Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Re-Ferberized Family

Last July, we Ferberized The Boy, with great success. Everyone was better rested and healthier. It was a good thing for the family.

Over the months, I'd let some of our good habits slide, mainly because things seemed to be going so well, but also, as a dear friend said to me yesterday, "life gets in the way." In the beginning I was very diligent about telling The Boy how much time we had to do an activity. (For instance, "it's fifteen minutes until bedtime" or "we have two more books until bedtime.") But I have slacked off in recent weeks. I had also forgotten how important those cues are to The Boy and to sleep training. It gives him expectations and prepared him for bedtime to arrive. If I'm not giving him the cues, bedtime can seem to come suddenly, when he's not ready.  My cues let him prepare himself.

Anyway, over the last few of weeks, The Boy has begun rejecting naps on the weekends (but not at school), and putting up quite a struggle at bedtime too. In our desperation to get him to sleep, The Working Dad and I had fallen into some of our old tricks and habits: forehead tickles until he dozed off, rocking to sleep, lulling him to sleep in the stroller, letting him watch TV to get drowsy. Most of these things are nice (I looooove rocking him and would rock an 18-year-old him if he'd let me).  But they are also sleep crutches, and the goal is to get him sleeping on his own without needing the forehead tickles.

I'm not entirely sure from where the recent sleep problems emanate. I am given to understand that toddlers reject sleep in an effort to assert control over their world, and that this sort of sleep struggle is not uncommon around the age of two. He's almost two, so that may be it.  I think, though, the problems are a combination of his natural rebellion as an almost-two-year-old and our having slack off on the routine.

Also at play is the potty. We've added potty time to our bedtime routine, which necessarily takes away time post-bath for reading, singing, and generally winding down.

Anyway, whatever the reasons for the sleep difficulties, the entire family seemed to be heading into sleep deprivation city again, and needed to change direction before it got more serious.

So this week, we reintroduced Dr. Ferber to our household.  We needed to re-assert and re-establish our routines.

Night 1.1, January 30, 2013
Just like last time, it took The Boy about an hour's worth of screaming and crying to settle down on Ferber Night 1.1. Also like last time, it was incredibly difficult to hear him scream and cry, but we remained calm and a united front. He cried out alternately for me and The Working Dad.  He would moan, "Noooooo."  It was just horrible.  But more difficult for him than me, I realize.

We checked on him at 3 minutes, five minutes, seven minutes, ten, twelve, and fifteen. He fell asleep before the next 15 minutes had passed. He woke up briefly about 45 minutes later, but settled down before three minutes (the first check interval) had passed. I waited around another 30 minutes to see if he would wake up again (writing the beginnings of this blog post, actually), but he stayed quiet. So I brushed my teeth, went to kiss The Working Dad (who was working late upstairs) goodnight, listened at The Boy's door (a screen door so we can actually look in and hear better) to check on him, and then went to bed. He woke up again at 12:49, but again fell silent again before the first check. He woke up for the morning at 5:06 a.m. (and Ferber says that if the kid is awake after four, the night is over). He was a cranky, cranky boy when he woke up and for the first hour. We think he was still mad at us from the night before.  By six, though, he was his cheerful, goofy self.

Night 2.1, January 31, 2013
I picked The Boy up early from school so we could go feed water fowl (ducks, coots, geese, scaups, and gulls) at the park. (The coots ate right from our hands!)

We got The Boy's dinner to him earlier than we have been doing, with the goal being that we would be starting our evening routine before 7 o'clock, leaving plenty of parent/child time, post-bath. Bedtime is 8:00 p.m. these days, so getting started before seven gives wiggle room for the potty time.  This night I was the ultimate in sleep-training clock-watcher. I told him how much time we had left for dinner, potty time, bath, and reading books. And as the time ticked away on each activity, I would remind him of the reduced amount of time. ("Five more minutes of bath."  "Only three minutes until bedtime, time for one more book.")

We could not have had a nicer evening.  It was an absolute pleasure reading books as he would bring them to me.  (He gets to choose from a stack.)  Each time we would finish a book, I would tell him how much time we had left until bedtime.  It was so peaceful.

When bedtime came he fussed ever so briefly and then went to bed without at tear or a scream. Miraculous after the screamapalooza the night before . . . .

What's more, dinner, potty and bath were also easier. We've also been having recent battles about dinner and moving from the potty (which he would sit on all night, I'm convinced) to the bathtub.  But tonight, with me telling him how long he had for each activity, he very willingly moved from one activity to the next when I told him time was up.

Just as I had suspected, what was needed was for The Working Dad and I to reassert our authority.  The Boy needs for us to be in charge. He's more content and secure when he knows Mom and Dad are in control of the situation. One day, that won't be true, of course, but for now, for this toddler, it's the only way to be. It is clear to me that my boy benefits from and is happier with a clear, predictable structure. (It should come as no surprise to me that he's this way because his mom also succeeds with a bit of imposed order.)

So I'm calling the thing, after only two nights, a success. (At least until the weekend, when we shall see how the naps go.) We are a Re-Ferberized Family. And it is our family that is Ferberized, not just The Boy. All three of us have to observe the structure and schedule, or it all falls apart. It's sleep-training the child, sure, but what it really is is a commitment by the parents to create a stable, predictable world for their little guy during a time when so much changes for him so fast. And for The Boy, Dr. Ferber's method works to provide that structure.

Nighty-night, y'all.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Sewing: Book Pocket For Glider

Until recently, we would sit on the floor to read to The Boy, this being his preference. But recently, he's decided he wants to sit in the glider and rock while we read. The benefit of being on the floor is that you would have a stack of books in easy reach. Not so when you're in the glider....

So today, I repurposed the dust ruffle from his Classic Pooh crib set into a book pocket. I just took one of the long side ruffles, folded it in half, sewed around three sides and affixed some ribbons to tie it to the chair. Looks great, works great and now the dust ruffle has a new life. Since this one turned out so well, I'm going to make another one for the other side of the chair. (We can go through a lot of books of a night.)

Breast is best.

Last night on The New Normal, Brian and David became concerned that, as two dudes, neither of them would be able to breast feed their soon-to-be-born-via-surrogate baby boy. The resolution was obvious: ask the surrogate if she would be willing to pump breast milk after the baby is born. And they did, and she readily agreed.

But Brian, observing a breast-feeding mother and friend, longed for the special bond that comes from physically holding child to breast.

He got himself a Mr. Milker (on the show, they called it "The Milkman"), and comedy (including a breast feeding flash mob) ensued.

I've mentioned before on this blog my difficulties breast feeding, and the massive guilt that was imposed upon me by the breast feeding establishment and my own desire to be the best mommy I could be (which at the time included producing tidal waves of creamy goodness from my boobies to nourish my child).

My son rejected both breast and expressed breast milk at age six months. He had been fed a diet of formula supplemented by my trickle of breast milk for all of his life up to that point. (And yes, I tried all manner of things to stimulate production to no avail.)

When he was first born, the milk that I produced was not plentiful, but it was sweet and contained obviously large amounts of milk fat. Yes, I tasted it. When he rejected me (and to be sure, it felt a tiny bit personal), I tasted it again. It was more watery, and it has a faint tinny flavor. Then I knew that he knew best: this stuff was not the best thing for him. Bring on the Enfamil.

Do I wish that I could have breast fed him longer and more effectively? Absolutely. Do I think my bond with my son is inferior to that of the bonds of mothers who breast feed successfully for the first year? Absolutely not. Parental bonds aren't forged by sheer physical closeness. It's a complex mix of physical, intellectual, and emotional interaction, as it is with all human relationships. Know how I know? Daddies love their babies just as much as mommies do, and most of them do not employ a Mr. Milker to seal the deal.

So breast feeding is nice. Good breast milk is also nice. But neither of them make you a beloved parent of a beloved child. For that you don't need boobs and working mammary glands, or a Mr. Milker. You just need time and a heart.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Daddy-Daughter Dances

When did these things get kicked up in our culture? I don't remember daddy-daughter dances when I was growing up in 1970s rural East Texas. Are they new, or just new to me?

Part of me, if I'm honest, is a little weirded out by them, but I guess it's no different than dancing with your daughter on her wedding day. Part of me thinks it's cute too, though: dads sort of awkward in suits and little girls in frills. (Then another part of me wonders what the girls with no daddy do....)

And maybe, as the mother of a man cub, I'm a just little bit jealous.

Do they have Mommy-Son Flag Football or something?

What Not To Say To A Working Mom

Read this article by Devon Corneal.  All I can say is, "Amen, sister."  I really have nothing to add.

Hat tip to The Dude's Mom for sending me this article.  :-)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Food Journals

Remember how I said I hate New Years Resolutions?

I also hate food journals or diaries. They make me feel confined.

Yeah, I know, they're supposed to do that: impose a little structure on your health chaos. But that doesn't mean I can't not like it.

But I know that they work. They make me account for my own gastronomic sins.

(And these toenails aren't painting themselves. I need my 10 pound weight loss pedicure.)

And so I find myself turning to the dreaded food journal in order to help me attack the dreaded New Years Eve Eve Resolution. After three weeks of not doing so well without much structure (still only down 2.5 pounds), I have broken down and will do a food journal .... Starting tomorrow. Maybe seeing it written down will force me into giving up my one true drug: sugar.

And I'm serious about calling sugar a drug. I'll get real cravings and an instant serotonin rush when I finally have some. I guess it's better than being addicted to cocaine (but not for my waistline). Anyway, I need to break the sugar habit in a serious, serious way.

Because I'm doing okay on every other of my health goals...exercising more, eating more veggies, generally sleeping better....but the sugar's hard to shake. Hopefully, the journal will help.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Weekly Chores for The Working Mom

I'm sure you're familiar with Pinterest....

Every so often, I'll see pins from my buddies of a weekly chore list. Basically, it's a list of items that Mom should do each day to keep the house sparkling, and the list is always "so doable."

This week, one of my friends posted such a list for, get this, "The Working Mom."


My own list of chores!

Here's what I need to do every day to have a sparkling house, and this is "sooo doable."

Everyday before work:
Make beds
Empty dishwasher
Put in one load of laundry

This is an hour's worth of stuff, honestly. (Maybe I should institute an auto-sort laundry system as has been suggested on certain Pinterest pins. Do I trust The Working Dad to correctly sort?)

Anyway, I already get up before 6 a.m. to exercise (or I'm supposed to). Should I make that five in order to fit in these daily chores?

Then there are once a week, presumably, after work chores....

Monday: clean bathrooms
Tuesday: dust
Wednesday: vacuum
Thursday: mop floors
Friday: free!
Saturday: swing day
Sunday: free!

Seriously? I get home by 6 each evening. I need to feed The Boy, do potty time, bathe him, brush his teeth, do book time, and then put him to bed. (While The Working Dad gets dinner started and does whatever odds and end around the house that need attending to on whatever given day while I'm getting The Boy ready for bed....)

Ta-da! And just like that, it's 8 o'clock at our house. Time for The Working Dad and I to cook our own meal (if he's not already done it), eat, visit for a few minutes and then go to bed. Should I dump the chatting with my husband part to do these chores? What if we just order in every night so we skip the cooking part. That's healthy. Anyway, any real cleaning or dusting or vacuuming of the house beyond a lick and a promise is going to take another hour of time, at least. Even a lick and a promise may take an hour or so.

And footnote: I've been working all freaking day, it's 8 p.m., and I'd like a glass of wine and a little relaxation time.  Sure, there are two "free" days there, so I suppose you get to relax two evenings a week, but that's about five too few for me.  This schedule would have me going until 9 p.m.

So in addition to your eight hour work day, you, working lady, have two hours of house cleaning to do before you get to put your feet up.

But wait!  There's more!  There are swing day chores!

Swing Days:
First week - clean oven, microwave and fridge
Second week - wipe down walls baseboards and doors
Third week - clean inside windows and blinds
Fourth week - wipe down cabinets

Swing day, Saturday, the one day of the week The Working Mom has with no commitments, free time to spend with the family.  No, the cleaning calendar has your day filled with big projects and "catch up."

Fundamentally, the whole concept of the working mom's cleaning schedule rubs me the wrong way. Dad doesn't have to pitch in? The creator of the working mom's chore schedule says that her husband "is a manager" and works 60 to 70 hours a week, "enough said." No, it isn't enough said! He makes half the mess, he eats the food she no doubt cooks, he can pick up a broom at 8 p.m. as easily as she can. And what about working women who have "big important jobs," just like boys do. I've got a female friend who easily makes twice what her husband makes. I suppose that means she doesn't have to wash a dish since she works longer hours and makes more money. Guess what really happens at that house.....

Heck, if the morning and evening chores were divided between mom and dad, it's just 30 minutes a piece, in theory. Instead of mom slaving away while dad watches the news and unwinds after a hard day at his important job, maybe they both do a little cleaning and then hang with each other too.

Moreover, if the kids are old enough to swish a toilet bowl, where are their chores on this list?

And, by the way, where's the time for exercise in this schedule, or an avocation like playing a musical instrument or writing a blog or both? Where's fun?

Obviously, this schedule works for its creator, but to me, I see utter slavery to the family. I see a ready-maid (pun intended) basis for martyrdom on the part of the creator too.

But, I suppose, there is a grain of usefulness in the calendar. If you are not fortunate enough to be able to afford a cleaning service, having a plan of how to get the chores done is a good idea, for both working parents and the kids (if they're old enough).  Study after study shows that working women, on average, still carry a disproportionate amount of the household duties, even though they are bringing home half or more than half of the income for the family. We work just as hard as dad does at work. He should pitch in at home. If there's going to be a chore calendar, the calendar should have his assignments too. If dad doesn't want to help mom out, when, arguable she's helping him out by carrying part of the family economic burden, then that's a problem with dad.

Thursday, January 24, 2013


I totally get why people said it "two-thousand-one" etc. when talking about the years from 2001 to 2009. It was cumbersome and sort of odd sounding to say "twenty-oh-one." (Although, I was an occasional "twenty-oh-one-er".....)

But for the entirety of those nine years, I looked forward to being able to go back to the old way of expressing the year.

Tonight, we're gonna to party like it's nineteen-ninety-nine...

And yet, here we are, three years after we've been able to say, e.g., "twenty-ten," and some people are still saying "two-thousand-thirteen." Steven Metcalf, host of one of my favorite podcasts, the Slate Culturefest, did it just today (or whenever they recorded the podcast).

Are they worried that it may sound like they're reading an eye chart?

Whereas "twenty-oh-one" was cumbersome, now, "two-thousand-thirteen" is.

So I hereby call upon the world who may or may not be listening and/or care what I think:

For the love of all that is good and sweet in the world, say it "twenty-thirteen." I think Prince would agree with me on this.

Friday, January 18, 2013

My tummy gets in the way

Thanks to nearly two decades of ballet, I perpetually hold my tummy in, so it gives the illusion of relative flatness, even if there is fatness there.

But ever since I had The Boy, there's this odd pouch there that wasn't there before, just below the belly button. When I lay on my side, it kind of hangs a third boob. A very squishy third boob....

I wonder, will it go away with weight loss, or do I need to get it a little bra?

So my tummy gets in the way when I bend over or, you know, try to put on pants. It also gets in the way when I eat. For instance, last night, it got in the way and convinced me to have a Bass ale with a bowl of animal crackers, a surprisingly good pairing, after dinner. Oh well....

Status update: lost a half pound. Down 2.5 since the first of the year. Next week will be better. Happy Friday, y'all!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The New Normal

I missed this article when it was first published in November 2012, just before the election.  A law school pal posted about it on Facebook today and it caught my attention.

A little girl with two dads wrote to Barack Obama to thank him for supporting gay marriage.  In her letter she relates how her classmates think her dads' relationship is "gross and weird."  She writes, "[I]t really hurts my heart and feelings.  So I come to you because you are my hero.  If you were me and had two dads that love each other and kids at school tease you, what would you do?"

Bless her sweet little hurt heart.

I have some gay friends.  Some of them are single.  Some of them are as married as gay people can be in Texas in 2013.  Some of them are somewhere in between.

Some of them have kids.

And their kids are gorgeous little creatures, just like my gorgeous little creature.

And these gay parents, they experience all the same things that The Working Dad and I experience:  They get puked on. They stay up late with infants and/or sick toddlers.  They have to juggle work and family.  They delight in giggles.  They get terrified when the baby runs a little too far and a little too fast and a little too close to the street.  They play hide-and-go-seek.  They're just like me.

Except no one ever looks sidelong at me and The Working Dad when we walk through the mall with The Boy.  No one ever asks if The Working Dad is The Boy's uncle or if I'm his auntie.  It has crossed no one's mind to suggest to The Boy (though he is yet too young to understand such a comment) that it would be wrong to have the parents that he has.  I can't walk in those shoes the way they can walk in my parent shoes.

Far be it from me, a straight lady, to even try to understand what it must be like.  But I do know a little bit about discrimination and being the odd person out.  I've been the only woman in a courtroom of men . . . and in said courtroom where the three letters, P-M-S, were uttered by my opposing counsel on the record in an obvious jab against me.  (Thankfully, the Judge -- who happens to be gay, by the way -- made it quite clear that such comments were neither welcome nor helpful.)  Anyway, I understand a little bit about standing out in a crowd of otherwise equals.  So I have empathy.

And I sure know what it's like to be a parent and never to want your child to hurt or be teased.

One of my gay friends -- one of two dads, a work colleague -- once expressed concern to me about how kids and parents may treat his kids when they enter school.  It's an understandable concern, here in The Bible Belt.  And I have had another friend relate that someone once told her child that it was wrong to have two mommies.  That letter above illustrates that it does happen and it does hurt the children to whom it happens.  I'll never have to face this particular heartache head-on.

No matter what you think of the morality of same-sex relationships, imagine how much that teasing hurts the child.  She loves her parents with all of her heart.  Imagine how much it would hurt you to see that sort of pain in your child.  The good news is that a lot of people do seem to be sensitive to the feelings of the child, which, to me, is the most important thing.

Personally, I am so very glad that The Boy is going to grow up thinking that families look differently.  He will never have the experience I did of asking a little boy in preschool whether the color of his skin rubs off.  (Yes, the pre-school me really asked that question.)  The Boy will always understand that skin comes in a rainbow of colors.  And gay people will not seem exotic and scary to him.  They will merely be part of the canvas that is his American world.  And some of them will be his friends' parents.

It's not just a cultural diversity point I'm trying to make.  It seems silly to even feel the need to say this, but the kids with two dads or two moms are just kids.  They are just like the kids with heterosexual parents.  They act the same way, like the same things, and love the same way.  And their parents are just parents too.  This is the world we live in and these are the people in it.  They deserve respect.  They deserve to be treated like every other parents, and their kids deserve to be treated like every other kid.  And as for our children, this is the world they are growing up in.

Whatever value structure you may instill in your children, I hope that it contains that component of sensitivity, even if your family disagrees with the concept of a homosexual parenting unit.  These are just kids and they deserve to be treated like kids, no matter who their parents are.  These kiddos -- the letter-writing little girl -- do not deserve to be bullied and teased because their parents are gay any more than a kid deserves to be bullied because of the color of her skin or because he has freckles or speaks with a lisp.

I hope my gay friends' kids never hear, "that's gross and weird."  I hope that their sweet little hearts never hurt like the little letter writer.  But, realistically, they probably will.  I know where we live.  But  I also know that my friends will be prepared to handle it with grace, patience and love.  I hope that the parents of the kid that may make such a comment will also be prepared to handle it sensitively and gracefully.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Middle Ages

I picked up my new progressive lens bifocals on Sunday.

I sprained my hiney back in August . . . .

Oh, and I'm 42.

Yes, friends, even though I am the mother of a toddler, I am middle aged.

Despite what you've been told, 40 isn't the new 30. It's still 40, and you're still just as old as your parents were when they were 40 . . .

. . . which means that your parents were a lot more fun and interesting than you thought they were . . . and a lot less old that you thought too.

But being fun and not being past-it doesn't reset the aging process. Julianne Moore, who according to is 52 years old, recently took more than casual, comical offense at being called middle aged. Does she anticipate living to 150?

Hollywood wants us to believe that wrinkles, stretch marks and bulges are evil. Hollywood also wants us to buy into the notion that adolescence can extend even to your late 30s. (Or is that just Judd Apatow who wants that?) My husband rightly points out that this is why people like Juilanne Moore blanch at being called middle aged. Middle aged women don't get good parts. In an industry that prizes youth, being middle aged is a career killer.

In the TV show, Slings & Arrows, one of the female characters -- a professional stage actress, a middle aged one -- tells a young actress that, in Shakespearean theater, the actress's progression is thus:

"This is the life of an actress. You play the ingenues, you play the queens, you play the dreaded Nurse [in Romeo and Juliet], then you retire . . . . Then you sit there in the dining room eating rice pudding and hearing endless tales of life on the wicked stage. And you realized that you never really lived at all, you just pretended. Is that what you really want?"

If that is the life of an actress, I'm glad to be a lawyer. Fame and adoration in the now cannot be worth such emptiness and regret in the end. Even if it's an exaggeration of the truth, there is no avoiding the truism that our pop culture values youth more highly than it ought to.

Still, when I was having so much trouble getting pregnant at ages 37 through 39, I resented the hell out of the 40-something actresses having babies and pretending that the offspring were genetically their own. My doctors all insisted that the vast majority of these women (especially those over 45) used donor eggs. I didn't resent that they did it. I resented the message they were sending to the non-rich and famous by not acknowledging that they did it. Their (what I perceived to be) casual use of other women's DNA to continue the illusion of youthful fecundity really pissed me off. And I feel like it misleads the populous into believing that it is easy to get pregnant in middle age. So easy, in fact, that middle age isn't middle age anymore.

But despite how much fun we're having, how great we look, how much energy we have, and how happy we are, I think a healthy dose of realism is necessary. It's part of that wisdom that comes with age.

We are mortal. The flesh fails us. This mortality weighs heavily on The Working Dad and me, having a child who is not yet two. We delight in him, but we are conscious that when he is our age, we will be elderly, indeed (we hope, and not the alternative). Being conscious that life is short and time is fleeting makes parenting a joy and makes family, not work, the central figure in our lives. It is the ability to see the end, from this vantage point in the middle, that makes the present so sweet.  I'm not sure I would have had this kind of appreciation for my very brief time with my son as a boy if I were not middled aged.  We have him for 18 years.  I had done 18 years twice and then some before he was ever born.  It brings a perspective that a first time mom at 24 just cannot have.

So, in the middle, here, our limbs aren't as strong, our eye-sight not as keen, our internal parts -- ovaries, hearts, knee and hip joints, stomachs -- all are starting to show the signs of decades of useful employment. You know what else shows those signs? Our smiles. Our slightly crinkled eyes. Our knowing glances. Our, cliche or not, wonderfully bewizened brains.

The character Sally on Coupling may think that "age bring you more to shave" (and she may be a little right about that), but age also bring patience, peace and experience. We have seen the world. We have lived in it. And we know how to work it, now. These are good things!

And, being middle aged, not only do we know how life works, but we have (actuarially, at least) a whole other half of our lives to live well and wisely.  Any regrets we have, we still have time to mend them. Any places we've not visited, we still have time to travel. Any adventure unpursued can still be embarked upon.

And beyond all that existential stuff, I'm just better at stuff in my middle age than in times past. For instance, I'm a way better cook at 42 than in my youth . . . way better. And I like being good at stuff.

There's a long road ahead after 40. It's not as long as the one we stood on when we were 20.  But now we see well enough -- with our progressive lenses -- to see the potholes and caution signs we were blind to in our youths.

We are not old. We are the middle. And the middle can be a hell of a lot of fun.

Middle Aged Woman Wearing New No-Line Bifocal Glasses
(Doesn't she rock out loud?)

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Love Rat 2.0

I promise that I'm not going to just rehash every blog post I did a year or two ago. It only seems that way, now.

Anyway, you remember The Love Rat, right?

Well, since he was supposed to be a bear and not a rat, I thought I'd try to make him again:

Yep, still very much a rodent. Maybe it's the pattern. Maybe I just haven't been able to master curves on a sewing machine.  I mean, look, the ears aren't as rounded as the first go-'round.

I tried tweaking a little at the neck to give the head more definition. And, as you see, I've given her button eyes and even embroidered her a little nose and mouth.  And I sewed joints for the arms and legs (just a strait stitch across after stuffing).

Still, she's cute. Wonder what The Boy will name her.

Also, while I'm here . . . bonus sewing show-offery!

Check out these cool pillows I made out of remnants! I just did a patchwork of fleece squares that I had laying around from having made a bunch of those tie-together fleece blankets, and then I made the back out of some t-shirt knit material I had left over from making infinity scarves for Christmas. (Thank you, Pinterest!) Then I basically just sewed them together the same way I did the baby blankets, only I stuffed them with fiber-fill first before I sewed them up and did the trim.

Fun.  Cute.  Easy!

One Step Back

Alas, The Boy caught the flu last week. Then The Working Dad caught a stomach virus over the weekend. And now, The Working Mom finds herself down with a sore throat and general exhaustion. (The Working Mom, therefore, is not working today, but taking a rest.)

All this is to say that the New Years Eve Eve Resolution sort of went out the window last week as quickly as it had flown in a week before. Gained back two pounds...sigh...and feel generally bloaty.

Still, set backs happen. This is not failure. And tomorrow, I will climb back up on that exercise bike and recommence. I've got sparkley, new nail polish that Santa left in my stocking that is destined to become my 10 pound milestone pedi. Onward and upward, friends.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Getting Your Girl

Several months ago, I read an article on about parents who were visiting reproductive endocrinologists in order to do genetic testing, and other manipulations, to ensure they would get a girl baby.

I have more than one friend who has confessed initial disappointment that their baby-to-come would be a boy. So I know there's the possibility for sex preference out there. For me, I was just so relieved to hear that the amniocentesis report said that the baby was healthy I honestly did not care whether he was a boy or a girl. But I know that lots of people do care, at least initially. As the character, Brian, on The New Normal said in a recent episode, "Everyone has a preference."

But I know that the preference is typically fleeting because those friends who have confessed initial disappointment at finding out that they were having a boy also disclosed that they soon came to love the idea of a son. And, this is even true for a friend with multiple sons and no daughters. She may have hoped for a girl, but she is content with, and happy with, boys.

The Slate article describes that these women dream of sharing their girl-stuff -- like shopping and clothes and crafts and dolls -- with daughters, so much so that they consider aborting male fetuses. First, I reject the notion that boys can't go shopping or do crafts or play with dolls. (Just asked my brother who played a lot of Barbies with me 30+ years ago.)

And second, honestly, at times, it seems like a reporter in search of a trend piece, and not a real trend. But then the tales have wafted across the Pacific for decades of the Chinese preference for boys and selective abortion of female fetuses that the story sounds a note of truth. And I wonder about the psychology of someone who would reject a child based upon gender.

I love that reproductive endocrinology exists. Without this miracle science, we would not have The Boy. I also love that genetic screens like amniocentesis and preimplantation genetic diagnosis exist. They give parents peace of mind, or at least allow them to prepare in advance for problems if they are detected. (And yes, the opportunity for early termination, if that is their choice.)

But there is something very unsettling about using these technologies just so mommy can have a tea party with her little girl. I mean, honestly, grow up. To the extent people are really even doing this, they are manipulating nature for the trivial opportunity to put bows in their children's hair. In reading the article, I silently wished tomboys on the lot of them.

Now, excuse me, I have to go play race cars, now, and feed crackers to the teddy bears.

Friday, January 4, 2013

The MILF Project Redux Status Report

So MILF, you may recall, I redefined as "Muscle Isn't Like Fat" back in July, when all was new and hopeful and I'd just started working out with a trainer and had not yet attempted a middle-aged cartwheel.... The MILF Project is my ongoing attempt to lose the baby and reproductive endocrinology weight. (Of course, the American Pie definition of the acronym might also be apt, but this is a PG-13 operation.)

I'm on Day 5 of my New Years Eve Eve Resolution and I thought it might be helpful to my progress if I did occasional status reports of my successes, failures and general progress. Keeps me accountable to make an occasional public confession.

So exercise-wise, I've done pretty well: I've done 30 minutes on the stationary bike and 15 minutes of weights and abs Monday through Thursday of this week. My goal was five days of at least 30 minutes of exercise a week, so I'm on my way to making that happen.

Sleep: check. We've been getting to bed before 10:30 every night this week. (Heck, last night, we were in bed just after 9!) Some nights, we read or play Words With Friends past 10:30 (totally old married coupledom), but at least we're in bed and can just lay the iPad down and go to sleep when we start getting drowsy.

Now, the food thing...yes, there have been downfalls...chicken fried steak, ice cream, a few other sweets, champagne...a beer (with lemon, yum!).... But I'm doing better making generally healthier choices. And I've also been eating less meat. I have flirted with vegetarianism at many times during my life, mainly because if I think about what the meat used to be, it makes me sad. (Except for fish and shellfish...they're just not cuddly enough to draw my sympathy. Sorry, tunas, clams and lobsters of the world!) Plus, any observation of what goes on in the meat industry is enough to turn anyone's stomach. I probably will never be completely meatless, but I would like my diet to be "meat less." And I feel good (physically, but ethically too) this week having consumed less flesh than last week.

So the net result so far: I've lost 4 pounds! I know it's "water weight," but weight is weight and, heck!, that means I'm 40% of the way to my first pedicure! Woo hoo! Happy weekend, friends!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Secret, Inner Life of a Toddler

I've actually thought about this subject since the day The Boy was born. What goes on in his head? What is he thinking? What makes him tick?

I wonder if we really think about the personhood of the child we're making when we undertake to make a new person. It's crazy, isn't it? We decide we want "a baby." But what we've made is a person. That person thinks, reacts, feels, analyzes, daydreams, supposes, assumes, wonders, hopes, and fears all separately from us, outside of our control.

I find it a little unsettling . . . because I know that some of the things that happen in my head can be dark and scary. I don't want that for The Boy.

But then, yes, I do . . . Because I want him to be a person, a great person. And that's what happens in the heads of even the greatest among us, sometimes dark and scary things.

Too, I may be upended a bit by the notion that this little body who was, not so long ago, a part of my own, is so separate and distinct, independent and decisive. Once, I made every decision for the two of us, when we were one. But even now, at age 22 months, that's not true.

His brain is magnificent. Although he cannot form real sentences yet (oh, they're just almost there), he understand everything he hears. He sometimes gets our joked . . . he makes his own jokes. He understands what goes with what and where. He has preferences. Recently, he asked (in his toddler way) to have a picture of himself and his three-year-old cousin in his room.

If I can see all of that (and more) going on, what else is also going on? I want to know everything he thinks. And that's the heartbreak. I can't know. He's not 100% mine anymore, not even now. He is so much his own person, and I can only know that part of him that he will allow me to see. Every person has his or her secret place where no one else can enter, even my sweet little boy.

Simple Sew Together Fleece Baby Blanket

I made a blanket for my nephew-to-be for Christmas. (Thus, I have waited until after Christmas to do this post so as not to ruin the surprise.) I have made a lot of those tie-together fleece blankets in my day, and they look great! But I end up getting blisters on my fingers from tying all those knots, and they seem to take forever.

So I decided to try my hand at sewing a fleece blanket instead. This one you see below (my nephew's) is actually the second one I've sewn, the first one being for my son. I find that the blanket comes together in about two hours and looks quite neat.  It's nothing but simple straight stitching and turning right-angle corners, which is right up my novice seamstress street.

So, here we go!

Step One: Buy two pieces of fleece. You can get whatever size you want for your blanket, but I get two yards of 60 inch fleece. This makes a nice sized blanket big enough to make a pallet on the floor, and it will still be a good size for a bigger kid to cuddle in later on. I chose a pattern and a solid color for my fleece.

Step Two: Cut off the selvedge edge from each piece.

Step Three: Pin the two pieces together with the "right" sides together.

Step Four: Sew the two pieces together, leaving a six to eight inch opening in the seam.

Step Five: Clip squares out of the corners. Be sure not to cut too close to (or through) your seam.

Step Six: Turn your blanket inside out. Be sure to push your corners out so that they're clean and "pointy."

Step Seven: Turn the edges of your opening in and begin sewing around the blanket on the outside, leaving about an inch of an edge. This does two things. It closes the hole where you turned the blanked inside out, and it creates an instant trim edge.

That's it! You're done! Happy sewing and happy new year!