Thursday, September 22, 2005

Weinman and Weiner

Sarah Weinman interviews Jennifer Weiner and gives us a sneak peek at Weiner's new novel, Goodnight Nobody, in Weinman's article Magical Mystery Tour. I can't wait to get my hands on this book. And you mommies and daddies out there get the title reference, right?

These two paragraphs from the article caught me off guard, though:

"I wanted to capture a sense of how women deal with the internalized pressure of motherhood," said Weiner. "Here are these high achievers, high-performing women who are suddenly raising kids and, even though it's the 'best job ever,' feel like they failed to raise them right. So many mothers, and great ones, spend their time living inside their heads, thinking about what's wrong with them."
Yes, I agree with her assessment above. The article continues:

These pressures, she explained, have changed considerably from her childhood years. "When my brothers and sisters and I were growing up, my mom had a playpen full of toys she stuck us into — which you just can't do anymore. You can't just leave the kid in there and go watch TV or do your thing. But every time I tried to explain this to her, she wouldn't get it. The standards are so different now."
Now, I don't put my children in a playpen to go watch TV, but I do have to "do my own thing" occasionally. So I do have a playpen full of toys for AC (6m), and an exersaucer for her to sit and jump in while sucking the funny doggy-clown on a stick. I sure hope mothers today don't feel like they can't leave their children alone to amuse themselves for more than the time it takes to run to the potty--I mean, bathroom--after which they go scoop them back up and continue their guided video viewing or craft time. I spend lots of one-on-one time with each of my children. But I also insist that they have alone time, and that I have alone time, too. My friends struggle with this very issue, and, while I agree with Weiner that "the standards are different now," I don't think "you just can't [use the playpen] anymore." God help me if this were the case.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Cuddle No More

My 6mo daughter has just passed the cuddly stage into the boa constrictor stage. You know, the snake where you succeed in getting one part of it to stop strangling your neck, when you realize that another part of it is just about to smash your left kidney? I think AC has as many hands as Shiva. [Stopping to google how many that is, exactly. Oh, only four. Well, that's four too many on my girl.] She will clutch my hair right at the roots and tighten her fist while her two bottom teeth dig into my neck. Then just for fun, she lands a knee to my boob. Aaaah, what source of pain to address first? Any attempt to stop one mishap leads to the others being far more dire due to her displeasure at being thwarted.

I'm afraid the girl's gonna be a hellion. The teachers at N's daycare must assume I have a cat at home. I don't. I have a daughter whose pasttime while nursing is using her wolverine nails to prepare my forearms for fall planting. This afternoon she launched herself over the side of our bed. Luckily, I had her legs in my hands, so I held on tight. She hung there a moment, inches from the wood floor and staring into the dust ruffle, because I wanted her to get good and scared and maybe not do that again. She laughed. I cried. I think it's time to break out the bubble wrap jumpsuits, for both of us. Marshmallow helmets might also be a good idea.

Hurricane Rita

All I can say is, holy shit. It's Category 4 now.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Tuesday is for Catch-up

N (2) goes to daycare on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so that leaves AC and me here to get everything done we possibly can before the chaos begins again in the afternoon. I run errands, make phone calls, cook, clean, write, and dream. AC usually eats, plays, screams, and sleeps. This morning she went to the pediatrician for her six month checkup. She is a long thing, 28" inches, and of middling weight, 15lbs 11oz. She still has a honking umbilical hernia and now what is probably a fatty cyst behind her right ear. When we see the surgeon in six months so she can recheck the hernia, we will have her check out the cyst too. We will start feeding AC solid food tonight, if you can call runny rice cereal mixed with breastmilk "solid." Baby cereal requires that I begin pumping milk again, which I should've been doing for the last few weeks. Instead, I've just left off pumping altogether since we never go out without AC or for more than two or three hours. I have no freezer stash, which is pretty dangerous.

Because I need to start pumping again, my grand plan to clean off my writing desk has been dashed, since it has also been my pumping desk. My Medela Pump in Style backpack and all my cords and tubes and holders and wipey cloths (what we call thin white cloth diapers 'round here) are taking up most of the middle of the desk. On all sides are reading material for those treasured few minutes when I am able to hold the flanges onto my breasts with one hand/arm and hold a book with the other. At the moment, Lansky's Toilet Training is on one side, Highsmith's Plotting and Writing Suspense Fiction on the other. The real thriller around here is figuring out how soon to move N from diaper to potty. Since AC arrived, I've been doing all my writing in the kitchen. Or the bedroom. The living room works, too.

Somewhere under all this crap are some treasures: a printer, a brass piano lamp, and a wire bin with my early novel notes from long ago and far away. These are notes I don't even need anymore, since I've started back from square one with the novel. Eighty pages of manuscript sit somewhere in that bin, along with varied observations and questions that I need to go back and look at someday soon. It may be good! My suspicion, though, is that it is not. Most of it was written in hotel cafes in, sequentially, Madrid, Sevilla, and Granada, when I should've been taking my siesta along with the rest of the country. Instead I was the dotty tourist demanding that the staff dirty up the espresso machine at the wrong hour. All in all, I was pretty productive those three weeks in 1999. No kids or husband at that time, just a wonderful mother to traipse with and--yes, I am blessed--foot the bills.

Now, I'm productive in a different way, considering the phrase "footloose and fancy free" must never again be spoken in my home. I'm working on the same novel, but from a different place, in more ways than one. And even though some weeks I can't eke out 500 words, I am driven to finish it. I wish I were as driven to artificially extract my breastmilk as I am to write this book. One thing that probably keeps me hooked, the boobs in the book sure as hell aren't for babies.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Throwing Things Away Day

Well, as Throw Nothing Away Day approaches (Oct. 1), I watched myself today, consuming and tossing. Here's what went in the can:

  • Lint and floor crap, including feathers from the duster, little pieces from the holes of plastic garbage bags, tiny balls of paper from peeled stickers, courtesy N (2y), etc. This stuff gets tossed when I do my weekly (I use that term loosely) house cleaning. There's no way I'd recycle it, by the way. I do shake my feather dusters outside, though, so the birds and rodents have a stab at using the lint for their nests. I guess I could collect the lint and give it to the woods behind the house.
  • Three dryer sheets. I use unscented ones, but I know that doesn't make them any better for the environment. I don't use them in every dryer load (and never in the kids' clothes), though, only the ones that have polyester clothing that could be static-y.
  • Cardboard graham cracker box. You know, I think we have paperboard recycling around here. I'm going to look into that. We do use lots of carboard boxed food (cereal, crackers, cookies, etc.).
  • Hair. I am six months postpartum, and I am still shedding like a sick dog. And I have long hair, which makes it a particular mess. (Speaking of which, I need to clean out the vacuum beater bar before I finish the floors today.) With all my hair loss this year I could've knit a fine sweater for someone. A small someone, mind you. Maybe I can give my hair to the birds! [I know what you're thinking: how much landfill space do LINT and HAIR take up, woman? Are you nuts? Answer: partly nuts, yes. But also partly just thinking out loud about ways things in our environment go around and come around.]
  • Dirty diapers. Hmmm, this one's a stinker. Had to say that. I have plenty of cloth diapers and covers and liners, but with two kiddos pre-potty-trained, I am in no mood to go back to that way of life, which was barely manageable with only one bottom to clothe. Did you know that disposable diaper manufacturers actually tell you to flush the poo before you dispose of the diaper? Reason being, we are not supposed to put human byproducts in the landfills. Does anyone out there follow this guideline? I confess that I do not, but maybe I'll try it for TNAD on Oct. 1. Couldn't hurt, right?
  • I didn't throw this away, but I almost bought it until I thought about it some more: Sorrento Shapesters cheese snacks. I have three $2 off coupons for the stupid things, and I got all excited about that because N loves cheese. But I studied the package and saw that all the little cheese shapes inside are individually wrapped in plastic. Now, I love me a good coupon, but that was the saddest waste I've ever seen. So, I returned to our usual Sargento cheese shapes, which are on sale for $2 a bag, only slightly more expensive than the similarly named product minus discount noted above. And no extra packaging. If a kid needs to take some to school, then put them in a reusable rubbermaid container for goodness sakes!

It's only 5:00pm, so there'll be casting away galore as I prepare everyone's dinners and tidy up after. Right now, I'm going to the coffee shop for an hour, and I will have my decaf in a mug as I always do, but I also tend to grab a couple of paper napkins while I'm there. Why can't people just grab one napkin when they're at a cafe or restaurant? I'll endeavor to try that today. D has been in charge of the kid care today (except for the few diapers I've changed and the constant nursing of AC I've seemed to do), and I have seen him pitch a few American cheese wrappers (we could buy it sliced fresh from the deli, but it would cost more) and paper towels.

That's the report for this Sunday, September 18. Good day, and good garbage.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Laughter, at last, and Eggplant

Something finally made me giggle tonight. It's about damn time. D and I get season opera tickets every year to Opera Delaware (the cheap night), and I was just reading the synopses of this season's operas: Rigoletto, Pirates of Penzance, and Don Giovanni. I've never seen any Gilbert and Sullivan (except for what was included in Topsy-Turvy), so didn't know what to expect, but so far I am pleasantly surprised at what looks to be a perfectly silly story. Premise: a nursemaid apprentices her charge to a PIRATE instead of a PILOT. (She's a bit deaf.) And the agreement is that he's indentured until his 21st birthday, but darned if he wasn't born on LEAP DAY. Hilarity ensues.

In other news, I am sad that I finished off the last of the caponata tonight. I am up to my ears in organic eggplant from the farm, hence we've recently enjoyed eggplant lasagne, ratatouille, and now caponata. I'm going to have to steam and freeze some more fruits tomorrow or we will lose several pounds to over-ripening. I'm also going to make eggplant parmigiana tomorrow, as I have been craving that mightily but do not have time on weeknights to assemble it. Caponata is easy (except all the chopping) and versatile. There are endless variations, but here's what I threw together, based on what was on hand. You can put it on toast (bruschetta), pasta, rice, eat it out of the bowl, or whatever seems appropriate. You can make it saucier than I did by adding more tomatoes or tomato sauce. I like it more salad-y. You can also add fennel, basil, and/or parsley for varied flavor. Oh yeah, some people put bell peppers in it, too. I was fresh out, though.

about 2lbs. diced, drained eggplant
one finely chopped onion
three ribs finely chopped celery
two cloves garlic, minced
half cup golden raisins, soaked in a 2-3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
two-ish Tablespoons little capers, chopped
two plum tomatoes, chopped
about 1/2c tomato sauce
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
about 1/4c toasted pignoli
about 1/4c olive oil
black pepper
salt to taste
Saute the eggplant in the olive oil until it soaks it all up and softens (5m). Add everything else but the pignoli (including the vinegar you soaked the raisins in), and saute for about 15m. Adjust the moisture content as needed with tomatoes/sauce, depending on how dry you want it. Add the pignoli at the end, then plenty of black pepper and salt to taste. Let it chill for at least five or six hours, preferably overnight to marry the flavors. I've eaten it for lunch on toasted Italian bread every day for the past five days. I'm sorry it's gone.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Diving Back into the Wreck

(sorry Adrienne)
I guess the only thing to it is to do it and get back on the blogginghorse. However, today, I wish to point your attention elsewhere, to a grand announcement on a blogspot page. It's not really a blog, though, but because blogs come free and readymade, and good looking sites do not, its author chose to make do with Mr. Mojo Chicklet or whatever that darn free template is called. Take a looksee:


October 1.
Click it and read, and then please tell five friends.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Blog on Hiatus

I've begun a few posts over the last few days but have had to abandon them all. I just don't feel comfortable in the midst of this tragedy we're going through. Maybe my feelings are too raw to polish for public consumption, even my feelings about fast food (last night's blog attempt) and my 5mo's drool strings (a few nights back). So, I'm going on hiatus for a while. Everybody love one another, okay?

Here are some animal charity links, which the FEMA site ignored:
American Humane Association
American Kennel Club & Companion Animal Recovery
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
North Shore Animal League of America
Humane Society of the United States
PETsMART Charities
United Animal Nations