Wednesday, June 28, 2006

June 30, 2002

On the night before my wedding, I didn't sleep at all. Not because I was particularly nervous. I'm actually not sure why I got no sleep. Somehow I made it through the whole wedding day craziness on adrenaline alone.

There are some things that remain seared on your memory; like everything that happened on the day the Peanut was born, my wedding day was one such event. The morning was a complete whirlwind. My parents' house was Hair and Makeup Central for myself, my mom, and my three bridesmaids. My mother, in her usual fashion, decided our hair stylist had done a crappy job, so with the limo minutes from arriving at the house to take us to the church, took a curling iron to her head to start over. I took a break from the photographer to run upstairs to tell her to get a move on, and when she took a good look at me in my dress and veil, she burst into tears.

My mom's hair crisis averted, we piled into the limo. The sun looked gorgeous on the trees, as well as, during the ceremony, pouring through the stained glass windows. My girls were perfection in their light purple silk Jackie O suits -- no stupid poofy bridesmaids dresses in this wedding! They walked into the church first, along with the groomsmen (Mr. Fraulein's brother and two friends). And then my dad and I came up the stairs and around the corner, to the beginning of the aisle.

And all our guests -- our family and friends -- STOOD UP, and the church lit up with flashing cameras. My dad and I took our walk to the altar, where Mr. Fraulein stood waiting, smiling at me.

An hour later, we were Mr. and Mrs. Fraulein, on our way to a massive party that included, among other things, several conga lines, many Ella Fitzgerald tunes, and the best dessert bar in the history of mankind. (People are still talking about it.) "This was the best party I've been to in 20 years," my Uncle Carmine said that night, giving me a hug. Like all the best celebrations, it was like a door opening, ushering in the beginning of something even bigger and better.

We've had four years of vacations and house buying, working and not working, cooking (mostly done by Mr. Fraulein!) and minor home renovations (also done by Mr. Fraulein). And laughing and crying and getting the hang of being parents to our Peanut.

Here's to 30 more years of celebrations to come!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Down the rabbit hole

So MSNBC thinks it's reasonable to debate whether the New York Times -- taking a rare break from its usual non-stop promotion of Bush's interests -- is guilty of treason for reporting on some secret government plan to covertly track people's financial activities in the hunt for "terrorists."

A "news" network is home to this debate, in America in 2006. Somewhere, Edward R. Murrow is weeping, and Joseph Stalin is grinning.

Harry Potter update

From the AP: J.K. Rowling says she's going to kill off two characters in the final Harry Potter book:

June 27,2006 LONDON -- Author J.K. Rowling said two characters will die in the last installment of her boy wizard series, and she hinted Harry Potter might not survive either...

..."I have never been tempted to kill him off before the final because I've always planned seven books, and I want to finish on seven books," Rowling said Monday on TV here.

..."The final chapter is hidden away, although it's now changed very slightly. One character got a reprieve. But I have to say two die that I didn't intend to die," she said. "A price has to be paid. We are dealing with pure evil here. They don't target extras do they? They go for the main characters. Well, I do."

I just know she's going to kill off Harry. The narrative arc of the story is moving in that direction. It's the only thing that makes sense, as I realized when I read the last book. Voldemort's going to die, I'm sure, but I suspect Harry's going with him.

To see Rowling hint at this possibility in an interview makes it more real. Now I'm going to be depressed for the rest of the day!

A conundrum

The Huggies diapers generally work as advertised from the time we do the Peanut's last diaper change of the evening, around 7:30 p.m., until she wakes up at 6:30 a.m. Yet during today's 45-minute drive to the day care near our respective offices, we suffered the dreaded Diaper Containment Failure. And not just a little leak -- her pants were completely soaked.

"She's all wet," Mr. Fraulein said, lifting her out of the car seat. "Did she spill juice in here? It can't be the diaper."

But yes, it was the diaper. Time to disassemble the car seat and throw the cover in the wash, yet again! It seems like we do this at least once a week, for one reason or another. My friend who's expecting twins at the moment has no idea what she's in for...

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Awesome blog titles

One of the things I love about being part of the Crazy Hip Blog Mamas webring is reading the list of blog titles each week, as new people add their blogs to the webring. It seems to be growing exponentially these days. I just wish I had more time to dive in and see what all these mamas are blogging about!

Some of the blogging mamas have obviously put a lot of thought into what to call their blogs. Here, in no particular order, are CHBM blog titles which I get a huge kick out of. One of these days I'll get around to actually reading them...

Mommy Needs a Martini

Send Chocolate


Crazy Ass Family

Crouching Mommy Hidden Laundry

From Hoochie to Mama

I Kick Ass for the Lord

Insert Expletive Here

Mother Scratcher (love the Raising Arizona reference!)

Step Away From the Barbies

Who Are These Kids?

Daddy's going braless today

One of the more amusing things about the Peanut's emerging language skills is the kind of questions she asks as she learns new words. Often as we're scrambling to get ready to leave the house in the morning, she will watch me getting dressed. Out of habit, I label everything for her so she learns the words.

"This is a bra," I say.

"Bra," she repeats, nodding her head. Then she points to her own chest and asks, "Bra?" Her meaning is clear as day from her inflection. Where is my bra, she wants to know. So I tell her that it will be a while yet before we go shopping for training bras.

Then we do a last-minute diaper change before we head out the door. She pulls out the collar of her daddy's shirt, peers in at his chest and asks, "Bra?" Cracks us up every time.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Peanut's Father's Day weekend

On Saturday afternoon we went to the zoo, inspired by visions of the baby gorilla who was to be on display. We knew that the Peanut, with her love of animals, would get a huge kick out of this. But we were somewhat lax in our usual no-liquids-right-before-car-rides policy. As a result, as soon as we pulled into the parking lot, our carsickness-prone Peanut vomited spectacularly all over the front of her shirt, creating a little puddle of fruit juice in her car seat. Ever prepared, we pulled out a spare T-shirt and shorts from her diaper bag. Mr. Fraulein crouched patiently in the stifling heat next to our screaming Peanut, who was standing beside the car, as he mopped up vomit, wiped off her face, and helped me dress her in clean clothes. Luckily, she fully recovered after this. Gorilla poop stink notwithstanding, she had a look of awe on her face as we watched the little baby gorilla romp around with the mommy and daddy gorillas.

Then on Sunday, we joined a crowd of our neighbors for a very loud brunch attended by kids ranging in age from 6 months to 6 years, followed by a trip outside to watch our town's annual Flag Day parade. The most anticipated feature of this parade is the candy toss. Nearly every float and public works vehicle held someone whose job it was to toss lollipops and Tootsie Rolls into the screaming crowd of kids. The Peanut didn't know from Tootsie Rolls, but she was all about the marching bands. She did her own marching in little circles on the sidewalk, accompanied by hip-shaking, dramatic arm movements, and clapping. Mr. Fraulein periodically lunged after her to keep her from running out into the street, and shielded her ears with his hands when the blank "shotgun blasts" went off.

Then, exhilarated and sticky with watermelon juice from brunch, the Peanut held her daddy's hand as we trooped in our own noisy parade back home for naptime.

'Three Guineas' quote of the day

Even when they meet privately and talk, as we have boasted, about ‘politics and people, war and peace, barbarism and civilization’, yet they evade and conceal. But it is so important to accustom ourselves to the duties of free speech, for without private there can be no public freedom, that we must try to uncover this fear and to face it. What then can be the nature of the fear that still makes concealment necessary between educated people and reduces our boasted freedom to a farce? ... Again there are three dots; again they represent a gulf—of silence this time, of silence inspired by fear. -- Virginia Woolf, Three Guineas

Mission accomplished

We slaughter their innocents at Haditha, then our soldiers sing a jaunty little tune about killing more of them. Then their militants slaughter our soldiers.

Heck of a job, Bushie.

Marines Corps investigates song about killing civilians

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A music video posted on the Internet that tells a tale about a U.S. Marine killing members of an Iraqi family is being condemned by an Islamic group and investigated by the Marine Corps.

The four-minute song, "Hadji Girl," appears to be sung by a Marine in front of a cheering audience. The lyrics talk about the Marine gunning down members of an Iraqi woman's family after they confront him with automatic weapons.

Lt. Col. Scott Fazekas, a spokesman for the Marines, said Tuesday that the Marines were aware of the video. Fazekas said officials don't know the identity of the singer or whether he is in the military.

The song was "inappropriate and contrary to the high standards expected of all Marines," Fazekas said. He said Marine officers are looking in to the matter.

Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said that in light of recent allegations of atrocities committed by Marines in Haditha and other towns in Iraq, the video should be investigated by the Pentagon and Congress.

"The inappropriate actions of a few individuals should not be allowed to tarnish the reputation of all American military personnel," said Awad.

The video was posted anonymously on the Web site, but was removed. It is still available on CAIR's web site, A hadji is a pilgrim who journeys to Mecca. CAIR said the word has been used as a disparaging term by U.S. troops in Iraq.

"The video is not reflective of the tremendous sacrifices and dedication demonstrated, on a daily basis, by tens of thousands of Marines who have assisted the Iraqi people in gaining their freedom," Fazekas said. "We agree with the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations that the inappropriate actions of a few individuals should not tarnish the reputation of all American military personnel."

The singer is shown playing a guitar and singing about meeting an Iraqi woman and then being confronted by her brother and father, who have guns. The lyrics describe the Marine pulling the woman's little sister in front of him and watching blood spray from her head.

He then sings about blowing the father and brother "to eternity."

Defense officials are investigating allegations that U.S. Marines massacred as many as two dozen unarmed civilians in Haditha last November. Another probe is under way into charges that U.S. troops pulled an unarmed Iraqi man from his home in Hamandiya in late April and shot him to death without provocation.

Bodies of Missing U.S. Soldiers Recovered
- - - - - - - - - - - -
By KIM GAMEL Associated Press Writer
June 20, 2006 BAGHDAD, Iraq -- The bodies of two U.S. soldiers reported captured last week have been recovered, and an Iraqi defense ministry official said Tuesday the men were "killed in a barbaric way." The U.S. military said the remains were believed to be those of Pfc. Kristian Menchaca, 23, of Houston, and Pfc. Thomas L. Tucker, 25, of Madras, Ore.

Maj. Gen. William Caldwell said U.S. forces -- part of a search involving some 8,000 American and Iraqi troops -- found the bodies late Monday near Youssifiyah, where they disappeared Friday. The bodies were recovered early Tuesday.

Caldwell said the cause of death was "undeterminable at this point," and that the bodies would be taken back to the United States for DNA tests to confirm the identities.

Al-Qaida in Iraq claimed responsibility for killing the soldiers, and said the successor to slain terror leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had "slaughtered" them, according to a Web statement that could not be authenticated. The language in the statement suggested the men had been beheaded.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Friday lit. blogging: special Bloomsday edition

Today is June 16, the day on which James Joyce's Ulysses takes place. I wonder if anybody reads Ulysses anymore? It's a daunting read, and very time consuming to get through the whole thing, but certain parts are pure gold. It's classic modernist fun--quite different in scope and feeling and tone from Woolf's works, but still steeped in the modernist credo: describing life as it really is.

Oh, to be in Dublin downing a pint of Guiness right now...

Woodshadows floated silently by through the morning peace from the stairhead seaward where he gazed. Inshore and farther out the mirror of water whitened, spurned by lightshod hurrying feet. White breast of the dim sea. The twining stresses, two by two. A hand plucking the harpstrings, merging their twining chords. Wavewhite wedded words shimmering on the dim tide.

A cloud began to cover the sun slowly, wholly, shadowing the bay in deeper green. It lay beneath him, a bowl of bitter waters. Fergus’ song: I sang it alone in the house, holding down the long dark chords. Her door was open: she wanted to hear my music. Silent with awe and pity I went to her bedside. She was crying in her wretched bed. For those words, Stephen: love’s bitter mystery.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Starving babies; "flashy self-made millionaires"

Here's the lead story on (subscription only) today:

Starving season

World hunger is by far the worst crisis humanity faces, and it's getting worse --especially in Africa. Until the West overcomes its apathy and works toward long-term solutions, millions of people -- many of them children -- will continue to die unnecessarily.

By Samuel Loewenberg

June 13, 2006 In a dust-blown clinic on the southern edge of the Sahara desert, scores of women crowd into a bunkerlike structure, clutching children with emaciated limbs and listless eyes. They have come to have their babies weighed. It is a tradition known to every parent. Here, the tradition has become a nightmare.

The medical staff take an infant named Bintow from the arms of his mother and place him in a black harness attached to a hand-held scale. He shrieks at the sudden discomfort, thrashing his arms and legs. His stomach bulges, all of his ribs are visible. The child is 10 months old. He weighs 9 pounds.

Bintow is lucky, as far as it goes. He is so badly underweight that he will receive an emergency ration: two weeks' worth of enriched cornmeal and oil. Only a third of the estimated 200 children at the center that day will receive care. There is simply not enough to go around.

And here's a couple of recent stories from the Boston Globe (I can't provide links because of the signup firewall) which cannot stop kissing the asses of the obscenely wealthy:


It happens all the time. A couple buys an estate-size home with multiple rooms and lavish amenities. Two-story fireplaces. Palatial entryways with formal staircases. Soaring coffered ceilings. Arched floor-to-ceiling windows.. First they're thrilled, says Sheri Edsall, a Needham interior designer. Then "they're panic-stricken. They can't deal with that much house." But many Boston-area residents are learning to deal with it.

The New Rich

Bye-bye Brahmins. Flashy self-made millionaires are taking over Boston.

Imagine if we had some journalists at the Globe, instead of a bunch of Republican National Committee functionaries who only think rich people matter?

Friday, June 09, 2006

So nice that it wasn't lice

The Drama of the Day for yesterday occurred when my babysitter brought the Peanut over to me and said, "Look at this. I think these are lice eggs in her hair."

Needless to say, this was far from welcome news. I have no idea what lice eggs look like, so to me it just looked like lint. But I thought, well, maybe she picked something up at the day care center, so I called them to ask about it. This set off a panic: "We haven't seen that in 10 years! You have to bring her to the doctor! Don't bring her back in until you confirm she doesn't have it!"

So that was the end of my normally peaceful work-at-home day. I started stripping off bedding, vacuuming, and preparing to sterilize the teddy bears by running them through the dryer. But luckily, the pediatrician confirmed it was a false alarm -- just some kind of food particles in the Peanut's hair.

As much of a pain as this was, we learned what to look for. If you see tiny white particles in the hair near the back of the neck and behind the ears, and they don't come off when you try to comb them out, that's probably lice.

We're thankful that the worst thing to emerge from this episode is that now the Peanut has learned the word "lice," and is running around yelling it at the top of her lungs. ("LICE! LICE! LICE!") Annoying, but not as annoying as having to disinfect the entire house.

Dreaming of size 10 pants

So even though the Peanut is 20 months old now, I still haven't lost the post-pregnancy weight. This is partly because I love to eat, and being pregnant was an excuse to wolf down things like macaroni and cheese, which I have now developed an excessive fondness for. It's also partly because I'm lazy. I've never been the exercising type.

Now I have 20 pounds to lose and I'm developing back problems because the extra weight is making it difficult for me to haul around a 27-pound toddler. When I got pregnant, I was 10 pounds above my fairly tolerable weight at my wedding. I've never been thin, but I was reasonably close when I got married. Now, post-baby, with an additional 10 pounds on top of the 10 pounds I gained after the wedding, my pre-pregnancy clothes are, for the most part, sitting in the closet mocking me. I have a few pairs of size 10 pants that I can squeeze into, but they're big 10s. Mostly now I need 12s, and this depresses me. It just seems too big for a short person like myself.

I have nothing to wear to work (thank God my office is pretty casual!) yet buying a new, size 12 work wardrobe seems too defeatist. So I'm trying to watch my diet and get some kind of exercise and/or stretching in every day. I have a couple of yoga DVDs by this guy, who is quite the character. He is all about the inner peace and the tranquility and the centering, and of course the flattering camera angles that show off his abs and his ponytail. I do find the routines helpful with my back and leg pain, but it's hard to get through one without laughing, particularly when he says "groins," as in, "You'll feel this stretch in your groins." I always thought I only had one groin, but who knows.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Look, over there! Gay people! AIIIGGGHHH!!

I just have one question: do you think that any of the Republican half-wits pushing this Defense of Marriage Amendment or We Hate all the Gay People Amendment or Ewww--Gays! Amendment or whatever they're calling it these days, have ever actually MET any gay people? If the lesbian couple across the way in my condo complex get married (and for all I know they already have) the Republicans tell me this endangers my heterosexual marriage.

How is that exactly? I want specifics. Will I or my husband suddenly turn gay? Can we catch The Gay from the municipal water system? Should we avoid public toilets? If we do come down with The Gay, is there an over-the-counter medicine we can take for that?

Why are people so scared of other people's loving relationships? It makes my head hurt just to think about this.

Your Republican party

"I have never seen people enjoying their husbands' deaths so much." -- Ann Coulter on the 9/11 widows

Want to know what the difference is between Ann Coulter and John McCain and Arnold Schwarzenegger and Rudy Giuliani and George W. Bush?

There isn't any. This is the Republican party. All for one, one for all, and all nuts, all the time.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Random thoughts

It's hot and muggy and rainy here in eastern Massachusetts today, which always tends to make me cranky. I can't stand it when it's humid.

I can't believe it's been a week since I've posted anything. The time always goes too fast, and it seems there's never enough time for the things we want to do (reading, seeing friends, going out to dinner, even doing little home improvement projects) because the basic mechanics of life take so much time and energy. Once the Peanut is fed and bathed and has had her fill of storytime, we finally get her to sleep and just want to collapse in bed ourselves.

Another thing I can't believe is that in four months she will turn 2. Where did that time go? Lately I've been collecting things to give to an officemate who is expecting twins, and it makes me think back to the Peanut's newborn days. Digging out the Boppy pillow from the basement to add to the pile, I recalled my short-lived attempt at nursing and the odd limbo that followed, as I pumped milk for 10 weeks after it became clear that the Peanut was having none of this "latching on" thing. I would sit in the rocking chair in our bedroom holding a suction cup to each breast, thinking about how silly I must have looked.

Luckily the Peanut has been quite healthy so far, even though she only got a tiny amount of breast milk, so there you go.

With her birthday coming up, I'm already starting to think about party planning. Anyone have any thoughts on good birthday party themes for toddlers? The child guests will range from roughly the Peanut's age to about 6. Any ideas are welcome.