Thursday, March 30, 2006

Under the weather ...

legs up the wall
Originally uploaded by toyfoto.
And driving ourselves up the wall.

Strange week. Annabel hasn't been feeling well since Sunday. Typical cold: slight fever, cough, runny nose mucus oozing from every orifice.
Monday she went to Lori's and slept for five hours.
Tuesday I kept her home because she felt hot and was trying to attach herself to my legs with every fiber of her being. (Also had a run-in with a private investigator parked on my lawn on Tuesday ... but that's another story).
Wednesday I went to work and Annabel coughed her way through a two-hour nap. Yet she was pretty happy, though quiet, for the rest of the day.
Thursday she was grumpy but I thought it was just something I must have done, making her wish she had been born to a nice family in Beverly Hills. Once we got to Lori's house, though, she was feeling feverish again and refusing to let go of my shirt. We turned around and went right back home. She napped, but not soundly and was pretty cranky and fidgety all day. By bedtime, however, she was feeling better and was ready to play (of course). Keeping fingers crossed that tomorrow the boo will have kicked this bug to the curb.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Job prospect # 1 - hostage negotiator (if hostage is a frozen treat and the dangerous situation is breakfast)

"Poppypull, mommy. Poppypull … PEAASSE!"

"How about eggs?"

"No, poppypull! POPPYPULL!"

"How about raisin bran?"

"No, poppypull! POPPYPULL!"

"What about yogurt and then a popsicle?"

(Crying now.) "GREEEEN poppypull?"

"Ok, but only if you sit in your chair."

(Happy now.) "No strap in, ok. No strap in."

"I won't strap you in if you wear the big bib."

"Ok, ok, ok."


Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Why I think Bush broke our country ...

This is an open letter to supporters of Bush and the war in Iraq...

Begin rant ...

I understand your patriotism, especially if you or someone you love is serving in the gulf, but I feel sad for you and think such patriotism as yours will be proven by history to be an ill-gotten gain for a president who, with the help of his advisers, misled a nation.

And yet, I don't always understand your reasoning. You say Saddam was evil and needed to go. I say there are MANY, MANY, MANY bad men in this world; there are many situations of genocide we continue to ignore. Saddam may have been someone with the most bravado but the least harmful in terms of WMD and imminent threats to our shores. And please remember, Iraq and 9-11 are NOT connected. None of the terrorists on those doomed planes were from Iraq. But terrorists are surely there now.

Even your president admits that the events of Sept. 11, 2001 were not, and are not, tied to Iraq. The same does not seem true of Cheney, who throws in 9-11 every time he mentions Iraq. The fact is this administration insinuated and continue to insinuate that there was a connection and, I believe, they manufactured an imminment threat to justify this war at a time of uncertainty in this country. They used fear to manipulate and we played right into it. Democrats in Congress should be ashamed of what they did, too. They should not be let off the hook for their part in this unprecidented attrocity.

For those of you with family fighting in the gulf: That this administration sent people like your husbands and wives to an uncertain fate preemptively and without United Nations' support SHOULD neither be forgotten or, in my opinion, forgiven. No one should have to come to the understanding that a loved one was sent into harm's way on a lie. Add to this the fact that there are soldiers, spouses and families living on food stamps and veterans' benefits are being slashed, and the action seems nothing short of dastardly. For the government to pay lip service in supporting the troups while sending them off with insufficent equipment, telling them you go to war with what you get not what you want, seems the very opposite of their mantra "Support the Troops." Supporting the troops needs to mean more than beeping horns and bumper stickers. It needs money, resources and proper supplies and compensation from the government that sends them out on the battlefield.

I do not doubt that stabilization in the middle east is needed, and that safeguarding oil for our energy consumption is a double-edged sword everyone has to swallow, but I can't believe any stability will come at the end of a gun. Imposing Democracy is an oxymoron. If we admitted this war started over economic reasons - say the control of oil fields - and was put into action because of political ideology - say fear of terrorism - would that change your mind?

I feel sorry that some among you spit out the word "liberal" as if it contains only four letters. The way I see it, our conservative president isn't conservative enough when it comes to ensuring our financial future. The debt is now 9 trillion dollars. Our children -- and perhaps their children -- may have to pay the price of this blank check. Somehow, to me, boosting the economy by giving people a little more to spend for stuff they don't really need (and don't even have a hand in making in the first place) is frightening. Enough, I say, with trickle down economics.

And you disagree with the president on immigration, but let me tell you: as a friend of corporations, Bush understands that without illegal immigrants to do the jobs Americans won't dane to do, productivity will likely stand still. And think about the practicallity of rounding up all the illegals and sending them back. Let's not forget who we are and how we got here. The majority of illegal immigrants - I believe - are here for a reason: work. They want a better life for their families just as our grandparents did.

Perhaps in the future our children will not have the expensive gadgets and games. They might not be living in trophy homes and driving new cars every two years. Perhaps they will be digging ditches. I suppose that's not such a bad thing. It's more difficult for me to swallow that our girls may have to accept the government telling them if they are to be mothers or career women if, God forbid, they make a mistake. That my daughter will have fewer rights over her own body than I had makes me worried for her. I fear that what happened in Tehran in the 1990s will happen here. And when we view a t-shirt that sparks controversy because it expresses an opinion we think is unpatrotic then, well, we won't be living in a free society now will we?

We shall have to wait and see what his true legacy will be and what fallout will come. In the meantime, I hope we can come to terms with this: Democracy is more than a means of getting into office. It has to be more than just toeing the party line. Working together should be the goal, not working in secrecy and isolation. We need to fix what Bush broke and we need to do it now - for everyone's sake.


End rant ... Thank you.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Telephathy Answering Service ...

Who's calling. ... no let me guess ... was I right?

How may I help you?

Uh ... Shouldn't you already know?

Friday, March 24, 2006

Be very, very, quiet ...

Were Rabbit
Originally uploaded by toyfoto.
We're hunting Were Rabbits. Since Jed borrowed Wallace and Gromit's "The Curse of The Were Rabbit" a few weeks ago from "YaYa," her conversations with us have hinged almost exclusively on "RARE RABBI." Surprise, surprise. Change doesn't always come easily for the little miss, but when it comes - watch out.
Initially she balked at watching anything other than "Winney the Pooh," so I went to great lengths to explain the connection between the clay figures of the cheese eating Wallace and his silent dog pal Gromit and "Chicken Run," a movie we rented during our Christmas trip in Minnesota, which set her heart on fire.
She seemed duly impressed and quickly gave "Were Rabbit" her undivided attention.
"RARE RABBI, RARE RABBI," she chants now when I ask her if she'd like to see Pooh or Elmo. And her response to being reminded that we gave that piece of claymation goodness back to its rightful owner is usually ... "go ge it, peas."
So, after repeated requests and a good deed, Jed ended up doing just that; making a trip to Target to procure the carrot-y/cheesy feature.
He couldn't contain his glee. When he pulled the DVD from the bag and showed it to her, though, the history lesson I'd given to her weeks ago came back to haunt me. She hugged him and said: "Oh, I like Tchiken Ron."

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Attention hound, me?????

love mom pjs
Originally uploaded by toyfoto.
Things she can tell her shrink #2 -- "Mom frittered away my college fund on things she found on e-bay to boost her self esteem."

Yes it's true. I broke my cardinal rule and made my first (and hopefully only) e-bay purchase recently. The item that sent me into the depths of netherworld consumerism was this Old Navy boys PJ set that was unavailable in stores. For the premium of double the price, the shameless self promotion came in the mail in just a few days.
Why, do you ask, did I NEED to have this sleep set for boo-button? Peer pressure. All the cool parents on flickr were jumping on the tatoo you bandwagon and making it a Flickr Kids phenomena!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Strategic planning

tookies are brain food, mama
Originally uploaded by toyfoto.
Me: How long does it usually take Annabel to fall asleep?

Him: I don't know, 30 minutes? Why?

Me: I gave her a cookie and I want to get it away from her.

Him: You gave her a cookie? Why?

Me: Because she wanted it and I wanted her to let me change her diaper, take her shoes off and go to sleep. She's not eating it, anyway, she just wanted to hold it.

Him: She did all that for a cookie?

Me: Yup.

Him: That's a pretty good deal.

Me: Yeah, I thought so, too.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Begin Rant:

Most of you are familiar with Mothering magazine, right? Well, I've decided I'm beginning to hate the mainstream EARTHY CRUNCHY attitude almost as much as I hate that, as a country, I believe we are being led down a path of destruction by a failed-oilman-lying-sack-of-cowboy.

As humans, I think, it is natural to regret the choices we make. To lament what we think could have been if we'd made other decisions. But women, perhaps, in addition to second-guessing themselves, spend far too much time looking over the fence at the neighbor and beating them to a bloody pulp, too.

We've got experts ad nauseum telling us what's best for society. Women should work; women should raise the kids and be home 24-7. No matter WHAT we do there's someone waiting in the pages of a magazine to tell us our choice was dead wrong.

I wrongly equated the wholefoods/save the environment set with lofty ideas that were right-minded and empathetic of all things, not just spotted owls and Karner butterflies. I thought of them as they portrayed themselves: Do no harm. Leave no trace of yourself as you walk in that deep wood. So I have to say I was kind of shocked to read the following passage in MOTHERING about rooming-in with your newborn:

"I watched a young mother pushing a plastic hospital bassinet in which a tiny pink bundle slept. At her side was an older woman, probably her own mother. They stopped at the door to the nursery and pushed it open with the far end of the bassinet. The young mother motioned with one hand to the nurses inside, then she and her mother turned and walked back down the hall.

She never said goodbye to her child, never kissed her or patted her head. She didn't tuck the blanket in before she left or stop to catch one more glimpse of those tiny fingers. She was already disconnected from the life she'd had within her only a day before. I wondered how different that family might be if, instead of offering drop-in childcare, the hospital had offered instead a supportive environment for attachment. An opportunity was lost, as that family detached, to protect and nurture the bond of mother and child that nature requires of us while we are pregnant, and hospitals so easily regulate out of us once our babies are born."

I must say that I became irrationally angry after reading that -- the kind of anger I get when I watch the Today show in the morning and wind up flashing both fingers and the television screen as I shriek "I HATE YOU KATIE COURIC!" This anger, directed at the writer, was in part because I too was one of those hand-my-kid-off-to-the-nursery-staff kind of person. As a new mother I was afraid, unsure of myself and also extremely tired after 24 hours of painful labor and an eventual c-section, not to mention that I was so swollen from fluids they pumped into my system that even my corneas were bloated and I had trouble seeing. I was also suffering from the Baby Blues and worried that I was slipping into a deeper depression.

If someone were to pass this judgement on me they would have been wrong. In all aspects of our lives -- from child rearing to working to keeping up the house and to taking care of others -- we feel we are being judged and fear we will be found lacking.

We women can't even stop clubbing each other over the head with the age old work/stay home argument. For the record: I work because without my job we wouldn't have health insurance, which I would feel (with my history and the state of healthcare) might put my family in jeopardy.

What all this means to me is that having a happy mother is SO more important, in my opinion, than having a depressed one, regardless of whether they work or stay at home. And if one more person tells me that they didn't have kids so that someone else could raise them, well ... I just might throw them head first into the talking head of the almighty Katie Couric.

The thing I've learned from my experience is that I know very little about anyone else. I do not know their circumstances. I only know my own. And I know I am as bonded to my kidlet as I believe any other mother who roomed-in, stayed-at-home, cloth-diapered and co-slept would be. And I also learned that moms HAVE to do what's best for them. After all we are not interchangeable and neither are our kids. What works for one person does not necessarily work for another.

I breastfed for 19 months and would have let her nurse until she got married. She wanted no more of it and weened herself. Two of my dearest friends weren't able to nurse. Their kids didn't gain weight and they were terror struck. LeLeche would have drummed me out of the corp for telling them having a non-worried/non-guilt consumed mother was more important than having mother's milk. I know a woman who comitted suicide because of postpartum depression. I just can't think of anything worse.

If we can't be kind to each other, then how are we effecting the planet in any meaningful way? What good will our electric cars and natural fibers be to us as we sit on that high perch in judgement. It's probably difficult to be empathetic when we think the world would turn smoothly and serenely if everyone just did things OUR way, I suppose. But I think, as a society hoping to save this planet, that's what we are going to have to do: practice a little empathy along with a lot more moderation.

END RANT ... Thank you.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

The gift

Sometimes gifts come in very unique packages.
On Saturday Jed and I went to dinner and the movies. I can't remember the last time we did that. Ama and Papa came over to keep their eyes on Annabel, which means they get her hopped up on sugar and keep her up and playing until 23 minutes before we get home. Although "date night" seemed like gift enough, when we got home we found a blue and green trussed-up creature waiting for us in our bedroom.
Turns out that after we made our exit, Annabel decided that she had a job to do. She gathered the "exercise" balls and instructed her grandparents that she planned on "making a snowman for mommy and daddy." She would need a laundry basket (which she pushed around for a while for good measure) and "tape," which she explained to papa could be found in the refrigerator.
Being the loving papa that he is, and after he exaustively pawed through the produce drawer to no avail, he made the dangerous trek downstairs (if you know our house you know what I mean) to find some tape that would help her in the mission.
I suppose she really is her father's daughter. ... who knew such creativity could lurk in the tiny body of a two-year-old. Makes me wish we hadn't missed seeing its creation.


And on the seventh day ...

Originally uploaded by toyfoto.
I felt so tired Sunday, (and I had to stay awake for the hour's drive to our yoga class in Gt. Barrington) that I actually asked Jed if he would mind if I went back to bed after breakfast, which meant he had to keep Annabel occupied. Not such an easy task on weekends when all she wants to do is "show you sompin." He actually let me sleep an extra fifteen minutes from the time I said he should wake me up.

It's strange how that hour and 45 minute nap made me feel awake and somewhat human again.

The yoga class was really wonderful, too. The kids played together well (yay!) and we moms got in a pretty good asana session. Our resident yogini, Maya, dazzled us all with her modified downward dog pose. Annabel is still resisting performing public postures in favor of piling the blocks and toppling them over in a toddler's reenactment of Beevis and Buttheads' hijinx. I can almost hear in her little rambling toddler voice saying, "FIRE, FIRE, FIRE." (She's Beevis, incase you are wondering).

Yet, in the end, Annabel meandered over to the mat and laid on my chest during shavasana. And she hardly EVER does that. It was a good day.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Games that we played today

Stay in there. ... OK?
Originally uploaded by toyfoto.
*Having a tea party, tay?
*Rie horse. Off now. Rie horse, TAY?
*Clean up, clean up. Everybody everywhere clean up, clean up. Everybody do your share.
*(I'm) not (eating) that.
*Don't follow me. Don't follow me.
*Read dis book ... No, NO, NO, NO! Not dis book. Dis ONE!
*WhaSHA doing in there? POOP-EN?

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Childish things

colors dance
Originally uploaded by toyfoto.
Dear Annabel,

I hope you never give up childish things. I hope you will lift your own granddaughter up onto my bed one day and we will dance. The colors will be more vibrant than anyone ever imagined, and the steps will be graceful in their own wild abandon. There will be no wrong moves.
I hope you don't let wrinkles in sheets, or footprints on floors disuade you from disturbing the peace and quiet of your life. Missteps have much to teach us. There is no greater order than disorder.


Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The look that says: Doh way, Mommy. Doh WAY!

playing "pyano," mommie
Originally uploaded by toyfoto.
Having a SLR-packing mommy who trails your every move isn't the easiest thing for a toddler. Just when you think you've got it made -- when you can disturb the peace with your atonal jazz renditions of "Happy Birthday" and "Mary Had a Little Lamb" -- out she pops from behind the P-YANO. Clicking away like a fool. Even your cousin, a worldly six and three-quarters, is embarassed for you.

Wait until I start singing in the grocery store. ... Believe me, we are saving for your future therapy bills.

Monday, March 13, 2006

The sweetest cake yet ... the 99th

We contemplated singing "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall" in honor of Great Grandfather Miller's 99th birthday last Saturday, but Annabel reminded us that she was exercising temperance. So she decided it was going to be "Happy Birthday" all day long. She even started practicing in the car on the drive to Concord, Mass.
She had a wonderful time disrupting the dinners of all the residents of Newbury Court, but something tells me (judging from the sound of laughter and elation that waved through the room) no one really minded having a toddler calling "don't follow me," as she weaved her way through the main dinning hall, dragging a half dozen balloons behind her.
Of course, as it came time to sing, she clammed up when she was brought before the guest of honor. ... back in her own seat at the far end of the table she could belt it out.
That's my girl.

girl talk

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Pink slipped

clifford morning
Originally uploaded by toyfoto.
I wasn't expecting the phone call alerting me to the e-mail.

I sensed something uncomfortable afoot when she became eager to hang up the phone, instructing me to read the message and call her back. This isn't the first time I've been in this uncomfortable place. However, since getting married, I thought I would NEVER again have to hear the most frightening words to ever loom over a relationship: "WE HAVE TO TALK."

And now, it seemed, one of the MOST important relationships in my life was on the rocks. As I read (and reread) the six paragraphs, it became painfully obvious our babysitter was breaking up with me. Well sort of, anyway. She wasn't handing in her resignation, she'd just decided the smoothest way to make the morning transition less exciting would be to do it quickly. It would be easier if I were a long distance partner.

For two years my morning routine has revolved around wrestling an infant-turn-whirling-dervish into a breakfast bib, fresh clothes and then the car seat, and driving 17 minutes to a warm cup of coffee and the connected feeling of friendship and commiseration. What could be better than catching up on girl talk and having (and being) a sounding board as the kidlet loosens her kungfu grip on the collar of my shirt and ventures out into a room littered with toys?

As I studied the detailed account of her thoughts in the electronic missive -- all carefully crafted so as to give me the letdown gently but providing little room for argument -- it became clear I had two choices: drop my kidlet off in the morning and leave or drop my kidlet off in the morning and leave. Each variation included how I could spend my time before my arrival or after my departure.

I should have known this day was coming. I sensed it the same way I sensed that my high school boyfriend was looking beyond me, yet I pushed it to a darkend corner of my mind where it took its place next to the elephant I was trying to ignore, as well. See, lately, Ittybit has been having a power struggle between mom's authority (which is somewhat lax) and the babysitter's (which is considerably more stringent). For a few months most of our mornings have begun with meltdowns and playpen timeouts that drag on until THE MOM leaves. It's a daily lottery that has no discernible pattern. Sometimes she's joyful and eager to play with toys and other days she's clingy and cranky, eager to play one legislator against the other.

I'm wondering how many moms out there go through the roller-coaster emotion of care provider rejection: That pivotal moment when it becomes clear that you, as a parent, are doing more harm than good with your presence in the playroom.

As I sat at my desk rereading the e-mail, I felt my heart sink as the largest part of my social network suddenly became unmoored. The two-women coffee klatch I savored each day for the past two years was adrift. But as I look at my Ittybit, I see another reality looking back at me: The baby has vanished and a full-fledged person, with new needs, has taken her place. What's left to mourn is my place in this new development. I suppose I didn't really need the caffeine as much as the camaraderie. Only now I find myself just a little bit farther out of the loop.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Fun and games

Originally uploaded by toyfoto.
Yesterday I got a package from Adorama with some recent photographs. I must have been extremely tired (and overly unconcerned) because I let her handle them long after she began dropping, folding, mutilating and spindling while I fumbled with the camera.
(I suppose that is just my comeuppance for making her say cheese against her will.)
This game continued throughout Jed's intricate dinner preparations, however the rules became WAY too complex for me to follow. She'd hand me two or more at a time but if I accepted more than one photograph she'd grab them all away and start again admonishing me in a tone that implied "mother, you must have a VERY low I.Q."
Eventually, she just gave up and walked away shaking her head. "Oh well."

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The littlest art critic

She's not always terribly fond of the classics, but man does she like modern. And as she weilds her crayon high above her head, circling it in the air never touching tip to paper, it's just her little way of saying that post-modernism isn't dead.

She's actually the kind of critic every artist should have. With every brash brush stroke she notices she often gives her approval loud and clear: WOW! WOW!

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Some things are just too good ...

strawberry kiwi sorbet
Originally uploaded by toyfoto.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Ben and Jerry's strawberry-kiwi sorbet is a two-handed wonder.

Today papa went with Annabel and me to the Kidz Expo at the Empire State Plaza concourse. I want to say that the event was wonderful, but unfortunately it wasn't even remotely close. Although it got us out of the house on a cold and windy day, if I'd known we'd have to wait in a line that could have circled the globe so that Annabel could see and reject Clifford, we might not have braved the weather and parking pinch made possible by the MAAC tournament at the Arena to worm our way through the crowds. When the "giveaway" balloons were nowhere to be found and yet hundreds were floating about in the decor - and, I might add, unable to be untethered by the many who tried - I even wanted to cry.

For those of you unfamiliar with Nelson Rockerfeller's legacy to the people of New York, I can tell you that slimy, ice cream sticky fingers (not ours) were setting off alarms and adding all kinds of casin hues to some giants of modern art. Suffice it to say we have learned a number of things about Annabel:

* She loves Naguchi more than Clifford. (Those finger prints aren't hers ... I rubbed them off.)

* She is willing to "let go" of her attachment to a balloon she'd accidentally let go of seconds after I pilfered it from a tabletop display in exchange for the sweet taste of a Ben & Jerry's fruit freeze.

* She now thinks Clifford is Santa Claus: When I grumbled that the Big Red Dog should have been unleashed and milling about the crowd, and complained that shouldn't be competing for Santa's job, Annabel chimed right in. "Ho, Ho, Ho."

* She is more than happy to tell a puppeteer after the show that she'd rather be waiting in line for Big DOG.

* She is not too fond of clowns on stilts.

Although the experience wasn't exactly what I had in mind for a fun afternoon, I can't be a complete naysayer. When we dropped papa off at "ama's house" Annabel was all smiles.

"Shank you, papa."
"For what, honey."
"Foe come see me."
"Thank you for bringing me."

revolving doors