My philosophy tied up with a bow

In my endeavors as a mother I've read a lot. I have the bible, otherwise known as The Baby Book by the esteemed Sears family, I have What to Expect The First Year, The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, and I've read dozens of articles and websites to help me when I'm flummoxed. I loved some of what I learned and chucked the rest.

During our birthing classes with our midwife I remember her talking about "attachment parenting" and how she did a "modified version" of it (whatever that meant). I had a difficult relationship with her and so I didn't really think much of it, but then I kept reading about it, especially in The Baby Book. They outline it as follows:
Eight principles of attachment parenting

Per Dr. Sears' theory of attachment parenting (AP), parents attempt to foster a secure bond with their children by promoting eight principles which are identified as goals for parents to strive for. These eight principles are:

1. Preparation for Pregnancy, Birth and Parenting
2. Feed with Love and Respect
3. Respond with Sensitivity
4. Use Nurturing Touch
5. Ensure Safe Sleep, Physically and Emotionally
6. Provide Consistent Loving Care
7. Practice Positive Discipline
8. Strive for Balance in Personal and Family Life

These values are interpreted in a variety of ways. Many attachment parents also choose to live a natural family living (NFL) lifestyle, such as natural childbirth, home birth, stay-at-home parenting, co-sleeping, breastfeeding, babywearing, homeschooling, unschooling, the anti-circumcision movement, the anti-vaccination movement, natural health, cooperative movements, and support of organic food.

However, Dr. Sears does not require a parent to strictly follow any set of rules, instead encouraging parents to be creative in responding to their child's needs. Attachment parenting, outside the guise of Dr. Sears, focuses on responses that support secure attachments.

Whew, so that's a mouthful. And to be honest, I'm on board with a lot of it, so I guess I've sculpted my own "modified attachment" approach. I wanted to do a natural homebirth (although I ended up in the hospital with an epidural - I'll save that for another day), I'm a SAHM, we did co-sleeping for 6 months, I breastfed until he wouldn't nurse anymore (and think every mother should give her baby breast milk for at least 12 months come hell or high water), I wore him everywhere, I plan on sending him to school, we chose not to circumcise him, I got him vaccinated, I save pain relieving medicines as a last resort, I'm pretty much a mothering island, so I don't do anything "cooperative," per se, and I'm a big organic food nut.

I'll lay it out more clearly:
1. Preparation for Pregnancy, Birth and Parenting - I chose a midwife and natural approaches vs. the one size fits all philosophy of a lot of OB/GYNs. I wanted to avoid pitocin, epidurals, and anything close to a scalpel near my vagina or uterus, believing instead, that midwifery is the more gentle, natural way to progress through pregnancy and the birth process.
2. Feed with Love and Respect - When Hollis was hungry, thirsty, cranky, bored, or tired he got a boob. I was happy to do it and believe 100% that his wants were his needs and his needs were his wants. He was created a perfect model for survival so if he wanted to nurse who the hell am I to tell him he doesn't get to? It was my choice to have him, so it's my responsibility to make sure he thrives... even if it is at 2 hour intervals for 6 months. And it goes without saying today that I never (and I mean NEVER) leave the house without a banana in my purse.
3. Respond with Sensitivity - Always look beyond the obvious.
4. Use Nurturing Touch - Soft, sweet hugs and gentle interactions fuel a loving relationship between us all. Never jerk, jab, poke, smack, or cause harm... I couldn't do that to Levi, I certainly won't do it to my kid.
5. Ensure Safe Sleep, Physically and Emotionally - I planned on having Hollis in a co-sleeper upon arrival home, but I couldn't bear to put him that far away from me. He was so tiny, so exposed, so weak. He slept next to me for the first few months, then in the co-sleeper, with a hand on him until we were all ready for some [quiet] distance.
6. Provide Consistent Loving Care - Anthony and I work very hard to be consistent with policies and active parenting. It's hard when we have such different styles. I like to think of it as a color. Our over all philosophy is Blue and I'm a Dark Blue and Anthony's a Light Blue.
7. Practice Positive Discipline - This is like training a dog. Seriously. Don't scold/punish the bad behavior, just lavish praise and good tidings on the good behavior. It's really pretty fun to have a "party" just because your little one threw a piece of paper in the trash of his own volition. Discipline will come soon enough, but as it stands now, we're just focusing on the positive.
8. Strive for Balance in Personal and Family Life - This one is the most complicated one for me. I'm working on it and keep it at the forefront of my mind. I never want to become a martyr or one of those strung out moms begging Oprah for a makeover and a family vacation with the husband I never see and the kids who forgot about me when they went away to college.

So this is just a State of the Union for this blog, really. For anyone who hasn't already figured it out we don't let Hollis "cry it out," we don't scold, yell at, hit, or disrespect him in any way. I have all too vivid memories of being scared shitless of my parents and I don't want to invoke fear in my kids just to get them to behave. I challenge myself to be more creative and to look behind the behavior and ask questions: is he tired? in pain? bored? frustrated? want attention? want to be alone? need his butt wiped? It's so easy to NOT get pissed when I ask these questions. Seriously.

And what's so funny about this "parenting" philosophy is it's not that dissimilar to my approach to Anthony (and I suspect his to me). We don't yell or scream at each other, we're not mean when we're tired or cranky, we work really fucking hard to think, "What's REALLY going on here?"

Don't think that me writing all this down means that I have it all figured out or that I'm the perfect little parent and person. We all have to come to parenting on our own terms. These are mine and they're working for me. I still have loads of self-doubt, I get bored, I get really pissed that Anthony seems incapable of closing the coat-closet door. But I'm also really damn proud of myself for not being a mean bastard when it'd be easier to do so.

I wonder if attachment parenting has a subcategory called "attachment relating" or "attachment dating". Hmmm, I could be onto something there.


When the cat's away the mouse... RELAXES

On speaker-phone with The Cat on Tuesday afternoon.

Why is it that whenever Anthony's gone on a business trip I feel like I'm on fucking vacation? You should see the house: projects strewn everywhere, I haven't "cleaned" once, I'm sleeping like a drugged up rock star and waking up feeling like a 10 year-old on Christmas morning. It's fantastic.

The only thing I'm missing is my husband!

What. The. Fuck. How stupid is this??? What is it about the daily grind with another adult in the house that makes my life harder? And it's not Anthony - let me be clear. The man could live in, and be perfectly content, a dirt-floored yurt. It's me. I do it to myself. Maybe I should stop trying to take care of a grown man so much and let him take care of himself more. No more breakfasts and packed lunches. We'll only have dinners when I feel like it...

No, no, no... that feels so wrong, too!

Damn. I'm stumped. How do I fix this??

Wednesday morning chit chat.


Past, meet Future. Future, Past.

At the trailhead.

Yesterday I went and did one of my favorite things on the planet. I went hiking. And I didn't just go hike any-ol'-where, I hiked on my favorite trail in the city. The trail that starts at Spyglass trailhead right by my old apartment at The Woods.

The apartment itself was a real find. They were having a special and I got a 2/1 for $620 a month. It was close to downtown, my job, and they were dog-friendly. And the best part of it all was that it was feet from the Barton Creek greenbelt; a part of Austin I'd always heard about, but had never personally ventured to explore.

Oh, how lucky I was to have this place. Six months after I moved in I got laid off and I spent the next two years looking for work, my Self, and men (yes, I said, "men". Get over yourself). And since these pursuits were not 24 hour excursions I had a lot of free time on my hands to explore the area and the Greenbelt was it.

This is where I first began running and enjoying my body again; running so hard my lungs burned and my muscles screamed to stop. Levi would swim and explore, chase squirrels, hurriedly sniff passing dogs' butts and run to catch up with me. It was approximately a mile to Barton Springs and I made it a daily goal to jog there. I'd work on obedience with Levi on those trails, talk to other joggers/dog-parents at the swimming hole, and Sheree and I would take a six-pack (and our dogs) to the creek when it was full of half-naked college students and cold water.

I haven't been there in four years.

Yesterday felt like a homecoming. I recognized all the trees, rocks, bends in the trail and all the changes: the burned trees, the new drains, the new graffiti. I pointed to all the new sights to Hawk, strapped to my back, and he would sweetly follow my finger. - How do you explain "limestone cliff wall" to a 17 month old??

I made it about half way to Barton Springs before I decided to head back to the car (I'd forgotten Hawk's water and the last 1/4 mile is in direct sun). I pulled off on a little outcropping and showed him red berries and more dry creek bed before I turned around. As I was standing aside, a girl in her 20's came jogging by with her dog. Just a girl and her dog. I walked back onto the trail and fell in behind her when I was struck with the thought, "That was me."

I was that girl with her dog. Carefree, relaxed, diligently digging my way out of shit.

And here I was now with my baby. Responsible, protective, assured, [and only somewhat relaxed].

I picked up the pace to keep her in my line of sight. Luckily for me she stopped jogging (I used to do that, too! Stop jogging once I'd passed someone out of view). Then another girl and her dog crossed my path, and another.

I was overwhelmed with feelings of nostalgia and pride. Nostalgia for what I once had (utter freedom) and pride over what I have now (a family to protect). More honestly put, I felt mostly loss. Loss of my youthful figure, my overt sexuality, my complexity as a single person focused on herself.

As I came closer to the trailhead (and my car) I took Hawk down from my back and let him toddle around. We were in a shade-dappled curve of the trail and he was enthralled with the bushes fanning out along either side. He stumbled, but didn't fall, over the rocks and uneven limestone footing, swinging his arms merrily at the novelty of it all.

By now the girl and her dog were gone. I had seen her meet up with a man and his dog and they had left together. I was alone with Hawk and my thoughts and the trail that I loved so much. I wished I had Levi's ashes with me, but I decided to wait until spring and the trail is lush and buzzing before I spread them. Up until yesterday I had been debating on whether or not to be alone when I sprinkled his ashes or if I should have Rooster and Hawk with me. I'm definitely going to have them with me. It's another way for the Now Me to say goodbye to the Then Me.

My plan going forward is to go hike down there once a week. The way it made me feel was so plainly wonderful there's no reason I shouldn't make this a habit. That's the kind of exercise I love: effort with a purpose. It's what got my biscuit down on that trail 5 days a week in the first place. Its beauty, its simplicity.

Now when I go hiking I go down there having said goodbye to the girl and her dog I was and embracing the woman and her baby that I am. Loss is a part of moving on. I'm not feeling bad about leaving all that behind. I have the best memories of that time of my life, but I am also so fucking happy right now, too. I can feel both, right?? Loss AND happiness? I don't think they're mutually exclusive.




Haunted boxes

When my dad died he left behind a trail of despair. He owed money to the IRS, had credit card debt, no friends, estranged family, and lived with his ailing 85 year old mother.

The whole of his life's belongings were housed in a storage unit in Boulder, Colorado, where he'd lived off and on over the years, sometimes with his brother, Randy, and sometimes in his own.

Boulder always had special meaning to him; it was a magical land where snow capped mountains and its rugged, isolated beauty somehow resonated with his tortured soul. Colorado was where he'd met my mother. It was where he'd met a woman he once loved after my mother who died tragically in a car wreck in the mountains. Colorado, my sister and I were always told, was where he wanted to die. In a way, it was, even though his body was in a quaint hospice center that smelled of disinfectant and flowers in west Phoenix .

In the years since splitting with my mother in 1987 he lived in two apartments in Fairfield and two different places in Martinez, CA. Once Gabby graduated high school in 1996 he left California for Colorado, his mecca, never to return. He called Boulder home, Denver, too, Austin, TX (twice), Portland, OR, and finally Phoenix.

Somehow during all this time, he'd organized the things he loved into boxes.

And twice I cut him off from me.

The first time was in 1995 after he'd come to Austin to visit me just after I'd moved here. He told me disgusting stories about a woman he was dating and wouldn't stop even when I begged him to. He followed me around on campus and smothered me until I would cry to my mother asking her "Why is he like this??" One day, when I came home from school I found he had left Austin abruptly and left me a letter saying he'd found some drug paraphernalia of mine. He said it hurt him too much to deal with and recommended I go to rehab. And just like that, he was gone.

I wasn't surprised by this. The morning before I'd left for school I'd booby-trapped my bedroom, knowing he was on the verge of snooping around my room. The old paraphernalia he'd found was so old and so tucked away in a side zipper of an unused purse that I hadn't even though of it (he was nothing if not thorough). All of my booby-traps were sprung. All of them.

I didn't talk to him for two years.

The second time I cut him out was "for good." After years of inappropriate behavior from him and emotional violations I told him to leave me alone until he could control himself.

It was a heartbreaking decision for me. I had invested years of my life to working on my relationship with my father, begging, teaching, pleading, screaming, writing, and showing him how I wanted him to be with me. But he never heard me. The whole of our relationship revolved around him, his life, his relationships, his family (his mother, father, and brothers), his sex life, and his health. I knew intimate details about everyone, but could share not one intimate detail of myself for fear of utter rejection, judgment, or ridicule. I was his mentor and friend. Never a daughter.

Shortly after this second split I learned of unforgivable things he did to someone I cherish. She is half my heart and he hurt her, inexplicable and egotistically. If there had ever been a crack in the door to having a relationship with him, it was now gone forever.

Any thought of my father conjures up feelings of guilt, anger, frustration, and immense sadness. I've never wanted anything more than a father. A real father whom I could trust and feel real with. A father who wouldn't leer at me or sexualized me. A father who wasn't consumed with himself. A father who didn't use me to feel better about himself. His children, I think, were proof to him that he wasn't who he really was: a supremely fucked up narcissistic human being whose universe, sadly, centered around himself, a person, who in his own estimation, wasn't worth the air he breathed.

If I were painting a portrait of who he was I would create a vast emptiness, a bleak, stark, sad, yearning landscape of a face. An emptiness of worth so tragic the very life of me would be sucked out through my mouth and nose.

This, for me, is, and was my father.

And so it came to me this week to go through his boxes. The few that my uncle had picked out for me to get from that storage unit in Boulder. He'd sent them to Texas a couple of months after Dad died, but I couldn't even think to open them up. I had them shipped to Mom who then put them in her storage unit, which she and Terry just rediscovered this weekend when they emptied it out.

She called to softly tell me they were there and what should she do with them?

"Bring them here."


"Yeah. I'm ready."

And I was. I am. The pain I feel for my Dad's life and death mobilizes a source of strength in me that I can't explain. It was there when I flew to Phoenix to see him on his deathbed. It was there every time he called me scared and crying because he was hallucinating from the pain meds he was on in hospice. It was there when I held his cold, heavy hand in his hospice gurney. It was there when I told him, in all honestly, that I loved all the good parts in him and wished him well on his new journey. It was there when my sister and I flew back out, days after he died, to move his mother, unbeknownst to her, into assisted living and to sit through his "memorial" delivered by his shell-shocked older brother.

And I used it to open the first box sitting on my kitchen table, cautiously delivered by my mother hours before. It was a flat box and I thought it might be artwork of his beloved giraffes (he'd had tons of giraffe figurines and framed art), but it wasn't. It held two innocuous framed art pieces of my sister's, ostensibly gifts from her. - I'm going to hang them both in Hawk's room.

The second box held photos of my childhood and tons of our schoolwork, PTA fliers, father's day cards from us, pictures we'd drawn him, swim meet ribbons and programs, my 8th grade manatee report, poems by my sister when she was 10, and notes from our bathroom mirror he would leave us every morning reminding us of chores, goings on and to not kill each other.

The third, and last box, held more photos, mostly old family portraits of his family, some scrapbooks my grandmother made him, his sketches of a solar-powered car complete with fins and white-walled tires, a lock of his baby hair and the first baby tooth he lost.

I was brutal in my choice of which things to keep, choosing to keep those photos before he broke our family apart, when we thought we were all happy. I kept photos of him and my mother when they were long-haired and passionate about each other. I also chose to keep the photos of him as a young boy with his mother and brothers. I tossed out countless photos of him and us together and miserable, which was most of the time. - I'm going to show Hawk his grandfather's ideas on solar-powered cars.

Of everything, three things made me feel something other than studious archaeological focus: the note that said, "#1 Dad" written in crayon on faded construction paper, the lock of his dark blond baby hair, and his tiny, ivory, baby tooth. All three represented innocence and potential... and in that I felt great loss. The first, a little girl's strident belief that her dad could really be number one, and the second, two physical remnants which were reminders that my father, as shrunken in esteem as he ended up, was once also very innocent and full of potential himself.

I cried my eyes out as I was finished because how sad is it to have the sum of your relationship with your daughter be of her kneeling on a hardwood floor with a big empty box to her right and a pile of shit she doesn't want of yours in front of her? Things you held to be precious, your only link to the life you once had with her and others. And yet, I felt no compulsion to hold onto these things and this wrung out my heart: that no one was left on this planet who wanted the mementos of his existence. No one.

As I softly cried, pitifully, Rooster came and knelt down with me and put his arms around me, "I'm so sorry you have to do this," he said huskily. Again, more tears because I'm sorry I have to, too.

It's been a few days since that night and I feel the shroud of despair has waned. My father built his life based on crippling self-doubt and character inadequacies he was never equipped to change despite ruining countless lifelong relationships with his daughters, wife, and friends alike. I cannot continue to take care of him posthumously as I did in life, even his memory. His life was what he made of it and it's not my fault I don't want his lock of hair or baby tooth. It's ultimately his.

I love the idea of my father, the man he wanted so badly to be and who I wanted him to be, but so utterly failed to achieve. I knew he cherished my sister and I even while he treated us horribly. I love his little boy self. His young man self. It's these make-believe men that I love, not the man I actually knew. The man I knew wasn't actually lovable, I think, if you can even say that about a person.

The boxes are now put away, the pictures organized and tagged for albums. I have a benign pile of things for my sister and my mom came and took the things she wanted (oddly, many of her mother's day cards were in these boxes). I will frame the pictures of me and my sister from Olan Mills and especially the one I'm scared to honor: a picture of me in a carrier on my dad's back. My hair is just past my ears and its baby fineness has caused it to swoosh back in a big curl. I'm looking over my father's right shoulder, intently on some knew sight from this tall vantage point, there are crowds around us. Perhaps we are at the zoo. He's looking off into the same distance, his hair brown and much like mine. He is sturdy and caring and we are sharing this moment, this space.

I'd like to think this was the best time I ever had with him. It is how I want to remember him because I cannot forget him. No matter how much I wish I could. He is my father, the only one I ever had. Good, bad, or utterly ugly, he is all I have ever had and known. It's now up to me decide how I go forward. It's all up to me now.


Fun with Daddy!

I love our son. I really do! I love my wife, too, even when she abandons me to the mayhem of our little tornado.

Jessica and I had managed to drag ourselves out of bed for one of our too-infrequent morning yoga sessions. Afterward, it was time for a relaxing shower before settling in for a day of work-at-home.

I'd say that about 1 in 4 of my morning showers is accompanied at some point by drastic fluctuations in water temperature. Maybe it has something to do with our plumbing, but even a dribble of water for the cat in the sink seems to change the shower temp by 50 degrees or so. God help me if Jess decides to run some laundry or the dishwasher.

Now, Jessica will probably disagree, but I believe I am afflicted with a rare medical condition that causes drastic changes in temperature directly on my skin to be really painful. (I'm open to the idea that I may have just misplaced my Man Card somewhere along the way.) Touch me with cold hands, and it hurts! I'm reduced to squealing like a (really tall) schoolgirl. Same goes for hot water. Co-showering sounds romantic, but our water temp preferences are just too different.

So I'm enjoying a relaxing shower this morning, and Hollis is running around like a maniac. I figure Jessica has one eye on him. I feel the water go hot, and almost manage to dodge the blast while yelling, "Jessica! What are you doing??" Someday she'll remember not to co-opt my water supply...

Then I see a little blue blob outside the shower door, and I hear "DA-DA! DA-DA!"

I don't know if you've ever felt powerless (and emasculated) by a 16-month-old, but it ain't fun. I'm babbling with Hollis and watching him run around the bathroom, and then I'm hit with the realization of what is going on. Hollis heads for the toilet, and there is absolutely nothing I can do about it. I try distracting him by tossing water at the shower door.

"Hey Hollis! Woo-hoo! Look at the water!"

Hollis giggles and grabs the toilet handle. Whoosh! He squeals in delight, and I squeal like the aforementioned schoolgirl.


No answer.

"Jessica! Come get your son!"

Now Hollis is stripping the toilet paper roll. But hey, at least the water is getting back to normal. Is it safe to wash my face yet? Just as I fully commit to the soap, I see Hollis heading back toward the toilet.

"Hey Hollis!" I yell with my eyes closed. "What're you doing? Come here! Go play with the TP roll! Anything but what you're about to do!"

Whoosh! Giggle.

I blindly turn the temp down, and congratulate myself on my quick reflexes. My pride is offset by the realization that I must look completely ridiculous, trying to entice my toddler away from the toilet in one of the most vulnerable settings imaginable. (There's a reason horror movies use showers...)

I manage to get most of the soap off, but then the toilet stops filling and the temp drops by about 100 degrees. I let loose the squeal that had been waiting to get out, and turn the water temp back up.

By now, I'm yelling for Jessica again, but I don't want to yell too loud. Wouldn't want to upset the little monster that holds the shiny chrome key to pain and humiliation in his pudgy little hand. No, we wouldn't want that. I try to entice Hollis away from the toilet again, but he's having none of it. All I can do is try to get done as quickly as possible while he mercifully keeps the toilet running consistently.

By some miracle, Hollis tires of his little game, grabs a wad of toilet paper, and runs off to find his mama. After I dry off, I go out to the kitchen, and Jessica is sitting at the table.

"Did you hear me yelling for you?"

"No, what did you need?"

"Never mind."

Has anyone seen my Man Card?

Lemon Linguini

Photo via Hungry in Hogtown since I forgot to take a picture of mine.

I've made this recipe for years and it's almost as easy as scrambling eggs. Nigella has a whole spiel about prepping for friends coming over, but her main point is this dish only takes as long to prepare as it takes for the water to boil and the pasta to cook so plan accordingly. I also mix it up a little so what I'll post is my version. If you want hers, you can click here.

*I used Quinoa linquini the other night to excellent results, but you can use whatever long pasta you have on hand.

The thing I love most about this recipe is that I'm almost always bound to have all the ingredients, therefore, it's practically a "free" dinner.

* 2 pounds linguine*
* 2 egg yolks (preferably at room temperature)
* 2/3 cup heavy cream or 1/2 and 1/2
* 1/2 cup and 1/2 a cup freshly grated Parmesan or pecornio romano
* 1 lemon, zested, and juice of 1/2, plus more juice, as needed
* Salt
* freshly milled black pepper
* 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold, unsalted butter, plus more if preferred
(leave in fridge until needed)
* 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves, thyme

In big pot cook pasta per instructions. As soon as water is on the burner to heat up, in a separate bowl combine eggs, cream/1/2 and 1/2, cheese, lemon zest and juice, salt and pepper. Set aside and let warm up (not near a heat source, just not in the fridge). (This will help to level out the temperatures between a cold mix and hot pasta which could yield you scrambled-egg lemon pasta if you're not careful.)

When pasta is el dente, set aside a cup of the boiling liquid and drain pasta. Put back in pot off heat source and add cold butter. Melt the butter completely then add in approximately 1/2 a cup of egg mixture, then add the rest. If it's looking dry or sticky, add a little of the boiling water, a tablespoon at a time.

Add herbs, toss, and serve!

As an alternative, I also sometimes throw in a couple of handfuls of fresh spinach right after the butter (the pasta is still hot enough to steam the greens, but not yet cooled off by the butter to not cook the spinach).

It is yum, yum, yummy!! Enjoy!


I have this problem...

Fighting his morning nap today.

I'm loathe to even say anything because I fear I'll sound like an asshole, but... Hollis irritates me.

There. I said it.

Some days, usually at some point in every day, he bugs the crap out of me and I have to talk myself out of the "Screaming Tree." What does this sweet cherub do? you ask? Well, he does this:


As in, "NA na na NAAAAAH na!" from when you were a kid. That nasally, sneering, jeering sound that you make at your friend whose ball you just stole - or rather that noise that horrible kid who just stole YOUR ball makes as he runs away just out of your reach. Hollis doesnt have the lilt like an older kid would, but it's the same nasal sound.

To Hollis, it's his catch all for "More food now, Mommy!!!" So, three times a day, for approximately 15 to 30 minutes, I must weather through constant "Na na na!!!"s. It drives me bat shit crazy.

I don't remember how long ago it was that we started teaching him baby sign language, but he knows the "more" sign. The only problem is that over the months of feeding him, he's learned that his multi-tasking mama doesn't always see his "more" sign, so he's come up with this lovely sound which ALWAYS gets my attention. In my earlier naivete, I would quickly look up (so better to make the sound stop) ask him "More?" with voice and sign and he would answer, "Na na na!" and magically, more food would appear on his tray.


I've created a freakin' monster. So now I'm trying to undo this bad habit I've created. Whenever he does that grating noise I will either a) turn my back and wait until ANY other sound comes out of his mouth or b) blithely ignore him and go about my business. - It's important to note that if I sat right in front of him and spoon fed him (which we graduated from months ago) this doesn't happen. I'm right there to see whenever he needs more and also to keep him engaged enough with eating that he doesn't notice his favorite bits aren't in front of him any more. But I can't always do that. Often I'm making more baby goulash or putting dishes away. I MUST multitask in order to get anything done around here. I have to choose which things are important and which aren't and I really try to make the right choices, but having a tidy house is crucial to my mental state. Really. So I have to manage this eating situation the best I can.

The funny thing that's come out of all of this is that since Hollis' awful noises I have begun to look up and make a "Shhhhh" sign with my finger to my lips. So now he'll yell, "Na na na" and then do his own "shhhh" thinking that's the new combo. It's better than just a loooong, annoying string of "Na na na" so I've been encouraging him to just make the "shhh" sign. It's audible enough for me to know he needs something, but totally not annoying. It's still a work in progress.

All this to say that, OF COURSE, I feel terrible for being annoyed. First of all, this is all my fault. If I'd had the wherewithal to foresee the outcome I'd never have given him any attention in the first place. Secondly, he's actually doing a really good job of communicating with his big people. But I still feel like a big (as my mother once called Anthony after he won a game of hearts) jerk-ass buttlicker.

I don't know what the difference is for me between his annoying communication at meal times and when he's Crank Master III due to teething. I have patience to rival that of Mother Theresa in the latter case. I also don't feel a stitch of ire when he melts down because I want to leave the garage and he has to come with me (the melt downs are relatively new). I wonder if it's the nasally tone that harkens to those days as a child and it's somehow universally irritating.

Until he actually starts speaking more I'm gonna keep encouraging the "Shhh" sign and sound, which by the way is adorably cute. It sorta sounds like he's hacking a loogey.


Menu Plan: Week of February 16th

So, we have no money this week. I laugh at this because it's all I can do. I knew we wouldn't have a lot this week; I made the conscious decision re: Valentine's Day expenses. That's how I roll. Splurge here, pinch there. The pinch this week is in buying any new ingredients. I'll be using whatever I currently have and making it all up.

I'm such a great Homemaker.

Here's what I got:

Mon - Roast beef sandwiches with butterhead lettuce and swiss, chips
Tues - GF pasta with lemon cream sauce and sauteed spinach
Weds - Gingered carrot soup with macademia nuts
Thurs - Spring greens and spinach salad with golden raisins, toasted almond slivers, and egg in a balsamic, blueberry honey vinaigrette
Fri - E/O (PAY DAY!!)
Sat - Trout pouches with citrus and thyme, haricots verts, garlic whipped half-n-half potatoes (half sweet, half regular)
Sun - Saucy country-style oven-baked ribs, corn on the cob

Blog link!!

I've never done this before, but this blog entry from Her Bad Mother is so good I have to link to it.

"I'm a Dummy, Mummy."

Smart. Damn smart.




He couldn't get enough of his little self.


First time ever to read to himself.

Be my... well, you know

I've never really given a shit about Valentine's Day before, but now I sorta get it. In a world where people have a million little things going on at any given moment it's nice to have an official holiday, if you will, to stop and smell the roses (forgive me for the reference).

Everyone always says you have to put your relationship first, even before your kids, because the most precious gift you can give your children is a solid marriage to help sustain the family and I utterly subscribe to this. Being a martyr and Super Mom/Woman is not something I strive for. I strive first and foremost to be the best me I can be and second to be a stellar partner to Anthony. I've found that the mothering part comes second nature to me and since I'm happy as a human being and secure in my relationship the love and energy to parent is always on hand.

Valentine's Day has become a commemoration of this commitment.

You can poo-poo it all you want. Rant at it. Boycott it. Say horrible things about Hallmark. Whatthefuckever floats your angry little boat, but the truth of the matter is for those of us who need a night out to just be a couple, instead of everything else on our identity list, it's a sweet deal. Love is in the air. Thousands, maybe millions of people will be out tomorrow night thinking of nothing but each other. There will be sweaty palms, legs will be shaved, roses will be snatched up, gifts exchanged, kisses, too, beds made, baths drawn, muscles rubbed, parts paid attention to, tender words written.

Really... how can you hate this day?

I made dinner reservations at III Forks four weeks ago. Even then I only had two time slots to pick from: 6 or 8:30. I chose 8:30 and we plan to go an hour early and just chill at the bar and have a drink and make an evening of it. I don't remember the last time we did this - no wait, yes I do. It was for my birthday in September. If it weren't for V Day, I'd have to wait till September again, most likely. So, Thank You, Valentine's Day for giving me a good enough reason to spend an exorbitant amount of money on dinner and look at my dreamy husband in the candlelight.

I even bought a new dress and falsies.

Hey - this is BIG excitement in my world now. What can I say? It definitely deserves falsies.


Mailbox Monday

"Like Godzilla in Tokyo"


That was what Anthony called Hollis as we were walking to the park the other day. His little hands were in the air and his shadow was cast long and imposing in front of his toddling body. His roars loud and clear and bubbly, not very Godzilla like, but close enough.

His monster tendencies extend beyond his walking style, too. I posted previously about his penchant for disaster and chucking things over the sides of his crib and talked about it in general for months. The other day I about died when I came into his room and found this:

And this:

I don't know if you can tell, but his crib is entirely empty of toys. Normally, there are about half a dozen neatly piled at one end. Too funny.

On an unrelated note, I started this post on February 4th and am finishing it almost a week later. In that time Hollis has begun walking like a grown up: arms down, shoulders relaxed. *sigh* Shit happens so fast...

Menu Plan: Week of February 9th

This is my kind of menu planning. Anthony's out of town until Thursday so that means I'm going to raid the pantry and refrigerator for the first few days.

Mon: Something boring and totally not nutritious
Tues: Whatever the fuck I want
Weds: Anything not made with gluten, which probably means an apple
Thurs: (Anthony's back for dinner tonight, so I gotta get serious now) Whole roasted chicken with mushrooms in a cream Vermouth sauce
Fri: Kings Ranch Casserole
Sat: WTFE (what-the-fuck-ever)
Sun: Roast Beef with Root Veggies and Mushrooms

A new farmers' market is opening up about 10 minutes from my house. It's got a real building with real doors and it advertises farm fresh produce AND meats. That's the part I'm most excited about. I'm a guilty meat eater (like a lot of us, I think). I love eating meat and think it's the way our bodies were built to be (omnivorous), but I abhor the treatment of our animals prior to and during slaughter. I always feel guilty for eating meats that I can't confirm were treated ethically during its life and I keep them to a minimum.

For example, did you know that Neiman Ranch bacon is now available at Super Targets? I haven't seen any of their other products there, yet, but the bacon is incredibly good, and only $4.99 a package. I'll save you the effort of clicking on the Neiman Ranch link and just tell you that it's a co-op of farmers for beef, pork, and lamb, with humane standards set out in protocols (you can read the protocols for each animal on their website) whereby the animals are treated as such: animals. Not a crop. You'll often see in menus at better restaurants listings such as "Neiman Ranch Rib Eye" and the such. So now you know that that restaurant is supporting sustainable ranching and the ethical treatment of animals.

But I digress. My whole point is now I have more options at hand with yet another local meat market opening up. Johnny G's is just down the street from us, too, and I love going there.

Oh, and this magazine, Edible Austin, given away at my farmers' market, is a great resource for your own local markets and options. There are dozens of Edible magazines across the nation, so you can subscribe or find your own.

Anyhoo, that's all I got to say about that.

Peace out.


More Misdirected Mail

(Sorry for the tacky alliteration. It was too good to pass up.)

So it normally takes a while before I get another classic misdirected email, but this one came for me today (names have been changed to protect the innocent... and lazy):

From: jsmith@___.com
Subject: FW: Anthony Smith - midquarter warning
Date: February 4, 2009 7:22:17 PM CST
To: anthony@mac.com

You are in big trouble, Mister. Suggest you get this work turned in immediately.

Jane Smith, B, CMCA, AMS
Director, Client Services

(Work info snipped)
 Please consider the environment before printing this e-mail

-----Original Message-----
From: George Smith
Sent: Wednesday, February 04, 2009 3:20 PM
To: 'Jane Smith'
Subject: FW: Anthony Smith - midquarter warning

-----Original Message-----
From: John James
Sent: Wednesday, February 04, 2009 3:10 PM
To: George Smith
Subject: Anthony Smith - midquarter warning

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Smith,

Anthony owes me a number of homework assignments for AP Statistics. I
have the feeling that he's partially completed most of them, but he
hasn't submitted them. Due to this, he's currently receiving a C- in
the class. We talked about this issue some during parents' weekend, and
you voiced the concern that he's not happy turning in an assignment
unless it's fully completed. Any encouragement you can give him to
finish the assignments would be great. I'm happy to work with him on
the problems he has yet to do so the assignments can be fully
completed. Please contact me if you have any questions or additional

take care,

John James

This brought back so many memories...


I'd like to respond

I recently did one of those "25 Things" that go around on Facebook. It's a little game where a friend will "tag" you to list 25 random things about yourself. I really like these little doodads. I don't even care that I had already done a "16 Things" list... I could come up with something every hour of my life if I had to!

What's really surprising about this list-making exercise is that I actually discovered something new about myself. I wouldn't have thought that would be a result. I was just returning a lobbed ball, after all. But I discovered why I blog, why I Facebook, why I Twitter (that's new!).

Being a SAHM (stay at home mom, for those of you not in the know) I am isolated. I spend most of my time with a creature that doesn't speak English. I'm not "alone," per se, but it's a lot like hanging with a dog. You interact and go do fun things, but the dog is waiting on you to call all the shots and is happy with pretty much whatever. A baby is a lot like that, except he isn't always happy with whatever. The internet makes my home the universe and expands the borders of my kitchen.

I can focus 100% of my attention on my little critter and still interact with grown ups all day long! That's even better than an hour-long play group! I feel like I've struck the mofo'ing jackpot with this internet thing! I've felt so cut off since Hollis broke the house laptop (the screen is currently being propped up by two pillows) last week; I've been compulsively pecking at my iPhone checking FB, Twitter, and email (thank God for my phone!).

And you guys, my internet brethren, you indulge my extroverted need to recharge by interaction. You say nice things, email me, leave comments. And for that I say THANK YOU!!

Krissy and Carolyn, I feel like you two need a special shout out in particular because your online-selves are what I aspire to be. You leave the most thoughtful comments and you're wickedly funny (I'm thinking all the FB comments, updates, etc.). I never leave comments on blogs. The most I ever do is a 10 word comment on FB.

Of course, this universe at my doorstep is a great thing for me. I have NO worldly idea how I'm going to manage this for my kids, though. That's a whole other topic for another day.

Your email address is so cool!!

I forwarded this to Jessica, and she insisted I post it up. After all, this blog reflects Jessica's life, which covers the whole spectrum from sadness to sheer absurdity.

Long ago, I had the opportunity to get my own personal mac.com email address from Apple before the general public. I thought it would be SO COOL to have "anthony@mac.com." The bliss lasted a couple of years, as I coolly gave out my email address to people I met.

"It's anthony@mac.com."

"Just Anthony?"


"Wow, you must have gotten in early."

(shrug) "Eh, it was nothing..."

Then the spam started. Luckily the spam rules take care of most of that. But there seems to be an endless supply of Anthonys out there in the world who tell their friends that they have "anthony@mac.com." Their friends keep emailing me, thinking I'm someone else.

I even got into an argument (via email) with one Anthony who INSISTED that "anthony@mac.com" was his email address. I finally had to point out that he was sending messages to that address and I was getting them. Ipso facto...

Anyway, I occasionally get really funny stuff. This email below is actually the second one I've gotten from this, uh, organization. I can't figure out if it's real, or just creative spam (click here to see full size):

I mean, it's funny enough to be getting misdirected emails from a male escort service in some other country. But these guys are also REALLY bad at it. First, they're using free mac.com email addresses to send from. Not the end of the world, but it definitely lacks a certain polish. And the photo of "his feet"? You probably can't see it from the multiple conversions it took to get the email into JPEG format, but the feet pic has a big watermark across it from the free stock photo service they pulled the pic from.

Well, I'm sorry to say that I didn't forward this email on to their prospective client. I hope they have better luck with future clients than they did with me...

My navel... contemplated

For the last few days I've felt pretty blah. And it's been a mysterious malaise. Nothing's going on in my life that I can actively blame. Everything's really pretty great. Hollis has jacked up the charm about a thousand fold. Anthony and I are continuing to get along really well and have lots of laughs. Gabby's doing much better, my Mom's happy, Terry's happy, all my friends are happy, expecting babies, making good changes, pursuing hobbies, lives, careers, themselves.

The world is motherfucking peachy right now.

So what gives? Why am I such a pooper? I think I can answer that. I think it's grief.

Grief is such a mysterious emotion. It's non-linear, unpredictable, and a shape-shifter.

I won't go into it too much, but in July of 2006, almost 3 years ago, my dad died (and I can't help but add) a painful, horrible death from cancer. As some of you already know, I was estranged from him. So was my sister. After years of a painful, unhealthy relationship I severed ties with him in 2003, found out he committed unforgivable acts on one I love dearly shortly thereafter, and assumed I would never see him again from that point on.

I feel compelled to go through the time line of the end with him, but I'm going to resist. Suffice it to say, I reestablished contact with him while he was in the hospital in February of 2006 until he went into hospice in June when my mom, Anthony, my sister and I flew to Phoenix on the day we found out he was there. I can sum up the entire experience, from the first time I spoke to him to the night I got the call that he'd died, as horrific.

Five incredibly difficult months later I found out I was pregnant and life has moved on ever since (and as well it should have) with my focus and attention being on life, those I love and trust, and Hollis.

When Levi died in November I felt a whole different kind of grief and sadness. For him, it was so pure and innocent. It was an entirely different kind of loss I felt for him than for my father and that realization brought on a whole mix of shit about my dad I could never have anticipated. And now my grief for Levi is somehow twisted up with the mess I feel about my dad.

For the last few days, for example, I keep running across things about Levi: old vet receipts, seeing his dog bowls, finding a dog tag, his name coming up in conversation, a picture of him in my mother-in-law's homemade 2009 calender. I'm able to feel sadness and let the tears fall for Levi for a little while, but when I start to think about his loss I immediately think of my dad. I never cry about losing him. I think I cried a river about that while he was alive - no need for that now.

I think that's what's been under my skin lately that makes me feel constantly irritated at the world, my life, the kitchen, the dirty floors, the goddamnedneverendinglaundry, the dishes and the dishes and the dishes. My grief and confusion are more safely expressed through [wimpy] displays of anger... because it's a lot easier to be pissed than it is to be crushed.

Ok, so now what? Fuck if I know.


New things

At the park walking distance from Mom's.

New things in our household:

- All baby words starting with the letter B. That'd be "bah," "buh," "baa," and "bay," which roughly translates to "ball," "bird," "bath," and "baby." I think.
- Interest in using a spork at mealtimes.
- Haircuts.
- Going "bye bye."
- Cleaning like me and using the very fun and wonderful tools to do so such as: the broom, vacuum cleaner, duster, and cloths.
- Very little tripping on rough terrain.
- Interest in books.
- More teeth.
- Showing of genuine affection towards us.
- Sincere gentleness with people and animals, not just a light baby's touch because he's not in control of the exertion, but a deliberate soft touch.
- Sense of humor. Particularly being able to laugh at himself when the joke's on him. My personal fav: giving him his paci, but yanking it away at the last minute. Ooh! We get some good laughs from that!
- Solid nights of sleep. Sweet, sweet sleep.
- Facing forward in the car seat.
- Recognizing places we're going and showing anticipation.

:: I have to interrupt this current post to say that Anthony is pelting me with incessant questions about what I'm writing about. He's worried I'm going to tell the world that he cannot finish a home improvement project to save his life and that I am busy putting it out into the ether. Well, I'm not. But I kinda just did. And actually, he's currently beginning to finish a project he and his dad started approximately 2 1/2 years ago. Yeah, Anthony! I'm quite happy about it, actually, but we'll see if it gets completed in less than a year - although, I'm crossing my fingers for 4 weeks, and praying for a weekend. ::

- Naps are regular and well accepted.
- Anthony and I get up at 6 almost every day to do yoga or pilates (although, while I was sick we didn't)
- I was reminded why I go to therapy still. And not in a bad way, but because I had an "Aha moment," as Oprah would say.
- Anthony grew a beard and just because I begged him to.
- My sister is one tough cookie, but like a cookie done right, she's soft and chewy on the inside.
- I realized again that my mom is an advocate for those without a voice through her investigative work at the Board of Nursing.
- Terry is bound and determined to keep learning from the School of Life and the World and I think it's inspiring.
- I've discovered some awesome parks.
- I forgot and remembered how much is too much when it comes to me and Alkie Hall.
- Anthony got his Diddy Wings.
- Real life goes on. And on.
- San Francisco is my heart and on my mind.