Monday, July 31, 2006

Fine, I'll Blog About It

Since several of the folks who read my blog also read SRH's blog, I thought I’d say something about the huge disparity in the content of our posts today. Now, don’t get me wrong, most days our blogs are nothing alike. We could be two strangers discussing barely parallel lives. You might never guess that we’ve been married almost nine years and share the wrangling of a little boy. But today in marked contrast to each other, SRH was all I’m worried about the health of my child, and I was all I’m a lot like Lionel Richie and Zane’s a materialistic troll of a child.

Which is fine – we’re our own people. We try to do our own thing. But I couldn’t help but wonder if some folks weren’t speculating on my level of denial and/or my maternal feelings – or lack of said feelings. To them, I offer this explanation: I wrote today’s post last night, and blogger was being wonky so I couldn’t publish it. Therefore, I hadn’t been to Zane’s doctor visit when I wrote it, and I decided to go ahead and publish it today.

For those of you, who don’t happen to read SRH’s blog, let me bring you up to speed on the doctor visit today.

It was a typical 3 year old well visit – height/weight, how’s he eating, how’s he sleeping type of visit. No shots, thank goodness.

But there were three things that bothered me about today’s visit:

Thing 1
Dr. M made the statement, You know, Zane’s on a massive amount of medicines right now. If there is anything we can do to keep him off oral steroids, even if that means increasing the inhaled steroids for a short amount of time, then we need to do that.

You know what? I know that Zane is on a lot of medication. After all, I’m the one who gives it to him everyday. And while my family lives with this fact daily, it is jarring to hear that your child on a massive amount of medication. It’s disheartening, and it’s somewhat scary.

Thing 2
Zane measured in the 40th percentile for height and the 25th for weight. Not too bad. He hasn’t lost a whole lot of ground since his last well visit. What’s bothersome is the fact that at one year old he was in the 70th percentile for height and the 50th for weight. He’s been pretty steadily declining since then.

And don’t get me wrong – I know that the massive amounts of medication he is on are growth inhibiting. I also know that once he’s off the medication – I can’t imagine when that will be! – he will catch up on the ground that he has lost, or so they say. But there is a piece of my mama heart that just aches and feels a whole lot of guilt about stopping nursing at 15 months. After all, his numbers were up there when he was nursing. But of course, he also wasn’t on all these medicines, but you can see where a mama could torture herself with doubts and insecurities.

Thing 3
Dr. M heard Zane’s heart murmur again today. He heard it for the first time last year and was quite unconcerned. He just said we’d check it again this year, but this year he took a little more time and decided that we need to take Zane to see a cardiologist.

Here’s the thing, I completely believe and trust the doctor when he says that the murmur is probably nothing at all, and we’re just getting confirmation that it’s nothing to worry about. After all, I have a heart murmur, and it has never given me even a minute of trouble.

Here are the other things that are floating around in my mama heart and head about it, though: My father has congestive heart failure. His brother died on a waiting list for a heart transplant. His sister died of some heart/kidney failure thing. His father died after his second heart attack, and his mother died when her heart gave out while she was sleeping one night. That’s quite a family history of heart problems.

It’s that family history that is making me fearful, even when I have been reassured by the doctor that Zane is probably completely okay.

So, I left the doctor’s visit today feeling pretty overwhelmed. Well, overwhelmed and scared, but I’m trying not to borrow trouble by worrying about something that I don’t have all the information about right now. We’ll see the cardiologist – not sure when - and take it from there.

But it’s on my mind. Every second, pretty much.

Bribery and Other Failed Parenting Techniques

I have discussed my appreciation for Mr. Lionel Richie – he of the “Can’t Slow Down Fame” - and the strange ways that our lives seem to parallel in a previous post (here). In my ongoing chronicle of inexplicable parallels between our lives, there is yet another chapter.

Recently, I read this story, discussing rumors that the man who lulled us with the smooth tunes of “Penny Lover” has apparently promised his waif-thin daughter, Nicole, a Caribbean yacht cruise if she will put on some weight.

I will admit that, at first, I felt a bit judgmental about all this. I mean, how is that going to make the child eat? Wouldn’t sending her to a specialist - a very expensive specialist that only mega superstars such as Lionel can clearly afford - be a better option?

And then, after a minute, I understood the desperation of such an offer. I’m sure the family has been exploring conventional routes – i.e. doctors, therapists, etc. - for quite some time. I suppose if I thought that a trip to Sesame Place would cure Zane’s asthma and food allergies, I’d be all about it – and I wouldn’t care what the doctors said.

Zane last year at Sesame Place – unfortunately, the trip didn’t help his asthma and allergies.

And then, after another minute, I realized that I am engaging in the exact same bribery-for-their-own-good type of behavior. Except, it’s not a cruise to the Caribbean to force the ingestion of food. No, at our house, it’s the giving of “potty prizes” for the excretion of pee-pee and poo-poo.

In attempting to get Zane potty-trained before he has to go to preschool this fall - since it’s a condition of entrance – I spoke to my wise friend BQ. She related the potty training method which has worked for both she and our good friend, Elengant. It involves a three-day long stint at home with your child naked from the waist down. Every 15 minutes you put sweet child on the potty and read them a story– if they don’t go potty, that’s okay. They get up and play for 15 more minutes. If they do go potty, they get a prize.

I’m not talking about a new tricycle kind of prize. I mean a gift of the dollar store variety. For example, here’s a pic of Zane with one of his potty prizes.

I got it at Target for 99 cents

BQ assured me that her daughter totally didn’t care about the prizes by Day 2 of the regime. It was just a way to get her started with the idea that going on the potty was a good thing. Well, apparently Z is of a more consumerist mindset. He likes his potty prizes, and he will make himself tinkle on the potty every 5 minutes to get one.

The problem is that getting a prize seems to be Zane’s only motivation at this point. He will jump on the potty in a minute if the slightest urge to pee hits him – so that he can get a prize, but he doesn’t care one bit if he wets himself in public. After all, he knows he’s not getting a prize in the middle of the grocery story, so why put forth the effort?

Z with one potty prize in his hand and his foot touching another

It was all getting a bit ridiculous, so we – my bank account and I - put our foot down. Friday was the last time Zane got a potty prize. From now on, he has to potty because it’s the big boy thing to do not because he gets a present.

It’s working – sort of.

But the whole experience has brought me around to a greater understanding of how bribery may – or may not – be effective.

So, my hats off to you Mr. Richie. I don’t think your strategy will work, but I understand: We’d do anything to get our children to take proper care of themselves. You do it with yacht trips. I did it with potty prizes, but we’re both speaking the same language.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Making Animal Noises in a Public Place

I feel that I should begin this post by saying that I am not a novice yogi. I may not be an advanced practitioner, but I am not a beginner. (For an overly detailed description of just how long I’ve been doing yoga and the strange reason that I’m compelled to grab my crotch in public, please see this post).

And while I am primarily practice ashtanga yoga or other vinyasa-based systems, I am absolutely open to new styles of yoga. Hence, I have done anusara yoga and yin yoga as well as more generic hatha yoga classes. (I’d also like to aspire to karmic yoga in my everyday life, but really I’ve got a long way to go…)

Anyway, I do this long introduction to over-explain that I walked into a new yoga class this week with a completely open mind. Really, and truly. I was totally up for it.

The first sign of trouble came when another woman – let’s call her Thong-Wearing Yogi - said to the teacher, Do we just use our mats like typical?

To explain, this is a new class for my studio so we were all a little unsure of what to expect. The teacher looked at her like a frightened rabbit and said, Um, sure…but you don’t really need a mat for this class.

Huh? I’ve never actually done a yoga class without a mat. Plus geez, I just paid $80 for a new one, at least let me use it. Anyhow, I was a little surprised, but Thong-Wearing-Yogi looked like she’d just been asked to change one of Zane’s diapers when he had rotovirus – in short, horrified.

But, okay. Whatever. I can go with the flow. I’m easy like Sunday morning.

The class starts, and it’s a little different – for example, the teacher and her mentor were both clothed all in white, with accompanying head covering – but that's okay by me. They didn’t tell me that I had to wear white or cover my head, so live and let live.

And then, and here I just want to reiterate that I am not yoga-phobic, it started to get bizarre.

Bizarre Posture #1
(This will be the only posture that comes accompanied by a picture because the rest are just too humiliating.)

I’m not sure of the name of this pose, but the teacher called it the “ego buster” – which just tells me that some psycho who was torturing his step-kids came up with it – and we had to hold this pose for two full minutes while doing a strange kind of breathing which shook our whole body.

Yep, two full minutes of holding our arms up at a 60-degree angle while clenching our fingers into the pads of our hands and pumping our guts in and out as hard and fast as we could. (Go ahead and try it. It’s completely doable; you’ll just wonder why you did it.)

Bizarre Posture #2
No picture here, so you’ll just have to do it along with my description to get the full impact.

Okay, stand up straight. Now bend over and grab your ankles. If you can’t grab your ankles, grab someplace along your shins or knees. Now, without releasing your ankles, walk around the room in as big of circles as you can. Don’t stop. Do this for three straight minutes. Don’t stop!

It was at this point that I started to think that SRH had called the yoga studio and set up an elaborate prank and that he was in a closet somewhere videotaping me. At least, that’s what I hoped was happening because I could find no other reasonable explanation for this foolishness.

Bizarre Posture #3
This wasn’t so much a posture as an exercise in just-how-far-will
-you-go-for-a-new-experience-Zany-Mama type of thing?

Okay, I’ll just say it: We started roaring like lions. Not so much lion’s pose – a cleansing exhalation of breath that is accompanied by a vocalization – but rather, we just roared like idiots…er…lions. Yep, just like I do with Zane everyday when we make animal sounds, well, except that I did it for three minutes straight with a room full of other adults.

And when it was finally over and I was almost out of there, they had a “special” yogi tea made for us.
At this point, I just went with it. I don’t particularly like tea, and I really just wanted to beat feet to get home, but I figured in for a penny, in for a pound.

So, I drank a cup of soymilk flavored with cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and pepper. Yes, indeed, it was as dreadful as it sounds – the whole experience.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Better Than the Alternative

On the night before Zane’s birthday, I was really overcome with feelings of sadness. I should have known these feelings were coming because, for some reason, I had been actively avoiding the subject of Zane’s upcoming birthday – didn’t want to buy gifts, didn’t want to plan the birthday “playdates” we’re having instead of one big party, didn’t want to help my mom plan the birthday dinner – all of which is quite uncharacteristic of me. (My basic nature being both planful and celebratory).

I have typically looked forward to each milestone, anniversary, and new skill and have felt so excited for Zane when we got there. In fact before this birthday, I may have even felt the tiniest bit of disdain for mamas who felt sad as their children grew up. My reasoning went something like, That’s our job – to nurture and raise them to be big people, so we should feel happy with each new step they take. It means we’ve done our job well.

So, I was in for quite a shock when all I could do was cry on this birthday eve after we put Zane to bed. SRH went to bed, and I woke him up by crawling into his arms and depositing big tears and snot balls all over his shirt.

SRH: What’s the matter?

Me: I just feel so sad. I mean, I’m happy that he’s becoming a big boy, but I just love him so much just the way he is right now.

SRH: He is good stuff.

Me: I know, but I loved 2 years old. Why does he have to be three?

SRH: (Pause). Because it’s better than the alternative.

Me: I know. I am happy. I’m just sad, too.

SRH: (Longer pause). So, you’re sad and happy both? Does that make you sappy?

Indeed it does.

*Editor’s Note: This is officially the end of the whole sentimental-about-my-kid-growing-up thing that I’ve had going on in my last two posts. I’m over it. Next post is going to be clever and witty and may change the face of the blogging universe as we know. I’m sure of it.

Monday, July 24, 2006

A Letter to Zane on His Third Birthday

My dearest boy,

I took a lot of time thinking about what to say to you in this birthday letter. In some ways I’d like to update you on what’s happening for you right now – your favorite foods, potty training, and new things you are doing every day. But I have decided that that particular kind of letter, while it would be fun to write and let you know some interesting things about yourself, is not really what I need you to know on this day – the anniversary of your birth three years ago.

Instead, I will tell something of the profound feelings you have brought into our lives over the past three years.

It took a while for your papa and me to really believe that you were being entrusted to our care. How could we be responsible for something so precious? It probably took me a full year before I stopped feeling like a fraud when I referred to myself as your mama. I think this is typical of new parents because all babies are wonderful and deserve so much love and affection, and no one is prepared for the amount of feeling they have for their new little one. You just happened to be our baby, and we are still overwhelmed with gratitude that you came into our lives.

I know it is with a mother’s love that I describe you, but I do believe that you are one of the sweetest children ever. You are kind and gentle – and funny. You make me laugh every day at your silliness, your wildness, and your quirkiness. And that smile…just lights up your face – a face which, most of the day, is calm and serious.

My favorite thing in the world – still - is to curl up with you asleep in my arms, with my chin resting on your head. Now you are such a big boy that your knees poke into my stomach, and the breath that brushes across my chest is no longer always sweet, but you still fit “just so” into my arms. During those moments, I try to stop and breathe in the scent of your hair and remember what your little bird bones feel like wrapped in my arms. I know you won’t tolerate this from me forever and soon you’ll be too big.

I love the feeling of your soft little hands in mine, and the way you intertwine your fingers with mine when you are trying to get extra comfort from me. I watch you learning new concepts and words, and it’s hard to believe that you are such a big boy – saying the alphabet, counting to 15, and naming every part of a train.

I love how you run and jump and play. You play so hard, Zane. You laugh and spin and giggle with every single bit of your being. You wear me out. You wear other kids out. It makes me proud to watch you learn the terrific feats that a body, without a heart full of fear, can perform.

And you are a singer. You sing at the top of your lungs with your whole heart. Your high little voice sings just because you’re happy. And that makes me happy. Happy and proud of your freedom to shout out the feelings even if you don’t know the words.

But most of the time you do know the words, because you are so smart - a genius, perhaps. At the very least, I believe that most unbiased witnesses would call you brilliant. I don’t even begin to wonder what you will be when you are older because I know that your potential is limitless, and I know that I would dream too small for you.

At some point, you will be aware that I gave up a job which made my heart sing when your health problems became overwhelming and you needed me at home more. I never want you to feel guilty about that for even a second, because the truth is, from the moment you were born, my heart began to sing a different tune. Working at a job I was passionate about became a nice accompaniment to my song, but you became the tune, the harmony, and the high notes. I have not regretted my decision to change career paths and be with you more. Not even once. Not even in my most doubtful moments have I second guessed my decision to make sure you got what you needed. It was absolutely the right decision for all of us.

So, please do not feel any pressure or guilt from this decision that I made. I know that the rhythm of you in my life will ebb and flow as you grow and change, and I am looking forward to seeing where your song and mine will intersect and diverge as you grow up.

Someday you will understand why toward the end of the summer my chest begins to tighten with anxiety as I anticipate September through March – the months that are hardest for you in terms of your health – and perhaps you will forgive your crazy mama her sometimes over-protectiveness. I had no idea I could feel this ferocious about protecting you. I had no idea I could fight this hard to make sure you are okay. I had no idea that all of this would come as naturally to me as breathing – loving you as I do.

I have said to your father that he is my heart’s joy, and that is true. What is also true is that my capacity for joy increased exponentially when you came into our lives.

You are my heart and soul. You are my child, and you are the very best of me.

I love you.


Saturday, July 22, 2006

A Thought During Z's Bedtime Ritual

So I don’t really know what those crunchy things are that are given out as an appetizer at some Chinese restaurants, but it came to me this evening that I might be willing to trade Zane in for a lifetime supply of their crunchy goodness.

I know. I know what you’re thinking: But what would Crunchy Thing Company want with an almost-three year old with severe asthma who is most likely unable to eat any of their products due to his numerous food allergies? Good point, gentle reader, but I am not really concerned with their interests here.

For me, trading in my firstborn might be a reasonable exchange for crunchy things for life.

BUT OF COURSE, I’m kidding. I jest. I joke.

They’d have to throw in a lifetime supply of duck sauce for me to even consider parting with my potty-training preschooler.

Friday, July 21, 2006

It's Just Like a Puzzle!

I’m not one to wax eloquent about my hatred of things mundane and neurotic – I’m looking at you, SRH – but recently one of my hatreds has been so in my face all day every day when I go to work, that I must tell of it and hope you won’t think less of me.

I’m not referring to my hatred of all things cheesy or my hatred of asymmetrical clothing - but good gracious does a shirt with just one spaghetti strap honk me off. No, every day for at least the last three weeks at work, I have had to deal with perhaps my most serious nemesis…numbers.

I hate numbers/math/data with my whole heart and soul. I don’t hate them in the stereotypical way that women are supposed to hate math, you know the "I can’t do numbers. I’m leaving it to the big, strong mens to figure out" kind of way. No I CAN do numbers. I just hate every single second of any time I spend doing a math or number-related activity.

When I decided that I didn’t want to be a therapist anymore, I went to see a career coach who had me take some a fabulous self-inventory which assessed my interests, style, blah, blah, blah. The instrument indicated that the very worst profession for me to be in was law enforcement – no surprise there, I am a bit of a softy. I cried when Sister Mary Robert finally found her “voice” in the Sister Act movie.

The other profession way down on the list for me – at only 1 point higher than being a cop – was being an accountant.

Interestingly enough, my mother is an accountant. The chick digs numbers. She actually said to me once when I was complaining about math homework in high school, Don’t you just feel so good when you find the right answer to a math problem? I mean, it’s like solving a puzzle. If you work at it, you’ll come up with the right answer.

Uh, yeah. She said that. I’m sure I scowled my best adolescent sneer and said something like, Well, golly gee, that’s a nice way to look at it, but you just have to turn around and do another stupid problem. When you’re done solving your “puzzle” Suzy Sunshine, there is always another one left to do.

Anyway, back to the current hatred-inducing situation. My office is responsible for putting out a type of status report on what’s happening for women at the university. It’s completely data driven, and since there are only 2.1 people employed in my office (I’d give you the math on how that’s possible, but, well, I hate math), I have to do a lot of the number-crunching and interpreting data needed to pull together my pieces of the report.

Yeeaahh. I totally suck at that. Not only do I suck at it, but it brings up quite uncomfortable feelings of insecurity and fear of failure, since I seem to be the only person who is aware of just how badly I stink at the whole numbers thing.

So every day for the past three weeks, I have been working with this number stuff and talking with a wonderfully generous man over in the office which gives me the raw data.

Me: So, what does the number 4 represent?

Him: It means you have four of one object, more than 3 and less than 5.

Me: So what does 5 mean, then?

Him: It means you have five of a certain object. Let me pull up the chart you’re looking at and we’ll go over it together so I can explain it to you better.

Me: You are a god among men.

It’s true. I was saved in this project by the kindness of one benevolent soul in IT who gets numbers and took pity on a poor, ill-equipped, math-illiterate social worker who somehow got a job which requires analyzing data and trends affecting women in higher education.

The good news is that it’s all over. I turned in my pieces of the report today, and I can say goodbye to looking at those data sets for another year. Yippee!

So imagine my surprise and chagrin when, at a meeting today, I heard these foul words leave my mouth, Well, I think we can’t go forward until we know what the data shows us. It seems to me that we need to do some analysis of the numbers and then we can credibly formulate an action plan.

Oh, sweet gerber baby, I have gone over to the dark side.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

My Life in Verse

I feel like I have left a lot of threads hanging recently on this oh-so-exciting blog, for example – where are SRH and I going on our first vacation without Zane? Is potty training really the wave of the future in my house or will I be changing diapers for the next 15 years? What have I gorged myself silly on this week? Have I sent any hate mail to the yoga teacher who messed up my back? What’s been going on at work lately?

So today, I will tie up some of these threads in the ever-elegant verse of the haiku.* (Thanks to Dustin for giving me this idea from his last post).


Must go cheap and close
Traverse City, Michigan
Place of child-free bliss

Potty Training

Hear his little voice
I tinkle potty, mama
He’s not quite there yet.

Sausage Serenade

I do love sausage
Though it makes my belly hurt
Twelve is too many.

My Back Still Hurts

Stupid yoga class
Back ache and bad attitude
Now ibuprofen


Big meeting today
Lunch with the Muckety-Mucks
Outcome is not known

*Editor’s note: My humble apologies for my treatment of this beautiful art form. I’m pretty sure this isn’t what the Japanese masters had in mind.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Oh Where to Go, Where to Go?

I find it interesting that depending on whom a person knows better – me or SRH – completely colors their perspective on our relationship.

For example, for many years I have had female friends and acquaintances who adore SRH. They think he’s witty, intelligent and hunky - especially ZingerZapper who just cannot seem to keep her dirty mind away from thoughts of him. These friends and acquaintances also think that SRH has the patience of Job. After all, I’m a cheese-a-phobe. I’m persnickety and overly particular. I hate asymmetry – especially in clothes, and I have weak forearms. And then, should they come to doubt their viewpoint, they can read my previous post and reassure themselves that poor SRH is forever at my mercy.

Overall, my friends think that SRH did the world a favor by taking one of their peculiarly high-maintenance friends off the dating market.

SRH’s friends, on the other hand, tell him regularly that he “married up”. According to SRH they think I’m “cute” – aaarrrgh with that word again - sweet, smarter than he is, and funny. They think I am the one with patience. After all, SRH has a pervasive philosophy that he calls “economy of motion” (i.e. laziness) in all areas of his life. He has a deep and abiding fear of change, and he comes with a crazy family. In their minds, I took one for the team when I said “yes” to SRH and agreed to make sure he never pestered another woman with his affections for the rest of his days.

The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. We’re both deeply goofy human beings who were lucky to find a partner whose imperfections complement each other.

So lately, I’ve been missing SRH in a we-live-together -but-we-are-busy-
working-and-raising-a-toddler kind of way. I see him everyday. We email throughout the days at work, and we do get more together time than many other parents of young children since my mom lives so close to us, but recently it hasn’t felt like enough. I’m not complaining – okay maybe I am a smidge – but SRH and I rarely get to spend more than a 4-hour chunk alone without Zane, and we’ve never had an overnight for just the two of us since he’s been born.

That sounds really ridiculous when I type it out: Zane will be three next week, and he’s never had a night without at least one parent in the house. Occasionally, I’ll have to travel for work, or SRH will, but we’ve never both been gone at the same time.

For our 5th anniversary, SRH and I did a trip to London which was spectacular, and we haven’t traveled alone together since then.

Well, the time has come. In fact, it’s long overdue.

I need at least two consecutive nights without having to do the bedtime ritual. I need at least two days where I am not thinking about the peanut content or cross-contamination in any meal I eat. I need 48 hours where I haven’t checked Zane’s breathing to see if it’s audible and/or taking effort. I need to take a shower where I am not at all concerned about how long it is taking me.

So, I have begged and cajoled, schemed and planned, and SRH has finally agreed that we should take a small vacation – alone, just the two of us - in August. Because, believe it or not, he’s more reluctant to leave Big Z than I am. I’m sure that this is counter to all the “mama instinct” crap that permeates popular culture, but the truth is I’m just more sure than Zane will be completely okay without us.

We’re going for it. We are deciding on a place tonight, and I’m booking it tomorrow. It won’t be London, but it will be some time alone with my very best friend in the world. Thank goodness!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

The Things We Do For Love

Hello friends, it’s me Cranky. That’s right – I got a case of the cranks today, and I’m not afraid to post about it. (Actually, I do feel a little bad subjecting you to the bad moodiness that is me right now, but since I promised myself I’d post today and being grouchy is what’s on my mind, there you have it. I will at least try to spare you the whininess. But really, I can’t promise even that).

To get a few things out of the way – I am not upset, despairing, or in a general state of depression. I’m just irritable - and most likely irritating - but there are no major things wrong in my life.

Zane is healthy. SRH and I both have jobs that are relatively stable. We have a roof over our heads, and none of our friends or family is in crisis right now – that we’re aware of.

In general, things are pretty good around here. So why the cranky?, you say.

Well, thanks for asking.

I think it’s because I really started the day out all wrong. My mom took Zane to the zoo (Ducks! Geese!), and SRH stayed in bed all morning as he didn’t feel well. So, I had about 20 minutes before my yoga class to spend time ALONE *sigh* and read a novel.

While reading, I had the thought, Oh my gosh. When does this ever happen? I’m alone. No child. No husband. Nobody wanting anything from me. I should just sit here for the next hour or so and read.

But then I thought, Come on Zany Mama. You only do yoga two days a week, and this is one of your days. You’re never going to get rid of that junk in your trunk if you don’t have a little discipline. And since you are very antisocial at yoga, it’s still really alone time. Get moving, lady.

And so I grabbed my yoga mat and stepped out the door to Crabby Town.

I will spare you an overly-detailed description of my day, but here are the highlights.

Today my yoga class focused on back bending. (Insert expletive
here, preferably the one that begins with “f”). Not so good for
someone with a back injury (see here). So now my back is killing
me. I have been taking ibuprofen and sitting on the heating pad
as much as possible today in a vain attempt to ease the pain. But
my main point is that it doesn’t bode well for the rest of the day
when you leave your morning yoga class hurting and pissed off.

Also, in case you were curious, spunky toddlers could really care less about how your back feels. Oh, I suppose they care in their little narcissistic pick-me-up-anyway-mama kind of way, but really, that isn’t very helpful.

Potty Training Day 1 was not a complete failure, but we certainly can’t call it a success. (More on this later. I’m sure it will all seem funny on another day).

Since SRH and I have neglected to go to the grocery store this week and I am determined not to spend all our money on eating out, I had plain pasta for dinner. Plain pasta with butter and salt on it. Crud. What am I – in college? Next, I’ll be eating ramen noodles as a snack.

After being gone for about a week, Zane’s face rash is back with a vengeance. The poor kid is looking rough - and I’m still no closer to figuring out what is causing the stupid thing. Lots of mama guilt there.

So as you see, these are not major problems, just really annoying mosquito-bite-like irritations. I’m sure I’ll be better tomorrow.

But in the meantime, I’m going to do what most people do when they’ve had a bad day: I’m going to take it out on my partner.

I am about to go to the video store. There, I’m going to rent a movie which has the line, “Great date movie!” somewhere on the packaging. I’m going to make SRH sit down with me and watch the entire movie while we cuddle. I’m going to make a huge batch of popcorn, because apparently, popcorn – as opposed to pasta – is good with just butter and salt on it. And while I will insist on snuggling throughout the movie, I do not plan to put out afterward.

Yep, that should just about do it.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Unexpected Gathering

It is part of human nature to try to figure things out, so I try not to be too disconcerted when I get the dreaded, What are you? question.

I know, I know. I could answer, I’m human. What are you? or Well, my mom was hoping for a kitten, but I came out a person, so there you go. But really, I know what they’re asking, and they know what they’re asking, and I have found that being snide doesn’t make either one of us feel any better, so I typically do my best to make a gracious response while gently challenging their right to ask.

Them: What are you?

Me: Well, if you are speaking about what race I am, I am Black/White Biracial. What makes you ask?

Them: I don’t know. I just wondered what you were.

(Typically, they start to look a little sheepish at this point. Well, unless I’m in the Deep South, then they just peer at me a little closer and ask, “So was your mom white and your dad black?) Yep.

Me: Hmmm…well, that’s it. No big story here.

(Then I try to move the conversation on to other things, or I just keep walking down the grocery aisle).

This conversation in no way upsets me.
Most of the time it makes me smile a little bit. I have been asked What are you? in some way, shape, or form many times for a lot of years. I have been spoken to in languages other than English when someone mistakes my identity and have been given extra courteous treatment at particular restaurants before people figure out that I’m not quite what they think I am.

Perhaps the only thing that causes me a bit of angst is the use of the term “mixed”. I find this particular term quite annoying. I tend to think of it as a similar characterization as oreo or twist cone – not hateful, but not especially humanizing, either. (For purposes of fairness and full disclosure, many multiracial people have no trouble with the term “mixed” at all).

Please, please do not read the above and begin to believe in the myth of the tragic mulatto – you know the tortured soul, who doesn’t fit in with either group and would have been better off not being born. I am really firm and happy in my identity, and I was really pleased when the last census forms allowed me to check every single category that I belong to.

And more recently, I had a really fabulous experience as a biracial woman. Oh sure, it came during the dreaded trip to Chicago, but it was still a stellar experience.

Me and Zane in Chicago – Breathing Treatment #764

While at a conference, I decided to go to a workshop entitled, “Straight Talk About Multi-Racial People”, which was described as a space to come together to talk about the concerns and needs of multiracial people in higher education.

Anyway, I walked into the workshop to find a room full of multiracial people – an experience I have never had in my entire life. I cannot tell you how singularly cool this was for me. I was in a room of people like me – a veritable Benetton ad of multiracialism. A plethora of folks who were not “either/or” but were “both/and”. It was totally, completely delightful.

We talked. We laughed. We disagreed. We laughed some more. We shared our experiences, and we nodded as each person told pieces of their story. It was so flippin’ beautiful I can’t describe it. It made me feel great. It made me feel so excited for my son and what his experience as a biracial person will be, and it made my god-awful trip to Chicago bearable.

And what do you know, but as the session was nearing its end, the workshop facilitator happens to say as an aside, “…well, I don’t care for that term, mixed, so I don’t use it, but I understand that it is okay with some people…”

I thought I might die of validation nirvana.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Peeling the Onion

There are things you discover about your partner about 10 years in that make you wonder what else you missed. This happened for me last year, when SRH disclosed that he doesn’t like strawberry ice cream. Really, I don’t mind that he doesn’t like strawberry ice cream – I don’t like it either. The upsetting part is that after 10 years together, I had no clue that he didn’t like strawberry ice cream. This just seems totally bizarre to me.

After all, we have, for the entirety of our married life, lived within two blocks of a Dairy Queen. Part of that was providence – we have moved three times all within the same 2 blocks, and part of it is my insane love for the Peanut Buster Parfait. And while I know that Dairy Queen doesn’t have strawberry ice cream – at least not in soft serve which is all that really matters - you would think that his dislike of strawberry ice cream would have come up at some point in the thousands of ice cream conversations we have had in our marriage.

Anyway, we worked through the whole “I don’t even know you” aspect of this revelation and have proceeded from there. But really, more unsavory revelations were bound to come up at some point. That point was yesterday. And this time the revelation was about me.

We were all sitting at Taco Bell – I know. I know. Not good food, but one of the three restaurants that Zane can eat out at, so there you have it. – when SRH brought the food to our table. (I had gone to get drinks with Zane, so I didn’t hear what SRH ordered).

Then the following conversation occurs:

Me: So, what did you get? Is that a chicken soft taco?

SRH: (Looking at me a little funny). It’s a burrito.

Me: Oh. What do they put in burritos? How is it different from a soft taco?

SRH: Typically, burritos have rice or beans in addition to meat. Then they put the other stuff in it like a taco.

(Here, SRH takes a deep breath, giving himself time to see if I’m just messing with him).

Me: Looks like a soft taco to me. The rice and beans make it a burrito?

And then it hits us both: I have never had a burrito.

No, no, really, I have never had a burrito. I am a 32 year-old woman who worked at a Chi-Chi’s for one summer, and I have never eaten a burrito.

In my defense, I’m not a big fan of Mexican food since I don’t like spicy things and I hate cheese. But even I can understand that NEVER having eaten a burrito is a bit weird. We’ll see if SRH is willing to remain in the marriage shortly. Will let you know.

Also, he could really be feeding me a line of crap here, since I have no idea what goes in a burrito. Can someone please confirm SRH’s version of what is in a burrito?

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Zany Mama Hypothesis 2: Zane = Brilliant

I am not typically one to use this blog as a forum to express how magnificently beautiful, talented, and smart my child is. I typically find that it’s more entertaining to read – and write – about my ineptness as a parent and how Zane somehow survives my and SRH’s bungled attempts to help him grow into a productive human being. Since I rarely just gush about my child, I hope you will indulge me as I give two pieces of evidence of the Zane’s sheer brilliance.

Exhibit A

My child knows the alphabet! I’m not kidding; he knows all the letters of the alphabet – and not just by singing that annoying little song, either.

(By the way, did you realize that the alphabet song is the same tune as Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and Ba Ba Blacksheep? While I appreciate that those songs all have a tune that I can sing, I have been known to – in a fit of not-sleeping desperation – sing that tune to Zane for hours straight. Bad memories, there).

Anyway, last night we were looking at The Alternate Alphabet, and Zane just started saying all the letters as I pointed to them. He was so completely pleased with himself, it was just delightful. I was just so completely shocked. Much like the whole polite thing which blindsided me, I didn’t expect him to be able to identify all the letters in the alphabet before the age of 3. Okay fine, I know he turns three in just a few weeks, but still…

My Smart Alphabet-Saying Child

Exhibit B

This particular piece of evidence doesn’t make me feel all warm and gooey inside. It actually more makes me feel sad and a little guilty, but I will share it because Zane deserves the world to recognize his brilliance.

Yesterday, we were planning to visit the fire station with some friends. I really thought Zane would like it as he seems to be moderately into fire trucks, dump trucks, and any other vehicle with “truck” in the title. As I was telling Zane what we were about to do, Zane kept saying No Fire Truck, Mama. No Fire Truck.

I explained that we were just going to see the fire trucks for a few minutes, and then we’d go play at the park. He seemed okay with this, but then he started saying, No Fire Truck, Mama. No Doctor.

He had to say this about 5 times before I finally got it: The last time we had “seen” a fire truck, Zane was being taken to the emergency room from the doctor’s office for his asthma. Apparently, when the doctor’s office called 911 to transport us to the hospital, communication wasn’t clear, and 6 EMTs showed up with both an ambulance and a fire truck.

Needless to say, the asthmatic episode itself was scary enough – it’s never easy to see your child grunt with effort for every breath – but the overwhelming amount of men in blue uniforms trying to help him breathe and the resulting squad trip to the hospital was no picnic either.

Although it was over six months ago – which is a long time in a little boy’s life, Zane remembered, and he was clear that he wasn’t doing THAT again. I suppose one could argue that rather than intelligence, this is actually evidence of the clarity of traumatic memory, but I’m sticking with the opinion that it is evidence of his ability to make connections between seemingly unrelated events, which is a higher level thought process, to be sure.

Zane, when he’s not scared to death of big men trying to help him breathe

Of course, there are many more examples I could give of Zane’s intellectual prowess, but I’ll save the stories of Zane’s uncanny imitation of a homing pigeon in another post. Plus, I figure that his inherent fabulousness will just come through in any and all of my words, so I won’t bore you with more details.

My only point is that this child must be nearing genius status. I just hope he doesn’t go all weird on us. You know the way that some staggeringly smart people just can’t function socially? I hope this doesn’t happen to Zane, but I’m afraid, with these flashes of intellect, that might be where we are headed.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Another New Look

Well, as you might have noticed – unless you’re my mother- I have, once again, changed the look of this blog. I figured that if I didn’t mention it, it would become kind of like the “elephant in the living room” - a concept used extensively in substance abuse literature. Since I’m not in denial, and I’m not whacked out on coke, crack, or any other illegal substance, I just thought I’d put it out there. My elephant in the living room is this – I am having great fun looking at my blog in different iterations. It’s a complete self-indulgence.

What will this blog look like in yellow? Purple? Blue? Pink? With polka dots? With stripes? With flowers? Should there be a prominent picture of Zane? It is a blog about raising him, after all. Should I go with a graphic instead? Which graphic? The possibilities are endless! I’m new to this whole blogging thing, and I’m feeling drunk on my blog-template changing power.

So all of this blog changing has been, of course, assisted by my beloved, SRH, who knows way more about that type of thing than I do. I find a template (thanks to Zoot for this one) that I like, and he goes about customizing it for me. You may be seeing this particular tempate for a while, however, as we had the following conversation last night.

Me: I totally love this look. It feels fresh and summery. I’m a little concerned though that I might get tired of the pink – it might be a little more girly than what I feel like most days.

SRH: (Silence).

Me: So I guess what I’m saying is that while I love this tonight, I might be asking you to change it again in a few weeks, so don’t get too attached.

SRH: (Silence – but this time with a little furrow in his brow).

Me: I know. I know. You have to work with Photoshop all day, and then I make you come home and tinker with my blog at night. I’m a horrible wife. But you, you are a saint of a husband.

SRH: You may want to think about keeping this particular look for a while. People like familiarity and consistency. You don’t want to alienate folks who may be coming by jarring them every time they come to see your blog.

Me: This is a pain in your butt, customizing templates, isn't it?

SRH: Yes... Yes... Blog Templates is Tricksies…

So, I have used my partner once again in service to my blog. I certainly hope his pain and suffering was worth it and you like the new look. (I certainly do - for now).

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Zane and Shoes, Not So Much

I am a woman who loves shoes. I don’t care how stereotypically feminine it is to admit this fact. I’ll say it again. I have a uterus and an overwhelming love for shoes. I always think that I need more shoes and fantasize about different shoes on my feet like other women fantasize about food or sex.

In the 80’s when Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos were toppled from power in the Philippines, I really had trouble understanding what the fuss about her 3,000 shoes was all about. (I was only 12 years old in 1986 and had little understanding about massive bribery, corruption, and class oppression, so I really missed the entire point of the argument). In my mind, though, I could completely understand loads and loads of shoes.

The other day, I tried on a pair of $600 Christian Louboutin shoes at DSW. (Actually, I tried on one shoe, the other was locked up in the back of the store someplace). To be sure, I have never even come close to buying a $600 pair of shoes – that is just too rich for my blood. But I did try that one shoe on and enjoy my 3 minutes in luxury shoe heaven.

Lucky for me, SRH is a man shoe-horse. That man really likes him some shoes. He rarely fights me on buying a pair and really gets it when I say that my needing a new pair of shoes feels like a crisis which must be resolved right away.

So imagine our mutual chagrin when it turned out that our only child, the love of our lives, Zane, does not like shoes. Rather, he only likes one pair of shoes. These shoes.

These raggedy, winter shoes which he refers to simply as Brown Shoes. Zane asks to wear Brown Shoes every day. I’m not sure if the picture is clear, but Brown Shoes are beat all to heck, they are heavy, and they are not made to go with shorts.

So, I bought him a pair of spiffy, blue sneakers to sport him up a bit.

Blue Shoes, as they are referred to at our house, are canvas-like tennis shoes that will allow his wee feet to breathe a bit and look nice in the bargain. Some days if I claim that Brown Shoes are dirty, we can get Zane to wear Blue Shoes. He looks cute as a button, but make no mistake, Blue Shoes do not take the place of Brown Shoes. Ever.

Since it’s summer and I have a very hot-blooded little boy, I crazily – what was I thinking?! - bought him a pair of sandals.

Last fall, we had the same Brown Shoe Struggle with his then-favorite sandals. The kid refused to wear any other shoes but those sandals, so in November we were sending him out of the house in the classic sock-sandal combination which has been rocking the suburbs since 1966. This year, however, he refuses to wear sandals. No Sandals is a common refrain in our house.

In fact, he’d rather wear these than his sandals.

There is a really good lesson in all this about letting go and not engaging in power struggles with your child. I’m trying to learn it, but I really want him to wear the sandals. He’s only allowed them on his feet twice. But they are his feet. That’s my new mama mantra – They are his feet. If he wants them to be hot, then that’s up to him. (See I’m totally getting this mama talk.)

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Say You, Say Me

Some of you may be aware that I am a HUGE Lionel Richie fan. Well, maybe HUGE is a bit of an overstatement – I am not a member of the Lionel Ritchie fan club, I do not have all his trading cards, I’ve never been to a concert, and I don’t know the release date of his next – is there another one coming out? – album. And most importantly, I do not own any of his toenail clippings that I bought from a guy in 1984 who swore they belonged to Lionel. Okay, so perhaps I am not a HUGE fan, but I am a long-time fan.

Beginning with his time in the Commodores (he totally made that group) and right up through the pinnacle of his solo success, which may actually have been that weird “Hello” video where the blind woman makes a freaky sculpture of Lionel as he sings to her from around the corner, I have been able to sing along with every soul/pop/funk Lionel Richie ballad that ever broke the top 100.

My affinity for Lionel began with my mom’s housecleaning routine when I was in grade school. Mom would blast the Commodore’s Greatest Hits while cleaning, and we would both sing along with “Brick House” at the top of our lungs. Later, in college, my favorite song during step aerobics was, of course, “Brick House”. At least 35 of 52 Sundays during a year, I will hum “Easy Like Sunday Morning” for at least part of the morning. I was actually a little angry with Luther Vandross for releasing “Endless Love” with Mariah Carey – why mess with perfection? – and, I swear, I think that “Dancing on the Ceiling” is a catchy song.

So it is with less than surprise, that I began to notice that my life and Lionel’s life have interesting parallels. Forgive the pun, but I have noticed lately that Lionel and I are once, twice, three times a failure in certain areas of our lives.

Our Home Life

Lionel: Lionel was very famously beat down by his ex-wife, Brenda, when she caught him sneaking around with his future wife, Diane. He then married the woman-who-was-just-a-friend-when-my-wife
-found-us-together, Diane, and she asked for a bunch of money when she left him about ten years later.

Me: I lost the futon fight. SRH has wanted to get a futon for about forever, and we figured it would make our third bedroom look a little more useable, so I finally caved. We bought one today. It’s from Norka Futon, and it’s actually pretty whiz bang, but I do think this indicates a troubling power imbalance in our relationship: SRH wants a futon. SRH gets a futon. All I get is to pick which particular futon, the color, the fabric, and then watch SRH assemble it.

Our Children’s Health

Lionel: I don’t think I need to tell you about all the speculation around Nicole Richie and her ever-diminishing frame (anorexia). Apparently, she has recently sought help, which is great. I’m sure that Lionel was part of that.

Me: Zane’s face rash will NOT go away. I am treating it with both yeast and eczema medications, but the stubborn bumps will not go. Rash – 1. Zany Mama – 0.

Our Sales

Lionel: Facing decreasing sales and a beat down by his wife in the late eighties, Lionel decided to take some time off. Since he came back into the public eye in 1992, his record sales have been less than impressive.

Me: After almost 2 months on the market, my house still hasn’t sold. To add insult to injury, Stupid Neighbor’s house went into contract this week. This house on the market thing is getting old fast. I can totally see why Lionel dropped out of the selling things (records) business and just went to live on a yacht somewhere.

So, yeah, Lionel and I are both 3 for 3. The similarities are eerie, huh?