Monday, June 28, 2010

Tough Times

It's been a hell of a week.

Starting last Tuesday I had a conference downtown - one of the two conferences that my group attends each year. I hadn't gone to the other back in January because it's in Vegas and being a five-hour drive away just doesn't jibe with the small person who sucks on my parts for food and stuff. I had spent last year's January conference roaming around Sin City eight weeks pregnant and trying to hide it from my colleagues by ordering "vodka cranberry" (AKA cranberry juice) while at dinner and fruitlessly trying to suck in my expanding waistline. I spent this year's at home nursing. Time flies.

This year was my first chance to attend the June conference - usually it's in New York, and only a select group flies to Manhattan to attend. I'm not swanky enough to be among those select few (phew), so I stay behind and hold down the fort. However, this year it was moved to good ol' sunshiney Los Angeles, just a stone's throw, a metro ride, and a traffic jam from home. Hot diggety! Conference, here I come!

And go I did, on Tuesday evening and Wednesday, while my sweet husband put the baby to bed and took him to school the next morning. I was planning to go Thursday too, and to ride the subway downtown like a fancy workin' girl (not the hooker kind either - the LEGIT kind). But alas, it was not to be.

For starters, on Tuesday my knee went out. I have a bad knee from playing tennis and running track in high school (I was a jumper, so I blame those damn hurdles), which makes me sound impressively athletic, which I am most certainly not. The fact is that my half-hearted high school sports experiences left me with little more than a crap knee that mysteriously gives out about once every few years. On this particular occasion, I think I'd twisted it while heaving Carter's 7,000 pound carseat into the car. Regardless, I hobbled into the office on Tuesday, determined not to let my gimpiness stand in the way of my fancy conference cocktail party that night. Then, Wednesday morning I awoke with a tickle in my throat. CURSES. The day was spent limping and sniffling my way around the convention center. But I would power through! I am a dedicated employee!

Then the real trouble began. On Thursday morning, Carter felt warm. The rectal thermometer read 102.1. Eeek. Bye bye, conference.

We gave him infant Advil, struggling to get the syringe in his mouth but finally managing. Then he vomited. He ate breakfast, and we tried Advil again. More vomit. My husband went to work, and I tried yet again with the Advil several hours later. It went down easily, and I felt like a baby-healing savant. Ten minutes later I was carrying him down the hallway and silently congratulating myself on my level-headed display of general awesomeness when BLORP! Projectile vomit. All over me. All over the hallway. I just stood there, aghast. And then BLOOOOOOOOORRRRP! More. And BLLLLLLOOOOOOORPPPP!!!! Yet again. After the blorping concluded, we were both silent and still - me, jaw agape, dripping in stink and standing in soggy carpet, and Carter, staring blankly. Poor sick baby. I called my husband ("Now. Come home NOW."), then stripped us both down and gave the little Roo a quick bath.

The afternoon did not improve - after three vomited doses of Advil, we weren't certain how much he'd retained and were thus nervous to give him any more before the requisite 6 hour waiting period. So there I was, helpless, as his temperature crept slowly up to 104.1 and he slept all day, waking only to sob weakly, flop around limply, and scream bloody murder whenever I attempted to lay him in his crib. My husband had to return to the office, but fortunately my wonderful mother-in-law spent the afternoon with us and we took turns holding the hot little slumbering patient until a final dose knocked the fever out for the evening.

By the next day, his temp was lower but the occasional blorp remained. His appetite for solids was nil and his interest in nursing was low. Then, by Saturday both the fever and vomiting were gone but were replaced by sniffles and coughing. It seems that my poor little Roo progressed straight from stomach flu to Mommy's cold.

Now, six days after the onset of the chaos, we are finally somewhat healthy. My cold is gone and Carter's has been reduced to a residual sniffle (although he blorped after his last bottle at school today - OY!). My knee no longer hurts, and instead just makes a disconcerting popping sound with each step. I'm back in the office, the RooRoo is back in daycare, and life is returning to normal.

In short, it was a hell of a week.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Happy (belated!) Father's Day the greatest daddy in the whole wide world.

We love you so much.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Score One For the Veggies

I am a wayward vegetarian. It's a cause and lifestyle that I strongly believe in, though not in the annoying, preachy, self-righteous way of some of my meat-eschewing counterparts. You know, the kind who would throw rocks at me for refusing to give up my Thanksgiving turkey, despite eating vegetarian for the 364 other days of the year (okay, except for the periodical sushi-eating cheating). Case in point - I met a vegan at a party a few years ago, and exclaimed "Hooray! Yeah, vegans!!" She looked at me like I'd suddenly become interesting and asked "Oh, are you vegan?" My response was something along the lines of "No, but I eat vegan Monday-Friday." (Hey, every little bit counts, people!) Her eyes narrowed, she gave a brief, derisive chuckle and looked away. End of conversation. Charmer, huh?

Although I pore over vegan blogs and research vegan recipes (that I most likely will never cook) with a fanatical zeal, I seem to have trouble committing completely these days. Before I became pregnant, I had been a devoted vegetarian for a solid year, and a 90% vegetarian for several years prior. My reasons are primarily environmental - once I started reading about the eco benefits of vegetarianism, there was no turning back. However, I also happen to believe that you do NOT need to give up meat entirely to benefit the planet - according to environmental organizations, if every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and substituted vegetarian foods instead, the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than a half-million cars off U.S. roads. In other words, a big benefit for a small sacrifice. Okay, I'm off my soapbox.

I had a meat-free pregnancy until the third trimester, when I developed a wicked, undeniable craving for turkey burgers and vanilla malts, and who was I to deny my fetus its burgers? Since Carter's birth, it's been tough to kick the habit in favor of my old meatless ways, mainly because it takes some meal-planning savvy to be sure I get enough protein as a vegetarian, and I was in no position to meal plan in my chaos of postpartum hormones. However, for the past few months I've finally been getting back in the tofu-tempeh-lentil habit.

So it was with great dismay that at our past two pediatrician appointments, the doctor repeatedly insisted that we start feeding Carter meat. "He needs the iron" he said. Now, this isn't our regular pediatrician - she's out on maternity leave - so automatically I am skeptical. However, I wanted to give the guy the benefit of the doubt, so I did a little research (stats are from Wholesome Baby Food, AKA my bible):

Turkey (200 grams - a bit over 1 cup roasted leg meat)
Vitamin A - 0 mg
Vitamin C - 0
Vitamin B1 (thiamine) - .12 mg
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) - .48 mg
Niacin - 7.1 mg
Folate - 18 mcg

Potassium - 560 mg
Phosphorus - 398 mg
Magnesium - 46 mg
Calcium - 64 mg
Sodium - 154 mg
Iron - 4.6 mg


LENTILS (one cup - cooked)

Vitamin A - 16 IU
Vitamin C - 3 mg
Niacin - 2 mg
Folate - 358 mcg
Thiamin - .3 mg
Riboflavin - .14 mg

Potassium - 731 mg
Sodium - 12 mg
Calcium - 38 mg
Phosphorus - 356 mg
Magnesium - 71 mg
Iron - 6.5 mg

WOWZA! Look at all that iron in a serving of LENTILS. Far more than in the same approximate serving size of turkey. Perhaps I will print this out for reference at our ten-month visit with the good doctor, because evidently he needs a Nutrition 101 refresher.

Despite my veggie iron triumph, I still decided to give Carter meat last weekend. I don't actually intend to raise a vegetarian child, but prefer instead to serve meat as an occasional supplement to his diet - a treat, per se - not the main course. So I went to good ol' Whole Foods and bought organic dark meat ground turkey (apparently dark meat is higher in fat and iron than white meat, making it good for babies) and sauteed it in organic extra virgin olive oil (in case you hadn't noticed, "organic" is a big keyword for me). Then I pureed it, added it to an organic red lentil/garlic kale puree, mixed it all with melted organic monterey jack cheese and served it to the Roo for dinner that night.

The verdict? It was a hit. And even though I am a wayward, noncommittal vegetarian, I found it surprisingly bittersweet to give my baby meat. But until there comes a day that he decides to abstain from meat on his own, I'll let the boy have his turkey occasionally.

But the lentils reign supreme.

Friday, June 4, 2010

On Girlhood and Grandmas

I grew up in Northern California, in a lush land of wine-tasting, vineyard-hopping, Chanel-shopping yuppies and pot-smoking, granola-eating, Birk-wearing hippies juxtaposed together in an odd culture-clash mish-mash. I was raised in a big, messy house perched on a hill on five acres in the forest - thus, the name of this blog. My parents left San Francisco in the late '70s in search of a quieter world in which to raise their brood, and they settled in my hometown with the intention of growing grapes. The grapes never materialized, but they did manage to take a drafty six-room hunting cabin, add another wing, a second floor and a carport, and proceed to cram it with an overwhelming amount of books, furniture and knick-knacks.

My parents are master packrats, so more house simply meant more space in which to store the random objects that they couldn't seem to part with. Thus, I grew up in a world of STUFF - vast stacks of ancient, decaying magazines perched precariously in corners, long-expired coupons gathering dust in kitchen drawers, and tattered, discarded clothing perpetually threatening to burst out of jammed closets. My brothers also inherited this Mad Professor-like quality, as evidenced by their bedroom, with its colossal heaps of old toys, comics, and school papers circa 1992.

I, however, reside firmly at the other end of the tidiness spectrum, and seem to possess the sole neatnik gene in the family. Case in point: if I was ever upset as a child, I would lock myself in my bedroom and rearrange my furniture. Ahhhh, sweet relief... Coupled with the suspicious absence of baby photos, this distinction between my brothers and me provides irrefutable evidence to support my long-held belief that 1) I was found on my parents' doorstep in a basket, having been abandoned by well-organized gypsies, or 2) I am the (Type A) postman's child. Just kidding, mom.

General messiness notwithstanding, my childhood was spent amidst piles of home-improvement rubble, as our remodeled house was a perpetual construction zone - the sounds of the table saw echoing from the carport as my father chopped, cut, and nailed his way into his dream home, which my mother raced around attempting to keep the three of us out of harm's way. Her efforts weren't always successful - there was the time when Jason stepped on a board and a rusty nail plunged straight through his shoe into his foot. Or when Brandon cracked his head open when he slipped on the pre-carpet cement floors. But overall we emerged relatively unscathed, due either to incredible good fortune or to my mother's watchful eye, or to some combination therein.

Having spent the better part of her life wrangling three children into (fairly) well-functioning adults, one would think that taking care of an infant would be old hat for my mother. After all, when I was born she had three children under the age of five, my father never changed a diaper, and she lived to tell the tale. Certainly these child-rearing skills would magically come flowing right back when charged with caring for her grandson, right?

Not so.

I have learned that there is something about becoming a grandma that addles the brains of even the most top-notch mommies. It's like all the years of baby knowledge drip out their ears and are replaced with a surplus of googly-eyed smiles and incessant cooing. For whenever my mother has visited and I've left Carter at home with her for a few days, I've called to discover bottles undrunk, naps untaken, and meticulous schedules unfollowed. Any complaint from me illicits only a bemused chuckle and singsong "Uh-oh...Mommy's mad at us!!" on the other end of the line.

There are the domestic crimes committed, like the time when she washed my husband's dry-clean-only suit pants (the excuse - "I thought they were yours!" Um, HUH??), or, the most recent infraction committed during her visit last week: a super-helpful attempt to wash my cloth diapers (despite my repeated pleadings to refrain until I got home), which resulted in good ol' Grandma placing the entire filthy poo-stained bundle IN THE DRYER INSTEAD OF THE WASHER. Justification? "Well, at home my washer is on the left, so I was on autopilot."

Cue ranting, profanity-laced telephone tirade from yours truly, stuck at work with a dryer full of crap, and subsequent bleach scrubdown upon return home.

Despite these fury-inducing moments, my mother's recent visit was still lovely and all too brief. Carter loves his grandma and had a smashing good time showing off for her - gnawing on his blocks with his FOUR (!!) teeth, ripping apart magazines and pulling all the books off the shelves, one by one. And even though she's disorganized, occasionally drives me to drink and is no longer allowed anywhere near my appliances, my mother is simply wonderful.