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A Nod from the Bike Snob!

Holy brush with stardom, internet! I've been mentioned in this post by our favorite blogger Bike Snob NYC! Under the distinguished honor of people who will not be winning a bike this week. I'll take it!

UPDATE: In the comments wishiwasmerckx said:

As for Leah Archibald, I watched that whole video waiting for that baby to give me stock tips like in that Super Bowl commercial, but...nothing. What a slacker that tyke is.

Also, the crackhead took everything except the damn dog, who kept parading through the shot.

wishiwasmerckx my friend, the damn dog is a feature, not a bug :)

Video embedded for those too lazy to visit the other blog:

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wait til next year

So we were spurned by the Bloggies, if not by notice from one of the finalists. Now that voting is safely over and my opinions won't unfairly sway the competition, I feel that I can comment on the finalist selection (which you may view, at least until the winners are announced, at 2010.bloggies.com). First of all, horizontal scrolling?! Come on, guys! I've done it, but not for a list of things that's like 20 times wider than the viewport. Lame. Oh, the blogs?

As I read through, I was at first startled by how many of the finalists I knew about. Well, not in the "Best Australian/New Zealand Weblog" category, or crap like that, but in the humor and sports blogs. Sports?! Who knew that I read three-fifths of the best sports blogs on the internet?! The answer is, I do not. The contest turned up two blogs about cycling, one about cycling and doing things in the cold (two guesses), one about soccer, and another about swimming. So you know, the big-time American sports. Maybe the set of folks who follow real sports doesn't overlap with the set that nominates blogs for awards.

I have also seen three of the five allegedly "most humorous weblogs". Suffice it to say that, were I voting man, I know three blogs that wouldn't have my vote.

Anyways, once I got over my initial startlement I was reassured to realize I had actually never heard of most of the finalists. Phew! I'm not a total blog-dork. Although maybe I should be paying more attention, to know what Confessions of a Young Married Couple has that we don't. Are we not young enough?! So the campaign for 2011 has officially begun. Whether it's the Bloggies or the Webbies or the Netties or whatever else they're giving out, we need some love. Combining humor, whimsy, and gripping true-life stories, we present an irresistible package for any awards voters. If only we could get anyone other than friends and family to read our stuff...

(We love you guys! Um, how many unique email addresses do each of you have access to?)

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not late for dinner

Dan and I have called each other a lot of names over the years. No, not that way! I mean, good names. Pet names, if you will. When we lived in California it was all "Bunny" this and "Baby" that. Then we got lazy and started calling each other "Babe" all the time. "Hey babe, are you getting a beer?" "Whaddaya want babe?" I know right? Classy.

These days Dan mostly addresses me as "Lovey" while I use the more familiar form of his prenom and screech from the top of the stairs "Daaaaaannnnnnnyyyyy? Could you put the diapers in for their second cycle? And check that the dryer's not on fire?"

Rascal is alternately referred to as Rassy, Bassy, Bass-Bass, Boosicle, Puppy, Pups, and "The Dog" as in "Daaaaaannnnnnnyyyyy? I'm lying in bed, can you take out the Dog?"

The jury is still out on the most appropriate nick-name for our child, or as we like to call him, Harvester, Harveysons, H-sons, or "The Baby." Grandma mostly calls him Harvey, or sometimes Harve, the latter of which always gives me a chill because Harve was what everyone called my grandfather. I mean it makes sense since we did name the baby after that guy, but still. I hear "Harve, don't touch the poop!" and I imagine that it's Mr. Bernstein up there getting his diaper changed. Which by the way he would have loved if the changer was cute enough.

All this name calling makes me think about my own nom-de-mom, and what I'll be called in the coming years. Will it be Mom? Mother? Momma? Mommy? Ma?

Me, I prefer momma, but these days I'll take anything that isn't "WAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!"

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on the trail

Riding to work this morning through a dusting of new powder, I amused myself by identifying the various tracks I noticed on the bike path (especially since my eyes were mostly forced downward—look up too long and I risked getting bopped in the eyeball by an icy snowflake). There were the footprints of an early walker, a road bike, a bird hopping across the path, ooh! a rabbit! There's a dog being walked, and... what on earth?! What is that winding, dragging trail, with two parallel lines of scurrying footprints along its center? A giant caterpillar? Some sort of segmented worm?!

A little ways along, the answer was revealed: a little long-haired shi-tzu dog, with dragging toenails and fur sweeping the ground. Who would have thought. A segmented worm would have been more interesting.

I really wished that I'd had the camera along: I would have photographed the tracks to present any skilled native trackers in the audience a chance to prove their skills. I also would have photographed the spot where I swerved wildly on the snow-covered ice, careening back and forth across the path for a dozen yards before being forced to put my foot down (and it slipped too, of course). I didn't go down, but the tracks were certainly messy. In embarrassment, I wrote "oops" in the snow; oh I hope that someone goes be and sees it before it's covered with snow!

All in all, though, I was amazed by how well I was able to keep the bike under me this morning. If I had tried these conditions a few months ago I would have been completely destroyed. Isn't visible improvement wonderful! I can't wait for spring, when I can try out my awesome new balancing skills on the trails!

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Lavish and traffic-drenched

So earlier this week Harvey and I got 15-minutes of fame by appearing in a video on Bike Snob NYC. In the blogging world Bike Snob is kind of a big deal. He's up for two Bloggies this year, he's giving away free bikes, and he's finagled his blogging into a column in Bicycling Magazine. But most of all, he's got the traffic. Oh man does he got the traffic.

My vimeo dashboard lets me monitor the play numbers of my videos. Most of these are pretty expected for our limited range of family and friends. Harvey feeds Rascal - 56 views. Harvey makes baby noises - 63 views. How did your bike get stolen, after being featured on Bike Snob NYC?

3,067 views.

That's right. Over three thousand people this week listened to me whine out the words "Hi bikesnob! This is Leah at squibix dot net, and Harvey at squibix dot net..."

You'd think that would turn into some traffic for our blog, wouldn't you?

Well you might, and you may still think that. I have no idea. I've been long mentioning to Dan that we should set up google analytics for our site, and we finally did it this week! A day after the Bike Snob Nod. Can someone please shut the barn door? it's freezing in here!

In other words, we have no historical comparison to say whether we're doing better this week than last week. But even so, the numbers aren't... well... let's just say they're a jumping off platform if we hope to get nominated for a Bloggy ourselves next year. Yesterday we had a whole 59 visits to our site. 48 from direct traffic, 8 from vimeo, 1 from facebook, and 1 from factinis and factomelettes (hi guys! We love you!), and one from google. And that person was searching for "squibix." I can has SEO please?

So in conclusion, our state the union may not be catastrof***ed, but there's a ways to go. But we'll make it one of these days. The internet is the new Broadway! And I want to be a part of it!

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thinks You Tube is America's funnies home video, season infinity

My mom calls up after a weekend with her buddies. "I showed my friends your video where Harvey feeds Rascal," she says, "and they thought it was great! They all said you should put it on YouTube!"
"Put it on YouTube?"
"Yeah! It's really funny! It should go on YouTube!"

"But it's already on a video hosting channel," I say. "We use Vimeo."
"Yeah but people would see it if it were on YouTube."
"Mom, it's not like releasing a product launch to MSNBC. It's a baby - pet video. There are a hundred million of them on YouTube. Besides, Vimeo is classier."
"Whatever. They all said it's good enough to be on YouTube..."

Can someone please print her out a bumper sticker that reads "My child got three thousand hits on Vimeo"? I think that would make her feel a lot better.

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Under the tyrannical rule of a wakeful dictator

ADVISORY WARNING: Some people find the stories of other people's children's sleeping habits incredibly boring. If this is you, please don't read the rest of this post. Instead click here to listen to a hilarious interview with comedian Aziz Ansari on NPR's Fresh Air. Not got 20 minutes to kill? Then what are you doing reading blogs, anyway?

Anyway, as I was saying, Harvey has been sleeping poorly as of late. A few months ago, which in sleep deprivation time reads like several hundred million years, Harvey was doing great with an eight-hour stretch followed by two quick wake-ups two hours apart. Life was good.

But then Harvey started pushing his bedtime later and later, and his first wake-up earlier and earlier, and before we knew it we were up every two hours every night as if we had a two-month-old.

We put him to bet at seven and he's up at nine. Then eleven. Then at one, three, five... any hour that isn't divisible by two. Every time he wants milk, and every other time I make him endure a diaper change. To save any semblance of parental functionality in the household, Dan has been sleeping on the couch downstairs. He still wakes up when the baby cries, so the situation is far from ideal, but the alternative is worse. If Dan and I are both in the bed with divergent opinions about what to do with a screaming baby, then it quickly dissolves into fisticuffs.

Before you offer your suggestions, here's what we've tried. We nailed down our evening routine so that every night we feed him, bathe him, have quiet down-time and then nursing. After that, Dan rocks Harvey to sleep while he screams at the top of his lungs. Harvey that is, not Dan. Dan is patiently singing in the face of the harshest critic he has ever seen.

So Harvey's got a belly-full of food, he's clean and relaxed, and he's at the break-down point of tired. He finally falls asleep, but it still won't carry him through to the am. What gives? People have suggested tooth troubles, but he's not fussy during the day! Today grandma suggested that it might be constipation, because the only time in a month that he slept six hours straight was when he did so in a pile of his own feces. I say terrible coincidence, not causality. After all, it's not like he wakes up and poops a storm. In fact, he doesn't usually make number two at all until the afternoon. And he's a happy boy all morning. He should be - he gets to be awake!

So I open it up to your wisdom, internet. Any ideas on saving our marriage and getting the little guy to sleep? Other than the classic T&T concoction? Time and Tylenol? I'll hear your suggestions in the comments.

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french toast

french toast with syrup

mmm

Every weekend (if all goes well) I make two loaves of bread. That usually lasts us through the week, but not always: it's awful tasty when its fresh. Certainly, it's not often that we make it to the following weekend with much left. Thanks to some extra baking (corn bread, pumpkin bread, and biscuits) this week, we managed to end the week with a whole loaf to spare. That means, of course, that we got a treat for breakfast!

It's a good thing that we don't often have extra bread; if we did, we'd go through a whole lot more eggs.

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the soft bigotry of low socks

In the absence of meaningful feedback from babies about their specifics desires, (Does my snookiewookums want sweet potatoes or carrots? I don't know mom - I want you to pick one and shove it in my mouth already!) I would be willing to bet that any mom or child-care provider naturally projects his or her own hierarchy of needs onto their child. Never is this more apparent than in the "I think the baby's cold" syndrome. And here, let's just cut to the chase. The baby isn't cold - you are. Why don't you just say what you really mean which is "I'm cold." "Can you please turn up the heat for me?"

But this is not what I want to write about.

A certain childcare provider in our stable of helpful baby watchers has a real "thing" about the cold issue, especially as it pertains to the little space between the baby's socks and his pants when he moves around. You see, as he moves sometimes the pants ride up and SKIN IS EXPOSED!!! (As if were were in the arctic tundra and that skin might instantly frost-bight in the 63 degree air inside our house.) So to save the baby from certain amputation this childcare provider pulls up his socks as far as they can go, up onto his calfs, and then the crisis is averted. No frost-bight praise God.

I, on the other hand, am a person who HATES the feel of constricting socks. Why don't you just pour cement around my feet and drop me in the river?!!! So when this childcare provider does the thing with the socks, I point out that the top of the socks make a line on his skin, and clearly this is an indication that they are cutting off his circulation, and this will positively kill his potential for future success in the Russian Ballet.

They need those calf muscles. Look at Barishnakov.

Suffice it to say there there have been spats over this issue the sock height issue. Still, I was surprised the other day to hear my reasons reinterpreted in the following fashion:

"Your mother doesn't like it when I pull up your socks" I heard her say to the baby, "because she thinks it looks faggoty."

WOAH WOAH WOAH!

SAYS WHAT NOW???

"How could you possibly ever think that was even close to anything I ever said in my life ever???" I stammered out, my head spinning into another dimension.

"What? I don't want his legs to be cold, but you said it looked bad!"

"Cuts. Off. Circulation. Not.... Looks.... F-Word." (here I was hyperventilating, so I couldn't get the words out so well.)

Not to say that I'm an immaculately non-judgmental human being. I have made one or two or several hundred thousand off-color remarks in my day. But here was a clear example of this woman I trust NOT LISTENING WHILE I GIVE SPECIFIC INSTRUCTIONS REGARDING THE HEALTH OF MY BABY! No, just kidding, I was mad because I'm not a bigot.

I do hope that in the new millennia certain words slip our of use from our collective vocabulary entirely. I'm thinking of you, N-word. And you, C-word. And you, faggoty. Not even for knee socks.

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a vital shared cultural event

Our friends all know that we are no longer in contact with the outside world via television, and most of the time it doesn't bother them. So we didn't catch the latest episode of Gray's or Biggest Loser: no big deal. This first tv-less Superbowl, though, was another matter. Several people very kindly contacted us to make sure that we had a place to watch the proceedings, quite rightly realizing the huge cultural importance of the game, or at least of the advertisements. So we didn't miss a thing, thank goodness! Although why the NFL (or CBS) isn't streaming the whole affair, free with commercials, I have no idea.

And of course the experience was all the sweeter since the Saints won, making it the first happy-ending Superbowl in three years. The food and the company wasn't bad, either.

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Update from the infant sleep clinic

Thank you everyone for the gobs of advice on little Harvester's aversion to slumber. This week I have heard lots of folks (mostly of the "greater" generation - did I handle that tactfully?) describe their techniques for drill-sergeanting their little ones through the nightime hours. It may have worked for some tougher ladies, but this mom? This one who gained fifty pounds over nine months because she couldn't put down the bagels? This mom is not a paragon of discipline.

So I've been much heartened by Theresa's comments which somewhat support my own budding child-rearing philosophy. It goes something like this: "Meh! He'll figure it out. He can't be a baby forever!"

Wait for my new book on the subject, titled "Typing is hard - 40 doodles on laissez-faire parenting."

In keeping with that do-nothing-and-see-results vein, there have been some good developments over the weekend. On Friday we all slept in the bed together and Harvey slumbered beautifully with only two wake-ups! On Saturday night he did the same! The key may have been in the good advice, or in the prayer of some friends (Thanks Bridget!) or in the fact that we got him exponentially more stimulation on Friday and Saturday than he normally gets. Oh, so you're saying that you want to engage with other humans on a regular basis? Who don't share your genetic material? We just might have to go out with friends more then Harvey. It's a price I'm willing to pay.

So now the baby is asleep in the middle of the bed, and we'll see how the night goes. Although Dan has just informed me he'll be sleeping downstairs because the baby has passed his OVERstimulation limit from superbowl with grandma, and is on a wake-up hair trigger. Well, I didn't say the system was perfect, but we're working on it. I'm summarizing the results for you in my next article titled, "A year of birth-control: how to give your child the attention he needs for 365 nights." Coming soon to Parenting Magazine whenever I stay awake long enough to type it.

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I typed in petsmart bo and google filled in the rest. It's magic that way.

As Dan mentioned, we recently cancelled our subscription to television. This is not because we hate TV. On the contrary. I LOOOOVE tv. I love tv like a crack addict loves smokable cocaine. I love Hugh Heffner's girlfriends. I love befores and afters on plastic surgery. I love parents with a thousand million kids. And (this last one bordering on a sinful obsession) I love Joel McHale.

And I hate to admit it, but I love the commercials. Well, some commercials. I wrote about one here. And I think I also wrote about "bobo," my favorite commercial ever from Petsmart, but I can't find it because google search is broken for our archives. Ironic, because I'm about to talk about how much I love a google commercial I saw last night. (And Thank you Katie and Tim for sharing your ginormous television for the occasion!)

For those of you too busy to watch a 30-second spot (what are you doing reading our blog, anyway?) this ad is the story of a budding cross-cultural relationship told from the point of view of the young man's search strings. He studies abroad in Paris, he tries to impress a cute girl, things work out, and soon he's googling jobs in Paris. Then churches. Then the empty search box comes up, and there's a beat-long pause, and then he googles "How to assemble a crib."

Yes, I got misty-eyed. At a commercial. Something that hasn't happened since bobo.*

Okay, so I did get an MBA in marketing, so I can readily imagine the meeting between the brand managers and the ad agency. "Show them how Google enables your life. No! How Google IS your life! Google knows what you're thinking! Google's like God! You can't live without Google! We want people's DNA to shit Google!"

But I can't go down this road (even though I think it's completely hilarious to imagine someone saying "We want people's DNA to shit Google!") I simply love this ad. It sums up everything I love about the internet. That it's like real life but in the future. The future is awesome, people. It's awesome living in the future.

*Sniff! He got a new bobo!!!!

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music lesson

Speaking of clips that tug on your heart strings, this weekend Dan gave Harvey a bit of a music lesson on the recorder. Oh my precious boys. It doesn't get much better than this :)

Bankok to Bedford

So I stumbled across a blog this morning called FIGHTING AND OTHERWISE. It's about the American author's adventures in Bangkok at a Thai fighting gym. The writing is awesome (in a post-modern sensibility, moms be warned) and you should totally go read it if your up for something completely different from this blog. Like other-side of the world different. Yes, it might be a jump, from baby videos to broken jaws and prostitutes, but it's well worth it. And me and the author do have something in common after all. We used to be high-school lab partners.

For those of you who didn't grow up in Lexington, lemme just tell you that Dan and I attended a very weird public high school. It might be the high school itself (built above an Indian burial ground?) or the breed of rich intellectuals who tend to inhabit our hometown. Either way, this school has produced a generation of very extraordinary individuals. I am rather the anomaly, me, sitting here writing about how much I enjoy normal parenthood. Look through the aggregate of my friends' facebook pages and you'll see more photos of Indian or African children than you will of the sort of bouncing white babies that fill my photostream. My former classmates (if they failed to become doctors or laywers or captains of industry) are all off somewhere in the nether regions of the globe shaming me with their impossibly good/interesting/uncomfortable lives.

So I scraped my intended post about appliqued bags for electronic chargers. You'll have to wait till tomorrow for that.

Look. I'm not cut out for the kind of interesting greatness that sells subscriptions to Wired Magazine. All those genes got distributed to other members of my family. My brother spent a summer in China learning to become a Ninja. Dan's brother did four years in the Peace Corps and came back with a Gabonese bride. Me, I sit at home and think to myself "Thank God SOMEONE ELSE is doing that stuff. That really frees up my schedule for knitting and surfing the web."

Back in 1995, whoever would have guessed that my lab partner assigned by alphabetical order of our last names would be one day writing sentences like this one:

He asked me how many women Iíd slept with, and I gave him a rough number, and then he asked me if I really hadnít paid for any of them....

Anyway, it's a good read. Go to it if you're interested. And alls I've got to say is: Thank God I turned in my half of the homework.

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Another post about socks

"Oh Man!" I exclaim from the bedroom.
"What?"
"I thought picked out two white socks for Harvey, but now I see that one of them is white and the other one is cream."
"Oh." Dan pauses. "So?"
"So it doesn't match!"
"Um," says Dan, "I don't think he'll care."
"It doesn't matter if he cares. I care. I want Harvey to be stylish."
"Mismatching socks is stylish. It's baby style."
"More like Punky Brewster style."
"I don't think Punky Brewster ever rocked one sock that was white and one sock that was off-white. That's too outlandish even for her."
"Oh crap! I just put his shoes on the opposite feet!"
"I'll be waiting outside."

no day

Dear administrators of Boston-area schools,

While I do thank you for your kindness in providing your employees with a mid-week day off, I would like to offer some suggestions for future snow-based panics. First, if you are planning to lose your heads based solely on the forecast, you might consider beginning earlier. That way you could let people know before they went to bed that they wouldn't have to get up and go to work; at the same time, you yourselves would be saved from having to anxiously refresh weather.com every five minutes between the hours of 3:00 and 5:00 am (though it could be that you like that sort of thing). Also, in future I suggest remaining open to the possibility of early dismissal, rather than outright cancellation, for storms that are predicted to begin mid-morning at the earliest. That way, we hourly workers get paid for a full day, and nobody has to spend another pointless day in school in June!

footprints in a quarter-inch of snow

school was canceled for this?!

You have to admit, it's a little embarrassing for all of us when we've spent the day at home and there's barely any snow on the ground at 5:00 pm. Better luck next time!

Sincerely,
Your employees

(Hey, maybe it'll snow all night and we'll need another snow day tomorrow!)

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Project Journal: Sew something already!

One of my resolutions for 2010 is to share on this blog more of the things that I make, along with their little stories of trial, error, extreme disappointment, and after a mourning period, acceptance. Sharing my projects one by one, I think, should be much more satisfying than posting large image dumps like this one which screams CHECK IT OUT I AM A PROLIFIC CRAFTER when really it represents six months worth of sewing and knitting and hurling half-finished wreckterpieces into the garbage. And really, one image of a sheep puppet isn't really enough to satisfy your craving, is it? You want a front image, a side image, and a long synopsis of how I had to rethread my machine four times to get you to that vicarious crafting high. So without further ado, here's what I made last weekend.

applique bags for holding cords

bringing order to the electronics

Five bags to organize the chargers and cords that hang around my desk, only get used once a week, and serve as choking/strangulation hazards for the extra six days. I sewed the felt bags out of leftover material from Harvey's Christmas stocking, and appliqued little images on top to tell me which chargers go where.

I played around with how I wanted the top hem to go, so you'll see they're all different. In the end, I think I like the front-ways sheered hem the best, but perfection is fleeting in life as in art, donchathink?

detail of the applique on a cord bag

stylish and functional

The iPod fabric is a cut-out from 2 yards I bought in Ithaca the month before I got pregnant. I'd been saving it for a baby dress in the event that Harvey was a girl, but he wasn't, and I'm still hoarding that fabric miserly, cherishing it for little B whenever she decides to show up in our lives. (Earth to Leah: sex is required for conception of a second child. This perhaps is the subject of another post.) On the other hand, it's wasteful to keep so much inventory clogging up the shelves, and I should just make that dress already and use the rest to sew Harvey some pants. Maybe that'll be the subject for next weekend. After all, he does love orange.

So that's what I made over the weekend. Two hours tops, which makes me think I should spend less time talking about what I'm going to sew and more time just sewing it. Oh, and bragging about it. Did I mention I sewed something? You can leave your amazement in the comments.

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too much analytics, too little data

Dan says to me, "I was checking our google analytics today and we have one reader from Fiji and one from Thailand!"
"Fiji is Molly. And Thailand is Neil."
"Well, Molly read for a long time. About ten minutes."
"That's nice! I should say something nice about her on the blog." (Ed note: Molly has a winning personality and an uncanny resemblance to Katherine Heigl.)
"It said that Thailand read for zero minutes."
"Zero minutes??? That jerk! After I go and write a whole post about how awesome his blog is? He comes here and doesn't even click on anything???"
"He could have read everything on the front page. We don't know."
"Well I wouldn't want to steal away his precious time from brooding and getting punched in the face."
"Maybe he was surfing from an internet cafe."
"That's true. You gotta prioritize your web surfing time when the clock is running. Then again, I can't imagine how expensive internet cafes are in Thailand if you can get a BJ there for a ten-spot."
"Agreed. He's a jerk."
"All those times I handed in joint lab reports..."
"You should blog about it and then he'll be forced to comment."
"Yes. I'll force his bandage-wrapped hand."

deflationary pressures

a flat tire and road grime

my poor bike...

I was very much looking forward to biking to work today, after a full week stuck in the car due to an inability to coordinate my schedule with that of the bike shop. The snow day gave me a way around that problem, so it was with a happy heart and a new tube that I set out into the sunshine this morning.

Things did seem a little harder than usual in the early part of the ride, but I wrote that off as a result of my time off, plus maybe the half-inch or so of frozen snow on the ground. The extra work (not to mention the awesome February sun) warmed me up, so I stopped to adjust some layers—a mistake, as it turns out. When I got back on the bike I noticed the tell-tale squishyness that indicates a completely flat tire. My response cannot be printed here.

Even though this was the first time I flatted when I had in my possession both a new tube and a pump, I didn't want to go through all the bother of changing the tube when it was clear something was very wrong with either my tire or my rim. The dead tube barely made it three miles; I wasn't going to throw away another eight bucks in hopes of finishing off the next three. $2.67 a mile compares poorly even with the mileage of a full-sized SUV, I believe. Nor was I going to surrender and call Leah for a ride, especially since I knew she was walking the dog and wouldn't be able to help.

No, what I did was to push forward on the very squishy tire, stopping to re-inflate every half-mile or so when I started to feel the bumps through the rim. It was not fun, and when the pumping started to show diminishing returns (diminishing almost to nothing, in fact) I gave it up and rode the last mile or so standing up, to take as much weight as I could off the back wheel. I hope I didn't do any damage to the rim, but I just had to get to work!

In the end I made it in a little under an hour, compared to the half-hour or so it usually takes me. I expected the folks at work to be a little annoyed, since I was after all about 15 minutes late, but they were actually very solicitous. They were concerned, apparently, that I had had an accident and was lying in a ditch somewhere. Don't worry, even in the winter biking isn't any more dangerous than driving; it's just sometimes a little inconvenient.

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rice rice baby

Yesterday we introduced Harvey to rice cakes. He was pleased to make the acquaintance.

The event has been edited and scored for your amusement. Happy Friday!

To my Valentines.

I fell in love with dan in 1993. I was twelve years old. Dan was the cutest boy on our block, if not in the whole entire universe. He had long silky blond bangs that flopped in his face in a fashion that was mesmerizing.

a young danny with the long sexy hair

makin all the ladies swoon

To my credit, I was also stunningly attractive.

12-year-old Leah at her BatMitzvah

too sexy for this mitzvah

(Visual proof that 1993 was actually in the '80s.)

It was a time of great bangitude (of the hair variety). I twirled around my bedroom singing "Leah Archibald... Leah Archibald..."

I guess this is not so cute sounding now... now that it's written on my business cards.

On March 5th 1993 Dan and I we went on a date to Chadwicks WITH HIS PARENTS. At Dan's prompting I ordered a Turkey club, even though I had absolutely no idea what that was. Honestly, I expected something out of the Flintstones to arrive on the dinner table. Instead came a sandwich with so many layers of bread that I could have broken my jaw putting my mouth around it.

That was the first of many exciting things that Dan would introduce me to. Like mountain biking. And fried eggs. And the internet.

Ten years and one month later, Dan and I sat in my college dorm room, trying to figure out what to do in the face of my obstinate plans to move to LA. "I don't want to go through all the trouble dating you," Dan said, "If we don't plan on getting married."
"Okay," I said. "So let's get married."
Dan said, "I'll see if the church is free next weekend."

Our parents said, "NOT UNTIL YOU LIVE TOGETHER FIRST!!!"

So Dan moved out to LA and started this blog.

On September 4th 2005 we were married. I weighed 115 pounds. I just wanted to slip that in here because it will never happen again. A month later our lives changed irreperably forever. We visited the animal shelter in Sterling MA and spotted a mangey looking pup cowering in the corner. "That's ours!" Dan said. We took him home and became a family.

he was much smaller

he was much smaller

Then in June 2009 we got made an even bigger family with the addition of Harvey Douglas.

8 days old, ready for his catalogue shoot

8 days old, ready for his catalogue shoot

Harvey Douglas Archibald. A name I hadn't thought to fantasize about 17 years ago. He brings on all sorts of new dreams for the future. Primary among them, is that he grows up to look like my Danny.

young dan on the tire swing

free to be you and me

And lets his bangs fly in the breeze.

Happy Valentine's day.

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Cloth diapers - an informational hazing for hippy parents

Let's talk poop.

Before Harvey was even born we knew we would be committed to cloth diapers. One reason - the reason we say out loud - is that disposable diapers (or as pick-a-fight momma likes to say "plastic diapers") don't decompose in the environment for something like a hundred billion years. Or I don't know - it's a long time. For a family who heavy-heartedly chucks out a tiny half bag every week, that's a big poopy landfill to swallow (to mix metaphors into a disgusting visual image). The other reason - the one we don't say out loud - is that I'm colossally lazy. Well, lazy in one particular way, which is any way that involves leaving the house. Household items like toothpaste stay on the fridge-top list for so long that I'll be brushing with the dentist sample of kids-flavored fruit-smacks-gum for two weeks before I get my butt to the CVS. So to prevent diapering our child with paper towels wrapped in plastic bags, we invested up front in the cloth kind and never looked back.

Well, actually, now we're looking back to blog about it. Lucky you!

The main kind of diapers we looked into were diety-service diapers, flushable diapers, and pocket diapers. If there is any other category of cloth diapers I will be amazed, but you never know. Leaky poop all over your bed is the mother of invention, after all. (If you want a whole website of helpful cloth diaper comparison information, go there and stop reading this post!)

We decided on a pocket-type diaper because 1) there's no diaty service in our area, and 2) flushable diapers require walking from the changing table to the toilet, and like I said before, lazy. There are a bunch of different pocket-type diapers to choose from, but from my extensive research (okay, two friends and one website) the best is the Bum Genius 3.0. And how can you not be with a name like that?

WHAT IT TAKES:
We have about 30 diapers in various fun colors. When Harvey soils one we take the insert out and throw both diaper and insert into a big Simple Human pail lined with a cloth bag. (Each diaper comes with two different size inserts so that they fit him better as a newborn but absorb better when he's a heavy pee-er. Which Harvey is. A pee-er of the realm you could even say.)

Every other day we take out the bag (and put in a clean bag - you need two) and throw the diapers in the washer. You can't wash the diapers in the bag, but you can sort of press the bottom of the bag up to push all the diapers into the washer without touching them. Whatever - when you're a parent you touch a lot of gross things - you get over it. We wash the diapers for 30 minutes on cold with mountain green soap, and then 30 minutes on cold/hot again with soap. Then we put them in the dryer for an hour and they're done!

Well, not quite done. What you have then is a big laundry basket filled with diaper tops and diaper inserts. It takes about half an hour to put them all together and back into the baskets. But I wouldn't say that's a deterrent to the process. When you're watching a baby all day, there's A LOT of sitting around time.

BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE HIPPY!
We also use cloth wipes, which I highly recommend. We have about 50 of them. Half of them (actually 21 - I've counted) go in our wipes warmer (thanks Matt!) with a mixture of baby soap and water. The other stay in a basket by the changing pad, because sometimes you need both wet and dry wipes to do a job, if you know what I'm saying. If you're a parent, you know what I'm saying.

CAVEATS
We didn't start cloth diapers for about two weeks were when Harvey was first born. This is mostly because I wanted to oversee the whole process vis a vis the washing machine, and didn't realize I wasn't going to get out of bed for that long. So other people put him in plastic diapers, and the world didn't implode. And I'll even say that for the first couple days where black tar-like liquid is coming out of your baby it's not a bad idea to throw away a few diapers. Mother nature won't fine you, and also the hundred grandparents in your house won't come in every five minutes while you're sleeping to say HOW DO I SNAP THIS THING ON, AGAIN???

Which is actually a big benefit of the bum genius that I forgot to mention - they go on like regular diapers, which is to say with the same general shape, so that even babysitters can do it. If you ever leave your child with a baby sitter that is. That's another issue.

Another time we took a break from bum genius was when we went camping at H=5-weeks-old. Then we brought along plastic diapers due to the lack of washing machine at the camp site. Our hippy identity was only saved by the fact that we were TAKING A 5-WEEK-OLD CAMPING!

Even so, I'm glad we had that brief experiment with plastic diapers, because it reaffirmed our belief that cloth diapers are actually neater. In the plastic ones Harvey's poop got all spread around and smushed to his butt causing more rash, whereas it absorbs better into the cloth ones. Also? Plastic diapers are really expensive! Sure the cloth ones are a big investment up front, but then we're done buying diapers until he's potty trained.

MORE S—- TO BUY!
The other things I found helpful with diapering on the go are a big diaper bag, since packing cloth diapers takes a bit more room, and two wet bags for the road (two so that one can be in the wash sometimes - although a plastic bag from CVS will work just as well if you happened to forget your canvas bags at home one time you horrible hippy race traitor.)

And if you want more resources on washing cloth diapers, like I said I've found this site helpful. You can even print out their washing instructions and tape them to the front of the washing machine.

Beats paper towels any day.

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sex after childbirth: a user case study

Long-time readers of this blog will remember when I wrote about my half-assed diagnosis of vaginismus. After that post I didn't blog about the issue very much, not because it magically resolved itself, but because whenever I make a joke in public about our sex life my husband's eyes pop out of his head and roll across the floor. And I don't want to put him through that sort of trauma for nothing. Not unless the humor content of the post exceeds the grossness content by a factor of 2:1. I believe I have finally reached that level.

So for anyone who's had trouble getting back to sex after childbirth, or was wary about sex after pregnancy, or even outright dreaded intercourse after childbirth * let me be the first to tell you that you're not alone. Even though your friends and neighbors seem to keep getting pregnant mere days after they deliver... Even though your hair dresser reams you out for being cruel to your husband, and all the ladies in the salon chime in, and then you can never go back to get your hair cut ever again... Even though you think all the world except you is having fantastic mind-blowing sex every time their babies take a nap, while and all you and your husband do is go into separate rooms and surf the internet... Even so, it's okay. It's normal!

It's even expected! What to Expect says that most moms aren't up for sex during the post-partum period. Scanning their article, it appears that the factors are stacked against us: Lack of sleep, hormones for breast-feeding, soreness after delivery... wait what? How long are they talking about waiting here? Oh... SIX WEEKS??? Where's the entry for "I haven't had sex in seven months and there are climbing vines growing over the entrance to my secret garden?"

I typed that string into google, but it came back with zero results. So okay, I haven't had sex in eight months. I guess I am totally alone.

What happened is this. First the midwife suggested that my complaint of unbearable pain with intercourse was a symptom of vaginismus, a disease that may or may not be made up, with the only symptom being pain with intercourse. Which actually makes the picture seem more rosy than it is. After all, I had pain with childbirth but the kid still got out into the air okay. Sex, on the other hand, is completely non-starter for us these days. Dan so much as looks at me lustily and I start sobbing in anticipation. But I'm getting ahead of the story, because it turns out that this possibly made up frigidity disease? I don't actually have it.

You see, after going to the gynecologist for an exam, the doctor decided that I don't actually have vaginismus, but a lack of estrogen due to breast-feeding. She proscribed a topical estrogen cream (which didn't work) and also said the situation might improve when the baby started solid foods (it didn't). Then she said to come back in a month if the matter didn't "clear up," but she cancelled that follow-up appointment because her son was sick that day. Really I think she was so jazzed up with her estrogen cream that she called in sick so her husband and her could do it all afternoon in the car. But that's just my opinion.

If I was the kind of person who liked doctors (or at least didn't harbor a pathological fear of them) I would have called to reschedule the appointment, and I even dialed half the number a few times, but I couldn't think of what to say to the receptionist.
"Hi I'd like to make an appointment with Dr. Jones."
"Okay, what's the appointment about."
"Um, er, I haven't had sex in eight months."

I don't know whether the receptionist would gasp and say "egads!" or roll her eyes and say "so?" Maybe depends on the last time she had a little date time with her husband in the car.

For the record, I wasn't always so frigid. See this post about the full-page spread I got in my high school yearbook.** Plus, I know people who are frigid, and they don't make scarves embroidered with porn (NSFW, unless you work for ETSY's underground cousin SKETCHSY). So when the doctor told me in that first appointment that "it could be you just don't want to have sex right now" I was all, whaaaa? Meeee? I'm all about the liking sex. Insert dirty joke here!

But then secretly in my brain I'm all, sex makes owies and yelling things. Let's just lie in bed and read separate issues of the Economist.

So here I am at a standstill. Do I wait until the baby is weaned to see if my normal hormones kick in again? Do I visit a (gasp) therapist to talk about my newfound feelings of complete and absolute terror of intimacy? Do I start the search process for a second wife for our marriage? (Note: must have income and be willing to sleep in the basement.) Or do I just act like it doesn't matter, many people have sexless marriages, look at the Clintons. I don't know folks. I don't know.


*Hi google searchers! This blog is funny! Please stay!
** But that was the ONLY sort of spread I did in High School! Don't get to thinking otherwise.

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Harvey in the out of doors

Harvey looking apple-cheeked

sitting outside again

Harvey has a snowsuit. That's what we call it, anyways, but it to this point has not seen any contact with the snow—at least not the snow on the ground, at any rate. When he goes outside, it's either in the stroller or—far more common—in the Ergo Baby carrier, and he doesn't have to worry about such pedestrian concerns as touching the ground. That all changed today!

While it's still coldish, it's nowhere near as bitter as it has been for most of the last month. Since we three squibix family boys were hanging out by ourselves for most of the afternoon, we decided to take advantage of the warmer temps and play outside. Rascal was very appreciative, since it's been ages since he got to run on the lawn. Harvey was nonplussed for the same reason; and in his case the indoor period was a significantly longer fraction of his life. Not since early November has he been able to move around outside under his own power—a full one-fourth of his life! He hardly knew what to do with himself.

Harvey sitting outside in his snowsuit

not much mobility

In his defense, the design of his snowsuit may have had something to do with his immobility. Whenever I put it on him I can't help but think of the 'hardsuit' of science fiction (and, I suppose, deep-sea diving fact). Like space marines in their larger-than-life armored suits, Harvey's snowsuit-encased limbs are extended several inches beyond his actual hands and feet. Unlike the space marines, though, Harvey doesn't have neurofeedback powered servo-motors to help him move his gigantic outfit around. Also he was disappointed he couldn't get his hands out to eat the grass. Oh well; it was still nice sitting outside.

(Note our lack of snow. Unlike Washington DC and, I don't know, Florida, we have not been seeing a great many snowstorms this winter. Just cold cold weather. Why aren't we ice skating?!)

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he shall not live on bread alone

We're getting Harvey started early on the bible, in the fashion of very responsible parents. Which is to say, we leave a copy lying around on the floor. Cue the tape.

discipline

As I said last night at Bible study, I am not disciplined. If something is hard I stop doing it, or else find a better way to do it. It's Lent now though, so if I'm ever going to stick to something now's the time.

Just as with New Year's resolutions, though, it can be tempting to take on too much. There's always so much we want to change about our lives, and it's nice having an artificial reason to turn things around; but, of course, the more we add the less likely we are to be able to follow through.

Leah and I aren't fasting this year, and we aren't giving up church for Lent like we did last year. We are going to try (no try, only do!) reading the Bible daily. We'll see what we get from that. So far we're not doing so well: past bedtime, and no Bible has been read. So I'd better go do that now.

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winter wednesday walk

Leah and Harvey on a snowy morning walk

sleepy baby is dead weight

After a long snow drought, we got four or five inches Tuesday afternoon and evening, so Wednesday morning we were all eager to get out there and enjoy it! Especially since the sun was shining.

Rascal in the snow, sniffing the breeze

he is alert to potential prey

Rascal was probably the happiest of all, and I took the opportunity to create a video record of the ways in which he responds to new snow:

Pretty much the same stuff he does on every walk, actually.

Happy late-winter everyone!

sun shining through snowy trees

real New England winter weather

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floor treats

Harvey on the floor with Cheerios

they used to be in the bowl

Am I a bad parent if I allow—nay, encourage!—my child to eat cheerios off the ground?

Harvey eating off the floor

if that's where the food is...

I know they can't have been down there long: otherwise the dog would have eaten them already!

a Cheerio on the floor

looks tasty!

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Baby giggles

Just for you on this February Friday: Baby Giggles!!!!! Because if you've had a week like we've had, then you need it.

back to the beach

Leah and Harvey on Good Harbor beach

room to roam in the winter

My apologies for yet another photo post here. But hey, I'm on vacation! At least I'm not making folks sit through a slide show.

Today I convinced Leah to take the day off of work—it wasn't hard, given what's going on with her job these days—and take a family outing to the beach. With us, it's always the same one, so at least we know how to get there. The weather was a little colder this time, though.

Harvey snuggles with mama to keep warm on the beach

nice and warm in here...

Even in his snowsuit and mama-knitted hat, Harvey wasn't entirely comfortable with the conditions. It was a the wind that bothered him—him and everyone else on the beach, actually, at a good 15 mph clip. In defense he pulled his head in turtle-fashion, which meant that he couldn't see much of the proceedings; and absent exciting stimuli he went right to sleep. Oh well, it was nap time anyways.

Rascal running out of the ocean

he is not afraid of the Atlantic in February

Rascal, on the other hand, didn't mind the cold a bit. He got so overheated bothering about thirty other dogs that he had to take a dip or two to cool off. No humans dared anything like that, of course; in fact, he was one of only three dogs to brave the waters in the time we were there. The wind did whip his ears round a bit more than he may have liked, but he bore it well. I made him pose for a portrait before we left:

Rascal on the snowy beach

"going in the water was totally worth it!"

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feed bag

I wanted to take a break from posting pictures and videos to let you know that there's another way to see our pictures, if ever you want to. The "photo gallery", as I so grandly call it, has an RSS feed that will deliver the latest snaps direct to your RSS reader. For the more discerning viewer, a feed of only Harvey pictures is also available.

gallery feed
Harvey picture feed

There will be some overlap between the pictures that appear there and those we publish in the blog, but seeing a few shots twice is a small price to pay for the assurance that you will never miss a single exciting image!

While we're talking RSS, I should also mention that this blog of course has a feed as well, though it is not particularly well-advertised. You may find it at this address. Enjoy!

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1 Baby, 1 Cup

Some folks say babies need a lot of stimulating toys, but I call bunk on the 'R-us industrial complex. Give Harvey any new thing made of plastic and he'll be stimulated for an hour. A tupperware. A toothbrush. It's like Christmas every day as long as it's something he hasn't already banged against the counter or placed in his mouth.

He's also gotten good at holding himself up, and this too is a fun novel experience. Of course, he can't locomote himself too well, but the standing is fun enough. Especially if he's got something plastic to bang against the wall.

But don't take my word for it. There's video.

unseasonable

Here at the squibix household we enjoy pumpkin bread, and Leah loves her some pumpkin pie, so we make those two delicacies as often as we can manage (and issues of health and waistline allow). There is a problem, though, in the fact that canned pumpkin is more difficult than it should be to procure. Last time I asked after it at the supermarket, I was told that they didn't carry it outside November because it "wasn't the season". Now I'm as excited as the next fellow (more, even!) by local, seasonable produce. But that's not what's happening here: the poor pumpkins I can't buy were probably canned in China two-three years ago and are sitting in a warehouse until such time as the marketers feel there is sufficient Thanksgiving-related demand for them to deserve shelf space in the grocery store.

That's just silly. Isn't the point of the modern American mega-grocery that you can have whatever you want, whenever you want it?! We have gross tomatoes and apples all year round, why not delicious canned pumpkin? At this point I'd even take squash.

Clearly, the solution is to bite the bullet and can our own pumpkin (or rather puree and freeze it), like Leah's dad can't believe we don't do already (does that phrase make any sense? It's late here). Then we'll be able to put up as much as we want, rather than buying eight cans of the commercial stuff when it's briefly in stores and hoarding them as long as we're able. Ah, who am I kidding: we'll probably do both. How else will we be able to eat pumpkin pie into July?!

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angels and dummies

In the supermarket checkout line the other day I found my attention caught—grabbed, violently abducted—by a book that at first I thought was entitled The Idiot's Guide to Connecting with Your Angels. Really?! In fact, I was mistaken: the correct Idiot's Guide branding makes it "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Connecting with Your Angels". An important distinction! I do wonder, though, if complete modifies guide or idiot—that is, is it a complete guide for idiots or a guide for complete idiots? Either way.

Obviously, the publishers of the Idiot's Guides or the more popular For Dummies series don't really mean it when they tell their audiences that they're stupid: they only mean to suggest that their books will present the subject in question in such a fashion that anyone will be able to grasp it. I'm sure I don't need to clarify that for you. I will point out, however, that while in many cases dumbing-down a difficult subject for an uncomprehending audience endures only that your book will be a complete waste of effort (Biochemistry For Dummies, for example, sounds doubtful, while Cosmetic Surgery For Dummies is just scary), in this case I would posit that it is in fact only the idiot who would make a daily practice of communicating with angels. In other words, this book is a perfect fit!

Now, before anyone gets too offended (or not offended enough) let me make it clear that I am in fact a Christian who prays daily. So I obviously draw the crazy-line at a particular point, and it might not be where other folks place it. To my mind, however, it seems likely that if there are in fact angels, the best methods of communicating with them are not likely to be found in a mass-market text, even one written by someone who has "written spiritual columns for... Playboy, AARP: The Magazine, and Family Circle."

Seriously. That's what his bio says. You just cannot make up something that awesome.

Nevertheless, I would suggest that if you happen to be in search of angels in order to "gain... invaluable knowledge of their abilities to bring clarity, perspective, and healing in one's life," you look first to the Bible—or at least to commentary by an author who demonstrates some spiritual clarity and perspective in their own life and work. And it might not be easy going. After all, William Blake—who saw and wrote about angels from an early age—once wrote that "That which can be made Explicit to the Idiot is not worth my care."

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No use crying over dot dot dot, etc etc.

Harvey went to bed on Saturday without emptying the milk jugs of their contents, so despite the late hour I ventured to the cold downstairs to pump the last bits of precious milk into a storage container. Thirty minutes of mindless internet surfing later, I had a tidy four ounces in a bottle. I went into the kitchen, disassembled the pumping apparatus, labeled two freezer bags with the day's date, and was about to pour the milk into the bags when my hand slipped capping the sharpie and sent the bottle flying across the counter. Precious life essence spilled everywhere. I dove at the bottle to try and right it, simultaneously reaching for a paper towel. The whole role of paper towels came off the rack and fell in the milk. Milk splattered onto the wall and dripped to the floor. Our last role of paper towels uncurled itself into a soggy mess.

I put my head down on the wet surface and started to sob.

Dan came into the room to see what was the trouble.

"I know what this looks like," I said.

Dan looked at me quizzically. "What?"

"Crying over spilled milk."

"Oh," Dan said.

"Whoever said that spilled milk wasn't a big deal? He never had to pump it out of his own breast."

By way of explanation, it's been a rather hard month in our household. After half a year of home-office mommy-hood, I'll soon be transitioning to working outside the home. This is not a situation I'm excited about. Indeed, I wouldn't choose it if there were any other choice. For the next four months I'll spend about five hours every week sitting on the floor of a public rest room with a vacuum hose attached to my tit. And if that's not a metaphor for modern motherhood, and all the bullshit we have to put up with in this mother fucking capitalist shitsdom, then I don't know what is.

You can see that I'm rapidly cycling through all the stages of grief. And then repeating them.

A week ago I went to interview at the office of the big company who is acquiring the small company I work for. The first man I talked to had a picture of a newborn on his desk. I inquired, and he gushed about his new baby girl, now three months old.

"My wife is just ending her maternity leave," he said, "and it's really hard on her. I mean, she has to work for the money and all, but she doesn't want to leave the baby. We've looked into daycare, you know? or having a family member do it? But we have a certain way we want to raise our child. And we want to be able to do that. But with the working and everything, I don't know if we can. It's just really hard."

"I know," I say.

"Anyway," he says, "we're really excited to have you come on board."

Yesterday I went into the office again to meet with my new boss. Even though it was only a lunch meeting and I only went about 3 hours between Harvey feedings, I developed a clog in my breast which turned into mastitis. By five o'clock I was in bed shivering with seven blankets pulled over me. And what felt like a display case of Cutco knives angling to escape from the confines of my breast tissue.

I called up the doctors office and begged them to send a prescription. The nurse asked me 20 questions, agreed it sounded like mastitis, then asked some additional questions to assuage her curiosity.

"How often are you feeding him?" she asked.

"About once every two-and-a-half hours."

"Wow! And he's eight months old???"

"Well, yes." I got that feeling in the pit of my stomach when my mommy sense tells me I'm about to be criticized. "He's eating solid foods too, but he does like nursing."

"And you're home with him to let him do that?"

"Well, yes." (For the remainder of the week at least, but I don't go into that.)

"Wow! Good for you! You know that's the best thing for them, but it can be so hard to pull off."

Oh yeah? Tell me about it.

"My sister," she continued, "has a baby who's 9 months old. She's a teacher, and when the baby was littler they were sympathetic about her pumping during the day. But now that he's older they're kind of tired of it. They want her to come to staff meetings during lunch. And it's hard on her, because she's having a hard time finding time to pump."

"Yeah..." I say.

"When I had my babies I worked nights," she goes on. "My husband would put all the sleeping kids in the car and bring them to the hospital where I worked so that I could feed the baby in the middle of my shift."

"Wow."

"But it's hard. I was committed to breast feeding until a year, but it was a hard thing to pull off. Kudos on you for doing that. Anyway I'll call in this prescription now..."

In America today we have a new "problem that has no name." We've gone from being bored alone in the house, to being screwed alone in the workplace, because that boring house now costs us more money in financing each month than three new shiny sets of washer and dryer.

We keep saying to each other "It's hard. It's so hard." and then we go back to work, because sympathy don't pay the bills. Because when every family has two incomes suddenly everything is more expensive and every family NEEDS two incomes. Because imparting your values onto your children is less important than owning a place to stash their exersaucer.

It makes me want to start a revolution, but I can't leave the house today because my tit's all swelled up and I can't put on a bra.

And the pump doesn't come with a car attachment.

And I have so much work to do.

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Peekaboo Sunshine

As you might have gathered from reading our blog, it's been a rough month. And not just for us it seems. Lots of our friends are reporting tails of suckitude from various arenas of their life endeavors. Our tales of woe are matched by other tales more long and woeful. Sometimes, it seems, life kinda blows.

I wish I had something more deep or moving to say on the topic, or that I could give everyone a hug, or a cookie, or a 15-minute cigarette break. But I can't, so I'm doing the next best thing. Here is a little ray of sunshine from our joyful baby boy. I invite you into the psyche of someone who laughs and laughs even when a game isn't going his way. Even when something as simple as peekaboo presents difficulties.

what are you reading?

As part of this blog project, we've lately been interested in just what else is out there in the "blogosphere", if you will pardon the neologism. There are just so many people writing, not least those total unknowns who pipped us in the nominations for weblog of the year. If we want to compete, we have to our research and study the field! It's also fun to read new stuff. So, if you don't mind, please let us know what awesome blogs you're reading; they don't even have to be snark-free! If you write a blog, that's even better!

To forward this project, I'll let you in on a little secret: you can make links in the comments by the following method:

[link=http://squibix.net/blog]the squibix family blog[/link]

Note: no quotation marks. [b]bold[/b] and [i]italics[/i] also work. But shhhh! don't tell the comment spammers!

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What's this "Shitstem" you speak of?

A while back Dan and I we had dinner with an old friend and her boyfriend. The boyfriend had the interesting distinction of being a roots anarchist. He was the only person we've ever met who was actually raised up anarchist. With anarchist parents. This sounds pretty cool, but this particular evening the mindset proved more annoying than anything else. Our friend (who happened to be pregnant at the time) had wanted to reach her boyfriend in transit to confirm the dinner plans. Unfortunately he didn't have his cell turned on, and he hadn't told her where he'd gone or with whom. We ended up eating without him, and when he called to find out what was going on he got an earful from his pregnant GF. This was met with an equally strong earful of phrases like "You're acting like we're married" and "You can't tie me down!"

The anarchist finally arrived at our place for dinner, and he turned out to be a bit more subdued and shier than I expected an anarchist to be. In retrospect, this must have been merely his lack of engagement in bourgeois social mores. He didn't engage in conversation with the three of us, so much as sit to the side and make philosophical pronouncements every once and awhile. When our friend related the details of her prenatal exam that morning—the shocking news that the birth center reserves the right to conduct random drug testing throughout the pregnancy—the anarchist looked up from his ginger bear and made this proclamation:

"That's the shitstem, man."

Get it? It's like shit + system. The shitty system. The shitstem. Everything you hate about Big Brother and world's institutions all rolled into one perfect word.

Over the past five years Dan and I have used the word shitstem to describe all cases where any institution seems to be acting a bit paternalistic. Unpaid breaks at work? it's the shitstem. No streaming olympic coverage? the shitstem. I used it the other day in a blog post (very appropriately, I might add) and Dan pointed out that our readership might very well have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about. Also to make matters more confusing I spelled it like it's pronounced, shitstom, because spelling conventions are obviously the work of a vast malevolent conspiracy. In other words, the shitstem.

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a treadmill of one sort or another

Prior to Harvey I had one hobby. Exercise. And boy did I exercise. I was a self-proclaimed gym rat. The kind of person who waxes eloquent about aerobic training zones and VO2max. The kind of person who feels just a bit "off" if she doesn't get in five good hours of spin class a week. The kind of person who won't eat ice cream on Friday night because she doesn't want to spoil her "long run" on Saturday.

Yeah. I was "that" girl.

I lifted weights.

Leah shows off her muscles

hardcore on the honeymoon

I ran a marathon.

Leah pre-marathon

I'll smoke you all

And (although I wouldn't condone this sort of thing for anyone trying to follow Jesus) I did yoga. a LOT yoga.

Leah does some yoga by a waterfall

careful where you open those chakras!

Then came Harvey. And now on Saturday mornings instead of going to the gym I find myself doing a different set of calisthenics in the nursery. I lift the baby, I put the baby down. I try to keep the baby from falling on his face while I assemble a laundry load of pocket-style diapers.

Leah makes diapers while handling Harvey with her feet

works all core muscle groups

And crazy though it may sound to anyone who knew me in my previous life, I'm thinking about quitting the gym. What have I become? Someone who values thrift over thrust? wallet over weight set? vet bills over treadmills?

The rational part of my brains says: It's fifty bucks a month. I get there about once a week. Otherwise, I managed to lose fifty pounds off of breast-feeding and walking the dog.

So I ask, is it worth half a c-note for 30 minutes on the rowing machine once a week? Or the peace of mind that I HAVE somewhere to go when it's raining outside and the baby is screaming inside? Is that worth $600 a year? Does that fall into the "cheaper than a divorce" category? Or the "stop being so selfish and pay off your loans" category?

I'll think about it while I'm making diapers.

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they like the same food, too

Rascal looking out the window

he keeps watch on the neighborhood

We call both Harvey and Rascal our babies, even though they are of course not biologically related. Still, that doesn't mean they don't take after each other. Harvey's ever-advancing development vis-a-vis supporting himself has now allowed him to practice one of the puppy's favorite activities:

Harvey looking out the window

he learned from a master

Next thing you know we'll be mediating disputes over window space.

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hooray!

With this post, we have written something every day this month. It's the first time we managed to fill up a whole month, something that I naturally count with a major achievement on par with, oh, I don't know, sitting through a Star Wars marathon. Something that involves sitting, in any case, and not much actual hard work. That doesn't make me feel any less triumphant, though!

We came close last month, missing just a single day (stupid January 8th... what do you think we were doing instead?!), as well as January of 2007 and February, 2004 (the latter is still our best month by number of posts, but I have no doubt that record will soon be smashed as well).

So hooray! And maybe later this evening Leah will even write something with actual content.

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file with other unhelpful advice such as "sleep now while you still can"

At church this morning I had a chat with a friend who is pregnant with her first child, and as is my wont I said things that are tremendously unhelpful to someone about to go through labor for the first time. Like, "I screamed so loud the neighbors could hear me two blocks away!" and "It's really not scary, because it hurts so much you WANT to die!"

Also? I mentioned how the placenta looks really neeto! Like your best biology class demo ever! I didn't mention how we stored ours in the freezer for three months before finally chucking it into the tomato patch. I mean, I didn't want her to think I was a weirdo or something.

It's true; our hippy homebirth situates our family squarely in the crazy people camp. When I go to the doctor's office these days the nurses still whisper about "the woman who had NO OB!!!" (Someone the other day asked me, "Can you have drugs at a homebirth?" And I was like, "Whatever drugs you normally have in your house, I guess.") But we differ from some stereotypical descriptions of homebirthers you may have heard. There were no crystals or nature sounds at my homebirth. No one coached me through soothing breathing. I didn't connect with my power animal or colored energies. I just, you know, did it. I muscled down, screamed the hell out of every contraction, and the baby came out mostly on his own. I compare it to going through the stomach flu or bad mexican food. No one needs to give you a tutorial on how to get through it. Although for safety sake, I won't try to search for that sort of thing on YouTube.

Not to belittle anyone's totally helpful anti-pain birthing techniques. More power to you! (and life essence and colored light, when it comes to that.) But that's not my thing, and I'm so happy I spent the last few weeks before giving birth organizing my laundry room rather than reading how-to books. Because I didn't get out of bed for a week, and there were A LOT of people in my laundry room. Before child number two, you better believe those baskets are going to be labeled. With cycle instructions taped to the door of the washer.

Don't get me wrong; thinking about giving birth can be totally scary. And childbirth itself isn't like going out for icecream, but I could name a lot of things that are way worse. Like the stomach flu. Or a really bad urinary tract infection. Or sitting through Bob Castas's commentary of the olympics.

But in the end, however long the darn thing takes, it's over. And there's your baby. And more importantly, YOU'RE NO LONGER PREGNANT! And one way or another, it's all worth it.

two minutes old

two minutes old

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