Wednesday, December 16, 2009

What A Foul Morning

Reminder to self: weeping will not help.

But sometimes, you just wanna sit and cry, you know?

I've been sick since September, and thinking back, I had the first cold in mid August, so it's been about six months since I have felt healthy. This is not me; this is not normal. This is baby's first winter in day care, and this is what happens to at least one of the parents, at least in my anecdotal sampling of personal experience. Maybe it's only a first child thing, I don't know, and maybe there is actual research to support my suppositions, but I am too tired and sick to look for it. Suffice to say, I think that Finn and I share the same immune system, so whatever he gets, I get. Pete does not.

Finn was just in for his 18 month appointment. All is well. He had his Pc and HiB boosters (now I only have Hep B and Polio to catch up on, along with his H1N1 and seasonal flu boosters, in the first week of January). He's on the curve or done with catch-up for most of his charts, except for weight, I think). 20 pounds, 13 ounces and 30 inches. He's nursing and eating like a champ (peas are a current favorite). He's happy and social. He's been sleeping like crap again, but that's a chore for the new year.

He does have an ear infection, though, so he's on the pink stuff again. I have the same thing, but it sure seems worse than his. I'm at work today, but I shouldn't be. Pete was in a bad mood all day yesterday, and today he was complaining about day care being a pain because it takes two hours out of our day every day, but we don't want to switch him, so it's just complaining (we have not been able to get back to our bus routine since Thanksgiving; another chore for the new year). It piles up on me, though. I feel it like a weight. Maybe it's because I am sick; maybe it's because I blame myself for pretty much everything, but when Pete turns into a little black rain cloud, I feel like a failure. My house (I had it when we met) is too small. I have too much stuff. The baby is not sleeping by himself. Day care is too far away. The house is a mess. There's too much to do. There's no time. He's not getting laid. (That last one is actually the first one, and the one that I think contributes to all the others being frustrating for him. Plus, it blows to have a constantly sick partner.)

All my fault, my brain says.

But truly, weeping will not help.

Happy baby was sitting in his new, gigantic, forward-facing car seat (over 20 pounds and over one year old; rear-facing is still safer, and I wanted to leave him rear-facing in town, but... whatever), and he loves it. He can see out the windows, he can see us. He did not fall asleep this morning like he usually does.

And now, I should get back to drowning in work.

Friday, December 11, 2009


For the last few weeks (if I had the desire, I could look it up, and find the exact date), Finn has been unwilling to go into his crib to sleep at night. We had a good stretch where he was sleeping pretty well, perhaps waking up once, maybe twice, but basically sleeping from 8:30 p.m. until 4:30 in the morning.

Then, one night, I could not get him into his crib. I thought it was an anomaly, and that the next night, Pete would be able to work his Sandman magic and get him back into the baby bed, but to no avail. We settled back into co-sleeping, one of us at a time, with the boy. We kept trying, kept up the front end part of our night-time routine, but that last bit was failing. I thought it was a developmental thing, or maybe due to the never-ending cycle of colds, and I thought it would change, as it had changed before.

It hasn't yet. And we have been getting periodic lectures from day care, and then there's the holiday travel, and then there's me, being the one who thinks that he's a baby, and if he wants me or Pete, isn't that what's supposed to happen? He's a baby.

It's Friday night. Extras from "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince" are looping in the background. It's Pete's birthday weekend, and I know he was hoping for some adult contact with his spouse, but he's in consoling the boy, and I am here. With you. We got him into the crib, but he woke up an hour and a half later, like old, old times. We let him fuss for almost ten minutes. It did not get much worse, but it certainly did not get better, and Pete went in to get him.

Perhaps we should have waited longer, and no doubt, others would agree, and perhaps we will get to the point where we can. Goodness knows, ten minutes is the longest we have lasted, and if I were not here, Pete would probably last longer, but maybe not. It's not our goal to let him cry it out, anyway. At least, it's not my goal. It is our goal to tackle this after the holidays. The exact plan is yet-to-be-specified.

Perhaps it involves me being somewhere else entirely for a week.

Pictures from Oma

A Balm for the Sleepless...

The family, with Hammy McShowoff
Good looking couple:
He wanted that on his head, really:
Dueling spoons:

Sleep Lectures

NO, our baby is not the best sleeper in the world.

THANKS, I don't want to read any more sleep books.

I don't want to be lectured or made to feel bad or told, in a roundabout way, that I am doing something wrong because my baby wakes up a lot.

All this talk about "self settling" can sometimes make sense to me, but when I start to really think about it, and apply it to a baby, it makes less sense. Isn't "self settle" just a euphemism for "scream in the crib"? What's the difference between crying it out and self settling? Adults making themselves feel better?

Oh, I don't know.

I do know, however, that sleep deprived people do not take kindly to repeated advice.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

No Degrees

It's beginning to look a lot like A Christmas Story...

There are no degrees outside right now, and the wind makes it less than no degrees. It's a squeaky snow, freezy snot morning. Finn sang in his car seat and Pete grumbled in the drivers' seat. My butt was warm because the new car has butt warmers.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


And not just because Minnesota just got buried in its first substantial snowfall.

We managed to get out of the house and get everyone to day care or work, and I was only two hours late! I say "only" in order to make it sound like it was an achievement. But, all in all, what with Pete doing the snow removal for two neighbors plus ourselves, we did pretty well.

Finn and I stayed inside, and he did some of this:

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Cute reminder

The Boy was up about every half an hour all through the night last night due to a new cold, teething, and/or demon possession. We're not sure which, and the test for demon possession is remarkably unreliable, so we will probably never know. It's been a long time since he has done that, but it does not make me feel (or look) any better this fine, wintery morning.

I have bundled the boys off to daycare and work, and I am getting myself together here at home.

I feel that I need to remind myself that this boy is adorable and a true joy to our lives, so that I don't exercise my circus option. Here's my new hat, off the needles, woven in, and ready for my head, modeled very stylishly by my remarkably alert son. I give you, the side-slip cloche:

Monday, December 7, 2009

No Mama

When I dropped Finn off at day care this morning, his age-mate friend, A- was walking all over the place. A bit wobbly, but perfectly serviceable and chosen over crawling. He's been walking since he was about 15 months old.

As a parent, you always have to try not to compare your child to other children. It's tempting and delectable to think "My kid's doing better than that kid," but it's another thing to think "My kid's not doing that yet." When your kid was a preemie, you also have to do some quick math to get to his adjusted age to make the correct comparison.

Finn has been talking steps here and there. More often in the last few days. It's pretty cool. I know that babies all progress at different rates, and not every child can be exceptional. Finn already had a pretty good bout with exceptionable behavior, so I can't look at A- and worry about Finn, and Rational Me doesn't.

When Pete picked Finn up at day care this afternoon, A- was walking around, waving a train around, yelling "Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!"

I never liked that kid.

Holiday Photo Contest

Vote for my kid, because I think he's pretty cute.

You can vote every hour, but you have to register.
Or, you have to register, but you can vote every hour.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Breakfast at Concord


Daddy, doggie, and cow have been confirmed.

Necklace is rumored. I did not hear that one, so I am reserving word approval.

He has his own words, sounds that he repeats often, but we can't identify what he means.

Mama is a no go.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Diaper Report

We went through 27 G-Diapers and 21 Pampers-type diapers in about six days. So that's $12.99 for 27 Huggies (or whatever; and what's with the odd-numbered diaper packaging?) and $13.79 for 32 G-Diapers. 48 cents for a Pamper and 43 cents for a G makes for $11.61 on the G's and $10.08 for the P's. At 8 diapers a day, that's $3.62 per day. 2,920 diapers a year at $1321.30. Off hand, I know that we spent $444.75 on all-in-ones for day care. I would have to add up all his other diaper expenses to compare in full. We have not had to buy pre-folds for months and months; he's been in the same size for quite awhile. I had to buy some larger covers for night-time because I've been using his preemie pre-folds as doublers, but his medium covers still fit ok for day-time use.

All in all, it doesn't really matter; it's just interesting data. I'll still use the cloth because I prefer them. A week of disposables definitely proved that to me.

Flu Shots

Rah! Rah! Rah!

Finn gets his H1N1 and seasonal shots on Friday afternoon.

I am just happy to have this on the calendar. Still have to get our H1N1, but I am unclear as to whether or not our health plan is offering it to folks like us yet.

That's all I wanted to say right now.

Oh, except for this link from the CDC on fraudulent H1N1 products.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


Dread. Filled with dread.


Deep breaths.

That’s not it either.

Here it is:

Small talk questions are not interesting, and everybody knows they are not interesting, but we don’t know what else to ask because small talk questions are the convention. Saying to someone, upon first meeting him, “What’s your favorite color?” is not really an interesting question in the broad landscape of interesting questions, but it would at least be different. “What do you do?” is the standard line, and for a lot of people I know, it’s the least interesting thing about us, but it’s how we are defined as Americans. Career. Now, I have the baby to talk about, but your own baby is really only interesting to you, which is as it should be. It’s of interest to other parents, but people without kids must be in misery, listening to parents yammer on about their spawn. It is misery. I remember. You have to act interested, smile, and hold eye contact, while not betraying your internal feelings; “frickin’ breeders and your snot-nosed brats.”

Tonight was daddywhumpus’ 20th high school reunion. After days of socializing, little sleep, and yet another cold (accompanied by a crushing headache), I didn’t know if I could handle it. I had to beg off of an earlier gathering due to pain and exhaustion, and Finn and I had a nap. Which left me more tired than I had been.

Social situations are not natural for me, and they are not something that energize me. I have to work myself up to them, and constantly keep myself in check. The little floating me, who tells me that I sound stupid, shouldn’t have said that, blah blah blah is always there, and she will remain through the next day, questioning, worrying, and being generally critical of the previous evening’s performance. I want people to like me, but I don’t really expect them to.

See, I am insecure, and I fear change and new situations. I am constantly afraid that I will make a mistake and appear foolish. For the most part, I am used to this, and I don’t worry that I am missing out. Pete helps me to do new things and not be so worried (I actually flew in a helicopter), but I am just fine with letting someone else take the lead when I am unfamiliar with the territory. I’ll only wield total control in areas where I am comfortable. My control freakiness does not extend to new things.

High School Reunions should be studied by sociologists, and they probably have been. In this case, it was a herd of almost 40-year-old white people, hugging the bar in a long, triangular room, while a sad DJ spun tunes on the edge of an empty dance floor. One of Pete’s good friends, with whom I was rather taken, said that he had the urge to just jump out there and go totally solo. It would be the talk of the reunion. He figured that it was more likely that a fight would break out than dancing. As it turns out, the alcohol tipping point was hit at about 10:15, and dancing did erupt. Of course, a bunch of people hit the dance floor for The Violent Femmes; probably the same people who called me and my friends “fags” and “freaks” for listening to The Violent Femmes. But you can’t play most of the mainstream ‘80’s music that the popular kids listened to at a reunion, because who really wants to admit that they listened to Mr. Mister? Nope, they all want to believe that they always loved The Cure and the Violent Femmes, Depeche Mode and The Smiths, but really, they didn’t. They want to be able to say that the soundtrack to Gross Pointe Blank is their soundtrack, but they are wrong.

Smile and nod, smile and nod.

That’s what I do at these things. It was not my reunion, but everyone knew Pete. He’s a nice, sociable guy. I filled out my nametag as “Pete McCauley’s wife” and only reluctantly wrote “Karen” on it as an after thought. When people asked me about the boy, I told them he was in the car and went off on a short riff about that. They always laughed. I was drinking Coke and then water up until shortly before I left, so I had my wits about me, and my little floating me was quite sober enough to mostly keep me in check.

I had a dozen things I wanted to write down while we were there, and I would have been quite happy to sit at one of the tables and scribble down pithy judgments regarding strangers, but that would not have reflected well upon Pete, and reflecting well upon Pete was my sole purpose at this function.

It’s also really weird to know that some of these people have been reading this (Hi, Pete’s classmates!), and they already know quite a but about me.

The internets. Where my little floating me has less control.

You should see my private blog.

Watching someone else’s irrational crap manifest is a good way to gain insight into your own irrational crap, as you don’t want to be as irrationally crappy as the irrationally crappy person you are observing. In these instances, “Do I act like that?” is a good question to ask. And remember.

For someone like me, who is often floating above herself, watching and criticizing and evaluating, it’s not a giant leap to take, but being able to hold the example in my head as a sort of barometer can make it easier to actually overcome the emotional impulses that insist that you are right and justified, while your analytical, logical side says, in a little voice, “Um, you’re being an asshole. And this is why.”

Humans don’t make sense, and it’s often because we are trying too hard to make sense of things. We usually don’t understand our own bullshit enough to be able to call ourselves on it, even when we are eminently capable of identifying the same bullshit in other people­¾and condemning it as ultimately ridiculous and wasteful.

Friday, November 27, 2009

mmm... baby food

Why does all meat baby food taste like cat food?

How do they do that?

This is only the second time we have purchased canned baby sustenance. I figured it might be good for the trip: convenient. He liked the sweet potato and the oat/plum/banana, but the chicken concoction? I’ll just trust Pete about the cat food thing. I did not realize he was sampling the kibble at home.

Finn’s already not so hot on the meat food, in general; I think it’s a texture thing. He’ll eat a little bit of the stuff I make, but two bites at a time is his maximum for the jarred goo. One to figure out what it is, and one to say “No more, thanks.”

I’ll make him some chicken and lentils today.


I have not traveled that far in one night for a show since Depeche Mode, 1986. Last night, daddywhumpus, auntiewhumpus, and I headed into Boston to hear cousins The Brothers McCann. It was their CD release party, and even though I have been suffering in the fugue of a viral headache, I worked up the energy to go. It was too good to miss. The club is about 1 hour and forty minutes from Easthampton, but it was worth it. It was like being a kid again. We left the boy with his grandparents, worried that he would be demon hell child, as that is what he has been for us overnight.

When we came home at 2:30 in the morning, the house was quiet and dark, aside from the barking poodle. There was no sound of crying baby. There was no sleeping baby on an exhausted adult shoulder in the living room. I crept up the stairs. No sound of whimpering baby. I went into our room. No adult and baby sacked out on the bed. Where the hell is the baby? Where am I? WHO am I?

He was wrapped up and sleeping in the crib.

“No. Way,” said Pete.

We crawled into bed. He stayed asleep. He didn’t wake up until 5:45.

It was like magic.

(Oh, and go to the website. Listen to some songs. Get a CD. You can say you knew them when.)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

I Forgot that I Forgot You

Finn is surrounded by people. On Thanksgiving day there were 25 people in the house, and he got plenty of attention. I was sitting in the corner with Andy, pirating world music and chatting about religion, a room away from the crowd. Finn was happily listening to a cello concert by his cousin, Thorpe, and sitting on his auntie Joyce’s lap. Happy as can be. Then he happened to look my way, and he let out a whine and pointed. Like, “You! I forgot that I forgot about you, and now there you are, and now that I remember, I need you RIGHT NOW!”

Thrashy McKickerboots

Finn was doing pretty well with the whole sleep thing there for awhile. We had a couple of 8-4:30’s and 8-5:30’s, and the other nights were only disrupted once or twice. Then two weeks ago, I could not get him into the crib without him screaming. Pete couldn’t either. He wanted out out out. He’d sleep pretty well on the bed, but that was it.

Last night bit. It bit hard. It was one of those nights where I looked at the clock and thought “Crap. It’s only 3:30.” Captain Kinesis would not sleep without thrashing and fussing and rolling about. Headbutts and feet in the face. Neither of us could calm him. Pete got up at 4:30 and changed his diaper and shoveled some yogurt into him, then brought him back up for some boob and more thrashing. By the time we got up, we were exhausted. Finn’s switch was flipped to “on.” There’s no in between. He’s pretty good at sleeping through his own thrashing and fussing, so he was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

I hate that.


Happy Thanksgiving.

Naps are Death

That's it.

Naps are death.

Travel Diapers

Did you know that nothing is open on Thanksgiving in the Northampton area?

I didn’t.

I had a brilliant plan. And like most brilliant plans, it went awry.

When we were gearing up for Vancouver, I had to give of the ghost of international, hotel cloth diapering. I was going to have to pack way too much crap, and I was also going to be on my own a lot. For all our car trips, we managed just fine with cloth, but this was going to be another story. I checked ahead and located a local chain of stores that carried Seventh Generation diapers, and I decided I would just walk over there and get some of those and suck it up for the week.

I was operating on the same premise for this trip. Then I hit on the G-diaper idea. I had not tried them out yet, and I thought it might be a nice middle ground. I picked up a pack and four covers. They work pretty well, though I am not entirely sure about which parts can be flushed. I brought enough for the first day and figured I would hit the co-op Wednesday evening or, heaven forbid, Whole Foods, and get some more for the week.

Then it totally slipped my mind. This latest cold, heavy exhaustion, and the lengthy trip from Logan Airport to Easthampton completely obliterated all memory of the Absolute Need for Diapers. When GrammaSue said that she had quinoa and organic apples and bluberries and other foods for Finn, we figured we did not have to drag our tired asses out of the house for a shopping trip. It could wait until Friday.

It was not until it was too late that I remembered that we needed diapers.

Did you know that nothing is open on Thanksgiving in the Northampton area except a CVS and convenience stores?

I am stuck with f$*@ing Pampers now.


Nice plan, Ace.

Plans are all well and good until the dumbassery takes over.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


The Mass Pike was a parking lot, the baby was screaming, and I was starting to think “swine flu?” We got off the turn pike and found a CVS. Baby needed Out Of The Car, and I needed Tylenol and a thermometer.

Finn and I have had some form of sickness since September. We have the same immune system, and whatever he gets, he passes to me. I could tell that I had a new one the day before we left. The cough changed, a sore throat appeared, and then the headache. A bad one. I had that Murphy’s Law feeling. Last time I tried to travel, a cat died. What would happen now? Why not the latest hysteria? It’s all the rage after all. H1N1 would make a good answer when the co-workers asked “How was your holiday.”

Alas, I won’t get to be that interesting, it’s just another cold.

No cats were harmed in the making of this post

The last time I flew, I was in the very early stages of extremely premature labor. I didn’t know it, which can be viewed as good or bad, if I want to look back and think what might have been. Amniotic fluid started leaking at the Met on Saturday, but I thought I was just having bladder control issues. Had I understood what it was, that’s me in the hospital in New York City. By Sunday night at the hotel in New Jersey, it was worse, but I still didn’t realize it. Had I, that’s me in the hospital in Newark. Maybe they could have stopped it, maybe not. I guess you could say that I could have bought more time for my fetus, and things could have been different. He could have had dual citizenship in Minnesota and New Jersey, thus opening up numerous exciting and perhaps lucrative possibilities. As it happened, I didn’t get it until Wednesday, and they absolutely could not stop labor, and he was born in Minneapolis.

So it goes. I can speculate all I want, but who has the time? He’s doing extremely well, so “what if’s” provide nothing more than interesting scenarios that involve a preemie in a NICU in the Northeast and a family in limbo.

Flying with a fetus was easy, anyway.

I was really worried about flying with a full-blow baby person.

Captain Kinesis, as we call him, or Godzilla, as day care calls him, does not like to be thwarted or constrained in any way, and it’s the business of airplanes to thwart and constrain. I was relying on the power of The Boob and the extremely early fight to help us through at least part of the experience.

We got up at 4:00 a.m., which is not really news, aside from the fact that we had to get dressed and get things done. Finn got up at 4:30, which is not really news, aside from the fact that we had to get him dressed and out the door for our cab at 5:00.

That part went pretty well.

The airport was packed, but check-in went pretty well.

Security went pretty well.

Even Finn had to take his shoes off.

We had a lot of crap. Once we added a car seat to all the other stuff, plus a bag of baby food, I felt like we had a mile of gray bins snaking slowly through the machine.

And we packed light.

Finn was fussy and tired, so I latched him on as we started taxiing. He slept for an hour and a half. When he woke up, he had a diaper change and a walk up and down the aisle. He really wanted to get down and crawl and was mad that we would not let him. I broke out the new toys, which were interesting for 20 minutes or so. A story. More boob. Then we landed, and he loved looking out the window. That was pretty cool.

All in all, it was barely interesting enough to deserve a post.

We didn’t forget anything major. No cats died. The house is not a disaster area.

I’ll call it a success.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I've been awake since 5, so where did all the time go? No one who wakes up at 5 should be late. Of course, I did not get out of bed until 6, and then there was the shower and the hair washing and the bathrobe and the.... oh, the baby. We're on our 47th cold of the cold and flu season, and neither of us are enjoying it very much. It was time to go two hours ago, and now it's really time to go.

Friday, November 20, 2009


Um, that would be no. No thanks.

It's not that I am overly fond of the word "penis." It's not a very nice sounding word, whatever good work they may do in the world. The actual combination of letters and how they, pardon me, feel in my mouth, is not very, er... pleasurable. Nonetheless, that's the word. It's not "wiener" or "weewee" or *shudder* "speckie."

babywhumpus has begun to take an interest in skin. He loves to poke my belly or grab on to those lovely mounds of fat on my lower back. He likes to look at and pinch his naked belly. Occasionally, he will grab his penis, but mostly, he just looks down at it. Like he's concerned. Then he looks at me and back at it. This morning, I said, "Yes, that's yours." He looked at it. Back at me. Made a few tentative grabs, then put his hands back up again.

We put on his diaper.

This could have gone on all morning.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

International Space Station

No, I am not planning on sending b.whumpus to the ISS if he does not start sleeping in his crib soon (apparently, sleeping next to me, on his nursing pillow on the couch while I watch Two Towers-Extended and knit a hat is better than his crib, and now that I see it written out that way, I guess I can't really blame him)... Anyway, yesterday afternoon, when I picked up Finn at day care, we all trundled outside to the street to watch the International Space Station go by. It made a low, bright arc across the sky, and we watched and thought about the people who are up there.

Michael took a picture of the group, and of course, Hammy McShowoff is looking at the camera.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Fear. It Works.

I have had to put some critical thinking hours in lately. Maybe it's because I have been getting comparatively more sleep. Maybe it's because I am out and about in the world more now. Maybe it's because The Boy is older and doing so very well.

The reason does not really matter. What I am interested in is my personal reaction the the vaccination issue when it came up while babywhumpus was in the hospital.

A few years before I had a kid, probably ten years, by now, friends of mine who do have kids and who work at renaissance festivals around the country, year-round, told me that the kids in the trailer next to them had whooping cough. My reaction was "Whooping cough? Seriously? But there's a vaccine for that." It was like my friend had told me that the kid next door had the plague or dropsy, it sounded so alien, so medieval, so not like a health problem one should have in 20th century America. She explained to me that a lot of these young parents were not vaccinating at all.

My reaction? "Dumbass hippies."


Flash forward to Pregnant Me, 2008. I have just started to think about things like pediatricians and day cares, and vaccinations. In the intervening ten years, there had been all these reports about vaccines and autism, vaccines and mercury, vaccines and side effects, and now I had my own fetus, and I started to think about it differently, from a standpoint of quivering fear.

I can only see this clearly now, almost two years later.

Fear works. Whether it's in interpersonal relationships or politics... or health care. Make someone afraid, and you can get a formerly rational person to do almost anything, believe almost anything.

Then Mr. Baby arrived on the scene at 25.5 weeks, and I stopped thinking about all those "third trimester things" because my fetus was going to spend his third trimester in a plastic womb. I had other things to worry about. I had the presence of mind to ask about breastfeeding, and I may have asked about shots, but I don't remember.

A couple of weeks before his discharge, they started asking me about shots and giving me handouts from the CDC. They filled me with doubt and disbelief. My brain was handling them like propoganda. I read a book by Dr. Sears on vaccinations and took copious notes. I wrote a note to one of his doctors expressing my concerns. I would look at my little boy and somewhere in the back of my mind was this fear that he would be forever changed if he got these shots.

The Fear. It Works.

The doctor was very patient; she provided peer-reviewed articles for us to read. I could feel my brain resisting. I wanted her, an authority I trusted, to tell me what I wanted to believe: that this would hurt my baby, and I did not have to do it. Even though I had no problem getting the DTaP shot myself once Finn was born. Even though I get a flu shot every year. Even though I had previously thought that the vaccine-thimerosal-autism argument made no sense when one considered incidence and timeline. And because this authority I trusted did not tell me what I clearly wanted to hear, did not give me the validation from authority I craved, my brain told me that she just didn't have all the answers; she wasn't really listening. This practicing neonatologist, who has worked with preemies for most of her long medical career somehow just didn't get it.

In the end, we had his DTaP shot and we all went home. I was an emotional wreck that day. Convinced that I was going to come back to the hospital to a different child. And everything was fine. Since then, we have given him the recommended shots, albeit, one at a time. I rationalize it by thinking that if he does have a reaction, then I will know which shot it was, so I can monitor in the future, but I know that, really, it's purely paranoia. It's a little comfort game I have chosen to delude myself with.

What gets me now, after the crazy fog has lifted, is how insidious that anti-vaccination propaganda actually is. It follows the same emotional lines that other equally unsupported arguments follow--arguments to which I am not susceptible because their underlying thesis (e.g. President Obama is not an American) is so obviously ridiculous and poses no threat to me or my family. This one got me because of my propensity for some aspects of what is often called "natural parenting," my aspirations toward "sustainability," and the peculiar and unnerving circumstances of my son's birth.

It has made me feel great deal of resentment toward the anti-vaccination movement; I feel taken advantage of, at my most vulnerable time, by lies and fear, which also results in embarrassment at my susceptibility, but more than that, it has left me with a more critical eye toward what I am doing and what assumptions I make. Does that mean everything I do will change? Of course not. But I hope to have a better understanding of why I do things, and the ability to re-evaluate my opinions and actions when necessary.
We're not sleeping again. Actually, I should say, HE'S not sleeping IN HIS CRIB again. He's sleeping, but he really does not want to do it alone since last Friday. He has a nice cough, I think he's teething, and also going through something developmental. Whatever. He had a few nights where he actually slept from 8-4:30 or 5:30 in his crib, without waking either of us up once, and that was lovely. I hope we can get back there.

Have I mentioned that he's cute?

Yeah, he has to be.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Dusty Dust

This morning, NPR had a report about dust in the house, and it sort of made me mad. I am sure it was supposed to be a rather light-hearted drive-to-work fluff piece, but I wanted some hard-hitting journalism. Pieces like this that talk about all the bad stuff that is in dust (apparently, researchers are still finding DDT d inust in homes. Either someone is never cleaning, or our chemicals really stick around) probably make people run out and buy toxic chemicals that they can use to wipe up their toxic dust. Granted, the story only mentioned vaccuuming. It did not encourage Pledge, but Americans are dumb when it comes to cleaning. They think that cleaning=expensive, chemical-laden products that scub counters and floors raw when all they really need is a little elbow grease and common, household products like white vinegar and baking soda. (Americans want things to LOOK CLEAN, not necessarily be healthy. They think this is the same thing.) Also, I wish the story would have mentioned that indoor air quality is better than outdoor air quality, in almost all instances, and people should be opening their windows when weather allows, letting in fresh air. Yes, even in the city.


It was shaping up to be a sucky, suck-filled morning crammed with suckage, well-befitting a Monday. I got out of bed at 6:30, which was about thirty minutes too late. Pete was slow getting clothes together for the boy because there "were no long sleeved shirts," after I had watched him holding and looking at a long-sleeved shirt.

"You just had one in your hands."
"Yeah, but it was a full-body one."
"So? just take off his onesie (TM),(1) and put that on instead."
"But I want him to have layers."
"So put a tee shirt under the long-sleeved." And I dug out a tee shirt.
"These six month shirts won't fit."
"No, I have to go through that drawer."* And he started folding up the six month shirts. "Don't put them back into the drawer." He put them back into the drawer.**

Furthermore, it was 28 degrees outside, and the car was covered with frost. I could not get the car seat base onto the latches because they had been re-set for the new car, and I am a dumbass,# so I did not know that. Pete had to take care of it, and he scraped the car.## I got to day care, and Finn was the first one there. I felt bad that we have to drop him off early and pick him up late. He started breakfast, I put away his things and chatted a bit with Michael. I like to have a few extra minutes in the morning to do this, but this morning, I didn't. As I got one block from the bus stop, I saw the bus go by. Last week, Pete said that the next one was not for an hour, and the downtown buses take too long. I was not wearing boots made for walkin', so I decided that I would just have to stand there until a bus came. I did not want to drive in to work.

I wanted to react to all these things with either the angry vitriol of a seven-year-old with no patience for dumb adults who just don't understand*** or the sobbing of a teenager who knows that the world just does not get me, and it's all so unfair.

Clearly, I am pms-ing.

Just as Pete texted me to drive to work, a bus pulled up. As I had suspected, there are three in the 8 o'clock hour, relatively close together, so I managed to catch the middle one. Everything was better. I could knit on the bus and get to work at a reasonable time instead of silently weeping on a neighborhood street corner across from a chiropractic office that offers, among other things, "allergy elimination."### I felt light-hearted and filled with thanks.

Clearly, I am pms-ing.

Knitting project: Side-slip Cloche by Laura Irwin. I got 81 of 108 stitches picked-up and knitted onto the band. The Vestee for baby's second winter sweater is at home on the couch, probably under Max Cat. I just have three or four ends to weave in. I don't think I am going to block it because he's a baby, and it will have banana on it soon enough. I dropped a locking stitch marker and could not find it. The bus was crowded. That's ten cents I'll never see again.

Bus conversation: Woman sitting next to me said my knitting was "cool." She says she can't knit. She's a crocheter, and knitting is too slow for her. She also can't read on the bus or in a car because it makes her dizzy. She was nice.

(1) It was not really a Onesie (TM). Those are made by Gerber, and this was a Carters product.

* why I have to be the one to do this can only be because I am the woman, and see below.
** why the crap would someone do this? and see below
***or, the angry vitriol of a woman who knows she knows better, and everyone around her just does it wrong, and how do these people survive in the wild on their own?

#I have been thinking this a lot lately.
##in his jammies and my slip-on red shoes. He did not have to do this for me. It was really nice.
### i.e. "woo."

Friday, November 13, 2009

Turning Boys into Girls?

My father recently alerted me to an article about chemical exposure and children. It was interesting to me for a number of reasons.

I didn't really learn anything new; I have been on top of those particular chemicals for awhile now, starting before I got pregnant in the first place. The parabens and the phthalates are in a lot of things. The parabens especially are prevalent in pretty much any make up you buy at a department store, including the higher end products, and both are present in shampoos, etc., along with many other ingredients of concern.

What interests me in this article are some of the comments and assumptions. For instance, the whole "boys are playing like girls" comment is troubling in a number of ways that possibly expose more fear and prejudice than anything else, and I wonder if the study took into consideration that more people could be exposing their sons and daughters to toys associated with both boys and girls, purposefully. As those chemicals are prevalent in everyone due to their presence in so many every day products, and without reading the original report, it's hard to say what's going on. It depends upon how the original study was set up.

While more people are now becoming aware of problems associated with these chemicals and others like BPA, it does not mean that those who previously were unaware were not "alternative" in other ways, such as having less stricture when it comes to approaching socially accepted gender roles. Plus, I wonder how much of the "blame" for the other results can be placed on these chemicals alone. There are so many aspects of modern human life that are affecting our evolution, it's hard to isolate. I would be careful of conclusions based on perceived causation.

The likely case is that the study gives a balanced, scientific approach and response, and the interpretation by articles like these draw their own conclusions.

All of the results mentioned, actually, tie into gender-based fears related to the feminization of men: less sperm, smaller genitalia, dresses, tea sets, fewer boys in general. To be fair, he does give brief mention of the threat to "machismo," but I think there is more to the conclusions than is being shown here.

Also, I think that the writer is probably convoluting some things. He mentions the Danish study, then switches to a Canadian report talking about dioxins, which are not the same things as the other two chemicals that he mentions.

He says to avoid using plastic containers for food, but he should emphasize that plastic should never be heated in the microwave and also should not go into dishwashers. Basically, I think that the use of plastic should be reduced in every day life. It shows exceptional usefulness in things like medicine, and as oil is not a renewable resource, plastics should be reserved either for long-lasting items or for medical care/etc.

The above questions are no reason to not take the use of these chemicals and others seriously. It is possible to accomplish all the necessary tasks of daily life without most of them, and that is what we try to do, though it is difficult, especially when it comes to the phthalates. It's just me, trying to be analytical and critical about incoming information because I have been seeing such a lack of those qualities in public discourse recently. It made me wonder where my blind spots are.

"Healthy Child, Healthy World" is a good organization, overall. They were founded in the late 1980's as the "Children's Health Environmental Coalition" by two parents whose daughter died of cancer at a very young age. The parents concluded that it was due to chemicals, mainly pesticides, in the environment, and research eventually seemed to support this conclusion. Other than that, the organization encourages whole, organic foods, safe cleaning products, and a reduction in the exposure to chemicals, and that is a good thing.

(Thanks for the link, Dad! It provoked some good thinking on my part!)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Reminder to me

Check on Finn's vaccination schedule.
I think he's due for a couple.

The frequency of the childhood shots lessens, and they space out differently over time. My favorite shot-nurse made up a schedule for me for my one-at-a-time paranoia, so all I have to do is consult that.

He still has had neither seasonal nor H1N1 flu vaccine. Neither are available for him yet. All they have is the mist for the seasonal, and the supply is still not there for the general public in my health plan for the H1N1. Our day care thinks that it has already passed through, and at least one child has been given the diagnosis from a doctor, so it's possible.

Now, hopefully I filed it in my "vaccinations" folder...

* 5/18/2010: Please note that this post was written during my Great Vaccination Fugue, from which I have recovered. Finn will be getting the CDC recommended vaccination schedule from now on.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Commute This!

This is our commute from home to day care to work:

It kinda blows. Sure, it's not as bad as some people's, but this is about me, not them.

We try to reduce our overall environmemntal impact, and I always have. There are the simple "3-R's," (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle), which I have been practicing for many years, and I was concerned about global warming and sustainability long before Al Gore made me cool. (Who would have thought in the '80's that Al Gore would make anyone cool?)

We had always tried to minimize car usage; we took the bus to work or we rode our bicycles. Then we had a premature baby who was living in a hospital in Minneapolis. We live in Saint Paul. We had the option to move him to Children's Hospital in St. Paul, but we thought he was fine staying just where he was, and we should not move him for our convenience. As it was, since we work in Minneapolis, it made sense to keep him there. For awhile over the summer, I struggled with finding a way for us to still bus to work, but two to three trips a day to the hospital did not allow for it. I had to accept that I would have to make up for our expanding carbon dioxide footprint after he came home. At tax time last year, I figured out that we probably put roughly 2,000 miles on the car going to and from the hospital, home, and work.

During the time Finn was home with me, we stopped using one of our cars. Pete still wound up driving to work often, too often, but we had cut down from the 30 miles a day. Still, not back to our normal car usage.

I figured that when day care started, we could get ourselves back onto the bus. We would look for a day care that was either close to home or close to work. And we did. One of the recommendations was for a "crazy" day care that would be cool with cloth diapers, plus it was near the U. I looked them up, and I definitely thought we would fit in there. Pete called, and we went to visit. It's nowhere near the U. It's farther away from Children's Hospital. They've moved since the days of the recommender's experience. And it was the only day care we really loved. Really, truly loved and felt comfortable with. And, of course, it's the day care we chose.

Man alive.

It's worth it because Finn will turn out to be a really good person due in part to our choice, and he loves it. It feels like family. But Sweet Furry Pan. It takes us half an hour to get there and half an hour to get home. It's 8.2 miles from the house, and another 4.4 to work amounting to 12.6 miles one freaking way. 25.2 miles round trip. We've been driving all this time because I could not get my crap together to organize anything else. More than an hour a day in commuting time does not leave much room for organizational error or dawdling, and Pete's not the fastest moving homo sapien in the universe.

But I vowed that when I started back full time, if not before, I would get it together. And I did.

For all of the last two days, one of us drops the boy off in the morning and catches a limited stop bus to the U. It's only 2.5 blocks from the day care. In the afternoon, whoever did not drop him off takes the same bus back to day care where the car sits waiting. It will save us almost ten miles a day. Doesn't sound like much, I suppose, but that's 2600 miles, 96 gallons of gas, and 300 dollars a year. I'll take it. Plus, we are using our bus passes again, and I get some knitting and eavesdropping time.

Current Work in Progress: Finn's Second Winter Sweater. (Vestee on Knitty, for those in the know.) I am almost done with the second sleeve.

Latest conversation: Second wave feminism and television programs, including an interlude about homo-social roles in "Sanford and Son" and more than I wanted to know about the third season of "Mad Men" (I have to wait for the DVD).

Monday, November 9, 2009

This was going to be a good one.

When you have a baby, your life becomes a game of catch up. It's a routine, sure: a routine of random scrambling and feeling like you are merely average in all areas of your life. Like this entry. It was in my head at 5:30 this morning, and it was really good. I had the flow going, so I got up and turned on the computer. I decided to make the coffee, and then I remembered that I needed to toast rice for Finn's cereal because he finished all the oatmeal yesterday. I got that going in a cast iron skillet on the stove. In the meantime, while I waited for the coffee to percolate, I figured I would do a few dishes so that the evening would not find me buried in yesterday's mess. Then the baby woke up.

I got him from daddywhumpus, and we came out to the living room for a diaper change and a boob snack. Then daddywhumpus got up. We had coffee, finished cooking up the cereal, and Finn had some breakfast while I got ready for work. Then I took over, and Pete got a shower. Then we left: Pete for day care and I for work.

Now it's 10:30, and I can't remember what I wanted to say five hours ago.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Halloween Photos

It was my intention to make Finn a skeleton costume for Halloween and be done with it. I bought a long-sleeved black undershirt and black leggings, cut out some bones, and cheated by using hot glue.

It was pretty good.

Bone Baby takes a nap.

Being Evil can sometimes be frustrating.

REALLY frustrating.

Sometimes only mildly evil...

Anyway, I was in the fabric store because I did not need anything but I had an insidious 50% off coupon that demanded I go there and find something I did not know I needed but certainly could not live without (sewing basket), and I found this costume pattern. Devil. Sold.

Bone Baby still loves "Put Me in the Zoo."

Next Halloween, I think I want to go out, the whole family, and be John, Abigail, and John Quincy Adams.

Morning Poop Count

Finn: 2
daddywhumpus: 1
kittywhumpus: 1

Looks like it's going to be a lovely day.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Do you remember the time...

...when you could ask, "Where's the baby?" and answer "Right where you left him."

It's hard to envision anymore, that baby who could not get anywhere on his own, especially watching the tiny tornado that just ripped through the livingroom, crawling up on the rocker, throwing himself around, clambering over the hassock.

We are doomed when he starts walking.

Dear Blog,

It's not you.
It's me.

I know, you've heard it all before, from a thousand writers over your years of experience, but, really. It's me. I am just in a place in my life right now where I need to put me first. I think you deserve better. I don't have the time to devote to your care and upkeep. I have a million things to say, but whenever I face you, my mind falls blank, and I cannot type.

Please don't be offended, blog. I still love you, and I will always be your friend. I just need some time to myself right now.


Friday, October 30, 2009

He would not eat cheesy pasta at day care, but he's munching roasted red pepper hummus with daddy. He's a very interesting baby.
Babies cry for a reason. It works. It provokes a physical response in the caregivers. It's the only way that babies have to tell us that something is wrong. I don't like to hear my baby cry. Normally, it makes me want to provide care and help him.

Then there are times like this. It's been a sucky week, just sucky. I could certainly plow the vocab farm for a more descriptive and even melodious word, but it's really just been sucky. I am exhausted and not feeling well. I am sad about my cat.

And on the way home from picking up Pete at the airport, when Finn started crying, it provoked the other response. The one we are not supposed to talk about. The sighing, oh-jesus-not-again response of a parent who has spent the better part of the last two nights awake, alone with a sick, crying, thrashing baby.

Pete's on duty tonight. I'll fill in with the necessary boob at the appropriate moments, but then I'm off the clock. I'll delve fully into the suck-y-ness of this week later.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Monday's List

Here it is. We'll see how I do by the end of the day:

1. Get Finn to day care.
2. Clean up high chair area (seriously, it's a disaster area).
3. Do dishes.
4. Clean out fridge (see #2).
5. Vacuum living room.
6. Sweep all floors.
7. Cook food for babywhumpus and mama.
8. Go to co-op for milk, chick peas, and half-half (That's the list so far. It may get bigger as I decide what to cook).
9. Buy Guinness (see last night's post re: Bud Light).

Monday Morning Report for Daddy

Finn's normal routine is that he's asleep by about 8:00 p.m. and doesn't wake up until midnight at the earliest. Last night, he was exhausted and fell asleep rather quickly while nursing. I read and waited out the obligatory 20 minutes and went to put him into his crib. This usually works for me, but oh no no no, not last night. He was very upset. After two tries at this, we came out into the living room for a little Lefty snack. I repeated the process and took him in after thirty minutes. This time it worked. It was 9:00. He woke up at 11:00.

I can only guess that he was wanting daddy.

I slept with him in the bed in his room. At one point, his feet were on my chest and his head against the wall. He's a very active sleeper, but we did ok. We got up for good at 6:48, got dressed, packed the diaper bag, had a boob snack, and hit the road at 7:38. He sang until he fell asleep, and we checked him in at day care at 8:06. Only Ellery was there, and Michael was still getting breakfast together, so we talked about nutrition and brain development while he got Finn his oatmeal, chicken quiche, and tomatoes. I left at 8:30 and arrived home at 8:45. Now, it's 9:11. I have folded the rest of the diapers, tidied up the diaper area, and put a few dishes away. Max is sleeping atop the basket of clean laundry, Hazel is perched on the floor next to me, and I am having my coffee (decaff), while listening to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and recovering from my first outburst of Fritz Missing.

It's just too quiet.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Vacation? Day 1?

It's 9:05 p.m. I have just gotten The Boy into his crib, I am drinking a Bud Light because it's the only beer in the house, and this is not the travel journal it was supposed to be.

I'm by myself. Two of my favorite boys are gone, one of them forever, and the other favorite boy is asleep. Pete is somewhere in the air between Seattle and Vancouver, and his cell phone won't work when he arrives. It's just me. Mama duty for the work week.

I could have used his Sandman skills tonight, as Finn, though very tired, did not want to be asleep in his crib. He did not want me to leave him, and he probably wanted his daddy, who often gets him to sleep at night after The Routine begins to cast the bedtime spell. It took me an hour and three rounds of nursing, but he's in his bed, and I have a few minutes to catch up.

Well, not entirely. I am not ready to write in detail about the events of the past two days. I am still in disbelief. 20 years... no. I can't think about it right now.

My travel journal should have been about otters, mountains, and excellent shoe stores. We had decided to use disposables for this trip, and I am sure there would have been much confessing about that on my part. I was dreading parts of the vacation, but still looking forward to it. It wasn't what we wanted, being separated like this, and especially for this reason, but here we are. So my travel journal is going to be about staying home and working through this. It will be here to tell Pete what we did while he was away.

We played.

Drank some water.

He also ate some food. It was a wasteland of pasta and sauce that I will clean up tomorrow. No pictures. Too messy.

One of us posed.

And one of us had a bath.

One of the remaining cats is sleeping in one of Fritz's spots, and the other seems to be watching for something.

The other human in the house is trying to wind down to "The Two Towers" (sorry darlin', I had to) while the second wash runs on the diapers.

This beer is warm.

And it's in a can.

Friday, October 23, 2009

We Haz a Sad

September 6, 1989-October 23, 2009

Change of Plans

(But keep the flying advice coming.)

Our oldest cat, Fritz, is doing very poorly, so Finn and I are not traveling at all, and Pete will be leaving Sunday instead. (Many thanks to the airlines for the 1800 + 300 they wanted to charge us on top of our 1200 in order to change our flights to Saturday. It makes perfect sense to me, really it does.)

We will take him to the vet at 2:30, and realistically, I don't expect him to return home with us. He's 20; I doubt there is much they can do for him at this point.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Flying Baby

OK, parents out there. We're taking our first plane trip on Friday.
This is how I feel about it:

Tips? Tricks? Medication recommendations (for me)?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Feed Yourself

Because I am sick of doing it.

When my friend Greta's kids were small, and I was childless, she used to complain that she hated feeding them. I thought it was hilarious. I mean, you gotta feed your kids, she's a good cook, and how hard can it be? Her kids were a bit of a pain when it came to eating, I guess, and they did not want whatever it was that she made, kind of like how republicans don't like whatever it is President Obama makes. They won't even taste it. In the case of Greta's food, I can't believe it, as I love her food. In the second case, I'll reserve comment for kittywhumpus.

Now, here I am, in the kitchen, with my son strapped into his high chair. He jams as much finger food as he can into his mouth, and when it's too much, he pushes it all out like a perverse little Play-Do fun factory. When he's mad or done, or he just does not like what you got, he thrashes and pushes the spoon away.

I hate it.

It is not charming.

I think it's because breastfeeding is so no-fuss and relatively no-muss. Just whip it out and insert into mouth. Aside from the occasional biting, it's a pretty sweet deal. Getting food ready, cutting it into bits, or spooning it into his baby bird gob is not nearly as easy or clean.

So he wants to do it himself?
Fine with me.

The best thing about day care?

They feed him.