Tuesday, June 29, 2010


While perusing my news searches this morning, a couple of headlines caught my eye. After a wonderful two-year-old evening and then a night of sleep crying, thrashing, and slapping, it's no wonder they stood out:

There are times you can understand it. Fortunately, most of us know there is a line, can see the line, and don't cross the line. We take a breath, and either place the child in the center of the room or hand it off to someone else. Then we cry because we dropped a fork or stumbled on a toy. That emotion has to go somewhere afterall.

The other headline was flipped in my brain. Perhaps you can guess how:

I saw "Kids linked to heavy drinking in parents." But in all seriousness, the study found that "teens with lax parents are more likely to drink heavily than teens with strict but supportive parents," which is interesting. I'll have to look into it further when I have had a few more hours sleep. So, give me a few years.

Monday, June 28, 2010


It really was like some sort of slapstick set up.

As I held onto a red-faced, screaming child, Pete handed me a tray, the cat jumped over my shoulder, pushing the gate and the tray into me, causing the child to scream even more, and my final, frayed nerve to snap.

I was not in the mood for slapstick.

Those nerves are stretched taut like strings on a mandolin. My new First Nation name is Jumps-at-Loud-Noises, and my patience, what little of it I had, is fast approaching zero. I feel like one of those hysterical housewives often portrayed in popular culture who takes up drinking vodka from a white coffee mug, chain smoking and alternately weeping and yelling.

How do you discipline a two-year-old? They are basically sociopaths. They don't understand norms and expectations, and they are operating on pure, selfish desire. He doesn't care that we are telling him "no", he doesn't care that we don't want to be hit in the face. I stop him from sitting two inches from the television, he slaps me. It doesn't matter to him that I am hurt and mad.

He just got done pitching an Almighty Fit because his behavior resulted in being exiled from the kitchen. He said he wanted to help prepare his evening snack of plain yogurt and berries, but instead, he threw a goose magnet down the basement stairs and started destroying a birthday card that was on the refrigerator.


It's relatively silent at the moment, aside from neighborhood noise and the scraping of a spoon on the bottom of a plastic bowl.

And the pounding of a blood vessel right behind my eye.

What a Boob

Should the editor of a parenting magazine have to apologize for saying she thought the idea of breastfeeding her baby was creepy? ("I formula fed. So what?", Kathryn Blundell)

Maybe. Maybe when her baby is 15 and reads it.

Could she have used better judgment, considering her position, and either toned it down or not written it? I suppose. But it's part of the mothering experience, isn't it? A bunch of ranting lactivists are not going to change her mind or the minds of countless women who feel as she does. In fact, ranting lactivists are part of the problem.

But she gets to have her opinion. She gets to express it. And then she gets to deal with the fall-out. She probably got fed up with another pro-breastfeeding study that tapped some well of guilt, or she was judged by one last mother, and she decided "Screw you bitches," and wrote up an editorial. Her opinion and reactions say a lot about her, and they say a lot about the socialization and sexualization of women. I can't find the original, so all I have are quotes in a newspaper article. It may appeal to other mothers who feel the same way, and they may well be cheering that someone has pulled a Jerry Maguire and put it all down on paper, but she really just sounds whiny and childish.

Opinions like this are part of the conversation, and they should be out there and be judged on their merits and on the evidence. I am certain that the dialogue that happens will not be reasonable, however. We're too emotional when it comes to mothering, so we probably won't get anywhere or make any progress.

It's not hard to guess where I stand on this issue. She's a big, selfish baby. Yup, breastfeeding can suck--it's the nature of the beast. Animated blue birds are not going to alight on your shoulders and cheep happy songs while you lovingly gaze into your infant's eyes wearing your best, crisply white floaty nightgown, one hand resting lightly on the downy head of a baby deer. Half the time, you are unwashed, at 3:00 in the morning, in a big tee shirt you got at an Olivia Newton-John concert in 1999 wearing old, most likely stained, cotton underwear, nodding off while sitting crosslegged on the extra bed in the baby's room, while he twitches and just won't let go.

Not that I would know anything about that.

Nothing is all good. There are elements of joy and ease when it comes to breastfeeding, and there are times of deep, dark woe. Having pumped exclusively for 71 days while the boy was in the hospital, I have little patience for someone whining about "wanting their body back" or anyone who complains that it's "just too hard." Give me a break. Are we really this pampered?

(If I were one of the mothers who desperately wanted to breastfeed and for some reason, was physically unable, I would want to punch this woman in the throat.)

The thing is, we can't have everything. Giving up some of the rights to your body is part of the bargain of having a kid. Deal with it. You are going to give up sleep, freedom, cleanliness, organization, reading in peace, gardening, excessive crafting, easy travel, financial security... the relationship you had with your partner will morph and change; you'll forget what you talked about before you had a baby, and eventually, you will wind up talking about the baby. Putting parenting and modern western society together can be difficult, but we are still wildly privileged people, which shows when we can get paid to be this childish.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Every night, there are things we should do to make our lives easier.

We should do the dishes, sweep the kitchen floor, wipe the counters and stove, fill the water dispenser, take out the recycling if it's Wednesday, rinse out the day's poopy diapers so we will be ready to wash them on Sundays and Wednesdays, scoop the cat boxes, and, of course, feed the cats.

(Yes, items like "feed the cats" need to be on the list.)

Almost every night, I hit the 17th mile, where I think "No more. I can't do any more." I sigh, my shoulders slump, and I have a quick, internal conversation with myself. "You can do it. Just rinse out the washcloth and wipe the table and counters. Then you can stop."

Tonight, we didn't scoop the cat boxes or fill the water dispenser, and now, at 10:16 p.m., we are sitting in the livingroom, on our individual MacBook Pros, watching a documentary on Monty Python. The diapers are on their second wash; the recycling is on the porch. babywhumpus is asleep for the moment, and there's an annoying fly buzzing around my Guinness. daddywhumpus is working on the CD cover for the new Hounds of Finn CD; I am doing this. I figured out that I can vote for my boy in our little vanity contest 7 times a day, because it's browser-based, not ISP-based, and that is the sort of small accomplishment in which I must revel these days.

The fly is creeping across the face of a young Peter Cook; I notice that, once again, Finn did not finish his cookie; I really should be in bed.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Because I can, and it would be fun to go to New York City again, because the last time I was there, babywhumpus started his premature entry into the world, unbeknownst to me... because it's high time he started paying his own way, I give you:

Pimping out your child for personal gain.
The Parents Magazine cover model contest.

Tell your friends, if you want. I have no shame. Well, I have a little shame. I do find this to be highly embarrassing and it possibly makes my character entirely suspect. It's terrible, I know, and I am not sure what possessed me, but there he is.

I think I have been watching too much America's Next Top Model.

Monday, June 21, 2010

KatieOhKatie made me do this...

And since I think she might be me, or I might be her, and I love her blog, I am powerless to resist. Also, I feel like crap today, so this seems like a good thing to do. It's a survey!

Five names you go by:
1. Karen
2. K (Mom & Dad)
3. Honey, Darlin' (daddywhumpus)
4. Mama (babywhumpus)
5. Finn's Mom (all the other parents at day care)

For a while, in my early days of working at renaissance festivals, I was "BBLP" or "Little P," and I am not going to tell you what they stood for. Sometimes, one of my friends calls me "Special K." Another of my friends used to call me "Zoot," and I called her "Dingo," but we are not friends anymore, and it still makes me sad. Now, I use "kittywhumpus" as my online name in most places.

Two of your favorite smells:
1. Freshly ground coffee
2. Finn's baby head before he became a stinky toddler who hates to get his hair/face/head area wet.

Three things you are wearing right now:
1. Purple peasant-y shirt that I bought in the junior department of Target for when I was pregnant for that whole 30 minutes. Why kids these days want to wear maternity clothes is beyond me.
2. Keen sandals, which are awesome and almost not like shoes at all, and all  three of us have a pair, but they are all different colors, thank FSM.
3. A silk flower that I hot glued to a clip and put near my pony tail because I feel like poo, and it can't hurt.

(I would like to point out that the question only asks for three, and so I chose the above-mentioned objects. I am wearing pants.)

Two things you want very badly at the moment:
1. To go home because they bathrooms are too far away here at my office, and that's already more information than you need.
2. The ability to apparate. That's not a thing, though. Actually, neither of those are things. Let's try that again:

1 (a). A new HELOC so we can do the plumbing... no, that's really boring...

Crap, the stuff I want is not interesting. I want 8 hours straight of uninterrupted sleep. I want Time. Big, fat blocks of time where I can garden or organize or clean out the basement. And I do want the loan for the plumbing, house painting, and patio. Also, I want my 1951 Tappan oven fixed so I can freaking bake again. The only temperature it has right now is HOTHOTHOT.

Two things you did last night:
1. Watched part of PBS's "Looking for Shakespeare"
2. Practically nodded off (in misery) while giving babywhumpus his pillow time before bed.

Two last things you cried over:
1. Funeral of a friend of the family
2. The stress if being tired/behind/tired/frustrated/tired (mostly, I just hold this in because it's not productive to weep. Though I suppose that's debatable.)

Two things you ate today:
1. Home-baked banana bread, one small slice. The top is a very dark brown, almost black (Thanks, oven), but the insides are good.
2. Water. Seriously not pushing the gastro-intestinal system today.

Two people you last talked to on the phone:
1. Dad
2. Christine

Five favorite bands/songs (in no particular order):
1. Cake
2. ONJ (if you have to ask... Oh, fine. It's Olivia Newton-John)
3. Tori Amos
4. Kate Bush (no, they are not the same person)
5. They Might be Giants

Whenever anyone asks me what my favorite anything, I can't think of a single thing at all. So I know I am missing something there. Like, The Police.

Two things that you are proud of:
1. ability to reason and plan, at least most of the time
2. Son and Husband (I must be pretty cool for daddywhumpus to like me)

Two things that you are not proud of:
1. Lack of patience
2. Procrastination

Two things you are going to do tomorrow:
1. I have no idea, aside from work
2. uuummm...

Two longest car rides:
1. Saint Paul, MN to Cape Cod, MA
2. New Concord, Ohio to Bozeman, Montana

Two favorite beverages:
1. Guinness
2. hot chocolate

Two of your favorite memories
1. When Pete started reading a grocery list during our vows.
2. Playing Cops and Robbers on Rattlesnake Butte with Ann and JR

Three favorite vehicles you have owned:
1. 2010 VW Jetta Sportwagon, TDI, which got 49.2 mpg on our recent trip to Winona and back
2. 1991 Honda Civic
3. 2001 Honda Insight

Three favorite concerts you have been to:
1. Olivia Newton-John when I was in 7th grade, 1982
2. The Police, three years ago, with Pete
3. Steve Martin, just last week, playing the banjo and being generally brilliant.

(Katie, we're going to Star Wars in July.)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Good morning

The jacket is almost 40 years old, the child is two, the ukelele is three.

Friday, June 11, 2010

No, Dog, NO!

I love P.D. Eastman's drawings. The book I remember from childhood is "A Fly Went By." That book is weird enough, so I'll get to it later, but I had never read "Go, Dog, Go!" until recently. The drawings are equally as charming as those in "A Fly Went By," but this book is seriously messed up.

There's no premise, no story, and the inhabitants of the pages seem to live in an entirely dog populated world, in which dogs are spend almost all their time racing from one place to another while periodically insulting the sartorial choices of other dogs.

At first glance, this seems like a book that is teaching our young minds about words: identification, opposites, colors. The first exchange between two of the characters, however, is a complete nonsequitur:

"Do you like my hat?"
"I do not."

What the hell? What have you learned, children? That it's OK to say what you are thinking, no matter what? That's probably not helpful in the long run.

Dog Number One tries four more times, and Dog Number Two does not like Dog Number One's hat until the very end when Dog Number One has an item on her head that can only have come from ingesting some funny Milk Bones.

The dogs race around until they climb up a ladder to the top of a tree where they have a free-for-all dog party. "A dog party! A big dog party! Big dogs, little dogs, red dogs, blue dogs, yellow dogs, green dogs, black dogs, and white dogs are all at a dog party! What a dog party!"

This is a book for morning until early afternoon. It's like coffee on paper and should not be consumed before bedtime.


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Postpartum Depression: It's not just for the Chicks!

Jesus. It's like we can't have anything to ourselves. Apparently, new dads get sad when a baby comes, too.

I read this article about post-partum depression in men, thinking it would be all about how they were not getting laid enough, but apparently, the time period is three months before the baby is born and continues through their first birthday. "The riskiest period for the father is when the baby is 3 to 6 months old," the study says.

So it could still be the sex thing.

Is it the stress? The lack of sleep? The fact that your partner got fat? The loss of freedom? The noise? The idea that you have to share her, and her whole being is devoted to a squirming, smelly creature who is just freeloading?

You can have your pre- and post-partum depression, dads, but ladies, can you imagine how bad it would be if they were the ones breastfeeding?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Things I think are stupid

Graduation from preschool/elementary school/middle school/junior high. Let's just make sure every minor thing is celebrated as a major achievement. These are really for the parents, and I think they are a waste of time. Need a pat on the back? Come on. I really don't think seeing your child through preschool really counts. How desperate are we for approval? Hopefully, your kids are getting approval and praise at home when they deserve it already.

Acting appalled that mothers judge each other. Humans judge. It's what we do. I judge people all the time, I just keep it to myself until I come here. "Buying Bud Lite? Dumbass." See? I didn't say that to the 21-year-olds at the liquor store last night, as they got into their Land Rover. The ridiculous thing is that people can't keep it to themselves, and will say shit to women they don't know, in public places, about how they are raising their children. In the case of outright abuse, certainly it's appropriate to say something if the situation demands it, but telling random strangers, apropos of nothing, that they have to massage their babies, shouldn't allow pacifiers, have to let their babies cry, etc. is right out. Most people don't want unsolicited advice from anyone, on anything, at all, ever. Especially about their kids.

Kids' shopping carts. There are plenty of things that kids can do to help you or that will make them feel like grown ups. Banging a metal object on wheels into people's shins is not one of them. (I know, I wrote about this before, but I really think they are stupid.)

Advocating against allowing same-sex couples to adopt. Seriously? You don't have anything better to do than try to keep someone down and assure that they are unhappy for all their days? Really? I know studies and evidence don't matter to people like this, but here you go, anyway.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Museum of Balls & Water

This past weekend, we took the boy to a local zoo. It's located within a large, city park, and it's free. It has a pretty standard assortment of "zoo animals," and over the years, it has evolved into quite a lovely facility. Saturday was rainy, and Sunday was nice, so the place was packed.

We were ready.

Sunscreen application, check.

He loves to get slathered in stuff, which might not bode well for his future, but it certainly makes our lives easier. He stands still and seems to rather enjoy it.

Hat and sunglasses, check.

Again, this is easy. He likes to wear hats, and he likes his sunglasses, at least for awhile.

We saw orangutans, including a baby. There were giraffes, ostriches, lions, tigers, pumas, bison, kudus, zebras, and more.

What we silly grown ups did not realize, however, is that the Como Zoo abounds in water and balls.

Look, Finn! Zebra!

Finn: WATER!!

Parents: Where?


Every. Single. Time.

Look Finn, Lions!

Finn: BALL!!



If he freaks out again when we go to the pool, I am going to be very disappointed.

Guess that membership to the Minnesota Zoo was a bit hasty.
Then again, that place is LOUSY with water...

babywhumpus is learning his colors

And here they are:





and finally,


Sunday, June 6, 2010

Things you only hear after you have said them...

"Finn. Do not throw your dinosaur."

"Yes, it may be extinct, but that does not mean you get to throw it."

Friday, June 4, 2010


As evidence of how long this particular cold is hanging on, as well as testament to how observant a toddler can be, babywhumpus was demonstrating the use of nasal spray (cap on, blowing out).

Here's what I really meant to post...

but I got distracted.

Look how far we've come...

At two...

He loves pizza. We don't have it THAT often, but he loves, loves, loves it. I will have to start making it myself again because no one does whole wheat crust, and white flour is icky.

He loves, loves, loves being outside. Always has. Even as a baby, going outside would settle him right  now. He's looking very serious here, but really, he loves it. I think I interrupted him mid-fun for a picture. Get used to it, kid. This family takes a butt load of 'em.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

We're Four.

Pete and I turned four today. That is, our marriage turned four.

We think it's pretty cool.

Congratulations and thank you to my fantastic husband. Here's to a big, fat party at five years?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

He's Two.

On May 29 2008, babywhumpus freaked us out by arriving 14.5 weeks early. Back then, on the way to the hospital, wondering if I could donate fetal tissue to any worthy research cause, I had no idea of the statistics or the success rate for premature infants (12.5% of all births, 90% success rate). I didn't think there was anything they could do if they couldn't stop labor.

Incredibly, it's already been two years. People tell you it goes fast, and you blink and smile wearily at them because you have been awake for months, but it's true. That 2 pound, 14 inch baby just had his two-year check up, and he's 23 pounds, 12 ounces and 32.5 inches tall. He swings from the underside of his bunk bed, holding onto the metal bars, and he uses sentences like "Mama, ada pellow peas," which is "Mama, may I please nurse now." His favorite thing is to be outside, and he's very excited about doggies, but only in theory. The reality of dogs is much too slobbery and jumpy. He loves whole-fat plain yogurt and Indian food. He has no interest in using the potty himself, but he knows what we are doing there, and every once in a while, will tell me "Poop, icky," as I am hosing out his diapers. Yeah, no kidding, child. "You could use the potty." "Yeah," he says. I don't believe him. The one time I sat him on his little seat, he wailed like he was going to be sucked down into the center of the earth. Which, for all he knows, might be the case.

He's not having full-fledged tantrums, but his emotions are right at the surface, and just about anything can set of a miniature crying spurt. They are short and are easily redirected. It's toddler PMS. I think he takes after daddywhumpus in being a pain in the ass if he's hungry. The little note I got at the pediatrician calls this the "Trying Twos." Um, since when? I believe that the accepted phrase is "Terrible Twos," and there's nothing wrong with calling something terrible when it is terrible. The two switch has been flipped, and it's going to be an interesting year.

Not that it hasn't been an interesting two years already.

He loves Old School Sesame Street, though we need a new DVD because we may wind up insane from repetition, so I have started working in Doggies (101 Dalmations) and now Nemo. I'll bring in others as necessary, though he only shows interest in TV for short periods of time, which is how we like it.

Though when he wakes up at 5:00 for two mornings in a row, I admit, we were hoping Sesame Street was on PBS. It wasn't. It was BBC World Service, which is great, but I think it's a little early in his development to start explaining the situation in the Middle East, especially given that most grown ups have very little grasp of it.

At two years of age, preemies are considered "caught up," and he's on all the charts and still gaining on some. Basically, he's doing great. He still wakes up once a night, most nights, but he's a remarkably pleasant person during the day, so we'll take it. He had one shot today--a new one: Pneumococcal Conjugate 13, which is an updated PC (Prevnar) vaccine that protects against 13 types of pneumococcal bacteria. It replaces the PC7, which only protected against 7 types. He had finished the PC7 course, which means he only needs one dose of this. He'll get his second HepA when he gets his flu shot in September.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The month that kicked my ass

May began with a birthday brunch and ended with birthday cake, and in the middle there were birthday parties, a housewarming party, gigs, numerous events I regrettably missed, and a big visit from the Massachusetts inlaws.

I have had a cold since the 20th, the boy turned two, and I am exhausted.

But the porch is usable and the garage is clean. We can start summer with a new to-do list and the prospect of grilled meat and outside dining.

Watch out, June. I'm coming for you.