Friday, March 31, 2006

Planning ahead

Guess where I bought this dress? On my honeymoon. In my defense, I'll say that we bought it because our sister-in-law was pregnant at the time, and this was in case the baby turned out to be a girl. She did, but for whatever reason we never gave her the dress (we bought two, and kept them both). Five and a half years later, the dress makes its debut. (It's cuter without the cardigan, but "sleeveless" and "45 degrees, rainy, and windy" don't quite mix.)

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Taking a beating

So far, only two things have surprised me about motherhood. And they’re not the lofty “I never knew I could experience love like this” kind of revelations. Instead, I have learned these grand lessons: First, the laundry that babies generate is not limited to their own tiny onesies and sleepers. What with the leaking milk, the spit-up, and the diaper blowouts, my clothes got just as filthy as theirs did. Last summer, many’s the morning I woke up crunched into the armchair in Opie’s room, soaked in no less than 4 different bodily fluids…some his, some mine. And haven’t we all experienced the torrent of newborn puke coursing into our only clean bra, seconds after we emerged from the precious shower squeezed in during said newborn’s 20-minute nap?

Worse than that, though, is the second lesson: the physical pain and suffering of motherhood. I’m not talking about pregnancy, labor and delivery—while they can clearly suck, they do, after all, have to come to an end sometime, and they have a higher purpose. I mean the ways that my children, both accidentally and on purpose, injure me on a daily basis. Recently I have endured:

  • A meat pounder dropped on my (bare) foot

  • A full sippy cup dropped on my ankle

  • Falls and jumps onto my legs and torso by both 35- and 20-pound children

  • Teeny, razor-sharp fingernails clawing at my skin

  • Teeny, razor-sharp teeth biting into my fingers, shoulders, and nipples

  • Various and sundry kicks in the gut

I currently have four unexplained bruises on my left lower leg. I’m pretty sure the culprit is one of two small people. Does this get better as they get bigger? Or do I have to worry about whacks in the head from errant soccer balls or being stabbed in the eye by Barbie’s unnaturally pointy feet? Forget helmets for crawling babies. We need full-body armor for moms.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

I am never getting on an airplane again*

So this time, there was no puking, but instead there was: Arriving at the airport at 7 a.m. with 2 small children, 2 suitcases + 1 pack-n-play, 1 stroller, 2 "carry-on" bags each weighing more than the larger of the small children ... and learning that we missed our plane because we thought we were booked on an 8:30 a.m. flight, when in fact we were booked on a 6:30 a.m. flight. And, sorry, everything is full for today so you'll have to come back tomorrow.

Other than that, we had a lovely little vacation in sunny San Diego. My sister has a newfound appreciation for parental sleep deprivation. She shared a room with Jo and was treated to a nightly concert of snoring, thumb-slurping, and rolling into walls/onto the floor with loud thuds, not to mention the Opie wails coming from the neighboring room.

Highlights for Jo included seeing polar bear poop at the zoo, hearing about hippo poop at the zoo, the "Shampoo" show at the "requarium," aka SeaWorld (by the way: what a racket! It cost us $200 to get in--3 adults, 1 child, and that doesn't include $10 for parking), wading in the ocean, new sunglasses and sneakers, and above all, the enormous snow cone (I'm talking bigger than her head) her dad bought her at Belmont Park. For a child whose favorite Christmas present was an ice shaver, this was ambrosia in a purple, plastic, flower-shaped cone.

Opie enjoyed practicing his walking skills, cramming fistfuls of dehydrated apple bits and refried beans into his mouth, climbing every flight of stairs he could get near, and charming the pants off of passers-by, waitresses, fellow diners, and the grandmother seated beside us on the flight home (once we actually boarded, 24 hours later than planned). He liked the Shampoo show too, demonstrating his glee with all manner of points, claps, chortles, and grins.

All in all, a success. We stayed in a private home rented for the occasion. It's the only way to go when traveling en famille--for less than the price of a hotel room, we had 2.5 baths, a washer/dryer, a fenced yard, a parking space, and a full kitchen.

More later on assault and battery, breast pumps, and other fascinating topics!

*Actually, we have trips planned for May, June, and July. The last one is for BlogHer so I'll be flying alone--which will make my seat in coach feel like first class on You Can't Afford It Air.

Monday, March 20, 2006


Right now I'm surrounded by more dropped balls than a kindergartner playing shortstop at a major league park. Or, truth be told, than my own self playing any kind of sport involving a ball.

(I googled "more dropped balls than" just out of curiosity. My favorite was "...than a nearsighted circus juggler," although "...than even the lengthiest porno movie" had a certain weird appeal.)

Thanks to a perfect storm of work work, freelance work (15,000 words in three weeks? Sure, I can do that!), travel, kid stuff, and whatever the hell else I do all day, I have seriously neglected:

1. Some other freelance work that pays less and therefore is lower priority, but is for a family member so the guilt is magnified.

2. The web site I agreed to help build for a local nonprofit. Since attending the first meeting four months ago, I've accomplished... not so much as a <> tag.

3. My house. Both more cluttered than I have ever allowed it to become, and actually dirty, as I screwed up the housecleaners' schedule because of our trips.

4. My kids' birthday party. It's bad enough that they're getting a joint party, because they were born one day apart and are still too young to complain about it. Now said party is going to happen 3 weeks after the fact since I have not managed to plan an event or actually invite anyone to it.

5. This blog. I keep posting these dumb list-based entries, when, really and truly, there is more I would like to say.

Stay tuned. Ever the optimist, I have high hopes for April. (Don't you just picture me as an ant, now, pushing a rubber-tree plant? Or maybe just a dork.)

Saturday, March 18, 2006

New definition of nightmare

Alone on an airplane with a very squirmy 11-month-old. With your head in a bag labeled "for motion discomfort." Fervently hoping just one bag will suffice.

Yeah, that sucked. Then, on the way home from the airport, with the entire family in the car, now including two whiny kids, and the splitting headache and the barfy stomach and the eyes feeling like balls of fire because of the four hours total of sleep the night before, be sure your car gets REAR-ENDED a mile from your house.

People fine, car almost fine and will be repaired free of charge, but that was just something I did not need.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

As charged

When in doubt (or short on time), make a list.

Things that make me feel guilty:

  1. Not keeping in closer touch with friends. Wish I had made more time for phone calls and e-mails.

  2. That our dinner hour is always a rush. I wish I could master cooking (or at least assembling) a healthy meal, setting it on the table, and enjoying it with the family. Instead, I’m constantly popping up and down trying to placate the baby, finish reheating some thing or another, picking up a dropped fork, cleaning up a spill, etc.

  3. Neglecting our dog. Of course we feed her, let her outside, keep her shots up to date, and show her some attention from time to time, but I haven’t taken her on a real walk in weeks, and am constantly shooing her out of the way because she’s trying to steal food from one of the kids.

  4. Using TV as a babysitter. I'm fine with allowing Jo to watch TV (it's always Noggin anyway) but when I know it's because I am just too lazy to engage her in some other activity, I feel bad.

Things that do not make me feel guilty in the least:

  1. Buying/serving jarred baby food (although we're almost past that stage now).

  2. Working (for pay, although not outside my home) and sending my kids to child care.

  3. Paying someone to clean my house.

  4. Eating dessert. Every day. At least once if not more often.

Guilty pleasures:

  1. Pedicures

  2. Crappy TV (for myself, for the kids, see above).

  3. Scones from Great Harvest Bread Company

  4. Blogging when I should be working

Sunday, March 05, 2006

I caved

Before , during, and after:

    Thursday, March 02, 2006

    Fun in a Bun

    Two or three times a year, sometimes more, the families in our neighborhood gather for a potluck called "Fun 'n' buns." The host supplies hot dogs and hamburgers (hence the "bun") and everyone else brings side dishes and desserts. Especially in the winter, when we don't run into each other outside as often, it's a nice way to reconnect. The moms of older kids talk about school and sports and choir practice and book club. The moms of little kids talk about sleep and health and food and pediatricians (actually, one of the moms is a pediatrician). The dads talk about poker or snowblowers or something. It makes me feel utterly suburban, but I just eat this stuff up.

    At this week's party, there were at least 10 kids, ranging in age from 3 to 16 (not counting the 3 babies, who spent their time passed from one gushy, cooing adult to the next). After the first 5 or so minutes of the party, I barely saw Jo again--she was off tagging after the rest of the kid crowd.

    What's amazing is that they let her. All of them, even the big-shot 12-year-old boys. They included her, as they always do, and happily so. It's one of the things that has struck us most about this town and this neighborhood: The teens and tweens are so gosh-darned nice. They are unfailingly pleasant and polite to adults (although it does freak me out to be called “Mrs. H.”), and just darling with littler children. The two kids next door, a boy and girl of about 9 and 11, play outside together all the time. I watch them from my window in awe of how much they seem to enjoy each other’s company. Often they’ll have friends over too, but sometimes it’s just the two of them playing catch or shooting baskets. How cool is that?

    I sure hope it’s something in the water, because this is how I want my children to behave, too.