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!