Tuesday, February 22, 2005
Breastfeeding is SEXY.
Remember how there was a period of time in the '80s when overalls were super-cool? And then it became even cooler to wear the overalls but to leave the front flap down with the straps hanging like big loops down below your hips? And how funny it would be to be out at a bar or similar and see a woman go into the bathroom and come out with one of the loops dripping wet from having accidentally dunked it in the toilet? (Funny but in a "Hey, why don't you stay right over THERE" sort of way.)

Well, I'm starting to get that way with my nursing bras - I just get too lazy and tired sometimes to hook 'em back up. Not an issue around the house, but today I'm wearing a button-down shirt and a sports bra under it, and I forgot to snap back up before we went to Pizza Hut for lunch. Very nearly gave some junior high boys the thrill of their life when I took my coat off, lemme tell ya. (It's winter break week, so Pizza Hut was packed to the gills with prepubescent boys, a truly fabulous spot. Definitely not the place to try some discreet nursing in public... so glad Jacob's big enough to go more than 26 seconds between feedings now.)
And while we're on that topic, they have an all-you-can-eat lunch buffet at Pizza Hut here. Well, I'm a nursing mom, I'm perpetually hungry anyway - wanna know how MUCH pizza I can eat in an hour? Especially when seated directly next to the buffet? Ye gods, I'm surprised I didn't need a wheelbarrow to get me out of there.

I went directly from lunch to my annual physical. One of the questions was, "Are you eating healthy?" PFBLLGHTT. And the irony is, over the past week I really have done a great job of cutting down on my cowlike grazing and frantic weasel-in-a-doughnut-shop binges and have been more physically active, and I think I HAD started to lose weight - but one miserable little 27-pound lunch buffet... I swear I heard the scale whimper as I approached, and I KNOW it snickered when I stepped off and insisted on setting it back to zero lest I cause heart palpitations or uncontrollable mirth to whoever uses it next.


I'm back home now... we just got around to buying Jacob a bigger convertible carseat - it's been over a month since I could drive him safely in my car, we still have the bucket but would have to remove one or both of his fat little legs in order to fit him into it, and I just didn't want to do that to him! So that's in the car... not installed yet, but progress in small steps is better than none at all, right? (I'm using the same philosophy on getting my house clean... at this rate, I figure I'm on target to have it spotless about 6 months after we move out.) And the box is in the living room, where Emily has been playing in it for two hours so far. Why do we buy our children anything but cardboard???

I also got Jacob one of those Baby Safe Feeders - we go out to eat at least once a week, and I always want to offer him bites of our stuff but I don't want to go insane mincing it and watching him like a hawk through every second of the meal, so I thought it was worth a try. We gave it a test run at home - turns out he LOVES it, but it is a truly, truly messy experience, unique even in a house with a 4-year-old and a 6-month-old in the sheer amount of mess it can create. Not because of the mess radius, but because of the finely, evenly spread texture of the mess. Every available surface of the high chair and my son are completely coated in banana. For a while he was using it like a stamp - leading me to an image of him as the world's smallest little Bingo player.

I'm off to run some errands with the kids... hope my bra stays snapped up and no more all-you-can-eat buffets suck me in while we're out.
Monday, February 14, 2005
Chuck E Cheese hangover
Argh, I just don't like the Mouse Place. Too many children and too much screaming and too many noises and lights and smells and small strange children grabbing my legs. But my daughter loooooooooves it, and this past Thursday she finally got an "all-clear" from her doctor after having broken her collarbone in early January, and I thought she deserved a celebration.

So we packed up Emily and her best friend (if we're going to go for chaos, might as well absolutely maximize the experience, no?)), as well as Jacob and my husband and me, and we all headed off for the hour-plus drive to Chuck E Cheese. The girls giggled non-stop the entire way there, it would have been funny except after about 45 minutes it started to sound a bit edgy and hysterical. You know that guy in college who always hung on until the very end of the party and then ran around pestering everyone to stay a while longer? It was that sort of feeling of desperation that the girls were exuding - "We sure are having fun NOW, aren't we?!?!?!?!? Hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee..."

But we made it without incident, and as soon as we got there the girls evaporated into the haze of children and lights. I was thrilled to have been able to arrange to meet a couple other moms there, so I was able to hold pseudo-adult conversations for a while (we talked about non-kid things, but it was at the top of our lungs while another adult dressed in a mouse suit lumbered by, too surreal to be a real grown-up experience).

But then the girls asked me to take them over to watch the stage show put on by mechanical animals (thank you, Marilyn Manson, for forever coloring that phrase for me) set to tinny, off-tempo music. Okay, fine. So we went over, and got to listen to "The Mailman Song." Wanna know how it goes?
The mailman brings my letters, he brings my letters, he brings my letters to me.
He brings my letters, he brings my letters, he brings my letters to me.
He brings my letters, he brings my letters, he brings my letters to me.
He brings my letters, he brings my letters, he brings my letters to me.
Second verse:
Oh, the mailman brings my letters, he brings my letters, he brings my letters to me...

You get the idea. I'm developing a big flat spot on my forehead from trying to pound that song out of my head.

I did have the delightful experience of watching an employee almost totally lose it. It was while I was escorting my daughter's friend to the bathroom. (I just LOVE how some kids wait until the last possible second and then they practically drag themselves by the bathroom-related parts to the rest room, hopping and muttering the whole time.) After she was done, she was watching her hand, as an employee was cleaning up the bathroom. The employee reached over to remove the garbage bag from next to the sink, when it snagged on something or other and burst open all over the employee's shoes. Now, let's take a moment to consider the clientele at your average Chuck E Cheese's... lots of kids. Small kids. In diapers.


So the bag filled with diapers burst all over this poor woman's shoes, and you could tell that all she wanted in the world at that moment was to say lots of short, pithy words starting with letters like "S" and "F." But she showed admirable restraint, just strode out of the bathroom in search of stronger garbage bags (and, I would hope, a hug or at least a sympathetic look from a coworker).

We made it home, and I'm still overstimulated, but am also amazed that we made it all the way there and back without a single tantrum from anyone in our little party. Just amazing.
Thursday, February 10, 2005
It's not a beer and a lapdance, but...
Last night, Jacob had a hard time settling down at bedtime. He didn't seem to be in pain or anything, just sort of antsy and clingy. So I took him into our bedroom for a while, and turned on the light in the fish tank.

Now, as background, I don't WANT a fish tank in my bedroom. I'm not a big fan of fish - don't hate them, but find it difficult to bond. I prefer pets I can, well, pet. We got the fish for Emily's 4th birthday (in April), and they lived in her room until December. Then one day she decided to feed the fish. Three bottles of food. And a pine cone. And a Barbie head. So the fish got moved into our bedroom. She's got a marble jar with the promise of getting her fish back when she has 50 marbles. She's got 2 right now - it's been a rough week - so I'm optimistic that she'll get the fish back in time for her senior prom.

In the meantime, the fish happen to be guppies. Amorous guppies. Prolific, amorous guppies. There were only about 20 left after the Great Fish Massacre, but now there are, conservatively, 3 million. We're approaching the point where we have more fish than water in that tank.

So, last night, I brought Jacob into our room, turned on the fish tank light, and left the other lights off. And my boy didn't blink for the next 20 minutes. He just sat and STARED, very much in the manner of a man visiting a strip club for the first time. My husband told him, "Well, it's not a beer and a lap dance, but it's the best you'll get for a couple decades." Jacob seemed okay with this.

We did get him down for the night soon after, and I would imagine that he had delightful little fish dreams last night.
Friday, February 04, 2005
Poop, tooth, and babyphobia
My poor sweet baby boy, he's had a trying time of it today.

First, he's been constipated for a few days. No big deal, it's just his little system adjusting to various solid foods in different amounts. But last night he didn't sleep well at all, up every 2-3 hours (after he had been sleeping through the night), and I wasn't sure whether he was teething or having a bellyache or both. So, I figured I'd hit him with some prunes today, just in case.

Now, if you ever find yourself on a particularly weird and twisted version of Jeopardy, and the Answer is, "About an hour and 20 minutes," I can tell you the question: "How long does it take for prunes to work their magic on Jacob?" My goodness, that boy can poop. Yeeeeeee haw. Lifted himself right off my lap.
Then, this evening, we went over to a friend's-, and discovered that Jacob is apparently TERRIFIED of other babies! Just too funny, he'd be pretty quiet most of the time, which is his normal way when he's in a new place... not especially clingy, but not real chatty, just sort of feeling the place out. I lowered him down to meet baby Brandon, and Jacob screamed like he was being poked with a pin. So I put him back to my shoulder, Instant Calm. This happened several times - he was comfortable with Nicole (the mom), comfortable with her older son, fine with me or Emily, but he'd look at Brandon and just lose it. He did eventually calm down, and the boys bonded over shared drool and chocolate chip cookies (and really, can you think of a better basis for a good relationship?), very cute.

And while we were there, I did the obsessive-400th-time-today-mouth-sweep to check for teeth - and you know how you start to feel like even though you're TELLING people you think he'll get teeth "any day now" but you secretly believe that he'll be the only toothless kid in kindergarten? - and lo and behold, we have a little puppy tooth! Poor baby, no wonder he was feeling a little freaked out. But some Motrin and some nursing calmed him down, and he really enjoyed the rest of his visit.

Busy day for a little guy!
Thursday, February 03, 2005
Too much craziness, too little alcohol
I need an emoticon with the eyes pointing in different directions... maybe holding a margarita in one hand...

Just a busy day. Jacob was just now sitting on my lap, and he started making some suspicious grunting and straining type noises - and he leaned back and backhand grabbed hold of the front of my shirt, just like you might do of you were next to someone and you witnessed an oncoming tornado. You know, that sort of panicked but awed experience? Musta been a noteworthy experience for him...

I've had several of those shirt-grabbing moments today. I'm tired.

First, I'm snuggled happily into my soft, cozy bed, warm under my down comforter, happy in the knowledge that both kids slept great last night and I'm sneaking up on 8 hours of sleep last night, interrupted only for one quick feed (which doesn't count as awake-time, to me, since I've become a master sleepwalker). I hear my husband start thumping and stumbling around the house, and I experience my daily microsecond of guilt - my mom always got up and made breakfast for my dad, even when he got up 3 hours before she needed to, and I'm just not willing to do that, sorry. (But then I remember, HEY, my parents are currently in the middle of an acrimonious divorce, maybe I SHOULDN'T try to imitate my mom as a wife...) Anyway, I'm just fading back out when I sense a presence looming over my bed. It's my husband, stark naked and sorta jittery. (And he's a big guy, so this is a little intimidating.) "We have no water," he announced.

"Mhresrewuiommhhpppphh," I replied. And I MEANT it. "No, we have no water at all. I don't think a pipe burst but I don't know what the problem is."

So I dredged myself into consciousness. Sure enough, we were waterless. Pipes froze. Now, I live in a split level. The water heater and pipes are housed in a boiler room. And inside boiler room. Off the garage, under my bedroom. HOW could the pipes freeze in there?

Well, easy. A Husband-Who-Shall-Remain-Nameless could dump his hockey equipment in there, be too damn lazy to close the door, and then pull his Jeep into MY spot in the garage (If he wants to park in the garage, then he can invest in a remote car starter and shovel the walk so that I don't end up tripping and falling and burying both of his children in the 3-foot snowdrifts next to our house when I'm trying to get somewhere. Nyah, nyah, nyah.), THEN be too damn lazy to close the garage door. I mean, seriously, all it takes is four extra steps and a brief flick of the wrist, this is too much effort?!? Cripes.

So, he shuffles - unshowered - off to work, I spend about 4 minutes pretending I'm going to go back to sleep, and then I get up and start obsessing. Don't want to pay overtime plumber rates, can't figure out where the pipes or frozen or what to do, just gotta sit around and twitch until 8:30. The plumbers came right out at 8:30, lovely men, yay... can't wait to get their bill. They laughed at me. I insisted that I had nothing to do with the idiocy of allowing my indoor pipes to freeze. They laughed at my husband. They fixed my pipes.
Meanwhile, as they are pounding and grunting and generally exuding testosterone in my garage, I'm upstairs on the phone with my dissertation committee, for our first-ever draft review meeting. I'm trying to concentrate carefully on what they say, while ignoring the Neanderthalithic noises emerging from the bowels of my house, ignoring my unshoweredness, wishing I could figure out a way to properly express my gratitude to my friend Stacy (who watched my kids here during all this, and kept them QUIET somehow), and generally feelin a bit overwrought. And somehow we got through the meeting, and my dissertation proposal was accepted! This is a BIG DEAL for me, because I started working on the proposal while pregnant (on bedrest) and finished it in December after a few major events this fall (one of which is still filling his diaper, the boy has stamina). So what that means is, now I have permission to go ahead and do the work I suggested in the proposal, and once it's done they'll let me stop going to school. Heady stuff, I've been in school for 11 years so far, I'm tired.

Yee haw!

Then I got a call from my realtor here - we'll be moving this summer so that my husband can go back for his doctorate. Apparently my student-status looks like fun to him, despite my frantic efforts to finish in one piece, so he wants a turn. He'll be doing math, though, not psychology - a true glutton for punishment. Anyway, we had a market analysis done on the house... and he is suggesting that we put the house up for sale and ask for about $60,000 more than we bought it for, four years ago.

Yee haw AND yippee!!

THEN I got a packet in the mail from the realtor where we're moving, with a bunch of potential houses included - all nice places and well within our price range, yay.

Then I spent 3 hours at the "car doctor" with both kids. I had expected a half-hour appointment, so I didn't bring anything to entertain my distractible and potentially whiny preschooler, and I didn't bring any cereal or cookies for Jacob. But both kids were wonderful, Emily played happily with the nasty, grimy, yicky toys they had there (I've since doused her in boiling antibacterial wash, we're all good) and Jacob nursed once, subtly, and played and napped the rest of the time. What could have been a nightmare was actually an oddly pleasant afternoon.

So, yeah. I'm all done. But in a very good way, overall. Sure, it sucks when you know the plumbers are telling stories about me back at work, and I'm too busy right now to properly celebrate passing the dissertation proposal... but we could have had a pipe burst (happened 3 years ago, it SUCKED), I could have failed that meeting, blah blah blah. So, life is good, and I'm just all warm and fuzzy inside. And I haven't spoken with my in-laws in weeks.
Wednesday, February 02, 2005
Married into the Family of Uggggghhhhhh
My father-in-law is just your plain old garden-variety narcissistic alcoholic with limited social skills even when sober. When my daughter was 4 months old, we were in an Outback Steakhouse having what I thought was a normal, bantering, fun conversation, when he fixated on something I had said - JOKINGLY - several minutes before, and he suddenly shoved his chair back, stood up, and flipped me off. He very often calls up my husband to berate him for imagined slights and passing comments which were made several months ago but which my father-in-law just can't let go of.

And, of course, my mother-in-law is the one of the plane tickets fame, the black dress at my wedding, and other passive-aggressive misadventures.

Lovely, aren't they?

Now, we decided to host Christmas at our house this year, because we traveled for Thanksgiving and it was just more work than it was worth. And most of the holiday was lovely, some of my family was there too and everyone got along pretty well. My husband's birthday is the 26th, so the families stayed for that, too - still going well. Then, on the morning of the 27th, just before they were about to leave, we were sitting in the living room just chatting. First, my daughter was talking about playing dress-up, and my mother-in-law announced, "Yes, I know, when she gets dressed up she looks like a five-dollar hooker!" In front of my kids. Lovely. ("Mommy, what's a hooker?") Then, we were talking about Jacob's sleeping habits, and my father-in-law said, "Yeah, I bet he's got a little Playboy in there, he wakes up, masturbates and goes back to sleep." Which is not quite as offensive to me, but still inappropriate in front of the kids.

We were all sort of shocked, to say the least, and no one confronted it in the moment. But after a few days, Willem wrote them each a letter specifically pointing out what we had a problem with and asking them to tone it down a bit in the future. And then began the deafening silence. My mother-in-law kept calling and chatting as though nothing was wrong, but my father-in-law refused to communicate with us at all - very typical for the ways they typically react. Until last night - my husband called to wish his father a Happy Birthday, and father-in-law went OFF, how dare he reprimand his parents and family is worthless anyway he would rather be alone and why would we possibly think he would want a call wishing him a happy birthday and he's the parent in this situation and he doesn't want to hear it from us when our kids grow up spoiled and stupid and useless...

So, big sigh. The way the pattern goes, it will remain quiet around here for another day or two, then my mother-in-law will call and try to force us all to get along again, there will be extended awkwardness for a few months, then we'll all pretend everything is fine until the next blow-up.

Sorry to go off so long, I just felt the need to share the love and warmth of my in-laws. My own family has its idiosyncrasies, but it took getting married for me to realize how truly stable and wonderful they actually are.

Okay, back to my five-dollar hooker and my masturbating fiend of a son. Jeepers.