Friday, February 26, 2010

The Crazy

This has nothing to do with my post, but I love this blurry picture. It doesn't take much imagination to know how spazzy I was in real life during our dance party. See how my awesome moves have captivated the children's interest.

So last night, one of my FB friends posted this NYT article about toxins in personal care products, and after reading it I freaked the hell out. I am not a low maintenance person. Do you know how many products I use everyday? 26. I know because I counted them.

When Harry was little, Ben and I had a fight about the pricey skincare products I wanted to use on him, and I banished Baby Magic and Johnson's from our sight. But I was reluctant to replace all my own stuff, mainly because I am a grown up and do not usually eat my beauty products. But after I read the Times, I clicked through a few more blogs and pretty much fell apart.

Ben was really nice and supportive and encouraged me to take advantage of my afternoon babysitter and all the dirty hippies who buy dirty hippie beauty products in our town and go shopping today to replace anything that freaked me out. (He was also really supportive a few weeks ago hen I was smelling really faint cigarette smoke all the time and was sure my olfactory hallucinations meant certain brain cancer because that's what Dr. Google told me. Actual diagnosis? The people in the townhouse next to use, with whom we share a wall, are smokers. He was also really nice about my sudden interest in breast health and my weird need to google strange diseases. I think I should go see my nice therapist man because I am very anxious these days. Also, maybe I should drink less coffee.)

I found this awesome database that lets you search products by name and brand and rates products on a toxicity scale of 0-10. If your product is not listed, you can type in all the ingredients and get a toxicity rating. I decided that I need everything to be 4 or lower on the scale to calm my fears (except my moisturizer, night cream, and eye cream, which are all 4-6. I think I am going to replace them with Kinerase products or maybe L'Occitane or Aubrey Organics when they are all gone. But I only use a teeny bit of them at a time, so I am going to finish the jars. This could be the tightwad in me taking.), So I searched all of the categories of products I normally use on the database and compiled a list to take to the hippie pharmacy, determined to find only moderately risky products.

Here's the kids' stuff, California Baby wash (1), which we have used before and love, Vaseline, which is the only moisturizer our pediatrician recommends, Badger Balm, which is great for really dry skin or an irritation in the diaper area and also works well for my poor dry hands (both of these get a 0 on the toxicity scale), and Rainbow bubble bath, which was kind of a bad buy. It has a lot of chemical ingredients, actually, even though it claims it is organic. It also gets a 4 on the scale, and I could have ought the 0-rated California Baby bubble bath for only $3 more. I was charmed and fooled, though, by Rainbow's simple, retro label, the kind of label that says Instead of slick labels we spend all our money on the very best ingredients. Not so.

Ben refused to part with his $1.19 Suave hairspray, which he dearly loves. He did say he would try Tom's aluminum-free deodorant (4), and I got him some Aubrey Organic shave cream (2) and aftershave (1)

For both of us, I went with the Burt's Bees line for shampoo (2), conditioner (2) and body wash (3 or 4, depending on flavor). I actually am not as worried about these products because we wash them off each time-- they're not meant to be absorbed into the skin.

And for me. So much crap. An exfoliator, a face wash, Jojoba oil to remove make up (0), Tom's lavender deodorant( 2-- and yeah, I think I might sweat too much for this stuff b/c it is not an antiperspirant, but I cannot rub aluminum all over my lymph nodes one more time without having a freaking anxiety-induced coronary), a couple different flavors of Alaffia lotion (1-- and my old lotion was a freaking 8, so this is a huge improvement and, I think, the most important product to change besides antiperspirant b/c it covers so much surface area and is meant to be absorbed), Cover Girl Smoothers concealer (2, also cheap), L'Oreal Voluminous mascara (3, also $8-- a huge improvement over my old mascara, which had mercury and tar in it and cost $30), and some assorted Burt's Bees lip shimmers (3).

I actually got hosed when I bought these 3 products in the brown bottles-- the same place where I got the kind of sketchy bubble bath. The exfoliator is way less toxic that the Oil of Olay scrub I have been using, and the face wash is better for me than my Lancome tube of poison. The lotion, though? 4 really terrible ingredients, but no paraben and no sodium lauryl sulfate (which is what the sing next to the display screamed. It also screamed ORGANIC! And I am a sucker for marketing, so I bought it.) Since it was 3 for $20, I am not too concerned about taking it back, especially since I lost my receipt. I just wanted to point out how sneaky cosmetic marketing can be, even if you are armed with a list that had 7 hours of anxious internet research behind it.

Ultimately, I did not replace powder, blush, eyeshadow, or eyeliner. Those products stay on top of the skin for the most part. They also only cover a teeny tiny percentage of my skin. Also, the women buying hippie makeup at the local pharmacy where I bought most of my products did not look like they, um, have the same taste in makeup as I do. I am going to hit up Sephora and the Origins counter soon and see what's up (NARS Orgasm is supposed to be good, as is Origins pressed powder). I also opted not to replace my hairspray because it is the only product I use on my hair, and a bottle lasts at least 12 weeks, so I feel like I am not getting a lot of chemical exposure there. And my nail polish has been phthalate-free since I was pregnant with H.

Oh my god, I hope that didn't sound completely crazy. It was very cathartic to write it all out. Phewwwww.

Okay, thanks for your advice yesterday. We're all bout the potty training. He peed on the toilet all day (but was wet when he woke up from nap, although he did also pee right after nap).

He also chose his own underwear at Target today.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Potty Training?

Yeah, that's Jack on the potty. No, I am not trying to potty-train my 22 month-old. But dude. He wants to be potty trained. This morning, he went into the bathroom, threw the Diego potty seat on the big person toilet, took off his pants, ripped off his diaper, and asked for help climbing up.

Last week at Little Gym, he grabbed his crotch and threw himself against the bathroom door, so I took him in and helped him onto the potty. He peed. Then we went back out to the gym, and he did it again. We went back to the bathroom, and he peed again. 15 minutes later, he claimed he need to poop by screaming "POOOO! POOOOOO! POOOOOO!" and stuffing his hands down the back of his pants (nice), so we went back to the potty and he tried so hard. It cracked me up-- he had veins bulging out in his temples he tried so hard. No dice, but he did crap himself as soon as we got home and he ran to his favorite spot behind the kitchen curtains (again, nice), so I think he knows when he has to go.

The thing is, I like diapers way better for a kid his age. Public toilets are NASTY, and I am either going to have to hold Jack up in the air, so that he can pee without the edge of his penis (really? the edge? do penises have edges?) touching the rim of the toilet, or I am going to have to help him sit on the toilet, which means I will be squatting on a dirty bathroom floor and my coats and my scarves and possibly the knees of my pants will touch that bathroom floor, and then I will have to wash my clothes and take a Silkwood shower like 6 times a day. And I have really dry skin already.

But the kid. He wants to use the toilet, and I feel bad stifling that impulse. (Actually? I think he's doing it for the Diego pull-ups and the Batman underwear. He's such a joiner.)

Also, he's my baby, and if he can toilet himself, then I might have to admit that he is growing into a real boy.

He slept with us last night from 3:53 until my 5:18 alarm (at which time he and Ben continued to sleep, the assholes) because he had a bad dream. When I got him from his crib (which? Bullshit. It was clearly Ben's turn, but he refused, saying that since Jack was clearly saying "Mama! My Mama!" I should go in there so as not to disappoint), I asked if he was sick, and he said no. I asked if he was cold, and he said no. I asked what was wrong, and he stuck out his arms like he did around halloween when he'd do his monster impression, so I asked if it was a bad dream, and he said "Yessssh."

He sucks as a sleeping partner, but he is snuggly in a thrashy, screamy, head-butty kind of way. And he had really bad breath.

Harry found this blazer in the back of his closet and has been wearing it nonstop with jeans and ironic T-shirts-- JUST LIKE BEN, who almost always wears a jacket, a StudyBlue or an attitude T, and jeans. Harry has even insisted upon donning his target loafers, which look like Ben's Keens. Harry calls his $11.99 Cherokee shoes his "fancy shoes," which actually pisses me off because his normal everyday shoes are Uggs. But anyway, here he is modeling yesterday's ensemble (the jacket is a 3T, but really, it just looks trendy and shrunken, right? No. But I can't convince him it is too small. It's become his wearable lovey). His school friend Patrick called Harry's Batman shirt "old school" which cracked me up.

Jack has been doing this most mornings for about a year, and it's kind of annoying. Actually, it's really annoying, depending on how much coffee I have had. I'd like to graph the coffee/annoyance relationship, actually, because it's not straightforward. I mean, yes, no coffee, and I am annoyed. One or two cups, and I am not so annoyed. More than 2 cups and the coffee-jitters kick in, and I am IRRATIONALLY ANNOYED.

Harry totally lost his shit when I picked him up from school and his teacher said he couldn't take his Spanish paper doll home because they needed to use them in Spanish class next week. Then she felt bad because he was so upset, so she told him he could take it. Then, at his cubbyhole, he freaked out again because he was worried that if he took the doll home, it would get ruined (which? it totally would-- no question), so he left it at school (tearfully) after making me promise to make him a new one at home. Which I did. Badly.

Jack's hiding behind the crayon bag, in case you couldn't see him.

He needed a deformed paper doll to, until he had one. Then it became the most boring thing in the world.

Baking cookies because that's what we do when Jack naps.

This is also what we do-- eat bowls of snacks on the couch and try not sleep watching Scooby Do. Scooby Do, by the way, is the funnest show to watch with harry because he can never figure out who the bad guy is. Yesterday, I said, "Who do you think is in the sea monster costume?" and he looked at me like I was the stupidest person in the world. "Mama," he said slowly and patiently. "That's a monster. It's not a costume." At the end of the show, he turned to me, amazed. "It was Mrs. Baker! Not a monster at all!" He goes trough this process of scorn and discovery every single time. Love it!

I asked Jack to show me his teeth, thinking, you know, that he might smile.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Some old iPhone pics. Now that's a thrilling title. Bet you couldn't click over here fast enough.

The other day, I tried to get my hair back to its natural color and ended up with some seriously dark hair. In person, it is more Elvira-y than in this pic, and I jump a little every time I pass a mirror. Forget advice to my undergraduate self, I'd like to tell myself from last May to ignore the silvers on my part line and put the hair dye back on the shelf because I was heading down a long and expensive road. After a home color job, professional cherry red streaks, professional all-over caramel, and 3 more box jobs, I have totally forgotten my natural shade. I have also colored my hair 6 times in the las 8 months. Yikes.

Jack on Groundhog Day. His class made hats. Hahahahahaha.

We made a big deal out of some toe lint Jack had a week or so ago. He wore a new pair of socks, and when he took them off for bath, these huge balls of fluff came out from between his toes and floated in the water. Harry and Jack both thought the excessive toe lint was hilarious, and now every night, Jack rips his socks off before bath and digs between his toes for more fuzzies. The other night, he found no lint on his feet, but he did see some on the floor and went to work jamming it between his toes.

Sharing his milk

the famous silly face

inspecting his toes at the breakfast table

If you couldn't tell from the picture overload, I am pretty much obsessed with Jack lately. He has reach a pinnacle of adorableness. The way he says yes (yesssssh), his deliberate and very loud kisses, his obsession with wearing underwear outside his clothes. I find all of it scrumptious. Add in his fat feet and chubby face and sweet smells, and I want another toddler in my life RIGHT NOW. What's the deal? Why am I addicted to babies? Is it some instinctual survival of the species thing that makes babies so irresistible?

Ben and I go back and forth on baby #3. Some days we are ready to make it happen and know exactly when we'd like to start trying. Other days, our kids are a little, uh, challenging, and we decide that another baby would be chaos. Lately, we've been so in love with Harry and Jack that we don't want to change anything about our little life. But how do you know that you're done having babies?

A college reunion

How old is too old to get drunk and call your dad for a ride home? Because Ben and I may have done that on Saturday. Have been doing that, periodically, for the last 12 or 13 years, actually, ever since our Bradley days in the late 1990s. (When we were younger, we used to make him take us through the Steak n Shake drive thru on our way home. Or we'd stop at the riverboat casino. One time, he stopped at the East Peoria WalMart just to screw with us, and drunk Ben spray painted a bunch of stuff in the spray paint aisle. Last weekend we just went home and passed out. Because we are old and have lost our mojo).

We were in Peoria for a reunion this weekend. It's been 10 years since I graduated from college, but the reunion wasn't an official function. We were at Bradley for Alumni Work Weekend, sponsored by the Bradley University Speech Team. I think I have mentioned before that Ben and I met at speech camp at Bradley when we were in high school, right? We were also on the speech team together all through college. Speech was our life-- I only applied to one school for undergrad, and I didn't even care about my major. I just wanted to do speech on the national championship Bradley team.

It is true that I drank away a lot of my college memories (a visiting job candidate recently told a story about me that I have absolutely no memory of, but it sounds like something I might have done), but what I do remember is having a ton of fun with my old speech friends, most of whom also came back to Peoria.

I only took 2 pictures of our banquet:
This one of director of forensics Dan welcoming everyone to the bar cum stage (because what's a speech event without speeches? a band camp reunion).

And this one of the obscene amount of shots that Gina bought everyone because she's pregnant and decided to drink vicariously.

I did take a few pictures of the actual coaching day. But only of my kids. Because I am a mom now, and that's how I roll. I was also rolling with visible panty lines, sadly, so I had to destroy most photos of myself (and untag them on FB). Getting old and frumpy is a bummer. I'd actually like to go back 12 or 13 years and tell my college self that. Sophomore year, around the time I got fat on Taco Bell and Mountain Dew. I'd like to say, "Dude. Seriously. Stop going to the tanning bed. Quit screwing with your metabolism BECAUSE IT WILL ONLY GET SLOWER, and really, you must chill. You don't have shit to do but go to class, spend your parents' money, and give speeches on the weekend. NOTHING YOU DO IS HARD. so stop bitching. Also? Sleep more because someday you will have children and will suffer from sleep deprivation the likes of which you cannot imagine. Oh! One more thing? Nude pantyhose and sparkly pink eyeshadow and hair scrunched with gel? Really?"

Harry and Jack also spent a lot of time with my parents and my brother. Because not only do Ben and I get so wasted we need a DD in Peoria, we also take advantage of all the babysitting we can find. My parents literally walked in the door from vacation in Mexico and wham! We threw our kids at them and sped out the door without a second look before the music on their iPhoto slide show had even ended. Thanks guys! Love ya!
Harry was super in to this Spiderman video game

Harry and Jack used Ben as a couch and a table on which to enjoy their donuts

Jack modeled my mom's sun hat

Jack is giving my dad the side-eye in tis picture. My dad freaks Jack the hell out, which is really really funny (to me. not so much to Jack. or to my dad whose feelings are kind of hurt)

I'd also like to tell myself of 10-14 years ago that leggings are not pants. What about you? Any advice for your undergrad self?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Really, we never should have gone to the mall playground

That should go without saying. But dude. You guys. We were so farking bored by 3:30.

Yep. He's wearing underpants on his head. Watcha going to do about it?

Still wearing them. Told ya we were bored.

The mall playground, though? NOT A GOOD IDEA. There were tons of big kids there-- kids way bigger than the height limit that is clearly posted outside the germ-infested playground area. Which? My bad for not getting there until 4-- Jack couldn't wake his lazy little self up from nap before then. My heart stopped for a moment when I couldn't find Harry, but I discovered him behind this truck/slide thing and pulled him away back to the big plastic flower (WTF??) that Jack and I were playing on. I was like, "Harry, why didn't you answer me?" and he was all, "Sorry. I was watching that little girl throw up." I did a double take and then slipped behind the truck to check it out-- yep. Puke.

We left.

And told a mall security officer about the --er-- spill. He seemed waaaaaay bummed. Probably because he had to clean it up.

But seriously, it was cold and yucky out today, and I am so sick of getting everybody all bundled up and then playing outside for like 4 minutes before someone craps himself or someone else has to pee. Before we decided to put our swine flu vaccines to the test at the mall, we exhausted our favorite activities.

Play Doh for a long time.

Harry took a call on the gross brown squishy phone

Jack put his sock in his spaghetti maker

Harry played Star Wars Legos

and Operation

I asked his teachers how I could help him learn to write, and they said not to push writing per se but to instead focus on his fine motor skills. Hence the Legos and the Operation. We are thinking the Easter Bunny will bring him a Lite Brite, but can you guys think of other fine motor games/activites we could try?

Ooh! I also made my favorite Asian chicken salad for dinner, and it was so pretty I took some pictures, and in the vein of Misty and Virginia, I'll show you how I make it.

Okay, first, blanch some snow peas and throw them in a bowl

Next wash and assemble the other veggies: pepper, cucumber (which I usually don't peel, but this is a-- gasp-- non-organic cucumber because the organic ones were $3.69 each and MUSHY, which was the real deal-breaker, so I peeled my poison one, hoping that the pesticides went down my kitchen drain), green onions, clementines, a few carrots to shred on top, and tomatoes.

And lettuce. I like red leaf.

Oh yeah. The chicken. These are some flavored breasts from the butcher-- parmesan, I think-- the flavor doesn't matter to me, just something subtle. This chicken is not organic, but it is local. I baked them in a covered dish for an hour and twenty-ish on 375

Isn't it pretty when it's all done?

I put a few dried chow mein noodles and some almond slivers on mine. We like TJ's spicy peanut dressing, too. To keep it low cal, though, we use these things in moderation, and we never dress the whole salad; we just add our dressing at the table, and I measure mine because I hate diet dressings, so I just use a teeny bit of the real thing.

I have no conclusion for this rambling. I'd like to tie it all together, but I am about to enjoy a Tanqueray and tonic and the rest of NBC's awful Olympic coverage. Oh-- the fine motor skills? Any suggestions for fun activities to strengthen them?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

My children. They are trying to kill me.

This is Jack, who rolled out of bed at 4 a.m. ready to party.

Okay, maybe that's not entirely accurate. He screamed from his crib at 4 a.m., so I ran out of bed (like a bear runs, a bear who cusses a lot) and snatched him before he woke up Harry. Only I was too late, and Harry popped up from the mound of blankets in his fire truck (where he now sleeps with a huge brown teddy bear he named Noah) and said, "I'm not tired."

"Yes you are," I growled, and he laid back down.

Jack, though, came back to our bed. He is not a good cosleeper. Not at all. Every time I drifted back to sleep, he cracked me in the head with his head, or rolled feet first over the side of the bed, or broke into hysterical cries for DADA! He eventually crawled across my face to Ben's side of the bed and snuggled up with him and snored. Ben and I finally closed our eyes and fell asleep only to be awakened by my alarm four minutes later.

I was really annoyed from the second I brought Jack in. Yesterday morning, Harry sprang out of bed at 5 a.m. and woke everybody the hell up and cried like a crazy man when we made him go back in his bed, which made Jack shriek in his crib, and Ben and I laid resolutely under the covers pretending to be immune to the noise until 6 to prove a point which is a really stupid thing to when the people you want to show up are 22 months and 3.5 years. So this morning, I practiced my deep breathing techniques.

(The ones I learned from the nice therapist I saw when I lost my shit after Jack was born, and it seemed like a good time to dust off these techniques because I could feel my shit slipping away again as I laid there awake at such an unholy hour. This worked okay until Ben wagged his finger at me while we were both crammed in the bathroom getting ready shoulder to shoulder because Jack was still snoring it up in our bed and said I shouldn't get so tense about sleep. I screamed at him that of course I know that already or I wouldn't have been doing relaxation breathing! He looked at my sweaty red face with an eyebrow cocked as if to say "yeah, that's working out real good for you, huh?")

I tried to remind myself that this extra ninety minutes of cuddle time with my thrashing, screamy toddler who did not want any covers on himself and did not seem to want us to use blankets either even though the bed is right next to a wide open window (cracked open, really-- we like a cold bedroom, what can I say? Also we are very wasteful.) was a special treat-- the gift of time to enjoy my fragrant baby, who gets bigger every day. I inhaled his sweet hair and kissed his fat fingers when they slapped my face again and again and again with surprising force. I counted five breaths in, held my breath for a count of four, and blew out six breaths. I did this 100 times, until I could feel myself relaxing, but it was hard to unclench my jaw and believe the bill of goods I tried to sell myself.

I know that I will spend very little of my life as the mother of a small child. These stubby toes and curved cheeks and tiny, urine scented bodies will not always be pressed against me in the dark. I have year and years to sleep late and sleep soundly all night long. But shit, I'm tired.

Who's not tired? Mr. Freaking Bright Eyes at 5:45. Although maybe he is because he seems to have some under eye shadows. Which could be fixed with MORE SLEEP. Also, Benefit Eye Bright is not too bad.

Woo-hoo! Diaper change!

Corrine wrote a lovely post about looking back on awful days and seeing that they were actually beautiful. With her words in mind, I took some pictures of Harry and Jack playing yesterday morning because they looked cute in their winter sweaters that we're trying to wear as much as possible before spring sneaks up on us and renders their wardrobes unwearable.

Jack needed a break mid-change to read a few books. Look at his long baby legs.

I love Harry's blurry hand-- he's never quite holding still.

I wish could describe the noise that comes out of this thing.

I am giving a talk at the law school next week, and I need to work on it, or else I am just going to walk up to the front of the room and stand silently for 45 minutes, which would be some nifty performance art, but wouldn't say a lot about race and reproductive rights in the 20th century. I am a little nervous because the subject of the talk (not chosen by me--that's what the group asked me to speak about) corresponds to the chapter of my dissertation that my committee liked the least. Also? They want to know about history, and I am going to tell them about rhetoric, a distinction I often had trouble maintaining in my text.

In addition to the Planned Parenthood documents I use in my diss, I am also going to talk about some letters Margaret Sanger received from desperate women in the December 1917 Birth Control Review because they are so heart rending. Like this one:

"I'm a poor married woman in great trouble and I'm writing to you for help. I was married in June 1915, and I have two children little boy 21 mon. & a girl 4 mon. and I will be only 17 years old this month and Im nearly crazy for when my husband finds out that Im going to have another baby he will beat the life out of me."

The point I want to make is that when you are talking about birth control, the notion of "control" is never cut and dried. While it is true that racist, classist, and eugenicist ideology permeated the national birth control movement since its inception, it is also true that women of all races WANTED to know how to control their fertility. I feel like because we are so used to the modern reproductive rights movement (which is just a nice name for the abortion debate), we don't always think about how we got here and the kinds of rhetorical parallels that exist between birth control at the turn of the last century and reproductive rights today. Desire for access is still, I think, a unifying theme. Feminists in the 1920s were also saying the same kinds of things about women's roles and the role of the economy in shaping reproductive choices that anti feminists (or at least really conservative feminists) say today, which is another similarity I want to highlight. My students this semester think Margaret Sanger was the (racist, classist) devil, and I want to offer a more nuanced reading of her activism, too. There were important ways in which eugenics helped credential women as mothers (although the ideology could never be feminist because women were, at the end of the day, just around for breeding) and Sanger's partnering with eugenic interests was about more than racism and shrewd politics (but it was about those things as well, of course).

Cool. I'm going to get to work while my coffee buzz lingers.