Sunday, December 10, 2006

Circus Peanut

Molars and such

Lil Pet’s got a massive molar peeking through her pink gums and has spent the last few days glued to me like permanent PVA adhesive. She also peaked a 102.3 temperature yesterday, so some unknown virus has also made its way into her system. It was like she was one of those newborns again, clingy and fussy and a bad sleeper. I played nurse on Friday, taking long baths with her, letting her camp out on my chest for hours, rocking her in the rocking chair in between short stints of play when the ibuprofen was at its best. It was a long day indeed, especially since my mind was elsewhere, like on those two books I need to pull out of the artosphere by next week.

The map got done and the mid term is in the hands of the capable librarian Max, who is fond of saying things like “the magical revealing quality of the turning page” and quoting the opening pages of John Baskerville’s printing of Milton’s Paradise Lost, which is accompanied by wood block prints and wonderfully readable typography and design.

The first book I need to do is based on poem by William Carlos Williams entitled “The Pure Products of America go Crazy” written in 1923 and in still relevant in a Adbusters sort of way (you gotta love a Canadian magazine that takes the piss out of all things American). And the other, well I was thinking of following in the tradition the Hynerotomachia Poliphili, or the dream book like one of the favorite books I saw this semester “Smoke in My Dreams,” by Mark Wagner who is part of the Booklyn Artists Alliance.

Lil Pet is looking better this morning, bopping around the house and getting back to her explorations of the toilet, dog food and water dishes, miscellaneous climbing of tables, chairs and rocking horses. Juju will be back today from a trip to Chicago with a friend to see the Blue Man Group and a visit to Navy Pier and we will hopefully go out in search of the perfect Christmas tree tonight before the temperature drops back down to single digits.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Fall Fotos

Here are a few fall related fotos from the monpon front.

Friday, November 24, 2006

mapping mulberry

Happy post tofurky food hangover day!

With all the festivities of autumn, I have been procrastinating on my school work. Still thinking about starting that take home exam on the history of reading and books, and still working on my map, which has turned from a printmaking project into a sewing one. I have a new appreciation for Mulberry paper, however (and rice paper in general, which is really made from the mulberry tree) as I rubbed it with oil, sprayed it with water and ink, threw it in the bathtub for a rinse, dried it with a hair dryer, abused it more with obsessive stitching and not once has shown signs of disintegration like many other papers would. It is still “in process” though, as are most things in my life.

Today, I am recovering from the thanksgiving hangover, thanks to JP’s birthday cake, Judy’s pumpkin tarts and Jessica’s organic whipped cream which was just the dessert end of the feasting. Little Pet seemed to enjoy the tart cranberries, warm carrots, nibbles of turkey, wild rice and pie, even chewing on an asparagus stalk for some time, but wasn’t so sure about those mashed potatoes everyone loves. The boys enjoyed seeing both side of the family, as one side lives six blocks from the other, and my dad joined us for both.

The house is still decorated with streamers and droopy helium balloons from little Pet’s party and she is exploring all the little goodies she got as presents. She carries around her farm animals and drops them in the little cart to push around the house. She loves the little people bus and can bang on the bongo with her maracas while rocking out to dad’s TVon the Radio and Cut Chemist. And of course, mom and dad love the hand made butterfly-sleeved vest Amu crocheted, which every toddler ought to have, and the soft down snow suit and boots from Nana and Grammy.
I am still finding odd objects in my laundry chute; things like my jury summons, a palette knife, notes on Japanese stab binding, little bells tied to a ribbon and lots and lots of bits of tape. The story goes that Juji and friend were sending notes to each other up and down the chute via helium balloons and needed weights and such for the decent. Ko, according to Juji and pal, was the one who went willy nilly with the tape and the random objects down the chute. But I know the balloon hanging at eye level with the fork taped to was and could only be the work of sir Juju and company.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Birds in the leafosphere

The Pet Turns One

Today is little Pet's first birthday. An unusually warm day that allowed us to crunch through fallen leaves, chase after stelladog in the yard and eat a little dirt and sand just for old times sake. I raked a gargantuan amount of leaves to cover my strawberries and dumped a ton into the neglected compost bin, snipped a few broccoli florets for soup this weekend and even got the diapers and sheets up on the line for some fresh sunny air.

Seems as if the midterm crush is letting up a bit and I am enjoying my time alone with my sweet little one-year old. She babbling in N's and M's and is now saying mama and nana, along with the usual dadas, Jujus and even an attempt at Stella (ella or yaya). "Is it" is about her favorite word these days. She says it when she wants to read a book, as she climbs onto the bed dragging a book behind her. She says it when she wants to know what something is, or if she wants to see something up close, pointing with her whole arm and leaning towards it.

I have rediscovered the adjustable fleece pouch and found a hip position that works well for us right now. She is happy to be up a little higher and it is preventative medicine for the fussy, clinging to the pant legs that has developed recently.

I finished up a self portrait in acrylic last week and a photo project a la Andy Goldsworthy and am now attempting to map my mind, a vague open-ended assignment that I have been experimenting with. I am thinking about mapping the state parks and trials that we camped and hiked through as kids using tracing paper, India inks, sewing, laser transfers and matte gel medium. I am having fun with this one, coming home with my hands all full of glue and paint like a good art student (or kid) should.

So happy birthday to Little Pet, one year old, one layer of life wrapped up in a tiny body and little sponge-like brain. I will remember her shock of dark hair and persistence in eating. The soft and dreamy feel of a newborn sleeping on my chest, the thick thighs and blue-brown eyes. Little Pet, now walking and ready for the world. Her birthday party is planned and I know she will love it, as she has loved being with her family and friends since her early first days.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Just Sleeping?

Books and Babies

Ok, so Little Pet is climbing on her rocking chair right now, standing backwards and rocking, trying to pull JB's neuro texts down. Juju is lounging in front of an old tape of Theodore the Tugboat, supposedly watching little Pet (payment 10 skittles/hour), so I can get a few things done. I did hear him do a nice reading of "Nuts to You" as I was walking down the back stairs to throw the laundry in, so he really is earning those treat for his lunch! Little Miss Petunia is addicted to books these day and grunts with excitement when she sees the busy spider, hungry caterpillar or brown bear. She also adores the lift the flap books by Karen Katz, especially the "Where is Baby's Pumpkin" book that's got shiny bats, velvet kitties and glossy candy apples. Yay- Halloween! There is another series of books that she likes called Find the Kitten (Puppy, Bird...) that we found second hand. They are old and some of the art is odd, but they are fun to look at, except the last page of the Bird book shows the pidgen on a window sill in the rain with it's head tucked under it's wing. Juju and JB think the bird looks dead, but of course the bird is just sleeping in the rain, at least I hope!

Congratulations to the newest member of the extended Monpon family: Vida Mae, the III! And to all the new babies this past year: Jack, Brodie, Noah, Sydney, Sophie, Isaiah, Audrey, Tess and Theo. Yea Babies!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The Two Step

You think I'm going to read this but really I'm going to hurl it over my shoulder, hee, hee, hee

The Blur

The Sun and The Moon

I am missing the sunlight these days, that darned tilting planet, the cool mornings and those rainy afternoons. Not to worry though, a lightbox, African Gold music, Coffee, mini pumpkins, leaf collecting and psychopharmacology are all easing the transition. I’ve even wondered if it couldn’t be a delayed post partum depression of sorts, since I’ve weaned. But most likely it is all of it - the changing seasons, the changing body, the changing relationship with Lil Pet and the shifting focus from home to school, which has been rather demanding of my attention lately with readings, lino prints, drawings, exhibits and now some acrylic painting. It is all good, but it is all time consuming.

As for Little Pet, when I don’t find her fishing her nuk out of the toilet, squirreling dog food pellets away in her cheek, maniacally pulling books off shelves, or trying to climb out of her high chair for the 5th time during dinner, she is happily toddling from room to room with a grin on her face, proud of her two step (until she crashes head first into a wooden door frame, table leg or chair arm). Apparently, she thinks she can outrun Stella, the herding dog, but the bruises are giving her away.

The sleep thing could use some improvement it seems. For the past few nights she has woken up screaming bloody murder at least a trio of times. JB and I often have our most dramatic interactions at 2:15, 4:25 and 5:02 a.m., and they likely include profanity, throwing things and stomping around the flat frantically looking for some useless prop like a nuk or a bottle of anti-gas voodoo, all the while ranting about who needs to step up to the plate here and help out for once, while the other sits stunned with a screaming, writhing baby who just jolted them out of a deep and peaceful slumber. Then when the light goes on and the little beast actually wakes up, she is all smiles, ready to climb over to yank on the clock cord or investigate the dark hallway until eventually she comes back, climbs and squirms around us for a while until finally settling back into “sleep.”

So for now, goodnight moon and the room and the red balloon, and goodnight house and mouse and mush and brush and freaky old lady whispering hush. Goodnight sleep deprived parents with racing, rattling brains, and goodnight dear moon, in all your full, reflecting and glowing splendor.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Fall Song

I drive out of the city on county roads,
hypnotized by the smooth and curving blacktop.
White lane markers contain me.
Rain and dark skies push on my windshield
and I try to view the softer clouds over the lake.

I drive through this farmland,
past horses and fields of corn,
past drying cattails and purple wild flowers,
past sloping hills in brown, green and clay
past trees, now yellow, burgundy and rust orange,
to remember.

The cool autumnal air moves me to fetch sweaters and teabags,
collect pumpkins and the perfect yellow maple leaf.
I walk past neighbors gardens
examine the seedy core of the orange zinnia
and the tough skin of the mum petal.

The squirrels have been busy shelling acorns
and little Petunia wants to eat what they have left,
along with the seeds and berries and rocks that catch her attention.
She walks now, without my help,
walks and crouches down to pick up a thin leaf
and puts it in her mouth.

I walk slowly, at Little Pet’s pace
trying to see.
She looks deeply at her world
and the moment holds her.

Today I follow her
down the sidewalk,
as she toddles
with stick in hand
towards the yellow daisies and
acorn shells.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Bittersweet ShayShells

Fall is a bittersweet time for me and I can feel myself shifting. Shifting back into the past, back into myself, back into a certain sadness of loss and change. Fall is when my younger brother died, fall is the start of a new school year, fall is the change from warm to cool, fall is the time the sun starts to show less and less of it self. Fall is decay and rumination, returning to the soil. I feel it every year and it is a collection of past experiences, bodily changes and patterns in the brain. So, I’m working on getting the hang of this new semester, being away more and divided in my time and activities, torn sometimes between the sweetness of home and the newness and challenge of classes. Torn sometimes between the constant needs at home and the lack of time to do artwork. I’m working on my body still, trying different treatments for the hormonal and seasonal changes that took place since I stopped breastfeeding. And I’m working on enjoying the changing season: a drive to the farm for gourds, leeks and apples, a walk to collect the leaves that have fallen, a hike perhaps - these would do me good.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

What to do on a rainy day

It has been raining for days now, grey skies for almost a full week, downpours, thunderstorms, drizzle and garden variety steady rain. It started on Saturday and didn’t really break until Friday. Sun makes everything better, but if you can’t have sun, here are a few things that help; Charles Trenet (French Chanteur of the 40's and 50's), 60's Ethiopian Jazz (Mulatu Astatqe), Putamayo’s Cape Verde (Blend of African and Portuguese folk), drinking coffee, having lots of homework to do so that you don’t even realize its been raining for four days now, screwing it and just going for a leisurely walk in the rain and letting the baby explore puddles, drain pipes and sewers, being happy for the plants in the garden, sleeping in and probably a million other things that I don’t have to think about now because it is sunny and 80.

I started off the semester with a trip to the Chicago Institute of Art and a walking tour of some of Chicago’s outdoor sculpture. We saw the Picasso sculpture , the "Four Seasons" Chagall mosaic (although the rain and the pigeons living on top of it distracted from it’s splendor) and sculpture by Calder, Miro and Henry Moore. I was struck by a figural glass sculpture, Repose in Amber, by Martin Blank (who worked under Chihuly) and its textures and shell-like colors as well as the Mother and child images of Mary Cassatt at the Institute. (Yes, it made me pine for little Pet who stayed back with Dada and Juju).

I also started my book arts survey which takes place at the special collection room at the university library. They have a replica of the Book of Kells and other illuminated manuscripts and prayer books from pre Renaissance as well as a multitude of livre d’artistes, an early graphic novel by Lynd Ward and one of a kind books by artists that incorporate pop-up, sculptural elements, text, digital images, drawings, found objects and just about anything else. It was fun debating the future of the book and why book arts may be the "quintessential 20th century art form." Hey, it beats arguing with Sir Juji about why he must stop flooding his sandbox and stuffing his clean clothes behind his bed.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Cruller

My body again

It has been a few weeks since I have officially stopped breastfeeding little Petunia and I am noticing all sorts of changes in my mind and body. My appetite is down and the bloating has decreased, but so has my energy. This could be related to being back on the menstrual-go-round, as the first period was a heavy one. I was craving red meat and spinach instead of the usual sweets and carbs. I am also watching for signs of the nasty PMS I was experiencing before this pregnancy. I have to say it has been a nice 18 months of stable hormone action, a gift, I guess from the progesterone and prolactin goddesses!

I start back at school part time and I am happy to begin mildly abusing my body again. Now I can resume my daily practice of skipping meals, drinking too much coffee, popping pills for this and that and inhaling the toxic fumes of dyes, paints and inks. Maybe I’ll even get drunk! Oh, so much to look forward to :).

Seriously, I am going to need all that caffeine so I can keep up with the Pet these days. She tears through the house on all fours, pulling books and cd’s off the shelf, dumping the dog’s food and water, grabbing the toilet bowl scrubber and putting all sorts of things in her mouth: screws, coils, batteries, cords, coins and legos. She tries to climbs out of her stroller, out of the bed, out of the bath, and off the changing table. She is a blur of banana puffs, strewn nuks, diapers halfway on and the bumps and bruises of an unflappable explorer. So we try to stay one step ahead of her, get her outside to feel the rain and walk in puddles, to see the ducks at the lagoon under the weeping willow, to walk with her by the lake and show her the grey crane that stands so still on the rocks as the boats sail past. But most of all, I’m thinking: it is time to get this monkey her own jungle gym.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Canoe to the sky

Ely, Minnesota

We spent the last week in the Boundary Waters at little place called Clear Stream in Ely, Minnesota. During the 10 hour drive, past the tall pines and white birch trees on the side of the highway, music playing and the baby babbling, I felt my mind empty out of all the chatter and noise of daily city life. That lasted but briefly and then Little Pet needed feeding and Juji wanted a snack and we needed gas. I did one quick sketch on a postcard size pad and then the car sickness started. So for most of the trip, I sat in the back with little Pet, eating mints and resting my head while Juji ate far too many jolly ranchers and got far to jolly for the front seat, and JB talked on his banana phone (One of Lil Pet’s chew toys) just to amuse himself and all the other drivers on I-94. (Reminded me of Smitty and Ronchez and the rotary phone in the orange Noth wagon back in the day).

Once in Ely, the whispering pines soothed us and the lapping waters and loon calls deep into the night lulled us to sleep. But in the morning Little Pet was everywhere, and everything was in her mouth. She squealed like a wild boar at the trees and the lake and chewed on pine cones and rocks. She crawled around in the pine needles and pulled herself up to taste the bark from a tree. She walked to the dock in the mornings with Dada and dipped her toes in the lake, tasted blueberries and watermelon and rode on boats. She loved it all.

As for Juji, he fished and drove a pontoon boat, helped with the campfires and got the sauna up to 200 degrees. He ate blueberry pancakes every morning, canoed to Pine Cone island, hiked the soggy Moose Horn loop and gazed at the milky way from the dock on Burntside lake.

As my agnostic husband so aptly quipped: "There may not be a god, but this sure is god’s country." And he’s right. Beautiful it was. But most memorable for me was the time spent in the little red house around a bowl of guacamole or a specially cooked meal and a half a dozen bottles of red wine, while babies were nursed to sleep and the dogs curled up under the table and Little Pet climbed from person to person and everyone was relaxed and worn out from hiking and fishing and canoeing and the fresh air off the lake rustled in the tops of the tall pines.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Double Digits Dude

May All Your Wishes Come True

It seems as if Juji has gone and turned 10 today. And I’m not quite sure how it happened. He’s well up to my shoulder for sure and has long fuzzy legs and cute little freckles on his face - somewhere between the child and the pre- teen (I guess they are called “tweeners” these days). Where did the baby that loved to see a red coin spinning on the coffee table go? The toddler that would shake with excitement with the sight of running water? The kindergartner whose friends always chanted a big “Hi Juju” every time he came to school? The little urchin who crawled into bed with us in the middle of the night until age 6?

He’s grown into the boy who sleeps with his dog every night, with the radio on and a stack of Hardy Boys books by his bedside. The boy who plays with wires and batteries and has alarms rigged up all over the house. The almost 5th grader who plays apple ball in the back yard (hitting little green apples with a bat for Stella to chase after), who still adores his sandbox and blocks and little cars and insists on bean burritos and malts every Tuesday night at Amu and Papa’s. The one who says: “shut your piehole dingbat,” “that sucks,” and “Duh, no,” to no pleasure of mine. The boy that never likes to be rushed and who can be slow to warm up. This boy, age 10, our Juliano, our Jules, our Juju, will always be the baby, the toddler and the school aged child all wrapped up into one black bean and cheese burrito, hold the tomatoes and just a touch of hot sauce please...

Thursday, July 27, 2006

My Little Scorpio

She’s a pistol alright. People kept warning me about the Scorpio's intense, curious, determined, and emotional character traits. And so far, they are correct. Little Scorp’s got quite the personality for an 8 and ½ month old. She doesn’t need much sleep, loves novelty and is constantly on the move.

Her newest wrinkle is an obsession with walking. Even her crawl now is more akin to a downward dog scuttle than any hands and knees business. She will pull herself up by chairs and tables, couches and beds, cruise until she runs out of real estate and then wails at the injustice of being stuck until we take her hands and help her walk. The first place she heads? Right to Juju’s room, only sidetracked momentarily to eat some dirt (pica anyone?) from a house plant, splash in the dog’s water bowl and try to pick up red pepper seeds from last night’s dinner.

She is also eating everything these days, including, but not limited to: crunchy brown leaves, dandelions, meatless soy protein disguised as salami, lime freezer pops, sand and me. Yes, she is a biter! Good heavens and I thought the newborn stage was intense!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Juju Tint

10 of Juji’s Favorite Things

1. His grandparents, all of them
2. Batteries and wires
3. Kapla blocks
4. Stelladog
5. Fruit
6. His cousin, Ko
7. Water and sand
8. Being read to
9. Computers
10. Movies and pizza

Friday, July 14, 2006

Mezzo Pet

10 things I know for sure about Lil Petunia, age 8 months

1. She is a bed hog
2. She is sweeter than pie
3. Her teeth are very sharp
4. She detests “tummy time”
5. She claps with her feet
6. She has no wrists or ankles
7. She loves the wind blowing
8. She pulls herself up by my hair
9. She doesn’t take no for an answer, especially in the middle of the night
10. She adores doggies

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

10 things I know for sure about Juji, age 9

1. He hates writing
2. He loves puns, jokes and absurdity
3. He likes the tried and true
4. He is long and lean with freckles on his face
5. He grinds his teeth at night
6. He likes to debate, argue and “split hairs”
7. He likes the smell of his dog, even when she doesn’t get a bath
8. He adores his grandparents, all of them
9. He is a fruitaholic
10. He sleeps with the radio on

Friday, July 07, 2006

Mulberry Street

Too many mulberries

The mulberries are ripening on the tree in the yard and the squirrels and birds are feeding on the dark, juicy berries. I can always tell it is mulberry season by the color of the bird poop on my windshield and by the purple stains on the sidewalk. Time to do a little eating off the tree myself.

I am still grieving over my lost garden this summer and had to vent at the painters yesterday for splattering paint on the watering can, lawn chairs and compost bin. The pile of stucco sitting in the middle of my garden, the boards that fell on my bed of strawberries and the soda and cigarette wrappers strew around the yard are really starting to really irk me. What a bunch of yahoos! JB was a painter once (back in the day when he was a teenager, before he had status and before he had a pager...), and although he may have altered his state of mind a little, these painter-dudes actually smell, talk and walk like they have had too much vodka. The downstairs neighbors identified them as Bosnian and said he spied them throwing Juji’s toy alligator back and forth over the fence, and that was between the “Maverick” smoke breaks and long lunches at our picnic table.

Thankfully, I can still enjoy the birds splashing in the bird bath, the blooming lilies and roses and the dark purple stains under my fingernails from picking and eating too many mulberries.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

a harley

I ‘Heart’ Libraries

My head is back in a book where it should be! JB has been off for a couple of days and I feel like my old self, back when I had long afternoons to spend in an air-conditioned library at a large table, reading. Free to come and go as I please for a cup of coffee, to surf the net, or simply to go to the bathroom without rushing. Little Pet is seven and a half months now and more than happy to hang out with dada.

I’ve been going gaga over the racks and stacks of newly released books and magazines and I’ve discovered a printmaking transfer technique that use Xerox copies, wintergreen oil and a wooden spoon, so I’ve also been hitting up the libraries for their copy machines as well. It isn’t like I haven’t taken the kids to the library lately, it is just that it has been a really quick in and out, before Little Pet starts with the screeching or the “da da da da’s,” and “haaaay’s” at the top of her lungs. Usually I would join in with her singing, but I figure the couple dozen other library patrons wouldn’t be quite as enthusiastic.

So I’m off to smell the dust and the ink of my local library, to search for images of cycle transmissions and scarlet foliage, to peruse the shiny covers of the new books and to sit in a comfy chair in front of a big glass window and read.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

The picture is from a storefront on the east side, the owner of which bikes his older husky around in a burley when it gets too tired to walk or run.

Pets are People Too?

Juji’s fish jumped. We found the salad bowl empty one evening and after a few minutes of scratching our heads and looking suspiciously at the dog, we found it on the floor under his desk. The dog didn’t do her usual guilt admission pose, so we assumed the poor thing flipped itself out of the bowl and off the desk. Juji hasn’t decided yet on a porcelain flush burial or nice garden plot ceremony, so the fish sits on top of the refrigerator on a paper napkin getting drier and flatter.

I’ll just add that to the “to do” list:
>Read “Night” for bookclub, which happens to be tonight.
>Have funeral for fish before it turns into a bony sliver (although I’d rather just feed it to the cat that lives downstairs).
>Tell JB to stop with the fruitbats cd that he has been playing incessantly for the past month(“We were born in the 70's...”, “I’ve been trying...”, “and I want you...”).
>Catsit for downstairs neighbor (and they want me to crush up pills and put them in organic yogurt..).
And those are just the highlights...

The thing is that Juji took really nice care of the fish. Blew air into it a few times a day with a straw, crushed up flakes of food for it, and even got up out of a sound sleep to feed it one night. But such is life with pets, we outlive them and that can be sad.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

painted porch

Stuck in Park

Little Petunia is getting another tooth. I can tell because she is cranky, clingy, drooly and unable to sleep for longer than a few hours. She writhed around in bed fussing, trying to pull herself up by her diaper and flopping from side to side until she landed on her belly, face down in a puddle of spilled milk. Then the crying began in earnest. Poor baby, poor mama, at 1 and 3 and 5am with the diapers, the bottle, the rocking, the shushing and the teething.

Juji finally crashed after 3 days of partying which included throwing paper airplanes off the 23rd floor of a downtown condo, drinking root beer at a bar at 11pm with a bunch of sloshed neurologists, and winning a new pet (a fish in a bag of blue water) from the neighborhood street festival, which now lives on his desk in my salad bowl.

JB graduated, but returns to the same hospital for a one year fellowship with the same doctors, same salary and same politics. As the chief resident said “I’ve learned a lot about academic medicine, and it ain’t pretty.” Unfortunately JB’s program has outgrown itself and changed leadership in his last year, making for some ugly battles and unexpected changes.

Painters have descended on our house with their ladders and their scraping and their paint chips. The landlord chopped down the roses and lilies so they could paint the porch spindles and my garden sits ready and unplanted, waiting for the painters to scrape the stucco off the garage wall.

This weekend, the parking brake on the car got stuck in ‘on’ and we were unable to drive it anywhere without an ear-shattering screech. We also found out that our new and lovely downstairs neighbors are moving out already in 2 weeks. So, around we go again with the teething and the waiting and the crashing and the academic medicine, and a new set of neighbors, and expensive car repairs and the strange feeling of staying put.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Compost to Carrots

Let them eat dirt

It is the last day in May and the rain has saturated the ground and pushed the hot air south. The earth in the garden has been turned and the compost sifted and spread. Last night’s baseball game was cancelled after a few innings. Lightening was spotted and the boys were benched. Little pet, JB and the grandparents and I stood out in the rain under umbrellas watching Juji’s teammates slip around in the fog and mud. Little Pet was mellow in her back carrier tucked under my umbrella, content to play with my hair and occasionally grab at the rain.

JB will officially be finished with residency in a few weeks and is trying to unwind from the last three months of call. We marked his final overnight call a few weeks ago with a visit to the hospital and a cafeteria dinner, then a walk through the halls of the unit to visit with the nurses and other staff. It is great to think that the only call JB will have from now on out will be home call and the occasional late night visit to the ER.

Soon Juji’s summer vacation will start and all the summer picnics, birthdays and outdoor celebrations will begin, but for now it is chilly and wet. It is a good day to stay in and regroup, to think about shifting priorities and transitions. A day to catch up on myself and see where I am headed this summer.

The other day the two kids and I, along with the dog, hung out in the yard on a warm dewy morning. Little Pet sat on a blanket in the grass and chewed on dandelions while Juji helped me in the garden. We found an old coconut that someone threw in the compost a year ago thinking it might break down eventually (me) as well as other partially decomposed food particles (peanut and egg shells, avocado seeds) and a few laffy taffy wrappers, fruit stickers and random rubber and metal things. We sifted out the riff-raff and spread the dark compost on the newly dug garden.

Meanwhile, Stelladog had started attacking the coconut, barking and nudging it with her nose. She had managed to get it stuck in a little pothole in the grass and was working with all her might to get it out and rolling again. Little Pet laughed and kept digging around in the dirt for something to eat. We didn’t get to the planting yet, the seeds are still in their little white packages, but we did get outside in the mud and mess of the garden together.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Alice in Illustrator Land

last call

Friday, May 19, 2006

The Toys R Nuts

Ever sit in a parking lot of a Toys R Us store and count how many kids come out crying? Well I did and I counted 3 in 3 minutes, including my own. To tell the truth, I felt like crying too. It wasn’t just the overwhelming assault of plastic not found in nature colors that line the floor to ceiling shelves, or the deranged versions of lullabies that seem to be coming from the innards of everything from books to teddy bears. Really, I think it is the learning toys that call out to you from the shelves when you walk by in this electronically-forced cheerful voice that are the weirdest. It can be a totally surreal experience going to a huge toy store on only a few hours of broken sleep, but when the toys start talking to you, saying stuff like “Time to count!,” and “You’re my best friend” then surely something is amiss.

Even my favorite Fischer Price Little People aren’t little anymore - it looks like they have been super-sizing their freedom fries for too long, finally catching up with their obese neighbors, the Weebles.

And what is with the Pink Isle? Having a first-born son, I have never ventured near that particular part of the store. What exactly is down there and how do they find so many shades of pink?

Luckily, I didn’t have time to think about the Pink Isle for long because up ahead were the Baby Toys. The doctor's office recommended a busy box and stacking toys for babies six months and up and since Little Pet had just started sitting up on her own, I thought I’d check out the selection. Busy boxes my arse! Maybe we used to call them busy boxes back when all we needed to learn was how to push a button or turn a dial and out pops up a smiling mickey mouse. But now I think they are called ADHD consoles or manic boxes or holy shit I’m overstimulated contraptions. Even the stacking toys have bells and whistles.

So we left the store fussing and crying, with a plastic bag full of toys made of color and lights and music and went and breastfed in the car and watched the other kids come out with their heads spinning too.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Turn off the Brain Week

It is Tuesday and I am sitting in a computer lab on campus looking out the window at a lovely sunny May afternoon. I am finally starting to feel like a human again, after a few weeks of spring allergies, strep, sinus trouble and just plain battle fatigue.

JB finished up month 2 of 3 of the wards with 1 sometimes 2 overnights a week and we just enjoyed his one day off (Sunday) in 12 or so days. The spring semester is wrapping up in a few weeks, Jujimo has started his soccer and little league seasons and little miss Petunia is heading for her six month check up in one week. She is enthusiastically eating rice cereal, banging her hands on the table for more and grabbing the spoon to chew on. She has the snowman look these days, with arms outstretched and a big grin on her face, bundled up on the sidelines of Juji’s soccer games.

Juji has just finished up his “Turn off the TV” week and, except for a few moments of boredom and “what can I do’s,” he successfully avoided all screen time for one week. Friday night was tough, because we have a long-standing tradition of ordering pizza and watching a family movie. So after some moping and whining, Juji discovers that a day old helium balloon has the perfect loft for Stelladog to nudge in the air with her wet nose and a game is born. The dog noses the balloon up, barks until it comes down and taps it back up in the air and continues to bark. The baby screeches and laughs and Juji bops it back to Stella.

The apartment and I are very “lived in” these days as I can’t seem to find time to brush out my hair, return calls, fold the laundry and pick up the Easter grass that is spread around the carpet. There are times when I just have to turn off the non-stop multitasker in my brain and just sit with it, mess and all. Say screw the garbage by the back door, the dog poop in the yard, the dishes piling high in the sink and go take a long nap with the baby.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Peeps in the Garden
Strep and sinusitus and thank heavens for tylenol 3

With spring comes allergies and with allergies comes sinus pressure and with sinus pressure this year comes strep throat. At least it's not mumps. Even my eyeballs were hurting yesterday, but today, I'm all happy and drowsy and being careful while operating heavy machinery (does that include a Mac?). About a half hour after I took the T3 the temperature in my head dropped 20 degrees and the blinding white light dimmed and I slept so nicely for about 20 minutes until the phone rang, the dog barked and the baby woke up (there is definitely a pattern here). But at least its not mumps.

This morning I tried to borrow some of Juji's Easter candy for a little "art project" and, boy, did I see regression. I guess he thought they would be inedible after I got through with them as you know art always has to do with glue and toothpicks or something. But all I wanted to do was to take a few pictures of his gummy worms in my garden and I was going to brush the dirt off afterwards and put them back, but I had to get his approval and he had to supervise. So we all go out in the yard and put Peeps in the flowers and a chocolate Easter bunny in the grass and try to attach jelly beans to the rose thorns, but that didn't really work. Meanwhile the dog is barking at the hole she dug under the fence, Juji starts climbing the fence and jumps down and cuts his face on a sharp branch and poor Petunia reaches out for a rose vine and gets a good thorn bite on her 5 and a half month old finger. She wailed and wailed at the injustice and my T3 was just about wearing out and that hot feeling in my head came back and I thought, now why did I try to do a little art anyway?

I guess after you've been down for 24 hours, you just gotta be creative. So Juji goes to the Children's center and Little Pet is last seen crying in her stroller with Grandpapa and I go to class. With spring comes allergies, Easter candy and Tylenol with codeine. Thank goodness its not mumps...

Thursday, April 06, 2006

the mobile
Spring Thunderstorms

It was a dark and stormy night... No, really it was. It had been raining all night, a thunderous affair with a show of lights that made the dog whimper and the window glass shudder. By morning the drizzle had stopped and the boxy street sweeper with a little flashing yellow light was polishing the puddles.

Sunday night my Mum, a lifesaver, came by with hot Chinese food for Juji and I. We sat on the floor at the coffee table, eating Kung Pao Chicken and shuffling scrabble tiles into words.
"Is Vapo a word?" Juji asked, eyeing the triple letter score and finally settling for "vans." Little Pet sat on my lap sucking on an ice cube. The dog had to be banished to the back hall because the smell of meat was driving her to do things she normally wouldn’t do. Did I mention this is a mostly vegetarian household? If a dropped piece of raw tofu or a cherry tomato might send the dog scrambling, you can imagine what a little animal byproduct might do.

It is about nap time for Little Pet, but she is showing no signs of fatigue, just chewing on her fingers and singing and smiling at the light fixtures.

She has been falling asleep in cars, strollers and the swing lately. Just slumping over or letting her heavy head drop to one side; nodding off like my great grandma used to do. Like JB does when watching a movie, post call, or Stella, curled up in Juji’s bed, or like I am learning to do at extra long red lights, in line at the grocery store or between slides in lecture.

So, when we are not napping (they say to sleep when the baby sleeps...)we are playing. Pet loves to kick at her mobile through a ribbon tied to her ankle. She laughs and squeals at the dancing black and white faces above her. She often stares at the curtains, the ceiling fan and a picture above her changing table, her legs moving and a smile on her face. JB has gone so far as to wiggle the curtain and picture in coordination with her kicking, which she thinks is hilarious.

You too can have your very own high contrast black and white mobile - and feel like you can control the world with just a kick of the foot. Just follow the directions or wing it like I did: And this is what I am doing instead of studying...

Monday, March 27, 2006

Sunset over Townsend
Talking Poop on Spring Break

Baby is sleeping in the pouch on my chest, thankfully letting me sit at the rocker and type for the moment. She sleeps fitfully during the day, her head buried deep in the sling, for brief half-hour naps. It’s spring break for the university and I have a week off from classes - just me and little Pet. So instead of reading about pixel resolution, bit depth and color theory, I can get back to reading about explosive poops, drool rash and glycerin supositories.

I have found some really great books about motherhood and breast feeding which have kept me company and nourished me in the last few months. Between semesters you could find me in bed trying to breast-feed with a book in one hand. There is nothing quite like a first person account of early motherhood to help soothe the temporary insanity of those first sleep-deprived months. And luckily, there are lot and lots of good "motherhood" books, both personal accounts and social commentaries that help balance out the baby training and "expert" advice books the bookstore shelves are full of.

We have been doing our rounds of baby and mom yoga, new moms groups and lots of visiting with friends and family this week. Little Pet went to her first art exhibit (paintings by one of my art instructors), ate out with Mom, Nanna and Grammy (four generations of ladies!), and got outside again for a walk to the park with Juji and little cousin Ko. I am thankful that the weather is warming up and the baby is tolerating her car seat and stroller better these days, because it is great to be able meet a friend for coffee, take stelladog for a walk and sit and chat about poopies with other moms...

Friday, March 17, 2006

Stelladog ready for action
Stella’s got her groom on...

Little Petunia and I finally got out for a real, genuine outdoor walk yesterday. Yeah! It felt so good, even though it was only 40 or so degrees and my eardrums got iced . Bump, bump, bump went the stroller over the cracks in the sidewalk and I was hoping a wheel wasn’t going to pop off and roll down the alley. I remembered how easy it seemed to put the stroller together a few months ago, until a screw fell off during one of our early desperate mall walks. Luckily the only part in danger was the coffee cup holder, which is just as important as the wheels, in my opinion.

Little Pet had her four month check up on Monday and has more than doubled her weight and added 5 plus inches to her length. She had to have those four naughty shots in her thighs and she rightfully wasn’t very pleased with the nurse. She did, however, get two Hello Kitty bandaids, which I thought was a nice consolation prize. Too bad she has felt like crap for the last three days and nights... Glad she won’t be pocked by measles, lame from polio or turn ruby red from rubella. Huh? Anyway, she is feeling better, just in time for me to smack out a paper and cram for an exam.

Stella is ready for warmer weather also and recently got a shave down and a wash up. Too bad they are forecasting up to 7 inches of snow today...

Monday, March 06, 2006

The Fourth Trimester

Little Sweet Petunia is heading into her 4th month check up in a week and I’ve been thinking about the last three months, or the Fourth Trimester. She really is a different baby from the screaming, slippery newborn she was in November. She loves playing in her crib and squeals and talks as she swings her mobile with her foot (ribbon tied to foot and mobile game). She smiles at new faces, drools, and is content for a while in her bouncy seat reaching for toys and kicking - a far cry from the baby who wouldn’t let us put her down for the first 2 months (no pun intended). She is losing her fine baby hair and has round cheeks and a rolly-poley belly. Not to mention a cute bald spot on the back of her head. (I've tried the comb-over - sadly, it doesn't work.) She is sleeping well at night, getting up a few times for a bottle or to nurse, but goes right back to sleep, giving us blocks of 4 or 5 hours to dream and relish. Of course it all seems like a blur of crying, feeding, changing, rocking and fitful sleep. And truthfully, I still feel like I’m just holding exhaustion at bay. But, amazing are the changes that occur in those first few months.

I’m rocking her in the sling right now for her mid-morning power nap wishing my head was clearer and trying to figure out what’s on tap for the day. A bath, some homework, a trip to the library, finishing up the laundry... The brain is seriously tested in these early months - it feels a bit like mush right now or as HAL would say: "I can feel my mind going, Dave."

It is snowing again outside, but isn’t as cold as it was last weekend. Luckily, JB’s old Honda was resuscitated yesterday after a near-death experience in the 10 degree below weather. I guess the gas line was frozen and gunked up according to bro-in-law, who thankfully got it running again.

Life certainly sweeps me away these days. Barely time to think, and I wish I was doing more writing, sleeping and exercising. I spent hours working on a Photoshop collage project that was due this week, which was fun but very time consuming. JB is now back on the wards, doing in-house calls on the weekends and we are counting down the months until his residency is over (4 more to go!). Jujimo got a great report card last week, lost his second pair of winter boots this year, went to a Fat Tuesday party, watched 2001 A Space Odyssey with his Grandpa and asked millions of questions about outer space and time travel - time for the Carl Sagan Cosmos series (billions and billions of stars...).

I applaud anyone who keeps a journal/blog during these dreamy days of new infanthood. It is a fleeting, intense period where the entire family gets to know this new creature. In fits and starts, the baby wakes up to the world and all the sudden there is an explosion of awareness - the coos and smiles that say "I know you and I trust you..."

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Dog Eat Bunny Day

It is the kind of bitter cold weekend where your teeth hurt when you go outside. The snow is starched stiff, the cars don’t start and even the dog don’t dilly-dawdle when she pees. Not much fun for sledding or snowfort building, so we all kind of hibernate in our apartment. Miss Petunia’s got a drippy nose, seems tired and screams with gas pain (?) from time to time. All she wants to do is nurse. Jujimo’s got a sore throat and achy ears, so other than swim lessons on Saturday morning, he stays in his PJ’s and watches the Olympics, builds with blocks and tries to harness some solar energy to power a small radio. The dog sleeps in patches of sun on the carpet.

I finally get out of the house to go to the gym late in the day, a much needed break, as I feel I’m melting into the baby. When I get home I try to break up the frozen packed-down snow from the sidewalk (one of the neighbors started shoveling, but only got halfway through the job and then disappeared (alien abduction?). Little Petunia falls into my arms when I get upstairs and drifts off to sleep. But within minutes, the thin veneer of civilized family life slips away.

The dog, riled up from being out in the cold, races around the house with the baby’s stuffed bunny in her mouth, crashing into the laundry basket while barking at the noises coming from the heating vent. The baby's cries wind up into a screaming fury of unconsolability (she’s way overtired) and Pappa J and Jujimo are in the kitchen arguing about how to make mac and cheese (no you don’t need butter, yes you do, no you don’t...). Fake cheese powder, the color of construction-cone orange, goes flying and uncooked noodles coat the stove. The baby keeps crying. Jujimo serves up the mac and cheese and Pappa J cooks some morning star frozen veggi bites and broccoli. Dinner is eaten standing up while watching Apolo Anton Ono come in first in the speed skating short track semi-finals.

By the time Shani Davis speed skates into a gold, bumping the PO’ed Hendriks into sixth place, Jujimo has picked out and eaten all of the red skittles out of a one-pound bag, the dog successfully marked the baby’s bunny with her dog-breath drool, and Pappa J and I have argued about the basket of wet laundry sitting on the bed, the un-shoveled sidewalk, the fact that he had to work on Sunday and how he got me a size small sweater for our 10th anniversary, knowing that I was still wearing my “postpartum”clothes. Now, as I sit here trying to teach baby Pet to put the nuk in her mouth herself (a good night’s sleep and she’s fully recovered) I can laugh at the ridiculousness of it all, but I’m telling you, yesterday was a dog eat bunny day.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

By Way of Introductions...

I was inspired by other mothering-oriented blogs and websites to start my own rambling blog, Monpon. I am a stay-at-home mom with a new baby girl, 3 months (Little Pet) , a 9 and1/2 year old son, (Sir Juji, esq. Child lawyer) and Stelladogdingo, the jealous, aussy-mix middle dog-child. My husband, Dr. J, is finishing his residency in Neurology. I am going to art school part-time and have a background in non-profit writing and editing. Since I am only taking 3 credits this semester, I decided to entertain myself with a this new past time.

Little Pet is on my lap right now blowing bubbles and reaching for the keyboard. It is a stormy, snowy midwest afternoon and I will be digging out my car to head to class in a few hours. Last Tuesday, my father-in-law, who usually watches Little Pet, was out west for the week so I decided to take her to lecture with me. This is a class of about 300 hundred, so I figured no one would notice this little head of black hair sticking out of my pouch, and plus, I looked forward to the lecture on digital arts, and getting out of the house.

I admit I had this underlying suspicion that it might not go over that well with the college crowd, who for the most part think anything related to babies is uncool. I'm about 10-15 years older than the typical college student and I can say from the bottom of my heart that I am really glad to be over 30. But the guy sitting next to me didn't seem to mind, just kept text snapping open his cell every few minutes to check for messages. A couple of young ladies snorted when I sat down, diaper bag in tow, and got up to move with a snide "I don't want a screaming child in my ear" comment spoken to no one in particular. I just figure if other students can eat, sleep and play poker on their laptops during lecture, I should be able to bounce a baby on my lap.

And Little Pet did fine; she slept for a half hour, sat in my lap and looked around for another half hour and not until the last half hour did she start smacking on her hands, sneezing and fussing. I even got away with a stop-and-draw moment (in which we speedily draw whatever is projected on the slide). So, aside from minimal hostility, the whole bring baby to work (or school) thing worked out ok, but let's admit that this society aint exactly child-friendly. Now, the next challenge is bringing Sir Juji to my 3 hour lab class in a few weeks...