Saturday, November 10, 2012

On Pinterest, pregnancy, and the DSM: a general life update

I will be 30 weeks pregnant tomorrow.

I'm sure you've all heard of the instinct pregnant women experience called "nesting"; the urge to wash receiving blankets and put a few casseroles in the freezer so when the little one arrives everything will be ready.

But, when you move across the country at the end of your first trimester, discover that your home-to-be has been quite literally flooded with human waste, and spend the entire second trimester living in your gracious in-laws guest room...

When you catch (and your toddler does, too) a diabolical virus which gives you both radioactive-looking snot, unrelenting coughing, a need to use every single tissue in the Costco 12-pack of Kleenex boxes, and no more than two consecutive hours of sleep for six weeks as you fester in disease...

When you are unleashed on your new home with only one trimester to go before you arrive at the finish line, immobilized with sciatica, crippled by nausea, plagued by insomnia, knowing that soon two pre-verbal human beings under the age of two will feel within their rights to possess you, body and soul, and, indeed, to eat your very brains if they feel so inclined...

When you finally get dishes in cabinets and clothes in closets and figure out which switches control which lights, and take a breath, and realize that the previous tenants, your current next-door-neighbors with the ceramic flying pig collection, the stoners who, judging from the olfactory and auditory cues suggesting cannabis is being grown, smoked, and heartily enjoyed on the premises (heady smoke in the evening, the skunky green smell of a garage full of fresh plants in the morning, and always the air-circulating fans--welcome to California!) had the cleaning habits one associates with a stereotypical pothead...

The effect is like shooting meth.*

I have left the house in the last several days only to buy cleaning supplies, more and more and more of them. I have steam cleaned every surface. Washed windows and mirrors. Soaked stove knobs in bowls of vinegar overnight and greeted them at dawn with the ferocity of my toothbrush. Stood, fully clothed, in the running shower as I cleaned the grout, scoured the tub and tile, and irrigated the shower door tracks until, with a shudder, the last clod of the previous tenants' mold-and-pubic-hair mortar was sent to its watery grave. I've determined that, though q-tips have their place, most jobs are more effectively approached with a toothbrush. I've learned that vinegar, which has the advantage over bleach of not pickling the brains of my fetus or lungs of my small child, imparts a wearying aroma. That windex reminds me of my mom.

I have also benefited mightily from the tips and tricks I have gleaned from pinterest. I have heard many people say the site incites a competitive feeling in them, and leaves them feeling guilty and inadequate. I am pleased to report this is the furthest thing from my experience. I love seeing all the clever cleaning tips, and going through each to find which are most effective. Tonight my stove burners will reside in a freezer bag with the fumes of a few tablespoons of ammonia, and tomorrow morning I will wipe them clean with ease! I can't wait! It's like a million helpful aunties and grandmas now live in my phone, just waiting to tell me the best way to do everything! I cleaned a washing machine for the first time--I didn't even know that was a thing!

What I am getting at is that "nesting", the cute term for a cute phenomenon, does not describe what is happening here. The drive, the euphoria. It's a little much. As a trained though not practicing diagnostician of mental disorder, I would have to say it seems like I should meet criteria for something, but what? OCD? Not quite. Does it count as substance abuse if the amphetamine-like substance is the cocktail of neurotransmitters indigenous to your own gestating body? All's I'm saying is, I have gone off the deep end.

If you need me, I'll be at target. I need ammonia, a bleach pen, and a lemon.

*I don't know any of this drug business firsthand; I can't even eat chocolate after 2 pm or I can't sleep at night. I just have a proficiency with drug culture that I can't really explain.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Babies and their stuff

This post will be of no interest to those of you whose childlessness is actual rather than a lazy misnomer. However, I have been asked my opinion on this subject a few times, so figured I may as well compile my thoughts somewhere, and why not here, where my faithful readership (the few, the proud, the patient...) can weigh in with comments?

Baby stuff. What is necessary? What is helpful? I don't really know. Forrest was my first rodeo. We survived, so I can attest that my baby gear choices did not prove lethal. But here are a few things I had and didn't have, and my thoughts.

Clothes for tiny people:

I like zippered sleepers. Zippers are faster than snaps, and I found the gowns, while aesthetically sweet, rode up to the armpits. I am morally opposed to putting babies in clothing that isn't pajamas for a minimum of three months. They may never have the opportunity to dress so comfortably again in their entire life!

Receiving blankets complete the outfit. My mother-in-law, a daughter of the Utah pioneers, sewed me a huge pile of flannel receiving blankets which I used constantly for everything and without which I would have been Lost. If you have access to a daughter of the Utah pioneers, you may want to hit her up for some. If you are not so lucky, I also had good experiences with the pricey but useful Aiden and Anais brand of swaddling blankets. Swaddling is very calming, though I've heard it's important for hip development for the legs to be able to frog up, so don't get too wild with your papoosery and blame me when that kid gets hip dysplaysia.

Cloth prefold diapers are great because they are absorbent and there is a lot of absorbing that needs to happen. Especially if your kid spits up a lot, as mine did for probably eight months. I'd lay one under his head while he slept which greatly reduced my frequency of sheets-laundering, for better or for worse. I also had these quilted, waterproof, washable pads that were meant to go in a crib but I just used them everywhere, like drop cloths. Again, absorbent and sheets-protective. Highly recommended.

No footie pajamas once they start walking. So slippery! I've seen many a child tumble and crack their head on a slippery floor. Don't let this be you.

Feeding gear:

I had none, unless you count the $12 nursing bras I bought at Walmart; they were great and I can't think of how I'd improve them. No underwires can help prevent plugged ducts, FYI. I did not pump milk. Forrest never used a pacifier. When he started grabbing food out of my hands, I let him. Consequently, he has a penchant for Indian and Ethiopian cuisines. I didn't buy or make baby food. I nursed my brains out and lost ninety pounds, put that in your pipe and smoke it.

I like to keep a terry cloth pullover bib in my bag when we eat out in case he gets something drippy. At home, I generally just strip him down before eating. We have the plain plastic okra highchair, and it's good and easy to clean, but takes up more space than our even better (portable! Even easier to clean!) clamp on chair (Phil and teds brand). I'd recommend the latter unless your dining table is over a carpet, as ours was.

Baby transportation:

We have a britax marathon carseat and I've found it simple to install and adjust and have never wished for more. I also have no basis for comparison.

I have a simple umbrella stroller. It was a hand me down. It gets the job done and is small to store, so it lives in the trunk of the car. Perhaps others have more passionate reviews of strollers. Mine works but has never made me euphoric.


We borrowed a swing, used it for a couple months. Could have lived without it but it was kind of nice. Same for the wipes warmer. In general, I'd say borrowing is the way to go, if it's possible. Ask on Facebook if anyone has anything they love and wouldn't mind you test-driving.

Those were the only gadgets we had, unless you count a white-noise maker (which is a must-have). Only. I don't know if my quality of life would have been improved by more, but I doubt it. When he cried, nursing always seemed to fix it, no matter what the problem was. I liked not having a bunch of stuff in my house that I'd only use again for brief intervals.

I lied. Just remembered about nightlights! Have them! The kind you can turn on and off manually, not the light-sensing kind, which are put on earth to plague me. I didn't have these, but I think the kind you slap-on/slap-off would be good, the big round ones.


This one is for real. I had a couple pouch slings (needed different sizes as I lost weight precipitously, thanks breast feeding, good riddance Costco pizza, my pregnancy nemesis). I liked the simplicity of the design and found them easy to use and comfortable. A ring sling would adjust in size, so if you suspect precipitous weight loss, maybe get a maya sling instead of a pouch. When Forrest got bigger, I bought an ergo performance. I'm sure the regular ergo would be great; I was suckered by the promise of more breathable materials but in retrospect don't think it matters. It was nice to be able to carry Forrest on my back and have my hands free to do awesome, liberating things like the dishes. Childedness is even more glamorous than childlessness, in case you were wondering.


I had a thing from ikea (the trofast system, I think?) to store clothes, blankets, diapers, books, etc. but that's it. I didn't have room for or interest in a crib, changing table, or whatever else people put in their nurseries. I wish I hadn't nursed Forrest to sleep all the time (as in, every time) because he still doesn't really know how to go to sleep any other way, but I would have him in my bed again--just wouldn't nurse him all the way to sleep. You live, you learn.

We got a lovely La-z-boy recliner which I used a lot. I'd rather have a piece of furniture I can keep using after the baby is out of the baby stage than a bunch of baby-specific furniture. Some people say their recliners were lifesavers and, while I wouldn't go that far, it was nice. I was gifted a lovely breast feeding stool which made it much easier for me to rock the babe, but I'm only 5'3".


Just buy the depends. This is no time for dignity.

Other thoughts:

I take so many more pictures than I would if I didn't have this magical iphone. You can back up pictures and videos online, send them to grandmothers effortlessly--I will always have a phone with as good a camera as I can while I have children, so help me, even if they have to sleep in laundry baskets! Set up a system to keep photos and videos backed up and organized. You will take eight trillion which can be mighty overwhelming, plus you'd be amazed how fast you look at a picture and can't quite remember when it was taken, which is no fun. I organize nine in folders by month, but whatever you do, just have a system.

If you live in Utah, go to Fotofly. They are cheap and do a lovely job. Best deal I've found by a landslide and one thing I already miss about living there.

I'll add to this if I think of more but, in the meantime, it's your turn, parents. Comment away!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Every party has a pooper

Before leaving Utah I was keen to set up as many pieces of our situation in California as possible, knowing I'd arrive exhausted and debilitated and violent in a way one only experiences in the wake of packing one's earthly belongings.  The biggest detail, house-hunting, was taken care of; a happy little rental awaited us on August first, giving us a week or so to stay with Ryan's sister, recover, and quit fantasizing about torching everything we own.

Predictably, when we arrived, Ryan became so immediately consumed by work as to be unavailable to move our stuff from our garage, where we'd stashed it until the actual apartment was ready for move-in.  I, encumbered by a toddler in a way that mothers of toddlers will likely understand viscerally, am not well-equipped to haul large objects because my hands are generally full of an increasing large and opinionated person. So we stalled a bit on the moving-in, instead enjoying the bed-and-breakfast-like conditions provided by Ryan's sister, swimming in the pool, playing with the cousins, and happily avoiding the contents of that garage. At least, that's what I did. Ryan was working. You win some you lose some.

At any rate, by August 7 we decided enough was enough and so Ryan went over to our place with his dad and brother-in-law to move in our beds and a pile of boxes so I would have something to unpack and, to my chagrin, resume contributing to society.  Upon opening the front door, they saw standing water throughout the apartment. Further investigation confirmed the origin of the water which turned out not to be water so much as it was raw sewage.  Human waste. A storm of a most indelicate nature.

A backed up pipe, presumably, was to blame for the mess throughout the house. The bedroom carpets were soaked, and, horrifyingly, the toilet and bathtub filled to the brim with exactly what you're imagining.

We were mighty pleased with ourselves for not having moved any of our stuff in yet.  Chalk one up for procrastination!

I am hopeful that the hazmat team's efforts, insurance company's contributions, and landlord's diligence will allow us to move in eventually with confidence that no traces of a regurgitated sewer line remain.  In the meantime, if you need me, I'll be at the pool.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Extra, extra! News!

We're moving!

After years (six) of living in Utah and complaining about the weather, the politics, and the neighborhood crime (including our house being burglarized, our taillights being stolen while the vehicle was parked in our driveway, and, two days ago, four cop cars with officers spilling out, guns drawn, at a man parked across the street) we have finally created an action plan.  We are moving!  To the Bay Area!

In five days!

Thankfully, I began packing our belongings in April, hoping to Manifest a move in July (check!) so it has been a very leisurely process and is largely completed.  On Wednesday morning, Forrest and I board a plane to Oakland and lucky, lucky Ryan climbs into a U-haul and we head for Life 2.0.

This is all very exciting, but, of course, a touch bittersweet. Any out-of-state move that isn't bittersweet is most likely a sign of a life not lived to its fullest potential, I guess, but, still, the sting stings.  I will miss my many wonderful friends here, not to mention my baby niece, but I have no ambivalence, which is either evidence of a good decision or my unwarranted self-confidence, but seems a good sign in either case.

We found a place to live that is one mile from Ryan's sister (and Forrest's two cousins) and the gym, two miles from the public library and the farmer's market, and three miles from Costco and Target, which is the exact prioritization I would have selected.  It will rain instead of snow, which is my strong preference.  And the ocean will be a short drive away, which is always heartening.

So!  The next time you have a conference, or a family reunion, or a hankering to see the Jelly Belly factory, come on down and I'll make you pancakes.

Also, Ryan is currently watching me type this which hampers my creativity and is also distracting because he is eating a sandwich of canned baked beans and cheddar cheese.  You couldn't think if someone were sitting four feet away from you eating that, admit it.

California, here we come!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Dear Friends, Love, Amy.

Dear Friends,

I'm sorry I haven't heard your voice in years, or seen you in what seems like decades. I read your blog posts, and every article you link to on Facebook. I think your band is cool and your kids are adorable. I love the haircut.

I miss seeing you in person, and part of me feels like it's a little weird that all I have of you now is a couple witty one liners here and there, or an idea for dinner you'd like to make, dutifully pinned on your "recipes to try" board. Seriously, though, you live in Texas. Or Costa Rica. Or fifteen minutes south of me; any of these destinations is prohibitively far. Honestly, sometimes the kitchen is prohibitively far from the bedroom, so I stay under the covers and read "Play Ball, Amelia Bedelia" again. I love that one. Run home, Amelia Bedelia! It slays me.

My phone doesn't get reception reliably in the house, damn AT&T. So I don't call you. It's too heartbreaking to hear you say, "sorry, I think you're breaking up...". Just too disappointing. Plus, my baby stares at me the whole time, on the brink of whining, which is just one metro stop before melting down. It's really distracting. And he won't let someone else watch him so I can talk to you. I don't even go to the bathroom by myself, because he wants to come along. If I get out of bed when he's sleeping, he wakes up, devastated. I don't shower much (some things never change).

The thing is, I'm tired but I'm happy. I like making dinner and stacking blocks, and I don't mind dishes or laundry. I'm isolated, yes, but I'm too tired to do much, so I don't want to. I wouldn't have ever thought solitude would suit me, but I'm really quite content most of the time. I think it's my lifeline that keeps me sane.

I know some people hate on Facebook and, I agree, it's not as satisfying as seeing you in person. We used to sit on the floor and talk, or stay up late because we would be bored in bed without each other. But now, honestly, I'll take what I can get, and what I can get is Facebook. Email. Pinterest. On my phone. In bed, while the baby sleeps.

I feel updated on your life, and I love it, even if it's a little delusional. Delusion isn't as bad as it sounds. I have always likes feeling like I am in the loop and, except for one little person whose every sneeze I have witnessed, I can't be in anyone's real loop. So, please, keep posting. I'll keep dreaming.

I am thinking we would love living together someplace beautiful, kind of rural, but maybe that's just me. If so, I think it'd be fun to plan yearly retreats, but to accommodate each of you, I'd be going on a lot of retreats, and, frankly, I don't see that happening for awhile.

So here's what I propose. These next years, I think we will have to stick it out. I just can't see another way with you living in Texas. But, I think things will open up in a decade or two. Ryan will be a workaholic still, my kids won't want to watch me pee. I'll come visit.

We'll order takeout. Go for a walk. Take a pottery class, or stained glass, which I've always wanted to try. We'll make tea, tell stories about the yesterdays we shared and those we didn't. We'll go to the farmers market and make dinner. You'll convert me to a cause, I'll convert you, too. I'll twist my long braid, maybe it will be gray. We'll go skinny dipping.

I've missed you, but you don't feel so far away. I'm keeping you tucked away in my heart, where the belly laughter is. I can't wait to hang out again, and I thank you for all your patience. It's just that, at the moment, I have to teach this kid how to dance in the kitchen, or he may never learn.

Keep typing into the abyss. I'm reading, and I love you.

Talk soon, I hope.



Wednesday, November 30, 2011


I have set a new-decade resolution to cease and desist with all gossip. Saying something critical about someone, particularly when I would not say it to the person directly, is cowardly, tasteless, and insane.

I need a form of self-flagellation if I mess up. Something that stings, is relatively simple to execute, but not corporeal. I am open to suggestions.

In the meantime, if you hear me say something about someone that I wouldn't say to them, feel free to give me a quick slap.

Happy new decade!

Friday, November 25, 2011

The real deal

I turn thirty next week. I love my birthday and have always been committed to celebrating thoroughly. Last year on my birthday I was pregnant (miserable, and too large to fit into my birthday suit! Horrors!) and had to work for twelve hours. It was a real dud.

So this year I have been contemplating how to commemorate my glorious thirtieth birthday. What I came up with proves that my youth is already long gone.

1. Force Ryan to run errands with me. This includes babies r us (to buy an ergo), ikea, and JC Penney portrait studios (to pick up the holiday card envelopes they forgot to include with my order).

2. Force Ryan to help me clean the den and/or basement.

3. Maybe go out to lunch or something.

That's what I got. I'm glad I had so much unmitigated fun in my teens and twenties. These days, I'm apparently all business*. I hope I don't want to clean the bathroom when I turn forty.

At least I'll be running errands in my birthday suit. That thing makes a party out of anything.

*Upon a re-reading of this post, I realize that it's not so much business I'm into as forcing Ryan to do my bidding. I can't help it. I'm an oldest child.