Wednesday, December 31, 2008

And So This is 40...

 
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Here I am. Forty. My 30s are gone, a new decade begun. Officially middle-aged.

It's very odd to have a birthday on New Year's Eve, no matter what age you're turning. You're not just another year older - you have to count down until the whole world is another year older, too.

At least I have company.

Add to it the fact my sister was born on the exact same day, six years earlier. My mother likes to tell anyone who'll listen that we're really twins. Imagine THAT gestation. The other thing that we heard constantly growing up that, since my dad was a CPA, they got some nice tax deductions.

At any rate, I never imagined I'd be pregnant at 40. Isn't that the old joke? Better to be 40 than pregnant? Well, now I'm both. Thirty weeks pregnant. Forty years old. The good news is my belly is so big I can't see if there's anything turning grey Down There, if you know what I'm saying.

So for me, this is what preggo and 40 looks like (don't worry, I won't chew off your arm if you get too close; despite how, um, chubby I appear, I do have SOME self-control when it comes to ingesting anything within reach).

 
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Really, it was a fabulous day. The kids made me breakfast. They were quite proud. And I don't think anyone even stuck a finger in a nose to add some extra "flavoring."

 
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David then took Sawyer and Sage on a hike and to the park. I dashed out to the mall, where, in a huge score, I purchased the dress in the pictures - it was marked at $34, but when I went to the register, it rang up at $17! Still exciting, even though it IS maternity.

We had a big night out planned. David surprised me with tickets to see Wicked up at the Pantages Theater in Hollywood. I was SO excited; I'd read the book years ago and had wanted to see the show, but we never seem to do stuff like that.

I got all dressed up and felt like, you know, a grown-up.

We grabbed a quick dinner and headed up to LA. The show was AMAZING. I swear I kept tearing up by the wicked awesomeness of it all (yeah, I don't get out much). It was David's first show and he really liked it, too, which made it even better.

So that's how I spent my first day as a 40-something. I'm feeling pretty optimistic about how this decade is going to go. For me, my 30s were full of permanent life alterations: I met and married David, had two children, conceived another, and left my career. My grandfather died, then my father.

Big stuff.

I already know we'll be welcoming a new life into our world in just a couple months. And then it's back to trying to lose all the weight I've so competently put on. Back to running. I'm looking forward to feeling my body in motion again.

I'll need the energy: by the end of this decade, I'll have two teenagers in my house.

I guess the biggest lesson I'm learning is to live in the moment instead of looking ahead all the time.

It's something easy to do when you're on a long training run or in the midst of a marathon: you can't be thinking about mile 18 or 26 when you're only at mile 4. You just have to get through it and count your blessings along the way. You have to take in the scenery. Laugh with your training partners. Be thankful for the little stuff, like cloud cover, a slight breeze or a friend suddenly pulling out a pack of peanut-butter pretzels at exactly the right moment.

And when you think you can't go one more step, when your calves are cramping and the finish line seems an eternity away, remember that this too shall pass.

Love the good times. Embrace the tough times. Be open to what might be around the corner, but make the most of what - and who - is with you right then.

Don't look back too much, mourning the passage of youth and cuteness, but instead be secure in the hard-earned knowledge that you can still Kick Ass.

And so this is 40.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays!

What's that stupid song? It never rains in Southern California, or something clearly assinine like that?

The weather forecasters basically asked us to start building our arks. So we cancelled our plans to head down to San Diego today, stay overnight, and make our first trip to Sea World.

We'd heard it's empty on Christmas Day. And since I'm married to someone who absolutey refuses to go to Disneyland because there are, like, lots of other people there at the same time, it was the perfect time to go to such a place.

Sigh.

Let me just say right here that it did not rain at all today. Not. One. Drop. It had better freakin' POUR tomorrow. I want seven inches of standing water in my basement - if I had one.

So today, in lieu of the Wild Animal Park, we went to a different kind of zoo: the mall. It actually wasn't awful. We decided we'd take the kids to see Santa. We had to wait about 30 minutes. So we amused ourselves (and as a bonus, you can see my almost 30-week bump).

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Then it was our turn. Sawyer turned into velcro child and said he was scared. Sage assured him that she would protect him. And my little girl, who for the past two years has cried like she knew she was getting the coal in her stocking she so richly deserved, walked right up to him. And in her tiny voice said "Hi Santa!" and proceeded to climb right on his lap. A true Christmas miracle.

Even Sawyer managed a smile.

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Here's wishing you all a healthy and joyful holiday season filled with miracles, both big and small!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Mine is Bigger Than Yours!


I thought it was all about the sports cars. But I was wrong. I mean, when I made David sell his red corvette four years ago, he didn't seem particularly emasculated. Especially when we ended up with new carpets and flooring, a new oven and a new dishwasher plus extra cash from the proceeds.

Still, he loves loves loves cars. Especially fast ones. But with child #3 on the way, the chances of him getting one anytime in the near future are, well, zero.

Not to worry. He found something else.

Friday night, David called our neighbor R. The two have had a bromance going for awhile now. They go on romantic mandates to Home Depot, Target, and on one especially crazy night, they went to the batting cages.

Now David wanted to get wild at Sears. So the two of them set off. A few hours later, I heard our garage door open briefly and then close. David walked in the house, set down his keys, and came right up stairs.

Busted.

He'd assumed I'd be asleep. But no. I was wide awake (What Not to Wear was on!). So it was confession time.

He'd gone out, with encouragement from his enabler, and purchased a 46" LCD flat screen. The salesman even nervously asked a couple times whether David wanted to call his wife, but David pounded his chest and said HA! He didn't need to do that.

Different story when he laid down next to me in the bed to stammer and stutter about what he'd just done.

That was nothing. It was the next morning, when he stood at the bottom of the stairs and danced to his new song "I have the biggest one on the stree-eet. I have the biggest one on the stree-eet.

"It's even bigger than R's!"

Yes, people. Flat screens are the new phallic symbol.

He had a new spring in his step. He knows R is grumbling about it right now, thinking about how he might be able to, you know, someday overtake David in the size department.

Meanwhile, the TV is still in the box in the garage. I'm surprised David hasn't been snuggling with it. He's trying to figure out if we should mount in over the fireplace or get some kind of console to put it on. I am not joking when I say nowhere in our house - other than over the fireplace - do we have the wallspace to put this behemoth on, which is why he didn't get a 52".

I'm happy he's so proud of his...size. Even though I've tried to tell him: it's not the size of the TV, its the motion of the pixels. Or something like that.

Friday, December 19, 2008

See what I'm talking about?

 
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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

BirthGasm

I know all a few of my friends think I'm completely insane a true pioneer to be having an actual planned home birth.

Well, if they knew what I now know, they'd all be signing up. Really.

A recent documentary that aired on ABC's 20/20 has informed us that we've all been missing out on one of the great joys of childbirth: the ginormous orgasm that can occur as the baby passes through the birth canal.

The film, "Orgasmic Childbirth," is by childbirth educator Debra Pascali-Bonaro. She fills us in on one of the unknown parts of labor: that it's sexual and that, according to her website, pleasure during the process is "a neglected human right."

Sorry for this image I'm going to share, but the idea is that the child is coming down the same place where the penis goes. Of course, there might be a little bit of a size difference (except in MY house, right sweetie?).

Consider Amber Hartnell of Hawaii, who told ABC: "All of a sudden the orgasm just started rolling through and rolling through, and it just kept coming, and my whole body was spiraling and rolling, and I was laughing and crying." Said Tamra Larter of New Jersey: "It was happening, and I could hardly breathe, and it was like, 'oh, that feels good.'"

Um..yeah. I'll have what she's having!

Apparently there is no manual assistance going on. It's just the stimulation by the baby of the vaginal canal and the drastic influx of hormones - including all those crazy endorphins.

It also seems to help when your husband is caressing and kissing you throughout labor, as one couple did (personally, if my husband tried that, I would beat him over the head with the closest available object, which, in a homebirth, might just be my flat iron). The trailer of the film does show the sensual aspect of birth, such as massage and getting water poured gently down the woman's back, and is really not intended to send the message that child birth is a sex romp.

Basically, the point is that although not every woman experiences child birth as a pleasurable thing, it IS possible.

Now, as someone who has had an unmedicated home birth, I can assure you the LAST thing on my mind was the Big O. On the other hand, I did learn that child birth doesn't have to be excrutiatingly painful, as our society would have us believe.

You don't need an orgasm to have a positive experience. Pushing out Sage felt phenomenal. Not in a sexual way at all. It's just the awesomeness of being completely in control, of really understanding how strong my body is, and that a new life is moments away from arriving.

There is nothing better in the world.

I wish there was more out there about the option of unmedicated birth (I say unmedicated rather than natural, because I feel the only unnatural birth is if the baby comes out your butt. Which, come to think of it, it might feel excactly like that for certain parts of active labor) that isn't horrifically painful.

'Cause I don't think the idea of orgasm during birth is doing much to educate women. Or entice them, for that matter.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

To Pee or Not to Pee

... that is definitely NOT the question. Cause really, I have no choice.

It seems I've entered that delightful phase of pregnancy where you sneeze and pee your pants. Cough/pee. Laugh/pee. It's worse when you actually have to pee, but the other day, I peed at Costco, stood up, pulled up my pants, sneezed, and peed in my undies. I hadn't even left the freakin' stall yet.

Last night I almost wet the bed watching, over and over, that guy throwing the shoes at W. I know it's bad that someone could get away with launching not one, but two shoes at the President before being tackled. But the expression on Bush's face, and his cat-like reflexes...it was hysterical. I couldn't stop cackling. And peeing.

Guess it's time to drag out the Depends liners from my last pregnancy. The good news is I know this part only lasts a couple weeks. I feel like my preschoolers, having to carry extra underwear around with me. Then again, I've been known to smell like a preschooler lately.

Hopefully you will all join me in doing your kegels while you read this.

Not helping the issue is that I always carry super-low. My midwife came over yesterday for her first visit and confirmed. His butt is right below my belly button. He is in perfect position at the moment, which is nice to hear after Sage arrive sunny-side up.

She also mentioned that I have nice strong abs. Yeah, baby! I told her to thank my trainer. Who I haven't seen in months. But it's nice to know there's one spot that hasn't succumbed to the pregnancy sprawl.

Are you still doing your kegels?

Just checking.

Trust me. Your underwear will thank you.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Modern Technology

The other day I opened an email from my neighbor R. She was forwarding pictures she took the morning before at IHOP, where our families went to celebrate Sawyer's birthday.

I almost cried. Okay, I actually sniffled. Twice. Maybe three times.

R. is a fabulous photographer and a master of photoshop. The first is obvious but now I know the latter is true because it is the best picture of me I've seen since I left the first trimester behind.

My daughter looks adorable and R. thankfully erased the boogers marching under Sage's nose. R. didn't get rid of my round cheeks that seem to be on the verge of swallowing my eyes, but she made me look, well, almost pretty, which is an amazing feat on many levels, including that it was early in the morning and I had not a touch of makeup on (even my beauty mark has been smoothed away).

And since I've been in the pregnancy self-esteem smackdown for awhile now, it was a much-needed boost.



I appreciate all my friends who assure me that, since I was in such fabulous shape before I got pg, I'll have no trouble getting back there. Unfortuately I'm guessing my body is not interested in running two marathons in less than eight months ever again.

The thought of having to drop all this excess baggage isn't a place I can go right now, as I enter the third trimester. Twelve (or less, hopefully) weeks to go.

And then it all begins.

Hey, at least I can enjoy having porn-star boobs for a little while longer - and thankfully there will be no pictures of those beauties!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

High Five




Yesterday, when I snuggled with my son in his bed before he went to sleep, he was four. When he stumbled in my room this morning, he was five.

Just like that. An entire hand. Five.

I don't know why that number seems so big. Or why I'm having a tough time with it.

The first thing Sawyer did was drag me into my bathroom, turning on every light. He led me right to the scale, where he hopped on to show that surely he was bigger now that he was five.

He didn't even ask for any gifts. Not before we went to IHOP with neighbors and not even after we'd been back home for awhile. Then David arrived from a brief overnight trip. And the wrapping paper flew.

Sawyer couldn't stop thanking me throughout the day: for the Star Wars wrapping paper, for the two Star Wars ships, for his robe, his book, and, the Most Exciting Thing Ever - his Stormtrooper Blaster.

I'm guessing the thrill and ensuing dance was mostly based on my telling him he'd never be getting a gun. But as any moms of boys know, it doesn't matter whether or not you buy them one. If there isn't one at home, then there's an arsenal at the neighbor's house, and barring that, they'll find any stick, toy golf club or, if worse comes to worse, fingers will become a weapon.

It's in the genes. Just like my daughter somehow knowing the name to every Disney Princess before she'd ever seen a movie or book about them.

Really, though, Sawyer is not an aggressive kid (other than when he's playing Star Wars with all the neighborhood kids, smacking each other around with light sabers). He's actually quite sweet and easy-going. His teacher said he's open to being friends with all the kids and I shouldn't worry that he hasn't found that one special best friend yet.

The Year of Four was really a big one for him. He learned to ride his bike without training wheels. He learned to write his name. He dresses himself, puts away his clothes in the correct drawer, can get in and out of the car by himself and, occasionally, even puts away a toy or two.

What I'm most proud of is what a compassionate little kid he is. He asked me to bring in chocolate pudding for his birthday treat yesterday at school. Then he said "Wait, make sure you bring vanilla, too," because one of his friends doesn't like chocolate. What four year-old thinks of that? Or adding a toy to his Christmas list for the twins up the street because they'd lost a toy and he knows they're sad about it?

We visited his cousin last month, who showed him a karate kick and said "You don't know how to do that." And instead of being upset or competitive about it, Sawyer said "Oh! Can you teach me?"

He always tries to include Sage - even when his friends or cousin are telling her she's too little or calling her a baby. He is looking forward to showing his new baby brother the ropes.



I love seeing where his imagination takes him. Read him a page in a book, show him a picture, and he's off, creating his own adventures. Maybe he'll be a writer - if he ever learns to read!

I wish I could take credit for him, but I think he's all David. He's even-keeled, sometimes to a fault. He gets along with everyone and is really a happy, social guy. Good-looking, too. I unfortunately must claim his Spawn of Satan sister, who is stubborn, opinionated and independent.

I feel very fortunate and honored to be Sawyer's Mommy. He's not perfect, but he's perfect for our family.

Love you, Buns. Thanks for still letting me hug and kiss you even though you're now Five.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Panini Power!


You'll have to pardon me. I'm still in the midst of my happy dance - and I haven't even peed myself, which is a big victory for us preggo-with-third-child gals, let me tell you.

So, as you know, I abstained from Black Friday and instead went to Target on Sallow Sunday. I was hoping to find a panini press I saw advertised. After much searching, I found it was sold out. Shocker.

I don't know if you've ever tried to get a rain check before, but you actually have to write down the barcode and then bring it to the register. I guess this is their way of ensuring they never have to give a rain check, because who 1) knows they have to do this and 2) carries around a pen and piece of paper with them at the store and 3) has time, after waiting in line to pay, to then go back down the aisles to find the barcode.

But I was not to be thwarted. I wanted this panini maker. I mean, I REALLY wanted it. It was originally $39.99 and was on sale for $24. Much more reasonable price to pay for something that might spend more time in the cupboard than in use, but people, when a pregnant woman wants something food-related, I suggest you get it for her. Otherwise, she may chew off your arm.

I rummaged around in my purse. No pen. But hey - I'm a mom! Of COURSE I had a battered old red crayon in there. Actually, I think it's magenta. I also managed to uncrumple a raggedy old receipt on which to write.

I scrawled every number I saw on the product label that was stuck into the shelf. I triumphantly presented my tattered receipt at checkout. I got my rain check.

Today I went back to Target, only to find they were still out. Upon closer inspection of the rain check I saw that it's an item that "may not be replenished."

NOOOOO!

You will be astonished to hear that there is another Target less than 10 miles away - and right near Sage's preschool. So I decided to go before picking her up.

And there.

On the shelf.

Was my Precious. In all its shiny, silver glory. At least the picture on the box showed that it is, indeed, siny, silver and glorious.

I snatched it up.

The thrill of victory still sings through me. I slapped that rain check down at checkout and watched that beautiful sale price show up on the register.

And this, internets, is what my life has come to.

Excitement over toast. But at least it will be yummy, chewy toast!

Monday, December 01, 2008

'Tis the Season

To, you know, kill people over big screen TVs and play shoot 'em up at Toys R Us.

Black Friday took on a whole new meaning this year, when a 34 year-old temp worker was trampled to death as he unlocked the doors at 5 a.m. in a Walmart on Long Island. Not that the sight of paramedics working to revive him was enough to slow down those bargain hunters, no sirree. They just stepped over and around and continued on their merry way to the electronics department.

I'm surprised there wasn't a riot when it was announced the store was closing because of the death, but you know, some did complain that THEY'D WAITED IN LINE ALL NIGHT. ALL NIGHT!!!

Now the authorities are looking at surveillance video to see if they can indentify anyone culpable. And yeah, there were apparently A LOT of people Behaving Badly. But clearly, the ultimate guilty party is WalMart.

You have 2,000 people in line, many who arrived there at 9 p.m. the night before. Extra police were called in at 3:30 a.m. because of an unruly crowd, according to the New York Times. The mob was pumped up on adrenaline and who knows what else, ready to be the first to grab that 50" plasma TV WalMart was dangling in front of them.

Where was the extra security, or a wrist-band system, or something other than complete and utter chaos.

Ready. Set. Kill.

For a TV.

The whole idea of Black Friday is a set up for this anyway, right? I mean, it's survival of the fittest and fastest, and those willing to stay up all night. It is, in theory, supposed to be fun. You get to battle the crowds, pick up some bargains, then go home and laugh about it over leftover turkey.

Ha. Ha.

Check out my girlfriend's blog. She made the mistake of ever setting foot in a Toys R Us and got the fright of a lifetime as gunfire broke out in the next aisle - when she was separated from her husband and two kids!

The argument was not over a Star Wars Transformer; apparently two women - who eyewitnesses said had children with them - went at it over something. The men with the women started shooting - because you're always packin' when you go to a toy store - and both guys ended up dead.

By some miracle, no one else was injured in the crowded store, including my friend and her family. Thankfully.

It's a sad thing when you're happy you survived - literally - Black Friday.

That's why I'm all for Cybermonday today. I can avoid the hassle/possible loss of life at the mall. And it's just a kinder, gentler world sitting here at my computer. Until my kids try pull each other's arms off.

Tis the season!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Queen B Mommy

First, let me apologize that the pics in my last post aren't working. I don't know why, actually. But it's irritating.

Anyway.

Check out this blog called Queen B Mommy. It's all about a mom living in the OC. At least, that's probably what 99 percent of the people who don't live here think our life is like. If only! Anyway, it's a fun read. Let me know what you think!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

We're back

 

We just got back from a week spent at David's brother's house in Gainesville, Florida, where it actually got down to a brisk 29 degrees one night.

It was the first time the cousins had met (his brother and wife have two boys: one is three months younger than Sawyer and the other is six months younger than Sage) and thankfully they all got along. At least, the boys did. But the older one said he did not like girls and found various ways to torment Sage. Most of the time, Sawyer stuck up for her. When he wasn't trying to hit her with a light saber.

The three boys shared a room, with the two older ones on air mattresses on the floor. There is nothing like listening to two little boys giggle over who-knows-what before they fell asleep.

Meanwhile, Sage decided she needed to sleep between David and me, which left my large pregnant self clutching the half-inch of space left on one side of the bed.

Both kids were also sick (we delayed our trip a day in hopes Sawyer would recover) and we ended up taking them both to the doctor. Sawyer needed to do breathing treatments but luckily Sage just had a cold and no infection.

The kids spent a lot of time playing and coughing on each other. We show our love by passing on whatever hideous germs we have onto our family. Hopefully their boys have immune systems.

Saturday we had a Thanksgiving dinner and Sawyer sang all his Thanksgiving songs wearing his handcrafted, one-of-a-kind Indian head-dress.

 

I will spare you the drama of the plane ride home with my, shall we say, strong-lunged daughter, who enjoyed smacking me repeatedly in the face while I tried to buckle her seatbelt. I will instead remember her cuter moments, and once again, remain thankful the windows on the plane did not open.

 

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Breakup

I broke up with my OB today.

It was sad.

But I told her I guessed it was time to cut the cord. (Har har.)

As you loyal blogoreaders know, I want a planned homebirth for my third - and FINAL - child. And my OB, unfortunately, only delivers at the hospital. In the feet-in-the-stirrups position. IF she happens to be around that day.

So it had to end. We just couldn't make it work. I have finally found a midwife, which is great. Thing is, I really like my OB. Over the past six years, I feel we've really developed a nice rapport. She is Korean-American, so she can relate to my Korean mother-in-law stories.

She also now has three kids, and two of them had speech delay. She was the one who encouraged me to get Sage evaluated and directed me toward the proper resources.

A couple weeks ago I went in to have her look at a large, painful lump under my armpit. We chatted for 20 minutes before we got down to business. And she even took the time to advise me to get a new bra, as I was spilling out all over (one of the few side benies to being knocked up).

When I saw her today for my 24-week checkup, she said she'd just read this article in the New York Times. It's about, in part, how homebirths aren't just for crunchy granola treehuggers anymore.

More and more professional women are deciding that they want a different birth than one offered at the hospital, where the nurses want you to be quiet and still and flat on your back. And where after the birth, seemingly every employee wants to come in and poke you or your child - usually when you've just gotten the little bugger to figure out how to nurse.

I know that many of my friends think I'm brave for even considering a home birth. Turns out the medical establishment here also isn't in favor. According to the Times story:

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has had an official policy against home births since 1975, and this year it asked the American Medical Association to adopt a similar statement. The A.M.A. agreed, and in June also condemned home births.

“The A.M.A. supports a woman’s right to make an informed decision regarding her delivery and to choose a licensed health care provider” and “stresses that the safest setting for delivering a baby is in the hospital or a birthing center within a hospital complex,” Dr. Steven Stack, a board member, said in the statement. “Serious complications can arise with little or no warning even among women with low-risk pregnancies.”

In contrast, health authorities in Britain view home births as a safe option for women at low risk of complications. In April 2007 the United Kingdom Department of Health rolled out plans for a “national choice guarantee,” to be put in place by the end of 2009, ensuring that all women can choose among giving birth at home, or at a hospital or another facility, and still have access to midwifery care"


Kinda interesting that places with universal health care are more apt to support alternative births. I wonder if that's why the U.S. has the highest rate of Caesarian Section in the the industrialized world.

According to a story last year in the Washington Post, the rate of C-sections in the U.S. was at a record-high 29 percent of all births in 2004.

That's more than 1 in 4. Meanwhile, the rate of C-sections for those attempting home birth is well under 10 percent (2 percent of the births my midwife attends result in C-section).

My OB would prefer me to give birth in a hospital. Just in case. And I would, if there was one that allowed a midwife delivery. But there isn't, so my option is home birth - a service my OB can't provide.

In other words, it's not her, it's me.

Of course I'm nervous. Leaving security for the unknown is always a little scary. But I know it's the best decision for me.

Besides, my OB assured me she'd take me back if changed my mind. And she'll definitely take me back when she's just my GYN.

So it wasn't really goodbye, just so long for now.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Post-Election Buzzkill

There is nothing like knowing you can look your kids in the eye and tell them, unequivocally, they can be whatever they want. Because after watching last night's thrilling victory and speech by President-elect Barack Obama, there was no doubt yes, they can.

And that's still true this morning. That is, except in California, if they want to marry someone of the same gender.

Talk about a buzzkill.

I know there are bigger problems facing the country than the passage of Prop 8, which bans gay marriage. But the fact that I live in a county where more than half the people voted for intolerance is, quite frankly, sickening.

What I found stunning was, according to exit polls for The Associated Press, African American voters who came out in huge numbers to vote for Obama also voted in favor of Prop 8. So a race that was denied equal rights for so long voted to deny them to others. I don't get it.

So while I am full of hope for what our country can become in the next four years - a place of hope, action and renewed pride - it seems right here at home fear still has a stronghold.

I can only hope that by the time my children are old enough to decide whether - and to whom - they want to marry, Prop 8 will be as archaic as, say, laws banning African Americans from marrying whites.

Perhaps Obama's platform of unity for all will help turn the tide.

Yes, we can.

Right?

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

We Baracked the Vote

This morning Sawyer and I made a little detour at his school: we went to vote. I was thrilled there was no line, although I tried to look as pregnant as possible in case I had to clutch my belly and moan to get to the front of a potentially huge line.

Sawyer was pretty excited about the whole deal. We've been talking a little bit about the election. He knows who Barack Obama is. He likes to say his name, as does Sage. To them, it's happy and bouncy, not scary and radical.

Last week I took the kids to Borders, and on the main road, we passed hordes of people demonstrating for and against Prop 8. We were lucky enough to stop at a light near the much smaller group of "Vote No" supporters. I honked my horn, and the kids waved.

Sawyer of course asked what it was all about. I explained that some people want to tell other people who they can marry, and that Mommy doesn't think that's right.

He thought about that for a few minutes.

"But I want to marry YOU, Mommy!"

Yeah, but, see, there actually ARE laws against that. I just told him that Mommy was already married to Daddy. But it was very sweet.

Today on the walk to school he brought it up again, and became a little upset that everyone he mentioned was either 1) married, like when he suggested Barack Obama or Aunt Inga or 2) too young. I told him it wasn't something to be worried about, that there was some little girl (or boy?) out there who he might meet and marry when he's a grownup - just like Mommy and Daddy.

Luckily there was a lizard on the sidewalk and he found that more entertaining than our discussion.

I brought him into the booth with me. He was the one who pressed the button to vote for Obama. And to vote No on Prop 4, which wants to make minors get parental consent for abortion. And he almost hit the button too early on Prop 8, but I got the No in and I think he pressed the button extra hard.

My little guy then pressed the bright-red button to cast the ballot. I felt very proud. I told him someday he would be able to say he helped change the course of the country.

I swear I got a little teary-eyed on my way home.

Monday, November 03, 2008

It's all over but the candy

Another Halloween, another 5 gazillion calories waiting to be eaten. Probably by me.

I made a deal with the kids that if they turned in their Halloween candy to me, they'd get a toy in return. Not a tough deal to strike. Mostly I did it because I feel sad for Sawyer, who due to his peanut allergy, can't eat most of the stuff anyway. The kids got to keep a few safe things, like Skittles, but none of the chocolate.

Last year, this meant David and I waited til the kids went to bed and stuffed our faces with Reeses and Snickers. But this year, we gave most of it away to my mother-in-law as I don't eat nuts while pregnant. No one's ever definitively proven a link between eating nuts while pregnant and allergy, but I'm not taking chances. I ate peanut butter a lot while pregnant with Sawyer. I ate none with Sage, but we haven't had her tested yet. We just assume the allergy until proven otherwise (we hope to get her tested this week, but YOU try to stick a needle in that girl!).

Gad I miss peanut butter. Sigh. Given the choice, however, I'd pick my son over a large spoonful of crunchy heaven. Most days, anyway.

So the trick-or-treating went great. I have no clue how many houses the kids went to, but they were at it for more than two hours. All on foot. I was brilliant and brought along an extra bag to dump their candy into so they didn't get tired of holding their own little treat baskets.

Sawyer loved being Superman. Sage refused to wear her leotard and got tired of her wings, so she ended up in a pumpkin shirt and a tutu. I don't even have a picture of her. Doh!

But I do have a couple of random shots..




And, from a couple weeks ago, may I present the 20 Week Bump.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The tough part about home birth

I have been looking around for a midwife so that I can have a PLANNED homebirth - as opposed to my first one. And now, more than halfway through this pregnancy, I'm still seeing my regular OB.

It seems it is much tougher to find one than I thought. I mean, the actual birth is supposed to be the challenging part, not finding the person to help me through it, right?

The first place I went, which gives you the option of birthing at their center or at your home, seemed okay. I was late to the appointment, but the midwife I met with was nice and informative, though I was aware I was on the clock (they also took my credit card number when I made the appointment, because I would be charged if I missed it).

Then I met with two women to talk to me about the cost. They explained how everything worked as far as pricing and my insurance coverage. There were two plans, and if I paid everything up front, I'd save $500.

"So which plan works best for you?"

Huh? I'm sorry, but was I buying a gym membership or new car or something? I just told her I wasn't going to be making any decisions at the moment (WHAT do I have to DO to get you in that CAR TODAY?!?!)and that I'd have to talk to my husband and think about it.

"Well, we only have one opening left in March, so you need to make your decision as soon as possible."

Right. So I went home and thought about it, and came to the conclusion that this is the last business that should be giving me the hard sell. Thanks, but no thanks.

The next midwife I called told me she'd love to work with me, but she was going out of town two days after my due date. She'd have back-up, but there was no guarantee she'd be there for the birth.

So today I called my doula, who delivered Sage, to vent. She told me that if I lived in San Diego or Northern California, I'd have no problem choosing from myriad midwives.

But the OC isn't quite so progressive. The one hospital that allowed midwife births closed their maternity ward earlier this year. There is an atmosphere of fear of alternative birthing here - frankly, not surprising given the redness of this county.

What's the opposite of viva la difference?

My doula told me not to give up, that something would work out.

Later in the day I spoke to another midwife, one my OB recommends. She is opening a birth center before the end of the year. So if I work with her, I'd have to deliver there. A scary proposition, given the speed with which Sage arrived. But better than a hospital birth, providing he doesn't pop out in the car on the way there.

Childbirth is surprising enough without the uncertainty that I'm delivering in the best possible atmosphere for me and my baby.

The search continues..

Sunday, October 26, 2008

On a lighter note...


Every year we go to the OC version of a pumpkin patch, which is set up, shockingly, in the parking lot of a mall. They bring in straw and pumpkins and rides that cost $4 a pop (which is $8 when you have two kids. Poor #3 is going to have to panhandle if he wants to ride with his sibs).

We started going with our mom's group when Sawyer was 10 months old. We do a group picture every year, and I'm sure herding feral cats would be an easier task. It is fun, though, to look at the pics each year and see how much they've grown - along with their siblings.

This year's edition had 12 kids:


I guess we'll keep doing it until the kids decide it's not cool anymore to dress up in a costume and sit on a pumpkin. As if!

Other photographic highlights (and a shout-out to EllieBellieKids, who provided my butterfly princess' tutu):




A rare picture of me. Well, at least an eye and some teeth...



And finally, my attempt at being an artiste..

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Prop H8

As many of you probably know, there is a proposition on next month's ballot that would overturn the legal right of gays to marry in California. Proponents of Proposition 8 have spent millions of dollars to convince you that, in order to PROTECT OUR CHILDREN, we must make sure that marriage stays a sacred rite between a man and a woman.

I mean, it could be TAUGHT IN SCHOOLS.



Apparently, it's better to explain that some people get to do something, but other people don't. Kind of like how women used to not have the right to vote. And blacks and whites couldn't intermarry.

Legislating hate and bigotry by hiding behind religious morals is the worst kind of blasphemy. I'm not Christian, but from what I gather, isn't there someone else who does the judging? I happen to believe that anyone can marry, regardless of gender. So why is it okay for someone else to put their beliefs on me? I think we call that a theocracy. And depsite the religious right's best efforts, this country is still a democracy. I'm astounded it's legal to deprive human beings of a basic right.

Some recent letters to the editor in the Orange County Register have made me physically ill:

I'm so tired of the No on Prop. 8 zealots calling for tolerance of gay marriage. Why can't they just tolerate what millions of people for thousands of years have defined as "marriage"? We've tolerated their agenda for the last 30 years and watched as they started by coming out of the closet, pushed for acceptance, pushed for changes in our laws and even our military to fit their agenda. They have forced changes in state laws to allow them to get all the rights that are afforded married couples, but all that is not enough. Now they can't tolerate traditional, moral people and their churches.

According to them we're all homophobic, bigoted, prejudiced and, of course, intolerant. They need to look in the mirror. The rest of us have been exceptionally tolerant of their lifestyles and choices, but enough is enough. "Marriage" is and always will be defined as being only between a man and a woman. Learn to tolerate that.

Jeff McPherson, Laguna Hills


Indeed! Of COURSE they should tolerate it, just like blacks should've tolerated having to drink out of the "colored" water fountain. How DARE they? That damn gay agenda. Who do they think they are?

On Nov. 4 we will see the people's power, not the judges' power. We must protect marriage for future generations to come, and not allow the word "marriage" to be cheapened by allowing same-sex marriages.

Lee Jay Meyers, Anaheim


Yes. Cheapened. As opposed to the union between heterosexuals, with a 50 percent failure rate.

I am thrilled that there are no "Vote Yes on 8" signs up on our street. Still, I feel like I want to go up to my married gay neighbors' house and apologize on behalf of the horrible people who populate this county.

The only thing I can really do is use my vote. Which I will. And when my kids are old enough to ask why their friend has two Mommys or why the nice guys with the awesome golden retriever up the street live together, it will be easy to answer.

"Love is love. Just like people, it comes in all shapes and sizes and colors. It knows no boundaries."

Unless, of course Prop 8 passes. Try explaining to your kids why THAT is okay.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The unfit pregnancy

This was going to be the one.

The third time around, I was going to be one of those women who ran 12 miles, uphill, in 95 degree heat, hours before giving birth. I would gain the minimum amount of weight. I would be back in my True Religions 27 minutes after delivery.

Basically, I would do what I hadn't done in my first two pregnancies: not come close to outweighing my husband.

Yes, in the span of two births less than two years apart, I gained 100 pounds.

Say that slowly. Onnnne Huuuuundred Pouuuuuuunds.

The good news is I lost it. All of it, and then some. The fact that I ran two marathons in the past year did help with the "and then some" part. And considering I ran San Diego Rock N Roll a month before getting knocked up, one would think I'd carry over that healthy living into this pregnancy.

One would be wrong.

First it was the fatigue, which slowed my pace. Then it was the bizarre nightmares that kept me up half the night, thereby making it impossible to make the 5 a.m. wakeup calls to go hit the pavement.

Next came the unrelenting nausea. I still worked out with my trainer for awhile, but then I realized I was just wasting money: any exertion made me have to sit down with my head between my knees and praying I didn't barf on the carpet. Then there was the morning someone was making cinnamon toast in the back room, which almost sent me running to fill the nearest wastebasket. I am still in mourning for my formerly awesome biceps that have slowly softened into mounds of soft-serve.

I did try to run on the treadmill once, but found that after already carrying two kids, those muscles that hold up your belly ain't what they used to be. All the bouncing was painful, to say nothing of my suddenly visible boobs that ached like someone was knifing them with each step.

I went through a phase of about a month where even thinking about water made me want to retch. So I drank Sprite morning, noon and night. Which is highly unusual, since I used to down 64 ounces of SmartWater a day (thankfully, I am off Sprite and back on water). But all those calories!

And as many of you moms know, when you feel nauseous, sometimes the only thing that makes you feel better is eating. So you do. Constantly. Not that your head is stuck in a half-gallon of Ben & Jerry's Coffee Heath Bar Crunch every night, but it's the small stuff: pretzels, goldfish crackers - anything carby - that add up. And up. And up.

The only thing that has happened recently to keep me from feeling like a complete blob is, when I went to get my amnio a few weeks ago, it actually hurt when they stuck the needle in - because I don't have any fat on my stomach. They also said I was easy to scan for the same reason.

So I guess I'm lucky they don't have to go through my ass (and no, not the poop chute, the cheeks) or my thighs. Because Lord knows, they'd still be trying to delve through mounds of fat.

The truth is, I believe in the total body pregnancy. Why let my stomach get all the glory? Why not spread it around? I like to be well balanced, so I figure I can let my butt grow exponentially.

Even at 20 weeks, women who didn't know me before will comment "You're pregnant?" if I happen to mention it. I'm all "Um, yeah, I don't normally walk around with a matching ass/belly set!"

Thankfully, the baby is perfectly healthy, despite my best efforts to drown him in mallowcreme pumpkins.

I do gaze longingly at my cute clothes. I am now into the stretchy-stuff only for non-maternity wear, and figure I will burn my black Lucy skirts after I lose this weight - unless they disintegrate before that.

Even seeing my running shorts make me nostalgic. I am aiming for the New York Marathon in 2010.

But first, I need to get through this marathon of pregnancy, delivery, recovery, sleepless nights, nursing, and - oh yeah - getting back into shape.

Until then...Popcorn, anyone?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Electra is Alive and Well



In our house, anyway.

I'm sure you're all familiar with the Electra complex. It's that lovely time when your baby, who was a total Mommy's girl, suddenly discovers Daddy. And then Mommy becomes Public Enemy #1.

Now it's all Daddy, all the time.

The other morning, I got her her milk. Then when David came downstairs, she said "Daddy? I want YOU to get me milk. Could you dump this out and get me milk?"

It's Daddy she calls for to get her out of her crib. When David was away for a few days, she said she didn't want me to get her out - she'd just wait for him to come back.

She only wants to cuddle with him. If she gets up, and David and I try to snuggle, she will scream and cry and push me out of the way. Then, when she is back in position, she will smirk at me.

It is Daddy who she tells me she's speaking to; Daddy who must pick her up when she cries; Daddy who seems to always say "yes" after Mommy has said "no."

I should be thankful that she allows only me to do her hair.

Now, when Daddy's not around, she will permit me to acknowledge her. I am asked to watch her dance or help her with a puzzle. We do have our one-on-one times when I actually enjoy being reminded of what an independent, spunky little girl she is.

I know I shouldn't take any of this personally. I want her to have a close relationship with her dad, who is an all-around good guy and great father. I try not to feel hurt when she wrinkles her nose at me like I just let out a big stinky fart.

According to Freud (and Jung) she will come back around to Mommy.

I know I'll be waiting with open arms.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

A Race Like No Other Arrives!



So, as I mentioned before, my good friend Liz Robbins has written an amazing book about the New York Marathon. And now it's out on the shelves! You don't have to be a runner to enjoy the stories Liz weaves around one glorious day, but all you marathoners out there will be ready to sign up for the race like no other!

Here's the Amazon.com link. Also check out her new blog.

Anyway, great book by a great writer and an even better friend!

Friday, October 03, 2008

Is that a wink? A WINK?!?



People! What IS this?

I mean, is she just letting us know we're all in on the joke with her? Maybe SHE's just as aware as we are that her being on the ticket for the White House is ridiculous.

At least, I hope so. Because blogosphere, this is scary.

I still do not understand her popularity. "She's just like us." Really? I can name a gazillion ways she's NOT like us. For instance, most of the people I know can name a newspaper or magazine that they read, even if it's Parenting.

Women aren't threatened by her like they are of Hillary, who, by the way, has also been a working mom throughout her daughter's life. Palin has pretty hair and was a former beauty queen. No bright orange pantsuits or sensible shoes for her. Or an Ivy League law degree, for that matter.

They bristle when anyone questions Palin's priorities, as she has a pregnant teenage daughter and an infant with Down Syndrome - but they are fine with Palin wnting to legislate how we make the most private decisions in our own home, whether it's the right to choose, or to marry someone of the same gender.

It seems some want a candidate they can have a beer with or sit next to at their kid's soccer game. And while it's nice to have those people in our lives, I don't necessarily need to have them in charge of the largest superpower in the free world. But that's just me.

I want a candidate who is MUCH smarter than me. And frankly, I'm no dummy. But just because I've had a passport for more than 20 years (and no, Sarah, my parents didn't hand me a passport and a backpack after college and send me off to Europe. Some of us worked two jobs, just like you, and, in order to expand our horizons, made it overseas on our own) and live in a state that borders Mexico doesn't make me an expert in foreign policy. Hell, I used to live in South Florida, and Cuba is RIGHT THERE!

I want someone who has actually spent much of their time researching, exploring and thinking about our country and its place in the world, not someone who relies on folksy sayings, doggone it, or acts like "governing" a state smaller than the county I live in is the same as being a U.S. Senator.

That she isn't interested in the cause of global warming, just a way to fix it, is telling not only of a lack of basic understanding of the environment but an inability to go beneath the surface of an issue. And, perhaps just as egregious - a complete lack of curiousity.

What else would she like to fix without regard for the cause of the problem? The economy? Health care? Terrorism?

We can do better. We deserve better.

And we should be offended that John McCain doesn't think so.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

FAL days

Tuesdays and Thursdays are my FAL days - as in, Free At Last!

Yes, for the first time in almost five years, I have a few hours to myself those two mornings while the kids are in school (unless they're home sick, like they were last week, and my husband is conveniently out of town, so it's AKATT - All Kids, All The Time. How the fuck do homeschool parents DO it??).

Let me tell you how my first FAL day went down. David walked Sawyer to pre-k and I took Sage to her preschool - yes, I have two kids going to schools in two towns at exactly the same time. I dropped her off, she shed not a tear, and I hustled back to my car, knocking over two mothers with their babies in strollers.

I got into the car. Shut the door, and let out a primal yell that sounded something like "AHAHAHAHA! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!"

I then went to...wait for it...Target! I had to shop for Sage's birthday, which was the next day. I ran into the mother of one of Sawyer's former preschool classmates. She was there with her daughter and her 2 year-old son, who has some "issues" and basically screamed and yelled the entire time.

I did my happy dance right in her face. OH YES I DID!

Sorry that YOU'RE with your two crazy kids and I'm free to stroll around, filling my cart with such necessary items as a Hello Kitty Toothbrush and mallowcreme pumpkins without anyone demanding a new Transformer or a 5,000 piece puzzle.

SUCKAH!

Ahem. Anyway, it's not been all fun and games. I did get myself to the gym one time and jogged for 25 minutes. At a pace slower than my last two miles of my marathon. Today it was exchanging clothes at Old Navy and going to the grocery store.

I had more envisioned mornings of pedicures and Starbucks. But I've found there are too many errands to run and stuff to get done.

But you know, it's still early. I'm sure I'll figure out how to really make the time my own - probably right around the beginning of March, when No. 3 arrives and it starts al over again.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Yeah, hello?

Excuse me, Second Trimester?

I'm wondering if perhaps you didn't get the message that, at just about 15 weeks, I'm in your realm.

I know you're busy, gestating the creature and all that, but if you could spare a moment or two, it'd be sooooo great if you could possibly remember to give me that, you know, burst of energy? Because I'm still so exhausted I need a nap to recover from my nap. And I'm not clear that the Wild Cherry Pepsi I've been guzzling is really all that good for a developing fetus.

Also, and I don't mean to be a nag or anything, but I could REALLY do without the nausea, like the kind you dropped on me for the entire day of Sage's birthday party. Maybe it was your way of telling me to back away from the cupcakes. Next time, could you be a little more subtle?

I am really trying to get on board with this whole pregnancy thing. Frankly, it would be a whole lot easier if you would work with me.

Please?

I'll even promise to smile next time I tell someone I'm preggers.

Thanks for your attention to this matter.

Love,

Your Gracious Host

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Speaking of three..

Somehow, my baby is 3. THREE!

Why does it seem so much older than, say, 2? If I'm kvelling now, just wait til Sawyer turns 5 in December. That's a WHOLE HAND.

Two was a such a huge year for Sage. She went from only a handful of words to singing long involved songs about ballerinas in the sky that she invents. She learned the potty is to pee and poop on, not a place to wash her dolls. Her hair grew long enough for pony tails - and now she doesn't even cry when I put them in.



She likes to read her own books. Pick out her own clothes. Play with the trains while everyone else is playing with the cars.

She also really loves to snuggle with Daddy, to the point of shoving me or shouting "Mommy, get out of the way!" And she especially likes to tell Daddy "You're my honeybear, right Daddy? NOT Mommy!"



There were no tears when I dropped her off for her first day of preschool this summer - that is, not until the class was over. "I miss Mommy," she told her teacher. For the first few classes, she would tear up and look for me. But now she heads off like a champ. "I didn't even cry, Mommy!" she told me proudly Tuesday.

Tap and ballet class is her new passion (even more than Hello Kitty!). She smiles the whole time, like the teacher is holding a great big pink frosted cupcake in front of her. She's just waiting to be a "yittle bit bigger" so that she can play soccer like her big brother.

For now, I am very proud that she dances to her own beat.




Happy birthday, Sweet Loo. I love you.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

The Best Things in Life are Three. Right?

I thought I was in perimenopause. I really did. I googled. I read. I matched symptoms.

I mean, really, what else could it be?

This is what I told my friend on the phone over 4th of July weekend. Maybe I also mentioned that I had a tough time getting through my 8 miler a few days before, and that a three miler almost killed me that morning.

I'm sure I told her I was six days late, but after being five days late the month before, surely this meant I was, you know, getting old?

That's when she suggested the P word to me. I believe I said something profound in return, possibly Fuck Off.

But I did drive down the street to the store to pick up a pregnancy test. The kind that says Pregnant or Not Pregnant. I waited until Sage was down for her nap and David took Sawyer to the park to learn to ride his bike without training wheels.

Who knew I'd be the one unable to keep my balance.

I peed. I laughed to myself. Then I looked at the stick.

Pregnant.

GAAH! Yes. That was my exact word.

No more denial. I was almost six weeks pregnant. With my third.

I had to sit down. This was not supposed to happen. I mean, I know HOW it happened, but the timing...let's just say it didn't seem possible. But there I was.

Happy? Not at all. I was in, possibly, the best shape of my life. I had just run my second marathon the month before. I was going to run my third in December.

I turn 40 soon after that race. I was going to enter the next decade strong and fit and ready to go back to the Cayman Islands for a little child-free R&R with David to celebrate.

That was my vision.

So let's just say it's taking me awhile to wrap my head around the change in plans.

Everything was turned upside down.

Sawyer and Sage are finally at the age where they don't need me so much. They play together. They can get dressed. They're potty trained.

I'm SO done with the baby phase. I had no interest in entering it again.

Then there's the issue of logistics. Where would we put the baby in our tiny house? We'd already outgrown it with the four of us. How would we afford another college tuition? Forget retirement. David will be 62 when this kid is 18.

It just didn't seem real. Soon the relentless nausea and fatigue set in. As did the worry; once you've had a miscarriage, you never really feel comfortable that the pregnancy will stick.

I went in for an ultrasound a couple days after the positive test and, to my surprise, saw a strong, fast heartbeat.

The weeks went on. My training partners started to increase their distances. I couldn't keep up. I watched them, through tears, as they ran ahead of me, til they were out of sight. Soon, they decided to run near their homes. I haven't run since.

A big part of my life for the past couple years, the thing that had finally made me feel like more than "just a mom," had ended.

Now what?

A couple weeks ago I took the kids with my to my 12-week checkup. I had just told them that I had a baby in my tummy. They were beyond excited. So we went, and their eyes widened when they heard that distinctive "wockawockawocka" of the heartbeat.

They have been astonishingly sweet. Sage kisses my belly and, when she fell off our bed the other day, she cried and fearfully asked "Did I scare the baby?" Sawyer talks to it and asks if he can hold the baby when it's born.

He also asked whether my stomach would crack in half for the baby to come out. Imagine his expression when I told him exactly frow where it would enter the world.

So I will live though their wonder. I will remember that the creation of life is a miracle and a blessing. I will remind myself that soon we will not be able to imagine our family without No. 3.

Another journey. Not the one I had planned, but sometimes, those are the best trips of all.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Knock knock knock

Hello, old friend. It's been awhile. So long, in fact, that I didn't even remember the password. Do you remember me? It's probably a bit fuzzy for you. I'm the one who fills your blogoshperic pages with my esoteric ramblings, my literary prose - or, more accurately, my babblings and pictures of my kids.

Right.

Well, I'm back. I hope. I had to take a brief hiatus, all of which will be explained shortly. I just need a little more time to ponder.

Thanks to everyone who emailed/twittered/etc. I am okay. Mostly. And I look forward to posting more regularly. I have so much to tell you all!

Stay tuned...

Monday, August 04, 2008

Danielle's Story

This is an absolutely amazing story that appeared in the St. Petersburg Times. That this can happen in this country in this day and age is profoundly disturbing. But in the end, it is heartwarming to know that people like the ones who adopted this little girl also exist.

The video, slide shows and audio are also an excellent example of multi-media journalism.

Danielle's story

Saturday, July 26, 2008

It's All Good

video

Friday, July 25, 2008

Thank you

A very heartfelt thanks to all of you who reached out through the blogosphere to embrace me yesterday.

I've only met a few of you in person so it's amazing so many of you took time out of your day to share a few words of encouragement and compassion with me.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

It means more than you can know.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

One Year

And, suddenly, here it is.

One year.

My father died one year ago today, in a haze of morphine and Frank Sinatra music.

Does this passage of time, then, put the acceptance stamp on it? Does it make it more real, that my father is, truly, gone?

No. Because grief is not measured in an orderly number of days. There are times when it seems he's been away for a long, long time. Then there are those moments when the thought of not seeing him again is astonishingly shocking.

The sadness I feel is not just for me. It is for my mom, who will not grow older with the man she spent over 49 years. It is for my children, too. What joy he would've taken in watching a parents' sweetest revenge: my having to raise a child who is, in essence, a stubborn, opinionated mini-me.

And the anger. Yes, I am angry with him, for not taking care of himself so he could be around for my mother, for my brother, sister and me, and for his four grandchildren.

That has not dissipated. Don't know if it ever will.

But today, I just want to remember the larger-than-life red-head with the raucous laugh. The guy who would come home from work and throw sky-high pop-ups with a tennis ball for me to catch.

The one who smelled of Kent cigarettes and Old Spice.

That is our perogative, the ones left behind. We choose what we want to remember, how we want to remember.

Today, I just think of this tremendous loss.

Miss you, Dad.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Checked Out

I had some time to kill before I went to physical therapy today, so I was lured by the siren song decided to go to Target.

I picked up all those must-have, can't-live-without items like Kashi Honey Sesame crackers and a six-pack of glue sticks and got into the checkout line. There was one woman in front of me and an ancient checker behind the register.

I've seen him before and he's a cute old Asian guy so I don't mind that he's not as speedy as some of the others. Turns out, he was the least of my problems.

The woman, after putting all her stuff in her cart, decides to write a check.

That's right. A CHECK.

Who the heck writes a check anymore? According to WalletPop, the personal check is one of the top 25 things that are fading out in our country, right along with outdoor plumbing and dial-up.

It's pretty obvious why. First she had to scramble around in her ginormous purse to find a pen. Why she wasn't filling out the check while the guy was ringing up her stuff I do not know. Anyway, the pen doesn't really work, but she's gamely making a go at it.

Meanwhile, I'm tapping my fingers, rolling my eyes and snapping my gum like a high schooler waiting for a homeroom pass. Okay, maybe not quite THAT obvious, but that's what my thought bubble was doing

Then she has to fish out her license. Luckily, the cash register now reads the license, unlike back in the day when I worked retail and had to meticulously print out the drivers license number and expiration on the check, AND ask for a phone number if it wasn't already printed on it.

Finally, after I read in TV Guide how Viki is dead AND in Star how Cher is married and signed a $600 million prenup AND sampled some cherry and mango Tic Tacs AND texted the Gettysburg Address to seven friends, it was my turn.

In went the credit card. Out it came. Done.

See, lady? I wanted to say. But I couldn't. She was out in the parking lot, using her door key to unlock her car before manually unrolling the windows.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The Itsy, bitsy...AAAACK!



For the past few weeks, we've had this very cool spider living on the outside frame of our garage door. He built a nice funnel-like web, where he chilled during the day and came out a little at sunset.

We've never seen a spider like him before. He's brown, almost tan. We saw an orange hourglass on the bottom of his abdomen, but since he wasn't black, we knew he isn't a black widow. And he has this really cool tiling on his top.

Every time we pull into the driveway, there he is. The kids like to check on him, especially because Sawyer is way into spiders.

Then last weekend, he was gone. Just like that. I was actually kinda sad. Our own little nature study was gone. And then, two days later, he was back, like a sailor returning from a wild time on shore leave.

So today, I decided to once again search the internet to see if I could identify him.

GAH!

What we have here, folks, is a brown widow spider. The picture above is not our actual spider; it's one I found on the Web. They are reportedly MORE venomous than their cousins, the black widow, but are not aggressive. Their bites are more localized so you don't drop dead. But they do hurt.

So, when the kids and I went to the aquarium this morning, David went out in full battle gear. Actually, he just had a can of Raid.

Poor spider. Or should I say, poor dead spider.

I felt bad, but having a venomous spider in easy reach of my family was, you know, not so cool. And I'd never give a second thought to smushing it with the closest availabe shoe if it was in my house.

But there he was, minding his own business, just being his bad brown widow self. He was simply in the wrong place, wrong time.

Location, location, location!

Trouble with a T

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Training wheels are for babies!





Wait. Didn't he just learn to pedal his tricycle five minutes ago?

Another rite of passage for my little guy, another addition to the line that separates Baby from Kid.

Sunday, while Sage napped, David took Sawyer to the park with our neighbor and his twin sons (known as The Boys). David and The Boys' dad apparently got a wild hair to take the training wheels off the bikes.

I did not think this was going to go well. Sawyer, bless his heart, isn't the most coordinated child. In a lot of ways, he's physically timid. He was the last of his friends to climb or go down a slide by himself (although he rules in the pool). He told me he didn't go after the ball in soccer because he was afraid of getting kicked.

So riding a bike without training wheels? The same bike we got him for Christmas that he didn't even ride until about two months ago?

I'm sitting at home, and David calls. He puts Sawyer on the phone, and I hear "MOMMY!I'MRIDINGMYBIKEWITHOUTTRAININGWHEELSALLAROUNDTHEPARK17TIMES!" Rainbows and unicorns and cupcakes burst from his voice.

I have never heard him so excited - and so proud of himself. David said it took him 15 minutes, with the requisite tears and vows never to get on the bike again, before Sawyer just got it.

Who doesn't remember that exact glorious moment when you pedal pedal pedal and you're going and you don't notice that your Dad is no longer running along side you holding your seat.

You are, suddenly, flying. You are all motion and laughter and deliciously, gloriously free.

Then you freak out, and in my case, forget how to use the brakes. I got my tire caught in the sewer grate and did a beautiful front flip over the handlebars and onto the ground.

The best part is, I got back on. And so did Sawyer, even after crashing into the back of a car yesterday in our culdesac.

Riding a bike is a lifelong skill. If you can ride a bike, then you always can. It also gives me a glimpse into the future, of him taking off as he bikes to school or a friend's house.

With me just watching him
pedal
pedal
pedal
away from me.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Middle-aged Mom, my butt!!



Dara Torres is going to her fifth Olympics. Her fifth. No U.S. swimmer has ever done that. Think about it. Since she didn't compete in the last Olympics, it's a span of 24 years - she won the first of her nine medals in 1984.

Now she's 41. Her adorable, curly-haired two year-old daughter, Tessa, watched from the stands the other night, a lollypop twirling in her mouth, as her Mommy won the 100m freestyle.

Making the Olympic team completely blows out of the water the notion that women of a certain age must put aside their dreams because of a number. With killer abs and a long, lean body, Torres seems timeless.

The rumblings of steroid use that swirl around her are laughable. She's already been through that noise in her last Olympics, the 2000 Games in Sydney, when she won two golds and three bronzes - at the ripe old age of 33.

She was more than irritated. She decided to volunteer for extra drug testing, performed with the latest technology.

What pisses me off about the accusations is I think about all the hours she spends training: swimming lap after endless lap, lifting weights in the gym - all that time working out is time lost with her daughter, time she can never get back. Why would she do all that just to cheat?

Torres is already uncomfortable imagining life without Tessa for a month while she's in Beijing. Does this sound like someone who's on drugs?

She already has the glory. To take steroids to get back for one more go-around is ridiculous. She has nothing left to prove.

Torres' story reminds me of another Olympic hopeful. Aeron Arlin Genet runs Running Divas, which sells really cute running-related clothing. She sells her stuff at some of the big marathon events. I saw her at the expo for the San Diego Marathon. You might remember a certain purchase we made there:


Anyway, I asked her about her training. She was in the process of trying to qualify for the Olympic Trials in the 1,500 meters (the mile). We're talking somewhere below 4:30. Yes, that's under 4 minutes, 30 seconds for a mile. Try that at home, people!

She was shy by just a few seconds. She had a slight injury, but hoped she had enough to make it.

Did I mention that she's 40? She told me that she never imagined it'd be possible for her to still be competing at her age - against women half her age. I was in awe.

I checked her new blog recently, and unfortunately, she fell short of the mark and didn't qualify. But I loved how she said that she doesn't feel done. Not at all.

We don't lose our love of the rush. The desire is still there to push ourselves further than we thought possible. Even if we are not Olympic-caliber, we are out there, seeing how far or how fast or how long we can go. And we are stunned when it is farther, faster and longer than we ever thought possible.

Our bodies may be more beat up than they would've been 20 years ago. Maybe, like Torres said, we need bigger numbers on the scoreboard or timer to see them. Our eyes may be weaker, but not our hearts.

We are not our mothers' 40. We are our own. This is our time. And I pray that when Sage is my age, she sees not limitations, but expectations.

Today, Dara Torres set an American record in the 50m freestyle. I know I will be rooting hard for her next month - cheering for her, and for all of us "middle-aged" moms.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Hands off!

So you're driving, and some moron is swerving around in front of you. Slow down. Speed up. Slow down. Then s/he veers into your lane, completely cutting you off. Profanities (yours) fly in the air around you. And since it's before noon you figure s/he is sober, so there's just one other possibility.

That's right. The cellphone. Driving while chatting is especially challenging for those who are holding the phone with one hand and gesturing wildly with the other. Yet, those are always the people who are right in front of me.

Yes, yes, I also have been guilty of talking while driving. Sometimes it's the only chance I have to talk to anybody over the age of 4 1/2. Or maybe I'm just calling to check the timing of a playdate or whatever.

There was this one particular time when I was trying to call the editor of a freelance piece I was doing. I was using a Trio, which I'd just gotten, and I had no clue how it worked. I might have sailed through a red light - when the car in the other direction had a green left turn arrow. Luckily, he stopped, and I swerved and somehow missed slamming into a minivan. Scared the bejeebus out of me.

Anyway, this is no longer a problem. Why? Well, yeah, I got rid of the Trio. But California, as of July 1st, has made it illegal to talk on a handheld cell phone while driving.

And they aren't joking. Police are handing out tickets faster than you can say, "But, but, officer!"

No excuses. So when Cindy called me just before 6:30 on Friday morning, as I was on my way to meet her and Torrey for my run, I hit speaker phone and shouted "What, are you trying to get me arrested?"

Thing is, I don't get the whole bluetooth thing. Despite David's best efforts, I can't figure out how to work it. What do I push? How do I do it? I'm more distracted trying to flail at my ear than I ever was holding the stupid phone!

But apparently, this hands-free ordinance is a good one. According to scientists at Carnegie Mellon University, listening to a conversation while driving reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37 percent (okay, but wait. Are they also including listening to small children while driving? Because I have to say, acknowledging every make of car on the road that Sawyer can point out - "Look, Mommy, a BMW! Did you see it? Did you? Oh! There's a Lexus. Mommy! Did you see it?" - while Sage is singing Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star at the top of her apparently opera-singer sized lungs from the back seat isn't exactly conducive of concentration. Just sayin'.).

You watch drivers now, and they're all sporting some sort of device hanging out of their ear, like some sort of weird tribal marking. Or maybe a gang tag.

Now I have to figure out what to do with my suddenly liberated hand. Cause, you know, keeping two hands on the steering wheel is so Driver's Ed!

I guess the next time some cellphone-holding, law-flouting crazy cuts me off, it'll be no effort at all to reward him with a hearty, unencumbered one-fingered salute.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Endless summer

It's, what, early July, and I'm already over it?

Yes, people, I'm done with summer. It's not the heat (it's the humidity! badum-bum) that's getting to me. Or even the strange July Gloom that's starting to ruin trips to the beach.

I'm just, well, bored. I've got both kids full-time, which I haven't had in a year. Last summer, Sawyer spent six weeks going twice a week to preschool. This summer, he's not.

The mornings are semi-full of swimming lessons for Sage, trips to the pool, the beach club here in town (it's a pool, but it's walk-in and it's ringed in sand. The problem is they don't clean it nearly enough - twice a day would be perfect, not twice a week - and the ducks like to use it as their own personal litter box), and, fog permitting, the beach.

Meanwhile, I'm trying to fit in all my working out/training into the early morning hours, so after spending the rest of the morning out in the sun, all I want to do is take a nap. Unfortunately, Sawyer wants me to read him 713 books.

I'm a zombie by dinner. I actually fell asleep in Sawyer's bed last night after tucking him in.

I wish I was one of those moms like Melissa, who always seems to be doing fun/crafty things with her kids. I can never think of any projects that don't involve me someone getting frustrated and crying.

One thing I'm considering having them pick tufts of hair out of our shedding dogs and teaching them how to weave them into hats for the winter. Do you see what I'm talking about? Desperation!

I need a summer makeover. My poor kids, stuck with Boring Mommy. I mean, they always are, but I'm more exposed when I have to come up with something every day. EVERY DAY these kids want to, like, do stuff! The nerve.

I would love to hear what fun stuff you all are doing. Get me out of my rut, before I suck my kids into my vortex of ennui!

And for the best idea, I will send you your own dog fur hat!

ETA: Okay, upon further ponderance, I appear to be a self-indulgent, unappreciative simp who should be thanking my lucky stars that I'm able to stay home and have all this time with my kids. So in a small caveat, I must say that I AM extremely thankful.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Like, knock it, like, off!

My son is a talker. He will talk to anyone. About anything. It does not matter if you aren't talking to him. Ask Sage a question and Sawyer will fill you in.

He's always been verbally advanced, speaking in complex sentences before the age of 2. It's his talent.

But lately I've noticed something sneaking into his speech. I'm not clear how this happened. I don't do it. And we don't live THAT close to the Valley.

Here is an example of what he says:

"Mommy? Remember, when, I was, like, 3 1/2, and like, I, like, went, like, on an airplane?"

Ugh. He's already talking teenager at 4 1/2. I told you he was advanced!

What to do? At the moment I am sticking my fingers in my ears and shouting "LALALALA" so I can't hear it. Just kidding. But that's what I feel like doing. Actually, I'm just hoping if I ignore it it'll go away. Hasn't worked yet with the cellulite on my legs, but you never know.

I guess I should be thankful he's not yet inserting "dude" into every sentence, or various permutations of the word "fuck."

I'm sure he's just saving something for later.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

In Self Defense

We have a rule in our house, courtesy of local parenting columnist/author Sandy McDaniel: You hit, you sit.

Meaning, if Sawyer or Sage hit me, David, each other or the dogs, the offender has to sit immediately in time out. No warnings.

But now that Sawyer is 4 1/2, and, being a social little creature, is frequently playing with other kids, I am starting to wonder about that rule.

Because it seems to me that there are times he should be able to whack someone. Okay. There. I said it.

If someone hits him, at some point, he's going to have to hit them back or risk getting the bejeezus beat out of him by some idiot bully. Problem is, how do you explain this?

"See, it's okay to hit if the other boy is being an fuckwad and he hits you first, because you have to defend yourself. However, make sure you don't get caught, because usually the teacher/parent/coach only sees the retaliatory shot. Oh, and it's never okay to hit your sister, or a smaller kid, even if they are being a colossal pain in the ass."

Right.

I have told Sawyer that if someone hits him, he needs to walk away and tell me. Today we met a friend of mine and her two kids at the Beach Club. Her son, N, is 3 1/2, and her daughter, O, is 17 months. I think the kids were getting a bit grumpy by the time we left, and Sawyer and N started to squabble. And N kept poking/hitting at Sawyer.

To his credit, Sawyer told him to stop, but N didn't listen. So Sawyer walked away. Completely appropriate behavior. But there was a little part of me that wanted to see him swat the kid. I know, I know. It's just that sometimes I want to see a little fire in my boy.

He used to be so startled, as a young toddler, when a bigger kid would push him or grab his shovel or knock him over the head with a truck. He never fought back and I was worried about his easy-going temperment. At some point, I wondered if he would snap.

He never did. That is not to say that he doesn't engage in some toy-grabbing (especially from his sister) and other "physical" behavior now. He absolutely does.

The other day at the beach my friend's usually mild-mannered guy decided that Sawyer was talking too much and so he kicked him. Hard. Now, I know how that kid feels, because there are times when I desperately need Sawyer to SHUT UP. Still. Sawyer actually was hurt. And my poor friend was mortified.

She apologized again later, hoping none of us would think her child was a brute. We don't. He's a great little kid.

Nobody wants their child to be a bully, or to grow into some chest-thumping he-man who talks with his fists. But it did make me wonder when we might need to bend the rules. For self defense, and defense of Self.
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