Thursday, December 11, 2008

Bite me

About a hundred times a day. That's what it seems like anyway. I know that toddler biting is a very common problem, but I'm not finding it easy to deal with. The firm "NO BITE" that all the books and websites say to give only stops her in the moment, and she's back with a mouthful of vengeance pretty soon thereafter.

I know she does it when she is tired or frustrated or over-excited, and I try to keep those times to a minimum. The fact that she's been teething for the vast majority of her brief life to date doesn't help either. I've found that consistent napping helps tremendously, but it's not really solving the problem.

Honestly, it's not that I worry about having bite marks all over me; I do, however, worry about her biting her little sister. It's only happened once so far -- right smack on the little one's head no less -- but it could so easily become habit. More importantly, I guess, I worry about her biting some other kid in one of her activities. We go to a library group and a music group, but in both of those situations, I'm there to watch her and participate with her. At my gym however, she's in a big play room with lots of other kids while I'm trying to lose an ounce or two of the fifty pounds of baby weight I'm dragging around with me. The woman who cares for the kids is very kind and on-the-ball, but how could she manage every little thing?

So does the biting go away with the teething? It is just a natural phase of life, an outlet for the pains and frustrations of being a baby?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

All it takes is an egg and...

Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday. This year, I am particularly thankful for the blessed Friday after, a day my husband gets to spend at home with me and les girls. (Well, he's actually spending it at home installing flooring in our basement, but you know what I mean --) I celebrated the extra whole-family day by making a big hunt breakfast, as my mom and dad like to call it, complete with eggs, soy bacon and homemade pumpkin muffins that I somehow managed to bake while making dinner two nights ago. (Hello? Domestic goddess committee? I'm over here...) As I finished scrambling the eggs and Michael was scooping up Josephine to put her in her highchair, he paused so she could see what I was doing, and said "WOW, look at Mama's nice eggs!" Not a beat (pun intended) went by before we both cracked up (ditto) thinking about how this is the first November in two years that I haven't been pregnant. I told him to get away from me and my eggs -- it's not that I don't like the rapid-fire babies we already have, but I'd like to take a year off!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Bad Mama

So we've already determined that I'm a bad mama because I let my almost eighteen-month old watch TV -- just Sesame Street -- but TV nonetheless.

But I've been thinking a lot about the research that says that children shouldn't watch any TV before they're two. What I have noticed is that my daughter's language capabilities have skyrocketed since she started watching it. I don't know if it is the style of talking that is prevalent on the show or her comfort with the characters or just the sheer excitement of the presentation of letters, numbers and words. I haven't noticed that having it on has had any negative impact on my now four-month-old either. If anything, she gurgles and giggles more when she hears her big sister talking. For example, Elmo's World did a segment on bananas, and at the end of it, he sang "The Banana Song" to the tune of "Jingle Bells," and days later, Josephine is still singing it. And every time she does, her little sister cracks up. The day she saw it, Josephine RAN to the kitchen and wanted a banana -- shrieked with perfect diction in perfect rhythm of the song. She learned to count to four in another episode, and now she lines up things and counts them. In fact, I think she may be nursing a major crush on The Count.

So what's so bad about this small TV habit? Are the researchers issuing an overly cautious caution so that dumb parents don't strand their kids in front of COPS or 24 or some other less educational, overly sexual or violent programming? I suppose I should read the research before I go and spout off about it, but done responsibly and in moderation (ummmmmm like everything in life) it seems more than fine to me. Media is a huge part of our culture, and don't we need to show our children how to integrate it into life without becoming a couch potato?

I am an educator, but I can't say that day-to-day life in our home would have taught her the counting -- and certainly not the sheer joy of landing on "FOUR!" the way Sesame Street has. I can't say that I would ever have thought to sing "Jingle Bells" using only the word banana. I'm grateful for the intelligent, timeless programming that is offered by PBS -- it's a great crutch for a Baby Buncher like me -- and it's really fun for my babies.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A haircut

has never been one of my favorite things. As a gal with long, curly (read: frizzy) hair, I always dreaded the snips that made my hair curl up, frizz up even more. Until I found Ouidad. I've been having my hair cut by the lovely Vincent at Ouidad for I think 10 years or so -- he, like all the stylists there understands the whys, wherefores and how-tos of curly hair. I had my haircut for the first time since before Josephine was born (yes, that's right, about eighteen months) on Saturday. Vincent was surprised to see me -- not with one baby, but with two, since the last time he saw me I was eight months pregnant with the big one. Vincent and Ouidad and lots of folks in the salon oooohed and aaaaaahed at the babies. It was a nice homecoming, and we laughed at how Josephine's hair seems to be curling up, too. I think I actually enjoyed this haircut. The haircut was a loss of a lot of dead weight.

I haven't been taking care of myself. I mean, obviously, I've been busy, but I mean I really haven't been taking care of myself. I've struggled in the last four months to do the basics: eat well, exercise, get dressed, brush my teeth. None of my pre-first-or-second pregnancy clothes fit, because if you remember, I was only not pregnant for two and a half months between babies. I'm not one of those women for whom the weight just fell off when I started nursing. And if you are, I really don't want to hear about it. I started the week last week by joining a gym -- my friend and birth doula belongs there, and if it is cool enough for her, it is cool enough for me. I've actually been going, and of course I'm still fat, but I feel better.

During both of my pregnancies, my hair grew like crazy. It was coarser, thicker, and it grew long over those eighteen months. But when it all started to fall out for the second time after the second baby, it didn't look or feel good. My hair had atrophied like my sorry limbs, and atop my mushy body I had scraggly -- but very long -- hair. It almost didn't curl it was so tired. Vincent was kind; he didn't lop it all off in one fell snip. He knew that would have made me faint. He gingerly cut off inches -- maybe ten, maybe eleven, I don't know -- until I felt light, light light. It was a wonderful feeling -- better than going to the gym. Better than putting on a real bra after wearing a nursing bra for how long? Yeesh.

It's a trek for me to get into the city for my haircuts now that I have two under two, but I'm not going to put it off from now on. That feeling of buoyancy, that lightness -- it might be the best diet yet.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Are you a buncher?

I am -- as you probably know if you've visited my blog before. My babies are a mere 13-months apart. Since I've been a borderline shut-in since the arrival of the little one, I've stayed sane by reading about other moms with babies close in age. Baby Bunching is a fabulous site written by real moms who have kids all bunched up. There are tips for bunches and links to other mama bloggers like me. If you haven't checked it out, you should. Even if you're one of those moms with 2, 3 , 4 or more years between your kids, you might find some cool tidbit!

And to my fellow bunchers -- cheers! But make it a mocktail if you're still nursing!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Baby Proofing III: Packing Tape

OK, seriously. We haven't done a good job of baby-proofing our home. I often find an outlet cover somewhere other than an outlet, thanks to some 17-month-old smarts. She'll often stand by an outlet -- touching it -- and say "NO!" clearly imitating me. Nice. I'm dreading what I know she will teach her little sister.

But today, I've found an area of baby proofing in which I have apparently excelled: packing tape. I used to keep it -- you know, the kind with its own dispenser/cutting mechanism -- in our hall console, so that I could quickly tape closed the hundreds of returns-by-mail I make from my little online shopping habit. (Oh come on, don't tell me you don't do it -- I don't believe you.) So anyway, when I went to tape up some too-small stuff to send back, it wasn't there, and I remembered that I had moved it because Josephine found it one day. But WHERE? Can I find it anywhere in my mess-of-a home? No. And I've looked in all the obvious and not-so-obvious places. My desk. Michael's desk. The buffet. The pantry. I still can't find it. But Josephine hasn't found it either, so I guess my strategy worked -- baby proofing is as easy as a little forgetting.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Then and Now

Watching the beautiful events of Tuesday night in Grant Park, I thought of my dad covering the 1968 riots that happened in the same place. I asked my dad to write about this juxtaposition; here is what he wrote:

Personal histories are forever and indelibly marked by momentous events.

I remember exactly where I was when I heard the news of John F. Kennedy’s assassination or when I witnessed man’s first walk on the moon. I hate to admit it, but I even remember where I was when I heard of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s death. The event was seared in my mind when I got home and found my mother crying.

I thought of this as hundreds of thousands jammed Grant Park recently to witness the debut of America’s first African-American president-elect. They were mostly young people filled with hope and enthusiasm. They cheered as tears welled in their eyes. It was a time, a place and an event not to be forgotten.

I remember being in a different part of that same Grant Park some 40 years ago. There were plenty of young people in the park that night, too. But they were jeering, not cheering. I was there because it was my job to be there as a reporter for the Chicago Daily News. The Democratic National Convention was being held in Chicago that year and Vietnam anti-war protesters had gathered in the city to make their voices heard.

They were shouting and chanting. National Guard troops were lined up along Grant Park--often called “Chicago’s front yard”--in an effort to contain thousands of protesters. I saw police, wearing light blue helmets, arrive in busses. They started swinging their truncheons as soon as they hit the street and encountered anyone in their paths. A teargas canister came rolling down Michigan Avenue in front of the Conrad Hilton Hotel.

The crowd of young people massed in the park across from the fancy hotels, and their voices grew louder. “The whole world is watching. The whole world is watching,” they chanted as television cameras recorded the events for all to see.

Citizens were shocked at the actions of the police. Senator Abraham Ribicoff came to the podium in the convention hall and accused Chicago of using “Gestapo tactics” in trying to silence the protestors. Mayor Richard J. Daley, a delegate to the convention, shook his fist at the senator and shouted profanities at him. A government commission later described the event as a “police riot.”

I will never forget that week of the Democratic National Convention. It was so different from the jubilant scene of the other night.

I have returned to the vicinity of Grant Park dozens of times since 1968, but I wasn’t there to witness this week’s election celebration. Like millions of other people across the world, I was at home watching every minute of it on television.

Although I wasn’t there in person this time, I was able to see the hugs and high-fives, the smiles and the waving of the “yes we can” signs, the absolute joy of it all. It was a totally well organized and planned event that came off without a hitch.

And maybe the best thing about the triumphant celebration was this reality. The whole world was watching. -- Joe Cappo

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

To My Daughters

Tonight, as you sleep in your cribs, our country elected Barack Obama as our next President. It is an unprecedented achievement for him and for our country as we take a giant step forward in terms of true equality. I am thrilled to know that our country is changing course, and I am hopeful that this means you have a better chance of growing up in a peaceful, prosperous country. Your father and I supported Barack and worked on his behalf, as we knew how important this election was. I hope you will both be active in working towards a better world when you are old enough to choose to as well. America is beautiful because of the people who live here, work here, dream here; I hope you will be a part of keeping our country beautiful. I pledge to work on your behalf until you are able to do so for yourself, and I will do it with my mother's pride and joy. Although you girls are my world, America is my country, and tonight -- and for at least four years to come --I will be heartily waving my flag.

With all my love,

Monday, November 3, 2008

Election Eve

Honestly, I can barely write today. I'm a ball of nerves about tomorrow's election, so I'm looking forward to going to our local Obama office later this afternoon to make some calls to folks in neighboring Pennsylvania. Please, please, please vote -- wherever you are -- especially if you're voting for Obama. This isn't a done deal yet.

Why is this important to me? Why am I so amped up about this election? Is it just my infatuations with Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow? Hardly...

Several years ago, I left my job in publishing to become a high school English teacher. My goal was to inspire kids to learn something -- hopefully something useful. I taught in the Bronx for two years, and I have just recently resigned my position in Newark, NJ to take care of my own babies for a few years. I could write a whole series of blogs about what is wrong with education in America and in particular in our urban areas, but I'll save that for later. To (over)simplify, there are many things that kids need, but mostly they need hope and some dependable people. I found that I was sometimes the only reliable adult in my students' lives. In the classroom -- often without the books or supplies or air conditioning that my students needed to do as well as the ones in the fancy suburbs -- I would find myself telling my students that they could be or do whatever they wanted in life as long as they worked for it. Heck, they could even be President! But was it true? Did I actually believe it? I'm not sure. I've been a progressive pretty much my whole life, I think, but in retrospect, I think my line to my students was mostly wishful thinking. Barack Obama has changed all that, and it makes me tear up just thinking about it. I really can look a student in the eye -- no matter the color of their skin or their gender -- (thank you, too, Hillary Clinton) and tell them that it is possible. I'm looking forward to being in the classroom and having that moment again.

I'm not just supporting Barack Obama because he says he's going to pay teachers more and my union tells me he's the right choice for us. I support him because he has moved our country's civil rights battle to the next level. I support him because he understands how to organize people for action. I support him because he is thoughtful and his speaking reflects that. I support him because he hasn't gotten mean, nasty and negative -- and because he doesn't need to. I support him because he personifies hope for me, my students and my own children. Won't you join me?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tearful goodbye

Josephine has never been a baby who cries when I leave her. These meltdowns were always reserved for her dad, making the beginning of his daily commute to the big city difficult for everyone involved. It used to make me sad that she wasn't sad to see me go, but I reassured myself that it was healthy -- and really a wonderful thing-- that she was so comfortable with the caretakers we have for her. In fact, Josephine is just a friendly, open little creature. At our music class last week, as we were all putting on our shoes and jackets to leave, she made eye contact with and ran over to the nanny of one of the boys in the class. She held up her arms smiling and said, "Up!" to this almost-complete stranger. Once up, she rested her head on the sweet woman's shoulder and sighed in delight.

So I was so surprised yesterday when my sixteen-month-old Josephine burst into tears as I got ready to go to the grocery store. She was in the care of her beloved Aunt Li Li, so I would never have expected it. She waits all day for Li Li's arrival, and I am chopped liver as soon as she walks in. But dissolve into tears she did, trying even to walk out the door with me. She looks so particularly tiny when she weeps, and I am always surprised at the size of those tears in relation to the girl. I tried to comfort her as best I could. As I drove off, I thought back on how it used to make me feel when I'd leave and she'd be smiling away. Now I was sad, much sadder indeed, at her momentary despair. As an educator, I know all about that whole object permanence thing, but it doesn't make much difference in a moment like that when it is your own child feeling the anxiety.

Things go in cycles, though, I guess. The last thing I saw as I averted my eyes from Josephine's sad face was Lucy's big grin as she bounced in Li Li's arms and I pulled out of the driveway.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Tag! Six Things

I’ve been tagged by my dear friend, birth doula and fellow blogger, DoulaMomma! So I’ll step into the blogosphere confessional and reveal six things I haven’t discussed yet on my blog. And watch out, you might get tagged next...

My six things:

1. It’s obvious from this blog that I’m a baseball fanatic, but you may not know that my fanaticism can be stretched into whatever sport is in season. I love it all, I must say, baseball, football, college basketball, golf, tennis – uh, politics. Well, you get the idea. I’m not one to watch much in the way of television dramas or sitcoms, but I do subscribe to all the special sports packages my cable company offers! P.S. The World Series starts tonight: Rays vs. Phillies. Not exactly what I was hoping for. Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah.

2. Even though Josephine isn’t two yet, I let her watch Sesame Street. This has created an Elmo craze – she points to everyone she sees on TV – Cookie Monster, Paula Deen, Wolf Blitzer, ANYone and says in total excitement, “ELMO!” Fortunately, she’s a book hound, so I’m not as yet worried about sacrificing her literacy. I know, I know – bad mommy. But hey – try having babies 13 months apart and see what you resort to!

3. I am a coupon addict. There! I've said it! Shopping is a good way to get the babies out of the house and keep them contained for a spell, so we often make an outing. Since my job is being at home right now and doesn’t seem to generate a paycheck, I try to be valuable to the household on the expense side. Hence, mad coupon clipping! How much can I save while buying stuff we need? Fun game!

4. As you may know, I love yoga. It feels so good to me physically, mentally, and spiritually. But here’s the thing: I suck at it. Seriously. I am no Shiva Rea. More like Roseanne Arnold, I’m sorry to say. I’m very grateful to my friends at Shakti who don’t laugh at me.

5. I have a long list of to-learns: sewing, knitting, Sanskrit. I have to do them on my own, though, since I already have two useless master’s degrees and a post-grad certificate.

6. I find motherhood joyous, but a bit isolating. I’m really grateful to everyone who supports me and keeps in touch: my husband, my awesome family, my sisters-in-law, my friends, and my fellow bloggers. Thank you.

Now for my tags: I tag Howard Park, 1 Year Apart, The Fox Factor, sleeping beauty, waking up, Unfinished Dad, and Half As Good As You. You all should make a post referring to this post, reveal your own 6 things & tag 6 others!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Well, isn't that funny

For all of you two-under-two parents out there, you know what our weekends are like. The occasional outing gets mixed with hours of tag-team baby care: feedings, diaperings, book readings, play-in-the-yardings, nappings. It isn't exactly a recipe for getting things done. I always think that I'll get some relief from the weekday frustration I constantly suffer of looking at a room I just picked up or vacuumed and realizing it needs to be done again. And I am not a maniac neat freak -- I just need to be able to walk across the room without tripping or be able to sit without crushing something. But this break never comes. In fact, the mess of the weekend trumps any weekday because we are still foolish enough to attempt to do something.

Yesterday's endeavor was to put together the new crib we had delivered for the little one and rearrange the nursery to accommodate the two cribs -- yes, that's right -- when you have children born 13 months apart, you need 2 cribs! My husband valiantly assembled the crib (which turned out to be HUGE!) and together we rearranged the furniture (with the babies in their cribs) so that everything fit. While the tiny room does look like some kind of clearance furniture depot, it is DONE. There are all kinds of refugee items floating all over the hallway -- toys, storage boxes, wall hangings -- but let me repeat: the task is DONE. The pride was overwhelming -- we couldn't believe ourselves.

As we settled down to sleep last night, we were hysterical. Where were both babies sleeping? In their newly finished room? Of course not. They were in our room with us.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Two under two: when one is sick

What do you do? Well, for one thing, get used to the crying. Last night Josephine woke up with a fever in the middle of the night and was just howling. We ended up bringing her to bed with us after giving her some Tylenol, but she would periodically wake up in fits of tears. This, of course, awakened Lucy, who then decided she was hungry. So they sort of alternated cries, and soon it was 2:30, 3:30, 4:30 and so on. There is a reason they make babies cute, you know. It's for times like these, when there is no break in the crying and a parent's sense of humor has run out. Good times!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I love Donna Brazile

Have you seen this clip?  If you're not voting for Obama, I hope it's not because of the color of his skin.

A lesson to learn

Here's a link to a great piece about this year's collapse of the Chicago Cubs.  Rafer Weigel is an old friend now anchoring the sports desk at Headline News; he's making his dad proud. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Some Children Are Left Behind

I had a delightful surprise comment to a post a few days ago, from someone who knows one of my poems.  It was published in a small literary journal written for and by teachers called The Teacher's Voice.  You can find out more about it here.  If you've ever wondered if it really is important to read to your children or speak with them, know that it is.  Model the use and beauty of language whenever and however you can; my experience as a high school English teacher showed me that this can't be underestimated.  One of my happiest moments as a mom (and writer and English teacher) was when my daughter first carried a book to me to read to her.  I almost fainted.  Anyway, here is the poem:

Fill In

The blanks are too numerous
and some can't be filled in.
I don't know if I can teach 
you this language, now, so late.
I don't know if I can teach you
that this is a middle without
a beginning that makes sense.
I can't fill the place of those
who left you here, like this --
I can't tell you everything
you missed while you weren't here.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

I've been punk'd!

By my two daughters, ages 16 months and almost 3 months!  The little one started sleeping through the night when she was just shy of two months old.  We thought we were clear of the bleary phase of parenting a newborn.  But now?  She's back to being up between three and four a.m.  I awaken to the sound of her sucking her fingers or trying to roll over in her bassinet, and then I'm basically up for the diaper change, the feeding and whatever follows.

And then there is the big one.  She has always been a good nighttime sleeper; she's slept through the night since she was about three months old.  Give the child a bottle and a snuggle, and she was down for the count.  But now?  She's up in the middle of the night too -- some kind of nightmare or separation anxiety or something.  At 3:15 this morning, not even Dada could do the trick, so I finished feeding the little one then moved into trying to soothe the big one.  We were both up from about 3 on with just a few winks of sleep until it was time to arise at 6.

I know they always say this part doesn't last forever, but it sure seems like it will, especially in those slow-crawling early-morning hours.  At least they're not lonely for me; I get to share them with my husband and beautiful girls.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Dodgers 3, Cubs 1

Tears. The Cubs are swept 3-0 by the Dodgers in the first round of the playoffs.  I guess one hundred years isn't enough to wait.  Now we wait again for next year. 

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Fall

So it's finally here:  the postpartum hair loss period.  It's coming out handfuls at a time in the shower and in a steady stream of ones and twos and fours all day long.   Every time I look at my daughters, there is a hair of mine to pluck from their shirts or one to untangle from their fingers.  Today it looked like a vicious one was cutting off the circulation in the little one's pinky toe.  They tickle my back and my arms as they get loose and prepare to fly away -- thank goodness the house will be swept clean tomorrow.  Imagine that my body went through this growing and shedding routine twice in two years.  Seems like it must've taken a lot of energy, no?  Maybe that's why I'm so tired.  Anyway, I've gotten used to my doubly thick mane, but by this time next week, I might look like the baby who gave it to me.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Heaven is...

the first time you hear your new baby laugh.  Michael was cooing at the little one, and she just started giggling.  She sounds just like her big sister.  To die for.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Welcoming Myself Back to Bloggerville

A few things I didn't post about in my absence from you:

1. The Cubbies clinched the NL Central Division.  No, I am not getting excited yet, but I'm a BELIEVER.  Thank GOD my cable package includes WGN, so I could watch the excitement at home!  My dream is to see my dad's face after the Cubbies win the World Series.

2.  We had a great vacation at the beach with my family.  The babies loved being with their Grammie and Grampy and Uncle Stunna.  So did we alleged grown ups.  We got to go on our first date in I-don't-know-how-long -- thanks for the babysitting!  I got to go to yoga four times -- ahhhhhhhh.  I was inspired to met Carmel and Dina and Margie at Yoga Anjali who helped jumpstart my practice out of pre/postnatal boredom.  If you ever have a chance to visit them, do!

3.  The financial crisis:  oh, you mean if you're greedy and get so crazed with it that you lose your sense of balance, it'll probably come back to bite you?  Ummm.  Yeah. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Considering a VBAC? Having your first and feeling anxious?

Come join Ires Wilbanks and me for the Childbirth Support Group at Shakti. The group is for those interested in vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) and anyone interested in non-judgemental support during their pregnancies or through the postpartum period.  Run by mothers, for mothers, we will also host guest speakers who are specialists in the birthing community.  It will be the third Sunday of each month, starting Sunday, September 21 from 3 -5 p.m. in the main yoga room.  Bring your baby! Bring a friend!

This group, originally run by Elizabeth and Marta, was a tremendous help to me when I was preparing for my VBAC, so I'm pleased to have a role in its continuation!  

Further information available on the Shakti website.

Monday, September 8, 2008


Here is some scary two-under-two math: two pregnancies in two years = 50 pounds.  What, you say? Didn't you lose the baby weight the first time round?  Well, no, actually, it would be mathematically impossible, since I was pregnant again by the time the big one was just four months old.  So back to the equation:  two pregnancies at 25 pounds each = 50 pounds.  That's heavy. They say 9 months on, 18 months off -- so does that mean that it will take me 36 months (3 years) to be somewhere in the vicinity of the weight at which I started?  Daunting, to say the least.  I've been thinking about this for a couple of days now, and I still can't quite wrap my brain around it.  

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Reds 4, Cubs 3

Kerry Wood blows a save (with the help of Ronny Cedeno booting what should have been a simple double play ball to win the game), and the Cubs sorry streak continues.  Two errors in the bottom of the ninth?  A closer walking batters and giving up hits?  Sigh. Vintage Chicago Cubs. This is why we don't get excited in April, May, June, July or August.  It's just too early, especially if you've waited one hundred years to win a World Series.  I remember feeling this way when I was first pregnant with my older daughter.  That turned out okay, so maybe I should be hopeful?  

Friday, September 5, 2008

Baby Proofing II

As I nursed the little one, the big one came over to me and handed me one of the outlet covers. Hmmmm -- more proof. 

Don't waste your vote

This morning on the news, I listened to a disgruntled Hillary Clinton supporter say that she may vote for John McCain or not vote at all because she has been so hurt by the Democratic party's process.  Look, I understand that she is upset that her candidate didn't get the nomination (this time), and I agree with her wholeheartedly that the DNC needs to overhaul its process so that we don't have such a long, drawn-out, divisive primary season in elections to come.  But she -- and any other HRC supporters out there considering the same -- have to listen to Hillary herself.  You have much more in common with Barack Obama than you have with John McCain and his ultra-conservative running mate Sarah Palin.  Unless you have suddenly become pro-life, pro-gun, pro-drilling in protected lands, anti-sex education, believe that the war in Iraq is God's work and want a president who has voted with George W. Bush 90% of the time, you have to support Barack Obama, just like Hillary does.  Don't you remember the last two elections and how close they were?  Hillary Clinton has urged you to make sure we put a Democrat in the White House this November, and I beg you to do the same by showing up to vote for the person the DNC has put forth as its candidate.  Get involved in the DNC. Write Howard Dean nasty letters about the process that upset you so.  But for goodness' sake, don't waste your vote.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Baby Proofing

Yeah, sure, we have the requisite outlet covers and baby gates to protect our little ones.  We even have some nifty cabinet locks, which keep them away from the nasty items under the kitchen sink which seem to work well and oven locks for the two doors of our 1956 Roper range -- oh wait, we haven't installed those yet.

Thankfully, Josephine didn't start out this lovely Wednesday by putting her head in the oven. Even Sylvia would want her to wait longer.  She did however, select as her first toy of the morning, a bottle of yellow food coloring.  Yep, you guessed it, the kitchen floor is yellow.  Josephine's jammies have yellow spots all over them.  Her hands and feet are yellow -- as are mine.  Lucy was spared, thankfully.  How would I ever explain two yellow-dyed babies?

You're probably thinking that this episode inspired me to close the pantry door and keep a closer eye on my young toddler.  Well, the pantry door is closed.  

Less than an hour later, while I nursed the little one, I see the big one playing with the tiny -- virtually useless -- drawer on an end table in our living room.  When I ask her to come to Mama, what do I pull from her mouth?  A screw.  Great.  She also has in her hands the rest of her bounty from the drawer:  two boxes of matches and a battery.  Since I've taken the screw away, the battery is the next best item on which to chew.  Mmmmm.  Yummy.   The matches?  They are nothing more than little rattles -- the little wood sticks make a great shaky noise in the cardboard box.

Why are these items randomly stored in this end table drawer?  Just the haphazardness of our pre-parenting days, I suppose.  Most of our dangerous items reside well out of the reach of little hands nowadays, even if it is a pain in the neck for us.  But baby proof?  The only real proof here is that children are never as safe as you'd like them to be, that something always lurks.  There is only so much control we can have -- we have to hold on loosely and guide as best we can, hoping that we've at least taken away the most hazardous hazards and that our children will learn how to keep themselves safe.  

For an interesting view on the idea of control and how it applies to parenting and politics, read my friend DoulaMomma's blog from yesterday.  And if you don't read her blog regularly, you should!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


All of the family photo albums my parents made when my brother and I were little kids include classic shots of me in tears.  I guess it is pretty funny in retrospect, but it sure didn't seem so at the time.  Now seeing my daughter in tears makes me wonder about the frustration kids must feel so often growing up.  Trying new things -- failing -- sometimes succeeding -- it must be stressful.  Since I've been a mom, it seems clear to me that this frustration is why we don't remember being babies.  Learning to eat and walk, growing teeth, climbing stairs and furniture and falling on our butts or our heads -- the stakes are too high for it to not be monumentally frustrating.  So once we learn it, we forget it -- or the process of it, anyway.  

Some people say they don't remember the pain of childbirth.  Maybe this is a similar thing -- it is so meaningful that we don't want it to live in our memories negatively -- we want it to be filled with the tearful kisses and joy of holding that new life for the first time.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Thursday, August 21, 2008


I got out of the house today!  Ok, ok -- I know all of you who are not encumbered with two under two have no idea how BIG this is -- just humor me for a second.  My next door neighbor, who has a newborn and a 2 1/2 year old and I, with my newborn and my 14-month old, loaded up our double strollers and walked to Milo Borden Park.  The babies slept in their strollers and enjoyed the shade and the breeze.  The big girls got to swing and climb and slide and run around.  The mammas chased and spotted and gabbed.  Not a bad effort, I must say.  We even laughed as we panted our way up the hill that had been a pleasant downward roll on the way to the park.  It felt so good to be out in the sunshine and to stretch my legs. I feel like I've been sitting for months.  The kids looked adorable enjoying what might be one of the nicest days of the summer.  Pictures, you ask?  Oh, gimme a break!  I was lucky I remembered to bring the children.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

It's never just black or white

Isn't it funny how some people are still afraid of the idea of having a black president?  Here is a  good read, written by a student in my dad's graduate opinion-writing course at De Paul University.  Check it out!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Paranoia, not so concealed

In the news yesterday was a story about the Harrold, Texas school district, which will allow its teachers to carry concealed firearms "to deter and protect against school shootings when classes begin next month."  As an educator, I am shocked and disappointed.  Schools have long been gun-free zones, and the group behind the decision to allow teachers to come to school packing heat suggests that this is the cause of some of the school shootings with which we are all too familiar.  Funny, I don't remember any of the disturbed teens referencing this federal policy as the reason behind their rampages.  I do remember kids who clearly had serious problems that went unnoticed or just avoided.  The story says that the district researched other options.  I wonder what those might have been?  Has the Harrold, Texas school district already maximized its security efforts with guards and metal detectors?  Has the district initiated a robust intervention program for students who display signs of trouble?  Was it just easier and cheaper to tell the teachers to defend themselves with guns?

What kind of a lesson is this for students?  I have always felt as an educator that my most important job was to demonstrate to my high school students appropriate adult behavior, civility, manners, and compassion.  It would never occur to me, despite the fact that I've taught in two tough districts -- the Bronx, NY and Newark, NJ -- to carry a gun.  My protection has always been treating others with respect.  And you know what? I was respected in return.  This is the lesson that I want my students to learn, not that they can "protect" themselves if they carry a weapon.

Let's hope that Harrold, Texas is the first and last district to make such a poor policy.

Monday, August 11, 2008

What day is it?

Sitting up with Lucy in the early, early morning hours, I was thinking about why I have trouble keeping track of what day it is.  It's pretty simple, actually:  weekends are no longer days off.  Obviously, being a mom is a 24/7/365 kind of job.  But since the schedule never changes (or since there never is a schedule -- I'm not sure which), all the days are the same.  This isn't necessarily a bad thing.  I don't have that feeling of dread anymore that was the staple of late Sunday afternoon and evening; I used to get it right around the time the second NFL game started.  I don't have to switch gears for the Monday morning rush and then again for the Friday getaway.  It's all the same, sweatpanted, barfed-on, baby-snuggling bliss.

On the flip side, my husband has to go from day job to night job on weekdays. Weekends are like the second job that doesn't pay well but gets you to the next paycheck. Even though he never stops being a dad (obviously) it's almost like moonlighting.  Don't tell the boss if you need to be out one day to take care of family business.  Try to appear to have had 8 hours of sleep and a good workout when in reality you had 4 hours of sleep and did 547 laps around the upstairs trying to ease the gas bubbles out of the newborn's belly.  I suppose it is a workout.

People hold weekends sacred because they can let it all hang out.  Since mine hangs out all the time, the need to day-worship has disappeared -- and so has some of that great anticipation of free time to come.  What am I doing this weekend?  All the same mundane diaper-changing and feeding things I did Monday through Friday -- hopefully just in the company of my husband.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Pop-up books

Josephine loves pop-up books and lift-the-flap books. Anything by Karen Katz is a favorite.  She is obsessed with a Strawberry Shortcake pop-up that requires the reader to sing along with some tinny tunes.  (I confess to hiding this one from her, but of course, she's already figured it out.) 
Lately her goal seems to be to muscle the flap or pop-up right out of the book, but still, these are the ones she very seriously carries to me each day to read to her over and over again.  I recently read The Crawly Caterpillar to her, and it reminded me so much of my recent pregnancies and births:

The Crawly Caterpillar
by Judith Nicholls

Underneath a droopy leaf,
something small and yellow lay.
Who was waiting in the egg,
and who just flew away?
Something wiggled, wriggled, jiggled,
then crawled out on leafy green.
It nibbled, gnawed, and guzzled,
until the leaf could not be seen!
It nibbled, gnawed, and guzzled.
It grew and grew and grew!
"I'm sleepy now," said the caterpillar.
"I know just what I must do."
She turned into a chrysalis
and hid there, dark and still.
She slept, she dreamt, she waited;
she waited there until...
Her hiding place split open.
Out she crept with folded wings!
She spread them wide and wondered,
"Just what are these fluttery things?"
She raised them high, then higher
into the summer sky,
and sang down to her garden,
"I am a butterfly!"

Monday, August 4, 2008

Resting up

...for Monday Night Baseball!  Cubs vs. Astros, 7 p.m. EST on ESPN.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Family dinner

My husband, my two daughters, and I went out to dinner tonight.  Mostly, Michael just wanted to get me out of the house.  We attempted to go to the new branch of the Village Trattoria in South Orange, NJ, but we were not impressed by what we found when we got there.  Basic pizza place.  We decided to split and head over to Arturo's in Maplewood -- also a pizza place, but so much more.  The special pasta was fazzoletti with locally-grown organic beet greens and parmigiano reggiano.  Come on!  Why eat anywhere else?  This pasta was perfect -- hand cut and beautifully cooked.  The greens were soft but smoky from a little red onion (or maybe it was shallot) and the whole dish a bit salty from the parmigiano.  mmmmmmmm.  

Only slightly better than the food was the sight of Josephine assisting her father in demolishing Arturo's famous margherita pizza (not available for delivery due to quality control issues -- I LOVE this place).  It was a large pie.  As soon as Josephine ate the bits of pizza we gave her, she would motion to the pie and grunt.  Repeatedly.  Until she was given more to devour.  (Similar to her dad, I must say.)  Usually Josephine has piles of food in her bib and highchair after a meal, but not tonight.  She also gobbled up two of four handmade ravioli.  She ate as though we starve her at home -- and we don't.  I guess she really is our daughter, huh?

Of course I didn't have my camera with us.  I took some cell phone pictures, and if I can figure out how to get them off of my phone, I'll post them.  Until then, go to Arturo's and get yourself whatever the genius there has on special and one of those margherita pies, too.  

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Hey Chicago!

I never knew I could love a broom, but today I do. Cubs sweep the Brewers in a 4-game series.  Is it a coincidence that I did a crossword puzzle (whilst on bedrest awaiting Lucy's arrival) that included the clue "baseball team that last won the world series in 1908"? I mean seriously, folks. It is still to early to get excited.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Good times

It is a rare moment here in the Gallo household. Everyone is asleep except me. Josephine, now 13 months old, went easily to sleep for her morning nap. It only took two rounds of "Twinkle, twinkle" and five minutes of rocking -- possibly a lifetime best for the child who doesn't want to miss a thing. Lucy, now 13 days old, fell asleep on her Dad's shoulder after passing enough gas that she could lay flat in her bassinet. My husband crawled into our nest, and now he, too, sleeps.

It is strange to not be holding anyone, to not be nursing a baby or getting someone a snack or a bottle or a clean diaper.

Don't get me wrong: these days since Lucy's arrival have been joyous. Her birth was a journey I shall not soon forget, and her arrival a true turning point in my life. But there is something about being just me -- just me -- and having time (and two hands) to do something -- anything -- that seems almost naughty. My goal for the coming months and years of being home with the children is to find more of these moments. It is no small task with two under two -- even with all the help I get -- but so worth it.

While I was writing this, I heard the bell of the knife sharpener outside. This is an event I wait for all summer -- taking my knives out to his van and watching him sharpen them makes me excited to cook yummy things. But I let him pass today so I could write this -- I can always call him to come back. It's not as romantic as the surprise visit, but I couldn't risk puncturing the near silence of nap time.