You Got the Bronze

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

handsome devil

When most people ask if Declan is a good baby, what they are really asking is - does he sleep?

I can answer honestly and wholeheartedly that is he is a good baby, a great baby. An easygoing, funloving, smiley, happy sweet baby that on the best of nights grants us a solid, five hour stretch - while we are largely awake. So good baby? Yes. Sleep much? Hell to the no.

(I would be remiss if I didn't state here that apparently D, extraordinarily gifted, has read this post (written yesterday at the apex of sleep deprivation and sugar crashdom) and purposely slept from 1:30 to 6:30 this morning. Fool.)

What we need to focus on here is what, exactly, is meant by "sleeping through the night?"

When pediatricians and baby guides say baby is sleeping through the night, they typically mean 5 hour stretches at a time. Now, if your own doctor asked how well you were sleeping and you replied with a "well, uh, on average I get about 5 hours. Mostly in 1.5 hour increments but on good nights 5 hours all the way through!" he or she would doodle CRAZEE on their notepad, cluck their tongue, and write you a scrip for 6 month supply of Ambien. Because an average of five hours of sleep a night over an extended period of time - unless you are Tom Cruise - can turn an ordinarily sane person into an actual undead zombie, minus the dripping flesh if you discount the elephant pouch that was formerly my stomach.

So what I take from this is that we are being asked to set the bar very, very low.

Declan is working back up to five hour stretches of sleep. I am going to sleep earlier and earlier despite the mountains of work, that novel I'd like to read, that husband I'd like to talk to, turning "sleep when the baby sleeps" into a desperate attempt to scrap together little nuggets of sleep that will hopefully make functioning at 6:30 more manageable. Fortunately I married my own Tom Cruise (minus the manic, big eyed, batshit crazy) and he has saved my life on more than one morning by getting up with Harlow so I can try to cobble together a few more minutes of sleep.

To quote Harlow who has turned her entire life into a race, for the moment, I got the bronze. When we race to the car to the door to the toilet to bed she gets the gold. Daddy is typically silver. Mommy gets the bronze! she crows. I try to insist that it's not a race but if it is, bronze is okay because it's not really about winning. And she looks at me like, WhatEVER, loser. Bronze.

So today I got the Bronze. But maybe in a 5 hours, I'll get the gold. Here's hoping.

The Unintentional Nursing Dress

Monday, August 29, 2011

I have a love/hate relationship with breastfeeding.

I love being able to feed my baby (and love the gazillion calories it burns while doing so), to comfort him in a way that is unique to me, and I love the warm, fuzzy we share from all that oxytocin flooding the system.

One of the things that I hate is attempting to feed the baby in public, particularly in a shirt or outfit that isn't easily accessible for nursing. Not that I often wear clothes that aren't nursing-friendly as I am concerned my child has confused eating with breathing. So I find myself gazing longingly at my closet full of dresses that I won't be able to wear until sometime in 2012, the halter necks, the long-sleeved ones, the fitted ones, essentially any that don't have a hidden, plastic snap or an awkward cutout to free up a boob. You'd think with every celebrity popping out a baby, somebody (Heidi Klum, I'm looking at you) would have come up with a seriously cute, affordable line of nursing dresses - and here is the big catch - that don't look like nursing dresses. If I am going to invest upwards of $70 on a dress, I want to be able to wear it beyond the year or so that I will be nursing in it. I don't want it to be a cheap rayon or polyester. Yes, I know it washes out well in the machine, that's half the battle, right? But I don't want to look so... cheap.

So my solution? The unintentional nursing dress. Hopefully the first in a series. Even better, the precursor to its own website. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Today's selection:

The little green dress from Urban Outfitters

nursing dress

Yes, the irony is not lost on me that the first place I scored an UND was the mecca of super hipster anti-babyness Urban Outfitters. And the dress is not without its faults. But first, the pros:


It's comfortable and super cute, coming in three different colors.
The dress opens in the front via four brass snaps which makes for easy boob access.
It's made of linen so it is machine washable.
It has pockets! Mine are filled with passies, wipes and a lipstick that helps me ignore the passies and the wipes.
Cost - $59. Not super expensive but not Target-cheap, so I feel good knowing this is a dress that I can and would wear long after nursing


The snaps require you to use both hands to refasten, and if you are by yourself and cannot briefly put down or handoff the baby to cover up, this could get tricky. Or make you very popular, depending on where you are.

It's made of linen which means that if you don't snag it from the dryer immediately, this sucker needs to be ironed. Or should be. You just need to remember where you stowed that iron. Leaks are also hard to hide as linen is a very thirsty material.

The back of the dress has a bra-like strap that is fastened with a snap, highlighting a cut-out section that reveals the small of the back. Kinda sexy, great for summer, but kinda impossible to wear with a nursing bra, which may be a deal-breaker for the larger of the mama-llamas out there. Or those whose nipples are so raw they might set fire to the dress upon contact. I have worn the dress with and without a bra, and found it to be fine either way, but big boobied buyer beware.

*belt in photos not available with the dress

How to Raise an Interesting Child

Friday, August 26, 2011

I think there is a naturally tendency after having a baby to hunker down a bit, to rest, or take stock of the damage, or to just get a bit hermitlike as the hormones run roughshod. Have you seen me lately? I'm the adorable Ted kaczynski, with not as much hair. People, I have lost so much hair in the past two months from post-preggo shedding that I have to keep a bag in my car to deal with the mess. My trash cans are full of it, as are my baby's fists. But in this self-imposed exile, a gift. I have been writing. A lot.

Or maybe staring at a blank page and thinking about it a lot. But from the moment I wake until I go to sleep, my stories are staring me in the face. They are Glenn Close from Fatal Attraction and they will not. be ignored.

The only way I can explain it is that I gave birth to my second and last child and the REST OF MY LIFE suddenly loomed large in front of me. I am writing like my life depends on it, and depending how much sleep I got the night before, I think it just might.

For several years now I have been kicking around the idea of a parenting story, one that focused specifically on the first amazing, terrible, life changing first year that a couple becomes parents for the first time. And whlie the title is always flucuating, I'm calling it How to Raise an Interesting Child. One, because I think it's catchy and sounds like a quirky parenting manual, and 2) because the story is as much the birth of two people into parents as it is the birth of a child.

Because in a former life I was a screenwriter, the story has always been intensely visual, and I thought the topic would be excellent fodder for a movie. But here was the dilemma for me: that first year of parenting is so jarring and disorienting by its long, drawn out grind. The sleep deprivation. The constant near-panic over the exotic sounds, smells of this new baby, the enormous shift in identity that occurs as husband and wife become father and mother and all the existential flotsam and jetsam that crowd a day already jammed with the task of shaping a human being. Heady stuff, but not exactly compelling to watch for two hours on a screen.

And then I happened onto what I thought would be an elegant solution. The graphic novel.

Here was a way to crack open the brains of my characters and show them as they thrill and despair in their day to day challenge as new parents. I could tell the story with a traditional narrative framework but also throw in some really crazy shit. Her anxiety fueled nightmares. His comic book within a comic book. Twitter feeds. A poo chart. A DETACHABLE poo chart. It's been exciting to write, and as I am nearing completion of the first draft, the other essential part of the equation has come into play.

The artwork.

I can't draw. But I found Kayla Cline, an enormously gifted artist who can. Her work reminds me of Craig Thompson's Blankets, one of my favorite graphic novels, and a really beautiful meditation on falling in love for the first time.

So I can't begin to tell you how excited I am to share a sneak peek into the book. Here's a rough sketch of Sam and Jesse Miller, the heroes (and sometime villains) of How to Raise an Interesting Child. Voila!!


4 1/2ish months

Friday, August 19, 2011


Is it me or has this summer just seemed like a giant, hazy time suck?

I swear it's like I just woke up with a 4 1/2 month old.

And a really, really cute one to boot.

We have milestones! Declan rolled over for the first time Friday AND sampled some oatmeal. Maybe I'll see if I can get him to rollover into some oatmeal to encourage him to eat more of it. The poor thing has enough gas to power a zeppelin and eats like a linebacker (did I mention the child has grown six inches since his debut??), so his baby doc thought it might be time to try some food. He couldn't get enough. And then spit it out every time since. I guess he checked out his sister's oatmeal all tricked out with brown sugar and blackberries and rightfully went on strike.

first feeding

The first feeding!

Man from Mars

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Selby - Tom Wolfe

Any of you catch that Fresh Air interview with Tom Wolfe the other day? The topic was Ken Kesey and the Magic Trip, the documentary that explores the now mythic road trip undertaken by Kesey, Neal Cassidy, and the Merry Band of Pranksters who dropped acid by way of breathing.

Terry Gross asked Tom Wolfe about his look, you know - the now iconic three piece suit -* and he told her a story about being a man from Mars.

He was working on a story about stock car races, and to fit in, he described what he felt was his casual green suit, matched with brown suede shoes and hat. After about two weeks of following around his subject, Junior, at the races, Junior politely informed Wolfe that his friends kept asking about the "little green man" who kept following him around. He realized his folly in that moment, that in trying so hard to fit in, he was missing the real story. There were details about the races he had been dying to know, but an insider wouldn't ask such questions...and wouldn't get much of a story.

So he decided right there to adopt his uniform and be the little green man, the man from Mars who is unafraid of asking whatever questions need to be asked in order to get to the heart of the matter.

As I heard him tell it, I remembered hearing this story in my freshman writing class, and while it serves as great advice for fiction writers, I think it's a good life lesson in general.

How often do we nod, say yes we have seen that movie/read that article/heard that joke /did in fact know that it was my turn to the dishes and just haven't when you have no frickin clue?

I am going to work on being a man from Mars this week. Anyone else unafraid to just pipe up and say I don't know?

* on a trip to NYC with my mom, she and I walked down 5th Avenue and passed none other than Mr. Wolfe in an elegant three piece suit. I don't think I could have been more excited than if Lady Liberty herself had pulled up her moorings and come over to shake hands.

photo of Tom Wolfe by The Selby


I'm here. I'm so freakin here I am about to explode out of this stupid blogger window with how much I need to vent and talk and really, really overshare.

I am an open book.

It's why I blog.

Things happen to me, I come here.

But things are happening in my life right now that are truly fucked up and awful and I just can't talk about it now. I hope to at a later date. But it's not just me who is having a shitty run of things right now, and it's out of respect for them that I need to stay quiet on this subject.

I will be back shortly. I will be taking deep breaths, long walks, and looking forward to returning to regularly scheduled programming.


Sunday, August 14, 2011


Goodbye, last day of summer.

Home again home again

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


I don't know why I thought this year would be different.

Last summer, the trip to Colorado was a mostly stressful affair, chasing after a 4, 3 and 2 year old who woke at dawn and fought for the duration of the daytime hours. My sister and I returned home frazzled and exhausted, jealous of our working husbands who seemed to have the real vacation with no children or bitching wives to deal with.


You just don't turn down the opportunity to spend a week in mountainous paradise when walking outside in Memphis is like stepping into a punch to the face. Just reading the weather channel's prediction that the nightly lows would be in the 40s was enough to disregard any stress that the kiddos - now with more kiddos - could bring.

And it was broughten.

The tears, the fights, the nursing around the clock. D's frequent meltdowns in public due to his trouble adjusting to altitude (or perhaps my insistence on scarfing chocolate and local beers). But my mind keeps casting back to a dinner we ate on the patio, when a light rain started to fall, the pizza was hot on my tongue, and the temperature read 58 degrees.

58 degrees. The air temperature in my heaven.

It is decidedly not heaven at home, now that our A/C unit is out and, genius that I am, got the wild hair to try and broil some mangoes and turned our downstairs into somewhere slightly south of the equator. At least upstairs has air - and the bed I'm hoping I'm allowed to sleep in. I'm sorry!


Monday, August 1, 2011


So I kinda disappeared there last week, didn't I? Just more time for you to stare at my rockin blowout.

I wrote a short film last year, The Department of Signs and Magical Intervention. "Short" clocked in at a meaty 36 pages and while that's a mere haiku for me (to quote a writing professor: Melissa, can you challenge yourself to just write something simply? - it's just not gonna fly as a beginner's foray into filmmaking. Even though my dream is to shoot this sucker in Memphis and take it on the festival route, I decided to enter it into a contest where the winning scripts are produced for you, and right now, just having someone put my wet clothes into the drier makes life seem more manageable, so I'm down with turning the film over into capable, baby-less hands.

If I win.

In order to win, I had to cut about 15 pages, a process of brutal slash and burn that took about a week of hairpulling to do, on top of tending said babies, running the photo biz and occasionally brushing my teeth.

But the script has been submitted, and to celebrate, I flew across the country with a 5 year old, a 4 year old, a 3 year old and a 3 month old that screeches for my boob like a pterodactyl with a bullhorn strapped to its beak.

That's right. I'm officially on vacation which means Baby D had his inaugural flight. No meltdowns, just the happy, very loud screeching and of course, what flight would be complete without the inaugural baby boy diaper blowout? After squeezing myself into the toilet to change him, I looked down at my sweet little man who was grinned up at me from the toilet where he was propped, not seeming to care his lower half was covered in slimy poop. I cared, especially since I forgot to bring a change of clothes for the kiddo.

Thought I was past these rookie mistakes.

Anyhow, I have a week to recover. I'll be checking in periodically to share with you just how amazing life can feel with 20% humidity.