Thursday, November 29, 2012

Dog-Shaming a la Moo Cow




Thanks to Dogshaming.com for this brilliant meme. Check it out; it's hilarious.




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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Puffs: Xanax of Snacks

Henry is a screamer. When he doesn't get what he wants, he delivers shrieks of disapproval at a pitch and decibel level that rivals the sound of nails on a chalkboard.

"Your complaints have been registered with senior management," I tell him.

Unacceptable, Moo Cow!

I'm about to lose my shit on you, Moo Cow.

Monday, November 26, 2012

What Sound Does the Dog Make?

When Hudson was a (seriously-the-cutest-ever) puppy, Rayne and I decided we would teach him basic commands -- sit, stay, come -- and not bother with roll over, paw or play dead. He wasn't, we reasoned, our little play toy to teach tricks for our amusement.

I mean, SERIOUSLY, how cute was this puppy?
(I have to admit that I slightly regret not being more -- ahem -- insistent that Hudsy learn the basics cold, since we did have to bring a trainer in after Henry came along and Hudson slid screeching off the cliff to Neurotic Dog Valley. But I digress.)

In the last few months, I've noticed babies at the playground or in classes starting to do tricks make animal noises on command for other adults in the audience vicinity.

I've always found it odd when parents yell non sequitur commands at their infants and toddlers in a usually (but not always) futile attempt to elicit a response:

What sound does the cow make?
What sound does the duck make?
What sound? What sound, dammit?!

Okay, maybe not the last part, but it seems implied by the fever pitch of their voices.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Selfish Mom

In the wake of backlash from the original mommy wars, it's fashionable now to call yourself a selfish, bad or clueless mom. Just poke around the mom-blogosphere for five minutes.

I'm the worst mom because ... I drink wine during the day; I don't change diapers often enough; I never cook; I text during the dance recital; I don't read to my daughter every night.

Suddenly, Sanctimommy is gone, and we are all jockeying for the title of World's Worst Mom.

someecards (one of many similar)

But Sanctimommy is just beneath the surface, isn't she?

In the stories we share, we rarely if ever show ourselves in a bad light. Self-deprecatory humor aside, truly bashing yourself in public goes against the nature of human beings, let alone mothers who have sacrificed themselves at the altar of perfection for decades.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Mom Clogs

Let's be clear: I would not have been caught dead in clogs at any point during the first 37-and-a-half years of my life.

For example, here are some of my favorite pre-mom shoes:

Cole Haan pumps with Nike Air technology (my every day work shoes):


Enzo Angiolini peep toe patent leather heels (have them in navy blue and beige -- so cute)


Stuart Weitzman open-toed sling backs (on super sale at Bluefly.com, thank you very much)


It was time, however, for sensible non-sneakers that I could wear around the neighborhood. I have some decent sandals, but now that the weather is getting colder... well, I needed something closed.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Persona Non Gifta

Since I am now a mom, my sister recently informed me, I no longer get Christmas presents.

Christmas in my family has always been an overwhelming orgy of consumptive glee -- food, drink, decorations, cards, presents, more food, more presents. The amount of wrapping paper alone must decimate a small forest every year.

Recently, the gift exchange has whipped itself into a fraught and frenzied cyclone. Wish lists start flying in October, greedily flooding my inbox.

Gift-giving mania reached its apex last year (or was it the year before?), when gifts for my niece had to be distributed over two days because there wasn't enough time for her to open them all in one sitting.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A Proclamation: I Will Stop Proclaiming

Remember that time I was upset because I felt fat?

Oh, wait, that's been every day for the last six years, during which time I went from this:
Slim, cute

to this:

Sunday, November 18, 2012

In Which the Moo Cow Rocks the Philly Marathon

Let's just say the morning didn't start out perfectly. The "continental breakfast" and "line of taxis" promised by our ghet-to hotel in downtown Philly turned out to be "a pile of apples and oranges" and "sporadic taxis."

My get-up for the race

Friday, November 16, 2012

Church Lady

I was raised Roman Catholic.

Thank you for your condolences.

Our family didn't go to church or Catholic school, but my sister and I definitely went to eight years of Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) classes -- aka Catechism, aka "Religion," aka boredom, aka place to check out cute boys in middle school -- and we received all the sacraments.

Holy Communion, age 7

I have to be honest. Even at the tender age of seven, I was suspicious of the pomp and circumstance that surrounded CCD. It just didn't seem authentic. That year, one of the CCD teachers told us to clear out a special drawer for our CCD workbooks. Not the Bible. The workbooks.

I was confused, to say the least.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Teaching Compassion on Third Base

After Hurricane Sandy hit New York, I knew I wanted to volunteer.

Actually, I wanted us both to volunteer. I harangued Rayne into going out to Staten Island for some physical labor. (One might call it forced, but he was glad he went. Also, he got to smash ruined furniture with a baseball bat. It was like his birthday and Christmas combined.)

I wanted to help out of a sense of community and compassion. But if I'm being perfectly honest, I was also anticipating Henry's inevitable question, What did you and Daddy do after Hurricane Sandy?

I wanted to be proud of my response. I wanted to set a good example. Be the change I wish to see and all of that.

Is that too selfish a motive?

***

I woke up at five in the morning the day I was supposed to run the New York City marathon and headed over to the shelter at Brooklyn Tech High School in Fort Greene. What I saw was not pretty. Those being housed in the gym were primarily from Surf Manor, a state-run "adult home" on Coney Island whose residents consisted of mentally and developmentally disabled individuals of all ages.



There was Gustavo, originally from Guatemala, who was in his 30s and seemed to have a crush on me. He smiled so sweetly every time I passed that I had to stop and say hello.

There was an old Eastern European-sounding dude who kept asking me in a really loud voice why I was there if I had at baby home. "No one is paying you to be here," he kept insisting, "but you are paying a babysitter."

There was the sweet elderly blind man who wanted to eat lunch; he was so hungry. I tried to guide him to the cafeteria but he was too frail. (Eventually we brought lunch down to him.)

Then there was the woman (Myrna, I think) who made me search inside her pant legs for her phone. She was freaking out. "My cousin's father is going to call and come get me! My cousins father is going to call and come get me!" she repeated over and over. Who knows if it was true.

And the woman in her 70s who rushed up to me sans pants. "Help, I soiled my pants, I soiled my pants," she pleaded, offering her pants, and presumably said soiled undergarments, up to me. (I got her a nurse and put on gloves after that.)

And the woman in her 60s with a swollen belly who talked to me for twenty minutes about her "pregnancy" and the fact that the Surf Manor employees were secretly "pimps." I could barely understand a word she was saying let alone follow her logic. It didn't matter; she just wanted someone to listen.

Every last resident I spoke to told me they were going home that afternoon, even though I knew they weren't. They might have been leaving the shelter (although it turned out they didn't) but they weren't returning to Coney Island.

When is the bus coming? they wondered.

I think in the afternoon, I lied, after agitating a couple residents with the truth. It seemed easier and, frankly, more humane.

There was a veritable mountain of prescription medication at the makeshift nurses' station. Anti-psychotics, anti-depressants, blood pressure medication, heart failure medication and many others I didn't recognize.
Photo credit: Keith Ramsey

The nurses and other workers associated with the home seemed apathetic at best, very nearly sadistic at worst. I don't have their incredibly difficult job every day; I am trying not to judge. (It's difficult, but I'm trying.)

Obviously conditions in the shelter were less than optimal, and change is hard for everyone let alone the unstable among us. The residents of Surf Manor wanted to get back to their orderly lives, their systems and routines, their psychotherapists whom they mentioned by name.

I'm just not sure the quality of their "regular" life is so different from what I saw. And smelled. And heard.

I returned home tired and humbled.

***

Rayne and I were both raised in educated, upper middle class homes. And as is the wont of children born on second base, we are on our way to third. This worries me. How do we teach Henry to appreciate his place in our world, to understand and be grateful for his privilege instead of feeling entitled to it?

Third Base

Photo credit: mtsofan

Do we incorporate community service into our family life?

Travel the world over? Show him true poverty?

Tell him repeatedly he is not special but lucky? That from his privileged perch he has an obligation to help those less fortunate?

I don't know, maybe my motives for going to the shelter were less than completely selfless. It's just that I'd be horrified if I raised a son who someday answered a question about whether he was a NASCAR fan with "I have some great friends who are NASCAR team owners." Such cluelessness nauseates me.

I want to lead by example, but I'm not sure the best way.

How do you instill gratitude in your children?






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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: The Bonds of Parent and Child

Baby elephant follows its mother
Tanzania, August 2010



Young male and female lions (below) respond to their mother's call (above)
Tanzania, August 2010


Linking up with other Wordless Wednesday participants:

Angry Julie Monday

Monday, November 12, 2012

A Brief History of Shattered Glass

I should write about the fact that Rayne started his new job today (hooray!), which left me once again a "single" mom (booooo).

Or about how Henry has determined biting is the very best and funniest way to get my attention. Not just during nursing. But also during standing. And sitting. He almost broke skin today with his two bottom teeth. And look! I finally have the photo of Chompers McGee's six teeth that eluded me the other day:


However, as this blog is, in reality, a way for me to vomit the contents of my toxic and altogether frightening brain landscape into the Interwebs for all to see, I'm going to write about my frustration with some recent weight-gain.

I really don't know how it happened. It was, perhaps almost surely, the 3 am pints of ice cream and frozen yogurt I have been consuming now that Henry has decided that sleeping through the night, which he did for several months, is beneath his dignity as an almost one-year-old.

DON'T TELL ME TO SLEEP TRAIN. I heard you! I heard you start to give me advice! I don't want advice! I want to complain about feeling fat!

Let me tell you a little story, in pictures.

Once upon a time, in my mid-twenties, I looked like this:
(Are you wondering why I copyrighted these drawings? Only because they are amazing. Duh.)

Then, for reasons that I will not discuss here (but maybe in a subsequent post) I became very, very sad. So in my late twenties, I looked like this:
After what seemed like an eternity -- both to me and to my friends and family -- I started feeling better, ran my first marathon and met Rayne. And I went back to looking like this:
Then Rayne and I moved in together, and a month later, I broke my foot. We sat on the couch and ate snacks and watched a lot of Sopranos and Battlestar Galactica. And The Wire (best show ever). We ordered in. I was used to eating like a runner, but I had stopped running. We got married. I took a job with a long, terrible commute and lots of hours. I was super tired and stressed. After six years of all that, I'd gone up three sizes, and I looked like this:
THEN, on top of all of that extra weight, I got pregnant. And I looked like this:

Not the girl

Photo credit: Nathan Rupert
After giving birth, I made it back to my most disgusting non-pregnant weight (see above). Now, eleven months to the day after Henry's birth, I am my most disgusting non-pregnant weight plus six pounds or so.

I scream in horror every time I look in the mirror; the glass shatters (in my mind).

This morning I happened upon a post at Bright Copper Kettles about "eating cleanly" and how it changes your life. The thing is, for me, it's not the knowledge of how to eat. I know how I should eat.

Nay, it's the will power. And the sweet tooth. And the need for instant gratification that pervades my psyche. And the husband who likes steak and pizza. (And who likes me the way I am, no matter how much I weigh, the bastard.) And the sleep deprivation. And the slower metabolism. And the stretched out abs. And the no time to exercise. Did I mention the complete lack of self-control when confronted with sweets?

Anyway, in response to my comment on her post (a shorter and, I hope, less crazy sounding version of the paragraph above) Rayna at Bright Copper Kettles promised to address my concerns. When she does, I'll be sure to link up to her response. Check it out.

[Update, 11/19/12: Here is Rayna's post!]

Friday, November 9, 2012

When Life Gives You Lemons

Step aside, Sandy. You had the gall to sweep through my city, leaving death and destruction in your path; that doesn't mean you get to push me around.

The ING New York City Marathon was canceled, and I was disappointed. But I will not be stopped!

Instead, I secured a number through Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation for the Philadelphia Marathon on Sunday, November 18.


From the ALSF website:
Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF) emerged from the front yard lemonade stand of cancer patient Alexandra “Alex” Scott (1996-2004). In 2000, 4-year-old Alex announced that she wanted to hold a lemonade stand to raise money to help find a cure for all children with cancer. Since Alex held that first stand, the Foundation bearing her name has evolved into a national fundraising movement, complete with thousands of supporters across the country carrying on her legacy of hope.
Pretty neat, right?



To help me make lemonade, you can donate to the cause here, or simply text "Lemonade E91223" to 85944 to make a $10 donation. Easy peasy.




Now if you'll excuse me, I'm in week three of crazy taper* hell, and I need to do some sit-ups or something.  




* "Tapering" is when, right before your big event, you severely cut down on your training so you can run the race with "fresh legs." It's like going cold turkey on your endorphin supply. Usually you taper for two weeks, at the end of which time you are mostly insane. It's the only way to run a marathon, because no rational person would subject themselves to a 26.2-mile jog. But due to that harlot Sandy, I've had to start my two week taper all over again, so now I'm in week three. It's not pretty. Ask Rayne. Not. pretty.





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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Chompers McGee & The Case of the Tired Straws

My beloved child went from zero to six teeth in the span of five weeks. In case you're calculating, that's an average of more than one tooth per week. (I have an MBA so I can do high-level math basic arithmetic.)

Aside from the drooly, cranky, snotty mess he became during that month, my dear child also learned to use his sharp little mouth razors to bite things. Things like my shoulder, my arm and, yes, my boobs.

[Insert photo of Henry Chompers McGee with teeth showing, had he cooperated at all for one second. No thank you, Mommy. Maybe later.]

Remember way back one hundred thousand years ago when I confessed that I didn't want to give up nursing?

Yeah.

Well, I'm getting a little tired of it. Henry has surmised that the quickest way to get my full, rapt attention while he's nursing -- if he, for example, wants to switch to the other boob and I'm too busy sleeping in an upright position to notice (the nerve!) -- is to bite. When I cry out in pain, he giggles.

I'm going to go on faith here and assume my child is not a sociopathic masochist but instead a curious monkey who is fascinated that he can provoke such a reaction. I'm magical! he must think in his little brain.

I'm magical!
Now that my nipples are understandably sore and tender, his nursing technique is, shall we say, not optimal. He's always liked to nurse as if my boob were a straw. (Not that this propensity has translated into his using a sippy cup, because it has not.) He pushes me away, drawing the nipple into a long cylindrical shape while maintaining a tight seal. Then he sucks.

It was never great, but with my toothless muppet baby, I didn't mind. Now, the straw + teeth combo is becoming tiresome.

But guess what? Henry turns 11 months on Monday. That means we are at T-5 weeks to weaning. I suspect the full wind-down will take a little while, especially for the early morning feeding. Other than that, I think he will be okay with a bottle. I will almost certainly be okay with a bottle, particularly in the middle of the night. As will Rayne (mwah-ha-ha-ha-haaaaaa).

Oh, sweet bundle of happiness, love, light and razors -- you can chew on the bottle nipple (and almost anything else) to your heart's content. Your Moo Cow's straws boobs are about to go on vacation.

What?



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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

I'm a Bad Mom (Blogger)

I just want to write.

I don’t want to hold contests and giveaways. Or post recipes for pumpkin scones. Or make crafts. Of any kind.

When I started blogging, a very wise friend told me to find my niche. I thought -- foolishly it turns out -- my niche would be “mom blogger.” Little did I know how crowded and noisy that field really was. And so inexplicably filled with sparkles, recipes and contests. And curly-q fonts. And pastels. And exclamation points!!!

Sigh.

I left my career when my son was born. I traded my black three-inch Cole Haan heels with "Nike Air" technology (what a joke) for a bob haircut. Isn’t that enough street cred to write a mom blog? Must I also make sparkly crafty things and glue confetti to my clothing? Isn’t it enough that I Scotch tape crookedly cut photos into Henry's baby book? (I'm pretty damn proud of that book.)

Isn’t it enough that my choice on forms is "unemployed" or “homemaker,” as if I dropped out of 1953 wearing a scalloped white half apron that would in no way keep my clothing clean if when I spilled? Must I also make scalloped aprons, post them to Pinterest and sell them on Etsy?

My nightmare
Photo credit: Jeff Youngstrom
I know I'm a bad mom blogger, but I can't bring myself to follow do-it-yourself blogs. If I need to learn how, I don’t know, to dye my shoelaces purple, I will sign on to that grand experiment known as the Interwebs, open my Google homepage and type, “How do I dye my shoelaces purple?” Sure enough.

No. Nej. Nein. I want to read about people’s lives. I want to laugh. I want to be inspired by good prose.

And I want to write. I want to write like no one is reading.

Except that I want people to read what I write, of course. And therein lies the dilemma.


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I had to ditch my terrible commenting system, but I didn't want to lose the comments, so here they are:

Wordless Wednesday: The World I Want to Raise My Child In





Linking up with other Wordless Wednesday participants, Project Alicia and Live and Love Out Loud: 
Live and Love...Out Loud

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Emotional Bouillabaisse

The eeriness of post-Sandy lower Manhattan was unsettling as we drove on Friday afternoon to the marathon expo at the Javits Center to pick up our race numbers. The empty streets, darkened traffic lights and weary police officers seemed post-apocalyptic and served only to reinforce our own growing ambivalence with the upcoming race.

Manhattan / October 30, 2012
Photo credit: David Berkowitz
There were too many people and communities still in need of help; too many resources were being diverted to set up for the race, let alone conduct it.

The stories filtering out from under the storm were (and are) horrifying. I nearly collapsed in a puddle of tears the other night while reading the New York Times article about the Staten Island woman whose two sons, aged 2 and 4, were swept out of her arms by the water and later found dead at the end of the street.

Unspeakable.

Canceling the New York City marathon was the right thing to do.

And.

(Not "but.")

And, I'm disappointed. The NYC marathon has been on my bucket list for years. I juggled a lot to train for this marathon. I paid a lot of money in babysitters and asked a lot of favors of friends and family. Rayne and I also raised $2,670 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society with Team in Training.

I was finally going to complete a marathon injury-free after running San Diego in 2006 with bronchitis and terrible IT band pain, dropping out of Nashville early in 2007 with a stress fracture in my left foot and then dropping out of Chicago later in 2007 with a stress fracture in my right shin.

It will likely be years before I have another opportunity to train for New York. (My sister promised to run it with me cheer for me on the sidelines when I eventually do.)

And.

And, Rayne and I agonized all week over whether we should run, even if the race was held. Out-of-control toxicity and vitriol on the Internet aside, racing just didn't feel right. Our desire to run was not enough to justify the cost to our city. 

We donated $500 to the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York, where 100% of the proceeds will go towards rebuilding efforts. We pulled together a huge pile of donations including diapers and other baby supplies, dog food, socks, batteries and blankets for the Occupy Sandy relief effort. 

Still, it wasn't sitting right.

Far Rockaway, Queens / November 1, 2012
Photo credit: Philip J. Bell
So, we are relieved and disappointed. Sad for everyone in the path of destruction. Angry at our government and politicians for not taking a stronger position on climate change. And thankful -- ever so incredibly grateful -- to have escaped unscathed.

This time.

Now we turn our attention to rebuilding the city.

Tomorrow, Rayne is heading to Staten Island with our team of would-be marathoners to do an in depth, one-block radius clean-up near New Dorp Beach. From what I understand, they are taking the very same buses that would have shuttled us all to the start at Fort Hamilton, also on Staten Island.

Great Kills, Staten Island / October 30, 2012
Photo credit: Rob Gross
I'm volunteering at Brooklyn Tech High School in Fort Greene, currently a "special needs" shelter that is in desperate need of help, according to a social worker friend of mine and corroborated by my own eyes when I stopped by this evening to sign up.

Coney Island, Brooklyn / October 30, 2012
Photo credit: drpavloff
It's not going to be pretty. But hopefully we can add some NYC pride to the swirl of emotions that have engulfed us since last Monday.


NB: If you are interested in joining the relief efforts, a good place to start is: NYC Service.