Thursday, August 29, 2013

Summer's Last Hurrah

We spent our last summer weekend with a long weekend in Bend visiting great friends. Breezy, AJ and Gus were hosts with the most, and it was so nice to have just some regular downtime with some of our besties, rather that the usual run-around-over-planned-too-many-people-around social events we typically endure together. Gus and Francie played together very nicely, but more importantly, we got some quality grown-up time catching up, eating great food, and chillaxing in one of our favorite Oregon spots.

Let's call this one Arm.

And this one, Nah-nah, or Nose.

Bathtime for babies!

This toddler sized adirondack chair was a hit.

Park time with the mamas.

And the dah-dah.

My favorite pic - love these two.

Reservoir Dogs? Or just a walk to the park.

This bus driver would totally get fired for eating on the job rather than paying attention to driving.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


For book club this month we read Wild, by Cheryl Strayed. This has been a very popular book and is a New York Times bestseller. In my opinion, with good reason. I loved this book – I assumed that maybe it could be a bit boring because, really, how scintillating and page-turning can a thousand-mile hike be. But it was rather fitting, really, I saw so much of myself in it. At least, so much of my  younger self. On that note, Rach indicated that she did not enjoy the book - because she didn’t love the author; I won’t take it too personally :)

Strayed’s memoir is about hiking the PCT, yes, but also about finding herself and coming of age, so to speak. She was in her early 20s, her mother had recently died, and she had subsequently gone off the deep end and her young marriage ended in divorce. Obviously, the parts about her dead mom spoke to me, and there was one particular passage that I wish I could have written myself:

Page 267:

“But it was too late now, I knew, there was only my dead, insular, overly optimistic, non-college-preparing, occasionally-child-abandoning, pot-smoking, wooden-spoon-wielding, feel-free-to-call-me-by-name mom to blame. She had failed. She had failed. She had profoundly failed me.

Fuck her, I thought, so mad that I stopped walking.

And then I wailed. No tears came, just a series of loud brays that coursed through my body so hard I couldn’t stand up. I had to bend over, keening, while bracing my hands on my knees,  my pack so heavy on top of me, my ski pole clanging out behind me in the dirt, the whole stupid life I’d had coming out of my throat.

It was wrong. It was so relentlessly awful that my mother had been taken from me. I couldn’t even hate her properly. I didn’t get to grow up and pull away from her and bitch about her with my friends and confront her about the things I wished she’d done differently and then get older and understand that she had done the best she could and realize that what she had done was pretty damn good and take her fully back into my arms again. Her death had obliterated that. It had obliterated me. It had cut me short at the very height of my youthful arrogance. It had forced me to instantly grow up and forgive her every motherly fault at the same time that it kept me forever a child, my life both ended and begun in that premature place where we left off. She was my mother, but I was motherless. I was trapped by her but utterly alone. She would always be the empty bowl that no one could fill. I’d have to fill it myself again and again and again.

Although there are several differences between Cheryl’s story and my own – namely, hiking the PCT, young divorce, the age at which her mother died, the type of mother she was – there are many similarities between our feelings. Granted, I did not have anywhere near the level of maturity as she portrays here. Those last lines really get me, about be trapped but being alone, about being an empty vessel in which no one can ever truly fill. My mother has been dead over 12 years now, and only occasionally do I now have such moments of grief, sorrow, or anger as Cheryl describes here. Several weeks ago during a drive out to Manzanita, I had such an experience. The Bean was asleep in the backseat, my heart filled with love for this little nugget that Alex and I created together; a wondrous creature who insists on growing and changing and always blowing our minds by simply being. On the drive over the coastal mountain pass, through the trees that densely lined the road, I was reminded of the last trip my mom and I took together. We spent a night in Seaside, the last time we were together when she was decently well. I explicitly remember the road trip, she had asked me to take the wheel, because she was too tired to endure driving for more than 10 minutes anymore. She napped in the front seat of her red Neon, me increasingly aware of how sick my mother had become, but especially happy to feel like I was helping out some, before I would leave for a summer on the other side of the country. At the hotel while we pigged out on salt water taffy, after a short stroll in the sand, she explained to me about her seizures. Not the kind like in the movies, but more of a “space out,” a result of the cancer having metastasized to her brain. She napped more, me laying next to her in the hotel bed flipping through the TV channels. I still have a photo or two from that trip, an unflattering self-portrait of us during a stroll along the water’s edge. Her in her purple bandana and too-big prescription sunglasses. Me with my upper ear pierced multiple times, my hair pulled back, and my face makeup-free and fuller with youth and the effects of too much drinking.

During the more recent drive, with my daughter instead of my mother, I was struck by the absolute heartbreak of it all. It had been a while since I felt so utterly despaired, but I was smacked down with the anger of not having a mother of my own, no grandmother for my daughter, and then the grief of knowing that no one - not a soul, not even my husband, not my father, not my children, never - not ever, would love me the way my mother did. I only know this know because nothing can compare to my love and devotion to my own baby girl. It’s primal. I can’t help it. I might not always do right by her, but there is something so animal-like about a mother’s love. My eyes are welling up again as I write this, the feelings far beneath the surface, but the tectonic plates of my grief shifting a bit to make my earth quake. The idea,that the one person who loved me above all else perished, was too much for me to handle, my tears quickly turning into heaving sobs, and then retching. I pulled the car over to the side of the two-lane highway, hoping not to wake Francie, not wanting her to see me like this, or to know the threat of losing her mother, as I had mine. As soon as the sobbing turned to heaving, I collected myself, re-established the here and the now, acknowledged the terrible tragedy that is a young girl losing her mother, and prayed that the Bean would never have to share my experience.

My book club gathers tonight, where we may or may not talk about the book itself. And if we do not, this passage right here, written in my blog, is quite enough for me.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

1st Day of School

The Bean hit up daycare again today - as she had officially started "skuh" - and it went more smoothly than last week, fortunately. I had the distinct maternal pleasure of observing her to scream bloody murder, and then silently cry with a red face and tears streaming from her eyes, as soon as I turned to walk out the door at the school. Turns out she wasn't like that all morning, but that was the imprint in my mind. When I picked her up, her teacher, Jessica, provided me with a written daily update, and it was nice to hear that although she mewed "mamamama" and "dadadadada" intermittently throughout the day, she was mostly a happy camper who bebopped around asking for books and snacks. And then she was a pleasant as can be all evening and before bed. Needless to say I'm proud of my brave, grown-up girl. Now let's cross our fingers she doesn't revert to night waking/nursing.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

17 Months

In honor of the Bean's 17th-month birthday, I thought I'd change up my monthly post a bit and depict "A Day in the Life." Really, it's easier than trying to compile every little detail (that I love) about her. Too many new words, funny anecdotes, new favorites to try and draw on.

A Day in the Life - Sunday, August 18, 2013

7:15 a.m.
I hear the Bean calling out for us - lucky me, it's the 3rd day in a row we have all sleep past 7! Alex goes to retrieve her from her crib and she cries "mamamama" as he walks her into our room. "Muh, muh, muh" she insists for milk. She never says anything just once. We all lay in bed together cuddling, and she nurses for about 10 minutes while intermittently pulling off to chat with me - saying "buhbuh" and showing me her belly button in her too-tight, too-short shirt with her little-big-belly hanging out for all to see - or she takes nursing breaks to give me kisses (when I demand them) - or to point to "dada" excitedly, as though she's surprised that he's still in bed with us, as he is every single morning all summer long. I harass her with kisses and tummy tickles, and say "good morning," as she responds "mo nee." The points to Alex's nipple and says "muh," and we, once again, explain to her that those are Daddy's boobies, but that they don't have any milk.

7:30 a.m.
"Mmmmmmmm. Mmmmmmmm. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!" Must be time for bfast. Clearly, the Bean is hungry. No more cuddles, but that means it's time for waffles!!! No family I've ever known eats nearly as many waffles in a year as we eat in a week. Seriously. Thanks for the best present ever, in-laws. Life has not been the same since acquiring our waffle maker. But before we even make it out of bed, the Bean bombards us with requests for books. Baby Beluga. Down by the Bay. Are You My Mother. Again, again, and again. "Buh! Up! Puhpuh! Buh. Baaaahboooo!" (Translation = Book! Up (onto the bed)! Please! Book. Baby Beluga!)


8:15 a.m.
After terrorizing the dog by following him everywhere and tugging at his tail, and a few renditions of Goodnight Gorilla ("rara") we sit down to eat the delicious vegan-whole-wheat-waffles that have become our breakfast staple. Did I mention we like our waffles around here?


9 am
Park time. We walk the dog and the baby to April Hill Park for one of our thrice daily jaunts to swing, slide, and "hahk" (translation = hike) around the grass. We run into several neighbors on the way there, at the park itself, and again on the way home. It's like Melrose Place around here. Without all the drama. And with babies. And toddlers. And dogs. This is breeder territory, people. Seriously, this is where all the middle class folks came to buy their first house and raise their families. Some have been here two months, others have been here 20 years.

10 a.m.
We finally make it home from the park. The Bean is eager to give Nesta his "tuts" (translation = treats). We consider putting the Bean down for an early nap, so that she can be well-rested before our lunchtime picnic plans, but she doesn't show any signs of being tired yet. We just lounge in the living room and watch "baby tv" (translation = this is where Francie runs laps through the kitchen, begs us to read more books, or otherwise entertains us with random toddler shenanigans).

10:30 a.m.
So I guess she's tired after all, I nurse her to sleep in less than 5 minutes. So guess how this mama wants to spend her free time? Organizing! I've been so desperate to finish putting the living room back together (after painting it months ago), and to attempt yet another furniture arrangement. My handsome husband assists me in re-hanging our large mirror, moving our TV to the corner, relocating the big borrowed chair, and hanging new-old windows on the wall that will eventually house old maps. He's been so busy building that patio that he hasn't had the time and or energy to follow ALL of my orders, but humors me today.

11:45 a.m.
We are supposed to be in West Linn in 15 minutes, so as we start to get ready we make extra noise in hopes of waking the baby without deliberately waking the baby. No such luck. So then we go all creepy style next to her crib and just stare at her, willing her to wake up naturally. Our voodoo magic works, and she's happy to boot.

12:30 p.m.
We join a whole crew of WLHS Class of 2000 peeps who are all part of a Facebook group a friend started called "Lions and Friends," for those of us who are now in the mommy circle. We eat PB&J, mingle with friends and former classmates, introducing our very mobile little Bean to anyone she can take a second or two to pay attention to.

1:30 p.m.
She loves the park. She obsessively goes "up" and says "yeah" to all questions regarding the swing. At some point she becomes the nakey baby, disrobing down to her cloth diaper and tentatively walks through the fountain. It's a warm Sunday and Hammerle Park is very busy with young families. Francie calls for "dada" anytime Alex is more than 10 feet away.

3:30 p.m.
We finally arrive back home, after a short and failed attempt at my favorite antique/thrift shop in downtown Oregon City. Alex still needs a few screws before re-hanging the mirror, and the Bean take this opportunity to admire herself.

4 p.m.
Coloring and more "baby tv" (see previous translation).

4:30 p.m.
More nakey baby time with the kiddie pool on our fabulous new patio. "Buh buh!" Everybody loves a good belly button.

 4:45 p.m.
Dancing on the table with mama. The Bean likes herself some Macklemore.

5 p.m.
More books.

5:30 p.m.
Alex bikes to the store to get supplies to BBQ for dinner. Francie starts to show signs of fatigue - asking for "muh" (translation = milk).

5:50 p.m.
Another poopy diaper. Too many blueberries! She's a girl on the go - clean diaper? Check. Laps around the kitchen? Check. Kidney bean snack? Check.

6:30 p.m.
We strap her into her high chair for dinner. She tolerates about 2.5 minutes before playfully throwing all of her food across the dining room. I think she just made the world record for 1.5 year old bean toss. Unfortunately, Nesta does not help us to clean up this kind of food.

6:45 p.m.

Bath time for Beano!

6:55 p.m.
We putter around upstairs, making piles of clothes, putting away toys. Alex reads her Down by the Bay, I nurse and cuddle her for just a few minutes before laying her down in her crib with her Wubbanub. She cries for about 2.2 seconds and I blow her a kiss goodnight.

7:30 p.m.
According to our spycam, she's now fast asleep.

8 p.m. ...
TV time, prep for the week, shower and get ready for bed, read. And there'll be no middle-of-the-night posting because, thank goodness, our child mostly sleeps through the night now. Shloff gute! (translation = butchered German for sleep well).

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Awesome Week, Thanks

Monday was the Bean’s first day of “school.” She’s so brave, she didn’t cry when I dropped her off. I did, though. My eyes got wet as drove down the I-5 on ramp en route to work in Vancouver. I teared up because I was abandoning my baby girl. Leaving her in the care of strangers to fend for herself. I'm paying someone else to take care of her so I can go earn slightly more money to help take care of other people. Makes, sense, right?
Like how I called it school? That’s to make myself feel better for sending her to daycare. As a result of a lot of self-reflection as of the late, Alex and I have come to the conclusion that we feel so weird about the whole daycare sitch because of our belief system – we both associate daycare with poor families, or those who don’t love their kids. Where’d we get these crazy beliefs? From our own childhood, I imagine. We were both raised by our mothers. Sure, maybe they worked sometime in late elementary to early high school, but we never had to think about who would take care of us when we weren’t in school. Everyone we knew had a dad who worked and a mom who was home after school or drove them to and from soccer practice. I remember being a kid and feeling sorry for those kids who had to stay after school or go to KinderCare because their parents had to work and couldn’t pick them up until evening. I remember feeling bad for them, assuming both their parents worked because they were poor. And if they weren't poor, then their moms certainly didn't love them very much. I distinctly remember when I met my college roommate, Molly, and she told me that her mom was a successful lawyer who returned to work when Molly was just 3 months old. “How could a mom do that?!?” I remember thinking, exasperated. “Didn’t she love her daughter? Why have a baby if you're not even going to take care of it?!?”
So yeah, only the poor and neglected need childcare. Riiiiigggggghhhhhtttttt. Some spoiled little shits we are. Anyway, Francie made it to the ripe ole age of nearly 17 months before having her first foray in daycare. Between my maternity leave, Alex's summer break, my generous mother-in-law and best friend, my unemployment, my generous mother-in-law, and Alex's summer break, the Bean hasn't had to fend for herself much away from home.

So that part about her not crying at daycare? Ha. She'll do me one better. Not only did she cry, she cried for 3+ hours before finally falling asleep from exhaustion. Apparently she was decently consolable after her nap, but just sobbed "mamamamamamadadadadada" all. morning.long. Separation anxiety? Check.

And because Alex has not officially started the school year, and we therefore have not officially started daycare, we are also using my dad to help get us through this next week. Apparently she hates him, too, and chanted "dadadadadadadadadada" (see "Daddy's Girl" post) for a few hours in the a.m. before finally falling asleep for a nap. This is how she spent time with her BDA:

The thing is, part of me was looking forward to this whole daycare business. I am eager to see in what ways the Bean grows and learns. I'm interested to see what she's like in a social situation without parental oversight, how she interacts with her peers, and with her teachers. I'm curious to see how her communication and/or motor skills develop differently. I like the idea of her being comfortable with a wider variety of people, kids and adults alike. But now I fear she's a shy, co-dependent introvert who will never wean and can't be more than 36 inches from her parents (daddy).  I know, I know, this too shall pass. But when it comes to parenting, the amazing things seem to fly by, and the not-so-awesome things feel like they kinda linger (I'm thinking nightwakings, teething, colds, daddy preferences ... )

Aside from the dreaded separation anxiety, the other part about daycare that gives me pause is the lack of communication. In this day and age, I'm in near-constant contact with friends, family, colleagues, neighbors, etc. Yet the very person I am most interested in checking in on - the Bean - can't use her iPhone yet. And I don't imagine her teachers will be providing me with their personal cell phone numbers. When Alex watches her I get texts like this, letting me know when I can spy on her:

Or like this, letting me know when the Bean wants to say hi to mama:

And when Chris watched her, we got updates like this, about her napping and her lunch:

Or like this, with cute pictures of her playing:

And even when she's with Al, we get newsy texts (even if they break my heart/make me laugh out loud):

But with daycare? No texts. No photos. No frequent reports on mood, sleep, poopy diapers, or diet. I'll have to get used to just trusting that all is well, that no news is good news, and just look forward to the end of the day when I get to pick her up and she'll (presumably) be happy to see me. We'll give Blue Skies & Butterflies another chance twice next week, before going to the regular Monday-Wednesday schedule beginning in September.

So between the stress of daycare anxiety and BDA anxiety, on top of a busy caseload and negotiating Alex's new soccer coaching schedule, I was ready to call it a week already. And then this morning I was woken up at 5 a.m. to my baby crying from a pile of barf. Gross. And confusing. I was still half-asleep, and noticed a bad smell emanating from her crib, and checked her for diarrhea. Diaper was clean and dry. Then noticed the chunky bits in her hair, all over her clothing, and saturating her Soothie. Again, gross. We got all CSI about it. "What time did you go to bed? So she must have gotten sick sometime between midnight and 5 a.m." "The consistency of the bodily fluid resembles strawberries and bread." "Differential diagnoses include GI virus, meningitis, UTI, or stress." "Did she have anything weird to eat?" "Do YOU feel sick? What did you eat?" She seemed in good enough spirits, despite smelling like that one bar in college - not the one with the shuffleboard - and we whisked her away for an early, extra bath.

And then I ended my day at the park this evening with the Bean, my pants around my ankles, nursing a major welt near my crotch. Because somehow a honey bee made its way into my pants, flew up my leg, wanting nothing to do with a woman on the rag, and stung me on its way out. I immediately called Alex to tell him the news. He was worried something happened to the baby. He denied this as an "event," although I swear a bee sting is a big deal. Next time he stubs his toe I'm so not giving him any sympathy.

And the week's not even half over.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Family Camp

Oh my goodness did we ever have fun! Again, a week or two has since passed since our family camping trip - and Francie's first time camping - at Timothy Lake up near Mt. Hood, and since I don't have the words, I'm relying on the pictures. What a fabulous and family friendly campground, with the lake just a few steps aways, a single track for biking (if you have a sitter for the kid), and lots of "hahks" in the area. Best Close Family vacay yet.


Helping Daddy set up the new 6-man tent.

Tree gazing.

First time with juice!

Daddy cooking some bfast, ladies coffee clatch to the side.


The reindeer are obscured by the dirt.

"Hahk" with Daddy.

Gorgeous view from Timothy Lake.

Nearly-neked shoulder ride.

"Buh. Buh. Nuhnuh." (translation = book, book, nose)


Family montage.

This is what happens when you don't come prepared for the rain - indoor Bananagrams.

Mama and baby and Mt. Hood.

Seriously. Too much. I could look at us all day.

Do I have something on my face? On my pants?

Hover to Pin

Designed with ♥ by Nudge Media Design