Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Pain vs. Pain au Chocolat

So, dear friends, if you have noticed anything in what I write, you might have hit upon the fact that I am positively enamored with that most scrumptious of pastries, the heavenly pain au chocolat. Commonly known by many as a "chocolate croissant", I beg to differ with Shakespeare that a rose by any other name is just as sweet, or that my dear pastry with it's less elegant English language name is just as...healing.

Take today for example. Up in the middle of the night for an hour with the wee Joaquini, otherwise known as The Nightfly, I also had to rise early to take him to a doctor's appointment. Actually, I had to rise early so I could take a shower while Joe was home so we could make it to the doctor's on time. Somehow a five-minute shower takes 20 minutes when I'm home by myself between rounding up our little ponyboy, penning him into his room with the babygate, and then the reassurances that follow once I'm out of the shower. Once I had rushed through the whole hygiene routine, I headed back upstairs to say goodbye to Joe and doze for a little while longer. Of course, The Nightfly had chosen to keep on snoring the whole time dear Mama was up.

I lay there and thought of the pain of my jealousy. The pain of getting up. The pain of... wait, just a minute. I remembered the Law of Similars that naturopaths so often use. Like heals like. The Pain...the Pain au Chocolat that I could make for dessert. That would heal me! My day would be made better with the promise of deliciousness. Mmmmm!

Suddenly, things didn't seem so bad. Then the doc's office called to cancel; the doctor was sick. Geez, not having to haul the kid on the bus on a rainy day? Darn! An impromptu playdate gelled easily. Yes, things were shaping up indeed.

I looked at wistfully into the closet at a shirt I usually thought was "too nice" to wear at home. What was I doing today, changing the oil in the car? Nope. I was making pain au chocolat and I was in the mood to celebrate. Pretty shirt on, pretty earrings on, even a dab of perfume. O la la! I'd felt so schlumpy yesterday, and it was a nice change to look in the mirror this morning. I even put my hair up a bit.

The rest of the day was pretty much sunshine and lollipops, really. Joaquin had a wonderful nap, I had gobs of time to read and gab on the phone with my sister Amanda. Joaquin woke happy. I even had a chance to get the dishes done before heading out on a walk with a dear friend. And although it poured buckets this afternoon, just minutes before it was time for us to go, the clouds parted and presented us with a bunch of sunshine. What a day after all.

When the timer went ding!, and I opened the oven, something more than the scent of bliss overtook me. It was a certain satisfaction, I suppose. It's an effort to be home all day with a toddler, especially on a rainy day, but having something to look forward to helped immensely. Having good friends to talk to today also made things so much better. There are a lot of things as rich as the dark chocolate inside that flaky golden brown pillow of croissant. My son is sweet as pie, and so is kind Joe, who was willing to stay home an extra few minutes to make my life easier. Friendships are really the dessert of our lives, aren't they?

So, back to my theory about names of things--I'm sure a plain ol' chocolate croissant would have been fine, but there's something to be said for doing things a little fancy-like, you know? It could have been an ordinary day, but treating it like something special took the sting off the pain of a plain old same old day and was a balm to my tired soul. Law of similars indeed.

Pain au chocolat=sometimes, life can be delicious.

**Lest it be said that I'm some sort of bourgeois housewife who has time to roll out the many layered buttery dough that croissants require, I must confess that by "making" these croissants, I pulled a box out of the freezer and let the frozen dough proof all day before popping them into the oven. But they were still yummy. One must decide what's important in one's life, and not having to scrape dough out of a bowl feels very important to me these days.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Little Baby Garlic Breath

UPDATED: Over the past couple years, I have noticed that this post gets a lot of hits from parents searching for the reason their baby has garlic breath. Shooting myself in the foot, perhaps, but I'll just tell you right now-- if you are nursing, it's likely YOU are eating something garlicy and it's coming out in the milk.

Hey, at least your baby has garlic breath instead of beer breath... because that would just be plain ol' bad parenting.  Now if you want to read about my Kiddo's garlic breath, well then, keep on reading....

In this post I mention the subject of breastfeeding several times. If you are a person easily offended by the non-"gratitious" use of breasts--i.e.-for their natural purpose and not as something to be objectified-- this post is not for you. Oh, and maybe you're a sexist pig.

For those of you keeping track, yes, my baby is not really a baby anymore. Joaquin is cruising up to the sixteen-month mark and is all Younger Toddler. He puts lids on containers, and can sign a short list of important words. (Who decided "light" and "milk" should be essentially the same sign?) He rides backward standing with both feet in his cart, bouncing his body back and forth to move across the floor. He can say, in mama-deciphered baby language, a whole little lexicon words that mean something to him: stick, rock, shoe, glasses, Gus-Kitty, Daddy, hat, hot tea! (well, important to me for his safety), and is grunting some I'm sure I'll decode soon enough. So, truly, we have officially graduated from the infant mode and he is truly looking and acting like a little boy.

Sometimes, when our kiddos begin to change in appearance and ability, our perception changes too. I'm more willing to just hang back and let him risk a small fall when clambering onto the couch and don't feel I need to rescue him when he's really upset and Dad's on duty. But, there are still some things that take your breath away and make you inwardly say "My Baby!" with all the feeling we would had they just been born and placed into our hands for the first time.

I found myself in that situation on Friday night. This is one of those moment when I am so glad we have chosen to cosleep. Our evening was uneventful and Joaquin and I fell asleep as right as rain around 10:30. (We are a late-to-bed/late-to-rise family whenever possible.) Forty-five minutes later, Joaquin was awake, crying hard, tons of snot running down his face, gulping and gasping. I did all the things I could do, held him upright, rubbed his back, tried to wipe the goo from his face. But Joe and I were both scared. The gasping and gulping (and near-hysterical crying) continued, and after a few minutes, we decided to get dressed and walk across the street to the ER.

An hour and a half later, after so much more poking, prodding and heartbreaking tears, we were assured that his lungs sounded healthy and his ears were clear and we most likely had a kid who was dealing with a sudden but nonetheless common cold.

Thank goodness he's insured.

I'm not one to run to the emergency room for any little thing. Joaquin's had colds before that we just dealt with. Sometimes, though, that "something's wrong" feeling makes us go get a second opinion, and I think that we are glad we did. Knowing that his lungs weren't being filled with fluid (the gulping and gasping abated eventually) was a relief. Having that "oh, Baby!" moment also helped me switch gears, and realize that for the next few days, my little boy was going to need me just as much as he did when he was younger.

And he has been more baby-like. I'm glad that I still nurse, because the kid has been living primarily off breastmilk. I can take my echinacea and Airborne and pass on the good stuff through the milk in ways that are much harder otherwise. He can snuggle and snot all over me --tee shirts are so much softer than tissues-- and nap on me for as long as he pleases. There are, admittedly, moments when I feel like my boobs are about to fall off, but when he's only eating limited amounts of food, it's reassuring to know he's getting some good stuff.

I did make some baby cold soup yesterday, too. Veggie broth, onions, celery, carrots, corn and elbow macaroni and a handful of minced garlic. He loved it. I pulled out some of the solids for him to pick at with his fingers, and fed him spoonfuls of broth separately.

And so my baby has garlic breath. Little baby garlic breath. I was very scared when this cold came on like gangbusters, but I'm grateful that it gives me a moment to reflect on what we do daily, and how useful it becomes when we are in crisis. Unlike some parents, I don't worry about "setting a precedent" in regard to bringing my son to bed with us. He's always there, and I can sleep him sitting up on my arm if he needs help with breathing. He's got his milk-sign handy and that's worth a million bucks. He is getting the nutrition he needs, when he wants it, so I don't stress about that. It's like our life was meant to adapt to those hard moments easily, without a lot of debating and fuss.

But, really, there's just one problem left to solve: what are we going to do about this kid's garlic breath?

(yes, I did really write "gratituous". if you don't get it now, you never will.)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

"Good Morning!"

"Good Morning!" exclaims the middle-aged man, moving his sprinkler over to water his rosebushes.

"Good Morning!" smiles the woman, walking her too-cute for words dog, who piddles oh-so-quaintly on an already wet tree.

"Good Morning!" mouths the happy-faced commuter guy, with a song in his heart, a spring in his step and his cell phone to his ear.

It's like I've just stepped into a musical set in 1950's Gay Paree, courtesy of MGM studios. Pretty soon, some buxom lady dressed in black will open her windows to smell the glorious flowers in her window boxes and trill "Bon Matin, ma cherie!" and wave her lace hankie at me. Hmmm...Maybe I'm onto something with this line of thought. Yes, bon matin! and someone will pull out a wire backed chair and little cafe table and bring me a double shot mocha with that soft topping of foam and a pain au chocolat, the golden pastry delicately brown on the edges and--

"Good Morning!" proclaims a voice, half-hidden in shrubbery, wielding a watering can.

--and maybe someone will lob a week-old baguette at my head and put my out of my misery.

In real life, not the Disney version, I have been up since five this morning. A horrible night of sleep, laying next to Snackety Snackeroo who decided that I was the All You Can Nurse, he didn't want to fill up a big plate; instead, he took tiny salad plates of food and kept coming back every 40 minutes or so. This was my third night in a row of Crap Sleep. Suffice it to say, when Joe took Mr. Insatiable downstairs and the wee imp started running across the floor with the little "popcorn popper" (you know what I'm talking about-- that cylinder thing on a stick that has little balls in it), I was this close to calling the stork and asking it to take my bundle of joy back from whence it came. Since reality always kicks in at the most ugly moment, I ended up with a vision of a toddler in my womb, his cute little feet kicking at my brain.

So, scratch that idea.

I got up and attempted to cope with what I had before me. Happy shrieking toddler? Check. Harried, hardworking man-partner who needed to leave for work soon? Check. Bitter, grumpy old bag of a mom who now understood why thirty-five is the magical cut-off age for sane people to have children? All present and accounted for.

What did I do? What could I do? Said 'screw it' to the no caffeine rule, made myself a strong cup of tea (also know as "The Blood of the Civilized"), and went off for a nice long shower and to shave my legs.

If I'm going to look tired, I'm going to look good and tired.

Kissed the man off to work the moment I got out, and set to doing something about the too-long bangs. While I was plying them with a little goo and shoving barrettes into them, Little Darling Apple of My Eye was also busy, scattering the cat's food. I Sooo Did Not Care. Then I saw that he was also eating the cat's food, which has a tendency to turn my stomach in a way one thousand blood and gore movies never will. I put Joaquin on the other side of the gate-- a place known to him as "Horrible!, Can't Grab Mommy!"-- and began the cleanup of kitty's food. Upon further investigation of the mess, I noticed that the floor itself was gross, minus the cat food. Kitty's chewed-off nails, sock lint, bits of kitty litter tracked from the bathroom decorated the carpet. I just couldn't even think about it and spot cleaned with the hand broom and dustpan, chastising myself for passing up a great opportunity to see if the vacuum still worked.

Some say that Cleanliness is next to Godliness. I'm more of the opinion that Cleanliness is hanging out in the corner of the room in a huddle between Insanity and No Fun At All. And they are all plotting their revenge at me because I keep ignoring them.

If anything is next to Godliness in my house, it has to be Patience. Patience is what kept me from throwing my stroller, baby and all, at those "Top O' The Mornin' To Ya" well-wishers. I need patience far more than I need a clean floor. My son will only spill food on the clean floor, for which I will need ever more patience.

This is a touchy subject with me. I am not the most patient person. Life keeps trying to teach me lessons in this. (First baby at 36? Don't tell me that's not a lesson in patience.) We often value what we have the least of, and patience is one of those limited commodities with me. I am fortunate that I can usually hold up pretty well with kids, but adults drive me nuts. I can excuse kids of a lot of things, but become fairly annoyed with even the most well-meaning people, myself included.

I'm sure if patience were something one could buy, my Christmas stocking would be filled with gift certificates. "Good for Two Hours of Calm Patience", the little slip of paper might read. I'm not sure if it would be administered as a prophylactic injection-- "Traveling to see the parents? For a pleasant trip, don't leave town without your shots!"-- or some kind of peace and love aromatherapy piped into your house, with a groovy tangerine scent. Come to think of it, if it came that way, I'd order a 200-gallon load and have a tank installed, complete with an emotional thermostat.

The bill would be enormous.

So I walked the neighborhood, smiling like a zombie because everyone else was having a great morning and really, who was I to burst their bubble? Maybe it wasn't so bad, come to think of it. Not too hot out yet. I had a babysitter coming for a few hours today, so I would get a break. And what's that I hear?

Snoring. Little baby snores from the stroller.

Bon matin, baby. Bon matin.

Friday, August 1, 2008

A Slight Reprieve (?)

I went out to play mah-jongg with the girls last night. We feasted on great bread with spreads, kebabs of various meats-- including a delectable fish!, spinach salad and pain au chocolat, courtesy of moi.

The biggest treat of all was getting a little adult time, even if I took far-far-far last place in mah-jongg.

Early this morning I was awakened by Joaquin. He was laughing in his sleep! Can you believe it? So, maybe he does have a pretty good life after all!

I'm always blown away that my little boy already had his own internal reality. If it makes him laugh, so much the better.

Oh, and today was the absolutely FIRST day of No Motrin in weeks. Have we turned a corner? Can I dare to hope?

Sigh. It's all soooo good.