Thursday, June 17, 2010

Mommypants is live, live, all the way live

Today is the day.

I've spent countless hours emailing my designer working on my new site, and I'm excited and thrilled to announce that Mommypants is now here!

I have been at SpecialSauce in the House since 2006, when I decided maybe I'd try this kind of virtual-scrapbooky type of thingy. And, since I'm a writer by profession, I wanted a place to feel creative again. Because really? Building mega block towers didn't really satisfy that itch.

I want to thank all of you who have been here since the beginning, and all of you who have joined in this place over the years.

I'd love love love it if you settle in with me at my new digs. It might take a little while to get used to it. You will have to re-follow me over there. Because I have no clue how bring you all with me.

So come on over - and don't forget YOUR mommypants!*

*unless you're a guy, which in that case? You can just look at our asses. Wear whatever you want.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Not Looking

The wives and girlfriends waited.

They were young and beautiful and they stood each night, outside the clubhouse, waiting for their men to exit in a cloud of sweet-smelling aftershave.

First, though, they got to see me come through the door.

This was 1993. Minor league ball in a minor league town in upstate New York. And those women? They were happy to see me. They smiled and came up to me in a little group and conspiratorially asked what certain players were like.


Truth is, I couldn't tell them. Because back then, when I first covered professional baseball full-time, I didn't know a lot, but I knew this: I didn't want to know what they looked like naked. Frankly, I was mortified by the whole thing. Yet it was the only way I could do my job.

So I learned how to Not Look.

Ironic, considering journalism is all about taking in all the details of a scene. But when it came to the clubhouse, it was my m.o.

I spent an entire career Not Looking. Once I started covering Major League Baseball I got to Not Look at players from the team I covered, their opponents if I had to venture into the visiting clubhouse, and, on really bad days, a very hairy coach (I'm talking shoulders, back and I don't want to even imagine where else).

There was the player in Florida who always wore a towel - over his shoulder - when strolling across the clubhouse. We referred to him as "Naked Boy."

There was the old guy outside a clubhouse in spring training who told me I couldn't go in because there were NAKED MEN inside there. Don't worry, I told him. I'm Not Looking.

There was the player on an opposing team who gyrated behind me as I interviewed one of his teammates. I'm pretty sure he had a teeny, tiny little penis. Not that I was looking. But some of those things you don't have to see to know.

The worst part was the waiting. Standing in the clubhouse and waiting. Because those players? They don't necessarily appear when you need them to. Maybe you need one pre-game quote from one guy. You've got about an hour before they go on the field for batting practice. You get there the second the clubhouse opens (which is 3 1/2 hours before game-time). The player is nowhere in sight. Or possibly you see your guy right away and he says, "I'll be back in a few. I just have to get taped/eat/work with an instructor/watch film/take a shit. I'll be back in a few."

Only, he doesn't come back. But you don't know that at the time. So you stand there. And you're not allowed to sit on the couches. You just stand. It's not as bad in the clubhouse of the team you cover. Because you can always find either another player or writer to talk to. But when you're in the visiting clubhouse? And you know nobody?

Yeah. A lot of Not Looking going on. But YOU are being looked at. Women are still somewhat of a novelty. And players? Dogs. Not all, but enough. So they will stare. They will elbow the guys sitting next to them so that they, too, will stare. They will make comments - out loud - about your personal appearance. They will speculate as to what you are doing in there (obviously, you are Not Looking but they think you are TOTALLY checking them out). They might even try to start a conversation with you. You smile, a little. But not too much. Because you are too busy Not Looking while at the same time, constantly scanning the room looking for the player you need.

Are you following all this?

Another problem, since I was one of two women in the country doing this job, was all my colleagues - and competition - were men. So if a player came out of the shower and went to his locker to dress, the male writer could just walk up and start interviewing him.

While I waited, fuming, for the player to put on his drawers.

The nice thing was, for the most part, the guys on the beat with me respected that. So no one would approach the player til it was "safe." Some players didn't mind wearing a towel while talking to reporters. Others preferred to be dressed.

The other reporters said they didn't really like talking to naked men, either. I mean, it's kind of weird. Imagine if you worked at, say, a bank, and all the customers were naked? AWKWARD! I mean, talk about giving a new meaning to withdrawal and deposits (hardee har har).

Even now, long after my Not Looking days ended as I left the clubhouse for the final time, people still ask me about it. They don't want to know about covering Mark McGwire's home run chase. Or about the 2002 Angels, who won the World Series. No. They want to know about what it was like - in the clubhouse. Was it embarrassing? Who had the biggest schlong? Did I secretly check out the players? Is that why I became a sportswriter in the first place?

The last one's easy. I love baseball. I love watching it, I love learning about it and I loved being around the best players in the world. I also loved the players' individual stories, where they grew up, what they overcame. I watched them do things at the plate or in the field that no one ever had before. I listened to them cry after the death of a father, a teammate, a child. I saw them come together as a family, at times dysfunctional, but other times, amazingly close. And then? I got to write about it.

It wasn't always great. Covering baseball is a grind. There's a lot of boring stuff. A lot of very unglamorous travel and bad press box food. There's pressure and deadlines and lying awake at night wondering what the competition has that you don't (at least, that's how it was, before reporters had to blog). There's putting up with assholes, asking tough questions, getting screamed at and, yes, harassed.

I learned a lot. About baseball. About myself.

One thing I never found out? Who, in fact, has the biggest schlong.

Because although my eyes were wide open, I was Not Looking.

Mama's Losin' It

This post is part of Mama Kat's writers workshop. The prompts I chose were "It happened at work" and "Who first told you that it’s not nice to stare? Write about a time you stared when you maybe shouldn’t have, or a time when sometime stared at you.”

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday

We went to Palm Springs for a short getaway

Sawyer's job was to keep an eye on the temperature

He was pretty busy

From all the way in the very back seat

He yelled for me to take this last one..

Seeing that? Almost as fun for a 6 1/2 year-old as swimming in the pools. And getting to watch Spongebob on TV in the hotel room.

Monday, June 14, 2010

It moved me

So I'm sitting here, completely engrossed in this blog, when I suddenly feel a big jolt, and the house starts rocking.

(Okay, I admit, as I type this, I'm singing, "If the house starts a rockin' don't bother knockin'")

Let's just say my fight-or-flight system is in top form. Because right now? I'm still a little on edge.

Thing is, I grew up in Connecticut. We don't have earthquakes there. Sure, we have blizzards, hurricanes and even the rare tornado. But THE GROUND DOESN'T MOVE.

When I came out here 11 years ago (omfg is been eleven years already? That's not possible, because that would make me...ah yes, I am that old), I'd never felt an earthquake. And so it went. It seemed whenever one hit out here, I was out of state, traveling for work.

Then, after I became a full-time stay-at-home mom, there'd be an earthquake when I'd just stepped outside to get the mail - and I wouldn't feel it. This actually happened a few times, so the first time I felt one - when Sawyer was probably just over a year - I had to confirm with my friend that it had actually been an earthquake.

I finally felt a good one about a year ago, but since, others shook the earth - like on Easter - and it didn't move me. Just everybody else.

Tonight, thought? Freaked me out. I was so lost in the words of this amazing woman and her life with ALS, that when the earthquake hit, it was REALLY a shock.

Sawyer came bursting out of his room shouting, "An earthquake!"

My big fat lazy old dog? She actually GOT UP! I told you it was big!

Thankfully, Sawyer, who was literally shaking, didn't wake his brother or sister up. And soon after being hugged and reassured, he headed back to bed.

I, meanwhile, had goosebumps. I still have that icky feeling in my gut of too much adrenaline.

We're all fine, otherwise. It was a 5.7. A decent size.

You know what? I'm good now. I'm fine with missing all the earthquakes that everyone talks about.

Hold me?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Run Away

Well, there goes THAT excuse.

Bought me some new running shoes today. I had a gift card my friends gave me on my 40th birthday - yes, that would be when I was pregnant with X.

I finally decided, on the two year anniversary of running my last marathon, it was time to get new shoes.

I hope they will propel me to new heights of motivation. Because right now? It's lacking. Sorely lacking. I can't seem to get on any schedule. X can't decide what time he wants to get up (anywhere from 5:45-6:50 a.m.). And then he wants to nurse.

That's right. He's not weaned yet. Judge away.

The lack of routine is killing me. I used to meet with a running group three times a week at 5:30 a.m. Then I'd do a spin class the other two days at 5:45. Saturdays, I'd do my long run with my running partners at 7.

I'm supposed to meet them next Saturday to run a little of their 12 miler. They wondered if I could join them for six. That would be a no. The most I've run since having X is four. I might be okay to squeeze out five miles before collapsing. We'll see.

Thing is, I'm in a bit of a slump. I'm having a tough time falling asleep at night, even though I feel exhausted during the day. I know exercise will make me feel better, and yet...

It's the old Funk conundrum: I know getting my ass out for a run would make me feel so much better, but I can't seem to do it.

I'm considering signing up for a half-marathon to force myself to train. But what if that isn't enough? I'd just beat myself up for not doing it and wasting the money. And that? That would suck.

I miss it. I miss being strong enough to run 10, 12, 16 miles. I miss being physically spent and exhilarated at the same time. I miss the feeling of pavement hard under my feet. Of a good sweat that leaves my skin caked with salt like the rim of a margarita glass.

I need to remember this. I need to want this enough again.

I need to run.

Friday, June 11, 2010

My soundtrack

I read Mama Kat's prompts for her writer's workshop this week and chose 30 things I vow to do this summer. But I also wanted to do her prompt about the soundtrack of my life.

We all have certain songs that transport us to specific moments. I mean, if I hear the Zoom theme song, suddenly I'm four and pretending I'm Edith and have a Boston accent. Or I hear Beyonce's All the Single Ladies and it's two years ago and I'm in a hotel room watching her video on TV - and Sage starts shaking it (in a CUTE way, I swear!).

Anybooty, these are the songs that stick me in a particular place in time. My soundtrack.

Top of the World, The Carpenters:  I am 5. I walk on a street near our house with my sister, who's 11, and her friends. I feel awesome because I'm hanging with the Big Kids. We walk, and sing, at a volume that belongs only to the young or the very drunk, "I'm on the top of the world looking, down on creation and the only explanation I can find, is the love, that I've found, every since you've been around, your love puts me at the top of the world." And that's exactly how happy I am. Until we see a dead bird in the gutter at the side of the street. I, for some reason, poke it with my finger. Everyone tells me how disgusting I am and that I probably now have rabies. I'm devastated and slink back home.

Day O, Harry Belafonte: I am 7 or 8. I am obsessed with Harry Belafonte. Obsessed! I find an old record of my parents and play it over and over again. "A beautiful bunch of ripe bananas!" Not sure if they do this at the new place, but when I used to go to the old Yankee Stadium, sometimes they'd play just the "DAY O" part and it would echo, right before the crowd yelled it. Always made me smile.

Hard to Say I'm Sorry, Chicago: I am 13. I put this 45 on repeat, turn off the lights and close the door of our family room. I lie on the couch and listened to this over and over and over. I loved it. Loved it, even though it did not at all apply to anything in my life. Finally my brother complains because really? No one should ever have to listen to this song. Especially 91 times in a row. My parents make me turn it off. What they must have thought..

Live from Hollywood Bowl, the Beatles; Doors Greatest Hits: All was not lost when I was 13. I discover both the Beatles and the Doors. In eighth grade my best friend Paula and I do a report on the Beatles. We make paper bag puppets for John, Paul, George and Ringo and dance them around to I Wanna Hold Your Hand from the Hollywood Bowl album. How fun was THAT? Let's just say the Doors fit in with my mood swings back in those days.

More Than a Feeling, Boston: I am 16. I love me some Classic Rock. Still do. I wear out my Boston tape listening to it constantly in the car. We cruise around - I wasn't driving, I swear! - and drink ice cold Budweiser and play area guitar and blast this. So now when I hear this song I'm taken back...and then I burp.

Faithfully, Journey: I am 17, hanging out at the Homecoming dance. I wear a soft rose-pink Laura Ashley dress that was my most favorite dress ever. I feel pretty. I don't dance with anyone, just hang on the bleachers. And watch everyone else make out and wonder if it would ever be me.

Crazy on You, Heart: I'm 19. A guy friend who lives above me in my dorm blasts this on particular mornings. We know it's time to wake up and start drinkin'. I still remember exactly how it sounded, muted by the floor/ceiling separating us, but loud enough to make me bolt upright. It may or may not have actually been noon rather than the morning..

Diamond Girl, Stevie B.; Brown-eyed Girl, Van Morrison; Just a Friend, Biz Markie; U Can't Touch This, MC Hammer; You Dropped a Bomb on Me, Gap Band; All Around the World, Lisa Stansfield; Fascinated, Company B., Cecilia, Simon and Garfunkel; Red Red Wine, UB40; Add it Up, Violent Femmes: More college. Different friends, different bars, different music. I could tell you about each song, but that would be VERY boring. You're welcome. Let's just say they involved drinking and dancing and loud drunk singing. It was college, y'all!

These are the Days, 10,000 Maniacs; True Companion, Marc Cohn: I am 32. I wear a beautiful ivory dress, with beadwork on the bodice and a band a silk satin around the hem. I peer down from the balcony as the music starts. The setting sun reflects gold sparks on the ocean. The people seated below radiate love for us and are there, together, from all over the country to share our happiest day. "Never before and never since, I promise, has the whole word been one as this.." ... The sun has just set, and I hear the sound of the waves from the beach 20 yards away. It is still warm. In the high 70s, maybe, and I can't believe how gorgeous the orange-red-pink sunset was. How perfect the ceremony. And now I hear the words, "Baby I've been searching" and David and I are dancing, and crying, and dancing. We're married. Each to our true companion.

Hark the Herald Angels Sing: I am 34. Sawyer is born Dec. 13. The next day, I'm in the hospital room with a friend. David and her husband leave so my friend can help me with the whole nursing thing. A nurse comes in and mentions carolers are walking around, and did I want to keep my door open?  I soon hear them singing about glory to the newborn king. I'm not Christian or religious or anything, but I look at my beautiful, perfect newborn. MY newborn king, and the tears fall.

Beautiful Day, U2; Sexyback, Justin Timberlake; Chump, Green Day; Pump It, Black Eyed Peas; Alive, Pearl Jam: I am 38 and training for my first marathon. These are the songs that get me through another mile, another hill, another few feet. These songs are still on my shuffle today, and they motivate me to go faster, harder or, some days, just to finish.

Don't Stop Til You Get Enough, Michael Jackson: I'm 41. I'm hold X. Sage and Sawyer play. David starts the music, and just like that, it's a family dance party. We spin, we shimmy, we booty shake. We sing. X screams with delight. Or maybe it's with fear from my singing. The older kids want to be picked up and bounced and spun, too. The stress of the day melts away. We are laughing and singing and dancing til we're breathless. Then we do it again.

Thunder Road, Bruce Springsteen: I am 17. 21. 30. 37. 41. I am driving, and roll down my window to let the breeze blow back my hair at just the right moment. This is absolutely my all-time favorite song. Why? Because it has the best lyric ever written: "Show a little faith there's magic in the night, you ain't a beauty but hey you're alright." You may be all, "The eff?" at that, but it speaks to me. And that's what music's about, right? How it touches us and moves us and makes us feel.

I'd also like to take this moment to thank my husband for attending two shows with me, despite him not being a fan. Because he knows how much I love The Boss, and how his music makes me feel. That's what love is, people. That's what love is.

So I'm dying to know: what's on YOUR soundtrack?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

16 and Lost at Sea


Remember when you were 16? I do. I do, and let me tell you, it wasn't pretty. Specifically, I wasn't pretty. That's what everyone told me, anyway.

Let's talk about my 16th birthday party. You may or may not know that my birthday is New Year's Eve. I decided to throw a party. I excavated our basement. I wrapped streamers around the bannister and support posts. I brought down the stereo, speakers and all my records. That's right, I said records.

I bought snacks and drinks. Well, my mother did, but I picked them out.

And then? The most popular guy in our class decided to have a party the same night, and most of my "friends" decided they would go there. And not to my house. With my streamers and records and peanut M&Ms. Actually, my best friend, her boyfriend, and one other (female) friend showed up. We had fun, mostly discussing the party that we WEREN'T at. Then the Popular Guy and another girl drove on over to see what was happening at my house.

Which was a whole lot of nothing.

Popular Guy might have felt bad.

I ate more peanut M&Ms.

Sixteen spanned the second half of my junior year and the first half of senior year. During that time I discovered I really liked beer. A lot. Pot? Liked it too. I was experimenting, and since I didn't have any candidates for, you know, sex, I had to confine my forays to alcohol and marijuana. Also, breaking curfew and daydreaming over unrequited crushes.

Basically, I didn't know who I was. I did some really stupid shit. Problems that seemed so big then were, of course, not really so big after all.

This is why it's tough for me to put myself in the place of Abby Sunderland. She is the 16 year-old who is trying to circumnavigate the globe, solo, on a sailboat. As I type, she's lost at sea. Her family believes she is still alive; she's equipped to handle many eventualities and the boat's alarm that is triggered if it goes below15 feet of water has not activated.

Her brother, Zac, made the trip a year ago.

I am not the parent of a 16 year-old. I was 16, though, and there's no way I could've done what she's doing. The vastness of the ocean, being so alone. Alone, with towering seas and howling winds.

I am now a parent, and though my kids are still little, I can't imagine allowing them to do this. Letting them drive a car some day is enough to put me in a panic. There has been a lot of debate - as there was when she embarked on this trip out of Los Angeles in January - over her parents' decision to let her take this journey. You can read an interview with her mom at the time here.

The mother basically argues that children should be allowed to pursue their passion. That they don't have to follow the traditional path. They are Christians and quote "G-d's will." The family - Abby is one of seven children, and the mother is pregnant - lived on a boat for three years. The father builds boats for a living. Abby is as experienced a sailor as a 16 year-old can be.

But she's 16. Sixteen.

There is something to be said for facing fear, for overcoming obstacles. But can't that be found elsewhere? Does it take a solo sailing trip around the world? And can we not encourage our children and nurture their passion without putting their lives at risk?

I'm sure Abby is mature for her age, and an amazing young woman. There comes a time, however, when it is the parents' responsibility to say, "No." She has a lifetime to push her limits. We complain about how kids are growing up too fast. Maybe sometimes we give them too much credit to handle things the way an adult would.

Because they can't. And they shouldn't.

We give our kids wings, but we also give them feet.

I hate judging other parents. I do. But seriously? I don't understand this. Abby wanted to set the record as the youngest person ever to do the solo trip. A thrilling goal, but really? Once engine trouble forced a stop in South Africa, she no longer had a shot at it. Disappointing, I'm sure, but in the scheme of things, she certainly moved forward.

At 16, we're invincible, aren't we? Invincible, and frankly, we have no sense of our own immortality. Parents know better. That's our job. Calculated risks. You want your kids to dream big, and then you get to figure out how to make them come true - while also keeping them safe.

I don't get why waiting a few years would change the unbelievable experience that she would have of a solo circumnavigation. She'd be a little older, a little more experienced, a little more ready.

Abby's parents will continue to be slammed for this. Maybe deservedly.

I keep going back to this, though: Abby is their baby. Their baby, lost at sea.

Update: Abby has been found ALIVE and well on her boat. She has made radio contact but the nearest vessel is still about a day away. I am SO thankful she is okay.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

I'm sure I'm forgetting something..

Thirty things I vow to do this summer:

1. Laugh more.
2. Yell less.
3. Wear a bikini.
4. Stop obsessing over cellulite.
5. Get serious about running.
6. Daydream.
7. Wean X.
8. Step away from the computer. For hours.
9. Let the kids have ice cream from the truck, even right before dinner.
10. Have ice cream for dinner.
11. Let go.
12. Jump in the pool.
13. Jump in the ocean.
14. Jump in.
15. Dance in my bare feet.
16. Dance with my husband.
17. Say Yes.
18. Find my Red Dress
19. Slow down.
20. Take adventures.
21. Take time for myself.
22. Wear sunscreen.
23. Be open.
24. Romp like a child - with my children.
25. Clean out the garage (I know, but seriously? Disaster!).
26. Ride my bike.
27. Watch the kids play in the street until dark. Until after dark.
28. Cook.
29. Imagine.
30. Write.
Mama's Losin' It

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

One Blinking Pixel

I'm working on putting the final touches on my new blog, so I hope you'll enjoy today's guest poster while I'm slaving away.

I don't even know how I "met" Nicole from The Mombshelter. But one day I clicked on her blog and it was love at first read. She's fabulous. She can make me laugh, she can make me cry,  she can make me want to stick a fork in my eye. 

Sorry. Couldn't resist the rhyme. But seriously? The woman can write. Maybe it's the cool air from Canada, where she lives (I'm SO international!). She also is someone I'd love to hang out with. Because I think we would laugh ourselves silly. Then we'd eat the leftover food that somehow landed in our bras. And? She has a son named Sawyer, which I happen to think is the Best Boy Name Ever. I might be biased. Whatevs. 

Here is the beautiful story of Nicole's Sawyer:

The story of my Sawyer's beginning is at the ending of another's. When the ache of motherhood was new in my heart, and the need to fill the emptiness left us feeling anxious and lost and wild.

And with the rising temperatures of that summer and the unforgiving sun beating down on us, we gave way to that wildness and maniac revelry in which it was easy to forget what was missing. Our irresponsibility, an abandonment and blatant disregard to the responsible, carried us through the months of long nights and left us, in the end, sunburned and tired and wanting.

The wanting was an uninvited guest which nagged and pestered and made its presence known in the wake of happy news from friends, we being at the age of happy news. Until the wanting, no longer content to stand behind wavering smiles and choked congratulations, found its way into my frenzied thoughts, driving me towards a preoccupation with recapturing what I had lost. Leaving me bewildered with my own inability, my failure.

The wanting had made permanent residence within, its consumptive nature peering out from behind my eyes. Until he, pained too, took my sullen face in his hands, looked into the green depth of where the wanting lay and said, Stop.

And I stopped.

In that airy, light time, leaves blew across our path and the coolness on our skin felt better. We felt better. And we laughed and embraced in the face of our new-found betterment. Betterment being a more welcome companion to the wanting.

So that our own happy news didn't seem news at all, on that cold November night; its arrival just being delayed. We forgave it its tardiness and waited.

We waited for things to take. For it to be okay. To get past the point where it had ended before. When things had gone awry.

We were hopeful, filled with cautious anticipation, singing Beatles songs. Pleading with it to hold on. To stay.

But then there was blood. Its familiarity allowing me a sense of composure, a numbness.

And this composure carried me on wooden legs, into a darkened ultrasound room where I explained to the woman technician that this was not the first and that I expected the worst.  And because of the numbness my words were wooden, too. Hollow.

Maybe it was that hollowness in my voice or the glassiness of my eyes or maybe it was just that she was a mom. But whatever her reasoning, she broke protocol and turned the screen so that both she and I would see the silvery images there.

Her voice was soothing and murmuring as she moved the wand across my still flat belly, searching. She held her breath when she stopped and I did, too.

"There," she said quietly, with warmth, pointing to the screen.

One blinking pixel.

One blinking pixel, until I am no more, will be the single most beautiful thing I've ever laid eyes upon.

And many months later, in the glow of a summer heat, my Sawyer was placed in my arms. Where I marvelled at the miracle of him and how I thought he had been lost save for the hope I'd found in that one blinking pixel.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Oklahoma Outrage and Rabbi Shmuley

Today I'm writing about two different things. A two-fer, if you will. Both are topics we should be speaking out about. But the first one? We should be SCREAMING about. 

I'm not a Power Blogger. I'm one small voice in this huge blogosphere, but if you feel as strongly about this issue I do, maybe you'll add your small voice. And, together, we can become one big vocal group. And our chorus of outrage will be heard.

This is Anti-family

I had an amniocentesis with my second and third pregnancies.

When I told people, or when they mentioned they were considering having one, I heard a lot of "Well, I would never have an abortion, so I don't need one."

As if the only reason you would have an amnio - or any prenatal testing - was with the intent to abort if something was wrong. It couldn't possibly be because you'd want to be prepared in the unthinkable event that something was, in fact, very wrong. You'd want to research, line up help for after delivery, find what resources are available, re-imagine what your life - or your baby's life - will be.

Yes, and maybe you'd decide to end the pregnancy. But maybe you wouldn't.

What you WOULD want is as much information possible to make an informed decision. If you live in Oklahoma, though, that's not what would happen. Because state legislators voted that a doctor cannot be sued if he or she decides not to tell a woman the baby she carries has a birth defect. That means, a doctor can lie to his patient and her partner about the health of her baby if the doctor thinks the results of prenatal testing will cause her to consider abortion.

The vote overrode Gov. Brad Henry's veto of this law, and while they were on a roll, they also overrode his veto of HB 2780 - the one that requires women to see an ultrasound before they have an abortion. 

And two weeks ago? They overrode the veto of a law requiring women to fill out a 38-question form, in which they'll have to answer questions "about their race, education, income, relationships and reasons for seeking an abortion," according to an Associated Press story. The information from the questionnaires will be compiled and posted on the website for the Oklahoma State Department of Health, without identifying information of the women.

I really hope you're as appalled as I am. I really do. Regardless of your view on abortion. Being pro-choice does not mean you are pro-abortion. However, in this country, abortion is legal. A state deciding to throw everything but the kitchen sink at women to try to deny them that right must be against the law.

And for doctors to deny women information about their baby's health? It's unethical at best. Can we not be trusted to make the best decision for our own child? Our own child. We have the right to know. Doctors have an obligation to tell us the truth. Anything less is a crime.

On a different topic...

Rabbi Shmuley Doesn't Want to see our (lactating) Funbags

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach makes a lot of sense. Much of the time. But a view he espoused four years ago is back again - this time, in his new book Kosher Adultery. It is so ridiculous it's almost funny. Almost.

He believes a huge issue facing families today is an "undernourished marriage." He's talking sexually. That doesn't sound so crazy. He then goes on to say that, basically, it's all our fault, for, you know, birthing children from Down There and then, then! having the nerve to nurse them with our suddenly porn star-esque boobs.

Because nothing says You're Not Sexy, You're a Mother than a close-up view of the birth canal and a nipple that's been gummed raw. 

He writes:

"...public breast-feeding is profoundly de-eroticizing, and I believe that wives should cover up, even when they nurse their babies in their husband's presence.
I believe this same problem comes up when men witness childbirth up close. There are certain poses in which a husband should not see his wife."

This man, by the way? He has eight kids. Apparently all bottle fed, or, at least, nursed in secret. And hopefully born while he rested his head on his wife's Naughtypillows.

It'd be laughable if he wasn't a very famous author, speaker and spiritual leader. But there will be some unenlightened men who will read this and think a woman's body is solely there for his pleasure, and that the act of giving birth - and of feeding his children - is something shameful. 

Maybe there will be women who will chose not to breastfeed so as to stay "attractive" to her spouse. Which would be even more shameful.

Since when did men become delicate? And since when do a woman's breasts define her, sexually or otherwise? Both ideas are insulting. 

My husband, who faints at the sight of a paper cut, was right there watching as our first child emerged from my Tunnel of Love. The second one, too (the third one was born in a pool, and he was behind me so he didn't have the same view).

I think my breasts saw more daylight in the past six and a half years then they have since I was a toddler, and being a topless girl was a summer rite.

David doesn't seem scarred from the experience. He still thinks I'm all that. Because being powerful enough to birth three kids, two drug-free? And watch them grow from the milk I provide?

That's pretty damn sexy.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

The Boogeygirl

Last night, by the time I came home from my neighbor's house, my kids were in bed.

David mentioned that Sawyer was sleeping with Sage. Because they were scared.


After I heard all the giggling, I decided I'd better go investigate. Mainly because it was after 9 and I was starting to consider whether I was going to go to bed, and it's seems, well, unseemly to go to sleep before your kids.

There they were, snuggled up in Sage's bed. Each had a mag light. And their Kung Zhus.

Because who doesn't need some kind of crazy ninja hamster to protect them?

AnyIwishmyhusbandwouldstopbuyingthiscrap, I asked what was going on. They said they're scared, because a neighbor kid? He told them that there was this Mean Girl who roamed the street in the middle of the night and attacked kids.

Now, this child did get some hair literally ripped out of his head last summer by Mean Girl. But not in the middle of the night. MG lives on a street right near ours and occasionally wanders up, so something must've happened.

She and her sister and a friend - they're all tweens - were sitting on the curb of the house diagonally across from mine. Meanwhile, MY kids - and eight other neighbor kids - were on their bikes and razors and were yelling "KILL THEM" at the girls. From a safe distance of a 100 yards or so.

When we figured out what was going on we made the kids stop shouting. Which is when the older brother of the child who got his hair yanked out told me about the incident.

I didn't think much about it after that. I went over to my neighbor's house to see the new flooring and to chat. David took Sawyer and Sage home (X was sleeping, this was about 8:30 p.m.).

And there I was, about 45 minutes later, trying to assure my kids that no Boogeygirl was going to rip out their hair in their sleep, and that I was sure HER mommy wouldn't let her wander the neighborhood late at night.

Logic has no impact on the imagination of a child. How many times, when I was little, did I lie awake at night, terrified by the shadows on the wall, SURE it was someone outside my second-story window? Or a creak or bang or rustle left me wide-eyed, peering out from under my blanket?

Hell, I STILL do that, when David's out of town. Even though I know it's silly. Even though I have two large dogs and bolt locks and an alarm system. I still get a little freaked out by things that go bump in the night.

Sawyer eventually returned to his own room. But Sage? After a visit at 10:30 to get a drink of water and pee, she went back to her room - only to return 30 minutes later. She crawled into our bed and fell asleep, and David was able to return her to her bed.

She woke up this morning. And guess what she said.

"Mommy? He was just trying to scare us."

Things always seem much clearer in the morning's light.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Thank you, School Lunch

This is a story about how my son buying a school lunch for the first time has changed our lives.

I knew Sawyer would be stoked about the chance to stand in line and pick out a lunch. Kindergarten is only half day out here, so he only brings snack to school. But since in a few weeks they will be first-graders, they got to see what it's like to eat with the Big Kids.

Incidentally, everyone eats outside. There is no cafeteria at the school. How odd is THAT?

The sign-up sheet sent home last week said they could choose from (please cover your eyes, Jamie Oliver, as of course I know you're reading this) cheese or pepperoni pizza pockets. I knew these would be safe for Sawyer as far as his nut allergy, so I paid the $2.50 (yes, that's two dollars and 50 cents for a school lunch. Does that seem expensive to anyone else here? Or am I just really old and haven't paid for a school lunch in probably 30 years? What? Can't hear you - lemme turn up my hearing aid. Those darn kids and their rock music!) to let him have this experience.

Besides, eating crap for one meal would not kill him. Right? That's what I thought, too.

Well. The child was BEYOND thrilled when I picked him up from school today. But he did not have the pizza. No. Instead, he had: a cherry yogurt, a cherry popsicle, a cheese stick, apple juice and a salad.

Oy vey.

Mommy? You know that hard bread? You know! The hard bread that's really crunchy? No? Mommy! It's really hard and hard to eat?

Think. Think. Did they give him a stale dinner roll? Think. Think. Think.

OH! You mean croutons?

Yes! And the salad had dressing on it. I liked it! I like salad!

Okay. Fine. I admit it. We never have salad at home.  Usually it's just David and me eating it and after awhile we get tired of it and the lettuce wilts and gets brown in the fridge and so we don't bother. But if Sawyer will eat it - and he's jazzed about it - then make it we shall.

So that is how a questionable school lunch has made us all healthier.

The end.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Crazy Eights

Today I'm bringing you another guest poster, Kirsten from Nilsen Life. The first time I ever read her words, I thought she was an absolutely gentle writer. Gentle. She has such a gift of getting her message across without knocking you over the head with it. And in that way, what she has to say is that much more powerful.

She's also brilliant and uses big words which I pretend to understand. She might be on to me. Anyway, she has lived a fascinating life, full of travel, and now brings her sense of wonder to her three kids. She blogs about her life, her faith, her memories - and every post is beautiful. I hope you check out her blog.

Her post today is one to which all of us can relate. Motherhood is so hard sometimes. So hard. Sometimes we just have to remember to be kind to ourselves, too.

I muster every last bit of patience I have, and lean over to give one last good night kiss. I feel long arms around my neck, and a whispered plea - "Mommy - can you stay and cuddle me? Just for a little while?"

My heart sinks.

I remember the exhausting battle it was to get hair washed tonight.  I remember the screaming fit the two year-old pitched because we weren't reading FIVE [Curious] "George stories".  I remember that we didn't agree on an outfit for school tomorrow, and that means a battle looms in the morning over whether we can wear Hello Kitty glitter shoes and a skirt without tights.

In a split second images flash through my head - the stacks of dishes waiting for the dishwasher, the bills that need examining, my laptop blinking its compelling '5 new messages', the botttle of red wine that is waiting its turn to glug glug glug into my glass.  I imagine the 5:30 wakeup call that smirks from the far side of the night.

Putting the kids to bed on my own for the fifth time this week has once again reminded me that the 'work week widow' gig isn't always as sweet as it sounds.

No, I say.


I believe - believe with all my heart, in fact - that you should always take the moment to hug them an extra time. I know that life turns on a dime, and that each second is precious.  I know that their growing up years will flash by too quickly, and I will find myself wondering where my good night kisses have gone.

And yet - I say No.

Tonight, all I had was the strength to say No. I am not enough, I don't have enough, and I will be more for you in the morning.

We all need a card to play when we don't have anything left.  A crazy eight, designed to cover for the worst hand. A card that gets us a free pass.

Tonight was my Crazy Eight card.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

If I only had a brain..

"This is one thing they forget to mention in most child-rearing books, that at times you will just lose your mind. Period. "

- Anne Lamott, Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith

Once upon a time, I had a Brain.

It was a good Brain. It thought interesting thoughts, and it thought them from beginning to end, mostly without interruption. It got me through college, despite being challenged by too much Bud Light and not enough sleep.

The Brain was a curious organ. It asked lots of questions, and noticed that all kinds of people would tell it random things. So the Brain helped me find my way as a journalist. The Brain allowed me to write, and people hired me to do just that. The Brain did its job. Together, we were on our way.

Now, the Brain occasionally got overruled by other organs. The Heart, for one. And another one that's, well, Down Lower. This was never a good thing. The Heart would get injured, broken, even, and try to take it out on the Brain. But the Brain would simply say, "I told you so." Because really? The Brain? Never wrong. 

One time, the Brain and the Heart got together. They got together and said, "This is the One."

And so I married my husband. Then the Brain, the Heart, and the one Down Lower got together and, well, I got pregnant. I then noticed the Brain didn't always fire immediately. I'd forget some things. I heard tell of Pregnancy Brain, that your brain does, in fact, shrink when you're pregnant. But I knew it was still there. It would bounce back and we'd be just fine.

I was sure everything was fine between my Brain and I until I actually gave birth. Because suddenly, I was the stupidest person on the planet. Words? Those things you use to form sentences? Couldn't think of them. It was charades, all the time.

Then I had my second child and I realized that, yes, I actually COULD be even dumber than I was before. So it was no surprise that after the birth of my third, brushing my teeth became fascinating. It was stimulating my teeth, which are close to my Brain, right?

My Brain now became Mommy Brain. It wasn't pretty. Sure, the Heart was thrilled. Thrilled! The Brain? Not so much.

Anne Lamott wrote something about how when a baby is born it comes out clutching 1/3 of your Brain. Considering I've had three, where does this leave me? I'd do the math, but it's a bit over my head.

Sometimes I have a glimmer of my old Brain. I walk into a room and remember why. I go to the store and actually buy what I went there for.  I figure out how to assemble my baby's wagon. I answer my kindergartener's question - correctly! - on how our circulatory system works.

I turn a phrase.

But then I forget to put my son's homework in his folder. I can't find the new pair of tights I bought for Sage's dance class, which I've also forgotten to re-register her for. The baby? I haven't left him anywhere. Yet.

My Brain is still there. I know it is. It's just overworked. Overwhelmed. In need of Omega-3.

I promise to do better. I know there's only so much Elmo and My Little Pony and Bob Books you can take. I need to do the crossword puzzles every day. Start listening to NPR. I vow to get more fresh air, more exercise. Brain? I really, really need you.

I miss you, old friend. I miss you.

Mama's Losin' It

This post is part of Mama Kat's writing workshop. The prompt was: “What did you once lose? Write about your search to find it again.”

Not Whining Shoes

We are very lucky to live literally right across the street from the elementary school.

We walk every day. Even if it's a little rainy. We don't melt. That's only when it's 95 degrees out. Rain? Bring it.

I actually enjoy the walk home, when Sawyer tells me all about the latest kindergarten drama. Who got in trouble for talking too much. Who barfed on the table. Which girl(s) he's going to marry. The usual.

If David is not available to help with pickup, and it's a Tuesday or Thursday when Sage is not at preschool, I pack X into the stroller and the three of us walk down the hill and across the street.

The other day Sage, upon realizing that Daddy was in Los Angeles, told me she was going to be "too tired" to walk to get Sawyer. This is, mind you, three hours before we had to leave. This girl is nothing if not prepared.

She actually appeared quite awake to me as we played that morning.  I did not notice droopy eyes. There was no yawning. But I kept waiting for her to doze off into her bowl of goldfish crackers or snore as she sat on the floor playing with her baby brother.

Because she was going to be So. Tired.

Then it was time to get her big brother. And exactly on cue, the complaining started.

She cried as I loaded X into his stroller. She apparently held out hope I would take our double, but since this would entail my pushing three of them back up the hill on the way home - as Sawyer would no doubt insist on hitching a ride - I never even considered it.

We walked down around the corner of our street while she cried. Cried. Cried. I pointed out that we were taking the SINGLE stroller and crying was not going to change it. That worked about as well as you can imagine.

She eventually got distracted and, bless her exhausted little self, soon was racing down the hill, chasing lizards.

You will not believe this, but on the way home? She was chatting away with Sawyer, skipping up the hill and around the corner and up our street.

And just before we got there, right on the sidewalk in front of our house, you know what she said?

"Mommy? These are 'not whining' shoes. And that's why I didn't whine about being tired."

Unfortunately, their magic wore off as the day went on. Still, she loves her new sparkly shoes so much she decided they made everything so much better. And they did, even if it was just for a walk home.

But I'm wondering: what is my equivalent to her not whining shoes? What do I put on that makes me forget about being tired or grumpy? What are YOUR not whining shoes?

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Home is a springboard

We were in line for the drive-thru behind a car filled with teenage girls. They wore uniforms of some team, maybe soccer or softball. We could see the matching sunshine-yellow shirts. The ponytails.

The laughter.

I had one of those weird moments where I rapidly aged my daughter. Put her right into her teens. Into that car, packed with friends and the salty, greasy smell of In-N-Out burgers on a gorgeous day in a beach town.

That feeling of invincibility. Immortality. The endless possibility of what the day will bring.

I thought about her first crush, her first date, her first boyfriend. Prom. Best friends. College.

She has so much ahead of her. So much. All my kids are only beginning. They don't even yet realize what life can offer.

But we do. We do. I remarked to David, as we watched this carful of girls, about how that's going to be Sage some day. And that it'll never be us again. We'll never have that same kind of magic, ourselves. We're middle-aged. We've been there. It was amazing, sometimes. It was awful, sometimes. We really, really get the adage of "youth is wasted on the young." It so is, isn't it?

This is not to say we won't have our own personal achievements, or that we won't have amazing moments together. It's just different.

And it's okay. It's a little sad, but okay. We've lived.

It's our childrens' turn. I'll probably be envious at times. Even of the heartache. When else do you live as fully? Feel so much?

Thing is, my kids have a solid base: their family. We are here to guide them, cheer them on, support them, love them. They live in a society that encourages independence (despite occasionally needing some reminders).

They can fall in love and, hopefully by the time they're ready, can marry who they want. Or they can choose not to marry.

I read I am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced, in which a 10 year-old Yemeni girl is married to a man more than twice her age, and then, despite assurances by him to her parents that he'll wait for her to reach puberty, he rapes and beats her almost immediately after they wed.

It's a horror we can't imagine. The betrayal by her parents, who hide behind religious tradition, is beyond tragic.

Nujood escapes and, on her own, travels to see a judge and eventually is granted a highly-publicized divorce.

And then she goes back to her parents. Because she was only 10 and where else could she go?

That's not what home is.

It's a springboard. But it's also a safety net.

This post is part of the SV Moms book club selection. I was sent a copy of the book because of my participation in this group.
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