Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 round up

What can you say about the year your first and only child was born? It will be forever etched on my brain much like my own birth year. It's a year that meant something. Inspired by a fellow blogger, here is 2012 as I remember it (I probably should have read my own blog as a refresher first, but I'll try to do this by memory):

January I was all wrapped up in baby showers, nursery planning, and making parenting decisions before the fact.

February was my shower, the registration for my event began, and I started to feel lousy.

March Robert was born! His birth still ranks as the worst experience of my life, but hey, it ended well!

April was a haze of breastfeeding, diaper changes, and sleeping with the lights and TV on. But little B survived and thrived.

May saw B get past those rough few first weeks, start smiling and connecting.

June saw our first trip east, followed by July in which B met most of his relatives and I had my first event as a mother! I also turned 40.

August was our second trip east and event cool-down.

September saw big changes with the B - outgrowing his swing and bouncy seat, crawling, pulling up to stand, reaching for things, and my resultant panic at facing the new challenges of a baby on the move.

The last three months I've happily adjusted to these changes and feel like I have a handle on the future with my planned attic playroom.

Bumpus won't even be recognizable this time next year - right now he's all baby; bald, toothless, co-sleeping, breastfeeding. By next December he'll probably be weaned, have teeth, more (red, I hope) hair, and who knows what our sleeping arrangement will be when he's nearly two! It'll be a big year of changes with my event moved back five weeks to Labor Day and the whole flow of the house changed by the addition.

This'll be my first full year as a parent. Crazy!

Happy 2013 everyone!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Cooking the blues away

Last night I cooked my butt off in an attempt at filling time. This is a strategy I learned in my late teens as I went to work while all my friends went off to college and I was bored as heck - I would cook all weekend, read cookbooks from start to finish, and taught myself all kinds of techniques: pickling, preserving, bread making, etc. It's been fun to revisit some of these skills now that I can (temporarily) eat like a kid again.

I bought a crock pot and made a lovely chana masala, then while that bubbled away, made my favorite white bean soup, corn muffins, and my usual weekly pot of black beans. This morning I made a blackberry coffee cake to bring to Bed Rest Friend. I would cook more if I had any more space in the fridge.

BRF and I talked about space management today, ie, where the baby sleeps, where his toys go, where he plays when he's big enough. I'm glad even people with big houses have these concerns! I don't know how breastfeeders don't co-sleep; I can't imagine getting up and walking into another room several times a night for feeds. Or maybe it's because I co-sleep that Bumpus still wakes up a lot? I'll never know the answer to this question. And my guess is it's different for every baby.

I do feel tons of relief when I think about that upstairs space being the new kid space, where all the toys can be slung about and B and his friends can be as loud and crazy as they want. But I am concerned about safety. There will be windows - should I put bars on the outside to prevent falls? Then there's the staircase - it's in a hole in the floor. How do I keep him from falling down it? Or his little friends? It's pretty dangerous. For the foreseeable future I'll always be up there with him, but still I have to figure out how to make it less hazardous.

Tomorrow they come to finish the electric, then I'm off to our gig in Santa Barbara. I have not decided if I'm going to try to crash at the house of the people who are watching B or not, or if I should attempt the drive home. I guess it all depends on how I'm feeling.

Well, happy New Year, everyone! I hope those of you in the trenches of trying for babies see your wishes come true in 2013, and those content with where you are continue to be healthy and happy!

Here is a before and after picture of my hallway with the old square attic access and the new unpainted pull-down ladder.

Saturday, December 29, 2012


Last night I had yet another experience with FOMO, or, Fear Of Missing Out. A friend invited me to a special night at her dance club, and I had known about this night for some time but really didn't have any interest in going, just assuming no one I know would go and that I wouldn't have a good time. Well, she called and begged me to come, and I knew I had no other plans this weekend, so I figured I would strap the baby in the carrier and go. But it was not to be - I had one of those rare evenings where the baby just conked out early on my lap and stayed conked out. He slept from about 8 until 10, the window of opportunity for me to get dressed and go. People kept texting me asking if I was going; I contemplated waking him up and dragging his ass across town on this cold, potentially wet night, and taking him to a loud, crowded nightclub...and I just couldn't do it to him. He's still recovering from this cold, he had a doctor's appointment, the contractors have messed up our sleep and eating schedule...I just would have felt horrible doing it to him. But.

Then today I wake up and see all the pictures on FB, all the people saying what a great time they had, the numbers advertised (over 350 people, which is about 5x normal turnout for a dance event around here), and I thought about this entire weekend stretching ahead of me with nothing to do, and I felt pretty lousy.

Do I blame poor, innocent little sicky Bumpus for taking away my fun? No, of course not. The reality is had this been a couple of years ago I probably wouldn't have gone anyway and regretted it equally the next day. I just wish there was a way to guarantee having a good time - knowing well in advance that an event is worth going to, that you'll see all your friends and get some fun dances in, that it'll be worth the money you'll have to shell out on a sitter. But there's no way to predict these things.

Right now my single girlfriends are on their way up to Santa Barbara to take part in the weekend-long event that ends with my NYE singing gig on Monday night. And as mentioned I am home all weekend with no plans and nothing to do. Do I wish I was with them? Yes, until I remember what it would FEEL like to be part of that group.

On the surface, sure, it would be about the excitement of getting dressed for dances and being out of town for a few days, the relief of having something to do on New Year's Eve. It would look good on Facebook. But for me underneath would be that same maddening chant - another year gone by with no relationship and no children, another year older, another year watching all my friends get married and get pregnant. I've had many, many a miserable New Year's, even with plans, even with guys to dance with. Unless you're newly in love, New Year's is kind of bleh.

Do I think all single women spend New Year's wondering when they're ever going to meet someone and have a baby? Not necessarily, although I'd bet that thought lingers at least subconsciously. Does having had a baby take away all desire to be out having a good time with friends? Obviously not. I'm quite bitter I'm stuck at home bored while everyone else is out (looking like they're) having fun. But I blame myself for not having planned ahead. I was so focused on managing the actual night of New Year's I forgot about the weekend before. Oh well. It's cold and rainy out and I've got a fire, good movies, and fresh corn muffins. Oh, and a cute Gingy baby in a jumperoo. I have to admit that beats awkward small talk and bad dances any night.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Day 2 attic

Today the attic guys worked on the electric all day. It is still not done. I would love to say this counts as a rewire of the house - but it's not. It's only making that section of the attic safe to put a subfloor on. At the moment my bathroom lights are all f'd up and all day my satellite TV kept crashing and the burglar alarm kept beeping "trouble" from the power going out. But you know, the house is clean and warm, we breezed through the nine month appointment today, and I might motivate my lame ass to go dancing tonight. So right now I'm feeling pretty good. New Year's kind of messes with the attic progress - but they will come briefly Monday morning to finish the electric and then resume work for good on Jan 2. Can't wait to get to that point! It'll be great when the attic actually looks like something. Right now it's all prep work.

Since I'm feeling momentarily financially secure, I got the bug up my butt to look into international travel with family tour groups again. And again was bummed at just how expensive it is, and how long I may have to wait - many of the best tours only take kids 12 and up. But as always I know I can find a way - when he's little we can start slow with Hawaii, cruises, Mexico, Caribbean; then maybe branch out to places like Thailand and Costa Rica when he's older. Heck, it'll give me time to save, right?

I'd like to take this moment for a little TMI. I talk a lot about B's physical stats and progress, but not my own. So I'd like to give a nine month post-partum update.

My favorite news on the "down there" front is I am no longer peeing myself. I used to release a teaspoon or two of pee every time I settled in after going to the toilet; that seems to happen less and less these days. I also have more control in general - I no longer start peeing as I'm on my way to sitting on the toilet seat. So that's something.

My boobs are not in a pain phase - but I am starting to feel that little razor-like bottom tooth. Not sure how to handle that.

My weight loss has slowed, but that's probably only due to the holidays. I am currently about 128 pounds, which for me is very skinny since my average is usually about 140. I wish I could get to 125 and stay there, but I know all the weight will come back sooner or later. In the meantime my pants hang off me like sacks. Debating on whether or not to buy one skinny pair of pants for the interim - after all, when the weight comes back it's not going to come on in a matter of hours or days, but months. I know, we should all have such problems, huh?

Thursday, December 27, 2012

...and so it begins

Construction began today. The staircase to the attic is in. I'd sneak up there now and peek, but there's nothing to see yet; also it's really creepy after dark. One quick look today and it seemed a lot smaller and more cramped than the last time I saw it; I had worked it up in my mind as this huge palatial space, but in fact it is what it is, an attic crawl space never meant to be used for anything.

I balked at the giant ugly sewer vent pipe that stretches across the whole back of the place, and the contractor offered to re-route it for free since I'm painting and not staining the cabinets. Originally it would have cost another $500 to move it. So, that's good.

I spent the day in the living room in the rocking chair, alternating the baby between diaper changes and feeds and jumper and playpen. He seemed ok with this arrangement, especially considering we haven't left the house in two days. So far the casualties are: for some reason a framed picture in the dining room fell off the wall and smashed to pieces, a kid's drawing I had on the fridge got torn in half, my bathroom mat was covered in dirty boot marks (in the washing machine now), and there are dirty handprints and scuff marks all over the hallway walls that I just had painted. But considering this is the last of the construction that will actually take place inside the living portion of the house, hopefully that will be as bad as the destruction gets.

Tomorrow is B's nine month pediatric appointment. I am so, so glad there are no shots tomorrow, just measuring and a general check in. I had hoped the one year appointment was it for a while, but it looks like we still go every three months, with more shots :(. Poor little lad. I'm glad he won't remember any of this!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Boxing Day

It's not lost on me that today is the last day in a long, long while that I will wake up to a peaceful, clean, intact home. Well, I suppose I still will on weekends, but I still expect the place to be fairly torn apart. Construction begins tomorrow on the attic play space. It will be a couple of days of putting in the pull down ladder for access, followed by I guess the weekend and New Year's (please tell me they don't plan on working New Year's Day), then updating the electric, then insulation and skylight and window installation, then flooring and dry walling everything, then cabinetry and finishes. Unlike my usual construction around here we won't have to keep stopping down for permits, and I want to believe this guy means it when he says he likes to just get in and out on a job and not dilly-dally. Still I expect this to take the entire month of January, more or less. Which means a serious interruption of our routines.

And right now we have a very pleasant routine which I am enjoying very much. In the morning I put the B in his crib after changing his diaper so he can play while I check my phone or read in the bed next to the crib; then we move to the kitchen where I make breakfast for myself, then feed him some poofs and about half a bag of baby food (those neat little squeezy bags). Then he goes in the playpen while I shower and dress; then we go out to our activities (whether a mommy & me thing, bank/post office, shopping, a hike, etc). Upon return home I eat lunch and feed the baby and then he naps; evenings consist of dinner for me, TV, and rotating the baby between the playpen, the bouncer, and my lap. That's it, that's our life. The only part I see really being interrupted is the kitchen time in the morning, which bothers me. This is where the men trooping in and out will be most intrusive, and I can't imagine B too focused on eating with all that excitement around. Maybe I'll cordon us off in the bedroom. I don't know. I'll have to get creative.

It dawned on me what an important milestone and rite of passage this is, the preparing of the bedroom for the baby. It's kind of like prepping the nursery, only more intense since this is meant to be his permanent space, whereas the nursery was always temporary. Soon the nursery will just be part of the living room again. This new room will be redecorated countless times; he'll no doubt get up to lots of nefarious activities up there later in life. It's kind of a big deal.

My whole childhood I never once had a room, and certainly never lived anywhere long enough to grow into a bedroom type area anyway; we mostly lived in tiny studio apartments with loft beds to optimize space (high school), or a futon rolled up in a corner (junior high). We always rented and so were never allowed to paint or decorate in any real way; the idea of picking out color schemes, being somewhere long enough to actually redecorate, or making structural changes, is completely alien to me. I think this is why I get so much pleasure out of working on this house - it's because I CAN!

B is constantly changing, as babies do. He's always doing a new thing - squinting, shaking his head, rolling his tongue. In the last couple of weeks there's a new intelligence behind his eyes, just a new sentience that I can't quite put my finger on. The significance of his first tooth starting to erupt is not lost on me. It's just the beginning of all of the adult things that will eventually lead to his growing up - teeth, and weaning, and walking, and talking. I can see why mothers get weird about this stuff - every new development is part of their leaving you. It's very bittersweet. I do take the time every day to treasure this baby time, with all its ups and downs. It really does go so quickly.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas photobomb

I am far too full at the moment to expound properly on the last two days' events. Suffice it to say, having a baby (ie, being a parent) at Christmastime is AWESOME. There is just something utterly delightful about bringing your cheery red-cheeked baby around to social gatherings instead of just your lame, single ass like you used to. Oh, and my Doula Friend spotted Bumpus' first emerging tooth today-!

Here are some pics of Christmas Eve and Christmas:

Monday, December 24, 2012

Nine months

All tomorrow's parties

Tonight was my annual Christmas Eve Eve white elephant party. I am buzzing with iced tea, chocolate, and over-stimulation. Luckily the B is fast asleep after a long night of the third element - and days of anxiety being left in his jumper to fend for himself while I cooked, cleaned, and decorated.

It was a very pleasant evening and everything went well. But I have to admit I had an extremely frustrating day of all the last minute prep - including hauling bag after bag of garbage and recyclables down the stairs, trimming plants out of the walkway, hauling heavy bags of drinks and ice up the stairs, and tons of last minute food prep (that took about seven hours of non-stop work, except for one nursing session and diaper change) - only to discover every hour or so yet another person posting on the Facebook invite that they can't make it. This is just the way party planning goes, especially at this time of year when everyone's sick and everyone's kids are sick. Everyone had legitimate, understandable reasons for not showing up to my party. But when you have a tiny house and you can only invite 30 or so people, and then ten people decide they're not coming hours before, it kind of fucks with your preparations. And God bless those wonderful people who did show up and brought all their good will, gifts and food. I throw these parties to keep in touch with people I don't get to see as often anymore, and keep them in my son's life. When there's always an excuse to not get together it kind of hurts my feelings, I've got to be honest. But I'll try to put that aside and focus on the people who did come. Everyone I know who throws parties has this issue so it's certainly not personal.

Bumpus was pretty much over it as soon as the party started and it was a real struggle to balance him, serving hot hors d'oeuvres, greeting people, managing coats and bags and drinks and seats and lighting, etc etc. It dawned on me that next year he can be UPSTAIRS with a sitter if I so choose, and in bed at a normal time. How different that'll be when there's a private space in this house!!!

Here's my cozy home all lit up for the party. I owe everything to Pinterest.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The night before the night before the night before...

Arg!!! Another lengthy post vanishes before publishing!!! Oh well, it was kind of rambling anyway. Here's the condensed version:

Braved the stores today for last minute emergency presents and party food. Big mistake!

Gave the contractor his first check and signed a contract. Work on the attic starts Thursday. So excited I could pee.

It dawned on me that creating that space frees up my bedroom to be finished and also removes all need for the current nursery. So I can completely reconfigure my living room which is exciting, and at last wallpaper & paint my bedroom.

Bumpus is officially graduating from a baby with a nursery to a boy with a room. Even though he won't be sleeping up there for years, for all intents and purposes this will be his Big Boy room. It's kind of exciting. I am planning on stealing some ideas from the Restoration Hardware baby & child catalogue; I love the play teepee and bean bag chairs; also the travel/explorer theme. It's going to be frickin' awesome.

I will for sure take lots of before & after pictures. Right now it's just a raw crawl space with no floor or insulation; it's going to be unrecognizable when it's done. Now I very quickly have to make decisions I usually waste months on - lighting, flooring, paint, window styles. Ahhh!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

...and other than that, Mrs. Lincoln

So as you can see from the previous post, we got the Santa shot, hooray! B had just woken from a nap so was kind of dazed, but no tears! I don't think my mother ever took me to see Santa; at least we have no surviving pictures of this ritual. Maybe that wasn't such a thing in the 70s...?

Today Bed Rest Friend has been allowed to return home, which makes me a little nervous for her. I know I would be nervous. She sent me a $50 Amazon gift card and a walker/play table-type thing for Bumpus. I was also given a couple of baby gifts and several Christmas cards at my book club last night; I was empty handed. In fact other than my sister and brother in law, I have not bought presents for anyone, or anyone's kids. I had high hopes of making lots of crafty presents; other than a batch of coconut balls, nothing else has materialized. I've started to forgive myself for making a very ambitious to do list at the beginning of every week that I only manage to knock a couple of items off of by the end of the week. Last Friday's events kind of took the wind out of my sails as far as Christmas crafting. Oh, and I'm kind of lazy.

Speaking of overly ambitious, I have a crazy list of items to cook for my white elephant party Sunday night. I don't know how I'm going to do it all; especially since I will probably have to make a dish and gifts for Christmas Eve, and the same for a whole different set of people Christmas Day. Agh! So tomorrow I grocery shop (I'm getting about five packages of cream cheese, a gallon whipping cream, three packages chocolate chips, etc etc) and prepare a few things; Saturday I clean, decorate, and cook some more, and then the same Sunday day. Bumpus woke up with a runny nose today, and we had a rotten sleepless night because of it. Lord let him be content for the hours and hours of party prep ahead of me-!

Also Saturday I am supposed to meet a future SMC for coffee. She is about to start IVF. It will be my first official duty as a contact person for Los Angeles! I hope I'll be able to encourage her and be a good listener.

My sitter last night intimated she'd be very interested in traveling to events with me. So at least she's open to it - whether I can afford it or not is another issue. But at least this may be a way to make our traveling gigs work-!

Got the final estimate for my attic conversion today. With all of the built-in cabinets, a roll-away bed, and flooring, of course it's a bit more now - $9500. But hey, half of what I expected to spend, and with a lot more detail. And will be paid in full by May. We start day after Christmas, and I expect it to take much of January. It is not going to be pleasant - I'm going to have to hunker down and prepare for the messiness of men tramping in and out of the house, noise, dust, and things being not secured around here. But oh, the results, the results! It will be bigger than my bedroom, full of Craftsman character, and will change the whole dynamic of the house and also my entire live/work flow. So excited!!!

Santy Claws!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Doing It

First off let me say I'm glad I'm not the only one still freaked out by the shootings in Newtown. I was beginning to think I was being a drama queen by being convinced we were going to get into a car accident every time we went out, or obsessively checking B's breathing as he slept. But I guess in a sense it's kind of normal after a traumatizing event. I have a very hollow, post-9/11 feeling, like the world is no longer safe and good. This situation just feels so hopeless. How do you lock up every angry young man, even if they have no criminal record? How do you take assault rifles out of every private arsenal? How do you keep your child safe when they're not under your personal care (or even when they are)? The answer to all of these questions is - you don't. And that scares the crap out of me.

But in an effort to stay positive, today I was thinking about the power of being "in it". There were so many things about parenting I thought would be so impossible...and no doubt some things have been difficult...and yet here we are, my boy is just days shy of nine months old, and we're just...doing it. Every day he eats, is changed, sleeps, plays, and is kept healthy and happy. Somehow babysitting always works out one way or the other; bills get paid, food gets cooked, needs are met. All by me, alone. And it's really not that hard.

Naturally I've been lucky to have a healthy baby, and one who is easy. Apart from the very beginning and various episodes of pain, breastfeeding has been a snap. Apart from still being woken up every couple of hours to eat, the sleep thing isn't too terrible. He entertains himself easily, likes people, and his upsets are directly tied to something (fatigue, hunger, boredom, pain). Today I had a huge, complex and wordy web site update to make, and B just played in his playpen the whole two or so hours this took, barely making a peep. He's amazing.

So often I still find myself in that "what if" state (especially lately), thinking ahead and wondering how I'm going to make it through such-and-such event, what am I going to do, how am I going to make it work...and yet a little advice from friends, a little thinking outside the box, and next thing I know we're on to the next month.

Here I am, doing it. A year ago I was heading to my third trimester, wondering about what it would be like next Christmas with a crawling, solid-eating, nine month old baby. I wondered what I would be like - would I be happy? Would I have any regrets? Would my friendships change? Would I be lonely? What would my body be like? Would I enjoy being a parent? Would I feel different? At this moment I can honestly say it's been great. And that's saying a lot, coming from me.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Future dreams

This morning my contractor called with his estimate. I took a deep breath as I heard him say, "fif...." and thought he was about to tell me it was going to cost fifty thousand dollars to finish my attic. Nope - $5500 on the high end; $4500 on the low. How is that possible...? Full insulation, ladder stairs, floor, window. I stupidly told him that was way less than I expected, to which he jokingly responded he would have to revise this estimate. In reality he will - he is going to come back this week to further investigate the old knob and tube wiring up there and see if it's dead or hot and needs to be upgraded, also we have to talk built ins, since I do want storage and a built in twin bed/reading nook under the window. Oh, and a skylight. Oh, and a swing suspended from the center beam. And finally hang the hammock my father sent from Brazil years ago. All of these ideas courtesy of Pinterest, btw.

I picture a bright, sweet room with lots of cool things strewn about, like hot wheels tracks and bean bag chairs and vintage boy stuff (in a very clean Scandinavian IKEA-like way). Oh, it's just going to be amazing. And for what I've already saved for! This means I can save future monies to finally replace my sewer line and shore up the foundation. You know, practical home repairs instead of the vanity projects I keep doing.

He says he can start right after Christmas. I'm sure he's glad to have work at this time of year when no one in their right mind would take on a construction project. Honestly the idea of 2+ weeks with contractors tramping in and out of the house fills me with dread, but hey, at least they will be upstairs! For once my bathroom and kitchen will be unaffected.

Can't flippin' wait to have this done. Ever since I bought this place in Dec of 2001 I wanted to build an upstairs space; to me one-story houses are kind of like glorified apartments. An accessible upstairs would make this place really a HOUSE, you know? And for so little money! Who knew?

Um...could I have my son's childhood, please?

Monday, December 17, 2012

The password is "aaaah"

Not a bad "aaaaah", a happy baby "aaaah". This is Bumpus' favorite thing to do, say "aaaah" while flapping his arms as if clapping. He also does a lot of "mamamama" sounds, but I don't think any of it is intentional, as in, connected to me. Which sort of makes me wonder - if your baby makes sounds that kind of sound like words all the time, at what point do you consider it "his first word"? I mean, when do you make that call?

I went to my meet up group today, which met at one of the ladies' houses. This gal has three kids and is thinking about a fourth. God bless her. Lots of discussion about second babies, since the rest of us are just on our first. When I told the host "I'm too old," she very flatteringly said she thought I was in my early thirties. I should show her some of the low angle self portraits I've taken on my IPhone, I look like a haggard old lady, ha ha! Anyway I will admit I feel a little left out when surrounded by people who are building their families. But does this make me want to endure fertility treatment, pregnancy, and birth again? Uh, nope.

She had a wonderful open space where all the babies could squirm around and play with toys, which really really made me want to get that attic space going, and soon. I think it's kind of essential, actually. I now understand kids need to have a safe space to strew their toys around and be free. This will either be your living room or some other space. I'd rather it be some other space! I will call the contractor tomorrow and give him a nudge for that estimate.

Despite the safe space Bumpus managed to pull this lady's dining room chair down on him, pinning him to the ground. He's never had a fall like that, and it sucked. I comforted him and he fell deep asleep right away, which caused me to check his pulse several times while sitting at red lights on the way home. I've heard about head injuries and sleep and, well, I'm just a little extra paranoid right now.

Speaking of tumbles, a woman full-on collapsed on the floor in the middle of the meetup today. She lay there for a few seconds before I called out, "hey, she's not ok!" She had complained of feeling dizzy, and had partaken of a very strong alcoholic egg nog that was being passed around. It was one of those weird situations where after recovering the woman went to drive herself and her baby home, and we all kind of looked at each other like, "should we intervene here? Is she ok?" And we all did nothing. Let's hope she made it home...!

In other news, I have been kicking ass in the feeding department. Somehow I've just gotten into this rhythm of feeding The B after my breakfast - I think his watching me eat gets him excited to start, so I feed him some of those little baby puffs and then 1/3 to 1/2 of one of those squeezy food bags, which he loves. He was more than ready, I was just being lame. Whenever I eat a banana he grabs it and shoves it in his face. Oh, he's ready all right!

Sunday, December 16, 2012


Last night I took Bumpus along to my gig. I do not know what possessed me to do such a thing - I don't think I really thought it through, between you and me. I just pictured him in his little elf costume and how everyone would love to see him and all the great photos I'd get. And those things were true. But what was also true was by halfway through the gig he was over it and fussy and squirmy as heck, and then I thought I'd hold him on my lap while judging the contest in order to spare my friends, and he worked up to a full meltdown and screamed all the way through it, and I was trapped in the row of judges and could do nothing but hold my squirming, screaming baby, and oh, it was just horrible. I felt like a total asshole.

Truthfully no one else even noticed. And I have to remember when I see people with crying babies I never think, "they're bad parents because their baby is crying." I just think, "babies cry." But a few people mentioned "past his bed time, huh?" (even though he was up until midnight at home the night before), so it didn't go entirely unnoticed that I had a cranky baby on my hands. I think it was the lack of control that bugged me - at home, he never gets hysterical, barely even cries, because I'm always able to meet his needs before it gets to that point. So he's a happy boy at home. Not so when we're out or traveling. Definitely makes me second guess that proposed Canadian gig next May, for sure.

Other than that we did get good photos, everyone remarked on how beautiful I looked (and who can ever get enough of hearing that...?) and I actually (gasp) danced, and that felt great. Since we have no gigs in Feb or March I may set aside a couple of dance nights for myself. I really, really need it.

Still there's no getting around how totally ghetto it feels to be wheeling your baby son home at one o'clock in the morning past piles of vomit and drunken partiers on the street, in a fringed dress and high heels and too much makeup. Yeesh.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


This morning I woke up next to my plump, red-cheeked, smiling little Gingy boy, who was all full of piss and vinegar and ready to take on the day. Then I immediately thought of the twenty families who for the first time are waking up without their children, and it was almost unbearable to me.

I think it's ok to admit that I'm traumatized by what happened yesterday. I'm not just pretending so I look like a good person who cares - I'm actually really devastated. I have a singing gig tonight and the idea of getting all festively dressed up and singing happy Christmas songs kind of makes me sick. I need to put my usual Christmas joy on hold for just a few days. It just doesn't feel right or appropriate to be celebrating right now.

I tried yesterday to keep mentally active thinking about other things in order to avoid going down the rabbit hole, but go I did. And then I started imagining all the scenarios. And thinking about all the cruelty to children around the world, throughout history. Thinking about that This American Life episode about the massacres in Guatemala in the 80s. Then I was checking my fellow blogs and discovered to my horror that one pregnant blogger went into labor at nineteen weeks and had to watch her tiny baby die in her arms. I can't stand it. Where do you go from there? What do you do?

I always swore I wouldn't be one of those people who becomes a mother and then wimps out - ie, loses a sense of humor and irony, can't handle watching movies or TV shows about serial killers, etc. but I have to admit - it's kind of happening to me. I thought it was hormonal (and it may well be), but I find it harder and harder to watch anything that involves death or injury or people being cruel to each other, particularly cruelty to babies, children, or animals. I have a friend who is extremely sensitive and can't handle anything dark or negative at all - whenever we're going to see a movie she asks if there's going to be Peril in it, and if there is, she can't hang. I kind of get it now. I find I need to surround myself with a lot more positivity than I used to need to. Especially after things like yesterday happen.

Of course it's all over FB, and it's interesting to see how people react in situations like this. Many get angry and use it to push their political agendas (pro or anti gun). Many use it to push their religious (read: Christian) agendas. Most of us just said we're sorry and we're going to hug our kids extra tight. But I can tell based on this morning's feed that some people are moving on and some aren't. I fall into the latter category.

You want to know what I'm sick of? I'm sick of mentally ill, fucked up teenaged and twenty-something white men taking out their anger and insecurities on innocent people. Go do martial arts, go travel, get in the military, do something to focus that rage. You've got every frigging advantage in this world - use it! I know these guys are sick and not in control of themselves, but right now I don't really care. I'm just sick and tired of innocent people being killed and suffering. Ok. That's enough from me. I'm going to go slather my face with makeup, put on a holiday dress, go to my gig, and try to pretend I'm not weeping inside.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Tragedies & Progress

...and another blog post deleted just as I'm about to publish it. Ok, let me see if I can completely recreate this from memory...

I started by talking about today's horrible tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, which also happens to be the very town where my mother and aunt grew up, my grandparents lived for 50+ years, and I spent practically every Christmas, Thanksgiving, and summer of my childhood. The thought of something so horrific happening at all, much less in such an idyllic, rural place, is just horrendous. I can't imagine what those parents are going through right now. Everyone is posting "hug your babies" on Facebook. Yes, indeed.

Before I got out of bed and turned on the radio, I was having happy fantasies about my proposed attic conversion. Still no estimate. But I'm thinking if I have enough in my line of credit and savings, I am just going to go for it now, since if I wait to save the money the main use for the space will be at least partially lost. I do want it to be B's sleeping space at some point, if he wants to sleep up there - and certainly a good overnight guest space. But it also dawned on me that it will solve one of my major problems, that being, how to make this house safe and practical for a baby or small child, and how to have other children over? It was breaking my heart thinking about not being able to have play dates because this house is such a death trap, full of antique furniture with sharp edges, cords that can be pulled down, and electronics. But if I have an open space that can be nothing but a soft carpet and toys, it would be perfect for having over other kids. I picture a built-in reading nook where I can enjoy a chai latte with the other moms while the kids go nuts; and this can later be B's private space, and then my private space when he's off on his own one day. So I am very excited about that!

I also put my big girl pants on and called Kaiser back yesterday - turns out they just needed to verify some information. And the woman on the phone, when I recounted the whole birth cost history, encouragingly said, "yeah, that doesn't sound right". I'm not saying I'm going to be successful in this whole quest to get my money back - but I am starting to wonder if I really was just blatantly overcharged, and then I wonder how many other people have been overcharged for their birth, called to complain as I did but then were just shut down as I was, and gave up? It sounds kind of criminal, to me. Or if not criminal then very unethical.

Package arrived on my doorstep today, it was my mother's self-published autobiography, the one she had me read some years ago which I was slightly offended to discover barely mentioned me or my sister at all, and had my sister's birth year wrong. Honestly I would throw this narcissism-fest in the garbage if I didn't think B might be interested in it some day; after all, I kept my father's crazy self-published book about his adventures as a yogi from another planet who made up his own language, why not keep this?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Dear Son

Dear Son,

Many parents wish to have children that are going to grow up to be the best-looking, richest, most successful men and women in the world, to make their parents proud. You know what my wish is for you, what would make me proud? If you were to be wonderfully, exceptionally average.

I want you to be smart, but not too smart. Extremely smart people are often socially inept. They also often feel isolated and removed from their peers, like they don't fit in. Or they feel most of society is beneath them because they're so brilliant. I want you to feel like you fit right in, that some people are smarter than you and some not as smart, but it doesn't matter, because you're too busy enjoying your life to think about those things.

I want you to be handsome, but not too handsome. Good looking people are treated differently from birth, and it's a struggle to not grow up thinking you're entitled when you're always getting the red carpet treatment because you're attractive. It's also not healthy to always get every guy or girl you're interested in, to always be the dumper and not the dumpee. A little unrequited love and the occasional broken heart is good for everyone.

I want you to be talented, but not too talented. This is a tough one, because there is nothing I would want more for you than to be a successful musician or artist of some kind, to enjoy what you do and make a decent living. But again, being insanely talented has drawbacks. The insanely talented often get taken advantage of by unscrupulous agents, managers, and accountants. The insanely talented are the media darling...until the inevitable brutal backlash. The insanely talented have few peers. The insanely talented are often tortured and lonely.

I want you to be just handsome, smart, and talented ENOUGH. And to know that you are always enough no matter what, even when you feel like you're just not making it, even when you're struggling.

I want you to be surrounded by love and friends who like you for you, not because of something you can do for them. I want you to feel like you fit in, and that you belong. I want you to know all kinds of people, relate to all kinds of people, and have empathy for them.

I want you to forever hover at the 50th percentile mark. I want you to be amazingly average to the world, even though you'll always be a star to me.


Your Mom

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Pussing out

Today I wrapped B's presents while he hung out in the jumper nearby, oblivious to the fun times ahead. I don't know why it's so funny to me that I'm buying presents for a little baby for him to "unwrap" after he's already seen them, but this just cracks me up. I'm going to have to keep an eye on the wrapping to make sure he doesn't choke on any of it!

I paid my third visit to Bed Rest Friend in the hospital today, brought her some festive Christmas slippers. It appears despite the dire predictions of being in the hospital until March, it appears they are now going to release her next week...! Personally as much as I'd be happy if it were me, I also would be a little pissed that I had made all these arrangements for an extended stay, only to be told it was all just a precaution. But now she has the challenge of being home where she can't be looked after and waited on all day. I would find that a little daunting. Still, at least now I can bring over movies and I don't have to worry about my meter running out when I visit anymore.

I am pussing out on two situations in my life right now. One is confronting the friend who showed up on my doorstep; I'm just sitting here with my thumb up my ass waiting for her to do something when really I should pro-actively send her a "Dear John" email. The other is I decided to challenge Kaiser about all my hospital fees; don't know if I mentioned it here but one of my mommy group mommies mentioned she'd had her son at Kaiser Sunset as well, had also spiked a fever during labor, and the boy was kept in the NICU just like Bumpus. And she was charged separate charges as I was, but fought it, having believed that he was covered for the first 30 days before he could incur his own charges. She said it took seven months and everyone she spoke to denied her until the end, but she finally got her money back. So naturally I felt the need to file a grievance, too, and the woman on the phone told me she'd dealt with this situation many times and said that I was wrong, that I was charged correctly. But I submitted it anyway, and much to my surprise got a call the very next day, then got a letter today, wanting more information. And it's been two days and I have not called this person back, because I know they're just going to tell me I have no case, and then I have to make the decision to either get angry and demanding or crawl away with my tail between my legs, knowing I could potentially get something like $5000 back but I was too chicken to stand up for myself. I hate, hate, hate this shit. The lady in my group had an insurance broker that handled this stuff for her - I would kill for an advocate in this situation. I know I have to call back tomorrow or kiss this whole thing goodbye - but honestly I wish I had never had this conversation-! Knowing I was probably totally taken advantage of, and probably can do nothing about it, kills me inside.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

First gifts, sockie shoes, and rat carcasses

So I bit the bullet and bought Bumpus his very first Christmas presents today. Here's the joy of shopping in the middle of the day on a Tuesday - nobody's in the store. Here's the drag of shopping in the middle of the day on a Tuesday - there's no stuff in the store. After what must have been an orgy of weekend mid-season shopping, the shelves were all but bare. My selection for the 3-12 month set mostly consisted of really loud, cloying musical toys that I absolutely could not stand having to listen to all day, every day. Don't any of these toy makers know about Artie Shaw, or Brasil '66, or Beck? No?

Anyway after almost giving up I turned the corner and found the aging hipster doofus parent aisle, which immediately appealed to me with its eco-friendly packaging and muted, vintage-y colors. I stocked up on cool shaped balls and squeezy blocks, then compromised with a fake cell phone and some building blocks. That and some new moccasins, socks, pants, a couple of lightweight jackets and a ridiculously cute elf costume (oh, just wait), and I think we're set!

I also just had a contractor over to assess my attic situation. He enthusiastically said it was a great space and could definitely support the weight of finishing and be a legal space (not a bedroom, but I could throw a bed up there and call it a day). So I know it can be done, it's just a question of how much (tremble). Oh, and there was a dead rat up there. Good times. Estimate to follow. I'm hoping in the neighborhood of $20,000. That's not too bad to add an (illegal extra bedroom) to your house, huh? This will probably add more value to this property than anything else I've done around here.

Last night I had an incredibly sexy dream about hooking up with the leader of a tough Hasidic street gang in my old NY neighborhood. It was very Romeo & Juliet, very forbidden and hot. Hey, I may be sexually dead inside, but I ain't buried yet!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Totally awkward

So this morning after a particularly rough night of gas and writhing and screaming (the baby, not me), and just as I was bleary-eyed cooking breakfast and wondering when I should bring in the barking dog, my doorbell rang. It was the friend that I had been trying to blow off quietly, the one who told her son my son's dad was a bad guy who had abandoned us.

She said she had come by to see why I hadn't returned her calls. I've never been so put on the spot. All I could say was that I "just felt awkward". But this clearly wasn't enough - she said she didn't see what the big deal was, that I know she didn't mean it, that she'd apologized, etc. And what does one do at that point? Start attacking someone's character to their face? Tell them you want to throw nearly twenty years of friendship down the toilet? All over one accidental comment?

So I didn't know what to say. I just kept saying I feel uncomfortable now, and brought up the election and how my politics have done a complete 180 in the last couple of years and how we don't have that in common anymore, to which she unfortunately replied hers had, too. She left under the impression that we're going to hang out next week. We're not. Ugh!

I've drifted apart from friends before, but I've never been confronted to my face about it. Usually people get the hint, especially when there was an "inciting incident" like we had. It's not that I hate her or think ill of her - I just have no desire to continue this friendship, and for reasons I can't really articulate. It's just like the 8,487 men that dumped me in the past ten-fifteen years. They just didn't have any desire to see me again, period. Can't argue with that. Or maybe you can-!

Anyway, I don't know what to do, and I hate to be put in this position. I may have to send her a break up email. I loathe the idea of this. How much to reveal, how much to spare her feelings? The last time I broke up with an old friend I was downright cruel to her, just to shut the door once and for all. I don't wish to repeat that scenario.

After she left I had to hustle to clean the house before the cleaning lady showed up (I know, right? But really, I had Christmas decor scattered all over and if I didn't tidy up she wouldn't have been able to do her job). This was a new person recommended by a friend - and I think I may have solved my cleaning woes. She actually doesn't want to come down here on a regular basis because she lives too far, so said instead I can just call her whenever I need a clean (which for me might not even be every month), and only charged $80! Freakin' sweet. And now my house is clean for my Christmas party in two weeks. Huzzah.

It is always awkward sitting around while someone cleans, though. Makes me feel like a lazy, spoiled SOB. Probably didn't help that I was in fact eating Bon Bons at the time.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Comparisons & inferiority complexes

As much as I'm proud of all I've accomplished this holiday season and proud of my son and proud of my parenting (for the most part!), I have to admit the perfectionist is coming out in me. It happens from time to time. And then I start to feel like I'm just not doing enough, not good enough.

Last night I mentioned on FB that I was keeping the baby up late so he wouldn't wake me up early; another mother proudly wrote that her six month old daughter has been sleeping straight through from 8 PM to 7 AM every night after she did sleep training, and talked about how great it is to have time to herself, to get things done, etc. Suddenly having a baby who nurses to sleep every night within minutes, sleeps a good 10-11 hours every night, but always wakes to nurse four to five times during the night, didn't seem so great. And it made me think I've failed him, and myself, by not taking a better stab at sleep training. Honestly I'm happy with everything about our arrangement except the repeated waking a at night. As I've written recently it is kind of getting to me. I'm very foggy and tired most of the time. I hate to read on my birth boards about all the babies that sleep through the night. It makes me feel like a big fat failure.

Then there's the Christmas stuff on FB - all the babies with cute outfits (the only remotely festive thing Bumpus has to wear is a black t shirt with a skull in a Santa hat on it), the professional photo shoots, the amazing crafts everyone's doing. But wait - aren't I doing crafts? Yes, they've mostly revolved around candy making, which is mostly soggy peppermints with my fingerprints in them that turn to liquid the second they leave the freezer. The sugar scrubs, scented laundry detergent, and caramel sauce have yet to be actualized.

Yesterday I went to visit Bed Rest Friend in the hospital again (brought her said melty peppermints & coconut balls). I asked if anyone told her why her cervix shortened like it did, or if it was just random. She said it can be just random - but mentioned she had two markers for the condition - one, having done IVF, and two, having had surgery for pre-cancerous cells on her cervix some years ago. So hopefully that will be helpful information for someone out there.

She mentioned when she tries for a second baby that they will do a preventative cerclage at 14 weeks and she can avoid this situation entirely. I was kind of surprised she was even considering another baby...but then again, they do have several frozen embryos, and if she's pretty much guaranteed a viable pregnancy with a preventative measure against being on bed rest again, why not? Which then made me ask my old jealousy going to return if she has two awesome kids and I just have one...? I hope not. I hope like with most things since B was born, I just won't have the mental energy to focus on unimportant, petty emotions like that!

I am trying to get my event together but am really hitting some roadblocks - mainly, that because it's a holiday weekend, most of the best musicians are out of town playing at festivals, or otherwise just don't want to commit until the last minute, which of course doesn't work for me. So I may have dodged a bullet as far as hiring instructors, but now I'm screwed on the band front. Sigh.

Still, I have high hopes that I will increase my attendance by the date move, which increases my income, which allows me to relax and save money, which makes me very happy. And don't get me wrong - I'm still really enjoying the season and pretty proud of myself for all the work I've done around here; just every once in a while it feels like nothing will ever be enough.

A friend with a 21-year-old son pointed out to me on FB when I mentioned having spent hours lighting the house that when her son was little she would spend hours looking for the "perfect" tree, that everything had to be "just right", but as he grew she realized what really matters is the togetherness the holidays bring. Something to remember, huh?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Mini trains

Today I met with my mommy group at one of the three (?) little mini trains that run in Griffith Park. As of next month I will have lived in LA for twenty years and I had no idea any of them existed. As a friend commented a few weeks ago, you really do get to see your city in a whole new light when you have a kid. I'm sure this would be the case wherever I lived. It's kind of neat.

Lately I've been feeling like my heart will burst with joy. And then I'm afraid to say that because it means something really bad has to happen because I got too cocky. But ok. As one of the Formerly Miserable I think I can stick my neck out there and say yes, this is a really good time for me.

Not so for my half-half sister who today threatened suicide over some very expensive car repairs. There is talk of an intervention (about her drinking, not her misery). It does make me think of the old Scottish saying, "they speak of my drinking, but not of my thirst." We all feel like something has to happen to stop her downward spiral, though. If it takes all of us coming together to tell her she needs help, then that's what it takes.

Today one of the new visitors to the group mentioned she'd tried some other groups but felt they were too judgy, telling her she was wrong to formula feed, etc. I still think it sucks that mothers are so hard on each other. I don't know why we're like that, but it's not a good trait, for sure.

One of the moms who seems to be having kind of a hormonal "something bad is going to happen to the baby" thing was talking about how worried she was about SIDS, and I mentioned how co-sleeping really helps me with those fears since he's always right there next to me. She said she can't co-sleep because her husband's snoring wakes the baby. Reason #5,486 why being a single parent is awesome.

I did put my hand on Bumpus' chest last night to make sure he was still breathing, though, I won't lie.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Doing Christmas

Today I dedicated the entire day to Christmas decorating. I have decided that outdoor lighting is going to have to be a work in progress because it is SO expensive. I'm just going to have to build on it each year. I spent probably in the neighborhood of $200 on outdoor lighting and only have one bush lit, the top of the garage, and one string of lights along the porch. That's it! Made a lot of mistakes along the way but learned a few things, too:

Don't waste your money on solar lights. I thought I'd be all slick and save on energy bills, not have to turn them on/off or run wires, etc. But honestly, I put them up and they are so dim they look like absolutely nothing. I ended up going back to the store to buy electric lights and extension cords anyway. If I could do it all over again I'd spend the money on icicle lights and more net lights for the bushes. The one I bought looks amazing but needs about five friends for the full effect. Now if the local gangbangers can avoid stealing the lights off the garage, I think I'm set for this year!

I bought a tree, hauled it up three flights of stairs, and set it up. Having a good, stable tree stand made a huge difference. In going through all my Christmas stuff I realized what crap it all is - cheap junk I bought for a swing dance ten years ago, faded, cracked ornaments with no sentimental value, cheesy garlands. I really want nice stuff, but nice stuff costs. For now I'll make do with the crap just because it's there; but I am throwing it all out once Christmas is over.

Having a kid has really made me feel how important holidays are, and how now is the time to clean, organize, and take better care of my holiday stuff. Also the time to focus on making new memories - I'm going to make a special ornament every year from now on, and I will also get rid of anything that doesn't have family/sentimental value. I'm on Pinterest, dammit! I know how to make cinnamon ornaments and children's hand molds!

Today as I was climbing my house like a monkey I was reminded how utterly impossible all of this was last year - my whole body hurts from crawling and climbing and clinging to rooftops by my fingernails. I can see why Christmas lighting is typically the man's domain! And I have to say I kind of got into it! If I had more money I'd be right back at Home Depot tomorrow building a very organized, color-coordinated light show that I can control with a hand-held remote. Next year, next year.

It charms me to think that the people riding the electric train that passes in front of my house will hopefully be cheered by the sight of my cozy, festive little bungalow. They'll probably guess there's a lot of love in that house, and they'll be right!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Gas attack!

Last night had one of those scary episodes where the baby woke up screaming and writhing in pain, much like he had that night I arrived in NY last summer. I kept picking him up to thunk his back and bounce him to get the gas out to no avail, but he would calm down when I held him upright, only to start crying again when I laid him down. I don't know if it was the chili I had for lunch, the curry I had for dinner, or the old-ish bottle of milk he had at the Baby Kennel yesterday, or a combo of the three, but the poor little guy was really miserable. Finally I broke down and busted out the big guns - the bottle of Colic Calm I've had lying around here for ages. I used it when he was a newborn but was never sure if it *actually* worked; this time it definitely did; he was calm and happy and sleeping within minutes. I don't know why I'm reluctant to use this product; there's something about squeezing a thick black substance into your baby's mouth with a syringe that's just super creepy. And it makes their poo black the whole next day. But now I know it for sure works for this particular kind of episode, so I will definitely not hesitate to use it again!

I had a good time last night despite being on the face of it a bit of a disaster - saw the movie, then tried to meet friends at this party in Hollywood, but it was raining and there was literally no parking anywhere, so the friend that was driving with me and I just ditched the rest of the group and had dinner instead. We both remarked how this reminded us of so many nights in our twenties - desperately driving around Hollywood looking for parking, trying to get into some hipster party. I don't miss those days one bit, believe me!

Today I was going to spend the whole day in Ventura at a friend's kid's party, but she canceled because of the rain. Remind me to never, ever hold B's party outdoors in March (a very rainy month here in SoCal). I'm kind of bummed my entire day is now shot, but hey, it's an opportunity to try out some candy recipes from Pinterest, so I might just do that.

I have become completely obsessed with building a sleeping loft in the attic for B when he gets older, and/or for out of town visitors. Why not just replace the wall to the second bedroom, you ask, which will probably run about .001% of the cost of building into the attic? Haven't you figured out by now that I can't do anything like a normal person...? Anyway I may have a contractor or two over for estimates next week - first I need to see if it's even allowed and possible (if the ceiling joists can't support a floor and people walking around, then that's out), but I am afraid of how much something like this could cost. There's making a stairway to the attic, there's insulation, wiring, re-routing of air ducts, putting in a window, flooring, lighting, electric outlets, and of course walls and ceiling. Could run upwards of $20,000. If one guy charged me $5500 just to take down one small wall in my house I can only imagine what a major renovation like this would cost. I am curious, though. It would definitely pimp this place out!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

On the outside

Yesterday I went to visit a friend who at twenty weeks was put on hospital bed rest for the remainder of the pregnancy due to "incompetent cervix". She had the cerclage and is now just hanging out on her back in a hospital bed until March. Guess who this friend is? Yes. It is my former nemesis.

I can't even imagine being in a hospital bed for four months. As I drove home, I thought about what it would have been like had this happened to me (and it could have - why not?). I thought first about the bill - a $7000 yearly out of pocket limit, x 2 because of course it spans two years, so a nice whopping $14,000 bill at the end of it. Then not being able to manage my home - all the pets, the maintenance, the fear of the house or the car being broken into in my long absence. The food going rotten. The inability to keep up with my various jobs. The difficulty in doing all the tax work I need to do in the beginning of the year. In other words, a nightmare! When I think about how easily something like this could have happened to me in my pregnancy, and what a total life-altering disaster it would have been, it makes me cringe.

Fortunately she has her husband to keep the home fires burning, but when I asked her how he was doing she said she thought she was doing better than he was. She, by the way, is doing fine, because she's one of these people who just doesn't let things get to her. I think I would probably do this - drop into an intense depression after the initial shock, then rally a bit and try to make my time there festive, then towards the end get fed up and depressed again.

I will make an effort to visit every week. I know how important that must be, to have visitors under those circumstances, especially after the first couple of weeks when people get caught up in their own lives again. Today I am having my first day out sans Bumpus in what seems like eons. I am going to see a dumb movie and then to a Christmas party with some girlfriends. Can't wait for a little Mommy time.

Pregnancy and birth is just so fraught. Sometimes I think you have to be nuts to want to do this, with all the potential for disaster at every turn, and a guaranteed dramatic, physically challenging end. For today I'll celebrate that I was just crazy enough to do this, and that The Bumpus is happily and safely OUTSIDE my body!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Rainy days & Fridays

I think things are returning to somewhat normal around here. B still cries when I leave the room, but he is content in any of his containing devices (jumper-living room, playpen-dining room, Go Pod-kitchen, crib-bedroom) as long as I'm nearby. His extreme fussiness after this trip, and my resulting frustration and exhaustion, really makes me question future non-essential travel with him. It seems the more people I talk to/hear from on this issue, the more people seem to have decided to just not travel for a few years. Although one person last night told me their one-year-old niece can already play basic games on an IPod Touch, so at least maybe by next holiday season B can be entertained by a device of some sort.

This doesn't solve the problem of band travel - one gig confirmed for August, three more in the works, two others I've already passed on. I should just pass on them all, honestly. But I don't want to let the band down, and I do enjoy the stimulation these jobs offer. I thought of maybe bringing a sitter along - I know one girl who might be game - but when you add up buying her flight, paying food for three days, plus paying her, we're into thousands, and these gigs rarely make more than $700 or $800 or so. So maybe by the summer I won't mind throwing money down the toilet - and BOY would it be helpful to have someone else on the flight with me. But I have no idea what B will be like by next summer. He might be a nightmare, who knows? Ugh! I wish people would just stop frigging hiring us already!

For now it is pleasantly rainy and cozy here. I have been baking up a storm and cooking as if to prepare for a major disaster. I get a slight inferiority complex when I see all the people on FB with their trees and decorations already up; I will do all this next week. This week is all about recovery!

And work on my event. It dawned on me that tomorrow is Dec 1st and I still have no pricing structure in place, I am short three bands, and have no themes selected. So yesterday I emailed a bunch of bands, put the schedule online, and started work on the online registration form. Now is when I have to make all the decisions that will affect me until fall of 2014. Can you see why I sometimes get paralyzed and just can't make any decisions? It's very daunting. But it has to be done, and now. Registration opens Feb 1, which will coincide with all of my money running out. But at least I've been aggressively saving, so in case I get into trouble I have a small safety net (which I'd much rather use to build a sleeping loft in my attic than to pay my water bill, but you've gotta do what you gotta do, right?).

Here's a pic of me DJing last night:

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Separation Anxiety

Not sure if we've hit this milestone or if we're both just discombobulated from the trip, but Bumpus has been super clingy/needy/whiny/cry-y the last two days. It's like having a newborn all over again - only one that weighs 20 pounds and can pull my hair out, put bruises all over my arms and legs from kicking, and never sit still for a dressing or diaper change. Agh!

Normally we have a pleasant, quiet home with only the sounds of toys and B chattering to himself. This week it's been blood-curdling screams every time I even make a motion to get up and leave the room, even if I don't actually leave the room. Almost non-stop crying, even when I'm right there. I would question if he's sick or in pain except for the fact that he is immediately happy the minute I pick him up. If this goes on much longer I may just revert to newborn tactics and strap him to me in a carrier all day. He's obviously going through something, I just don't know what, or how long it'll last. But boy do I wish I had my jolly little guy back!

For me, I am somewhat exhausted and fed up, but I think I'm putting a good face on. The band recently got an offer to play a weekend event in Canada in May, and as always I have mixed feelings - it's a great opportunity for us, and personally I'd love to do it. But what about the kid? Do I take him? Who watches him when I sing? Do I leave him behind? Will he be weaned by then? Would anyone be willing to watch him for a whole weekend, and if so, at what cost? Is fifteen months too young to be left behind (I'm thinking probably yes)? I can sub out and get another singer of course. But I do really hate having to make these decisions. So glad he'll only be a little baby once! Someday soon I'll never have to ask myself these questions ever again. That's very freeing.

In other news, I noticed I lost a follower in the last couple of days. It's always kind of an odd thing - I try to tell myself it probably has nothing to do with me; someone was maybe cleaning out old blogs off their list, or just isn't interested in the topic anymore, or canceled their account, any number of things. But then the sensitive side wonders if I said something that offended someone, or if I got boring or monotonous, or since I had the baby the drama is over so I'm no longer interesting. In short, is it something I said? Makes me wonder.

For now I am very busily booking my schedule for the holiday season, responding YES to every invite I get, because I want to get out and enjoy myself as much as possible. Most of these events are Bumpus-friendly so I'll be taking him, but for example this Saturday I'm seeing a movie, so it's to the Baby Kennel we go. Can't wait, personally - I desperately need a break-!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Nipples o' Fire

I think the above title pretty much sums up my holiday weekend. Oh, there was more to it than that, of course. But I'm experiencing yet another episode of breastfeeding-related pain, and it ruled this last week. Months ago it was all-over achy pain; this time it's just the nipples, from being suctioned all night, clamped between hard gums, pulled like taffy and yanked across the room. It's not surprising, then, that they have reacted by feeling like they're on fire all the time. I've never loved my deliciously cool silicone nipple guards more than I do now. Looking for this phase to end real soon!

So, the holiday. Let me just say it was a really nice visit, the seemingly impossible challenge of flights with baby, rental car, driving in the middle of the night to the b&b, etc, all went seamlessly. Everything just worked out. And Bumpus delighted his relatives, and it was a joy to see how much they enjoyed him. But as when I critique a piece of writing and pick it apart for analysis, this doesn't mean I don't like it. So yes, it was a great trip. But here is the breakdown:

B was ok on the outgoing flight because he slept a lot; return was miserable. He is just too big, strong, and full of energy to do this anymore. I am considering shelling out the dough for the extra seat from now on. To spare my neighbors I walked the aisles nearly the whole 5 1/2 hour flight. Thank God for the Ergo! Otherwise he was just a kicking, squirming, back-arching, nipple-tearing maniac. At least I don't have to fly with him again for a LONG time, probably not until summer. Maybe by then I can shell out $1000 for an extra seat. Because this whole thing? This is not happening again, period.

Our troubled sister was ok - no weird incidents - but she sure does know how to shut down a conversation. She has her obsessions - hatred of the wealthy, fear of having no retirement, and her peri-menopause. Even as we were giving thanks around the table she brought it back around to how they have no money in the bank, no savings (join the club!) And she talked endlessly about her hair loss, hormonal issues, rages, hot flashes, etc. What do you say to a person who is always at the end of their rope, who is always miserable, year after year, who's life pretty much sucks, and never gets better? There's only so much sympathy you can offer. I know people got this way with me years ago before I decided to get happy and stop draining everyone. I feel bad for her, but sometimes I wish she'd just lighten up, even if only for a minute.

The weather ended up being very cold, which really restricted our movements. We kind of couldn't do anything, which was kind of a bummer because it's such a neat area with lots of fun activities (Western Mass). Still, with the cold and the baby and the general exhaustion, it was just as well. I have a whole new appreciation for you ladies who raise kids in cold climates, good Lord!

I never did get to sit and enjoy a meal with my family because of the baby, and that sucked. I did feel like my personal experience of the holiday was sort of thwarted, but oh well, it's not about me anymore, right? ;)

I mentioned the story of my friend who unintentionally insulted us (by telling her son B's father left us) and my step mother pointed out that she's a loose cannon, I don't know what she'll say around me, so I don't feel safe around her. Which I think perfectly articulates why I haven't called her back despite her attempts to contact me. Made me feel a little better about it.

I stayed in a solar-powered farm b&b with llamas and goats and peacocks, run by aging hipsters. Will for sure stay again, it was delightful!

And now...Christmas!!!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Too heavy for a Monday morning?

Yesterday I wrote this whole post about being afraid of the toddler years, only to have it disappear when I tried to add a photo. This updated blogger app blows, by the way. But at least it gave me more time to think through these fears and come to the root of them. And the root isn't pretty.

I spent the day with shall we say "spirited" boys, and it kind of freaked me out, as hanging out with other people's children pretty much always does. I was sitting there holding my sweet, innocent, compliant little baby who pretty much has no power, and watching as the older boys poked each others eyes out with sticks, threw sand in each other's faces after repeatedly being told to not to throw sand in each other's faces, and sticking their tongues out at their mothers. It was a nightmare. And I was left asking myself the same question I always ask myself - is this bad parenting, or is this just the way kids are? Which means, Bumpus will some day be like this, too!

Everyone I know with toddlers appears to be struggling (well, based on their Facebook updates, anyway). It just looks so hard. Of course many of them have toddlers and new babies, which is harder. But I still live in terror of the day B becomes angry, defiant, and disrespectful. And it makes me ask the hard question - will I stop loving him if he's like that?

Of course not, you say. He's your son, your blood. He could turn out to be a serial killer and you would still love him (while disapproving of his "choices"). But. Things are a little different from my perspective, because the minute I expressed an opinion of my own and tried to show my mother I was an independent person, she cut me off, and we haven't spoken since. That was essentially the end of our relationship. Could this happen to us?

I also want to tell myself "of course not, you're not a narcissist, and you already respect B as a human being and accept he has a right to his own personality, which your mother never did." But those fears are still there. Sure, it's easy to say that NOW, when he's so easy and a delight to be around. What happens when he's difficult? When we have a series of days of non-stop tantrums and crappy behavior, despite my best efforts? That's bound to happen, right? Even with no divorce or moving or instability? Every kid does that sometimes, right? And normal parents get through it and have a sense of humor. But am I normal?

I suppose it'll be like everything else, where you're just "in it" and you hardly notice the bad times, and there are far more good times. Right now I get little to no sleep, B destroys my nipples, and sometimes whines all evening for no apparent reason. None of these things are particularly pleasant, yet I just go through them because, frankly, I have no other choice. And the hours and hours of constant smiles and cuteness more than makes up for these things.

But I admit it. I'm scared of Bumpus getting older and being a rotten little kid, and not knowing what to do, and not loving him anymore. This scares the crap out of me.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Meeting & Greeting

Aha! At last my Pasadena SMC group is having a meeting that I know about! It's not their fault; I have issues with my Yahoo account and so signing into the group is a real pain, especially since it's best done on the computer, not the phone, and as you know I rarely touch my computer these days because it's so clunky (and I have pretty much ceded the office to the dog at this point). But for some reason I got a string of emails from them about their monthly meeting which is tomorrow...and as long as it doesn't rain, I will finally get to meet some local SMCs! Can't wait!

Yesterday I joined one of my mommy's groups for a downtown LA adventure, which was fun. But I have to say I feel slightly alienated by all the husband talk. Again, not their fault, and they have all been very nice and welcoming to me. But there's something uncomfortably familiar about joining an already established group - they already have their friendships established, and it's my job to try to fit in. It just reminds me of the millions of times I had to do this as a kid since we constantly moved house, with resultant changing of schools, sometimes even in the middle of a school year. It's not fun trying to assimilate yourself into a closed group. So there were times yesterday where I found myself staring into space alone while everyone talked amongst themselves, and for sure being single just makes me feel like I don't belong. At one point I even found myself saying, "oh yeah, we have hardwood floors, too." And who is this "we", exactly? Me and Bumpus, I guess!

It reminded me of how amazed I am that my single girlfriend relationships haven't changed at all since the baby. Those were the relationships that I thought would suffer the most, and yet they have flourished. It really makes me think that it's not children that put a wedge between women, it's husbands! Either that or bitching about men is such a huge part of my life that I still need my single gals to get together and bitch with. So, we still have that in common, apparently!

It's funny because I get this weird attitude when I'm in the married mommy group like these women are all "held down" somehow, even though I know this can't be true. Is this something I tell myself to make myself feel better, superior? Probably. That and years of conditioning from an angry feminist mother (who ironically threw her whole life away over you do). Just the way they talk about their husbands...and it's never negative, mind you...but I see how many choices they don't get because they have to compromise all the time, especially when it comes to parenting. Not getting to choose the name you really want for your kid, for example. Just all those little indignities that go along with sharing your life with another adult.

Although I have a situation right now that I could really use a husband for. My bandleader booked us to play a free benefit tonight from midnight until 2 am, way down in south Orange County (over an hour drive). I originally agreed as we do this every year (though normally not in the middle of the night), but yesterday I got to thinking how insane this will be - B usually goes to bed around ten, so dragging a sleeping baby out at that hour, into a loud, bright environment, where nobody will be able to watch him while I sing, hours away in the cold (and possibly rain), to get home at 3 am and try to get us both back to sleep - and for free? I don't know why I agreed to this. I'm going to tell him I can't come. However if I had someone at home who could watch the sleeping baby for a few hours, I would go. So, I guess those husbands are good for something!