Thursday, August 30, 2007


So I went to school yesterday.
(pause for applause)
For those of you who don't know, I'm almost finished with my MFA in creative writing (fiction) from SDSU. Yesterday I went down there to get a few signatures, hand in a few forms, and generally take care of business.
That last sentance makes it sound like a quick easy jaunt, but I was really dreading the trip, because:
a) it's forty minutes away
b) its hot and sticky near El Cajon
c) it's a big campus
d) I had to take Lucy
e) It was the first day of classes, so there were tons of people and limited parking
f) I don't have a parking pass
g) everytime I figure out the form I need to complete, sign and hand in, I discover three more forms I didn't know about that need obscure signatures and/or fees. They all go to different offices! Which are located across the really large campus!

The day didn't start out terribly well, since I ignored the "Oil Warning" light that went on in the car. Upon arriving at SDSU, I checked the manual, only to discover that the light I ignored means "Stop the car immediately! Add oil, you lazy nincompoop! Do not pass Go! Do not collect $200!"
Then I realized that the carefully written and double-checked itenerary I'd written up for myself (with room numbers, names, and everything I had to get done that day if I didn't want to make another trip) was--surprise!--still at home.
But the good news is: that was as bad as it got.
I found the lovely professor who agreed (sight unseen) to be on my thesis committee. She's a mom, too! She cooed at Lucy!
I joined the welcome lunch for new MFA students and got to meet a few. I saw my two favorite professors. They cooed at Lucy! I saw old friends. They, too, cooed at Lucy!
Then I took a break from the good vibes and walked all the way across the heat-baked campus, Lucy strapped to my hip, lugging a diaper bag, to the 7-Eleven. Where I bought a quart of motor oil. Then I schlepped back.
Then I met with my advisor. And got necessary signatures.
And handed in my forms to the department. They processed them while I waited so I could register for one thesis class right away! (Remember, this is a state-run beuraucracy, people! I didn't think they did Jiffy-anything. But the lovely woman there remembered my nervous phone call complaining about my childcare situation and long commute, and busied herself for me.)
Then I went to the Graduate and Research Affairs office to hand in my other thesis form (with my committee member signatures). I was most nervous about this one, since the website says to get the thesis form done "well before registration".
Registration was a month ago. Yesterday was the first day I could meet with my committee chair. Take that, Graduate and Research Affairs!
There was no line. The woman checked over my form and said they'd email me when it was processed. And that I could get the info I needed to register over the phone.
You mean, I didn't have to go to campus again? You mean it would actually be convenient?
All through this, Lucy was extremely winning and cute and completely good-natured about being dragged around the campus. She sat in her stroller part of the time, and in the sling the rest. She smiled at strangers. She flapped her arms.
Finally, I went back to the parking structure, where I hadn't gotten a ticket! And put the quart of motor oil into the car, and the warning light went away!
On the way home, I got a Coke Slurpee to celebrate our triumph.

This morning, I opened my email and found: an email from Graduate and Research Affairs. Saying my form had been processed and that I could register.
Gosh, I think I'll stop accusing SDSU of being un-Jiffy.

I wonder if they do oil changes?

major sleep developments

I am almost giddy.
First, the bad news. We went through a couple days of really (really) crappy sleep. I made the mistake of giving Lucy some zucchini bread for her birthday, forgetting that it had egg in it. She hadn't had egg before.
We were up for three nights straight.
On the third night, after nursing her six times from 10-1 am (instead of sleeping), I got a little tired. She looked pretty peaceful, so I decided to go in the other bedroom to catch 40 winks before she woke up again.
I fell asleep, sure I'd wake to the sound of her crying, and Dyami tapping my foot.
I woke to the sound...of crickets. I looked at the clock. 3:30.
Should I go back in the bedroom? Why would I, when she was sleeping so well?
I rolled over and went back to sleep.
And woke, at 6 am, to the sound of....garbage trucks.
Still no wakings? I was incredulous.
I went back into the bedroom, since it was almost time for D to go to work.

Well, it turns out that she had woken up at 2, 4, and was about to wake up at 6. While I was bummed for Dyami, it did mean that the unthinkable had happened.
He had coaxed her back to sleep without me. And he said it had only taken 10 minutes or so each time. That's faster than if I nurse her.
That's very good news. But wait, I'm not finished.

First, more bad news. Nursing Lucy to sleep has been progressively harder. Like impossible. A few nights, I've persevered for 40 minutes, only to finally give up, have Dyami drive her around in the car for twenty minutes, where she falls asleep. Since gasoline is a non-renewable resource, I just don't feel great about doing it every night, but nursing her to sleep has been like nursing a chimpanzee on crack. There's flailing! And hitting! and kicking! and pinching! And obviously I can't unlatch her and say nurse nicely if I want her to fall asleep. And it's not because she isn't tired--she has been overtired in the past--so much so that we've put her to bed even earlier to see if it helped, which it didn't.
So last night after about twenty minutes, I gave up. "You can drive her around," I said, "or take a try in the bedroom yourself, but I can't do this any more."
So he went in there, and ten minutes later came out...alone.

She was asleep.
We have decided that she doesn't seem to want to nurse to sleep anymore.
This is an extremely exciting development.
If Dyami could put her to sleep easily, and get her back to sleep, that means I could leave the house at night without feeling like a doctor on call.
It also means that when I go to school for the first time next week, I won't go feeling like I'm leaving Dyami with a crack-addicted chimp that he has to entertain for four hours.

In other words: freedom.
I have trouble getting my mind around that.
Oh, sweet freedom.

To add to the exciting developments, when she woke up last night at nearly one, I patted her back to sleep instead of nursing. She was complaining (but not super upset) for about ten minutes, and then she finally rolled over and started breathing evenly.
Then she woke up at three and seemed a little more insistant about nursing, which was fine.
and then she didn't wake up till morning.
Oh, sweet sleep!
If she just woke up once in the middle of the night, that would be fabulous. Oh, spectacular.

I feel like whooping, online. Here it goes: WHOOOOOOP!
I'm still giddy.

Friday, August 24, 2007

that tooth

So about that tooth.
I knew it was coming eventually. Really I did.
Well, mostly.
See, a while ago, I read a post on some random parenting blog/site/Yahoo group where a mom was wondering if she should be worried that her child didn't have teeth. At fourteen months. And someone said, well, maybe go to the dentist.
See, that was only two months away!
Part of me wonders: what would a dentist do? I mean, do you get little tooth pliers and pull them down like blinds? Or just take x-rays to confirm that yes, in fact, there are little tooth seedlings germinating?
Luckily, I don't have to find out now!

Now that she has a tooth, Lucy and I are back on the playing field with the Ginger competition. See, my friend Abi's daughter is five days younger than Lucy. Which makes them great ages for comparison.
For a while, Lucy was just slightly ahead of Ginger. She stopped taking her third nap first, and crawled first, and was just generally more advanced. I felt very magnanimous about it, like Oh, well, it's not that important...Ginger will catch up soon. Besides, these developmental milestones don't mean anything!
Then Ginger started eating, standing, signing, waving goodbye, and getting her first teeth. Yes, people, plural: teeth.
Suddenly I wasn't feeling so magnanimous. Developmental milestones don't mean anything...unless you're behind.
Okay, I'm kidding. Really, I'm kidding.
It kind of bothered me that I noticed/cared/observed that I might care if I let myself.
So I'm glad to have made up some ground.

I think I'm going to get Lucy some leg braces so she can catch up on the walking part.
Or maybe just some dentures.
Perhaps I have to go to the pediatric dentist after all.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

making and breaking

So I encouraged Lucy to make a super-cute habit!
If she's on my lap and I nuzzle her a little bit, she'll lean forward, eyes half closed, open her mouth and gum the end of my nose.
The first time she did it, I laughed so hard that it pretty much ensured she'd do it until she's sixteen. ("Mom, can I borrow the car? Oh, and here's your nose-nibble for the day") Not that I minded, really--it's super cute! And funny! And she only does it to me!
I started demonstrating to everyone. "Hey, did you see how Lucy sucks on the end of my nose?" Hilarity ensued.
But then her first tooth broke through the gumline. And instead of Soft Baby Gums, I felt Sharp Protruding Tooth.
Omigod, I thought. I've just asked this girl to bite my nose.
For those of you who are uninitiated, biting isn't quite so cute as gumming.
Oh, those Super-Cute Habits. They'll bite you in the, er, nose every time.

Monday, August 20, 2007

the other side

So the last two services we've been at church I've sat on the other side. For two years, Dyami and I have sat in the back left side of the sanctuary. The last two times I've sat in the back right.
I felt awkward and weird and guilt-ridden and good and relieved to make the change. I'm a creature of habit, so when I make these changes, they are very deliberate.
See, the left side had been depressing me.
No, nothing about the paint colors or the view of the pulpit. Left side is just where most of the friends we've made in the last couple of years sit.
But on the left side, there aren't any babies. Or mommies.
With Lucy being born, our old life seems to have turned red, then brown, then shrivelled and dropped off the tree altogether. I feel like we've been gone for years, and have lost connections to nearly everyone. That even our old friends are now new, and everything must be renegotiated. And that old habits don't work so well anymore.

When doing anything post-Lucy, I find I'm less frustrated and sad if I just abandon the "old way" of doing them. Grocery shopping, driving, errands, hanging out with friends, eating dinner, watching TV--we just do everything differently.
Usually the actual physical change is forced on me; I no longer can read a book at the drop of a hat; if Lucy is intent on doing something else, then the book gets put down. Same with say, sleeping, eating, and going to the bathroom.
But the inside attitude, that takes a long time to shift. I will persist in trying to do things I can't do any longer; go meet friends even when it patently interferes with her nap, drive to school when she doesn't like the car; have dinner out when she still doesn't like sitting in a high chair. I bang my head against the wall a few times, and then I make the mental shift that matches the physical reality.
But church--well, church has been hard.
For one thing, our church 'gig' was playing in the worship band. Dyami has gone back to that, but I have not, not so much. We're still working on the childcare thing.
So even in the 'old days', I didn't sit down in back much--just during sermons and such. I didn't have a pew marked with my name, in other words. I didn't have people that expected me to be there.
That has made this transition more lonely, I think. Because the shift has been more dramatic than just sitting in the pew + baby. I didn't really used to sit in the pew much, at all.
Now that I do, I need pew buddies. I don't really have any. I have a left side couple with a baby that is able to make it sometimes--but only sometimes. The service isn't at a great time for baby people.
The other problem is that it's hard just sitting anywhere. I sit in the back, so as to be able to get out of the service relatively easily. And on the aisle. Which is back behind where all of our left-side friends sit.
I think people kind of forget we're there.
Also, usually it's just me (Dyami's up front playing bass), so I'm more isolated than usual.
And Lucy makes all kind of noises now, so during the sermon, I generally try to get out of there. During the music, she's not so audible or distracting.
We also have to rush out of the service most nights, because it's usually past Lucy's bedtime. So there's no going out to dinner afterwards, or chatting with bunches of people.
Also, I think I'm slightly paranoid. They're ignoring me!, I think, when really people aren't doing anything of the sort. So that makes me sort of suspicious and irritable.
Oh, and there's the fact that I'm not so great in large groups as it is.
What I realized, though, is that there are several other young mothers on the right side. Some that I know well, some that I don't know very well at all.
Many get together after the service and chat, depending on the day, and the state of the kiddies.
And it occurred to me, sitting on the left side two weeks ago, that I could have some pew buddies, and people to chat with briefly after the service, and compatriots, if I just switched sides.
I did, and I was suddenly surrounded by other babies, and moms, and I felt much, much better.

It makes me sad that somehow, for whatever reason, being on the old side made me feel isolated, lonely and paranoid. Why is that?
I didn't want to feel like being a mommy turned me into a snob or a mommies-only type of person. And yet surrounded by people without kids, I long for some other moms.
It makes me wonder what my childless friends think of me. Do they feel like I've changed, become more unavailable? Do they not notice? Do they think I'm smug or self-absorbed or stand-offish?
I don't know. I wish I did. I wish I could go back and forth over this wall that parenthood creates between the Old Life and New, but I can't. When I try, I get very, very tired and sad.
It's easier just to switch sides.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

low-hanging fruit

So I got this cool book from the library called "The Consumer's Guide to Effective Environmental Choices". It's written by a bunch of scientists that analyzed current research to find which actions ordinary people can take to make the biggest difference on the environment. Rather than spin our wheels composting with worms (on second thought, I decided not to go for it), they point out that driving less and using efficient heating/cooling will make the most difference individually. It also talks about policies we can all press our elected officials for.
The good news is that the book was really well researched and had very practical advice. Don't use your fireplace too much, they counseled. Watch the toxic chemicals (paints, cleaners) that you use around your house. Consider informed purchases (house, car, energy efficient appliances) that will make a big environmental impact. Buy organic produce. Eat less meat. Don't eat beef much, if you do eat meat.
The low-hanging fruit of these ideas Dyami and I already pretty much do. I love a good steak as much as the next girl, but I'm trying to cut back. Organic produce? Check.
The bad news is that the stuff that probably makes the most impact (driving the car) is hardest. Let's not point out the fact that we live in suburban hell and public transportation seems woefully cumbersome. Let's focus, instead, on the fact that I've been using the car quite a lot (gulp) to get Lucy to sleep at various times.
According to their research, that not-so-green habit probably has a lot more impact than the whole cloth diapering/recycling do-gooderness that I've been so proud of.
The problem is that the car use is so hard to change around here. I think I need to research if it would really be possible to use public transportation in our neighborhood. Would it be ridiculous? For example, it would be great to take the train to school come fall, if the train actually ran late enough. It doesn't.
Does anyone else use our bus system ever???? Anyone? I've taken the bus once, I think. From La Jolla to downtown. It wasn't a great experience. It's just so slooooooow.
So for now, I'll stick to my low-hanging fruit. Mmmmm. Low-hanging fruit.

Monday, August 13, 2007

mommy guilt

So I just sent a heap of books out through Paperback Swap. Three of these books were ones I got from the Carlsbad Friends of the Library shop. For free! They had free parenting books and I snapped up a couple.
One of them looked promising, called Mommy Guilt. I thought it might be a sociological study of how or why guilt happens, plus maybe some tips about how to avoid it.
Nosiree. Well, okay, tips it had, aplenty.
Basically, the book was a gigantic distillation of parenting/household/lifestyle advice. After reading far too many expert manuals, I am weary of the genre (except, mostly, for the Organic Housekeeping book I just finished). Lots of suggestions! Much blather! Major condescension!
Maybe I'm just snarky after one too many sleep books, but "advice" just isn't all that helpful. These children, they defy "averages". And "milestones". Some of what I've read has been helpful, but much of it has just made me feel bad.
This book had all that, except about every aspect of parenting. From choosing a school to newborn care, these authors have a tip for you. The newborn advice: establish good habits early! That's kind of like telling a firefighter to watch out for stains to his uniform during a conflagration. Just keeping sane is the overwhelming priority, as far as I'm concerned.
How about cooking? They've got a list of pantry staples! Sex life? Say yes as often as possible! Yelling? Some is okay!
First problem: the book covered so many topics that it couldn't cover any really in depth. For example, the breasfeeding section basically said "breast is best" but don't beat yourself up if it doesn't work out. I'm fine with the "don't beat yourself up" part, but the way they couched it made it seem like you were bound to have problems, and it was only natural if you couldn't make it work. Isn't it really the other way around? (Nature would seem to favor breasfeeding working the grand majority of times). There wasn't any advice for how to find help for breastfeeding problems, or even a summary of the problems women usually encounter. Just, well, give it a go--you might as well! My critique isn't intended to make those moms out there who had real problems feel bad. I just hate to see a coverall advice book leave those real needs unmet, those real hurts unhelped.
However, most of the advice (well, I didn't like the discipline section, or the breastfeeding tips) was fine, probably helpful, or at least not harmful. One nice thing: the authors often presented multiple takes--culled from real moms. But overall, I wasn't into the book. I guess I'm sick of books telling us how to live. Yes, I inahale these books, guiltily, thinking they'll give me The Answer. But that's mostly because I'm bookish. I hate to see someone who doesn't take in books like plants do sunlight seeking out this book because they hope it will Change Their Life.
One illustration that will help clarify what was wrong with this book: the Crying Flow Chart. Yes, this book had a flow chart to illustrate what to do when your baby cried. No, I did not detect one iota of irony. Basically, it offered several diagnoses for crying (hungry? diaper full? sick?) but in a flow-chart format. Finally, it said if you've done everything you can to calm the child, to put them in a crib or swing or someplace safe and give yourself a ten-minute break.
Not necessarily the advice, but the presentation bothered me. A flow chart just seemed so corporate. And unconnected to instinct. Sure, the basic premise, try this, then this, then this, is what every mom does, every instant, when they care for their child. But a dry, formulaic approach is so distant from what caring for a child is really like. Every time I pull out a manual to try to help me solve some parenting crisis, the calm, lucid prose just seems so remote. How much more so for a flow chart? And I just had this awful picture of some mom, holding a squalling child in one hand and the book in the other, going, okay: diamond shape=decision point. Is she tired? Check.
So this book ended up going out into the world to bless someone who will hopefully find it more helpful. And I may just be weird or snarky or something for not liking it. Anyone else find it helpful?

Friday, August 10, 2007

one year

so Lucy is almost a year old. It's coming up in a few weeks. Today, in the car (D and I went for an "exciting Friday night outing" to Home Depot to buy kid-proof door latches! Are we hip, or what?) I was thinking about how far we've come in this year. Remembering back to when Lucy was just this little human blob that cried at the drop of a hat (and she was a happy baby) and then back to when she was just learning how to roll over, and then when she could push up to all fours, etc, etc, I realized something really astonishing:
I'm pretty glad all that is over.
I know, I know, call me a terrible mother, but I have to agree with Phyllis Tickle. I really hate babyhood. Love the baby, hate the behavior, is my new motto. There's a lot to like about Lucy--but almost all the things that really make me joyful to be a mom have happened within the last few months--with more joy just over the horizon, when she can walk, talk, and stop putting everything into her mouth.
It's not very misty-eyed or romantic or whatever, but I love her interested, curious, much more independent self. The first part was a little suffocating.
On reflection, I think my favorite part of being a mom is the wonderful cuddles. Not the passive newborn nestle, but the throwing her arms around my neck and leaning into me kind of cuddles that touch something very basic in my psyche. There's nothing like a baby hug. I told Dyami that I think the reason it's so special is that there's no asking for the hug, no making it happen--it just happens when Lucy decides it's time, and I'm the grateful recipient. She hugs me because she longs to, and not because of any coaxing on my part. And it's special, too, because it's fleeting--I can usually get a minute of good cuddle (she's a snuggle-muffin, really) but when she decides to stop, it's done. And, for now, anyway, it's special for me--she does it occasionally with Dyami, but so far, not with anyone else.
Of all the things I will miss about babyhood, I know that will top the list. Because I'm sure there will come a point where the hugs won't be spontaneous and so full-spirited on her part, though there will be different joys then.
So yes, I'm not a big babyhood fan, but there are parts of it that are pretty sweet.
Good night, all. I hope you get a baby hug sometime soon.

Thursday, August 9, 2007


So trying to live more greenly, I have been trying to cook more vegetarian dishes. (well, that and trying to buy organic meat is expensive!) Taste-wise, I love eating veggie stuff--I love tofu and beans just fine, and have a few handy recipes that Dyami likes too.
So what's the problem? I am such a carnivore that when I don't eat meat I'm hungry all the time. Even when I eat so many beans I'm stuffed.
Last week I went a little overboard with the veggie dishes and had a few days of veggie lunches and dinners. It doesn't help that since I'm avoiding nuts and soy, I didn't have a lot of quick snacks to get protein. After those days, I had some pork, and I just about broke open the bones to get at the marrow. Gosh, I was starving.
I've had other periods of my life where I ate less meat, and I don't remember getting this ravenous. It kind of worried me, actually, because I don't want to lose weight while nursing. Actually, I think the problem is the nursing--it consumes a lot of calories, so I think I'm more of a protein hog than I usually am (which is quite an accomplishment).
So those of you with more practice eating veggie, can you tell me if this is:
a) a normal transition to a vegetarian diet? I'd imagine you'd want meat a lot (like doing without sugar) but being hungry all the time, even when you're eating a ton?
b) a sign of a deficiency? I usually take a multivitamin, which I assume has B12, but I haven't checked. Would just a few days of beans do it?
c) just nursing making my body burn more calories than I could take in with legumes?
That week made me a little wary of my veggie dishes. I think I'll cut down on beef, eat chicken instead, rather than trying the vegan lifestyle, and call it a day.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007


So I'm reading a book called Garbage Land that's sort of a Fast Food Nation-esque review of where our garbage goes when we put it out by the curb.
Some highlights:
  • I'm kind of relieved that the author tried composting her kitchen scraps and didn't have much success. She went fishing for some rich loam at the bottom of her pile and found a mouse instead. Yikes! Since we have a tree rat problem around here, I will have to carefully consider whatever composting I do.
  • The section on plastics makes me want to never use anything plastic again. Sigh. The more I read about our society, the more I wonder how long we're going to last. Basically, plastic can be recycled, at best, once. And even that is toxic. Once you've recycled it then, it's only good for the landfill, where it leaches lovely carcinogens and poisons into our water. Sigh.
  • They're trying to put a new landfill east of here, and there's all this NIMBY activism to keep it away. I kind of thought NIMBYs weren't so civic minded, but after reading about landfills, I wouldn't want one in my backyard, either.
  • One note of hope: it seems we're not the only civilization that dealt with garbage badly. Highlights from Ye Olde trash collection: feral pigs roaming the streets for scraps! Stoops that served as havens from sludge! Manure-choked streets! Burying your trash in your house's floor, until eventually, you had to raise the roof!
Anyone have any other notes of hope? Anyone?

Sunday, August 5, 2007


Okay, I thought of something else to post.
I read this book called Organic Houskeeping and it was quite good, quite informative, and a little disturbing. (Two nuggets of info for ya: the kitchen sponge is the dirtiest item in your house! Dirtier than the toilet! Dishwashing it does no good! Also, plastic cutting boards trap bacteria on them! And also, diswashing/microwaving/handwashing does no good! Whereas wooden cutting boards actually kill bacteria!)
Needless to say I threw away my sponge and plastic cutting boards. I also implemented a fewother suggestions (to get away from bleaching my sink).
But as with any other Self Improvement/How To..../Change Your Life and Get Rich Quick Book I read, I started going off the deep end a little.
Started makes it sound like I have prevented this from happening.
See, the woman is really into composting. Worm composting, to be exact. And I'm really thinking about getting me some worms for my own private decay salad. 'Cause we throw away a lot of food waste that could be made into great compost! It's a large part of the waste stream! And we're getting all green anyway, so why not invest in invertabrates, too?
I have to be careful, because there are some notorious (though lovable) eccentrics in my family. We all have a tendancy to over-invest ourselves in New Projects. And Trying to Prove Something. Dyami's side is no better: no one except him actually has a job! And they live in a chicken coop to boot!
So I'm always a little worried that I'm really going to Fly off the Handle. And Overdo.
Except those worms! And that compost! And that greening effect!
I'm going to order a pamphlet. To start. And see where that leads.


It has been a long time since I've posted.
Not sure why...perhaps it's that I've been working on my thesis and another short story and that's about all the writing juice I've had in me? That's probably it.
I'm sorry, poor dear abandoned readers!
Here's the news for today:
Dyami is out in the car, trying to get Lucy to fall asleep for the night. She has never fallen asleep in the car before for bedtime (only for naps). However, I will be taking a class at SDSU this semester, and will be gone late and for a long time (I'll leave at 6:30, and probably get back after 9, best case scenario).
It's a little scary that I will be gone, and having alternate ways for her to fall asleep would really help.
Okay: the update. She's in the car, asleep. It's a little odd. She's not in her bed. And we're going to have to move her at some point. I don't think that will go over that well.

The thing about kids is that any time you do something new, you think, well, how's that possibly going to work? For example, when Lucy was taking three naps, I thought, well, how is she ever going to switch to two, when she can't even go two hours without napping? And then, one day, she couldn't fall asleep after two hours. It took three, and then four, and then, lo and behold, two naps.
Hopefully this is one of those new things that on the face of it seems like a really bad idea but might actually work. It kind of has to, since I already paid for classes and I really want to get this degree done. One class more!

I'm a little tired today, and I'm not being either pity or entertaining. I'm sorry, poor readers. I'm out of practice.
We're going to have to get back on the blog bandwagon.
All aboard.