03 December 2013

people are animals

Do you ever hear the argument in science about humans being animals? I feel like I hear this argument all the time. This morning I read something that said it's unnatural for humans to drink cow's milk  because other animals don't try it. If we're going with that logic, it's also weird that people extract honey from beehives or cook their meat, or any food processing whatsoever.

I don't want to believe this because I refuse to relinquish my (pure) maple syrup. That stuff is liquid gold, I tell you. (In price and in taste. Worth it.)

13 November 2013

the store is my playground

Taking S. to any store is pretty much the worst. This is discouraging, as I am only trying to take ONE child shopping here. (How does one do it with more young children in tow?)

Yesterday I decided I wanted to check out Goodwill. This was clearly a bad idea, but my brain forgot to remind me that I had a toddler in tow. So I carried on in blithe ignorance. I set S. down so I could browse while monitoring him in the corner of my eye, and then he booked it in the other direction, out of my sight. After lingering briefly, I went to follow him and couldn't spot where he'd gone.

Shortly thereafter, I hear over the store intercom, "Could the mother of a toddler with blonde hair and blue eyes please come to Customer Service?"

Hustling a bit, I headed to the front of the store and was greeted by the unmistakable sound of my child's crying. When I got to him, the employees told me he had run out the front doors before they retrieved him.

Cue judgey looks.

I thanked them and made a half-hearted attempt to resume shopping, but S. wasn't having it, so I left.

I felt angry and frustrated with S., but I think what actually made me angry and frustrated was how judged I felt by the employees of Goodwill. I appreciate them saving my kid from self-harm and all (I don't even know if he made it all the way outside, but I sort of doubt he would have gone that far?), but do I need a "Worst Mother of the Year" ribbon, too?

How do I keep my child from running amuck and either destroying property, escaping into the world at large, or otherwise ruining his life (and mine)? When riding in a shopping cart, he cries and wants out and does everything in his power to climb out; when I'm carrying him, he desires to leap to his death.

Do I need to get a child leash? Refuse to take him shopping without backup? Please advise.

The advent of taking S. places without my co-parent is actually a rather novel one, so maybe I just need more practice to perfect it. Until maybe June of this year, I pretty much refused to drive anywhere farther than approximately five minutes away without backup because S. was so hellbent on hating his car seat. If we had errands, I would make Tim drive and I'd sit in the back next to baby and try to distract him. Once I figured out how to do so, my methods usually involved nursing him by leaning over the car seat.

Reminiscing about nursing in the car on a regular basis actually makes me feel a bit better.

11 October 2013


Earlier this week, I took off the door handle to our apartment's bathroom door in an effort to make it fit and close better. The handle had been preventing the door from closing all the way, which is kind of awkward if you ever have someone over that needs to use your bathroom. Then somehow, I got stuck inside. Tim and S. were on the outside, and he ended up having to break the door itself in order to free me from my tiny prison. It wasn't so bad being stuck in there, though. I brushed my teeth, did my hair, even plucked my eyebrows a little. I might have showered, too, except there were no towels on my side of the door.

Now the problem I was trying to fix is worse than before, and the lesson I've learned is that trying to fix small things always creates bigger problems and so you should probably just resign yourself to living with lots of small issues and pretend they don't exist as much as possible. Good lesson, right?

10 October 2013

maternity shopping

Confession: I continue to shop for maternity clothes, even though it's been 18 months since I gestated anything in my uterus. Despite not knowing whether there will ever be another occupant in there.

It's kind of weird.

When I was actually pregnant, I was hoping to not need to buy maternity clothes for as long as possible. And if I ended up needing them, I was hoping to buy clothes that could be worn at any stage throughout pregnancy or even when I was no longer pregnant. One size fits all.

I like the one size fits all approach in theory, partially because I feel like a lot of my values are sort of defined by the concept of frugality, which is another topic I'd maybe like to blog about. If my baby doesn't wake up from his nap, I could post 4 times on my blog in a single day potentially. This activity seems excessive, though, and goes against my sense of economy and moderation.

Maybe because I never felt incredibly successful in my maternity shopping pursuits when I was pregnant, I have perpetuated them. I guess I'm thinking that if I find good ones, I could wear them now! And wear them later, if I ever get pregnant again! Win win, right? But am I really fooling anyone? Maybe this stuff is obviously meant for women who are actually pregnant and isn't designed to flatter my current shape, and maybe it just looks silly.

Perhaps my biggest motivation for caring about maternity wear now, despite not actually being pregnant (can I overstate that? I am not pregnant.), is that it's pretty hard to look cute when pregnant. Or at least that was my experience. I felt pretty sickly during almost the entirety of my pregnancy, so feeling gross made it hard to not look gross. Also, I gained A LOT of weight. I still can't explain or account for the 70 pounds that should have been more like 27, but you can bet I looked fat. When I looked in the mirror, I didn't see me and I felt ugly. No one likes to feel ugly.

I guess I'm interested in stocking up the next time around, if there's a next time around, because it gives me a sense of control. Maybe if I have a few cute maternity tops, I'll be able to avoid everything that I wasn't able to avoid the first time. When I think about being pregnant and giving birth now, there's very little that I would not go back and change. I think there might have been genuinely good moments the first time, but all I remember now is feeling nauseous and depressed and helpless. Is it possible to have a really different experience next time? Maybe I'll sport a genuinely cute baby bump that doesn't misshape my face and turn me into a miserable mess. Cross my fingers. If I prepare now by building my maternity wardrobe slowly but surely, maybe I can avoid the failures of my nulliparous prenatal self.

Now let's talk about how to treat pregnancy-induced nausea.

organ art

The other day we went to an organ recital at the Cathedral of the Madeline, which is becoming a tradition or something.

It's pretty cool but not very baby-friendly so we left S. at home unattended. Joke. He actually hung out with his grandmother, who was home and not working for once!

Sometimes I kind of feel bad that we don't pursue the whole babysitting thing more often because I think it's good for all of us in some ways. Call it laziness, or call it not having a bunch of options that are both close and available, or call it helicopter parenting, you could be right. I think S. likes hanging out with other people though. He gets more attention usually and they think of ways to please him that I don't consider when we're hanging out 24/7 and I'm trying to do any number of any other things.

The organ festival is cool, but I have to be honest with you here: I've concluded that I don't understand art. Does that make me less human? Uncultured and unintelligent? I don't know if I fully appreciate the value of standing around museums or listening to an impressive organ player play something impressive on the organ. Maybe there are other things that resonate with me, but I am not sure if  the organ festival is my thing. I'm impressed with it objectively after once taking an organ class and attempting to coordinate my own hands and feet to play something musical, which I never really mastered. But I guess I kind of find it a little boring? I also find it a little enjoyable, at the same time, so it's okay that I've been attending for three years now. But I feel ashamed to admit it! Am I the most uncouth?

Facebook withdrawal

I'm currently Facebook fasting because sometimes Facebook is addictive and I think that I spent more time on Facebook than its true-to-life value. As withdrawals go, I imagine, the thought occurred to me to check Facebook frequently after I first deactivated my account. That thought is gradually decreasing, so maybe someday I'll have the wherewithal to Facebook without being compulsive about it, and also fasting increases your self-control (so I hear). In the meantime, I'm enjoying the freedom. Now if I could just stop working at my job, I would have no reason to ever get on the Internet, practically, and my liberation would be complete.

Why is social media sometimes addictive? Don't make me feel pathetic by telling me that I'm the only one who is somewhat compulsive about Facebook (or instead insert other form of social media here) usage, and let's just humor the possibility that I might be a normal human being for the sake of this blog post. I may actually be pretty normal, only I might be a little more willing to admit that I have issues and describe them to you in minute detail than most normal human beings? That's weird, right? Anyway, this social media addiction: it's a thing, right? Why is it even a thing? Husband, being the great person he is, was willing to honestly entertain the question and said something about an unceasing flow of new content, and I think there's definitely something to that.

Also, I realized that most of the people who I see updates from most often on Facebook are actually people I was only acquainted with back in high school, and these are people who I don't know if I could have called real-life friends, even then. I wish my real-life friends presented me with a constant stream of new content about their lives, but alas, they're probably too busy living their lives.

29 September 2013

women bodies, part 3

As was the inspiration for my last post about modesty, I read an interesting article shared on Facebook: this one's about pornography.

I don't really know much about porn, but I have been seriously wondering: Why isn't there more feminist agitation to change or eliminate pornography? How does pornography help improve equality and opportunity for women? Maybe no one is arguing that it does, and maybe it would be silly to, but it does seem like there is a broad swath of women who think that pornography is a normal, healthy sexual outlet for men, and even boys. Beyond being pernicious for its highly addictive nature, I don't get why so many people think pornography is okay, because disrespect to women seems like a pretty foundational and fundamental component of the industry. Aren't women just generally hurt by pornography?

It is frustrating to me that so many women who claim to be forward-thinking, self-respecting, and independent seem perfectly happy to participate in a very phallo-centric worldview of the nature of sex. I'm not expecting the whole world to agree with my moral code, but it does seem shocking that so many obviously anti-woman values reflected in the media and especially pornography are considered perfectly acceptable.

I'm just confused: can someone tell me why there isn't much of an anti-porn feminist movement? Not to diminish some of the heartfelt and honest movements that exist to improve things for women, but it's strange to me that there is so much emotion and effort going into some issues, and yet there is not a large collective, organized movement to at least combat the way sex is portrayed in the ginormous porn industry. Pornography seems like a much more glaring and obvious feminist problem to me.  

05 September 2013

women bodies, part 2

There have been a couple of articles going around Facebook lately about modesty. Seems like that's always somewhat of a hot topic, actually. In a way, that modesty is even a raging debate seems a bit odd, because it it really anyone's business what I'm wearing? In a way, I think I should be able to walk around naked without drawing any unwonted (and unwanted) attention. But believing that I can is simply naive. Such is the world we live in.

At the same time, I'm actually pleased that this debate rages on, and I am interested and invested in the larger conversation as a woman and (dare I label myself?) feminist. I think we all should think about how we talk to and about women.

I read an article that seems to have instigated the most recent debate, "FYI (If you're a teenage girl)", and while I didn't initially have as much of a response to it (either positive or negative) I got to thinking and decided I both disagree and agree with the overall message.

Allow me to indulge:

I agree that young women should be aware that the way they present themselves matters and that modesty can have a big impact on the way they are viewed. The way women dress can invite objectification and sexualization. That is unfortunate, because I don't think that any woman really wants to be a sexual object. If a woman dresses in a way that draws attention to her sexual features, it does not mean she wants to be raped, star in a porn film, or work as a prostitute. So please let's not assume that any woman desires these experiences based on a misguided appeal for, I assume, some genuine love and attention. Or maybe she just wants to look pretty for her own sake, simply to feel good? Or perhaps she's just trying, heaven forbid, to make it easier and more convenient to FEED HER BABY? (Blargh. That is another topic, perhaps.)

I also agree that young men are biologically programmed to be sexually stimulated by visual cues, which presents some difficulty in the whole attempt to avoid objectifying women. It's an unfortunate fact, but one that has to be acknowledged. The author of the "FYI" article seems to claim that a tasteless Facebook selfie automatically reduces young women to evil objects of lust. While the prevalence of social media can create some problems in forging a very limited identity based on one's digital footprint, I definitely think we're sending the wrong message to women when we essentially tell them that what men think about them and how men treat women are the woman's responsibility ultimately.

I understand the need for men, young and old alike, to exercise some vigilance in actively avoiding salacious material. But to cut off contact completely with anyone who presents themselves in an immodest manner seems also to be problematic. We are not movies to be turned off and on at will. It reinforces the idea that the most important thing about a woman is her body and how she chooses to present herself, and it also refuses to acknowledge the reality that despite vigilance, you are never going to be able to completely avoid exposure to titillating images. Such is the world we live in.

It's a given that young men, or men in general, are not subject to the same considerations when it comes to modesty. There are a lot of people who are upset that the blog post from the mother of teenage boys, in her message about protecting their virtue, included pictures of her sons in bathing suits. Apparently the irony that her boys could freely gallivant at the beach with nary a concern about anyone else's virtue was initially lost on her. I suppose it's a little ironic, though it also isn't. It makes sense. As I mentioned earlier, men are generally stimulated by visual cues. Such is the world we live in. And I think I'm not much amiss when I say that this is not a biological trait characteristic of women. Seeing a man expose himself may actually be one of the worst ways to attract me. (Am I right, ladies?) So we may call it a double standard, but maybe the way women and men dress are not analogous, and we should acknowledge there are different standards applying to each.

I think we do both men and women a disservice: we teach them both to view themselves and others as purely products of their biology. Men are entitled to pursue their sexual desires in whatever format offers the most instantaneous gratification, and women are taught to consider themselves only as far as men can see them.

It is tricky to send a balanced message to both sexes that doesn't reduce an individual to a single-faceted being. But I loved this article written in response the "FYI" article: "Seeing a woman: A conversation between a father and son." Both articles use the line, "You are more than that." The ultimate message we want to send in this conversation is that we are all human and we want to respect ourselves and each other as human beings. Though influenced by our biology, we are who we choose to be.

30 July 2013

ignorance about women bodies

Apparently a hot question right now is "Why does Kate Middleton still look pregnant?" It's possible some who ask the Internet this question wonder why the duchess doesn't act like a superhuman celebrity and have an insane body that doesn't follow the standard conventions of biology, but I think most people might just be ignorant.

I don't consider myself desperately ignorant, but I honestly did not know before I was pregnant that after commuting my spawn from fetus to newborn (surprise! a baby!), my weight would only regress about three months at first. I really didn't know!

And, honestly, I still know so few facts about women bodies. There is something very wrong-seeming about that. It might be just that my poor observation skills, as I'm sure I was exposed to hundreds of realistic postpartum figures even if not in my immediate household. But perhaps my attention was also drawn aside to more unrealistic models of womanliness as portrayed in the media I consumed. I don't know that I considered authenticity in those portrayals much at all before surrendering my body to pregnancy, birth, and my child's suckling lips. But these days I think about it a lot, and I wonder why there isn't more open and honest conversation about bodies and how they are made. 

I haven't really followed the press on Kate Middleton, but my impression is that she is authentic in the way she presents herself, unlike many other celebrities out there. It seems a shame that it takes more courage to be natural than to kill yourself (almost literally) to fit some crazy ideal that I'm not sure anyone, male or female, really believes in wholly.`Though we don't adopt such views wholesale, I imagine we all buy in to some degree. 

The older I get, the more I think that our bodies are way more interconnected with every other aspect of our lives than I ever imagined, especially women bodies. Since it's on my mind more these days, I feel like I'm slowly learning things that I really wish I had known and learned about a long, long time ago. And I just have to wonder: Why didn't I know?

Me, 7 days postpartum:

22 May 2013

comma or no comma? adjective edition

Sometimes I get the urge to do blog posts about grammar topics as a public service, but my explanations would be no better than more consecrated grammar resources, probably, so I don't. Today is an exception, my friends.

Right now I'm reading Grammar Girl's article "Commas with Adjectives." It can sometimes be a confusing question: Do I put commas between these adjectives or not?

To summarize Grammar Girl's article, you can determine whether a comma is needed by determining if the adjective is coordinating (comma needed) or cumulative (comma not needed). Can you put the word "and" between the two adjectives? Then they're coordinating, and they each equally modify the noun. Otherwise they are cumulative, and the order of the adjectives is important, as some of them join with the noun to form a sort of unit.

So in case you were wondering about this, but you wanted to read fewer paragraphs than Grammar Girl's article because you're feeling lazy (and who isn't?), maybe this blog post is useful.

21 May 2013

virtual pin: bedtime routine

Pinterest can't find anything pinnable, so I'll use my blog to keep this link tucked away for future use:


Cool customizable bedtime routine chart for toddlers!

03 April 2013

wardrobe musings

Spring is in the air, I guess, so I decided to go through my closet and I've now got an itch to refresh my wardrobe because I kind of hate everything in my closet. Recently, new wardrobe acquisitions have come from Savers and DI, but I find when I do that, I strike out maybe just as often as I succeed. In my discard pile are a few thrift-store finds purchased in the past six months or so. I think I want to buy clothes sometimes, like right now, but I also really hate the process. Shopping ends up being pretty unrewarding because I'm terrible at it. Plus I don't feel like I have the time and money and energy to do it.

I actually have one pair of pants that I got at Costco recently that ended up fitting surprisingly well, and I love them. I think it actually does improve my quality of life a little bit to have clothes that I feel fit well and look good. I'm not sure if the cost-benefit analysis proves promising, though.

About half of my tops, or maybe more, are currently out of commission: either they don't facilitate nursing or they're fancier and uncomfortable, and I'm lazy. I don't really wear anything unless I can pull down the neck to nurse. The hidden cost of pregnancy and nursing is clothes; I find myself wearing three stretchy Down East v-necks most of the time, and they are showing considerable wear. Where does one go to find reasonably fitted, low-cost, stretchy-neckline, resilient tops anyway?

Whatever, though. If I don't analyze it too much, I realize I'm fine wearing the same clothes multiple days in a row, and that's what I end up doing. As long as it's not (noticeably) stained or smelly, who cares.

04 February 2013

hair cut

I took the plunge and whacked off my hair. It is now shorter than I've ever had it.

Here it is:

Oh wait. That's Carey Mulligan. I showed this photo to the stylist cutting my hair, but I still looked pretty much like myself and not Carey at the end. What's up with that?

So here is a crappy web cam shot of me, really.

13 January 2013

after-hours phone duty

As you may or may not already know, we are "on call" for the funeral home on a rotating basis (sharing the responsibility with the other resident apartment couple). This evening I answered the phone and said "Deathtime [not actual name] Funeral Home; this is Amanda." In response, I heard "Hi. This is Grim Reaper [not actual name]." Pause.

This particular pause was a little too lengthy for me to just feel comfortable carrying on in anticipatory silence. What I should have done was say "Hi Grim, how can I help you?" But I, being me, can't do something NORMAL spontaneously. Of course not. So my response? A chipper "Hi!" Then another pause. I giggle awkwardly.

Finally, Grim cut straight to the chase with the reason for his call: "My wife just passed away." 

Clearly I do not know how to handle this job.


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