New, and Hugely, Vastly, and Incomparably Improved

When we were little, my sister and I used to make birthday cards for our relatives. We took a sheet of white paper, folded it in half, and she would illustrate the front and the inside cover. Then, I would write the message on the inside, right-hand side of the card.

Even as a kid, my sister was an incredible artist. I, however, was not. To say drawing stick figures proved an insurmountable challenge for me was to put it mildly. Luckily, there are those out there with an artisitc eye and a talent for design to lend a hand to those of us for whom fingerpainting time in kindergarten led to years of intensive therapy.

Thank you, Lisanne, for designing my new blog! You did an amazing job.

And thank you, Shannon, for sending me her way.

I'm so excited to blog now, and I have a bunch of new posts already started, including my follow-ups to this one. My mom paid a surprise visit this past week, and work has been crazy, so that's the reason for my absence.

But I'm back, baby. And I think Interrupted Wanderlust is looking like it just came back from spending a week at a spa with Jude Law.

Raising a Daughter: The Five Keys

For Mother's Day, my mom bought me several books. (Go figure, the woman knows me.) One of the books is this one. I just finished it, and it was hilarious. It's a quick read, and the author brings the funny as few authors I know can. Seriously, if you're a mother, especially a relatively new mother, get your hands on this book. You will see yourself in the author's words. Buy it. Borrow it from the library. Steal it from Barnes and Noble, I don't care. (Okay, don't steal it, because that would be wrong.)

But get it. Read it. And thank me later.

One of the other books my mom bought me was this one. The book, which is divided into sections, including The Bonding Years, Girls and Beauty, and Girls and Success, gives mothers advice on how to raise their daughters.

Here are some of my favorite bits of advice:

"Praise her for her abilities and accomplishments, not her looks."

This one is particularly difficult given her age, because of course, people are always saying to her, as they would to any baby girl, "Oh, you're so adorable!" or "How pretty you are!" And really, I think they're far less inclined to compliment her on her ability to stick all five toes in her mouth at once, or the dexterity of her pointer finger, don't you? But as she grows, and once she actually begins understanding what it is people are saying to her, I believe this is an important lesson to remember.

"Realize that one of your most important jobs is to give her a sense of self, to help her define who she is, so no one else will."

This one is very important to me. I know so many women whose identities are tied to their relationships with others-girlfriend, wife, mother, etc. They have no idea who they are or what they stand for outside of these roles. I don't want this for my daughter. I want her to grow up having a firm sense of self. I want her to have values and beliefs and interests and hobbies that aren't necessarily those shared by her friends. I want her to have an independant spirit. I want her identity firmly cemented by the time she gets married, so her sense of being isn't absorbed by her husband, as so many womens' are. And if I've done my job as a mother correctly, she'll choose someone who adores her for it.

"Share stories of your mother and grandmother with her. Remember, girls are keepers of the flame."

The women in my extended family far outnumber the men. I am one of 11 grandchildren, only four of whom are boys. I have two aunts. They are both divorced. My grandma is a widow. My parents divorced when I was very young, so I was raised predominantly by my mom, but also by my women-centric extended family. So most of what I know about my history, and that of my family members, I learned from women. I plan on continuing this tradition with Isabella. Luckily, both her grandma and her great-grandma are alive to tell her their own stories as well.

At the beginning of the book, though, the authors list the Five Keys to Raising a Daughter:

1. Be her mother, not her best friend.

2. Let her live her own dreams. Don't try to make her live yours.

3. Be a strong, confident woman.

4. Be a good wife. You're shaping her future relationships with men.

5. Be aware that your goal is not to be the center of her life forever, but to work yourself out of a job.

I think these are spot-on. However, it's putting a few of these into practice that worries me. I plan on delving into the more problematic "keys" in upcoming posts.

Isabella at 10 Months

Yesterday, Isabella turned 10 months old. She's morphed into quite the mover-and-shaker in the last month, as she's commando-crawling all over the place with a speed that's giving her mother aching joints from trying to corral her all day long. It's also making my life a whole lot more complicated, as the days of parking her rear end in the living room and escaping into the next room to paint my toenails or down a shot of Jagermeister...I mean, write a quick email or do the dishes... are over. If I tried that now, chances are I'd find her hanging upside down from the curtain rods when I returned.

Another complication of her new-found mobility is the fact that my house is not baby-proofed. We have gates. They are not installed. We have books on shelves at floor level. They have not been removed. We have exposed outlets and electrical wires everywhere. They are not tucked out of sight. We have dirty floors. Their contents, along with copious amounts of cat hair, are on our daughter's belly.

We have a lot of work to do.

Isabella's current likes include: Macaroni and cheese (organic whole wheat pasta mixed with parmesan cheese), splashing in her baby pool, and purposefully tossing food off her highchair tray onto the floor, chucking toys from her stroller onto the ground, and lobbing binks from her crib halfway across the room (someone please tell me this "throwing shit" stage will pass soon).

Isabella's current dislikes include: Sitting in laps, sitting still, sitting pretty, and being told "no."

The little girl is giving her pointer finger quite the workout these days. She's pointing at everything she sees, and especially at things she wants. And when she doesn't get what she's after, she cries. Good times.

She is under the mistaken impression that she can walk, and as a result she wants to be upright and "walking" while holding our hands all the time. She's perfected quite the conniving fake-out move to ensure we help her out. While seated, she turns to us and holds out her arms, as if she wants a hug. Of course, we gather her close, at which time she arches her back, and pulls herself to a standing position. Psych!

She has no teeth. Not a single one in her gummy little mouth. When (if?) she does sprout one, it's going to look quite odd, I think, since I've been staring at a toothless grin for 10 months now.

Feeding time has become a riotous adventure lately. In addition to the spitting, she often tries to feed me her finger food while she's sitting in her highchair, and then acts quite offended when I refuse. Kid, I love you, but I'll pass on the piece of toast you've been gumming into a thick paste for the past 10 minutes, thank you very much.

In addition to looking at objects she can identify when asked to (ball, block, book, cup, light, brandy snifter, archipelago, and of course, kitty), she'll now sometimes point to them, and even pick them up if they're within her reach.
She's begun imitating me now. If I bang her blocks together, she'll do the same. If I shake a rattle, so will she. If I sit down to read the Travel section of the NYT, so does she.

And she now babbles non-stop, all day long. To herself. To the cats. To random people in the store (psst...please don't tell my grandma I'm taking her out of the house).

In two short months, she'll turn a year. One year old. And I will have survived my first year of motherhood, largely intact. Cracked around the edges, and certainly minus a few (hundred-thousand) brain cells, but intact. Go me.

Too Much is Never Enough

Between working my full-time job, doing some freelance writing work, taking care of Isabella, and attempting to keep at a modest level the dust bunnies-to-human-beings ratio in my house, I have very little free time. When she naps (and I use that term loosely), I'm working. When she's playing, I am, at times, working. When she goes to bed for the night, I shovel in some dinner, and then I'm working again. I usually allow myself an hour in front of the tv (and it's becoming less and less important what's actually on the tv, since I'm rarely focused enough to care) so I can relax and try to allow my brain to let go of the myriad things I have to do the following day before I go to sleep for the night.

And then, of course, it's lather, rinse, repeat the following day.

This is what makes my dirty little secret completely non-sensical. Even if I had this mysterious and elusive "free time" I hear others talk about in exuberant terms, my compulsion wouldn't make any more sense.

I hoard books.

This is the stack of books I have in my closet, all of which I've purchased with Barnes and Noble gift cards my friends and relatives consistently give me for my birthday and Christmas.

This stack has remained intact and largely untouched for months. There are books in it that I purchased before Isabella was born. Almost 10 months ago. Yet this fact doesn't preclude me from adding to it. Repeatedly. And most recently, yesterday afternoon.

I went to Barnes and Noble to order a textbook my husband needs for one of his summer classes. I came out with seven more books. Seven. More. Books.

Here they are.

Lest you think the madness* stops here, in the interest of full disclosure, you should know that I also check books out of the library. However, these books I limit to subject matters of dire importance. I figure Isabella's pediatrician would frown upon a diet that consists of Lean Cuisine, some leftover bread from Sunday dinner at her aunt's house, and a handful of Splenda packets from mommy's latest stop at Dunkin Donuts.

Clearly, I'm holding fast to some sort of "freetime fantasy" whereby one morning I'll wake up with zero responsibilities, with nothing to do all day but lie in bed eating Doritos, pick at my cuticles, and read.

There has to be a retirement home out there willing to throw open its doors for a burned-out 31 year-old, right?

*A few weeks back Sasha over at My Wombinations tagged me for the "Eight Random Things About Me" meme. It sounded familair, and in searching my archives, I realized I had completed a "Six Weird Things About Me" meme back in January. In my case, the random and the weird are one and the same (and I probably could fill a book with more), so if you're curious as to my answers, you can check them out here.

Father's Day 2007

If you stop to think about it, the bar is set pretty low in order to qualify as a "good dad." I've heard many friends and relatives talk in these terms about their own husbands or the husbands of others: "Oh, he's a wonderful father. He changes diapers." Or, "He's such a great dad, he feeds the baby dinner every night." Or (and this is my personal favorite) "He gets right down on the floor and plays with our kids."

Think about it. Would anyone ever tell a woman she's a "good mother" for doing any of these things? Let's face it, if she didn't change diapers or feed her kids dinner or play with them-even (gasp!) on the floor- not only would she not be called a "good mother" she would likely be playing host to Child Protective Services once the word got out. Double standard? Oh yes indeed.

Lucky for Isabella, her dad really is a good dad, no air quotes needed.

He was the first person (other than my OB) to hold her. He was the first person to change her diaper. He dressed her in her "going home from the hospital" outfit.

He did lots of patient middle-of-the-night rocking when I had hit the proverbial wall in exhaustion from trying to get her back to sleep.

A round or two of "Islands in the Stream" while cradled in her daddy's arms would send her into dreamland almost immediately.

He's the "fun one" (I'm quickly realizing, I am not). She laughs for him in a way she doesn't for me. He invents games, builds block and cup towers, and reads Goodnight Moon to her every night that he's home for her bedtime.

He calls without fail every day he's at work to check in and see how she's doing-whether her morning nap extended beyond its usual 2 1/2 minutes, what kind of food she's spitting out at me on that particular morning, what our plans are for the day.

Unlike her mother, he never gets frustrated when she won't eat her dinner, or when she repeatedly throws toys on the floor, just to watch and see how long it takes one of us to pick them up.

And he understands that a happy mommy equals a happy baby (and many times, just the opposite), and supports me fully in my decision to bail on my FT job in favor of a freelance career and a much-less-stressful way of life.

Happy Father's Day, Rich. We're lucky to have you.

Fashion Fright Friday: Run for the Hills, It's Swimsuit Season! Edition

Before this week, I have had the same swimsuit since Reagan was in office (shudder). I kid, of course, but let's just say the suit is at least 7-8 years old, and leave it at that.

Now, at the time I bought it, I was wearing a larger size. However, when I lost some weight and bought some new clothes, I did not include amongst my purchases a new swimsuit.

You see, I (like many, I would imagine) hate swimsuits because it's been my experience that no matter what my size, it is impossible to find one to both flatter my body type, and to hide my surgery scars, of which there are many.

So I held tight to the hideous suit, and wore it for many a summer, even when it no longer fit. I was even able to wear it last summer, when I was as big as a house. Much like the "magically expanding shirt" I wore for all the "belly shots" while pregnant, this bathing suit saw me through the entire summer of the Beastie pregnancy.

Clearly the suit must be made of tire rubber.

This year, though, I decided to break down and buy a new suit. I bought this top, and this bottom. The description for the bottom says, "Oh, how those ribs slim you!"

Let's hope so.

Here's how it looks on my personalized virtual model, who other than her small boobs, sculpted arms, and tiny waist, hips, and thighs, looks exactly like me.
My old suit needs a resting place deserving of its years of durable service. Perhaps I'll send it here. Because much like this plan, obviously designed by Mensa members, this suit was a very, very bad idea indeed.

Hello Mother, Hello Father

It first started when we brought our cats home nine years ago. I'd say to Rich, "Um, Dad, a little more over-priced prescription "weight management" food in the bowl, please."

He'd say, "Mom, I could use to be brushed, because if you let any more hair clumps develop, I'll need to be shaved like the cat down the street."

Yes, we gave our three cats voices and we talk to eachother through them.

And most of the time, we are quite pleasant about it. Sure, there is some strongly worded advice from the "cats" about the condition of a litter box or two ("Mom, clean it now or I'll take to shitting in your bed"), or a disagreement about whose turn it is to clean up the pile of vomit next to the shoe tree ("Dad, according to the tally sheet on the fridge, Mom has cleaned up the last 13 piles. Your turn") but by and large, our cat voices are kind.

Not so with the voice we've now given to our 9 month old.

Sure, it began all sugary-sweet: "Daddy, I love it when you read me Goodnight Moon. You're the best Daddy ever."


"Mommy, these peaches you spent an hour steaming, peeling, and pureeing are just delicious. I'm so lucky to have you as my mom."

But our daughter's "voice" has quickly taken on more sinister, and much more passive-aggressive tones.

Here are some examples of what Isabella's been "saying" lately:

"Daddy, Mommy would like to take a shower. Maybe you wouldn't mind playing with me instead of your PS2 since you haven't seen me since last Wednesday."

"Mommy, I know you "work" and take care of me all day long too, but perhaps you'd like to do the dishes that are piling up in the sink so the mold that's growing on them doesn't crawl up the stairs and into my crib to smother me while I sleep. Oh, and by the way, have some caffeine. You're cranky."

"Daddy, I've been ridin' dirty here for the past two hours. I'm sure that Pause button on our DVR still works, and if not, chances are you won't die from missing five minutes of Sportscenter."

"Mommy, I don't think it's nice of you to call me "Miserbella," "Dr. Destructo," and "little shit" all in the span of 30 seconds. Clearly, this is why "ma-ma" has disappeared from my vocabulary, and has been rightfully replaced with "da-da." Are you sure you're my mother? Can I see my birth certificate?"

Babies bring magic to a marriage, don't they?

This Blog is Boring Me to Tears

Those of you who are still reading here, I salute you. Not only are my posts less frequent and the content less interesting (motherhood has eaten more brain cells than I care to admit) I have also essentially had the same tired blog design since July of 2005.

Okay, so there was a brief time when my blog was florescent green. But other than that, the design (or lack thereof) you're looking at now is the way it's looked for almost two long years.

It's time for a change.

I want a more personalized blog, because this one? The one you have to practically prop open your eyes with toothpicks to read? It's bumming me out, it's so boring-looking. It doesn't reflect my personality, which, if you know me IRL, is wicked-ass awesome.

The problem is, I have absolutely no blog or web design skills whatsoever. In fact, every time I go to edit my blog using the old Blogger (I've yet to upgrade), I end up screwing up the HTML so badly that my sidebar either ends up at the bottom of my blog, or all the sidebar boxes blend together. This, despite a very nice gal with a very snazzy blog trying to help me awhile back. For days on end.

It's very sad that I'm such a moron. Please pass me a tissue.

So how do you do it? You out there with the cute blog? All professional-looking and personalized and fun? Besides being much more talented than me, what's your secret?

Anyone out there have any advice on how I can quickly and easily spruce up Interrupted Wanderlust?

Should I convert to the new Blogger? I hear it's much easier to personalize your blog, but I also understand you lose your blogroll.

Should I switch over the Wordpress, which seems way less problematic than Blogger?

And you with the cool masthead designs? How do you do it?

Thank you for your advice and help. Clearly, I need much more than can be covered in a comment, but I'm hoping someone has a quick and easy idea for me on how to perform CPR on my blog with as little pain as possible.

Forbidden Fruit...and Vegetables...and Nuts...and Dairy

I've been making Isabella's food for the last 3.5 months or so. I've used this book, and this one, this one, and this one (yes, compulsive, thy name is Kristi) as references for how much she should eat, which nutrients are the most important for growth, and to learn when I should absolutely NOT, under ANY circumstances give her certain foods or she will grow an 11th toe, and possibly start speaking in tongues.

My goal is to ensure that Isabella does not turn out with a palette like her mother's by introducing her to as many different foods as possible, as early as possible. Because while I think the world would be well-served by a mini-me running around proclaiming her love for Hillary, The Amazing Race, and Dunkin Donuts, I absolutely do not want my daughter having the issues with food that I do (namely that I eat somewhere in the neighborhood of five things. For reals).

So here's the list of the organic food I've introduced to Isabella, which, with the exception of zucchini (what kind of Italian girl is she?) are all currently on her "Will-Open-My-Mouth-For-and-Only-Spit-Every-Other-Spoonful-Back-At-You-List."

Rice and oatmeal baby cereal
White potatoes
Yellow squash
Cottage cheese
Ricotta cheese
Brown rice
Sweet potatoes
Acorn squash
Butternut squash
Green beans
Purely O's (Cascadian Farms' version of Cheerios)
Wheat bread
Cheddar cheese
Rice (eggless) pasta

The problem with all these books I'm reading, and the internet, which I'm also using in planning her meals, is that each seems to say something different about when it's safe to introduce certain foods in order to avoid the allergies that may develop from introducing them too early. For example, one book might say that egg yolks are fine for 9-month-olds, but not to introduce egg whites until your baby is over a year old. And another book might say it's fine to bring on the whole egg at 9 months. One book recommended avoiding citrus fruit until after a year old, and another said they're safe to introduce at six months.

And then there's the berry issue. And the wheat issue. And the nut issue.

(Seriously, where did this food allergy issue come from, because I swear I was eating French toast, bacon, and eggs at about eight weeks, back in the late 70s.)

So, being the neurotic food freako that I am, and wanting to make sure Isabella doesn't wake up one morning covered with fur and spiking a fever of 120 degrees because I fed her an egg the night before, I've decided to avoid any of the highly allergenic foods (other than wheat) until her nine-month checkup, which was on Monday. I decided to let her doctor have the final call, because sometimes? I let myself get too caught up in book-learnin', to the detriment of common sense.

Her doctor made it really simple for me, and afterward I felt like a bit of an idiot for expressing my fears that Oh My God, I Think She May Have Accidentally Ingested 0.000001 Grams Of Peanut Butter Because She Licked My Finger After I Finished My PB&J Sandwich:

No eggs (not even the yolk) until she's a year old; however, eggs in baked goods and pasta are fine.
No strawberries until she's a year. All other berries are fine.
No peanut butter, or any nuts, until she's two.
Citrus fruit is fine at 9 months.

So there you have it.

And now for her 9-month stats:

Weight: 17 lbs, 13oz
Percentile: 20%

Length: 28 1/4 inches
Percentile: 55%

Head Circumference: 45 1/2 inches
Percentile: 55%

In case you're curious, here's what a typical lunchtime meal looks like for her: avocado, sweet potatoes, and cottage cheese mixed with apples.

(In looking at this picture after uploading it, I realized that, holy shit, that is a serious heaping helping of cottage cheese. Good thing she hoovers food in as if I'm never going to feed her again. And clearly Miss 20th Percentile For Weight has neither her father's nor her mother's pokey metabolism. Lucky Little Shit.)

Five Signs That Summer Is Upon Us

1. Snowbirds return from Florida and open their pools up north.

(This is my pool cover. And those creatures swimming on top of my pool cover amidst the leaves the husband ought to have cleared off in the fall? Those would be ducks.)

2. Meditation, usually performed fully clothed, must now be performed naked to ensure optimum communion with one's inner spirit.

3. Children everywhere begin their summer reading lists.

4. The shades go on when the sun goes down.

5. And finally, summer means donning your bling and your big, florescent pink, waterproof, SPF- 50-built-in hat and hitting the beach, ya'll.

Quick Snapshot:

  • 34-year-old writer and
    mother to a daughter
    born in August 2006 following
    IVF and girl/boy twins born in October 2008 following FET. Come along as I document the search for my lost intellect. It's a bumpy ride. Consider yourself warned.

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  • "All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware." -Martin Buber

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