Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What I Learned During NaBloPoMo

So this post wraps up my one a day posting marathon. I survived. I wrote, mostly crumby, some funny, even some really good stuff, but I wrote. Here's what I learned.

11. I can sum up pretty much everything in a Top 11 List.

10. Not a single person batted an eye lash at my choice of 11.

9. Real people comment if you make it easy enough, but so do Chinese porn spammers.

8. I may have 900+ friends, but only about 10 are gonna read my posts.

7. I feel better when I crank out something, even if it's just short thoughts.

6. Reading old blog posts isn't as cool or arty as reading old poetry, but it still makes me smile.

5. The habit has been started, I might not do every day, but I'm gonna at least try to keep a couple posts a week.

4. I wanna read other people's blogs, but it's so hard to keep up.

3. Statistics are totally addictive. I spend more time analyzing my blog than writing it.

2. No real promotion still gets readers. It's nice to know I have a core of people who care what I think.

1. People LIKE deep stuff, but SHARE funny stuff.

What was your favorite post? What do you think should be my next topic?

Monday, November 29, 2010

11 Words or Less: Pregnancy (Puking Redacted)

11. Ovulation

10. Confirmation

9. Heartbeat

8. Movement

7. Contractions

6. Pushing

5. Holding

4. Nursing

3. Cuddling

2. Sleeping

1. Knowing

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Dreaded Decorating Doofiness

I am a big fan of expressing individuality, I mean, I haven't worn matching socks in well over a decade, I have shaved my head squeeky clean bald, and I rocked Flamboyant Fridays in college... however, my dislike of Christmas has lead to a tertiary concern with bizarre decorating trends and themes. Don't take offense, don't take it personally, I'm glad folks groove to the season, but still, some of these seem, well, Doofy. (And, no, I'm not getting an Amazon kick-back, but I'm linking in case you're feeling cheeky and decide to purchase something).

Top 11 Doofy Decorations

11. Big Blow-Ups
This is my husband's pet peeve. They are loud and generally tacky. My least favorite would be the 6 foot snow globe with actual carasol inside. If you're going to that much work to decorate, can we seriously think of some better outlet? Only $329.99. (Side note: I'll be installing my mom's tomorrow. It's giant penguins with doctor accessories. It's super duper tacky... and I love it.)

10. Bottoms of Tree Toppers
I cannot possibly be the first person to feel weird about cramming pine needles up the dress of an angel. Is no one else confused by the symbolism of sticking the pointy tops of trees up the bums of a variety of toppers? I'm sure someone in the marketing division of stars should get on that. It's probably more creepy than doofy, but today, we're doing doofy.

I think it's nice when decorations and ornaments can reflect your personality. Here's a tip: TV is not your personality. Seriously, this is marketing on a whole new level. Not pictures of your kids, or even pictures of yourself singing, or, for Pete's sake, pictures of you watching the show. Just three judges watching someone else. To recap, that's a memory of you watching TV of people watching someone else. Doofy. (If you should choose, you can purchase the above ornament for $13.50 from Amazon.)

8. Icicle Lights
If you plug it in and it lights up? Not ice. Not even close. Sure, they are pretty and twinkley and give you more shimmer per square foot, but icicles they are not. 'Nuf said.

7. Faux Popcorn
Seriously? Fake strands of popcorn? If I hadn't helped a preschool teacher return sewing machine needles prior to attempting to thread garlands of the salty stuff, I'd find this UNBELIEVABLE. I guess it doesn't go bad? Why?! 9 feet of fake buttery goodness can be yours for $6.99.

6. Random Acts of Weirdness
Again, individuality is awesome, but I'm often confused by this. What does that giant wooden Barney have to do with the holidays. How about the giant elephant? If you're looking for more examples, I'd suggest UglyChristmasLights.com for further amusement.
5. Anachronistic Nativities
Maybe it's my love of open ended play being crushed by single use bizzaro-ness. Maybe it's the whole cave vs. stable argument. Maybe it's the part that angels don't sing... Let your kids play with whatever you choose, but if you're going to decorate? Maybe this is not the least doofy choice. (Having had personal experience with this set, the sounds when the batteries wear down are well worth the $44.99).

4. Highlighting Horribleness
If your home has a less than perfect feature... or a REALLY bad code-violating type issue. Trimming in lights is a poor choice. I can't think why folks would do this. Check it out this year whilest driving around. You will be amazed by the lovely hanging gutters, rotting porch railings, and other architectural sadness which is now enhanced by having small electrical devices stapled
to them.

3. Inappropriate Santas
Believe me, you can find the creepy old elf doing just about anything. I guess it's amusing, but why would you decorate to celebrate a holiday with this? Why? If you know, well, for $6.95 it can be yours.

2. Multicultural Atrocities.
Let me start this rant by pointing out that my family is fond of appropriating a wide variety of holidays. I'm all for sharing in a lovely tradition, I just feel like the forced overt PC-ness is a bit much. Celebrate your holidays, make them personal, but don't feel like you have to mention and mix them all lest you offend someone. Seriously, the Kwanzaa dreidel feels a little forced guys, especially if it's not pictured next to my Festivus Pole.

1. Terrible Trees
Can someone tell me why this product exists? It's a Whimsical Yellow Laser Artificial Christmas Tree... ARTIFICIAL?!? You mean it's not a REAL whimsical yellow Christmas tree? You can get similar ones in a variety of flavors/colors/painful horribly doofy styles. If you'd like this one, it can be yours for $8.05, that's right, this 30" beauty is on sale!

Got a favorite pet-peeve decoration? Know a place for specialty doofy products? Wanna share YOUR horror stories? That's why blogs have comments!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Creepy Christmas Carols

I'm not a big fan of Christmas... I know, I know, Bah Humbug! Anyhows, the part I do like is family and tradition. In that vein, I was helping decorate the tree at my mom's house today with my sister. We put on some "holiday" music, and soon we were giggling gleefully at the horrible irony of so many of the lyrics. In honor of the weirdness that is Christmas music, here are my Top 11 Creepy Christmas Carols.

11. Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer
Pretty self explanatory, I mean, seriously? A song about family whose drunken matriarch is trampled by a beloved myth... yep, automatically included.

10. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
OK, here's my issue. I know we're going for cute, but this is either Daddy dressing up knowing he'll be seen by the child, in which case the make-out break is a little creepy; or, the dress up is solely for the benefit of Mommy, in which case, that's a little weird kinky if you ask me. Or, I suppose, it's a song about how the beloved jolly fellow is in fact an adulterous fiend and Mommy is a hussy. Creepy.

9. I Saw Three Ships Come Sailing In
My theory here is that this a song about an awesome heist. I mean, it smacks of Ocean 26 type planning. Christmas day... the only day when the guards are on lower alert... yeah, it's not a Christmas song, it's a song about thievery. Maybe more amusing than creepy, but amusing none the less.

8. Twelve Days of Christmas
It may have been said before, but this is just a bizarre dance of materialistic insanity. (No, it's not a memory aid.) It's just a creepy idea of what someone wants for Christmas, or at least, what they got from their insane "true love." I think this is one creepy display of capitalistic affection.

7. Some Children See Him Lily White
The song is pretty much randomly racist. I guess it's supposed to be how we all see God in a different way, but I can't help but think it's just a way of legitimising misconceptions and stereotypes. I'm just sayin' I'm pretty sure he was an Arabic looking Jewish fellow. Just sayin'.

6. The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)
This choice amuses me based solely on the ability of the lyrics to effectively summarize many creepy holiday themes: dangerous pyromaniac tendencies romanticized, scary mythological entities harassing innocent victims, simplistic ethnocentrism, and the theme that everyone should know and approve of these ideas. Ahhh creepy.

5. Little Drummer Boy
The whole thing is just an unsupervised child apparently busking for a living, not sure why he's headed to visit the baby, but it seems no one is interested in caring for him. Sure, it's a nice sentiment that he wants to bring the gift of music, but is anyone gonna help out the young street musician? No. No they're not.

4. Mary Did You Know
Let me just cut to the chase. Yes, she did. I'm pretty sure we're clear on the whole angelic messenger explaining it. Plus, having recently been a new mother, the last thing I'd like is generations of folks harassing me to see if I'd done my home work on parenting. It's not like there's any pressure for her, raising God incarnate. Oh, and you think God was going to pick someone who didn't get it? Really?

3. Frosty the Snowman
Mythical anthropomorphic characters are the hallmark of creepy holiday songs. I think this fellow embodies the whole idea to a tee. Sure, sounds nice to have an enchanted friend, but the next time a giant snow demon bangs on your door after chasing your children around, let me know how lovely you find the sentiment.

2. Santa Claus is Coming to Town
Stalker. Voyeur. Sees you when you're sleeping. Knows when you're awake... Suppression of feelings: Better not pout, better not cry... really? This is supposed to be a happy song? It just scares the goodness outta me.

1. Baby It's Cold Outside
This was the most disturbing song of the afternoon. It pretty much reeks of a very uncomfortable intimate power/control situation. The lady says repeatedly she'd like to leave. She says "no" more than once. He tries to give her more alcohol and take away her coat. He uses verbal coercion to let her know that her reputation is already ruined. Seriously creepy.

Sorry if I've ruined a little part of your holidays. Got another creepy hit that amuses you? Let me know in the comments.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Penguin Cherpumple

This Thanksgiving, I was finally able to slice into my very own cherpumple. Cher-wha? Last year I was introduced to the fabulous idea of the cherpumple via this video:

I knew I must have one! Basically, it's a cherry pie baked into a white cake, on top of a pumpkin pie baked into a yellow cake, on top of an apple pie baked into a spice cake, all frosted into one amazing three layer cake of AWESOME.

Here's how I made mine. I started off with lofty goals of going all from-scratch... but I'm not that awesome. Did I mention I have a 10 month old? Anyway, started off with the apple pie filling.

Most of my recipes are really annoying to share since I fake my way through it. Here's my best guess:

4 Granny Smith Apples, sliced up
4 tablespoons orange juice (I usually use lemon, the idea is that the citrus adds a little punch and keeps the apples from browning)
3 tablespoons of flour (to thicken it up)
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg

I put all of this into something that seals, stir, then shake it up. (This part is a great little release of angst). For the other two fillings, I did store bought; the pumpkin required adding evaporated milk and and eggs.

For the pie crust I went with a basic crust for all three. Here's my guess at about a pie's worth of recipe. (So I made about 3x as much).

2 cups flour
2 1/2 tablespoons of Oil
1 teaspoon of salt
4 tablespoons of water (or how ever much you need to get the right consistency)

Next, I poured the fillings into each pan. (The trick here is to get pie pans smaller than your cake pans. I did this by buying 8 inch disposable cake pans to use as pie pans, thus fitting nicely into the nine inch cake pans.)

Then I added lattice to the cherry pie and a cover with pricks to the apple pie. Neither of these is really needed, but I figured it would make flipping them into the cake pans a little easier later.

Baked all three pies at 350 degrees for about a half hour... until they looked golden brownish.

I let them cool over night.

I also opted for super easy on the cakes, by using mixes; in this case, white, yellow, and spice. I literally bought the cheapest kinds. They each required three eggs, 1/3 cup of oil, and a cup and a third of water. (The white one just used egg whites).

I spread cake batter over the bottom of the pan, about a centimeter thick. Then flipped the pie into the batter. It sorta didn't go all in one piece. Luckily, I just kinda smushed the rest back down into there.

Finally, I spread batter to fill in around the edges and cover the pie. *Note that there is A LOT of batter... too much really*

I spread the extra batter into another cake pan to make a mini-pie-less cherpumple... which wouldn't really have any of the reasons for the name... If you were making nine inch pies to go into twelve inch cake pans, I'm guessing you'd have just the right amount of batter.I repeated with the Apple pie in yellow cake. (I only had two cake pans, so I only did the first two.)

Into the oven they went at 350 degrees... for about fifteen minutes... when I smelled the smoke. You see, they were totally too full and dripped. This was a total fail since it was Thanksgiving morning and the turkey was very shortly going to bake in that oven. GRRRRRRrrrrrrr!

Took the cakes out, cleaned the oven, then finished baking. Next, went about making the third cake. I was a little more careful not to over-fill. We baked that bad boy next the turkey. Here's the drippy cake:

At last, it was time to assemble this behemoth. I had to de-pan the cherry/white layer to bake the apple/spice layer. It just popped right out. The apple/spice layer was a tad more difficult. It seams I didn't grease the pan as well since I was in such a hurry. I ended up breaking the whole darn thing in half.

Luckily, I used a spatula to loosen up that bad boy, and just set it right on top.

I cut around the edge to trim it into a circle. The bottom was also slightly burnt, so I just scraped off the darker/burnt part since I'd be frosting it anyway.

I frosted the bottom layer. I cheated here too with a store-bought frosting. It took three cans total.

Next I sliced around the edges of the pumpkin/yellow layer and placed it on top.

I frosted there as well.

Finally I added the third layer.

I frosted all the way around.

And on the top, if you're generous, it's easier to spread the frosting.

Because it amused me, I added some silly safety green decorations. My sister also let us put the mini-cakes she had brought around it. The whole thing was in a large tupperware dish because we needed something really sturdy... the thing weighed 8-9 pounds.

After an incredible feast, it was time to chow down. It takes a bit to slice, and you don't want to make a large slice as it is already pretty tall with all those layers.

I found out it was easier to dish up with a spatula AND the knife. Here's a few more pictures of the glories of our cherpumple success.

What do you think? Have you tried it? Are you going to?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Escape

Today may not have been the most typical of Thanksgivings, or, maybe it was. I'm too exhausted to type much, but lets just say it included a tire swing, for one thing.

It started bright and early with some work on the cherpumple (full briefing on that to come tomorrow)

It was a great chance to kick back with some immediate and extended family.

Even better, it included a tiny man being paraded with a lovely parasol.

Back to family time. I'd love to hear about yours. Special thanks to Aunt Sweet Sweet for the lovely pictures.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Family Time, Sister Time

This afternoon we arrived at my parents' house for our Thanksgiving trip. Time for some super duper family time. My family has always been close, but geographic proximity makes it feasible for get-togethers to happen with more regularity. Lately, I've been taking advantage of this time to get a little less time in with my son.

I know, it sounds bad at first, but lets be honest. The brand of parenting I have chosen involves me being within arms reach of my son almost constantly. I was doing the math the other day and thought part of the reason I get so tired of being with my son is that I am pretty much always with him. There are plenty of awesome parents who see their child for an hour or two in the morning, drop them off with another care provider for the work day, then spend a few hours with them in the evening before they drift off to the blissful twelve hours of sleep they are oh-so-lucky to experience. Lets just say that, by my own choice, this is not my experience. I am not saying these parents don't also deserve a break, I'm just saying I'll let myself off the hook a little here.

The point of all this is to say that I had two hours or so of shopping time with my sister-in-law. I love that this was some of the best "Family Time" I've had in a long long time. Not to take away from time with my son or husband, or even the large family gatherings where eight or nine of us gab in a glorious pun making riot of hilarity based on jokes that someone misheard and referenced twelve years ago. This is different. Sure, I've known her for seven or eight years, but she's a fresh face, someone who isn't obligated to love me.

I have always treasured my biological sister, and since high school the sisterhood of Sukwat, but I am particularly grateful right now for a sister-in-law with whom I can be my complete honest self. I am so thankful for her ability to share wise and kind words and still make me laugh. I wish everyone could be so blessed as to have their family blossom with flowers as fragrant as she.

What is "Family Time" like for you? Does quality family time involve different people at different times for different reasons? How? Why?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving Limerick

My family has a veritable plethora of odd traditions, some of my favorites include silly things like how sentimental it is to wrap something in a paper grocery bag (which are getting pretty hard to find these days), or rules like "No singing at the table!"

My personal favorite is what my family says just before we eat our Thanksgiving feast. Some years we say the things for which we are thankful, or some other borrowed tradition, but every year, without fail, we gigglingly make eye contact and chant in unison:

There once was a finicky ocelot
who all the year round was cross, a lot
except at Thanksgiving
when he enjoyed the living
'Cuz he liked to eat cranberry sauce a lot.

I have no idea who really wrote this little poem. I tried finding it, but have found some conflicting theories. My best guess is Eve Merriem. If I'm wrong, feel free to point it out (there's a first time for everything...). I'm pretty sure we started saying when we were much much younger due to our mother's amazing home schooling. We each memorized a poem every week, and although I've forgotten hundreds, a few gems, like this one, have stuck with my siblings and me through the years. My other favorite for fall would be:

The leaves are green, the nuts are brown.
They hang so high, they won't come down.
Leave them alone 'till frosty weather,
then they will all come down together.

The sheer glee of this tradition is not the wittiness of the poem, or even that we do it every year in a blissful sense of togetherness. For me, at least, it's how we almost always forget. It's the look on any new comer's face. It's knowing my son will hear it a great deal more clearly than he did last year.

What's your favorite holiday tradition? What's your favorite poem?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Of Puppies and Penguins

Today was the first day where I can honestly say my son chased our dogs. Up 'till this point, they have simply co-existed. I was really a little scared about bringing a baby home to two dachshunds. They are a breed that is supposed to not be "good with kids." What was I supposed to do about blending a new human into a home that was half canine? I read all the articles I could find on the topic and tried to follow the advice. I sent home baby-smelling clothing before bringing Jax to meet them. I came in and played with them before bringing him in to be sniffed, the whole nine yards.

Early on in their relationship, they mostly just whined when he cried, and otherwise ignored him. The only other way you would know they knew he existed was the fierce defensiveness if someone got close to the baby when I wasn't holding him. That, and the need to sleep next wherever he was sleeping. Then there was the licking during tummy time, but generally, I think they just thought he was a really ugly, really dumb, new member of our little pack.

I should note that our dogs are not the most identical, though a matched set they may be. WiMax is half standard size wire haired dachshund and half friendly-neighborhood-terrier. We rescued him from the pound when he was about a year old. About a year after that, my mom found a miniature wire haired dachshund with "macaroni penguin" eye brows on petfinder and soon we added Isadora, an old lady with bad teeth, to our family. WiMax is very smart and learns quickly; the sort of dog that could work in movies if his humans would invest a little more time. Isadora's only trick is to drag cute outfits from her bin for you to put on her so she gets more attention.

In practice, this has meant that WiMax is unimpressed with the baby, but that Isadora would desperately seek his attention... or any attention... from anyone. She would scootch up to the edge of the blanket where Jax was playing so that his feet might *accidently* bump into her, thus constituting rubbing and petting, and therefore doggie validation. To be fair, WiMax has taken a much greater interest in being in close to proximity to Jax any time self-feeding is involved. Jax has rewarded this interest by noting, and reinforcing, the amusing dance-of-the-hind-legs that WiMax is more than happy to perform when food is involved.

But, back to today. I have been waiting for real, genuine, amusing interactions, and today really qualified. It was a bizarre little dance of army crawling and chubby fists grasping at tufts of ear fur. Lunges into a dog bed and stolen cheek lickings amused everyone. I'm sure there will be many giggles and tears to come. I'm sure there will be more germ swapping and probably a bit of nipping as everyone figures things out. I'm just excited to watch some sibling bonding between my fur kids and my bald one.

Do you have kids and pets? In what order did they join the family? How did you introduce everyone? What are your favorite moments with your pets?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Schrödinger's Penguin: Getting Baby on Tape

The observer effect is a pretty well known theory. The idea goes like this (if you're willing to oversimplify... of course, I am), just the act of observing something changes it. I have found this to be only too true when attempting to document my infant son.

Early on, I knew he couldn't REALLY understand what I was trying to do. I knew to him the seizure inducing flashes of light were just an odd quirk of his reality. As he got a little older, he learned to squint at the red-eye light, and now, well, now he's just a ham. Sometimes, you capture what you expect, like how he feels about Zucchini:

The part of this I understand, is his predictable reaction to my documentation efforts. The part that amuses me is the Schrödinger's cat part. The part where you don't really know what you've got 'till you bust open that box and find out. The first amusing version of this came early on when I tried to document his amusement with lion sounds:

Most recently, I was trying to capture his adorable clapping (it inspired a whole post). Instead of the amusement of reinforced clapping, I got this:

Honestly, it's the unpredictability that amuses me. Much like the cat in the box, I'll have to think of my grandfather's answer "The only good cat's a dead cat." So, for me, maybe the only best video's a funny video.

What has trying to document people taught you? Do you ham for the camera? Ever look for the camera you JUST KNOW must be there?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Deep Thoughts of a Shallow Swimmer

I have long claimed that the best compliment I was ever given was this "Most people just think really shallow thoughts about deep things, but you think really deep thoughts about shallow things." I hope that, to some extent, this is still true about me. I hope that as the days go by, I don't just passingly contemplate the meaning of life, I would hope that, instead, I really dig into the here and now; that I treasure the little things. With that thought in mind, here are my Top 11 Little Things.

11. Tags. My son loves how they look and feel. Given almost any toy with a printed tag attached, he will feel it and stare at it. I'd like to think he's having a very positive interaction with print and that it is good for all those pre-literacy skills. If nothing else, he loves they way they all feel a little different.

10. Teeth on Cloth. Although I could write an entire post about my son's recent vampiric ways, his fascination with biting cloth has really intrigued me. He has figured out that biting the skin under the cloth is bad, but I've let him play with just grasping the top layer of fabric with his teeth. He's really good at this. I can't think of a time when this will be a really important skill for a tiny vegetarian, but it's interesting to to watch.

9. Fractals in Velcro. With my son in cloth diapers, I spend a lot of time staring at velcro tabs. I have recently noticed that they attract strings and dog hairs and what not in almost perfect fractal shapes. I have had some interesting flash backs to working for the math teacher in high school... I've always been interested in patterns, and this is an odd place to discover one.

8. Wrinkles and Freckles. Jax loves staring at my face, and more recently his face. We've spent quite a bit of time looking at ourselves in the mirror. I have always hoped I would have happy wrinkles around my eyes and have been delighted to see a sort of permanent smile emerging there. Even more intriguing is the way these wrinkles start to hide some of my freckles. It's like a new set emerging as others are hidden; getting to discover a new skin pattern all over again.

7. Gurgling. I have never been able to make the cool wookie sound like my husband. Jax makes it often when babbling. I have had an interesting time exploring my glottal and vocal control in imitating his visualization. As with learning Portuguese, I'm intrigued by the sounds I simply cannot seem to make with the accuracy I desire.

6. Puree. Mashed up foods have been sliding down my gullet for decades, typically thanks to my amazing teeth. Pre-mashing food with intent to serve is a more recent amusement. The variety of texture in "baby" food and pureed foods is really amazing. You'd think by the time you blended something to a liquid form, that the consistency would be, well, more consistent. The difference between a squash, a sweet potato, a banana, and a pear are really something to behold.

5. Hair Color. I'd never really had dark hair before this September. I've been pretty much a dozen shades from blond through red, but but dark brown was something new, and mostly, for the Miss Klingon Empire beauty pageant (which I'm sad to say has since turned into a Star Trek Universe pageant and hence gets judged on things like... well... beauty). At any rate, I am amazed that no matter what color my locks are dyed, folks seem to be fairly equally split on whether or not they like them that shade. I, for one, don't really care. I tend to like red best, but, given the culture freedom to do so, would go back to being clean bald.

4. Nails. I like having nails longer than my finger tips so I can make my favorite sound. I discovered while taking piano lessons in eighth grade that my teacher had fingernails which made the slightest click as she played each note. I adore this sound. Just the light tap of a fingernail on the ivory before the note sounds. Lovely.

3. Asphalt. While on the topic of odd favorites, my favorite smell by far is asphalt when it first starts raining. I'm sure this is some sort of noxious chemical fume that is causing cancer in lab rats by me merely mentioning it. It is just such a friendly smell, reminding me of a barefoot childhood, running up the road towards the house to escape the summer soaking and, instead, splashing about in a frenzy of muddy puddles and slick cool grass between our toes. For now at least, just the smell in a parking lot will do.

2. Jumping. I love to jump. Trampolines are especially fun, but really, I just like hopping and skipping. (I admit to enjoying these much more when I'm in better shape and not encumbered by certain parts of my anatomy which serve to nourish my son's tummy and my husband's eyes). I love the moment of weightlessness before tumbling to earth. I adore the rules of physics that mean I tug equally hard on the earth to join me as it does to bring me back down... but it wins because despite my current obese state, the mass of the earth is still greater. Most of all, I love how it brings out the wiggling giggling inner child in me.

1. Sharing. I like to share my words and thoughts. I don't really need everyone to read them, or anyone to really care about them, but I love the idea of the nebulous "someone" being a part of my innermost dialog. I get little chills that the power of the internet means someone somewhere might be sharing my world. I love the power of being literate meaning I can share in their world when they comment. I like that it makes a window from my world, no matter how dark, to peak and and see the rainbow when it comes.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Party Like It's Your *1st* Birthday

Since my son was born last January, I've attended about a half dozen various birthday celebrations for young children. I have really enjoyed them all, and been honored to get to attend. I've been thinking a lot about what I want to do for my son's first birthday. I'm excited because, being his first, he won't really remember it or even care at this point, so it's really a "We've survived a year with this baby!" party for my husband and me. On the other hand, there are a lot of societal and cultural expectations. This has lead to the quiet voices in my head, you know, the ones who get over time for worrying about the ratio of wild blackberry prickers to kudzu in my back yard, to thinking.*

Disclaimer: No, I'm not totally freaking out about this... no, I'm not really worried what "people" will think... no, it's not that big a deal... yes, it was a fun thing to consider enough to make into a blog post.

Top 11 1st Birthday Worries

11. Mediocrity. What if it just isn't good enough? Who gets to judge? Is there a secret panel that investigates the quality of parties. If so, how do I get that gig?

10. So Silly (and not in the good way).What if people think I'm silly for having a first birthday party? The party industry certainly thinks it's a good idea, but what if people think I'm just trying to show off? What if it sets some bizarre precedent? Again, do I REALLY care what "people" think? Especially if these are the sort of people willing to be suckered into a kid's first birthday party?

9. Location, location, location! It's going to be cold in late January, and our little house and two barking dogs plus probably visiting relatives indicates some other option should be considered. Too little for Pukee Queso's, but too many kids to do a sit down restaurant... hmmm.

8. The Who's Who of Attendees. I hate to make someone feel obligated to attend or send a gift. I also hate for someone to feel they were intentionally excluded. I want everyone to come, but how much cake can we really afford to make?

7. Tell the World? Homemade paper invitations mailed out seems lovely. and pricey. and time consuming. Mass e-mail/facebook seems to impersonal and possibly greedy. Etiquette just ain't as simple as it used to be.

6. 'Tis Awkward to Receive. What's the best way to tell folks what to bring? Gifts aren't really neccesary, but I know folks like to give SOMETHING. Do we register? Make a "Wishlist?" Just tell folks his size (which is changing pretty much daily)? Is it a faux pax to tell people they can chip in towards a "big" gift like swim lessons?

5. Let Them Eat Cake! What if Jax breaks out in hives? What if we serve peanuts secretly hidden in the cupcakes? Who knows what might cause someone to fall ill? It will be a party to remember, for sure!

4. Apocalypse Then. I met a Mom when I was volunteering in New York in 2002 who had a support group for children who, like her son, had birthdays on 9/11. Many of them were dealing with a plethora of guilt and anger issues. What if something horrible happens that day and burns it into everyone's psyche as THAT day. Shoot I even if it's the day before, or the day of the party, that's pretty much bad news.

3. Thanks for Nothing. I seriously am pretty sure I still have people who have not yet received a "Thank You" card from my wedding or baby shower. I am tempted to avoid the whole thing just to make sure the situation doesn't get any worse. Oh, and if you're reading this "Thanks!"

2. Let Me Entertain You. How much entertainment should you plan? Background music seems like a good plan, and something for children to do, but I know folks who are so afraid of "games" that they avoid showers like the plague. (If you think the last statement smells fishy, I also know people who don't like to go to parties celebrating weddings and births...)

1. Thematics. I love a theme party. OK, I LOVE a theme party. Supper Club in high school? WIN! I mean, seriously, how could you not go the Hawaiian Luau as a marine biologist? How do I really decide? I think I've got it, but it's so hard to commit!

So, yo know you're dying to give your input. Tell me what you did. Tell me what you've seen done. I want to hear both sides: the sweet "just us" parties and the insane thousands of dollars puts-my-wedding-to-shame all out bashes.

* This split infinitive brought to you with lots of giggling on behalf of my sister, Aunt B.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

It Gets Better... (You Know, for Parents)

I have really enjoyed the videos made recently to encourage those who may be victims of bullying, particularly gay bashing. I'm just saying right up front, that I find them inspiring and uplifting. I am in now way trying to diminish their impact, take away from their message, or say they are silly... the problem they combat is all too real.

That being said, Mr. Penguin and I were just thinking how great the same thing would be for new parents. When you're going through nights filled with spit-up rather than spit, imagine videos of smiling parents of adult children saying things like "I know it seems like this is the worst thing you've ever decided to do, but my children and I both survived!" or "You could have been raising your children before you had cell phones for emergencies or internet for late night diagnosis; just think how much better it will keep getting!"

Just think of the celebrity endorsements... Michelle Obama with a couple of smiling First Children telling us that even when a campaign is in full swing, your kids will still want to give you a hug. Brad and Angelina with their brood telling us that THIS is what keeps them going. George Tekai telling people who wish bad things on children EXACTLY what they are...

This whole thought made me happy, but then I found one that made me happier. "It Gets Better" for those dealing with infertility. Sure, there would be the happy "We finally got our Big Fat Positive!" stories, but there would also be the amazing adoption stories. I would hope there would even be stories of those who never fulfilled that dream but still found, in their life, that "It Gets Better!" (I know I still feel a kick in the gut when I see the "dart" board of happy fresh babies at the OBGYN and think of my losses, but it's important to remember that it hurts a little less each time.)

I know I really could have used the support... when we lost our babies, when we had trouble trying again, when I was puking every day, holding a neonate who wouldn't stop losing weight, late at night listening to the croupy seal cough, pretty much every day. So, I'll be watching those videos with a twist, and keeping an eye out for some other topical ones.

I guess it all just comes back to the thought that has inspired so many in recent times, no matter what, no matter who you are, no matter how rotten things are right now:

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Super Penguin

Some days I honestly believe parenthood has made me a super hero. (Of course, some days I honestly believe I'm going nuts... but that's another post). I am somehow able to do things I never thought possible. I wish this journey had started more simply, I wish I were writing this post about how things changed the day Jax was born. But it started long before that... again, another post. I wrote the most depressing Top 11 of my life but decided it wasn't healthy to share that just yet... so this is a bit more upbeat.

Since I'm snitching internet we'll cut straight to the chase. Here are my Top 11 Penguin Parent Superpowers.

11. Super Cleaning Saliva.
I can use my spit to clean anything off my son's face. I wasn't going to be THAT Mom, but I literally did it the week after he was born. I was walking down a hall and caught myself licking my thumb to get some gunk off his cheek. Gross.

10. Selective Amnesia.
I cannot find the keys, but I know the number to poison control and the quickest three routes to Childrens' Healthcare of Atlanta...

9. Incredible Strength.
An entire baby is no match for me and my baby carrier day or night, crying or cheerful, I can haul that little chunker pretty much anywhere. I may not always be able to. But I hope I'll always at least try to hold him when he needs is.

8. Radioactive Resistance.
I can clean puke, snot, or poop from any surface without gagging... and considering I couldn't do ANYTHING without puking, at least a little, just this time last year, that's pretty impressive.

7. Lyrical Genius.
I can rewrite lyrics to any given song so as to create an endless sleep inducing haze. I'm not promising they're brilliant, I'm just saying I'll run out of voice long before I run out of stupid made up verses.

6. Insane Insomnia.
I can *technically* function for weeks on end with less than five hours of sleep and less than two hours in any given stretch. I wouldn't recommend it. But I've done it.

5. Costume Diva.
Whipping up tiny size outfits and accessories is awesome. It takes way less fabric than stuff for grown ups, but the sleeves and hems are HUGE compared to the Barbies I used to dress.

4. Stroller Aficionado.
I know, you're thinking this one can't be true since I don't own one. I think that's part of the draw. People seriously spend thousands... yes thousands of dollars on these. I got so interested that I've done too much reading. We'll be at the mall and lean over to my husband "That's Japanese and cost somewhere between $700-$900... it's titanium!" Then I'll giggle and feel Jax snuggle up. Maybe I just need to do a test drive?

3. Spidey Senses.
Intuition is the most bizarre thing that's ever happened to me. I was trying so hard to find it, that sometimes, when it smacks me up side the head, it scares the goodness outta me. Seriously, how do I "just know" that my son needs to pee? Is it possible that I can just "sense" that my son's about to wake up and nurse even though he just did twenty minutes ago? I wouldn't believe it if it weren't happening to me.

2. Egotistical Editing.
I grew up in a family where bedtime reading... well, reading in general, were practically sacred. I can still hear the voice of my three year old sister indignantly hollering "Wead it Wight!" as she skimmed the words on the page ahead as my Mom tried to edit the story. I already catch myself making amusing commentary as if it were written. Trust me, the next time you reread the same board books a dozen times, see if some great twists don't pop into your mind!

1. Conned.
I am totally and willingly conned every day. I can be frustrated and elbow deep in vomit, but when that little fella smiles at me? I'm done. Sold. Hooked. I wish I could spare him the nasal aspirators, the upset tummies, and the bruised ego, but I'll settle for getting to be there for him whenever I can.

What are your super-powers? Written any great lyrics or edited some endings? Got a super power you wish you used more wisely?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


I hate feeling trapped. No Internet + no car seat + no end in sight = feeling powerless. Fail. I hate having to depend on others. Lesson learned.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Forced Fast - Fast Forward

Due to issues with our internet provider, I've been without internet for over 24 hours. Not a true fast. I've had access to Mr. Penguin's iPad for the purposes of writing last night's post, and now this one. It's been rather odd to go without. It's forced me to imagine ways in which my childhood was so very different than what Jax will experience. Here's my "Top 11" off the *top* of my head.

11. When he thinks of an address he will probably think URL then e-mail then GPS and maybe THEN about something that requires a stamp.

10. Encyclopedias will probably only be found in libraries... and no one will ever try to sell him one by knocking on his door.

9. He will be able to track his life through a variety of virtual scrapbooks that will be indexed and searchable.

8. Typing may be more important than handwriting; but, as things continue to change, his fine motor skills will be increasingly important.

7. In reverse of my lifetime trend, he'll see fewer and fewer wires.

6. He will be able to track himself and his consumption quickly and easily; from food to books to dollars.

5. The importance of good written communication will seem vitally important him from infancy. It is not a lesson anyone will have to try to sell by pointing out letters to the editor or well-written books. Anyone who wants to be taken seriously must be able to write, and, if not well, at least understandably.

4. He will probably think of Face.book accounts the way I think of my Juno e-mail account.

3. Searching and responding in a multitude of languages will probably be simple and instantaneous... but not as good as really knowing another language.

2. There will be a multitude of entertainment available to consume at his leisure. Imagine being able to watch any show ever made any where any time. He won't have to.

1. He will still prefer great big hugs and snuggles, even if he can interact with holographic images of far flung friends and relatives.

What changes do you foresee in the lifetime of this year's babies? What is dramatically different from your own childhood? Which are good? Which are not-so-good?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Short and Sweet

Posting every day in one month may not seem like a big deal... and it probably isn't reason to throw a party. It is, however, more difficult when you have a cranky baby who just wants to fuss. November is just about half way done, and with it, a daily blog post by yours truly. Today, as I type in frustration onto Mr. Penguin's iPad, I am in total awe of those bloggers who manage to post regularly; whether that be daily, weekly, or some other format. You make the web a better place and inspire me to be the best me I can be.

On a side note, a friend has thrown down a little self love gauntlet. I'll be linking to it in the morning when I have access to the "real" internets again. Therefore, Here goes my list of self-love:

1. I love my nose. I think it's perfect and cute; down right adorable.
2. The color of my eyes is just amazing. I like how they seem to change with my moods.
3. My tongue. I can do really impressive things, like flip it both ways and make a "W."
4. Although for many years they went into the category of self loathing; I'm proud to say I now love my freckles. I especially love how they make me feel connected to my ancestry.
5. I love that my breasts are full and luscious and functional. I love feeling like a beautiful woman while nursing my son.

1. I enjoy a good logic puzzle, and was a little disappointed that I never had a reason to take the LSATS.
2. A vocabulary of astoundingly redundant proportions dwells within a veritable plethora of linguistic humors.
3. I can find, read, and understand academic research. I love feeling empowered by helping myself be well informed.
4. Observing children and noting things on several levels from play and developmental appropriateness to social skill to emotional awareness comes almost as a second nature. Not only do I do it well, I love doing it.
5. Rephrasing something to put it in new light has been helpful to me; in other words, I like to put things another way by saying them using a different set of words to convey the message in a way that helps me get across an idea...

1. I have a Master's Degree in Social Work with Children and Families.
2. When I was only fourteen, I earned my black belt in karate.
3. I am winning a long time battle with chronic depression.
4. After repeated miscarriages I carried a baby to term and pushed him out of my vagina. (I know this might not sound like a big deal... but I'm super proud!)
5. I am consciously building healthy and nurturing friendships with the people in my life.

I may not agree with the idea that one shouldn't rely on others to help one feel awesome, but I do feel that loving one's self is a great place to start. I think it is hard to let go and trust others with pieces of our selves. Sure, if others are your only source of love, there is probably a problem, and the task at hand is one of self-love, but I think it's important to encourage you, dear reader, to share a little bit of Awesome love with others... just "Love Thyself" first ;)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Granny Penguin's Library

In honor of our visit to the Granny's house, I thought I'd share her growing collection of books about grandmothers, grandmas, nanas, etc. Jax already enjoys hearing familiar stories, and the collection is fun because it offers something special to them and their relationship. Unfortunately she only has 10... and one that's not REALLY a kid book (So we'll squeeze it into a Top 11). I'm linking to Amazon again, just for informational purposes.

I'm writing this post so you can get to my favorites first. Lets just say that Granny has started collecting books and rather than a true "Top" 11, these would be the "Only" 11.

by Margaret Wild
This is probably my favorite, and definitely Jax and Granny's favorite so far. The story is about a little pig waiting to spend time with his Granny. We get to hear all about the fun things Granny has taught him as a parade of farm animals help him wait. When we find out what has taken so long, it is a delightful surprise for them to enjoy together. I am sure I'll hear it a thousand times more in the years to come... and I'm looking forward to that.

by Mary McHugh
This one's not really a children's book, but more of one from the humor section. Each page spread has a comparison of what "Good" Granny would to as opposed to "Bad" Granny. Some are funnier than others and, of course, the truth probably lies somewhere between any two extremes. Nice for a good laugh for a new grandmother.

by P. H. Hanson
This is more of a board book with flip out goodies than a classic book. It is an imagined purse with all manner of fun things that you might (or might not) expect to find in a delightful purse. It brought back memories of time with my own Grandma; knowing there would be gum, and tiny paper and tiny scissors for paper dolls all within that magic bag.

by Kate Lum
This book just stinkin' hilarious. The idea is that a grandmother tries to get her grandson to go to sleep. He inevitably finds an excuse why he cannot which shocks the grandmother so much that she goes to hyperbolic lengths to fix it. I'm sure this is destined to be a favorite because it is just so much fun to repeat the title phrase with each scenario.

by Margaret Wild
The social worker in me just eats this book up. It is all about the diversity of grandmothers. It includes descriptions of all manner; from physical, to emotional, to where one might live. The pictures are a rollicking good time and made me giggle right out loud. I'm a big fan of celebrating what makes us unique and, goodness knows, grandmothers are some of the most unique among us.

by Sarah Martin Busse and Jacqueline Briggs Martin
This is the delightful tale of a Granny traveling with her Banjo to be with her grandson, Owen. It probably has not only my favorite paintings of those listed here, but also the best word pictures. How can you not love a "grandbaby, who goes wiggly, jiggly, all-around giggly and tip over tumble for bluegrass music?"

by Jayne C. Shelton
This fanciful book is a reflection of reading with Grandmother's and is a summary of the Reading Rainbow song... you know "I can go anywhere, just take a look, it's in a book..." I like how it emphasizes the security and whimsy of reading together, even if it's not the most catchy or interesting of the books with similar themes.

by Stella Blackstone and Christopher Corr
This book has child-like art and a fun rhyme of what a traveling Granny might bring back from around the world. This is a fun little read-aloud that I'm sure will be more fun as Jax gets a little older and more familiar with repetition. This would also be fun with a child old enough to use a map or globe to locate the various places the Granny visits. (It's the last of the books I'd actually recommend.)

by Marcia Cate Overstreet
This book has lovely illustrations but was so sappy sweet I was concerned about my upping my son's chances of diabetes. The little story is simple enough, but the prayers on each page in the paintings are a little over the top. Not really one for mass appeal, but a really nice thought none the less.

by Bill & Kathy Horlacher
This is a Christian based Early Reader "Level 1." Each page shows a different Grandma and Grandchild/ren and states times the Granmda is glad she's "your Grandma." It mostly makes me want to write a mean version stating times Grandma's aren't so glad: "When I'm selling my heirlooms to help you make bail..."

by Phyllis LaFarge
This is a cute mini-chapter book about a little girl staying over night with her Granny. The plot is simple and easy to follow, but not very exciting. If you're looking for a nondescript way to burn some time, this book is a good choice. There's probably a good reason the last reprint was 1977.

Do you have a favorite grandparent book? Have any special relationship books you love to share? Got thoughts on any of these books?

Friday, November 12, 2010

No Strangers to Penguins

They say that penguins in Antarctica are unafraid of humans because they have no natural land predators. You can just walk straight up and interact with them. I think sometimes people feel the same way about pregnant women and folks with babies. I know we all mean well, but it just cracks me up sometimes to think about it. Thus, without further ado, my Top 11 things total strangers say to "Preguinos" and those with a little chick along:

11. When are you due?
(I always wanted to say "They weren't completely sure, but it turns out, like most people in our culture, it was what we now celebrate as my birthday!")

10. It's a boy. I can tell.
(Seriously? You have vision that pierces my abdomen? You can sense my unborn chid's DNA? Or, like any good fortune teller, you're going with the 51% chance that puts statistics in your favor.)

9. It's a girl. I can tell.
(Ummmm you were wrong... or my child had some really sneaky surgery.)

8. You'll stop throwing up once... you hit 12 weeks/you really WANT to be pregnant/ you get to the third trimester/you buy those magic beans/you stop listening to strangers' advice.
(Turns out what works really well for me? Giving birth.)

7. You have put on so much weight!
(Thanks! That was a total of six pounds. SIX. 6. He weighed almost 8 when he was born. You do the math.)

6. He is so big for his age!
(Well, he's stayed pretty close to the 50th percentile for length and 25th for weight...)

5. He is so tiny for his age!
(See above, but, seriously, I frequently get both comments within minutes of each other. Perhaps I have a baby in a state of flux, but really, people just stink at eye-balling what's "normal.")

4. Is he yours?
(Nope, he's a loaner for my Home Ec. Class...)

3. He looks just like you!
(Again, within minutes of the previous comment, or, in ironic back peddling, from the SAME person. I know this is supposed to be a compliment, but I always think to myself what the reverse means: "Hey, you look a lot like nine month old little boy..." Thanks, I think?)

2. You're doing X wrong.
(This is my favorite. The out of the blue disapproval without correction. As in: "You shouldn't burp your baby like that!" No, "Hey, I see you have a lovely child, I just read this article..." or "I can tell you really care about your child, a better way to try that might be..." Or just "Mind your own stinkin' business unless I'm about to do something that places my child, or someone else in extreme danger!"

1. Touching.
(Not technically saying anything, just the blatant walk up and rub the belly/pat the child's head/surprise hug attack. All are quite welcome from friends, and sort of ok if the stranger asks... but it is seriously bizarre that folks do this. You can also immediately have a conversation with the "Toucher" about how scary "Strangers" are and how we can never never feel our children are safe. Oh the beauties of "Us" vs. "Them" logic. "Strangers" are dangerous people not involved in THIS situation. Or, possibly, the crazy person who just touched my child. Ummm, Mrs. Stranger? That would be you.

I love that life makes me laugh. I enjoy being an extrovert because it means I get to have more of these entertaining moments. Maybe I just look approachable? The great news is that I get to savor every moment of oddness without feeling too uncomfortable or weird. Just like plenty of early Antarctic explorers ate the penguins and the current penguins don't seem to care; I'll continue to be amused by the random acts and words of well-meaning strangers.

What's your favorite stranger moment? What things have you walked up to a complete stranger to say?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Passions of the Penguinos

Tonight I spoke to a college class about child maltreatment. It is a subject I know all to well from an academic and professional standpoint. After two hours of textbook and lecture, the questions the students had weren't about how to go about reporting, or what was this type of abuse most likely to cause. They were all about how I got into social work. Would I do it again? Could I do that sort of thing now that I'm a Mom. They saw my passion... well, that and my scary stories and wild gesticulations...

It was rather surreal to step back and examine my life through their eyes. To tell them I believe people have a calling. That life is so much better when you are passionate about what you do.

When I got home, I took one more step back. I meant "work" at the time. As in, you ought to feel that way about your career. I want it to be true about the rest of my life as well. Life is so much better when you're passionate about what you do.

My husband and I did one of those family workshop type things a while back where you are supposed to define your family "mission statement." The final step of the instructions was to narrow it down and be as specific as possible. While other couples had "narrowed" things down to top ten type lists, our was two words. They are our words to live by, and I hope they will be for Jax as well.

Live Passionately.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wings? Flippers? Who Cares? He's Clapping!

This morning was one of those "Yay!" moments that will be forever etched in my mind. We'd gotten up, gone to the potty, and returned to bed for some snuggling/nursing/pretending we're going back to sleep time. Jax was mostly staring around at the fan and the ceiling but then furrowed his brow. You could just sense that something monumental was about to occur.

He looked at his right hand and then his left. He concentrated and appeared to summon the Force. There was a moment that lasted an eternity where he appeared to be showing the size of the fish he had caught... slowly making it appear slightly larger. Then WHAP! he smashed his open palms together. He stared at them in amazement and bewilderment. He paused. He did it again. He looked at me as the smile inched across his face.

I giggled. "Yay! You clapped!" I squeeled and proceeded to clap loudly and quickly. He gave me a look which is the infant equivalent of eye rolling, as if to say "Wow, you've been doing it for almost thirty years and THAT'S as good as you've gotten?!" He then proceeded to clap several more times; comically enough, at the same speed you clap as an insult: about once every two seconds.

Throughout the day he repeated this new stunt... until we tried to show Daddy... this brought on some rousing games of whack-the-table and laugh-at-the-silly-parents and four-fang-vampire-baby-impersonations... but no clapping.

Finally, when we weren't really watching, he did it. We both whipped 'round to see him and started clapping and cheering wildly with praise. This had the effect of pretty much scaring the poo out of him (well, not literally, but if it had you could check out my EC post). Luckily, being the persistant little genius that he is, he repeated his performance for several Mommy friends and after several rousing, if simplistic songs.

These are the Magic Mommy Moments for which I live. These things that I never knew how much I'd appreciate. If you'd asked me yesterday if my son could clap, I'd have told you he tries with little fists. I wouldn't have really thought it would be a milestone that might change over night. Even if I had, I would not have thought the experience would be a joyful revelation of my humanity. I longed for moments like these, I yearned to hold this child, I suffered and bled and puked for him. This is why.

What moments changed your perspective? What little things have brought you great joy?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Not Guilty! Dealing with Mommy Guilt

When it comes to the issue of "Mommy Guilt" (or Daddy guilt.. or heck, just most random guilt in general...) I wish I could say that I was either

A. The mythological perfect mother who never has or does anything about which to feel guilty.
B. the equally mythological mother who always forgives herself. (I was going to put "mother who never feels guilt" and realized that pretty much would make her a psycho... hmmm)

In truth, I'm really good at feeling guilty. Over big stuff, over little stuff, over medium stuff, you name it, I can pretty much feel guilty about it. The trouble, I think, is not whether or not I feel guilty, but whether or not this guilt is productive. If guilt that I am not eating as well as I should while breast feeding compels me to make wiser choices, than it's probably not all bad. If, on the other hand, that same guilt drives me to a feeding frenzy of circus peanuts and soda, it's probably not so great.

Ironic though they may be, my "favorite" guilt trips (when I take a stop back) are those that are due to me finding some sort of middle ground. Really, these are areas where I'm probably doing things in a way that will make me most happy when looking back to reflect. Well, without further ado, because I love Top 11 lists so much, here are my current top 11 random Mommy Guilt Trips.

11. I'm not feeding my son all the recommended things to constitute a well balanced diet and expand his palate.

10. I'm trying to feed my son to wide a variety and quantity of foods and not focusing on letting him continue to respond to his body's natural ability by allowing him nurse and eat on cue/just until he is full.

9. I am not documenting and sharing my son's life as well as I could be with the far flung people who care about us.

8. I'm putting so much of his life online that he'll never be able to choose to go "Off the Grid" even if he wants to.

9. I don't even own a TV, tune out of most of the news, and don't subscribe to a newspaper, so my son may just have to be culturally illiterate.

8. How much screen time does a household with an iPhone, iPad, iMac, and MacBook get? Too much.

7. My son is going to get some horrible disease from French Kissing our dogs.

6. my son is not learning to interact in appropriate ways with the pets because they are forbidden to play together.

5. Dragging my son on "play dates" mostly for myself where I get my extrovert on and he has to be strapped into the ::in my best movie trailer voice:: Cursed Car Seat of Dooooooom! in a lonely back seat on the way there and back is just mean.

4. I am not getting my son enough opportunities to experience a multitude of adult and child interactions and learn appropriate behavior through hands-on situations.

3. I am trying to do too much "educational" stuff with my son rather than helping him enjoy life through open ended play.

2. I'm missing a critical opportunity for interaction when I just put him in the Jumperoo for 20 minutes so I can get online.

1. I worry to much. I worry too little. I try to do too much. I don't do enough...

Luckily, on of the best things my own amazing mother taught me to say (besides pronouncing abcadefkeejeckylmenoxerstuwitzes and Doshis Allee Expeditious Fragi Cali Rufus) is the all important phrase "I forgive me." See, turns out I'm really good at seeing past other people's mistakes and forgiving them, but forgiving me? Now that's where I have the issue. So, my take-away? Forgive and forget, remembering that over-all I'm doing a pretty ok job. What I can't let go, I'll let motivate me in positive ways.

About what things do you feel random guilt? How do you use your powers of guilt for good rather than evil? (Sorry, had a super-hero moment.)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Top 11 Things I Didn't Know I Didn't Know: Pregnancy and Infancy

There are some things you don't know because you don't want to know, and some you don't know because you don't ask, and some you don't know because you don't know to ask. Today's post is the last group. Stuff about which I'd never thought enough, to know I didn't know about pregnancy, and having an infant.

11. Your belly button might not pop out. Even if you really really want it to. Seriously, only 80% or so of ladies have this happen. No one told me it might not, until way into the pregnancy and by then it was this lovely thing I'd been promising my puking self. I was SERIOUSLY disappointed. Stretch marks? Of course. Cute pop-when-the-turkey's-done belly button? Nope.

10. People will be shocked and horrified if you don't want to know the sex. Now, you can't really tell from this costume either, yes I had friends who looked REALLY closely. All during pregnancy I had complete strangers say things like "That's just selfish! How will you shop? How can you be prepared?" I think I'd have to go with "The same way everyone in the history of the world did it before the last forty years or so." Besides, should it really matter whether an infant has indoor or outdoor plumbing? I like Garfunkel and Oates' take on it, personally:

9. There are options between bronzing and/or eating the placenta and pretending it doesn't exist by having it disposed of as medical waste. Not that I judge any of the above options, or think it really matters if you bury it under a special tree or grind it into pill form to treat post partem depression (seriously, you should check out the research on that... pretty cool!) In our case, I got to see it, poke at it, save it in some tupperware and donate it to a search and rescue group. It turns out human tissue is a tricky thing to get and one placenta can train a rescue dog for almost a year. Here's the group: ATSAR.

8. When a baby loses the umbilical cord stump, they might actually LOSE it. Seriously, one diaper change it was there, the next it was gone. My grandmother suggested we check his pockets; "Little boys are always sticking strange things in those." No such luck. I was gonna be a big nerd and save it for the scrap book. FAIL.

7. Your siblings will have super strong reactions to your child. OK, it sounds silly, but I was expecting my husband to react with immediate and strong attachment, I saw it coming in my parents, but witnessing my baby brother trash talk my newborn while in complete worshipful adoration was a transormative experience. This amazing photograph was taken by professional photographer Anne Almasy, who attended Jax' birth and wrote about it. She and her very talented husband make up the infamous team "Dan & Anne" and are also Jax' Godparents.

6. Sleeping "through the night" is defined as a six hour stretch. Not that Jax has been interested in a stretch that long since he was a couple months old, but really, six hours is technically the mystical number about which everyone is so excited. Many older babies can, and do sleep for this and even longer stretches, like 12 hours. However, I would be remiss if I didn't warn you to be concerned if a very young infant is going this long without eating. We're talking tiny tummies that need frequent feedings. FYI, it's also perfectly normal to have a child who wakes up for comfort or to nurse well into the first year.

5. Newborns poop pretty much every time they eat; tiny, seedy, poops. I had never known this happened. I'd worked with older babies, but this was pretty bizarre to me. FYI, because we're on the topic, breast milk poop does not have a "pleasant" odor. Sure, it smells less than formula poo, and way better than a variety of poo from solids, but anyone who tells you any poo has a pleasant odor is just silly, or nasally challenged. (And remember that to smell something, you have to breath in tiny bits of it... mmmmmm poop).

4. Somewhere around 8 weeks babies go from pooing after pretty much every feeding, to not pooing for long stretches. Like, a week, or in the case of Jax, 10 days. The tiny little digestive track slowly but surely improves and suddenly absorbs pretty much everything. No one lets moms in on this little secret, which can lead to a pretty serious freak out. Just sayin' I wish I'd had the heads up.

3. Just like wedding dresses and maternity clothing, baby clothes sizing is just a silly and random number placed in the lining to confuse new moms. Gerber generally runs small, Carter's seems shorter and wider, Children's Place seems made for children who morph randomly from big to small and back. At the rate children spurt through sizes it shouldn't really matter, but it's sad to never really know what will fit until you try it on. Jax currently can wear several 3 month size shirts... but anything with footies has to be 12-18 months... go figure, and good luck!

2. If you're going to do something every day/every month, etc. make it as simple as possible. Sounds dumb, but as someone who has tracked every feeding and diaper for going on ten months, has stayed up super late the night before a monthly birthday for a photo shoot on an assembled mat with corresponding block props, and still feels REALLY guilty about three days of his life that lack a single picture, I'm telling you to just let it go, and Keep It Simple Slacker (Slacker, 'cause now no matter what you'll feel like you shoulda lived up to my awesomeness)

1. Pregnancy Brain and Mommy Brain are myths. Yep, turns out that despite consistent self-reports, pregnant moms and new moms actually score the same, or BETTER than control groups on a variety of measures. Forgot to recommend it in my reading post, but for a full on fascinating explanation, check out:

What other things do you wish someone had told you? What totally caught you off guard? What did you think was going to happen, but didn't?