Monday, July 31, 2006

The Breast Of Us

I loved my nursing bras. I loved their comfort, the easy access they afforded.

But then, at about 11 months, suddenly I was done. I was tired of wearing, washing and wearing the same four bras all the time. I was tired of the big strip of elastic around my chest. I was tired of the way my newly shrunken to their former size breasts sagged in them. It made me feel dumpy and dowdy. I might as well have hiked my skirt up in old-lady fashion.

So I switched. I washed the nursing bras one last time and unceremoniously dumped them in the bag of maternity clothes I've got stashed at the back of Ada's closet. Out came the pre-pregnancy bras, the B-cups of my past. And Oh! how great it is to wear them again. Today I slipped on a purple one and covered it with a tight-fitting shirt. Hello old friends! So good to see you again!

* ** * ** * ** *

After I wrote this earlier this week, I read this post about bra shopping. After getting over my fear that people would just think I'd read Izzy's post and copied her, I felt a bit glad that others are going through the same boob-shrinkage issues. Then I started worrying about conservation of matter and its impact on my body. If matter is neither created or destroyed, when my breasts shrunk back down, where does the matter go? Hopefully not to the backs of my arms. I'm already feeling a little insecure about them right now.

Friday, July 28, 2006

And now for a REAL milestone

This week Ada hit an important milestone. No, she's not walking, or even really standing for more than a few, proud seconds. More important than such a mundane achievement as increased mobility, my daughter has learned to zrrbtt.

Over the past few days, Ada (who has been obsessed with bellies for several weeks now) will sidle over to my belly, lean (or more accurately, lunge) over and plant a wet, noisy zrbbt on me. I laugh, she laughs, we repeat. I try to get in a zrbtt or two on her belly. She thinks this is funny, but not quite as good as her own loud belly-raspberries. She loves doing this so much that she'll zrbtt other things. Last week I watched her repeatedly and gleefully zrbtt the kitchen floor. After spending the whole day with her, Chris reported that Ada zrbtted all her stuffed toys. He'd hand one over, she'd give it a zrbtt, and then reach out for another.

Even better than Ada's newfound skill is the fact that she knows the word "zrbtt" and will (when so inclined) give me one when I ask for it. "Can you give Mama's belly a zrbtt?" is often met with a big smile and a sloppy raspberry. She's known what a belly is for a while, probably because Chris likes to grab his and jiggle it while saying "papa's belly!" (It makes Ada laugh, and Chris is a sucker for her approval.)

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

For Sarah, who I hate to see in pain

Last week I posted a link to a very scary Folgers advertisement. Viewing that ad has apparently injured Sarah. To heal her wounds (or rub salt in them, I can't know what her response will be), I offer my FAVORITE commercial of all time:

Evil Beaver

I hope this helps, Sarah.

Random quote and unrelated photo of the week

Watch it spin like a wheel
and get stuck in the mud.

The truck is full of caged chickens
squawking about their fate.

The driver has gone to get help
in a dive with a live band.

Myrtle, Phyllis - or whatever they call you girls!
get some shut-eye while you can.

Charles Simic
Madmen Are Running The World

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Back To Square One

When Ada was about 4 months old, we let her "cry it out". The decision to go this route was easy. The week before we started found us with Ada wailing while we held her in our arms, for up to two hours, before she finally fell asleep. The idea of letting her cry for up to an hour while not in our arms? Sounded better than what we'd been doing. We had held her while she cried to the no longer soothing sounds of the kitchen exhaust fan, running water, a radio tuned to static.

All this crying was because my breasts had lost their powers. As colic-y as Ada had been in her first few months, we'd found some solace in the fact that a nice long nursing session before bed sent her off to dreamland, so long as I could quickly and quietly moved her from boob to bed. When this trick stopped working, we were all devastated. The aforementioned marathon crying-in-arms sessions ensued. So you can see why the decision to try cry it out was easy for us. After a few days in which she never cried more than 45 minutes, Ada fell asleep with ease. We were all thrilled, not least of all Ada.

In between naps, Ada ponders that eternal question: Snack or Toy?

That was months ago, you may say. Why are you bothering us with these details now? Well, over the 9 months since we let her first try the cry, we've slipped a bit. There were always reasons: she was sick; she was teething; we were staying in an unfamiliar place and she needed extra help getting to bed. She's noticed the slip, and taken full advantage. It may seem unfair to suggest that Ada is doing anything to prolong the night-time rituals, but now that she's talking and signing she makes it very clear that she wants to nurse longer. When I put her in her bed, she sits up, signs "more" and points at the rocking chair. And with the colds and teething, we've held her, rocked her, given her more milk, and generality done whatever we had to get her to fall asleep in our arms.

Now Ada is almost 13 months old. On Monday night we tried for 2 hours to get her to sleep. When we finally gave up and let her cry, she cried on and off for a half hour. That night we agreed to reinstate the policy that it is alright for our child to cry before bed. She may have heard us, because tonight I nursed her and then picked her up and placed her in bed. She turned over, mumbled something about how I didn't need to hang out, and was out.

The cheerio-fueled girl showing the skills that will one day serve her well on the basketball court.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Reasons to love Portland Oregon

I don't always work at my office, but when I do I like to take walks around the capitol. Working in Salem earlier this week, I saw the following at lunch:

It is supposed to get really hot today, but on Wednesday it was perfect. Low 80s, not at all humid. I walked to the farmer's market for lunch and flowers, strolled back with a coffee, and saw these kids playing in the fountain on the capitol mall just yards from my office. It is a bit hard to tell from this cell-phone photo, but there were about 25 kids of a wide range of ages frolicking in the water. I know that the department in charge of the capitol grounds hates that people play in the fountain (I can just see them screaming "liability, oh the liability!"), but it was such a nice scene. I tend to be very "I heart Portland" focused, but I do enjoy my forays outside of the bubble.

Back in Portland, I had a meeting downtown yesterday. I hopped on the bus, which I love here in a way I never did in any of the other places I've lived. The bus picks me up and drops me off 2.5 blocks from my house and takes 10 minutes to get downtown. The drivers tend to be cheerful (this was rarely the case in L.A.).

On my way home, the driver pulled to a bus stop and called out "we've got a wheelchair!" Immediately the three people sitting in the seats that fold back to make way for a chair jumped up and moved down the aisle. There was not a moment's hesitation. A guy seated nearby quickly moved in to lift the seat bottom. Even on a warm afternoon on which many riders had been waiting more than the usual wait for a bus, everyone involved was cheerful and willing to help the disabled rider. I am almost always glad I live in Portland, but especially so when I see this kind of behavior. Yay for the small city, yay for the state!

Bathroom Mysteries

Questions I would ask Ada if I thought she'd give me a straight answer:

What suddenly makes the bathroom the most appealing room in the house?

Why do you prefer to wallow in your own poop rather than allow a diaper change?

Is it so that you can hear your father say things like: "If I give you my wallet, will you . . . rub it in your poo?"*

What makes the toilet such an attractive plaything?

How do your father and several adult visitors to the house toss diapers in the diaper pail without noticing there is no bag in it?

Do you actually like blueberries, or do you eat them just to make your poop turn aqua?

*Actual sentence uttered by Chris this week.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Random quote and unrelated photo of the week

The absence of positive albino characters in motion pictures contributes to discrimination against people with albinism, while the evil albino remains merely a hackneyed plot device.

The National Organization for Albinism and Hypopigmentation
January 6, 2005 press release

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

One or Two?

Chris and I just had The Big Talk: do we want one or two?

He seemed hesitant to decide. I came to the discussion with an idea of what I wanted, but sensing what he wanted I decided I might change my mind. Each option has its pluses. One is easier to negotiate and is less expensive. Two is more fun, but makes us less streamlined.

We should have had the talk at home, but no. We were in public, around other people, with strangers. We were happy for the input. One dad offered some useful thoughts, but seemed a bit embarrassed to be pushing his views on us unasked.

This is a big decision we are making, something we'll have to live with for years to come. I mean, how often is it that you are forced to make a choice of this magnitude: one or two?

Well, in our case, the decision really isn't so big. Because today we were at REI, looking at bike trailers. We'd talked about whether to get a single or double trailer before, but apparently we both left the conversation thinking something different. I was thinking we'd get a two-seater, so that we could bring another child along and so that we would not have to get a new one if we do eventually answer "two" to that other big question. Plus, I would like to take the trailer to the grocery store and farmers' market. Doubles have more storage space than singles. Chris likes the narrower width of the one-child version. It is a little cheaper too, but this is not a huge factor. Chris figures that if we have a second child we can sell our old one and buy a double. I think he questions whether we'll really be shlepping a second child before then anyway, and I admit this probably won't be a common occurrence. And really, we might not have a second child. Or we might end up with twins next time. (At least, that's my fear.)

So no decision was made, despite a pleasant 40 minutes at REI talking to the bike expert and a dad who uses a single with his kid. There is no REAL rush. Despite my hope that I will use this all the time with Ada, our few attempts to put her in a trailer have not lasted long. After a minute she gets annoyed that she's strapped in and wearing a helmet while we smile at her and poke at the straps. She loves to play with her helmet, and despite my efforts to make her like wearing the thing by putting mine on before plopping hers on, she's not entirely convinced.

Do any of you have a bike trailer? If so, how old was your youngest child when you first started using it with her or him? How does your child like it, and of course, do you have a single or a double? Why?

Why I don't drink Folgers

I'm worried that these people will show up at my door.

Monday, July 17, 2006

She who laughs, lasts?

It is in moments like this that the memory of that smug bastard surfaces.

At a September 2001 break-the-fast party, I talked to a friend of the hosts, a Conservative Jew who didn't do too much to hide that he found my life a bit odd. The party's hosts were East Coast Jews of a type I knew well: educated, urban, cynical and funny. They were more religious than I, but that isn't saying much. Their friends were an observant couple with two young children. The father Jonah was a self-satisfied but chatty guy with whom I did not find much in common, but around whom I felt too polite to walk away. (It may be an artifact of my life as a secular Jew that I feel somewhat uncomfortable around Jews who make no secret of their greater religious observance. It makes me feel unauthentic, like I don't deserve my claim to Jewishness.)

In my memory, Jonah has become more intense, more observant, more self-righteous than he probably was. Jonah was probably just this guy with an unfulfilling job and a fulfilling family and God. In any case, he'd asked me about family. Did we want kids? We we trying? I told him our plan, that we'd be trying soon, so that we could have a baby a few months before we moved from Rhode Island. Jonah looked at me, smiling.

"Do you know how to make God laugh?"

I played along. "How?"

"Make plans."

If I had not already been feeling uncomfortable, this would still have pushed me over the edge. I don't remember how I got out of the conversation, but I didn't think too much more about it. Once our attempts to conceive went on past six, past nine, past twelve months, I started to think of Jonah and his dim view of my desire to plan. I think of him a lot when life with Ada makes planning difficult. Saturday was one of those days.

Lately Chris and I have been struggling with Ada's erratic naps and have put off going places while we waited for her to tire and sleep. Friday night I decided that I wasn't going to do that on Saturday. I'd get up with Ada when she woke up at 6:30 or 7. We'd eat breakfast and I'd quickly get her dress and out the door. That way I would be sure to get to the farmer's market before she needed a morning nap, if she needed one. Great, except Ada woke up just before 5 am. By 7 she was zonked, and went down for a two hour nap. Jonah and his smug God-humor sprang immediately to mind.

After a nap of my own and some Ada-free morning time, I reassessed. When Ada woke up we went to the farmers market for raspberries and peaches. We ran into friends and played in the grass. After a second nap we went out to a street fair to visit with more friends, dance in the street and eat gelato.

So yes, Jonah is right that as a parent I can't always have things the exact way I plan. But that doesn't mean I can not make plans. I can, and I do as long as I am flexible. Making flexible plans lets me leave the house and doing fun things in the city without forcing my child into a schedule that doesn't work for her.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Cods and Potty

Yesterday Ada decided she did not need a nap. All morning we kept waiting for the crash, and hence put off a planned trip to the zoo. Our whole day was filled with "Did I see a yawn?" "Did she just rub her eyes?" Nope. Not tired and NOT napping. So, thwarted in our plans to actually do something fun, we went to Target.

Why do I always think that if something is on a store's web site that it will actually have that item in the store? Fool. And why is it that every retailer in my area only carries one piece sleepers for children 9 months and younger? Hit a year and all you get are two piece sets featuring "licensed characters." The sign above the rack actually said "licensed characters pajama sets." Thanks, but my daughter can go a bit longer without sucumbing to barbie pajamas.

Also missing in action were the sleep sacks that Target shows on its web site. I love these things, because even when Ada wiggles all night, she still keeps warm. Really, waking at 2 am because your child is cold makes you feel like a stellar parent, doesn't it? Since Ada is quickly growing out of her current sleep sack, I am on a mission to find a bigger one. This mission may end in me making one. Good thing Ada doesn't mind frankenstein-looking blankets, because my sewing skills are a bit sketchy.

The higlight of the trip was Chris's response to the section of the store labeled "Cards and Party". He glanced up and gleefully announced in his best Rhode Island accent: "I've eaten so many cods that now I got to potty!" Nothing perks up a failed shopping trip like mocking Rhode Islanders.

unrelated photo of Ada kicking Chris's ass at backgammon

All that drool on her dress? A sign that a tooth actually was coming. Good thing our day care provider noticed, because Mom and Dad sure didn't.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The keys to a good night's sleep

Earlier this week we made our first attempt at getting Ada to sleep at Monkey Boy's house with the intention of waking her in the middle of (her) night to take her back home. The first part of the evening went beautifully, as expected. Ada was so happy to be following her older, wiser, taller friend around that she repeatedly screeched with delight ("no, she's not in pain, she's just happy"). She wasn't very interested in dinner (though she did like the bits she grabbed off Monkey Boy's tray). The two kid bath went well, and Chris got to see the adorable two-kids-in-a-tub that I enjoyed in Colorado.

Things went downhill quickly once the gal was diapered and pj'd. I'd covered the windows with blankets to hide that it was still daylight out. (The sun is setting some time past 9 here these days - great for the adults, less ideal for the kids.) I did my usual nursing and once Ada was really saggy-sleepy, I moved her into the portable crib. Screaming ensued immediately, and did not stop for twenty minutes. At home she's a champ about bedtime, and when on occasion she does cry, we are ok with letting her grumble and mumble to sleep. This was no grumbling, this was "I am so pissed off that you've left me here that tomorrow morning I will learn to climb up on the kitchen counter so that I can grab a big knife and plunge it into your heart" angry. Chris went up with a bottle and spent considerable time and effort soothing Ada to sleep. (Meanwhile I enjoyed delicious bread salad, salmon and grilled zucchini with my tears.)

Once the gal was asleep, Chris and I had a lovely evening with Ellen and Jiro. We discussed their wedding ceremony, including what I will say and what ceremonial elements they want to employ. Oh, and what they should put on their registry. (TWELVE plates, Ellen, you need twelve.) When it was time to go home I was a little nervous. Okay, a lot nervous - enough to put off leaving past when I was yawning. Miss Ada was a champ. She barely complained when Chris picked her up. She put up with the short ride home, even smiling at me from the back seat. We quickly bundled her into the house and up to her room. It did not take too much effort to convince her to go back to sleep and soon we were all in bed.

This morning as Chris was leaving for work, he came back into the house to say "I've put your keys on the table, ok?"


"Unless you wanted them in the door."

"Oh. Were they in the door all night?"


I'm thinking it may be time to retire that story about the guy who walked around all day with the coaster in his shoe.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Random quote and unrelated photo of the week

It's a good time to be a larva.

Oregon Field Guide

Friday, July 07, 2006

Preaching Parenting In Partnership

Taking a break from working today, I checked out another new blog. Interesting woman, funny posts, cute child. And she's fed up with her husband. It tears at my heart to read about another wonderful, smart, lively woman dealing with a marriage to a man whose actions do not convey respect, who puts his needs ahead of his wife and child's, or who is not an equal partner in the relationship or in parenting. I hate to think of this and other women I know getting less than they deserve.

I know that marriage can be better, because it is for me. I don't mean to suggest that my husband is perfect. He's not, and we have had our struggles over our 13+ year relationship. But I have always known that he respects me and is my equal partner. Even when he was working and I was home with Ada full-time, he did his share and often more. And unlike me, he rarely complains about the hard parts. My heart goes out to my real-life and blog friends who struggle with their partners because I know that Chris is not a superman. He's a normal, wonderful guy who somehow learned the important lessons that make him a great husband and father, the lessons that I wish the husbands and partners of many more women would get. The women I know are all so strong and amazing, but we should not have to be strong or amazing all the time. Sometimes our partners should be strong and amazing for us.

* * *

I wrote this earlier today, but hesitated about posting it. I didn't want women who have less engaged or otherwise frustrating husbands to feel that I was thumbing my nose at them. My intention is the exact opposite, but I know that when I am having a hard time with something, hearing how great someone else's life is in that area can be a bit, well, terrible. In the end I hit "publish" because of two things. One is that I talked to Chris about it. He agreed that being a good parent does not make him a special (even though I still appreciate how great he is). He said that he's noticed the accolades that some of the high profile daddy bloggers get for being good parents, and wonders why people think it is extraordinary that such men engage with, attend to and demonstrate their obvious love their children and wives.

The other thing that convinced me was this post. Like me, MIM has a partner who understands that parenting is the responsibility and joy of both parents, and who does not try to get out of the less fun parts just because he's a busy man.

* * *

This is definitely one of those moments when I wish I was a better writer. There is so much I feel that I am failing to adequately express. For now, all I can offer is my hopes. To any and all women reading this: I hope that you have a wonderful partner with whom to share the highs and lows of parenting. You deserve one. And to the men, I hope you are like Chris, Dutch, Pierre and MIM's husband, because the woman you married, she is amazing and strong, but human. Your children will be better for your combined efforts.

No one should get five shots in one day

A few highlights from Ada's first week as a one year old:

At Ada's 12 month doctor visit, we learned that the girl continues to be the tallest one year old in the neighborhood - 30 inches (93rd percentile for girls her age). His dad doesn't like to admit it, but one day soon she is going to outpace Monkey Boy. And then I will cry, because the clothing hand-me-down gravy-train will stop.

Also at the appointment, poor Miss Ada suffered through five shots. Nurse Mike had charmed Ada through the weighing and measuring (yeah, you just try not to laugh when a 40-something, heavyset, balding male nurse does his Donald Duck impression). Things went south quickly when Mike returned with five needles after the doctor left the room. We also learned that band-aids do not protect the wearer from sunburn.

Earlier that week Ada joined Monkey Boy for a dip in the pool and some snacks. Everyone loves watermelon, right? Well, it is even better after your young friend dumps the entire contents of the bowl over his crotch, returns the pieces to the bowl, and then offers you one of the marinated chunks. Also delicious are the cereal bits that stuck to MB's watermelon juiced body after Ada tossed some cereal on the blanket. Mmmm, scroti-Os.

On Ada's actual birthday, it was way too hot to bake a cake, so Ada got ice cream instead. A few days later, Ada's nu-nu Ellen brought over a beautiful cake. It turns out that (no surprise) Ada likes chocolate cake. I was a little worried, since Chris prefers lemon to chocolate, but apparently his weird tastes were not transferred to her genetically.

Um, does anyone else notice something is burning?

Oh MY, that's GOOD.

What do you mean I can't eat the whole cake?

Thursday, July 06, 2006

...and all I got was this lousy t-shirt

My parents travel a lot. In the past 12 months they have visited Ada/Portland 7 times, went to see my sister at least once, and been to Austria, the Czech Republic, South Africa and China. (Just imagine what it will be like when they retire in another year or so.) They are wonderful, energetic travelers who feel compelled to see and do everything possible on their trips, not to mention eat as much local food as they can get. They are generally respectful of local traditions and mores, and despite a lack of skill in this area, they work at the local languages and learn key phrases before heading on their trips. Their one travel sin is that they are stinky trinket buyers.

I am not referring to my parents' tendency to buy momentos for themselves. (My father's desire for a full-sized replica of a Terracotta Warrior aside.) No, the problem is that they like to buy gifts for my sister, me and our men, but are the worst gift-pickers ever. For many years my parents traveled the globe and plunked down euros (and before that francs, pence or lira), dollars or whatever the local currency required to buy us t-shirts everywhere they went. Paris? yup. Stockholm? Mmmhmm. Machu Pichu? Si. The Galapagos? Holy Darwin, yes. (But who wouldn't want a blue footed booby shirt?)

Finally my sister and I took a stand. "No more t-shirts" we implored. "We don't wear them, we don't want them. We'd rather get no gift than these farkatke shirts. We love you, but please stop." My father was insulted, he bitched and moaned. We held our ground. Eventually he got over the slight.

My mother was the person really impacted by this edict. She is the kind of nice person who feels compelled to get her children and their partners gifts at every port of call, despite her lack of skill as a gift-buyer. For someone who is very tuned in to other people, she never gets the right thing. To avoid this I arranged for her to buy me a year's subscription to The New Yorker as an annual Chanukah gift. This has not completely stemmed the flow of bad gifts (the soft but impossibly huge Andean sweater, the fossilized trinket or CD of David McCullough's John Adams biography), but it helps.

With the moratorium on shirt buying, my mother has had to get creative. She bought me a cool-looking but impractical toaster-cozy handmade by a women's collective in South Africa. From China I got a silk scarf of a style I will never wear but that will make a good addition to Ada's future dress-up box. It's too bad, because how hard would it have been to buy a single color silk scarf? Instead I get one with a brown and black pattern that includes Chinese characters spelling out I know not what. I should not complain, I also got pearls. Chris got a Burberry knock-off scarf that he actually seems to like. My sister's fiance got an itchy scarf that he re-gifted a week later.

In Ada my mother now has a new victim recipient of t-shirts loved one for whom she can buy gifts. Behold, the latest purchases from the parent travel t-shirt torture:

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Random quote and unrelated photo of the week

The most memorable Oregon example of animal weather forecasting involved a herd of goats residing on Mt. Nebo, near Roseburg. As Mike Thoele reported in the Eugene Register-Guard (May 27, 1986), the goat herd slowly became a legend in Roseburg, but quickly became notorious when a local radio station began a promotional series which pitted the goats' forecasting skill against the National Weather Service - and some claimed the goats did better.

George H. Taylor and Raymond R. Hatton
The Oregon Weather Book: A State of Extremes

Monday, July 03, 2006

Pointer Sister... what Ada would be if she had a sibling.

Groan-inducing pun aside, Ada is really into pointing these days. It seems to be some combination of "ooh, look at that!" and "I want that" that motivates her jab-fest. We took a walk to our local grocery, etc. store (for garden annuals, 20 gauge wire, organic zuchini and pineapple) and she was Pointy Patty all the way.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

O Canada!

Like many liberal residents of the United States, I am a big fan of Canada. For those of us below the border, our neighbor to the north appears as a land of milk and honey, filled with friendly, polite, multi-lingual folks with an actual health care system (versus the hodge-podge of programs we rely on down here). I recognize that my overly rosy view is probably related to a lack of knowledge about the everyday realities of life in Canada. That aside, I but I have to say that over the months that I have been blogging I have met some really cool Canadian moms. In fact, a quick check of the sitemeter shows that a strikingly high percentage of visitors to this site are Canadian.* Chris and I have a running joke about it, and wonder whether I should adjust my spelling when typing colour, manoeuvre or centre.

So, to all my Canadian blog-pals: I enjoy your visits and love popping north of the internet border to read about your lives. Happy Canada Day!

*Well, there is the occasional visitor from some place like Kampong Baharu Nilai, Malaysia who finds me while searching for "photo of girl who did not wear anything", but I notice that those folks rarely stay around long. Then again... this week a visitor from Doha, Qatar who was looking for "big nipple" stuck around for more than two mintues!