Monday, January 29, 2007

ISO: Girlfriend

It's been a long time since I had a "best" friend. Sixth grade, I think it was.

From 7th through 10th grades I ran with a gaggle of friends (we weren't popular, so it wasn't scary); we all kind of looked out for each other.

When I was in the middle of 10th grade, I moved two time zones away, to a place so utterly different it took about two years for the culture shock to wear off. By then I recovered enough to have a few pals, but I'm not in touch with anyone from high school now.

I am still in touch with a few people from college, but nobody lives that close to me, and everyone is busy with kids and jobs. Plus we spent four years dealing with each others' crises of every stripe (academic, romantic, health, financial, the list is endless!), and I think we've spent the past 10 years decompressing.

Luckily, the person I married is also a good friend. To everyone, but especially to me. So I'd never really worried about the fact that I didn't have a ready list of coffee dates and movie partners and phone pals.

Until I really needed to call someone at 11:30pm last week. I was in the throes of a delicate marital disagreement and needed perspective. And I had no one. So I had to turn to the person I was furious with and hiss to him that I needed a best friend because he was the last person I wanted to talk to right then. (I did anyway, or there's no way I would have been able to sleep.*)

Thankfully, he understood.

Almost-32 seems to be very late to be in the "I need a best friend" game.

* In my limited fashion, of course. Basically you have to subtract 3-4 hours from the time I am actually in bed. So that night was 1:30-7:30 in bed, probably 3 hours of sleep.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Questioning Everything

Last Friday, I was going to post the following story, with the title "Our kids are in the same class, but we don't inhabit the same universe."

After dropping Miss M at school this morning, I walked to the greengrocer with N, the mom of Miss K; Miss K is a little girl in Miss M's class. Miss K also has a baby brother, Baby E, who is a couple of months younger than AM. N and I aren't as chummy as some of the other moms, some of whom I had known before school started, some of whom I met in September but just clicked with better. It was clear from the first week of school that our parenting differed in one way that's of major significance when you have a small baby; during the transition to pre-school, when parents were required to stick around, I nursed AM while N fed Baby E bottles of formula.

As we walked, N mentioned that she was exhausted because Baby E had been up at 4 o'clock in the morning. I took that to mean that he usually sleeps through the night. (This is not something I've experienced in a while, but in part due to my own choices, so I didn't get into the pissing contest of who's really more tired.) Then she explained that she would have just left him to kvetch himself back to sleep, but he was really wailing and she was afraid that he would wake Miss K. It turned out that he had a soaking wet diaper.

I really wasn't sure what to make of this, but luckily I was saved from further comment by the overpriced clemetines and the rock-hard avocados.

But then I started whipping myself into a frenzy thinking. Never a good thing when you are sleep deprived and often on edge. Who said that how we're raising Miss M and AM is full of good ideas? Maybe we're just lazy?

When Miss M was about same age that Baby E is now, she used to wake up early in the night, howling. She cried and cried in our arms, night after night. We couldn't leave her; it was clear that something was wrong and we were just too dumb to figure it out. Finally our neighbors, who shared a wall with her, slipped a note under our door that said something to the effect of "If you're trying to Ferberize your baby, you're doing it wrong." I was mortified to think that anyone would think we were leaving her alone through such agonized tears, and she didn't sleep in that room again for another year and half.

But she went from a crib, which she clearly hated, to our bed. She was happy there, but after a couple of months she proved to be a rude co-sleeper, constantly twisting and flopping around in bed. (AM is quite well-mannered in comparison.) We moved her to the floor, then to a toddler bed, and finally to a real bed in her own room.

This parenting method is something I'd called "guerilla" or "make it work" parenting. Do whatever you have to in order to make it through the day/night with a minimal body count and without major regrets; don't do anything that necessitates you or your kid to reconstruct personalities to meet the requirements. I disagreed with the Ferber method in general because crying has to convey everything when a baby is small--yes, dissatisfaction and loneliness, but also pain, discomfort, fear, and illness. Too many variables. But even at the very end of our rope with Miss M and her sleep, where we've been a few times, we knew we could never let her cry: because she'd cry all night, despite herself.

I've been applying the same principles to myself. I'd love to say that I could practice gentle discipline and not yell, but it's not who I am. I wish I could do better, but I can't. Not right now, at least; I'm a yeller, I am under-caffeinated, I am teh tired. We don't spank, not for any high and mighty reasons, but for the simple fact that we cannot justify hitting Miss M but then turning around and saying she can't hit us.

There's other stuff too. I love babywearing, but I know that a lot of people think it's weird or inconvenient. I'd never say that if babies that aren't worn are cheated in some way; it just worked.for.US. Both kids have loved hanging out at adult level, making goo-goo eyes at the cashiers, being close to "home base." Over the summer AM had a lot of sling-time when I was tending to Miss M, and I think we were able to prevent some cranky crying because of it, but who is to say that a swing wouldn't have done the same? I personally have found it great for city living, where store aisles are narrow, entry doors are heavy, and winter weather makes huge messes on the sidewalks. But the number one reason I don't have a double stroller? Because I remember agonizing over the "right" stroller choice for Miss M. Hours and hours on websites, hemming and hawing. Italian or British? Made in America or made in China? How will it do on the sidewalks? The roads? Will it fit in our trunk? What if we get a new car? For a stroller, people. I didn't want to do that again. So I didn't. And honestly, there have been maybe three or four times in the past nine months when I've really wished we had one. Four out of 270 isn't bad. It certainly isn't worth the outrageous sums charged for double strollers. (We could have gotten one used for $150. Instead we got a new mei tai for $75.)

The only baby-related concept I feel very strongly about is breastfeeding. As in, if a woman can do so without sacrificing her health or the health of her baby, she really, really, really should. Really. And, remarkably, it is the lazy mom's opt-out.* Fewer (or no) bottles to wash, fewer supplies to buy; if your baby's in bed with you, it minimizes the number of times you have to be vertical overnight, even if you aren't sleeping.

Nursing had served us so well that I didn't want my pregnancy with AM to spell the end of it for Miss M. We got through the nine months. We adapted and adjusted both before and after his birth. And now, another class mom (a child psychiatrist) suggests that my spirited defense of Miss M's right to nurse (and also the fact that I am "attached" to him, i.e. wearing him instead of pushing him in a stroller) is creating jealousy and strife between her and AM and causing her 5:30 am MILK meltdowns.** See, if only I could have ended the discussion with "I believe in child-led weaning." But I don't, necessarily; Miss M's current 150-second, tri-partite nursing schedule was created by me in an attempt to balance everyone's needs.

So, yeah. The parenting-by-numbers, slightly fuzzy picture that I've made, with Taxman's consent, seems to be a forgery.

On the other hand, other than the early morning fits, Miss M seems pretty normal. Happy, smart, rambunctious. Willful as hell. Loves making AM laugh. Tries to wash his hair in the bath. He loves her. I've always said that as messed up as these couple of years have been/will be, we have given the kids the gift of each other. I hope that remains true.

* I am not accusing nursing mothers of being lazy or disorganized. Just saying this shoe fits me.
** A wise, more experienced bloggy friend did point out that if it wasn't the nursing, it would be something else.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


Do I switch to the new version of Blogger? Is it better?

I wouldn't lose all my stuff, right?

I am ashamed to admit how many times I've considered this and tabled it. (Uh, every time I'm at the login prompt?)

All opinions welcome.

Interesting aside: Blogger spellcheck doesn't recognize "Blogger." That's quite an oversight, no?

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Taxman ate my blog post; or doing dishes is good therapy

The blog post I have been promising got eaten by Blogger disconnects and Taxman's attempt to fix it.

I may or may not attempt to recreate it. Basically, a brilliant, beautiful woman I lived with many years ago, when I was young and single and lonely and mired in a soul-sucking existence, died too young (31 years old) of breast cancer, leaving a husband and two young daughters to try to figure out life without her.

I am indescribably sad about it, even though we hadn't been in touch and had never truly been friends, despite living together for several months. I can only feel lucky that I haven't had to experience such tough times up close. I have no idea what I've done to deserve that.

Friday, January 19, 2007


Very pretty; big fat flakes; sticking a tiny bit.

Please don't cancel school, please don't cancel school, please don't cancel school.

Update: Fervent prayers answered. Sidewalks are slippery; the snow will probably be gone by 2pm. Just in time for the sopping wet neighborhood to freeze over tonight.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

What happens to a blog post deferred?

Does it collapse like a Trader Joe's helium balloon left overnight?*

At 2:30 today, I was looking forward to a few minutes to myself. AM had nursed to sleep on my lap; Miss M was tucked in. But then came the call, "Ema, awake!" (She hadn't slept.) "Ema, awake!" "EMA, AWAKE!" AM, whose naps have been crazy lately, sneezed six minutes later and that was the end of his nap.

Thankfully, I was steeled for a no-nap day. Miss M hadn't dragged herself out of our bed until a quarter to eight, Wednesday isn't a school day, and I was unprepared to face a windy, 20-degree day at the park. So I knew it was coming, which somehow made it better.

Also thankfully, of late Miss M has been better at entertaining herself. For minutes at a time, either with her Little People or at her little table "writing." Although not traditionally a doll person, she and I loaded her doll into a play sling, and she wore her baby while she filled a page with As. It was teh cute.

*Y'all know I misappropriated this, right?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


I have been trying to write a post for over a week, but I can't find the words.

I hope to tomorrow, but it's already been a long week.

But in excellent news I recruited four people to our La Leche League meeting, probably due in part to the fact that the meetings have moved to our house. (See above long week. I made cookies--nursing mommies need strength!--and separated the toddler toys from the infant toys.)

Now it is late; I have already Whined (tm); I am tired; the emails I haven't answered will have to wait another day.

Good night, New York!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Nine in, nine out

Today AM has reached that dividing line; he's spent more time out than in.

(I'm not quite sure where the line should be, and the 40-week pregnancy is technically 38 weeks, but "nine months old" seems poetic.)

I love that he has grown and changed so much. He race-crawls down the hall to Miss M's room to check out what she's doing. She is his constant object of fascination--a muse of sorts. She can make him smile more easily than anyone, but will probably be a source of danger in the immediate future; in the past couple of weeks I've caught her trying to pick him up off the floor and nearly attempting to ride him like a horse. (Ack!)

He loves Cheerios, whole peas, carrot and pasta pieces; if he can't pick it up with his fingers rake it into his palm, he isn't interested.

One of his favorite things in the world is taking a bath, from just watching the water go into the tub--he pulls up on the bathtub, pounding it with his open palms, and gurgles excitedly--to sitting in there with Miss M. After a few minutes of splashing he tries to pull himself up on the slippery sides; then it gets a little hairy for me, but you can't deny him the pleasure.

But for all the growing, he is still a baby. He's my baby, who cries if I leave the room at the wrong moment, who fusses when he is tired, who wakes if I move too suddenly from my bed in the middle of the night. Luckily, he is easily soothed, by the default--nursing--or just laying with his head tucked under my chin, softly slurping on his right thumb as we cuddle under a fleece blanket.

I have easy pregnancies, but as cool and alien as it is to feel a person (a person!) growing inside you and jousting with your organs, it just doesn't compare to watching that little person developing on the outside. And quietly breathing on your chest, hair askew, fingers curled, heavy with life.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

When greedy bleeds into stupid

and now for your entertainment

New rules at some Broadway venues now allow eating during live theater performances.


That's insane.

I know I wasn't consulted, but here's what I'd say. Figure your average theater ticket costs $80. (Some popular shows don't have seats for less than $100, from what I hear.) You'll want to share that special occasion with a special person in your life. And get a babysitter, if you have kids.* So that's a minimum of a $200 evening.


Seriously? Who's going to want to risk it again if it happens once?

I really hope the actors make the theater owners come to their senses.

* It should go without saying, being the pseudo-crunchified tandem nurser that I am, that it has been lifetimes years since we darkened the doors of a Broadway theater.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

If I could, I would kick my own ass

An hour ago, neither of my children were sleeping. 3 pm is usually deep into nap territory, but not today.

I had plans: cook for shabbat, make soup for dinner, possibly shower.* You know, plans.

It is utterly my own fault that neither of my children were sleeping because I am so stupid.

At 2pm, Miss M was drifting off (but not, as I thought, asleep). AM needed to nurse and head to dreamland himself, after I changed his diaper. Alas, all of the diapers were in with Miss M; usually 1 or 2 are floating about the house, in a diaper bag or sling pocket or camped on my dresser, but not today.

So I crept into Miss M's room rather than let AM go another 2 hours in a semi-wet diaper. I hadn't changed him in a few hours, so I was feeling guilty.

I chose unwisely.

Then came 45 minutes of cajoling, bribing, and silent seething. (At least AM nursed to sleep in a lull in the action.**) Adding fuel to the fires of my idiocy, I then told her if she didn't take a nap she couldn't watch any tv or videos for the rest of the day. Excuse me? Yes, that's right. An extra two hours of her being increasingly cranky, wild, and obnoxious and no electronic distraction for anyone.***

There's been a lot of yelling.

Bedtime can't come soon enough.


* It hasn't been my best personal hygiene week.

** He woke up after only 45 minutes, which is not enough to prevent him from being a basket case in the 5pm-8pm range. If Miss M had been sleeping, I would have scooped him up and nursed him to sleep again.

*** I just decided I am going to watch the 5:00 news. Inconsistency can't possibly be the worst parenting I have exhibited today. Apparently the worst parenting was how I dressed Miss M for school today. Her teacher chided me twice for her outerwear (a sweatshirt and light-medium weight winter coat and mittens--what she wore in the snow last week for hours). When I asked if she said she was cold, the answer was no, "but we go outside for half an hour." Oh, bite me.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Bad night

AM cut his first tooth last night. This has been a long time coming. He was in a lot of pain. There's nothing quite as crappy as watching your baby writhe around the bed because he is so miserable.

Unfortunately, he has a one-trick pony as a mother. Unlike Miss M, who liked to nurse all night when she was teething, he refused to have anything in his mouth. So nursing and his self-comforting tool (thumbsucking) were unavailable to him, so he cried for about three hours in the middle of the night. It was pretty awful.

One down. Nineteen to go.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Funnier without context

Taxman, thoughtfully:

"You know, you can't marry off someone who has diaper rash."

Friday, January 05, 2007

Worth 1,000 words

Why a queen sized bed isn't big enough

Vacation with the grandparents in sunny New Mexico

El Nino = 24 inches

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Two decaf cappuccinos...

...and a quarter of a cafe wondering what the hell we could be talking about so animatedly. (Among other topics: Why Dr. Seuss is the bane of our existence; blog creation; guerilla parenting; and why 24-year-old women date flashy 40-year-old men.)

Not bad for two former strangers among the eight million souls in the City.

Thanks for getting me out of the house, Moxie!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Come fly the unfriendly skies

Our return trip from the snowy southwest was actually much smoother than the way there; both kids slept on the longer of the two flights (AM, who is still under the weather, poor guy, slept for the whole flight), and instead of sitting 4 abreast we were 2-and-2 in consecutive rows, so Miss M kicked AM's seat the whole trip, rather than an innocent bystander. Our breakfast yogurts were confiscated by TSA, but I couldn't be mad because it was our fault for not eating it in the car and the TSA guy seemed pretty contrite.

But I have to know...what is it about bringing carseats on to a plane that makes people shoot such nasty looks? We paid for the seats! It's for the kids' safety! We're not asking you to install them.

I mean, if you prefer, we can just let Miss M slide out from under her regular airplane seatbelt and thrash around on Taxman's lap when she's not running amok in the aisles, rather than sitting buckled in (through turbulence, thank you very much), eating her way across the time zones. Cripes. I don't expect people to help us, but at least keep your rolling eyes and snarky comments until we're past. Maybe it's the kids rather than the carseats themselves? Should I make up a shirt for AM that says, "If I cry, it won't be for the whole flight; I nurse." ?

On a second nasty note, an old-school flight attendant on our 6:30 am leg seemed to be shamelessly flirting with a businessman who boarded at approximately 6:27. He was dressed in a suit, was nicely turned out, etc. (Given how late he boarded, he was probably the only person who wasn't up at 5 or earlier.) The flight attendant seating him complimented him on his clothes, complaining that "Nobody dresses nicely to fly anymore." What is this? The Golden Age of Flight? Maybe if you didn't pack us in like sardines and serve us two bags of pretzels on a 2 1/2 hour flight we'd be more inclined to wear something that might wrinkle. (I was wearing jeans instead of sweats, so she can kiss my well-dressed behind.) Oh, and then she complimented him on how good he smelled! Ick, ick! He did give his wife credit for dressing him, though, so he escapes with only a slap on the wrist for showing at the last second.

It is very good to be home.

Monday, January 01, 2007

In Sum...and Happy Blogiversary to Me

As seen everywhere, here's my 2006:

The new year is upon us...but I don't do resolutions.

I finally gave in to the temptation (I had been saving it for Taxman's busy season, when I will truly never have access to a decent grocery store except for late Saturday night) and ordered from Fresh Direct.

Instead of my 15-minute haze of drowsiness while Miss M nursed down to her nap yesterday, I had a true nap.

Tax season with kid(s) is like having two Mondays a week.

Baby AM is a pretty chilled out individual.

Seen today on our block...Etched in pollen on the rear windshield of an SUV (natch!), above a Bush-Cheney campaign sticker: "Shame on you!"*

On Sunday we trekked to Brooklyn to look at a used car, eat breakfast out, and go to the New York Aquarium.

I can't stop screaming.

Having a nasty intestinal virus was not the way I intended to shed the last pregnancy pounds.

The good news is that it is easier to fast carrying an extra 5-10 pounds and nursing an infant who is happy to take a pumped bottle than being 10 pounds underweight, 12 weeks pregnant, and nursing a toddler who will accept no substitutes.

Why[do] strangers insist on commenting on my "parenting" skillz.

We are having major connection capital-I Issues over here.

Kind of a mish-mash. Utterly appopriate, yet not exactly what I intended (expected?) to achieve. I am still working it all out. Thanks for bearing with me for any or all of the past 366 days.

* This is the whole post; it doesn't make sense otherwise.