Friday, August 29, 2008

A place in my heart

Dear Silas,

You walked over to your sister last night and gave her a bear hug around the waist. She kissed you on the head.

It was bedtime.

Both of you were taking spins on the wheeled cars in the hallway. She was careening past you while you were pushing yourself along, slowly.

Time for bed.

You followed her down the hall and into her room. She let you play in her closet.

You were quiet.

As we were reading our books for that evening - "The Mitten," "I Love You," and the next chaper of "Alice in Wonderland," you interjected.

Clawing your way onto the bed, you first went for the books and then for the play tent your father recently repositioned for optimum purposes of princess pretending.

But the bedtime, right now, is only your sister's. She has a bed. And a room, and a routine.

After she was tucked in, kissed goodnight and the lights dimmed I closed the door and walked to the space that will be yours.

The room is an afterthought: A corner leftover from renovations. A place for weary travelers to spend the night. It has a trundle bed I bought at a yard sale for $15 and a dresser I bought for you.

Nothing else.

No windows. No real doors. No space for much else besides walking in and out (or through).

When the ultrasound technician waved her magic wand and told me you were a boy, my heart sank. I wasn't disappointment because of you, however, rather I was disappointed for you. I knew this room would be yours. And I felt it wasn't enough.

Since then you've settled into our lives, but not really into our house. There is not place that's really yours. I've put it off. You were, afterall, a baby. A part of me could justify your being still a part of me. At night, in bed, with you kicking gently into comfort, I am reminded of when you were kicking on the inside. I can imagine you are still a part of me.

That night, as your sister settled down to sleep, I took you into your room thinking I might be inspired. You had no urge to get down. There was nothing for you here. Maybe some shelves for toys would make it more welcoming? Maybe a plush rug? Still nothing.

I heave a sigh and snap off the light: "I'll think on this tomorrow, boyo. Tonight you are still a baby."



Thursday, August 28, 2008

Fear mongering is NOT a public service, part II

I have to say my faith in the system has been ever-so-slightly restored. Only it's not the US - as a government entity - that's done its homework, its a group called Judicial Watch.

Get a load of this.

My faith will greatly be restored if politicians would heed Judicial Watch's advice and not mandate this drug for our girls.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Fear mongering is NOT a public service

7 a.m.

He handed me the bib.

It read: “Babies Sleep Safest Alone.”

I took it, thanked him, and used the blue-fringed bit of cloth to clean the toilet.

“Babies sleep safest with mommies who wake up to their needs,” I muttered to myself, knowing full and well that some mommies and daddies are able to do their best jobs as parents when their infants are crying it out down the hall.

I don’t judge. How could I? They know themselves better than I do. They know their kids better than I do, too. I don't believe they are inflicting harm on their children. By the same token, however, I also think parents who have adopted the family bed sleep style - those who have made the informed decision to do so, anyway - are not endangering their kids’ lives in the least.

My vantage point in this belief comes from being on both sides of the debate: Our first baby thrashed and squawked until she was put down in her own crib next to our bed. It seemed pretty natural. She was still in our room, and I would wake up at the slightest sound to check on her in the night. She moved to her own room at around a year, and we all started sleeping through the night again. The doctor assured us, if she needed us we'd know.

The second baby wanted to be held and cuddled and soothed. Perhaps it was the circumstance of a rough recovery from his birth and my inability to get up and down for night feedings that made him accustomed to my constant presence. For the most part he slept soundly in the crook of my arm or on my chest where I could not only hear but feel him breathe.

I can't report whether either of my kids' sleep patterns are good or bad or normal or abnormal; all I can say SHE still wakes up some nights and finds her way into our room, and HE is he is a BABY. He sleeps like a baby. But he won't be a baby forever.

So ... the long and short of it is this: I've become fond of co-sleeping. I think when done correctly, it can rewarding. I think parents should consider it one option of many.

The American Academy of Pediatrics doesn’t agree. It has come out solidly against co-sleeping for reasons of safety. Joining it in its efforts are the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission and – not so surprisingly – the Juvenile Products Manufacturing Association (the association for people who make cribs).

Between the lot of them was devised this four word campaign of public disservice.

While acknowledging that co-sleeping is widespread in many cultures, the AAP notes that “what’s often overlooked is that in countries where co-sleeping is routinely practiced, families almost never sleep in beds with soft mattresses and bulky covers. A baby may be less likely to smother when the family sleeps on a floor mat with only a light coverlet.”

However what the AAP overlooks seems mind boggling.

It seems as best as I can tell from reading, the reasoning all hinges on a three-year study in which 180 children (in an age range containing 12 million) died in bed with their parents or siblings. It makes no mention of the circumstances surrounding the deaths: Who was the adult? Mother? Father? Babysitter? Were they obese? Were they intoxicated? Taking medication that causes them to sleep more deeply than normal? And it doesn’t compare information from the same time frame that shows thousands of children died in cribs.

What’s really in play here is the imperfect world.

*We cannot know which parents will drink too much or abuse drugs.

*We cannot know how medications will cause each person to react.

*We cannot know who is in an abusive relationship, and who might turn to infanticide if stress becomes unbearable.

*We know there ARE dangers. There ARE reasons people SHOULDN'T co-sleep even if they want to.

And since we cannot know those individual things we, therefore, cannot condone. We'd rather put our overwhelming trust behind manufacturers to keep us safe. We'd rather trust an increasingly overburdened and financially strapped government agency to inspect and verify the goods.

The question I really don't understand is why? Why do we look at the family bed deaths of 180 infants, shake our heads and mount campaigns while thousands of infants die, alone, in cribs, and not draw the conclusion that EVERY SLEEP SITUATION HAS THE POTENTIAL FOR HAZARD?

According to one report, more infants die each year in house fires than died in adult beds for all three years of the study, many of whom might have been saved if their parents could have reached them.

It shouldn't be lost on us that it is the AMERICAN Academy of Pediatrics is in America where we have real issues with societal norms and differences. Nor that the AAP's precautions about sleeping arrangements go beyond the immediate safety concerns into the more social ones as to why it believes parents are co-sleeping in the first place: It suggests that parents who can’t afford to purchase a safe crib should be directed to financial aid; if the parent is sleeping with the child to “offset loneliness” it suggests counseling. It even goes as far to recommend that babies can be buffers when the marriage is troubled, and again recommends counseling.

All of these things make sense when looking at both hard data and anecdotal evidence, especially if you infer that their target audience is the poor, the illiterate or the potentially drug addicted. Or if you believe that coddling babies is making America soft.

But the truth -- especially about safety and sleep -- can't be gotten to in four words.

The real public service would be to explain how to we can be safer in whatever choices we make. How we can make the best choices for our own individual lives.

The only problem seems to be that the information won’t easily fit on a bib.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I don't think so

silly mommy, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

Do I really need to explain what this look is all about?

I don't think so.

Do I really need to explain that whatever it is I've said has been met with skepticism?

I don't think so.

I could have said, "The sky is blue" and her answer would have been, "I don't think so."

Do I need to mention that we're never ever ever - not in a million years - going to be able to save up enough money for college for this one?

I don't think so.

Let's nope there's still money for scholarships in 14 years. ...

*Please don't say, "I don't think so."

Monday, August 25, 2008

Reason #523 why I am not cut out for polite society

We came, we saw, we were amazed ... We got the t-shirt

#524 - I spent a considerable amount of time explaing WHY people should bring their kids to see a variety act performing in Hudson over the weekend that had been featured on HBO's Real Sex series.

#525 - I've spent a considerable amount of money to hype the troupe passively (by buying and wearing their T-shirts) since witnessing an "adult show" a few years ago.

#526 - I didn't even send a change of clothes today - you know ... just in case something accidentaly got spilled on the more titillating parts of the design.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Turning that corner

dinner, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

... between baby and boy.

Sitting by himself in a chair.

Eating from a plate.

Drinking from an open cup (sometimes).

And now saying words.

Unmistakable, only-mothers-and-caregivers-can-decipher WORDS:



"Gape" (grape)

And ... when referring to the one he used to call "Mama" ...


*Gee, the teenage years come at you quick..

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Ties that bind

friendship ties, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

She may be raised in barn, but Annabel most certainly grew up in another house.

Lori's house.

Friendship has kept us in contact in the year since circumstance forced us to part ways.

However, necessity brought us back, at least for a day.

Sunday evening, after the babysitter had called to say she couldn't take the kids after suffering a serious asthma attack, I scrambled for coverage. I could take Silas to work, recycling is still fun for him, but Annabel needs more stimulation.

Jed was away, my parents need all the stamina they can conserve for extended child care needs, and I couldn't really take the day off.

I called Lori and asked her if she could take Annabel.

She quickly said yes. It was a kind of floodgates call.

All the old loves come rushing back, and even some new ones that we didn't know we had.

When we tumbled through her door the next morning - loaded with bags and toys and changes of clothes - it was as if time had never passed.

I sat on the floor with my cup of coffee and chatted while Annabel made for the coloring books. Silas, once he'd gotten his bearings, demanded release from the carrier and made for the bucket of wooden blocks.

In a few minutes I felt a distantly familiar hand ... on my ass ... pushing me toward the door. Annabel wanted Lori all to herself.

There were things to do: Play Doh to be sculpted, dolls to be crafted and friendship braclets to be bestowed by her daughter to mine.

"You can go, Mommy. You can go now. Are you donna Go now?"

It shouldn't have surprised me when I bent down to scoop up the boy and make our way out the door and back to the car that he'd resist.

He wanted to stay, too.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Phoning it in

*Call Me*, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

I started this post with the lie: I've never really been a phone person. As I was staring at the words, however, I had to admit my mother would probably disagree (and would likely be able to produce the 1980s-era phone bills to prove the contrary).

So, I backspaced a coupla-four times trying to get to my point, which is that I've never been as comfortable with the spoken word as I have been with the written word.

It's not uncommon. Rare is the person that doesn't stay up late into the night on occasion wondering what it was they said and how they sounded. Recriminating themselves for talking too much or laughing too hard. Wondering if we've asked the right questions of shown enough interest. Worried, perhaps, we've shown too much.

I'm accustomed to the idea that if you have nothing to say you should say nothing. Even if you HAVE something to say, you might be better off not saying it anyway ... better people think you smart in silence than made wiser to your stupidity ... or something.

Whatever it IS that makes it difficult to pick up the phone and just TALK -- express interest ... show solidarity .... see what's going on -- becomes more intrenched in my psyche with each passing year.

I'm sure it all started out the moment I realized I really had no reason for calling in the first place. There's was no pressing information to relay.

As your lives continue to be filled with things other than parties and pub crawls, you become more cognizant of the potential for bother. The baby is crying. Dinner is on the table. Time is divided by focus ... or the inablilty to focus, as the case may be. In my own mind I think I'd just be adding to the noise.

The phone gathers dust.

I'm sure I will eventually get to the point where I make my husband dial the phone and address the person who answers on my behalf just to avoid the awkward starts and stops in the conveying of intent.

"Hello. This is Siobhan's secretary, Jed? Hi. Yes. She would like to know if you have any plans next Thursday evening? No? Well, the reason I (I mean SHE) asks is that she had a crazy idea that you and she and perhaps four other people (I will be phoning next) might meet at the movies for a girls' night out?"

In social situations silence is hard to maintain.

It's uncomfortable.

And the reciting of unwritten transcripts will haunt you for nights to come.

How often I'd like to tell people, "just read my blog. I make more sense there than here."

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Work. Space.

A comfortable chair ..., originally uploaded by toyfoto.

I can't tell you how wonderful it has been to bring my boy to work.

It's not ideal by any means. Not only is the place filthy with grime and often smells of printers' ink and press solvents, the boy - when awake - is into everything and everybody. So, while it's not something I'd want to do on a daily basis, every so often when the sitter calls off her services (on account of sickness) or the doctors' appointments make the commute to and from and to again about as comprehensible as driving to Florida for the weekend, it's nice to know work still works for the kid.

All we need is good ol' friend recycling, a phone and a comfy chair

... laptop optional.

Monday, August 18, 2008

What summer vacations are made of ...

Clockwise from top left:

Baths - Ama Linda has a tub. We. Don't. (But I'm not bitter).

Pesto - Ama Linda knows how to make and cook with basil. And she let's grandchildren sit on the counter.

The Backyard Birdsong Guide (for Eastern in Central North America) by Donald Kroodsma - and gifted by Aunt Bambi. Hours of fun. (And SO much better than the call of a rubber chicken.)

Cocoa - Lots and lots of chocolate products.

South Portland - where we have friends willing to cook for us and put up with our shennanigans.

Candlestick bowling - on a rainy day. New tradition, right there.

The light in Ama Linda's stairwell - 'round about noontime - it's golden.

Cocktail hour - begins upon arrival ... right on the dot.

Flashlights - They're always some fun.

Off line and out of touch - except for the DVD player in mama's computer ... and when the family parks in the driveway of Bufflehead Cove Inn and captures a whiff of its wireless.

Bowling - So much fun it's worth a second mention.

Bathtub - Of course there's also an ocean in Maine and we availed ourselves plenty ... I just didn't bring the camera this time. Beach sand and gadgetry don't really mix.

And central to it all. ... of course ... is the mid-day nap It, above all things, is what summer vacation is all about.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Just keep swimming (please)

and then there was one, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

It's summer.

I've worked for 11 years in the same place and have accrued four weeks of paid vacation time.

The next five workdays will tick off Week # 2.

We had so much fun in Maine ticking off lots of people during Week #1 that we're going back.

The house will be monitored by the sole surviving member of the swim team.

He's going to be feasting on time-release tablets, so he won't starve.

Snicker all you want; but I wouldn't try to break in and leave any garbage at our place, though. This guy is MEAN.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Can't say, not knowing

genie, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

What is this? What are we seeing?

Her first response to virtually everything is to break down in tears. Always.

Sometimes the tears are real. Sometimes they are crocodile. It's not always easy to tell one from the other.

We try and analyze what we're witnessing. Tired? Hungry?


We are working on our poker faces and our resolve to stay out of the fray. She's got to figure this out herself.

She knows how even if we do not.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

How about them apples?

Cub Reporter pitches story ..., originally uploaded by toyfoto.

I've begun calling Silas "The Ambassador."

He is working his way into the hearts of just about everyone he meets just like his sister has, only using an entirely different set of tactics.

Where she steamrolled her way in -- peppering her new friends with complex questions and leveling shrewd observations their way -- he is quietly reading people and taking notes. The more comfortable he gets the farther he roams and the more liberties he takes.

Take yesterday, for instance. After he gave up his good old friend Recycling and defeated the neerdowell Hat Rack, Silas settled down in the center of the city editor's desk (having demanded to be put there by trying to hoist himself up) and just stared at our man Franco until he was given a reporter's pad, a pen, a highlighter and a small lesson about the evils of tabacco and caffeine.

I had to shake my head: Here is another child of mine who already knows more about winning friends and influencing people than I will ever understand.

Seriously ... I'm beginning to think these apples of mine have managed to catapult themselves REALLY far from this tree.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Hat Rack meets its match

en guard

Good old friend Recycling has a rival ...

the lanky, neerdowell Hat Rack.

Sir Silas, with his faithful pal Back Scratcher, has taken up battle.

Hat Rack hasn't got a chance.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Secret escapes

up the skid, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

Ever get the feeling that you have found the perfect place?

Sure its public, but somehow the spot seems to be off the radar.

That's what we learned about Schodack Island State Park this past weekend.

Tucked alongside approximately seven miles of the Hudson River in Schodack Landing, the park, which has also been designated as state estuary, is situated on more than 1,000 acres of field, forest and riverfront. A portion of the park shelters a Bird Conservation Area, which is home to bald eagles, cerulean warblers and blue herons that nest in the cottonwood trees.

The park also features boat launches, eight miles of multi-use trails*, volleyball nets, picnic areas with grills, playground and restroom facilities.

We went on a beautiful day that was interrupted only momentarily with sun showers, and it was almost as if we had the place to ourselves.

Cost: $6 per carload.

*note to hikers: stay on the path (there is poison ivy) and beware of mud wasps.

Friday, August 01, 2008

These things I wish

These things I wish

*That no one ever calls you stupid when they disagree with your opinion.

*That no one ever makes you feel stupid for thinking differently.

*That you never attack a person's intelligence because you disagree with their thoughts.

*That more people would come to understand we are not only responsible for our lives, happiness and prosperity, but we are also responsible for others'.

*That fewer people used the word "unfortunate" while meaning "undeserving."

*More so than anything else, I suppose, I wish we'd realize we can't always put ourselves in someone else's shoes and know how to walk down their path.

These things I wish.