Sunday, December 25, 2005


The happiest baby ever on Christmas morning - sitting in a pile of paper.
Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukah

Friday, December 23, 2005


A week or so ago I asked the question about whether or not I actually needed to get Zac a Christmas present. I rationalized that I had given him life and that had to be good for at least a year or so on the "gift" front. Besides, if he really got uppity about the whole "gift" thing, I could just start naming my stretch marks after events in his life.

"And this one was your first Christmas...look at how it connects so nicely to the Thanksgiving stretch mark and Valentines day. It is so special. I can't wait to see what your 1st birthday one is going to look like!"

I also joked that any gift that I gave Zac at this point in his life wouldn't nearly be as interesting as the paper it came in. I, perhaps, gave birth to a billy goat. If you try and take paper away from him, ANY PAPER, he will cry like you hit him. He is really indiscriminate when it comes to his love of paper: toilet paper, paper towels, cardboard, and now, wrapping paper.

Here is the proof.
Look how happy he looks, chewing on the paper.

Thursday, December 22, 2005


I'm a work today and slightly bitter about the whole thing. I perhaps wouldn't feel quite as upset about working when my entire family has the day off except for that I slept on the world's most uncomfortable hide-a-bed last night (yes, Jen, you were right and now I'm really glad that I didn't volunteer to sleep on it 5 weeks after birth).

Now, I'm pretty laid back when it comes to beds. If I'm tired enough, you can show me a concrete subway bench and I'll think that it has potential as a resting location, at least until your arm goes numb from wedging it between your body and the concrete. I've slept on everything from bus and airplane seats, the dentist chair, my desk, and the ol' faithful ground. In my ger in Mongolia I had an exactly 5'5 bed. I'm approximately 5'4 3/4 inches. The top of my head and the tips of my toes always touched the headboard and footboard. Since it was built by the local carpenter for the "American" who was coming to town, I spent many nights in my ger wondering what they would have done if I taller "American" had come to live with them. Perhaps they would have just slept with their knees bent for two years. The guy I was dating at the time was 6'2 and I can imagine that he didn't sleep much when he visited me. Anyways, the bed that they provided for me wasn't made out a spring mattress, like we imagine when we say the word "bed", it was layers of blankets stacked on top of each other. If you want to try a fun experiment, but about three or four blankets on a wooden plank and sleep on it. You'll notice that about two or three in the morning, your hips will go numb if you sleep on your side or your the back of your head will start to ache if you sleep on your back. You don't want to know about sleeping on your stomach.

With all of that said, the bed that is in Zac's nursery managed to be both hard and lumpy. Just hard - I can deal with. Lumpy- maybe you could find a comfortable spot somewhere between the lumps if you burrow deeply enough. Hard and lumpy - you're screwed. Add in a six-month old and you're talking about one cranky woman the next day.

I can't wait for Christmas.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005


A joke from Grandpa:

For My Politically Correct Friends (READ: Everyone I know and love!):

"Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, our best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, transgender celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all. We also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2006, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great. Not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country nor the only America in the Western Hemisphere. And without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wishee. By accepting these greetings you are accepting these terms. This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It is freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for herself or himself or others, and is void where prohibited by law and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher. This wish is warranted to perform as expected within the usual application of good tidings for a period of one year or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first, and warranty is limited to replacement of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wisher."

For My Other Friends:

Here's wishing all of you Happy Holidays!

Zac and Grandpa came to my work today on their way to the airport to pick up Great Grandma. Last time G-ma saw Z he was three weeks old and I was barely walking upright. I'm looking forward to seeing her and possibly taking some more naps! Oh yeah!! NAPS - that is what I want for Christmas, just a nice, long rest.

Thursday, December 15, 2005


My ode to weaning:

About a month ago, in midst of all the "Share Your Holidays" chaos, I realized that I didn't have time to pump twice a day. Work was so crazy that my second pumping was occuring later and later until it finally started happening at home without too much discomfort. Now the flip side of having less breast milk is that you need more formula to keep the babe happily sucking all day long. I'm convinced that baby formula possibly has flecks of gold or crack cocaine inside for the prices that they are charging for it. "DHA & ARA enhanced" my ass. Let's just call it what it is - a rip off. See, as a favorite comic once said, "They f**k you in the drive through because they know that they've got you. No one ever turns around, goes back through the drive through to tell them that they got your order wrong. NO. You just let them f**k you and you eat your fish sandwich that you didn't order."

The same is true for formula manufacturers. You can't feed ( can, but it might produce some pretty hectic gas followed by poop) a newborn anything other than formula. You are forced to suck it up and pay whatever price they are charging for the stuff.

When Zac was four days old I went to WIC to meet with a lactation consultant, for help with nursing. Zac wouldn't latch on and my breasts were engorged and painful. I had a hard time even sitting upright after my C-section, let alone trying to juggle a squimish, sobbing, hungry baby. They told me about this program that they had for nursing mothers who are going back to work. At six weeks, I could get a double electric breast pump - for free! Yeah! I could pump until my heart's content!! I just had to sign this little document "promising" that I would 100% breast feed. When the document was handed to me, I might have sold my second born (my first is too cute) for a breast pump. I'm not even sure that I glanced at it before signing away my right to choose the best feeding options for my baby and I.

Fast forward five months. I don't have time to pump and I'm using more and more formula each day. Zac also went on a "nursing strike" (just exercising his rights) around the same time. He refused to take the boob. Seems like a natural weaning process to me, from everything that I've experienced and read about. I go back to my friendly WIC office to tell them that I want to stop breastfeeding (the horror!!) and get formula assistance. The receptionist yelled at me for not calling before had to tell them this news. I didn't even tell the FOB, why would I tell a government agency about the current status of my boobs? Then, I go into see the nutritionist, who literally holds up the document that I signed and starts screaming: "You promised to breastfeed! We asked you all of these questions about work and school to see if you have enough time to pump during the day. YOU PROMISED! If you only pump twice a day your breasts are going to dry up and there will be nothing left for the baby (this is where I start crying)." I say that the baby is five months old and how long did they really expect that I would do this for? Until he graduated high school? Until I reached menopause?

I left that office feeling like the lowest form of mother and human. I questioned why I would give my baby chemical formula when perfectly natural milk flows freely (sometimes) out of me, besides that fact that I can't afford to put him on formula. On my way out, the receptionist saw that I was crying and told me that I could get formula assistance, as long as I brought the pump back. No one had ever told me that they would need the milk-encrusted pump back! I'll happy give the pump back, once I've weaned. Stopping cold turkey would cause some serious health problems for me and most likely upset Zac. So, I've been trying to wean during the day so I can shove the blasted WIC pump up the government's ass.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


You decide:
1) Jolly fat man in a charming outfit
2) Guy that jumped off his Harley, got in a red suit, and started taking pictures as "Santa" at a downtrodden mall.....

The choice is yours.


Some short thoughts:

Grrrr......I'm stewing in a quiet, angry depression. The hospital denied my, what I like to call, "financial aid request", although they called it a "charity discount". Is there a more demeaning phrase than "charity discount"? Why don't you just say, "You no good, dirty, rotten, too poor to even afford health care for your baby" request?

Someone is getting a piece of my mind today. I will get through to the hospital billing office if it kills me.

The holidays have snuck up on me. I feel like I have so much to do and not enough hours in the day to accomplish everything. Zac didn't fall asleep until 10:30pm last night, after almost a full hour of nursing. I can't wrap presents, make bottles, or pack a lunch for myself while sitting on the couch nursing. You just have to sit there.

Weaning during the day is going well, however. There is a whole story about WIC and the pump that they gave me that has inspired this urge to wean, but it's also getting to be about time. I'm ready to trade in nursing bras for something with lace and breast pads for.....well, nothing. I just want to throw the stupid breast pads away.

The approach of my birthday saddens me. I think it is a reflex to my time in high school and college when my birthday always coincided with finals or a gymnastics meet. This year, I'm turning 25, which of course is better than 24, but has a dual feeling of being incredibly young to be a Mom and incredibly old, or at least the last signpost to adulthood and middle age. At least I can rent a car.

I just need to get laid. One year of celibacy. I'm wiser, more cynical about love and relationships, have more stretch marks, and gigantic boobs from nursing. I can't attribute all these things to not having sex, when, in fact, several of them came specifically from having sex. I miss intimacy and the thrill of getting excited to go out or just stay at home and cuddle on the couch.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

12/8 - 2

I'm part of a yahoo group of RPCVs from Mongolia. For those of you not down 'wit the Government lingo, RPCVs are Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, although all of us appear to be in one state of "returned" or another. The three new blogs that I linked to on my site are all from RPCVs in Mongolia and China. Seeing their pictures and reading some of their stories reminded of my time spent in Mongolia.

What is amazing is that I can still feel Mongolia. I dream the language, smell various smells throughout the day that somehow remind me of something there, and will see something as simple as a dark hillside that will remind me of my time there. Driving home from the teen shelter in Vermont, in the dark around 11:30pm, I would drive on this deserted stretch of highway (almost all highway is deserted in Vermont, that is why people move to the upper northeast - to not be around other people). Off in the distance, I would see the beginnings of a small town. Vermont has no street lights on the freeway so you just drive in darkness, surrounded by snow and the occasional tree. I would see just a few lights at first, slowly building into more porch lights, headlights, and then finally street lights. The experience was so acutely Mongolian that I would have the beginning of a panic attack in the car. Rolling down the window, turning up the music, and driving faster were only temporary cures. I kept thinking about coming into the capital Ulaanbaatar from the west. On the one paved road in the country, you crest a small hill and you can see the capital from 20 kilometers away. The electric lights looked heaven sent after traveling for hours in darkness.

In the Russian van, crammed in with 12-15 other adults, children, animal carcasses, vodka, and the ubiquitous drunk man, those lights meant companionship, fluent English, hot showers, warm beds, and television. It meant a break from my loneliness and the work of the countryside. There was no wood to chop or ice to melt for drinking water. Driving in my rusted Honda Civic in rural Vermont, the memories would come flooding back, causing my heart to race and my breath to come quicker, the blood rushing to my face.

Even now, just recanting the story, I can feel my fingers get shaky. There are parts of me that people will never understand unless they have experienced Mongolia.


Ahhhh.....I can see the end of the "Share Your Holidays"food drive in sight. For those of you that live in or around Houston, you might know what I'm talking about. SYH has been hosted by a local tv station for the past 25 years. All of the food and money raised during the food drive benefits my organization. Sounds simple, right? Wrong. The actual day of the event was yesterday, but we started collected food, money, and community partners for the event back in September. This is the longest, most complex food drive in the history of man.

Yesterday, 11 grocery stores, ALL Houston police stations, and ALL Houston fire stations were collecting food, in addition to 200 other organizations, corporations, and civic groups that have either already had, are currently having, or will have food drives to benefit the Food Bank. Guess who has to coordinate all of that? Yup. Me. There are boxes to be distributed, pickups that need to be scheduled, and donors that need to be thanked.

Ahhhhh.....I was at a local grocery store, just off downtown Houston, at 5:20am yesterday and I didn't see my house again until 7pm that night. The local tv station that hosts the food drive were at the grocery store with anchors and large cardboard checks o'plenty. Fortunately, it's Houston and the "freezing cold temperature" was only about 45 degrees, but it was windy, rainy, and all together nasty. Donations are extremely down from last year and everyone is attributing the lower "Share Your Holidays" donations to donor fatigue. People can only give so much: Tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Rita, and now.....Hanukah, Christmas, New Year's and of course, my much thought about trip to the Northeast. I can understand why folks would be hesitant to get into their cars, drive to a grocery store, buy food, and then donate it to a charity. While they are doing all of that, they're probably thinking about how much gas costs and how they are going to pay for their own holiday dinners.

I don't want to sound like a Scrooge here. Everything in my field revolves around donors and people giving. Unfortunately, though, people need to eat 12 months out of the year. They don't just eat during the holidays, or during hurricane relief efforts. The poor will continue to be poor and the hungry will continue to wish that they had enough money for food, regardless of how fatigued donors are.

Just some food for thought from a very tired woman...

Sunday, December 04, 2005


"No, I can't believe that it is already December....where did the time go?"

"I used to be so little....."

Just for P.....a poop story:

My Mom, Dad, Zac, and I all missed our flight home from PA. My Dad thought that the flight was at 7:30am, but really it was at 6:00am. We arrived at 6:20am and - no plane. In the hurry to get to the airport, Zac apparently dropped a major bomb. I could smell it all the way through his pants, onesie, and blue fleece outerwear. As we were going through security, I thought about putting him right down on the conveyor belt and changing him, bringing a new meaning to the phrase: "Inappropriate jokes about bombs will not be tolerated," but didn't quite have the courage. Plus Zac was in the Baby Bjorn against my chest. I figured that I could just take him through the security check with him in the harness and change him on the other side.

Nope. The very nice security woman told me that I had to take him out of the harness, even while I was trying to take my shoes off and not fall on my head. The only way I could take the Baby Bjorn completely off is to have someone hold Zac while I get my arms out. My Mom and Dad were way ahead of me in the security line and going backwards tends to be frowned upon by our friendly TSA agents. So, the security woman gets the baby. He smells so bad at this point that she has to hold him straight out from his armpits, much like you would if someone handed you a pile of toxic waste. I had a feeling that she was trying to be polite, but she kept turning her head away from my son, probably thinking that she doesn't get paid enough to put up with his shit.

I'm handed the said shitty baby back and we finish going through security. My Mom and I head directly to the closest bathroom to change Zac. I'm peeling layer after layer of poopy clothes away until I finally get to his body. He's smeared poop all the way up his back, almost to his neck. I propped him up at the side of the sink, with his back to the faucet, and splashed water on his back. My Mom said that he was trying to look backward at the source of the water like, "What's going on back there?" Laughing about it might have made the whole situation ok, except that I had to carry the shitty clothes with me on an extremely full plane for four hours, where they continued to smell up the diaper bag and stink up the front of the plane.

Friday, December 02, 2005


Yes, I know that many of my posts since I had Zac are about how tired I am and, yes, I know I write a lot about my son. What happened last night, though, took the award for, "damn, mommy is too tired to even think about how gross that was"

So, Zac went to sleep around 8:30pm (score!) and I laid around on the couch for a little bit and totally neglected all of my household chores for the next day. The bottles were not made, my Dad did the sterlizing, I didn't make lunch or get all of my breast pump parts into my bag. I was just too tired.

I hit the hay around 9:30pm or so and then woke up at 1:30 when I heard Zac barking from the nursery. It's a little hard to sleep through: "Waaahhhh, *bark, bark, gasp*, wah, wah, *bark, bark, pause in breathing and scare the crap out of a half-asleep woman*....more crying," you get the picture. I brought Zac into bed with me, nursed him, and then fell back asleep. He woke up again at 5am, coughing. I tried to give him the boob....nothing. Couple of sips and more coughing. Tried to give him a bottle thinking that maybe it would be easier for him to suck with a stuffy nose out of a bottle. Nothing.

I realize that his entire body is wet. Really, really wet. I'm wet, the bed is wet, we are all wet. But Zac is coughing and trying to go back to sleep. I was faced with the dilemma: do I change him and fully wake him up in the process, or do I move him to a relatively dry spot and try to go back to sleep.

Dry spot it was. I took him out of his dripping pajamas and laid him on my chest, tapping his back to try and get the phelgm out of his chest. He starts to calm down and just as we are both drifting back to sleep, I feel a trickle of warm fluid run down my chest, between my breasts. Right as I was falling asleep, I had the thought: "What is that? Is that urine?" but I was too tired to get up and investigate.

For those of you wondering, it was urine.

Thursday, December 01, 2005


You can only leave a lactation story up for so long before it just gets old.... I have other stories to tell. However, first thing is first.

To Aunt Jen: yes, maybe we did have to sleep in the same bed a bit growing up. In all of the hotel rooms we stayed in, M & D were in one bed and you & I were in another. BUT, during those times I only ONCE slept diagonally on the bed AND I felt sorry about it the next day. ONCE! ONE TIME! Now it's held against me for the rest of the my life?!!! :)'t kill 'em, you might have to move in with them one day. I saw a lot of my family this past weekend at Thanksgiving. The best part of the whole trip, besides seeing my extended and not-so-extended family and eating unbelievably good food, was napping. I mean, really, just incredible naps. If napping was a sport, I might qualify for the Olympics at my Aunt Sherry's house. In college, every year I would catch a ride down to PA with a friend and stay at my aunt and uncle's house. It would be the only time every year that I saw them. To make matters worse, I would bring stacks of books, articles, and novels that I had every intention of reading during the holidays to get ready for finals. The books were never opened and I only saw my relatives for two hours of wakefulness every day. They contend that most of my trip was spent on the couch, snoring. They were right. With Zac being well taken care of between my aunt and my sister, I felt free to go and drift upstairs to take a three hour nap, or fall asleep during the Law & Order marathon on TBS.

Zac is sick now, coming back from Thanksgiving. Grandpa and I had to take him to the ER yesterday because he was having a hard time breathing and wouldn't nurse. They gave him Tylenol, cough syrup, antibiotics, steriods, and a breathing treatment. By the time that they finally managed to draw blood from the vein in his lit'le arm, after trying unsuccessfully to squeeze blood from a small pinprick in his heel, he was so exhausted from screaming and barking (he has croup - all screaming sounds like barking) that he passed out in my arms. He and I laid down on the hospital bed and slept for a hour while waiting for the doctor to look at his chest ex-ray.

I love sleeping with my son and I love it even more when he sleeps at night. I got six hours of uninterrupted sleep night, croup and all. Amen and praise Jesus.

Am I addicted to sleep?