baby chores

Well, this move is continuing to be endless. I now have my sights on October for living in the new space. The good news is that everything is in, just not in place. Posts will continue to be sporadic around here until we get settled.

As I think about this new home, where I will begin to raise my son and create a new life for myself, I imagine what life might look like. I have so many aspirations that it's sometimes frightening. There's so much I want for Gabriel's childhood that sometimes I get overwhelmed with all the goals and ideals and images.

It's time for a get-real moment. Back to basics. Or, in our case, establishment of basics. What are the basics? I think for us, these need to be things like:

- a weekly rhythm
- a daily checklist
- established eating patterns

Being a single mom of a crawling (crawling!) baby has its tricky spots. My trickiest spot is remembering everything I "should" be doing with him on a daily basis, especially as our days are currently kind of chaotic. So I came up with an idea of making a "daily chore chart" for the baby. Here's a preliminary list of his "chores":

- read at least one book
- brush teeth twice (did you see that word "teeth" there?)
- eat "real" food once a day
- go outside and touch the grass
- practice baby signs
- listen to enriching music (various Wee Sing albums, hymns, classical)
- bedtime prayers

In addition to those things, I want to have him in the baby carriers with me fairly often, because I am a little bit attachment parenting-y. I also want to start introducing him to "work," Montessori-style. Basically this means giving him the opportunity to get really absorbed in one activity. He seems to have a fairly short attention span (being a normal 9-month-old baby boy), and I want to work with him on building his concentration. That probably sounds very helicoptery and over-achievery, but let's face it: him being able to focus on one thing for a little while without requiring my participation is a self-preservation mechanism on my part. (For those of you interested, I'm using this blog in particular as a launch pad.)

What are some other "chores" you think would be appropriate for a baby?


all quiet on the southern front

It's move-in time! The apartment is not quite finished but quite quite habitable, and we're moving! Things may get a little quiet around here while I figure out things like how to get internet up and running and reacquaint myself with all my worldly possessions, the vast majority of which I have not seen for 3 months.

If you had to go without all your stuff for three months, what would you miss the most and why?



As I lie here nursing my son, I catch myself begging.

Don't forget. Please don't forget.

I work to etch every moment into stone, preserve it for the next moment, the next hours, months, years. He is my son, my baby, and I don't know if I'll ever have another one.

Remember this. Don't ever forget it.

The way his cheeks get chubbier when he's sleepy. The foot that won't stay down. The hand, always moving, grasping, moving again. The coos that used to come with every breath and now are rarely heard.

What if this is the only one? Save this. This is the greatest treasure.

I hold him close, press his little tummy to mine, worry a little, pray a lot. Stroke his fine, silky hair that likes to come to a point in the front. I marvel at this tiny person, our little world, the fact that I am his everything. He overwhelms me. His sweetness, his dimples, the "did he just crawl?" siren that rings every few hours.

I'm reminded of the tornadoes in his home state, the siren that blew at 11am on the second Wednesday of each month, the panic I felt the first time I heard it, the moment I looked at the clock, huddled in a tiny bathroom with two dogs and a gallon of water, and thought it odd that a tornado would hit at 11 on the nose.

He's still blond today, I note. A little reddish. I'd thought he'd be a redhead. He's come close a few times, mostly in pictures.

He is a tornado, a thing of life-altering power, a miracle of nature, the most beautiful, terrifying, dangerous thing I've ever known. He shifts, stretches a knee.

Remember the way that felt. He will never be this small, may never be this close, again. 

I remember the times he was a newborn, 3 or 4 days old, lying asleep on my stomach. He would shift his weight, and I recognized the movements, had felt them inside me for months. Had he really been inside me, all that time?

Don't forget this, I thought then. You're the only one who knows this, who knows him.

I was afraid we'd be alone before long, too afraid to admit what I knew. Too afraid to face what was coming. Too desperate to save something that was already dead, long dead, hopeless, to do anything but pretend to hope. Pray it back to life. Will it to live, resurrect. Stay. I failed.

How will I ever make him understand?

His jellybean toes are in the air again. He'll be asleep soon. He'll be a teenager soon. I cry, again. I move my head back on the pillow so he won't be stained with my tears.

Don't wake up, sweet baby. Mama needs you to sleep.

It's been a week of tears, of loss, of pain. Angry fists and quiet tears. Papers and conversations and silence. Pureed carrots, library books, sheets in the wash, and lots of wakeful baby during what used to be my quiet, productive evenings.

How will I do this alone? Does he already know how I've failed him?

The baby part is the easy part, and I can't even get this right. We haven't read a story in 2
days. The dog chewed one of his favorite toys in the night. It's been so long since I vacuumed that he cried when I finally ran it, the noise too big and unfamiliar. Soon he'll be chasing the vacuum on all fours, catching the frogs with a friend, asking for the car keys.

Be his witness. You're all he has right now.

I hold my dearest one close, press him against me, inhale. I'm alone, and never alone.


three things i'm grateful for

when the going gets tough, the conscious get grateful. 

1. UNCTV - I confess. I love public television. I love it. Love it love it love it. I can learn to cook, garden, and sew all while soothing a fussy baby. Current favorite shows: Cooks Country, the Almanac Gardner, b organic, and Front Row Center.

2. The ensuite bathroom - I'm currently staying in the guest suite at my mom's house. I say suite because it's a suite - a huge room, two biiiiig closets, and its own bathroom. It's like having my own tiny apartment in this big house. It's so nice to be able to plop Gabriel on the floor in here while I take a shower. I'm close enough to hear him and keep an eye on him without having to cram both of us into the bathroom.

3. Punch the Pig - When I moved back to North Carolina, I had to move my money from the local Colorado bank. I thought about researching local NC banks, but it didn't take long to realize that I had three choices: the big bank within walking distance, the crappy bank that everybody hates within easy driving distance, or any other bank, which would be at least 5 miles away. I went with the walking distance one. And they have this cool feature in their online set up called Punch the Pig. Whenever I log in and feel like it, I can "punch the pig" and send $5 to my savings account. You can customize your pig and the noise it makes when you punch it, and it's totally goofy and silly and 5 dollars isn't a lot, but it's something, and these days I need all the little somethings I can get. My pig is tie-dyed.


new diet: thoughts on longevity

One thing I'm coming to grips with is the fact that I want to prioritize "hippie eating." This means organic produce and "organic" dairy (meaning, dairy coming from cows that are hormone- and BHG-free). I'm more and more convinced that monitoring the chemicals and pesticides that go into our bodies is the best way to protect my health and my son's health.

It's hard to come to grips with this new priority, given the fact that I'm on a very tight budget. I'm taking some solace in the fact that the grocery budget for both of us will not be much more than for one person, at least for a while. Maybe by the time Gabriel is eating enough to make a dent in the groceries, I'll be in a better place financially.

I'm also willing to try out some meat-free dinners, which will cut down on how much $$$$$$$$ meat I need to buy to get through the week. I've never been able to stomach beans, but I'm gonna give them another go. This may be easiest to start in the winter, when I can fool myself with soups.

In addition, I'm turning up some decent sources for good food. There's a local co-op, a network of farms that will deliver pretty much anything I could want ("rural NC" is not very far away), and this town is about as good as it gets for this diet in this state in terms of most offerings and fewest hairy eyeballs.

It also helps that I'm on this annoying diet. Because I have to cut out all grains and sweeteners for a whole month, I'll have a good shot at really kicking the bad-food habit and adjusting to things like baking my own bread and making pretty much everything from scratch (not to mention reading labels). Mom and I are going to try baking some stuff using non-grain flours in the next day or so, which will be my first foray into using things like almond flour to make muffins.

It's not going to be easy. In a lot of ways, I feel like I am gearing up to fight a losing battle for the rest of my life. But ultimately, this is important. It may be the most important thing I can do for my boy's earthly future.


beauty in sadness

I took Gabriel to church yesterday, and it was hard. One or both of us cried for a majority of the service, causing us to spend it outside for the most part.

Outside of the building (it's a rented retail space, not a freestanding church) there's a kind of rectangular gazebo-y thing. As I sat on one bench, back to the warehouse church thing, hair done and pretty dress on, sweet baby in my lap, wind rustling the leaves of all the trees, and tears running down my cheeks, I remembered a brief conversation I had with Brian years ago. At the time I thought it was a funny indication of our differences. Now it just hurts.

We were taking some sort of personality test - I can't remember if I was administering it to him or he was administering it to me. There was a question that said something like "I think there's something beautiful about sadness" and the answers may have been true or false or a rank from 1 to 5, who knows.

I remember getting to the question and scoffing. What a strange thing to say. That there is beauty in sadness is something that had never occurred to me, and I was baffled that it would have occurred to anyone else. Pondering "the beauty of sadness" was, to me, akin to pondering the purpleness of tree bark. There's not really purple tree bark; surely there is some tree bark somewhere that is purple, so it's possible, but tree bark isn't really purple. Sure, sadness could be beautiful, if you're talking about it in an abstract, loosely related way - commenting on a well-written poem or a really moving candid portrait, for example. But sadness itself, to me, didn't possess the quality of being beautiful.

 Brian, of course, thought (thinks?) there's great beauty in sadness. I didn't get it. Even now, I think it's kind of a strange notion.

There was something in that moment in the gazebo, though. Me, the leaves, the overwhelming sadness, the sweet, innocent baby. It felt so beautiful and so tragic, to be  alone and unseen, surrounded by nature and life, grieving an ancient grief.

written monday, may 21


"Work isn't to make money; you work to justify life."  Marc Chagall

Here's to living. 

Happy Labor Day!