stuff to buy

no angst today.  we’re all out.  i made 24 weeks today, safely past yesterday’s milestone of having had my water break at 23w6d the first time around, necessitating airlift and uncovering all sorts of previously unanticipated complications…

so today i’m just breathing, grateful, good.

and in celebration, i’m doing laundry.  because i really AM that much of a party animal, yep. and because it’s a sunny, windy day, and Dave put up a clothesline a few weeks ago, and the ten foot walk to the back deck from the washing machine is a fine form of exercise for those who have no musculature left.  and because this bedrest thing has meant there’s been a slight, erm, build-up of laundry in our home of late and now that i’m allowed to do a little, i feel it’s incumbent upon me to save the hamper from utterly self-destructing under its own weight.

but also because i want to do a little public service announcement.  i think there’s probably little so misunderstood in the entire parent-sphere (blog or real-life) as cloth diapers. and having just laundered some, i’d like to counter some of the rumours.

i keep hearing about how they’re hard, how they create a lot of work.  i can see the reasons behind those assumptions – my own mother, who owned a total  of twelve cloth prefolds during my entire pre-potty-trained existence and used ’em, day in and day out, with a wringer washer, believes Pampers are some kind of miracle of Jesus.  i get that.  i’m not above disposables – we use them sometimes when we’re travelling, and they have their place in my canon of Reasons i’m Happy it’s Not 1970.  but what i want to lay out here, just in case there’s anybody out there waffling on the fence about diapering options…cloth is actually no big deal.  not a lot of work, not a lot of gross, not a lot of waste water.  seriously.  it does seem to end up sounding like a lot of work nearly every single time i hear about it in media or on discussion boards or at baby showers, unless the person speaking is some kind of earth mother goddess type…but i call bullshit babyshit on that.  it’s a myth that keeps us comfortable, societally, keeps us consuming, keeps us thinking we’ve got it good.  but it’s a myth that makes a mountain out of the molehill of work actually involved in cloth diapering, and a myth that ends up perpetuating a fair amount of, um…waste.

this week, as public radio helped me while away the tedium of collating the final report for the project i’ve worked on all year, there was a show on about some Canadian dude who’s gone to England to recycle that nation’s disposable diapers, because a) Canadians aren’t nearly so interested in the whole recycling thing and b) England only has nine years max of landfill available for nappies before, well, babies are just going to have to stop pooping or people are going to have to change their practices.  sometimes i suspect all this space we have around us here in North America doesn’t exactly channel our better angels.  in any case, the companion piece to Mr. Diaper Recycler was a panel of three moms from across this country discussing the diapering choices they’d made.  and while all were making efforts to be greenish in various aspects of their lives, the discourse around diapers was pretty familiar.  the mom using cloth was a serious eco-hippie, kudos to her, who’s also used elimination communication with her kids and had them totally trained and probably growing patchouli and playing guitar by the age of two.  the mom who used disposables had intended otherwise during pregnancy but got overwhelmed by a colicky baby and now “just doesn’t think about it and doesn’t feel guilty about it.”  and the mom using compostable g-diapers mentioned the waste of water resources that go into cloth in any case.

of all of them, the one i identified most with personally was b…the overwhelmed one.  i’m not the natural mama sort, not by nature.  when it became clear that i had a child intent on crying and not sleeping for the first three and a half months of his little life, i struggled.  i was not a pretty sight.  and we’d been sent home from the NICU with a crapload of preemie and newborn Pampers, so i used ’em and into the landfill they went, and i felt a wee bit nasty about that but seriously, when you’re not sleeping, eco-footprints can go screw themselves, especially if you don’t see an equally simple option at hand.  when the Pampers ran out, O was about two months old and coming on ten pounds and starting to look like he might not swim in the prefolds and wraps i’d bought…so i tried them.  and they leaked, and it was a bit of a disaster and i very gravely contemplated throwing the whole venture into the landfill just out of spite.

it was mostly the fact that i had a friend who’d used cloth successfully that kept me going.  this wasn’t just some crazy thing that nobody i knew actually did.   i had someone to ask, to learn from.  and so just in case any of you might need that person in order to give cloth a try, assuming you even you want to, here’s me uh…being that person?  or volunteering to try, at least.

there are a few things i needed in order to be able to use cloth as much as i have and as long.  most important was a washer (and preferably a dryer too, though i try to line/drip dry a few loads a week to save energy).  had that washer not been conveniently located between my kitchen and my back deck, it would have been a more daunting workload, for sure.  the second most important, particularly once i went back to work, was a sitter willing to try cloth.  i’ve been lucky on both counts.  but mostly what i needed was just to work out a system that i could keep simple.

here’s what we use:

1) we used prefolds and wraps for the first six months or so because i’d been given a bunch of prefolds and i’m cheapish.  i never did find great wraps but all of them starting working better and leaking less once i started washing with Arm & Hammer green, because we have hard water here and “free”-type detergents just add to the build-up on diapers.

2) around six months, i retired the prefolds and ordered pocket diapers: eight Fuzzibunz mediums and six Happy Heinies from an online Canadian company.  pocket diapers are brightly coloured covers which you stuff an insert into – we got some terry “Thirsties” inserts and some hemp.  Thirsties have been better inserts for us (O is a heavy wetter), though a double-stuff with one of each work great at night.  all of them work best if they go in the dryer at least every second or third wash.  Oscar is still wearing the Fuzzibunz mediums – when he turned a year i ordered twelve size larges as well, as he was beginning to outgrow the the Happy Heinies.  all but one of our stash of twenty Fuzzibunz have held up beautifully, despite hard and constant use.  they’re a little bulky, kind of like having two disposables on at once, but are cut slim between the legs unlike some cloth options i’ve seen, so they’ve never impacted his walking or comfort, just give him a cute little bubble butt that is occasionally hard to get those pesky toddler skinny-jeans over.

3) Kushies makes biodegradable liners, which i put in most of Oscar’s diapers (especially if a poop is due).  when i change him, the liner and its contents just flush away.  if there’s anything runny that’s gone beyond the liner’s borders, i swish the whole diaper in the toilet while flushing.  two flushes max per poopy diaper, if that.  my hands seldomly get poop on them, but if they do it’s no more than they would in an infant blow-out.  i wash them after, or use Purell.

4) i have a green $5 plastic bucket with a snap-on lid in my bathroom.   wet and dirty diapers go in there.  i do not soak them.  i just rinse the bucket every second wash or so with water and a bit of baby shampoo, in the tub.  if i remember.

5)  we also have a purple “wet bag” (also ordered online, about $12) which goes to the sitter with Oscar everyday, along with 4 or 5 pre-stuffed diapers.  the stuffing and packing in his daycare bag takes max 4 minutes – his sitter sends home the wet bag (which is fabulous and holds all smell in despite having been washed nearly daily for the past 14 months) in his daycare bag, and it gets opened and the contents dumped directly in the washer or in the diaper bucket, if we’re not washing that night.

the system that works for us, basically, is that most nights all the day’s diapers (4-6, depending) and O’s pajamas from the night before and any underwear or socks or tshirts lying around the house, plus any sheets or towels or baby facecloths that need washing, all get dumped in the washer with the wet bag.  all together.  i do one single large load of wash on hot, with a cold rinse, a small amount of detergent, and (at least once a week) a shot of vinegar.  when Oscar was smaller his clothes got washed in there too, as they were frequently rather bodily-fluid-stained themselves.  mine too.  clothes and diapers come out clean and sweet-smelling.  they go in the dryer or get hung to dry.  the wet bag hangs out for the night and goes back in the daycare bag in the morning.  we do this wash four or five times a week, and end up with clean socks and underwear and whatever else in the process.   particularly when Oscar was smaller and making a mess of clothes all the time, it was literally no more wash than i would otherwise have been doing anyway.  and there’s never a stink build-up, because we don’t leave them lying around for more than 36 hours or so.

i dunno.  it’s taken me four times longer to write it all down than it would to do it.  and maybe it’s not very convincing…or maybe it’s just not for you in any case, and that’s your business.  but just, please…don’t believe it the next time you hear cloth diapers are so hard, or that they’re just as bad as disposables because of the water usage (unless, perhaps, you live in drought-stricken Australia and never actually do laundry).  the truth is, our society just hasn’t done a very good job of supporting people in learning to use them.  even with me on bedrest, they’ve added up to perhaps a half-hour of work per week for Dave & i over the last few months.  we don’t spend money on diapers (or haven’t since i got the last twelve on Ebay for $160 thirteen months ago).  we never run out.  we’re not even doing a lot of wash that we wouldn’t otherwise be doing.

just sayin’.  there’s a learning curve, for sure.  but if anybody wants some assvice or some support trying to get there, you are welcome to pick my brain until the cows come home.  because i do think that financially and ecologically they’re a worthwhile option, and one i’d love to see more families trying rather than being intimidated out of it before they ever even get started.

of the many things keeping me awake at night these days, add one new item to the list.

why, oh world, do little kid pants suddenly stop coming with elastic waistbands once they hit the size 2T? why, exactly, does a not-quite-two year old need to be wearing narrow, slim-hipped jeans that cling just like i wish mine would an Olsen twin’s? is everyone else’s offspring sprouting into a lithe, willowy, diaper-less supermodel the minute those 18-24 month sizes start getting a bit snug?

you hear what i’m really saying here, right? is Oscar the only husky little short-legged munchkin in Canada whose cloth-diapered derriere still requires cute little bubble-shaped baby pants?

am i emasculating and infantilizing him by being blind to his need for big-boy streamlined skinny jeans?

or is the consumerist marketing fashion machine just evil? is Pampers designing for Old Navy these days? cause sending O out to daycare with half his diaper hanging out the back of waistband and his cuffs rolled up to his fat little knees seems to be the only option available to us once he’s outgrown those last wee tot rags we’re still squeezing him into.

i mean, dudes. he’s not even two. he doesn’t need tight back pockets to slip his pack o’ smokes into, now does he? he just needs some fanny in his freaking pants.

dignity, folks. dignity in children’s clothing. where do i buy that?

we were supposed to go across the great puddle to Nova Scotia this weekend…but we didn’t.

we stayed home. in the rain. no first birthday party for Oscar’s baby cousin, no Cirque du Soleil, no hanging out at the beach on a real-live blog date with the achingly sweet and salty Kate…no gathering with some Belgian beer and our boys, big and little, corporeal and longed-for. no snibbling at the new baby softness of tiny Ben, no watching O chase irrepressible Evan. nope. too much fun for us.

we went to the local Sears though, in the kind of traffic this city only ever sees on a rainy Saturday during the heighth of tourist season. whee.


Oscar’s ears or teeth are bugging him and he’s been tippy and cranky and demanding. we’ve just switched him from cow’s milk to soy, in an effort to see whether or not the folk wisdom about dairy and ear infections holds any water…certainly ear infection #1 cropped up just around the time i stopped nursing him and switched him over to cow’s milk, but that was also more or less the time he started going to the sitter’s full time, so really it’s just a shot in the dark, a “hope this will be the healthier choice in the long run” kinda semi-grounded decision that my parenting seems to be rife with. that my living is rife with, now that i mention it…

O’s sitter, who is lovely and kind and apparently far more organized and even-tempered than i will ever be in this life but also has, on some days, six babies and a four year old under her care, mentioned when we picked him up on Thursday for the long weekend that he’s gotten grabby, that he’s not responding to “no,” that he’s fixating on stuff and taking it from the other kids and howling if he doesn’t get sole possession AND NOW.

okay, the emphasis on the last bit is mine. ’cause he’s gotten like this at home, too. and it bites. this morning i introduced him to crayons for the very first time. he wasn’t so keen on their colouring powers, but wow, did he ever want to HOLD each crayon in his grubby little mitts, with no other human hand hovering nearby.

my child has become a junior hostile takeover on short legs.

so i thought, well, he’s growing up as an only child thus far, and so he doesn’t have a lot of experience with sharing or needing to be considerate of others, maybe, other than with Dave and i…and Nannie…and the cat…but clearly these aren’t working. then i had a moment of genius.

we would buy him a doll.

it would be a small creature he could tend to. we could use it to talk about feelings, and he could snuggle it in his arms, and feed it his empty bottle in the morning instead of stuffing the nipple in my mouth (which is cute and all, but i’m not that into soy milk). i was right into this doll, though, right away. i figured at worst it would give him something other than my head to bang on when he wants to identify eyes and noses with his powerful, pointy, not-quite coordinated sticky little fingers.

except, of course, we live in a small city with limited retail availability, and had i actually had coffee before this brainwave short-circuited all my reasoning i would have realized that the chances of finding this wonder-doll anywhere in a town Dave likes to refer to as “this place you brought me too” were slim to none.

because we’re snobs, you see.

i say we, though our snobberies are separate. Dave’s is quite defensible, especially in light of the current massive toy recall. he’d like to buy something local-ish, or handmade, or something about which we could research the conditions of production and be reasonably sure that the people who worked on it were paid a decent wage and were over twelve and preferably not lead paint afficionados.

myself, i think all this is quite right and i want it too. except, well, i want a doll i can like way more. i want a humanoid doll, kinda cute, something more person-like than his cadre of stuffed animals, something smaller than he is. i’m not into the hyperreal “Baby Sucks and Pees” variety of doll, because to me, they do little to inspire love and appeal in small children. i also don’t really want some wool sock with eyes sewn on from the local Farmer’s Market, bless its granola heart, because…well…he already has those and they’re not doing the trick. we looked for a Cabbage Patch doll for him last Christmas, during a brief bee-in-my-bonnet i had about encouraging him to be nurturing…but came up empty. locally, humanoid baby dolls are really only sold in any quantity at Walmart, which we try to avoid like the plague…but i hypocritically and happily sucked up all my semi-grounded qualms and went, only to discover that all the boy Cabbage Patch dolls at our one local purveyor had absolutely terrible names. i am not buying Oscar a little friend who comes with the handle Blayden Mortimer…i wanted to be able to pick one with a nice name. couldn’t. left.

i have a son. he may only own one or two dolls in his childhood, given the gendered nature of consumerism these days, and the implicit pressures that places on children and parents to toe a line. i am likely to be spared the decision of whether to buy Oscar Bratz, and that’s just dandy. but what i do buy him, this doll…i want to enjoy this purchase…it’s special to me. and i want it to be special to him. i whiled away hours of childhood interacting with my dolls, enacting life scenes with them, exploring love and anger and kindness and all sorts of crap that’s lost now to memory but is still there, part of the masonry of the person i became. i want this doll not to poison him and preferably not to come from the sweat of another child’s brow, but mostly…i want it to be a doll he can invest love and trust in. i want it to be a friend.

and i want to enjoy buying/procuring/stealing him his damn friend. is that too much to ask?


the Sears trip today was our last local shot. they had a Bob the Builder doll about twice as big as O himself, and some Barbies. no go. plus Oscar screamed the whole trip home in the car, probably because i wouldn’t let him hold onto (read: rend into sharp plastic shards) the hangers of the cheap sleepers i picked up on sale while we were there. because, you know, a boy needs to clutch and destroy hangers when he has no dolly to play with…

oh internets, friends…i turn to you.

tips for a doll for a nearly-sixteen month old boy? an online hand-whittled order from Gepetto would be ideal…but all suggestions very welcome. except those that imply i might consider making the doll myself…see above note on sock puppets.

and…tips for helping same sixteen-month old boy become a little less, erm, acquisitive of all items within sight?

all advice gratefully received.

i was gonna make a pretty post showcasing all the kitschy stuff i’ve gathered and inherited and scored over lo, these many years, just because Mad asked…but then i remembered the yard sale i had when i left the country, and the flood that devoured the boxes stored in my mother’s basement while i was gone, and the divorce, and i realized…i don’t own that shit anymore.


the ceramic fish i painted in grade seven art class during my brief affair with the colour peach? gone to Jesus, fisher of men.

the gigantic red and white ashtray commemorating Canada’s centennial that i haggled relentlessly for at a flea market during my college years, because squishing roaches out on the faces of Canada’s early prime ministers was just too much fun to be passed up? now lost to history…though i suspect a long-ago ex-boyfriend of having snuck it into his box when we split at graduation.

the clown cookie jar that sat leering on top of the fridge all through my mother’s childhood and my own? crashed to the floor one day, finally, having outlasted its rightful life span by about four decades in a family this awkward.

the streamlined bowling shoes, circa 1962, Jetson-style, that i kept wistfully when my grandmother could no longer bowl because i secretly hoped my feet might shrink? given to Goodwill with good wishes, when i eventually came to terms with reality.

oh my treasures, my beautiful treasures…i miss youse.

i am the only child of an only child, and my home is filled with old things handed down, but few of them – to my surprise, when i really took stock and looked around – are nearly as kitschy or bohemian or just plain funny as i’d thought they were.

except, perhaps, this.


it’s a very, very old vase, about eighteen inches high and repaired in many places, which currently sits at the foot of our bed (safely on the floor, kinda). Oscar likes to drop things in it. Dave likes to hope it will shatter and disappear, leaving less garishness in its place. i just like it. it was a wedding gift given to my great-grandparents when they married in 1901, from the old couple across the street, who had been given it at their own wedding some indeterminate number of years before…apparently regifting ain’t new. my grandmother kept it in a place of honour, on a table at the foot of her staircase, for many, many years…where her many, many cats repeatedly knocked it from its perch and into pieces on the floor. it’s worth little, monetarily, despite its age…and yet i value it. i find it cheerful, and odd, and kind of beautiful. i will carry it with me through my life, if i can, and bestow it upon Oscar or some sibling of his like a noble albatross some day, even if he comes to see it with his father’s aesthetic eye.

i wanted to show it to you…but i know, it really isn’t kitsch, per se, except to Dave and his philistine ilk.

on that front, unbelievably, i got nothin’. if you’d only asked ten years ago, Mad…oh, i was rich, i swear! but time, the devourer, has eaten my kitsch.

i got to get me to some yard sales, clearly.

Oscar got a package in the mail yesterday…a belated birthday box all the way from Korea.

Miffy has come to our house! Miffy for mommy Oscar!

oh, the rabbity goodness.

in the box: a Miffy doctor set (with a patient chart in Korean, no less…tres chic). Miffy growth chart. Miffy teezle (way cool, kinda confusing). Miffy wallpaper border. Miffy markers. Miffy puzzles.

mommy Oscar is over the moon.

daddy is a little hesitant about the Miffy wallpaper…because i want to put it in OUR room.

okay, mommy has a little Miffy problem fetish. and Auntie Sarah is enabling me…mwah ha ha. :)

so, how long do you think i can get away with pretending this stuff belongs to O? and how long do you think it’ll be before the neighbourhood kids start, erm, suggesting that perhaps Miffy the rabbit is not the coolest accoutrement for my little boy?

damn gender police.

i should really get a Miffy sign to protest with…

my final word on the mommy-identity adjustment stuff…

i love Nancy White.

not the very cool online community guru Nancy White who’s chairing the community track at BlogHer this summer, though (ahem…loud bragging name-dropping-by-proxy alert) Dave co-presented with her in NY last fall and says i’d love her too. and i’d love to love her, but July in Chicago, alas…i won’t be loving her in person. not this year.

nope, i mean Nancy White, “Queen of the Topical Song” and CBC darling from my fine home fishbowl province of PEI, whom i have never met because even moderately semi-famous people don’t actually stay here, they need to work after all.. (only those of us with a penchant for government patronage, government handouts, or eternally opening and closing fishplant work are actually still left here. but we really like to claim our daughters and sons who’ve gone away and made good, therefore i am obliged by clan blood oath and such to mention that Nancy is from here. or at least associated with here. on her website she’s a little vague about her actual origins, probably to confuse cousins who would otherwise hang off her like barnacles looking for money).

so anyway. Nancy, in her fine and very funny semi-satirical children’s album Momnipotent (which i think should be a required baby shower gift) sings my pain. i suspect she thought it was her pain, but whatever. we’re both from PEI. we’re probably related.

and i was going to share her with you, but she’s not on youtube. and the CBC archives (for those of you outside our fair northern borders, think a cross between the BBC and NPR, on a good day) are scarier than Island drivers. instead then, i offer a few lines for you from “Leonard Cohen’s Never Gonna Bring My Groceries In”…

(if you hum along to the tune of “Famous Blue Raincoat” you’ll be in the right ballpark)
I was listening to music as I swept the kitchen floor.
I was needing a shampoo and I was pushing 44.
And I had one of those flashes that hits you now and then
About experience manqué and certain sadly missing men.
And I realized in horror as I stroked my double chin,
Leonard Cohen’s never gonna bring my groceries in!

I’ve a husband and a baby, there’s another on the way.
And, like Leonard, I am aching in the place I used to play.
But really, I’m enjoying all this domesticity.
Hey, I never have to deal with Warren Beatty’s vanity.
But there is one thing I regret, and my regret is genuine.
Leonard Cohen’s never gonna bring my groceries in.

Oh Leonard and me, together we’d be great.
Strumming our guitars and singing songs while it got late!
(Well, not TOO late, these days I kind of fold about eleven.
But for a little while it would be heaven, heaven, heaven.)
Oh, Leonard and me, we’d be so decadent.
We’d look at all those bottles, wonder where the wine all went.
(Well frankly I can’t drink it anymore, my head can’t take it.
But I know me and Leonard we could make it, make it.)

Nancy claims, in the liner notes to the song, that she wrote it at eleven months pregnant. i feel better now. thanks to all of you, and Nancy, i feel less alone. normal, even. with my medium hair, and my wistful confusion about how i got here, and my contentment with the frumpishness of it all.

back to your regularly scheduled programming, and me dreaming about my minivan.

so, i have this new kinda blog crush on Slouching Mom, whose site i finally made it to after seeing her comments on other sites for…well…about as long as i’ve been skanking around on other sites, basically. make that, like, a month. i’m a slow adopter when it comes to using new technologies to their fullest.

in fact, i’m a slow adopter – and adapter – across the board. particularly in my musical tastes. i have a deep affinity for music from the decade of my birth that is rarely matched even by people who were making music then. i’m pretty fond of the decade previous, too, and can tread water into the decade following. but once you get into anything released post-1984, when i hit eighth grade, i’m sunk. i’m hopeless. i’m a relic, replete with an ostrich head stuck in a sand dune, shouting “i can’t hear you!” and “turn that new-fangled crap down, will ya?!?”

this unburdening of my musical fogey-tude is relevant, i swear.

it’s relevant because when i finally got over to Slouching Mom’s site, i discovered that she does not, in fact, have or advocate bad posture…at least so far as i can tell, though i’m quite into bad posture myself…but rather has cleverly titled her blog “Slouching Towards 40.” this is, i think, a wicked, charming, funny allusion to the bleakly beautiful Yeats poem “Slouching Towards Bethlehem”, and it makes me like her very much.

now, Slouching Mom tagged me for the music meme where i’m supposed to tell you all about the seven top songs on my ipod, if i had an ipod. which she doesn’t either, which is reassuring…but her songs nonetheless include artists like Jack Johnson and Fiona Apple. and i think of these as uber-hip choices, very current. they’re from a point in time after which i grew breasts. i’m feeling a bit outed here, folks.

when it comes to music, i live in a bucket. which is like under a rock, except more confined.

a few years ago, when Dave & i co-managed a fledgling English expat website in a small-ish city in Korea, i started a music column called “Bon’s bucket.” in my bucket, i had great intentions of going backwards through the alphabet, waxing euphoric about bygone musicians whose tunes made me weak at the knees. i started with Warren Zevon and Neil Young, tagged Johnny Cash as X since he happened – god rest his crooked little heart – to die the week i got to that otherwise awkward letter, continued through W which had to be shared between Tom Waits and Lucinda Williams, crowned the Velvet Underground – of course – with V, and fizzled out around T since i couldn’t for the life of me decide between Traffic and Talking Heads.

so this should probably give you a sense of where the following list of tunes is going to take you. yep, straight back to about 1975. though i shall try to get as…erm…funky as i can without hurting myself.

thus (insert drum roll) the top seven playlist on my record player computer:

1. Tangled Up in Blue – Bob Dylan (though i quite like the Indigo Girls version too…it’s from the ’90’s! practically new!)

2. Case of You – Joni Mitchell

3. Just a Memory – Elvis Costello

4. Lakes of Pontchartrain – The Be Good Tanyas (it’s from this decade! of course, the song is traditional and could have been written in 1875 for all i know…but the actual recording is 21st century. i’m sooo cool.)

5. A New England – Billy Bragg (or the Kirsty McColl version, both rock…)

6. Life on Mars – David Bowie

7. Hallelujah – Leonard Cohen (and no,while Rufus Wainwright, Jeff Buckley, and kd lang all have fabulous versions of this…i’m a purist here. only Leonard makes me hear the broken part of the Hallelujah, babee).

oh, and then there’s The Mountain Bed, which was recorded by Billy Bragg & Wilco to lyrics written by Woody Guthrie back in the day…yep, that’s gotta squeeze in there too. maybe one of the other songs can squeeze a cheek over and share its chair?

i know there’s other great stuff out there. i really got into Iron & Wine a few years ago, thanks to dear friends of ours who were saddened to see my taste atrophy on the vine, so to speak, and i know the words to a couple of Flaming Lips songs. i have listened to the Arcade Fire and liked them. i do realize it ain’t 1979, or whatever.

i’m just not convinced that that’s an entirely good thing. this is a very cozy bucket i’m in. great atmosphere, nice shag rug…why would a girl move on? :)

maybe the rest of you know why. this meme’s been going for awhile, but i don’t think Daffado, WhyMommy at Toddler Planet, Mayberry Mom, S at Bull in a China Shop, Cyn, Lady M, or Her Bad Mother have chimed in. the invite’s open. i figure my taste makes anybody else look downright hip.

yep, a new holiday. i made it myself, from scratch. :)

i woke up yesterday morning with two – yep, not one, count ’em, two – massive pimples festering under my tender skin. these are not minor blemishes. these two are nasty and out for vengeance.

my attention was first drawn to the new tenants of my visage when Oscar managed to poke and scratch both of them during his morning feed…ah, tender moment. nothing like jolts of pain galloping across one’s face to really get the day underway. beats espresso…who knew?

since their debut thirty-six hours ago, the zit twins have personally absorbed all the nutrients i’ve consumed…which is kind of a bonus on the diet front, but not nearly as physically beguiling as it might sound. they’ve both tripled in size. one of them is competing with my nose for face space.

now, vanity hasn’t been at the top of my personal list of deadly sins since Oscar was born…days go by with me in the same torn jeans and smudgy glasses, and my hair is an overgrown straw bale that gets washed, but never really styled. i have a rotating collection of sweaters and hoodies that i like to pretend hide spit-up and my belly pooch, though deep down i suspect they ain’t fooling anyone. i’m rocking the mom look, day-in, day-out. Dave politely ignores this fact, and Oscar still smiles at me, so…who cares?

well, apparently, to my great surprise, i do. i had to laugh at myself this morning when i looked in the mirror at my two big ol’ pimples, and just like a thirteen-year-old, recoiled in horror. “oh my god!” i squealed in my head. “i can’t, like, go anywhere like this!”

then i remembered. right…i don’t have to. in fact, it’s -25 degrees again with the bloody wind chill factored in, and the car’s at work with Dave, so…i can’t. babies don’t do well with freezerburn.

sometimes housebound is a glorious gift, y’know?

so here i am, at home, in my hoodie and my grimy jeans, feeding chocolate to my zits and feeling, all in all, kinda thrilled to be a stay-at-home mom today. O is napping, bless his little heart, and the heat’s on and the cat’s in my lap, and as long as i don’t smile and stretch the swollen boil under my nose, i feel just great, and grateful. i think the blemishes even make me look younger, really…skin of junior high student, outfit of SAHM…all with a few wrinkles thrown in.  hell…it’s a niche look. worth celebrating with a holiday, friends.

so to all the rest of you out there in yoga pants or the same jeans you wore yesterday, happy international stay-at-home-mom day. screw adult conversation. this really IS the good life.

though i would kinda like to get out and get some Noxzema or something before these suckas actually take over the rest of my facial real estate. they’re vicious.

the house is quiet.

er…the house is asleep, at least. the snoring beside me and the purring from the corner chair are both quiet and rhythmic, comforting. the rain taps at our tin roof. the furnace drones on, two floors down.

an occasional peep squawks from the baby monitor as a small body tries to practice rolling over in its sleep. the two soft cylinders of that fine but nameless positioner thingy that keeps babies nominally in place in their beds are all that guard against Oscar’s nightly transition into a heap at the bottom of his crib. as said transition tends to result in him scaring himself awake, loudly, i wish multitudes of blessings and a watertight patent upon the wise folk who invented the thingies. and i wish O sweet, stationary dreams.

he will not be stationary too much longer now, my baby boy. he is about to launch himself into the world under his own steam, and the mechanics of how are the major focus of his days, these days. he rolls, though still erratically…and laughs every time he finds himself suddenly turtled on his back. when placed on his belly, he crawls round in a pivot like a little clock, crop circles of drool marking his swath. this migration creates crying, not laughing…apparently his goals are more linear than artistic.

we’ll be hightailing it out to buy those baby gates any day now, i think.

it will be strange, after all these months of knowing with confidence that Oscar can be located wherever Oscar was last put down, to find him suddenly mobile. funny how many invisible umbilical cords remain long after birth, still linking us. funny how bittersweet they are to sever, too, these vestiges of our once-vital physical connection. soon, he will be able to walk away from me. this baffles me…it is beyond my imagination. and yet, like all the milestones he’s already sailed past, it will soon simply be normal. Oscar the independent. such is the journey we are on, i suppose. what wonder.

but while O is a wild adventurer by day, at least in effort, by night he is still very much the same magical, feral, snuggly creature he has been since birth. i have just left him, laid him down after his “dream feed”…we are Baby Whisperer adherents in this regard, and give him his last feed at night without really waking him. this too, i will miss when he outgrows it.

the dream feed is a spy mission, of sorts. i sneak into Oscar’s room by the light of the nightlight, trying not to trod on the squeakier floorboards. i scoop the warm, wriggly little body from his crib, and we settle in the rocking chair room, me sssshhhing gently, him rooting. i nurse him – we’re still hanging on on that front – but usually bring a warmed bottle in as well. my milk supply never fully rebounded from the pill experiment, and if he comes to the end of the milk, he wakes up. so i bring plenty. and then, we rock, and he feeds, and i spy, with my little eye.

in the almost-dark, i see an impossibly round head, slant shadows of eyes, and tiny hands that flutter white and warm along my skin. his complexion, still unmarked by the scars we all get from simply living, reflects the light. with his face relaxed, he is ethereal as a baby alien. when he roots, though, he is fierce, a suckling pig feeding with his whole being.he smells milky, and faintly sweaty, like bedclothes. he grabs at my shirt, my flesh. he lets out satisfied little sighs. he grunts, and i shhh, and wrap my hand around a wide, fat little foot encased in sleeper, and i try to commit the scene to memory in surreptitious photographs of the mind. this is my baby. this is what i’ve been given. we are here. this is now.

the first time i read Robert Munsch’s beautiful tear-jerker Love You Forever, i was a college student, volunteering in a local kindergarten in hopes of convincing the Bachelor of Education acceptance committee that i was fit to work with children. i picked the book randomly from a shelf. it is, for those of you who may have been living under a children’s literature rock these past fifteen or twenty years, the story of spy journeys like mine. a mother sneaks into her sleeping son’s room to rock him, in his infancy, then in his childhood and teenager years, and throughout his life. in her old age, it is he who goes to her and cradles her. a simple refrain of abiding love between parent and child runs through the book:

i’ll love you forever
i’ll like you for always
as long as i’m living
my baby you’ll be.

i made it about three pages into the story that first time i read it before i burst out bawling. kindergarten students regarded me hesitantly. undaunted, i kept reading…and collapsed into complete emotional pudding. “i’ll love you forever, i’ll like you for always…” i choked, beaming, tears and snot streaming down my face, “as long as i’m living, my baby you’ll be.” i thought it was a truly lovely book. the children, who must now be teenagers somewhere, likely thought it was the scariest thing that had ever happened to them. one of them, dear child, did eventually fetch me a Kleenex.

i have never yet successfully made it to the end, aloud, without crying.

but beauty is often close to sorrow, and to tears. i learned last summer, listening to a CBC special in the dark wake of days after Finn died, that Munsch actually wrote the book after he and his wife lost two children to stillbirth. i think of Finn, and those children in whose memory Love You Forever was written, a lot these nights while i sit rocking Oscar in my arms.

we have our babies, as babies, for such a short time. even the healthy ones, the ones we are blessed enough to assume we’ll see through into their childhoods, and teenage years, and adulthood…the time we get, as parents, to sneak into their rooms and scoop them up and rock them is finite…and not nearly long enough.

the word “baby” in Munsch’s refrain, i think, is spy code…it means precious one; beloved. that is, so far as i can figure, the meaning of the slightly odd story of the mommy who stalks her adult son’s sleep – just that no matter how big babies may grow, or even how short their lives and growth may sadly be – they remain with us, loved always as they are in those first moments.

and as long as i’m living, i’ll remember Oscar’s sweet round face in the dark tonight. i’ve got the mental pictures.

my mom and i cleaned the baby’s room this weekend.

or, well…she cleaned, and scrubbed, and re-arranged, bless her heart. i mostly held a rag in one hand and waved it in the direction i thought things ought to go. one of the secret advantages of having spent all those weeks on bedrest is that nobody expects me to do much in the way of work these days. admittedly, i do get winded folding laundry, so their lowered expectations aren’t entirely unrealistic. but i still feel terribly pampered, like i’m getting away with something.

the problem with me supervising Cinderella Mom’s kind Easter gift of organization, though, was that i had no clue what half the things in the baby’s room were actually for. finding a place for baffling pastel cloths is not the simple task it might appear to be, particularly when they appear to have magically materialized in the nursery-to-be without instructions.

while i was away in the hospital for two months, kind friends and family (particularly my generous and enthusiastic ma-in-law…this baby has some keen grandmothers) came bearing gifts. many gifts. lovely gifts, but mysterious gifts. little blankies, and littler blankie-looking things, and plastic-covered blankie-shaped things that might be mattress pads…and a lot of other soft items, but not one of them with a training manual.

i like to think of myself as an intelligent person…i play a mean game of trivia, and am in an ongoing quest to actually figure out the internal evil workings of the CRA (Revenue Canada by any other name). but i find myself addled by infant products. i’ve managed to get my cloth diapers (which i am able, miraculously, to distinguish from the other square cotton blanket-ish things populating the nursery) all prewashed and softened, but the kitten hasn’t stayed still long enough to actually let me practice putting one on someone. and i seem to have six different baby butt creams sitting on the changing table Dave’s parents lovingly handcrafted – but no clue as to how to distinguish between them. i live in secret fear that i will get this baby home, bring him downstairs to display to visitors, and discover that i’ve got him swaddled in a changing pad and wearing diaper rash lotion in lieu of lipbalm.

i suspect, though, that i can’t be entirely alone in this discovery of ineptitudes i didn’t know i possessed. and i suspect the changing pad will be the least of my worries, given a couple of weeks. so…this Wednesday night, April 19th, 7 pm EST (8 pm Atlantic, my time), the crib will host its first live webcast, using Skype.

topic – things you wish you’d known before your baby came home with you. identifying products, choosing good ones, but also what newborns actually need and do, what supports new parents actually find helpful, how you felt in the early days after the birth…stuff like that.

how to listen – under the “webcast” heading on the top right of the page, you’ll find two links. the top one, “text chat room,” will take you directly to the chat, which will be open all during the webcast. questions, comments, and any problems with the live audio feed can be addressed in the chat. the audio itself can be accessed by clicking the lower link, “listen live,” which will take you to the audio stream – instructions for listening to the webcast will be there.

all welcome.

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