Hey, look, I know things are a mess. I took a hiatus from blogging and decided to switch up my design before returning. Please be patient, because if you can wait out the mess it means REGULAR POSTING WILL RETURN SOON! :D

Hooray!

Monday, August 31

Body After Baby Week, uh, ?

I know, I know, I’ve been bad about posting about the challenge. It’s no surprise I didn’t update while I was on vacation. But what’s been my excuse since getting back?

I didn’t want to admit how poorly I’ve done.

I did run three times while in Ohio, as promised. But other than that I’ve been a lazy bum. I missed my 5K because I just wasn’t ready {because I didn’t stick to my training plan and because of illnesses}. I’ve been drinking soda {though, not every day or anything like that}. I haven’t been exercising other than a few runs.

I’m pretty disappointed in myself.

But I’m not letting it deter me from going forward. I once heard a running mantra {from here} of “pain is temporary, giving up is forever.” Well, the same is true for failure. Failure is temporary, giving up is forever. I’m not giving up folks. I’ve picked a different 5K to go for in October. And I’m currently on the prowl for a good price on a used Wii fit.

But you know what, and this is where you can be jealous of me, even when I don’t do anything the breastfeeding is doing wonders for my figure. My pre-pregnancy pants are even a wee bit too big on some days. How’s that for progress? This is the last week of the mini-challenge. So I’ll see you on Monday with another update.

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Friday, August 28

My Grandpa is Cooler Than Your Grandpa

My Grandpa is cooler than yours. I’m sure yours is a very nice fellow. But mine is stinkin’ awesome in addition to being a very nice fellow.

I’m just sayin’.

What?

Don’t believe me?

Fine.

Here’s just SOME of the proof.

Powered by Whrrl

Now do you believe me?

Enjoy your weekend! Adam actually has Saturday and Sunday off this week. So I’ll be back Monday! Don’t forget to help send me to SITScation! Thanks!

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Thursday, August 27

Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired

I’ve been fighting a cold this week. The congestion has been making me miserable. Yesterday I was feeling better.

So of course I woke up early this morning and got to reacquaint myself with dinner.

Nice.

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PS: I’m not pregnant. I promise.

Wednesday, August 26

Sheraton Responds!

First I got this:

Dear Ms. Dork {they used my real name},

Thank you for taking the time to contact us concerning your recent stay at The Four Points by Sheraton Toronto Airport West.

I am very sorry to hear that your stay with us has not been up to the standards of Sheraton Hotels and Resorts. One of our company values is that we succeed only when we meet and exceed the expectations of our customers and I sincerely apologize that we did not do so during your stay.

I have forwarded your comments to the General Manager to assist us in resolving this situation for you. Please allow us up to five days for a thorough investigation and for an appropriate response to be provided to you.

In the meantime, should you have any further queries, please do not hesitate to contact us either by replying to this email or by phone at 1-800-328-6242. If you are outside of the United States or Canada, please email us at customercare@starwoodhotels.com. Your reference number for this matter is ************.

Your present feelings are appreciated; however, I do hope that you will not judge us solely on the basis of this particular experience.

Thank you for choosing Sheraton. If you have any further customer service questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us at sheraton@sheraton.com.

Best Regards,

Bertha {names have been changed to protect the innocent}

Then I got this:

Dear Ms Dork
Thank you for taking the time of your busy schedule, to share your experience about your stay with us. I profoundly apologize on behalf of the hotel, for all the inconveniences you had to incur during you stay on the 9th of August 09. We sincerely appreciate your feedback, and wish to inform you that the hotel will be going through a complete renovation, starting at the end of this year. I have also addressed the service related issues with the concerned staff, ensuring they do not repeat the mistakes again in future.
The next time you are in this area, kindly give us another opportunity to exceed your expectations. Please feel free to contact me directly, so my team can personally attend to your needs.
Thank you!
Helga

Translation: Sorry we suck. We’ll try to make sure OTHER people have a better experience. Please come back and give us more of your money.

No idea what I'm talking about? This will clear things up.

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Monday, August 24

SITScation ‘09 Contest! I Need YOUR Help!

UPDATE #2: Whrrl is working on finding a way to make me eligible! So VOTE! VOTE! VOTE!

UPDATE: Remind me to read the fine print BEFORE I spend all morning working on an entry for a contest. Whrrl and SITS are showing NO LOVE for Canadian Residents. I am INELIGIBLE to win. :( But you know, I'm leaving up the link above because I spent all morning working on my entry and I can't bear to take it down just yet. I'm sick today, and this was the one thing I was feeling good about. I felt like I had a decent chance at winning (especially as I was checking out some of the competition). Now, and I know it's sill:y, but now I just wanna curl up and cry and sleep and not be sick.

I’m a big fan of SITS {The Secret is in the Sauce}. It’s a community of bloggers sharing comment love. And it’s done wonders for the traffic and comments on my blog. They’re hosting a conference {SITScation} in fabulous Las Vegas this October and it’s SOLD OUT {not that I could afford to go}.

However…today they announced how to win a trip (including airfare!) to SITScation!

I’ve already completed my entry. But now I need YOUR help. Please watch my Whrrl story (above). Once you get all the way to the end there will be an option that says “I Like It.” PLEASE click it! I need your votes to win!!! And please ask your friends and family to do the same!

It would mean the world to me if I could go to this conference and become a better blogger.

And I promise to try not to end up in any emergency rooms.

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Saturday, August 22

Open Letter to Sheraton Hotels

Dear Sheraton,

I would just like to thank you for a wonderful experience at one of your Four Points by Sheraton locations in Toronto. On the night of August ninth my husband, baby, and I missed a flight due to a medical emergency {which ended up being not so big of an emergency, but that doesn’t change the fact that we missed our plane}. After a long, hard day of traveling via plane and ambulance we needed a place to stay until we could fly to our destination. Our airline directed us to you.

The very helpful woman on the reservations line got us a room with a queen-sized bed and a crib at the Four Points hotel near the airport. And since she didn’t tell us that there are, in fact two Four Points hotels near the airport we went to the wrong one. But that’s OK. Even though we live on a student budget we love spending money on cab fare. Really. What’s more exciting than spending a paltry $50 to ride through some of the most inclement weather we’ve ever seen? It was almost like going to the amusement park and riding a roller coaster {except that people are a lot less likely to die on a roller coaster…so really we were getting more thrills for our money}!

Upon arrival at the correct hotel the gentleman checking us in informed us that there were no cribs available for us. But that’s probably a good thing. My baby really enjoys being free to crawl and stand in a safe place and frankly, I don’t want her to get spoiled. It’ll toughen her up if she has an opportunity to stick her fingers in electrical sockets or cut herself on the broken mirror you provided in our room.

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When we got up to our room I was very impressed. I just love that “hotel style.” This room was especially nice. It wasn’t cluttered up with useless junk like a mini-fridge or microwave. And that bed! Wow! I’ve never seen a queen-sized bed that was the same size as a double. You must have them custom-made! Or, perhaps they’re a rare, vintage model? Either way, it was awesome. Typically I prefer lots of space for co-sleeping so it’s safer. But what the heck, let’s snuggle! Snuggling up was even more fun since the room was so warm and humid. It was like being on a jungle camp-out.

The helpful hotel information packet provided in our room indicated that room service is available daily until 11:00 pm. What a lifesaver! In all the hustle and bustle of going to the hospital we hadn’t had a chance to eat a meal since breakfast. But somebody must have switched out the information packets with fraudulent ones {I suspect a disgruntled maid} because room service isn’t really available every day until 11:00, except for people ordering drinks. And while I’d usually love to down an entire bottle of wine on an empty stomach when I’m not feeling well, since I’m a breastfeeding mom that might not be the best idea ever. But if I weren’t nursing I’d totally be all over that! And kudos to you for not flexing the rules. Just because a customer misses the kitchen closing time by 5 minutes is no reason to coddle them. You know what they say, “almost” only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. We ended up ordering a crappy, greasy pizza instead. Serves us right for being so presumptuous.

I was a wee bit disappointed that our $120 per night room didn’t include a free, continental breakfast. But paying $7 for a small bowl of oatmeal and a small glass of grapefruit juice doesn’t bother me when I get a free bottle of water in my room! I mean, I could just use the plastic cups and drink tap water but pfft! That’s not nearly as ritzy. Besides, I deserve to be pampered. The environmental impacts of bottled water be damned!

Vacation plus 012 Vacation plus 013

{It says “It’s water. Of course it’s free.”}

In closing I just want to again say “thank you.” You provided an excellent experience. While it’s true that I’ve paid less for hotel rooms with free breakfasts, larger beds, etc.and I even paid less for the bridal suite on my honeymoon {which included a big, jetted tub} your helpful employees and stellar accommodations are worth the extra strain on my already troubled wallet. You can rest assured that next time I have a freak medical incident that leaves me stuck in Toronto for the night and the Four Points hotel by Sheraton is the my only option I will so be staying there again! Keep up the good work!


{Sheraton Responds!}

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Friday, August 21

Vielen Dank!

I had some really great guest bloggers keeping you entertained while I was on vacation.

I just wanted to encourage you all to visit their blogs. And I wanted to send them a big THANK YOU! Guest bloggers, this is for you {should you want to use it}:

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Thanks again for sharing your time and talent while I was away!

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Thursday, August 20

Planes, Taxis, and Ambulances?

I’m going to share my ultimate travel tip with you. Trust me, you definitely want to follow this advice:

DO NOT BEGIN YOUR VACATION WITH A TRIP TO THE HOSPITAL.

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Yup, if there’s one piece of vacation guidance I could give that would definitely be it.

If you’ve been following me on Twitter you might have caught this tweet:

tweeted

See, here’s the thing: apparently upon an airplane’s descent one’s blood pressure can do funky things. Sometimes those funky things can make you feel really, really crappy. And sometimes when you feel really, really crappy your breathing {and therefore oxygen intake} change just enough to make you weak, numb, and tingly. {And when I say “weak” I’m talkin’ about the uggghhh-I-can’t-stand-or-hardly-speak-somebody-please-help-me-kind-of-weak.} And if you wait it out everything clears up and you’ll be fine and dandy.

Now, generally, flight attendants don’t moonlight as doctors. So they don’t know this. They do know that if an otherwise healthy, young woman suddenly finds herself practically unable to move that it’s usually wise that the paramedics be called. And that’s cool. Except that once paramedics are involved the airline require a note from a doctor assuring the patient can safely fly.

And in our case that means missing our next flight, taking all our carry-on luggage and a baby with us in the ambulance, waiting about an hour in the ER so that a obnoxiously, rude doctor can charge us an extra fee for filling out a form for the airline telling them I can fly in 12 to 24 hours {just in case}. Then it means waiting around even longer while trying to contact the airline so we can fly the next day and find a hotel that isn’t completely full. After spending what seems like an eon playing phone tag we then get to take a taxi {not cheap} to the hotel {also not cheap} only to find out the lady who made the reservation for us sent us to the wrong place. So…we take another taxi {still not cheap} to the right hotel. And, since it’s after 10 and we haven’t eaten since breakfast we order a pizza…pizza which takes over an hour to get delivered {can you say “no tip!”}.

The bright side to all this was that we ended up getting to visit Adam’s folks the next day. They helped us navigate the Toronto airport and get things sorted out with Air Canada. The rest of the vacation went quite well. I’m perfectly healthy. And everything is back to normal…except I still have gunk on my skin from those medical stick-ums.

Vacation plus 009

Lesson learned? Next time I feel crummy, DON’T HYPERVENTILATE. Also?

NEVER EVER SAY "What could possibly go wrong?" {not even as a joke}!

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And the Winners are…

It’s time to pick the winners of the Coffee Graphic Design giveaway!

The 5 lucky readers who will be getting a free button?

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z7

z23

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z1

The 3 lucky readers who will be getting a free header?

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z29

z14

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And the 1 very lucky reader who will be getting the ultimate prize pack which includes a header, button, and signature with 2 additional seasonal versions?

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Well, well, well! Aren’t you lucky Sarah? Winning twice! You must have some magic mojo goin’ on or something!

Congrats to ALL my winners. I’ll be contacting you shortly. And if you didn’t win but still want some graphic design work done I’m very affordable.

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Wednesday, August 19

Home Again

Well, vacation is officially over. And I have about a million blog posts I want to write about ambulance rides, rainbows, dogs, family, food, and how much the Sheraton sucks. And tomorrow I draw the winners for the big graphic design giveaway. Yup, I’m going to be a very busy bee for a while. I miss my family again already. But it’s also good to be home. I’ll catch you all up very soon. In the meantime here are just some of the fun vacation photos we took:

jack russel Katy baby lucy swimming father and daughter acting grumpy Lucy in the Beco carrier

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Saturday, August 15

Guest Post! “Well Fed Futures”

Bio Blurb and Blog Summary: Meet Sarah! She a twenty something mom, wife, student, sister, daughter, pharmacy technician, blogger, amongst other things. She's a pure bred Egyptian (be jealous) who was born in Ohio (GO BUCKS!) and has lived there her whole life and continues to raise her family there. Sarah is a clean freak and can't function without her planner. She loves art, books, photography, knitting and cooking. Her blog is her thoughts and opinions of everything she encounters in the topsy turby adventures of life. She likes to tell it how it is whether people particularly like it or not.

Its true, as mothers we are concerned about what our children eat. It really starts before they are even born when deciding if we will breast feed or not (boobies rock don’t deny it!) and just escalates on from there. Organic jar foods, homemade baby food, the best of the best for our little munchkins no questions asked!

It makes sense too. I mean, what you put in is what you will get out. If you feed your child crap he/she will produce nothing but crap. However if you feed your child well they will be perfect, smart, healthy, rulers of the world. Right? So why stop there?

I grew up in a very unique Egyptian household and after leaving home there is one specific thing that’s takes me back to my childhood: my mother’s cooking. It doesn’t matter where I am in my life or how hectic things get – the second I smell her homemade grape leaves or béchamel, I’m six years old again.

I want my daughter to leave home (in a million years) with all that she loves tucked into a safe spot. That is why when I was pregnant – and loving food even more so – I started a cookbook for her. My intentions are to put every recipe we make up, fall in love with, make on holidays, or mess up together in that book so that when she moves out for good she can always have a little piece of her childhood with her. I found a too cute for words DSCN0490must have cookbook at Borders. It’s nice and when she’s 28 and pulls it off the shelf to cook something it’s not remotely childish or embarrassing. And in it I’ve been putting every recipe we cook here at our house from green bean casserole and homemade pumpkin chocolate chip cookies to pina coladas and Thanksgiving turkey and stuffing. I’m working on family recipes that come from my great great great grandmother to include (after translated) because no matter what DSCN0480anyone else says store bought hummus is not okay once you’ve have the made from scratch stuff!

So my question to you is – what are you leaving behind for your child to pass down to their children and so on? What are you giving them to be proud of and share with the people they will grow to love and call family?

I know I want my baby girl to have a well fed future – no matter what! (As all Egyptian mothers want)

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Friday, August 14

Guest Post! “Ready or not: Working Mommy it is”

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Bio Blurb and Blog Summary: Sarah lives in the mid-west with her husband of four-and-a-half-years and their five-month old baby girl Lucia (Loo-sha) Chamberlin. She has spent the past five months home with her daughter and in one week will return to work as an American Literature teacher to high school juniors. She has been blogging since 2005, but with the introduction of motherhood also came the mommy blog transformation. Joyfullygray captures snipits of everyday life with her family.

Ready or not: Working Mommy it is

In the beginning the days were of sweat pants, breast pads, chills, nursing, more nursing and of shock that the conclusion of my birth story had been written. Yes, just like that, the chapter of my first pregnancy closed. My pregnancy, like the build up to Christmas morning, was gone in a flash. Excitement abound! And then it was over.
In the beginning there were some raging hormones, some baby blues, some highs and lows, some tears and joy. And more chills. Brrr! I was freezing during those early days, and the milk spilling from my chest, while briefly tepid, quickly turned sub-zero, only to make matters far wintrier.

In the beginning there was a constant reality check: my baby was out of my body—my body where she had been safely tucked for the last 41 weeks. Now she was on the outside. On the outside where I had to keep her safe, where I was responsible for her well being, where any diaper rash was a reflection of my poor mothering skills and where scabs on my bleeding nipples and bright red stretch marks were my badge of honor.

In the beginning there was finally a sense of calm, of amazement, shear awe, even bliss. Oh yeah, and that one thing: True Love.

This true love that I encountered brought on occasional thoughts of maternity leave: that it would someday end, that I would someday return to my teaching gig. Admittedly, there were some break downs. Oh yes! Blubbering-cry-like-a-sobbing-lunatic-break-downs.
Breakdowns where I would call my [then] pregnant best friend and scare her to death, making her swear to her husband that she would not be a post-pregnancy mess like me.
And there were more breakdowns where I would call my mother and sob, making her promise me that it would be okay, that everything would be okay.
And more breakdowns where I would make my husband feel like absolute shit because I could not quite yet be a stay at home mom. Where I would make him feel guilt and sorrow about something he could not control. And it was unfair, unfair because he is a good man, a good provider, a smart, hard-working, will-bust-my-ass-for-this-family-kind-of-man.
And one day it ended. It had to end. Self-pity and loathing is no way to live. It was no way to experience life with my new child. The people around me just weren't having it anymore. My mother put her foot down, told me to stop fretting over the future and start enjoying the now.

Enjoying the now, what a novel idea.
And then I put on my big-girl pants and sucked it the hell up.
Thoughts of maternity leave left my brain. I was just living life—an oath to live day by day, enjoying the now, with my little bundle of joy.

The days were of long naps, gazing into each others' eyes, talking and sharing, learning about each other. Good days, full days, the best days—the best days of my life.

That was March—that was March, April, May, June, and July.

March made August feel like a century away.
At least five months away. And that was supposed to be enough time.
But now, as I write, it is August—August and 14 days away from going back to work. And guess what? It was not enough time. But it was our time, our gift that I am ever-so-grateful to have been given.
And, as we mothers know, all sidewalks end, all chapters close and new ones begin.

And so mine is.

After five-months of maternity leave, again, I will be putting on my big girl pants. I will be sucking it up and heading back—back to work. And I consider myself one of the lucky ones—one of the lucky mothers to have had five whole months. No, no more will I have entire days, entire twenty-four hour periods with my child, but I will take what I can get, I will be grateful and I will make every second count.
Lucia and I have had many talks about the impending change. I've told her, with tears rolling down my cheeks, about the things we will be doing differently. I’ve promised her that we will still nap and nurse, still cuddle and giggle—we will make time for our favorite things. I've explained to her that it has to happen because it is what works best for our family financially, it is what helps give her her daily breast milk, it is what helps put money away for her college education, future piano lessons, ballet classes, or whatever her flavor may be. It is what is—and sometimes what is might be a hard pill to swallow.

I tell her these things and she giggles and coos at me, somehow letting me know that she will be all right—somehow telling me that it is me that will hurt and ache inside.
But remember, I am sucking it up. I am putting on my big girl pants and I will rise to the occasion. I will because, like my mother says, I always do.
It helps that my husband is so supportive. He knows what a difficult task lays in front of me. He knows and he cares. He has also told me that I am different now—that I am stronger since pregnancy and child birth, that he knows I can do anything.
He is right.
I am a strong mommy. And I am about to be a strong working mommy. Fortunately for me, I do not work the typical eight to five; and, I have the cushion of autumn, winter, spring and summer breaks. I can enjoy the best of both worlds: work long enough that I yearn to stay at home with my daughter, and be home long enough that I need to get out a bit. Lucia too will have the best of both worlds: some socialization with other young children and lots of mommy time as well.
I plan to continue breastfeeding when I return to the grind. The pump and I are not yet too great of friends, but we are working on our relationship. I try to spend time with her once a day, providing bottles of thick goodness for daddy to give Lucia from time to time. I’ll admit, it has been difficult working the pump into my full-time nursing schedule, but I've felt the need to stock-pile my milk. I know when I am away from baby, pumping will be more of a necessity, so I am hoping my relationship with the good old Medela will flourish. I am sure it will, because just like myself, my boobs will too rise to the occasion.
I’ve also come to realize that with my return to work, the house may not always be perfect, which is something my OCD self will have to face. Saturdays will not be entirely dedicated to cleaning because it will not be the most important thing. Full days at home with Lucia will be a luxury and thou shall not waste. Organization will be of the essence, the completion of small-tasks a miracle. And, then, fortunately for our household, my husband has been doing our laundry since day one, so there will always be clean skivvies and fresh towels. He also likes to cook, lucky us! We will be a unit. Our chores completed with a tag-team effort. I take on the toilet; he’ll take on the dog hair. Scratch that. We will go for a walk with our family, venture to the park or read a story together. Because life won't wait, it will fly by like these months already have. We will rise to the occasion and meet life face to face! Forgo the scrubbing mandates!
Another something that has helped ease my aching working mommy heart is that I found a wonderful caregiver. I interviewed many home daycare providers and visited many centers as well. Nothing floated my boat. Until one day, I saw her, I met the children she cared for, I watched her work all morning, and I knew—I just knew she was the one. It was that gut feeling, my maternal instinct rising to the occasion.
Learning the ropes of being a working mom will not be easy, but at this time it is necessary. And we, my family and I, will make it work—we will rise to the occasion.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, August 13

Guest Post! "There's No 'Me' in Pregnancy"

Bio Blurb and Blog Summary: Rita spent five years battling infertility, which - once conquered - has led to the rather frenzied output of three sons in four years. Now she can't decide whether she's richly blessed or stone-cold crazy. But Rita does know this much: her household is overrun with testosterone, and she spends far too much time schlepping around in her pajamas. She has vowed to someday bring sexy back and get a life. Until then, she blogs about her lack of both sexiness and social engagements - and, despite it all, her love for the little boys that have bestowed upon her the coveted title of Mommy.

stockxpertcom_id13654611_jpg_41fcc41e0247797922049ab8f7c657e9 I don’t care if it IS my third pregnancy: like most expectant mothers, I’m obsessed with knowing what’s going on with the impending fetus – and that means religiously Googling every week to find out about each exciting new development. (That first poop may not be pleasant in a diaper, but I sure am proud to hear that my baby boy now has the ability to manufacture it.) Lucky for me, and for every other mommy-to-be on the Internet, there’s no shortage of websites designed to keep us up-to-date on baby’s development (and what to expect ourselves – which, for me, is back fat that looks like boobs and varicose veins in oddly uncomfortable places).

Today, though, I couldn’t help but be a little irritated by something I read on one of those websites. Right under “34 weeks pregnant,” it said, “… if all goes well, you'll be waiting for another six weeks. So don't drive yourself crazy, use this time to enjoy being alone, with friends and with your partner.”

That’s all fine and dandy if it’s your first pregnancy – if you CAN be “alone, with friends and with your partner.” But what about those of us who already have children, and thus have nearly forgotten what it’s like to pee without an audience, let alone spend a substantial amount of time doing whatever the heck we want? Did you forget about us, O Internet Oracle? What are we supposed to do with the last six weeks?

Oh yeah: drive ourselves (and everybody else) crazy. Wake up a bajillion times a night because we’re uncomfortable and have to pee, only to be summoned from the bed at the crack of dawn by the demands of the offspring outside the uterus. Waddle awkwardly after a child when “No. No. I SAID NOOOO!” doesn’t work from a sitting position. Fantasize about giving birth just for the downtime and pampering (even if it does mean wearing a pad the size of a pillow). Pray that the last six weeks hurtle by quicker than a preschooler on a sugar binge.

If I could spend my last six weeks of pregnancy enjoying romantic dinners with my husband, laughing with girlfriends over a virgin daiquiri or an entire a hunk of chocolate cake, or lounging around with a stack of books, I totally would. But I have two little boys to look after – so for the most part, these last six weeks are going to be much like the weeks before them: busy, hectic, and filled with filling everyone else’s needs.

When it’s all said and done, though, I’ll miss being pregnant … just a little bit. And when the fruits of my labor are all grown up and involved in their own lives – which I’m told happens all too quickly – I’ll have more than enough “me time” to make up for what these last six (long, miserable) weeks are going to lack.

… I hope.

Wednesday, August 12

Guest Post! “Footprints”

Bio Blurb: Slee is the kinda-crunchy mom of Snapdragon, her sustainable baby, and Mongoosine, her eco-chid. She's the babywearing, breastfeeding, attachment parenting, lactivist, intactiivist type. Although she doesn't fight crime by night, she does think that sounds like a pretty sweet gig.

Blog Summary: Paisley&Pretties, a midwestern mom's creatively sustainable approach to life, the universe, and making everything just that much more fantabulous.

I remember quite clearly the day I went into the hospital to have Mongoosine. Both of them, rather. I had wretched pre-eclampsia and had been on bedrest for what felt like longer than I was pregnant. Yes, I know it's mathematically impossible, but if you've ever been on strict, lights-out, lay-on-your-left-side, only-get-up-to-pee-no-more-than-FOUR-times-a-day bedrest, you know what I mean about how long it felt.

I remember how my parents drove me to the hospital that fine Tuesday morning. I remember being checked in, putting on the hospital gown, being hooked up to monitors, having every intern and nurse in the building come look at my hooha, and being told to go home so everyone could focus on a higher risk woman in active labor. Bummer. This isn't about that time.

I also remember how two days later, on a bright Thursday morning, I packed my hugely bloated self into the car and headed tentatively back to the hospital. Well, this time they hooked me up, started a pitocin drip, ruptured my amniotic sac, and by 4:42 in the afternoon, (I'll spare you the gory details) I first met my Mongoosine. Up until that moment, I didn't understand what all of the mothers out there always said about how they never knew they coul feel so much for another human being. How they wanted to somehow magically make the world a better place for this perfect and precious little creature. How they were filled with this overwhelming and radiating love and a desire to teach that little creature all the good things in the world. I very distinctly remember wanting to teach her how to look at the world with a creative eye.

I remember watching them ink her foot and create her very first piece of artwork. A footprint on a piece of parchment.

When she was about a month old, my mother and I got it into our heads that it would be a great idea to repeat the process. You know, so that we could send out announcements with original footprints. Of course, we were much too cool to use any nasty chemical laden ink that might be hard to wash off without abrasive chemicals, so we started with ketchup on the baby's foot. Mongoosine thought it was squishy, but proceeded to be a little too squishy footed for the paper.

Mustard was too gloopy. Didn't even leave a discernable footprint. Chocolate sauce was a little too runny, but did do a nice job of inking her foot, so to speak. Barbeque sauce, well, it may have left the best of the footprints, but she was so upset at the whole cold wet stuff on her foot thing by that point that it was pretty hopeless. That, and we were all getting hungry. Mmm, baby feet never looked so yummy!

Suffice it to say, there would be no clear original footprints of Mongoosine to be had by anyone. Well, no one but me, because I had the one the professional footprint printers, er, nurses did.

Fastforward three-quarters of a decade, well 7/10ths.

It turns out that I'm one of those mommies. The type of mom who still has it stuck in her head that she is going to create a creative genius, no matter what. By this point I've had Mongoosine's artwork displayed in a museum, and am constantly on the lookout for new artistic techniques to expose her to. Broken crayons? Lets melt them onto paper and carve in the wax. What? Your ribbon broke? Looks like the perfect piece for a colage to me! What? You want to design a quilt? Sure, let's do that. You have an idea for a story? Dictate and draw some pictures, I'll print it out and we'll make covers, bind it, and give it away, complete with author bio. Want to wear stripes with polkadots and a sequined headband with furry poncho? Sure. Sounds like a plan.

Create, create, create.

Yes, one of those moms. The one who tells people who call and ask what she wants for her birthday that more than anything she'd like art supplies or something else creatively stimulating. Toys? Pish posh. A canvas. The latest Disney musical DVD? No, clay.

I went out of my way to be encouraging of the little budding Kahlo or Degas. What I wasn't ready for was the Sunday after her birthday coming down the steps into the family room with the off-white carpet to find that she'd taken the lovely paints she'd recieved for her birthday, painted the bottoms of her feet purple and blue, and proceeded to dance around the room.

Paint. Feet. Carpet. Dancing.

Breathe.

That's right. Perfect purple and blue footprints, the kind I tried so hard to print when she was a baby, "decorated" the formerly off-white carpet.

In retrospect, I should have seen it coming.

Lessons learned: Embrace your child's creative exuberence for creating, despite the effects on the carpet.

White vinegar can help get an off-white carpet looking off-whiter after removing the bulk of the paint with regular old carpet scrubbing goodness.

We still did art projects that week, and I treasure those memories deeply.

When we went to move, some two years after said footprint fiasco, finally scrubbing the last of the paint out of the carpet, I was sad to see them go. Sure, I was less than pleased at the time, but now, I woudln't trade having the girl who is creative enough to get into that kind of trouble for anything.

Now I need to repeat this to myself before I go out into the family room. I didn't look twice for fear of spoiling my mood, but I think the wall might know where my red lipstick went...

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Tuesday, August 11

Guest Post! “Making the Beds: Our bed is a tad sma...”

June14 2009 024

Bio Blurb & Blog Summary: Cindy has lived aboard her sailboat for 11 years. She blogs about homeschooling, parenting, writing, boat life, and planning their next adventure at http;//www.zachaboard.blogspot.com

I hate doing housework. Or in my case, boat work. Well that's the problem, I actually love working on my boat doing boaty things. What I can't stand is trying to replicate the domesticity of house life on board the boat. But a mom's gotta do what a mom's gotta do.

Making the Beds:
Our bed is a tad smaller than a standard American queen size, but it's walled in on three sides. Making the bed on a boat is a bit like playing Twister. You need to climb on top of and thereby mess up the very thing you are trying to straighten out. My secret? I don't make the bed every day. No way, no how. And I use a nice, thick quilt that's easy to flop over the sheets and give the illusion of tidiness. If all else fails, I close the bedroom door and pretend not to care.

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Cooking: I don't enjoy cooking, though I do love to eat good and healthy foods. Often around 6pm time I close my eyes and click my heels and wish for a gnome to come and magically make a meal appear for my family. People joke that I probably don't like to cook because we have a tiny kitchen. Actually, by boat standards we have a fairly large galley. MajesticGalleyPortHullEven if we did live on land, I'd still be wishing for that kitchen gnome. The biggest challenge is keeping fresh food. Our refrigerator is 2 inches tall by 20 inches across by 15 inches deep. Sort of like a big version of a dorm room fridge. Arranging and finding food is like playing Jenga. Our freezer is actually larger than the fridge, but it's a top loading freezer, so the door doubles as counter space so there's often a clearing off that needs to happen before diving into the frost. We have a 3-burner propane stove with a small oven. I have boat friends on much smaller boats who whip up meals that would impress Martha Stewart. I invite myself over and offer to bring the wine.


Washing Dishes: I would love to do a scientific study to settle a debate between my husband and I. His method of doing dishes is the old fill up one side of the double basin with sudsy water for washing everything and rinsing carefully on the other side. I am more of the traditional wash by hand, but turning the faucet on and off between everything to save on April 04 2009 004water. Why does it matter? Because we're not hooked up to city water. We hold our fresh water in tanks under the floor boards by the keels. Two tanks, one on each side of the catamaran, at about 75 gallons each. When we run out, we need to get our hose, run it from the dock into our tank, and refill. It's a pain, so we're careful about water use. And in the winter, we don't have dockside water. December 1 2008 140We need to run about 5 hoses in the freezing cold from the marina office, often banging out ice chunks that form in the line from the last person not draining it properly. In the winter we're REALLY careful about water use. So which method uses less water for dishes? My stance is that because I often find food goo still stuck to the silverware after he's washed and then have to wash again, his method is inherently less efficient. When we're at sea, we wash in salt water (we have a pump that sucks it up to the sink) and rinse in fresh to save water. Our "grey water" (dirty dish water) goes down the drain into the water around us, so we're very mindful about using a biodegradable dish soap. Of course if the little gnomes would come and cook for me, I would assume they'd handle the dishes as well.


Laundry: We don't have a washer dryer on board. We have a coin operated laundry room at our marina and we schlep the body-sized bags of dirty clothes back and forth more often that I care to admit.

Cleaning The Toilet: We call it a head. And I call that job not mine. Marine heads flush with salt water into a holding tank that is pumped out when full by the marina. The unique chemical reaction that occurs when salt water and urine mix results in a scaly build up that looks like mortar and smells like a men's room. So I leave the job to the man in my life. The secret is lots of vinegar.

General Cleaning: When you live in a space this small, it gets dirty and cluttered fast. But it also cleans up fast. If we were more organized it would be even better, and I'm slowly getting there. Some things like toys are pretty well organized. We have bags under the salon (living room) table and each one has a different set of toys (blocks, animals, play silks, pirates, etc). My son knows which ones go with which bags and is great about putting March 4 2009 030them away most of the time. We have a container for art supplies, one for sewing stuff, one for seasonal books, etc. We have cloth bins for magazines and a little cabinet for mail and papers that is generally a mess. We also have the universal junk drawer. I vacuum with a handheld Dirt Devil and with a kid and pets, it happens once a day at least. I try like heck to give the place a once over every night after my son is sleeping because waking up to a mess is a crummy way to start the day. All told, even when the boat is at it's worst, I can tackle the whole thing in about an hour. Cleaning the OUTSIDE of the boat is a different story. Washing, waxing, ugh, why did we buy such a big boat? And where's that bloody gnome?Brownie
Sure it's difficult, but we love that it forces us to live simply and close to nature. We've been aboard full time for 11 years and wouldn't trade it for anything. We traveled on our former (smaller) boat before our son was born and plan to cast off again in a couple of years. So even though we may not have hospital corners or pressed clothes (whoever invented rayon gets a Nobel Prize in my book), we love that our son is learning first hand how to live simply and fully. And I get to spend my time soaking up the fresh air and sunshine on top of my home, rather than cooking and cleaning inside of it.

Monday, August 10

Guest Post! “Pooptastic, Pooperiffic! The Adventures of Solid Wastes.”

Bio Blurb: She is a first time mommy. She loves to write. She loves to mommy naturally. She is a homemade baby food enthusiast. She is a former teacher. She loves fresh organic produce. Put all of these together and you get, Mama Milieu, an enthusiastic blogger of natural mommying and organic homemade baby food making!


Blog Summary: She has two blogs--one about the fun, the frustrating, the giggles, the angst, the beauty, the poop, and the whimsical of mommying--and the other, a resource for parents who wish to prepare their very own homemade babyfood.

You know you're a mom when you begin to obsess about poop--that's right, the color, the texture, the frequency, the smell, the consistency.

Bringing your wee bundle home from the hospital means that you, as a freshly squeezed parent, must begin the many tasks of your baby's care--bathing, feeding, soothing and, of course, changing. And, interestingly enough, it's the changing part--the poop part--that often gets the most attention from pediatricians and therefore, moms too.

Why all of this poop quandary? Well, because changes in your baby's poop can be an important signal, not to be missed, that something has gone awry with your baby's well being.

So, the parental poop-i-scope focuses it's lens on every diaper removed from your baby's buns throughout infancy . . . and then the feeding of solid food begins and everything changes. Radically. Every sign of hazard you had been trained to spot becomes the new norm--green poop, speckled poop, stiff poop, dry poop, and the most worrisome . . . no poop.

My little Noah Finn was a regular pooper--he pooped three to four times a day when he was strictly breast feeding. But the recent introduction of solids has given his digestive system a run for it's a money, a kink in the cords, a cog in it's wheel. And the result? Poop has once again become a household fascination and dinnertime talk topic as my husband and I frequently ask one another, "Has Noah pooped today?", "What did it look like?", and so on.

Now, the poor little guy has harrowing three and sometimes four day lapses between those blessed movements of the bowels. And when those moments of relief finally come, it aint' pretty. It's a day full of grunting, straining and red-faced pushing that results in many, many dirty diapers. Needless to say, on those days we are scrubbing diapers until sunrise.

We have increased his water intake and have introduced plum and prune puree and flax seed oil into his diet--just until his plumbing acclimates. It seems to help so far, and so has feeding solids with regularity--the more solids he eats, the more "regular" he becomes.

So the lesson here is, beware new parents and parents who are slated to soon be experimenting with solids. They're lots of fun going in, it's just the coming out part that really stinks.

Friday, August 7

Hello Dinner, Haven’t We Met Before?

I knew I’d have a hard time getting myself to pack today. I did NOT know that it would be because I’d spend the morning worshiping a porcelain idol.*

Also?

The camera has a dead battery and no charger.

:(

We got the price of a new charger deducted from the camera price. But the soonest we could get a charger sent to us? Wednesday. Sooooo…we’re having it shipped to my parent’s house {hi Mom!}. And I will be spending the last half of our vacation taking LOTS of pictures {gotta make up for lost time}.

Anyway. There will be no new posts this weekend. But Monday the guest posts will begin! Hooray! I think you’ll really enjoy what my guest bloggers have in store for you. So don’t miss it!

siggy

*McDonald’s? Evil. Pure evil. Pure, unadulterated wake-up-and-spend-the-entire-morning-puking-and-feeling-so-awful-you-have-to-hire-a-babysitter-just-to-help-take-care-of-your-baby-even-though-you’re-home-EVIL.

Thursday, August 6

I’m In Love

canon-rebel-xt-1-1

See that beautiful camera? Are you drooling? Yeah, well…I’m getting a new-to-me one tomorrow morning for an excellent price {yes, be jealous}. And people, do you understand what that means?

That means I’m going to be able to take much better photos for the blog. That means I’m going to be able to use photo elements in my graphic design. That means I’m going to be able to take excellent family pictures during our vacation.

.

.

.

That means I’m going to have to use ever ounce of will power I have to not spend all my time between now and Sunday playing with my new toy instead of packing.

siggy

Wednesday, August 5

Look Out World. Here She Comes!

random 036

Lu has been able to hold herself in a standing position {when placed that way} for some time. That’s what she’s doing in the above picture. But today? Today she pulled herself to standing. I’d show you a picture but she fell on her butt as soon as the camera was on and ready {note to self: get faster camera}. I now have a sitting, rolling, crawling, standing baby.

When did your baby start walking?

siggy

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