Monthly Archives: September 2010

The Baby Ate My Brain

I was smart at one point in my life.  I had a high IQ.  I could pass thermodynamic tests without studying.  I had a BS in mechanical engineering and was a senior design engineer.    I was confident in my problem solving ability. 

And then I got knocked up. 

People, I have reached the point where packing Roper’s diaper bag and showing up to meetings and appointments on the right day and (sometimes) the right time employs EVERY BRAIN CELL I HAVE.  That’s right, all three of them!

While I was pregnant I blamed my cloudy brain on the fact that I was getting only three hours of sleep a night.  But along with having soup-for-brains, I started having massive depressive episodes.  Then anxiety attacks.  And Sweet Fancy Moses, the CRYING.   I came to terms with the fact that Roper was a not-so-endearing fetus.  We simply didn’t get along.  But I assumed I would be back to normal after his birth.

It has been a year.  Clearly I am not back to normal. 

I can only write in simple sentences.  I can’t remember why I walked into a room.  I can no longer do advanced math in my head.  In fact, the only math I’m doing these days is adding up ounces of milk drank, number of dirty diapers changed, and days since Roper’s last bath.  And I have paralyzing anxiety attacks in the middle of the night over things like THE LETTUCE LEAVES WERE NO LONGER FLUFFY in the salad I served to a friend.  Seriously…commit me now. 

Roper is my world.   I can’t help but laugh every time he lays his huge, fanged grin on me, or when he holds both arms up to the sky as if to say “I am the victor of ALL.”  My heart just about explodes from the sweetness of his sleeping face burrowed in the corner of his crib, or the feel of him snuffling into my neck during a spontaneous hug.   However, THAT KID ATE MY BRAIN. 

Last night I met my friend Morgan at the Log Cabin in Entiat.  Morgan just published a new local cookbook titled Savoring Chelan that pairs local wines with fabulous recipes.   I’m wholly impressed with the final product and wanted to celebrate this huge feat with her.  Unfortunately, I had to bring the Howler Monkey, who is getting approximately fifty-seven teeth ALL AT THE SAME TIME.  And he’s not that happy about it.  Weird.

So there I am, feeding my child black olives that have already been thrown to the floor three times, then letting him scream wildly while he pushes a chair into the bar with one shoe on and the other sitting on the floor in the middle of the restaurant, and I’m wearing the same black sweatpants I’ve been wearing since I gave birth, the ones that have a giant hole in the crotch, and I JUST DON’T CARE.  About any of it.  Because caring would require thought process and consideration of consequences and repercussions, and my brain is no longer capable of that. 

I just want to hold up my end of an intelligent conversation.

I would call this state postpartum depression, but it started at conception and the kid is now over a year old.   A better description would be brain/identity deflation.  The depression and anxiety can suck balls (yes, I’m being treated – much to Tom Cruise’s disappointment) and I still can’t believe most people walk around freely in life without THAT sort of ginormous weight shackled to them.  But it’s the degradation of my brain that bothers me the most. 

What if I start staring blankly at people when they describe a simple meteorological event?  Or stop appreciating witty, intellectual humor?  What if I trade in Ayn Rand for Nora Roberts?  Or “reality” shows pique my interest more than biographies of Richard Feynman?   What if I start watching the local news and take it at face value? 

It’s already happening.  I feel the wall of stupid coming at me like a tidal wave.  THAT’S what should be keeping me up at night.  Not less-than-fluffy lettuce leaves.


Filed under Parenting, Roper

Book Review: Half the Sky

My book club just read another wonderful nonfiction book that I think everyone would do well to read.  Well, at least everyone in a first world country who thinks that giving up their daily “triple grande 140 degree no foam cinnamon dolce latte with caramel on the whip” is a sacrifice worthy of kudos and affirmations.   Yeah, YOU.   

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide is written by husband-and-wife team Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.   Theirs is a team who’s academic and professional achievements make me feel like THE BIGGEST SLACKER ON THE FACE OF THE EARTH.   When you read their bios you see a whole lot of Harvard, Pulitzer Prize, Rhodes Scholar, and New York Times attached to their names, not to mention passionate, compassionate, intelligent and empowering.   Powerful adjectives for powerful advocates who have spent time in the trenches.

The title of the book comes from an ancient Chinese proverb that says women hold up half the sky.  Kristof and WuDunn want that to be understood and appreciated — on the ground — in all corners of the world.  Female empowerment is one of the most effective tools for eradicating poverty and extremism. 

“In the nineteenth century, the central moral challenge was slavery,” the authors write in the book’s introduction. “In the twentieth century, it was the battle against totalitarianism.  We believe that in this century the paramount moral challenge will be the struggle for gender equality around the world.”

Kristof and WuDunn clearly consider women’s rights the moral issue of the 21st century and have racked up frequent flier miles reporting on the subject.  If they happen to call me up and ask me to design a t-shirt for them (you know, so they can travel to the ends of the earth in SUPER CUTE MATCHING TOPS) I would have to go with “Have Brains, Will Travel.”  Their passion has no boundary.

The book is a collection of essays and anecdotes, and is the authors’ call to action.   To be blunt, it’s a horrifying glimpse into the world of sex trafficking, maternal mortality, obstetric fistulas and acid attacks.  The heartbreaking portraits of  survivors humanize the issues and underscore the determination and perseverance needed to overcome the daily atrocities many women face in developing countries.  

Kristof and WuDunn want you to move past just being shocked or upset, and become engaged.   Their tactic combines practical and moral elements.  The authors note that many of the world’s most pressing issues like poverty and extremism can be alleviated at a comparatively low-cost by focusing on educating women and bringing them into the economy.  “We would never argue that the empowerment of women is a silver bullet, but it is an approach that offers a range of rewards that go far beyond simple justice,” they write in the book’s conclusion.  

At the end of the book, the authors include practical ways to aid women, including “Four Steps You Can Take in the Next Ten Minutes” as well as a comprehensive list of organizations that support women. 

While I appreciated almost every aspect of this book and their approach to both educating and rallying the masses of the developed world, I SUPER, EXTRA appreciated the fact that Kristof and WuDunn were not all puppy dogs and rainbows.  This is not an easy problem to solve.  They were very honest regarding the difficulties and complexities in changing the dismal situations their book illustrates. 

Kristof and WuDunn  describe buying two prostitutes out of slavery and their disheartenment in realizing that just freeing the women from the brothel wasn’t enough to overcome social conditions and rehabilitate them.  In fact, they continued on to write about several failures in applying first world solutions to third world iniquities. 

Gender inequality in developing nations is a messy and pervasive issue that needs your help.  So pick up a copy of Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide (support your local bookstore or library!) and then get busy making a microloan to a skilled woman, sponsoring a school girl, educating policy makers or browse and choose an action that’s meaningful to you.  You can even do it while drinking that ridiculously expensive coffee.  I did.

If you liked this post (or any posts on this blog), you can share it through email, Facebook, Twitter or any other venue on the dang ol’ internet.  You would earn my undying gratitude, as I am continually trying to grow this site.   Comments are always welcome.  Thanks for visiting!


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It’s been a rough couple of weeks.  We’re ready to put him out on the street corner like this.  Only, I might give him some Cheerios so he isn’t crying when people drive by.  That way, they’re more likely to take him home with them.


Filed under Parenting, Roper

Logs: They Suck.

The title of this blog should actually be “logs suck to work with, but they look really amazing once they’re in place.”  I love the finished product, but I hate the path that gets us there.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post about Toby and I felling a log to use as an accent on our shop.   I just put together a little photo essay on what became of that log and why it’s decidedly NOT my BFF.  However,  I realize my photo essay is sub par because it’s missing the pictures of the peeling, laying out and notching of the log.   Logs are not straight, they are not square, and they are not consistent.  They are like crazy celebrities who get to do whatever they want despite laws and common courtesy…just because they look good.  LOGS ARE DIVAS.

Most of the time-consuming and wholly unfun work was done by Toby while I was home sick.  Although on Friday – still sick – I had the “opportunity” to peel the Diva Log for a while and begrudgingly obliged (before going on strike early in the evening).   Toby insisted that this counted as a Date Night because we stopped by the taco wagon on the way up to the property.  I’m still not clear on it, but I think it was the fact that I didn’t have to pay for my $4 taco plate that made it a date.  It certainly wasn’t the shrieking child or the log peeling. 

Anyhoo…love those logs!

OH!  I forgot to mention that after the day it took to acquire the Diva Log and the several evenings of peeling the Diva Log, Toby deemed it unfit for use on the shop.  It’s horribly scarred from a fire and has some spots of rot (too much partying).  He told me this over the phone while I was home with a sick and unhappy child.  People, I CRACKED!  I immediately burst into tears and announced that I could no longer be a single mother while he’s up there working with divas that won’t perform.

I don’t know if it was my river of tears or his own exhaustion that wore him down, but that log went on the building last night.  Check out the photo essay right HERE.


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Sick Bay

So, this cold wouldn’t be so bad if I didn’t WET MY PANTS every time I had a coughing fit.  For crying out loud, I need to get me some dang ol’ Depends before things get too embarrassing (because announcing to the internet that I’m incontinent isn’t embarrassing AT ALL.)

Apparently, I live my life in denial and then reality explodes in my face like a short-wicked firecracker.  This is the inner dialogue that occurs when I start to get sick:  I couldn’t possibly be getting sick.  It’s just a sore throat.  Maybe it’s allergies.  The cough will probably only last a day.  At least no one else in the house is getting sick.  Maybe Roper is just teething.  Maybe Toby is just teething.   Sleep is for wussies anyway.   Holy crap, we’re all going to die and everyone is going to see the DISASTROUS CONDITION OF MY HOUSE!

And I then I have to put on my best underwear (Not too trashy, not too juvenile.  Something with a bit of class) just in case I DO die.  I don’t want people talking….

So we’re all sick.  I tried to play Jedi mind tricks on the bug, but it got all Yoda on my arse and I’m left sitting in a cloud of used Kleenex.   I feel like maybe I should bring the people in the neighboring apartment some flowers, or a bottle booze (are first-born sons still fair trade?  Hmmmm) since they had to listen to Roper screech all night.  And then they had to listen to Toby and I call him, and each other, creatively inappropriate names while we stumbled around in the dark trying to MAKE THE NOISE STOP.

Good times. 

I needed to complete a couple of jobs by the end of the day so I had to access my last three functioning brain cells to accomplish those tasks. You know, the three brain cells that have been in hiding ever since I tried to drink them to death in college?  Yeah, THOSE.  I’m guessing not one bit of my work will make sense once I’ve weaned myself off of the cough syrup, but I feel I can quit for the day with a clear conscious.  If you need anything, Roper and I will be holed up in bed, sharing popsicles and Kleenex, waiting for Toby to come home and join the party.


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Every dad has a few sayings that they’re known for, and my dad is no exception.  I love knowing exactly what he’s going to say in any given situation.  It’s comforting…and comical.  The following is a list of my favorite Dad-isms.  Only, he’ll usually add “Moodle” to the end of each phrase because that’s what he calls me.  And for all of you smarty-pants readers who think it’ll be sooooo outrageous and funny to call me Moodle – go for it.  I’m sorry to report that I probably won’t notice because it’s what I’ve been called for the past THIRTY-SIX YEARS.  I’ve only recently trained myself to respond to “Molly.” 

“Cute as hell”:  This phrase is used after someone has described something – ANYTHING — as cute.  He often repeats it.  Me: Wasn’t that a cute movie dad?  Dad: Cute as hell.   Me:  Cute top!  Dad:  Cute as hell.   Me:  Awww, Roper is so cute!  Dad:  Cute as hell, Moodle, cute as hell.

“You’ll be a star”:  This phrase is used whenever you’re about to do something big like go off to college or take an important exam, and maybe you’re a little worried about it.  Dad is always there to tell you that you’ll be a star.

“It will all come out in the wash”:  Sometimes you AREN’T a star and you really screw up.  That’s when Dad pulls this one out of his hat.  Failed a test?  In Dad’s world, it’s like a stain on your shirt.  Gone after the next wash!

“Things have a way of working out”:  Ok, maybe it didn’t come out in the wash.  Maybe that failed test is getting you kicked out of school.  Don’t worry, things have a way of working out.   You were probably meant for other things, like begging on the street corner.

“Weirder than skaditch”:  I think this one came from dad’s favorite radio hosts, Robin and Maynard.  It’s similar to “cute as hell” but used whenever something is described as weird.  That lady selling fake crystals on the corner with her hairless cat at her feet?  She’s weirder than skaditch.  I don’t know what skaditch is, but it’s pretty weird.

“Isn’t that nice”:  This is Dad’s standard reaction when opening a present.   He opens it, holds it up, smiles and announces “isn’t that nice.”  You give him a tie, isn’t that nice.  You give him a car, isn’t that nice.  You give him a turd wrapped in a moldy piece of bologna, ISN’T THAT NICE.  Still smiling.

“Super”:  This is Dad’s favorite response on the phone.  Me:  I got a promotion!  Dad:  Super.   Me:  I’m doing chores.  Dad:  Super.  Me:  My head fell off, rolled down the alley and a rabid raccoon played soccer with it for two hours before eating my eyeballs out of their sockets.  Dad:  Super.


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A Very Good Year

Dear Roper,

Or should I just call you Brutus?  Son, you are a tank!  I think you might be made of lead.  And you don’t go around things, you go through them.  With authority.    Anyway, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!   At 8:28 p.m. you turn one year old.

You have always been strong.   My first glimpse of you was a grey, lifeless form slung over the doctor’s forearm.   During resuscitation, your lung popped and I was told you were very, very sick, (as I sat there alone, stranded in bed, not able to go to you.  NIGHTMARE!) but I never once questioned your ability to heal.  Five days later, a doctor said “That’s God’s work,” as he pointed out the closed hole in your lung on an x-ray.   You’ve been amazing us ever since.

You were able to hold your head up from the day you were born and you’ve just been getting stronger.    Now that I look back on it, you haven’t changed much.  You’ve always been headstrong, physically strong and impossibly entertaining.

Roper, it has been an honor to watch you grow, change and learn over this past year.   I’ve never had a hard time writing these letters to you.  I can usually bang one out with my first cup of coffee, knowing I was telling you exactly what I wanted to tell you.  But this time, I’m struggling.  I can’t believe you’re no longer a baby.  You’ll always be MY baby, but you’re a full-blown toddler to the rest of the world.  And I can’t wrap my head around that. 

I am one of those people who have to force myself to sit and marinate in the moment.  My mind constantly jumps to the future (without my permission) and I envision you getting your first bike, starting kindergarten,  borrowing the car, going away to college, falling in love, getting married, having your own baby and then PAWNING THAT BABY OFF ON ME to babysit.   You just went from adorable, chubby cheeked, squealing baby to making me a Grandma in two seconds flat.  And you should feel very bad about that because now I’m crying.  Take it slow, Little Bear.  Your mama’s having a hard time with this.

This month you had a lot of firsts.  Your first word was “NO,” said often, and with great emphasis.   You sign “more” and “hungry.”   You made your first international trip.  OK, it was only Canada which is kind of like going to Idaho, but you went through a border crossing so it counts for something!    You stand up in the middle of the room without any help, hold your hands out to your “audience” and give mighty orations.  You’ve taken your first step…although I think you might wait a bit on actually walking.  Crawling is so much faster! 

You ‘high five’ people on command and run away from me when you know you’re in trouble.  When you get upset you use a high-pitched scream that will one day be famous for shattering all of the windows in this apartment complex.  Then, THEN, you step it up a notch and make a noise that sounds like three cats being torn to pieces by a coyote.  And it makes me laugh because it is quite possibly the weirdest noise I’ve ever heard a child make.   Theatrics at its finest.

You love music.  LOVE.  When we crank up the tunes, you totally party.   If we’re listening to live music you go ballistic, shrieking and clapping at the end of songs.   I keep expecting you to throw your diaper on the stage.   You have “roadie” written all over you, kid. 

Each morning I’m curious about what you’re going to bring to the table that day.  You definitely keep me on my toes.   When I give you your Cheerios you like to go into Downward Facing Dog position and eat them while balancing on your head.  That, or you just dump them over your head while squawking.   At the property, you cruise around in your walker/saucer looking for the narrowest corridor to navigate through and then practice your 17-point turn trying to get out of tight spots.  In everything you do, you provide great entertainment.  I’m getting less work done because it’s so fascinating to watch you.

Roper, I can’t tell you in words how much I love you.  I only hope that you will see it through my actions, my constant presence, the smile on my face and the fact that I haven’t killed you.   You have stretched my heart, and taught me what is important in life.  Thank you for such an amazing year!  On that note, I would like to offer you a ONE YEAR contract.  Let’s see where this thing takes us. 


Your Mama

If you liked this post (or any posts on this blog), you can share it through email, Facebook, Twitter or any other venue on the dang ol’ internet.  You would earn my undying gratitude, as I am continually trying to grow this site.   Comments are always welcome.  Thanks for visiting!


Filed under Letters to Roper, Roper