Our Cats Star Spotted Today.

Lucky me--I was not here when a "said" famous person came by our house today with Dean. I am not being sarcastic, I was lucky--lucky that Noah and I were at a playdate, otherwise this person would have seen me in the holey pj pants, cat fur covered t-shirt and oily forehead that I usually slough around in while home with Noey all day.

I know it's no fun for you that I can't tell you who, but that's just the way it is in Hollywood. It wasn't an especially glamorous visit to our abode anyway. Him and Dean were dropping off our beach chairs and Noah's extra car seat in order to free up some space in our old Honda station wagon (which Dean was driving him around in--yikes!) so that they could haul stuff in the back of it today. And, lucky me (again, I am not being sarcastic because I would have been mortified if I were home)--there were piles of laundry on the love seat, spit up stained throw pillows on the couch and two strollers parked in the middle of the living room.

It always amazes me that no matter how long we live in Los Angeles, how many stars we spot around town, how many cool people Dean gets to work with, or how many people we both meet through his work, I still get star struck and giddy like a little girl. It's possible that our cats, Linus and Miles, who were home, felt the same way.

Mommy Group Mutiny.

Noah and I just returned from what was to be a pool playdate by the beach, but it ended up being a livingroom playdate instead because the ocean fog never burned off and it was too cool to swim--yes, Hollywood has deceived you, this is typical of Los Angeles, even in the summertime. And while Noey now naps, I am left pondering all of the ways in which a good mommy conversation can go bad.

We had a wonderful time, but during our playdate the topics of sleep methods, vaccinations and television came up. And while the children casually played unaware of the slight intensity that ebbed and flowed as moms voiced then skirted the more controversial aspects of these issues, I quickly realized that I could be one of those "moms"--the mom who is talked about when they're not in the room, the mom who chooses paths scolded by the AAP, the mom who *gasp* doesn't believe in "crying it out" or in babies watching T.V. and is waiting to vaccinate. As the moms chatted, I at times found myself eager to share my ideas and the decisions that we had made on these topics. But, I kept finding myself self-censoring instead.

I don't want to lose all of these nice new mommy and tot friends that Noah and I have just made. Heck, we are just beginning to emerge into the world of pre-noontime playdates for a change. But, am I the only mommy that doesn't want her baby to cry himself to sleep in a cold and empty crib (despite the fact that we have been having sleep difficulties since he was born!)? Are we the only parents that have chosen an alternate vaccination path after doing hoards of very conflicting and confusing research and experienced our own vaccination horror at the 3 and 4 month checkups? I am sure that we are not--it's just that we can't, as moms, always feel comfortable enough to casually chat about these topics because of the taboo that surrounds them and plain and simply, not wanting to hurt someone's feelings, I guess.

I am not bellyaching. Okay, maybe I am, perhaps I am even being a little overly dramatic--but I don't mean to be. Really, I am proud of the decisions that we have made and respect those of others, don't get me wrong--I just don't want to go back to the "O Mothers, Where Art Thou?" days again!?

We actually do know quite a few crunchy families like us, I guess I just didn't hang out with any today. *pout, pout*

The Swiffer Scare.

Oie! Has any other mother out there heard about the cleaning liquid in the Swiffer Wet Jet posing health hazards to children and animals?

Good friends of ours left a message to that extent last night, and when we researched it on the net we found, to our surprise, many articles citing the same. Dean just "swiffered" on Sunday! Yikes!

Is this rumor fact or fiction? Any information that anyone has regarding this issue, please post in the comments!

Perhaps this is the excuse that I have been waiting for to switch to a natural vinegar-based floor cleaning solution! If any moms out there have found a good alternative cleaner that works well on hardwood floors, please share.

Truly Yours,
One Shaken Señora


All In A Good Day's Play.

I've decided to begin a new weekly installment called, "All In A Good Day's Play" where I will chronicle, once a week, our day in snapshots! Enjoy! Here's the first edition . . . it will go something like this . . .

Our day in snapshots:
  • 11:30 a.m.--Noah's menu for today, pre-pureed.
  • 2:00 p.m.--Post afternoon nap failed photo attempt at Mama trying to get a good pic of that blasted first pearly white.
  • 5:00 p.m.--Swinging in the park after "Story and Songtime Summer Mondays" at the library.
  • 6:00 p.m.--Toes apparently taste better then carrots at dinnertime.
  • 6:15 p.m.--What's left of dinner. Our sake cups make excellent feeding cups!
  • 6:30 p.m.--Teething on a carrot and getting undressed for bath time giggles.

(3:59 pm: Too bad I don't have a snapshot of this part of our day, but it's too good to be left out even without the pic.

Noah and I were stroller racing down the sidewalk headed to the library for "Story and Songtime Summer Mondays"--of course we were running a wee bit late and wanted to make it in time for the opening tune. When, all of a sudden, a section of sidewalk missing concrete sent the buggy flipping over frontwards with me flipping over the top of it before rolling off sideways splayed on the ground with the front of my shirt above my head.

Okay. I can laugh about how funny this was now. As a matter of fact, the mom who was behind me with her little tot Liam is probably at home recounting the spoof at the dinner table as we speak. As a further matter of fact, after she picked up the carnage and ensured we were okay, she went on raving for the better part of storytime about how we should sue the city. But, I was terrified at the time. Had my little Noey Finn not been strapped in, and perhaps, had I not had the footrest propped all the way up for him to kick his feet against, he could have eaten the sidewalk in a much worse fashion than I. But since he came away from it all completely unscathed, now, I can allow myself to chuckle.

Damn L.A.! When are they going to get out of constant budget crisis long enough to repair our ailing streets and sidewalks!?)


Love, Multiplied By Two.

It's incredibly rare to fall in love once in a lifetime,
but unbelievably breathtaking to stumble upon it twice.
Lucky, lucky me.


The Art Of Mommying, According To Me.

Noah fell in love with a little 7 month old Russian girl named Eva yesterday while on the grass under the shade of a tree at the top of the hill at Barnsdall Art Park. He gooed, smiled and gawed at her while attempting to gently paw at her hand and pretty pink dress. Amused but figuring that he was moving a little too fast, she smiled back while swatting at his grasping hand.

A little later the mommies that I had been waiting for arrived for our Wednesday "Babies On Blankies" playdate. The three of us kvetched about various typical SAHM's (stay at home mom) dilemmas--what will become of our careers, our multiple degrees, what about more kids and when, etc.--before all agreeing that being a SAHM is incredibly fulfilling and surprisingly loads of fun.

But all this talk about mommies and how to navigate the caregiver/wife/self road of motherhood, led me to ponder what kind of mom I want to be for my children--and husband, because let us not forget how important they are in this very equation. I am lucky to be married to a very handsome, incredibly sensitive, thoughtful and helpful husband who has read my mind more times then I give him credit for. And I think that marriages too often take the brunt of child rearing. The role of wife cannot take a back seat to that of being mom because it is essential to being a good mom. A mom who fosters lifelong loving relationships, and friendships for that matter, serves as a model for healthy interaction, trust, self-esteem and balance--essentially nurturing the child's awareness and development of these characteristics and behaviors while preparing the child to put them into practice later in life.

Therefore, I want to be a mom who has a healthy marriage.

I guess what it all boils down to is the problem of moms getting lost in the "duty" of being a mom. In other words, moms who get lost somewhere along the way in "momdom"--a place where she has lost the woman she was and has replaced it with a falsely frazzled and dull robot who superficially feeds her starving parent-child relationship. A mom who is in the midst of trying to provide materially for her children (clothe them, feed them, diaper them, bathe them, toy them, get them to and from activities, etc.) can easily lose sight of all the other aspects of mommying. Often a potentially deep emotional, social and intellectual connection between mom and child goes unfounded and lacking creating a relationship empty of intangibles--genuine communication and unfettered interaction--and full of "stuff"--replaceable and fleeting tangibles.

Therefore, I want to be a mom who gives my kids loads of "me", not tons of "stuff".

A mom who gets lost in the "duty" of being a mom isn't a bad mom necessarily--she's just a mom who has forgotten why she is mom. She's a mom who thinks she never has time because she doesn't create time. She's a mom who has gotten lost in the overwhelming amount of things that a mom must *or thinks she must* do day to day--and having multiple kids, I imagine, simply compounds the load. I mean, house chores alone are enough to engulf all of one's freestanding time without junior . . . forget about finding time to read, love your spouse, groom oneself, stay current with world events, practice a musical instrument, paint, garden . . . simply put, to stop and smell the roses of self fulfillment. But one must find time. Your gifts and interests don't die with an expanding belly, they become a conversation you can share, a lesson you can teach and a gift you can give to your child.

Therefore, I want to be the kind of mom who has hobbies, interests, passions outside of the home, goals, who always has room for self-improvement and never wants to quit learning--but, I never want to be too busy for my children.

"Momness" in all it's glory is all-engrossing. Frankly, it's hard not to fill every empty crevasse of my brain space with tot-centric tidbits of consumer report car seat ratings and grocery lists. But for Noah's and my sake I must not lose entirely the "self" that I was before kids. I guess what I am saying is that being a mom doesn't have to be a great sacrifice--you don't have to sacrifice time, relationships, hobbies, self. It's just about achieving balance between them all--a sort of happy place where they can all co-exist together. Granted some may dominate others at one time or another, but in the end they all get their fair share. It may mean that a load of laundry doesn't get done or the dishes in the sink may sit there for another day. Because in the end it's not those things that are important--it's not those things that Noah will remember.

Therefore, I want to be a mom who has a tidy, but not clean, house if it comes at the expense of my children being, well, children.

The amount of time we are given is finite, but the things we choose to do with that time is not. It's all in the way that you perceive the duty of being a mom that will determine how you spend your time as a mom. It's all about choosing what's important and keeping what's important in perspective. I am choosing now, before Noah has even uttered his first word, to spend my time wisely.

Therefore, I want to be a mom who is in control of my time and how it is spent, not one who lets time control me.

It is with these self-proclaimed axioms that I will progress forward and deeper into mommyhood. I know already that I will have to return to this blog, probably often, to read and remember all that I have promised. I know that success only comes through constant effort at achievement--meaning, I must never stop trying to try.


Solid Waste.

::This blog is dedicated to Kristen--thanks Kristen!::

We have finally started Noah on solid foods and as the title indicates there has been lots of waste . . . on the bib, on the floor, on his clothes, left in the bottom of the bowl and *sigh* on mom. I know, I know, that it's part and partial of the learning curve--the transition from a purely liquid booby diet to one of color, texture and fun new flavors. But the waste part matters when it takes a whole morning when I could be um . . . showering, pooping or *sigh* sleeping . . . to whip up a batch of yum.

I think the key is preparing large batches at once instead of just a measly few portions. That way there are no hard feelings when half a morning's hard work ends up in the folds of his feeding chair and outer ear. Nevertheless, whipping out the collection of organic bamboo spoons that I purchased before we even began to ponder baby names has been loads of fun. And it has been incredibly rewarding knowing that I am filling my little guy's tummy with fresh, wholesome, pesticide-free and incredibly pronounceable ingredients.

So far, avocados, pears, bananas and peaches have been the first on our ever expanding menu and sweet potatoes are on tomorrow morning's list of "to liquefy". In the meantime, I am just going to have to find a way to make room in our euro-sized fridge for the coming loads of peas and butternut squash. Move over frosty beer steins and forlorn ice cream pint (neither of which we ever get the moment to indulge in anymore) and make room for the peach purée!


Y'all Come Back Now, Ya Here!

My friend Jessica said that Noah was a bi-coastal baby while we were back east in North Carolina visiting family and friends this month--and I guess she's right.

Though I had never thought of it that way--I had always thought of Noah Finn as a left coast tot--he'd be missing an awful lot if he didn't fess up to his deep dark southern roots . . . and appreciate them. North Carolina vinegar-based BBQ, hushpuppies, sweet tea, humidity so thick you sweat getting out of the shower, nighttime choruses of insects and frogs, sea oat covered sand dunes and a seashelly warm Atlantic are all foreign west of The Mississippi and north of Virginia. Sure California has the rich and glamorous, the walk of fame and Malibu . . . but North Carolina has red necks with gun racks in their pick up trucks and hog hollerin' contests. The southern experience is a hidden treasure trove of little gems--to be enjoyed in small doses, but enjoyed nonetheless.

Every time I go back "home" to the southeast I enjoy it a little bit more. Perhaps it's because the longer I live here in California (going on 9 years now), the more all of the things that used to be familiar become foreign, thus, exciting and new.

I hope that we are able to someday somehow foster an appreciation in Noah for the beauty of the old abandoned farm houses, long drawled accents and lush tobacco fields. We'll have to be sure he visits, and visits often. We'll have to be sure he experiences the green scenic drive from Raleigh to the Outer Banks--we'll even be sure to pass through Beulaville again on the way and hope that we spot the same three shirtless drunk guys standing roadside wearing Viking-horned hats and waving beers in the air after a late afternoon summertime downpour.

Viva la fried okra! Viva la grits! Viva la Dixie, Darling!


Eureka! We've Struck Gold!

Enameled gold, that is! Like early west-heading proprietors excitedly seeking that sparkly stuff among riverbed rocks, new parents yearn longingly for the eruption of baby's first tooth--hoping that the months of excruciating pain for both them and their wee tot will, if only temporarily, subside.

Noah has been teething since he was three months old and for the most part--aside from the rosy red cheek rashes, sleepless nights and more drool than a St. Bernard--teething has been tolerable. That is, until the last three weeks. Dean and I were beginning to seriously consider taking our cradle crab to a baby behavioral specialist (Is there even such a thing? There should be!). We were convinced that the non-stop whining, clinginess and downright 24 hour dissatisfaction was due to either something we did or didn't do to/or for him during his very short 5.5 months here on earth . . . or we were cursed with a baby that would grow into a tot who'd get us thrown out of every restaurant, movie theater and theme park until his 18th birthday.

That is until this morning. While groggily chewing on Dean's fingers in the wee hours of the early morn--his favorite first thing to do in the morning after I pry him from my boob--Dean felt a razor sharp edge. After attempting to peer in the busy wet mouth for next to half an hour, we finally spotted in gleaming white, peeking out from beneath the soft pinkness of swollen gums . . . Noah's first tooth . . . and the reason we almost committed our little cherub to a cell with padded walls.

Cursed teeth . . . 1 down and 19 more to go. Why can't they just come already "attached" when born? Like fingers and toes?


Dean Slept On The Couch Last Night.

. . . not because he was in the doghouse, though--I slept there with him.

Noah's version of sleeping for the large part since he was born is, well, really not sleeping. He's never been a champion snoozer and with the addition of all of these fantastically exciting new skills he is picking up on a daily basis compounded with a furious case of the teething blues, he has turned into an downright insomniac.

So, after he finally went down for the seven-hundred-and-seventieth time last night, we hunkered down on our oversized craig's list couch at midnight and decided to call it our head's home for as long as he slept . . . so as not to wake him when we finally crawled into bed.

Sound crazy? Maybe. Yes, even! But . . . he slept for a delicious two hours! And we were ecstatic.


Mom Need Not Apply.

Tonight is the first night that Dean has fed Noah a pumped bottle of breast milk while I was at home . . . and it felt downright rotten.

What stunk to high heaven was not that I was able to freely frolic around the house at Noah's bedtime--which is usually my task and mine alone because of nursing and Dean's work schedule--but the "mom, you're not needed as long as I get my dinner someway somehow" part did.

You should have seen how greedily he was clutching the bottle with both of his tiny paws, panting as he slurped every last drip and drop. He seemed aware and almost accepting that his warm and snugly mommy humming soft lullabies was not the source of his sweet nectar. I strangely sensed that all the while he was contently gazing around the room as if looking for me so that he could say, "Your services are no longer needed here, Gertrude. You can go home early today."

Okay, so maybe I am being a little mellow dramatic, but I sure did feel suddenly useless for the first time in five months. I loved the temporary freedom, but I didn't liked being replaced by a hairy arm and a short glass bottle.

Remember me? I'm the gal with the soft warm milk bags that have fulfilled your every hunger pang regardless of the time of day every minute since birth?

Oh, how easily they forget.


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