Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Very, very tired

Ugh. I just managed to slog my way through a previously promised Christmas ornament crafting session with Sister while the baby slept. Now I'm running her bath and taking a moment to blog. I am truly exhausted at this point after several nights in a row of extremely interrupted sleep. Dinner is not yet started. There is research on Poland plus a diorama to begin construction of for Sister's second grade class. Thankfully, Husband will be home shortly to help Sister navigate the vast wasteland that is Google so I won't have to.

In the meantime, will a delicious cocktail make me cheerful or just sleepy? Both, I think, but it would be nice to be cheerful at least once today.

Best Gin Fizz Ever

2 oz gin
1 oz fresh lemon juice
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
1/4 oz Cointreau or triple sec
1/2 oz simple syrup
2-3 oz club soda

Half-fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add all the ingredients except club soda. Shake to chill and blend. Pour into a highball glass over ice and top with club soda. Give it a quick stir and drink it, woman, drink it.

20 years to go

Mostly I'm in no hurry for my kids to grow up and leave me. Mostly I love being a mama of young children. But there's one thing that, when I see it, makes me want desperately for it to be about 20 years later than it is now. It's when I walk into a coffee shop and see an elderly couple sitting together, reading different sections of the paper, sipping their coffees, and occasionally reading each other something interesting. You can tell they've been there for hours, that this is a routine event for them and unremarkable. You can tell that they can and will stay there for as long as they feel like it before going on to the other parts of their days that I am not witness to. I really, really want that life. Sometimes I want it RIGHT NOW.

I wish I knew an elderly woman I could pose some questions to. The oldest woman I am good friends with is in her 50's--hardly elderly. But if I knew some spry old lady in her 70's well enough, here's what I would ask her: Do you keep having sex when you're old? How often do you do it? Do you still feel like the same person you've always been and feel some surprise when you look in the mirror and see that you don't look like you feel? If you've been married a long time, have you always been happy or has it always been hard? If you divorced after many years, did you see it coming?

Don't worry, those of you who actually know me. My marriage is fine and I'm happy just now. Perhaps a little sleep-deprived, but happy. I'm just the impatient sort, don't you know.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The taste of fear

The following post is about 10% pride, I'll admit it, and 90% fear. Today, while hanging out with the fabulous, 7-month old baby Bean she crawled over to me, pulled herself up onto my knees and STOOD UP WITHOUT HOLDING ONTO ANYTHING for just a second. I am NOT ready for this child to be walking anytime in the near future. Pray with me that this was just a fluke. Please.

One Singapore Sling, coming up!

I'm extremely happy to say that I found my beloved Singapore Sling recipe last night. Had one of those instead of a Sidecar, actually, and it was just as delicious as I remembered it being, though complicated as hell to make. However, if you're feeling ambitious and have a perfectly ripe pineapple lying around, along with some really pretty expensive types of booze, then this is your cocktail. Happy holidays!

Singapore Sling

1 good-sized chunk of fresh, ripe pineapple
1 oz gin
1 oz fresh lemon juice
1/2 oz cherry brandy (the real kind from somewhere in Europe, not the cheap stuff)
1/2 oz Cointreau
splash of simple syrup
splash of Benedictine
good quality ginger ale or ginger beer

Muddle the pineapple in the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Add 4 cubes of ice and all the rest of the ingredients except ginger ale. Shake to mix and chill. Strain into an ice-filled highball glass and top with ginger ale. Float a little more cherry brandy and Benedictine on top and enjoy!

(Note: I don't know about the rest of you mamas out there, but I like a tasty cocktail during the long, pre-winter holiday nights. I'm going to try posting a recipe everyday because I do have lots. I promise they won't all contain gin.)

She's cute but her grandma dresses her funny

Alright, if your opinion of me is already borderline then this post will no doubt send you over to the camp of Sugarmama sux, if only because I'm going to go a little crazy with the all caps here in just a minute. But rant I must and what's a personal blog for if not to indulge your own pettiness without fear of retribution?

The rant goes thusly. Some of you may already know my custody arrangement with Sister's father. We have joint custody of her and the way we've worked it out he's got her most weekends and takes her to school a couple of days. (Nevermind just now how I really hate this arrangement now that my life no longer includes working weekends.) This means that 2 days out of 5 the Ex, or rather the Ex's mother, gets Sister ready for school. May I just say that whenever I resume custody of Sister on Tuesdays and pick her up from school she almost invariably looks like a complete street urchin?

I'll have you know I really have zero interest in making my child into a fashion plate. Sister can choose her clothes if she wants and I don't care what she puts on as long as it's weather appropriate. I am the anti-label queen when it comes to fashionable clothing for any of us in this household. I still shop at the thrift store even, folks! But the other day when I picked her up it was 40 degrees outside and my sweet girl was dressed in a tie-dyed, sleeveless tank dress that she had definitely outgrown LAST YEAR. We're talking size 5-6 on a very tall child wearing size 8 now. (Not to mention that--okay, my snarkiness is showing here--tie-dyed anything is completely unacceptable on anything in this century unless maybe it's something your own kid makes with one of those tie-dye kits she got for her birthday.) So, ugly-ass tank dress with no shirt underneath and no pants, no tights, NOTHING to warm her blue-white, goose-pimpled legs on the walk home from school. She did, however, have completely unmatching rainbow-hued socks and BLACK SUEDE moccasin-type shoes. No warm winter coat, just a thinly-lined raincoat. She actually smelled because they had kept her up so late going to some stupid potluck on a school night that there was no time to give her a bath. Jesus God. I asked her nonchalantly if she had dressed herself that morning and, get this, HER GRANDMA HAD CHOSEN HER OUTFIT!

At the risk of offending others I want to say that my ex-mother-in-law is a woman who has never worn make-up, never pierced her ears, and dresses straight out of L.L. Bean. I REALLY hope that Sister won't derive her personal aesthetic from her, but whatever, fine, no problem, different kind of woman, different aesthetic, I can be down with that. However. Woman, if you're going to be all my-son-has-as-much-right-as-you-to-time-with-her and hiring lawyers for him and shit, please make an attempt at taking care of her as well as I do. Dress my child in clothes that fit and are warm and that maybe don't make her look TOO much like the poster child for anti-materialism. Is that really too much to ask?

Monday, November 28, 2005

Sleep deprived

I remember being at a party once where one of the guests walked in with her family in tow, looking very cross indeed. When I asked her why she wore such a sour look she told me, gesturing impatiently at her sullen-looking daughter, "I don't like her very much right now." That was a revelation to me, that not only could you be mad at your kids but you could also tell someone and no one would smite you down or call child protective services.

That party was some years ago now and as a fairly experienced mom I am now perfectly comfortable telling you that I am mad at the baby this morning. Not so mad that I'll do anything horrible, of course. But our little bundle of joy hasn't slept well AT ALL since we went to Atlanta for Thanksgiving. I feel like I'm nursing her around the clock. She "only" woke up 3 times last night to nurse, and for that I feel grateful, that's how bad it's been. She's spent the morning screaming at me because she is also, of course, quite sleep-deprived. And she just now fell asleep after more screaming, literally MINUTES before I was going to walk out the door with her to go have a cheering lunch with Sister at school. I haven't seen Sister in days since she was spending Thanksgiving with her dad this year. I miss my child who is only sarcastic at times and never screams at me anymore.

I'm looking forward to tonight when Husband will be home to take over babycare and WON'T be hogging the computer for work-related projects. I will most likely be enjoying one of these after the baby goes to sleep:


1-1/2 oz Courvoisier
3/4 oz Cointreau
1/2 oz freshly-squeezed lemon juice

Shake with ice in a cocktail shaker. Strain into a sugar-rimmed martini glass.

(Note to my oh pie maker, if you're out there: I am lamenting the apparent loss of my perfect Singapore Sling recipe. I can't find it anywhere! Guess I'll have to reinvent it as best I can and I'll post it once I'm successful. Sniff. This day sucks.)

Sunday, November 27, 2005

The one and only mama

We're home again, thank God, and I once again have internet access. Blogging becomes addictive, huh? I've been jonesing to post for days now.

We've just returned from the Thanksgiving trip from hell. Husband and I were somehow in charge of organizing and preparing the usual feast at Husband's father's house in Atlanta. I was feeling nonchalant about the actual cooking since I'm pretty handy in a kitchen. This despite the fact that we were flying in from out of town and were going to have to hit the grocery store as soon as we got off the plane. An uncle was bringing a few side items, Husband's brother would pick up some pies, etc. It went pretty smoothly, really, despite a bit if stress and NO SLEEP the night before. (Our Bean is the world's most wretched travelling baby.) Once all the elderly relatives began arriving, however, my nonchalance was dashed as I heard Husband utter these words to his aunt: "This, of course, would never have passed muster with my mother." The silver wasn't polished, there was no centerpiece, the cloth napkins weren't all matching, no tablecloth--these are the things I think he meant. I don't think Husband quite realized how this would come out, but nevertheless, hey, thanks a lot, honey. Next year, maybe we can have Thanksgiving HERE at our own house where I can do things up and actually have fun. And the baby will sleep, for chrissakes. And I don't have to stay with and make lunch for your father so that your brother can go work out and you can go for a nice run out of the ridiculously overheated house. And I won't get a little case of food poisoning from the Mexican restaurant down the street just a few hours before we're supposed to board an early flight home. (I'm actually no longer bitter but maybe WAS feeling a little resentful before we got home sweet home. I love home.)

But Husband's comment does beg the question for me of why men can be this way about their mothers. I think I've mentioned before I thought that dynamic you read about in crappy women's novels where men remain mama's boys all their lives was a complete fabrication. I thought that right up until the time that I married my Ex when it was proved to be real right quick. Now Husband is no mama's boy and never was. And I must say here that his mother died horribly from cancer about 3 years ago and really was an interesting, kind woman, though I never got to know her very well. But why do men nearly always walk into their adult lives with some form of mama idolization? I don't see it happening with women and their mothers. Do women do this with their fathers instead? I wouldn't know, as my father left us when I was very little (and good riddance). It's something I continue to puzzle about as the mama of young girls and no boys. Perhaps if I had a son I would begin to understand it, or maybe some of you ladies out there with sweet little boys have a clue. I do confess that a little idolization sounds pretty appealing, though I would hope that any son I had would still grow up to be an independent man capable of taking care of himself and others. But to be the woman against whom all others are measured? Maybe not so bad.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Too much time on my hands

I find myself lately with not only the time to pursue extracurricular (i.e., non-baby and child-care) activities, but also the time to feel angst about them. I'm sure this is extremely stupid of me. I mean, I should be so grateful to have any extra time at all, right? Especially when compared with my life this time last year, working nearly around the clock in a busy bakery, making Thanksgiving pies for the masses WHILE PREGNANT. It truly sucked and I'm glad to be done with that life.

But has anyone looked at my profile? I threw "gin cocktails" into my interests so that I didn't come across as truly square, but really my interests are thoroughly domestic. I've taken up quilting as of last year and absolutely love it. I'm interested in sewing in general, in fact, especially stuff for the house. I love to bake. I love to cook. I love to have people over to feed them. I love gardening. I basically love all things associated with being at home. I've even gone through phases of home-canning, soap-making, and a brief fling with knitting, for chrissakes! I don't think I'm alone if Martha Stewart's billion dollar empire means anything, but still it's hard to make all these sorts of hobbies sound interesting to anyone else, at a cocktail party for example. Throw "stay-at-home mom" into the conversation and pretty shortly I'm the biggest wallflower present. Just a couple of days ago I attended a workshop sponsored by my neighborhood gardening club (See?) on decorating for the holidays (See? See?!). If it weren't for the fact that 2 of the presenters were young, stereotypically flamboyant gay men I would've felt completely old-fashioned, surrounded as I was by every little old lady this side of Durham. My interests do tend toward the old-ladyish it would seem. Everytime I walk into my favorite local quilt store it is quite noticably devoid of anyone my age.

I asked Husband recently if I was tending too alarmingly towards the domestic sphere, if he was worried that instead of a modern, enlightened young woman he found that he had in fact married Laura Ingalls Wilder. He gave me a typically honest answer to the effect that as long as I had interests that I was excited about I was still an exciting person. If I were to lose interest in any sort of hobby, well, that apparently would be a different story. So I guess I shouldn't beat myself up about what truly are my interests. Once upon a time, I had fantasies of being so uber-competent that I could literally produce anything I needed to live in my life--growing and preserving food, raising animals, making clothes and bed linens, even building houses. I guess it's not so surprising then that given a little extra time I'm getting back into those old hobbies. But I just wish I was more interesting at cocktail parties.

Monday, November 21, 2005

November blahs

This is about the creepiest, weirdest article I have come across in some time. The prototypical mama-face as the source of alien abduction stories? Yikes!

This has been about the most blah day I've had in some time. Must be the dreary November weather--the sky steely gray and a cold drizzle that's lasted all day, plus recent temperatures in the 20's having turned everything in my front yard a slimy dark green. Ick. Here are some of the high- and low-lights:

Pro: Got a bit more sleep last night than I've been getting lately.
Con: Bean is still teething.

Pro: Bean did get one of her 2 top teeth which seems to have diminished her suffering somewhat.
Con: She can now make this awful grating noise by rubbing her bottom teeth and new top tooth together. Like nails on a chalkboard, seriously.

Con: I somehow lost the diamond out of my engagement ring over the weekend and it still makes me sad.
Pro: No pro to this one, unless I'm supposed to end up being a less materialistic person out of it or something? Screw that. I loved that particular piece of material.

Pro: The baby has officially begun crawling!
Con: The baby has officially begun crawling and made her first official crawling-related mess today--turned over the cats' water dish while I wasn't paying attention. Just water, but it's a harbinger of messes to come. Guess we really need to childproof the house here one of these days...

Pro: Thanksgiving is coming up and I am very fond of Thanksgiving.
Con: We are flying with Bean to spend the holiday with Husband's father. Upon our arrival we will need to immediately brave the thronged Whole Foods store to shop for everything we need to cook dinner for a crowd of 11! I love to cook, even for big parties, but that's an uncomfortably narrow window of time in which to get everything ready.

Maybe I'll just give up on this particular day and go ahead and get into my pajamas. Especially since my darling baby has just hurled milky spit-up all down the leg of the new black pants I'm wearing. Sigh.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

The enchanted retail forest

First, another haiku:

Little sleep last night.
Teething baby. Cross husband.
Please, teeth, come on out!

I went to Target yesterday, fully intending to follow the list I had virtuously drawn up beforehand: bar set for recently-eloped friends, Neutrogena lipstick in a shade I can't find anywhere else, baby bath seat, and perhaps a few baskets or tins in which to pack Christmas goodies for friends. List firmly in hand and a commitment to just get in and out in my heart, I strode resolutely into the new SuperTarget near my house. I got Bean--blessedly sleeping--in her car seat clamped down to the front of the cart and made it about 20 feet into the belly of the beast when my brain turned to mush and I became lost in the enchanted retail forest that is pre-Christmas Target.

Does this happen to anyone else? I began to realize what was happening to me, shook my head, cast down my eyes to avoid temptation, and made it to the baby section to search for a bath seat. They had none. At this point I was toast. Not finding the seat meant that they had me--I was completely adrift, my list a meaningless slip of scrap paper. I took a left out of the baby supply aisles only to be confronted with cute socks in Sister's size that would be perfect in her stocking. One pair with Santa printed on them and one pair with a small, stuffed reindeer head attached to them, into the cart.

Then onto the Christmas aisle, which it turns out at this time of the year is no one aisle, but row upon row of them, bristling with shiny, tempting goods bursting beguilingly out to the front of the shelves to lure you in. I was looking for baskets or tins? 6 sturdy boxes in bright colors and patterns, 6 snowflake-patterned Chinese take-out boxes, 8 gift bags, a set of overpriced gift tags, a soccer-related Christmas ornament to go in Sister's stocking, a painted tin Christmas tree in which you could put about 5 pieces of candy, plus a combined total of 200 feet of tinsel star garlands in various colors, all into the cart. Trying to get a grip on myself, I fairly sprinted towards the kitchen ware to find the bar set. On the way somehow a set of pink flannel, snowwomen-printed sheets for Sister's bed made it into the cart as well.

Once in the kitchen section, I had to firmly talk myself out of adorable Christmas-printed melamine plates and various ceramic platters that I hankered for. (I might add here that I already have about a dozen platters currently residing in my kitchen. Perhaps I should call it a collection and stop feeling guilty.) Did I really need that 3-tiered server? No, but it was so cute and I could use it for Sister's Christmas party! Must...resist...hard-to-store kitchen item....I found the bar set I was looking for, but couldn't make it out of the kitchen section without a new candy thermometer for myself--just in case my other one breaks during the upcoming baking and candy-making frenzy, don'tcha know.

Then, growing weary at this point, I finally made it over to the cosmetics aisle where I found my preferred shade of lipstick. Plus a little pot of advanced moisture repair lipgloss. Totalling it all up in my head, I realized that I needed to do a little "un-shopping." The sheets went back, and I got a cheaper-by-the-foot shade of garland, but that's all I could bring myself to return. I love Target! I hate Target! I barely made it out of there, slightly dizzy and confused, just squeaking under the $100 mark. Hope all my friends don't mind cookies for Christmas. I promise they'll be beautifully packaged!

Friday, November 18, 2005

Morning Haiku

Composed in the shower this morning:

A teething baby
With a cold woke me a lot.
Stupid monitor!

Slept too late today
But don't worry, eat breakfast.
We'll just drive to school.

Martha's mag instills
A sense of holiday angst:
100 cookies!

After school today
Sister goes to my mom's house.
A calm night ahead.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Visions of sugarplums

Sister's behaviour has been on an upswing at school for the last few weeks. I am grateful. Visions of medicating her or else removing her from school to homeschool have faded from my forebrain. I'm still a little scared to ask her teacher how she thinks things are going with her, but maybe I'll brave this conversation after the holidays.

In the meantime, if Sister can finish this week out with lots of smiley faces on her behaviour chart I'm going to allow her to have a Christmas party. A little girls Christmas tea party, in fact. Husband thinks this idea is ridiculous--"a kid having a Christmas party?!" he snorts, but it's not like I'll be serving cocktails! I do, however, realize that my vision of this party, Sister's vision of this party, and what actually transpires are not likely to jibe very well. I confess that my vision is of sweet little girls dressed in holiday finery, having cups of punch or cider and little plates of sweets. Said sweets loom large in my vision. I'm picturing beautiful pyramids of cream puffs, artfully decorated sugar cookies that Sister and I have whipped up ourselves, glass dishes sparkling in the afternoon sun and filled with homemade brittle, powdered sugar dusted wedding cakes. I'm imagining that the girls will fill their plates with these confections, appreciating that they are homemade, will eat them in a civilized fashion. We'll all play some rousing party games outside because the day won't be too cold or rainy to be comfortable. And at the appointed hour, the parents will pick up their well-behaved offspring, who will smile charmingly and thank us on our way out. This is my vision.

Sister's vision goes something like this. Guests will arrive in their holiday finery, but Sister will still be the prettiest, with the most interesting use of hair scrunchies to top it off. The other little girls will all be in awe of the sweets as Sister proudly brags that she helped make them over and over again. The guests will not tire of hearing this. Sister will give them a tour of her room and her toys and they'll admire everything, envy her quantities of stuff. But they won't complain when Sister wants them to merely look and not touch. Sister will have a number of party games planned and there'll be time for every single one. Each guest will clamor for her to be their partner. The girls will be allowed to hoover down the sweets, as much as they want, as fast as they can cram it into their mouths. Someone will have brought a puppy. Everyone will be allowed to stay an extra couple of hours once their parents get here and realize what a fantastic party it is and how much fun they're all having together.

Of course the truth is somewhere in the middle. Well, o.k., perhaps closer to Sister's version than mine, minus the puppy I hope. And if you think I don't really know that there will also be temper tantrums, tears, things broken, things spilled, things knocked over, clique-ish infighting, stained clothing, hurt feelings, and general bad behaviour due to multiple sugar highs in a small space because that day there'll be pouring rain, even sleet!, then you're wrong. I do know this somewhere. But I think I'll let her do it anyway.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

100 Things to Eat

There's nothing like a good, old-fashioned, on-yer-hands-and-knees kitchen floor scrubbing to eliminate self-pity and feelings of victimization. As much as I hate house-cleaning of pretty much any sort, I get a perverse pleasure in taking on a major task like this. (My kitchen is pretty big and floored completely in white linoleum.) I may not be in charge of my destiny or the people in my life, but I can damn sure be in charge of how clean my kitchen is. I feel like my old self again.

So I've been thinking about composing my own list of 100 Things since like any blogger I am under the illusion that random strangers are interested in my life. But since I've been so very self-indulgent and whiney lately, and also since my favorite food holidays are fast approaching, I thought I'd instead compose a list of 100 Things to Eat. They're my favorites in no particular order--mostly homemade by me or someone else, but I didn't want to have to keep typing homemade. Have I mentioned how much I love all things food? Must be a Cancer thing.

100 Things to Eat
  1. home-grown tomatoes of any kind
  2. a cherry tomato called "Sungold," I don't care who grows it
  3. corn picked and immediately cooked and eaten
  4. homemade jelly doughnuts, still hot
  5. actually Krispy Kreme glazed doughnuts, still hot, rock too
  6. cornichon pickles
  7. kimchee
  8. bacon
  9. fried chicken
  10. biscuits and gravy
  11. eggs over-medium
  12. very delicious hashbrowns made from grated potatoes
  13. watermelon rind pickles
  14. ripe canteloupe slices
  15. strawberries picked during a drought year (makes them super-flavorful)
  16. mint sorbet
  17. cheese grits
  18. fresh oysters
  19. also fried oysters
  20. fried oysters on a salad with maybe some bacon vinaigrette and lemon slices to squeeze over it all
  21. hazelnut sandies (These cookies are my all-time favorite. I'll give you the recipe if you email me!)
  22. lemon chess pie
  23. buttermilk pie sprinkled with cinnamon
  24. really good butter used in baked goods (It does make a difference.)
  25. foie gras
  26. fried chicken livers
  27. French fries that look like they were cut from an actual potato, with skins on and everything. With mayonnaise, not ketchup.
  28. fried catfish
  29. Can you tell I'm a Southerner yet?
  30. fried chicken tofu (you heard me) from Ann Jackson's cookbook, Heart of the Home. (I can't seem to make this link to her book on Amazon work.) She's an incredible woman.
  31. sticky buns made from brioche dough and fresh from the oven
  32. cucumber and onion pickles
  33. Japanese pickles from sushi restaurants
  34. any good, sour, crunchy pickles
  35. oh, and pickled okra
  36. seafood gumbo
  37. vichysoisse
  38. split pea soup
  39. crusty fresh bread
  40. cherry preserves
  41. manchego cheese
  42. gouda with plenty of age on it
  43. hand-made salamis from this cute New York Italian guy in Greensboro, NC (I know you New Yorkers have got this sort of place on every block, but everything this guy makes is incredible, and if you're in NC then it's worth a day trip.)
  44. big hunks of fresh, ripe watermelon eaten on a wooden deck at the beach
  45. medium rare hamburgers
  46. rare steaks
  47. Yo, did you know that I was a vegetarian for 8 years? It doesn't show anymore, I know...
  48. Coke in a small glass bottle, so thoroughly chilled that there are ice crystals in it.
  49. pork roast and sauerkraut
  50. pierogis that Sister helps me make from my grandmother's recipe
  51. Hey, I'm 1/4 Polish, too. I have in my possession a letter written to my grandmother from a cousin, giving her a recipe for calves feet in aspic. Haven't tried that one yet.
  52. goat stew in a Haitian restaurant on my honeymoon with Husband in Miami
  53. Also, I spent the first 10 years of my life in Miami, and I'm injecting all these autobiographical tidbits because all of them inform my culinary interests. Southerner, Pole, and formative semi-tropical childhood.
  54. fried plantain chips purchased at a corner market in Little Haiti in Miami, or actually any large grocery store down there
  55. pecan pralines made with a bit of good bourbon
  56. very good chocolate
  57. amaretti cookies reeking of almond paste
  58. Actually, my secret baking vice is eating raw dough of any kind. Some people find it gross to eat raw pie dough, raw biscuit dough, croissant dough, that kind of thing. I wonder if I'm getting some trace nutrient that way, it's so delicious to me.
  59. a really ripe pear
  60. really ripe peaches
  61. sour cherry pie
  62. homemade chocolate ice cream with maybe some hint of coffee and rum
  63. mushroom pate
  64. rumaki!
  65. fried rice with scrambled egg bits in it
  66. fresh shrimp
  67. Ooh! Ooh! Sauteed soft shell crabs!
  68. those little warm chocolate cakes that when you cut into them they ooze out liquid chocolate batter
  69. dried cherries
  70. crackers with butter on them
  71. bread and butter, too (Takes me back to toddlerhood. My mom claims I used to sneak sticks of butter out of the fridge when I was kid and eat them like popsicles. I don't remember this.)
  72. MY cornbread (and no one else's)
  73. posole verde, a traditional Mexican hominy stew I learned how to make from some line cooks from Guanajuato several years ago
  74. popcorn popped on the stove, in a big pot, with plenty of melted butter, salt, and a sprinkling of nutritional yeast
  75. cinnamon graham crackers
  76. black-eyed peas
  77. collard greens cooked the Southern way, with red chili flakes and diced salt pork, on the stove all day and with plenty of pot likker to soak up with MY cornbread
  78. chicken and dumplings
  79. chicken pie made like Gran made it
  80. chicken pot pie like I make it for Sister
  81. plain ol' cheese souffle (Everyone in our house loves this and I still maintain that if we have eggs, we have dinner.)
  82. a cold glass of milk when I'm really craving it
  83. homemade spiced apple butter (I'm kind of hooked on this lately, stirred into vanilla yogurt, with toasted almonds sprinkled on top.)
  84. my mom's grilled cheese sandwiches (She uses, um...Velveeta.)
  85. Breyer's mint chocolate chip ice cream
  86. Should I list cocktails here, too? I make the most ass-kickin' gin fizz you'll ever taste, using fresh-squeezed citrus juices. I'll send you the recipe for that, too, if you ask me.
  87. Mmm, cocktails. Gin gimlets are our house drink.
  88. mojitos
  89. Singapore slings are divine if you make them the complicated old way, using fresh pineapple, real cherry brandy and Benedictine. Oh my.
  90. ceviche
  91. calamari
  92. bittersweet chocolate mousse
  93. fresh salsa of any kind with freshly fried flour tortilla chips to dip into it
  94. caramel sauce
  95. any dessert anyone makes for me
  96. but really any food at all that anyone makes for me. There is a certain grace that you have to practice as an adult woman to allow someone else to feed you. This appeals to me, and I'm trying to teach this to Sister. (Who, by the way, is a fantastic eater)
  97. Okay, almost done, but this is still coming pretty easily. Real onion rings--the kind that actually have the stringy onions inside them
  98. hot blackberry cobbler
  99. I can't believe I didn't think of mashed potatoes sooner than this!
  100. my Polish grandmother's weird compote made of sectioned grapefruits and oranges stirred together with a bag of butter mints. She used to serve this at holidays. The mints dissolve and it all becomes this deliciously sour, sweet, minty, unctuous, slurpy ambrosia. Strange but true.
And that's it! Hope you enjoyed it. Thinking about delicious food always cheers me up anyway.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

How the other half lives

There's this new parenting magazine, Cookie, that's so over the top it's not even threatening. Here's a link to a sneak peek of their charter issue, where they offer their recommendations for your kid's first birthday party. Petit fours, candied chestnuts, or truffled goose foie gras, my sweet little punkin? Sheesh. Makes Chuck E. Cheese look like a reasonable option after all.

I promise that tomorrow I won't be such a sourpuss. This big ol' glass of red wine and a bowl of Ben and Jerry's coming up are going to do me right.

My Ex sux. Again.

I just picked up Sister from school after spending my afternoon volunteering at the school book fair, only to have her tell me despondently that she was supposed to be picked up by her dad for his birthday. This was news to me. It's in our custody agreement that Sister can spend her parents' birthdays with the respective parent, but Ex has only done this about half the time in the past. The other half he's chosen instead to go have adult fun with friends, which I certainly don't blame him for doing. It's not something I assumed he would be doing, in other words, since he hadn't mentioned it. I tried mightily to be soothing to Sister and only narrowly avoided her really bursting into tears while all the other volunteering mamas pretended not to be listening in.

I got home to a message on the answering machine and expected it to be my Ex clearing things up. It was my Ex alright, calling only minutes before, but merely to ask me how much he owed me for Sister's insurance premium. No mention of the pick-up mix-up.

So I called his mommy to try and figure things out. He answered, insisted that he had asked me about having her on his birthday. When I reminded him that he had merely mentioned he was having a birthday and wanted to get married, he hedged. But then covered any feelings of responsibility for his error by yelling at me about how difficult it was to communicate with me. I'll have you know that while my hands were shaking and my voice catching with the adrenalin rush that shot through my bloodstream, I remained perfectly calm on the phone--even conciliatory!--and did not yell in front of Sister.

She's gone now, whisked off by her dad and his mom to his birthday party at his parents' house. Bean is sleeping. Husband isn't coming home til late tonight because of a blogging conference. And I'm just here alone, trying to come down off the adrenalin kick. It's times like these when I could use a good, stiff cocktail containing gin, breastfeeding and afternoon hour be damned.

Another reason to feel like shit if you're a divorced mama

A few days ago, in order not to run out of things to write about on this blog, I signed up to receive news alerts from Google. Among other things, one of the topics I signed up for was divorce. This was very, very stupid of me as a divorced mama. There was an article on divorce's effects on children published in the Washington Post about a week ago that's generating lots of heated commentary. The author, Elizabeth Marquardt, is affiliated with the Institue for American Values, which I know next to nothing about except that from their website they appear to be some kind of conservative organization backing research on the glories of (hetero- only!) marriage and how much you suck if you divorce your spouse. I am not generally in the habit of taking what right-wing pundits say to heart. Nevertheless, it's hard not to feel like a complete asshole mommy once again for having left Sister's father and apparently doing her irreparable harm.

I suspect my angst is going to generate a flurry of comforting comments, which would not be unwelcome, but the reason why this article bothers me so much is that some of it really rings true. Marquardt cites a study where children of divorce complain that they become different people depending on whether they're at mom's or dad's house. Sister totally does this already, at 7 years old. At our house, she is generally well-behaved and polite, has chores that she does, uses table manners, that sort of thing. But I've witnessed her in her dad's care acting...perhaps "chaotically" is the right word. There's this element to her behaviour that is kind of wide-open, skating the edge between ebullience and out-of-control. I beat myself up sometimes thinking that she's going to hate me when she's a little older and I'm the disciplinarian, the one who enforces the rules. I know, I know, kids need structure, they feel more secure with rules, yada yada. But I worry sometimes that I'm overcompensating and being too strict. I dread the day that she tells me she'd rather live with her dad and grandparents than with me.

It wasn't an easy decision to leave the Ex 6 years ago. Sister was only a year old, still nursing even. The Ex and I had actually decided that Sister and I would move out for just a few months to see if that would help alleviate our very stressed marriage. I was discussing this on the phone with a good friend who asked me did I really think this would help or did I just need to decide to leave permanently. A good question--I realized in an instant that this leaving was for keeps. I wanted out. The Ex's mother sent me a letter pleading for me to stay and go to marriage counselling instead, that I was going to scar Sister for life, that she would never be happy. Ugh. A study had just come out then, too, concluding that children of unhappy marriages are still happier and healthier than children of divorced parents. I agonized over that, but ultimately decided that I just couldn't do it. The Ex wasn't abusive or anything, but I just couldn't stay with him in a miserable marriage, no matter who it was going to hurt. I told myself that it wasn't doing Sister any good to witness her parents being so unhappy, that she really needed more positive models, etc. But really I knew that it was an entirely selfish decision.

So here I am now. My life is great with a new baby and a marriage that shows no signs of wear at all, to a husband I adore. But it feels like Sister is only half a part of it since she's gone nearly half the time. Scratch the surface and my life is odd and tense. I hope desperately that Sister will be o.k., that somehow we'll do this the right way and she'll grow up not feeling the 2 halves of her life as that awfully separate.

In the meantime, I'm going to stop receiving news alerts about divorce.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Blog shorts

I got my hair cut over the weekend and as always wasn't quite sure how I liked it.
Me: So does this haircut look even more like a mom haircut than my previous one?
Husband: (loyally) No!
Sister: (shouting) Yes!

I dropped Sister off at her dad's house last night. Since my last email to him in which I told him he absolutely would not be taking any of my holiday time with Sister away, I haven't heard from him. We chatted about this a bit and then he, master of the non sequitur, came out with: "I
turn 38 on Tuesday."
Me: Yeah, almost 40, huh?
Ex: Oh, no! I need to get married!
Me: (non-commitally) Hmmm.
Ex: I need to get someone to set me up. Maybe I should talk to your Husband.
Me: (at a complete loss as to what to say. Consider suggesting not staying with his parents every frickin' weekend and perhaps, I don't know, getting a job. But if he doesn't know this by now then me telling him won't help. Bless his heart.)

I have once again volunteered to be the troop cookie manager for Sister's Brownie troop. This after performing the role last year and insisting to myself that I would never do it again. For one thing, one of the parents spent the proceeds of her daughter's sales--about $700--and ended up having to get her parents to write a check to cover the amount at, literally, the last minute before I had to turn over the cash to the Girl Scouts head honchos. (Those ladies DO NOT fuck around, just to warn any future Brownie/Girl Scout parents.) Another set of parents bought many boxes themselves just so that their daughter could have a special badge over and above the regular badge that the rest of the troop got. And then spent the last month of the sale trying to get me to buy them all back with the troop's money. On the flip side, the troop's co-leaders dedicate so much of their time that I feel guilty not doing what I can. Throw a little guilt my way and I'm a complete sucker.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Weekend musings

I hope this post will end up making sense by the time I'm through. I composed the outline while nursing Bean at 2:00 a.m., and am now trying to flesh it out to the sounds of Jimmy Neutron in the not-so-far-away background. I usually like having a house on the small side, but the office in the same room with the only t.v. in the house means that I keep getting distracted by stupid Bratz commercials and Barbie pony fairy snack oven thingies being advertised to Sister. She's only allowed to watch cartoons on weekends, I swear.

Sister's last soccer game of the season was yesterday, I'm happy to say. Husband and I spent it on the sidelines chatting with one of the other moms, who also happens to be Sister's Brownie troop co-leader. I really like her a lot. She's also a stay-at-home mom-- she has triplets!--and is a former nurse. She and her husband, an emergency room doctor, make far more money than we do, live in a much bigger house in a much swanker neighborhood. I thought about being intimidated by this when we first met, but really she's so unassuming and fun to talk to and not at all caught up in the trappings of their life that it's a non-issue.

Anyhow, we all sat around talking and intermittently cheering on the girls. The topic was the vast amount of suffering in the world--children starving, tsunamis wiping out whole cities, earthquakes killing thousands--and how overwhelming it can be to consider it all. Triplets' Mom was saying they'd just gotten a new puppy for the kids and she'd gone to the local yuppie dog supply store and just felt embarrassed when confronted by thousands of dollars worth of doggie treat inventory. It is pretty warped when you really step outside of yourself to see it, isn't it? I mean, as much as we all love our doggies...? Husband told a story about when he was growing up in Atlanta, there was an older man in his neighborhood who had adopted a patch of no-man's-land at the top of the block. It was just a roughly 10 X 12-foot piece of land that would otherwise not be taken care of. This man would wheel his lawn mower up the street and mow the patch, weed it, and generally tidy it up. Husband later realized it was perhaps the sanest response possible to all the craziness out there. He imagined the man thinking something like: "I don't care what happens out there. This patch WILL BE MOWED AND WEEDED AND CLEANED UP." Triplets' Mom added, "Yeah, and no genocide on THIS patch! Not on MY watch!" We laughed a little, but it was something to think about.

You can't throw money towards every tragedy that comes up on the news--or at least we can't. And it really can put you into numbing emotional overload to really consider all there is out there wrong with the world. We middle-class Americans have got it damn good, so what do we do when confronted with famine, with homelessness, with a deteriorating ozone layer? Sell everything and join the Peace Corps? Become a missionary? Another Mother Theresa? Most of us aren't going to go to those extremes, let's face it, but there's a middle ground between those options and just shutting down and doing nothing. Maybe it really is best to pick one small thing and focus on it. Acquire a sort of tunnel vision even, and do that one thing as best you can. The idea appeals to me and I'm going to spend some time trying to figure out that one thing I can do well. Knowing me, it will probably be something close to home, something in my community. But human suffering is human suffering no matter where you find it. It's crystal clear to me these days that I've got so much. For once in my life, I've also got some time on my hands to do something to help.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Our little suburban paradise

The walk to school this morning was just pure delight. This day in Chapel Hill, NC is one of those famously perfect fall days--about 60 degrees, clear blue skies, and a strong breeze blowing the colored leaves in great clouds from the trees in our neighborhood. It rained last night so everything is a little dewy and the air feels fresh. I had Bean in the backpack and Sister by my side. Sister was already ecstatic at being able to scuff through our neighbor's drifts of red leaves when the first breeze hit us. We looked up to a huge cloud of willow oak leaves spinning somehow slowly above us, landing by the hundreds at out feet. This sent Sister over the edge, and she laughed out loud from her little belly. Bean cackled and squealed because Sister was doing it, which made Sister laugh even harder. Wet leaves smacked us on the cheeks, leaves stuck themselves in our hair, other neighbor girls on their way to school caught up with us, running and squealing. It was so sweet.

We live in a small neighborhood built in the late 1960's a pleasant half-mile's walk partly through the woods to the elementary school. I never thought I'd live in a brick ranch house, but the neighborhood is teeming with children and regular, liberal folks--plus it was one of the few houses we could afford in Chapel Hill's rather inflated real estate market. I really love our little house, and I love that we live in this almost ridiculously sweet, friendly neighborhood. This morning, just like every other morning, I passed the same middle school kids on their way to the bus stop at nearly the same spots on the street that I always do. On my way home I saw the same parents with their same kids running a little later than I do on their way to school. I saw the same cars with the same neighbors on their way to work at the same time. They have movies where they make fun of this, don't they? I've laughed at them before, too, but really it feels good that we fit into this life, that there is this order humming around us. And I suspect that that human order is observable even in big cities if you're out somewhere at the same time everyday and are looking for it. I find it comforting and comfortable and I feel fortunate on a daily basis to have this life as it is right now.

So it's into the kitchen soon to warm things up and scent the house with a big pot of split pea soup. I'm going to make it a little thin this time--not porridge-y--with small diced potatoes, carrots, celery, and onions, plus a little pancetta. We'll have that plus Irish pork bangers, hot crusty bread, good cheeses, and a green salad for dinner. I feel like making our dinner a feast tonight.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

My Ex sux!

Man, are my nerves ever jangling this morning. I've got no chance of a nap in this state, that's for sure. Any of you out there have an ex-husband with whom you have to negotiate a young'un's schedule? I've got a doozy, and he's really been jerking my chain for the last 48 hours.

I married the man who would turn out to be Sister's father 9 years ago while I was still young and dumb and in my bohemian princess phase. After leaving him I found out that ALL MY FRIENDS plus my mother thought it would never work, could see the end coming even before the beginning had happened yet. Wanna know something funny? We had an outdoor wedding at his parents' place in the country. There were buzzards circling during the whole ceremony. I kid you not.

Anyhow, no surprise to anyone (except me) that this marriage lasted not quite 2 years. What I'd thought was garden-variety eccentricity and an artistic temperament was in fact actual brain damage from a car wreck several years previously that rendered my chosen quite incapable of holding down a regular job, doing any household task other than the dishes if I asked him to, and even remembering what it was we'd fought about and agreed to change in any given week previously. Oy vey. The man is sweet, but I pity the woman who fools herself about him next time. My friends are very kind not to remind me what a moron I was.

But he is Sister's father. With whom I have a legal custody agreement. It's not something I'm perfectly happy with, but on the other hand it's been working for the last 5 years. Now that I'm a stay-at-home mom with a second child, however, things have changed. He seems to think that since I have another baby I should give up some time with Sister. That somehow I have an unfair allotment of kid-time and he should have more, though of course Bean is not his child. It's driving me nuts. Ladies, this man is a freak! May I list the ways in which he sucks? Thank you, I believe I will. And I bet that mommygoth will back me up here.

  • He used to take Sister to bars when she was 2-years old.
  • He has epileptic seizures but has always denied that this was an issue in his caring for Sister. She was 3-months old when he was wearing her in her front pack one day, had a seizure, and dropped her on the sidewalk next to a busy street.
  • The man NEVER says please when making requests for extra time. He says merely, "I need to pick her up early on such and such a day."
  • People in town--and not just my good friends--STILL tell me how he has no clue where Sister is or what she's doing when she's with him. She is permitted to get out of her seat at restaurants and go chat up the other tables while he's talking to his buddies, as an example. And Sister is 7, not 2 when it might be cute for a couple of minutes.
  • This is a man who has taught my daughter to announce loudly to people like my mother that she doesn't believe in God. Okay, I don't go to church either, but there's something sad about turning a child into an atheist and a cynic at age 4.
  • My Ex isn't even the one who cares for Sister when she's with him. He simply isn't able to take care of practical details like dinner or bedtime. Instead, he goes to his parents' house when he's with her. His mother brushes her teeth, cooks dinner, packs her lunch, helps her with her homework, puts her to bed, gets her ready in the mornings, EVERYTHING. I mean, why does he want extra time with Sister when he can't even make it out bed before 10:00?!
  • This man is almost 40 now and is STILL unemployed. His parents support him, and Sister when she's with him.
Alright, I think I am cleansed. I believe that Phantom Scribbler sponsors a weekly bitch-fest for those who need it. Maybe I should think about a weekly Ex bashing for mamas in similar situations...

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Drumroll, please!

Ohmigod! I don't know how or when it happened exactly but, ladies, I can now fit into The Jeans. I know you know which Jeans I mean. Have I said how much I love breastfeeding? I love breastfeeding.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Home again, home again, jiggety-jig

It's been a busy day so far. I spent Bean's morning naptime planting the dozen shrubs that have been languishing in their pots in my sideyard for a month now. Felt quite pleased with myself both to have gotten that item crossed off my to-do list and to have gotten a little exercise in. I'm a member of the real-activity-as-exercise camp, much preferring to rev up my heart rate and work up a sweat with raking or digging in heavy clay soil or the like over using one of those treadmill/ski machine thingies for some uninspired portion of an hour.

I also went on a huge grocery shopping trip today since the fridge was void of fresh food altogether and I wanted to avoid another dinner gem such as we had last night--corn and cheddar cheese chowder thawed from the freezer, broccoli with left-over cheese sauce, toasted bagels also thawed from the freezer, and gin gimlets. Husband enjoys a squishily comfortingly cheesy meal and so didn't mind. I enjoy gin and didn't have to cook--what could be better on returning home from a weekend away? (For all you militant La Leche League mamas out there, the baby was already asleep and, don't worry, did NOT have a breastmilk-and-gin version of my cocktail.)

So I'm fully home now and glad to be here. The laundry is all done and hanging in the sun outside, the fridge is full, my baby is asleep. Sister returns home from her dad's tomorrow and I can't wait to see her. I hope she's not too sad this week. I get the feeling that she's really bothered by her dual-household life lately. And I have to admit that it's hard for me to go from lavishing love on Bean alone while Sister is gone to dividing my attentions between them when Sister is back. Maybe more on that tomorrow.

In the meantime, Asheville was lovely with the mountain leaves at their red and gold peak. We all 3 walked around downtown and enjoyed people-watching young lesbians, unwashed and hairy back-to-the-earthers, young neo-hippie guys who knit, etc. I saw someone with whom I had a brief and ugly fling through the window at the restaurant where I used to pastry-chef it. I felt a brief moment of "Yikes! Ick!" and then we were past and I don't think Husband noticed. As much as I love Asheville, I'm still glad to have left it behind me and made it back here to Chapel Hill. My life is fine indeed right now.

And this sort of lazy, grateful mood reminds me that I have a good friend, a Nice Jewish Girl who has proclaimed herself such a luddite that she can't figure out how to comment on this blog. She did email me, though, and I wanted to include something she wrote to me. Here goes:

So first of all.................... going back to what you first said.... Hey! I'm as feministic as it gets. I have been to girl vigils and protests and marches on the lawn and i've been fired from rallying women at the work place for higher wages and sware, belch, spit, talk pussy. I'm sexually assertive and i'm sexy...with HEELS of course. And you are too, all of this. Thats why you and i clinked our pinkies together rather quickly. We know who the cools ones are workin it---right?! But i too want to be a stay at home mom! Fuck. I dont even have a kid to stay at home for and i still want to be a housewife. So how do ya like them apples? AND, AND.... i am righteous about it too. I dont care what it means to anyone else. That's just the way it is and i sure as hell am no less of a feminist. So there. Shit. Now i can't remember all the other things that you have sparked in me to respond. I guess that's one good reason to post right in that blog thing hmmm.

Wow. I want to be more like Nice Jewish Girl, don't you?

Friday, November 04, 2005

Prelude to a road trip

I woke up in a shitty mood this morning for absolutely no good reason. Bean only woke up once last night, so you'd think I'd be bouncing off the walls with good cheer, given that her habit of late has been to wake MANY times. Sister had a great day at school yesterday, rated 2 smiley faces on the behaviour chart her teacher has taken to keeping. I even got to bed at a reasonable hour. So what the hell is wrong with me?

We're going to the gorgeous mountain city of Asheville, North Carolina after lunch today. Husband, Bean and I are all driving up together. (Sister is with her dad for the weekend, as she is most weekends. I'll post about my Ex sometime...) I love Asheville, having separated from the Ex up there--a fiercely happy, vivid, and, it must be admitted, kinda slutty year for me, though hopefully Sister never finds that out. (Husband has some inkling since he was a part of it.) I'm looking forward to being there again and walking down those old streets among the still intact Art Deco buildings, bookstores, and coffee shops, hiking with Bean, viewing the leaves turning colors on the Blue Ridge Parkway. I lived there 5 years ago, and haven't really been back since except for a stop for lunch once on another trip. It really is a wonderful town.

I guess it's the prospect of driving 4 hours with a baby who hates car rides that's got me down. God knows how many hours longer this usually manageable trip will be extended because of stops for nursing, diaper changes, baby exercise, etc. That prospect plus the feeling that I'm nothing more than a maid and housewife these days is what's making me so pissy. By the time Bean and I are left to our own devices everyday, after Husband's gone to work and Sister's in school for the day, I'm facing the aftermath of the morning. The bathroom floor has puddles of standing water, there are coffee grounds all over the kitchen counters, beds are unmade, little droplets of spit-up have crusted over on the floor throughout, and there's sugar all over the kitchen sink. (Why the hell is there that much sugar all over the goddamn sink?)

"Stay-at-home mom" sounds like there's some fun, or at least a darling baby, to it. "Housewife" just reeks.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Attention, please

It appears that Sister may have "attention issues," according to her second grade teacher. She's not sure yet, wants to give it til the holidays, but those words have been uttered. Naturally, this has me in mental and emotional turmoil. When I first became aware of ADD in my pre-childbirth years, my first reaction was something along the lines of, "What?! They want to drug kids so that they'll conform to the Man's public school brainwashing program?!?" Or maybe that was the reaction of my loony ex-husband who saw a conspiracy behind everything that wasn't free love, communism, and art for all. But my reaction wasn't too far off.

Now I'm not sure what to believe, or even what I'd like to believe. That first reaction is still there a little. Maybe more than a little since it's MY kid we're talking about now. But on the other hand, what if her definitely disruptive behavior was out of her control and could be cured by a little pharmaceutical magic? Would she be happier with herself? Would our time after school be less stressful if there weren't scoldings and reprimands to be administered so frequently? Could I really let her be drugged just to do better in school? Or would the latent rebel in me yank her out of the clutches of the Man to be home-schooled? (Jesus, what am I saying...?!)

I have no idea what the answers are just now. Any of you out there had to deal with this in your own kids? What did you decide? I'm all ears.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

What's a mama to wear?

The Bean is better today. She's down for her first nap of the day, Sister is successfully, if perhaps a little sadly, off to another day of second grade. And it's mama-time! I was up at 6:15 today and actually got a shower! I'm wearing make-up and have had breakfast ! This day is already a success as far as I'm concerned.

But lest I get too gleeful, I should remember that the errand for the day is shopping for pants. Now that the cold weather is here to stay I've got to find something other than capris to wear, and I'm sorry to say that 7 months post-childbirth I still don't fit into enough of my long pants. The whole not-exercising, home-alone-with-the-baby-and-the-fridge thing is not the way to go if I really cared about losing the last of the pounds. Do I care? Y'know, I guess I really don't, which is sort of surprising.

The truth is I used to care a lot about how I looked and the things I put on my body. I still have a closet full of gorgeous vintage dresses that I used to wear along with matching hats, stockings, costume jewelry, the works! Dressing everyday was fun when with that stuff to work with and that much time on your hands in the mornings. But now I'm a nursing mother. I have to strap the baby in her backpack most mornings in order to walk Sister to school. Vintage dresses and late-model backpack? With stockings? I don't think so. So along with my closets stuffed with vintage frocks, I find myself with drawers full of nursable black v-neck t-shirts, baggy jeans, cheap capris, and yes, khakis. Something in me hates khakis, even though the particular pair I'm thinking of happens to be about the most flattering article of clothing I can fit into at the moment. And my mom gave them to me, okay?

Still, though, my previous uniform is history for the time being. I wonder, too, how many moms at Sister's elementary school have done the same. Maybe none of them. Maybe they've always dressed the khakis and sneakers way and have never been the vain clotheshorse that I am. Or maybe they've made the same sacrifices to practicality and are waiting for the day when they can plausibly slip on that '40's era crepe dress that evokes Mommie Dearest (heh-heh), that silk flapper-style butterfly print number, those gabardine pants and rayon blouse with delicate glass buttons. God, do I miss wearing that stuff sometimes! One of these days, when I don't need to have accessible breasts and don't leak milk, when my kids can walk themselves to school, when I can go out again for some social occasion rather than errands to Target and the grocery store and the mega-mall, you'll find me in purple crepe with jet beading, in tiny printed rayon, in green rhinestones, in navy blue silk...

In the meantime, it's to Marshall's and T.J. Maxx for cotton twill. But not in khaki.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

How to get through a day

Husband brings our sweet, wide-awake baby in to me, still sleeping, at 6:45. He's off for his morning run, as is his habit. I could be resentful of this routine of his, but it actually allows me to feel beneficient, self-sacrificing. I, too, will get up early so that he can have this. Still, I've got to get through this day somehow on very little sleep. Our Baby Bean is sick with a cold and teething at the same time, and on top of all that has figured out how to roll onto her belly in her crib but not back the other way. She requires us to turn her several times a night, ply her with various medications.

I nurse Bean in bed, enduring her gripping of my breasts and neck skin--do I really have that much neck skin? Is it a wattle yet?--and her kicking of my belly. I imagine what it must feel like to be a cat with her litter or a big sow with 8 piglets, all of them doing exactly this. One baby isn't so bad.

Bean looks sleepy after nursing, so I take her into her room and put her in her crib again, feeling hopeful that she'll go to sleep. I brush my teeth and insert my contact lenses while I pretend to believe she'll stop fussing and snooze. Then I give up, put on my robe (not clothes) and retrieve her.

I make us breakfast--virtuous yogurt and fruit for me, pears and oatmeal for her. We are both fussy, but we eat. I don't have my first cup of tea since I'm holding out for a nap for the both of us.

We play a bit, but mostly she wants to be held so that she can wipe her runny nose on my robe. We are both still fussy. Finally, though, it is clear that she is genuinely sleepy. I change her one last time and put her in her crib and it's off to napland almost instantly. She makes one sound of objection, turns her head, and closes her eyes. I pad straight down the hall to our bedroom, click on the monitor, shed the robe, and crawl into the half-made bed. There is still a little residual warmth from earlier trapped under the down comforter. Mmmm....

I'll be alright in an hour.