Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Girl's Mama

Before Gianna was born, we had no idea if she would be a girl or a boy. We decided long ago that we wouldn't want to know the gender of our babies beforehand- there are so few surprises in life anymore.

This perplexed almost everyone around us. A coworker at the cult took it very personally, almost as if my choices were a judgement on hers: "I always found out the gender. I had to, I couldn't not find out." Hard glare. It's truly a strange society where people take the decisions and choices of others (particularly the ones that don't remotely affect them in any way) as a pointed judgement of their own.

We didn't want to live in a prenatal world of pink or blue. The sea of greens and yellows were quite consuming on their own. And then she was born- a little girl. The congratulations cards arrived in a wave of frothy pink.

Don't get me wrong- pink is wonderful, and my little girl looks very cute in pink. We don't even really worry too much about pigeonholing her into a specific gender role; as a little girl I was just as happy with my baby dolls as I was searching for crayfish, knee-deep in a creek bed. I'm fairly certain that she will continue to dig in the dirt for rocks and drive her cars all over my kitchen floor whether I dress her in pink or yellow or, in warmer weather, practically nothing at all.

I do wonder about myself, however. How am I parenting as a mother of a daughter? Am I the same person now as I would have been had Gianna been a boy? I'm certainly not the same person I was before I became pregnant, or had a child. My hair is a lot crazier, I have an eye twitch that won't go away, an ability to jump awake at the slightest cough, and I find myself saying things like, "We pet Lola's tail nicely; tails are not for tasting," and "Mommy does not need help going to the bathroom."

I wonder how differently I would have reacted to a little boy deciding to walk along the top of the couch. My first reaction was- absolutely not. Later, it was amended to- "With Mommy's help." Would I have been that quick to refuse access to what really is probably not that dangerous of an exploration?

Her hair is long enough for barrettes now. Yesterday I found myself thinking about polishing her toenails (how uncrunchy of me!) She wore patent leather Mary Jane style shoes to church on Sunday (and shattered my jaw into a million tiny shards each and every chance she had to kick me repeatedly in the face). Each of these events is shaping her bit by bit, like water on a rock. Not a bad thing. Neither is letting her hammer rocks with a wooden mallet in the yard, or dig in the dirt with her fingernails, or any of the other millions of events that go on during the day.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Cricket... Cricket...

Ahem. Is this thing still on? I haven't posted in a while, mostly because my superpowers have been needed elsewhere. There is never a lack of things to accomplish.

I've also found myself in sort of a test pattern mode, thought-wise. Election dronings, economic "bovine feces," and other loud repetitive noises have killed my inspiration. I did have one thought that has been bouncing around for about the past 24 hours- what if people didn't vote for the candidates, but voted on the actual issues instead? Instead of flicking the switch for "Beavis" or "Butthead," in other words, there were the actual issues laid out in a simple, easy to understand, agreed upon by the candidates format. Perhaps the main twelve. Economics- do you lean towards a top-down, or a bottom-up method? Check here. Oil- do you want to drill, or don't you? Check here. The issues get tallied, and he/she that most matches the ideals of what people are looking for is voted in. Too difficult for someone to figure out? No voting for you, then. That method takes wayyyy too long! Huh. Well, crap. You mean it won't give us the results as fast as American Idol? Bummer, dude. Guess we can't do it that way. Besides, how will we know which ones are the good guys, and which are the bad ones?

But, what the hell do I know, anyway? I can't even figure out the daily mysteries I encounter. While sorting laundry to be cleaned, I found myself staring at a button-down shirt of Mr. Clarateaches this morning, wondering, "How on earth did he get out of this shirt? It's still buttoned! With a tee shirt still inside of the shirt!" I'd probably still be kneeling on the floor attempting to figure it out, but Gianna decided to scrub down the dog with some underwear and enlightenment was never achieved.

Instead, we ventured down to the freezing lower floor of our house, where I tried to distract my little overachiever from teething on the side of the garbage can by turning on Sesame Street. This show was definately written with the idea that parents will primarily be the ones watching this, while their progeny toddle about the living room while talking on the remote control and vigorously vacuuming the dog with the toy popcorn popper. One thing that does catch her attention is Elmo, the newer, cuter version of Grover. When I was small, Bert and Ernie and Grover ran the show, with Big Bird, Snuffy, and Oscar the Grouch supporting. Now, there are all sorts of speech-impaired little monsters running amok. A bear muppet substitutes "W" sounds for both "R" and "L" sounds (developmentally appropriate for the age range they're targeting, but bothersome to be modeling nonetheless) and Elmo consistently refers to him(?)self in the third person.

Enough dallying, I suppose. Time to go work on the ol' cottage industry. Or, some more haus-frauery.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

When You Assume...

Gianna the Foreman needs to supervise me closely while I'm cleaning, and we've got a pattern down, where in the mornings, I clean somewhere and she plays close by. This morning was the bathroom, and so I gave her this little plastic shoebox full of random things we've chucked in there that we don't use- all the pacifiers people gave us, a huge thing of Vaseline that we've never opened (DH is adamant about avoiding petroleum products), and some odds and ends of a J&J baby travel pack that were all still packaged shut. I assumed without checking that the Vaseline was somehow sealed, and she wouldn't be able to get into it.

So I'm scrubbing away at the rust in the tub, and she's chattering away to herself while looking through the box. She takes out the pacifiers and asks, "Dis?" while putting it in her mouth. I confirm that "in the mouth" is okay for the pacifier. I get back to scrubbing, and a few minutes later smell an overpowering baby powder scent. I turn and look and see:

Gianna, with a newborn-sized pacifier in her mouth, with a seriously grim, set face, taking her finger and sticking it into the open Vaseline pot, and applying a heavy dose to her eyebrows!!! They were swept way up in points. The look on her face, combined with the too-tiny pacifier, plus the eyebrows, was hilarious. She was so mad when I wiped her eyebrows off. I'm just glad she didn't eat it! That'll teach me to assume that things are sealed without checking!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Gray Day...

"...everything is gray. I watch, but nothing moves today." Dr Seuss, My Many Colored Days

Upon looking into the mirror, I noticed a glaringly silver hair right in the middle of my part, towards the front of my face. Now, gray hair is nothing new to me- a college housemate used to amuse herself by yanking out gray hair she'd find in the back of my head, when I'd have my hair in a pony tail. This is the first time I've seen one out in the open, though. I think I'm going to call this little friend, "Bailout."

My usual distractions from the irritating, heart-sinking world of politics ranges. In days past, I would hop in the car and zoom around, finding something new. Or, I would argue relentlessly in forums (fora? foraminifera? Gewurztraminer, as my spell checker recommends?) dedicated just for that purpose. Sometimes I would attack a project. Bambina is napping, or else we'd be at Lowe's right now, looking for something to make a raised garden. I just need to hammer.

So, sometimes I fall back upon Food TV. I fell in love with "good things" a long time ago, watching Martha Stewart's "From Martha's Kitchen" and later her Living show. This escalated to watching Food TV and learning how to do incredible things with a roux, or with brioche. This may just be the spine to all of the organic, whole, local rigamorale I put us through on a daily basis. At any rate, if I'm going to make a chocolate chip cookie, rest assured, it will not be from a tube with a little dough man on it.

And here is what I see:

Commercial: The scene opens on an idyllic backyard, as one mom (Mom 1) pours red liquid for another mom (Mom 2). A party is implied, with kids in the background, and typical party fare about.
Mom 2: (raised eyebrows) "Oohhh, that has high fructose corn syrup in it."
Mom 1: (glibly, perhaps a bit archly) "So?"
Mom 2: "Well, you know what they say..." (trails off, fumbles a bit, looks sheepish).
Mom 1: "What? That it's made with corn? That it has no artificial ingredients? That it's fine in moderation, just like sugar?" She laughs at Silly Mom 2, and hands her a glass. Mom 2 looks at first embarrassed, but shakes it off to laugh with Mom 1 and enjoy her mixture of hummingbird food.

Dear GOD. What? The ad ends with the logo for the Corn Refiners Association at the bottom. Well, of course. That makes sense. Ethynol is slinking back into the place where New Coke and Clear Pepsi retreated, as it dawned on people that it creates a heck of an environmental impact just to get corn to a place where it works not quite so efficiently on cars as petroleum still does. Okay, so that's Food TV. Since Scripps Network took it over, actual chefs have left, and entertainment has taken over. Along with Sandra Lee, who probably won Miss High Fructose Corn Syrup at one point in time.

Click. Let's try my old pal, Martha. She still strives for the best. I page through the latest installment of her Everyday Food magazine, when lo and behold, there on page 41- what the HELL? It's an ad, adroitly placed opposite the "Between the Lines" column where the Martha Stewart Everyday Food people go through all the typical weird ingredients in packaged food to describe their impact.

And there, in the new MS Living magazine. Another one. Interestingly enough, the line that is repeated is that High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is safe "in moderation." Does anyone even know what moderation even is anymore? Let's actually let our brains do the thinking, rather than TV.

Ketchup, bread (yes, even high end whole wheat), salad dressing, canned soup, peanut butter, cereal... it's in all of these. If you are not going out of your way to avoid buying these items that contain them, your "moderation" card is already filled by the time someone offers you a popsicle or Red Liquid Drink.

Let's read further. So, if it's made from corn, it's "natural," huh? The type of corn that HFCS is made from is the type of corn that even cows don't like to eat. It's very high in starch (important for the process that the corn syrup goes through to become HFCS) and is very likely to be genetically modified as well. Here is a really good, step-by-step description of how HFCS is refined. It turned Mr. Clarateaches and myself off of the stuff for good. Do we occasionally partake in some fake frosting at a party? Sure. But do we refuse to buy HFCS products? Pretty much all the time. We're still working out the kinks, and occasionally notice that something (Dannon yogurt? Hello!) contains it where it really isn't necessary.

People can put any crazy thing they wish into their bodies. But an AD? Trying to convince people that avoiding it means that you're a blithering, stammering idiot? And that eating it purposefully is just fine, A-OK, and just like sugar?

I need to go hammer something now. Okay?