Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Things that scare me

(An incomplete list)


Going into debt

The following scenario: I walked Ada to a friend's so she can share nanny time Monday morning. I walked home and after an hour sitting in front of the computer, I tip my head down and an ANT falls onto the table. From my head. Bleh, how did that happen?

Being without wireless

Being forced to read and politely comment on a poorly written and ill-conceived white paper. You know, theoretically speaking.

Being left out


Those free floating low moods

Chris wanting to take the computer with him next time he travels without me

Reoccuring dreams in which I have to make my own contact lenses out of newspaper

Can we go back to earwigs? 'cause, ugh, just looking at that photo creeps me out.

What scares you?

Thursday, October 26, 2006

What do you do all night?

After going out to an author talk/mom-gathering with fellow bloggers (neither of whom I had met before, but who were both very charming and funny), I...

  • Briefly consider checking my email/blogging but decide instead to go up to bed.

  • Tell my husband all the interesting and funny parts of the evening, even as I consider what I can blog about.

  • Wonder whether/what my companions will write about the evening and meeting me.

  • Think about hair and how unfair it is that some people have such amazing long curls while I suffer from the blandly mid-length, not a curl in sight yet completely frizzed out in places 'do.

  • Consider whether Amy Scheibe (the author whose reading we attended) realizes that she kind of lost us when she talked about her live-in nanny.

  • Feel catty for even thinking that, considering what a pro-mommy, we-are-all-connected kind of event this was.

  • Decide it is ok not to feel at one with all mothers, given what Amy said about the tendency for there to be an upswing in all things pro-mom during wartime. (See WW1, WW2...) Interesting point, and as an editor she's got to know that momlit is a nice little marketing niche. But her book seemed funny and I was entertained by the reading, so what's with the snark? Why do I have a stick up my butt about fiction targeted at women (much less at mommies)? Is it a holdover from continually refusing to allow my bookclub to read books I find insulting to my intelligence, gender and common sense? I think that I am resistant to this kind of book (mommy lit) because it is such a hot marketing niche. I'm sure the sponsors of last night's event (a mom-focused cable channel that also dabbles in blogs) like to get women together for discussions and snacks. But they also want to promote their ventures, and this is a cheap way to do it. Pay for some two-buck chuck, some crackers and cheese and Voila! buzz for you and your featured authors.

  • Laugh about how quickly a literary event turns into a discussion of breast-feeding, naked children and naked parents and how much sex is expected/wanted/hoped for after babies.

  • Inspired by some things Ms. Scheibe and this clever blogger said last night, I wonder how to write a full post about the extent to which (mom)blogging provides a format in which we are supported for sharing our insecurities, failings and misgivings, at the same time we are ridiculed or slammed for pronouncing our strengths and joys (particularly when those are outside of the traditional realm of parenting/wifedom, or suggest we value other things as much as our families...).

  • Decide to think about these things in the morning, roll over and slide quickly into sleep.

The Chris and Ada Show

Ada: Cup!

Chris: You want a cup?

Ada: Cup! Cup!

Chris: Do you want water in a cup?

Ada: (points to Chris's beer) Cup!

Chris: You want a beer?

Ada: (nods vigorously)

Aaaarrrrr you ready for the bath?

Ada has a whole routine around the bath. It has evolved some as she's developed; we now spend less time singing made-up lyrics to "rubber ducky" and more time playing with bath toys. Before Ada gets in the bath, she dumps a bunch of soft plastic letters into the tub. The letters are great, because they stick to the tile walls. (Slapping one high on the wall and pointing it out to Ada allows us to wash the shampoo off her without any of us crying.) We put Ada in the bath, and she stands there for a while. She is resistant to sitting down right away, and likes to pee into the bath before she submits to sitting.

Chris talks Ada through the bath, telling her he is going to wash her hands, her neck, her toes. Tonight I heard him saying "arrrr." She repeated him, "arrr"ing back, and they went back and forth like this several times. Just when I was convinced he was teaching her to talk like a pirate, he picked another letter and said "jayyyyy."

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Random quote and unrelated photo of the week

This holiday season, millions of Americans will go on vacation, a gamble that plays right into the twitchy hands of the pickpocket and the double-jointed brain of the con-artist. The only way to protect yourself, of course, is to cultivate a debilitating fear of humanity and never leave your basement.

Jason Roeder
Thieves Are Everywhere

Monday, October 23, 2006

Search me!

I'll admit it, I like to see how people find me. Recently I've seen some trends in the searchers' queries. Crying is a big query topic. Some people seem to be looking for help figuring out what is going on in their own heads:

  • music triggers crying
  • why am I crying so much
  • why do my eyes sting when i cry
  • very emotional cry very easily
  • "seen me cry" tears cried
  • crying tears what triggers them

    and for all you pregnant folks out there:
  • I cry all the time pregnant

    While other people seem interested in why other people are so teary:
  • why do some people cry so easily?
  • do you cry easily and why?
  • Why do some people cry easily
  • cry and response

    A number of people find me by googling IVF related terms and phrases. I'm not sure why the person who searched for "I-love-hormone-injections" didn't stick around, but searchers seeking for fertility information pretty much never do.

    And now for some of my recent favorites:
  • dead rat smell and pregnancy
  • blue-footed booby toy
  • what does funky cold medina mean
  • "i make a pigeon" (we have Dutch to thank for that one)
  • babysitting diaper mishaps (seeing this, I imagined a 14 year old alone with her charge, furiously googling to see what to do.)
  • pregnant lady travelling in aircraft snaps
  • "fearful crouching masturbators" (how can I be the 4th hit for this?)
  • Diapered + Humiliated+Pacified (speaking of fearful crouching masturbators....)
  • one linear jokes

  • Thursday, October 19, 2006

    Slack Jaw

    A few things -

    1. Do you know how hard it is to eat left-over pizza when half your face is full of novocaine? I do. I hope the numbness wears off before my all-afternoon meeting.

    2. Sorry to those of you who read me via bloglines or some such and are seeing that I have dozens of "new" posts. I've jumped to beta and am tagging all my old posts. I will be done in a day or two.

    3. As a certifiable old lady (mentally, if not literally), I want to know why live music is such a late-night activity. I mean, plays and dance concerts start at a reasonable hour, so why does your favorite band not go on stage until 11:30? (Yes, Chris and I crapped out on our plans to hear the Detroit Cobras play last night, because the show didn't start until 9:30, and we knew that with an opening band, the Cobras would not take the stage until a time that is (pathetically) too late for us to be up. Sigh. At least we got to use our date night to have dinner out together.)

    Wednesday, October 18, 2006

    Random quote and unrelated photo of the week

    Although some Business Horizons readers may doubt whether anything can be learned from an anger-ridden Fifties scribbler, much less an Irish management dropout, it's time we looked at the seven sizzling secrets of Samuel Beckett's success.

    Stephen Brown
    "Fail Better! Samuel Beckett's Secrets of Business and Branding Success"
    Business Horizons, March-April 2006

    Tuesday, October 17, 2006

    First things first

    Motivated by a post by the Queen of Spain (who was herself motivated by Women's Voices. Women's Vote, I wanted to encourage you* to vote this November. Toward that end, I offer you a little memory about my first time voting. (*and by "you" I mean those of you who live in the United States. Other yous I encourage to vote whenever it is that you vote wherever you live.)


    My story starts in Florida. Not the Florida of hanging chads and Jeb. My Florida was more swimming in the apartment pool, ballet lessons and palmetto bugs. This was the early 70s, and as a mere 4 year old, I started kindergarten. Apparently in Miami you could enter kindergarten as long as you would be 5 by the end of the calendar year you started. My birthday cuts it close (my parents call me an Old Year baby) but my parents apparently thought it was a good idea, so into school I went. My first day was memorable, in part because I was stung by a bee on the top of my head. What I remember most about kindergarten is that we had to sleep head to foot at nap time (a kid or two had a persistent lice problem), one of my classmates was named Barbie (which bothered me because she was a brunette) and I learned to say the Pledge of Allegiance with a southern accent. ("Pledge" is one of those words that did not come up a lot at home, so my accented teacher taught me to say it "Plaaydige.")

    But where was I? Oh right, my first time voting. The point of that little trip in time is that because I started school young, I left for college at the tender age of 17. So living in a new city, being "on my own" (sort of) offered new experiences of all types. When I got my first chance to vote I was excited. Probably more excited than is reasonable. Even at 18 I knew that whole "what's one vote?" line, but I was still pumped. There is a sense of possibility on election day. Even when things go really wrong later in the day, when you march into that polling place I feel that My Vote Will Count! I Will Be Heard! This Is Democracy In Action! Now all Oregonians vote by mail, but when I first voted Oregon still had voting booths and you actually had to leave your home to vote. (I was going to write "put on pants" but I am not sure if there was any such rule outlawing naked voting. If not there probably should be. How distracting.)

    Oregon used to have these thick blue pens for filling in the ballot. Maybe not as traditional as New York's mechanical levers, but still fun. Big Blue Marks for my choices, plus a little on my fingers. It probably took all of 5 minutes, but I voted! I'm an adult! Woo hoo! All day I was buzzy about my "accomplishment." (Dork dork dork.)

    About the "Oregonians vote by mail" issue: I wonder about people newly able to vote, about what they are missing here in Oregon. It feels so anti-climactic to vote by mail. I miss the opportunity to walk to my polling place, chat with the retirees and other poll workers. I miss slapping an "I voted!" sticker on my shirt and feeling absurdly patriotic for having done my citizen duty. But I have to admit that it is easy. Fill out the ballot at your leisure, stick it in the envelope and either toss it in the mail or drop it by the county office down the road. A University of Oregon study found that Oregon's vote by mail increased voting by people with disabilities, homemakers and voters 18 to 38. Hard to argue with success. So I can suck up the loss of the sticker. I still love to vote.

    Sunday, October 15, 2006

    Two years ago I went on vacation

    On October 15th, 2004 I had the embryo later known as Ada implanted into my uterus. Actually, I had two embryos implanted, but the other one became twins (oh, I know, can you imagine three at once?) and neither of those two made it past about six weeks. But I digress.

    The doctors said that I should take it easy for a day or two after the implantation. Despite knowing that people get pregnant on ski trips and while training for marathons, when you've gone to all the trouble to get pregnant, um, with assistance, it is hard not to want to do everything "right" to make the pregnancy stick. I wasn't up for a 26 mile run, but low-level activity seemed like a good distraction. I knew that I would not want to sit around the house too long, and going to work while I wondered whether the embryos would attach sounded like a recipe for disaster. ("Let's see, is there anyone in the building who hasn't already seen me cry?")

    A vacation was in order, so Chris and I hopped into the car and headed south. We were headed to my sister's in Berkeley, but our first stop was my cousin's home on the coast. My cousin is a mostly retired geologist who still writes papers with younger researchers. At this point I think he does it to keep sharp, and because he enjoys interacting with younger people. [He also likes getting them in trouble. Once when he was in Iceland for a project, the team had brought flares in case anything went awry. On the last night he was on the site, he convinced the research assistants to set off a bunch of the flares for fun. The next day he left the country, so he wasn't there when the local authorities stopped by to let the grad students know how not ok it was to be shooting off flares in the middle of the night in Nowhere, Iceland.] My cousin is the kind of old man who wears a bolo tie and rakishly placed cap and looks eccentric and fun. Which he is. His wife is less flamboyant, but smart and lovely in her own right. She never wears bolo ties, but did agree to honeymoon in Japan in the 1950s. Plus she came to my graduation in a cap with a propellor.

    Currently my cousin and his wife spend a good part of their time traveling the world so that he can give talks and collect awards. He's won the geology equivalent of the Nobel prize. When my cousins are not globe-trotting, they live in a small town on the Oregon coast. It is beautiful but, like much of Oregon outside of the Willamette Valley, kind of red state-y. My cousins love visitors, especially those with a liberal bent. We went to the one cafe in town that caters to Democrats, drove and wandered around the area on a sight-seeing attempt cut somewhat short by wet weather, went out to dinner at what passes for haute cuisine in those parts, and admired my cousin's collection of Chinese communist propaganda posters.

    We had a good time with them, but I felt weird not telling them that I'd just had IVF. Superstitiously, I worried that if I told them or in any way suggested that I might be pregnant, the embryos would detatch themselves and flush themselves right out of my body. Crazy, I know, but investing so heavily in a chance to get pregnant will do that to a person. So after a short visit with my cousins, we got back in the car and headed south again. It was kind of nice to be in the car most of the day, sedentary yet hurtling forward. Chris drove while I read magazines and nibbled at snacks.

    My sister and her man greeted up with a fabulous meal. (Did I mention how much my stomach enjoys having a restaurant guy in the family?). We wandered around the bay area eating, enjoying a science playground and wandering up and down streets around San Francisco and Berkeley.

    My sister is brilliant and funny. As I have mentioned before, my in-person relationship with my sister changed forever when I met Chris. Although we have always been close and often use one another for support and cheerleading, once Chris and I got together my visits with my sister tended to include him. We've carved out some "sister time" but for the most part have included Chris in our adventures. And my sister has borne the brunt of that. After all, I'm in love with Chris, so having him along is no problem. My sister had to do the adjusting. She and Chris get along well and are both in-laws and friends, but I recognize that this latter relationship took energy on both their parts. And meeting my sister's then-boyfriend made me realize it was time for me to make such an adjustment. Spending time with my sister with her guy around was an adjustment. Pair that with my fears about whether the embryos would attach, what pregnancy would be like, whether I'd be a good parent, and well, it was somewhat of an odd vacation.

    I am not normally a superstitious person, but on that trip two years ago, I was looking at everything for meaning, taking everything as a sign. Even as I hoped to be distracted, everything reminded me of my possible pregnancy. (It is a bit like buying a car that way. You start thinking about buying a honda and suddenly the streets are filled with them. You want to be pregnant and the sidewalks are choked with waddling, center-heavy women.)

    Two years ago I was thinking a lot about family, about what I wanted out of life, about when my next shot in the ass would be. Everything in my life isn't perfect, but I did get what I most wanted two years (and three years, and...) ago. And life with Ada is still what I want. I am still thinking about many of the same things that preoccupied me two years ago (though the space taken up by shots is now filled with dirty diapers). Though I am thinking about the same things, I feel a lot more positive about them. I know I am a good parent, even on the days I have done a less than stellar job at it. Today feels like a world away from two years ago.

    On this October 15th, we are hopping once again in the car and heading south. This year we are only going on a day trip to see Ada's grandparents. Just in case Chris starts feeling nostalgic for the days when he acted as my syringe-wielding nurse, I'll be wearing double padding and keeping him away from sharp objects.

    Friday, October 13, 2006

    The best day ever

    A day at the pumpkin patch.

    Or, the post of a thousand photos.

    This weekend I was alone with Ada while Chris was at a conference. Despite my worry about whether we'd get tired of staring at one another for four days, I had a near perfect weekend with the girl. On Saturday we had a best-day-ever kind of day. This was the best day ever for me because not only did Ada have a great time on our excursion, not only did I skillfully handle day 3 of solo-parenting (now, with more outings!), but the girl had a long nap in the middle of the day. That Ada's naps are either long or in the middle of the day is not ever to be counted on. Getting both in one day was so great, so the rest of the day being good was just gravy.

    Luckily, this was also the best day ever for Ada. First, we went on two, count 'em TWO bridges to get to the pumpkin patch. Ada, like her parents, is a sucker for a good bridge. If I fail to point out that we are on a bridge, she emphatically reminds me "bridge!" (which sounds more like "bige"). On this trip, Ada got to exclaim twice, and while she wasn't occupied with shrieking gleefully, she was busy hugging the horse her grandmother bought her. (This being-a-baby thing is a total racket. Ada's grandma visited for grandma's birthday, and brought gifts for Ada.)

    Ada and I were meeting my brother-in-law, his girlfriend and her son. I wasn't sure how far behind us they'd be, so I took Ada to the barn to see the animals. Let the best day ever fun begin! Ada's joy was, as we say in my family, standing beside her. She did not know what to make of all the real live animals that were just like those in the books, but moving! and making noise! and moving! I should have predicted this, given how she reacts to the cats and dogs she meets in our neighborhood. It was definitely one of those moments parents talk about. You know, the "having kids is so great because you get to see things for the first time all over again!" moments. Ada loved the animals. Loved them in a run-back-and-forth-between-the-pens-gawping-and-smiling-and-pointing-and-then-running-back-to-see-the-pigs-oh-the-ducks-no-the-llama-wait... frenzy. She made all the animal noises.

    Well, except for the llama. What exactly DOES a llama say?

    And when I asked her what the goat says she responded "llama! llama! llama!" I didn't actually hear it say that, but they are pen mates, so they are bound to be tight.

    Ada was a little skeptical about the hay ride but was thrilled to see all the pumpkins in the field. She toddled off into the field, alternating between trying to pick up pumpkins weighing more than half her body weight and grabbing at vines in order to take the "sticks" with her. D (the kid in the orange shirt) was great with Ada. He brought her pumpkins, carried her between the rows, carved a face into a small pumpkin and otherwise entertained the short girl.

    After an extended discussion of which pumpkins were the "right" pumpkins, the "best" pumpkins, we hopped back on the hay cart, paid for the pumpkins and made a beeline for the elephant ear booth. My brother-in-law's gal is a connoisseur of the elephant ear, and guided me through this new experience. Looking at the size of those monsters, I talked her son into sharing one with Ada and me. Sadly, my camera battery died before we got our hands on this fried dough deliciousness. It is probably just as well, since between shoveling in the stuff into my own mouth and parceling out bits for Ada, I got a little greasy/sugar-and-butter coated.

    Mid-snack I realized that almost all the sugar-bomb, dinner-thwarting treats Ada has experienced have come without Chris. My husband loves sugar and late at night often asks if I've got any cookies. So I feel a bit guilty about dosing Ada with sugary snacks while Chris was out of town. But not guilty enough not to buy a second elephant ear to share with the kids. Mmmm, greasy...

    I take care of Ada by myself all the time. Spending so much time with her this weekend was nothing new. But it felt different because with Chris out of town for four days, it was just me. Before he left I'd been worried about what I would do at the end of the day when she was whiny and I was tired and minutes stretched to hours. When Ada was tiny and colicky I could swear that she'd ramp up into special fits when she knew I was going to be alone with her for an extended period. But this weekend Ada was on her best, most adorable, sweetest behavior. She's too young to understand how it feels to be in charge alone, but she managed to give me the lovely gift of a wonderful weekend nonetheless. And writing this days after the elephant ears are only a pleasant memory, I know it isn't just the sugar talking.

    Wednesday, October 11, 2006

    Random quote and unrelated photo of the week

    Photo Credit: Janeen

    Destiny is not a matter of chance,
    it is a matter of choice;
    it is not a thing to be waited for,
    it is a thing to be achieved.

    William Jennings Bryan

    Tuesday, October 10, 2006

    So why does she wake up if I sneeze on the other side of the house?

    Cooking dinner one night last week, I heard a double beep. It sounded like a smoke detector, but less insistent. That's it, a polite smoke detector. I looked around, heard two more beeps. After a moment, two more. I kept cooking, and Chris headed upstairs.

    Chris heard the beeps, and thought they must be coming from our bedroom. But no. Beep Beep. Chris realized the sound was coming from Ada's room. Beep Beep. Turns out that putting a humidifier directly under the smoke detector isn't a great idea.

    Ada's room is pretty dark at night, so Chris turned on the light to get at the ceiling mounted smoke detector. Amazingly, Ada did not stir. She didn't move at all, not with the beeping, not with the lights on, not with Chris moving around making noise. This from a child who wakes up from a nap if I just think about walking past her room while she's sleeping. Chris said he knew she was alive because of the snoring. Now if only she could sleep this deeply when she's not sick, I could learn to clog dance during her naps.

    Monday, October 09, 2006

    She's bitching about stealth ads again

    Mayberry Mom and Chaos Theory both took on blog ads on Wednesday.* I'm personally not bothered by the ads and have an easy time tuning them out. I can't see putting them on my site, given the low volume traffic.

    So ads, whatever. But what IS bothering me is the emails and comments I am getting from bloggers wanting to increase traffic to their sites by suggesting I do a "swap" with them - if I put their site on my blogroll, they'll add me. The emails always start with some version of "I love your blog" "I really enjoy reading your blog" "great blog."

    Um, if you are such a big fan, how come you've never commented before? I know there are people out there who read my and other blogs and never comment. (My husband is like that. He loves you all and reads religiously, but almost never leaves a message. Except at Sweet Juniper.) Fine, lurking is cool. But really, if you have a blog and are chatty that way, seems like you might have offered a comment or two at a blog you think is so great. And that comment might have come before you so enthusiastically gushed about how great my blog is and oh-yeah-do-you-want-to-pimp-my-site-for-free. Especially if I have never seen or heard of your ad-encrusted site. Especially if it is a site featuring "cute" photos of people's kids. Why do I need to go to a random site to see pictures of children I don't know? At least with the blogs I already visit, I know something about the kid before seeing them wearing a goofy hat or smiling through a chocolate ice cream facial. I am guessing that you don't know anything about my site, other than that it is written by a mom. 'Cause really, my own child notwithstanding, I fucking hate cute.

    I am sure I was not the only recipient of this "offer." And I know I've complained about this kind of marketing before. But it just bugs me, and bugs me in a way that ads that are clearly ads just don't. Oh, and this is where I wish I could borrow Metrodad's brain for a minute. If he was writing this post, it would be really funny and cutting, yet inclusive and loving. I'd force that guy to be my new best friend if he didn't live across the country and if I didn't think my current closest pal would threaten to cut him if I told her that. (But really, she'd love him too, if she read him regularly.)

    *They swapped blogs for their paired posts, so the links posted take you to the posts they've written, but not to their blogs.

    Wednesday, October 04, 2006

    Random quote and unrelated photo(s) of the week

    (This beauty has been for sale for months, but so far, no takers.)

    I am grateful to those who are keepers of the groove. The babies and the grandmas who hang on to it and help us remember when we forget that any kind of dancing is better than no dancing at all.

    Lynda Barry
    One Hundred Demons

    Tuesday, October 03, 2006

    The Milk Bar is Closing

    I am one of those women for whom nursing was the easy part of being a new mom. As Ellen tells it, just after Ada was born the girl practically commando-crawled up my belly to reach my breast, latching on immediately and vigorously. I never had mastitis, plugged ducts or other routine but painful problems that commonly plague nursing mothers. (Ok, I did get thrush, but that was when I was pregnant, not breastfeeding.) Ada has always been an avid nurser. She took well to solids too, and at 15 months only nurses a few times a day. At this point it sound be easy to just cut her off. Who knows, maybe it will be easy for her. But it isn't easy for me.

    I enjoy the quiet time with Ada, the chance to hold her warm body and hum or sing to her. Especially now that she's walking, the girl is all about movement, making those cuddle moments rare And though I don't have a problem with so-called "extended nursing." I am facing a deadline: Thanksgiving.

    Every year since college, a group of my friends have gotten together for Thanksgiving. We rent a house and barely leave all weekend. If we are someplace scenic, we take walks, but mostly we sit around playing cards, cooking, eating, drinking and trash-talking. Usually the weather encourages this sloth. We've gathered in Wisconsin, on Cape Cod, the Oregon coast and upstate New York. One of my Thanksgiving friends has been living in Mexico for the past several years, and has been advocating for a warmer destination for long before that. This is the year that the group has agreed. So we are headed to Mexico for Thanksgiving. This is great, and Chris and I decided that it will be more fun without Ada than with her. As much as I love her, she's not yet a great traveling companion. So Ada will stay home with her grandparents while we flee the country.

    This is where I run into a problem. I need to (at least mostly) wean her in the next two months. Ada is not looking very interested in weaning. I have heard that waiting too much past a year makes it a bit harder to wean, as the child gets more "attached" to the breast. Ada's only 15 months old, so I think we are still fine as far as that goes. And truthfully, I probably wouldn't have been in a hurry to make a change if we didn't have this trip coming up.

    Right now Ada is only nursing when she wakes up in the morning, before nap(s) and before bed. When I am not home with her, she goes without (ok, she gets milk, but without the breast). She survives just fine, as she does when someone else puts her to bed. But when I'm there, nothing but the real thing is good enough. I want to wean her down to the before-bedtime before we leave. Being apart from both Chris and me for four days is going to be a big enough change for her without cold turkey weaning.

    So, help a brother (ok, a mother) out? What have you done? What worked? How can I get on the plane without being racked with guilt, clutching my engorged breasts?