Monday, July 20, 2015

The Dichotomies of Parenting

Parenting so far has been an adventure in ups and downs.


Strength and Weakness of Body

My daughter's birth went well. I was healthy throughout pregnancy and she was born with no complications. I'm still amazed at the fact that after she was born - after birthing a freaking child - they gave me ibuprofen, and it was enough to manage the pain. My body makes food for my daughter while I'm busy doing things like taking pictures or cleaning poop off the floor. I was able to function week after week without REM sleep.

That said, the first week was a trip. I don't deal well with lack of sleep, even now that I have a three-month-old. In the first week, I got so dizzy from lack of sleep and weird hours that I nearly fell over several times. It was enough to make me feel nervous about carrying her from room to room; thankfully, Spousal Unit was home during that time as well. I also got a painful infection, and later that month, I was sick enough that I had to get two liters of IV fluid just to keep from being admitted to the hospital. Once I was finally cleared to hold my daughter again (10 hours later felt like forever), I had to do it while wearing gloves and a mask. But my setbacks don't seem to have bothered her much. She's grown steadily; I marvel at her ability to do what seems like little things, like holding a toy and taking note that the stuff on the other side of the window isn't like the stuff inside the house.



Joy and Sorrow at Gaining

I was in the unique position (though probably not as unique as I think) of having to decide, quite actively, whether or not I wanted a child. (Let's not even start on the idea of more than one.) I was torn. Decision made, this naturally leaves me wondering a bit at what life would have been like had I chosen differently. Everything about this new life seems so strange at times; just the phrases "I'm a mother" and "I have a daughter" still have a foreign ring to them. (Luckily, there's Zoloft for that; see "weakness of body" above.)


But I do come back to joy again, especially when every time she wakes up, I get a huge smile and legs that kick in excitement. I remember that she will grow, is growing, and (especially after getting a few hours to remember that I am more than just a parent) I just want to spend all evening holding her and hearing her babble.



I Am a Bad/Good Scientist

I am often mistrustful of my scientific instruments. Last week, I attempted to measure my daughter's length for her three-month records, but ended up not writing it down because some part of me does not believe that she really reaches the number 23 on the yellow tape measure. The numbers are all there in stark black contrast, yet I suddenly disbelieved the tape measure. Perhaps I thought it had skipped a number, or the number order changed in the night. Despite the data, I also sometimes jump to the conclusion that if a mosquito bites her, she is definitely going to get malaria. (She's not.)

Similarly, I have a hard time believing that these two pictures are of the same baby.

Two weeks old

Eleven weeks old

Sometimes I even have a hard time looking at her and remembering that she started out so small - that I grew her. That my romaine lettuce salad turned into a heart, and a can of pineapple involuntarily consumed in one sitting became neurons and synapses firing that would eventually yield a smile.

But I am also reconsidering all the things I once took for granted - rerunning old experiments to be sure I haven't missed anything. Apparently a sweater hanging on a chair is fascinating! Who knew that the cat was such a marvel? Consider the sunlight on wood floor, and the way it contrasts with shadow. I'm documenting everything for future review.


And I find myself running the "boop your nose" experiment over and over again, just to hear her laugh.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

PUBLIC HONEY

The beautiful label looked something like this. But more heavenly.

Long ago at work, we received an incredible stash of gifts from our Taiwanese counterparts. They were provided as we began working with them and included several delicious teas and sweets.

But the best thing of all was an abnormally sized jar of honey, gorgeous, tall and made of glass with a beautiful floral label and covered in a swooping, elegant font beyond my capacity for understanding. I didn't dare touch it; from whence had these gifts come? Were they available to all, or meant to be parsed out for those who worked on the Taiwan project? I didn't know and therefore let the shining bottle be, though an angelic choir seemed to ring out whenever I saw it.

At some point after the jar's grand opening, a label was affixed to it. A serious label, made with a label maker and declaring in bold, English capital letters beside the swooping Taiwanese that this was a jar of PUBLIC HONEY. I wondered whether, prior to the label being affixed, this had been a jar of private honey, which conjured up questions I dared not consider in the workplace lest the wrath of HR fall upon me and relinquish me of my job. (I'm an editor; they pay me to look for double entendres so they can be avoided. Stop judging me.) Nonetheless, I decided to merely be grateful for the opportunity to enjoy some tasty foreign bee spit.

It was glorious, a nectar of the gods that somehow missed its flight to Mount Olympus and wound up in the kitchen instead, between a plethora of plasticware and packets of creamer. Peach was not only this honey's flavor and scent - it was the core of its being. Where did the peach stop and the honey begin, or vice versa? There was no dividing line. The smooth texture - nay, lack of texture - blended itself thoroughly with any cup of tea. It transformed bowls of mushy oatmeal into heaven-sent ambrosia.

I am ruined for all other honey.

Unfortunately, being so thoroughly enjoyed as it was, we somehow took its presence for granted and never thought to document that such wonder had once existed in our lives, and we have no images to remind us of yesterday's flavor now that its time has passed. But it lives on in my mind and comes swooping back to memory whenever I taste an inferior blend. You, dear reader, must unfortunately take my word for it: PUBLIC HONEY changed my life for the better, and though it is gone from the jar, it lives on in my mind.

(And cell composition.)

Sunday, January 4, 2015

A Letter to Michael Jordan

*Following is a rather detailed discussion of bacteria and other gross stuff. Finish your breakfast before reading.*


Dear Michael Jordan,

Please be advised that I have within my possession an item that may or may not contain enough of your DNA to clone you. I suggest that you come take it away, because otherwise it may never leave the house.

Back in his wild and carefree teenage years, Spousal Unit's first job was as a country club caddy, and one glorious day, he got to caddy not for you, but for your assistant. You spent several hours gallivanting across the course, whacking some balls and talking about others (of the basket/base persuasion, I'd imagine) while Spousal Unit washed your balls.

He was thrilled, and understandably bragged about it to all his family members upon coming home. (This would have been more impressive to his brother, I imagine, if it hadn't also been his birthday.)

But back to that DNA sample, from which we might be able to engineer a better baseball player. No, Spousal Unit did not surreptitiously sneak the band aid off your finger - that would have been particularly gross and more than a little creepy. But at the end of the course, you gave him your nearly empty Gatorade bottle to throw away.

It's the quenchiest! (Source)

Yes, Spousal Unit kept your backwash-filled Gatorade bottle. He didn't even dump out the liquid (which looks like a biohazard even before adding spit to the mix). And he has kept it for fifteen years. For ten years, I've had to either look at or simply be in the presence of this filthy old bottle contaminated by your lip gunk and sweaty palms.

After the most recent move, I "forgot" to remove it from our battered old car, and it remains on the floor of the back seat along with a frisbee, an ice scraper, and various coinage and dirt. (I considered including a picture, but I don't even want to look at it to aim the camera properly.) However, with an infant soon be added to that mix, I worry that this old bottle will contaminate my child with its fifteen-year-old bacteria just by its mere presence on our property.

I don't blame you in the least for Spousal Unit keeping it, but there remains the fact that despite my repeated begging and disgusted requests, he will neither relinquish it nor dispose of its contents. I'm of the opinion that he's unlikely to do either unless prompted by your holy self. Please have delivered some worthy replacement item that I can at least surreptitiously wash when he's not looking.

Sincerely,
Not a germophobe but just rather grossed out,
Allison

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Balance

It's been busy at the abode. Spousal Unit turned 30; he threw me a surprise party; I turned 30.


We gained a furnace and a fetus. Oberon had bladder and jealousy issues (he apparently doesn't like my new hormones). We discovered a wasp nest the size of a volleyball (abandoned) and the neighborhood trick-or-treating status (decent). Work has been insane for both of us, to the point where it's a perpetual madhouse.

But we manage. The anxiety of having a room dedicated to the new stroller and baby clothes is balanced by the excitement of having finished the Tickle's first sweater (Spousal Unit named it; don't worry, that will change).

Child's Placket-Neck Pullover by Joelle Hoverson

The worry of whether I'm eating enough omega 3s is balanced by the joy of steak. (I promised myself I'd pay attention to my cravings in case they're saying something important. To quote Spousal Unit, the Tickle doesn't know I'm vegetarian and doesn't care.)

Steak AND lobster!

The stress of whether there will be enough money for three months of maternity leave is balanced by the quiet daydreams of imagining myself out in the garden come springtime, little one in its carrier as we enjoy the sun, however briefly.

The fear of slipping on our now-icy driveway is soothed by a big bag of salt and imagining this time a year from now, when the Tickle is more than just a light flutter, old enough for its attention to be captured by snow.

And exhaustion is eased by Spousal Unit's excitement. That's one of the best things about all of this so far: he's so clearly thrilled and devoted and full of love for this little person who's barely half a pound right now. He tells it bedtime stories, calls me his "pregnant Norwegian queen," and jumps to help with anything at all when I so much as sigh (and he helps with visible joy).


With that in our lives, we will be more than okay.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Letter to OreIda: A Modest Proposal

I'm a fan of potating.


Dear OreIda,

I write to you with joy in my heart after having consumed half a bag of tater tots. These crispy, chewy, lightly salted pinnacles of starchy excellence are often the highlight of my weary days, when I make it to dinner time only by keeping thoughts of their golden perfection in mind (often accompanied by a heavenly choir).

It can come as little surprise to you then that I write not only to praise tater tots, but also to request a nationwide french fry ban.

No, I am not one of those obsessed with calling them "Freedom Fries" instead. I do not stand before you with a flag as my Cape of Justice and a trusty eagle sidekick on my shoulder. I merely wish tater tots to have the rightful respect that is due to them. They deserve a place beside every hamburger, every sandwich, everywhere. For what are french fries but an inferior, long-legged imposter?

I also request this ban of the inferior potato so that the infamous Spud War of 2014 can at long last come to an end. My Spousal Unit has fallen on the side of evil and is a championer of all things french fry. I narrow my eyes and eat with relish every baked tot in an effort to show him that he's missing the best part of life on this earth. However, he continues about his misinformed lifestyle, and we have not known a peaceful night's rest since this war began yesterday evening. I do not wish to see him succumb to the ways of shepherd's pie and potato soup.

Should I have the wherewithal and the necessary sticking power, I will one day seek to ban all other forms of potato as well. For who would want the sad squish of mashed potatoes when there could be a crispy, golden tower to illuminate a steak? Who would seek the excessive crunch of hash browns over this starchy idol of all spuds everywhere?

I begin, however, by eliminating my enemies one at a time. Hear my plea: Stand up for all that is right in the world. Stand up for that which is good and right and perfectly textured.

Stand up for the tater tot.

Sincerely,
A proper starch aficionado,
Allison

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Hiatus of Unusual Size, Part I: The Garden

Hi all - been a while. Distractions abound. I'm trying to get back into the swing of it - I haven't had a blogging hiatus like this since I started this up in 2011. Time to regroup, which may happen in fits and starts, but I'll do my best.

What's been distracting me? Well, you know. Life. My next couple of posts will feature a lot of backlog, and mostly pictures, as I find it easier to get a post going when there's an image to go with it.

First: the great outdoors. Earlier this summer, Spousal Unit and I decided to make good use of our fire pit. We proceeded to buy a ton of logs from the grocery store. You know, the paper-wrapped ones they sell next to the coolant and motor oil. (That should have been a clue.)

One night, Spousal Unit didn't just put out the fire: he hosed it out, dumping the ashy water onto our yard. We ended up with dead grass and weird mushrooms.

(Not quite a fairy ring.)


So that's gross and disturbing, and we're never buying chemically treated logs again. Turns out they sell regular firewood at the grocer's too. Thank goodness.

That's the less-than-pleasant stuff out of the way. (Aside from the hornets in the shed, but everyone has hornets in the shed, don't they?) Our backyard flower bed continues to amaze us with its beauty and ever-changing hues. I didn't know sedum did more than turn green, but apparently, it does.

(The bees love it.)

There are mums and hostas and something that is probably a weed, but it's pretty so I don't care.

My garden has turned out really well for being the first year. The basil was amazing, and we even got lots of good carrots. Next year, the tomatoes need some breathing room, though.


The last task of the season (aside from herb drying and pesto/sauce making) is to Trim All the Things. The backyard bushes are unwieldy, and there's some kind of fake rose bush out front (meaning it produces thorns, but no roses), so that has to go. Apparently I have to wrap it in plastic wrap in order to avoid a lashing. (I don't remember where I heard that from, so if anyone has better suggestions, I'm all ears.)

After this season, zinnias are my new favorite flowers. After lilacs and alstroemeria, of course.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Greens and Wild Things

I've been romping around the garden a lot lately. This might look like a forest to you, and it is. But what is this, a forest for ants? Yes actually. These are my carrots. (Dear ants, kindly ignore my previous invitation and leave my carrots alone. You're far too bitey for my liking.)


My tomatoes are making huge strides. I was kind of terrified that they would all make it and I'd have to make enough sauce for a small Italian village, but the first two have rotted before ripening already. So we're good.


(I might be the only gardener who roots for tomato death.)


This corner is my whole edible garden, but the plot is five times this size. Maybe I'll fill it with more than weeds next year. My three basil plants are enormous, the oregano's coming along nicely, and the parsley is still piddly. Please note the tiny pink statue, which is awkward and terrifying and really good at keeping the rabbits from eating all my noms.

She's the female version of St. Fiacre. Except she's not also the patron saint of Parisan cab drivers.

My snapdragons in the front yard are ginormophone and super sassy, the way snapdragons should be.


Then there's this guy.

Cindy the ostrich!

After romping around the garden, I went to the zoo last weekend, where lots of critters stared us down.

Gibbon!

I allowed them to stare right back. It was only fair.
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