Driving Test

Turtle (whining): I want a snack in the car!

Me: I don't have a snack in the car. We'll get one when we get home in a few minutes.

Turtle (demanding): I want a snack in the car!

Me (ignoring him):

Turtle (in a surprisingly angry yelling voice): Mommy! I want a snack in the car! Mom! I want a snack! I need a snack! (continue repeating for 5 minutes with increasing intensity and tears)

Me (humming a tune to myself to help with the ignoring): hmm hmm hmmm hmmmmm

Turtle pulls top buckle of carseat down to belly button level and gives me the "oh yeah, what are you gonna do about that!" look.

Me (sternly): Push that buckle back up now.

Turtle (ignoring me): 

Me: Turtle, push that buckle up or I can't drive. (note to reader: This has worked in the past.)

Turtle (surprisingly calmly, with a mischevous smirk): Don't drive.

Me (damn! called my bluff!):  OK, then I guess I'll have to pull over and park and we can't drive home to get that snack.

Turtle (wickedly calmly): Okay.

Me (double damn!): Turtle, if you don't push that buckle back up a police man is going to come and we are going to get in trouble.

Turtle, eyes wide, quickly pushes buckle into proper position.

[Note: Good to know that although my 2 year old is at the peak of testing me, he has a healthy fear of the long arm of the law! The weird thing is that other than pointing out police cars as a type of vehicle, we have never explained to him what a police officer is or what they do. No matter. If it works, it works. I'm using it again!]


Underwater Astonishments

I have been meaning to share this for a while. This is just one of the amazing TED talks that I've been enjoying. Be prepared to be wowed by nature!

David Gallo shows jaw-dropping footage of amazing sea creatures, including a color-shifting cuttlefish, a perfectly camouflaged octopus, and a Times Square's worth of neon light displays from fish who live in the blackest depths of the ocean.



Our 24 hours off were great!  The best part?  Getting to be irresponsible! 


•hanging out talking, sitting in the street in front of our house
•taking the dry cleaner's tag off my not-worn-for-over-2-years-little-black-dress and leaving the open safety pin lying around on the table (HA!) 
•we didn't even head out to the restaurant until after Turtle's normal bedtime (tapas, strong drinks, and live music!) 
•sleeping in
•a quiet breakfast out (crepes and espresso!)  
•we hit the spa and took care of ourselves!

The worst part?

•Around 6:30 am I suffered from a very realistic auditory hallucination of Turtle waking up and crying "Mommy!  Mommy!".  It took me a few minutes to realize we were alone in the house and all was quiet and he wasn't there.  Spooky!  How sad is that? My brain is so accustomed to hearing that EVERY DAY for the last 2 years, that it had to manufacture the hallucination to fill in the blank on the one day I was supposed to enjoy sleeping in.   

The best part?

•The "Quiet Room" at the spa.  You lounge in a comfy reclining upholstered leather chair with footrest sipping cucumber infused water and read, daydream, or doze off in a dimly lit completely silent room.  Heaven.  Pure heaven.  I have got to build me one of these at our house!  



It's the beginning of 24 hours to ourselves. The last time we had that was over a year ago. Turtle just drove away in Nana's car, hugging his teddy bear and hot wheel car, waving, and saying "see you later, Mommy". We're dressing up and going out on a real date tonight and sleeping in and getting massages tomorrow before we pick him up. But, right now I've got 4 hours to myself before Backtire even gets home from work. I hardly know what to do with myself or where to begin...but I'm sure I'll figure it out!


A Day Off

Early in motherhood I read some article reminding moms that "when you are gone, it won't matter whether you kept a clean house, but that you sat down and playing with your kids and gave them your attention". A nice sentiment and excuse not to do housework, but let's have a reality check. 

Inspired by this advice, I decided to take a break from doing the normal thing, that is picking up after all of us as we go about our business. This is usually done here and there after each activity is finished and in a couple of bigger spurts. At the end of the evening, I often like to sweep as many toys out of eyesight as possible so that I can sit and relax in the living room and pretend to live a child-free existence for 11 minutes before I fall asleep on the couch trying to read the same articles out of a months old magazine that I don't even recognize I've already read. Hey, this memory loss thing could really save me money on subscriptions!

But, I digress. For one 24 hour period, I made a conscious effort to sit down and relax or do something fun that I enjoy each time I was tempted to put things away. I wanted to know how the carefree moms live. Here is the result:

kitchen table

coffee table


Which reminds me of this hilarious stay at home mom's great answer to "what do you do all day?"

Seriously, if I even took off a second day, let alone a week, well, it just makes me realize that neat freak tendencies aside, I am only one small slip down the slippery slope away from

those people you see on daytime TV that need household clutter interventions. And I only have one kid and no pets! 

I have a hard time letting it get like this and would rather keep up with it all day so that my environment is more relaxing and enjoyable to me.  Therein lies the paradox:  take time off to relax in an environment that grows ever-unrelaxing as you relax or keep up with it to keep the environment relaxing, but never truly just sit and relax. Aaaaaaah!   

While I sat during my time off and relaxed amongst the mess, I read the August issue of Oprah magazine and found out that once again, researchers are being paid to scientifically conclude what we all already know.  The discovery this time?  That having a husband in the household adds 7 extra hours of chores a week for a woman compared to when she was unmarried, while he does an hour less per week than when he was a bachelor.  The article says the researchers didn't know WHY this is. 

Can I just respond scientifically?  


I also read recently (source unremembered) that international studies show that regardless of economic class or whether the woman stays at home or works part- or full-time, basically the woman to man housework ratio is 2:1 around the world in industrialized nations.  And the childcare ratio is far worse, childcare being defined as physically taking care of the needs of the child such as dressing, bathing, and feeding, but not counting wresting on the floor or reading bedtime stories.  

No wonder I'm tired all the time and busy all the time, even though I don't feel like I "do" anything or "get anything done" all day sometimes.  And I don't even do heavy duty cleaning or have very high standards for cleanliness.  So, it could be much worse.  

I guess we've still got a long way to go, baby!  


Kill Me Now

8:24 arrive home from visiting grandparents for the day (note: no nap), attempt at carseat to crib transfer foiled

8:25-8:57 take off pants, change diaper, and attempt to soothe exhausted half asleep sobbing, thrashing 2 year old who doesn't know where he is and why he was woken up from a deep slumber, finally have success with tight hold, rocking, and 15 minutes of endlessly repeated whispered rhythmic recitation of Goodnight Moon from memory

8:57-9:08 enjoy quietly sitting in rocking chair with warm sleeping child on my lap, await deeper sleep cycle verified by wrist drop before installing in crib, wakes up anyway but accepts normal bedtime routine of back rub, count to 10, ABC song, and special goodnight kiss

10:36 went to bed

11:00- lie in bed listening to sprinklers coming on and neighbors out in the street

11:?? finally fell asleep

12:23 hear Turtle cry, extract stuck foot from between crib rails, start over with back rub, count to 10, ABC song, and special goodnight kiss

12:23-1:?? lie in bed listening to
resident nightingale at decibel levels illegal past 10 pm in this neighborhood
every breath and snore and move of husband next to me
random thoughts & irrational worries swirling around in my brain

1:?? finally fell asleep

2:17 hear Turtle cry, apply blanket to cold legs, locate white bear at opposite end of crib, commence back rub, etc, #3

2:20-2:27 stand over crib removing hand from back and self from room molecule by molecule soundlessly so as not to be detected, successfully sneak out after taking 7 minutes to walk 6 feet

2:27-3:?? lie in bed listening to bird, snores, thoughts until I finally fall asleep

4:22 Oh my freaking god, you have GOT to be kidding me, hear Turtle cry again, say "What?! What?!" to him as he says "mommy, mommy, mommy" over and over and mumbles nonsensical things, lift him out and carry to our bed, plop down in frustration

4:22-6:26 little warm arm over my neck, toes jabbing into my side, toss, turn, soft breath against my arm, legs kicking my boobs, "stop kicking me!", toss, turn, fall in and out of sleep, lose track of who is tossing and turning, awaken multiple times in discomfort, start thinking about how much today is going to SUCK because I got no sleep, oh yeah and Turtle got no sleep, oh yeah and Backtire got no sleep, so begin anticipating hell, curse the situation

6:26 little fingers stroking my hair, kind of pleasant and soothing, actually, no wait, stroking turns to grabbing fistfuls of hair and pulling at my scalp over and over

6:27 "Kill me now" comes out of my mouth, alerting Backtire to my plight, who has several times throughout the night tried unsuccessfully to extricate Turtle from my personal space, Backtire gets up with a heavy sigh, removes Turtle from the room and lets me get some sleep

6:28-7:01 listen to Turtle cry for Mommy, argue about diaper change, play with Daddy in his bedroom at full volume, oh yeah and ALL of the birds are awake now, and the sun is streaming through the window, finally yell that they need to "Go to the living room, please! and shut the hall door, please!"

7:02-9:15 sun, birds still at full stimulation levels, attempt to block somewhat with strategic pillow placement, sound of toddler and Daddy still present, but fainter, able to fall in and out of sleep a bit more until I just give up and get up to come write this as a way of avoiding today's hell just a little bit longer.

9:39 post this puppy and go to meet my fate


Leaving the Left Brain

Last night Backtire & I sat and watched Jill Bolte Taylor's TED talk. Wow. If you don't know about the TED conference, check it out. All of the talks I've ever watched were fascinating and thought provoking, sustaining me for days or weeks. Jill Bolte Taylor is a neuroanatomist who spent her life researching the brain and then experienced a brain hemorrhage that shut down her left brain. She had the unique opportunity to observe her own brain losing function and altering her perceptions and recover from this experience to share it with us. Watch her talk first. My reaction is below.  

It seems clear to me that this woman has something in common with people who have experienced near death experiences, out of body experiences, voodoo rituals, meditative trances, and ceremonial and recreational drugs. All of these things organically alter brain functioning, changing activity patterns in various parts of the brain, and therefore altering the person's sense of "normal" consciousness. It makes sense that people who have had the opportunity to see the world and themselves through a different consciousness would consider it a life changing experience and want to spread the word to others. And isn't that what both seeking enlightenment and taking ritual drugs are all about?

I find it fascinating to think that all of the visions, hallucinations, indescribable feelings, and awarenesses that people attribute to peyote or deep meditation or almost losing your life are really just things that are being unlocked from within your own brain chemistry. All humans must universally have the capacity to feel as if they are floating above their own body or see colors in the air that aren't there if only the right parts of our brains are stimulated or shut down. In fact there is much evidence of this, which I don't have time to find and cite right now, but I've read it here and there over the years.

I'm particularly fascinated by all of this, both as a scientific person who has devoted time to studying the brain and as a person who has never been lucky enough to experience any of it. It remains unreachable to me from my left-brain imprisonment. I haven't taken the drugs and I haven't had the head injuries. I haven't had the patience for meditation, as it just feels like sitting still and doing nothing to me, or worse, listening to the endless chatter of my left brain making lists and reminding me of things, which stresses me out instead of relaxing me.

The closest I ever get to altered consciousness is in the shower, while driving sometimes, or in the
hypnogogic/hypnopompic state each morning and night. I feel kind of zone-y and stream of consciousness at those times. Random thoughts occur to me and I automatically synthesize bits and pieces of my experience and memories together and often come up with interesting ideas. It's a nice break from the chatter and it leads me to the creative spark and the satisfaction of self-reflection, but it's still pretty left-brained, I think. I cannot even imagine floating above my body or feeling enormous and expansive and one small part of the energy of the universe. I can intellectualize that concept, but I don't truly "get it".

Think about this- each person on the planet due to their individual make-up and various groups, due to their cultural influences, and in fact each brain possessing animal may indeed be experiencing the world and themselves in slightly or entirely different ways. If I live mostly in my left brain and you live mostly in your right, do we see eye to eye? Can we understand each other? Does a gorilla or squirrel experience the world in more of a right brain enormous and expansive way than I do? When I try to see things from others' point of view, is it an exercise in futility because I am making a gigantic and flawed assumption each time, which is that the other being essentially views themselves and the world and the relationship between them the same way that I do, when in reality I cannot even fathom what their personal universe is like?

I agree with Jill Bolte Taylor's essential message- that we would all benefit if we could all tap into our right brain more and understand our interconnectedness and be at peace with ourselves and each other. We don't want to induce brain injury in everyone. I'm not sure how I feel about passing out the drugs to all. So, how do we get there?