Thursday, September 27, 2012

Rant Redacted

I just deleted a looooong, ranty blog post.  Mostly, I wrote about my feeeeeelings and it wasn’t fun to read.


I used to do this thing when I wrote “for real” back in college (which was, holy shit, a decade ago and counting): I would wrote a paper a few days before it was due (yes, last-minute paper writers scorned me for this) and let it sit.  Then, I’d edit the paper and turn it in.  With a blog, more often than not, I just hit “publish” and go on my merry way.


I let my last bit of writing sit overnight, and I’m glad I did.  It wasn’t pretty.  It was, in fact, a pretty ugly side of me, full of self-pity and discouragement.  I’m hoping that I can be more rational today.


What got me all worked up was this blog entry, currently making the rounds on Pinterest.  The author implies, nay, asserts outright, that a woman can, in a few simple steps, easily lose all the baby weight and then some after birth.  Even with triplets!  And a Cesarean section!  And bed rest!  The author is an authority because she declares that she has battled her weight all her life!


Ho-ho… settle down, Amelia.  Can’t you tell by the use of exclamation points that I am getting worked up again? 


My issue is that I did everything “right” according to this blog and I am still fighting to get down to pre-pregnancy weight 15 months after the birth of my second child.  I was in shape before I got pregnant, I ate well, and I exercised throughout pregnancy.  I still gained 55 pounds.  My doctor never expressed concern.  “It’s just what your body was designed to do,” he said (which didn’t mean that I didn’t agonize over it, of course – after all, I have friends and family who gain very little during pregnancy and, of course, I would rather be like them.  However, I would not want to avoid a giant ass at the expense of the baby, which I guess is the lynchpin in the whole deal: this is what my body does to create healthy life).  I started an exercise program as soon as I was cleared to do so (and it’s a hard-core program, at that), I breastfed my baby for 14 months, and I eat sensibly.  And still.


The point is that some of us have different bodies, different genes, different ages working against us.  Some of us hold on to weight when we breastfeed because our bodies want to make sure we can adequately nourish our children in case of famine.  Some of us are beyond thirty when we have kids.  Some of us have slow metabolisms.  Some of us have first children to run after and cook for and clean up after in addition to the baby.  Some of us also work outside the home.


I truly do think that it’s wonderful that that woman was able to lose so much weight so quickly.  I hope, for her sake and her baby’s, that it was a healthy weight loss.  I would like to be like her.  I would like to lose all the baby weight within six weeks of giving birth.  Hell, I’d be happy with losing the rest of it right now.  But I will never be like that.  If I have another baby, I’ll be further into my thirties and have two older children to look after while gestating and caring for an infant.  My body does what it does.  I’m trying to be okay with that.  But I think it is sad and unfair of someone WHO IS NOT A DOCTOR OR AN EXPERT to tell me and anyone else who reads that post that if we simply exercise and eat vegetables to get rid of morning sickness (my morning sickness liked to barf up vegetables, but whatevs), we will automatically lose all that weight post-baby without doing a thing.


Certainly, eating well and exercising regularly will keep us all healthy, moms or not.  It’s a good idea to do both of those things before, during, and after pregnancy.  But exercise and eating well are not a magic bullet for post-pregnancy weight loss.  I’m living proof.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Mud and Books and Girls and Mom

Oh, the cruel nature of a twisted sleep cycle.  For two, maybe three nights last week, Jamie slept through the night.  Still no new teeth.  Now he’s back to being up all the damn time and I’m more exhausted than ever.  I forgot to put shoes on him this morning.  Shoes!


My sanity has been mostly saved in this time of sleep turmoil by help from my mother and my friends.  I used to think it was so nice that my parents lived just far enough away that visits had to be planned.  No drop-ins, you know?  Enough time to hide the porn and the crack pipe (or whatever I felt was incriminating that week).  But now that their grandchildren live with me, I sure wish they lived next door.  Tony was away this weekend and my mom is the reason I was able to do this:


mud run


Sunday was the Muds to Suds run in Ferndale, and my Baby Boot Camp team went all out.  We were filthy.  And mom watched the kids for the entire hour I was running and then cleaning off mud.  She also watched them the night before when Charles threw an epic tantrum, complete with vomiting, and Jamie had a blowout diaper.  That woman is amazing, and I’m so, so glad she was there to help.  Doing things like the mud run make me feel almost like I have a life outside of motherhood.


Despite the general busyness of our schedules in the Cook household, I made a date to see some girlfriends last night.  It helps me stay, um, no grounded so much, which is what people always say, but something else.  Smart?  More than just a mom?  Grounded is washing out poopy diapers and doing the dishes.  With my girlfriends, I feel elevated.  Once more, it’s a chance to have a life outside of motherhood.  It’s a chance to discuss ideas rather than things and people, a chance to look beyond our insular lives (well, mine’s insular; everyone else’s in the group might be much more expansive).


A few months back, a small group of us started a book club.  We have read two books so far, two very different books, both totally engrossing.  I’m excited for our next selection, though it is yet to be determined.


What I’m not excited for is the infringement of this new sleep non-pattern on my reading time.  I’m so tired after the kids go to bed that I don’t read more than a chapter or two of whatever book I have at the moment.  Not my preferred method of working through a book.


I recently read something amazing, and maybe you’d like to read it, too: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.  It was psychotic, in a good way.  I didn’t know who I was rooting for until the very end.  I was honestly surprised, something that doesn’t often happen.  And the surprise wasn’t contrived, like how you sometimes are sure that one person is the killer but then it turns out that all the novel’s clues were just coincidences and the killer was another character entirely but none of events leading up to the reveal would have ever allowed you to figure that out.  I hate those.  No, this was better than that.  It was awesome, really, and I guess I kind of liked being jerked around by the author in that way, made to like both characters even though they were both totally reprehensible. 


So yeah, read that.  If you can stay awake to do so.  I can’t.  I’m reading IQ84 and am totally lost because of lack of continuity; I keep falling asleep, and not because the book is boring.  At least I’m falling asleep reading my own books, though.  Tony keeps falling asleep while he reads books to Charles.  He just gets slower and slower and quieter and quieter until he drops off.  Charles takes it pretty well, coming to find me or just going to sleep himself.   I just laugh.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Bat Boy Teeth

Jamie has slept most of the way through the night for the past two nights.  It’s a relief, and if he can just manage to keep it up for a week or two more, I might just remember what it feels like to be well-rested.  As it is, the extra sleep has put me right back into the cycle I faced a couple of weeks ago: more sleep = my body’s realization of how tired I am and how much I need even more sleep.  So.  Extra coffee today!


Parenting, for me, seems to be a series of unnecessary worries.  Tony would absolutely agree!  If there’s one thing I do too much of, it’s laundry.  If there’s another thing, it’s worrying. 


I worry because, well, if I don’t, horrible things will happen.  Right?  Isn’t that how it works?  The things I worry about seldom come to pass, of course, but that’s how mothers operate.  Especially new mothers, since that squalling infant is a complete and total mystery and every. little. thing. could spell DOOM.


I would argue that I am still a new mom to Charles.  After all, he’s my first, so I don’t have any experience with the stage he’s going through now and the one he’ll go through next.  And yes, I worry a little less about some things with Jamie because, been there, done that, but he’s an entirely different kid and some things need worrying over even still.


And I know, I know they’re petty, inconsequential things, but I cannot help myself. 


Like Jamie’s damned teeth.  He has seven.  He’s had seven for five months.  He’s exhibited all the signs of further teething in those five months: epic drooling, crankiness, an inability to sleep for more than five minutes without laying his head on MY FACE, shoving his entire fist in his mouth, etc. - but still no new teeth.  And now I’m worried that his teeth are growing in all wrong, sideways and underneath the teeth that are already there and we’ll have to do oral surgery and these two nights of decent sleep are about to be RIPPED away from me because tonight he’ll probably start screaming about his painful monster teeth and then people will eventually start whispering behind my back about my beautiful baby boy with the crazy Bat Boy mouth of every-which-way teeth.  AAAAAA!


Now that that scenario has played out in my head, though, I’ll be so relieved if the teeth come in properly and in a timely manner.


A few months ago, I was pretty worried about Charles.  He wet his pants all the time.  I thought it was stubbornness!  And maybe it was!  But we also visited a chiropractor (covered by insurance, which is nice, but I didn’t know that when I made the appointment, so you must understand that making that call was preceded by the anguish of deciding to spend good money on something that might not work AT ALL) a couple of times and lo and behold, a month later and Charles has gone two weeks without an accident!  Two weeks without doing that ridiculous pee-pee dance that makes my heart and my head hurt.  I mean, seriously, child.  Why wait until you are already wetting yourself or dancing in place before you go to the bathroom?  Why wait until you have to change your clothes?  It only means that you have to leave off playing for even longer, when a bathroom trip in time would have been thirty seconds or less! 


But just try to reason with a three-year-old.  Go ahead, I DARE YOU


For all my worrying that something was seriously wrong with Charles, either physically or mentally, everything seems to have worked itself out.  Maybe it was the chiropractic care.  Maybe it was just time. 


Is that my lesson?  Sit back, stop worrying, let time take care of things?  That just sounds foolish.  If I don’t worry, who will?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Lucky Number Seven

Except you don’t really need luck, you just need patience and shared interests and a sense of humor.  Fortunately, after all this time, I can say that our relationship is intact.  Perhaps better than before?  Better than last year?


So many changes since our last anniversary: growing kids, a different job, fatigue buildup.  Overall, life is better now than it was a year ago, better than it was seven years ago, when we were just bright-eyed kids who were hoping we had what it takes to do the “thick and thin” thing.  We’ve been through thick and thin now, and I think we’re both still happy.


I woke up yesterday morning imagining what my life would be like without that man sleeping next to me.  Without him, where would I be?  What would I be doing?  It was a tough exercise – it’s difficult to imagine away two children and a dog and house and seven plus years of experiences.  Conclusion: Tony is it.  He was it for me seven years ago and he’s still it for me now.


And then, after a long day of work, he took me out to dinner and a movie.  We dined, we drank, we walked to the theater.  We laughed, we got too loud in the bar, we were the only ones at the movie so we kept our cell phones on and Googled actors when we couldn’t come up with their names… in short, we had a great time.  I sincerely wish we could do it more often.


To us!



Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Chewy Coconut Bars

September 009


I LOOOOOOOVE coconut.  Tony does not.  I would be lying if I said that this didn’t cause some amount of strife in our household.  It’s really no fun to eat an entire coconut dessert all by yourself.  No matter how delicious it starts out to be, by day three it tastes awful.  And no one should feel that eating coconut custard or coconut pie is drudgery.


Chewy Coconut Bars are one of those desserts I have enjoyed since my childhood and which I take everywhere a potluck calls for a dessert item.  Thus I am guaranteed to enjoy one or two, and others get the pleasure of gooey, caramely coconut and a sweet crust.  It’s a win-win.  This past weekend I made these for a friend’s surprise birthday party and then I FORGOT TO BRING ANY HOME.  There were still some left when we left the party, and there were still lots of people at the party, so it was nice of me to leave them, but by the time the boys were in bed, I wished I had saved just one more for me.  Oh, well.  I’ll just have to make them again.  They’re so stinkin’ easy.


So go ahead!  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees!  You know you want to!


Start with the crust, which is a delicious combination of 1/2 cup softened butter, 1/2 cup brown sugar, and 1 cup flour.  Mix it all up really well and press it into the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch pan:


September 004


Put the crust into the oven for ten whole minutes, then take it out – but leave the oven on for the next bit.


In a big bowl, mix up 2 well-beaten eggs, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup Karo syrup (corn syrup), and 1 teaspoon vanilla. 


September 005


Add 2 tablespoons flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt and mix well.  Then add your sweetened, flaked coconut (I use two of the $0.99 bags, but the recipe might call for only one.  It’s really hard to tell because my recipe is a photocopy of my grandmother’s recipe, in her handwriting, and the bottom edge is cut off.  I’ve experimented, and I think you want about 4 cups of coconut, which seems to be about 2 of the smallish bags).


September 006


(My grandmother’s recipe also calls for chopped walnuts to be added at this point but I’ve never done that.  You could, though.)


Spread the coconut mixture all over your crust.


September 007

mmm, gooey


Then pop the whole mess into the oven for 25 minutes.  When they’re done, remove them from the oven and let them sit for awhile.  Like, maybe a couple of hours.  This is the hardest part.


September 008

waiting, waiting…


Once they are cool, you can cut them up into bar cookie chunks and eat them.  Oh, so so good!


September 009


Chewy Coconut Bars


Preheat oven to 350 degrees



1/2 Cup softened butter

1/2 Cup packed brown sugar

1 Cup flour


Mix well and press into pan.  Bake for 10 minutes.



2 eggs, well beaten

1/2 Cup brown sugar

1/2 Cup Karo syrup

1 tsp vanilla

2 Tbsp flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

2 to 4 Cups sweetened flaked coconut


Mix eggs, brown sugar, Karo syrup, and vanilla in large bowl.  Add flour, baking powder, and salt, mix well.  Add coconut and mix until all the coconut is coated with the liquid.  Press on top of crust, bake for 25 minutes.  Let cook and cut into squares.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Stop, Rewind, Erase

I’m having a rough day, and I’m sure that lack of sleep has a lot to do with it: I had a horrible night last night, and so did Jamie, and I today I got to experience a true monetary cost for that lack of sleep.


Jamie was up hour after hour last night, largely due to the tooth that finally FINALLY! poked its dastardly way through his gums today, and you would think that I would have been so exhausted as to fall instantly asleep each time he was soothed and put back to bed.  But no!  I did not!  Instead, I tossed and turned, drank water, got up to pee, let the dog out, let the dog in, let the dog out again, and generally did not feel nearly as “sleepy” as I should have given my general level of fatigue.  Insomnia is a bitch.


I took the kids to the grocery store today because they actually like to go.  Charles loves riding in the car cart, and they give free cookies and free cheese sticks to kids, so it’s not so terrible to take them, really.  Except that today Charles was whining about “I want juice!  I want candy!  I want that cereal!  I want a book!” and he was leaning on Jamie, who then fussed, and I was so tired today, it was an un-fun experience.  And then we got to the pharmacy, where I picked up two new prescriptions.  I was in a hurry and didn’t look at my receipt or even ask how much they were – which is not like me at all. 


Like most Americans, it seems, or at least a large number of them, we are counting our pennies.  We’re not broke, so I’m thankful for that, and we can almost afford our lifestyle, which is a blessing.  But I hate paying extra for things I don’t need because I have these lofty goals of paying down debt, keeping enough in savings that we could survive if Tony or I couldn’t work for some reason, and contributing to our children’s as-yet-non-existent college funds.


But I seem to make a stupid mistake every week that costs us money.  Today, it was that one of my prescriptions, a totally-optional, nice-to-have, less-expensive-alternatives-available drug cost $70.  SEVENTY DOLLARS!  I could have spent none!  And I didn’t even think to check before I signed the credit card slip because Jamie was crying and Charles was yelling and it was almost dinner time and I just wanted to go home. 


Of course, the pharmacy can’t take the unopened prescription back.  I asked.


I swear I need a brain replacement.


Here!  Look at a video of my cute baby in the bath!  It’s doing a good job of taking my mind off of that $70 that I now feel like I owe my family.



Aww, I just love his cute baby voice.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Something About Sleep and Alcohol and I Can’t Remember the Other Bit

September 003


Guess who slept for 8 hours straight last night?  And because I went to bed early, I got nearly that much (save for when I woke up around 4 am because Charles got in bed with us, and then again at 4:30 when the dog had to go out). 


Instead of feeling well rested today, however, I’m feeling a bit more tired than usual.  I think this is a version of “week after finals syndrome” – remember when you would bust your ass through finals week and then get home for Christmas or spring or summer break and get sick?  It’s as though your body just held off the germs, held off the exhaustion until you were done and had time and energy to devote to being sick.


Actually, I suppose what really happened is that once you made it home and mom did your laundry and you had a good meal that wasn’t, for once, chased by a shot of tequila or at least the thought that things would be a lot better if you could just have some tequila but you can’t because of that test the next day or even “isn’t everyone going to a party tonight?  If I just finish this ten-page-paper then I can have some tequila and party, too,” that your body stopped fighting the virus or whatever was catching in the dorms last week and so then you got sick.  It’s not as though your immune system is sentient, is what I’m saying.  It didn’t “hold out” until you could afford to get sick.  It held out until you stopped bribing it with tequila.


This is like that.  My body recognizes that the 5.5 hours I spent sleeping from 10:30 pm to 4 am last night were the longest bout of sleep I’d had in a long time, so now it can let down it’s guard and allow me to feel clearly just how tired I really am.  More sleep, my body is telling me.  Give us more sleep!


It’s crazy how more and more frequently parenthood feels like a giant hangover.  I’m tired, crabby, sore, my voice is worn out, all I want to eat is cookie dough, and I fall down a lot.


Fortunately, the cast of characters around me is a lot cuter than anyone ever was or could have been when I was hungover (I try really hard to avoid hangovers now).  One small monkey, in particular, charmed me this morning by pointing to the dog on my pajamas (yes, I have doggy pajamas) and saying “daah-daaaaah” which is 14-month-old for “doggy.”  Then he rubbed his snotty nose on my shoulder, stuck his thumb in his mouth, and settled in for a snuggle.  Top that, tequila.


I swear, I’m not even sure what I’m talking about here anymore.