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The Power of a Loving Mother

20 Dec

Love Fest

I was pushing Seabass in his stroller on one of those crisp, sunny December mornings that Central California does so well when I suddenly felt a little hand on mine.  It was Seabass, reaching as far out of his seat as possible just to touch me.  I had been in a reverie, tripping on neon red maple tree leaves and the warmth of our neighbors’ smiles.  But the little pink hand got my attention.

I reached over and gave him my own hand, which he grasped and pulled to his face in a most gentle, loving motion.  He just wanted to enjoy my presence, and I would have walked halfway to China stooped over with my hand on his face if he’d asked.

The truth is, he did ask.  I nearly broke my back walking home with him clinging to me like that, and I’d do it again and again.

As I caressed his pudgy little angel face, the thought came to me that I love Seabass so much that I believe in him.  This seemed a little odd because my little guppie is only 19 months old – how much is there really to believe in at that age?  Do I believe in his ability to eat with a spoon like a big boy?  His ability to resist touching the space heater?  His eventual ability to potty in the toilet?  You get my point: It’s not like we’re talking graduation from Harvard or running a marathon here.

But it got me thinking about my own small achievements and the role my mom played in them. Just musing on this, I felt an intoxicating gratitude for her sacrifices to be available to me throughout childhood and beyond.  What might have happened to me without my mother’s love and belief in me?  I shudder to think.

Everyone in this world needs a cheerleader – someone to shout encouragement from the sidewalk and pass little cups of Gatorade as we trudge along in the race of life.  I’m humbled to be cheered on by my own mom and even more so to cheer my precious little one on, too.  Thank you, Mom, and thank you, Seabass.

The best medicine for a sick nursing mother

11 Nov

Okay, so it's a little creepy that there's a fake blog for a fake couple and their fake baby.

I’m really sick.  Yes, I’ve descended into an abyss of wadded up toilet paper, fleece, grape juice and whining.  I’ve never been all that great at handling illness, but at least there used to be sick days I could use. 

Now?  Yeah, no such thing as sick days.  Drat.

Thankfully Jake has some.  When he got out of bed to start the pre-work hygeine routine this morning, I looked at him with death in my eyes and pleaded for him to stay home.  Thank God it worked. Otherwise Seabass may have driven me over the edge.  I don’t know what’s gotten into that kid, but he is downright inconsolable.  IS IT NORMAL FOR A BABY TO LAST ONLY ONE HOUR BEFORE MELTING DOWN???  IS IT NORMAL FOR HIM TO ACT LIKE HE’S ONLY THREE WEEKS OLD AGAIN???  Forget it.  I already know the answer: Every baby is differentTeeth.  His diaper’s too tight. 

Sigh.  He’s lucky he’s so stinking cute.

I think the toughest part about being sick right now is the fact that I can’t take much of anything to make me feel better because it will all either go straight to Seabass’ delicate little system or dry my girls up.  No Nyquil, Dayquil, Tylenol PM or anything that will knock me out and take away the pain.  I’m trying to remember that I did labor drug-lessly.  Labor was a lot harder than this, right?  Right?

Anyway, in my unmedicated oblivion, I’ve spent a fair amount of time poking around the internet.  And guess what I’ve found?  Only the best baby blog ever:

The Halpert Baby Blog.

I love love love The Office.  It’s the only TV show I watch because even when it’s bad it’s good.  So discovering the marketing genius that is a mockumentary blog about Jim and Pam’s baby Cece tickled me pink, though it’s also made me a little crazy how easy the show makes parenting look.  I know, I know: it’s not real.  But the blog certainly blurs the lines a little, doesn’t it?

Nest pendant winner…and a Miracle Blanket giveaway

5 Nov

Note: Before you go zooming to the middle of the page to see who won, please be warned that there is yet ANOTHER giveaway challenge at the bottom of the page.  Don’t miss out.  Okay, that is all.

There’s a beautiful little term I like to use for getting more than you bargained for: unintended consequences. 

This term aptly describes what happened with the little nest pendant giveaway for which I’m supposed to announce the winner today.  I never really planned what the question would be to enter the challenge – I sort of came up with it off the cuff, on a whim, on the fly.  The unintended consequence was that you all responded so beautifully and with such emotion-inducing responses that I’ve been dreading this day.  So well done, you amazing bunch of tough-as-nails parents.  Sheesh.

Before I announce the winner, I need to make a few shout-outs:

  • To Caroline, whose comment was the most artfully written, and whose sentiment resonated with me profoundly.  The only reason she’s not winning the pendant is that she’s my best friend and it would look weird if I awarded it to her.  So I’m giving her a pendant for Christmas instead.  Win-win.
  • To Judi, whose breezy comment imparted long-term perspective on what it means not only to be a mother, but to be a liver of life.
  • To Monica, who is quite simply the hardest-corest mom of all time.
  • To Jen in SLO for the hilarious tale of being a stand-in mommy.
  • And to Harry, for taking the plunge, giving his daughter away in marriage, and being the sole male to respond to my challenge.

And now, the winner of the nest pendant is…

KIMBERLY MASSE!

Kim, you won our hearts and prayers with your story.  Thank you for sharing your ordeal, and I hope that the addition of a little bling to your life brings you some much-deserved joy.

And thank you to EVERYONE for participating.  What a treat to hear your stories and be humbled by your courage.

 —————–

Now, for something completely different.  The good people at Miracle Blanket have offered me a new blanket to give to one lucky winner!  Do you remember how I feel about this product?  That it helped Seabass to sleep so well that I considered buying stock in the company?  That it kept me from putting him up for adoption?  (That’s a joke, now – c’mon people.)  If you are an expectant parent, know an expectant parent, have a newborn or know someone with a newborn, this is the giveaway for you.  Here’s how it works:

  • First, you need to FAVORITE Miracle Blanket on Twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/MiracleBlanket.
  • Then, you need to LIKE Miracle Blanket on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/MiracleBlanket.
  • Last, you need to coerce a new person into subscribing to my blog, www.higherhighslowerlows.com.  Whether that’s you or a friend, I don’t care.  But if it’s a friend, make sure they comment on the blog and mention you by name so you both get a chance to win.  See the comments below for an example I’ve posted.

All this business needs to happen by midnight CST Monday.  I’ll send my winner’s name to Miracle Blanket the next morning.  The winner will be posted Tuesday afternoon after 2pm CST on Miracle Blanket’s Twitter and Facebook sites. Each winner will have 24 hours to respond. The only way they will know if they won is to watch our Facebook and Twitter sites. If they do not respond they lose the prize.  The contest is open to the U.S. and Canada.  (Sorry international folks – their rules, not mine.)

Good luck, and happy subscribing!

All I Want For Christmas Is Two Distinct Eyebrows

4 Nov

Dear Santa, A little help? Please? Love, Jaime

A couple years ago, Jake and I read the book The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman.  The book is just meh, but its principles have definitely helped us to understand how we each show and receive love.  Before we’d read it?  Yeah, we weren’t so hot at that.

Jake’s love language is affection and physical touch.  That is how he receives and shows his love.  Before reading the book, I remember Jake holding my hand while we watched a movie and boring holes in my skin with repetitive thumb-strokes.  To him, that said I love you.  To me, it said I’m trying to kill you with my thumb, slowly and methodically.  I told him to knock it off, and he felt rejected.  No bueno, especially since I rarely returned the repetitive affection.  If it annoyed me, it must have annoyed him too, right?

Meantime, my love language is gifts.  I’m always afraid that sounds materialistic, but really any gift will do.  I also relish in gift-giving and the surprise on someone’s face when they get something they really like.  That speaks love to me.  But not so much with Jake.  I would buy him some little trinket or doodad that reminded me of him and await the gush of gratitude, but all he really wanted was a hug.  On the flip side, for our first Christmas together, he bought me a heating pad for my menstrual cramps.  A heating pad.  “You said you needed one!” he explained upon seeing my grimace-trying-to-be-a-smile. 

Did I say any gift will make me happy?  Okay, I admit, I feel most loved when someone gets me what I really want, not just what they think I need. 

But then we read the five love languages book, and now we get it.  I put my hand on Jake’s shoulder/knee/neck and he feels loved.  I still don’t understand how, but he swears it works.  And he goes out of his way to get me little somethings now and then so I fell loved.  The best he’s done so far was to surprise me with a super-plushy bathrobe I’d been lusting after.  When I asked him how he knew I wanted it, he pointed to my stained, crusty old bathrobe and said he was sick of seeing me hobble around in rags.  “Sort of a gift for everyone” is what he called it.  Hey, whatever works.

For gifty types like me, Christmas is a big deal.  I’ve been brainstorming gifts to give to family all year long, taking notes, keeping lists, etc.  It is how I enjoy myself.  Jake, on the other hand, is stressed out about the gift-giving.  (I don’t blame him for wondering why there isn’t a national affection holiday.  Wait, maybe it’s best that there isn’t one.  [Mind wandering]…ew, nevermind.)  So, to help him out, I present him with an annual list of things I might enjoy.  Again, this probably seems materialistic and grabby, but he always appreciates the minimization of margin for error. 

I noticed as I put it together that this year’s list is very different from prior years’.  Pre-Seabass, my wish list would include clothes, cookbooks, kitchenware, etc.  And while I do and will always appreciate those sorts of things, this year?  It’s all about making up for the hygiene I’ve lost since Seabass was born.

Again, the gifts I want are sort of like gifts for everybody.

My town can beat up your town.

30 Oct

I want to take a moment to recognize San Luis Obispo, California as the happiest place on earth.  Nope, not Disneyland, and not your local BevMo!  It’s San Luis Obispo all the way.  (We even have the press to prove it!)

Strangely, there was a time when I would have sold my left leg to leave this bucolic town.  I grew up here, you see.  It took living in New York, San Francisco, Italy and New Zealand for me to understand how good I’d had it back home.

And now that Seabass is under my mama fin, my appreciation has gone through the roof.  This town is A REVELATION!  There are parks galore, a children’s museum, weekly rain-or-shine farmer’s markets, summertime concerts in the plaza, storytime at the library, incredibly free symphony dress rehearsals at the Performing Arts Center, hikes hikes and more hikes, parent and child activity groups, a kids’ warm water swimming pool and seasonal happenings too numerous to count.  But I’d like to give a shout-out to just one of them: the annual Halloween Munchkin March.

This march starts at the SLO Children’s Museum and winds its way through downtown, where shopkeepers stand at their doors in costume with bowls of candy.  Babies, kids, and even some spirited parents are dressed in costumes ranging from Marie Antoinette to a banana to a ladybug.  While I would have loved to dress Seabass as, well, a seabass, this year, he made due as a monkey.  And the cutest monkey you ever did see, of course.

Along the parade route is a shop called Jim’s Campus Camera, which has provided free professional Halloween photos for eons.  The line snaking out of the shop was a mass of seething costumed humanity: kids screaming, pushing candy into their mouths, pulling each others’ masks off and generally melting down in every possible direction.  It was great.

After getting Seabass’ picture taken, we continued with the Munchkin March to its completion at a local park where there was free pizza and soda awaiting participants.  This was really the grand finale for most of the children in attendance.  Wearing costumes in various states of unravelling, they swung on swings, painted their cheeks with pizza sauce, skidded down the slide, and spun themselves into a sugar-induced frenzy on the merry-go-round.  By that time, Seabass was well primed for a nap, but I could tell he was jealous of all those psychotic kids.  Next year, little buddy, next year.

Easy Christmas Shopping for Housebound Mommies

28 Oct

Okay, people.  Last week I mentioned that I’d be giving away the gorgeous nest necklace I’m wearing in this photo.

Crying Baby, Sad, Pumpkins

 

Well, now’s your chance!  It would be perfect for:

  1. you,
  2. a friend (Christmas? Birthday?)
  3. your wife (so guys, you’re not excluded from this exercise)
  4. your mom (again, guys)

This is a hand-spun little work of art from Pammy’s Attic, whose website (www.pammysattic.net) just went live with all sorts of treasures to check out for Christmas presents.  The artist takes old recipes, old music – whatever screams nostalgia – and whips up these sweet shadow box pendants around a wire nest and three little eggs tucked inside.  It’s the perfect piece of wearable art for the stylish lady-friend in your life.

Here’s how to get the booty: Comment on this post by midnight Wednesday, November 4th with the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do as a parent (mom or dad), or the hardest thing you’ve ever had to witness a parent do.  Be sure to include your email address and blog address, if you have one.  Jake and I will pick the best comment and announce the winner on November 6th.  Remember, creativity counts!

(This giveaway is running in tandem with a giveaway of another of these necklaces on Pammy’s Attic’s blog, so you actually have TWO chances to win.  Head on over to her blog to see how.)

Good luck, and happy commenting!

Controversy Wednesday: BLOGGING ABOUT BABY

27 Oct

Just wait till he sees what I've blogged about him.

I remember the first time I heard about reality TV.  I was home from college for the summer and my parents had taken me out to their local Mexican restaurant, Paco’s (rest in peace).   Between bites of fajita, my mom and dad were gushing about some new wacky show called Survivor.

“The contestants have to complete challenges for food on a desert island,” said my mom.  “If they don’t win, they don’t get to eat.  And they have to make alliances with each other so they don’t get voted off the island at the tribal council.  All the starving and fighting and pain – it’s all captured on tape.  It’s AWESOME!”

I wanted to ask if the cameras even caught the contestants taking a dump, but I was too busy being mortified at the concept of a television show using money as bait for people to act their absolute worst on camera.  For all the world to see.  How disgusting!

And now, here I am with an online journal documenting the ups and downs of my son Seabass’ life for all the world to see.  And bowel movements definitely happen here.

It used to be bad enough that parents brought out “brag books” to show photos of their kids in various states of undress to complete strangers.  Now, we can take a photo, upload it to the internet and broadcast Jimmy’s first potty to an entire world of strangers in real time.   Better yet, we can *ahem* share our personal opinions about child-rearing with strangers and *ahem* graciously receive their thoughts in return. 

This is dangerous technology for someone like me.  You see, I have a rare disease known as BTS.  Blogging Tourette Syndrome.  I have no control over what I write; whatever’s buried in my subconscious just flies onto the page and I click “PUBLISH” before I take a moment to think.  Thankfully, Jake is sensible. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve started to blog about our post-Seabass sex life (“People need to know this!”) only to be shut down by an appropriately private husband (“No, Jaime, they definitely do not need to know this.  Use your BRAIN.  People IN MY OFFICE read your blog.”).  Thank God for him. 

You know who should be thanking Jake for putting boundaries on me?  Seabass.  That poor child has been publicized as a crying and peeing, butt-stealing, dog-eateneasily-abandoned, frustration-causing and depression-inducing little boy.  And that’s not even mentioning the dandruff!  What happens when he’s old enough to hear about what I’ve written from his friends?  “Hey Seabass, I hear you peed the bed again.  Nice job.  Now I’m gonna have to beat you up.”  (Jake assures me this will never happen because with a name like Seabass, you tend to be the beater-upper-guy, not the beaten-up-guy.) 

Okay, so I would never really blog about my child wetting the bed.  Because Jake would stop me. 

It’s amazing to me what other bloggers write about sometimes, though.  Take Heather Armstrong, for example.  Her blog, www.dooce.com is one of the most highly-respected and widely-read blogs out there.  And why?  Because she writes (beautifully and hilariously) about things that no one in their right mind would EVER EVER EVER post on the internet.  She’s actually so open that she was fired from her job for writing about her boss in 2003 and had a verb named after her: “to be dooced” is to be fired from your job for blogging about it.  Now she blogs full-time and gets paid a bunch for it.  Talk about irony.

Or Penelope Trunk, whose blog posts include everything from her time in a mental ward to a crumbling relationship with her husband, yes, CURRENT husband.

And Jill Smokler of www.ScaryMommy.com?  Let’s just say the weather’s cloudy with a chance of F-bombs.

To join the ranks of these much-revered and oft-followed women in baring it all and watching the comments roll in is very enticing.  Some days, I’m so tempted to tell you the details of Seabass’ natural birth and the havoc it wreaked below the belt I could just scream.  Or about my cellulite.  Or about our post-Seabass sex life.  (My apologies to any and all relatives.  But while I’m at it, you may as well know that, yes, we have had sex.) 

I think for now, I’ll just play it safe. 

Ah, who am I fooling?  If you stick around long enough, you’ll probably hear it all.  Oh look, here comes Jake.