Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Single Mama Christmas Books

I wrote previously about some issues related to the theme of Single Mothers: in baby books, in children's books, and specifically looking for books discussing known sperm donors.  I have a tab at the top of this blog listing some of the products of that research, including suggestions found in lists written by others.

Then along comes Christmas.  I bought several books from Scholastic, we received books as gifts, and I bought some off the $1 rack at Target as stocking stuffers.  We're kindof up-to-our-eyeballs in new books around here.  I love it.

I noticed while reading a few of them the last couple of days .... some are great for the Single Mama theme.  Some, to be blunt, aren't.  And you can't tell from the titles.  One book specifically says "Mommy" in the title, and then has a stereotypical sports-watching Daddy at the end.  One Christmas-themed book just shows a genderless guardian-type figure - perfect for the Single Mama list, and it was merely a free book I got to add to my cart at the last minute because of the amount of my order.

I summarize the information here simply as a sum of my observations.  Some single mamas don't mind a few daddies ending up in their books.  Some single mamas want to avoid the topic like the plague.  Myself, I just want to present some books that show our lifestyle in a positive light, and make us a part of the norm rather than the exception.  This is just what I have read in the books that she received for Christmas gifts.

Another disclaimer:  I make no judgements about the books, I'm just relaying which ones have daddies and which ones don't.  Because you can't tell from the titles, and identifying information isn't always included in the book description.  Some of these books are ones my mom bought for us.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.  We adore them all, they are all on her bookshelf (or will be once the gifts are finally put away), and we appreciate them so much.  Please don't think this is an editorial comment or a judgement of the gifts that we received.  It is simply an observation that a book about "Mommy" in the title may also have Daddy in the content.

Books To Add To The Single Mama Books list:

Christmas With You - this is the book that I ended up picking out from a list at the last minute, because the order total allowed me to receive a free book.  I picked it simply from the title.  It's a beautiful little book, it talks about things people do on Christmas Day.  It shows two mice, a larger guardian-type figure and a smaller childlike character.  It would fit well with many single-guardian situations, not just for single mamas.

The Mommy Book - if you read my Our Mommyhood post on The Family Book then you know that I'm a huge fan of Todd Parr's books.  This one is no exception.  I'm hoping to have the entire library eventually, that's how much I totally heart his books.

Others: (i.e. not just a single mama/parent portrayed)
Bedtime For Mommy - this one SO surprised me.  A mommy, working late at her desk, is given 5 more minutes before time for bed.  Her daughter gives her a bath, puts her in bed, answers her request for a drink of water and to leave the door open ... it's utterly adorable.  Then on the second-to-last page, the daughter says "One down, one to go" and heads into a TV room to tell the Daddy it's time for bed.  It's still going to be a favorite of ours, I can tell.  The story itself is just too cute.  But really, to end the story with Daddy, was that even necessary?

Why is this photo upside down?  I'll have to work on that.
Christmas Wishes - this one is based on a poem that includes "Dad", and the mice family have an obvious paternal and maternal parent mouse figure.  A great alternative version of Twas The Night Before Christmas - and about that long - just be aware of the paternal language and representation.

Counting Christmas - Karen Katz is not single-parent friendly.  All of her books show a mommy and a daddy character.  This one is no exception.  The countdown includes four loving arms - two from mommy and two from daddy.  We have Counting Kisses that she received as a birthday gift.  That book shows a Mommy, Daddy, and Grandmother.  When C reads it, she points to the man and calls him Grandpa (well, "Boppa"). 

I have finally done some editing to the Single Mama Books page.  I'm still working on increasing the repertoire of books on the list that show human families with a single female parent - those are still decidedly lacking.  Most of the books on the single parent list show animal dyads.  I guess it's easier to go single-parent and gender-neutral with mice or bunnies.  If you know of/find any human single mamas, I'm still taking suggestions!!!!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Mommy Guilt, Episode #4,322

Apparently, my kid has a mind like a steel trap.  Especially when it comes to chicken nuggets.  I had no idea. 

I do now.

After gymnastics, I was craving Wendy's chicken nuggets.  On our way home, I asked my mom to stop.  I ordered a chicken nuggets meal for the kid, but a hamburger for myself.  Oh well, I thought, I'll just eat one of hers.  Note, you can no longer do this at McDonalds.  Those greedy bastards only give you three nuggets in a kids meal now.

I popped one in mouth in the car, chewed slowly, and my nugget craving was assuaged.

We ate lunch, she wouldn't take a nap, blah blah blah.  That part of the story is boring and immaterial.

After finally getting her to take a nap, I walked back into the kitchen where half a nugget remained on her little table.  My brain went "mmm, chicken nugget", and in one fell swoop I picked up the nugget and popped it in my mouth.  Cold, but still nuggety goodness nonetheless.

So she wakes up, walks into the kitchen, puts her finger on the very spot where she left a chicken nugget, and looked at me.  "Chicken nugget?" is what it sounds like she said. 


She is tapping her tiny little finger on that spot, where she knows she left half a chicken nugget and now she wonders where it is.  She repeats herself.  "Chicken nugget?  Chicken nugget?"

Oooops, Mommie screwed up.

So to fix it, I pull out a package of fake (meatless) "chick'n" nuggets from the freezer and pop them into the microwave.  Whenever she sees food "disappear" into the microwave she melts down, so for 2 and a half minutes I had to tolerate her throwing herself to the kitchen floor and crying like I had ... well, eaten her last chicken nugget, then put all the others on a plate in that big white box and told her she couldn't have them until they were "done", whatever that means.

So we had fake chicken nuggets for our after-nap snack.

Today I learned that my kid does remember where she left her last chicken nugget, and if you know what's good for you, it will still be there after her nap.

(We start the egg elimination diet tomorrow after seeing the doc.  So I'm glad I got the fake chick'n nuggets, with egg in them, out of my freezer.  How's THAT for rationalization?)

Funny of The Day

Mostly, this kind of thing pisses me off.  This, however, is just too freaking hysterical to make one angry.  I actually was so surprised by a line in this story that I laughed (loudly, yes) before restraining myself because the baby is napping.

@overflowingbrain mentions this link on Twitter.  So I went and read it.  Go ahead, I'll wait for you to read it too.

Specifically her tweet said: Pat Robertson knows there are A LOT of "gay activities" that can be done at home, during a blizzard, right?

That was amusing enough to make me smile.

The laugh, though?  Was this:  "...the televangelist said, 'I think God probably wonders, if these people are really straight, then what are they doing in New York?'."

Her current twitter feed includes a discussion of the satirical nature of the piece.  Still, it made my day, so I had to share.

I'm wondering, though ... if God punishes gay people with blizzards, why didn't He dump those feet of snow on Berkeley, CA?  I mean, if we're being stereotypical and all ....


For everyone who wanted to see photos of my almost-21-month-old at open gym at the gymnastics sportsplex, here you go ...

Week 1: There are no photos.  This post may remind you of why.

Week 2:  Okay, I kept track of my phone, took a few photos, and steered totally clear of the foam pit.  We're on a roll.

She loves climbing through this barrel thing.  Until it starts to roll.  I try to hold it still.  Then some little snot kid comes and tells me that we're playing with it wrong.

See?  Loves it.

She is DYING to figure out this hula hoop thing.  I no longer hula hoop in public, so I am no help for her.  Maybe this summer, in the backyard.  After 6 months of Weight Watchers.

Eventually, with socks off, and some coaching, she climbed all the way up and slid down the other side.  It was a little high for her tastes: she was glad she accomplished it, but didn't want to try it again.

"Up, please?"

The Foam Pit.  Note that I'm on the mat on the side taking the photo and not trying to haul my ass out like last week.

Week 3:  This week there were also School Age children at open gym.  Therefore I spent ALOT more time defending my daughter from big-boy body slams, and had less opportunity to take photos.  Also, I'm not sure how we ended up in the same pants for gymnastics two weeks in a row.  If I had actually PLANNED that, they would have been in the laundry :)
She is having a bit of a hard time figuring out the whole "hoodie" thing.
Maybe now she will keep it on.  And yes, that is "Dora Saves The Puppies" playing on the TV in case you were wondering.

There you go.  We are considering starting a Mom-and-Tot class in January, since she did so well at Open Gym and obviously enjoyed herself.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Morning, In Captions

Christmas Eve, it's all ready.

First, some juice to start the morning.

Then a self-portrait.  Which one of us is not yet awake?

Oh, what's this?

She loved the kitchen

And the Leaptop

What?  There's another present downstairs?

Oh, but it's a fun one!

Um, what do I do now?

Back upstairs to play with play food.

And open more presents, like a Backpack (not really wear-able, which is stupid) with card games.

And a bunch of books

Favorite gift?  The phone from the play kitchen.
What a big difference from last year:

Mommie stacked these up for me.  I just put them in my mouth.

Friday, December 24, 2010

To My Dear Sweet Wee One on Christmas Eve

It's 9:05 pm.  Your play kitchen is put together, your Grandpa blew up the climbing toy I got for you, and all of the rest of your presents are wrapped under the tree.  I forgot to put Santa's key out before you went to sleep, but I did it soon after.

You didn't nap at all today.  You went shopping with your Nan while Grandpa and I worked on your presents.  We had White Castles for lunch, then you were very tired, but didn't want to go to sleep in your crib at Nan's.  I think Nan has you spoiled by letting you go to sleep on her shoulder when you are at her house.  I also think you were excited about Christmas!

We came home this afternoon and I thought you would sleep then, but you were still playing.  We don't have a traditional Christmas Eve supper yet, so I fixed you some soup that you ate, then you had oatmeal as your snack before bed.  I took a funny video of you in the bathtub - you have the prettiest laugh.

I am trying once again to make Croquembouche.  I have no idea why this has become so important to me that I'm staying up much later than I should to make it.  You went to sleep before 6:30 tonight, and I imagine that you will be up early, so I should be sleeping rather than trying to make some silly pastry tower with spun sugar.  But yet, I try.

Tomorrow morning I will make a breakfast casserole, and possibly sourdough bread from the starter that Jenny shared with us.  You can see your kitchen and climbing toy, and then when Nan and Grandpa come we will open the rest of your presents.  I can't wait to see how you like playing with all your new toys, and reading all your new books.

You are the light and joy of my life.  Mommie loves you so very much.  I am so glad that God gave you to me, and I hope that you have a wonderful Christmas tomorrow. 


Last year's letter:

Thursday, December 24, 2009

8:42 p.m.

Dear Baby C,

It’s your first Christmas Eve. You are asleep in my bed (since we haven’t gotten you to where you are sleeping in your bed just yet) in special Christmas pajamas. I just finished putting together the breakfast casserole in the crock pot for it to cook overnight, and now am I relaxing and looking at our beautiful Christmas tree. It has started to rain, and I can hear the rain falling outside. It feels so peaceful.

I am so excited about our first Christmas in our new house, and your first Christmas ever. I have lots of surprises for Nan and Grandpa planned. I ordered a mug for Grandpa to take to his work with two pictures of you on it. Rather than wrap it with all his other presents, I am just going to give him his coffee in it tomorrow morning, and see if he notices a beautiful baby smiling at him. The picture of you in the stocking that Miss Lori and Miss Sharon made is stuck on the fridge with a magnet. I want to see how long it takes your Nan and Grandpa to notice! I got Nan a keychain that plays digital photos. It is red (of course!). Grandpa is supposed to make sure that she brings her keys so I can try to slip it on her keychain. So sneaky!

But their biggest surprise is the pictures of me and you from our Mommy and Me photo session – your Nan and Grandpa don’t even really know that we had them done. I think your Nan might know – she told me that Grandpa was worried about having photos of me and you together, and I told her not to worry about it. So she might have taken the hint. But she hasn’t seen them. I have the big one wrapped up for Nan to open, and I have two small ones of you in the stocking and you in Santa’s sack for Grandpa to open. Once they see those, I will show them the DVD of the rest of the proofs from the session. I hope they are surprised!

Miss Lori made us gift tags with one of the photos of me and you, and so once Nan and Grandpa see the photos, I can bring out the rest of the presents with the gift tags on them. In addition to the mug, we got your Grandpa a battery tester and organizer, since he always puts the batteries in your swing and your toys. I got him a measuring tape with a notepad and calculator, and a mosquito trap to use when he grills out next summer. For Nan we got personalized notecards and a photo pen with a picture of us inside, a Paula Dean sauté pan, and some red shirts.

You have a bunch of presents under the tree from Nan and from Mommy. Nan bought you lots of clothes and some toys. Mommy bought you some clothes, but also some soft diapers, some books, and some babylegs. Mommy also bought you some wool diaper covers. We’ll see how they fit!

The table is set with a navy blue tablecloth, and is decorated with silver and blue ribbons and blue and white ornaments, with a glass globe in the center with white and iridescent decorations. It is so pretty. Mommy bought some glass goblets today to put juice in, so the table is set with glass plates and goblets, ready for breakfast with Nan and Grandpa. Once we open presents, we will sit down to our breakfast casserole and juice. You will have oatmeal and one of your fruits.

I hope you sleep very well tonight, so you are rested for tomorrow morning. I hope that you and Nan and Grandpa remember your first Christmas morning with a big smile. I know that I will. I love you so very much little one. You are my precious angel.


This Christmas Brought To You By A Family in Pennsylvania, A Family in Houston, and The Bloggess

Did you hear about this?  I have followed The Bloggess off and on for a couple of years.  She has a rather twisted sense of humor, and a skewed view of the use of social media and the internet to connect with people.  Sometimes I love her, and then she'll do something that I think totally crosses a line.  (For some people, that was the Santa interview.)  But I always come back for more.

Meanwhile, in my real life, I'm struggling with single mom finances and depression.  (The assessment I took on the internet - which should be totally accurate, right? - said moderately severe depression.  Great.)

If you've been around the internet recently, you've heard the story.  She offered 20 $30 Amazon gift cards.  They went quick.  Others started offering to help the 21st or 22nd person.  It snowballed, and TB (The Bloggess.  I feel like we're tight now, so I can nickname her.  I don't know her well enough to call her Jenny, so I have to have something) ended up matching up hundreds of donors and recipients in a modern day Christmas miracle.  Over $42,000 in small increments, like $30, $50, or $100 at a time.

I watched it unfold in her comments and her updates.  Then she wrote another post requesting people comment if they need help or if they want to help.  So I'm reading all this and I'm thinking "do I want to write her?", no I'm like "that's for people who really need it" then I sit and do bills and think "if I don't pay my water bill until Jan 30th, do you think they'll shut it off?" and then I realized I'm , like, one of *those people* who doesn't pay their bills so they can buy Christmas.

So when she tweeted yet again that she had more donors than people who had requested gift cards, I wrote her an email about my water bill dilemma.

Her post talked about $30 gift cards. I was thinking ... $30 gift card.

I get an email from an incredibly nice man, whose family lives in Pennsylvania.  He wants to give me $100, and asks me what kind of gift card I would like.

At this point I'm retching with shame and guilt, but I write him back and tell him that Amazon will be fine, that I want to get C a play kitchen set and some books.

He shops and sees that some of the kitchen sets are $100 or more (the one I was going to get her was a reasonable $75 with shipping, but okay) so he buys us a gift card for $200 so I can get her a kitchen set and some books. I had enough to get her a Dora backpack with games and something for my mom and dad too.

A complete stranger. Gives me $200. I think I totally have to teach my kid about Santa now.

Oh, wait, the story doesn't end there.  Not by a long shot.

I get another email from a woman matched to help me.  She lives in Texas and makes hair bows and wants to help us so she bought us a $50 Target gift card.  And, of course, is making us some hair bows.  Last year her husband lost his job and they lost their home.  They had help to make it through.  And now she wants to pay it forward. 

I'm still reeling. I still feel sick with guilt and shame, but I've convinced myself that I'm totally paying it forward next year and buying some complete stranger four gift cards for Christmas next year.

So, my daughter is about to have the most awesomest Christmas in the entire universe. And I have stuff for my mom and dad. Which means I think I might actually be able to pay the bills.   So I feel alot better. If I didn't feel like I don't deserve this and ashamed because I needed it.

In her answer to my original email, The Bloggess thanked me for sharing my story and told me that people were happy to be able to help and give.  In one of her updates she wrote

...There were even some who admitted later that they were considering suicide until this gave them hope.  Some of those people considering suicide?  Were the donors.  Some felt isolated and depressed in the holiday season and being able to have someone somewhere count on them made them feel connected and less alone.
 A close friend reminded me that as difficult as it is to ask for help, that it allows other people to experience the joy of helping, and giving, when you ask.

The kitchen is put together.  I'm getting ready to unpack the pots and pans, and play food, and have it all ready for her in the morning.  I can't wait.  I found my Christmas spirit, just in time.  Thank you to the families that helped make this Christmas possible.  Thank you to Jenny, The Bloggess for unknowingly becoming the matchmaker of the Christmas Miracle for hundreds of families.

More photos to come in the morning.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Smooth Legs and Overinvolved Parents

Warning:  DAD, DO NOT READ.  MOM, read at your own risk.  All others: choose now.  This post refers to personal grooming.  If you don't think you know me that well, or want to know me that well, move on to the rant about my overinvolved family at the bottom.

So I'm waiting for one last package to arrive for Christmas.  The pots-and-pans to go with the play kitchen that I am supposed to be putting together this very minute.  But, I hadn't showered in three days, so I decided to do that instead. 

Please note, I had bathed.  Just not showered.  To me, they feel different.  I don't really feel clean until I've showered.  It was really driving me nuts.

One recommendation that came from a friend during my disclosure of depression was to do some personal detailing.  Showing yourself some love and attention should do wonders for your mood.  Given that I sincerely loathe my body and neglect it for recreation, I thought this might be a source of issues for me.  Sounds like good advice.

Specifically, I have been neglecting to shave my legs.  And paint my toenails, but this post is about leg hair, so we'll focus there.  I hadn't shaved my legs in a long time.  Then I decided that it was time, but I only ended up with the energy to do up to my knees.

This is one benefit to single motherhood.  Noone sees your legs from October to March.

While shopping yesterday I see a new Nair product.  In-the-shower hair remover, in a pump bottle, with a little spongy thing.  10+ dollars.  So it had to be good, right?

As I mentioned, I'm expecting one more package from Amazon.  I have been checking out the door all day to see if it is coming.  Nothing yet.  So I gather my supplies, huddle in my tiny closet of a bathroom, and go to work.

See, when you weigh 230+ pounds, you have alot of surface area.  When much of that is your thighs, it takes a long time to do anything related to leg-hair-removal.  I put the face stuff I have on my face so that can be working while I do my legs.

I hear a knock at the door.  I ignore it.  I am naked, with a white mustache, and half-covered from the waist down in cold goop.  I couldn't even get a bathrobe on and make myself presentable.  Leave the fucking package and I'll get it when I'm done.

I hear voices.  That sound like my father's.  Oh no, seriously?

I hear keys in the front door.  I'm still just wiping the cold goop on my legs.  I hear the dog's tags jingle.  My dad yells "hello!". 

"I'm in the bathroom", I reply.  He tells me about the package, that he's taking the dog for a walk, etc.  I'm still spreading goop, naked in the bathroom, wondering that of any time today that the package could come and my dad could show up, why the hell did it have to be now?

Dad gone.  Goop on.  Face goop washed off.  I'm already exhausted.

I get in the shower, trying not to get the water spray directly on my legs, per package instructions.  Yea, whatever.  I try to wet my hair, and when I take a step, I slip, turn, fall into the shower curtain, fall through the shower curtain, hit my hip on the toilet, and catch myself on something.  I fish the sponge out of the baby's potty and regroup.

I wash my hair, since that was the original purpose of this shower thing anyway, before it got hijacked by the legs wanting some attention.  I then take the sponge and, per package directions, scrub in little circles to remove the hair.

So before long, this little sponge is covered in little particles of removed hair.  I guess if the hair had been longer (?!!) it would have rinsed off well.  So now I have a sponge covered in micro-hair.  Ugh.  Ick.  Can we get this over with please?

Legs are done and I'm moving on to underarms, when my legs start ... burning.

Oh, that's right, I have sensitive skin.  Now I remember.  So I'm having visions of chemical burns on my skin, and wondering where the kid's pink bottle of baby lotion is that I can hijack and pour all over my legs when I get out.

I have a clean washcloth to make sure all my surfaces are rinsed, including my nether regions, when I realize that hair is still coming out down there by the clumps.  Areas that weren't really close to the goop (because I'm a little leery of goop to close to the girl parts) are still able to be pulled out - not wiped off, but pulled out.  By the clumps.

Oh my god, get me out of this shower hell right now.

So I rinse, wipe, pull, rinse, rub, sponge, rinse, and I think everything that's coming off is off, and everything that's not is still on.  I get out of the shower and look under the sink to find the pink lotion.  (Organizing all my bathroom stuff was definitely helpful today.)  I yell out the door "is anyone out there?" just to be sure, before running into my room to start slathering the pink goop to stop the chemical reaction that is burning the skin on my legs.

In the mirror I see, on the hip that hit the toilet, a huge (like, 6 inches across, huge) red abrasion on my thigh where I hit the toilet.

That would be the end of the story, except that it's not.  I finish putting lotion on and come out to the living room to type this post.  I'm almost finished, when my phone rings.  It's my dad.  He says:

"Just wanted to make sure you didn't oversleep and forget to go pick up your girl at daycare."
It's 3:19 in the afternoon.

I wasn't asleep, I was in the bathroom.

How does what he said make any sense at all?  Not to mention the fact that I'm almost 37 years old and functioned quite well on a daily basis for 18 years without my dad having to call to wake me up to not oversleep for crap.

This is the second time he's done this.  The first time (the day before Thanksgiving) it was actually after 4:00 pm when he called, and I had mentioned wanting to nap that day, despite not getting the chance to do so, so at least it made sense.  I had been working my ass off all day to get ready for Thanksgiving, and he calls to make sure I didn't oversleep and forget to pick up my kid.

I mean, I find it to be a big fat sign that he doesn't think I can function as an adult, but at least the last time he did it, it was just inappropriate, and not completely nonsensical as well.

This time, I find it to be even more insulting.

Moving in 5 doors away from controlling, overprotective, codependent parents?  Huge mistake.

But now I have smooth legs, so there's that.

Added:  After conversing with my dad, we realized there had been a miscommunication.  He thought I said I was taking a nap when I actually said I was in the bathroom.  So he called my mom, who (he said) got pissed that I was (supposedly) sleeping instead of picking up the girl.  So she had him (he said) call me and wake me up (supposedly) from my nap.

So he threw her under the bus and blamed her for it.  Nice.

The whole thing is fucked up, it doesn't really matter who specifically did what.  They both seem to feel like I can't pick my daughter up from daycare on time like a functional adult and have to be called to be woken up or reminded to do it.  That's the root of the issue.  Whether I was or wasn't asleep and whether she told him to do it or not, is immaterial.

The Day Before The Day Before Christmas

I have discovered something I can bake: chocolate cake in a pan from a mix.  Hey, at least it's something!

I'm up to my eyeballs in doing dishes, washing diapers, cleaning the house, and getting ready to put together a play kitchen that has more parts to it than my real kitchen ever thought about having.  Wish me luck.

While you're waiting for me to say something profound here, why not go read my post up at Our Mommyhood today.  It's actually pretty profound.  More here later.  After the diapers are washed, the dishes are done, the play kitchen is together, I've been to the grocery, and not forgotten my daughter at daycare.

Oh, yea, this came in the mail today:

Do they have to put a big ass needle on it?  Seriously!  So guess what we're doing on Monday ...

Monday, December 20, 2010

Happy Yule!

Alternate title: The Bastardization of Winter Solstice Celebrations

Yes, I am fully aware that the Winter Solstice is actually tomorrow night and not tonight.  However, if I'm making up a holiday to celebrate, then I can make up when it's celebrated too.

No, I did not take a photo of the effed-up Yule Log.  Think falling-apart cake with too much filling and frosting that destroys rather than creates.  But damn, was it good to eat.

For the full run-down of the day, go see my Twitter feed.  Why, yes, I do believe that I am rather witty. Don't you?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Rather Bah Humbug

I don't understand why I can't get into the holiday spirit.  Last year I was hyped for weeks about Christmas.

However, last year I had a new baby, I had a new house, I had the awesomest of awesome suprises that I was pulling off on my mom and dad, so it was easy to get into the spirit.

I usually get SAD (seasonal affective disorder, aka Winter Depression) to some degree every year.  Usually, tho, it doesn't rear its ugly head until sometime in February.  Usually that's about the time that snow days have completely snarled any syllabus schedule I handed out at the beginning of the semester, and I just throw up my hands and start asking how many days until Spring Break, and then how many days until May.

This year, I started getting the day-counting attitude before Fall Semester was even over with.  I found it hard to be motivated to go to work, which is something that hasn't happened to me in years. 

I thought I would feel better (i.e. less grumpy, more motivated about the holiday season) once I was done with finals.  But even the hurrah of posting grades, then the hurrah of the college being closed for the next two weeks [so I can't even go into work if I want to] didn't lend itself to ho ho ho-ing.

I feel exhausted all the time.  I go to bed at 9:00 or 10:00 most nights, and usually sleep pretty well.  But when my daughter first cries at 5:45 or 6:00, I still feel exhausted.  By 9:00 I'm wondering how long until her naptime, because I might nap too.

It's so bad, I don't even get excited about cloth diaper laundry anymore.  Most of our pocket diapers are repelling or leaking badly, so we have to change pants almost every time we change a diaper.  And I haven't even felt like dealing with the issue.  (Hey, I put a squirt of Dawn in the washer, and it didn't help.  I'm not sure what to do beyond that other than hand wash each one individually, or start boiling the damn things, so we're just going with what we've got at the moment.)

I had stopped all form of vitamins and supplements after weaning.  I had taken those damn prenatal vitamins and fatty acids every day since I found out I was pregnant in August 2008.  I needed a break from daily obligation.  I started taking them again, but that hasn't helped much.

I'm eating pretty well.  Have to, with the Wee One around.  Any junk she sees, she wants.  I've been eating cereal for breakfast, soup and grilled cheese for lunch, and our vegetarian offerings most nights for dinner.  So I don't think it's eating that's causing it.

I had the house pretty cleaned.  I had bought stuff for baking, since I wanted to start a holiday tradition with some recipes that I wanted to make with my girl.  First I couldn't motivate myself to actually do the baking.  I felt like I needed to have the tree up and the house decorated first.  When that obviously wasn't going to happen, and when the snow came along making a perfect day for baking, we tried to bake our new tradition recipes.

After two consecutive recipes failed, I put my daughter to bed for a nap and sat on my couch and cried.  My kitchen was now a mess with nothing to show for it, and I still hadn't put the Christmas tree up.

I've had money on my mind, ever since my overload class for the Spring got cancelled.  My insurance premium for next year went up, but I'm having less money put into flex spending, so I'm hoping it evens out and my take-home doesn't change much.  Or, any more than it will by not teaching an overload.  My overload paid for expensive daycare, but I'm having some money put into a dependent care account, so maybe I can get reimbursed for that as soon as possible ...

This year, more than any other year, Christmas has just felt like a gift-giving holiday.  I thought it was because of the not-going-to-church thing, but I went to two different churches over the last two Sundays, and it only minimally helped my seasonal spirit.  Maybe it's because my parents get the newspaper and I see ads laying at my dad's feet every day as he tries to read the real news of the day.  Maybe it's because I'm being peppered with so many cloth diaper giveaways and discount codes on Twitter and Facebook and my email that I just tune them out now.  It started with pre-Black Friday sales information from online retailers and it hasn't stopped.  Given that I feel constantly worried about money, it's no wonder that I'm having trouble making those two aspects jive.

So tomorrow my Wee One goes to daycare, because I have to pay for it, so why not.  Then my agenda includes putting up a Christmas Tree, trying my hand at baking one more time, and finding a therapist.    I'm pretending that we celebrate Winter Solstice, and that's why I waited to put up the Christmas Tree.  Actually Winter Solstice seems like the perfect thing to celebrate right now.  It's the longest night, after that, the nights are actually shortening [no, really] so it should, in theory, be the worst of the SAD.

It's also a Mother Nature celebration, so a good excuse to walk around the neighborhood [and look at the lights, which it has been far too cold to do, but something I think I would enjoy with the Wee One].  You're supposed to light candles to celebrate and talk about your connection to Nature and it's sometimes even called Yule, so I can try to bake a Yule Log (I thought I had sworn off baking...).  Honestly, it's the first idea that's gotten me vaguely excited this whole season long, so I'm going with it.

Don't worry, Ma, I'm not Wiccan just because I want to celebrate the Solstice.  It's a scientific event too, ya know.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


When I was pregnant, I read that the AAP recommends no TV for the under-two crowd.  It stunts their brain development and they get ADD.  Or something like that.

I knew people that didn't have TVs in their house.  I knew people that had TVs but only used them for bad weather reports or other essential information.  (Note: they did not consider the score of the Colts game to be essential information, just so you know.)

Myself?  While pregnant I would get into House marathons on USA network and even watch shows I'd seen already.  That would be Saturday.  Sunday, of course, from 11 am to 11 pm was football, football, and more football.  Weekday evenings was PTI and ESPN talk shows until network sitcoms came on.

But I totally planned to turn off the boob tube as soon as the baby was born.  I didn't even expect that it would be an issue for me to give up watching TV to spend time playing with her, reading to her, and tending to her every need.  And it wasn't.

Apparently I didn't have this conversation with my parents.  At my parents house, the TV is on all. the. time.  It's the background noise for the background noise.  My father will turn on the tv and then read the entire newspaper, never once even glancing at the television.  Since his hearing is going, he turns up the TV to normal-hearing-ear-shattering levels while he blatantly ignores it.

So I'm stuck between not wanting my daughter to watch too much television, and .... Real Life.

First she became obsessed with Baby Einstein videos.  Those ended up getting incorporated into the bedtime routine, then getting gently phased out again when she returned to her love of books before bed.  Then she got Dora Saves The Puppies which we had to watch obsessively.

But at least it's not "real" TV.  At least the commercials are for OTHER Dora DVD's, or other Baby Einstein products.  At least it's not commercials like the video yesterday analyzed, or commercials for Intervention that Motherbumper dives for the remote to avoid.

My mother is a woman with few routines. Her preferred method of living life for more-years-than-I've-been-alive is spontaneous and whatever-the-mood-brings. One of her few routines, however, is her morning television. Her mother always watched morning television, and now she also always watches morning television. Usually the Today show. I think she was secretly infatuated with Matt Lauer until she found out he cheated on his wife.

So one morning, when dropping the girl off at Nan's before work, with the Today Show in the background, I see a woman with a beautiful dye job speaking.  The caption under her reads "blah blah blah prostitutes blah blah blah".  While talking to my mom and trying to ignore the ex-prostitute talking about johns and tricks with the word prostitute emblazened across the screen, I hear her say "Hookers for Jesus".


Hookers for Jesus.

On the TV.

Given that my daughter now tries to parrot everything she hears, I'm surprised that she didn't try to say "Hookers for Jesus".

(Go ahead, say it out loud.  You know you want to.  Every person I have said that to has had to repeat it.  Seriously, it's like your brain can't comprehend it unless you say it out loud.)

If she was just a bit older, I might have had to field questions like "Mommie, what is a prostitute?  What is a hooker?  Why are they talking about men named Johns?  What tricks are they playing?"  Great, that's exactly the kind of conversation I want to have, THANKS TODAY SHOW.

That's it, no more Real TV.

But then, am I being a control freak?  Am I trying to protect my daughter too much?  Shouldn't I have the conversation about what is a hooker at home, rather than let my mother or someone else handle it?  I can't keep her away from television everywhere all the time.

I've seen more talk on the web about freestyle parenting.  About not really having parenting rules to follow, and just winging it.  I'm not sure how I feel about that idea.  Our life works well with some internal structure and routines.  But do I have too many rules to follow?

That Motherbumper post  really got me thinking.  Do we set rules for our children to avoid what we don't want to deal with directly?  "No TV-watching because I don't want you to see anything that I have to explain" rather than "You can watch this show and if you have questions then we will talk about them" which makes for a more difficult - but more developmentally positive - experience.

So for now I'm trying to minimize the amount of Real TV we see.  Easy to do since she's still obsessed with Dora Saves The Puppies.  I'll do the best I can until I figure out something better to do.  But given the studies coming out about video games, that will definitely be a "no" at our house as long as possible.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Therapy, Blog Style

I seem to be worried about stuff an awful lot lately.  But since my normal mode of coping with anxiety is big, fat, Denial, that means I basically worry, then push it out of my head and do nothing about it.

With winter, and the fact that I hate to be cold and feel like I need to keep the house warm enough that my tiny daughter won't shiver when going to bed, that means some higher household costs.  I also somehow managed to get myself a month behind on my cable bill, so now I'm just paying the past-due amount, which is the previous month's bill, because I didn't pay it, because I was paying the past due amount.

Then comes the end of the semester.  The extra class that has caused me tons of stress I have been teaching this semester had earned me a little extra pay at the end of each paycheck, but that ended with my December 15th paycheck.  Since my college is closing on Dec 17th and not reopening until after the beginning of the year, payroll has already run for my Dec 30th paycheck.  So I have, in my bank account, all of the money that I will receive until Jan 15th.  And that paycheck will be less than I am used to because of overloads.

I'm not good with money, and that I tend to spend it as soon as I get it, and I'm afraid I can't make it last for a month.  Now that I'm writing all this, my real fear is that it isn't enough.  The rational part of my brain said that I just needed to go ahead and pay the bills that are due between now and Jan 15th.  And that's when I realized that I'm afraid if I do that, that I won't have enough money for the bills, let alone the bills and Christmas.

I don't really have that many people to buy for.  I could honestly get away with buying Christmas gifts for 3 people, plus a gift for the family exchange.  One of those people being my young daughter who wouldn't notice if I wrapped up her old Elmo doll and gave it to her for Christmas.

Every time I talk to my mom, she's bought something else.  She's buying all kinds of stuff for my kid without discussing it with me, and most of it is labeled for 3 years and up.  (Does a 20 month old need an MP3 player?  Or am I overreacting again?)  She's bought all kinds of crap for me and my dad too.  I'm way behind in my shopping, because of finals and then being paralyzed with fear about spending any money.  Then every day my mother has new bags from a shopping trip. 

And then, possibly because I feel so worried and pressured, I can't think of anything good to get for my mom.  I have one surprise for her that I hope she loves.  I bought her a couple of mundane things that I think she will enjoy.  So when I think that I'll just get one nice thing for each of them and it's the spirit and blah blah blah, I don't even know if I can come up with something decent for her.

Last year I did a photo session with me and the Wee One that she didn't even know about.  I had the proofs on a DVD and the best photos I had framed and wrapped.  It was the first present that I made her and my dad open, and once they did, I showed them the DVD.  Tears all around, it was the most awesome surprise that I had ever pulled off.  However, now that she works at the photography studio, I ... have had some issues ... and wouldn't be able to pull off a surprise like that again.

This is all contributing to my difficulty in getting into the "Christmas Spirit".  Tonight when my daughter goes to bed, I'll do some bill-paying and budgeting, and then I'll order a few things online.  My parents will be fine and the rest won't matter.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

This Will Get Your Feminist Back Up

Several of the blogs that speak of feminist motherhood that I sometimes read have already posted this and it's been fully discussed.  But since I think it's so important, and since my readers don't always read those other blogs, I thought it would be worth it to repost here.  If you've already seen it, then just go re-watch the video of my kid dancing to the Backyardigans.  If you haven't, go here to view.  Then come back and tell me what you think.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Boy, Do I Feel Like An Idiot

Alternative Title: I'm Glad This Email Came Today and Not Tomorrow!

So, it's Christmastime (I know, where have I been, right?  Up to my neck in finals-giving, finals-grading...)

Anyway, so I had started to think about what gifts I wanted to get for my daughter's caregivers at daycare.  This thought process had been a little tricky because:

1.  This is our first Christmas at daycare.  She started daycare at the beginning of January this year, so I don't have any observations of whattheotherparentsdo from last year to fall back on.

2.  She has just transitioned from the caregivers she was with for 10 months to a caregiver she has been with about 6 weeks.  I really would like to include her former caregivers in whatever gift I get, since they are still very important to her - she likes to stop in and visit them when we arrive in the mornings or when we leave in the afternoons.

3.  The "Twos" are divided into two rooms - one is her room, with five children and one caregiver.  The other is a larger room of older Twos (like, you know, kids who are ALREADY TWO and such) with two caregivers.  That is the room where my Wee One gets dropped off in the morning and picked up if it's after 5:00.  So they know her, participate in her care, etc.  The book exchange party will be with the entire group today, for example.  So I feel like I should include those two caregivers in whatever gift I get also.

So that means I'm buying gifts for 5 caregivers.  What about the director and assistant director, who both let me sit in their offices and cry when (1) we first started at the center and she wouldn't eat or sleep, and (2) when she transitioned to the Twos room?

Then what about additional "float" caregivers that she is fond of, who are only there during early morning drop-off?  Where do I draw the line?

I drew the line at 5 for gifts, maybe baking treats for the others.  I was comfortable with that.  And I even knew what I was going to buy.

You see, I had been shopping on Etsy, coveting luscious little treats I thought would be wonderful for us to give.  I don't like giving sugary baked goods, because you never know what someone's dietary restrictions are.  But handmade soaps and bath salts and lotions and soy candles and vegan lip balm?  I imagined crocheting little baskets and filling them with the goods.  This would be the best gift ever, they would love it! 

Should I put fuzzy socks in there too?  The ones with aloe in them, that make your feet really soft if you manage to sleep all night without kicking them off and losing them in the sheets? 

But, this is getting a little pricey here.  Even if you get $4 candles and $5 hand lotion, I was looking at dropping a hundred bucks on Etsy for 5 gifts with shipping for all of it - even if I bought as much as I could from one seller and had them combine shipping.  The shopping would have to wait until payday ... the 15th.

So today is the 15th.  And while my wee one is probably right at this very minute enjoying a new book from her book exchange (I hope she gave up the one she brought graciously.  This morning it wasn't looking so great when we wrapped it), I am getting ready to do my Etsy shopping...

..when I get this in my email inbox at work from another parent at daycare:

"Dear Parents, Grandparents, Guardians, and Families, Over the last several years, I’ve found myself struggling to come up with a unique gift for my children’s teachers that reflects my sincere appreciation for the loving care and patient and skillful guidance they provide every week. With that struggle, I’ve wondered how many other bottles of lotion, bars of soap, pairs of fuzzy socks or slippers, picture frames or ornaments will be given in addition to mine. It’s hard to select a gift that will be useful, meaningful, and unique while not being too expensive. And, particularly for those of us whose children have been at the center for several years, I frequently wish that I could afford to give gifts to former teachers and staff members who’ve formed lasting relationships with my children.

Last year, we pooled our resources to do something really great for all the teachers and staff at Bright Horizons downtown, and I would like to extend an invitation to coordinate the same thing this year. I will collect donations from any interested families and will divide them equally between the 22 employees (including all staff and teachers). Purely by way of example, if each of the 70 families whose children are enrolled at the center give $30, that translates to a gift of about $95 for each employee! (Of course, you should feel free to give whatever you want to if you choose to participate at all!) Holiday cards will also be placed in a central area at the entrance so that families can leave their personal holiday messages for each teacher and staff member. These cards will be presented on December 22. On the day the cards are given out, families can bring in holiday treats (cookies, candy, hot chocolate, etc) for the teachers and staff to enjoy."

Dude, she totally just dogged on my whole gift plan.  Fuzzy socks and all!  Are you serious?
BUT .... there is a silver lining.  It would actually be cheaper for me to give money than buy all the stuff that apparently, according to this parent, they loathe and scoff as gifts anyway**.  AND since the gift is evenly divided, then it is going to the former caregivers, the current caregiver, the caregivers in the other room, the fill-in and float caregivers, and even the cook in the kitchen (I believe.  That wasn't specified by the parent who wrote the email.  I shall assume.)  While I wouldn't bring in gift cards to hand them out, because I think that would be tacky, apparently they did this last year and all the caregivers really loved it.  (It's money, who wouldn't?)
So I'm all for it, and totally glad this email came today BEFORE I did all my Etsy shopping.  And now I know what the protocol is, so next year ... wait, next year she'll be in preschool.  Never mind.
**I don't really think they loathe and scoff.  I mean, who scoffs at vegan lip balm, anyway?

Why I Almost Shivved An Old Lady At The Store

I was off work today.  Here was our list:

To Do Today:
1.  Buy colored goldfish crackers
2.  Buy a $4-5 book for a two-year-old for a book exchange at daycare
3.  Take the Wee One to open gym at the gymnastics center to see how she does

So we went to a grocery store near the gymnastics place (Sportsplex - I am so out of my league here).  At one point I had my phone and my keys and my wallet.  In the car going to gymnastics I only had keys and my wallet, no phone.

In the parking lot once we got there, I looked around for it.  We would  have to go back to the grocery store, but it could wait an hour while we did open gym, right?

Ever wondered where your (brand new, expensive) phone could be for an hour?  It's fun.  The anxiety builds a little at a time.  You glance fervently at the clock, and then at your daughter having a ball on the trampoline.

Finally, after an hour, plus song time, plus getting a hand stamp because all the other kids are time, plus meltdown because now she's exhausted and it's time to go time, plus following random children all the places possible except out to the car time, I was starting to freak a little.

So we go back to the grocery where, no, they have not seen my phone.  I am standing there, holding a very tired Wee One on my hip, trying desperately not to have a meltdown of my own, wondering what the hell I do now.  The service desk clerk walks back into the office, and a knarled sweet old lady walks up beside me.  She has heard the end of the conversation, so she knows I'm looking for my cell phone.  So she starts asking questions.

"Do you know that you lost it here, dear?"  I have already tried to figure out the last place I know I had it.  I was switching it from the pocket with my keys to the pocket without my keys to keep the screen from being scratched.  Was that here?  Before here?  After here?  I've been thinking about this for an hour and I have no idea.  So I reply "when we got to where we were going after here, I didn't have it.  That's all I know."

She gets this wierd look on her face like I have been rude to her.  I'm sorry, I'M FREAKING THE EFF OUT ABOUT LOSING A BRAND NEW EXPENSIVE PHONE HERE.

Then she says "Can you call it and see if you hear it ring?"  I reply "Unfortunately I had turned the ringer off so it would be silent for where we were going."

This old lady, complete stranger, narrows her gaze on me and says "Then how do you think you're ever going to find it?"


I stare her straight in the eye, but I cannot bring myself to speak.  Because profane words that begin with the letter F are just dancing on the tip of my tongue, and I think it best not to curse out a tiny old woman at the service desk of the grocery store where I believe I might have lost my phone.

I have a thing about old people in the grocery ever since some crazy old lady gave my daughter a sucker.  Now this woman not only butts her way into my business, but then tells me I'm condemned to never find my phone again because the ringer was off.

The service clerk comes out and tells me I'm SOL.  I ask if I can leave a number they can try to reach me at in case they find it.  He sighs deeply and slaps down a piece of paper and an orange pen.  After leaving my mom's number, I ask if they have a phone I can use.  "Our phones don't dial out" was the curt reply.

The very nice manager of the bank inside the grocery store let me cry and snot on his phone to my mom that I thought my phone was gone and that I'd almost killed a little old lady who was nosy.

Then on the way home, while searching around the floorboard of the backseat with my hand (because what else is there to do while rocketing down the interstate with a sleeping baby in the back?) I found my phone.

So that's why there are no cute photos of her first day at gymnastics.  Also, because I spent most of the time stuck trying to haul my fat ass out of the foam pit without losing my socks.  What a day off.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Rash Talk

How do you handle diaper rash with cloth diapers?  It's Cloth Tushie Tuesday!!!

Mommie V

Most babies get fewer diaper rashes with cloth diapers than disposables.  This is definitely true for my daughter, who seems to have very sensitive skin.  If a disposable touches her bottom for any length of time, the skin becomes red and irritated.  That's not to say that the only way she gets a rash is from disposables.  She gets a rash from sitting in a wet prefold too long.  She gets a rash from nasty poos.  She gets a rash from eating certain foods, I think, I just haven't pinpointed what they are.

So we'll just be going along fine on a daily routine.  Then one day, out of the blue, when changing her diaper, a red, angry rash has appeared.  What's a cloth diapering mama to do?

There are times that I have slathered on the thick, creamy diaper cream, and then slapped on a disposable and called it a day.  The only problem with this solution is: the areas with the cream start to heal, while the areas without cream become irritated.  Usually around the legs, where the elastic is.

So usually what I do is put on the diaper cream (Desitin creamy, Boudreaux's Butt Paste, or CJ's BUTTer) and then use a cloth diaper ... with a liner.

Ironically, diapers and diaper cream don't really mix.  The diaper cream's job is to protect the skin from excess moisture.  It usually does this by creating a moisture barrier.  That's great on baby's skin.  Not so much on the surface of the diaper, whose job is to absorb the moisture.  If a disposable diaper gets coated in diaper cream, it's no big deal, since it's going to be thrown away.  Cloth diapers should be protected from most diaper creams with a liner.

What do you use as a liner?

-You can buy liners from many cloth diaper retailers.  My favorites are made by Bummis, but I've also used the Imse Vimse ones with success.  They are usually flushable, biodegradable, and many mamas use them not just with diaper cream, but because they make poopy diapers easier to clean up.
-You can use other paper products as diaper liners.  You can use paper towels, although I imagine they would be a little scratchy.  I have even used disposable wipes that accidentally went through the wash with the cloth diapers.  The Huggies ones hold up well in the wash, and come out fluffy and soft after drying.  They work really well as a diaper liner in their next life.
-You can make your own diaper liners.  Cut rectangles of cheap fleece or flannel.  I would wash these separately from your other diapers - you don't want the emollients in the cream coating all your other diapers in the wash.  They could be washed with towels instead with no problem.

I have heard that the most natural way to deal with diaper rash is to use raw silk liners in your cloth diapers.  The silk is supposed to clear up the diaper rash.  I have never tried it, so I only provide it here as heresay, but I'd really love to see if it works.

I have, with a really bad rash, only used diaper cream to clear it up most of the way, then just put her back in regular cloth.  It goes away on its own eventually no matter what I do.  (That's what makes me think most of them are food-allergy-related.)

So how do you deal with diaper rashes?  Link up and tell us!

Monday, December 13, 2010

So Now We All Know What We Are Getting For Christmas

I am being very literal when I say that I sat down at my desk around 8:45 this morning and other than one trip to the vending machine to get a Big Red to wash down some ibuprofen, I graded, posted, calculated, posted, emailed, and otherwise did end-of-semester-grade-figuring-stuff until 4:30p. 

Then I went and had margaritas with my mom, and I still have a little buzz.

So, you've all been through the disclaimer.

My family is a bunch of crazy f*cks.  My mother said that to me on the phone, so I feel perfectly entitled to present it here.

Episode 1:  Nee, Boppa, and I are sitting in their family room.  Nee, in her singsong "I Love Christmas" voice says "and what do you want for Christmas, Mommie?".  I inform her that everything I want/need is expensive, i.e. a new laptop, a garage door opener, etc.  She says, still singsong-y, "Maybe Santa will bring it ..."

Episode 2:  I hear my mother and father having a conversation that abruptly ends when I enter the room.  A Dell computer ad sits at my father's elbow.  My mother's voice trails off after prompting him that there's not much time to order "it".

Episode 3:  My father and I are watching TV and the Wee One while my mother works late at the photography studio.  My father turns to me and says "hey, waiting to order the PC actually saved us money, like 40 bucks or something!"  He then gets a rather "oh shit" look on his face, which I interpret to mean he's let the cat out of the bag about my christmas present.

Episode 4:  I write on the blog about how I think I'm getting a new laptop for Christmas.  Yay me!

Episode 5:  My father senses that I think the new PC is for me.  He tells my mother he doesn't want me to be disappointed on christmas.  They order me a laptop for Christmas.

Episode 6:  My father refers to setting up my mother's PC.  I realize it's not a christmas laptop, and am mildly disappointed.  I tweet that I have realized this.

Episode 7:  My mother sees my tweet, calls to relate all of the above to me, ending with the statement of fact that I am, indeed getting a laptop for Christmas.  I'm a little "WTF?" but mostly "yahoo!"

Wait, it's not over, it gets better.

So while I know what I'm getting, and she's got a new PC, at least my father doesn't know his present.


Episode 8:  Nee asks Boppa to keep the old PC.  Boppa insists that its worthless.  Nee insists that it be kept.  Boppa, angrily, insists that it truly isn't worth using for anything.  Nee insists that it will work for what she has in mind.  Boppa, angry and insistant, asks what that is.

Nee confesses that his christmas present is a nifty little gadget that hooks a turntable to a USB port that will transform his old records into digital files that he can listen to ON THE OLD COMPUTER.

So now we all know what we're getting for christmas.*

The end.

*Except for the 20-month old, which - if she could read - would see her gifts prominently displayed in the garage.  But since she is tiny and oblivious, my life is much easier this year.

The end for real.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Walking to Grandpa's: Winter Weather Advisory Edition

She wouldn't nap.  Then she did, and slept until 5:15 pm.  While I was readying supper she pulled on doors (both front and back) making her "Nee?  Boppa?" chant.  She would have none of my "honey, it's snowing and cold outside" explanation.  And I knew she woudln't eat the soup I was fixing if she was mad that we weren't going to see Nee and Boppa.

On the way home this sidewalk and street were decidedly more covered in white.

So ... we did.  Bundled against the soft, wet flakes that were falling, we walked to Nan and Grandpa's house.  Had some supper, read Dora books, and even attempted to help decorate the tree.

Her contributions are centered in one particular easy-to-reach area. 
Then all bundled again to get home through more wet, cold flakes  (too dark for photos).  Warm bath, milk and oatmeal, and finally sleep.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Fun Stuff

Now that I've figured out video from my phone ......

Wee One jams to the Backyardigans:

Wee One checking out a new coat and hat:

Wee One watching the birds eat birdseed that Boppa put out:

What December Looks Like Here

(I had this post as a draft because there is a video to go with it.  Only it's on my phone, and somehow, I can't seem to get videos off my phone onto the internet.  So I was waiting .... but it fits with a linkup over at blue milk, so I got it out, dusted it off, and posted it ... sans video.  Maybe that will come later.)

(Updated: yay, video!!)

Last winter my daughter was around 9 months old.  She had just started scooting around on her belly, which I called crawling.  So the first time someone said , "How does the Wee One like the snow?" I replied "I'm not sure she's entirely noticed it.  She likes to look at it."  They persisted, "Has she been out to play in it?"  I almost laughed out loud.  Out in it?  To play?  She's not walking, she's barely mobile.  Am I going to plunk her down in a snowdrift and stand and say, "There, honey, how do you like that?"  So I simply replied "since she's not walking or even, really, crawling yet, she hasn't been out in the snow that much."

This year, she is fascinated with the snow.  She liked to watch it falling (insert video here - oh wait, I can't yet).  Only the first 15 seconds are worth watching - unless you want to cringe at her running toward the street and then become afraid of the street cleaner.

For breakfast the first morning, she pushed her table right up to the window so she could eat her oatmeal and look outside at the snow.

So, go check out blue milk, a wonderful slant on feminist mothering in another part of the world - what's not to like about that?  And tell her this is what it looks like in December in this part of Indiana, United States of America.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Do I, or Don't I?

Ugh.  This is hard.  This is about ... fundamental beliefs.  Which are different for everyone.  Which ... I don't really even know what mine are, really.  Which ... this is going to make my mother pray for my soul more fervently than she already has to.

Do I teach my daughter to believe in Santa?

Of course a post like this has to start with me recounting how I found out there was no Santa.  I was in the backseat of a Gremlin with two other kids of close family friends, on our way home from Santa Claus Land (now Holiday World, still in Santa Claus, Indiana) in the middle of July.  It was hot as hell, the boys were terrorizing me with the little plastic snakes that look (and move) like they are real, and it was really freaking hot.  And I was stuck in the backseat.  With boys.

Who then thought it would be fun, since they were bored with the snakes, to terrorize me by telling me that Santa Claus doesn't even exist.  I looked to the front seat, to my mother, to correct them, and she gave some noncommittal bullshit answer that sealed the fate in my heart.

Santa Claus doesn't exist.  He's pretend, he's made up.

I always wondered why Santa didn't wrap the presents he left at my house, but he wrapped the presents he left at my grandparents house.  And why make two stops, anyway, why not just leave it all at my house to begin with?  And some of my friends had presents under their tree that said 'From Santa' weeks in advance - is that how he did it?  He spread it out over time instead of doing it all on one night?

I remember feeling devastated.  I remember wondering what else my parents were lying to me about.  I remember feeling ... sortof ... abandoned.  I was a pretty dramatic kid, after all.  (Was?)


I'm not sure at what point I started questioning if God exists.  It's not related to the Santa thing.  Except ... is it?

I believe that there is much in the universe that we don't understand, and we can call them miracles.

I believe in energies and synchronicities and love, and I believe these are all traits of God.

My heart wants to believe in God.  My brain?  Not so much. 

But yet, I pray.  Daily, nightly, please, thank you.


We don't go to church.  Mostly because I hold onto the past and get homesick and then nothing in the present is good enough.  I belonged to a church where I used to live, where my baby was baptised, that I loved.  But I moved.  Back home.  The church where I grew up ... is different now.  Different pastor, some different people, it feels different.

I want to take my daughter to church.  Not to someplace where she can play while I worship.  I want her to be "in church".  Which, given our nap schedule, means find a church with alternative worship schedules.  Which basically means ... outside my denomination.

So I basically get to decide what I want to be now.  Do I want to be Episcopalian?  Do I want to attend the Church of Christ?  Do I want to be unitarian?  I want to go someplace where they love gay people, and single mothers by choice, and everyone else who walks through the door.  I want to go someplace where there is love and laughter and open arms and stuff for kids and stuff for grownups.

But not too many expectations.  Because I have a full-time job, a household, and a toddler that I manage as a single mama, so I can't volunteer for too much or come to this-and-that right now.  If I get us dressed and to church on time a couple of Sundays a month that will be a good record for us.


By this time next year, I will have to make the Santa decision.  Am I teaching her that different families believe different things, and some families believe that a big fat man comes down the chimney in the middle of a certain night and eats their food and leaves presents and flies on a sleigh with reindeer?  And ours doesn't?

Because I'm not sure I can handle those big round eyes looking at me, saying 'Mama, please tell those boys they are wrong, please tell those boys there is a Santa?"

One morning at church I realized that God IS there.  God is in all those people loving and hugging and welcoming.  God is in the exchange of energy between those people.  Isn't that what Santa is too?  So if I teach her to believe in God, don't I have to teach her to believe in Santa?  But if Santa isn't real, then is God?


Last year I put out the key.  I bought a magic, golden key.  Because, you know, some people don't have chimneys.  They live in apartments, or houses without a chimney.  And how does Santa get in?  You leave him a key.  It came in a gold organza pouch, and it has a red satin ribbon and a bell.  And a poem, about how Santa will use the key to come in and leave your presents.


From the blogosphere: MyBrownBaby won't let my kid play at her house if I don't teach her to believe in Santa.  I haven't read DaMomma's post, because I know it will make me weepy. 

I can do "the magic of the season".  Once finals are over, that is.  I'm just not sure I can play along with Santa.