Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Ignorance is bliss

I have a dear friend who is pregnant. She called me the other day to tell me her exciting news, but the entire time she spoke, I wanted to interrupt and tell her about my experiences. I remember when I was pregnant, everyone I spoke to wanted to tell me about their morning sickness, their cravings, their labor. At first it irritated me, but then I realized they were just reliving those moments through me.

As I talked to my friend, I tried to refrain from telling her everything to look out for, every emotion she might feel, every weird thing her body might do.

Because all the other stuff, she can read in a baby book, right? Wrong.

No matter how much you read, or listen to other people’s experiences, there are things that no one tells you, and rightfully so, because if you knew all the strange and disgusting things your body did when you were pregnant…well, let's just say the people that made Alien back in the '80's had something to reference.

But I'm not going to list out all the crazy things that happen when you are pregnant. That time has passed for me. I have an almost one year old, and I am experiencing a new world of things no one told me about. These are the things no one prepares you for in motherhood and you won't find these scenarios in baby books. The only way to handle situations like these is to improvise along the way.

  • How do you handle the first time you see your son play with his you-know-what?
  • How do you keep your baby from sticking his finger in your dog's butt-hole?
  • What to do when your son constantly pulls your shirt down because he wants to grab your breasts?
  • What to do when your son unties your bathing suit in the middle of a pool when no one else you know is there? (baby can't swim, it's not like you can just let him float around while you retie your top)
  • Are you supposed to intervene when your baby feeds his snack of cheerios, one by one, to the dog? What if it is really cute and keeps him entertained for 10 minutes?
  • Am I a bad mother because I keep putting off switching my son’s mid-morning bottle to a sippy cup because it is so much easier to get him to nap after he has a bottle?
  • Am I a bad mother because even though I know I should let Max fall asleep on his own, sometimes, I just want to rock him to sleep?
This is where motherhood gets hard. What is the right answer? What isn't going to scar your son, or give him reasons to go to therapy when he’s older? The answers to these questions do not rest in baby books and no matter how much people tell you about their experiences, they always seem to leave these kinds of things out.

Two photography-ish links

I've been away for a while at my brother's wedding in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It was a bit of an intense weekend, and very fun. And I felt like I was completely off the grid for a number of days. There were some big events - like the wedding itself, AND Zoe learning to do somersaults on her own, which was pretty cool. But, more on that later, after I've had more time to process.

For today, I just saw two nice online items that I wanted to share.

First, I always like a reminder of beauty in the world, as well as a nudge to think about other sides of every story. This CNN piece about a photojournalist documenting the Muslim world is lovely, as are his pictures.

And, for fun, here's a link to NY Magazine's post-Emmy red carpet slideshow. I love seeing what all the stars wear for their big events, and while I don't watch enough TV to recognize more than a handful of these people, at least their dresses are pretty! Enjoy!

Monday, August 23, 2010

What's my name again?

Occasionally words will fly out of my mouth and I think, "Oh, God, I am just like my mother." This happened to me several times over the last few days. I usually react to things like this as a sign I need to go visit her. So, if you are reading this, mom, look out – I’m coming to see you.

I knew this was bound to happen. Over the years subtle ticks, funny sayings, little nuances, have shown up in my mannerisms and dialogue that are things only my mother would do. I’ve always had her eyes and smile, but now I have her same interests in window dressings, plants, kitchen utensils, throw pillows, and good magazines. I also have her fear of a stranger grabbing me in a parking lot, and since Max was born, I share her over-the-top-oh-my-god-I’ll-try-not-to-call-the-Doctor-everyday worrying.

So, I have provided a few examples below of my slow metamorphous into my mother.

First example. This past Sunday, my hubbie and I had the TV on in the background while we drank our morning coffee and played with Max. I found myself drawn further and further into a clip about the history of refrigerators and the importance of the Thonet chair. After leaning closer to the TV and not blinking for a few minutes, I pulled myself away and said to my hubbie, "I can't believe I find this so interesting." Ten years ago, I would have plucked my eyeballs out if I was forced to watch this. But now, I find myself thinking about the Thonet chair to the point that I googled it last night (yes, that is a little embarrassing to admit.)

Second example. I took Max to a fabric store to look through bins of discount scraps at the slight chance their might be a good piece of fabric for a pillow.

Third example. I have too many house plants. They are starting to take over our house. I have five plants in our bedroom, four in our kitchen, two in Max's room, one in the bathroom, two in the den, and three on our back porch that I am going to have to bring inside when it gets cold. This morning, I walked Max around the house to water them and we stopped at each plant to sing it a song. My mother would be so proud.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

I need incentives!

Ah, writing...what to say about writing?

I'm an essayist, primarily. It's always been where my writing skills lay. I'd be able to write a kick-ass memoir, if only my life had been a bit more exciting. But I'm fairly lame.

I'd love to be a super cool Sci-Fi or horror writer, but my fiction skills are lacking. I can't write believable dialog to save my life, and I get so annoyed with my bad dialog that I give up on stories without seeing them through to the end.

Also, and unfortunately, I write romance approximately on a level with George Lucas, which is to say badly. (I love Star Wars with all my heart, but come ON George...learn to write valid love scenes!! "Someone who loves you?" When Han is finally released from carbonite? That's all he could come up with for Leia to say? Blarg...but I digress.) I start to write about the interactions between two characters and, inevitably, I get the giggles. Literally.

And forget about sex. I can't write a damn thing about sex. Even typing it now is kind of making me blush. I mean, my dad could someday read things that I write - I certainly don't want him reading that kind of stuff. So I giggle and blush and get completely embarrassed and stuck and it's pretty pitiful.

But, that said, these are all things I'm working on. And to provide incentives for myself, I have big plans of entering stories in upcoming writing contests. Writers Digest is kind enough to provide several annually. I have a couple stories floating around my laptop, and plan to enter at least one Sci-Fi and maybe one general fiction. Marissa has also gotten me hooked on little mini-contests run by various agents. I've entered a couple and not had any form of recognition yet, but at least I've overcome a fear of putting myself out there. You can't get anywhere if you don't try, right? So try I will. Wish me luck!

And incidentally, I just learned that rhinos are pregnant for sixteen months at a time. All I can say is, thank God I'm not a rhino. I'd never have made it...

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Jeep Girl?

Charles and Zoe took the day off yesterday. Since we just have one car seat, I drove our Jeep Wrangler to work, leaving the mom-mobile, a Toyota Rav4, at home with Charles.

I ran some errands on my lunch break, and as I was pulling into the parking lot I passed a few co-workers, out for a lunchtime lap. I waved, but only one of them saw me and waved back.

An hour or so later, he appeared in my cube.

"So, could you see my brain working when you waved at me?"

"Huh?" I said, confused. And then I got it.

"Oh, you didn't recognize me."

I was unconcerned...at first. I was wearing dark sunglasses and my normally curly, stick-out-everywhere hair was straight and in a ponytail. No wonder he didn't recognize me.

But then he continued, apologetically. "Yeah, it was the glasses. And I just didn't have you pegged for a Jeep person."

Whoa. Back the heck up. I'm not a...Jeep Person?

Oh my goodness, I am SUCH a Jeep Girl! Perpetually a teenager, always wanting to go to the beach instead of work, based on my self-image there's no better car for me to ever drive!

But then I realized. My coworkers only know grown-up Leah. They know I'm a goofball, sure, but they also know I'm a mom. My desk is littered with mom-paraphernalia - photos of Zoe at various ages, a plant she bought me for my birthday this year, a drawing or two. They knew me when I was big and pregnant, and I guess it's hard to consider someone you've seen waddling around the office as a fun kind of girl. And only fun kind of girls drive Jeeps.

And also, to be fair, for a while, I was not a fun girl. For a while, after Zoe was born and I was well within the clutches of postpartum depression (which I kept as secret as possible of course), I almost forgot how to smile. I was tired and I felt old. I was on auto-pilot, not in four-wheel drive.

But now, again, I am a Jeep Girl, darnit! I love to be outside, to play with my dog, to run and swim and be crazy. I can drive a stick. I love to eat great food and drink red wine. I saw The Smashing Pumpkins last month and will see The Black Crowes in September. I love to travel and think about all the adventures Charles, Zoe and I have ahead of us. I love to tickle Zoe until she shrieks with laughter, and I love to laugh along with her.

I can be a mom and a Jeep Girl, I swear. It's just my *other* car that's a Toyota.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Nothing can keep me from you

My computer crashed and died last Thursday. The timing was terrible. I had a webinar I was attending at 1:00 pm hosted by Writer's Digest and led by Rachelle Gardner, a literary agent. She was discussing query letters and pitches, and I was giddy with excitement.

But that was not the first thing that tried to stop me from attending this webinar. I am a stay-at-home mom who has no family in the immediate vicinity. When things like writing webinars, or veterinarian appointments, or dentist appointments, or anything else come up, I call my mother who lives three hours away. She comes in town for the night and watches Max while I attend whatever it is I have to do. I should probably find a babysitter, but that requires a lot of work, like background checks and lie detector tests, I kid, (but not really).

Thursday morning, my mother calls me at 7:30 am from her garage. The battery in her car is dead. My father takes care of it and she gets on the road.

She calls me at 11:00 am from the middle of nowhere, thirty minutes out of town. She has a flat tire.

I wake up a napping Max and we drive out to pick her up, leaving her car on the side of the road. We make it back to my house with twenty minutes to spare before my webinar.

I sit down at my computer at 12:50 pm, log into the webinar and wait patiently. Right when Rachelle comes on and utters the word, "Welcome", I get a blue screen followed by a black one that says something about a SATA disk drive error. This means nothing to me. I don't speak this kind of computer. But, I did know this was a bad thing, a very bad thing.

I practically scream, then run to find my old laptop and boot it up before I miss too much of the webinar.

I finally made it back on just as Rachelle clicks off a slide that I didn't get a chance to read. I can only hope the secret to writing was not revealed on that slide.

The point of my story is...nothing can keep me from my dream of becoming a writer. Dead batteries, flat tires, SATA disk drive errors, nothing. I will find a way to write, I will find a way to learn more, I will find a way to attend a writing webinar.

A day in the life...

So, my brain is all over the place today, and in the past few days I've written about seven different posts, all of which are too long and not good. So I thought I'd just take a moment to take you through a typical day for this working mom...and along the way, I hope to share some good content/posts about the rest of the world.

5 a.m. Rats, that's the alarm. It's playing some random song that I hate because it woke me up. Get up, shower, get Zoe ready for school, make some food, head on out. This is, as always, the most stressful part of my day, and I hate dropping Zoe off.

8 a.m. Really start to focus on work. Test test test software, bicker with a developer over whether an issue is a valid defect, and if so, when should it be fixed?

BRAIN BREAK: Find out that the stay on gay marriage (i.e. Prop 8) has been extended while a federal appeals court takes a look at it. *^$&^%^*& That stinks, but there's still hope. I have to hope.

10 a.m. Test test test software, same argument is ongoing. I really hope we can move on soon.

BRAIN BREAK: I find this story, as linked to via Twitter by Will Hoge, a singer who I love. Will stopped in the middle of his set at Monster Music on Record Store Day this year to sing the ABCs to Zoe. So the fact that he linked to this story of another musician taking a sincere interest in an aspiring guitarist seems so honest. It made me happy.

11 a.m. Test test test. Oh my GOD, can we please move past this one issue that has killed my entire morning?

11:30 Work out! Hooray! I love having a gym in my office.

Noon: Mmmm....pizza for lunch! Also, test test test sill on that same issue. Sigh.

BRAIN BREAK: Charles sends me this link by a blogger discussing the so-called, misnamed "Ground Zero Mosque." I love it when someone can blast through the drama surrounding an issue, point out the facts, and come to a reasonable conclusion. I was as affected by 9/11 as anyone else in the tri-state area, but the insane vitriol surrounding the building of a community center two blocks away from the memorial makes me ill.

Rest of the afternoon: Test test test, never reach a conclusion on that annoying issue that refuses to die.

4 p.m. Time to go! Pick up Zoe!! Hooray! I always miss that crazy girl when she's away from me. Charles and I pick up a sweaty, happy child who had a great time playing in the sandbox, and has the stinky/sweaty Crocs to prove it. Did you know Crocs can smell? I didn't...

5 p.m. Make black bean tacos for dinner, the leftovers of which get eaten and then barfed up by my cat. Gross. They're in the trash now. Bummer.

6:30 p.m. Go for a post-meal "barefoot walk" with Zoe. We wander down our block, looking at bugs, hopping over cracks and waving at our neighbors. We talk about school, about airplanes and all her little friends. It's fabulous. I can't believe she's so grown-up already. We have real conversations now!

7:30 p.m. Zoe goes to bed, I go for a walk. Now Charles and I are watching Weeds (Season 5 - we're catching up - it's awesome!), and I am writing. I think it's almost time for bed.

Monday, August 16, 2010

One year feels like yesterday

One year ago, on this day, I was anticipating the birth of our son. I was swollen, 35 lbs heavier, and exhausted. I was sitting at work, trying to wrap everything up before I left on maternity leave. I had no idea what the future would hold. Would my son be born healthy? Would I be a good mother? How would I juggle work and motherhood? Will I ever lose all this weight? Do I have all the things I need? Do we have enough diapers?

One year later, so much has happened and it feels like yesterday I was asking myself all those questions. Turns out, my son was born just perfect, I think I'm an alright mother, still learning everyday. I'm staying home with my son, something I didn't think we would be able to do. Yes, I lost the baby weight, and yes, we had enough diapers, at least for the first few days. Everything turned out fine, even better than I had hoped.

And here I sit, daydreaming again. Will I ever get published? Am I a good writer? Am I a good mother? Am I teaching my son enough? Does he feel loved? Is he growing fast enough? Should I wean him off bottles? Do we have enough diapers?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Close encounters of the...wild kind?

I began this post in the middle of the night last night, following a little excitement here in the Rhyne household. I couldn't wait to share my tale...or was it a tail? Hmm...anyway, it's now Saturday afternoon and I'm tired and punchy and in need of a nap. Here's why.

To begin with, Zoe and I are both fighting a little cold, or allergies, I'm not sure. Suffice to say we both have the sniffles.

When Zoe started making noise around 1:45 this morning, I was pretty sympathetic. I don't sleep well when I have the sniffles either. We both tossed and turned for a while - my brain was flying through my stressful, I-have-a-trip-coming-up to-do list, and she just couldn't get back to sleep. I finally gave up and came downstairs to read, giving Zoe some space to hopefully fall back to sleep on her own.

I should add here that my dog, Quentin, was sleeping in our laundry room, because even though he's a full-time outside dog, he's also a fraidy-cat dog who is terrified of thunderstorms. Last night was a dark and stormy one for sure, so he was inside. Recently, though, he pooped on the floor during an overnight stay, so I was toying with the idea of letting him out and locking him in his outside dog run. He hadn't peed since about 5, when the storms started.

Before I could do that, however, Zoe got for-real upset, so I went upstairs to get her, thinking a quick dose of Benadryl (generic brand - I am up to date on my recalls) and some couch time would be all she needed to go back to sleep fairly quickly.

But then, I happened to mention to her, while changing her diaper, that I needed to put Quentin outside.

"Mommy, I want to help you!"

Of course she did.

Even though it was by then 2:30, and it was dark and creepy outside, I agreed (against my own inner voice that said, "This is a bad idea, Leah.")

So out we went. There was still some sporadic lightning but no more thunder, so Quentin seemed excited to be outside. He darted across the yard, into his run, with much enthusiasm. Zoe and I followed with less.

Suddenly, I heard a growl, and something like a hiss, coming from the dog run. Then something else started to hiss in a nearby tree.

It could only be one thing, which has happened before. Yep, my dog had cornered an opossum that had decided to snack on some dog food. In these situations, I'm never sure who is more afraid - the wild animal, my dog or me. And this time I had to keep Zoe in mind, too.

I took off at a jog, Zoe bouncing along on my hip, calling (loudly - I'm sure my neighbors loved me) Quentin to COME! RIGHT NOW!

He didn't. Instead, he dove into his little doghouse, now as afraid of me as of the opossum.


I didn't want to lock him in with the opossum (Don't they carry rabies? Plus it looked like a baby, and I didn't want him to kill it.), but I couldn't exactly haul him bodily back into the house while also carrying Zoe.

Who, at this point, was terrified by my continued yelling. The poor thing was trembling in my arms, both hands thrown up about her face to cover her eyes and hide.


I had no choice. I left Quentin and the opossum outside in the dog run and ran back inside with Terrified-Zoe to enlist some help.

"Charles," I said, hovering over the bed.

"Blurgh," he said.

I explained that Zoe needed to be held with him for while I took care of a Wild Animal Situation outside.

Which I did. Free of a petrified (and heavy) toddler, I ran back outside, still in the very dark night that was only occasionally lit up by dangerous looking lightning, hauled that puppy back out of his doghouse by his collar, and slammed the gate behind him. He ran across the yard, stopping only to pee (hooray!), and flew back into the laundry room, relieved to be safe and opossum-free again.

I followed, again with less enthusiasm, and spent the next 45 minutes or so with a still-wired Zoe, who finally wanted her own bed (instead of the couch and me) around 3:15. I stumbled back to bed and somehow, still, was wide awake at 6 this morning.


At least Quentin didn't poop on my floor last night.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

So, I'm really happy about this!

Let me be among the first to congratulate the many loving, same-sex couples in the State of California who, as of August 18, may begin getting married, a civil right I as a heterosexual have enjoyed since I was legally an adult.

Yep, that's right. Judge Vaughn Walker, the chief judge in the Federal District Court of San Francisco, who overturned Proposition 8 last week, has lifted his temporary stay on same-sex marriages as of August 18. That's only six days away - friends, I hope you all have fabulous wedding planners! I hope August 18 is a celebration of happy days to come.

I think the issue of marriage as a civil liberty is a no-brainer - two consenting adults of any gender should be able to marry. To deny people that right is archaic. It's bigoted. It's hateful.

I know the battle ahead will be tough for these couples. Opponents of Proposition 8 can possibly expect another stay for their ceremonies, another denial of their rights. This case will probably reach the Supreme Court of the United States. Evidence of the continued difficulties faced can be found in the headline of the Los Angeles Times: Judge keeps gay marriage ruling on hold. On hold...it indicates that the decision is still far from final.

And people are still on hold, holding their breath in hopes they can truly move on with their lives on August 18.

But today, let's celebrate hope. Hope that next week, gay couples all over California can join those in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa and Vermont in their simple, undeniable right to marry one another.

For more information:

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I thought I was done with testing

We have come to the stage in development that is no longer about physical achievements, or learning that if you put an object under a blanket, surprise, it's still there when you move the blanket. No, now we are on to testing. Max is testing us to see what he can and can’t do. And by can’t do, I mean he will still do it but it is usually followed by a mocking laugh.

My husband and I agreed we would use the word "no" for serious events, things that could danger Max, things like electrical cords, or climbing on bookcases. But I find myself saying it more and more, especially since Max is touching, reaching, chewing, and climbing on everything in our house. But there are two things of late he has been testing us on, plugs and shoes.

There is a plug for a radio in his bedroom I thought I had hidden well behind his bookshelf. Turns out, he discovered that if he leans around the corner of his toy box, and squeezes his hand between the bookshelf and the wall, he can touch the plug. The first time he did it, I pulled him away and tried to distract him with a toy, but a few minutes later, he found the plug again. So, I tried another technique and used a soft "no, no". Who would have thought that by simply shaking my head and speaking sofly, I could be so funny. Max thought I was hilarious and let out a huge laugh.

And so a game begins. He crawls over to his toy box and quickly looks at me before reaching over to the plug, and then he bursts into a huge smile. He knows he's not supposed to touch it, but he is testing me, over and over again.

The second mommy/daddy test is our shoes by the front door. Every so often a toy will make its way by the door and Max will go to retrieve it. He will pause by the shoes and look over to me. I know exactly what he is thinking. He doesn't just look at me, he gives me the "I'm going to put this in my mouth. What are you going to do about it?" look. Then in one swift motion he will grab a shoe and put it in his mouth. I've tried to distract him, but that doesn't work, and so I’ll say "no, no", but that gets a laugh.

I'm pretty sure I am failing the test.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Heredity of Fear?

I have an overactive imagination. Always have, always will. As a child, a steady diet of Stephen King and Poltergeist ensured nightmares for life. The Lost Boys still has me checking the night sky if I walk across my yard after dark. I look around corners, expecting the worst. I can't look in a mirror in the dark for fear of meeting Bloody Mary.

Something is possibly wrong with me; I accepted this a long time ago. And since I can't fix it, my diet of horror movies continues unabated (with the exception of a brief hiatus post-giving-birth - it's exceptionally difficult to see bad things happen to young women when you are suddenly responsible for raising one).

But that said, I don't like nightmares. I don't like waking my husband by yelling out in the middle of the night because I've been chased down by the undead and am trapped in a public restroom, wedged into a stall between the toilet and the wall and they're coming through the door to grab my neck (true story...well, true nightmare anyway).

So, now that I'm responsible for raising a young woman, it's my duty to protect her, right? I tried not to introduce anything scary into her world; I tried to keep fears from finding her.

But Zoe is two, and she is spunky and feisty and no matter what I do, she is determined to follow in my footsteps, I fear.

Her favorite book last Halloween was Goodnight Goon, which is full of ghosts and werewolves. "Monster" was a fairly early word (she makes a mean monster face!). And no matter how much I tried to keep the concept of death out of her two-year-old mind, two days ago I caught her trying to squish a bug, saying "I want to kill the bug, Mommy."


So I guess I shouldn't be surprised that she already has some quirky fears of her own. One night, not too long ago, I was surprised to hear her screaming not long after she had gone to bed. I raced up the stairs, afraid of what I'd find.

But it was just Zoe, in her crib, crying. I picked her up to soothe her and asked her what the matter was.

"Mommy, there's a frog in my bed!"

I looked, I kid you not. I mean, this is South Carolina - anything is possible when it comes to creatures.

Finding nothing, I said, "Honey, there's not a frog in your bed."

She looked at me, all sleepy-eyed and tearful, and responded, "Toad!"

Nowadays, her Buzz Lightyear doll stands guard on her dresser to keep her bed free of both frogs AND toads.

And last night, at dinner, a new fear reared its ugly head.

Currently, at 6:00, when we eat dinner, the sun is setting over the fence in our backyard. The light streams in through our porch, on which we have never hung blinds.

Last night, that streaming light refracted itself through a half-full plastic water bottle that sat on our kitchen table, and that refracted light danced across the wall next to Zoe's head, moving in rhythm with the water in the bottle. It was really quite pretty.

Zoe saw it and shrieked! "The light! The light, Mommy! The light, Daddy!"

She was utterly petrified, and nothing we said convinced her that the light would not hurt her or that it would not come back after we removed the offending bottle. She spent the rest of the meal alternately crying, covering her head with a napkin so she was well-hidden should the light reappear, or sitting on one of our laps.

So I can't protect her, sometimes I can't even soothe her, but I can sit there and cover my own face with my own napkin so at least she doesn't see me laugh.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Want a baby? Get a dog first.

The longer I am a mother, the more I have come to realize that babies and dogs are quite similar. Each day I watch the baby and our dogs terrorize the house, and I think, wow, dogs really did prepare me for a baby. Here are the the top ten reasons why I feel this way:

  1. Babies and dogs both need chew toys, and for some reason, they always want what the other one has. I am forever pulling Max's teething ring away from our dogs, and our dogs chew toys, mainly the grubby, rubber bone with dog treats stuck to the inside, away from Max.

  2. Babies and dogs get into everything you don't want them to. As much as I have tried to baby proof the house, we have one cord that we just can't hide, and that, of course, is the one thing Max desires to pull, chew, and poke. And if I could go on one walk where the dogs didn't want to roll on a dead, stinky bug, well, it would be one less bath I would have to give them.

  3. You have to fence babies and dogs off from the rest of the world. This is obvious. You must have a fenced-in yard for your dog and you must have a playpen for your baby, or else your life is just hell. Those little buggers move fast and can destroy a room in minutes!

  4. Adults feel the need to use baby talk around both babies and dogs. Male or female, old or young, it doesn't matter. Everyone uses the same high pitched, sappy-sweet voice when talking to babies and dogs. "Hiiiii, sweeeet-pea, aren't youuuuu theee cutest little thingggg."

  5. Grandparents feel the need to spoil their grandchildren and their granddogs. My parents, the grandparents, were referred to as such long before Max arrived. They have granddoggies who get spoiled just as much as their grandchild.

  6. Babies and dogs love birds and lizards. Although your baby won't intentionally try to kill them.

  7. Babies and dogs want to sleep in your bed. Wait, this is a king sized bed, right? Doesn't seem to feel like it anymore.

  8. Babies and dogs are messy. I can't leave the house without checking my clothes for dog hair and stubborn cheerios that stick relentlessly to my ass.

  9. Babies and dogs want whatever it is your eating. "No no, Max, mommy's eating her double dark chocolate fudge ice cream. It's the same as your pureed peas, I promise. Niko, I'm pretty sure this would kill you. Eat your dog food."

  10. Babies and dogs want your attention all the time. "Can I please go to the bathroom by myself?!?"

Shaking head in disgust, four days later

In case you hadn't heard, Gisele Bundchen recently went on the record to say that mandatory breastfeeding should be a law. She also had a few other irritatingly self-important comments.

Since I believe that those who seek and achieve mega-celebrity should be careful about the images they portray, and since I believe influential people have to be careful not to cross a line between influence and sheer smugness, here is my response (a day late and a dollar short, I'm sure, but who's counting?).


Dear Gisele,

I appreciate that in your recent comments to Harper's Bazaar, you were just trying to share your opinion about the importance of breastfeeding.

Yeah, I get that.

But you, as a celebrity and a mom, are extremely influential, and the smugness you portrayed, as you said what you seem to think is right for all women, had the potential to hurt many women who chose differently than you. You potentially added to the collective guilt working-class mothers in all countries have to face, and that is shameful.

It's one thing to say, flat out, "Yes, I think breastfeeding is crucial for a baby," and leave it at that. Had you said that, I would have agreed with you.

It's entirely different to judge as criminal those women around you who have made decisions either to stop breastfeeding early, or not breastfeed at all. (It's also mildly distasteful to brag about your painless labor, your Kung Fu at week 38, etc.)

In the future, you should keep in mind that there are many women in the world not as genetically blessed as you are, who are physically capable of modeling lingerie six weeks after giving birth. I'm sure you work hard to maintain your face and physique (I certainly would, if I were in your shoes and was making the kind of money you make for being beautiful), but you have to admit that somewhere along the way, you hit a genetic jackpot. You are beautful, and that has made you rich.

So. Let's talk about money for a minute. Do you have any idea how much your money can buy that even most middle-class women can't afford? For one, I'm guessing you had a personal trainer with whom to practice your Kung Fu, so that you were doing it safely and effectively even in those advanced stages of pregnancy. I can't afford that, nor can most of the women I know. And while I've known lots of women who have had home births, I'll bet that your home birth was attended by the best doctors and midwives that money can buy.
My own birth plan looked far different from yours from the start, but I did plan to do it au natural. No drugs for me. No inducing. But my daughter had other ideas, and her perfect pike position, booty-down, forced my doctor's hand - C-section it was, for me. Plus, due to some technical difficulties, breastfeeding didn't work for us. While a lactation consultant at my side 24/7 might have helped us to figure it out, that costs money, and it wasn't an expense we could justify.

I would bet my experience is far more common than yours.

That said, please keep in mind that you live in a bubble. A very safe, protected bubble that I have no doubt you worked hard to achieve, but live in it you do. And most of us do not. So please go take that bubble to your new farm (which I am sure will be fully staffed...I do not foresee you or your husband getting up at dawn to milk the cows or muck the stalls), raise your children quietly, and don't try to tell the rest of the world how to live their lives.

Thank you.

Very truly not yours,

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Introduction to Us

Meet Leah

Hey, hi! I'm Leah. I write. I'm a mom and a wife. I test software for a living. And that's just the beginning of me.

I'm a Jersey girl transplant living in the deep(ish) South (it's balmy here, I swear!!). I'm one of the more socially liberal people you might meet in your life. I believe that if you can help someone, you should, and I don't mind paying taxes. I supported Barack Obama. Wholeheartedly.

I have a very busy life, much busier than I ever knew possible when I was in my 20s and newly married and felt like I had all the time in the world. But I like it. I have a two-year-old daughter with enough attitude to fill the Empire State Building. I have a husband whose interests and hobbies always lead to me learning random facts (Did you know that Ornette Coleman played the saxophone? Or that a Jeep can be raised, but if you raise it and don't put bigger wheels on it, it just looks silly?). I read a lot, don't write enough, and have crazy ideas for books and stories and blog posts when I'm out running.

I have a tendency towards hyperbole.

I hope to one day write books that people like to read, but in the meantime I'm excited to be starting a blog with my good friend, fellow mom and all-around-cool-chick, Marissa.


Cities, beaches, mountains, wine, coffee, well-written history books, exercise, playing silly games with Zoe, thunderstorms, and zombie movies


Conservatives who think it's their job to tell the rest of the world how to live their lives, judgmental people, redundancy, ticks, horseflies, banana peppers and olives


Meet Marissa

And I am Marissa. I also write. I am a mother and a wife, who used to be a part of the corporate world but now stays at home. My schedule was once driven by meetings, deadlines, and work trips, but now revolves around nap times, feedings, and play dates. But trust me, I’m not complaining.

I’m a southern girl who took a quick detour up north, and then made her way back south, only to marry a Yankee, as my father often reminds me. My husband is Italian, and therefore our 11 month old son is a blue eyed, blond haired Italian, growing up in the south. I love spending time with my family, and our two crazy dogs, and when I can find a quiet moment to myself, I write as much as I can. My favorite game to play is in my head, what can I invent that will make me millions.


Coffee, cocktails, summer evenings, beaches, hikes, weird medical mysteries, strange sea creatures, live music, BBQ chicken pizza, and period movies.


Spiders, alligators within 100 yards of me, lightening, long toenails, milk, closed-minded people, and really cold winters. Oh, and olives.

I’m finishing my first novel, which I hope one day gets published, and if not, I’ll always have my inventions. I’m thrilled to start this blog with my dear friend, Leah, who knows much more about everything than I ever will.

P.S. from Leah: Shutup - no I don’t...