msLaura: Modern Mama Laura Hamilton + Dan Baker = Julian Hamilton Baker & Adrian Hamilton Baker "When a woman tells the truth she is creating the possibility for more truth around her."
- Adrienne Rich



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recent posts
California takes the lead again...

Keith O. takes Rumsfeld down

The Nap Police

When the sh*t hits the fan in Salt Lake City, you KNOW it's bad for Bush

I'm so glad no one speaks English on this train

Not incompetent, but definitely a bad public speaker....

Announcing Boy #2 - in which the Twig and Berries are seen

Where's Plan B?


Overachiever needs help

Super Spaz

The Astute Observer

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August 31, 2006

California takes the lead again...

More good news for all of us...yesterday California's Senate approved a landmark anti-global warming plan that will impose broad caps on its greenhouse-gas emissions. This legislation marks a clear break with the federal government. Backers hope it will become a national model.

California has led the country in reducing greenhouse gas emissions through its renewable energy policies and a 2004 law reducing tailpipe emissions from vehicles.

Ten other states are poised to enact California's auto rule, while more than 20 states have required utilities to eventually generate some power from renewable sources such as solar, wind and geothermal.

For once, the Senate, Assembly AND the Governator worked together to come up with an excellent piece of legislation. Right on.

Republicans blasted the bill, saying the bill would have little effect and make California an expensive place to do business. "This bill is the road to economic ruin for California," said Sen. Dennis Hollingsworth.

Ugh, idiots. yeah, obviously no one wants to live or work in California. Our real estate prices reflect that. Our economy reflects that. If you want to leave and go off to Arizona or Kansas or Bangladesh, have at it, I say. Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out. Cali is climbing back on TOP! THIS is the place to be!

Republicrat Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who helped assemble the plan, called Wednesday's agreement "an example for other states and nations to follow as the fight against climate change continues."

Good work Maria. You're doing a good job as the power behind the throne. Whether or not Arnold's just doing this for re-election brownie points or not, it's still a good thing.

Keith O. takes Rumsfeld down

Oh SNAP! You GO Keith Olbermann from MSNBC...fired UP! What was that I said two posts ago about a tipping point?

Once you get to this page click one of the two video links.

By the way, Keith's a fine example of an accomplished public speaker. By golly, he uses big words and pronounces them right and everything!

The Nap Police

Julian is 2.5 years old. We just went through a major pain-in-the ass phase where Dan and I were both tearing our hair out dealing with him. Constant meltdowns with horrible crying jags, unreasonable behavior, very demanding, all politeness out the window.

Coincidentally (or maybe not) we happened to be going through a time of big sleep problems with Julian at the same time that this awful behavior started rearing its ugly head.

I have been taking a time-out from parenting books lately, I just kind of overloaded on them for a while. But I did just read "Sleepless in America: Is Your Child Misbehaving or Missing Sleep?" by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, and I found it to be not only a perfect picture of J's meltdown behavior, but very helpful as far as learning strategies for getting more sleep into myovertired, wired kid.

Some of it I already knew, but just wasn't practicing very well. The first part of the book was basically convincing the reader that exhaustion and sleep deprivation are a major cause of behavioral issues. OK, I didn't need any more convincing after about the first two pages. But the chapter on naps was worth the price of the book alone.

There is also a lot of interesting cultural info on Dutch attitudes towards children and sleep vs. American attitudes. If a child starts misbehaving and acting semi-nuts here, we try to distract him/her with even more activities. Wear him out! Keep him busy! The Dutch say, "Time for a nap! Early bedtime tonight!"

When we were having the most major problems, I had just given up on Julian's naps out of desperation, and started putting him to bed earlier. Otherwise he was napping at 3:00pm for a few hours (wouldn't nap before), then staying awake until 10-11pm at night. Misery for all of us.

But when I cut the naps out entirely we had 4-5 hours of afternoon time that was sheer misery as well. Just a constant freakin' meltdown. Horrible.

So I went back to basics. I realized that I was missing his window of tiredness, and trying to get him to lie down to sleep when he was well into his second wind. Now we have lunch at 11:45-12:00pm. At 12:30pm we go into J's room, lay on the bed, cuddle up and read 2-3 books. Then I tell him it's siesta time..PERIOD, and I close my eyes. Usually I pass out and take a nap myself. Lately he has been thrashing around a little bit, but then he sleeps for a good solid 2 hours minimum.

At first he wasn't napping, and I thought, "Hell, I might as well get up!" But after
reading the book I now insist on quiet time in bed for two hours. If he's not sleeping, OK, but he needs to stay in bed with his head on the pillow. He can look at books or play with his stuffed animals or a few toys, but no talking and no playing with me.

After only a few days of this, he started passing out cold after just 10 minutes or so of naptime preparations, and sleeping for hours. The poor kid is exhausted!

I wake him up at 2:45pm, if he's not up already. I have discovered that "no napping after 3:00pm" is crucial.

Then at 8:15pm or so (ideally) we start the bedtime routine with bath, then 2-3 more books while cuddling with Dan, and he's usually asleep by 9:15pm.

This took a while, but not nearly as long as I thought, maybe a week? From total chaos to a reasonable sleep schedule and much improved behavior.

He will still start melting down if I don't get him in bed early enough. The last hour
before bed is usually meltdowny anyway, which makes me think we could do an earlier bedtime, but I'll take it in increments.

Also, it's hard for me to get dinner on the table that early! Dan and I have always had dinner on Spanish time, around 8:30pm-9:00pm, so it's a real adjustment for me to think about having dinner ready and on the table at 7:30pm. Same with lunch...normally we don't eat until 1:30pm or so, so 11:45am is a little weird, but if it means better behavior and fewer meltdowns, I'm all for it.

So for our family anyway, I have discovered that sleep plays a huge part in behavior. For me as well. I have much more patience and can be a much better parent when *I* get enough sleep. I was pretty sleep deprived as well without even realizing it, and I was definitely having some meltdowns of my own when faced with Toddler on a Rampage. So I applied some of the book's practices to my own sleep schedule and I feel much better now. Naps...what a godsend. Earlier bedtimes...fantastic.

I am now getting closer to 9 hours of sleep daily, and J is getting almost 13 hours total. Previously? I was getting 6-7 and he was getting 10-11. HUGE difference.

It's so obvious now that I see it. As soon as Julian starts getting tired, his behavior just drops off a cliff. It goes downhill *that* fast. He starts hitting the dog and yelling "No!" and just going nuts. When he's rested though, he's really quite a joy to be around.

Like I said, the adjustment is hard for me, because I'm not really a scheduled, rigid person by nature. It's a battle for me to think far enough ahead to get dinner and lunch and all that ready, get him in the bathtub, get teeth brushed, etc. But obviously my kid benefits from a strict sleep schedule. And we're a team around here. When one of us is having a hard time, we ALL have a hard time. So might as well be a team player and get with the program. It's good practice for me, I suppose. I spent a good portion of my life floating along free and easy. Strict scheduling is an interesting change in some ways.

Plus it makes things easier in some ways to know that I MUST be home between 12-2:30pm and again by 8:15pm. No wishy-washy wondering how late I can get home and still possibly get J to sleep. Puts a cramp in dinners out though, for sure. But hey, we'll always get the Early Bird Special, if there is one!

Not like I just throw him in bed and lock the door...Dan or I still lay down with him and cuddle and read books until he's asleep. I used to sing lullabies, but that seemed to be too distracting for him after a while.

Anyway, I hope this solution keeps working. So far it seems to be doing the trick. This parenting thing is 90% detective work, I swear.

When the sh*t hits the fan in Salt Lake City, you KNOW it's bad for Bush

Oh boy, I wish this kind of thing had started happening sooner. Like maybe 3 years ago?

Well, actually it WAS happening. it just hadn't reached the tipping point that it seems to be hitting now.

August 27, 2006

I'm so glad no one speaks English on this train

I was browsing through Overheard in New York today. People report funny snippets of conversation that they overhear in various places.There are some gems there, for sure.

Like this one:

Dear Diary, Reynolds Admitted He Loves Me Today! Well, Almost.

Girl: Why don't you ever invite me to the dorms?
Guy: 'Cause if you wanna come, you should ask.
Girl: Well, do you want me to come over?
Guy: If I don't have to study, yeah.
Girl: Well then you should invite me!
Guy: Why?
Girl: 'Cause it would make me happy!
Guy: What the hell do I care?
Girl: Well, you wouldn't go down on me if you didn't want me to be at least pleased.
Guy: probably the best argument you could have made.
Girl: I'm so glad no one speaks English on this train.

--1 Train

Love it. And this one too:

When Narcissists Converse

Queer: Oh my God, I hope that guy over there thinks I'm cute.
Hag: Oh no, I hope I'm not pregnant.

--Uptown 1 train

and this, because I can relate to how she feels:

What If I Get a Long Identifying Number on My Forearm?

Guy: So you don't think neck tattoos are sexy?
Girl: No.
Guy: What do they make you think of?
Girl: Prison.
Guy: What if I get my name in Hebrew?
Girl: Jewish prison.

--10th & Ave B

August 25, 2006

Not incompetent, but definitely a bad public speaker....

What was UP with the latest Bush press conference? Well, Job Stewart does a nice job of dissecting it over at the Daily Show.

No, no, Bush is certainly not incompetent, but it does seem like he's possibly the worst public speaker in the history of presidential press conferences. Not only that, but he can't even keep his stories straight.

"What did Iraq have to do with 9/11?" he questions one reporter. "Nothing!"


Why is he so rude? Why does he seem so bi-freakin'-polar? Why does he keep saying "nucular"? Hasn't someone TOLD him how to pronounce "nuclear" correctly by now?

Ugh. Ugh. And more Ugh.

August 24, 2006

Announcing Boy #2 - in which the Twig and Berries are seen

So I had my big ultrasound last Tuesday and we saw Twig and Berries in the crotch shot. Well, I didn't see much Twig, but I did see some big Berries. Amazing what big balls baby boys have. I mean *really*.

In the non-genital realm, everything looked good. He was jumping around and scratching his head, so quite an active little fellow. Not Gingerbready at all anymore, he has now fully moved on to the Alien section of the fetal program. Big scary-looking eye sockets and fontanelles and that crazy half-skeleton look of the ultrasound.

But whatever. Now we just need to decide on a name. Ugh. Boys names are impossible. Now that we've already used up the one name we immediately liked and agreed on, #2 is going to be much more of a challenge.

I'll post the ultrasound pics, if anyone cares but us. There is one entertaining Alien shot, and of course, the between-the legs shot is always fun. Two little feet, some legs, and then a tiny brightly lit Twig and Berries. Why so bright? It's like there's a Genital Spotlight in the ultrasound.

OK, time to run. We have a playgroup to attend in Mountain View today. Busy week with lots going on. More later.

August 09, 2006

Where's Plan B?

In today's edition of The Onion, gotta love that rag...

August 08, 2006


Sunken Garden @ Filoli House, originally uploaded by mslaura.

Today I took my hiking group to Filoli House and Gardens in Woodside. It was lovely. Not really hiking, per se, but many members are currently gimpy or pregnant, and not up for strenuous hiking.

We met in the cafe there, then toured the house and gardens. Very impressive. Wow, those people really knew how to live...ballrooms, drawing rooms, fruit orchards, cutting gardens, libraries, even a Men's Lounge (where children and women were not allowed). Hrrrumpf.

The swimming pool is magnificent, and I love this sunken garden with reflecting pool. I am tempted to turn our underused bocce ball court into a water tank like this. At least part of it. The rest can be a glassed-in office for Dan/workroom for me and the kids. It would be especially nice in winter when the house gets dark and cold.

I'd like to get the guided tour of Filoli sometime...the self-guided tour was much more sparse on details, but as it was I think I'm the only one who did it all the way, the rest of the moms just wandered wherever. But their babies are smaller and fussier.

The photo at right is of the study at Filoli. The oak floor is gorgeous. It looks like it was burned with hot metal, but actually it was etched with the pattern and then stained, that's what makes the crosshatch design.

Wow, the Bay Area has so many cool places to visit. I'm trying to cram in outings before it starts getting cold. The weather right now is perfect..warm but not too hot. So much to see and do.

Overachiever needs help

About a year ago I went to an interview with a guy in a little one-room closet office located inside a small business incubator. He was a nice Indian guy, very driven and very smart.

His business idea seemed compelling and workable. He needed a UI person to build the web interface for his idea. I would only have to work part-time and the job was flexible. I just had to show up once a week, other than that I could work from home. He was willing to pay my full hourly rate, or offer some equity and a lower hourly rate.

It sounded great. The interview was promising. I went home and well, I didn't exactly wait by the phone, but I was looking forward to getting started. But he never called.

Last week I heard from him again. He got a round of funding and everything was now in motion at full speed ahead. Of course, I was excited. It seemed like a good business idea to ME, and now apparently other people thought so too. I was looking forward to starting the project.

Then reality set in. As Dan so kindly reminded me, I already HAVE a successful business that takes up 99% of my free time, plus I have two contract web design/development clients who I work for on a regular basis (Hi Anni!) plus a young son and a husband and a dog and chickens and a garden to take care of, plus hello I'm PREGNANT and need to take a nap at least every other day. My kitchen is a mess lately. The garage desperately needs organizing. This doesn't even count the other stuff that I'd like to do, like build a mosaic fountain for the backyard.

But apparently these things are not enough for me. I need more responsibility and more challenges and more work.

No, I really don't! I'm crazy to even think about taking on something else right now! I've been pretty good at saying no to new projects, but this one triggered a "yes!" response for some reason, I think because it was something that I was kind of waiting around for in the past, under different circumstances. But in the meantime my life has filled up and started to overflow.

The guy called me this morning, he wants me to start right away. I was out with a group of mom friends at Filoli and I couldn't really talk, but I am supposed to have a phone meeting with the new VP of Marketing tomorrow, and I'll have to turn him down then, tell him I can't take the job.

Ugh. Every job I turn down, I feel like it will be the last one offered to me, and I'm so lucky to even get any opportunities at all. That's totally not true, but I have that mindset, I guess from years of struggling. Anyway, I'm glad that Dan is around to remind me not to kill myself by taking on every jobt aht comes my way. Otherwise I would definitely be tempted to do way too much, and I'd probably have an ulcer and be a screaming madwoman right now. Not fun at all.

August 07, 2006

Super Spaz

I've officially moved into the Super Spaz phase of pregnancy. Not a day passes that I don't trip over the ends of my shoes, or fail to lift my foot high enough to clear a step. It's driving me mad.

Today Julian and I went hiking. I started off the hike by somehow managing to get a yellow jacket *inside* my hiking sandal, where it stung me with full force right on the tender arch of my foot. I got it out and brutally squashed the shit out of it, then I pulled the stinger out of my foot. I thought yellow jackets didn't leave stingers? Anyway, this one did.

I've been stung before, and it usually feels better after a few minutes, so I kept on trudging along, trying to walk on the side of my foot to give my arch a break. It DID feel better shortly, and I finished the hike just fine, but tonight my foot is swollen and painful. No doubt due to the location. Stung in the arch of my foot! Jesus, might as well sting my armpit or my lip or something. But I don't have to *walk* on those.

Last week I was working on building the chicken run and I managed to slip while using a tool and drive it deep into the pad of my hand. Ouch! It hurt badly for a few days, but I did not develop tetanus, for which I'm profoundly grateful, because I think my vaccination has expired, now that I think about it. Anyway, it has finally healed up now.

Last week I also walked into the edge of our bedframe in the dark on my way out to the hot tub and barked my shin pretty badly. It hurt like hell, but I didn't realize until a DAY later (when I thought to actually look at it) that I had neatly carved a chunk out of my shin, and I now had a big bloody hole in my leg where the chunk no longer was. I just thought that there was some blood that had crusted over, but then I saw that actually the skin was missing in a big chunk. I didn't even realize it until it started really hurting and I figured that I had better put some peroxide and antibiotic ointment and a bandage on it.

This afternoon I tripped over the step to the garage again and *almost* wiped out badly, but earlier today was the real doozy.

I was coming downhill while hiking, with Julian on my back. I navigated the dry slippery trail itself just fine, but when I got to a paved road it was covered with fine gravel right at the edge. I stepped out onto the road and immediately did a cartoonish roller-skates-on-a-banana-peel type slip. BOTH my feet were up in the air at one point, and I was SURE that I was going to go down, and go down HARD.

Somehow, miraculously, I regained my balance. I still don't know how, because not only were both feet in the air, I think they were both above my head at one point too. And then I scambled and pedaled in the air like crazy and my feet went back on the ground. TOTAL adrenaline rush!

I yelled 'HOLY CRAP! THAT WAS CLOSE!" to no one in particular and Julian asked me calmly and completely unfazed, "What happened Mama?"

"I almost FELL DOWN AND HURT BOTH OF US, that's what happened! Whoa!"

"Oh." And he went back to singing some nonsense song.

Of course, I havve been known to spaz out even when not pregnant. Last winter I was coming up the two steps from our backyard into our bedroom and tripped on the first step. I reached out to steady myself as I started to fall, but with such force that instead I *punched* the drainpipe like I was going for a TKO. Right on my pinkie knuckle, and I smashed it in and badly sprained it. That sucker hurt for two months, and every time it was almost healed I would reach out for some random item, miscalculate, and end up punching with my knuckle right in the same spot.

It was like when you keep biting that same bitten spot on your cheek, over and over and over again. Maddening.

The most embarrassing spaz I have ever done though, was with my brother-in-law Mike. I was holding a Big Gulp sized Coke, truly enormous. I don't even know why I had it, because normally I don't drink Coke, especially not that much Coke at once! But I guess I was thirsty, or especially hot, I don't know.

Anyway, I had this Big Gulp drink and I was sitting at the table at my in-laws house, chatting with Mike. I went to bring the drink to my mouth and I inexplicably spazzed out all of a sudden and lost my grip on it.

In slow motion I saw the drink fumbling in my hand, then I gripped it again, then it slipped again...the thing was suddenly ALIVE! It was like holding a cobra!

In slow-mo horror I saw the drink finally leap out of my hand in the direction of Mike, and literally DRENCH him from head to toe. He sat there completely astounded. I just threw an ENTIRE Big Gulp on him in his mother's kitchen, with no provocation or warning, in the middle of a normal conversation. Had I gone insane?

"Oh my God, I'm so sorry Mike! I don't know what happened, it slipped out of my hand. I just spazzed out for some reason! Ugh, let me help you clean up."

Sticky Coke all over the floor. All over everything. Ugh. Thank goodness he had a sense of humor about it. Both he and Dan will rib me about it from time to time. Usually Dan will say something like, "Watch out, or she'll throw a giant Coke on you. She's been known to do that."

Luckily I've only been doing physical damage to myself lately, and not others.But still, the whole Super Spaz thing is getting really, really old.

The Astute Observer

Julian has shown himself to be a Most Astute Observer lately. The kid pays attention to *everything* apparently, and stores it away in his little head.

Last night Dan was quizzing him on his name. Not just "Julian", but what was his *full* name? After some prompting, he came up with "Julian Baker".

Then we moved on to Daddy. What is Daddy's name? "Dan!"
Good, now what is Daddys' full name?
Hmmm, a stumper....he needed some help, but finally said "Dan Baker".

"What is Mommy's name?"
Well, close enough.

Now the real trick question...NO WAY would he get this one.

"What's Mommy's *full* name?"

The pause went on forever, and Dan and I waited to see what he would come up with.
"Lola Hamilton!"

WHOA! Dan and I goggled at one another and then gave Julian some big high fives for pulling it off. How in the world did he know that?

He must have heard me saying my full name when I call customers on the phone, which, granted, isn't *that* often. Maybe once or twice a week?

Then he said, "Name is Mommy Baker! Mommy Baker! Mommy Baker!" So he even grasps my dual personality as "Laura Hamilton", businesswoman and "Mommy Baker", um, mom, I guess. Funny!

Today we were coming back from the post office and we saw a UPS truck drive by.
"That's a big truck!" said Julian.
"That's a big brown truck!" I expounded.
"That's the big brown truck that brings the boxes! And Puppy barks, 'Arf! Arf!'"

I don't know why I was surprised that he knew that. The big brown truck brings the boxes practically every day, and Puppy does indeed bark his brains out when the driver rings the doorbell, if my sign isn't out.

Still, I never thought he was really paying attention to that kind of stuff. But it turns out that he is. I should give his little sponge brain a lot more credit.

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