Where would I even start?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009
E: "I see Target! I want to buy a car."
Me: "Sorry, sweetheart. Dad buys you cars. Next time you come to Target with dad, maybe he'll buy you one, but we're not getting one today."
E: "Turn around. Let's go way back there. Go far away."
Me: "Oh, we can't leave yet. We have to stop and get Miss S a birthday present. Remember? We're going to her birthday party tomorrow at the jumpy castle place."
E: "I don't want to buy Miss S a present. She can't like presents. I can't like the jumpy castle place. I'm not a good jumper. I have fat feet. See? Look. at. my. feet."
Me: ...nothing. I got nothing. How do you counter that kind of argument?

Whatchu lookin' at?

Friday, December 18, 2009
 
It was brought to my attention that the first picture I put up of B was the one with Santa where she looks like a guido. Now, before all the guidos who read my blog go unsubscribing from my feed, let me respectfully kiss your ass by saying this: You guys are a handsome bunch of men. I love what you do with your hair, and oh, when you unbotton those top shirt buttons...I swoon. But little girls should not look like gangstas.

So here she is, in all her Tummy Time glory. And like the nurse at the peditrician's office pointed out...why yes, she is "freakishly" strong. And for all you nurses out there, please don't use the word "freakish" when describing someone's baby, even if you do mean it in a kindof compliment. Capisce?
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Pee Pee in the Potty

Thursday, December 17, 2009
Um, so yeah. I guess we're potty training learning.

About a week ago, E asked his dad to take a bath with him and D told him, "No, you pee in the tub and no one likes to bathe in piss water," or something like that. E tried to convince his father that the pee was only over there and not over here and as long as he stayed on this side of the tub, no piss water would sully him. D wasn't buying it.

So the next night, it was my turn and since I didn't feel like taking a bath, I told E that I couldn't take a bath with him unless he peed in the Potty because like his father, I choose not to bathe in a tinkle-filled tub. Sure enough, E called my bluff and the kid freaking peed in the potty. And has every night since. So today, since we were home-bound, I decided to take it up a notch. I put on his bright orange training pants, told him they were special big kid underwear and that he couldn't pee in them, and I let him run around with no pants on. I even let him eat dinner sans pants.* He stayed dry all day and even saved up his poop till evening, where he proudly deposited it in the toilet. Then he demanded I do the same.

*Like I told our friend Shags, ten years ago, had I eaten dinner with a boy with no pants on, my evening would have turned out much differently.

Swim swim

Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Prompted by "Raising Intuition," an article in this month's Mothering Magazine, I asked E if he remembered what it was like before he was born - when he was in my belly. He said he did. But then again, he hates not having an answer and always, always answers "yes," even if he has no idea what the hell I'm talking about.

"Hey, E. Do you remember what it was like when you were in my belly?"
"Yes."
"What do you remember? What was it like?"
"Hmmm...Water."

How. Crazy. Is. That?!?

Also, now that I'm seeing this in writing, I realized that he said water and not agua. He always says agua. It's the only Spanish word he uses exclusively. Double crazy.

2 am haiku

You slept all day. Why?
Nine weeks - you should know better
Now I'm hungry. F*ck.

Ho ho no

Monday, December 14, 2009
 
Now, before you all go judging me...let me tell you up front, with crystal clear self-awareness, that I took the kids to go see Santa, not for them, but for me and D. B has been on this planet a little over 2 months. She doesn't even realize yet that she's got hands. And E was only excited because like the idiots we are, we got him all fired up to go see Santa, thinking that it would make standing in line and sitting in a strange old man's lap a little less painful.

Our first attempt to see the fat guy was Saturday. B and I stood in line while E and his dad raced around the mall. We got there shortly after the mall opened and the line was already 60+ minutes long. Then an "elf" came over and told our section of the line that Santa would be taking a scotch and cigarette milk and cookies break right around the time that we would be seeing him. Which meant that if we didn't make the noon cutoff, we'd be waiting an additional 30 minutes. Yeah? No.

Which is why I found myself doing this solo. Or as I jokingly refer to it, so-low. Against his very loud wishes, I dressed E in a button down shirt, dressed B in an attempt to make her look feminine and cute without looking cutesy, and buckled them into the car a full hour before the mall was to open. Fed B in the parking garage and we were out of the car four minutes after the official Santa start time. We shuffled our little legs as quickly as we could past the elderly mall walkers and as we rounded the bend, I could see that the line was not as long as it was on Saturday. Yea for us!

Luckily, the line moved fast (40 minutes or so) and the kids all entertained each other. B was in good spirits, having just woken up from a toasty warm nap in the Ergo. E was singing the Wonder Pets theme song with alternate lyrics (Wonder Pets, Wonder Pets, We're on Our Way...too see Santa and save the day...) and honing his wall-scaling skills. It was finally our turn and like the fearless little boy that he is, E climbed up the steps and got in Santa's lap.

"Have you been a good little boy for Santa?" he whispered.
"Yes. I want the Wonder Pets."
"Do you like toys and trains and trucks and cars?" again with the whisper.
"Yes. And I like the Wonder Pets, too."
"And you've been a good little boy for Santa?" whisper whisper.
"Yes. And that's my mom."
"Yes, but you have to be a good little boy for Santa," enough with the whispering already.
"Yes. I want the Wonder Pets."

You gotta hand it to Cherry Creek. They pick very authentic looking Santas. But I'm pretty sure that the real Santa wouldn't have insisted on whispering to E about being a "good little boy for Santa" over and over again. Maybe it's just me, but in the past three years we've gone twice to see Santa and the first time the guy looked like he had cirrhosis of the liver with a side of hepatitis and this year the guy had a creepy whisper. But you know what? Who cares? Because we were all dressed up and I was getting a picture thankyouverymuch.

I looked through the five pictures the elf behind the camera took and pick the least crappy best one. E looks like he's high and B looks like one of the Sopranos. Awesome. We paid a steep price for a mediocre picture and we were out of there. I got home, plugged the flash drive in and guess what. It doesn't work. It doesn't effing work. I tried blowing on it, plugging it in a different port, shaking it, rebooting my laptop, everything. The bottom half of the picture is yellow. I sent an email to the address on their website and this is what I got:

Dear Ms. J,

I am very sorry for the problem that you have described. Unfortunately, there is no easy fix. I would be happy to set up a retake photo (no waiting) if that is a convenient option. Of course, I will be happy to refund you for the package you purchased. Please advise, and again I offer my sincerest apologies.

Denise


While I am impressed with their customer service, I am loath to even consider going back, line or no line. I send her this response:

Denise,

I don't know if you have children, but I have a newborn and a 2.5 yr old. It took us all morning, and quite a few tears, to get ready to go see Santa. And to tell you the truth, I didn't do it for the kids, I did it for myself. Since I already feel guilty for dragging them out to the mall, sitting them in some strange man's lap, and begging them to SMILE! just once, I wouldn't lather, rinse and repeat if you paid me. So we'll gladly take the refund.

I appreciate how quickly and kindly you responded to my email. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season.

Mrs. J


Now excuse me while I go whisper a bunch of swear words under my breath.
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Busy busy

Friday, December 11, 2009
Busyness seems to be all around us these days. The dentist was "busy" (that's what E grabbed onto in his attempt to understand my bizarre behavior, and that's what I let him think), Target was busy, the breakfast food playground at the mall was busy when the line - 90+ minutes! - to see Santa was too busy. The child who till now has had free reign whenever we are out in public, with the admonition to "Stay where you can see me and I can see you" should he venture off a little too far, has had to hold momma's hand because, you guessed it, every where we go is very busy.

D is going to be gone most of next week. Since he decided to go on this work trip, I've been living in denial. There was no way I can do this alone. E requires a constant presence not only at bedtime, but throughout the night as well. And while B is an easy, easy baby, she still requires constant attention - whether it be feeding, diaper-changing or her new favorite activity, having someone bear witness to her "gees" and her ear-to-ear smiles. That being said, up until yesterday, I was terrified. Shaking-in-my-boots-peeing-in-my-pants terrified. Hence, the descision to dethrone E as the nap and bed time tyrant that we let him he's become.

Yesterday at nap time I decided to put the hammer down. That's it. I was confident that E was ready to start sleeping on his own again (it's been weeks since the stomach flu that started this whole thing) so I had a talk with him. I explained that he would sleep in his bed, B would sleep in her bed (in case his nocturnal reluctance had anything to do with the fact that B is indeed not sleeping in her bed), Scout would sleep in his bed, momma and daddy would sleep in their bed and Baci, well, Baci sleeps on the couch.

"Mom, your bed is too busy?" My eyes welled up. I fought the urge to reassure him that my bed would never be too busy for him.
"Yes, sweetheart. My bed is too busy."
He cried and cried as I left. I stood at the top of the stairs, listening as his screams turned to cries that quickly turned to forced hacks of self-pity. Within minutes, his breaths deepened into sleep and my breaths deepened into relief.

High on the success of naptime, we decided to keep the momentum going and be hardasses at bedtime. Funny that I say "we," because I get all the flack for being a push-over, but guess who the real pushover in this household is? Yup. Dad. Anyway, I got volunteered for the job of bedtime meanie. And I embraced the role - the looming business trip being all the impetus I needed.

"Alright, buddy. Remember, you sleep in your bed, B sleeps in her bed..."
"Mom, you want to sleep with me?"
"I do sweetheart, but I have to sleep in my own bed. We all have to sleep in our own beds. I'll come and check on you in a few minutes, okay? Good night, sweetheart. I love you."
"Maw-mah! Maw-mah! Maaawww-maaahhhh!!!"

I ran down the stairs and sat on the couch across from D. He knows how much this kills me and since he didn't have to leave our first born in tears, it's his job to have the resolve that he can see is rapidly starting to crack in me. "What are we going to do? Cave?" D asks, knowing that that's not an option. I don't back down because I never want the suffering thus far to be for naught. No, we're not going to cave. I channeled my inner-21st century president and fortified myself. I had resolve.

So what do I do? I cave. Well, sort of. I go upstairs to check on E, as promised, and as I walk in, he's shaking his head from side to side, crying hysterically.
"I can't sleep my byself."
"Why not, buddy?"
"I can't like it."
"Why not?"
"Because I'm afraid." Oh. My. Goodness.
"What are you afraid of?"
"Somebody."
"What do you mean, somebody?" By this point, I'm in bed with him, petting him and trying to console him without showing my hand, just in case this kid is a mastermind and has concocted an entire Oscar-worthy performance, forever cementing his place in our bed.
"I'm scared. I can't like sleeping my byself. Mom, you wanna sleep with me?"
"Listen, pumpkin. Dad and I are here to keep you safe. It's part of our job. And it's ok to feel afraid sometimes, but I want you to know that Dad and I would never, ever let anything bad happen to you, okay?"
"Mom, you want to sit with me?"
"Of course, sweetheart. I'll sit here with you for a two minutes and then I'll go downstairs."
"You can leave the door open a little bit?"
"Sure."

That was all he needed. The door open. A little bit. I sat with him for a few minutes and then reiterated my previous safety talk, reassuring him that we were just downstairs and that we loved him and wouldn't let anything happen to him. And for the first time in weeks and weeks, he fell asleep alone and stayed that way till morning. What are the chances that we got off that easily? What are the chances?

Pronouns shmonouns

Thursday, December 10, 2009
Language development in toddlers has to be one of my most favorite things about this age. That, and the fact that taking their clothes off instantly turns them into roaring rockets and automatically causes them to run around the house, pedaling their skinny little legs at a whirlwind pace.

Back to the language...some recent highlights:

"I can't like the light on." You mean, you don't like the fact that I asked you not to stand on your step and turn the lights on and off. On and off. On and off. On and off. ON AND OFF!
"The little girl is sad. Her wants her daddy." Yes, she does want her daddy but her daddy is busy looking at that other mommy. He's what we call a jackass.
"Poop has not name." You're right. Poop doesn't have a name. Why would we name your poops? Just because we indulge your desire to name every inanimate object we come across (i.e. Joe the cell phone tower) does not mean we are naming poop. It's a waste of a perfectly good name.
"I do. I knows." His response to an exasperated "Oh, who knows?!?" Oh, so you knows. Then why did you ask me in the first place?!?
"He was roofing. That dog was going roof, roof." This one needs no further explanation.
"Need help, guys?" Ok, this is just cute. E calls his father and I "guys." And what makes it even funnier is that he says this with a sweet, expectant look on his face because he's offering help in a ploy to gain entrance into the kitchen while one of us is cooking. And he thinks one of these days, it's going to work. Gotta give the kid points for tenacity.

Dentist

Sunday, December 6, 2009
So I have a confession to make that is going to make me sound like an elitist snob, which I'm not. I made a dentist appointment for E at the children's dental place right up the road from us and we were there 30 minutes before I grabbed him and walked out. This is the part I'm ashamed of...ready? We walked out because the place was not "nice." There were tons of children and I talked to about half of them in those 30 minutes and they were terrifying me with their stories. One kid came out with blood still gushing out his mouth (tooth pulled) and one girl opened her mouth to show me the tooth they were going to pull and her entire mouth was golden yellow and her molars were flat. And the more I looked around, the more panicked I became. Plus the office has a "no parents in the back" policy, which I would have been ok with had there not been so many rotten and bleeding mouths yammering at me. I don't know if the state of the waiting room mouths was an accurate reflection on the competence of the dentists in the office, but holy crap. I flipped. Mumbled something about waiting too long and lunch and grumpy kid and ran out of there like the building was on fire.

At least that's why I think I left. I have tried to look at it from every angle - to make sure I'm being honest with myself - and I think I am. But there's a nagging feeling I can't shake. Why did I really leave? Was I afraid of something else? I'm pretty confident that E's going to get a good prognosis from whatever dentist we go to. He rarely drinks juice, hardly ever eats candy and brushes his teeth every single night and most mornings. So it's not like I was afraid that they were going to find cavities or anything. I don't have any traumatic childhood dental experiences haunting me, so it's not that either. So what could it have been? Other than the fact that there was something really unsettling about the office itself? Hmmm.

On the 1st day of December

Tuesday, December 1, 2009
We started putting up the Christmas tree. It's perched on E's train table and it fills up the picture window quite beautifully. The only thing is, it's a fake tree. We bought it two years ago (or is it three?) because we were tired of the dried out and remarkably expensive trees that we'd been getting. Also, a friend and co-worker of D's had convinced him it was the way to go, and so I bought one in the post-Christmas discount extravaganza that is Target on the 26th of December. And while it's a nice enough tree, it's not really a tree. But whatever. As soon as the kids care enough, we're making hot cocoa, trudging deep into national forest and chop, chop, chopping one down.

As D was bringing up the boxes of ornaments, it dawned on me that 90% of the ornaments we have acquired over the last decade are glass. Some of them were given to us, some of them I bought at the really cool two-story Target with the TVC Labettes on a loooong lunch, and some are sentimental, like the ornament we bought one year at Steamboat (I think that was the year we slept in the truck and woke up to the silliest powder ever.) The most sentimental ones, however, are the ones that we made in 2007. One is an imprint of E's tiny little hand, and the other is of his foot. But once I remembered that I'd been smart enough to pack those in their own box, I relaxed. And quite frankly, I surprised myself when I realized that I really didn't care if some of them broke (the glass ones, not the sentimental ones.) I've slowly become ok with the inevitable carnage that comes with having a two-and-a-half year old boy. Screw it, I say. Because it's a lot more enjoyable to be relaxed and put up ornaments than to wig out and frantically micro-manage what should be a fun evening with the family.

And boy, was it fun. E was so excited. It was right out of the movies - E dove into the first box of ornaments with gusto and the contents of the box went a'flying. I ran back into the kitchen to finish cleaning up and heard D mutter, "Oh no. We've got a man down." We lost a Santa. Luckily, the jingle bell on a ribbon and the 30 feet of beads caught his fancy and we only lost a total of 2 ornaments...so far. And the next morning, he is still running around with a bell on a ribbon slung across his shoulder. Reminds me of the days that I considered belling him in public so that I could keep track of him. Ah, those were the days...

So I let E put up ornaments. And put them up he did. Even the glass ornaments. And this is what he did with them. It was so worth it.

 
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C is for cookie...

Monday, November 23, 2009
 
E has an imaginary friend. Actually, she's not quite imaginary. She is one of Linny's trusty side-kicks on the Wonder Pets.

For those of you who don't know, TWP are three classroom pets that receive a cry for help via a can on a string, jump in their frisbee "fly boat" and answer the baby animal's call of distress. And while they're no real American heros, they are cute and funny and sweet...mostly.

Anyway, back to E's lispy imaginary friend, Ming-Ming. Ming-Ming sits at the table with us. She has her own placemat, her own cup, and her own food. She reads books with us, E says "excuse me" whenever she gets in his way, and she lets me wash her wings when we're all done eating. E shares his food with her, and not just the stuff he doesn't like. Nope, he shared his M&M's with her. Shared his M&M's! M&M's are such a rare treat in this house...well, for him anyway. I eat them almost every day. But, yeah. He shared his M&M's with her! As in two for me and two for Ming-Ming. And they sat on her mat for a solid five, six, maybe seven minutes before one of them disappeared. And then it was another four or five minutes before I looked over again and the last chocolate-coated delicacy was gone and there was a tell-tale streak of Red #5 around E's lips.

Now, my intention had been to keep E away from the tv till he was at least three but what I hadn't factored in to my grand (read: naive) plan was that I would become pregnant and so sick that I would turn to tv as my savior. I was at about week 6 when all of a sudden whoa! It was all I could do to keep my eyes open and my mouth puke-free. So on the really rough days, those days where there was no. other. way., I would spend a blissful 30 minutes or so, usually in the morning, propped up on the back of the couch, with one arm draped across E's lap (safety precaution) and we would watch a little tv.

Because I felt so guilty, I would keep one eye open so that I could talk to him about what we were watching (I read somewhere that this made it better...perhaps like it's better if you say excuse me after you fart in public.) I started with Sesame Street's 123 Count with Me/Learning About Letters (C is for cookie, that's good enough for me...) Again, to alleviate my guilt, I rationalized that he'd be learning the alphabet and his numbers. Plus, I'd been warned by seasoned parents never to let your kids listen to or watch something that you don't want to have run through your brain in perpetuity (C is for cookie, that's good enough for me...)

D and I agreed that old-school Sesame Street songs were as good as it gets as far as ear worms go. We were having fun with the 123's and ABC's. We sang along and E was "learning" his numbers*, so I'm not quite sure when or why we veered off that path, but I know that we watched a few episodes of The Backyardigans (too sophisticated) and a few episodes of Little Bill (too annoying) before stumbling upon TWP.

While I find the program's message of team-work and helping those in need to be well-intentioned, I do take issue with the fact that it's a bit stereotypical and borderline racist. Jewish squirrel mom happy that her baby is rescued from a roller coaster at Coney Island...Baby flamingo's Jamaican uncle is happy that TWP rescued his nephew, mahn (in every other episode it's one/both of the parents that thank TWP at the end)...fat old Cajun frog needs a wheelchair...Chinese panda who can't pronounce her R's...see where I'm going with this? I mean, really? You need to teach two-and-a-half year olds that black babies don't have daddies? I'm just waiting for the episode where a baby manatee gets caught by the propeller of a speedboat off the coast of Cuba and all 15 cousins, three aunts and a drunk uncle come to thank TWP. Because as out-raged as I am, I'm not going to do anything about it till they offend my people.

So why do we let E watch TWP? First off, he watches about 3 or 4 hours of tv a week, not counting football with dad. And that's only when there's a minor baby emergency, usually when B needs a bath or is going through a growth spurt and is nursing for the 6th time before 9:00 am or when it's too crappy to go out. If the weather is nice - and we have a very liberal definition of "nice" around here because I have found that the quality of our day is directly proportional to the amount of time we spend outside - and we ride scooter or walk to one of our neighborhood parks or just play basketball in the front yard...but we make sure to get outside.

Also, I'm confident that at two-and-a-half, E is not picking up on the subtle undercurrents of racism that make me cringe. However, he is definitely picking up on the overt messages of teamwork and ingenuity. He talks a lot more about helping and sharing and trying again and finding a different way. Things that, apparently, you can only learn from cartoon animals because when I suggest he tries something a different way, oh nelly.

And the number one reason we let him watch? Because it makes him laugh out loud. D and I can't help but indulge in a little TWP because seeing E so happy makes us really happy, too.

* Children at this age aren't really counting. They're reciting a string of words. Knowing how to count implies understanding cardinality and one-to-one correspondence, a skill that does not emerge till much later.
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Beer, Boobs, Boards and Belays

Thursday, November 19, 2009
Here's a list of all the places I've nursed one kid or the other and let me tell you, there's a real theme here...

Walking down the frozen-food aisle at Target
On the mats at Rock'n and Jam'n
In the neighbor's backyard
On Bear Creek Trail near the golf course
The lodge at A Basin
At a cocktail table at Gordon Biersch
At a breakfast table at Table Mountain Inn
The front seat of the car (not moving)
The back seat of the car (moving* and not moving)
The beer garden at Golden City Brewery (see below)
In front of the lions at the Denver Zoo
The doctor's office
Every room of our house
That crappy bar at the base of Breckenridge (what is that bar called?)
On an airplane (multiple times)
The beach at A-Basin
In a public restroom (never again!)
On every hiking trail in the front range, but one worth mentioning was a gorgeous fall hike through Beaver Creek
Patio table at the Red Lion
In the lounge of the women's powder room at Nordstroms
Myrtle Beach, both at the swimming pool and at the beach
The ski patrol hut at Blue Sky Basin **
At a rehearsal dinner
At the wedding the next day
Climbing at Scout Rock
On the warm sands of South Beach
Hiking St. Mary's Glacier (D actually stopped someone and had them take a picture of us. E was chowing away in the Ergo. They had no idea.)
Climbing at the Iron Clads

* E was safely buckled in his rear-facing car seat. I, on the other hand, was precariously perched, suspended above him with my boob in his mouth.
** Actually, I pumped here. I should get extra points for pumping in the back bowls of Vail, 11,000+ feet above sea level and in full snowboard gear.

Nursed or pumped somewhere interesting? Would love to hear about it!

 
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It's science

Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Thanks to Cloud's blog, I had an AHA! moment and realized that part of B's problem, and quite possibly all of B's problems - are because of my overactive letdown. We've been working on it for a bit over a week and things have improved remarkably. She's a lot less gassy and not nearly as frustrated at the boob. So I'm posting about it just in case it helps one other mom identify and rectify a very frustrating issue. Thanks, Cloud!

Mothers & Daughters - Part One

Saturday, November 14, 2009
"Oh, Gawd. I hope we don't have a girl."

It was maybe March and the fact that we were pregnant for the 2nd, and probably the last, time was sinking in. E and D were convinced it was a girl. I was terrified that they were right. "Oh, man. I hope it's not a stupid girl." I was more than a little bit serious. But not for the reason you think. Sure, I'd roll my eyes and talk about how girls are such a pain in the ass when they get to the tween years and who wants to deal with short skirts, bad attitudes and dopey boyfriends? But really? The reason I didn't want a girl? Because I'm not sure I can be a good mother to a daughter.

--------------------------------------------------------------

I have the distinct pleasure of hanging out a friend's four year old little girl - we'll call her Miss S, where the "s" stands for smart - and I thoroughly enjoy it. She's cute, she's curious, she's intelligent, she's thoughtful. And at the zoo the other day, while sitting over by the gorillas and nursing the babies, my friend and I discussed Miss S's social development. Basically, she's one of the youngest student's in her class and while she's on par with her peers academically, her teachers would like her to be more social. I was listening to my friend talk about this and I found myself becoming fiercely protective of Miss S. My brain raced to defend her. I watched her playing with E and thought - that girl's got social skills. Look at her! She's entertaining a 2 yr old and that's no easy feat.

Her mother and I volleyed back and forth. She wanted to respect the judgment and concerns of Miss S's teachers but also wanted to make sure that this wasn't a mole hill turned mountain. Is it really a problem? And why? I started offering reasons for her social "short-comings"...She might be an introvert! Maybe the other kids are not stimulating conversationalists and they're boring her! And all of a sudden it hit me - I was just like Miss S at her age. By defending her, I was defending myself. I preferred the company of adults. I didn't always have the desire or patience to hang out with kids my age. I didn't always share their interests. I was the oldest of three. I didn't see what the big deal was with My Little Ponies. But where Miss S and I diverged was that I didn't have exposure to a lot of the shared experiences amongst children my age. I was from a different cultural background, we didn't have cable, we couldn't afford Guess! jeans, I was being raised by my father, we moved around so much that I'd lost all impetus to make the effort to make friends, etc, etc, ETC. Not to mention that I was a tragic introvert and preferred to escape in a book. And I didn't have a parent with the knowledge and awareness to carefully examine both sides of the situation and advocate for me regardless of the outcome. So while my isolation was part choice, it was also part circumstance. But it seems like Miss S's is all choice and if that's what makes her happy...

On the way home, with E chatting it up in the backseat and B whimpering like a puppy in the seat next to him, I glanced in the rearview mirror and realized again that I had a daughter now. Little by little, I've come to terms with the fact that there are four of us and that one of us is a little girl. And like always, a tiny voice in my head said, "Uggg. A girl," but for the first time I let that voice finish it's thought (Hell, I didn't realize I'd been cutting it off!) The conversation went something like this:

Voice: "Uggg. A girl..."
Me: "Yeah, I know. I bet she'll want to dress up like a princess and wear make-up and prance around."
Voice: "Give me a break! That's so lame."
Me: "I know! The worst part is, I don't even know how to play princess."

Oh my goodness. It's so obvious. How could I be so stupid (shut up.) I'm afraid that I'm not going to be good at being a little girl again. I messed it up so royally the first time around that I'm frozen with fear at the prospect of reliving it all. Looking back at myself as a little girl, I feel so bad for her that I don't want to be her again.

So what do I do? It's been over a week and I've been consumed with this question. What do I do? How do I separate me as a little girl from B as a little girl? It certainly doesn't help that she's the spitting image of me.

As far as the whole playing princess thing...I can identify everything from a front-end loader to a back-hoe to a knuckle-boom loader because right now, big machines are E's passion, so I'm confident that I can embrace B's passions with the same fervor that I've taken on E's.

But who am I kidding? That's not really the problem, is it? The real issue is how I can concurrently learn to accept, and dare I say it, even love the little girl me without allowing it to color my mothering of B. How do I allow her to be her own person and not the reincarnation of me? How do I avoid becoming a mother as horrible as this?!? Suggestions?

The One-Up Game

Thursday, October 22, 2009
Some of my girl-friends and I like to play "The One-Up Game". When we were Master's students at CU (the only school that feeds it's mascot to it's students - Go Buffs!) I invented this game because it seemed like whenever we got together at happy hour, everyone wanted to vent about something but was too polite to do it.

The rules are simple - everyone vents with the intention of having the worst story. And the beauty of the game? Everyone wins. If your story isn't as bad as another, then lucky you...it could have been worse. If your story is the champion? Then yea, you win. And there are some hilarious tales. Previous winner? Having a student who still shits his pants in 3rd grade.

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This conversation had been brewing for days and I finally caved because you know what? Fuck it. I deserved some cheap entertainment, even if it was a little cruel. Yes, I know better. I would never compare natural birth to a cesarian. I don't like to compare. I don't like to compare kids, I don't like to compare incomes, I don't like to compare, as E would say, no anything. Period. There are too many factors and too many variables.

So don't come to me and try to tell me about how natural birth is sooo much worse than a cesarean when you have never had a c-section. And if you want to keep pushing the subject, well...my hormones are spastic, physically I've never felt worse in my life, and while I couldn't be happier to have a healthy baby who sleeps and a 2 yr old who is doing his best to accomodate her, I can't help but take the bait. But prepare to be used for my personal entertainment. That's all I'm saying.

Anyway, here's the conversation as close to accurate as possible:

"You know, natural birth is so much worse than a c-section. You really should consider yourself blessed." (Yeah, blessed.)
"You think? How so?"
"Well, besides the hours of labor and pushing, I had (gasp) hemorrhoids."
"Oh. Well, isn't Percocet great? I mean, I'm sure they gave you narcotics for that."
"Well, no."
"Did you have a horrible reaction to the anesthesia? Isn't it heart-breaking to spend the whole first day of your baby's life puking and passing out?"
"Well, they didn't have to give me anesthesia."
"Oh, so you never felt like your ribs and lungs were caught between two steel plates? That's good."
"Well, I was out of breath going up and down stairs. But I guess that was just while I was pregnant...and just at the end."
"So how do you get rid of the hemorrhoids? Didn't they have to do surgery?"
"Well, no they go away on their own."
"I'm sure it sucked not to be able to drive for a couple of weeks, though. I know that's going to be really hard for me."
"Um, I could drive just fine. Well, I did have to sit on a pillow."
"What did you do for your edema?"
"What's edema?"
"Oh, you know. When your ankles swelled up from all the iv fluids they had to give you."
"I didn't get an iv."
"How long did it take for your digestive system to get back on track?"
"What do you mean?"
"You know, when did it stop hurting to...you know...have bowel movements and pass gas?"
"Oh. Um, I never had that problem. I mean, it hurt when I had um, bowel movements but only because of the hemorrhoids."
"Yikes. That's gotta suck. Well, it's so hard not to be able to go home and pick up your first born, isn't it? It tears my heart to pieces. E so desperately needs to be picked up and snuggled and I can't do it, not to mention how inconvenient it is."
Clears her throat. "I was able to pick up Tom (not his real name) by the time I got home. I didn't realize you couldn't pick E up."
"Yeah, and it's when he needs it the most. Well, how did your veins do for your blood transfusion? My veins held up ok but a week later I'm still symptomatic. I'm always short of breath and my heart is racing - it's like a perpetual adrenaline response. I needed 4 bags of blood, but they agreed to give me only two because of the risks. It sucked, huh?"
"Really? I didn't have to have a blood transfusion. I didn't realize..."
"Didn't you lose a lot of blood with your hemorrhoids?"
"Um, no. I mean...I mean, they are blood clots. But they didn't bleed. They just hurt a lot. They gave me medicated wipes for them and that helped."

Ok, so sidenote. At this point, I'm laughing pretty hard on the inside. Like I said, I feel guilty for taking advantage of this person, especially since she is not a Charter Member of The One-Up Club. To her this isn't a fun, win-win-win game between friends. But I reminded myself that she means well and that her beliefs are based on ignorance.

I mean, this is the person who frantically forwards every urban legend email that comes her way. Using your Swiffer causes cancer!?! Send! Gang members drive without headlights on and kill anyone who flashes them!?! Send! Some brands of cat litter are radioactive!?! Send! Send!!! SEND!!! If I didn't intervene on a regular basis, she'd be a Nigerian millionaire by now. Her house would be full to the rafters with Sham-wows and space-saving hangers and she'd be walking around her living room wearing a Snuggie.

So yes, I feel bad for letting the conversation go this far. But like a ninja using the attacker's momentum against him, I was taking this opportunity to help her debunk her own myths. Remember, I didn't want to have this conversation in the first place. I'd been side-stepping it for days. But I digress...

"I didn't realize that you'd had it so rough. I mean, I heard about the blood loss and poor B losing so much weight - that must have been soooo scary! - but I didn't realize..."
"Yeah, well..." And this is where I resisted the urge to say "Well, your hemorrhoids sounded horrible." No, instead, I did as I usually do.
"Yeah, well...it's amazing what we do for a tiny little human being who poops and pees and cries all the time, huh?"
I could hear the relief in her voice.
"Yeah, it is amazing. And B is beautiful. I still can't believe how much hair she has. Did you have terrible heartburn?"
"Actually, it wasn't that bad till the very end."
"Really? You're so lucky. Because I had the worst heartburn ever..."

You're doubtful, aren't you? You can't believe that after all that, she wanted to play The One-Up Game with our pregnancies. Well, she did. She went on to tell me how much worse her pregnancy was than mine, even though she knew very little about my experience. But I just nodded along with feigned interest and hoped against all hope that even a tiny little bit of our conversation made an impression on her. And if it didn't? Fuck it. I got some cheap entertainment and for a few minutes, I'd forgotten that my ankles looked like two hams with vienna sausages for toes and that I was a hideous shade of yellow. And anyway, I'm pretty sure I would won the game with this one.* Yeah. Pretty sure.

* DO NOT CLICK ON THIS LINK IF YOU:
- Have a magnet on your fridge that says "Ignorance is Bliss"
- Are male and related to me
- Have not had children yet

On tonight's broadcast...

Saturday, October 17, 2009
I know. I know. You want answers. You want to know how it went and if the rumors are true. And I'm working on it. But until then, I'll give you this:

I was touched by many self-less acts of love, like my mom and sister both so naively and earnestly offering to donate blood for my transfusion right there on the spot, as if the nurses could just run a line from their veins to mine, like jumper-cables for sick moms.

I was also touched by acts of love that lie on the opposite end of the spectrum. The ones that are not so selfless but if you cup them in your hands and rub them really hard with the hem of your shirt, they shine a little. Who says you can't polish a turd?

Speaking of turds, here's an excerpt from an email I received while in the hospital:

On my way to work yesterday, I purposely stepped in dog crap, with flip flops on, and tried to have a bird shit on my head. Both are supposed to bring you good luck, which i then sent telepathically to you. And you thought you were the only one working hard.

I mean, how selfless is that? Dog shit? In flip flops?!? And can you picture someone negotiating with pigeons, "Please??? Aw, come on. Shit on me! It's not even for me...it's for a friend." The image just kept cracking me up. Hands in the air, fist a'shaking, pleading with idiot birds while dog poop squashed between his toes. Seriously. Undeniably the sign of a true friend.

The email was signed Brian Williams, but for the life of me, I can't picture Brain William walking through the city with poop squeezing out between his toes. Come to think of it, I can't picture Mr. Williams in flips flops. But as much as I love me some Brian, he's been officially knocked down a peg. It was good while it lasted.

It's only in the morning

Friday, October 9, 2009
Dear Mr. Roof Shingle Installer Man,

I am writing to inform you that at 7 am this morning, when you spent upwards of 15 minutes trying to start your jalopy truck, I was trying to sleep. I am very pregnant and very tired and very restless and all-around very useless. My uselessness is compounded by the lack of sleep I have suffered in the last few days. I only have a few more days to go, and then all hell will break loose. My son, whom you admired yesterday as he rode his scooter past you and waved a big hello, did not sleep through the night (and by through the night, I mean, longer than a three hour stretch) till he was 14 months and 4 days old. I don't know if this baby will wreak the same havoc, but I am trying to save my strength, just in case.

You look like a nice man, and I'm sure you can understand where I am coming from. Now, I understand that you couldn't possibly know that I was sleeping just mere feet away from where your turd on wheels truck was parked and that the thunderous engine that barely powers your crapmobile truck would resonate throughout our entire neighborhood like a jackhammer screwing a diesel engine and cause me to literally jump out of bed in a panic, throw on my robe, yank up my blackout shades and glower up and down our street in a crazed, desperate attempt to locate and halt the attack on my elusive and much-needed slumber. And while I understand that you're doing the best you can with what you've got, for heaven's sake. It's 7 o'clock in the morning. Do you really need to kick-start a dying piece of shit truck this early in the morning? The sun isn't even fully awake, why should I be?

In closing, I would like to ask that if you will be working in our neighborhood in the future, that you refrain from causing such a racket.

Sincerely,
Me

p.s. Please disregard the above letter if this was retribution for what happened the other morning. I'm not sure if you saw me or if I was able to close the bathroom shades in time, but I had no idea there was someone on our neighbor's roof. I know that the last thing anyone wants to see is a pregnant woman peeing, and I apologize from the bottom of my heart if I scarred you in any way. If this was your revenge, I have to say...well played, sir. Well played.

Take five

Wednesday, October 7, 2009
I am not your stereotypical woman. I don't get manis and pedis. I don't subscribe to People or Us Weekly or any other gossip magazine, although I will peruse one in the doctor's office should it beckon to me from the coffee table as I wait for my name to be called, even though I always feel guilty for indulging. I don't care about whatsherface who married that one guy from that movie and what they're wearing or what they ate or who they slept with. I don't often cry and lucky for everyone, I don't have mood swings.* I think it's perfectly ok for a woman to jump on a snowboard, tennis court, the Supreme Court or whathaveyou and kick some ass. I don't go to the mall for fun. I don't like to compete. At least not with my friends. And I don't wear something because everyone else is wearing it. Hell, in my opinion, that's the best reason not to wear something. Especially if that something is white-rimmed sunglasses. Because I don't care how trendy they are, you look like a toolbag in them. Sorry, but you do. And I like shoes, but I don't loooove shoes - although I suspect that this is because I already owned The Most Perfect Pair of Shoes Ever.

Picture it, Madrid, 1993. The softest, must supple leather in a deep, rich chocolate brown. Stacked cork heel. A spanish version of the classic Mary Jane. Women would stop me wherever I went to compliment The Most Perfect Pair of Shoes Ever. Gay men would scream in elevators over how gorgeous my shoes were. And I loved it. I've never really been one to brag, but boy you better believe that when someone stopped me and asked me where I got those shoes, I would jut my long and skinny leg out like some sort of awkward shoe model and proudly declare, "Oh, I got them last time I was in Spain. I just couldn't resist." Yup, just like the stereotypical woman in your stereotypical chick flick. I might have even tossed my hair for effect or shooed with my hand as if all I needed was a tennis racket under one arm and a toy poodle under the other. The last time I was in Spain? Oh, you mean the only time I was in Spain. Yeah, that just doesn't have the same ring to it.

These shoes went with everything, and on my feet, they went everywhere. They went to parties. They went to clubs. They went to school and work and everything in between...Until that horrible day. I can still smell the air. We went to TCBY (remember TCBY?!?) Not sure if we were skipping school or if it was a legitimate lunch trip, but all of a sudden...splatter! Tiny little flecks of paint fell from the sky above, and in slow-motion they landed on the toes of The Most Perfect Pair of Shoes Ever. I was devastated. And because I was naive to the ways of the world, because I was in high school and didn't know any better, I stood in that TCBY parking lot and hung my head in defeat. I knew right away that they were through. Had it happened now, I would have politely asked the painter man to come down off the roof so that we could discuss how he was going to remedy the situation. But that's neither here nor there.

Something else happened that day. I said a sad goodbye to The Most Perfect Pair of Shoes EVER but I also realized that love is funny. I had beat the crap out of those shoes and as much as I loved them, they should probably have been retired long before that afternoon. But I couldn't see that. Until that paint splattered those shoes, to me they looked as beautiful as they had the day I bought them.

But like I said, I march to the beat of my own drummer. I wore a shirt all through high school that made me look like a "lampshade" because a) I loved it and b) on more than one occasion, a 20-something uber-cool semi-adult had complimented me on it. Ok, so on two occasions. But it was on two separate occasions. And I bought the shirt at this chic little vintage store on South Beach and paid good money for it. So what if my peers thought I looked stupid in it? And while I listened to The Smiths and Rage and Counting Crows just like everyone else, my favorite CD for a while was Moondance. And while I loved going to the meat-packing district in NYC and catching up-and-coming bands, I had just as much fun watching Dave Brubeck perform Time Out in this gorgeous old church in Morristown, NJ.

So what's my point? I've been thinking about this a lot lately, because as you may or may not know, I am soon going to be a mother to a little girl. And I've been having lots of conversations with B in my head lately. They've evolved from "You're the size of a kumquot," to
"Ok, look, I know you're running out of room, but other than not breathe, there's nothing I can do for you," to
"Holy cow. What if you don't like me?"

I used to make mean jokes about how I never wanted a daughter because it seems stupid to put all that energy into raising someone who is just going to end up hating you anyway. I know that I joked because part of me is afraid that I don't know how to be a good mother to a girl. I grew up without a substantial mother-daughter model. I saw my mother a couple of times a year and that didn't really afford either of us the opportunity to develop an authentic relationship. Not to mention the handful of step-mothers I had. So out of fear, I joke. But now, it's real. Now I'm going to have to step up to the plate and be a mother. To a daughter. And I think one of the first steps to loving someone else is loving yourself. And you can't really love yourself if you don't accept who you are.

So while I might not be your stereotypical woman, I am who I am. And sometimes I'm the girl in The Most Perfect Pair of Shoes Ever. And sometimes I'm the girl in the lampshade shirt. Sometimes I'm the girl who could be pretty if I just put a little makeup on. And sometimes I'm the girl who gets the nod from some tweener who saw me grab my board as I sailed off of a jump because for an old lady, I'm not that bad.

But love is funny. And my hope is that B will some day be able to look at me and love me for who I am, beat-up soles, paint specks and all. Because I plan on loving the crap out of her, no matter what drum she marches to. Unless it's country, and then all bets are off.


* Caveat: If I am pregnant, nursing or sleep-deprived, this statement could not be further from the truth.

Leftovers

I'm 38 and 1/2 weeks pregnant. I haven't slept in two nights. But tonight...tonight I'm going to sleep. I drank my TeePee Dreams. I took two Calms Forte. I swallowed three dropperfuls of Sleepytime drops. I am tinctured, tabbed and tea-ed to the hilt.

And it works. Until the pain hits. Oh god. I can't believe this is happening. There's no way. Could this? Nooooo. But...At first I fight it. You see, I've never felt these pains before. I'm 32 years old and I've never felt anything like this so I'm not sure that this is really it, you know? So I lay in bed. I flip from one side to the other, which is not an easy feat at this point. I straighten my bottom leg. I bend both legs. I put my arm up over my head. I drape my other arm over an extra pillow. I sigh. I flip back over to the side I was on. I readjust my pillows once again. And finally, I concede. Holy shit. This is it. These pains can only mean one thing...

Yup. For the first time in my life, I am about to go downstairs and have ... a midnight snack. I have never had a midnight snack before. Now, I'm not saying that I've never eaten this late before. No, I have stood in a drunk-ass pizza line at 3am with the best of them. I have sat around and munched on cold and congealed cheese dip while playing Cranium well into the night. But I have never in my life gotten up out of bed to eat because the hunger was so much that I couldn't bear it. Hunger has never interrupted what otherwise promised to be a good night's sleep. Nope. Never.

I know what you were thinking. You thought I was going into labor. Yeah, wouldn't that be nice? But alas, for reasons I am not ready to discuss, I am scheduled for my second and last C-section on Sunday. No VBAC for me. And now that I've had a few days to process it, I'm as ok as I can be. I'm terribly disappointed. I'm heartbroken. I cried my eyes out the day I found out and I still get a little choked up thinking about it. But in the end, when it comes down to it, like any good mother, I can't make the selfish choice. I can't make the choice that would make me happy, knowing that there's any potential for harm to my child. Like any mother will tell you, the sacrifices you make for your baby begin before she's even born, and you make these sacrifices so often and so willingly, that they become second nature.

"Mama, I want more." On this chilly fall morning, I looked down at my bowl of oatmeal, the perfect consistency with just the right amount of butter - the last of the butter. And like the half-full bowl of oatmeal I passed across the table to a still-hungry E, I pass this across the table to B. Without a second thought. This is just the first of a lifetime of sacrifices I will make on her behalf. And as hard as some of those sacrifices will be, as much as they will tear me up inside, each and every time, I will do it with love and without remorse. Although sometimes I might not be able to keep from thinking, "Oh, for Pete's Sake. You've got two legs. Get your own oatmeal."

Bring out the Hellmann's...

Monday, September 28, 2009
As you all know, I think that E's sense of humor is compelling. Unique. Brilliant. Beyond his years. But I might be a bit biased...after all, he is my son. And I'm guessing that a lot of what he finds funny, he finds that way because of me. I mean, he spends a good part of his life at my mercy, and some of it is bound to rub off, right?

E's ability to imagine and pretend has grown exponentially in the last few weeks and I am thrilled. I didn't know I'd be this excited about it, but I am! And so the other day we're playing with puppets and I grab the white mouse. I show him to E and declare that this mouse needs a name! We shall have a ceremony in which we bestow a name upon this very here mouse! And I turn to E, expecting a typical, banal name like "mouse" but no. Guess what he names him. GUESS!

 


He named him "Mayo."

Cheating? Kind of...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009
I just came across something I wrote for a newspaper when E was just a wee little one. Since things have been so crazy around here, and since I keep getting requests/complaints for my lack of posts, I figured I'd post it here. Yes, it's kind of cheating since I wrote it almost two yrs ago (can you believe it?!?) but if you need something sappy, then here it is. And it was bittersweet to read but makes me even more anxious for B's arrival. Down and out, baby. Down and out.

p.s. My mom gets here on Thursday, so hopefully I'll have a little extra time to type something up for you guys. Can't promise anything since I am once again gainfully employed but I'll try...

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I am a mother! This is a feeling, a revelation, that I sometimes find myself wanting to shout at the top of my lungs, and at other times, it is an almost tangible entity that I want to hold in my cupped hands and stare at in disbelief. Never does a moment pass where I am not aware of my new role. The fact that I am now, and will forever be, a mother bounces around in the head, sometimes near the front, sometimes towards the back, but ever-present. And if my mind was for a moment to forget, my body would quickly remind it. From the heaviness in my breasts, to the stubborn little pooch that holds on to my formerly flat abs with its kung-fu ninja grip, to the dull ache in my back from carrying 16 pounds of lean, mean, crazy baby machine. Even if I wanted to forget for a moment that I am a mother (which I don't) I couldn't.

I find myself wanting to scream, "Don't you understand? I have a baby at home! He's six and half months and he's not getting any younger!" when I'm standing behind someone at the grocery store who is writing a check in slow motion. I think, "Really? Who writes checks anymore? My son is doing something amazing right now, and I'm missing it because of you," as I try to distract and reassure myself that my son has not learned to crawl in the last 35 minutes, and that while I'm out of the house, my dear husband and our beautiful son are bonding. Dad's building a castle out of blocks, and our son is delightedly knocking it over, ready for the next one. They need their father and son time, but seriously, why is this woman still writing that infernal check? It's 2008, for crying out loud!

I find myself wanting to walk up to other mothers and say, "I understand! I have a baby, too. He's six and a half months old and someday he'll go to ski school, just like your little dare-devil," as I watch mothers collect what I now think might be one of the most beautiful sights in the world...tiny little children with tiny little helmets and tiny little gloves on their tiny little skis, tearing up the mountain like tiny little maniacs. They inspire me with their fearlessness and their tenacity. I caught my husband riding in file behind a half a dozen nine or ten year old skiers, hitting the same jumps they did (but getting air twice as big as they were tall) and I almost fell off my board. I had a brief glimpse of my husband and our son riding together on the mountain, and the emotion overwhelmed me, hitting me in the chest like a wave breaks on a surfer and I almost lost control.

I find myself wanting to cup all this love, all these new emotions, these fleeting moments, in my hands...and hide them somewhere. Dig a hole in our backyard and bury it, in case some day I forget what this feels like. In case some day, my heart feels a little empty and I need to replenish it. My heart swells with gratitude that our son, who at one point might not have been, is this perfect, stubborn, funny little man. I am grateful for our family, our friends, for the fact that I can stay home and raise our son. I am so grateful for our wonderful dog, who lived the first four years of his life as our first-born and surprised us all by becoming the epitome of watchful guardian. We are fortunate enough to be able to provide so much for our son, from the books that fill his room to the little baby piano I just had to buy him and for this, too, I am grateful.

So, if you are ever in line somewhere and there is a woman behind you, with a glint of impatience in her eyes, she wants you to hurry up because what she really wants is for her own world to slow down. Please understand. She has a baby at home. He's probably about six and half months old...and he's not getting any younger.

 

Razbiddies

Thursday, September 17, 2009
Sometimes the universe still surprises me.

A few months ago when we had that terrible hailstorm that damaged 75% of the roofs in our neighborhood and left my garden looking like it'd been shot down by kamikaze veggie haters, I was heartbroken. D had built me a raised garden bed for Mother's Day and E and I had spent a lot of time back there planting, weeding and mulching. As my tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, green bean, onions and pumpkin seedlings grew, so did my ability to patiently and creatively work alongside a very determined and headstrong two-yr old boy. Then the hailstorm came and left machine-gun holes in everything we had tended to. A summer without homegrown heirloom and sungold tomatoes left me depressed, but the pumpkin vine is what really broke my heart in two. I had pinned my hopes on having our very own pumpkins for E and B. As I stood in the midst of the tragedy that laid at my feet, I tried to talk myself out of the sadness. E won't care - he's 2. And B, well, she'll be days or maybe weeks old so I'm pretty sure that she won't care either. No, I confess that it was I who cared and I knew I needed to let it go. We'd buy the flavorless variety of tomatoes at the grocery store and we'd buy E a $10 pumpkin at Safeway and life would go on.

Well, our zucchini managed to make a glorious comeback (cue LL Cool J now) and let me tell you, I'm grateful it came so close to total annihilation because I can't imagine what it would have looked like had it not. We've had a steady supply of zucchini now for months and we give it away pretty regularly. The tomatoes, while fighting the good fight, didn't come back with the gusto of their neighbors, but they came back and the fruit they have offered has been delicious. But the pumpkin vines...there had to be over 100 feet of vines weaving back and forth throughout the garden, over the a/c, through the frame of the wheelbarrow and along the fence. And guess how many pumpkins we got? Just guess.

 


And the best part of all? Without the miles of vines to get in his way, now E can access the "razbiddies" himself and eat them right off the stalks. In his pajamas. With his wild-ass hair and waffle crumbs on his chin. To his heart's content. And there's nothing more gratifying than enjoying the fruits of your labor. Especially when he's enjoying the fruits of his.

 

Be the change...

Tuesday, September 8, 2009
It drives D crazy. Just when he's finally gotten used to how things are, the lay of the land, what goes where, inevitably I change it. I reorganize the pantry. I have a new system for maintaining the linen closet in order. I switch up the cloth diapers and introduce a whole new kind of cover when he just got comfortable using the old covers. He swears I do this to make him crazy.

But I don't. I strive to improve. I am constantly trying to look at my life through someone else's eyes to see if there's something I can change, something I can do better. I try to pay attention as I run through my day, and whenever there's a glitch, something one of us gets hung up on or something that doesn't sit quite right, I try to fix it.

Which brings me to my blog. While pretty, the last template wasn't reader friendly. You had to click through a couple of links to comment. The font was too big. It didn't highlight links, so unless you scrolled over them, you didn't know they were even there. So I finally said a sad good-bye (I really thought it was a cute background) and have found one that while not as cute, is better. Or at least, eliminates the issues with the old one. Is it better better? Who knows. Maybe issues with this one will crop up as it gets written on and read. But guess what...it probably won't be the last one you see. Because if there's one thing I'm not afraid of, it's changing things up.

96 months and counting

Friday, September 4, 2009
As we're hiking up St. Mary's Glacier, I'm wondering what the hell I'm doing. I'm eight and a half months pregnant, I have a backpack that is overflowing with snacks, shoes, fleeces, water, a mini first-aid kit, and a camera, and chances are I'm going to have to carry E at some point because this is a really rocky hike. Not to mention that the three of us are all fighting a cold and do I have to remind you that I'm eight and a half months pregnant?

D is a bit flustered because we got a late start. The snow will be fine because it's a glacier, but we're racing against the lunch time/nap time clock. Tick, Tock. And D usually keeps his streak alive with his imaginary friend, Andy (he's been friends with this guy for years and I've never met him and only seen one picture - highly suspect.) D typically packs up the car the night before - crampons, splitboard, avalanche beacon and sustenance - and he's usually out of the house by 4:30 am, parking lot by 6:00 am, up at 14,000 feet by 11:00 am (yes, they hike for 5 solid hours) and skiing down an avalanche path or couloir shortly thereafter. But not today. This hiking up with a pregnant wife and toddler in tow...well, it almost seems more dangerous than what he's used to.

E insists on wearing his "agua shoes" (tevas) and in keeping with the whole natural consequences parenting thing, we let him...even though it goes against our better judgment. But after he trips for the second time, we warn him that the next time he falls we are putting his sneakers on. So he falls. And we put his sneakers on. This sets him off and I'm afraid he's going to cause a landslide with his screaming and crying, it's that loud.



Once we get going again, we finally find our rhythm. A dread-locked woman with three malamutes is catching up to us and yells ahead that she'll get past us. But it takes her a while. And I realize, "Huh. We're not moving that slowly after all." Surprisingly enough, I'm not short of breath, which is amazing considering my lungs are smooshed up into the top third of my rib cage, we're at almost 11,000 feet elevation, I'm carrying 20+ lbs of crap on my back and a baby in my front. Yeah, that's a touch of smug you hear in my voice.

When we were packing up the car it was a pleasant end-of-summer morning, but up here, it is all crisp and hinting of fall. It's chilly in the shade and when we break through the trees, the sun provides a delicious warmth. I fight the urge to stop walking and turn my face up to the sun...mostly because my bladder is so full that B has started to complain and I know D is eager to get up to the top of the glacier. At this point, we can still hear the ticking of the nap clock, but it is growing fainter by the minute.

We get up to the lake and it is absolutely beautiful. E and I start scoping out the landscape for a good sitting rock and D and Scout leave us there with an I love you tossed over the shoulder. We have a snack and E throws rocks into the lake, briefly disrupting the crystal calm waters.



Then we head up to the bottom of the glacier so that we can see Dad and Scout come down the snow. I'm hoping to get there in time to take a couple of decent pictures, but I'm also trying to temper my expectations - something I've been working on a lot lately. I get these ideas in my head and then when they don't come to fruition, I'm disappointed. But I digress...

I scoop E up into my arms and sprint up the last 100 feet or so because I can see Scout careening down the glacier and I knew that D isn't too far behind. I drop E on his feet as soon as we come out of the low-growing shrubs, grab the camera and start snapping away - we need a zoom lens. Maybe for Christmas. But I have a few pics that aren't too bad. And E is so excited that he can see Dad and oh my god there's Scout!

E starts hiking up towards Scout and his dad and I take my chances. It's rocky and unstable but I think it'll make a good picture so I stay down and practically lay on the ground to get the right angle. E manages to stay on his feet and actually makes some serious progress up the slope. The boys meet up and at that moment - when Scout is yelping with excitement, D is proudly showing E the snow on his board and laughing because E thinks his snowboard boots look like gravity boots (Roaring Rockets is a current favorite) - all the morning's stresses dissolve and what I am left with is this very moment. This is the moment I will remember. This is the moment the camera will capture and everything else will fade away.



As we're hiking back down, I realize that I don't want to leave. It is a remarkably beautiful day and while it's been a mild summer, this is the first real taste of fall, and it leaves me craving more. A smile creeps across my lips when I remember all the things we've done up here over the years - none of which I can repeat here - and my heart swells to think that even though it seemed daunting initially, we managed to put our heads down and accomplish our goal. D kept his streak alive (he has skied at least once every single month for the past 8 years) and E and I were a part of it. One of the things I am most proud of is that as parents, D and I have managed to keep the most essential parts of who we are, the very core things that make us us. We are dedicated heart and soul to E and will soon be as head-over-heels in love with B, but in all the messiness that is being mom and dad, we still find ways to be him and me.

We find ourselves at a new restaurant and devour a surprisingly good lunch at Mangia in Idaho Springs. Small mountain towns are infamous for their crappy food and sub-par service but this place is a culinary oasis. We're about to pile back into the car when the smell of waffle cones has me wandering the streets with my nose up in the air like PePe Le Pew on the scent of a lady cat. D recognizes the look in my eye and takes E into the consignment shop next door to look for toddler skis so that I can peruse the ice cream flavors unhurriedly. I emerge from the ice cream shoppe with two melty cones - the girl was literally peeling the waffles off of the iron when I walked in the door. My boys sit outside the shoppe and share a cone while I try not to get ice cream on what is quickly becoming one of my favorite possessions. As I snap away, laughing at how eagerly E devours the ice cream, stopping only to look up at the motorcycles and to let D get a few licks in, I feel like my ice cream - all melty. It's not going to be just the three of us for much longer, and I know that I will look back at these times with a yearning. But I look forward to what's ahead. Today's hike serves as the perfect metaphor for the challenges, and the payoffs, of the adventure we are about to take on.

Foresight is always 20/20

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A few months ago, E was running around our front yard naked. Well, almost naked. He had shoes and a shirt on, so technically, he would have been served at any of the fine establishments that need to explicitly state their clothing requirements. He had the beginnings of a diaper rash and in an attempt to be proactive, I was letting his, you know, balls breathe. The shirt he was wearing was big on him and was just barely long enough to cover his diaper area, so I figured pish pash who cares. He's two. Most of our neighbors drive right by, wave and don't pay much attention to what we're doing. And anyway, it's our yard. I do what I want.

Scout, E and I are outside playing with this giant fabric frisbee I found at Target for $5. My sister shows up and shortly thereafter D gets home from work and well, now it's kind of a party. We're running around the yard, throwing the frisbee when our 70+ year old neighbor comes out to water her flowerpots.

Now, a little background. We love our neighbor. She's old, she's fragile, she's hard of hearing, and she is such a sweet woman. We shovel her driveway in the winter and she supplies us with cherry cider. She often compliments our family and - this is why I love her so - she includes the dog.

E throws the frisbee and it goes down into Opal's yard. He runs over to get it and turns to Opal, raising the frisbee triumphantly over his head, effectively exposing himself to her. I'm up by our front step, hiding my mortification behind my hand, hoping someone - anyone! - will run down there and grab him. A is sitting down on the sidewalk, choking on her laughter and caught between looking up at me and watching the peep show that is unfolding mere feet from her. D is closest to Opal and is trying to convince E in a low whisper to get. back. over. here. E is totally oblivious - too busy waving around his ginormous frisbee and telling Opal about how he throws! and he catches! and no Scout! no frisbee! It dawns on us that Opal hasn't quite realized what exactly is going on. She's nodding at E in that way that adults tend to do with toddlers, either because she can't hear him or can't understand him, and then all of a sudden, she tilts her head to the side and her 70+ year old eyes widen as they zoom in on E's nether regions. Her eyebrows slowly creep together and then they arch halfway up her forehead.

"My, that's a mighty big disk you have there."

This is where I pee my pants. Or come very, very close to it. She finally looks up and in our general direction announces:

"And he's certainly very proud of it."

This is where tears well up in my eyes and I have to turn away, at the risk of missing anything else dear, sweet 70+ year old Opal might say, for fear of literally springing a leak.

D runs down the incline between our yard and hers, scoops E up and smiles a huge smile at Opal. "Yes, yes he is."

The three of us can't compose ourselves. No one says a word for what seems like an eternity. Opal is still calmly watering her begonias while the three of us are in sheer agony - waiting for her to go inside so that we can laugh like a bunch of hyenas on Pixie sticks. And I can't help but think, well, at least her vision's still good. And it is a mighty big disk, isn't it?

"A real man makes his own luck" -Dwight Shrute

Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Someone commented the other day that I was so lucky to have married such a hands-on dad and I almost choked on my own spit. I'm sorry. I didn't just find him in a bar and marry him. No, no, no. This hands-on-edness was a long and arduous process. I hate to say it, but I made him a hands-on dad. I didn't find him that way. Wish I had. But I didn't. And in his defense, the foundation certainly was there. I mean, I auditioned hundreds of men for the part of husband and I picked D for a reason. Granted, I might have a let a good one - or two - slip through my fingers before D, but I have to think the stars just weren't aligned. But as great as my husband was when I found him (actually, he found me. Sitting at the upstairs bar at the Black Bear. I was just kidding about not finding him at a bar. Because that's actually where we met. But that's a whole different story...) he wasn't already a hands-on dad. No, that took some work.

In fact, it was a learning process for all of us. When I was pregnant the first time, I started to pay very close attention to the mothers around me. What were they doing that I wanted to emulate? What were they doing that wouldn't, in a million years, ever work for us? And one of the things I noticed was that the parental responsibilities - good and bad - in some families were a lot more equally distributed than others. This was what I wanted. Um, make that, what I needed. I knew that not only for myself, but for the mental and emotional health and well-being of D and our children, he needed to be actively involved in all aspects of our lives. I did not want the peripheral dad. The sorta stranger who had no idea what the kids ate or when they went to sleep or what their favorite books were. I did not want the Disneyland dad who was super-fun on the weekends and who talked to the kids in that awkward how-old-are-you-again voice.

So when E was old enough that he wasn't nursing every two hours, I started to hide. "Hey babe, I need to go..." fill in mundane task here. And I would dawdle. Moving laundry from the washer to the dryer never took so long. Sometimes I'd come back and everything would be fine. Other times, I would round the corner and jump right back into the other room because E was crying and D needed to figure out how to fix him. And I was the worst kind of sneak because I would stand there, just out of sight, biting my fingernails, fighting the temptation to swoop in and save them. And as hard as it was (heart in throat, breast-milk leaking through shirt, frown forming on lips, brow furrowed) I didn't come back around that corner till they had figured it out. I stood there and silently cheered them on, but I never. ever. saved them.

And while I still know E best for no other reason than I spend the most time with him, his dad is a close second. And often I'm wrong and D is right. Sometimes, D makes a suggestion, like maybe we need to move up his nap, and I doubt yet try and it works! Or D has a heart-to-heart talk with him and it changes an undesirable behavior (yes, it looks like the pushing might have been resolved by a "Hugs not Pushes" campaign launched by dad himself!) And on Sunday mornings, when they disappear for a few hours and the house is all quiet and I miss them both terribly, I wait for Scout to bark that they'rehomethey'rehomethey'rehome! and they come back all breathless and excited and full of stories of digging dinosaur bones. It is then that it is worth all the heartache and hard-work that we put into those first difficult months. Because there is nothing like having a hands-on dad, and nothing like having a hands-on husband, even if some people assume it was just luck. And now that I think about it, maybe it was. Maybe it was.

At ease, soldier

Sunday, August 16, 2009
What am I looking forward to most about having a second baby?

Big boobs. I'm not kidding. For a few months out of my entire life I get to have big, glorious, bountiful boobs and while it's a shame that no one gets to play with them, they're a joy to look at. No one even notices that my belly is all bulgy or that there are stains on the back of my shirt. Nope. Everyone, including me, is mesmerized by the shiny, voluminous masses that are smiling big goofy smiles out from beneath my shirt. And I pick good shirts. I rocked tank tops with E and believe you me, I don't care how cold it is when B is born, I'm gonna rock tank tops till the boobs are all gone. And this time, I'm gonna make D take more pictures. As much as I hate being in pictures, I want to remember these puppies in all their glory because I'm well aware of what doom inevitably lies ahead.

What am I really looking forward to?

Big boobs. Just kidding. I really am looking forward to those, don't think I'm not, but that's not what I'm really looking forward to. I'm really excited at the prospect of getting a do-over. The chance to do it all over again without the nervousness, the anxiety or the fear. I can't wait to walk around with a warm and snuggly newborn in my arms and know that I can do this. Because look over there. See that kid. I've kept him alive and mostly happy for two years and a newborn? Compared to him? Heh. Piece of cake. I mean, I can spot a first time mom from a mile away now...because not only does she look exhausted and a little bit confused, she looks like a deer in headlights. Like a gazelle who just heard a rustle in the brush and has a sinking feeling she's about to become a snack for a very hungry lion. Fortunately, she usually also looks totally smitten and blinded by love, but mostly she looks petrified. And she should be - a healthy dose of fear is good - because newborns are scary. Why do you think they package them in such cute containers? Why do you think they're all warm and smell so sweet and smile at you right when you're at your breaking point? A wise man once compared children to the Army (or the hazing ritual of a frat house.) They break you down - deprive you of sleep, interrupt your meals, run you ragged, constantly mess with your minds - and then build you back up according to their master plan. And they do. And we love every minute of it. Why else would we be coming back for more?

Anyway...The first time you do anything - follow a recipe, find someone's house, put on a pair of skis and barrel down a mountain, etc. etc. - is without a doubt, the most difficult. And while I am perfectly aware that B is bound to be a very different baby than E was, it's like driving a car. Sure, one is like a big rig and one is like a, oh I don't even know what kind of car B will be like, but what I do know is that it will be different. But the rules of the road are still the same. I'll have to develop a feel for a new clutch and the steering might be a little tighter, but a stop sign is a stop sign is a stop sign. With E, I had to learn how to maneuver a big rig and how to drive period. With B...well, at least now I know how to drive.

I'm also looking forward to being able to enjoy her babyhood a little bit more. D and I were really conscious in trying to live in the moment and enjoy each day for what it was with E because we knew he might be our only child, but despite our best efforts, I think we both wanted him to grow up faster. At first we wanted him to outgrow his reflux. Then we wanted him to be able to sit up and not just lay on the floor. Then we wanted him to be old enough to try some solid foods to see if that helped him sleep. Then we wanted him to crawl. Then...well, you get the point. Plus, there was always this sense of excited anticipation. What's the next milestone? Will he master it ahead of schedule like he's been doing or will he finally plateau? And he seemed to be the kind of kid who was in a hurry, so we let him race through his first year. I know we didn't push him and I know that fundamentally, we took our cues from him and his personality, but we did beam with pride like two morons whenever people commented on how advanced he was as if we have anything to do with it. Hell, we still do. The other day someone said he seemed awfully small for his age (she thought he was three) and a little part of me glowed. Now, I know as well as you do that he doesn't really resemble a three year old, but he is very vocal and very agile and well, I could see where maybe someone could think he's two and a half. On a good day.

But with B, well...she's going to be my last baby and I want her to be as baby as she wants to be, without inhibiting her in any way. I guess what I want is to make sure that if she rushes through her babyhood, it's because she wants to and not because we encouraged her to. I will honor her personality as fully as possible, regardless of what it is. But if she wants to take her time, then I am more than willing to indulge her. And when I get all dreamy and fantasize about those precious teenage years, I want to slow down time even more. Because when she's walking behind me in the mall, in her impossibly short skirt and her black eye make-up with her stupid haircut and her expensive-ass shoes and a purse that cost more than my first car (Tin Lizzy may you rest in peace), rolling her eyes at me and texting her friends - or doing whatever kids will be doing in 2022 - I want to be able to look back and think, well...at least we had those first few years. Wasn't it gr8?

Shut up and eat your lasagna!

Friday, August 14, 2009
My little sister is telling me about this guy she met and he sounds wonderful. Nice, respectable Italian boy who is apparently smokin' hot (her kind of hot, not mine.) She's telling me all about him - I get to meet him next week! - and I'm nodding along appropriately, making all the big sister noises that I make, the uh-huhs and the oh yeahs and the wows and then all of a sudden she says something along the lines of "and then he said he loves to cook and I said, me too and..." I bring the conversation to a screeching halt.

"What did you say?"

"I said, me too."

"Oh no, you didn't. Tell me you didn't."

"Why not? I mean, I do and..."

At this point, I put down my wooden spoon, because ironically enough, I was cooking, and I get that very serious look that says we need to have a woman-to-woman sister-to-sister vagina-to-vagina talk. Sweetheart, I say, you need to call this boy up and tell him you didn't mean to say that. You need to issue a retraction and TAKE THAT BACK. Tell him you had a fever, tell him that you were just being polite, tell him that it was the devil talkin', tell him that you had a momentary lapse in good judgment and you have now come to your senses! Because if the divine being gives you a smokin' hot man who likes to cook, who the hell are you to shit all over it? You don't like to cook. You don't know how to cook. You can't even tell the difference between frisee and a flambe.

Sidenote: My sister really doesn't know the difference between frisee and a flambe. She's a good cook, but she's not a culinary artist by any stretch of the imagination. If A loved to cook, if it was a source of joy for her, a hobby that she reveled in, and she had all these cookbooks and all these fancy pots and pans, then I would not being giving this kind of advice. But no, A likes to cook the way most of us like to drive.

Anyway, I remind her that she's working two jobs and that in a couple of short weeks, she is going to start nursing school. And here is a man who not only knows his way around a kitchen, but looks good doing it and most importantly enjoys it, and she is going to throw that away?!? Women all around the world would give their left kidney to be in her shoes and what is she thinking?!? I remind her that if things go well and this turns out to be long-term, she is going to have plenty of responsibilities in the relationship (like making babies, for example, which turns out is A LOT OF WORK!) and that if this is one battle that is already won, then she should fill her mouth with whatever deliciousness her own personal Emeril wants to make for her and keep it shut.

And all of a sudden, I realize that I sound like my mother. That I was, in a way, encouraging my sister to be deceptive and a bit manipulative. And I thought, wow, my mom is a really smart woman.

That poor woman

Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Today is the day where I'm a bad, bad mom. Today is the day where the nice lady at the rec center told me that while E did a great job playing with most of the kids, he picked out one little girl and pushed her. Relentlessly. Would not stop. And announced that he was pushing her to all who weren't watching and then told her she was sad. "I push kid. She's sad!" And while the nice lady at the rec center recounted this story to me, I stood there, feigning shock and I actually pretended to be surprised. I don't know why. I hate lying and try to avoid it all costs. And I'm sure she saw right through it. How could she not?

I felt like a complete and total asshole the whole ride home. I should have just explained to her that I was hoping since all the kids in the room were bigger than him, he would be smart enough not to pick a fight. That my thighs are rubbing together and that I am so tired and my back hurts and that E doesn't nap anymore and that I really, really just wanted to swim in the pool for half an hour all by myself and I'm sorry that he pushed the little girl but if I didn't take a break, if I didn't do a little bit of exercise and not be responsible for just a few minutes, I was going to lose my mind. She said we were more than welcome to come back and that most of the kids in the room would be starting school next week, so it would be a little less hectic and maybe that would make things easier on E. I muttered one last apology and encouraged E to be as charming as possible upon exiting the room. "Bye! Thanks!" he yelled in his tiny little two year old voice as he waved with all his might and the nice lady at the rec center smiled and waved back and I wondered if I'd ever see her again.

What's to stop me from shoving E in a pillowcase, putting him in the backseat of the car, driving him to Aurora and throwing him out the window into an abandoned parking lot, hoping that I made enough turns to confuse his internal navigation system and thus preventing him from finding his way home? This is what I'm wondering, not half an hour after the whole rec center episode. What's to stop me? He's a really smart kid, but he can't be that smart...can he? Nah. I'm mean, Aurora is far. And there are lots of highways. And he's pretty cute so someone would be bound to pick him up before he crossed I-25. Right? Hmmm...Maybe I should put him in his super-adorable but somewhat fruity giraffe outfit. That would totally up his appeal.

I decide that of all the reasons not to dump him in Aurora, the one that wins today, the one that I'm going to cling to next time he slaps me across the face for doing him the favor of changing his shitty diaper, is that I love him with all my heart and that I know that his behavior is totally normal, that it's just a stage and that it too shall pass. And that for it to pass requires a change in me, not him. He's TWO! I'm an adult, for Pete's sake. An adult who has read countless books on parenting and should be well-equipped to deal with whatever punches this kid throws at me. And while I've been indulging myself in a really whiny phase for the past few weeks, it's gotta stop. I've got to pull myself together and be a better mom. And while I feel like shooting rainbows out of my ass might be easier at this point in my life...

Yes, there are tons of things going on and life feels overwhelming, but whenever I get like this, I remind myself, I need to stop. I have a zillion things to be grateful for. And while it's ok to indulge in a little self-pity every once in a while, enough is enough. I need to assess - What things are bothering me? Triage - What can I fix and how can I fix it? What complications do I simply need to get rid of? And reorganize myself - What is the new reality going to look like?

I realize that I've been ignoring a few things because I don't want to face them. Because maybe if I ignore them, they'll resolve themselves or go away on their own. But that's not going to happen. So here I go. And while I acknowledge that I might not find the solution I was hoping for, sometimes you just have to accept the limitations of the situation and deal.

First thing on the list: the goddamn cat. I love this cat. We've been together for over 10 years. I bottle-fed him when his mother was killed (he was this tiny, 3 week old kitten and god, was he ever cute) but now...now he wakes us up every morning with his incessant meowing and just. won't. stop. We've let him go for an almost an hour and he meows THE ENTIRE FUCKING TIME. He doesn't stop to breathe, he doesn't stop to lick his ass, he doesn't stop until someone comes downstairs and feeds him. And then if you have the balls to go back upstairs, guess what?!? He'll meow again. I bought him an auto-feeder in hopes that a few scheduled morsels of kibble would shut him up, but nope. And not only does he meow unceasingly, he doesn't move when Ev is looming with that deranged look in his eye. I mean, how many times does E have to pull Baci's tail before he realizes what's coming?!? And just like when E pushes other kids, he exclaims for all to hear, "I pull Baci's tail!" like the newsboy announcing "Extra! Extra! Read all about it!" And I've tried everything. I am so desperately out of ideas and patience. I've tried immediately picking Baci's fat ass up and putting him outside. The stupid cat comes right back, tail and all. I've tried firmly telling E, "No!" I've tried explaining that it makes Baci so sad and that it hurts Baci, which E clearly internalized because he has incorporated it into his announcement, "I pull Baci's tail. Baci sad!" I've tried ignoring E (as difficult as it is) and lavishing attention on the poor, idiotic cat. E comes over and hugs Baci and brings him a blanket and declares Baci happy...until the next time he pulls his tail, at which point, Baci is apparently, sad all over again. I tried to use Love and Logic, but I froze and couldn't come up with the alternative - "E, you can either stop pulling Baci's tail, or..." because there is no OR. Or what? Or you can go live in Aurora?

So, back to my list - Baci is at the top of it for multiple reasons. Oh, not to mention that I'm terrified that once B arrives, Baci is going to block up again, almost die and cost us another mortgage payment in vet bills. So, as I see it, my options are: put Baci on the anti-anxiety meds the vet gave us, even though I'm worried that with his previous medical history, we might be risking his health. It would solve the meowing problem and the new baby problem, but it wouldn't solve the E pulling his tail problem. It might make it so Baci doesn't care, but it would still fundamentally be a problem. Or we could find him a new home...but it's not really a solution if it's worse than the problem, is it? Baci requires special food and again, could block up in response to the stress of a new life. And I don't want to make that someone else's responsibility. Unfortunately, I can't explain to him that it could be a much better life and that he ruins his chances by almost DYING, but if I could, then this would be a no-brainer. So what do I do?

For allowing me to vent, here's my gift to you: Louis CK's Why? Today I felt like the mom at McDonald's he talks about 6.5 minutes into the clip. Just listening to this in the background made me feel better.