Sunday, January 6, 2013

What We've Established Thus Far



Our tiny tot turned one on Friday, and sadly, I did not present him with a handwritten letter filled with all the precious memories of his first 365 days on this earth. No, at 6:30 a.m. I handed him to his daddy, who had the day off, showered, then scrambled to find my hair dryer, and sped off to work after I gave both gents a goodbye kiss and a cornbread muffin, one for each of the them.

I came home at lunch (since, as you well know, mothers who work on their children's birthdays may as well take parenting classes from Putin--cold, heartless, anti-American weasel!), and we took our one-year-old to buy a real pair of shoes. We also bought cupcakes, most of which were eaten by his two adoring parents.

Anyway, it was a fun day, but it was also kind of anti-climactic. I had to go back to work for a few hours after twelve glorious days away. He didn't even know why we were eating cupcakes, or why we kept asking him if he was having a good day. He protested and refused to take his second nap, which led to the longest witching hour of all time. A record, you could say.

The whole thing made me realize: this might not actually get easier. He's not sleeping from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. as I once prayed he would. He tends to fling food. But I have not wasted all this reflective holiday thinking time, either. I've realized a lot of good, and I am writing it here in lieu of a handwritten birthday letter. I'm only two days late.

Little D's Best Features, Age 1, According to Mom


  1. Dancing feet. They start kicking at the slightest jingle, and he has started to do this funky wave with his right hand when he's really grooving. I think maybe he'll be friends with Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel's firstborn child, which would give him the chance to cultivate both his moves and his popularity.
  2. Greetings. Do you know someone who is just GREAT at saying hello? I do. My baby, he's the best. When you walk in the room, even if it's only been five minutes, he turns and looks you in the eye, and waves both hands and says, Heyyyy! Everyone should be greeted so warmly. It makes you feel like a million dollars.
  3. Night-snuggling. It's true that he still wakes up nearly every night at 4 a.m., but when someone that squishy, who smells that good, wants to snuggle in the night, you don't turn him away. You keep him in your bed until the alarm goes off, and you give up approximately 1.5 million hours of deep sleep for dozing next to him. 
  4. Eating. We had a rough start when it came to eating, didn't we? But despite the naysayers, my baby 1) can identify me as his own mama (bonded!), 2) has yet to get an ear infection or need antibiotics...at all, and 3) is not obese. So I'd say the bottles turned out just fine, despite the lactation lady who leaned toward the can of formula on our counter that February morning and whispered, "You don't know what's in that stuff." Now this little guy chows on avocados, minestrone, fish tacos (oh my gawsh, how he loves the fish), and the occasional stray Cheerio. He loves to eat at restaurants, where he can fling his food and make new friends at the same time. 
  5. Zip/Pep. His gaze can be quite steely when he's thinking hard, but on the whole, our little man is a lightning bolt. He is ZIP and he is PEP, and sometimes he's both at the same time. BOOM goes the lamp, over. WHIZZ goes the barstool as he pushes it across the room. CRASH goes the empty bottle, launched across the room once no longer useful to him. We know he's awake in the morning when we hear pacifiers hitting our shared wall. He takes his collection and throws each "baba" as hard as he can--let's GO, people! 
So we go! We are off and running, still sleepy, still not entirely sure what we are doing, into the second year of life as a mighty trio. But because he smells so good, and says hello so sweetly, and since I find him remarkably likable even when the beans land in my hair, I know we are going to be just fine.






Monday, November 5, 2012

SNL for Life

I'm sorry, but I don't know how Saturday Night Live survived before Hulu. People who can stay up that late are usually out doing sexier things than tv watching, and the rest of us couldn't paperclip our eyelids open at that hour, not for a million laughs.

The good news is that SNL somehow did survive before Hulu (simpler times!), and now we get to enjoy the highlights clip by glorious clip. Election season brings out the best in comedians, I think, so I'm sharing my favorite sketch yet to keep you sane these last 24 hours. Enjoy it, and don't forget to vote the way you want to be treated!


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Making Mental Illness Old News

Two and a half years ago I wrote a post in honor of my brother, who lives every day with a mental illness called schizophrenia. I am so proud, so thankful, to tell you that he is still doing well and living a full and productive life. His symptoms are not gone, but he manages them with incredible maturity and gentleness, even in moments when they nearly knock him flat.

This Saturday, I will join my friends from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), to walk along the shores of Lake Washington in celebration of stories like my brother's. In celebration of recovery, of small victories that come in a finally-perfectly-dosed medication, a therapist who answered the phone at just the right moment, of a community that believes that people can not just survive mental illness, but miraculously, thrive in its midst, and in celebration of progress toward the day when mental illness will be old news. And we will walk in face of the suffering, too. The relentless paranoia, the bone-crushing depression, the whirling, swirling thoughts that threaten to steal all the good days away.

About a year ago, we had a big ultrasound visit during my sixth month of pregnancy, and I burst into tears when our baby's tiny brain flickered across the grainy screen, all the little blotches adding up to a new life. I remember praying fierce prayers, "God, keep this baby's brain healthy!" It was the first moment I felt like a mom--longing so much to be able to protect my kid from sucker punches like mental illness. That ultrasound reminded me that mental illness is a part of my family's story, which means it will be part of my son's story too. It made me want to stand up and fight.

I know I'm bit of a fundraising machine these days--and I know there are a lot of great causes to pick from, which is a good problem to have. Mental illness is not a sexy cause. It can ravage relationships and threaten to destroy a young person's best years...or an old person's final years. It can be very, very ugly. But if you can reach into your pockets, I will reach into mine, and together we can support the work of an organization dedicated to caring for people in their most vulnerable moments. NAMI offered practical tools and emotional support for my family in an overwhelming season of life, and I know NAMI will be at the ready for families like mine for years to come.

Please visit my fundraising page if you'd like to contribute, and thanks for believing in the hope that one day mental illness will be old news!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Stinker

Our tiny tot is growing up, and he's getting sassy. Sigh...

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Rock Chalk

Labor Day weekend meant a chance to hop on a plane to the land of sunflowers, college basketball, and wide, wide open spaces: Kansas! Baby and I traveled to visit my sweet cousin and her brood of small, deliciously dumpling-esque children (three plus one dumpling on the way) and to see my mom, who trekked over from her own wide open space in Nebraska.

Let me pause to tell you a fact. There is no more hopping on planes when you have a 22 pound baby in tow. There are legion blogs on "traveling with kids made easy," and "how to travel and ensure the whole world appreciates your parenting style," and my favorite, "traveling with kids on a budget." This is all bogus. It's not easy, it will always be harder than traveling without kids. Period. And the world isn't going to like it when your kids freak out in public, no matter what your parenting style is. And when you have kids, you already spend gobs on money on them at home, so you may as well buy them that bag of goldfish for $6.00 in the airport bookstore.

But on this "hop" on a plane, redemption came in the form of a very liquored-up businessman across the aisle. The baby had been screaming for a while, a whiiiiile, if you know what I mean, and when he paused to gather himself for the next round of screaming, said liquor-lover looked at him and slurred, "Heyyyy." And from my lips to God's ears, Duncan slurred back, "Heyyyy." And the whole plane erupted, partly in celebration that the screaming had ceased, partly because my baby's first words were clearer than the drunk man's.

Anyway, we made it to Kansas. We ate and played and played and ate. I picked up a turtle on the side of the country road, using a Target bag as a very clever glove, but then the turtle uncurled his claw-toes around my finger and the turtle went flying. Baby D met his first llama. And his first sheep. And his first pony named Arctic.

Baby D charmed his Uncle Tim, who will teach him to Eat Beef.

Cousins practiced taking good care of each other.

The most precious little girl on the prairie...

And her feisty, magnetic little sister with Owen Wilson hair. 

The lovefest between Iny and Baby continues.

Sleep is not for the weak. Sleep is for the giant babies who wear their mothers out.

Grandma Pam-ma and her little darlings nearly collapsed the porch swing.



And the grand finale was a hearty lunch at Abuelo's before the long trek home.


We talked about the hard parts of motherhood, childhood, nitty gritty friendships, how much we miss our Grandpa John, and how we wished we all lived closer. And we laughed at our kids' shenanigans and talked about the next time we could all be together. Because it's never enough!


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Late Summer Currents

Current music: I am listening to books on tape these days as a means to suffer through my commute. (Oh, I got a new job. And it's kind of far away.) It's actually become one of the best parts of my day, and my only quandary is whether or not I'll be allowed to say, "I read that!" when I really only listened to it. Does it count?


Current wishlist: More time in my day with Darling Donut. Maggie Mason posted an article about how we are asking the wrong question when we ask, "Can I have it all?" We should be asking, "Do I have enough?" And I 100% have enough of everything...except time with my kid. I lovelovelove working, quenching bits of my mind and spirit that aren't quenched by motherhood, but working 40 hours is a real drag when it means missing the tot so much. There's nothing to do but to savor my moments with him with more intention.



Current food: Well, if we had had more of a summer, I would be saying GAZPACHO. Except nobody has tomatoes yet! The injustice!!! We are eating lots of hummus, because when I'm gone all day, I'm less excited about cooking for two hours at night than letting the baby blow raspberries on my cheeks. I will say that we did an experiment last week where we refrained from all refined sugar--and we were pretty strict about it, ketchup and everything--and I felt so empowered, disciplined, and energized. And hey, I lost four pounds. I also made a strata because my friend Britt swears by it, and now I will too. Yum.

Current TV show
: We watched the teaser pilot for The Newsroom on YouTube, and now it's all I can think about (when it comes to tv shows, at least). I am tempted to sign up for HBO, except then we'd have to huddle together to keep warm at night and haul water from the drinking fountain at the park. 

Current location: My new desk. I am spending a lot of time here--full time, they call it. It's a great fit for my skills and will mean tons of learning about nonprofit development work, volunteer management, communication and marketing, AND I get to plan interesting events. As hard as it is to leave my old gig, this is my new frontier and I am embracing it.

Current book: The Marriage Plot. Except, I am having the dilemma already! Can I say I read it? I just listened to it. And mercy, it was good. I've never listened to a book before, and there were parts of this one that leaned toward what-is-he-even-talking-about, but since I was a captive audience, so to speak, I just kept going. I wonder if I should try listening to some of the other classics I've never made it through. Would that make it easier for me to digest Henry James? Gulp.

Current indulgence: Gloating over my child. One friend recently claimed how he hated babies on Facebook long before it was cool to hate babies on Facebook, and it made me realize just how much I don't care if people are sick of my baby on Facebook. Or anywhere. I will never get sick of him, and if somebody wants to unsubscribe? Your loss, buddy. (I would clarify that I do get sick of crying, fatigue, the diaper thing--but I guess I mean I couldn't ever get sick of knowing him.)

Current worry: What if we mess up our kid? What if it's actually all nurture, no nature?

Current project: Researching stamped concrete and all the places it belongs in our yard. I am obsessed. I guess the other half of the stamped concrete obsession is my renewed interested in Pinterest. Part of me is like, "Hey! Let's all compare our houses and our cooking and our children and our bodies and our money and just pretend it's about INSPIRATION!" And part of me loves it so much. And is willing to battle the Jealous Demons that lurk in every Pin.

Current movie: We watched The Hunger Games last night, and even though I am way late to that party, both when I read the books and now reviewing the film (using that term loosely), I was disappointed. Part of the reason readers devoured the book without really being too bothered by the violence and gross twistedness is because the characters were straight up heroes. And the movie just missed the essence of the characters, for me. Wah wah.


Current obsession: Bringing the baby into bed with us when he wakes around 5 a.m. and then sniffing his hair until I have to face the day an hour later. It's like the best dream ever. Also, Chihuly. Out of control.




Tuesday, May 1, 2012

This new Blogger layout is a metaphor for my life.

Anyone else in a funk? I am in a funk. The crummy gray Seattle weather that prompts me to search for apartments in San Diego EVERY YEAR has me inside out this time. Between four months of sleep deprivation and just, all of it, I am also searching for vacation rentals in Maui every chance I get. I have no vacation time left, no money, no desire to bring a restless babe on an airplane, but I could sure use a nap in a hammock while intravenously enjoying a Mojito (Get it? I could sleep and also enjoy the mint).

I know I should buck up and be grateful the tot is sleeping so much (he lasts from 8pm-4am, most nights), but the problem is that all this transition is keeping me awake. So I am going to bed at the junior high hour of 9:45, and once we're awake again at 4am, I stay awake. The men of the house snore for three more hours. It's brutal.

Lately my favorite bloggers have been the ones who don't seem to worry about whether or not they're writing to impress their audience with much narrative rhythm. Or grammar. Or content beyond the mundane stuff of life. Their lives have rhythm enough, so I'm putting it out there right now: I have not yet found my rhythm, I am writing about it without any standard of editing or high content value, and I'm giving myself credit anyway.

Keep on trucking, right?