Monthly Archives: January 2012

The Fringe Curtains

When I am in Chicago, as I am usually once a year or so, I like to stay at The Hotel Palomar since they have ridiculously nice bathtubs. You have now all learned something important about me.

Anyway, the Hotel Palomar has special significance for Julia and I because we had our baby celebration there back when we were only 4-5 months pregnant. During that weekend, my sister fell in love with the fringe curtains in the lobby lounge and insisted we take photos in front of them. The tradition sort of stuck:

April 2010, 4 months pregnant (I miss you, waistline!!)

November 2010

January 2012

Confessions: 3 days alone

I wonder if this recipe will work with Zanax?

I am such a weak and pathetic parent.

My husband had to go out of town for 3 days for a Nerd Conference (aka “Canadian Law and Society Association Mid-Winter Conference”) and I was going to be home, alone with my toddler. Who is sick. And I feel crummy.

But still. You think I’d be able to handle it.

I haven’t broken down and locked her in her room and started drinking or anything, but I’m sure as hell not performing much “quality” parenting. We did some painting, she took baths, we even went to story-time at the Library. I’m about to lose my freaking mind. She is just SO WHINY. It’s like she knows I’m about to crack and she just really wants to see what my molten-lava core looks like.

I know us whiners say this all the freaking time, but I don’t know how single parents do it. Or military parents who have long stretches of being the only one at home. I guess maybe when you no longer expect that evening reprieve from the constant demands, you just adapt? My guess is that adaptation is painful and probably shouldn’t be done over one lifetime. If I was put under this environmental pressure, I’d probably naturally select myself out of existence.

I haven’t showered in 2 days. I am losing against the dishes in the sink. I left the laundry downstairs in the dryer for 8 hours. The cat constantly reminds me that I haven’t fed him anywhere close to the appointed times. And on top of this, it’s my husbands birthday when he gets home, so I am trying to make him a nice dinner and a cake.

Right now, the cake is okay, despite the BEST team efforts of my daughter and I to ruin it. First, I was distracted and didn’t read the recipe close enough, thus totally skipping the part where you have to melt the cocoa in hot water before adding it to the eggs and sugar that I also failed to whisk until “fluffy.” I sort just dumped everything into one bowl. Then, I read the recipe steps and went, “oh, crap.” I just stirred it all together, added the hot water and hoped. It was still really goopy. Oh, wait, I forgot the milk. After the milk, it was better. But while I was putting a hot pan off the stove, my daughter decided to dump her entire sippy cup of milk (about 3/4 cup) into the batter. I tried to pour some off, but most had soaked in.

I got the batter in the pan, in the oven, took my kid out of the kitchen before she could get any MORE batter on the floor by “helping,” and about 10 minutes later realized that I had not set a timer nor looked to see what time it was when I put the cake into the oven. I used my best judgement. Oh, and after the cake was “done,” I realized the oven was set to the wrong temperature the whole time.

I covered the whole thing in some amazing ganache and it was surprisingly fine, considering all that it had been through.

I, on the other hand, may never recover. There should totally be a word (most likely German) for the anger and despair one experiences over trying to do something and failing because one is distracted by one’s child and also trying to do several other things at the same time.

Those boxes…

You may remember that it was one of my resolutions (“Resolved”) that I would finally tackle the two giant boxes (more like trunks) of papers and odds/ends that I have been dragging around for several years.

Well, I started. It was not as truly awful as I expected. At some point in the frenzy of pre-moving while I was in NYC and oh-so-pregnant, I must have done some serious organizing. Other people got to “nest,” I got to pack. Nesting sounds so much more relaxing.

What I did not expect was the little trip down memory lane I would be forced to take as I sorted things into piles by year and tossed out things I no longer needed/wanted/ever wanted to see again. I found wedding invitations from friends, cards, tickets, programs, receipts, postcards, student IDs, diplomas, lab notes, solution recipes, campaign stickers, magazine clippings, newspaper clippings, one of my favorite issues of The Onion (“Christian Right Lobbies to Overturn the Second Law of Thermodynamics”), and so many photos. And this is not including the 4 foot stack of notes/homework/exams from my college classes (which I haven’t gotten to yet).

I had not really forgotten about all the stuff I did, but in stark contrast with the life I’m currently leading one thing was perfectly clear to me: I used to really go out! Wow. I went to THREE operas in Feb 2006. Three! I probably had dinner and drinks before all of them. Maybe even dessert after. That luxurious use of time seems so distant to me now.

I’m not really whining about it (okay maybe a little), I just was extremely struck by how much the notion of time (and disposable income) has changed since having a baby, moving, and going back to academia. I miss opera. I miss shows, restaurants, fundraisers, spontaneous trips, and I miss the high heels I probably wore for most of these. But more than these, I miss my friends who are all far away and who’s weddings were so lovely that it seems a shame that I only got to go to them once. And most of all, I miss the people who are gone forever. I miss them for myself and I miss them for my daughter who will only know them through my memory and the things left in those boxes.

Judgy Julia Alert

Gone Judgin'

Gone Judgin'

 

A lifetime ago at my previous company, in order to avoid doing actual work, I immersed myself into the world of social media. I tweeted, I vlogged and I attended a few events on behalf of my corporate overlord. This by far and away beat actually doing things that were in my actual job description for which I was actually collecting a paycheck. Score 1 for Julia! One of the less useful things I learned while avoiding my job was a bunch of social media jargon. And like a veteran suffering from PTSD, these super-jargony idiotic terms sometimes float to the top of my conscience and sit there irritating me until I am compelled to use them.

So, mind if I crowd-source something?

An acquaintance of mine has a daughter, roughly the same age as my son. She is raising her a polyglot, speaking eight languages, including five that neither she nor her husband speak. The plan includes scheduled tutors and classes and videos.

Judgy Julia thinks that’s an extremely admirable and noble endeavor that is surely coming from a place of wanting to give your child all of the world’s best opportunities. It’s also kind of insane, right? Isn’t there like a zillion things which a 1.5 year old could do and learn in any given day that is arguably better than learning eight languages simultaneously?

All Quiet on the Stomach Front

I'm going to do you a favor and spare you the other visuals...

I’m taking a quick moment to summarize my last 20 hours.

Around 6pm yesterday, my kid (who had been acting slightly grumpy) totally projectile vomited all over herself, me, and several other things. After a bath and a snuggle, she did it again.

She was totally exhausted but also hungry. I let her eat a 1/2 cup of pasta shells with no sauce around 8pm. She threw them up an hour later. At 10pm, I finally got her to nurse and go to bed. She woke up and threw up again, on me, on the bed (completely missing most of the towel I put her on), on my pillow. The cat got out just in time. This was around 2am?

I thought we might be in the clear when she slept off and on from like 2-7am without any incidents, but she threw up again at 7. Also, she had a fever. I called her doctor’s office who just sent me along to 811, the public “want a nurse to tell you what you really need to do?” line. They were pretty helpful, surprisingly.

Thankfully, 7am was the end of the vomit. She has been able to keep liquids and some pancakes down today. However, she has been totally MISERABLE. She’s also getting her canines in and so add to her gastric distress the agony in her mouth. She refuses to be anywhere but attached to me. She is either crying, nursing, or sleeping (mostly on me). She doesn’t want to play, read, or even watch videos!

My husband, to his credit, has laundered more bedding than anyone should be expected to do in a 24 hour period unless one is a professional. My back is killing me and we are both pretty tired. I don’t know how people handle this when there are multiple sick kids in one house, as tends to happen with these stomach viruses. I feel like I haven’t had my hands free all day.

I can only hope she can sleep it off tonight and that tomorrow will be only mildly unpleasant. Here’s to low expectations!

Of Parties and Schemes

No more fancy hats, mom. Someday I will be able to utter this thought and you'll have to listen.

Is it crazy that I have already mentally planned my daughter’s 3rd Birthday party? She’ll be a year and half at the end of next month, so I understand if you are like “well, a little crazy.”

But I figure that I only have a couple more of the kid’s birthdays where I get to choose the concept and things. Pretty soon, she’ll be demanding “Dora the Explorer” parties or whatever kids will be into in 2014. And I’ll basically have no say in the tastefulness and creativity of the idea.

I enjoy planning parties. I really do. I like to think I’m not too bad at it. My sister and I have hosted a themed party every summer for the last several years and when the baby came along in August, it seemed natural that our summer party became her birthday party. And I know that Julia might think I’m far to into all of this for my own good, but I can tell you that she’s no stranger to the elegantly executed event. She’s just faster at banging out the stunning results than I am. I like to procrastinate and ruminate.

And more than anything, I like coming up with fantastic party ideas. It’s what I do during the long hours of sitting in a dark room putting my baby to sleep or back to sleep. I think of cool party concepts. Is there something wrong with that? What do you do? Try to recite Shakespeare? Decide on the top 5 albums of the last decade? Invent underhanded compliments? Sums? Mentally reorganize the room? (I do a fair bit of the last one.)

Anyway, I am well on my way to putting the theoretical finishing touches on this summer’s party. I mean, I still have to DO all the things for it, but as least I know what I’m going to do. Knowing is half the battle, right? So, I’m off and running on the 3rd birthday and I think I’ve got a nice concept. Naturally, this made me leap briefly to “I wonder what we could do for her 4th birthday?” I stopped myself. Surely, by then, she’ll have her own opinions. I probably only get the next two to really exert myself. And then it’s “My Little Pony” all the way down.

Unless, she develops a taste for anime….. hmmm….

My complicated relationship with strollers

(Enters the room, greets therapist, lays down on the couch…)

I am very conflicted about strollers right now. I have a kid who weighs enough that carrying her around, especially with one arm, is kind of miserable. And she’s starting to protest being “worn” in her Ergo unless she’s super tired and going to fall asleep.

I’m in a bit of a sticky situation.

(Therapist nods, makes notes.)

I guess this is why they invented strollers, huh?

Sigh.

But you see, I really dislike strollers. I feel kind of abused by them. I used to live in NYC, and when I’d go out there’d be all these GIANT strollers and I was constantly faced with stroller-blockage. One time, in a small shop, I attempted to go down one aisle, failed due to this woman and her massive stroller, so I was perfectly okay to try another aisle. Well, she moved. So, I tried a third and realized she was now completely blocking the check-out and thus the exit. And she was checking out. So, I waited. Even though there was another cashier just beyond her. Well when I finally got over there, she looked at me and said “Sorry.” I just gave a nod, as I was signing the receipt. Well then she got all pissed off and went on a rant. It went something like “well SORRY for ruining your life! I didn’t do anything wrong. But I apologized anyway, and you don’t have to be so rude.” I was kind of shocked and said the only thing that I could think of: “I didn’t say anything…” I hadn’t even given her a dirty look. She was just SO upset that I hadn’t met her “Sorry” with a “oh, no problem! It’s nothing at all!” What I really wanted to ask was “I’m sorry, were they all out of the LARGE strollers, so you had to settle for this small one?”

(Therapist looks up, frowns.)

Well, I’m sorry! I can’t help it. I just kept having these awkward run-ins with “stroller culture,” usually on super tiny sidewalks, shops, or on the subway. I foreswore them. FORESWORE, I tell you…

And having them, sure it’s probably a huge convenience to haul your kid around and your bags. But you have to take elevators or lug them down stairs when there isn’t one. It can’t be fun. I know back pain isn’t fun either, so what choice do we have?

I’ve looked at small ones, easily foldable ones, because god knows I don’t have anywhere in my apartment for even a medium-sized stroller. But they all seem so poorly made. And if you find one that looks like it could handle a Montreal winter, it’s like $250. For a stroller!

I know there are plenty much MUCH more expensive than that, but I just could not possibly justify it for something I’m not going to use all that much, for that long!

(Therapist is about to say something…)

Look, I know what your going to say. Maybe buy a used one, maybe sell it when I’m done, or just be willing to get a cheap umbrella stroller and see how it goes.

There’s something ELSE I haven’t told you. My kid hates being strapped into things. Like really hates. I have only JUST gotten her to be cool with sitting in her highchair at home for longer than 2 minutes. Let’s not even talk about car seats. She always refused to be in her swing when she was little and I think that was a sign. She rode in a stroller once, it did not go well. Maybe it was the circumstances?

Maybe I’m projecting…

(Therapist looks amused. Writes furiously.)

But I just don’t see this relationship working out. Spending money to have something both my kid and I merely tolerate, at best, or at worst, hate. How many more months do I have before she’ll be cool walking places at reasonable pace??

Oh is my time up?

(Therapist nods.)

Shit.

The Preschool Shuffle

Oy-Vey! If you don't nap in your pjs, then you are a capitalist pig!

Over the next few of weeks I am going to be touring some preschools…because in order to get my son into a good preschool at 2 years old, the search must begin at least eight months prior. [slightly audible grumble on the deplorable state of early education access in America] Hi! I’m here to write a fun, non-political Mommy Blog!

One of the preschools I’ll be visiting is at the JCC. The other conducts everything entirely in Russian. My Catholic-raised, mostly-atheist, exclusively-English-speaking, South-Dakota-born husband’s brain may possibly explode.

And yet, somehow, that is not my most anticipated source of entertainment.

You see, the Russian preschool boasts of being like the preschools in the Old Country. By which, they OBVIOUSLY mean that the children take their naps in toddler beds with full bedding while wearing pajamas. This is an actual selling point.

I inquired about the teacher/student ratio and was informed that it was 6:1. Somehow during the tour I absolutely must witness how an adult gets six two-year-olds to change into pajamas and then change back into their regular clothes after the nap is finished. [cue the Mission Impossible theme music]

Cloth diapers rock

BumGenius 4.0: My favorite.

There are a million full-fledged websites out there devoted to the cult world of Cloth Diapering (herein referred to as CDing), so I’m not even going to pretend that I’m any sort of guide on this. But now that I’m nearing the end of my diapering days (Or perhaps this is like a function with limit=0, where it approaches 0 days but never actually reaches it? By now you should no longer need a Nerd Alert for me) I thought I’d at least give you my thoughts on the whole business.

Overall it’s great. You can see why there is a total OBSESSION for CDing among certain types of moms. Not only are there so many options, there are ways to customize, personalize, troubleshoot, perfect, stockpile, and swap–everything that those with Very Mommy Tendencies love to do (or at least feel compelled to do). There are hundreds of companies now with CDing supplies and that’s not even counting all the “mom-preneurs” making diapers/covers to sell on Etsy and the like. If you haven’t seen cloth diapers since the days of diaper pins and plastic pants, it’s come a long, long, way. I get asked questions about this topic pretty frequently from the strangest people, people often with NO future prospects for diapering of any sort (my favorite was the elderly gentleman in a Panera who was simply fascinated by the idea of G-diapers).

I started out intending to use prefolds and covers and have a diaper service who did all the washing. For those of you who don’t know what a “prefold” is, it’s a flat piece of absorbant cotton that you FOLD into a diaper or use as an insert (folded into a rectangle) inside a water-proof cover. The covers usually close with velcro tabs or snaps and come in all kinds of styles, sizes, and patterns. You can use almost any prefold with any cover. This is probably the cheapest way for CDing.

First, I never ended up getting a diaper service because I found that keeping up with my small pail of diapers (usually soaking in cold water with a tiny bit of soap) was not that hard. Even when my daughter was a newborn and going through 8 diapers a day, it wasn’t that bad. I was even handwashing all of them since it didn’t makes sense to run a whole load just to wash a dozen diapers (and they have to be run separately, since you use a special soap).

Also, I eventually started using more and more All-in-one’s (AIOs). There are so, so many kinds of these. I have three: Bum Genius, Rumparooz, and Totbots. AIO’s are one diaper where the absorbant part (usually comes with the diaper) gets placed between the waterproof outside and a fleece-material inner lining. The lining keeps moisture away from the baby’s skin. Even if you use prefolds, you should use a fleece liner on top of them for this purpose. It’s nice to have it already there. I really like AIOs, especially as my daughter got bigger and more mobile, these were so much less bulky and flexible. I also prefer the ones that snap instead of velcro since no matter what I seem to do the velcro rubs on the tops of her legs and leaves redness. These diapers are, of course, more expensive, however, you can always find deals on them online and they really hold their value, so if you treat them right and can keep them mostly stain-free, you can sell them when you’re done. The Facebook Cloth Diaper Swap is a fast-paced and fierce place. I never cease to be amazed at how fast diapers move over there.

There are “hybrid” diapers (like G-diapers or Flips) that allow you to throw out or flush one part (usually the liner) and wash just the cover or sometimes an absorbant insert. I haven’t tried them because washing the inserts is fine with me. I am not all that horrified by touching a dirty diaper. If you are, maybe these diapers are for you.

I have used disposables, mainly Pampers. I use them when I’m traveling or when I’ve been lazy with the laundry. I am not one of the truly militant CDing moms who’s going to lie and tell you that cloth is SO MUCH BETTER ALL THE TIME and that you are poisoning your child with disposables. Yes, there are some kids who react very badly to the materials in disposables. But they are easier, flat out, honest truth. But they are terrible for the environment. Even taking into consideration manufacturing and washing, CDing wins at being greener. I read in “Greeniology” by Tanya Ha (Penguin) this interesting gem and it’s stuck with me:

“In 1567, when James VI, later James I of England, was crowned King of Scotland, he was 13 months old. Had he been wearing disposable diapers, that were tossed into landfills like today, some still would not have decomposed.”

I think if there’s two things that I would like people who are curious about CDing or wanting to make a greener choice, to know, it would be these:

1. Get the good diapers, straight up, the cost isn’t bad over the long term. You don’t have to buy a ton of them, start with just one even, before you decide which type works best for you.

2. You don’t have to commit to 100% CDing. You can go back and forth. You can try different kinds, use them only at home, use them only when you feel like it, or sell them if it doesn’t work out. I think many parents are afraid of CDing because it seems like a huge commitment, but it doesn’t have to be! You get just a few diapers you think seem cool and you can add more later if you want. Every time you use a cloth diaper, that’s one less disposable in a landfill. So it’s a good start.

Sweet, sweet [temporary] freedom

Unsexiness Guaranteed

Last weekend, I got to do something that made me so happy. Yes, I put on makeup and got dressed up. OK, I did go out to dinner with friends and we ate copious amounts of prime rib. Sure, I had a whiskey sour followed by two martinis followed by a glass of wine (and predictably felt like total crap the next day). None of that stuff mattered to me.

Friends, last weekend, for one magical evening, I wore a regular, non-nursing bra. In a color other than beige or black. With lacy stuff on it. And it felt so damn good.

I realize that there are nursing bras that are marginally more attractive than others. Some brands will get fancy with bows and such. I even used to have one that had pink stripes. You can keep your bra sermons to yourselves. All I know is that when I see  – nay, when I simply hear – the click of that damn clasp, I get the major Unsexy Blahs.

When I got home from my magical evening of prime rib and bra adventures, I realized how much I want to completely wean. Please leave full-proof detailed instructions that will not result in my kid throwing tantrums on how to do that in the comments. Thanks much.