Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Other places, other faces

Just some linkity business:

I'll be doing another review sometime soon in partnership with CSN Stores, source of end tables and elephants. I post my reviews over here if you're interested.

You have until midnight Thursday to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Alexa's fantastic book. Trust me, you want to read this one.

I'm also giving away three kids' books and a comedic advice book.

DISCLOSURE: I participate in the CSN Preferred Blogger program and receive a gift certificate to CSN stores in exchange for posting a selected linked keyword. The words and opinions in my reviews are always my own.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Happy people just don't shoot their husbands.

I didn't intend to leave that cardio class post at the top for an entire week. In fact, I'm not entirely sure where the past week went. Things have conspired to keep me away from the computer, certainly. To whit:

(1) My laptop screen completely gave out and is at BoMB's place awaiting a few replacement parts. He has kindly provided me with a loaner laptop, but I don't have access to any of my documents or photos.

(2) We're having a yard sale this coming Saturday, so I've been spending a lot of my free time pulling out the stuff that was left after last year's sale, sorting through Nico's clothes to pull out stuff that he'll never wear, and posting stuff on Craigslist to see if I can pre-sale it. I really, really hope we make some cash...I'm itching to buy Nico a lightweight stroller and a new toy or two.

(3) The kid's sleeping schedule has really gone to shit in the last month or so. Some nights he wakes up every 2 hours and won't go back down until I go up and nurse him / rock him back to sleep. It's not the most horrible thing ever, but I have trouble writing when I'm interrupted over and over, and my usual blogging process is to work on a post all evening, so right now I usually give up after the first few times I have to run upstairs.

Speaking of the kid, good Lord. First, autumn weather has finally arrived, and for some reason a baby in a long sleeved tee is just about the cutest thing I have ever seen. We had a really good morning. We went to story time at the library and then hung out in the children's room for a little while afterward. He's starting to go through a Stranger Danger phase, but he crawled over to chew on another kid's board books and didn't cry when the other kid's dad read him a book (and can I just say, How sweet is that?). On the way home we stopped at the runners' shop so I could get a new pair of trainers, and he politely sat in a cushy chair playing with a toy for half an hour while I was observed and fitted. He followed that up with his first cooked carrot slices at lunch and a very long nap on my lap during which I watched two episodes of Hellcats. (This may destroy any semblance of cred that I have, but that show is surprisingly good.)

In the afternoon, though, things didn't go so well. Despite his nap, he was really whiny. Then, I left him alone for five minutes so I could start a load of laundry. He was sequestered behind his baby fence, which we have set up in front of the entertainment center to block his access to the electronics. When I got back, he was sitting on the floor chewing on a DVD which he had removed from the DVD player on the other side of the fence. SEND REINFORCEMENTS. Not too long after that, he was playing with his toy school bus and accidentally made it pop a wheelie. Right into his face. And then, THEN. He was sitting on a blankie that he wanted to chew on, so instead of moving off of it, he yanked on it as hard as he could. So hard, in fact, that he pitched himself onto his head. Babies: full of adorable, epic fail.

To end this disjointed post, I went back to cardio bootcamp tonight, and it was actually pretty awesome. It was hard, but I did not at any point feel like I was going to vomit or die, so I think that's progress. I think it helped that we only had to do box jumps for a one-minute interval instead of for the whole first half. I just might be able to hack this gym thing after all.

Reading:  The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise by Julia Stuart

Playing:  Sigh No More by Mumford & Sons

PS The title of this post actually has nothing to do with MB. It popped into my head on the way back from the gym: "Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don't shoot their husbands! They just don't!" Name that film!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


I'm not a diet kind of girl. I never have been, probably never will be. I've always had the mentality that I'd rather be fat and happy than thin but miserable because I'm denied all the things I like to eat. Lately, however, it's occurred to me that I could probably afford to be a little less happy in order to be a little less fat and that the baby I had eight (!!) months ago is probably no longer a believable scapegoat for the state of my ass. I've been going to weekly yoga classes for just over two years, but being yoga-fit and hauling-a-22-pound-kid-around fit aren't the same as being actually fit, apparently, so I decided to try the cardio kickboxing class that is held right before yoga class in the same room at the gym. I went to that twice, and while it was hard, it was manageable. Each time, right when I got to the point where I started thinking I needed to quit before I died, the teacher would announce it was time to start cooling down. Hallelujah.

Cardio kickboxing is only on Thursdays, however; and during the weeks that I work on Thursdays I don't like to leave Nico in the evenings, too. There's a "cardio bootcamp" class on Monday nights, though, and I'm always off work on Mondays. Now at this point you're probably thinking something like Nothing good can come of something called "bootcamp." in which case you're smarter than I am, congratulations. Not being smart, I thought How much worse can it be? and went to find out. First off, I arrive to find that all four of the other girls in the class are already super fit and thin. I think I have more body fat on one thigh than any of these girls had on her entire body (so when you factor in the other thigh and both boobs, I think I pretty much have the whole class covered). They were nice girls, so even though I sort of wanted to hate them for being tiny and fit, I just really couldn't. And the great thing about going to gym classes with Serious Gym People is that they're so focused on Being Serious that they never look at the chubby chick in the back who's just trying not to barf up her spleen.

We set up our little aerobic step dealies and chairs and then we did some marching and some kicking and some jumping jacks, and it was great! I was breathing hard and sweating, but totally keeping up and didn't even feel like barfing a little! Bring it, bootcamp! "Okay," the teacher said, "everyone warmed up?" And really at this point I'm sure my face looked like something out of Hyperbole and a Half...probably this one. And she was just getting warmed up, because after the hard-but-not-awful jumping and marching and kicking, we did intervals of box jumps plus swing kicks over the back of the chair plus pushups plus mountain climbers. Three times we did this. Here's a box jump. (Except that video makes me laugh because I started with three little riser squares under my step instead of this guy's eleven and that was about three too many.) And here's mountain climbers. What the hell, y'all. What the hell? This shit should come with medical releases and warning labels.

By the end of this ridiculousness, I was seriously regretting my decision to get up off the couch. Exertion is not pretty on me. I get red in the face and sweat buckets and dude, it's just gross. After we put away our steps and chairs and the other girls all scattered to go help the teacher find stuff, I checked the time on my phone and was utterly dismayed to find that the class was only half over. Luckily, the second half wasn't nearly as terrible. We did circuits of crazy shit like squat lunges with a weight bar on our shoulders and agility ladder exercises and suicides and it was pretty bad, but at that point I was just happy we weren't doing box jumps.

I guess I should be proud that I made it through without quitting, even though I was barely limping along by the end. Today, though, I'm sore in places a lady should not discuss on the internet, and I suspect tomorrow I'll feel even worse. But I have a feeling cardio class is kind of like a bad boyfriend. It makes you feel like crap, but you end up going back for more even though all your friends think you're crazy.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Over there, on the right

If you haven't listened to the playlist for this month, you should. I really, especially love the bluegrassed-out version of Mumford & Sons' "Roll Away Your Stone," a song that snuck up on me and became my favorite while I was focusing on other tracks on the (great) album.

Reading:  Love and Other Impossible Pursuits by Ayelet Waldman

Playing:  Sigh No More by Mumford & Sons (of course)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


There are things I hope he'll remember, that I need him to remember: the bedtime stories, the kisses and hugs, the way I know how to make him laugh, getting up in the night for feedings and snuggling, taking him to story hour and swimming lessons. And then there are the things he'll probably never know about until he has his own child, and maybe not even then. He won't remember me standing at the sink after he's finally fallen asleep, washing out his bottles and bowls instead of watching television. He's not going to look back fondly on all the times I swept the floor before putting him down to play on it, or all the umpteen tiny shirts and pairs of jeans I folded in the dusty basement laundry room. He'll never make me a Mother's Day card in remembrance of the literal hours I spent tethered to the breastpump.

He might never understand the feeling of finally settling down in bed only to hear the bleating cries of your baby on the other side of the wall, waking for the third or fifth time in one night, and how you know in a past life you would've lost your shit at that moment, but in this one, you drag yourself out of bed, maybe a little teary eyed but dredging up some last scraps of patience you didn't realize you possessed. Or how hard it is to stay calm when your kid is screaming in your ear and yanking his limbs out of his clothes as quickly as you get them in, flinging his shirt one way and fishflopping his head the other. The nights when he's overtired and nursing him is like withstanding a beating, pummeled by tiny fists and feet, clawed by ever-sharp little fingernails.

I hope he someday realizes that you can think your heart is full and then your baby smiles and you realize you were wrong. I hope he sees the way the tiny transcendent moments pile up in the balance, outweighing the times when you aren't quick enough to prevent the fall, aren't patient enough, find yourself wishing you had just a minute alone, just a minute. That moment, the one you can't quite neatly define, when you watch your partner watching your child and you think This is a family. The ebb and flow of his need for you and his growing independence. How the soft curl of his small body against yours in the dark feels like a blessing. How you never realized how much you needed him until you saw how much he needed you. He may never remember, but I'll never forget.

Monday, September 13, 2010

It's Book Blogger Appreciation Week!

For BBAW 2010 I'm hoping to post something every day on my book blog. This is a cross-post from over there:

Today is the kickoff of Book Blogger Appreciation Week 2010. I hope to have a new post up each day (and some will include giveaways) to celebrate. The official theme for Monday is First Treasure, but instead of writing about the first book blog I discovered, I'm going to write about a blogger's first book.

I began reading Alexa Stevenson's blog Flotsam in late 2007, just before her son Ames died and the tense wait for her daughter Simone's early birth began. Even though I've been following the story of Alexa and Simone -- now a healthy two year old -- since then, Alexa's memoir is so much more than a rehashing of things she'd already written. Half Baked:  the story of my nerves, my newborn, and how we both learned to breathe is an enveloping page-turner of a book, the kind that actually merits the statement "I couldn't put it down." Even though I knew the beginning and the end of the story, I found myself wrapped tightly in the weaving of the tale.

After several miscarriages and a struggle with infertility, Alexa and her husband conceived twins via IVF. She found herself uniquely qualified for the heightened worry of pregnancy after a lifetime of anxiety and an adulthood spent developing the ability to over-research anything. But as the back-cover writeup admits, Alexa had spent most of her life preparing for the wrong disasters. At 22 weeks and 2 days, after having been told the sexes of her babies and that they looked "ideal," Alexa received the devastating news that Ames had died. For three more weeks, the goal is to keep Simone inside and healthy as long as possible. Then Simone is born, and Alexa is plunged into a motherhood she never expected.

She finds that the personality quirks that once left her nervous and paralyzed have left her uniquely equipped for the numbers and stats that dominate NICU life. The ups and downs of Simone's long hospital stay are relayed with stark honesty and surprising humor. One doesn't usually expect to laugh out loud while reading a story of a very early baby, but Alexa has written that kind of book. The good and the bad, the transcendent and the mundane, the heartbreaking and the unexpectedly funny, Alexa lays it all out and turns it into a fantastic and immensely enjoyable read.

Because she's awesome, Alexa is going to send one commenter a signed copy of Half Baked. For a chance to win, leave a comment on this post (or on the book blog copy) before midnight CST on Sunday, September 19 Thursday, September 30. In the spirit of BBAW, please include a link to one of your favorite blogs so I can discover some new great sites! Residents of the US & Canada only, please.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Photo Friday

View the entire Photo Friday collection on Flickr.

I wrote about our cloth diaper experience here.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Where the magic happens

I'm participating in a neat one-day meme about how bloggers work:

Most of us are sitting for a large chunk of the day, whether at home or at an office somewhere. We are doing freelance, working on our blogs, tweeting, or doing whatever we do at the computer, but we all have our method. If you are blogging from your lanai on a private island, I don’t want to hear about it. Okay, I do. Kind of.

I’m always wondering what people are doing and where they are when they’re blogging or tweeting, in a non-perverted way, of course. I’m frequently in my bed with a laptop, but I’m mostly working at my desk with a steady steam of coffee and chewy Spree. The point is, we are all doing our thing somewhere in our own special way.

Write a post that sets the scene and shows how you do it. You might answer some of these questions:
  • Where is your desk and what does your set-up look like? Inspiration board or dart board with someone’s face?
  • What is your view? A view of the city, or a window to exotic happenings in suburbia?
  • Is it quiet or are you listening to music, news or self-help audio books?
  • What are you drinking, eating and wearing (details please)?
  • Is your cat in your lap, your dog under the desk, or your baby on your boob?
  • How do you keep from getting distracted? I don’t. It’s a problem.
  • If you have kids, how do you get them to let you blog in peace? Oh, the controversy.
  • With all that sitting, how do you keep from going numb from the waist down?
  • And anything else that is part of the “process.”
We want pictures! Show us your view, your neighbor, the unfolded laundry piling up around you, or the back of your irritating co-worker’s head. And the pets! Pets photos are cute.

I suspect the meme applies more to people who blog for a living or at least get paid to blog, but I thought it would be fun to play along anyway. I work full time outside the home but I never, ever blog at work since my blog is anonymous. Sometimes I'll log in to fix a typo that's driving me nuts and I have signed on to post a photo maybe three times in three years. I do look at my blog at work more often than I should, usually to check for comments, ogle pictures of my kid, or listen to my sidebar playlist. I have to be quick on the draw, though, since I share an office with my boss and I don't want him catching sight of my site.

I blog at home, at night, almost always from my spot on the couch. By the time I sit down with the computer, I'm usually wearing shorts or comfy pants, or maybe even pajamas. Of course, I wear jeans to work every day, so sometimes I'm still wearing those. Usually I'm eating dinner or a snack while I do internetty things, and 9 times out of 10 I have a glass of milk on the table next to me. Here's my spot on our somewhat ugly (but mostly comfortable) hand-me-down couch:

The towel is covering the big spot where the upholstery has worn completely through to the stuffing. We should probably just buy a new couch, but with an almost-toddler in the house, it seems like a waste of money. I figure we'll wait until Nico (or his future sibling) is past couch-ruining age or the couch literally falls apart, whichever comes first.

My laptop lives on the end table beside my seat, since it only has about seven minutes of battery life when it's not plugged in:

I love my laptop, but I have a creeping suspicion it's not long for this world. Can you see the streak of discoloration going right down the middle of the screen? I usually sit on the couch with the recliner kicked out, laptop on my lap. If Nico is up, I have to be very vigilant since he likes to find and chew on cords. Often I watch TV while I putter around online:

If I look to the left of the TV, I've got a view of our very small foyer and the doorway into the kitchen:

Right now the view is reminding me that I keep forgetting to take Nico's pool float up to his closet before he goes to bed.

There's usually a steady stream of background noise, whether it's the TV or a conversation with my husband or music on my computer. While Nico is awake, the fence in the photo gets extended across the middle of the living room from the loveseat side to the couch side to create a play area for him where I can see and reach him while I'm working. He's usually pretty good about playing with his toys and cruising along the fence for an hour or so between cereal time and bedtime, but like I said, the child likes cords. He's only seven months old, so there isn't really any way to keep him from disturbing me if he's determined to do so. It usually takes several hours from the time I start a post until the point where I'm ready to hit publish, because of all the little interruptions. To be fair, though, Nico's probably only responsible for half of those. I'm a multitasker by nature, so I'm always up and down dozens of times, getting a drink or a snack, shuffling the laundry, tending to Nico, letting the dog in or out. The dog spends most of my blogging time curled up on the loveseat across the room, except when he decides to wedge himself between MB and me on the couch. Which was especially fun during his recent week of wearing a giant plastic cone on his neck.

It's definitely not a perfect process, and sometimes I'm thisclose to finishing a post when Nico wakes up for his late feeding and the whole thing ends up abandoned until the next night. All in all, though, I think it works for me.

Okay, your turn! I want to be nosy and see pics of everyone else's blogging spaces.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Best day ever!

No matter how crappy my day has been, no matter how bad traffic gets, my mood can be salvaged by one simple thing. If I see a car driving down the road with a dog hanging its head out the window, my happiness is instantly restored and I have to smile, I can't help it.

Today I wasn't even having a bad day and traffic was nonexistent, so seeing a dog hanging its head out the window would've been a total bonus. But that's not what I saw. What I saw was way better:

And then BoMB and his girlfriend came over and cooked Thai food and we played two rounds of Blokus. I win today!

Reading:  Bloodroot by Amy Greene

Playing:  The Crane Wife by the Decemberists

Friday, September 03, 2010