Thursday, December 27, 2007

Finally







Winter break is upon us and that means Drawing II is behind me. Although the semester started out with "inconsistent" work, due to the unpredictability of family life (call weekends, late starts and early dismissals for Juj, separation issues at daycare with Maia, sick days, snow days and just plain exhaustion days where the last thing on earth I wanted to do was pick up a charcoal pencil and a kneaded eraser), the end of the semester picked up with a series of drawings of a subject and medium of our own choosing. I worked fairly steadily in my sketch book, drawing natural objects like branches, berries, roots and stems in conte, ink and graphite. The final project was a series of 30 drawings during which I became interested in drawing, hatching and washing with ink using brushes, quill and bamboo pens on watercolor paper. I was satisfied that I had learned a few things and was able to submerge myself in the final drawings in a way I hadn't been able to during the semester. Up next, Fibers in January and I can't wait!



















Merry Finals and a Happy Double Ear Infection

Holy crazy cow! Holidays always bring such excitement, overindulgence and surprises, and this year was no exception. Snow piled deep on the sides of streets, we slopped through ice and cold to my final exam... 3o drawings done in two class periods, finished up at home over the weekend. Missed book club and a holiday party to get them finished, but dang it they were done. Over that same weekend my dear daughter caught a cold, which turned into a cough, which turned into sleepless nights and inconsolable crying and finally into double ear infections. Which then led to antibiotics, which caused her to break out in hives and welts across her back, which sent us back to the doctor for a penicillin allergy label and a prescription for another antibiotic and ear drops for the pain. As the week closes, my dear is on the mend and thankfully was able to enjoy all of our Christmas magic through oodles of parties, presents and sweets.




Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Arsenic, Cadmium and Mercury Oh My!

Parenting has really entered a new age. If you haven't checked out healthytoys.org you should before you wrap up those Christmas presents if you want to know what their Lead, Arsenic, Cadmium, Mercury and Chlorine contents are. Yikes! Playskool Mr. Potato Head - medium levels, Playskool Tinker Toys - medium levels, Fisher-Price Doctor's kit - HIGH levels, Nuk pacifiers (orthodontic) Med and just a tincture of Tin! Even those Gerber soft tipped baby spoons are full of lead and we loved ours. We are now supposed to avoid #7 plastic, canned foods, plastic baby bottles and plastic cling wrap according to this toxic laundry list brought to you by Environment California. And if you haven't had yer fill yet, see Z Recommends for some actual healthy options in the sippy cup department. Whew, I'm exhausted, aren't you?

Then I'll leave you with a few fun places to do your post holiday shopping for some safe, natural and imaginative toys:
Oompa Toys
Nova Natural Toys and Crafts
Three Sisters Toys
Planet Happy Toys
Natural Pod

But I'm still not getting rid of my 1970's Fisher Price little people collection, I'll just have to stop myself from gnawing on them!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Dear Mead Johnson,

So, apparently more fuel has been added to the baby formula debate. A study conducted by The Environmental Working Group has shown that bishphenol-A is found in trace amounts in the lining of powered and liquid formula cans and the caps on the nursette bottles. All of which I personally used in the form of very expensive Enfamil powder formula to supplement breastfeeding. I was outraged when I heard the minimizing comments from Mead Johnson. Bishphenol-A (BPA) is known to effect the developing brain and reproductive system. It has also been shown to cause multiple cancers in lab rats at very low doses. The general opinion of makers of baby formula like Mead Johnson (Enfamil) is that they "have no reason to believe that BPA is present in significant amounts in any of (their) products." Well now they do, but of course they will minimize this study. They also have no reason not to either, since they haven't done any testing themselves, or at least made it public.

"Mead Johnson is not required to test our products for presence of BPA, and we have no reason to believe that BPA is present in significant amounts..." Well if the government says it's fine to give infants even the smallest doses of toxic chemicals known to cause abnormalities and cancer, then it must be okay! Ha! Nice PR Mead Johnson. Email them at MJProductinformation@bms.com and tell them to get the BPA out of the packaging.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Swap On!



I hosted a swap party in early December and scored some serious loot! Many thanks to the former owners of a) a set of gold painted owl salt and pepper shakers b) a pair of perfectly fitting, nicely worn-in retro jeans c) a fantastic large brim hat, and d) an illustrated guide to medicinal herbs... just to name a few. For those unfamiliar with a swap party, this is a great way to recycle unwanted items, get a few great freebies and hang out with the ladies. Each person is asked to bring between 3-5 items that they can live without and would like to put into the pot (regift). Often folks take the opportunity to clean out the closets, the atics and the bookshelves to make room for the upcoming holiday. Popular swap items are clothes, kitchen ware, jewlery, books, music, shoes, but can include just about anything. This is better than the goodwill bins people, cause you don't have to fight over that Prada bag someone got sick of. You pick cards from a deck and take your turn in that order. Snide comments and dirty looks are all part of the fun. Then whatever is left over (those 80's clothes someone has held on to for decades) goes to the goodwill. It's good fun all the way around!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Mai Mai!

Little Pet turned two recently with a feasting of enchiladas, blue moon ice cream cake and all the people who love her the most. She shined as we sung happy birthday, smiling as she scanned the circle of faces surrounding her. So my Lil Pet, you are now two, a certified little person, a toddler, with opinions all your own. My sweetheart, who now can ask me to roll over and let her climb on top of my chest for a nap. My Mai, Mai, who cackles and teases and throws herself on the ground dramatically. My Mai, who says "Maia not a baby and Maia want oat beer (root beer) and Maia don’t yike dat, and Sorry dentist (to a bendy zebra) and What da leopard print boots doin in der?" Who says "Dada must go work, and Dat my mamma, and Mamma came back yesterday" though I'd only been gone a few hours. Who said just a few days ago when the afternoon gloom had set in, "Maia need a birthday party..." with a pout and a fake cry. My Mai Mai, who qualifies and describes, wishes and wonders, who loves wooden trains, going to the zoo with grandma and grandpa, books and scribbling. Maia, who takes a distinct pleasure in knocking down her brother’s elaborate Kapla block buildings. My little sweet tooth, my little kitty, my snuggler, my sweetheart, my Mai Mai, happy birthday dear Maia! Happy birthday to you!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Till Next Year "Piders and Punctions"

Superdog!
The kitty carefully takes the stairs...


Trick or Treating certainly met expectations this year. One of the best things about our neighborhood is the blockclub-organized nighttime trick or treating. The kids are out in swarms with flashlight and glowsticks, running from house to house to get as much trick or treating in as possible. Costume clad neighbors hang out on their porches with large bowls of candy, fire pits and hot chocolate, welcoming the goblins and ghosts. Houses are decorated with pumpkins, gourds, skeletons, spider webs and smoke machines. One house staged a fake accident, complete with sirens blaring from a poice car, another built a haunted house out of cray paper and tarps. Thunder and creepy music was piped into the streets. The Pet (kitty) and a scarecrow only made in down the main drag, but that was enough. A friend commented that it seemed like a scene out of a movie; good old fashioned fun!


Monday, October 29, 2007

Infected

This is Halloween week folks! A week of treats, scares, dress-ups, pumpkins, spiders, gourds, webs, ghosts and bones!! We kicked off the weekend with a "28 weeks later" party, though it turned out to be a 28 (good and potent) beers later (to the likes of Dead Guy Ale, Lagunitas Red and Bottington's). Unfortunately this event had a breakout of a certain sleepy sickness called the workweek, sick kids, on call, lack of sleep virus, which infects many parents with small children. Yes, we wore capes, ate jello jigglers in the shapes of cats and bats, hung spider webbing from the ceiling, but by about 10:30, nearly all my guests were sleeping: on the couch, in a chair, on the floor, in their car seat, etc. JB was the first to crash, I guess those long hours and tasty beer finally caught up with him. The 2 under two went next, which made pretty good sense. Then little K (age 4) curled up on the couch and let his lids fold and his mom, KT wrapped him up and snuggled him. She was out a few minutes later. That left Juj, who was playing Fifa Soccer on the computer, me and Scary Faced S. Scary faced S kept nodding off in his chair while JB sawed logs. Finally around 11:30 a few more guests arrived. We restarted the movie, which has been paused so many times that I almost caught the rage virus myself. And we watched the rest, just me, my cuz D and his lovely girlfriend B., (turned out to be a fairly good Halloween pick, if you like post apocalyptic zombie movies). And so that is how our Halloween festivities began. Luckily it is still early, and I am banking on our neighborhood trick or treating on Halloween night to be, well, just a bit more exciting than a bunch of over 30's snoozing by the glow of a horror movie.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Portland OR... in photos






















My return from Portland sling shot me right into a "on call" week, in which JB continued his call through the weekend and into the following week. Friday at noon we will all get to let our proverbial hair down. Until then, a post in pictures of my visit with my sis. We trashed the usual siteseeing for a bunch of quirky mini trips within the city beginning with a trip to Finnegans Toy Store in which we bought masks and tortured the baby in the photo booth. Then a short stop in Reading Frenzy for the latest East Village Inky zine and a print by Nikki McClure. We also got a chance to hit the "Bins" at the Goodwill outlet store where clothes are sold by the pound and in which very good deals were had by all. A fabulous visit to the Oregon College of Art and Craft, which has a bookmaking program alongside carpentry, fibers, photography and the like. All between feedings, diapers, cups of tea, good snacks and naps too! And of course, lots of loving of the sweetest babe around, Little Miss O!




Thursday, October 18, 2007

SAD

Now I remember why I get so anxious around this time of year. It is called Seasonal Affective Disorder... yes there is a disorder for everything! Now that the PMS is under control thx to the IUD, the lack of sun and the turning of the leaves and the whispering of the wind is making my brain s l o w d o w n. I often have this feeling of being trapped, the sky a gray dome pressing down on me. It is harder to wake up now and my naps with the Pet are more frequent. There is this underlying stress, anxiety and fatigue that makes almost everything harder. So today, I give myself a break and stop fighting it. I know the light box is in the attic when I need it. And for me, melancholy is just a routine part of the changing of the seasons.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Picture September













Well if I'm obsessed with the bitter sweetness of summer ending, Jim Gaffigan (The Pale Comedian who does the Hot Pocket bit and who happens to be my friend's baby daddy...) waxes poetical about why he is glad summer is over. Here , he shares his musings on sausage legs, men who wear purple crocs and the dramas and traumas of sunscreen usage and abusage. Other than celebrating the death of the fruit fly colony in our kitchen, we are marking the last days of September by eating warm cherry tomatoes off the vine, hanging laundry to store away the fresh sunny smell, hitting the homework (who's desk is more organized?), reading lots of books, preparing for our favorite holiday, Halloween of course, getting out the sweaters and hats, spending some time on our front porch doing art, finishing projects started at the beginning of summer and just noticing the way the light slants in through the hallway window.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Baby Boom

Congrats to my sister and Pete on the birth of their baby girl, my lovely new niece on the westcoast. Miss Olive Fiona was born on Labor day (how fitting), a fiery, Irish beauty. Can't wait to meet her! And down the way, the experienced Hip Mama herself, Ariel Gore gave birth to her second child, a baby boy at the end of August. Also, congrats to Olivia Drab who, after experiencing painful miscarriages and reproductive conundrums, gave birth to a *perfect* baby girl. Reading up on Brooklyn Girl's first month of being mom to a newborn daughter and 2 year old son, I am reminded of that blurry but intense, often teary, completely awe inspiring, rugged terrain of the the postpartum months, when the hormones crash and the tedium descends and the realization that, gee this doesn't really let up does it? sets in. Whew, it gives me the goosebumps just thinking about it. All I can say is that my heart goes out to you all. The storms pass, eventually those newborns sleep for 3 then 4 then a glorious 5 or 6 hours at a time and you'll wonder what the heck is wrong with the baby. But it is a tough and often isolating time, so, forget the housecleaning, catnap when the babies do, eat good food, take those friends up of the offers to bring over food or hold the baby while you shower or escape the house for a few hours, breastfeed lying down, cosleep if it gets you more rest, forget the experts and listen to the baby and yourself. Watch good movies, order out often, put the inlaws to work, kick a few laundry baskets at 2 a.m., let the baby cry it out if you need to - it won't kill them, try a sling, swaddle the babe, get some breaks and know that what you are doing really, really matters!!!! But you already knew that, didn't you?

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

End of Summer Rituals

Some of the suggestions I have heard so far: back to school shopping and makeovers (for those inclined), pedicures for summer feet, planting indoor herbs or flowers, sitting and reading under an apple tree, star gazing, cleaning/organizing and eating brushetta with garden fresh tomatoes and basil. No one suggested moving to warmer climes, but it has crossed my mind.

We spent most of the weekend getting ready for school: stocking up on items for Juj’s daily cold lunch, picking up the last of the school supplies and replenishing diapers at the daycare center. We harvested a few small heads of purple cabbage (dang slugs got a hold of them and I didn’t want to waste any beer on them) and cherry tomatoes and set the alarm clocks for a little earlier. Of course there will be plenty of time for fall activities such as hikes along the river, trips to the pumpkin farm for gourds and caramel apples, hearing the rustle of leaves along the sidewalk, the rush and energy of cooler nights, but I am getting ahead of myself here.

On Sunday, my parents and I, along with Juj, took a trip on replica of a 1800's schooner, organized through our local science museum. The sailboat was built by volunteers and is a combination of the types of boats that sailed the great lakes transporting lumber in the days before steam engines. Four towering 150 year old white pine trees were given by the Menominee Nation and stand as the tall masts, holding ancestral spirits inside. It was a glorious day, the lake glistened as we helped hoist the sails and listened to the first mate direct the vessel: "ease the sheets, idle hands aloft," and I thought of the romance of the sea, the immigrants and slave ships, of words like doldrums and poop deck, expressions like "three sheets to the wind, loose cannon and walking the plank." That is before the nausea kicked in as Juj and I explored the sleeping quarters and galley. Indeed, Terra firma is the place for me. Even though the schooner winds it’s way through the St. Laurence seaway to the Bahamas during the winter months, I myself am staying put, with my feet on the ground and dealing with the changing seasons and new routines. What's your "end of summer" ritual?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

And the rain it hammered down...

All last week storms blew in and across the Midwest leaving bulging creeeks, overflowing rivers and flooded streets. Most of the real disaster stayed to the SW of here, but we were left with many cool, dark, rainy, indoor days. Juj’s soccer camp was moved indoors halfway across town and the kid verses the parents baseball game was rained out. Petunia and I spent far too long in the car, getting Juj to camp and back and searching for things to do on the other side of town. We ended up shopping, hanging out at a coffee shop, riding the escalator at the mall (like Corduroy) and bumming around at the craft store. Not a lot of fun for a toddler who wanted nothing else but to feed the gulls that took roost on the soggy soccer fields and go to the park: "want da park, want da park, want da park..." she repeated getting more and more distressed as we drove through little neighborhoods in the rain.

Today Juj and a few friends are mucking about in the spidy man pool outside while the Pet naps after a long morning of swinging, snake cake, (chocolate cake with gummy worms), coloring and train playing. Now my tomatoes are fat and sweet, and the sun is shining brightly and hotly and I am trying to find some way to say goodbye to our summer days. We hung the laundry out to dry, went for bike rides, visited the favorite outdoor café, even hiked in the rain with friends. But I know that won't be enough.

Petunia’s transition into daycare is going well for the most part; she likes the teachers, the kids and activities, but not the goodbyes. Having been through this before, I thought it would be easier, but the Pet and I are still glued together, so it has taken a while to feel better about leaving her. The reward is upon coming back, where she says, relieved "mama come back! (I) sad, cry. (I) cry when Anna (teacher) go. Sit down. Play!" and she happily bops around the room laughing, playing and smiling. So sweet she is and so hard it is to leave at first, my heart heavy and sad and anxious... but at least this time I know it will get better, eventually and slowly.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

In The Time of Recalls

With all this hullabaloo about lead in children's toys, I figured I'd better check the Consumer Product Safety Commission's web site and see what the fuss was all about. The word "recall" has seeped into my brain as I walked down the isles of Target seeing familiar toys with warning signs on them, as I skim through the paper past pictures of Barbie, Elmo and Dora and even before bed as shows like Nightline investigate the effects of lead paint on children's brains. It's enough to make one sick, paranoid and or pine for the days when all you had were a stack of plain wooden blocks and your imagination.


Nonetheless, I spent some time on the SPSC's web site and was shocked to see so many familiar products that had been recalled due to strangulation, choking, aspiration, lead poisoning, laceration, burn and entrapment hazards. Thomas the Tank Engine we may all know about, but how about excess lead in chalk sold at Toys R Us, or the rings/straps of the Maya wrap and other baby carriers detaching. These are the everyday items of life with kids: pacifiers, sippy cups, teethers, high chairs, bouncy seats, books, bike seats and clothing. And it is not just the dollar trees and walmarts of the world selling no name products, it is the well known companies like Matell, Fischer Price, Pottery Barn, Graco, Brio, Playtex, Little Tikes, Stride-Rite, Gymboree, Schwinn, Kelty, Gerber, Evenflo, Playskool, Peg Perego and the like.


In the last two months I have returned two products that were recalled due to choking hazards, a Battat cell phone and a Little Tree imagination wooden cart. Certainly lead paint is inexcusable, as are poorly made products, but really, how far does the manufacturers responsibility go? What really gets me is that after any recall (remember the Easy Bake Oven and Avent Bottles?) the goodwills and secondhand stores are full of them. What kind of sense it that... pass on a dangerous product to someone of lesser income?


With so many products on the market there is no doubt that some will fail and cause injury. Companies need to be held accountable and we the damned consumer need to know what the heck were buying. And as I type this, the sounds of a Melissa and Doug battery sounds wooden puzzle are going off randomly (a frog croaking late into the night, the annoying bark, bark, bark of some generic, mechanical dog), and I know these are the signs of our consumer culture gone bat tat taty.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Sister and Brother


Little Petunia will soon be 21 months, on Juj’s 11th birthday to be exact. We are starting to feel more balanced as a family as the boat has been tilted towards the "baby" for close to two years. Petunia now chats and plays with Juj and despite their age difference there is still a lot of the both of them shrieking "mine!" They enjoy watching Charlie and Lola together, eating Juj’s homemade Popsicles, making sour faces together, teasing each other and hogging the couch. They play together, Juj building houses with hallways and windows, Petunia jamming as many animals in and knocking it down. Juj has taught her a number of words lately and she seems to be at a stage where she will try to say anything. "Say enzyme," says Juj sweetly, "say small intestines, say stinky toes." And she does, at least she tries.

Her favorites phrases these days are:
"Read now!" Juj taught her this one...
"Sit down... "da play!" A very strong suggestion...
"Park... mine" That’s my park and we’d better stop now!
"Hi da mama!" Oh hi, you're still here, nice!
"No, not!" Applies to diaper changes, yucky foods, leaving grandma’s, going inside, etc.

As July was a month of non-stop socializing and trying to cram every summer activity in before the short season ends, it is my hope that August will be slower and more mellow as we prepare for fall classes, daycare and sixth grade. Juj I’m sure won’t agree with me and is spending long days and nights at fairs, water parks, beaches, bike races, outdoor music fests, backyard BBQ’s and the like. Petunia and I have been visiting the daycare and working up to longer and longer separations. It feels right to me to start her at the center a few days a week this fall and that is a relief. I feel as if we’ve reached a milestone, as if I am ready to release her in some small way into the world to learn to trust others, to get along with people who are different, to begin to deal with small groups of kids in small doses and continue to learn to communicate. Plus they have water tables, lofts, slides, swings, fish, a pretend kitchen and art hanging from tall ceilings! So, here is to the toddler and pre-teen years, and me continuing that slow process of letting go...

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Campfires, Glowsticks and the Works

Hola happy campers, here are some photos for you: Campfires, Glowsticks and the Works!
The kids kept the fire glowing late into the night, chased each other around the campsite with glowsticks, roasted, burned and flame-broiled marshmallows, danced to the strum of a guitar and the beat of a drum, played shark-attack at a nearby lake, built moats in the sand, hiked through the hills and kettles left by the big melt of the ice age and just generally enjoyed themselves. All of which made up for the short car ride, which was more traumatic than the 7 hours to Ely and included baby puke, traveling without a map, driving on gas fumes for 6 miles to the nearest gas station, rolling past the registration booth w/o a sticker and endless squabbles and debates about these previously aforementioned incidents. But it certainly feels like summer when you finally get out of the car, walk through the pine needle floors of the woodlands, hear the owls cooing on the perimeter of your campsite, swim in a chilly lake, drink iron-colored well water from a rusty hand pump and have the smell of the campfire permeate your clothes. And so we say hooray for camping. Hooray, hooray, hooray for camping!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

She's Crafty!

Yeeaah! I got my fire photo selected on the Elements Self Portrait Challenge last week, got a subscribtion to Ready Made for my b-day and went to the Art Vs. Craft show over the weekend. These pleasant memories got me through a few days of nit picking lice off Juj's head, laundering and vaccuuming the whole house in 90+ degree weather, having a piece of nonfiction rejected by a literary magazine (it still hurts!) and getting a call from the fraud department saying that someone attempted to use my credit card to purchase $3,000 worth of cricket equipment in India (Busted!).

In any case, I spied a fabulous hand-made skirt from Madison based Orangyporangy, purchased a yard of animal print fabric from the mini-apple's Crafty Planet and was inspired by many of the neato, crafty creations that people are making. Owls are big, so are sock monkeys, screen printed tees, bibs, felted bags, and clothes and purses made out of "reclaimed" or recycled materials. Also discovered Etsy, an online marketplace for all things hand-made. Just too good to be true!

Friday, July 06, 2007

Fire Chasers


We spent the afternoon of the Fourth in the backyard of my aunt's for a family reunion with folks from my side of the family... folks we don't often see as they hail from the pacific northwest, the windy city and simply the other side of town. Ever since my grandma M passed, these gathering have become rare and it was a pleasure to dip my toes in my own genetic pool for an afternoon. More about water later, but the Fourth flourished in fire. The kids chased fireflies late into the evening and sat on curbs watching trails of light fall from the sky in bursts and flares. We experimented with night flash photography, photographing friends and neighbors as they made their way through the streets back home for the evening We slept through the showers of roman candles and bottle rockets that continued late into the night down the street and across the alley. And I dreamt of mistaken identity and secret lives, babies and burning toast, my synapses firing wildly like an atomic blast, a crackling pinwheel, pyrotechnic explosions. And then the smell of gun powder, the rising smoke, the dust and dreams tinged green that hang in the air for hours after the burn.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

This I Believe

The Stuff of Sleep or How to Know When it is Time to Throw the Baby Books Out With the Bath Water
After discussing baby sleep with multiple friends and parents who have Ferberized, co-slept, Nanny 911'ed, "worn their babies down in a sling," shushed, swung, suckled and swaddled their little ones to sleep; after browsing whole bookshelves in my local bookstore and public library dedicated to sleep issues like "The Family Bed," "The Horse (I mean Baby) Whisperer," "The No Cry Sleep Solution," "The Happiest Baby on the Block," Happy Baby, Healthy Sleep," along with the popular Dr. Sears and Dr. Seuss’s Sleep books, the most wisdom I could glean was that you can either follow the experts, or follow your baby.

When Juj was born, nearly 11 years ago, he slept in a small antique crib (which would certainly not meet safety standards today) next to our pull-out futon in the living room of our first apartment together. When he’d wake with the hunger cry, piercing and unnerving, my husband and I would feed him and hold him and burp him and off he would go back into the little outdated criblette on his SIDS-dangerous tummy. After 10 or so weeks, with minimal crying and fussing at night, he began to sleep 10-12 hours, straight on through the sweet, sweet night. Sleep like that, solid, dream filled sleep, that soother of the day’s pricks and thorns, that mender of a fragmented mind and body was ours again.

Now, I realize that not every baby takes to this sleep stuff so easily and that the world is filled with sleep deprived parents desperate for answers, second guessing themselves and trying to figure out how to get a little bit of sleep please. It’s is frustrating, exhausting and just plain maddening.

I know this now because when little Petunia, who was a heat seeking missile from day one, was born, she abhorred the bassinet, the co-sleeper and the crib so much that her harsh, piercing cries shook the walls every time we set her down for the night. We were confounded. Before Petunia’s birth, we snickered to ourselves about how our two year old nephew still slept with his parents and assured ourselves that we would never be so overprotective, so lacking in boundaries and discipline, indeed such complete suckers! But eventually all the conventional sleeping contraptions went the way of the dinosaurs, except for the Kangaroo Korner fleece pouch, and we reluctantly became a co-sleeping family. That is where she slept best. It helped us through months of night terrors, teething pain and not otherwise specified night waking. In fact, we all slept better.

At twenty months, Lil Pet sleeps well through the night, right between us, hogging the bed, kicking off the covers, pushing us both to either edges of our mattress. We’ve given up our own snuggling at night, but we sleep, fiber optic butterfly fluttering out blues and greens on the wall, ocean waves rushing in and out all night from a digital alarm clock on the dresser, we sleep until morning, being flexible enough to bend when a strong enough wind blows.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

First Comes Love...

So like most evenings out with a toddler, the wedding of my sweet brother-in-law to the even sweeter bride O. was jam packed with the never-ending excitement of messes, owies, mischievous behavior and abbreviated conversations that characterize social functions with kids. Miss Petunia began her adventure with a white dress and her signature Mardi gras beads while Sir Juj, the ring bearer along with cousin Ko, began his night with a white shirt, although he did ask if I could cut the collar off before we left.

The service was led by a circuit court judge in a kilt and the maids and men of honor marched arm and arm down the isle to the sound of bagpipes. I wish my powers of observation were stronger here, but I was distracted my the Pet and her insistent plea of "out!." We wrestled her down and gave her a drink and a few toys which kept her quiet for like 2 seconds until she screamed out "MINE" in a shrill toddler voice over the quiet whispers of the exchanging of the vows. Luckily the service clipped along nicely and she soon caught up with the boys and their honey (see last post). Although there were many people I would have loved to chat with, I followed a group of nicely dressed 2-4 footers through the halls of the hotel, stopping at the vending machine for snacks (the hor’s d’oeuvres were made of unrecognizable substances to the under 10 set) then on to watching them crawl around like kitties and horses in the swooning room. I gulped down a glass of red wine in relative isolation of the anteroom, but then came dinner in the ballroom with the rest of society.

The boys began their dining experience by slamming a dozen or so little cupletts of half and half and egged the Pet to do so to. Juj sat next to Ko and took him on as an apprentice in his alchemy work, making concoctions of water, pepper, cream, beer, tic tacs and candle wax, while the Pet and a baby at another table threw spoons, fruit and napkins at each other. Needless to say, our dinner was far from relaxing, and other than hearing a killer speech from the bridesmaid, I didn’t register much other than myself saying "stop playing in the candle wax Juj", "Stop putting tic tacs in the cake Juj", "Eat something other than candy Juj", "Get up off the floor Juj," and so on. So, before the chocolate wedding cake was cut and before Ko could use Juj’s white shirt as a napkin for the chocolate wedding cake, Little Petunia grew tired and heavy in papa’s arms. Upon transfer to the front carrier in which I though she would sleep peacefully and let me pretend for a few moments that I was a normal adult again, she woke up, burped and then threw up creamer and watermelon all over me and her nice white dress. So, to the bride and groom, love and good wishes... but be sure to enjoy this time before you belong to the puke, owie, broken record, go home early club that comes with those sweet, little urchins we call kids!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Honey


Like a balloon that has been cut lose, free floating, flowing with the current, caught up in the gusto of the first week of summer vacation. All four of us home, tired today from staying up too late all week for birthday parties, outdoor music and street festivals - our beds full of sand from the beach, a house full of spy gear traps and alarms set by Juj and friends, big kids and little kids in and out of the house, the yard, the sandbox, eating strawberries out of the garden and drippy Popsicles from the freezer, hatching plans for sleepovers, lemonade stands, movie nights and camping trips.

Juj’s campaign for Mexican food every day of the week has finally come to fruition: so this week we have had black bean burritos, cheese enchiladas with pineapple, nachos with salsa, peppers and sour cream, and refried bean tostados topped with guacamole. The Pet is becoming the picky eater she should be at this age and still favors her bottle of whole milk, blueberries, watermelon and cheese. "Ba," she request first thing in the morning. "Hunry," she will say when she wants food. She is more than labeling these days, moving on to descriptive words like "itchy (when referring to the wooded area around the soccer field), sticky (after eating pancakes), stuck (when trying to pull a picture of a kitty out of a book), uphigh (one word), hot, dark, pretty (when seeing or smelling flowers). "Honey" is her newest one when referring to sweets, candy that is, lolly pops and licorice, taffy and gum, she knows far too much about these things already.

JB has his final graduation tonight, as a neurophysiology fellow, and what a Fellow he is. Although he is resistant to multitasking (taking two kids to the store, bringing the baby along to do drop offs and pickups, bring the kids to work when I just can't do it anymore :)...), he has been a stellar at home dad this last week. But, no martyrs here, there have been plenty of fussing and fighting about who is doing what with what little free time there is. Next week we start with the structure of summer classes, programs and camps and the introduction of daycare for the little Pet. So, as chaotic as this week has been, it was a good immersion into summer living, the free flowing non-stop motion of long summer days.

Friday, June 08, 2007

See I told you so...

The Peonies have popped,


And the Berries are bearing,


But best of all, the fabric dying has begun! This piece of white cotton sat bunched and gathered in a bucket of navy and lilac fiber reactive dyes with sprinklings of salt overnight. Can't wait to do more!


Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Birdbath

Everything is ok. The tulip petals have fallen off their stems, the iris’s are in bloom and the peonies are getting ready to pop. It is the end of may, warm finally, sunny in the high 60's, perfect for wagon rides, walks to the coffee shop and swinging at the park. It seems as if I’ve been transported into a different time and place. No longer running around from one project to the next. Everything will be alright. The pleasure of fragrant trees, the soothing warm sun, the greenness all around me, June bearing strawberry plants full and flowery in my garden. Sometimes I feel so discontented, so torn by all the tradeoffs and the yearning to have more, be more, get more done. But the daily walk in which it does not matter which way you turn or where you end up, hanging laundry in the back yard, listening to the insistent call of the cardinal outside my window; all these thing bring me back. A sigh and a relief, a slowing down, a reassurance that everything is going to be ok.

Friday, May 18, 2007

The Mama Effect

The semester is over, and as I collect my suit and towel from the gym locker room and various projects from the sculpture lab and gallery, I feel both relieved and anxious about the summer to come. I know that there will still remain a great amount of pulling in far too many directions on my too few limbs, but I am grateful for the break from the assigned readings, research papers, critiques and grades. Oh and the showing up to class in the middle of baby’s nap time, late, stressed and cranky. I look forward to creating because I am inspired to, free of the constraints of assignments, unwanted advice and instruction. I know I fell into a funk a few months back and unfortunately it coincided with little Pet’s insistence on, and preference for, Mommy. "Momma, Mommy, Mom..." she repeats when thinking about, looking for, or calling to me. "Mommy, Momma.," she will say, planting kisses on my face when she wakes up in the morning, when the trying very hard not to let Mama out of her sight begins. "Momma" she says as a statement of fact, reassuring herself that she has me all to herself as we walk around the corner from the library, hand in hand. "Oh no, Mama!" she screeches, half awake at midnight, woken by the noise of me trying to brush my teeth and get ready for bed. Why so into Mama? Was little Juj this way? Maybe I can’t remember, maybe the distribution of childcare was more equal back when JB and I worked opposite shifts and rarely saw each other. Maybe it is a Mama and daughter thing. "Can’t you make yourself more interesting?" I ask JB, "screech like a monkey, do a dance, do something, anything, please" I wine, jealous of his regular solitary bathroom time. All I’m asking for is a quick floss of the teeth while I am cleaning the sink, putting away the bath toys and getting out a new roll of TP without someone hanging on me, leaning much too far over the edge of the tub, attempting to dislodge the plunger from behind the toilet and then demanding to eat brush-full after brush-full of Thomas the Tank Engine toothpaste. That’s when mommy gets mad, really, really mad! I know it won’t last forever. Some people say that although it may peak at 18 months, this intense attachment and "separation anxiety" could last until 2 to 3 years of age!! People tell me that they wish their teenagers would show a mere shred of affection towards them, "just wait until she’s fourteen," they warn. But for me, for now, this is intense in ways that are frustrating and depleting as I reach the limits of my affection, empathy and ability to control my own inner toddler (temper tantrums aren’t just for babies, you know). But the Pet has always been intense and so be it! She is in the murky process of creating a separate self, between baby and toddler and she knows where it is good. She knows that I understand her language, her wants and needs. She knows that I am responsive to her from every fiber in my body. She knows this and so do I. So, our house is alive and messy with the raw emotion of want, hot with the bartering and negotiation of need and wild with the pushes and pulls of closeness and separateness. How is it in your house? Has the "mama" effect infected your home too?

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Mayday, Mayday

OMG! I can’t believe a month just went by without a single blog post. Unfortunately I’m still in the thick of final projects, exams, soccer season, b-ball tryouts and eighteen month separation dramas. I am recovering from “turn off the TV” week, outdoor installation projects, a research paper, car troubles and too much wine at bookclub!

Exhaustion has really overcome me lately and I need a “kick” to get me through the rest of the semester. Thankfully, there will be no classes this summer and daycare is in sight! It is seriously time to reclaim more of my long lost life. Hopefully the super attachment issues will soon pass and we can transition into a few mornings a week at the Children’s Center. I have been very excited to have three of my pieces in exhibits in the last month and may be making editions of one of my books for an artist’s book dealer and I certainly can’t do that with a little monkey plastering me with stickers, unwinding my spools of thread and dropping “Mr. Brown can Moo” in my lap. “Work” time has been a real struggle now that the Pet is so mobile, curious and oh so in love with her mother. “Mama,” she says and looks up adoringly at me, just checking that I am still there.

We have gotten rather active as of late and have visited the monkeys in the zoo, the butterflies at the museum and the fish at the aquarium. The Pet is all of a sudden saying things like monkey, key, shoe, (s)nack, bee, on, up, in, hi, bye, doggie, meow, cracker and slew of other words. She loves a puzzle these days, playing in the sink and walking to the coffee shop with dada. Juj meanwhile is starting to care how his hair looks in the morning and is now taking showers before school just like Dad. JB will start practicing Neurology at the end of July and soon we will be looking for a place to call our own!!! Change is welcome.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

The Teething Project


So, here I am attempting to study the Sanskrit names of 27 yoga poses, while Lil Pet decides to grow two new canine teeth, and appropriately behave like a bad mannered puppy. She climbs over me while I draw figures bent in Trikonasana, circles me as I attempt Tree Pose while listening to a study CD in which the instructor repeats the Sanskrit names over and over and over... Lil Pet is in a developmental echolaylia stage says the "in house" Neurologist and can gibber-jabber in complete sentences, so it didn't surprise me when she attempted salamba sarvangasana. Her words are multiplying these days and she repeats/attempts to repeat any word that comes her way. Grandpa swore he heard her say Easter Bunny the other day and aside from her favorite No, No, No, she likes to say Go!, Uh Oh, Owie, Ucky, Juj, baby, kitty, monkey, and the ever popular Mama and Dada. She tried out book yesterday, repeating it over and over with a heavy accent on k. Today it is booky instead. She loves to Meow! and Choo Choo! and make a ticking sound when she sees a bike, fan or helicopter. So the teeth are still pushing through and the Pet is managing some sounds other than EH! I'm worn down by the whining and the "studying" and the attempt (see above) at a 3-d nature project. And again by the dang cold weather. But if I learned nothing else in yoga class, I hope to remember to approach these days with equanimity. Soon, of course, the semester will end, summer will arrive and the Pet will have a mouthful of teeth and a whole lot more to say!