Wednesday, September 15, 2010

New Digs

Just a reminder: I'm blogging at my new online headquarters. Find me at and the blog specifically at

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


So Miles and I were driving along Baum the other day and I noticed that there is a detective agency in Pittsburgh! Right there, in a ratty old building near the Shell station! It got me thinking about a number of things, including The Number 1 Ladies Detective Agency series and google.

Sometimes I feel like I could have a very nice career as a private detective. A PI? A Dick? (Where does that term come from, anyway?) It also reminded me of the time I had jury duty and was seated next to a former PI all day. He had great stories. I probably blogged about them on here...this was back before my life revolved around poop and breastmilk.

But are PI's really useful in the age of internet stalking? Could this agency be running a viable business? If yes, why the ratty exterior? Just to fit into the ambiance, the stereotype of such a profession?

I would love it if someone had something that needed investigation and they hired this agency and then told me about the experience. I mean, does it smell like cigars inside? Does the PI wear a trench coat? Do they have free Wi-Fi? Your thoughts?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Oak Ridge Boys

Lately, I am obsessed with the Oak Ridge Boys. It all started when my mom began singing Elvira to Miles and my friend KK showed me the video on YouTube. Now I can't stop watching their videos and wondering what in the hell is wrong with people.

For example, they'll show an ORB thrust his hips, big old beard swaying in the breeze from his tambourine shaking, and then pan to the audience swooning. Or the deep voiced one will point his finger to the sky and then wink and ladies clutch their bosoms. And then the one with the teeth will grab the lapels of his orange leather jacket or run his fingers through his curly afro...

I have watched almost all of the videos from YouTube. I've seen them on Johnny Carson and on gospel shows and TNN. I watch all of it. I sing the songs. And then Miles and I dance along and I try to wink at him, maybe point my finger suggestively as I say, "Mmm poppa mmmm poppa mmmm poppa mow-wow," but he doesn't swoon! It must be my hair. It's either not gray enough, not big enough or else my pants are too loose.

Anyway, I'll be spending the rest of the week singing folksy songs from the 70s, watching some grainy YouTube videos. I'll be taking careful notes on how I should dress if I want to be a superstar or crazy fangirl. I might emerge a different person. No promises

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Shower Curtain

Does this happen to anyone else? I have a plastic shower curtain liner, and this part goes inside the tub. When I am in the shower, it billows and blows and sticks to my legs. I hate it! This morning, I became so enraged I actually screamed and yelled at the shower curtain.

I don't know what else I can do to this thing. It has suckers on the ends that I affix to the wall at either end of the shower. It has weights in the bottom that theoretically hold it down. But nothing works! It blows all over me. I was trying to shave my legs. It was clingier than Miles when he needs a nap.

I was seconds away from ripping it off the curtain rod and just taking a shower with the cloth, outer part of the curtain. I might have to take baths until I can either calm down or figure out a solution.

Saturday, May 01, 2010


I have to take a time out (or back in?) to give a shout out to my PSUWRFC ladies. I was so proud watching the game online. I even stayed up past my bed time. Way past. It was so worth it to feel again that excitement, knowing your team is the best in the country. And what a clinic they put on today! This was the last hurdle the team had to leap: back to back national championships. Now that that's out of the way, what will the next step be for Penn State Rugby??

I can't wait to find out! Agh. I am just so proud right now.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


*UPDATED: I fixed the broken link!

So a lot has been going on over here at Team Lev Headquarters. I have decided not to go back to teaching next year. I am going to focus on writing and, to make up the difference in income, I had to seek out an endeavor that was lucrative and yet allowed me to work in short bursts when Miles was either in a good mood or asleep.

So, on the employment front, I started doing transcription. As it turns out, I don't have the time right now to really pursue the types of writing activities that would be lucrative enough to cover my nut. But I do have short bursts of time to type what people are saying. I have some wicked fast typing skills (mostly from years of typing my own research interviews) and I had a really good friend (the owner of Yarnia!) who sort of shepherded me through the process of getting some gigs.

Then I had to take some tests from various companies. And I failed one. Let me tell you how well I handled that! Me! Type A, control freak, perfection nazi. I failed a damn test. It was like my world exploded. I pretty much ate 11.5 cupcakes and buried my head in the sand. (actually, I ate 11.5 cupcakes as part of a spring cupcake party...more on that later I guess) As it turns out, my problem was technological and not physical. I just didn't know the Word shortcuts necessary to type fast and accurately as people are talking. But I learned them!

And then I passed a couple of tests and got paid $75 to transcribe a test file, which I also passed (take that, shitty-paying magazine gig!). And now I'm doing some captioning and transcribing and it's been great. I stick Miles in the jumperoo and type for 20 minutes while he pushes buttons with his face and jumps up and down. Or then he falls asleep and I do some more work. It's all been pretty snazzy.

On the other issue, my writing, I have really been working to sort of streamline what I want to do as a writer. I have been, you might have noticed, very transformed by the birth of my son. It has affected everything about me and I find he's all I want to write about. Him and mothering in general and birthing in general. So I am reinventing myself as a mom/birth writing specialist. I don't see my writing about ecological sustainability as separate from this, so I'm still doing those gigs, too. I mean, who wants their baby to eat bleach or succumb to CO poisoning? So I keep writing about the earth.

Which brings me to my very exciting piece of news. I totally revamped my website, with help from my brother-in-law, and included a blog on there. Check it out here: I will, from now on, do most of my blogging over there on my own site and I'll pretty much be only writing about mothering and birthing. Am I a mommy blogger now? Probably. And I'm down with that.

I like to think I have a unique voice out there. I'm not scared to admit that motherhood is hard and often sucks a fat nut. I'm not afraid to admit it was really unenjoyable for large portions of the first four months. And I know I'm not alone in thinking so and I hope that my voice can somehow offer validation to other moms who share my experiences.

So you'll find me over there, where I publish my other work and will now publish my independent ideas. I've started out with a bunch of posts from this archive.

New stuff to come soon!

See? Isn't it all very exciting?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


I went to rugby practice last night! I was nearly as nervous walking to the field as I was the first time I walked to a rugby field...perhaps in some ways this was scarier because I knew what was coming and I went anyway.

I was kind of indifferent about the fitness portion of practice--I've never been what you might call a speed demon. Finishing last on sprint drills was ok with me (though the bent-over wheezing afterward was a teeny bit embarrassing, only because we practiced on Pitt's campus and PEOPLE COULD SEE!).

It was the contact I feared. Oh, the contact. When our captains announced we would work on 2 vs 1 drills, I got sick, nauseous. I had this giant swelling of fear inside me. I really and truly almost cried, I was so scared.

I kept playing out these scenarios in which someone tackled me wrong and I ruptured my uterus. Or else maybe my bladder would migrate and switch places with the uterus again, like it did after my surgery? Or, dear lord, what if I peed my pants or leaked breastmilk during the moment of impact??

I went through a couple rounds of the drill, sort of avoiding contact at all costs. And then KP let me tackle her. I would like to say that suddenly everything was better and that I was instantly the rugby player I was before. That would, of course, be a lie. But I did discover that I wasn't going to crumple like a piece of peanut brittle.

When I was feeling a bit blue about the whole exercise, another wise teammate (back in the game herself after a hiatus...she says her being long of the tooth equals my being saggy of the pelvic floor) told me that everything I did last night was more than I had done before. Isn't that wise?

So I did it. I finished practice and got more exercise in that 90 minutes that I have for months, unless you count squat thrusts holding an 18# baby and a few walks around the block, which really, really, really do not match the intensity of a rugby practice.

Corey asked me later if I had fun while I was there. I don't know if fun is the right word (because most of it was so painful and awful). But I was there, immersed in my friends and teammates and thinking only adult thoughts. Rugby practice had the marvelous affect of giving me tunnel vision, focus. While I was engaged in practice, I was only thinking about practice. My mind didn't have time to worry; I wasn't simultaneously doing laundry and mopping a floor and cooking rice cereal. I was just doing one, super hard thing at a time. So yeah, it was pretty outstanding, despite the agony.

At the end of it all, by some miracle, Miles hadn't gone to bed yet (perhaps his Dad overstimulated him?) so I found myself zooming home, shedding muddy layers in the car. I rushed in the front door, washed my hands, and got to nurse him to sleep. My favorite part of the day.

And then the little pea pod slept straight through the night for the first time! Which was good, because when I heard him meowing this morning, my post-baby body was barely able to drag its bones over to pick him up.

Welcome back to the game, Katy.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Liquids I Was Not Prepared For

I knew to be ready for many things as a mother. I got ready for a lot of things that turned out to be pretty insignificant in the grand scheme of things. But then, my baby spewed forth a handful of liquids I just never, ever expected. These include, but are not limited to:
1. Biscuit juice--the liquid goo that squirts out of Miles' face as he eats one of those teething cookies. The juice is not quite spit, not quite solid food, but filled with enough gluten to make a brown, gluey mess of everything in the house. Biscuit juice is gritty and could be an exfoliant. What I should do is just give my son a few biscuits and stick a cup under his mouth to catch the biscuit juice. I could then sell the juice to either Elmers or Sephora.

2. Laundry Leachate--similar to landfill leachate, only involving streams of milky, barfy liquid that sinks down through the clothes in the wicker hamper and pools on the hardwood floor, sometimes dripping down into the space below the hardwood floor. Anything the leachate touches needs to be doused in Borax-treated soaking water. Often, leachate contains biscuit juice particles.

3. Mucous--I knew my baby would make mucous. I can prove I knew this because I obtained one of those blue squeezy bulbs with which to suck the mucous from his various drain-holes. But I didn't know what the mucous would feel like, sound like, taste like as it sprayed all over my person and my home. (See leachate, above) Let me tell you, nothing beats a morning spent using your legs to pin down all the baby's limbs, your calves holding his head immobile, finagling the damn squeezy bulb up his nose and drawing out the mucous, only to have it slip and plop directly onto your crotch. Of your only clean pants that button.

4. Fruit juice--did anyone know that fruit juice is sticky and makes a mess? Even when it's super diluted? Why the heck didn't I know this? My floors are covered with dirty spots that were once juice spills and then got dusty or covered in cotton when someone decided to crawl right on through the spills. Then, frequently, I will step barefoot in one of these dead zones and need to use some sort of razor to get the grime from my foot.

5. Dried up barf--no longer a liquid, but a former liquid. Miles has this habit of barfing sort of secretly. When he is playing contentedly under the dining room table, say, then crawls into the living room, we'll notice his face and hands are barfy. Which means he barfed at some point, but didn't tell us! Then we need to hunt the barf. If we are unsuccessful and too much time passes, we have set ourselves up to find a clump of dried up barf, which is not quite as bad as fruit juice tar traps, but still requires a chisel, dish soap, and an old cloth diaper for cleanup. I just always assumed the baby would make a big production of barfing, we'd clean it up, and my worst problem would be the leachate in the hamper...

I'm sure there will be many more surprise liquids I haven't seen just yet, and I already know there are some new habits I am learning (i.e. always wear some sort of shoe or foot protection). In the mean time, I have a kid who has dragged himself through a puddle of something (dishwasher water? Spilled laundry detergent?) and I need to mop him up before he creates a new hazard.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Take Your $75 and Shove It!

Update: I have secured $75 for this month. I will be earning it as a training exercise for a new endeavor. Corey and I have been discussing the conundrum of our finances. We want one of us to be home with Miles, we want each of us to have work/life balance, and we want to have enough money to pay our bills.

If Corey took an accounting job with a for-profit company, he'd make way more money, but we'd never see him. So, I am trying something new. It will still allow me to work from home and will require less immersion than writing, should I succeed in the training.

I don't want to go on and on about details because I might not be a good fit for this new form of self employment! But, suffice it to say that the $75 I could have earned slaving for one magazine article has been recouped in a way that could potentially improve quality of life for Team Lev!

Wish me luck on my training. Join me in feeling smug about the $75, no matter what happens!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Pondering My Bosom

My bosom is on my mind again of late (not that it hasn't been ever-present in my thoughts since July 17). This is because I will be leaving Miles in 2 weeks to attend the AWP conference in Denver. I'm speaking on a panel there! I should be excited! I'm on the program! But yet, I am terrified.

My poor, defenseless baby will be home alone with his father (and Ninny) while I am off gallivanting and pretending to be a grown-up. What will he do when, every few hours, he wants to nurse? I know he'll be getting nourishment from a bottle while I'm gone and won't starve to death. But what about his emotional needs? That boy loves him some nursing time.

He sits down at my breast and pats it with both hands, kneads the extra flesh like a baker. He rubs my bosom, pats it with his little (sometimes-ice-cold) fingers, and looks up into my eyes as if to say, "thank you for letting me be near this wondrous bosom, fountain of all that is delicious and good for me." He makes oinking sounds and slurps.

Then his eyes roll up in his head and he falls asleep.

Will he forget how to do this while I am gone? Will he stop wanting to do this? Worse, will my bosom forget how to offer this experience? I spend many hours each day wondering what will happen to my nipples while I am away (will my hard-earned tough skin chafe while I'm gone?) or whether my milk ducts will explode and I'll die of engorgement.

I think about what bra I should wear while I'm out and about. On one hand, I have no need to wear a bra that flaps open with the flick of a finger. I'll get to keep my shirt securely fastened for, like, 8 hours at a time if I want. But what other choice of lingerie do I really have? It's not like I have a heap of F cup bras sitting around! And, really, F cup is me in denial and not wanting to purchase a better-fitting G cup brazier. I might as well leave my nursing bras at home and just bring a bucket truck.

Sidenote: I was out for a walk today with some friends and I possessed the smallest bosom of our party. Boy, did I feel dainty!

Among all this anxiety over what will happen to my bosom during this adventure lies the need to express my milk. I am going to have to use that damn breast pump again, many times each day. I spent a long time on the phone and internet securing a plan of action to get my milk back home with me (thanks, TSA!). But the bottom line is that, even though this trip will afford me uninterrupted sleep and the freedom to wear a turtleneck, I just cannot escape the constant presence of breast thoughts.

I'll have my insulated lunch box and ice packs with me at all times, my bag of pump parts, baggies of milk, and always the worry about weather I'll get mugged and someone will steal my liquid gold. I won't need to rush home to a hungry babe, but I'll be waiting in line for the lactation rooms both to relieve my exploding udders and to remind my bosom that it's not off duty yet.

I'm at a stage in my nursing experience where I think the process is awesome and totally rewarding. But I am still slammed to my knees at the tremendous power of Miles' need for me. As much as I want to pretend I am still sort of the same person, can still engage in lively discussions of pedagogy and networking and contract negotiations, it all slides away every few hours when my body reminds me of its main duty right now.

I know I say this many times every day, but I just had no idea what I was getting myself into.

Now, off to ice my armpits. I'm having a supply surplus this evening because someone went to bed early.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Strong Opinions About Writing and Money

I just passed on a writing assignment because it paid crap. Bottom of the barrel crap. My reaction is very visceral and complicated, and I should probably wait to be less angry before writing about this. But I have a lot of feelings to work through.

For starters, I am insulted that the editor was insulted that I should ask for more money. She ranted about her overhead, her limited budgets, her bills to pay and then suggested that my putting a value on my craft, a specific per-word or per-assignment value, was somehow selling out. Why should writing not be a paid skill?

Why should I settle for the joy of having written for this magazine, for the joy I will bring my readers or the joy of seeing my name in ink?

If I applied this same logic, I would have to tell my babysitter she could also earn pennies on the hour for watching my child while I research and write--isn't Miles a joy to behold? And then I could tell the mortgage company I will only pay pennies per month for the space I use to write and the phone company, internet provider, grocery store, etc. because I am pretty cool. Isn't it a joy to support my efforts bringing joy to the world? Let's just set up a barter economy!

The implication here is that because my craft is writing--an art--I should do it for nothing. I should be a starving artist and maybe dumpster dive or go on food stamps to preserve the integrity of my work. Have I sold out in fixing a monetary value to my craft? Is my work less artful because I ask to be compensated for it? So be it.

Sidenote: If writing were not a valuable skill, why do universities charge many thousands of dollars to teach graduate students how to do it better?

There are not many people who can do what I do, and I should be compensated for my time spent doing this complicated activity. This is not opinion. I am continually flabbergasted by people who balk when writers demand a nice wage. If I were a plumber or mechanic, nobody would speak to me harshly or claim I am somehow mentally unwell for asking to be compensated for my work. In my imaginary scenario, I am the plumber. I ask for $40 for repairing a toilet clog. The client balks. I say, "Ok. Fix it yourself then. See ya!"

This morning a magazine offered me $75 to craft a mid-length feature article. The last feature I wrote took me about 20 hours of documented time, including research and drafting. It took me untold hours of shower-time-drafting, before bed pondering, dinner-time aha! moments and other subconscious wordsmithing. Can you imagine doing this for $75? I asked for much more than this. They balked. I said, in essence, "Ok. Write it yourself then." (Actually, I spent a long time thinking of a way to say this politely and came up with, 'I am going to have to pass on this assignment.')

I believe that people think they can offer these piddly amounts of money because people have begun taking this in exchange for writing. Craigslist drips with these sorts of offers because people take them. I hear the following argument all the time: well, I can churn out writing so fast that I end up getting $10 per hour or more!

To this I say, writing should not be churned. $10 per hour still blows.

Many people also imply that any money is better than no money. This bristles my feathers, too. I have a stack of bills on my desk, too, but I would rather pay them with snow-shoveling labor or working at Starbucks or bagging groceries. To do the work of writing for so little money sends the message that this is what writing is worth. The people who take those jobs slowly chip away the bottom of the barrel for the rest of us.

Today, someone knocked a hole in my sub-floor, monetarily speaking. I feel proud that I stepped around the hole. Yeah, I'm out $75 this month. I feel confident that I will find it elsewhere and for less labor.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Whine Me a River

I have started letting Miles "whine it out" when I put him to bed. It occurred to us recently that we feel ok not responding immediately when Miles whines. We know that nothing is wrong because, for four months, we heard what noise he makes when something is wrong. Everyone on our block heard it. For 100 days. Without stopping.

So now, when he makes this whining sound, if we are mid-cup of tea or nose-blowing or almost at the end of an episode of the Office, we feel pretty forgiven for not running at high speed to see what's going on.

When we put him down for bed or for a nap, he often is asleep at the breast or over the shoulder and then, somewhere in the transfer to his bed, he wakes up and starts whining. We pat his back a bit, tell him everything is ok, that it's time for lovely sleep, and if he's not done whining yet, I'm going to go ahead and admit that I walk out the door, close it, and let him whine it out for a few minutes until he falls asleep.

I wonder if this is what people thought was going on when they would suggest I let Miles cry it out earlier in his life? Because this is totally bearable. I suppose it might sound like crying to some folks, who haven't heard what it sounds like when Miles ACTUALLY cries. There aren't even tears involved in this new whining, let alone stiff back arching and vomit-smearing. This is just limp-bodied, face buried in the hands, tired whining. He usually stops within three or four minutes, becomes totally asleep, and everyone wins.

Every now and then, the whining will turn into actual crying and we get our butts in there before it becomes screaming. But we've learned to tell the difference between the two sounds--or rather Miles has learned to make different sounds.

I think that in teaching us the difference between his desperate need for comfort and just plain whining, Miles has actually set himself up for a tougher path as a toddler or teenager. He showed us his good cards right away, so we know exactly what it sounds like when he is having an emergency. Which means we know what it sounds like when there is nothing actually wrong, too. For the rest of his life, he is totally effed if he is seeking any sort of urgent response from whingy little sleepy sounds.

Free of Phlegm

Still isn't too sure about this grass stuff

Thinking about liking the swing

Liking the swing a little bit

Watching Daddy make a weird face

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Whip It

*Spoiler Warning*

I was disappointed by Whip It. Perhaps I had unreasonably high expectations because the film got so much hype in Bust magazine, but I just had this overall sense of "this could have been better" when it was finally over. Maybe I was angry that it wasn't a film about rugby?

My main problem with the movie was that it included a love story. Why was this necessary? I realize all the great sports films contain love stories on the side, and I was glad to see that the relationship was truly a side element to the larger theme of developing oneself through team sports. But I just felt like the Oliver thing was a distraction from some of the other really juicy plot elements. Were the conflicts with the mother character, Blue Bonnet pageants and the former best friend not enough? Was the drive to escape the small town not enough? I didn't need Oliver.

I also absolutely hated everything to do with Drew Berrymore in that movie. Her character made no sense. Name me a stoner who has a penchant for violence and unchecked rage! Why wasn't her character just a stoner or just an aggressive bruiser? In rugby, we have both types of person. But I can't think of a combo. Not to mention, Drew Berrymore couldn't act her way out of a pair of rollerskates. If her character threatened to beat up Bliss' mother one more time, I was going to hip check her into oncoming traffic.

I also was upset that many of the roller derby teams had male coaches. Based on my experience obsessively following the Steel City Derby Demons a few years ago and my knowledge gained watching the series Rollergirls, about the actual Austin roller derby circuit, I know that many teams are actually self-coached or coached by former female derby athletes. While it was great to see a male coach of a female team NOT in a romantic relationship with his players, I would have loved to see a female controlling the strategic reins of the team. Women need to see role models in coaching positions--the movie was based on a fictitious novel, so why not just make the coach character a woman?

Finally, I was disappointed with the characters' response to the male coach. When Bliss is first learning to skate, her coach takes her aside and tells her to basically get tougher; this is a contact sport. She becomes enormously upset and Maggie Mayhem has to intervene and soften the blow, tell her not to take it personally. Scenes like this are, I think, part of the reason women do tend to take constructive criticism personally. He was not being mean and he was not getting personal--this was not in-your-face, angry coaching. He was offering Bliss a real bit of information that was going to improve her game. I wish the writer or director would have just let Bliss absorb this message, learn from it, and then go on to improve her aggressive athleticism.

Many of these issues were handled fantastically in the series Rollergirls. The show featured women who were tremendous athletes, bruisers, stoners, just plain bitchy, super competitive, had the sport change their lives and alter their romantic relationships, etc. There were tattoos and disappointed mothers and lives adjusted to not only accommodate roller derby, but to revolve around that activity as the central focus. That series, I felt, did women's team sports everywhere a great justice. I wish it had gotten more attention. Stick it on your Netflix, queue. You'll be happy you did!

Anyway, there were some things about Whip It that made me really happy. For starters, I liked that the mean, dominant team won in the end. They were a competitive bunch of winners and it would have been a way crappier movie if the Hurl Scouts won the big tournament. I like when women are shown in roles that are ruthless and super competitive, because women are capable of being both.

I also liked that the villain character (even though I hate Juliette Lewis and will always picture her as mentally disabled a la The Other Sister) wasn't evil, just sort of bitchy and really wanted to win. I didn't understand why Bliss called her out for "outing" Bliss's real age--the film showed scenes of her telling her own team her age and Posh's parents are the ones who told Bliss's parents. What was that about, Bliss? I like that Carla Tate, I mean Iron Maven, pretty much just said she wanted to eff with Bliss's head and then just beat her where it mattered--on the track.

In the end, the film made headway in that it showed the transformative power of team sports, specifically full-contact team sports, for women. I just had an overall sense that it could have been better, perhaps with a different director behind the camera.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Pesky Front Garden

For three summers now, I have fretted about my front lawn. Each year, I say ENOUGH! I will just plant food out there and be done with it. I suck at everything else. Then I cave and try to plant batches of flowers, which I neglect or hate or can't really afford. I've managed to kill a handful of hostas that were allegedly going to grow wild and look good year round.

I killed perfectly lovely fire bush.

I may have killed the lavender plant my friend stuck in the yard for me.

There are perhaps six tulips that have survived to grow again this year, and they look sprouty and lovely among the grass and weeds taking over the front bed.

This is the year where I say enough for real and I am planting food out there. Judge away, neighbors!

It was so gorgeous outside that I figured even my sick baby could benefit from helping me in the garden a little bit:
Look at his sad little water eyes! He breaks my heart.

I trucked him up front while I got the soil ready. Perhaps you can see in the background the brick border buried under gross grass and weeds? It looks like that year round, so we just hoed some compost into the soil and planted the vining peas along the trellis. Miles obviously just supervised and offered instructions.

Provided I can revive the lavender, I'll have that up there along with other herbs. I'm sticking mint, sage, basil, oregano, thyme, and rosemary in my front plot. Those are things I know how to grow, they are things that are useful, and they fit our budget for landscaping. Plus, most of them are perennial!

I know, you are thinking, but mint is invasive! It will take over your whole front lawn and eat the neighbor children! To this I say, good! Less for Corey to not mow, more for me to make tea.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Where Does All This Guilt Come From??

One thing that has surprised me about parenting is the amount of guilt involved in seemingly innocent decisions. Choose wrong, and you are forever on the wrong side of some binary. You have to face every food decision, every outfit choice, every toy purchase with conviction, because at every turn there is someone (real or perceived) asking you to defend that choice.

For instance, Miles is sick right now. I have been putting off calling the pediatrician because I don't want to be one of those moms who calls the pediatrician all the time. We have taken him in probably four times in his life so far for illness, and each time were told he'd be fine. Nothing to worry about!

I feel this huge force pressuring me not to call the pediatrician because then I'll be one of "those people." There is this discussion on my mom's email list right now about the evils of pediatricians, how they are pawns for the pharmaceutical companies, little better than drug pushers with lollipops. I also know quite a few hypochondriacs who know their physicians better than they know some relatives. Why not pay them for the peace of mind that everything is ok?

In general, we choose to let him cough and snot and poop and grump for awhile. Watchful waiting, etc. Except that on Saturday, his cough turned into really raspy breathing and his eyes just poured junk. I wanted to take him to one of those pharmacy clinics, but settled for paging the pediatrician.

As I waited for Dr. H. to return the page, I chided myself for overreacting and paging my doctor on a Saturday. I did this a lot more after we had a chat and decided Miles was probably just suffering from a bad cold.

Then, this morning, he coughed to persistently and wheezed so mightily I decided the guilt of being one of "those people" was less horrible than the guilt of being one of those people who lets her baby succumb to pneumonia or similar, so I put the pediatrician on speed dial and called every 4 minutes until I got through (it's rough on a Monday morning!).

As it turns out, he has an ear infection. "On a scale of one to ten, with ten being worst, this is about a 4.5," our doctor said. What does this mean? It meant, first, that I wasn't one of "those moms" and that it was ok to call the doctor! One layer of guilt eliminated! But it also meant another choice to analyze: He wrote me a prescription for antibiotics, but left it up to me whether I filled it. Oh great!

If I give him the meds, I could be setting him up for a resistance to antibiotics. I might be one of "those moms" who is all drug crazy and just medicates every single problem. If I don't, he'll get better on his own eventually, but he will suffer through several more days of discomfort, crappy breathing, and shitty sleep. I'll be one of "those moms" and give up my own rest to spend the night soothing my poor.

Surprisingly, I came to a conclusion on this one relatively quickly. Corey is picking up the amoxicillin right this minute. Which leaves me free to fret about all sorts of other decisions.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Time Change

I have located perhaps the lone benefit to having a baby who refuses to maintain any sort of routine: spring forward day means nothing to my family. For the first time in my life, I remain completely unaffected by the change to daylight saving time. Am I tired today? Of course! But that's because I was up every 3 hours overnight, same as I've been every night for the past ten.

The "good" thing about Miles is that he doesn't give a crap what time it is or what is on schedule for the day. If he's tired, he wants to be asleep and if he is not tired, by God--he will be awake. He has no regard for weekend vs week day, company vs just family, time to watch Lost vs sing Music Together songs. Every few hours, that boy will be awake and then, once he has licked everything in the room, pooped, and jumped around for awhile, he will become asleep.

Most days, I find it very difficult to surrender to the unschedulability of this life. I find I can accomplish things, like going to the store or cleaning the bathtub, only when they are not attached to specific time frames. As soon as any sort of deadline or coordination is involved, forget about it. There is an equal chance I can be available or that I'll be counting to ten in the hallway before I try to nurse the crying baby to sleep for the fourth time that hour.

This represents such an utter and complete reversal of the life I once knew, where I could map out a day coordinated to the very minute, with things like "relax" and "eat cereal" penciled into the agenda at set times. I have had to change my way of thinking to focus on specific objectives, prioritized by importance, rather than view my day as chopped into specific slots. Heck, I used to mentally prepare for an entire week as a unit. Now, I can't do that any more and I'm learning to let go of the urge to try.

It's strange, though, that as we approached this clock changing weekend I realized time matters not one lick. It's totally arbitrary. Do you know how trippy that is for me? Yesterday, Corey and I just went about our day, went to bed as soon as Miles did, and knew he would wake up when he woke up. Our Sunday would be what it was going to be. It was strangely calming to just be in the moment because there was no alternative. It's hard to explain, but evening became just evening time, rather than the set of hours between 6pm and our 9pm bedtime...

For most of my life, I have dreaded daylight saving day because it meant I lost an hour of sleep. I'd inevitably have to be up for work or errand-running or have been out late the night before (or maybe I spent the evening before mentally reciting my schedule for the next week to make sure I hadn't left a single moment unaccounted for). I can't get over the fact that this year was so different.

Want to know when MW was up for the day today? 8:30am EDT. Want to know why that doesn't matter? Because he was also up from 12:00am-1:00am and 4:30-5:30, snotting and coughing and generally breaking my heart with his little chest cold.

Everyone assures me that I will be able to rejoin the world that rotates around a clock, one day be able to again say, "Sure! Let's have lunch at 12:30!" Today is the first day in a long time where I don't care--maybe my rigidly scheduled life wasn't that great anyway. It was like this shattering, delirious revelation. We'll eat when we're hungry, sleep when the baby sleeps, and spend the time in between doing what we need to get done.

In this case, what we need to get done is a top-to-bottom scrub of our snot-covered germ den, but that's a story for another day.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Beware the Ides of March

I had to cancel the last leg of Levapolooza. That's what I have been calling this week, which was supposed to include a visit from Corey's parents, overlapped by a visit from Corey's brother, finished by a visit to NJ to say farewell to Corey's childhood home and introduce Miles to the fine arts of good bread and road rage.

Levapolooza quickly turned into just a visit from Jordie as Mom-mom went down with sciatica and, yesterday, Miles woke up with a head full of sick. The poor kid just can't seem to catch a break, healthwise. We spent 6 days working through some pretty torturous teething issues, which had MW waking up every hour or two in pain and riding out a low grade fever. The day the tooth finally broke through the gum, he wound up with a head full of snot.

All of this is to also indicate that I have not had more than 2 hours' sleep in a row for 8 days now. Perhaps Wednesday night I got 3 hours in a row? At this point, who can remember. I certainly didn't remember to brush my teeth today. Or change my underwear. I would say I am walking wounded, but I am not walking at all. The sleep deprivation finally caught up with me and I find myself flat on my back, unable to move. When I try, I am overcome with nausea and dizziness.

Corey had to stay home from work today to take care of us. I got toast with butter in bed. Miles got salted steam, the blue nose snot-sucker, and a squirt of saline. All certainly much less fun than a visit to Mom-mom, Peppy, and Aunt Dina.

I find it very sad that these woes should befall us just as the world is waking up from its lengthy, white nightmare. Just as I find myself able to escape the house and the neighborhood, just as we find plants poking through the soil and head outside without jackets, we are struck down. Beware the Ides of March, the Bard warns us. Beware indeed.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Pittsburgh Gets ICAN chapter

A press release to share:

The International Cesarean Awareness Network (ICAN) now has an on-the-ground presence in the Pittsburgh region. As the cesarean-section rate climbs past 31% (according to 2007 data from the Center for Disease Control), ICAN provides peer-based support for women interested in recovery and prevention. ICAN aims to provide factual information and evidence-based information regarding choices in childbirth.

The group’s next meeting will be held Tuesday, March 30, 2010 from 6:30-8:30pmin the office of Patrick Thornton, 1900 Murray Ave, in Squirrel Hill. Contact Amy Farr, 724-297-3221 or for more information or search for the group via facebook.

ICAN is a worldwide nonprofit organization devoted to improving maternal-child health by preventing unnecessary cesareans through education, providing support for cesarean recovery, and promoting Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC). Their website ( offers community forums and informational webinars covering topics ranging from scar care to homebirth preparation. For more information or to join, visit

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Bubble Up

My cousin had her baby on Friday. I found out she went into labor in the morning and waited by the phone all day, anxious to hear news of her progress. I was totally unprepared for how M's experience would stir up undealt-with emotions from my own birth experience. When, as it turns out, her labor mirrored mine down to almost every last detail, I went a little crazy.

Every text message or relative seemed to deliver worse news: medical interventions, dangerously low heart rate, cord wrapped around the baby's torso (this was not something I experienced with Miles), and an eventual emergency c-section. My response to her delivery was so complex: I was a little jealous of my cousin because she got to the stage of pushing, but then was totally not jealous that she pushed for three hours before the doctor "called it" and rushed her to the OR. I was delighted to hear I have a new baby cousin, with red hair no less! But I was truly sad thinking about the way he entered the world. I am not saying that my cousin was devastated by what happened to her at all. I was devastated just thinking about that whole process.

I am heartbroken that another mom had to have major abdominal surgery, had to have her organs moved around and placed on her chest, that another mom can't get out of bed for a week (at least!) to tend to the needs of her crying newborn and change diapers in the middle of the night. My heart just aches for all these damaged bodies with staples in their skin. My cousin is allergic to Demoral...they had to find a nursing-friendly alternative pain medication to ease the burning she felt around her incision. I can't imagine that.

What is going on that more than 30% of babies are born until extreme conditions like this? Why do I feel so powerless when faced with news of such happenings? I need to work through these feelings and find an outlet for my political childbirth energy. This month's ICAN meeting (the first I'll get to attend!) can't come soon enough.

Friday, March 05, 2010

The Office Baby

Spoiler Warning

I have been so nervous to watch NBC's The Office episode where Pam and Jim have their baby. In general, I hate how labor and birth are portrayed in pop culture. There are either shots of women flat on their backs, gasping in pain, demanding drugs (see Friends, Waitress, Knocked Up, etc.) or birth itself is totally erased as a male OB announces the sex of a baby and we cut to a mother, elated, holding a wrinkle-free, totally clean baby bundled in a blanket.

There was, I felt, a great opportunity for The Office to do something new with the portrayal of labor, and I wasn't totally disappointed. Even though they made it into a joke, the episode showed Pam trying to "hold the baby in" until midnight because their insurance would give them more hospital coverage that way. This is a very real and very problematic scenario. Women with limited insurance or no insurance find the prospect of birth terrifying. What if something goes awry and they are faced with crippling medical bills? I have seen the statement of benefits for my C-section. The bills were not insignificant. I have to sense that Pam putting a time stamp on her delivery had to hit home with many women in the audience.

The episode also showed Pam laboring on her own terms. She ate food with Kevin (she's allowed only ice chips at the hospital), found her own way to focus through the contractions, and didn't stereotypically strangle her husband or tell him it was his fault or other unfunny antics. She just breathed, changed her clothes, and ate recipes featured in the Twilight series.

I also liked the reference to Pam having pubic hair as Michael invaded her privacy while she was pushing.

What struck me as most important in this episode was the accurate portrayal of breastfeeding as something that is tricky for some women. This show just *might* make up for the horrendous depiction of Nancy's nursing escapades in Weeds. In addition to actually featuring some scenes where babies are held up to mothers' bosoms, The Office (while not showing any areola) demonstrated how support, or lack thereof, can affect breastfeeding success.

The nurse in last night's episode encourages Pam and Jim on many occasions to just let her give the baby a bottle of formula. Pam expressed a need for lactation support and instead of offering it, the nurse suggested taking the baby to the nursery and giving her a bottle if she cried. How many mothers are talked out of breastfeeding in this way, by someone in a position of authority discouraging them instead of showing a new technique or saying, "I know it's tough! Why don't you try once more while I take a look?"

How many other women are discouraged from trusting their instincts when they express, as Pam did, that something just doesn't feel right? I was so fortunate to have great lactation support. Based on what I have read on mothering forums and seen in last night's episode, the nurses I had are rare gems. Thankfully, Pam gets a visit from a lactation consultant later in the episode. The joke of the scene is that he is a male lactation consultant. But neither Pam nor I seemed to care about that as the more pressing concern of nourishing baby Cecilia took precedence and Pam is taught some techniques to help with let-down.

My favorite thing about the episode, and the image I am glad to take away, was the scene where Pam and Cecilia were alone on the bench outside, with that ridiculous cape of a Hooter Hider. Pam nervously puts the crying baby to her breast and finds, to her joy, that Cecilia finally gets the latch. It was a moment that reflected many of the things I felt about breastfeeding--that it is both "natural" and impossible, that it is both beautiful and stressful, sometimes painful, and wonderful when you both figure it all out.

I am so curious to see what the series will do once they show Pam returning to work. Is it possible, I wonder, to capture in a sit-com the paralyzing stress of pumping, fixating on whether the baby has enough to eat, and trying to let-down in an invasive environment? I can't wait to find out.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Road Rage

I ran over a parking chair today. I don't feel badly about it at all. Some of you might be thinking, "What the hell is a parking chair? Did she mean to say rocking chair?" That's because not everyone lives in a place where people stake claim to public roadways by abandoning porch furniture.

After the big snow, it at first seemed totally justified to claim your 10 feet of shoveled space. I mean, it took upwards of 2 hours to dig out a hole big enough for a car. I know because I did it twice. With a baby! So people in the city started putting out things to mark "their" turf while they went to work or the store or wherever. A lawn chair here, a garbage pail there, every now and then a sawhorse. If you have brief business to conduct on that street and need to park on the public roadway there, tough beans.

Every now and then I can have pity on people who do this and think it sounds acceptable. Sometimes people live on Negley, for instance, where parking is hard to find in the best of times. Some people get home from work late at night and don't want to march for twenty minutes when they finally find a space to stash their coffin/car/giant SUV. Others live in neighborhoods that didn't get plowed out until, like, yesterday, making driving and parking a treacherous endeavor.

Most of the time I just feel like this is silly. It's a city street. Anyone who pays taxes, and technically anyone who doesn't, is free to legally park there. Should you have a true medical need to park in front of your house, you probably have a yellow line on your curb and a handicapped sign outside your house.

Also? I talked to our mail carrier. She can't find anywhere to stop her minivan while she does her job because all open spots are filled with lawn furniture. I have been letting her block the bottom of my driveway. Sure, she could double park and get out, move the furniture, park the van and repeat when she's done. But she doesn't have time for that crap. Recent cuts have doubled her route and she doesn't get paid overtime right now. Parking chairs impede the postal service!!!

I digress. It's been weeks since the last big snow and we had a string of melty days that took care of many of the heaps of snow between spots, freeing up lots of curb for easy parking again. I, myself (sufferer of parallel parking anxiety), parked on Centre twice this week without difficulty. If I can do that, you can park near your house without a wicker loveseat to guide you home.

IT'S TIME TO PUT AWAY THE PARKING CHAIRS. Here is what happened today. The streets are filled with potholes. They resemble the bombed out dirt roads I saw in a video of street conditions in Gaza. There's a bit of wind on this gray day. Miles and I were heading along Black Street, home from the Toy Lending Library.

A big gust thrust a bag chair into the air. It tumbled end over end and landed in the middle of the road, skirting a sinkhole. My choices: drive around the chair, through the pothole, possibly sinking through to China; continue onward and crush the chair, which is just a big piece of litter in my opinion. I cursed and drove right over it, smashing its legs to bits. I should have stopped the car and stolen the chair, abandoned as it was in the middle of the road. Next time!

Tuesday, March 02, 2010


Miles slept straight on through until 5am today, ate some milk, then went back to sleep. Since I had gone to bed at 9 last night, I felt totally energized and decided to stay awake while my family slept on. What a great idea!

I had the most delicious morning. I sat around and slowly sipped tea, read smut on the internet, ate cereal that I could chew and swallow before it turned to mush in my bowl. I think this is the secret to a long and happy life--private morning time.

Could there be anything more amazing than sitting on the couch in a bathrobe watching the sun start to rise, just listening to the silence of my often-noisy house? If everyone keeps being asleep, I might even get in a workout before 7am. A girl could get used to this sort of thing...

Monday, March 01, 2010

Back in the Saddle

I am coaching again. My god, it feels good. I maintain that coaching is way more satisfying than playing a sport, at least for me. I am coaching a select side team, which means low commitment in terms of time. An ideal situation for a mom struggling to get back into her life. Because it's an all-star team, it means that a lot of the girls I coach are better rugby players than I ever was or will be.

Which is totally fine, because I am a better verbal communicator and organizer than they ever were or will be. Which is why I like to coach!

Yesterday, I coached the girls in a scrimmage against Penn State, my alma mater. It was so surreal to drive onto campus, pull into the parking lot of Holuba Hall (in a car! Alone! Without 8 other teammates on my lap!) and pull rugby jerseys out of my hatch back. I had a total Twilight Zone moment as I walked in those front doors and went to the bathroom.

Then I started to get nervous--not because my girls might lose the match, but because my former coaches were going to watch me coach! For those who don't know, Penn State has the best collegiate rugby program in the country. The current team has several girls on the national team, a dozen All Americans, and they won the national championship by over 60 points last year. The coach (my former coach) coaches the nation's coaches. I failed to tell the girls any of this information beforehand.

When they came out of the first period down two tries, I did tell them this information. That they held such a team to such a score was awesome! I have some stunning athletes and I wanted them to feel really proud of how they were playing. But more than anything, I wanted to shake the feeling that I was being personally observed and analyzed. I saw their performance (which was strong!) as a reflection of my coaching abilities, all judged before the men who taught me how to play rugby over a decade ago. It was very intense. I got great loads of armpit sweat out of the situation.

When I coach, I use a visualization technique my favorite ref Lois Bukowski taught me: get in your zone and put on your coach hat while you are in the car. From the moment you open that car door, you are "coach Katy" and you need to emit that energy.

So there I am, trying to maintain my zone, conduct warmups, wrangle the troops, and my former coaches are all walking over to give me hugs and say friendly hellos before the match. I was so torn! Do I hug them, or do I maintain my bubble of coaching energy? I went with the hug and totally lost my focus.

Which was nothing nearly as bad as after the game, when Pete was talking to me about what I should be saying in my pep talks (ah, how I miss that man's pep talks) and chatting about some of the mental stuff associate with rugby.

Talk about bursting my energy field! It was like I was 18 again, mesmerized by the aura of Penn State rugby and too sheepish to claim authority. At any rate, I feel really good about the game, proud of the girls, and totally ready to face the rest of this season. Let's go Trees!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Late Night Reading

Well, I did it. I missed a bedtime with Miles and the world did not implode or explode. In fact, the wee lad slept straight on through from 8pm until 5am (though he did awake marinading in his own pee-pee since no diaper on earth could possibly contain that much liquid).

The point is that I did not stuff my face in nervousness. This was mostly because there was no dessert at this soiree. I wasn't even tested by a tarte table. Instead, there were heaps of wraps and pasta dishes and fancy yummies from some of my favorite eateries. But I had already eaten dinner. And who the heck wants extra pasta when you've just had soup? I had one beer, one cheesed cracker, and that's all.

What I got instead was a lot of excellent conversation and adult stimulation. I met lots of literary folks and writers and graphic designers. I only talked about Miles 60% of the time, which was a huge improvement over most social interactions. As I walked to the venue in dress pants, a real shirt, and dangly earrings, I thought about how easy it can be to "pass" as a normal person. Nobody saw me as a person so off-kilter she drops her deodorant in the toilet and must go without. I slid into the crowd at Alto Lounge as a writer, an adult, an MFA.

I found it didn't take me long to get over feeling shy and removed from the world and it felt so damn good to just see people and be out in the city after dark. Even if I did leave by 8:30.

Regardless, I have now fulfilled my goals set for myself at the beginning of 2010. I have attended 4 cultural events (two movies, two readings) and read two books (John Irving's new one and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, which was half of the reason for last night's shindig).

I'm glad I have those goals out of the way because that means I am ever-so-slowly putting my professional life back together. Now I can concentrate on my physical health in earnest during the next segment of the year. Because, if I'm totally honest, I have not been a mindful eater. Once I freed myself to eat sugar, I ate it. I made the mistake of going to a La Leche meeting snackless on Tuesday and ate 4 cinnamon rolls in a starving, desperate failure of a social excursion.

Now that Miles can crawl, I can't just leave him to lounge on the mats at the gym, so I haven't been going. Double fault! I am left with two solutions:
1. Go to bed by 9pm at the latest so I can make it to the gym by 6am, thus missing all evening social interactions, work functions, or cultural events
2. Allow myself to stay up late and sometimes repeat last night's experience and discipline myself to work out independently at home.

I am not sure which of those choices sounds more difficult/fulfilling. I am going to avoid thinking about it and instead dwell on the memory of last night's success until Monday.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


This afternoon I got an email from my editor at the Mother Nature Network, informing me that had chosen one of my articles to put on their website! If that isn't the best news I heard all week, I just don't know what is! Check me out here. Special thanks to my childcare provider for helping me stop freaking out about the organization of my story!!!

Baby Friendly

There has been a heated discussion on my Mamas email group lately. People are totally fired up about local hospitals and the "formual goody bags" they send home with new moms. Apparently, Mercy hospital downtown is trying to achieve a Baby Friendly hospital status.

I am ashamed to say I have never heard of this before. But, upon reading this argument, I remembered something:

One day, I opened my front door to see a cardboard box from Enfamil on the porch. It contained a canister of formula in a gold wrapper, with happy rabbits on the can. I remember feeling rage upon seeing that canister, and I remember immediately blaming my mother for its being there. You see, she had given my name and mailing address to the store when she bought me maternity pants. I had been getting coupons for Huggies and Playtex bottles ever since.

I angrily took the formula inside, where its presence seemed to whisper, "Just in case your body isn't enough, I am here." It taunted me. I hated it. I vowed to take it to a women's shelter because I couldn't bear to throw it in the garbage can.

But I had a newborn! Who the hell can manage a trip to deliver unwanted formula to a women's shelter with a newborn? It gathered dust on top of the fridge.

Then, as it turned out, I did need that can. One horrible day when I had not slept for weeks and Miles and screamed without stopping for weeks, I got not one drop of milk from my breasts when I tried to pump. Not one drop. I pumped and cried and screamed for hours. I nearly bled. Not one drop. And all the while, Miles screamed.

Corey eventually wrenched him from my arms, prepared a bottle of formula, and I crumpled on the floor sobbing while my baby happily drank food that did not come from my body.

Do I believe Enfamil caused the unfriendly cycle of sleep deprivation and milk supply issues and Miles' strange eating habits? No. Is it possible that the presence of that can of formula in my house was just one more voice in a chorus pressuring me and making breastfeeding a challenge? Yes. Definitely yes.

I still get coupons in the mail from Enfamil. When I read the email messages, I thought that I wasn't able to comment, since I had been given no formula goody bag when I left the hospital. I had only seen lactation consultants and had good, nursing friendly advice. But then I looked at the coupons. My last name on the coupon is smooshed together, all one word. No space, no hyphen. The only people who do that are the folks within the UPMC system.

It seems Magee had indeed given me a goody bag of formula. When I figured that out, I became unspeakably angry. How could the same institution provide the midwives who gave me such support through my birth trauma and then mail formula to my house?

The circumstances surrounding my birth filled me with feelings of failure, with ideas that my body had failed to deliver Miles, and this affected every single moment of my early mothering. Including my breastfeeding experience. When that "failed" to be enough, too, I was in a bad place mentally.

To realize now that my healthcare system played a part of that, that they sent formula to me "just in case I need it," that makes me feel very vigilante-like. It makes me want to find out the addresses of all new mothers in town, go to their houses, and kick the cans of formula out of the hands of the mail carriers (unless, of course, those mothers have ordered those cans on purpose).

Suddenly, I am much more interested in Baby Friendly hospitals and in their mission. I never, ever realized that wanting to deliver a baby through my vagina without medicine and then feed the baby breastmilk made me such a political activist. But it does. You have to fight to be able to do those things. You have to fight long after you have had your baby if you want other women to be able to do those things.

Let me tell you, women and their uteri and offspring are viewed as great big dollar signs. I wish I had realized that sooner. I feel like I was mentally preparing for all the wrong battles before I entered this crazy phase of my life. What I wish more than anything is that I can help younger women know their options, know what their choices are, so they can be better prepared. We should be allowed to make natural choices!

Keep your formula in the stores. When I need it, I will come and buy it. That is all.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Sugar Free: Day 7--Off the Wagon

My last day of the first week without refined sugar was a whirlwind. I ran a coaching clinic in West Virginia, so I was gone most of the day and didn't really remember to consume food, let alone food with sugar in it. This same clinic last year attracted exactly 12 girls, so you can imagine my surprise to discover 84 ready, willing rugby players in the Shell Building at WVU. I was overwhelmed! What a great problem to have! But it didn't give me much time to gorge myself.

Long after the event was over, I had all sorts of thinking to do about what had transpired, what it meant, how I might whittle that group down to the 23 I can take along to the Midwest tournament. So I didn't do any snacking. Corey and I just took Miles on a snow hike to see Mt. Snowmore down the hill, I ate supper, and was in bed by 8pm.

One of our neighbors got crafty with the shovel. Wish I had thought of it!

So that brought me to Monday, the first day of a new week. I had two choices: go for two weeks just to see if I could do it OR (and I think this was the harder choice, actually) go back to eating whatever I wanted, but try to do it mindfully and with control. For instance, I took Miles to the grocery store today. There was nearly a Fried Green Tomatoes, Kathy-Bates, Tawanda!!!!! moment in the parking lot. Such an event would normally drive me to eat an entire candy bar, what with having to walk Miles many blocks in the pouring rain since some jagoff took my parking spot.

But I didn't eat an entire candy bar. I bought one, then ate just one square when I got home. I didn't even ask the cashier if I could hold it immediately after it got scanned. I think that's progress. Mindfulness! Control!

The next big challenge for me will come on Wednesday. I am going to a literary event in the evening. I will be missing bedtime for the first time in my son's life. There will be a dessert table. If I were completely abstaining from sugar, this would be ok. I'd have a piece of cheese and get on with my life. But what will I do now? Can I make it just eating one piece of dessert at said event? Will the thought of my precious baby sobbing himself to sleep in his room, while Corey maniacally plays video games downstairs, drive me into a sugar coma?

I think I might have the sort of personality where, with junk food anyway, it's all or nothing. Either I eat the entire bag of Doritos in one sitting or I don't eat Doritos at all. One of each kind of dessert or just a slice of cheese. This is what I would like to work on. Moderation, mindfulness. It seems, I think, a greater (and more important) endeavor.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Sugar Free: Day 6

Man, today has been awesome. Today is one of those days where you can't help but look at your life and want to brag about how amazingly full it is, how damn excited you are to be living it.

I am blessed in the following ways:

Miles did some wonderful sleeping last night, which means Corey and I did, too.

Then, I got to go to Crossfit all by myself and do a super workout, almost as prescribed.

Then, my whole family took a kick-ass walk to the coffee shop for lunch. I can't prove that my bagel sandwich didn't contain refined sugar, but I would like to hope so. It was amazing. Miles saw some fun friends, who held him so I could eat with both hands. We had the best time!

Family hike to the Mo-Glo!

It was nearly 50 degrees in my neighborhood, so I finally (with the help of the sun) unearthed the Nissan. And the battery was in fine shape. And it had gas in it.

Then? To finish it all off I am getting my belated Valentine's dinner cooked and cleaned up for me. I just get to sit here on the couch and someone else is going to cook the food and then clean up the mess. What will that feel like? It will feel like eating a slice of ripe peach dipped in whipped cream on a sunny Caribbean beach with muscled men fanning me while they refill my girly drink. That's how good it will feel.

The point of this is to say that I didn't crave sugary junk food one time this entire day.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Sugar Free Day 5

The word of the day is persevere. This is the kind of day (or, rather, pair of days) where I would eat an entire dark chocolate bar to take my mind off what's going on in front of my ears. Maybe 2 bars. You see, Miles is getting a tooth up top and unlike the last time he got a tooth, he is a screaming mess of a human being in pain.

This means that he is up every 3 hours for at least 2 hours at night, screaming bloody murder, and spends his days cranky and also crying. Today, as MW and I drove back from a run to Babies R Us, he screamed and screamed for 45 minutes as I sat with my foot on the clutch waiting for the light to turn green on 130. I wanted dark chocolate and a cupcake like I have never wanted those things before. The car reverberated with his shrill, breath-holding screams and I couldn't help but scream right back at him in frustration. I almost threw on the e-brake to run into CVS on the corner. Lord knows, only one car was getting to move each green light and I would have had time.

But I didn't. I clenched my jaw and dealt with it. And when I got home, I didn't have time to scrounge for candy because I had to feed that baby and then feed myself and by then, it was time to put Miles to bed. Which makes me really, really want something sugary. I feel like I "earned" it. During the first 100 or so days of my son's life, when every day was spent like this one, I treated myself to sweets whenever I felt proud for making it through an hour or a minute or a 15-second stretch without spontaneously combusting.

Well, by God, I made it through nearly 24 straight hours of crying and fussing, and I want some fucking fudge. But I don't have it in the house and I don't have the energy to procure some. So instead I am drinking a beer and breathing deeply, slowly, purposefully. And really? It's just not the same. I feel an almost crippling craving for something sugary.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Sugar Free Day 4

Corey made himself toast for breakfast this morning. The smell of it was terrible for me to resist as I sat on the floor feeding Miles mushed up bananas and oatmeal. Luckily, it took me so long to coax this meal into my son that the smell of toast had dissipated and I could eat a bowl of bran/flax flakes with no lingering cravings.

I find that temptations are everywhere for me this week because I am on deadline. I have always felt stressed by deadlines, but was always the sort of person who turned things in a week AHEAD of deadlines. Now, with limited and specific hours dedicated to work, I find I need every instant of the time allotted to complete an assignment. And so my mind will not settle.

In the evenings, when I would like to be writing, Miles is very clingy and I have to carry him around the house. As I do this, I think how wonderful it would be to hike to the new bakery and eat biscotti. If I can't be writing, I reason, I should be eating a delicious treat!

My hands just can't be still when I have unfinished business, so if I'm not shaking a molecule rattle, I am folding laundry or washing dishes or frantically picking cradle cap, all the while wishing I were eating M&M's one at a time.

I remember when I was working my loathsome corporate job. I found the work so boring and soul-sucking that I ate almost constantly throughout the day. In contrast, when I am deep in the vortex of a piece of writing, it takes the neighborhood church bells screaming their 6pm hymns to remind me that I haven't had a scrap of food in many, many hours.

I am realizing more and more how much of my eating comes from my nervous, fidgety hands needing something to do. If I am not fully present in what I'm doing, I eat. Being snowbound and learning to adapt to life as a stay-at-home mom will certainly free up my hands! This is something I must work on. Wouldn't it be nice, after I am done with this experiment, to eat a cupcake and absolutely savor every morsel of its deliciousness rather than scarf it down because I have nothing better to do?

What started as something sort of competitive (let's see if I can go without sugar just to say I can do it!) has really made me take stock of my lifestyle. I am coming up with all sorts of mini-goals: control my quantities of all foods, drink more water, eat mindfully, and now I am thinking it's probably good to really engage with Miles and expose him to the world. He has a waterproof snow suit, after all. Why shouldn't I just put Lansinoh on his cheeks and take him outside for long walks instead of watching him roll back and forth on the carpet as I yearn for banana bread?

I keep telling myself that, come summer, I'll definitely do more activities with him, be outside, go places. If I keep that up, I'll never run out of reasons to postpone leaving the cocoon. Really, my mindless shoveling of food is just a symptom that something else is off kilter. Next up for me: slip into the vortex of ACTIVE motherhood the way I used to disappear into my work. Time to see if my snowpants still fit!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Sugar Free Day 3 (1 again?)

Something terrible happened yesterday: I cheated and ate sugar by accident. I wasn't even thinking and popped a whole wheat pita in the toaster, ate the whole thing, then read the bag. Ingredient number 3 on my frou-frou whole wheat pita? Sugar. I guess this means I have to start over?

The slip up got me thinking again about mindfulness and eating. I know that the main "meals" I eat each day are very healthful and balanced, because I cook them all myself from 90% "whole" foods (i.e. nothing packaged, nothing my grandmother wouldn't recognize as a food, etc.). But I eat a lot of snacks in between those healthy meals. A lot of snacks. Miles is old enough now that I don't get to use "I just had a baby!" as an excuse to shovel in the food. He is starting solids, too, so I am not nursing as much and need to cut back.

Despite my best intentions, I'm not getting in a lot of working out, either, so my caloric needs are just not as high right now. And still I snack. I snack and I snack and I snack. The cheat-a pita wasn't even actually breakfast. It was second-breakfast (I think of meals like hobbits do).

So today, I am looking not only at the contents of my foods, but at my quantities. I don't want to spend my life worrying whether the whole wheat pita I toasted contains refined sugar (beyond the confines of this 2 week experiment, obviously). But I do want to know that I am eating the whole wheat pita because I am actually hungry and not because I smelled toast and felt like I should eat some.

I don't have a whole lot to focus on right now, being snow-bound with a baby and all. Thus, I spend a LOT of time thinking about what I put into my body and even more time thinking about what I would like to put in there. Today was a rough one for cravings. I want a cupcake or a chocolate bar something fierce! I hope that pita didn't throw me into a terrible downward spiral and that I can overcome these urges with a nice, juicy pear.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Sugar Free Day 2

I have been thinking about food a lot lately. Corey and I finally got to watch Food, Inc. this weekend and I am fixated on the one couple who feeds their family entirely from dollar menus at fast food restaurants. They say in the film they have only $1 to spend and they can get a meal at McDonald's for this but not at the supermarket. In the film, the family spends $8 to feed the four of them dinner.

Later, they go to a grocery store and hold up a head of broccoli sadly, lamenting that it costs more than one dollar, that it costs more than a burger...and broccoli alone does not dinner make. I thought and thought about their situation. If they are spending $8 per meal per day, that gives them $168 per week to spend on food. When you think of it that way, they are spending $38 MORE on food than Corey and I spend each week. And we buy expensive food!

There were long stretches in college where I existed on dried beans, rice, and other cheaply made soups. I made huge batches of them on Sundays while my body recovered from rugby and ate them again and again all week long. Yeah, it might cost more than a dollar for a bag of beans or for a handful of carrots, but those food items last more than one meal! I am certain I was eating for $30 a week for just me.

But that brings me to the other troubling leg of that family's problem: they have no time to plan out a week of meals, drive through the sprawl to the closest grocery store (in their area of Texas, there are only fast food restaurants and no close stores that sell fresh produce), and later prepare the meals. The family works, I recall, several jobs to make ends meet and I can say from experience that making healthful meals on a budget is a time consuming endeavor. While it might be possible to stretch dollars more efficiently, there is not a way to add more hours to a day.

Surely there is a solution for this family. Have they seen the dried legumes in the bulk food aisle? Perhaps the elder daughter can chop carrots after school for soup or they can use their time in the car to plan out meals instead of waiting in line at the drive thru? Can someone buy them a crock pot?

I can only imagine that it's hard to concentrate on such things when you are scrambling to live check to check, exhausted from working multiple jobs at a low wage, and stressed that people keep telling you your "choices" are making your kids sick.

As I begin my refined sugar fast, relying instead on expensive, protein-rich snack food I don't technically "need" to eat, I try to be mindful of how very fortunate I am. I am lucky to have both the means and the time to give up sugar and concentrate on the food that fuels my family. With that in mind, it's easier to walk past the candy aisle when I trek to Rite Aid.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Sugar Free Day 1

Totally not bad. I got a little hankering for something sweet after dinner, which is totally normal, so I had berries with agave nectar, plain yogurt, and a little pumpkin flax granola. Rather than eat a huge bag of candy for daytime snacks, I ate things like an apple or some chips with hummus. All in all, I think my first sugar-free day was a little too easy. Which tells me the worst is still to come!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A Bold and Terrifying Endeavor

Starting tonight, after I finish the last of my Sweetheart Box from Dozen Cupcakes, I am going to begin a truly scary experiment. I want to see if I can make it one week, perhaps even two, without consuming refined sugar.

I read once that our sugar addictions are far more powerful than even a heroin addiction, that my body might completely revolt if I try this. I did a preparatory sweep of the house (which means I consumed all the candy) and read all the ingredients on our non-candy things. I was shocked to discover how much refined sugar we have, and we make great efforts to eat healthfully. Heck, our hippie corn chips have refined cane juice in them! Even Corey's beloved Peanut Butter & Co products have been "newly improved" to include cane sugar--the ingredients used to be just peanuts and salt. Luckily I stopped using "regular" toothpaste, or I'd have to cut that out, too, what with the saccharine and all.

In order to make sure I survive, I wanted to ensure I could still eat desserts while I detox. Fruit and yogurt parfait, here I come. Honey and agave nectar are totally cool with me and I made a concession for cane syrup only so that I could eat the wheat crackers I bought to accompany my snack foods (cheese and hummus). But no ketchup. And no dark chocolate. That's what's killing me.

I can forgo all other things without difficulty. But dark chocolate? What will a day be like without eating a square of that?? I shudder to think, but will soon be able to report.

Why am I doing this? I was inspired by the Rookie Moms, who did something similar a few weeks ago. And, after a few weeks confined to my house eating junk food, I feel the need to cleanse my insides. I feel sluggish and gross and I know that my days spent staring angrily at the snow, consuming muffins and candy, are largely to blame.

So, for the next fortnight, I attempt to go where I have never gone, and that is a place without artificial sweetener, without refined sugar. Hopefully I will emerge refreshed and with sparkling teeth!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Tempting Fate

Miles sleeps now. Each night, we start putting him to bed as soon as Jeopardy is over. We carry him upstairs and put him in pjs with soft lights on. We put him in his night diaper and sleep sack. Sometimes, he gets totally ready to go at the sight of the sleep sack. Other nights, the three of us just hang out on the floor in our bedroom and maybe read books or just let Miles touch our faces.

Then, on with the static, off with the lights, and within 15 minutes he is generally sound asleep.

He wakes up once at night to nurse (which, according to numerous articles I've read, is totally normal for breastfed babies) and then sleeps til morning--generally 6:30 or 7:00.

I cannot quite explain how much of a difference this has made in my life. I feel more like my self, more ready to face the world. Being well-rested totally changes my outlook, my ability to parent, my mood...everything. I find I can set goals again, and work to achieve them. I look forward to every moment chasing him around as Miles rolls from one room to another, shoving things in his mouth.

There was a time, when I was sleepless, where I regularly spoke with a mental health professional to determine whether I had postpartum depression. She explained the list of symptoms, all of which I was exhibiting, and then showed me the symptoms of someone who was suffering from extreme, debilitating exhaustion. They were identical. She wrote me a prescription for sleep.

Months later, I sometimes dig out that prescription note. I used to stare at it and beg the universe to fill my doctor's orders. Now, I can laugh about it. Seriously! When Miles falls asleep in his carseat or rubs his eyes near bedtime, I can chuckle a bit at how damn ridiculous it was to march him up and down the stairs or stomp around the block to get him to snooze.

Obviously, in writing this and putting it out there for the world to see, I have cursed myself and Miles will cease to sleep. But something tells me, as he yawns and rubs those eyes over on his quilt, that he has started enjoying this whole "resting" thing.

UPDATE: Obviously, Miles woke up 4 times last night because I teased fate. I dangled a big carrot in front of her face and she bit it right off. We think one of three things happened to Mr. Man last night to interrupt his sleep:
1) nightmares--we think this because he went from sound, sound asleep to SCREAMING every hour for the first 3 hours after we put him to bed
2) constipation--I gave him some cheese yesterday. And some oatmeal.
3) earache--he keeps touching his left ear, but has no fever. He is always a fidgety dude, though, and usually pulls hair or does something else repetitive while he nurses. Ear tugging could just be his movement du jour.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


I stopped nursing Miles in public when he took to pulling off my breast and leaving my nipple exposed to the world at large. Plus he makes noises while he eats--Tasmanian devil noises straight from a Warner Bros. cartoon. He is just such a high maintenance nurser, rhythmically kicking his top leg while using his free hand to either smack me in the face or pick seeds out from between my teeth, that I decided to make sure he was well-fed before we left team headquarters.

Also? I am rocking a 34G bra right now. When my boobs get engorged, that bra shrinks and clings to my chest like hole covers on a bowling ball. So there is pretty much no such thing as modesty. The Motherwear shirts I bought with their advertised panels and delicate, lacy shelving for "discreet" or "versatile" nursing were not meant for what I've crammed into them.

But when Miles and I flew to California, I had no choice but to nurse him in front of others. I initially tried to rig up some privacy with clips and a blanket, but he kicked and yanked that whole thing down before pulling off and sending a stream of spurting milk into the seat-back table (which was in the full upright, and locked position). I got really frustrated, to say the least. It made me even more determined to nurse him in private.

One day on our trip, we went to the beach. I love the beach. I find the mass expanse of the ocean to be really soothing and humbling. Miles and Patsy and I walked around in the sand, jumping out of the icy tide, watching the surfers, and Miles needed to eat. I was inspired to just stretch out on a driftwood log and feed him right out in the open. No blankets, no hunching, no looking both ways to check for passersby. I just hoisted my udder out into the salty air and let Miles go to town. It was great!

He ate like a gourmand and I forgot to feel tense, forgot to look all around to see who might be staring. Miles was true to form, digging in my nose and kicking me in the crotch while he made loud oinking sounds and ate. I kept thinking, "It's like he doesn't see anything embarrassing about this at all!"

And of course he doesn't! He is just eating. I sometimes make moany sounds when I eat something delicious, and I sure do fidget and kick my legs when my feet don't reach the ground. Why shouldn't my baby do the same thing? The whole experience really recharged my batteries. I didn't even try rigging up machinery to fake privacy on the rest of our trip, not even on the flight home and not even in the holding tank waiting for my rescue in Cleveland.

When Miles was hungry, I fed him, no matter where we were. And you know what? He wasn't as kicky or flaily when there weren't curtains or blankets or "hoods" dimming the lights on his feeding operation. When I wasn't super tense, he relaxed, too. My whole body just surrendered to the process. I haven't had the opportunity to leave my house since we returned, what with snowmageddon and all, but when I do, I will feel free to exercise my right to publicly nurse my baby. I reclaim the ability to not feel embarrassed by that act.

People will probably stare a little bit--I would stare, too, if I saw a boob that enormous--but since when (before Miles) have I cared about that? This is going to be a liberating revelation. I can just tell.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010


Often, the highlight of any adventure (for me) is the food I consume. My trip to the West Coast in February was no exception, although it was seemingly commonplace, small things that delighted both me and my wee bairn.

For starters, people grow citrus in their yards there. In. Their. Yards. I consumed several of the most delicious oranges the universe ever provided, grown by a neighbor. While we were out for a stroll one day, another neighbor told me to stop taking pictures of her grapefruit and just eat one already. Patsy's very own yard sported the buds of blooming lemons. Actual lemons!

And did you know kiwi was a citrus fruit? I learned this in California when I fed ten thousand of them to Miles, who gobbled them down truffle pig-style.

While my Pittsburgh brethren are forced to eat wilty grocery store basil, Patsy and I bought some farm fresh and weaved it into the most delicious local eggs and cheese for a breakfast I still remember exploding in my mouth. This was the day I decided I could start feeding Miles some of the foods I eat. He just sat on my lap and ate omelet with me, and we loved it equally.

I think the other things I ate (cheese, salad, pizza, eggplant sandwiches) all just tasted so wonderful because all the ingredients were so fresh! An unexpected highlight of my week was the opportunity to eat things just pulled from the earth. Oh, how I long for August...

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Rescue Mission

When Miles and I landed in Chicago for our connecting flight home yesterday, I turned on my phone to discover a text from Corey: Your flight has been canceled. In a previous life, this is when I would have begun to panic and melted into a pile of crushed cheerios beneath my seat. But I had just flown 4 hours with a baby who napped the whole time. What could possibly bring me down?

I talked to the ticket agent to weigh my options. Here is what the airline offered as a solution: We could send you on the next flight back to Oakland!

Discouraged, I opted out and found a rocking chair (had to keep that baby asleep) and called my family to think of a real solution. There were a couple of thorns in the way of a safe return home, not the least of which was that I was wearing a tank top and my jacket was tucked neatly in my luggage, which I was not allowed to access until it arrived in Pittsburgh. Further, since we had rented a car seat, I had no means of leaving the airport except via rail or bus. Or airplane.

Our eventual solution was to hop on the next flight to Cleveland, where Corey would meet me and bring us home. This ended up being the best idea because I learned Pittsburgh's airport would remain closed for several more days. I started getting a real picture of how bad things were back home when Responsible Dave texted that he'd been skiing on 5th Avenue.

As Miles and I hid, locked in the family restroom and lounging on the floor I "disinfected" with a paper towel and hand sanitizer, I got increasingly worrisome messages from home. Our street was impassable, packed with 2 feet of snow. Dave had to drive his Subaru as close as he could get and Corey hiked a jacket and car seat into it before they could head out to get us.

My flight to Cleveland was completely filled with persons in my exact same boat and I spent a lot of hours in a sort of holding tank at the Cleveland airport waiting for my heroes. As each person there was slowly gathered by a family member or else heard news that help would not be able to arrive that night, I grew more and more thankful to have such an amazing husband and friend.

We slowly crunched our way home over snow-packed roads while Corey applauded the wonders of all-wheel drive. Long after midnight, we got to the end of the passable roads and Corey scooped Miles into his jacket, zipped him in tight, and headed toward our house.

At the end of the ordeal, I am left with nothing but gratitude. I feel so fortunate that Miles handled the extended air travel with ease, that I have such good friends who jumped to help us, that Corey didn't even think twice about spending 6 hours on a rescue mission to reunite with his baby. Now, who wants to help us recover my belongings from the cargo hold?

Thursday, February 04, 2010

In Which Miles Goes Flying

My two overarching fears in traveling with Miles were screamsicle relapse and explosive poop mid-air. I did a lot to alleviate my other anxieties (rented a carseat, spent the weekend cobbling together replacement straps for the Ergo when someone in my family lost the chest strap hoisting MW up the stairs in the Cathedral of Learning, etc.), but knew I couldn't control the things that came out of my son. As it turns out, these things were the least of my worries! What I should have been leery of was "free" parenting advice! (And also morons)

My first bit of free parenting advice happened when we went through security. I had MW in the carrier, declared his liquid medication, got through the metal detector with ease. When it came time to reinsert him in the carrier and gather up all my belongings (they even made me take off Miles' shoes!!!), I suddenly lost my ability to function. I just didn't have enough arms to buckle the baby in the carrier and grab things off that damn conveyor fast enough.

I got my first parenting tip of the day from a business traveler who shoved me with her hands: "Move faster! You're holding up the line."

I felt a fiery, raging beast well up inside me. The only other time I felt such anger was when an opposing rugger dangerously cheated in a scrum once and I called her an Effing C right there in the middle of the field. This time, I screamed at the top of my voice, "STOP SHOVING ME! DO NOT SHOVE ME!" It was my first use of a Mom Voice and I found it to be effective in getting people away from me. I earned a huge bubble of space, concerned looks from the TSA people (though no assistance from these same persons), and finally got everything strapped back on.

We just went on our merry way, boarded the plane, and happily discovered it to be nearly empty! Hurrah! A whole row of seats to ourselves! Until a moron got on the plane.

I was sitting by the window and had started nursing Miles in anticipation of takeoff. The moron sat in my row--not in the aisle seat, but right there in the middle. Pressed up against my person. In a nearly empty airplane. It was so unbelievably strange. After takeoff, she looked around and asked me, "Isn't this B2?"

I told her I had no idea what she was talking about. She showed me her boarding pass stub and said, "My seat. Aren't I in B2?"

Let me pause to mention that MW and I flew Southwest. Every person in the universe knows that Southwest doesn't have assigned seats. And if you don't know that, by the time you get on the airplane you should because they say it over and over and over again: There are no assigned seats on our planes! They are all open. Open seating!

I reiterated this to the moron, who just nodded. AND THEN DID NOT MOVE. She sat there, pressed up against me, the whole 2 hour flight to Chicago. Also? She gave me odd looks when MW kicked her as he nursed.

Apart from this moron, the flight was amazing because not only did my baby not cry, he giggled and laughed the whole time. What a flirty, happy kid! I entered the long leg of the trip feeling strongly positive.

We had another nearly empty flight, but this time a little grandma-looking woman had the aisle seat while we took the window. At first, I felt like this grandma was a great seatmate, but each moment I spend thinking about the flight brings new little timebomb memories of truly shocking things that she said during transit. She had all kinds of advice to give out, such as:

"You need to get him on a schedule so he doesn't eat so frequently."

"He only sleeps a few minutes at a time!! He shouldn't have woken up from his nap yet. You need to get him sleeping longer!" (My immediate reaction to this statement was the thought, "Oh! Of course! That's what has been wrong with my life. We just all need to sleep for longer increments. I should have thought of that myself but didn't.")

"I didn't know his knees were so fat until you took his pants off." (This is not really advice, but is also really not nice)

"Just change his diaper right here on the seat. Nobody cares." (This was only bad advice because he had pooped a mighty poop and it sort of got all over the seat. Note to future travelers: your airplane seat might have baby poop remnants on it and you should wipe it off before you sit)

And, my favorite, "You change his diaper too often. He sure does pee a lot."

Now, this woman did hold Miles so I could eat my sandwich, so the flight was not a total bust. Also, the babe was a dreamboat the whole time, so I chalk it up as a victory.

As I mentally prepare for my flight home I realize I am an experienced enough mother to handle a baby on an airplane. I won't tempt fate and predict that he'll repeat his awesome travel debut, but even if he screams I feel like I'll just handle the way I always handle it if he screams. What I doubt is my ability to avoid arrest when reacting to people handing out great tips about baby-raising.

A very wise mother once told me that I am not bitchy enough when it comes to Miles and people touching him or otherwise affronting his aura. I suspect that is rapidly changing. Go ahead and give me a little shove or some judgment in the airport on Saturday and try out my new armor!