Saturday, January 29, 2011


Baby W has stopped sucking his thumb, a disaster that ranks below the Holocaust in magnitude but somewhere above the Hindenburg. Without his thumb, he needs the nipple to get back to sleep, which has the two-fold effect of (a) keeping me up all night and (b) contributing to the Yellow Tsunami, the tidal wave of urine that bursts through any overnight diaper he wears, soaking him, the bed, and me.

If Baby W was a superhero and needed a superpower, diaper-busting would definitely be his niche. Let's say the bad guy put some giant Huggies on the Great Lakes and was drying up our drinking supply. "KID YELLO," as he would be called, would simply let fly with his own major tributary, overloading the bad guy's absorbency system and saving the day, although Lake Michigan might smell a little off afterwards. I would definitely not recommend going swimming in that water.

I got so desperate to not wake up next to a urine-soaked baby that I actually put two disposable diapers on him the other night, one on top of each other. We normally use cloth diapers, and when I do use a disposable diaper, I am always amazed by the elaborate engineering that goes into each diaper. These diapers have gussets, mini-velcro that's soft to the touch, an expandable waistline, etc. Still, all that American ingenuity and a double-layer of diapers proved no match for KID YELLO and he woke up in a puddle.

Maybe Baby W thinks that soaking the bed is his constitutional right. Perhaps -- and I'm no constitutional scholar but I can see how this might work -- the Second Amendment could be broadly interpreted to mean that Baby W has the right to bear the only weapon to which he has access right now. His right to soak the bed is critical to "a well-regulated militia," and if somebody broke into our house then I would be mighty glad to have  Baby W on hand who could defend our homestead by getting the assaulter's shirt all grody. I'll get him a bumper sticker that says "Urine streams like firehoses don't soak the bed; babies soak the bed."

I'm not sure what the next step is for trying to keep the bed and Baby W's clothes dry at night. I might go with a large plastic bag, which I would place around his entire body leaving only his head out. Then I would take a twistie-tie and very gently fasten the bag around his neck, thereby containing the effluvia. In the morning I would throw away the bag, rinse him off, and we'd be set to go!

Or -- since I've been learning to sew -- perhaps I could sew a bunting for him made entirely out of disposable diapers. Then he would have absorbency all over his body, which apparently he needs. Maybe KID YELLO has developed the super-ability to emit urine from other parts of his body as a defense mechanism, sort of like those lizards that squirt blood from their eyes to scare off predators.

All I know is that mornings are kind of smelly around here. I'd like to change that, but I feel like I've run through most of my available options without finding a solution that works. And if I try anything else, I might get some pushback from Baby W. He's started wearing a onesie that says, "When Urine Output Measured in Gallons is Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Have Urine Output Measured in Gallons."

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Go Pack! Now that the Packers are headed to the Super Bowl, I figure it's juuuust about time for me to jump on the bandwagon, although I certainly don't want to rush into anything. We watched the game up in Appleton at David's parents house, or rather I should say David poured his heart and soul and every joule of emotional energy he possessed into focusing on the game with laser-like intensity, while I balanced him out by keeping only half an eye on the tv and after a big play asking which side had hit a home run.

I love how the networks show a digital yellow line on the field to show where the first down is, because it makes it easier for people like me who don't know much about football to understand what's going on. I can think of several additional improvements to the game that would further improve the experience for casual observers. Sometimes it's tough to visually follow where the football is actually going, so I think it would be helpful to have a small but powerful LED light on the football. The power could be supplied by the Detroit Lions pedaling furiously on stationary bicycles on the sidelines, since they're in little danger of actually needing to play football.

Also, to help people like me understand field position, perhaps the games could utilize a color-coded alert system like Homeland Security, except the system would alert us to the likelihood of an impending score rather than a terrorist attack. For example, the alert level is yellow if the team is inside the 30 yard mark, and it rises to orange if they pass the 20 yard mark. If the alert level rises to red then all the pads and helmets would have to go through the x-ray machine and coaches could bring only one small carry-on with no liquid gatorade.

Also, I think all the defensive linemen should wear tutus, because holy cow do those people need to get in touch with their feminine side.

When the Packers last went to the Superbowl (and lost to the Broncos) I watched the game with a bunch of other point-headed non-Cheesehead native students in my graduate school program, and I remember afterwards one of my colleagues saying, "Oh well, John Elway was retiring so it was nice for him to win, and anyway the Packers won last year." Even as un-invested as I was in the Packers winning, her non-competitive attitude shocked me a little, but maybe that's another good way to tweak the games to make them attractive to a wider audience -- decide the winner based on which team deserves it more. And now that we have a quarterback who is able to refrain from making smooth romantic moves like faxing a copy of his sweaty jock strap to his latest favorite lovely lady -- unlike SOME recent Packer quarterbacks we've had -- the Packers would be a shoo-in to win the Super Bowl.

You know what misbehaving Packer I miss? Najeh Davenport, whose full name according to Wikipedia is Najeh Trenadious Monte Davenport. My own name is pretty fancy, so I'm not one to make fun of unusual names. Still, it's a bit strange how his first three names sound like they're taken from the lineage of Ethiopian kings but his last name is a city in Iowa. He could name his kid Ignatius Abdikarim Chinouyazue Cedar Rapids.

Anyway, Mr. Sioux City at one point broke into the dorm room of a woman, where he hid in a wardrobe and and defecated in the laundry basket. I don't know what drug is is that makes you mix up a laundry basket and a toilet bowl, but whatever it is, Najeh had easy access to it. According to Wikipedia, this earned him the nickname of "Dump Truck," although at our house we had a different name for him. It always cracked me up when he would make a particularly good play and David would yell, "Go, Closet Crapper, go!"

Najeh Davenport doesn't play for the Packers anymore, and I couldn't really tell from the Wikipedia article whether he is still playing football. I know one place to look for him: on the sidelines with the Detroit Lions, pedaling furiously away.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


One of my goals for 2011 is to be able to do a pull-up. This was also one of my goals for 2009, so back then I bought a pull-up bar and installed it in a basement doorway. I thought that would do the trick, but nothing happened and nothing happened, and I slowly came to the conclusion that I needed to actually do some strength exercises on the bar in order to make progress. Whatever. The package the bar came in conveniently omitted mentioning that actual effort was required.

I did make progress towards doing a pull-up in 2009, but then I got pregnant, and my upper body strength gain was exponentially outpaced by my lower body weight gain. I gain a lot of weight when I am pregnant -- my hormones take a look at the 25-30 lb weight gain recommended for most women and fall over laughing. As my ob/gyn said to me when I was pregnant with Stella -- "Excellent job gaining weight; stop any time." But I think the weight gain was justified, particularly since I give birth to newborns that are nearly 6 ft tall and rival BJ Raji in girth. (Sorry! Even I can't completely block the Packers out of my consciousness.)

Since having a baby in 2010, I have largely ignored the pull-up bar. I've encouraged David to use it to strengthen his upper body, but instead he's chosen to use it to leave bar-shaped bruises on his forehead when he walks through the doorway and forgets the bar is there. What can I say, he's kind of a fitness nut.

Actually, David has dropped 30 lbs over the last three years and has gone from a 36 inch waist in his jeans to 34 inch, so he is kind of turning into a fitness nut. He also changed his diet so that he actually eats vegetables occasionally. I still can't get him to eat wheat berries, but I haven't given up yet. (Or quinoa. I my book, if you eat either one voluntarily, then you ought to get a free pass on your metabolic profile. Either that or you can stop flossing.) I've warned him that getting all svelte is going to cause more and more women in bars to hit on him, but strangely that doesn't seem to be acting as a significant disincentive.

Anyway, I'm revisiting the pull-up bar, although it's hard to see progress. So far I've improved from doing 0.0000001% of a pull-up to being able to do 0.0000002% of one (if I kick my legs). Meanwhile my lats are extremely sore and unhappy, so much so that they are considering seceding from my actual body. I'm not going to let them go without a fight. The rest of my body will be like the North, the pull-up bar is like Ft. Sumter, and 150 years from now my lats can fly their flag on the back of their pickup truck and claim that the flag represents "lat pride" and is not any reference to their anti-bicep past.

So hopefully 2011 will be the year of the pull-up. I know it's going to take some work, but I'm ready for a new fitness goal. I'm looking forward to a stronger upper body, more defined back muscles, and these sense of accomplishment that comes with achieving something difficult. Also, I'm looking forward to getting hit on by more and more women in bars.

Friday, January 21, 2011


I got up early this morning to go running, but my usual running partners bailed when they saw the -7 air temperature and -20 windchill. They said something about wanting to make sure their lungs didn't freeze and then shatter into a million tiny pink pieces which they would then cough out over the bike path. Just one more example of how Americans have become soft! I'm sure right this minute there's a whole herd of Chinese runners who would run in -50 temps for half the price, and be thankful for the opportunity. Clearly, we need tax cuts for the rich in order to help American runners be more competitive.

So I am skipping running this morning too, although I still plan to bike into work. I suit up warmly for the ride into work, leaving only my eyes exposed. Today it's so cold that I'm a little worried the liquid in my eyeballs might freeze, locking my irises into the straight-ahead position. But frozen eyeballs will not dissuade me, especially because I know there's a Chinese tricycle rider who would gladly take my position.

I have some extra time this morning since I am not going running, and I might get out the sewing machine and try to finish a skirt I started. For some reason, I decided I wanted to learn to sew, and it has not been an easy path. I think this is because I have difficulty with spatial visualizations. This is also why I am not a civil engineer. If I ever built a bridge the girders would have a definite list to the side and I would do a lot of muttering under my breath about how the spans were good enough and I was definitely not ripping them out and rebuilding them. By the way, I told a bobbin to go fuck itself the other day.

(Stella is learning to read, and we are practicing consonant combinations. "S plus H makes a 'sh' sound," I said. What words start with 'sh'?" "Shit," said Stella, for which I am blaming both Isaac Singer and that trouble-making bobbin.)

I thought it might be fun to sew myself a couple cute skirts in bright colors, pair them with t-shirts, and have a ready-made wardrobe for home or work. It's slow going, very slow going -- but I'm making progress, and I'm sure all the other residents in my assisted living facility will be envious when I finish.

I haven't had much time to improve my sewing skills recently, in part because Baby W has been a little fussy. It might be teething -- or it could be that he harbors deep reservations about the impact the recent election will have on Wisconsin state fiscal policy and perpetuation of the state's structural deficit. I keep telling him that the voters have spoken, but he will have none of it. We are going to have a seriously crabby toddler on our hands in 2012 when Sarah Palin becomes president. Baby W has a big incentive not to get too crabby, though -- he knows there are a thousand Chinese babies who would happily take his job.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Stella has a loose tooth! It's wiggling around in there and barely hanging on. I can't believe she's big enough to lose a tooth. Just for the record, this does not mean I am old.

I think Stella should give her tooth to Baby W has he has hardly any, and the ones he does have seem to cause him pain. I could just superglue Stella's tooth onto his gums, he wouldn't have to grow any more teeth, and we'd all be happier. It would be like recycling. As it is, what am I going to do with the actual tooth once it falls out? Compost it?

The loose tooth seems to be painful for Stella, so painful in fact that it prohibits her from being able to help take a bath or clean up her toys. This is a seriously painful tooth. The tooth is going to be a problem, because there's going to be a lot of picking up toys, since I have decided that I need to vacuum the living room and dining room of our house nearly every day to prevent Baby W from finding delicious bits of crunk that he specializes in ingesting. (I'm not proud of it, but last night I set Baby W under the dining room table, pointed out all the bits of grated cheese that Stella had accidentally knocked to the floor during dinner, and told him to go for it.)

Stephen Hawking could refine
his theories after doing a little
vacuuming at my house.
I realize our floor is going to get dirty quickly because we have a small house -- such is the trade-off for living centrally -- but I'm still amazed at how much dirt can accumulate in 24 hours. Sooner or later all the dirt in the city, then the state is going to find its way onto my floor, and the way things are going eventually all the matter in the universe will wind up in my vacuum bag and then the space-time continuum will turn itself inside out inside my Eureka SmartVac. Be warned, that will probably happen by the end of the month so you might want to hold off on February's mortgage payment.

Back to pain: I think little kids have a different level of pain tolerance. I remember getting my first flu shot as an adult and bracing for what I assumed was severe pain based on Stella's reaction to her vaccines. Pshhhh. Little kids are total, like, babies when it comes to shots. We have some Percoset hanging around the house left over from Baby W's c-section birth -- maybe I could give Stella one of those for tooth-related pain.

The Percoset is handy to have around for the two days a year when one of us pulls a muscle, but there are some drawbacks to having it in our medicine cabinet. We had a house guest who had a weakness for recreational use of painkillers, so before the guest arrived, David told me he had hidden the Percoset somewhere so as to not be a temptation. The thing was, he couldn't remember where he had put it. Six months later, I was down to my very last pair of underwear and I found the bottle of pills in the bottom of my underwear drawer. David said, "Oh, that's right! I remember thinking that if he found the pills in here, we'd have several problems on our hands, the least of which would be the pills."

They are selling Viagra pens
on eBay! If only I had
kept mine in mind condition,
I could have been a
$2.25-aire by now.
The house guest, by the way, was one of David's friends. My guests are considerably less likely to engage in drug-seeking behavior. In fact, just the reverse. My mother, who is a nurse practitioner, has long been a great source for us to get drug samples or other drug company giveaways, and until recently whenever she would visit, she would ask us beforehand what we would find useful for her to bring when she came. It was like a drug Christmas! However, her clinic recently implemented ethics guidelines that prohibits the practitioners there from accepting any freebies from pharmaceutical companies. Bummer, but on the other hand David is relieved that this means we no longer get ball-point pens emblazoned with the Viagra logo.

The Percoset is getting pretty old now, and I should probably get rid of it. I know that in theory I'm supposed to take the pills to the city's medication drop-off site, but that seems like a lot of work. There ought to be some way I can take care of the medication here at home in an environmentally friendly way, but I know I'm not supposed to throw them in the trash and definitely not flush them down the toilet. I know! I'll compost them.

Saturday, January 15, 2011


I bought tickets for the kids and I to go to New Zealand to visit my father. Getting there is going to be quite an adventure. The good news is that unlike domestic airlines, Air New Zealand really knows how to treat travelers. Their planes have on-demand movies, decent food, extra legroom, hot towels at dawn, and flight attendants who walk up and down the aisles silently all night with bottles of red and white wine, ready to pour you as much as you would like for free. I'm thinking I might make heavy use of that last amenity on this trip. For me AND the kids.

The Maori word for New Zealand
is Aotearoa, which translates as
Christ, this country is a long
ways from, like, anywhere.
Last time I flew back from New Zealand I was by myself, and I so thoroughly enjoyed the Air New Zealand treatment that about the time they started handing out ice cream bars I remember thinking hey, let's skip this pesky landing business and just keep on flying right past Los Angeles. It was like a spa, only no eucalyptus shower. And, to be honest, the mani-pedi I got on board flaked right off.

Even though he does not get a seat, Baby W has to pay something like $150 to get aboard the plane, which seems a little unfair. I'm going to make sure we get our money's worth by asking Baby W to wail a solid 3 or 4 hours in the middle of the trip. Also, I'm ordering TWO ice cream bars for him.

Actually, Baby W is an excellent long-distance traveler, just as Stella is. So far in his nine months on the outside, he's been to Washington DC twice, Pennsylvania three times, Seattle, Portland, Nebraska, and Iowa. On one of those flights, a neighboring traveler rolled his eyes and said it was just his luck to sit close to a baby and hopefully there would be no crying. Let me tell you something, buddy, these kids aren't so wide they take up all their seat and half of yours. They won't insist on trying to chat despite your repeated, increasingly insistent remarks about how interesting, no, downright fascinating your book is. And they won't get drunk on tiny $7 bottles of wine and sloppily hit on you. I think there ought to be a frickin' stampede to sit next to my kids.

I'm sorry to say the number of sheep
in NZ totally confirms stereotypes.
Also, the whole damn country
is full of hobbits.
Buying this ticket to New Zealand required the equivalent of a supercomputer to run all the possibilities. I had some limited dates to chose from based on my work schedule, and the online travel sites kept trying to force me to buy a ticket with a stop in Fiji or Hawaii, rather than allowing a direct West Coast - NZ flight. It feels strange how much work I put in to avoid stopping in those tropical paradises. Please, PLEASE don't force me to visit Honolulu! I'll pay several hundred additional dollars to avoid going to Fiji!

Buying a ticket got so complicated I gave in and actually called a travel agent at AAA, one of the three or so remaining travel agents working in the industry. She tried to dissuade me from using her services by stressing heavily that they charged $30 to ticket, and when I said that was okay, she sighed heavily and didn't get back to me until 48 hours later -- and then it was to tell me that due to the long weekend she wouldn't be getting back to me with ticket possibilities for another four or five days. I would have thought travel agents were so desperate for business they'd be out buttonholing people at the supermarket who look like they could use a cruise, but apparently they're too busy leafing through their printed copy, no wait -- mimeographed copy -- of the airline pricing schedule to deal with actual customers.

I wound up buying my own ticket and I'm starting to get excited about going to New Zealand despite my ambivalence about the travel to get there. We'll go to the beach, enjoy the beautiful weather, hit the local tourist traps, and see lots of sheep. Then all too soon it will be time to get on the airplane and return home. That's okay, because I have a plan for the return flight home: I'm getting my eyebrows done.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


I have done a lot of bragging about my Amazing Sleeping Baby, who is now rebelling against parental expectations by needing to nurse all night. I imagine the next step in his rebellion will be a teeny tiny eyebrow ring and a tattoo, although I would be okay with a tattoo so long as it said "Mom" in fancy cursive script with a heart around it.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.
I would have liked to put a picture
of kittens here instead, but kittens
have been cancelled due to
budget cuts.
The real way our kids could rebel is by becoming political conservatives, and Stella is already on her way. The other day she surprised me by declaring, "Daddy likes Scott Walker." Scott Walker is Wisconsin's new Republican governor, who has been in office less than two weeks and that time has already managed to xxxxxx, stop the zzzzzzI from mmmmmming and if that weren't enough, is proposing to xxxxxx the bzzzzzt!

Sorry -- I think I might have lost connection there for a bit since I tend to melt some wires when I think about this topic, although you may notice that I, unlike an unfortunately large number of activists to my political right, am able to refrain from using gun-related analogies when talking about politics.

Hearing that David liked our Republican governor was an unpleasant surprise akin to hearing about another woman in David's life. (Another Republican woman. One who says things like "If ballots don't work, bullets will.") I've had experience with this before, though. When we moved into our house many years ago, I mused about carving a heart with DH+TC into the tree in our new backyard. But, I joked, when David brought home another woman, she might not like to see the tree. David misheard me as saying his mother wouldn't like the carving, leading to the following conversation:
Me: We could carve our initials and a heart into a tree. But if you brought home another woman, she might not like it.
David: Aw, she's not so bad.
Me: No?
David: No, she wouldn't mind a bit.
Me: Uh -- she wouldn't?
David: I think you've gotten the wrong impression of her. 
Stella kept insisting that Daddy liked Scott Walker, and even more confusingly, that Daddy liked Scott Walker's music. Let me tell you, there is not going to be any stinkin' music with Governor Walker. All those kids in strings class add nothing to the state's business climate. In fact, little kids playing the violin might actively hurt the state's business climate -- all those parents forced to listen to out-of-tune performances then need time off work afterwards to recover, thereby having a negative effect on the state's productivity. Come to think of it, I might actually be in Governor Walker's corner on this one.

It turns out that Stella meant that David likes not Scott Walker but DOC WATSON, the 87-year old bluegrass songwriter, guitar player, and singer from North Carolina. Sure, he's easy to get confused with the 43-year old governor of Wisconsin. I bet there are mix ups all the time when they go to pick up prescriptions.

I've always wanted a water bed.
But not this kind.
So Stella's rebellion has been political, and Baby W's has been sleep-related. And now that he is up nursing all night, he swamps his diaper. This is unfortunately because he often sleeps with me, so I wind up sleeping in a wet spot the approximate size and volume of Lake Michigan, although without those pesky zebra mussels. It also means that I have two kids sleeping smack up against me all night, since Stella likes to sleep so close to me it seems like she's trying a science experiment to see if she can meld her DNA with mine. I like cuddling with the kids at night, but I do have fantasies of trying to sleep somewhere a little farther away from them, like maybe Alaska.

Despite the toll it takes on my sleep, I find it very sweet to sleep with both kids. While I do hope that Baby W begins sleeping better, I generally don't mind his rebellion against my parental expectations. If he really wants to rebel, the best way to hurt me would to get a tattoo of a heart, and in the middle put the name of the person he loves best: Scott Walker.

Sunday, January 9, 2011


Most of the time we do our grocery shopping at the small neighborhood store that is literally around the corner from our house. It's fast, it's convenient, it has the kind of yuppie-hippie food we like to buy, and it's comforting to know that in a bad snowstorm or god forbid some worse catastrophe, we would still be able to load up on the essentials, like duck fat.

But sometimes I go to the big-box grocery store, where I kick into super-human mode. I have put our typical grocery list into a spreadsheet organized by aisle, which means I can get in, drop $200, and have the groceries put away in 90 minutes, all with two kids. I am a grocery-shopping machine, focused like a laser, and yes,I do occasionally get elderly women stuck in the wheels my shopping cart as I zoom through the store, but you can't make an omelet without breaking eggs (which are in aisle 4). 

Now, the next thing we need is for
someone to invent
spray duck fat.
I'm bringing up grocery shopping because the last time I was in the big box store, my eye fell upon what can only be described as one more sign the end times are near, a category that was previously dominated by toilets in O'Hare that talk to you. My eye fell upon Batter Blaster, which is pancake batter in an aerosol can. Oh wait, I'm sorry -- organic pancake batter in an aerosol can. I think this product must be aimed at people too hung over to add water to pancake mix -- oh, wait, I'm sorry, organic pancake mix -- the old-fashioned way.

If Batter Blaster is indeed aimed at people with an alcohol problem, it makes sense to sell the product in Wisconsin. The alcohol consumption here is out of this world, and Wisconsin is ranked #1 for drunk driving among the states. That means that drunk drivers make up a valuable market component that has not been fully exploited by any food product, and maybe Batter Blaster should be the first. "Not sure how you got home last night? Worried about why the front passenger side of the car is caved in? Have a pancake -- an organic pancake -- from a pressurized can!"

I myself an am extreme lightweight when it comes to drinking, and yes, I do realize that this drags down our state average alcohol consumption and prevents Wisconsin from attaining true binge-drinking excellence. I am not fit to live within the state's borders. (Please don't make me move to Iowa. I'll make up for my teetolling ways by eating my weight in cheese.) The last time I had any significant amount of booze was when we went out to eat with another family, and I got a margarita. The result was that I was back home by 7 PM, drunk, with a kid in tow. Not exactly a party. Plus, Stella skunked me at Chutes & Ladders that night.

When I saw the pancake-batter-in-a-spray-can, my first thought was WHY DID I NOT SEE THIS BEFORE CHRISTMAS? This would have made my gift shopping so much easier! Nothing says holiday spirit like aersolized food product. (Er, organic aersolized food product.) I did consider buying a can for the novelty factor, although I wound up resisting. Probably due to all these elderly women stuck in my shopping cart wheels.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


See that guy in the green shorts?
I could totally beat him to the potty.
If I ever write a parenting book, I'd call it Get Ready, Get Set, Manipulate! How To Exploit Little Kids' Willingness to Believe Absolutely Anything. I calculate that we have "raced" Stella to the potty at least a thousand times, and darned if she hasn't won EVERY SINGLE TIME. She doesn't seem to think it's strange that my winning percentage is less than 0.1%. An adult would understand that even if you raced someone very fast, like Michael Vick, to the potty, at least 1 out of 1,000 times he'd have forgotten to take his steroids or need to go feed his dog or something, and you could edge him out. Stella, on the other hand, is going to think she is eligible to participate in the Olympic trials any day now, and ask officials if they could put a potty at the end of the track.

The other way we trick Stella into doing what we want is by making a big show out of mock-telling her NOT to do something, which is her cue to scurry to "disobey" us as fast as possible. This approach works great for now but I'm hoping that she wises up before adulthood. I can just see her standing in front of the judge, saying "But I thought that when the law said 'No Breaking and Entering,' that meant you wanted me to do that."

It also helps Stella complete certain tasks if I "forget" how to do something, like putting on my pants, then ask Stella to show me how. Of course, it also ensures that she thinks Mama's a buffoon who can't put on pants without daily coaching, but for now I'm willing to take one for the team.

On an aside, it used to take Stella eons to get dressed in the morning, which was the source of much conflict between us. Then the radiator in her room stopped working properly, making her room the coldest one in the house -- and in our house, that is really saying something. I haven't looked into fixing the radiator, because now she positively flings her clothes on and races out of her room to get to a warmer location. This reminds me of scientific experiments with earthworms that involve giving small electric shocks to direct the worms in certain directions, not that I am comparing Stella to an earthworm, although it would be nice to set up some sort of power field around Baby W so that she completed a circuit and got a mild bbbzzzzt! every time she bopped him on the head.

I also find it helpful to engage in what I refer to as Strategic Package Management, and before anyone starts making Beavis and Butthead laughs and saying "you said 'package management,'" let me explain what this means. Actually, first let me marvel that my spell-checker does not recognize the word "butthead." Butthead is most definitely a word, and if my spell-checker does not agree then that's going to be a problem, since I anticipate heavy personal usage of that word in the upcoming year given the results of the recent election.

Anyway, Strategic Package Management means that I squirreled away a Christmas present or two, to be brought out either at moments of international diplomatic crisis especially involving two nuclear nations such as India and Pakistan OR a temper tantrum, and in our household it does tend to be the latter. "Discovering" a new package cheers Stella right up, and maybe it would work for the leaders of India and Pakistan, who if my memory banks are accurate, are Gandhi and some guy named Tony. Strategic Package Management is a little bit like tithing, only instead of giving to the church, you contribute assets to appease the gods that govern a five-year-old's psyche.

The bottom line is that it takes a lot of effort to get little kids to do what you want while still maintaining peace in the household. All that cajoling and wheedling is a lot of work, especially for me -- I can't even put my pants on without help.

Sunday, January 2, 2011


Baby W has promised to enter
a 12-step program in 2011.
2010 was a big year. I had a baby, got a new job, started a blog, and learned to sew. Some of those accomplishments turned out better than others. For example, I have not had to rip out a seam on the baby. (Yet.)

Actually Baby W is just about perfect and so is Stella. This reminds me of when I was pregnant with Baby #1, when we decided to undertake a huge house construction project. Apparently the significant financial and emotional stress that comes along with having a baby just wasn't enough and we needed more, more, more! David was responsible for managing the construction and I was responsible for managing growing the baby, and after our respective projects were completed, I enjoyed pointing out to him that there weren't any tussles about what was and wasn't in the contract with MY PROJECT. Yes, my project came in late and I will admit it was significantly over budget, but all the parts worked perfectly, unlike the new overhead light in the bathroom which is definitely not centered.

In the last days of my pregnancy with Stella, our bathroom was torn up and accessible only by going up a flight of partially finished stairs. I didn't feel it was safe for me to be going up and down the stairs for my multiple middle of the night bathroom trips, so I set up a five gallon bucket in our bedroom that I emptied each morning. (If I ever inadvertently blow you off or hurt your feelings, you can get revenge by picturing me peeing in a white bucket at 9+ plus months pregnant.) But of course when labor started I didn't get a chance to empty the bucket, and the birth was complicated which meant David didn't return home for several days. As a result, we brought our new baby home to a house reeking to the rafters of urine. To this day, David and I still have construction-related trauma to the point where any small house project sets off our PTSD. Even changing a light bulb brings on the shakes and bad flashbacks.

Squeezing the bejesus out of
Baby W helps teach Stella important
hand-eye coordination skills.
Back to the New Year. To celebrate, I engaged in activities that have been handed down by generations of my generic white-people ethnic group: I stayed home and fed mashed turnips to the baby and most definitely did not stay up to midnight. I explained the idea of a resolution to Stella -- something you want to improve about yourself, or do better, or maybe a new experience you want to try out -- and asked if she had any resolutions, barely refraining from suggesting that she resolve to stop treating Walter like one of those silicon toys that you squeeze to make the eyeballs pop out on springs. She said her resolution in 2011 was "to wiggle her finger." Ah, but a man's reach must exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?

In 2011, my resolutions are to keep raising two beautiful, loving children; to continue to learn and improve at my job; and to keep valuing David as a partner and co-parent in addition to being the only person in the household who can reach the very top cabinets in the kitchen. (Seriously, why would you build kitchen cabinets seven feet off the ground? Perhaps in the 1950s kitchens were ruled by a race of giganto Amazon women lost to human history, except through the occasional fossilized apron identified through carbon-dating.) Those resolutions, while worthy, all involve continuing doing what I did in 2010. So here's something new for 2011: this is the year I resolve to get the pee smell out of the bedroom.