Sunday, September 30, 2007

agua caliente

this weekend eliana had her first real hot springs experience. we set out on saturday morning to explore jackson hot springs, a small little resort about three hours south of missoula, in the big hole valley. montana is a land blessed with hot thermal waters, in remote, untouched settings. hot springs were things that i hadn't explored much, growing up in southern california. being the piscean, bathing beauty that i am, hot springs are one of my absolute most favorite things in the world. i could stay in the warm, mineral laden water for hours, chatting with folks in the pool, sipping water to rehydrate, and taking in the natural splendor that usually accompanies a montana hot spring. this place was no exception. not too fancy, not too shabby, a rustic lodge sits in the hopping town of jackson, population 49. the hot spring is one large pool, with a perfect temperature of around102 degrees. the warm water is a good thing considering jackson, montana is just about 17 miles from wisdom, montana, which is generally the coldest spot in the country. the sharp fall air settled on the snow dotted plains. the sun was high and the sky a piercing blue. in the distance the pintler and beaverhead ranges soar, giving that pristine, utterly "big sky" feel to this location. getting out of the car after a beautiful drive across the continental divide, i felt proud of the land that i chose to call home (not to sound too woody guthrie or anything...)

we were traveling with the grandparents in celebration of both morty and roseann's late september birthdays, so jeff and i had the advantage of live in, vacation babysitters. we promptly jumped on that and spent most of saturday in the pool alone, while the g's entertained their sweet little one. after a delicious dinner in their restaurant which boasts using local, organic goods, jeff and i were able to hit the pools again, enjoying the almost full moon and watching the white steam off the cool blue water in the darkness.

after breakfast, we decided that eliana needed to experience the magical water. we had already met two other newborns in the pool, and knew that it was worth a try, as these two little tadpoles had loved it. we put her in her "swimmie" diaper and navy gingham suit, with lacy trim skirt and yellow duckie smiling in the center. i think she was just about the cutest thing i've ever seen. i carried her gently down the stairs and lowered her into the warm water. she seemed to take to it immediately. i kept her close to my chest and lowered down, being careful to keep her downy head out of the water. she took it all in and quickly assumed a tadpole like position, her little leggies making a diamond shape in the clear blue below. she seemed to be remembering her nine months in the womb and felt completely relaxed and at ease. this made her mama extremely happy and proud. i felt so moved thinking of all the marvelous wonders i have yet to share with her.

Friday, September 28, 2007

lions, tigers and bears oh my!

elie has seen two bears in the past week. first we saw one heading up the mountain in the rattlesnake wilderness on sunday. it was far enough away that we could watch it move, watch it as it lazily, sexily sauntered around, brown fur and fat gently swaying from it's middle. yesterday as we did our loop through greenough park, watching the green leaves turn to yellow, yapping with dad and lucy, mama spotted a big, brown, furry thing drinking from the creek. lucy looked interested. mom started to speed up. "um...bear...honey...that's a bear," i whispered, trying to remember what the hell you are supposed to do when you see a bear. i put both hands on eliana who was strapped to my chest and walked incredibly quickly down the path. at which point i realized dad and lucy were still loitering -were they trying to approach the bear? had dad decided to just be done with it and sacrifice lucy and all her unexplainable ailments to the higher powers of nature? or dad was trying to stalk the bear in preparation for some super heroic big daddy moment. whatever the case, we high tailed out of there. what kind of life will this little girl have, bears hanging out in the yard, eating the apples on the grass, just trying to do their thing?

body and baby

these photos were taken in august of last year, at a dance workshop in ashland, oregon. the third pic is of my belly in june, 2007. how much i'd grown in a year!

last night i tried to take a dance class. i have been taking dance classes since i was three. the dance studio is a place where i feel safe, feel at home, feel welcome and absolutely confident and comfortable. last night was an exception. i was anxious. i had left my baby with her dad and grandparents during her prime "witching hour", the hardest time of the day for her. i was taking an african inspired hip-hop class, given by a dancing friend and peer. we've performed together for years and actually started our own little performance group a few months before i got pregnant. good timing. the group quickly folded when i got too big to move comfortably, could no longer find my ribs, and jumping posed a huge challenge for my round ligaments. but the point is, i was at the top of my dancing game this time last year. i was in super fine shape, was confident and diva like, ready to strut my afro-latino, modern-fusion inspired moves all over montana.

then pregnancy comes and rocks your body. and even if you deliver vaginally like a rock star (as i did), and you are hiking and doing yoga within a few months of her delivery (as i did), nothing really prepares you to stand in front of a full length mirror and watch your new body navigate through old, cobwebby waters. at first it felt pretty easy. the moves were familiar. i was facing forward. i was wearing black. but then i would turn to the side, and all i would see is that fleshy new silhouette, the leftover belly that at ten weeks, still lingers. i felt the changes when it was time to do push ups and sit ups. i could do one for every three the girls were doing, my body just slower than before. and then my whole dancing style was different. i feel so grounded now with this child, so very rooted in the earth. i was all bent legs and heavy hips, super sultry and low like my fifty plus year old brazilian dancing teacher in los angeles. sexy and mama like. no longer light and weightless.

and then the body image distracted me from the class. i started to not really care what the moves looked like. instead i started fixating. upon reflection, i think this is really ridiculous. really sad. my body has done miraculous things in the last year. while i did gain a ton of weight in pregnancy, it wasn't from binging on ice-cream and chocolate. it was steak. and almonds. and, okay, lots of peanut butter (our bradley method birth class teacher insisted that we eat 80 to 100 grams of protein a try requires quite a bit of peanut butter!). and then my body cooperated and danced eliana out, shooting her onto that red bed just like we were genetically engineered to do. so why am i being so hard on myself? so what if my cords still don't button. none of my mama friend's can fit into their jeans yet, but we are all sexy and strong women. i've been lucky enough to have gone through my 33 years without an eating disorder. this, unfortunately, can't be said for most american women today. so why all the mean looks in the mirror. why the flailing self-esteem? perhaps it's because i feel more beautiful than ever before, and i want my waistline to reflect that beauty, not refute it. maybe because, at the end of the day, i am an american girl, who grew up in a dance studio, who has just always been fairly lucky with regards to metabolism. or maybe i'm just not being patient with myself. all it takes is a look at my little baby, though, and i feel absolutely gorgeous and needed and loved and of incredible value. so i high tailed out of that dance studio, and raced back up the hill to retrive my girl.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

fast forward

i continue to revel in every moment with my baby. my new thing is just staring. i stare at her while she sleeps, watching her little lips mock sucking as she dreams, blissfully, of milk. i watch her when she wakes, watch her as her face contorts into waking mode, her eyes slowly flickering until they finally open, but just halfway like two perfect crescent moons. then we stare at each other, i talk to her, she grunts and gurgles and smiles back, always agreeable and absolutely content. the only upsetting thing about all this love is that it is starting to move too quickly. you know when you watch a movie on fast forward? you can get the gist of it, but all the images just run together? that's how this feels sometimes. i look at the calendar and can't believe that it's almost october. someone asked me how old she was the other day. nine weeks, i replied. nine weeks! does that mean that she is going to be double digit week numbers soon? i don't even want to call her two months because that just sounds too old. i think i'll be calling her "weeks" forever. god forbid i ever have to adjust to "years". and the time of day! yesterday we got back in the car after enjoying an afternoon, family hike up on jumbo saddle. the day was perfect and the views were crystal clear and glowing. the sun was still bright and high, and i still felt energized and active. when we got in the car the clock read 6:58. it was almost seven o'clock! i swear i thought it was four thirty. neither jeff nor i wear watches, so the whole time thing is always a little bit off with us, but i was way, way off in my little hormone induced, stay at home mama brain.

it scares me though. all these brilliant images, just bleeding together like another sunset, another night of rocking and singing, another morning of dosing and feeding, smiling and snuggling. i don't want her to grow. she is already looking so big this week. i don't know if it is because i have to put her in more clothing now that it's getting chilly, but she looks really round and almost bulky sometimes. she's such a big girl the way she goes around in her snazzy little knit cap and pink hoodie. i feel like i am finally getting to really know her personality. she is intense. she loves hard. when she's unhappy she has no qualms letting everyone know. then she's at peace again and it's like the whole ordeal never happened. right now she's sleeping again in her little bed and i feel so far away from her sitting down the hall, typing on the computer. i don't know why i'm here, don't know why i don't just lie next to her again and stare.

the other morning we got into the sleeping, nursing, snuggling cycle. from about seven o'clock on, eliana would nurse for about fifteen minutes, we'd then stare at each other, her lying beautifully in my arms, where we would then promptly manage to fall asleep again. this continued for about four cycles, every hour, on the hour. at about ten forty five, when we were sleeping yet again, i heard someone in my kitchen (we don't lock our doors). my friend bobby said, "gil, are you here?" i called out fr0m the bedroom. there i was, shirtless, though wrapped in a sheet, my beautiful girl under my arm. "uh, hey bob, yeah, we're still in don't usually do this, we are it easy this morning." he laughed. "enjoy it, gil, i'm just borrowing something from jeff." and he was gone.

why do i feel like it's not okay to hang out and doze lazily with my daughter. with life on fast forward and all, i know these days will not last for long. october is around the corner and i go back to work in november. this time is slipping from me. i have to savor every moment, sleep and snuggle and nurse and stare as much as i possibly can.

Monday, September 24, 2007

getting things done

last night my sister said that whenever people ask about me or the baby, she sends them to this blog. she continued to say that then people comment back to her saying things like, wow, she makes it look so easy, she looks like she's having so much fun. etc., etc. i am very honest with my writing and i don't try to paint a rosy picture of motherhood. and i am having fun. and in some ways, if you let go of everything you thought was important before having a baby, it is easy. but in that case, all you can really do in a day is nurse, change diapers, rock, sing and perhaps throw the baby in the sling for a little walk. it's really about finding balance and redistributing priorities. take yesterday. yesterday didn't feel easy. now mind you, eliana was easy. she was a charm. a peach. a delight. and daddy was home for the day, ready to revel in all her glory and hang tough. so they did. and while they played, mommy caught up on a bazillion phone calls while chopping onions, peeling carrots, and preparing the goods for a deer roast dinner in the crock pot, then made eggs and coffee, all, mind you, while talking on the phone. i also moved exceptionally swiftly and with unusual focus. mommy then assessed the horror that was her closet and quickly hung up all the clothes that had managed to end up on the floor that week. upon realizing that it was suddenly cold and rainy out, she ran to the basement to find her winter gear and get that organized in the closet as well. all of this intermittently interrupted by nursing nancy who needed to eat again. at which point i sat still and obsess over all the things i have to get done that can't get done while i'm feeding her. jeff wanted to hang with his folks for a while and watch sports, so i pumped a bottle (another hour) and decided i'd leave elie with them so i could get more done. but what would i do? would i run to the market, or better yet, costco so that i wouldn't have to grocery shop during the week? or i could go to the mall to return some presents elie received so that i could exchange them for some warm clothes, of which she has few. or i could vacuum the floor that was destroyed by all the babies and mama's that were at my house for lunch on friday. or i could do yoga and sit-ups in an attempt to shrink my fleshy, new mama belly. or i could try to do it all. i raced upstairs and did eight sun salutations, holding plank in an attempt to build back up my arm muscles. then it was stomach crunches and push ups, followed by a few quick stretches. it's amazing how even stretching takes a back seat when you are holding a baby all the time. then i ran out the door heading for the market. in a stupid, rash decision, i argued with my masochistic self that costco would be the best place to go. due to our financial situation, with me not working and all, wouldn't it be excessive to go to the good food store and buy a small bag of organic coffee for ten bucks when i could get like a million pounds of kirkland brand coffee for the same price? next thing i know i'm in the costco parking lot on a rainy sunday. lots of suvs. lots of blond children. a few horrifying mullets. why the hell am i here again? oh right. i don't have the baby and i'm a full time mom and this kind of thing is really hard to do when i'm home with her during the week.... so i decided that i could "work out" in costco and that would be another thing that i could accomplish. another thing to check off the list. so i cruised around like a crazy speed walker, pumping my arms and grabbing things quickly and without much thought. i then ended up at the checkout without a few big staples that i had meant to grab. i asked the big man in line in front of me to hold my spot and sprinted back around the store to grab some other loot. of course by the time i returned, the man was gone and the checker was looking at my full cart wondering where the owner was. i gave her this sort of pathetic, apologetic face. i wanted to explain to her that i was shopping without my baby. that at any minute she could wake up and start screaming, wondering where her mom was. that i could scar her forever due to my ridiculous choice of going to costco on a sunday afternoon. i wanted to tell her i felt light, almost naked, walking around the store without the baby securely attached in her sling across my chest. i wanted to tell her how much i could get done in an extremely short time span, how efficient and fabulous and selfless i was to be shopping at this very moment. while all these thoughts ran through my hormonal and cluttered brain, she was patiently waiting for me to produce my costco card so that she could ring up my groceries. i hadn't even noticed her. i then made my way home. when i called jeff from the car asking how elie was she said she was sleeping soundly in her pouch on him, to take my time. it was a bit late for that. i thought of all the other heinous errands i could do out there in americana box store hell and decided to stop punishing myself. i ran home, unpacked the car, and then headed back up the hill to grandpa and nana's abode. right as i walked in the door i heard her little whimpery, hungry cry. jeff was about to warm the bottle. i had made it just in time to do the one job that is really important to me right now.

Sunday, September 23, 2007


baby eliana is beginning to enjoy time playing with all her buddies in her crib. up until a few days ago, her crib was merely a place for all her goods. but ever since gran came and brought elie a fancy fish tank to hang along the bars, and i realized that some day i may want her to sleep in another room, we're trying to give her some "crib time" each day. luckily, eliana loves to be in there. she watches her fish, talks to her bunnies, hippos and bears, and trips out on the shadows her fairy mobile casts on the ceiling. it's almost scary to see her so interactive, so very involved with her surroundings. it's all happening so fast.

Friday, September 21, 2007

simple joys

my life is now a series of beautiful moments. it used to be bigger things. getting to work on time. teaching the kids how to read. rehearsing for a performance. making enchiladas. big things. things that required time and foresight and planning. now there is no planning, only this. now nothing particularly big happens, just a string of lovely, sweet, silly, unique moments. nothing but the present. when elie wakes at six to nurse after seven or so blissful hours of sleep, that is a love moment. she nurses and then falls back to sleep on my bare breast, where she sleeps until jeff's alarm goes off. then she's up with us, laughing and cooing and sending jeffy off with a smile. that's the best. those first few minutes of the day, when eliana realizes, hey, it's a new day! i'm so thrilled to be here! that makes her mom so excited to greet the day as well.

yesterday after our morning smiles, we packed up and headed up the mountain for a hike. autumn is here and the air is blue and crisp, the leaves on the aspens are yellowing, and everything feels charged and invigorating. i love hiking with my baby. she sleeps so well in her carrier, making sweet little noises throughout. at one point i looked down the trail and saw two school age children traversing the middle of the mountain, off the path. my first thought was one of responsibility - who are these kids, why are they not in school, why are they breaking trail and messing with my mountain? then i was distracted by the long, french braids in the girl's hair, her ankle length, long sleeved dress and lace up boots. i soon passed the rest of their family. mama in a white bonnet and long dress as well, holding a big baby on her hip, ten months or so at least. holding her hand was a barely walking toddler. trailing behind them were two others, perhaps three and five, hoofing it up the mountain, skirts whipping behind them in the morning breeze. i looked at myself. my fancy "ergo" baby carrier. my ipod. my patagonia fleece and brand new running shoes. i had so much in place to guarantee that this hike was as easy, as painless and cushiony, as possible. and here was this woman and her six children and not a whole lot else. it brought me back to the simple joys. the natural wonder of it all. that really, beyond our children, everything is superfluous.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


little bucket had her two month appointment yesterday. two months old means the first round of vaccinations. with daddy back at work, mama was on this one alone. of course, this being the lovely and ever so crunchy small town of missoula, montana, immunizations are a pretty hot topic. during our ten week birth class, they came up all the time -- which ones to do, which ones are unnecessary, what links there have been between vaccines and autism, how they can interfere with the natural rhythms of the child, yadda yadda. at that point, i wasn't really listening to a whole heck of a lot about stuff that came after the baby was born. i was still pretty much caught up only in the birth, the big event. what came after that was just too much information to take in at that point. well, of course on monday night when i was frantically googling all the information i could want and more on vaccines, i wish i had listened a bit better. i think there really is too much info out there these days. especially on this topic. so i let jeff spend some time reading. it came down to not wanting her to have anything containing mercury, and holding off on hepatitis b because, seeing as how she is not sexually active and won't be having a blood transfusion, it seemed a bit over the top.

but then i find myself alone with my very lovely and very intelligent pediatrician. because this is a small town, of course i just happened to have taught her son how to read and have a relationship with her outside of the doctor's office. i trust her very much, both as a mother and as a physician. so she broke it down and basically said that there is no medical evidence proving any ill claims about any vaccines. she said the hep b was all part of a larger shot and if i did them all together, it would cut down on the number of injections that belly bucket would need to have. so i swallowed my earthy concerns and went for it. of course, that's when my doctor friend told me she would be sending the nurses back in to do the dirty work because, of course, she "didn't want to be the one to make eliana cry!"

so two nurses came in and told me to hold elie's hands down. they came at either leg with a syringe and little bucket started bawling. she squished up her sweet face and made the looked, momentarily, like a very,very angry old man. within seconds it was over and within a few more, she had finished crying. i held her tightly, trying to contain my own tears in our embrace. of course i didn't fool anybody and one of the nurses passed me a few kleenex. i felt terrible, drained, frustrated, spent. eliana the brave was so resilient, but i just couldn't shake the ugly, gray, vaccine cloud hanging over me.

bucket was pretty out of it for the rest of the day. between the trauma, the tylenol and the side effects, she just wasn't her usual, bright eyed self. and, as luck would have it, we just happened to have concert tickets that night. oh yes, mom doesn't make it easy for the bucket. mom's always pushing the envelope, scheduling shots and loud music all into one action packed day! actually jeff's sister had bought all of us tickets to hear ladysmith black mambazo play at the university theatre and i was really quite looking forward to the event. but bucket, in her post doctor gruff, was just not so into it. i spent the first half of the show getting in and out of my seat, feeling horrible for the people behind me, feeling like that person in the theatre who i usually hate, the person i see try to manage her wiggly and annoying small child that makes me think to myself, "who in god's name brings a child to the theatre?" now that person is me!

luckily i made friends with the ushers who let me nurse bucket in their special usher booth, where i could still here the music. then she mellowed and we stood at the back of the theatre and rocked to the african harmonies. i loved watching their synchronized moves, remembered my late career as an african dancer, laughed at how far i've traveled since i thought mastering fancy kicks or subtle hand movements was a priority.

Saturday, September 15, 2007


last week i got the most tremendous news. my mom, after seeing the pictures of eliana smiling and interacting with her mobile, decided to book a ticket to come see us. my mother is not a spontaneous woman. she is organized, thinks things through, and always has a clear plan. when she said, "how does next week work for you" as a time to visit, i was floored. for years i have been telling her about great deals from burbank to spokane, always offering to make the three hour drive (six if you go both ways...) to the airport in spokane. it is literally three to four hundred dollars cheaper to fly into spokane intl than missoula. so mama booked the ticket, and elie and i got ready for our road trip.

at first the whole thing gave me this combo excitement/anxious feeling. think of how far you've come, i told myself. i can remember when i was anxious about driving eliana to the good food store (which is about seven minutes from our house). the learning curve is fast and furious when you are a new mom. so thursday morning came, and after a good long feed, i put her in her carseat and we hit the highway. eliana screamed the first ten miles or so. i contemplated pulling over at every exit, thought about calling my mom and telling her that i wouldn't make it, but then sped up and decided to persevere. letting my baby cry is not easy for me. especially when she's strapped in to a little chair and i am miles away in the front seat. what i didn't remind myself is that i do, indeed, have the most amazing baby in the universe. and this amazing baby managed to cry herself to sleep before we even hit frenchtown, and then slept the entire three hours until we reached spokane. the whole drive i was waiting for the wails, waiting for her to wake and cry. i even hallucinated some elie whimpers. i'd turn the radio down and realize that she was silent, i was just making them up, making up things to be concerned about.

we found my beautiful mama waiting on the curb by the southwest terminal. she sat in the back with elie while we made our way to coeur d'alene for lunch. we sat on the sidewalk and sipped ice tea while little perfect nursed like the demure lady she is. we then packed everyone back up in the car. within five minutes, eliana was out again and we made the drive home with a blissed out sense of contentment.

now it's my theory that eliana was really on superior behavior the whole time her gran was here. i think she wanted to show off, perhaps let her british grandmother know that she did, indeed, inherit all the manners and refined qualities passed to her through her gran's lineage. we spent three beautiful days talking, lounging, nursing, eating and just admiring, with ever so much wonder and awe, eliana. my mom slept in elie's room on the futon and she was really able to get a sense of what our days are like.

eliana didn't bring elsinore out the whole time my mom was here. there were no long witching hours, no inconsolable cries. perhaps it was because we didn't try to do too much and elie didn't have to spend too much time outside of her house. perhaps she was just in a calm way. i'm not sure. all i know is that i have the best baby on the planet (who even did her first eight hour straight sleeping stint while her gran was here!)

sunday came and we decided to head to coeur d'alene to spread out the driving and take a little mini-vacation. eliana had her first adventures in a hotel room. she seemed to love her time there and fell asleep in her gran's arms, letting mom take her first bath in weeks. when i emerged from the bath i found that gran was asleep too, baby elie asleep in the crook of her arm. this image of these two people, the one who gave me life and the one i gave life to, asleep together in absolute peace, was worth every second of the car trip. it was one of those moment's that makes life shine, brilliant and true and full of all good things.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


my sweet petunia found her hands! these days, she usually wakes with a smile on her face. this morning she woke up smiling, had a delicious, luxurious, leaky, sopping breakfast, and then fell of the breast in her usual, satiated, drunk stupor. but instead of falling asleep as is so often the case, this time, she looked at me with those beautiful eyes, flashed a dimple filled, quirky smile, and then started shoving her little hands into her mouth. how amazing! how advanced! i tell ya, with each new day she continues to astonish me.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


i am started to understand how arbitrary "what works" with your baby is. you can read all the books you want, learn all the tricks that are supposed to calm crying or stimulate brain development or encourage fine motor skills, but sometimes the whole thing feels like a crap shoot. take yesterday for example. yesterday was jeff's 31st birthday. now those of you who really know me, know that i pride myself on being a birthday princess. i love my birthday and i love other people's birthdays and i truly believe that as long and fabulous and drawn out you can make your bday, the better. so after throwing a dinner for our friends and family on sunday, jeffy and i still decided to go out on his 'real birthday.' jeff and i don't go out to fancy restaurants very often, but on our birthdays, we always treat each other to a dinner at the red bird, our favorite, spendy spot in town. well it just so happened that on this year, the year of our struggling financial situation, dealing currently with only one income, i luckily had held on to a gift certificate for this particularly fabulous wine bar. so jeffy and i decided to try our luck at an early dinner with the baby bucket.

at all. there are also fancy people there. people wearing expensive heels instead of the red bird wine bar is dark with trippy red lights hanging from the ceilings and walls. there are no windows and it's generally fairly cool. it has a super, swank city vibe - not very missoula. women in here wear real carrie bradshaw style heels instead of sturdy danskos. people here are on first dates and are trying to look sexy. we tried to slink in, inconspicuously, as if we fit in. we found a booth in the far corner of the restaurant and immediately upon sitting down, eliana started to fuss. i pushed the table back, slyly lifted my peasant blouse, and tried to nurse. this caused her to fuss more. the fussing turned into crying. jeff and i have this theory that when i'm nursing in public, elie picks up on my self-conscious vibe, and then becomes distressed herself. jeff suggested i go out into the lobby of the hotel by the restaurant and nurse her in a place where i felt more relaxed. he was happy with his beer, chatting with our server who just happens to live with our good friend. she is going through a break-up with another friend of ours, so again, the small town made the situation very easy - she wanted to chat about lost love, and jeff didn't want to drink alone on his birthday. i headed out and server friend moved into my spot at the table.

in the lobby elie latched on with comfort and ease. i grabbed a newspaper and we settled into some comfort nursing. ten minutes later or so, when i was sure she was settled, i gently lifted her, still clutching my breast with her sweet little fishy lips, and we walked back inside. from here she performed beautifully. i had explained to her in the lobby that it was dad's birthday and that we really wanted to enjoy a nice dinner. i told her that if she could just hold it together for an hour or so, we would be ever so grateful. i promised her we'd go right home after we ate. she seemed to listen. she nursed calmly for the duration of the dinner. through the bison sopes with almond mole, through the crabcakes with potato mash, the little bucket dreamily sucked. just as we were finishing up, bucket came off and decided she was tired of the red and black room. she was done tripping on the lights. she was ready to get back outside.

we walked back over the bridge to our car talking about how fantastic little baby bucket was. how we really do have the very best baby on the block. and can you believe she is sleeping in seven hour stretches? and we don't want to tell any of our other friends with baby's how splendid she is, we don't want to instill envy because she is just so darn perfect.

we decided to push our luck and go by jeff's parents place on the way home. they had pie to share. we headed up the hill to their place. and bucket, as aware as ever, changed her tune. enough with this good behavior, enough with being calm. hadn't i promised her we would go home after the red bird? i had. she started to scream. not just sort of whimper, not sort of whine, scream. almost hyperventilate style scream. screaming with little, tiny baby tears forming at the bottom of her perfect little eyes. i told jeff to drop us off at home and continue with his birthday solo.

he happily fled the scene, leaving me alone with an inconsolable elsinore. of course, i knew she was overtired, overstimulated. she had been up for nearly five hours, way too long for my baby bucket. so i pulled out my bag of tricks. i started with the 'sure bet', the boob, the chair and her showtunes. i sang loudly. i sang with all the passion and fervor i put into trying out for the lead in my high school musicals (i never did get the part...). i rocked furiously in the chair. she continued to cry, to bite at my nipple, to spit milk all over us, all over the boppy, all over my pretty 'out to dinner' blouse. i tried other songs (she particularly loves 'rent' and 'wicked') to no avail. i watched the clock. another 20 minutes went by. then an hour. tears of exhaustion, of worry, streamed down my cheeks. was she sick? did she have a fever? no. she was just done. she was just being a baby.

i then realized that i was really hot and there was no reason to keep getting my shirt milky. i took the boppy pillow off my middle, placed it on the footrest, and put her head at the center of the 'u' shape so that i could have my hands free to take off my shirt and pull my hair back into a bun. the second her head hit that pillow, her screams stopped. her eyes suddenly popped open, bright and alert, and she stared, happy as a clam, at the ceiling. i didn't really know what to do. where was the noise? the screams, so suddenly stopped, made the silence almost uncomfortable. just the pure love of her cd filled the room. of all the things. i had put her down, mid scream, on a milk stained pillow, and she shut up. after an hour of rocking and singing, swaddling and shushing, dancing around the house, holding her tight, talking her through it, her head on the boppy seemed to be the ticket. she tripped out on the ceiling in a blissed out silence. i shook my head at the arbitrary nature of the whole scene. in no book does it say, 'lay your child's head on your milk stained, nasty, stinky, boppy pillow as a last resort to soothe crying.' yet last night, in that moment, it worked wonders.

after a few minutes, i gently lifted her back to my breast. she nursed blissfully. when her dad came home, he popped his head in the room and gave me the thumbs up sign. i wiped the tears from my face and shook my head as if to say, 'if you only knew.' she nursed for the next hour or so and i slept, exhausted, worked, in the glider. these pics are of the aftermath....

Monday, September 10, 2007


we live in a culture of fear. that has become all the more apparent to me since becoming a mother. all during pregnancy, books, people, websites tell you all the things that can go wrong and somehow harm the baby during the course of your babies gestation. don't eat this, don't do this, don't buy this because any one of those things will result in your baby somehow not being okay. one woman in my small town apparently said to another, who then told me (again, this is a really small town) "i hope gillian isn't dancing. if she's dancing, her baby will come out bow-legged!" i mean, this is serious stuff. then birthing the baby welcomes a whole new set of worries. for me to deliver my child at a birth center, with no anesthesiologist and no icu and no doctor was a huge no no to some folks (after doing it, and doing it quite fantastically, i can't believe that i ever felt afraid). then, of course, having a baby opens up a whole new set of don'ts. don't bring her into the sunshine. don't eat hot peppers or onions or garlic or she may become colicky. and don't become too stressed out or you may stop producing milk. well this one, at this point, for me personally, is the silliest one i've heard yet. i am a copious milk producer. my little baby shall not want. in fact, we are currently trying to figure out a solution to the involuntary "milk showers" that mama is giving baby. poor thing needs to be bathed after she's fed because mama inadvertently gives her mega milk shots left and right. the first time my nipple sprung a leak and squirted madly at my baby, i didn't even recognize it, it seemed so strange. i thought a transparent, gossamer thread was somehow connected between my breast and my baby's cheek. i tried to remove this thread and indeed was able to put my finger right through it, like something out of the movie 'ghost.' i still didn't realize what it was - that is truly how foreign this little situation was for me. then i realized and felt like such a silly new mom! of course, that is a little milk squirt. i wiped elie's face and laughed at myself. well now those incidents seem to be occurring with more frequency and muchisma mas leche. sometimes my little girl gets started on the nipple slowly. she takes long, luxurious sips and doesn't suck too hard, just warming up to the event. well my body is apparently not too into the warm-ups. i shoot milk like mad making her splutter and spit, and fall off the breast in an uncomfortable, messy panic. then my wild ducts decide to keep on trucking. this morning three ducks open fired on little sweeties face. i was sitting on the sofa and didn't have any of my nursing comforts around (little wash cloths or burpy cloths or even a tissue for this sort of thing). not knowing what to do, i kind of stalled while milk squirted like crazy on to her forehead, into her eyes, on her little fuzzy head, until i realized that i had to make it stop. i grabbed the edge of my tee shirt and applied direct pressure to the nipple, just like i learned in girl scouts when stopping a cut finger from bleeding. i then used the edge of my gauchos to wipe up eliana, who looked a little shell shocked, but then broke out into a little smile....i guess if anyone wants to be covered in my breast milk, it's probably her!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

little buddy

my little buddy and i are having a splendid saturday. she is even sitting in her little vibrating chair while i type this post right now as we speak, just cooing and giggling away while i get a chance to brag about her to the world. today we went to the farmer's market where she slept, beautifully, in her little sling while mama chatted and bought the most fabulous 'state fair' apples (mama's favorite time of year at market is apple time!) then we came home, had a good nurse under the ash tree out back, and decided to saddle up to go back downtown to meet dad who was working a booth at a children's fair for the school. right next to the children's fair was missoula's hempfest celebration. so missy and i packed up her stroller and headed downtown. she actually managed to enjoy her stroller for about fifteen minutes before she woke up and protested, demanding to be back in the sling in her favorite 'mimicing the womb' position. she then passed out with her little face pressed against, guess where, happily for the next few hours, letting mom wander around and mingle with all the folks about town. we then met her dad, hung with more of her fans, and finally, headed home. on the river trail walk home, miss big girl eliana actually slept in her carriage the whole way! she didn't even wake up when dad and mom were completely overtaken by massive amounts of griz fans. go griz! just was actually the closest mom's ever been to actually participating in a griz game. and that was just enough for mom! but the real reason for this post is to put up these beauteous shots of miss thang in her little missoulaed out onesie, in her chair, happy as a peach, the best bucket ever.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

baby bucket sleeps

my baby bucket continues to amaze us. last night she slept from 10 to 12 (during which time her parents managed to watch two, super sleezy episodes of grey's anatomy and indulge, in pre-bucket tv splendor), then nursed at 12 and managed to sleep until....are you o'clock when jeff's alarm went off! what a woman! then she nursed again then slept til ten, allowing her mama time to shower, tidy the house and get ready for her friend's a.m. visit. i was then able to brag about her to my pregnant, blogging muse friend, nici, who could then get even more excited about her bug's arrival. after lattes and delicious treats she brought from the break bakery, i was able to reflect and nurse while listening to prince sing joni's "a piece of you." listening to this song, these words i've thought about oh so many times over the past decade, looking out at the beautiful, blustery, september day, watching my bucket sleep on my breast, feeling so safe and happy and warm in my's all too much sometimes. too much goodness. too much love.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

big girl

so my big girl was fantastic today! she slept until noon after her nine a.m. feeding. mama hardly knew what to do! she actually managed to poach eggs for breakfast and was able to take the time to butter her toast just so. i checked on the little bucket who was asleep in a little pool of breast milk on my bed and she was still slumbering. so i decided to clean and tidy the house. i even managed to run the vacuum cleaner and swift the floors. and yet she slept on! so i even began to plan dinner. finally she stirred...only to wow me some more. while laying on her changing table for an extra long time as mom tried to maneuver the silly cloth diapers on the poor child, she actually started responding to her mobiles. she lay there smiling and laughing and having the time of her life looking up at her butterflies and cranes. how wonderful it is to watch her grow like this!

just the two of us

i am one of those rare women who has been able to stay home with her baby and husband. jeff and i are both teachers which means we have the luxury of enjoying our summers together and fancy free. while this summer was unlike any we've ever had (no exotic, foreign travels, no mega road trips, no outdoor adventures BUT one truly splendid, better-than-the-rest birth and baby experience!), it was similar to others in that neither of us worked. until today. at six thirty the alarm went off and jeffy did his thing to get ready for the first day of school. and i can't tell you how happy i am that i didn't have to be a part of it. you know, it's funny. i had a premonition about this first day of school. i don't have many of those - premonitions. but when i have them, they seem to be strong. last september on the first day of school, i was walking to work. i walked under this big cottonwood that i always pass beneath and i had the strongest sense. the sense told me that this was going to be the last first day of school for me for a while. it told me that things were going to change this year - my life as i knew it would change. a month later i was pregnant with eliana.

i've held on to that moment quite a bit. i truly believe that i was absolutely ready to have a child. for months before jeff was ready to try and conceive, i thought and dreamed about having a baby. around springtime last year, thoughts about baby became almost an obsession. i remember one weekend when joellen, brianna and i went to goldbug hot springs for a backpacking weekend. joellen has a child (two now) and brianna doesn't. bri doesn't even have a boyfriend and is the epitomy of a modern, single woman. it seemed the conversation of babies and families kept coming up. and, of course, joellen and her husband, bobby, were dying for us to have a baby because they knew they would be starting on their second soon (and as luck would have it, eliana and jiah are only four days apart!) it was the first time i really felt that shift between a single friend and a married friend, a friend far from wanting a family, and a friend who already had one.

so that's a tangent. and somehow i ended up with not just one friend with a new baby, but a whole, fabulous handful. in fact, when i wrap up these morning words, i will start calling around to see what mama and baby couple wants to go for a walk with us this morning. or maybe we can make a lunch date. or maybe just rap on the phone about breast pumps or sleep patterns. because i am officially a stay-at-home mom this week. i may only have two months of it, but i plan on making them absolutely fantastic.

Monday, September 3, 2007


i just realized that in all these weeks, i haven't much mentioned diapers. perhaps that's because they've never really bothered me. that is, they never really bothered me before this weekend. so we just finally made the transition to cloth diapers. putting your baby in cloth diapers in missoula is sorta similar to drinking from a reusuable coffee mug in missoula. you just do it. you would never be caught with a paper coffee cup, god forbid one with a little black, plastic lid, or double, good god forbid, a paper cup from starbucks (we even protested the opening of that coffee place, people with signs stood around in front for weeks!) so it was just sorta always assumed, especially by my enviro-husband, that we would use cloth diapers. but the little peanut was so little, that we resisted for a while, knowing that we would have to put two cloth diapers together just to get it to stay on her little bum. but the time came this weekend. we busted out the clothies, the snazzy diaper wraps, the little snapey clip thing and felt of so fabulous about ourselves in the process.

so there we are at the bike and beer festival on saturday and my little one who never just starts bawling out of nowhere, starts up. sure enough. the poor thing is soaking wet. so we lay her out on the grass and strip her down and her dad pulls those silly cloth diapers as hard as he can to get a "secure fit." but sure enough, a few hours later while eating my cobb salad with little elie on my lap at 'the depot', i looked down to find a lovely river, actually tributary, a goldenrod stream, decorating my favorite pants. so then we did the change in the restaurant bathroom, little missy laying on her changing pad between the two sinks (i had this fear that her head would fall in the little hole of a trash can that they cut in the middle of the faux marble countertop!) while all sorts of cute, collegiate griz fans came in and sorta looked, aghast, at the flailing mom and her poor, shitty daughter.

but still, we persevered. yesterday we went with the fam for a beautiful hike in the bitteroot valley. at kootenai falls, we sat by the creek and nursed while all the other crazy kesslers (excluding morty) went in the water. of course roseann somehow managed to go in in her clothes, while everyone else hooted and hollered like river banshees. elie continued to nurse peacefully, us nestled with lucy in our little patch of shade. in fact, let me capture this moment for you. here are the crazy nuts in the water. here is newly mellowed mama, her perfect daughter and her neurotic dog, on the bank. (i am trying to insert the photos in the appropriate place, but they might end up at the top...i'm working on my layout techniques!)

anyhoo. so the day continued in it's brilliant way. we decided to give eliana a little "baptismal" in the holy waters of kootenai creek. roseann hasn't been able to stop asking jeffy to baptize eliana in the catholic church. unfortunately for her, mama gillie has never even sat through a catholic mass. it seems sorta wrong for a child to be baptized in a church that her mom is clueless about. i want that sort of ceremony for her, something fully honoring her and bringing those who love her together, but not in a church that i know nothing about. so for now, the creek seemed fine. and her dad blessed her with some water (dotting the cool water right by the yellow sap mark from the cottonwood tree we were nursing beneath! what a montana girl!) and we said some sweet words and all was lovely. the little missy had been sleeping and/or nursing the whole day and was superbly behaved on this special sunday. we headed down for the car and mom got in back with eliana while dad was driving. she then showed me how very advanced her eyes are and tripped out the whole way on this little mirrored/musical mobile thingy my mama sent her. she made the sweetest little sneaky smile faces at herself in the mirror and looked at the little soft, stuffed fishies hanging from the hot pink plastic. i marveled at how well she did on this long drive, bragging about her to her dad the whole way. until we got on the outskirts of town...i heard her make a little farting noise and looked down. suddenly, mustardy gook, lots of it, flowing out the side of her stupid cloth diaper and down, down, down her body, down to the back of her car seat and even through the carseat to it's base and, even, if you can believe it, on to the apolstry of the honda! amazing! what a tremendous poop for such a small child. but even more amazing...did we forget to diaper this child?? oh no. it's just the damn cloth diaper working oh-so-well again!!!

luckily we were sort of close to uncle josue's house. "josue, it's gil. we have a diaper emergency! can we use your lawn??" and within a few minutes we were pulling her out of the muck, marveling at the amount of goldenrod that had flowed through the backseat, that was stuck up and down elie's backside, on her feet, in her mama's hair, on mama's arms. i stripped her down and stuck her in josue's sink. she absolutely hated that and screamed her best elsinore screams. she even had little tears in her angry eyes. imagine that. you are happily going around in your sling on your mama's chest in the woods. then you're happily crusing along in your carseat. then suddenly you are naked, covered in shit, and getting hosed down in a sink. that totally sucks. so i got her warm, dressed her in a new onesie, snuggled her in a clean blanket, and sat down on josue's couch for a long comfort feed. wherein we discussed the merits of cloth diapers.

of course, my husband has done lots of research on the topic and really, if it weren't for the peer pressure of our small and ever so environmentally righteous town, jeffy would probably be able to argue that, in the end, the water used to wash cloth diapers is equally troubling for the environment as the amount of plastic filling the landfills when using disposables. i say, forget the peer pressure! i still wear lipstick even though none of my friends in this sweet city wear make-up. i still don't downhill ski even though everyone else does. it's okay to be an individual. hey, we even stopped composting! people still like us. but this diaper thing is totally sick. we were doing so fine before. i thought i had it all figured out. and now we have just another new thing to deal with.

jeffy says we need to give it a month. a very generous family friend gifted us the diaper service and all we have to do is stick with it for a little while - we don't even have to wash the damn things! so here we are, cloth diapers and all. and i just heard little elie pass some gas. and i'm dreading having to see how things look in there!