Wednesday, December 28, 2005


[First, Raisin is all better. I don't think she even remembers being sick or the evil nebulizer. She's 100% herself again. I'm so relieved that my bones get all jello-y everytime I think about it.]

And now, on to the point (that's being generous) of this entry. We have a new member of the family, and we couldn't be more thrilled! He has taken up residence in our bedroom, which is just fine with us. He doesn't use up much space, although I am still getting used to the whirring sound he makes in the middle of the night.

He's a great addition to our household, as he is already really good at figuring out what we like and don't like. I can just tell we're going to be really good friends, especially once the holidays are over and our regular schedule starts again. Then he'll really be busy keeping up with all our demands.

OK, this is lamer than I thought it would be, and I knew it was lame. We have TiVo! TiVo lives at my house! TiVo records Jeopardy! and Whose Line is it Anyway? and Gilmore Girls and all kinds of reality TV shows that I am slightly ashamed of but love anyway.

I bought it for DH for Christmas (and a little bit for myself too). I am the best wife EVAH. And he is the best husband EVAH, because he bought a flat-screen TV for TiVo to live with. (We didn't know what the other person was getting -- we are so meant to be.) TiVo and the TV are now married, and we are all living happily ever after. The end.

Friday, December 23, 2005

I Got Your Christmas Spirit Right Here

Yesterday I almost bit off a coworker's head. And not with mere words, either. Actual cannibalism was very nearly committed, by me. So, for anyone who prefers that I not sever your pretty necks with my razor-sharp Teeth of Fury, please take note:

1. Do not talk down to me. I'm nice, but my pet peeve is people who patronize (my pet peeve is alliterative, isn't that cool!?), and I will get mean.

2. Do not act as though I'm not doing my job. I am, and I'm doing a good job, and you are not the boss of me anyway. So there. [blows raspberries to demonstrate maturity and professionalism]

3. Do not keep repeating the same question. I answered that question. I do not have time or patience to tell you again that I will take care of it. I WILL TAKE CARE OF IT.

4. Do not offer suggestions if you A) do not know what you are talking about, and/or B) have nothing to do with the project at hand. See #s 2 and 3 above, and know that I AM DOING MY JOB AND I WILL TAKE CARE OF IT.

In other news, Raisin is quite herself again, except for an antibiotic-induced diaper rash with PAIN and SWELLING and REDNESS ouch ouch ouch.

Oh, we need a little Christmas, right this very minute....

Monday, December 19, 2005

A Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Raisin has pneumonia. We spent about 5 terrifying hours in urgent care and the emergency room on Saturday, watching her struggle for each breath. I haven't been this scared since the very first time she ever got sick.

Now that we're two days into treatment, she is doing much better. I may even unclench enough to send her back to daycare tomorrow. (She probably could've gone today, but my mom offered to stay home with her, and I couldn't refuse.)

I, however, am struggling with several layers of guilt that I cannot shake. Empirically, logically, rationally, I know that I did not cause my daughter's lungs to fill with fluid. But that didn't stop me from scrubbing the house top-to-bottom yesterday, or doing laundry every second that Raisin was sleeping or busy. If I'd been a better housekeeper, she wouldn't have gotten sick in the first place, you see. In this same vein, now would be an excellent time to ask me for favors or donations to your favorite charity. Who says Lutherans don't believe in doing penance?

On Saturday morning, I knew she was sick. She had a relatively low fever, she was coughing. She even threw up a few times. Her breathing was more rapid than normal. I did consider taking her to the clinic. DH and I mentioned it several times throughout the day. But we looked up every symptom she had, and none of them seemed to merit a trip to the doctor.

"They'll just tell us she has a virus," I kept saying. "It's better to keep her at home and keep her comfortable."

As the day wore on, she got worse. Her breathing was more rapid, more shallow. She couldn't be comforted by any of her favorite things. DH convinced me that a trip to the clinic was warranted. Oh, God, what if I hadn't listened to him then!?

I completely went to pieces when the PA at the clinic checked her oxygen level and found it to be about 10% lower than it should be. I started to cry (didn't really stop for several hours afterward), and the PA had no idea what to do with me. Or with Raisin, apparently.* She sent us to the ER at Children's, which I now realize was the best thing she could've done.

There, we discovered that Raisin's O2 level was actually fine (whew!). They just didn't have equipment small enough for her fingers at the clinic. A chest x-ray confirmed pneumonia, while a dose of Prednisone relieved some of the irritation in her chest.

Then we settled in for the long haul. The doctors wanted to see how much improvement could be gained after several treatments with an Albuterol nebulizer. Easier said than done, since Raisin would rather have eaten live frogs than have the neb mask on her face. Even though I knew it was helping, restraining my daughter while she cried feebly and looked reproachfully into my eyes was the worst thing I've ever done.

Nevertheless, by the end of the third treatment, the doctor felt she had improved enough to go home. We're now the proud owners of our own nebulizer machine, which ought to be totally fun at parties. Raisin's even gotten used to the sensation; she doesn't fight quite as vigorously any more.

We are all recovering. Raisin is almost back to her usual self, while DH and I struggle to find some grace, forgiveness, and peace for ourselves. We are supremely grateful to the doctors and nurses at the children's hospital. They made our nightmare bearable, and they put my daughter on the road to recovery. My family will be safe and whole for Christmas, and I cannot think of a better gift than that.

*I am sure she was completely competent; she did a nebulizer treatment at the clinic, so she obviously knew what she was dealing with. But her "bedside manner" was nonexistent, and she did not answer any of our questions. There is more to the successful practice of medicine than the medicine itself. Hasn't she ever seen Patch Adams?

Friday, December 16, 2005

Now I've Done It

I have drawn my husband into the seedy underbelly of the Internet that is the blogosphere. :)

He's totally jealous of my mad blogging skillz and has started a blog of his own here. Because he truly does have some skillz, and is not lazy like me, he has also posted some pictures. So, if you've been dying to know what Raisin and I look like, now's your big chance!

When you're done, please come back and tell me that I'm pretty and that you still love me. Lie if you have to.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


Oh, so very tired, and oh, so very cold. Why do I live in Minnesota again? It is 3 Degrees here right now. The windchill is -6.

So, peppermint tea in hand, I am going to cheer myself up by listing The Adorable Things My Daughter Does. If it doesn't do anything for you, too bad. I am tired and cold. Leave me alone.

1. While watching a TV show with a dog (her new favorite animal), she cries "puppy, puppy!" every time the dog leaves the screen. Then she grabs the remote and pushes all the buttons, looking for the one that will make the puppy come back.

2. Books, or "guks," as she calls them, are cause for tremendous excitement. Her face lights up anytime she sees one of her favorites. (In other words, the ones with puppies in them.)

3. She is trying diligently to get her tongue around the words "Christmas tree." It's hard work for her, but her attempts are so cute that I keep pointing the tree out to her just to make her try to say it again.

4. She blows on her food when we tell her it's hot. She also blows on the oven and the hair dryer.

5. DH taught her to say "I love you," which comes out in toddlerspeak as "wuv oo." Melts me every time.

6. She knows how to play "Ring Around the Rosey," but she never wants to sing the whole song. Her version involves walking 3-4 steps around the circle, then skipping right to "we all fall down!"

7. She has a flair for mimicry. Most of it's endearing, like when she covers her mouth after she's sneezed, or when she folds her hand to pray. It's hard to enjoy it, though, when I know the day is coming when she'll swear in church or blow her nose in a napkin at a restaurant. Not that I ever swear or blow my nose in napkins, I mean, that's just rude.

8. Somehow she has discovered Elmo -- he must send out some kind of homing beacon to small children. I know WE didn't introduce her to him. She's learning the song: "la, la, la, ELMO!!!" Close enough.

9. When it's just the three of us, we play a dinner-table naming game. She points gleefully at DH, and yells, "Mama!" Then we giggle and she points out the real Mama, then Daddy and Raisin.

10. She swims in the bathtub.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Bad, Stupid, Good, Disturbing

Bad: I am at work. I was supposed to have the day off, but I am here, trying to prevent a project from becoming a complete failure. It's not looking good.

Stupid: I have been assigned cranberries for Thanksgiving, which is taking place tomorrow in our family. I don't like cranberry salads, but I said OK anyway. I'm actually bringing a cranberry-wild rice stuffing, but now I have the horrible sinking feeling that someone else is already bringing a wild rice dish. Crap.

Good: It is snowing, a very sparkly, fluffy, Christmassy snow. I am including this in the "good" column even though I would much prefer to be enjoying this from my living room, in my pajamas, while drinking hot cocoa. Labeling it "good" involves a complete denial of the fact that even when I do get to go home, I'll be stuck in awful traffic while people try to remember how the whole driving in snow thing works. Asshats. Wait, what was I saying? Pretty snow. Right.

A Little Disturbing: Wednesday night at the bus stop, I endured a 10-minute tirade from one of my fellow transit riders. Apparently, she's quite upset about the date of her b-day (she never actually used the word "birthday," but I assumed that's what she meant.)

Crazy Bus Woman: Just guess! Guess what day my b-day is! Just think what the worst possible b-day I could have would be!

My brain: If you answer her, maybe she won't kill you!
Me: Um, is it near Christmas?

CBW: NO! Why would Christmas be a bad b-day!? Why does everyone always say that!?

My brain: You angered her! Fight or flight? Fight or flight?
Me: I don't kno-

CBW: Just use your brain! Hello? What would be the worst possible b-day?

My brain: I so don't want to play this game anymore.
Me: I really don't know.

CBW: 9-11! There! See!? I have the worst possible b-day. What could be worse than that?

My brain: Today. Today is the worst possible day. Run away, run away!
Me: You're right, that's horrible. Oh, shoot, there's my bus!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Where The Devil Are My Slippers?

My Fair Lady has the worst last line ever. Of any movie. Bar none. "Where the devil are my slippers?" Seriously!? That's all 'Enry 'Iggins has to say to Eliza? And she's seriously gonna stand there and not retort? She's willing to throw all her hard-earned self-respect down the drain without any kind of explanation or apology from him?

I have never read Pygmalion. Thanks to my friend Google, however, I have just skimmed the ending, and found this:

This being the state of human affairs, what is Eliza fairly sure to do when she is placed between Freddy and Higgins? Will she look forward to a lifetime of fetching Higgins's slippers or to a lifetime of Freddy fetching hers? There can be no doubt about the answer. Unless Freddy is biologically repulsive to her, and Higgins biologically attractive to a degree that overwhelms all her other instincts, she will, if she marries either of them, marry Freddy.

And that is just what Eliza did.

So THERE, Hollywood! George Bernard Shaw got it. But you thought it would be more romantic if she ended up with Higgins. Well, THANK YOU VERY MUCH for RUINING the ENTIRE movie. Hmph.

My husband thinks that I take this a little too seriously. In my personal belief system, however, it is not possible to take a musical too seriously.

Up next, the dream sequence in Oklahoma! How awful is that!?

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


Someone in Kansas, whom I've never met, is going to name her unborn child "Raisin" if it's a girl. That, my friends, is how freaking cool DH and I are. Strangers want to be like us. They want to name their children after our child. Thank you very much, good night.

(Kansas Lady is friends with the mother of another toddler in Raisin's classroom at daycare. This mom, evidently, thinks Raisin looks like she could be the offspring of Kansas Lady, and was therefore telling Kansas Lady about the cute little girl at daycare, Raisin, blah blah. KL decided she loooooovvvveeeedddd the name so much that she wants to steal it. And a naming fad is born, people. Watch for all kinds of little Raisins on the next Social Security popular names report.)

I think it's awesome. DH thinks it's a little creepy.

Friday, November 11, 2005

At least we're well-matched...

Am smart. Turned off comments for ALL posts without realizing it. Have fixed it now. Am sorry. :)

If you had been at the Grape household this week, you might have witnessed the following scene:

Raisin is playing on the floor with her Noah's ark from Fisher Price. She is taking the animals out one by one and handing them to me. I am attempting to turn it into a counting lesson, about which she could care less.

Grape: Oh, thank you! It's a giraffe -- one giraffe! ... Oh, look, here's a zebra. One giraffe, and one zebra. ... Hey, another giraffe! That's two votes giraffe, and one vote zebra. First person voted off of "Survivor: Noah's ark" -- giraffe!

DH: You are such a dork.

Grape: Whatever, it was funny. ... Oh, thanks, Raisin -- a toucan! ... Another toucan, that's two toucans!

DH: Would that be a fourcan?

Grape: Who's a dork!?

So, cast your votes ... of the lame jokes above, which is the lamest!?

Monday, November 07, 2005


*Updated because somehow I turned off the comments and because some of it was too poorly written even for me.*

I am going off The Pill (because if you capitalize it, everybody knows that you're talking about THAT pill, right?). I wouldn't say we are officially trying to get pregnant, but we are getting close -- close enough that I don't want to pay $90 for a 3-month supply of pills. {Politely saves rant about prescription drugs and insurance companies for another time and place.}

Being this close has me thinking a lot about my pregnancy with Raisin -- what went well (almost everything)? What would I change (almost nothing, except it'd be great to gain less weight)? Will I go back to the same midwife practice (I think so)? That kind of thing.

I was very very very very blessed the first time around. From conception to delivery, we only had one major scare. And now that I have discovered the blogosphere and all the scary stories out there, it doesn't even seem that major anymore. However, I come from a long line of worriers, and I just wouldn't be me if I weren't thinking about it again now as I contemplate another go-round.

It started after our first ultrasound, so it must've been at about 20 weeks. The OB who reviewed the ultrasound results was concerned about one of Raisin's measurements. An approximation of the ensuing conversation with the midwife (not-my-favorite midwife, because of a decided lack of what I like to call "personality" and "compassion" -- she was, thankfully, not on call when Raisin was born):

Midwife: So, it looks like the baby has a prominent renal pelvis on the right side.

DH/Grape: {blank stares}

Midwife: See, this {indicates black spot amid many indistinguishable spots} is her kidney. And this is the renal pelvis.

Grape: {trying to be calm and not freak-the-flying-freak out} So, what does that mean?

Midwife: Well, you'll have to make an appointment at the perinatal clinic for a level-two ultrasound. Here's the clinic number and a bunch of other useless information, blah blah blah nothing about the BABY who is suffering from a prominent something-or-another RIGHT NOW in my uterus!!!!!!!!

Grape: OK, but what does that mean for the baby? {gives up and just freaks right out anyway}

Midwife: I can't really say.

And I left it at that.*

I went home and consulted Dr. Google right away. That was a GREAT idea. A prominent renal pelvis (Google tells me that's a tube that connects the kidney to the bladder. If it's too big, stuff can go the wrong way and cause infections) in a 20-week fetus can mean:
1. Absolutely nothing, because they measured wrong.
2. That the dumb thing is just growing fast, and will be normal by birth.
3. That the dumb thing is just growing fast, and will be normal by age 1.
4. That the dumb thing grew too fast, but can be corrected by surgery after birth if necessary.
5. DOWN SYNDROME!!!!!!!!

Yeah. Would it be redundant to point out the FREAKING OUT that was done at this point?

Now, to spare you all any further suspense, in Raisin's case, it turned out to be #2. We found this out to the tune of an additional level-one ultrasound and 2 level-twos with a perinatologist (who, by the way, was the opposite of not-my-favorite midwife, and who is my HERO). These are the sentences he uttered in order to be come Dr. Hero:

"Well, it is a little on the big side right now, but I don't think it's reason to be concerned."

"I see no indication that your baby has Down Syndrome."

"I just took part in a study at the Mayo Clinic about the correlation between this measurement and actual problems after birth. Come see me again at about 34 weeks; according to my study we can't tell anything positive until that point anyway."

And, of course, when we went back at 34 weeks the measurement was in the normal range, and Raisin has never suffered any kind of urinary tract issue. And they all lived happily ever after.

*This is the crucial part of the narrative to me. I don't think I was a passive patient -- I educated myself about pregnancy before and during my own. I asked questions. I tried to keep up-to-date with what was going on in my body and in the midwife practice. But when we hit our little mini-crisis, I let the midwife shuffle me out of the office without any answers.

I got the answers later; I'm OK with that. I got good care from those midwives, so I'm not apprehensive about trusting them again. And I believe that she probably had good reasons for NOT answering my question -- she just should have told me what the reason was. My guess is that as a nurse-midwife, not an MD, she felt she might be treading on iffy legal ground.

I just wish I had asked. I wish I didn't have to guess now. And I'd like, this time around, not to let go of questions to which I feel I deserve an answer.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Questions To Keep You Up At Night

1. Why do the Las Vegas CSIs always use flashlights? Do murder scenes automatically lose electricity, rendering light switches useless?

2. Does the person who left the sushi in our office refrigerator really think it's still good after all this time? Are they going to eat it!?

3. Is George W. ever going to learn to pronounce "nuclear" correctly? Should we just rename those weapons "nu-cu-ler" so that he doesn't sound so freaking dumb?

4. Where should I take my pretty new purse to have the zipper fixed?

5. When Raisin says "ow-ie!" and pats her cheeks, what does that mean? Her teeth hurt? Her ears hurt? She just likes the new word?

These are the serious issues occupying this great brain, people. Once I solve these, I might move on to deeper problems like whether the United Nations can ever really be effective given its current organizational structure. But don't count on it.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

An Update About My Pants

You will all be relieved to know that the icky glue-like stuff came off my pants. BMG, you can cancel that check I'm sure you were sending. Although, if it's already in the mail, I'll take it. I can put it towards that Coach bag the universe owes me. See? It all works out. Karma.

Monday, October 24, 2005

More Adventures in Punctuation

Remember "Bizarro Jerry" from Seinfeld? This weekend I saw Bizarro Grape on the Orange Line from downtown Chicago to Midway. She's from Cleveland, and we ran into her and the three friends she was traveling with as we were all on our way back home. She has a Coach purse, though, and she lives "on the lake." There must be some kind of imbalance in the universe, which can only be equaled out by someone giving me a Coach bag and a house on the water. Anyone?

Also seen in Chicago this weekend: The Blue Man Group. AWESOME! FUNNY! STROBE LIGHTS! CAP'N CRUNCH! CREPE PAPER! HAAAAAA! Except they owe me $50 for the pants that got ruined by the icky glue-like stuff that was on my seat (which of course I didn't notice until after I sat in it). (I doubt I paid $50 for the pants, because I am cheap and buy things on sale, but the Blue Man Group doesn't know that.)

Know what else they have in Chicago? Margaritas! And food! And shopping! Extraneous exclamation points all around to indicate reveling and fun! Whee! It was a great trip. We stayed up late and slept in late. We talked and laughed and got caught up and promised to do it again. I missed DH and Raisin, but I wasn't sad about it like I thought I'd be. They had a good time, and I had a good time, and we were really glad to see each other again last night. But it was really nice to not be the Mama for a few days.

And now, Monday. Coffee. Tired. Hate work. Exclamation points broken. Blaaaahhhhh.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Holy Rambling Randomness!

I have had absolutely zero of interest to say for the last couple of weeks. Of course, I still have nothing noteworthy, but I don't want to have my blogger card revoked, so I'll make up some slightly-more-banal-than-usual drivel to take up space.

Tomorrow I am leaving for Chicago (aka Really Fun City). Woo-hoo! The Blue Man Group is performing while we're there, so we are going to try to get tickets. I've heard they put on an excellent show.

DH and Raisin are flying to California today to spend the weekend with DH's parents. We just saw Flight Plan, so I told DH that he is not allowed to sleep at any point during the trip. I might spike his soda with No-Doz. He's also not to let Raisin anywhere near "Avionics", whatever the hell that is -- he'll have to ask the pilot, since the flight attendants are probably terrorists. DO YOU THINK THAT'S UNREASONABLE? DO YOU!? I didn't think so.

Yesterday on the bus I sat next to a man listening to his headphones. He was very guy's-guy looking. You know, slightly rumpled khakis, Columbia jacket, very not-metrosexual. He was listening to one of the Richard Gere numbers from Chicago. That made my day.

I have spent the last 5 minutes trying to think of one more thing to add, and this is all I've got: Should the comma after "Avionics" be inside or outside the quotes?

Discuss amongst yourselves. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Just Quit It!

1. Lorelai and Rory Gilmore, get your cute butts in a room together and work it out already. I started out just blaming Rory, but now you are both being difficult. Just quit it.

2. It's October, and this is Minnesota. Enough with the thunderstorms and the lightning and the worrying about more trees falling on my house and the dirty water in my basement. Just quit it.

3. Metro transit boss-type people, why must my bus route still be detoured? I do not see any dangerous construction. It's making the buses late(-er than usual), and the bus drivers cranky(-er). Just quit it.

4. Paolo family on the Amazing Race, please stop calling each other stupid. You are all stupid, end of discussion. Now, go away.

5. Trouser socks, quit falling down and bunching around my ankles. You are not old and stretched out enough for this to be a problem. And why are you called trouser socks? I don't wear trousers, because it's a word that only Wallace from Wallace and Gromit can get away with, so I shouldn't have to put up with it from you, either. "First thing, Garlic, you've got to requisition a new nickname." (If you get the reference, I'll be your BFF.)

6. People walking in the Skyway (this is the system of gerbil tubes that connects downtown Minneapolis so people don't have to walk outside in bad weather -- see above re: thunderstorms -- it's kind of like the Jetson's, but without the cool moving sidewalks). Anyway, people, walk faster. Or move to one side. Or at least walk in a straight line if you need to walk slowly. It's very hard to speed-walk around you when you are meandering zig-zag style all over the damn place. Get out of my way.

7. Julie, Grape, honey-bear, have you had enough coffee now? Can you please stop being so PMS-y and witchy-with-a-b? If you don't even want to be in the same room with yourself, how must your poor husband feel? Just quit it.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

It's Good to Know Where I Stand

Last night, Raisin and I were playing in the living room. She was enjoying one of her favorite pasttimes, in which she points at family pictures and tries to say the names of the people in them. Right now everyone's name sounds like "Mama" or "Da," but the initiated ear can hear the slight differences that distinguish "Gramma," Grandpa," and "Uncle Dan." (Or, the imaginative mother can create those distinctions in her hyper-proud mommy mind. Either way.)

I thought it might be fun to add a new element to the game by asking her to find certain people.

Me: Where's Gramma?
Raisin: Mama! ::points to picture of my mother::
Me: Very good! Where's Uncle Dan?
Raisin: Da! ::points to picture of my brother::
Me: Yay! Where's Mama?
Raisin (gleefully): Mama!!! ::runs across room to point at a plastic jack-o-lantern::
Me: ::sobbing::

It's an improvement, I guess. Last weekend at my mom's she kept calling one of these "Mama." Thanks, kiddo!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Any Questions?

When a 17-month-old answers a question, are they responding to the content, or to the questioning tone of voice? Does anybody know?

I think Raisin must really understand some of our more complicated questions. I mean, she's been responding to things like "Do you want more?" for months -- she recognizes the key word "more" at the end, and makes the corresponding sign. But recently she's started saying "yeah" when I ask "Did you have a good day?" "Are you ready to go to school?" "Do you need a clean diaper?"

But if I ask an unfamiliar question, she usually doesn't respond -- so she must be really listening to me, right? Of course right.

Friday, September 23, 2005

In Which I Reveal My Geeky Historical/Theological Tendencies

Do you ever have those weeks that seem to have a theme? Like every encounter you have is linked to the same basic idea? I am having such a week, and it always makes me wonder if there's something I'm supposed to learn from the experience.

First, I am trying to renew a habit I used to have of reading from my "One Year Bible" every morning during my bus ride. (The editors of this particular version have arranged an Old Testament reading, a New Testament reading, a Psalm, and some Proverbs for each day, and if you stay current you can read the whole Bible in a year. It's not so much that I want to read the whole Bible -- I skip over the begats pretty darn quickly! -- it's just that I used to be more faithful about reading, and this gives me a little more structure and helps me keep up with it more.) Anyway, having just started I am still in Genesis in the Old Testament readings, and my readings this week included Genesis 16 and Genesis 21, which include the births of Abraham's two sons, Ishmael and Isaac.

Now, excuse me for a moment while I wax historical. If you're already familiar with all this, my apologies. Although God promises to "make nations" out of both boys, in the Hebrew Bible Isaac is obviously the favored son. His mother is Sarah, Abraham's wife, while Ishmael's mother is an Egyptian slave woman named Hagar. Ishmael is prophesied to be "a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone's hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers."

God does also promise to bless Ishmael, but it is with Isaac that he will "establish his covenant." Ishmael is the father of many Arab/Islamic nations. Isaac's descendants formed ancient Israel.

OK, so I'm reading these stories, and as always, I ponder how much of our current Jewish/Christian/Muslim animosity has its roots in things that happened so long ago. Then, while browsing, I came across this item. There's lots of food for thought, but what jumped out at me was the story about God asking Abraham to sacrifice Ishmael, then sparing him at the last minute.

As Snopes points out, this is the exact story the Hebrew Bible tells about Isaac. Hmmm. I didn't know that. So I wonder, what was Abraham's relationship with his sons really like? Is it possible that, aside from the normal sibling rivalry, things were actually pretty peaceful in those tents? I think there are scholars now who think that tensions were high between the Israelites and their neighbors by the time Moses started writing down the first books of the Old Testament. Did that climate lead him to exaggerate some of the stories about Isaac and Ishmael? Did he (intentionally or unintentionally) make it sound like their children were predestined to hate each other, when really that's not what God wanted? Did he fan into an inferno a fire that was just struggling to start? (I am not familiar enough with the Koran to speak to its origins, but maybe something similar happened there?) And if so, what consequences are we still suffering today because for thousands of years, we have all accepted as incontrovertible fact the premise that we were born to be enemies?

With all these ramblings going on in the back of my brain, I boarded the bus this morning, and took a seat near the back next to a Muslim woman wearing a head scarf. I opened my Bible and began to read, then I glanced aside and noticed that she was reading the Koran.

So, Isaac, Ishmael, today on a number 17 bus bound for downtown Minneapolis, two inheritors of your history sat side by side and read from the texts we each hold holy. We didn't speak, we didn't fight, we didn't even really make eye contact. I'm not sure what it means, or if it means anything at all, but I came away feeling hopeful anyway.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Ranty Wednesday

I read a news item today. That was my first mistake, as I am almost guaranteed to find something in the news to be upset about.

I make it a general rule not to watch the personal makeover shows. From what little I have seen, it seems like the producers/personalities involved find some way to revisit every awful, tormented moment in the victim's (I mean, lucky winner's!) life. Then they reinforce that vic-winner's conviction that none of those bad memories would exist if they weren't so darn ugly. Helpful.

So, yes, I have issues with Extreme Makeover and all the other myriad variations on the same theme. And yes, this woman's story is especially sad, since she didn't even get the promised makeover, and is now dealing with the tragic loss of her sister on top of it all. But can I just send a quick GOOD MORNING!! to the people who keep signing up for these things?

ABC (or whoever) is not in this for you. They are only interested in your story as it affects their ratings. They are not doing you any favors by making you relive each embarrassing/sad/hurtful day you've lived. They are not helping you overcome those days by telling you it's because you're not one of the pretty people. And, finally, becoming one of the pretty people (as defined, of course, by ABC) is no guarantee that you will no longer suffer embarrassment, sadness, or hurt.

By all means, change the way you look if it will help you feel better about yourself. Heck, let ABC pay for it -- more power to ya! Just, please, don't let them tell you who you are or who you should be in the process. Thanks.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Kicked to the Curb

Yesterday, I swear Raisin clung to me for a solid hour and a half. She cried and could not be comforted; it was terrible. But she needed me that whole time. Honest. Plus, at home she climbs voluntarily into my lap to snuggle and read stories. All the time. Really.

If I tried to tell this to the teachers at day care, they would laugh pityingly behind my back. When I dropped her off today, she held my hand for about ten seconds, then ran off to the book corner and climbed on the miniaturized couch. I came along behind her, dutifully following the parenting-book suggestion that my presence helps her make the transition from home to day care.

Me: Raisin, are you going to read a book?
Raisin: Bye-bye!
Me (putting on a brave face in front of day care staff): Um, OK, bye! Can I have a kiss?
Raisin (waving more forcefully): BYE-BYE!!! (One can only imagine what she would've said if her vocabulary included more than 10 words.)

Hmph. Transition, my left foot. At least I know she'll need me to feed her, clothe her, and drive her around for the next 15 years or so.

And I took my kiss by force.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Mystery and Intrigue in the Nursery

NB, the toddler formerly known as the Hobbit will henceforward be known as Raisin. She's not really very hobbit-like anymore. She's not much like a sun-dried grape, either, but she's my mini-me, so it's the closest I could get.

So last night I snuck into Raisin's room to check on her and cover her up. The covering up is an exercise in futility, but I am seriously physically unable to leave the room without straightening the covers over her. I know she will kick them off 30 seconds later, but I just can't help myself. Anyway. Totally not the point of the story.

Last night when I went in, not only was she uncovered, but she was diaperless! (The last couple of nights we've put her to bed in just a t-shirt and a diaper, because it's been warm in the evenings. Then, later at night we (try to) cover her up as it gets colder.) After I called DH in to witness this new phenomenon, we had the following sotto voce conversation:

Me: You've got to come see this!
DH: What?
Me (patting her bare behind): She's not wearing a diaper!
DH: She's not? Did you forget to put one on!?
Me: No, I didn't forget!
DH: Well, where is it?
(both of us search around the crib in the dark, trying not to wake up Raisin)
DH: Are you SURE you put one on her?

At this point, I started to wonder if I was, in fact, crazy enough to have read her a story, said goodnight to her entire room a la Goodnight Moon, and put her in her crib without noticing that she was half unclad. Just then, she shifted in her sleep and the missing diaper was revealed under her head (I know, ew -- fortunately she must've shed it early on, because it wasn't wet).

I managed to re-diaper without waking her, but she had squirmed out of it again by this morning. Tonight she's wearing PJ pants no matter what. Good thing the weather's getting cooler; I don't have that many spare crib sheets!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Toddler Cuteness

The Hobbit (no longer really an appropriate nickname, really -- will have to think of something else) is learning animal sounds. When prompted, she will quack, moo, baa, or woof, although sometimes every animal quacks, since ducks are still her favorite.

She could stand to improve her diction a bit, though. Her "quack" sounds exactly like Fozzie Bear, "wokka, wokka, wokka!"

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

A Different Kind of Tragedy

I feel compelled to make a list of things I've done or will do to help the victims of Katrina. But, then, I am ashamed of that impulse. It seems designed just to strategically place some fig leaves over my own guilt -- selfish. So, instead, I will just add a prayer for forgiveness to my prayers for the victims, and move on to other topics.

In my current state of mind, however, I don't feel up to the funny side of my crazy family vacation stories. Once again, o wise internet dwellers, I would love your opinion on something.

My cousin and his wife have two children. The boy (C1) is 10, and the girl (C2) is 2. C1 was born before his parents were married. While neither pregnancy was planned or particularly welcome, C1 was undoubtedly less planned and less welcome. It shows even more now that his sister is on the scene. (Perhaps relevant, perhaps not: my cousin's childhood was far from ideal. His alcoholic, violent father divorced my aunt when my cousin was very young. My aunt was always very bitter, and it showed in the way she raised my cousin. His marriage and his relationship with C1 very clearly show this same pattern.)

These are both good kids, and both act as expected for their age. C1, however, can do nothing right in his parents' eyes, and C2 can do nothing wrong. C1 also bears all the responsibility for his sister and younger cousins -- his parents punish him for every rule they break.

C1 rarely attracts any positive attention from either parent. There are too many illustrative stories to share, so I will just relate the most recent. On Thursday, C1 was supposed to start 5th grade. Supposed to, but his parents didn't know that it was the first day until they happened to drive by the school, where they saw the other kids on the playground. Did he go on Friday? No, he already had a doctor's appointment on that day, so they didn't send him at all.

This is not his first year in this school.

My question is, what's my responsibility here? When the extended family is together, everyone makes an effort to encourage this boy. We all see the inequity. But we are only together once every couple of months. How do we combat the daily negative input of his parents?

**Updated to note that I have turned on the word-verification feature for comments. I got my first spam today, and I am crabby. Let me know if it's too annoying. Thanks!**

Thursday, September 01, 2005

The Big Easy

I am back from vacation, and it was wonderful. And, yes, my family is crazy. More to come on that later.

Right now, I would just like to formally retract every complaint I made about the tree that fell on my house. What seemed like a small disaster to me at the time I now see was actually nothing. My family is completely unscathed, my house is still standing, it is NOT standing in 20 feet of water, and we didn't have to go a single second without anything essential. Hell, we didn't even have to live without luxuries like showers, and it's hard to feel bad about the temporary loss of my own bed when I spent those nights on my parents' pillow-top mattress.

I am feeling simultaneously blessed and unbelievably selfish. For anyone who was affected by this storm, please know that I am praying, I did at least make a donation to the Red Cross, and if I knew what else to do, I'd do it.

Friday, August 19, 2005

I'm Outta Here!

We're off to "Up North." I hope to return with lots of my-family-is-crazy stories. Bye!

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Inquiring Minds....

Jenn (thanks for reading! I feel all popular today!) asked about my reunion trip drama. So, the saga:

DH and I hadn't come up with any solutions that made us both feel OK, and he was lamenting to his mom. Lo and behold, she has frequent flyer miles to burn. Fabulous! The Hobbit and DH will visit California for a long weekend.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, everytime a good fare comes up for Really Fun City, it expires before my girlfriends and I can decide to go for it. Ahh, irony, I think. DH will have a wonderful weekend, and I will be stuck at home alone. Serves me right.

Never fear, however! All is now well. Really Fun City, here we come! We found decent fares, the tickets are booked, hurray! Now, please just pray that Northwest's mechanics will not strike, or at least that their replacements will not screw up all the planes. I'm all about solidarity up to a point, but this is my vacation we're talking about!

Also, this will be the first time I've been away from the Hobbit overnight. Ever. How is it possible to look forward to something and dread it this much all at the same time!?

Monday, August 15, 2005

Things That Make Me Smile (Even On Monday)

1. The way my grandma personalizes cards. If she can't find a card for my daughter that says "great granddaughter," she will write in a caret and the word "great" before the "granddaughter," so that no one will wonder if she really believes the Hobbit is her granddaughter. She also crosses out "I" and writes in "we," because she thinks that will fool us into thinking my grandfather gave this thoughtful card a lot of his attention. Hard to believe, since his handwriting hasn't appeared in a card in my 27-year history. We love him anyway.

2. That everyone in my family is hoarding quarters. That way, when we go on vacation en masse next week, everyone will have money to lose to Grandpa when he pulls out the deck of cards.

3. The way the Hobbit has taken to pointing out everything that touches the floor as "uh-oh."

4. The gleeful way she ran from her room this morning, clad in nothing but a diaper and clutching the onesie I was trying to pull over her head. Also, the fact that she was delighted when I chased her down the hall and bodily hefted her back to finish dressing.

5. That as I was getting dressed, she handed me my shirt, even though it covered her almost head to toe.

6. That when I said it was time to put her toys away, she pushed the box into the closet herself. Then, she pulled it right back out again and started taking out toys. Still, I'm counting that as a major listening success!

7. That my husband watches The Gilmore Girls with me, and even lets me talk about the characters like they're real people we know.

8. That he also restrains himself from too much eye-rolling when I reminisce about the best TV show ever, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.

9. That my brother refers to his wife as "Aunt Frank" in front of the Hobbit, in hopes that she will call her that. Officially, I side with my mother and sister-in-law that this is a bad idea. Unofficially, I think it would pretty darn funny if the Hobbit did pick it up.

10. I am 5 days away from vacation!!!!!!!!!!! What should I read, by the way?

Friday, August 12, 2005

I Blame My Father

If anyone was tempted to try the new Starbucks Green Tea Frappucino, please don't. I was drawn in by the cool, refreshing greenness of the ad. Lies, all lies! It was sickeningly sweet and cloyingly thick.

Of course, I drank it anyway, because I could hear my father in my head, "Well, that's $3.65 down the drain!"

Thanks a lot, Dad!

Thursday, August 11, 2005

In Defense of Country

If you're looking for insightful patriotic commentary, you've come to the wrong place (at least today). Sorry.

A while back, Jane had a good chuckle because of my confession that I enjoy country music. Because I am a glutton for punishment, I'm actually going to defend myself. Really, how can you not love this stuff? Here are some of the best titles (too good to be true, and yet they are!):

"The American Honky-Tonk Bar Association"

"The Redneck Yacht Club"

"Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?"

"Country Boys and Girls Gettin' Down on the Farm"

And, the crown jewel, with which I torture my husband every December:

"Please, Daddy, Don't Get Drunk This Christmas ('Cause I Don't Want to See My Momma Cry)"


Monday, August 08, 2005

Bad Mommy. Bad, Bad, Bad!

In preparation for spending several hours yesterday in the blazing sun, I slathered myself with SPF 50 sunblock (this is not an exaggeration, they really make it that strong) to protect my lotus-petal skin from damage (that might be an exaggeration, but I'm feeling a little low today, so tell me I'm pretty, ok?).

The Hobbit, who really does have beautiful skin, did not receive this treatment, because while she was outside, she was not in the sun. I therefore believed her to be safe. I'm sure by now you've all seen where this is going -- the Hobbit now has her first sunburn, and I have what must be my 1,357,789th case of mommy guilt.

When we got home, I popped the sunburned, tired, hungry, thirsty Hobbit into her high chair, hoping to remedy half of what ailed her. I pinched her thigh with the buckle as I strapped her in. 1,357,790.

She is now safely in the hands of child care professionals, who may or may not let me take her back tonight.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Let's Make a List! (C'mon, it'll be fun)

-Small skim white chocolate mocha from Caribou
-Figuring out problems at work
-Knowing the Hobbit will soon be in the Toddler Room away from The Baby Biter

-Knowing I should drink less coffee
-Having my boss stop by at random times to see if I've figured out a problem yet (Hello! What if I'm doing something important like blogging!?)
-Knowing the Hobbit will soon be in the Toddler Room with all the big, mean toddlers who will pick on my poor baby and can probably bite harder than The Baby Biter

It all seems to balance out. I'm very zen that way.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Vampire Babies

In the wise, immortal words of Cher from Clueless, "I feel impotent and out of control, and I really hate that." The Hobbit keeps getting bitten at day care, so much so that I want to paint her poor, abused flesh with hot pepper sauce. That'd teach 'em! If I could only be sure she wouldn't put her own mouth on it....

My rational brain is well aware that lots of kids go through this phase, and that there must be victims of it somewhere. In this rational state, I can also see the value of the day care's policy not to reveal the identity of the biter.

However, it is my more primal maternal self that is in control here. This self is pretty darn sure who the biter is, and it's the same kid every time. This self thinks said baby is very cute, and is sure his parents think very highly of him, but also wants to put him in a Hannibal Lecter mask until he STOPS BITING MY BABY!!!!!!

A little over the top?

Tuesday, July 26, 2005


The power is back on, I slept in my very own bed last night, and plans are in the works for the repair of the roof and the removal of the rest of Evil Monster Tree. I am no longer a Sour Grape. (Get it? Grape? Never mind.)

Monday, July 25, 2005

In Which a Tree Falls on My House

This weekend? Not the best I've ever had. Saturday morning a very brief but very violent storm blew down part of the monster tree in our backyard. Onto our house and through our power line. Crap, and other words I don't usually say, because I am such a well-bred lady. Or not.

The power is still not on, the tree is only partially gone, and the insurance will only cover about 2/3 of the cost of removing the flippin' thing. (Do you know how much it costs to remove a big tree? I didn't know, and I wish I still didn't!)

Still, in all fairness, there are good things about the whole thing:

1. No one was hurt. At all. Thank God.

2. The Hobbit and I were not at home when it happened, which is especially good since the tree hit right over her room and she could've been scarred for life. DH was in the room next to where the tree hit. He was pretty darn shaken, and he's not 15 months old.

3. My parents live nearby, and we were able to sleep, do laundry, and salvage some of our frozen food at their place.

4. The damage to the house seems relatively minimal -- at least, the roof is intact enough to keep water out.

Nonetheless, it's not an experience I have particularly enjoyed. If you were thinking about arranging for a tree to fall on your house, I would recommend reconsidering that plan.

Thursday, July 21, 2005


Once, a friend of mine told me that he subscribed to a gay men's magazine. Being in no way ashamed of this, he was very put out that the magazine came in what he described as a "porn wrapper, like Playboy." I said, "It comes wrapped in a porn magazine? Why would they do that?"

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Mid Year Resolutions

Yesterday, I resolved that every time I was tempted to buy a brownie from the vending machine, I would instead put that money in a jar. I would save the brownie money, perhaps to be spent on the wonderful thing I'm getting my DH (see previous post, and tell me what to get!). This plan has the added bonus of being sort of like a diet. I'll lose pound after pound -- you'll see!

But what are the rules if the brownies are free?

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Please Give Me Advice

Ok, remember the College of Corn from yesterday's post? Well, I graduated from that illustrious institution 5 years ago, which means this year there will be a Reunion. DH, who is very, very D, as you will see later in this story, had agreed to accompany me to Boring Collegetown for the big event. This is very generous of him, since it means he and the Hobbit will spend most of the weekend serving as props to demonstrate how Awesome my life is since graduation.

This Sunday, we had dinner with some fellow alumni, including my three roommates from my last two years there. The subject of the reunion came up, but no one else had a lot of enthusiasm for the idea. Oh, well, I thought, it's months away yet -- we don't have to decide right now.

Then, roommate E has a brilliant idea. Instead of going to Boring Collegetown, let's have a girls' weekend in Really Fun City. Everyone loves this idea! Wonderful!

Here is my dilemma. Although a weekend in Boring Collegetown might not have been DH's idea of a great time, it was still a chance to get out of town and have some fun. With the new plan, he gets to exchange that fun for a weekend alone at home with a toddler, while I zoom off to Really Fun City. (Which, by the way, is also where he grew up, and he loves it there. Extra ouch.)

But what to do? There's no sense in going to Boring Collegetown if none of my friends are going -- it will just be Extra Boring. And it doesn't do anyone any good for me not to go on the girls' weekend, does it? DH (this is where we find out how D he really is) says I should absolutely go, and that he doesn't mind all that much. This makes me want to cry, I feel so guilty.

Please tell me something super nice I can do for him to make this up to him.

Also, on a disturbing and completely unrelated note, I saw Hitler while I was waiting for my bus yesterday. He was wearing a classy business suit and looking at a very cute denim jumper in the Baby Gap window display. Hmmm.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Random Weird Thing for Monday

I went to college at a school whose mascot is an ear of corn. Not something scary like a tiger or a lion or a force of nature. Not even a bird or something at least animate. Corn.

Wanna know who dies?

Just kidding, no spoilers here. But I did finish the new Harry Potter yesterday afternoon. DH and I had a deal: he would pre-order from Amazon, but I would be allowed to read it first, since I read freakishly fast (I didn't take a course or anything, I am just a Big Dork). Even though I'm sure the mail truck was bottoming out from all the extra weight, our beloved postal worker delivered the goods about the usual time on Saturday afternoon. DH saw him pull away, and ran out post haste to get the mail. Upon his return:

Him: Well, it's here!
Me: Oh, good!
Him, waving the package at me: So, go ahead. Start reading.
Me, virtuous housekeeper: Yup, I will. I've just got to finish up with the laundry.
Him: NO! I can't start until you finish. Get going! NOW NOW NOW!*

And so, you see, it is my husband's fault that I stayed up way too late Saturday night reading. Therefore my guaranteed-to-be-poor performance at work today will also be his fault, since I didn't fully recover yesterday.

*This conversation might contain some slight inaccuracies, but it's my blog and I can modify memories as I see fit -- thanks for the tip, Professor Slughorn! (Ok, one tiny spoiler -- couldn't resist!)

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

U.S. troops in Iraq hit by suicide bomber while passing out candy to children; 28 dead

This was the headline in my local paper today. I'm currently trying to decide whether I should cry, vomit, or hit something. I'll try all three and let you know if anything helps.

Monday, July 11, 2005


The Hobbit has learned a new word. "Uh-oh," she said last week, when she dropped her spoon on the floor. DH and I were charmed. How cute!
And who knew this word could have so many applications? Dirty diaper? Uh-oh! Getting buckled into the car seat? Uh-oh! Left alone in the crib by a mother who mistakenly believes you might be interested in napping? Uh-oh, uh-oh, uh-oh, uh-oh, ad infinitum.
Och, I don't mind, though. Truthfully, the Hobbit is great fun these days. I can just see her mind working as she makes new connections and commits new things to memory. She communicates so much more than she did just a few weeks ago. In addition to the ever-popular "hi" (still a favorite, but with stiff competition from "uh-oh"), "mama" and "dada" are very clear and easy to understand. (They're usually rendered something like "maMA!" and accompanied by disdainful pointing at whatever it is we lowly servants are meant to retrieve for her highness.)
She signs much more now than she used to, too, and she's getting really creative about combining signs with sounds to get her meaning across. When she uses the sign for "more," she tries to say the word. And if her pronunciation and usage need a little refining, her inflection needs none at all! "Mo-mo-MO-MO-MO," she says, "and don't make me ask again!"
We're able to have conversations, which is really fun. "Do you want to take your bath now?" I might ask. The Hobbit then tries valiantly to nod her head, saying "da." (This seems to be her version of "yeah," but I have no idea how she stumbled upon the Russian word. Someday I half expect her to say, "Yes, thank you, Comrade Mother." Because everything I know about Russia I learned from The Hunt for Red October.) When she wants to say "no," she vigorously shakes her head and grins. I am struggling mightily not to laugh at that performance, and I'm trying not to overuse the word, so she'll take me seriously when I do have to say it.
The best thing is that she has a healthy sense of humor. When DH and I can't help but collapse into giggles at something she says or does, she joins heartily in the joke. She smiles tolerantly at us, as if to say, "I'm not sure what's so funny, but I am glad you dear people are happy."

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

A Shark's Tale
She's a hero, people! I heard this on the radio this morning, and I have spent more time today than my boss will ever know trying to find the story on the Internet. This guy must really be something, or else she's more "Desperate" than we thought.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Let Us Rant
I know, I know, we've all heard enough about the whole thing. I do just want to say, "Thank you, Brooke Shields."
What if somebody who needs treatment (whether it's drugs or not) doesn't ask for it because Tom Cruise said on TV that there's no such thing as a chemical imbalance? What if some woman does harm to herself or thinks she's a terrible mother, when she could be getting help?
Run away, Katie Holmes, run away!

Wednesday, June 29, 2005


While I was nursing, my doctor prescribed the "minipill" for birth control, since extra estrogen and breastfeeding are not a good combination. When we weaned, I asked her if I should switch back, but she said that the "minipill" can be just as effective. If I was concerned about the regularity of my cycle, though, "regular" birth-control pills would be a better choice.
Well, I wasn't then, but I sure as heck am NOW! My first several cycles on the minipill were as regular as they ever were before I started taking BC in the first place. This last one lasted almost 40 days -- unprecedented for me. I didn't feel pregnant, and I took two home pregnancy tests with negative results. Still, this has never happened to me before (except when I WAS pregnant), so I didn't really know what to think.
We have talked about when to start on #2, and insofar as it lies in our power, we would like to wait a little longer. This doesn't feel like the right time, although some of our friends are currently gestating their second kids. That was a factor in the Hobbit's timing, but it doesn't feel so important now. We wanted for her sake and ours to have kids that would be close in age to people we spend time with. Now, though, any additional kids we have would have siblings as playmates. Plus, we're older and a little wiser and we understand better what it will take to parent a second child. I wouldn't change a thing about my first pregnancy -- timing or results. Nonetheless, I would like to approach my second (and probably last) child with a little more precision, if possible.
Anyway, relief prevails at our house today, AF has arrived, and on Friday I am going to return to the doctor on hands and knees. All hail the green pill week!

Monday, June 27, 2005

A Little Help?

Dear Clothing Retailers,

It is still June. Summer has just begun. I would like to buy a new swimsuit. I am neither a perfectly-figured teenage girl with a belly button that must be shown off, nor yet quite old or overweight enough to desire a mou-mou shaped swimsuit with a frilly flowered skirt.

All I ask of you is a simple, flattering suit that hides my stretch marks. And, if it's not too much trouble, I'd love to make my post-pregnancy bottom appear a little smaller, and my post-breastfeeding boobs look a little bigger. Is that too much to ask? I don't think so.

I'll be shopping again later this week. Please keep these requests in mind. Thank you.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Why I Shouldn't be Allowed to Listen to the Radio

1. This morning, the fluff morning radio show DJs to whom I usually listen were busy disparaging a new study. The researchers who conducted the study found that married men make less than single men, and that married men whose wives also work tend to make less than married men whose wives stay at home and do most of the housework.
The researchers concluded that this second trend is due to a number of factors: the husband has more time to focus on his job, and he is also able to spend more time honing his marketable skills. Also, since each spouse is engaged in the activities to which they are most suited, the household is more efficient.
2. When the fluffy station went to commercial, I changed to the Christian station. Unfortunately, instead of playing music, the DJs there were discussing the President's plan for Social Security. Their conclusion on SS in general was that Americans expect the government to take care of them from cradle to grave, and are thus replacing God with government.
I should state for the record that 1) I firmly believe that having one spouse stay home can be very beneficial for some families, and 2) I really have no firm opinion about Social Security and what should be done about it. However, I will be fuming about these two stories all day now. The first one, because the researchers seemed to take for granted the assumption that all women are more "efficient" at household duties than they are in careers. The second, because I have always deeply resented the notion that being a Christian and being a political conservative necessarily go hand-in-hand. Perish the thought, but why is it wrong for us, as the ultimate authority in this government, to use our collective resources to support each other?

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Romeo and Parvati?

What is the appropriate response to this situation? Does anyone have an "in" with Dear Abby or Miss Manners, and if so, can you help me out?
A friend from high school, with whom I have had sporadic contact over the years, just sent me an email announcing his engagement. Congratulations, right!? Sure, except he met this woman via a Yahoo chat room, and has yet to meet her in person. She lives in India. No worries, though, God guided him to the chat room in the first place, and God has assured the two of them that they are in fact in love and are meant to be married.
I am a Christian, and I do believe that God can guide our decisions. However, I am also a realist (I don't think I'm a cynicist, but you tell me). It's a little hard for me to believe that an internet relationship with a would-be immigrant (if she is who she says she is) is completely without ulterior motives.
I sent him a supportive email, figuring it wasn't really my place to interfere. Did I do the right thing?

Thursday, June 16, 2005

What's in a Name?

The Hobbit is one-quarter Indian. No one would ever guess this about her by looking -- she is as fair-skinned as they come, with blue eyes and a crazy mop of deep red, almost auburn hair. Nonetheless, her paternal grandfather immigrated to the US from Calcutta as a graduate student, married an American woman, and DH was the result. (This Grandpa is coming to visit us tomorrow, which is what made me think of all this.)Anyway, I am enough of a traditionalist that I changed my last name to his when we got married. It's quite long, by American standards, and every time we meet someone new, we get a lot of surprised looks. Some of the typical comments:"Wow! How on earth did you ever learn to spell that as a child!?" (DH, by this standard, is a sort of super genius -- he could and still does spell it with amazing ease!)"Oh, Indian, really? What tribe?" (DH, being braver than I am, has responded "the Bengali tribe" to this question. Unfortunately, people who ask this question don't know any more about Native Americans than they do about India, so the sarcasm is lost on them. It's not that we expect people to know what nationality it is -- I mean, 4 years ago I couldn't have told you. But trust me, it is not a name that sounds remotely like any Native American name I've ever heard.)"Gosh, what was your maiden name? ... Really? Why on earth did you take his!?" (Um, because I thought it would be fun to inflict pain on my coworkers by making them learn to spell it? Is that a good reason?)And on one wonderful, shining day, when a telemarketer called: "Is there a Mr. {several stumbling attempts to pronounce monstrosity of a name} -- oh, I hate this effing job!" {phone slammed decisively down}And that, my friends, is the real reason why we keep it (aside from pride in hubby's heritage, blah blah blah). We put people to a secret test -- if they're willing to learn to spell and pronounce the name, we know they must really care.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

The Ducks are Coming

Okay, Universe, enough with the ducks. Whatever you're trying to tell me, please just say it -- I don't know what the ducks mean!
When the Hobbit started saying the word, I really didn't think it meant anything to her. We all got a good chuckle out of it, while my rational mind said, "Oh, she's trying out a new sound. How age-appropriate and cute." Now I think that my poor innocent baby is being used as a vessel to communicate some unholy waterfowl-related message.
Since I first posted that entry, I have started seeing ducks everywhere. They are on TV. They are IN MY DREAMS.
The last straw came today at work. In good Corporate America fashion, my department is being reorganized. As a result, I now have a new job in a new group, with a new boss. This new group is called Quality Assurance, but there is much debate about what Quality we, as members of this group, are Assuring. There is also rampant confusion about what we should be called (it is TOO important, so leave me alone).
My coworker's tongue-in-cheek suggestion today? Quality Assurance Consultants -- Q.U.A.C.
Help! Please tell me what this means!?

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Lost in Translation, Part Deux

When DH read yesterday's entry, he said, "'Duck'? I thought she was saying 'dock.'" Shoot, this is even more complicated than I thought!

Monday, June 06, 2005

Lost in Translation

Toddlers should come with Toddler-to-English dictionaries. The Hobbit's recognizable words at this point are "hi," "mama," and "da." She hardly ever actually says "mama", and "da" can mean anything from "daddy" to "what is that?" to "now I'm going to throw my cup on the floor and there's nothing anyone can do to stop me." Despite the multiple meanings, we can usually decipher these messages. Once the cup is on the floor, I have a pretty good idea what that particular "da" meant.
Others, however, are not nearly so clear. This weekend, she started saying "duck." I didn't teach her this word, and she never says it in reference to any ducks that I can see. Possibly she has some imaginary mallard pals? If so, there must be an awful lot of them, because "duck" has almost replaced "hi" as the word of the hour. Either way, I can feel really good, I think, about the fact that my daughter thinks it's so much more important to be able to name aquatic birds than to be able to call my name. Sob.
The Hobbit definitely does exercise a fair amount of caution in the words that she chooses to learn. Since "hi" has turned out to be so popular, we thought she might be interested in learning to say "bye-bye." Nope, nothing doing. She will sometimes wave bye-bye, but that's it. I was talking to a friend of mine this weekend; she is the mother of a little boy who's about 9 months older than the Hobbit. Her son is exactly the opposite, in that he is very eager to dismiss people, but hates to greet them.
I think she should try to teach him my grandfather's favorite phrase, "Here's your hat, what's your hurry?" Which, as I'm consulting my Toddler-translator, is rendered something like, "ha-duck!"

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Singin' the New Job Blues

It's been almost two weeks now since I started a new job. I'm still at the same company, but different boss, different department, different responsibilities. It's a very good opportunity for me, and I think I'm going to be good at it, ONCE THEY LET ME DO SOMETHING.
Therein lies my problem. I was at my old job for almost 5 years, and in that time I've forgotten what it's like to be the new kid on the block. I am officially in training, which means that when one of my new coworkers has work to do that I will need to know how to do, they come and get me and show me how to do it. We are rapidly running out of things that I haven't learned yet, so I sit at my desk a lot and read procedures (or blogs, but let's not mention that to my boss!).
I can't wait until I have real work to do again, but right now nobody really has anything for me (or else they don't trust me to do it? - NAH, that can't be it. :) ).
My husband also started a new job this week. My new position is a good step up for me, but his is HUGE -- a much better fit for him than his old job. Unfortunately, his new job is in a different location. We used to be able to commute together, but now I drive alone every day, and he can walk to his office from our house (unfair).
I have decided to use my new solitary commute time to improve my mind, so I went to the library and checked out some books-on-CD. Our library doesn't have a very big selection (conundrum -- the books are all on tape, and the new mommymobile mini-van doesn't have a cassette player -- what to do?). I was able to find some good stuff, though. Right now I'm listening to Langsten Hughes reading some of his own poetry. One of my favorites:
Hold fast to dreams,
for when dreams die,
life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.
I was surprised how moving it was to hear him explain his thoughts on his work, and to tell the stories behind some of the poems. He speaks a lot about his influences, as well, especially African-American music like blues and spirituals that affected the tones and rhythms he used.
A very wise man, Mr. Hughes. He understood that singin' the blues can put the whole thing in perspective so you can move on past it.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Ode to Technology

Did you know there's such a thing as a motion-activated paper towel dispenser? They just installed them in the office building where I work, and I had never seen one before. Fortunately my attempts to locate the lever set off the sensor and made the towel roll out. Otherwise I would've stood in front of the thing for minutes before figuring out the concept. What a crazy world! :)

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Toddlerhood Begins

So many of the bloggers out there have fun code names for their kids, an idea I have been meaning to steal since I started my own blog. It just seems more comfortable than putting your kids' names out there, not really because I think some crazy person will find my daughter just by her first name (God forbid), but more because it preserves her privacy a little. Anyway, my creative powers being somewhat lacking, the ideal code name has been eluding me, and all of the nicknames we actually call her are just too cutesy to admit in semi-public. This weekend, my husband and I were joking that it was time for DD's "Second Breakfast" (she eats what seems like a hundred small meals a day), so in lieu of something more clever, she shall henceforth be referred to as "the Hobbit."
On to MUCH more important things, the Hobbit took her first steps yesterday!!!!! I missed the very first ones -- it happened at day care. When we picked her up, they told us that she had taken 3 steps. Our first reaction, of course, was to plunk the poor child down on the floor and try to make her perform the feat again. And she actually did it! She walked another 2 steps into my arms, and she did it a few more times when we got home. Holy smokes, was she proud of herself! Even before she showed us she could do it, she was beaming a thousand-watt smile. The Hobbit is always happy to see us at the end of the day, but never quite THAT excited.
The walking is not the only sign that my baby is becoming an official toddler. She has developed some very strong opinions, and she is decidedly not shy about expressing them. Her lung capacity and vocal chords are in fine working order, I'm thrilled to report. Sigh. I know it's a good thing for her to learn to think for herself and to try new things -- I'd never want to hold her back from either of those endeavors. I'm just nervous about striking the necessary balance. How do I encourage her to branch out, while also encouraging her to drink her milk and keep her seatbelt fastened?

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Selfish Mommy

The Hobbit (my DD) adjusts well to new people, usually. Although she might squirm or cry when she's first handed from Mom to Grandma, she can be easily distracted with a new game or toy. She hardly ever cries when we leave her at daycare. In fact, I sometimes linger outside the door on the way out, wishing that she was a little less interested in climbing into the toybox and a little more heartbroken that Mommy wasn't staying right beside her all day. On the whole, though, I would much rather have it this way than to have to disengage myself from a sobbing, clinging little vine every day. I've done that, and it sucks.
On the other hand, the Hobbit still undoubtedly prefers my company. She never complains about leaving Daddy to come to me, only the reverse. She gives hugs, but only to me. Her timing with these hugs is impeccable, too, the little manipulator! This morning, my mom stopped by our house so that DH could install a car seat in her car. She came in for a few minutes to say "hi," and she never made a move toward the Hobbit at all. (As the Hobbit was covered in raspberry yogurt and sodden Cheerios, I can hardly blame her.) Nonetheless, as soon as my mom entered the kitchen, the Hobbit threw her little sticky arms around my neck and laid her head on my shoulder. Message received.
My guilty little secret is that I LOVE this. To spare DH's feelings, I might act a little exasperated when she twists out of his grasp and heads straight for my ankles -- actually, come to think of it, sometimes it is a little cumbersome trying to unload the dishwasher with her suctioned onto my knees. Underneath it all, I'm grinning, though, as if I've won some kind of contest.
It's not that I don't want her to love her Daddy. On the contrary, it still moves me to tears every time I watch them together, and I love the way they play together. She laughs more readily for him than for anyone else; it's so sweet. But some little part of me feels it's my inherent right as the Mother to be the best Comforter, Hugger, Bathgiver, Bedtime Story Reader, etc., and it's gratifying that the Hobbit feels the same way. Am I hopelessly sexist and old-fashioned, or is my family simply settling into the roles we were born to fill?

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Whatever this hideous disease is that's making the rounds in my circles, I've had enough of it! DD had a cold, which of course developed into an ear infection and (shudder) pinkeye. I HATE pinkeye; it's so gross! And, like every ear infection the poor thing has had, we didn't even know she was sick until the pinkeye showed up. She never pulls at her ears or anything -- we always take her to the doctor for some other cause, like a rash or throwing up, and it turns out it's a complication of the ear infection. Worse, it's never the same thing twice, so we can never say, "Oh, she's got another rash -- better have her ears checked!" We tried that, and that time the rash was just a virus, and there was nothing they could do. Ah, the joys of parenting.
Anyway, this time I caught the stupid bug too, and spent all day Friday confined to my bed. I literally felt like an adventurer when I dragged my sorry self all the way to the kitchen for some crackers. Now, almost 6 days later, I'm still coughing like a 50-year smoker (never had a cigarette in my entire life), and I have pinkeye too (again, shudder). Plus, it hasn't stopped raining here in what seems like weeks. If I could only see the sun, I think my outlook would be greatly improved. (Am seriously considering moving to Alaska; that way, I'd have about 12 additional hours of potential sunlight each day.)
Once upon a time I boasted that I hardly ever got sick. I was young and foolish then, and I didn't have a baby bringing home a day care's worth of germs. Oh, well.
Maybe part of it is that I didn't used to mind being sick all that much. If it's just me, I can hole up for a few days, get over it, and move on. Now, though, I have to hoard my days off in case the baby is sick, so I didn't want to take more than one for myself. And even when I am at home, DD is way too little to understand that Mama is sick; she still needs just as much attention as always. DH manfully took on more than his usual share, but she's still a Mama's girl, so there's only so much he can do.
Does everybody run into this dilemma? What do you do about it?

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Wading into the Great Parenting Divide

Does anyone else sometimes feel that parenting is yet another "polarizing" issue in this country these days? There are so many, it's hard to keep track -- it seems we can't agree on Iraq, abortion, end-of-life issues, etc., etc. Not only can't we agree, but each side of each debate is so convinced of their rightness that they see the other side as immoral and practically inhuman.
Being a moderate, myself (yes, there are some of us left -- if you are one, please contact me, I'd love to know you're out there!), I get very depressed some days hearing all the rhetoric spouted about these various issues. The logical part of me realizes that the extremes are just the loudest and most media-friendly positions out there, and that most of us really do fall somewhere in between. However, in the midst of somebody's diatribe on one issue or another, it's hard not to feel sick to my stomach with the thought that the middle ground is rapidly being rendered irrelevant.
It's especially worrisome to me that the question of how to raise our kids seems to be subject to the same phenomenon. I've heard office-job-holding moms complain that their stay-at-home friends never have time to do them favors. The prevailing sentiment seems to be that these moms must just be lazy. I've also heard a stay-at-home mom berate a working mom because she complained about a mistake her daycare made. The stay-at-home mom felt that if the working mom had been caring for her children herself as she should have been, it wouldn't have happened.
I don't hold myself blameless, either. When I was on maternity leave after my daughter was born, I didn't know how I was ever going to force myself to go back to work. I resented the heck out of my husband and mother when they pointed out all the things we would have to give up if I gave up my salary. I lined up a million arguments in my favor, without any regard to how they might hurt. My husband had certainly struggled the first day he had to return to the office, and my mom still clearly remembered the first day she dropped me off at the neighbor's house.
I did return to work, extremely ungraciously, only to find that my daughter is a socialite who LOVES daycare, and that my husband and I are better time-jugglers than I thought we'd be. It made me realize that it really isn't so black-and-white after all. So for those of us (and I'd like to think it's really most families) who are groping our way through the gray area, I'd just like to say I think we're doing ok. If you went back to work and you're happy, congratulations! If you chose to stay at home and you love it, excellent! If your choice (or lack thereof) is making you and your child miserable, I pray that circumstances will change so that you can quit/return to work/move to Africa and join a tribe of nomadic herdsmen as you see fit.
Now that I've had my little catharsis, I can acknowledge that examples abound of families who have complete respect for either position. I sincerely hope I haven't offended anyone with this entry. I'd love to hear opinions on any of this, but please be kind. I'm a sensitive soul :). Thank you!

Saturday, May 07, 2005

A Sad Day?

When my daughter was born, I had mixed feelings about breastfeeding. I really wanted to try it, but I had doubts about being patient enough to really keep at it for long. However, knowing all the potential benefits, I gave it a try.It worked out incredibly well for us. DD was a natural, and even though it was uncomfortable at first, we didn't really run into any of the problems with supply or infection that so many moms do. So I thought, well, we'll see how it goes when I go back to work. If I can keep up with the pumping, I'll do it. But if it's just too hard to get away 3 times a day, or if I dry up, so be it.Again, though, everything worked out better than I thought. I had to get used to the idea of supplementing with formula because I couldn't pump as much as I could produce when she actually nursed. But since I didn't really have my heart set on nursing indefinitely anyway, that didn't bother me that much. Besides, it was only 6 weeks or so later that we started introducing cereal and other foods. Even though at the time it seemed to take forever to get her used to something new, looking back I can barely remember I time when she WAS nursing exclusively.So, I decided I'd give it until 6 months, then decide what to do from there. Her 6-month birthday rolled around, though, and I barely gave any thought to weaning. I'd come this far, why not go the distance, right? My coworkers thought I was crazy -- by this point I hadn't had a drink in almost 18 months (between TTC, pregnancy, and nursing), didn't I just want my body back? Sort of, I guess, but by that point in time there was sheer stubbornness involved, too. I was on a mission to prove that we could do this.And we have made it all the way through the year. But the last 2 months or so I really did start to want my body back, especially when I started thinking about #2. That's quite a long way off for us yet, probably, but I WOULD like to have a little breathing room for myself in between weaning the first and starting to nurse the second. So I gradually started cutting out feedings one by one. The daytime ones were the easiest -- I stopped pumping at work on a Monday, and by the time Saturday rolled around I had adjusted to the idea of giving her a bottle myself. Really, it wasn't that big of an adjustment, since she often got a bottle anyway if we were out running errands or whatever.The middle-of-the-night feedings were the hardest. We never did get her to sleep through the night until I started weaning her. We had tried a few different things, but we just never had the heart (or the energy!) to see it through. She wasn't hungry at night, it was just about comfort, so we finally bit the bullet and "Ferberized" her (it sounds like torture, but I think the parents suffer more than the baby!). When she started to cry, we'd wait 10 minutes or so, then one of us would go in and pat her back or something for a couple minutes. Then we'd leave, even if she was still crying, and wait another 10 minutes. The first two nights, this process took 2-3 hours. We were exhausted (she was fine, waking up each morning with a big old grin - argh). I thought maybe this wasn't going to work after all. The third night she fell back asleep on her own before we even hit 10 minutes, and she's been doing pretty well ever since. Amazing!Anyway, to finally finish off a very long story, I nursed her today for what will be the very last time. In fact, we haven't nursed all week and she was just fine with it. But today I just couldn't resist. It kind of surprises me to be done so easily. If starting to nurse was difficult, but still easier than expected, quitting was physically a breeze. It's the emotional part that's getting me. I am very glad to be able to have a drink if I feel like it (I never could pump-and-dump, as so many people told me to do -- I couldn't bear to waste any of it!), and I love sleeping for 7 hours straight without getting up to nurse.Sigh. It all means, though, that my baby is almost not a baby anymore. And it wasn't all that hard for her -- so even though she obviously still needs me, she doesn't need me in that way anymore. Oh, boy. If I'm this weepy over THIS, wait till the poor kid tries to get me to let go of her hand the first day of school!!!