Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Light Side

Second, the lighter side of yesterday: Quotes from my nephew, MP

Let me begin by saying...I love my niece and nephew to pieces. My sister-in-law and brother-in-law have done an amazing job raising them. These kids are polite, bright, and an absolute joy to be around. And like all children, they are hilarious. Bill Cosby was right -- kids say the darndest things. Here are some quotes from my 2-year old nephew to brighten your day.

The scene: MP and I talking to my son, Max
Me: "MP, can you say 'Hi' to baby Max?"
MP: "Hi baby Max. What's your name?"

Me: "Come on, MP. Time to go outside! Is the TV on or off?"
MP: "Ummm...Jesus Christ turned it off."
Me: (stifling laughter) "Who turned it off?"
MP: "Jesus Christ."
Me: "Why did Jesus turn off the tv?"
MP: "He doesn't like it on."

The scene: MP and I playing on the back deck with his bubble machine
MP: "Aunt Amy?"
Me: "Yeah?"
MP: "Would you like a beer?"
Me: (again stifling laughter) "No, thank you, MP. But thank you for asking."
MP: "Sure."

The scene: MP sitting on the toilet "reading" a magazine and he rips a page
MP: "Oh no! This page is torn! Can you fix it?"
Me: "It's okay that it is torn. You can still look at the magazine."
MP: "But it is tooorrnnnn!"
Me: "Well, who ripped it? Did you rip it?"
MP: "No, ummm...God did it."
Me: (once again, stifling laughter) "God ripped the magazine?"
MP: "Yes, God did it."

Nothing like it.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Heavy Side

"If people let the government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls who live under tyranny.” - Thomas Jefferson

Today is light and dark...was up and down.

First, on the heavier side:

It is hard being a parent. No one would deny me this statement. It is tough to always know the right decision for your children. After all, I am only human and not perfect. But, I am intelligent. Therefore, I will not believe everything I am told without a little research of my own. Where is this going, you say? Straight to the vaccine discussion. Go Jenny McCarthy. Love her. I will spare you all my rantings and ravings about vaccines, but indulge me this small paragraph. Or really not so small paragraph.

I am anti the one-size-fits-all-CDC-vaccination schedule. Since I cannot do anything without thorough research and asking many, many questions (I realize this throws spontaneity out of the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants window, but atleast I know a little about a lot, never an expert, but always a temporary enthusiast), I researched vaccines while I was pregnant. I read two books on the subject, I began receiving newsletters from the National Vaccine Information Center, Dr. Sears, the CDC and the FDA (btw, mistake after the peanut butter scare. I have received over 200 emails since then about recalled pb products from the FDA), I studied the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System website and other sites, I asked all my friends their opinions and went to a naturopathic pediatrician to ask her advice. I gathered information on vaccine ingredients, possible vaccine side effects, the risk of vaccine injury vs. risk of contracting the disease, and I discovered the insane number of injections my son would receive if I followed the CDC schedule. In 1974, I received less than 10 shots. With the 2009 CDC recommendations, my son would receive around 36 injections before he is five (could be more by now, they seem to recommend another one every few minutes). All I have to say, no, no, no, no. That doesn't work for me. I'll give them that "they" probably have society's overall health and best interests (and a nice profit) in mind. I'll give them that. Society as a whole. Faceless society. Not the faces of society. Not my child's face. Or your child's. Or yours. Sure, vaccines are super. Clean water and sanitary living conditions don't hurt either. But what may work for one child may not necessarily be the best thing for another child.
For instance, take my son. Even though I only allowed him to receive 2 of the 6 vaccines at his 2 and 4-month well-child check-ups, he still had a violent reaction to the DTaP shot four hours after receiving it. We had to take him to the emergency room where the doctor gave him codeine to calm him down because he wouldn't stop screaming. That is terrifying for a parent. The next eight days, he wouldn't smile or laugh. He was a different child. I was scared to death. I spent everyday crying, terrified that the child I knew might be gone. After those eight days, he came out of this vaccine-induced fog, thank God.
So, as anyone can imagine, I had extremely high anxiety about his six month well-child check-up scheduled for earlier this afternoon -- I knew the doctor would want to give him another DTaP vaccine and I was going to have to put on my fighting panties. My stomach was in knots all day. I felt dread and nerves, like I was going in for a colonoscopy or had to spend the day talking about religion and politics with Elisabeth Hasselbeck. I was so grateful that I babysit my adorable 2-yr old nephew, MP, on Tuesdays and Wednesdays because he kept my mind off my son's doctor's appointment with bathtime, Lego time, Diego and Dora cartoon time, snack time, etc. But as soon as he and my son went down for their naps at the same time, I had nothing and no one to distract me. I tried watching "Bridge To Terabithia" on HBO, but then I remembered that the little girl (spoiler alert) dies and realized it was a totally inappropriate movie for me to be watching at this time. I was so FREAKIN' NERVOUS!!! I have heard horror stories about doctor's bullying parents into vaccines, making parents feel negligent and unintelligent for their concern. What was going to happen?
But again, as usual, I worried for no reason. I have got to start trusting God and all that is God a lot more in this life (I should add that to my "to-do" list). I have a fabulous and forward-thinking pediatrician. He said he has never had a child react in that way, he understood my concern, said from now on we will not give my son the DTaP shot and he will only receive 1 or 2 vaccines at a time. He has always been happy to let us choose the vaccines we want our son to receive and has given us no grief in the past about refusing some. This time was no different. He said he would support whatever made us most comfortable as parents. I said I only wanted him to have the meningitis shot, he said "Done!" and that was it. Pure and simple. Relief washed over me until I realized that I still had to watch my son scream and cry at the initial shock and pain of being poked with a needle. But, it was my choice and I wasn't bullied into this choice. I wasn't frightened into this choice. It was my researched, intelligent, doing-what-I-can-to-be-a-good-parent choice. It felt great. And I didn't even have to pull out the fighting panties.

Stay tuned to tomorrow's lighter side post, "Quotes from my nephew."

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Media is Freaking Me Out

I think I need to stop watching the news. I will be having a perfectly fabulous day, loving my life, my husband, my son, my house, grateful for our resources and health insurance ... then I turn on CNN, Good Morning America, MSNBC, really any news station except Fox News because no one will ever see that channel on my television, and my day falls apart. I start shallow breathing, my heart races, I switch to panic mode and my thoughts start bouncing around in my brain, beating themselves up in my skull...'What if my husband loses his job? What if we don't have health insurance for our son? What if we lose our house? What if we can't afford food? What if we have to move in with my mom? What if she loses her job? What if unemployment skyrockets to 25%? What if Obama fails? What if we have to eat our dogs because that is the only food we have? What if? What if? What if?' Then, my husband comes home, I pull him into my insanity of what if's and he scolds me for watching the news and listening to the media. Then he calms me down, comforts me, tells me everything is going to be okay and we are lucky because we don't make any money anyway, so making up the difference would be easy for us if anything happened. Then I think, "Yeah, he's right. I feel so much better. I love my husband. I am so grateful to be married to him." Then, I feel fabulous again and the cycle starts over.
Really, I have got to stop watching the news.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Spooky Things

My great-aunt came over yesterday and dropped off some books from her storage shed. Books from my childhood, books I read and played with and drew all over when my sister and I spent every Friday night at our grandparents' house. Those nights were a decent break for my parents and an opportunity for my sister and I to get away with murder. We basically had no rules at our grandparent's house except eating. My grandmother was always concerned that we weren't eating enough ( and with our bowel movements...she used to give us chocolate milkshakes laced with laxatives...) The only rule was to eat complete and healthy dinners and breakfasts. Actually, that wasn't even a rule because if we wanted Long John Silvers, Baskin Robbins and Ding Dongs for dinner, then that is what we got. But eating a healthy breakfast was not an option. We always had a boring, healthy cereal and some kind of fruit, usually either grapes or canteloupes, grapes being my favorite and canteloupe being Jill's.

We played oodles of games at their house. They were extremely accomodating to us and would play anything we requested. For instance, board games. I'm sure playing Life, Murder She Wrote (yes, there was a Murder She Wrote board game and we actually OWNED it) and Clue was not their idea of a fun Friday night (although, to be fair, Wheel of Fortune was their favorite tv show), but they loved us so much that they did it anyway...and with a smile. Another game: Trick or Treat. It didn't matter if it was June or January, we would play T or T. This is how it went: my sister and I would get paper grocery bags (usually from Dillon's - remember that grocery store? ... way before Supercenters...) and stand in the laundry room. Then we would knock on the laundry room door (which led to the kitchen) and say, "Trick or Treat, smell my feet, gimme something good to eat!" and my grandaddy would open the door and put whatever he could find around the house in our bags...apples, peanuts, a can of 7up, an orange, a pencil. What he gave us didn't was the thrill of getting tricks or treats dropped in our grocery bags. Then we would dump it all out and start all over again. Fun, huh?

The most fun, however, came from a book we had as kids. I had forgotten about it until my great-aunt brought it over. It was a Weekly Reader book called "Spooky Tricks" , copyright 1968, by Rose Wyler and Gerald Ames, and it is full of magic tricks and optical illusions for kids to impress their friends. Since the book stayed at our grandparent's house, we only had each other to impress, but our grandparents acted amazed again and again with their ooohs and aaahs following our magic trick performances...tricks such as "You are Full of Holes," "Your Extra 'Spook' Finger," "Pincushion Hand" and "Spooky Hand." Our favorite however, was... "Mummy Finger"(ooohhs and aaaahhhs please) and I wanted to share it now:

First, the kids have to say the Haunted House spell:

"Over this house I cast a spell.
Hocus-pocus, watch me well.
Hocus-pocus, watch and see
things as scary as can be.
Hocus-pocus, danger and doom!
Ghosts and spooks come into the room.
Haunt the house. Start the show.
Hocus-pocus - ready, let's go!"


Say, "What do I have in this box?
A mummy's finger
that I dug up in Egypt.
Do not faint, now."
Open the box.
It is packed with cotton.
Push aside the cotton and --
there is the mummy's finger!

The trick:
It is your own finger.
You poke it into the box
through a hole in the bottom.

The End of this tricky trick

When I showed my husband this "Spooky Tricks" book, he said he had the same book as a child and his favorite trick was also "Mummy Finger." Very spooky.

"The spell is broken. The ghosts all go.
This is the END of the spooky show."

Monday, February 9, 2009

Peace of my day

Something is different about today. I feel at peace. I'm not sure why... all signs point to today being a very frowny kind of day: it is raining outside, I've had a headache all day, my son has been fussy and has refused to take a nap all three times I have tried to put him down, I look like shit (sorry, it is the only word that describes my appearance today), my hair is greasy, I haven't brushed my teeth, I'm still wearing my baggy pajamas and it is almost 5 pm (self-care got kicked to the curb the day my son was born...I've got to reclaim that someday...), I gained two pounds in the month of January when I'm trying to LOSE my pregnancy weight... but somehow those things don't matter today the way they normally do.
Maybe it is because I saw my grandaddy in my son's face today. It is a facial expression he used to give my sister and I when we were kids... he would open his mouth wide and raise his eyebrows in mischief whenever he said something he thought was funny. I loved that playful face and I saw it in my son today when he looked up at me while playing with his Sesame Street toy on a blanket on the floor.
Or maybe it is because I spent a small portion of the afternoon, just a few minutes, thinking about how beautiful my mother's feet are to me. I stared at them a lot as a child, hoping my feet looked like hers someday. She has never had a pedicure, her toes were never painted with nail polish. They were, and still are, simple, honest feet.
Or perhaps it is a reason as pure as watching my son try to suck his thumb and drink from his bottle at the same time. A sight I find to be both amusing and angelic.
No, the extra pounds don't matter today, the fact that I am unrecognizable as my pre-mommy self doesn't matter today, or that I have laundry all over the kitchen floor, dishes in the sink, a brutally dirty bathtub, a bed covered in clothes, two dirty dogs, and music coming from my son's Sesame Street toy that makes me want to hang myself. Something is different about today. Whatever it is, I hope it sticks around. I like it.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Things I Am Sick Of Already Today

1. Elizabeth Hasselbeck on The View
2. Pediatric clinics that don't answer the phone and make it impossible to get your child in
3. chocolate chip cookies that I can't stop eating for breakfast
4. forgetfulness, like forgetting to change my son's diaper and wondering why he is fussy
5. my cell phone when the sound goes out and people hang up on me cause they think I'm not there
6. barking dogs who wake up babies when they are napping
7. chapped lips that never seem to go away
8. washing bottles endlessly
9. mysterious itches and invisible rashes that make me scratch all over my entire body and make me think I am crazy and maybe it is all in my head
10. but mostly Elizabeth Hasselbeck

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Where A Woman Shakes Her Tablecloth

A line from "The Moose" by Elizabeth Bishop. My favorite poet.

I suppose I should begin with the reason I chose this as my blog site title. I've never had a blog before, always writing my thoughts in journals which I have kept for 22 years. Since the seventh grade I have written nonsense in these diaries. Until now, I haven't been able to bring myself to type and enter my nonsense into a computer instead. Why? Because there is a certain nostalgia and intention in writing the old-fashioned way, spelling out a phrase like "Oh my God" is so much more effective than "OMG". But I have given in to technology and the 21st century. I am now a mother of a five month old and typing while he snoozes is so much faster than writing. But I will never give up my journals. I'll still write.

Back to my blog title. I am rather domestic. Not necessarily good at all things domestic, but I am nonetheless. This is a characteristic of mine that I used to fight so hard in my early and mid-twenties. I was ashamed of being domesticated because it wasn't Jack Kerouac-enough. I felt the need to act edgy, aloof, sarcastic, literary. How very young of me to care, I realize now. It wasn't until my late twenties, when I met my husband, that I realized being domestic isn't a bad thing. I consider it an advantage to my situation. I've always loved feeling cozy, in fact "cozy" is one of my favorite words, along with "lovely," both of which are quite domestic words by the way.

This is the reason I love "The Moose." I love the domesticity of the poem. Bishop writes of a bus ride from, to, or in Nova Scotia (I'm not sure which) and the people and sights she passes and the people she meets. The poem has a very domestic feel to it with talk of "narrow provinces/of fish and bread and tea", sunsets, sweet peas, cabbages, and "where a woman shakes her tablecloth/out after supper." That line is my favorite line of the poem.

I like to imagine what this woman looks like, her strong character, her love for her family. And I strive to be like this woman. Courageous, no nonsense, multitasking, supportive of her husband and nurturing toward her children, full of humor and everyday hope. The kind of woman who makes her house a home with photographs on the wall and the smell of dinner on the stove in the evening. The kind of woman who can take care of her family, yet not lose herself in the role she has created. The type who is spiritual, accepting of others, strong in her convictions. A woman who loves a good glass of wine and a deep laugh with her friends.

Women are wonderful. Women are beautiful. Women are passionate, women are lovely. I never understood the importance of having women friends until my thirties. Now, I couldn't live without other women. They are intelligent and supportive, funny and kind. They are the kind who shake their tablecloths out after dinner...and look damn hot doing it.