Thursday, September 30, 2010

Elroy Owns the Night

I don't write very often about our kitty Elroy. I admit that Q has usurped the role of most doted on and spoiled in our household. Now he surely plays second fiddle and that's got to be hard for a cat. Ever since I was pregnant, T has taken over most of his basic care. Meaning cleaning his litter box, feeding him in the morning, and getting up in the middle of the night to kick him out of our room. It's not that we mind sleeping with our cuddly cat. It's more that he wants to party all night long and we have become old fogies who need our sleep. Q now sleeps like a champ. It's our damned cat who is to blame for the dark circles under my eyes.

T and I just got into it as much as any two people can in an annoyed, half-awake state. He told me he wasn't doing this anymore, which I think means that I now have to deal with Elroy in the middle of the night. Elroy is locked in the laundry room as I type this and T is back to snoring and snuffling away.

In our new house, Elroy has much more space to run around. And we let him outside now, whereas before he was an indoor cat. He used to sleep at night. He used to be cuddly at night. He no longer sleeps on our bed and has started to wake up earlier and earlier. What was once a rude 4am wake-up call has turned into a startling midnight roust. As in, you guys just fell into deep sleep -- time to make some noise! I'm pretty sure he's not going through some sort of adolescent rebellion. He is 7 years old. What does that make him in human years? Mid-life crisis perhaps?

We've tried a number of different tactics to get him to stop bugging us at night to no avail. We feed him more often and later at night now. If we shut our bedroom door, he meows and scratches at it, waking up Q in the process. If we throw him outside, he either gets into a fight with one of the neighborhood cats -- one who has more experience in night fighting -- or he meows at the sliding glass door just a few feet from our bed. He will surely start meowing urgently in the laundry room before we're ready to wake up. If anyone out there in the worldwide of webs has any suggestions, by all means, advise away! It's after 2am and mama needs her beauty sleep.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Few of My Favorite Lines . . .

. . . from songs.

If you haven't noticed already, I'm sorta-kinda into music. A great beat will  tickle my dancing fancy and sometimes compel me to enjoy a song despite the lyrics. There are many of those beats-first-lyrics-later songs in the world. In fact, most of popular radio is filled with such melodies. But the really memorable songs, the ones that snake into your ear and hang out in your brain for a while, typically have lyrics that say something more than "now I'm feeling so fly like a G6." Right. I'm NOT talking about earworms. I'm talking about songs that don't drive you to imagine puncturing your own eardrums. And severing your vocal chords -- why am I singing this awful song? Argh!

Now, I don't think a lyric needs to be profound or perfectly written to be great. There's just something about these lyrics that I love. They speak to my soul. Or they make me smile. Or they make me nostalgic for a time when my life was relatively carefree. Carefree meaning before all of this mama stuff.

"My eyes are green 'cause I eat a lot of vegetables. It don't have nothin' to do with your new friend." ~ "Green Eyes" by Erykah Badu
(I could quote many Erykah Badu songs. She's the epitome of cool.)

"We had a rainy day. I'm in a snake-back situation. Here's a pencil pad. I'm gonna spread some information." ~ "Inspiration Information" by Shuggie Otis
(This entire song has mysterious lyrics that don't make sense -- at least not to me. But my mom loved this song and asked me to type out the lyrics for her Christmas gift one year. Awesome.)

"You cried "Keepin it real", yet you should try keepin it right" ~ "The Bizness" by De La Soul
(Another group I could quote for days. But this one has always stuck out to me. Wisdom, people.)

"Music is the man that made a woman out of me." ~ "Swallow Me" by Esthero
(Esthero has one of my favorite voices -- both literally and figuratively. I discovered her when I was just out of college. Ah, the good ol' days.)

"I'm loaded, don't know where to point this thing. It's a sin, how we hit where it hurts." "War of the Hearts" by Sade
 (Sade is the woman and she loves a good war metaphor, but the phrasing in this is perfection.)

"Why must it be you always creep into my dreams" ~ "Creepin'" by Stevie Wonder
(From 1974's Fulfillingness' First Finale and one of the best Stevie Wonder songs that never became a hit.)

 I could list a million more, but I'll save some for another time. I can't find a few of my favorite CD's and, like the tech-savvy person I am, have never uploaded them onto our computer. So, I'm sure there are songs that I'm forgetting. And I know I have forgotten many great lyrics. Unlike one of my best friends who knows every lyric every created, including the entire superfast intro rap to "Feel For You" by Chaka Khan. I need to record her doing that some time . . .

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Lunacy and Letdowns

"I see a bad moon arising, I see trouble on the way" ~ Creedence Clearwater Revival

Via The Risen Books

Once upon a harvest moon . . . a mom lost her way. The moon shone brightly overhead, but she still let the darkness overtake her. Silly mama, meltdowns are for kids.

I believe in the power of a full moon to throw things out of whack. But I also love a full moon, especially a harvest moon. It's beautiful and mysterious and rare. The last harvest moon was in 1991 and we won't have another until 2029. Usually I would celebrate its appearance and spend some time gazing at the way it lights up the sky and gives the world below a unique glow. Maybe I would quote Van Morrison ("well, it's a marvelous night for a moondance . . . "). But not this time.

First, a little background. I've talked about Q's penchant for biting before, but I've always associated it with teething. It's been a couple of months since the last bitefest. But apparently we're in the midst of another one. And this time I don't know if it has anything to do with teething because he has quite the toothy mouth with his first set of molars all in -- is he already getting his 2 year molars? Or is he just a biter now?

So, one of the worst of my playground fears has occurred. Yes, Q bit another little boy on the arm. He is that kid now. "Oh, stay away from that boy. He bites." I can just picture the playground moms huddling together and looking warily at my toddler. My sister in law had taken him to the park while I was working at home and apparently he was playing nicely by the slide with a group of kids, and the next thing she knew Q was unclenching his jaw from around this angel boy's arm. The mom cried out, "He bit him really hard! There are teethmarks!" My sister in law apologized profusely and took Q aside to let him know that it wasn't okay. They had a little timeout. Q cried. He felt bad. The other mom asked if Q was okay, but she was visibly pissed off. I know your child is perfect with his cherubic face and blond curls, but can we get a little understanding here? I think my sister in law did the right thing. What else can you do with a 20-month-old who is still learning that it's not okay to bite people?

Then the other evening, for some loony reason, Q went to town on me. We were dancing, he was flapping his wings like crazy (coming soon to a video near you), and I was thinking how grateful I was to have my boy. And suddenly, Bite City. Scratching. Pinching. Maybe he got too riled up? And I kept trying to sit him down, look him in the eye, and tell him that it was not okay to bite in a firm tone, that it's not okay to scratch, pinch, etc. I tried to leave his vicinity, but how far can I really go? It's not like I can leave him alone. He wouldn't let up. At one point he scratched my face, and now I have big, red gash on my cheek. It's lovely. Someone forgot to trim his nails. Oh . . . right. That's my job. Anyway, all of my lecturing was met with toothy grins and more playful bashing.

I'm going to admit something now that sends ripples of fear down my spine. When someone is beating you up, what's your first instinct? Fight back, right? Well, obviously I'm not going to fight my son. But it was hard to maintain control. I envisioned tossing him down the stairs. I scared myself. But I didn't get physical with him. He had calmed down by bathtime and T took over once he got home, giving me a much-needed break.

After putting him to bed, I had a complete meltdown. I hated myself. I was a terrible mother. I probably shouldn't have read all of that vampire fiction when I was pregnant. I didn't know how to stop my son from being violent. I didn't know what I might do if he didn't stop. What if I lost control? T reassured me that it was just a long day and Q would learn eventually. Part of me knew this, but I had hard time seeing the light. Sometimes I don't think I have the patience for motherhood. It's something I need to work on.

Then I had a drink, ate a chocolate chip cookie, and felt a tiny bit better. Modern Family made me laugh. I went to bed and slept surprisingly well. For now, I'm going to blame all of that craziness on the moon. I'll keep you all posted if Q or I go postal without the moon's assistance.

Mamas, what would you do if your son bit another child? Have you had an experience like this? This biting stuff is akin to the cycles of the moon, right? Just a phase? Can someone tell me it's going to be okay? (Lie, if you must.)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Vice Vice, Baby

"Red, red wine, you make me feel so fine"~ UB40

What exactly is a vice? According to Merriam-Webster, a vice is "a moral depravity or corruption," or in other words, a foible. I thought it appropriate for me to expound on this topic, given the title of this here blog. It seems that most people talk about vices more in terms of guilty pleasures, activities and things that give us enjoyment but are thought of as bad for us in one way or another.

I believe that I have many vices, some of which I'm willing to share and others that I'd like to keep safely hidden in my locked vault of vices. Shopping, chocolate, french fries, whiskey, America's Next Top Model -- these are a few of my favorite vice-y things. But the guilty part of these pleasures can increase tenfold once you become a mother. Are mothers even allowed to have vices? Oh, the judgment we mothers endure for the choices we make. And most of the time the judging surrounds simple mothering styles (breastfeeding vs. bottle, scheduling vs. attachment parenting, etc.). But vices? We can't have no stinkin' vices. That's just selfish.

I was at an event recently where another mom was telling a story about her toddler son pointing to the liquor aisle at the market and exclaiming, "Daddy juice!" We all laughed. But then I thought -- if that same story was told with Mommy in front of the juice, I think there'd be more concerned looks than laughs. I don't like feeling guilty when I have a glass of wine two nights in a row. It's like I'm waiting for the morality fairy to appear and box me in the nose. Bad mommy! It's not like I'm getting sloshed. Believe me -- it's just not worth it to be hung over with a toddler slamming his truck into your already pounding head. I mean, I can only imagine! Plus, I recently read an article about a study done that found that moderate drinkers lived longer. The study was conducted on older adults, but still! Cheers to a longer life!

But a vice becomes a problem, or an addiction, when the truly important things in your life start to suffer for it. Has reality TV distracted you from feeding your child dinner on more than one occasion? Probably more than a little vice. Did you indulge in an expensive handbag but spent all week helping your kid make sense of his math homework? Maybe handbags are a well-deserved vice then.

It boils down to this -- we are human. We are flawed. There are things we enjoy that may not seem perfectly healthy or sane. Q's vices include torturing Elroy and "crack" (cookies/crackers), and sometimes he gets a treat when he deserves it (and sometimes when he doesn't). Elroy gets treats for enduring Q's sadistic treatment. I think moms deserve a treat every once in a while, too. Because if I didn't indulge in my vices from time to time, my sanity would be even more questionable.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Ish My Sis-O Says: 'Rinos

"Sister, you've been on my mind. Oh, sister, we're two of a kind." ~ "Shug Avery"

One lovely Sunday a few weeks back, my dad, D, T, and I were at a wedding for an old family friend. The bride's mother is my sister's godmother. So does that make them godsisters? Or would godsisterhood only occur between multiple goddaughters from the same godmother? How does religious guardianship work? Wait! Don't close that tab just yet -- I do have a story here.

After the ceremony and just as the bruschetta and stuffed figs were being passed out, we began guessing which of the wedding guests were ballerinas. You see, the bride was a ballerina. She danced with the Oakland Ballet for several years and with smaller companies as well. She was incredibly talented. Beautiful to watch and a true star. (And the only reason I'm using the past tense is because she now teaches pilates and no longer dances professionally. I'm sure she can still pirouette and jete with the best of them.) So, of course we knew there would be some ballerina friends in attendance. I looked around and asked, "What do you call guy ballerinas?"

D replied, "Balladeers. I think they're called balladeers."

I said, "Um, I think that's what you call someone who sings ballads."

D started chuckling because she likes to test my gullibility from time to time.

T chimed in, "Ballerinos?"

D said, "Let's just call them 'rinos. If you see one, just say 'rino. 'Ahem, excuse me, we were wondering if you were a 'rino.'"

So, for the rest of the wedding we 'rina and 'rino spotted and had ourselves a grand time. There may or may not have been an open bar with top shelf liquor. And now that I'm reading this over I'm realizing the hilarity of the situation may not transcend the setting. One of those "you just had to be there" moments. With a Manhattan in hand.

I'm pretty sure the reason I'm thinking about this memory is because I missed my sister this weekend. The wedding we attended was gorgeous and full of happy, teary eyes and raucous celebrating, but I know it would have been that much more fun if she had been there. In the moments when I was feeling guilty for leaving Q behind, she would have verbally smacked some sense into me. And probably literally, too. Whatever I needed, she'd be there. Fortunately, Toby was there to remind me of why it was nice to have a weekend to ourselves. And it truly was lovely. But seeing my mom's side of the family without my mom was hard, and I would have felt more, I don't know, fortified with my sister there, too.

I don't think there were any 'rinos at this wedding, but I'm sure we would have had another inside joke going. I'd better schedule a visit soon. How else will I keep this series going?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

My Melody

"Check out my melody" ~ Rakim

No, I'm not talking about the Sanrio character. Although she was one of my favorites when I was a wee thing. I like that she had a brother named Rhythm. I just now learned that. We didn't have these interwebs when I was coming up to find out such pertinent info. Digressing as I do. . .

I've been feeling a little blah when it comes to music lately. I typically like to have a good mix CD on when I'm driving, but I've been relying on the radio too often. And, ugh, so disappointing. If I hear "California Girls" one more time, I might move out of the state that I so dearly love. Don't even get me started on "Toot it and Boot it." I want to expose Q to the kind of music I really enjoy. We already know he's feeling Stevie Wonder, so he's got some soulfulness in him. I'm thinking I might need to introduce Q to one of my all-time favorite groups -- A Tribe Called Quest.

Yes, I'm a mom who thinks it's okay for her kid to listen to hip-hop. As long as the song is not laced with profanities and has a positive feel, then I don't see any harm in it. A while back I was reading an article online about how great music is for little ones, and some moms posted comments about the kind of music they played for their babies. Of course they listed classical tunes as their top choice, maybe some folky rock, a bit of reggae. Sweet, happy, mellow music. They were like, of course no hip-hop or hard rock. But I don't see nothin' wrong . . . with a little bump and grind. Sorry, I couldn't resist. I definitely see something wrong with perverted R. Kelly and that's not what Q will be listening to. But he will get a healthy does of Tribe and De La Soul. Why shouldn't he hear the music that brought his parents together?

My musical leanings have expanded in the last few years. I really love a little bit of everything and I'd like Q to taste pieces of all kinds of music until he finds his ultimate "num num." But hip-hop has been such a big part of my life that I can't imagine him not hearing it. It's not like we're going to be blasting Wu-Tang before bedtime. Only during breakfast. (Sheesh, I'm really dating myself with the '90s hip-hop references.)

And, as for something new that I'd be eager to dance around the family room with Q to, the new Big Boi is sure to make an impression. (Don't mind the disturbing screen shot -- I probably won't show him the video just yet.)

To the moms out there, what kind of music do you play for your little ones? Am I crazy for playing hip-hop for Q? Will it rot his brain? To the not-yet-moms, what kind of music are you excited to share with your kids someday?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Skipping Off Into the Sunset or Dragging Heels in the Dust?

"Look out weekend 'cause I here I come" ~ Debbie Deb

So, we're finally doing it. We're venturing out to the great unknown beyond. On our own. No hand-holding. No drool-covered travel clothes. No strollers. That's right. We're leaving Q behind for a weekend away. Elroy can handle things at Guido (with a little help from Grandma). We're heading to San Diego for my cousin's wedding. Woo-hoo?

As is typical with my wavering nature, I can't decide if I'm thrilled beyond belief or filled with dread to leave Q for 40 long short hours. I've never been away from him for one night, and here I am throwing two nights at him. Buck up, big boy Q. You'll be the man of the house for two whole nights. Elroy may think he's in charge, but if you can sit on him, you probably rule the roost. Oh man. Those two will probably throw a party when G-ma is fast asleep. A party full of scratching and ripping up the furniture and raiding the pantry for "crack" (Q lingo for snacks/crackers) and kitty treats.

Of course I know he'll be fine under Grandma's care. And she's really looking forward to a weekend of Q cuddling. But I wonder, will he think we've abandoned him? Will he wonder why we're gone for so long? Does he have any concept of time yet? Will he even notice? I may have something in my eye on Friday night . . .

. . . called tears of joy! T and I will be blessed with two whole mornings of freedom. Sure, the nights will be lovely, especially the wedding night during which we can get properly festive. But that Saturday morning will be absolute heaven. I probably won't be able to sleep in from the excitement of it all, but I can loll around. Oh, how I fondly remember lolling! Leisure. Lounging. Lolling. L-words are for people without toddlers. And we will be those people for a brief period of perfect time. Time spent 'laxing and sitting all languid-like by the pool. Having cocktails while we . . .

. . . talk about how much we miss Q. Maybe there will be some hand-holding.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Ish My Sis-O Says

"I wish I was little bit taller, I wish I was a baller" ~ Skee-Lo

Is it possible to look up to your younger sister? Why, yes it is! Especially when your sister, four years your junior, is five inches taller than you. I believe she started passing me up when she hit the 5th or 6th grade, and if you're a mathematician, you've realized that would put me in 9th or 10th grade. I remember feeling jealous occasionally, but I also thought, hmm, how can I work this to my advantage? Maybe she could be a model since she had the height and the looks and I could be her manager. I remember dressing her in '90s grunge and posing her on our fireplace. Baggie overalls, flannel tied around her waist, slouchy beanie. Let's just say that little pipe dream didn't last.

D preferred applying her continual growth spurt to the basketball court. And she was indeed a fierce, passionate baller. Now she coaches basketball (along with teaching middle school English) and to say she takes it seriously would be a serious understatement. Fortunately, she's coaching high school JV girls for the first time this year, so at least it's a step closer to her NCAA mentality.

Trying to make myself look taller. Not working.

But aside from the literal upward glances, I look up to my younger sister for so many real reasons. But my absolute favorite part of her personality? The trait that I can only wish to possess? Her quick wit. Oh man. If she were a freestyle rapper, she would win every battle. Sarcasm in spades, that one. My mom was known for her sarcastic sense of humor, and while I think I've got some of that in me, I only dabble in it when compared with my Sis-O.

D was a character from the get-go. At two years of age, she was walking down the street in San Francisco with my mom and she saw a can of Dennison's Chili in the gutter. She pointed to it and said, "Oh, chili bean is not my lover." Two years old. And yes, we listened to the Thriller album a lot at my house.

D lives in Las Vegas and has been there for about seven years now. Before that, she was away at college and before that I was in college. And essentially, we haven't lived in the same city or area for 15 years. We see each other a couple times a year and of course we talk on the phone and Facebook and email, but sometimes I wonder how much we really know each other nowadays. I knew girlhood D very well, better than probably anyone else. We were close. We fought like typical siblings, but we hung out a lot. Then we started growing distant when I was in high school (not just in height) and things just kind of changed. I guess it's something that happens, but I wish we had remained closer.

We recently have had a couple of really good talks. It makes me miss her more. But all of this is simply to introduce a new series of blog posts I'm starting called "Ish My Sis-O Says." Yes, like the beloved Shit My Dad Says.  But better because it's my Sis-O and she cracks my ish up. Chili bean is just a warm up.

Love ya 2 and a half, D!

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Making My Memos . . .

I have the distinct honor of guest posting over at The Mommyhood Memos today! Please come visit and show me some comment love. I may have gotten a bit long-winded in the post, but 1) I was excited about my first guest post and 2) I apparently had a lot to say about being a working mom.

Also, I highly recommend following The Mommyhood Memos because Adriel is one admirable mama who writes heartfelt, informative, and funny posts that we can all relate to. Oh, and her baby boy Levi is beyond precious. Plus, she's an expat living in Australia with her adorable family. What a dream, right?

See you down under . . .

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

20 Months: Quintessential Q

"You can't keep running away (run run) . . ." ~ Pharcyde

Darling Q-tip, I promise I didn't forget your 19 month day. I gave you extra kisses and ice cream that day, remember? Oh, your short term memory is that of a goldfish? You are just like your mama then. Anyway, 20 months! 20 months old sounds more exciting, doesn't it? You are that much closer to 24 months or 2T (what's the difference between those sizes anyway? T stands for tall, right? Toddler? Oh.) Let's not get ahead of ourselves, though. Let us enjoy this day, this momentous occasion of 20 months.

What have you been up to lately? Oh, that's right. You still love your trips to the park, but sometimes you prefer to run around its perimeter rather than swinging or sliding. But when you do decide to swing or slide, it is with pure abandonment and joy. No more fear.

 You are my champion napper now. Three hours is pretty standard (I'm probably jinxing myself). And when you awake, you reach out, I come to rescue you from the confines of your crib, and the first word out of your mouth: "Kitty?" 

You have discovered how to open the broom closet, and, other than that one incident with the fluorescent light tube that we won't discuss here, it's been super fun. You want to help sweep and Swiffer and mop. I didn't realize I would have a maid little cleaning assistant so soon. I especially enjoy when you wipe the table with a paper towel and proceed to snack on it. You say "num num." Good times!

You begged me to enter you in that Gerber baby contest, so I went ahead and did it (vote here!). Now that two several people have referred to you as a mini Brad Pitt, I think it's time we got you an agent. But it's totally up to you. I'm so not the stage mom type.

But best of all . . . I feel like I have waited much longer than 20 months for this. It has finally happened after many sleepless nights of your mama wondering -- will he love to dance? While we cannot yet assume that you dance well, you now make it a regular point to shake your groove thang. And that's all that matters. Thank you for letting me capture this fleeting moment . . . (pardon the shaky camera work -- someone's mama was getting down as well)

Happy 20 Month Day, Quincy!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Mamasay . . . Part 2

Quincy was born on January 7th, 2009 at 10:15pm, and, along with my dad, my mom was one of the first people to greet him. She had tears in her eyes as she watched me nursing him. She gazed at him with such adoration that my tears matched hers. I will never forget that moment. My Mamasay. Q's Gram.

I knew it was difficult for my mom to not be able to help us out when we took Q home, but we managed just fine. She was a phone call away when I needed advice or to vent. And she came to visit with my dad a couple of times so they could at least hold him while I grabbed some food. And I drove the 45 minutes to their house with Q once I knew he I could handle it. I remember going to the bathroom as my mom mimicked Q's coos back to him and I could overhear their little conversation and knew he was smiling at her. And it reminded me of my mom before she got sick, when she was goofy and relatively carefree. He was about 5 and a half weeks old when we had our last visit with her. I'm so glad they shared that special conversation.

The Sunday before she passed, T and I had plans to take Q down to my parents' house for another visit and to watch the Oscars. We had a tradition of watching the Oscars at their house with lots of decadent snacks, drinks, and filling out ballots to see who guessed the most wins correctly. Always a blast. I looked forward to it every year. That morning, my dad called to say that my mom wasn't feeling well and didn't think she could handle company. I was worried of course, but not that worried since I figured this was just one of her bad days. My mom called me later to tell me not to worry, that she was really tired and would rather sleep. That was the last time I spoke with my mom.

When I got the call from my dad the next morning, I was nursing Q. The news socked me in the stomach and I began to lose it. Q, all of 7 weeks old, looked up at me with curiosity in his little eyes. I had to calm down for Q. Fortunately T was home with me that day, too. I don't know what I would have done without him there. I realized that I could manage the crazy days ahead of us because I had my boys with me.

I could go on and on about how difficult this all was and how difficult it still can be, but I want to focus on some of the positives right now. Quincy was (and is) my light, my angel. He was such a calm baby and even slept through most of her funeral service and the raucous celebration of her life afterward. He kept me sane through the darkest days. And the support I received from T -- I couldn't ask for a better partner.

Above all, my mom provided the ultimate example of the mother I hope to be. A giver, a confidante, someone to laugh with, someone to cry with, a great friend but always a mother. She taught me to be strong, but that it's okay to let your vulnerability show sometimes, too. (Hi vulnerability!) Her spirit reminds me to celebrate the optimist in me, to be grateful for what I have. My health, my healthy family, my beautiful home, my amazing friends. The sense of humor she gave me. I'm so grateful that she was in my life at all and that she is no longer in pain. On the days when I can sense the darkness hovering around the edges, threatening to seep in, I try to remember these things. I make gratitude lists. I laugh at myself. I know things are going to be okay.

But how I miss her. Every day. How I miss you, Mamasay.