Friday, August 26, 2005

Such sweet sorrow

I bid you adieu. For a week at least. We leave tomorrow for a week’s vacation on the sunny isle of Ocean City, NJ. There will be sand. There will be surf. There will be pizza, custard, French fries and fudge. Noah will conquer the ocean or it will conquer him. We’ll return with photos and stories aplenty.

A week without email access is nearly unthinkable for me. Worse than a week without a phone. And I’m certain a week without blogging will be weird too – I’ll constantly be composing blog entries in my head, all of which I’ll promptly forget. I might have to *gasp* write things down with a PEN. But even weirder than not writing my own blog will be not reading the blogs of all the people I now hold near and dear. All week I’ll be wondering: How is Becca making Utah the coolest state in the union? How is Anna’s little lentil? Has Katy heard from Handome Rob? Is Mandy meeting other moms? Is Katie eating enough PB&J for little Ellis? How are Mary’s wedding plans going? What are Lonna, Ethan and Dermot eating? Are the park visitors treating Kodi right?

I’ll miss you gals and I promise to work hard to catch up next week. Have a good one.

Most Important Day

In the Spring of 1996 my friend John was looking to replace the crazy-assed bass player that quit his band. Though the original members of the band had met as detainees of the Quakertown school district, John decided to place an ad for a new bass player in the Philadelphia City Paper. Mark answered that ad. John called me to tell me he was going to be in Philly meeting with the new guy and asked if I wanted to come and give him my opinion. I met them at the bar at Upstairs at Nicks. It didn’t take long to gather that Mark was smart, handsome and TALL. I liked him immediately. Soon I was spending a lot more time with the band as they planned to get serious, work on an album and “make it.” I jumped at the chance to drop the last dregs of my college career, get away from my insane roommate and move to the DC area with the band in the hopes of starting an independent record label. Crazy pipe dreams it seems, but it was nice to be dreamers for awhile. I figured if it didn’t work out at least I would be able to say I lived with a rock band. And obviously it was going to be amazingly fun living with a band – I pictured hot rock guys constantly coming and going from the house, an endless string of shows and parties. Wrong. I had moved in with possibly the most anti-social rock band ever. John and Jay spent most of the time locked in their respective bedrooms moping and feeling sorry for themselves. As a result Mark and I became fast friends – we were both new to the group and new to the area so we had only each other for companionship. We went to dinner, to movies, to rock shows and spent long hours chatting. I developed a hard core crush pretty quickly. How could I not? Mark is just so funny, so smart, so thoughtful and handsome. He had become my best friend in a heartbeat and the person with whom I enjoyed spending all my time. I won’t get into the shady year that it took to completely transition our friendship to a full-on romance (far different story) but I will say that I pursued him because I thought we had the potential for something real, something lasting. I knew shortly after meeting Mark that he was the guy for me. I could tell he was going to be a wonderful boyfriend, husband, father. That I didn’t want to be without his dry wit, shy smile, and unquenchable thirst for knowledge. Choosing Mark is the smartest thing I ever did and a decision that pays off every day. And now Noah is a living, breathing, smiling embodiment of all my love for him.

I love you Mark. Happy Birthday.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Inside my mouth I've got shame for the decrepit state of my hands. Posted by Picasa

Nothing like a book to make you smile

So I've been meaning to blog about teeth, books and books on teeth for quite some time now. As you may recall when Noah is sleepy he likes to pull on my lips and shove his hands in my mouth. It’s as darling as it is uncomfortable. Crazily enough his mouth fixation doesn’t stop there. He often busts into hysterics if you open your mouth REAL wide. Mark is particularly good at this. For a while we thought Noah was amused by the sounds Mark was making but soon realized it wasn’t the noise but Mark’s gaping maw that had Noah in hysterics. Noah is also delighted by the sight and sounds of someone brushing their teeth. He beams and giggles when I brush every morning and when I'm done I rinse my brush out and then brush at his two little teeth a few times. One day this week I finished brushing my teeth and put him down on the floor and he started crying – he hadn’t gotten his teeth brushed and he was horribly overwrought about it. My favorite example of his fixation is his love of teeth related literature. My mom gave Noah a lift flap book called “Toes, Ears and Nose.” It goes “Inside my mittens I’ve got (lift the mitten shaped flap) fingers. Inside my boots I’ve got (boot flap) toes. Under my hat are two (ear flaps) ears. And beneath my scarf is a (scarf flap) nose.” You get the idea. Anyway Noah loves this book and I’ve read it a million times in a squeaky voice while grabbing Noah’s ears, nose, etc. with Noah lifting the flaps. Mark was the first to notice that when the book was sitting around on the floor and Noah would pick it up to look at it himself he would invariably flip right to the “Inside my mouth I’ve got (flap) teeth” page and pull the little girls hands away from her mouth. He does this over and over and over again. So much so that the poor little girl is missing several fingers and has damn near had her whole hands pulled off. It is priceless. I hope Noah is destined to be a dentist rather than on his way to developing some sort of weird fetish.

And since I’m already discussing books I have to tell you what a HUGE fan I am of children’s literature. I adore children’s picture books in particular. So much so that my 9 month old already owns over 50 books – approximately half of which I have purchased from the Children’s Book of the Month Club in the last couple of months. At this point most of these books are technically too old for Master Noah but I enjoy reading them all the same. If I start to read “Where the Wild Things Are” and Noah loses interest halfway through and wanders off I finish it out loud just for me. And often he comes back. He seems to have already developed a real interest in books and I hope that it sticks with him.

Here are a few of my favorites - they aren't in any particular order. I won’t list the old classics like Sendak and Silverstein because everyone knows those.

1. “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus” by Mo Willems, creator of Cartoon Network’s "Sheep in the Big City." Also like “Knuffle Bunny,” “Time to Say Please.”
2. “How do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?” by Yolen & Teague. I love the behavior modeling, rhyming and illustrations of dinosaurs in child-like poses. We have four from this series.
3. “Olivia” by Ian Falconer. Really more of a girls book but I owned the first one before Noah was born and have bought the second in the series. Arty pig with attitude.
4. “Dinosailors” by Lund & Fine. Super rhyming and fun. Includes dinosaurs vomiting which is always cool.
5. “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” by Barrett. The year I taught first grade my kids made me read this book aloud repeatedly. They loved the idea of food falling out of the sky.
6. “How I Became a Pirate” by Long & Shannon. Who doesn’t love gnarly pirates?
7. “David Gets In Trouble” by David Shannon. Rough scribble-like drawings look very cool and the small amount of text make them ideal for younger readers.
8. “On the Day You Were Born” by Frasier. Kind of hippie crunchy, but very touching and the appendix makes for great reading later when kids want to understand the scientific principles behind weather and gravity.
9. “Tails” by Van Fleet. The textures and movement in this book make it excellent to read to kids as young as Noah’s age. My friend Dina gave it to us as a baby shower gift and it was one of my favorites.
10. “If You Give a Pig a Pancake” by Numeroff & Bond. Kids love the over the top silliness of these books and the circular path of the story.
Hope someone gets something out of that - other than me of course.

Move over Shakespeare

I didn’t blog yesterday, not because I was too busy but because I couldn’t think of anything to write about. So that shows you where my head is. We leave on Saturday for vacation and it couldn’t be one minute sooner for me. It’s been a long hot summer trapped in the air conditioned house.

That 7 tag list got me thinking a lot about what I can do. Truth is that part was hard for me because there are very few things I think I can do. At least unique interesting things that I can do well enough to brag about. In fact I don’t think anything falls into that category. Don’t get me wrong – I can do many things passably, but I’m not really exemplary at much. It’s kind of a depressing thought. Very depressing in fact. On and off during my life I have thought of myself as a writer – typically when I’m not doing any writing. I think half the population falls under this delusion. When I actually have to write something I feel like a phoney, like I’ve been fooling myself because I’m a mediocre writer at best. And at those times I think “Gotta stop thinking about pursuing this writing business.” It’s not that I’m bad – what I mean is that if you pick a group of people off the street I could probably write better than the rest of the group, however in a group of people who write for a living I’d perform at the bottom of the barrel.

I’m home with Noah now, and I’m very happy about it. But someday in the not too distant future I’m going to have to decide what I want to do - in addition to being a mom. And for as long as I can remember I have hated hearing the question of “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Most of all when I’m the one asking.

Please note: I am not fishing for compliments. I don’t want to receive comments like “I think you’re an excellent drinker” or “I always thought you were a grade A smoker. Why did you give it up?” I’m merely sharing my feelings here. Maybe you’ll get a more refreshed and fulfilling post later. I didn’t get a lot of sleep again last night.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Cuz Heather asked for it

And I'm game.

7 things I plan to do before I die
1. Play with my grandchildren
2. Celebrate my fiftieth wedding anniversary
3. Travel the world with Mark and my children
4. Learn another language
5. Return to school – for something, maybe just to learn another language
6. Become a better cook
7. Own a beach house

7 things I can do
1. Love
2. Mother – just about anyone
3. Worry
4. Tell you what I think
5. Write – reasonably well
6. Enjoy myself
7. Talk

7 things I cannot do
1. Shut up
2. Not worry
3. Not share my joy about being a mom
4. Chew chicken off the bone
5. Run
6. Line dance
7. Play an instrument

7 things that attract me to the opposite sex
1. Fathering my child
2. Sense of humor
3. Intelligence
4. Eyes
5. Rock n’ Roll
6. Shoes
7. Accent

7 things that I say most often
1. “I love you.”
2. “Literally”
3. “Like”
4. “Monkey.”
5. “Baby, can you do me a favor?”
6. “We need to straighten up.”
7. “I am so tired.”

7 celebrity crushes
1. Ewan McGregor
2. Jude Law
3. Johnny Depp
4. Cary Grant
5. Hugh Grant
6. Jon Stewart (Grant?)
7. Gael Garcia Bernal

7 people I want to do this
1. The new Pope
2. President Bush
3. Marilyn Manson
4. Pat Robertson
5. Eddie Izzard
6. Michael Moore
7. Michael Jackson

1. Patrice
2. Missuz J
3. Jen O
4. Shrimpie Mama
5. Beth
6. Mary
7. Katy
But only if you want to.

And JAZZ HANDS! Posted by Picasa


So the more I thought about the christening, and with the help of your comments, I have decided that while I wouldn’t mind if they wanted to have some sort of blessing done for Noah at their church, that I don’t really want him christened into any one faith because I don’t intend to raise him any one faith. So that is that. Unless of course Mark has strongly different feelings – cause I guess he has a say too. And now Noah’s sitting on the floor playing with a copy of “Awake” just delivered by some Jehovah’s Witnesses. I wish I would have photographed them – they looked like they arrived in a time machine. They were two elderly black men wearing straw hats, plaid pants, suspenders and bow ties. It was like they were going to an Orville Redenbacher convention. I have to admit that if I’m going to be evangelized by strangers I definitely prefer them to be nattily dressed.

Susan and Francesca are coming for lunch today so time is short. I was tagged on SHTEZQ and will succumb to her will later this afternoon. Beware.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Get Behind Me Satan

First I must thank my wonderful husband. On Saturday he installed a permanent baby gate in our upper hallway by Noah’s room. Though Mark is considerably handier with the pen than the drill – it seems to me that it wasn’t his fault that he had to install the gate three times. In fact I’m sure it was the fault of the directions to that cheap ass gate. I mean doesn’t it make more sense to install the brackets on one side of the hallway and put the gate up before installing the second set so that you can make sure they connect? The directions are banking on our walls being exactly 90 degrees to the floor and completely straight – which is like assuming that Noah knows how to wipe his own butt. I just have to commend Mark for being patient and getting the job done with very little fuss. I think I probably would have thrown said baby gate out the window had it been me.

Yesterday we trekked to Mark’s Dad’s place for an early celebration of Mark’s 34th birthday – which is this Friday. Mark’s Dad Martin and his wife Sylvia hosted Mark’s grandmother Laima and my Mom and Stepfather in addition to Mark, Noah and I. I don’t know about you but when we get our respective families together it drives me a little nuts. They are just SO different and everyone seems just a little uncomfortable – and for some odd reason I get VERY tense. I listen to everything every person says and wonder what everyone else is thinking about it. Keep in mind that I suggested this gathering because though these things make my hair stand on end I know they need to happen for our families to gel more over time. And I NEED to have less separate family functions to attend and more “bring everyone” get –togethers. It’s a little easier now that we all have Noah as a distraction. When he wandered into another room and I followed I was relieved to not have to continue listening and examining. Of course everyone was fine and it was a lovely evening.

The only big scandal maker was God – it seems Sylvia and Laima were asking my Mom when we were going to get Noah christened. My family is decidedly unreligious – and though I have my own system of spiritual beliefs I don’t really believe in the standard Christian almighty God who one prays to so that you can avoid death or win the Super Bowl. I could go ON and ON about what I think – but that is besides the point. When I was pregnant I told Mark that though I didn’t feel the need to have Noah christened that I understood it would be important to his Grandmother, so if she asked we would do it. The way I figured it certainly wouldn’t do any harm – and it would make a 95 year old woman happy. But she never asked so I assumed it wasn’t a big deal and was happy to have avoided having to cope with the mess of figuring out who would christen our baby since we don’t practice any organized religion. Guess it’s still a big deal – though why no one ever asked me or Mark about it I certainly don’t understand. And in my opinion the window of opportunity closed. Think I’m wrong?

Friday, August 19, 2005

Maddy's quick to show me who's boss. Posted by Picasa

I've been debating going platinum blonde and it looked so nice on Cathy I might have to try it.  Posted by Picasa

I think they were having a debate about religion. Posted by Picasa

King of the road

What do they say about the best laid plans? You best lay them bester? Well, as you can imagine my whole agenda for getting Noah to go down for his afternoon nap before I went to the airport was unsuccessful. Though he normally goes down for a nap promptly at 2 pm – he was too excited by all the unfamiliar sights and sounds to go to sleep. So I left him napless with Dad and Oma while I went to the airport to pick up Cathy. And I felt horrible. I was convinced he was going to be so over-tired, so riddled with separation anxiety that he’d be a horror while I was gone. But if I’ve learned nothing by now I should have learned that Noah is a good baby and he’s pretty damn resilient. Dad said he cried for five minutes after I left but then played happily for the two hours I was gone. In fact Dad and Oma seemed to have a good time with him. I got reports of dancing, peek-a-boo and tissue eating.

And why was I gone for two hours when the airport is a half hour away you say? Because I got lost. With the simplest directions in the world. My directions said take 309 N to 378 to 22W. Problem was I glanced at them and said “Oh – I have to take 309 to 22” but by the time I got on 22W from 309 I got on past the airport. It took me awhile to realize that I overshot the Allentown area and that I had to turn around. Realizing you have been driving in the wrong direction sucks – realizing it and then being forced to crawl along in traffic the wrong way to get to turn around sucks worse. So poor Cathy and baby Madeline had to wait for my stupid ass to make it to the airport, but they seemed none worse for wear. It was really nice to see them. Cathy is one of the twin daughters of my Dad’s second wife Mary and though they got divorced eons ago the girls are still a part of our large and convoluted family. Madeline is the third and youngest of Cathy’s kids at 8 months old and she has a super sweet laidback disposition. Cathy says it’s because she has to deal with her sisters – 6 year old Emily and 3 year old Mary Katherine, and she advises against having three children so close in age. She says her brain is mush.

After we got back to the house we walked to Applebees for dinner. Both babies were incredibly well behaved (even without a nap!) and voracious eaters. Noah ate two containers of baby food and then proceeded to whine for table scraps during the entire meal. He had pieces of cheese, chicken, broccoli and zucchini. We couldn’t figure out where he was putting it all. I’m near certain that boy has worms.

All that running around early in the morning to juggle Noah’s nap was not all for naught because we had a nice morning anyway. Noah and I shopped at Kohl’s (best shopping carts ever) for about an hour before meeting Jean Dinan at the Quakertown park while she was on her lunch hour from the bank. It was a beautiful day for a picnic and it was nice spending time with Jean who was my next door neighbor growing up and often like a second mom. And I have to mention that the Quakertown park playground equipment is insane – it’s this large wooden castle complex that has to be seen to be believed (which is why I took a photo).

It was a very lovely but very busy day yesterday and today I’m happy to be home with little else to do besides occupy Noah, straighten up the house a little and work a bit on my PR project.

All I need now is a beer. Posted by Picasa

No - it's not the Hearst playground but the Quakertown municipal park.  Posted by Picasa

Thursday, August 18, 2005

What kind of face is THAT? Posted by Picasa

Balls in the air

And we’re off again. Even though I don’t have to pick up my ex-stepsister Cathy at the Lehigh Valley airport (formerly ABE) until 3:30 pm, I have to leave my house at 10 am. And no, it doesn’t take that long to get there from here. Here’s the deal. I have to leave Noah with my Dad and Oma in Quakertown while I pick up Cathy and her baby Madeline because two car seats, two adults and luggage will not fit comfortably in my small Saturn wagon. And I can’t just drive to Dad’s place right before I have to go to the airport because then Noah will have napped in the car ride and not nap while I go to the airport. And I really want him to go down for a nap right before I go to the airport so Dad and Oma won’t have to deal with any possible separation anxiety. So that means I have to drive out there during his first nap and kill time until I have to go to the airport at 3pm. I think we’ll do a bit of store browsing in Quakertown before we meet my old neighbor Jean in the park during her lunch hour. And then at about 1:30 pm we’ll head to Dad & Oma’s place to hang out for a bit before the child gets tired. So much juggling.

I just caught Noah gleefully rifling through the office garbage can. I could tell by the look in his eyes that he knew he was up to something bad. It was a combination of excitement and foreboding. And he barely whimpered when I snatched a tissue and an old battery out of his hand. Oh the joys of childhood.

Noah has become quite the little musical man as of late. In the morning we’ll often play a kids CD in our CD alarm clock while Mark gets ready for work. Partly because Noah enjoys it and partly so Mark has “Do you know the muffin man?” stuck in head all day long. (Insert evil laugh here.) Noah loves the music – he claps and flaps, often stopping whatever activity he’s doing to mosey over to the CD player and tap on the speaker. The last couple of mornings he’s gone to the CD player and tapped on the speaker to command me to put on his jams. It’s so cute I can barely hold it together. It won’t be long until I’m telling him “Turn that stereo DOWN. You’re bothering the neighbors.”

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Days of our lives

God. I am beat. I feel like I need to sleep for 24 hours straight and then I might feel well rested.

So my lunch on Monday went fairly well. Unfortunately I couldn’t tell too much about Susan from her house because her and her husband live in her MIL’s house. But I could tell that her MIL was totally eccentric, opinionated, free-spirited and fun. She gave an artist friend free reign to paint her place and the result is a ceiling of white puffy clouds and crayola colored walls covered in vivid wall art and paraphernalia including a large scary plaster sculpture of a clown. It was a very cool home, though not an indication of Susan’ s personality. Susan is smart, sweet and relaxed but if we were on a first date I might conclude that she was a really nice person but we didn’t have any chemistry. However since I’m merely looking for mommy company and a playmate for Noah she’ll do fine. She’s coming to our place for lunch next week. And hopefully we’ll find one or two other moms to join us at some point.

And the in-law visit worked out well too. When my cousin came to visit on Saturday she brought us a basket of tomatoes and a jar of marinade to soak them in – so I put them out for the in-laws. Now I have to say that I am not a raw tomato person – I like salsa but never get raw tomatoes put on anything and often pick them out. But this marinade made them heavenly. In fact I just chopped some cucumbers up and chucked them in with the leftover marinade in the fridge. I’m sure it would taste good with a variety of veggies and thought you might enjoy it. So I looked up the recipe and here you are:

Marinated Tomatoes
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic salt
1 1/2 teaspoons seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
2 to 3 green onions, chopped
4 to 6 large tomatoes, each cut into 6 wedges
Soak tomatoes and onions in marinade for at least two hours in refrigerator before serving.

Yesterday Noah and I spent the day with my mom. It was a nice afternoon just playing with the boy – which is my typical day, but I got to share it with someone else who truly enjoyed it. Among other assorted amusements we came home with the car/walker that Noah is enjoying in the photo below. It won't be long before Noah gets his first speeding ticket.

And today? Did I mentioned that I’m tired?

Beep beep! Clear the roads. Vroomy vroom vroom.  Posted by Picasa

Monday, August 15, 2005

Another weekend bites the dust.

I’m happy to say that as far as I know no one was poisoned as a result of my cooking on Saturday night. My cousin, her husband and their two kids came to visit, I fed them and we all appeared to have survived. I made sautéed chicken cutlets with a lime sauce, curried braised cauliflower with tomatoes and a spiced rice pilaf. Oh and a mixed green salad with pears, cranberries, blue cheese and candied sesame encrusted walnuts with a strawberry balsamic and walnut oil vinaigrette. And to save me some peace of mind I made the side dishes before they arrived and reheated them – and had all my fixin’s for the chicken prepped, measured and ready to go in glass ramekins so that I could cook quickly but not erratically (as per my usual). And despite being impressive cooks in their own right, they seemed to enjoy the meal. When paired with the lovely wine they brought and the company of the kids, we had a nice evening.

Yesterday afternoon I had a business meeting. And not the dirty diaper, need a cuddle, peek-a-boo kind of business. An acquaintance of mine is opening her own service business and has contracted me to do some public relations and advertising work for her. I’ll be working on content for the production and distribution of media kits for the next month and a half – with the expert assistance of Mr. Mark of course. Especially since I am so addle brained of late that I can’t open the refrigerator without staring into it and blankly thinking “Now what in hell was it that I needed in here?” before realizing that I wanted to take something out of the oven. Anyway, I am both excited and worried about the task at hand. Excited to be using my brain and my education and to be earning some money, but worried about the client’s expectations, my lack of practice and the difficulties of managing the workload while caring for Noah. I’m sure you’ll get more details as the project develops – so don’t hold your breath.

Ms. Tracey came to visit Noah last night, and oh yeah- she saw us too. After Noah nestled into bed, Tracey left and we sunk down into the couch and breathed HBO for two hours. Oh, 6FU – how unfair of you to get so good right before you leave me! Also this weekend we Netflixed the documentary “Born Into Brothels” – about a woman teaching photography to the children of sex workers in Calcutta. It was beautiful, sweet, touching and sad and I totally recommend it. (UPDATE: I just found out it's premiering on HBO tomorrow - Tuesday, August 16th, 2005 at 7 p.m. Watch it if you can.)

A busy week lies ahead. Today Noah and I have lunch with Susan and her daughter Francesca. She’s that neighborhood mom with whom I’m trying to forge a friendship and this is our first invite to her home. I’m excited to see the house because I feel like you can tell so much about a person by seeing their home and I feel like I still know this woman so very little that I’m still feeling a bit awkward. I believe another woman and her son will be attending too. I hope we have a good time because I really would like to have other mothers and children to spend time with during the weekdays. Later this afternoon Mark’s Dad and his wife are coming to visit and tomorrow we head out to Qtown to spend the day with my mom. Wednesday we’ll go to the pool and I’ll need to get some work (!!!) done. And then on Thursday we head back out on the QTown express to see my Dad and Oma and to pick up my visiting ex-stepsister Cathy and her daughter Madeline from the ABE airport. Have I mentioned that I really would like to master the process of beaming from place to place? Even though I’m looking forward to spending time with my parents the idea of driving back and forth and back and forth this week has me a bit edgy. Plus the unforgiving heat and price of gas are good enough reasons not to go out. Maybe I can learn that “Bewitched” nose twitch.

Friday, August 12, 2005

High strung out on TV

Why are mothers so freaking high strung about every little thing? For example - when Noah and I were at the pool on Wednesday afternoon I overheard two women conversing about pediatricians. One of the woman was telling the other that her pediatrician had the audacity to recommend that she give her child vitamin D drops. She ranted on about children getting vitamin D from the sun, and how she takes her child outside almost every day so her child had NO need for the drops. She said she doesn’t believe in giving her kids lots of unnecessary medicines and she couldn’t understand why her pediatrician would recommend such a thing. I just promenaded Noah around the pool and eavesdropped while thinking “Jesus. Doesn’t this woman have anything better to worry about?” I mean seriously – it was as if her doctor recommended she start shooting her child up with heroin. In defense of the pediatrician, a lot of inner city children end up with vitamin D deficiencies and to prevent that they probably recommend that all their kids get vitamins because they see it as a harmless preventative measure. Now don’t get me wrong – I’m not advocating vitamin drops (I don’t use them), what struck me is that this woman was so incensed about the suggestion. Why is it that when you’re a mother every little thing becomes like a political debate or a conversation on religion? I understand firsthand that as parents we consider every detail and have to make a decision about it in order to decide what to do for our child. Co-sleeping or crib? Nursing or formula? Sling or stroller? Pacifier? Daycare? Ferberize? And because we’ve made a decision about every little thing we feel we have to stand our ground about our decision being the right one and therefore everything else is wrong. I understand why it happens – but I have to say it is SO stupid. And I tell myself that every time I start to do it. Or I feel like it’s being done to me – though sometimes I’m sure it’s me just being paranoid about being judged for my choices. Case in point – the other night when we were at Patrice’s place Sean offered everyone a drink, a beer perhaps. Lonna quickly thanked him and said that she can’t drink because she’s still breastfeeding. I however had a beer while I was there – and the whole time I was drinking it I kept wanting to explain to Lonna that my doctor had explained to me that it was okay to have a drink or two while breastfeeding- that I had never noticed Noah have any reaction to the small amount that I drank and that I wasn’t a bad and neglectful mother. But that is just dumb – because Lonna made her decision about drinking and I made mine. And I know we both based our choices on facts that we attained from different sources, gave it careful consideration and were comfortable with our choices. So WHY did it bother me? Because even though I try to be all live and let live about things – I’m constantly fighting back the urge to judge others and the worry about how others are judging me. And it’s tiring. So I have to say, Lonna, I hope you didn’t think badly of me for having a beer. And if you did? Oh, well. I’ll get over it. Maybe all I need is to score some grade A vitamin D drops and indulge heavily.

On to far more important matters – television. Summer television sucks for the most part. Every summer I get sucked into watching some crap show that I’m not even really enjoying. And most of the time it is that annoying “Big Brother.” I have to say that I am SO happy that the hot Iraqi Kaysar was voted back into the house instead of that Napoleon-complexed fireman Eric. I was SURE it was written in stone somewhere that firemen had to win every damn thing – especially when up against a Muslim. But was pleasantly surprised that the “America’s Choice” voters had more sense than that.

Also in the realm of reality TV I have to mention that I’m enjoying “Rockstar INXS.” I was a HUGE INXS fan and own seven of their albums.” I was genuinely sad when Michael Hutchence died. I dug him – even if he did die of auto-erotic asphyxiation. But besides just liking a bunch of INXS songs, I am also enjoying the show for a few other reasons. It’s nice to hear the contestants sing rock songs that I like rather than the syrupy pop schlock they sing on American Idol. I like that the show started out with a slate of good singers and we didn’t see any tryouts. There has been no degrading and humiliating the contestants because they were all pretty talented to begin with. I like that the band acts as judges and the harshest thing they can say upon dismissal is “I’m sorry, you’re just not right for our band, INXS.” I’m rooting for Jordis and Corey Glover – I mean Ty. And I have to add that I think Jordis Unga and Mig Ayesa might just be the most fun names to say in the history of mankind.

On the more respectable front I’m also watching “LOST” in reruns because I never watched it during the season. I finally understand what all the hype is about and I look forward to it every Wednesday night. I’ll certainly miss “Six Feet Under” after it’s gone – and not just because I think Peter Krause looks like my husband. I think this season has been the best since the first one and I’ll miss the entertainingly dysfunctional Fishers when they leave us.

I was going to write about how much I love children’s books next, but this post is already too damn long so I’ll leave it for another time. The next week is going to be insanely busy – we have plans every day between now and next Friday. Hopefully I’ll have a chance to blog and fill you in on what the heck is keeping us so occupied. Have a good weekend!

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Missed opportunities.

I’m an idiot. And not just for the normal reasons. You see, we went to the Milliceccobach residence yesterday both to spend time with our family-soulmates but also to see Ethan and meet Lonna and Dermot. I had my camera out snapping pictures of Bella and Noah before everyone else got there, but once Ethan, Lonna and Dermot arrived there was such a flurry of activity that I never took any photos of them. And Dermot is baby magazine cuteness – with his little 18 month-oldness getting into EVERYTHING, which makes for great photos. Photos I never took. I suck. But on the upside, we did have a lovely evening.

And voila! Was your card the 5 of hearts? Posted by Picasa

Are they gone yet? Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

He doesn't even blink anymore.

I am exhausted. It’s a three coffee cup and two lines of coke kind of morning. But they generally frown on breastfeeding women drinking more than two caffeinated beverages a day, and I don’t think they’re all too keen on cocaine use either. And it sucks – because few people could use the pep more than the mother of an infant. An infant who is trying to wean himself from the need to sleep.

Noah has been waking up promptly at 5:20 am for the better part of two weeks now. I think maybe he got himself a job and is trying to report for duty at 6 am, but unfortunately he forgot to send us the memo. Maybe he assumed they would have told us when they called for his references.

He’s also been very restless at night. I’m sure he’s waking up more often than usual because he heard the doctor tell us that he shouldn’t be waking up at all in the night. He’s obviously got something to prove. “Hey Doc, why don’t you leave my sleeping schedule to me? I know what I’m doing here. Give the advice a rest.”

Yawn. Anyway, I don’t have too much to report. I forgot to mention that over the weekend Noah climbed the stairs from the second floor to our third floor bedroom. Mark showed him how to climb the first step, Noah mastered it instantly and hauled himself all the way up to the top – with Mark ready to catch him if he slipped. Mark wanted to see if he could climb the steps because the development book says he could and also because our friend Julie said her second daughter hated being gated in so they had to teach her how to climb up and down the steps when she was very small. Of course while Noah was scaling the heights to get to our bedroom we couldn’t help but think we might be shooting ourselves in the foot by teaching him how to climb. And we’re probably right. We’ve already caught him standing up, holding onto a chair and lifting his one leg like he wanted to climb up on it. It’s no time before this kid is rigging up web shooters to scale the walls like Spiderman. A robot Spiderman that never requires sleep.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

I'm so excited! Posted by Picasa

YAY! Posted by Picasa

I'm getting a handle on this feeding thing. Posted by Picasa

Monday, August 08, 2005

Cleaning, cooking, clapping and kudos

Would you believe that Noah is having a hard time crawling in the kitchen because the floor is… too clean? I guess the dirt and crumbs were helping him gain some traction on the tile. Now that I know that I’ll never mop again.

This weekend we barely left the house. We concentrated on revamping the homestead. I finally used the carpet cleaner my mom gave me for my birthday. I did the carpet in the office and in half the hallway. This took several hours and used up the entire bottle of rug shampoo that came with the cleaner. The carpet definitely looks better, but it’s far from pristine. The guy who sold us the house put in pale beige carpets despite having two kids and a dog. Genius, right? And with our combination of past party spills, cat hair, cat throw up and baby spit-up the carpets are downright nasty. I’d love to replace them all with wooden floors and throw rugs. Carpet is just so gross – it never gets clean enough. The steps are the worst of all and unfortunately our carpet cleaner is too gargantuan to use on the stairs and doesn’t have a stair attachment. If you come over, when you are using the steps don’t look down.

I went to Ikea briefly on Saturday morning to get Noah a bookcase. I bought a different size than I had intended, but once I attempted to put it together once incorrectly, and then assembled it later in the evening while drinking a gin and tonic, it seemed perfect. We also moved some furniture around. I still have nine million things I want to hang on the walls but I can’t seem to pull the trigger on where I want things to go. We tend to move furniture so often around here that I don’t want to put a million holes in the wall. The result is a lot of blank walls and a bunch of wall hangings sitting in the armoire of our guest room.

I did my test run dinner on Saturday night. All the dishes turned out pretty well, but Mark and I decided that it was flavor overload. I’m going to replace the spicy sesame noodle dish with a more mild rice dish of some sort. The biggest problem with my cooking is that I make a frenzied mess - tossing spoons, plates and pans everywhere as I cook. No expert looks that panicked. And my cousin and her husband are going to have a ring side seat. Hope they don’t get knocked upside the head with a dirty wooden spoon. I also decided I would be a much better cook and a more experimental if I had a sous chef. I really hate all the prep work. The cleaning, chopping, mincing takes me eons and almost always has me in fear of losing a finger. Those 30 minute meals might not take me an hour if I could chop as quick as Rachel Ray.

Noah needs all his fingers. He’s clap happy. He claps when he manages to get a Cheerio in his mouth. He claps when he sees the cat. He claps when we listen to his They Might Be Giants “Here Come the ABCs” CD. Actually that is quite cute. It’s like he just discovered the music. We LOVE this CD – it’s funny and catchy, and its children’s music that doesn’t make your ears bleed which is no easy feat. We can’t thank Patrice enough for it. I need to get a few other decent children’s CDs into the mix. I’m already bored or annoyed by all the others we have listened to a billion times, and I’m sure Noah’s getting sick of listening to my music too. I’d like to get a CD of songs from Disney classics. I don’t want the Elton John songs – I want “Zip a dee doo da,” “Chim Chim Cheree” and “The Bare Necessities.” This box set looks good but it’s not cheap.

So last week’s blogger love fest initiated by the Missuz J hiatus has me thinking a lot about blogging friendships and families. It’s so neat to have welcomed so many funny, interesting and sweet people into our lives via this blog. On Saturday morning I had to smile when Mark came into the nursery and said “Shrimpy and Katy have new posts.” He doesn’t always comment, but he’s just as engrossed and involved in all your lives as I am. Anyway – just wanted to tell you all how much we appreciate hearing your “voices” and sharing our lives.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Recipe for Disaster

I consider myself a utilitarian cook. What I cook is edible, but not memorable. And since I’m a huge food fan, I’ve always wished I was a chef. I dream of owning the perfect recipe book that solves all my meal preparation problems. I do have a couple books but most of the recipes seem impossible. There are three things that rule out a recipe for me. The first is time – I try not to spend more than a half hour cooking dinner. The second is amount of ingredients – if there are more than a handful of ingredients it seems too much of a bother. And the third is the kind of ingredients – if it’s got cheese in it Mark won’t eat it and I’m funny about a handful meat types. But occasionally I’ll make something that I think turns out okay and then I’ll make it a million times until I never want to eat it again. I definitely know how to beat a dead horse (though I certainly wouldn’t eat one.)

So as I mentioned yesterday my cousin and her husband are coming to dinner next Saturday. At the moment I’m planning on making a fruit and gorgonzola mixed green salad, chicken cutlets with a lime sauce, curried braised cauliflower and egg noodles in a spicy sesame sauce. The meals got a kind of Thai theme and sounds fancy but may turn out to be as bland as dirt because I’ve never used any of the recipes before – which is why I’m doing a dry run for dinner tomorrow night. I’ll let you know how it goes.

The rest of the weekend plans consist of cleaning, organizing, baby proofing – all the stuff we put off every weekend. And hopefully a visit from Ms. Tracey.

But my question to you folks is are you good at dinner parties? What do you make? Do you have any signature recipes? Can you hook a sistah up? That is if they aren’t too complex for my very limited cooking ability.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Milestones and exhaustion

Noah had his nine month check-up today, on the exact day of his nine monthaversary. He’s 18 pounds and 15 ounces (25 percentile) and 29 inches long (75 percentile), with a 18.5 inch head (75 percentile). He’s long, lean and big headed, just like his Dad. Doc McSorley said he’s in tip top shape. She gave us some expected tips on putting Noah into his bed before he falls completely asleep and also cutting out his one remaining late night and early morning feeding. She said we shouldn’t worry about his late development of the pincer grip he needs for self feeding because it’s common that boys develop the gross motor skills for mobility before they develop the fine motor skills for finger movements, while girls often develop in the reverse order. (That makes Noah gross and Bella FINE.) The most shocking thing she told us was that we could give him some cow’s milk. All the books I’ve been reading say that the proteins in cow’s milk are too complex for an infant under the age of one to process – unless the milk is cultured like in yogurt or cheese. However the Doc said that though they don’t recommend weaning to cows milk because there isn’t as much of the necessary iron in it as there is in breast milk or formula, that it’s fine to supplement a nine month olds diet with cows milk. She recommended I put it in a sippy cup with a straw so that Noah didn’t become accustomed to just drinking watered down juice in a cup.

Nine months seems eons away from six months – when he had just started to sit up without full support. Now he’s crawling, cruising, pulling up, and invading everything. He’s so focused on studying his environment and touching everything he can get his hands on – and even things he can’t. At nine months he’s not only more mobile but incredibly more emotional. He gets so excited, smiley and giggly – but can also get so sad or angry too. His emotions shift so easily from one to the other and then back again depending on what’s going on. He’s also learning language. There are some things he clearly understands – like the unwelcome meaning of the word “No.” It makes him cry and crawl to me to be held for comfort, even though I’m the one who just gave him the warning. But he clearly knows that he shouldn’t touch some things and will just linger an inch away from them with a mischievious look in his eye – glancing at me to see what I’m going to do, testing his boundaries, seeing what he can get away with and getting sad when he can’t. He’s a moving, chattering, listening, examining, smiling, crying, cuddly little beast – and I don’t think I could adore him more.

And to make the nine month milestone even more exciting, Noah stood up without support for the first time today. It was only for a couple of seconds before he fell on his butt, but the funny thing was that he was totally focused on practicing it. He’d pull himself up on the foam couch in the office, get his feet grounded, let go with one hand, let go with the other, stand triumphant, and then fall on his butt. He repeated the process several hundred times, like he was in training. Also in the last day or so he’s upgraded his flapping to clapping. He’s been flapping his arms in excitement for quite awhile and while it looks a lot like a hearty round of applause, his hands were never fully making contact – until yesterday. And now he’s clapping constantly.

Today was a day jam packed with stuff – starting when Noah woke us up at 5:15 am. Mark took the day off and after Noah’s pediatrician appointment we walked to Cosi for some coffee and bagels. Noah was overdue for a nap and fell asleep in my lap while Mark was getting our food. He was so tuckered out that I just held him all curled up in my arm while I ate. Mark left to go to a dentists appointment and I read a City Paper and drank my coffee until he woke up after a 45 minute snooze. On the drive back to the house we saw neighborhood resident Kate outside with her baby. We met a newly pregnant Kate when she and Mark were canvassing our area for to get voters to the polls. Noah was born two days after election day and we hadn’t run into Kate since. So I stopped to meet her daughter Ella who was celebrating her 3 monthaversary today, making her exactly 6 months younger than Noah. Though Kate had planned a home birth with a midwife she ended up having to make an emergency trip to Hahneman hospital when Ella started coming out foot first. But alls well that ends well and Ella is adorable. I hope we get to spend more time with them.

In the afternoon I was worried about Patrice disappearing only to find out she went to a Phillies game (because she can obviously never get enough baseball), lamenting Missuz J’s missing blog (PLEASE come back), and fielding calls from my distraught Oma who was confused by a misunderstood phone call she’d received from my ex-stepsister (her mother and my father are divorced, hence the ex). Then we headed to Trader Joe’s to buy some ingredients for some test recipes I need to do in anticipation of feeding my cousin Tammy and her husband when they come to our house for dinner next weekend. Tammy’s husband is quite the cook so I’m feeling a little pressured to serve them something respectable. Hence the testing of new recipes before the event.

My mom called in the evening to ask why I hadn’t blogged and to say that unfortunately my stepfather Larry appears to be on the decline again. Luckily we were able to cheer her up just a little bit by letting her talk to Noah on the phone. By the time we finished eating dinner I was out of steam. I really started to lag while trying to get a good 9 month old picture of Noah to help with the chronology in my photo album. Noah was not cooperating. He didn’t want to sit still, he didn’t want to look up from whatever task he was involved in, and he didn’t want me to keep futzing around with him while he tried to scoot around and play. And then he was ready for bed too and our combined drowsiness won out and I gave up on getting the perfect picture. But I’m finally posting this for the day and now if I’m smart I’ll go right to bed. And take the morning nap too. See you in the afternoon kids.

She's insane if she thinks this photo shoot is going to go well. I don't just sit posed like some little doll ANYMORE. Posted by Picasa

But I don't WANT to sit still.  Posted by Picasa

I need to be on the move LADY. Posted by Picasa

Eureka! This is as good as you're gonna get today. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

My mom took this photo before Mark and I went out to dinner for my birthday. I'm posting it because I don't hate how I look in it. And these days that is rare.  Posted by Picasa

Greasy guys in gold lamae.

For the last nine months when the subject of my post partum weight arose I said “It took nine months to gain it, so I’m giving myself nine months to lose it.” Well tomorrow is Noah’s nine monthaversary – and that means that my time is up. And I still could use to lose about 15 – 20 pounds more. That won’t put me near supermodel weight, but it’ll make my clothes fit nicer which would make me a much happier person. I don’t think these last few pounds will slowly slip away like most of the rest of my weight did. I’m going to have to do some work - get some exercise and watch what and when I eat. And that sucks mostly because I think I generally eat fairly healthy and I hate micromanaging every little thing that goes in my mouth. But if I do it right I won’t have to do it for too long before I can back to normal.

Both for my own peace of mind and to let other nursing mom’s know (Patrice) I want to mention that at my most recent doctor’s appointment my doc said that some women’s bodies while nursing will hold onto a “fat reserve” and therefore they won’t be able to lose that last few pounds. So if it’s not working for me I’m planning on sticking by that “fat reserve” alibi.

On a more Noah tip, I think he’s rebelling against our teaching him some sign language.. We’ve been trying to teach him the signs for milk, more, eat and all done. And though he’s seemed to have picked up the milk sign, he does it all the time. Like when he sees the cats, and I’m not sure but I don’t think he wants the cats to nurse him. But even more odd is the sign he’s made up. It bares no resemblance to any of the signs we’ve been teaching, in fact it reminds me of a hand gesture Bowser did with Sha Na Na. And he does it consistently and stares at us intently when he does it, as if to say “See? Understand?” I haven’t a clue what the poor kid is trying to communicate. Maybe he's telling me to lose weight.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

And boy are my knees tired.

Many months ago my mom bought Noah a Fisher Price infant play gym that transforms into a keyboard when the baby can stand. When I converted it a couple of months ago and stood Noah at it, it started to slide on the floor. I thought those Fisher Price fools should have made the thing heavier to prevent it from slipping. I always put it up against the wall before Noah stands at it so he won’t fall. Of course I am not a visionary like Ms. Patrice. When I was over there on Saturday Bella was scooting her keyboard across the floor. Patrice said that Bella liked to push it around and it was forcing her to walk a bit. OF COURSE. I’m a moron. So now I put the keyboard in the middle of the room and Noah just wants to walk around pushing it. From the corner of his bedroom, right out the door to the gate in the hallway where I have to turn him around so he can walk right back to where he started. I scoot along behind him making sure it doesn’t slip too fast but that it keeps moving, and I have to steer a bit too. My knees are sore because I just did that for a solid hour. Patrice, I don’t know whether your revelation was a blessing or a curse.

Monday, August 01, 2005

But I want the WHOLE hoagie! Posted by Picasa

Since Beth's kids are THIS cute she should have at least a dozen! Posted by Picasa

Trent is like a Brett clone - only less pink and more Patricier. Posted by Picasa

You can try to use that baby as a photo shield but it won't work every time.  Posted by Picasa

The floor is littered with babies. Posted by Picasa

Reunited and it feels so good

Just got back from having lunch with Susan and Francesca in Liberty Lands Park. It is a sticky mess outside. Francesca crawled for the first time this weekend so she’s very eager to show off her new skill by crawling all over Noah. Aside from having to be told to be gentle with each other about a million times, Noah and Francesca seemed to enjoy each others company.

Mark’s best friend Ed came to the house on Saturday to help Mark wipe the hard drive of our old computer and start to retool it so that Mark can use it to do some recording. He hasn’t used his basement music studio much in the last couple of years and hopefully the new setup will renew his interest – though I’ll certainly miss him when he disappears into his lair. Noah and I got out of their hair and went to the Milliceccobachs in Ldale to visit with our high school friend Beth and the youngest of her brood of three, 20 month old Joseph. Patrice, Brett, Beth and I probably haven’t all spent time really hanging out together since high school and this time we were swimming in adorable offspring. It was a really fun and comfortable afternoon. All the way home I was thinking about how great that no matter how things have changed in the intervening years that we were in essence still the same people and that there was still a strong camaraderie between us. After Brett & Trent and Beth & Joseph left and Sean came home, we put Noah and Bella in the baby pool and ate yummy white pizza. I don’t think Bella alarmed Noah once all afternoon and they were both having a ball in the pool – it was insanely adorable.

When I got home with a sleeping baby at 9 pm I would have anticipated that Mark and Ed would have been long gone, out to dinner and drinks. But the poor guys were just receiving hoagies from Rustica and returning to the mother boards. They finally got out to Johnny Brenda’s when I was getting ready to go to bed. The amazingly spectacular Ed worked a full-time work day at our house on Saturday, and if I wasn’t really attached to Noah I might feel compelled to give him our first born.

Sunday my mom came in the afternoon and helmed Master Noah while Mark, Ed and I went to the Standard Tap for Brunch. And exquisitely yummy Bloody Marys. I wish I had one in my hand right now. My wild mushroom and feta omelette was excellent as well though I kept thinking how horrified Jen O would be about the sheer number of onions on my potatoes. When we got home Mom was having so much fun with Noah I was afraid she wasn’t going to leave without him.

Noah is rarely very far from my arms. I can count the number of times I’ve left him while he was awake on both hands. In fact we haven't ever been apart for more than three hours. This may be a bit stifling to some and I'm sure others might consider me too clingy – but it works for me. I say me because I'm pretty sure that Noah would be fine if I had to leave him for longer. He might get a bit edgy, but he's pretty good natured and flexible and would get over it. But when I’m apart from Noah I wonder what he's doing. It's not so much worrying as it is feeling like I might be missing out on something. That little else is as important as being with him. My mom has been the only babysitter Noah has known and I’m very happy to say that he really enjoys being with her. One of my mom’s coworkers said his family has a saying about babies being able to “smell blood,” meaning they can sense their kin. I’m not so sure about that but I do think that since I look a bit like my mom and we have similar laughs and voices that she has a distinct advantage over any other babysitter we could employ. And who knows – maybe scent does play a role in it too. I’m certain however that her enthusiasm to spend time with him and her obvious adoration of him definitely play a part. That boy could ask his Grandma to get him the moon and she’d try to figure out how to make it happen. Even if Mark and I have told him “No moon. No how.”