Friday, April 28, 2006

randomly yours

I need to post, if only to establish the habit of posting regularly and more than once a week. Also because I'm slowly acquiring "friends in the computer" (I'm borrowing this term from BMC who borrowed it from someone else...) thanks to this blog, and I don't want to be lame and throw out bombshells about people running away and then not come back and say that all is sorta well.

See, Hyde got very sick on Sunday night, so sick he had to miss two days of school and then came home on Wednesday running a fever again. At times like these, I guess it's nice to be home with a mom and dad who take care of everything. Right? So, there's been a bit of an attitude improvement. Parenting class was great on Sunday morning too. I felt my feelings and experiences very validated. One of the teachers had emailed this essay to me the night before, when she found out what had happenend with Hyde during the week, and reading it was quite eye-opening for me as far as helping me understand how I've been relating to most of the main players in my life.

Potty-training is going much better in the last few days, it seems El Niño is finally getting the hang of holding pee in a little and saying "potty" when he feels like it's time to not hold it in anymore. We had no accidents yesterday, even though he went naked-butt all day while he was awake (he wore a cloth diaper during his nap, which was soaking wet by the time he woke up) and I was battling the worst migraine I've had in months. He *is* dealing with a bad case of diaper rash, his first since I binged on chocolate a year ago and we found out the hard way that he's allergic to it, because he refused to let us change his cloth diaper a few times earlier this week and apparently that's all it took to mess up his delicate skin big time.

While I was discussing with Mo yesterday what kind of diaper rash cream I wanted him to buy (we've never used any because we've never had to... I double-dare you to ask me why I feel that routine use of diaper rash cream is unnecessary), I told him that I'm not *really* crunchy, more like yoghurt-covered-granola crunchy. And it made him laugh. I love it when I can make him laugh. And also when I can come up with a way to describe myself that doesn't make me feel uncomfortable, doesn't pigeon-hole me into some category that I don't really belong in (I'm apparently not the only one with this issue). Before El Niño was born, I'd never heard of Attachment Parenting, lactivism, family beds, or "crunchy" as an adjective for people. I'd cut out MSG and artificial ingredients from my diet for health, not moral or political reasons. I recycled and tried to generate as little garbage as possible out of a sense of responsibility towards nature. Whenever I could afford to, I bought organic products, and I guess that was a little political-moral-ethically motivated. But I think my Natural Family Planning, organic farming, non-vaxing cousin and her family are crunchy... not us. Ummmm, I mean seriously, we shop at Costco, Target and Big Lots. We can't afford to shop regularly at Whole Foods or New Seasons. So, in my migraine-induced delirium, I came up with yoghurt-covered granola. It fits me, us, our life. My favorite breakfast is a layer of fresh fruit covered by a layer of yoghurt, with a layer of granola and some honey drizzled over it. If you've never had this combo, you are missing out on some edible perfection!

Speaking of granola, is this a good time to talk about baby carriers? Because I've found myself obsessively thinking about them lately... I received word-by-email that my silk & velveteen Kozy is almost finished, and I nearly peed my pants with glee. When I post a picture of the finished product, I'm sure it'll be obvious what the BFD is and why I'm so excited. However, I'm also in the market for a lighter, Summer-friendly carrier (I'm sure the velveteen will not be my best friend when it gets really hot here). So, we're considering getting ourselves this gauze wrap from Gypsy Mama:

You may not be able to tell from the pictures that this hand-batiked-in-Bali wrap has a gorgeous print of TURTLES along the borders, and a mermaid holding a baby in the center. PeRRRfect! By the way, Mo is such an awesome, supportive husband that he helped me pick out this wrap (he happens to be a sucker for turtles too). I have to sell the Gracosaur to fund it, tho.

The other carrier that keeps appearing in my dreams these days is from
Didymos, a German company that just rocks my world for their commitment to fair trade, the environment and offering their customers a guilt-free, beautiful product. I encourage you to visit their site and read up on their corporate philosophy. This is called Purple Waves and contains all my favorite colors in the world. I would gladly be mummiffied in this wrap. *sigh* I can dream. And, trust me, I do.

Happy Friday!

Saturday, April 22, 2006

"bless me, Blogosphere, for I have sinned!"

"... it's been over a week since my last confession."

(if this doesn't give you an idea of how bad a Catholic I was growing up, nothing will)

So anyway, it's been pretty rough around here lately and I haven't been in the mood to share. Really, my MOOD was definitely not something anyone'd want to be sharing with me.

What's going on, you ask?

Well, I'm helping one of my dearest friends get ready to move out of the home she lovingly renovated with her husband a few years ago, because the fucktard woke up on his 40th birthday and announced he wanted a divorce. The kids are reeling, she's devastated and he's got a twinkie on the side that only a few of us know about. It sucks. I don't understand how this can really be happening to them. Other people, sure. But not this family. Mo's 40th birthday's coming up in a few months... he can go live out his midlife crisis in Alaska fishing for crab (this is something he wants to do), as long as he doesn't mess with our marriage. Otherwise, he'll be crab-bait.

Potty training El Niño was going pretty well until we got him into training pants. He'd been pooping in the toilet for over a month, letting us know several times a day when he had to go pee by saying "potty" while making the sign for potty, and had become fascinated with a book about Ernie (of Sesame Street fame) called Too Big for Diapers. These all seemed like readyness signs to *me* and I thought if we didn't get him into training pants, we'd be holding him back. Plus, it was a real pain to be running back and forth to the bathroom and stripping him of Onesies and diapers and whatever other layers of clothing he had on. I thought it'd be awesome to get him trained before I go back to work (which I really need to do soon because we're steps away from the poorhouse at this point). Well, now he doesn't want to go to the potty at all, except when he has to poo, which means that my laundry pile has EXPLODED. I will only use disposable training pants when we're out of the house, and we're usually home all day... so this means we go through a lot of training pants, cloth diapers and regular pants. In the last couple of days, he's decided he wants to run around the apartment wearing nothing at all, which means that I really, really have to watch him or he'll pee on the carpet without warning (with a look of wonderment as he does so). Oh, and his "awareness" of his bodily functions also appears to be messing with his ability to sleep, at night and at naptime. See where I'm going with this? I am one tired, cranky mutha.

On top of this, Hyde decided to walk out of school in the middle of the day a couple of days ago... intending to once again run away. He broke into our church and spent the night there, while we once again spent the night worried about where he was and if he was safe. The male teenage brain seems to me to be a minefield of anger and confusion, and I really don't know how to deal with it. He's home now, and I'm praying we can come to a negotiated peace of some sort, before I lose my mind.
Some commenters to my meme post seemed to be very impressed that I taught myself English when I was four years old, Dutch even called me a "badass". Which is funny, because the only time I really thought of myself as a badass was the time I installed a million-dollar router that weighed twice as much as I did. Teaching myself to read English has always seemed like an oddity. As a little girl, I didn't realize that English wasn't a phonetic language and was very confused when I came to the States and people started speaking to me. What I've been a little curious about is what my parents were thinking, leaving me in the care of my uncle... and what he was thinking taking me to the UN when I was seven years old. But that's material for another post.

Finally, some sweet things have happened. El Niño has a few new words: hello, morning, yo-yo, hat, Whoo-Oo for his beloved, and newt (for nose, it's a hybrid of the Spanish and English words). I also caught him yesterday trying to get his nipple up to his lips; perhaps he's hoping to nurse himself? LOL! The happiest news is that we may finally have a breakthrough in our attempts to partially wean: he seems to really like Oat milk.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Six things?

hmmmm, we've been tagged by HeatherJ at Life in MamaLand (go check her out). Our first meme! Apparently I'm supposed to share six weird facts/things/habits about myself, and I told Mo he has to do it too (since she tagged the blog, not me specifically... see what a PITA I am?). This gives me a good excuse to post, since I've been procrastinating because I've got several topics I've been working on inside my messy-hazy brain.
  1. I don't know how to ride a bike, never learned. What can I say, I seriously had no childhood. Heather, feel free to come and teach me. Mo promised he would, but we've been married almost three years and so far, nada.
  2. I taught myself English when I was four years old because I wanted to read my dad's collection of super-hero comic books. (my first language is Spanish; I was reading & writing and started 1st grade when I was 4yo)
  3. When I was a little girl, my uncle used to take me to the UN to listen to the debates going on there. I'd sit in the visitors' gallery in the dark, with the headphones on and flipping through the simultaneous-translation channels, fascinated at the amount of languages available for me to listen to & learn. I really thought someday I would learn to speak most of the world's languages.
  4. I didn't inherit whatever "girl" gene it is that makes lots of females capable of doing cool things with their hair, put on makeup, decorate their homes, sew, knit, etc. I feel strangely alien when I go to a place like JoAnn's, and like a kid in a candy store when I go to Home Depot. While I really want to learn how to sew and crochet someday soon, what I really, really, really want is to learn how to make beautiful wood furniture and wrought iron pieces.
  5. Even though I'm obsessive about healthy eating, and the food I buy and prepare at home is free from MSG, artificial flavors or colors... I've got a terrible weakness for some types of junk food. The six-dollar burger from Carl's Jr., french fries, fried chicken from the Haggen deli, and dark chocolate Mounds candy bars are my kryptonite. I will not classify pizza as a "bad" food, because I love pizzas loaded with veggies and made with lowfat cheese.
  6. I went to college for four and a half years but have no degree to show for it. I couldn't make up my mind as to what I wanted to be when I grew up, and then had to quit due to an unplanned pregnancy (Mr. Hyde). The worst part is that, at 37 years old, I still don't know what I would study if I'm lucky enough to go back to school. I have a good mind for the law (which is what my family were all pushing me to do for years), I'm fascinated by linguistics, and my personality and interests would seem to steer me towards the field of anthropology.
So, that's it. I could've come up with lots more tantalizing tidbits but I'll stop there. Now comes the hard part: tagging others. I hardly know anyone in the blogosphere well enough to tag 'em. Oh well... I am tagging:

Mom Dukes
Sweet Chaos in the Haight
Mama without instructions

1. Reveal six weird facts/things/habits about yourself and then tag six other people
2. Leave some sort of "Tag... you're it!" comment to let the people you have tagged know they have to reveal six things or the entire blogosphere will explode and it will be their fault
3. Leave *me* a comment letting me know that you have complied with this request.

Gracias ;-)

Saturday, April 08, 2006


Mo is truly the best... he baked muffins for breakfast this morning, for the first time in his life. (they were really, REALLY yum!) Now, he's just asked me if I want him to save the bones he cut out of the pork steaks we bought for tonight's dinner. He's planning on cooking up another one of his wonderful surprises.

Saturdays are my day "off", the day he takes over all the household and parental duties. All I have to do is breastfeed. He used to just cook simple meals, because he's never been into food or cooking, like I am. And I had no complaints: he makes excellent burritos, steak and potatoes, etc. No one was feeling deprived around here. But over the last couple of months, he's gotten positively inspired on Saturdays, and I've been regaled with some delicious, unexpectedly complex meals.

I liiiiiiiiike it!

I just caught this story about starving elk on the news. It's awful.

I don't understand why we humans are capable of so much beauty, art, music, and incredible feats of engineering but we don't seem to be able to balance the needs of the human and animal populations of this Earth. We have to find ways to do it, we HAVE to. I'm sickened by images of starving people all over the world, and I'm sickened by these images of beautiful animals, dying because they're starving in a nature "preserve".

setting boundaries

Sometimes it seems to me that most people's problems arise out of a lack of healthy boundaries. God knows most of MY problems have come about because of this. My family is so freaking dysfunctional, Mo's shocked I didn't grow up to be a serial-killer. That bad. I don't even talk to my mother anymore. My stomach knots up at the thought of it.

Ever since El Niño was born, I've worked hard at living drama-free. Because for the longest time, my life resembled a freaking soap opera. I was a classic codependent, and that just wasn't cutting it for me, my husband or my kids. Part of being a good parent is teaching children about healthy boundaries. Your body belongs to you and no one else. Adults don't need to ask *children* for help, they should ask another adult. When someone wants to fight, the best course of action is to walk away... unless they've got you pinned down or cornered, then you fight like hell to break free and get away as fast as you can. Blahblahblah.

Last night, Mo and I were trying to convey some more boundaries to Mr. Hyde. He's 14yo, which can be an age of life-altering, hormone-driven choices, and his ADHD further predisposes him to shitty judgement and boundary-setting. So we tried to address the issue of his current "job" with one of our neighbors, and it pretty much blew up in our faces.

The neighbor in question is a woman who is in her mid-forties, and on medical disability. She is morbidly obese, diabetic, depressed, has IBS and rheumatoid arthritis. She also used to attend our church but left because she didn't feel anyone "cared" about her... When we moved into our apartment a few months ago, she asked my son if he would take out her garbage nightly, and she would pay him. I thought about asking him to do it for her as a service thing (I don't want to use the word charity) but, I had a bad feeling it wouldn't stop at taking out her garbage, and I decided to try to stay out of it. Notice I said "she asked my son". She asked him first, not me. First strike. But, I really try to be nice and take a whole WWJD approach to others. The problem is, it usually backfires. One night, she wasn't there when Hyde went over. Ok, whatever. She came knocking at 10 o'clock, to ask if he'd come and unload her car for her, then throw out the garbage. Uhhhh, WTF?!?!? Her able-bodied-college-student daughter was with her, and she needs my son to unload her car? at ten-fucking-o'clock, when we're all getting ready for bed? I took a deep breath, and let it go. Then she showed up at our door one day, as Mo and I were getting ready to head out, to ask if we could lend her money to pay for her prescription meds. We lent it to her because we happened to have some and she'd been calling me all week, crying on the phone, telling me how the Social Security people were messing up her disability claim, the county clinic was messing up her prescriptions, yaddayaddayadda. (I know, I'm starting to sound like a heartless bitch, aren't I? let's just say I've been thru this before, with other people, and it *never* ends well) Then she called the other day, wanting Hyde to go with her to the supermarket to "help" her. This, at dinnertime. Finally, on Tuesday, Mo and I came home to find a trash bag at our doorstep. No note, nothing. Inside the bag, dirty. cat. litter. We suspected where it'd come from, and I really had to pray to keep my cool. Last night, Hyde confirmed our suspicions, so I asked him if he thought that was ok or if it was a rude overstepping of boundaries. He thought it was ok because she's paying him to take out her garbage. Mo and I tried to explain to him that just because she's paying him, it doesn't mean he's indentured to her (or we are), and he needs to set boundaries. He got upset, and then apparently said something to her that made her upset... so then she called while I was putting the baby down for the night. I didn't hear about it until this morning, which is a good thing. I'm still trying to figure out how I want to handle it. Mo doesn't want to talk to her at all.

I told Cookie when we met that I'm pretty antisocial, and I don't think she was thoroughly convinced. Maybe she'll read this and understand why. Although, right now she's pulling a disappearing act, which is what I'd love to be doing too... but I've gotta roll up my sleeves & do some setting of boundaries first.

[Update 4/9: I obviously attract the criminally insane. This woman left a letter taped to my door in which she accused me of being immature, ungrateful and a bad Christian, among other things. The old me would've ripped her a new one... but the new me wrote her a polite letter back in which I nicely told her to piss off, and to stay away from me and mine. This is why I avoid people. I have plenty of good, low-maintenance friends, why risk the drama with new people?]

ask and you will receive

Lesson learned.

Yesterday I was whining about El Niño not eating. Well, things have improved dramatically since I wrote that. All of a sudden, he decided to eat all the cereal in his snack trap, and half a pear, and half an Odwalla bar. I was so happy, I figured that was his dinner. But no, he devoured spaghetti with meat sauce at dinnertime and impatiently grunted at me when it was all gone, because I was such a spaz I didn't realize he'd want some of the broccoli on my plate too! I'm happy to record for posterity that we seem to be over the hump and he's back to his normal eating habits. He's even sipped some more of the yoghurt milk in his straw cup, so there is hope for some gentle, partial weaning to occur.

Having learned my lesson above, I guess I should now complain about the fact that my beloved Mo is currently working a job that uses less than 3% of his brain capacity and pays two-thirds what he was making at his previous job, the one he got laid off from. My husband is brilliant, hard-working and an organizational wonder. I wish the currently SUCKY Portland job market would cough up a job for him that was challenging and offered better compensation. He's looked and looked, sent his resume out so many times... Please. He deserves better.

And don't get me started on my car. Mo's got it as MacGyver'd as his mechanical skills have allowed, and it's running sorta ok. But it seriously needs some professional mojo, which we currently can't afford (that's where good job compensation comes in handy).

I should probably quit now before I spill all my gripes.

Thursday, April 06, 2006


I walked out of my room to see the following:

Betcha can't guess what it is, even though I'm sure you can guess what I thought it was...

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would you like to swing on a star?

... or would you rather be a mule?

I'm in a mule-ish mood... maybe it's the fact that my stomach hurts, has been hurting for over a week and I can't figure out how to make it (the pain, not my stomach) go away. Or the fact that El Niño is still barely eating since he had the flu two weeks ago. I love breastfeeding but being his *only* source of sustenance right now is not pleasant. It feels like he's gonna suck up a kidney any minute. He's survived the last week on minute amounts of cereal and Odwalla bars. I've been making all his favorite foods, trying to get him to start eating again, with very limited success. I dunno, maybe his tummy hurts too. Or maybe it's the freakin' incisors he's cutting right now. Whatever it is, I'm seriously losing it. It was bad enough that I hadn't been able to persuade him to drink anything other than water from a sippy or straw cup. And this child is on a growth spurt, so this is no joke. I mixed up a bit of his banana yoghurt with milk in his straw cup this morning, he sipped a little of it and didn't totally get disgusted (like he usually does with plain milk). But he doesn't want to look at the cup now. In fact, he shut closed the straw part.

Mad props to CityMama today for saying some things that need to be said. Peace out.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

did I ever mention how lazy I am?

ehhh, I really, really am. It's so much easier to post pictures (I also LOVE Picasa, again because I'm so lazy) than to sit here and try to be all deep about my feelings and thoughts, right? Right. I figure I should be getting some interesting visits from people wanting to check out my naked breast... LOL, gotcha suckazzzz!

Anyway, here's some of the rest of our day in pictures... and, I should also take this opportunity to say that it's obvious Mo and I aren't the best photographers. We definitely need to learn to tweak the shutter speed and aperture on the camera instead of relying on the auto setting. Then maybe our pictures will be better, like

the Traveling Kozy serves as a high-chair substitute while El Niño eats his "peet-ZAH"

here we are with the Oregon Zoo's Cascade Mountain Goat in the background. It hardly ever hangs out where you can see it, so we were happy to get it in the shot, even if it looks more like a ghost than an actual animal.

the Zoo's gift shop has this gigantic, goofy-looking bear that scares the crap out of El Niño. Except that Daddy's almost as big as the bear, so it's ok when he walks up to it.

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ahhhhh, Portlandia!

We had a wonderfully warm & sunny day today, and I just had to go out and take some more pictures before the Traveling Kozy leaves for Alaska tomorrow. One of my favorite spots in Downtown Portland is the Michael Graves-designed Portland Building. Since I can't look at the Statue of Liberty on a regular basis, Portlandia will do. I have a weakness for sculpture, especially outdoor sculpture.

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Monday, April 03, 2006


Ok, pet peeve: when the hell did it become news what the weekend box-office take is/was?

I can honestly say that I couldn't care less which movie beat out which last weekend, or the weekend before, or last year... does anyone else really care, outside the film industry?

The Naked Breast

(where I climb up on my soapbox)

"we've been breastfeeding & bed-sharing for 1 year, 8 months, 3 weeks and 3 days"

This is what one of my tickers says (I'm a freak for tickers and counter boxes but that'll merit its own post soon enough) and, in case you're wondering at the use of the word "we", most people don't realize how much this has been a joint decision, which really bugs me. I don't mean "we" as in the baby and I... this is something Mo and I have discussed, chosen, worked on and adapted ourselves to. I've wanted to write about this subject for a week now because I thought about it a lot when El Niño and I came down with the flu. There must be some huge cosmic vibe that's seeping into others on the internet because it turns out that Dooce, Sweet Juniper and DaddyTypes are also on this parenting-landmine wavelength. I decided not to check any other blogs until I wrote down my thoughts because I didn't want to be responding to someone else's post.

My first son came home from the hospital on a very user-friendly schedule. Maybe this is because he was a preemie and they kept him in the NICU for a week, so by the time I got him home he was programmed. But I don't really think so, I don't think a week would be enough to imprint such a profound, personality-driven behavior in a newborn. I never had problems getting him to sleep ANYwhere, at any time. At three weeks old, he rolled over and I had to move him from the bassinet to his crib, in his own room (across the hall from mine). He did suck his thumb for a few years but I'd seen him do that in every sonogram I'd had, and I'd done it myself when I was little, so I knew it was natural and he'd someday stop. As long as he had his thumb and some blankie or burp-cloth he could use as a lovey -- like Linus from Peanuts -- he was golden. Eventually he stopped wanting a blankie, and his thumb became a thing of the past by age four.

When El Niño was born, I thought things wouldn't be all that different and stocked up on blankets. It didn't take long for me to realize things would be very different this time around: we only slept three hours his first night outside the womb. He would only sleep while next to my breast. I was so confused, I HAD been a baby-parent before... I should be an old pro at this, right? Mo convinced me to try co-sleeping, something I thought I was dead-set against. Because, the baby could suffocate or develop an unhealthy dependence or something!?!?! And THAT was the beginning of the end for me, for what was left of the old me. See, even though I grew up in a fairly "hippie" environment and I've always been one to flout convention, this co-sleeping/bed-sharing thing gave me pause. Yet looking back on it now, I'm SO grateful for it, and for Mo's attitude and support.

My way of doing things has always been to sit and read up on whatever it is, to do research. This is how I wound up moving to Oregon, how I cut out foods from my diet to more than halve the incidence of my migraines, and how I found the church I attend. So, after a few days of "closet" bed-sharing and feeling helpless because my new baby would never be happy unless he was in some way enjoying skin-to-skin contact, I sat at the computer and looked it up, and found information on Attachment Parenting. The hook for me was that it wasn't rule-based, and that we were advised to try to raise our child as if we were on a deserted island, relying on our instincts and love, instead of books and experts and the opinions of everybody and their mother. Huh! That kinda made scary sense to me. I've never liked sleeping alone and have had cats to keep me company in bed most of my life... the feeling of another warm body next to mine has always been a comforting, soothing balm for me. I also had night terrors for years (which El Niño has had too), and as an adult have had to resort many times to using prescription meds to help me sleep. So, why would I believe that my utterly helpless & dependent infant needs less physical comfort than I do for a peaceful night's sleep?

I want to be clear that I don't think this is the right solution for every family, or for every baby. I get very. annoyed. when I tell people that this is what we've found works with THIS baby, and still they insist on conveying their horror and disbelief at our choice. If I thought this would harm my child, I wouldn't do it. If I thought it would harm our marriage, I wouldn't do it. Intimacy is always brought up, as if the only place two people can be intimate is a bed, at night. Puhh-leeze! Our intimacy is great, thank you. It *would* be better if not for the fact that Mo goes to work at 5:30am every day and is exhausted by the time he comes home, and the fact that we don't want to risk another pregnancy right now so we have to be very careful (apparently we're both Über-fertile). But the fact that our child's sleeping in our bed is a non-issue for us.

El Niño's constant need for me also *forced* me to bond with him, and this is a good thing. Looking back, I think I had a mild case of PPD after his birth... we hadn't even been married a year, Mo was working in construction because he'd been laid off, and we were so broke we weren't sure how we'd pay the bills and/or eat... things were really scary for me, for us. Oh, and I was really hoping for a daughter, as shallow as that sounds. If I'd been able to put that baby down and walk away from him, if he'd been as quiet and sleepy as his older brother was, I'm not sure how much warmth and attention he would've gotten. By spending all this time with him, nursing and sleeping together and holding him all the time (thank God for baby carriers and my discovery of them!) I've tapped into a part of me I didn't know existed. I've learned to love, nurture and share in new ways, healthier ways for ME. So has Mo. It's not only made us better parents but better partners.

And my baby sleeps snuggled up against my naked breast.