Having a daughter means...

...dressing her however I want.

See Scarlett in action.


Eight Crazy Nights

Lighting the candles.
Opening presents.
Monkey slippers for everyone!
Sweater for me!

Note that we spent the fifth night of Hanukkah putting up our tree.


Little green lies

Ryan has just popped a few Jelly Bellies into his mouth. Enter Julian, stage right.

Julian: Daddy, what are you eating?
Ryan: Asparagus.


Paci, RIP

Do you know about Halloween Magic? Well, I'll tell you. You put your candy right outside your bedroom door on Halloween night. In the morning, your candy will have magically disappeared and turned into a present! Perhaps it will be a Fisher-Price medical kit. Or maybe a child-sized musical instrument. You don't know yet because it's a surprise!

This lie is the first of many that we'll be telling Julian. It feels wrong to me, but I know we'll be talking all about Santa over the next couple of months, so I decided we should just jump in and get started with all the myth-making.

Halloween was a big hit at our house. We put decorations in the window that provided hours and hours of discussion and entertainment for the three talking members of the household. Julian was perfectly happy with his hand-me-down skeleton costume. He kept telling me that although it came from Lucas, Grandma Marilyn was the one who gave it to Lucas. I don't know where he got such an idea, but I went with it.

Scarlett celebrated her first Halloween as a Jazzercise queen. When we showed her off to our friends, instead of "That's so cute," we heard, "That's just wrong." If dressing my daughter as a Flashdance extra is wrong, I don't want to be right.

And final news for the month: We acknowledged Birthday 3.0 with a small party in our backyard and then we said goodbye to Julian's pacifiers. There was no myth involved. "Paci", as it was known, did not get taken by the Easter Bunny or mailed off to a new baby, nor did it "break". It is simply sitting on a shelf unused. Perhaps it is me or Ryan who is mourning the loss and unable to just throw them away. Paci, you were a good friend. We miss you already.



Helmet hair

Julian and Paxton had a blast at a block party in front of Paxton's house this weekend. Julian sat on Paxton's grandpa's steps and strummed a guitar along with some actual musicians for so long that he got a blister on his finger. They cruised around on their tricycles, ate potlucked food, and socialized to the best of their abilities.

If you've seen the movie SuperBad, and can remember the scene where the two high school buddies tell each other that they love each other and want to shout it from the top of the roofs, you understand how Julian and Paxton feel about each other.

Seeing the picture my mom took of them on their bikes reminded me of a picture I took exactly two years ago. They are a couple of weeks away from turning three years old right now, and a couple of weeks away from their first birthdays in the other picture.


Three Monkeys ... or ... two J-Dogs and a monkey in my parent's family room in August

It's Wordless Wednesday in the blogosphere.


Wassup, Cuz?

Calvin, Scarlett's older cousin, shows her how to play with a Gymini.

Bonus Julian story

Ryan: We have to go pick up the Honda.
Julian: It's too heavy, silly! We have to drive it.

> More family photos


Scarlett pushes 11 weeks

See more pictures from this week.

Timothy Hutton: Milkman?

A playground friend told us that Julian looks like Timothy Hutton. Thoughts?


Siblings without Rivalry

Of course you should not compare your children. Of course you shouldn't.

julian - 10 weeks - changing tablescarlett - 10 weeks - changing table


Julian's first shave

A pretend one, of course.



Since my parents always delight in hearing about the baby-centric adventures I have in Berkeley, I have to post this picture of Scarlett at her first yoga class, at five and a half weeks old. For $14, you spend two hours in a yoga studio with your baby, doing poses for your own well being and performing infant massage on your baby. Babysitters are on hand to cuddle your baby should she become bored with the spa-like experience she's receiving.

At this particular post-natal massage class, each student's station has a yoga mat for Mom and a cozy pillowy bed for baby. A bottle of massage oil, a clean washcloth, and a soft toy are set up, right next to your yoga brick and strap. When Scarlett got fussy, I was offered my preferred brand of swaddling blanket, and once she was calmed, an extra set of arms to rock her to sleep while I downwarded my dog and saluted my sun. At some point during the class, the instructor says something about how special your baby is. One mom was told that she looked like she needed a hug, and given one.

I'd love to go to yoga class tomorrow, but I have an appointment for another Berkeley baby task, a fitting with the Nursing Bra Nazi at Cotton and Company.


A glimpse of the future

I spent a lot of time with my mom this week. Now that I have a daughter, I think it makes us both think about the past, when I was a baby and she was a young adult, and also about the future-- what will it be like when my children are grown?

The more Julian talks to us, the more hypotheses we are able to make about what his future profession might be.

Used Car Salesman
Walking by a full parking lot.
Julian: That's a Honda, that's another Honda, that's a Lexus. That's a Prius. A Prius is a Toyota.

Lactation Consultant
I sit down to nurse Scarlett.
Julian: Take out your breast for her. There you go. Now, you need a pillow?

Advertising Creative
I am wearing a thick, red bathrobe, but decide I don't have time to shower, so I begin dressing.
Me: I changed my mind. I'm not going to take a shower now.
Julian: You still have your red towel on.
Me: Actually, it's called a bathrobe.
Julian: Actually, it's called a shower robe.

Executive Recruiter or Matchmaker
He has been whining.
Ryan: I don't like whining and Mommy doesn't like whining.
Julian: Does Scarlett like whining?

A moment of silence passes.
Julian: What do you think, Mommy?



Auntie Em

Emily stayed here for a few days last week. Thank god. She woke up in the morning with Julian for three mornings in a row. Anyone who wants to do that is welcome to come stay with us.

When my friend Mary stopped by and met Emily, she remarked that we talk alike. We believe this because we've heard it before, but it's a funny thing since we are almost nine years apart and have never lived together. Other notable similarities between us: picky eating, not very tall, and a strong affinity for customizing t-shirts.

Apparently my dad carries the DIY gene.


Less a leader than a follower

Since Julian has gotten old enough to socialize, we've noticed that he's more often found imitating his friends than recruiting them to get into any two year-old-style mischief that he's come up with on his own. If one of them starts rolling around on the grass, he'll roll around on the grass. If someone else blows bubbles in their milk, he'll blow bubbles in his milk. However, if we go to the park and he doesn't see any friends there, it's quite likely that he'll just sit on my lap for twenty minutes before engaging with the playground. And now, he has started a phase of being completely unable to make a decision.

Me: Do you want water, juice, or milk?
Julian: Can you pick for me, Mommy?

Since my dream for him is to become a rock star of the indie or punk variety, I was hoping he'd have some charismatic leader qualities. But I'm starting to think he is unlikely to be the front man.

Me: What color sticker do you want, Julian?
Julian: Which color YOU want, Mommy?

Perhaps the overwhelming responsibility of big brotherhood is burning him out.

Julian: I'm going to sing now.
Me: Ok, what song are we going to hear?
Julian: Can you make a request?

I guess he's just not very independent at the moment. Perhaps he'll get by on his looks.



Your Scarlett fix for the day


Something for which I am thankful

Tomorrow I'll be attending a memorial service for someone who really mattered to me, even though I didn't know her very well. Sherry Reinhardt was the founder of the support groups for new moms in Berkeley, and more than 6000 of us were lucky enough to be helped out by her over the past twenty years.

I wanted to write a really great explanation about how much my mom's group means to me, but the words are not coming. I am moved to tears and overwhelmed by the love and camaraderie I get from this group (and of course, my private parts hurt, I haven't slept through the night for two weeks, I have two children under three, and a manuscript to review by next week, so I am overwhelmed by everything around me.)

During the group meetings where we all met, Sherry led us through discussing issues of sleep, extended family, sex, and self-esteem. She helped us find coping techniques. She coached us to go on outings, taking our brand new babies out in the world, even when it rained. She told us to go to each other's houses in order to keep each other company and combat the isolation that comes with having a newborn, but that cleaning up for your guests and providing snacks was not expected.

The coping techniques I learned from my sessions with her have become the foundation for the book I'm writing: The Rookie Mom's Handbook. I will be eternally grateful to Sherry for that. My creative spin on her ideas ultimately led me to take a chance on writing this book, and it's actually being published next Spring.

I feel lucky to have known her, and sorry for those who missed the experience. I can't imagine my life right now without having met the women in my group.

After the memorial service, there will be a potluck, in true Sherry-style. I mentioned to my group that I didn't plan to bring anything and would have to bring Scarlett with me. I know Mary was right when she said, "Whitney, Sherry would think that it's totally appropriate for you to come with your two-week old and bring nothing."

Read more about Sherry on her website or in her obituary on SF Gate.


Meeting of the Cousins

Big brother Julian shows off his soothing skills, telling baby Calvin that "it's okay".


It's pretty quiet around here


Born on the Fourth of July

She was three days early! Thank you, Scarlett! And, at just under seven pounds, she was able to exit the Southern route as hoped for. I am feeling pretty good. More details another day. For now... pictures.


Nine Months and One Day

We are 5 days from the 07/07/07 due date. Ryan and I have put our money on ten days past due as the birthday. If you care to wager, please comment here.


New photos

It's been a while since the gallery was updated. Here you go.


Does this shirt make me look fat?

36 weeks, 8.25 months.


Kiss me. I'm punk.

Julian asked for this ponytail. When I put it in, he said, "I'm a girl now!"

I reminded him of a dad he knows who has a ponytail. He was not convinced. When we took the rubberband out, he said, "Now I'm not a girl anymore."


These booties are not made for walking

Stephanie, my BFF from junior high, just sent me these booties she made. Jealous?


Julian and Holden play "doctor"




What could you possibly need less than a cozy for a travel pack of tissue? I'm not sure, but perhaps an oversized Tupperware storage container full of fabric scraps.

As such, I am on a mission to turn my haphazard collection of fabric scraps into something (slightly) useful, if not charming.

And I'm not alone. There are 132 tissue-holder pictures posted on flickr.

Make that 134. I just made two of these.

Pattern inspired by WhipUp.net.

Backstory on the three fabric scraps used above:

1) Outside khaki silk brought from Japan by my mom
2) Inside mod cotton canvas left over from Amanda's birthday apron.
3) Trim made of quilting cotton purchased for a never-to-be made quilt

Backstory on the three fabric scraps used above:

1) Outside green quilting cotton purchased for late-90s Halloween costume "Material Girl"
2) Inside (not shown) dark blue denim left over from purses made when we lived in Oakland (pre-2002)
3) Polka-dot trim from fabric used on my own every-day tote bag, made about a year ago.


Mother's Day

32 weeks (7+ months)


Sippin' smoothies with Theo

Julian is very much in love with his friend "Fee-o" who has the following admirable attributes:

1. A train table at his house.
2. A baby sister who is still small enough to be held by Julian.
3. A relatively new, super tough scar across his nose.
4. A mom who is happy to hang out with me as much as possible.
5. Unbridled enthusiasm for chasing after lemons from the tree in our back yard.

His passion for Theo does not mean that Julian did not spend half of their time together yesterday whimpering in my arms. However, he did greet Theo warmly at the door with a smoothie that we made especially for them to share.


Can't get enough of me?

An interview with me has been posted at Peekaboo Picks, an online magazine.

Check it out.


Ryan, the Almighty

Driving in the car yesterday afternoon, Julian said "Where's my rainboots?"

"I left them at home. We don't need them anymore today 'cause it stopped raining," I told him.

"Daddy turned the rain off."

Four jobs I have had

When you are a woman my age, and have a kid or some kids, you suddenly have access to an employment status that would not have previously been acceptable: unemployed. I'm not saying it's acceptable for YOUR household-- that's between you and your partner-- but, in society at large, no one seems to be thinking I'm a loser even though I don't have a steady paycheck. Now people ask me IF I work, not WHERE I work. And, if we've just met, and they ask WHERE I work, I say that I have a kid and I'm writing a book. I don't know if I'm adequately explaining the weirdness of this, but what's happening is that I am trying to get used to my work situation and the uncertainty of what it will be over the next year.

My friend Sunny sent me an email asking me to list four jobs I've had in the past. This is not my resume, but a more interesting random assortment of jobs, none of them related to the $8 million slice of LeapFrog's business that I worked on most recently.

Four jobs I've had for more than four weeks

1. Sales girl at upscale sporting good store - GO Sport, in the Century City Shopping Center, where I learned about Gor-Tex and clothing that wicks, several years before Patagonia became all the rage. Fun because friends and celebrities would come in the store.

2. Gymnastics Teacher - I got this job about ten minutes after landing in the Bay Area and it paid about a dollar more than minimum wage. I am great at this job, but cannot support myself this way.
3. Receptionist - At the Salem Lutheran Home in Oakland, a multi-level care facility. Scariest moment - I almost had to say "grace" for about 100 residents at breakfast one morning, and I don't know the first thing about Jesus and appreciating his gifts for us. Finally the pastor arrived and saved me.
4. Copy Chief - At WineShopper.com, I was responsible for proofreading and editing two-sentence descriptions of wines. I sucked at this job and quit after six weeks.

If you leave a comment, please share four of your past jobs.


Smuggling a soccer ball... or something larger

Self-portrait at 27 weeks, aka 6+ months


My son, the doctor

After we showered together in Mexico, Julian was very serious and concerned about the state of Mommy’s penis: non-existent. We had a little chat about who has what type of body parts, and he definitely understood this new information.

A conversation later in the week:

Julian: Daddy, put sandals on.
Ryan: No, Daddy has an owie on his foot.
Julian: Mommy, put sandals on.
Whitney: I don’t want to put my shoes on right now.
Julian: Mommy has an owie?
Ryan: No, Mommy doesn't have an owie – just Daddy.

(Thoughtful pause)

Julian: Just mans have owies and penises. Not womans.

I quickly pointed out an owie that I had elsewhere on my body, and we were all once again clear about the major difference between “mans” and “womans”.


As all toddler parents know, there is nothing more fascinating to a kid in diapers than mom or dad using the toilet. Plus, due to safety reasons, it’s usually easiest to just let them stand next to you while you’re doing your business than to hope that they are playing independently and not about to eat poison or knock over something, forcing you to run from the bathroom with your pants around your ankles. And so, today, Julian stood directly in front of me while I sat on the toilet, armed with his new anatomical knowledge.

Julian: What’s that? (Pointing to my crotch)
Me: (Annoyed, but obligated to the truth) Remember? That’s my vagina. That’s where my pee comes out.
Julian: Mommies don’t have penises.
Me: That’s right.
Julian: And babies don’t have teeth!


As you can see, he's got it all figured out. I'm starting a fund for medical school.


Oh, Mexico

We are back from five days in Sayulita, Mexico, where we did almost nothing all day. Unless you count napping, Sudoku, and People magazine as doing something, in which case, we were incredibly busy. My arms are completely exhausted from dipping all those chips into guacamole.

Here are the pictures.

People seem to be pretty interested in where we stayed. This year, since it was just the three of us, we got a two bedroom condo in the center of town. It is one block from the beach and the front door sits under a tree full of 24" long iguanas. The place was called Casa Siestas y Olas and having a separate bedroom for Julian was fantastic. Last year, we stayed in a huge house called Casa Bouganvillea with Doug and Sharon. There was tons of space for hanging out, and a gorgeous view, but it only slept four adults. We put Julian's crib in the bathroom, and we all slept horribly. Lesson learned.

Ryan surfed for about an hour each day. We tried to teach Julian to enjoy the sand and water, but he had to adapt to the setting at his own pace. Mostly he was distracted by how dirty his hands were getting, until the last couple of days when he finally got into it and acted the way we think a two-year old should act at the beach: delighted.

We also gave Julian his first ice cream cone. The next day, when we walked by the bench where he had eaten the cone, he sat on it and said, "I have a snack now." I pulled some crackers out of my purse and offered them to him. "No," he shouted, "I have ice cream cone!" Okaay.


Phonics lessons from Julian

Thanks to the brilliant LeapFrog-produced DVD The Letter Factory, Julian knows all the sounds that letters make. This doesn't mean he's ready for Kindergarten or anything, he just has a faint notion that "D is for Daddy" has something to do with saying "Duh-duh-daddy." When I get tired of talking about Thomas the Train, sometimes I tell him about the initial letters of his favorite words.

Recently, he's schooled me on a few letter sounds that I was confused about. Direct quotes from Julian:

  • "Emily" starts with "M"
  • "Our house" starts with "R"
  • "Theo" starts with "O"
In other news, we are headed to Mexico for vacation where we'll see who understands more Spanish: Julian with five months of bilingual daycare and a two-year old's grasp of English or Whitney with a minor in Spanish Language and Literature and advanced fluency in English? Or, perhaps it will be Ryan who doesn't get tripped up by vocabulary and just looks at facial expressions and hand gestures.


Baby pants & hat made from t-shirt

I couldn't help myself. After I made pants and a hat for Heather's boys out of a no-longer-a -favorite Banana Republic sweater of Ryan's, I just had to make something for our household, too. Starting with... this salmon-colored J.Crew shirt.
I posted a tutorial for making the hat on RookieMoms.com, and the pants -- well, they're just the sleeves of the same shirt sewn together with a button added.

So here they are - Baby Girl M-C's first handmade clothes. 100% recycled, to boot. How Berkeley can you be?
Excuse the hat model. We don't have any life-sized babydolls.


Back porch action



Labor Day?

No, not for me.

Last week, a guy in my neighborhood asked me if the baby is coming soon. Well, that is a relative question. If you think 4.5 months is soon, then absolutely, we are having a baby soon. In the world of pregnancy, however, I am just halfway there. "Soon" seems like a huge exaggeration.

Because of my height, I suppose, I am large for the second trimester, with plans to get much larger. I am preparing to be fielding that question for the next four months, until I can finally say, "Yes, soon."

For Heather (my writing partner and a bff), however, "soon" is the right word. Hours or days, we don't know, but for her it could not be soon enough.

Here we are at 20 and 39.5 weeks.

So, to answer your frequently asked questions:

1 - I feel great; thanks for asking.
2- The first half of July. Due to our previous experience, in this house, we don't focus on an actual day. 07/07/07 is a possibility, however.
3- A girl, according to the ultrasound technician.
4- Yes, Julian knows the words "mommy has baby in da tummy" but we don't think he necessarily knows what that means.
5- They will be 2 years and 8 months apart.
6- We do have some name ideas, but they are sealed in saran wrap, locked in an airtight vault, and will not be revealed before the end of the pregnancy.

UPDATE: Heather's baby, Milo Theodore Flibbs (not his real last name), was born 47 hours after this picture was taken.