Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Things I have learned from four days of bubba's explosive diarrhea

  1. I really prefer the regular poop.
  2. I thought I had too many pants for him? I really don't.
  3. Pedialyte is really %$# expensive.
  4. Diarrhea> long naps of course with mama because so so clingy> bursts of energy at night> tired mama> little time for my precious blog. (Those are "arrows," not "greater thans.")
  5. There are germs all over my house. I think I can see them. Get them! Eww!
  6. Thank the Lord in Heaven for washing machine in my house. (Remind me to tell you sometime about Jeff's grandmother who raised six (SIX!) kids in the mountains with cloth diapers and no washing machine. Bless her. She's a little wacky now, and I say you can be as wacky as you want after that. Especially if there was a diarrheal illness thrown in. She shoulda had a blog.)
  7. First week of husband's new job with long hours and longer commute is not the best week for mean ol' virus to attack my bubba.
  8. Some circumstances call for early opening of Halloween candy (for quality control purposes) and serious consideration to turning off all lights and having it for dinner.
  9. See #1.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

What I can't leave home without

This is for Fun Monday, hosted this week by Candid Karina.

These are the things I feel funny leaving home without:

Keys. This is obvious. But all it takes is locking yourself out once, and you get this weird sixth sense of feeling naked without them. I've heard (ahem). Plus I'm proud of my extensive collection of supermarket swipey discount things. It represents all the places I've lived (who in the Northwest has heard of Harris Teeter? Seriously.)

Planner. Honestly, I'm such a dork, I know. But I would be lost without this. I used to have, like, a perfect memory. Ha! It didn't last. Now if I don't write it down, I don't do it. I even write down TV shows I want to see (America's Next Top Model, ferinstance. Anyone else think that Heather is going to win?)

Lip balm. Addict. Need to know where it is at all times. Silently freak out when don't.

Cell phone. Now this one I could do without. But I have a baby, and thus my head fills with all kinds of things-that-could-go-wrong, all the time. So I totally pat myself (I know) or my purse as I'm leaving so I'm sure I have it. Incidentally, I have a secret plan to upgrade to an iPhone, so if something should "happen" to my phone, well, let's just say things "happen." Then I would worship my iPhone. I would check email all the time. I would listen to music, and take pictures of hip ironic city scenes. I would be in a whole 'nother sphere of coolness (imagine!). And my phone would be way way at the top of the list. Oh worldly worldiness.

Wallet. Because how much would it SUCK to have to make all those calls to the credit card companies, and the trip to the driver's license place, and etc etc, to replace all that stuff? Besides, it still has the piece of paper that my man first gave me his number on. Hubba hubba.

Not in the picture, but on the honor roll of things I feel naked without:
My wedding ring.
My baby. He's always with me, so when he's not, it's like...where is he?
A hat in summer. I'm a bit of a sun protection zealot, plus my eyes can't take the sun.

But you can see I'm stretching here. So here ends the list of things I can't leave home without. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Proud papa

So in my other life, the one where people know what I look like (and I have to wear clothes and brush my hair and stuff). I see men with prostate cancer in a clinic. I talk with them for awhile, enroll them in a research study, wait until they are done talking to the surgeon, and then talk with them a little more.

It's mostly really upsetting, because they have cancer. Cancer sucks. I know it's supposed to make you see your priorities right, appreciate the squirrels on your windowsill, seize the day and all that. And for some people I think that does happen. These are the ones who say "cancer is the best thing that ever happened to me." But in years of working with people with cancer, I can tell you that it sure doesn't always. It tears families apart. It sends husbands who can't handle a sick wife with no hair into the arms of another woman. It causes depression, pain, and poverty, and the treatment can be worse than the disease. And it all might be for nothing if the treatments don't work.

But recently? There was this gentleman. He really was a gentleman, too. And yall, these guys have to make hard decisions, about prostate cancer. To get major surgery that you might not even need that causes terrible side effects (impotence? incontinence?), radiation that could ruin your chances for surgery, to do nothing at all and hope you die from something else. It's a hard time all around. So there he was, and his two grown-up sons were there with him to talk with the doctors and help support his decision. He was kind, generous, and open, and his sons were too. One had flown across the country for this appointment.

I don't remember what we talked about, and I haven't seen him since. What I remember is that he was so so SO proud and happy that his sons were with him that I don't think his head could fit through the door. I seriously wondered in that moment whether he even cared he had cancer at all, basking as he was in the support of his sons. It was so sweet that I wanted to cry.

And you know, I get it. I have a son. And should he grow up healthy and whole, to love others, to be kind, that alone would be like winning the mama lottery. And should he choose to be with me through a dark night of the soul that cancer surely brings, I really think life would have all been worth it. This is not to say that we should raise children to take care of us, or that they owe us anything. In fact, seeing these men give so freely to their dad is what made it all the sweeter to see, for me as an observer and for sure for the dad.

I don't know how my chances are to cash in on some of that bubba love if I pull shenanigans like posting a picture of his first baby hawk on the internet....but can't. Resist. Must. Hit. Publish. Now.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Why do I blog?

So why I'm doing this blog is something I've been reflecting on lately, a few months into this adventure.

It was on my radar to begin with because I like to write. It's cathartic. It's creative. It helps me think things through. I used to be EMPLOYED as a medical writer, but I wrote about different treatments for different types of cancer. You know what? This is more fun. Less useful, more fun.

Speaking of useful, I think blogging really must save lives, prevent depression, all that. To connect with others from your couch. If I was home with Bubba all the time? Dude! This would be a lifeline, no joke.

Perhaps the kick start to start this blog was because I wanted an anonymous forum in which to vent about my life. It didn't seem appropriate to email even my closest friends about what my mothers' group was up to, or my in-laws and their insane situation and its effects on us, or OH MY HEAVENS BEING A MOTHER IS SO GREAT. But now that I'm into things here, it doesn't seem right to do too much uncensored venting. Sure, there is the possibility that my cover could be blown right at the moment that I post something negative about someone who bothers me. But I kind of like being semi-identifiable. My favorite blogs are usually the ones that are the most personal and reveal at least a little something. But, surprise to me, even more I like to feel like my assessments are fair and not just complainy. And writing helps me do that.

So trash-talking is out (yay, me!). Which leaves me with....fame and fortune? I'm still "building" my readership. Which is HARD WORK, yall! Marketing, commenting, designing, reading, writing, editing. In my precious evening hours after bubba is in bed, I don't read novels anymore. Cleaning? Really any excuse is ok not to do that. Just checking out other people's blogs, trying to comment, hoping others do the same. Maybe I will get better at this with time.

So what it's all about lately? I want people to read my stuff! I am sad when I don't get readers. I'm thrilled when I do. Connecting with people I've never met, there's something special about that. And at the end of the day, I'm still doing this because I like to write.

Friday, October 19, 2007

In which they call my bubba a toddler and I freak out

So at the orphanage where I take my bubba three days a week, there are three infant rooms, each of staggered ages. Bubba is the oldest baby in the middle class, and they want to transition him to be the youngest in the next class up, which will be transitioning to the toddler room in November.

One of their things is that they keep the classes together and don't separate the kids based on their reaching of milestones. But...but! They say H is so advanced for his age that he will be more at home with the older class. I think it's a bunch of hooey, that he's right where he should be and not advanced at all (though I admit to puffing up a bit at this appeal to my parental vanity. My child is a genius!). He's not walking, or even standing on his own, and shows no motivation to do so. Also, both J and his brother were big babies and were into the 'average' range by the second year (and neither walked till 15 months). I think that because H's body is big (96th %tile) they are assuming he can do more than he can.

So I'm talking all this smack, to friends and family and now to the internet. But I'm scared to tell them that I want to keep him in his infant class (which will go to toddler room in June). I'm all second-guessing my instincts, and worrying about what they will think of me, etc etc. Worrying that they are right and that he will get bored and start hitting his classmates (one of the things they say might happen).

J is all, just tell them no, don't give them a reason so they can't try to convince you again. Good idea and all, hope I can do it. I guess it's good to have these parenting decisions to make early on, practice for later with SCHOOL and everything. So not ready for that.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Operation Dude I Think We Better Get iPhones I Don't Know What's Wrong With Mine I Think It's Just Getting Old or Something (shrug)

Happy mama, healthy baby

OK, this is totally not as creative as my last post, but important. In my other life as a researcher, I found this article today, recently published in the journal Health Economics. Here is the abstract:

"There is a growing literature showing an association between higher family income and better child health. This paper uses cohort data with rich information on mother's early life events, her health, child-health-related behaviours, and her child's health to examine this association for the UK and to identify some of the mechanisms through which income affects child health. The paper examines the cross-sectional association between income and health, finds the expected association, but concludes that the association with current income cannot be distinguished from one between permanent income and child health. It then focuses on the mechanisms by which income translates into better child health; these include parental behaviours that may affect child health and parental health, including maternal mental health. Controlling for these factors, there is almost no direct impact of income. A significant role is played by mother's own health, particularly her mental health. No clear role is played by child-health production behaviours of the mother. Examining the maternal mental health-child health link in more detail suggests a role for maternal anxiety and somaticism."

More evidence for the "happy mother, happy baby" hypothesis, and more reason for us mama types to take good care of ourselves!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

In which I emerge from frogland to find my prince

So I was in A Bad Relationship. Yall may have dated this one yourselves? Dashing mysterious lone charmer type, begging to be tamed. Like this character in Legends of the Fall, only not as hot. And no ranch.

It was sooo good at first. He made sweet love to me and said he loved me right away. Well, technically he didn’t really say that, what he really said was that I reminded him of someone he really loved once. But for sure he really meant that he loved me. Deep down. You know. He just needed me to be, well, just perfect every second, and then his full potential would come out! And hoo boy, I was going to be there to bask in all that realized potential.

Oh, you know him too? Refusal to let me go and refusal to commit, vague promise-like suggestions that perhaps if I would try a little harder maybe we could have a future. And try I did. I was a dancing bear! New restaurant! Artsy movies! Camping trip! Travel! Drink! Fun! I don’t have any needs, no siree! Just fun-loving and fancy free, you can always count on that. Jeepers, I was tired. That man used me up.

After a series of breakups that lasted about a minute each I finally started to sense through the fog that just maybe I could have something better. Maybe it was the emails I found to his ex-girlfriend planning a trip together, or the porn that he viewed on my computer, or when he made a pass at another woman at a party at my own house. Or any other of the BIG HUGE ENORMOUS SIGNS that he was waving frantically in front of my face that all said NO NOT ME DON’T LOVE ME STAY AWAY RUN FAST AWAY FROM HERE. I’m smart and all but those signs were in some kind of weird code that I couldn’t decipher, blinded as I was by his staggering potential.

Ever so slowly, I started to regain my life. I moved to another city, knowing I was not strong enough to leave him if I stayed and getting (finally) that he would keep me around as long as I would stand him. I got some religion. I got some therapy. And I started to picture what I wanted instead: someone kind, trustworthy, and who thinks about things. And I wanted a family, a marriage, the richness of a settled life. I wanted a break from the dancing bear. Oh my heavens, I wanted that.

I started practicing karate. It really might not be understating it to say that it saved me. I found my insides. I scraped them right up off the floor and built them a home in my body.

Through the magic of facing another in sparring I faced my own fears. Being alone? Fine. Am I secretly an idiot? No! I yelled, kicked, and punched my way to a wobbly but sure peace. I found kind, gentle people who accepted me as is. And not least, many (most) of them were men and NONE of them wanted anything from me. (You can see where this is going, right? Famous last words.)

But I still hadn’t ended it with Brian.

In August I went with my dojo to special training, a regional karate camp where you practice hard for three days with no distractions. I was a total beginner, a white belt way down at the end of the line of 80 or so people. And the guy next to me was too. He was a tall, gangly fellow with a scraggly red beard in the Abe Lincoln/Amish style and a scraggly ponytail. He had some pretty ripe body odor once practices were underway. We made jokes and giggled as we lined up for practices. At one of the meals he sat with me and told me about how he was in music school, had just graduated from college, was working for some researcher on a study that was using computers to simulate the eye of a fly (who can see in a bajillion directions at once, plus sonar, or something?). And he was kind and gentle, and he listened to me. I didn’t flirt. I didn't dance. I just was.

I thought, now this is more like it. A guy like this is what I want. Not this one—because really! This goofy guy who doesn’t wear deodorant? Four years younger than me? Who lives far away in Boston? Whatever. But a guy *like* him, that was who I wanted. We said goodbye and I went back to my life in North Carolina. Armed with the new certainty that there were men *like* the one I wanted in the world, I ended it with Brian a few weeks later.

It sucked, but I was strong. I stayed away. I was alone except for a brief interlude that can only be called a rebound fling. Life got so good and quiet and calm that I was thrilled at the thought of being a spinster cat lady for life.

Still I practiced. The following February, I went to another special training. And that guy? He was there again. Turns out his name was Jeff and he hadn’t forgotten me either. This time we exchanged email addresses. An email friendship ensued, and then some very, very long phone calls in which I could not stop grinning. There were visits. A long-distance roller-coaster relationship. We married. And now:

So the guy *like* the one I wanted? I sleep beside him every night. Yay! The dancing bear is long gone except as a ghost who lovingly reminds me once in awhile of the bullet I dodged and of the blessings I now have. I just am, and we just are. And now we are three.

This is an entry for Fun Monday hosted by from the planet of janet.

A few notes: That's not me practicing karate in the photo. And in looking for a photo of a dancing bear, I found that this is a very disturbing practice that is still going on in parts of the world. In some ways it describes my experience even better, knowing that. But the animals! So I couldn't possibly put a photo of a tortured majestic animal in my post. It seems that Dancing Bear is also the hero of a Native American warrior story, hence the photo of the sculpture.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Aloha Friday

I'm playing again, thanks to An Island Life:

What is your favorite quality in your spouse/significant other/dream partner?

Mine is honesty. My man is Mr. George Washington and the Cherry Tree, and it's a pain sometimes, but in the end I always know I can trust him.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

In which we are total pansies and buy a pre-picked pumpkin from the pumpkin patch

But, but, was raining! Not like a gentle caressing Pacific Northwest drizzle. Like a real life RAIN. I mean, *I* would be up for a scrum against all the other city people for the best pumpkin, but really? A 10 month old? Muddy? Cold?

Did I mention seriously raining?

And the pumpkins looked so pretty! Me like pretty pumpkins....

But hey, remember my country living fantasy? We found a property out there near the pumpkin patch! A farmhouse, next to the river. Land. I don't think we will look seriously at that one. All sorts of real life things enter in when we talk about it too long. Commutes. Price of gas. Nora going out of her mind being stuck in the country with a baby. Flood plains. Lack of take-out restaurants. But it seriously got us thinking and talking about working toward a more rural lifestyle. J was even calculating commutes and mortgage payments. So maybe when our real life next house (we are looking) comes along we will be ready to take the plunge. Make the change. See the cow says moo for our own selves and not from a board book.

Meanwhile, this kid has seriously conquered his pumpkin, no? The pesky matter of who trudged into the field for it (probably on some glorious sunny day) will be erased by history.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

In which a broken fridge inspires reflection on breastfeeding and adoption

So our fridge/freezer went on the blink last week. We lost everything. The first thing most mothers I know asked? No, I did not have a freezer full of "backup" breast milk. I never made enough milk to have any backup. I never even made enough to feed my newborn 8 pound baby exclusively, an experience which was surprisingly and really really traumatic, clearly reflective of my FAILURE as a mother and the definitive evidence that I am the fraud I know myself to be. Because if I were out on the savannah or on the tundra somewhere a million years ago, my bubba wouldn't have survived, or I would have had to let my sister (little Miss Milky OverMcProducerPants) nurse him. I guess it took my freezer shutting down to make me just the littlest, tiniest bit thankful that I didn't have a big backup supply to lose.

(What am I complaining about, anyway? I'm still nursing at 10 months, yay me! Bubba is blissfully unaware of his near-perishing out on the tundra because of my deficiencies and giggles with joy every time he sees my boobies.)

So, the contents of my fridge on the way to the compost:

Which of course we must do here in Seattle, I think it's even against the law not to. This doesn't include the dairy products, most of which went down the toilet (eww), or the meat, which went in the trash. But we recycled most of the containers, and all in all not a huge amount of trash. All is fixed now, thanks to Victor from AAA Able appliance repair company, and in the end we were without for 3 days before we got the all-clear to restock the fridge.

But, you know? Life is hard without a fridge. Surprisingly disruptive. Like camping in my own house. It's oddly comforting to know that there is mayonnaise should I need it, a comfort I only pause to think about when it is gone.

Here, better than spoiled food:

This afternoon we were at a back-to-school party and two of the guests are a couple whose adopted son is 3 now. The way they got him? The birth mom wanted to do adoption, the birth dad did not. But the birth dad never came to the hospital. So the birth mom waited, and cared for the baby for TWO DAYS in the hospital and when the dad never came she called the adoption agency for my friends to complete the adoption. I think I would die. Really. I'm thrilled my friends got a baby to love and raise. But it makes me want to make this world better, you know? So fewer women who have babies have to be in situations so bad that calling an adoption agency after two days (two days! I was so in love at two days I couldn't be away from him for a second) is the best choice available.

But I digress. Here's to refrigeration! And to boobies! The ones that make 10 course meals and the ones that "just" make a giggly happy trickle of dessert, and everything in between. And the ones that cushion a heart that shatters every day because the bubba your body made has a new mommy.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Women rock!

So I am graduating in June, and looking for something to do next. J is switching jobs here in Seattle, and so for the first time in my adult life I am not willing to move anywhere for a great job. I get email announcements all the time about postdocs in exotic foreign lands (Europe, Africa just today), the exciting and dynamic Northeast corridor of my youth (DC, PA, NC). I spent my 20s trouncing all over the place from one cool job to the next, so this is a change of pace, and has been very hard for me to do, trusting that life will still be good even if I'm not chasing a job.

But for the first time, I have put family first (rather I have a family to put first), and decided to stay here and make it work. And if I don't get something? I have bubba. Really. Win-win, right? It's so amazing to me, how standing your ground seems to make things move in the right direction (ask me the story of my wedding sometime). Because as soon as I brought my focus here, to Seattle and family, I have some very rich possibilities for after graduation. Mostly opportunities facilitated by my female professors who have families themselves, and get it.

So anyway, I met today with one of my favorite professors, who has invited me to join her grant as an investigator. And doing so would probably "require" me to get (yay!) some sort of university appointment. It would be doing projects that are way cool and that I am trained for. And it would be part time. Seriously, if I could imagine the perfect post-graduation setup? It's pretty much that. It might not happen, of course. The project might not be funded. I might find something else. Etc etc. But it COULD. And to have advocates that support my decision, it's huge.

Do you have a story of a great teacher or mentor that helped you at a critical point?