Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Hey China!

Dear China,

Please stop exporting poisonous goods. I guess you missed the American memo on legal lead levels.

I have had to take away my son's Baby Einstein blocks, which he was pretty fond of. Apparently the paint on the blue block contained excessive levels of lead. I have a really cute picture of him playing with the blue block specifically. It's in his mouth. It's not really so cute anymore.

Recently Boppy goods were recalled because the zippers contain lead-laden paint. The zipper pulls were named a choking hazard too, yes? Awesome.

A Google search will also reveal several other recalls for childrens' products that came from your country and contain lead. We- everyone, in every country- are trying to raise our kids in a big, scary, hectic world, and one of the last things I want to worry about is lead paint in my kid's toys. Practically everyone under a certain age puts everything they can get their hands on into their mouths. This is a natural and educational response to new things. Toys, of all things, should be safe for this exploration.

Just quit it with the lead. My son will only think that sucking on a washcloth is fun and new for so long. When he gets teeth, it will not be fun for those of us who spend the most time with him to have our hands explored orally. He needs safe toys for this. Because it's hard to find toys in American stores that weren't made in China, we're going to have to demand that your toy manufacturers start following our guidelines for what's safe for our families.

Please and thank you. Like, now.

Nora McCourtney-Wolf

Friday, November 30, 2007

Annie's Three-Potato Soup

Once, when I still lived in Portland, Gabe was here in Texas visiting his family. My friend Annie found out I was home alone and she invited me over for dinner and out to a play. I don’t remember what play it was but we went to that theater at the top of Forest Ave. right at the corner of Congress Street. And I remember, quite well, what she made for dinner. I’ve tried many times to do it justice in replication/ imitation and have never quite nailed it, but it is still pretty good.

Recently Gabe suckered me into making it for him when I came home from work by responding to my hesitation in not just microwaving something for dinner with this line: “But it’s my favorite sick food. I never even had a sick food until I met you.” Here, he blinked innocently and stuck out his bottom lip a little. I made the soup.

Annie’s Three-Potato Soup

two white russet potatoes
one sweet potato
three cloves garlic
rosemary, preferably fresh
olive oil
salt and pepper

Scrub and peel your potatoes. Chop and boil them until they are soft enough to mash. Drain potatoes.

While the potatoes are boiling, warm olive oil in a small frying pan or skillet. Peel and chop garlic cloves and simmer garlic in the oil on low heat. There should be just enough oil to barely cover the chopped garlic pieces. Sprinkle rosemary, to taste, on oil and garlic.

Using the same pot you used to boil potatoes, put drained potatoes in and mash until, well, it is whatever consistency you like. If you like your soup to be soupy, mash a lot. If you like it a little lumpy, stop mashing sooner. Add two cups of water, a little more rosemary to taste and warm up to desired temperature.

Add the oil, garlic and rosemary mixture and stir well. Serve warm. Salt and pepper to taste.

We like eating it with steamed veggies (asparagus or green beans work well with this soup) and bread that I heat and broil Swiss cheese on.

Monday, November 19, 2007

But whenever Monday comes...

I am home sick again. Hopefully for the last day, for real this time. I finally called the doctor this morning to ask what kinds of cold medicines and remedies are safe while I am breastfeeding so I am now following this regimen: nasal strips, saline spray and Target’s version of Robitussin. (And Werther’s Original to, um, soothe my throat. No, serious!)

I remember when I was little I loved to take Dimetapp when I was sick because it tasted so good and grapey. I fought with my parents against the less desirable medicines and cringed and shuddered to choke them down. I had a flashback of being eight years old again today and swallowing generic cough medicine. Holy baloney, is there really nothing they can do about that wretched taste? I know it would add unnecessary sugars but I am willing to drink those unnecessary sugars if I can swallow that stuff without wanting to cry. Liam is napping or else I would have done a yucky song and dance in the kitchen. Instead I quietly gagged and my face quivered for at least a minute afterward. Well, I haven’t coughed in five minutes so maybe it’s working.

I put the nasal strip on wrong at first because this part of the directions confused me: “Make sure that the nasal strip spring is tangent to the top of the nasal flare.” Once I noticed the diagram it all made sense. I am not a dumb lady but I do have more phlegm lodged in my head than what’s necessary and it’s clouding my normal comprehension skills. I even had that sighing moment of relief, like, “Aahhhh!” when I did it right, like you see on the commercials. That’s the first time a commercial ever lived up to itself in real life. Thank you, nasal strips. I’m going to tell my friends about you.

I am really distracted my watching Liam sleep next to me right now. He has this adorable little shock of blond hair sticking up, off center, right on top of his head, and it’s glowing in the indirect noontime light. Both of his hands are tucked behind his head and the giraffe on his onesie is rising and falling with each deep belly-breath.

He takes my breath away every time.

Right now I am really missing him. He’s right next to me but I can’t nuzzle and cuddle and kiss him like I normally do because I don’t want to give him what I have. As soon as I feel better he’ll eat up the attention from me at first but I’ll be making up for lost time and he’ll end up trying to push me away. “Enough kisses! I get it! You love me!”

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Did you know they could put Vicks INSIDE of your tissues???

What I was doing 10 years ago: This was the November of my sophomore year of high school. I think. Freshman? Sophomore? Yeah, Sophomore. I think. The first weekend of November was the state finals for marching band and color guard and my second year as captain. I had a big crush on a snare drummer from South Portland High School and a boy on my history class named Nolan. I was still also harboring serious fantasies of meeting and marrying Nick Hexum from 311. Fortunately for me, Gabe and Liam, things never worked out for me with the snare drummer, Nolan or Nick. This is seriously all I remember about this time during sophomore year. Embarrassing? A little.

What I was doing 5 years ago: I was twenty and had just moved out of my parents’ house. I was living in my lovely little studio apartment in Portland and working at the hat store. I was wearing my mum’s jacket from 1976 and brown boots from Material Objects and walking happily around the peninsula. I spent my time outside of work by myself, cooking and cleaning and dreaming and looking out my windows. It was a bit of an Amelie existence. When I did have company, I was cutting their hair. One month later, I’d meet Gabe online and two months after that, he’d fly there to spend two weeks with me.

One year ago: One year ago, Gabe and I had been married for three months and I was two months pregnant. We’d just had our first exhilarating ultrasound and gotten out of our horrible apartment situation in Denton. This is around the time the All Day Sickness got really bad. It was pretty cold and I was really tired.

Yesterday: I tried calling in sick but no one was answering the phone. Afraid that I was the opening manager on duty and didn’t know it, I put a hoodie over my jammies and rushed to work to find four employees waiting outside of the store. I let them in and the alarm system didn’t like my password. Fortunately the security company called and got it straightened out, so the police didn’t show up with lights flashing and guns drawn. I called the store manager, who was on the schedule for the morning as well and found she’d been trying to call me at the store to let me know she was running late. When she arrived, I came home and coughed up a lung and a half, drank some OJ and napped. I spent the day on the couch, coughing and blowing my nose and guzzling water and napping, and Gabe went to Hobby Lobby to pick up our Christmas tree. It’s four and a half feet tall, $17.49 and pretty cute.

5 snacks I enjoy: Fresh fruit, fresh veggies and/or pita bread with hummus, crackers and Swiss cheese, desserts and leftovers.

5 things I would do if I had $100 Million: Buy a house in Maine, pay off our debt, buy a hybrid vehicle, get braces, and travel. There would also be charity, college funds, saving the earth, job quitting and shopping involved.

5 places I would run away to: Canada, Europe, Cape Cod, Hawaii, and Alaska.

5 TV shows I like: The Office, Golden Girls, Arrested Development, Roseanne, and The Soup.

5 things I hate doing: Dusting, driving on I-35E, chewing the inside of my mouth (yet why can’t I stop???), paying the electricity bill, and scrubbing the bath tub and shower.

5 biggest joys of the moment:
Liam (everything about him), Gabe (most things about him- oh, hi Gabe!), the upcoming holidays, it’s almost bedtime, and Puffs Plus with Vicks.


Nora's Favorite Cranberry Relish

This is a nice addition/substitution to your otherwise predictable holiday buffet (and there’s just something weird and wrong about canned, jiggly cranberry sauce).

1 bag cranberries*
1 medium size orange
1 cup sugar, more or less to taste**

Rinse cranberries. By the handful, grate them in a blender until there are no more whole cranberries. (If you blend more than a handful at a time, they will grate unevenly.) Use a rubber spatula to remove each little batch from your blender.

Once the cranberries are done, wash, peel and section your orange. This is the tedious part: peel as much of the membrane as you can from the outside of each slice. On the same setting, blend half of the orange, then the other half of the orange. It'll get really mushy.

Combine cranberries and oranges in a bowl and add sugar. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Serve cold as a side with your holiday meal. Pucker up and enjoy!

You can add chopped walnuts or sliced almonds if you so choose but I don’t choose- it’s pretty perfect (to my mouth) as it is.

*You know, the regular bags they sell around this time of year. I don’t know how many ounces it is. I usually only see one size and one brand: Ocean Spray.
**I prefer less because the orange lends a more natural sweetness and I don’t like losing the tartness of the cranberries.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Waffle Thief

Sometime while I was sleeping last week, Liam grew up.

He has more hair on his head every day and we’re coming to realize that he will probably be a blond child like his dad rather than a life-long brunette like his mama. His hair is really fine and it’s getting longer on top. For a while it was just a handful of stray inch-and-a-halfers, now it’s this little tuft right on top of his head and I call it his fuzzy ducky hair.

On the day he became five months old, I decided to start him on solids a.s.a.p. when he reached for my plate and nearly stole my waffles. Less than twenty-four hours later, he was happily, hungrily (and, at first, bewilderingly) sucking down organic rice cereal mixed with breastmilk. Five days later he tried applesauce and has not turned back. Tomorrow we go for the carrots. In his near future are bananas and green beans. (All organic- that’ll be another post.)

He got really excited when he saw the bowl and tiny spoon and realized it was for him…
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After his first taste, he wasn’t sure what to think (or do)…
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Once I started saying “Yum, yum, yum!” to him like I sometimes do while he’s nursing or having a bottle, he got the hang of it…
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Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
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But he still wanted to know, “Mama, am I doing this right?”
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Since he started eating solids, I swear he has gotten taller and stronger. He’s sitting up better with less of our help, and wobbles less when we help him stand.
Why, just this afternoon, after more than a month of tireless/tiresome efforts, he finally rolled all the way over, from back to belly, without getting his arm stuck under him! Gabe and I congratulated him and he just looked at us like, “What, it’s no biggie. I could have done that before, if I really wanted to.” He’s done it twice since, and he looks a little more triumphant for it.

He’s napping peacefully right now in his bouncer, his pacifier gone forgotten between his lips, his head tilted slightly toward the late day light coming in the windows. He really has an exquisite face, and from here his profile is just perfect. He has Gabe’s nose and chin, there is no doubt about that. He has long eyelashes like mine. He’s not as chubby now that he moves around a lot on his own, and his torso and arms are long, soft and strong. His legs are long and strong too but have retained those yummy baby rolls, probably until he starts crawling and walking. His hands- oh, his hands! His hands are wide, his fingers long, his skin satiny. Don’t be fooled by how delicate they sound; he has a kung-fu grip.

And his feet. I could write a whole blog entry about his feet.

Two or three evenings ago we were sitting on the couch and I was chatting to him to distract him from the fact that I was clipping his toenails. Out of nowhere he started laughing. Not his short, abrupt little baby giggles and squeals but full-on, decidedly non-baby, full-belly laughter. I wasn’t even tickling him. Apparently his toes are hilarious. And he kept doing it! A couple times he stopped when I cracked up, and a couple times he laughed again because I did. It was the most pure, beautiful sound I have ever heard and I will never forget the joyous look on his face or the way Gabe came running in from the kitchen when it happened.

I’m seeing Liam more lately not just as who he is but who he will be. I can envision him as a toddler now that his facial expressions are numerous and he is more interactive with his surroundings. I am seeing that I created and gave birth to a flawless creature who, just by existing, will become impure but remain beautiful and continue to actually make me feel new again just by spending time with him. He’s truly lovely.

Warning: TMI ahead, if you are squeamish, sensitive, or private about your body or other people's bodies.

On a strictly Nora note, I am sick. This is my fourth day home sick, and tomorrow will be my fifth and hopefully last. I’ve had this irritation in my throat now for a few weeks and it culminated in the middle of this past week to swelling, pain, coughing, eye-watering headache, congestion, fatigue and body aches. I actually have a burst capillary in my eyelid from coughing so hard. And ladies, all of this while suffering with my period. Yes, suffering. This month marks the thirteenth year of my monthly handicap. (“Visitor” sounds far too friendly.) As a woman I can see that the menstrual cycle is actually a beautiful symbol of fertility and life but during my five to seven (used to be eight to nine, sheesh) days of gushing blood, intense cramping, dizziness, exhaustion, etc., it’s hard to really focus on how lucky I am to be a woman. Being anemic really only bothers me outright during my period because I lose so much blood. I can actually feel the iron deficiency. It makes me want to swallow metal. So yes, I am confident in saying I suffer and not feel as though I am exaggerating.

This last part was just wanting to complain, I really just wanted to update about Liam.


Sunday, October 7, 2007

baby or dinosaur or poop machine

In the past couple days Liam has discovered how to purse his lips and blow spitty air through them. He finds this quite delightful and uses his newly-perfected raptor shrieks to let us now just how much fun he's having. I find it quite delightful as well- not only do I think it's hilarious when he poops but when he makes poop sounds, too.

This morning he came THISCLOSE to rolling over. He was squealing and raptor shrieking the whole time.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

A birthmark the shape of Maine

Ack... not a lot of time for writing here lately. My novel is stalled at two chapters and I am very, very behind on folding and putting away laundry. Maybe I can keep doing what I am doing and justify it as, "Well, my entire apartment is my bureau..." Yeah, I live in a bureau. I am full-time at work now and my milk supply is not as abundant as it once was since I spend less time with Liam. We supplement one feeding a day with formula now and I am still having a hard time thinking about that.

Last week my sister got married next to a beautiful lake in central Maine. Karsten was happier that weekend than I have ever seen her, and her new husband was looking at her as though she was magical. Maybe she is. They are in Italy right now. Italy! With this man, Karsten will be supported and encouraged in her creativity (he is a writer and artist) and they will TRAVEL. They are beautiful.

The wedding in Maine meant Liam's first major travels (further than Gabe and I got until we were in our early twenties!) and first plane ride. It went remarkably well... at first. We had connecting flights because there is no such thing as a non-stop flight from Dallas to Portland. He slept for the entire flight to Cleveland, and most of the flight from there to Portland. That last leg was just an hour and a half! Too bad we don't live in Cleveland, eh? (While I'm too-badding, too bad we don't live in Maine. Ahem.)

We rented a Ford Escape at the jetport, which I got to drive since I am finally of rental car age and don't have to pay out of me arse for not being twenty-five. I'm twenty-five now, so there! (Gabe is twenty-four.) It was really nice to drive a new vehicle and for the steering wheel not to shake when I reach 50 miles per hour.

As expected, everyone loves Liam. Until this past weekend, the only person in my family who'd met Liam was my mum. She visited us when he was five weeks old. My dad had a tear in the corner of his eye when he met him. My brothers could not stop holding him. Karsten adores him. At the wedding my aunts and uncles and cousins all enjoyed him. He was pretty sleepy the whole time.

He matured while we were in Maine, he changed and grew a lot. I think it was the air- cool and clean and pure. It could have been all of that love for him from new people who loved him before they even met him. Or the fact that Gabe and I are so much happier when we are in Maine. Maybe it was all of that. Once we got there he looked at things differently and smiled and talked and squealed more. And I swear he grew.

On the way home, he slept during most of the flight from Portland to Newark. Newark to Dallas... um, not so much. We heard him poop just before we took off. Normally, for reasons I can't really explain, I think it's hilarious when my son poops. This time, with the prospect of not being able to get up to change him until the pilots deemed it safe to move about the cabin, I envisioned the poop oozing out the top of the back of his diaper and smearing on his back and clothes. I'd forgotten to pack him an extra set of clothes in case of this kind of emergency.

Then he fell asleep. We didn't smell anything. The back of his onesie was staying clean and dry. Sweeeeet... I fell asleep too. When I woke up a little later, with Liam in my arms, Gabe suggested we change his diaper. As I readjusted Liam to squeeze out of my window seat I felt the wetness. There was a HUGE wet spot on the front of my shirt, not to mention Liam's legs and front. Fan-freakin-tastic.

We still didn't know the poop situation so we both went to the bathroom to assess it and deal with it- in case one adult was needed for wiping and one adult was needed for holding Liam's feet away from his diaper. Have you ever tried to fit two adults in an airplane bathroom? HOW DOES THE MILE-HIGH CLUB WORK??? Gabe had to stand in the doorway with the door open. We decided to leave Liam in just his diaper for the remainder of the flight. Good thing I at least remembered a blanket. (And good thing the poop sounded worse and bigger than it was.)

He didn't sleep at all after that, which meant he was awake for landing, which meant he didn't know what to do about the change in air pressure except cry, which meant he refused to nurse or use his pacifier to help alleviate the pain. That poor kid. He was so brave and strong! As soon as we were on the ground he was like, "Hey what's up?" and he fell asleep as soon as he hit his car seat. I am so proud of him. Now he's all travel-savvy.

Today he is four months old. I don't know where time has gone.

And my pre-pregnancy size 6 jeans are a little loose on me! (So are my thighs.)

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Things I thought would never happen.

Liam slept for ten and a half hours last night!


Old Navy is having a 25% off sale for all of their infant and toddler clothing!


I am comfortably wearing my size 7 jeans!

(A large, enthusiastic choir is singing Hallelujah! boomingly in my head.)

Hi ho, hi ho...

I have now been back to work for a week, fortunately not full time yet because I have wanted to sleep more this past week than I have since I got used to having a baby at home. It was surprisingly (and somewhat disturbingly) easy to fall back into a routine at work. I am kicking arse at customer service and whipping my new/old sections into shape, all the while getting a hang of the new computer login that takes way too long when there are people waiting, and still trying to explain to our sellers why we can’t pay a dollar apiece for their fifty-year-old National Geographics that have obviously been chewed on by mice.

And I have walked into the bathroom twice to find a customer sitting on the toilet with their pants around their ankles. Here’s some advice, ladies: if you’re pissing in public, you should not only lock the door behind you but make sure you shut the frackin’ door in the first place. Oh. My. Word.

Liam has been exceptional for Kay while I am at work. He eats, sleeps, smiles and generally charms the heck out of his Gramma. I know both he and Gabe really enjoy their alone time together as well. I just miss having as much alone time with Liam as I used to.

I didn’t cry like I thought I would when I went back. I came close, I won’t lie. I spent my first day back thinking about him but as more of an abstract thought. When I slowed down for a moment and pictured him smiling at me, my throat got tight and I think my lip quivered. But I maintained my composure and just hugged him like a mama bear when I got home.

When I first started working at the store I was in charge of the following sections: art, photography, architecture, home repair, home arts, gardening and antiques & collectibles (all contained within three and a half aisles). At some points, cooking, health, self help and social science were added on top of those, then I was moved over to the kid’s section. Now that I am back at the store and not medically restricted to sitting at the register for my entire shift, I have art, photography… etc up to antiques & collectibles again and I couldn’t be more thrilled. I have all kinds of marking down and clearancing to catch up on and restoring a general sense of order to these shelves. It keeps me distracted from only thinking of the fact that I’d rather be with Liam and gives me a sense of accomplishment. (There is folded laundry from two weeks ago and a pile of unfolded but clean laundry from this past week on the floor in the dining room that I have no intention of putting away anytime soon, but those boxes upon boxes of books waiting for me? Bring it on, for $8.64 an hour. If I got paid for housework in money it would always be caught up on!)

However, I said it out loud for the first time the other day and my heart sank a little bit: I no longer work in a book store because I love books, I work there because I need the money. This really does make me sad. Working in a book store has been a dream for me since before I was old enough to work and the closest I ever came was working in a cafĂ© inside of a bookstore when I was twenty years old. I finally got my current job three years ago, despite a disappointing starting wage- I couldn’t pass up the benefits, or the books!

It might be different if I had the feeling that more of our customers genuinely appreciated the printed word (and our hard work at giving it to them at a low, low price with a smile), but far too many people have asked who the “arthur” is of whatever book they were looking for, or asked me where they could find How to Kill a Mockingbird. I have had far too many old pervy male customers ask my chest where to find the religion book their pastor recommended. I am far too discouraged by Nora Roberts’ inexplicable ability to write fifteen books a year when I have only ever finished a handful of short (really short) stories and two chapters of a novel in all of the years I have been writing. I have had to explain to too many people who are old enough to know that fiction means it’s made up and non-fiction means it’s not made up.

Oh Nora, complain complain complain. The truth is, I can still appreciate books as a stay-at-home mom but we can’t afford it. Even when someone asks me where a book is that I have read and loved and they even know who the author is, even when someone actually takes a recommendation from me, even when a man looks me in the eye to say thank you for helping him find a book… I just want to take a walk with Liam or encourage him to roll over (he’s trying!) or watch him blink slowly while he’s nursing or feel his little hand squeeze my finger. And that’s enough.

I am grateful for my job, and I am grateful that I haven’t encountered as many sour customers as I anticipated upon my return to the bookstore. I will try to erase the image of two different ladies sitting on the toilet. I am grateful that I have a beautiful and healthy son to come home to, and a wonderful mother-in-law who watches him while I am away. I am thankful that Gabe is his father and gets to have his daddy time too.

I just don’t want to miss anything. He’s growing so fast.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Superbad... or Super inappropriate yet hilarious?

For the first time since... I don't know, a long time... Gabe and I went out on a date. All last week I was doing trial runs of leaving Liam home with Kay while I ran quick errands (and I mean quick- I said that it was so Liam could get used to being home with someone else before I went back to work but it was more of an exercise for myself to get used to it) and decided that maybe I- ahem- I mean, Liam was ready to be at home with Kay for a couple hours without me. Since Gabe and I hadn't been out for our anniversary earlier in the month we decided to see a movie together on Saturday. We chose Superbad because we laughed at the previews we saw on TV and as a fan of Arrested Development reruns on G4 on Sundays I wanted to see Michael Cera in something else because he makes me laugh too.

Now, when I was in high school, I had a couple guy friends, but not many. I was too shy to talk to most boys even if I didn't have a crush on them. But I am pretty sure that most of the boys I was friends with didn't actually talk the way the high school boys in this movie talked. As I type this I am aware I am just saying that because I hope they didn't. I have a little brother and I can't imagine him having ever said those words. Perhaps this is why the movie made me laugh- if I knew people who talked only about sex in the most graphic and inappropriate ways, it would have just been an hour and a half of real life. Instead I got these impossibly adorable potty-mouthed kids who I probably would've been friends with in high school (as long as they didn't say d*ck and p**sy all the time in front of me), or wanted to be friends with them but was too shy to approach them, even the awkward, sweet, puppy-dog eyed Evan (Michael Cera).

So if you don't want to think too hard and you want to laugh at kids you wish had been your friends in high school, go ahead and spend $5-12 on this movie (depending on where you live and how expensive your local theaters are).

To clarify a few things:

- The man I refer to as my "little brother" is actually now twenty-three years old, has a pretty intense beard, and is undeniably taller than me.
- The more I think about it, I kind of remember the last time Gabe and I went out alone. It was before I had Liam and we had dinner at Chili's. Maybe sometime in May?
- I know for sure the time before that was in February when we went to Cafe Brazil for our other anniversary that marks how long we've been together.
- I have no idea why the movie is called Superbad.
- As the mother of a very new, very pure and innocent son I also like to tell myself kids don't really talk like that because I can't imagine those thoughts even passing Liam's future teenage mind, let alone those words ever passing his future teenage lips.

Friday, August 24, 2007


Last week I went to the North Park Mall with my mother-in-law, Kay, and sister-in-law, Jules. Of course, Liam came along as well. I was shopping for a dress to wear in my sister's wedding next month. I found a nice simple black one at XXI and we made a few more window-shopping stops at other stores.

My favorite part of the day was finding these beautiful flash cards for Liam at Anthropologie, of all places. I had planned on eventually ordering them on Amazon but I found a little corner of the store that had some kids' items, including Shel Silverstein poetry and Eric Carle board books. I would like to eventually own the whole Wee Gallery art card collection but that day I just picked up the Farm Collection. When I go back to work and have something of a normal income again I am excited about getting the Garden and Sea Collections most of all.

Even if I didn't have a baby I might still get these cards because they are so beautiful. Luckily I can enjoy them with Liam.

Speaking of which I go back to work a week from tomorrow. Three days a week at first for September, then full time in October. I try not to think about it. Gabe and I are fortunate enough that Kay will be coming over to watch Liam during the time of day that our schedules overlap, but I have had three months at home with my sweet baby. I have loved every minute of it- even when I get frustrated that I can't get him to stop crying sometimes, I love being able to be there at least, and hold him. We shared the same body for eight and a half months, so Liam and I have been attached at the hip (so to speak) for almost a year now. I live close enough to my job that I can come home for my lunch break but still. I just want my baby. (But I also need a paycheck. Groan.)

He's been smiling so much lately. I am obviously the funniest, wittiest, most lovable and entertaining woman there ever was; my nearly three-month-old son smiles and laughs at me when I am not even trying.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Count me in.

What it comes down to is, I love the band matt pond PA. Love. LOVE.

I have only seen them once, when they came to Dallas in March of 2006. I was really excited and yeah, I choked up when they were playing. I think it was during "Last Song," which they played first. Then it happened again during "Measure 3" because that's the first matt pond PA song I ever heard.

They played in Dallas again last November. I was two months pregnant so instead of going to the show and enduring too much time on my feet, second-hand smoke and, well, annoying kids who might elbow me in the stomach so they can get closer to the stage and gaze up at Matthew Pond or Dana Feder (boy or girl, the gazer will almost always gaze at the singer or the one girl in the band) and make sure Matt or Dana see them singing along and tapping their hand over their heart in beat to the music, I went to my sister-in-law's performance of The Nutcracker. I love my sister-in-law, I enjoyed the Nutcracker, I hate second-hand smoke and annoying kids at shows but I was pretty bummed to be missing mpPA.

When I found out they're releasing a new album this fall I was excited because that would mean another tour! When I found out my sister's wedding was in late September I thought that because sometimes things are funny that way, they'd be playing in Dallas when I was in Maine for the nuptials.

matt pond PA posted a MySpace bulletin a couple days ago titled "tour + dates." My heartbeat quickened. My stomach tightened. I was almost afraid to click on it. I just felt like I'd open it and I'd find that our paths would indeed not cross again. That would be a real punch in the gut. I read a couple other bulletins first while I held my breath. Finally, my face red, I clicked it. The first date posted was for Boston on September 27. I smiled. If they were in Boston that week, they would not be in Texas already by the weekend of the wedding in Maine. I scrolled down wildly, looking for and hoping desperately for a Dallas date. There it was. October 22, almost a month after my sister's wedding. My head exploded from the happiness. I would get to see them again.

I don't go to as many shows as I used. I go to maybe 1% of the number that I used to. (I don't know the exact figure but that sounds about right.) The band has to be really special for me if I'm going to go. Especially now that I have a baby. matt pond PA is special enough. I'm going.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Hey Napoleon, gimme some of your tots!

I’ve been a little restless. I want desperately to put Liam in his stroller and take a nice long walk around our apartment complex but it's about one hundred million degrees outside. OK, not really. According to weather.com it's 101 and feels like 103. For a Mainer like me, that may as well be one hundred million degrees because where I used to live, it's 74 outside right now. That's some nice strolling weather.

I haven't gotten much exercise since I gave birth. OK, it's been longer than that. I haven't gotten much exercise since I started getting morning sickness. I'm lying again! It's been since my wedding, OK? We came back from our honeymoon and my second semester of school started a week later. I was working full time too so I wasn't exercising, and I don't count walking around campus because that's not optional like exercise is. I was driving to work, working, driving home from work, going to class, doing homework or sleeping. That's pretty much all I was doing. (Well that and the act which got me pregnant. Whatever, I was a newlywed.) In the time between my wedding and my first doctor's appointment after my positive home pregnancy test, I had gained three pounds. Now, I know that three pounds is nothing. Sometimes it's just a matter of taking a dump. But this was three consistent pounds that were there every morning, when your weight is most accurate. I hadn't been eating well because of a lack of time and energy. I knew those three pounds were there but my favorite jeans still fit and I didn't have to worry about a form-fitting wedding dress anymore. I was 128 pounds and I'm 5'7" so that's within the healthy range.

When I found out I was pregnant I stopped going to school because I was worn so thin already and I wanted to save my energy for work and my baby. I had these wonderful plans of having a healthy pregnancy complete with belly-friendly exercise and baby-friendly foods.

Then morning sickness happened less than a week after those two pink lines showed up. And let me tell you what a gross understatement the term “morning sickness” is- I had All Day Sickness. I’m not kidding. I was weak, dizzy and nauseous during nearly every waking minute for the first trimester and a half. Good thing my workplace is generous with sick time and that I had a good little bundle of it stored up. With All Day Sickness there was no exercising going on and as far as eating well, that went out the window too. A salad is the last thing you want to eat, even though I am usually wild for vegetables. While greasy foods are on the list of things not to eat in order to avoid morning sickness, tater tots from Sonic were sometimes all I could stomach. Oh and saltines. I ate so many saltines. Tater tots, saltines, toast, rice and pasta. Food smells would trigger All Day Sickness if I didn’t already have it, so the blander, the better.

Even though my diet wasn’t the healthiest, I also wasn’t eating a lot during the day so at first my weight gain was very slow. Up until I was put on bed rest for seven days when I was twenty-eight weeks along, I was only up to about 140 or 145 pounds, if I remember correctly. There was no exercise up to that point but I was on my feet at work and drinking tons of water. After bed rest, I was put on restricted duty at work so I was sitting all day (including most of my time at home) and eating more. All Day Sickness had mostly calmed by this point, replaced by body aches and intense fatigue. This is when I started gaining weight like a pregnant lady. It never got out of control but it was definitely happening at a faster rate than in the beginning. My appetite was pretty normal and I wasn’t able to do much in the way of activity so on the day I gave birth to Liam I weighed 168- a total gain of forty pounds. I’d used an online calculator when I first became pregnant to determine how much weight I “should” gain for my starting height and weight. They (I don’t know who “they” are- some phantom internet obstetricians?) recommended I gain twenty-five to forty pounds. I’d been hoping to keep it down in the range of thirty, but that’s what bed rest and restricted duty will do to you. And tater tots.

Within a few weeks of delivery I lost thirty pounds. I know there was a ton of water weight, as my legs and feet had fallen victim to the sausage effect of water retention. (I am pleased to say that my legs look normal and you can see daylight between my toes again.) I am also breastfeeding and that is said to help women lose the pregnancy weight.

Right now I am at 134 or 135, so these last ten pounds on the road back to 128 have been stubborn. They would probably be long-gone if I would have exercised. But you get home from the hospital, you’re exhausted, you’re not allowed to exercise right away, you just want to cuddle your baby or sleep. Now I’m healed up (fourth-degree tearing, yowza!) and allowed to resume normal activity but our tiny apartment is newly furnished with baby stuff, like a changing table/ bassinet/ play yard combo in the dining room (um yeah, the table that used to be in there is in storage closet on our porch) and the cradle swing and bouncy seat in the living room and it leaves little room for me to resume what I used to do as indoor exercise- something adult and sophisticated like yoga, and something I’ve done in private my whole life, wholly unsophisticated- dancing and flailing around like a madwoman, pulling moves that should never be pulled in public or in cramped areas.

And walking or running outside? When it feels like 104? No, thank you. There’s a swimming pool here at our apartment but with those last extra pounds clinging to my thighs, hips and belly I no longer deem myself bathing suit worthy. And I’m not buying a suit that fits because it won’t by next summer (one would hope).

So I’ll wait until September or October, whenever Texas catches up with the actual seasons, and I’ll walk a lot. I want to start running as well but one time Gabe laughed at me when I broke into a jog when we were taking a walk and now I’m very self conscious of how I look when I run. Do I run like a girl? A chicken? An elephant? Did he laugh because my butt jiggles? But he says he likes my butt! Just let a girl jog in peace!

Monday, August 13, 2007

My baby and an anniversary.

I have been a mom for two months and seven days. Or, if you want to include my pregnancy, that's an additional eight and a half months. Or, if you want to include my dreams, that's my whole entire life.

I am 25 years old.

I am pretty sure I have given birth to the most beautiful baby there has ever been on Earth. Every other mother will disagree with me, because their baby or babies are the most beautiful babies on Earth. None of us are wrong.

I wanted to write a blog about my pregnancy and then motherhood but I know some people, particularly ones who don’t have kids, think pregnancy and motherhood talk are boring. Sometimes that can be right but I have found that once you become pregnant and give birth, your baby is all you think about so of course your baby is all you talk about. Even when you’re not trying- there’s the infamous Pregnancy Brain and I’ve come to realize that it doesn’t really go away. Well, it hasn’t for me yet. There’re also all of the people who only want to ask you questions about your pregnancy, your plans for parenthood, your life as a parent, so naturally you end up still only talking about those things. That’s ok. I just would like to talk about more, mostly as a personal exercise to be sure that I am still capable of that.

I’ll get to it later.

Liam is an amazing baby. When I think about how he was curled up all cozy in my body for so long and then one day, suddenly, he was in my arms. Well it wasn’t actually very suddenly. I was in labor for seventeen hours, I pushed for an hour, and a vacuum extraction happened in the end because his cord was wrapped twice around his neck so he really needed to come out. I couldn’t push anymore, anyway. But that whole process- the sperm and the egg, the joining, the growing, the birth, more growing, watching him change- it’s amazing. He’s amazing.

He’s just started smiling at us and giggling. He smiles more than he giggles; it’ll come. He is warm and cuddly and he makes funny faces. This kid has no idea the affect he has on us, especially when one of us is holding him and he keeps an arm around our neck in a tiny hug, or when he runs his fingertips over our skin when he is sleepy. He is soft. I get peed on and spit up on and sometimes even poop-juiced on, and I don’t care. I think it’s funny, actually. He is brave and strong. I think you have to be, to be a baby. You have to face each day in this big, weird world when really you probably just want to curl back up in your mom’s uterus where no one can bother you. All of that close talking has got to get old. He is curious and observant and obviously a genius. It sounds clichĂ©, but loving your baby is a love above any other love, more than I ever imagined before. And believe me, I’ve done a lot of imagining.

Gabe is my husband and Liam’s dad. Today is actually our anniversary. Our wedding was on a beautiful, sunny, seventy-five degree day in central Maine last year. We’ve spent our first anniversary sleeping in, taking Liam for his two-month check up, grocery shopping, and getting some internet time in while Liam sleeps. It’s too hot out (we live in Texas, not Maine, unfortunately, but hopefully not for much longer) and we don’t have the extra money to do much else. We’ve been together for four and a half years. We met online. (Don’t hate; we were far too young and hopeful for a dating service so it wasn't like that.) I got pregnant just over a month after our wedding. We didn’t plan it but we didn’t not plan it. We both teared up when the two pink lines showed up on that little plastic tester. We sit here a year later with a beautiful son snoozing peacefully in his bouncy seat (his favorite napping place aside from our arms) and some nice quiet time. I hope Gabe and I get to make out at some point. You know, to celebrate.

So yeah, I talk about my son a lot and I talk about my husband. It's what happens. Maybe sometimes I'll talk about something else.