Sunday, December 21, 2008

Safety First-ish

While Dan works on restoring his 1978 Jeep Wagoneer I find myself constantly faced with conversations that normally would not interest me in the slightest but because of his commitment level in this project I participate. Conversations about fuel pumps, cloth cleaning techniques, and the Jeep as the original family all terrain vehicle. So today Dan and I were looking at old Wagoneer ads and came across this one.
"Jeep" - Safety First-ish.

Funny that an ad campaign regarding safety features a woman driving her two small children through a snow storm while they stand on the front seat obviously not wearing seat belts. Dan chides me with, "Well, that's how safe the Jeep is."

Friday, December 19, 2008

Really Detailed Ultrasounds

Well, we got our final ultrasound today ( and loaded it into youtube to share!) to see what little Merrick has been up to in my belly. He is moving all the time despite my having heard that the bigger they get the less they can move around.

Reading the excerpt below from my weekly babycenter update gave us some idea of what to expect on the video,

It may be harder than ever to get comfortable enough to sleep well at night. If you can, take it easy through the day — this may be your last chance to do so for quite a while. Keep monitoring your baby's movements, too, and let your caregiver know immediately if you notice a decrease. Though his quarters are getting cozy, he should still be as active as before.

but I think you'll agree we didn't expect to see this... I kept telling Dan it feels like he's got nunchucks in there.

or this... seriously. This kid is amazing. I don't know who those other guys are but my ob/gyn assures me that everything is as it should be.

Fat Fat Belly

What better way to beg forgiveness for my lack of posting than to show you how fat I am. Below is my offical "9 months" pregnant photo. While it may seem that one photo is only one photo, when you are this large one photo is actually 30 photos that were taken, including breaks for crying at the sheer largeness of my body, extreme editing and lighting tricks, resolution manipulation, and the 20 minutes I spent wondering if it wouldn't just be easier to write 4 blogs than post another picture of myself.

Ok, perhaps that is being dramatic. While I did weight in at 238 lbs. yesterday at the doctor's office (I was 250 lbs. when I delivered Cohen) I don't feel so bad. I am 23 days away from D-Day. I can still walk. I am not covered from head to toe in a terrible rash. And we somehow managed to come up with enough money to make Christmas a go this year.

Happy Holidays - from the fat fat belly!

If I haven't told you yet that is what Cohen calls me now... fat fat belly, fat fat boobs. As in, "Can I have some more yogurt, fat fat belly fat fat boobs?"

"No, it's not time for me to go to bed, it's time for you to go to bed fat fat belly, fat fat boobs!"

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Letter to the Readers ... Again

So I have realized how hard it is to follow the blog through blogger. I mean, I am pretty active on line and I would not go to the trouble to jump through the hoops blogger expects you to pass through just to follow my blog.

If you will look out your blog window, to the top right you will see a new gadget on my page - entitled - Subscribe... Your Way. This will allow you to be alerted of new posts via your email, the browser of your choice, or, if overlooked, not at all. But that would be foolish.

Let me know if this makes it any easier for you.

Happy Holidays.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Decorating In Pieces

This was the first year Cohen knew enough that I had to really up her level of participation in decorating the tree. I just wanted to share a few pictures of the tree and some of our favorite ornaments that were taken during the process. May the broken Wiener Dog Ornament rest in peace (until we find his leg in the kitchen where he hit the tile and glue him back together again).

This is Cohen's work. She worked on the lower level alone.

You might also be inclined to inquire about the three ornaments on one branch. When I asked her to separate them she told me that the "hot dish" was the cow's food and the barn was her house. "She needs those things near her to live mom."

This Wiener Dog Ornament lived in the nativity manger along with a couple of "puppies in my pocket" and a plastic dog on a motorcycle for about three days before the accident. He lost his leg during a fried chicken dinner in one of Cohen's many attempts to divert my attention while she tossed pieces of food back into the serving dishes from which they came.

Wiener Dog Ornament is survived by Beagle Dog Ornament who is in hiding on the North East Upper side of the tree.

This is one of my favorite ornaments on the tree.

This is my other favorite.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Conversation in Marriage #1

While Christmas shopping on the etsy website tonight I came across the My Love for my Vagina Scarf Keeps Me Warm. The following conversation ensued...

Lawton: Oh my god - we should totally get this scarf for my brother for Christmas.

Dan: Are you kidding me? Who makes that?

Lawton: Vulva Love.

Dan: Who would even wear that?

Lawton: Come on Dan, Ani Difranco plays shows in the winter too.

On Soft Sand and Mud

While facing my family in the context of this blog usually entails looking forward today my head is in a different place. Instead of closing my eyes last night to go to sleep and seeing my future with my children and Dan as I always do - I was looking back, reviewing my past.

Watching some of my closest friends go through the initiation into parenthood as they await their first born I see them taking the exact same steps I had when I was awaiting Cohen. The process is so common that when I visualize it I imagine parents-to-be waiting in line for a turn to waltz on this grand Harlequin dance floor where the foot prints are laid down in a pattern to guide them through the motions.

After the dance, parents glide off of the dance floor onto the opposite side of the room, a spot from which - from here on out - everything looks different.

With my first pregnancy I glorified my parents. I humanized mistakes that I had been holding against them thru my twenties and then praised myself for how big I was for being capable of forgiveness. Parenthood was obviously going to bring out the best in me. Pregnancy and the preparation for becoming a first time parent allowed me to see that while they may have sometimes failed, my parents had tried their best. And when entering an endeavor such as parenthood a young couple needs to believe nothing more than that our best will simply be good enough.

Not long after my daughter was born Dan and I were at my parents house and my mother was holding Cohen at less than one month old. My mother's lips and teeth were stained like those of a child who had taken great pleasure in drawing out his consumption of a purple sucker. Only she had consumed two bottles of red wine. I remember sitting across the room watching the way Cohen teetered in her lap. I sat torn in two - one half the maternal instinct that wanted to snatch Cohen from my mother's arms in a protective swoop - the other half of me paralyzed as the child who grew up watching her parents drink and was never able to find a single word that could combat their addiction.

This feeling of conflict turned out to be a much more accurate indication of how parenthood was about to play out for me.

I looked back onto the metaphorical dance floor, traced my steps, and stood frozen and confused as to how a path I thought I saw myself walk so clearly had taken me somewhere I never wanted to go. Parenthood forced me to confront a lot of things in my own childhood that before having a child of my own I would have just as soon never revisited. It turns out that my parents' best hadn't been good enough. This was a two fold problem.

First, throughout my pregnancy I had convinced myself that despite their flaws I could still emulate my parents and raise a child that would turn out at least as good as I have, and I felt pretty good about who I was at that time.

As a mother I realized that I turned out the way I have because of many factors in my life beyond the way I was parented and that who I am is fundamentally opposed to much of how I was brought up. This left me with no one to emulate, and the thought of flying solo as parent terrified me.

Secondly, my parents had not changed. They are the same people now as grandparents that they were when they were my parents. The only difference is that my children have a filter - me. I never had that. I saw everything. Still, it has taken me a few years to master the balance between being a protective mother and a scared kid simultaneously facing her parent's addictions and seeking their approval.

Could it be that we never truly see our parents as people until we are parents? Or do we realize upon our own entry into parenthood how little room for certain types of error there is - and it becomes clear that some of us had parents that did not share our awareness of the size of that margin for error?

Cohen adores her grandparents. She sees them on a weekly basis. Life goes on despite addiction. Life smooths over rocky pasts, despite the initial impact of strikes and blows scars form the bridges between before and after so that families can continue to move forward - which I have always felt is a family's only hope.

My mother drinks on and off, and denies being an alcoholic. My father is a shadow of the man I used to know and I spend a fair amount of time trying to figure how much of that is due to his illness and how much is do to his pain pill addiction. But my mother mostly hides her drinking and will refrain when Cohen is with her. My father is too far gone to take anyone else into consideration when seeking out his pain medication. While I have not seen the real him in almost a year at the least, Cohen will have never known the real him. She knows him now, knows what little I let her see. they have a petri dish relationship that I monitor closely.

Weeks away from having our second child I fly solo with confidence these days. I have Dan, and I am lucky to have found a partner so equally involved with his love for our children. For me family redefines itself with each addition. That is the gift of looking forward instead of back. It gets better with time. As a mother I can build on the foundation of my choosing, rather than the girl I used to be who spent her time trying to construct a castle on soft sand and mud. Recognize the power in that and flying solo will be a breeze.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Merry Christmas to All... and to All a Dog Fight!

In this "dog eat dog" economy I know many of us are looking for ways to pick up some extra cash before the holidays. While an 8 1/2 months pregnant woman can't turn to selling her body on the street (not that the demand doesn't exist, I'm just exhausted) I instead decided to hold dog fights in my kitchen.
I know. The horror. But don't tell me you didn't see this coming from the woman who doesn't even clean her daughter's wound when she's bitten by a strange animal. We all knew this was coming.
One of my favorite things about Alby is his love of being photographed. The idea for my dog fight rink began after I agreed to let Cohen stir the batter to our red velvet Christmas cupcakes if she promised not to lick the spoon. The following photo was taken after this brief discourse.

Me: Did you lick the spoon?

Coco: No.

Me: Are you sure?

Coco: No. I didn't.

The rest of the batter I split between she and Alby while I finished the cupcakes. Enjoy...

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Cat Bite + Dumb Mommy = Urgent Care

Last week I sold a small kitchen table and chairs that I have had for years and our family has just outgrown. I used Craigslist to sell the set and when the woman came to get the table we began chatting about our two year olds. She had shown up in a Geo Prism to pick up this solid oak table set and when I told her I did not think it would fit she offered that she might come back later with her Accord. I told her if she could give me time to get ready I could follow her to her house with the set in my van.

At her house she invited us in and we ended up spending the day. Had I known her it would have been a normal and lovely day. The only weird thing about it was that I did not know her at all. She was very hospitable to Cohen and let her play with all of her son's toys, but her son was in daycare and did not come home the entire time we were there.

Dan thinks this is just the kind of weird shit I do. Going to a stranger's house with our daughter and spending the day. The first time I tried to leave I told my new friend that Friday was my special day with Cohen to go out to lunch. Before I could name a restaurant she had offered Cohen chicken nuggets, banana, pudding, juice, and an apple. It was my intention to say that I didn't want her to go to any trouble but then she pulled out a spiral cut ham and asked if I was hungry.

Ladies please... you show me a pregnant woman that can turn her back on a spiral cut ham and I will vow to never form another relationship based on a sale made on Craigslist.

So I ate ham and pears and pretzels while discussing everything from the current state of the mortgage market to postpartum depression with my new friend. Her husband came home, gave me the polite greeting on par with what Dan would give a strange woman he came home and caught me feeding ham to.

During all this time at this woman's house Cohen ran from room to room after her cats. At times I watched the cats let her pet them and at others I watched them run for their lives. It never occurred to me that I had to worry about a cat hurting my daughter because all the cats I have ever known cannot ever be caught. Not by adults with open cans of Tuna more than less a toddler with a rock and a stick in hand.

When the cat did finally bite Cohen it was on the couch next to his owner sleeping. Cohen was being abnormally gentle petting him while he slept. Then he just turned and bit her. She did not cry. She just looked a little stunned and I asked if she was OK. Our hostess said the cat did get her and offered to kiss it for Cohen. She received the kiss on her hand where the bite was and went back to playing. I went back to visiting.

Later that evening, in the urgent care with the attending physician it is the above that we would backtrack to in order to determine that I am a bad mother.

We left my new pal's house around 3 p.m. At 9 p.m. while Cohen was playing at the book store I noticed the tiny puncture mark on her hand was raised like a bug bite and slightly yellow. Looked like it had puss in it and was red around the edges. I remembered something about my grandmother getting bitten by a cat and almost dying. I begin to wonder if I have overlooked something important.

After a few phone calls to my mother, my aunt, my triage nurse and Dan it is decided that Cohen has to go to the Urgent Care because I am an idiot.

Dan had gone out with some friends to have a few drinks. He never responds well to Cohen needing medical care as it is, so imagine what a buzz kill it was to have to tell him that not only did I take our daughter to a stranger's house where she was bitten by a strange cat but that because I also failed to wash the wound when it happened we now have to go to Urgent care because of the rate of infection common with cat bites.

By 10:15 p.m. I have Cohen and Dan in the car on the way to the urgent care. By 10:30 p.m. I am lost, driving in and out of shopping center's looking for the doctor's office when Dan asks me to pull over so he can throw up due to the combination of what he drank and my shoddy driving. I pull into a parking lot and blast Christmas music so Cohen can't hear him throwing up.

Picture this: 10:30 p.m. a minivan pulled over by a fast food joint windows down blasting Christmas music while the dad vomits and the kid in the back screams, "Why is he throwing up? What is Daddy doing?"

As we are pulling out of the parking lot there is a police officer from the town where Dan used to work sitting in his car. Dan slinks down into his seat and asks me to please just get out of this parking lot. I am still totally lost and prioritizing finding Cohen's doctor above Dan's pride. So I pull in front of the cop and accidentally drive up onto the curb a little. Quickly he pulls out right behind me. I turn immediately into the next shopping center and the cop breezes past me. Dan considers forgiving me as we are pretty even as far as feeling like shitty parents go. I may have let her get bitten by a strange animal, but he just puked on the way to the urgent care.

There was no wait and we saw the doctor immediately. He asked me what time the bite occurred and I said it was around 1 p.m. He asked if I had cleaned the wound with antibacterial soap when it happened and I told him I had not. He judged. He told me that when my child is bitten by a strange animal I should always wash it right a way. I tried to explain that she did not even cry but it was obvious that I was an idiot and it would be left at that. He tells me again, firmly that when my child is bitten by a strange animal I should always wash it right a way.

He said she needed antibiotics for the next ten days and I informed him that she is allergic to penicillin. He glares at me again, as if this allergy is somehow also borne of my negligence as a mother and tells me that the penicillin medicine is the best to stave off infection. I state again that she is allergic and cannot have it at all, not even in a mixture. He tells me (filled with disappointment) that he will prescribe the medicine without penicillin but that it will not work as well and will take longer and then he leaves.

All I can do at this point is thank God that Dan barfed within the hour and that the barf incident has rendered him humble and without the energy to take anyone's side but mine. Incidentally, Cohen is fine, her cat bite is minor, and no longer filled with poisonous cat puss.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Christmas Hocking

GE Profile Built-In Dishwasher Black - $250

Reply to: [?]
Date: 2008-12-03, 11:29AM MST

GE Profile Built-In Dishwasher with PermaTuf Tall Tub and SmartDispense Technology - Black

Variable cycles PermaTuf Tub and Door Liner SmartDispense technology 3 digit LED display countdown Giant tub Rinse aid dispenser with indicator and adjustment

Sells for $879 in stores NEW

We are selling ours for $250. Like New Condition. Photo on Left.

Need to sell because we got a new dishwasher

Photo on Right

- the Labrador 3000.

Email with any offers or questions. And no, there was never a dog in the dishwasher we are selling. You will just have to trust us.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Her First Phone Call May Be Her Last

In my family the holidays are much like a needed trip to the dentist. You look forward to going, eager for the end result, but when you arrive and the drilling starts you begin to wonder why you ever came at all. In the end you are better for having gone, but sore none the less.

Dan's mother was out visiting my brother in law this Thanksgiving, but she agreed to let me use her house to host Thanksgiving. By "agreed" I mean that she asked to host Christmas this year (a tradition we have always done at my house) and I stipulated that if I could use her house for Thanksgiving she could have Christmas dinner. After watching my guests get to just walk out the door this Thanksgiving I cannot remember why I ever compete to host any of these events. While it may sound like I won the battle in getting to use her house, she won the war in getting me to pick up her sister and keep her with us for the holiday.

The morning after Thanksgiving my mother and I were cleaning and packing up/dividing the leftovers for guests while Dan's Aunt watched without lifting a finger. Instead of participating in any of the work she shared a story.

She told me how she had recently had a phone conversation with her daughter (who lives back east) where Dan's Aunt explained to her that it is very difficult for her to date because all of the men out here are Mexican. She was shocked that her daughter found this comment to be racist.

I told her that maybe her daughter didn't understand that she meant that many Mexican men just come from a male dominated culture and you did not want to be with a dominant man?? A stretch, I know. She quickly corrected me.

A: No, it's because they do drugs.

L: Now that is racist, not all Mexicans do drugs.

A: And they steal, they do drugs and they steal.

L: OK, that is totally racist. If you are aware of a group of Mexican men that do drugs and steal it is more likely that they do these things because they are from an impoverished area or a position of disadvantage rather than doing such things due to their race.

A: Well, that may be, but one thing I know for sure about Mexican men... they tend to kill their women and bury their bodies in the desert.


A: It's true. I read it on the news.

L: Not all Mexican men kill their women and bury them in the dessert!

A: I'm just saying if I ever date a Mexican man the first phone call I am going to make is to my family to tell them good-bye, and to let them know to look for me in the dessert if I don't call again.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Thanksgiving Morning

Dan snuck out back and got these shots of Cohen and Alby Thanksgiving morning before all the chaos of the holiday. Posting to come soon...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Burn Belly...Burn

I have never been renowned for my judgment - I can admit that. I had hoped and feared alike that is was a genetic flaw, but I could only look back at my parents for confirmation. Until now.

This weekend Cohen was with her Grammy having pictures taken for the holiday while Dan and I enjoyed some much needed personal time. We rented a few goofy movies, drove all over town in search of the cheeseburger I was craving, and settled into the couch to watch "Get Smart". Ironic. I had just boiled the water for a cup of Chamomille Tea when we decided to let the puppy in the house because this is something we never do when Cohen is home.

Mostly he is banished to the kitchen, kennel, or backyard because he is a 75 lb. spaz, but we let our emotion get the best of us and thought we would give him the benefit of the doubt. I let him on the couch. Lifted my tea to cool it. He jumped. I spilled the tea down my side. Screamed. Ran to the bathroom and peeled myself out of my clothes.

Because of where the burn was I had to get everything off but my bra, which meant there was no way I was letting Dan into the bathroom to see me. This has not been discussed much this pregnancy, but I am 8 months pregnant - and even though I no longer have any desire for sex at this point in my pregnancy I do still value the idea of Dan finding me attractive. Were he to really look at the Freddy Krueger-esque stretch marks at their full expansion down my belly he might not ever shake the image. And even I haven't seen my ass in 5 months, I certainly don't need anyone else back there making a reality out of what I pretend isn't happening to my butt and thighs.

While my lady friends might understand where I am coming from, you must also imagine what it was like for Dan standing outside the door listening to me gasping and crying and not knowing what had happened yet. Finally I relented and let him help me. I asked him to look up treatment for a 2nd degree burn, as the top layer of skin on a half dollar sized portion on my stomach had bubbles and disappeared. He did his research and went to the pharmacy to buy me gauze and medical tape. The tape was the cheap stuff, and as you can see from the photo we had to use some Dora band-aids. Damn that little Explorer, she saved the day again.

The next day I woke up feeling better and the burn is not as bad as I thought it was going to be. Still, it was such a stupid thing to do to let the dog up when I was drinking hot tea. All I could imagine was what if Cohen had been home. Had been seated where she always is - tucked under my arm. What if I had spilled the tea on her? But I didn't. And I wouldn' t have let the dog in had she been home. So, Dan convinced me to just feel the pain of the burn and not the pain of the potential for something that never happened and never would have happened.

The Bandage Job We Did That Night
So Dramatic.

The Remaining Small but Painful Burns
Less Dramatic.
(Dan says this looks like someone's butt but with Herpes)

And finally, the testiment to my poor judgment being genetic. As I said in the beginning of the blog, until today I could only look back for reasons why I am the way I am. But this morning Cohen dressed herself for the first time and I can see so clearly that poor decision making is as natural to us as brown hair and goofy feet. All we can do now is guide her and rely on Dan for our first aid care, internet research and let's face it... raising her bail.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Good Evening to you. If you are reading this now you have either wandered back to the site of your own volition or you are one of the many friends who at some point trusted me with your email address, myspace friendship, or facebook wall time and you are responding to the soliciting email I sent scavenging for readers.

Any or either way I am looking for a commitment.

I am experimenting with a few new facets of blogging and by becoming a "dooby and the beaner" and signing up to follow my blog you could really help. For example, you could help me come up with something to call loyal readers that is less degrading than "follower" and perhaps more P.C. than "Dooby and the Beaners". Leave your suggestions in the comment box.

To follow my blog just go to the top right of the page where others following have their photos and click on FOLLOW THIS BLOG. Blogger will guide you through the rest.

I am looking to expand the blog, but I find with no specific knowledge of my readers I am not sure which direction to take things. I am looking forward to adding merchandise and local recommendations but what would you like to see? What more do you want from me?

I'd value any input you can spare. Except you Swanny. You keep your pie hole shut and just sign up as a follower until you're out of the dog house with me.

Sincerely at best,

L Boogie

L Boogie and Crew

Friday, November 21, 2008

I Don't Think You're Ready for This Jelly

I know you guys are just dying to see my huge fat belly - blame Dan for the lack of photos. He keeps taking photos from upward unflattering angles. For now this is what I have. These are from the second trimester, which I have passed. Squint your eyes until I seems wider and less happy and that is what I look like now.

Ok, here's a terrible photo from a few weeks ago. I decided to post it, but I censored the double chin. This is me at about 7 1/2 months...

The Worst Day of Their Lives

Being 7 weeks away from the end of my own pregnancy I find myself looking back at those around me just beginning their journeys into parenthood. My brother in law and his wife are 15 weeks along. One of my best friends, Ryan and his wife are a mere 8 weeks in.

At this point I feel it makes me more valuable as a person to know that it is better to say nothing at this juncture of my discomfort than to try to tell them anything. I do already know that my child has brought out more good in me than I could have ever mustered on my own before her. I remember the fears in utero, and how silly they seem now.

In conversations about adapting to a child opposite our own gender Ryan and I recently discussed the pitfalls of diaper changing and the fears of teen years. I tried to reassure him. I shared Ryan's fear with Dan. Dan, in turn shared this video with me.

Ryan, this one's for you buddy - may circumcision be the least of your problems...

The Worst Day Of Their Lives - Watch more Free Videos

Friday, October 31, 2008

Dead Chicken

We decided Coco should try on last year's Chicken costume to see if it still fit. She was really into it and posed for a few pictures. When I told her we should take it off and reminded her that she was going to be a dinosaur this year she replied, "Yeah, this is dead!" I asked her what dead was to which she replied, "Dead is like the frog in the road that you didn't know was there."

Will I never live this down?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Mirror Mirror on the Wall

I have always enjoyed looking in mirrors. When I was younger I was amazed at every movement I executed. As a dance student I learned in front of a huge mirror. I learned to watch for every flaw, to gain confidence from every successful stride. I learned the joy and surprise that was possible when my body would finally accomplish something for which I had been striving and failing, striving and failing.

I have used mirrors to judge myself. Like a guilty pleasure, a year after Cohen’s birth I stripped down to nothing to shame myself into a metamorphosis. Surely this would make me change my habits. Make me put down that bag of BBQ Lays and finally do away with that frozen stash of Kit Kats in the freezer. But a metamorphosis had already taken place. I found that I was that caterpillar to butterfly story rarely told. The one where the whole amazing process takes place and the fucking bug takes it for granted because her wings didn’t turn out to be the color or shape she had expected.

I took pictures of my flabby self that day in the mirror, hoping the flash might wake the self loathing upon which I have relied faithfully as the voice that gets me to eat better, go the gym… you know lose more weight so I can finally be a better person. But the flash had no effect. No matter how I tried when I looked in the mirror, when I flipped through the photos, I could not see that terrible obese woman which I have always had the power to hate into a smaller size. I could not, on that day, hate every dimple, sag, every bulge where a curve used to be. I could only see a good mother. I could finally see a good mother.

Before having carried and birthed and nursed Cohen my body had been a tool, only good for the task it performed, never good just in and of itself. My body had gotten me things that I wanted, and brought to me attention; some as I craved it and some I wish I had never received. This vessel showed me many pleasures before becoming a mother, but it never could retain the value of its actions until Cohen.

On that day when I tried to belittle myself once again I could see nothing that needed changing. The inability to need to change completely disarmed my hatred. It is not that I one day looked at my postpartum body and accepted it as beautiful. It is more like looking at the face of your baby the second he or she is born, when his or her face is still smashed in and covered with curd and blood. The nose is huge and flat, the eyes are swollen and too far apart, and this is your baby. This is what it was all about, and what your life will be about from here on. No matter what you see that day you know the work that it took to get that way. You know that eventually the swelling will go down and nose will pop out. I knew that my body would get into better shape over time, and it did. At that moment I also knew it was not the most important thing. I had better things to do than hate myself for the time being. That was a true first.

Now that Cohen is 2 ½, I find myself before another mirror, faced with a new type of self loathing. My child can stand before me at only 3 feet tall and in her I can see my every flaw reflected.

This began with her repeat story telling. Every time I get her out of the car she asks me if I remember that time I hit her with the door. I do not, and denied the action for the first week, but then it occurred to me that maybe she meant last year when I accidentally shut the back door of the old car while she was still under it and bonked her in the head. Foolishly I offer this information in the hopes of connection. “No, not that time,” she states. Now, every trip to Target, to Walgreens, to Grandmas, to pick out a pumpkin… every time she steps out of the van it goes like this…

Cohen: Remember that time you shut the door on me?

Me: No.

Cohen: Remember that time you shut me in my room? Remember when you spanked me? Remember that time you ran over that frog? Don’t run over any cats OK mommy?! Don’t run over any bunnies OK mommy?! Don’t run over any ponies OK MOMMY?!

At first, I was more impressed with her language and imagination than I was concerned with my parental abilities. But two weeks later I began to again feel like the naked flawed lady standing in front a mirror. Is this what she thinks of me? All she thinks about? How much do I yell?

Too much.

I know that I am currently still in the throws of prozac withdrawal. I know that I am stressed out beyond belief due to this economy, my personal finances, and my inability to find work. I know that I am angry for all of these reasons and yet I will not yell at my banker. I do not tell my doctor that she can go to time out if she tells me my pap came back abnormal. I do not swat my former employer on the butt and send her away crying because she doesn’t have work for me. I’m lower than a dog kicker… I take it out on my toddler.

This poor kid who just thinks that everything I do is interesting. I wish I had the time to be so interesting, the ability to stop and giggle. There is a shortage of tolerance in the air these days, and the part that hits and sticks is that I am doing my best. I am functioning at my maximum. I stop every chance I get, I laugh through the frustration, I wake up when I am exhausted, I manage to crack open a “My Little Pony” Book nightly and take a bath with Cohen once a week, but it still hurts. It is hard to look into her little face and see such curiosity regarding my state of mind. I remember looking at my father and mother and wondering what could possibly be so bad. Tom and Jerry was on. We had juice. The dog was being good. What could have been their problem?

At this point in parenting I realize that my self loathing was not extinct, rather it had been hibernating. I transitioned from facing mirrors to facing myself in the reflection of my daughter.

This reaches beyond her recapping my flawed behaviors for me. Now I see my self hatred as I watch her disobey the teacher in her gymnastics class. She refuses to sit in the circle with the other kids. She insists on being in the center. She is entitled. It is no question where that came from. And if I hate that in myself how do I deal with it in her? I cringe. I fold in on myself until I realize I am sitting in a ball outside of her gymnastics class feeling tense and isolated because my kid is being…a kid.

As it turns out I am alright. I sat in the center of the circle, and that led to me getting alot of things in life that would not have otherwise been handed to me. Here again, without knowing, she forced me to look at myself with less judgment and more humanity.

I am 31 years old now, and I still spend my time in front of mirrors, trying to correct mistakes and emulate successes. Trying to teach the toddler at my side how to look with less judgment at us both, and hoping I can learn that lesson in time.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Look...I Pooped

While many parents in the throws of potty training know that sinking feeling I get when my daughter says, “I pooped” and we are nowhere near a bathroom, so may you recognize the slight yet significant difference inferred when she says “Look, I pooped”. Look means the poop is not in the diaper, instead the poop is somewhere outside of the diaper. Somewhere to be found. She is suggesting I find it. This afternoon that place was under the covers of my bed. Up and down my pant leg.

I had lay down with her to try to get her to take a much-needed nap after having spent the morning at a friend’s birthday party at the zoo. She was so overtired by the time that we got into my bed that she was being a sleep terrorist. I was tired too and she took me hostage. Poked my eyes when they closed out of exhaustion. Picked at the dry skin on my bottom lip. Talked and talked and talked. But she was no match for “pregnancy tired” and I fell asleep. Until she said the magic words, ”Look…I pooped”. I sat straight up and asked where. Not because she had ever actually removed turds from her pants as she did this afternoon, but because I have only her heard preface “I pooped” with "look" the two times in her life I forgot to put a diaper back on her after a change and she dropped a loose log somewhere in the house. These times she had come to me as if to say “Hey buddy, something fell out of my butt back there and I am not 100% sure what’s going on but I don’t want to get blamed if the dog eats it before you find it so let’s go”.

This afternoon when she said, “Look, I pooped” it was in the same exact tone she uses to say, “Look, I baked you a cake” before she hands me a pretend chocolate cake from behind her back. She does this when I put her in time out in her room for something. She thinks if she can distract me with cake (which, let’s face it, is a fair assumption) when I come into her room after the duration of timeout to discuss her wrongdoing I will skip the lecture and just enjoy playing with her. This is classic avoidance that she has inherited from both her father and me. She is so pleased with herself when she hands me that fake cake. She is sure that she can undo whatever terrible thing she did to the dog that got her put in timeout in the first place with a little fake cake. She was pleased this afternoon too. Not because she expected that I would wake up pleased that she had smuggled shit pellets into my bed and onto my pant leg, but because she knew this meant we would be getting out of bed. Sleep Terrorist.

I did what any mother would do. I asked her over and over how the poop got out of her diaper? Did she touch it? Did she actually touch poop? I ran a bath and stuck her in it. I called Dan and yelled at him for something that was in no way his fault. I had to yell at him like it was his fault because I was so mad I could not yell at her at all. Instead I got all Joan Crawford if Joan Crawford has issues with avoidance, and told her, “Well, this means you are no longer sleeping in mommy and daddy’s bed”, “if you are old enough to dig around for poop in your pants you are old enough to sleep in your own bed”, and “Well, I really just hope you don’t get sick, because touching poop that came out after eating at the zoo can make you very very sick”.

Effective? I had to walk away. By now Dan was home and sitting with her while she finished her bath. Her response from inside the tub had been, “Yeah, and I don’t eat poop. Little girls who eat poop die, right mom?”

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Chinese Ballet

What happens when a mother charges $45 in dance accessories and decides to pay for a week of dance instead of paying her credit card bill? Her kid gets kicked out of class for dicking around with her best pal. So goes our luck…

Here’s a little background on dance. My good friend Carol started her first adoption the same time I got pregnant with Cohen. It took three years for her referral to go through, but this July she went to get her 3 ½ year old daughter, Molly. I watched Molly a few days a week over the summer. We wanted our daughters to have a summer companion, and of course hoped they would become friends. This was Cohen’s first time having a friend. She has had many day care and park “associates,” but never anyone that I could promise her she would be seeing again.

At the beginning of the fall Carol made other arrangements for Molly as I began to buckle down into my school work and grad school preparations. We made it a point to get together at least once a week so the girls could see each other. I decided to sign Cohen up for Molly’s Chinese ballet class at the Chinese dance school. We meet there weekly and then go to dinner or a park.

The dance class has been a trying experience from the very beginning. The first time that I took Cohen she was so excited to see Molly that she ran right into the class room and played with her until class began. She participated for the first 15 minutes and then realized that she had lost me.

At this studio there is no window where the kids can see the mommies watching – the mothers sit on tiny preschool chairs in a room hidden behind an observation mirror. This means we can see the kids but they have no way of seeing us. This would not have been so problematic had I gotten a chance to point this room out to Cohen before she took off to dance with her friend. For the next 20 minutes I sat in that tiny blue chair, knees buckled under a tiny grey table watching my daughter scream bloody murder. I was assured that I was not needed. The director had it under control as she carried Cohen around inside the studio trying to regain her interest – a transparent attempt to ensure our enrollment. Finally I went in. I decided it was not for anyone else to tell me when my kid needs me, at this point in the game Coco and I have an official understanding.

Carol and I discussed Cohen's meltdown later. She suggested that Cohen being the
minority for the first time in her life may be a factor I should consider. It was a Chinese ballet class filled with little Chinese girls. They were all dressed in pink. I dressed Cohen in black. She was the equivalent of what the ugly ducking would have been had he stayed with the flock and screamed and pecked at the leader. Still, I decided that at 2 ½ she doesn’t distinguish Chinese kids from White kids anymore than she distinguished the Backyardigans from the Wonder Pets. I took her back today.

I was nervous because we were late and I have laryngitis, which meant there would be no time to reassure her of the situation. I could not re-explain the mirror. I was just going to have to shove her through the door and hope for the best.

She grasped the concept of the observation mirror now and took me at my word that I would be watching from the other side. She jumped right into class, just as she had last week. I watched and waited for the meltdown – half hoping she would have it in the first fifteen minutes so I could pack her up and leave without having to pay. But the meltdown never came. Instead she participated. She followed instructions. Here I am again in the tiny chair watching my kid who 2 hours earlier couldn’t figure out how to just sit still while I changed her diaper. Now she is lying on her belly, arching her back and pulling her ankles toward the back of her head for a stretching exercise. There she goes “chasse”ing up and down the length of the room, complete with head held high and hands on her hips. She was amazing. She really did things I didn’t know she was capable of doing. And then she got distracted.

Ten minutes until the end of class she and Molly decided it was more fun to visit than participate. Had the teacher had an assistant instead of trying to man a class with 10 toddlers on her own, the behavior could have easily been corrected. Instead she stopped the music, brought Carol and I our daughters and apologized that they could not remain in class any longer.

Seriously. A couple of toddlers get kicked out for not being able to focus on one adult in a sea of 10 children after 45 minutes of successful participation? If it sounds like I am rationalizing why I wasn’t going to pay… I was. And I didn’t.

We gathered up our little rebels and packed them out into the parking lot. I whisper (in what I have for a voice) that it is a good thing Carol and I were there. This is obviously the point in our daughters’ lives where had they come to class unsupervised they would certainly start smoking in the parking lot outside of Chinese ballet and inevitable promiscuity would follow.

Letter to an Old Friend

It would be embarrassing to reveal how many friends I have let drift out of my realm of communication simply because the acceptable amount of time between contact had passed. I have done the same with this blog.

My struggle has been with my honesty. When Dan went into police work he asked that I not write about it on the blog. Well, anyone who has ever been the partner to someone in police work knows that it swallows your life whole. If I could not write about that I could not write honestly about anything. So I stopped writing. I know, I know… not a very feminist thing to do some of you might say. I let my man’s work stop mine.

Well, no, not really. My marriage is a team in which I am an active member. There are many individual decisions that my husband and I make on a daily basis, but we are in a crucial place now, and have been this last year, where sacrifices have had to be made for the team. I spent this last year in an ǖber-supportive role and as a result felt a connection to Dan that I had never felt before. This year, he is supporting me. He is giving me the night off to go prepare for the LSAT, helping me study, listening to me babble about colleges and potentially moving us all over the country to go to law school in the fall of 2009. With all of the work my current endeavor entails, it would be easy to excuse myself from blogging.

This has been a heavy year in other ways as well. We tried for nine months before finally getting pregnant with our second child. That was a frustrating and alienating time for me. We moved out of our house in Queen Creek and back into town. This was great for us except we ended up being unemployed for the first two months in the new house. Since resolving that issue the people we rented the Queen Creek house to broke their lease and left the house. We have been trying to stay afloat in this economy, batting away the newscasts reporting on “storms ahead” convincing ourselves that it didn’t apply to us and yesterday I realized I was standing in the eye of the storm. We didn’t avoid any of the damage. We couldn’t have.

And so goes our luck. Sure, we couldn’t get pregnant for a while, but then we did. We will have a long awaited son in January. We moved out of Queen Creek with a huge sigh of relief only to face foreclosure and bad credit. Still, we get to spend more time together in town, and the family walks we take down at the lake on the nights that are cool enough are worth every credit card we will be denied over the next 7 years. Our lives no longer revolve around the police force. Instead our focus is on our children and 2 dogs.

I realize now, more than ever, it is an important time to voice and to listen to the current frustrations facing most of us. People are committing suicide, killing themselves and their families because of the state of their finances. Without belittling the importance of money in our lives, credit for our future, it is my intention to assure you once again that I am not defined by my paycheck, nor will I forever be classified by those two credit card payments I missed because I decided it was more important to pay for our daughter to go to a dance class than to make sure Master Card got their payment on time.

Trust me… odds are the choices I am making now are the only choices that can be made... that should have been made in the first place. If we want to survive times of economic hardship we must return a simpler definition of family. Family is for whom I sacrifice. I do not take from the mouths of my children to pay some bullshit credit card bill which went from 0% A.P.R. to 33% A.P.R. plus retroactive interest. Not in this economy. And from now on… not ever.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

This History of Dooby and Bean... To Date

I live in a house that I rent with my husband Dan, near the university. We have a 2.5 year old daughter, Cohen, a baby boy that will be joining the face of our earth in January and two huge dogs named Alby Doo and Dexter.

When I first started this blog Dan and I rented a house near the university. I was working as a paralegal and my life revolved solely around our new pregnancy and the dog. I began “Dooby and the Bean” as a way of documenting my miserable first pregnancy, wrought with awful symptoms. When Cohen was born instead of complaining about symptoms the blog became a way of expressing the wonders of motherhood, the isolation I sometimes felt, and a sounding board for normalcy. Alby Doo “Dooby” and Coco “the Bean” consumed me, pushing and pulling me in and out of my postpartum depression. This blog became an act of survival, and proved to be both cathartic and productive.

Then things changed. Dan and I fell pray to a type of peer pressure unmatched since peg rolling your pants ravaged my middle school circa 1989. All of sudden we felt that the college town in which we lived wasn’t safe enough to raise a child. The car we had been driving was breaking down too often and would surely explode in the near future, no doubt with our kid inside of it. Shouldn’t we own a house? Wouldn’t that be the next responsible step in becoming adults.

We bought a house we never should have been approved to buy in the middle of nowhere. We signed the papers on one of those “balloon mortgages” confident that we could sell before the interest kicked in. Dan’s bike ride to work transformed into an hour and a half car ride each way. I was completely alone in a new town with a 6 month old. We bought a new car because our two junkers couldn’t survive the commute into town. We got credit card offers in the mail. We accepted. I spent my time coping with a decision I felt must be the right one. I stopped writing. Dan was miserable. 3 hours in the car everyday left him no time with Cohen when he got home at night. Then the housing market crash placed a cherry on top of our sad little Sundae.

I went back to work making great money as a paralegal. Dan became a police officer. Doing these things gave us the confidence we needed to remember who we really were. We rented out the house in the middle of nowhere, left our careers for new ones, and moved back into town.

Today, my life is larger than when “Dooby and Bean” first joined it. Dan and I function in a sea of adventures; trying to deal with the budget, the kids, the dogs, the bills, our new ambitions, and mostly importantly, we do all of this while spending a lot more time together.

If I had to summarize this blog, I would say it is about pregnancy, becoming a parent, the details of motherhood so often not discussed, the pressures of marriage and parenthood that can wreak havoc on a young couple, and how we navigate through it, for better or worse, as a team. If my goal is to do anything here, it is to let someone in a similar situation to any detailed on this site know, “You are not alone.”