Friday, May 26, 2006

A is for Alex and Alligator*

Dani was kind enough to allow me to jump on this meme, in which you list 10 words (give or take) beginning with a certain letter that are important to you and give your reasons why.

A was a harder letter than I expected; I was hoping for B (books, brownies, and babies right there).

But I did ok, if I can cheat a little and use Hebrew words--they're common parlance around here, though, so I think of them as English.

Abba: Hebrew--Aramaic, technically--for father. What we call Taxman around here. My partner in crime. One of Miss M's first signs and one of her first words, too. (Actually it morphed from "Baba!") He's the linchpin keeping us all from freaking out too much.

Apple: Every fall that Taxman and I have been married, we've gone apple picking at this orchard. I had vague memories of doing this as a child in Massachusetts, and back in 2000 he was game to try it. So we went, and it's been an annual event since. We've done it in all kinds of weather--rain, shine, summery, chilly--and love it. We come home with dozens of apples and eat them for weeks. I make apple crisp and apple pie, and Taxman sometimes proposes to me again. He really likes apples and pastry in combination.

Awkward: wish I wasn't, but I am. Especially on the phone (the worst!) or in groups larger than six. I always assume others are attuned to it, but I'm not a social leper so I probably do better than I think.

Acumen: wish I had it. I admire people who do.

Alphabet: The building block of words and speech. The power to read and write at its very foundation. Watching Miss M learn her letters (and now be able to write--half by accident--"M" and "W") is awesome, in the fundamental and inspiring sense, not in the skateboarder sense.

Atlantic: An annual two-week summer trip (nay, pilgrimage) to the Delaware shore with my dad and stepmom (and sister, starting in 1984), plus various family members and friends in an ever-changing cast of characters. I have such solid, good memories from those weeks at the beach. I haven't been to Bethany in, wow, 16 or 17 years, but I can still remember what the sand feels like under my feet just before the sun flickers over the horizon. (Like cool, shifting velvet, if you were interested.) I would love to spend a week there now, but we could never afford it. < sniff >

Aquamarine: my birthstone. A beloved ring I got from my mom and stepdad as a Bat Mitzvah gift; the stone was purchased in India or Hong Kong (I honestly forget which) during one of my stepdad's Asian trips. The color of the water in Virgin Islands, where Taxman and I spent a glorious January week snorkeling all around St. John. And it's a pretty word.

And: Because I am never quite finished.

Actually: Because I am always afraid I am being misunderstood.

American: As much as I am sad/furious/frustrated by what is happening here in so many ways, I am happy to be one because I can safely be sad and furious and frustrated. (Or so says the Constitution, at any rate; the Administration maybe not.) And talk about it. And blog about it. I could even do that under my real name. Every time I vote I feel lucky. Insanely frustrated, but lucky.

* Copyright Two Little Hands Productions, Signing Time Volume 5, blah, blah.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Just curious

I have been working on a meme-post for three days, but can't seem to find the time to finish it! In the meantime, a question:

Has Rachael Ray reached a level of celebrity whereby the New York Times should be spelling her name correctly?

Taxman and I think yes. But we watch a lot of the Food Network, so we might have a skewed perspective. (Then again, she has gotten a lot of airtime on Oprah in the past year.)

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Baby AM is having a needy day. As in, he needs to be held when he is not nursing or sleeping. He is often satisfied to lie in his bouncy seat and stare around for five or ten minutes, but this afternoon he was only ok doing that for about 90 seconds at a time.

So I was guessing that Miss M's bedtime routine (dinner, bath, nursing, bed) would be, uh, difficult.

Here's the IM conversation I had with Taxman about that.

OneTiredEma says:
i really need you to be home for bed, if possible
Taxman says:
OTE says:
oh, i guess i am screwed then
Taxman says:
OTE says:

Just one of those days.


You know how there are some people you just click with?

And some that you just don't?

Yesterday we were supposed to have a playdate with another mom-toddler-infant combo. We had met ages ago at a Shabbat meal, back before there were any kids in the picture; later, we were in the same playgroup for a short while before it fell apart last summer.

Anyway, the mom is someone with whom, hypothetically, I should have a lot in common. Our toddlers are a month apart and will be in school together in September. And now our second babies are also about a month apart. We're both stay-at-home-moms with husbands who work longish hours. We go to the same synagogue.

Nevertheless, I was apprehensive. We had a pretty knock-down-drag-out conversation while we were pregnant about the safety of VBACs. (She has delivered only vaginally.) She thought I was being irresponsible and endangering my baby; I thought she was completely misinformed and basing her opinion on hearsay, not facts. We don't seem to have really similar child-rearing philosophies, but I honestly don't know her well enough to say that definitively. Besides, I wanted to give her a chance. My freshman-year roommate and I did not get along at first--at all!--and we wound up being very close.

We walked to a playground about 10 minutes away. And ran out of things to discuss before we got there. (Once she seemed to get over the fact that no, we're not planning to get a double stroller, there just wasn't too much else to say.) Her daughter wanted to go on the swings, and Miss M wanted to go on the slide, so we drifted apart and weren't inclined to attempt to herd the kids into the same place. No chemistry.

By contrast, last week at the same playground I ran into a mom from the playgroup I take Miss M to now. We haven't had much of a chance to speak before--playgroup is usually kind of hectic--but we seemed to fall into a natural sort of patter. We walked out together. She confessed that she was gasp! still nursing her 21-month-old twice a day...when I told her what I was doing, she walked two blocks out of her way so we could continue talking.

It's funny, though, because I had the same kind of fizzle versus chemistry with the two playgroups. The one from last spring I came to late in the game, and I never clicked with the other moms. I constantly felt like I was totally frazzled compared to everyone else. I was the freaky one, still nursing my 9 month old (hahahaha). I never wore makeup, rarely had matching clothes, and didn't buy Miss M every electronic toy in existence. Those moms seriously messed with my head. The playgroup I'm in now is smaller and more relaxed and includes Miss M's closest little pal.

I guess this has been on my mind because I've been slowly filling out my BlogRoll. There are some bloggers that I love reading because they bring all sorts of things to my attention that I don't have the time to find myself; I like to feel vaguely in touch with the news. Most are amazing writers. But then there are some that I just know I would get along with in person. It's a conflation of shared personality traits, toddlers, and blogging conversations eerily similar to ones I have with my husband. So why the hell do you people live far away? Taxman is always after me to get out for an evening; how do I explain that the people I'd love to have coffee with live in Boston or Charlotte or Philadelphia or California or ______ ? Without sounding too pathetic/psychotic, I mean.

Sorry for the egocentricity. It's temporary, I promise.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

"Good enough for government work"

This is a phrase I picked up from one of my parents. My dad, I think; basically, it means that someone is doing (barely) enough to get paid, but isn't really worth keeping around.

We saw this at the zoo today. My brother-in-law, sister-in-law, and almost-three-year-old nephew are visiting from the Small Country of Big Disputes, and we took them to the Bronx Zoo. (Whenever we see them, one of the families is on vacation, so therefore everyone winds up spending more money, eating out more, and sleeping less than they would under normal circumstances.)

At the zoo, we entered through the gate with the smallest parking lot--the Fordham gate, for any locals. As we drove up, we handed over our Members Parking Pass. The zoo employee took it, asked if we wanted a map, and then fetched two for us. We then went on our merry way.

Only belatedly, once we were past it, did we realize that this particular parking entrance was also the admissions gate, unlike other avenues into the zoo where the two functions are separate. We have a family membership, so Taxman and I have unlimited entrance, plus the kids and one guest, so we should have had to pay for one adult. But the zoo guy had no idea, because he did not ask to see our card. One adult could have been the member and the rest of us on the hook to pay. (That would have represented a loss of $45 for the Wildlife Conservation Society.) Even moreso, the membership agreement states explicitly that you are expected to show photo ID with your card; the membership privileges are not transferable. All of this is understandable. The zoo is a popular attraction, but it must be expensive to run, plus the WCS supports all kinds of research and conservation in the wild (ostensibly).

So I was feeling a little guilty about cheating the WCS out of $12. But at the same time...should the onus be completely on us to make sure it collects its fees? Why are they paying this guy? His performance is good enough for government work!

Unfortunately, if I turn the finger of scrutiny on myself, this is how I've been puttering along lately. Mothering my toddler? Good enough to be a government employee. (Or a zoo employee, apparently, despite the fact that I never got past a first interview at the WCS years ago.) At the end of the day, she's fed, usually bathed, and still alive. But in between there's So.Much.Testing.

Miss M seems to be at the zenith of pushing limits and bad behavior. We have no idea, of course, if this is due to the new addition or just the age and inability to hash out her feelings and problems in words. More the latter, I'd bet, but with AM I just don't have the wherewithal to deal with her very well. I used to do a lot of physical interventions; moving her from room to room, or turning on the radio, swooping her up in my arms, and dancing with her to distract her from whatever trouble she was brewing. But now...

I just feel so cross with her. Endlessly exasperated. All the time.

But at least I am not alone. After a whole weekend with her being like this, Taxman lost it, too. After a rough time getting her into her pajamas without being injured (hitting, kicking, and a bite), he swiftly gathered her up and ushered her to bed, intimating that there would be no nursing and I would not be the last person she saw before bed. I did make my appearance, but only after a lecture from him and a lecture from me and some pathetic whimpering on her part.

We're definitely fumbling in the dark here, not knowing how to approach her behavior. She doesn't seem to be making the connections between cause and effect, so the loss of privileges is useless. Maybe someday...

Just feeling kind of incompetent these days. At least life with AM is mostly perfect. Except for his Pacifier Lust, but that is a whole other post.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


In a swanky local gift store into which I have never set foot:

A matching mother-baby sleep set. Mom's nightshirt says, "I need sleep." Baby's onesie says, "I'll sleep when I'm good and ready."

Do you think they make mother-toddler sets? I resemble that.

See also: Phantom, ccw, Purple Kangaroo (9 months is close enough!), and sometimes (she gets bonus points because she has to function in front of students on a regular basis) Anita. (Probably Moxie too, although she seems way too together to be at risk for the toddler rebellion.)

And many others through the blogosphere. Wishing you all a good night.

Edited to add: (Headsmack!) I forgot my pal 3daughters (who sadly doesn't have a blog, but she has three kids under 8 and a full-time job, which is plenty!), whose toddler, O, is an inspiration to all the sleepless babies!

Monday, May 15, 2006

More on Mother's Day

After reading several posts in the blogosphere about Mother's Day, I realized that I had added my thoughts in my typical harried fashion.

I'm afraid that I sounded ungrateful or bitter about where my journey has brought me. I promise I'm not. What I am is overwhelmed--sometimes in the negative sense, but sometimes with just staggering washes of love (Miss M trotting back and forth to the living room to bring half her library for Taxman to read to her in bed, while AM is contentedly nursing)--with how my life has completely flipped on its axis in the past three years.

After our third small dalliance with our pal ART, we decided to pursue IVF. It turned out to be unnecessary. But adjusting to the fact that it was out of the picture, at least for a first pregnancy, took time. Even after Miss M was born, I remember saying to Taxman that I felt like our lives had jumped a track somewhere and now we were in a parallel universe. Our old selves, in the old universe, were still childless and longing, putting energy into an infertility support group, taking trips to the Caribbean because we didn't have to buy diapers, thinking about orphanages in China filled with baby girls.

I haven't thought about that childless parallel universe in a long time. The people who were regular attendees at our support group have become parents, either through birth or adoption; some are even on their way to being parents again.

But three years isn't a long time. Taxman and I have been married for more than twice that. I suppose that my fundamental parenting tasks would have remained the same with one child versus two (protect, support, teach, listen, and love, among others), but two just fill up my life so much. I might be in mourning for the most recent universe I've left, where I have infinitely more patience for Miss M, where I am plotting to spend a glorious toddler summer with her, exploring New York City, borrowing a friend's pool pass, and beginning to teach her to "cook."

But just as I came to exult in my new life as an Ema in 2004, I have bold hopes for my life as Ema, squared. My arms will be full, but my heart will be even more full.

I agree that Mother's Day has grown into a monstrosity of guilt and flowers and Hallmark. Luckily, we restrict it (and Father's Day) to just cards, but Taxman always adds a special message. My eyes fill with tears as I read his words of faith in me and encouragement for our future. He bolsters me whenever I need it--usually late at night when we should be sleeping--but it's nice to have the bonus of being able to read it in the daytime, with my babies vying for my attention. Seems like new times. And later in the day he brought chocolate, too.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

The buck stops here

At least for now.

A brief history

Mother's Day 2003: I am in the midst of failing my second (of three) "assisted" attempt to get pregnant.
Mother's Day 2004: Approximately 36 weeks pregnant with Miss M.
Mother's Day 2005: Miss M was almost 11 months--bright, irrepressibly bubbly, and showing no interest in sleeping through the night.
Mother's Day 2006: Miss M is almost 23 months (going on 17), and we have a baby, too (!!). AM is one month old today.

As lucky as I am to have two adorable, healthy kids, this will not be a trend. (Or so goes the plan.) They have given me focus and purpose, but I must have a full night's sleep before I can address the prospect of more. Plus the tuition bills--we're sending Miss M to "school" in the fall--have already started, and we can't afford more. Just trying to keep the balance.

Happy Mother's Day! Especially to the newest mommy I know, mc.

Friday, May 12, 2006

As if you needed to be reminded

Just in case I wasn't, in fact, the last Democrat/American/human being to read this:

The Worst President in History?

Thanks to my mom for sending it along.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Tell me it gets better

During the first 22 months of Miss M's life, my parenting style was what I termed "no-regrets." Meaning, I didn't want to do anything that I'd stew over (too much--it is me, after all) or come to regret. Adhering to that principle saw me through refusing to let her cry in her crib; refusing to nightwean before indications that she was ready; being selective about her TV habits, food choices, and toys; and other things that I'm sure have slipped through my sieve of a brain.

The past couple of weeks have been full of regrets. I can't seem to talk to her without my voice reflecting exasperation, exhaustion, or general annoyance. I've cut her nursings short because AM needs me. I keep expecting her to act more mature than she is just because she is so much bigger; every time I change her diaper I want to have her potty trained...last month. I've rushed her through baths--she likes to hang out and "swim" in the tub--because AM-is-sleeping-and-might-be-up-any-second and it's really so much easier to lift her out of the bath if I'm not holding him or wearing him in a sling. Not that I can say that, because we don't want to blame AM for, you know, existing and being an infant and all.

As for AM, I am contrite that he hears me being short with his sister. I regret that I have very little in the way of daylight hours to concentrate on him. Although he is more laid-back than Miss M was at the same age, he winds up crying more; if I am changing Miss M's diaper, or getting her out of the tub, or trying to interpret her food requests, he has to wait. AM has shown a liking for a pacifier, which I don't really want to use, and I've exploited it; when Miss M needs to nurse before her nap, AM often has to make do with the substitute.

But mostly time is already getting away from me. AM is filling out, starting to hold his head better, and even smiled last night (at Taxman--I was in the shower). I know that once he's passes through this snuggly newborn stage, he'll never go back. Part of me is petrified to think that this is the last newborn I'll have, but at the same time I just don't know if I can do this again. I am being pulled in too many directions--and it's only two of them! Well, plus small tugs for me, Taxman, and the growing list of thank you notes that will get written, um, someday? I keep feeling like I am failing someone. And it's not the sleep deprivation talking.

Kudos to anyone who raises more than one. It's really hard.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Thursday night ramblings

Today was such a nice day.

The weather was stunning.

Taxman took a paternity day, which was really like vacation--except that I desperately needed him to help me escape the one-two punch of staying out of the path of our cleaning lady and the water shut-off.

We went to the zoo for the first time in ages. We bit the bullet and became members, because as soon as Miss M turns two it will become ridiculously expensive for us to go as a family. And we'll be back...soon. Miss M loved the zoo. We saw the tigers, the polar bear, and an indoor butterfly garden. (Taxman and I would have been happy with just the butterflies!) Plus, we rode the tram that goes across part of the zoo; Miss M was so enthralled she repeated "traaaam" for about 20 minutes. It was fun. Taxman and I were just happy that she was so happy, and I was so entirely relieved that I could share the toddler parenting joy on a weekday.

Some random thoughts from today:

1. I swear I am not trying to be snotty in the name of babywearing. I am just curious. We saw about 12 gazillion strollers at the zoo. We didn't take ours. AM was in a pouch, and Miss M was on Taxman's back in a Kelty Kids backpack. We've been to a few other zoos with Miss M before (always with a carrier, never a stroller), and I always have the same question: What do other parents do at the zoo? Take the kids out at every exhibit? Snap in and out and hold them in-arms? Because to leave the kids in there has got to be kind of boring for them, seeing as how the action is often above stroller-eye-level. Anyway, Miss M's eye level was a couple of inches above Taxman's so she could see everything and had a great time pointing out the tiger, the ducks, the fish, the turtles. And the traaaam, of course.

2. Bloggable conversation of the day:

OneTiredEma (Noticing tan spots on the inner thigh of AM's outfit): "Is that poop or tahini?"

Taxman (Wiping the remains of a falafel off of his hands): "Oh, that's totally tahini. Wait, no, sorry; that's hummus."

3. Too little, too late?

All the parenting magazines go mushy when they describe the overwhelming feelings of love you will have when your little sprite says "mama" for the first time (referring of course, to you and not some other thing). I forget when this is supposed to happen. Ten months old? Twelve months old?

Anyway, today was the first time--ever--that Miss M called me Ema. Just yesterday she woke up crying from her nap, and when I went to fetch her, I caught her signing Ema (ok, "mom") to an empty room.

Taxman was so excited. I, strangely, wasn't. I don't think that I had entirely given up on being called Ema--and it could totally morph into Mommy the second she goes to pre-school--but I suppose part of me had had to let go of its importance. It's just a name. There's no question that she's known who I am since very early on. Kind of the way that Baby AM knows who I am now. I am the one with the breasts.

4. The breasts, they are confounded. I am almost positive that AM is having his three-week growth spurt. There has been a lot of nursing and a lot of sleeping and a lot of fussiness in the evening. Sometimes all of these things at once--or at least in rapid succession. There is a lot of milk happening, and sometimes he falls asleep smack in the middle of the festivities. And then there is milk all over the place. Sopping wet shirts (mine), milky face (his), things dripping (both of us). It's been a long time since I had to wash my bras three times a week. I haven't missed it.

Everyone else is sleeping. I should be, but I am enjoying the quiet and the almost imperceptible breeze through the wide-open windows. Happy spring, at long last.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Life on the outside

Baby AM is a pretty chilled out individual. Thank goodness. He has no objections to sleeping in the living room with the lights on, no problems with our television viewing habits, and doesn't seem to care if I send five kinds of dairy products through the milk. (Although there were six--SIX!--poops yesterday between 7 am and 1 pm.)

But all things being equal, I think he might have liked his last living space better. His favorite places out here seem to involve being squished or involve close bodily contact (luckily Taxman is a fine substitute, assuming AM's tummy is full): a sling, nights right beside Ema or Abba, and (finally!) a nice trip under the handheld shower, in a mesh sling to boot. I am figuring there is plenty of time to get him used to sleeping for long periods on his own, away from someone's heartbeat....first in line for that is Miss M, anyway.

Really, though, who would turn down the chance to be trapped on the couch with a downy-headed newborn snuggled in their neck?