Le sigh

I'm sitting here synchronising my brand new spanking iPod, feeling rather sorry for myself. Not because I have said brand new spanking iPod (Creative Zen, I gave you two chances and you failed me, thus my cross over to the dark side, and may I say the dark side is simply divine), but because jesus heffalump people, what is going on here? 5 comments? 7 comments? It's like the grim old days of this blog's birth. I thought that any talk of the Brain Trust would garner at least 10 comments.

I had an email yesterday from a D(ear)D(ear) friend, ahem, and she tells me that she has had more than two dozen people take her up on the personal card exchange? Would you like to know how I'm faring in that respect? One. Uno. Nico, you generous soul, you. I'm finding it hard to believe that I actually have more than a handful of Bloglines subscribers at this rate. Is this your way of telling me that I really am hard to get? Shiiiiit.

This virtual waste of a post is just your reminder - only a couple of days until the card exchange is done and I compile the final spreadsheet. We still have fewer people participating than last year, which is frankly almost as upsetting as the notion of Britney adopting twins from China. If mass communication is not your bag, you have a bit longer to contact me if you want to do a one-on-one card exchange, :::cough, cough:::, so if you want to get a card from my fine Anglo-American self, email me. I am a whore.

To prove that it isn't all about me, me, me, what are your thoughts on blog ads? I don't want to choke the already stuffed sidebars, but here's my deal - I do one ad already, the Bellydance Maternity one over yonder. When I get paid by them every month (which admittedly hasn't occurred in awhile BELLYDANCE MATERNITY), I like to use the money for good internet-related causes. In the past I have surprised a blog friend or two with special gifts, and it also frees me up to give to those lovely fundraising events for deserving bloggers. I would like to make a bit more money via this method, but not to line my own pockets. I have only, and would only use it to give to others. Do you think this is a good idea? If I buy you a gift certificate to Amazon spontaneously then will you send me a motherfucking Christmas card?

Ahem. I'm off to synchronise and lick my new iPod. Do you think it would send me a Christmas card?


Spreading holiday cheer

Initiating a holiday card exchange, and now doing a post about Thanksgiving...I must be getting sentimental in my old age.

I never thought I'd say this, but I miss Thanksgiving. Growing up, Thanksgiving was almost always spent at the trailer of one of my paternal aunts. It was more like a small ranch-style house on a uh, trailer thing, so quite a few of us could fit in for the festivities. Football would of course be on in the background, and my aunt would save up all of her Star magazines in the weeks prior so I would be entertained. In that respect, a lot of things haven't changed. Give me a horrible, gossipy tabloid or ten and I'm in heaven.

When I was a teenager I started to preach against this idea of Thanksgiving - a holiday celebration centred around the extermination of an entire race of people. I like the idea of Thanksgiving, and I choose to focus on the notion of having a designated time at which to spend time with family and reflect on what we are thankful for. However, there will never be any Pilgrim and Native American stories told by me to P, as the fairy tale of a happy little feast between the poor victims of religious bigotry and the staid, noble savages is not a story I wish to perpetuate. Yes, I am that parent. There is also residual guilt that even my interpretation of Thanksgiving is still horribly disrespectful in that I'm looking to be thankful and spread the warm fuzzies on the back of a holiday with a rather bloody and appalling historical framework.

Despite all of my analysing, I do miss that family time. Being 4000 miles away from your family will make you miss even the most minor of events, so when the holidays come around it is particularly difficult. Oddly enough, I miss certain things even more because I know that I'm missing an assembly of the Brain Trust.

Oh, to be a fly on the wall of my Mom's house today. Not only are they getting the old gang back together - my Mom, Ralph, Phyllis, Aunt Florence and Arthur, but, BUT there is a new honorary member, my Mom's next door neighbours Ferret Stroker and Ferret Stroker's braless wife. Ferret Stroker is thus called, because as one might surmise, he strokes a ferret. Braless Wife is the same, cavorting about the yard in all her non-restrained wonder. Molly expressed a fondness for Ferret Stroker when she visited me in PA, but how can you not instantly warm to a skinny guy with long hair wearing cut off jean shorts stroking a ferret by the side of his house? I know you would have been instantly smitten as well, dear reader.

I'm hoping they avoid the catastrophe of last Thanksgiving when Arthur stomped off in a huff because no one complimented him on the fire he started in the fireplace. Florence pulled my Mom and brother aside separately, instructing them to find Arthur and expand floridly on the magnificence of his fire. Arthur has already informed my Mom that he is hopeful that she has enough wood for him to do his Fire Whisperer tricks yet again this Thanksgiving.

Our Thanksgiving is somewhat more restrained here in the UK. P is home sick today, as am I for the third day straight. She has been calmly reclined on the sofa for over an hour now watching Baby TV, so she is definitely not herself. If she was well I wouldn't have had a block of time to write this post. Despite our current state of unwellness, I am thankful. I'm ever so thankful that I am in a position to be able to post this:

That's my girl!!!

Happy Thanksgiving!


As I can't go a post without mentioning Ye Olde Card Exchange, I had a genius idea - I added links to all the participants in the sidebar, so now you can stalk freely and determine whether you'd like to get cards from these people. Look at the names over there people - we're talking big time stuff!

Like I (think I) said before - you don't need to send cards to everyone, so if time, creativity, finances or holiday cheer are in short supply, don't worry. You'll be put into a smaller group so that you are only obligated to send cards to 5 or 6 others. Obviously you have the option to sending to everyone on the whole list if you're feeling particularly giving.

You don't even need to use your real name. Blog pseudonyms are fine too. At least two people last year used pseudonyms I think, and their cards got where they needed to go. The list is largely comprised of Americans, with a few Australians, the two non-British UK residents, and that's it. Canadians, where are you? British people, where are you? Europeans, where are you?

Check out some of those links, be confident they aren't skin flayers or deranged stalker types, and then email me at barrenalbion at gmail dot com. Remember, you can also just exchange cards with me and not the group. So far I have one taker. One. Seriously, what the frick?


A question of devotion

Shit man, this kid-raising gig is just one question after another. Because I have now vocally entered the realm as a mom blogger (pardon me whilst I give a 1000 watt smile and tend to my baking muffins), you'll be forced to endure more and more of this stuff as time progresses.

As you know, I am one of those cruel mothers that institutionalises my child by putting her into daycare all day, 5 days a week. The poor kid must suffer through endless cuddles from her adoring caregivers, many hours a week spent painting and gluing, and trips to the seafront, parks, and the daycare's very own playground. Things really were much better for her when she spent all day, 7 days a week with me - desperately vying for my attention whilst Mummy topped up her martini, took slow drags from endless cigarettes, and watched Bold and the Beautiful.

Anyway, as children in the care of Evil Daycare are wont to do, P has come down with a few illnesses since joining a few months ago. I'm inclined to think it has been increased succeptibility due to lack of breastfeeding (ok, ok, I'll let it go now, sorry), but kids are just going to pick these things up occasionally. However, dear Evil Daycare, please do not ring me at work each and every time P is not her shining star of a self. The girl cannot be on every hour of every day. She is going to have days when she doesn't want to flash you a grin for just looking at her. She can't always be just so damn charming that kids cry when she leaves, which, I might add, happened a couple of weeks ago. For reals.

I have had some time off sick lately myself, despite having been breastfed for 14 months (SORRY, ok, I'm really done now), so I need to actually get work done when I'm, you know, at work. After having off Thursday due to a random 24 hour retching disease which saw me vomit for the first time in years, I was back to work Friday like a happy little clam who wanted to get shit accomplished. My mobile rang its standard 24 CTU ringtone, which is never good because no one but P's daycare phone me on it during the day.

I was told that P was hovering between being well and likely unwell. She did not have a fever, nor had she thrown up or expelled any odd liquids or foreign bodies. She was, in the words of one of her caregivers, "not herself". I paused, waiting for her to tell me why she had interrupted my work-induced mania, but no such statement was to be had. She suggested that P should be collected earlier than usual, despite not having anything other than this possible unwellness. I called The Dude so we could figure out if he could pick her up earlier, but neither of us could figure out if we were to rush to P's aid due to lack of cheeriness on her part.

I phoned daycare back to let them know that if one of us could swing it that we would pick her up a bit earlier, but that we weren't going to hastily drive/book taxis and get there in 5 minutes just because P was a bit quiet that day. Apparently the staff at P's daycare disagree with my parenting style, as I could hear them discussing my indifference in hushed toneswhile I was supposed to be on hold. The most I could make sense of was something along the lines of -

Mean Nursery Manager Lady: "She doesn't want to pick her up?"

"She has been told that P is NOT WELL, right?"

:::heavy, laboured sigh:::
"Ok. We'll keep her here then. NOT WELL."

So I'm a horrible mother. I have a lot of work to do and I don't want to pick up my daughter when she is simply "not well". I didn't appreciate being
metaliaed and judged for the decisions that I make. What is the point of me working full time if I have to rush to my child's aid every single time she is a bit under the weather? I'm a paranoid person with anxiety, if I thought something could possibly be wrong, I would be there quicker than you can have a panic attack. I don't know what jobs some other parents have which enable them to leave work at least once every week because their child is crying more than usual or is picking his or her nose four times a day instead of two, but I don't have that job.

I am curious to hear from others - how sensitive do you have to be? Would most parents drop everything at the slightest hint of an unwell child? For the record, The Dude picked P up two hours early and she was absolutely fine. Hmph.


Obligatory holiday card exchange reference: At last count there are 13 participants, well short of last year's 20. C'mon people, live a little.

If you are on the fence about participating, feel free to email me to ask who else has signed up. I'm more than happy to tell you. I assure you they are all people at least some of us know. You may not read them yourself, but I'm sure you know someone who does. If you don't want to use your real name, that's fine too. A couple of participants last year only provided their blog nicknames, and it all managed to go without a hitch. Also - UK people, what the fuck? There are two UK-based participants including myself so far, and we're both American. Stop drinking tea and watching EastEnders (or whatever it is you limeys do) and email me.

Because I'm not just a whore I'm a thieving whore, I'm taking
DD's handy little button and her idea about personal card exchange as well. What are you going to do about it DD - write a pithy little smart ass email to me? I can take it. Anyway, if you are keen on the card idea but don't want to send one to a group of people you may or may not know, why not send one to me? I'll do the same if you provide me with your address, just make sure you specify which card scheme you want - mass or me. No flat ass photo requests please, I'm ever so tired of them.


Glutton for punishment

Remember last year when I orchestrated a Christmas card exchange? Well guess what sunshines, I'm doing it again! I had so much fun tinkering with my spreadsheet and getting cards from far-flung places that I can barely restrain myself this year. I wanted to get a slight jump start, as last year things were a bit rushed. I still managed to drag 19 other people kicking, screaming and cursing to participate, and together folks we can make it even bigger this year.

In case you lack the drive or attention span to skim my posts on this subject from last year, here's the gist of things:

1) You email me (barrenalbion at gmail dot com) your name, postal address, blog address and whether or not you are happy to receive mail with photos of bellies/babies/kids. Please do not let the photo aspect of things deter you from participating - you really are free to say no! I think the participants (largely readers of this blog I imagine) would understand.
-I hate to do this, but bloggers only please. That's the only way I can ensure that legitimate people are getting involved. When it comes down to it this whole infertility/mom blogger sphere isn't really that big, so it's easy enough to make sure that no one who makes furniture out of pelts of human skin signs up. Sorry Rockmama, blog or not that weird hobby of yours has forced my hand and you are out.

2) I draft a spreadsheet (woo hoo!) with all these details, and send it off to all participants soon after the deadline. Depending on the number of those participating I will probably be dividing people into groups as I did last year. That way, rather than having to send cards to loads of people, you're dealing with a much more manageable group. That said, you can also send to people in other groups if you want! You win either way.

3) Deadline: last year we had some very crafty participants and people from the US, Canada, Australia and the UK involved, so the more time before the holidays the better. Therefore, the deadline for this will be Friday, 30 November. I would then *hope* to have the spreadsheet sent to everyone that weekend.

4) If you would like to send cards but not receive because of privacy issues, we can do that too. Just email me to say that you'd like to do this and I'll send you the spreadsheet when it is complete.

5) The emphasis here is holiday rather than Christmas. We're all about the ecumenical approach here. If you don't celebrate Christmas, please don't make that a barrier to your participation.

6) Please feel free to mention this on your own blog, the more the merrier and all of that cliche shit.

With the whoring of this programme wrapping up, may I just say that I think it's quite a wonderful thing to be involved with. I'm a cynical soul, but I got positively giddy at the thought of getting more cards from bloggers again this year. I was introduced to some great new-to-me blogs through this last year, and I hope doing it again will enable me to do the same this year. Also, at least one UK reader has to get involved, for the love of God, I'm a foreigner on your soil and I was still the only UK participant.

So come on people, bring a little light into my life. I have broken tits, a fucked up reproductive system, a flat ass, I work full-time and have a toddler with boundless energy. You owe me.


Down with breasts

My difficulty with breastfeeding is well documented. Some may curse me for bringing this up yet again, as one would be forgiven for thinking this ship has sailed when it comes to me utilising it as a blogging topic. I suspect my comments will be hovering in the low single digits on this one simply out of reader boredom and disgust, but I have some things I need to get off my chest. CHEST, get it? My humour is just astoundingly complex, I know.

I'll be honest, breastfeeding - don't like it. I am so over reading about the myriad ways I'm putting my daughter at a disadvantage because I didn't breastfeed her. As most of you will know, I pumped for the first two months of her life, but I supplemented with formula from birth. I tried desperately to get my supply high enough that I could give P mostly breast milk, but that opportunity dwindled quite rapidly. I felt guilty at the time, but now I just find myself angry at rabid breastfeeding proponents, and ambivalence toward breastfeeding itself. If anything, I'm edging toward putting it in the category of things I'd like to banish from my brain entirely, along with thoughts of spinach, animal abuse, and tights.

If I were to have another baby (there I go with that humour again), I don't know if I'd try to breastfeed. I think my early relationship with P suffered tremendously as a result of my largely breastfeeding-related depression and lack of sleep. Her reflux and colic were other obstacles preventing me from gushing about loving my preshus baaaaaybee for months and months, but my difficulty breastfeeding was paramount. It's kind of like name association - if you knew a vile little creature in elementary school called Amelia, you aren't going to name your own preshus baaaaybee Amelia no matter how lovely the name might be. It's like that for me when it comes to breastfeeding. I'm sure it's a fabulous thing to do, but it pushed me into a cubbyhole and pinched me on the arm way too many times for me to want to try it again.

I know as female bloggers we are always begging women not to pick on others for their choices, but things don't ever seem to get better. Amongst the more enthusiastic breastfeeding contingent I often read statements granting exception to women who cannot breastfeed for medical reasons (oh, thank you wise, sanctimonious breastfeeding mothers), but those who choose not to breastfeed are self-absorbed and not concerned about what is best for their child. Who are they to judge? It's just so insignificant in the wider scope of things, I can't possibly grasp why perfect strangers feel it suitable to comment on the matter. It's a boob. Milk *sometimes* comes out of it. Who cares? Move along.

As a full-time working mum who didn't breastfeed and possibly doesn't plan to for a subsequent child, I am probably at the head of the queue to be designated as a selfish mother who shouldn't have bothered having children. I fail to understand how it is anyone's business but my own whether I choose to breastfeed my own child(ren). I did not hurt P in anyway by ceasing the pumping session at 2 months, and if it makes anyone feel any better, she has been no more ill than any of the breastfeed babies in her cohort, she says more words than most of them, and she was the first of the 8 babies to walk. Not bad for a kid who was fed poison for the first 12 months of her life, I dare say.

For me, it all comes back to the fact that my breastfeeding troubles made me depressed for a few months and affected my relationship with my child. What more reason do I need to not want to do it again? Is it really worth sacrificing the fantastic potential to bond with a newborn? If I decide that boob is off the menu for petri baby number 2, so be it.

To stand up for the rights of potential bottle feeders everywhere, should I create my own little icon saying "Suck on it rabid breastfeeders", with the image of a baby being fed a bottle to combat all those "Suck on it Facebook" breastfeeding icons?

I shall retire to my hole now and prepare for the flames.