Sunday, May 16, 2010

Mama Bean posts two weeks of links on Sunday (good grief) - May, 16, 2010

I know, I know, where have I beeeeeeEEEeeen? If I told you, I'd have to kill you. Well, not really. I'm just busy working on several impossibilities right now, namely: 1) adding hours to the day, and 2) cultivating a money tree in my backyard. I trust you understand. However, these endeavors will be fruitless. Unfortunately, this will not necessarily free me up to blog more, as the failure to lengthen my days is a key issue. Perhaps the solution lies in efficiency? But I'm a mama; efficiency fell by the wayside sometime during the end of the 2nd trimester of pregnancy...never to return again?

- Do you remember learning how to swaddle a baby? What's that, you've never done it? Well, this is how it's done, in 47 easy steps! And while this particular post may seem like an exaggeration to the uninitiated, I assure you, it's not.

- I love Zooey Deschanel, I love her music with She & Him, I love her dancing in this video for In the Sun. It makes me think of Feist a little bit. Happy + Love. Please enjoy and smile.

- This is a cute little chart of what various intoxicants will make you do in various situations, such as being at a party, or being near the phone. For example, with alcohol, in the bathroom you will puke. Or, with PCP, near the cops you will attack them with a dead bird. I mean, this is stuff everyone knows, right? But it's handy to have it in a little chart like this!

- Sunday's coming! The ultimate parody of your average mainstream large church service. It's funny because it's TRUE.

- These folks loved Sunday so much, they turned an old church into their home. I think it's a very beautiful re-purposing, but some commenters feared intimacy might be a little awkward, with so many stained-glass saints watching. And Pastor Jim prefers churches to stay as churches.

- This is how science works. Really. Magnets really are metal with pieces of gravity in them! Duh. Unfortunately, it's a tumblr site that doesn't update by RSS. Check back regularly for updates. The funniest updates of your life.

- What if they made action figures of the Bronte sisters? It would be awesome, that's what.

- I read an insane amount of celebrity gossip. It's silly, like, I'm sure some of my time shortage could easily be resolved by curing myself of this addiction. Oh well...I mostly read Oh Know They Didn't (the neverending pit of gossip, there is no way to read it all, just let it wash over you in all its trashy glory) and Evil Beet now, but Pink is the New Blog really introduced me to the online world of gossip. However, Trent evolved, I didn't grow with him, and stopped reading. But this is a cool post about a song Kelly Clarkson wrote in response to the whole Ryan-Tedder-wrote-the-same-song-for-both-Kelly-and-Beyonce debacle (cf. Kelly's Already Gone v. B's Halo. I like both songs, and I like them for that catchy little four chord hook Ryan gave to both of them...)

- How to mow your lawn without mowing your lawn. It really is the best idea ever.

- A little NYT infographic on the privacy rabbit-hole that is facebook. There's a repeating cycle of privacy hysteria that circulates on the web - facebook's not safe, twitter's not safe, blogs aren't safe, the internet is full of creeps, throwyourmodemAWAY OMG!!1! Of course, this is not the solution. As Neil points out, a new concern is the potential for lock-in. If this is how the world communicates, this is how we must communicate if we want to be in the world. But how to be safe? How to teach my children to be safe? It's daunting, as the graphic demonstrates.

- Cleopas and his friend did not "see" Jesus, on the road to Emmaus, until they were ready to see him. Here's some interesting commentary on the purpose of the delay in opening their eyes. I found it uplifting, the last paragraph in particular.

- The National Doodle Day raises money to help neurofibromatosis research by selling doodles during NF Awareness Month. This doodle is by Gillian Anderson's (Agent Scully, drool) daughter Piper. Apparently, she's old enough to be in art school now. Which makes me feel old enough to be like a grandmother or something. Check out the other doodles in the series, too.

- Who knew South Koreans take football so seriously? It's mind-boggling, the coordination required to make this work. Makes the Wave at hockey games seem so...juvenile :)

- Remember this video of new Photoshop's content aware feature? Well, here's an amusing little spoof of it. It's really well done, right down to the script and voicing.

- I have 205 links on fbook right now. The very first link I ever shared was a short film called The Tribe, narrated by Peter Coyote. It was freely available on youtube when I linked it, but is now only available privately. Here's the official website. I'm sad I can't access it anymore... The second link I shared was pictures of Michael Stipe and Thomas Dozol's apartment. The third link I shared was a poignant video allegory of The Instruction Manual of Life. Every time I watch this clip, I see something new. For example, the letters on the cabinet he builds around 4:19 spell out bullshit. Never noticed that before. The fourth link I shared was a cute short film about young love. And the fifth thing I shared is a spoof of Nickelback's Rock Star called Worship Star by Shekelback. If you know anything about Christian contemporary music, you'll find it as hysterical as I do. I posted that video a year ago. Cool.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Mama Bean had a wonderful first Mother's Day

I spent multiple minutes of my Mother's Day wondering where the apostrophe goes. Is it Happy singular Mother's Day? Or Happy all-the-mothers-in-the-world Mothers' Day?? I, personally, think it is more appropriate to say Happy Mothers' Day to all the moms every where in space and time, but apparently the powers that be (Hallmark?) have determined Happy Mother's Day is how it is. So... now I've spent multiple minutes of everyone else's time recounting the process. Excellent...

I mostly just want to talk about the absolute bestest part of my first Mother's Day, which was right at the beginning. It was the part of the day where my Fruity O's ended up all over my lap.

Papa Bean went early to church for band rehearsal. Normally we wake up at the same time and go in one car (to conserve gas? The church is, like, five minutes away *shrug*) but we went to bed really late, so I stayed in bed, although I didn't really get to sleep much later. I mean, I wake when Bean wakes, y'know?

So I'm cruising through the morning. I fed the Beanlet all relaxed and lazy-style in bed, so comfy and warm. Then we changed his diaper. (It's just better doing this after nursing. We used to change his diaper right out of the crib, but then he always pees during or shortly after eating breakfast, so now he gets his clean diaper afterwards.) Then I did my morning routine, got dressed in a new shirt from Old Navy, and poured myself a lovely, colourful bowl of Fruity O's. I had a whole ten minutes to eat breakfast before loading up the Bean bucket and leaving in time to arrive early at church.

But Beany Burrito Bum was cranky pants and didn't want to sit in the Command Centre while I ate. So I thought I could eat with him on my lap. Fatal error, friends. 3, 2, 1 cereal in my lap. All over the new shirt, all over my jeans, all over the Bean sleeper, and the floor. No more cute new outfit debut, no more ten minutes to eat breakfast, no more early to church. Happy Mother's Day! *woo hoooooooo...*

As K says, "Those mother's days where the kids make you pancakes apparently take a while to show up."

The question became, how to orchestrate clean up. I mean, who or what do I address first? Get myself dry while Bean cries? Get Bean dry while my jeans slowly adhere themselves to my thighs? Wipe up the desk and floor before the sticky sugar-cereal uber-milk spreads itself into the nooks and crannies of my laptop? (This is an exaggeration, thank goodness the milk came nowhere near my computer.) Is there any efficient way to get it all done and still make it to church, albeit late?

The sticky clothes had to go first, so imagine (or not) me performing the rest of the clean up essentially in my underwear. I rediapered Bean-butt, and even put him in a cute onesie and overalls outfit in the hopes that late church was still in the cards. But he whined and fussed and cantankered through the whole process, so I just put him back to bed. And yes, cranky pants went back to sleep...eventually.

Then I started laundry, wiped down the desk, gathered the fallen Fruity O's, moved my computer mat outside to dry, took a shower, and redressed myself. I'm not looking for snaps or pats on the back for this - it's what anyone would do, right? But here is what I thought as I did it (and they are essentially the same realization):

1) I'm a better parent when I have Papa Bean around to lean on. Tag team. Coordinate. Share the load.

2) I. don't. know. how single parents do this.

So the start of my Mother's Day basically made me realize how much I appreciate and love my husband. Which was a pretty good start to the day actually. It makes me happy to celebrate our partnership and be grateful for him. For one thing, I wouldn't be a mother without him. And I wouldn't be the mother I am without his support. So, yeah, it was a good first Mother's Day. I'm sure that's what Bean had in mind all along, right? Right? Little stinker...

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Mama Bean is a baby-related liquid manager - Volume 1: Starting fluids

I call myself The Fluid Wrangler. I see myself as a giant walking sponge, dispensing, diverting, disposing of various bodily liquids at every turn. It's practically All I Do. I thought I could just write a little post about it all, but I have now determined it will take weeks to describe it all. What a grand adventure! I know, we're all pumped...

The very creation of a baby starts with fluids. I was going to call this Volume 1: Sex or Volume 1: Seminal Fluids (haha seminal...) but then I realized what sort of Google traffic that might bring and thought better of it. But seriously, when I became awash in baby fluids during those Delirious Early Days, and pondered my new Wrangler status, I did have to laugh when I realized we'd been "wrangling" baby-related fluids from the get go.

Despite understanding the concept of semen since Grade 4 sex ed, it was still surprising in a fairly disturbing way to discover sex is messy. Like, there's fluids involved. Sticky, mucus-y, impossible-to-clean-in-any-sort-of-easy-way fluids. (Ack! Why am I writing this? My brother reads this blog. Gah! But but but I just feel like any complete list of mommy-relevant fluid management responsibilities must begin with this important, y'know, Beginning.) This state of affairs has created this tiny, pragmatic voice at the back of my head whenever together time is considered, particularly as it pertains to venue. Throwback-to-our-reckless-youth In-the-car-style Passion? Tiny voice questions if we'll be able to get that out of the seats. Run-of-the-mill On-the-bed-style Lovings? Tiny voice wonders when the sheets are due for laundry. (I don't know.) Ever-so-steamy In-the-shower Intimacies? Tiny voice: "Perr-fect."

Frankly, the stickiness of sex is a strong argument for abstinence to me, but I am admittedly squiggy about this (see tiny pragmatic voice above...) I'm just saying maybe we should be honest about this with our youth and young ones. It's about the Birds and the Bees and the Clean Up. I remember this rhetoric growing up that you shouldn't have sex until you're emotionally ready, whatever that means. You were supposed to be ready to talk with your partner about your feelings and all that. But I say, you have to be ready to talk with your partner about wiping up semen. Ready to do so maturely, and with a substantial amount of good humour. If you can't do that, you are not ready.

In all seriousness, management of these particular fluids is an integral part of parenthood for all couples, most painfully for those struggling through infertility, which is a HUGE issue - something like 1 out of 8 couples, right? The costs of this Fluid Wrangling - emotional, financial, marital - are enormous. Which underscores the enormous silver lining of the whole sticky mess, that is, that out of that mess come babies.

And out of those babies come, well... that's for next week ;)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Mama Bean blames That Smell on Bean. Not beans. The baby...

Bean farts quite a bit, so most of the time, That Smell really is his fault. But you know, adults fart, too. Less audibly, perhaps, but more stink-ily. But it doesn't matter anymore, because whatever the smell, wherever we are, whoever may be around, that smell is now automatically blamed on the baby.

It's like a reflex. "What's that sm-" "It'sthebaby. Drop it. [whispering] Don't embarrass him..."

It's just easier this way.

Easier for our marriage. Easier for our friends and family. Easier. for. me.

I've often wanted to admit this on facebook - "Mama Bean just blamed a stinky fart on Bean, but it was really her. teehee" Except that's not anything people on facebook want to read. So I'm putting it here instead.

Of course, now that the truth is out, it won't be as convincing when I divert the blame. We'll have to get a dog or something (hint hint.) Well, and eventually we'll teach Bean to blame that smell on a sibling. A male sibling. It's just uncouth to blame it on a sister. My brothers never blamed farts on me. (Silly them...they were mine teehee. Again, nothing I would broadcast over facebook.)

Bean is neither physiologically able to control his farts, nor verbal enough to defend himself against my false accusations. Even when he is both sphincterly and verbally able to assert his autonomy, I will still blame That Smell on him. I can do that, I am The Mother.

Ultimately, Papa Bean will get old, and all farts and burps - gaseous emissions in general will be attributed to him. I don't remember a time in my childhood when my dad was not The Default Farter. In fact, I think this encouraged him to become less discreet about his emissions, because really, if you're going to get blamed for them anyway, you might as well fully claim the ones that are, indeed, yours. Papa Bean's a little prissy about his gases right now, but I trust age and repeated accusations will mellow him in this regard. He will accept his fatherly role as The Default Farter with grace and forbearance.

I have to consider these things in advance. It will not bode well if I have no one to blame That Smell on. Because, people, That Smell is always my fault.

Shhh...don't tell anyone. And if anyone was Bean.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Mama Bean has been poking around the blogging vaults

Elizabeth Esther is being open and honest and frank about her depression. Her post reminded me of something I wrote a few years ago when I was walking through a period of "deadpression." I'm re-posting it here as an invitation to join the conversation. Mental illness is a common reality, for both genders. The unique issues of being a woman and being a mother while living through an emotional disorder deserve discussion. (Holy unintentional alliteration...) Not all mothers have access to a positive, supporting community in their offline lives, which makes online access a real blessing. Please consider heading over to Elizabeth's blog and giving her some virtual-ized love. Here's my post from April, 2005:
I am tired of this, too, you know. I am more tired than I thought possible. I am tired of living this way. I am tired of sharing tiny parts, being factual, showing photographs, moments of sadness frozen in two-dimension. I cannot keep hoping this will serve as the appropriate invitation, taht you can choose to then enter, choose to then be involved, choose to come see my growing despair. It is not working, I have come to a place of nudity.

I am broken. The word "sad" does not even begin to describe. It is a disservice to the millions who suffer from it, let alone my own emotions, to call it sadness. Even depression cannot begin to capture. And I am so tired of it. I am so tired of trying to romanticize it, as though I enjoy this separated reality. Enjoy sitting on my couch, the mechanical buzz of fridge and dehumidifier, furnace and fish tank, so totally incongruent with the moving, bright, active world I can see outside. The wind blowing the tress, the cars scaling the hill, the people walking to school. The separation is constant; even when I walk out into that wind, scale that same hill to teach my class in a few minutes, there will still be the buzz of my mind, the incessant swirl of insecurities, the emptiness of my heart.

It's not that I can't function. It's not that I don't have As in all my classes, or eat the same food, or wear the same things. It is none of these things, and yet all of these things that are affected. I will smile and laugh through a day. I will experience conquest, success, achievement. But it is all edged with desperation, tinged with imperfection. You ask me, do you know what you are looking for? If I did, wouldn't there be some purpose to the pain, some direction to my days?

I am tired of waiting in this tower for rescue. There is no one coming. The crux of the problem, the rub, is that very exhaustion. I have no fight to want to get out of here. No energy to resist. No hope of resolution. I am simply tired."
And some further thoughts from a relapse in April, 2006:
I'm climbing my way out of a depressive episode. It was slightly sub-major, and it was an episode, and it has passed. One of the most depressing things about depression is the prognosis of the disorder. Once you have one episode, you'll more than likely have another, and once you're had two, you'll basically be having them for life. And while I may have only sought treatment for the episode a year ago, which was arguably the worst ever, I'm pretty sure it followed a long line stretching back to early adolescence. So I should have been more wary, more careful, more aware.

It is part of the sickness that the depressed state holds a certain seductive power. It is alluring, attractive. It is easy to remember how easy it is to feel bad. It is soft and comforting, this nostalgia for the quiet of living behind that emotional shield. Of retreating again, and holding the world at arm's length, the frosted pane of distorted perception protecting me. Isolation dulls the edges, quiets the noise of activity and people and conflicts and emotions and, yes, even the joy, in the most delicious silken way. I can taste depression, like dark chocolate, and after a bad day, or stretch of bad days, there is nothing I want more.

Mama Bean is not domesticated

My mother is very good at keeping house. When I was growing up, she did it all while working full-time. I don't know how. I inherited none of her talents, it seems.

Granted, I am a youngest child, only daughter after two much older brothers. I was/am a Spoiled Princess who didn't do chores. Take it up with my brothers, I'm sure they'd love to tell you aaaaaall about it. They were quite active domestically, splitting their efforts between outdoor chores (mowing, shoveling, raking) and indoor (vacuuming, dishes, bathrooms). Mom did everything else: cooking, laundry, gardening, washing/cleaning, floors, etc. And etc. Plus paying bills and balancing the books. Et. Cet. Era.

She must have kept track of it all in some sort of mental household calendar, because she just seemed to know innately when it was time to do such and such activity. It was all a mystery to me. For example, when I moved out, I had no idea how often I was supposed to wash my towels or sheets. (How often are you supposed to wash your towels and sheets?) (Yes, Aunt Leila, I've read your worksheets. Thank-you.)

My mom took the time to make hot breakfast for my brothers. Well, the oatmeal would be hot at 6 am when she cooked it before heading on her one hour public transit commute to work. Then it would sit in the pot and congeal until my brothers woke up to eat it. We like to joke about how traumatizing it was, oat-jelly molded to the pot, enough that the boys didn't like oatmeal well into adulthood. But, seriously, she could have left them to pour cereal and milk in a bowl, so, jokes aside, it was pretty awesome of her. (What about my breakfasts? Well, I woke up and ate with my dad, who would drive me to my sitter's house on his way to his work. Due to a peculiar obsession with my regularity, I had to eat oat bran. Every day. No sugar. This was truly traumatizing; I envied my brothers their oatmeal blobs. Moving on...)

I used to do my own laundry, sporadically, sometimes, if my mom didn't get frustrated with the mountain of clothes on my floor and did it for me first. As a consequence of my inconsistent performance, I used to wear a lot of stuff more than once (or twice or seven times or until it was crusty with dirt and sweat...) before washing it. Frankly, I'm amazed I had any friends. Clearly, I am not fit for domestic consumption.

But I want to be. I mean, I'm never going to be Martha Stewart, but I can be something reasonable, something Clean and Reasonable and Friendly. I can be something my children one day describe on their blogs as pretty good at keeping house, right?

This is why I took up baking. Baking feels very home-maker-y. I wear an apron. Doesn't that toooootally make sense? Yup. If I feed them enough cookies, they won't notice their sheets were only cleaned twice a year...

I will not succeed if I rely on a magical mental chore list. My brain doesn't work this way. I need a written out, detailed and precise Household Activity Roster. I need it to no longer be written in non-permanent marker on my mirror, and instead on hard copy paper, somewhere prominent and readily consulted for direction on What To Do Next. I need to be creating this paper version instead of blogging about it...

What chores do you do Each and Every Day? I've listed dishes, and an evening tidy up. And we don't even do this. We do dishes when they've covered all the available counter space. We tidy up when people other than the people who actually live in this house are coming to this house, imminently, in the next fifteen minutes, say. Otherwise, our only daily activities seem to be creating mess - making laundry, making dishes, making objects that at some later time will require restoration to a once again usable state.

My Activity Roster is divided into daily, weekly, and monthly tasks. I did not include essential duties like changing diapers, or feeding Bean and ourselves. These are things that must happen in the moment they must happen. I think of chores as things that must happen when I find an appropriate chunk of time to perform them. For example, a bowl of cereal gets spilled, it must be cleaned up right away. This is not a chore, it's just a necessity, and you drop other activities in order to complete it. But washing the kitchen floor, that's a chore. It doesn't have to happen right now (except it kind of does need to happen right now, because it's dusty and sticky...) but it does have to happen Eventually and with Regularity.

Anyway, this is not ground breaking stuff to anyone but me, because I am domestically inept. But I'm working on it, so I feel the need to write it down :P Maybe in a month, I'll evaluate how well the experiment is going. Or, maybe I'll just go make some more cookies...

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Mama Bean plays well with others

Elizabeth Esther hosts this blogging party called the Saturday Evening Blog Post. Other bloggers are invited to share their favourite post from the past month (or two). Please feel free to head to her site and join the fun! I linked to this post about the Trials and Tribulations of finding appropriate nursing apparel.