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, 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 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.


Thursday, August 6, 2009
If you don't follow Dooce's blog, you really should. This woman is freakin' hysterical and honest and real....basically, she is my hero. Her post entitled, The Labor Story, Part Three left me weeping.

But before I go any further, I will preface this post with the following statement: I know that a healthy baby is the ultimate prize and I would in no way, shape or form sacrifice or risk that. I will find solace in a having a healthy baby at the end of this, even if that's all I get. I know that some of you do not agree with me and think that I am a lunatic for wanting a VBAC. I know that some of you interpret my desire for a VBAC as an affront to whatever choices you have made and for that I am sorry. I know that there are thousands of women who would be grateful just to be pregnant and miserable like me. I KNOW all of these things, people. But I want a VBAC more than anything in the world.

I keep telling D that either way, I'll be ok because I know he worries. But I'm lying. I won't be ok. I really, really, really, really want a VBAC. I desperately want to experience labor and contractions and PUSH! I want to scream at D that I hate him and that he will never touch me with his penis again. I want to walk around all sweaty and gross and curl over in the most crushing pain I have ever felt and know that for tens and thousands of years (or 6000 years and no dinosaurs, for all you religious readers out there) that women from every corner of the earth have stood where I'm standing, experiencing the exact same terrifying yet overwhelmingly beautiful metaporphosis that I am undergoing. I want to be brought to my knees by the sheer power of my own body. I want to have an experience similar to Dooce's, where she finds herself lost in her husband's hand and feels closer to him than she ever has. Because while D and I have an extraordinary relationship and have grown even closer since the birth of E, I would love to share something so pivotal with him. To look at him in that moment of such naked vulnerability and know that he is the father of my children. I want to be a woman at her most essential, her most primal. I want to come out on the other side, knowing that I have the inner strength and willpower to face the medusa-head of childbirth and stand my ground. I want that high that so many mothers talk about, that near-hallucinatory sensation that courses through your body and over-fills your mind. I want the doctor to lay my beautiful baby girl on my chest and I want to breath her in through my eyes for the first time while she's at her very newest. And I want to lay there, in all our glory, welcome her into this world and reward her hard work by giving her her first taste of milk. This time, I want it to be love at first sight. Love at my first sight. Love at her first sight.

With Evan, I was a scheduled C-section. We were first-time parents and my ob had us terrified. I had developed a fibroid that was relatively large and threatened the pregnancy from the beginning. At our 12 week appt, the ob suggested that we consider a D&C and try again later after the fibroid had been surgically removed. He ticked off all the potential dangers of attempting to carry the pregnancy to term, not that he had an ounce of confidence we would make it to term, and even suggested that we be ready to make the choice between burial and cremation if this inevitably did not work out. He monitored the pregnancy closely, always on the look-out for asymmetrical growth restrictions, cystic fibrosis, etc. He warned us that only by the grace of God would we make it to the crucial 27 week mark and if/when we did, we would have to have steroid injections because the baby could be born at any time. He advised us to be ready to spend week after week in the NICU. None of the fears were ever realized. The only thing he didn't warn us about was that the fibroid could degenerate and would cause what had to be the most acute pain ever imaginable. And that if this happened while I was standing at the front of my classroom teaching math, it would scare the bejeezus out of me and my students and cause a panic amongst the staff members. Funny - he didn't warn us about that.

So why did we stay with him? He had been highly recommended, and I had even been warned that his bedside manner left much to be desired but that he was a really good ob...and we were so, so scared. Eventually, by divine intervention, he went on sabbatical and his replacement was not a fear-mongerer and was much more laid-back. He even compromised and let me go to 39 weeks (previous ob was issuing the eviction notice at 37 weeks max) but said that if I hadn't gone into labor by then, the baby was coming out via C-section.

Did I need to have a C-section? I don't know and try not to speculate too much, as what's done is done. The fibroid is in a position that um, blocks the exit, and so maybe E couldn't have found his way out given the opportunity. Maybe he could of. The human body is an incredible and awe-inspiring thing, so who knows? What hurts me is that we weren't given the chance. I know that if I'd gone into labor and given it a go, I would feel very differently about my experience. But then again, I know too many woman who have ended up with an emergency C-section after hours of labor and experienced horrifying complications. Maybe I was lucky to have a very controlled surgery that wasn't rushed. Maybe I was lucky in that I knew I was having a C-section and therefore had time to mentally prepare. Again, who knows? What I do know is that I came dangerously close to falling down the spiraling rabbit hole of PPD. If I hadn't read so much, if I hadn't prepared myself so thoroughly, I wouldn't have been ready to fight it. There's been a lot of research linking increased risk of PPD and c-sections and because I was scheduled, I was a prime candidate. Scheduled C-sections where the mother doesn't go into labor are of particular vulnerability because your body doesn't release any of the hormones or chemicals usually triggered by birth.

I had a particularly hard time at the beginning. While I loved E and was instantly protective of him (I stood at the window to the nursery with tears streaming down my face while I watched him recover from his circumcision) I wasn't in love with him. At first I questioned whether or not he was even ours. I asked D if he had watched the nurses put the id bands on his wrist and ankle. And once the family was all gone and it was just us, I quickly felt like I was treading water in a deep, dark ocean. This kid wanted to eat all the time. We didn't know it until months later, but he had reflux and constant nursing kept his pain at bay. He had his days and nights mixed up for weeks and he never napped. He could only sleep in an upright position (another sign of reflux) and so I had to carry him all the time. I didn't mind carrying him and had planned on doing a whole lot of baby-wearing, being a big proponent of attachment parenting, but I needed to put him down for a few minutes without him screaming, and I couldn't. Anyway, I could write all night about how tumultuous those first few months were, about the high highs and the lowest of the lows, but that's not what this is about. This is about my desire to avoid finding myself in that state of mind again, hopefully by giving birth naturally.

For now I will continue to prepare for a VBAC, both physically and mentally. I have my fingers crossed that I will get to experience the whole thing from beginning to end. Even if I just get to go into labor, at least I'll have that. It won't be enough, but it'll be something. And this time I know that if I do end up having a C-section, it won't be for lacking of trying, which will eventually provide me with some consolation. I have a stack of books, a doula and a new ob, one that is "willing to go the distance" with me. This guy is a walking legend. He is one of the only obs in Colorado who delivers breech babies vaginally and he's amazing. He's an older gentleman who has seen so much, yet ultimately believes in the power of the human body. He basically just backs up the midwives. Before meeting him, I'd heard so much about him and expected this young, super progressive guy who was a revolutionary. And instead, this guy is revolutionary by being so counter-revolutionary. He is the Original Ganster of obs. He is the OGB. And I am hoping with all my hope that he can work some of his magic on me.

Horsie Ride

I'm on my laptop getting some work done and Evan comes up to me and hands me this. "I made this for mommy," he says. I try to maintain my composure as I ask, "What is it?" Evan starts laughing and says, "It's a horsie ride!" I hope this is indicative of his blossoming sense of humor, because holy crap, I thought it was so funny.

Reading Material

Tuesday, August 4, 2009 the requests for a non-parenting book list have me feeling a bit ambivalent. Can I put magazines on here? Because other than that, I've done very little to stay current in the last 6 months or so and that makes me sad. But I've been busy with so many wonderful things, so that makes me happy. A real quandary is what I'm in.

If I can put magazines on the list, then I highly recommend It is perfect for those of us who would like to do the least amount of work possible to stay current and not sound like a total idiot when polite conversation turns to politics or world news. It is the cheater cheater's guide to the news. It covers all sides (it draws from multiple sources of news coverage) and does so in short, easy to digest chunks, so if you only have a few minutes to read, you can know what's going on in Nigeria and Iraq and save Bolivia and Madagascar for another time. It's brilliant. It's all-encompassing. It's a little bit expensive. But it's worth it.

As far as books...I read and loved The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: A Novel, although I wouldn't necessarily issue a blanket recommendation without knowing who's asking and why. Is it a pool-side book you read with tasty beverage in hand? Absolutely not. This is literature. It is a beautifully written yet dense piece of art. This is the kind of book I recommend when you're at a place in your life where you can sit down, curl up, and escape without distraction.

If you're at all considering watching this movie, The Time Traveler's Wife, I highly suggest you read the book first. Yes, the book is always better. And while I'm sure it'll make for a great movie, because um, Eric Bana is hot, it made for such a good book. I enjoy a good love story, and this one was truly unique. It is not your typical love story. And it's so much more than just a love story.

If you've been living under a rock (or have a really good excuse - who am I to judge?) and you haven't read A Thousand Splendid Suns: A Novel, this is on my top, oh I don't know, 20 favorite books of all time. I read it shortly after Evan was born and I have to say that being a mother added a new dimension to it that I would have been missing a few months prior - although that was just bonus. Whether or not you're a parent will have no bearing on your enjoyment of this book. It is a beautifully written and captivating story. Written by Khaled Hosseini, the author of The Kite Runner, another amazing story, this book will capture your heart and stay with you for a long, long time.

The Glass Castle: A Memoir is not literature, but is an incredible autobiography. This book changed my life - there is a scene where Walls describes wearing her new glasses and feeling a mix of joy and anger. Joy because she could finally see everything and anger because she suddenly realized that she'd been missing out on so much. When I was about 11, my dad took me to get my first pair of glasses and I cried when I walked out of the shop and back out into the mall. It had been years since I'd been able to see. It had been so long that I didn't even remember being able to see. As we drove home, I looked over at my dad with incredulity. I could see the blades of grass on the side of the road. I didn't know everyone else had been able to see blades of grass. I felt so very robbed. And while my life was very different from Walls, there are an unsettling number of parallels, making the impact this book had on me that much more profound. Regardless of your childhood and upbringing, this story is a wonderful testament to the power of one individual to control their own destiny. Inspiring, if nothing else.

Winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, The Road is one of those books that I had a really hard time with. I loved it, yet I didn't quite like least not all of it. Which I really respect. Don't patronize me. Don't make everyone happy or tie up loose ends. I hate when authors feel compelled to make things all pretty. Please. "The Road" is unlike any other book I've ever read and it was one of those stories that kind of sticks in your side and makes you think. And for that, I love it.

And while I'm at it, if you haven't read any of the other Pulitzer Prize winners from the last 10 years or so, you should. Middlesex: A Novel - unique, entertaining, and eye-opening.

Empire Falls - a good adult-themed novel. Well-written, good story, complex, well-developed characters, etc.

Then there's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay I loved this book - and it wasn't a book I would have normally picked up and read. I don't really care about comic books or little boys who read them, but this book is about so much more than that.

There are a handful of other Prize winners that I'd recommend (except for Gilead: A Novel, which I thought sucked.) But the last one I'll mention here is The Poisonwood Bible: A Novel. It took me two tries to read this book. The first time, I couldn't get into it. The second time, I powered through the first handful of chapters and then all of a sudden, I couldn't stop reading. And I've considered rereading it now that I'm a mother.

I can't believe I forgot these two...Saturday and Atonement by Ian McEwan. Both of these books are incredible - a perfect symmetry of literature and suspenseful, suck-you-in-and-won't-let-you-go writing.

I, like most of you and everyone else on this freakin' planet, read The Twilight Saga Collection Did I enjoy reading them? Yes. Did I stay up till all hours of the night with a book light and shame in my heart? Yes. Am I better person for having read them? Good god, no. Would I do it again? Absolutely. This series is junk food for the soul.

What else? I really enjoyed Water for Elephants: A Novel. Ultimately a love story, but to quote a good friend, not a cheesy "Bridges of Madison County" kind of love story. A good life story that happens to be about two people in love.

That's it for now. I can't promise that I'll get around to reading anything more current in the next, oh, 15 years or so, but if I do, I'll certainly post it. And if there's a book I've missed, I'll add it to the list. Please let me know if you end up reading any of these books - I would love to hear your opinion and am always looking for feedback.