Monday, September 29, 2008

Forty Winks - I Wish

I swore to myself that I wouldn't talk about our sleep situation around here again because I'm getting tired of writing about it, so you all must be totally OVER it. I don't want to be the whiny mommy blogger. I feel bad for complaining because so many people have it so much worse than I do, hello parents of multiples. But it IS still a problem for me, and as such is one of the few things that I can think about. All of the cutesie posts I've been trying to come up with are just not coming. I get a paragraph or two and they sort of fizzle.

The thing about this is that only about three times since we brought Sophie home from the hospital have we had a good night sleep. And by we, I mean me, because Neil generally doesn't wake up. I can't count the number of times we've woken up in the morning and he said, "wow, she slept through the night!" Um, no. Don't misconstrue this as criticism. Sophie is exclusively breastfed, which means that although he can get up and help, I'm the one that HAS to get up with her for nighttime feeds, so it seems senseless for both of us to get up. Plus, he has to get up for work in the morning while I can nap when she does.

I don't know why now is so rough for me, unless it is the cumulative effect of the sleep deprivation. They say you will go crazy if you are denied REM sleep for long periods of time. REM sleep being that period during which you dream. I used to have very active dream sleep. I would awake from these amazing, epic dreams that had me scrambling for a pen to write it out, but I honestly can't remember the last dream I had. Which is scary and sad.

We had settled into a consistent and comfortable routine. Sophie was down to waking up only once a night, which although not ideal, was not torturous. But then we had the thumbsucking tragedy which threw all previous sleep patterns into chaos, and now she has a cold. So any semblance of normal sleep we were starting to resume in the last day or two has now gone out the window.

All of this is to say that I will probably not have anything even remotely resembling a fun and interesting post for a few days. Sorry.

No sleep and no beer makes Cara something something.

Go crazy?

Thanks, don't mind if I do!*

*Extra points for the person that can identify this (slightly modified) quote.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Carpe Diem

When Sophie was born, my hair was six inches or so below my shoulders. Even as a tiny baby, she would get a grip on a hunk of hair and yank and shake her fist until my eyes watered. So to keep it out of her reach, I cut it up to shoulder length about eight weeks after she was born. As her arms have gotten longer, my hair has gotten progressively shorter. At five months, it went to chin length, and most recently to a short shaggy bob just below my ears. Today, I finally went all out.

I hadn't planned on chopping it all off. I went in with the intention of bringing it up a little in back but otherwise just a trim and shape. But while looking through the books to pass the time awaiting my appointment, I came across a style that I liked. Before I knew it, I had sold myself on this new cut.

As the locks of hair began falling to the ground, I started to get a sort of nervous/excited feeling. Well past the point of no return, I said to Aparna, my best friend who was there with me while waiting her turn, and my stylist that I had that feeling that you get when you've just narrowly avoided an accident. You know, like "HOLY CRAP! I'm so happy I'm okay" but with the adrenaline still running through you so you feel all cold and shaky. I meant it in no way as an insult to my stylist, who's great, but just that making a big change in your appearance is so scary. And wonderful. My hair, or rather the longer version of it, was sort of a security blanket. I think I hid behind it to some degree.

It's been a long time since I've had short hair and I wasn't sure how I would look. For about five years now, I've wanted to go back short, but I kept telling myself that I could do it when I lost 10 pounds, or 20 pounds, or as the case would be now, 40 pounds. I'm tired of dangling that carrot, though. At some point, you just have to live for today. Carpe Diem. My stylist, who has a picture of Zak Efron on the wall of his area because he has a crush on him, tells me that I have a face that can pull off a lot of styles and that this one looks fab on me. I'd like to think that he's giving it to me straight (a little play on words there because this guy is as un-straight as they come), but who can say for sure.

So without further ado, the new me:


















Don't feel obligated to tell me how wonderful I look. And by that I mean, do. Please. I'm feeling very fragile here.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Sleep Update













Because I know you've all been on the edge of your seat waiting to hear how we're fairing on the matter of sleep, I have good news. After five loooong days with much crying, from both of us, and very little sleep, I think we might finally be back on track. Sans thumbsucking. It seems that Sophie has kicked the habit. Cold turkey. It took her a few days to adjust to sleeping without her thumb but adjust she has. I was in denial at first, thinking the thumb would come back. I even tried to force her little thumb into her mouth a few times. That worked about as well as trying to thread a piece of cooked spaghetti through the eye of a needle. Which is to say, it didn't. Pretty ridiculous that I would be trying to force her back into a habit that I would likely someday be wishing she didn't have, but at 4am it seemed VERY rational.

I probably shouldn't be talking about this because as we all know, there is no better way to ruin a good thing than to talk about how great it is. So let's pretend this conversation never happened, okay? Stimulating as it's been, I don't think that will be hard for most of you.

Updated to add: She tanked her afternoon nap. I should never have said anything. The nap gods are angry with me.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Free Handbags!

Handbag Planet is giving away 24 handbags in 24 hours to celebrate the launch of their website, but you have to click on over to their site to enter. Do it. Now. Because you know what's better than free? Nothing, that's what.

I Used To Be Cool

I went out to dinner with my girlfriends last night. This is a ritual that takes place the fourth Wednesday of every month. I am not sure how long this has been going on, but I've been going for a couple of years now. It's called "Hon Night" after the infamous Baltimore Hon. I don't think any of us could actually be considered Hons, but it's the sentiment that counts. Whoever has a birthday that month gets to pick the restaurant. There are a core group of women that typically show with a larger group that rotate in and out based on their availability. Interestingly, of the core group of about ten, five of us had babies within three months of each other.

Every time, I tell myself that this time I will not spend the whole time talking about my daughter and each time I spend the majority of my time talking about my daughter. I think I am a reasonably intelligent person. I follow world and national events. I have a degree in economics, which should be good for something in these times. I have traveled to more than a dozen countries and have seen a good chunk of my own country. I love movies and actually see quite a few, although I make it to the theater less often these days than would be my ideal. Netflix is a new mother's friend. I am an avid reader covering everything from the classics to modern pop literature. I'm currently working my way through the Twilight series (which depending on who you talk to falls into both of those categories), but I am taking a break to read Moose, A Memoir of Fat Camp. I have a passing knowledge of three languages. I have been a rock star bartender and a corporate marketing honcho.

And yet, despite all of this, I found myself uttering the phrase "color in equals color out" in reference to the contents of my daughter's diaper. Last night. At the table. At a restaurant.

What happened to the interesting version of me?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Battle of Wounded Thumb

We've been having some sleep issues Chez Bean. It began last Saturday when I was trying to clip Sophie's fingernails and I accidentally nicked her finger. If she would just stop squirming, I could trim those little daggers of hers, but, alas, she squirms like she's got ants in her pants. Frankly, I would let them go, but she scratches herself pretty badly when I let them get too long. Yesterday, while we were down in the TV room, I looked over at her and noticed she had blood all over her ear and the side of her head from a small scratch she had inflicted on herself. It's always a fun feeling to see your child covered in blood. Which brings me back to the other day. I nicked her finger and of course it started to bleed. And bleed. And then for good measure, it bled some more. I yelled for Neil and we began "Operation Get A Bandaid On Tiny Baby Finger." There is no explaining to an 11 month old of the necessity of our actions, so she cried, squirmed, screamed, wriggled and generally made our first aid attempt extremely difficult. Three mangled Band-Aids later, we finally got a bandage jerry-rigged on her finger with the help of about four pieces of tape and we figured the worst was over.

Au contraire, mon frere.

The finger I negligently nicked was her thumb. But not just any thumb, it was her sucking thumb. She managed to get the bandage off that first night, but she has been reluctant to suck on the wounded thumb ever since. Unfortunately, she requires the use of this thumb for sleeping. So, in the intervening days, napping has been troublesome, going to bed in the evening has been fraught with difficulty and there have been multiple nighttime wakings. All of this culminated in my darling daughter waking up this morning at the unholy hour of 3:30am. I spent about a half an hour trying to figure out what might be causing her trouble. Hungry? No. Wet Diaper? No. Too cold? No. I thought she might be teething, so I gave her a nip of Tylenol. We finally decided it was just time to let her cry it out. She is already hoarse from the other cry it out attempts we've tried in the past few days, though. After an hour of listening to her ragged cries in the next room, I couldn't take it anymore and I got up with her. So we've been hanging out for the last couple of hours watching the Backyardigans while I intermittently worked on this post because she won't let me type for more than a couple of sentences before demanding my attention.

Her thumb is mostly healed now but she still refuses to suck on it and nobody is sleeping and I don't know what to do.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Random Tuesday

I don't have a thought-provoking, heart-tugging post for today. But some goings on in the Land of Bean:
  • We bought Sophie a little dolly stroller the other day to encourage her to walk (I know, am I crazy?) and she absolutely loves it. She pushes it all over the place. It might be the best received toy I have ever gotten for her. Otherwise, she has taken a few wobbly independent steps, but she still crawls most of the time. Any day now!
  • I think Sophie may be getting rid of her 2nd nap. I am devastated by this because I love our current routine, which includes a nice long morning nap for both of us. I'm hoping it's just a phase and we'll go back to our two a day naps, but if the last three or so days are any indication, my girl is moving on. Sigh.
  • We had our first diaper-tastrophe last night. Lately Sophie has been tugging on the tabs of her diaper, pulling one side off. Generally, I keep her in clothes with waistbands so she can't get to them. It has been getting cooler at night, though, so I put her in a footed sleeper, with no waistband, last night. She awoke at her usual time this morning (about 6:15, yuck) and I left her in there for a few minutes, just in case she felt like going back to sleep. When I finally went in to pick her up, she was soaking wet. From head to foot. In truth, it could have been MUCH worse, but I felt pretty crappy (see, I wasn't going to mention poop but somehow I couldn't resist) for leaving her to sit in her cold, wet outfit for 15 minutes. Lesson learned.
  • Sophie climbed backwards down from the landing of the stairs this morning. Usually she dives head first, generally not even putting her hands out. The good news is we have carpeting, so those nosedives didn't hurt her, but it made me a little uneasy. I'm really glad to see that she's beginning to understand a safer way down.
  • I finally decided to give Facebook a look-see last night. We are having our 16th high school reunion in a couple of weeks and I was curious to see if any of my old classmates were on there. But to see, you have to sign up and then I had to create a whole profile for myself and then add pictures and then it asked about friends and then I spent two hours looking up everyone I ever knew...and now I'm addicted. Crap.
That's it for now. See, I told you nothing dramatic. Hey, they can't all be War and Peace. I'm off to go Facebook.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Whole of Her
















I just rocked my sweet baby to sleep. She is almost a year old and it is the first time she has allowed me to rock her to sleep in months. I am still nursing and although she often dozes, she always twitches and awakes, signaling me to put her in her crib. She can be cuddly, my little bean, but she is not the snuggle baby she was when she was new.

It's funny, those early days were not the easiest. There is no denying that at the time I felt like I might not survive, but in truth, that adjustment period holds such sweet memories for me now. She was so tiny when we brought her home. Born at 6 pounds 13 ounces, she was down to a little over 6 pounds when we left the hospital. Ironically, I was stupefied that something so big had just come out of me. That just days before, this thing, this baby, had been inside me. I am still awed by the concept of birth. That you go in as one person and come out as two.

Those first nights at the hospital, I couldn't sleep for staring at my baby. She was so perfect. All of my fears allayed. I wish I could say that there was one thing that I hone in on as a highlight of that time, but the truth is that the whole experience left me breathless. Which is not to say that there weren't down times, because I am human after all, but every part of my baby was my favorite thing. I simply and elaborately loved the whole of her. Her smell, her little fingers and toes, her button nose and pouty lips, the little sighs she made as she settled in to sleep or nurse, the color of her eyes, her impossibly smooth skin, even her cries.

Because she was mine.

In a way that no one or thing has ever been before. The whole of that love washed over me and converted me to the church of Sophie. She became my center, my focus, my heart. I am still in awe of her and all that she has become, but sometimes, when things are quiet, I long for those newborn days when everything was new.



Best of luck to Rebecca and Kristen with the whole of your new babies!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Baby Blogger

I guess it's the next logical progression. First there is the mommy blogger, and then this:


















Like mother, like daughter.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Swim Moms

When Sophie was about 6 months old, we began taking Mommy and Me swim classes. Our swim school was pretty flexible on what session each week you attended, so I tried out a couple of different days. First I tried the Tuesday group and found it was headed up by a woman with crazy eyes, so I tried the Thursday group, which turned out was full of moms who wore full make-up (no lie) and jewels into the pool. Not being the sort to break the family heirlooms out of the safe deposit box just to impress a bunch of ladies I didn't know, I opted to try another day. That's how I landed on the Wednesday 10:30 class. Although "class" is a huge overstatement. At that age, I don't really believe she was learning how to swim. I, however, was gaining critical knowledge of the words to some crucial nursery rhymes and children's songs that were sung as we dragged our babies around the pool. Not surprising that in a life or death environment like that, you forge some pretty strong bonds. Thus, core group was formed.

This summer, we all decided to discontinue the classes until fall as most of us had access to outdoor pools. However, we have stayed in touch and get together quite a bit. Neil says we're our own little gang and he calls us The Swim Moms. You must say those three words with a deep, ominous tone. We are all stay at home moms that live within close proximity to each other and have children within a couple of months of the same age. I'm not ashamed to admit that before I found these gals, I was pretty lonely. Being a stay at home mom can be isolating. I can't imagine how women of eras past did it.

Imagine living on a farm a hundred, hell, fifty years ago. No internet, no television, and likely as not, no telephone. I guess that's part of why farm families were always so large. You needed the company. Well, that and not much else to do but make babies. My own grandpa was one of 14 children. Just contemplating being pregnant 14 times, all singles, is absolutely mind-boggling to me. It is also likely that there was a miscarriage or two in there. Imagine the heartbreak. And going through it basically by yourself. The strength of these women shames me. It makes me think that I am soft. That I never would have had the fortitude to survive those long, lonely days while the men were out working in the fields. I know there was plenty to keep them busy, but that is a far cry from interactions with other people.

I often feel like I was born in the wrong time, that my personality is suited to medieval times or the renaissance or even the early part of this century. Just about every era holds intrigue for me, for one reason or another. But the truth is that I am a child of my times. I live and breathe the luxuries that we have come to expect. I would have wilted under the restraints placed on women in years past. My independence and intelligence (such as it is) would have been enough to make me an outcast at best, and likely the target of a witch hunt at worst.

I guess the bottom line is how grateful I am for my swim moms. And I am really glad I don't live on a farm in the 1800s.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

How Do I Love 30 Rock?

Watching the Tina Fey skit from SNL the other night reminded me just how much I miss her. I love 30 Rock. Love it. Love it, love it, love it. I think Tina Fey is just about the funniest thing on TV. It's an ensemble cast, though, made up of a bunch of talented actors playing (sometimes) believable but (always) crazy characters. I don't think she would be quite as enjoyable without these people to play off of. Alec Baldwin, who is a complete nutjob in real life, is absolutely hysterical as her boss. So it's not surprising that one of my all time favorite clips has him in it. Whenever I need a laugh, this is my go to clip.



It kills me that I have to wait more than a month for the show to return. Whatever happened to the days when all shows started in August/September and ended in May? I know the writers strike screwed things up, but this was happening before then, too. I am ridiculously excited for the show to come back. Don't even bother to call me between 9:30 and 10 on October 30th, because I will be watching the season premiere LIVE. No Tivo, no DVR...LIVE. That should tell you just how important this show is to me, because this girl doesn't do commercials.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Lindsay Wagner Lied

Not long before I got pregnant with the Bean, Neil decided that he had had enough of inner spring mattresses and that the only solution for his self-diagnosed bad back was a sleep number bed. I wasn't super keen on this idea because it meant getting rid of the fairly expensive (and quite comfortable) mattress that I had purchased only a couple of years previous but I'm all about keeping my man happy so off we went to the Select Comfort store.

When you go into these stores, they invite you to lay down on the beds and try out their amazing comfortableness. There is a range of pillow tops that increase the price exponentially as they get thicker. After trying them all out and realizing that if we bought the thickest one we wouldn't be eating for a couple of months, we opted for the next to thickest of the bunch. We scheduled delivery and went home happily awaiting the arrival of the miracle bed that was going to solve every sleep problem we've ever had, per Lindsay Wagner's testimonials.

A couple of weeks later, they deliver the new bed and we get about the business of finding our "number." What I don't think I understood in the store or from their advertisements is that these beds are basically just glorified (and ridiculously expensive) air mattresses that you control how full of air they are. So really its not that they get softer so much as deflate and you just sink in more. Over the next several months, I tried every night to find a number between 0 and 100 (in increments of 5) that would suit me and although I never found one that really made me happy, I wasn't miserable.

Then I got pregnant.

It should be noted that from about 6 months on, complete strangers would ask me if I was having twins. As if pregnant women aren't freaked out enough about their bodies, I had to be the Incredible Expanding Woman. So, I recognize that there is the possibility that due to my BELLY, I wouldn't have been comfortable anywhere.

I spent my entire pregnancy still trying to find my number, changing it pretty much every night. I contemplated sleeping in the guest room but I just couldn't bring myself to be away from Neil, that and the fact that according to the commercials, like 99.9% of people report improved sleep from these beds. Clearly I was doing something wrong, because they even tout it as great for pregnant women. Never let it be said I backed down from a challenge, so I persevered. Finally I had the baby and after getting past the initial painful time, the bed became more tolerable for me. I vacillated between a smaller range and was generally okay. Neil has kept his side in the mid range so our two sides were pretty similar.

However, he recently decided that he needs to be in the very soft range which means that he is deeply sunk into the bed when lying down, so much so that if I venture close to his side I, too, will fall into the valley. When he is still in bed with me, it isn't so bad. However, in the morning after he's left for work and I lay down for my morning nap (what, doesn't everyone take a morning nap?), I love to plop myself in the middle and spread out but I can't do this now because
I will fall into the chasm that is his side.

All I can say is that the bionic woman clearly had some sort of advantage over me because this is no wonder bed for me.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

My Little Jumping Bean

I love my daughter, I really, really do, but some times (days, weeks), she drives me a little bit crazy. She has begun with the wriggling. Wriggling when I change her diaper, wriggling when I change her clothes, wriggling when I try to feed her (Not boobie, real stuff. Well sort of real, today it was baby food pasta dinner, and despite being pretty awful she ate it up. Figure it out.), wriggling when I give her a bath, wriggling when I try to sit with her on my lap, wriggling, wriggling, wriggling. I give her toys to occupy her during diaper changes so that I don't have to keep flipping her back over, but that only works for a matter of seconds and although I'm fast, I'm not that fast. During her bath last night, I couldn't keep her sitting down, despite my pulling her back to a seated position approximately every 3 seconds. Wrangling a slippery wet kid is not fun and also a little bit scary. I need to get those spongy things to go on the faucet so she doesn't bang her head...again. Frustration, thy name is Cara.

How long does this last? Because this part? I do not enjoy.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Forever

Eleven Months have now passed in the life of Sophie. In a matter of weeks she will see her first birthday. She is now more adept at moving around on her feet although she is still not walking more than a couple of steps independently. We expect that any day now she will let go of the coffee table and make a mad dash for the door. With a backward wave and a see ya later, she'll be off playing with her neighborhood comrades.

I don't talk about it often, but I can see her future. I can see her first days of school. I will cry and she will not. She will love ballet but will run outside after class and jump straight into mud puddles. I can see her laying on the floor coloring in her books. She will have wispy fine blond hair, just like I did as a child, and despite my best efforts, it will often be in tangles from her play. I can see as she becomes a young woman and the changes that she will grow through: strange new body, getting her period, discovering boys. I see her first date, as her daddy stares down the unfortunate fellow who comes to the door. Her exuberance and joy as she runs down the sidewalk. I can see her elation and our fear when she gets her driver's license. I see her looking so beautiful in her prom gown. I see her graduation, the fear and excitement of the transition from child to adult. I can see her in her dorm room, exercising her first real independence, I call five times a day to make sure she's okay. I can see her when she calls to tell me that she has met someone wonderful and that it is getting serious. When she calls to say that he has asked her to be his bride I will cry, tears of joy. And sadness. I can see their wedding, I weep openly when my husband gives her over to this young man, their hearts full of love and hope. I can see her when she tells me that they are expecting their first child and I can say, "Oh, my love, what a world of wonder awaits you!" I can see our grandbabies in my husband's arms.

I can see forever.

I see all of this. And none of it. There will no doubt be sorrow in our lives. But there will be great joy as well. Life is an uncertain thing, but that is most definitely part of the fun.

Eleven

video
Happy 11 Month Birthday Baby Bean!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

More than the Crust

When I was young, I ate white bread. I was a wonder bread kid. I used to nibble the crust off and then ball up the innards into a golf ball sized mass, finishing it off with big bites that left distinct teeth impressions in the dough. I loved the smooth consistency, the light flavor.

I continued to eat white bread into adulthood. On those rare occasions when my only option was wheat, I would choke it down without any enjoyment. I resisted it, as I do most change, with the zeal reserved for oldest siblings. Wheat bread has a coarser texture, the crust almost bitter, there are often crunchy bits and I just didn't like it.

At some point after we got married, Neil talked me into trying wheat bread. Despite my initial reservations, I discovered that I liked it and we have been eating it ever since. Now, I find that my taste for white bread has dwindled. This morning I made lunch for my husband, putting together a ham and cheese sandwich for him to take to work. I opened up a new loaf of whole wheat bread and pulled out two slices, putting the end aside while I grabbed the ham, mustard and cheese out of the refrigerator. As I assembled the sandwich, I took bites of the crunchy, tasty end and a realization overcame me.

I don't think it will surprise any parent, but every day with my child is not the ideal. There are days where I feel completely lost. Where the inadequacies of my knowledge and experience seem greater than can be overcome. There are days where I worry that the things I do or do not do will permanently and negatively affect her little mind and body. Days where tears outweigh smiles.

But there are also days of near perfection. Days where it seems my daughter and I are experiencing the world on exactly the same wavelength. Days where laughter overtakes us and delivers joy in armloads. These days seem to carry with them a special light and the hours race past.

There are many days in between, during which we experience slivers of these two extremes.

Regardless of which of these days we are having, there is a texture to my life that was not there before. These new flavors are nuanced and diverse and have ruined me for anything else. And although I occasionally daydream about my old life, there is nothing in the world that could willingly take me back to those bland white bread days.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Really?














Is the pile of poop behind the dog really necessary?

*Among about 20 signs in the park, this is the ONLY one with a picture.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Wakenings

1:47. The oversized red numbers on the clock are an accusation as I come awake.

I look around my room, at the small amount of light that filters in through the blinds. I can hear my daughter in the next room. Punctuations of sound.

I roll over and press the button on the video monitor. The small screen blazes to life with the image of my daughter's crib. All that I can see of the child herself is the top of her head. She is definitely awake.

I lay on my side staring at the screen, willing my daughter to lay down and go back to sleep. Sometimes, oh those wonderful sometimes, she does.

1:53. I'll wait two more minutes and then I'll go in. Maybe I won't have to get up.

Her crying escalates and now she is shouting mamamamamama. It rends my heart.

1:54. I throw back the covers and climb out of bed. I know exactly where to place each step in the dark so that the floor won't creak as I walk into her room.

When I open her door, I can just make out her face in the meager light given off by her butterfly nightlight. She is standing at the near end of the crib, her hands hooked over the rail, holding, pulling. Her face is a grimace of desperation.

I reach in and lift her up and out. I pull her to me, her arms go around my neck and her breathing evens.

I carry her to the rocker and sit down for a little cuddle and nursing.

2:09. I return to my bed. I think that these nighttime wakenings need to end. That I haven't had a good night's sleep in over a year. I think tomorrow will be the day I institute the cry it out method. People say it works and if I don't get more than 4 hours of sleep in a row soon, I might go crazy.

But deep down I love that she can't go more than 5 or 6 hours without me. I get satisfaction out of her need for me. And I know that I won't be able to let her cry it out tomorrow any more than I could today.


Monday, September 8, 2008

How Long is Too Long?

When I did the search on YouTube for the fainting goats, I typed in those two words. Inexplicably, in addition to the fainting goat videos, a whole list of breastfeeding videos also came up. (Note: I did it again and did not get the same results?) There was a video of a mom breastfeeding her son for the first time while the doctor looked on, there was one about toddlers nursing and then there was one about a mother who still nurses her daughter at age 8. That's right...8! That is a second or third grader. I watched part of the video, but when it got to the part where they actually showed the woman nursing her daughter, I had to turn it off because I was so weirded out. I came back later, after I had processed it a little, to watch the full video.

I should reinforce for those that don't know, I am an ardent supporter of breastfeeding. I am still exclusively nursing my 11 month old daughter and plan to continue for the foreseeable future, although I doubt that I would continue past two years. I think it is a natural and healthy thing for both mother and baby. In addition to the obvious nutritional benefits for the baby, it has saved us a ton of money in formula. And on a more emotional level, I personally feel it has created a deep connection between my daughter and myself. I do not criticize those that choose or can not breastfeed their children. I'm a live and let live kind of gal. To anyone considering it, though, I urge you to persevere. The first months are tough, oh man, were they tough, but the rewards later on are great.

So back to this 8 year old. Am I weird that I think this is beyond bizarre? This woman nursed her first child to the age of 5, which I also consider to be too old, and says she will continue to nurse her other daughter until the girl decides she doesn't want to do it anymore. I know that here in the US we have a VERY conservative attitude towards breastfeeding and that less than a third make it to six months with that number going down even further with each passing month thereafter. Breastfeeding beyond two years is called extended breastfeeding and is far more common in the rest of the world. However, I do not think it is normal for women to breastfeed their children through school age in developed countries. I don't even think it is normal in non-developed countries. I keep trying to see this from the other side, that breasts are about nourishment, that the American sexualization of them has created a situation where so few women breastfeed. The truth is, though, that I just can't get past the idea of an 8 year old girl nursing. I am repulsed by it and I feel a little shame at that because I am the gung-ho breastfeeding advocate. All I can think about is the psychological impact of that continued behavior. Would they be strangely dependent? Would they have boob fetishes? Would their peers ostracize them if they found out?

I can't decide if I'm looking for validation that I'm not a bad breastfeeding champion for thinking this is wrong or if I'm looking for people to sell me on the idea of extended breastfeeding. It raises the question for me of how long is too long?

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Get Your Goats

To continue with the animal theme, although on the lighter side, here are the fabulous fainting goats:



We saw this on a Mythbusters episode about viral videos. We were absolutely rolling, so I had to go check it out. I have now watched this video about 20 times and I laugh. every. single. time.

Friday, September 5, 2008

In the Land of Nuts Aplenty

I am beginning to think that our yard is the promised land for squirrels. And when I say promised land, I don't mean the yard with all of the nuts. I mean, the place where squirrels come to die.

When we were looking for houses three years ago, I was not interested in a house with an above ground pool. Not that they're bad, but very often they are these big plastic monstrosities in the middle of an otherwise nice yard that require a ton of maintenance. Alright, yes, I am a pool snob. I was a bit dismayed when we looked out the back window and, despite no mention in the listing, there was an above ground pool. It had a nice enough deck around it and was situated snugly behind the garage, so it was less offensive to me than most. Everything about the house was just what we wanted, though, so we decided that the pool was a minor issue.

At first, I said "let's get rid of this thing" and my husband talked me into keeping it. After enjoying it for the first summer, though, I became somewhat attached to the thing. The next summer, following a poor winterization by two amateurs (the hubby and myself), the pool was in lousy shape. Not one to give in, I refused to drain it and start fresh, so I fought the algae, leaves and critters all summer. Occasionally, I would get in, but generally it was just the thing that caused me enormous amounts of frustration and cost more than a few dollars in chemicals and gear.

Unbelievably, we didn't get rid of it after that summer. We decided to give it one more summer. Big mistake. It was even more trouble than the previous summer and I don't think I ever got in it despite spending countless hours trying to make it beautiful. Towards the end of the summer, it sprung a leak and despite several attempts to patch and resuscitate it, it became obvious that it was a goner. Still, instead of immediately tearing it down, we just left it to sit and collect leaves over the winter.

Come spring, it was FULL of leaves and about 8 inches of water. One warm, sunny afternoon Sophie and I were out touring the back 40 when I glanced into the pool and noticed something furry. Thinking that this must be a clump of leaves, I walked around the pool to get a better look. To my dismay, closer inspection revealed it to be the earthly remains of one unfortunate squirrel. I recoiled but kept my composure. Then I noticed another furry spot, and another, and another. Altogether, there were six sad little squirrels in the pool. I suspect there was just too much water for them to be able to jump out and they drowned. Quel tragique, non?

Of course, I was saddened by this, but didn't really think it foretold ill tidings for other squirrels in our yard. I was wrong. We got rid of the death trap pool, but a month or so later, I found a dead squirrel in our front yard. Laying peacefully under one of the large oak trees, at first I honestly thought it was sleeping. Sleeping. How dumb is that? Like this squirrel was running along the ground and got tired. Stretching its little arms, it looked up at the safety of the limbs overhead and decided that the yard, mere feet from a fairly busy road, was a much better spot to stretch out. I didn't spend too much time looking at it, but there didn't appear to be any injuries. Do squirrels fall out of trees? Do they, um, jump? I asked Neil to take care of it, but before he could, someone or thing had done the job for him. Squirrel gone. Again, I thought this was weird but not really all that noteworthy. But then it happened again. And again. Most recently a couple of days ago.

Now, we haven't put out anything that might poison these little creatures and as far as I can tell neither have any of our neighbors, nor have they had any final visitors. So I'm starting to wonder if squirrels come to our yard to die. Are we the destination for depressed rodents? I mean, how could so many squirrels find their end in our yard in ONE summer? In my whole life, I don't think I've ever seen a dead squirrel (other than the roadkill variety) and now they are EVERYWHERE. What gives?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Resemblance?













I was looking at that picture of Sophie and glanced over at the one of me at age one and realized that there is a bit of a resemblance between us. In case there were any doubts, I'm pretty sure she's mine.

Enchanted


















Her gentle wonder
Amazement at each new gaze
There is discovery
Indeed every single day

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Part-ay!

And so ends the long holiday weekend. Well, for the rest of the world, for me the vacation just keeps on going. Neil had yesterday off too, so our weekend didn't end until last night. We had a busy weekend, marked by not one but two first birthday parties. I've mentioned before that there was a rash of fertility among our friends roundabout December/January of last year and all those babies are now approaching their first big birthday.

The first party was on Saturday at the home of one of Neil's oldest friends. Their daughter, Mady, is so adorable and precocious. (That's her being held by her daddy, John, over Neil's left shoulder. John is a photographer and he has a collection of photographs that are far superior to mine on his blog.) Despite the fact that I actually spend quite a bit of time with other babies approximately Sophie's age, it is still so interesting for me to see how other children are developing. At no time in my life have I been more aware of the fact that we are all individuals with our own schedules and traits and these start pretty much at birth. Neil was kind enough to wear the baby for a good chunk of the party giving me the rare opportunity to eat without little hands grabbing at my plate. Sara, John's wife and Mady's mommy, could probably start a career as a party planner if she ever gets tired of her current job. Everything was perfect, the food, decorations, everything. She's also thin and beautiful. I should hate her but unfortunately she's actually really nice. Amazing bit from this party: we saw a baby squirrel!! I wasn't even sure such things existed. I've only ever seen the full grown variety. I swear I thought they sprung from some font of squirrels as adults.

Party two took place on Sunday at the shore house (that's what folks out here call houses on the water, but not the beach) of the birthday girl's maternal grandparents. It was actually a double birthday as our friends, Chrissy and Russell, have a three year old as well as a one year old. The sun was shining and there was a perfect cool breeze coming off of the water. You couldn't have asked for a better day. Sophie did a little swimming in a kiddie pool and worked her way from one set of arms to the next. That is one of the great things about being at an event where you know so many people. You don't even worry if you haven't seen your kid for a while because you know the person who has her will take good care of her. Interesting tidbit from this party: Clowns are a mixed blessing. Although all of the kids loved him, the same could not be said for all of the adults. There was a contingent that cowered in the house while the clown was doing his thing. I would make fun of that, but I saw IT as a teenager and frankly clowns scare me, too.

We're still on the fence whether to have a big party for Sophie's first birthday. We're leaning towards just a small get together with family, but I may change my mind in coming weeks. I have joked that it won't be a birthday party at all but a "holy crap, the kid's still alive and we're still married" party. TBD.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Evacuation

Gustav made landfall in Louisiana this morning. Much like people all over the country, I've been following the weather more than usual this weekend. Waiting. Wondering if this would be a repeat of three years ago. Living in Maryland, we're a long ways away from this particular storm, but the threat of hurricanes is no less real for us.

I saw footage of the packed highways leading out of New Orleans as residents fled. It made me question what I would do if we were forced to evacuate. I would most certainly go, but how do you prepare yourself for the possibility that your home might not be there when you return. Knowing that these things might be all I had to sustain me for an indefinite period of time, what would I bring? They began the evacuation several days ago, so many people had some time to think about what to pack. Aside from the obvious: pets, clothes, and personal necessities; what mementos of our life would make the cut? I worry that I would wander through the house, struggling to make the decisions, afraid that anything forgotten would be that one thing that would leave me riddled with guilt. I am like that, constantly second guessing my decisions. I've always wished that I could be one of those people that once they made a decision, it is as though the other alternatives no longer existed. They are that confident in their choices. Despite this uncertainty, there are a some things that I have no doubt would find their way into our car: photos, jewelry, personal documents and of course, the computer.

I would like to think that if challenged, I would step up and my better side would show through but who can say for sure what one would do in a crisis. My thoughts are with the hundreds of thousands of people who are and will be affected by this storm.