Monday, December 29, 2008

Sensible Tips for Daily Living

If you're having marital problems and your husband was recently arrested for domestic violence and he suggests a nice Christmas-time cruise off the coast of Mexico, you might want to develop a sudden case of seasickness and stay in your cabin the whole time, or better yet, not go at all. At the very least, stay away from the rails.

If you are manning the "crime watch" line and a local utility worker calls in, 3 times, to report a suspicious plastic bag less than a mile away from the house where a child has gone missing and is suspected to have been murdered, you might want to check it out.

If you are 22 years old and find yourself strangely attracted to an ancient and totally unattractive former police officer who is suspected of killing not one but two of his former spouses, you might want to just go ahead and kill yourself right now rather than marrying him and becoming his 5th victim, er, wife.

If you are the already wealthy and influential governor of the state of Illinois and you already suspect that you may be under investigation and surveillance for corruption, you might not want to blatantly and un-intelligently try to sell the president-elect's Senate seat to the highest bidder right under federal investigators' noses.

If you are an insanely rich and extremely smart investment banker who has a succesful investment business that makes billions of dollars legally, you might not want to set up an illegal ponzi scheme on the side that will lose money, cause friends and business associates to kill themselves, get yourself sent to jail, and exacerbate an already ailing economy on the brink of collapse.

I'm just sayin'...

Thursday, December 25, 2008

All I want for Christmas is...

This year, because of the Great Depression, we didn't have a lot of money to spend on Christmas, so John Boy had to go sell his hair to buy Marmie some scarlet ribbons...wait. Just kidding.
I got everything I wanted and a few things I didn't even think to ask for. For instance, on Christmas Eve, I was getting ready for work and Sofia said Mama. This time, there was no doubt. "Mama" she said, then, "Mamamamama". She's been saying it, quite purposefully ever since. This was only 3 days after she turned 7 months old, so as you can see, she's very advanced for her age. At least when it comes to talking. When it comes to crawling, not so much. She still hasn't quite figured that one out. We even bought a rug for the living room floor to make it more comfortable on her. She gets onto all fours, turns around in a circle, goes backward, and rolls over onto her back but just can't work up the necessary momentum to propel herself forward. Eventually, she gets frustrated and starts screaming. I think this is why they say second and third children crawl a lot quicker. Because there isn't always someone right there to rescue them when they start to get frustrated.
When I got home from work on Christmas morning, Hugo had coffee ready for me and everyone was just starting to stir. By everyone, I mean Hugo's parents, his brother Alex, his other brother Daniel and Daniel's wife Maria and their little boy Sebastian, and his sister Paula and her husband Alex. Did you know that I have three brother-in-law's named Alex? I bet not. Oh and Maria brought her aunt as well. So we had a full house. Everyone piled into the living room at that time and we opened presents. Sofia got a pair of earrings from her Abuelo and Abuela; adorable little gold butterflies. I then made her cry by trying to take her other earrings out so she could wear her new ones. I was tired and clumsy by then I guess.
Hugo got me a Coach purse and a Coach wallet. I have been hankering after that purse for a long time, but I never dreamed I would get the matching wallet as well. Not in these economic times. I'm so spoiled. Oh yeah, I got him a french press. Whoo Hoo! I'm going to take him to the mall tomorrow and we're going to get a new flash for the camera that HE'S been hankering after for awhile. With the help of a gift card he got from our brother -in-law Mark.
After we opened presents, we had a delicious breakfast of the Pioneer Woman's Sleepin' In Omelet (which I had prepared the day before, ready to be popped into the oven on Christmas morning) and then I went emphatically to bed. While I was in dreamland, Santa's Little Helpers (my in-laws) prepared a turkey as well as all the side dishes I had gotten ready the day before. I woke up, ate, went back to bed, got up, got ready and came to work. Didja get that? I woke up, ate, went back to bed, got up, got ready and came to work. It was great. I got to do all the things that I love about Christmas (opening presents and eating) and none of the things I hate about Christmas (frantic food preparations and cleaning up). Working the night shift for the holidays has its perks. Plus, I wore my Christmas jammies all day and just dressed Sofia up in a real cute Christmas outfit instead of worrying about my own appearance. The pictures will reflect this.
All in all it was a very succesful holiday. And I hope everyone who reads this (my mom, Val, Rene', Aunt Joann, etc...) had a great holiday as well. If any of you guys are wondering (mom) why you didn't get a requisite phone call on Christmas Day, of course its because I had to work. Plus, in these hard economic times, the cell phone minutes are just so dear...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Brie N' Apple Pie

OK, Val, you beat me to the apple pie recipe. But here's one I developed today in my test kitchen. Quite delish.
You will need:
6 or 7 Granny Smith Apples
1/2 cup golden raisins (if you're really brave you can soak em in whiskey like I did...yum?)
1 round brie cheese (cut off all that nasty papery rind it comes in too, cause that's just gross)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tspn nutmeg
1/2 lemon or just a few dashes from the bottle, if that's what floats your boat
1 egg white
1 pie crust

For the pie crust, you can buy a premade pie crust. Or, if you're a sadist around the holidays like me, you can make your own. I don't know what it is. All year long I'm perfectly content to make do with the absolutely satisfactory taste of a pre-made pie crust (if I make a pie at all; this year I had to unbury my pie pan from where it had been hiding since, you guessed it, last Thanksgiving). Around the holidays I start feeling June Cleaverish and the need to torture myself asserts itself. But, I will say that, though it may not look as neat and pre-ordained as a store bought one, a homemade crust is a thing to be enjoyed above all other things. So flaky. So buttery (even though I use the recipe on the Crisco can). Enough about that though.

Peel and core and cut up the apples. Exactly how you cut your apples up depends on your philosophy of apple pie of course. I cut mine into slices, about 8 per apple, and then cut the slices halfway down. I like the apples to still look like apple inside the pie. Throw the apples into a bowl and add the raisins, lemon juice, sugar and nutmeg. I don't care for cinnamon in my apple pie because its just so, obvious. Try a little subtlety people. There's probably a lot of Republicans out there who would criticize me for omitting the cinnamon, but I don't really care much for Republicans anyway. So haha.

Now, take your bottom crust and put the wheel of brie smack dab in the middle of it. Oh, I forgot to tell you to pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Now pour the filling in. Add the top crust and glaze it with egg whites. And take a butter knife and make a little slit in the very top to vent. Put in the oven and bake for 50 minutes or so. You'll know when its done. It will be crying out to be eaten by the time its done. Due to the inclusion of the brie (and as per my general apple pie philosophy as well, believe it or not) you must eat it warm. The brie will be all soft and warm and, brie-ey. If you hate brie, you're probably a Republican, so go away and don't come back. But, in the interest of open-mindedness, if you happen to be a brie-hatin' Democrat, go ahead and substitute a little tub of mascarpone for the brie. Its much milder and sweeter than brie. Either way, this is definitely an adult apple pie. Especially if you made it with the whiskey soaked raisins, as I strongly suggest that you do. Thanks to the Pioneer Woman for that great tip. And to think that I always thought I didn't like raisins.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


I don't know if its the stress of working nights, having a 6 month old (germ incubator) in the house or the strain of being a lactating mom with a VERY hungry baby (eating and germ-killing for two is hard work), but I am sick for the second time this season. This is very unusual for me (I have gone years without throwing up; though not recently). I might also add that I make a much better nurse than patient. I do not take to being sick very kindly. When I'm sick, the drama queen in me comes out. I make every nose blow into a broadway-inspired theatrical performance. I wallow in my misery. I am capable of doing absolutely nothing. I mean, in the grand scheme of things, a yucky cold virus is not that big of a deal. I know this. Yet it doesn't seem to stop me from making a trip to the urgent care center, taking Sofia to the pediatrician even though she seems to be taking this like much more of a champ then me, and making Hugo call in to work so he can stay home and tend to my needs. After all, if he goes to work, who will brew tea for me, fetch me more tissue, remind me to take my cold medicine and take care of the baby?

This is how the conversation went at Dr. Mas' office (the pediatrician):

So, has Sofia been running a temp? (as Sofia lays on the table, butt-ass naked and giggles to herself).

No, but I have.

Is her nose running? (as Sofia pees all over herself and the table, because I left her diaper off after the girl weighed her and took her temp).

No, but mine is.

Does she have a cough?

No, but I do... you get the picture. Dr Mas was, understandably, mystified as to why I felt that Sofia was sick just because I am. Well, I don't see how she could NOT be sick. She is in my face all the time. I drool all over her, giving her a million kisses a day. She feeds off my tit for God's sake (sorry). It doesn't make any sense! It seems like maybe all MY immunological defenses are being diverted for her use, leaving me to suffer the consequences. What's up with that?

Oh, well, how could I hold it against her? Just look at her. Did you ever see such an adorable little pointy tongue?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Snappy Hugo

We have a computer filled with thousands of photos that we've never done anything with. Everyone thought we were so much better off when digital photography came into vogue. No more mystery rolls of undeveloped film. No more paying for prints of junk that you don't want. However, as in most things, progress brings its own set of new problems and dilemmas. Now, people can gratuitously shoot photo after photo, all of which end up getting uploaded onto the laptop and sitting there for years. The really good photos tend to end up buried if you aren't careful. So here are some of my favorite pictures that have heretofore sat un-enjoyed and un-displayed.

Here is a picture of me (Hugo's favorite subject before a certain small interloper came along and upstaged me). I'm standing in the ballroom of the Casa Monica Hotel in St. Augustine, the site of Josh and Lisa's wedding. Don't I look fabulous?

This is so wrong. I just had to include it...

My parents dogs, Penny and Brassy.

This is a picture of some really strange clouds we saw on our way from San Diego to Las Vegas. Wierd...

Yes, that is me. In my wedding dress. In the pool.

Hugo took this picture of Giana. I think its really cool. How you can see my sister Val setting up a pose in the background of Rene' and Alex on the tractor (repeat after me...If you have to ask, you don't want to know). Giana, oblivious to the wierdness that is her parents and her aunt Val, is playing with the bubbles, and one second before Hugo snapped the picture, she spilled them all over her leg. Her expression, surprise, mixed with a certain amount of delight, is absolutely priceless. The combination of pose and candid is part of what makes it so appealing, I think. I don't care who you are, that Hugo certainly does take a nice picture...

This is a West Virginia Trash the Dress shot. If you have to ask what trashing the dress is, you should google it. Definitely.
Here are Nicholas and Giana happily watching some toons together. Adorable.

Here is a picture of the farm in West Virginia. The place might well be overrun with hicks, but there are some real purrty views.


Me and Hugo. Such an attractive couple...

This is me, with some serious bedhead, teaching Giana how to play some Mozart. She also learned to walk that weekend, so I guess it turned out to be a very fruitful trip.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Little House on the Prairie and other stuff...

Sofia has taken to saying "MAAAAA" whenever she is crying. She hasn't said it any other time but it has become quite unmistakable that she blames me for every unpleasant thing that happens to her over the course of the day. And when all that pent-up suffering finally finds its outlet in tears, wailing, and gnashing of teeth (if she had any to gnash, which she does not), she let's it all out in a "MAAAAAAAAAA". Is she talking? Is this to be her first word? Her first utterance of my name? I had invisioned it so differently... Also, I had planned on her calling me something cute and adorable like mama or mommy. Apparently, she likes the easy functionality of the mono-syllabic "Ma". Just call me Ma Ingalls or something (Little House on the Prairie joke). Where's my apron? And my abnormally long single braid?
One time when I was in high school I was over at my sister Val's house and we were watching Little House on The Prairie reruns (even at that time they were, like, well over 10 years old). She swore she had never seen that one. Then, at the end, she predicted all the women of the church were going to get up and march across the bridge singing a rousing rendition of Onward Christian Soldiers as the closing credits rolled. Was she psychic? Did she lie and had she really seen that one before? Or, did she really just know the format of the show so well that she was able to predict with astonishing clarity what the writers would make those poor pioneer women do? This is one of the great questions that has bugged me for all these years.
When I was really young, Little House was one of the only shows we were allowed to watch. We used to go upstairs to Gram and Beeb's in our pajamas and watch the rest of Jeapardy! (I love how it always has the exclamation mark) and then Little House would come on. There was one episode that scared the living daylights out of me, when Laura and Mary were running a girl's boarding school (an interesting departure from the facts since I read the whole series and they never did any such thing) and one night, while all the menfolk were away, there was a crazed lunatic on the loose and poor Mary couldn't even see and she was terrified and so was I. Were the girls at the school blind too? Maybe. I don't remember exactly how the drama unfolded, but it was the scariest thing I ever saw. Up to that point. Of course.
I'm definitely going to read the whole series to Sofia when she gets a little older (ok, I confess, I already started trying to read it to her and she just wasn't interested so I gave up for now). I'm going to be heartbroken if my child turns out to be a reading enthusiast and starts reading on her own too soon. I have about 2 dozen books already lined up that I want to read to her. Anne of Green Gables, the entire series, of course. Emily of New Moon, another series by the same author, naturally. Those will be later. Until then we will certainly make our way through Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Charlotte's Web, Stuart Little, The Borrowers, and Cheaper by the Dozen. Am I missing any? Help?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Most Popular

Thanks to the magic of "the internets" and feedjit, the nifty little thing that keeps track of the traffic to my blog and where it came from (geographically as well as from what site), I can now pinpoint my most popular blogs with those who are not related to me and do not know me. In other words, actual traffic; people who aren't just signing on to see if I've posted any new pictures of my little upstaging daughter Sofia.
See, since this blog is run by Google, my blog entries actually pop up in search engines if people are searching for specific terms or phrases included in my entries. So what are the most popular blog entries? In 3 odd months, which a total of 27 blog entries, my most popular ones are my ode to the nose sucker (, my description of one of the most horrifying events I've ever experienced
(, and finally, my expose' on the sneaky, palate-addicting gastronomical creations of the evil Starbucks corporation
( The first one is the one I find most amusing. People all over the world have actually been stumbling upon my blog after searching for such things as "infant nose sucker" "adult nose sucker" (?@#!), and "how to get booger out of baby's nose". Well, glad to have been of service, world. Is that going to be my legacy of public service? Hope not. Anyway, people are also interested in hearing about my close encounter with a creature of the cockroach variety. Finally, I have accidentally discovered that, in order to increase traffic to my blog, it cannot but help my endeavor to include the names of prominant national brands like Starbucks. Is this legal? Am I breakin' the law? I didn't say anything bad about the stuff. Au contraire. I was highly complimentary.
So, in the future, you can expect to see blogs entitled, "My triumphant victory dance on election night which included consumption of an inordinantly large slice of week-old birthday cake from Publix Bakery," "The long road ahead of Obama in which he will no doubt require copious servings of Stuffed Crust pizza from Pizza Hut", and last but not least, "Sour grapes and plenty of comforting Velveeta brand shells and cheese for McCain/Palin following crushing defeat on election night'. Think of the traffic I will entice to my site. Tee hee.

Monday, November 3, 2008


I don't know if it was the post pregnancy impulse to get back in shape or a last minute fear that a Coach purse (what I originally thought I'd ask for) was too "old" and would brand me as a 30-something before my time (29, ok? I'm 29. I got a whole nother year to be in my twenties!) but I decided to ask for a Nintendo Wii and Wii Fit for my birthday this year. Hugo was thrilled. It brought him right back to his childhood in Colombia when his parents bought him and his brothers and sister a Nintendo for Christmas and they got to stay up all night playing it for the first time ever. He and I have been having a blast with the thing. My favorite thing to do on the Wii is Hula Hoop. Actually, let me be honest. My favorite thing to do is watch Hugo do the hula hoop. You haven't lived if you haven't seen a 6'2'' Colombian twirling an imaginary hula hoop in his underwear.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Day in Pictures

Today I hosted mommies and babies for a Halloween themed playdate. We all dressed our little "Springpeas" up in costumes for the occasion and I decided to make an autumnal themed dessert for the ladies. I considered a lot of options, from simple to exotic. It should come as no surprise that I settled on a recipe culled from the goldmine of the Pioneer Woman's website. She called it Pumpkin Cake with Whiskey Cream. Of course, since I was dealing with a bunch of lactating moms with differing theories on the acceptability of alcohol consumption by the nursing mother, I decided to delete the alcohol and go with a staider, less controversial version. Here is the link to the original recipe: It came out deliciously if I do say so.

Sofia was dressed up as an adorable little flower. Lucky for me, it was one of the few remaining costumes available at The Children's Place (on sale for $11.50) after I balked at spending $27.99 at Gymboree on a questionably cute butterfly costume. She was so cute and flower like that this monarch butterfly who happened to fly into the house was completely fooled and spent quite a few minutes trying to score some pollen.

The Monarch Butterfly is Presley, Cindy's adorable little munchkin. At the top, we have Grant as Charlie Brown, Joshua as himself, Sofia as the flower, Mattia as the Strawberry, Presley as the Butterfly and Briona as the superhero Wing Nutt, protector of babies everywhere.

Chunktastic Me

Here's a fun one. For some reason, only now when I am starting to regain a glimmer of my former shape (albeit, a slightly hippier, stretch markier version of that former self) can I get any enjoyment out of my pregnant pictures. At the time when I was pregnant I did not feel beautiful in any way. Now, I can't say I look at them and think they are beautiful. But I do get a certain thrill in looking at myself and knowing that Sofia, tiny little adorable precious Sofia, was in there. She was her, even then. She liked to sleep in; often not waking up until after 10 in the morning, which she still does. I know because she would be eerily still until then every morning. Then she would start kicking athletically away until 2 or so in the morning. I knew her before I saw her and she was mine from the very beginning. So what's a few stretch marks in the face of that?

My Favorite Shows

Thought for the day...
Like many well-paid actors and actresses, I happen to have a fairly elevated opinion of myself. Its just that I am right to have such an elevated opinion of myself and many famous people are just, well, stupid. I am smart and interesting and well-informed and if anyone did know who I was, your damn right I would be famous. That's right. But in the world of nursing, when baby gets put in a corner, baby is usually a new mom who doesn't want to put her kid in daycare, and the corner is usually a spot on the night shift. Weekend night shift. How am I supposed to become famous on the night shift?
I was at Kohl's last week and I found an Dirty Dancing Christmas tree ornament, which was a plastic figurine of Johnny doing the lift pose with Baby in her pink dress. Hilarious. I almost bought it for my sister Val, she so would have enjoyed it. However, it was priced at 16 dollars and I was like, just how far are you willing to go for a joke, Lauren? 16 dollars? That's like, 2 lattes at Starbucks. Sorry Val. The lattes won.
And by the way, if I had to describe my philosophy of life in 5 words, it would be
1. scattered
2. hopeful
3. unsure
4. interested
5. curious
Every time I am working the night shift and the 97% of Republican night shift nurses I work with start to get to me, I retreat into my own dark little corner of Keithiness. By that, of course, I mean that I go into my comatose ventilator-dependant patient's room and turn on MSNBC, which replays Keith Olberman's show several times throughout the night. If any of my comatose patients ever wake up (haha, they never do that) and say that they saw God while they were in there, and they describe him as being passionately Democrat with predominantly gray hair and a penchant for purple ties and talking smack about George Bush, we'll all know why. Or will we?...
My other favorite show is Suze Ormond. She is a financial wiz who talks about retirement, dealing with debt, investing, work, and purchasing stuff. She has a great segment called, "Can I afford it?" which I wish I could download into, like, my head. That way, whenever I wanted to buy something, I would be like, Can I afford it Suze? And she would say, "How much do you owe on your house? Is your student loan paid off? How many car payments do you and your husband have? And then she would say no. I used to watch Suze every Saturday night on CNBC at 9 PM, or later on at midnight if I didn't make the earlier show. However, now that I work weekends and for some reason, tend to be very busy during those times and unble to sneak into my comatose patients' rooms to watch it, I feel a deep echoing void in my life. Suze, someday, Sofia will be able to go to daycare and I will be able to come back to the land of the living. Then we can be together again. Now don't you go gettin' canceled on me, ya hear? She always ends her show by saying, "Remember...People first, then money, then things. Now you stay safe."
And that's it. Those two shows are the sum total of my favorite things to watch. No Survivor, no ER, not even Gray's Anatomy. God I hate that show. I watched it for two seasons and then I was like, wait a second. Is this General Hospital at night? Are there any other possible cheesy variations on the "Dr. McDreamy" theme? Can that girl get any skinnier? I bought some Gray's Anatomy scrubs last time I went scrub shopping. When I wear them I always worry that some sexy doctor is going to come along and we're going to fall in love and then have tribulations. And I don't want that to happen because I'm really quite happy with Hugo. He's so untribulationy. Come to think of it, I'm probably pretty safe. Ever notice on shows like Gray's Anatomy that the nurses are relegated to side characters and unimportant extras? I have news for you. The nurses are the HEART and SOUL of the hospital. We do 98% of the work that those shows are always showing the doctors doing. Why are doctors so interesting to the layperson and nurses, not so much? Alas, I fear that this will have to be a question for another day. Now you stay safe...

Friday, October 17, 2008

My sister is gonna kill me...

Here is a picture of my nephew Nicholas.

His baby photo is a testament to the tragedy of early childhood obesity.

His parents were guilty of some of the most gratuitous acts of overindulgance that can be perpetrated on a child of his age.

He was diagnosed with childhood diabetes at a very young age.

He appeared on Oprah, screaming "More maymos Mama, More maymos" leaving millions of fans bewildered as to the meaning of the word, Maymos, and what its caloric content might be.

His happy-go-lucky appearance in this photo belies the tragic array of symptoms experienced by infants suffering from his level of obesity...

...Just kidding about all that. Here he is with me looking fit as a fiddle at the age of 5 (we were wearing our Aunt/Nephew matching outfits that day).
Val: please don't disown me. I found that picture of Nicholas as a baby and I couldn't resist. His before and after shots will surely give mothers of pudgy babies the world over hope that their porkers too, will one day grow into slender little men and women.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Sofia Bedazzled

A "piercing" scream

OK, I just took Sofia to the mall and got her ears pierced. Am I...
A. Mean
B. Vain
C. A bad mother
D. All of the above?
She did very well. I premedicated her with baby Tylenol. I asked the girl if we could do both ears at once and she graciously called her manager up in the other store and they did it together to accomodate my request. Sofia let out a piercing scream when they did the deed but she was fine within about 30 seconds. I had a bottle ready to stuff in her mouth and she appeared to have forgotten the insult very quickly. Meanwhile, my stomach was upset and I felt like I was going to throw up for the rest of the afternoon.
By the way, she looks adorable with her cubic zirconia studs and I have vowed out of guilty conscience to buy her a pair of real diamond studs when she's old enough to appreciate them to make up for my cruelty today.
I was emphatic earlier on about not getting Sofia's ears pierced, so why did I change my mind? Well, it basically comes down to keeping up with the Jones'es I'm afraid. Some of the other mommies in my playgroup had their babies' ears pierced and it looked so cute. Also, my sister Val told me that she regretted not getting Kaitlin's done because she is 9 now and she really wants her ears pierced but she keeps chickening out when they get to the mall. So, really, I have saved Sofia from that dreaded apprehension later on. And now, Sofia and Gianna (her closest cousin) can compare their Jezebel adornments whenever they hang out.
When my network administrator/husband/personal photographer gets home from his day job, I will have him take a picture of the new glamour-baby and post it for everyone to see.
P.S. Mom, don't answer the poll at the beginning of this posting. I already know what one you will check.

The Yummiest...

Apparently, its like, even better than a mango (those of you who watch Oprah already know what I'm talking about).

It contains everything a newborn infant needs to grow and develop, and it changes as the newborn becomes an infant and then a toddler so that it always delivers exactly what the child needs at that time.

It provides antibodies and immunity to the child to protect from disease while the child's own immune system is still immature.

It helps mom to lose the weight even if she still consumes far more Ben and Jerry's Chubby Hubby than is considered necessary and prudent.

It fosters a bond that lasts forever between mother and child.

It gives girls with an A cup that curvy look for the first time in their lives.

It costs nothing.

It gives a mom who happens to be a night shift nurse an excuse for having her baby come into the ICU at 10PM for a "goodnight feeding".

It functions as an automatic "restart" button whenever the baby is upset about anything, has just gotten vaccinated, or is just plain fussy.

It means never having to go down to the kitchen in the middle of the night to prepare or warm a bottle up.

It knows no class or socioeconomic status; its a gift every mom can afford and has access to.

It may result in a decreased risk of breast cancer for the mom later in life.

...And last but not least, it gives closet exhibitionists an excuse for "whippin' it out" in public.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Dads are Different

Lovin' that baby daddy...

Here is a far from exhaustive list of why new dads are very different from new moms.

1. When the baby cries they seem to drift into an even deeper sleep than before. Its like a lullaby for them...

2. When they dress their little baby girls they somehow manage to take a whole closetfull of adorable outfits and combine two of the most unmatched, not meant to go together things to produce a truly original look.

3. They give the mother of the child a heart attack by carrying the baby in one arm, just assuming that the baby is not going to throw herself backward.

4. They give the mother of the baby a heart attack by playing games that the mother wouldn't dream of, such as throwing the baby up in the air in a very un-fun appearing way....and the baby loves it.

5. When they are taking care of the baby they just throw a bunch of toys on the bed and put the kid on the bed in a way that, if the mother did it, would be certain to produce outraged screams...and the baby loves it.

6. They are conveniently at work whenever the baby gets her shots at the doctor's office, so the mom gets to deal with the trauma, and they just get to comfort and cuddle the baby later on when they get home.

7. When the baby poops, they go through an entire package of baby wipes in cleaning her up.

8. While the mother makes a point out of putting a new outfit on her every day, the dad sees no reason, if the outfit isn't visibly soiled, not to put her back in the same clothes from yesterday; sort of the same way that he views his own wardrobe choices.

9. Bottles are left wherever they happen to be when the baby finishes them.

10. Dads prize baby gadgets above all other things and will carry the baby monitor around long after the mom has discovered that, when the baby really means business, she can be heard anywhere in the house without a baby monitor.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Helpful sites for Earth-Friendly Moms

Here are a few links to some great sites for those of you who may be interested in alternative diapering solutions.

THis site is where I have purchased all of my cloth diapers except one, an ill-conceived all-in-one diaper that Target sells on its web-store that I decided to try. It was called a Bumpkin and I don't recommend them. They are expensive, bulky, and take forever to dry.

Rhea Bush, the owner of Sunshine Diapers is based out of Gainesville but she sells all different kinds of brands and ships anywhere. I found her to be an invaluable resource in navigating all the options and brands of diapers available these days. I highly recommend the Kissaluvs for newborns and the Thirsties all in one diapers for older babies. I even got some old-fashioned pre-folds (the things that a lot of people use as burp cloths nowadays) for her to wear at night with a diaper cover. When I was about 30 weeks pregnant, Rhea allowed me to come over to her house where she conducted a tutorial on cloth diapering, complete with a Winny the Pooh model to practice on, at her kitchen table.

I also recommend the Charlie's Soap available at Sunshine Diapers for use as a cloth diapering detergent. I use it on all my diapers as well as Sofia's clothes because it has no additives or scent. Apparently, most commerical detergents have a lot of that stuff and it decreases the absorption of the cloth diapers as well as contributing to rashes and irritations of babies since they have sensitive skin. Its VERY cheap and works well on all laundry. Also environmentally friendly (of course).

This is a company that sells a brand new type of "hybrid" diaper, one which I think I am going to switch to for trips and outings since it has a much smaller environmental impact than the traditional disposable diaper. It consists of a cloth diaper cover with a flushable insert that apparently takes only 5 days to decompose (as opposed to the 200-500 year disposables) since it goes into the septic system and not the landfill. Landfills are bad places people. Send as little trash to them as you possibly can, because nothing really biodegrades in those places. Yuck. It is very affordable and was brought to my attention by a fellow night shift nurse who is thinking about having a baby. Here I was, getting all ready to "evangelize" to her about cloth diapers and she ended up schooling me on a totally new option. Go Teresa! Some of you might remember Teresa from my story about the patient who came into the ER with the dead cat under her that wasn't discovered until she got to the ICU. Please read all about it if you have time. Absolutely HI-Larious! And totally true too. All the good things happen while I'm on maternity leave...

Alas, neither of these sites offers any good comic relief like that which is available through (see If you've ever hankered to see a lactating man, check out that post.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Salted Caramel Signature Hot Cocoa from Starbucks

OK, SERIOUSLY! It isn't fair! I still have about 5 sticky pounds leftover from my pregnancy (OK, I admit it, those 5 sticky pounds had nothing to do with my pregnancy and everything to do with caramel turtle waffle bowl sundaes from Dairy Queen and jelly donuts from Dunkin) and the entire commercial world seems to be conspiring against me to keep me from losing those pounds! Last week I went in to Starbucks (Sofia insisted; she frequently does) to get a nice staid, minimally offensive regular coffee with just a teeny tiny splash of half and half, no sugar or anything, and what was I confronted with? A whole tray of FREE samples of Starbucks' new line of gourmet hot cocoas. The hazelnut, I could resist. Mocha? No problem. But roll out something called "Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate" and we've got a problem on our hands. I LOOOOOOOOVE salty caramelly things (see above, caramel turtle waffle bowl sundae). I don't know how I am supposed to resist things like that, especially when I'm in upstate NY, feeling crappy, and walking around Lake Placid on a cold autumn day. I gave in. I had one. It was divine. Now its all I can think about. On our way to the airport the other day, we stopped at Starbucks so I could get another one. Even though I only ordered a grande, they had conveniently run out of grande sized beverage cups and upgraded me to a complimentary venti instead. Just twist my arm why don't ya. I guess I'm just going to have to get used to these size 10 pants for awhile.
Check out my pics from our trip, taken by my talented photog sister Val.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

First airplane ride with baby...

OK, here's my checklist for the big long weekend trip that will involve, gulp! A three hour flight from Orlando to Albany.
Sofia's clothes.
Sofia's tubby stuff (towel, baby shampoo, baby lotion, baby soap)
Socks for Sofia (its COLD in New York right now!)
bibs for Sofia (she is eating solids now, makes a mess)
Food for Sofia
A few toys
Sofia's new coat that I got her at Old Navy for the trip
Sofia's carseat (getting checked at the airport)
The camera bag (there's sure to be lots of excellent photo ops of Sofia)
Sofia's baby health kit (with clippers, thermometer and, of course, nose sucker)
Breast pump
Sofia's sling
A pair of jeans and a few shirts for me
A pair of jeans and a few shirts for Hugo
Some socks (its COLD in upstate New York!) for both of us
Ativan for me; enough for before and during the flight, with a special post-flight "decompression" dose
WOW. Who could have thought that Sofia (all 15 pounds of her) could need so much STUFF and Hugo and I could get by with so little?
(I'm freekin out)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Saving the Earth, One dirty diaper at a time...

Cloth diapered darling
Hugo and I made a decision when I was pregnant with Sofia. Actually, we made a decision long before Sofia was thought of or tried for, which involved agreeing roundly that the Earth was literally groaning under the weight of all the human beings on it and that we shouldn't make the situation worse by procreating. We would eschew the age-old practice of spitting out eating, pooping, garbage producing infants just because we had chosen to get hitched and just enjoy our lives together without any kids. We decided to give old Mother Earth a break and not have any kids. Well, then we changed our minds. So, we decided that if we were going to bring this child, this garbage spewing, unsustainable being, into the straining populace, we would do everything we could to bring up an ecologically sensitive, non-excessive trash producing, alternative fuel car driving (ok, so she won't be driving anything but a sweet tricked out Graco Stroller for a long time) infant.

The first step in the plan was to find a solution to the diaper crisis. See, way back in the day, diapers were made of cloth and our grandmas and grandpas (knowing MY Grandma, she never did, that's why I included the grandpas in the deal) would wash them out, fold them neatly in a hamper, and then reuse them. Remember safety pins? By the time our moms were pushing us out (in twos, threes, fours and in my case, fives), disposable diapers were on the rise. And if your mommy diapered YOU in sweet little Huggies than somewhere, in some landfill, stinking, rotting (but not decomposing) and leaking toxic little baby turds into the Earth, those diapers still remain. I read an article recently that said it takes those things 200-500 years to break down. Are any of you people out there planning on living for 200-500 years? Your diapers, then, will outlive you. And I didn't want that for my little darling. I wanted her little turds to go away and never be heard from again. So we decided to do cloth diapers.

Now, realize, that the disposable diaper industry pays a lot to keep us using their products. Apparently, nobody in the disposable diaper industry gives a flying crap (no pun intended) that their products are toxic, unhealthy and very very bad for the environment. Anybody out there care to cite that very well known "study" done on the environmental effects of cloth versus disposable diapers? The one that says the environmental effects are equal and that it really doesn't make a difference either way? The one Parents magazine, as well as a host of other popular-amongst-the-mommy-set magazines has frequently cited? Yeah, I did some digging on that one. Guess who paid for that research? HINT: Its the companies that makes the chemicals that are used to create the disposable diapers. And guess what else? That research has been banned from being printed as research in England due to the fact that it has been deemed false information and mere propaganda from the diapers companies to assuage the guilty feelings of moms who just might be contemplating the idea of switching to cloth. Why, you might ask, would Parents magazine, a reputable periodical, print such a thing? Well, open up an issue of the magazine and thumb through some of the advertisements in it. Who is it that is paying the magazine big bucks to advertise in their magazine? (I'll give you a hint; its not the cloth diaper companies).

So we found ourselves in a not terribly unique position of being treated like children by everyone we told about the hair brained cloth diapering idea. They said we wouldn't last. They laughed. They said the first time we had to do a load of dirty crappy diapers, we would turn tail and run to the nearest store for some Pampers. Strangely enough though, we found when we brought Sofia home from the hospital that we actually kind of liked the diapers. They were soft and felt nice. They didn't have a bunch of gel in the center that turned to cement whenever the baby peed so that we could arguably leave the dirty diaper on the kid for 12 hours without her butt getting wet. They had to be changed frequently, but since we did it right from the start, we didn't really mind. We had to do a load of dirty diapers about every other day to keep up with them. Oh my. Might I add in here that Hugo's mother cloth diapered 4 kids in COLOMBIA with diapers that she had to make herself and without a washing machine? Every time I don't feel like doing a load of diapers, I think of that. And best of all, we never had to make an emergency "diaper run" to the store in the middle of the night.

We have spent about 500 dollars on all the diapers we'll need until the kid is potty trained. Oh, and did I mention, cloth diapered kids are potty trained, on average, six months sooner than disposable diapered kids? You see, all that gel that the diaper company puts into your kids' diapers actually serves several purposes. First of all, it keeps the kid so dry that she doesn't even realize she's gone, which means that by the time your child is of potty trainable age, she makes little or no connection between the act of releasing her bladder and the resultant wetness that should accompany it. She has to, in effect, totally learn how to recognize that she is even going before she can be potty trained. Secondly, it sets your kid up for all kinds of convenient products (designed and marketed by the disposable diaper companies) to act as "interim" or "training" tools while your child is learning to potty. Pull-ups, toddler diapers, toddler wipes (in what way these are different from baby wipes I have no idea) and those neat new diapers for 10 year old boys that are disguised as boxer shorts so he won't get made fun of at camp. I tend to think that I got off easy with 500 dollars. Also, IF we decide to give Sofia a baby brother or sister, we won't have to spend ANYTHING on the diapers for that one. All you disposable diaper using moms should try that with YOUR baby's diapers. Save them and reuse them on the next one. They'll still be around I promise you.

So if you notice that Sofia looks a little puffier around the middle than other babies in some of the pictures, it's because her cloth diapers give her an absolutely adorable little Oompah Loompah appearance. She seems to be dealing with the stress quite nicely though. Do I think every mom should throw out their disposable diapers and buy cloth from now on? Kind of. But here's the thing. Keep a few packages of your Huggies around for trips, long days of errand running and the like. I even have a few packages for those purposes. Nobody's saying we shouldn't use paper plates and plastic silverware EVER. But who uses them every night for dinner? Most of us bust out the glass plates and metal silverware most of the time. Dixie Cups and Chinet plates are perfectly acceptable for picnics, work eat-ins, and potlucks, but it would just be silly if we ate off them all the time. If you think about diapers in much the same way, I think you might begin to see my point.

If you just CAN"T bring yourself to stick your toe in the water of cloth diapering, ok. I won't hate you for it (though I can't speak for mother nature on this matter). However, think very carefully about the future our kids will live in. They will be the ones who will have to learn how to live more environmentally friendly lives. They will have to adapt as we have all failed most miserably to do in even the most simple ways. It will be their future that depends on it. Are you doing your part to make sure that your child is prepared for that future?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Last year around this time...

OK, last year around this time (actually towards the end of October) I was experiencing the joys of first trimester pregnancy and around my birthday and Halloween was when we made the "Big Announcement" to Hugo's family and my side of the family that lives in Daytona (ie. Rene', Alex, Frank and Angela).

Here are a few pictures of me, unwrapping the gift from Hugo that "spilled the beans" so to speak. We decided that at my birthday dinner he would present me with a gift wrapped onesy or newborn outfit of some kind. When I opened it, his family would be like "WTF?" or, more appropriately, "Que es esto?" Try to keep up with the sequence. It went a little something like this....

He chose an adorable little sleeper that was white with green dinosaurs on account of the fact that we didn't know what the gender was yet (you think maybe he was leaning toward boy?)

I held it aloft proudly. Here you can clearly see my "sea bands" the grey wristbands that resemble something Cyndi Lauper would wear in a workout video from the '80s. They were supposed to help with the morning sickness (a euphemism if I ever heard one). I was sick all the time.
I looked at Hugo and grinned...
...cuz I had a feeling that what was underneath the jammies was a very pricey little video camera that I had suggested he purchase me for my birthday... that we would have it when the baby was born to videotape her with
Hugo's parents...his mom got it right away, but clearly, his father was wondering, "Isn't that going to be too small for her? Who is she kidding?"

Hugo's brother Daniel was like, "Geez, I was starting to think the old boy didn't have what it takes..."
Hugo's dad was like, "Can I borrow this?"
Later that night, at a party at George and Adrianna's, the other part of the family had their chance to weigh in on the news. What's that? Was it a costume party? No, Alex and Rene' are just wierd like that. He likes to play Doctor, she likes to dress like a floozy from a different era.
Me and Hugo decided not to dress up. Or actually, we dressed up as a pregnant girl and Jimmy Smits.
Gianna was like, "Yo, if you think I'm just gonna push over and not be the baby anymore, you gotta nother thing comin'! Don't mess with the gansta fairy"

Helpful Resources for New Parents

Here is a picture of Sofia (far left) along with some of her future "best friends," all born within a few weeks of her at NFRMC; known affectionately by us moms as our "SpringPeas"

As a new mom, I have several websites that, along with my trusty American Society of Pediatricians tome, my sister Val's phone numbers, and the paltry amount of knowledge that falls under the heading of "maternal instinct," act as my main resources for parenting. happens to be a very helpful resource for nursing moms. It was a godsend during those first few dark weeks of motherhood when I wanted nothing more than to hurl the baby through an open window every time she "latched on". However, upon browsing through the many helpful links contained in the site, I happened upon a really interesting one. It is aptly (and alluringly) titled "milkmen: men who breastfeed." Now how, I ask you, can one resist clicking on that one? For everyone's enjoyment, I will post a link to the site.

Please don't think I'm making fun of Kellymom. I love the site. Like I said, it was a godsend. Especially after I watched the hilarious Youtube video about lactating men. It gave me an idea...Hugo? You're feeding the next one.

Another {un} helpful link was this one...

I decided to put this idea into practice one day soon after we brought Sofia home. The Diaper Free Babies people recommend putting your baby, naked, upon a blanket or towel on your bed and "observing her" for an extended period of time to learn what her facial expressions and mannerisms are just prior to eliminating. Then, you can just watch for those preparatory signs and hold her over a small potty whenever she is about to go, thereby eliminating (hehe) the need for diapers. That sounded mighty interesting and if all the granola moms were doing it, I was determined to do it as well. Who needs diapers? I laid Sofia on the bed as directed and proceeded to "watch" her. She was quite content to be naked and happily munched on the back of her hand while I "observed" her. After quite some time, I began to feel the need to eliminate myself, so I quickly excused myself. Upon returning to the bedroom, I found that Sofia had taken advantage of my absence by both pooping and peeing all over herself while I was gone. I put a diaper on her and gave up. What a quitter I am.

Sofia at 16 weeks

I had a special request from one of my loyal readers (my mom) for some recent pictures of Sofia. So, I had Hugo go through, I don't know, 4,000 or so raw images on his computer and pick out some real cuties. I like to think of Hugo as my Network Administrator first and my husband second.

Go Gators!
Catching some "couch time"
Sofia "Pooh"
Now, I will post this and congratulate myself on several facts:
1. My daughter (whom I created with a minor amount of assistance from Hugo) is the cutest baby in the world.
2. I am the luckiest mother in the world since it is 10:55 PM and Sofia has been sound asleep since 9 or so and I'm not even terrified that she will wake up.
3. It feels good to not have engorged boobies anymore (those first few months of nursing were a doozie).
4. So far, I seem to be succeeding at this whole "stay at home mom who just happens to work 36 hours a week" thing. Me and Sofia had a lovely day in which we went to the mall, Old Navy and Target and walked around to avoid staying at home and succumbing to the temptations of the "all day nap" which I easily could have done. I bolstered myself with plenty of coffee from Starbucks and tried to forget the fact that my 401K (as well as everyone else's in America) is soon to be gone and McCain is actually starting to pull ahead in the polls. Yikes!
Oh and here's an amusing anecdote. Today, I went down to Hugo's work to pick him up and arrived early, so Sofia and I enjoyed some time together on the bench in the very park-like setting that is the Sunstate Federal Credit Union's downtown branch (one of the many joys of living in Gainesville is that even the downtown area is nice and green with plenty of trees and streams and whatnot; you hardly feel like you're in a city at all).
Hugo and his boss, Chuck, came out of the building promptly at 6 PM and Chuck greeted us pleasantly. I told Hugo that we had spent the day shopping and strolling around Gainesville and then Hugo's boss Chuck said something that SOUNDED like, "Now its time to go home and sip some beers with Daddy, right?"
"Damn Straight!" I replied, grinning enthusiastically at the thought. Perhaps Hugo had mentioned this to him as his plan for the evening or something. As we were walking away toward the car, Hugo looked at me strangely and said, "Why are you grinning? What's so funny about that?"
"He said we were gonna go home and sip some beers!" I giggled. I don't know, it just seemed kind of uncharacteristic of his boss to say something like that. As it turns out, it was. What he REALLY said, according to Hugo was that it was time to SWITCH GEARS, not SIP BEERS. Tee Hee. I guess I must have some fuzz in my ears.
Another amusing anecdote (they're just piling up here tonight). Hugo and I are currently in the computer room, he at his monster PC that he built himself and me with my laptop. I just caught Hugo laughing quietly to himself. "What's so funny?" I asked. He was enjoying quite a chuckle. He demured, claiming that it was something only he would be amused by and I wouldn't "get it". Of course, once he said that, I had to know. I insisted and finally he broke down. "My computer is running at 17 degrees Celcius" he said, and I howled with laughter. Because he is so right; I have no idea why that is laugh-worthy. And that makes it all the more of a riot.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Some of My Worst Vices part IV

Cassie, My Yorkshire Terrier

But, you may ask, how can an adorable pooch be considered a vice (unless you have already come to the conclusion that I have an extremely loose grasp of exactly what a vice is, in which case you would be entirely correct; after all, I don’t have any REAL vices). The truth is Cassie is far from being an adorable pooch. If you examine the picture at the header of this blog, you will see Cassie sitting on my lap. If you look closely, you may also appreciate the fact that she has a certain look of superiority on her face which tells the world that she is the queen and she doesn’t give one red cent what you or anyone else thinks of her. What you might not be able to tell from that picture is that she is mean and vile and frequently chooses to roll around in rotten animal remains before returning to the house to sit on my furniture as though she owns it. She hates her sister Nicky who I specifically got to act as Cassie’s companion during the long days Hugo and I were away at work. The way that she expresses her feelings towards Nicky is by attacking her at any given moment (real subtle, huh?) and also by walking over to whatever chair, cushion, blanket or bed (mine included) Nicky deigns to sit upon and peeing directly in front of her. Not only that, but Nicky got several beatings for this when she was first brought home, because up until that point Cassie had always demonstrated at least a moderate amount of urinary continence so I assumed (until I actually witnessed the act) that it must be Nicky, the newcomer. I hope that Nicky (and God and Violet who was kind enough to give me Nicky) will forgive me for this oversight. Oh, yes, Cassie is everything that Lassie was not in terms of canine baseness and villainous acts. If she found a little boy stuck in a burning barn instead of running to get Timmy, she would probably add insult to injury by peeing on the innocent victim. She loves nothing more than to kick a girl when she’s down, as evidenced by her apparent delight in attacking Nicky whenever Nicky is already scared or being punished.
When little children mistakenly identify her as a cute fluffy puppy that they want to play with, she disavows them of this notion very effectively by “bopping” them in the face, an act that is somewhere between a punch and a bite. Luckily she has no teeth so she presents no actual threat to anything larger than a fruit fly. Yes, my “main” pooch Cassie is a real pain in the butt. Nicky, my “back-up pooch” is so much more pet-like and enjoyable to be around. And yet, I stubbornly continue to love Cassie the most of my two pooches. She’s mean and nasty and high-fallutin’ and she makes a poor excuse for a pet. She deserves nothing more than a date with the euthanasia tech at our local vet’s office. Don’t think Hugo hasn’t thought of it. I see it in his eyes sometimes. The only redeeming characteristic that Cassie exhibits, and get ready because it’s a good one, is that she is devoted to me. I might even go so far as to say that she worships me. At nighttime, she sneaks up and joins me in bed while Hugo is brushing his teeth. She sits there on the bed at my feet looking adoringly up at me until she hears Hugo on the stairs. Then, she leaps up and races to the top of the bed so that she can squirm underneath the covers and, following a path right along the side of my body, she slithers down to the bottom of the bed and lays there, quivering, as close to me as her 5 pound bulk will allow her to press. Hugo, playing along, comes up and pretends to be oblivious to her presence.

He sneaks up to the foot of the bed and in one motion he sweeps back the blanket and swoops her up, going, “ah-HAH!”. The foiled pooch gets transported back downstairs to where her bed awaits, with Nicky obediently ensconced already. Nicky will not risk her life and limbs to be with me, which is why she mostly stays downstairs and therefore on the better side of Hugo’s ill temper. Cassie, on the other hand, will not only risk life and limb but I firmly believe that she would gladly sacrifice all in order to save me. And when it comes right down to it; isn’t that the primary requirement of a good pet? My more egotistical side says yes. After all, it’s nice to be worshipped once in awhile, even if it’s by a lousy (no really, she catches fleas from the squirrels out back) excuse for a dog.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Some of my worst vices, part III

Keith Olberman
I love that man. For those of you who don’t know him, he has a show called Countdown with Keith Olberman on MSNBC every weeknight at 8. I watch him somewhat religiously (unless I’m currently on the no television until after the baby is in bed kick and then I have to catch him on reruns at 4 in the morning when I’m having insomnia because I’m a night shift nurse again).

But his show is pretty much a political commentary which his blessedly leftist soul attempts to pretend is fair, impartial and nonpartisan but in which he finds it extremely difficult to say anything nice about Republicans and anything not nice about Democrats. Since I tend to agree with him that Republicans are mostly evil and that most of the Democrats at least have some redeeming characteristics, I love to listen to his antics. The promo for his show says that it is “…Keithier” than other shows and it most certainly is that. I think he’s adorable. And he thinks that Barack Obama (or B-Funkadelic, as my sister would like me to refer to him heretofore) is sent straight from the heavens, a sentiment which I tend to also agree with.

So keep your Anderson Cooper 360, with his perfectly prematurely white hair and carefully nonpartisan subject matter. I’ll take Keith in all his dark suited and purple-tied, musty salt and pepper hairdo’d oddness. He’s a man who isn’t afraid to call Bill O’Reilly “Billo the Clown” and Fox News “Fixed News” and “Fox Noise” depending on how the mood strikes him. Left-Wing News Media he may very well be, but he’s just strange enough to make it onto my list of guilty pleasures.

Some of my worst vices, part II

Parentheses. Have you noticed? I use ‘em a lot. I also use them in conversation, only my listeners do not have the benefit of the physical presence of the parentheses so they don’t know I’ve gone off on a tangent and they consequently lose track of the main point of the story. Often, without having the benefit of looking back at my previous text to remind myself, I also forget where I was going when verbally telling a story. I wish we could have “air parentheses” like we have “air quotation marks”. I would use them frequently if we did.

Ellipses. These are the little dots that allow the writer to trail off, as though she has so much more to say on that subject but there just isn’t enough time. That way, anyone who does brave the typewritten diarrhea that is my daily thoughts will know that no matter how much I have rambled on and no matter how many crazy tangents I have gone off on (see above), it could have been worse…

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Long Hard Road to Motherhood

I have reached some sort of a crossroads in my journey to being a “mom”. Thus far, I have been a “mommy” and a “new mother,” but I haven’t yet felt like a “mom”. Shall I explain? Let me explain.

Mommies are new and fluffy and extremely, cripplingly in love with their babies. They cannot stand to hear them cry and they have utterly no perspective when it comes to their babies. They get offended in the supermarket when they hear some old moron calling their babies by the wrong gender (as in, “what’s his name?” when it’s a girl). They pull the car over (even if they’re in the worst section of town) if the baby makes any noises of discontent and sit there in the parking lot of the Mellow Mushroom with their boob out, feeding the baby till she settles down and falls asleep. They cry, and I mean really cry, if they see anything remotely unpleasant happening to any baby on television because they immediately think of the same thing happening to their baby. Their boobs start to ache and leak all over the place if they so much as hear a baby crying in the grocery store. They are drippy, tearful, maternal, worshipful and probably annoying for anyone else to be around. This is most likely why new moms have to hang out with other new moms in “postpartum support groups”. Not because postpartum is some kind of disease. Just because none of their other friends want to be around them, so the best thing is for them to congregate amongst each other, alternately breast feeding their own babies and cooing at the other babies in the group. This is where I have been for the past 16 weeks.

Today, I made an important advancement towards moving past this stage. We were in the car, Sofia and I, on our way to pick Hugo up at work. As soon as I got to the first red light, Sofia started to wail. She has begun doing this whenever the car stops. She’s all fine and everything until we come to a red light and as soon as I stop at it, she starts crying as though she’s in terrible pain. I have, up until this point, frequently stopped to check her diaper, make sure she’s not hungry and that there are no bugs happily munching away on her tender little neck (these are the things that haunt a new mommy’s sleep). Other times, I have pre-planned for this fussiness by not pulling all the way up to the light but instead giving myself a good 10 feet and tapping on the brakes to keep the car rocking back and forth until the light turns green again. On still other occasions, when Hugo’s in the car, I have hopped out of the passenger seat at a red light and popped into the back seat so that I can entertain and jiggle the baby to help settle her down.

Anyway, today I did none of these things. I didn’t even really think about it until after it happened. I pulled up to the light, it was red so I stopped, and the baby started crying as though her entire world was about to end. I smoothly reached over and turned up the radio. Welcome to the wonderful world of “Mom”.

I know that there is a purpose to the stages of motherhood. When the baby is tiny and helpless and incapable of manipulation, there is no need for perspective. Many will tell you that you shouldn’t let your newborn sleep with you, that you should let the baby “self soothe” if she wakes up crying, and that you should feed her on a strict schedule from the very beginning to avoid raising a “snacker”. This all made perfect sense to me before I had Sofia, and I planned on doing all of it. She wasn’t going to sleep with us, ever, she was going to learn how to “put herself to sleep” and she was going to be fed on a schedule so that we could establish a good feeding and sleeping pattern. When she was born, though, I found my own maternal instincts at odds with these dictates. The truth was; I wanted to sleep with her. She was so soft and snuggly and smelled so good. I didn’t want to hear her cry, ever, and I would do anything to make her stop when she did. When all else failed, even if I knew she wasn’t hungry, I would nurse her, because it seemed to make her feel better and it sure as heck made me feel better. The point is, I truly think now that this is how we’re supposed to act as new parents (don’t think Hugo was exempt from any of this).

Newborn babies shouldn’t ever be allowed to cry themselves out. They’re so tiny and they’ve just been introduced to this world from one in which they were warm and snuggly all the time, enveloped in love and fed a constant diet of the very best of whatever the mother eats. Is it asking so much to give them a few months to adjust before we start slugging them with the muck of “reality”? Can’t they just enjoy a short reprieve before we start imposing “schedules” and “sleeping rules” on them? Of course, eventually, we must begin to slowly introduce reality in small doses, so they won’t grow up to be narcissistic and incapable of dealing with unpleasant sensory experiences. I think I know how that happens now. It’s a slow transition from “mommy” to “mom” that happens within us. Today, I let her cry at the light. Tomorrow I might let her fuss until we get home before I feed her. And someday, just maybe, I might have the courage to put her on a school bus, knowing full well that she might get picked on and made fun of. Right now the very idea makes me break out in hives, but who knows?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Some of my worst vices, part I

I love it.
All different kinds.
Regular with half and half. Café Latte. Cappucino. Iced or blended. Plenty of whipped cream where possible. I even like an espresso occasionally. The only thing I don’t much like is flavored coffee. I’m not sure why, but I just don’t like the way it tastes. Love the way it smells. For a long time, I would make the mistake of ordering flavored coffees when I could smell them and they smelled divine (not to mention some of the names…toasted hazelnut truffle…who could resist something called that?). Then I would taste it and realize that its only plain unflavored coffee for me. This gets immediately tossed out the window whenever the coffee beverage is chilled and blended. Then, flavors excite and fulfill me.
Many have asked me (with very holier than thou expressions on their faces) if I really think it’s a good idea to drink coffee while breastfeeding. I came up with a great rejoinder for this while pregnant. “My baby daddy is Colombian,” I would reply, rubbing my belly comfortably, “So, I figure she’s either gonna be addicted to coffee or cocaine. Let’s hope its coffee…” Really people. Every healthcare practitioner I have spoken to says that there have been no adverse effects on children whose mothers drink up to 4 cups of coffee a day. Now, I do love coffee, but I can’t imagine what I would look like if I drank 4 cups of it a day. Like I was high on crack probably. Coffee is like crack; it should be enjoyed in very small quantities…

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Easy Asian Coconut Curry

OK, here's a reipce I have been making a lot lately. I think Hugo might be starting to get tired of it because I make it about once a week. Its so good though! And easy. And cheap. OK, this is starting to sound like an advertisement for the girls on Ridgewood (Rene' will get that joke; hopefully nobody else will).
Start with the following ingredients:
1 can of light cocount milk (I often use the full fat one but right now I just finished eating a decadent dessert consisting of apples, butter, sugar, crescent rolls and Mountain Dew, so I'll go with the lighter version of the recipe).
2 cups of prepared brown rice (OK, use white if you must but I promise, the brown rice isn't just a health move; it actually does add something to the overall taste)
1 package of tofu (I like the NORYU box of silken firm tofu, its very silken, yet very firm as well...)
1 tablespoon of red curry paste (available in the asian foods aisle, near the soy sauce)
1 package of Birds Eye Steam Fresh mixed vegetables. The one with broccoli, carrots, sugarsnap peas and water chestnuts. Go ahead and pop it into the microwave and cook for 5 minutes (this isn't rocket science folks. If you want some crazy complicated recipe, visit my sister Val. She likes to keep it real with the old recipes, but she also switches it up and goes all Martha Stewart on your ass occasionally).

While you're cooking the vegetables (oh, I'm sorry, you didn't realize that we had segued into the cooking portion of the recipe? I like to do that. Its a literary skill. I slid right from the ingredients section into the cooking section and you didn't even know it. What's that you say? Literary devices have no place in recipe-sharing? Nonsense.) Anyway, as I was saying, pour your can of coconut milk into a skillet (carefully, so as not to slosh any of that good stuff over the side of the pan. Not that I have ever done that before...) Whisk in the curry paste. You could just stir it in with a fork if you don't want to dirty up your whisk. Or, if your whisk happens to be in the dishwasher right now. Or if you, like me, do not own a whisk. I told you, this is not rocket science here. Even girls like me who don't own a whisk can do it. I don't like a lot of superfluous kitchen utensils hanging around. Anyway, once the sauce is bubbling, you can back off the heat a little so it barely simmers. You don't want to cook it down too much or it will be super thick.

Cut up the tofu into pleasant bite sized pieces and carefully slide them into the sauce. Here is where I better throw the modification in for people like my sister Rene' who hate foods that are meatless and free of alcohol. Switch out the tofu for cooked chicken and pour yourself a glass of plum wine. Modification complete. By the way, if you happen to be one of the 3 people reading this blog AND you happen to be one of my sisters, I bet you guys didn't think I thought of you as often as I obviously do. I can't write a single sentence without referring to one of you. Don't worry Mom (the third person reading this blog) I'm thinking about you too. I know you're probably trying to recover from my previous blog, the political direction of which probably still has you swooning with dread.

Now, you must get a few bowls out. Get 2 bowls if you are serving 2 people. Get 4 bowls if you are serving 4 people. If you are serving more than that, you might want to double up on this recipe. Place a nice portion of rice in each bowl. Add some of the vegetables from the Steam Fresh bag. Then, pour some of the creamy, coconutty sauce over everything, making sure to transfer plenty of tofu along with the sauce into each bowl. Get yourself some chopsticks if you really want to feel authentic. Eat it. Just eat it. Now, of course, if you are a wuss when it comes to spicy foods, feel free to reduce the amount of curry paste that you use the first time, to sort of ease yourself into the world of curry. Curry is very good. It is an acquired taste. It will clean out your sinuses in much the same way as wasabi does, but with a totally different flavour. I spelled flavour the long, exotic way. Hehe. It makes me feel just a little bit Martha...
BTW I realize that I have a problem with excessive parentheses and ellipses (I'm working on that...) :)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

A letter to our future President

Dear Barack
Well, Mr. Obama, it looks like you will be our next president. I’m really happy about that because, well, I sincerely think you’re the right man for this job. I don’t envy you your responsibilities or the struggle it took you to get where you are (and where you most certainly will be this coming January). However, now that you’re (almost) my president, I have a few minor requests. I make them on behalf of myself and my family. We don’t ask for much. As you can see, we aren’t bothering to write this letter to the current president, because, Mr. Obama, I just don’t think he really cares about people like us. You, on the other hand, seem to care a great deal about people just like us. So, I can wait a few more months. Think of it as an early Christmas wish list. Of course, by the time you get into office, it will be a late Christmas wish list. And, to be politically correct, we should refer to it as a holiday wish list. So here goes.

1. Please make a socialized healthcare system of some kind. I know there are people out there who like to say that socialized medicine is a bad idea and that it hasn’t worked in other countries. Other countries that have longer life expectancy and better quality of life than we in this country have. They say that socialized medicine turns healthcare into a nightmare of red tape, and that we will all have to wait in line to receive healthcare services. Barack, last time I checked, the ER lines were 3-4 hours long here in this country. I would rather see everyone wait in line than see some of my fellow Americans go without healthcare of any kind. Sometimes I think that those of us who have health insurance are just as badly off as those who don’t. I’m a nurse. I have had to see a patient get sent home from the hospital when they weren’t really ready to go simply because some guy in an insurance office somewhere decided that he didn’t deserve to stay and complete his treatment. What is this country coming to when the insurance companies that are supposed to protect us in times of crisis are the worse kinds of “fair weather friends”?

2. I’d also like to request that you fix social security. It seems almost like the current president has used it like his own personal piggy bank, withdrawing anytime he felt the need to fund an unpopular war. I don’t know the nuts and bolts of the whole thing but I do know that the social security program is in grave danger. It says so on the statement I get every year from the Social Security Administration. It says that even though I have paid in to the system all my working life, there won’t be enough to pay out my fair portion by the time I retire. To be honest, I’m more concerned about my parents than I am about myself. I have made alternate arrangements for my own retirement, so, while a pension check from SSA would be nice, it won’t make the difference between whether or not I’m (ever) able to retire. My parents, on the other hand, will need that check in order to make ends meet. They are good people who have worked hard all their lives. They don’t deserve to be reduced to poverty in their old age.

3. My next request is that you help us put the Earth on the road to recovery by setting policy which puts us at the forefront, not the very rear, of the effort to end global warming. My daughter is only 4 months old sir. The Earth is going to need to be around for a very long time if she is ever going to bounce great-grandchildren on her knee. I really can’t see anything much more important than that, can you?

4. Next, I’d like to stop all this nonsense with “relief at the pump”. It may be incredibly bourgeoisie of me, but I don’t see lower gas prices as the answer to all our problems. I want to stop standing at the pump entirely. Please stop all this nonsense about drilling for oil and providing subsidies for families to pay for the gas to fill up their SUV’s. We need alternatives. There is technology out there already that would allow for us to end our dependence on unfriendly countries for oil. Unfortunately, our country’s leadership has been in bed with the very people who make a lot of money off of our dependence on foreign oil for a very long time and I fear that they are the ones funding this push to invest still more in spinning our wheels for years while actually doing nothing to change the status quo. We need someone in Washington who hasn’t been around long enough to be in bed with anyone. That is why I actually think your “inexperience” might be just what we need Mr. Obama. You just might be naïve enough to get the job done right. Isn’t it a strange coincidence that, just about the time that our economic stimulus checks arrived this summer, gas topped out at over $4 a gallon? Does anyone else think it’s kind of like George W. Bush wrote a big huge check to the oil companies only he used us as the middle men?

5. I think it’s time we got a new women’s rights issue and put the Roe Vs. Wade case to bed for good. The thing is, while most women feel that they should control their own bodies, abortion just isn’t that big of a deal to most of us anymore. The vast majority of women have never considered, nor ever will consider getting an abortion. We’re just smarter than that. We know how to prevent unwanted pregnancies by now and we feel that by focusing on this tiny little procedure that we all can agree is unpleasant and in most cases unnecessary, all women lose. We want to focus on equal pay for an equal day. I won’t fight for my daughter to have the right to an abortion. I will fight for my daughter to have the right to the same treatment in school and the workplace as any man. Maybe that’s why the so-called “conservative” right has tried to distract us with the abortion issue for so many years. If it were equal pay, they might actually have to come up with some argument that doesn’t involve “God says so” in its response.

6. Speaking of my daughter and school, can we please put some money into the public school system so my daughter can have a world class education? I don’t mind paying taxes if I know that the money is going to stay here and in our schools instead of being poured into an unpopular and unnecessary war. I plan on teaching my daughter everything I can about values and respect and how to develop her own philosophy of the world we live in. I’d like to know that when I send her off to school in few years she will get a good solid education to add to that foundation. I’d like to think of my child’s education as a team effort. I will do my part. I will do the school’s part if I have to but I’d much rather focus on what I’m good at (nursing) and let the teachers focus on what they are good at. That’s what they’re talking about when they say that it takes a village.

I know there are other issues that are very important that I don’t understand fully. After all, I’m just a nurse. I will leave nuclear proliferation and peace in the Middle East in your very capable hands. These issues are the ones most of us here in the U.S.A. care about. We just want to enjoy the right to work, play and raise our families. We don’t mind if there are people out there who have a whole lot more than we do. We only object to the fact that it seems like the decisions being made in this country have been stacking the deck more and more in favor of those people for some time. We the middle class are the backbone of this country. If we lose, everyone loses. Mr. Obama, we can’t wait to see you become President Obama in a few short months. We just know that the change you have been talking about is more than a slogan. I’m sorry if this letter seems like the mother of all “honey do” lists. However, if you show it to Michelle, I bet she will agree that these are the things that really matter.

Yours truly,