Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Shot Through the Heart (And Who's to Blame . . .)

Yesterday Charlotte gifted Zoey with two toy baby bottles that have quickly become her most prized possessions. They're the kind that you tilt back and the milk disappears*. Fancy-schmancy! So far, Zoey has fed her new baby bottles to herself, the baby doll, the hippo, the pool inner tube, Gilmore, the baby chair, the vacuum, a shoe, the TV remote, Boomer, the freezer, and the garage door. But will she share with me? That's a big N-O. Apparently, her own mother, who gave up a lucrative social work career, most of her sanity, and many hours of sleep all for HER doesn't deserve a sip of fake milk. Thanks for the self-esteem boost there, kid.
* A (very) lengthy (and repetitive) explanation from Niki was required for me to understand how the disappearing milk works. Yup, nothing' gets by me. Sharp as a tack!

Sunday, June 28, 2009


We've been struggling here a bit. I think our vacation broke us. I've been having back/neck fibromyalgia pain. Demetri's had a sore throat AND had to go back to work. Not to mention that he is currently stuck with a wife who can't pick up Zoey. Or a spoon. Well, I can but it doesn't feel great. Oatmeal is rather heavy. Seriously.

On the up side, my fabulous parents have been helping out TONS. They've been taking Zoey for at least 4 hours a day. The past two days, our Zoey-free time has involved me laying on an ice pack and moaning while Demetri lays in separate room, moans, and watches the Red Sox. Then, after a couple hours of moaning, we watch a violent movie together just because we can (as there's no baby in the house). And usually there isn't much plot, so even if our combined whining drowns out the dialogue, we still pretty much know what's going on. It's a win win.

I have one thought that always works to console me: At least we're not Jon and Kate. I have only watched 3 episodes (not in their entirety) and, man, am I glad that I don't have 8 kids. Or am married to Jon. Or Kate. Whenever I feel especially bad about my parenting, I put J and K on for a few minutes. No matter what's going on here, at least it not what's going down at the Gosselin's. Zoey smeared hummus in her freshly washed hair? Kate hired a babysitter and all 8 kids got bubblegum in their hair! Zoey had a poonami? Kate is home with 8 kids with diarrhea! I didn't have time to brush my hair? Demetri didn't put the nighttime diaper on right? Kate has a weird (seemingly permanent) haircut and Jon committed adultery!

Suddenly, our life is lookin' pretty good.

True, we haven't been on Oprah. Or gone to Hawaii. Or had our house made "green" for free. But I have a husband who spoon feeds me blueberry pie and makes me popcorn because it's "light". Parents who help help help. And one kid. One funny, smart, darling, curly-haired, perfect kid. The ability to lift a spoon is over-rated.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Small Note of Appreciation

Dear Small Airport in New Hampshire,

Thank you for an exceptional travel experience yesterday. It was a pleasure to spend 4 hours at your airport. First, let me compliment your professional and well-trained security staff. They are so organized and efficient that you only need one security lane! And Boy! Did we ever feel safe! The security person monitoring the video screens was especially talented. She artfully spied two dangerous objects in our luggage (an empty baby bottle and a juice box -- my bad!) and then immediately alerted the rest of the security crew by calling out, "Bag check! And it's not MY fault!". Wow! Her evil stare is quite effective. I also appreciated the way the juice box (again - my bad!) was handled with rubber gloves and inspected for "harmful materials." I had offered to just throw out the juice box, but thank goodness your pro-active staff was able to test it for explosives. I know the 35 people in line behind us appreciated that.

In addition, I was genuinely grateful that our plane was "grossly delayed". I appreciated both the accuracy of the language and that we got to spend an additional 3 hours at the airport. It was an added bonus that our direct flight was then re-routed through Chicago. Fun!

Oh! And the food at your airport? What decadence! I am thankful that you stock M&M's. I was momentarily miffed by the $2.49 price tag for a regular size bag but, then again, how can you put a prince on happiness? And your chicken sandwich? What can I say but YUM! Some serious culinary creativity went into making the processed, day old chicken look fresh. The fake grill lines and the square shape offered at least 3 minutes of amusement to us.

Last, but not least, it is so modern of you to only have changing tables in the women's restrooms! Thanks for reinforcing the point that it's MY job to change the poopy diapers. I've been looking for confirmation on my womanly role in life and I'm so glad I found it at your airport!


Monday, June 15, 2009

Granny Takes Me to School

We are in New England visiting Demetri's family. We're staying with his mom, Nancy, aka Super Experienced Grandparent (Zoey is her 7th grandchild). Yesterday, I walked out on the porch to see what Zoey and her Granny were up to in the garden. My first instinct was to jump off the porch, grab my child, and yell, "WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?!". Luckily, I had a rare episode of self-control and went back inside to do some deep breathing. and yoga. and counting.

Zoey was barefoot, her soaked socks and shoes left on the front steps. Her pants were wet and muddied up to her knees. She was stomping in rain puddles. Playing in dirt. Squishing around in the grass. And then, because she is Zoey, she ate a handful of mud and washed it down with rain water. Most notably, however, she was having the time of her life. Doing something I would have never let her do.

I realized that if I had been out in the garden, my don't's would have ruined the afternoon. Don't get wet. Don't go on the grass. Don't touch that. Don't get your clothes dirty. Don't. Don't. Don't. Instead, Zoey was out with Granny and was told Do! Try! Touch!

So after my deep breathing, I grabbed the camera and ran out to be part of the fun. Granny taught Zoey (and me) a lot yesterday. The least of which was that mud tastes kinda bad and sticks to your tongue. And the most of which was how to be a better mom.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

An Ode to Gilmore

Our dog, Gilmore, has many fine qualities. He is gentle, not a barker, and is an excellent foot warmer. He is a lover, not a hater and greets everyone with equal joy. Also, he is a few crayons short of a full box, if you know what I mean. And while this might be a bad quality in, say, a world leader, it’s not necessarily a bad quality in a dog. True, Gilmore is half lab and half golden – both of which indicate that he should be able to retrieve things. But no. I throw a ball and he either eats it or rolls around on it to give himself a back massage. Either way, he comes back to me sans ball. Goldens and Labs are also supposed to be water dogs. Gilmore won’t step off the patio if the grass is wet. While his lack of retrieving skills and fear of water don’t bother me, his most unfortunate quality does. Alas, dear Gilmore is a poop eater. A non-discriminate poop eater. Deer poop? Yes please! Cat poop? A crunchy delicacy! His own poop? Mmm – it’s still warm!

So you can imagine Gilmore’s excitement when we brought home a baby. Especially when coming through the front door for the first time Zoey let loose with a poonami that coated the travel outfit, the car seat, the diaper bag. And, oh yeah, the baby. It took us a mere 24 hours, several stretches of streaked carpet, and 3 partially ingested diapers to purchase dog proof diaper cans.

Once the poop was secured, Gilmore’s enthusiasm for Zoey did wane a bit. But he remained loyal to me. When I fed Zoey at 1 am, 3 am, 5am, and was crying from being so tired, he would rest his block head on my knee and sigh. Then he would lay in front of the rocker so I could rest my feet on his big yellow belly. Eventually I would calm and our breathing would match – rise, fall, rise, fall. When the feeding was done, he followed me back to bed, resting his jaw on the mattress by my head until I fell asleep. Only then would he wonder to his dog bed and shut his eyes.

Gilmore’s interest in Zoey was slowly rekindled as she became more mobile. Then, one fine day, Gilmore discovered he could make Zoey laugh by licking her feet. This was somewhat of a hygiene issue, what with all the poop eating. Drastic measures were taken. My handy husband constructed a keep-dog-out-of-the-kitty-litter device using climbing rope, a bungee cord, and a few well placed screws. The cat could lithely enter the Poop Palace but Gilmore’s block head was blocked. Every time Gilmore went into the back yard we followed him around with a shovel. Non-poop eating behavior was rewarded with other tasty treats: corn chips, cheese, deluxe peanut butter dog chews. Progress was made. Gilmore could lick Zoey’s feet without necessitating a slow motion layout jump and a cry of “Noooooooooo!” from my husband or me. We were pleased. The Grandparents, however, continued to express displeasure. I think my dad’s exact words were, “That is disgusting and wrong.”

Now that Zoey is in a highchair, is eating some solid foods (and pushing lots more on to the floor), Gilmore is over the moon. Forget about poop. There are graham crackers, Cheerios, bits of chicken. And cheese flavored Goldfish. Oh the Goldfish! Yes, my dog and my daughter have bonded over sharing snacks.

Gilmore is a lot more than a foot rest. He is the perfect warm and cozy nook for Zoey to read a book in. He’s a good listener and is always willing to look at Mr. Brown Can Moo one more time (whereas I am not). Gilmore’s tolerance for peek-a-boo is endless. He can make Zoey stop crying by placing his velvety head against her chest or by nudging her hand with his wet nose. A session of feet licking is still one of Zoey’s favorite ways to spend time. Zoey and Gilmore spend hours every day looking out the low window in the play room. They sit side by side, Zoey’s arm slung casually over Gilmore’s back. Zoey chatters at Gilmore, his tail thwacks the carpet. They watch the world go by. I have to hope that Zoey will take on some of Gilmore’s better qualities. His gentleness and his capacity for love. And I have to hope she avoids his taste for poop.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Conversation with 6 year-old Boy in the Baby Pool

Boy: (splash, splash, splash)

Me: Please don't splash in the baby pool.

Boy: (splash, splash, splash)

Me: Careful . . . Please don't splash the baby.


Me: HEY! Do NOT splash the baby.

Boy: I HATE babies! (splash)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Lessons From Zoey

I was inspired by this piece by Amy Lyles Wilson and decided to make my own list of 'Lessons Learned.' Here are some things I have learned from Zoey:

Things are more fun if laughing and bouncing are involved.

'Do you want more Goldfish?' is a rhetorical question.

It feels good to be naked.

Naps are necessary.

When you fall on your butt, just get back up and keep going.

Cats do not like to be force fed a snack -- no matter how tasty.

The bath is the best part. Combing out the hair? Not so much.

Balance is over rated.

There are worse things than taking food out of the dogs mouth and eating it. Like eating a snail (Hi Corey!).

Books are multifunctional: good story, good pictures, good snack.

Sometimes you just have to cry about it.

You should never let gravity dictate your actions.

You should always have hope -- maybe this time you won't fall.

Dancing is good. Even if there's no music.

Chasey chase and tickling are a good use of time.

Flowers, dogs, and animal crackers are legitimate causes of excitement.

Sometimes you need to hold someone's hand to get over a bump.

It's good to welcome people home with a hug.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Modesty Shield

Apparently I live in the buckle of the Bible Belt. I say 'apparently' because I have not verified this yet. I'm too scared that it's true. When we moved here from DC we were naive in the way that people from big cities often are: we assumed that where ever we went would be diverse --politically, socially, ethnically, culinarily. Yes, we knew we were moving to The South. We knew some areas might be a bit more conservative. There might be a few more churches. And a few more republicans. But we'll be fine, right?

Um, not so much. We landed ourselves in a place that still allowed smoking indoors (at the time). A place that doesn't have curb side recycling. A place where people routinely knock on your door and suggest that you are going to hell because you don't belong to their church. A place where 'meat-n-three' is as ethnic as it gets. A place of confederate flags. A place where kids were told not to ring our bell on Halloween because of the Obama stickers on our car.

I'm all for people being religious and political. Except for when it starts to infringe on my rights and the rights of others. Except for when it's homophobic. Or racist. Or misogynist. Then you and I are going to have a problem*.

Our house has always been a safe place for us to truly be ourselves. To be democratic, heathen, pro-gay-marriage-ers who have strong (negative) feelings about the confederate flag, watch the McNeil Lehrer news hour, and who deeply miss Indian food. But this past weekend The South crept a little too close to our house for my comfort. And I had to defend our safe place. From my liberal, yankee HUSBAND.

It was early evening and Demetri and I were out on the back porch with Zoey. It was an impromptu let's-hang-out-on-the-porch moment -- I was eating an ice cream cone, Demetri was sipping a beer. Zoey decided she wanted to play in her kiddie pool. Instead of going inside (while Zoey protested), taking off her clothes (while she cried), putting on a swim diaper (while she screamed), putting on a swim shirt and ruffle-butted swim bottoms (while she attempted to bite us), we decided to let her swim starkers. She's one -- nakedness should be OK, right? I mean, it's not like it was me frolicking around out there with nothing on but swim sandals.

The back of our house faces woods so it's pretty private. We do have neighbors on either side and a walking trail from the woods comes out right between our houses. So, in theory, someone could walk by at any second. So my dear husband (who we should all know by now is the 'nice' one in the relationship and has had considerably less difficultly adjusting to The South than I have) says, "You know we should try and be aware that there might be people coming down the path that may not want to see a naked baby." I asked him to explain. Actually, I think my exact words may have been What the hell are you talking about? but, you know, semantics. Demetri went on to say, "I just think we should be sensitive to the fact that a Bible Beater may come down the path with her son and the son may be all 'What's that, mommy?' and then the mom would have to explain The Parts." After laughing, realizing he wasn't kidding, mocking him for the use of 'The Parts', I said, "Well, tough s-h-i-t. That mom will have to explain about penises and vaginas. The world will go on. We're in OUR YARD. I refuse to change our whole lives because someone may come down the path. This is OUR SPACE." I think I may also have added a few subtle threats and outright commands like, "AND YOU BETTER AGREE WITH ME".

Demetri said he did agree AND that we could be sensitive (what a novel idea!). So while I sat spewing off all the things I don't like about The South and begrudgingly admitted some of the things I do like (biscuits . . . mmmmm), Demetri constructed a 'modesty shield'. That's right, my kind and handsome husband saved the church goers from seeing our baby's va-jayjay, and thus saved them from hell. What a man! Could I have been more attracted to him than at that moment? Well, maybe if he had frolicked naked in the pool while yelling 'Overturn Prop 8!'. Now that, that would have been damn sexy.

*To be clear, we have some neighbors here who are pretty much polar opposites of us politically. But I love them. They are great neighbors. We get along and do all the neighborly stuff -- chat over the fence, wave to the kids, borrow ladders, etc. We respect our differences, go about our business, and know that we can rely on each other for help whenever needed.

Before The Shield

Saving people from hell ... one bootie at a time