Monday, November 29, 2010

This just in.

Brace yourselves for a big announcement. Forthcoming.

It's coming.

Wait for it.

No, really.

I'm quitting my Job. The nursey one.

No, really. I am. I haven't yet, but I'm going to. I only haven't because I have to drive to Visalia to do it and I don't have the spare hour and a half today. Really.

So that's today's headline. Not big news for you but the biggest of news for us over here. I could write a nice long post about quitting my Job but I'm not ready for that yet. Maybe later. I'm still feeling a little bit fairytaleoverjoyeddazedandconfuzzled about this decision. Oh, don't get me wrong, there's not a single thing I'd rather do than stay at home and raise this Sweet Pea of a Baby. It's just that even though I've been At Home before, it's been a while. I'm a little nervous about it and all the things that go with not being an Out of Home worker. You know what I'm talking about. Maybe not. Anyway. Next item of business.

Because I am about to quit my Job (just the one where I'm a nurse, not the one where I'm nursing) I'm feeling very suddenly domestically motivated. There is a slight problem with this. Well a couple:

a. My sewing machine is broken. It's tragic. Truly.

b. Also despite the fact that we have a fair sized house, I have no place for "crafty" things. They are in a box in storage (mostly).

c. In light of all of this and in despite of it I am still plotting and planning several crafty ventures. Probably too many. It's a disease I have.

And they are:

1. I'm knitting a scarf for my sisters trip to Philly. My sister is Fan-tas-tic. Truly. She deserves a scarf of epic proportions. This may not be big news to everyone but it is to me because I am literally the worst. Knitter. Ever.

No, really. I'm bad.

This is a similar pattern. Only mine is two-color striped. My sister does not like pink. Or anything in the pink family. So I'm using blue and green. I like it. If it doesn't come out crooked maybe I'll whip up another one.

Here it is in progress:
See how I accidentally made one row that has 3 greens in it. I'm not afraid to admit my error. I lost count. I was nursing the baby. I told you. I'm that bad.

2. I'm crocheting snowflakes for our Christmas tree. Granny used to make these. I'm doing it. Like right now. They're fun, if you know how to crochet. If not, they're miserably difficult. Also, working on other handmade ornaments. Because, well frankly we have none.

In other news: I miss Granny. Like a ton.

3. I'm crocheting hats for the children. I prefer knitted hats (ala my mother in law who is a fantastic knitter) but alas, as previously mentioned, I am the worst. Knitter. Ever. Anyway, per their requests hats are underway. Maybe if the scarf isn't an abysmal failure I'll knit them. They should be done by 2012.

4. I'm cooking.

Cauliflower soup.
Don't tell the Hubs. It's what's for dinner tonight. Surprise.

I just met the Pioneer Woman less than a month ago. She's my hero.

Also: Coffee Cake. I feel like I need to make that right. Now.

Did I mention she's my hero. I can't believe I never heard of her before like 3 weeks ago. Where was she all my life?

5. Attempting to make something of our front room.

This isn't really something I'm doing as much as something I need to do.

It's a little bit confused. It's not sure if it's a living room or a music room or a room where people drop their crap. There are drums in there. And guitars. And a huge bean bag. And crap.

That's all.

Here's the drums though. They're really lovely.

Hubs is a drummer. How lucky am I? Drummers are sexy. That is all. Thank you for listening.

(That photo was taken by Myron Yeung. Our wedding photographer. He's amazing.)

6. Working on my etsy store. It's not done yet. Who am I kidding. It's not even started. I'm totally doing it though. I'm not selling anything knitted though. Unless someone is looking for a crooked scarf.

Whilst my mind is preoccupied with the aforementioned items of interest I'm also entertaining the following hobbies:

~gazing at the miracle of Sweetness we've been given. (That's the Baby. In case you didn't know.)

This is her:
I know, right. She's ridiculous.

~ Running after the Big Kids. This takes significantly more time than one would think.

This is them:
I mean look at these kids. If babymaking was a business, I'd go into it. They're that awesome. (In all fairness, I can't take credit for the one holding the Baby. She's my sister. But I'm claiming her anyway. She looks enough like the rest. No one will know.)

~Cooking. Cleaning. Laundry. Shopping. Keeping house in general. Kind of.

~Doing my derndest to support the Hubs in his career and Other Financial Ventures. (This bascially means, trying to keep the kids from talking to him every 10 seconds when he's trying to write code, which is a whole other thing I don't understand.)

That's what I'm up to. Stayed tuned for more news as it develops.

Warmest Regards,


SAHM turned RN turned SAHMRN. Recovering craft addict. Abysmal knitter. Lover of cake.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Dinner and a show

I'm an advocate of family time. You know, time spent as a family. However your family is defined, I for one, think it's important you all sit together and connect. Whenever. Dinner seems a logical time. Right?


Our family has six people in it. If you don't count the dog and cat and bird and the tortoise and the three spiders the 10 year old keeps in his room. Coincidentally our table also seats six. (This is going to be a problem if we have another baby. Someone will have to sit on the floor. I hope it's not me.) We eat dinner together every time we are together. (Which is to say Big Kids are not with their dad). This is four nights a week. The other three nights the Hubs and Ella and myself just stare at each other trying to figure out why it's so quiet. Oh and we have a conversation about something relevant, usually. Anyway, those four nights we sit at the table together for food and conversation. Kind of.

We had a game we used to play all the time when Big Kids were still Little Kids called Hi-Lo. Each person in the family would have the floor to discuss the high and low points of their day. Presumably uninterrupted. Presumably. We went in order of youngest to oldest. This worked. For a while. Then, somewhere along the way, this game become passe' and the chaos that we now recognize as dinner ensued.

Now, I hate to have to admit that I can't keep my children under control, but I can't keep my children until control. They're just too big to be sat on.

Typically it goes something like this:

Me: Dinner is on kids. Let's go.
Boys: (stampede) Where? Where? We're STARVING.
Me: Ok good. I'm glad I cooked then. Let's eat.
15 yo: Hang on MOM I'm talking to Marissa.
Me: No. You're not talking to Marissa. Get off the phone it's time to eat. (while trying to move out the way of the starving boys who think they are going to die)
15 yo: Ugh. fine
Hubs: Ok everyone let's get at the table. (He likes to play Good Cop)

Then... We all get to the table.

15 yo: (hiding phone on lap under table, text messaging, I'm just going to guess it's Marissa)
Me: Put your phone away please.
Boys: Where are the forks? Pass the _____? Pass the _____? PASS THE _______?
Hubs: Boys, don't yell at the table please.
Ella: (sleeping in the sling on me)
Me: OK let's try to have a civilized conversation. 15 yo (of course I would be using her name here), how was your day?
15 yo: (completely unaware I exist, still looking at phone in lap)
Me: I'M GOING TO TAKE YOUR PHONE AWAY. Please put it down.
15 yo: GE-AWD MOM. OK.
Me: Don't talk to me like that please.
Ella: (stirring in the sling on me)
Me to 12 yo: That's not true. And stop yelling.
Hubs: (silently eating)
10 yo to 12 yo: STOP BEING A BABY. OH MY GOD.
Ella: (now awake and looking scared)
Me to table: Alright that's enough. Can we PUH-LEASE just eat dinner and have a conversation without anyone yelling. Let's play hi-lo (please God can't we just go back to the days of playing Hi-Lo).
10 yo: OK. My high was.... when I had recess today and I was playing tether ball and...
12 yo: (cutting off 10 yo to recite line of movie/tv show or talking in one of his comedy voices)
Hubs: (laughing at 12 yo)
Me: (giving 12 yo dirty look)
15 yo: (rolling eyes) Can I look at my phone now?
Me: (head in hands) I give up.

And no one has even eaten yet. At this point I usually have some kind of mini-mental breakdown which scares the children just enough that they are willing to stop yelling and have a conversation. I've resorted to tears a couple of times. I'm not proud of it. Don't you judge me.

Does this sound familiar at all? Please say yes.

Dear. God. Please. Say. Yes.

I'm going to keep sitting sitting at that table though. At 6 pm on any given night that's where you'll find me. Even if I have to drag them all there kicking and screaming. It's happening.

We're eating dinner. As a family.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Breastfeeding is Bestfeeding

In 100o words or less... talk about breastfeeding. Go.

This blog isn't particularly amusing or out of the ordinary. It's just something I wrote as part of my quest to not return to work (cause I really really reeeeeaaallllly don't want to). Also I should credit my Hubs who acted as Editor in Chief of this post (a new designation for him, in addition to his usual duties of being awesome).

Here goes:

As a new or expectant mother, you are filled with the best of intentions for your child. Your head is swimming with the possibilities this new life holds. And you are no doubt being bombarded with advice from friends, family and literature on how to provide your child with the best foundation for success.

What if I, a mother of four as well as a Registered Nurse specializing in maternal-child health, knew a secret that could assure you a closer, more intimate bond with your little one? What if that same secret would assure your infant an IQ of 5 or more points above average? What if the secret held myriad health benefits for both you and your child? If you are an open-minded mother in search of the best for your child, I will assume I have your attention.

The secret will save you money and keep your child from visiting the doctors office so frequently, as children often do. It will prevent a host of chronic illnesses and diseases including diabetes, leukemia, intestinal disorders, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, many childhood cancers, meningitis, pneumonia, urinary tract infections, salmonella, diarrhea and even more. It could significantly reduce your infant’s risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)?

The secret will help you lose weight and tone your uterus after childbirth, and significantly reduce your risk of cancers of the breast and reproductive organs. It requires no special equipment or products, and doesn’t require you to go anywhere or do anything special or out of the ordinary. And as the icing on the cake of benefits, the secret is ecologically aware and environmentally sound, reducing your carbon footprint and leaving the world a little cleaner than you found it. Did I happen to mention it’s also free?

Perhaps I should have said secrete instead of secret, because this simple thing you can do as a mother, that will achieve all the aforementioned benefits, is to feed your baby the milk that you yourself produce.

There is enough evidence to support that breastfeeding is, by leaps and bounds, the best way to feed your baby. In fact, breastfeeding might be more aptly named bestfeeding. And these things I mention are only the tip of the breastfeeding benefit iceberg. There are so many astounding benefits to feeding your baby in this way and not surprisingly, more are being discovered every day. This is, in part anyway, why I chose to exclusively breastfeed all four of my children from the moment of their birth until they self-weaned somewhere between 14 and 18 months.

When pregnant with my first child I made the commitment to breastfeed. I had no support from family, no friends who had breastfeeding experience that could be shared, no words of wisdom, no advice to be offered, no where to turn for help. I myself wasn’t even breastfed, nor did I know anyone who was. Bottle feeding had become the normal and accepted way to feed a baby. I questioned the notion of portion control and a one-size-fits-all scientific “formula” (pun intended) for what babies should eat. My intuition told me breastfeeding was better. I set out with my conviction, my desire to be successful, a newborn baby and two functioning breasts.

It seemed with everything in place anatomically - a healthy milk supply and a baby who needed to be fed - I’d undoubtedly be successful, presumably with little effort. I soon found this was not necessarily the case. I had a fussy newborn child with a latch issue, engorged breasts full of milk and an excruciating case of mastitis. As I quickly learned, even with all the necessary parts in place there is no guarantee breastfeeding will come easily. The natural thing doesn’t always come naturally. Like other skills in life, sometimes it must be learned. With a shelf of books, the phone number of a lactation consultant and determination for success I set about learning it. I became a sponge for knowledge and soon saw the fruits of my labor, my happy, healthy, thriving infant daughter. With relative speed breastfeeding became second nature. I found myself easily and comfortably nursing in the mall or grocery store. My determination to be successful and desire to give my child the best was indeed bearing fruit.

I subsequently took this passion and determination into my profession as a Registered Nurse caring for mothers and their newborn children and then to my community to spread the good news: It can be done! Not always effortlessly, and not without some support. But it can indeed be accomplished. And the extra effort pays off in all the ways mentioned above and more. As a community of parents we can support each other in this effort with encouragement and information, stories of successes and lessons from failures. We, as mothers, and as a culture, have the power and solemn responsibility to make choices that will positively effect the lives of our children and thus the future of our society. Feeding your baby in this natural way is the first simple step.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


I have two. Surprise.

They work really good. At feeding babies and other things, like making my shirts not fit.

Recently there has been somewhat of a controversy brewing over on facebook regarding photos depicting babies/children breastfeeding. Several women who have profile and/or album pictures of themselves nursing their children have had their photos and/or entire accounts deleted because of "objectionable content". This has led to a kind of online protest. Apparently "objectionable content" includes a half exposed breast being used for the purposes of feeding.

For example this:
Would be deleted.

And this:
Would also be deleted.

That is my baby. And yes, those are my breasts. (Well one of my breasts. The one on the other side looks just about identical.) Those photos of my infant child enjoying her booby time are considered objectionable by facebook standards.

This one though, is just fine.

By the way this is Heidi Montag (in case you live in a cave). I did not actually get this picture from facebook but I have a good fb friend who has a photo of herself far more scantily clad than this so Heidi pales in comparison. I didn't ask my friend if I could use her photo otherwise I would have just to make a point. Anyway. There you go. Appropriate. By facebook standards.

(Those aren't real. Just in case you were confused and thought we had evolved into milking cows.)

Here's the law: Cal. Civil Code § 43.3 (1997) allows a mother to breastfeed her child in any location, public or private, EXCEPT the private home or residence of another, where the mother and the child are otherwise authorized to be present. (AB 157) (emphasis mine). Ok so facebook is a private site and therefore can apparently self govern so I guess laws about breastfeeding don't specifically apply to them because technically facebook is considered a "home". Go ahead read that again, see if it makes sense. It doesn't.

Now, I'm not one to get my panties in a bunch over much but there are a few things at the top of my list and guess what, breastfeeding is one of them.

There are a few reasons for this:

a. Because of my education and health care background I happen to know scientifically (not that that means much) of the health benefits of breastfeeding. In case you didn't know they include things like improved health of mother and baby, reduced cancer risks and protection against asthma, diabetes, leukemia and a host of other things. If you need more than that, read the link above. I'd hope not.

b. Because I've seen firsthand (four times now) what breastfeeding (and especially exclusive and prolonged breastfeeding) can do for a mother and her baby.

c. Because we are one of the most educated and advanced countries in the world (or so I'm told) and yet we still breastfeed our babies less and for a shorter duration than many other countries (see here for data).

d. Because I think (this is just me thinking btw) that a whole load of the problems in our country are directly related to a few things. One of those things is parent-child bonding and attachment. If you aren't attached to your breastfeeding baby you're a monster, or you have a detachable breast, which last I checked isn't possible.

There you go. Reasons a through d. (Also on the list of "thing to get your panties in a bunch about": racism, sexism, homophobia and fear mongering. Just so you're aware of my hot points.)

So like I said this one chaps my hide just a little bit. Besides being utterly ridiculous it only further perpetuates the image of breastfeeding being somehow sexual in nature (right, because milk is so sexy) when we need to be normalizing it as part of our culture.

I nurse in public. Yep. I'm one of those women. I just take my breast right out at the dinner table of a restaurant or in a store or at the mall or wherever I happen to be when Ella is hungry. You know, cause she's HUNGRY. I'm certainly not going to make her wait to eat while I go find some filthy empty bathroom stall. No. Thank. You. Also, I don't generally cover her head because, well, that's silly. I'm not hanging my nipple out for goodness sake. I realize I'm not saying anything that hasn't been said a hundred million times by breastfeeding advocates all over the world, I'm just saying it again. Because *some* people appear to not be getting the picture.

Like this one:

The picture of a happy, healthy, exclusively breastfed baby.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Alprazolam. And Thanksgiving.

To the non-medical types that word might mean nothing. But to those who have used it, that word might mean the difference between panic and sanity. You know what I'm talking about.


I've never taken it.

But, with the holidays approaching... well, I'm still not taking it.

We should talk about my family. I don't think it would be completely out of line to perhaps have a candy dish of said alprazolam on hand for such stress-laden holiday events as Thanksgiving. I can't talk about the crazy parts of my family because that would be rude. Not that they read my blog. But anyway. It's rude to say your family is crazy. I'm pretty sure.

Thanksgiving is approaching. I'm cooking for the Hubs, the big kids, Sister (if she can make it after eating in 2 other places) and my perpetually single father. (He's funny, attractive and 60 [but acts 45] years old and available, ladies.) I should say "We" are cooking because the Hubs will be in the kitchen too. He's that guy. Anyway we are not going to the Big Family Dinner. That's another blog post. Xanax not necessary. I hope.

Once I had a patient who kept a candy dish of vicodin on the table next to his easy chair. (Privacy disclaimer: Because all patients are protected by HIPPA, as they should be, I will not reveal details about patients or their families. I will not reveal details about specific illnesses nor will I reveal names or locations. Specific situations will be slightly altered to protect privacy. Because most of my readers know where I live there is no point in me trying to pretend I live somewhere else or not reveal where I live at all. My patients privacy is of utmost importance to me so I will not compromise it. If something I say resembles you or someone you know, I promise you, it is only coincidence. OK. That is all.) Anywho, candy dish of vicodin... I thought that was funny at the time but now I see it's just a matter of convienence. I mean you keep the remote next to your chair right? Right. Save yourself the trip to the cupboard. (I don't advocate the use of so much of any medication that you ought to have it in a candy dish. By the way.) This is purely anectodal and has no real bearing on this blog post except that it's funny that someone would keep vicodin in a candy dish. Thankfully no one actually expected to find candy in his house.

All you're likely to find in the candy dish here is actual candy.

And probably some turkey. Probably.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Slacky Mc Slackerton

That's me.

I have a good reason.

No, really.

I was sick.

Well, first my eldest daughter was sick. Then I was sick. Then the other big kids were sick. Then of course Ella was sick. The, after he thought he was going to escape it, the Hubs got sick too. I think we've sufficiently covered our bases now. Thank you. Oh wait, did the dog get sick? OK she's next. Then we're done.

Amidst all the business of being sick my Sister came. Yep, Sister. Capital S. Even though she's my little sister (by 14 years no less), she's HUGE to me. I haven't blogged much about my sister but you'll hear about her. A. Because she's like one of my children (for a variety of reasons I won't go into now) and B. She's A-mazing. Like really. Anyway she's in grad school right now which means she has time to study and occasionally pee and get food, so I haven't seen her since two weeks before Ella's arrival, which might be close to the longest we've ever been apart. So she met Ella and it went as suspected... Smashingly. (As an aside: Why don't more people use the term smashingly? Fantastic. I'm using it.) There is little that pleases me more than having all my lovelies in one place together. If she had come with godiva I might have fallen over dead. On the spot.

Since she arrived two important things have happened.

1. Ella slept on her for like a hundred hours. This gave me the opportunity to bake cookies, bake rolls, make fried chicken, fold laundry. Wow. I should have gotten a massage.

2. She figured out how to get Ella's stroller open. I confess. I went to school for several years to learn how to care for the afflicted but I haven't the first idea how to open Ella's stroller (nor do I care since I carry her everywhere). Raegan figured it out.

She only smashed her hand once.

As a result of her arrival I haven't even been thinking about blogging or anything else other than talking to her like we do (and blowing my nose).

My apologies.

Not really.

I mean could I miss this?
Or this?

No. Way.

And while I'm talking about having my loves together and how happy it makes me, let me take a turn to serious town. I have lots of photographs of myself over the years. Well not lots exactly, but enough to document my presence. I typically don't like the way I look in photos. Do any women? I'll find something wrong. For example: I look fat. My skin looks bad. My right eye is smaller than my left eye (it's totally true). I look fat. Or.. I look too skinny (Yes. I had that phase too. We'll talk about that another day). Or whatever. I'm my worst critic as they say. It's pathetic. No really. Stop criticizing yourselves ladies. Monumental waster of time. Anyway, I digress.

But recently something strange has happened. Suddenly, and by suddenly I mean like WHAMMO, I see someone different looking back at me. Oh sure I can still find flaw (I'll spare you that detail). But all of sudden my wrinkles look sweet to me because they mean I laugh. My face appears eased because my stresses pale compared to my joys. My smile genuine because I have so much to smile about. My body relaxed because it is. I might be imagining it but I've heard it from other people too. So, probably not.

"You look so happy."

Why yes. Yes, I do.

There has been a change in me in the last year and a half and even in the last 2 months that I recognize and that others can see. I'm still the same Joni under those wrinkles. I'm just a better version of myself. It's being a happy and loving wife and mother and a thoughtful and intelligent nurse. It's being at peace. I like what I see when I look at me.

That is all.

Sister is visiting the other family that's not me. (What? We have other family? Hmph.) Big kids are with their dad from this evening through Wednesday. And finally after a weekend of sneezes and coughs I've got time to re-tidy the house, scrub toilets, wash all the clothes and spend some time being otherwise crafty and housewife-ly. But what I'd really like is for everyone to just come back home.

So we can laugh. And cry. And destroy the house. And I can make some more wrinkles.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

out of the mouths of 15 year olds (daughters in this case)

Disclaimer: These are just things MY 15 year old says (or has said at some point over the last year or so, give or take). I make no guarantee that every 15 year old will say all (or any) of these things. There is a pretty good chance you're going to hear some of them though. Repeatedly.

a. Mom, I can't wear the black Uggs with the brown belt. Ohmigawd (yes, it's one word). You just don't KNOW.

{No, clearly I do not.}

b. Mom, you are NEVER going to believe what (insert any girls name here) said today. She said she couldn't believe (insert any other girls name here) even LIKED (insert any boys name here). He's such a JERK. He was totally flirting with (insert yet another girls name here). He doesn't even deserve (insert 2nd girls name again).

{Things used to be so simple.}

c. Mom, I'm hungry.

{Why am I not surprised?}

d. Mom, we don't have ANYTHING to eat.

{Except that cabinet full of food.}

e. Oh. Em. Gee. Mom. Your boob is totally bigger than the babies HEAD.

{Gee. Thanks.}

f. Mom, don't worry, it's ok for you to get big when you're pregnant.

{And. Again.}

g. Mom, are stretch marks inherited?

{Yeah. In reverse. I got mine from you.}

h. Mom, I have the BEST idea. Let's go SHOPPING!

{Wow. That sounds super fun. Let me ask my huge human head sized boob if it wants to go too.}

i. Mom, my room IS clean. No, it's clean. I swear.

{By the standards of? A homeless guy? Oh, ok. As long as we're clear.}

j. Mom, WTH, why can't I have a facebook. Come ON. PUH-LEASE.

{Ask your father.}

k. Mom, how do you know when you're in love?

{If you have to ask, you aren't}

l. Mom, what if you like a boy but he doesn't like you? Ooooor what if he doesn't even KNOW you?

{Introduce yourself. If he still doesn't like you, he's a idiot. At least temporarily. Move on. Wait 20 years. Call him up. See what happens. Maybe you'll get married. :)}

m. Mom, why is your hair like so awesome and stays curly and mine won't stay curled at all. It's LAME.

{Genetics. Learn to love the hair you've got. There is a no exchange policy on hair.}

n. Mom, does this purse look ok with this outfit? (always say yes. Always. You're going to be wrong anyway) . NO, it does NOT. You just don't KNOW.

{No. Obviously not. Oh see h. We should go get another one. :-|}

o. Mom, when did you lose your virginity? Were you like married? Or what.

{How about we talk about my stretch marks again?.}

p. Mom, what is sex like?

{Fun. Or it should be. Next topic. }

q. Mom, you are like (btw, insert the word 'like' randomly in any sentence for 15 yo effect) SO good at being a mom. No mom, really. You're like (there it is again) GOOD. How did you get so good?

{Years of practice. Mostly on you. Sorry about that.}

r. Mom, Ella is the luckiest baby ever to have you for a mommy.

{Thanks honey. I love you too.}

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Why becoming a mother AGAIN at 36 was the best thing I've ever done

I read somewhere recently some rules for blogging (yeah yeah you caught me referencing The Pioneer Woman again. Whatcha gonna do about it?). You can read that post, it's enlightening. Or not. Whatever. In any case, here I sit. I don't have any sort of case of writer's block or anything, just a case of what do I need to blog about today... Here's what's on my mind:

When I told my dad we were expecting a baby (my 4th, hubs 1st) his words to me were actually, "Are you SURE you want to do that AGAIN?" Of course this isn't saying much for my dad (he doesn't read the blog though so he'll never know). When I was pregnant with my 2nd child he warmly declared, "Wow. You really want me to not be able to deny that I'm a grandfather." Geez. Thanks dad. No, seriously. I love my dad. He's fantastic. He played guitar and sang me down the aisle when Matt and I got married in July. He cried at our wedding. Like cried. A lot. He's a genuinely genuine guy. And I'm a genuine daddy's girl. He might have some trouble seeing the value in having children though. I'm just guessing.

It's my sweet husband's birthday today. He's 36 years old. He's younger than me by 78 days (but who's counting). He just became a father for the first time (though for all intents and purposes he's got 4 kids. A real parenting crash course.). Anyway, thanks to Ella, my well functioning uterus and a night back in December, he now has a biological child as well. This occurred 8 weeks ago today. And this is "why becoming a mother AGAIN at age 36 was the best thing I ever did" reason #1 (I'm in a list making sort of mood this week, for what's it's worth). Also, these are in no particular order. For what it's worth.

1. I made my husband a daddy. And he's super good at it too. Seeing him hold our little baby girl just makes my heart feel like it's going to explode.

(This isn't really physiologically possible btw. Maye a valve or two would bust, but the heart actually exploding... Not likely.)

2. Renewed (or expanded) faith in my body and myself. In case you haven't read this blog, I had Ella at home. Strange and/or controversial as this may seem to some, it was literally the best decision we have made to date (aside from making her, which was obviously a precursor). Having a baby at home is fun (no, I'm not using drugs of any kind). I'd do it again (I said I wasn't using drugs.). Like tomorrow (no, really, I'm not). Also, as the post I mention above declares, while any birth I believe helps make a woman what she is, this one was paramount for me. I believe that what a woman gains from her empowered birth makes her stronger, wiser and generally more capable. This may sound braggart to some, but I'm proud of myself for having a nearly 10 and a half pound baby. In. The. Kitchen.

We have a secret in our culture, and it’s not that birth is painful. It’s that women are strong.
-Laura Stavoe Harm

That pretty much sums that up.

3. Becoming a mother again has made me appreciate the kids I already have that much more. Corny. True. It might sound like I'm saying I didn't already appreciate them. Not the case. Moms (and dads, to be fair), remember when you had your first baby and you loved it so much you thought your heart would burst? (See #1. It won't.) Then you were going to have #2 and were scared you wouldn't be able to love it as much/give it enough attention/etc. (See #8) Then you had the new little baby and bam, love multiplied, not divided. The human brain has an amazing capacity for love. Thank you oxytocin.

4. I have more patience now. That's not saying too much. I'll admit I wasn't the most patient mother at age 20. I still have my moments (you know like when two adolescent boys are trying to kill each other over a PSP or I open the 15 yo's closet to find a hidden pile of clothes that reaches my knees) but my 3 big kids and Ella all benefit from the mellowing that occurs with age. I'm like a fine wine. I think.

5. I have a better grasp on what's important in life. Priorities. For example:

Important: breastfeeding a hungry baby on demand. Not important: scrubbing toilets.
Important: talking with my children. Not important: talking on the phone to my mother (sorry mom. You're moving down the list.)
Important: Hearing my kids laugh. Not important: Hearing people on TV laugh.
Important: Feeling good about your body and your health. Not important: Obsessing over the size of your backside.

I think you get what I'm saying. Life is short. Enjoy.

6. I'm no longer terrified of being a mother. At the risk of having a calamity of some kind, I'll admit, there is little (in the realm of normal, and some not so normal) that I haven't seen or done. This includes, but is not limited to: Wounds of all shapes and sizes, depths and widths. Colic. Various surgeries. Snotty noses and attitudes. Vomit and/or poop all over everything, including your clothes and/or furniture (sometimes simultaneously). Pneumonia. Asthma. Boy trouble. Girl trouble. Heartbreak. Bad grades. Trouble with teachers/students/yard duty people. (Once my son actually almost got expelled for drawing a cartoon strip depicting the school being blown up by a bomb. Active imagination that kid.) Anyway. I've seen a lot of stuff. I no longer feel the need to sterilize everything the baby touches. Spit will do. I now know that if a 4 year old doesn't want to wear shoes, probably the world will continue to rotate on it's axis if he goes barefoot. Also, mascara is not poisonous. X14 will clean your shower AND ruin your sofa. Boys bikes should really be designed to protect their penises if they fall (see various surgeries, above). A child can take until they are 3 to fully potty train. They won't poop their pants forever. Even if your mom insists they will. Mud washes off of most things and is also not toxic. Eighteen month old boys are very clever at finding ways to reach cookies. It's not the end of the world if your 7 year old knows the f word. If he says it at gramma's house, you might have a problem. There is little that scares me for I have seen a lot of it. I'm ready. Except for the really bad crap. No one is ever ready for that. I've seen that too. That crap terrifies me. Next topic.

7. It's this feeling you get about your kids. I'll admit one (actually two) of my children were not intentionally conceived. At the time this seemed like kind of a..... well, problem. A crisis even. Of epic proportions. With one of them I actually didn't have room in the house OR the car. But along he came anyway. By the power of failed birth control. It was a pretty big deal at the time. Like... Oh. My. God. How am I going to feed and clothe another WHOLE PERSON? But you know what, there is no way I'd ever live my life without that kid. He is my baby boy. The sweetest kid. He cried when his pet spider died. When Ella was born he sat behind me and cheered me on telling me I could do it. And like every child we've got, I can't imagine if that birth control pill had worked. Can't even fathom. It's magic. Kids just wrap themselves all up in your heart. It what keeps you from giving them away when they're so terribly two, wildly eight, know-it-all 12 and snotty 15. It's natures way of keeping them safe. Anyway... Our house would be so boring without Ella.

8. Cute (and functional) baby things. When I had my first daughter 15 years ago swings still had to be hand wound. I am dead serious. You'd wind them up, put the baby in, they'd run out of go and whammo, awake baby. OR you'd actually remember to re-wind it BEFORE it ran out and the stupid winding mechanism itself would wake the kid up anyway. Now... batteries. Brilliant. Also there were no bumbo's or chairs that vibrated and played womb noises, nightgowns still had stings on the bottom (cause no one had choked on them yet I guess), carseats didn't have detachable bases you could leave strapped in the car (crazy) and if you wanted a double electric breastpump you would have had to sell your soul to buy one. (Yep, I nursed for 16 months hand expressing and using a single sided hand pump. Good times.)

9. Life experience. This is not to say that 20 year old people don't make good parents. (I was a parent at 20 and that kid is doing alright. As far as I can tell anyway.) But this is to say that 36 year old people have seen and done some more stuff. Most of them anyway. I couldn't share what the stress of college and working full time was like with my child when I was 20 because I hadn't done it yet. I didn't know much about politics. (Though I was liberal back then too. Yes, I voted for Clinton.) I didn't know how to carve a turkey much less raise a child. I'd been exposed only to a handful of religious beliefs and ethnicity's. I grew up in a town of less than 50,000 people. But by the time I was 25 I'd know 2 people who were brutally murdered. I'd see one kid shoot a hole right though his hand. I'd lose my own unborn baby, both of my dad's parents, my mother's father, one aunt to suicide and my great grandmother who was like a mother to me. I would have had my house broken in to twice and my car stolen 3 times (You might be getting the picture that I wasn't living in the small town anymore). Also, incidentally, I've seen more in my career as a RN than most people will see in their lives. You get the idea. Experience. I hope Ella can benefit from it.

10.Did I mention patience?

11. It was an incredible experience for my other kids to see their sister born. Not only did they see the beauty of new life, they saw the power of women. My boys got to see, through their stepdad, how a woman should be treated. I hope this teaches them how to treat their wives. My daughter got to see what she deserves as a woman. Birth was normalized for them as safe and beautiful, not something mysterious and frightening. And all of them now have to to learn how to share time and space with a whole other person (see #7). They're better for it too.

There are more reasons than this but I'm going to stop now because I know what's important and I've got a baby that's ready to nurse on demand. :)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Pioneer Woman

Disclaimer: This is me whining about having to go back to work. Because this blog is for me and my own therapy. And I need some.

In case you don't know The Pioneer Woman, here she is. I'd never heard of her before yesterday. I swear. Because I blog, you'd think I would have read her blog. But no. I have not. Or at least not before this morning (well yesterday afternoon). Apparently she's like SUPER FAMOUS (making my little baby blog seem pretty silly). My friend Staci pointed me in her direction (as she was encouraging me, in the way only my sweet Staci does, to start a professional blog) and I admit I was drawn right in. Her blog is fantastic. I mean really. She's got photos and contests and recipes and crafts. She's like the wonder woman of blogging. However, as far as my own personal blogging is concerned, I feel like the internet is pretty saturated with blogs and people trying to make money that way. It's all been done, as they say. I have nothing unique or new or fresh to offer the world. Not when there are Pioneer Women out there that are the epitome of amazing.

However, that said, if I could quit working in the sense that I put on clothes and my badge and stethoscope and go out into the world every day to care for the sick and dying, then I would. I'd miss being able to give to society in the way I feel I do in my job as a nurse. I'd miss my patients and their families fiercely. I'd miss the nurses I work with. But... you really wouldn't have to ask me twice. In fact you would even have to ask me one half of once. If I could make a living at home blogging/cooking/crocheting/ knitting (ok I probably couldn't make a living knitting cause I suck at it)/watching TV professionally/babysitting other women's children/baking cookies/, I totally would. I went to school for like EVER to become a RN (ok it was only a few years but still, nursing school is stressful) but I'd still put all that on hold to see my little baby grow.

I'm pained by the thought of leaving Ella.

Like pained pained. It's the elephant in the room for me right now (which is why it deserved it's own line). Oh sure I can conceptualize the thought of getting dressed and driving to my office and going to meetings and going to patient's homes every day. But when I REALLY think about it, dropping Ella off at someone else's door, pumping during the day, not carrying her around in the sling, not seeing her smiles and giggles, my heart wants to break into a hundred million tiny pieces. I just don't wanna do it. Like throw a temper tantrum on the floor kicking and screaming and make an absurd scene don't wanna do it.

Since I've started looking for childcare options my desire to throw a tantrum is growing stronger. Must. Kick. And. Scream. I know I'm not alone. I think statistically something like 58% percent of women would rather work outside the home. Yeah. No thank you. Not this momma. I'm perfectly content to cook and clean and care for children. I'd darn socks and make dresses and bake my own bread. I'd get spit up on ad pooped on all day. I'd scrub floors and toilets (when I wasn't gazing at my sweet baby). I'd do it. I swear. And I'd never ever ever complain (well maybe a little bit when I missed adult conversation). I was born to be domestic.

When I had my first sweet screaming baby girl my mom gave me this sage advice, she said, "Oh honey by the time that baby is 6 weeks old you'll be DYING to get back to work." She lied. She totally lied (it's not the first time either, sorry if you're reading this mom, you're a really good cook, just so you know). Liar. I took Kelsey to the sitter (who was my friend ever) and then I cried. And when I say cried I don't mean blotted my eyes with a tissue and silently sniffled, I mean ugly sobbing snarfy cry. You know the one I'm talking about. I did it every day for months and months. It was torture. But I had to work. And I have to work now.

There was a point where I didn't work. It didn't make sense to put 2 kids in daycare (and then 3 kids in daycare) on the salary I made then but you know living is like expensive man. Expensive. And we've got 4 kids. And the two in the middle eat enough that I have to work just to feed them (Ella only drinks boobie which I can make for free, thank goodness). Also my 12 and 10 year old boys have both already grown out of the pants I bought them when school started (which was, in case you aren't keeping track, like 2 months ago). And. And. And. Kids are expensive too.

Anyway, the point being, I need to work, and I'm working on getting ok with it. My sweet husband is working his hiney off trying to find a way for me not to work. Bless his talented pea picking heart. But alas, I am skilled. I have a degree and I should probably use it, even if I'm totally not in the 58% mentioned above. Frown.

Suggestions are welcomed and encouraged from all you working mommas.

Pumpkin head :)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

On being a mother...

Disclaimer: I use a curse word in this post. Twice. The word is shit. I apologize. It was for effect.

My friend Val over at Val McCormick Photography linked my blog on her facebook yesterday (I've know Val since I was a snotty preteen, btw, and so has my husband. He wasn't snotty in 7th grade though, just cute.). She suggested moms read my blog which made me think about...well, being a mom, and blogging.

Once I actually did write part of a book. It was more just a bunch of stories stuck together in what I thought might become a book someday (in the spirit of David Sedaris), but it didn't make any real sense, my rambling about whatever that wasn't really connected. The only common thread of the collection being I was a mom of 3 small children at the time and some of my days were so sitcom comical that I felt like I had to write about them (again, David Sedaris). Then one day, in true sitcom style, my computer crashed and it was all lost, because, in true sitcom style, I hadn't backed any of it up. I thought that might have been the universes way of telling me I ought not to be telling my stories to the general public. In any case, it was funny, if I do say so myself. Tales of me gardening in the nude because I was so frantic to water the tomatoes that I forgot to get dressed, of grape juice containers exploded upon white kitchen walls and freshly mopped wood, of cheerios spilled on grocery store floors with 3 crying children and other things about being a mother (PS I really love David Sedaris. You don't have to read his books but if you don't you're missing out. I'm just sayin'.).

In that light I want to tell you 10 things I wish I'd known about motherhood (you know, before I had a crying real live baby on my hands at the ripe ol' age of 20). Some of them I learned 15 years ago and some of them just in these last weeks, since I became a mommy to another sweet soul. Life is a journey, not a destination. So here it is...

1. You can live on less sleep than you think. A lot less. Chances are when you look at your baby you won't really care that you haven't seen the inside of your eyelids in what seems like an eternity. You'll sleep again someday. Probably. I should add that the combination of lack of sleep + having not enough hands or time to do all that needs to be done (like look at yourself in the mirror) you will eventually walk out of the house with your hair in total disarray/your teeth not brushed/a stain on your shirt/a booger hanging out of your nose. Possibly all of those. On the same day.

2. Alternatively, you might feel like you're going out of your mind from lack of sleep. If this is the case, you probably are and you should get some sleep. Like... now. A sleepy, grouchy mom is ineffective and just plain miserable. Ask my kids. Even with a full nights sleep, no guarantee on the booger thing though.

3. Having a baby will change your body in ways you can't imagine. Women don't tell you this. By your 5th pregnancy (and in truth it probably won't take near that many) your stomach may act as a curtain for your pubic hair and your breasts might resemble something like a tube sock with a rock in the end. On the other hand, if you are one of those women who can fit into her pre-pregnancy jeans and look like she's never been pregnant at two weeks postpartum, I'm sorry, the rest of us hate you. Well, not hate so much as envy. In any case, your husband, if you're lucky like me, will love your body even more than he did before it carried and birthed your baby. I suggest you try to love it too. It's the only one you've got. It's not broken, it doesn't need fixing, it's just new and improved. And squishier. (Note to self: have husband write a guest post on this)

4. Your house is going to be a mess. That's ok. Laundry will pile. Floors will be dirty. I promise you it won't be messy forever. Well it might, but whatever, it's just a house. When your kids leave and it's tidy, you'll just wish they were there to mess it up again. Trust me, I might be the most obsessively clean person I know (next to my mother), the day I let it go was the day I was freed from the prison of my own misery. When the 3 big kids leave to go to their dad's house I madly clean the messes they've left behind, then I sit on the sofa and cry, wishing they'd just come back home and make it a mess again. It's just a house.

5. The things you said you'd never ever do in a million zillion katrillion years like give your kids candy for bribery/take them to McDonalds/beg borrow and steal to get them to eat ANYTHING green/let them sleep in your bed when they are 4, you will do. People will judge you. If you have to give your 3 year old a sucker to survive the grocery store, oh well. That might be the only way you both make it out alive. Those teeth aren't permanent anyway.

6. Your children will make you cry. When they are babies you will cry along with them because you can't get them to stop crying/don't know why they are crying/are just realizing what you signed up for. When they are toddlers you will cry because you can't get them to mind you/eat anything that isn't macaroni or comes from a box/stop crying for every toy in the store. When they are school aged you will cry when they scrape their knee/don't make the football team/get left out of whatever circle of bratty kids they wish they were part of. When they are in high school you will cry because they tell you you're the worst mother ever because you won't let them have an xbox/cell phone/boyfriend/black eyeliner. When they are in college you will cry when you drop them off at the dorm and then again when they get their heart broken/fail a class/move into their first apartment/graduate. What happens after college, I can't say yet because I don't know but I'm sure there's just going to be more crying. When they get married/have their own kids/cry because of said kids. You're going to cry, with them, for them and sometimes because of them. If you're not a crier like me then you'll just do whatever thing you do. I cry. I just keep tissues around.

7. Your children will also make you crazy. Batshit, looney tunes, going out of your flippin mind crazy. Just when you think you've got them figured out, they'll enter a whole new phase and make you crazy again. Just when you think your baby is going to sleep all night long they'll start teething or having separation anxiety or having nightmares. Just when you think you've figured out how to get your 3 year old to eat veggies, they'll go back to eating peanut butter and jelly. Every. Single. Meal. Just when you think you see eye to eye with your 11 year old because you have a reasonable conversation, they'll hit puberty and turn into a hormonal monster. And just when you've got the teenager all figured out they'll move away and you won't know what they're doing or where they are and that will drive you crazy too. It's helpful to recognize this before it happens so you don't commit yourself to an institution.

8. Your first child will get a full baby book with a million photos and every milestone recorded, brand new un-spitup on clothes, lots of attention from family near and far and every minute of time you have. Your fourth baby (or 2nd or 6th or whatever) probably won't get all that. At least not the full baby book. I'm just keepin it real. You just won't fill out the book when 4 (or 2 or 6) small people are trying to get your attention. Bottom line: If you only have one child you'll be worried it's going to be spoiled rotten/self-centered/unable to share. If you have 4 children you'll worry they are going to feel left out/ignored/abandoned. You can't win either way. Accept this now. If you are a mother who has kept a full baby book for every baby, please email me now, I need lessons and then to award you the Nobel Prize for Peace AND Literature.

9. Whatever kind of parent you are, someone will tell you you are doing it wrong. If you are an attached parent (like me) people will say things like you're spoiling your baby/your baby is never going to learn to walk/you're going to be sorry you let your baby sleep with you/I can't believe you're STILL breastfeeding etc. etc. It's bullshit. You have to parent your kids. You might be doing it wrong, it's possible, but if you love your children and you aren't abusing them, the person criticizing you is probably just an opinionated jerk. You have my permission to tell them so, or at least just to nod politely and completely ignore them.

10. Along those lines you will continuously question your parenting. If you think you've got it all right, all the time, there's something wrong with you. Or you're Jesus. Or you should write a parenting book. Or you're one of the people mentioned in #9. You will worry that you're spoiling them/not spoiling them/hugging them too much/not hugging them enough/being overprotective/not being protective enough. You will worry that they are going to grow up to hate you for what you did "to them". Don't worry, they will. They'll probably go to college and then need therapy and then call you and tell you it's because you never bought them an xbox/cell phone/black eyeliner that they are so terribly dysfunctional. Then they'll have their own kids, call you, apologize for being a jerk and ask you how you did it. At this point you should write them a list of things you think they should know about parenting, like this one. Start the list with #6, just to make them feel guilty.

11. (oops, turns out there were 11) Until you are a parent you won't believe how much you can love another person. Other parents will tell you and you'll nod and agree but you won't really know it until you feel it first hand, until you gaze at your baby and see the future through their little eyes and realize they are your heart, your soul and your everything. And you'll probably cry. Just keep some tissue around.

Theses are my four hearts. :)

(FYI: The one in the blue shirt is thinking about how I am ruining his life by making him take pictures. As far as I can tell the other 3 are just hoping it's over soon.)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Crossing the lines to party.

aka crossing party lines.

Blog Disclaimer: I'm not trying to start a political debate. Just, you know, writing. My friend Liz over at Pharm Girl did a blog post yesterday about voting. I read it just I was starting mine. Anyway, Liz is a smart girl and a conservative voter. But I love her anyway :)

So... It's voting time again. Just in case you live in a vacuum or black hole and you've haven't heard of Meg Whitman. Yeah. It's that time of year. The leaves are changing. The weather is cooling. The phone is ringing off the hook with the sounds of pre-recorded voices urging you to vote for this or that or whatever. You can hang up. I give you permission.

Let me start with this: I am liberal. (Oh. My. What did she say?)

Yes. That's right. I am a liberal in a town of conservatives. I confess. Please don't toilet paper my house. Being a minority is tough. My Obama sticker got stolen right off my car. Twice. I wasn't raised by liberals. That doesn't make sense because my parents smoked a lot of weed and were into that free love thing but still my dad is conservative. Weird. I don't think my mom even votes, which is worse than being conservative even. My grandparents are also conservative. Like "have a signed picture of George W. Bush on the wall" conservative. Reeeeally conservative. So I came to my liberal place on my own. I went to an eco-conscious/liberal college where if you didn't recycle you might as well have been a felon and if you weren't pro-choice you might as well have been from Mars. I chose that college. It was my first choice. I applied to 4 other colleges but that was the only one I cared to attend.

I'm not too crunchy but I do recycle. We do what we can. I teach my kids love and responsibility for their surroundings (I mean not their bedrooms obviously, but whatever). We drive an astoundingly big car, it's true, but my husband drives an abnormally small car to offset this environmental offense. We conserve water. We cloth diaper. I wear my babies. We had our baby at home, but we aren't hippies. I breastfeed, not for 6 years, but I do. I'm not going to stop washing my hair or anything, but I do what I can.

Anyway when it comes to politics and voting I subscribe to the following method: Vote your conscience. So I do. I acknowledge that my conscience might not be yours. That's ok. But here's how I vote: I vote with love and concern for other people, or what I think best promotes that. The gay people. The straight people. The people who can't pick. The Christian people. The Jewish people. The atheist people. The liberal people. The conservative people. The socialist people. I even love and care about the people with the Vidak sign on their lawn (or it was on their lawn, but I didn't steal it, I swear. It wasn't me). If I'm not sure how to vote on something I vote 1. for the good of the people I care about (my kids mostly) or 2. for the environment. If I'm really not sure I ask my husband because he's also liberal, and has a lot more opportunity to read the news than I do (AKA: His job is awesome.)

I don't mind political debate. In fact, I welcome it. Good conversational exchange leaves both parties feeling like they've gained from the experience. I think that what makes being human great is that we aren't the same. So let's celebrate those differences. Get out and vote, however you're voting, unless you live in California and you're voting for Meg Whitman. Nah I'm just kidding, you can vote for Meg, then we can have a good conversational exchange about it.

I voted. Now I'm going to go vacuum. Priorities you know.
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