Friday, January 30, 2009

trash, bottom-feeding, and "freeganism"

I loved the scene in the movie Sex, Lies & Videotape where Andy McDowell, playing an unhappy and obsessive housewife, sits on a therapy couch with her lap dog staring vacantly out the window lamenting that she can't stop thinking about where all the trash goes. "I mean really, how can we be happy when we don't know where all the trash goes?" or something like that. 

I was almost not going to have babies because I didn't want to pollute or populate any further.

When I was first pregnant with G and all bohemian-earth-crunch-granola girl, I planned on using cloth diapers. I'd received packs of beautiful white organic ones from my optimistic baby registry and was all ready to save the earth one less disposable diaper at a time. That is, until the baby came out. There was that first thick sludgy muconium poo that stuck like taffy between the teeny newborn diaper and his little wrinkled butt that had me waivering. Then there were the split-pea-breast-milk-diarrhea poos that leaked all over, sealing the deal. I was having nothing to do with a cloth diaper that would need to be rinsed and further dealt with. I'd unwittingly joined the billions of us polluting the landfills with disposables and just figured an apology to god with each trip to the dumpster would have to suffice. 

And I still do apologize to god with each Diaper Genie emptying, 2 1/2 years and another added pooping butt later. Damn do babies make a lotta doo doo. And damn is that stuff heavy and hefty. It composes the bulk of our trash output. But then there's also so much more child-oriented junk to throw out that increases my guilt: loads of wipes and napkins and paper towels and half-empty juice and milk boxes, and snack wrappers, and tons of uneaten food. Lord do I feel guilty about the wasted food. Which unfortunately segues into my new achievement in world class bottom feeding. 

Does every other mother feel the compulsion I do to lick banana and avocado off the faces and hands of her children? And simplify clean-up by popping rejected cheese chunks into her mouth? Sometimes even going as far as the floor for spewn turkey scraps? Shamelessly drinking out of sippy cups? Letting her diet degenerate to fallen goldfish, thrown cereal puffs, spilled mac n' cheese and the applesauce remains in the little plastic containers? 

I guess some of this can be seen as my attempt to keep the landfills just a little emptier by doing my part. But bottom feeding is not an ideal solution to the problem. And the taste of our cheerio/goldfish medley hastily thrown in my mouth instead of walking all the way to the trash will be burned in my palette forever. Perhaps ceasing to view trash as a problem is the solution. Becoming one with trash. Embracing trash. Which unfortunately segues into another trash related rant...

Oprah once did a show on "freegans," people who dumpster dive to stock their fridges and decorate their pads. Lisa Ling reported as she followed people around NYC at night picking through trash bags on the curb for produce as well as suburban professionals mulling through department store dumpsters for furniture and fixtures. 

This was supposed to be shocking and unbelievable. Whatever. Dumpster diving was so the 90's for me. Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt. I learned with the pros where to find the freshest bagel and bakery dumpsters. And yes, I also got into the bad habit of nabbing fresh cookies out of grocery store bins, which I am not proud of - but it was sort of an extension of "freeganism," don't you think?

Anyway, now that I have kids, my version of freeganism has morphed into a much more benign How-To-Turn-Ordinary-Situations-Into-Free-Kiddie-Entertainment. Although we are fortunate enough to have passes to San Diego's awesome family destinations - Sea World, Legoland, the Zoo and Wild Animal Park - why get in the car when you have a Vons 100 yards from your front door? The double-seater fire engine shopping cart does the trick for us. We roll that thing in and out of Vons where we swipe as many free packs of oyster crackers and bakery samples as my diaper bag will hold. Then with G & N steering their little black wheels and honking their squeaky horns, we turn it out on the open parking lot, eventually ending up at the fountain where we have a wildlife encounter of our own feeding our leftovers to the birds. 

Since it's all about killing time with kids, we get some good mileage out our complex's fitness center. Every kid loves water dispensers, TV, and running amok. So I let G raid the Sparklett's tank and have taught him to use the treadmill. He does his toddler version of circuit training by prancing uphill, coasting backwards and hopping off the end of the treadmill, skipping to his cup of water, taking a swig, glancing up and laughing at The Simpsons on the overhead flatscreen - and then starting the cycle all over again. Meanwhile Noah and I play with the exercise ball while I snicker under my breath at all the people toiling on the machines, remembering my gym rat days and sighing in relief I instead lift babies all day. Priceless toddler exercise and mommy therapy. Cost: $0.

We often stumble upon some invaluable morning "unexpected entertainment," as my friend so succinctly phrased the phenomenon. (Other forms are watching the mailman and the garbage truck) The gardeners have become big fun for us. They let G help with piling and tarping leaves and branches. G relishes the opportunity to go where he's not supposed to: deep into the heart of the bushes. His inner banshee is unleashed. This can kill an entire 45 minutes if I'm lucky. Enriching toddler exploration in the wild and mommy slack time. Cost: $0.

Then there's the Thomas the Train table at our local kiddie hair cut place. Too bad G's hair is far too adorably curly to officially cut, or I'd actually give the place my business. Instead we go there, I chat it up with the saleslady while G & N meddle with Thomas and Friends, and then we sneak out when she's assisting the stylist to shut up a crying kid in the chair. Motor coordination enhancing train play and shameless mommy "freeganism" thrills. Cost $0.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

"You have your period, Mommy?"

I preface this post with the obvious: I have my period. Always something to celebrate when you're as done having babies as I am, and unfortunately not as fixed as I wanted to be by this point in my life. 

Since G is my right hand man, he knows about my period too.  How is he not going to know when he's hovering around the toilet every time I sit on it?  I've only had 3 since N's birth, so it's a new concept G is catching onto. But he wants to be an intimate part of this ritual, so I've assigned him the job of peeling the sticky backing off my pads. (Get your mind out of the gutter if you envisioned tampon insertion.) But then he also insists on placing them in my undies, which pushes my comfort zone just a bit. OMG, how totally almost completely inappropriate is this?! I mean, how too-much-information could I possibly get? This is the stuff that absolutely gets me off: truth in its raw form. Just tellin' it like it is.

Listen. I figure my husband has stared straight into my expansive cooch birthing two of his sons and still not only loves me, but wants me. Why not start his son early in the loving acceptance of and stomaching of Woman's lot in life. Every time 2 1/2 year-old G curiously peers into the toidy during my period, I internally cringe and want to banish him immediately from the bathroom. But then I think, "Hey, maybe I'm helping to spawn a new generation of men who can deal with this shit. Maybe I'm helping him become a supportive and non-squeamish partner to one lucky future woman. He'll be a rad boyfriend, that's for sure."

If you've read the book The Red Tent, you may know that there was a time when women would anticipate the privilege of bleeding together under the same roof. They sat on nests of hay and listened to stories passed down by the elders, were fed by the non-bleeding women, and obviously didn't lift a damn finger the whole time. Man, wouldn't that be great? It feels so unfair to not only birth two children and be menstruating within 3 months of their deliveries, but to also have to breastfeed while on the rag too?  What the hell, man? Aren't I losing enough fluids and draining enough energy? Then add in two pooping butts to tend to and my period is so far on the backburner it isn't funny. I'm just lucky to slip into the shower and give her a soak down once a day. That, and wearing red, are about the best I can do to honor my menses right now.

But both G & N are honoring my period today in the most valuable way a mommy could ever wish to be gifted: with extra long, simultaneous afternoon naps. :)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


OMG, don't make a sound, don't breath, don't even think about checking in on him.... Noah's still asleep at 6:13am. He went to bed at 7:30pm last night, and mama hasn't been woken by a single scream since. If that ain't god showin' up just in time, I don't know what is. 

Ahhhhhhhhh, the sweet luxury of continuous, unadulterated sleep. Hours at a time of ongoing dreamscapes, so deeply surrounded by non-dreaming sleep that I awake not remembering what I dreamt. Now that's heaven. Usually I'm woken out of so many half-dream states that I have all these incomplete story lines buzzing around my foggy head in the morning. Forget sex - although we actually did it last night (!) -  if everyone in the world could have this kind of sleep, world peace would prevail.  

So here's to you profiteering pharmaceutical companies: This stubborn anti-establishment-alternative-health brat salutes you in gratitude for your drugs. Thank you for the Amoxicillin that has allowed my son to sleep, thereby restoring his mama to sanity. I'm forever indebted to you.

Now to the important footnote connoted above with the (!) symbol:
(!) After having an interesting form of safe sex last night (I'll keep the details under raps to "protect" my already exposed, very private husband who'd be horrified to know I've ever even mentioned him at all in my blog), I brought up the dreaded birth control issue.  We've officially decided that I will go ahead and get my tubes tied or clipped or frozen or melted or whatever they do these days in the name of tubal ligation.  We're waiting a couple of months to do it for a few reasons:
1. I'm tired of being tinkered with
2. It'll be easier to recover without having to worry about nursing Noah
3. We're really not having enough activity classified under the title "sex" to warrant doing anything about it at this very moment

That's all for now folks. 

Oh, I guess the only other little tidbit I feel like ranting about is that I now understand why those butt-ugly Crocs are so wildly popular: putting on any other kind of kids shoes is nearly impossible. It was hard enough just getting them on a squirmy toddler. Then came having to do it over my pregnant belly. And now it's just worthless trying to cram on spider man tennis shoes when the kid is rarin' to go destroy and my infant is screaming and my diaper bag is falling off my shoulder. I've resisted those fugly Crocs until now, but they're becoming an attractive option to our daily shoe-putting-on fiasco.

Okay, now that's really all folks.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Birth control is pissing me off

These are my guys, the 3 beautiful men of my life. A fantastic husband and two wonderful new sons to nurture.  I think that's enough, don't you? I mean, why not stop while I'm ahead? Why add more diapers to the landfills? But most importantly, why torture myself any further? 

Two super healthy, super vibrant little boys... two cases of Postpartum Anxiety. One handsome, successful, guitar-serenading husband... one failed permanent sterilization surgery (!) (we'll talk about that soon). Two pregnancies and two deliveries survived with body and va-jay-jay in tact (an Oprah term that tickles my funny bone)... add those two + two and get the approximate 4 hours of sleep I get before baby wake-ups begin each night.  

Shouldn't I be able to turn in my ovaries and leftover eggs to a Retired Reproductive Parts counter somewhere to receive a voucher for unlimited-for-the-rest-of-my-life, birth-control-free sex with my safe, committed, baby papa husband?? I'm 40 for god's sake. I've paid my dues. I spent my first 37 years trying not to get pregnant by enduring blotation from pill hormones, nonstop bleeding from an IUD, itches and irritations from latex, nonoxynol 9,  foam, and "the ring." I'm done procreating. I'm supposedly in the years leading to my greatest orgasmic potential. You'd think it's my time to fly, man. 

But no. The Costco-sized tacky electric blue box of Trojan-enz under the bed stares at me in mockery each time I look for a tucked away book to whisk me away from reality at bedtime. It tells me birth control is not a done dealio for me yet. It reminds me that I endured an entire Essure permanent sterilization surgery, full anesthesia and all, only to have it fail. Details: (sorry Essure peeps - I'm busting you right now) Essure is supposedly this awesome new non-incisional alternative to tubal ligation. It was a procedure in which tiny nickel coils were implanted in my fallopian tubes to cause scar tissue to grow and occlude the tubes within 3 months. The surgery went great. The 3 months waiting took forever. Then the x-ray contrast dye test showed that not only did my tubes not occlude themselves, but that one of the coils perforated a tube and is floating around somewhere. Lovely.

That was a circuit-breaker for me. It was so disgustingly disappointing, I had to simply turn off any and all internal dialogue about birth control. Which leads to a conundrum. I am a woman, a wife, with a husband, who is supposed to be carrying on some sort of sexual relation. But I don't want to have another baby. I don't want to worry about getting pregnant ever again. I don't feel like having hormones implanted in my arm, going in for a tubal ligation surgery, or using rubbers. The man ain't up for the big V-word. We're still paying all the bills for the failed Essure.  So I'm just kinda at a stand still. 

No cute wrap-up for this post. No round off, back handspring, double back flip with nailed landing. Just a dull sigh, confused shrug of the shoulders and lame question mark leading to nowhere for now.

get him noah, get him!

Can I take just one quick sec to bitch and get it out of the way  - I promise it'll be short: The 9pm hour is the only time I did not see on the clock last night. Please tell me I'll survive this.

On a much lighter note, what about this hilarious picture of Noah beating up Gabriel?? I LOVE it!!!! Since Gabriel first began hitting Noah - unfortunately within the first few days of his life - I've joked to my friends that I'm beefing Noah up as fast as possible (amazing feat accomplished by these little boobies) so that he can hold his own against tyrant big brother. 
WWF here we come.

Monday, January 26, 2009

mad blog/sad blog

Remember Angelina Jolie all twitchy and gnarkity in Girl Interrupted? Her brilliant portrayal of psychological disturbance beautifully demonstrates my mental discomposure with this whole Noah-waking-in-the-night bull!@#$! I write this post only to vent and not to beg for solutions. I want only a safe place to blow out my seething madness, to somehow make light of its ugliness, mostly to amuse myself by writing something entertaining about it. Anything, anything other than floating around all alone in the stink of my thinking right now. 

Because my blog's main therapeutic strategy is to make lemonade out of lemons, I will say one really good thing has come out of my precarious sleep situation: I now value sleep more than food. This is monumental for a foodie of my magnitude. I actually crave good sleep far more than food, and good sleep gives me far more comfort than any sugary, fat-laden food right now. For this I am glad because food's magical qualities wore off a long time ago. 

Okay, enough of the smiles n' sunshine, back to the vile anger. I'm so ¡@#$%^&*! pissed right now, I could just, ... I could just, ... oh, I don't know... spit? I would scream, but I've wrecked my throat far too many times in the past doing that. Yes I am super grateful for my two handsome, thriving, happy children, but this nighttime sleepus interuptus shit is pissing me the !@#$%^&*! off. Thank god I have this blog to puke all over in anger and frustration. 

So let me indulge myself for just one more (long)  paragraph of blechy exclamatives. (Yes, I make up lots of words. It's necessary when you take my compulsive energy and cram it into sentences) I'm so ¡@#$%! pissed that half my night is spent in "twilight" sleep as a friend so succinctly put it: somewhere between sleep and being awake. A sort of limbo faux sleep suspension between Noah's very rude nighttime wakings. A cheap knock off of sleep that leads me just to those weird little incongruous thought patterns of pre-dreaming... and then...WHAM, Noah cries and I'm awake having to wonder what to do this time and then how to get myself back to sleep... and what in the heck was that weird little gnome murmuring to me under the umbrella? Hopefully I can catch that hallucination on the flip side when my heavenly-yet-frustrating thin veil of twilight sleep mercifully takes over again.


this just in.....

N   E   W   S   F   L   A   S   H

Noah's got an ear infection so I can't be mad at him. 

Wait a minute. Was I mad at him or just the sleep situation? Is there a difference? Am I evolved enough to make a distinction between him and his behavior, not taking it out on him but rather being a good, all-loving compassionate mama? Well, sometimes. I ain't no angel. Not even close. I have to admit that in the heat of the heat of the every 20-30 minute cries in the night, I ain't thinkin' sprinkles-with-a-cherry-on-top kinda thoughts about my beloved son.

We went to the doc this morning because he was just SO out of sorts and she somehow maneuvered that ear-o-scope thing into his canals - between him batting pathetically at the sides of his head :( -  and saw puss and prescribed antibiotics.

Okay, so now I'm really, really sad for him because he is the sweetest little suffering baby boy around, all pulling at his ears and miserably wanting to be asleep but not being able to. My heart is bleeding for him and wishes the amoxicillin could eradicate it, like, yesterday. Poor poor little baby Noah.


Oh the trials and tribulations of being a mommy. The intense guilt for ever feeling angry, frustrated, impatient or being mean. The acute dread, sadness and empathy for their every travail. The fierce pride of each milestone and extreme love with each smile, kiss and hug.

I love Noah so much. So, so much. 

I love my sleep and mental health even a little bit more. 

Here's to hoping both can coexist peacefully together.

no one got laid

Since I last posted I've found out that there is actually public interest as to how my optimistic plan for passion restoral went. Let's see. It went like this: my husband got home, we got the boys to bed, we laid on top of the duvet in inverted spoon, facing fetal positions. I twitched to sleep and my husband went out and read the news on his computer. 

And that's how it went for the next 2 nights, which brings us to today. Our excuse is that Noah is sick.  He is really sick. Feverish and limp like a noodle all day saturday, projectile puking out any and all medication that night, and then brewing up a brutal ear infection that popped this morning = no sleep for mommy and daddy past 3 nights = completely neurotic mommy wanting to shut down the nanosecond they both go to bed to ensure at least a little bit of sleep = you got it: no sex.

sorry to disappoint.

Friday, January 23, 2009

tag team marriage

Now I fully understand why my all my parents, step-parents, and parents' parents have divorced so many times: They had kids. It's the story older than time, "Where did our passion go?" It went to your kids, that's where. Every magazine loves telling you how to "rekindle" the passion. (please spare me of that word) But every confidential mommy conversation will confirm that we don't give a damn about sex after a baby's been sucking us dry all day nursing, pooping, demanding, whining and crying.

My husband and I have become a tag-team, baton-passing, relay-race, working partnership. "Here, you take this one, I'll take that one." We look at each other in disbelief most of the time as I exhaustedly shove a whining baby on my boob while he tends to an irrational toddler tantrumming about god knows what. How can we possibly survive getting so little of our own needs met by one another? We both crave each others' touch but are usually too spent to do anything about it. After our boys are safely tucked away we usually end up lying on top of our duvet facing each other curled in fetal positions. He puts a hand on my leg. I put a hand on his head. We close our eyes trying to erase the days challenges. And then I immediately start twitching to sleep. He gets up to go read the news on his computer... and night falls on our family.

Even though I may not want sex and am not willing to wear my enticing strappy red salsa dress without underwear like in the beginning, I want my husband to do all the beginning things for me: rub my feet endlessly, bring me flowers daily, stare dreamily into my eyes, leave his blackberry turned off for hours at a time. Without these things I've developed a stubborn ego ache. Three years ago my identity changed from single temptress to married mommy so fast, my ego had no time to downsize itself and adjust to its lack of daily hits. Lately it's an alley cat singing the Billy Holiday blues, "Well, my man, he don't treat me like he used to. He say he love me, but he don't bring me flowers no mo'." My achy, breaky ego shows up in my dreams at night, spinning tales of old boyfriends wooing me and handsome strangers sweeping me off my feet on the dance floor. It so bad wants to feel the rush of our courtship again - to be reminded that I am still that woman that he wanted so bad. I know I am not nearly the first wife to feel this, nor will I be the last. It's the stuff that keeps romance novels selling and advice columns thriving.

But then (thank god) to save me from myself comes a crystalline moment of family bliss, so pure, so strong that it banishes all this nonsense into vapor. The other morning the boys and I were reading in our newly fashioned "clubhouse" - Gabriel's walk-in closet decked from floor to ceiling in cozy blankets, pillows and stuffed animals - when daddy paid us a surprise visit. He's usually snoozing away and our clubhouse reading is my way to keep us all quiet to let Daddy get his zzzzz's. So all four of us snuggled up cozily and read books and I had a brilliant aha moment: Rachel, dear girl, you have a loving, healthy family. All of this sacrifice might become worth it. The scales might, just might begin to tip in your favor so that the enjoyment of one another outweighs the hard labor. The bliss I felt was so creamy rich. Time stopped for a moment while I internally sighed in happiness and loved my husband and boys like crazy. We warmed up the cubby with our loving embraces, me holding Gabriel and daddy holding Noah, and I felt whole as a woman, mother and wife.

Two minutes later my husband picked up his crackberry and whooshed into provider/worker/corporate slave mode that lasted until that night's inverted-spoon, twitching-to-sleep scenario. But I love this man, my husband man. I love him for all he does for us and all his quirks, I really do. As I type this he is away on a business trip, working hard for us,  and I'm reading the book for women only ~ what you need to know about the inner lives of men. It's telling me in no uncertain terms that I need to give it up to my husband or else. So I'm psyching myself to stay awake tonight for him when he arrives home. Easy for me to say now in the morning. But come nighttime, it will be a sacrifice of some tempting pillow time. But my man, he deserves a little something more than just living kids as evidence of his wife's duties completed. Maybe the boys and I will swing by Victoria's Secret on our way home from Playwerx today and they can help me pick out some spicy new lingerie to motivate me for daddy tonight. 

I'll let you know how it goes....

Thursday, January 22, 2009

mommy flake factor

I've become flaky. I never thought this could happen to me. I have always been chronically early, overly remembering, mega-methodical, obsessively organized - and judging others negatively who were not. Now I can't remember a damn thing. I can literally put a library return on top of my keys and somehow forget it on the way out the door. Somehow, I say. Hmmm, let's replay the getting-out-the-door-with-two-little-boys scenario:  Sling gaping diaper bag over shoulder while holding baby and simultaneously wiping two pouring noses, getting two pairs of shoes on, stopping one child from eating playdough and the other from throwing heavy objects off the porch, and running back inside to grab hats, sunscreen and cell phone I've already forgotten.  Oh, and when I bent over to do one of the aforementioned tasks, my bag of course spilled out half its hastily-packed contents, so now I must swat away four greedy, grabbing paws. On second thought, no wonder I forgot the damn DVD. 

I often describe having two children this young as circuit blowing. The demands come in such urgent gushes, requiring such superheroic response that even this well seasoned multi-tasker falls short. So something's gotta give. And it does. Memory, vocabulary, urinary continence (just kidding). Words, any word that I need to use in a sentence... gone. "Gabriel, stop hitting that um , that,  um, that..." God, I can't even remember what word I forgot.  Lateness becomes the new early and organization is out the door. Who can possibly be on time when waiting for a napping baby to wake up who took 20 minutes of rocking and screaming to get to sleep? Who can possibly commit to which pocket, drawer or cabinet to put what in when a toddler is constantly grabbing  it out and throwing it into the bushes or subwoofer anyway? And who can possibly get birthday and holiday gifts out to even their dearest of friends and family when teething, time changes and flu bugs keep coming at us. I can't even get it together to push a button and send a free eCard, that's how lame I am these days. 

However, on the bright side, I've acquired skills I never knew existed. I've become brilliant at packing a multitude of finger foods into very small tupperware containers, at stocking my diaper bag with enough of both size diapers that I don't have to bum one off a stranger at the playground, at whipping out the kleenex and swabbing noses before a little hand smears it all over, and at making really good animal sounds when reading about Farmer Jones and Farmer Brown. Thankfully these skills have become far more important to me than my former ability to get all library materials returned on time.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

When daddy's away the mice will play

I used to be petrified when my husband told me he was going out of town. How will I ever survive the kids at night all alone??  Now I rejoice - I don't have to cook dinner! Yippppeeee! It is nearly impossible to do so with two whiners grabbing at my legs, reaching for the stove knobs and putting everything in their mouths that I've hastily dropped on the floor in the name of  rushed food prep. I've explained this to him and he's totally cool with my not cooking. But when he's in town I feel a decidedly wifely obligation to  provide him with something relatively home cooked after a long, grueling day out in the jungle.

All this to say: the boys and I are free to do whatever we damn well please tonight and tomorrow night and the next night. They don't eat a proper "meal" anyway,  but rather snack, smoosh, throw and play with their food, so why not take them out and mess up someone else's floor and give myself a well-deserved break from swabbing down the deck for 20 minutes after dinnertime.

I'll probably let them do a couple of other "illegal" things too, like run around screaming in the morning when chronic-night-owl, non-morning-person daddy is usually trying to sleep. Oh and shhhhhhh, don't say a word... I'll let them jump on the couch, eat sand at the beach, pull the toilet paper roll, and take out and clank every single pot and pan. Why fight the machine? I've got much more pressing issues to tackle like keeping them from killing each other and sticking forks into outlets. Not to mention the endless snot-wiping, nail-trimming, nappy-hair-comb-outs and diaper-duties.

So we're cool with you outta town travelin' daddy. We can't wait 'til you're home safe and sound with us again, eating Haagen-Dazs coffee ice cream and reading bedtime books. Until then, mommy's off dinner duty :)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

01.20.09 ~ Monumental Inauguration Day

I cried this morning watching officers salute Barack Obama walking through the hallway to the Inaugural podium. This is an enormously meaningful event for me because my sons will grow up in a new era, never having to know the prejudice or discrimination they may have experienced had they been born in my birth year of 1968. Like Barack Obama, my sons have a white mother and a black father. Today they are inaugurated into a brand new United States where they can call themselves americans not african americans. 

For a formerly self-admitted political ignorant, it is huge that I not only watched all the debates, but actually fought tooth and nail through baby defiance to do so. Noah was a newborn and his witching hour landed splat during the pinnacle of every debate, so I  had to bounce him outside the living room door on our porch, straining to  hear anything the candidates said over his screams. But I got to watch come hell or high water. Noah was a bit older and more well adjusted to the planet by the time the McCain debates came along, so it was much easier to make out the speaking points. Not that it really mattered to me all that much. Admittedly due to my political ignorance on the issues, I was much more aware of each candidate's facial expressions and body language than the content of their dialogue. So by performing my well-practiced multi-tasking skills I could intermittently glimpse the debate and distract two boys just fine.  By the time election night came, both boys were peacefully asleep, so Charles and I got the pleasure of snuggling up on the floor in front of the TV when Obama's victory was announced. 

Today the boys and I snuck out of the apartment early to our complex' fitness center while daddy was sleeping and watched the initial live coverage of motorcades parading and people flooding the National Mall. When we came home to wake up daddy for the main event, he was already dancing around the living room in his underwear with a sparkle in his eye I will never forget. Nothing, and I mean nothing gets that man out of bed early. But Barack Obama's Inauguration did! We actually got to watch the whole thing together as a family. Gabriel made it all the way until about 7 minutes into Obama's speech, at which point he chose Miss Spider's Bug a Boo Day DVD over the coverage. Noah made it a couple more minutes before he went down for his first easy-to-put-down, long-lasting nap in an exhausting week of illness and shitty, wakeful sleep. Guess he needed a little zzzzzz time to process the magnitude of today's events. :)) 

Monday, January 19, 2009

another disgusting poo blog

On a non-offensive-to-the-senses note before I descend into the disgusting part... these are the boyz in the crib. Aren't they cute? We had a way too early morning call today which gave  me the chance to read and reread just about every single book we own, organize and reorganize our bounty of new giraffe-sized and zebra-sized diapers from Costco, as well as field two really big poos from the boys, and surprisingly, two from me. Which brings me to the disgusting part...

How did I do personal hygiene before baby wipes came into my life? The thought of not using them for my own post-poo wiping is really gross to me now that they pretty much take the place of a shower 1/2 of the time. How could I have ever thought a coupla swipes with regular ole' big people toilet paper actually did the job? I know the truth now, and the truth is that there is still just enough residual crap left behind after a pass or two of dry toilet paper to warrant not just one, but a few more swipes with baby wipes to get the job totally done. 

Alrighty then, is that disgusting enough for you? I may sound obsessed with poo between this post and the never poop alone one...because I am. How could I not be? Poo is my world with the diapering of an infant and toddler. Colors, consistencies, sizes, smells and guesses at its contents have become fodder for conversation between me and Gabriel as we deal with his, mine and little Noah's poops.

Which brings me to my idea for the first official event of the Mommy Olympics, should they ever be invented - Poopy Diaper Changing - the goal:  effectively removing all offensive poop debri with as few baby wipes as possible. Using only one wipe at a time the competitive mommy would have to get a smashed up poop entirely off the baby's ass without getting any shit on her hands, letting the baby touch the poo or dip its heels into it. Ideally we'd see expert mommies come out of the woodwork tackling this feat with less than 3 wipes, as I've found that is my absolute minimum for a really messy poo.

Sorry so icky, but don't say I didn't warn you. :)

Friday, January 16, 2009

Singing Lexapro's praises

I read a fascinating article after the Tsunami about many of the native animals who'd run up high in the mountains, far from the flood's devastation. They innately felt the storm coming and ran for higher ground. Amazing.

My children sensed my Postpartum Anxiety-fueled storms coming and unfortunately had no way to escape. Like the hard-to-identify,  low-grade eating/exercise disorder I suffered with for 17 years, my Postpartum Anxiety was tricky to name and treat. But make no  mistake, it was there. The severe insomnia, heart palpitations, obsessively racing mind (non-stop "monkey brain" as my doctor coined it), unfounded fears and intense anger became unbearable. Its onset was immediate after the birth of my first son, but gradual with my second. I scared my children, my husband and myself. I got worked up at the slightest challenge in the day, which is every moment when in the first months of raising two under two. (phrase coined by - so satisfyingly succint)

The truest truism of motherhood: "If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy," ('s tagline - so well put I could just cry.) I fought tooth and nail against going on SSRI's (dun dun dun dunnn..... antidepressants) the first time around, only to delay my sanity 'til 3 1/2 months into motherhood. It took even longer the second time because I was fine when Noah was first born - but crazy by the time he was 5/6 months.  When I finally sought help from my primary care doc to get me back on antidepressants, I realized I had to set aside my idiotic ego and do it for my sons, if not for me. It wasn't fair to subject them to the intensity and unpredictability of my rage and fatigue.

With my first bout of Postpartum Anxiety I took Paxil. It worked, but was really hard getting on and off, leaving me definite I'd never do that again. This time around my doc suggested Lexapro. It was super duper easy and gentle to start. I've been on for about 2 1/2 months now and all my symptoms are gone. The two most important benefits: I can sleep,  and I can cope much, much better with the daily challenges of the first year with my infant and toddler.

My boys need their mommy, and they really need her to be happy. And I am. I am enjoying them so much more. Gabriel my toddler took the brunt of my anger, never knowing what to expect when I'd come get him in the morning after literally one hour of sleep, or after nap time when I'd struggled with Noah for hours trying unsuccessfully to get him down. (at that point he wouldn't go down because I was so freaked out) Now Gabriel spontaneously tells me, "I'm happy," and "I'm having fun." My heart melts. I praise Lexapro. 

Postpartum Anxiety is to Postpartum Depression as an exercise disorder is to an eating disorder: it is not as well acknowledged, understood or diagnosed.  Many mothers think if they're not lying on the couch wanting to kill themselves or their child, then nothing is really wrong. However, as soon as I began opening my mouth about my anxiety, many mothers came forward relating their similar experiences. Please, if you or anyone you know or anyone they know suffers with postpartum anxiety, urge them to get treatment. It is rampant, it is real and it deserves immediate medical attention. It profoundly effects the health and environment of the entire family. 

I am a bohemian-at-heart, earth-crunch-granola girl by nature, anti-establishment brat. But when it comes to illness affecting the quality of mine and my family's health... Lexapro, take me away!

Gabriel and the ladder of many rungs

Last week I got to experience an incredible demonstration of the innate human drive to triumph. Gabriel decided he wanted to try climbing up the hardest ladder on our apartment complex' play structure - one he'd only unsuccessfully tried in the past. This time he had a few more months worth of growth in him and was able to get to about the second rung before he got miserably irritated, whimpering, "Mommy, mommy, MOMMY!" I gently coached from my spot perched at the top, coaxing him to try again. The next time he got one rung higher before tears of anger and frustration rolled down his face and the desperate "Mommy, mommy, MOMMY!" whining started. I persuaded him to try again and this time he struggled and moaned and complained and probably farted too, out of sheer exertion... and he did it. 

When he stood up safely on board the structure, staring wide-eyed and speechless into my eyes, I could have died and gone to heaven - I was so honored to be there for him, witnessing and validating his achievement. But good thing I didn't because I would have missed the next best part as he excitedly did it over and over again, mastering his new skill. How totally cool. We're wired from the start to try and try again until we succeed. Such vital energy. Such life force. Such joi d'vie.

diaper bag drama

This is my diaper bag. It is a stylish bag and a noble bag. As you can plainly see, it is struggling to stay in one piece. Its days are long, but it rests well at night knowing it has succeeded in a job well done keeping my shit together.

There is no way in hell one diaper bag could ever, ever be big enough to deal with the load that must be carried by a mother of two boys in diapers. My diaper bag is huge and it still can't come close to gracefully fitting everything I need for a simple 2 hour outing. How could any bag possibly fit diapers, wipes, changing pads, changes of clothing, burp clothes, tissues, hats, Cheerios, applesauce, grapes, crackers, bibs, bottles, sippies, and spoons. Plus just a couple basic toiletries for mommy like a backup tampon and a Burt's Bees lip balm. Can't even think about fitting in my past-life favs like lavender facial mist, two shades of mac lipstick, nail file, business cards, cute glasses, iPod, day timer and a pen. Aside from not fitting physically, Gabriel would try drinking the mist and eating the lipstick, Noah would chew the nail file and rip the cards to shreds, Gabriel would throw and break both the glasses and iPod instantaneously, the day timer would be history and the pen would be all over both their faces. 

Every morning I beg the sides of my diaper bag to please expand big enough to shove in all the crap I need for a morning at the playground. It doesn't budge, already pissed off about the forthcoming beating it will take when Gabriel begins mercilessly grabbing at it's every pocket for hidden treasures (read: food) and Noah begins gnawing on it's buckle, sending drool rolling down it's strap. It ain't glamorous, the life of a diaper bag. But it is a life well spent. A life of duty and a life of honor -  toting my shit.  Thank you diaper bag. I love you. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Noah's avocado facial

A million years ago when I was a massage therapist in LA, I worked at the high end Aqua Day Spa in Santa Monica where we had to do stupid and overpriced "treatments" like Cucumber & Milk Body Washes, Spirulina Mud Wraps, and Honey Scrubs. They were the most worthless and messy jokes-of-an-indulgence ever. I felt ridiculous pouring milk over someone lying on a sheet of plastic  covered in cucumber guts, creating a standing swamp around them. The whole food-based body treatments thing just seemed like a big scam, but they continue to be an expensive staple on exclusive spa menus.

Don't believe the hype! You need look no further than our humble kitchen to get in on the fiercest new innovator of food-based facials around: Noah Philippe and his Fantastic Avocado Facial for Younger Looking Skin. Simple: just smear avocado all over face. Then smear some more, and some more. And then rub eyes (due to sleepiness) to make sure you get the mandatory eyelid area. Then grab ears (due to teething) and get the hairline. Make sure to wipe nose (due to snot) for a nostril touch up and...voila! You're lookin' and feelin' a million bucks. :)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

It's the end of my vanity as I know it, and I feel fine

I've proudly invented a new extreme sport called Speed Grooming. It takes place only in the homes of the pressed-for-alone-time mother who prioritizes a damn shower before eating, reading, watching TV, surfing the net, talking on the phone, and laundry, dishes, and vacuuming. Speed Grooming entails wetting, scrubbing and drying as many surfaces of your body as possible in the blink of an eye while still on mommy detail, but between mommy duties. When I get the >5 minute slot appear in my schedule - that heavenly flicker of peace when I've successfully gotten Noah down for his morning nap and Gabriel is still semi-content watching Cars or Chicken Run or monster trucks on youtube - I run straight to the bathroom. This window of opportunity for Speed Grooming is brief, because Gabriel will soon become discontent with what he's watching and signal his need for immediate assistance by letting out a demanding yell just loud enough to possibly wake the baby. (((!)))

So, fast and furious to the bathroom I run where first things are first: I offer myself a solo go at the toilet while I'm of course warming up the shower. Multi-tasking is even more imperative now than ever. Into the shower. Priorities in case of premature shower sabotage: underarms and crotch. Next is a quick facial scrub, then an even quicker shampoo and if I still have unencumbered shower time I go all the way and indulge in a full body once over with the scrubby gloves. Ahhhh... sweet indulgence. But no time to waste. Out of the shower. A slap of facial SPF, quick slather of body lotion, a quicker comb through the hair, drag the undies and bra over still-damp skin, race to the dresser drawers for a hopefully matching outfit and out to the living room to abate Gabriel's now non-ignorable calls for attention.

Gone are the days of perusing through my variety of mac lipstick tubes or running some yummy smelling product through my hair. Forget it. Ain't even worth the effort at this point. I've got hats, hair bands and cheap Goodie hair clips to deal with my non-styled do. If you see these on me, it's strictly business. I end up drinking from my son's sippy cup all day, so I surely don't want lipstick stains added to my already overloaded dish duty.

I distinctly remember a lively pre-marriage dinner conversation with all my super y single friends. We were out at our favorite mexican restaurant celebrating my move from singledom in LA to shacking up in San Diego with my soon-to-be-husband. They were all grilling me as to whether I'd be having children. But the subtext of the question was, "Are you really going to leave us and turn in your cuteness to become an unkempt, unstylish, unsexy mommy?" Every time I now leave the house without so much as having seen my reflection in the mirror, I think of one of my friend's face as she snarled her lip and raised her eyebrow and said she never wants to have kids because she never wants to be that mother who wears formless sweats and keeps her hair in a ponytail. Well let me tell you, I now understand why mommies do so. If I'm going to have my every shirt and pant immediately smeared in snot and food, am I really going to pull out all the stops and wear my y bright red salsa dancing dress to the playground? And if my hair and ears are going to be pulled, am I really going to bother scrunching, styling and adorning with jewels? So, yes, I've pretty much adopted the mommy uniform. One day I was feeling kinda feisty and decided to wear an outfit from my other life (eons ago) and that was the day Noah decided to spit up 7, count them seven times, on my green velvet low-riders and Cirque du Soliel frock. So now I'm super happy with a monochromatic Costco or Marika parking lot sale outfit. Pants: $8. Shirt $8. Why shop anywhere else?

But obviously I am still totally vein (why else even try with hats and goody clips?) , just not as vein as I used to be. And thank god because seeing my boys thrive is so much more fulfilling than being really cute. Well, at least as fulfilling as being really cute. :))

Monday, January 12, 2009

org and re-org

This having babies business really meets my need for the feeling of accomplishment that comes with endlessly organizing miscellaneous things that can never ever be fully organized and are perpetually in a state of needing reorganized. Having two baby boys means I get the nonstop opportunity to hone my mess-moving skills. Here's me in deep thought with scrunched brow, eyeing the kitchen or bedroom or laundry room or bathroom situation : "Okay, what would happen if I moved this mess over there, and move that mess over there so I can clear a space for a new mess to be made right here." Add into the situation our family's weekly expedition to Costco and mama's got a full-time job stocking, restocking,  inventorying stock, subbing back-up stock, and managing overstock mayhem. 

A large part of this org/re-org cycle is cleaning. Endless cleaning. The amount of poop, pee, spit up, drool, cementified pasty cereal sludge, smashed-into-the-carpet oatmeal and avocados, shredded chicken and fish, and liquified crackers and applesauce I deal in is astounding. You'd think with the daily demand to do piles of dishes, swab up messy floors, and wipe down disgusting surfaces I'd have become a spic n' span expert by now.  But no. My cleaning remains pathetic at best. It's really just another case of push-the-mess-somewhere-else-for-later so that I can stop my toddler from teetering on his step stool to pull a knife from the counter while my infant crawls with vigor under the table to eat some who-knows-how-old, unidentifiable crusty lump. 

Reorganizing kids' clothing drawers is an exercise in futility second only to trying to keep sand out of a baby's mouth at the beach. Both my little guys find pulling clothing out of drawers supremely entertaining, mine included. I've found extraneous pairs of my panties floating around in their pajama drawers, and everywhere else in the house for that matter. Plus, I'm always in such a mad frenzy to get clothing on to one child while the other is either screaming bloody murder or about to endanger his life somehow, that I've no time to keep sorted drawer piles in tact. They're both growing out of sizes at light speed anyway - making an eventual reorg overhaul imminent -  so what's the use in attempting drawer tidiness now?

But when it comes down to it, the truth of the matter is that I've become addicted to this reorganization cycle. I find it annoyingly satisfying. When I'm exhausted and burnt out from one mess I find myself looking around expectantly to see if there is more to do. It feels exhilarating to have it all momentarily "done" - as if that exists.  A not-so-tiny part of me thrives on the accomplishment of a reorg well done. So in this light, I guess I've never had it so good. My reorg addict is permanently in  business at least for the next 17 years or so. Good news for this junkie.

Never poop alone again

I was reading the title of an article on the cover of a La Leche League magazine promoting the family bed (co-sleeping) called "Who wants to sleep alone?" I thought very loudly to myself, "I do! That's who! I want my very own entire night's uninterrupted sleep, thank you very much."

Now a much more pertinent question in my world is, "Who wants to ever have to poop alone again?" Why ...  when you can have two brilliant little boyz buzzing around the toidy bowl while you plop away? And if you do want to poop alone again, don't be going around having babies because you will soon experience the non-optional family toilet, as opposed to choosing the family bed or not. And grotesquely enough, I like it this way. I honestly don't mind my infant yanking the toilet paper roll while my toddler hovers next to the flusher waiting for my cue:

"Okay Gabriel, wait until I'm finished. Wait, wait WAIT!!! Don't flush until I'm all done! I'm still pooping. ... Okay... all done. You can flush now."

Just thought I'd share a little slice of our morning routine.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

ban boring baby books, dammit!

OMG, if I have to read another round of "meeska mooska mickey mouse let's go to my clubhouse," I am going to end up crouched in the corner of a mental ward vacantly babbling "cheers we've got ears!" and "hot dog!" as I rock myself and stare off into space.

Why do so many children's board books bore me to tears? I'm supposed to use that enthusiastic mommy reading voice that intonates up at the end of each sentence when reading about such stimulating things as farm animals, front end loaders, and potties. Actually I don't mind the potty stuff due to my underground interest in all things poop.

Speaking of farm animals... Last Christmas I went to a free Santa photo shoot at our local public library where they generously gave out beautiful brand new books as gifts to the kiddies. They handed us a wonderful thick edition of  Golden Tales' Farm Tales - something like 20 stories in one. What a gold mine, I erroneously thought. A year-and-a-half later I find myself neighing, baaing, honking, mooing, quacking, woofing, meowing and cockadoodledooing about a thousand times too many every single morning as we take our obligatory tour through Farmer Jones' & Farmer Brown's farmyards over and over again. Oy fuckin' vey! 

I've flat out refused to re-read Smudge anymore, the on-the-edge-of-your-seat thriller about a dog who notices it's raining outside so he goes inside. And then it stops raining, so he goes outside again. Enticing story line. How does this shit get published? Every time I had to read Smudge I thought to myself, "Man, who the hell writes this crap anyway? Anything can get published as a kids book. I spent a year-and-a-half of blood, sweat, and tears and went into a grave amount of debt getting my brilliant book inspiring women to love their bodies published only to have it fail... while some simpleton writes a couple of  paragraphs about a dog going inside and outside and it actually winds up on my shelf."

Oh, and Curious George? Don't even get me started. Catatonia. Pure catatonia. 

Okay, so ending on a gracious note, I do love reading to my sons and there are actually two totally cool books I like reading the most:  Zen Shorts and The Three Questions. Both ironically deal with the eternal virtues of simply being present and of service to the one you're with. Which in my case boils down to getting real happy re-reading Smudge, Curious George and The Animals of Farmer Jones, 'cuz all that really matters is that my beautiful sons are in my lap, soft hands resting on my forearms, sweet eyes fixed on the page, ears tuned in to mommy... and I feel warm and whole and loved.

Friday, January 9, 2009

mean blog

This is a mean blog. I apologize in advance to the weak at heart. If you feel up to the task, hear me out anyway. It's all in good fun, for my own guilty under my breath snarfy chuckles.

Unless I know and love you, I don't care how old your child is.

Just because I had babies doesn't mean I'm automatically interested in other people's kids. Giving birth did not magically turn me from a self-involved exhibitionist into a baby and/or child lover. Except for mine of course -I love them to death and am infinitely fascinated by their every mundane development. But that interest does not unfortunately carry over to every other miscellaneous child I encounter daily. And let me tell you, I encounter tons of them since that's what I do all day every day- be with my kids where other all-day-every-day-with-their-kids-mommies are. You know, the usual suspects: the grocery store, the park, the zoo, the library... the grocery store, the park, the zoo, the library.

It's the retarded default question that every catatonically bored parent pushing their kid on the swing next to mine or waiting in line at Vons always asks me: How old is he? I know it is a politehood, and I always answer back politely. But the fact is that I never re-gift the question because quite frankly I just don't care how old their child is. It doesn't interest me in the slightest. I'm sorry. I apologize for this socially incorrect truth, this blasphemy of motherhood, this overtly rude confession. But motherhood has not instantaneously transformed me into a child-o-phile. I don't coo at every passing baby and child. (okay, some of them...the teeny tiny itty bitty newborns do interest me a little, just because of the sheer tininess of them) I don't wonder what developmental milestones every random child in my path has hit. I don't suffer any burning curiosity to know what foods your child likes and dislikes, what stage or non-stage of potty training they're at, what you'll do or not do for your child's next birthday or when they nap or don't nap. And I certainly don't think every baby and kid is cute. Not even close.

So please, unless you really do care and are genuinely curious... you don't have to ask me my child's age just to make small talk in a boring situation. I'm fine with just glancing at each other's kids with an obligatory (perhaps forced) weak grin - without comment - and moving on to our next parental task like wiping down a gushing snotty nose or finding a thrown off shoe or ripping away the stolen snickers bar from my cleptomanic-in-training's greedy little paws in the grocery line.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Tantrumming toddler asked for a hug

Wow, I feel like I might possibly be able to begin thinking of myself as sort of a good mommy. Is this not the single biggest insecurity of every parent alive: Am I a bad parent? Am I doing this right or failing miserably?
A few dozen tantrums ago I asked Gabriel if he needed a hug during the height of his insanity. This generous action was inspired by a suggestion from a article on toddler discipline I was desperately reading in response to my current job description. He said "yes," I gave him one, and voila, tantrum aborted. I was shocked and amazed. So I asked him to please tell me if he needed a hug again. A few dozen un-aborted garden variety tantrums transpired over the next couple of weeks... until today. He didn't want to leave Vons for some unknown reason and was throwing a good ole' hizzy as I relatively calmly guided us towards home.
And then he did it.
"Hug," he asked quietly, stopping himself in his mighty crazy tracks.
"You want a hug?" I asked in beautiful disbelief.
"Yes," he answered.
"I would love to give you a hug," I graciously replied as I kneeled down in a rare and  crystallized moment of parental satisfaction and bear-hugged the crap out of him. We then walked the rest of the way home peacefully and quietly.
Love oozed out of  my every pore. Love for him for being able to recognize and articulate a need and get it met . And most importantly some much needed self love for witnessing a mommy job well done. A loving pat on my back for maybe, just maybe, being an effective parent. 
Now,  if he could just abort his impulse to dump his loads in his diapers and instead actually say "potty" before he lies and says "I'm pooping." Which translates to "I already pooped in my diaper and am now going to terrorize you by running away zig-zaggedly as fast as possible so that you feel like a total idiot chasing me and my poopy ass." :)

Friday, January 2, 2009

new poop?

Okay, I really don't have much to say about the new year except that the pooping situation in this household has got to change. Let's see...where to start? Hmmm... I guess life becomes a little bit unmanageable when your husband feels he must go down to the apartment complex pool bathrooms to take a dump, mommi has had to squat outside in the highly manicured bushes to unload in the dark at 5am, toddler G has so outgrown his maximally sized 6 diapers with his un-potty trained, maximally sized pee and poo that the soiled clothing, blankets & sheets overload the laundry basket on a daily basis...add into that lil' baby noah's contribution and i just can't even get the dirty diapers out of the house fast enough to prevent severe stinky trash build up. 

whew, feels good to just tell it like it is.

you see, the placement of noah's crib in our 2-bedroom-apartment kitchen-to-bathroom hallway laundry nook (as opposed to  in gabriel's room where they will wake each other up at this point in teething/time-changing/cold & flu time) has rendered both of our potties off-limits during sleeping hours. which quite frankly, sucks the big one. momma's gotta do her pooping when she's gotta do it. which most often comes between 5 & 6 am ( i know: obscenely early), which also coincides with noah's overly-awake too-early-in-the-morning wakings --- and since the toidy literally borders the door next to the head of his crib --- i either have to hamper any sound coming from my end (impossible...and pun intended), hold it for a long time (not a comfortable option), or find an alternate dumping ground.

(((sigh))) lord.

daddy won't even do this juggle. he gets his keys & his crackberry & heads straight for the pool bathrooms. it's his new sanctuary. his home away from home.

gabriel on the other hand has no problem dropping a load right in front of us in his diaper --- fully aware he's  doing it, alerting us in proper english "i'm pooping", yet entirely unwilling to sit his ass down on the super cool baby bjorn potty seat with mommy in tow reading his favorite mind-numbingly boring mickey mouse book.

(((sigh))) lordy.

anyway, other than poop issues, the new year sees our family healthy, growing & looking forward to ever-increasing love between each other.