Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Random quote and unrelated photo of the week

The goddess Iris was an Olympian messenger, and boy, was she a hoofer. Day after day, she walked the rainbow that bridged heaven and earth. As you might expect, with all that walking, she often picked up rainbow pieces on the soles of her feet, so that wherever she walked on earth, her footprints bore flowers in all the colors of the rainbows she'd traveled.

Ketzel Levine
Plant This!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Random quote and unrelated photo of the week

Why must I feel like that? Why must I chase the cat?

George Clinton
Atomic Dog

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

My weird things

Jenny at Mamadrama is asking people to share their weird stuff. Her weird stuff is hard to beat, but I thought I'd share the following.

On my cell phone:

In my living room:

I share these things not because I hope I will win Jenny's amazing dog painting. Ok, I do hope that, but I know that this weird stuff, compared to other weird stuff, is not really so weird. So I am really sharing these items because they make me so happy. The pirate-boy has been in my phone for several months. I had an extended conversation with him about his pirate-ness. He was so sweet, in a scary, plank-threatening, "arrr" yelling kind of way.

The painting I love even more. First, it is a painting of a DOG in HOT PANTS. How can you not love that?

Second, this painting was given to me by my coworkers at my favorite job ever. This job had the great job trifecta: interesting work; wonderful coworkers; and an encouraging, funny, supportive boss.

When I quit this job to move out of state, the whole office spent a celebratory "teambuilding"/going away party day at my boss's beach house in Michigan. We played mini-golf, barbecued, and lounged on the beach. Then they gave me gifts! A couple of my coworkers put together a report about me in the style that the office produces, with findings and recommendations. They prepared me for my move to Rhode Island with a copy of the film "Outside Providence" and a homemade Mrs. Potato Head. She was gorgeous. They also bought me the dog painting.

Several months before this, I'd seen this and other paintings by Kristin Thiele. At the time of the show, I knew I wanted one of these paintings. Unfortunately, I also knew that if I wanted to pay my income taxes, the painting could not be mine. Fortunately, my friends knew my love for these paintings, and presented me with the hot pants dog at the end of my farewell party day. I am still close with a couple of my ex-coworkers, and my old boss periodically sends me his newest bad jokes. The painting is in a place of prominence in my home and in my heart. (Plus, did I mention it is a dog in hot pants? It is!)

And now for something not weird, but very cool:

you know, for kids

Local mom made good (makes goods? makes good goods?) Debbie recently opened a cool online store that features her beautiful kid clothes. I am a big fan of the balloon pirate design, but recently noticed that she also makes shirts that read "the past means nothing to me" which may be just as good. In any case, I urge you to check her out, and urge you even more to purchase her lovely designs. Why, you ask? Supporting talent isn't enough for you? Well, in case you need another reason, how 'bout this: it will keep her busy. If you've ever read Debbie's blog, you'll know that her brain goes about five million miles an hour. And without too much work to do, Debbie might just fall apart. I mean, how many people do you know that stay up working until 2 in the morning and then sound perky and daisy-fresh on the phone the next morning? I called her at 5:45 am just to check, and the daisy smell practically knocked me out through the phone. (Ok, I didn't call that early, but I did call at 9:20 and she seemed pretty darn alert.) So go buy something already, will ya?

Monday, November 20, 2006

Lying in it

My childhood was one long independent study in Economics. As a practitioner of the dismal science, my mom's parenting style drew heavily on her professional interests. Television was limited to one hour a day, which as a kid I thought was just to torture me. Later I realized this was my mother's idea of an experiment in choice theory. Would I rather watch Mork & Mindy or WKRP?

Every choice is fraught; picking one thing means letting go of something else. To some extent, learning this lesson as a child only served to increase my indecisiveness. The longer I held off making a decision, the longer all options were open. The period before a choice is made is delicious and painful. Everything is possible, but by waiting too long I might lose the chance to make an active decision, as one or more possibilities go away. (cue the Rush)

But this is not a post about my refusal to make decisions. This is a post about a choice - the choice to go on a trip without Ada. This choice is really my mother's fault. The first year after college, Chris and I found ourselves far from our parents at Thanksgiving. A good friend of Chris's lived a few hours south of us and invited us to join him for turkey and stuffing. That first year it was just the three of us, along with our friend's housemate and a ferret. The main thing I remember about the housemate is that he wore some unfortunate cologne, which we smelled a lot more of than we wanted to because our friend's ferret knocked over a bottle the guy had left on the floor of his room. Other than that, it was a good Thanksgiving and we decided to do it again the next year.

The second year we were joined by our friend's girlfriend (Chris's and my ex-housemate from college), plus another college friend. Each year a few new people would join us. Some only come once, others come back every year. We drink, cook, eat, play cards, go for walks. When I read Lumpyhead's Mom's post about her annual outer banks weekend, I was reminded of my friends' annual tradition. We've been doing this for fourteen years. Each year it is a bit different, but every year I am reminded how much I enjoy seeing these friends and having this tradition.

When Ellen and Jiro, and then Chris and I, had babies, we knew that would affect our tradition, but we plowed forward, finding houses that would simultaneously accommodate sleeping children, trash-talking card players and drunken chefs. Last year we met on the Oregon coast, which made it easy for Chris and me. For years, two of the Thanksgiving friends have lobbied for moving Thanksgiving to a warm place. To my mind, Thanksgiving works well in a wet, cold climate, but after celebrations in Wisconsin, the Massachusetts cape, upstate New York, and the Oregon Coast, I can kind of see their point. One of my Thanksgiving friends lives in Mexico, so we decided to make this the year we venture south.

Although we could take Ada with us, there were many reasons not to. The plane flights, time change, sleeping in unfamiliar places. Oh, and the chance for both Chris and me to sleep past six am several days in a row. So I did what my mother taught me to, I made the choice to leave Ada with her grandparents. And of course I am feeling a little torn. The choice to go away without my daughter has me feeling guilty; for doing something fun without her, for leaving her when she can't possibly understand that I love her and will come back to her soon. It is all that normal parent stuff, the love mixed with fear and guilt.

Yes, a little torn. But I am leaving her with her grandparents, who love her and take great care of her. They love her so much and are so good with her that I should be worried that she won't want to come home after five days with them. And I know she will be ok. I've made my (warm, sunny, relaxing) bed, and now I have to lie in it.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Random quote and unrelated photo of the week

Some say that Happiness is not Good for mortals & they ought to be answerd [sic] that Sorrow is not fit for Immortals & is utterly useless to any one a blight never does good to a tree & if a blight kill not a tree but it still bear fruit let none say that the fruit was in consequences of the blight.

William Blake
Letter to William Hayley
October 7, 1803

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Sweet Sixteen?

Since it is months away from the NCAA basketball tournament, it can only be a how-can-Ada-be-that-old post.

Ada is 16 months old, and for the most part it is just incredibly fantastic. She's busting out with little phrases, mostly of the "Ada cracker" variety. While preparing for a friend's visit by making the guest bed, Ada was entertaining herself by making that effort difficult. Chris recently taught her to pile the pillows in the middle of the bed and jump on them. (I know, maybe not the best idea ever, but what can you do?) She decided that while I was making the bed was a good time to try this out. She bounced around exclaiming "dump! dump!" (I guess Js aren't in her range yet). Not getting the response she wanted, she tried a different tactic, looking up at me and saying what sounded like "I dump!"

After Chris and I stopped laughing, we asked one another to confirm what we'd just heard. Yeah, I heard it too. I know kids this age generally refer to themselves in third person. Makes sense, since what a young child hears all the time is everyone calling her by name. After a while Chris and I realized she was saying "Ada jump" but eliding it to "A-dump."

So my daughter's first sentence sounds like "I dump." Definitely one to store our hearts, maybe breaking it out when we meet her future high school boyfriend.

Beyond the world of words, Ada is maturing in other amazing ways. She sits with her sippy cup of milk every morning, cuddled in my lap while I read her books. She even shows interest in ones that do not feature cats on every page. She's aware of her surroundings and provides a running commentary on what we see on our walks around the neighborhood. She knows Dylan's house from Paul's from Avery's. She talks about bridges and cars and the river. She routinely charms strangers out of sugary snacks at the farmers' market.

She's also scaring the crap out of me. In the past month we've witnessed Ada have a couple of really intense tantrums. This new phenomenon that has blown like a hurricane through our house. Though not (yet) routine, the intensity of her rage and its physical manifestation had me in tears. Both times the tantrums have seemed to come from nowhere. They happened at the end of the day, so maybe fatigue and hunger play their parts, but she's been tired and hungry before without turning into a screaming, arching, flailing monster. When it happened I was completely at a loss. I just hugged and tried to soothe her like I did when she was a colicky four month old. After a minute or two I successfully redirected her for a while until she was calm enough to try dinner without her bucking so hard she risked hitting her head on the back of the chair.

I can not express how frightening these tantrums were to me. They were so unexpected (particularly the first one). Her anger was so intense and I am so unprepared for this new behavior. I naively thought that tantrums didn't start until after two, maybe even later. Apparently I was wrong. (I hope I'm wrong. The alternative is that this is just an Ada thing, which is so much scarier than normal kid-terror.)

Several times recently someone at the park or in a store has commented on what a good natured child Ada is. "Usually" I say sheepishly, a bit embarrassed to be speaking ill of my child to a stranger, but unable to lie and say that she is as ideal as she might appear. I remember these moments from when Ada was an infant. Those colic months were so hard, that even when Ada was sleeping peacefully or cooing sweetly, I could not help but let people know that life with her wasn't all bunnies and flowers. She was hard work, and I wanted people to know it.

Now I am more able to accept the complement on my child's public demeanor, but I still sneak that little hint of "yeah, but." It isn't pretty, but it is a way of coping with this new type of parent-stress. And really, these moments have been so few compared to the hours with my funny, sweet and charming child. Much of my time with her is fun these days, and I really enjoy watching her change and grow. This struggle is about me as much as it is about her. How much can I focus on the positive rather than fretting that her hard moments might be signs of a looming problem? I started writing this post to talk about how great 16 month old Ada is, but thrown by one night's struggle I found myself writing about the difficulties of this age instead. So really, though it is hard, it is also easy. Big hug, whispered words, huge grin, skittering run easy.

Edited to add: the raincoat is from Polliwog in Portland.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Updates From The Road To No Nursing

Weaning Phase One (Mourning Morning?)

It was not the plan to eliminate morning nursing first. We heard all the people who told us that morning was the last to go for them, the one time their children were most attached to keeping. But an opportunity arose and we grabbed it. One Monday both Chris and I had to get up early for work, so we were downstairs, showered and dressed and semi-coherent before Ada woke up. When she woke, Chris brought her downstairs. I held her on my lap and gave her a cup of milk.

Ada responded well to the first week of our new routine. Then the first Saturday with no morning nursing Ada seemed to realize that this new thing was permanent. She was pissed. There was screaming and complaining. Eventually there was crabby, grudging book reading. After a few days this evolved into happy book reading. Well, happy for her. I'm a little groggy first thing, and Ada is a demanding little monkey in the morning. (You know the routine. She commands: "Cup!" "Book!" "Pick up the pace, mama!")

As thrilled as I am to have Ada sit on my lap and read books in the morning, her attachment to particular books has gotten old fast. My boredom led us to take a trip to exchange library books and another to buy a passel of 50 cent books at Goodwill. Why buy four books at $6.99 US, when you can buy a zillion at Goodwill? Ok, some culling is needed, and admittedly I did end up with one book (on opposites) that is going back via a donation (I am not keeping a book that suggests Boys are the opposite of Girls. That is just not correct. Plus the Up/Down examples are just confusing.) But I also got a cool Caldecott medal winning book, plus some other gems.

Weaning Phase Two (Break-Out)

To eliminate day nursing, Chris and I settled on the "fall break" weaning method. We planned this phase of weaning to coincide with Chris's school break so that he would be around to put Ada in her crib for naps. We figured that after a week of no day nursing she'd be over it and I could go back to taking her upstairs at naptime without hearing screams for me and my breasts.

Like many things in life, the initial attempts were extremely painful, but the longer term is going well. Attempt one at nap-without-nursing was gut wrenching. Ada showed all her tired signs (loss of coordination, extra hilarity at small jokes alternating with crabbiness...) and Chris picked her up and asked if she wanted a nap. The problem is that he asked in front of me. So although she said "nap, nap, nap" she was confused and annoyed when he took her upstairs. (I mean, she doesn't know everything, but she's fairly clear that he is no help in the nursing department.)

Our girl made some noises I have never heard from her. Pisssed off, ear-piercing screams. Wow. But they subsided fairly quickly and she napped well. The pre-nap screams went on for a few days, and although they were hard at the time, in retrospect (because I am so much more clear-headed from the remove of several weeks) it was not so bad. Now she is napping with no nursing first, either talking to herself a bit first, or just turning right over in bed the moment we put her down. (I hesitate to even mention this, for fear of jinxing it.)

I am still nursing before bedtime, and will continue to do so until Thanksgiving. I feel torn about what I hope happens with that change. Part of me wants to be done, but I love the cuddle time and singing to Ada in her darkened room and the intimacy of tired mother and sleepy child. So we'll see.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Random quote and unrelated photo of the week

It occurs to me in a blinding flash of insight that all movies and TV shows are derivations of the shows that preceded them, they are almost the same but watered-down, not as good.

Cynthia Heimel
Seen It, Done It

Monday, November 06, 2006

Say it with me

It is totally normal that my 16 month old would rather assert her independence than eat.

It is totally normal that my 16 month old would rather assert her independence than eat.

It is totally normal that my 16 month old would rather assert her independence than eat.

It is totally normal that my 16 month old would rather assert her independence than eat.

It is totally normal that my 16 month old would rather assert her independence than eat.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Why Ada Is Very Likely Not My Daughter, Reason #72

While snacking on crackers, Ada noticed me putting green beans into a container. She threw down the crackers and demanded "bean-bean!"

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Evidence that I am NOT the least crafty person ever

While Ada napped one day last week I worked on my "trick or treat" pumpkin. I'd seen this idea in a magazine and decided to give it a shot.

This is the front of the pumpkin (unlit, very unspooky)

Pumpkin front (lit, kitchen lights on)

Pumpkin front (lit, kitchen lights off)

That night I watched "Friday Night Lights" and carved the back of the pumpkin. Here's what it looked like on Halloween:

I know in my heart of hearts that I should just have picked one of these photos. But I loved this pumpkin too much to pick one. But I've gotten my pumpkin-pride comeuppance. A visiting pal astutely noticed that now that the pumpkin has dessicated a bit, the letters have morphed a bit. The R and the E have sort of merged, and my lovely pumpkin now declares "TWAT."

Oh, and Ada had a great time dressed as a giraffe. Evidence:

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Random quote and unrelated photo of the week

Junk collecting, is, to this day, one of Rosenfeld's favorite hobbies, and an auxiliary outlet for his artistic energies. A few years ago, he accumulated too much stuff and decided to dig a hole and bury it all in his backyard.

Lauren Collins
Mink Inc.: How Ervin Rosenfeld sewed up the hip-hop crowd