Friday, December 22, 2006

These Are Days

Exhausted. Crazed. Bi-Polar even.

The last 16 days have flown by, shrouded by a veil of tears, fear, sickness, and a brutal burst of sleep deprivation.

It would be so easy to focus on the negative emotions I'm feeling right now. The baby blues are a bitch anyway, but add the bruising winds of outside forces to the gale, and boy... It can sure seem like God or someone else has pulled the rug out from under you and you're lying ass over elbows up to your neck in the mire.

Now, all that said I just want to say how thankful I am to have such incredible friends right now. We have had meals brought to us every night for the last week by friends from my MOMS Club. My friend Laura came and cleaned my kitchen, vacuumed, folded laundry, and watched the boys while I ran to CVS.

Our friends the Foleys went to the drugstore for more Pepto and Jello in the midst of Brendan's stomach virus this week. They had also offered to have Brendan come over for a playdate with their little boy before he got sick.

My friend Susan has outdone herself with her graciousness. She has taken Brendan to her home for several playdates, taken him to a puppet show, brought us dinner three times, and went to the grocery for me when Brendan first got sick this week. Amazing.

Another friend, Jennifer, also cleaned my kitchen when she brought us dinner. She and Lucy (of the Foleys) also offered to help decorate my Christmas tree when I was in tears because we weren't going to have a tree.

I feel so blessed to have such an amazing group of friends, most of whom I barely knew a year ago.

I wonder, when I look back how I will remember this Christmas, the year my darling baby boy was born. Will it be the worst? The one where my son didn't gain weight and the stresses of life started pulling at the seams of my joy? Or will it be one of the best? The one where friendships were sealed, where love was made stronger by being forged in the flame of a difficult situation?

I wish my crystal ball weren't broken. I wish I knew. Right now, my heart says it's the latter and I simply have to trust my heart.

Friday, December 8, 2006

Welcome to the World!

Beckett Dylan surfed into the world at 2:18 p.m. on Wednesday, December 6. He weighed 7 lbs, 12 oz. (exactly the same size as his big brother) and was 20 inches long.

He's gorgeous, if I do say so myself, and amazing. He's a world of difference from his brother. He has slept a lot so far, although I haven't. I have a weird sort of insomnia where I can't relax when I should.

The labor and delivery were amazingly fast and trouble-free. I went in Wednesday morning for my weekly check and learned that I was leaking fluid and was already at 4 cm dilation. Next thing I know, it's "Go directly to the hospital, do not pass Go, do not collect $200."

I arrived at the hospital at 11:25, at 11:45 they had me hooked up to a Pitocin drip. At first the contractions were very mild, but with every incremental increase in the Pitocin, the contractions became much more intense and by 1:30 when Judith, my midwife, checked me, I was at 6 cm. She told me it would be about two hours until I was ready to deliver, one hour if were lucky.

Just then, the contractions really started to go into overdrive. I was beginning to freak out, but Judith and Scott and our nurse, Missy, just kept telling me how wonderful I was doing. Scott was sitting on the bed behind me, rubbing my shoulders and back while Judith massaged my legs. I kind of started to lose it and could tell I was entering transition when I suddenly felt like I might need to push. I told Judith and she checked me and I was 9 cm. Thirty minutes had passed since she last checked me and I was at 6 cm. They quickly broke the bed down and got me on my back and the fun began.

Roughly four pushes and Beckett came flying into the world. He immediately began grabbing everything he could get his hands on. It took forever for me to deliver the placenta and my midwife had just paged the OB when it decided to come out. So, it seemed like I couldn't hold my darling for an eternity, but it was very cool because they did all the baby exam stuff right in the room instead of taking him to the nursery.

He barely cried and still has only cried two or three times, once when he was hungry and once with a tummy ache.

I love him. Naturally, I do. But, I am just so happy about the way he came into the world and our first few days together. He's nursing like a champ and even though my milk isn't in fully, he's trying hard to help me get it in. It's so different than my first few with Brendan. I just feel far happier and more confident in my abilities.

Really, all I can say is that I'm relieved that he's finally here and happy he's such a wonderful baby two days into the journey.

Monday, December 4, 2006

Beautiful Wreck

Saturday was a great day! Scott, Brendan, and I attended two parties together, a birthday party in the morning and then the MOMS Club Christmas party around dinner time. After that, we brought Brendan home and left him with his favorite babysitter and went to a wonderful grown-up Christmas party at the Tula Galleries. The party was hosted by our friends Mark and Ginny and their friend Melanie and was a benefit for Toys for Tots.

The party was great. It was so nice to put on a pretty dress and heels and feel like a woman, instead of someone's mom. I was shocked and flattered by the number of compliments I received from total strangers. Several people told me I was beautiful and glowing. It was really, really nice. And totally unexpected.

Of course, it would be wonderful if that feeling could last. By yesterday I was back into my spiral of anxiety. I have worried about everything from money (I'm being blown off by my editor at ADL again) to how to care for a newborn to how having a newborn is going to affect my sanity and marriage to Brendan's reaction. It's non-stop. The only time I let go of my negative thinking was while Scott and I watched Prime Suspect 7 and The Wire. Within 15 minutes of starting The Wire, I fell asleep, but woke for the second half of it. But when I got in bed, my mind wouldn't stop. Finally, Scott suggested self-hypnosis and walked me through a relaxation exercise. In minutes I was fast asleep. I used the same technique again when I awoke with ligament pain at 4:00 a.m.

At the moment, I realize there's not a lot I can do about any of this. I have to take everything a day at a time. Maybe even a moment at a time. I'm hoping that all the tears I've shed the last few days can be attributed to a hormonal shift as my body gets ready to deliver this baby. I never felt like this while carrying Brendan but fell apart following his delivery, so hopefully, I'll be happier and more stable following this birth.

If nothing else, I will have to hold it together in order to help Brendan with his transition. Last night he overheard his dad talking to MeMe about the logistics of when she should get here and where she should go, etc. He started freaking out and saying that he didn't want her to come, he wanted to stay with his dad if I wasn't here. He asked me, "Mommy, who is going to protect me?"

It just killed me. All I could do was hold him and cry silently. After holding him and thinking he was okay, I stood up to go cook supper and he started wailing and sobbing, clinging at me. Again, I just held him and walked around with him. It took around 20 minutes for him to settle down. I just feel awful for doing this to him.

I know he'll get over it and in the end he'll be so blessed to have a brother. But as a mother, it breaks my heart to see him so scared and upset. And I know exactly how he feels.

Scott gave me some wonderful advice. He reminded me of how his first few days at his new job were really difficult for him. He reminded me that he couldn't eat and had to throw up because he was so upset that he wouldn't have as much time to spend with Brendan. He thinks that I'm going through the same thing and reminded me that although he was right, it has worked out. He makes the most of the time he does have with Brendan and Brendan seems happier and closer to his dad than ever.

So, I guess our weekend -- like the rest of life -- was filled with joy and sadness. Ultimately, it's all good. Simply life, rich and full.

Sunday, December 3, 2006

My Angel

I was told at my midwife appointment last Wednesday that if I haven't gone into labor on my own by the following Wednesday they will strip my membranes. Sounds like fun stuff. Given that warning, we've been trying to kick start labor ourselves the last few days. I've eaten more than my share of Thai curry, Mexican, and egglpant. We've walked. I've drunk raspberry leaf tea. And still nothing so far. Yet, we know that it will be relatively soon and I think Brendan knows, too, though we haven't been real specific with him.

It seems like ever since that appointment, Brendan has been on a crusade to be as cute as possible. Sadly, I can't even remember half the funny, wise, and profound things that have slipped off his tongue. But there have been several things.

Yesterday, as we were driving home from his friend Lyle's birthday party, Brendan says from the backseat, "It's wonderful to relax in the sun with a lollipop."

This morning in the kitchen he asked me if Mao, our orange tabby cat was a girl. Of course, he knows that Mao is a boy cat, but said he wished Mao were a girl because as he put it, "Mommy, you need a girl you can talk to and we're all boys." It was all I could do not to cry. I've never said anything to him about that, but it was so sensitive and perceptive of him. I have been feeling a very strong need for someone I can talk to about something specific, and obviously a baby daughter would not be what I need at all, but strange that he chose that turn of phrase.

I'm sure he's feeling some anxiety on part of me and Scott and knows something is going to happen soon. He has told us he loves us repeatedly (and happily), but has also asked us if we love him, which gives me pause. Still, he seems pretty happy and has been very well-behaved lately, aside from refusing to apologize to his dad for throwing something at him when he was angry one night. That aside, he has been behaving very well and has just been so easy the last week or so.

It has been enough to make me think it might not be so hard. I imagine I'm kidding myself. I remember how hard it was with just a single newborn. Mostly because I felt so isolated and jealous of my husband for getting to go out into the real world. I remember how much I hated my body for not doing what I wanted it to do...for not producing the milk needed to sustain my baby...for not shedding the weight I put on while pregnant. I imagine that feeling of jealousy will be exacerbated this time and my depression deeper, though I hope not. I'm afraid of not having any time to exercise or the wherewithal to prepare healthy foods for myself and family. I know what grand ambitions I had last time and they all fell through as I fell into a spiral of hopelessness. This time I have no such grand plans. I just want to survive and thrive.

I hope I can just focus on my new baby boy and his darling big brother and get through.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Home is Where the Heart Is

It occured to me today -- as it does every so often -- that I have lived in Atlanta for as long as I lived in the small Tennessee town where I grew up. It brought me to the question of where is home? I used to think of Nashville as my home, but I haven't lived there since I was 18. The longest period I lived in Tennessee since leaving for college was for one three-month semester break in 1989. When I went back there for my mother's funeral in 2001, I felt like the proverbial stranger in a strange land. All that was left for me there were memories, some good, some bad, but nothing tangible I could hold on to or ever think about going home to again.

Here, in Atlanta, I have a life that I built for myself and in conjunction with a wonderful partner. We have created our own traditions, and now that we have a child (and another to be here any time now), we continue to find ourselves creating new ones all the time.

I can't really think of any traditions my family established when I was a child. Isn't that weird? And sad?

But the things we're doing, the rituals we're claiming as our own are so special and exciting to me that they more than make up for anything I was lacking. And really, they're little things that I never even thought of as becoming traditions.... Going to the same Christmas tree lot where kids from our neighborhood work and picking out our tree each year; going to Rich's (Macy's) Lenox Mall and riding the Pink Pig before Christmas; spending every Christmas Eve with our family, going to Mass, then coming home to stay up all night putting presents together and out under the tree.

They're small things. But things that I hope will help create a foundation of love and meaning in our children's lives, and in our own.

I look forward to learning what new traditions we'll create. What our boys will come up with on their own as the years pass. Which they will embrace and which will fade out over time.

Home is where the heart is. My heart is here, in Atlanta, Georgia, with Scott, Brendan, and Beckett, where it was always meant to be.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Thanks for the Pepperoni

I had aspirations of putting into words everything I am grateful for in my life on Thanksgiving morning. Somehow, between everyone in our house having terrible colds and getting ready to go to our friends' house for dinner and having out of town guests, I never got around to it. But, I think any time is the right time to count your blessings. Especially when you feel like crap and need a pick me up.

First and foremost, I am grateful to be alive. To have a wonderful family and good friends. I am thankful that friends we have known only a short time cared enough about us to invite us into their home for Thanksgiving when we couldn't travel. I am thankful that I have a smart, sweet, beautiful little boy who tries hard to be good while also trying my patience and helping me grow every day. I am thankful and excited that I can give my son a brother and that soon I will have a second darling little boy to nurture and love.

I am grateful that Scott has a new job he loves and feels passionate and inspired about life again. I am grateful he's making some amazing music and making music a priority. I am grateful that I am married to such a loving, thoughtful, interesting man who is also a fun, tender, loving dad to our kid(s).

I am thankful that Brendan is recovering from his cough and cold despite fighting me every single time I try to give him his inhaler. I am thankful that he has friends and is learning and growing every day.

I am very grateful that we found Cooper, our dog, after he ran away yesterday. I am grateful he is still healthy and relatively happy at 10 years old. And I am grateful our little orange cat has decided he loves Brendan and sleeps with him at night.

And I am thankful, of course, for the hundreds of things we take for granted every day. Food on the table. A roof over our heads. Clothes on our back. Warmth. Safety. Healthcare. Health. A chance to serve others in some way. live, to be, to be a woman who has choices in life, to read what I want, be what I want, to associate with whomever I choose, when I choose.

Life is good. Even when your head feels like it might explode and all you want to do is go back to sleep.

Friday, November 17, 2006

9 Crimes

The new Damien Rice single, 9 Crimes, slays me.

I want to fall into the floor, a puddle of sobs and heartbreak.

It really hits home right now for a long list of reasons I can't explain or don't want to. It's ninety-nine percent irrational of me to feel this way. But I can't stop myself.

I've heard this song at least 10 times since I first heard it on Conan last week, but every time, I still find myself in tears.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Don't Be an Idiot: Get Your Kids Immunized

Okay. I will be the first to admit that I don't trust pharmaceutical companies or the government to have the best interests of mankind at heart. That said, there are reasons that most of us don't spend our summers indoors hiding from one another anymore and why our infant mortality rate has declined and why killer diseases like smallpox have all but been eradicated. One of those reasons is vaccines.

I'm not a fan of all the combined vaccines or giving 2-month old babies four shots at the same time in the same leg or of giving a newborn baby a vaccine for a sexually contracted disease. However, I think there are better ways to look after your child's well-being than not having your child immunized at all. I did ask our pediatrician to delay the Hep-B vaccine and to only give my child one or two vaccinations at a time. I even looked into having him break-up the MMR into three separate shots. I understand looking at the system and routine practices with caution.

I do not understand putting your child's life and THE LIVES OF OTHERS at risk by not immunizing your children. It's utterly irresponsible and a way of saying to society at large, fuck you!

I am pissed right now because there's a 3-month old little girl lying in a hospital bed in Montgomery, Alabama right now, struggling for every breath because some idiot probably didn't have their child immunized. against pertussis. Or because some adult who has been around her, like 99% of the rest of us, has not had an adult booster for whooping cough because no one ever thought we'd need one. Why? Because the disease should have been eradicated by now.

I am also pissed because my mother-in-law, who is supposed to come help us look after Brendan when I have the new baby sometime between now and the next three weeks or so, held that little girl just five days ago. Right before she was diagnosed with whooping cough. Her parents thought she had a cold. She wouldn't stop crying and my kind mother-in-law who has mad baby whispering powers held her to help the poor mother out. Well, now if I go into labor, my mother-in-law can't come over here.

The incubation period for pertussis is anywhere from 7-21 days. We can go almost all the way up to my due date before we know for sure if our MeMe contracted it. My hope is that her doctor can and will start her on a prophylactic course of antibiotics when she goes to see him today. Still, it will be in the back of my mind when she comes here. All because of the story I read about a year ago of a woman who was exposed to whooping cough while pregnant and gave it to her newborn when he was born. He lived less than three weeks as a result.

Damn it, People! It's not like these diseases don't exist anymore just because we have the relative fortune of low rates of them in the U.S. Have you failed to notice the number of immigrants and illegals coming into our country every day? Do you think Guatemala has a really awesome healthcare system for migrant workers and is immunizing all its residents against every communicable disease?

If you don't immunize your kids, you are putting my child's life in danger. Or my life. Or my elderly grandmother's life. You don't have that right. I don't care how many piles of paper printed off the fucking Internet you have that show some correlation between the MMR vaccine, thimerosol (which, by the way is not used anymore except in a very few instances), and the rise of autism. I can print an equal number of pieces of paper showing that researches think there is a genetic connection. Signs of autism are apparent as early as three months if you know what to look for and that's long before your child has received most of his or her vaccinations.

I understand your desire to protect your child. But you can't just pick and choose what you're protecting them from, a brain disorder (that really you have very little control over) or a communicable disease that you can do something about.

Just, please, don't be an idiot. Sure, think about. Ask your doc to space the shots and not give more than one or two at the same time so you can figure out what may have caused a specific reaction. But don't just let your children run loose without being immunized. Then, you're putting all of our lives in danger.

Monday, October 23, 2006

My Evil Twin

Okay. So, I'm just going to chalk my last insanity-laden post up to pregnancy hormones and the fact that I was coming down with a cold. And lack of sleep.

I don't want anyone thinking I would actually leave my husband and child. God knows I love them more than anything and life without them would truly be meaningless for me. This is what I've always wanted.

I just feel overwhelmed. And confused because I need to integrate the mommy-me with the other parts of me. And I"m not always very good at that. Other times, it feels seamless.

Brendan had been sleeping like a champ, but with a cold of his own and a couple of naps thrown in, his great sleeping pattern went to hell in a handbasket last week. There were at least two nights toward the end of last week where I only garnered four or five hours of sleep in between getting up with him, trying to sleep in his bed, and getting up to pee every couple of hours.

Getting a sitter Saturday night and going out to dinner with friends and not talking about our kids did help. A lot. So did sleeping until 9:00 a.m. on Saturday morning. Brendan actually woke us up at 7:00 as usual, but was happy to let me put PBS kids on the tv in our room and watch that and play in his room until I was ready to get up. Yesterday, I felt horrible, though, and ended up taking a two-hour nap while Brendan napped and Scott walked Cooper and watched the Falcons game.

Actually realizng that I was sick, running a fever, and then having Scott take such wonderful care of me and Brendan yesterday, made a huge difference. Just knowing that there's a reason why I've felt so blah lets me know that this too shall pass.

So, though I still physically feel like crap, mentally, things are a little better. I've made a list of all I need to do before Deuce arrives, i.e. in the next 4-7 weeks. I've checked one off the list already today. I enjoyed an evening with my husband and friends and have hired a sitter for next weekend so we can enjoy dinner and a movie. I spoke with the client who owes me money and found out she has mailed my check. I'm working with Scott on some logo designs. And then, I read this, which really gives me hope. Hope that one day Scott and I will have the freedom to travel together, alone, with our kids, or with other friends and their families. In fact, I forgot that we've already talked with one of our best friends about renting a house with him and his family for a week next summer, either at the beach or in the mountains.

I really think I've been anticipating the sense of isolation I felt after Brendan was born and forgetting that it doesn't have to be that way this time. Babyhood is brief and as Scott and I discovered going to the beach with Brendan this summer, even travel with the kids is better than going nowhere. Plus, it's an opportunity to see the world through their unusual point of view.

What a difference a little sleep and someone else's perspective can make.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Endless Numbered Days

Midlife crisis? Identity crisis? Pregnancy? Just being me?

I feel like I'm being tossed about in a whirlpool of conflicting thoughts, desires, and choices. Though in reality, the choices really are limited by my own fear and inertia and compulsion to do the right thing. Or at least what I think is the right thing.

I really thought that being a wife and stay-at-home mom was my destiny, at least for some period of my life. But it really isn't turning out to be my forte. I mean, I thought I'd love this and be very good at it. However, in all honesty, I just can't quite get it together.

I really don't enjoy playing. When I do sit down to play with my son, I have trouble being in the moment. I'm thinking about the twenty other things I need to do.

I hate what pregnancy and childbirth did to my body.

I hate having such limited time for myself and my husband.

I hate that my husband and I will never get to go on a trip alone again.

I am very jealous of my friends who have parents who keep their children for them so they can get away once in a while.

I am angry that my mother-in-law keeps my brother-in-law's kids for a whole week twice a year while they go on vacation, but has never once kept our son overnight even when we have asked her to.

I hate that my brain feels like mush much of the time and even when I do get to be around other adults, they're usually women who want to talk about their kids.

I hate that I have no male friends with whom I get to interact on a regular basis.

I want to run away. And I feel terribly guilty for feeling that way.

I feel horrible and selfish for feeling the way I do because I know how incredibly lucky I am.

I love my husband and son(s) more than life itself. It feels like a betrayal of them to have these feelings.

I feel like I don't really know who I am, what I want from life, or how to figure it all out.

I worry that it's too late. A lot.

I want to take control of my life and change, but I can't quite figure out how.

If anyone knows the answers, I welcome your input.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Like School on Saturday

I finally talked to Scott's stepmother. It's only been five months since she threw Brendan and me out of her house.

She called to say that she really cares about us and feels bad that she let things go so long without us talking. She never apologized for her behavior. She never apologized for criticizing my child or my parenting. It was awkward. But, I bit my tongue.

Scott and his dad have actually talked a few times in the last month and his dad has been very gracious and supportive about Scott's music. I see that their relationship is moving forward and I am willing to bite my tongue and do what I need to do to have a relationship with the stepmother so that Scott can have a relationship with his dad.

Of course, I'm worried about my children. I would love for them to have a wonderful and loving relationship with their grandparents, especially since I have no parents to bring to the table, as it were. I simply don't know if that will ever be possible with Scott's stepmother. Until this summer, I thought it was. But my trust with her has been corrupted.

And it doesn't help matters that she has zero tact. She has repeatedly made comments about my mother's alcoholism. My mother was practically a tea-totaller. I think I saw her drink twice in my life. She had many problems, but alcoholism was not one of them.

Her other favorite topic is my weight. I'm not really that big, though I am considerably larger than my stepmother-in-law. She literally weighs about 98 lbs. and is probably 5'5" or so. Skeletal comes to mind as the perfect description of her.

Naturally, she asked me during our conversation yesterday if I was as big as you got with Brendan. Wow! What composure it took not to hang up. I did choke on shocked laughter before I could answer her. Who asks a question like that?

I don't know what to do. I don't want to have to deal with this woman, but really, what choice do I have? I don't want to be the bitch who comes between a man and his dad. But, I don't know how long I can keep my feelings inside.

Maybe it's hormones, but today has been hellish and I feel like talking to Julie just opened up an emotional floodgate that I didn't need right now. But, hey! Here I am. I'll just have to wake up and hope tomorrow is a better day.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Only the Lonely

As an only child, I continue grappling with the idea of being the parent to the point that I fear my own biases will get in the way of my love for and treatment of these two boys.

My love for Brendan is so deep and beyond comprehension or description, that I can't get my mind around loving yet another human as much. Everyone I talk to and everything I read uses the same cliched verse, saying, your heart just expands to make room or the capacity to love is infinite.

And I'm sure it is. But that doesn't change the fact that Brendan will never again get the same level of attention and affection and doting on that he gets now. And our new little guy will never know the kind of one-on-one attention and devotion that Brendan has received. He'll always get the short-end of the stick...from a lack of intense one-on-one love and attention to hand-me-down clothes and toys to always having to share everything and never having anything that is just his. It just doesn't seem fair.

I know there has to be an upside. I know that when my mom died I craved having someone to share it with who was deeply and intrinsically part of me to go through it with. In a situation like that, I feel like friends and other relatives can only understand so much. So, in that case it would have been nice to have a sibling to share with. And I know that, in theory, they can be great friends with a common history that will bind them forever.

But that said, I know so many siblings who don't get along. There's jealousy and competitiveness and grudges over little things that happened when they were kids. As married adults, there are in-laws that don't get along with the siblings and vice versa resulting in bitter disputes between the siblings. And it all just seems horrible to me.

Why exactly did I want to put my son(s) through this? How is it that I can avoid these things? How can I teach them to love, respect, and value one another? Will the four-year (almost) age gap be an advantage or disadvantage in lessening sibling rivalry and fostering a close relationship? Will Brendan forgive me? Will our new baby even know the difference?

I suppose we'll find out soon enough.

Monday, October 9, 2006


The last few weeks have flown by and life has left me little time to slow down and write. I can't remember when I last wrote here, but I know that in the time since I did, I have written four stories for Atlanta Dog Life, hosted a dinner party, painted the baby's room and set up the furniture in there, washed a ton of baby clothes, been sick at least twice, cared for a sick litle boy twice, and a sick husband once, had my mother-in-law visit, and thought I was going into preterm labor at least twice.

I've been a busy girl.

But here I am. Tired, oh so tired. Ginormous, though I have only gained around 25 lbs. so far (yay me!), and nervous.

I still have so much to do. I've just had my nose down focused on all the things I've been doing lately. The highlight of these activities was the tapas party Scott and I hosted for our neighborhood dinner club last week. It was so much fun. I really think everyone had a wonderful time, and I loved getting ready for it. We had such wonderful food. I made Duck Maduros, Mini-hamburgers with caramelized onions and smoked gouda, and had a Spanish cheese tray with three kinds of Spanish cheese and quince jelly, with Spanish olives. Our friends brought Greek meatballs and potatoes, a wonderful salad, oyster casserole, chicken satay and a delicious bruschetta, and Nigella Lawson's delicious chocolate pots.

The food was divine and we ended up having a great time with our friends. The next day, however, I was miserable. I could barely walk, I was having ligament pain and contractions. Not so good. By Sunday, I was much better.

But now that we've completed that obligation, and had a nice visit with my mother-in-law, I have to get serious about finishing the baby's room, packing my bag, and thinking about having this baby.

And I'm not sure I'm quite ready for that.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Riding on the Sunset Road

I love meeting cool people. I love meeting people who inspire me. And I love dog people. Today, I met someone who seems to be all three. Okay...well, I didn't actually meet him. I interviewed him over the phone for ADL today. His dog Brandy is a mold detection dog and I interviewed them for my working dogs column.

Anyway, Bob, the guy I interviewed, is a huge supporter of music and musicians. His brother is an organizer of the High Sierra Music Festival in California and he has worked the festival for several years. The High Sierra group formed a foundation to help fund local arts organizations and local groups that provide aid, not only to musicians, but to a diverse range of those in need. They're doing great work and now they're raising funds to help musicians and their families who were displaced by Katrina.

Bob and Brandy, his chocolate lab, are going to undertake a cross-country ride, from Georgia to San Francisco, in order to raise money for the High Sierra Foundation. They need 50,000 to donate $5 each in order to raise the $250,000 Bob has set as his goal.

If you want to read more about Bob, Brandy, or the ride, you can visit his web site here.

I just think it's a cool thing to do and thought I'd share.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Ode to Joy

After feeling really blue all day Monday and Tuesday -- whether from pregnancy hormones, 9/11, or what, I don't know -- I awoke Wednesday feeling...happy! A total and welcomed surprise. Brendan, too, awoke in a fabulous mood, full of good humour.

Before he awoke, however, I spent some time browsing on-line for writing jobs. I'm still doing my gig with Atlanta Dog Life, but I need more work. I did write October's cover story on Uga, the University of Georgia mascot as well as two brief articles on agility dog training and Frisbee dog training. But I need more! More writing, more money, a greater sense of self-worth.

So...anyway...I found an ad on craigslist for a writing job with this group. The concept of the organization blew me away. And when I read the web site, which I did in depth, I felt a little overwhelmed by a renewed sense of purpose and joy. I can't really explain it, except to say that when I read about what they do, I really thought this is where I belong.

Crazy. I know. But I sent my resume and some writing samples along with the requested sample paragraph describing what their organization does. I thought that it would be like most of the other ads I've responded to in the last year where it takes several weeks before anyone gets back to you. Within a few hours, however, I had heard back from the founder of the organization, who by the way, sounds like a really cool woman.

Her e-maibeganin with the word namaste, which means (in case you've never heard it before) the god in me salutes the god in you. It's a lovely greeting that I have never been able to bring myself to use because I feel a little pretentious saying it. But I love it when others use it.

Anyway, she sent me a delightful e-mail asking me to tell her about my spirit, about what makes my heart sing. She asked me what I would do if I could do anything in the world. It's exactly the kind of interview process I've been dreaming of my whole life. I'm not sure I answered with the answers she would have wanted to hear, but I think I answered very honestly.

For some reason, I feel that the sense of joy with which I awoke that day had a part in my finding that ad. I don't know why, but I feel very confident about this. Oddly so. It may not work out at all. I'm sure a thousand other writers have applied for this same job. But I'm okay even if I don't get it because I had a brief, but meaningful encounter with another human being. One who, by all accounts, is a genuinely loving and wonderful person.

I'm having difficulty articulating it, because it seems strange to me, but something has changed within me, and relates directly to discovering this organization and seeing the good they want to do in the world, and feeling like I have the power within me to do good in the world, even if it's just in making life better for the people I touch every day. That may be enough. It's the kind of thing that if everyone did it, the world would automatically become a better, more connected place.

Monday, September 11, 2006

100 Years

I remember being a kid and hearing my grandmother and mom and other friends and relatives telling stories about where they were when they heard President Kennedy had been shot. I remember my grandmother saying that moments before the news came over the radio, she heard a loud cracking sound and looked out the kitchen window to see a very large branch fall from a tree near the house. She always saw it as an omen.

September 11 has become that day that will live in my memory forever, a miscarriage my harbinger of the evil in this world.

Five years later, every moment of that day is as vivid in my mind as if it happened yesterday. Sometimes I wish it weren't. Sometimes I wish that I didn't feel the emotional pain of that day still lingering on in my heart. Other days I simply accept that like the scar on our nation, I will always carry this tender scar on my heart, on my soul.

I spent much of September 11 in the hospital, having a D & C and recovering. Before I went into surgery, Scott and I sat in the waiting room, glued to the TV, terrified of what was happening, wondering how much worse it could get. When I awoke following the surgery, I couldn't stop crying. In the days to come, I lay in bed, immobilized by sorrow. The pain and guilt I felt over losing my baby seemed trivial examined next to devastation of the World Trade Center and the greater loss of life. Still, I needed to mourn my loss, my baby girl that I would never know.

Those first few days after it happened are all a blur. I just remember lying in bed with Scott, both of us crying silently, watching CNN constantly, and reading about miscarriage, trying to figure out how I could have prevented it.

In many ways though, I wondered if it was a sign from God that we were entering a dangerous time and that it was too dangerous a world to bring any more children into. I wondered if it were somehow a blessing in disguise.

In the months that followed, we began to talk of trying again to conceive another child. I wasn't sure if it was the right thing to do, still afraid of this new and terrifying world. But Scott said one day that having a child is the greatest act of hope anyone can perform in this world. For me, it was a turning point. By May, on a trip to New York City, we conceived Brendan. Finally, I felt hopeful and happy again.

And today, five years after the whole world changed forever, I have another darling baby boy growing within me. As I sit here writing, feeling him shifting and stretching, I am again filled with hope. I remain in awe that the families whose lives were devastated on 9/11 found the strength and courage to go on. But when I look into the smiling face of my three-year old boy and I think about holding the new little person growing inside, I know why. Hope can be buried within our hearts beneath all the burdens this world throws at it. But ultimately, it cannot be destroyed.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Trouble Me. Or Don't. But Don't Bitch about the Advice I Give You.

Have you ever had a friend who asked for your advice? Repeatedly? Not just your advice, but even asked you for specific information that is readily available from books, TV, magazines, or the Internet? And, when you've given the person the advice he or she asked for, had them freak out and say you're overwhelming them?

I just had this experience and it really chapped my hide. I am pissed.

My friend is newly pregnant and began inundating me with questions regarding pregnancy the day she learned she was pregnant. I mean, she called me to ask what two lines on the pregnancy test meant and has asked me everything from whether it's okay for her to have sex with her husband to whether or not she should stick with her OB/GYN or find another.

What the hell? How should I know?

I am happy to help her and excited for her, but she was driving me nuts. In a series of e-mails, I told her some basics and in each case sent links to web sites and the names of books where she could go do her own research.

So after several days of this, she sends me an e-mail yesterday telling me in the bitchiest way possible that I am simply overwhelming her with information and asking her to make decisions she's not ready to make yet.

Excuse me? She's the one who asked for the information. She's the one who acts as if she's never met a pregnant person and doesn't know her ass from a hole in the ground. I offered her resources where she could do her own research at her own leisure, but she kept coming back to me asking the same questions and more. So, I thought I was giving her what she wanted.


Lack of gratitude really frustrates me and there's no quicker way to get me to turn against you.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Lord Protect My Child

Forgive me if I'm repeating myself, but why, why is it so difficult to parent and feel confident that you're making the right decision?

I am almost 100% certain that neither my mother nor my grandmother ever weighed any decision they ever made regarding discipline. They didn't think about what they were feeding me, although I'm certain they gave a lot of thought to whether or not they would be able to put food on the table at times. They never questioned whether or not they were playing with me enough or providing me with essential experiences to make me more well-rounded or to enhance my intellectual opportunities. They didn't send me to preschool, so they never worried whether or not it was a good enough school to ensure I could go to kindergarten when I turned five. They just did what they did and that was it. I had a roof over my head, food in my belly, and clothes on my back, and books to read. And that was enough.

I'm not being critical here. They did the best they knew how under the circumstances and they did just what 90% of all parents in their generation(s) were doing.

Why have things gotten so complicated and we parents so competitive? I worry about every little thing and feel I get little of it right.

I love my son so much. But this summer has been so hard. He's just at an age where he wants to be his own person and challenge every thing I do or say. I feel as if we have spent our summer with horns locked, neither of us willing to back down. And instead of pushing back harder, my urge is to back away. I know my mother never thought like that and by the time I was my son's age, I knew not to argue or to sass my mom. I knew "the look" that meant I needed to stop whatever I was doing or else I was in for it. Part of me feels like giving him some freedom now will help him to become more independent and better able to make decisions for himself. (Something I have always been terrified of and horrible at.) The other, more rational and less emotional side of me feels as though I have to whip (figuratively speaking) him into shape before it's too late. I don't want my child to be a brat. And when I have pushed back this summer, we have seen some amazing breakthroughs.

We can now go into Target or ToysRUs without his asking for a toy. He is listening better most days. He is sleeping better, relatively speaking. He is sharing better with other kids and seems generally happier when he is playing with other kids.

He still doesn't eat and the things he does eat, he has suddenly decided that he no longer cares for. He still talks back. He still won't talk to adults in stores. He still has major meltdowns in the doctor's office, to the point I fear they will tell me not to bring him back. He is still bossy, though less so than a few weeks ago. He still is not potty-trained, but I hope we're getting closer.

And me? I still feel horrible for not having the perfect child. For not being able to overcome these shortcomings. For having my son tell me that he's mad because I'm mad at him all the time. For failing to believe in myself and feeling that my child is not perfect.

But you know what? He is perfect. He's perfect for me and I am the perfect mother for him. I simply have to remember that God gave him to me for a reason and me to him for a reason. We have something to teach each other, to learn from each other. All I need to do is try and remember to trust God and to ask for his guidance when I need it.

Easier said than done for a stubborn girl like me who just wants a little more control over her own life.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Gotta Serve Somebody

It never ceases to amaze me when someone says something like "But you don't seem religious; you're so intelligent."

Why is it that intellectuals -- particularly those who don't wish to have anyone else's faith pressed upon themselves -- are so quick to deny others their faith? It really boggles the mind.

We had this experience on Saturday night when we went out to dinner with some new friends. Wonderful people that we are delighted and excited to know. In so many ways, they are more like us than anyone else we've met in years. We are so excited to be getting to know these folks. But, that said, now I feel a shadow cast over my enthusiasm.

They didn't say this, but my perception is that they think that because I have faith in God, practice a religion, and believe in something bigger than myself, that I am somehow, intellectually inferior.

I didn't want to argue the point, but I was mentally making a list of people of faith and great intellect. Just off the top of my head I can think of: Albert Einstein, Thomas Merton, C.S. Lewis, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Walker Percy, Dorothy Day, John Newman, Graham Greene. Of course, there are a lot of Catholics on that list because, well, I'm Catholic, and they're probably the ones I know the most about.

Clearly, I don't put myself in league with those people. But I'm no idiot. And I certainly don't think that my faith lessens my ability to think. I came to my faith through a great deal of thought. As is true with many Catholic converts, I thought my way into my faith and into the Church. There were a lot of obstacles to overcome, many things I disagree with. But no other faith spoke to both my heart and my mind the way Catholicism did. The belief in the unity of good works and faith drew me to Catholicism perhaps more than any other facet of the faith. And now here I am. Unwilling to accept the notion that intelligence and faith are mutually exclusive ideals.

Thankfully, everyone involved Saturday night was willing to have an open dialogue on the subject and to accept each others' beliefs.

And that alone was enough to maintain my faith in friendship.

Thursday, August 10, 2006


Have you ever said something, only to have your brain scream at your tongue, "You idiot, what are you saying?", as the words come tumbling out head over heels landing in front of someone you care about, where they lay dying in a painful, awkward silence?

Yeah. Me too.

Last night, in one of those fortuitous moments of pregnancy-induced insecurity and insanity, I said something really stupid to Scott. Sadly, he felt the need to throw me a few very specific comforting crumbs this morning.

I felt like an idiot. I hate it when my insecurity comes to the surface in a way that makes someone I love feel like they have to justify themselves or reassure me in some way.

I'm an idiot.

Hopefully, this, too, shall pass.

Out of the Mouths of Babes

So, last night Scott, Brendan, and I are watching The Simpsons after dinner. Homer, disgruntled about something, says, "Damn It!"

Brendan whirls around, looks at me and says, "Mommy, Homer says 'Dammit' just like you do!"

After we stopped laughing, Scott and I reiterated the point that "Dammit" is a bad word and you shouldn't say it. I also apologized for having said it in front of him, but for the life of me, I can't remember when I did say it in front of him. I have been very careful to clean up my act since I had him. From time to time, these things do pop out, I suppose, but I just really can't remember when I said that with him around.

And yes, I do realize that The Simpsons isn't the most wholesome programming for a three-year old or anyone for that matter. It's not like he watches it all the time, but when he does, he really enjoys it.

Sunday, August 6, 2006

Just Like a Woman

Hormones, hormons, hormones. I am sick and freakin' tired of hormones.

Of course, hormones are my excuse. Maybe I'm just a bitch. Either way, I am sick of feeling this way. Crying every 15 minutes. Feeling like I am constantly fighting with my child. Feeling guilty for fighting with him. Being angry at my child because of his behavior. Feeling guilty because I'm angry and guilty because somehow I've made him this way. Second-guessing every parenting decision I make. Feeling utterly useless and unable to feel like I am in control.

At this point, I really don't know if it's him or it's me. My perception is that he's defiant. He talks back. He argues. He doesn't eat. He demands a lot of me. Too much. He won't dress himself. He won't use the potty. Every fucking thing is a power struggle with this kid. And as much as I love him, I am sick of it. And I keep asking myself how we got here. I've always tried to encourage his independence and he does play well by himself. But at every other turn, he wants me to do something for him.

And then, I think, well, it's my job to do things for my kid. But it's also my job to teach him how to grow up. To do things for himself.

I just feel like I'm in a pit and I can't climb out. And to make it all more confusing and/or emotional for me, I've been having really bizarre dreams.

Early Thursday morning, around 4:00 a.m., I awoke from a very scary dream. In the dream, a DeKalb Co. Police car was parked in front of my house and it was obvious the cop was watching someone. I was home alone. Scott and Brendan had gone somewhere overnight. I decided to go set the alarm. Just as I was setting the alarm, our kitchen door opened. I had my hand on the alarm and accidentally pushed the button that calls police directly. Within seconds, the police officer was at my door. He was young, friendly, African-American. The person coming in the kitchen door turned out to be Scott with a sleeping Brendan on his shoulder.

The officer told us there had been some burglaries and home invasions in our neighborhood and he was trying to catch the burglars.

Okay. Here's the freaky part. When I awoke for the day at around 7:00 a.m. and read the paper on-line, I saw there had been a home invasion at the home of a DeKalb Co. Police officer just a mile or so from our house. The officer killed one of the three men who broke into his home. This happened at 2:30 a.m. Just before I had my dream. Freaky.

In addition to that dream, for the last three nights in a row, I have dreamed I was a teenage girl. Each dream involved either a boyfriend or a cute boy that I was interested in. Each dream was in a different location with different "co-stars" and different subjects. I haven't a clue what it means unless it's a series of wish fulfillment dreams. I wish I were young and unencumbered by the tedious and frustrating aspects of my life. The thing is, I hated being a teenager and couldn't wait to grow up. Of course, in these dreams, my life is very different than my real life was, so I guess that makes it a double wish fulfillment dream.

Right now I'd take a kid who listens, cooperates, and doesn't say, "But I was just...."!

Tuesday, August 1, 2006

Sweet Dreams

Perhaps last night's dream was prophetic. Or perhaps my subconscious was just focused on what I would be doing with myself tonight.

Scott has gone with some friends to see Tom Waits at the Tabernacle. I'm on my own for the night and while I'm sure there are a million things I could and should be doing, I'm just vegging out. I've watched reruns of House and Bones and am debating whether to watch Rescue Me while it's on, or just record it and watch it with Scott when he gets home. Actually, it 's more likely to be tomorrow night before we watch it.

All in all, it's been a good, quiet evening, which I needed.

The last several days Brendan has really been pushing the limits. Yesterday he had the worst tantrum in recorded history in the grocery store. In hind sight, I realized he was tired when we went to the store. But I didn't know that going in. He had slept until 10 a.m. and we had a relatively low-key morning. We went to Chick-fil-A for lunch then to grocery shop. He lost it because I wouldn't buy him a Spider-Man comic book. In all fairness, before the tantrum, I offered to buy a kid's Spider-Man book, but he freaked out insisting it had to be the comic book. So, we left amidst much screaming, giant tears, staring, and rude comments from other patrons.

He screamed for the first seven minutes of the ten minute drive home. The last three minutes, he simply whispered sadly, "I want it! Please mommy, I want it!".

I really don't know how I did it since I'm the least patient mommy in the world, but I somehow managed to keep my cool. The only time I raised my voice was once during the car ride home when I asked him to quiet down. Thankfully, I did not use my "angry voice," but stayed calm. A first for me.

Today was a pretty good day. Brendan behaved really well and I used a new technique I read about this morning. The idea is that instead of simply praising the child for good behavior, you give them very specific praise. So, I tried that. I also made sure that we played and had ample time together. I made sure I gave him lots of choices where I could, so that there were fewer opportunities to say no or have him feel like he had no control over anything.

All in all it seemed to make a difference. His playdate went well and he was in bed, sound asleep by 8:15. That's a rarity these days. Somehow we got through the day with only one meltdown and that, I know, was a direct result of his being tired. Thankfully, he bounced back from it rather quickly and I never lost my cool. Major accomplishments for mother and son!

A Taste of Two Sons

Brendan has a friend over for a playdate right now. He's a boy we know from our playgroup and the two of them have always had an interesting relationship. They really like each other until one of them has something the other one wants to play with, then all hell breaks loose.

On more than one occasion, they have ended up on the floor, wrestling over a toy, with one sitting on top of the other.

We're about an hour and a half into this playdate (at our house) and I've realized an hour seems to be their limit together. For the last 30 minutes, I've been getting up every 5 minutes or so to go resolve some dispute.

Right now, however, they are being very cute. The friend is playing Brendan's toy guitar, Brendan is playing his toy piano, and they're taking turns on the drum, pretending they are a band. Very funny. And noisy. But so much better than screaming.

All I Have to Do Is Dream

Last night I dreamed I made several posts to my blog in one day. They were all witty, timely, and deeply profound comments on life. I was oh-so-pleased with myself.

If only life were the stuff of dreams.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Sounds of loneliness

I'm not sure what it is, what has led to this, but over the course of the last two weeks, I have encountered more anti-child and anti-parent propaganda than I've ever seen before in my life.

From the column linked above wherein the author, Helen Kirwan-Taylor, readily admits that she has no interest in her children, to this Atlanta-Journal Constitution blog, where the author gets attacked for stating that most parents are really trying to do their best, the anti-kid lobby really seems to be pushing its point.

I understand that having kids isn't for everyone, but I think that just because you choose not to have kids doesn't give you the right to belittle anyone who does choose to have kids or anyone who views child-rearing as important to our society.

Helen Kirwan-Taylor's piece is especially obnoxious. As Scott said upon reading the article, "This woman has no soul." Amen, Brother.

She talks about her children as if they were accessories that she can pull out to match a mood or specific outfit. She says she has no interest in them or their activities, doesn't help them with their homework or attend school functions. She speaks with great condescension about mothers who do actually care about their children and take an active role in their children's lives and seems to think she sprang fully-formed from the head of Zeus, as it were.

Sadly, she actually has a few good points to make. However, it's hard to even get to those arguments through her vile and self-absorbed tirade against people who actually love their children.

I agree with her that women who place their children first in life run the risk of losing their own identities and ending up with spoiled, selfish children. But is a mother who is so selfish she begs the nanny to stay to read bedtime stories really healthier or more apt to create children who aren't needy and selfish? I think not.

I do think modern day mommies need to think about what they're doing when they give into every whim of a child's. I do think we need to put our marriages first above our children. Statistics bear out that kids in happy marriages are happier and better adjusted than kids from households where mom and dad lead separate lives with mom attached to the kids. And of course, we need to continue to pursue our own interests so that one day, when the nest is empty, we don't find our souls are too.

Unfortunately, I fear Kirwan-Taylor's soul, if it does exist, is already sadly lacking in fulfillment and will grow even emptier once her children leave and never return.

I wonder how she will feel, all alone in some dark, sad retirement home, when her sons say, "I'm sorry mom. I can't come to see you because you're just too boring."

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Deleting Posts

In principle I generally do not believe in deleting posts. I think if you believe it and say it you have to stand by it. However, in the light of day it seems best not to start a war with neighbors and technically, I suppose, my bitching about a neighbor and divulging how much she drank at a party could be considered an act of war. So, I took down my last post. If you missed it, sorry. I'll try to reign in my anger next time so I don't go overboard and offend anyone.

Friday, July 21, 2006

It's a Boy!

We're thrilled! Perhaps I had a twinge of disappointment thinking that this is my last child and I'll never have a daughter, but overall, I'm elated. I really can't imagine Brendan with a sister, but totally see him with a brother. And as I said before, I never saw myself with daughters, but with sons. I'm pretty happy.

Happier still that the doctor said that the baby looks "magnificently healthy!" She examined everything via ultrasound in great detail. I got a little concerned because both the doctor and the ultrasound technician focused in great detail on the heart, looking at it closeup and watching the bloodflow. Freaked me out a bit, but the doctor assured us it looked healthy. No markers for any chromosomal problems that she could see. Measuring almost a week larger than he should be, but not so much they were worried.

Bottom line, we're having another son and I couldn't be happier.

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

In just a few hours I'm going in for a Level II ultrasound. Obviously, we are hopeful that the scan reveals nothing other than a healthy, growing baby. Still, I can't help feeling nervous. We went through the same test with Brendan due to my previous miscarriage that resulted from the baby's chromosomal abnormality, trisomy 8.

So, on pins and needles we sat (or laid, in my case) in the exam room while the ultrasound tech and the perinatologist did their thing until they finally told us we had a very healthy looking baby. Then they told us it was a boy. Of course, we were thrilled. Both by the good news on the health front and by his gender.

I had always seen myself as the mother of boys. I never really imagined having girl children. Obviously, I knew it was a possibility, but when I saw myself as a mom, it was as a mom to boys, doing fun boys stuff like shooting hoops and playing chase and baking cookies endlessly for them and their friends.

At some point, prior to that ultrasound, I thought it might be a good idea to not know the child's sex. To fall in love with a human being rather than a boy or girl. But, you get five months to work on that before you find out, I suppose. And for me, everything changed on learning that little babe growing inside me was a boy.

I think part of my nervous anticipation today is in regard to whether I carry a boy or girl child. Of course it is. I have waffled these entire twenty weeks, first wanting a brother for Brendan, then a daughter for myself. Now, I've just settled on healthy. Boy or girl. I still don't have a clue what you're supposed to do with a daughter. Zero interest in Barbie, princesses, brushing someone else's hair, teaching someone to sit with her legs closed, prepubescent and teenage hormones, or slumber parties with a gaggle of giggling girls. I don't know what I will do with a girl, but I guess I'll figure it out. One thing's for sure, I can always pressure her to attend my alma mater.

All I know is that he or she, I will love this little person with all my heart. I've been terrified since before I got pregnant that I could never love another child as much as I love Brendan. I've been surprised (pleasantly, I should add) to find the love in my heart growing. And I'm sure that just as my love for Scott has grown stronger and deeper and more passionate as I have watched him be a father to our son, that my love for Brendan will change and grow as I see him become a big brother.

Now, in these last few hours, I think I will simply enjoy loving this little being with no judgments, no preconceived notions, no desires of my own for what he or she might be some day. Just love him or her for the perfect creation he or she is.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Mean Low Pregnancy Blues

I loved being pregnant with Brendan. My morning sickness was mild. I had just been laid off my job, so all I had to do was keep house and read and relax and enjoy being pregnant.

This pregnancy is so different. The morning sickness was miserable. I had to start wearing maternity clothes at 8 weeks. And now, I'm emotional. Crazy emotional. Clueless. And clumsy. Not in the "your center of gravity has changed so you fall down a lot way," but in the "drop everything you pick up, close your hand in the door" kind of way.

I can't think straight. I'm confused. I'm so moody. I cried today because another kid didn't want to play with Brendan. I cried because I thought about how disappointed Brendan will be if we have a girl and how it would be so sad if he never gets to have a brother. I cried because when I told Scott that I was having round ligament pain he commented that not only was I getting stretched, but that it was happening in a different way than before. Those are just the instances I remember. There were probably others.

I just don't remember being this moody and emotional the last time. I was like this for weeks post-partum, but not during the actual pregnancy. It's damned annoying.

The thing I hate most is when I feel like everything is closing in on me and I lash out in anger. On Sunday I completely lost my temper with Scott and yelled at him. I never yell at my husband. We may have disagreements, but we've always been able to talk without raised voices or anger. And the thing that pushed me over the edge? His cleaning up the mess in our freezer where a Coke exploded after I left it in there too long. I put it in to get cold and totally forgot about it. Came back a few hours later and found the mess, but didn't have time to clean it. When Scott saw it, he immediately started cleaning it up. I yelled at him angrily, asking him what he thought he was doing. His response was, "Cleaning up your mess."

Of course, that's exactly why I was angry. I felt guilty about making the mess and didn't want him to do my dirty work. And it would have been so simple to say that in a nice way. Instead, I told him he was making a bigger mess by getting it on the floor I had just mopped. Of course, he was planning to clean it up, but I was being a bitch for no reason. And I hate that. It's so not who I am.

I hope this emotional roller coaster slows down soon so I can climb off. In the meantime, I guess I need to figure out when to just step away and keep my mouth shut.

Easier said than done, apparently.

Am I Expecting Too Much

For a while I was really judgmental about the use of poor grammar. Now, I've simply come to accept that no one cares. I've even started to allow myself to be amused by common mistakes.

While browsing this weekend in search of a bed for Brendan, I found some amusing examples of folks misusing words. More likely they've been hearing these things incorrectly their whole lives and don't know any better. Still, I thought they were pretty cute.

There was a lady selling a "chester" drawers and if you wanted, there was a man, in my town no less, selling "wingbat" chairs. Crazy!

Just now on a message board I saw someone saying that our job as parents is to teach our children how to be "ladys" and "gentlymen."

I know I make my fair share of typos and occasionally get careless. I even have a few mistakes ingrained in my brain because of poor teaching. My third-grade teacher taught the class that there are two spellings for "separate." She said "separate" was the spelling for the verb meaning to divide things, but if you wanted to use the word as an adjective meaning things that were not together, the spelling was "seperate." I still have to think about how to spell "separate" every single time I want to use it.

So, I don't really blame anyone for their mistakes anymore. But I do find them amusing.

Monday, July 17, 2006

And Now for Something Completely...Weird

This morning I got up and did a few chores like ironing before getting dressed. By then, Brendan was awake and running around. He came into our bedroom while I was changing out of my pjs into yoga pants and asked what I was doing. I told him and then he said, "Mommy! You can't do that. The baby might fall out."

Uh. Okay. Thanks for the warning, weird kid.

Where on earth did he come up with such a notion? We haven't told him anything more than "there's a baby growing inside mommy's tummy." The end. Certainly we've told him no details about how the baby comes out. That's horrific enough for adult minds to comprehend.

I just think it's kind of strange. No stranger, I guess than the fact that he has named his hands. The left one is BoBo and the right one is Lisa. I sometimes overhear him talking to them. Usually correcting them for touching something they're not supposed to touch. Today it was the dog's water bowl.

I hope these are merely signs of a burgeoning creative mind and not signs of something worrisome.

We'll see I guess.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Way We Get By

I can't believe it's been a month since I blogged. No wonder I'm blue and out of sorts. It's been a long and busy month.

We took a trip to St. Simons Island where Brendan had his first beach experience and loved it. It was, for lack of a better word, awesome. We all had a wonderful time.

Scott ended his job at the mega-corp and began working for a cool, 75-person company that is growing fast. The company works in SMS technologies and does cool things like Beyoncé promotions, etc. Scott is working on client services stuff and is loving it. He's actually their Senior User Interface guy and has already made an impact. He came home from work at the end of his second week there and said he was disappointed that the work week was over. He's really enjoying his work,feelsl challenged, and is thriving. I'm so happy for him. This is what I've wanted for him for a while. Additionally, he has continued to record and has some excellent demos up on his site. I'll link to them sometime soon.

Brendan's doing better than he was a few weeks ago, but I've gone a little crazy. As a result of what happened with the grandparents, I've become increasingly paranoid about my parenting skills and now second-guess every discipline decision. I'd really begun to push Brendan a little harder to be a "big boy," but after a talk with Scott a few days ago, I've backed off and things are going so much easier. Flies and honey.

Now, I'm on a decorating binge. We've had three rooms painted this last month. The nursery-to-be is a really pretty periwinkle color, kind of dark, like a midnight sky. The guest room, which we moved to the bedroom in our basement, is now lilac. And today, I had Brendan's room painted and it's sky blue. I'm probably going to add clouds to it this weekend. We'll see how creative I'm feeling in a day or two. He wants clouds, but I'm worried he'll change his mind in six months.

As part of my decorating frenzy, I ordered curtains and some cool antique metal wall hangings for Brendan's room. I spent roughly $32 on four 84" panels for B's windows and another $59 on the six wall hangings that are three bi-planes, two trains, and an antique car. Pretty cool. I do love eBay.

I just can't wait to get the room done. Of course, focusing on this the last few days has given me something to think about instead of how depressed I am that Scott gets to go to a cool, new, exciting job and I'm stuck here indefinitely. I love being a mom, but I feel so lonely and isolated sometimes. It sucks. I wish I didn't feel this way, but I do. I feel less like a stunted sub-human when I have something to occupy my mind and time.

I also have my freelance work to keep me occupied, but so much of that work is done in isolation. I do a lot of interviews on the phone or via e-mail and of course, I write alone. Still, I get to think and write and writing is all I've ever really wanted to do. Hopefully, the work will continue to come in.

So, for now, I guess I should just be grateful and quit my belly-achin'. Life is good. Really.

And in case I need a reminder, I just keep telling myself mood swings are normal during pregnancy. This too shall pass.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Still a Bit Hit List

Rather than calming down, my anger continues to grow as I have more time to think about and process what my in-laws have done, and as the ramifications of their insanity continue to manifest.

God, I hate them with every fiber of my being. Really. Would put the heel of my boot directly into my stepmother-in-law's face if I could right now. Of course, I understand that violence is not the answer and would never actually do it because I don't want to give her the pleasure. She already thinks I'm white trash anyway. For years she has referred to my mother as an alcoholic (my mother did not drink at all) and has talked about my smoking habit (she has never seen me smoke because I don't).

But back to my being more pissed off than I have been in years...

My son who was starting to choose his dad over me in the last few weeks is now clinging to me and will not let his dad touch him or help him with anything. He also won't respond to discipline from his dad now and when his dad tries to correct him, he hides. Yesterday when my husband told him not to color on the carpet with his markers, Brendan ran upstairs where I was showering and hid in the bathroom closet in a pile of dirty laundry.

Before the Attack of the Crazy Fundamentalist Grandparents, this was not a problem. Like any three-year old, Brendan resisted being disciplined to some extent, but would ultimately sit in time-out and apologize and be good. Now, when we try to correct him, he freaks out! I am so pissed!

This morning, he cried for 45 minutes and we have no idea why. This is a boy who normally sings and laughs and makes up silly rhymes. He has even come up with his own form of cockney rhyming slang, which I find adorable. The one that comes to mind so quickly is his calling someone billy goat when he means they're silly.

Where is my happy boy? Quashed by that evil witch of a step-grandmother. God! I am so mad. I want to let it go, but I just can't.

The thing is, I'm torn between telling them exactly how pissed I am and that they will never see my son again and just letting it go and letting them figure it out on their own.

I seriously hate these people now. And to think a week ago I was looking naively hoping to encourage my son to have a closer relationship with them.

Friday, June 9, 2006

Really Mystified

Maybe I should have titled this "Really Fracking Pissed Off!" However, in addition to being so angry at my father-in-law and step-monster-in-law that I might seriously never speak to them again, I am oddly confused by their behavior.

They complain that we never come visit them. They also never visit us. If they do, it's for dinner and not an overnight visit. Stepmonster once complained that our guest room bed was very uncomfortable. This is not a woman who has a lot of tact. She once told my husband when she learned the kind of music he was into that he would fit right in with the boys in the kitchen. A very subtle, old-school racist way of saying, "You're into that black music."

Anyway, I schedule a visit because I am eager for my son to have meaningful relationships with all of his relatives because I have such a small family. My mom is dead and when I grew up, I only had one grandparent. I was extremely close to her and knew she loved me deeply. I want my son to be loved that way by his grandparents.

After jumping through hoops to find a time that worked, we settled on June 9 and 10. Brendan was already scheduled to be in summer camp at his school and I had already paid $90 for him to be there for five days. Step-mother insisted this was the only time until August they could see him, so I agreed. Brendan seemed eager to go and I overheard him telling his friends he was going there. Very sweet, I thought.

Brendan has not been to their home since Christmas. The last time we were there, he got into trouble with her for sitting on a particular chair. Neither he nor his parents had been told this chair was off limits. He was quietly sitting on it watching a Barney video. Because he didn't jump off the chair when he was told to do so, evil stepgrandmonster turns the video off with no warning. He was not even three years old at the time. He freaked out. Naturally.

So, we get there yesterday afternoon. Brendan is shy and takes a while to warm up. Once he does, he talks a mile a minute, laughs at funny things you do, and is a joy to be around. But you have to ease into things with him. Especially if he hasn't seen you in seven or eight months. Because she is a grandparent, Steppy thinks this doesn't apply to her and forges onward trying to talk him into running joyfully into her arms. Grandpa knows to hold back and let the child come to him. Finally, she backs off and retreats to the kitchen like a hurt dog. Slowly, Brendan warms up to them both and things go relatively smoothly for a few hours.

Then, my child unwittingly carries a drink into their living room. We have never been told we can't do this. I remember him being allowed to have a sippy cup in the room previously, but apparently they're implementing new rules. Which is fine. Their home, their rules. We should respect them and their rules. However, rather than stating the rule and inviting Brendan to carry his drink into the kitchen, old Steppy snatches the drink from his hand and tells him "No drinks in the living room!" As if, of course, he has heard this rule a hundred times before. Embarrassed, Brendan throws himself to the ground and hides his face. He's not crying or having a tantrum at this point, but I can tell he's a) confused, because at home we allow drinks anywhere in the house, and b) doesn't like having a virtual stranger tell him what to do in such a forceful manner. This is totally unacceptable behavior as far as my stepmother-in-law is concerned and she proceeds to tell me and Brendan as much. When he then starts crying and comes to me, I try to gently explain why we have to follow the rules in other peoples' homes and that they will often have rules that differ from ours, etc. She keeps trying to talk over me, upsetting him even more. I remove him from the situation and even put him in time out to try to calm things down.

I will leave out many of the details. It suffices to say that Brendan became very uncomfortable around his grandparents after this. We both had fitful nights sleeping together in the world's most uncomfortable guest room (stuffy, hard-as-rocks bed and pillows! and a bed too high off the ground to be safe for kids). This morning there were a couple more small instances where Brendan disobeyed them or got upset when they tried to hold him. Steppy tried to force him to sit in her lap and read to him while I went to the bathroom. When I came out, I saw my child straining to get away, crying, and pleading for me to help him.

When I tried to talk to him and calm him down and explain to him why he couldn't do certain things or that his grandparents just wanted to spend time with him, I was accused of coddling him and consoling him too much. They advocated spanking and books by James Dobson, he of Spongebob is gay fame. I got two lectures about my poor parenting skills and the lack of discipline in my home and ultimately, stepmonster-in-law told me that she was so uncomfortable in her own home and that having us visit was such an unpleasant experience for her that she couldn't take another night of it.

In essence, she and my father-in-law threw their 14 weeks' pregnant daughter-in-law who has done nothing but try to build a relationship with them and their sweet, but strong-willed three-year old grandson out of their house.

I know that I sound full of vitriol right now. I am. But until today, I have done nothing but try to make them like me and love my son and husband. I have always been the one to reach out. Despite the fact that they left our wedding early because we didn't take a picture of Scott with the two of them before we took a picture of Scott with his two brothers who were both in the wedding. Despite the fact that they did not come to Brendan's baptism because they are uncomfortable being around Scott's mom. Despite the fact that Scott's stepmom converted his dad from being a lifelong, practicing Catholic to being Methodist and now is trying to convert the rest of the family because she doesn't believe Catholicism is a valid religion. (No offense intended to other Methodists). Despite the fact that they have made little or no effort to see him or have him in their lives.

But this is it. The end for me. Frack them. I am not making the effort anymore. Not after they told me today that they don't feel like they can have a relationship with my son because he won't listen to them. He doesn't fracking know them. And whose fault is that? Can they not stop and see things from his perspective? Or even mine?

They told me I'm blind to how my child manipulates me. I coddle and spoil him. And that a parent's job is not to protect their child, but to give them structure and teach them how to handle difficult situations. They said you shouldn't have to explain to a child why they shouldn't do something, but rather just saying "No" should be enough. They told me that a child who isn't spanked is unable to show respect to anyone else and will be selfish.

I really am overwhelmed and dumbfounded by all of this. And my poor husband who wasn't even there...Bless him. He's beside himself with anger and I feel responsible. I wish I had never gone down there. I thought I was doing a good thing. Now we're both wide awake at 5:00 a.m. He because he's so angry. Me because Brendan is sick. He awoke at midnight with a cough and high fever. Then he started vomiting. I've changed his sheets three times. We ended up sleeping on the couch for a while until he insisted on going back to bed. I had to put a double bed sheet on his bed because I was out of clean sheets for his bed.

And I do blame them. My child rarely gets sick. He hasn't been sick for months. I think his little body just got so stressed out from all the tension and drama last night and today that whatever germ was there sprang to life.

Ugh! This kind of anger and upset cannot be good for my pregnancy. How could they do this?

Of course, they think they're "doing it for our own good."

The thing is, I know my child isn't perfect. There are no perfect kids. But he's certainly not as bad as they make him out to be. He's smart and funny and at home he listens pretty well. His preschool teachers tell me how good he is most days. Other parents compliment his behavior when we go to their homes. This was not normal for him, but they won't hear me out on it. They think I'm lying.

They want sheep. Mousy little piss ants who follow where they are lead, drink the Kool-Aid, and fit into their conformist little picture of how children should be. My son is not like that. His dad isn't like that and neither am I. They should know that.

Stepmonster's kids are. As whitebread as they come and I seriously doubt either of them has ever said "No" or had an original thought once in their lives. Perfectly nice. Perfectly likeable. But not fun or interesting or anyone you would want to get to know.

If you've made it this far, I congratulate you on your stamina. I had to get it all out because it was killing me. I am seriously having sharp pains that have me a little concerned. I needed to write about this because I still can't believe it happened. Of course now, in my sleep-deprived and worried state, it seems like a really bad dream.

I wish it were.

Tuesday, June 6, 2006


It seems 2006 will be a big year for us. Not only will we (hopefully) have a baby, but something even more exciting has just happened. At least it's more exciting right at this moment.

Scott has a new job. After almost nine years at the same company as a web applications developer, my darlin' is going to work at a new gig. He'll be a senior developer for a company that specializes in wireless apps. Pretty cool. He'll be their user interface specialist and he's pretty psyched about the job. Me, too. It's so up his alley.

The job does mean a small pay cut, but we'll have insurance with maternity coverage (we currently do not) and for the first time in nine years, Scott will get paid vacations. Yay! This year, because we won't be paying for the birth of our child out of pocket, we'll do alright. Hopefully, it will all work out. I think it will, if for no other reason than the fact my husband will be doing something he loves.

Brendan faced his own dramatic change this week. When he went to summer camp at his preschool, we were both a bit shocked that his class was in a different room with a different teacher, though she is one he knows. While I was perfectly okay with this change, my sweet boy sat on the floor and cried, begging for his old teacher. The new teacher, a darling English woman who was the assistant in his old class, just scooped him up and carried him in, where he sat and pouted until his buddy Matthew came over and talked him out of his funk. Today, he told me that he was going to go into the old teacher's class instead, but since I got to drop him off in the carpool line, I, thankfully, didn't have to deal with that meltdown. Of course, when I arrived to pick him up, Brendan was sitting on the floor of the director's office, playing. Turns out he did have a meltdown when they wanted to change his poopy diaper on the playground. Rather than upset the other kids, they separated him. Sadly, he's one of the only kids left in his class still in a diaper. I'm at my wit's end with potty-training. I've been trying off and on for a year and he's so stubborn, crying and fighting with me every time I try to get him to sit on the potty. So, starting Monday (after preschool camp and a trip to the grandparents this weekend), I am throwing away the diapers. I'm not going to give him a choice and I'm going to make him clean up his messes. Hopefully, he'll get sick of being wet and nasty pretty fast.

So, there's lots of drama going on around here. Hopefully, we will all come through it better people and a happier family.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Best Imitation of Myself

First off, I want to clarify something. I did not mean to imply that my husband is thinking of doing anything untoward with anyone. Everything in our conversation the other night was purely theoretical. Just one of those conversations you end up having when you're a certain age and your life is in transition.

Right now we're looking at having a new child, a potential job change, we've made a lot of new friends in a short time, and it just seems like we have a lot going on. A lot of really good things. So, anyway, it's all talk and being the pregnant emotional monster I am, I had a minor freak out over a perfectly normal conversation. Not typical of me, but it's over. And I'm sorry.

And by the way, I also didn't mean to imply that I'm some sort of depressed, frump of an unattractive housefrau. I'm not. I'm pregnant and I'm just anxious about all that does to one's body. Not fun.

Now, on to something really cool! We had a nuchal translucency test yesterday. Everything looked great. All the measurements were normal. We'll get the bloodwork back on Friday. I feel so much better now. I was really worried, but I feel as though we've cleared one more hurdle. Eight more weeks until we can find out the sex.

It was so cool to see our little one on the screen in the doctor's office yesterday. Cooler still was that when we first saw him/her, baby was all asquirm, arms and legs waving. The u/s tech commented that the baby was moving so much she didn't know if she'd be able to get a good picture. So, I told the baby he/she needed to calm down and be still and instantly, the arm and leg kicking stopped, baby stuck his/her thumb in the mouth and bent both knees, like he/she was just kicking back and relaxing. It was so cool!

I really feel much more connected to this baby and pregnancy after yesterday. I think I was afraid to get too attached in case there was a major problem. Obviously, I am so thankful there's not.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Marriage is Hard Work

Last night Scott and I had an interesting talk that left me thrown off kilter and feeling more than a little insecure today. Just days ago, I felt wonderful and secure. While this may be too much information, I think it's relevant to this topic, so I'll just say it. This pregnancy has been great for our sex life and my ego.

For weeks, Scott (and most of my friends) have been telling me how great I look, how I'm glowing and beautiful. Better yet, we have been having more sex than at any other point in our relationship. Sex has always been an issue for us because it has always meant a risk of getting pregnant when we might not have wanted to be pregnant. So, I think the fact that I am pregnant and we can have sex whenever we want to without worrying has made all the difference. Of course, this wasn't the case when I was pregnant with Brendan. Scott had zero interest in me. It was worse for the several months after Brendan was born and I hadn't lost much of my baby weight. I felt unattractive and apparently was unattractive. Eventually, as I took off the weight and was in better shape than before I had B. Then, things really took off, resulting in my present state.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand. We were discussing male/female friendships and whether or not they're okay when you're married. We both want them and basically agree they're fine, but that you have to be realistic about the fact that part of why people want those friendships and why they happen in the first place is because you want someone other than your partner to find you interesting and attractive. And that's okay. We all need it. I think it's normal. The problem is when that basic attraction turns into something deeper and more real.

At that point in the conversation, Scott admitted that if he had a female friendship that started to cross that line, he would want to explore it. Crash! There goes my heart breaking into a million little pieces.

The thing is, I understand that need. I romanticize the notion of the first kiss with a new lover and those new exciting emotions you experience when you're first getting to know someone new. It's kind of a recurring dream for me and I had it last night.

That doesn't mean I'd ever act on it or want to. I truly adore my husband and love being married to him. I certainly wouldn't trade our relationship for a few blissful moments of blossoming attraction.

Hell! I'm a work-at-home mom. All of the editors I work with are women. There is very little chance I'd ever meet another man who'd find me attractive any way.

Not now that I'm 36 with one child and another on the way.

Of course, my husband is hot. Hot, I say! He's good-looking, charming, witty, incredibly intelligent, and made all the sexier by the fact that he's a musician. He works in an office with the occasional good-looking young woman in an unhappy marriage who flirts with him and makes him feel good. A tricky situation. Still, I would never want to say, "You can't have female friends." I wouldn't want anyone dictating who my friends are though I think if a friendship makes your partner uncomfortable, you have to listen to his or her feelings on the matter.

I hate hearing it, but I appreciate that he can be honest with me. And at least it lets me know what I'm up against. It pisses me off that I'm not enough. It pisses me off more that I used to be hot, too. And smart and witty and charming. Before I met Scott, I had men and boys falling at my feet. When I was 24 or 25, I had college boys lying about their age to try to get me to go out with them. I was pretty confident. Then, at some point, I realized I didn't just want to date, I wanted to find someone to love and love me. And ultimately, I did. But, when I did, I stopped putting myself in situations where other men would find me attractive and eventually, my confidence waned. Now, here I am.

I'm probably overreacting. I hope so. Apparently, these feelings are normal for men, at least according to Rich at While I don't mean this as a judgment on Rich at all, I am glad that Scott is open about what he feels and when women flirt with him. Like I said, at least I know what I'm up against and we can discuss it.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Blinded by Science

Seems the folks over at Duke's Pratt School of Engineering have figured out how to make an invisibility cloak. At least in theory.

Of course, it's not like Harry Potter's invisibility cloak. It sounds more like the Star Trek cloaking device.

All in all, if it works, what a major breakthrough. Very cool. Very cool, indeed.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Girl, You Have No Faith in the Legal System

As a woman, I'd like to believe that when a woman says she has been raped she's telling the truth. Not just because I want to have faith in my fellow man, uh wo-man, but because it makes the rest of us look bad. Once one woman lies about being raped, it causes the powers that be (read Men) to doubt the rest of us when we bring forth allegations of an attack.

As a human and an American citizen, I'd like to believe that our judicial system works as it should: that we are innocent until proven guilty and that those in charge of prosecuting crimes take their positions seriously as a means to eradicating true crime and not just as vehicles for political gain or executing their own personal vendettas.

Sadly, the alleged rape case involving the Duke Lacrosse team has left me disillusioned and disappointed in both my fellow woman and my fellow American citizens, most especially Michael Nifong, the Durham District Attorney who is pursuing this case despite the lack of any evidence proving the guilt and more shockingly, in the face of clear evidence showing that neither of the two young men who have thus far been indicted could have been involved. Both have witnesses and evidence including ATM receipts indicating that they had left the party well before the hook, uh stripper, -- damn! I mean the alleged victim, arrived. Nifong refused to look at any of the evidence collected by defense attorneys.

Worse yet, is the fact that he has dropped pending charges against the alleged victim related to her theft of a vehicle and the subsequent high-speed chase on which she led police; the fact that he reduced parole violation charges against the second stripper involved after she changed her story to say that, indeed, a rape had occurred.

Now, in a further effort to intimidate a witness, Durham police yesterday arrested the taxi driver who came forward to say that he had picked Reade Seligmann up from the house where the lacrosse party and alleged rape took place and then drove him to an ATM, a fast-food joint, and back to his dorm, all before the alleged rape allegedly occurred. Apparently, the police asked him if had anything new to tell them about the case before they arrested him.

How is this happening in the U.S.? How is Nifong allowed to get away with this? Clearly, he has no case if he's so desperately trying to coerce testimony and throwing witnesses into jail in order to get his way. And ignoring that the alleged victim has mental health issues and a previous history of lies, deception, and criminal activity that might indicate she could be making the story up.

I wasn't going to write about this because I understand how it could be a controversial issue and that's not my game. But I am incensed over the idea, the very act of witness intimidation Nifong and his black-booted thugs are trying to carry out in Durham. I hope he fails miserably.

I hope someone with some sense sees what he is doing and disbars this asshole.

I hope the woman who started all of this gets the help she needs to get her life together. For her sake, her parents, and her children.

I hope the young men, and their fellow teammates, have learned that it's never a good idea to hire strange women to come to your home and take their clothes off unless you want to risk being accused of rape, and I hope that ultimately, they are able to clear their names and put this behind them.

Most of all, I hope our criminal justice system can withstand the battering it's taking right now.