Monday, October 27, 2008

barf out

People who know me really well know that nothing freaks me out more than puke. I'm not suggesting that anyone enjoys throwing up, but I absolutely fear it. I would rather writhe around in agony than face that bowl. Before I gave birth, my biggest fear about labor was throwing up during transition. I was more afraid of puking than not using drugs.

That said, when Eliana woke up crying in the middle of the night, sour vomit all over her crib, caked in her hair, and soaking her sleepy sack, I was pretty damn upset. It took me a minute to get over my issues and step up to the mommy plate. I didn't have much time to process until she started heaving again, this time all over the floor and futon in her room. Poor, sweet chicken.

I'll spare you the rest of the details. Already I feel gross and weird even writing about my most dreaded bodily function. But I'll tell ya what. The body is pretty amazing in figuring out how to rid us of toxins. And little Elie's cuerpita is no exception.

I'm pretty certain she had a reaction to a veggie dog I gave her for lunch. That's just my gut feeling (pun intended). I'm really not into fake protein - I'd take a steak any day - but for whatever reason, the damn soy dogs called my name in the market. It seemed like a good way to "beef up" Eliana's protein intake. Bad move, mom. And while we can't be certain, let's just say that Lucy will be enjoying some lovely fake wieners in her bowl this week.

But the point of the post isn't the puke. It's my little brave heart. Do you know that she never cried, even though we were up for hours, up until she had emptied every single last crumb in her belly. She was so sensitive, that just moving her position in my arms would ignite another expulsion. So she sat in my arms, me holding her still seated on the edge of the tub, us both in this middle of the night, sicked out haze. She was so still. So strong. So cooperative.

We'd have these moments where we'd be standing over the sink, looking into the bathroom mirror. Even though she does look an awful lot like my husband, I saw the way we had the same look in our eyes. This look of perseverance, of exhaustion, of trying to press on through en route to the other side.

In that mirrored reflection, I felt the incredible strength of our connection. I felt the infinite capacity I have to comfort her. All she wanted was to be held by me. In my arms, she knew that she could get through it. Even though I was scared and worried and feeling rather helpless myself, I was somehow giving her the courage she needed to stay strong.

I guess it's good that I haven't weaned her considering all she's taken in today has been breast milk. She's just wanted to be held and we regressed, together, into the time when she was a little, tiny baby. She fell asleep on my breast and in my arms like she used to. I held her an extra long time and rubbed her cheeks and got lost in her eyelashes like the old days. This afternoon she was super tired, but wouldn't let me leave her alone in the crib. Even though I nursed her to sleep, the minute I put her down she would wake up.

So I made us a bed on the futon and somehow got us in this spooning sort of position, all snugly under the fleece blankie. Anyone who has an active toddler can attest that the notion of snuggling, let alone spooning, for more than a few minutes seems ludicrous. But we stayed like that the two of us, her so still and content (and big!) in my arms, me so glad to have a moment to close my eyes, feel her breath, and be present, even when faced with a sea of muck.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

so much laughter

elie and the pumpkins
My girl Ani has a quote that talks about, "so much shouting, so much laughter." That line is playing in my head right now when I think about these days with my daughter. While we don't shout, we definitely make noise. We sing songs. We talk and talk. We play music on the little radio in Elie's room, on her piano, on the weird, African instrument that her Auntie Kelli brought back from Ghana. We chase each other around the house and stomp our feet.

We laugh together. Laugh loud. Laugh hard. We have certain predicable times when she'll do something that she knows will make me laugh. She throws herself backwards and into my arms off of the cushions on the couch. She pokes my belly button. She hides behind doors and pops out with a giant smile. She giggles and nuzzles her favorite pictures of kitties and doggies in her books. When I'm putting on my lipstick in the morning, she stands by me and makes a funny face and smacks her lips together. She knows it always makes me laugh (...sometimes a bit nervously as I freak out about gender roles and whether or not I'm being a bad model by wearing make-up...then I get over myself and realize I'm a great model, lipstick and all).

These days with Eliana are infinitely precious.

Still, I've been having this on and off mommy guilt about the amount of time we have to spend apart. My job at school this year is much more demanding. I also work two nights a week and miss my fair share of bedtimes. My days can feel exhausting and long. Needless to say, I'm not always as radiant as she is.

But my new motto is to be as absolutely present with her as I can when we are together. It's not time to sorta check my email while I sorta flip through a book with her. It's not the time to try and sweep the kitchen floor or tidy up our wreck of a house. It's time to be with my honey. This weekend we have had so many opportunities for loud, silly laughter. We've been to lots of pumpkin parties and walked together in the golden leaves. The three of us have snuggled in bed. Jeff and I have exchanged lots of looks that say, how do we deserve this much love?

Monday, October 20, 2008


Life with baby could be called, "life in extreme." Extreme love. Extreme intensity. Extreme need. Extreme beauty. Extreme helplessness. Today I'll go with Extreme Toddler. From the moment she is up in the morning, Eliana is non-stop. She talks and talks, wants to be read to, wants to play, wants up, wants down, wants out, wants in. You get the picture. So we are extreme together.

Then after dropping her off, I race to school where I am Extreme teacher-lady. I always like to add "lady" to my title at work because I feel like such a lady when I'm there, so not the sloppy goofball I am on the weekends. So teacher lady dictates sentences and reads stories and teaches about similes and takes running records and tells people to hush. Then teacher lady races back up the hill to find her Pea.

Upon seeing her mama, happy toddler Pea goes from laughing and smiling to immediately pulling on the collar of my tee shirt and whining. Even the shirts I didn't intend to have look like they're outta "Flashdance" are sporting that look lately. So I nurse Eliana and, of course, try not to feel somehow "bad" about myself because I'm trying to not nurse her during the day so much, though I don't care at all, it's just all the books and people who say it's going to be so much harder to wean the longer I wait, so now at 15 months maybe I'm starting to inch into that "freaky nursing mom" category when mom's nurse their babies way too long. And I'll tell ya. I have seen my fair share of up-close-and-personal mommies nursing their four year olds in between bites of burger. And while now I feel like a bit of a loser for judging any mama's personal breatfeeding choices, you've gotta admit, four is a tad bit mature.

So, I move through and beyond all my weaning anxieties, hang out with my mother-in-law for a bit and hear about her tales of her recent trip to Portland, then tear myself away because I know there's way too much more to do. Head to my least favorite spot, Albie's (aka Albertson's), to pick up birth control pills so Eliana doesn't have a lil buddy just yet. $20.00 worth. I remember when they were $5.00. So I curse our health care system under my breath, wax nostalgic for the good ol' California public school teaching days where I went to the dentist like, every three months, just because it was so very free. Don't ask me when the last time I saw a dentist was. That shit changes when you don't have dental care.

So we needed bread and some other junk, so I raced around the store while Eliana, aka, Shark, chewed on the nasty metal bar on the cart. Yes, I tried and tried to stop her. Yes, she went right back on chewing the minute I looked up. And I can't put her down and let her walk cuz she'll pull stuff off of the shelves and get lost. I didn't have the Ergo. And Albie's doesn't have fancy carts for kids like The Good Food Store. Oh, how I love The Good Food Store. Oh, how I loathe Albie's.

So we came home and mommy tried to make chili with all the damn deer sausage she has left in the freezer. There's only so much one can do with deer breakfast sausage. Believe me. Chili works. So while I'm trying to chop onion and brown meat, Eliana is pulling jams off the shelves, throwing "pasas" around, feeding crackers to Lucy, eating food out of Lucy's bowl, taking dirty clothes out of the laundry basket and distributing them around the house, bringing me books to read to her, and, generally, all over everything.

So I stopped cooking (though I really kept cooking, so I burned the meat), and gave my daughter the undivided attention she so clearly wanted. We read. In fact, I'm pretty sure we read The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Piggies and Goodnight Moon like, eight or nine times each. Said the word "hush" way too many times for a normal person in one day. And every time I would try and run out to pee or stir the now almost totally scorched chili, should would cry out, "mama, no, no, no!" and whine and follow me around.

Finally Jeff came home and advised me to take a walk. Always one to sense when I'm overwhelmed, he sent Lucy and I on our merry way around the park. But it was raining. And my calves feel like they've been beaten with a bat because of the hike I did yesterday. And there were weird, sketchy dog owners with even sketchier dogs who were getting Lucy all riled up. And it was stressful and not really relaxing at all.

I kind of feel like Alexander and His No Good, Very Bad, Day. If you don't know what I'm talking about, come visit my classroom library.

Anyway. The day began to turn. I ate the chili and, celebrated the real reason for chili, grilled cheese sandwiches. I had a tiny, much needed, glass of red wine. I then raced out to the Birth Center to tell my birth story to a room full of pregnant couples, as a favor to my doula who is teaching the class. I so didn't want to go out in the rain and schlep to the other side of town. But soon enough, I was walking back into that sacred space where Eliana entered the world.

I remembered all the funny details of that day. Remembered the heat and the walks around the building and the sound of the jets in the tub. Remembered the song that we played to try and lower my blood pressure, the way Jeff held me on that red bed and tried to get me to mellow out so we didn't have to go to the hospital. Remembered the way Jody, my doula and friend, told jokes in between contractions and tried to keep the scene light, keep it normal. Remembered how big the birthing room seemed, how it was absolutely the only thing in my universe that day. Well, until my little friend arrived.

Didn't want to toot my horn too much, but loved telling the class how Elie shot out like the little fireball she is, how I never had to "pass the shoulders", one of my big, pre-birth anxieties. How my body voluntarily pushed for me, how I never really had to scream the way the ladies do in the movies. Loved remembering that quiet time, late at night, when we were still safe and secure at the Birth Center. Before we were released into the wild, unknowns of the real world.

Walking back out to my car in the rain, I remembered the way we fumbled when we put Elie in her carseat for the first time. How dark it was and how tired we were. The rev of a motorcycle pack racing down Reserve Street. The way Jeff and I exchanged a knowing glanced that affirmed, yes, the world is full of loud, scary, unexpected unknowns. Yes, we are in charge of her forever.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

fleeting fall

greenough fall

Fall is, perhaps, my favorite season here in Missoula. Perhaps it's because she's such a tease. She sweeps in outta nowhere, changes everything around, and then takes off, taking all the color and life and energy of vibrant, sunshiny days with her. We mourn her absence with someone we'll call, Winter. We'll talk about him another time.

Anyway, it's been a beautiful weekend. I had Friday off and so it felt extra long and satisfying. Eliana and I didn't do a whole lot of anything in particular. Lots of books and legos and cuddling. Some quality time with some of her little buddies. Lots of practicing her new words like, "bus" and "down" and "snow" (which I think is particularly easy for her because it rhymes with her other favorite word, "no"). Lots of time in the park. She's really into play things these days, particularly slides. She actually seems to spend more time attempting to climb up them. She's like her daddy like that.

Another new development is the fact that she no longer likes to be in her stroller in the park, she, instead, likes to stroll. She managed to walk almost the whole lap of Greenough (about a mile and a half), refusing to be carried, whining when placed back in the stroller. It was a good exercise in being in the moment, trying not to get antsy when she strayed off the path to oogle at yet another leaf, trying to see the world from her eyes, everything totally new and tremendous.

I enjoyed some splendorious time on my favorite mountain, senior Jumbo. Felt pretty darn lucky to have this mountain in my yard. Felt pretty darn lucky about the whole thing - this town, these friends, this man, this girl - the whole, lovely package.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

mornings at our house

Eliana is really into giving kisses and hugs, hiding, and cuddling her doggie. Here's an average, super splendid morning at our house.

lunchtime chat with elie

Sunday, October 12, 2008

holy seasons!

No one ever said that living in Montana was mild. Or mellow. Or predictable. Or reasonable. Here's an overview of the week we've had with regard to the seasonal changes.

Last weekend at my girlfriends wedding:

Yesterday in the park:

Today, hiking with my friends:

I'm not really feeling like I've had time to adjust.

Meanwhile, my little prize fighter just keeps on keeping on like the brave, grubby, nutty little wildcat she is...

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


Every baby needs her homegirls to chat with...

I caught up with my homey Dr. Sears last night and read about all the amazing things that Eliana's almost 15 month self is going through. He suggested to begin a "word list" to keep track of your 'lil spitfire's burgeoning vocabulary. I got pretty excited about that idea, so here goes:

Eliana's palabritas (aka, little words):
cheese (pronounced "chiz")
breakfast (only said in the mornings - she's truly remarkable)
hot (accompanied with a little hand wave by her mouth, so dear)
pop pop
baby (or buh buh)
luz (as in lucy, the dog)
woof (said anytime she see's lucy or hears another doggie barking)
bye-bye (the current favorite...not said at the appropriate time exactly, but successive times following a goodbye, when the folks we are saying goodbye to are long gone...except for the other morning when she said, "bah bahyee mama" when I walked out the door to work. Woah.)
no, no, no (another fav - said when she's doing things she's not supposed to do)

She's too much, this girl. Too much.

Monday, October 6, 2008

the new badass

I just found yet another old and fabulous friend through facebook. I love facebook. Anyway, she now has two kids and recently ran the Portland marathon. Now, mind you, the last time I saw this friend I was probably twenty-two. We were probably dancing very late at night to very loud house music. Or we could have been staring at a ceiling fan at four in the morning talking about, "the afro in the sky." Or maybe we were eating some ungodly diner breakfast after a long, hazy night and drinking massive amounts of coffee. Any way you cut it, we weren't exactly pillars of health.

Seeing these tough girl pictures of her lean muscles getting ready to set off for the marathon reminded me of how tremendous women are. Women and their insanely capable bodies. We can grow children. We can birth children. Our stomach muscles completely separate and then come back together again. We can have babies, and then, run marathons.

I teach a yoga class once a week. My average student is in her mid-thirties, super strong, and able to hold some fairly intense poses for sustained periods of time. I always tell the ladies in class how fun they are to teach because, in their toughness, I don't worry about them pushing themselves beyond their limits.

But the other day I had three girls show up who were probably around the above mentioned age. The age of unhealthiness. Granted, they were much further along then I was because they were at a yoga class, not, say, twirling around on some beach in Santa Cruz. But it was so apparent that they were totally out of touch with their bodies. They were shaky and unsure. As much as I adjusted them and helped them throughout the class, they never really met my eyes. There was a deeply rooted insecurity that seems to come with barely being in your twenties, barely having a sense of your body's true potential.

I so don't miss that time. Today after a busy day in the classroom, I decided to take Eliana to do some errands on the bike. After a fairly spontaneous lovefest with our girlfriends in the park, I ended up biking a decent distance to the market and then proceeding to bike home with a cartload of groceries. After getting home, bathing, feeding and putting to bed Eliana, I hit "my wall." I felt a bit shaky and my back was (...still is) on fire. As I was grumbling to Jeff about my exhaustion, he reminded me of that bike ride. He mentioned that I was probably carting about thirty extra pounds. He reminded me that this bike fixation is new and isn't exactly something that I've been practicing for years.

And there's something about that, about this new badass, this post baby badass, that I totally get off on. I love the fact that I think I'm a stronger dancer now than I ever have been. I love the fact that I can hustle up the mountain behind my house way faster now than I ever could before Eliana. Because it wasn't so long ago that I was struggling back into my first dance class. That I couldn't hold plank or navasana and was still not back at ease in my post-baby body. Going through that journey and coming out not just on the other side, but in an even stronger place, is pretty tremendous. Not only that, I have something pretty damn tremendous to show for it all.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

gettin' cribby with it

Oh, I just couldn't resist that lil shout out to the ever so charismatic Will Smith. So Eliana and Moana truly are the sweetest little girlfriends ever. Casey and I laughed awfully loud watching them get nuts in Eliana's crib this afternoon. The pics could easily be titled "weird and weirder" or "sweet and sweeter" (for yet another pop culture reference). But really, words can't do them enough justice this time. Here's to technology and this multi-media display: