Monthly Archives: February 2009

Mardi Gras


Shea in PJs wondering what the heck is going on

I love my street. I’ve recently become friends with our neighbors who have a newborn baby and who have lived here for just about a year and we are planning to organize the first block party in many years. I’ve wanted to do this on my own, but didn’t have the time/energy, but now that I have someone to plan it with, I’m motivated.

Then a few days ago, our neighbor down the street circulated a flier that she was organizing a Mardi Gras celebration for our street. She hired a banjo player and a trumpetist, bought buckets of beads, flashing light toys and noisemakers and had people meet in front of her house at 7 p.m. Everyone wore funny hats and put on their beads and then we paraded up and down the sidewalks. It was just an hour-long ordeal, but I got the chance to meet many of our neighbors, got the skinny on past block parties, heard one woman commit to distributing a map and phone list to everyone on the street so we can check on each other in case of an earthquake and met a couple potential babysitters. It’s so strange to me that I’ve lived her for 4.5 years and only know a handful of my neighbors. Some of them have been here for 40+ years. Anyway, now I know people in about 14 houses, which is about half of our street, and I’m looking forward to meeting the rest at the block party.


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Triangle of Death?


I woke up at 12 hungry and haven’t been able to get back to sleep (it’s not 3:20). I read for a couple of hours, then decided to research some earthquake information a neighbor told me about at our block-long Mardi Gras celebration tonight (more about that in a separate post). She told me about “the triangle of life,” a method advocated by a guy named Doug Copp that states that instead of following the “drop, cover and hold on” method taught by FEMA and the American Red Cross, you should get down next to a heavy object (like a table, sofa, piano, car, etc.) and stay there because when the roof falls onto the object and crushes it, a space will be left NEXT to the object (but if you’re under it, you could get crushed). According to SNOPES, Wikipedia, a rebuttal from the Red Cross and another article I read, you should STICK WITH DROP, COVER and HOLD ON and ignore this guy Copp. The reasons are that: 1) his experiment was in Turkey, where building codes are different. 2) It’s rare for buildings to collapse at all, let alone do a clean “pancake” collapse. 3) he doesn’t take into account that the large, heavy object you may be lying next to could roll or fall on top of you if the building tilts. If you’re in bed, you should stay in bed and use your pillow to protect your head and neck. If you’re indoors, you should stay indoors because most injuries are caused by people moving around their homes and trying to get outside. My biggest worry, of course, is getting to Shea. I worry that the earthquake will be too strong to make it down the hall, but his bed is not near a window, there’s nothing hanging over any of our beds, and his bookcase is anchored to the wall. There’s not much more we can do. Every few months I get obsessed about earthquakes. In fact, I have a stack of larger clothes for Shea that I need to swap into the disaster bins. And I need to replace the water bottles that have been sitting out there for at least a year now. Meeting with our neighbors tonight, we made a plan to circulate a map of who lives in which homes and what their phone numbers are, etc. Sadly, I don’t even know everyone who lives on my one-block-long street.

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Shea/English Dictionary


Ga – cracker (origin Spanish, “galleta”)
Shuh – cereal/Cheerios
Ka Ka – duck (origin Spanish “cua cua,” English “quack quack” and French “canard”)
Woo woo – dog
Chat (shah) with ASL accompaniment – cat (origin French)
Shoe – shoe (from the French “chaussure” and English “shoe”)
Shet – sock (from the French “chaussette”)
Nana – no no
Ba? Ba? (with ASL to distinguish it from “Ba!”) – Bath? Bath?
Ba! – Ball!
Ha ha! – hot (also with ASL accompaniment)
Ba bye – Good bye
Bahn (while pointing index fingers in a V) – banana

ASL only:
Clapping hands – more
Clapping hands without touching them together – all done
Opening and closing fists – milk
Opening mouth and touching his teeth with his index finger – I want my toothbrush
Open fingers against open mouth – water
Closed fingers against open mouth – food

Shea’s three favorite things in life are toothbrushes, balls and crackers. A couple nights ago, while we were putting his pajamas on, Shea discovered that there are pictures of balls on his pajamas (I hate sports and only bought them because they were the only ones available in his size). “Ba!” he said, pointing to his leg. “Ba!” he said, pointing to his knee. “Ba!” he said, pointing to his other leg, which gave us the opportunity to point out the balls in all his ticklish spots until he was giggling and mimicking us, “Ba ba ba ba!” Ah, the simple pleasures in life.


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Oh screw it, I need to vent

Okay, forget the hiatus. Why I haven’t been blogging lately? I’m pregnant, and that’s all that’s really been on my mind for the past seven weeks. I was going to wait until after my 13-week-appt to blog about it, but instead I’ll just ask this—those of you on Facebook, PLEASE don’t mention this yet. I’m just not ready. (This blog is supposed to be linked to Facebook, but so far I’ve never seen it show up. Hopefully it won’t this time!)

So, it’s been a rollercoaster. I’ve definitely felt sicker than the first time around, but I think that’s largely psychological. Taking care of a toddler all day makes it hard to distract myself the way I could with Shea. Last time I was swimming laps at the beautiful outdoor El Cerrito pool until I was six months pregnant. I was doing elliptical. I climbed until I was 20 weeks. I hiked in Yosemite (and broke my wrist) when I was six months pregnant. I had lots of distractions. This time, I am either at the Grotto or stuck home with Shea all day and either way, I feel awful. I feel tired, nauseated, and sometimes depressed. (I never felt depressed during my first pregnancy! I was so happy all the time!) My typical day at the Grotto lately has been to get there around 11 (later than usual), sleep on the couch in my office until 1 or 1:30, eat lunch, work for an hour and a half and come home. And I’m thinking, “I’m paying for rent, a BART ticket, lunch and eight hours of nanny time to write for ONE or TWO hours? What a waste.” I could write at home, but then I risk losing my office, because I only go in two days per week as it is. On the days I go running, I feel 200% better, but it’s so hard to get motivated to run. Tuesday I came down with a cold and it was raining, so running was out. Today I had my running clothes on and was ready to go with Shea in the stroller when my stomach started doing flip-flops. In the end, I didn’t feel well enough to go. (I threw up twice this past week, by the way, something that never happened with Shea.)

This past weekend I went to Vermont for my nephew’s wedding and had SO MUCH FUN. I thought for sure I’d miss Shea like crazy because I look so forward to seeing him when he gets up every morning and when I get home from work at night. But, I hate to say it, I didn’t miss him AT ALL (and I didn’t feel sick at all, either). Not that I don’t love him to death, but I’ve had 14 mos (today) without a break—never more than an afternoon or an evening away from him—and it was heavenly to be on my own. That first night I got to the airport two hours before my sister, so I picked up the rental and drove into downtown Burlington. It was so wonderful to drive alone without reaching back every five minutes to give Shea a cracker and without being on my way to run an errand to buy diapers or food for his dinner or return a sweater that’s too small for him. I skied all three days (heavenly again) and had a great time at the pre-party and the wedding (even though I couldn’t drink). All I could think was, “I need to do this more often!” (Shea, for some reason, won’t say, “Mama” or “Dada” or “Papa” even though he says and signs many other words. I think if he could say, “Mama” or show SOME sign that he knows I’m his mother and that he doesn’t want me to leave, I would have missed him more. When I leave the house, for example, he just waves and says, “Bye bye!” I guess that means, at least, that he’s happy with Martin and our nanny, Dolores.)

Speaking of drinking, that’s will make three and a half years that I’ll have barely had a drink–nine mos pregnant with Shea, one year of breastfeeding, instantly pregnant again and another 1y9mos to go! Not that I didn’t have any wine while pregnant or breastfeeding, but never more than a glass at a time.

So yes, it was planned. Planned too well, Martin says, because he was looking forward to months of “trying” and it happened the very first time. (They say you’re more fertile after having a baby).

So lately I feel like a big fat sloth (although I’ve gained only three pounds so far and am still wearing my regular clothes, unlike last time when I’d gained eight by now). All I do is eat and sleep. I’m not getting any writing done, and I HAVE to get this revision done before the end of my second trimester. (My dream date was end of Feb, but now I’m just trying to get through this nausea before I really begin.) So I feel crappy that I’m not writing, that my book has been sitting almost untouched since Nov. (Although I’m reading a great book that will help me tremendously with my plot problems—Story” by John McKee.) I feel crappy that we’re forking out so much money for a nanny every week and I’m barely making any myself because my main student keeps canceling on me (argh), and I don’t have a cancellation policy in place with him.

I also feel crappy that I’m not exercising, and I’m going to try to get motivated to do some yoga and/or run tomorrow. It’s a vicious cycle because the less I do, the more tired I feel and the less I want to do.

Other things on my mind—how we’re going to pay to convert the garage to an office so we can convert the office to a baby room with the economy the way it is. I’m not TERRIBLY stressed about this because we can always put both of them in the same room, and keep the baby in our room for the first several months. But still, would be nice if they had separate rooms.

Something else on my mind lately (I know, this is the extreme of nesting, worrying this far ahead) is what we’re going to do about school. I’m looking into preschools for Shea now (for 2010) and worrying about grade school already. Our choices: 1) Catholic school (not thrilled about that) for $7k/year (well, will probably be much higher in four years)/ 2) Private school like the French school (Ecole Bilingue) or Redwood Day School: $17-18.5k/yr; 3) Apply to get into Albany Public Schools—not the best ever, but very good with a 9 overall rating (equivalent to West Bloomfield in MI); 4) Move. Moving depresses me because, of the areas with schools rated 10, Piedmont is the only place I’d want to live (the other choices are Fremont, Moraga, San Ramon, Lafayette—basically out near where Martin’s mom lives or down where I used to work at the newspaper), and a smallish three-bedroom house in Piedmont starts at $1 million. I’m probably stressing too early about this stuff, but this is what I do when I’m lying in bed at 4 a.m. after having my nightly grilled cheese because I couldn’t sleep from the nausea.

Meanwhile, I hope my stomach/energy level/mood improves soon because right now I’m thinking about baby number two and wondering, “What were we thinking?” I DO know what we were thinking. We were thinking if we don’t get a move on, I’ll be having babies in my 40s, which I didn’t want to do. We knew we didn’t have much time, and if we wanted two, we’d have to have them pretty close together. We also thought it would be nice for them to be close in age so they can play together (ie babysit each other) and be friends. The way the due dates fell, they’ll be just one year apart in school. But part of me wonders if we’re insane. In fact, a friend whose kids are three years apart told me today, “Your life will be hell for two years, but then it will be better because they’ll be close in age.” “Your life will be hell for two years” was NOT what I needed to hear! I like talking to the people who say, “It’s actually easier having two than one once they’re old enough to play together because you’ll no longer be their sole source of entertainment.” I LOVE those people!

Meanwhile, with Martin out of town this week, it’s been challenging taking care of Shea when I want to vomit. Today he didn’t take a nap (maybe 20-30 mins all day) and was SO fussy as a result. He wanted me to pick him up constantly, and my back was aching and my stomach sick from lifting him so many times. I tried several times to get him to sleep, but he’d just drink half his milk and then spray the rest all over his crib and the wall. He wouldn’t eat lunch or dinner (instead threw his food on the floor and said, “Nana” and attempted the “no” sign in sign language. I wasn’t sure whether to scold him or congratulate him that he learned how to say, “No” and that he knew what he was doing was wrong.) He screamed our entire ride back from Walnut Creek until I finally couldn’t take it anymore and screamed back. I didn’t scream AT him, just made a loud “Om”-style “AHHHHHH” noise, which quieted him for a minute before he started screaming again. It was just one of those days that made me think we have to quit swimming class because I can’t ever risk him not taking his 2-3-hour nap again. It also made me wonder, again, “How the f— am I going to handle two? No wonder parents of big families are all alcoholics.”

I have lots of photos to post—ones of Shea, ones from the wedding in Vermont. I’m just too tired/frazzled/behind schedule to download and upload photos right now. I am interviewing someone tomorrow and need to figure out how to use my new iPod to record her, and just have so many other things to do (like buy diapers in the morning, since I’m down to zero) that out-prioritize blogging and posting pictures. Anyway, will try to blog more once I get my energy back. And will post pictures then, too. I also want to buy a real video camera. Shea is walking like crazy, and the videos we take with our little Canon Elphs are pretty grainy. For all my complaints about him, he’s at a really fun age where I can chase him around the house and tickle him until he’s screeching with laughter. Pretty cute. Maybe I’ll keep him after all.


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Short and Sweet

I have a lot to say, but am taking a blog hiatus for two more weeks. I hope that didn’t put you to sleep, RJ.

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