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You can find me here now

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Lovely Post

When this man writes about his daughter, it makes me hope, for Patrick’s sake, that our planned third-and-final kid is a girl.

http://thebhj.com/journal/2010/2/26/6.html

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Two

I have received interview requests for my spring interview program.  I bid on 10 jobs, and got 3 interviews – all with employment law firms (ones that work for The Man, not The Little Guy).  Hence the recent protecting of the space.  Mayhap they should not know ahead of time how working for The Man against The Little Guy destroyed my soul!  I couldn’t be too picky about summer employment, since the pregnancy makes me available only the first half of the summer, and I must stay in New Orleans near my midwives, so I have to go with what I get.  And, of course, I won’t even get any of these jobs because who’s going to hire some preggo about to pop, when you could get a non-parent for your same buck?  I would be hard-pressed to do so, in the same position.  Heavily pregnant women near their due date are prone to a hasty exit.  I don’t really want to work 50 hour weeks during that last couple months, anyhow, though the money is good (way better per-hour than HR Managing!), and it would be nice to occupy my time with working instead of thinking and nesting and losing my mind with the waiting through those last few weeks.  Also, I think hoisting Jack up and down these days is much harder than working in some office would be.  The bigger I get, the more he wants held, it seems.  And I’m trying to hold him a lot, because I’m feeling that guilt that every pregnant mother-of-one feels as she contemplates the End of Only Child-dom that is coming at her darling preshuss like a freight train.

Speaking of Only Child – he feeds his bear.  And gives him drinks of water.  It kills me.  Also, he says Hi and Dye Dye all the time, even if you just leave and re-enter a room.  He is so stellar at going to sleep – walks himself to his crib at bedtime, pulls up the blankets over his legs, and flips on his side with Bear’s tail and his thumb both in his mouth, nary a tear.  Also, he sings.  ALL THE TIME.  It is so delightful.  Yesterday, just before he flung himself off the piano bench and onto the floor and cut his lip and wailed like it was the End Times, he was sitting next to me while I played and he was singing along.  It destroys me.  I have a little musician!  And he’s finally letting me read stories again.  For a long time now, he’s manipulated all of the books, not letting me really read a coherent story to him.  He wants to hold it, he wants to close it, he wants this page this page THIS PAGE.  But lately, I’ve gotten through several pretty long books from beginning to end, while he sits quietly, holding Bear and listening.  It’s nice.

He’s also learning to wield, with greater frequency (like, every three minutes), the Toddler Arsenal of Death to Parental Sanity:

Weapon #1 – The Hitting:  This is his ultimate expression of frustration.  The Hitting gets a swift and terrible timeout – especially of other people/animals, though depending on the anger level, hitting of walls and inanimate objects as well.  It’s ok to be frustrated, it is not ok to express that frustration in beatings. 

Weapon #1a – The Unprovoked Hitting: When his cousin was around that he (actually, both of them) would look around the room, all shifty-eyed like, to see if any adult was watching – and then BLAM!  Kick her in the tummy!  Or she’d smack him on the head!  No provocation.  These carefully executed random acts of violence are of course immediate timeouts with Stern Mommy Voice (sometimes Stern Mommy Voice is a little wobbly with laughter, but I keep it together).

Weapon #2 – Throwing Self On The Ground.  At home, I ignore TSOTG.  In public, however, which is where he often wields this weapon (he knows exactly when we are most vulnerable to peer pressure), we employ distraction, occasional bribery (coff, grocery store lollipop, coff coff), and if feasible, a hoisting up and stepping away from the situation for a quiet talk.  Throwing Self On The Ground (and its corollary, The Limp Spaghetti Noodle) is by far his favorite tantrum flavor, which I don’t mind.  It’s the least aggressive, and most understandable.  I don’t let him do much of what he wants to do (i.e. playing in the glass of a broken vase), and that’s hard for a 22 month old brain to grasp.  Total relinquishment of bodily movement seems like an appropriate response – you won’t let me play in broken glass, FINE.  I won’t do ANYTHING AT ALL and I’ll be LIMP and USELESS on the floor like a puddle and WON’T YOU BE SORRY.

Weapon #3a and 3b – Incessant Whine and Hysterical Crocodile Tears.  These closely related weapons can elicit a number of responses, from distraction to a swat on the butt and a timeout.  However, I find that this one most often arises when he really hasn’t had much of our attention all day – and that happens too often in this house of two academic parents.  (Just stand in your Pack n Play and watch this episode of The Backyardigans three times in a row til mommy finishes her Con Law reading, ok?)  So if I’m getting a lot of whining, I insert a walk to the park or a cuddle or a story, and that usually sets him to rights.  He is a good little independent player, but he is still a little boy and needs lots of love and attention from us.  He doesn’t know how to ask, so I need to do a better job of just doling it out.

Weapon #4 – The Cuteness.  He hardly ever uses this, and really, it’s his best shot at getting me to go along with one of his big ideas.  He does whip it out sometimes, though.  Like last night, when I said Time for Night Night!  Tell Daddy Night Night!  And he walked over to Patrick, and crawled up in his lap and tucked his head under Patrick’s chin and closed his eyes.  I’ll admit, it extended bedtime by at least three minutes, while Daddy enjoyed an impromptu cuddle.

Anyway, he has a few more months of being my one and only, before his world gets shattered.  I know I’ll be able to do it, everybody does, it’s clearly doable, but I’m really nervous about it.  If I nurse Angus the Fetus (not his real name) every two hours, and have to hold and reassure Jack during the daylight hours that I’m not nursing Angus (not his real name), then when am I going to get any rest?  We’ll have lots of family help at first, I know, for which I am terribly grateful.  But Jack will need a lot of reassurance that he’s still my Bud, my Numero Uno two year old, my Love, and I have to be the one to give that.  And of course, nobody else can nurse the newborn, though I’ll tell you right now having successfully nursed Jack for a year, I am not above introducing some formula substitutions early on in Angus’s life, to give myself a break.  I’m thinking of training the boobs to turn off at night and doing formula feedings, so Patrick can take over sometimes.  We’ll see.  Maybe he’ll be a good night sleeper.  Maybe not having to go back to work right away will help with that, since I won’t be in such desperate survival mode so early in his life.

Maybe I should stop thinking about it and start working on a paper I have due, yes?  As Doris Day says, whatever will be, will be.  I’m onto all of Jack’s ploys, and Angus (not his real name) will not start being devious for at least a few months.  Also, he doesn’t go places when you put him down.  They’re going to be a difficult duo, but I think I can keep the upper hand.  God.  I am 31 years old after all.  I have almost 3 degrees. Surely I can outsmart and infant and a 2 year old.

Surely.

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Spaces can BITE ME

I’ve contemplated moving to a different platform several times, but never bothered because I don’t really care about having beautiful custom what-have-yous.  But doing this little re-ordering of my space, which was prompted by spaces suddenly making photo uploading take about fifty million years, hence I no longer want to showcase my photos – anyway, this space reordering took about half an hour, because it kept not working.  Then I realized that it took my last name from hotmail and splashed it up here, god knows how long ago, and I only just noticed, and I preferred not to share that.  Then it wouldn’t let me hide my last name.  Then I found out it splashed my name and profile picture up on Match dot com as a potential mate for some lonely heart out there – wildly inappropriate for a married pregnant lady, don’t you think?
So.  I’m breaking up with spaces AND with hotmail.  Now I just have to find a new home.  Any recommendations?
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Carnival Part Three – Lundi Gras and Mardi Gras

Monday, Lundi Gras, has no day parades.  This is a blessing.  We were planning on heading out to a huge formal ball that evening, from which we would be returning very late, and the next day would be Fat Tuesday, which meant we’d have to get up way early to get a good spot for the parades.  We needed a little break.
We showered and piled into the car to head over to the Westbank to pick up Clif’s tux and join his dad, Big Clif, for a delicious seafood lunch at a local place he knows.  The kids had chicken nuggets, and I had fried catfish, and it was a perfect, hot ‘n’ greasy kinda meal, to which Big Clif kindly treated us.  When we returned home that afternoon, we put the kids and ourselves down for naps.  Ours were necessarily short, though, because we had lots to do before the evening.  We’d already decided to have the kids fed, bathed, and ready for bed before the sitter arrived at 6:30, and have our coolers, picnic lunches, diaper bags, and wagons packed up and in the car for Fat Tuesday, so all we’d have to do in the morning was pack up the kids and roll out.  Erin and Ella and I dashed to the grocery to get some picnic items, and then we all set to prepping.  Erin made sandwiches, labeled with a Sharpie, and stacked them in the cooler – I loaded the diaper bags and filled milk bottles and a sack full of baby-distracting toys – Clif and Patrick helped load the car and corral the kids.  We managed to get everything done and still get ourselves dressed and ready for the Orpheus Ball by 6:45, which was a feat.  This ball is an odd one – men must wear tuxes and women floor length gowns, but its BYOB so everybody drags coolers full of beer behind their strappy shoes and formalwear.  We decided to just bring liquor and forego the cooler – a wise choice, I think.
Our men looked smashing in their tuxes – I wore a blue floor length gown that I’d bought 30 pounds ago for my wedding rehearsal dinner and which I could still zip (its empire waist let me get away with being all preggo – no way was I buying a maternity formal gown for this thing) – Erin wore a lovely black frock with a sparkly bodice and floofy tulle skirt.  After a somewhat nervewracking drive, trying to find our way around the winding parade routes, we found great parking by the Convention Center and headed in.  We sat in an elevated area, because Clif’s family plan the Orpheus parade and ball and they’d gotten us special faboo tickets seated with them.  We ate cheese and fruit and tiny muffaletta sandwiches, and I drank sparkling water while the boys enjoyed Woodford Reserve and Erin sucked down her rum and cokes.  The room was giant, and set up with a wide track in a loop around the floor.  This track was where the Orpheus parade would, later in the night, run right through our party!  We met lots of people and tried to chat despite the noise of the band, and then everyone started to line up for the parade.  I ended up leaning on the railing – much needed for my very tired, very pregnant body at this point in the week.  Erin stood beside me.  The parade was late, but it finally began rolling in, in fits and starts.  The theme for this one was Dessert Delights, and every float had a dessert theme, though most of them were tongue-in-cheek.  (i.e. Devil’s Food Cake had nary a cake in sight, but lots of devils).  The police rode by, and some Shriners on motorcycles.  Several minutes later, a band came marching past.  Finally, finally, the parades started rolling in.  Harry Connick Jr rode on one float – he was mere FEET from me! – and Taylor Dane, who performed later.  Sean Payton was there, drunk off his rear and carrying his heavily fingerprinted trophy.  We caught tons of throws at this parade – at one point, the Moon Pie float got stopped right in front of us.  I’ll never forget the look on my tuxedoed husband’s face as he stood on that platform and experienced his life’s dream – a never-ending shower of moon pies.  It was a juxtaposition the delightfulness of which I can’t describe, and I think it’s the perfect representation of New Orleans – tuxedo pockets full of Mardi Gras beads and moon pies.
Eventually, the parade ended, and we sat down to enjoy Taylor Dane’s show.  I knew every single song, I’m happy to report – it was 80s fabulous.  Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and Smash Mouth were set to play later in the evening, but it was getting close to 2am and we had a $10 an hour babysitter to pay, so we headed home before they came on.  We set our alarms for 7am the next morning, and crawled our exhausted selves into bed.
And 7am came, way too soon – 6:30 for us, as Jack decided to be an early riser.  We skipped showers, just got dressed in the clothes we’d wisely laid out the night before, bundled the babies in several layers as it was effing FREEZING out there, slathered sunscreen on our faces, and piled into the car once more.  We headed up to Napoleon to watch our last two parades of the season – Rex and Elks.  Luckily we got there early enough to leap into a primo spot, right in the front, and then parked the kids in the wagon to wait for a couple of hours before the parades would roll.  This was a challenge, especially to my unrested pregnant self.  I finally just let Jack run up the street.  I followed close behind, keeping him from running straight into people’s houses, and he stopped to dance at every place that had a boombox.  There were some amazing setups – one group had a huge L-shaped couch, three ladders, two grills, several tables, and a rented portapotty in their little area, which they taped off with police tape.  Made our little wagons and camp-chairs scenario look downright amateur.
Rex is THE parade, the original New Orleans Mardi Gras parade, with the king of Mardi Gras’s first appearance. After trying to entertain the kids for hours, we adults were just as excited as they were when the first floats finally came into view.  Jack let out an excited stream of baby babble, pointed, waved, screeched, and overall lost his mind when he saw them on the horizon.  Then he immediately held up his hands and whispered "woooo" and I died, right there on the spot.  Ella fell asleep just as it started, though it was long enough that she woke to catch the end.  After Rex, we had lunch, and then along came Elks.  Elks is a truck parade – so no floats, just flatbed trucks decorated by different groups.  They aren’t as elaborate, and the riders tended to be less enthusiastic – half of them were texting people as they went by.  We stuck around for it, though, because Clif’s family was riding in it on truck 21, and we had to wait to get lots of stuff dumped on us by adoring grandparents and granduncles.  70 trucks later, as truck 95 was cresting the horizon and no end in sight, we gave up on seeing the end of Elks, and dashed through between trucks so we could get to our car and go home.  100 trucks is about 70 trucks too many for anybody, but especially our weary children.
That was our last parade.  That evening, we headed back over to the Westbank to enjoy gumbo and King Cake at a big family gathering, and ended up following a parade over the bridge, making a 20 minute drive take over an hour.  It was at this point that I thanked the heavens it was Fat Tuesday and the nonsense was almost over.
After a lovely family meal – they welcomed us tangential, related-by-distant-marriage family as if we were long lost cousins and fed us gumbo and sandwiches til we exploded – we drove home.  And we all went to bed at about 9:00.
And that is the story of our first Mardi Gras.
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Carnival Part Two – The Day Parades

Saturday came early for us three parents, as we stumbled into the family room blinking sleep from our eyes and trying to keep up with our riled children.  Saturday is the busiest day for the active family Mardi Gras-er, and we knew we’d be gone til after supper time.  We organized the acres of stuff that two toddlers seem to require for an extended day away from home, packed a cooler, and bundled everything into the back of the minivan the in-laws had brought.  Once we found a spot to park near the parade route on Saint Charles, we loaded our children and their necessaries into two wagons and a wagon trailer and dragged them a couple of blocks to our spot.  BIL Clif’s family had staked out a great area in the neutral ground, right on the streetcar tracks, and we had the luxury of front-row seats without the pain of having to get out there early and fight for them.  Clif’s dad even provided Popeye’s chicken for everybody for lunch, and I can say with assurance, if not pride, that I ate more than my fair share of that crispy, spicy deliciousness.  We saw two parades in a row on this day – Iris and Tucks – and the kids collected ridiculous amounts of stuff.  My niece Ella especially raked it in – nobody can resist a tiny sweet girl with a huge pink bow in her hair.  Jack spent most of his time running up and down the grassy neutral ground, picking up disgusting, mud-and-alcohol-covered beads and putting them in his mouth, an activity that I spent most of MY time trying to prevent.  It was capital E Exhausting, but wonderfully fun.  Somewhere during this morning he learned how to put up his hand and say "wooo" when floats went by.  Most of us would scream "WOOOO!  YEAH!  GIMME SOME BEADS!  FOOTBALL, THROW ME THE FOOTBALL!  YEAH!  HAPPY MARDI GRAS!"  Jack would just quietly whisper "wooo" and raise his hands, and it was heartbreakingly cute.  Whenever I caught a bead, I’d hand it to him, and he’d ball it up in his little fat fist and put it over his neck, and give me a sweet, happy smile.  Gooshy gooshy goo, I know, but I really loved this part of Carnival – his simple delight.
After Tucks was over (they throw toilet paper in Tucks!  and toilet bowl sunglasses!  the hilarity!), we packed everything up and drove over to Canal Street to watch Endymion.  The Canal St spot was a bit more nightmarish for we two mothers-of-toddlers, because they only close traffic on one side of the street.  I spent the entire evening with my eyes glued to my child, and with good reason – at one point in the evening, some drunk mother’s toddler took off through traffic and came inches away from being hit and dragged by a huge Cadillac.  The car only stopped because some man was near the kid – the driver didn’t see the kid, it saw the man, and if it weren’t for that stranger he’d surely have been killed.  It was a full minute before his mother went tearing across the street, where the kid had toddled into a Burger King.  My SIL and watched open-mouthed, horrified, and clutched our children closer.  We didn’t stay much longer after that.
What we did see of Endymion was pretty cool.  Most of the floats are double decker, and all are lit up since it rolls at dusk, and in between each float is a truck that pulls roving spotlights and confetti cannons.  It’s pretty spectacular, but it started a little late for us, and so after the first handful of floats went by, hurling footballs and spears at the crowd, we packed up our chairs and coolers and wagons and headed home for dinner, baths, and bed.
The next day we were supposed to drive over to the Westbank to enjoy a picnic with Clif’s family and then go to the airport to pick up Patrick, but instead we ended up surrounded by a parade.  There was simply no way to drive out of uptown that morning, so we gave up, and dragged the kids a block up to a good parade-viewing spot in front of Whole Foods.  Thoth (sounds like "both") rolled by pretty quickly, and we took turns protecting the kids’ heads from flying beads and eating our picnic lunch of sandwiches and Zapp’s chips.  This parade literally encircled my house and cars, so poor Patrick was stuck at the airport for several hours til I could get to him.  However, I brought him some Tucks toilet-bowl sunglasses and some Valentines Day heart-shaped beads, which more than made up for his pathetic lunch of limp shrimp po boy in the airport terminal.
That night, Clif and Erin were heading to a family-only party, so Patrick and I agreed to take the kids to see Bacchus downtown by ourselves.  Mistake.  The King of Bacchus was none other than Drew Brees, which meant this parade was so packed we couldn’t get within fifty feet.  It was also more of the Bourbon street, drunk and shoulder-to-shoulder type of scene – not the place for a wagon with two kidlets in it.  After dragging them nearly an hour, we stayed about 10 minutes, and then dragged them an hour home, and by the end of this spine-rattling ride through the buckling and broken streets of New Orleans, they were both screaming and hungry and OVER IT.  We fed them, bathed them, pjed them, storied them, and tucked them in, and afterwards decided that maybe we’d changed our minds about the whole parents-of-two-kids thing.  Luckily, Angus the Fetus (not his real name) will not be mobile for quite a while after birth, which makes things easier.  He may scream, but I can put his little baby butt down somewhere and know it will stay there until I pick it up again, which is more than I can say for the Squirmalicious Toddler Twins.
Patrick and I didn’t even wait up for Erin and Clif.  We went to bed a little before 10pm, and slept hard and long, like the kids.  The next day was Monday, and we had even more activities planned for well into the evening.  I felt a little bad for Erin and Clif, out late for their third or fourth night in a row and clearly now running on fumes, but that feeling only lasted as long as the 30 seconds it took for me to drift off to sleep.
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