This Is It - Northcross in the Balance

This is the moment when we will save the future of our neighborhoods or not. City Council had an agenda item to consider suspending the ridiculous "lazy man's plan" for Northcross on the Dec. 14th agenda, and Friday they took it off - seems there was a crisis of political will to stand up to Lincoln Property Company and Wal-Mart. Read: we don't want to get sued.

You can't get sued for having something listed on the agenda. In fact, they could remove it from the agenda at the last minute if they wanted. But if it doesn't get onto the agenda now, it can't be put on later, because the rules require a little advance notice so the other side can know the arguments are coming and prepare a rebuttal. This is only fair. So it HAS TO GO BACK ON TO THE AGENDA.

City Council and the Mayor are elected to represent US, not out-of-town developers. Because the site plan was approved as an "administrative" site plan, there was never an opportunity for any public hearing or discourse as to whether or not this is right for the neighborhood. How each and every member of City Council and the Mayor handle this will determine their political futures - in central Texas and beyond. Period.

If the site plan suspension doesn't stay on the agenda, possibly the best opportunity to present evidence in opposition will have been lost. The next City Council meeting when this could be heard is January 11, 2007. If demolition permits are issued, demolition is scheduled by the developers to begin January 8, 2007. This is the make-or-break moment.

To take action to save the neighborhoods around Northcross, go here.


10 Things That Don't Happen at Chez TypeAMama

10. Ironing. Don't own one (or actually, I think there might be one out in the shed), and I believe we had to throw out the cheapo ironing board because the cats peed on it. Or maybe that was me.

9. Card games. This is not necessarily deliberate or by choice. There has been the occasional Texas Hold 'em game at our house, but I'm looking forward to the day that we can sit down with the pooper and start to play card games with him - even Go Fish and Crazy Eights.

8. Watching commercials. Thank God for the dvr.

7. Spanking. It's just something DH and I agreed on that seemed to be not necessary. Pooper's just 19 months right now, so this could change if/when he darts out into a parking lot or some other life threatening behavior. But so far we're managing with re-direction and time outs.

6. High Fructose Corn Syrup. Holy cow, you have to REALLY be a label reader to manage this one. It's in EVERYTHING. If something's supposed to taste sweet, then just give me regular sugar. And if it isn't supposed to taste sweet or is already sweet enough on its own, keep that crap outa there.

5. Country music. Except for stuff called "crossover" or "alternative" or whatever: Lyle, Dixie Chicks, Johnny Cash, Marty Robinson (God help me).

4. White walls. A friend of mine says she thinks they're immoral. I think I agree.

3. A full night's sleep. Natch.

2. Home perms. This is kind of random, I know, but if permed hair ever comes back in style (yes it WAS. Shut up.) I have already had enough home perms between the ages of 12 and 20 to be very, very lucky to still have ANY hair growing on my head.

1. Artificial foliage. Although given my knack for slowly torturing plants to death, maybe it's time to reconsider this.


Reign of Chaos

The house is a wreck, I'm neglecting half of my clients, the pooper (a much more apt name these days than "cub") is cranking out nose goo like it could be sold on eBay, my voice has finally returned from a long vacation in parts unknown, and I didn't think I could get stretched any thinner than I am already and then this 217,000 2-story Wal-Mart with a 3-story parking garage attached in the middle of my neighborhood (no freeway access, man) thing came along and it turns out in fact I COULD get stretched even thinner. And did I mention the holidays? Houseguests? Decorating? Cleaning? Cooking? Making MERRY???

Some of it I'm looking forward to, and some of it not so much. The being busy isn't really that bad, and if I can make it to Target today to buy a new monitor that will actually stay plugged in and not go off in the middle of the night and wake me up because it's running out of juice, then there's the chance of getting at least 6 or 7 hours of continuous sleep each night, which these days is a veritable buffet of zzzzz's.

The pooper has lately taken to waking up screaming crying in the middle of the night - 0 to 60 out of nowhere. I have been racing in each time because the howls are truly startling and he's been standing in his crib and puts his arms out to me as soon as I walk in the room. So I pick him up in the dark and stand next to the crib with him doing the sway, and after about a minute or two his breathing has calmed and back to the crib he goes and goes right back to sleep. Sometimes this happens twice in one night, so last weekend, on the second one, I didn't go in, just to see what would happen. After two minutes the screaming and crying completely stopped as abruptly as it had started. Boom, out. So now maybe I'll give it a few minutes before going in again, and maybe this nuttiness will stop.


Camping with a Toddler

Last weekend we took the cub on his first camping trip. We kept it easy and straightforward by camping nearby, at the Rocky Hills Ranch just across the highway from Smithville. By staying relatively nearby, if the poop hit the fan we could pretty easily make it back to town in under an hour.

Some learning points:

- better to camp with toddlers when the days are a little longer if they tend to wander off. The cub just wasn't interested in staying near the campfire, even though it was warm and toasty.

- bigger tents ARE better. For his first trip, the cub seemed to be willing to accept that the tent was like any other "room" (and, although it was a tad embarassing, our large tent is actually larger than the smallest bedroom in our house).

- it's really hard to keep a hat on a toddler's head while he sleeps.

- hot dogs rule.

- helpful items if you can park near your campsite: a small folding table, collapsible chairs, an easy-serve igloo cooler filled with water for drinking, washing, cooking etc., a propane "stove".

Overall, I think the cub enjoyed himself. Our friends commented more than once on how "independent" he is, as we would watch him stroll fearlessly off into the distance by himself. Also, there were a couple of times that he walked over to the car and gestured, as if to say, "Okay, this park has no slides or swings or steps. Time to go home." We took the advice of friends and brought Benadryl to help with sleeptime, which was a good thing. Next time we'll go when it doesn't get quite so cold at night, and we'll have better chairs. And better food.

Turkeys and Angels

A couple of weeks ago my neighbors and I got the shocking news that a Wal-Mart was to go into our neighborhood as part of the redevelopment of the Northcross Mall. Needless to say, the vast majority of us are opposed to this. Unfortunately, no one knew about this until after the lease had been signed and the site plan approved. A Wal-Mart in central Austin. The apocalypse must be near. Those responsible would be the un-invited turkeys to the holiday season.

Being a TypeAMama, of course a development like this just puts one to work figuring out how to make it not happen. Enter the Angels. I am amazed at the dedicated, qualified, and committed people who have come forward to spearhead the effort to ensure that the redevelopment at Northcross includes neighborhood input and reflects the best planning principles and development vision for the area. Which, by the way, does not include a 24/7, 219,000 square foot supercenter with a three-level parking garage attached.

For more information, go to www.responsiblegrowthfornorthcross.org.


GOP Takes a Spanking

Ok, so this is a new direction for the blog. Truth is, I frequently have lots more on my mind besides the cub, and I'm thinking I may write more if I broaden the horizons here a little. Plus, it's more interesting for me to write about all the things a Type "A" Mama might have on her mind. So here goes.

One thing - my politics go pretty far to the left. Not as far as communism - I do, after all, represent profitable businesses and anyone who's had the opportunity to negotiate on the other side of a deal with me knows how seriously I take the "profitable" part of my job. And there are some things I just don't think the government ought to be properly involved in. Like telling people who they are allowed to fall in love and build a family with, for instance. Which brings me back full circle (these days) to the left end of the spectrum. Just so you know where I'm coming from.

I'd like to think that the recent election sweep for Democrats indicates a more socially progressive nation than I had hitherto dared hope for, but I don't think so. I think, rather, that it reflects the very deep American pragmatism that comes to play in our political decisions. Americans will vote based on cultural values when everything else important is more or less taken care of. But when things are going seriously awry - corruption, an unpopular war, repeated failures of leadership, crippling health care costs - they'll fire whoever's in office and bring in a new guy, even if there's disagreement about abortion, gay marriage and stem cell research.

I hope that the Democrats will recognize that their mandate now is to govern. Which means rolling up their shirt sleeves, extending an open hand across the aisle, and starting to put solutions into place that never would have been passed in the all-GOP Congress. Start to seriously consider a single-payer system for goodness' sake. Raise the minimum wage. Create a sensible path to citizenship for immigrants that separates the contributors from the criminals. Invest heavily in efforts to reduce greenhouse gasses and dependence on foreign fossil fuels. Increase funding to education and provide tax relief for college tuition.

Get to work.


Speech Delays

I'm really tired and this is really a boring entry unless you happen to have a 19 month old child with speech delays and you're considering the Early Childhood Intervention Program. In which case, read on. Otherwise, this entry's really only good for helping you get to sleep tonight. In fact, I got sleepy writing it.

The cub is going on 19 months old and doesn't really have any words yet. He's starting to get a little more varied in his sounds, he gestures and points and tries to communicate, he signs a little, and he understands when we tell him something simple to do, and sometimes he even does what we ask him to. But no words - more specifically, no consonants. Not even mama or dada. So I've called in the Early Childhood Intervention people.

Today was our first meeting, the initial "Intake". The program seems to be pretty fantastic, very affordable, and we can stop at any time. I have to admit that I'm a tad skeptical about the young woman who came to meet me for the intake, though, because she looks to be straight out of college. Not that there's anything wrong with that, and she comes across as very informed, articulate, and conscientious about her work; it's just strange to be turning for help to someone almost half my age. Wearing jeans and a t-shirt and carrying one of those cute little mini-purses didn't help. She wants us to get the cub's hearing checked, just to be sure, since he had all of those ear infections from 7 - 11 months. We'll get that done after the first of the month, after DH's insurance from his new job kicks in. We'll find out if he's eligible for the program after the assessments are complete. If he has less than a 5-month developmental delay, he's not eligible. Which would be a good thing, but also a bummer not to qualify for a little intervention.

We've about worn ourselves out reading to the cub, saying words to him, cheering and congratulating him every time he makes a sound and repeating it back to him. I probably say "up", "in", "out", "down", "more", "ball", "bye-bye", "cup", "book", "open", "closed", "eat", and "drink" about a jillion times a day. Not to mention also colors, letters, shapes, numbers, and lots and lots of singing. For a break I'll read an article on recent developments in trade secret law. I'm doomed.

DH is starting a business with a friend that takes lots and lots of coding for the website before they can launch. I wasn't able to make enough $$$ to support us all while he worked on the business, so he's had to get some more immediate cash flow supplement and take a corporate job. Maybe we can recover our savings and pay credit card debt down for awhile and then he can quit again. The insurance in the meantime will be nice. Although, I have to say, the people at Golden Rule are not half bad if you have to make do between jobs. For the three of us the premium was only $930 every three months, with a total family deductible of $5,000. Unfortunately they excluded c-sections for me, so if we 'd gotten pregnant on the plan it would have been pretty outrageous. But other than that it's been pretty good. DH developed viral meningitis and we blew through his deductible pretty quickly with the trip to the emergency room, but everything after that was covered 100%.


I Have Invented a Toddler Breakfast Recipe!

I got inspired this morning and came up with the following. The cub loves it and right now is swinging by his little table to pick up more bites while he plays. Raisins are his FAVORITE, so this was an easy win.

Rice Pudding Pancakes

1 cup cooked brown rice
½ cup rolled oats, ground
¼ cup self-rising flour or pancake mix
¼ cup raisins
½ banana, sliced thinly
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
(optional: ¼ cup ground almonds – use a little more milk if you do this)
2 eggs
½ cup whole milk
1 tsp vanilla
(optional: 1 tsp sucanat sugar)

Combine first six ingredients in large bowl (include ground almonds if using) and lightly stir with a fork so that fruit and rice are evenly sifted with flours. In a small bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly with a fork. Pour wet ingredients onto dry and combine. These pancakes can be a little tricky because they may want to stick. It may help to spread the batter with the back of the spoon to make a slightly thinner pancake.


Looking Back on a Great Weekend

Many things made last weekend fabulous. For one thing, we had dinner with friends Friday, Saturday AND Sunday nights! And we only actually invited ourselves over for one of them! Friday night was pizza night at the Type A household, and friends came over with their 2 month old darling to join us for that. Then Saturday night, when we usually would have gone out for a cheapy family night out at Vinny's or Threadgills, we were invited to join friends for a Whole Foods buffet. Sunday some other friends cooked Ethiopian fare which was very very good, especially considering that these friends had never been to an Ethiopian restaurant and this was their first go at a very different method of working with spices and butter and such.

(Aster, if you EVER want to open another Ethiopian restaurant and are looking for investors, groupies, whatever - just let me know.)

Also, we went to the new Half Price Books on Parmer on Saturday afternoon and had a great time. There were balloons and lemonade and animal crackers and a large man in a green worm costume that all kept the little guy very entertained. He had a great time running around the aisles laughing and giggling and every one was pretty tolerant of this in the festive atmosphere. Plus, I picked up two books from my Amazon wish list and a couple others that would have been on my list if I'd known of them: Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Living to Tell the Tale (the first of three promised volumes of memoirs from one of my most favorite authors), Raising Self-Reliant Children in a Self-Indulgent World (have I mentioned the Type A thing lately?), Isabel Allende's Zorro, and a(nother) toddler cookbook. I can't wait to get started on them, and the cookbook has a rice pudding recipe that's more like rice pudding casserole that I might actually be able to get the cub to eat - rice and eggs! Woohoo!

But now for the "awwww" moment: the cub has made his first REAL FRIEND. Yes, he's just 16 months old, and parallel play is pretty much the thing, but the Ethiopian-food-cooking friends happen to have a daughter just three weeks older than the cub and they are truly two peas in a pod when they're together. She already has a name just for him - her little version of his actual name - and he is pretty much enthralled with her when she's around. She spent the evening bringing him little things that she thought he might like, and he could barely take his eyes off her when they sat across from each other for dinner. DH told me today that the cub had also gently patted her on her shoulder, but that he was the only one to see it. This is HUGE. See, when DH or I hold the cub, we pat and rub his back to give him love. Lately, the cub has taken to gently patting us on the shoulder when we hold him, giving the love back. So when he did this for his friend, he was expressing comfort and affection the only way he knows how.



Get Out Your Sweaters!

My new absolutely favorite website is www.accuweather.com. You can look up the weather forecast for anywhere on the planet. Really, type in Kathmandu, and they'll tell you that they are expecting thunderstorms tonight, about the time that you and I are sitting down to enjoy lunch.

I'm obsessing about when, exactly, the oven I live in will start to cool off; when will the Great First Cool Breeze of Autumn make it's arrival? Now, by cool, I mean a day that the high stays below 95, so stay with me folks. So, every day I look at the forecast in the morning paper for the next five days: 100, 101, 101, 100, 100. Then I find accuweather, whose forecast goes out to fifteen days, and now we're getting somewhere.

I used to do this same thing from the other perspective when I was in college in New York and just dying for the feeling of warm sunshine on my face around late March, and there were still a few weeks to go. Frequently, just to cruelly taunt my southern ass, it would snow in April. April, man. That's just wrong.

So here's the fabulous news from accuweather: the high for Saturday, August 25, is 93! And then Sunday? 91!!!! Don't even ask me about Monday - it's such a great forecast I'm afraid to repeat it and maybe scare away the nymph of cooler breezes. But, through September third, the high stays below 95 every day. I've been checking the forecast again every day to see if they've changed their minds, but so far they're standing by their numbers, those plucky guys. So go get your shirts with sleeves on them back out, because winter is upon us!


Can You Prevent Ear Infections?

The cub starts back at daycare full-time on Thursday. If the whole ear infection thing starts up again, we're royally screwed. Our insurance now is high-deductible coverage through Golden Rule. As a result of the cub's medical history (how much history can a 16 month-old child rack up?) they excluded anything to do with his ears or his upper gastrointestinal system from coverage.

Well, shit.

So, when he starts to get sick again, as is highly likely once he's back in daycare, and if it all goes straight to his ears again, as it frequently did, then ALL OF HIS ILLNESSES ARE ON US.

So I'm ready to try anything that his doctor says won't hurt him to ward these things off. For starters, I bought some kick-ass probiotics this morning. Of course I forgot to give him any of the magic stuff today, but at least it's there, in the fridge, for when I do remember it. His doc says it won't help, but won't hurt either, and if we avoid just one visit to her office as a result of the probiotics, they will have paid for themselves SEVEN TIMES OVER.

Step number two is making sure he's getting all of his minerals and good protiens and fats and fiber and basically has a well-rounded, nutritional diet of real, whole foods - as little added sugars (esp. HFCS), over-processing, hydrogenated oils and other assorted crap as possible. I'm not into vitamin supplements because the body doesn't absorb them as well and because some things in too high quantities shift over from boosting immunity to compromising it, like iron for instance.

Step number three is making sure he gets enough sleep. Although naps at daycare will be hit and miss, he zonks out around 7 - 7:30 each night. And his canines are coming down now, so we're almost through the worst of the teething. Sleep won't be a problem.

So, if anyone's still reading my blog, and you have any suggestions for how to protect the cub's ears from end-to-end ear infections this season, I'm all ears.


There's Too Much Going On and I Don't Feel Particularly Funny About It

So that's a silly, long title, but it's what I've got. The cub will be starting at a new daycare soon because we were worried he was getting too isolated and not enough stimulation hanging out at home with the nanny all day. I really like the daycare that we found for him, and their play areas absolutely ROCK. But, there's no way they'll be giving him the constant hugs and kisses that he's used to at home and with his sitter, which sucks, and makes me sad. Also, he'll start getting sick a lot again, and we only have a high-deductible insurance policy and they excluded anything to do with his ears or his upper gastrointestinal system because of his history of ear infections and acid reflux, so if anything goes wrong or the doctor raises the specter of tubes again - it's all out of our very own wallets.

So, it's a good thing I've signed on another client while DH looks for a job. I'm busy and (starting next month) finally making enough to support all of us and our crazy habits, but I miss the cub.

In other news, so far the acupuncture and herbs are not working their magic. My last cycle was a measly 25 days. I guess it's a good thing it's months before I'd consider talking with DH about trying to get pregnant again. DH will be 40 this year, so we are going to Paris to celebrate over the new year. NO WAY am I going to Paris pregnant: no wine, no unpasteurized cheese, no bleu steaks, no SHOPPING.

I've been so busy the last month or so - time has flown by. We went to Houston for my 20th high school reunion, which was both weird and a blast. I knew a lot of those people from elementary school, and I walked around with DH saying things like, "See that guy? He got nosebleeds all the time after recess in the first grade. See that woman? I accidentally beaned her in the head with a softball in the fourth grade. See that guy? He got me into trouble all the time by getting me to lean back in my chair in the third grade." I stopped by to say hello to said third-grade trouble-maker, who was always a cutie, even as a boy, and met his girlfriend (who was not the wife I'd met at the 10-yr reunion) and had a laugh about the leaning back in the chair thing, and the girlfriend says, "Thank you so much for not saying you remember him for being a great kisser!" Ha - I wouldn't know, but it wouldn't surprise me. Some of the shy girls were now absolute knockouts, some of the trashy girls still were, some of the loud obnoxious guys still were, most of the popular skinny girls still were, but mostly everyone just seemed well, happy, and enjoying their lives. It was just good to see people that I'd known as a kid doing okay and looking happy. It lifted my spirits and made me think maybe the world isn't imploding slowly into a piece of angry ash. I should stop reading the news.

The next day after the reunion we took the cub for his first outing to the beach. Let me just say that sticky sunblock, combined with airborne gritty sand, combined with a tired cub rubbing his eyes, equals a very unhappy cub. He loved being out in the water with us, but that was short-lived. We'll try it again next year.


Boulder Sounds Nice

I hate the summer in Texas. I'm a native, so I should be used to this, but this SUCKS. I don't want to write (obviously - been almost two weeks since the last post), work, exercise, cook, eat, have sex, or really do anything that requires movement or effort. I just want to float in my pool with a cool beverage or sit in the over-airconditioned glory of our tv room (thanks to the mini wall unit) and watch BTVS reruns off the DVR while the cub happily plays independently with his blocks and toys. Every summer I dream of moving north, and this summer is no exception, although usually I don't start talking seriously about it until August.

The cub is braving the heat fabulously. If I would let him, he would spend every waking moment outside. In spite of slathering SPF 50 sunblock on him every day, he has acquired a slight browning to his arms and face. We have decided to try full-time daycare with him again. Now that he's fully mobile, he's getting bored at home. We take him to the park in the morning after breakfast, usually around 8:00, then on an errand after his morning nap before lunch to somewhere where we can let him run around a bit, and then I take him on another outing or DH takes him to Radijazz before dinner, and still he is bored and wanting some kind of excursion in the moments in-between. If DH or I go out the door during the day and don't take him with us, he has a full-on meltdown. So, we are registered at the Children's Courtyard at the Spicewood Springs location, because they have kick-ass play areas, and we'll see how it goes. I'm worried about him getting sick because we are currently on catastrophic coverage-type insurance (DH is currently job-hunting, but that's another story ...). But, I think the expanded play opportunities (and my expanded work opportunities) will be worth it.

We have friends in town from Dallas, which I love because then I get lots of girl-chat time without even having to leave the house. Tomorrow DH is leading a naming ceremony for their 6-month-old son. This will be DH's first naming ceremony, and he's considering it even more important than a wedding. He explained why to me, and it involved references to Wittgenstein and Derrida, so I won't try to elaborate. It should be lovely. And there will be sangria. Mmmmmm, sangria.


WooHoo! I Got To See a Movie! In a THEATRE!

Thanks to DH for taking the late-afternoon - evening shift tonight so that I could GO SEE A MOVIE! I was going to see the pirate movie (Johnny Depp in my favorite JD character) but it was sold out, as DH had warned (I should know by now to listen to him about ANYTHING having to do with movies), and I couldn't bring myself to purchase a ticket, leave the theater, and come back again to drive all over creation to find another parking space, so I opted to see something else - The Devil Wears Prada.

Very cute and fun. Stars two women who went to my alma mater, so of course I'm a tad biased, but I thoroughly enjoyed myself. And yeah, okay, I feel fat now, too, but that will wear off by tomorrow. In my (and probably most) line of work, it's possible, but not necessary, to lose oneself in one's work: to sacrifice relationships, friendships, dreams, integrity, your health - whatever - to get ahead. Historically, I don't know that there's ever been a time that women have had so much opportunity to live a life out of whack (other than the more socially acceptable lost-herself-in-her-kids option). And given that those of us in domestic relationships (I can only speak for hetero here) likely are still the primary caretaker of things domestic, if things start to get too demanding at work, we REALLY FEEL IT. Anyway, the movie reminded me of how much I LOVE my life (part-time freelance is da bomb), and I came home in time to catch the cub before he fell asleep and we cuddled and sang songs while he grabbed my nose and poked my teeth and laughed. Pardon my bliss.


Will I Get "It" Back?

Between family visits and holiday goings-on, I've been a busy little such-and-such. Hence the lack of posting over the last several days. It's like I've been walking around with an itch I haven't been able to scratch. Aaaah, that's better.

I was standing in the checkout line at my little neighborhood health-foods grocery (God bless them for staying open and providing a third alternative to the exhorbitant WF and massive madhouse HEB), and I noticed a very pleasantly scented candle in a clear glass votive, and I thought of how nice it would be to have it sitting on the back of the toilet in the hall bathroom where there is no fan, so that any guest's malodorous adventure is immediately broadcast to the public areas of the house. Then the increasingly vertical cubzilla entered my little daydream, and he stumbled in, saw the pretty shiny thing, reached up on his tippy-tippy toes, got it in his grasp, and dropped it. The candle immediately got a big mental "X" over it.

I do this a lot. I don't wear white anymore because DUH. I have these killer heels that I hardly ever wear because I'm frequently carrying the cub, generally over pavement to get from the car to the whatever, and like I'm going to pull a Brittney because spunky flats just don't look as sharp as a good heel. I hardly ever have time to do more than powder and lip gloss for make-up, I rarely cook anything too exciting anymore because usually I'm cooking for us AND the cub and I don't see a 15-month-old choking down a seriously rare steak with foie gras sauce - or heck, even beef stroganoff, and there are loads of lovely things I'd love to have around the house except that I've surrendered it to Fisher Price, Leap Frog, and Little Tykes.

As a temporary change, I don't really mind any of this. In fact, I'm kind of enjoying the metamorphosis that is parenthood, and lord knows my cooking techniques could stand a little shredded sweet potato, ground oatmeal, and wheat germ to balance things out a bit. But I'm a little scared that after five years of this, when I can start reclaiming some of the house, my time, my wardrobe, and the menu, that I will have forgotten how not to be like this. I'll forget how great it feels to wear a stunning white cotton skirt. I'll forget to add those little aesthetic/artistic touches around the house that make it just a little more soothing and calming. I'll have forgotten how to make bearnaise sauce. And will I ever get the melody to "A Bicycle Built for Two" out of my frickin' head?


If I Were All Powerful

There are lots of things I would do, just in my own tiny spec of a corner of the universe:

-- My nanny is illegal, which makes me a felon, I think, for hiring her. She is fabulous and there could be no better caretaker out there for my son, legal or not. She was brought here by her abusive husband (who was subsequently deported for said assaults) and her kids are US citizens and she is not. Not only is she a single mom with three boys under 10, but she is legally prohibited from working to support her family. What kind of BULLSHIT is that? So, if I were omnipotent, I would start by making it possible for her to get a Real job, with insurance and paid vacation (althought I do what I can) and sick days and shit, like she dreams about.

--There's a woman who panhandles at the Mopac intersection near my house every weekday morning and into the afternoon. She's been there, reliably, for months now. I noticed today that she seems skinnier, not that she was particularly heavy to start with - she looked fit. Now, she's starting to look almost gaunt. If she can make it to the intersection every day, surely she could make it just as reliably to one of the nearby offices. If I were omnipotent (and a business owner), I would ask her to show up just as she is and find an entry level position for her and train her if necessary. If she can be that reliable and endure the hours on her feet in the sun, surely she could handle an air-conditioned office and a regular paycheck.

--I have a friend who was diagnosed with breast cancer a year ago (her link is to the right - Shauna Wears Pink). She's made it through the chemotherapy and is going to go ahead and have a bilateral mastectomy, to help her chances of surviving to see her son grow up (and old). The cancer's behind her now - nothing I can do about that - but if I were omnipotent, I'd make it so she could keep her breasts. She nursed her son for 8 months, pumping up to 6 times a day to make sure that he had sufficient breastmilk because she went back to work full-time when he was 8 weeks old, and it meant so much to her, and to him, and I'm just very, very sad to have to say goodbye to her breasts, strange as that sounds.

--If I were omnipotent, karma would work a hell of a lot faster.

I love love love Thursdays

Because nice women come and clean my house while I'm gone and then I come home and it smells nice and I can walk barefoot and not feel little gritty things sticking to my feet and when I get into bed (which I am blessedly about to do), the sheets are soft and fresh and don't smell at all like sweat or cats (not that I particularly mind those smells, but fresh once in a while is good, too). I must give a shout out to my mom, who can craze me to no end and who can also be an angel from heaven, for funding the house cleaners. Thanks, Mom!


A Sudden and Lengthy Digression for Trees

The cub has walked. All by himself. Thank. God.

Also, it turns out he is speaking, just not in English. Today when I was home for lunch with him and our nanny, I realized he was saying "ah-wa" for water ("aqua") and "ma" for more ("mas"). Not only does my child speak, he's bilingual.

If you're interested in what's going on with the trees in Austin, here's a link to the Task Force's recent report. Like an idiot, I have volunteered to serve on the board of directors of my neighborhood association. The association's great - what makes me an idiot is thinking that I would have time to accomplish everything I'd like to. But, I figure, being over-educated and a total busy-body should be put to good use somewhere.

It's ridiculous how hard it is to find a copy of this report online. You may not realize it, but Austin Energy very recently has begun aggressively removing and severely cutting back trees to reduce power outages after storms. While tree-trimming to reduce electrical outages sounds logical, and it is, there was no evidence or study supporting the very aggressive removal and clearance standards that Austin Energy has recently instituted. Meanwhile, our neighborhoods, particularly central neighborhoods, are losing precious shade and beauty.

One morning in December some central Austinites woke up to find ribbons tied around their trees, indicating which ones were to be removed entirely and which were to be "trimmed" - i.e., severely cut back. They promptly went before the City Council and the City Council appointed a task force to study and report back on the laws, policies and procedures governing tree-trimming and removal by Austin Energy.

What they basically found is that there is really no oversight on the authority of Austin Energy to cut down trees on private property, there is no coordinated city policy or plan describing goals and objectives for urban forestry, and there is no procedure for coordinating tree-trimming plans with neighborhood councils or other existing community organizations. The task force made several reasonable, workable suggestions for remedying the current situation and better integrating Austin Energy's tree trimming practices with city and community organizations and long-term goals. They also suggested that Austin Energy reassess their new clearance standards and trimming cylces based on (duh) a study of species-specific growth rates and other relevant criteria.

Now it's up to City Manager Toby Futrell to review the task force findings and report back to City Council with recommendations. During City Council meetings last spring Ms. Futrell was reportedly dismissive towards some of the private citizens whose houses are now exposed to the glaring heat and whose backyard view has been altered from leafy and green to empty and industrial.

So why the sudden and lengthy digression? Well, (a) I care enough about the topic to not mind boring you with my rant; (b) "tree" was one of the cub's first words, which he then used for everything that he could point to; and (c) I romantically hope that the more people who are aware of the issues and what's at stake can only help things come to a sane, reasonable, and shady resolution.



Today I went for my first appointment with my acupuncture doctor since we tried to induce labor with the cub (it didn't work). I had gone to him before I got pregnant with the cub, having had two miscarriages, so that the third time I would definitely stay pregnant (it worked). Now that I'm having regular cycles again, and they're quite short again, and DH and I aren't specifically trying NOT to get pregnant (but not trying to either), I thought it would be good to get my qi back in line or whatever it is he does - just in case.

When we first started trying to get pregnant, we succeeded the very first time. We felt like pro's. Two months later I miscarried. There was no explanation or discernable reason; I just started spotting, which carried on for ten days, and then it was gone. Five months later I was pregnant again, and six weeks later that one also was gone. I was starting to feel hopeless.

When I had the second miscarriage, I had an image in my mind of my womb, and it was like a slippery, muddy slope. The baby (who I saw as an adult person) was trying to hang on, but they just couldn't. The shortness of my cycle wasn't enough to be out of the "normal" range by the standards of western medicine. My OB ran a few tests after the second miscarriage just to rule out a few things, and everything came back normal. I decided to try Traditional Chinese Medicine. I knew there was something about me that wasn't giving the embryo the chance that it needed to take root.

After a few months, my cycle was back to way it had been when I was 16 - twenty years ago. When I mentally imagined my womb, I saw a lush, green meadow. The next time I got pregnant, I stayed pregnant, and a little more than 9 months later we had the cub - all 9 lbs., 4 oz. of him. I really, REALLY hate acupuncture. I'm a total wuss around needles. But it's worth it.

Tonight we went over to a friend's house for a gathering to celebrate his 40-something-th birthday. There were lots of babies there. They were all walking except for the cub. Even the 10-month old girl. One well-meaning friend who has a habit of speaking whatever he's thinking without any internal editor asked me whether the cub, who at 14 months is neither walking nor talking, was developmentally challenged. If it had come from anyone else I would have been hurt and offended, but this friend is one of those rare people who is truly without guile. I laughed it off and explained to him that some kids don't walk until they're 15 months, and that the addition of a spanish-speaking nanny to his life would probably slow down his language development, and anyway boys are slower, yada yada yada. But the question stuck, and I told DH about it, and now we're both a little worried. Which I guess makes us normal, first-time parents. Of all the needles I've had to deal with today, the unintentional one stung the most.


Dinnertime at the Type A Household

I think I've mentioned that we now eat dinner together every night as a family. Although DH and I ate dinner together before the arrival of the cub, it was on the sofa in front of the TV. Now, we sit down at the table with plates and placemats and everything. And we talk. We tell each other about our day, babble with the cub, talk about weekend plans - when did we have these conversations before? We also eat quite early to accommodate the cub's schedule, which is way healthier for us, too. In fact, I may get nutty and start trying to exercise a little in the evening.

Dinnertime has become an especially Important Part of the Day for the dog. He knows all of the cub's meal and snack times, and whines and cries under the cub's high chair when we're running late. The cub is generous with his meals. The toddler books tell us that when the child starts to throw their food on the floor, they're done. Not so for the cub. After a few minutes of scarfing down his favorite foods for himself, as he approaches the more leisurely portion of the meal, he looks to either side of the chair to see where the dog is patiently waiting, carefully selects a morsel for him, and Bomb's Away! He's so delighted with this interaction with the dog that he sometimes gets carried away and throws his milk on the dog, too. Perhaps the dog would like some "drink" to wash down the salmon with homemade cilantro-walnut pesto and mashed potatoes with truffle oil? Very thoughtful of him, don't you think?

We've tried to tell the cub "No" and "Food stays on the tray" and such, which the cub finds hysterical. He shakes his head back and forth back at us with a big grin, mocking us: "Oh no, of course we don't throw our food to the dog, I wouldn't ever dream of doing that."

Tonight, DH went for a post-prandial walk-about and got the dog's leash. We were wondering whether he would abandon his post under the high chair for the rare treat of a walk (yes, we should walk him more often, but wait until you find out where his priorities lie). Nope, not a chance. The dog walked over to DH, sniffed the leash, confirmed there were no scraps around, and returned to his post under the chair.


Brentwood Tavern RULZ

The information-about-Austin-for-families-with-toddlers posts are admittedly a tad bor-ing, but I don't have anything else to write about tonight except to relate how fussy the cub is becoming. So, here's the latest in my attempts to be informative.

Brentwood Tavern is located on North Burnet, North of Koenig, adjacent to the Farmer's Market. There's an indoor seating area, but skip this unless you just really can't stand any more of Austin's heat, because the patio is remarkably pleasant.

There's shade, wrought iron and wooden chairs (no plastic loungers here), seriously yummy food, beer, live music, a kid's menu, and a PLAYSCAPE. Right next to the tables. If you're trying to eat more healthfully, well, frankly the choices are slim. The place is for omnivores, and I'm not sure that they even have any vegan options. When we're there, we skip the fried foods/quesadilla choices on the kids' menu and order the cub a plain chicken breast on a whole wheat bun, slices of avocado, and the bean casserole. The bun is sweet, which isn't a good sign for healthfulness, and the bean casserole is probably chock full of things I refuse to even have in my pantry, but once a month can't hurt, and the cub has so much fun in the middle of all the chaos and kids. And I get to sit down and drink a cold beer that someone else poured for me. The adult menu choices are sufficient, and I haven't had anything there yet that wasn't so yummy it was just wrong. One more thing - the staff there are accustomed to serving families with young kids, and I have never picked up a give-me-a-break vibe when I asked our waitperson to please bring us one more ... cup of milk, straw, fork, beer for mommy. They know their core clientele.


Outing to the Trails at The Arboretum

According to the temp gauge on the Subaru, it was a scorching 97 degrees this afternoon at 3:00. The cub had been inside all day because we had visitors from out of town and thus hosted a brunch so other friends would have a chance to relax and visit and we all had a nice mini-reunion around quiche, home-made biscuits-n-sausage gravy, fruit, way potent coffee, and mimosas. Mmmmmmmm. But the cub was non-plussed, and he wanted out.

Lord knows how many times I've driven past the pond at the back of the Arboretum shops, and yet I've never walked down the trail or explored the areas back there. Because of the shade, chance of seeing geese and ducks, and ability to duck into an air conditioned store if conditions became unbearable, we decided to set out for the unknown.

What a fabulous afternoon. We packed the cub's snack and water, took our "indoor" stroller in case we ended up in Barnes & Noble (of course we did, but we still should have taken the BOB instead) and headed out. Finding parking was a bit tricky, but then we set out to the courtyard adjacent to Amy's ice cream and basically kept heading to the back of the property. There were lots of water fountains, some very large, and everything near the shops was very stroller-accessible. Behind the shops there's a wonderful grassy slope shaded by clumps of live oaks, and there are 5 life-size stone-conglomerate cows in the shade that the children were climbing over and playing on. We set the cub up on one and he was delighted and even protested when we finally moved on.

The path to the pond is very uneven paved stone and has quite a few steps. This is when having the BOB would have been handy. We ended up letting the cub ride on DH's shoulders while I rattled behind with the stroller, which was probably the best option anyway. Unfortunately the pond is not well kept at all. The little shelter in the middle to protect the ducks and geese from the weather is rotting and falling apart and provides zero comfort for the birds. The water was quite low and in some places the pond-bottom was exposed and mucky. The pond is also nearly choked with green algae and trash, and at the picnic table where we stopped, there was broken glass, a beer cap, and lots of Amy's trash, despite the fact that there was a trash bin conveniently placed just a few feet away (what is WRONG with people???). Given all of this, it's not surprising that only a few geese and even fewer ducks have decided to make their home there. What a shame.

Nevertheless, the experience was still worthwhile. The shady areas immediately behind the shops were beautiful and pleasant, and I know the cub will have a great time romping around there once he's finally vertical. Down by the pond, there were picnic tables and lots of shade, so that we were perfectly comfortable. The geese came over to demand food, and were typically a tad agressive for my preference, but that's geese for you. It was the closest the cub had been to another animal that was not a pet, and he seemed to enjoy the experience.

So overall, if you're looking for a cheap (free) family outing, even in scorching weather, I give the Arboretum a thumb's mostly up, with the only negative point being the shabby, neglected condition of the pond and surroundings. Otherwise, it's very convenient, a good leg-stretcher if you have older children that need to work off some energy, and there's ice cream and books nearby. And it's FREE.


Like Giving a Cat a Pill

The cub had a nosebleed on Thursday, once getting up from his afternoon nap, and again that evening. Since then, the nostril has remained slightly crusted in black, as apparently whatever the source of the nosebleed is continues to seep lightly.

Of course, with the first nosebleed, I consulted all of my child health references. They unanimously directed that I should "gently grasp the soft portion of the child's nose (the part at the bottom) with your thumb and forefinger, applying pressure, for ten minutes." If the nosebleed had not stopped by then, I was to repeat the procedure. If it still hadn't stopped, I was to call my pediatrician.


All of these references are written for the care of children from newborn to five years old. The cub is thirteen months old. I can barely get a tissue near enough his nose to wipe it, much less hold onto it for ten minutes. The books show the perfect example of good information that is completely useless. Maybe they could also include a section describing the manner in which to accomplish the ten-minute nose hold:

1) Gently grasp child's body entirely with left hand and arm, clutching child close to your chest.

2) Retrieve child from under dining room table and repeat step 1).

3) Spray blood stains in blouse with stain remover and change into black pants and black t-shirt.

4) Sit in comfortable chair and hold child between knees, cupping back of head with left hand, while gently grasping bottom of nose with right hand.

5) Wash bite wound well with warm soapy water, and dress wound with topical antibiotic ointment and bandage. Make note to self to call doctor if fever or feelings of light-headedness develop.

6) Pull child down from bookcases that child scaled while you were tending bite wound.

7) Review contents of refrigerator and pantry for items to use as bribe to persuade child to let you hold onto nose for ten minutes; realize that child is thirteen months old and doesn't understand bribes yet.

8) Attempt to distract child with favorite DVD recording while you slowly reach for nose from behind.

9) Apply ice pack to your nose where the back of your child's head smacked it when he jerked away from your grip on his nose. Insert wads of gauze to stem bleeding.

10) Notice that child's nosebleed has stopped, apparently after getting down from the bookcase (make note to self to clean blood off bookcase); call partner to come look after child while you drive to emergency clinic for your broken nose.


Cesarean-Born Self-Therapy?

I've noticed a certain thing that the cub likes to do lately: he likes to crawl to where I'm standing (sometimes he does this with DH, too) and then butt his head against my legs to push and squeeze through between them. As soon as he's pulled himself through, he turns right around and does it again from the other side. He doesn't want me to do anything but stand there and let him push and squeeze himself through, again and again.

Our doula has a boy who was also born by Cesarean. She told me that her son (4 years old at the time) would do something similar when they were playing in the pool together. He would push up between her arm and her side and say, "Look at me, mama! I'm coming through the birth canal!" (Being the son of a doula comes with a full understanding of the process of birth.) She told me to watch for the cub doing things to mimic the experience of "pushing through" that he missed out on by being delivered by Cesarean.

If there's some connection between his new game and his Cesarean delivery, then that's just the coolest thing ever. I'm very amused and may try to devise play "tunnels" that he can crawl through and other birth-mimicking games we can play to help him integrate whatever he's working on. If anyone reads this who has any ideas, I'd love to hear them.


Feeling Isolated Today

I've been reading some very entertaining blogs by women, other wives and mothers, that I don't even know. I feel like a voyeur reading their blogs, and a little sheepish, like I'm turning into some sort of Internet Peeping Tomasina. But I'm discovering two things: 1) we all have very similar problems, victories, hopes and fears; and 2) I live a very isolated life.

I am only able to work part-time right now, because the cub can't go into regular daycare, and I wouldn't make enough working full-time to afford a full-time individual caretaker. Because I'm a free agent who charges by the hour, and my part-time caretaker is paid by the hour, I feel guilty about any hour that she's got the cub and I'm not working. If I'm paying for a caretaker, then I damn well better be able to bill for the time.

Also, because I'm working part-time (M-Th, 10-4), I'm unable to schedule any sort of regular playdates for the cub. His caretaker doesn't know any of my friends and is a spanish speaker, so I'm not sure that she (or my friends) would be comfortable taking him to someone else's house where she can't communicate with them or vice versa. Also, since most (read: all) of my friends are now mothers themselves, the only time that there is to realistically spend time with them is as a playdate, and I'm usually working during prime playdate hours. When I get home, it's a little bit of time with the cub, dinner, tv, and bed.

DH, bless his good intentions, supports my taking time for myself while the nanny is with the cub, but read above re availability of my friends. I just need to hold it together until the cub can get back to a regular full-time daycare program so that I can take off mornings or afternoons with him for us both to go spend time with friends. Until then, I'm afraid I'm stuck in this rut.


It's a Stomach Bug, Alright

The cub got up from his afternoon nap Friday with a 101.6 fever. I called the pediatrician's office and we got there just in time for the last appointment. Whatever it was, we caught it early enough that they couldn't tell if it was a respiratory bug or a stomach bug, but whatever it was, it was viral.

A vomit-y laundry and total loss of appetite later (his and mine), I'm pretty sure it's a stomach bug. And by the way, the dr. appointment without insurance? Yes, that was an $80 fever, to be told there's nothing they could do and to let it run its course. Of course it's best to rule out other more serious causes with a trip to the doctor, but sheesh.

So, Memorial Day weekend plans were put on raincheck while the cub recovers. He's been in a downright pissy mood, and who can blame him, what with the molars, the sour tummy, the fever, and the having to be house-confined for a few days. Of course I chose to stay and take care of the cub rather than represent the clan at the social events today, because I Am A Type A Mama and would have been calling DH every fifteen minutes to find out if the cub had a fever/had eaten anything/had pooped, so I might as well just stay put and let the one of us who would enjoy himself go have fun.


I Thought It Wouldn't Happen to Me

Growing up in the '70's, we gals got two messages pounded into us: have a career, and get married and have children. It's like the western world can't figure out what it's supposed to do with women. We're bright, capable, and yet we're also the uteruses for the human enterprise, and the enterprise fails if we don't keep wanting to incubate new humans and then nurture them and shield them with our very bodies if necessary so that they successfully grow into contributing members of the enterprise, thus ensuring the continuity of the species.

So I: got into a great college (check); majored in something useless and got into a great grad school (check); got a fabulous advanced degree and clawed my way to a half-decent career (check); got married (check); had a kid (check); put the kid into daycare (huh?); put the career on the back burner working part-time to still try to also be a mom and a wife (wtf?); felt guilty and resentful daily because I still enjoy my work (bad mom) and yet I'd happily quit in a heartbeat to do nothing but take care of my son and have a clean, organized house with plants blooming on the porch and a delicious meal waiting for my husband every evening (what a waste of an incredible education and years of hard work).

And then something happened Thursday that just put a stake in my heart (yes, still watching BTVS reruns). The cub's caretaker came at her usual time on Thursday morning and, as usual, got the cub up from his morning nap while I finished getting ready to go in to the office. When I came in to the cub's room for a bye-bye hug and kiss, the cub CLUNG TO THE NANNY. He has never, ever, E-V-E-R preferred anyone's hugs to mine. I shook it off and didn't force the matter (how sick would that have been?) and nibbled his toes and stroked his forehead and went on to work.

When DH told my mother-in-law about it, she kindly said don't worry, it happens to everyone. I kind of knew that, but somehow thought it wouldn't happen to me.

The cub developed a fever today - his first in almost three months. It came out of nowhere and is pretty high, so la doctora thinks it's probably viral and will just have to run it's course. I hate seeing him sick. I can tell that he doesn't feel well and I hate not being able to make it all better for him.


A New Cocktail for the Summer

We have bottles of things in the fridge and freezer that have been there for going on two years (pregnancy + nursing) that are still perfectly drinkable. Now that I get to belly up to the bar again, I've created my own cocktail to serve to friends who are coming over for burgers by the pool tonight. I don't have a name for it yet, but it will have something to do with bears in the summer.

2 oz. chilled key lime soda
1 oz. chilled limoncello
1/2 oz. chilled Rose's Sweetened Lime
1/2 oz. chilled unsweetened pomegranate juice
chopped ice optional
Serve in a champagne flute with a little lemon zest ribbon


Happy Mother's Day and Vive La Revolucion!

It's a known fact that bears being reminded of from time to time: for every person walking the earth at this moment there was a woman who became pregnant, stayed pregnant, and gave birth.

I have recently begun reading "The Mother Trip" by Ariel Gore. This plucky gal became a mother at nineteen - a high-school drop out who had travelled to China to study and in a few years found herself living in a borrowed apartment in Tuscany with her British boyfriend taking odd jobs to support them. I realized last night that she is younger than me, which I found kind of alarming, but that's another topic for another day ....

Here is an excerpt of Ariel's wisdom for today:

"Our intuition isn't always accessible. We need each other's support and helpful words. What we don't need is junk-food advice that tells us to ignore our feelings, that undermines our confidence and insults our intelligence. It's just a recipe for depression. Because what is intuition? It's a capacity of the spirit. It's knowledge. And what is depression? It's low spirits. It's knowledge withheld. but there is also a jumping-off point from this circular equation, a point where we can recognize our exhaustion for what it is, give ourselves a break, and in that quiet hour begin to transform the energy our culture has taught us to use to scrutinize and blame ourselves, and turn it outward, into something revolutionary."

Lord knows we need a revolution. Mothers of the world (and our mother-ing friends - the men and women who support, nurture, and give the gift of their love to those fortunate enough to be in their lives), UNITE.


JCPenney Is My New Target

Holy cow am I the last person to find out how CUUUUTE the clothes are at JCPenney now? Why didn't someone tell me this earlier? It would have been easy to work into conversation: "Say, TypeAMama, those parachute pants look great with that velour sweatshirt ... have you been to JCPenney lately?"

Turns out over the last year or two the department store chain has been re-vamping (and I do mean vamping) the lines they carry, and even managed to snag someone over from Macy's (Michele K? Michele something-or-other ....) with the Bisou Bisou line. Except JCPenney's prices rock. Today while I was there looking at sundresses (and I found not one but two classy numbers that made even my post-baby frame look enticing), I also saw and considered (might go back for it yet) a darling denim blazer that had seaming that even Stacy London would have praised, with a tad of stretch in the fabric to help enhance curves, a dark dye, and contemporary cut. It was on sale from $50 to $11.77. Yes, that's right folks. Skip your Starbucks for 3 days and you've paid for this blazer.


Acid Reflux After One Year

Back in the sweet early days of the cub, I would, on occasion, refer to him endearingly as the "devil spawn". It wasn't his fault, of course, that his sleeping was all messed up from being very young and, poor guy, having to deal with acid reflux's constant spitting up and irritation. So much for such a little guy.

He has been on Zantac, 3 X day, since he was 5 weeks old. (Some other time I'll write about the crappy, incredibly unhelpful, anti-support I received from some of my naturopathic care providers.) He is now very close to the point that he will be "outgrowing" his current dose, and if he stays asymptomatic we get to stop giving him the Zantac. Without getting his exact weight now, but making an educated guess based on what he weighed at his one-year visit last month, his doctor reckoned we were approaching that weight now, and to take him off the Zantac and see what happens.

A return to devil spawn, that's what.

The little guy is getting his molars in. All four at once. Two have just broken through, one is a giant, swollen bump, and the other is just moving into position. So he's already in a delicate state. Last night he woke up whining a little after midnight, which has been happening sometimes when the molars are giving him a lot of grief. But instead of getting back to sleep after the tylenol, he fussed and fussed and nothing I could do could get him to go back to sleep. At about 1:45 I went ahead and gave him his first dose of Zantac in about 30 hrs. and he went to sleep shortly after that - enough time for it to work. This morning sitting in his high chair at breakfast he gave a solidly wet burp. It's not over yet.

I'm painfully exhausted, and this being a new blog I have no readers yet (if I ever will - there are some truly witty, laugh-out-loud funny mama blogs out there), and I don't want to whine to friends about how exhausted I am right now, but I'm on the verge of tears. It's the accumulated sleep deprivation thing, and it's the beginning of a day needing to be patient, gentle and attentive to my uncomfortable trooper of a cub, which takes some energy, and also being able to multi-task and deal with clients because today's my "off" day, meaning the nanny doesn't come so I'm home with the cub, theoretically not working, but the business world doesn't take Fridays off, so I end up still needing to be available anyway.

I really wanted to be done with the Zantac. I was fantasizing about going to bed every night at 9 again, like way back in the day, instead of having to stay up to give the cub his evening dose.


Working Mom

What a reediculously redundant phrase. What mom isn't working? Sometimes I get so fed up with all of the advice and judgments - good and bad - about whether or not mothers should "go back to work". I still go around with the feeling that I have to justify, defend, and explain myself. To God, my mom, my clients, co-workers, strangers at the grocery store. Sometimes I'll jokingly refer to myself as "bad mom" - telling a friend how I accidently clobbered the cub with my Target bags when I was introducing myself to the prospective new nanny, for example. But I know I'm just playing with the deep fear that I might, in fact, be a bad mom. I think I'm a pretty good mom, but then there's that lurking, nagging, hard-wired self-doubt, which is the grain of truth that makes the joking funny.

Another one for the bad mom archives: I learned two more foods not to give to a 13-month-old tonight. Polenta and creamed spinach. The polenta might work after it's really set, and then cut into pieces and fried in the skillet to reheat. It wasn't set enough tonight, and wound up in the cub's hair, nose, eyes, ears, all over the hands and arms. He was very unpleased. Couldn't get rid of the stuff, and everything he touched became covered with it, including himself. Little King Midas with corn meal. And the spinach - well, it was just plain deadly. He's eaten spinach before, but just on it's own, cooked and thoroughly chopped, and flavored with some goat cheese or a dab of butter and lemon juice. He usually likes it alright. So I thought we'd advance to creamed spinach. I was very proud of my lower fat version, with diced red bell peppers and mushrooms, built a roux with whole milk instead of using a lot of cream, added a bit of grated sharp cheddar for flavor zing, and it was darn good. But I didn't chop up the leaves like I should have before I put them in, and so I gave my child what was essentially large, slippery, clumps that he couldn't easily chew to eat. What was I thinking??!!! So, dinner was sort of a disaster. I had to take him out of the chair to hug and comfort him and apologize when he had to struggle with a clump of spinach that really scared him/pissed him off royally, and he was in no mood to get back into mommy's chair of torture to eat any more, so I had to hold a little tray of peach pieces and bits of veggie burger in my lap and let him eat standing up holding onto my knees (as he isn't really walking or standing without holding onto something yet.) The dog was having such a feast that I had to lock him up in our bathroom for a little peace. I have been told that once the cub starts walking, he will refuse to eat sitting in the high chair and will just need to get up and move around during meals. This will be a boon for the dog. He'll think he's died and gone to heaven except that I still won't let him sleep on the chenille sofa.