Monday, October 31, 2011

If you came here wondering, "What have Noelle and her guys been up to?"

We're so glad you asked!

We've been going on family coffee dates.
My Coffee Dates

And eating chilly treats on chilly days (because we're crazy like that).
Farm Treat

We've been having fun with cool T-shirts under black light.
Anglerfish Love

And perfecting homemade hot cocoa with vegan marshmallows!
Vegan Hot Cocoa

We made some art...
Let's Make Art!

...with things we had lying around the house.
Let's Make Art!

(P.S. Westley is rocking my Teeny Tiny Tantrums pins among his flair. Thanks, Kelly!)
Let's Make Art!

Westley has discovered a passion for miso soup. (After a Halloween party at Rob's office, he chowed down on miso soup and steamed dumplings at one of our favorite vegan places.)
Teapot Dinner

I made a nut-free and adorable, mini version of Karina's Pumpkin Muffins, and a super-mild, tahini-free version of Susan's Spooky Black Bean Hummus for preschool snack last week. (The muffins were eaten too quickly to be photographed.)
Quick-and-Spooky Hummus

And I borrowed Westley's hat to dress up as Puss in Boots! One of his classmates told me I looked "cute."
...

We spied on our local gorillas.
Primates

Westley ran and played for hours...
Blur of motion!

...and admired harvest-themed displays (and lived in that fleecy red hoodie that Rob's mom picked out for him last year).
Apple Display

And today, Westley and I had our second-ever movie date: Puss in Boots. (It's cute but not great, though it does have its moments. I'd give it a solid C+.) We drank cranberry lemonade through a giant straw and held hands during the not-quite-scary-just-very-exciting parts.
Movie Date!

Westley trick-or-treated as Iron Man-sans-mask. (I noticed lots of mask-free superheroes out tonight. It's just as well; secret identities seem bothersome.) He had a blast and ate his weight in lollipops.
Trick-or-Treating

All in all, I'd say Fall has been pretty good to us so far this year.

Happy Halloween tonight,
and Happy I Can't Believe It's the First of November Tomorrow!

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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Broad Points II

11. I can do a bunch of tricks with my tongue (turning it completely over, folding it in three, making a straw, touching my uvula, touching the underside of my nose), but I can't blow a regular old raspberry.

12. I'm not a fan of nutritional yeast-based "cheese" sauces. I think this might be because I didn't have cheese-based cheese sauces growing up.

13. I'm happy cleaning with white vinegar and natural products—I love making my house smell like pickles and wildflowers—but sometimes I just need to bleach the living daylights out of something.

14. I regret having my wisdom teeth removed. They weren't bothering me, but a dentist talked me into it. Now I have "phantom wisdom tooth syndrome" in my lower right jaw.

15. I don't see the big problem with double-dipping. Doesn't bother me at all. Double-dip away, my friend!

16. The feeling of loose ponytails and updos drives me crazy. If my hair is up, I want it secure. Triple pirouette secure!

17. I love the idea of owning one beautifully made, extremely intricate Halloween costume that I could haul out year after year. The more dramatic, the better. Marie Antoinette comes to mind.

18. My lips are almost always chapped, no matter what I do.

19. When singing along with music, I often find myself singing the harmony. It's not a conscious choice—that's just what comes out! It might be because I'm a mezzo, it might be because I played bassoon for a few years, it might be because I grew up listening to folk music (where female voices often sing the harmony)...

20. ...and speaking of music, I learn songs very quickly. Ridiculously quickly if I'm actively trying. This means I often find myself singing along to a song I didn't know I knew!

Then again, most songs are actually the same song.


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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Let's Just Get Naked

This morning I dropped Westley off at preschool without eyeliner on and, I'll be honest, I felt a little naked.

I wear makeup every day. Not much makeup, but I always wear at least a little bit. This morning, we were pressed for time, so I did my two-minute face (blush, one eyeshadow, mascara) instead of my two-and-a-half-minute face (blush, two eyeshadows, eyeliner, mascara). When I got home and changed for my workout, I spotted myself in the mirror and thought, "Wow, you look weird."

No, I corrected myself, I'm just not wearing my normal eye makeup.

It's interesting to notice that my made-up face has become my "natural" face. The makeup has become my face. It's my normal, but it's far from natural. If I'm not wearing makeup it either means I've just showered, or something is wrong. I wear makeup to bed, not because I think I need it, but because most of the time, it doesn't occur to me to wash it off.

Deanna has issued what she's calling the "Naked Face Challenge": one picture of your naked face. No makeup, no Photoshop, no posing.

Naked Face

I am actually naked naked in this picture. And I have shower-cap hat-hair to boot! And I actually think that's pretty awesome. I agree wholeheartedly with RuPaul, who says, "We're born naked, and the rest is drag." I also believe there's real value in pointing up the artifice that we've come to mistake for the natural.


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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

No-Phone Home

The grandmothers in my yoga class yesterday morning were talking about their adult children refusing to text. "She says, 'Oh, I don't text, Mom,'" one woman said with an eye roll.

"What!?" her neighbor practically gasped. "Get with the times!"

"I know!" the first woman said, shaking her head. "Text is the only way I talk to my kids!"

I said nothing. I pretended the choice between a round bolster and a rectangular one was a serious dilemma to keep from laughing.

I don't have a cell phone. I barely have a home phone; without caller ID, picking up the telephone is still a great mystery. It could be Rob, my mother, the Queen, or, as is often the case lately, a horrible hissing noise that suggests someone thinks my house is a fax machine.

But back to the cell phone thing—I just don't see the need.

I don't need to be part of the communication machine all the time.

To be fair, I'm a bit of a neo-Luddite. While I enjoy that the Internet is sitting in my lap right now, I don't really want it in my pocket. I purchased my first digital album just a few months ago, and it felt sort of weird and sad. Rob's mom raves about her Kindle, and I just...I can't even imagine. And though I try, I really don't understand the appeal of Twitter. (It's kind of like trying to have an intimate conversation in a crowded nightclub, isn't it?)

Sometimes I feel like I'm missing out—like if I had a smartphone all of the techno-joy would make sense and I too would be texting while walking down the street and wondering "How did I live without this thing?" But I doubt it.

I enjoy staring out the window on bus rides, writing in my journal in waiting rooms, making silly faces at Westley while standing in line. I like that when I leave the house, my gadgets stay behind. For a little while, I'm unreachable.

* * *
[Updated]

When I say I don't see the need for a cell phone, I'm referring just to myself and my life, as it is now. I'm glad people are keeping in touch through text and Twitter and what have you. My closest friends in high school didn't actually go to my high school—they lived in other parts of the country! We met online back in the early days of AOL, and e-mailed each other on an almost daily basis. I don't begrudge anyone her technology. And I certainly acknowledge that cell phone technology has saved lives on numerous occasions.

For my life as of right now, however, I don't feel I need this particular technology. I don't really want it. Just like I don't need or want other groundbreaking inventions like canned food and antibacterial soap and birth control pills. I also find it more than a little hilarious that my baby boomer classmates treat cell phones and texting as indispensable and I find them unaesthetic and unnecessary.

Now you kids get off my lawn!

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

List Service

Without meaning to, all of my recent writing has been list-making.

I find lists aesthetically pleasing. Lists of ideas, references, anecdotes, and even tasks or grocery items are satisfying in their order. That long, thin column on the left side, whether it's numbers or bullets or check boxes, is especially soothing. That column can make all the commuters in my racing brain line up and behave.

I enjoy reading lists—except agendas, which I find maddening. (I make a list of eight or so easy-to-accomplish items, and at the end of the day, I've managed to complete three of them. Not so good.) But it seems like since Westley started preschool, I've needed to implement a regular "to do" list policy to accomplish anything.

For instance, I had fully intended for Westley to have a haircut before school picture day. But while "School Pictures" ended up on the calender, "haircut—Westley" didn't make it on to the agenda until it was too late. Our hairdresser friend was going on vacation. I could have taken Westley to any of the cute children's salons sprinkled throughout the Seattle area, with their bright balloons and airplane styling chairs, but I didn't. (There were other agenda items to attend to.) So he got his hair cut the day after picture day.

Haircut

Currently, I keep my "to do" lists in lined, spiral-bound note books. Each day gets its own page—and if I don't complete a task on a particular day, I write it again on the next day's page. Today's list looks like this:
  • work out
  • write (check!)
  • candles for pumpkins
  • laundry
  • yard work (check!—even though we just did a little bit)
  • budget

The empty bullet is for the thing I think of next. And there's always a thing I think of next. Occasionally, if I'm feeling cheeky, I'll make a bullet point for "dinner" or "brush teeth." It doesn't trick me into thinking I've been more productive than I actually have been, but it sometimes reminds me of everything I do without thinking about it—and right on time, too.

Fresh Haircut

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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Broad Points

Deanna of Delirious Rhapsody does a "Sunday Confessional" each week (inspired by Sara of Sarbear's Journey) and this week, we're invited to play along and link up and all that blog-lovey goodness! As a meme-lover and a list-maker, I couldn't turn this one down.

1. I don't own a cell phone. And I don't want one.

2. I would rather have a gynecological exam than a dental cleaning. Of the parts in question, my mouth feels much more personal.

3. I once rocked lavender eyebrows. It was just for one night, but I loved it.

Serious at the Ball
If you interfere with our fun, we will eat you.

If I weren't so such a fashion weakling, I'd do lavender (or mint green!) brows every day.

4. I've never felt feminine, and I'm self-conscious about it. I compensate for not actually being a "real" girl by wearing makeup every single day. I'm surprised no one has found out and called the Girl Police on me yet.

5. I love the smell of low tide. That stinky ocean smell is the best.

6. Surgery fascinates me. The idea that we can cut into a living body to heal it (or just to change it!) makes my mind reel in the best way. I'm not sure I could be a surgeon, though. But I love seeing and knowing about organs, bones, and other body-insides.

7. As a child, I never really wanted to be anything when I grew up except an adult.

8. Whenever I hold Westley, I try to memorize the feeling of holding him: his weight, how he feels in my arms, how he smells. I feel guilty for not being able to conjure up sense memories of him as a baby.

Mommy+West

9. I enjoy craft projects, but I lose interest in them very quickly. If I can't finish something in a day or two, it often doesn't get finished at all. I often find myself knitting baby hats, not because anyone I know is expecting a baby, but because I enjoy completing a project.

10. Two of the qualities I find attractive in others are musicianship and comic timing. A skilled musician who is also funny is my Kryptonite.

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Saturday, October 22, 2011

"Vintage" Vegan MoFo Survey

Vegan guys

Kelly posted this Vegan MoFo survey from 2007 today, and I while I'm not a MoFo'er, I love a good survey. Sure, it's lazy writing, but it's also fun writing. And fun reading. I for one love to read through writers' lists of quirky things about them, favorite food trends, whatever. Also, lists let me pretend I'm an organized person. (I'm so not.)

1. Favorite non-dairy milk?
I love Almond Breeze unsweetened vanilla for almost everything: baking, in coffee, on homemade granola, with cookies... Just don't make pasta Florentine with it. Vanilla + spinach = not so much.

Westley and Rob are big fans of Silk Very Vanilla soy milk, which is a little too candy-bar-in-a-cup for me.

2. What are the top 3 dishes/recipes you are planning to cook?
Two of them are for Westley's preschool snack! My first day as Snack Parent is the Friday before Halloween, and I want to gluten-free up the pumpkin muffins from Vegan with a Vengeance, and make (a mild version of) Susan's Spooky Black Bean Hummus. I'm also loving the 40-Clove Chickpeas and Broccoli from Appetite for Reduction, and will certainly be making that again soon.

40-Clove Chickpeas & Broccoli leftovers
40-Clove Chickpeas & Broccoli Leftovers

3. Topping of choice for popcorn?
Joanna's vegan Parmesan from Yellow Rose Recipes!

4. Most disastrous recipe/meal failure?
Two spring immediately to mind. When Rob and I were newly married, I made a batch of chocolate-chocolate chip cookies on a sheet pan that had recently baked okara "crab" cakes. Not only did the cookies not bake properly—burnt on the edges but doughy in the middle—they tasted distinctly fishy. Oh! And they stuck to the pan (which was a wedding gift) so fiercely that I elected to throw it away rather than attempting to clean it! Also, I made a a soapy stir-fry in a wok that didn't get well-rinsed. Ugh.

5. Favorite pickled item?
This varies depending on my mood (or maybe it's the phase of the moon), but I once surprised Rob by eating about 37 cloves of picked garlic. In my defense, we were on vacation in Monterey, CA, which is only about 40 miles from Gilroy.

6. How do you organize your recipes?
Organize? My recipes?

I used to have a three-ring binder full of print-outs. Now I just flounder around, wondering, "Where did I find that great red cabbage salad again?" Also, I do a lot of my cooking from a small shelf-full of cookbooks.

7. Compost, trash, or garbage disposal?
Giant yard waste bin! Thanks, City of Kirkland!

8. If you were stranded on an island and could only bring 3 foods…what would they be (don’t worry about how you’ll cook them)?
I posed this to Rob, who asks, "Do I have to worry about keeping myself alive?" Avocados, potatoes, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

9. Fondest food memory from your childhood?
Oh, there are so many! My mother was (is!) a tremendous cook and always made beautiful meals on no budget to speak of. I loved Thanksgiving dinner growing up, and also my birthday cake which, for as long as I can remember, was a strawberry shortcake with the sweetest, fluffiest whipped cream icing you can imagine. And I was just waxing nostalgic about my family's occasional nights out at the diner, when we'd hold out for the big, round booth in the corner order decadent breakfast foods for dinner.

10. Favorite vegan ice cream?
I'm not a big ice cream fan, but Coconut Bliss is aptly named.

11. Most loved kitchen appliance.
Rice cooker. Or immersion blender, which is total genius!

12. Spice/herb you would die without?
Oregano.

13. Cookbook you have owned for the longest time?
No idea. It probably belonged to my mother. My first vegan cookbook was Vegan with a Vengeance.

14. Favorite flavor of jam/jelly?
Lingonberry!

15. Favorite vegan recipe to serve to an omni friend?

16. Seitan, tofu, or tempeh?
Officially, none of the above, as all three cause inflammation in my system. Sensitivities aside, seitan—but perhaps I just say that because it's been so long. (I miss you, seitan baby!)

17. Favorite meal to cook (or time of day to cook)?
I love any meal that basically goes, "Combine ingredients pan, throw it in the oven, wait an hour, eat dinner."

18. What is sitting on top of your refrigerator?
My continuous-brew kombucha system! Also some art (tattoo inspirations, Westley's preschool art) and a glass vase with my designated gluten-free wooden spoon and spatulas.

19. Name 3 items in your freezer without looking.
Edamame, Trader Joe's veggie dumplings, and Coconut Bliss.

20. What’s on your grocery list?
All kinds of stuff! I need to buy Halloween treats for the preschool kids, pumpkin for my pumpkin muffin project, fresh veggies, fruit, gluten-free pasta...basically all our food for the week and then some.

21. Favorite grocery store?
Vicente Foods. I miss it so!

22. Name a recipe you’d love to veganize, but haven’t yet.

But it would mostly be a "stunt veganization." With the sweet pastry shell, that's 12 large egg yolks, people! Twelve!!! Plus another six large eggs. And don't forget the creme fraiche!

23. Food blog you read the most (besides Isa’s because I know you check it every day). Or maybe the top 3?
I don't read a whole lot of food blogs, though I'm branching out. I do adore Joanna Vaught, FatFree Vegan Kitchen, and Your Vegan Mom.

24. Favorite vegan candy/chocolate?
Go Max Go's Jokerz. I certainly didn't eat two of them on my plane-ride home from vacation this summer.

25. Most extravagant food item purchased lately?
I'm on a tight budget (that I suck at sticking to), so things like store-bought bread and vegan cheese seem extravagant to me. I just bought a bagful of things at Sidecar for Pigs Peace, where the prices are a little higher but I so love to support small, local business. And everyone there is so lovely to me and my sometimes cranky, grabby kid.

(And how much does it hurt my heart that buying from a small, local business feels "extravagant"? Oof!)

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Friday, October 21, 2011

Five Stages of My Cycle

  1. Ovulation: Denial — "I'm totally fine having another baby."; "Just because I'm walking around in a slinky little black robe that I let fall open—oops!—in front of my partner doesn't mean I'm ovulating."

  2. Post-ovulation week: Anger — "Why me? Rob can get drunk and smoke crack while jumping on a trampoline! But I can't, because I might be pregnant! It's not fair!" (Once denial has disappeared, those who represent freedom to think about and treat their bodies as wholly their own are the enemy. And selfish to boot! If I've ovulated recently, I'm squinting hate at you with your delicious double-tall latte and brand new tattoo. Not that you would know this, of course.)

  3. Pre-menstrual week: Bargaining — "Just let me buy the box of pregnancy tests. I won't actually take one."; "Are my tits bigger? Are you sure? But feel them!"

  4. Period: Depression — "I'm a failure. What's the point in doing anything?"; "I'm such an idiot for buying those pregnancy tests. How could I ever have thought I was pregnant? I should know better."; "I hate my body."

  5. Pre-ovulation week: Acceptance — "It's going to be OK."; "Whatever happens, happens. If we have another child, great. If not, that's fine too. I can't conceive right this minute, so I might as well play extra hard with Westley, and take super-good care of myself." (This is when I check the online due date calculator to figure out, based on the dates for the period that just ended, when a baby conceived this cycle might arrive. I determine that this is would be just fine, whatever, no big deal. If it happens, which it might not, and that's cool. I'm certainly not going to think about it. This cycle is going to be different!)
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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Grateful

Trash-to-Treasure

My lovely blogging friends Cait and Allison both posted gratitude lists recently—10 things that made them feel happy and hopeful on a particular day—and I want to jump on the thankfulness bandwagon. (Have you seen this band? Gorgeous.)

The first one is a biggie:

1. Trust.
There are areas in which I feel like I can't trust myself, but I can trust that I won't hurt myself when depression pulls me under.

They get a little lighter now.

Soup

2. Soup weather.
As soon as September rolls around, I start chomping at the soup-making bit. Problem is, in early September, things are still reasonably summery around here. Now that fall has really fallen, making giant pots of soup feels exactly right.

3. I have a new dishwasher! And an awesome father who happily installed it for me (and turned the box into a playhouse for Westley)!
When you cook from scratch as much as I do, a dishwasher starts feeling like a necessity and not the luxury it truly is—and nothing will make you realize this more quickly than having your dishwasher die unexpectedly. I complained loudly and often during our week of dishwasherlessness, but I was also quietly thankful: thankful that I have abundant clean water running directly into several rooms in my house whenever I want it; thankful that washing several loads of dishes by hand each day is not the norm for me; thankful that replacing a major appliance didn't break the bank (in fact, we had money already "banked" in the budget towards appliance purchases!); thankful for a partner who'll wash while I dry; thankful for a handyman father who says, "Just lemme know when the new one comes in and we'll go pick it up!"

4. Art.
The "junk drawer" has now become the "lid drawer," so I can answer Trenton Doyle Hancock's "call to color."

Trash-to-Treasure

5. Music on...YouTube?
I love that if I have a hankering for a particular song (especially one I haven't heard in years), it's probably on YouTube. And, on a related note...

6. Fans.
I haven't participated in an organized fan community in more than a decade, but I'm grateful for fans' devotion to their niches on an almost daily basis. For one thing, they upload everything. So when you get a hankering for that song you haven't heard in years? It's already on the Internet! Someone may even have done their own, acoustic cover of it! Or parodied it! Or blogged a scholarly analysis of it, complete with footnotes! (Nothing says "I am passionate about this" like footnotes.)

7. "Date night" every night.
When Rob and I have a movie we're intent on watching together, or a new game to play, every night is "date night."

8. Vegan marshmallows.

9. Westley the parrot.
I know that if I say something around Westley—even once!—he'll repeat it. This isn't always a good thing ("We are done having this discussion!"), but often results in him dropping a big old empathy bomb on me. My back, which had been doing really well, went out last week (I guess I should have known better than to assume "Gentle Yoga I" wouldn't torque me up), and Westley was all, "Oh, I'm sowwy. What can I do to helwp?"

Pumpkin Faces

10. Westley singing.
Songs he learned at preschool, songs on the radio, songs he just made up... He's my favorite station.

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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Felled

"There must be quite a few things a hot bath won't cure, but I don't know many of them."
— Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
(And for everything else, there's putting your head in the oven.)
"Falling into a depression" is a terribly inaccurate description. Falls are often unexpected; you don't know you're falling until you've hit the ground. Although every now and then one does experience a good "slow-motion fall." Ohhhhhhh noooooooooooo...

We say that someone falls into a depression, but I think what we really mean to say is someone falls to depression. Falling to—without the "in"—is the kind of fall that means being overthrown by an enemy. And depression is nothing if not an enemy.

Depression is an enemy of fun. An enemy of patience. An enemy of closeness, and of optimism, and of mindful eating practices. There is no middle. There is no balance.

Balance

While I'm sure this isn't the case for everyone, when I see depression on the horizon there's often a moment of surrender. Because it feels inevitable that I will succumb to depression, but also because I know how to do it. I've been doing it for 15 years. (At least.) Waving the white flag is easier than fighting. Especially when the enemy tells you that what you have isn't worth fighting for.

But in learning how to do this, how to live under the reign of depression, I've discovered that there's also an element of self-defense in the surrender: "I know you're coming for me. Do whatever you want, just please don't kill me."

If I behave, maybe this time depression will let me go again. For a little while.

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Friday, October 14, 2011

Busy with Nothing

Playground car

I feel like I've been wildly busy lately...but I can't think with what. It must be pretty important, whatever it is. I've been eating odd things at odd times like busy people do, and I end my days feeling physically drained and mentally breathless. But if you ask me, "So, what've you been up to?" I have no real answer for you.

I know for certain that I'm ridiculously behind on digital photo management, but I did manage to grab a few choice shots. Here's some of what we've been busy (not) doing.

Goats

Broad, Street

Embroidered path

I realized yesterday that I missed National Coming Out Day and Miles for Midwives, both of which I'd been looking forward to for months. Rob was bummed to discover the existence of GeekGirlCon after it had already happened. In the spirit of catching up, 1.) I'm queer, 2.) I love my Washington midwives, and 3.) I sometimes get excited about the outcome of a polyhedral die roll. More on all of these things later...unless I get too busy—with nothing—and forget all over again.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

We Heart Parts

Sometimes the best way to get Westley to use the bathroom is to also use the bathroom yourself: "Hey, Westley, let's be potty buddies."

"Okay!"

We sit in silence for a moment, and then...

Westley: "How do you pee without a penis?"

The night before, Westley had asked why I didn't have a penis. I told him it was because I'm a woman, and I was born this way. (Isn't there a song about that?) I reminded him that men and boys have male parts and girls and women have female parts. His response? A condoling, "I'm sorry." And then...

"It would be better if you had a penis."

My son the Freudian, everybody!

I swallowed a laugh. "Penises are pretty neat. I think you really like penises."

"I like it better when everyone has a penis."

Awesome.

Back in the bathroom, I explain to Westley that I pee through my urethra. He's heard this word before. "That little tube in your penis? That's your urethra. I have one too. Boys and girls both have urethras."

"Where is it?"

With my nerdy, anatomy-loving mind, I'm thinking, It's part of the vulva, below the clitoris, above the vaginal opening... I say, "It's between my legs."

"Where?"

Dang. I really thought that would do it for him. And then I remember remember that we have a book. With pictures. "Shall we look at a picture?" I offer.

"Yes!"

We finish up in the bathroom and I grab It's So Amazing! Kick-ass vegan mama (and adorable button-maker) Kelly clued me in to this book's existence a couple years ago, and I have been grateful ever since. I wish I'd had this book and its companion for kids going through puberty, It's Perfectly Normal, when I was growing up. I open to the page about female parts and point to the urethra, which isn't terribly exciting.

I read just a few lines about female anatomy before Westley says, "Let's see the man one now."

The little cartoon models—a baby boy, an older boy, and an adult man—are holding little screens in front of their parts, giving us an X-ray window into their pelvises. Colorful tubes abound.

"I wish I could have one of those," Westley says, pointing to the X-ray window, "so I could see inside my body."

"Me too, dude. That would be so cool."

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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Epiblogue: Preganoia Will Destroy Ya

I spent a good chunk of last night looking at pictures of other people's pregnancy tests online. I'm not kidding. (Oh, how I wish I were kidding.)

This was going to be my deep, dark secret. But then it occurred to me that I was pretty hilarious, sneaking around on my own computer, lurking on infertility forums and Fertility Awareness sites. All shifty eyes and fingers at the ready to close my browser should someone come into screen-viewing distance, I might as well have been looking at the Internet's filthiest porn. But no. It was pictures of home pregnancy tests. I'm a pee stick fetishist.

Now you know. And if you stop reading, I'll completely understand.

No one makes an HPT patch yet—you know, something you could slap on your arm when you get the craving for a home pregnancy test. So I guess I thought looking at photos of other people's tests might calm the pregnancy paranoia that scratches around inside my head every few weeks. Also, I was counting on the Internet to remind me, as Rob as so dutifully done for the past few days, that a pregnancy test peed on right now would tell us absolutely nothing. (And even if it were "officially" late enough, a test might not be accurate. I didn't get a positive pregnancy test with Westley until day cycle day 37!)

Which is really to say that it's one thing to say, "No big deal. We'll just have fun and not think about it and if I get pregnant, fine, and if not, fine. It's all good." It's another thing entirely to try to accomplish that. Because while I imagine myself as being this super-calm, serene, whatever happens is cool person, I'm not that AT ALL. If something is going on—especially something in my own body—I want to know about it. I want to know yesterday.

The other thing is that creating the possibility of pregnancy means, well, thinking about it. Not thinking about it could result in medication taken, alcohol enjoyed, vitamins neglected. I've been freezing my ass off in this Pacific Northwest proto-winter, but aren't hot baths strictly off-limits for the newly pregnant?

I see Rob trying to wrap his mind around my preganioa and failing. I'd like to think it's biology that's the problem—he's never had a uterus—and not that my behavior is wholly incomprehensible. However, he has the decency not to laugh at my lunacy.

Not to my face, anyway.

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Monday, October 10, 2011

Married Life

Night before last, I slept 10 hours. I didn't have a choice, really. Usually I'll push through the first round of evening tiredness to hang out with Rob—the one-hour "date night," every night—but I was exhausted to the point of feeling drugged.

I got in bed shortly after Westley went down, and Rob came to pet my hair and work through his entire repertoire of sympathetic faces.

"What's going on?" I moaned. "It's like PMS, but way too soon. And I'm weirdly crampy."

"You did this exact same thing last month," Rob said.

"I DID?"

"Yeah, remember that day I came home from work and you were in bed?"

"Oh yeah..." I had plopped Westley down in front of the TV with a snack and put on my pajamas while it was still light out. I think I was dreaming when Rob got home from work. "And was I crampy, too?"

"Yep."

"I think it's odd that you remember this and I don't."

"I think it's odd that you DON'T remember."

This is something about married life that I love: being observed. Or maybe "witnessed" would be a better word. In any case, Rob can keep tabs on my odd exhaustion patterns because he's not busy being me.

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Sunday, October 9, 2011

Seasoned

I've lived up here for over six years, and I'm still not used to fall. Or, as I like to call it, winter.

Perhaps it's because the Seattle area had so little summery summer this year, but I feel as though we skipped over the warm seasons altogether. The sun was shining (a little bit), but then I tore the September page off the calendar and it was like flipping the Winter switch. This seems to happen every year. I'm never ready for it.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, everything is gray and wet and so, so cold.

"It's only going to get colder," Rob warned as he eyed me shivering in my pullover and knee-high socks.

But I refuse to believe it. I refuse to remember last winter—real winter—when I wore fingerless gloves (for typing!) and knit hats and heavy boots indoors and slept with a heating pad (which you're really not supposed to do, just in case things get too hot and you burn your house down).

I think the Pacific Northwest must have a special kind of cold. I was never this chilly in New England, except maybe when there was a little minus sign in front of the temperature. But, as Rob likes to remind me, I was also 40 lbs heavier then, and fat is nothing if not a great insulator.

I'm freezing, therefore, it's winter. It's really that simple, as far as I'm concerned.

"I hate to break it to you," Rob says, ever-logical, ever-scientific, "this is what fall feels like."

But I maintain that the seasons here go Spring, Summer, Winter, (no, seriously, now it's really) Winter. And no amount of jack-o-lantern carving or pumpkin spice latte-drinking will convince me otherwise.

Fall

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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

"Pink is a Girl"

Snail's Pace Race - B&W

"The pink snail is a girl, Mommy."

"Oh?" [Interested, not judging.] "How can you tell?"

Snail's Pace Race

"What?" [He didn't quite understand my question.]

"How do you know it's a girl? How can you tell?"

"Because she's pink."

Snail's Pace Race

"Oh. A boy can't be pink?"

[Thinks hard for a moment.] "No. Orange and Blue and Green and Yellow and Red are boys. But Pink is a girl."

Snail's Pace Race

Oh boy.
Snail's Pace Race

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Monday, October 3, 2011

The Kid's Speech

Mezzanine

Little by little, Westley's idiosyncratic language, his baby speech, is disappearing. It's probably most noticeable in his pronunciation of his own name. Almost exactly two years ago, on October 27, 2009 I wrote (but never published) the following:

W.

Westley has decided to go by "West." That's what he's been calling himself for several months now. I find this completely awesome, partly because I'm fascinated by names and nicknames and whether or not a name is "nicknameable." But more importantly, it's given me a new appreciation for toddler-speak.

What he what he actually says is "Est," because he can't make the W sound very well—unless he's substituting it for an R somewhere in the middle of a word: if you're getting a "dwink" at night, the refrigerator light seems very "bwight."

Shortly after I wrote this, he switched to calling himself "Wessy." He'd sit at the top of the slide and gleefully announce, "Here Wessy comes!" before pushing off. These days, he takes care to say "Westley," paying special attention to the first syllable, stopping firmly on the T.

Mezzanine - Profile

Before Westley's second birthday, I often felt like I was chatting with an adorable little Elmer Fudd impersonator. (It didn't hurt, of course, that Westley was short, round, and practically bald at the time.) Now, I often think I'm conversing with a tiny philosopher. It's not just his annunciation and grammar that's grown up, it's his thought-processes and the way he uses language to express them.

Recently I was explaining to him that driving our car less often is one of the ways we can take care of our Earth. We talked about plants and certain kinds of trash breaking down, being biodegradable.

"And animals?" he asked.

"Yes, animals are biodegradable. When animals die their bodies break down and help feed the soil."

"That's good for the Earth," he stated. Then, after a moment, he asked, "Is singing good for our Earth?"

"Singing?"

"Yeah, is singing good for the Earth?"

He wasn't making a joke, so I didn't laugh, but I totally wanted to. I mean, come on! I said, "Well...singing can make people feel happy, and happy people are more likely to do good things in the world, so...yes, buddy, I guess you could say singing is good for the Earth."

"Good."

Mezzanine

Westley surprises me every day with a new word or phrase to express what's on his mind. Time after time I find myself wondering, Where did you learn that? Last week he asked me, "Mommy, what do you have against Barney?"

"I find him unaesthetic," I said. And then we talked about what unaesthetic means.

While I love listening to Westley's voice grow up, and I delight in teaching him new, age-inappropriate polysyllabic words, I'm also mourning the loss of his baby speech just a bit.

For a long time, the letter L gave him trouble. Lady was "wadey" and girl became "girr." His own name came out "Westwey," which I found irresistible. Now, he'll just say the L perfectly the first time—"Please?"—or he'll correct himself. He'll start to say someone was "sweeping," and then stop, take half a breath, and enunciate with the utmost care: "s-l-eeping." This editing-on-the-fly melts my heart every time. It's one thing to get older and just—oh, hey, whadda y'know?!—start saying words correctly. But it's another thing altogether for Westley to acknowledge the shift by setting himself straight.

It makes me want to throw a party while simultaneously screaming, "No! Not so fast! Stay little!"

Mezzanine

(Or maybe even wittle.)

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