Friday, March 26, 2010

The problem with keeping house these days.

I do not make bread, grow my own tomatoes, or sew aprons to make a statement. I enjoy these activities. I like yeast, and dirt, and fabric. I like working with my hands, growing things and making things. At heart, I am a homebody. An outgoing homebody, but a homebody nonetheless. So my favorite activities take place in and center around the home. For these reasons and more, most of my favorite "hobbies" never used to be hobbies at all, but were once a cornerstone of our economy - essential "women's work." Activities that are also known as the "domestic arts" or (shudder) "home economics."

Why do any of us enjoy the things we do? I cannot explain exactly why I am drawn to traditionally feminine occupations. I'm pretty sure it's not innate to my gender, but it may well be innate to me. It probably doesn't hurt that these hobbies provide a welcome contrast to my professional life: I make my living as a lawyer, in a traditionally male-dominated, left-brained, field. (However, this does not explain my enthusiasms entirely, as I enjoyed sewing and baking bread long before I dreamed of law school.)

I've blogged before about how the "domestic arts" are fraught with symbolic meaning in our culture. The domestic arts are not simply arts that are domestic, but have come to stand for what women ought to be, for millennia of inequality between the sexes. Feminists question or decry these occupations (see here, and here, for just two examples from the last couple of days, from the NYT) and the rabidly anti-feminist exalt them to ridiculous levels (see here).

This has always been the source of some intellectual discomfort for me, and I feel compelled to bring it up here because I don't feel right talking about all of these traditionally gender-segregated activities (that I love) without at least mentioning the underlying inequality now and then.

I consider myself a feminist. I am a lawyer, and currently, I am the primary income-earner in my family (although my husband will always be the one to bring home any actual bacon in this house), with Steve staying home to care for Joe four days a week. Steve and I both love cooking and gardening, and sad to say, neither of us do much cleaning, so I am definitely not working a "second shift." I just happen to enjoy baking a loaf of bread here and there.

I think this is why some recent well-intentioned remarks about my "superhuman" or "supermom" abilities made me feel ... well ... a little uncomfortable.

On the one hand, I am really flattered and a little gratified. I mean, it is a major accomplishment to juggle a more-than-full-time job, two dogs, and an almost-eleven-month old baby, and still manage to bake a loaf of bread here and there. To the extent that I manage to pull this off, and remain sane and nice to the people around me, I am (rightly, I think) proud! Although, just so you know, it sometimes involves some pretty crazy hair-dos (Joseph, stop laughing at your mother):

But of course, I can't take all of the credit: I am able to do this because of all of the help I get from my husband and our wonderful housemate Rebecca. Seriously, without them, there would be no genius cheese bread. When I get that Oscar-equivalent in bread-baking (hey, a girl can dream), these are the folks I will thank first! Hey guys, you rock!

And there are some sacrifices. My husband and I are scraping by on a bit less income. We rarely go out to restaurants anymore, because Joe, for all his cuteness, is also a major handful. It's hard for me to get out to my regular singings these days, and Steve and I have gone on exactly one "date night" since Joe was born. I would like to go out more, but I already spend a lot of time away from Joe as it is, and when we babysit our friends' kids (or agree to babysit their future kids, in the case of my pregnant sister and brother-in-law), it is often in exchange for daycare so that Steve and I can simply go to work.

Parenthood is wonderful too - I mean, have you seen how cute my baby is? It kills me! Daily! The truth is, Steve and I are both homebodies, and I think we both secretly (or not so secretly) relish this new excuse not to go out as frequently. I have loved "settling down" even more into our comfortable family life.

My concern with the "superwoman" label is that it is rooted in the idea that women must "do it all." That in order to be good wives, we must be great housewives. In order to be good mothers, we must puree our own baby food. "Superwoman" is no longer "super" at all, but has become a statement about what is expected of women every day.

Now, I do not believe that being a great housewife is inherently oppressive any more than I believe that pureeing your own baby food is inherently oppressive. The work that women do, at home or in a profession, should be valued, as expression, as creativity - as work. I try to have fun with motherhood, and I try to share the things I love with my baby: that's why I made all that puree that he refuses to eat (anyone interested in some frozen cubes of applesauce?). The problem is that we women tend to measure ourselves against an impossible ideal of womanhood. An ideal that used to just require that we be good housekeepers, wives, and mothers, but now requires that we fit a full time job in there somewhere too. We can't just be good moms who play with our kids; we must be supermoms who cook, clean, and sew our own cloth diapers while serving as CFO of a major corporation.

Now, that is oppressive.*

Working mothers should not feel that they need to become more domestic in order to prove that they are good mothers, any more than stay-at-home mothers should feel that they have to get a job to prove that they are good feminists. 
In her blog post "On mommy blogging, etc.", my friend Emily asks, "When I eventually have kids will I find myself able not only to grow my own food but to puree it for the little ones?" My own answer to this would be "Well, not exactly." Becoming a mother did not flip a switch in my brain that turned my interests to all things domestic. I'm still the same old me, who just happens to regularly fantasize about being a pioneer woman. But it has given me an excuse to spend a bit more time at home. Which has been great. So if you wanted to pick up cooking or some other home-centered hobby, but you don't have time right now, you might indeed find that your domesticity increases when you have children.

Or you might not. There is room in this world for all kinds of women, and all styles of mothers. If you like cooking and want to puree some baby food, do it! It's easy, and I think it's fun! (Good luck getting your child to actually eat it.) But if that would be oppressive to you, don't do it! My idea of "fun" is another woman's idea of "drudgery," after all.

It sounds so glib, and it is such a cliche, but it is all about having the choice, isn't it?

My choice is to almost never clean.

And now I'm off to plan my next loaves.

* You know what else is oppressive? The way that traditional women's labor, especially housekeeping and childcare, is so severely devalued in our culture that even ardent feminists tend to dismiss it as "drudgery" and fail to regard it as "real work."

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Just your average week on the urban homestead.

This week:
  1. We finally got Joe on Daylight Savings Time (sort of). 
  2. I made two snowy white breads from Secrets of a Jewish Baker: Buttermilk Bread (eh) and Cheese Bread (pure cheesy genius!).
  3. I am reading Lilith's Brood, by Octavia Butler, and it is blowing my mind. Thanks, E.! (E. reportedly read this book in her third trimester, including while she was in labor and about to deliver her daughter. Forget reading while breastfeeding! Reading during labor? That is multitasking! And that's not all. The novel is about aliens who co-opt the human species and gently coerce/seduce them into bearing half-alien children. My friend, I doff my cap to you.) Sadly, my only time to read these days is during my 13 minute BART commute and while I pump breastmilk at work, so it's going a bit slower than I want it to. I am currently in the process of pump weaning (I'm not weaning Joe yet, I'm just pumping less when I'm at work), and my main regret is the loss of time for fun reading.
  4. I am finishing up listening to an audio recording of Homer's Odyssey, translated by Robert Fagles, and read aloud by Ian McKellan. What I have learned so far: (1) Ancient Greek men cried a lot; (2) "Crafty" and "cunning" both mean "outrageous, baldfaced liar"; (3) It sucks to be dead; and (4) Listening to Ian McKellan "sing" the Odyssey is downright unbearable at times. 
  5. Rebecca and I sprouted broccoli sprouts, but then we forgot about them and they molded. We promised to try it again, but then forgot about it again.
  6. Joe discovered a new move, wherein he flails his arms backwards like a swooning Victorian woman and rolls his eyes back dramatically when he is upset about something. It is histrionic, to say the least. He once swooned so violently while sitting on the floor that he smacked his head on the hardwood floor. Quick, fetch the smelling salts! I am reminded of the scene from Pride and Prejudice when Mrs. Bennet says to Mr. Bennet: "You have no compassion on my poor nerves." And Mr. Bennet responds: "You mistake me, my dear. I have a high respect for your nerves. They are my old friends. I have heard you mention them with consideration these twenty years at least." Mrs. Bennet, move over. Joseph Roscoe is here.
  7. Steve and I are fantasizing about buying a farm. Again. This time, it's a 70s ranch home with 80 acres of grazing land right on Interstate 505. I'm thinking of raising sheep and goats, and making cheese. Steve is imagining getting a few cattle and raising sustainably farmed meat. We were thinking that if we could just hold a big enough garage sale, we might be able to afford the down payment? It would have to be a really big garage sale. I'm accepting Paypal donations towards "The Compound." (Just kidding. Maybe.)
  8. Rebecca had a homemade marmalade tasting party. I had friends over for brunch and tried to unload so-so buttermilk bread on them.
  9. I am still obsessed with xx, by The xx. It's just so pretty.
  10. My little garden of cooking and salad greens is the delight of the local slug population and my dogs, once they figured out how to scale my rigged fence of chicken-wire and sticks. The dogs, that is - the slugs don't need to scale anything. Can't use slug bait because it can kill dogs and hurt babies. I'm just hoping they leave us a few leaves of something.
  11. I bought my first pair of new, cute, postpartum jeans. Then I giddily wore said jeans almost every single day.
  12. In my professional capacity, I attended an unusually interesting planning commission meeting, where I learned all about another kind of garden: the indoor, hydroponic, medicinal variety.
  13. A very good friend (girlfriend) of a very good friend (brother) of a very good friend (hi Anne!) blogged about my blog! But I'm not superhuman, really! I just never go out anymore. Coming soon: A blog post where I explain in detail all of the things that I used to do, but never do anymore, thus making it extremely clear how I find time to do all of the things I do now (I have put this post off, because it is depressing).
  14. And I played peek-a-boo with Joe at the back door.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I love daylight savings! Or do I?

I've always been excited to "Spring forward": the extra evening light makes evening gardening possible, and also, drinking a beer on the back patio in the twilight while Steve grills chicken. And it's so much nicer to do my evening commute in daylight. Yes, you lose an hour of sleep in the Spring. But that extra hour of evening light is so worth it. As far as the extra morning darkness, I wouldn't know about that, because I never wake up before 8 a.m. if I can possibly help it. So I very much look forward to DST.

But things are a bit different now. Namely, I have a baby now. And he has not adjusted to daylight savings, nor does he show any inclination to. Why would he? Time means nothing to him! He is entirely a creature of circadian rhythms! His evenings are unchanged!

Never have I felt the relative nature of time, and the arbitrary nature of clocks, more acutely.

Which is to say, Joseph didn't go to sleep until almost 10 p.m. on Sunday night, and 10:30 p.m. last night. That's past my bedtime, people.  I love my baby to little bits, but my patience begins to wear thin around 9 p.m. When you factor in the reality that babies - even the mellowest, nicest babies - are fussy little hellions for the hour or two before bed (and to be totally fair, I am only a little better myself), you can see why this might be a problem.

(Insert cute picture of Joseph looking WIDE AWAKE, as is his wont, here. I may get around to this at some point.)

(Edited to add the following picture, captioned, "I'll sleep when I'm DEAD!")

On the old schedule, wherein Joe went to sleep anytime between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m., depending on his nap schedule, Steve and I got at least an hour or so of quiet evening time to watch Mad Men. (In theory, this is "couple time" but we are often too exhausted to actually speak to each other. Welcome to new parenthood.)

Gone. Kaputz. No more. It's now all baby, all the time, in our house.

There's another problem. I don't have an alarm clock. Or, to be more exact, Joe is my alarm clock. When he gets up in the morning, I wake up. This arrangement is usually very satisfactory in that I maximize my time spent sleeping in the morning (a priority for me), but Joe can be relied on not to sleep much past 8 a.m.*, so I usually get to work at a reasonable hour. (I'm lucky that my job does not have a hard start time.)

Not so these past few days! 9 a.m. is the new 8 a.m. So I've been straggling into work late (even for me) for the past couple of days. Late, and really tired (because my baby is keeping me up past my bedtime). Not cool.

So okay, I'll just sit down with the kid and explain the situation, right?: "Joseph, I would just like to point out that waking me up in the morning** is your only job, besides wrecking our living room (great work on that, by the way!). I would appreciate it if you would take this role more seriously. Thanks, honey!"

I'll let you know how that goes. Meanwhile, if you need me, check the back patio - I'm probably asleep in my beer.

* If you're paying attention, you may notice that I usually go to bed at 10:30 p.m. and wake up around 8 a.m. This is true. However, it does not mean that I actually sleep for 9.5 hours. Why? Well may you ask. Well, Joseph still breastfeeds at night. More or less all night. A topic for another post. Meanwhile, if you want to hear me laugh maniacally, all you have to do is ask "So, is your baby sleeping through the night yet?"

** But please see former memoranda regarding how your parents are not morning people; thus, anything before 7 a.m. is considered to be the middle of the night.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Toy stores? Who needs them?

Joseph and I went to the nursery this morning, to pick up some seedlings for the Spring garden: kale, mustard greens, parsley, and cilantro. On an impulse, I got some shelling pea seeds and edamame seeds. Finally, I picked out a new trowel, because I seem to have lost our old one (um, this happens every year). Joe's reaction was a ten-and-a-half-month-old non-verbal version of, "Yes! Mom got me a toy! Awesome!"

It's shiny.

And it has a chewy ergonomic rubber handle.

The pit bull agrees: Joe's new trowel totally rocks.

(And they don't even know about the best part yet: You use it to dig in the dirt. So cool.)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Joe loves chicken?!

I was raised on a vegetarian diet, so it is with some embarrassment that I now state that I am mostly vegetarian. I've met enough perky self-professed "vegetarians" who only eat a burger or steak every once in a while to know that you are either a vegetarian or you are not. Yes, there are varieties of vegetarianism: vegan, lacto, or lacto-ovo - at different points in my life I have been each of these. (What was that? I'm sorry, I simply do not recognize "pescatarian" as a form of vegetarianism.)  But you can't be a vegetarian who occasionally eats steak. There is a phrase to describe people who occasionally eat steak, and it is "meat eater."

But alas, I have strayed from my vegetarian upbringing. A more omnivorous diet has crept up on me. First, I stopped worrying about lard in my beans, or fish sauce in my Asian food, or chicken stock in my soup. Then I decided that I didn't want do die without even tasting meat (remember, I ate no meat growing up), so I started taking small bites of things here and there. I didn't like most of it, but I did like some. Which brings us to today, when I occasionally, every once in a while, eat chicken, usually only if it is organic and prepared by my husband.

For the record, I still believe that we all need to eat less animal products - for the earth, for the animals, for our health. I try to eat locally, sustainably, or best of all - food grown in my own back yard. But Steve's grilled chicken is good! Really good!

So I know, I'm not really a vegetarian anymore, but I need to find a way to describe my diet. I joke with Steve that I went from being a vegetarian, which is something that people understand (sort of), to just being annoying. I can now be described by a much more dreaded label: picky eater. Surely there is nothing worse than that?

Okay, there is something worse: Adjectives like "flexitarian" or "less-meat-atarianism." Sure, they do adequately describe my diet. The problem is, I can't say them with a straight face.

Sigh. It's enough to send me back to my veggie roots.

Joe, on the other hand, has no such foibles. Needless to say, we did not decide to raise him on a vegetarian diet. For one thing, Steve loves meat, and would never dream of denying it to his child (the horror!). And although I am very glad that I was raised on such a healthy diet, and really enjoy vegetarian cuisine, and still prefer it the vast majority of the time, I have found my distaste for many kinds of meat to be limiting in certain circumstances. For example, it might be hard for me to travel to Mongolia. Or live with the Inuit. I want Joe to be able to accept hospitality and travel freely without dietary limitations. Also, um, I'm not a vegetarian, remember, so what am I even talking about here?

At present, my humble aim is to raise Joseph to be pro-vegetable, but not vegetarian (I know, these are famous, famous last words).

Still, I admit, I am a little surprised at how much Joe seems to love chicken! He just gobbles it down like it's ... delicious. Like it's ... um ... his favorite food. So far, he is definitely not mostly vegetarian. I sense that soon, he may gladly graduate to other kinds of meat, varieties of animal flesh that I have never even tasted. And I can't help but feel a little wistful.

Monday, March 8, 2010

As the Vernal Equinox approaches, you will find me ripping out weeds.

The back garden is, once again, an unkempt field meadow of oxalis and wild onion. This happens every year. Every spring, as I rip out weeds, I promise myself that next year, I will not allow the yard to get this wild, and every year, I allow the weeds to become overgrown again.

I think the problem is that I tend to hibernate between the equinoxes. According to Wikipedia, hibernation "is a state of inactivity and metabolic depression in animals, characterized by lower body temperature, slower breathing, and lower metabolic rate." Inactivity and depression? Check, check. Lower body temperature? Well, my feet have been kind of cold lately. Slower breathing? Maybe, sure. Lower metabolic rate? "Uh ... check," I sputter through a mouth full of peach blackberry scone.

I completely lose interest in gardening in the winter. Every winter. I always say I will plant a "winter garden" (after all, this is California! you can do things like garden in the winter!), and I never do. Ask me about the garden in January, and I'm likely to respond with a noncommittal shrug, while thinking: Ugh, I couldn't care less about gardening. You know what? I don't think I'll even bother this year. Also, if I never see another zucchini again, that would be wonderful. Now, please excuse me while I bake some more scones. Meanwhile, the last tomatoes of the season rot on the vine, the greens and herbs bolt and go to seed, the lawn turns into a bog, and the oxalis, nasturtium, and spiny-brambles-that-never-seem-to-actually-bear-blackberries begin to take over. While I am hibernating, presumably under the influence of my cold Northern European winter genes, those golden rolling California hills are turning green for a reason. The reason, it turns out, is big, strong, knee-high, sometimes elephant-eye-high, weeds California native plants.

But the days are gradually starting to lengthen again. It is no longer dark when I leave the office in the evenings. And then yesterday was a beautiful day. The kind of bright, warm, breezy day that only happens in Oakland in the spring, before the foggy-freeze-your-posterior-off-cold summer sets in (only in the Bay Area are you likely to hear "it was a cold, hard summer that year").

Suddenly, Steve and I couldn't wait to get out in the garden and yank out weeds. Since we can't just let Joe crawl around the back yard, eating dirt and dog poo, we moved the playpen into the back yard, and Joe played with his toys and watched us working and watched the dogs playing. This actually worked for a few minutes! Must have been the novelty of sunshine and fresh air.

Talk about pretending to be a pioneer woman! Weeds as tall as me! I felt like I was clearing virgin forest for my homestead. But there is something so satisfying about ripping giant weeds out of the soft damp ground. Something addictive, almost. Something that tempts me to wax on about the good earth.

I cleared a bed and planted some heirloom chard and a mesclun lettuce blend. Yes, you heard me right. Swiss chard. A couple of years ago, I was cursed blessed with an abundance of self-seeding chard plants. But eventually, they died out and lost the competition with the wilder weeds. At first, the lack of chard was refreshing - who can eat that much chard? - but eventually, I began to long for Deborah Madison's "Onion Chard Torta" (in this book). I even bought a few bunches at the farmers' market! It felt more than a little wrong to pay good money for something that grows like a weed in my yard. What can I say? I think I might actually like swiss chard! I'll be sure to let some of this chard go to seed, so that I can enjoy it for eternity the next several seasons.

So a small area has been cultivated, the beginnings of a spring garden are in (although the dogs have started digging in it already, so it's unclear how this will end), and Steve and I are excited to do more planting. Chard, at any rate, can be trusted to survive our frigid summer. And then, sometime in late September, when the days get short again, I will likely lose all interest in gardening and let the last of the tomatoes rot on the vine.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Cloth diapering for busy, tired people: Wherein I sing the praises of wool.

This is a blog post that is sure to bore some of my readers to tears. Hence the inclusion of adorable photos!

Before Joseph was born, I decided that we should at least give cloth diapering a try. Steve was skeptical, to say the least. Honestly, I was a little skeptical too. I try to be as "green" as I can, as much as I can, and I do believe that cloth diapers are significantly better for the environment than disposable diapers. But I am also a working mother, so my time is very valuable and convenience is important to me as well. And like a lot of people, I was under the impression that cloth diapers were worse for diaper rash. But I figured, a couple months of cloth diapers would still be better for the environment than never trying them at all.

Now, I don't want to get into the cloth vs. disposable debates here, and I realize every family has to do its own costs/benefits analysis. As a friend of mine put it, "Diapering is a team sport." So true! The most important thing is to get both parents on board with diapering, however you do it. New parents have enough to worry about without fighting over how to diaper their baby, or going with one method solely out of guilt, or whatever. To this end, Steve and I made several compromises - we signed up with a diaper service, so that no one would have to launder dirty diapers, and we use disposable diapers when we will be out of the house for a while, so that we don't have to schlep dirty cloth diapers everywhere.  This has worked well for us.

But I'm here to say that, overall, we have been very pleasantly surprised by cloth diapers. We expected big hassle and martyr-like sacrifice, but we have found cloth diapers to be, if not just as convenient as disposable diapers, pretty much no big deal. Moreover, to our amazement, we have found that cloth diapers (plain ol'cotton prefolds, no less) may actually be better at preventing and treating diaper rash than disposables. Joe is ten months old now, and I don't see us ever switching to using entirely disposables (okay, maybe if we have twins or something - *shudders at the thought*).

These days, you can choose from a wide selection of cloth diapers, in various styles and fabrics. If you want to wash your own, I hear great reviews of several different styles of all-in-ones or pocket diapers. But since we use a diaper service, this means we use prefolds, which are just your old-school basic cloth diaper, thicker in the middle than on the sides. Prefolds require the use of diaper covers.

We've tried several different varieties of diaper covers. We started with Litewrap covers. These worked great, were relatively waterproof if not blow-out proof, and I have no real complaints about their performance. But Joe is and was a big baby, and he grew out of each size of diaper cover at light speed, so cost was an issue - every time he gained a pound or two, we would have to go out and buy five more covers. Then for the first time, around four or five months (when Joe was teething), diaper rash became a real issue. Poor kid! It was a bad scene. I wondered if I might have to give up on cloth diapers entirely. So I started experimenting with other kinds of covers hoping that we could find something that would breathe better, especially at night. (Edited to add: I do not believe that the cloth diapers caused this diaper rash. I totally blame the teething. We also tried using disposables for a spell, and it did not significantly improve the rash. I do think the unhappy bottom was exacerbated by using non-breathing covers at night.)

So here's the part of the blog where I sing the praises of wool soakers. In particular, Aristocrats wool diaper covers. On your left here, our model Joe is showing off his bulky double-diaper paired with an Aristocrat cover. People, these things seriously rock. We cosleep with Joe at night, so it's important that whatever diaper we use not leak at night. For twelve hours. Not a problem. Aristocrats are made from lanolized wool, so they breathe, yet they are amazingly waterproof (also, I think my hands are softer just from touching them). And, since we started using them at night, we have not had any significant problems with diaper rash. I know this sounds crazy, but I think Aristocrats covers actually cure diaper rash. There, I said it. I know it's a little wild, but that's my observation. Something about the lanolin, I suspect.

Although Aristocrats are pretty pricey, they are super stretchy, so their size-ranges are extremely wide, and they last a looooooong time.

So this is what I've decided: those horror stories people tell about cloth diapers? They harken back to the bad old days of my own baby-hood (and the decades before), when putting non-breathing plastic pants over cloth diapers was the norm. Eek. That does sound uncomfortable and hot, doesn't it? But, looking back just a few more generations, we discover that our great-grandmothers actually knit diaper soakers for their babies. And far from being inferior to modern waterproof fabrics, these knits were as breathable and leak-resistant as any high-tech fiber. And, unlike high-tech fibers, they don't require fossil fuels to make. Awesome.

The biggest downside to the wool soakers is this: You have to handwash them if they get soiled (as in, ahem, poopy). And you occasionally need to "relanolize" them (this is less complicated than it sounds, but it's still a bit of a pain). But the good news is that you rarely have to wash them at all if they don't get soiled (it's true: pee is fine).* Our compromise? We use them at night only. And we use the cheapest possible covers during the day (just one step up from the dread plastic pants of yore, actually), so that we can easily afford to buy lots of them and not do laundry constantly. It turns out that since we change diapers frequently during the day, the nonbreathable covers work just fine for our purposes.

This has been working for us for several months now. Cute wool diaper-butt, minimum handwashing, I don't have to give up my job, but I can still pretend to be a pioneer woman (of course, if I were a truly devoted pioneer woman, I would knit my own wool soakers: it may happen yet). Best of the old (wool!) and the new (diaper service!). Steve's happy, I'm happy, and Joe's tookus is happy (which is what really matters).

* Aristocrats covers smell strongly of wet sheep after you handwash them, and take a long time to dry. I put a ever-so-slightly-damp cover on Joe one night and found the scent to be ... well ... pungent, to say the least. Basically, it was like sleeping in a barn. I almost gave up on the covers. I'm glad I didn't. As I have subsequently learned, the covers are odor-free just as long as you let them completely dry before using them. In fact, they are actually odor-neutralizing. And have I mentioned that they cure diaper rash and never leak? Genius sheep.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Don't fence me in!

Little Joe is now extremely mobile. That's "extreme" as in "extreme sports." As in, crawling at supersonic speeds. As in, hurtling head-first off of the couch or out of the high chair like a diver. As in, pulling himself up to standing in the grocery cart and then grabbing the magazine rack and then, as though that wasn't enough, bouncing up and down, much to the alarm of fellow customers (and myself, although I'm pretty numbed to the fear now). Just trying to keep this kid from seriously hurting himself is a full-time job. You can't stop watching him for a second. Turn around, and the chances are good that you will find him sucking on a power strip. Diaper changes and breastfeeding? More like wrestling matches than anything approaching "bonding."

As you can imagine, it's hard to get anything done with this whirling dervish in the house! Not a whole lot of amazing domestic activity going on these days. The houseplants are withering with neglect. The garden is an overgrown field (we prefer the term "meadow"). My dogs have reverted to characters from The Lord of the Flies. The house? Steve and I take comfort in this study showing that dirtier children are actually healthier children. Based on that reasoning, Joe will grow up to be strong as an ox.

So, most days look like this: work, then come home, carry Joe around a lot, chase Joe around a lot, feed him some solid food, feed myself something (mothers need to eat too!), put Joe to bed, try not to fall asleep while putting Joe to bed, fall asleep anyway, wake up in the middle of the night to brush teeth, wake up (often several times a night) to a crawling, slobbering, smiling baby, go to work ... you get the idea!

It's exhausting, but we are having so much fun.