30 May 2008

friday, and a little bit about breasts

to do list


what we did


Yes, that is my second child sitting on top of the table.

And "bra" is the last item on the list. This week, my clinic's monthly medical talk was on mammography. The speaker showed a slide of the effectiveness of mammograms in dense breast tissue. The current debate is whether we should or shouldn't recommend yearly screening before age 50. His point was that comparing the 10 years before 50, to the 20 plus years after does not give an accurate picture of the gradual increase in effectiveness of mammography- and decrease in breast density. He advocates screening annually starting at 40, as does the American Cancer Society. For a low risk woman, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Academy of Family Physicians recommend getting a mammogram every 1 to 2 years between 40 and 50 and starting annually at 50.

His talk was clear and persuasive, but when he showed the slide of 5-year increments of declining tissue density, all I could see was my unavoidable future of sagging breasts. Cancer? Maybe yes, maybe no. Sagging? Guaranteed! An informal survey after the lecture showed 99% of women in the audience had the same thought. I can eat my antioxidants, wear a seat belt, and get my mammograms, but my future health is largely out of my hands. And I can't prevent gravity and time teaming up against me. So I'll get a new bra with a stronger foundation.

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28 May 2008

wake in love

12:30 am Turn off light. Pass out.

4:22 am
"Mama, I'm going to pull up the covers." Stella has taken her spot on the floor next to our bed and feels compelled to rip me from my detailed dream.

5:36 am
"Momm-ee!" Otto calls from what should be the kids (plural) room. I consider letting him fuss a little. Stretch him closer to a better 6 am wake time. Then I remember Stella needs her sleep and his cries might wake her. So I go to him. He rises to my arms and heaves us toward Stella's bed. Her soft, empty twin futon on the floor. We snuggle down and I offer him the breast. Shifting. Nursing. Covering my free nipple from his twiddling fingers. And we fall asleep.

6:14 am
I am attacked by full mouth kisses. Big Otto kisses on my chin, my lower lip. Smacking noises and small wet teeth. And I am laughing. This is so much better than a cat tail or dog breath in my face. And just as quickly, Otto hops off the bed, is padding out the door, looking for "Papai?!"

Yes, Stella's spot on the floor. It was a threat at first. Our queen mattress was feeling small and Otto had finally gone into Stella's room. We wanted our space. Our nighttime, grownup space. So I said it, if you want to come and sleep with us you need to go on the floor. I put down some padding and blankets, thinking she'd never do it. Of course she slept on the floor. Night after night. Every night since then. And now I feel like a horrible mother, with her preschooler's head sometimes wedged under our bed or her legs on the bare wood across the room- having tossed herself there in the night. I have begged her to come up into our bed. "I like it on the floor!" When she comes from her room at 3 or 4 or 5 am, I have lured her with warm covers, the space between us, a better pillow. "I like it on the floor!"


Our kids move in and our of our space on their own schedule, usually before or after we are ready. I have almost weaned Otto. Our morning nursing is all we have. When he messes around with his free hand and tugs at my other nipple, I want the next time to be that last time. Then I remember I will never nurse another child. I am done. I came so far from the first letdowns (no pun intended), that it is really hard to let go now. I don't have to wean him, but we're planning a no-kid-night-away next month. Our first EVER since Stella was born. Nighttime, grownup space, you know?

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22 May 2008

Love, And a Little Peace


I couldn't help but scatter him with hearts.

I'm sharing this love after I just got some love myself- a 15 minute chair massage at the grocery store. I almost walked out, thinking of all the papers and laundry and cooking that were waiting at home. But I waited my turn and now my shoulders are a little less attached to my ears.

Sometimes I AM really smart.
Sometimes I can receive the love.

Happy love thursday. Now go give yourself a little .
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20 May 2008

clean it out and it fills again


this is where i am right now

and the house is quiet
for a moment
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18 May 2008

why i love oakland #1


saturday morning coffee run
shiny harley parked on the sidewalk
heat reflecting off the pavement
two women having having breakfast curbside: crew cuts, black leather, tattoos, black boots.

stella and i exit past their table: in skirts, matching baseball caps, pink!, flip flops. the woman with the most tattoos smiles and waves at stella. we pass the motorcycle.

"is that a motorcycle?"
"yes, it belongs to the women in the restaurant"
"which women?"
"remember the one who waved on our way out?"
"the one with the helmet on the table?"
"yes, the one with the drawings on her arms?"
"drawings? i don't know... the one who was holding her fork to her mouth and eating?"
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15 May 2008

Ready or Not, Here it Comes!

Rex didn't even look back as he ran when I has started to walk. And that's how it is here now. They're moving forward whether I'm ready or not. On the way home from school Stella was saying something in her seat.
"Nothing, Mama"
"I couldn't hear you, Sweetie. What were you saying?"
"I wasn't talking to you, Mama. I was talking to myself."
"Oh, you were?" you're not four yet, do you do that already?
"Yeah! You thought I was talking to you?!" and then she laughs at me

Mother's Day was wonderful. Not because of the most beautiful earrings in the world that Stella picked out all by herself- guided to the right store by Augusto. Not because Stella and I shared a pedicure chair for the first time. Not because of the sweet goodbye of Otto's last bedtime nursing. Mother's Day was wonderful because it wasn't all that important to me. I wasn't waiting for some big acknowledgment from my husband, some huge chunk of time to myself. I receive the gifts of motherhood daily.

Andrea at Superhero Designs asked "What are you willing to receive?"

Since my immediate reaction: Massage!, I have been mulling.

I am willing to receive gifts I have previously refused or made me feel guilty:

help to my car from the grocer
comments on how great i look after two kids
day care in excess of my working hours
one extra hour of morning sleep

I am willing to receive love.

I am willing to receive parenting feedback from others.

I am willing to receive the good health that comes from exercise, vegetables, and sleep.

I liked this hard question. Now I'll pass it on. What are you willing to receive?

11 May 2008

I'm a Mother


pregnant with stella

stella 1 day old

4 days before otto is born


hours after otto's birth

i still can't believe it
happy mother's day

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05 May 2008

Taking out the Garbage

Ours is a multilingual household. English. Portuguese. Bark. Babble. Silent Treatment. Thank goodness we have a translator.

Otto squawks and demands, "Bawbaw." Stella says, "Otto wants milk."

At the back door, Rex lays down with a humpf. Stella says, "Rex wants to go out."

Augusto says to the family, "Vamos pelo parque?" Stella says, Mama, let's go to the park!"

I speak in Portuguese daily, so she should know I understand it. Perhaps it's so bad she figures I need help? But no. Augusto says, "I'll pick up Stella today. I think we'll go to the park and then get some ice cream." Stella says, "Mama, after school Papai is taking me to the park. And then we're getting ice cream!"

Em... that was all in English. She's translating one parent to the other. Clearly she's tuned into our latest high tension-low conversation phase. We aren't understanding each other often enough. Last week, after Augusto laid off several employees, he was edgy. I was maxed out on giving him room. He said something that now I can't remember. He offended me. I started to bitch, "I can't believe you said that. It was so." I stopped, not wanting to bicker in front of the kids. "Rude." I looked at Stella and she was staring at me, eyebrows up. Like, yeah, I said it, that word came out of my mouth, and I just completed your sentence, ha ha. After I recovered from the shock of her repetition/understanding- it didn't matter- I felt the horror of seeing the real impressions we make. Then I had a little inner peace. She saw it too. Isn't that one of the benefits of family, ganging up on each other?

But usually it's the routine words that get lost. The following conversation has been started by either parent.

"I took out the garbage."
"I took out the garbage."

Dinner, bath, bed routine.

"Did you take out the garbage?!"

It's misunderstanding, sleep deprivation, ignoring, and simple absentmindedness. Do we really have time for a conversation about garbage? Aren't we happier, more suited, making plans for a fall trip, selecting a date night? But those conversations don't happen either.

"We should think about using our frequent flier miles in October."
"Where do you want to go?"

Dinner, bath, bed routine.

"Did you take out the garbage?"

01 May 2008

Wake Up, Idiot, She's 3

There is a shift. It's not Spring, but a developmental leap. Stella is less obnoxious. This is a major breakthrough. We're enjoying each other more often. After months of butting heads on everything from the shape and quantity of cereal in her bowl to who shuts the door/ gets the mail/ goes first up the stairs/ uses the potty, we are just having fun. I am happy in a way I can't quite explain. I really worried we were doomed to a strained mother-daughter life, like I have known at times, and my mother too. And friends and colleagues and strangers. Of course, we probably are still doomed. Who, really, can escape the great fates?

For now, though, I'll bask in her soft hair on my shoulder, her gigantic smiles when I make a joke or spin her around. She says Please and Thank You. She understands that when she makes a choice between a juice box and a fruit strip, she actually can't have the other when she's done. And she's ok with it.

I will admit I'm less obnoxious too. I am playing more and screaming less. The screaming and nattering never got us out the door faster, it just raised my tension and made her sink her heels in deeper. Our play is longer and on her terms. Whack palm to forehead- I know, doesn't everyone know how to play with a preschooler? I obviously didn't. Her fantasy camping/ hotel/ swimming life is vast and repetitive. She wants me to understand it all. And all. And all.

Augusto was away for 8 days. It was in this time that I woke up. Email and reading and shitting alone just weren't options, so instead of bitching about it all week long, I did what I could. I enjoyed my kids. And as I gave myself this little gift, I learned how much fun they are. So I don't really know if she changed, or I did, I just know I feel better.


There are all kinds of "teachable moments." We can't guess at someone's desires and expect to always be right. Stella and Otto are real chums. Yesterday he was pushing her around the kitchen. He is very strong for his 20 pounds. It bothers me when he pushes other kids.

I intervened, "Be gentle, Otto!"

And Stella surprised me. "No Mama, I LIKE when he pushes me!'

What do I know?