Sunday, July 30, 2006


I've recently read two pretty interesting books: _Affluenza_, about the enormous, obscene amounts Americans consume, and _Mountains Beyond Mountains_, a biography-type book about Dr. Paul Farmer, a doctor whose work in Haiti basically points out the enormous, obscene amounts of money Americans waste that could save millions of Haitian lives. The first book is not so great, I don't think (it reads like the "based on a PBS special" book that it is and doesn't give a lot of new ideas ). This second book, though, is really, really troubling and absorbing. Read it, you all, and tell me what you think. Farmer sounds like a really complex, interesting guy, and the point of his life's work is that medicine _is_ political and that to you can't only treat the illness (TB, for example, in Haiti) without also treating the causes: poor water supply, inadequate food, and so on). It's a book that helps me continue to reflect on the US's role in foreign affairs and how our tax dollars do, in fact, affect real lives in real places.

These thoughts were tumbling around in my head yesterday as we drove around looking for houses. I have this problem--perhaps it's American, perhaps it's middle-class, I don't know. I want a simple house, and yet I want enough space for my two kids and frequent visitors. I'd like a small yard--doesn't have to be a lot. We *love* this community and the idea behind it--Hidden Springs--but to get into it, we'd basically have super-duper high house payments and no money for the furniture we'd need for this kind of cool house. But oh, the neighborhood: it's still just a middle-class thing, and it feels a bit "disney-fied" since it's so new--but the houses are each pretty different from each other and have the kinds of details missing in so many of the other housing developments in our price range: cool front doors, interesting porches, garages in the back, a common garden, a pool you can walk to, etc. So, on the one hand, I think this kind of housing development is trying to be better than the average one. And yet, it's pretty expensive--that is, despite their talk of wanting a mix of incomes, you're not going to find a lot of lower-income folks able to make a mortgage on a $350,00+ place--and it's out of the city, so folks will do a lot of driving into work.

So I was feeling sorry for myself last night that we found a cool spot and very likely might not be able to live there. And then I remembered that I'm looking at houses whose garages are twice as big as the average Haitian's house.

And I tried, really hard, to not feel the "how can everyone else afford it but we can't" feeling. That's my one goal for this week: to be content with what we can afford; to make a life wherever we are; to be overwhelmingly in awe of the excessive riches of this country that I benefit from.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

A family intervention

Another milestone reached: last night we retired the pacifier for #2. Before bed, we talked a little bit about how big he was and how he was going to get to sleep with Piglet and his blanket. I'm not sure he got it--much wailing and gnashing of teeth (well, just wailing) ensued...60 minutes of it, to be exact. Tonight it was only 30, so we're on our way.

So anyway, this family is back on the screen after waiting two unbearable weeks for the cable modem to be hooked up. DH took to driving to Baja Fresh and sitting in their parking lot to use the wireless and check email. We're settling in to this new place and space (and are trying not to be depressed about house prices, which are high for our midwestern sensibilities but probably bargain basement for some of you golden staters.

Hats off to LCS for keeping this blog going--and in such smart ways, too!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

How babies eat: A disturbing lesson in biology

Apparently the cover of the latest edition of Babytalk (a free baby oriented magazine) boasts a picture of... gasp!... a nursing baby! How crude! Hard to imagine how that got by the editors when this world is so full of modestly dressed folks to whom the flashing of a breast would be unthinkable.
The editors are actually getting a bagful of mail opposing this display. I will assure you that this picture includes the view of a big-eyed baby who is obviously nursing and some flesh. To be honest, he could very well be chewing on an arm or shoulder as far as the picture reveals. But just to be safe, one woman shredded the magazine because she didn't want her 13 year old son to see it. In her view, "a breast is a breast regardless of what it's being used for." Huh? Her son could see many exciting views of the human breast (as well as other body parts) by just walking into the Gap. Or watching Paris Hilton advertise a hamburger. Or looking at the magazines at the grocery checkout stands with pictures of barely-clad celebs and articles like "How to please your lover" and "What men really want in bed". Another woman didn't want her son or her husband to even see a picture of a boob because it's such a sexual body part. I had to read that again... her husband?! I guess I'd be rather worried about the state of my marriage (or my husband's mind) if I had to censor my husband's exposure to a picture of a nursing baby. Oh, and did I mention these were folks not from Bahrain or Saudi Arabia, but from the good ol' USA.
I wonder what these people would have done had they accompanied us to the zoo. At our visit last week we saw a mother giraffe whose baby giraffe was nursing right there in public. Yep, in full view of all the toddlers and teenagers, the baby giraffe goes up to his mom's giraffe breast and eats. My 2.5 yr old said, "Oh, look, he's getting mommy milk just like baby #2!" He didn't dwell on it beyond that, because in our house breastfeeding is normal. Not kinky, not weird, just as natural as eating Cheerios. I know he would have been a lot more curious if I had quickly covered his eyes and moved on to the monkeys.
So what's the deal, America? Is it sinful to see or sinful to do? Because I am currently a nursing mother (should I blush here?), I know first hand how extremely unsexy nursing is from my vantage point. And as far as watching, just don't. If it's such a bothersome thing, don't watch, because I don't know a nursing mother who is doing it as a demonstration.
And so, to all the women fearing that their husband might run off with the first lactator (lactatress?) he sees: fear not. No normal man is going to get any sort of charge out of this kind of activity. He's not going to even be turned on unless he's eating Viagra-laced breathmints or something, and if that's the case, you've got bigger problems than can be solved on this little blog.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Her return looms large...

Hold onto your hats! Just to let you all know, my dear sister will finally have internet service at home, after a 3 week lag and will therefore.... begin blogging once again! You are all rejoicing I'm sure at the prospect of less lame blogs. So stay tuned.

Thursday, July 20, 2006


I'm disturbed. A fun blog I often read (see what-was-she-thinking on your right siince I don't know how to link it) has a posting with a picture of... Teen Mommy Darci. Yep, spelled like that. Sorta like Trailer Trash Barbie. How could they pair such a regal and majestic name such as Darci with teenage pregnancy? Argh.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Hot Moms?

On yesterday there was a piece about a new movement (and I use that term loosely) among full time moms in which they ascribe to being a hot mom. Clarification: hot, as in sexy like Angelina Jolie. Not hot, as in living in 110 degree heat FOR OVER A WEEK, LIKE ME. (Not that it affects my mood of course. I'd never be that emotionally labile.)
So back to the hot mom idea. I find it rather demeaning. Just seems to say, "Sure, stay home and be a mom, but make sure you maintain yourself like the harem-dweller that you are." One of the rules in the Hot Mom Club is "get rid of the sweats". I for one haven't worn sweats for many moons BECAUSE I'M VERY, VERY HOT. And not like Angelina Jolie. I just thought it interesting that as the entire country faces a heat wave we're concerned that mothers of small children might adorn themselves in the very thing they're trying to avoid: sweat. But I digress. The other helpful tip (applied after one's closet is rid of all sweats) was "wear kid-friendly fashions". It was super-helpful that they demonstrated what those fashions might be, because I wouldn't have predicted them. The Hot Mom wardrobe that was modelled (by a real mom, I might add) included heels. Stilettos, platforms and strappy sandals. I guess I've lost all my heat, because there is no way I can push a stroller, carry a baby in my carrier and see the animals in the zoo in high heels. Call me crazy, but if Boy #1 decides to sprint through the parking lot, chances are my hobbled feet would not keep up. A child racing through traffic? Definitely NOT hot.
In defence of this most ludicrous Club, they did provide one tip that I consider to be helpful. The suggestion is to take time for yourself. Hear, hear. Then they lost their footing again but adding the suggestion that all Hot Moms take time to (sit down, you'll be shocked) shop, go to the spa and get rejuvenated. Am I the only American stay at home mom on a budget? Yikes. I buy my shoes at Target and my rejuvenation time usually means grocery shopping with less than two kids. I want the Hot Mom life, that's for sure.
While on the subject I have to include some celebrity wisdom. Uma Thurman has something to say about stay at home moms. She says (and yes, I'm quoting), "The stay-at-home mom is over not just because of women's liberation but because of men's liveration from wanting to be the breadwinners." So I guess if Uma Thurman says it, it's true. I AM OVER. Which, I think, is also NOT hot.
So the Hot Mom Movement can just move on. Without me.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

How far do I go with this?

Last week we were up yonder visiting my mother. For a few nights our 2.5 yr old was struggling to get to sleep... starting with the "I'm firsty" and continuing with "I don't wanna lay down yet", "Can I have a car? No, another car,", etc etc, ad infinitum UNTIL. He started to ask me about where the lady in the box has gone.
We have recently gone to several funerals of people that he didn't really know in his young life... And he surprised me by bringing the lady in the box up completely at random like that since our last funeral was 3 months ago. I tried the heaven idea, but it was somewhat lost on him. "Where's heaven?" And so I went through the "It's where God is," idea, which is tricky to navigate with a very literal-thinking toddler. He was happy that she was with God, since he's beginning to grasp that God is a good guy to be with, but I had to admit his concerns were beyond me when he asked the question only a 2 yr old would contemplate. He looked at me, quite puzzled, and said, "Did God help her get her clothes on? I think she just put one arm in herself." I agreed, and with that, he settled into a long summer nights dream.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


I like the idea of doing a blog that isn't just a personal diary, but I have to admit, it's a bit difficult for me. So here it is, another breathtaking reflection on my life.
Spent the last 10 days in Oregon with my family... mom, dad and my sister and family were all there. My thoughtful husband even flew up for his 4-days off, which was great. And the best part is, we went to an oncologist at a teaching hospital. One of his areas of study has been in carcinoid cancer (which is what mom has) and he was so hopefuly about developments in treatment options. It was absolutely a breath of fresh air. After having worked (professionally)with lots of oncs I have to say I think there are about three categories which every single dingle one of them fall into. Exhibit A: nerd. No personal skills, no ability to rate, but very smart about statistics and the science behind their passion, although not able to explain it to anyone who doesn't have a Mensa membership. Exhibit B: nice and boring. More people skills but still 90% scientist, 10% human being. And then there's Exhibit C: crazy person, wildly passionate about oncology, and loaded with confidence. I'd say this guy falls squarely into the last category. It was so great to hear someone say, "If this doesn't work, we'll try that. If that doesn't work, we'll try something else." So yay for hope. I know there's still going to be moments of grief, but this is a really good turn in the road, to find someone with tools in his pocket.
Now if only mom could start feeling better... Recovery is a long road, but the good news is there's a longer road out there than we thought.

Monday, July 03, 2006

My mother, the Dutchess of York

When you're up, you're up
And when you're down you're down
And when you're only halfway up you are neither up nor down.
I think the Noble Duke of York (for whom this ditty is written) must have known about our mother. I think we've officially entered the hard part of this disease. She's back in the hospital, and while it's not life-threateningly serious, it's a setback. Maybe in the grand scheme of things, setbacks just help us come closer to a place of acceptance when the inevitable finally happens. But it's scary because when this does happen, it reminds me that I'm really going to miss my mom. And I already miss the things that she'll probably never be again. She may never be full of spunk and energy and ready for a day at the outlets... or maybe she will, but chances are better that she won't. It's hard to be positive and realistic at the same time and yet I know there's going to be the hospitalizations, unexpected infections and obstacles because that's just life with a complicated, and ultimately terminal, illness. Life sometimes throws curveballs as they say, but I feel like this is 100% fast ball coming right at me and I'm not ready to swing yet.