Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Systems Normal ... All F***** Up ...

You ever hear of this Mercury in Retrograde thing?

Well I don't believe in curses, but Jaysus Christ! The old "trickster" sure seems to be giving me a run for my money this week. And I am definitely NOT rolling with the punches.

I may not be speaking to anyone until this whole backward-facing planet thing turns itself around. And by that time, I'm fairly certain they won't be speaking to me, either.

Monday, February 26, 2007

We put the gross in grocery shopping

Pushing a wonky-wheeled cart through the market is always an adventure when there's a preschooler calling the shots as you go.

From deciding what vegetables to buy (red, orange and yellow peppers; red and "silver" potatoes; but NOT the asparagus, which I managed to slip into the cart unnoticed anyway) to what cheeses looked best, Ittybit has become a grocery guru.

There's something almost mystical about her talents:

For instance, as soon as the butcher handed us our pound of stew beef she had decided to cradle it in her arms and call it "her baby." She even told the cashier not to put her "baby" in the plastic bag, knowing full well that plastic is not a toy and not to be triffled with.

She had other, big sisterly plans: "I need to rock him to sleep."

The bagger gave me a look I instantly recognized as the trying-not-to-laugh face pinch.

I told her confidentially: "we save a lot of money on dolls, not to mention the added bonus of being to eat her babies."

In hindsight, I'm thinking it wasn't a really appropriate response.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Looking a gift horse in the mouth ...

I rarely complain about Blogger because it's free.

Who am I to rant an rave about outtages and other burps that seem to be temporary technical indigestion.

But, as you can see, I've tried to customize my templates and am having trouble getting my masthead back into place.

I'd already gone to Blogger in beta and hadn't really experienced much trouble, but I really wanted to get rid of those infernal DOTS. So sick of those dots.

Of course, when I updated the new Blogger template I immediately lost all the straight html changes I'd made. I was able to cobble together the sidebar after a few bleary hours late last night, but I don't know how to switch the plain-jane header for my old masthead and I'm afraid my use of Safari as a browser isn't helping. I use to be able to just paste the html code for the photo from flickr onto the top of the template and that was that: easy peasy. When I tried to do that now all I get is angry error messages.

So. If anyone has any advice, I'd be eternally grateful. I'll even send you cookies. The kind with chocolate chips in them.

Friday, February 23, 2007

A man for (almost) all seasons ...

7:30 p.m. -- a face full of popscicle stickiness -- she says, "I think it's bath night."

Who are we to argue?

8:10 p.m. -- Scrubbed, detubbed and encased in "PEE-JAMMAS," she brushes her teeth to the inner sounds of Black Eyed Peas.

8:13 p.m. -- Squeezed into bed next to her truck-driving dad (I had NO IDEA he could fit in her toddler bed) I enter her room to the sounds of them singing "Old MacDonald Had A Farm" and she sits straight up. She tells me I'm the "bestest mommy I ever had." She turns to her daddy and says "I like you, too."

8:30 p.m. -- Three books, one hot water bottle and a glass of water later we're on the couch -- multi-tasking. He's checking his e-mail and contemplating the night's offerings on HBO. I'm knitting and checking the forums online.

9 p.m. -- I wrestle the remote from his stubborn hands and choose "Bee Season."

10 p.m. -- He kisses my forehead and says: "I hate these people. I'm going to bed."

Thursday, February 22, 2007

When imaginary worlds collide

Dear Annabel,

This week you decided you were, in fact, going to have a brother.

And that you are going to teach him how to jump. And how to play with puzzles. And how to eat doughnuts -- because there IS a preferred way to eat them that requires substantial face-washing elbow grease be administered by an adult-type being afterward.

You ask so often if your "brother is coming yet" that it seems as if we're on a months-long car ride to the grocery store.

"Is he is here yet?"

"Not yet, honey."

"Well, is he here NOW?"

"No, hon. Your brother isn't supposed to arrive until summer."

"When is that?"

"That's when Ama Linda travels from her house in Minnesota to her house in Maine; when the lettuce grows in her garden and when the wild blueberries start to sprout on the bush in her yard."

"Is that a long time away?"

"It won't be too long."

I have no doubt you will be a good and loving sister.

You have already made special Valentines and the generous offer of a space in your room for your brother.

You are always on the lookout for babies then making special efforts to tell their mommies that you are getting a baby, too. You smile broadly when they congratulate you.

I wish I could put myself in your world, Ittybit, because it’s a wonderful place.

Until you learn differently everything is soft and joyous and easy. Explanations are simple and straightforward, and follow a logical progression completely. It's shocking, at times, that they aren’t really logical: Why shouldn't it be true that if you will grow up to be a mommy that I could grow down and be your baby?

But then I realize that the more you learn the less magical it will all seem.

When your new brother appears, you will learn a new set of realities. Your parents will be sleep deprived again as we find ourselves awake at all hours; stubbing our toes as we grope through the darkness to turn on a light. Our patience will be tested, and I know there are times we will not make the grade. We're going to be saying that word we’re not supposed to say.

But we've been here before. This is your first time.

I was reminded of this when you told me last night that your brother won’t cry because he'll have you. And while I know it won't be because of you, I assure you, dear girl, he will cry wet, heartbreaking tears, just as you sometimes do.

I know you're going to learn fast, though. And I have no doubt you’ll be teaching us a thing or two, too.



Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The big O

It's kind of strange when your spouse tells you the sordid details of his dreams.

Strange for me, especially, since I'm the type of person who can't really tell my dreams from reality. I mean, when you spend half a day searching every conceivable stow spot in the house for the roll of stamps you bought while you slept, you have a certain appreciation for the surreal.

But seriously, some things are just a little too surreal:
HIM: I just had the weirdest dream. ...

ME: ... yes?

HIM: I had an affair with Oprah.

ME Winfrey?

HIM: Do you know another Oprah?

ME: I don't even know THAT Oprah.

HIM: Well, you don't have to worry. We didn't do anything. We just kept running around her mansion looking for a place to do something.

ME: That's good to hear. I don't think I could compete with a mega media mogul.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Children are a pain in my ...

Apparently, children are a pain in my neck. ... Or throat to be more precise.

I had not thought it would be possible to experience worse heartburn with Thing 2 than I had with Annabel. I didn't think worse heartburn WAS possible. Surely, I must be remembering it it all wrong because last night as I lay awake for the third night in a row, wanting to cry and knowing there are FIVE MORE MONTHS of this to come, I couldn't believe it had been this bad.

I couldn't even find comfort sitting in an upright position. I know it sounds astounding, but the burning in my throat, the gagging on bile, the feeling of general sickness took me by complete surprise. How can I stand FIVE. MORE. MONTHS. of this?

I remember telling people that I had horrible heartburn with Annabel and that I'd gained only 12 pounds during the entire pregnancy because of it, but I'd truly forgotten how awful it was. Drinking water, even in small amounts, seems to produce the same general results of eating an Italian hoagie stuffed with sausage, onions and sauce. I don't remember feeling nausiated at the same time, though. That's new.

I also don't remember it sneaking up on me. The feeling of fullness decends upon me without warning: One minute you're asking for seconds of pasta and the next -- only one morsel later -- you're wishing you could vomit to feel some relief.

One of the first things that happened to make me think I might be pregnant this time around was that I woke up one morning to the undeniable horror of reflux; it was at least two weeks before I would be able to take a pregnancy test.

I hadn't had heartburn since Annabel was born ... I wonder if that means ...

Sure 'nuff. Strange, though, how I'd thought this pregnancy would be different.


Annabel isn't feeling well either. Poor thing is at the doctor as I write this, having woken up from her nap with a swollen, goopy purple eye. She's been fighting a cold all weekend and awoke this morning with crusty eyes. I thought it might be from sleep, but no. She is a mucus factory, and it's being produced from virtually every orifice.

So I'll just be sitting here swallowing fire and crossing my fingers that I'm the only one suffering tonight.


Well Jed called from Albany Tile (where he is trying to figure out if what he wants to do with surround of new tub/bathroom is even feasible **Blink, blink**) to say that Annabel is fine, and in the most graphic of technical explanations, there's a rather simple reason for the goopy gunk swelling up her eyes: The tear ducts usually drain through the nose but when mucus cloggs the nose as much as Annabel's nose is currently clogged it sometimes oozes out the eyes. Lovely, huh?

She sounds good, though. I could hear her prattling on in the backround, talking about all the ice cream she'll eat when it's summer.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Skipp(y)ing a generation

Sometimes Annabel points to my chest and says, "My baby's in there."

The "MY BABY" phrasing always makes me think of her as a mommy and me as a surrogate. I laugh at the visual in my head as I try to direct her index finger a bit lower, toward my expanding waistline.

"No, Honey. Your baby's in HERE," I say for emphasis.

"No! She's in there," she responds with a voice filled with confidence and a double pointed poke that simulaneously reinforces her belief that the baby is (a) really a girl, and (b) inside my breasts (which I must admit do appear as if they are making a more rapid increase in size than my uterus).

It's also amusing because so far I have yet to experience the fabled "pregnancy cravings" I've heard so much about.

When I was pregnant with Annabel I did eat a lot of spinach and chicken -- and ended up with an aversion to eggs in the last several months -- but I assumed my desires for different foods had more to do with what didn't burn as much when it was coming back up the tube in the form of acid reflux. It was all about trial and error, not genuine larder lust.

This time around I've noticed a desire for all kinds of cheese -- from American to Cottage -- but that's not unusual for me. Whenever I put anything into my mouth I wonder: Is this a pregnancy craving, really, or is it just the normal fluctuations of supply and demand? You know, like whenever Atomic Fireballs are stocked in the office vending machine -- Pregnant or not, they call to me.

But every day Annabel comes up with a new taste sensation that only she seems to be able to fathom.

"I really think I'm going to be sick," said Jed last night at dinner as she dipped green bean after green bean into grape juice and gobbled them down like candy.

"Why does she want her peas frozen?" he asked last week as he poured the peas directly from bag to plate.

"I don't know. I think it's because she's weird," I say, neglecting to mention the dessert of ice cream she demanded not long ago was to be drizzled with the green legumes instead of the traditional sugary sprinkles.

I thought perhaps it was the desire to shock and amuse that caused her to tell the sitter she didn't actually like peanut butter and celery, and instead dipped spoonfuls of corn into the little tub of Skippy I'd sent for snack.

But now I'm wondering if she didn't inherit the pregnancy cravings I've never had?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The groundhog is such a kidder

Yesterday I did the unthinkable for a person in the news business. I called in on account of snow. In the more than fifteen years I've been in this business, I missed exactly two days of work because of the white stuff. Once, in 1996, I had to turn around and go home when I got halfway to work and my car couldn't plow through the foot-high drifts that were sailing around the backcountry roads. It was a weekly and we weren't on deadline, so I didn't feel so bad.

This time however, I was all set to go. I was planning what to wear, and thinking about my still broken cell phone charger when Jed gave me the stern look that only FATHERS can muster: "YOU ARE NOT THINKING ABOUT GOING OUT IN THIS ARE YOU?"

"I have to," I say, feeling a little like a rebuked child.

"I have to go to work," I continue, with endless reasons at my disposal:
People are counting on me

At least TWO people are on vacation

I know some people just won't show up

and I know there might very well be only TWO people that DO show up. ...

And yet his reasons for staying by the warmth of the fire, petting our sweet ailing dog and forgoing the battle of a potential two-hour commute were equally compelling:



So I acquiesed and got on the horn to work.

It was a good day, though: Annabel got to break in her new snow shovel, a valentine's gift from her dad who trudged out around noontime to go to the store on an errand for baking supplies and who ended up coming home with a new movie he bought on impulse while standing in the checkout line.

Professional guilt, as well as a need for toddler diversion, made me send him to the store for 18 ounces of bittersweet chocolate and enough eggs to get us through the week should I clean us out with my plan:
I was going to bring a "guilt" cake to work.

About 20 inches of snow (and seven hours later) Annabel was helping me put the finishing touches on the chocolate cake we made (only half of which I brought to work this morning because of theiving housemates).

"Look mommy, I'm snowing on the cake."

So here it is:
Zero Flour, All the Guilt

1 cup water

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

18 ounces bittersweet chocolate (bar form) (We added half a bag of Ghirardelli milk chocolate chips because we were a tad short).

1 stick butter, cut into cubes

6 large eggs

Preheat over to 300 degrees F.

Melt chocolate in double boiler (are you nuts. USE THE MICROWAVE).

Combine water, sugar and salt in medium sauce pan and cook over medium-low heat until sugar is disolved, stirring continuously. (Annabel did this part).

Fold butter into melted chocolate one cube at a time. Add syrup mixture and blend in eggs one at a time. (I'm sure Annabel would have been more precise than I was in this endeavor; I dropped in two eggs at once, then dropped one egg on the floor).

Pour into 9" springform pan and place in oven in a water bath.

Bake 45 minutes.

When it had cooled, I filled a tea ball with confectioner's sugar and let Annabel make a blizzard on the cake ... and in the kitchen and all over her clothes.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Somebody poisoned the waterhole ...

For many folks, Valentine's Day is a day to be disdained. A manufactured holiday designed to pad the sales of florists, chocolatiers and card companies everywhere. It's a day lovers will look at their partners and either be delighted or disappointed.
Where love is symbolized as foil-wrapped truffles or see-through nighties.

I suppose you could take any occasion celebrated by the exchange of gifts and hold it up to the UV light and trace amounts of excrement in the water supply will be detected.

I've never been the sort (or even been with the sort) that takes this day too an extreme. A card here, a flower there maybe dinner and a movie.

I nearly had to consider the holiday this year, since Ittybit goes to preschool, and a note came home with her at the beginning of the month that said the school didn't encourage valentine exchanges, but that if a student felt strongly about it they should make enough for everyone.

Oh the dilemma of such a horific choice: If you don't make 10 cards for everyone -- nevermind that I've lost the most recent (and accurate) class roster with names, and that Annabel has a tendancy to manufacture her own names for classmates; bowmmeggo, blahblue and glugglug, I imagine, wouldn't be too pleased with their construction paper valentines from us, I'm afraid -- what happens when they make them for her and she has none to share?

It's not that we weren't making TONS of cards. We've done nothing but snip out construction paper hearts and glue them to ripped pieces of paper embellished with old watercolor paintings and crayon drawings for weeks. We mailed one to her cousin, her amahs and papas. We gave one to Lori and Tierney and Brianna. We popped them in the coat pockets of some of her friends and toted the rest around unaddressed.

It seems strange to me to be saying this now, but I've never really given much thought to Valentine's Day before this month of this year. It never seemed like anything terribly special.

But then came a turning point. Julie K in Taiwan started counting down the days.

When something is made with so much love that you can't help but see more of the love than the thing, you can't help but admire the holiday that inspired its creation. ... at least a little bit anyway.

Monday, February 12, 2007

An old dog, new tricks

Tucking her into bed

Jed is worried about Maggie. Her cough is getting worse and she's skinnier than ever.

He even mentioned yesterday that he thinks she's only got two weeks left in her.

After the diagnosis last summer, I spent an anguished few days feeling numb. The idea of a house without this old girl of ours begging for tasty morsels and smiling at us as only a good dog can smile, filled me with dread.

But then she didn't die. As the months went by we began to feel hot under the icy glares of the veterinary staff as we continued to stop by and pick up two-week supplies of Hydrocodone; Jed started bringing her with him to prove we weren't just pocketing the drugs for ourselves.

Her birthday (Thanksgiving) came and went, as did Christmas and New Year's Day. And now as Annabel and I gear up for Valentine's Day, Maggie is still underfoot and under the dining room table where hundreds of paper hearts -- knocked over accidentally as we busily made cards this past weekend -- fluttered down upon her.

I'd forgotten how sick she is; how little time is left. She still lumbers up and down the stairs, eats voraciously and drags hers and all bowls of dinner-time giveaways away from Madeline every chance she gets. She doesn't have any pain. And even though we know it's inevitable, her death will still be a shock.

I worry about Annabel, and how she will take the loss now that Maggie is routinely sleeping in her room and generally watching over her at night. I imagine Maggie's absence in the house will make it feel cavernous to her, especially. "Is Maggie feeling better?" she asked me last night at bedtime, "'cause I want her to sleep in my room. I want her with me all night."

Friday, February 09, 2007

Facts of life ... book form

Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late, words and pictures by Mo Willems:

I can't believe I'm going to say this, but I think I may actually like this book even better than it's Caldecott Medal winning sibling, "Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus." The busdriver makes a repeat performance, only this time he's holding a candle and wearing a nightcap and asking that readers NOT TO LET THE PIGEON stay up late. But as is his nature, Pigeon tries to worm his way out of going to sleep. This time Annabel stuck to her guns. She may be all for letting the Pigeon drive the bus, but no way is she letting the whirly bird stay up late.

Even though illustrator Stephen Michael King tells us in his delightful book, "Emily Loves to Bounce," that sometimes she eats and sometimes she sleeps, any reader can plainly see that Emily's singular purpose in life is to bounce. With lots of white space, this book leaves a lot to the imagination as it's quirky characters -- which include her dinosaur and Nana Pat -- hop and bounce and boing, looking for the best bounce of all -- which is mommy and daddy's bed, of course. Just becareful of the tummy bounces, they look like Emily fell on her head. No matter, she's up and bouncing on her feet in no time.

Each month Annabel comes home from preschool with Scholastic Book order forms, and every month I've felt a little like the book Scrooge, because I don't really find anything that floats my boat. So they've mostly gone into the recycling. That pains me a little because ordering books through school gives the little school house credit towards its own library. Apparently, all I needed was incentive. Recently, Lori told me that she'd like to place an order for her own collection, and I did book buying, too. While I wasn't terribly interested in television stars Clifford or Care Bears, I thought maybe it'd be good to try The Usborne's First Thousand Words in Spanish. I mean it couldn't hurt to for Annabel to have an understanding that English isn't the only language right?

Boy was I shocked when it quickly became her favorite book. She especially likes the medical pages for some reason, but also LOVES to see what's happening in the crazy kitchen. There are so many surprises in the pictures it somehow cancels out the fact that the book organized as a simple a picture book with Spanish words under their respective pictures. It also has a wonderful glossary for definition and pronounciation in the back. Of course, for a few months Annabel wouldn't let me refer to it while we were reading, so I was pronouncing LOTS of stuff incorrectly. I suppose I'll always be an ugly American.

From the moment I saw "Tub-Boo-Boo" at a local secondhand book store I was hooked. Something about Glin Dibbly's slightly freakish folks and Margie Palatini's fast paced, rhyming prose made me an instant fan. Of course, I bought the book when Annabel was only a few months old, but I had hope that in time she'd come to love it. What's not to love about a book narrated as if it were a news report by a knowing older sister about her little brother who gets his big toe stuck in the faucet of the tub. "A Tub-Boo-Boo? A Tub-what-who?" I can happily report that Annabel giggles like mad as the whole town gets trapped in the bath fiasco. This is a book that would make Laura Petry amused.

I can't believe I haven't mentioned "Homemade Love" before. Written by academic bell hooks, "Homemade Love" is a THE first book Annabel was ever mesmerized by. I kid you not, she was a two-month-old infant sitting quietly, eyes glued to the book. If she was crying the poetic words, read over and over, would put her at ease. This book is my favorite for all those early memories as well as it's sweet and loving message: "My Mama calls me girlpie, her sweet, sweet. Daddy's honeybun, chocolate dew drop. Homemade Love. All good, good." -- A perfect valentine.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The pleasure is all yours ...

Oh that look.

My mother is an alien from the planet ash-olio.

She obviously has me confused for the child that was separated at birth.

When she's gone I'm getting rid of all these infernal photographs ...

One by one, I will burn them in the sink.

And I don't care what she says, I will never spit out the toothpaste ...

Or finish my meal ...

Or wash my hair ...

Or sleep through the night.


Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Let's just forget TODAY and move on to tomorrow ... tonight we're taking the kid to the pub

Last month Meredith Vieira asked blogger Melissa Summers, on live television, to explain the difference between a mom and a babysitter when it came to drinking on the job.

She wanted to know why the double standard: If you wouldn't let a babysitter drink while they were watching your children why would you?

... AND the gloves came off.

All over the blogosphere mothers are wielding pitchforks and demanding blood. Many of them asking why the media is so insistent on holding mothers at arms length and dropping them in a pit together to see who survives?

The comment came out of a puff piece about moms who gather together at play dates and simultaneously pop the cork on a bottle of wine. Somehow it turned into a debate, lead by Vieira and flanked by "expert" Dr. Janet Taylor, about whether mothers should drink at all in the presence of their children (unless of course there's a man around, or in the event of a neighborhood/backyard barbecue ... you know, where men might be socializing, too).

The reasoning? Just in case these silly women all get schnockered, a kid falls on his head and requires a trip to the emergency room. Lordy, who would be able to drive? (I suppose no one ever considered an ambulance for that relatively rare scenario, but I digress.)

I've been watching the backlash with some degree of humor.

There are people applauding who admit to being raised by alcoholics, and who have themselves shunned the bottle. And there are mothers who are simply indignant about being compared to a babysitter.

It's was a boneheaded question to ask for sure, even if she can't admit it. (Viera has defended herself by saying she thought -- and still thinks -- it was a fair question.)

But what seems even more humorous to me is that today the show revisited the piece because they got such a HUGE response, presumably from "both sides."

Vieira had toned down her admonishment of the moms slightly, but the rhetoric is still there: Drinking is bad on a playdate; it means MOM COULD BE OUT OF CONTROL and SELF MEDICATING.

What it's also saying is there's only one way to drink: dangerously.

The idea that you could have a playdate for yourself as well as your kids, include an adult beverage and let it go at that is an alien concept, and yet is it?

Do I really think the people at TODAY believe this dreck their spinning onto the airwaves? Not in the least. I don't expect fair or balanced, because fair and balanced would require something other than "SHE says" and, in this case, "She responds." Some semblance of truth should be part of the equasion, too.

I suppose we'll all just have to bide our time and wait for the companion piece about dads having a beer at a ballgame with junior in tow. ... Let see what kind of ratings they get then ... Oh, wait. They're not going to do that story are they?

I for one am changing the channel. I refuse to listen to any more useless infotainment masquerading as journalism.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Out of the mouths of babes ... and their mothers ...

Don't you just love how cute they are?

Like just the other day, we're driving in the car, pretending to see all manner of forest flora and fauna, when, during a calm in the game, she comes out with this little gem:

"... and I just had to say shiT."

Oh yeah, she's been listening quietly all this time. Saying nothing but taking it all in.

Last week, when I dropped the glass and it shattered into a billion pieces on the kitchen floor?

What did I say?

You bet I did.

Last month, when I noticed someone other than me did the laundry and dried my wool sweater in the clothes dryer?

What did I say?

You guessed it.

And countless times before that?

So why did I think that she wasn't listening?

"I say shiT sometimes, too, mommy. shiT. You say shiT sometimes instead of 'Oh Bother.'"

I was practically crying I was laughing so hard.

There are no bad words (only words that will make your babysitter and your teachers swallow their tongues or send you to the principal's office). There are no bad words. There are no bad words. Okay. Stop laughing. Stop laughing. She hears that, too. It bolsters her resolve. There are no BAD words ...

"Ok. I don't want you to say that word. You say 'Oh bother.'"

"But sometimes you need to say Oh ShiT."

"I know that sometimes it slips out, but it's not a word that makes people happy. Some people may be offended by that word. A better word is Bother. Or Pooh. Or Drat. Why don't you say Oh, Pooh bother? I like the sound of that: Oh, Pooh bother!"

"But I like shiT."

"I know, but it's not a word you should use until you're older."

"When am I going to be older?"

"Too soon for us, not soon enough for you."


Monday, February 05, 2007

Prescription: A dose of silly

Sometimes all you need is a little bit of silly to get through the day.

A little bit of silly will erase some of the eyerolls and the heavy sighs that accumulate during the winter confinement.

A dose of silly (and a pre-warmed car, stretchy mittens and a fleecy hat) will protect you from the -8 degree day when your spineless mom lets you leave the house wearing only those things, your too-small winter coat, shoes and tights. (Yes, I let her leave without her pants on).

A little more silly can make bathtime not so so much of a chore, bedtime not as excruciating and wake up time the best time in the world. Every day is something different: You never know how many penguins will be taking turns sliding down the neighbor's roof; or how many puppets the purple puppet eater will want to eat for breakfast or when Ernie and Bert will surprise you with a snowball fight as you head out to start the day.

Silly keeps it interesting.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Nothing like raging hormones and life changes to get that blood flowin' ...

And so it begins. Anxiety.

The myth people like to tell you, unsolicited, about two being just as easy as one ... the lie that at some point makes you realize you got it all wrong: That maybe you had actually heard "three are just as easy as two," or that "a half dozen are as easy as four." No matter, the reality we all tend to forget is that ONE isn't always that easy.

And so, along with this little nugget of psychosis, I will tell you that the 19th nervous breakdown of Ought Seven is about child care.

Innocently enough, Lori -- the woman I refer to as The Other Mommy -- asked me what my plans were now that Thing 2 has secured a spot in the pecking order. I had assumed (and we all know what happens to those who ASS U ME) that he would just squeak in under the radar.

I mean, hadn't we talked about the possibility of a second? Hadn't I planned and planned and been disappointed for fifteen months?

Hadn't I? Hadn't we?

But no. Lori has already taken on a second child - the most an unlicensed, in-home daycare is allowed to take without jumping through the flaming hoops of Big Brother. She's not interested in getting her yard fenced or having to have strangers in to inspect. She's happy with the status quo.

I can't blame her.

But this miracle that was fate more than three years ago seems to have evaporated.

Many of the same impediments returning to work that I discovered three years ago are still there. Infant placements are near impossible to come by; if you find one you have to take it and pray the people are well suited to their jobs.

While Lori's suggestion was to have Ittybit continue to be with her five days a week and the new baby come to her two days a week (when her other charge is elsewhere) I knew for my own mental health, the only scenario that would work (that still included her) was to have the baby come to her five days and find a new place entirely for Annabel.

Afterall, finding reliable toddler placements should be easier than finding an infant placement. None of the options, though, are ideal. Separating the siblings breaks my heart, and taking Lori away from Annabel tears it to pieces.

Of course the other option -- the one that REALLY scares the life out of me -- is that I quit my job, it's steady salary and insurance benefits and stay home.

That's where panic comes in.

My husband, while he makes a good income, works for himself in a potentially dangerous field. He moves and installs large-scale sculpture.

Maybe you can't imagine, but I think of nothing else besides the potential of an accident that ends his career, or worse.

But it's more than just worry about money and security. It's also the idea of identity. Jed has never considered packing up his small business to be the stay-at-home daddy. But it seems expected of me.

I have no qualms saying that I love being a mother but that I don't want my job description to be MOMMY. I don't want to stay home and sing songs and stop fights and try to entertain the kids while cleaning the house and trying to figure out dinner.

I don't want to let my IRA lie dormant and my savings dwindle. I don't want to risk our future, my future and the kids' future educations because one of us will be paying all the bills. I don't want to have to ask Jed for money to buy myself some little incidental.

In order for this one-income option to work, Jed will have to take more jobs, travel more often and just generally be away.

Jed has said he wants me to be happy, and that he will do anything he can to ensure that we are taken care of; that the insurance doesn't lapse and that I have help. But ... what happens then? What happens when, for the first time in nearly 20 years, no one is paying me to write or take photographs? What happens when I don't have money of my own? Income of my own?

It's not as if I have a killer job; but I have a comfortable one. A job I'm use to, and one that makes me feel secure even if it's not set in stone. Just the thought of pounding the pavement in a few years, trying to get a new job when the kids are back in school, when I'm in my mid to late 40s, makes me want to vomit.

It's been difficult enough to get jobs thus far. I can face the truth - I don't make stellar first impressions.

So while I was over having a heart attack for a little while, Jed bringing home information about private health insurance yesterday, smiling as if 'now everything will be alright,' made the bile rise right back up into my throat ... or was that just gestational heartburn?