Monday, May 29, 2006

We're Off

Well, we are all headed to Chicago. Zane's breathing seems okay, and we're just gonna go for it.

See you next weekend!

Sunday, May 28, 2006

We're going to Chicago?

Okay, quick post today as I’m feeling a little frantic and overwhelmed because we’re leaving for Chicago tomorrow, and I am WAY under prepared.

Somehow this trip just snuck up on me. Okay, it isn’t a “somehow”. I have been dreading this trip so I simply put it from my mind, is the more accurate explanation. I’m going to Chicago for a 5-day conference for work. Five days! Five days! I don’t think I could be interested in workshops about food, money, and sex for five days – and none of these topics will be covered at the conference.

Anyway, SRH and Zane are planning to accompany me, and they’ll take in all the sights of the city while I’m sitting in workshops. As I’m sure I’ve alluded to in past posts, making a trip with a kid who has life-threatening food allergies and severe asthma is not an easy task. In fact, we just tend to avoid taking trips, but this particular one could not be avoided.

I have been so busy planning “worst case scenario” lists for food and medicines that I happened to miss that we’re almost out of two of Zane’s maintenance medications. Good grief! There is no way to get them in time, so we’ll be skipping a few doses on the trip. Not many, but a few.

I’d like to say, in my defense, that I have been fighting off a bug since the end of the week, and it’s winning. I am full-on sick today, so my thinking hasn’t been quite so clear. (See here for SRH’s Licensed to Ill account of his battle with the bug).

Adding to the madness, Zane woke up coughing from his nap today – an ominous asthma sign in our house, and I’m now forced to consider the following two abysmal options:

  1. Go ahead with our plan of taking Z to Chicago – we’ve located the Children’s Hospital there and have plenty of “rescue” medications – and hope that things don’t progress.
  2. Leave SRH and Z home while I go to Chicago – with the idea that I wouldn’t stay for the whole five days.

As you might imagine, both of these options sound pretty crappy to me, but I’m trying to just wait and see whether Zane’s asthma symptoms look like they are going to escalate. We’re keeping our fingers crossed.

I am so in for Mother of the Year.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Good Habits are Hard to Break

One of my friends was told by her family that she was “inflicting” her values onto her children by raising them as vegetarian. Which brings up an interesting question: Isn’t all parenting really just about inflicting your values onto your children?

I mean, isn’t that the fun part? You get to tell little people what’s right and wrong and pray to god that they follow a little bit of what you said when you’re not around. Or pray to god that they follow a little bit of what you said without your standing there asking them to do it 18 million times. Or pray to god that they follow a little bit of what you said without your having to resort to begging and tears.

It seems to me that parenting is all about creating human beings who will make the world a better place – and that’s all about inflicting values, people.

So I began to look at some of Zane’s most recent interesting habits and share with you the values that I think they express.

Habit 1: Zane burps and says, Good Burp. After some prodding, he will say, Good Burp. Excuse Me.

This comes from the fact that when Zane was just a wee one, we – being parents of only one child who’s every coo, gurgle, or burp was adored – would say, Good Burp, Zaney. Let’s do it again. Now we insist that he say, Excuse Me, but we just can’t extinguish the Good Burp comment first. I figure if I get the Excuse Me in there, I’m not going to push it.

Value: It’s important to have good manners – after some self-congratulation.

Habit 2: Zane blows raspberries against the window and then wipes the spit off the window with his socks, shirt, or whatever other cloth object is available. He usually says, Zaney Cleaning. Mama Cleaning. after that.

This one seems to come directly from my over-the-top cleaning of our house right now. As you may recall, our house is on the market, and I’m a little obsessive about making sure that it shows well. This includes various and assorted odd tasks to be completed every time we leave the house.

Value: You must clean up the messes you make in life. Although most likely, your mom will come behind you with Windex to really clean up your mess.

Habit 3: This habit is best exemplified by a recent conversation that I had with Zane.

Me: I love you, Zane.

Zane: I love you, Mama.

(Pause while Zane looks at me expectantly).

Zane: How are you doing, Mama?

Me: I’m good, Zane. How are you?

Zane: I’m all right.

(This time the pause is accompanied by an I’ve-almost-got-her grin).

How this conversation ends is not really important.

Value: You must appreciate your family and consider their well-being at all times – especially if you are about to ask them for something.

So, I figure I’m about 50-50 in this inflicting values game of parenting. The value itself is good, but Zane’s self-interest is the motivation behind his following the value.

Before you child development experts go crazy out there, I am aware of Kohlberg’s Stages, and I know that Zane’s not at the age where his moral judgment should be governed by anything other than self-interest.

But it’s still kind of funny how transparent he is. No subtlety to that kid at all.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

I'm a loner, Dottie. A rebel.

There are things you know about yourself, and sometimes these realities are brought home to you in a dramatic way by a very trivial occurrence.

Yesterday I was sitting in my car outside of the yoga studio reading a book. Why read a book in the car outside of a yoga studio? Simple: I get home before Zane and SRH (by about 10 minutes). I snatch up some yoga clothes, and I try to leave the house before they get there. That way, we don’t have any of that Mama, mama, don’t leave me! stuff that two-year-olds are prone to do when they don’t want you to have even one small minute to yourself…

Uh…so I’m sitting outside the yoga studio reading a book in my car because the studio doesn’t open for another 15 minutes, but I had to leave my house – let’s call it Mama-Alone-Time. So during Mama-Alone-Time a group of yogis begins to gather around the front door as they wait for the studio to open. They’re chatting. They’re laughing. They’re looking at me in the car like, Aren’t you going to come out and socialize with us?


As I related to SRH later, I don’t go to yoga to make friends, and I hate to spend my few precious daily moments of Mama-Alone-Time on people that I don’t know. (Of course, one could argue that I could get to know them if I bothered to get my nose out of a book and join the conversation).

I’m not antisocial, exactly. I just really like being by myself.

While I think that liking to be alone is a very positive attribute, there are definite drawbacks. It can make me a distant friend. I have trouble keeping in touch with people that I do truly love, and I’m sure I close myself off from a whole group of experiences due to my desire to be alone. I do feel a bit of guilt about this personal characteristic, to be sure. SRH and I had the following conversation on my way home from yoga:

Me: It’s not that they’re not nice people, I just wanted to read.

SRH: That’s okay, honey. You don’t get much time for yourself. They probably didn’t even notice.

Me: That’s not true. They kept looking into the car with nice friendly, “come on out here you” looks and smiles. I pretended I didn’t see them. I am a terrible person.

SRH: It’s not like you didn’t want to spend time with them. You just wanted to spend time by yourself.

Me: No, that’s the thing. I didn’t want to spend time with them.

SRH: (silence)

In most folks, this would most likely be appalled silence, but for SRH it was probably amused silence.

Me: I mean, I did want to spend time with myself, but really, I didn’t want to hang out with them. I don’t think I like people. Even nice, friendly, on-the-path-to-oneness people.

SRH: That’s cool.

The best compliment I ever gave SRH was You know why I love you? Because being with you is like being by myself. And I meant it.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Spa Getaway

Yesterday, I got back from a “girls weekend” with three of my closest women-friends (These are your new handles, ladies. Deal with it):

  • Zingerzapper – Feisty and a very-good-reckless-driver, Zingerzapper is the friend who will tell it to you straight and always be there when you’ve messed up anyway. No one is more loyal, true, or sarcastic.
  • Elengant – About 7 feet tall with a gracious manner, Elengant immediately puts others at ease and is okay having the party at her house at a moment’s notice, because her house is always clean anyway. Folks just want to be around her.
  • Beauty Queen- Although she has perfect hair and brows at all times, Beauty Queen is not shallow and vain. She’s put together. (Remind me at some time to tell you about how I walked into her room while she was laboring with her first child to find her sleeping with a hair brush in her hand). She’s the friend you call if you want to know ANYTHING about parenting.

Between us, we have 6 children, 35 years of marriage, and lots of stories to tell about working in the salt mines of the Battered Women’s Movement.

Anyway, the weekend was delightful and full of laughter, storytelling, and bonding. It was fabulous. On the other hand, there were a few not-so-delightful moments, and I thought I’d share those, too.

DELIGHTFUL: A child- and husband-free weekend at the spa for four close girlfriends who have known each other for 7+ years.

UN-DELIGHTFUL: The impetus for the trip was the fact that Beauty Queen is leaving us to move to another state. This, even though, when I met her 8 years ago, she swore that I could get attached to her because they had no plans to move away. I specifically asked. She specifically said that they weren’t moving. Fast forward eight years, and now it’s all, We have to move for Jon’s job. It’s the best thing for our family. Blah, blah, blah.

DELIGHTFUL: I had a Body Rejuvenating Treatment, Aromatic Manicure, and Aromatic Pedicure back to back. It was a half day of pampering and indulgence. After our treatments, we sat by the pool in our robes and slippers, watched the water, and celebrity gossiped.

LESS-THAN-DELIGHTFUL: I had the same person for all three of my treatments. You know what they say, Jack of All Trades, Master of None. That would be an apt description. The stinky thing was that I knew that I was in the hands of an “inexpert” as soon as the massage started. My thought was, There are massage therapists, and there are people who have been taught how to do massage- badly. I got the latter.

So, my person-who-has-been-taught-how-to-do-massage started off with a face and head massage. Cool. Except that she used body massage oil all over my face. It was heavy. It was greasy. It was unpleasant. And I swear she used half the bottle just on my “prone to act oily” t-zone. It was like the lady was trying to make me break out. I just sat there thinking, Cripes, let’s back off on the oil, Splashy McGreasyFingers.

After my other treatments, I thought about getting a facial just to get rid of all the scum on my face, but I would have had the SAME person doing that, so I passed. I just scrubbed my face with the steaming towels once she left the room. However, when I woke up the next morning my chin resembled a lumpy potato it was so broken out.

DELIGHTFUL: Great food and fruity drinks with friends.

PATENTLY UN-DELIGHTFUL: We drove around for about an hour looking for a restaurant for dinner. I believe it was Elengant who said, Let’s just get in the car. We’ll find someplace. She may be smart and sophisticated, but the plan was flawed. In hindsight, packing four hungry women in a car and heading toward “the water” is not such a great plan, especially since one of the women is me – who is notoriously belligerent and mean when famished.

Also, when long-time friends get together, there is a certain amount of cruelty that reigns. For example, at one point someone said, Hey let’s look at Zany Mama’s debit card picture. That one always cracks me up! Zany Mama, you should put that picture on your blog. You have such a pea head in it. Much hilarity ensued. Yes, much hilarity.

There's lots of juicy stuff I could tell you from the weekend, but my favorite quote was, Zingerzapper close your robe!

Anyway, it was a fabulous weekend with fabulous women, and I’m glad to be back home.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

This and That

Bits and pieces to write about today. Nothing deserves a whole entry, but bear with me while I blab about the little things that happen in my daily life.


Apparently watermelon is a diuretic. Did you know that? I didn’t, until I ate 3 melons in 4 days, and I started going pee every five minutes. I just thought maybe I had a UTI coming on or somesuch, but there was none of that pesky pain that typically accompanies that condition. After about 2 days of non-stop trips to the loo, I remembered Hey, wasn’t there a watermelon diet in the 70’s? I bet watermelon is a diuretic. After a quick internet search, my suppositions were confirmed.

The problem is going to the bathroom really isn’t enough of a negative consequence to interrupt my gluttony. I mean, Zane did yell, Mama Potty, every single time I headed up the stairs, but it’s not like peeing really interrupted anything. Plus, it helped his vocabulary. I got him to say, Mama Potty Watermelon, several times.

Park Chats

Zane and I were at the park earlier in the week – who would believe this since I was sure we’d have to build an ark to survive all the rain we’ve been having – when another mama struck up a conversation with me. Which is no small feat – I am not exceptionally friendly at such mama-gathering places. I don’t mean to be UN-friendly, it’s just that I don’t really like gabbing with stranger (such a surprise that my career as a therapist was short-lived). Anyway, I’m talking to this woman and her friend, and I’m struck with the thought that Wow, this is where it gets really clear that I grew up in a trailer.

One of the women used to work for our local symphony, the other was an artist. Their kids had totally-cool-family-lineage-type names, and they mentioned family who were attorneys and doctors. This in contrast to my family: one of my grandfathers couldn’t get a job teaching because he was a Black man and so spent the rest of his life in a steel mill, and the other one was a dirt-poor farmer who worked for the county as a maintainer driver to augment his income. Both honest jobs that supported their families; but let’s be clear, there will be no inheritances coming my way anytime soon.

Anyway, both of the women were lovely, gracious, welcoming, and inclusive of me in their entire conversation. It was a delightful conversation with delightful women. Makes me think I should re-think some of my stereotypes about the upper classes. And I might want to consider talking to other mamas at the park.

Neighbor Drama

Our neighbor (let’s call him Stupid Neighbor), whose house is almost the exact same footprint as ours, went on the market approximately 7 weeks ago. Sure, I cursed his name and gnashed my teeth some, but I ultimately figured that his going on the market – at a very nice price – was a great opportunity for us to get about a month’s worth of information before we put our house on the market.

Forward to the day we put our house on the market. Super Realtor Traci says, I’ve got some bad news. Stupid Neighbor just reduced his price $10K.

Cripes, SRH and I exclaim. But we’re actually still okay with this because our house is nicer and so we’re still on target price-wise. (I mean, we had just told him that we were planning to go on the market, but this could all just be a coincidence, right?)

Forward again. Our realtor wants to hold an Open House this weekend - which is fine, so she puts out an Open Sunday sign out in our yard yesterday. Well, today I come home and Stupid Neighbor has an Open House sign outside his house. This from a man who hasn’t had an Open House in over 7 weeks of being on the market. I thought the price drop was unfortunate, but I believe the competing open houses is intentional.

So I call Super Realtor Traci and say something like, Okay Traci, should I slash the tires or just graffiti his house? I know I don’t believe in violence, but I’m feeling pretty un-neighborly here. I mean, would a flaming bag of dog poo be too adolescent-pranksterish to hurt his chances of selling or do I need to step up my tactics of intimidation and sabotage?

Super Realtor Traci talked me down and explained that open houses at the same time could actually be a good thing for us. So I probably won’t give him mean looks – you know, my ultimate weapon – every time I see him now. But I can’t promise not to teach Zane to say Stupid Neighbor every time he walks by.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Here's Your Bio

As part of my job, I’m running a program for female leaders. One of the things the group is doing is sharing their “bios”. Not their resumes or vitas, but rather a more fun bio that allows us to get to know each other better – in the grand tradition of Dewar’s profile ads (see here and here).

So I thought I’d post my profile – with a few additions. In green are the answers that I wrote up for my official bio, and the tan text is what I would say if my work filter was off.

HOME: an old house in Clintonville – Actually, this one would stay mostly the same. If I was feeling particularly sentimental, I might say home was wherever SRH and Zane were, but I’m not feeling particularly sentimental today. They’re both getting on my nerves.

AGE: 32 – For cripes sake, way too old to be cute. I’m totally digging the 30’s – I feel respectable but still full of possibility. Which probably isn’t true at all. Didn’t I hear somewhere that your prospects die as soon as you breed?

PROFESSION: advocate for women – this has taken many shapes over the years. Right now, I’m the Assistant Director of Agency XYZ. I won’t be here for long. This is an okay environment for now, but I’m a fish out of water, and I’m thinking about what’s next. Typically this would give me all sorts of anxiety, but I’m actually kind of excited about knowing that this job isn’t a forever thing.

HOBBY: Yoga, Reading, Writing, and Hiking – and well, duh, celebrity gossip. It’s not so much a hobby as a passion. A sick, sick passion. Also, I like to shop and decorate my house – both fairly shallow pastimes which nullify my anti-consumerism longings, but it’s where I am today. Also, I know some mamas would feel compelled to say that spending time with their children is their favorite hobby. For me, not so much a hobby as a responsibility. A joyous one, to be sure, but still not in the hobby genre.

LAST BOOK READ: Foxmask by Juliet Marillier – I’ll read anything by this woman. She is just a masterful storyteller. Really, that’s the last book I read. I have the feeling that people will really lie on this one to make themselves seem more learned than they are. I love to read, but I do not read great literature with any regularity. I rarely read things that are based in modern times – reading is an escape for me, I’m not bogging myself down with reality. That pretty much torpedoes my reading of any non-fiction as well.

LATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT: Starting to share my writing with other people. Starting this blog is my latest accomplishment. While I certainly couldn’t share this blog with folks I work with, I have rarely let others read anything that I’ve written – unless it’s a manual or report – so this was a HUGE step for me. I have to say that this writing “out loud” is agreeing with me.

WHY I DO WHAT I DO: I love being around women and working to end gender inequity. It’s my passion. My mother always had strong friendships with other women, and I find strength, humor, and endurance from being around the energy of other women. I could have put: working to end violence against women is my life’s calling, but since that isn’t what I’m paid to do right now, I decided that saying this would probably just alert someone to the fact that my current job is not, shall we say, the job of my dreams.

If I was completely honest, I would have put: I am passionate about engaging in the struggle to end sexism and other oppressions and want to help other people walk that road with me. Therefore, this hierarchical power structure that we’re all struggling to make it in, I say we burn the fucker down.

WHAT I WANT OUT OF LIFE: To have a happy and healthy family. To live fully and presently. To always stretch and grow. Blah, blah, blah. Really, I want a healthy child who grows up to be deliriously happy. I want to spend every day of the rest of my life with SRH. Oh, and I want to be independently wealthy.

QUOTE TO LIVE BY: Right now I’m really inspired by the following quote: If you hear a voice inside you saying, “You are not a painter”. Then by all means paint – and that voice will be silenced. - Vincent Van Gogh. Yep, that’s the one that’s working for me now.

HOW OTHERS SEE ME: Energetic, positive, knowledgeable, devoted to my family, and intense. I clearly don’t have a clue what other’s think of me (SRH had to clue me in to “intense”). Feel free to add other adjectives to the comments if you’d like.

ROLE MODEL AND WHY: My boss – she has so much integrity and such a “can do” attitude. She knows our environment – warts and all – and is committed to making it a better place for women. This – which is NOT brownnosing because my boss will never see the bios – is absolutely the truth. The woman is amazing – she’s brilliant, honest, and self-made. There are tons of others, but for work, right now, she’s the one.

PET PEEVE: People who chew with their mouths open – I know, I should just get over this one, but I don’t seem to be able to. Just close your mouth already! I swear, that one just kills me. Also, I hate mixed metals (gold and silver on the same piece of jewelry), more than one meat on a sandwich, and any clothing that is asymmetrical. Not that I’m crazy or anything…

PROFILE: Mother. Partner. Woman. Friend. Activist. I think that’s good for today.

“SCOTCH” (or, a must-have to get you through the work day): Some time alone in my car – to listen to loud music, tune in to NPR, or just be alone with my thoughts. Any time I can get alone in any location is always greatly appreciated. Today I think I got exactly 12.5 minutes alone in the car. It was bliss.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Mothers' Day

Although I tell her that I love her everyday, I rarely take the opportunity to tell my mom what a fabulous mother - and woman - she is. Well, today, being Mother's Day, I though I should take this very public forum to let the world know that I have one of the best mothers in the world. I truly do. I'm not blowing sunshine up anyone's behind here or angling for an inheritance. My mother is amazing.

So, what to say about the woman who raised me on her own, made me the center of her entire universe for many years, and to this day,
continues to take my phone calls about what to wear and what to say to intimidating people? This, the lady who taught me that friendships with other women are one of life’s great pleasures, and is, outside of SRH, one of the few people I can tolerate on a daily basis.

I feel moved to poetry.

I don’t like to brag,
And I don’t like to boast.
But my mother, Patty R., is better than most!
She had me at twenty,
When she had less than plenty,

And as mother and daughter, we are close.

Okay, that’s a little too Dr. Seuss-y for my taste. Poetry is out.

How about an open letter?

Dearest Mother,

You are the greatest mother ever. I so value your love and wisdom. I can only hope to be as good a mother to Zane as you were to me. Speaking of your parenting, how did you ever get me to go to sleep at night? No really, cause I’m struggling with Zane. He will NOT go to sleep. Doesn’t fight going to bed. Just won’t go to sleep. It’s infuriating – Scott and I are lying down with him for like an hour a night before he goes to sleep. I know you aren’t a proponent of the “cry it out” method, since the one time you tried it with me, I chewed up my crib and you had to come in to take all the splinters out of my mouth. What should I do? Am I ever going to have a life when I say, Good night Zane. Mama will see you in the morning?

Okay, see, the letter just becomes all about me and my needs. Very narcissistic. Not very Mother’s Day ode-like.

New plan. I’m going to interview my mom about some of her experiences as a mother and share her answers with the world. That way everyone else will get a moment with my wonderful mother – all this because she taught me to share when I was little. (Surprisingly enough, for a woman who can ramble on about flowers for days at a time, my mom was not all that loquacious with her answers, so I had to augment her words with my opinion thrown in at the end).

Question 1: How long did it take you to consider yourself a “real” mother, since you didn’t have a real labor? I mean you were in labor for like 2 hours, pushed twice and had a baby. What does that prepare you for?

Mom: I had a heck of a pregnancy. I DESERVED a good labor. Plus, don’t forget, I went so fast I got no painkillers at all.

(Mom is clearly going for the sympathy angle of I-was -20- and- pregnant-and-your-father- was-a-bastard. I’m not buying it.)

Question 2: What surprised you most about being a mother?

Mom: The instant love. How very instantaneous my love was for you. I knew I would love you, but I didn’t know it would be like that.

Me: And you still feel like that, don’t you? It’s true. I have this picture of you looking at me the day after Zane was born. You are looking at me like I’m the most precious thing in the world. You’ll never get over that will you?

Mom: Nope.

(While I totally get this now that I’m a parent, I still do the adolescent Stop Looking At Me! phrase when I catch her mother-gazing at me).

Question 3: What do you know now that you wish you had known then?

Mom: That having a kid that isn’t perfect isn’t a reflection of me as a parent.

Me: Huh, are you saying that I’m not perfect? I mean, I know I'm not perfect, but I didn't think you knew it.

Mom: I’m saying that if you weren’t perfectly dressed or your hair wasn’t perfectly combed or your face wasn’t perfectly clean, it didn’t mean that I wasn’t a good mother. I wanted you to be perfect at all times.

Me: So, you don’t believe I’m perfect? All that mother-gazing is a G.D. lie?

(This earns me a reproving look from my mother, who decides her best course of action is to be quiet at this point).

Question 4: What are you most proud of as a mom – and don’t say that crap about how you are so proud of how I turned out. You have to be, don’t you? I mean, if I didn’t turn out well, it’s kind of an indictment of your parenting.

Mom: I’m most proud that I have a daughter that is a very caring and loving person and a loving mother in her own right. I wish you were a little kinder to me, though…

(We laughed a lot about that last one. One of my favorite things about my
mom is her sense of humor).

So, there's a little bit of my mom. I thought you might like to hear a little bit from her. But don't get attached. You can't keep her. She's MY mom.

Happy Mother’s Day Mom! I adore you.

(Mom and I both give that mother-gaze to our boy, Zane, shortly after he was born).

Friday, May 12, 2006


So today’s blog will feature a looking-a-gift-horse-in-the-mouth-rant. Some of you may judge my sob story and say, Oh boo hoo. Suck it up, buttercup. I get called worse things every day before 8am.

But it’s my blog, and I can incessantly whine if I want to…

At work today, the other folks in my office (who I don’t actually work with, they just share office space with my unit) were out in the common area eating some of my birthday cake –which is fine. Even I can’t eat a whole cake by myself. I know I have a reputation for gluttony, but, really, even I won’t eat a whole delicious, white almond cake with white frosting on my own.

Anyway, as I come out of the office, my office mates thank me for the cake and say “happy birthday”. Great. Then as I’m walking away, I hear one of them saying to the group, She’s so cute.

What?! She’s so cute?! Huh?! How about you say, Sweet Mother of Mary that woman is brilliant! She’s so professional. She’s so competent. She’s so organized and knowledgeable.

How about you don’t say “She’s so cute” when the assistant vice provost for minority affairs is at the table, eating MY cake.

For goodness sake, I’m in my 30’s. I’m a professional. Sure, I’m friendly and positive. Some days I’m even a hard worker trying to prove herself in a new environment. I am NOT an intern playing dress up or even a young whippersnapper at her first job at a well-respected university. For good or ill, I am actually employed at said university with a fairly decent non-entry-level position.

I do not aspire to be cute in my professional life. In fact, I’m fairly certain that I’ve passed that up in my personal life as well. As you might recall, I’m going for sexy intellectual these days.

I imagine that part of the reason that I got the stupid “She’s so cute” comment is because I am a bit smaller than the average female bear. I’m not an pixie, an elf - my name would apparently be Seremela Calanor, a munchkin, a sprite, or any other assorted small person, but I am on the wrong side of short.

Let me give some examples to support my assertion that short = cute. My friend Ellen is at least 6 foot tall with long legs to die for. People call her elegant and sophisticated. My friend Tonia is probably around the same height and can be referenced as attractive and dignified. Lsig, also taller than me, is saucy and striking. I don't believe any of these women are considered "cute". However, my friends Brenda and Zinger Zapper – none of us top 5’ 2½ ” – well, we’re Keebler Elves of cute.

I know I’m being overly sensitive about something that was actually a compliment and well-intentioned, but there is a history to this “cute” thing in my professional life.

Scene 1: After a meeting with the board president of an agency that is sucking wind fast and about to go down the tubes, my supervisor and I get up to leave. I explain that I’ll be following up with him on our suggestions re: organizational development and am available to offer both board and staff training on various issues related to non-profit agency administration. Said board president looks at my boss and says, Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to come here to help us out. I really appreciate your expertise and thoughtfulness. This guy then puts his hands on my shoulders and says to me, Thanks to you too, Zany Mama. You just look so cute there all pregnant. Good luck with that baby.

Scenario 2: Soon after coming to my new job, I’m at my first meeting with the muckety mucks and a dean says, Okay, Zany Mama, did you get that in the minutes? Even though I’m at the head of the table without a notebook in my hand.

Scenario 3: (within 3 days of scenario 2) At a meeting where I’m taking over part of the administration duties for a particular scholarship fund, the fiscal person says, Oh, I’m sure Zany Mama will file these things for us. She then makes the statement several times, even after my boss corrects her in front of the group.

I’m sure the above incidents were a complex mix of racism, sexism, and she’s-cute-as-a-june-bug-ism. I probably wouldn’t even care except that I am trying to prove myself in the very hierarchical environment of academia when my background is social justice, and I don’t have a PhD.

Comments like, She’s so cute, don’t help my case.

I hate people -even well-meaning, complimentary people.

And, SRH, here's a warning, if you comment back with, But you're so cute, I will cut your heart out and eat it. How's that for cute?

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

A Very Good Day

Lest folks begin to believe that I am some whiny wench who only talks about my kid’s health problems and my weird obsessions and/or general looniness, I thought I’d actually share something positive.

I had a great day yesterday. That’s right, it's true. I had a great day yesterday. I’ll explain.

Yesterday, SRH slept in late - he usually leaves the house by 6am- and so was around for the morning ritual with Zane. Typically, the morning time with Z is usually one of my favorite parts of the day – he’s all soft and snuggly in the morning, and we have several rituals that are lots of fun and very sweet. However, sometimes it’s nice to have a little help in the A.M.

For example, SRH was able to help me with wrestling Zane to get his “breathy” done. He was able to hit “forward” on the DVD at the section when the old bridge falls out from under Duncan the Train, so that Zane doesn’t have to witness such a traumatic event. (In case you were wondering, I believe that it is Toby that pulls Duncan to safety). And best of all, I shave 40 minutes off my morning because then SRH takes Zane to childcare. It is beautiful!

At work, I actually went to a conference where really helpful information was given. No lie. I actually enjoyed the conference. I left with some great ideas and clear next steps. I know. I know. A conference I liked. Unbelievable.

Then, I got to leave work a little early. I mean, who goes back to work after a day-long conference is over? I believe that the folks who do are maybe a little obsessed. Or maybe they’re just more successful in their careers than I am. Hmmm…

I went to the library – ah bliss! Actually got to search for books without a little boy tearing them off the shelves or my saying “Shhh!” a million times.

Then I went to a great yoga class. While the class itself was very good, I believe that it was particularly enjoyable because as I was doing yoga, my in-laws were passing through town on their way down south. So instead of mother-in-law-hell, I was vinyasa-ing my way to a better me. A leaner and stronger me. A calmer me. A me of acceptance and integrity. A me that will not engage in bedtime struggles with my toddler.

Which leads to the one bad part of the day. The bedtime struggle with Zane that has become a nightly battle of frustration, crying, and gnashing of teeth. In hindsight, perhaps I should have eaten before putting him to bed. (I hadn’t eaten since noon). But also, perhaps, he should just go to bed when he’s supposed to!

Anyway, in an anorexia-induced rage I argued with Zane and SRH – all within 10 minutes. There is a saying in my family – Somebody get Zany Mama a cookie, she’s getting mean. I’d like to believe that I will outgrow this immaturity. That maybe this feed-me-cause-I’m-cranky affliction will go away on its own. That perhaps, I will move beyond it. Unfortunately, I’m beginning to think, at age 32, that it will be with me for the long term.

To wrap up, I finally ate. Baby went to sleep, and SRH and I made up.

So, except for that hour of low-blood-sugar-fueled-irrationality, it was a very good day.

Monday, May 08, 2006

On the Market

Everything is back to relative normalcy at our house. Zane is healthy and ornery, and the babysitter is out of the hospital and looking forward to watching him again this week. In-laws have come and gone.

Which leaves a poor blogger with the question: What can I blog about?

Luckily for me, a dear friend had the answer. She suggested that I blog about my weird obsessions. Actually, I believe she said something like, Zany Mama, you should blog about some of your weird obsessions. You know you’re really a freak about certain things, and I think you should share some of those things with the world.

Okay, maybe that’s not exactly what she said, but it IS what I heard. For a moment I was momentarily taken aback. I don’t believe that I have any weird obsessions, I spluttered.

Friend: Come on, Zany Mama, you won’t let SRH’s graham cracker box touch your food in the grocery cart because you think that somehow the graham-crackery cooties will befoul your food. (I recall her saying).

Me: That’s not weird. It’s looking out for my own healthy self-interest by defending my food from the disgusting madness that is the outside of a S’More. Those things are just gross. Gives me the willies jus thinking about them in my grocery cart. I maybe didn’t say that out loud. Maybe I said something more like – You think that’s weird?

Friend: That’s weird.

Well, I’m sure I could ramble on and on about my weird obsessions, but I’m actually a little pressed for time. Our house is going on the market tomorrow, and I have tons of cleaning – well, not cleaning more straightening so that it looks like I cleaned – to do.

But what occurred to me is that I do have some weird obsessions around showing our house. The following is a short list of “to dos” when showing a house that might qualify as a little obsessive, and, oh yeah, weird.

Febreze the bedroom. At no other time in my life do I believe that my bedroom has an odor. When the house is on the market, however, every time I walk into it, I think, Goodness, we stink. Like a pack of dead cats are hanging out in here. I better get the Febreze. Not only do I spray Febreze every morning before we leave the house, I have to re-Febreze if anyone walks into the room. I am partial to the Meadows and Rain scent.

No trash in the trash cans. No laundry in the hamper. I personally think that this one makes perfect sense. No one wants to see my trash, and dirty laundry makes people not want to live here. SRH, however, feels that trash should be cleared out if the particular trash can doesn’t have a cover. His logic goes something like, Zaney Mama, do you really think they’re lifting our trash can lid to see if there is something in there. Yes. If the hamper only has a few shirts in it, he’s fine with leaving them in there. Me, not so much. Therefore, every morning I lug around a trash bag with me as I move from room to room getting ready so that nothing is left for the nosy prospective home buyers to rifle through and judge me about.

Finally, all shades must be raised to allow for maximum daytime light. I think this augments the lightness and airiness of our home. It’s a 90-year old house – it needs all the lightness and brightness it can get. I have been known to yell up the stairs to SRH, Make sure the shades are up in Zane’s room and the office at least 5 times before I hear the satisfying zipper-like sound of the shades’ ascending. I actually breathe a sigh of relief when I hear that sound.

As you might guess, this house had better sell quickly, or I’m going to be a mess of obsessive anxiety, SRH will decide to divorce me, and Zane will have even more to talk about in therapy. Wish me luck.

Friday, May 05, 2006

This or That

I work at a university, so I am constantly reminded of my college days – oh look, the bars are already busy, well it is Thursday after 5pm. Or - I used to wear clothes that small – well, maybe not small. (I have ever been averse to showing a lot of midsection). Or - remember when I thought that “sleep deprivation” occurred during finals week.

Well, now I’m a parent, and I know about real sleep deprivation, wear clothes that are designed to cover and camouflage, and hardly ever drink on Thursday evenings. Come to think of it, I hardly drink at all. That’s what having kids will do to you.

But recently I have started to feel nostalgic for the carefree-ness of college life. You know, when your life is filled with decisions about studying vs. calling that cute guy, or studying vs. chatting with your friends. When the Financial Aid and Bursar’s Office is your biggest enemy and getting up for a 9am class seems like torture.

Now, my life is filled with hard decisions. And I don’t mean the hard decisions about balancing work and family or what discipline methods to use with my particular child. I’m talking about the smaller hard decisions that, at the time, I’m not sure I even knew I was making.

For example, when at the age of 28, I decided to have a baby; I never framed the decision as: Hot Body or Have Baby? But that, indeed, was the decision that was made. Oh sure, I can wear most of my pre-pregnancy clothes, but my body is different – and decidedly not hot. I will never again have a flat tummy, and I don’t think one’s hips become narrower a few years post-partum. At least mine haven’t. I’m not saying all this to get SRH to say “You’re still hot honey!” I do feel attractive and appreciated by SRH. I’m just saying that I actually thought, Nine months in, Nine months out and back to my old self. Just typing that makes me want to snort in derision at my former naiveté.

Another hard decision that we made early on was Orthodontics or Psychotherapy? At least we went into this one with eyes wide open, though. The pediatrician was clear about pacifiers. I believe she actually said, “Make your decision now – is he going to have braces (keeping the pacifier) or is he going to psychotherapy (taking it away)?” SRH and I decided that our kid was probably going to need braces anyway. We both had them. Just playing the odds there. What I didn’t count on was that our kid was going to probably need therapy as well. I mean, really, we’re his parents. We’re doing our best, but you can be sure we’re messing lots of things up daily. So to the orthodonture vs. psychotherapy question, we choose to answer a resounding YES to both!

The final decision has to do with the sleeping situation. I know, I know. I am not trying to stir up long held, deep seeded beliefs about the place of children while sleeping, but here was how the decision was for my family. The question was Co-Sleep or No Sleep? Zane’s food allergies started to manifest in earnest when he was 10 weeks old. The details are painful and, well, too detailed. Suffice it to say that for months we slept – or didn’t sleep – while managing allergy symptoms that tended to rise to crisis proportions between midnight and 5am. Then the asthma kicked in, and we started doing breathing treatments every 2-4 hours for days in a row.

Outcome: Big Z sleeps in our bed. It is all about survival, I tell you. I know that some folks have very strong feelings about co-sleeping – both for and against, but I have to tell you that, philosophies aside, we just find co-sleeping easier. I’m not waving the flag of I’m-a-more-nurturing-parenting-by-sleeping-with-my-child. My flag is more one of surrender, more of a well-this-is-an-okay-arrangement-for-now-at-least-we’re-sleeping kind of banner.

Sometimes I am amazed at how the little hard decisions add up: I wake up in bed next to my kid who’s sucking a pacifier and has his hand on my flabby tummy. But most days, I think we’re doing completely okay.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

No Fun Blog - Update

A quick update because it’s a terrible thing to announce that your kid who is prone to ER visits is sick and then not tell anyone what happened next.

Zane is still sick. Has an ear infection, so he’s cranky and feverish. Saw the doctor today who gave us a script and said his breathing is okay. So we’re on the 3-4 hour breathing treatment regime, but he really does seem to be doing just fine as far as that goes. (Cross my fingers, throw salt over my shoulder, knock on wood, and spit on the ground for luck).

Babysitter still in the hospital – severe dehydration, complicated by a chronic illness she has. She should also be completely fine soon; however her inconsiderate trip to the hospital via squad means that I haven’t worked for the past two days. Geez, she’s all about taking care of herself. Geez.

Anyway, I’m hoping to get in to work tomorrow. By hoping, I mean that I really need to get into work, not that I’m particularly looking forward to it.

In-laws were fairly innocuous this visit. We’ll see. They roll back through next week, and they hardly ever make it through two visits in a row without saying something upsetting.

Thanks for all the phone calls and well-wishes. I’ll be back to the regular old blogging soon.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

No Fun Blog

Well, I hate to say it. It’s my first “my-kid-is-sick-no-time-to-blog” post. Actually Wheezy McAsthma is now asleep for the evening – thank goodness – but still no time to post. He’s feeling sick and feverish and we’ve had to increase his rescue treatments, but it doesn’t look like dire circumstances right now. We’ve seen a lot worse.

So, to quickly summarize life in my world – work was crazy today, Zane is sick, Zane’s babysitter is going to the ER as I type, and my in-laws are coming to visit tomorrow. Bleck, bleck, holy (insert expletive here), and double bleck.