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November 2007

NaBloPoMo kicked my butt

We have friends coming over in half an hour to watch 'Hairspray'. Which I think is my new favorite movie. Which means 'Clueless' is now my second favorite movie and people, I did not ever think there would be a movie to knock 'Clueless' off my movie pedestal. I mean:

"So okay, I don't want to be a traitor to my generation and all but I don't get how guys dress today. I mean, come on, it looks like they just fell out of bed and put on some baggy pants and take their greasy hair - ew - and cover it up with a backwards cap and like, we're expected to swoon? I don't think so."

I LOVE THAT MOVIE.

But now I have 'Hairspray'. Which is, like, the cinematic equivalent of chocolate sprinkles on hot fudge sundae. INSTANT HAPPINESS.

I said, "Phillip, you have to watch Hairspray because THEY want to watch Hairspray. Nyah nyah nyah!"

Phillip: "Super."

Maggie: "I'll just tell them to pick it up on their way here."

Phillip: "That's okay. I'll go get it."

Maggie: "But you have to put the baby down."

Phillip: "Blockbuster's only down the street."

Maggie: "But they can just get it on their way."

Phillip: "I don't mind."

Maggie: "DUDE. You can let them get the movie and we can focus on getting the baby to SLEEP. PRIORITIES, PHILLIP!"

Phillip: *stony stony glare*

Maggie: "WHAT."

Phillip: "I can pick up 'Hairspray' from DOWNSTAIRS."

Maggie: "Huh?"

Phillip: "MERRY CHRISTMAS."


This is the last one, so help me God

Last day, last post on this topic. EVER. Gah.

So! After four (five for Phillip!) blissful years in the NDCF, we decided to be Catholic. Or, to put it another way, commit to the Catholic church and not a non-denominational church or the Presbyterian church popular with young adults or the unwashed and dreadlocked sect of Lyndon LaRouche supporters who always had tables set up on campus- and don't act like they weren't trying to convert you to a religion.

And the reason for sticking with good ole Catholicism was that we were not at all interested in finding out the depth of my mother's wrath. The end!

(Calm down, mom!)

(I kid! I kid!)

PERHAPS there was more to it.

Every good Catholic will tell you that you don't go to church to hear a good sermon or to be moved by the music or because that's where all your friends are. You go because you're supposed to go. Bonus points for a priest who's a gifted speaker or an especially moving liturgy, but even if the priest is a dud and the music is sung by a woman who stands in for the fat lady at the opera (WHAT? You can't seriously be disappointed by a lack of culture from a Beauty and the Geek devotee), you're obligated to go. Here's a nice explanation of this idea, plus the reason you're supposed to go to Mass every Sunday and not, say, sleep off your gin & tonic hangover.

Because our mamas raised us right, Phillip and I almost always went to church on Sundays as soon as we were good enough friends to go together. We didn't have a Church, though. Our friends had Churches, but we had the Newman Center, which neither of us really liked, due to the fact that it was solely populated with earnest and cloying college students. And, quite honestly, we got enough of that in the NDCF.

A friend of a friend suggested St. Urban Wealthy Neighborhood. She didn't just recommend it, she practically proclaimed it the most wonderful church she'd ever visited. Since this friend was a lesbian and also not Catholic, her glowing review made a big impact on me. If SHE liked it, I would certainly like it and we found ourselves in a St. UWN pew the very next Sunday.

Our friend was right. It WAS an amazing church, mostly to do with the pastor and his shiny happy charisma. He gave the same homily every week- a million variations on loving your neighbor- but no one cared because 1) we probably needed to hear a million variations on the topic and 2) HE WAS AWESOME. So awesome that when his priest posse left our parish and sent him to Africa to train seminarians, church attendance dropped overnight. (Also, Phillip's heart broke into a million tiny pieces that we are STILL picking up. GET OVER IT ALREADY.)

But! We were good Catholics! Our mamas raised us right! We knew we still had to go to church, even if our new priest was sorely lacking in the personality department. (I've since decided that the "new" priest is an acquired taste. A few years later, after we got to know him, we think he's the bees' knees.)

We went, but church was sad for a long time. People were disappearing left and right. Phillip and I had tried to get involved in the young adult group the year before and found it cliquish and a singles crowd, and with only the stalwart churchgoers sticking around, it was going to be impossible to break into a church-related group. We realized we'd only gone to hear the old priest speak. Was there anything left for us at St. UWN? Were we going to leave too? As NDCF students we were used to being involved. We WANTED to be involved. Not only was our church going through some growing pains that made it difficult to figure out where to be, we questioned whether any Catholic church would offer us the kind of community we longed for post-college.

And this is when we thought long and hard about being Catholic. This was the time when the pull of the people who gently suggested we try other churches was the strongest. We talked a ton about what we missed from our NDCF experience and how we'd find those things in a non-denominational church. We even talked about which one we'd attend. We talked about all these things while we slowly visited what felt like every Catholic church in the greater Seattle area. We weren't quite ready to give up being Catholic and we both hoped that one of these other churches would "feel right".

Of course, none of them did, and it was incredibly discouraging. We ended up back at St. UWN simply because the faces were the most familiar. And we finally decided that if it was Being Involved and Community that we were looking for, we would simply have to do it ourselves. No one was going to invite us or offer it to us or welcome us- at least, that hadn't been our experience before. So began about four years of slowly figuring out where we belonged. The operative word is SLOW, here. Slow and hard and confusing and, ultimately, incredibly wonderfully worth it. SO worth it.

There wasn't a moment when we said, "All right, enough. We are Catholic so let's BE CATHOLIC." It was more like we couldn't quite accept not being Catholic. It never felt right. I'm sure a lot of people would attribute that to what we're used to. Of course a new church wouldn't feel right when you've been going to Mass every Sunday of your life. But I will just say that I've made almost all of my major life decisions based on how I felt about them. I chose my university because all my other options felt wrong. Opting out of the NDCF felt wrong. Certain ladder-climbing job opportunities felt wrong. When I was praying my head off asking God to make my crush on Phillip go away, because he OBVIOUSLY DIDN'T KNOW I EXISTED, I couldn't shake the feeling that that was a wrong prayer.

Going to a non-denominational church felt wrong. Going to Mass, even though we didn't really like our church and we didn't always feel Catholic, felt right. So that's what we did.

This is a personal rather than a general thing. Do I feel that it is wrong for YOU to go a non-denominational church? Certainly not. I don't really have ANY feelings about you (other than awe at your drop dead gorgeousness and brilliant smarts, of course.)

I struggle a lot with reconciling the things I love and miss from my non-denominational experience with my commitment to the Catholic church. There isn't a place, as far as I know, for a lot of the things I'd like to do and be. On the other hand, I am almost convinced that God wants Phillip and I to bring the gifts we received in a non-denominational setting to our Catholic community. How we do that, I have no idea. I have to think God has a good reason for setting us up with this strong Protestant-ish background- the place where we met, became friends, started dating, met all our best friends- and also made the Catholic church the "right" place for us to be afterwards.

 

Catholics say you don't go to church to "get something out of it". But I know you can. What I want- SO MUCH DO I WANT THIS- is to feel the way Jen feels at Mass. Sometimes I do. On occasion. Rarely. I don't think this means I shouldn't be Catholic. I think it means I have a lot to learn and experience.

Before I go, I'll tell you a few things I do love about the church, lest this sound like I'm being forced to Mass against my will. (No one forces me to get out of bed anymore, or bribe me with chocolate chips to keep quiet. OH YES.)

I have been to church all over Europe and in China (at a state-run cathedral) and even though I did not speak any of the languages, I knew exactly what was going on and what I should be saying.

That a million horrible things have happened to, and been caused by, the church, yet she still stands.

I once had a priest tell me that all the "hard" things about being Catholic are ideals. IDEALLY we would all be able to follow these rules, but the church knows we are human and there is forgiveness. I like knowing that the church has ideals. SOMETHING needs to have ideals, even if we can't possibly live up to all of them.

Apparitions and holy sites and the saints and honoring Mary- I LOVE this stuff. It's like church sanctioned Unsolved Mysteries.

Humanae Vitae. If there is one area where my Catholic faith has shot upwards and outwards and changed my life, it's here. Accepting this makes so many other things I've wondered about make sense.


Anyway. Feelings. Not really something to base your decisions on, eh? Nowhere in this process did I study theology or scripture or talk to Learned Men or anything like that. I prayed a lot, but other than that I trusted how I felt about things. As did Phillip. Anti-climactic? Not terribly rational or reasonable? I know. I'm sorry. The end. We shall not speak of this for a very long time. If ever. HOW I wish I'd picked "Television" as my NaBloPoMo theme!


History of an addiction

If you can believe it, there was no internet when I was in school.

(I'm talking elementary school here, people. Not, like, college school. I am not that old.)

My dad was somewhat of a geek for his time and one year my mom bought him his very own personal computer for Christmas. It was an Apple something. I still remember the beeping sounds it made while it was booting up and what the keyboard sounded like. If we were good, we got to play Educational Games on the Apple Something. And if you are the child of elementary school teachers, there is no end to the Educational Game Options. My favorite, if I remember correctly, had to do with spelling. My passions, they began early.

My dad moved up to an early Macintosh and then one year we got a PC. The PC was our favorite because the screen was in color (COLOR!) and we could play a lot more games. There were many many fights over who was going to get to play Duke Nukem and who was going to get to play Civilization.

In high school I learned things like Pagemaker and random paint shop programs. And my junior or senior year of high school some of us discovered pre-MSN Hotmail and Yahoo and got ourselves some email addresses. Some of us also used to toy around with an online chat site in class which, now that I think about it, was WAY CREEPY. But at the time it was the height of cool.

My parents finally got dial up when I went to college. Do you know how much it costs to call Italy from your dorm room? Thank God for email.

I didn't have a computer the first couple years I was in college. There were plenty of libraries with plenty of computers and quite honestly, I was a much more productive essay writer when I was stuck until I finished in a library. You could also print things for free on recycled paper, which is how I have a giant binder full of Indigo Girls guitar tabs. I hear you can't do that anymore.

Certain people, by which I mean everyone, were shocked- SHOCKED- at my computer-less state. Didn't my parents care? Didn't I want to graduate? Didn't I want to join the 21st century?

I was proud of my simple life. No computer for me! Only the nerds and Asian-American students with demanding parents had computers in their dorm rooms.

I got one, eventually. My uncle was the type of person who bought electronic equipment willy nilly and was constantly gifting his used items to one of us. An old-ish computer found its way to me and I didn't turn it down. I discovered the happiness that is walking away in the middle of your essay to go watch TV in the lounge with your friends.

Then I got the kind of job where you do nothing. You know this kind of job. Technically it is an office job. Technically you are the assistant to an assistant and you mail things and type things and copy things and fetch things. But a lot of times the assistant is behind or gone or too busy to give you something to do, so you end up sitting at your desk twiddling your thumbs. And while you try to spin it as being paid to do what you would be doing at home, you are actually bored out of your mind.

Enter email.

I worked for the university so I had access to the university email system. And oh, how I emailed. Some friends, working equally miserable jobs, would email back. And we emailed throughout the entire day, instantly responding to one- and two- and three-line emails. Call it a precursor to instant messaging. Had I not discovered email, that job would have succeeded in sucking out my will to live. But with email! I had a connection to the Outside World.

Suddenly I could not live without email.

Suddenly I had a dozen email addresses, all for different things. I had to have an internet connection wherever I lived. When I got my own apartment it was the first thing I did when I woke up. (Except for the couple of months after Phillip gave me The Sims. Then it was The Sims I was concerned about as soon as I woke up.)

I got another job in which I did nothing. And where my boss was often gone for days at a time, leaving me to hold down the fort. It was then that I discovered blogs. Blogs. Do you know what these are? Technically they are online communities, personal journals, ways for likeminded people to connect and share ideas and support each other. But I will tell you what they really are: Ways To Kill Time At Work. (I won't tell your boss if you won't tell mine.)

I met (well, it felt like meeting them) all the Internet Rock Stars. I obsessively followed their every move. I clicked on their links. I realized you didn't have to be an Internet Rock Star to have a blog. You didn't even have to know how to write! (Although this helps.) I became a devotee of political blogs, celebrity blogs, infertility blogs, writing blogs. I started to talk about them with my friends and I realized another key point: knowing about blogs did not necessarily make you cool. An Internet Rock Star was a rock star only in her own country. I stopped talking about my beloved blogs, mostly, but I decided to start my own. I mean, if they could do it I could do it. Right?

I picked a good excuse- a three-week trip to China- and fired up my brand new Typepad site. It had a dumb name and an ugly theme and all of one reader (hi Mom!) but I loved my new website. I spent hours making mastheads in Photoshop. (Hours because I do not know how to use Photoshop. And I never will. My brain cannot handle the complexities and intricacies of fricking Photoshop.) One day I figured out how to tweak my template. I looked up "horizontal navigation bar". I found out was CSS stood for.

And I signed up for a beginning HTML class. Which I loved. It's very powerful, the access to self-publishing tools. I can write whatever I want and post it for the world to see and I can make it look exactly how I want. Well, I could if I were good at it. Which I'm not. (Someone tell the woman who wants me to build her website next month? Please? I'm skeered.)

I "met" some bloggers who started linking to me. I got pregnant and people were very interested in the details. Suddenly someone other than my mother was reading my website. I wasn't sure how I felt about this. On one hand, you are dying to see your name in lights with the other Internet Rock Stars. On the other, WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE? And oh dear God I better comb through my archives.

One day you realize you've turned into a bona fide mommyblog. You try to write a lot of television posts to make it up to your readers who have no interest in the mommy stuff.

You try to write better. Or at least not be so silly. (Then you decide you prefer silly.) You spend a long time responding to comments. You try to be a better commenter on other people's blogs, even if you don't really like them, because you're flattered that they commented on yours. You want your readers to know you like having them around. You start a Google Reader or Bloglines account and spend your valuable shower time reading other blogs. You excitedly tell your husband about new blogger babies, sad blogger news, funny posts, posts that made you think. You start to think of blogging and its related activities as your Job.

You find that you have spent all of naptime reading blogs and writing email.

You are disturbed to realize that is exactly how you want to spend naptime.

You are still in your pajama at one in the afternoon.

WHO IS GOING TO ORGANIZE THE INTERVENTION?


All I want for Christmas is you. And the Philosophy skin care line.

I spent hours shopping online yesterday. HOURS. Oh, every ten minutes I was wiping up strings of snot, but then it was right back to the computer. (Don't worry. Phillip took the day off so Jackson wasn't having to eat paste for breakfast or conking his head on the floor because his mother was too distracted to catch him.)

See, due to the fact that we lost one entire income this year AND because we chose to spend Jackson's college fund on a Big Ass Television, we have exactly $3.61 to spend on Christmas presents this year. That means I must choose very wisely. It also means I should stay far away from the malls as malls mysteriously remove my common sense. Sort of like the Haitian who takes your memory. (Did you guys see Heroes last night? It's a Claire and Veronica SMACKDOWN!)

There's so much cool stuff online anyway. I had vague ideas for a couple of presents so I started looking at Etsy and online children's stores and I fell very much in love with a sushi set made out of felt. But the price was about 40 times what I could spend on my nephew, so I started shopping around for cheaper sushi sets. By the time I gave up (you get what you pay for when it comes to felt food) it was next week.

I do this every year. I intend to scale back. Buy cute simple presents. Not go all out. Not agonize over every single stupid gift. Is it something they need? Want? Would never buy for themselves? Is it tied somehow to a personality? A thing? An event? An inside joke? I'm the kind of person who despises registries and wishlists because every fiber of my being wants you to know that my gift is meaningful. I want it to scream I PUT THOUGHT INTO THIS! NOW YOU BETTER BE MY BEST FRIEND!

Neurotic much?

Even though I know there's a ton of fun stuff online, it's often hard to find it. I relied on a bunch of gift guides to at least steer me to some good stores. I used to keep track of stores I liked in delicious, but now I can't remember where the dots go in delicious. I should figure that out. My favorite gift guide was this one (and I SWEAR, I had never heard of mighty girl when I was dreaming up names for my website. HONEST. You can be sure, if I were going to rip off someone's URL I would not have included my own stupid name.) I also liked the Cool Mom Picks gift guide and pretty much everything posted on Oh My That's Awesome! (Did you know about this store? Attention people who want to give me presents- and who wouldn't? I will drool over anything that comes from this store, especially this. See how I like to make your lives easier?)

I also spent a long time tooling around Etsy, although Etsy is totally overwhelming if you don't know what you're looking for. There are thousands of pages of bags, for example. And I shouldn't have been looking at bags because I'm pretty sure the only person I know who wants a handmade bag purchased from the internet is me. (Again with the easy!) And I spent entirely too much time fawning over felt hair clips and baby blankets and bibs backed with velvet. I had $3.61! Total! And, like, two babies on my list! Who are boys!

And even though I waste too much time searching for the best shipping rate and agonizing over if I should buy BPA-free bottles with my Amazon gift certificate or use it for Christmas presents, I still think it's better than going to the mall. I love going to the mall- the hustle and bustle! Dressed in holiday style!- I shouldn't buy anything there. Just plop me in the middle with a latte and let me people watch.

However. After my hours and hours of searching I ended up buying four things, one of which is a birthday present and two of which go together. So that is two Christmas presents total. Not a great start, if you ask me.


It's not Monday, it's Bonus Thanksgiving Day

LAST night I was up fourteen times to put the baby back to sleep because he is SICK. Snotty, snorty and all around pathetic. It's like having a pug in the house- a pug with facial orifice drainage issues. (Which they all have. Pugs are disgusting. Don't email me.)

A sick baby is awful. Sometime around eleven I peeked in on Phillip rocking Jack back to sleep in his room. Phillip was half asleep and Jack was wide awake, sniffling pitifully. It was so sad, internet, so sad. I snatched him away and lulled him to sleep with my achingly beautiful singing voice. He was up every couple of hours, but it wasn't horrible. There was a reason! Our sick baby! OUR POOR SWEET SICK BABY.

We decided it was an excellent excuse to have Phillip stay home from work. It's a bonus Thanksgiving day! We're doing all the things we should have done over the weekend, like clean the floors and wash the dishes and run forty-seven loads of laundry.

I cleaned the floors with my new O Mop. Which is not perfect, by any means, as it doesn't glide as easily as I'd like. But it kicks Mr. Swiffer's butt from here to China in the Gets Things Actually Clean department. I hate Swiffer. With the Swiffer I felt like I was simply moving the dust from this end of the floor to that end of the floor. I didn't like the cleaning pad, vaguely reminiscent of a disposable diaper. I didn't like the smell of the cleaning solution. The O Mop has solution that smells like cake (really!) and the microfiber cloth goes in the washer. I love this.

I bought a whole bunch of Method products recently. As you know I am a Quasi-Environmentalist. Which is someone who feels sort of guilty about the amount of waste she generates on a daily basis and who feels it is her duty as a Middle Class American With Disposable Income to reduce her footprint on our beloved Gaia Earth. It's not because I think Halliburton is where the Devil goes to work or because I want to save the whales or the rainforests or whatever is cool these days, but wanting to be a good steward. If my circumstances and budget allow a "greener" life, I feel like I should at least TRY non-toxic cleaning products and not using a dozen paper towels to clean up something that could just as easily be mopped up with a sponge or a cloth towel.

So. Some of the Method stuff leaves me unimpressed. I have yet to find anything that lasers the soap grime off my glass shower doors and I am willing to use nuclear power if necessary. The all-purpose cleaner looks super streaky on my countertops. I probably should have bought the cleaner especially formulated for my countertops, but I was trying to buy products that cleaned more than one surface. On the other hand, Phillip and I want to marry the stainless steel wipes. Do you have stainless appliances? Did they give you that "stainless steel cleaning solution" gunk that you are supposed to dribble onto the surface and then throw your entire body weight into wiping it off? WHAT A PAIN. This is why my refrigerator looks like it is owned by a class of starving third graders. But the Method wipes? AMAZING! You do not have to go to the gym before you use one of these wipes. And they are totally streak free. Love them. (Dear Method: What are you going to give me for the free advertising?)

(Also, stainless steel appliances? Why? I have white cupboards and black countertops and stainless appliances- which are de rigeur in new townhouses in this area- and I guess they look okay, but what I wouldn't give for a cherry red refrigerator to match my KitchenAid. I might even like black appliances better. I like modern industrial architecture, but not so much for my appliances. End complaint.)

I guess cloth diapers fit into my quasi-green philosophy, but I chose those mostly for the cost benefits. And I don't know what to say when people accuse me of using more water. It's entirely possible. But I still feel like reusing things is better than using things once and throwing them away. I don't mind washing them. (SO FAR. I reserve the right to throw them out once the poo is overpowering.) I'm trying not to depend on things like baby wipes and the aforementioned paper towels. I don't go to the fancy grocery store where everything is organic and natural and whole and insufferable, but I try to pay attention to where things come from and whether they are, you know, toxic and poisonous.

(One thing I will say for Method shower cleaner: I usually have to go lie down and recover from a blistering headache after I clean the bathroom. There was no headache action after a Method cleaned shower. Again, where are my freebies?)

That said, we switched cars with my inlaws over the weekend (needed to move our Gigando Television to my parents' garage- thanks, Parents!) and I had to run an errand this morning. We haven't switched back yet, so I got to drive the pretty pretty pretty Toyota Highlander with all the trimmings. Mmm. Longtime readers of this website (hello Mom!) know that I once owned a Beloved Automobile, a rusted and ancient Ford Explorer. I loved that car. LOVE. I loved driving up high. I loved having such a big blustery car. I was so sad to give it up, but the gas mileage was killing us. We gave it to my sister, traded in Phillip's car and became a One [Hippie] Car Family. Just like the Seattle politicians keep nagging us to do. (Note to Seattle politicians: Perhaps your constituents will start listening when you FIX THE DAMN TRANSIT SYSTEM. Deep breath.)

The one car thing is working out well for us. It was hard at first and still is on occasion, but for the most part we only need the one car and it runs on French fries* and therefore we get to wear shiny green halos, right?

Except how I covet the Toyota Highlander. And pretty much every other Large Truck-Like Car. As an American, it's my God-given right to want a car that can roll over houses, right? If my father-in-law wanted to give me that car (and it's sort of possible, since the Beloved Automobile was also gifted from my inlaws, AND they wanted to give me their other car, to which I said, "No, I am not a brassy-haired bejewled grandmother") I WOULD TOTALLY TAKE IT. Would not even blink. Would trade in my hippie car without a second thought.

That pretty much destroys any quasi-green cred I may have, right? Should I show you my Born Free baby bottles? I'll get rid of ALL the plastic in my house if I can have the Toyota Highlander!

*The other night a friend was going off on a rant about IDIOTS WHO USE BIODIESEL and how they aren't saving the earth or standing behind their No Blood For Oil! bumper stickers, but DESTROYING THE INDONESIAN RAINFORESTS. I swear, you can't win.


Yes, I know, it's my own fault

The new thing now is waking up at 2 in the morning, finding oneself on all fours and loudly protesting in indignation.

I curse the developmental stages and the near onset of baby mobility in my house.

I've finally admitted to myself that Jackson is not a good sleeper. He is good at many things- eating pears, smiling at his grandparents, biting things, fake coughing, turning your cold sleep-deprived heart into a puddle of good- but not sleeping.

He takes great naps during the day (morning, lunchtime, early evening), but getting him to fall asleep takes anywhere from five minutes to the amount of time he should have been sleeping. There is a varying amount of drama in getting him to go down at night, and he almost always wakes up at 2 for a varying number of hours. I am tired of it. (Ha! Tired!)

And no, all you people who Think You Are Helping. I can't just put him down in his crib and walk away.

For nighttime sleep, Phillip always puts him down and lately has been putting him in the crib Drowsy But Still Awake. You know that term. I believe it is printed in every single infant sleep book on the market. Amazingly, this is starting to work. Sometimes it requires massive amounts of patting and shushing and ignoring your growling stomach while your dinner gets cold, but whenever it happens it is very exciting. We high five each other and for a small moment the entire sleep thing starts looking up.

Then he wakes up at 2 and won't go back to sleep till 4, thereby eliminating any sleep happiness we momentarily experienced.

We have tried all sorts of things. We pack as much food into him as possible. We swaddled, then we unswaddled. We sing. We shush. We pat. He's too heavy to rock the way I used to rock him, so now I hold him somewhat vertically in the rocking chair (which works wonders compared to rocking horizontally in the rocking chair.) We let him fuss for a while. We give him pacifiers. We kept him up. We put him to bed earlier. One night we gave in and started giving him a bottle again. Possibly that is when he started to reject any and all forms of milk during the day. Last night Phillip broke my one rule- Do Not Wake A Sleeping Baby- and woke him up to feed him. We started spending all of our Quality Television Time discussing what in the world we are going to do about the atrocious lack of sleep in this house.

For a long time I have felt that things will eventually work out. One day Jack will sleep through the night. It doesn't really stop me from obsessing over what to do, or obsessing over how what I do is always wrong, but I haven't gone completely crazy with the sleep neuroses. But we are now getting to the point where we have tried everything. To no avail.

Enter crying it out.

I have no issue with crying it out. I do not think it is the Epitome of Evil. Or that it makes you the World's Worst Mother. And I dare say it seems to be effective, since everyone and their drunk uncle has marched up to us and said, "Oh, well, you've GOT to let him cry!"

Tangent: Do people think we have not heard this before? It is like people are offering their one single pearl of wisdom on a shiny silver platter just for you. Here, let me tell YOU this SECRET TRICK.

I'll say we've done a lot of Fussing It Out. He FIO for his nap yesterday and fell asleep on his own as Phillip and I were watching him. It was like witnessing a miracle, people. And at 2 in the morning when he was fussing with his eyes closed and getting up on all fours, I jammed the pacifier in and shushed and patted and again, FIO before our very eyes. So we went back to bed very pleased with ourselves. Maybe we wouldn't have to try CIO after all.

Until 3 in the morning, when howling began.

It doesn't start as howling. It starts as fussing, which is why we resolved to stay in bed. Nothing we'd done to help him get back to sleep had helped before, so why not just let him work it out? He has to learn how to put himself back to sleep, right?

But then it turned into full on crying, the kind I cannot bear. No, I told myself. HE MUST LEARN!

Ten minutes later I was out of bed and rocking that boy to sleep.

This is where the CIO enthusiasts will tell me I just screwed myself over, because I have to be strong! Consistent! Tough! Possibly away from home with a pair of earmuffs for insurance! And you know, I kind of think they are right.

I just can't do it. Not at 3 in the morning when I have nothing else to distract me from the sobbing. Not when I know he's learning how to move his body and can't figure out the next step and really wants to go to sleep and (maybe I am making this part up) really needs his mommy.

And CIO just seems sort of logistically difficult, seeing as how it could well be an hour into the going to sleep process before Jack really starts to cry. I mean, with this kid, you could be doing half an hour of Playing In The Crib and then an hour of FIO and then have it turn into CIO. The tiny bits of CIO we've done make me think all the crying just wigs him out more instead of helping him get to the Happy Sleep Place. And quite honestly, WE WANT TO SLEEP TOO. Sometimes it's a matter of: CIO and sleep tomorrow, or rock for 10 minutes and sleep tonight. We tend to pick sleep that happens sooner.

I KNOW I KNOW. CONSISTENCY! GAH!

Anyway. I feel like I have a ways to go before I reach Complete And Utter Desperation, which is what I think I'll have to reach before I allow more than 15 minutes of CIO in my house. At Thanksgiving a very nice woman was telling me that her pediatrician told her that in the middle of the night she needed to feed and change and pat the baby, but then put her in her crib. And walk away. "And she cried for three hours that first night!" the woman said excitedly. "But the next night she only cried for one hour! And then next night? SHE SLEPT THROUGH!"

I don't doubt it. At all. But I seriously doubt my ability to get through one hour of howling let alone three.

So off I go, forwards and onwards to Complete And Utter Desperation!


Leaving out four bazillion details

Angela got married today. Is anyone as impatient as me to see the pictures? THE INTERNET IS WAITING.

I intended to use the long Thanksgiving weekend to finish up Catholic Month, but I haven't felt like it. We've done a lot of driving and visiting and baking and rearranging and getting up at all hours with the Child Who Will Not Sleep. I rarely wait until 9pm to update my website, but that's been the story all weekend. Suddenly I have more important things to do? Since when?

But I want to post while people are still not really reading the internet yet so...

All the Yuckiness (yes, that is a technical term) going on in the NDCF when I was a freshman and sophomore played a huge, no, HUUUUUGE part in making me Me. (Did that make sense? My grasp of language is not particularly stellar at the moment. There was wine with dinner. Also pie with berries and a cheesecakey topping smothered in chocolate. Mmm.) Huge because I prayed my way through it. That is pretty much how I handle everything big: prayer. And not very refined prayer either, but the kind you do when you are going for a very long walk by yourself and need to Hash Some Things Out. (Wine brings out the Caps Lock Key in me.)

I never moved off campus and into a rat-infested overpriced apartment like every other college student. I stayed in the dorms and stuck with my bible studies and prayed for the stupid fellowship. On one hand it was sort of embarrassing. On the other, I really felt like that was what I was supposed to do. So I did.

My junior year I was gently prodded into starting and leading an all-fellowship prayer group. The NDCF was slowly beginning to wonder if there might be other roles for the students who hopelessly sucked at bible study. HOW NOVEL. So I found myself gathering a group of students into a cramped study closet at seven in the morning to pray. I didn't know what in the world I was doing (and thankfully, neither did anyone else in the group), but it was such an amazing and wonderful experience for me. We did so many different things in that group, experimented with so many different ways to pray. Specifically, we interceded for the fellowship. It was, if I may say so, waaaaay awesome. And I felt like I'd found my Thing. I wasn't terribly knowledgeable or experienced or wise or authoritative, but prayer is what I wanted to do.

Except! I do not know how to pray as a Catholic.

BEFORE YOU COMMENT! Let me explain. A little. Remember there has been some wine drinking. Ummm, okay. So let's just say that the prayer in which I participated in college (and, interestingly so, the prayer I participated in as a high school student hanging out with a bunch of Catholic charismatics) will give the average Catholic the heebie jeebies. Heaps of them. Rummaging through the dresser drawer looking for the holy water kind of heebie jeebies.

Unfortunately for me, I've had a very difficult time finding a way to pray as a Catholic. And I don't mean Catholics and non-denominational church goers can't pray the same way, or that one or the other is the "right" way or anything like that. This is not- NOT NOT NOT- about right or wrong. It's more that the way I know to reach God is not really the way Catholics (the ones I know) reach God. And while I have no intention of giving up "my" way, I would really really love to experience prayer as a Catholic. Not a former NDCFer, not a desperate fifteen-year-old, but someone who owns her Catholic faith.

So my interest in the rosary is not just for its anchoring potential. I want to fall in love with a Catholic 'style' of prayer. I want to feel as close to God during Adoration as I did in dorm study rooms early in the morning. I know it can be done! I've been graced with a handful of wise and patient Catholic women who pray. Like, PRAY. I want to be like them. I want what they have.  If you are an NDCF student you join the prayer team. If you are a twenty-something Catholic chick with an allergic-to-sleep six-month-old you... what? I believe God has called me to intercessory prayer AND the Catholic church, so it's possible, yes? I'm investigating. I've been investigating.

There are a million trillion things wrong with this post, most of which I should take the time to think about and rewrite to better explain myself, but if I do that this post won't get published till NEXT year's NaBloPoMo and I'd like to think you want me to post before then. (Ah, narcissism!) Things are a lot more complicated than what I've typed out here, but I think it will do for now. Hopefully. If not I'll have pictures posted first thing tomorrow. No one has opinions about pictures.

P.S. By the time I graduated, the NDCF was a different animal. The freshmen were excited. The older students weren't bitter. The staff acknowledged something had gone wrong- and publicly apologized. IT WAS A MIRACLE.


The tryptophan is wearing off

We took the baby downtown this morning to ride the Christmas carousel. I forgot how many crazies live here. For the last several years I've driven myself to an office in an out-of-the-way neighborhood and only gone downtown to meet Phillip after work or see a movie at the fancy mall. But I used to take the bus downtown every single day and walk to one of my various downtown jobs and oh, the crazies I would see. Today we had:

  • Strange men holding signs that said FREE HUGS. Isn't that nice?
  • The requisite angry bearded man holding a sign that said CHRIST-MASS IS NOT CHRISTIAN! IT IS A CATHOLIC PAGAN INVENTION!
  • And two or three dozen cyclists with NO SHOPPING scrawled on shredded pieces of fabric saftey-pinned to their shredded black cycling clothes. One had a sign on his back that said U R SHOPPING WHILE BOMBS R DROPPING. Which, okay. But the message might have made more of an impact if the cyclists hadn't also been wearing zombie makeup. I didn't see the point of the zombie makeup. Shopping on the day after Thanksgiving is immoral and undead?

For the record, the only thing we bought was a latte, because we are broke. We wandered through Macy's and Nordstrom letting out loud melancholy sighs over the sale displays and then we went home to sob into our Bob Cratchit mittens.

We are broke because we bought a flat panel TV, necessitating the extreme rearrangement of our living room over the last several days. Jack is an expert roller over now and just learned to sit up by himself and oh my God I thought he was going to crawl across his grandmother's family room last night, so Phillip and I were thinking we needed a bit more floor space. If you have ever been to my house you know that we have no floor space. In fact, you may have wondered if we have a floor, as the furniture and floor-bound items (Roomba, car seat, Basket O' Toys, Exersaucer, unfortunate Chinese urns and assorted Piles O' Crap) cover up the entire thing. We eventually had to shove the coffee table up to the fireplace just to make room for Jack to play. So you see, the TV is for Jack. Obviously.

And now? We have a TON of floor space. So much that I am constantly using the object of much of my ridicule- the Roomba- and fretting over the books on the lowest shelf of the bookshelves and the easy access to the glass in front of the fireplace. But the TV sort of distracts me from the babyproofing stress. So flat! So shiny! So high-definition! Jack is really enjoying his new TV.

Jack would enjoy his TV a lot more if it wasn't perpetually starring Bear Grylls and his idiotic show. What kind of human willingly jumps into quicksand? A glacier crevasse? Oh, excuse me: glayseyer.

The goal for today is to bake at least one kind of Christmas cookie. Usually I go sort of, um, overboard with the Christmas cookies. Well, as overboard as an untalented and lazy baker can go. But last year I think I baked one kind of cookie. And that was using pre-made sugar cookie dough. Lame! So I intend to make up for things this year. Cookies will be baked! That is why my little sister is coming over this afternoon. Little does she know I plan to use her for slave labor.

And I know it's still Catholic Month around here and I have more to say about my Catholic Pagan Inventions. But not today. Today is for cookie baking and, apparently, Bear Grylls.

*This is where a photo of my darling boy in the Christmas carousel would go if his disappointing parents ever uploaded pictures instead of leaving them to lonely endless fates on the digital camera.*


Courtesy of a family of elementary school teachers

*sung to the tune of Frere Jacques*

Turkey dinner turkey dinner
Gather round! Gather round!
Who will get the drumstick?
Yummy yummy drumstick!
All sit down, all sit down

Cornbread muffins, chestnut stuffing
Puddin' pie, one foot high
All of us were thinner
Before we came to dinner
Me oh my! Me oh my!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. You can look forward to my OH DEAR GOD DID ALL OF MY PANTS SRHINK? post tomorrow. Whee!




Pears are yummy, but HONESTLY

I'm not going to be able to write anything today either. Gah. Stupid NaBloPoMo.

Does anyone else's kid not eat? Everyone says not to replace milk/formula with solids, but my kid is not particularly enjoying the liquid diet anymore. He wants pears. I try to stuff the bottle in his mouth and he's all, "GIVE ME MY PEARS, WOMAN!"

So I am frustrated. He is hardly wasting away, but I don't know what to do with him. Solids first, milk first, scheduled, not scheduled, it doesn't matter. The only thing he is remotely interested in eating is pears.

And now I'm going to fawn over the pictures of my sisters' first graders dressed up like Pilgrims.

Ooh, if you need something to read over Thanksgiving break, may I suggest Mayflower? Who knew Squanto was such a conniving sneak!