1/28/09

Taking flight

I leave tomorrow for four days in New Jersey to freeze my buns off and hold my mom's hand and repeat magical healing mantras in my dad's hospital room after his surgery. That is, if they let me in since I have my second nasty head cold in two weeks.

I will miss my two favorite airplane lovers and hope we all survive the separation. Wish us luck!

(Adorable airplane t shirt courtesy of my super-awesome-talented sister-in-law over at chickadeez.)

1/26/09

Me time

"What happens if she doesn't nap?"

It's an innocent enough question that several lovely people have asked me recently. My brother-in-law was the first, over lunch in Arizona after my panicky phone call to inquire whether my in-laws had put Zoe down for her nap yet. My mother was the latest, after calling yesterday and hearing my exhausted, frustrated tale of Zoe falling asleep for FIVE MEASLY minutes in the car on the way home from a fun, stimulating, tiring event only to skip her nap entirely once home.

My response (in my head) is always the same: What happens if Zoe doesn't nap? Spontaneous combustion. Armageddon. THE END OF DAYS.

Before Zoe was born, I read up on infant and child sleep and as a result we prioritized her sleeping in her crib, at set times, since day one. And Zoe has always been a "good sleeper". I believe that the two of those are completely related, though I also believe that some kids are hardwired to be easier sleepers than others. While some might see us as uptight and rigid about her sleep, we find the schedule easy to keep, because to us it is downright FREEING to know that we can put her down for a nap or a night's sleep and she will fall asleep, on her own, fairly reliably and stay that way.

There are, of course, exceptions to every rule.

Something happens to me on the rare (but MEMORABLE) days that Zoe does not nap. As the realization sets in, I get panicky, sweaty and shaky. I'm often impatient and pissy and feel PUT OUT because I didn't get "my time". I catastrophize the whole rest of the day. Dinner will be impossible! Behavior, atrocious! I will get nothing done! WHAT DO YOU MEAN "GET OFF THE LEDGE"??

At some point, I realize, Zoe is going to have no nap and by "realize" I mean there is some hypothetical understanding somewhere in my brain that all children drop their nap completely sometime before age 5. Honestly, I live in fearful DREAD of that eventuality. I've come to view Zoe's nap time as essential to my very survival on the days I'm home with her. It is MY TIME and I guard it fervently. I always plan on it (and we all know what happens with the best laid plans). On bad days, I find myself spending the morning obsessing about all the possible ways to spend MY time, turning all the possibilities over in my mind like talismans.

There is something very, very sad about this, I realize. Is my time with her really only "her time"? Is it not "my time" too? I promised myself I would never be a Martyr Mom, someone who forgets all her needs in the course of mothering her child(ren). But I struggle often with how to balance her needs and mine. How to "get things done" while playing and interacting with her. If I include her in folding the laundry, it takes five times as long and is a mess. If I let her play by herself while I do the dishes, I am sure to find that she's taken that opportunity to pilfer an entire pad of post-it notes, drawn on them with my chapstick and stuck them all over the leather chair.

If there is no nap time, when and how do I make phone calls to chat with the people I love without her hearing me talk about her or interrupting for help with a toy or needing to "POOP RIGHT NOW MOMMY, BEFORE IT FALLS ON THE FLOOR"? When do I shower and exercise and write my blog posts? When do I prep dinner ingredients, read a book or tidy up the STY that is our home? When do I get to poop in private?

I want our time together to be meaningful, "quality time". I want Zoe to think of me as having time and attention and energy to play with her. But I realize that she should have opportunities to entertain herself and that she also learns a lot by helping me with chores or just observing me as I do them. I do her no favors if she is allowed to grow up thinking the laundry magically appears, clean and folded, in her drawers.

I plan on instituting enforced "quiet time" when she starts dropping her nap more frequently. And I need to find more ways of including my self and my needs in our time together. Maybe then, when she eventually drops her nap completely, I won't feel like My Precious Time is gone.

1/22/09

Taking stock (plus: a giveaway only a Mommy would love!)

Bought:

Lima Bean's first official non-hand-me-down, which manages to be both exciting (It's pink! It's soft! IT'S TINY!) and depressing (It's a hat with a special flap in front to shield the baby's eyes while she's napping in the car/stroller/carrier because you're too busy with your toddler or the baby's too fussy to be put down in her bed!)

Saved:


Zoe's first representational drawing! A happy face! I mean, you can actually see it's a face with eyes, a mouth and, uh, ears? A Picasso in the making, I tell you.


Given away:
I stocked up on ovulation and pregnancy tests when we were about to start "trying" this time around. Certainly don't need them anymore and I have already found a taker.


Free to a good home:

A full package (I opened the outer box but didn't open or use any of the packages) of PreSeed. Anyone about to start trying? Send me an email and I'll mail it to you ASAP. (Edited to add: YAY! TAKEN and will be sent off whenever I get my butt in gear ASAP.)


Gained:

Ten pounds in the last month. Uh, OOPS? I feel a post about my body image coming on.....

1/21/09

Resolutions made daily

Dear Zoe,

This weekend was rough. I was not the mother, the person, I wanted to be. I was sick with this miserable head cold, my sinuses so stuffed and swollen I could barely think. All I wanted to do was gulp some serious cold medicine and lie down to read or watch mindless TV and you (and your unborn sister) prevented me from having the quiet, lazy, medicated weekend of my dreams. I was the petulant child not getting what I wanted, mentally stamping my feet and sticking out my lip.

You needed a patient, creative, attentive mother this weekend and I wasn't it. You tested us repeatedly; asking for reminders about the Rules of the Table before flagrantly throwing food with a smile on your face. This made me mad. I forgot you were a toddler still learning and relearning the rules and I got annoyed like you were an adult who meant to personally offend me, who was kicking me while I was down. You had accidents (Yes Fates, YOU GOT ME): asking to go potty, spending your time there pulling toilet paper off the roll and asking for endless recitations of favorite potty books, only to get off the potty and make poop in your underwear not 2 minutes later. It felt, to my stuffy, tired, impatient, selfish brain, like the ultimate F YOU. It wasn't, of course. I see that now and, well, I'm pretty ashamed of myself. I know better than to take your testing of limits personally but I did anyway.

It all reminded me a little too much of my first trimester. How awful I felt. How much I didn't like myself as a mother. How my lack of creativity and patience only led to more dawdling and whining and misbehavior. How we both suffered.

This week I have renewed my efforts and, of course, we are getting along swimmingly. We're back to using the potty and wearing underwear with zero fuss. Mealtimes have been pleasant and unremarkable. The biggest change is my behavior, of course. Mostly I have given us more time to get things done so I've rarely had to ask you to "Hurry up". (This is always a big clue I need to step back. I mean, really, is there anything more insane than asking a toddler to hurry up? Would it kill me to let you take the five dawdling minutes you need to chose your naptime books or get yourself into your carseat or put on your socks? Couldn't I just start making dinner ten minutes earlier, mentally including time to help you with your toys or cleaning up after your spills as you "help" me with dinner? Will I ever learn that when I do allow more time, it is more pleasant for both of us and, shockingly, actually more efficient than when I try to rush you?)

I wake up each day reminding myself to give us both more space and more time. I vow to remember that you are a child, in many ways still a baby. And I, as your mother, have a chance each and every day to start over.

Love,

your Clueless But Hopeful Mama

1/20/09

Brand New Day

On our front lawn this morning (still):


The sign is fading from the sun exposure and has been battered by the sprinklers. I think we will finally retire it after today.




On our back lawn this morning:

The W squeaky dog toy? That may have to hang around a little bit longer if only to give Sweet Dog more time to disembowel it.

1/19/09

Tele-vision impaired

(If you are bored to tears by my hand wringing over TV watching for Zoe, and trust me I AM TOO, then I suggest you skip this post. )

We still aren't really doing TV with Zoe. But we're both sick with a cold and in spite of it, Zoe's been SUPER chatty and needy and active and impossible while I'm cooking and, well, I've been showing her more and more youtube clips from Sesame Street (Hello, slippery slope!). And they are fine by me, not too commercial, not exposing her to age-inappropriate information but MAN is it annoying to have to cue up another one every 2 minutes. And AND when your youtube clip is finished, these little boxes pop up to show you other clips you might be interested in. This is how she has discovered, and fallen in love with, Barney. And started singing that sign-of-the-apocolypse "I love you" song. SHOOT ME NOW.

(Is it just me or is leaving a toddler alone with a laptop on the table for even a second just asking for trouble?)

So I think we are finally ready to move away from short clips on the computer and turn on the TV. (You: Thank God and SHUT UP ALREADY.) We may start showing her half hour bits of Planet Earth and I just ordered some Little Bear videos from Amazon (our parenting education teacher recommended them and she's no fan of TV.). When they arrive, CG and I will spend a thrilling evening previewing them just to make sure there aren't any images of boogeymonsters or animal sacrifice or the like. I can't imagine we're going to have concerns about a little bear who plays with friends named Duck and has picnics on Pudding Hill for f's sake.

Of course, with this much hand-wringing, one has to suspect that it's not just about the TV, though I've felt ambivalent about TV for a long time. But I also feel a deep ambivalence about Zoe growing up and I think I'm projecting some of that onto our decision about TV. I feel her babyhood rapidly slipping away. She is no longer my baby, content to sit in my arms and gaze at her hands, babbling and smiling. Every day she is more and more her own person and any inadvertent but powerful illusion I had about her as some extension of myself, one I could control and protect, fades away. As she grows, the dominant culture is going to have more and more of a role to play and that, frankly, scares me.

We don't plan on keeping her in a bubble, but I do want to limit some of the messages that I feel are strong in TV programming; the commercialism and the gender role entrenchment for starters. I'm sick of going to the children's salon and having the hair dresser assume EVERY TIME that Zoe wants the "pretty princess bucket" of toys rather than the airplanes (which she really wants). The pediatric dentist marvels at the fact that she doesn't know Arielle from Aurora. Strangers point out Bert and Ernie in the checkout line at Target as if she must know exactly who they are. Do we really have to start all this stuff so young? Can we connect with children without animated characters?!

But I'm not so crazy as to think keeping TV from her will protect her from commericialism completely. She will learn about princesses eventually and if she loves them, well, then we'll do some princesses (*gag*choke*). She will have friends who teach her about specific TV shows and characters and we will just have to hope we are also instilling a healthy framework through which to critically view it all.

I battle internally, wanting to expose her to knowledge and beauty and complexity (not to mention the fun and lighthearted parts of our dominant media culture) in our world all while protecting her from all that's scary and unjust and adult. TV is my current lightening rod for this struggle. I will have to let go a bit. Of her. Of my ambivalence about TV and our culture and the world at large.

Perhaps there is some correspondence between thinking it's time for Zoe to finally watch some TV and the fact that my TV watching is undergoing a HUGE increase. All December, we barely watched anything. The election was over so no more nervous tummy political coverage. And so many shows were on hiatus. Now our DVR is full- American Idol, Rock of Love Bus (awww yeaaaaaahhhh. This is reality trash at its finest!), the Office, 30 Rock, Grey's Anatomy, The Daily Show. And on deck this month: Big Love (YAY! YAY!), Flight of the Conchords and Lost. I wonder how I'm going to have any time for anything besides TV.

I obviously like some TV in my life. It can be a fun, relaxing way to spend some time. I hope to teach Zoe how to balance it in her life, as I continually relearn how to have moderation and balance in my own.

1/16/09

A rose by any other name....

We named Zoe before she was even conceived. We were on a long drive in Zambia (Oh did I really travel to exotic places? With no mac-n-cheese packets in the suitcase?) and we weren't seeing much. My mind was wandering and it wandered to baby names (for the record, we were married at the time and we had agreed that we both wanted a family at some point in the future. So it wasn't totally out of the realm of reason to be thinking of baby names ALL THE TIME from time to time.) I was thinking how much I love the letter Z and how much I've always liked the name "Zoe" and so I turned to my beloved and said: "What do you think of the name Zoe?".

And he said, suddenly suspicious, "for what?"

"For our possible daughter, you know, someday."

"Um...... I like it fine."

Fast forward a couple of years and we found out we were having a baby girl. And her name was Zoe. From the very beginning.

Now we are at a loss. Another girl is joining our family and no name feels quite right yet. I liked having Zoe's name from the beginning. I talked to her, wrote to her, imagined her - all with her name attached. I felt like I got to know her through her name, though that may sound backwards.

Naming a person feels like such a huge responsibility. She will say and spell and hear her name for the entirety of her life. Her name will often proceed her, conjuring an image, telling people a story. What will that image, that story, be?

So I do what I always do when I need answers or feel stuck: I read. I scour through pages and pages of baby name books. The range is amazing: from the drab (does anyone really name their daughter "Beige" or "Tame"?), to the possibly damaging ("Harlot"?!? For real?) to the obvious ("Fashion" which means- who would have thunk it?- "stylish") to the strangely fan-based ("Manilow", um WHY?).

We have a list of names we like. We have thrown out more than a few names that the other likes. We are still at a loss.

We want what most parents want in a name: that it be beautiful, easy to spell and pronounce, recognizable as a name but not too common. Our last name is short and consonant heavy so we like names that have more than one syllable and are not too guttural. Both of us are have German stock but with our last name, a German first name sounds... WAY German.

How important is it that it sounds good with "Zoe"? How important is it that it sound good with ALL our names? How popular does a name have to be for us to rule it out?

If, hypothetically of course, one of us dated someone with a name we are considering, does that automatically rule it out? (Dude, CG dated some girls with GREAT names. JERK.)

I have no answers but "Lima Bean" does have a certain ring to it!

1/14/09

Dear Camel Lights

Dear Camel Lights,

My fondest memories of you are from when I was eight or so. On weekday evenings, after dinner, I would lay my head on my dad's chest and use you as part of my pillow while we watched M.A.S.H. reruns. I could smell you through his shirt pocket where you always lived, so close to his heart, and hear your package crinkle, papery and plastic-y all at once. I liked your smell, not the way you smelled lit up (I never liked that) but the way you smelled all new in your package. Like something almost clean and natural. Opening the package like a present, I would find the rows of white wrapped sticks all lined up and ready, full of promise. I liked you best there, in your package, clean and unused. The acrid smell of your smoke, the dirty butts stubbed out in ashtrays, the cough that rattled through my father's chest a little deeper with each passing year- those I could always do without.

I remember going to see my father in the hospital when his lung collapsed. I was a teenager then and my tall, strong, broad-shouldered, all-powerful father lay pale and prone on his hospital bed, tubes everywhere. As a test? exercise? he had to breathe into a small tube and try to move a little ball. It jumped feebly before dropping as his face turned red with effort.

You did that to him. You made him have to relearn the one basic thing we all humans do reflexively: breathe.

He quit you the day his lung collapsed. He spent those first few Camel-free years chewing on licorice root twigs and sucking on peppermints and going to therapy. He had to learn how to relax without you, how to breathe deeply again without drawing anything in but clean air.

I never touched you because I saw you for what you are: a deadly, disgusting scourge.

My daughter is only 2 and she doesn't know what cigarettes are yet. But today I had to tell her that her "Grampa has something in his chest called cancer and they have to take it out". She asked "Why?" because she's two and the repeated and vague use of that question is, unfortunately, a requisite developmental milestone but also because ... OMG WHY? Why are these things still sold in stores? Why did you manipulate and strategize and advertise your way into HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of lung cancer deaths each year, getting richer and richer while people DIED BECAUSE OF YOU?

When my father started smoking as a young man, few really understood what smoking did to your body. I believe that. (Scientific research conducted: Mad Men). I believe that somewhere along the line, lots and lots of people knew and chose not only to not do anything to prevent more deaths but to actually ACTIVELY create and recreate a product that could addict people more powerfully than ever before. My father was addicted in his youth and spent years trying to quit but your grip was PURPOSEFULLY too powerful. It took his freaking lung collapsing to finally quit. That was 20 years ago. With each passing year since then, we imagined his once gray, sickly lungs regenerating, getting more pink and smooth and plump. We hoped he was in the clear. But your reach, your power, still reigns.

When my father goes into surgery soon, to cut out the crud you put in there, I will continue to curse your name. When my daughter asks me one day what cigarettes are, I will find an age-appropriate way to explain the truth to her. As she gets older, I will work hard to make sure she has the tools to relax and feel comfortable in social situations without your cancer sticks. And if I nevertheless hear that telltale papery and yet plastic-y crinkle come out of one of her teenage pockets, I will do my best to ask and to listen and then, hopefully, PLEASE GOD, to bring my dad in to SCARE THE LIVING CRAP OUT OF HER.

Yours truly FUCK YOU VERY MUCH,

One Clueless But Hopeful Mama

Lemon Lover

On the top of the list of Things I Will Miss about California:





our beautiful, no-maintenance, bountiful meyer lemon tree (though the 80 degree January day ain't so bad either!)

1/12/09

Tempting fate BIG TIME

It is the last day of the week-long experiment we're calling Operation All Underpants All The Time. And there have been ZERO accidents. (Yes, I know. HELLO FATES, PLEASE COME AND BITE ME IN THE A$$.)

We have been pretty darn lazy about potty training (or "potty learning" if you want to get all touchy feel-y about it). Zoe's shown interest and ability since the summer and school routinely puts her in underwear. But with my first trimester doldrums (haha. What a nice word for "wishing for death") and our travels over the holidays and the stars just not being QUITE RIGHT, she's been a Pull-Up girl all fall and winter.

Last week, she started complaining about wearing diapers at night because the side tabs bother her. (She's a VERY sensitive flower about tags and itchy things so basically anything touching her that isn't loose, VIRGIN ANGEL spun silk or the like is a NO GO.) So we told her we could try pull ups at night and, oh yeah, maybe underwear during the day? She immediately started in underwear and hasn't looked back. No accidents so far. (I know, I KNOW, they're coming. We've already had our regressions last summer, on both our parts, so I know how it works. But this week's success, dare I say it, feels different.)

We had a few major blowups over trying to force her to sit on the potty because DEAR GOD it's been four hours with no potty stop and we're about to get in the car and I'll be damned if I have to clean that damn carseat cover. She's thrown major tantrums to get us to listen to her saying "I DON'T NEED TO GO POTTY" and we finally realized that, um, she's right. She hasn't had an accident yet and if she says she doesn't need to go potty, it is her bladder and she actually KNOWS. (Note to self: Just because I have to go potty every half hour doesn't mean Zoe does. How sad is it that I'm envying my potty-training daughter's bladder control?)

I can't believe how time is marching on. How big Zoe is getting. How BIG I'm getting.
(That weird glow in the picture? It's totally my aura, NOT my lame photography skills.)

You'd think I hadn't done this before. I keep being shocked by the passage of time, the growth of everything and everyone. I keep trying to bend over and OOF there's a baby in the way! Or try to put on some pants and OH RIGHT there's that low hanging belly that prevents things like zippers from operating. (Is it just me or is this second baby so much lower than the first? My pregnant belly bulge now starts at MY PUBIC BONES for f's sake.)

I do love the second trimester (23 weeks down, OMG OVER HALFWAY THERE). Everything tastes good (except for fish. EWWW.), my hair is growing like a chia pet on steroids (though, um, hopefully it looks a little better than one) and people know I'm pregnant but don't yet glance at me nervously like I might drop a babe on the floor right in front of them at the grocery store.

Now if only no one in the house was having pee accidents. *ahem*

1/10/09

My favorite river in Egypt

I am in total, complete and utter denial that we are moving from California to Virginia in August of this year. It's January and we all just took a family walk in the sunshine wearing long sleeve shirts. And we were totally sweating. It's going to be in the 70's today and I was out planting pansies with Zoe this morning.

What the F are we thinking?

OH RIGHT. There's that whole pesky JOB thing. As in, CG needs to have one and since the funding is caput on his post-doc in August we should all be dancing with glee that he received such a great job offer after very little looking.

I'm not feeling so lucky at this exact moment since I just checked weather.com and found out that it's 35 degrees in Virginia and there's a "wintry mix". Somehow I don't think they're talking about a medley of holiday songs.

We will be so sad to leave Pasadena. We love our little house with its happy, colorful walls and bountiful lemon tree and spacious backyard into which we poured a lot of blood, sweat and tears. We have friends and a life here. WE HAVE SUNSHINE, like almost ALL THE TIME. Moving is going to feel like ripping off a limb, with all the tendons and bones and gristle just left hanging there. With blood spurting and severed muscles fibers twitching...... oh sorry, were you about to eat something?

So instead of thinking too much about the emotional effects of this impending move, we are slowly, slowly starting to work on the physical aspects of moving, the OH GOD HOW DID WE ACQUIRE THIS MUCH STUFF part of the move. It feels good to go through closets and get rid of clothes that just aren't right. Every time I put something in the give-away pile, I imagine our moving bill, our proverbial load, OUR LIVES being lighter. But the actual move is too far away to REALLY purge the big stuff so I'm not exactly sure what significance my meager Goodwill pile really has.

I'm giving away the shoes I got married in. They are $40 Hush Puppies heels that I got at Shoe Pavillion. I don't think I need to keep them anymore.

I'm giving away clothes that I KNOW won't look good on me after two babies. It's just not worth the pain.

I'm going through toiletries and trying to use them up. (Now THIS is a truly pressing, deeply useful thing, don't you think? Who needs to find a preschool for Zoe for the fall or a house for all of us or figure out how we're going to pay for anything once we sell this house at a LOSS when I have two year old conditioner that I really ought to scrape out of its container and bandaids that need to be organized?)

I'm going through our bookshelf and trying to be brutal. I can keep it if: (1) I have read it and LOVED it and enjoy rereading/lending it to others/standing near it in the hope that some of its beauty and wisdom oozes onto me. (2) I have yet to read it but always glance at it and say "Oh yeah! I keep meaning to pick that up!". (3) I use it as a reference tool.

Out are: Books that someone gave me but I have no interest in reading. Books that I read but didn't like (why oh why do I keep them around anyway?). Books that I haven't read but really, HONESTLY never will.

Oh OH and we're seriously considering chucking our cd jewel cases and getting those cd wallets. We are clearly ready to move NOW right?!

1/8/09

I don't know you but I feel you

At the airport on the way to Virginia for four days, I wait in the security line to hand over my ID and boarding pass. In front of me, a well-tanned mother stands, arms crossed, next to her teenage daughter who clutches her boarding pass and glares in her mother's general direction. I cannot hear their whole conversation but the rhythm is powerfully familiar. Mother: plaintive, tentative question. Teenager: *pause for maximum power* *glare* *eye-roll* jeez-mom-why-are-you-so-lame-type response.

I wince and inch back to give them some space but they are right in front of me and I am riveted by their body language, their facial expressions. Did I do that as a teenager? (Yes, I most surely did.) Will Zoe do that when she's that age? (Yes, she most surely will.) Will they hug and kiss and say goodbye with tenderness and love?

No, no they didn't.

--------------------------

The plane has leveled off and I'm sweaty with anticipation, dying to hold my daughter after almost four days away from her. I gaze over across the aisle at a mother and her two teenage sons. The oldest has crammed his long legs under him and is slumping over, a baseball hat and bouncy orange curls almost totally obscuring his face. The other son, a few years younger, lays his orange haired head on the tray table in front of him and his mother looks down at him. She pauses and then tenderly, slowly, she strokes his hair, as if asking: "Can I still do this?".

He lets her. Or, he is already asleep.

----------------------------

At Zoe's school today, we leave a few minutes after another family: the mother, the older brother and Zoe's classmate Cara. I do not know this mother, though as the Room Parent (why yes it IS capitalized!) I really should. She looks tired today, though and I use that as my TOTALLY VALID excuse not to introduce myself. As we arrive at our car, Zoe points out that "Cara's getting in her car too!" and I look over at their car to see the mother kneeling in the road by the open backseat door, taking a deep breath and putting her hand to her forehead in what looks like total exasperation and frustration. I'm about to look away when her eyes suddenly meet mine. We both look away; I don't know who's more embarrassed.

I vow to introduce myself next time.

-----------------------------

One of the middle aged brothers who've been squatting off and on in the shack on their parents' old property at the end of our block has been walking around our neighborhood again. I see him and his brother using a garden hose to wash their clothes on warm days and new tarps have been thrown up on their roof as they ready for more rains. He and his girlfriend (wife?) sometimes wave, sometimes glare at me when I pass by them and I feel the constant, uneasy tension of my relative wealth and comfort living so close to ...... what cannot be very comfortable.

The man, his girlfriend and their three little kids (OMG do they ALL sleep in that shack? Did he really go to prison? ARE THOSE KIDS OKAY!?!?!) are walking down the sidewalk this afternoon as I drive up to the stop sign. I have to wait for traffic to clear so I peek over at them. The littlest is in his mother's arms and she lifts his bottom up to her nose to sniff, makes a face at what she finds and shakes her head, smiling.

I smile down into my lap in recognition. I guess we mothers all do the butt sniff.

1/7/09

I'll have perfected my "going off" explanation by the time you're a toddler

Dear Lima Bean,

I know you think we are ignoring you, stuck, silent, in my womb, no pregnancy books being read and followed for your well being, no long gushing journal entries being written in your honor. I'm sorry for that.

You see, you have an older sister. An older sister who has decided that the fire alarm going off the other night when I was baking a pasta dish was the most confusing, terrifying, HORRIBLE thing ever and we've had to relive the whole thing MANY MANY times and re-explain MANY MANY times how "going off" actually means "turning on and making horrible sounds" and then we ALL get confused about the oddities of the English language. And this kind of thing is just plain exhausting and overtakes everything else (you try cooking ANYTHING when your toddler is screaming, covering her ears and crying "NO ALARM! I DON'T LIKE THE ALARM!" even though she watched Daddy take the frickin' batteries out of the smoke alarm with her own eyes and all you're doing is making a COLD sandwich, FOR THE LOVE.)

You see what I mean? I try to write about you and how you are kicking me right now- a little low and to the left, so gentle and sweet and it reminds me that you are there, growing and getting bigger every day- but I can't focus on you for too long as there is this big sister here who needs me so much (who is, incidentally, currently NOT NAPPING and making rattling sounds like the entire contents of her drawers are being emptied as I type). This will be a fact of your existence. I fear you will always have only my divided attention. I don't imagine you and I will have much of the endless lovey eye-gazing that Zoe and I had early on in her life. I don't imagine that I will spend hours writing to and about just you. I don't imagine you will have even half the attention I gave to her and would love to give to you too.

Have I told you that I suck at multitasking? I want to apologize for that right now. Because I think it means that you will be getting short shrift from the very beginning. Every mother of two tells me that I should "ignore the baby and pay attention to the toddler". How sad is that?

The best I can hope for is that you won't know what you're missing.

My mother says "every child should be a second child" and though I think she probably doesn't repeat this to my first- born brother, I think what she means is that it's a blessing to not be hovered over. To have an older sibling to dilute the attention. To have parents who have been around the block a bit and won't freak out over every 100 degree fever or slight "delay" in milestone reachage.

I know that one day, before you know it, before we're "ready", you will come out ("froo the birf canal!" as Zoe says) and we will find a new normal, a new way of being as a family. I hear that my heart will magically expand and we all will adjust with time and one day we'll all forget that there was a time when you didn't exist.

Love,

your Clueless But Hopeful Mama

ps. Hopefully we'll get around to deciding on your name one of these days, since Lima Bean would look mighty funny on the birth certificate (not to mention how funny it would sound yelled out at the playground).

1/4/09

What I got for Christmas

I got a lot of great things for Christmas. The first and best? Every family member present for the holidays (CG, me, Zoe, my in-laws, my sister-in-law and her husband) spent our whole trip to Arizona WELL. As in, NOT SICK. How crazy great is that? (Though we did run out to the drugstore for a thermometer on our second day in Arizona because Zoe was so whiny and fussy and WAH THE TAG THAT YOU ALREADY CUT OUT OF MY SHIRT STILL HUUUURRRTTTSSSS MEEEEE, we were sure it HAD to be a fever. As it turns out, it was just your run of the mill toddler INSANITY.)

On to the actual gifts!

CG gave me this AWESOME camera bag.

It's perfect. Not too big, not too small. Could even make a good diaper bag in a pinch!

My in-laws gave me beautiful pearl hoop earrings that I love and have worn since Christmas day.

My sister-in-law and her husband gave me this inspiring book, among other things, and I hope it magically transforms me into the best crafty sew-master you've ever seen. Or at least spurs me to unpack that new sewing machine that I got for my birthday.

From the hearts of many, many loved ones, there is a new STACK of books to taunt me from the bedside table as I fall asleep after reading just a few pages of my current book.

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And then sucky, sucky Santa Claus (no, I don't really blame him and yes, we told Zoe all about him and we ALL enjoyed the tale) gave me the lump of coal I feared was coming: my father has lung cancer. We hope the doctors have caught it early. We hope they know what they're doing. We hope for a quick, easy battle with this nasty scourge. (MAN, it sucks.)



#2 on the "Before Leaving California" checklist

(Who knew I'd be so on top of this checklist anyway? And if you try to intimate I might be cheating by not sharing the checklist ahead of time, which clearly means there is no actual checklist, you're almost right. There is a checklist. In my head.)

#2: Have total, real, random celebrity sighting.

We've been in Southern California for over three years now. I've stood in line three people behind Tori Spelling at a coffee shop. I've been out to breakfast and spied the dim-witted brother on My Name Is Earl chowing down on some eggs with, what I have to guess was, his family. I've been out to dinner and been told that David Hasselhoff was JUST there, and OH he really enjoyed the pork chop.

But today totally takes the cake and I can now officially cross this one off the list. This morning, at the old timey carousel in Griffith Park, we walked by none other than K-Fed and his boys (and a couple of nannies, of course). Now if that isn't L.A. I don't know what is!

1/2/09

#1 on the "Before Leaving California" checklist

#1. Take Zoe to watch the Rose Parade, in person, on the grandstands.


(Stomping to the marching bands with your ladybug purse: TOTALLY NECESSARY.)

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