Feeling a little better

I'm having a bad day

No, really. I am. It's not Hollis-related (he's napping right now).

I woke up mad at the world. It started when Anthony tried to cuddle with me at 2 am. That's my hot time. And not the "hot" as in sexy time, I'm talking when your body temp shoots up. Everyone has a time at night when that happens and mine, inevitably, is when Anthony wants to snuggle.

I'm not mad at him. I'm mad at the bad timing.

Then, the radio was on the fritz.

Then the scale told me I weighed 159 lbs when just two days ago I weighed 154 lbs when in August I weighed 148 lbs.

Then Anthony, trying to help me feel better about myself, suggested that I "get out more" with Hollis to "exercise."

Then my face hurt and my eyes burned because the shit that's in the air here wreaks havoc on my contacts and my constitution in general.

Then I had to eat breakfast standing up in the kitchen because Anthony was leaving for work early so he could come home early.

Then I wasn't sure what to do regarding working out. It seems every time I take Hollis to the gym he gets sick and I have a trip to SF coming up next week and I don't want him ill for that, so I'm confounded.

Then I think do I do a work out tape? Well, ok, maybe, but I just ate, so I need to wait a little while.

Then what about my morning ritual of hopping online, checking email, blogging, whatever while watching The View? It's my one indulgence every day and I SO look forward to it.

Then I guess I'll be ready for my yoga tape after The View. I sure hope Hollis isn't awake by then. (Update, he woke up exactly as the The View ended.)

And my eczema is back in spades and it's cracked and sore this time. I can't even wear my wedding rings.

So that's where I am right now. I'm sitting in my chair, blogging, The View is on, I'm drinking my chai maté and I'm fighting my old friend of self-loathing. It's come out of no where.

I told Anthony when we were kissing goodbye this morning that the reason I get fucking nutty on him whenever he tries to "solve" my body problems with helpful workout tips is because I feel like I'm letting him down somehow and all I want to hear from him is, "Oh sweetie, you're beautiful and I love your body. You'll figure it all out."

And he says to me, "All I want is for you to be happy with you. That will make me happy."


It'd make me happy, too. I don't know where this is coming from. For months I was mysteriously losing weight and I was elated. Finally I was just living my life and things were going my way, I thought. Then I started breastfeeding less and I started putting the pounds back on.

I'll be brutally honest: I like the way I'm living my life and I don't want to do a whole lot differently, but I do want to be fitter. Yes, I'm one of those. I want it to happen to me, not make it happen. The only option in this scenario is to be happy with my body and health as it is, instead of thinking I should be something different.

But oh... if only this were an easy thing to do. My mom told me once, years ago while I was in a fit of frustration and unhappiness about my weight, "Just eat less, Jessica!" For her, that was always the answer for her lithe, 5 foot 9 inch frame.

I've been watching The Biggest Loser religiously and I see how bodies react to working out - even putting weight on in a single week, but I still want to see immediate, positive results. I know my body well enough to know that I need prolonged, consistent working out to yield changes. A month isn't even enough. I need at least 12 solid weeks... so why I can't do this for myself is beyond my intellectual reach, and I'm embarrassed.

I tend to beat up on myself when I'm feeling badly about something. If I spend more money than I expected on something you can bet I'll start feeling like shit about myself. It's at the point now that I can recognize that it's not a body issue at all, but something different all together. Somewhere I learned a Pavlovian response of self-loathing whenever I did something I didn't feel good about instead of just avoiding said behavior. It's a cycle I've been trying to break for a decade. Because if I could release myself from this beast, it could very well be the key to solid inner peace. For real.

I'm also exhausted by all the bullshit out there. Eat carbs, don't eat carbs, eat protein, eat Omega-3s, 12 pieces of fruit, 14 veggies, lean meat, no saturated fats, no trans fats, organic, nothing processed, 2000 calories, 1200 calories, 3 meals, 6 meals, no dairy, no wheat, no gluten, high-fiber, low-fiber, the right kind of fiber, fish, not tuna, eat a Mediterranean diet, a Japanese diet, walk 10,000 steps a day, do strength training, break a sweat, exercise 30 minutes a day, eat yogurt, avoid lactose, bacon is bad, eggs are good, yolks are not, meditate, get enough rest, no food after 7, protein and fat for breakfast, fruit for breakfast, no cantaloupe, no bread, no salt, no alcohol, drink one glass of red wine, no sugar, support humane treatment of food animals, buy local, support your local agribusiness, walk, don't drive, buy a hybrid, be green, recycle, don't vaccinate your baby, vaccinate your baby, use cloth diapers, not disposable, but chlorine-free disposables are ok, beware of autism, make your own baby food, use glass jars, not plastic, read books, write your own story, be polite, but answer to no one, know yourself, improve yourself, beware of the financial crisis, don't be in debt, don't live outside your means, don't forget yourself, take care of yourself, take care of your family, your marriage, your man, your dog, don't be inhumane to pets, be kind to your neighbors, do what's right for you, but don't forget your family, take care of dying animals, know when to treat them, know when to euthanize them, manage your emotional boundaries, give, but don't be a doormat, love, but don't be reckless, go to school, be smart, get a job, be a career-woman, take care of your babies, be supermom, don't be a martyr, don't be an asshole, bake a casserole, save the planet, save yourself, save the future, be a responsible citizen, vote.

It's all there... in my head, weighing on me like a million pounds. It's no wonder I'm waking up depleted and sad and mad. I'm paralyzed with the enormity of it all. Please, I don't want any words of advice. Words of encouragement, fine. But not advice. I can't hear it right now. I'll implode if I hear one more thing I should do. It's enough already. I know it all. It's all there. I just need to let the dust settle and I'll feel better.

This is a private entry for the public sphere. I have no idea why I just did this, but here it is.


A hooting good time

It's hard to imagine how damn cute Hollis is. No matter what I put on him, no matter what I do to him he is utterly, achingly cute. I am surely biased, but no other chubby little baby does it for me like he does. I have, literally, hundreds, maybe even thousands of pictures of him doing cute things. Above is today's daily cuteness.

We went to Lady Bird Johnson's Wildflower Center's Goblins in the Garden. It's really a pre-Halloween event for bigger kids, but I thought it'd be fun to take Hollis in his costume anyway since we won't be trick-or-treating (too young for that, too). Anthony's in Dallas for work again, so mom and Terry came with me. We got there 15 minutes after it opened and had to park on the street due to a full parking lot already - crazy!
Hollis was a champ in his costume and just stared and stared at all the little butterflies, Spidermen, and Draculas running around. It didn't even occur to me to take a picture of any of the other kids. Why would I when I have The World's Cutest Baby in my arms, right??

Last weekend we went to a pumpkin patch where Hollis decided to walk while only holding onto my fingers (up until then he'd had no interest in that). We were all thrilled. He toddled around from one bunch of pumpkins to another - did you know they make some funky-ass pumpkins these days? Pumpkins with bumps and lumps and weird shit on them. - Unfortunately, I have no photos of those Pumpkin-steins - Anyway, Hollis busted out his cuteness then, too.

Here he is posing with blue pumpkins:
Now a bit of a non-sequitur: When I was giving him a bath tonight I was looking at his little pudgy belly and jiggly chops and I tried to imagine him as a fully grown man; broad shoulders, hairy, deep voice, taller than me. It made me want to cry for the wonder of it all. How do we ever go from such pure innocence to the adults that we are today? The sweet simplicity of a bundle of needs and pure love to emotionally defunct and injured adults. I understand more and more the idea that people had to make sense of this loss of innocence. How they ever came up with "original sin" is completely beyond me. There is truly nothing more innocent than a child... of virtually any age. I guess people just wanted an excuse to be able to treat their baby as if it were an adult that knew what was going on or something (??).

Ok, back to the cute Halloween stuff, last year, he was a lobster. Unable to do anything but eat, sleep, and poop he wore it Halloween night for about 15 minutes while friends held him and we took pictures. I was so cracked up I could hardly stand it. Isn't this hilarious? I wonder what other wonderful costumes I have to look forward to. French fries, pirates, fairies, an apple.

He's still gonna be the cutest damn kid on the planet - well, maybe one of two of the cutest once #2 makes his or her entrance (and no, I'm not pregnant, but I do plan on one sometime in the near future).

Here's one more (sickeningly) cute picture from his birthday.
You're welcome, world! I've done my part to make it better today!


Not amused

This picture pretty much says it all.

Hollis is currently battling a cold, imminent new teeth, separation anxiety, more will than ability, and a newfound dislike of chilled foods and carrots of any variety.

So, if you think you're having a bad day, think of lil' ol' Hollis in Texas and recalibrate.



Baby racket - the price we pay, literally

We just went to Hollis' one-year check-up and vaccination appointment. He's growing normally in all points, including weight, which means that we have to upgrade to a new car seat. Usually, at 20 lbs or 1-year old you can switch your baby around to face forward. Rear facing car seats are not equipped to do this, so that means you have to get a new one.

But if your baby is sort of in a gray area (20 lbs, but not a year old, a year old, but under-weight, etc.) then you need a convertible car seat. Or, maybe you're listening to the new experts who say that keeping your baby rear-facing for as long as possible (i.e. as long as he'll stand it) is really the safest for him and so that convertible car seat is your only option due to aforementioned weight-restrictions.

And the reason you didn't get a convertible car seat in the first place is because they're generally not very good for infants with floppy necks and you can't take them into a restaurant with you or use in some sort of travel-stroller system. Oy.

So, I've been researching convertible car seats which will be good for up to 65 lbs in some cases. Of course, the highest parent- and safety-rated one is over $200. OF COURSE. And as a parent, you feel like the biggest turd if you try to cut corners when it comes to your kids safety. Buying clothes at the consignment store? No biggie. Going the cheapest route possible on a car seat? Not cool. Oh, so not cool.

I try so hard to reconcile our one-income lifestyle with the growing needs of Hollis (and our future baby, whenever that happens). I research almost every purchase to death. Comparison shop, do the eBay thing, Craigslist, hand-me-downs, and I've hunted down the most obscure little online stores known to man just to save $5. But I still feel like I'm being robbed and I'm somehow and accomplice in it.

Five minutes after the first picture was taken. He loves that cupboard we keep full of things that are safe for him to play with.

I can't keep up with all the new gadgetry necessary. Although, I am doing my best to resist a constant buying pattern on crap. However, I splurged on some toys for Hollis' first birthday that I otherwise would never have gotten. I have been of the opinion that "flash" is for adults, not babies, but he overwhelmingly is drawn to all things with noise and lights and my old tupperware was fast losing its appeal. So, what was I to do? I went and bought him a little kitchen to put in his safe-zone in my kitchen. It has all the bells and whistles, literally, and songs and music and lights and the coolest kitchen sounds imaginable. He loves it in there and he will play and play in there while I cook dinner. - I like to imagine we're both cooking together! -

I also got him a noisy wobbly-ball thingy that makes noises and a little travel piano. If it weren't for his grandparents those would be the only modern toys he had!

I think one positive thing about being pretty isolated from other parents is I don't have a keep-up-with-the-Jones' complex. I don't have any idea what the Jones are doing to entertain their 12 month old, you know? I have an idea from the gym day care (did you know that they have these baby-swing things that infants just love and they sleep and sleep in them? Or these weird little dome thingies that a non-mobile baby will just stare at for an hour without moving or crying?? - yeah, me neither). And my friend, Les, with the twin girls, she also has a ton of cool stuff. Her house looks like tot's fantasy playland! So I've gotten some idea from her, too.

Anyway, I've been on a PBS kick lately and have been Netflixing all their documentaries where they take a 21st century family or group and put them in another time period and watch what happens. The kids always hate it at first (no TV, video games, etc.), but by the time they leave, without exception, every kid is amazed to realize they had fun without all those things and will miss the games they played when they only had their imagination and two hands.

That's what I want for Hollis. I want to be careful to not always buy the easy toy/gadget/whatever. Obviously, there's a line to be drawn, as I said before. I guess I've had to learn when to splurge and when to scrimp. I think I'm doing the right things, but it's definitely a learn-as-you-go kind of thing. It'd be great if money were no object, but I hate to say that, let alone think it, because money IS an object and always will be. So, let me amend that by saying, it'd be great if I could, with good conscience, be really irresponsible with my money and buy whatever I wanted for whatever reason. Ha!

Until then, it's Goodwill, eBay, and the occasional splurge on a high-end safety item for me!



I was just in Hollis' room swaying back and forth in the glider. Hollis was tucked up against me, nuzzled to my breast, making sweet baby noises as he drifted off to sleep.

A storm began to ping against the window panes and I could hear it intensify to a low din on the roof.

And Digby was nestled on the space left on my lap, sandwiching Hollis between us. Purring.

I've never really given it much thought, but those three sounds are my favorites. I feel like I was just handed a precious gift for no reason other than to receive one.

It's like the warm afterglow of a long, hot bath, but on my heart instead.

This is peace.


Happy Birthday, Hollis!!

I can't believe it! Today is Hollis' first birthday! How incredible a year this has been; it takes my breath way.

To sum up the last year I can honestly say it's been saturated in love, devotion, determination, and emotion.
  • tears
  • arguments
  • hugs
  • talks
  • laughter
  • delirium
  • purpose
  • exhaustion
  • humility
  • wonder
  • growth
  • peace
  • worry
  • success
  • confidence
  • confusion
  • fear
  • determination
  • mortality
  • kisses
I'm sure there are a thousand other things that I could say that would describe the last 12 months, but I'm at a loss to find them.

We're keeping it low key this year. Anthony's in Cupertino until late tonight and so my mom and Terry will be coming over after work for dinner and to open presents. Nana Kathleen and Great-Grandma Dorothy sent care-packages with presents wrapped in tissue paper. I took a note from that and wrapped a couple of presents in tissue paper, too. He'll have a great time ripping that shit to shreds.

Tomorrow and Saturday Anthony and I are packing up and heading to Guadalupe River State Park to camp for a couple of days (Hollis' first camping trip!) to celebrate as a family. I've been researching how to camp with a one-year old. Wish me luck. At least he's more discriminating about what he jams in his mouth these days.

I was thinking yesterday as I was going through some pictures that my world was so indescribably different one year ago. First of all, I was in labor and both terrified of and determined to have a safe, happy birthing experience . Second of all, I had no idea what it meant to be a mother and to have my own family, naturally. But my ignorance has been blissfully blown to smithereens starting one year ago today and every day since then.

I never understood moms who "missed" their kids when they were on America's Next Top Model or Biggest Loser, for example. I thought they were a little loopy; maybe even too attached (?). I can't believe I ever thought that. I miss Hollis if I go out to run errands without him! He's like a constant pressure on my heart and when he's not with me I feel it. It's like an amputee and a ghost-limb. I'm sure my non-mom friends think I'm a little overboard, too, but I swear it's real and totally normal to miss your baby! It's not unlike going on a trip without your dog and you miss his sweet doggie presence. It's just magnified about 1000 times.

So, here's my sweet puddin' pop on October 9th, 2007.
And here's Hollis this morning when I woke him up at 7:30.

Can you feel the love?? I sure can. Awww... my Sweet Baby Hollis is a year old.


Levi's mysterious ailment

Levi is 10 and a half years old and almost one year ago exactly, while 9 months pregnant, I found a suspicious lump on his belly. I took him to the vet that day and he was in surgery the very next. After tests were completed we discovered it was a mast cell tumor, stage 3 (the very worst kind). Anthony and I decided to do chemo since, despite the lump, you'd never guess he had cancer. He was eating, drinking, pooping, doing all his normal doggie things.

When Hollis was about 8 weeks old we started the chemo treatments in a town 30 miles away and bi-weekly blood work at our local vet's. It was scary packing up my new baby every other week never knowing if he'd make the trip up without needing a feeding, but it ended up being great practice getting out of the house and slipping in public/side of the road/parking lot emergency nursings. Levi was great throughout as only dogs can be.

We finished the round of chemo in the spring and decided that if it came back then we'd let nature take its course. The cost was too high and I don't exactly expect him to live another 10 years since he's such a big dog (90 lbs) and don't want to torture him with needles 4 or 5 times a week just to squeeze out another 9 months. Anyway, anyone with pets knows what I'm trying to say.

Since then, no lumps or bumps and ol' Levi has been in good health. He's stiffer and slower in general, but I'm not worried about any of that, though I do live in fear of finding another lump and the inevitable future that entails. So you can imagine my upset when Saturday evening Anthony and I heard Levi whimpering. I called him over to investigate and he was limping, favoring his right front leg. I began to touch him and discovered a giant mass on his rib cage and another great big lump on the top of his leg. I had no idea where these had come from! Just that morning he'd been fine! No limping, no lumps, no anything!

I kept an eye on him Sunday with plans to call the vet first thing Monday morning. As the day progressed his leg began to swell and the skin of his armpit turned a dark cherry red. Monday morning the only appointment I could get was Dr. Doogie's (aka Dr. Wisbrock) 5 o'clock ER slot. I took it since it was clear Levi was in pain and I didn't want to wait for his next available on Tuesday.

Long story short, Dr. Wisbrock has no idea what it is. At first he thought it was probably the cancer coming back and just moved to his front leg through the lymph node system (which would explain the edema (swelling)), but after seeing the red skin and finding no masses he chucked that idea. Turns out that snake bites cause a similar reaction! However, no bite wounds could be found, so now he's running a tick panel (which costs $200, by the way). Apparently ehrlichiosis is a possibility, as is Lyme disease.

I suppose, though, that if that all comes back negative then who knows what my poor doggie has.

It's weird 'cuz I'm relieved, but I'm also disappointed. This isn't "it," you know? That terrible day is still somewhere in my future, lurking. Anticipation is probably 99% of the shit that you feel about some dreaded event. The event itself is never as awful as you think it will be. I learned that lesson when my dad was dying. That's not to say I'm not thankful about our current limbo status. I'm glad my sweet dawg will still be around for a while to come. He deserves a happy ending to a great life and I'll definitely do everything I can to make sure it happens for him.

Have a happy dog biscuit-y day! Levi sure will!