Anyone need a nap? (I do! I DO!)

This past weekend, CG had the poor fortune to suffer from a food poisoning/stomach bug extravaganza. Luckily, he was also the recipient of a Zoe certified nap.

First, you are instructed to lie "on your TUMMY" before being covered with layers and layers of blankets.
Then there are the not-so-gentle pats on the back.
Followed by the full body hug/Wrestlemania body slam for extra healing.


By the time you read this, I'll be in New Jersey. We are stopping off in my old homeland before heading to Vermont for a week or so of rest and relaxation toddler wrangling in a green and family-full locale. I won't be posting much for awhile, but hope to be reading your posts (and emails!) from a dock overlooking the most beautiful lake I've ever known. (After a really good nap, of course.)


Life in the toddler lane, or how my toddler is teaching me to sit still

I don't like to sit still. I'm one of those people in the movie theater shifting my position every two seconds. Holding yoga poses for long periods of time is tortuous for me. Just forget about meditation. I am always thinking about what's going to happen tomorrow and what I need to worry about now to feel prepared. Every year, "Be truly present" (along with "Eat slower" and "Remember everyone's birthday") is on my new year's resolution list (which I start thinking about in October).

When Zoe was an infant there was a LOT of sitting still and being present, there was simply no choice. Sitting and nursing her seemed to take entire days. I was so awed, freaked, exhausted and enraptured that I could barely plan minutes ahead. It was as if I was constantly putting out fires and yet, at home for days, it seemed that time stood still. Some days this was lovely. Other days felt like I might die from Couch Potato Disease. More than anything, I wanted energy and the ability to MOVE and PLAN or at the very least FIDGET without waking up the baby on my chest.

Once Zoe started walking, motherhood started to fit me a little bit better: you are never able to truly sit still and you must always think a few steps ahead to prepare her little toddler brain for what's coming next. ("Okay Zoe at the end of this block is the big dog who barks really loudly. You can cover your ears or we can cross the street. Which do you want to do?"). I think I'm pretty good at this planning-ahead part of motherhood; I was always the one with a purse full of tissues and snacks even before becoming a mom.

Now, in the later stages of toddlerhood, it sometimes seems like the most useful toddler wrangling skill is the ability to tolerate a lot of screaming, whining and general pissiness. (Okay, maybe THE most useful one would be how to be creative and hold boundaries without making them scream, whine or be pissy! Mental Note: gotta work on that one.) When Zoe was an infant her screams would drive me to the brink of insanity. JUST. MAKE. IT. STOP. Luckily, we quickly figured out how to make it stop, succeeding at the ultimate goal of infant care but now that she's a toddler, I actually sometimes have to choose to do things that I know will make her scream. And then I have to sit there and take it.

It's wonderfully helpful to see a payoff; it helps remind me why we set boundaries in the first place. We went through a terrible time about a year ago when she was a relatively new walker and desperately wanted to cross streets or walk in parking lots without holding our hands. We just repeated endlessly that she could either hold our hand or we would have to pick her up. We battled for months about this and it's only recently that I realized how our consistency has paid off. She now will stop at the edge of the parking lot and insist "Hold hands" if I'm slow to reach for her. We were consistent and now she knows the drill.

Two and a quarter (or "TWO! and two MONTHSS!" as Zoe, incorrectly, insists) is such a strange age. Some days are beautiful. She can follow instructions and be helpful, carrying her dishes to the kitchen, putting her clothes in the hamper, helping me clean up her toys. She and I have these crazy conversations where I sit stunned at her memory and vocabulary (though she seems incapable of using the right pronoun. "I like HE." she says. or "HER has it."). My favorite part lately: she's often capable of waiting and "working on paaaactience" while I finish a sentence to a friend or get the last of the laundry folded or whatever. This is a beautiful thing.

But oh crap the dawdling. If I have to say "Okay Zoe you chose or Mommy chooses, RIGHT NOW" one more time I'm going to scream. She always wants the choice but then turns deaf when I'm presenting her options. So she loses the right to chose and then proceeds to LOSE HER EFFING MIND. The lack of logic confounds me. Whenever I need her to walk slowly, like on a precarious ledge, she runs full tilt and when I need her to SPEED THE EFF up, like when we're leaving to go somewhere and we're late, even somewhere SHE WANTS TO GO like the park, she is slower than molasses in winter.

While we're on the random rant, what's up with the fact that when Zoe puts on her shoes "by SELF", she ALWAYS, WITHOUT FAIL, puts them on the wrong feet? Dressing herself has suddenly become a long tortuous process of me sitting there watching as she repeatedly stuffs both legs into the same pant leg OVER AND OVER AGAIN. I make myself sit there and let her do it "by SELF" until she asks for help. I bite my tongue, try not to look at my watch and will myself to observe her learn how to solve problems. It often takes all my willpower to let her figure it out for herself.

This has extended to her interactions with peers. We've, admittedly, been helicopter type parents when it comes to peer interactions. We are often right there to remind gently (or strongly enforce) turn taking and gentle touch (ie. "WE DON'T HIT." "PUSHING IS NOT OKAY.") while other parents seem too laid back for my taste. But lately, I've noticed that the natural course of things can also take care of things. If Zoe doesn't take turns well, the other kid won't want to play with her. Then if she gets upset, I can explain why that might have happened. And she just may learn it (way, WAY) better that way. Again, I sometimes have to sit on my hands and bite my cheek to keep from intervening when safety isn't an issue.

Lately, Zoe's been able to spend longer and longer periods of time playing by herself. I often start out with her and as she proceeds to ignore me and talk to herself and her dolls, I start to get twitchy. I glance around for something to read. That old New Yorker over there, can I reach it without attracting attention? That pile of laundry, if I start to fold it will she freak out? Often, just as I'm about to move to my latest distraction something amazing happens. She'll give her baby a kiss and say "That's okay baby. We can clean it up." or she'll pull down a book and start reading it to her baby and she'll carefully rearrange Baby's body so that she can 'see' the pages. (Do you notice a trend? BABIES BABIES BABIES.) It'll stop me in my tracks and make me catch my breath. And so I'll sit, right there, at least for a few more minutes. To observe. To be present. To watch her learning about the world, processing what she's seen and heard. Soon enough, the timer will go off and I'll HAVE to move to the kitchen or the dog will really, REALLY need to be walked or the clock will remind me we have an appointment to get to. So I stop fidgeting, take a breath and relish those last few moments to just sit.


Resolution: take out carseat more often

What's worse? Moving your carseat for the first time in.... 2 years (?) (and also: !!) and finding this:

Or shaking said carseat on the driveway and finding this:


One small plane trip, MANY moods

Sunday was Zoe's first flight up in a little plane with Daddy the pilot. It was, mostly, a success."Pancakes are the best pre-flight finger food""Dude, my dad is a pilot!"
"Check out my very own groovy headset!""Okay, now I'm bored. Please provide a high level treat such as a super sugary apple flavored cereal bar. Thank you very much, Mother Dear." (HAH)
"I'm the pilot now" (On the ground, of course.)
"Even tiny airports with only a few rows of seats are cause for total system overload."

(Not pictured: tantrum when told we couldn't get out right now, in MIDAIR.)


How you know you have a great friend

When you have a bad day, she sends you something in the mail to make you laugh and, most importantly, to make you feel heard and loved.

Mama Merit Badges, what a great idea!

Now I just have to figure out where to put it! On a baby sling for next time around (to remind me that even when the infant's poop is oozing down my chest that at least it's not a tantrum!)? On the inside of a favorite playground jacket, to rub as a talisman at leaving time? Front and center on a t-shirt??

Off to collect a few more!


Et tu, Mr. Edwards?

Dear John Edwards,

If Bill Clinton broke my heart (First knife? "don't ask, don't tell". Second knife? Gennifer Flowers. Third machete blow to the temple? Monica Lewinsky.), you just plain piss me off. How dare you? How dare you have an affair when your wife is sick with cancer (or maybe was in remission at the time but STILL. WTF?)?

Then, after the affair, you decide to run for president again. HOW EFFING DARE YOU? What if you had gotten the nomination and then this all came out? Would you really have allowed us all to believe in you, knowing full well that WHEN (not if, come on, don't be naive) news of the affair came out, the chances for Democrats winning this election, this most important of elections, would be sunk?

I almost believed in you, even considered voting for you in the primary. Your dorky cheap wristwatch, your focus on the poor, your lauding of your wife and seemingly strong commitment to your family (*cough* *gag* *retch*) all seemed to send the right message about what Democrats were about. This? This just makes us look like a bunch of guys who can't keep their dicks in their pants.

(Memo to Barack Obama: Whatever you need to do to keep yourself from following in these footsteps, if you need a monogamy buddy who will shadow you like a daycare worker by a biting toddler, if you need a chastity belt that only Michelle has the key to, if you need to encase that snake in a jagged cage, DO IT.)

You wrote in your official statement that through campaigning you came to believe you were "special" and this made you "egocentric and narcissistic". I don't think this is surprising to anyone. I mean, you actually wanted to be the leader of the free world. I think this automatically means you were at least a TAD bit full of yourself.

But you clearly were out of control. I'm not naive about how hard marriage and monogamy are. Or how tantalizing and heady attention from someone else can be. But I'm also clear on what it means to be a public figure, especially one who's vying to be THE public figure, THE public representation of all that America stands for. When you put yourself at such high levels of politics and public service you must wrestle with any and all demons to make sure your personal life does not interfere with your political responsibilities. Your campaign wasn't ever supposed to be about you. The best campaigns are about what you would DO. Who you would help.

I guess this proves it was always about you. You and your dick.


one Clueless But Hopeful (and pissed off but still Democratic) Mama


It takes one to know one

Recently, I found myself in search of a good 'gina doc. My old OB/GYN was good, I guess, I mean Zoe's here and all so she did her job (including waking up at 1 am and delivering Zoe with her hair matted in a serious bedhead.). But Old OB doesn't take my new insurance and I was informed by my new primary physician that I had to find a new one before getting pregnant (we are about to officially pull the goalie) as they won't let you switch later. She recommended a doc in my plan and told me all her patients really like him.


Is it just me or is anyone else suspicious of a dude who has to have his hand halfway up some one's ya-ya for most of the day? Plus, how does he know how anything feels? Does he have any clue how bizarrely intense it is to have your ovaries and uterus checked, from the inside? That sh!t is just ODD feeling and for some reason, I've always felt that unless you have lived through it yourself, you have no right to do it to another human being. Like a special kind of female hazing or something.

But she insisted he was good so off I went.

The office was nice, though they had a huge billboard-size sign up by the reception desk advertising some other doctor in the building. It's a photo of a lady's rear end (a very smooth, skinny rear end. Like the perfect orbs of a 15 year old gymnast or something.) and an announcement of a monthly special for a cellulite treatment. I'm sure all the pregnant ladies LOVE to stare at this decidedly un-pregnant tush as they waddle their way to the bathroom with yet another plastic cup. Jeez.

When I checked in, the ladies at the desk had NO idea what to do with me since I had no complaints, wasn't pregnant and didn't especially need a physical. "I just want to meet the doc and chat. You know, a pre-conception visit." I must have been speaking Martian because several different people looked at me like.... I was speaking Martian. Finally I gave up and said "oh fine, I'm sure I'm due for a pap.". Next thing I knew, I had wrapped my naked body in a paper "gown" and was sitting on the table waiting to meet HIM.

He entered and gave a good strong handshake, with a smile and direct eye contact. Check, check, check. He did the whole pap thing, the scrape the insides of my junk thing, and was out the door pretty quickly. I am always a little disappointed with doctors these days. I have this fantasy doctor in my head: warm, kind, patient, has all the time in the world to listen to me prattle on about my every hangnail and digestive episode. And in reality, they are all stretched really thin. They have little time to give you and need to cover all the necessary bases. This guy didn't want to hear about Zoe's birth story, told in real time preferably, but he did cover all the important bases, with clear expertise and efficiency. He's obviously done this A LOT. So I guess he'll do just fine as our next baby catcher.

There was one good omen. When I told him Old OB's name he told me he delivered her two kids. That sounds like a pretty good recommendation to me.


Today's motherly advice

Dear Zoe,

If, someday, you find yourself hiking on a trail with your dog and a friend and you happen to accidentally drop your cellphone down the dusty embankment off the trail, LEAVE IT THERE. Do not think you can easily scramble down the impossibly dry, crumbly cliff. Those brambly branches? They will fall apart in your hand. The rocks you see? They too will tumble down the cliff. WITH YOU.

Seriously. You can buy another cellphone. You cannot buy new skin for your legs. Or a new life should you lose yours trying to retrieve a freakin' cellphone.


your Clueless But Hopeful Mama


Happy belated birthday Sweet Dog

Dear Sweet Dog,

Your 3rd birthday was yesterday and how did we celebrate? By leaving you at home while we went over to a friend's house for dinner. I'm so sorry about that but I think you're used to getting the shaft by now.

I am forever grateful for the extreme levels of doggy awesomeness you bring to our lives. You don't bark. You don't touch ANYTHING that isn't yours (unless it's food that's been dropped on the floor and have I praised you lately for the fact that I've rarely had to clean up under a highchair?). Your extreme patience with Zoe and her cohort never ceases to impress me. I'm sorry if we've sometimes let it go too far.

I'll make sure to "drop" some chicken on the kitchen floor sometime soon.


your Clueless But Hopeful Mama


A few travel lessons learned, a whole lot of pictures taken.

Remind me the next time I take a trip, especially one where we'll be staying in a hotel room with Zoe (unless, of course, there is a suitable bathroom/walk-in closest into which we can shove the pack-n-play), to bring a flashlight or at least a Timex Indiglo. That way, after hanging out at the edges of the hotel bar with our baby monitor buzzing away, we can easily, quietly pick our way through the minefield of travel flotsam and toddler jetsam strewn around the hotel room. Also, later in bed, I will not have to toss and turn and try in vain to figure out what time it is on my silver dress watch, the kind with vague silver lines on a silver background that is challenging to read in broad daylight and certainly impossible to read exclusively by the glow of a fake fireplace.

Also, I MUST remember next time to bring real diapers and not just the Feel n' Learn pull ups we use during the day now that we're waging Operation Wipe Yer Own A$$. At night it's still got to be all about the don't-feel-anything, absorb-a-full-fishtank type of diapers. When it's 2 am, I don't want anyone feeling or learning ANYTHING.

Since we had to fly into Oakland and drive for a few hours, I spent a decent amount of time in the car marveling over how different traveling with a kid is these days from Ye Good Olde Days. We used to lie down in the back seat if we wanted to sleep (now that would surely get you in deep doo-doo with the real police or the Mommy police) or better yet, lie down on top of the luggage in the back of the station wagon (all the better to sling shot you straight through the windshield should you come to an abrupt stop on your way to Sea World.). What will driving with a kid be like in 20 years? Little babies encased in their own individual, soundproof, air-bagged pods? We will surely look back in HORROR at the ancient, death trap Britaxs that cost more than what a few of my friends have paid for their cars.


Once again, contrary to all my dire predictions and late night horror fantasies, we managed to have a lovely trip this past weekend at our friends' wedding in Fort Ross, a chill, and CHILLY, coastal town a few hours north of San Francisco. It was great to see friends we hadn't seen in 2 or so years and we loved breathing the green(er) air and hanging out by the ocean.

Onto the photos!

Woe is me. Must I always be tethered?

The artiste scribbles creates abstract art next to her ocean view in our hotel room. (Not pictured: the romantic 2 person Jacuzzi tub. The one we took a not-at-all romantic, 6 inch full family bath in!)

I totally wiped the cream cheese off her nose.... after I took the picture.

The winner of the dress debate! CG liked this one and I brought them all along "in case three get dirty". The pink one makes an appearance later. This picture was taken at the start of the ceremony, about 8 seconds before she started rifling through her purse and exclaiming about its contents (the ones that were supposed to keep her content and happy and QUIET) "I have toothbrutch! I HAVE KEYS!" and was whisked away.

During the toasts, Zoe was particularly fond of clapping and saying "YAY" at the end of each one. (Please ignore my friend Mike's thumb's up in the background. It's better that way.)

Oh but she was fondest of the homemade (by the maid of honor) chocolate cake!

CG got seriously choked by the chocoholic (like mother, like daughter).

Yes, we totally know that it's theoretically possible to dislocate a toddler's elbow and/or shoulder this way. But if you could only hear her delighted squeal...

The next day, at brunch, the pink dress made an appearance on my favorite little bag lady.

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