Wednesday, August 31, 2011

¡Despierta!

I'm so tired my co-workers had to show me how to operate the hot water knob on the water cooler for my oatmeal this morning.

And apparently I will read any story in the LA Times accompanied by a photograph of a kitty.

Example 1
Example 2

Or giant rodents. ¡Órale, capybara!*

I'm no beaver, fool!
Here's a quote from the story (which I actually read last week but have still been thinking about; is that weird? No, that's not weird. Seriously. Is it weird?):
The rodents — which can grow to the size of a large dog — aren't dangerous, "just weird-looking," [Fish and Game spokesman Andrew] Hughan said.
Weird looking! Speak for yourself, Andy!

*I never say "Órale" in real life, but I think I might try using it today. It seems to go perfectly with "capybara." "Capybara" makes me want to speak Spanish! (My parents never taught me any slang!)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The thing that's always on my mind: milk, and how much of it I have.

I'm staying up because my pumping at work has been pretty dismal - only 12 ounces today. I usually get at least 16. Yesterday was about the same, which is a bummer. I've had to get into my freezer stash, which at this point is only about a one-day supply (about 8, 4 ounce bottles). God forbid I am ever away from him for more than a couple of hours. Anyway, I last fed the baby at 8, so I want to stay up for a least a couple of hours before pumping.

I think my supply is all wacky because he's sleeping longer at night. For a few weeks he was sleeping until 12:30, but last week he started sleeping until 2. While I welcomed the extra sleep, I think it's messing me up. It could also be that he's been on solids for about a month now? I don't know. I have a bottle of Reglan, a prescription drug that can help increase my milk supply, but when I tried taking it before, I got a really big blockage that was horrible. And I think recovering from that messed up the milk supply too, so I am hesitating to use it. Instead I am continuing to take my fenugreek and More Milk Special Blend, and to drink an incredible amount of water. I also added a fifth pumping session today at work, which I hope not to have to keep up. It helped a little but I was still short.

So, the baby has been asleep for about an hour, and I'm staying up, watching Anthony Bourdain, waiting for it to be around 10:15 so I can try pumping.

The other thing going on is, my mom started chemotherapy again this week. She had a biopsy of the liver a couple of weeks ago, and her doctor ("Dr. McRobot," who gets less and less robotic as time goes by) thinks the lesion he's been keeping his eye on is cancerous. So, hi ho, hi ho, it's off to chemo we go. Well, she goes. The rest of us hold our breath and hope, and pray for the best. My mom took the news really well, so I don't know, maybe she was expecting the news. She's been doing great, starting to walk around with a cane instead of the walker, and getting stronger. Her hair has grown in but funnily enough, her eyebrows didn't. As usual, the doctor couldn't say how long he wants her to be getting the chemotherapy, but I guess that's how it works. Until she gets better, right?

Meanwhile, my little boy is crawling, playing up a storm, interested in everything under the sun (or within his little grasp), and quite possibly the cutest, smartest 7 month old you will ever meet. He's my favorite baby, ever.

Gotta go, it's almost time to make some milk. Bye for now.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Cleaning up...

This year, Patrick and I saved up and finally got some work done on the outside of our house. It's funny, we lived in our dumpy little house for 11 years without doing anything to it, but after having the baby, it seems that keeping our place clean, neat, and looking good is more important to us now.
We started off with new windows, and that made a huge difference. Our old vinyl windows were ugly, didn't lock (!), and weren't that great at keeping the outside noises or dust at bay. I really noticed this during the 3 a.m. feedings with Exton, when my neighbor and his Harley were roaring up and down the street. Since our plan is to one day remodel our house (possibly when the baby turns 5), and that remodel, as far as we can tell now, would take place at the back of our house, we went with replacement windows in the back, and new windows in the front.

After the windows were finished, we got the place restuccoed. My understanding of the terminology is sketchy, so don't ask me if we got a color coat only or if the stucco was actually redone. I have no idea what the difference is or if I've even just described two different processes. All I know is, it took us about two weeks to decide on the color. When we bought the house in 2000, it was grey. We painted it ourselves a boring, ugly beige color with white trim. Well, the white trim was already there, we just did the beige. We had what I liked to call "the ugliest house on the street." The new color is called "Southern Moss" (my brain always sings "southern moss" with a Neil Young accent), and it's a grayish green.

The stucco came out awesome, and combined with the new windows, my house suddenly looked about a thousand times better, even without the finishing touches (the trim). The painters wanted to wait a couple of weeks for the stucco to cure (or they needed time to fit us into their busy schedule) so we were stuck with raggedy trim for a bit longer than we wanted. When it came time for them to come finish, though, they were fast, efficient, and did a really good job. We chose white for the window and door trim and under the eaves, and a color I can't remember the name of (and I chose it!) for the fascia at the roof line. It's kind of a grayish brown that goes great with southern moss. We weren't sure about this design decision (most of the houses in our neighborhood have white up there) but we're so glad we did it. The house looks so neat and clean now.

Inspired by the clean lines, this weekend we decided to go through all the crap in the garage (Patrick has been known to tell the baby, "Some day son, this will all be yours"). It's not funny. Our garage was stuffed full of... junk. I found all sorts of stuff: audio equipment, computer parts, computer cables, my old Dell DJ, a really ugly Mikasa vase, all the handmade cards my friend Leigh sent me (some of which will be framed), random paperwork (my old box of files from before I got married, which included things like... my 1997 tax return, the receipt for the Yamaha flute I bought in 1991 for $600 [and sold in 1994 for $600], account information for my very closed checking accounts at Cal Fed and Security Pacific (very closed because those banks don't exist anymore!), insurance papers from when my dad was in a car accident in 1996, etc.) my band varsity letter, my award from the Marine Corps for "loyalty and excellence in performance" for being in the band (I would've preferred money or a scholarship but it was a cool award, presented in person by a full-on Marine), my High School diploma, my (very expired) passport, the DMV registration for Patrick's old car with a note on it from his dad, a postcard I sent to Patrick from New York while on a trip with my brother, my Crocker Bank teddy bear (Patrick made me keep it), and, oh, a whole bunch of things, most of which went into the trash after I handled them.

One thing that I decided to let go of was my acceptance letter, in 1997, to CalArts.
I didn't need to keep it, I knew it was okay to throw it away, but boy, tossing it felt... weird. I told Patrick I was going to do it, and he must not have been paying attention at first (he was doing all the really hard work of moving the large items and pulling down all the big plastic containers all this junk was shoved into) because he didn't really respond. Surprisingly, throwing it away made me really sad. I went into the garage where Patrick was wrangling a very long blue computer cable. He saw that I was crying a little, and I said, "Will you tell Ex that once upon a time his mommy was a good enough musician to have been accepted to CalArts?"

He said yes, and gave me a big hug, and then I was fine, and then we went back to work.

I mean, I don't know, it sounds a little dramatic, now, but it seemed like a big deal - and like throwing away that piece of paper was the right thing to do.

The funny thing is, I've always kind of wondered if EVERYBODY gets accepted to CalArts. I mean, I was pretty good, but my audition tape had just one good performance (a Bach sonata, I forget which one) and one crappy performance (Hindemith, which is surprising, because I love that piece and usually perform it well), and some other performance of a piece I don't even remember, and my in-person audition wasn't for the flute teacher (I met with Rachel Rudich for a pre-audition, and played for her "informally," but she wasn't there for my actual audition, for some reason), and I don't even remember what I played; maybe the Hindemith; the Bach was just too hard for a live performance, under pressure like that, back then.

I mean, I don't know, I've told people I was accepted to CalArts and most of the time they act like that's not a big deal, but since I didn't apply anywhere else, even not going there was a big deal to me.

Anyway, in related news...

I've been making up my mind about re-joining flute choir for the upcoming quarter, and I've decided that I'm not ready. My work day is too long; my commute is too far; Ex still feels too little and though he's sleeping mostly through the night, he does still wake up around 2 or 3 a.m., and sometimes I just can't go back to sleep (making me a zombie the next day). He's been hitting a lot of milestones lately and I don't want to miss any of that. I'm already away from him enough as it is.

A lot of people join flute choir with the same story: they haven't touched their flutes since high school or college, which is usually anywhere between 5 and 20 years. It's always fun to see those people improve and to watch them work hard and remember what it's like to play a million notes in a row or be (mostly) in tune with 12 other flutists. I've been out of high school for about 20 years, and I've never stopped playing for longer than a couple of weeks. I'll miss it, and I know they'll miss me, but I think staying home for another quarter is no big deal.

All this thinking about performing and playing made me have a weird dream last night (and made sleeping difficult) - I had a dream that City Garage decided to put on a musical, with a real orchestra, and I found out about it and that I hadn't been asked to be in it, and when I woke up from the dream at around 2 a.m., I felt as disappointed as I would have been if this had really happened. I know I'm giving something up - but I'm getting something too: time with my baby. That's more important to me right now.

Dream

I just woke up from a dream that City Garage was putting on a musical with a full-on orchestra and I wasn't asked to be in it. I woke up almost as bummed and disappointed as I would feel if this had actually happened.

Sent from my iPhone

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Yelp

The other day I wrote about my experience about a hair salon in my neighborhood on Yelp. I had been pretty excited to go to this place, and I went on one of the days before I returned to work, while Exton was at daycare. It was, I think, my first day out without him since he was born, and I was tired, missing him, and ready to feel pretty again.

The haircut (and color) worked out okay. The color (which was supposed to be "just" highlights) came out a little too all-over color but I liked it (it's been so long now that the top is growing back in... white). The only problem was the actual service. Here's my review on Yelp:
I did not want to write this review. My visit was some moths ago, and I held off on writing this because I thought I might like to go there and give them another shot.

Because, I have to say, my cut and color was really good. But the service (by the owner, no less) was horrible. She spent the entire time she was doing my hair talking to someone else (someone from Aveda, I think, though I was never sure. I didn't feel bad about eavesdropping on their conversation as I had pretty much nothing else to do and no one to talk to). I was left alone with no explanation for quite a long time.

I realize that owners are busy people who have to conduct business when they can; however, I didn't request the owner when I made my appointment (I had had a great cut and experience there several months earlier by a young woman who no longer works there), and thought it was pretty unprofessional of her. I was very uncomfortable.

I love Aveda haircuts and products and my hair even grew out great from this cut (and the color still looks good), but I won't be going back. Times are too tough to put up with bad service, especially at the prices they charge.

Also... while I was sitting there, doing nothing, I happened to be checking out their Yelp reviews on my phone. The owner "caught" me doing that, and made a defensive comment about the "bad reviews," which I thought was weird.
A couple of days ago I received a message on Yelp that I had gotten a "compliment" on one of my reviews. I clicked on it, and some person had written in, shocked that I had received sub par service. She was surprised, because she goes to this salon all the time and has never had the same sort of experience that I wrote about.
 
I thought about this for a while, and of course didn't "publish" this comment. I wondered if I should just ignore it or write back. It seemed silly, but I thought it was kind of weird that someone would use the "compliment" system to defend the salon. ("Compliments" can be printed alongside your review if you want. I do not want.) Today I wrote her back. See below.
Hi, M***,

I received your "compliment" on my review of [redacted] Salon, and want to remind you that everyone's experience is different. That day, for my appointment, my service was disappointing. Reviews are opinions, you don't have to agree with all of them.
           Irene

Why would someone do that? I'm sure this person (now "blocked" from me on Yelp; I'm not stupid) is associated with the salon. I didn't write the review to "get" them - I wrote it because that woman who cut my hair could've done a better job at making me comfortable. She didn't. End of story. I hope.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Teething is happening for reals, now

For the last month and a half or so, the baby has been drooling and chewing on things. I thought this was "teething." Dude: this is so not teething.

On Friday of last week, he had his six month check up. He's doing great, gaining weight, hitting all the milestones. He continues to flirt with every nurse he meets (George Clooney, watch out!), and they continue to love it. His pediatrician checked his mouth and said only this: "Nope, no teeth!" He got shots and cried a little, but really, didn't put up any kind of fuss (in the past, they've let me hang out in the room so I could feed him immediately afterwards, but the nurse needed the room. I was a little apprehensive about leaving without feeding him, but he was fine. Patrick's work is closer to the doctor's office than home, and he works alone on Fridays, so we went there for awhile).

Saturday, we went to a beautiful wedding in Beverly Hills. My sister babysat JP, and said he was "perfect." Well, of course he was. This was an exciting moment for us - in six months, though we've gone to work and left him at daycare, we've never gone anywhere together without him. It was a fun day, but sooo hot, and you should know, being hot makes me very, very crabby. Still, the day was gorgeous, my friends were gorgeous, and the food was delicious. I pumped twice in the car, and it was no big deal.

Sunday, we visited with family in Chatsworth, and if I thought Beverly Hills was hot, well, Chatsworth was insane. But, the baby seemed fine. I slathered him with sunscreen and fed him in the car with the air conditioner on, and he got to meet my cousin's daughter's baby boy, who is a couple of months older, my aunts Josie and Esther, my uncle Jesse, and my cousins Sandra, Rachel, Sylvia, and Rudy. It was a long day, with a lot of driving, but he slept in the car during the drive and seemed fine.

On Monday, when I came home from work, Patrick was letting him play in the Pack & Play, and he seemed happy. When I picked him up, that kid was on fire. We took his temperature, and it was 101.something. I got very concerned, stripped him down to his diaper and fed him right away.

That helped matters a little but that fever, while within the "don't panic, mom" range (but just barely) freaked me out a little. I stayed up with him all night, but he was in a great mood, so it was no hardship (playing with my hot little baby or just holding him? Seriously, that's pretty much fine with me, except for the "hot" part). He slept great, and seemed okay, but since he was still hot at 4 a.m. when I got up to feed him, I decided to stay home with him and Patrick in the morning on Tuesday.

I stayed home until about 9 a.m., and at that time, his fever was down to about 99.something. I felt okay with going to work, so I left the two of them at home. At around 2 p.m., Patrick sent me a text that his temperature was normal, and the two of them were hanging out in the backyard, looking at the birds (we have a hawk! I'm calling her "Isabeau," of course). 
"Hello, mommy!"
Is this the face of a kid with a fever? I ask you.

I was glad he kicked that fever, which we were still thinking was related to him having a cold (we all have colds. Patrick is over his, mostly, but I am still, of course, coughing and blowing my nose all over the place), but I wasn't comfortable sending him so soon to daycare on Wednesday, so I stayed home with him.

The morning was nice - after Patrick went to work, we went back to sleep for about 3 hours. Have I mentioned that we've been co-sleeping with him? I love it. I love cuddling him, and the way his little hand always seems to find my collarbone or chin while he sleeps. When we have the bed to ourselves (sorry, Patrick!) we spread out a little but usually are touching somehow (sometimes his feet are on my chest!). It's really, really sweet. However, the rest of Wednesday, he was kind of miserable. He would fall asleep on my chest, but wake up crying. This kid doesn't cry like that, so it was really disturbing. I knew something was wrong but his temperature was fine, he seemed physically okay (we started solids a while ago, and this week we've been trying sweet potatoes. He likes it a lot; he's having no symptoms of an allergic reaction). I just made me sad. And tired. I fed him as much as he wanted, which was quite a lot, surprisingly, and tried to get him to sleep. He had playtime on the floor in the living room, where we worked a little on sitting up and playing with his big bucket of beads (he loves those big plastic beads! But even more, he loves the lid to the container!) and a red plastic cup Patrick gave him.

When Patrick came home, he seemed to be doing a little better, and this is when we figured out what's been going on: he's not sick, he's making teeth. And those teeth want OUT. I gave him a bath, cuddled him, and read him a story, and by 7:45 he was asleep. I, however, couldn't sleep. I got him bed with him and just tossed and turned. I felt bad that it took me so long to put two and two together. At 11 he was awake, crying again, so I did what I could do (feed him) and he went back to sleep. He seems to be back on an "every two hours" feeding schedule, but if that's what I can do to make him feel better, I'll do it.

When I left this morning, he and Patrick were snoozing away, not quite like he and I snooze away, but still, cozy. Patrick stayed home with him today, and last night got his "Sophie" giraffe, a teething ring that can go in the refrigerator, and one of those mesh feeding bags (filled frozen bananas) ready. We just didn't want to send him to daycare. I know, I know, I'm sure they know very well how to deal with a teething six-month old, and next time maybe we'll be more blase about it, but I'm telling you, since it took us so long to get a clue, I think we both feel guilty. He'll have fun with his papa today, and tomorrow with me. On Saturday we're getting up really early for a six hour drive to Santa Cruz for a family reunion, and I hope that goes okay. He'll get to meet my mother's family this time, and I hope they get to see how cheery and happy he really is.

My prediction? He'll have teeth by the time we get back on Sunday.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Woefully out of touch with my "heritage"

A friend of ours had a little baby about a month ago, and she has been observing "quarantena," a Mexican tradition I was unfamiliar with, but now kind of fascinated by (I've seen it spelled both "cuarantena" and with the qu-. I have no idea which, if either, is correct).

There were a few stories floating around (on NPR, in the NY Times) about a similar Asian tradition called "doing the month," and I'm starting to really get interested in this idea of isolating the new mom and her baby to protect them and ensure post-partum healing.

I didn't do this (I think we waited a couple of weeks to take the baby anywhere other than doctor visits after we brought him home, but I definitely went out with him, I just don't remember where) because I was unaware of this tradition (and maybe if I'd heard about this then I might've made fun of it, thinking it was "old fashioned"), but looking back, I can see how special that time was, how tired I was, how much healing I still had to do (and STILL have to do!), and how much I needed to get to know my little boy.

All that stuff happened, just not in a protected environment.

I like the idea of it.

Here's an article from Slate about post-partum traditions. And here's an article about other traditions, "cuarantena" amongst them.

As you can see, there's lots to read about!

In case some of you aren't aware, I'm Mexican. I know, I know, I skew "other," but because I don't speak Spanish (very well; or "at all," if you want to get really technical) or identify with my heritage, it's always been easy for people to think I'm from somewhere else (Tahiti!). I just wasn't raised in those traditions, and mostly, that's been OK for me. My parents brought me up just fine. We are who we are and I'm fine with that (except in the 10th grade, when my Spanish teacher - from SPAIN - sent me home from Spanish 101 with a very strange [to the ears of my family] and highly mockable accent). There are things that now, with a greater understanding of their value, I'd love to learn, but you know? I have all the time in the world. And I can share them with JP, too.