Monday, January 28, 2008

Baby's Big Dip in the Gulf

Ah, here we are in sunny Sarasota, Florida. We've had quite a time. The highlights: visiting Joe's parents and his Uncle Mink (who lives on Marcos Island, quite a tony area--many residents have their boats moored in their backyard!); dinner at the Phillipi Creek Oyster House which served an astounding amount of food per plate and features an amazing selection of fried seafood (I had a kabob with lobster, shrimp and grouper) and the large plastic shark hanging out front!; and a heavenly lunch at The Columbia, a Cuban restaurant, which served delectable dishes and a marvelous sangria.

Two big points of our trip, which both feature Joaquin: today, we took him to Siesta Beach and he and I both dipped our toes in the Gulf of Mexico for the first time. He laughed and squealed and I held onto him, and swung him about a bit. We had a lot of fun. Joe was great and took pictures. Check out the chubby thighs on our little guy!

The other neat thing is that Baby J has finally started crawling, in a sort of caveman style: one leg straight, the other bent at the knee. He'll get to wherever he's going eventually, but it adds a whole new dimension to the baby-proofing (or lack thereof) at our house. Time to knuckle down!

We fly home tomorrow, and all I can say is, boy, will our arms be tired!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Girl Gone Child

For those of you who like a ribald laugh or two, check out Girl Gone Child. Warning: the site is for those 18 and older, and uses some pretty blue language--but in a funny way.

Elaine and Haley are best friends forever. Their BFF status was challenged, however, when Elaine went and ruined everything by getting married and having a baby. Haley is kind of like Sex and the City on laughing gas, Elaine is figuring it all out between drinks, and both are hilarious. Be not worried, this is a somewhat satirized account of the perils of being a new mom, the troubles of the dating scene, and the challenge of keeping a friendship alive through a time of transition. I think a lot of women can relate to the experience of babies changing friendships. Some of us are mothers and see our "fun" friends disappear while our new relationships with other mothers and families are formed. Others of us watch as our friends are seemingly sucked into the new, demanding life of parenting and become "no fun", unavailable to go out, enjoy dinner and a movie, or even meet for knitting at the local cafe. This speaks to both sides.

Smashingly funny, written with an ear for dialogue and breath of honesty, Girl Gone Child may very well make you laugh. Like a lot of Chick-Lit (only funnier), the urbane wit and situations aren't everyone's cup of tea, but my cup runneth over with humor. Check it out on my Site's to See.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Bethany Davies, Goodwill and Florida

So many things on my plate, I think I need one of those King Size Buffet Platters.

First off, for those of you who were wondering what that link "The Secret Diary of Bethany Davies" is about, this is my new "Mama-life" way of getting some writing done. You hear that old expression that we've all got a book in us somewhere...well, I've got three. But this is the one (it will eventually have a different title) that I've decided to work on now. The advantages of doing this in blog form are plural: there's no notebook to have to keep track of, so I can work on it anywhere; the blog format lets me take my character through one or two days at a time, which helps me flesh out the story a little bit more; finally, it's somewhat of a little experiment to see if anyone actually stumbles across it that I don't know. Feel free to leave Bethany a comment as she's on rough seas these days (it's going to get far more dramatic before it's over) and please keep in mind that this is just a rough draft. A very-rough-needs-sandpaper draft. But overall, I'm having fun. Too bad no one in the story is!

We are heading to Florida and this prompted a trip to the Goodwill, where I go for almost all my "new" clothes, barring those items we might consider "personal". For those of you unfamiliar with what we call 'thrifting', hitting the resale shop is like gambling-- sometimes you hit it big, sometimes, not so much. I got most of what I needed, and found some great toys for Joaquin. What's better than one xylophone? Two xylophones! If you have a kid, and are looking for toys, I have to say, Goodwill is a blessing. You do have to pick through a lot of junky stuff, but I scored a neat wooden car for two dollars and a few tried and true board books I remember from my nannying days.

The books will be great to have on the airplane. By the way, if anyone has any suggestions as to traveling with a busy almost-crawler, let me know. We have some ideas, but aside from having my boob out for most of the trip, the rest is anyone's guess. In any case, I'll be looking forward to some sun and not freezing everytime I go for a walk! Surrounded with a myriad of lists of things to's amazing that Joaquin's ephemera will take up at least as much luggage as Joe's and mine put together. The beauty of having a baby in the house. First it's the monitors and pumps and diapers, then it becomes all the toys and books that "have to" come on any given trip plus that special blanket, and finally, since he's a single child, we'll be bringing a friend of his along as he will think traveling with mom and dad is "boring". I can wait for that day to come.

Come to think of it, monitors and pumps don't take up that much room. Not at all.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Walter Mitty Wasn't this Dorky

It is 2 a.m. in New York and here I stand at a large picture window of a glassy penthouse, the twinkly skyline sweeping out before me. Steely Dan is playing on the turntable, Michael McDonald's distinctive voice augmenting the chorus of session singers..."Peeegggg--It will come back to you" Donald Fagen reassures the titular character. I move slightly to the beat, my red spaghetti strap dress fluttering softly. A kiss on my shoulder from that guy who handed me that glass of Dom Perignon earlier. "Like what you see?" he asks.

Suddenly the turntable is bumped, the needle skips and I am back in this world, at a small poets potluck, in a 2000 year and not circa 1978. This is the age of the ipod, not disco. I wear all cotton, nothing silky or slinky or polyester. This is Portland, we're in a little house overlooking Ross Island and just as I mention how much I love hearing this old vinyl, Ian brings me down to earth. "Steely Dan sucks."
He puts on a cd of Nick Cave's "The Good Son", we all sit down to eat, and I once again wonder if I am not the biggest dork on the planet.

Moments of being in a slightly other world are pretty few and far between these days, but the evidence remains. I had to stop telling people that Joe gave me "ELO's Greatest Hits" for Christmas because of the uncomfortable silence that follows. Can I help it if I used to race to the radio to turn up "Sweet Talking Woman" when I was, oh, eight years old? While many of my peers are raving about new bands I've never heard of, I go to Music Millennium and pick up old Split Enz and Todd Rundgren cds. What do you mean you haven't heard "Something/Anything"?

I like a lot of new stuff too, but it's never the right stuff. I don't know the music of anyone in the top 40; the only Justin Timberlake tune I'm familiar with is "D*ck in a Box", and even then, I had to buy the SNL season dvd because I just don't stay up that late anymore. I never thought I'd choose sleep over cheap laughs, but it's true, I'm getting older, and the dorkiness is becoming more pronounced.

Being kinda dorky isn't a bad way to go. Portland is perfect for it, to a degree. Dorkiness is cool only if you take it to an extreme. I don't own any ironic tee shirts, though, and I do wear my bike helmet, and my glasses are kinda cool because I just like that "old lady" look. No laptop to hauled around in a beat up messenger bag with my band's sticker on the flap. I ride a mountain bike on the street. Extra dork points there. My clothes look like they might be from Goodwill because I actually shop there. No "made in the USA" hip stuff for me.

Oh, and I smile at people on the street. How uncool is that? I wear COLORS, not just black. I wore fleece long after Portland stylistas proclaimed it the worst thing possible. What, and freeze to death waiting for bus in that cute little beaded cardigan? Puh-leeze.

But I sometimes like to think that I'm one of those gals who wears cute little beaded cardigans and a black mini and tights that make me look like my legs were two miles long instead of being stuck in my milk-stained nursing bras and jeans that make my legs look shorter than they already are and maternity tops because they're the only ones that fit my nursing top-half. My imagination lets me shine inside even when the outside feels a little shabby, plain and far too functional. I work with kids, and unlike the woman I used to see walking the preschoolers out to play who wore dresses and high heels, I dress to be destroyed. Rarely do I dress to be admired, but in my secret, unreal life, those slinky dresses and little shrugs don't look ridiculous. In fantasyland, I can go out for a nice meal and eat my food while it's hot and not be interrupted by a needy baby who is about to smear pureed pear and carrots all over me. These days, especially with baby, it's a whole different world.

Case in point: heading out for sushi with another mother,sans babies, she turned to me and said "Oh my God, it's Friday. This is a date. I should have dressed up." We laughed at the thought of having time to dress up. Then I realized that, wearing my clogs and having brushed my hair and put on a little lipstick, I did dress up. Cindy, I hope you feel special.

Back upstairs to reality now. We have friends who love me, come as I am, coming over. Time to pick up the toys, wipe the crusty baby food off the table, and treat them like they've just come to tea at the Palace. It may look humble, but it's all in the attitude, baby. All in the attitude.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Portcrib Makers Make Good

So, if there's any confusion, let me just say that before there was the term "Pack and Play" (great grandchild of the wooden playpen), we in the kid care biz called those little things Portacribs. So, if you were wondering what the heck I was on about earlier, I'm hoping that explanation clears things up.

Speaking of clearing things up, I am happy to report that my contact with Evenflo was successful (once they finally got back to their desks!) and a nice gal named Trish walked me through the new technology of the spring-bottom construction. We got the horrid thing down, at last, and proved that it is broken in some way. As for replacing it, it wasn't covered by warranty, however, she is going to send me a new one and then I have to send "Proofs of Destruction" back to the company. I'm hoping it doesn't involve a hacksaw and little metal bits and that we don't maim a UPS delivery person in the process.

I now know what it feels like to be an old person who can't program the dvd player or make it work. I now understand why seniors never unwrap those "time saving" devices their grandchildren give them: digital clocks that play an ipod full of Glen Miller songs; a palm pilot to remind them when their prescriptions need to be renewed, keeping them abreast of Doctor's Appts and the latest Woody Hite Swing Band appearance at the Senior Expo.(In my imagination, all old people listen to Harry James and Duke Ellington while playing bridge and sipping an Old Fashioned. Oh, wait, that's ME as an oldster!) Boys and girls, your great grandparents want stationary and stamps, not your email address.

What a world. I'm not even 40 and baffled by the new technologies. Overcome by a playpen. Good grief!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Girls Don't Wanna Have Fun

It's almost Monday night, a night I often look forward to. I belong to what I once thought was "The Perfect Playgroup", a splinter faction of the more organized post-birth classes I attended over the summer. We had an alternating schedule: playgroup one Monday, Drinks Out the other Monday. Then, as more of us decided that returning to work sucked and we would return to being stay-at-home moms, there was some consensus that playgroups every week would be great.

However, that being said, someone needs to get on the stick because we haven't been out for a drink in WEEKS.

I have to tell ya, I look forward to that night. Not that I can't drink at home (oh, but I can and I do), but because this is usually the time that we aren't distracted by our babies and can actually let our hair down and connect. Which can be difficult when we're all playing referree over who gets to suck on the Whoozit or stuffing their little mouths with pureed winter squash and ensuring that the teething babies don't use the other babies as teethers. Oh, and making sure that, when we were done nursing, we actually remembered to put our boobs away. No one wants to be known as that spacey, slutty mom, although I've been told that a little scandal would make me more interesting.

In any case, as nothing was planned, I proposed meeting for a slice of pizza and a beer up at American Dream, right around the corner. Food and drink... and no takers.

Ladies, I've gotta tell ya--I'm so disappointed. It's not about getting trashed, but about not getting into a rut of looking trashy. It's about having a reason to look forward to an evening, and needing an evening to look forward to.

Sheesh...what's a lady gotta do to have a night out around here?

I'm proposing a Mom's group that exclusively gets together once a week or so for some time sans famiglia. I'm asking for people relatively content with life (no big whiners-- I'm not running a post-partum therapy group here) who would just like a reason not to wear those ratty old yoga pants all day and to wash the crusty apples and apricots out of our hair. To wear something besides sneakers with pulverized goldfish crackers in the treads. To go out among peole who find our cleavage, um, novel.

Any takers?

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Portacrib Blues

So, just a wee little bitch about the crappiest thing in my world today, the Evenflo portacrib.

I should preface this by saying that, before 4 pm, the crappiest thing in my world was the Grace portacrib. Let me explain.

When my son was swimming the Olympic pool of my womb, we were given a secondhand Graco portacrib. We had already purchased a cosleeper (which converts into a portacrib) and thought we were rich in safe spaces for baby. My folks decided to gift us with an Evenflo portacrib which also coverted into a bassinet/changing table/spaceship and now we were thinking we were the Millionaires of the Portacrib world. A few months later, we even set the used one up for a friend's kid, and left the new one still in the box. Confident in our newfound wealth, we threw away the receipt for the new one.

Fast forward to a month ago or so. Our son is 7 months old at this point and likes to sit and play on his own. Fab-u-luss! We took the Graco down to the office, where he'll have a safe place to play while I work on the computer. So we try to set up the Graco and discover that not only won't three of the top rails lock, the one that did lock won't unlock. Despite several attempts, it just wouldn't. But today, perhaps the stars were aligned or something cosmic, we !!!finally!!! got it lowered, then had to wrestle with the twist-n-lock mechanism to get it to collapse down to stow. It now has a date with the garbage man. I am not passing along this retarded, decrepit and arthritic old thing, as I am not a sadist.

New crib, Ho! While I'm looking over the box, I laugh at the translations. French, it's a "parc"-- Wow! way too small for that word!, in Spanish, a "corral"-- Wow! way too apropos! I'm excited to get the thing downstairs and set up.

Imagine my surprise, frustration, then anger, when I "Push down firmly in the center of the floor until it locks in a flat position" and the damn thing springs back up! Not once, nay countless times. If you are wondering what a portacrib like this can be used for, it's coming up with new ways to swear at an inanimate object.Not only that, but the side rails have been instantly welded and won't fold down. So now we have another monstrosity taking up space that we can't put away.

Bear in mind, I've worked with kids for a real long time, and this is not the first portacrib I've wrestled with, no sir. I've been assembling them for years. And here's what gets me--the older ones didn't have any "easy" (oh, bullshit!) twist and lock handles or spring mechanisms. They relied on a lovely free force called gravity, and worked like a charm. I could get one of these things assembled in the blink of an eye. Which raises the question: If the engineering on the original models worked (and worked well), why would they make extra crappy plastic parts that are prone to wear and failure? I'm thinking it's that good ol' theory of mandatory obsolescence.

"And lo, The Gods of the Baby Equipment decreed, 'Thou shalt buy one Portacrib for each child' and it was good for the profits of the company. And then the parents thought the word 'easy' meant easy for them, not easy money for unscrupulous kid corporations and lo, the Gods pointed and said 'There goeth a sucker! Ha ha ha!'"

My tale of woe ends not here. I called the help line, and apparently, you aren't allowed to have a portacrib crisis after 5 pm eastern time. So my ire will have to wait until tomorrow.

We did decide that maybe the best thing to do is move a few things around, put a few blankets on the floor, and buy some big pillows to corral our little pony. He's a busy little guy, playing happily while his parents sweat and swear creatively. I'm hoping, that when we're all a lot older, he won't get stuck struggling with a wheelchair that won't fold down to stow in his car. He might be teaching us some new fancy words if that happens. And I might just be laughing, remembering this many years from now, and knowing that it all comes full circle.

Kissy Boy= It's a Nipple

So,I have the kissiest boy around. By kissy, I mean he likes to do this sort of 5th grade version of french kissing. It's very sloppy and there's a lot of drool involved. It started with Joaquin sucking on my lips when I would try to kiss him, then he moved up to try to suck on my nose. I'm sure, while I was thinking, "What a sweet kissy boy!" he was thinking:

Nose- "It's sticking out! It's a nipple!"
Mouth- "It's pink and round! It's a nipple! Mama's got a milk bar on her face!"

Now that he's teething, I have to be careful. He's gotten a little rough with the kissing stuff... he's into kissing and trying to bite. Yikes. He's worked backward from the 5th grade thing and now thinks I'm a great big teething ring, thank you very much. Sadly, he's not so interested in the actual teething rings we've bought him. Even the ones you can cool in the freezer. I guess it's because they don't make milk.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

A Newer Year and More Exact Beer Info

So, we headed out to our favorite kid-friendly watering hole, namely, Belmont Station. Filling in the gaps for the info I recently posted, beerwise:
The great barleywine is Old Tavern Rat by New Old Lompoc. Yum.
The wonderful Stout is by Thunder Mountain by Victory Brewing (I've never tasted a bad beer from them, nay a mediocre one!), and the Lazy Boy winter ale is Mistletoe Bliss.
In case you are in cooking mode and want a simple soup, here's what I cooked up on New Year's Eve. This recipe makes about 6 bowls of soup. You need:

1 large leek (2 med.), thinly sliced, white part and 1/2" of green
4 large yellow potatoes
1 celery stalk, diced
1 carrot, peeled and grated
1 veggie or chicken bouillion cube(chopped into slivers for easier dissolving)
Italian parsley for garnish, cut chiffonade style

In a 2 1/2 qt. pan, soften butter and add in leeks and celery, sprinkle with a little bit of salt. Cook until leeks are tender. (use a lower setting) Add potatoes, stir them around, then add water to cover plus two inches or so. Bring to a boil, then add in bouillion cube. Stir until
cube seems mostly dissolved, then reduce heat to simmer. Cook until potatoes are softened, then use a potato masher to thicken broth by mashing cooked potatoes. Toward end, stir in grated carrot. Serve topped with thinly sliced Italian parsley. Stir it in, it has a wonderful green flavor.

A simple, gratifying soup.
Happy New Year