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Read all about the adventures of the Tsao Family during the summer of 2012

Thursday, August 31, 2006

 

Always Remember Rosa

This post is in honor of Love Thursday, the brainchild of Karen of Chookooloonks and Irene of Momster. To find out more, go to Karen's most recent Love Thursday post.

Dear Emily and Thomas,

Part of my motivation for writing this online journal--this mommyblog--is to provide you with a glimpse of what your childhood was like in case I'm not around to tell you. Senility doesn't seem to run in our family, but I could be the trendsetter in that regard; you never know.

I'm writing you this letter to tell you about the wonderful woman who comes over to our house every Tuesday and Thursday and who loves you as if you were her own children. Her name is Rosa.

Rosa started working for us last year, when Thomas was 8 months old. Taking care of two small children is a lot of work and mommy thought that her head was about to explode. That's why I started interviewing women to come and watch you a couple of days a week so that I could have some time to be by myself and recharge my batteries. When you have kids of your own, you will understand what I mean.

Several women came to our house to interview for the position of being your nanny. Some were okay, some clearly weren't going to work out, but only one stood out as the right person for the job: Rosa. From the minute I opened the door, she only had eyes for you. Emily, she let you dig through her purse and take out of the cards in her wallet. Thomas, she wanted to hold you from the minute she saw you.

I could barely get Rosa's attention to interview her but I realized that it didn't matter. Her qualifications were obvious; she wanted to spend time with the two of you. Often in life, you know immediately when something is wrong and when something is right. I knew that Rosa was right and I told your dad that night that she was the person we'd be hiring.

One year later and I can't imagine not having Rosa in our lives. She is such a nice person and she does so many things for our family. She's an excellent cook and many nights she leaves here with big pots of beans and rice on the stove and a plate of chicken covered with plastic wrap waiting on the counter. She not only spoils the both of you, she also spoils me with her generous spirit and kind heart.

This year for my birthday Rosa made me a special lasagne and brought me a cake from a bakery by her house. When I sat down at the kitchen table with you and Rosa to enjoy a piece of breakfast birthday cake, I felt like Rosa truly was a part of our family. And that we are part of her family, too.

There are other things I can tell you about Rosa, about how she is from Nicaragua and moved her when she was fourteen years old after revolution tore apart her country, about how she has a husband and three kids and lives in a tiny apartment in South San Francisco, about how her car breaks down every other week and how I drive to pick her up in the morning and drive her home at night, too. But those things don't matter to you now and they probably won't matter to you in the future.

What might matter to you in the future, what I really want you to remember, is how she holds you in her arms and sings the same Spanish lullaby she sang to her own kids when they were little -- Duérmete mi niño:

Duérmete mi niño, duérmete mi amor
Duérmete pedazo de mi corazón


Sleep, my child, sleep my love,
Sleep, piece of my heart


Thomas, Rosa, Emily


Love, mommy

***
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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

 

The Further Obligations of a Social Butterfly

In high school I learned that drugs and alcohol were a good way to overcome my natural bookwormishness and shyness and to make friends. That technique worked well during college, too.

But as a mom in mom-centric social settings (mothers club meetings, preschool meetings, playgroups, school socials, etc.) that method of fitting in isn't appropriate. However, I still need to be able to socialize with others--including strangers--and I feel my ability to do so with ease is important for a number of reasons:

1. Being in a social setting without the skills to mix and mingle is extraordinarily painful.
2. At this stage in my life, there are many social situations I am in that I didn't choose, but that I can't avoid.
3. I want my children to learn socializing skills. I want them to see me as an example of a person who greets people and shakes hands, looks others in the eye, and says appropriate things.

My social skills are okay; I can enter a strange setting and usually find somebody with whom I can have a conversation. But I have to try hard to help other people feel at ease, too. And many times I'm just happy that I survived without being laughed out of the room (or whatever the worse case scenario would be.)

A good hostess mixes and mingles with her guests and introduces people to each other. I suppose a natural hostess does this even in social settings she didn't engineer. I am not a natural hostess.

The comment landismom of Bumblebee Sweet Potato made on yesterday's post got me thinking about something I recently was discussing with a friend. We were talking about whether or not popular women had a responsibility to their newcomer or less outgoing sisters to make them feel welcome in social situations.

What is the responsibility of a popular individual to draw other individuals into the fold? Is there a burden of popularity? This assumes that the "popular" woman understands she is popular and therefore her responsibility to making less outgoing women feel comfortable.

For example, say you go to a meeting of your local mothers club. You are new. When you walk in the door, you see a group of women who obviously know each other and who are talking and laughing. Do you wish one of those women would see you, wave you over, and invite you to join their conversation?

Or if you typically find yourself in that group of women, do you feel an obligation to invite others into your fold?

Doggy and toes


Just wondering. You will not be graded on your answer.

***
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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

 

Progress and the Pain of Socializing

To Do list update:

* Call for debris box. Hope they've got one big enough for all of our junk. [done. Arriving Thursday for one week.]

* Get more quotes for new fence. Bonus points to company that can do the work before October. [Got another quote today. Getting one more quote on Friday. Can hopefully make decision next week.]

* Call local nursery and get help with planning of trees and plantings. [Called yesterday. No call back yet. Grrr. Will call again tomorrow.]

* Call gardener who did last year's work and see if he's available to do the perimeter plantings, the new trees, and sprinkler system. This work should be done after the fence is replaced. [No progress. Waiting to hear back from local nursery first.]

* Call somebody to come trim all bushes and plum tree in front yard. This can be done now. [done. Work scheduled for Saturday morning. Crew will trim Yucca tree, too.]

Also, I got a quote from a crew to do weekly mow-n-blow of our entire lawn, patios, and driveway as well as fertilizing, weed control, and rose bush maintenance. Then! (drum roll, please) I got Mike to agree to it! This is a good day. I love me a nice, anal-looking yard. And, wow, to never have to sweep a patio again... My back is very happy.

Added: After we remove junk in side yard, offer up leftover red paving tiles on Freecycle. Can't do this until there's room for the person to get the bricks out of the dang yard.

***

Today Emily and I went to student orientation day at her new preschool. I was all excited about this event and dressed both of us accordingly. She wore a purple corduroy jumper with a white T-shirt and her new tennis shoes. I wore a dress, blazer, espadrille wedges, lipstick and jewelry. Of course, I was overdressed as usual, but I'm used to that. Unless you count the boy wearing Superman jammies, Emily was underdressed.

Once we got to school I realized that spending the morning there would be no problem for Emily; she was content to play with the dollhouses, puzzles, and blocks. She ventured over to the train table a couple of times but it was boy-dominated and she didn't feel the love, I guess. It was interesting for me to watch her play. She's still very much into playing by herself and doesn't seek out the company of other kids. She is fascinated with doll house stuff: little people, tiny furniture, miniature food items, and exclaimed her delight over several pieces she found in their collection, including a tiny plastic plate about the size of a silver dollar that had two itty bitty cups of cocoa and two teeny weeny cookies stuck on it.

I don't imagine Christmas shopping will be much of a brain drain this year. Maybe a wallet drain, but certainly not a brain drain.

After talking to a couple of the moms there whom I recognized from music class or my mothers club, I yearned to be free of the awkward social environment. I very much wanted to leave Emily there and go to the mall for an iced coffee and a stroll through the end-of-summer sales racks. I really did not want to chat up the other moms, which is what I realized I was going to have to do unless I wanted to look like that one mom who was staring intently at her child, determined not to make eye contact with anybody. Sigh.

So I did the chit chat thing for two hours. Two hours! Without a drink or even a cup of coffee to provide an oral diversion! I talked to one mom about her hectic schedule (she has two older kids in grammar school and both are on different sport teams) and to another mom about the local Spanish immersion grammar school and how much she loves it. I spoke for awhile with one of the teachers about the school’s policy and what they do if a child pees her pants. I had a conversation with one mom about genetics and how our children can look nothing like us and sometimes nothing like their siblings; a fact that sometimes prompts people to insinuate your child is adopted or wonder if your children have two different dads. This mom lives in East Palo Alto and drives 30 + minutes each way three times a week to bring her daughter to this preschool. We also talked about the preschools in her area. The ones in East Palo Alto are all Head Start and she doesn't qualify; the ones in Menlo Park and Palo Alto are either too expensive or have years-long waiting lists.

I had a bunch of interesting conversations, but eventually, I grabbed Emily, bid our adieu, and left. I was drained and needed a nap; Emily was fine. Tomorrow is another orientation -- this one for parents only and Mike is coming with me. Good. Even though I am a social person, it's not always easy for me to chat up a room full of strangers, especially ones who may--probably--have nothing in common with me except we all have children roughly the same age.

***
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Monday, August 28, 2006

 

Bye Bye Baby

Today was a nice day with the kids. I told Mike last night when we turned out the lights at a decent hour (11:00) that today I was going to have a fun day with the kids. "Tomorrow I'm going to have fun with the kids," I said.

Sometimes it's good to say things out loud. It helps to make them real, ya know.

Today was an uneventful day with no exciting field trips or potty training accidents that would make for a truly interesting blog entry. No, just a nice day during which the kids played various games of make believe involving plastic horses and beach balls and whatever else struck their fancy; and I called gardeners, landscape architects, and fencing contractors and puttered around doing laundry and making pancakes.

Yes, I made pancakes for breakfast! With strawberries and whipped cream, too! Hello, Mother of the Year!

During breakfast we watched Sesame Street and then I turned off the TV and forced encouraged the kids to play with their gigantic collection of toys while I called our local waste services company and rented a debris box. It's arriving this Thursday and we have one week to fill it to the brim. We won't be calling the upcoming holiday Labor Day for nothing. My only hope is that a 15 cubic yard box is big enough.

I'm making progress on my To Do list. I've got a gardener coming by tomorrow, the debris box coming on Thursday, and a fence contractor coming on Friday. Hopefully the fence contractor will be quick with a quote so I can make a decision (I've got another quote already) and schedule the work. The fence is the first thing that needs to happen. I don't want to do perimeter landscaping of the yard before the fence is replaced.

Sorry for boring you out of your mind. I'm getting this down mainly so I won't forget. I'm getting old, you know.

After lunch the kids sat quietly and watched Aladdin in its entirety and I got to take a shower uninterrupted. Praise Disney. Then a quick trip to Home Depot for work gloves (necessary) and decorating books (unnecessary) and Target for diswashing soap (necessary) and new clothes (unnecessary).

After a deliciously uneventful shopping trip with no potty accidents or tantrums (I know!), we returned home and I made a healthy dinner. I'm not kidding; we had roasted garlic tortellini with broccoli and green beans. To cap off a delightfully boring day, I read one of my new decorating books and then went running. I have a pretty good life.

Believe it or not, that's not what this post is about, however. This post is about how I am entering a new phase in my life as a mom. Two events are marking this milestone: (1) I gave away all of my baby stuff to my sister-in-law who is due in--OMG--less than three weeks, and (2) Emily starts preschool next week. And really, you could count (3) the fact that my kids let me make phone calls all morning while they played quietly in the other room, and (4) their ability to sit through an entire full-length movie as evidence of how different my life is now.

My baby days are over. I bought decorating books today to get ideas for decorating kids's rooms, not nurseries. Gone is the bassinet that both Emily and Thomas slept in until they started sitting up and we had to put them in the big kid crib. Gone are the Aquarium bouncer and the swing that kept the kids contained and entertained.

Baby Emily
Sometimes.


Baby Thomas
Man, how I loved that swing.


Gone are the boppies that allowed me the freedom to nurse and read People magazine at the same time. Long live the boppy. Gone is the baby tub in which I bathed Thomas every night until he was old enough to share a bath with Emily.

Gone is my trusty breast pump, my Medela Pump in Style. All you breastfeeding working moms know what I'm talking about when I say, that thing is the best. What a contraption. Every lactating mother should have one. When I mastered using that thing I felt like I could do anything. Climb any mountain? No problem! I just pumped 8 ounces of breastmilk out of my body without using my hands. Let's see a guy do that.

I don't mind letting go of the baby phase of my motherhood journey. It was a crazy, sleep-deprived time that I'm not sure I could survive if I had to do it again. But I'm certainly stronger for having done it. Bye bye, baby stuff. It's time you made another mom's life easier.

***
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Sunday, August 27, 2006

 

Portrait of a Couple, Relaxed


Portrait of a couple, relaxed
Originally uploaded by marytsao.
Last night Mike and I had our nanny come over and we went out for a night on the town. We headed over to Palo Alto to relax and unwind at Watercourse Way. On the way there, we caught the end of the Palo Alto Festival of the Arts and picked up a couple of glasses of champagne (me) and a beer (him).

After both relaxing and unwinding at the hot tub place, we meandered over to The Cheesecake Factory on University for some dinner. We started out with an appetizer of deep fried spicy tuna rolls and more champagne and beer. I honestly don't remember what Mike had for dinner, some kind of chicken enchilada thing? On the other hand, I remember quite vividly my choice of deep friend salmon rolls and fried calamari. It was a night of fried goodness.

During our date we managed to have multiple conversations on a myriad of topics, including the kids and how Emily is starting preschool next week, Thomas's tendency to be either content or upset but nothing in the middle, our nanny and how much longer we think we're going to employ her, Mike's quest to get his pilot's license, money and investment options, and the gigantic party we want to have in October.

Mike's birthday is in October and I asked him if he was interested in having a casino party. He isn't, but he agreed that a big party with stuff to do for kids, lots of food and drink, and dancing is something we should think about. So I'm thinking. Oh, yes, am I thinking.

Having a party in October will provide the impetus I need to finish up the remaining yard work and clean out the side yard. There's so many things I want to do. I've got to get on the phone tomorrow and start calling places. Here's a short list:

* Call for debris box. Hope they've got one big enough for all of our junk.

* Get more quotes for new fence. Bonus points to company that can do the work before October.

* Call local nursery and get help with planning of trees and plantings.

* Call gardener who did last year's work and see if he's available to do the perimeter plantings, the new trees, and sprinkler system. This work should be done after the fence is replaced.

* Call somebody to come trim all bushes and plum tree in front yard. This can be done now.

Whew. I hope I can pull this off! I never did have my big birthday bash (life got too hectic) so the October party will our big party this year. Wish me luck!

***
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The Eternal Question


8-27-06
Originally uploaded by marytsao.
It's 4:09 PM.

Do you take a shower or just say F-it ?

I did wash my face earlier.

***
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Saturday, August 26, 2006

 

Tears in my Coffee

Thursday's Love Thursday post and the comments I got about your kids and their lovies, made me think of the book The Velveteen Rabbit. Have you read it? It must be in the public domain now because full text with pictures is online.


That night, and for many nights after, the Velveteen Rabbit slept in the Boy's bed. At first he found it rather uncomfortable, for the Boy hugged him very tight, and sometimes he rolled over on him, and sometimes he pushed him so far under the pillow that the Rabbit could scarcely breathe. And he missed, too, those long moonlight hours in the nursery, when all the house was silent, and his talks with the Skin Horse. But very soon he grew to like it, for the Boy used to talk to him, and made nice tunnels for him under the bedclothes that he said were like the burrows the real rabbits lived in. And they had splendid games together, in whispers, when Nana had gone away to her supper and left the night-light burning on the mantelpiece. And when the Boy dropped off to sleep, the Rabbit would snuggle down close under his little warm chin and dream, with the Boy's hands clasped close round him all night long.

And so time went on, and the little Rabbit was very happy–so happy that he never noticed how his beautiful velveteen fur was getting shabbier and shabbier, and his tail becoming unsewn, and all the pink rubbed off his nose where the Boy had kissed him."


*sniff*

***
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Friday, August 25, 2006

 

Foot in Mouth Friday


Open mouth, insert foot
Originally uploaded by marytsao.
Last August a friend called to ask me for my address.

"OMG!!" I said. "Why do you need it?! Are you guys getting married?!"

She lives with her boyfriend. Why I got all suburban sentimental on her, I do not know.

"Mary," she said, in a voice that suggested I should stop talking.

Open mouth, insert foot.

"OMG!!" I said, "Did he propose?! Are you getting married?! Is that why you need my address?!"

"Mary. I want to send you a birthday card."

"Oh." I said. "Um, nevermind. Thank you?"

Can you remember a time--perhaps the last time--that you had your foot so far down your throat you could taste bile? Tell me, and let me know I'm not alone in my feeling of self-loathing. This conversation took place over a year ago and I still feel bad about it.

***

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Thursday, August 24, 2006

 

The Love Between a Girl and Her Bear

In honor of Love Thursday, I'm going to remind you about the love of my daughter Emily's life -- her bear Bear. And yes, we call him Bear. The name fits, don't you think?

Emily and Bear - BFF
Emily and Bear. BFF.


I wrote about the love between Emily and Bear last year. Here's a snippet:


"It all started when a well-meaning relative gave six-month-old Emily a bear. I thought it was cute; Emily ignored it. I liked how the bear looked sitting on the nightstand next to her crib so that's where I put him. Fast forward to Emily's first birthday. At this point she was standing and bouncing in her crib and had figured out that if she leaned over far enough, she could grab that big bear by the arm and haul him into bed with her.

That's when they started sleeping together."


I never had a special stuffed animal or blanket when I was little so seeing Emily's attachment to her Blanket (her other lovey) and Bear, otherwise known as blanketandbear, makes me feel good. These items comfort her when she's tired or upset and provide companionship when she's lonely. I couldn't ask for more from a stuffed animal or a piece of cloth.

Happy Love Thursday! To play, write a post and leave a comment on Karen's blog. If you're posting a photo on Flickr, add it to the Love Thursday: Love is All Around Us pool.

***
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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

 

Why Wait for Midlife When You Can Have a Crisis Today?

Last week I bought one of Andrea Scher's Superhero necklaces. It arrived in the mail with a card that advised the necklace would protect me from harm, attract people to me, and create magic in my life.

Today I wore the necklace, and when I got home this evening, I saw this parked in the driveway:

Mary's New Car
If a Porsche Boxster isn't magic, I don't know what is.


Mike has heard me talk about how I want a sports car (read: a car that has no car seats) someday, and he decided to make today that someday*. EEEEEEEE!!!!! Is he having a midlife crisis or what? All I know is that if he's having a midlife crisis, but I'm getting the sports car, that's totally fine with me.

I took it out for a spin and it handles beautifully. I felt a little out of practice; it's been a while since I've driven anything that needed revving to 4000 RPMs for smoother shifting. heh. Actually, driving the Porsche made me think about getting another motorcycle. Does this qualify as a slippery slope?

Out on the road, it seemed really wrong that I had to come home and vacuum the living room before I hosted the monthly meeting of my book club.

On the road. EEEEEE!!!!

* Porsche does make a car seat for the Boxster that we ordered today; I can't believe I have to take my kid with me on my midlife crisis. Sheesh.

***
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Sunday, August 20, 2006

 

Got Family?

Thomas and I just got back from a whirlwind trip to Illinois. We flew there on Friday and flew back today. Short and sweet means my family is happy to see us arrive and sad to see us go. The occasion was my grandmother's internment; we buried her ashes in the plot she bought many years ago at a cemetery in a suburb south of Chicago.

I come from a large family -- my grandmother was one of ten; my mother was one of five. Few of us have refrained from procreating. A large family is everything you think it would be: fun, chaotic, dramatic, loud, exasperating, maddening. Sometimes it's all of those things over the course of one meal.

And there are many, many meals.

Got family? Then you also should have:

Hee hee. Ha ha.
A healthy sense of humor


Reservations for 25
Reservations for 25


Lemon drop
Drinks


Birthday cakes
The ability to share your birthday and the knowledge that your family will always know you by your childhood nickname.

Who's this Mary Pat character?


Barb, me, Jim
Siblings

That's my twin sister Barb, me, and her boyfriend Jim.


Thomas, Henry, Jessica
Cousins

Thomas is pictured here with his cousins Henry and Jessica.


I'm wiped. Traveling with a kid during code orange is something of a nightmare. More later including lots of pictures, but right now I'm going to bed!

***
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Thursday, August 17, 2006

 

For the Love of M&M's

Me: Go over there and hug Thomas.

Emily: No. No. Nooooooo!!!

Me: C'mon, mommy needs a photo that represents love to put on her blog. Please?

Emily: No. No. Nooooooo!!!

Me: I'll give you an M&M.



Emily: Mama, I want a blue M&M, a green M&M, a purple M&M, and a red M&M.

Me: Okay. Thank you for the photo.

Emily: You're welcome, mama.

***
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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

 

They Got Me Snappin', Snappin' Day and Night

Darren Rowse of ProBlogger sent me an email to let me know about a post he wrote for Digital Photography School in which he gives 10 Tips for Photographing Babies. His post is informative and also sweet because he uses his month-old son to illustrate his points.

In his post, he references a previous article he wrote about Photographing Children. The tips in that article are especially interesting to me. In my hard-earned opinion, babies are a cinch to photograph. Read Darren's tips and you'll soon be snapping hundreds thousands millions of wonderful photos of your cutie pie like a pro. The grandparents will love you for it.

Actually, they'll love you for taking crappy photos. Once you procreate, you basically can do no wrong again ever. Never forget that!

But photographing toddlers is when your life as a member of the mommy paparazzi gets considerably more complicated and unsatisfying. Why? Well...

They
They


Never
Never


Stop
Stop


Moving
Moving


[Cute dress, though, huh? Carmen of Mom To The Screaming Masses made it. I think of it as the dress of a thousand compliments. Everybody loves it, most of all Miss Emily.]

When photographing older children, Darren has this to say:


...with older children the best time to photograph them is when they are doing something that they enjoy. Go to the park with them...


Good advice. I took it today when I, the kids, and my new birthday camera went to Oak Meadow Park to spend the day with our friend Liz and her daughters. Here's a shot I took of Thomas that I really like:

The eye of the Thomas


He's wearing the pigeon shirt that Wood and Dutch of Sweet Juniper gave me at BlogHer. I like how the pigeon's head is peaking at me. Hi, pigeon!

I'm talking to pigeons; it's time to go -- a giant piece of chocolate cake and a glass of cabernet await. Thanks for all of your birthday wishes! I had a great day and I hardly felt a day over thirty seven.

***
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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

 

The Maintenance and Upkeep of a Thirty-Eight Year Old Mother

Tomorrow I turn the ripe old age of thirty eight, which I think qualifies me for middle age status. (Don't argue with me. Bruno Kirby just died and he was only 57.) I'm knockin' on 40's door! Pushin' 40! Nawww, just 38 and feelin' great, people. 38 and feeling...

Sob.

With age comes wisdom as well as gray hair, thinning hair, and hair in places you don't want hair. I realized a couple of weeks ago that I am slowly adding more and more procedures to my life just to keep up his facade of "natural" beauty. You with me?

The first procedure involves the hair on my head. Every four to six weeks I kill a few more brain cells with a generous application of Clairol Hydrience #06. A color which, by the way, those A-holes over at Clairol decided to discontinue. Why do they do this to me?!?! I have two boxes left. I have more to say about this betrayal -- perhaps enough for an entire other post.

The second procedure involves the hair I want off my head. It took many years of resistance, but I now am addicted to regular, good haircuts. And also to the relationship I have with my hair stylist. I like her. We chat and gossip. I like the beauty parlor and all of its cliche'd glory. Today with my birthday haircut, I bought a giant silver purse from my stylist that matched the one my she had. I couldn't help myself; it matches my silver ballet flats from Target. Hee. And it makes me giggle.

The third procedure involves the hair on my chinny chin chin. Suzanne Reisman of CUSS (Caution: mildly NSFW if your boss doesn't like you reading about snatch at work) wrote about this recently on BlogHer. About chin hairs, people. About plucking and tweezing the hairs on our chin. Those things your grandma had that made her old. Now I've got them and I pluck them whenever people start looking at my chin instead of my boobies when I'm talking to them. When the chin hairs are the main attraction, they've got to go.

The fourth procedure involves my toes and my newfound girly shoe fetish. When all I wore were motorcycle boots, I didn't care what my toes looked like. Now that I'm a pampered suburban housewife and I am out of the closet with the fact I love cute shoes, I care a lot about my toes. I like my toes. When I was postpartum after Thomas, my toes lost the weight first and I would gaze at them in happiness and hope. Forget navel gazing; that's just depressing. Especially when your muffin top flops over your navel and you can't see it anyway.

Anyway, this past January I had my first pedicure and those things are like crack! Now I go every month or so and I love it. Can we call me high maintenance yet? At least I don't have toe hairs I need to pluck. Yet.

The fifth procedure is my daily or every other day fitness routine of running, crunches, and push-ups. No big deal; I'm usually done in under an hour. Working out is addicting, too. If I go two days without breaking a sweat, I start to feel yucky and I want to hurt somebody, usually Mike. So I work out, and when I'm faced with one of the obstacles of motherhood, for example, no elevator in a two-story building and I've got my kid in a stroller, I am happy that I can overcome it without collapsing in a heap or asking some guy for help. Being healthy and strong rocks.

So as I turn thirty eight, I am pleased to say that I am healthy and happy, and just, oh, three or four procedures more high maintenance than I was five or ten years ago.

That's not so bad, is it?

***
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Monday, August 14, 2006

 

Divorce, My Big Toe, and Silicon Valley

Wow, friends, thank you for all of the nice comments on my post about the dark side. Compliments are nice! Thank you.

Confession: Right now I am skipping the general meeting of my mothers club. It's unfortunate that I chose tonight to prefer lounging around in sweats over socializing and learning something. That's because the meeting I'm missing is about how to stay married while raising kids. I'll have to borrow somebody's notes.

Hope I don't regret this decision some day. But don't you think that me hanging out at home with my family watching "Mulan" and eating sandwich-sized bags of honey nut cheerios is doing more for my marriage than going out for three hours? I mean, we already had the kids so it's too late to change that.

The weird thing is that my mothers club is celebrating its 15th year with a big bash this October and when I got together last month with a bunch of women who were in the club 15 years ago, I noticed one obvious difference between me and them: they all were divorced.

It got me thinking big time about my own marriage and about the marriages of my friends. Will the "gentle bitching" we do about our husbands now while we're standing around the playground eventually turn into something much more serious for some of us? Heck, for all of us?

Food for thought. The statistics are there. I'm on marriage #2 myself, but I would very much like this one to be my last. I certainly want to make it past the "we have small kids and that's our excuse never to go out" phase and into the golden years when we can spontaneously jet to Las Vegas, rent a suite with a hot tub, and try our darndest to make it through all of the seven deadly sins in one 48-hour period.

I don't know about you, but I plan on entering middle age looking fabulous and getting plenty of action. With my husband. Hope that plan is good enough.

***

Speaking of divorce, looks like Kate Hudson and Chris Robinson are separating. That's sad. It's also sad that I care. I don't even know them.

***

I am worried about my big toe. I've been wearing heels more lately and now my left big toe is numb on the outside. Also, I got a pedicure last week and it hurt something fierce when she was digging out my toe jam. Sorry, there's no nice way to say that. Now my toe is an odd combination of tingly and numb. I hope it's not serious; I don't want to lose my big toe to a pedicure gone bad. I know I can still be hot and fabulous without my big toe, but I think it might come in handy when committing those seven deadly sins.

***

I had a fun visit today in Palo Alto with some of the moms who make up the Silicon Valley Moms Blog. I met Jill and Beth at BlogHer and liked their untainted enthusiasm about blogging. Together with Pamela, they founded SV Moms as a community blog back in April and now they have 40 writers contributing to it. These women are go-getters as well as great writers. You should check out their blog.

Grace of State of Grace and Liz of Badgermama were there today, too. In fact, Grace was the one who invited me to join the fun. Thanks, Grace! And thank you to Jill for opening up your home. You are an excellent hostess and I hope you don't mind that I stayed for three and a half hours. Time flies when you're talking about blogging with other people who also want to talk about blogging. Very unlike most conversations I have when I bring up blogging and people look at me with blank eyes and start yawning.

***
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Sunday, August 13, 2006

 

This Post Brought to You by the Letter O and With a Rockin' Beat

The Lovely Mrs. Davis is celebrating the 37th anniversary of Sesame Street in a bloggy good way. She asked bloggers, What television, music, movie or book from your childhood are you excited about sharing with your own children? and she is linking to the answers tomorrow. She's hoping for 37 posts (or more!) and I probably should have told you about this before the night the post was due. Oops.

Her question is interesting to me because after I thought about it a bit, I realized that I'm not terribly excited about sharing any of my favorite childhood television shows, movies, or books with Emily and Thomas.

Oh.

Okay, that sounds cold and heartless, but hear me out. See, I certainly watched a lot of television, saw a lot of movies, and read a lot of books as a child, and I assume my kids will do the same. I know they will; they already do. Sesame Street plays every morning in our house and both kids love it and learn a lot from it, too. They love movies and I'm sure they've already know far more movies than I did as a girl. I only knew what was on TV; they have an entire library of animated movies that they never tire of watching. And the books! I've walked into the room and seen both kids at various times "reading" a book. I have no doubt that with very little help from me, both of my kids will know how to read well before I did as a kid.

My point is that my kids are teaching me about television, movies, and books. And if they aren't now, they surely will be.

What I'm most excited about sharing with my kids is my love of music. Not really any particular pieces or bands, but a general feeling that life is better with a soundtrack. Since having kids, I've never censored my playlist or tried to cater to their juvenile sensibilities. As a consequence, my kids love all kinds of music, from rock to pop to show tunes to techno. They both love a good disco beat, I'm happy to say. I've seen them nod their heads to Jane's Addiction's Mountain Song and beat their car seats to Michael Jackson's Working Day and Night. I love watching my kids rocking out and growing into people who will one day accompany me to shows. Ya!

I know my kids will watch TV and read books. But if they also have a deep love and appreciation for music, I'll be very happy and will consider my own brand of detachment parenting a complete success.

***
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I'll See You on the Dark Side of the Blogosphere

This post isn't going to contain any links. It's not about you, her, him, or them. It's about what I'm feeling right now based on things I've read, situations I've been in, and conversations I've had. Also, I might feel completely different tomorrow or even right after I write this post. I hope so.

Dark side fact #1: Contradictions are everywhere.

Having said that, I doubt I'm the only one thinking these things...

Last night I had a nightmare that I was being swarmed by bees. This is an occurring nightmare for me; I don't like bees and I definitely don't like being stung by them. Does anybody?

As I lay in bed, half awake and half asleep, trying to forget about my dream, it suddenly hit me what the dream meant, at least what it meant last night: The Internet is trying to get me.

Dark side fact #2: Just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean somebody's not out to get you.

You see, I've been feeling kind of twitchy lately about blogging. Not so much about what I'm writing, but about criticism, about the business of blogging, about popularity contests, about stats and the pressure to grow an audience, about success -- how we measure it, who cares, and why I'd be lying if I said I didn't. And about being unliked and about the need to have a thick skin or at least be able to fake it.

About bees buzzing around me, waiting for me to react to them and give them a reason to sting me. Excuse me if I sound paranoid.

I am a huge proponent of the support networks fueled by online communities. In particular, I am a huge proponent of the support networks that online communities of mommybloggers have built for themselves. But the problem with social media is that all of a sudden I know what you are thinking, and when what you are thinking isn't nice, I have to know how to deal with my responsive emotions. And sometimes I feel that an online reaction is called for, but most of the time I feel that no reaction is more appropriate. That's just me; I don't enjoy controversy.

Dark side fact #3: The Blogosphere loves controversy.

For many years I kept an online journal and yet was not part of the Blogosphere. I didn't have comments on my posts so I didn't know what people thought about my writing, either the content or how I presented it. I didn't read other blogs or comment on them. If I did happen upon a blog, I did so as a one-off visitor and a lurker. My life in the Blogosphere was utterly without responsibilities.

Dark side fact #4: Being a part of an online community is a lot of work.

Now I have been bitten by the blogging bug and I definitely count myself as part of this growing online community. Blogging has become something of a part-time career for me, and as a SAHM, I enjoy the structure and benefits that blogging has brought to my life. I even like the responsibilites to comment and post regularly. I didn't lie when I wrote my tagline; writing keeps me sane.

Here's what makes me crazy: when opportunities are afforded other bloggers because they have higher stats than I do, I am momentarily deflated. Because when all is said and done, in the Blogosphere the typical measures of success have to do with ratings, with links, with page views, with metrics involving numbers and people. The more (of all of the above), the better.

Dark side fact #5: Even if you work really hard, you may not be considered a success.

If I can consider blogging a part-time career, I can consider it the best one I've ever had as well as the worst one. I've never been in a sales-driven job and yet sometimes that's what blogging feels like. "Oh my god, it's the last day of the month and I need 700 more hits to do better than the month before! Ahhh!"

Dark side fact #6: There is pressure to be successful. Most of the time the pressure comes from within.

So it takes some pluck to stick it out in the blogosphere and a confidence I'm not always sure I have. I need a thick skin to put my thoughts and opinions online and potentially have them trashed by other people. I need a thick skin to be myself and have people dislike me for no other reason than the color of my hair or what kind of shoes I wear. The question is: Is my skin thick enough?

Dark side fact #7: People are meanies.

It takes courage to write the story of my life and realize that my story doesn't mean as much to other people as *her* story does. Am I boring? A crappy writer? Or just a shitty blogger? Or is it that I'm just not funny? Note to self: Write something funny! The people want funny!

Dark side fact #8: If you aren't funny, snarky, or controversial, you're doomed.

Unfortunately, when I get too caught up in the Blogosphere's metrics of success: stats, comments, rankings, it sucks all of the joy out of blogging. When I get too caught up in the business of blogging, I tend to forget why I started writing in the first place. This is *my* story; if I don't like it, who will? I also forget that the friendships I have made (note to self: it's okay if not everybody is your friend. Really.) are special and important to me.

Dark side fact #9: There will always be people who don't like you. The Blogosphere is no different from real life.

I am so glad I put these thoughts down in writing. Because now it's obvious to me what I completely missed last night in the throes of nightmare recovery. None of the bees in my nightmare stung me; I woke up before that happened. The same thing is true with the dark side of the Blogosphere. The Internet is only out to get me if I let it. But since I have the presence of mind to think about these cons -- this dark side that is both external as well as internal -- than I also have the presence of mind to analyze my thoughts from an intellectual, rather than an emotional, standpoint.

Dark side fact #10: It's possible it's all in your head.

Whew. So how was your weekend?

***
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Saturday, August 12, 2006

 

Up A Bubba World So High

Slow news day here at the home of Mom Writes, although I've got a huge post brewing about "the dark side of online communities." Catchy title, huh? Yes, it's not all cupcakes and back rubs, people.

While I'm mulling over my post, here is a short video of my very own idol, singing one of her favorite songs.



***
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Friday, August 11, 2006

 

Bad Mood and Free Association with Keywords

I am in a bad mood. Instead of taking it out on my kids, I will take it out on the people who found this blog with the following keywords.

baby graphics
Awww, how cute. Now get out of here and go see Karen Rani or Miss Zoot or Izzy Mom.

free nachos
There's no such thing as a free nachos. I will not go into detail.

hangover photo
You asked for it:


funny flow chart
I don't know if I would call it funny, but it definitely is a flowchart. And one that I will take with me when I check into the loony bin.

does baby oil work as tanning oil?
It does if you're a tanorexic with a death wish.

tsao my weight loss
Tsao *my* weight loss, beyotch! Since I'm only a Tsao by marriage, I really can't help you. But I can tell you that the ELF diet really words. That would be Eat Less Food.

baby shower lotto
Is this when the winner gets to bring home a baby?

mary tsao
Hey, that's me! There's also a radiologist with that name, but in the World according to Google, bloggers top radiologists.

michelle duggar pregnant
Again?! No wonder why that woman never has time to blog.

Ah, I feel better already.

***
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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

 

Day In The Life: August, 2006


Eating_apples
Originally uploaded by marytsao.
[Updated to add: Day In The Life is the brain child of Sheryl of Paper Napkin! Check out her site if you want to participate -- the more the merrier.]

Also known as the post that explains what the hell a suburban mother of two does all damn day long. When she's not blogging or getting her nails done, that is.

2:00 AM -- Awaken to the plaintive cries of Thomas in his crib. This is odd; he rarely wakes up during the night now. I try and ignore him but after five minutes of "Momma, Mommaaa!" I go get him and bring him back into the big bed. Emily is already in the big bed. Mike is on the couch. Thomas falls asleep almost immediately. I am wrapped in his big hug and it feels good; I don't mind that he is in bed with me because he is quiet now. I go back to sleep.

7:27 -- We awaken. Thomas first, then me, then Emily. Emily is surprised that Thomas is in the big bed and I think a little miffed. After some cuddling and tickling, we all get up.

8:00 -- Finish up the morning chores: making the bed, watering the front yard, brushing my teeth, making the coffee, helping Emily pee and getting her dressed. Set Emily and Thomas down in front of their cereal and sit down to check my email.

8:05 -- Make it through two emails when Thomas tells me his diaper needs to be changed. I clean up the spilled milk and cheerios and take him into the bedroom for a new diaper and clothes for the day. I have not yet had a sip of my coffee and my granola is getting soggy.

8:15 -- Back to the computer, but now the kids need juice. Pour two orange juices and put on Sesame Street. Ahhhhh, that's the ticket. Am able to read through my emails and a few blogs while eating my granola and drinking my coffee. I feel sane again.

9:30 -- Realize that once again, the Interweb has sucked me in. The kids have now finished watching Sesame Street and are watching Dora, which is almost over. I decide one more show won't hurt so I put on Diego and go in to take a shower.

10:00 -- After determining that turquoise pants and a turquoise shirt is just too much turquoise, I manage to get dressed in an outfit that I won't be embarrassed to show the Internets. I persuade Emily to go potty. Then I put on her shoes and Thomas's shoes, too. Then I get two juice cups ready and make sure the diaper bag has extra underpants and clothes for Emily. On the way out the door, I decide to grab the dry cleaning that's sitting in a pile in the corner of the bedroom.

10:17 -- We're out of the house! Not bad.

10:25 -- First stop is the drycleaners. I leave the car running and the kids in the car since I am parked in front and the lot is empty. I run to the counter, drop the stuff off, and return to the car without the children suffering harm. I feel this day is going to be a success.

10:30 -- I drop off a letter in the drive-up mail box.

10:45 -- The next stop is the bank. Darn, there are no spots in front. I park in the side lot and get the kids out of the car. Thomas is sleeping but wakes up when I take him out. Emily starts walking away from me but luckily the woman in the big SUV sees her and stops. I flash her a smile and a thank you, then scold Emily for not staying by me. I have found the hardest part about having two toddlers is keeping them contained in parking lots.

11:00 -- I deposit two checks in the ATM, but decide to go inside to get some $100 bills for upcoming birthdays. The line is 8 people long and since most of the people are depositing checks, I wonder why they don't do it at the ATM. Annoying. The kids run around and mess up a bunch of flyers. I decide that their behavior isn't bothering anybody. It's a bank, not a library. I finally make it to the front and get my money.

11:15 -- Back in the car, I realize that I forgot to mail a letter. Go to another drive-up mail box and mail it.

11:30 -- Arrive at the kids's haircutting place. Good, nobody else is there and she can cut their hair right away. Thomas goes first while Emily plays with the room full of toys, including a plastic kitchen. Now I understand why she kept saying in the car that she wanted to cook something when I told her we were going to get her hair cut. Her memory is getting better while mine is getting obviously worse.

12:00 -- Done with the hair cuts. Unfortunately, Emily had an accident in the hair salon and I have to change her in the car. I am happy I brought a spare change of clothes. Very happy.

12:05 -- The kids fall asleep in the car so I detour by the house to wash my hands. I leave the car running and the kids in the car. Don't tell!

12:05 -- Back in the car, I decide to go out to lunch but can't decide where. I hit the road and start driving into The City.

12:27 -- I decide in Daly City to skip San Francisco and instead take the kids to lunch and a movie. We park the car and buy tickets for the 1:20 showing of Barnyard. The woman behind the counter implies that I should lie and tell her that Emily is under three and so I do. The kids get in free and my ticket costs $6.75.

12:35 -- Lunch at Fudrucker's for burgers and hot dogs. Emily doesn't eat. Thomas does eat. I eat my entire 1/2 pound cheeseburger and then feel ill. I skip the fries.

1:20 -- Back at the movie theatre. The movie is on the third floor and the escalator going to the second floor is broken. I walk up 50 stairs carrying Thomas. I feel that eating a gigantic cheeseburger is suddenly justified. Before hitting the theatre, we make a pit stop. After a bizarre accident where Emily gets knocked into the toilet by my diaper bag (they just don't make stalls big enough for three people) and then a bizarre incident when Thomas decides to put his arm in the toilet, I finally get to pee. Emily refuses to pee on the big toilet. I make her promise that if she needs to go pee during the movie, she will tell me. I think she agrees, but I am nervous nonetheless.

2:30 -- The movie is horrible, but the kids don't mind and sit quietly until 2:30 when Emily wants popcorn. We go out into the lobby and get a small bag, which she and Thomas devour. I still feel uncomfortably full from lunch. Emily still insists she doesn't have to pee.

3:00 -- Out of the movie and back in the car to go home. The kids fall asleep so I decide to detour to Woodside to find a drive-thru coffee place that has been recommended to me by Squid and my friend Jennie. I find the place -- The Espresso Lane -- and get an iced coffee for me and a chocolate milk for Emily. Thomas is still sleeping. I declare it my new favorite place to get coffee that's within twenty miles of my house.

3:30 -- Back home I suddenly am very tired and wish to curl up with my laptop and my iced coffee, but I decide that the kids have seen more than enough TV and movies for one day so instead we hang out in the playroom until Mike gets home. Emily finally pees and she does it in the potty. Hurrah!

5:00 -- Mike gets home. I realize that I haven't cooked anything for dinner but there's leftover lentils and rice from yesterday. He is unimpressed. My stomach still hurts from lunch. I read some blogs and try and ignore the kids now that he's home. It doesn't work and I am forced to make plates of food and get juice and such.

5:30 -- Get Mike to take my picture, then post it. Am happy that I didn't wear the turquoise pants and that the grease stain from the popcorn doesn't show up much in the picture. After I post the picture, I lose an hour. Not sure where.

6:30 -- Go running except it is very hot out still and I am strangely extremely tired. Not sure if it's from the heat, the big lunch I had, or the fact I donated platelets (apheresis) yesterday. I run only a mile but still do my crunches and push-ups.

7:15 -- Try and take a good photo of the kids eating apples from our tree in the yard. Am unsuccessful. Taking a photo of both kids together is extremely difficult. Mike gives the kids a bath while I check my email.

8:00 -- Kids go to bed. I eat a light dinner of leftover lentils and rice with multiple dollops of crema (Mexican sour cream). To liven up the dish, I add a couple of tablespoons of red wine before heating it up. It's really good.

8:30 -- Spend some minutes thinking about what I want to write tonight. Remember that it's Day In The Life time but then realize that I'm actually three days late. Oh well. Decide to do it anyway because I have a feeling that these posts will be the most interesting twenty years from now.

9:30 -- Take laptop to bed to finish up post. Contemplate not checking spelling because I'm still so gosh darned tired.

10:00 -- Declare post done. Good night!

***
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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

 

Every Mommyblogger Has a Dream


Smiling_Emily
Originally uploaded by marytsao.
I want to remember this moment: You are getting the kids ready for bed. Thomas is watching The Simpsons, his hair wet from his bath; he is wearing his Babies for Humanity T-shirt. Emily is still in the bath and I can hear her voice spinning a tale of make believe while she plays with foam letters and ducks and I put shirts on hangers in the bedroom. The sliding door in the kitchen is open and a gentle breeze is making its way through the house. This life feels full of possibilities and I am content.

***

Miss Zoot is holding her very own mommyblogging panel! She's so cool. If you're so inclined to write about the reasons why you blog (if you are a mommyblogger), go visit her. I hope it's not too late; she started this last week but I'm a little behind. And with 175,000 new weblogs created each day, is it any wonder I've got too much to read?

Miss Zoot Mommyblogging Panel Q & A

1. Do your kids know about your blog? If they're too young to know, do you plan to keep it open to them as they get older?
My kids do not know about my blog but that's because they are only 3 and 1. I do plan on letting them know about it when they are older. There's no way I could hide my blogging; I do it in front of them a lot.

2a. If so - do you worry they may get embarrassed later? What would you do if they asked you to stop writing about them? What would you do if they wanted you to take it down all together?
I don't really worry that they will get embarrassed. If they are embarrassed and ask me not to write about them, I won't. I'm not sure what would happen if they asked me to take it down. I might. I certainly wouldn't be upset at them or dismiss their concerns. I would never sacrifice my children's happiness for the sake of this blog. I would never stop writing, but I would definitely stop writing about them.

3. Do you think our kids will appreciate the archive of their childhood? Do you wish your parents had done the same?
At some point in their lives, our children will very much appreciate these archives of their childhoods. It may not be until they have children of their own, but some day they will appreciate the stories we are writing about them, about us, and about our lives together.

I definitely wish my mother had kept a journal of her life. Oh, yes.

4. Do you go back and re-read your past parenting milestones? Do you realize you forgot a lot?
I don't often go back and re-read what I've written unless it's to put together an end-of-year recap. But whenever I do, I am amazed both at what I didn't remember and at how much still is missing. No matter how much I write in this blog, I will never be able to capture all of the moments and all of the stories that I want to. Without this blog, I would remember very little of the small moments that make up my life.


5. What about your children's friends/teachers/moms-of-friends? What if they found your blog? Do you tell your child not to tell anyone about it or are they free to talk about it? Do you worry their teachers or other parents will think it's weird?
I find myself telling more and more people about my blog. I am no longer shy or reticent when it comes to handing out my business card, even to non-blogging friends. I guess my policy is, you can't hurt me with something if I told you about it first. When I blog, I don't write things that I wouldn't want the person I'm writing about to read so I have no fear of a random friend or relative finding my blog and being shocked or hurt.

I don't think teachers or parents will find my blog weird. The ones whom I've alread told don't think it's weird. If anything, I probably will be asked to come into my kids's classrooms to help teach their classmates about blogging! I think more teachers will want to incorporate blogs in their classrooms. One day, my kids might be thanking me for introducing them to this forum and putting them one step ahead of most of their peers.

Every mommyblogger has a dream.

***
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Monday, August 07, 2006

 

To The Boy Who Does His Own Stunts

Dear Thomas,

Yesterday you turned twenty months old.

Perhaps in celebration of this event, last Sunday you used a purple Sharpie to draw all over the white carpet in the living room, prompting Mommy to lose her mind and Daddy to write a blog post titled "How to remove purple permanent ink marker from white plush carpet."

Because of Daddy's persistent and ingenous cleaning abilities, I have decided you will be allowed to live another month. Thomas, seeing you draw on the carpet is an image my mind will never let go.

Other images my mind will never let go concern the relationship you have with your sister. Today, Emily held your hand, became a toddler-turned-docent, and forced you to go on a tour of the house, which you did with patience and a genuine sense of interest. And then at breakfast when she wanted another strawberry, you gave her the last one off your plate. Even I was impressed by that since right now I am eating an ice cream and cookie sandwich that I saved until you were in bed so that I wouldn't have to share it with you.

At breakfast -- no owie yet


What I'm saying is that despite my own selfishness and lack of appropriately modeled behavior, you are turning out okay.

When I dressed you this morning, I put on the T-shirt I got you at Target that reads I do all my own stunts. I like this shirt because the graphic on it reminds me of the D.R.I. slammer and it brings back memories of my sordid youth and of seeing punk bands play in Berkeley when I was in high school.

But when you slipped on leaves at the hiking trail and broke your fall with your face, I realized that for you, the whole world is something of a mosh pit. My little punk rocker: After a cry that pierced the eardrums of all living creatures in a one mile radius, you quickly got over your owie and went on to skip, run, and play with Emily and Mali, Squid's daughter. You can't keep a good stunt kid down.


Thomas with owie


During our woodland frolic, we happened upon a banana slug. You gently poked it several times with a stick, but stopped after I told you to stop, thereby proving that you are kind and gentle to animals. At Squid's house, you petted her cat with supreme gentleness and I contemplated the idea of getting a cat for you and Emily, despite the fact that I hate changing litter boxes and vacuuming cat hair.

Petting the cat


For you, my son, I could be persuaded to change my convictions. In many ways, I already have. This weekend I took you shopping and even though we were supposed to go to Costco to buy toilet paper and coffee, I instead found myself at Toys 'R Us, where I bought you every ball you wanted and a basketball hoop, too.

Thomas, here's the mushy part of the letter that you will hate when you're older, but every time you say, "Mama?" and I say, "Yes, Thomas?" and you reply, "High." my heart just melts. Especially because you pronounce it "hah" and it's so sweet.

And totally, completely punk rock, don't get me wrong.

Love, Mama

***
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Sunday, August 06, 2006

 

Breastfeeding Emily

I breastfed both of my kids, Emily for six months and Thomas for thirteen months. This post is in encouragement of all of the moms--myself included--who are outraged at the uproar surrounding the current cover of Babytalk magazine, which featured a breast and an infant nursing.

When Emily was born she was blue and needed to be taken to the NICU for oxygen and monitoring. I missed the whole baby on stomach and immediate bonding thing, although I was not upset about that and I'm glad she got the care she did. When she stabilized after a couple of hours, she was brought to my room, where Mike, my mom, my mother-in-law, and I were waiting for her.

The first thing I wanted to do when I met my daughter for the first time was feed her. I wanted to bond with her, yes, but I also was worried that she was hungry. I had nourished her from the first cell division that formed her person until the minute the cord between us was cut. And now she had been outside the womb for hours; I was worried about her survival and I knew that it was my responsiblity to worry about it.

Here are the photos from the first time I met my daughter, which also was the first time I breastfed her. The instinct was there, and I couldn't imagine anything more natural in the world. I honestly didn't care who was in the room or what I looked like. And I hope that all mothers feel free to breastfeed their children if they so desire. Since that time, I have breastfed first Emily and then Thomas in restaurants, malls, parks, airplanes, casinos, doctor's offices, cars, at home, and at parties. I have breastfed in front of many members of my family, regardless of gender or age, and in front of a broad spectrum of the American public.

The urge to nourish your child is one of the most basic instincts that there is; it is neither gross nor sexual.

I applaud the editors of Babytalk magazine for emphasizing and showcasing such a natural and beautiful part of motherhood.

Emily_1
The nurse hands me Emily for the first time. Do I look nervous?


Emily_2
Hi. I'm your mommy.


Emily_3
Trying to get Emily to latch on. She was sleepy.


Emily_4
Success!


Emily_5
Checking out her body. All the toes there? Good.


Emily_6
And baby makes three


***
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Three Things I Know That Make My Life Easier


Lemon Bars
Originally uploaded by marytsao.
It's early on this beautiful, sunny Sunday morning and I'm drinking my coffee and mentally preparing for the new member social of my mothers's club. It's my turn to host and in less than two hours a couple dozen women will come over for pastries, coffee, and conversation. New members to our mothers's club tend to fall into three groups: new to motherhood, new to the area, or new to being a stay at home mom (SAHM). I remember how nervous and odd I felt at my first mothers's club meeting (me, a mother???) so I enjoy making these new members feel welcome and introducing them to the things our club has to offer: playgroups, children's outings, adult socials. And, of course, our fabulous newsletter put together by yours truly, aka: sucker mom who can't say no when asked to volunteer. Hi!

Now I'm mentally preparing, but last night I was physically preparing by cleaning up the house and patio. It didn't take too long -- about an hour inside and an hour outside. While I swept the patio, I lamented once again the fact we don't pay somebody to mow and blow our lawn and patio. I don't mind the act of sweeping; it's oddly satisfying. What I do mind is the time it takes. Am I the only person who actually feels a thrill when looking at a freshly swept patio? I hope not.

While I was sweeping, I was thinking of things that make my life easier. Of course, having somebody else to do my yard work would be one of them, but it's not necessary.

Here are three things that I know that do make my life easier:


  • My karaoke song. Mine is "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue" by Crystal Gayle. This is the song that I can sing and that doesn't make me sound like a fool. Good to know.

  • My potluck dish. I used to make a bean dish called Mississippi Caviar, but noticed that people tend to shy away from bean dishes and there's nothing worse than bringing back home food from a potluck. Now I make Lemon Bars (recipe courtesy of Debra Roby of A Stitch In Time -- Thanks again, Debra!) and trust me, the only thing I bring back home is an empty plate. Oh, and a head swelled from compliments.

  • How to clean my house in one hour. I'm not talking about deep cleaning, but I can get this place straightened up and smelling like a home instead of a zoo in under sixty minutes. That's a helpful thing to know how to do. (Hint: Sometimes I hide things in the dryer. Nobody ever looks there. Also, if you're cleaning for women, swipe the area that they can see if they're sitting on the toilet. That's when they have the most time to look around and contemplate your housekeeping skills.)


I know there's more, but seriously, knowing these three things has saved my butt and made my life easier more times than I can count.

What about you? What do you know?

***
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Friday, August 04, 2006

 

I a Big Girl


My Butt Circa 2006
Originally uploaded by marytsao.
We bravely continue the commando potty training here at the house of Tsao. Emily frequently declares, "I a big girl!" and "I like underwear!" and "Underwear is good, mama!" right before she pees in them. Potty training is going... okay.

Now that she no longer wears a diaper, Emily has discovered her butt. I'm okay with that; butts are cool, especially when they're tiny and cute and unblemished.

But today she discovered my butt:

Emily: Mama, what's this?

She pokes my bare butt repeatedly with her index finger, watching it's jiggly goodness in fascinated horror. I wasn't facing her, obviously, but I could tell from the way her finger poked me what the look was on her face.

Me: That's my butt.

(You know how this is going to end, don't you?)

Emily: Mama, your butt is BIG!

At that moment I realized why my mother never dressed in front of me.

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Thursday, August 03, 2006

 

Good Things Come in Threes


Krisco of Crib Ceiling, Mary
Originally uploaded by marytsao.
I know ya'll are sick of hearing about BlogHer, but I really want to thank some wonderful women that have helped me be the blogger I am today.

I want to acknowledge three women whom I had the pleasure of hanging out with at the convention: Liz of Mom-101, Krisco of Crib Ceiling, and Julie of Mothergoosemouse.

Liz of Mom-101 was my "first" at this year's BlogHer. That means she was the first person to talk to me and for that I will be forever grateful. I wasn't sure what to expect when I walked into the pool area at the San Jose Hyatt, clutching my laptop bag and wearing my non-mom shoes. I knew Mir, Chris, and Jenn were at the hotel somewhere, but I hadn't called to rendezvous with any of them. Thanks to Julie's awesome organizational skills, I had a vague idea that bloggers would be meeting in the pool area around noon-ish. I suppose I expected a large party but there were only a few women sitting at tables. All of a sudden I hear, "Mary? It's Liz... Mom-101!" Hurrah! All of a sudden my anxiety disappeared and I got to sit down and have a great conversation with Liz, Roo of roo the day, and Catherine of Her Bad Mother. Catherine and I discussed babies and eros, and she has promised to blog about it soon. Which is good because I didn't even remember the conversation until I read about it on her blog. Again, damn my crappy memory!

Later that evening, on my way to the bus that would take the BlogHer contributing editors to an off-site lemon drop hoe-down, a woman in the lobby shouted, "Mary! Hi!" And she looked at me and smiled. And I looked at her like an idiot with a blank look on my face. And she said, "It's Krisco! Crib Ceiling?!" I think I squealed and hugged her and appologized at that point. Oh, and then ran out the door and promised her I'd be back later. I have no idea why I didn't immediately recognize her -- I think I already had met and hugged close to two dozen women and I was starting to hyperventilate. But I did hang out with her later and also during the next two days and it was like hanging out with an old friend. Krisco is one of the first people ever to comment on this blog besides my mother and my mother-in-law. I think she found me last year from the BlogHer blogroll. And this year I got to meet her and have a conversation with her like I really knew her. Because, well, I do. It felt good.

I would like to thank Julie of mothergoosemouse, who not only was the extraordinary force behind compiling a list of a couple dozen bloggers who would be going to BlogHer, but who also was one of the first bloggers whom I stalked after last year's conference. I remember reading comments over at Meghan's blog written by one mothergoosemouse and really liking what this woman (I assumed she was a woman) had to say. So I followed her comments like a trail of breadcrumbs over to her blog and from her, I met dozens of other great women writers. And I'm selfishly glad she quit that lousy job she had because now she has more time to blog again! There, I said it. Julie is generous of mind and spirit, but she's also opinionated, which is good because she's smart and has smart things to say. She's the whole package, that mothergoosemouse. (And I love this post she just wrote about social networking. Good stuff!)

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Ah, the Mommybloggers: Jenny Lauck of Three Kid Circus, Jenn Satterwhite of Mommy Needs Coffee, and Meghan Townsend of I'm ablogging. What can I say? These three women helped introduce me to the concept of mommyblogging. Before I went to last year's BlogHer, I didn't know that I was a mommyblogger or that there were others like me. Seriously. The discussion we had last year (these three led last year's panel discussion on mommyblogging) led me to start taking seriously this little 'ol blog. And then when they featured me on the mommybloggers site?! Wow. I was walking on air for weeks.

Jenny, Jenn, and Meghan: You three really made me feel like I deserved recognition. Thank you for the ego boost! I had a great time hanging out with all three of you this year, and I see great things in the future for all of us!

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I also want to publicly thank the three women who are behind BlogHer: Jory Des Jardins, Lisa Stone, and Elisa Camahort. These three women are amazing powerhouses who were not afraid to ask the question, "Where are the women bloggers?" at last year's conference and who furthered the conversation this year with the theme, "How has your blog changed your world?" My blog definitely has changed my world, and I am excited to now be a part of the BlogHer organization as a contributing editor and as a founding member of the ad network. These three women are empowering women bloggers in many facets of their development and they deserve to be applauded for their hard work and dedication. And in dealing with these three women, I have never been involved with drama. Ever. They bring to the BlogHer organization pure professionalism and for that, I am especially thankful.

I know that looking at the photos of BlogHer might be intimidating, but I strongly urge any woman who is serious about writing--about blogging--to think about going to next year's conference. My attendance last year opened a number of doors for me and I anticipate good things to come from the relationships I started this year, too.

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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

 

Even Cowgirls Wear the Blues

At some point in your life as a mother to a daughter, you will look at your child and realize that she is far more beautiful than you ever have been or ever will be.

And that's okay.



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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

 

Awkward Moments

Last night we had some friends over who do that whole kissing on each cheek thing like they do in Europe. But because our friends don't have accents and they visited us in our suburban tract home in California, I was caught unawares. So the first kiss went fine but the second one was completely awkward because I didn't see it coming. Then, when I realized that it was coming, I wasn't sure if my friend wanted to plant one on my lips or lick me or what. At the last minute, I remembered about the whole European kissing style that my French friend Valer taught me and I managed to turn my head while at the same time giggling nervously in a way that I hope appologized for my crude American ways.

That was the first awkward moment.

The second was when I had my arm up and Emily pointed to my arm pit and said, "What's that, mommy?"

"It's called stuble, sweetie, and I'm going to remember this when you ask me to sleep in the big bed tonight."

And the third awkward moment was when we said our good-byes and I was caught unawares by the European kissing custom AGAIN even though the first awkward exchange had been just hours earlier. (Off topic: Why am I still experiencing short term memory loss years after smoking that last joint?)

P.S. Doris, if you are reading this (because I did give you my card and said something lame like, "Read my blog!" before I realized that I might want to discuss my awkwardness with kissing you on the Internet), I will try and remember for next time. We will be seeing you again, right?

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