Browse and Seek

The new new normal, served up hot

The imp of perversity is visiting again, guiding its three year-old host into behaviors that leave us shaking our heads and saying “Fuck, that was new and horrible”. After the long long bedtime vigils of cuddling Seamus while he kicks and thrashes and plays long after lights out, shushing and kissing and getting cross till he finally passes out, we talk over our puzzlement about the new changes in him. Was there a nap? Late afternoon sweet treat? Too many delays in the bedtime routine laving him wired and triggering crap sleep which snowballs into the inexplicable? Developmental upload? Preschool influence?

Fuck if we know. 

“Why did you do X?” we ask him often these days, after he’s sprinted down a neighbor’s driveway and into their parking area irregardless of months of mindful behavior. Dumping half a pound of rice from the rice bin and scattering it across his room. Destroying book jackets. Throwing food on the floor. Leaving the house unobserved. Hitting us, always with his fists.

“Because I did it”, he responds.

I think I’m looking at the minimizing or outright end of quiet time, and increasing his outside time, weather be damned. We had such a good routine before the holidays, one that I hope lets us adjust. Also, keeping that damn swing lock in place, because that second set of eyes I ordered on Amazon have shown up, but the installing sockets haven’t. On the plus side, I want him riding his bike more often anyways. I think we now have our afternoon outside activity sewn up.


I'd be grumpier but my head hurts too much

Independent from our conversations about a second kid, I decided to cut back on coffee and white flour at the same time. No particular reason except that the more coffee I drink, the more bread/crackers/NOM NOM NOM starch I eat, and maybe my body was less thrilled with that state of affairs. I started when we came back from Yosemite, not really thinking about it.  Was I solo-parenting a willful feral midget who was completely off his routine? Oh yes. Was I also in the week before my period, when I had a guarantee to lose it once during that week? Oh my yes again. In the end it was all pretty much a typical PMS week. Seamus pushed my buttons and I got a little shouty, but I got to see how the flour dulls me, even when it protects my stomach from the onslaught of tasty caffeinated battery acid. The coffee withdrawal was easier since I could suck down green tea, which made me feel a bit zippier and less like Betty Draper without her latex stays and pillbox hats.

Seamus fell asleep at 9:30 last night and woke up at 6:30, and if you can imagine a bonobo in our kitchen grabbing at himself, the stove, and flinging food the way he might fling his own shit, you have an idea of the morning thus far. Off to relieve Patrick.


When the milk ran dry 

I’ve weaned! the time was right - we moved and he adjusted, he started preschool and adjusted, he became acquisitive of stuff, which meant he was receptive to a “prize”, and I had tapered his nursing from three static sessions of 16-20 minutes per side plus consoling/reconnecting sessions to three static sessions of one minute, then thirty seconds, then a ten-count. I picked my birthday as our last day of nursing (one of the benefits of a NYE birthday is that it becomes a handy bellweather when you need it), and spent two weeks talking about it. Not harping, I introduced the subject once, and then every couple of days I’d remind him - so maybe five mentions of it max, which I think is appropriate for his distraction quotient. We headed up to Yosemite for my birthday, came home late-ish on New Year’s Day, and started settling him in for the night. While Patrick got Seamus into pj’s I pulled a box out of our closet and walked into the kitchen, which adjoins his room.

“I want to nurse now, Mama.” I knelt down onto the grotty linoleum.

“Sweetie, remember how we talked about not nursing anymore? You haven’t nursed at all today because we’re all done. You did a beautiful job at nursing. You were a very good nurser and you nursed for a long time. I am so proud of you. But you are three now and a very big boy and you don’t need to nurse for food or comfort or to fall asleep. And you don’t nurse much at all now, do you?” He shook his head. I sat down on the floor and pulled him into my lap. “Do you remember what I said you would get when you stopped nursing?” He shook his head again. “Something very special, that came all the way from Japan.” I point out the Yamato takkyubin labels on the box, and the customs declaration. “Totoro’s friend.”

“My cat bus!” He reached in and pulled out one damn big Nekobasu. “It’s really big!”

“This is a very big boy thing that you’re doing, honey. You’ve done such a good job today not nursing, and it’s such a big job to not nurse after you’ve nursed for so long, I wanted you to remember that.”

“Can I sleep with my cat bus tonight?”

“Of course, baby.”

And that was that. He asks in the morning, and I respond by offering him something to drink, and getting up and getting him fed. I think at some point he’ll rewire to saying he’s hungry and thirsty. He’s still snuggly and climbing in with us in the middle of the night, and I know that’ll fade eventually, so I’m loath to do anything about it. He’s three, and despite his energy and noise and damn fine verbal skills, three is young enough that I’m happy to embrace laziness about this. Long days/nights, short years, right?

Physically I’m fine, no soreness or engorgement, and my PMS this time ‘round was no worse than usual. Looks like I can shell out for some nice “shelf” bras, which is what I’d buy pre-kid. Go hypoplasia! After pumping and herbal supplements and more fucking pumping and still using formula so my kid wouldn’t starve, I did the distance for thirty-eight months and my breasts look the same. It almost makes up for the teasing between fourth and twelfth grade.

I celebrated by trying to give up caffeine and white flour the week Patrick was at CES. DUMB DUMB DUMB. More on that later, as the labor-saving devices need me to empty them and load them and generally wipe their asses. 


This is as close to a holiday card as I've gotten in a decade

Merry Dog-mas! Or Dogmas, in your preferred denomination.

Dog with French Vanilla, Fire, and Tree.

We spent the holidays pretty quietly - on the Solstice we finished decorating the tree and lit candles and a fire, and told Seamus about how the seasons work and how the earth tilts as it spins and that the days would now get longer. We’ve all been sick with snot-heavy headcolds, so we missed the concurrent eclipse. I keep telling myself that it was probably overcast that night and impossible to see and I’ll surf for images at some point. I finished the grandparent gifts right before Christmas, so they haven’t arrived yet. I’m hoping that they look okay- I have some concerns about some of the images I used not having a high enough resolution, despite not getting any alerts during the print preview process.

We saw my mom and sister on Christmas Eve, and spent the Day here at home, almost completely in pajamas (see headcolds). Dinner was okay, in a lessons-learned kind of way. I think until we’ve all gotten through the preschool/petri dish years, I’m going to keep all of the holiday meals very simple. I’ll master a couple of new main dish recipes that eventually only get airtime on special occasions, but every time we try something on the day itself, it’s been underwhelming and expensive. And by “something” I mean meat. Which I’m kinda on the fence about anyway. I like cooking chicken because I can’t totally fuck it all up, and I’m interested in learning to cook more dishes where meat is an ingredient, but not the whole show, like stews and chilis (let’s face it, I like making soup, and would make only soup quite happily), but roasts are not particularly interesting to me.

I wish I had all on my cookbooks unpacked. I feel like I’m ready for some elusive next step, but I’m lacking inspiration. Not in my goal to start making as much of the processed foods that we buy as possible (yogurt, bread, juices, broth, sauces), but in making basic dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. 

Back to Christmas - the kid made a haul, and Patrick and I got some interesting and useful things. He got me a couple of gardening books, and I got him a membership to the Crucible, so he could pick his own classes. Seamus spazzed out for a bit while surrounded by his bounty, and finally settled in to play with his new Matchbox Beetles while I shelved his new books and rotated some of his toys so I could put away the additions to his various building toys. Seamus gets nothing new till his birthday, aside from replacements to outgrown clothes. NOTHING. He needs nothing, and there is plenty here for me to rotate to keep novelty alive. We have a library card and a ton of craft supplies, and it won’t kill him to be bored on occasion.

Patrick took Seamus to work today, so I need to get some housework done so I’m not cleaning on my birthday. More soon.



"It's not Christmas yet."

Argh, Squarespace ate my post. Let’s try this again.

We got three holiday seasons in which Santa did not come with a glut of presents. We had Christmas, yes, and presents, but the myth of The Man in the Red Suit did not color our choice of gifts and Seamus’ enjoyment of them. Then we sent Seamus to preschool with older kids, and by the second week of November “I want X for Christmas” pealed through our house. And our outings. And on our Thanksgiving trip to Portland.

“Seamus, put it on your list,” we started to say,  “and we’ll write to Santa asking for everything you want AFTER Thanksgiving. One holiday at a time please.” Once we came home I brought out our copy of “It’s Christmas, David!” and introduced the concept of the letter and the list and being good/naughty, etc.

His school covers several December holidays (Chanukah, Christmas, presumably Kwanzaa), and organizes both a food drive and a toy drive. They’ll organize a walking field trip to the local firehouse to deliver all of the toys they gather at the end of next week (This is all done through Alameda FD’s version of Toys for Tots).

Seamus and I talked a bit about how we needed to be Santa’s helpers and bring in some toys for kids whom might not get any for Christmas, and food for families who may not have enough. Since Tuesday is our “chores and errands” day, we set off in the late morning to find some presents. I wanted to find two big kid gifts and two little kid gifts, none of which should require batteries. We hit paydirt at Toy Safari, where we found a detective kit, a pinhole camera kit, a small Duplo set before Seamus got too into the I-want groove. I made a mental note to pick up a picture book as Seamus pointed to things he was interested in, all of which I photographed for his letter to Santa. Then we went home and had lunch and quiet time.

In the afternoon, I pulled out my notepad and had Seamus pick out a marker to use as a pen. I asked him questions to encourage him to dictate the letter. When we got to his requests, he was…brief. 

“I want a Beetle. No Lego train, no motorcycle. Just a Beetle.”

”(????) Are you sure? It’s okay to ask for other things. Santa may not get you everything on the list, but he’ll get you some of it.”

“No, only a Beetle.”



His letter read:

Dear Santa,

My name is Seamus, and I am three years old. My mama is helping me write this letter. I am a good boy who tries to listen.

Please bring me:

- A Beetle car (it was at this point he told me that was it)

I used to want a Duplo train and a motorcycle, but I changed my mind.

Thank You,


 He signed it with a scrawl, and I sealed it in an envelope addressed to the North Pole. We’ll mail it tomorrow. But right now this Santa’s Helper needs to get some dishes done before heading back to the toy store.