Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Finally Fall



Episode #5 - The Enemy Within

Another crazy week has already escaped me for the most part. Halloween has come and gone and what did we do for our daughter? We ordered a pizza, got a 6 pack, and stayed in. That afternoon I put her in her costume and took her to Dan's office to show her off, so by dinner time we were wiped out. I bought 2 bags of fun sized TWIX candy and not one trick or treat-er came to our house. I told Dan to take the bag to work the next day as I cannot be trusted in the house with chocolate and he agreed. By this morning he noticed the TWIX wrappers in the bathroom and thought I was trying to hide them. Little does he know that I have such a compulsion to eat chocolate I actually ate those two pieces on the toilet. Have you ever needed a piece of chocolate so badly that you could not wait until after you've peed, so you eat them while peeing? Don't front y'all... Liars.

I am supposed to go back to the shrink tomorrow but I don't want to go. I want to call and cancel, but now it is after 4 p.m. and she might answer the phone. I can only cancel on her machine, otherwise she talks me into coming in. I am just not liking the therapy as much as I was. I am with a psychoanalyst, which means she wants me to come in there forever, she never references anything I said the week before, and I don't get the feeling that her long term goal has as much to do with my wellness as it does her understanding my madness... and that doesn't help me.

Last week I used the bathroom in her office for the first time. I opened the medicine cabinet and found that it was filled with bird seed and syringes. Is this meant to make people crazy? Does she do this to generate business? I decide not to mention it.

Then, at the end of the session when I am expressing my frustration with my hateful little black heart she asks me if I ever watch Star Trek: The Next Generation. I assure her I do not. She goes on to tell me how my situation is just like an episode she once saw about a transporter malfunction on the Enterprise and Captain Kirk.

Evidently, the U.S.S. Enterprise experiences a transporter malfunction when Technician Fisher is beamed up from the planet with some magnetic ore on his clothing. Scotty checks the transporter and finds nothing wrong, so Captain Kirk beams aboard. Kirk leaves with his officers and when the transporter room is deserted, a second Kirk materializes on the pad.

When a space animal is beamed aboard the starship and splits into two entities; one tame and one vicious, it is discovered that the same thing has happened to Kirk. While one Kirk is good and honorable, the other is evil and runs amok on his ship, committing violent acts, including the attempted assault of Yeoman Janice Rand.

As time passes, the "good" Kirk is weakening, losing his ability to make decisions, while his "evil" half is dying. Neither Kirk can survive without his other half. Time is running out, not only for Captain Kirk, but for the landing party on the planet's surface.


"In the end," My doctor says, "the 'good' Captain Kirk has to hit the 'evil' Kirk over the head, knock him out, and do you know what the last scene is Lawton?"

I am in disbelief.

"No." I say, "I do not."

She finishes, "In the last scene Captain Kirk is carrying the lifeless body of 'evil' Kirk in his arms like a child, back to the transporter. Do you see what I am saying?"

I was brought to tears. I told her that I could not believe she just moved me with a fucking Star Trek episode. At the same time I knew our relationship was nearing its end. Still, I am a little more nurturing of my hatefulness, and that, folks, is the way the progress game is played.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Greasing the Pipes

My baby is transforming before my very eyes. Over this past weekend Dan and I could not help but notice how much our daughter has been growling lately. Snarling, really, looking us directly in the eye and sneering at any attempt we make to empathize with her feelings. At first we thought she was constipated, then frustrated, that it was her cold, until finally we concluded that our baby is just mean. She’s bossy, temperamental, demanding, adorable, and now that she is doing this new crinkle thing with her nose she is down right irrefutable.

Cohen took three poops today. The first was a little rock poop when she woke up. I changed her and began my day worrying that she was constipated despite my vegan diet and the fact that lately all we feed her is pear and blueberry applesauce to keep her little pipes greased. Then, within the next hour, she followed up that first poop with a second poop that was like an ass bomb exploded in her pants. I was relieved, as it was medically obvious that once she had gotten the rock poop out she could return to her normal disgusting bowl movements.

So, this afternoon, in the middle of my trying to teach her to nap in her crib I noticed that she stunk. We had already been at the “crying it out, walking in and out of the room, back rubbing, desperation pleading, mommy crying in the hallway” phase of the experiment when I noticed the third poopy diaper. I took her out of the crib, resigned to quitting for the day, and put her on the changing table. As soon as I opened the diaper Cohen had her foot planted in her fresh poop. I guess I had that coming after the crying it out. I changed her and we climbed into mommy and daddy’s bed to take a nap, two hours after I had begun trying to lay her down for a nap in her crib. I don’t know what I am going to do when she outgrows her swing.

I don’t mind co sleeping. Dan and I enjoy having her close to us, she doesn’t flip around, and aside from the spear she has chucked into what used to be our sex life she is a delight to room with. My question is this… if we co sleep, when does it end? I believe in a lot of natural parenting approaches, but “child led” anything contradicts anything I have ever believed about successful parenting. Our 6 month old doesn’t know what’s best for her, Dan and I do, that’s why we’re her parents. How can I believe that Cohen is the best member of the family to decide when asserting her independence will be right?

Friday, October 27, 2006

Short One Bag of Candy Corn

We’re working on Cohen napping solo again this afternoon. Something about buying a house, taking a full course load, and keeping up my blog seemed too easy, I guess. I was still sleeping well at night and that simply would not do. So, I chose to begin teaching Cohen to sleep solo.

Don’t get me wrong, she still sleeps in bed with us. I don’t even need her out of our bed right now, but I do need her to be able to fall asleep outside of my arms. The only way she does that with me is if I put her in her swing. She is out there in her swing now and I can hear the grinding of the motor as she reaches up and pulls at the plush fish that spin on the attached mobile above her. She is outgrowing the swing. I had been in denial that this day would ever come and here it is.

A friend called me this afternoon, while I was in the middle of letting her cry it out for 15 minutes in her crib. We had already done a 10 minute stretch, after which I went in, picked her up, rocked her and then put her back down. I took the call because while I might have been a bit distracted from my friend, being on the phone would keep me from going back in there.

I explained to my friend what I was doing and he asked if most babies would just cry themselves to sleep eventually. I said I had heard this, yes. He asked then, why don’t I just leave her in there for 30 minutes? I explained that she has never been awake and alone for 30 minutes. I explained that this would be impossible because after only 10 minutes of her wailing my breasts begin to ache, my milk comes in, and I feel as nauseous as I did the first 2 months of my pregnancy. Little did I know that 20 minutes later I would be getting off of the phone with him and calling my husband for desperate support to keep me from going in there. He was busy. My mom wasn’t home. My mother in law was in a meeting. I went in there.

I put her in the stroller and took her for a walk. She slept for less than 5 minutes. At 2 p.m. this afternoon she has not slept all day and is in the living room brutalizing those helpless plush fish attached to swing that can barely hold her. Meanwhile I have an obscene amount of homework due this weekend that I have not even begun. The house is a mess and I have nothing planned for dinner.

Cohen wants me. She wants me all the time now. For me to leave her alone at any time seems to just piss her off. She isn’t scared. She is pissed. Last night Dan took her into bed so I could brush my teeth and get ready to go to sleep. She screamed for me and would not let him comfort her. We know better than to give into this behavior, so I just went about what I was doing, saying hello when I passed her, playing peek a boo while I brushed my teeth. Finally I was ready for bed, but she needed a fresh diaper. I went to her and picked her up to take her to change her diaper.After crying all the while I had been getting ready, as soon as she was in my arms she spun around to Dan and shot him a huge grin. As if to say, “I own her now.”

She is so aware of everything, so into everything. And while it is amazing to watch her grow and discover the world it is also no longer cool to have sex with her in the room. Which is a sort of non issue anyway since she is not only in the room, but in the bed.

Last night, after she fell asleep on my left side, I rolled over to cuddle with Dan on my right. We kissed a little and were each deciding if it was going to be worth getting out of bed to make love, or as so many parents do, should we stifle the urge and get our much needed Z’s. Being careful not to cross the “inappropriate touching while the baby is in your bed” line, Cohen rolled over three times until she was asleep, face down, pressed up against my back.

These are the time when change seems inevitable. No matter how hard it will be, this must change. I suggest to Dan that we could just roll down onto the floor and make love quietly on the dog’s bed. No? Can you believe he didn’t go for that? So, here we are, the adults, the ones that run the show and pay the rent, sneaking off into another room of the house again.

Her stubbornness is astounding and I know it comes from her father who is physically incapable of surrendering his original stance in any situation. This child is going to rub her puffy eyes, and doze off in the middle of crying and telling me she is not tired, only to snap awake again for a split second and continue with her argument. That’s fine. I did not marry Dan despite this quality of his, I love it. I envy his resolution.

Dan and I are both lazy when it comes to anything anyone else asks us to do. The only difference is that when Coco is 5, and asks me 150 times for a bag of candy corn I am eventually going to get so frustrated and frazzled that I will grab the bag and toss it as far from my body as possible so that she must stop pestering me and just leave me alone for five seconds in order to retrieve it, Where as Dan, steadfast and true, is more likely to break out his teacher’s voice, give her a resounding but loving “NO”, and send her off in a huff, short one bag of candy corn.

She's asleep. I just looked. All the fish are still on the mobile and while the swing bows under her weight, she naps another day. I don’t know whether to drink or do my math homework to celebrate.

After Note: Cohen slept from 2 - 4 p.m. in her swing. I nursed her when she woke and she fell right back to sleep for another 30 minutes on the couch.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Raising A Cockblocker

I know, I know... I am never going to make a living off of a website if I never post. Things have been so busy for Team Jackson. Dan has been overloaded at work for the past two weeks, making him a near stranger around these parts. We barely get to eat together so the only time we have is at night if we all go to bed when Dan goes to bed which is around 9 p.m. It used to be that I got all of my "me" time in late nights while Cohen slept, but she doesn't sleep anymore. Ever. That's dramatic. She will sleep at night, right between us, and hand touching each of us, making sure no one is going anywhere. We've raised a cock blocker. Did it to ourselves too. She was sleeping fine in her bassinet from 5 weeks old through 4 and a half months and for some reason we started bringing her back into bed. Maybe we were tired of all the sex we got to have for 3 months. We decided we were all set on the sex. That's right. Now if we ever want to do it, we have to do it somewhere other than our bed. Because we are both so fundamentally lazy, getting out of bed to go have sex is where we draw the line.

So we brought her large play pen into the room to use as her crib, and as soon as we are ready we will try retraining her. The problem is it is hard to commit to doing this. Can't do it at bed time because we are tired. Can't do it during the day because I simply cannot do this alone. It all comes down to admitting all those "can't"s I just mentioned are actually "won't"s and we just have to muster up a little parenting will power. Suck it up. 6 months is officially (for Team Jackson) the age when we have to actually parent, we can no longer coast by on our breast milk at will policy and letting her nap in the swing, which as you can see from the picture below has a new minor flaw.



On the housing front, we sent in our loan application last week and have heard nothing but the desperate beating of our nervous little hearts. I would be obsessing over this, only I started school last week. Online classes at the community college. I hate to be the jerk that says it, since who knows how many of you have earned your degree on line, but this shit is harder than I thought! Seriously, when did online classes become real school? I figured I would take a full course load, use the financial aid to help pay our mortgage and go online once a week to hand in some bogus homework. I'm doing college algebra, begging Dan to take Cohen for a walk so I can call in my spanish homework and writing essays on urban sprawl to try to make up for the D I got on my plagiarism test. Dang.

To let you know how much I appreciate your tuning in, even when it takes me two weeks to post, here is a picture of what Dan dressed Cohen in this morning so that he could take her out while I got some school work done. He was so proud, he called into me how adorable she looked. When I came out of the office to say goodbye it went like this:

L: "Wow, this is the first time she looks like her father dressed her."

D: "I've dressed her before."

L: "I know, but this is the first time she looks like her father dressed her."

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Cool As a Molten Cucumber

Well, it's been a busy weekend. This was the weekend that Dan and I were determined to stay home instead of going to my mother in laws, or even my parents house. We said we'd watch a movie, maybe go to the drive in... so we bought a house.



We drove back down to Queen Creek, taking a different road than the one that had flooded before, and the drive was easy. There were some homes listed with DR Horton starting at 121k, and I knew they would be bare boned, and far. Earlier this week I had run the numbers on what we would qualify for, with Dan's mom, who is a loan officer, and we had been overestimating what we could afford.

We were shopping like we both had paying jobs. Some may have been trouble to hear they couldn't afford the homes they had been looking at, but it's important to me not to get down on the lifestyle we have chosen. Our situation is a choice. I get to stay home with Cohen. If I went back to work we could probably afford a 200k home between the two of us, but my chest tightens and my heart palpitates every time I even think about leaving her yet. So, I get creative. And I don't get down when we get rejected. I look for a cheaper house, investigate the longer commute, and sometimes, like this weekend, we luck out.

The Kitchen


The View from "our" backyard


We signed the paperwork last night, but we're saving the champagne until closing. This next 30-60 days is the worst. The not knowing. The part of the relationship where we could still get dumped for no reason. The fear. The need to pack, to rent out our current residence, to arrange a move and budget for our new expenses (all the while not sure if we really can afford this) runs concurrent with the need to not get our hopes up, to keep our cool, to be prepared to get back out there and keep looking of we can't afford this home. I think we can handle that. If we bear down we can get through the uncertainty, and even come out the other side of a rejection feeling alright about ourselves. The hard part is, I want to enjoy this. I told Dan we just have to let go.

This could be the purchase of our first home, and we don't want to spend the next 30-60 days freaking out. We are going to be cool as cucumbers. Cucumbers that hold their breath for 30-60 days. Look at us... we're so transparent. You can just tell we'll explode if we get rejected, and our ashes will crawl under rocks in disappointment and shame. So young, so hopeful...here are a few pics of Team Jackson's exposed little nerves in their potential new home.



Wednesday, October 11, 2006

This Steak Tastes Like A Shoe

Our daughter, a.k.a. the heckler, will be six months old next week. Her milestones met and surpassed include screeching for sport, full time nap protesting, mastery of the raking reflex proven by tiny red scratches on my breasts obtained during her feedings, long rolling trains of ma... ma... ma... ma...and da... da... da... da... coming from her mouth and my two favorites... spitting and growling. She is also rolling from back to front and front to back, sitting up with little assistance, and pooping little solid people turds instead of something that looks like it dripped out of a rusty pipe. I prefer the rusty pipe poops myself, though I think I prefer Dan get the people turds.

It's hard to watch our baby grow. This week we got rid of her bassinet. Not that she ever uses it anyway, she has a full time job sleeping between Dan and I, ensuring her place as the only child. But on one of the few occasions I went to put her down in her bassinet, her grape ape arm span caused her hands to hit on both sides and she woke up.

At first I was excited, I knew the consignment store I take all of her things to needed bassinets and that we would get to trade for something cool, but by the time Dan was gathering the parts to take it down I cried. Our baby. Our teeny tiny baby that I was once afraid to squish if she slept in my bed has now outgrown a bed all her own.

On another note, about 3 weeks ago I stopped eating meat, and have phased dairy out of my diet almost completely. I plan to live on an entirely vegan diet, but for now, I am too cheap to waste any food. As it stands, I have about 1/4 c. of plain yogurt I've been using for cooking and 12 eggs I probably won't use, because when you convert to veganism eggs are immediately one of the easiest animal products to give up on principle.

If you've ever considered veganism and are looking for a successful way to stay trim while maintaining your self loathing, this is the book that got me started, Skinny Bitch.

Of course becoming a vegan and taking Dan and Cohen with me means several things. Mostly, Dan is probably not coming with me. Though he did turn down chicken in his dinner tonight (chicken my mother smuggled into my fridge for his survival!), and he will try whatever I make, I cannot control his cheeseburger intake no matter how hard I try. What he does at the Sonic drive in is not my business. Cohen, on the other hand, is my full time business. Being the spaz I am, I read the book, decided that be a vegan was the only way to go and instantly told Dan that I didn't want anyone giving our daughter animal products ever.

This resulted in a heated quarrel that I went on to obsess over for three days. Finally we agreed to not feed her the two jars of ground meat baby food that his mother bought her. I convinced him of this by reading aloud how sometimes bad meat is ground in with good meat to make baby food.

So, on Saturday we take the bassinet to the consignment store and begin looking for a few winter outfits for our trip to NY, considering Halloween costumes, and trying shoes on Cohen, because ever since Ila and Ashlee bought her her first pair, I am obsessed with her having more shoes.

I have Cohen on the floor, laying on her back while I try shoes on her and Dan is walking back and forth with hats, bibs, and tights to show us. I put back the size two shoes and as I am pulling down the bin with the size threes I catch Cohen, head turned to one side, licking the bottom of my tennis shoe! Ack!

I am a terrible mother. I pick her up and squeeze her to my body, as I often do when she has come to possible harm due to my negligence. I screamed to myself, "Maybe if you spent less time arguing about meals she's not even old enough to eat and spent more time engaging her, she would not now be developing the rare shoe licking intestinal worm that will inevitably devour her from the inside out before your mother in law even has the chance to offer her a piece of turkey at Thanksgiving!"

With dramatics like that it's surprising I take her anywhere. Later that weekend Cohen ate through the paper on packaging for her new pacifiers, swallowed a piece of fuzz while trying on costumes, and pulled a big tangle of my hair and lint out of the living room rug with her mouth. I got over it. The doc says her poops are different because of the change in my diet, I think it's because all of the hair and lint she eats is backing her up like a clogged drain.



A Note to Cohen: Waking up this morning I felt like no job other than being your mother has been such a joy to get up for everyday. You crush me with your smile, your soft skin, your mean little growls and the way you chew on my face with your tough little gums. I know you are trying your best to get this tooth out, and when I dose you on Tylenol every night, know that I do this for you as much as for your father and I. Because let me tell you kid, giving you Tylenol before bed is like feeding the dog pot brownies. You are hilarious. Last night you sat with your father and ogled the TV while Pee Wee's Playhouse was on. Then, with a reeling laugh you threw your body to one side and began franticly slapping your father. You caught me laughing and began laughing hysterically at my laughter. We love you more than any mountain will ever bear. You are the best thing that ever happened to your father and I, and one day you will hear the story of how you came to us at a time when you were needed more than we could ever relay to you in words alone. One day.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Therapy

Session 1


Sitting outside of my new therapist's office I go over the check list of what is wrong with me, what needs repair, and I strategize my healing in the best case scenario, my escape in the worst case. I park on the street and look at the other houses in my therapist's neighborhood. The houses are nice. If they weren't I would equate this with a bad therapist. If she is going to help me she has to have done well enough for herself to live in a neighborhood where the families can afford nannies (middle aged Hispanic woman walking by with white baby in a stroller... check) and most of the houses have a third car garage. My therapist has turned her third car garage into her office. I am parked in front of her house. I notice that her mailbox is missing one of the digits of her house number. I wonder what kind of a person could let that go.

A woman walks out to the Suzuki Esteem parked in the driveway, she makes eye contact with me and I wonder if this is the doctor coming to look for me. Of course it isn't. It is the patient before me. Definitely crazy. She didn't look good. I walk into the office and it is decorated in Native American motif circa 1987. Why am I constantly going to doctors who decorate their offices as if it were still 1987? My OB/GYN has pink plush chairs with textured wallpaper in his waiting room and had Styx playing in the operating room when my daughter was born.

She greets me, not at all what I expected she has long gray hair, wear a peasant skirt with a black t-shirt and turquoise jewelry. The chair that I have to sit in when I am there forces me to lean forward or recline completely. I will eventually work up the nerve to mention this. The session goes well, at the end she asks if there is anything I would like to know about her. I tell her I saw on her profile that she was Jewish and commended her for that. She thanks me. Does she have kids. No. I ask her what is up with all of the Native American art, does she have some sort of spiritual connection with the Navajo. She says no, she just finds it is a popular design scheme in the area so she buys it. Weird. I like this. While I am mulling over more inappropriate personal questions to ask, she tells me I can write down any I think of and bring them back next week.

As I am walking out to my car there is a paraplegic across the street talking to woman in a jogging suit. He has dwarfed arms and legs and I am staring at him waiting for him to look over and judge me for being crazy. Who is he to judge me. No one. Not until 3 days later do I figure out that when my shrink asks if I have anything I want to ask her, she means about her methods and goals with my therapy and is not fishing for compliments on being a Jew. That poor guy in the wheelchair probably thought I was judging him. I was staring with such a freakish gawk he probably didn't have to wonder if I was crazy at all, it was obvious.

Session 2


I only have about 53 minutes to talk, so I have to choose what is bothering me the most this week and try to get through that without getting sidetracked by something that happened in my childhood, my feelings about eating meat, or my friend's problems. I prioritize the best in therapy, mostly because I have no idea how much it is costing me or when my insurance company is going to put the kibosh on my sessions. Merry made a joke, telling me to tell my shrink about something she does to me to which I replied "I cannot afford to talk about you. I am still organizing my therapy topics and I have a lot of work to get done on my relationship with my mother in law not to mention my own parents". I am as cheap in a session as I am at a flea market.

If I do let the topic wander to a friend or Dan and the Doc says anything about anyone else, I quickly change the subject so as not to waste my 53 minutes helping others. I am a mother now. I don't get "me" time unless I am paying for it, so to me, these 53 minutes are sacred and I would sooner talk about the fact that I can't go into the reptile section of the zoo for fear that a snake might somehow escape from its cage, slither up my leg, enter my body through my vagina, and become my spine, controlling me like it's own snakey go cart making me do snakey things all over the rest of the zoo than talk about my friend's problems.

Session 3


Cancelled. Session 4 will be later this week.

Papa Don't Preach... I'm Keeping My Volvo

There was a point in my life where I thought I would never be able to afford a Volvo before I was 40. When I was looking to sell my last truck and in the market for something safer in which Cohen could be driven through the desert, I made the mistake of calling my friend Ryan, who told me that nothing safe exists for under $10,000. I panicked and he backpedaled by telling me he had heard good things about the Volvo wagon. They are cool, hip, safe, and reliable. We also had a friend that works on them. Dan agreed that this was a good way to go and we began shopping.

I immediately got my heart set on a white Volvo sedan that was out of our price range. After test driving it, realizing we couldn't afford it, and getting totally bummed out, I flipped through the Auto Trader once more and saw what would soon become our 1995 Emerald Green Volvo 850 Turbo wagon. The sellers seemed nice enough. They loved the car, wanted to keep it but were converting to bio-fuel. Needed a diesel wagon. Included with our purchase was a binder containing a receipt for every repair ever done to this car since the day it drove off the lot. The book was thick and it was hard to decide if this was helpful stroke of luck or if it an obvious omen.

The car was listed for $5300. Our budget was $5500. We drove the car and loved it, aside from a few aesthetic dings the car seemed to be in great shape. I asked the lowest price they would consider. The husband immediately drops the price to $4600, while Dan and I had already counted out $4800 to offer. We were so shocked and excited that the he dropped the price so much we forgot to continue bartering, didn't even think to ask why he would drop the price so low, and gave the man the money.

On the drive home we tried to put a tape in the cassette player and it would not play. It rained the next week and the driver side windshield wiper is warped so it would not clear the driver's view. Within a month, our friend that worked on Volvos moved back east to Maine. A month and a half later the brakes went out while I was pulling out of my parking space at the market. New brakes, front and back and a new brake line cost us $472. A month and a half after that the car began locking and unlocking itself whenever we drove over a bump. Then, last week, a shudder when braking at high speeds became noticeable. Had to have the rotors flipped, $80. While driving the Volvo this morning the locks were constantly locking and unlocking in rapid succession until the motors died one at a time, leaving only the driver's side lock click... clic...cli... dead. Manual locks. Fine by me.

At this point, I am happy that it cost so little to flip the rotors, I believe the mechanic when he tells me I have a good car, and feel that the manual locks are a gift because we got them for free. Dan, on the other hand, is officially over the Volvo. He sent me an ad for a Hyundai last week, to consider instead. I introduced myself as his wife and asked if we've ever met. I drive trucks. I conceded to a wagon because it was a Volvo. His counter argument is that while we could afford a Volvo, we cannot afford to maintain a Volvo. So here we are - do I sell while it is working condition, get out while I can, or drive it until I kill it again and then have to take less than half of what I paid for it because I am stuck selling a broken car? If you think I am going to choose the former, think back to when I found the booklet of repair receipts to be a helpful stroke of luck.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Friday, October 06, 2006

Let Go and Let Dan

With the hunt on for the perfect infant Halloween costume it has been hard to take the time to sit down and write about last weekend. Earlier this week I thought I had found the perfect Lion's costume for Cohen, but after washing it (as per the instructions!!) the mane dreaded and now we must find another costume. Still, we managed to get a few photos in...





Last weekend was our one year anniversary. As a gift to one another we rented a car and went to San Diego for a long weekend. It was Cohen's first long car ride, and I cannot sing her praise loudly enough. We left at 9 p.m. on Friday for fear of traveling with Cohen at all and she slept the entire drive. When we arrived at 3 a.m. she woke up, visited with my brother, Uncle Clarke, and then fell promptly back to sleep. Amazing.

In the morning, we secured a room at Motel 6 and headed into Encinitas for breakfast.



We ate at St. Germain's Cafe in Encinitas, where we got to experience the best coffee anywhere in North County. Afterwards, we headed down to the beach, where the sun was just cutting through the fog and poor Cohen, without sun block, was shoveled back into the car. That afternoon we went to Uncle Clarke's surf shop, Mitch's, in Solana Beach for some discount shopping. Cohen had just fallen asleep and I knew there was no way she would stay that way.

Lorraine is Mitch's sister, she runs my brother's shop, and there is no way to describe her voice outside of saying it is what a dolphin would sound like, had the dolphin inhaled helium and taken English lessons from a chipmunk. And this chipmunk goes to 11. As soon as we walk though the door Cohen hears Lorraine talking to a customer and her eyes shoot open, darting around the store trying to match this heavenly noise with it's source. This voice is sheer ecstasy for Cohen. Lorraine is the embodiment of all the cartoons and children's music Cohen has experienced up to this point in her little life. I hand Cohen over to Lorraine, and she spends the next hour trying to reach into Lorraine's throat to pull out that sugar coated squeak box this woman uses for a speaking voice.

The next morning we meet my hung over brother at Pipe's Cafe in Cardiff. Amazing. Cheap, delicious food with a great cup of coffee and fresh banana bread, crammed into a tiny shack where the food is served on paper plates and the seating is minimal. The girl at the register is a little surfer girl, complete with the Lori Petty scratch voice and super meth. energy without the nasty side effects you get from actually taking meth. to get that way. She wears turquoise eye shadow and is super excited to take our order. I cannot help but envy her natural high.

We got a table inside, and just as our food was served a bird flew into the restaurant and fluttered along the window behind Dan. This is not good. Immediately all I can imagine is this bird flying into Dan's head causing Dan to erupt in some arm flailing bird killing movement that will force me to hide under the table in embarrassment. Clarke senses our discomfort and offers to help. He gets up to try to open the window for the bird, but the window is already open and Clarke is actually closing it. Another guy standing in line comes over to help my brother. Meanwhile, the little surfer girl behind the counter is yelling, "Just catch it!, Just grab it! Just grab it! You can just grab it with your hands!". My brother replies, "I plan to eat my breakfast with these hands".

Dan is just staring straight ahead at me while all of this goes on behind him, and we are both just praying that this will not have to result in some queer twist of fate where Dan ends up strangling this bird to death, because if it had to come to that, that is exactly what Dan might do. Finally, surfer girl comes out from behind the counter, grabs the bird and tosses it outside leaving my brother and the other dude that stepped out of line to help, looking like a couple of pansies who were afraid of a tiny bird. Clarke sits down at the table and Dan says, "Thanks man. If I would have had to deal with that I probably would have ended up killing that bird and everybody in here would have been like, 'Thumbs down dude, not cool!'"

We took some great video of Cohen trying to steal avacado from my fork, and then trying eat through my cheek when she missed it, glaring angrily at the camera, and I am trying to download it from Verizon, a task that has proven obscenely difficult. That evening we went to St. Tropez Cafe for cake and coffee. We bought Cohen a hat. A bold hat that Dan picked out so that when Cohen looks back over her life she can see her father supplied most of the color, when her mother always wanted everything to match. Sometimes I just have to "Let Go and Let Dan".



We went to Moonlight beach as the sun was setting, and while Clarke and Dan refused to take off their shoes, I left my flip flops in the sand and walked into the tide with Cohen in her sling. The water was freezing and Cohen was mesmerized. I wanted her to have the experience of the ocean I remember from being a child. The beach is my God, huge, as dangerous as it is beautiful and filled with life and death. I held her facing the expansive sea, I sang softly in her ear and she drifted off to sleep in my arms. A true first. In two weeks, she will be 6 months old and I am in awe that I, in this tiny body of mine, can feel a love big enough to swallow the ocean in one easy gulp.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Aw Crikey

After talking to a few readers, despite my warning not to pity Dan, it seems you people cannot help but feel a little bad for the guy. After all, this is my forum. He can't even defend himself. And while he goes to work everyday so that I can stay home and raise our daughter what do I do? I go to my forum and make fun of him where he cannot defend himself. Is this admission of mine self deprecating enough for you? It's not enough, I know. You are not going to be happy until you know the root of my evil. I can hear your wilting voices saying... But this is Dan. He's amazing. He gets you through your depression, he says you look great when you're feeling fat, he considers veganism when you start reading aloud from animal cruelty brochures while he is trying to eat, he... is... perfect! I fear this is my own doing. You see while Dan is perfect for me, I would hate to think you believed I married the perfect man in the universal sense of the word.

It all started a few weeks ago when we went to look at some model homes in Queen Creek. We decided that we are at the point in our young married lives where it is time, not only to begin feeling badly that we do not own a home at our age, but to begin looking at homes we may or may not be able to afford pending the pre-qual. credit check we avoid with every bone in our respective bodies.

It was an exciting morning. It was exciting until I had to get dressed. I am at an awkward phase in my baby weight loss program. Here's how it goes. You go through your whole pregnancy buying up in size, in so much disbelief over your growing belly that you often overlook your growing ass and thighs. Then, when you have the baby you think you are going to slip right back into the clothes you wore at the beginning of your pregnancy, only to find that while your belly has deflated you still have the ass and thighs of a woman who is 9 months pregnant.

If you men thought you couldn't empathize with a woman's weight obsession pre-pregnancy, run for your lives postpartum. My daughter is 5 1/2 months old and I am just now fitting into the clothing I wore at 6 months pregnant. They are awkward at best, because they are all built to fit a huge belly. When there is no huge belly anymore, all you have left is a thick elastic band squeezing and segregating your postpartum tummy into the overflow above the waistband and the jellyroll hanging beneath it.

Men don't know. They just don't know any better. Any man who acts like he knows, doesn't. It's a fact. I dated one guy, one time, who knew what it was like and guess what? He was gay. Men don't know.

The reason I mention the weight loss is that when a woman's baby is only 5 months old, she has a strange mixed assortment of pregnancy and pre-pregnancy clothes to work with. I currently have 2 pairs of pants that fit properly. 2 other pairs of pants that I will wear if I have to. I have about 6 tops that vary in comfort. 2 that need to be ironed so they aren't worn much. Beneath all of this I wear nursing bras and old pregnancy undies, so forgive me if I am little sensitive about my wardrobe.

Like I said, we were on our way to Queen Creek and the morning was filled with promise. I wore my army green pants that fit perfectly, and was in such a good mood I ironed my beige shirt. If Dan had a voice in this blog he would correct me here by saying, "It was khaki".

We stopped to get breakfast on our way out of town and as we were leaving the restaurant Dan said something along the lines of being confident that we would have no problem finding a house with Steve Irwin in the car. Because I was dressed in all khaki. I was embarrassed to realize what I had done. How I had dressed. I told him he had to take me home so I could at least change my shirt. He refused. We were less that 5 blocks from the house and almost an hour away from Queen Creek and he refused to take me home to change, even after I threatened him with my silence the entire drive. It sounds funny now, but I was mad. And he didn't care. He laughed, said "Aw Crikey" when I spilled my coffee, and in an Australian accent, narrated my every move while I squeegeed the windshield when we stopped for gas. “It is all about perceived danger. In front of that winshield wiper she must remain in complete control. Absolute and complete control. That is her profession as the Crocodile Hunter" or some such crap. It was at this point that I swore my revenge. I threatened him with the wrath of my blog but he would not desist.

Dan doesn't fear the blog. I warn him constantly. The other day, he walked into the living room with a pillow in one hand and blanket in the other to announce to me that he was going out to take a nap in his van (parked in the driveway) and could I wake him in an hour. I told him then, "You know I will have to write about this" but his only response was, "Oh, and don't come a knockin' if the van is a rockin'".

Monday, September 25, 2006

Blanket Girl









Dan: Poop Charmer, Turd Tamer, Master of All Things Poo

We spent Saturday night at my mother in law's house. Cohen sleeps in a play pen in the guest room with us when we are there. We put her down to bed at 9 and by the time we came into bed at midnight she had rolled onto her stomach and was asleep flat on her face. Okay, not really flat, but her head was not fully turned to one side. I had to flip her over. I couldn't sleep like that. The first flip was successful, in that she did not wake and we got into the creaky bed and began to fall right to sleep. Then we hear... rustle, rustle, rustle... For the next hour Cohen did everything she could (in her sleep) to roll back over onto her stomach.

Dan suggests I get up and check on her. Dan suggests I get up and move the big box of diapers blocking our complete view of her. Dan protests he cannot get up to do these things because the dog is laying on his side of the bed and it would be too hard to get up. I get up. I go to move the diapers, but there is junk all over the floor from when I asked Dan to empty out the playpen so I could put her in it at 9 and he just threw everything over the side. I grab the box by the flaps and it creaks so loudly I freeze waiting for Cohen's cry. Nothing. A flip flop. A rustle. I get back into bed with a huge creak. Dan whispers, "Way to go ninja". She is awake, flipping, flopping, and non stop working on rolling back onto her stomach.

As we are both drifting off to sleep Dan suggests, "Why don't you just keep an eye on her". This elicits the kind of anger that comes when he suggests I feed our daughter in the bathroom of the restaurant or when I am holding the baby and sorting through groceries to cook dinner and he tells me he is going to go take a bath. I whisper-scream, "Do you mean that I should keep an eye on her while you close your eyes and go to sleep!!" He said he just meant it was hard for him to see her from his side of the bed - and right when I had him. Just when I could have ripped into that lame excuse, I ripped ass instead. Mid argument he looked at me like a helpless doe and asked, "Did you just fart?" I felt like the Grinch pre-change of heart, pleased with the gas I had worked so hard all night to conceal. Yes. "Yes I did, did you catch that?" With his shirt pulled up over his nose I left him in bed to go check on Cohen again. I flipped her back over. Dan spent the rest of the night facing the other direction, until he could not take the heat on his leg anymore and went to sleep on the couch. He took the baby with him and I got to sleep in.

I can tell at this point a few of you might be feeling sorry for Dan. Don't. He's had this blog coming for a few weeks now.

Last night, during a dinner party at my mother in law's house, while playing a game of pass the baby, I noticed she was wet and asked Dan to go change her. He complied. Moments later he screams. His mother runs into the room to find him dangling our baby upside down by her feet and covered in baby poop. Both of them covered in baby poop. The poopy diaper is laying open, poop side down on the bed in the guest room. Dan is gagging and acting as if acid has been poured directly into his eyes. I tell him to relax, it's only baby poop. He exclaims, "No. It's gross and it's poop and it's on me. No one should ever have to have poop on them, no matter what it comes from."

It's not entirely his fault. The guy is a poop charmer, a turd tamer, luring all things shit related into his direction with the slightest of efforts. I cannot tell you how many nights he has come home from work, tired, grouchy, and excited to see Coco. Within 15 minutes of being on her father's lap she explodes and fills her pants with poop. This happened nightly for at least two months. So, while I can see his disgust, what I wonder is how he got along pulling things out of our dog's butt for so long before we had this baby. Our dog Alby has had quite a few mystery poops, where whatever he ate won't come out without a fight. I have watched my husband wrestle miscellaneous objects from our Bulldog's ass more times than I have seen him empty a dishwasher or make a bed. Cohen just pooped. If you'll excuse me, it seems even when I write about her father his laxative like effects work their magic on our daughter.

This is Cohen "caught in the act" pooping on Dan today when he arrived home from work.





Monday, September 18, 2006

Motherhood Overcome

If depression is like a fog, postpartum depression is like a wet wool blanket stacked on your chest. It stifles the natural joy you manifest. Amidst all of the humor in my day to day life, and there is so much to laugh about, I am trapped beneath this blanket. This is not as dismal as it sounds. I know it is the wet wool blanket weighing me down. And while I cannot express my joy, experience my joy as I would like to, I feel it. I am aware of it and constantly working in it's favor.

I take this depression seriously. I take motherhood seriously. It never occurred to me, the shame that one of these undertakings would cast on the other. How self indulgent to be depressed, to fall apart. How good I had when I used to lose it before. I do think this way. But I do not mean to imply that it is a choice to be okay. While I would choose to be so, I am not okay. I am doing my part by getting help. I am reaching out because in order to be a good mother I have to ask for help.

I cannot talk about this here, yet. Finally, something she cannot share! I can say that I am seeing a shrink this week. I am changing my diet and working out regularly to contribute as much as I can to this body that houses this brain. I can say that I write this blog when I am the most alone so that at least one mommy who reads it might feel less alone in what she struggles with.

I fall apart and this wonderful husband (that couldn't load a dishwasher the way I like it if a gun were held to his head) stands right next to me, picks up the pieces and helps me reconstruct a wife and mother out of a pile of nerves smothered beneath this damp... wool... blanket... So for all the shit I give this man I want you guys to know I didn't marry someone who likes to keep house like I do, I waited for a man that would stay. That would lift up this blanket to see me beneath it and help me. And love me anyway. And say yes wife, you can handle today. You are a great mother. This is just a phase and you will triumph because there is no other option. While we cannot always heal ourselves it is always within us to seek out help. To call out. To say this is worth exposing myself to overcome. Motherhood overcome.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

1 Minute and 47 Seconds

Being your mother takes me aside, it is a whispered law, accepted by all. The science of our relationship is as undeniable as a craving. I crave you. It took me 6 weeks to get you off of my tit and out of my bed, then last week you were back. One hand on your father's cheek, the other on my breast. You were delighted. "Isn't this great fellas?" you implied, looking left, then right, then left, waiting for our agreeable reply. Just less than one hour ago I was hitting my head against the wall hoping between the rhythm and the osmosis of my exhaustion you would put yourself back to sleep in your little froggy pajamas from your uncle Jeff. Instead, you let me rock you. You rested your head on my shoulder and relented. You laid in your basinet and I covered you up and rubbed your belly. For 1 minute and 47 seconds I got to feel like your mother putting you to bed instead of a fuel station tanking you up.

We took a walk tonight, because mommy had a lot of stress. Because sometimes mommy wants to scream at you even though she knows that you are not whining to try to kill her with your newly discovered tonal daggers, rather you are listening to your new voice. A voice none of us knew two weeks ago. I am no fool. I have excelled at many jobs, do not doubt motherhood has been mine from the taking. So I gathered you up, and we left the house.

The house that holds the kitchen where your father tried to make instant mashed potatoes and instead used the rest of the margarine to make salt soup. The same kitchen that holds the microwave I finally got around to cleaning after making that bad bacon two weeks ago. That microwave that I cooked ham in tonight and once again reeks of pork. And we walked.

I propped you up in your stroller so you could see the neighborhood, and when I wanted to talk, out of awkwardness, out of some need to be your tour guide to life, I didn't. I shut it. I let life come to you. And me. I walked harder and faster and for the first time understood why our $300 stroller is worth every penny. I rolled you over curbs effortlessly. Train tracks, broken glass, and a tree branch fell quietly beneath our tread. I fumed. And released. I loved your father. He drives me crazy sometimes and all I can think about is watching him gray. Getting old with him, and knowing that I will contribute my fair share of his gray hairs is just another story I will tell you when you're older. Tonight, I walked you through our old neighborhood and missed nothing.

I put you to bed, made chicken salad for Daddy, and settled into the couch with a cup of Chamomile tea to watch the last episode of Grey's Anatomy on Netflix. I used to think this was the "real Lawton" time. When I got to just be myself. Then, the other day, I cut your thumb nail too short and you bled without a flinch. I put your thumb in my mouth and tasted iron. A few weeks ago you figured out that if you let out a scream bloody murder into dead air I come to you faster, and when you screamed I ran so fast when I arrived I couldn't remember having left your side in the first place. This is the real me. This is a chemistry I longed for and never understood. This is ownership, a commitment, the first promise I truly promise no matter what. And it is great Cohen, every tonal massacre, every co-sleeping night, the aching back the remaining 40 lbs., the 4 a.m. feeding you've given revival to... all of it. I love you frog face.

Friday, September 08, 2006

The Pettiness of Parenthood

As Dan and I acclimate to parenthood at a relatively equal pace, I cannot help but feel that our parenting style is neither permissive or authoritarian, rather a sophisticated game of hot potato. Originally it was attachment parenting that appealed to us the most, but over the past four and half months we have succumbed to a parenting technique even more our style. We barter, negotiate, trade off, trick, push, pinch, beg, and sneak away from the other in order to determine who will tackle what task. We call this the 5 stages of parenthood.

As soon as Dan and I are in a room together the game begins. If we come to your house, you are in the game. Anyone can play. Anyone we see fit is automatically counted in. Dan and I will play this game Saturday morning. Cohen will wake up between us and begin rolling back and forth with the ferocity of a fish out of water - swatting at our faces to see who will wake up first. Dan and I will take turns pretending to be in the deeper sleep, each of us nudging the baby towards our opponent while the other feigns sleep with their eyelids tightly shut. The first one to wake up and deal with the baby takes the lead, and from there may suggest that the other parent get the coffee started, request breakfast, and order any drink to quench the thirst brought about after a long night's sleep. At this point, the parent getting out of bed must huff to express enough anger at being the one that always gets up to rally the guilt of the parent staying in bed (note: No matter who is getting up, that person will complain that they always have to get up, despite however many times the two parents alternate). As the one parent prepares the coffee and the other plays with the baby a yelling match between bedroom and kitchen ensues.

Bedroom: Can you bring a diaper and a wipe back with you?

Kitchen: Where are the coffee filters?

Bedroom: Can you also grab the boogie sucker?

Kitchen: I can't tell if this milk is bad, do you want to smell it or should I just pour it in your cereal?

This is our pathetic attempt to draw our opponent into whatever room we are in, as we are forever desperate for one another's company. In the final stage we settle onto the couch swapping baby for coffee cup, hold her while I get a muffin, I forgot to put sugar in my coffee can you take her, pick her up the dog is coming, put her in her swing, if you get her from the swing I'll make more coffee, if I make breakfast will you do the dishes so I can feed her, do you want to feed her, can I just have her, take her, etc...etc...etc...until all of us are showered, dressed, and out the door on another adventure marked for the Team Jackson photo album. This weekend, house hunting in Queen Creek!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Oh Yoko

Being at home and inside most of my days, between the confinement of the heat and the convenience of staying at home and breastfeeding, I get to catch a lot of daytime programming. As a feminist (and of course by feminist I mean a woman who believes that women are people of equal stature to men, not just tits defined by their ability to either feed or be fondled) I have for a long time known that the media survives on it's ability to make me feel bad about myself. I have accepted that, made my peace with VOGUE magazine, and frequently enjoy a good picture flip through PEOPLE magazine despite my lack of riches and abundance of lbs. in the eyes of the media. However, I have recently fallen prey to an entirely new marketing strategy aimed at my self loathing. I am a new demographic. A dumber consumer for having bred, or so it seems in the eyes of some advertising teams.

I was watching a Febreeze commercial where a SAHM (stay at home mother) is spraying down her stinky teen's football padding when it occurs to her how much fun it would be to go spray his prepubescent stink out of the minivan. Then there is the heartburn medication commercial that shows a fat bastard eating a burrito while his hot size two wife and their good looking children rush to stop him. But, my all time favorite has to be the new Summer's Eve Commercial. A man is shown rifling through some dirty laundry in search of a pair of socks. He finds a sock, sniffs it, crinkles his nose at the stench, but still determines it is good for use and begin to put on the sock. His wife walks into the room and indignantly says, "What are you doing?" to which he replies, "Taking off that dirty sock!" Funny. Until I found out it was douche commercial.

I can tolerate mothers being made to look like they enjoy cleaning up after their ungrateful children and husbands, I can even believe that there are sexy women that fall in love with fat slovenly men, but when you compare my cootch to a dirty sock you have crossed a fucking line. "Hey stink cootch, when you're done perfuming that baby ejector you used to call a vagina, why don't you finish cleaning up the trail of junk your rotten kids have left throughout your house so that you'll have time to cook a three course meal for your fat bastard husband!"

So the man was going to put on a dirty sock... he doesn't know any better. The same way you think your pussy smells alright without injecting it full of chemicals... you just don't know any better.

So, to be clear, women can be trusted to birth, raise, and care for our children, marry and tend to our husbands, and let's not forget who keeps the dog alive, keep our homes in order and our families fed, but left to our own devices we are so lazy and disgusting that we would let our vaginas rot.

Perhaps it is this terrible case of "stink cootch" or "vagina rot" that has infected our brains to such a degree that we encourage these marketing tactics by buying these products.

Just this weekend I was at Wal-Mart looking for the best deal on diapers with my mother when she tried to sell me on a new brand of diapers called "White Cloud". She pointed out to me that the art work on the generic diapers was none other than John Lennon's art. I asked if I was to assume if John Lennon supported a brand that I should try it. My mother thought I should, and read aloud from the packaging that it was actually Yoko Ono who endorsed the diapers with John's art. Confident that Picasso could not redeem a leaky diaper with his finest works, I opened the package to compare a "White Cloud" diaper with a Huggies diaper from my diaper bag. Sure enough, the "White Cloud" diaper was thin, stiff, had less elasticity, and quite frankly the art was not John's best. "Oh Yoko"... I say, "Oh no Yoko"

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Four Months

Last Friday my period made a surprise cameo appearance after having taken a 1 year sabbatical. This sent me desperately seeking my "feminine" products, long since retired to the back of bathroom cupboards and hidden travel bags somewhere in my closet. By the time I found a tampon stash I was overwhelmed with the gore of menstruation. I had forgotten clotting, flow, ruined panties, and bled though gym shorts. It took me all of a day and a half to come to terms with what was once such a regular part of my life. The bleeding is back. In a way I welcomed it as a part of me finally returned. Then I feared it, would this effect my milk supply? My natural birth control? Then it just pissed me off. I thought one of the benefits to breastfeeding was that I got a good year off from my period ahead of me.

In all fairness, with Cohen teething, and chewing on my nipples like tit-jerky, I feel entitled to enjoy some of the extended perks of breastfeeding as I endure some of the lesser privileges that accompany the gift of mother's milk. Any why shouldn't I? Quite frankly it seems I have been on a bit of a losing streak for the last few weeks. My supply is still trying to catch up to my demand in more ways than milk production. Since finally surpassing the postpartum paranoia, my stress has manifested physically. I have endured multiple sore throats, a cyst, a cold sore, explosive diarrhea, thrush, and insomnia... not to mention what once was a sensitive part of my body is now on the receiving side of a tiny gummy vice that clamps, unclamps, and tugs at her own will.

Four months into the program, after all of the gift money and savings has been spent, Dan and I are truly experiencing what it is like to live in a one income household. We work very hard at making sure that we don't waste our time bickering over money, and we don't. We have always been respectful of the others spending habits, as neither of us care to repeat the arguments we overheard our parents having when we were children. While we have been successful in this area, that is not to say that we don't spend a good deal of our time bitching to each other about our plight. Like with breastfeeding, I can see how the decision to stay home at this point could seem optional to some. I could return to work this week and double our income. The same way I could put Cohen on formula and not have to worry about her depending on mashing my breasts into cud in order to eat. Both things I would never do, but also both options. Part of how Dan and I get through this time is by reminding ourselves that we have made this choice, and this choice is a privilege that we should be happy to afford, even if it means taping together a broken pair of sunglasses and mending a few shirts this season instead of buying new ones.

At only four months old Cohen has grown so much before my eyes. I am reminded of this every time someone new meets her, an old friend comes to dinner and asks us what she can do. We list a few asinine skills, get brief nods of interest and move on with the conversation. To someone who hasn't seen grasp after failing grasp until a week later when she finally grabs hold of a toy and, just like that, now she can reach for things, it's not as impressive. But I saw it happen. I was there. And it was priceless to witness. I was there to take her in for her four month shots last Friday, where they had the nerve to make my baby bleed her own blood.


Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Gentian Violet

Cohen and I have had thrush for 2 months. I stopped treatment weeks ago figuring if it got worse I would get gentian violet, but hoping it would clear on its own. I began feeding Cohen a bit of plain yogurt every night and it seemed to clear up her mouth. Thank god. I know gentian violet is messy and stains and I didn't want to walk around with a purple faced baby, more than less have to worry about the dye getting on my 4 pieces of clothing that fit and my furniture.

Over the past few days, despite there not being a dot of white in Coco's mouth, my nipples have been killing me. I have not been sure if this is due to the thrush or because Cohen's new hobby is chewing on my tits like an old redneck gnawing on some squirrel jerk. Earlier in the week I found gentian violet at a store and bought it just in case because it was on sale for the cheapest I had seen it. I mentioned to Dan that I might use it and he asked if there were any side effects. Just one. Mouth sores. That was a deal breaker for him. I pushed, stating that the sores disappear within 24 hours, they are very rare, and that my nipples were begging him to understand that they too are a part of team Jackson, and they need the team together on this one! No go. Just put it on yourself he says.

So tonight, when Old man Cohen finished chewing on my boob, I invite she and Dan into the bathroom to watch me put this stuff on. Wow. It is dark. It is everything I was afraid of. The q tip turns black in the bottle and I dab it onto each nipple sparingly. I sadle back up into my grubbiest nursing bra and trade off with Dan, taking Cohen to put her to bed. It occurs to me just then that I have won, as she will be nursing the purple goodness straight off of my boobs when she eats before going to bed. Go team nipples! Go team Jackson!

Feeding her tonight, watching her milked out face fall off of my nipple in a deep yummy sleep, I could not help but laugh at her stained lips. I put her to bed. I brushed my teeth. I peek at the nipple she had nursed from and all of the purple had been sucked off. Since I am the one in pain from the thrush I figured I should put more on before bed. Not wanting to get any onto the sheets I used even less than the first time, this time slipping out of my bra and hoping to just go to bed.

Unfortunately, while slipping out of my bra, I knocked over the entire bottle of gentian violet. Onto the carpet, my $40 bathmat, the cabinets, my feet and hands. Everywhere. I go online to read about how to remove it. Alcohol works if you use it immediately. I didn't. I had to go look up a cure on line and by the time I got back in there it was too late. I can't cope with this tonight beyond my acceptance. I sprayed spot remover onto the carpet where I spilled it, and the stain remover hit the gentian violet in the carpet and sent it flying as if it were being spilled again from each spot where it had previously landed.

Between this, the construction nails in the concrete that tore away a handful of drywall in the baby's room I can feel our rental deposit slowly slipping away.





Needless to say, Cohen has some concerns...

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Chicken and Rib Roots

It is shameful how long it has been since my last post. Aside from myspace sucking balls lately and preventing me from even posting a brief excuse for why I was not posting, I took on a project for one of the attorneys I used to work for and it has swallowed all of my free time. I was guaranteed a pretty hefty portion of what I billed and we are so much in need of the money I have had to commit to this project whole heartedly. Tonight, at 12 a.m. on the dime, I am finished with the billing. Cohen is asleep on the couch, my kitchen is clean, and I am drinking a beer that I hope I have the weight watchers points to cover.

Last night Dan and I decided it was worth going for broke and ordering a pizza and a six pack of Newcastle in order to avoid cooking. As the one that runs the books around here, my money maker looked to me, and I said no sweat, I'll cash in some of the change from our change jar tomorrow at the bank. It was worth it then. Today was a different story. It is a strange feeling counting out change so I can buy groceries while my daughter fusses in her vibrating chair and I cannot put her binky back in her mouth because my fingers are filthy from old dirty coins. It was funny to me that I was ever embarrassed to count change for cigarettes. This is way worse. And then again, it's not. The money thing seems to frustrate Dan more than me, and I am always trying to remind him that these experiences will keep us humble.

When we tell Cohen the stories of how we struggled to get what we have, she will learn to value a dollar. She will know her parents were self made and she will never fear poverty, or view it as a weakness, rather a hurdle to be avoided or (worst case scenario) overcome. As frustrating as it is for me to count coins, that is nothing in comparison to the fear that she will one day be taking credit for owning a BMW that her father and I have paid for.

I pride myself in being poor with style. We grew up poor, only my little brother, 5 years my junior, got to dress cool and have a new car. My father had taken new job after job until finally, when my little brother arrived at his high school years, he did so in a new truck and a pair of hundred dollar shoes. Back in my freshman year, I had to beg for a pair of twenty dollar Keds, only to settle for the five dollar knock offs.

I learned about second hand stores, shopping for sales with my mother, clearance racks, garage sales, and the flea market. I made my own clothes, cut the blue KEDS tag off of an old pair given to me by a friend who had many, and super glued the tags onto the back of my five dollar shoes. Then, as the glue faded and the tag peeled away, I would casually pull it off in front of my friends, saying something like, "Who cares about labels anyway, right guys?"

Almost 15 years later and I'm pulling the same stunt. I wait for the Wednesday supermarket ads to come in the mail, seeking out the cheapest meat for the upcoming two week pay period. Some weeks it is awesome - great cuts of pork chops for 99 cents a lb. This week, and last week, have been chicken legs and thighs - a cut of meat that has pushed me to never eat chicken from the bone again. Still I take great pride in making Dan guess how much I saved at the grocery store.

I went to Albertson's for their chicken and rib specials (12 drumsticks for $1.88, full size ribs for under $3.00). With Cohen in tow, I decided this would be a great day to try out the new shopping cart play seat my mother in law bought for the baby. The Infantino Delux Safari Activity Cart Cover (IDSACC). Here is someone else's baby modeling the IDSACC.



Now, looking at this picture it seems obvious that in order for a child to use this accessory she must be able to sit up on her own. There is no picture of this kid on the box.

So I spend 10 minutes in the parking lot, in 105 degree weather, trying to velcro this fucker onto the shopping cart while Cohen is sleeping soundly in her car seat in the air condition car. The amount of straps that must be slipped through the bars of the cart, twisted and adhered to one another are ridiculous. Still, I persevere. I hook it up, turn the car off, and wake Cohen, excited to share with her a new toy and a new shopping experience. I carry her into the store thinking I will fasten her in once we are safe within the air conditioned grocery store. Near the cantaloupes that, with their 18 cents a lb. goodness, helped lure me to this Albertson's in the first place, I begin trying to get Coco into this contraption.

Is there a belt, some sort of a strap? I had to strap the cover to the cart, but there is no strap to hold my kid into the cover? Fine. I drop her in, we share a smile of excitement, and them BAM! She falls over to the side and cracks her head on the side rail of the shopping cart leaving a red welt and a look of bewilderment on her sweet little face. I choose two cantaloupes, the largest I can find, and pin one on each side of her, so that she cannot fall to either side and begin making my way through produce. She alternates slumping over melons, chewing on the handle of the cart, as if my presumptuous use of this toy that is too mature for her has reverted her back to when she could not even hold up her head.
In the meat section I remove her from the IDSACC, remove the cantaloupes, and turn her on her side so that while laying dwon from left to right one arm is sticking out of the leg hole and her feet are hanging over the side of the cart while her head is wedged into the seat. She is grinning at me as if to say, "So, you're a mother huh? Do you even know what you're doing? Do you have any training whatsoever" I stack the cart full of chicken legs and ribs. I cannot leave her in the cart this way, people are laughing at me. I resign to carrying her and push my cart down the cereal aisle. Not until then do I notice the bum wheel on my cart. I will not be defeated. I take the cantaloupes and put them on the shelf with the Cheerios. I stack my meat on the cracker display at the end of the aisle. With baby in hand, I undo the Velcro safety latches and lay the IDSACC in the bottom half of the shopping cart, all flap unfolded. I lay Cohen in the cart, divide my meat and melons between the seat an the bottom wrack and proceed to the Mexican food section feeling like an accomplished mother. I will not be embarrassed. I will make anything function. I am mother... hear me roar!

But it wasn't me roaring through the refried beans and taco shells, it was the kid in the shopping cart behind me. I didn't know why he was crying and I couldn't have cared less. My breasts, on the other hand, knew just what that kid needed and my let down let me down in public for the first time. My milk came in to my left breast and I immediately leaked all the way through my shirt. At this point I figure, I gave it a good run, but I am just going to have to carry Cohen all the way to the register so that no one sees I have leaked.

I am comfortable with many parts of motherhood. I will breastfeed in public. I will wear clothing covered in spit up and drool. I will notice baby poop from a diaper I changed 2 hours ago on my finger while driving and wipe it on my jeans. I have conceded this much, but I have yet to make peace with leaking fluids from my body in public.

I find a baby blanket in the diaper bag, throw it over my shoulder and head to the check out. Everything else in Albertson's is too expensive for me anyway, I was only here for the meat sale, I remind myself. At the check out, I ask the cashier if she has any paper towels. She hands me the box, I remove one and thank her. She asks if I need anymore and as I stuff the paper towel into my shirt I tell her that one will do it. She asks if Cohen, who is now fed up and screaming, is crying because she is hungry. I tell her that it wasn't Cohen, evidently any kid can make my milk come in. She asks, "Is this your first?" To which I reply, "Yes." She says, "I can tell." Part of me wanted to find this offensive, but at this point everyone could tell. I realized there is no shame in this being my first. In doing the best that I can. In not being prepared for someone else's screeching four year old's magical ability to call my milk to arms. These years will pass so quickly, and while I may be naive about the inner working of many an evenflo and infantino product, I know for a fact that once this time goes, I will not get it back.

I am so proud of Dan, for getting up and getting out everyday. I cannot imagine how hard it is for him to walk away from the two of us in bed every morning. He makes what I do possible. I am proud of myself, for embracing what I fear, for staying home, for breastfeeding no matter how tired I get, for putting it to words and giving a voice to the part of motherhood that had no voice before I got here. I won't go so long without writing again. To make up for it...

Baby Mullet.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Diving for Cover

Having the internet, cable television, and a 13 week old baby as my only companions, all day every day, is getting the better of me. Not only do I possess more information about Fran Drescher than anyone person was meant to encounter (more than less retain) but I have taken to participating in my own myspace slapping matches. It started small, in group forums, escalated to emails and today my frustration manifested in a private parking lot outside my old office.

I was sitting in my car breastfeeding Cohen before going into my office to pick up a check for some consultant work when a woman in her late 40's pulled her car in front of mine and wagged her finger at me, pointed to my car and mouthed the word "NO!" as if I were not a grown woman sitting in my car, rather a puppy pissing on her rug. Half way through her craning that scrawny little neck of hers to make sure I could see her face while she said "NO!" she realized I was breastfeeding and her face flushed with disgust. That was it for her. Not only had I dared to take her covered parking space (who knew?) but I was breastfeeding in it! Ack. By the time I have put my breast away and taken down the shade I was using to shield my horrid act from passers by she is walking toward my window. I roll it down and she says, "You're in my parking space. This is mine!" No problem, I said, I will just move. On my way back out of the office I grabbed a candy bar, unwrapped it, and stuck the chocolate under the windshield wiper of her Lexus, licked the already melting chocolate off of my fingers, put Cohen in her car seat and drove off. I wouldn't have had to do that if it weren't for the nasty face made at the realization that I was breastfeeding.

It is hard enough living in this house with nothing but and infant and appliances from 9-5 everyday, which leaves me vying for Dan's attention along side the dog, as soon as he walks in the door, and even then we hardly get to talk. I have to work up the courage to feed my baby in public, to feed her what she is meant to be eating, the way she is meant to be fed. It is pathetic that I even have to worry about this part of motherhood, so I try not to. I am discreet, polite, and always aware of my surroundings, to ask for anything more is to ask for an assault on something you hold dear.

That being said... late last week Dan brought up the idea of having a gun in the house again. I agreed to think about it, taking my paranoia into thorough consideration. The out come was a tearful conversation with my husband in a coffee shop on our date night while his mother watched the baby, wherein I confided that we can't have a gun in the house right now because I can't be trusted. Many times in the past I have been convinced the only reason I made it through to morning was because no weapon was available with which to take my life. I haven't felt this much since the arrival of Dan and then Cohen, but my paranoia is such that me having a gun isn't the best idea. I am still locking the bedroom door at night, making the dog stay by my side as I walk from room to room if I am up at night alone, and periodically diving for cover if I hear a noise. I mentioned maybe seeing shrink, if I could find one that wasn't Christian. By that night I felt lighter, like just in revealing how bad it has gotten it wasn't so bad.

Still, I am writing back to the nut jobs on myspace, provoking them, and acting out in public. What's worse, is I am not so sure that I don't like some of these attributes more than meek traits I used to posses. Fuck it. I'm just bored.

The dead of summer is the dead of winter here. I cannot take Cohen outside for walks or just to get fresh air. Even driving from one air condition store to the next entails letting the car cool off so that I don't bake the baby's brain between errands. By now I have learned that this period of paranoia is no worse than the rash was, the crying jags, the pelvic cramps and the morning sickness. It is all just part of a package, paper torn from the gift floating about the room before it hits the ground. Winter will come. We will travel out of state. My baby grows and is cuddled and hugged and kissed to pieces in my air conditioned home.

She laughed yesterday. She laughed and Dan and I have inhaled and exhaled to a different beat ever since. My brain may be a spilled box of Skittles scattering on an open floor, but my heart is warm and beating and growing beyond what I could have ever imagined.

The Emphatic Parenthesis

A lesson in motherhood from a psycho. Here is some advice I recently received on myspace. Don't get me wrong, as soon as I figure out if this is a suggestion to masturbate or get stoned I am going to comply.

if you cant handle your postpartum why dont you load a cone and just laid back and enjoy................ yeah i have a kid and fare enough i can handle it in a nice smooth way as i dont have any problem at all........ (no blues nothing...... you know...........))))))))))))

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Rounding Up

Earlier this week I invited two of my cousins over for dinner and a movie. The new Sarah Silverman stand up, Jesus is Magic, had recently come out and I was so excited to share it with them. Cohen helped me prepare the meal by sitting in her Bumbo chair on the counter and alternated between sucking on green beans and taking jabs at her eyes with celery slivers. For the meal I thought it would be nice to pull out her high chair, which we have yet to use, and let her sit at the table with us. I left the tray off and pulled her up to the table between Dan and I. No sooner than everyone had been served Cohen began taking a ferocious poo at plate level. Luckily, these were my boy cousins, still in their early and more humble half of their twenties. We all proceeded to laugh, eat, and drink. And while abortion somehow did find its way into our conversation, I managed to keep my mouth shut about mine, and resigned to the old different strokes theory with which I am so often coming to terms.

At movie time, I attached Cohen to my breast and started the DVD. I don't know how many of you are familiar with the genius comedy that is Sarah Silverman, but it is no understatement to say that she could make a hooker in the Mission District blush. Everyone was rolling along with the first hour of the tape, but towards then end I noticed one of my cousins was not as enthused as the rest of us. When the movie was over he expressed disagreement with some of her selected subject matter. Again to each their own. I was a bit surprised, as I have always described this gentleman in particular as my most outspoken relative. He was the one that talked about masturbation openly in front of my mother after all! Only after watching the DVD did I put it together that outspoken does not always equal the most open minded. To be clear, I am not saying anything negative about my cousin, I am more open minded than I am outspoken and it could be said then that I do not always stand up for what is right, and that would be true. I don't. I am not judging him, the point is, I was surprised that he did not find all of it as amusing as I did. Bear with me cousin, you'll see why I had to lay you out like that.

So, this afternoon I am on the phone with my father and he asked how our dinner the other night had gone. I told him that all went well, but that one of my cousins didn't seem to enjoy the video as much as I had hoped. I explained that Sarah Silverman is an acquired taste, but that maybe my father would like her. I offer the tape. He asks me what about her is so offensive. I tell him that she does some jokes about the holocaust, and them give a brief synopsis of a joke she did about her grandmother's holocaust tattoo being personalized to say Bedazzled, or something of such a likeness. He not only does not laugh, but reprimands me and says that there is nothing funny about the holocaust. I said that obviously he shares my cousin's views and that maybe he shouldn't watch the tape. He goes on to say, "I think it's terrible to make light of the holocaust, you know, if it really happened." What?! If it really what?! I said, "What? What do you mean if it really happened?" To which he replied, "I'm just not sure that what they said happened really happened, I mean 6 million people is a lot of people." "Yes it is," I told him. He said, "I mean, maybe it was only 2 million and the jews have just rounded up over time, 6 million is so many, that's like an entire country."

Friday, June 23, 2006

Asleep at the Wheel

After a week and a half of wishing she would fall asleep anywhere outside of my arms, I find myself drinking coffee this morning, watching Cohen asleep in her swing, and using every muscle in my body, every ounce of my will, not to pick her up. I have forced myself into the office to use the time I have been praying for. This week was a heavy, as my father would say, and though Ive denied it since Monday, this week hit me like a fist and Ive been dragging since.

On Monday I had my 6 week gyno check up, which I was actually having done at 8 weeks because I missed my 6 week appointment. Not only did I weight 10lbs. more on the doctors scale then I have at home, but to top that off the doc told me I was completely healed, had no further restrictions, and could work out any way I wanted. I pretended to be excited but really I am still a bit afraid of my own body. I showed the good doc my stomach and asked about this flab, this flap of skin serving as the awning over my cesarean scar. I asked if this skin ever gets tight again, would the awning ever recede? He looked at me the way he used to look at me when I talked about my concerns regarding having Cohen vaginally, as if to say, I cannot be trouble to answer as this information will never apply to you.

Its hard to be just me again, to have no excuses for not caring what I look like anymore. Its hard to imagine loosing weight with a new plan, as my old plan consisted of getting broken up with and living off of cigarettes and coffee for six months. I had always hoped that my life would change, and now that it has I have to keep up with it, change too, engage myself in the process of becoming this person I imagine myself becoming but never seem to fantasize the process of how I become her. While working on this theory I drove through a Wendys, got a bacon cheeseburger and fries, parked in a shady spot and climbed into the back seat to eat my hamburger with Cohen. Fucking doctors scale, Ill show you

That afternoon Cohen had her two month check up, which meant she had 3 shots coming her way. Not to mention, I woke up that morning and realized she had either gotten into the cottage cheese while I was sleeping or she had thrush. How? How did my baby get thrush? I gave it to her, thats how.

I bought Lily Padz, the stripper pasties of motherhood, the plastic nursing pads that adhere to your breast only to create a breeding ground for candida albicans. In my selfish need to sleep braless I gave my daughter a yeast infection of the mouth, but the guilt was not a sufficient punishment, instead I am sharing in the infection. My nipples feel like someone is inserting straight pins into them every time she nurses. When she is not nursing it feels like a vice is being tightened on each tit, shooting a pain through my breast up to my armpit and through my shoulder. Let this be a lesson to me, this is what happens when I seek comfort in pasties.

While, in my opinion this worked out better than it does for other women who wear pasties (i.e. strippers who end up calling some seedy little pecker named Johnny, Daddy, while they snort coke off of his chest in his studio apartment and make wedding plans of one day being the lucky girl to marry their pimp thanks for making that dream seem possible Ice T). As of today, Cohen and I are sharing an anti fungal and recovering in slow motion.







Tuesday I took the baby and the dog to my mothers house for a visit. While downtown, on a friends suggestion, I bought Cohen her first exersaucer. Originally I thought she might have been too small for such a large toy, so I put her in one at the store and she flipped out! Ive never seen her get so excited for anything that didnt end with double Ds. I bought it and proceeded to take a millions pictures, hardly one came out because it was impossible for her to hold still. She is figuring out how to reach for things, which is not the same as touching anything she reaches for.



When we were getting ready to leave I loaded the saucer into the back of the wagon and put Alby up front with the air on to let the car cool. I went into get Cohen and mom mother helped me outside. I got the car all loaded up, opened up the back door and put Cohen in her seat. Between the time it took me to shut the back door and open my drivers side door Alby saw a cat in the neighbors yard and lunged at the passenger window. I yelled at him through the closed car and he settle down. I laughed for a second with my mother about his bad behavior and then went to get into the car and could not. I COULD NOT GET INTO THE CAR. When Alby jumped at the cat, he hit the passenger door lock, in a Volvo this locks all of the doors. So, not only am I destined to never loose my baby weight, not only did I give my daughter a yeast infection of the mouth, but I just let me dog lock my baby in my car, while it was running!

Immediately I am looking for something smash the windows with, all of the windows will need to smashed I am sure of it. Thank god my mother was there. She kept saying Calm down, well just call the fire department, as she walked around to the back to try the hatch door. I said, That wont work, it locks with all of the others, but for some reason it hadnt locked. My mother opened the hatch and I smashed my face into her chest and balled like 4 year old. The let down from that adrenaline was the most soul sucking horrible feeling I have ever felt in my life. I let my dog lock my baby in my running car. What the fuck? WHAT THE FUCK? Who am I? Who does this? I was devastated.

But, I will tell you who does this, all mothers. All parents. At one time or another, you fuck up. Its what makes you realize that the things you feared the most sometimes do happen, and they get resolved, and you go on. When I first had Cohen I had a dream that I locked her in the car accidentally, and it was 110 degrees outside, as it often is here, and I kept hitting the window with a rock and the window would not break. This dream horrified me. The truth is, you only have time to be horrified in your fears, not when what you fear comes to fruition.

We gain the weight, we give our children thrush, bang their heads into the wall, accidentally let them roll off of the couch before we realize they are old enough to roll, lock them in the running car with the dog, and so it easy to forget that we have the will to get back to our former selves via a new path. I have this kid on me in some way 98 percent of the time, its a miracle she has sustained so little injury.