Saturday, February 28, 2009


On the upside, I have one student hooked on the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer. She is now getting in trouble for staying up too late to read. Another student has kicked me to the curb having improved so much they no longer need a tutor. Although I may be back for one of their siblings.

So it's not all doom and gloom. Thank goodness! I am helping.

AND exciting news! I just read an advance copy of my writing group buddy's first book due out in July this year from Juno and Pocket books. It's called Vicious Circle and it ROCKS. Full of steamy werewolves and vampires and magic and way too much chewy fantasy caramel goodness to cover in one sentence. Once the book is up on Amazon, I'll link to it so you can check it out.

Now, I am feeling inspired and think I'll sign off and maybe do some writing of my own.


Thursday, February 26, 2009


I tutor one student who kills all the hope in my heart. After two weeks of missed sessions, someone actually answered the door when I knocked last night. I walked into a kitchen filled with the detritus of half eaten food and strewn garbage. The kitchen chairs had disappeared and there was too much junk on the table to consider using it to teach someone to read.

Stepping over the garbage with the lazy nonchalance only an adolescent can muster, my student led me to the living room, which was just as bad as the kitchen. Empty pop cans crowded the end tables flanked by sentinels of heavy drinking; beer and whiskey bottles. Cigarette butts littered the room like confetti and the stale smoke invaded my lungs. During our session, a Glade air freshener sprayed every thirty minutes, like a sigh of regret, in an effort to make everything smell like roses.

I perched on a wooden chair and my student threw himself on a slumped couch that had probably witnessed the premiere of Miami Vice in the 80s'.  We used a broken kitchen chair as a table and over the next two hours, my student demonstrated an astonishing capacity to forget everything he had learned. More than a month of tutoring and he was stuck at a pre-primer reading level, still trapped by dyslexia and learned apathy.

He wants to go to college to major in wrestling. He has not picked up a book since...ever. The gaping canyon between these two facts feels insurmountable.

And then things got worse. The run-a-way sister breezes into the house with her boyfriend. In a back room, they have a loud discussion about baby names. She appears to have met her goal of not coming home until she was pregnant. She is sixteen.

"When is your sister due?" I asked.


"That must be exciting, " I said because what else do I say about a life that is doomed before its first breath?

At home, I stripped off my clothes and immediately threw them in the washing machine wishing I could wash off more than just the stench of cigarette smoke.

Monday, February 23, 2009


I have not tried any of these with the babeola, but I hope to in the future.

From The Toddler Busy Book by Trish Kuffner.

1.Ice Cube Bags- make some colored ice cubes with food coloring and put in a ziploc bag. Let kids play and watch as the colors melt and mix.

2.Where's Teddy? --Take yarn or string and attach to stuffed animal in a hidden spot. Make a trail with the string for your little one to follow.

3.Blanket Riding--Put baby on blanket and pull around room.

4.Snow Painting-- Fill spray bottles with food colored water and spray on snow

5.Rope fun--Lay out a piece of rope or yarn in a crazy pattern and walk on it like a balance beam

6.Wave Bottle-- Combine water (1/3 of bottle), baby oil (2/3 of bottle), food coloring, sequins or other interesting items in a water bottle. Seal shut with glue and shake to make waves.

7.Jungle Safari--Hide stuffed animals all over the house (keep a list) and go on a safari to hunt them down. For bonus fun, use a flashlight for looking in dark places.

Beyond filling my head with toddler entertainment ideas, I've undertaken a serious study of the state of food in the world, which, in case you didn't know, is a very sorry state. I've also been trying to plan an urban garden and somehow morph that activity into toddler entertainment as well.

This article about world agriculture is heavy denial-head-in-the-sand-inducing stuff, but, I think, really important to read and understand. All the source material is linked so you can read the research the article is based on for yourself.

Starvation...coming to a town near you in 2009.

As part of the whole Transition Town thing, I'm working on a community presentation about the state of world agriculture and its local impact and local solutions. So, now that the vomiting has subsided, I'm pretty busy.

Monday, February 16, 2009


For some reason, I have been throwing up this morning which has triggered post-traumatic stress flashbacks to the stomach flu we had when the babeola was in daycare. That stomach flu gave me black eyes and bloodied my nose all 40+ times I threw up. Fortunately, I think today was a one-off type stomach flu.

Since, I'm finally over my cold, I was supposed to resume my workouts this week, but, due to throwing up, have postponed that for later and now have nothing to do. So I thought I'd tell you about a book I read recently.

The Emotional Life of the Toddler is a thoughtful and sensitive look at toddlers. It is not a prescriptive parenting guide, but rather an explanation. One that helped put me in the babeola's shoes. Seeing things from a different perspective is immensely helpful because it creates room for compassion and understanding to flourish instead of impatience and anger.

The important takeaways for me from this book were:

1. Toddlers are all about their bodies, what their bodies can do, what their bodies feel like, what their bodies produce (boogers and poop primarily as if you didn't know!) and learning to be separate from their parents. These are the two themes that drive almost everything they do and explains why I have to sing 'Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes' two billion times a day.  I also thought it was interesting that the coy runaway games toddlers play are really about reassuring themselves that mommy or daddy will always come and get them.

2.Potty training is under the toddler's control, not the parent's. The parent provides the opportunity and guidance, the toddler decides whether or not to take the parent up on the offer. In fact, potty training (or learning) is all about control and mastery...for the toddler, not the parent.

3.Factoids and nuggets of information like:

--Mild to moderate conflicts between parents and toddlers take place every three minutes. Major conflicts occur at the rate of three per hour. Conflict for 2-3-year-olds is double that of 4-5-year-olds. No wonder I'm so frazzled some days! I spend all my time arguing with a non-verbal tyrant.

--Separation anxiety becomes most acute at 18 months. It increases just as the toddler experiences the urge to leave their mother's side and explore the world. The momentum away from the mother calls for a psychological counterweight of equal magnitude, hence separation anxiety.  Mixed messages like this are common in the toddler years and signify developmental transitions.

The book gave me a lot of food for thought and has enabled me to empathize more strongly with the babeola. It has also prompted me to be sure and reassure her and not brush off her behavior as unimportant, but rather treat it as the vital communication it is.  I've also beeng trying to figure out what it means when the babeola brings over all her stuffed animals for me to hugs and kiss. She really seems to get a kick out of it and I'm not sure why that is. Maybe she's just studying/fascinated by affection?

If you click on the link you will be able to read a large chunk for free. Interesting stuff.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


Ahem. Attention please. Hey you, in the back, shuddup. I have something important to say.

Today, for the first time since my pelvis split to pop out the adorable babeola, I wore a pair of pre-pregnancy jeans.

Sadly, even though the jeans do their best to slurp up the extra flab, I am still fat. But not as fat as I was.

Huzzah. Happy Valentine's Day to me.

I celebrated by eating three calzones (I make really kickass calzones) and cake.  Tomorrow I bet the jeans won't fit anymore. Oh well, it was nice while it lasted.

And here are pictures of the babeola doing her favorite things; reading, looking at herself in the mirror, and sitting on the dog.


Friday, February 13, 2009


First, the babeola has decided it's fun to lift my shirt and lick my back. That is a new one!

Our health insurance changed and we are now in the Kaiser Permanente system for the first time. I faced the change with trepidition and it turns out I was right to be concerned. My asthma medications, which are mainstream normal everday asthma medications, are not approved in the Kaiser system and I have to get special dispensation in order to have them, which means an appeals process. Ridicuolous.

For me, medication is the difference between holding a job and collecting disability. I am not the kind of asthmatic who could be an Olympic athelete. I didn't even think I would have kids as I was too ill to even exercise let alone care for a child and didn't want to pass on the disease. However, there have been so many advances in medical care for asthma that I am, finally, almost symptom free 90% of the time. It's quite disheartening to think I may have to backslide simply because Kaiser thinks my medications are too expensive. Seriously, that's the excuse.

Interestingly enough, I can get a 90 day supply of one of my meds from a reputable overseas pharmacy for $100. My ER visits alone usually cost around $2000 and these medications are pretty much the only thing standing between me and becoming an ER frequent flyer. So I think Kaiser's cost-benefit analysis is screwed up.

Even worse, when I shared with the Kaiser doctor--as part of my medical history-- that we did IVF for the babeola, she asked if I too had eight babies like the octuplet mom. What the hell? How is that an appropriate comment? I replied that no, we had been ethical in our treatment choices and worked with scrupulously ethical doctors who followed the standards of care as established by ASRM. Further, I am not mentally ill.

Then the doctor proceeded to say that I could have two or three at once and that would be fine. Ummmm. Okay. Crazy much, doctor?

It pains me when people make poor choices with fertility treatments. The Gosselins of  Jon & Kate Plus 8 did not come by their sextupluts honestly. No one does. High order multiples are the product of poor monitoring and bad judgement on all sides. Every time. And it is always the bad apple that ruins it for everyone else.

Which is why a medical professional felt it appropriate to make the comments they did.


Edited to add some caveats....

Believe it or not, unlike the octuplet mom, there can be times where transferring more than the recommended 2 embryos is apporpriate. However, these are situations that should be evaluated on a case by case basis and be subject to peer review (most reproductive docs discuss patient protocols with each other, the good ones do at least). The octuplet mom already had 6 children and should have never transferred more than 2 embryos. Her doctor basically committed malpractice in my opinion. Transferring a million embryos is reserved for the hard cases, for couples with no children and  multiple failed cycles (I'm generalizing here for a lay audience, the details are more complex).

Also, you can't prevent all multiples but we can reliably prevent quintuplets and up. With a 2 embryo transfer, the worst case scenario should be quads and that's it. Also, age is a factor in the incidence of twins. So if an older mom does IVF and has twins, was it the IVF or her age? How can you tell? I'm not sure you can.

It would be nice if we could get to a point where high order multiples were a statistical anomaly instead of malpractice.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


I am fairly certain I am not alone in my outrage over the peanut butter salmonella situation.  In case you haven't followed the story, the management ordered the distribution of tainted product because it would cost too much to trash it and start over. In essence, they murdered several dozen people over profit concerns.


But I have seen this kind of management before. Many times.

Were you aware that 1 in 25 people are sociopaths? That, quite often, management is filled with so-called 'functional' sociopaths. Functional in the sense that instead of becoming serial killers, they settle for being your crappy powermongering boss or simply the sleaze that makes sure you do all the work?

When I break out this theory at parties. People shift their weight, look into their drinks, and there is an awkward silence. Sadly, silence is precisely what allows sociopaths to flourish. If you think I'm crazy too, spend some time reading the linked articles. 

I've not only worked for sociopaths (sadly it is plural), I've hired them (and then fired them). Sociopaths are diabolical and without remorse or morals. And there are way too many of them jockeying for power in Corporate America.

So, watching the peanut butter murders unfold, it occurs to me that instead of regulating industry, perhaps we would do better to start by weeding out the sociopaths. Simple psychological testing would go a long way toward preventing food production from becoming a mass murder weapon.

Monday, February 9, 2009


Bend your neck, head on my shoulder,
Let my breath bring you up and down
Frog your legs, up and under
Like before you knew the world
Tucked and creased, edges caressed
Fold me into motherhood

Friday, February 6, 2009


I want to speak to Human Resources tout suite. What is this bullshit that I don't get any sick days? I didn't sign up for this! Where do I file a complaint about my boss?

Welcome to the downside of motherhood. There are no days off. Ever.

Even on the few occasions that I am footloose and babeola-free, I am still consumed by her. I'm amazed to see parents of older kids who are so detached (in a good way) and wonder how I will ever cut the apron strings. I can't imagine letting go, no matter how good that freedom sounds. nose is red. My head is throbbing and it doesn't matter. There are meals to provide, entertainment that must be coordinated, and no rest until later tonight.

The only relief comes from a high level of organization and mastery of multi-tasking. Too bad I'm still a novice. However, I did have chicken soup in the freezer ready to go, a supply of Kleenex laid in, and Zicam in the medicine cabinet. I've sort of given up on decongestants, as doing without while I was pregnant and nursing didn't seem to be any different than doing with. Although I might go for some Mucinex if this thing hits my chest. Oh, and you better believe I am chugging the Nyquil at night. It makes me feel no pain so I don't care if it doesn't clear my sinuses.

What I need to do now is figure out a meal plan for the coming week that doesn't have me slaving in the kitchen all weekend. I am just starting to get the hang of meal planning. I am getting better about exploiting opportunities for efficiency, thinking ahead, using up ingredients, shopping primarily to stock the pantry, and finding stuff the babeola is willing to eat, but I still make rookie mistakes. Like believing the fantasy that two big meals cooked on a weekend will last all week. Or that the babeola will eat leftovers. Or that I will actually want to eat what I've cooked all. week. long.

Sometimes the world I create in my head works a lot better than the real one.

So here goes. The plan for this week.

1. Identify mystery meat from the freezer. I have a package of mushed up dead farm animal and I have no idea what it is. It's been defrosting for the last two days and I still can't tell what it is. Once I figure it out, I need to do something to make it edible. If it's pork I'll make an E. European goulash with sauerkraut and cream sauce. If it's chicken, slow cooker chicken and rice.

2. Make cranberry pork roast in the slow cooker. I found the recipe on Allrecipes. A pork roast, an envelope of onion soup with a can of jellied cranberry sauce in the slow cooker and voila! dinner is served. It's supposed to be divine. I figure if it's not, I can scrape off the cranberry and add barbecue sauce.

3. Unstuffed cabbage in the slow cooker or try the slow cooker shredded beef taco recipe my friend gave me. Or both if I need more food. Hmmm. How to  decide which to make first? The unstuffed cabbage requires more work, so I should do that on the weekend when the husband can take over babeola duty. Then the beef mid-week if I find we're running out of food.

4. I want to make slow cooker oatmeal with walnuts and apples for the husband. Walnuts and oatmeal both help lower cholesterol which the husband needs.

5. In a pinch meal for husband: homemade calzones or frozen portabello mushroom pasta, which I bought for the babeola, but she hates it. The husband is a bit like a goat, he'll eat anything.  That and he'll go grocery shopping when I'm sick (and even when I'm not becuase he is husbandly perfection).

Okay, so that's the plan. Now to make up the grocery list and give the husband his marching orders.If you need me, I'll either be in bed snuggling with the Kleenex or cooking in the kitchen (the Kleenex tucked under one arm, of course).

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


I'm fighting a cold and my computer is full of viruses as well. Too bad Zicam doesn't work on hard drives. Can you believe I think the problem is actually my anti-virus protection? That I have to uninstall it and find something else? That I can't open a single one of my word documents and had to do a system restore just to be able to boot up? Crazy.

If I's because either my head or computer exploded. Or imploded. Or some other equally catastrophic destruction occurred. Send chocolate.

Yesterday was the second music class. For a music class there is a heavy emphasis on silence and not making noise. They like to give the kids a chance to respond to the stimulation I guess. It's very experimental that way.

Anyway, it was a lot more fun this time around. The babeola was more comfortable and had a blast. They use real instruments along with fun props like scarves. If a little one says uh-oh they do a fun uh-oh song (with no words). There's a peak-a-boo song too.

They also had a parachute and we dragged the kids in a circle while singing nonsense syllables and then let them run underneath as we waved it up and down. There was lots of laughing and giggling--I was cracking up myself. One little boy let out the biggest 'wow' at the whole thing.

So thumbs up. It's weird. A little bizarre even, but the kids are really stimulated and intrigued. You can tell it's making them think. And the babeola had a first yesterday, she stacked blocks for the first time. Granted, we were supposed to be drumming on them, but yay! anyway.

Oh, and they do videotape the classes. I guess they like to use the tape to study the kids' reactions. I kind of wish they had warned us upfront about that as I'm not thrilled about my child ending up on some PBS documentary. Last I heard, the going rate for exploiting your kids was two million dollars and here I am paying them!

Monday, February 2, 2009


Except, perhaps, 6 am when the babeola declared, with a loud shriek, that it was time to Carpe Diem. Ouch.

I had no idea babies were so dangerous. The babeola has been killing me with cuteness lately.


First, she says and waves bye-bye now when I put her down for her nap or at night. I love the way she warbles when she talks.  To. Die. For.

For Daddy's birthday, she gave him her first kiss yesterday. I always knew she was a Daddy's girl.

Of course, it's Momma that she blows kisses to, so I'm not exactly out in the cold.

She also brings all her stuffed animals and dolls to me for hugs and kisses. We like to smack Pooh Bear's dupa (butt) and do the dupa chant that I used to do during diaper changes when she was an itty bitty thing. Then we turn Pooh Bear around and rub his Buddha Belly and sing the (made up) Buddha Belly song. She loves this.We do it over and over and over, but that's okay because I love it too.

And, just to keep us on our toes, she's been climbing the furniture. We had our backs turned for one second yesterday and when we turned back around the babeola was walking on top of the bookcase. Yikes!

Yesterday, I was trying to come up with some tag lines for toddler T-shirts. So far I have...

If I'm not screaming and crying, I'm not happy

Emo Baby

My emotions are bigger and badder than yours.

Tantrums: Priceless

I meltdown like Chernobyl

Ah yes, as you might guess, cuteness aside, the babeola is going through a tantrum phase. We're doing our best to help her through it, but its extremes tend to make us wince and wish we had earplugs. And a nanny.