31 July 2008

Love: The Gift of Sleep

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There was a time when waking at 5:30 was normal. Never acceptable, but usual. That was too often in the first year of both kids. Longer winter nights and increasing age of the kids stretched wake-up time, but not often beyond 6:45. 6:45 is awesome. Awesome in my new view of the world. The problem is that if I'm not sleeping in, my body prefers 7:30. For a very long time, I woke early six days a week. Sundays were my day to sleep. Sometimes I lingered until 9. I bitched about it so much that every so often, Augusto woke to avoid my wrath. Then my second maternity leave ended. There was no way I could be up with the baby at night, get up in the early morning, and work all day. On my three workdays, Augusto got up with the early riser, and I slept. On the other days I rose first then tried to nap.

Then I discovered the hidden benefit of weaning. I left the morning feed as the last, so after the last time, Augusto did the final weaning. After a ten day stretch, I tried to get up with Otto, but he clawed at my chest and cried for 45 minutes. I couldn't hack it.

It's been six weeks since we nursed, and our household has done a schedule switcheroo. Augusto gets up with one or both kids, and I sleep. Except on Sundays, when he gets his turn. It has become a blissful, miraculous norm. Today I only had a half day at work, so when Otto sounded off earlier than usual, at 5:40, I offered to get him. Augusto protested, then thanked me for doing what has apparently become his job.

This is LOVE.

26 July 2008

Never Prune While Drunk

That's my best gardening advice. Even if you think the job can't wait. That you won't have time tomorrow or any other day in the foreseeable future. I know when something needs pruning, it needs pruning. It's like a haircut that can't wait: it's 11pm and you're in the bathroom- optimistic with the scissors. You know how well that usually goes. I'll say it again. Don't prune if you're drunk.

Even a glass and a half can cloud my judgment these days. We had an unusually warm evening in Oakland. We finished dinner on the deck and watered. I like watering with a glass of wine and the family milling about. It's my little suburban dream. I can leave the rest of the suburbs where they belong, but a hose in one hand and a drink in the other is my bliss.

I digress.

Watering one spot leads to another, leads back to the veggie garden. Which leads me to wonder why the beans are still seedlings and the tomatoes didn't flower with vigor. And then it hits me. The tree mallow is twelve feet tall and that's too big. Yeah, it's a tree mallow. It's shading the beds. And with the local water restrictions, I have watered less. No time like the present! It's light out at 7:30! The family is fed and happy. I'll prune!

It happened just like that, I swear. The pruning wasn't so bad, aesthetically. Or at least I think in my current state. The peripherals were problematic.

The Oh, Shit!
Why am I pruning during a drought? Don't I usually prune in the winter rains? We prune to fill out the plant. Is this best for the mallow? Oh, the flowers are so pretty; but I'm killing them.

The Dead Babies
And then Otto runs to me, showing me the "Ma-mos!" The first small, green tomatoes. Something must have come from my mouth, because Stella asks, hopefully, from 40 feet away, "What did Otto do?!" I show her and she smirks. She did the exact same thing the Summer of 2006. I tell her so.

The Inspiration
Never prune while drunk. It's a post title in that instant. My error composted into creativity. Not bad, actually.

The Fallout
I turn off the spigot (does anyone else love that word and never use it?). I skip to the laptop, knowing it's been days since my last risky post. I need to bury it a bit. And I type what you started reading moments ago. (Your moments are hours to me. We did a bath-milk-bed in between sentences.) Oh. And I type, and Otto moves flotsam from a little ceramic tray to my old keyboard. Screws. Pins. Beads. A shoe charm.

Maybe my best gardening advice is my best parenting advice. Don't try to do too many things at once. You never know what will come of it- or what the toddler will do while you're absorbed in the distorted glory of your words and ideas thrown to the world.

21 July 2008

One True Bio

My Monday morning was the usual. Breakfast Dodge Ball with Otto (he is messy and creative with his meals), two drop offs, and then I sat at the computer in my jog bra. Again. I have this idea if I put on the boob corset in the morning, I'm one step closer to running when I'm kid-free. But I tweaked one vertebrae before I even left the house. It was one those incredibly athletic moves- talking on the phone. I waited it out and worked on my bio for some poems that are soon to be published in mamazine. I finished and sent it off, just in time to shower for work.

Here's what it should have read:

"Kim is a wanna-be daytime-TV-watching-housewife who should be running with the dog and/or folding laundry but is instead perfecting her three line bio. She pretends to feel guilty about the dog but secretly remembers that her childhood dogs went out back by themselves and were just fine. She also thinks that if she leaves the laundry, maybe her husband will fold it when he gets home. Kim is an expert procrastinator and mediocre cook, but she is a talented midwife and also gives great head. Her poems have appeared in less than 2% of her submissions. She lives in a cluttered house filled with fart jokes and abandoned water glasses with her handsome husband and gorgeous kids. When she's not stalling, she dreams of lounging on lawn furniture from Williams Sonoma while writing brilliant poetry."

Come on now, what's your real bio?


17 July 2008

Sometimes They Break My Heart

We play Birthday Party like we always do. Towel or blanket spread on the floor. A pile of clothes laid in the middle is our beautiful vanilla-berry-chocolate cake. And before the cake is cut with a hand-knife and served on open palms to oohs and ahhs, we sing in both languages and make a wish. I haven't told them the wish should be secret.

"What did you wish for?" I ask.

Stella blurts, "Two hundred of you!"

"Two hundred of me?" I can't believe it. She hides her face a little. "Yes."

"What did you wish for?" It's innocent enough. Such simple questions they ask.

"That I'll never yell at you again."

I couldn't lie because it was a big wish just like hers. I wanted her to know that my late for work irritation- PUT ON YOUR SHOES NOW, or whispered growl- QUIET. You'll wake your brother, are not the me I imagined. So I use every wish I can get, real candle or not. I close my eyes and think this is the day I become the mother I want to be. The mother they deserve. And her wish is real too. What shame I feel, she uses her wish for more of me.

Wait, child, I want to say, wait until I get my shit together and can act like a grownup, then you can have all you want.

14 July 2008

Mr. Disney was Inspired by Oakland's Fairyland





We aren't a Disney Family, like many we saw last week. We don't have the pin collection, we didn't go in the minute the park opened, and we did not pay $150 to make Stella into Cinderella- although it was tempting, I admit. Now if they could have guaranteed a princess who does housework and has good manners... But we did have 6 hours of fun in Fantasyland, Toontown, and the Princess Faire. Augusto had a conference, so I took the kids down for 2 nights.

What We Learned at Disney:

1. The Disneyland Hotel kiddie pool slide is really fun. There is no admission fee (other than a night at the hotel).

2. It is possible to get out of a 30 minute line 20 minutes into it for "I changed my mind" and a pee break. You just hop the barriers. And remember not to wear a skirt next time.

3. The $2.99 Toddler Meal is reasonable price- for 1/4 of a child. Try to look like a bratwurst-buying family and sneak snacks past the guards.

4. The Royal Coronation Ceremony is awesome, complete with a maypole. Waiting for a princess behind a wall isn't necessary for a 3 year old.

5. Disney does not acknowledge Oakland's Fairyland. They claim to be America's first theme park. Humpf.

6. Everyone told us to get out, nap and go back. They were right. It also works to skip going back in.

7. Wait 5 years before going again. Both kids will be tall and adventurous enough to go on the rides we're also into.

What I Learned While Flying Outnumbered by Children:

1. Give up all hope of staying clean and unsticky.

2. All people stare. Some get out of the way. Some offer to help. It is advisable to make the most of either.

3. The carry-on is only for kid stuff. Time to read? Don't make me laugh or I'll spill another liquid on my pants.

4. A day is only a day. How long was labor? I survived.

We got a pin after all (for our collection?). Stella calls it our Disney Remembership Pin. "It's to remember all you saw there."

06 July 2008

That's an Awful Thing to Call Your Husband

After he pulled the tube from my nose and throat, the urge to sneeze went away, but tears kept pouring from my right eye. "Early nodules," he said. People who haven't seen me in a while ask about my nasty cold. My speech therapist friend said I needed to see an ENT. I put it off, like most things I need to do for myself, and ALL things medical.

I have always wanted a husky voice. I have often listened to my answering machine messages with disbelief. Is that flat, nasal voice really mine? And then it happened. I woke up on December 23, 2007 with a Demi
Moore voice. No cold, no pain, just pure sex appeal. Neighbors, co-workers, and old friends have commented on how I could parlay my voice for work or other more interesting favors. Naturally, the voice has been lost on my husband. He's thankfully attracted to my other, somewhat more stable attributes. Like my face and boobs and personality. Somewhat more stable.

My voice is low because of little callous-like growths on my vocal cords. Why do I have vocal nodules? Because I abuse my voice. I don't whisper very often, so that means I scream too much. Don't jump to conclusions. I do scream at the kids more than I want, and we do yell across the house a fair amount. Is the dishwasher clean?! Can you grab a diaper?!

But it's partly the dog's fault. Honestly. We got Rex less than two months before my voice changed. And since then I have been intercepting the kids' favorite toys, our food, clothing, and shoes. "NO, REX! DROP IT! DROP IT!" I've been deflecting his enthusiastic attention. "OFF! GET DOWN!" Rex's trainer (we've only been twice.... and come to think of it really should go back) said the dog is not deaf. We should just speak to him and not repeat ourselves. But it will take him hearing "No" 1000 times before he understands it. Huh? Not in a row, I guess. So I know what to do, I just don't know how not to react.

Scenario Option 1:

Kid drops lovey that she can't sleep without. Dog lunges for it. "NO, REX! DROP IT! DROP IT!" Dog runs, so happy now that I'm playing with him. I lunge for his throat. He whizzes by. "REX!!! DROP IT YOU DAMN DOG!"

Scenario Option 2:

Kid drops lovey that she can't sleep without. Dog lunges for it. "N0, Rex. Drop it." Dog runs, so happy now that I'm playing with him. I stand still. I trust he won't actually rip apart this essential stuffed bunny who is already by some odd design only a blanket on the bottom half. "Rex. Sit. Drop it." Rex obeys and I return the slobbery but intact lovey to a very relieved little girl.

How do I cure vocal nodules? Voice rest. No whispering, no screaming and talk as little as possible. Yes, this is expected of me, the one who talks with patients all day, who got poor conduct marks in middle school -talks too much-, who has a preschooler that asks why at the end of every answer. It is a ridiculous order, but the concept of voice rest has got me thinking. Talking is so core to who I am, that I don't have any idea how to proceed other than to just go for it. Every day I venture into where I've never been, like today: two kids and a mess of finger paints. So I'll just shoot from the hip, as it were. Or from above as is the case here.


And as it is with most forced endeavors, I'm already learning. Changing for the better. Do I really want to teach my kids to scream at animals? Do I really need to explain etiologies and treatment recommendations in such detail? When I go to work tomorrow morning, can't I just say "OK, we went to a nice parade. How about you?" rather than getting into how we were late for the parade, and the guy who took pictures of Otto, and the fireworks too? Haven't I always wanted to be the one who waits for the rest of the group to voice their opinions and then shares mine? To be the girl in class who never says anything and then one day opens her mouth and what comes out is so insightful and smart that everyone stops to listen? Won't I benefit from more listening?

Here's my chance. The doctor told me stop yelling at the dog. "That's an awful thing to call your husband," said my friend when I told her the doctor's orders. There is room for much humor, but I believe there is also room for much, much more.