felt so virginal and pure after I washed it. And washed it again. And there was still glitter freckling my cheeks.
My pores had been strangled by foundation for over two hours and they took a deep sigh of relief. (And see what I mean about my eyes? I look like I sleep even less than I actually do.)

Today I took another photo of myself for this post to show my everyday makeup. Because I do wear makeup nearly every time I leave the house. Just not as much. Ever.
I know, it's not too different from my freshly-washed pic, and that's intentional. I don't want to look like someone else when I wear makeup. I want to look like me, but a little more polished, a little more well-rested. Every day I wear eyeshadow, mascara and lip gloss. When I'm feeling fancy I use some mineral powder to even out my skin tone (at least as much as it can be helped) and a touch of color on the apples of my cheeks. ONLY the apples. For special occasions I wear eyeliner if it suits what I am wearing.

I get more free stuff in a couple weeks when I model for the scar-blemish reduction seminar she's doing for the consultants she manages. Sooo... that's only one thing I didn't say no to! And it's a bit of a novelty when my face looks clear, so I still win. I think?


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Mary F. Kay (the F stands for a bad word, rhymes with 'sucking')

I think that part of the Mary Kay training process involves education on how to pinpoint women who find themselves unable to say no, because I've been asked by strangers WAY TOO MANY TIMES if they can put makeup on my face.

True story: one woman approached me while I was working and actually said to me, TO MY FACE, "You know, you have such a beautiful face but your skin really detracts from your looks. I can help you with that." I sobbed on the inside, but only after I pictured myself jumping over the counter, screeching, and scratching her face with my dirty used-book hands and giving her a staph infection. I am pretty sure that it's not part of their training to give someone a compliment and then slap them across the face with it. She was just... stupid and mean. I was able to say no to her.

Then this lovely lady asked me if I wanted a free facial and I am so pretty and charming and wouldn't I make a great Mary Kay saleswoman! I was so pleased that she didn't tell me I have the complexion of moldy cottage cheese that I accepted her offer. I knew all along I didn't want to sell makeup but I thought, hey, free facial!

I arrived at her big, spotless home in Flower Mound, Texas, and thought, GO HOME NOW, GO HOME NOW, but she welcomed me in and sat me down at her dining room table, which was arranged with all the pink and white Mary Kay bottles, and she started my facial.

Oh, no, wait. You know what happened? I started my own facial. Because her whole agenda was teaching ME how to do my OWN face with HER products. If I had known that I'd be giving myself a facial at some lady's football field sized dining room table I would have said no. (Or at least tried to.) But I sat there and washed my own face in a bowl of water, applied the products, and then more makeup than I will ever need unless I am on stage or in the movies. Do you know what it's like to do all of this while someone's staring at you? It's a lot of pressure, considering I don't wear a ton of makeup and don't even know how to apply foundation evenly. I don't wear it!

Then she proceeded to try to recruit me to be a Mary Kay lady because don't I someday want to drive a pink Cadillac? (Um, that'd be a big NO.) She was relentless. I explained that I worked forty hours a week, had four classes plus a lab at school, AND was planning my wedding long-distance and I hardly had time to see my own fiance. I got a lot of bullshit reasons why I could and should do it, and I ended up feeling guilty enough to just buy something from her and leave. It was $19 face wash. I don't spend that much money on my SHIRTS and SHOES, never mind face wash or cosmetics. I'm such a pushover.

Anyway, I got home and it was the wrong face wash. It was a heavy, greasy cleanser for aging skin. Thanks, lady.

A couple weeks ago I was by myself at Walmart, browsing the pots and pans because I had just burned the bottom of my last sauce pan (while I was STANDING RIGHT NEXT TO IT!) and convinced Gabe we needed a new set. I started texting Gabe a price of the set I wanted, and this lady comes over and says excuse me. So I stepped out of her way and kept texting. Then she says, "Can I ask you something?" And I'm thinking, LADY. I'm wearing a red corduroy jacket and a green scarf. NOT a blue vest. I DO NOT work here. Then she launched into an approach for Mary Kay and inside I'm like, No, not again, please, not again! But she actually complimented my clothing, said I was cute and stylish, and I have beautiful eyes. Then she said, "Let me spoil you."

Now, ladies? Can you at least see the draw in this? You're a young, sleep deprived mom who's lucky to get a shower in, and someone says you're pretty AND stylish, and then the magic words: spoil you. SPOIL. YOU. And it's not some creepy man? You say yes. We'd all say yes, right?

(Or am I still a pushover? I know that line was probably in the training too but come on. I need to be spoiled. Even if it's with too much foundation and blush.)

I'm going to take her literally and assume "I'm going to spoil you," will not eventually mean "Here's a bowl of water, now GIVE YOURSELF A FACIAL." I'm going to be in her book, and I don't even know what that means, but I hope it doesn't mean she's going to kill me, put a frilly dress on me, give me some rouge and photograph me for her Book of Life Size Dolls I Made.

I have the appointment this evening. I'd rather walk and run again, but I hope I won't mind being "spoiled." And I better be back home in time to watch The Office!


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

baby steps

We can't afford the purchases right now but I've been researching different things that could help me in my spring and summer outdoorsy quest, and I found out that some bike trailers convert right into jogging strollers!

A single beam of light is shining upon my hopeful face.

I walked briskly and even jogged part of the way for 1.3 miles today when Gabe got home. I know that's not far or a big deal (I can actually hear some of your eyes rolling) but for me, in the states my mind and body are in now, it's kind of huge. Plus, like Gabe told me, I have to start somewhere.

Now, if only I hadn't consumed half a box of Bottlecaps today. And a doughnut (but it was only 49 cents with my coffee this morning!). And a coffee with cream and extra sugar (they actually have me the wrong one... whoever got my actual order was probably really pissed. I drank their coffee anyway.)

Tomorrow I'll be better. My walk/run has really done a lot for me already.

Monday, March 16, 2009

An overly productive Monday (by McCourtney-Wolf standards)

So far today I have:

+ Slept in and snuggled in bed with Liam
+ Gotten us both ready in time for Gabe's lunch break so we could get the car for the afternoon
+ Eaten a well-balanced lunch
+ Drawn and read with Liam
+ Shipped two orders and found a post office that still has Edgar Allan Poe stamps in stock!
+ Purchased Liquid-Plumr
+ Wondered why they purposely misspell "plumber"
+ Liquid-Plumr-ed the bathroom sink
+ Resolved not to let as much of my hair go down the drain of the bathroom sink
+ Taught Liam how to say sealion (dee-lie!) and stingray (dee-ray!)

Later on I will:

+ Bring washed bedding to the laundrymat to dry
+ Wash and hang to dry another load of laundry
+ Scrub the tub and shower
+ Wash the dishes

I am currently contemplating:

+ Cleaning up and vacuuming the living room before we go pick Gabe up from work DONE!

ALSO. If you're in or near Maine you must, MUST go to the Portland Museum of Art for the Rock'n'Roll Photography exhibit. It ends on March 22, so hurry!

Sunday, March 15, 2009


I am having delusions fantasies of wonderful outdoor things we can do this spring and summer, now that we live in a more temperate climate and Gabe has normal (not overnight like last summer) work hours.

I want the three of us to go hiking and biking and walking and swimming and running and all kinds of wonderful things that will keep our minds and bodies healthy.

I want a bike that isn't too tall for me, with a bike trailer for Liam to sit in. We'll bike everywhere.

I wish we owned a canoe or kayaks so we could paddle around Range Pond or the marshes in Scarborough.

I want us to take two walks a day! And not breathe heavy after coming back up the hill!

I'd love to have a jogging stroller!

I wonder if my Target sneakers would hold up through hiking Mt. Katahdin. Ha!

I want to be covered in sun block and bug spray until September!

I just want to GET OUT. We've spent the winter cooped up- we've stayed in the living room a lot, since it's the warmest room in our apartment. It's the warmest because it doesn't have any windows, because the windows here are old and seriously drafty. Drafty like, you walk by and feel a cold WIND. Even when it's not WINDY. This winter was ridiculous and we've got ants in our pants. (Please don't take that literally.)

And next winter? We're buying a plastic sled around Thanksgiving, since stores stop selling them right after Christmas (!!!). And I want to go cross country skiing all! the! time!

The weather is getting warmer and warmer- in the 40's and 50's some days!- and we've already gone on a few walks and breathed fresh air. Not fresh, five-degree air drafting in THROUGH our windows. But real, sunny, cool air. This week is supposed to be amazing, weather-wise, and I can't wait to keep getting out!

Saturday, March 14, 2009


This week I went to the PostSecret lecture at Bates College and yeah, I totally cried in public but I wasn't alone.

The PostSecret founder, Frank Warren, spoke about how and why he started the project and how it evolved into what it is today. He shared some of his favorite secrets that have been sent in as well as some secrets that can't be shared online or in the books, and then invited questions and secrets from the audience.

One girl said that she works in a grocery store, and whenever someone buys condoms she wonders what they're like in bed. If they buy the Trojan Magnums she can't help but look at their crotch.

Another girl's secret was that everything she did was for someone else- friends, family classmates- and that she didn't know how to live for or do anything for herself.

Someone said she was going to cosmetology school in hopes she can learn how to make herself as beautiful as her sister.

A young woman stood up and said, "My greatest desire is to get rid of my cell phone and laptop and move to a commune with my Latin professor, but I don't want anyone to think I'm a hippie."

A girl, in tears, said she had been laid off that day and was in a car accident on her way to the lecture and she wasn't sure how she was going to make it.

The one that made me cry (not just sniffle, but tears streaming down my face), and made the whole audience give out a sympathetic gasp/sigh was a girl who, the last time she'd seen her mother, told her she wished she was dead. A few days later, her dad called her to tell to her that her mom had passed away.

I didn't stand up and tell a secret at the lecture, but I am going to now:
The night before my grandmother died, I fell asleep before I said my prayers. I have always felt guilty about it as though I could have saved her with my prayer, even though she was sick anyway and I know this guilt is irrational.

I also have a silly secret: I think Liam's umbilical hernia (that healed on its own months and months ago) was the universe's way of punishing me for being so ridiculously freaked out by outties- or it could have been a simple lesson, like, "See? They're not so bad."

What's YOUR secret?

xoxo Nora

this week

I forgot that on Monday morning Heather Armstrong was to appear on the Today Show for their Digital Moms segment with Meredith Viera. I read Dooce regularly so I was mad for a second, until I found the video on her blog anyway.

One thing I managed to remember this week (we slept right through our chance to go to story time at the library) was Cursive's appearance on Letterman last night. Cursive is one of my all-time favorite bands because TIM KASHER IS A CONSTANT BRILLIANT STORM.

And I love the strength and ache in his voice; his voice will always get me, whether he's singing Cursive songs or The Good Life.

Check out the new Cursive album, Mama, I'm Swollen, but don't be like Letterman and say it like it's a joke!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Channeling Gwen (before she went b-a-n-a-n-a-s)

I got a new dress to wear to this past weekend's art show, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE it. I'm going to be wearing a lot when the weather allows.

I know this picture isn't full-length but you can get an idea:

I bought it because it reminds me of Gwen Stefani's dress in the video for "Don't Speak" which came out when I was in 8th grade. I have been looking for a similar dress since that time, and at the age of 27 I finally found a reasonable facsimile.

* DRESS: Dare I admit it? Taylor Swift for Walmart.
(I know. Part of my soul just withered.)
* EARRINGS: Passionflower on Etsy. CLICK IT!
* NECKLACE: a gift from my mother-in-law

Monday, March 9, 2009

pronunciation key

One day Liam helped me fold laundry and he found my $1 Valentine socks, which he insisted I put on his feet immediately.


He is now twenty-one months old. Here's a list of some of his charming, inexact toddler talk:

apple = ab-oh, ab-ol
banana = mah-na
bath = bahh
belly = beh-ee
blanket = bank-ah
bunny = bah-ee
cheese = sshhhhh
chickpea = chi-pee
cookie = kee-kee
cup = dup
Daddy = Dah-ee
diaper = dipe or dipe-uh
eat = eeeeaT (emphasis on E and T)
fart = bart
go = goooooooo!
happy = abby or habby
hat = haT (emphasis on the T)
kick = tick
kitty = ditty
Mama = MuhMuh, MumMum, Mah-mee
more = mo-ah? (always a question)
morning = morrin
owl = owwa
pee = peeee-peeeeeeee
pickle = pucka
poop = pup
potty = paw-ee
sheep = deep
shoe = doo
sleep = deep
sorry = dorry
stop = dop!
tickle = tick-uh
toe = doe
turtle = torrel
uncle = ung-o
water = wah-er
whale = way-ohhhhhh

The words he has perfected are the ones he's been saying the longest, like book, dog and duck- but he also says Pop very well. Pop is my dad, Liam's Grandpop.

He's putting more words together, like "my cup"/"daddy's cup"/"i poop"/"kitty eat". So far his longest sentence is still "I did a poop."

By his second birthday he'll be reading and reciting full encyclopedia entries, I'm sure.

That is, if he doesn't get too busy pretending to sleep, like this:


Tuesday, March 3, 2009


In his noble quest to broaden his food horizons (he's a self-proclaimed picky eater but I proclaim it for him too), Gabe recently discovered that not only does he like to drink grapefruit juice, he actually likes eating the fruit it came from.

Direct quote: "Why do they call it grapefruit? There aren't any grapes in it. Maybe they meant to say GREAT-fruit."


Sunday, March 1, 2009

Why I love my husband.

Sometimes, when we're not ridiculously tired and Gabe doesn't fall asleep in the short time frame between going to bed and me turning off the lights and following him, we lay in bed and giggle and make fun of each other, which makes us giggle more.

Some frequent topics of our fun-poking:
... my giant nostrils that flare spontaneously while I am talking
... the weird, high-pitched rush of air that comes out before his laugh when he's tired
... my undying love for the song "To Be With You"
... the way he uses words wrong or mispronounces the right ones
... my impossible crush on John Krasinski
... the crush he doesn't have on Natalie Portman but I make fun of him for it anyway
... when we both fail at successfully making fun of each other

We're really sweet, I know.

Here is a recent exchange that occurred after I made fun of him for something that I can't even remember:

Gabe: Good night, jerk.
Me: Good night, jerkier.
Gabe: Good night, jerkiest.
Me: Good night, King of the Jerks Infinity.
[Then I cracked up.]
Gabe: Good night, my wife who acts twelve years old.

I love him so much.