Writer muse

Closet Philosophy

I like to provide new experiences for the baby; exposure to things she has never seen or done before.

Today, I let her watch me hang up clean laundry. In the closet.  On hangers, even.

It was very exciting.

I don't mind doing laundry, but I hate putting it away for some reason.  My eldest has lived for months at a time gathering her daily requirement of clean clothes from the laundry basket where they were carefully folded, sorted but not put away.

Unlike so many other things, clothes mostly actually HAVE places to go in my house, so I am not sure why they don't get there more often.

LIKE so many other things, if I had less of them, i.e. got rid of the ones I will never wear again, maybe it wouldn't be a chore.

Because I am not a small gal and have a great deal of trouble finding clothes that fit (this was an issue even when I was skinny because I was still TALL), I have trouble getting rid of clothes I don't wear.  What if I NEED a white dress tank top someday?  It is besides the point that I have never worn it and never wear white.  If I ever need one, you can bet I won't be able to find one in the stores and then I will regret purging it from my closet.

However, maybe there is some big gal out there who LIKES white and needs a dress tank top.  Maybe I am bogarting hers in my closet all these years.

Maybe I just need to let it (and a lot of its friends) go. 

I still may not hang up laundry again for a while though.  But if I do, I will have a spare hanger. 
Writer muse

Housewife blues

So, the 3rd grader next door called me a hoarder (because of my laundry piles. Idiot. I have much better examples of hoarding in other parts of my house!).  The puking peeing cat is making my formally just cluttered house now officially unsanitary.  I am behind in every thing that matters.  I have several importan discussions that need to happen with my sister that have never left my head. 

Where to start, where to start. 

When to finish!  

Writer muse

Feminism and my kid's toy box

This is likely to be a multi post subject, just to warn ya. 

If anybody were to ask me, I would definitely say I have some solid feminist opinions, though it completely depends on what brand of feminist you are talking about.  

I think all sexes were created equal and should have equal chances to do whatever they choose at any age without being restricted because of their gender.

Examples: girls should be able to climb trees and boys should be able to play with dolls.  Women should be able to participate in their  occupation of choice with equal pay to all their similarly skilled peers, and men should be able to stay home with the kids.

But, the reverse is also true.  Girls should be able to play with dolls if they want and women should be allowed to stay at home with the kiddos without being accused of betraying females everywhere.  

What got my dander up?  Toys.  Specifically the Monster High series.  

I let MsB get a Monster High calendar last January, though I would have rather she not have gotten a licensed character one at all. (except for Dr. Who.  That would have been cool.)  For you all not in the know, MH is a series of shows and dolls about a bunch of teen aged monsters that all go to high school together.  They are more like Bratz physically, but, you know, MONSTERS, so they look less freaky than Bratz.  (yes, you read that right.)

The Monster High gang.  Would I let my daughter wear a skirt that short?  No, but then again, I ain't wild about those earrings on the mummy girl either.  thppt!

I have banned Bratz toys and tv since they look horrid, dress like hookers and were pretty mean to each other in the ONE episode I have ever watched.  I don't know why my radar didn't go off with the MH calendar, but it didn't.  Maybe because they already looked weird, what with gills and bolts in their neck and so forth. I think it appealed to my comic book geek side. 

Then, a FB post came up about how hyper sexualized they were.  One post led to another and finally to a link to another blog of a mom who really hates MH.  The blog post was ok, but the COMMENTS section was World War 3!  

Know what I think is even worse than the popular media industry selling sex to my 7 year old? A bunch of like minded women being very nasty to each other in comments sections!   Really!  That is more damaging to womenkind than any thing Disney Channel or Mattel ever tried to sell me.  

As for MH, we probably will not be watching the show.  MsB has already made up stories about the characters in her calendar and those are just fine.  (The Frankenstein girl is in charge of the laboratory because she is obviously a scientist you know.)

And are they dressed like hookers?  Dunno.  Not in my opinion.  But my daughter judges clothes based on two criteria: is it a color she likes and can she climb a tree in it.   The MH girls would fail in that set of criteria, but, eh, so what.  Doesn't make them bad monsters in her opinion. ;)
Writer muse

little bitty stars pt 2

All this is in effort to get MsB's room cleaned up in such a way that she has a hope in hell of keeping it clean herself.  

There really is TOO much stuff in it and well, that really isn't fair to expect her to keep it clean like that.  She is willing to get rid of a lot of it and so we shall!

To help her get started, I have been working on it a little at a time all week while she is at girl scout camp.  I am being pretty brutal. Well, for me anyway.  I can just see the councilors from the hoarder show hitting their heads against the wall with some of the stuff I save, but too bad.  I am throwing away a  LOT more than I would have even a year ago.  That is something. 

It helps to have another little girl to leave some of this stuff too.  I don't know what I am going to do when it becomes BabyR's turn to sort through stuff.  

I am not a BIT sorry that I kept my barbies or my stuffed animals, even though they had to be moved so many times.  Hopefully we can keep the important stuff for them so they can have some of those tender moments when they are grownups.  

While I was cleaning, I found a stash of drawings MsB did when she was about 3.  I can remember the age clearly as she loved to draw people as big wobbly circles with simple faces and stick arms.  They were awesome.  

I was just thinking about those earlier in the week so it was  treat to find them.  I will sort through them and keep the best. Scan them and put them in a scrap book as well. 

She hasn't drawn much since kindergarten so I get pretty protective of the stuff she had made in the past. 

As I was sorting through, and trying to be brutal, I cam across a little folded up scrap of paper that I almost threw straight to the garbage.  

Something made me pause for a minute. Maybe just because I saw there was writing on it and was curious.

I unfolded it and it was full of stars.

Little stars, carefully drawn all over that little bit of paper.  Probably from when she was in Kindergarten and had learned to make them.  

I carefully put it in the save pile and continued on.

I found another one, on an even smaller scrap.  

I sat there and sobbed.  Just sobbed.  (and yeah, I am crying now as I write.)

Little bitty stars, so carefully made.  I am sure they had some special meaning to her when she made them.  Something magical, I just know it.  A fairy spell, perhaps. 

I just have to slow down and notice these things more.  Next week she will be graduating from high school and moving away, I just know it.  I will be so proud of her, I am sure, but I also know it will break my heart not to have her in my life every day.  

I will have MsR to distract me until SHE goes off to college next month some time. 

Then its just going to be me, Mark, Ketchup and Purple. Oh, yeah. And probably Scary Baby. 
Writer muse

Little bitty stars pt 1

There is nothing quite as brutal as watching your 7 year old sort through her stuffed animals and cull the ones that didn't make the grade.

"Get rid of this one, this one and this one!"

"But that was your favorite it one!"

"Yeah, when I was little!"

"When you were 4!"

"Right, when I was little."  

Three years ago. Sigh.

Funny how she didn't remember some of the stuffed critters that had been her favs.  Ketchup the Dog, The Purple Frog. Scary Baby. Ketchup was maybe the first stuffed animal she ever named.  I have no idea WHY it was Ketchup, but it was. The Purple Frog was the first one she ever got attached to.  Delphine gave it to her when she was not yet two and he went every where with us for a while.  I have a great shot of him siting on the potty.  I had come in the door one day to see him sitting there looking at me like I had interrupted his privacy.  

And poor Scary Baby. She started out as Psycho Baby but that was a little harder to explain in public.  She was the first baby doll that MsB ever loved.  We had just gotten back from seeing a friend at the hospital after she had her baby and I think MsB made the connection. The next day, for the first time, she picked up this poor homely baby and rocked it sweetly.  

It is supposed to just be a newborn doll but they did NOT get the eyes right.  She looks like something is wrong with her, hence the original Psycho Baby.  That changed when the office manager at our pediatrician office asked the baby's name and MsB dutifully answered "Psycho Baby!"  She was two at the time.  We transitioned to Scary baby from there. 

And so, I sadly bagged them up to put in the play room down stairs.  She didn't want to totally get rid of them, but she didn't want them in her room anymore.  I should encourage that so out they went.  

Except for Ketchup and Purple. They went to BabyR's pile.   And poor Scary Baby?  I at least put her at the top of the bag. Ya know, so she wouldn't suffocate. 
Writer muse

The Old Mother

When my mom had me, she was 29 years old.  Her doctor apparently told her that she was kind of old to be having a baby.


That was back in the '70s.  Oh, how things have changed.

I have to admit, having a baby in my 40s makes me feel younger than maybe I am.  As I lay in bed nursing her tonight, I felt calm and happy and, well younger.  Then I started thinking about how both my girls will need to have babies right out of college if I am going to have time to enjoy them.  There I go, worrying about something that hasn't even happened yet.  

It was kind of hard to get started much earlier, as I didn't find my fella until my  30s.  Even then, I was robbing the cradle. (just a bit, not by much!)

Sometimes I find myself wishing that he and I were closer in age so I wouldn't have to feel, well, so old. 

Then I remember how I decided some time back to take 4 years off my age as compensation for having to live through the Bush years.

Yeah, I like that better. 

38 is great!   ;)
Writer muse

Joining the threads

There was a time in my young teen years that I journaled religiously.  Which is funny because I did nothing else religiously.  But I journaled nearly every night and felt bad when I didn't.  Bad because I had broken the stream? Partially.  Also bad because it made me feel GOOD to write.  It was an outlet I enjoyed.  A place where my voice could be anything without fear of offending anyone or getting in trouble.  

I would write as much or as little as I needed and finish each entry (I almost said "Post" there) with a song lyric that I felt wrapped up what I was feeling at the time.  

Somewhere in my boxes upon boxes are those journals.  Maybe 7 or 8 of them?  For a long time, into college even, I was so faithful in my writing that I even used them as calendar for my cycles, so reliable I could count on them, and did. 

At some point, I tapered off and my entries became fewer until they dwindled away altogether.  I wonder what my last entry by paper was?  I wonder what my first had to say?   As I bundle through those boxes I will keep a special eye out for where they ended up. I hope they are not lost, for as embarrassing as they are now, they are a part of me.

I think I dropped off due, in part, to computers.  Once I found the world of online bulletin boards, my pent up writing muse sang her songs in the electrons of the internet and spent it all there. I had nothing more to say on paper as I had written it all elsewhere.  That is sad, really, as the vast majority of those posts are gone to me now.  Oh what I wouldn't give for a peak of Fort Collins Coffee Club!  

Then, email and chat took hold of my writing.  Somewhere I have at least some of those files.  I wonder if I have anything that could even read them?  Then, my online opus: Thought Spaces.  It slumbers now, hopefully to awake in full glory someday soon. but OH the annuals it holds!  Some of my best writing is in there!  I hope I can still access it well into my old age so that I can sit and surf through it like I did in days past.  So much wonder. 

When blogs came on the scene, I thought about it. I really did.  But I did nothing.  Maybe because I felt I had no audience but my self. Maybe because I was afraid of any other audience BUT myself. Maybe because I felt I had broken a promise to my muse all those years ago when I abandoned my journals.  Maybe I just didn't know where to start. 

I putz around facebook and hate it for what it isn't.  And I don't really get twitter.  Maybe because I have never given it an honest go.

But still, at some point, I started this little blog.  When I lost Seamus, it became a voice that I couldn't speak out loud.  Turns out I can type and cry at the same time.  There is some healing in that. To be struck mute by grief when you most need to speak out is silent torture.  To be able to break that silence and speak through your writings is a gift. 

And yet, I still don't write daily.  I NEED to write daily.  I should write daily.  I feel better when I do.  So, why don't I?  Something I could explore through writing, I guess. 

And so I attempt again.  I mourn for the lost threads of things I thought would make lovely entries but are now scattered out in the cobwebby places of my mind and perhaps, if I am so worthy, in The Eternal Library. 

All I can do at this point is honor them by not letting any of their siblings befall the same fate.  

I begin again. I begin, again. 
Writer muse

The Right to Never Feel Icky?

Know what really grosses me out?  Body builders.  Not the individuals themselves, but I really have always been grossed out by the huge deformed muscles and the veins popping out all over the place.  The veins!  SHUDDER!  

The heroin chic super models also gross me out.  The anorexic ones that you can count every rib and backbone.

I don't want to see them in public.  I don't want my child to see them in public.  I would REALLY like them to cover up when they are out so I don't have to be subjected to it.  Really. It turns my stomach and sends really bad messages about body image.  

I WANT to have them covered, but I would never ask them to.  


Because other people should not have to have their rights to be out and about compromised just because they make me feel icky.  

I do not have the right to never be offended.  

Part of living in a free society is having to put up with certain things that make you feel icky.  You don't have to like it, you just have to look the other way sometimes.

Now, this does not include looking the other way when somebody is in danger.  I am talking low level icky, like how some people feel about people of other races, people with disabilities and oh yeah, public breastfeeding. 

I am really truly sorry if my breastfeeding in your line of sight makes you feel uncomfortable. I really really am.  I did not leave the house today with the intention of making you feel bad.  I just left the house with my infant knowing I would have to feed her eventually. 

No, it is not always convenient to go out to the car to feed her.  No, not all babies will eat with something over their heads, no matter how much their moms may want them to. (and would you rather hear them scream than know they are being breastfed?)  Could I pump before hand and feed her  a bottle?  Not really. If she is eating, I would need to be pumping again. That is how breastfeeding works.

And NO, I am NOT going to feed my baby in a bathroom stall.  Not. Going. To. Happen.

So, again, I am sorry if public breastfeeding grosses you out.  Maybe you have ear hair that repulses me. Or a weird shaped head.  Or a Fox News tshirt.

 Let's just both look the other way and move on with out taking it personally.  Maybe in time, our sense of icky will be softened and we can start seeing past it and start working on bigger issues than popping veins, nose hair and a partially exposed breast.  

*edited for spelling 02/17/12
Writer muse

The Rules of Lacation

I have a friend who is planning on breastfeeding her dear baby who will be arriving in March.  She is excited and scared all at the same time, which proves she is a smart cookie. 

I told her the number one factor in success in breast feeding is SUPPORT.  If the people around you (or if enough of them are) she stands a VERY good chance of being successful.  And why is support so important?  

Well, there is the emotional aspect, for sure.  If you have cheerleaders, it is easier to continue when you are unsure.  

I think it is also a matter of women's wisdom, though.  It used to be that your immediate family taught you what you needed to know but with whole generations having skipped out on breastfeeding, there is a hole in the knowledge transfer as big as the grand canyon. 

So, I am trying to come up with some bf wisdom for her so she can have every chance to make this work.  It is one thing when a woman chooses to quit BF after she has examined her options.  It is quite another when they quit because they had bad info or no info at all. 

And so: The Rules of Lactation

1) Breastfeeding is a learned skill.  You have to learn how to do it.  Your baby has to learn how to do it.  You both have to learn how to do it together.  Some moms have tons of supply without even trying.  Others have to work at it to keep their supplies up.  Some babies are born to nurse, others are pretty bad at it due to size, energy levels etc.  Thus, you can have any combo of mom and baby. However, WITH PRACTICE and GOOD ADVICE, they can ALL be champs.  Every single one of them!  

2) Breastfeeding is all about Supply and Demand.  The baby Demands the milk when it nurses.  Your body ramps up or cuts back on your Supply based TOTALLY on that Demand.  Baby nursing every hour?  They are not starving, they are just trying to increase your supply for a pending growth spurt.  If you give them a bottle instead, your body gets the message that baby isn't feeding and thus cuts back on the supply and a VERY bad cycle of reduced supply starts.  Don't do it.  If your baby is eating, you should be either nursing or pumping.   Anything else is bad news.  

Let your baby establish the supply these first few months with NO restrictions.  Beware baby trainers.  Your baby knows when it is hungry.  Let them eat and thrive!  You will catch up on sleep again eventually.  And again, it will all be worth it. 

3) The first few weeks of Breastfeeding can be a bit of a slog but push through, and you will be rewarded for months to come. As your body adjusts to having just had a baby and having said baby latched on and nursing, it is likely to be unhappy from time to time.  Sore nipples from clumsy latches, cracked nipples from really bad latches, yeast infections, plugged ducts and mastitis are all common.  However, they are ALL fixable and preventable!  Every single one of them!   Plus, bottle feeding ain't all that simple either.  Measuring, mixing, warming, all at 3 AM is not easy either.  Resist the temptation to get the bottle out.  

Instead, take classes and read books to learn how to do it right the first time.  Then. . .

4) When you run into problems, GET HELP NOW!!  Do not wait around a few days or weeks to see if it gets better on its own.  Call your provider, Wee Steps or a lactation nurse and don't suffer needlessly.  Sore and cracked nipples are usually latch issues that they can help you with.  Really painful nipples may be a yeast infection that is easily fixed with meds.  Likewise, plugged ducts can be easily solved and mastitis will clear up with a solid dose of antibiotics.  Help is just a phone call away.  Don't quit. CALL!

5) Breast fed babies are usually getting exactly what they need!  Follow this simple rule to be sure:  a minimum of 8 wet diapers and 3 poopy diapers a day means their intake is just fine.  Keep a record to be sure, but you are likely to find your supply is doing what it is supposed to: nourishing your baby.  If in doubt, go to Wee Steps and do the before and after weigh in.  The scale will record what you cannot see: the exact ounces that your baby is getting each feed.  It is wonderfully encouraging!

6) Surround yourself with Breastfeeding supportive people!  Have your partner read up on it so they can help out.  Find friends that can cheer you on.  Have a go to person to keep up your spirits when you hear negative comments from others.  

Mamas and babies have been doing this for thousands of years.  So can you.  Start out right, get help when things go wonky, stick with it until you both are masters and it really will be a joyful experience that you will come to love. 
Writer muse

Amputation by Silence and Love Through Bothering to Show Up

What? Am I allowed to post TWICE in one day?  I am hoping no one will notice the double post dates and just think I am a good daily poster.  

And so . . .

After the last post, I got to thinking about lost friends.  

I have had friends disappear from my life for all sorts of reasons.  They  moved, I moved or we just grew apart.  Some, however, went with a silence so deafening, it left its own message in the wake.

It is those friends I wonder about the most.

I consider myself a pretty good friend.  Loyal. No mean girl games. No abandoning you when a cute boy or a more appealing person comes along.  Kind of a dork, but jolly and not too far in to the bad kind of crazy category.  I will help you paint your bathroom and move a body if need be.  I will be your wingman and try to tell you when the guy in your sights is a dumb ass. Not perfect, but present.

So I am mystified when some otherwise good friends remove themselves from my life.

Each one has been painful on multitudes of levels.  I think it is at least partially because I have spent too much of my life WITHOUT a friend to call on that makes these partings so particularly painful. 
When I do find a seemingly kindred spirit, my heart soars!  Turns out I was NOT a bad person, I just needed to be patient and the right person would circle into my life eventually.

What did I do in each circumstance to lose that friend?  

That's the problem. I don't know. 

The silent treatment was so complete that I never even got cussed out.  Never got a chance to apologize, even if the friendship couldn't be saved.  Maybe I have nothing to apologize for. I don't know because they didn't tell me.  

I am talking about three main instances that have stood out in my adult life.  I hate to be too specific as I don't want to bomb burned bridges if word got back I was blogging about them.  

In each, I am left to conclude that I made a social blunder of some sort that was just too much for them.  

Not something HUGE like theft or sleeping with their boyfriends.  Small things, like not making another person leave when they were just supposed to stop by while I was visiting, or saying the wrong bit to the wrong person, or taking them at their word when they said no, I didn't HAVE to hire a babysitter. 

What it boils down to, in the end, is a boundary issue.  And that can be a big enough issue that I really ought to go all caps on it.  BOUNDARY ISSUE.  There. Like that.

In each case, the person in question did not feel like they could tell me that I had violated a boundary that was very important to them.  And so, they quietly amputated me from their life and me from theirs.   The blood and pain was all that was left on my side.  I can only guess at how things splattered on theirs.

Maybe that is the biggest difference between the ones that departed so painfully and the ones that have stuck it out with me.  The ones that have lasted will TELL me when they are upset.  They will say "hey, what the hell!"  And I will say "Wha?  What the hell are you talking about?!"  

They will go on to tell me what the offense was, I will think about it and apologize or not, or at least apologize for the misunderstanding and we MOVE on and continue to grow as friends.

Do I miss those Surgeons of Silence?  I do miss the good times we had, the other people we had them with.  I look at some of the gifts they gave me with a certain sadness of "if they knew me so well as to give me this, how could we not have the chance to work it out?"  

I guess I still worry over it as I worry that the friends that are still around may suddenly pull an amputation by silence.  But really, maybe they are of a different caliber and whatever stepped-on-toes may occur, they are willing to work it out.  They are willing to YIPE when they think they have been wronged and are interested to know if I was just being a klutz, if I meant to hurt them, or if I was just a dumb ass.  Then we talk it out, usually hug, and start laughing again. 

Maybe I need to send those good ones a note and have them come read this.  Just so we all know what rules we are playing with. So they know how much they mean to me.  How I am going to bloody well FIGHT to keep them, should it ever come down to it.  

And so they know how much I miss them when we aren't together. And how I get silly excited when we WILL be hanging out again.   And how I really just want to kick back on a summer porch and have a drink with them right now.  

That old folks home better have a good porch, that's all I'm sayin'.    

*edited 2/17/12 for spelling