Thursday, December 22, 2011

It Isn't Christmas Without Cowboys and Barbeque

The two-year-old: Airpane.

Me: That's right! We're going on an airplane today. Do you remember who we're going to go see?

The two-year-old: Pop and Nana!

Me: Yep. And where are we going to see them?

The two-year-old: Texas!

Me: And what do we say when we go to Texas?

The two-year-old: YE-HAW!

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Drink Your Gin-and-Tonukkah

Last night, as you may well know, was the first night of Chanukkah. My husband is mostly Jewish. I, on the other hand, do not even know how to spell Hanukah. (In my defense, it’s never spelled the same way twice. Can’t they standardize that sucker?)

For whatever reason, my husband celebrated secular Christmas growing up as well as Chanukah, and here in Seattle where there isn’t a super active Jewish culture, he downplays his Judaism. I’m the one out buying apples and honey on Rosh Hashanah, the one securing us a Seder invite on Passover, the one making sure the turkey is kosher and the candles have been purchased for the menorah.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Not Quite What I Expected From Target

I was standing in line at customer service at a certain big-box store yesterday returning the 17th maternity coat I've ordered online that hasn't even come close to fitting, when I caught this adorable preschool-age girl staring knowingly at my (uncovered-by-anything-so-bulky-as-a-coat) belly.

"You know what's in there, don't you?" I smiled.

She nodded and pointed at the infant in the shopping cart next to her and said, "We have a baby, too! Her name is Brooklyn."

Having named my favorite childhood doll Baby Chicago, I was instantly enchanted. "What a pretty name! What's yours?"

"Kennedy."

I told her that's one of my very favorite names (which Dr. Husband would be hard pressed to use for our child and therefore I can share with you here), and she turned to her mom and said, "She is SO sweet."

It was like one of my great-aunts had come back to life in the form of a chatty three-year-old.

It made my day, and then the day got made again when I heard her mom saying to her as I left, "But remember, we don't ASK people if they have babies growing inside them, right?"

And Kennedy was all, "But why?"

But why, indeed. It beats telling someone they look like a "regular American."


photo courtesy imelenchon, morgueFile

Monday, December 19, 2011

My Child's Future Career in Advertising

When asked if she needs a clean diaper, the two-year-old says one of two things: "Noooooooooo." Or: "Clean AND fresh AND new."

When I asked her today if something was yummy, she said, "AND fresh and new."

I'm pretty sure she's working on an accompanying jingle, too.

Friday, December 16, 2011

My Highly Specialized Self-Given Assignment for the Day:

Locate and download every "Chrismukkah" episode of the O.C. and binge like mad. Who needs Zoloft when you've got a really bright lamp and a four hours of Rachel Bilson singing the dreidel song with reindeer antlers on her head?*

*This is a metaphor. Or maybe just a figure of speech. Or a creative use of language. In any case, not literal—lest you download them yourself and get disappointed. 

photo courtesy kakisky, morgueFile

Thursday, December 15, 2011

How to Apply Eyeliner (But Not Really)

I know, Santa, it’s not the time of year to be bad-mouthing other writers (an activity best saved for late January), but this particular issue has been dogging me for a while. (Long before Babble unveiled its list of top 100 Mom Bloggers and none of the people I like to read the most are on it. (I learned of said list after writing the bulk of this post, in fact, so you cannot accuse me of sour grapes—at least not with any accuracy—though I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to be NUMBER ONE in all aspects of life. Especially the ones I’ve never even tried—like professional golf.)) This isn’t a specific dig on any one writer. It’s just that so few so-called Mommy Bloggers seem to be truly honest about the gritty, messy parts of parenting and even more so the messy parts of marriage (perhaps because our spouses and their co-workers are more likely to read our posts than our children and their peers?).

Friday, December 09, 2011

The War on Drugs

Not me...Yet...
I was at a certain home furnishings/picture frame/giant candle store the other day and saw a slender, well-coiffed woman who was looking decidedly pregnant and the teensiest bit nervous. I showed her my belly (clothing on), and we did the "simultaneously pregnant" chatting thing for a bit—When are you due? Is this your first? Boy or girl?—when I decided to drop the bomb:

"The whole childbirth thing isn't actually that bad."

"Oh, thank god!" she said, visibly relieved. "That's so great to hear. I'm doing natural childbirth, so that's really great to know!"

I wanted to say, "No, I meant the epidural makes it not that bad," but I decided to let her believe what she wants. Who knows. Maybe unmedicated childbirth isn't that bad, either. I kind of hope to never have to know.

photo courtesy grietgriet, morgueFile

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Not Quite What I Expected From an Obstetrician

I love my OB. LOVE HER. I loved her even before she donned her hazmat suit and full-on plexiglass face shield (Things They Don’t Tell You About Pregnancy #157, 983) and delivered my first baby and then sewed me up as good as new—so good, in fact, that the nurse practitioner who removed my IUD declared that it looked like I’d never had a baby—which is, of course, the nicest compliment you can give a post-partum vagina.


Friday, December 02, 2011

The Circle of Life

I had my third—and if all keeps going well—final ultrasound yesterday, and I managed not to peek and find out the sex of the baby. Even more so than last time, I've really been enjoying not knowing—though both times I've had a moment or two of wanting to cave. It's not that hard not finding out—except when a total stranger in-the-form-of-an-ultrasound-technician is sitting in the room with you looking at images of your baby's crotch and knowing.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Bingle Balls and Whofoo Fluff

It appears to be December here in Seattle, and I know this not because my calendar (and computer and phone and child's preschool) tell me it is but because the sun is now rising at approximately 8:45am* and setting around noon**.

Never have I wanted quite so badly to string holiday lights ALL OVER THE HOUSE AND YARD, creating a spectacle rivaling those of the '80s West Texas yards of my grandparents' friends and neighbors—giant plastic illuminated reindeer and snowmen and Nativity scenes featuring the three Wise Men and Santa peering at the baby Jesus. Awesome stuff that was. Sheer ridiculous gaudy splendor. Seattle tends to be a bit more... understated. And energy conscious. And did I mention DARK?!

*Technically 7:37am.
** Technically 4:20pm.

photo courtesy paulabflat, morgueFile

Monday, November 21, 2011

Feeling Blue

So, the baby—er, the two-year-old—is now two, the bun in the oven is 9/20ths baked (this week’s photo coming soon), my nausea has largely waned, the blessedly uncommercialized holiday known as Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and still I am in a foul (I cannot tell you how badly I wanted to write “fowl”) mood. I’m not sure whether it’s pregnancy hormones, too little sunlight, too little quality Adult Time with my mate, or too much recent and impending Family Togetherness (parents and in-laws and siblings, oh my!), but whatever the cause, the effect is this: I don’t want to write, I don’t want to cook, I don’t want to prepare for the class I’ll be teaching in a little over a month, I definitely don’t want to rake the yard, and lord knows I don’t want to clean the house, though lord also knows I do want the house to be magically clean. All I really want to do is lie on the couch and watch TV shows featuring Rachel Bilson, though I know from experience that will make me feel worse, so I don’t really even want to do that.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Bye, bye, baby!

My baby turns two tomorrow. Two! TWO YEARS OLD!

I have not found a single soft-focus pregnancy cliche to be accurate—okay, it is pretty cool to feel the baby kick, AND I suppose giving birth was pretty rad, too, what with the epidural and all, but I clearly  am not a "pregnancy is a glorious, glowing time" kind of girl.

Sappy Hallmarky sentiments about parenting are another matter, however. The years really do fly by! You really do have to cherish every moment! They honestly do grow up so damn fast!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Seventeen Weeks—Again!

Remember how when I went in for my 12-week ultrasound, I found out I was actually 13 weeks pregnant? Remember how it was the best news a pregnant lady could hear (other than “Your baby is a healthy, amazing specimen,” of course)?

I found out at my 17 week doctor’s visit last week that I was actually only 16 weeks. The 12-week ultrasound is apparently notorious for adding an extra five days or so to the wee one’s age, which I sort of knew from browsing the information superhighway but was sort of in denial of.

So: here I am at seventeen weeks and two days. Again.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Leaf Me Alone

I feel much the same way about raking leaves as I do about grocery shopping—I dread it, I avoid it, I think that I hate it, but when I’m actually doing it it’s pretty fun, and afterwards it’s gratifying—especially if I’ve gotten to shop somewhere loaded with organic produce and short on crazy junk food. (Don’t get me wrong, I do love me some crazy junk food, I just don’t like to be bombarded by it—or by the cartoony mega-corporate packaging or loud overhead muzak associated with it. My ideal grocery store would carry all organic, fresh, local everything—plus Quaker Oat Squares, Wheaties, cinnamon Pop Tarts, Tostitos brand corn chips, and the occasional block of Velveeta with which to make cheese dip. Oh, also Kit-Kats, Coca-Cola, and Budweiser.)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

For the Love of Toast

It's been a while, I know, and I promise I will attempt to write something thoughtful and coherent and interesting(ish) soon.

In the meantime, I have a question for you: can anyone out there recommend A TOASTER? Nothing fancy, nothing special (i.e. no egg poaching compartment(!?) required), just a toaster that TOASTS. A toaster that reliably makes evenly toasted toasty toast without crazy bipolar mood swings that lead to pale, floppy bread some days and burned smoking ash other days?

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Seventeen Weeks


Seventeen weeks (and two days). It’s gotten to the point where when people cheerfully declare, “Oh, you don’t look pregnant!” I’m offended. You think my body is just shaped like that? You think those Pop-Tarts you just saw me eat went right to my lower belly?

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Going the Distance...

We’re heading to visit my folks in Iowa for an extended weekend, and since I’m not taking my computer with me and do not possesses the know-how (or patience or tiny fingers) to use my phone to post entries, you might not hear from me for a bit. I promise I’ll do what I can. In the meantime, I leave you with this to remember me by:
Because if you imagine the cosmos are corn stalks, this is more or less what Iowa looks like and what we will look like in it, overalls and all.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Sixteen Weeks

Here I am at sixteen weeks and one day—not that anyone's counting. The baby is 2/5ths cooked, which annoyingly feels like less than last week's 3/8ths. Damn you fractions and your tricky ways!

Monday, October 31, 2011

I Am Svetlana, Hear Me Roar/Meow!

According to one of the informational post-it notes on the “curriculum board” at my daughter’s preschool, one of the lessons they’ve been teaching recently is “Halloween costumes and decorations aren’t scary.”

I get where they’re coming from—two-year-olds are scared of the vacuum cleaner and the “crumbs” in the bathtub, the last thing we need to add is ghosts and witches and people dressed up like Rick Perry to the house of frights. But at the same time, really? Isn’t Halloween supposed to be a little scary? Like, pretend scary that we’re actually in control of?

I myself find Halloween terrifying. All that pressure!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Domestic Bliss

Not my cat. But it looks like me, yes?
I know you all must be absolutely RIVETED by the storyline of the cat puke. Will she or won't she be able to get that mess out of that chair?!? Stay tuned!

So I give you this:

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Feeling Bratty

The good news is that I almost certainly didn’t contract listeriosis or some other horrible, food-borne, fetus-hating bacteria yesterday. The bad news is that I did come down with some sort of gastrointestinal virus on top of my still-extant pregnancy nausea and barfing.

When I called my OB for confirmation that my symptoms were likely viral (i.e. not from eating deadly turkey sandwiches) the triage nurse assured me that something nasty is “going around.” And as the mother of a preschool-going toddler and an emergency-room-working husband, I have ample opportunity for exposure.

I won’t go into detail, but...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Parenthood Has Eaten My Brain

In my continuous Googling of warm, sunny places (an activity that usually doesn't become unavoidable until January but after our unseasonably grey summer has become necessary now even though, for the record, I prefer cool, somewhat overcast weather, even I have my limit of how low my vitamin D can dip before I go insane), I learned that Elmo lives at an all-inclusive Jamaican resort!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Way to Glow

Thank you, lovely women, for sharing your bad hair days with me last week. You cheered me right up, and I intend to reread your comments every time I start to feel a little awkward and frumpy and middle-school—that is to say, every day for the foreseeable future.

Because I was giving a public reading that night, I had a vested interest in being not terrible to look at AND not having the self-confidence of a hamster. I nervously took myself shopping—not for maternity clothes, which were sure to make me feel frumpy but for regular clothes, which is still a dicey proposition for someone (this someone) with a fifteen week belly. I searched for the perfect drapey top, to no avail. The perfect stretchy skirt? No dice. The perfect uterus-obscuring dress? No.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Fifteen Weeks

This is what 3/8ths of a baby looks like, friends. Well, 3/8ths of a baby plus a whole lot of cereal. (Though it looks sunny there beyond that tree, don't be fooled. That's just some sort of weird Seattle trick of the light. It's actually quite chilly and pouring rain. I can't stop Googling the Bahamas...)

On Saturday I managed to go three whole hours without eating (or barfing from not eating (one of the many beautiful paradoxes of pregnancy), which was really convenient as it allowed me to get a bunch of errands done without having to stop and feed the fetus all the freaking time, and I thought maybe I was out of the woods with the whole nausea/barfing thing, given that I am IN MY SECOND TRIMESTER and all—but no. Not quite. It was just a blip. A heavenly day of feeling okay. I look forward to more of them soon. Right, pregnancy gods? Soon?


Thursday, October 20, 2011

EXACTLY What I Expected This Pregnancy to Be Like

I know pregnancy is supposed to be a time of supreme glowing joy, one's entire self feeling radiant from the miracle of life growing within, but I have to ask: did anyone else out there who's ever been pregnant sometimes just feel gross? Aside from the nausea and barfing and constipation and acne and sore uterus-stabilizing muscles, I mean. Did you ever have a day where your clothes fit wrong and your hair looked wrong and your your face felt wrong? Even if you've never been pregnant and have ever felt this way (i.e., if you're a woman), I want—need, even—to hear about it. Please. Click and tell below.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Happy Pregnancy Smell #1

I took a walk around my neighborhood this crisp, fine autumn morning, and the air smelled inexplicably like doughnuts. Fried, sugary morsels of deliciousness. I wanted to eat the air.

In other scent-related news, my friend nosy girl is giving away a novel by her fancy National Book Award finalist friend Jesmyn Ward and a pot of body pudding (whatever that is) here. Mmmm... pudding.

My Other Day Job

Not my silhouette...
My postings are going to be a bit spare this week, as I'm preparing for this reading on Thursday night. If you live in or near Seattle, please come and say hello. (Hugo House on Capitol Hill, 7pm.) The event is free and the venue has a bar and a creative drink menu.

My essay involves bitching about strollers and invokes the word "vulva" at least once—my self-imposed required minimum for public performances.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What a Card

I've officially rejoined the world of the Important and the Technologically Savvy.

My practically free business/mommy/calling cards arrived in the mail.



Check out that QR-code! It even works! (And I know what it's called!)

Now I can, like, go to fancy dinners and get my meals paid for and charge the taxi home to "the account," right? Hello? Boss? Employer? Yoo-hoo!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Fourteen Weeks

I was in the shower today and looked down and realized I couldn't see much of my feet (already!) and thought I'm not going to get much bigger than THIS, right? Hah hah hahahahhahaahahwaaaaaaaaaaaa!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Not Quite What I Expected When I Bought a New Fridge

Maybe not the tastiest advertisement?
So, a month or so ago, we got a new refrigerator. Our old, ugly, inefficient, eighties-"almond"-colored one (with wood veneer handles!) had a crappy, non-sealing seal that kept it from closing properly, and after too many nights being left open partway and too many green onions left languishing by my thrifty husband, the thing stank so bad that opening it literally made me puke.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Due

Who invented the concept of due dates? Who’s ever born on their due date? Almost no one, that’s who. (Our friend Mr. Internet tells me 90–95% of women don't deliver on their due date. Am I still bitter than my first baby came out 10 days late? Hell, yes.) A friend of mine went into labor on her due date and was completely convinced it was false labor because she, like me, knew that no one delivers on their due date. Due dates are notoriously fuzzy anyway since menstrual cycles shift and ovaries sometimes have a mind of their own, particularly as you get older. God knows if you’ve had a baby in the semi-recent past, your cycle is hardly regular. For the months leading up to this pregnancy, my cycle was 22 days, then 29, then 27, 26, 22, 31, 24, and 30 (not that I was keeping track or anything). And though I got my period on July 16, I spotted on the 13th—so, really? We’re going to put that information together and say with any kind of certainty whatsoever that my baby is due to be born on April 21st, 2012?

Here’s my idea: how about delivery windows?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Thirteen Weeks!

I just had my second ultrasound and aside from the less-than glam moment of the sonographer not being able to find my ovaries because of “matter in my bowels” (so glad my husband was there for that), the experience was a treat, and I’m bursting with good news:

The best news first: the sonographer pronounced me to be 13 weeks pregnant instead of 12!

Me at thirteen weeks:

Monday, October 10, 2011

Twelve Weeks


Apparently, this is the point when normal people tell their friends and families (and blog readers?) that they are pregnant, rather than, like, five minutes after conception. Seems kinda hard to hide. I mean, aside from the barfing, there's that belly. I mean, man, Wilson's been eating a LOT of cereal—and it all seems to be hanging out in her uterus.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Achy, Breaky Head

Just in case anyone reading this blog somehow wasn't paying any attention at all and got the impression that I like—or even gracefully tolerate—being pregnant, I will say this: BEING PREGNANT SUCKS.

Sure, I’m not as desperately nauseous this time as last—in part because I no longer question the approach of eating constantly (who cares that most women don’t gain much weight during their first trimester—it will come off eventually…maybe), and I have a well-honed sense of exactly when to pop an anti-barfing drug so that I seldom barf anymore. (Only a pregnant person—or a bulimic one, I suppose—would consider barfing 3-4 times a week not that often.) The problem I’m having today (BEING PREGNANT SUCKS) is the migraine sucking away at the inside of my sinuses and my well-being.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Apples

When Dr. Husband told me last night that Steve Jobs had died, I found myself surprisingly sad. For his part, he said he didn’t feel sad so much as a sense of loss—like if Thomas Edison died. (He’s still around, right?) Loss, sadness—it’s kind of the same thing, isn’t it? After sleeping on it I realized that I was feeling a sense of loss/sadness not so much over Steve Jobs, who I didn’t know at all and could not have picked out of a police lineup, but over the loss to—and possibly of—Apple. I mean, think about it. Imagine that yesterday Apple died—all of Apple. The ugly, unwieldy-in-retrospect Apple II your parents bought in the eighties, the cute Mac that got you through a zillion high school and college papers, your sleak, sexy i-Mac that you quickly replaced with your first MacBook laptop, your lovely MacBook Pro, your beautiful iPod, your beautiful tiny newer iPod, your shockingly compelling iPhone—all of it GONE. Poof. Vanished. Snatched from your hands while you weren’t paying attention.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Calling All Cards!

As I was dropping off my daughter at preschool, one of the other moms—one who remembers everyone else’s name and is always stylishly dressed—even 48 hours after nearly dying following a, um, challenging C-section—asked me if I wanted to join her for coffee soon. Eager for new local mom friends (especially one who might also loathe maternity clothes), I figured I’d wait a bit before revealing myself to be one of those annoying (especially in Seattle) pregnant women who can’t go anywhere near a coffee shop.

“Here,” she said, handing me a small rectangular piece of cardstock with her name and contact information on it.

How ingenious, I thought.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

If the fried chicken doesn't get you

Don't mind me. I'm just sitting here trying to get some work done (namely writing an essay for this reading I'm giving on October 20 (how did it get to be October already?/thank God it's October already, which is that much closer to my mid/late April due date) while simultaneously Googling "how likely am I to miscarry if I eat a few slices of deli meat"?

Monday, October 03, 2011

Eleven weeks down, 29 (or so) to go (Ack!)


Here I am in one of my new soft, cozy dresses (a.k.a. "What I will be wearing every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday or Sunday for the next 29–31 weeks"). Aren't the horizontal stripes genius? Upon closer inspection, I guess that's probably not just cereal in there. I forgive you, dry-cleaning lady.

Tacky khakis

Okay, I know I’m not remotely original in saying what I’m about to, but: I hate maternity clothes.

I know, I know, everyone hates maternity clothes. The cheapo flammable material, the “panels” (really: tubes) of panty-hose-like nylon covering your belly, the ubiquitous empire waist—which only looks good on young girls and women with extremely subtle cleavage. What is there to like? And who wants to spend actual money on temporary clothing—especially temporary clothing that definitely makes you look fat?

I saved all my horrid maternity clothing from the last time around in a giant Rubbermaid bin in the attic, not at all sure until pretty recently that I’d ever have use for any of it again. For the majority of time since my daughter’s birth, I was about as interested in having another baby as I was in trying out for that reality TV show where people whack each other into pools of water with giant Nerf bats.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

For the love of blog

Because I am no technological whiz, I just discovered that there's a website (there's probably more than one! Probably zillions!) that keeps track of the blogs you read all in one place. You can see at a glance which blogs have new posts rather than clicking on every single one individually to see whether their author is more or less lazy than you! Genius. They even make it look all nice and professional. Amazing. Follow my blog with Bloglovin, if you're feeling sassy. (I hear there's a corresponding app, too. What will they think of next? I mean, really, what?)

Addendum: Just realized I can accomplish much of this right on this blog under "Other Peoples' Stuff". Wonders never ceasing around here.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Arrrooooooooo!

I took the baby to a consignment store today to shop for shoes (damn they go through those things quickly) and some new puzzles (ditto the damn) and some long-sleeved shirts which shouldn't be that hard to find but for some strange reason are (???). We came away with all the necessary items PLUS this gem for the new baby (because second-born children need a toy or two of their own (said the second-born child)):

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Heaven in a cup

Today's pregnancy-enhanced culinary experience: Fran's Hot Chocolate—like drinking warm ganache. Or manna straight from heaven. Same difference, no?
photo courtesy onceuponachocolate.blogspot.com

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Happy (Jewish) New Year!

Today I was going to give you, dear readers, a break. I was going to complain about something different from smells and food—say, the downfall of true investigative reporting—but then this happened: I went to a bakery to work while the sitter watched the baby (the one ex-utero) and gradually as I sat there minding my own, a horrid, rancid, oniony stank infused my clothing and hair and skin. Once I realized what was happening, I left, but the damage had been done. Added to yesterday’s list of smells that make me lose my shit is: Me. My entire self.

News item

I guess I underestimated the threat of hard-to-detect gas leaks in yesterday's post. Oops.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

National Olfactory Awareness Day

You know how I said yesterday that I wasn’t really sure why I hadn’t written in over ten days? I think I’ve figured it out. All I can think (and write) about these days (weeks) is food and smells and the smells of foods and the tastes of smells and all sorts of other taste-and-olfactory complainy obsessiveness that CANNOT BE INTERESTING to read about.

Do I care that someone on Facebook had cereal for dinner? I do not. Do you care that some blogger had pasta with lemony tomato sauce for lunch? Surely you do not. Bless you for reading anyway because, unfortunately, for now it’s all I’ve got.

Monday, September 26, 2011

A friendly game of quarters

Sorry for the absence, everyone! All is well with me and Dr. Husband and Baby #1 and Baby-#2-in-the-making. I hadn’t intended to be gone from here for so long and certainly hadn’t intended to cause anyone any concern. In fact, I hadn’t fully realized just how long it had been until a kind reader wrote me to see what the deal was. (Thanks for the nudge, KF!) I have no real excuse—it just sort of…happened. A sick babysitter one day, an urgent need to shop for a dress that’s flattering to my 10-weeks-pregnant constant-cereal-eating-stomach to wear to a wedding-like event this past weekend, a few days of travel, a head-cold, a two-day-migraine, a visiting in-law, plus the standard pregnancy exhaustion—and here I am, nearly two weeks later and unable to remember how to write.

These are…letters? And they make…words?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Babbling

A piece I wrote a few weeks ago appears in new and improved form here on Babble. (Incidentally, I don't think my child is average. She's above average, just like every other child on the planet. Also, the photo on Babble is not my child. My child is WAY cuter than that, naturally. And my child is a girl, not a boy dressed in gender-neutralish (but upon closer inspection definitely boy's) clothing.)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

For the love of the snack pack

Please excuse me—and my blog—for being a bit obsessed with food lately. What with the constant fatigue and nausea, it's sort of all I can wrap my brain around these days. The constant needing to eat but being grossed out by the thought of most foods but really needing to eat now is shockingly consuming, as it were. (Even doing laundry has proven too daunting to tackle—which means that when I do tackle that shit, it will take four or five consecutive days to get it all done by which point, as any mom knows, it will be well past time to do it again.)

Today my "new" food "discovery" was fried chicken and baked beans and a nice, fluffy, nutrient-free dinner roll from Oprah's favorite fried chicken joint--which, yes, is located in Seattle. I never liked fried chicken—I don't like the taste of the breaded stuff—until I tried Ezell's. It's crispy and spicy and doesn't taste like a vat of old oil. And it smells like heaven—even (especially?)—to a pregnant lady. Last time around, I either hadn't tried the chicken yet or was scared of it exacerbating my pregnancy-induced indigestion issues, but I'd stop by for beans—the only baked beans I've ever liked—and rolls and just to bask in the delicious scent of a happy Oprah. Today I went whole hog—er, poultry—and got some chicken, too. Oh. My. God. It was exactly the thing the tiny beast growing inside me wanted for lunch. He(*) was all, Yes! Finally! You get where I'm coming from!

The nice cashier explained that I would save money if instead of ordering my items individually I got a "Snack Pack" with beans in place of the french fries. I thanked her for the tip and began to step aside to wait for my food when she said, "Remember, hon. Next time you're here, tell them 'Snack Pack with beans.'" And I was all, Yes! Finally! Someone gets where I'm coming from! Of course I will be back—many times over. And bless you, purveyors of crazy-delicious fried food, for calling a meal that probably contains a billion calories a "snack pack." No wonder Oprah loves you!

In other news (sort of), I had my first prenatal check-up and ultrasound today, and everything's A-okay. Just one little critter in there (praise Jesus and the God of Single Births), with a strong, wildly apparent heartbeat and little arm buds that will be used to hit his big sister, like, tomorrow. (Or at least that's what I tell myself to make this gross trimester not seem so interminably looooooooooooong. I seem to recall the first "trimester" lasting about 18 weeks last time around... Nooooooooooooooooo... Just simply: no.)


*
Like last time, I'm assuming my offspring is a boy since that's what my husband's family tends to produce and since that's what everyone and their mother-in-law tells me I must be having since my nausea isn't as bad as last time when—surprise!—I had a girl. I may or may not find out the critter's sex down the road, but chances are I'll refer to him or her as a "him" in the meantime, if for no other reason than to save some precious finger strength. (Also, honestly, after having a girl—knowing how to have a girl—the idea of having a boy is a little daunting. So I like to begin the emotional preparations early. Also the practical ones—any tips on where to buy cute boy's clothing and such are much appreciated, even if I never have cause to put them to use!)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Usually I don't even *like* doughnuts

Recently I mentioned on this here blog something about how pregnancy for many of us isn’t so much about food cravings as food aversions. As in, you scramble an egg—aka a weapons-grade sulfur bomb—anywhere near my nose right now, and I will be forced to kill you—right after I finish throwing up.

Perhaps later in this pregnancy I will begin to delight in food, but for now—and for many, many, many weeks after now—I’m all about eating what I can stomach. And what my stomach can stomach.

Today that has meant: a bowl of Wheaties and Oat Squares for early breakfast, a custard-filled doughnut for late breakfast, a bagel with cream-cheese and a tomato slice for brunch, some mushroom tortellini for lunch, a chocolate-chip oatmeal cookie for an afternoon snack, and some sharp cheddar and Triscuits and Gatorade for snack #2. That brings us to 4pm. Not bad! I say. Not bad at all. I mean, there TOMATOES in there. And MUSHROOMS! And OATS!

I’ve heard that there are people out there who remain doughnut-free throughout their pregnancies. Today, for instance, I was just reading about this woman who would rather not take prenatal vitamins when she’s pregnant—she’d rather just EAT RIGHT. I have to think that this woman and other right-eaters like her are people who are not made to hurl by vast amounts of hormones coursing through their system.

I tell myself that come my second trimester I will eat protein smoothies and steamed kale and mounds of acorn squash—but if memory serves and if my other pregnancy is any indicator, when the nausea lifts, I will feel no more inclined to eat steamed greens than I do now. I will want pizza, I will eat pizza, and, blessedly, I will then reliably be able to hold down pizza.

The pizza and doughnuts and Gatorade isn’t about craving—it’s more like there’s ANOTHER PERSON LIVING INSIDE YOU, a small, picky child-person in charge of your eating habits. He or she might enjoy a tomato slice atop her bagel, but cut it up into a bowl and Eeew! Gross! Get that away from me! The smell is making me sick! It’s exhausting and demoralizing.

I was talking to a friend today—one with the good sense not to reproduce—and she was all, “Doughnut? Wha? You’re nauseated and you’re eating a doughnut?”

I tried to explain that it’s not like the stomach flu. In fact, the only thing—other than a few glorious prescription drugs—that can stop the barfing is eating. So you think about what sounds good, running through options in your head while trying not to think of anything that might make you feel queasier, and when you hit on something, ANYthing you can imagine holding down, you eat that.

And then you take a prenatal vitamin and start thinking about what you might like to eat next, before you’re too hungry and nauseated to think about anything other than Damn, when was the last time someone cleaned this toilet?

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Day After

So I wasn’t allowed to say anything about this before, but now that it’s September 12 and not September 10, I think it’s fine. It’s fine, Department of Homeland Security, right? Hellooooo? Ms. Napolitano?

My husband, for those of you who don’t know or remember, is an ER doctor—as in, he chose the specialty one chooses when one likes—or is at least adept at—removing knives from peoples’ skulls and even less savory items from even less savory places. He’s all about adventure and adrenaline and variety, so it was no big surprise when he told me he was on an urban search & rescue team. I figured it was some sort of hobby until I learned that it’s Urban Search & Rescue—capitalized and run by FEMA (run by Homeland Security)—and that he was shipped across the county to help look for people—or bodies—immediately after 9/11.

Every so often right after a large-scale disaster—tsunamis, hurricanes, the like—he gets a call letting him know that his group (unit? infantry? division?) is on high-alert. Meaning he has to pack a bag and be able to hightail it to the designated military base with only a moment’s notice. I guess it’s called “being deployed,” but I prefer to think of it as “driving quickly to catch a plane” since that sounds considerably less militaristic.

In the four years we’ve been together, he’s only been put on deployment alert twice—somewhat surprising when you think of all the natural disasters that have been running roughshod all over the country and world of late. But I guess there are plenty of Urban Search & Rescue people to go around—unless you’re talking about something on the scale of the World Trade Centers collapsing due to an apparent act of war.

One time a lady came by our house to fit him with a gas-mask, but usually his desire to throw himself into harm’s way in the name of being useful is not something I think or worry about. Urban Search & Rescue gives his work and his life extra meaning and purpose, and isn’t it my job as his mate to support him in that sort of thing? I mean, it’s not like he’s playing Dungeons & Dragons or collecting stamps or something truly dangerous—to our marriage.

But when he got put on deployment notice mid-day on Friday, it felt a little different. Nothing had happened yet—no hurrinami—just the “credible” threat of a terrorist attack in New York or DC on Sunday. It felt all-too-reminiscent of the early days after 9/11—not wanting to live in fear, but not wanting to go somewhere or do something stupid. And just generally walking around thinking “What the fuck?”

As he packed his gear into his blue duffel bag—the same one he’s taken on every trip we’ve ever made—he said casually, “I don’t think we should go to the Mariner’s game on Sunday.”

I cited the weather forecast and said I did not ever want to go to a baseball game when it was 90 degrees out—even if I weren’t first-trimester nauseous-pregnant.

He nodded and zipped his duffel and then we both tried to ignore it for the rest of the weekend as we prayed (in a totally atheist way) and hoped that nothing bad would happen again—and please, please, nothing so bad that it would require the assistance of someone from Seattle.

Of course, the terrorist attack warnings turned out to be hyper-over-preparedness of the U.S. government combined with a large dose of good ol’ fear mongering. But in a weird way it felt good to be on alert all day—like our family was connected in some tiny way to the grief and fear of New York and DC. Like 10 years of war and 6,204 soldiers dead maybe wasn’t for nothing. Like the war on terror is real. Like our family, too, would sacrifice everything if need be.

“Good thing I upped my life insurance policy,” my husband mentioned over a plate of cookies Saturday night. I just bugged my eyes out at him, like, You die, and I will kill you. Not just because I’m pregnant, borderline unemployable, and easily frustrated by the antics of our almost-two-year-old. No, because I love him. Even more than I love America.

{Note: This piece also appears here on Open Salon.}

Friday, September 09, 2011

A nerd is born

It’s been a big week around here. We told our families—and all of you strangers—about Baby #2 (even though it’s early still, now that I’m feeling shitty I’m not too fretful about things going wrong—knock on wood. Plus, if something were to go awry (bite tongue, then look into OCD diagnoses), I would want to be about to write about it here, so…).

Other big ticket items this week: the baby (#1) started preschool yesterday, I have an essay about teaching creative writing in this month’s issue of Teacher & Writer’s Magazine (an actual, honest-to-god print publication), and I just got a piece accepted to Babble. Also, we’re coming up on the 10th anniversary of September 11 (for those of you undergoing a media-and-calendar blackout), AND we’re getting a new refrigerator, AND we’re experiencing our first week of summer weather here in Seattle AND today is my half-birthday!

While I was laying awake last night at 2am trying to figure out if I was going to barf and therefore ought to get out of bed (I was and ought to and did), I tried to distract myself by figuring out how old I am. I’m old enough that I have to perform a subtraction equation to determine my age—isn’t that all you need to know?

The result of my late-night math: 36-and-a-half.

How the fuck did I end up in my late-mid thirties? And pregnant?! I’d always pictured myself as a young-ish mom—full of vim and vigor and eagerness to make cupcakes for the elementary school bake sale—which is hilarious, because I didn’t really start having sex with men until I was 27— already too old to be a young mom. Honestly, I still feel 27—in an abstract, out-of-body, age-of-my-innermost-spirit way. But in reality I am, in the grand history of the world, a pretty old mom. (In the grand history of the world, 27 would have been a pretty old mom.) In reality, I’m exhausted.

My husband was out of town for two days visiting one of his best friends (he is now “making up for it” by taking the baby to the zoo for two hours—for which I’m grateful but am also like, 2 hours is to 2 days what 2 pennies is to 2 million dollars.) and while he was gone, I was Just. So. Tired. Not sleepy-tired—more like the kind of tired you feel in your arms after you hold them over your head for way too long while you’re, say, French-braiding your hair after having had the flu for a week. Bone-tired, I believe it’s called. At the end of each day the baby took great delight in running away from me (and saying, adorably, “Get you!”) as I was trying to get her in her p.j.s, and instead of chasing after her and performing the line provided, I looked at her like I was going to lose my mind—or my dinner—and said in my worst mom voice, “For the love of god, please.” Not one of my shining moments—though it did do the trick. When teenagers get pregnant, are they tired like this, too?

And speaking of teenagers—my baby is just moments away from being one! She started preschool yesterday!

Sniff.

*Sniff.*

SOB!

She’s not even TWO and already I’m dropping her off at school with her lunch in hand, trying not to embarrass her by asking the teacher too many questions about the curriculum or talking too much about diaper rash.

I was worried about her being away from me and her dad and her beloved sitters and our house and, most importantly, Eliot her stuffed cat for FIVE WHOLE HOURS, but she was a total champ. She handed her lunchbox to the teacher like she’d done it a million times, stuck her backpack in her cubby, and busied herself with a basket full of wooden snakes. I, too, managed not to cry during our goodbye. I got into my car and drove out of sight, at which point I sobbed for a full five minutes. Then I went and bought a doughnut and came home to a strangely, beautifully quiet home and thought “I could get used to this.”

Then I remembered I’m pregnant and will not have peace and quiet at home for another two years starting in April. What were we thinking, exactly?

When I went to pick her up, the baby’s teacher reported that she was great all day and didn’t cry at all. Then I told her we had to leave, and she started to sob. “More!” she said. More what? “More schoo’!”

Back to Schoo'

The tossing of cookies

Just a little update: am no longer not barfing. Have not been not barfing for a few weeks now. Still, it’s not nearly as bad as last time around, in part because I now know to eat constantly, in part because I have a stash of drugs to take to stop the barfing once it starts, and in part because EVERY PREGNANCY IS, apparently, DIFFERENT! Why didn’t anyone tell me?

Word on the street is that I'm having a boy. Apparently boys are less nauseating than girls—until you start trying to date them.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

A bunch of Top Secret posts from the past three weeks

Okay. I sort of lied. I actually have been doing something as exciting as going on a proper vacation. I've been gestating. A baby. In my uterus.

That’s right. I’m PREGNANT. Again.

Nausea-inducing, barf-causing, varicose-vein-creating, labor-requiring, achy-making PREGNANT. Again.

Come late April, I'll have another BABY! And I will have to stop calling the first baby "The baby"!

I’m nearly eight weeks along, so I’m used to the idea by now, but if you’d care to hear about my thought- (and nausea-) process for the past three + weeks while we kept it a secret, read on.

Real-time posts shall recommence forthwith, now that the cat is out of the bag. Meow.

Please feel free (no, feel compelled) to leave a comment where it says “comments” below. Just don’t tell me to try ginger for my nausea. I’ve tried ginger. It’s disgusting. Much like pregnancy itself.


Copper and Sodium— Monday, August 15, 2011
This post is dated August 15 but isn’t being posted until today because—brace yourselves, people—I’m pregnant (!!!!!!!!!!!!) and didn’t want to tell everyone right away this time. And it seemed only fair that I tell my mother before I told Ye Olde Internet, so…

I actually got my IUD out back in June and was seriously bummed that I didn’t get pregnant RIGHT AWAY, even though my body was all, “Wait! Where’s that copper pipe? I miss it! I miss seriously cramping around it every month! Bring it baaaaaaack!” My body acted like my IUD was one of those annoying co-workers who prattles on about the weather and what kind of taco she’s going to get from Baja “Fresh” for lunch—and then one day she’s gone and you realize you spent so much energy growing to tolerate her that you sort of miss her. Which is to say, the cramping caused by the absence of the IUD was worse than any cramping caused by its presence.

But just as the longing for the annoying co-worker lasts like five minutes, the post-IUD cramping eventually ended. The very next month my body said, “Bring it!” and my husband’s body apparently said, “I’m all over that noise!” Neither body mentioned anything about the weather or Mexican chain food, and here I am, just over four weeks pregnant as of August 15 (which is nearly eight weeks now, for those of you not so strong on math or calendars).

Last time I was four weeks pregnant, I was arguing with my future mate about the flavor of our wedding cake. (White! The flavor had to be white!) It’s so nice to be pregnant and not be planning a wedding. Also, it’s so nice to be pregnant and not be barfing a bajillion times a day. I do not delude myself into thinking my lack of nausea is because this pregnancy will be easier, gastrointestinally speaking, than my last—I just think it’s because my nausea-making hormone levels have not yet reached “orange.” (An aside: though I’m in full support of the Department of Homeland Security revamping the terror alert system to one that’s less nonsensical, I will miss being able to write sentences like the previous and have people know what I’m talking about. I loved that our nations’ airports were in a constant, meaningless, inadvertently Dadaist state of “orange.”)

Even though my Pollyannaish husband accuses me of being a total pessimist, I’ve always considered myself (perhaps inappropriately) balanced in my positive-to-negative thinking ratio. The glass is both half full and half empty. I believe my people call themselves “realists,” but I also know that optimists—and Evangelicals—say that “realism” is just pessimism in sheep’s clothing. To which I say, Baaaa!

Every time I’ve expressed a reluctance to get pregnant a second time for fear of spending four months in a constant state of just-stepped-off-the-tilt-a-whirl-after-eating-nothing-but-funnel-cakes-and-cotton-candy and then another five months with the occasional tilt-a-whirl feeling plus the sharp, heavy, achy, agonizing pain of vulvular varicose veins, I have been told, “But every pregnancy is different!”

Likewise, every prison term is different depending on who serves it and where and when and with whom, but there are some undeniable constants. The flimsy mattress, the stinky urinal, the lumpy mashed potatoes. (See? I’m Pollyannaish, too! The worst thing I can imagine in prison is the dreadful food! Not the violence and violation and dehumanization, no!)

I want to smack each of these people for assuming they can predict my body’s reaction to the objectively nauseating experience of CREATING ANOTHER LIFE FORM. Instead I say, “Yeah, the second one could be worse than the first!” and ruin the cheerful, sunny person’s ENTIRE DAY with my dark, cynical, depressing cloud of gloom. And thus I am cheered.

It’s true, I could create a WHOLE SEPARATE LIFE FORM in my body and never toss my cookies this time around, but why not plan for the worst and be pleasantly surprised if it ends up not being that bad?

Hence my grocery list this week: Gatorade, saltines, dried apricots, sour candy, Zofran, stool softener, sturdy Ziploc baggies. If you’ve never been pregnant or are one of those annoying people for whom pregnancy so far has always been a non-queasy dream (remember, every pregnancy is different!), this list will make no sense. But if you’re one of those people for whom the mere words “first trimester” make you feel curvy-mountain-road carsick and the wildly misleading phrase “morning sickness” makes you want to poke someone’s eye out—just as soon as you’re finished throwing up in your mouth—you are my people. I salute you. I embrace you. I offer you some Zofran and if that doesn’t help, you can have one of my baggies.

I’m pregnant, people! Do you know what this means? One fine mid-spring day I might end up with a BABY. ANOTHER BABY!

Hormones — Thursday, August 18, 2011
At this point in my first pregnancy, I still hadn’t found out I was pregnant yet. I had some suspicions since my period was a week late, but since I hadn’t been trying to get pregnant (nor was I being particularly careful to not get pregnant, obviously), I wasn’t keeping that close a tab on things. It just seemed like I was probably due to start any day. Anway, since I didn’t know I was pregnant this early last time around, I shouldn’t really be comparing how I feel this time to how I felt last time, but I can’t help it.

I feel AMAZING! No barfing, no nausea, no nothing. I feel so great and normal that I have to keep taking a peak at the lines on the pregnancy stick to confirm that I really am in the family way.

That said, I do feel the tiniest bit weepy and nostalgic—the way you get watching a Super-8 film or one of those old Hallmark commercials. Just now the babysitter swung by in the cafĂ© where I’m doing work to pick up our family zoo pass. She was driving her family’s gigantic Suburban, and as they drove off to see the penguins, tears sprung to my eyes because the baby looked so tiny in that giant truck, plus she’d been crying because they’d forgotten (and then returned for) Eliot, plus she was having a little excema flare-up on her cheek, plus I’m pregnant, dammit! I’m allowed to cry just because my baby looks so small and cute and helpless and sort of stunned to find herself riding in a damn Suburban.

Milestones — Friday, August 19, 2011
Just when she’d started to master crawling quickly up the stairs, the baby has decided she’d prefer to walk up them holding onto the upside-down-heart-shaped cutouts in the balusters. I know I’m supposed to be proud of this (literal) step towards independence, but the truth is, waiting for her to ascend the stairs has been driving me crazy for months. It takes forehhhhhhhhhhhver, and it’s not like there’s a lot of other things I can do simultaneously. Plus, she still requires spotting because she’s about as athletically confident as, well, me.

As she was taking her sweet time up the stairs this morning I asked her what she thinks we should name her brother- or sister-to-be. (Note: I have no intention of taking her suggestions, I’m just curious what she thinks. As if I’d name a child Wa-Wa Meowww-Meowww.) She paused thoughtfully and then said with utter conviction: Baby.

Vegetables — Monday, August 22, 2011
At this point in my last pregnancy, I was starting to feel decidedly queasy—and was celebrating my 34th birthday at a Cuban restaurant in Miami, quickly learning that the smell of fried food—of any ethnicity other than “fried chicken”—was not something my nose or stomach could tolerate.

I am keeping close track of “where I was at last time” because I’m not yet feeling queasy and am still waiting—bracing myself. So far Peanut M&Ms don’t taste like cardboard, I’m not choking indigestion-style on my saliva, and the smell of coffee doesn’t make me homicidal. I’m craving vegetables and salads like a rabbit, which is super weird since last time the thought of pretty much anything other than cheese, cereal, and the occasional hamburger—topped with cheese, of course—turned my stomach. When I’m not pregnant, I eat vegetables because they’re good for me—not because I actually want to eat them, and certainly not because I craved them.

Every day I don’t want to hurl is another day of bliss—and mild worry that something is wrong with my little sesame-seed embryo. I try to believe that the reason I feel so fine so far isn’t that something is wrong but that the wee thing is a future boy rather than the estrogen-pumping monster I carried last time.

Mostly, I’m just waiting for the nausea to hit and counting my leftover Zofran collection and making sure I have Saltines in hand at all times.

In the meantime, I must go and finish this delicious salad made up of lettuce and lettuce and more lettuce. Yum. Freaky, freaky yum.

Pregnancy myth # 1,397,231 — Monday, August 29, 2011
Am no longer not feeling nauseous, and, relatedly, am no longer craving—or even feeling able to eat—vegetables (unless, of course, they are sandwiched—literally—between a piece of bread and some slices of bacon). At the moment—10:15 in the A.M., to be precise, I am eating chips and salsa and sipping continuously from my new best friend—super cold, super watered-down iced tea. It’s not that any of these foods appeal—it’s just that constant eating interspersed with constant icy-cold-beverage-sipping is the only thing that keeps the nausea at bay, however briefly.

Who started the thing about pregnant ladies craving crazy foodstuffs—pickles dipped in ice-cream and whatnot? The truth—as I’ve experienced it and as I read on some baby-related website—is that pregnancy food aversions are way stronger and more omnipresent and insistent than any craving. If you put a cup of coffee anywhere within a block of me last time I was pregnant, I came close to dying of nausea. This time it’s peanuts. Sorry, Peanut M&Ms, I guess I won’t be having you in my mouth for three to eight more months. (Incidentally, the last time around our nickname for the baby-in-the-making was “Peanut.” Needless to say, that won’t be happening this time around. Okay—must stop saying the word “peanut” now.)

Not that you need to know this, but it’s pretty damn thrilling for me—so far, no hurling at all! Unlike last time. So very, very unlike last time. Knock on wood. Fingers crossed, etc., etc.

Also on the plus side, I’m no longer worried about the health of the pregnancy. Now that I feel pretty shitty, I trust that all is right in the universe—er—wombiverse.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

A wee break

Hi, everyone. I'm not doing anything as exciting as taking a proper vacation or anything—just taking a tiny little temporary break from the writing. Back soon with more stuff to read, I promise.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Don't mind me, I'm just camping

I’ve referenced Seattle’s unseasonably cold, grey summer a few times here recently, and I just want to make something clear—I’M NOT COMPLAINING. A summer during which the temperature never breaks the eighty-degree mark is my definition of HEAVEN. (Well, actually, in my version of heaven it would be fall all the time, not summer—but if summer had to happen for some reason, it would happen without ever breaking eighty.)

I think it’s bad manners to complain about temperatures being stuck in the seventies for two straight months when in most of the country it’s been a zillion degrees and humid—so sweat-inducing a friend from Boston reported that she slid off her bicycle seat in a slick of her own perspiration. I grew up in Iowa—I remember what it’s like to spend the summer inside a dog’s mouth. I feel you, Texans.

I’m merely being factual when say that the husband and baby and I are cramming our entire summer into the upcoming week (which is supposed to start off at 83 degrees and end back at a more typical 71.) It wasn’t the plan, it just happened that everything piled up—a weekend with friends in a rental house on an island in Puget Sound, a platform-tent camping experiment on Tuesday, and an outdoor Brandi Carlile concert* on Wednesday. (* The concert is at the zoo, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to ignore the pacing bears and just enjoy myself in the cool evening air.)

The concert has been on the books for months now, the rental house invitation was floated our way a few days ago, and the camping expedition…welllll…

My husband had it in his head that we should go camping this summer because he loves to camp and because that’s just what you do when you live in the Pacific Northwest. I myself have zero desire to spend the night in a tent with my husband and my child who will be WIDE AWAKE because she’s too excited by our scintillating presence to sleep in the same bed with us under any circumstances at all whatsoever ALWAYS.

But my husband said it was super important to him and couldn’t I just do it for the adventure? What’s one night of sleep between spouses?

My family used to camp for a week most summers in Rocky Mountain National Park. It was great fun—campfires and s’mores and nature walks down to the river. I loved it—seriously loved it.

When I moved to Seattle after grad school I was informed that what my family did every summer wasn’t camping, it was “car camping.” Because we hadn’t hiked a bunch of miles with all our crap on our backs, our camping didn’t count. “We didn’t sleep in the car—” I protested, to no avail. “Car camping” to a Seattleite is like RV camping in a Wal-Mart parking lot to most of the rest of the country.

This designation deeply bothers me (in case you couldn’t tell) for any number of reasons.

  1. Why the snotty tone?
  2. Isn’t it better to encourage people to bond with the great outdoors by pitching a tent in it and scrambling eggs over an open flame than to make them feel judged just because their car is in close proximity?
  3. Does “car camping” count as “camping” if your dad can barely walk because he was randomly paralyzed as a teenager? (I especially like to ask people this question because nothing challenges a Seattleite more than pitting their love of extreme outdoor sports against their unyielding need to be politically correct.)
  4. If what I like to do is called “car camping,” what do you call it when you drive out into the woods for the night and sleep in your car?

I ran into a neighbor the other day whose kids are like three and six, and she was all excited because they were going “glamping” for the weekend.

“Glambing?”

“No, glamping.”

Oh. My. God! Glam! Glamour! Glamour camping! I had no idea what it was, but I was in love.

I did a little poking around online, and it turns out true glamping can get quite expensive, and part of why my beloved likes camping is that it doesn’t cost as much money as a first-class ticket to Honolulu.

But I found a compromise—a platform tent in a state park where we can bring a portable crib in our car and not only have an adventure, but get some sleep, too. They even have lights, a table, and a heater inside. I’m super excited. Just can’t forget to pack the wine, the coffee, the cream, the pillows, the duvet, the matches, and the chocolate.

I love camping! Bring it on!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I'm no businesswoman, but...

With Betsy Lerner’s recent post about the various selling tools we Americans have in our extensive capitalist arsenal on my mind, I had to laugh when I saw a grey-haired man standing on the side of the road of one of Seattle’s most expensive, exclusive, exalted, excruciating neighborhoods wearing a sandwich board advertising his architectural services. He was waving.

Righty-o. There you are on your way from Pilates to the spa to get your nails manicured and your hair styled because, you know, it’s Wednesday, and you’re about to call the contractor about redoing the kitchen remodel again since white is so two-thousand-and—wait! Look! There’s an architect right there by the bus stop! Why not call him instead of the firm you’ve been using for a hundred years because, well, there he is?!

Then I pulled up behind a Seattle Metro bus, the backside of which asked whether I have relapsing Multiple Sclerosis and am looking to change my MS medications—if so, a local health center has just the clinical trial for me.

Seriously? Not just MS, but relapsing MS? And not just relapsing MS but relapsing MS and looking to change my meds? What percent of the population can that ad be targeting? 0.0007%? Is relapsing, drug-unsatisfied MS among people driving cars right behind buses much more prevalent than I’d realized?

Would you hire an architect who advertised himself with a sandwich board or allow your marketing department to advertise your clinic’s highly specific drug trial on the back of a bus? Am I missing something here?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Planes, trains, and mall-bound automobiles

When I imagined having kids, I always and not-at-all-secretly wanted to have a girl. I emotionally prepared myself for sons well before I started having babies—before I’d started having sex, come to think of it (late (nerdy) bloomer!)—because I’d minored in Women’s Studies in college and figured I was destined for sons, and I didn’t want the inevitable boys to feel the sting of knowing their mom had once had a strong preference for an offspring she could go shopping with.

While the idea of a gaggle of sisters filled me with glee (even if they didn't turn out to be shoppers), I was fine with having a boy in addition to a daughter. It’s interesting and educational to watch gender differences play out under your very own roof as your daughter picks up a baby doll dressed in pink and cradles it in her arms and your son picks up a baby doll dressed in blue and cradles it in his arms. Just kidding! I know that boys would sooner poke our their eyes with the appendage of a Transformer than play with a doll! No boy plays with dolls! Only girls play with dolls! All girls! Every single girl on the planet!

This is all to say I’ve grown frustrated with some gender stuff floating around my mom’s group lately. Now that the kids are old enough to express their opinions and preferences, it’s become evident that the boys love trucks and trains and buses and balls and something else that I always forget—oh, yes, lots and lots of anonymous sex.

“Are girls like this?” the moms of boys marvel as their sons fight over who gets to ride on the molded plastic choo-choo. Let’s see… Trucks, check. Trains and buses, check. Balls, check. Anonymous sex? Time will tell.

I realize it’s a matter of degree—my daughter is not obsessed with balls or modes of transportation, she merely likes pointing them out when she sees them. And I would not for a second argue that we aren’t born with inherent gender differences. I’m just saying, isn’t it more interesting to marvel over the ways our children don’t conform to type? Like when your toddler son picks up a doll and doesn’t throw it across the room or your daughter picks up a Transformer and says, “More than meets the eye! Robots in disguise!” My daughter, incidentally, would never do this. If she were presented with a Transformer, she would try to feed it wa-wa from her cupped hands and possibly suggest a snack and/or a nap. But who cares about that?! My girl loves her some train and some bus. She seems to particularly appreciate the two-part articulated buses, which inspire her to call out, “Bus! Choo-choo!” which, in my humble, demonstrates a strong understanding of how big a bus should and should not be before it is relegated to the tracks.

Gender stuff is tricky. I love that my daughter loves spotting buses, and I love that she offers water to every creature she meets—real or imaginary, animate or carbon-free. (A few weeks ago she looked up in the evening sky and cried out, “Moon!” and then proceeded to hold up her sippy cup of milk so the moon could partake. It was the cutest thing I’ve ever seen in my whole life, and let me tell you, I’ve seen some cute shit. To wit—at the moment she's upstairs in her crib supposed to be napping but instead she's alternating between singing and saying, "Aye-yi-yi!")

I hope that my girl will grow up feeling like she can do whatever she wants, irrespective of her gender. And I hope that she will grow up liking lots of the same girly stuff as me.

Yesterday I had to return some shoes to the mall, so I packed the baby and her entourage of stuffed animals into the car and off we went. I was determined to make it in and out before she pitched any kind of bored fit—zooooom to the cash register, zooooom back out the door. But as we headed out into the first warm, yummy rays of sun we’ve had for a million and one days, the baby started to cry and pointed back toward the mall. “More!”

More what?

“More shoe.”

Ahhhh… That’s my girl.

More shoe. Yes, baby. More shoe for sure. A life together full of more shoe.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Clear eyes, full hearts, can't count!

My husband and I have started watching Friday Night Lights again, after a hiatus of, let’s see here, how old is our child, exactly? It was the perfect show to watch when I was pregnant, then once the baby was born we sort of forgot about it, due to the distractions of late-night feedings, shopping in the nightmare of Babies R Us, boning up on the lyrics to "Old MacDonald." Even after a break of 21 months (give or take a day or two), those Texas football boys and their ladies are still interesting and compelling and surprisingly gripping. I mean, for television.

One of my most sister-like best friends (some of her work is here) left today for two weeks in Rwanda. We squeezed in one last phone date last night as she was packing. After talking for about twenty minutes, I pathetically told her I had to go because my husband and I had a date to watch dreamy Tim Riggins try to help Coach Taylor cope with his West-versus-East Dillion drama. Because my husband and I are super cool, we go to bed moments after dusk, so we needed to get cracking. Rather than hanging up on me or shouting something completely justified like, “I’m LEAVING FOR RWANDA in four hours and you have to go WATCH TV?!” my friend said in a slightly dreamy voice, “Enjoy Riggins… Everyone enjoys Riggins.”

Indeed. When I was pregnant I—the woman who never gets to have sex dreams (not what I want on my tombstone)—dreamed about having sex with Riggins. Yum.

Last night I dreamed I was sitting at a table at a meeting with a bunch of strangers.  We had to go around the circle counting off for some reason, but instead of going one-two-three, the group started counting the way my baby does as she’s going up stairs: Waaan. Two. Aaight. Niiiiine! One of the men at the table (not Riggins) and I started to correct people at the same time. No, it’s “One, two, THREE…” As it dawned on me that the people around the table were fucking with us for sport—what fun to count out of order!—the man gave me a fist bump and said excitedly, “Types like us are hard to find!”

It was the first time—waking or dreaming—that anyone has suggested I’m a Type-A personality. Unlike good ol’ Riggins, I was able to finish college, but come on. I’m a perpetually underemployed creative writer who went to community college at the age of thirty to learn how to become a filmmaker because it seemed a more practical career path.

Does believing that “three” comes after “two” make me Type-A?

Incidentally, I do not correct my just-learning-to-talk baby as she counts her adorable, “Waaan. Two. Aaight.” That would be obnoxious.

I just count along with her. Correctly. And with emphasis. And a tiny bit louder than her.

But then I catch myself thinking how much I will miss these sweet moments of learning to talk and learning to count, and I shut up and try to keep my secret Type-A tendencies to myself.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Overheard

When you live in Seattle, you sometimes hear things that give you insight into why some people make the dark choice to become a Republican.

To wit, I just overheard the woman next to me at a coffee shop tell her companion about a friend who "Just got a grant... to go to Afghanistan... and play the accordion."

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Blue Angels Force Local Resident to Zoo

As a child, I loved the Blue Angels. We’d take mini road-trips from Iowa City to Chicago in the summer to stay in a fancy hotel and see the air show and buy new outfits at FAO Schwartz for my brother’s stuffed dog, Henry, and my favorite doll, Baby Chicago. I loved the noise, the thrill, the way it looked like the planes were flying sideways between the skyscrapers and practically holding hands—wings—with each other when they flew in formation. I sensed how dangerous their stunts were and loved them for it.

Months after I moved to Seattle (nine years ago now!) I learned that the city was not, in fact, under attack on a random August weekend—the Blue Angels were performing over Lake Washington as they do every year.

The same Lake Washington that’s about three blocks from my house.

Every August since we met, my husband and I have hiked down to the lake in our crampons (just kidding—do I seem like the kind of woman who would wear, let alone own, crampons? Are crampons even used to climb down things? Or is that belaying? Or bungeeing?) We have sat on the banks of the lake drinking warmish sodas and marveling at the noise, the danger, the thrill. Then we have cramponed our way back home to try to ignore the hydroplanes that race like angry wasps across the surface of the lake all afternoon. (My husband would be the first person to tell you: those things are annoying.)

We bonded over our love for the Blue Angels in a town where most everyone we know takes the reasonable—but boring and predictable—stance that the Blue Angels are a waste of money and fuel, and they send a nasty macho message glorifying war, and they produce copious amounts of water and air and noise pollution, and they're just generally too much.

“I know,”—comes my standard reply—“but you have to admit they’re pretty cool.” Everyone stares at me like I’m a Republican and then details their exit strategy for the weekend. Mount Rainier. The Washington coast. The Oregon coast. The coast of Anywhere But Here.

My husband would be devastated to miss the show, and I have never been a fan of leaving town during this particular weekend until I had a baby. Who naps. In the afternoon. Between 1:30-3:30. Prime Blue Angel time.

I looked up the schedule this morning, and learned not only do they perform on Saturday and Sunday afternoon, but they practice once on Friday and twice today. Twice! How hard can it be to fly 18 inches from five other fighter jets? I mean, honestly. And what job doesn't have a 10% mortality rate?

At 10am on the nose a Blue Angel buzzed our house. The baby covered her ears, gave me an imploring look, and said, “Pane. Yowd.”

So I scooped her into the car and we went to the zoo, which is a real sign of how much I love her since I’d generally rather kill myself than have to witness a bunch of mangy, patchy bears pacing a 30 x 30 “naturalistic” exhibit (as all seven people who have read this poem of mine know)—only to learn that the jets actually cover most of the city with their flight patterns. I guess it takes a lot of room to make a U-turn at 500 miles per hour. Luckily the baby was too distracted by the pacing grrr-grrrs to be bothered by the yowd panes.

Last year, when the baby was nine months old, a rogue fighter jet (“Not a Blue Angel,” my husband recently clarified, “those guys are professional.” n.b. My husband is no more Republican than I am, he just really likes airplanes) anyway, some non-Blue-Angel illegally—and unprofessionally—broke the sound barrier—BOOM!!!!!—right over our house. I was holding the baby, who was handling it all rather well until I jumped all the way out of my fucking skin. Then she began to cry.

This year, I whisked her home from the zoo and settled her into her crib before the second practice session of the day. I turned her fan on high and left my iPhone in her room with a white-noise app—the combination of which will surely render her deaf if the sonic booms don’t. (At least I won't have to worry about the noise next year!)

Professional or not, those planes are youd. And distracting. And, in a certain mindset, very frightening, especially when you can hear them but not see them, like right now as I madly type these words before the baby inevitably wakes in terror. As they buzz our roof and make our 100-year-old windows rattle in their frames, all I can think to say is: Fuck you, Blue Angels. I love you—but fuck you. Because of you, I had to go to the zoo.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Grungy Hippies (Jellicle Cat Reprise)

At the airport in L.A. this morning I was holding the baby in one arm and Eliot the newly cleaned stuffed cat in the other when a woman around my mom's age smiled at our little tableau and, gesturing toward Eliot, said, "That cat sure is well-loved, huh? Is it a hand-me-down, or...?..."

Alas. Eliot was exposed for the grungy Seattle hippie she apparently is all the way down to her core.

I, on the other hand, am practically Republican-seeming by Seattle standards. I shave in all the standard places, wear near-prescription-strength antiperspirant, and do not own any skirts that hit below the knee, much less the calf. So imagine my surprise when I got busted yesterday at a suburban Los Angeles swimming pool for being a grungy hippie mama.

I was minding my own, changing the baby's diaper on a bench by the side of the pool (where it was 95 degrees) instead of in the locker room (where it was 117 degrees and a little too fungal-feeling for my taste) when I overheard a pubescent voice say something about "deck changes" not being allowed. Not paying much attention—and not knowing what a deck change was—I blithely continued to fan the baby's rashy, exposed bits with a dry diaper until the pubescent voice was standing in front of me with a whistle around its neck, gesturing toward the baby. "Next time, please use the locker room."

I glanced around and noticed that, in fact, no other babies were standing around naked. Likewise, no other moms had their hair in a loose braid, their bodies in a vintagey one-piece, or their boobs in the shape god made them.

I wish I were one of those people who would have finished changing the baby right there in full view of god and all of southern California, but I'm not. I perp-walked the baby to the locker room and put her in her chlorine-free diaper and bamboo pajamas in hot, hot peace. Then we piled into my mother-in-law's Prius, and off we drove into the incredible, smog-enhanced sunset.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Things to do

We're traveling on a plane today for the first time since the baby's been old enough to enjoy things like foil packets of pretzels, books with paper pages, and internet porn. I'm so excited. Can anyone out there recommend iPhone apps for a not-quite-two-year-old with a love of Elmo, cats, the letters D, M, R, and N, and the numeral 8? (She doesn't like the way headphones mess up her hairdo, so ones not dependent on sound effects for enjoyment are best.)

Travel with a toddler is fun! Right? Hellooooooooo? Anyone?