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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the portable baby


recent posts
Oh Marie!

Grandmas, babies & photos

They didn't scream, she didn't quit, I didn't throw myself under a bus!

I love you, Porgy

We were the only ones without a babysitter

Dan's 35th birthday party blows...

Two much

Poison... or pirates?

Domestic still life, by Julian

Baby on board

Adrian not eating sand

A very rare occasion on which I'm not dirty and disheveled.

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« October 2007 | Main | December 2007 »

November 28, 2007

Oh Marie!

I swear, I don't read nearly as much trashy news as I used to, what with two kids and all. But I saw some little excerpt online recently about Marie Osmond getting divorced for the second time recently, and also that she has EIGHT KIDS. OK, 5 of them are adopted, but still. That's EIGHT KIDS. Jesus Christ. TWO are kicking my ass currently, so I can't even comprehend eight. Apparently she had crippling PPD after her third child was born (making seven kids total by that point). Drama!

The tasty news tidbits keep coming. She was apparently just on "Dancing With the Stars" and did some doll routine that was universally panned. I watched it on YouTube, and sucks hard. And they did that crap to a Rolling Stones song too. Barf.

Then it turns out that she is this big doll designer who sells a zillions dolls a year on QVC. Personally, I don't like dolls. I find 99% of them creepy. But these? These are WAY creepy. In a hysterical kind of creepiness.

Here is the (I'm not kidding)....Baron Von Beetle Bitty Beauty Bug Porcelain Doll

Baron Von Beetle wears a black and green tuxedo with a green lame bow tie and cummerbund.

Yeah. That green bow tie IS lame.

Even better, she sells a line of dolls that are dressed as clowns. Not only dressed as clowns, but sitting in muffin cups.

Here's the Lemon Poppyseed Rag-a-muffin Doll

Did I mention that I hate clowns *much* more than I hate dolls? I think a doll dressed as a clown is pretty much the worst thing imaginable. The muffin cup thing, I just plain don't get. Not only is that weird and ugly, but according to one reviewer, "I would have given this a 5 star rating, but the muffin cup is poorly made and cracks easily. They should redesign the cups and perhaps use silicone instead."

Wow. Oops, here's another complaint of a cracked muffin cup.

Bummer, I was going to use that in my Easy-Bake oven.

November 14, 2007

Grandmas, babies & photos

This is a photo of my Grandma Wava (92 years old, I think?) holding her newest great-grandchild, Summer Elise Agren. Summer is the baby girl of my cousin James and his lovely wife Chandra.

Grandma Wava LOVES babies and she hasn't had any around in a while. I only brought Julian down rarely to see her (she lives in Southern CA, I live up north) and he wouldn't ever cooperate and let her hold and cuddle him and sniff his baby-soft fuzzy head. I felt bad. I haven't been down there with Adrian yet. He might cooperate. Then again, maybe not. Darned mama's boys.

This photo makes me happy because *look* at Grandma Wava! She is ALL OVER THAT BABY, just loving her up. Nice of Summer to cooperate, because she just made an old lady very happy. Imagine having a GREAT-grandchild. Wow.

And here is the lovely Chandra herself, with her adorable baby girl. She is standing in front of the famous Wall of Family Photos at Grandma Wava's house.

What surprised me about seeing this wall here was the number of photos of ME. I haven't seen this wall myself in a while, but I don't remember being so well-represented. I mean dang, Grandma Wava has....*eleven* grandchildren, for crying out loud, and yet I seem to be taking up a lot of that real estate on the wall. All five of the photos on the far right below the top photo are of me. Crazy! Actually, I think the top photo is of me too. Not sure on that one.

Well now I know what to get her for of Julian and Adrian to go on her wall!

They didn't scream, she didn't quit, I didn't throw myself under a bus!

My new nanny/babysitter started today. BTW, is "babysitter" considered to be a pejorative term these days? Suddenly everyone is a nanny, which I think of more as a full-time, live-in kind of caregiver. But I digress...

Anyway, Kim started today. She was awesome. She carried Adrian around on her back in one of my carriers while she played soccer, baseball, basketball AND football with Julian. I gave her a quick lesson in how to get him on her back, and she took it from there.

There was NO screaming from Mr. Baby. He fussed a little when I had to answer the door and come into his line of sight, but otherwise he seemed happy as a clam.

Julian had so much fun he almost exploded. He was utterly wiped after she left; he had a full-blown exhausted meltdown and went to bed early.

I got some work done without having to juggle two kids and going crazy as a result.

We all had fun! Hooray for Kim the lifesaver!

She is also able to help me with my business, which I am really psyched about. I desperately need to catch up on instructional videos, product detail shots, etc. I have about ten products that are just sitting in my garage not being sold at all, because I don't have time to get them up on my website. How sad is that? It's REALLY sad, I 'll tell you.

She's a graphic designer by training, so I can also pass off all my Photoshop busywork to her. Making thumbnails, stuff like that. She can probably do layouts too.

I'm so happy! Just one thing Kim, please don't move away. Don't get married, or divorced. Don't go on any extended vacations. Don't suddenly hate small children. I need you Kim. I need you in my life BAD. Stay Kim, stay.

November 13, 2007

I love you, Porgy

I never understood what this song was about until I SAW Billie sing it. So gorgeous, elegant, expressive, tragic.

This video is something else, especially the second half where the camera moves in a little.

I love you, Porgy
Don't let him take me
Don't let him handle me
and drive me mad.

If you can keep me,
I want to stay with you forever
and I'll be glad.

I love you, Porgy
Don't let him take me,
Don't let him handle me
with his hot hands.

If you can keep me,
I want to stay here with you forever
I've got my man.

Someday I know he's coming
back to call me.
He's gonna handle me
and hold me so.

It's going to be like dying, Porgy
When he calls me.
But when he comes, I know
I'll have to go.

I love you, Porgy
Don't let him take me
Don't let him handle me
and drive me mad.

If you can keep me,
I want to stay with you forever
I've got my man.

We were the only ones without a babysitter

Lap baby, originally uploaded by mslaura.

So remember that party we were supposed to go to, I wrote about it in my previous post, the one where it sounded like everyone had a babysitter but us?

Well, everyone DID have a babysitter but us. We were the only ones with kids at the party.

It was a surprise birthday party for our friend and neighbor Riley. Right before she was due to arrive, Adrian was FINALLY ready to take a crap. He hadn't pooped in over 3 days. Imagine.

So I spent the "Surprise!" moment at the party in the bathroom, holding my baby over the toilet while he shat his brains out.

In this photo, Adrian is all sweaty because he has been wiggling so hard on my lap. I am trying to listen to a very funny roast of Riley, done by her husband Brian. Dan was the second roaster, and he did a good job. He had prepared jokes and everything. A true comedy professional.

Dan's 35th birthday party blows...

Dan's 35th birthday, originally uploaded by mslaura.

This photo cracks me up, first of all because Dan is totally going for it with those candles, and second, because Adrian is hell-bent on holding him back.

This is not a new photo, BTW. Dan's birthday was back on October 17th. I just didn't get around until posting it until now.

Yes, those are TWO cakes you see there. Loving wife that I am, I made a Chocolate Fig Cake with Sticky Toffee Chocolate Glaze (from Martha Stewart, no less) AND an Angel Food Cake. Of course, Dan doesn't even really like cake. But I enjoyed eating them.

November 09, 2007

Two much

Hoo boy.

Dan and I took the kids to the Palo Alto Baylands this afternoon for a nice walk in the marshes at sunset. It was beautiful, but Julian was acting a bit crazy. He has been yelling really loudly all day long. Guess it's just one of those days.

Meanwhile I'm on Night 3 of Very Little Sleep due to Adrian thrashing around half the night for unknown reasons. So I'm running on fumes.

Anyway, it was a lovely walk and we were hungry afterwards, so I offered to take the family to dinner in Palo Alto. We haven't been out in a million years. And now I remember why...WE HAVE TWO SMALL CHILDREN.

We drove downtown, parked, and walked around looking for a place to eat that wasn't too fancy, too slow-serving, or too spicy. We saw a groovy Indian place, and took note for a possible future date night. We saw Facebook's offices...didn't know they were headquartered in downtown Palo Alto. Saw a sushi place that looked kid-friendly, but we do sushi take-out all the time, and I was hoping for something new.

Finally I spotted a tapas place. Mmmmm, tapas. Small dishes, informal setting...sounded good. We entered...and all hell broke loose.

Adrian saw food and immediately started screeching, demanding that I put it IN HIS MOUTH RIGHT NOW! He thrashed around, wildly grabbing at spoons, napkins, menus. Where is that food! I know it's here somewhere! SCREEEEECH!

Julian, normally a well-behaved diner, was in rare form as well. He was standing up in the booth and answering all conversation with, "Don't say that!" in a semi-hysterical tone of voice.

I ordered a pitcher of sangria and hoped that bread would arrive soon, as I kept wrestling Adrian away from the objects on the table, and tried to distract him from further screeching, or throwing spoons to the floor with a loud clang.

Garlic shrimp and sangria arrived, with bread. Hallelujah! Adrian started chewing a piece of baguette and quieted down temporarily. Julian actually ate an entire shrimp, plus bread. It was delicious. Dan and I wolfed down shrimp at an insane pace.

Then all hell broke loose again. Adrian decided that he didn't like bread anymore. He threw it down and refused all further attempts to put it in his mouth. I tried to give him some tortilla espanola, he refused that too. He drank a little water, and then the screeching began again.

I yanked up my shirt as the screeching decibel level rose, and tried to latch him onto my Failsafe Tool of Last Resort. He grudgingly nursed a little bit, then rejected it and screeched some more. I felt my brain melting inside my skull and flowing out through my ears. WHY oh WHY did we bring our offspring out to a restaurant...just for the pure torture value of it? Why did we have kids at all? Look at all these happy, tranquil people around us...clean, well-rested, stylishly dressed...enjoying a quiet happy hour at the bar with half-price drinks. Holding uninterrupted intelligent conversations, no less!

And then there was our table...covered in half-chewed splotches of bread, with piercing shrieks and wails assaulting the ears of anyone unfortunate enough to be seated in our vicinity. All silverware and plates shoved to the far end of the table, away from the marauding Mr. Baby. One slightly disheveled father vainly offering food to an unwilling and loudly protesting 3.5 year old (imagine...EATING in a restaurant! the nerve!), and one exhausted, grimacing mother wrestling a large baby in an attempt to keep him from overturning the table, in between hasty gulps of sangria rosada (which was a mistake, as it gave me a headache later without providing any discernible stress relief in the meantime).

We finished up the last morsels of Lemon and Garlic Chicken and skedaddled. The aroma of Hot and Bothered Dog wafted out of the car as I opened the back hatch to check on Bugs, not at all happy about being left there while we went to go eat.

The streets outside were full of happy Friday evening revelers, blocking traffic and stranding us on the exit ramp of the parking garage at a precarious tilt uphill, while the tired kids yowled in their carseats. Not like it was that late, it was only 6:45pm, mind you.

I was cursing all pedestrians, all cars in front of us who failed to pull out into traffic in a timely manner. And WHAT was all this traffic anyways? Oh right, Friday evenings. Normal civilians like to go out on Friday evenings to celebrate their lack of small children. I felt 95 years old.

When we got home I checked the Evite for a party that we were attending the following evening. Nearly every confirming attendee wrote something along the lines of, "We got a babysitter! Can't wait to party, see you there!"

No, we do not have a babysitter. I am working on one, she starts next week. She Whose Hearing Shall Be Assaulted by Unending Screams from Mr. Baby, aka Mama's Boy Who Shall Not Be Put Down. Oh, and Julian, aka LOOKIT! LOOKIT ME! LOOK!

So tonight we'll go to the party from 5-6:30pm, then come home, put the kids to bed (a two-parent task), and Dan will return to the party while I maintain my lonely vigil at home as Keeper of the Lactating Breasts.

I know this period will be over soon enough, and Dan and I will be wondering, "Dang, those kids are away at college already? How did the time fly like that?" But right now time is moving VERY SLOWLY. A good night's sleep, an uninterrupted hour of reading, a bathtub all to myself, a dinner out without worry and hurry...those all seem a million miles away right now.

Good thing these kids are so cute and (mostly) sweet, or I'd be really pissed. But I think it's all just a function of me never getting a break. Bring on the babysitter! And let's hope she doesn't quit.

Poison... or pirates?

I have been something of a hermit for the last few months. I've been swamped with work, or else one or both of the kids are sick, or I am. I've been wasting the summer as an ant, when I should be a little bit more of a grasshopper. Being an ant all the time makes me cranky, stressed, and a bad mother. I need to get out!

So for the past week I've been taking the kids on expeditions again. We went to the Body Worlds 2 exposition, on a long walk along the Los Gatos Creek Trail, and yesterday we went to the Emma Prusch Farm Park. Today we're going to the Palo Alto Baylands to hike along the San Francisco Bay, birdwatch, and check out all the little private planes taking off and landing at the teeny tiny Palo Alto Airport.

I haven't gotten a damn thing done workwise this week, but I feel better. I'm not too worried about it, as I have a nanny/babysitter starting next Monday 3 days a week. I'm going to give her some earplugs so that Adrian's screaming doesn't deafen her when he figures out that SOME NON-MOMMY PERSON WILL BE HOLDING HIM! He's deep in separation anxiety mode, and screams bloody murder when I so much as put him down or leave his line of sight. Two weeks ago he was all about Daddy, this week Daddy is the Horrible Non-Mommy Thing. He might as well be the Anti-Christ.

This phase is HARD. I love him to pieces, but even prisoners get time to eat and sleep. I sleep in 1-2 hour chunks and bolt food down at light speed whenever Adrian isn't on my back or my lap. Table manners? Ha! I'd use a shovel to eat with if I could. Just dump my dinner in a trough and mix it all together for me. It's fine.

While at the Farm Park yesterday we were walking next to a big barn and saw a shed with a big CAUTION: POISON sign on it. And a picture like this:

Julian asked me, "What does THAT say?"
"It says, 'CAUTION: POISON'. It means we should stay away from that shed."
"Oh." (Thinking hard...) "So the *pirates* don't get us?"

I just about died laughing. Because OBVIOUSLY skull and crossbones are a sign of pirates, not poison, for crying out loud. Look, here's the Jolly Roger. The same!

And now I can see why some advocates want to eliminate the skull and crossbones completely as a symbol of poison, and go for something like Mr. Yuk instead.

Julian says, "It means run away, this is icky!"

This symbol is pretty terrifying to me. I just asked Julian what he thought it meant and he said right away, "Poison!"
Well actually it means "ionizing radiation", but I will accept "poison" as a correct answer. That scary image gets the point across. Run the fuck away from that shit or your ass will be vaporized.

I went back to the skull and crossbones and asked him what THAT meant.
"It's a skeleton! It more!"

"Does it mean pirates too?"
"Ummm, yes. And stay out!"

November 06, 2007

Domestic still life, by Julian

Domestic still life, by Julian, originally uploaded by mslaura.

I really like this photo. Julian took it all by himself, and I don't think it's half-bad for a 3.5 year old.

Daddy's rocking baby brother, flowers are on the table, and Mommy just served up two uncured all-natural hot dogs with a side of fruit. All's right in the world. Our house looks clean too.

The view is from Julian's Stokke chair at the dining table.

Baby on board

On the move, baby on board, originally uploaded by mslaura.

Julian got his own baby backpack the other day and he was pretty thrilled. It was one of the things that he asked for when I was pregnant with Adrian, and I finally came through on it. It took me almost a year, but hey...better late than never.

That's Paul on his back, by the way. He's a really easy baby; never cries or complains, and when you get tired of him you can just put him up on a shelf.

I'm sooooooo jealous.

Adrian not eating sand

Adrian not eating sand, originally uploaded by mslaura.

I can't believe he didn't, either. Because some days I feel like the only thing I say is, "Oh no! What do you have in your mouth?" ...over and over and over again.

Julian was totally not a "put everything in your mouth" kind of baby, and now I'm realizing how easy I had it with him. He did want a *boob* in his mouth 24-7, but apart from that? Not much. He never ate sand or paper or anything odd.

Adrian, on the other hand, will put absolutely anything in his mouth. His favored activity of the past two weeks is trying to eat the dog, tail first. I can't tell you how many times I've caught him with Bugs' tail in his chubby fists, mouth open, just *about* to put that tail in his mouth and bite it. Bugs just sits there all innocent, with no idea of the horrible fate he has narrowly escaped.

Mealtimes are especially interesting between Julian, who will hardly eat a damn thing (suddenly *everything* is ICKY, including pancakes, maple syrup, bread, and all vegetables) and Adrian, who will literally put anything in his mouth and swallow it.

The other night I was eating a whole roasted beet and Adrian grabbed my hand and directed the beet into his mouth, where he gnawed several mouth-sized chunks off it happily and then demanded more. He also ate some spicy sausage with no complaints (not that I was going to give it to him, but he insisted on tasting it), avocado, spinach, sweet potato, omelette, cooked carrots, and some little chunks of roast beef off a Philly Cheese Steak pizza from Trader Joe's.

You should have seen his face when he ate the first little chunk of roast beef. It was like the heavens opened up and shone on him for the first time. Welcome to Paradise, Mr. Baby.

Julian, on the other hand, would eat none of the above except for avocado, which has somehow remained on the NOT ICKY list.

Most days, at least. What he will eat is cereal, pistachios, all kinds of fruit, cucumbers, avocado, eggs, cheese, occasionally chicken or mild sausage, raw carrots (but never cooked, those are *tremendously* icky), steamed rice, edamame, fruit leather, oatmeal (sometimes) and Trader Joe's fruit bars.

He also likes candy, which he only discovered this last Halloween. But he's not a fan of chocolate, cake or cookies. That must come from Dan, because I've never met a sugar molecule that I didn't like.

I am somewhat comforted to read that pickiness is a normal stage for 3-5 year olds. I just finished one study that concluded thus:
Conclusion: During the third year of life, while energy intake increases, the restriction of food variety appears to be a normal transition phase. Long duration of breastfeeding is associated with higher food variety.
Julian breastfed until he was 2.5.

I read plenty about kids who will only eat foods of a certain color, or who won't touch fruit, so as much as I think he's starving himself, I suppose it could be much, much worse. When I look at the actual list of acceptable foods above, it doesn't seem so bad.

At least I don't have to worry about him putting everything in his mouth!

November 05, 2007

A very rare occasion on which I'm not dirty and disheveled.

On vacation in beautiful Avila Beach (on California's Central Coast). My mom watched both kids and Dan and I went out to dinner for the first time since Adrian was born.

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