Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Blog Tired

So. Very. Sleepy.

I haven't slept enough recently. (Ha. Do any parents sleep enough?) I have a hard time falling back asleep after pumping in the morning, so I'm often up earlier on the weekends than I'd like. I try to go to bed at a reasonable hour, but blew it bad this weekend. I never really caught up, and was up too late last night.

I've been running on fumes yesterday and today, and I just came this close to falling asleep in the middle of a sentence. I was the one speaking. To others. Yikes.

My mistake? Girl scout cookies. A former colleague hooked me up, and I couldn't resist breaking into the Samoas. I ate three. Caught a sugar buzz. Went into a meeting. Hit the wall. HARD.

I'm so tired, I might bow out of the State of the Union drinking game tonight. (What am I talking about? Aunt Bob would never allow it.) We play a different version than this, but you get the general idea. My first year on the Hill I got the extra office ticket and was actually able to attend the address, in the chamber. Very cool. Since then, an Asian woman in a blue suit merits a "finish your beer" in our version of the game. We now have Doris Matsui and Elaine Chao to watch for, so here's hoping one of you ladies choose blue tonight!

A few weeks ago, I was so tired I fell asleep at a red light. It was just for a millisecond, but it scared the bejezus out of me. If you're in the DC area and about to head home, beware the napping woman in a green Honda Civic. Honk if you like.

Monday, January 30, 2006

I Look Like Kim Jong Il

Is that a bad thing?

The Post ran a story about MyHeritage.com, a website that will match your face to its celebrity database.

It matched me to the following people:
  • Zhang Ziyi - 67% (really? sweet! that's very nice of you, My Heritage)
  • Ninet Tayeb - 67% (I don't know who that is, but she's kinda cute. Her nose is much bigger than mine, though)
  • Jennifer Connelly - 65% (not even close, but that's still a nice compliment. She was actually at Yale when I was, in my residential college. I didn't know her, but saw her in the dining hall from time to time)
  • Norodom Sihamoni - 61% (once again, showing my ignorance, don't know who that is, but I'm sure as hell gonna google him now. He seems to be some old Asian guy)
  • Jason Donovan - 59% (now that's gotta be a glitch in the progam. There's no way I look like some blond guy with movie star teeth)
  • Amrita Rao - 57% (um, no, I really don't look like her. Sorry, My Heritage)
  • Lucy Liu - 55% (you're just saying that because I'm Asian. I am not crosseyed, nor am I that weird-looking.)
  • Sigourney Weaver - 54% (not a chance)
  • Alyson Hannigan - 53% (not so much)
  • Kim Jong Il - 52% (now that's just mean)

Lumpyhead looks like these people:
  • Ayumi Hamasaki - 62%
  • Johan Strauss I - 59%
  • Agam Rudberg - 58%
  • Iris Chang - 54%
  • Henry Morton Stanley - 52%
  • Tom Cruise - 51%
  • Jane Goodall - 48%
  • Wilbur Wright - 45% (oh, comon, Orville was the hot one)
  • Steven Morrissey - 45%
  • Pierluigi Collina - 45%

Lumpyhead, try 2:
  • Michael Jackson (the young, black version) - 69%
  • Charlie Chaplin - 60%
  • Bette Davis - 60%
  • Renata Tebaldi - 56%
  • Tori Amos - 54%
  • Ayumi Hamasaki - 49% (okay, okay, I'm starting to see that one)
  • Madhuri Dixit - 46%
  • Lauren Becall - 46%
  • Beyonce Knowles - 42%
  • Jeff Beck - 42%

I recommend you try it with your own face. Do not, however, go to MyHeritage.org. That is a very, very scary place indeed.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

The Magic Moment at Eight Months

Bump’s sister Amy said that when each of her kids reached eight months, things seemed to click. She finally felt like she knew what she was doing, and she and her new child had settled into a routine.

Lumpyhead will be eight months old on Tuesday, and I wish I could say I knew what she was talking about. Unless things drastically change in the next two days, I am just as clueless as the day they plunked that screaming mess of arms and legs on my chest.

If anything, Lumpyhead was easier those first few months. I can count on one hand the number of times he cried. He would whimper when he was hungry, and the whimpers would stop instantly when he was fed. He produced wet and dirty diapers in a regular pattern. By eleven weeks, he was sleeping through the night.

Since then, I don’t know what the hell happened. For awhile, he would sleep “through the night,” except it wasn’t at night. He would go down at 4AM and sleep for a solid ten hours. He went through a period of a twenty-five hour day, where his long chunk of sleep would progressively move later. We figured if we held out, he would eventually work his way around to a sensible bedtime. Yeah, that never occurred.

He held a 2AM to noon sleep schedule for a period, which wasn’t too bad. It meant Bump didn’t have much of a morning, but it also meant that his day wasn’t too long before I came home to help him out. I also didn’t have to race home at the end of the day to catch the baby awake; I would go to sleep before the baby did. We realized it was pretty much Bump’s college schedule anyway, and since Lumpyhead didn’t have to be up for daycare or school, we decided it was workable. It was also predictable, until, of course, it changed.

Last night Lumpyhead woke up every two hours, and didn’t go down for the first chunk of sleep until after 3AM. On January 1st and 2nd, he slept for ten hours in a row, uninterrupted, beginning around 11PM. A couple of nights ago he slept for two five-hour stretches, with an hour and a half of playtime in between. There’s just no telling what he’s gonna do.

Naps are just as unpredictable. He’ll show signs of sleepiness, then nap for twenty minutes or three hours.

Maybe it’s an expectation thing. Those first months, we knew things would be crazy, so we just rolled with it. We were both home, too, which made everything easier. By now, we expect the boy to have some kind of routine, which he just doesn’t have.

We’ve tried altering his schedule with no luck. When he’s sleepy, there’s no keeping Lumpyhead awake. I have pictures of him asleep in his highchair - he literally fell asleep between bites. Once he fell asleep on Bump’s leg - he was sitting on his lap, playing, when he got tired, put his head down, and conked out.

We should probably be better about Ferberizing him, but neither of us can stand to hear him cry. Yes, he needs to learn to put himself to sleep, but why does he need to learn that now? Shouldn’t he be learning that when he’s upset, we’ll run to comfort him?

Because Bump and I are softies, we’re at the baby’s mercy. I just wish he’d pick a pattern and stick with it.

Food is equally baffling with the boy. Lumpyhead’s never really been a nurser. He didn’t latch well and took an eternity to eat, so we would both end up wet and sticky during our boob wrestling sessions. I’m sure I’ll do a post soon about what a drag pumping is, but I’ll save that grousing until then.

When we started rice cereal in October, he did great. He would lap up as much as we would dish out, as fast as we could shovel it in. Oat cereal went well, too. He hated our homemade strained peas, but store-bought green beans were a hit.

He would get one meal of solids a day, but then I don’t know what happened. The holidays? Travel to Maine? Now, he can’t be convinced to open his mouth for more than two bites of anything. Apples? Peaches? They all suck. Pears might be tolerated, but only if they’re cold. And only sometimes. Cereal is for sissies. His little mouth stays tightly closed, even when he smiles at me holding his spoon.

Oh, and the pooping. He hasn’t had a poop since the days of the play-doh extruder. His little tummy seems distended on one side, and he’s grunting a lot. He might be constipated, he might not be. The last time we called the doctor, they told us to wait at least a week before we started worrying. It still makes us nervous.

So, the baby’s jobs are eating, pooping, and sleeping, none of which he does in a predictable fashion. Maybe what Amy means is that by eight months, you become accustomed to chaos.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Spanks for the MIMories

MIM had a recent post on spanking, sparking some comment debate which seemed a bit one-sided to me. Don't people "believe" or "not believe" in spanking? It seems like a question of faith to me, rather than a real issue for discussion or persuasion.

My parents were spankers. My brother got the short end of that stick, so to speak, more so than me; I was probably spanked once or twice in my life.

My father was the one who dished out the spankings. He never spanked in anger, and always cried harder than my brother did when giving a "lickin'." My brother was always warned when his behavior would produce a spanking, and given ample opportunity to stop said behavior. If the behavior continued, the threat was followed by the actual spanking, usually fifteen minutes or so after the decree went out, so my dad would ensure he wasn't angry. My brother would be sent to sit on his "naughty seat" when he was small and on the basement couch when he was older to await his sentence. Today, my brother claims the wait was always worse than the actual spanking.

My parents swear that spanking works. After being spanked, my brother's behavior would improve. But my father used to implore my brother not to make him spank him. He would ask why it took the spanking for my brother to "shape up."

They claim I never really "needed" spanking, which is good, I guess. I think what they mean is that I was never so willfully disobedient as to defy them after they laid down the law.

My parents were taught "spare the rod, spoil the child," so see the failure to spank as a sin. My father hated it, though, and I think his attitude toward it made it an effective discipline tool. If it's possible to spank in the right way, I think they accomplished it.

I won't spank Lumpyhead, but I think their discpline structure is a valid one: state the behavior is unacceptable, warn that punishment will follow if the behavior continues, then consistently follow through with the punishment. Lumpyhead will just be subjected to something other than a thwack on the heinie - maybe we'll get a Cher or a Celine Dion album for this purpose? Or would a spanking actually be more humane?


When my parents were visiting last week, we were playing with Patrick (Aunt Bob's three-year-old). He dropped something under the couch, and I was on all fours trying to retrieve it for him. Because I was in the spanking (spankee?) pose, my mother asked Patrick if I needed a lickin'. She encouraged him to give me one.

So he licked my sleeve.

I love that kid.

Friday, January 27, 2006

In a Nutshell

I always look for these on other blogs, so here goes:

My son is nearly eight months old. His head is lumpy. He's very cute.

I'm the career half of a one-earner family; my husband is a full-time dad.

Having a stay-home spouse is terrific. It means I never worry about the quality of care my son is receiving, and I don't have to deal with late pickup charges or juggle dropoff responsibilities. It is very expensive.

I'm not opposed to daycare. I think daycare is a great way for kids to develop social skills early and learn about sharing, especially if they don't have siblings. It just isn't the choice my family is making. For now, anyway.

I work on Capitol Hill, and live in the Washington, DC area.

I work for the House of Representatives and live in Arlington, Virginia - to be exact.

My commute is about 9 miles one-way, and takes from twenty minutes to an hour and a half, depending on traffic. Average is about thirty minutes. I listen to NPR during the drive.

My best friend also works on the Hill - on the Senate side - and shares "breadwinner" status. She is a bad liar but a good bullshitter. Her son is almost three, and I love him like my own.

I'm Korean.

My parents are Dutch.

I'm adopted. ("ooooh. . . " is the usual response. Not ooooh rhymes with chew as in "cool, neato"; but enlongated "oh" rhymes with blow as in "that explains why you don't look like them.")

So I guess I'm Dutch, too.

I grew up in a very small town in southwestern Minnesota. My parents still live there, in the house I where I was raised. Almost all of my extended family lives in Minnesota.

I love beer, games of chance, wagers, tequila, popcorn, and my husband's cooking.

I enjoy games of skill or strategy, poker, golf even though I suck at it, vodka martinis, and corn dogs.

I could live without dessert, but not potato chips.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


Yesterday, the doctor's office recommended "Butt Paste" - a salve of equal parts hydrocortisone, neosporin and lamisil - for Lumpyhead's diaper rash. Bump was more than a little unnerved that two of the three ingredients for Butt Paste have warnings on their packaging that they're not to be used on diaper rash.

While mixing it, Bump declared that it looked more like frosting than paste - so we snickered over "buttercream." Because, com'on, buttercream is funny.

The ass icing is working wonders, and Lumpyhead doesn't even demand the kitchen sink bidet any more, he'll tolerate a wipe. He no longer looks like he's suffering from a very strange venereal disease, and his mood is much improved.

Plus, he's no longer pooping every fifteen minutes, so that's good. My parents leave tomorrow, and I'll be back at work, so Bump will be back on his own. I think he's looking forward to having all of us out of the house so he can have Lumpyhead all to himself again.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

How Do You Know? Parenting Is Such a Crapshoot (Crap Chute?)

Lumpyhead's poop schedule has been a little erratic. Actually, a lot erratic. Bump and I laughed a lot at Lumpyhead's expense during those first few months, when his face would get really red and he'd grunt like some kind of weight lifter to push out the tiniest of poops. "Who does Number 2 work for?" we'd stage shout him, cracking ourselves up every time. I recognize that it's not as funny as Bump and I thought it was, but it still makes me smirk.

Lumpyhead would have a poop or two a day, then go for as much as a week without a dump. We called the pediatrician, who told us to wait it out. Sometimes the bowel droughts would coincide with diet changes, other times not. Eventually Lumpyhead would unload, filling his pants faithfully at every diaper change for a day or two.

Probably around early December, Lumpyhead's diapers started getting a poop smear twice per day or so. Bump and I were sure he was constipated. Sometimes when he was clearly working on something, he would cry. After another call to the pediatrician and some prune juice, Lumpyhead produced a runny poop smear, and Bump and I decided we had gotten all worked up over nothing.

We fretted over the small amount of poop Lumpyhead was producing. "Surely he can't be that efficient at using his food." "He made more poop when he was smaller." "Should we call the doctor again? They probably already think we're nuts - 'the Obsessive Poop Parents are calling again'. . ." He was regular, just not very productive.

Until Saturday.

I have no idea where he's been keeping it. Bump and I had a serious discussion about whether on not he could have shit his own weight by now. Bump is certain Lumpyhead's poop volume has not exceeded the weight of his head, but I think he's gotta be approaching his own mass. It's like watching one of those play-doh extruders with an endless supply of sticky green clay. Stinky green sticky clay.

Predictably, Lumpyhead has developed one hell of a diaper rash. It makes me cringe just to look at it. He screams when we take a wipe to him, so we've resorted to hosing him off in the sink at every diaper change.

Bright side? Bump's not home alone with Lumpyhead while all this is going on. I'm here until Thursday, and my mom's been helping. While he's being hosed down, Lumpyhead looks quizzically between his legs and watches the water run over his unit. My mother finds this hysterical, and has warned that she might wet herself watching the little guy take in all his kitchen sink sprayer bidet action.

Still, the diaper rash looks nasty, so we might bring him into the doctor today. The A&D ointment from Aunt Bob doesn't seem to be doing much against the constant fecal onslaught, and Lumpyhead might be running a low-grade fever. I feel so bad for him - the horrific diaper rash, the constant crapping, the teeth. . .

Oh yes, the teeth. I forgot. His first teeth are finally breaking through. Finally, at 7 1/2 months. I felt them for the first time a week ago Saturday, and now his little pearlies are clearly visible on the bottom. I think the tops are not far away, but what the hell do I know? I let my kid go virtually poopless for two months without intervention.

Sunday, January 22, 2006


On Thursday, we loaded up Lumpyhead and the parents and went to the zoo. I'm a little ambivalent about the zoo; it always feels like animal prison to me, even though I recognize all the good zoos do with regard to animal protection and species preservation. I find the primates particularly unnerving. The silverback gorilla was hungry, and would move from door to door, waiting for the staff to feed him. He sat in a crouch, resting his chin on his hand. I looked around, and noticed two of the other people watching the gorilla were also in a crouch, chin on hand. It was spooky, the people watching the gorilla and the gorilla watching the people in the same position.

Highlights of the day (other than being creeped out by our animal cousins):
Lunch at Zoo Bar. What a dive, in a good way.

Street parking. We found a spot on Connecticut Avenue, so saved the $12 parking fee in the zoo lots. woo hoo!

Tai Shan (aka Butterstick). Yes, everything the baby panda does is cute. He walks cute, he sits cute, he eats cute - he probably even poops cute.

A Glimpse at Our Future. We put Lumpyhead in the bear outfit he received from Aunt Shelly for Christmas, and on the way to the panda exhibit, a woman said, "Look honey, that lady has a bear, too!" Her son, who couldn't have been more than five, looked around wildly. I stopped and turned so he could see Lumpyhead. "Mom, that's a baby," he explained, his voice dripping with condescension. So that's what I have to look forward to, once Lumpyhead can talk.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The Grandparents Arrive

My parents arrived yesterday for a week-long visit. They are both so over the moon about Lumpyhead, it’s almost embarrassing. My mother stopped being subtle about her desire for grandchildren about ten years ago, and did everything short of shake me by the shoulders and yell, “HAVE A BABY ALREADY, DAMMIT!”

Her grousing stopped when Bump and I got married. I think she assumed a baby was in the offing, so she settled in and awaited her prize. She and my dad spent all day yesterday fawning over Lumpyhead.

“Look how beautifully his hair is coming in.” You can finally see some hair now that Lumpyhead’s helmet is off, but what he’s got is pretty thin.

“He’s just the perfect size.” In my mother’s head, the fiftieth percentile is not “average.” It is the standard to which all children must certainly aspire. I’m sure if Lumpyhead was in the 20th percentile for height and weight, she would criticize all those parents who stuff their behemoth children with food against their will. If he was in 80th percentile, my mother would pity all those tiny babies who weren’t Lumpyhead’s size.

“Just look at the way he loves books. I’ve never seen a baby that interested in reading before.” That’s because you’re holding his delicious book just out of his reach, and he’s concentrating on how he can get his maw on it when it’s that far away.

“He’s such a good baby, just like I was,” my father offers. “He must get that from his grampa.”

So, there you have it. My child is flawless, and inherited all his qualities from his maternal grandfather, with whom he shares no genetic link.

I listen to them gloat over their long-awaited grandchild, and keep the snarky comments to myself. I'm happy that someone else sees this nearly bald, regular baby as the brilliant specimen I do. It’s nice to have them around, even though they’re completely nuts.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Pepper Poker Party

Friday night was poker night at my friend Pepper’s house. His wife is due to deliver their first baby any day now, and he wanted to host one last child-free poker night. The thing about poker night at Pepper’s, though, is that it’s not so much about poker. It's more about socializing than cards, which is fine because Pepper's friends are all very cool. Bump and I tend to forget this until we arrive and all the other players whip out their little scraps of paper that detail what hand beats what. We shake our heads. It’s my goal for Lumpyhead never to need one of these cheat sheets. I vow he will know that a flush beats a straight before he knows that T comes after S.

Being around Pepper’s wife reminded me of those last few months of pregnancy. Even though I was usually too grumpy to appreciate it, people were very nice to me when I was hugely pregnant. Strangers smiled at me for no reason. People asked if this was my first, and would offer stories of their own children. Waitresses would throw in free extras when Bump and I went out to eat.

On May 11, less than three weeks before Lumpyhead was born, some dimwit in a small plane invaded the protected airspace of the Capitol. At the alarm, the entire campus was evacuated, and people went scurrying from all the buildings.

I’m always skeptical during evacuations. Maybe it’s because I didn’t lose anyone close to me on September 11, and I would have been content to drink beer in a Capitol Hill bar (it’s like a snow day!) before I knew the scope of the disasters in New York and at the Pentagon. I was only slightly inconvenienced by the anthrax scares. Several false alarms have lulled me into thinking evacuations are never worth getting worked up about. I’ve been driven from my desk when a Halloween costume made everyone think a mad gunman was raging around the Cannon Building. I was evacuated when the Governor of Kentucky flew in for Ronald Reagan’s funeral on a private plane with a broken transponder. Each time, an hour or so later, people trudge back to their offices, the odd flutter of unnecessary adrenaline still in the air.

Not everyone feels this way; many people take evacuations very seriously. Women kick off their shoes, people cry, some leave the buildings at a dead sprint.

I was swollen and cranky and feeling like a pod rather than a person. The size of a small van, I lumbered out of the building.

On three different occasions, people stopped and offered to help me with my bag. I managed not to snarl, “It’s not this three-pound briefcase that’s slowing me down, you idiot, it’s the thirty pounds of pregnant.”

Instead, I thanked them politely. I smiled. “I’m good, thanks. You may continue running for your life now.” They nodded and continued their escape.

Looking back, I’m overwhelmed by their kindness. Granted, Capitol Hill is the kind of place where schmoozing is taken to another level, and there’s nothing like a baby to bring out the obsequious in every politician. But this was different. People I didn’t know, who were truly frightened, stopped to assist the potential that was in my belly.

And they’re awesome. Thank you to those random strangers who - while freaking out - were willing to slow their evacuation to help a pregnant lady. People who instead of pushing past, took a few minutes to make sure Lumpyhead made it out okay. You rock.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Hey Dumbass

A recurring segment of the blog in which I answer advice columnists' mail. This letter is from Ask Amy, published January 17, 2006

Dear Amy: I have been married for 10 years and have three young children.

I am not one to complain to others about my husband. However, I often hear many of the same complaints (that I internalize) from everyone: He never picks up after himself, he leaves dirty socks on the floor, he lets the kids run crazy and has no idea of what the house rules are.

All he does on weekends is sit and watch football.

How can so many women have the same complaints?

Why do so many men think there is a magic fairy who is going to pick up after them?

Did indulgent mothers create this behavior? Shouldn't there be a universal solution by now?

Maybe this is why the divorce rate is so high, and maybe this is also why kids are so obese and messed up (Dad is always sitting around, and Mom and Dad are never on the same page).

I love my husband, but his behavior drives me nuts!

I saw the movie "Spanglish." Most critics really ripped on the mother. However, I thought both the mother and the father were pathetic parents, but I also felt that it was somewhat realistic in how parents are so disconnected today. Any advice?

-- Frustrated Spouse
Dear Dumbass,

You're not one to complain about your husband, unless it's to a nationally syndicated columnist and you can smear him as a lazy oaf and bad father. I'm not even touching the "Spanglish" item - I've seen bad movies, too, but I don't use them to explain social trends. Good god woman, what's wrong with you?

"House rules"? Perhaps he has no idea what they are because you made them all. Without any input from him. His house rules seem to be "let the kids blow off some steam while I watch the game" and he seems to be following them just fine.

Maybe his dirty socks aren't a big deal to him. It's not indulgent mothers that create slobs, it's people who really don't mind living in filth. You married one. Either resign yourself to picking up after him, resort to living in filth yourself, or find some happy medium whereby he picks some of his stuff up, or at least leaves it in a place where you can't see it. You might try actually talking to the man instead of griping to an advice columnist.

Now if he's leaving his crap around the house and then complaining about what a mess it is, may he be sentenced to Adam Sandler and/or Tea Leoni movies for the rest of his natural life.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Broken Resolutions

Lumpyhead laughs when the people around him laugh. I don’t know if he thinks the sound of our laughter is funny, or if he simply reflects our emotions back at us. Maybe it’s just my imagination, but it seems easier to get him to giggle when I’m honestly having fun. I think he picks up on my attitude, whether he understands what is going on or not.

I wonder if Lumpyhead loves Bump and me. Is he capable of love at this age? Does he feel how much we adore him? Is he actually fond of us, or are we just familiar to him? Does he remember us? If we were no longer part of Lumpyhead’s life, would he miss us? Would he wonder where the Tall Man and the Lady with the Hair to Pull went?

My older brother, Ron, suffered from terrible separation anxiety. He was adopted at 18 months, and lived with a foster family for a year before that. My parents describe him running to the door each time someone knocked - hoping the new visitors were his foster parents. His foster father always wore a cap, and when someone in a cap came to visit, Ron would dash to him, only to be disappointed. “He was sure a sad little boy for that first little bit,” my mother said on a recent visit. It wasn’t the first time I heard her describe Ron’s initial few months with them, but this time it choked me up.

Ron would scream at night unless he slept with my mom and dad. Not just in the bed with them, but snugly between them or on top of them. My mother says Ron liked to sleep directly on her chest - like he wanted to be sure she wouldn’t go anywhere without him noticing. As a woman who had desperately wanted children for years, having a child who clung to her in the night was heaven for my mother. I believe Ron needed my mother as much as she needed him.

Ron was 6 months old when he was taken from his biological mother. She left him without supervision to meet up with a gentleman friend. Some children walking to school heard a baby’s cry, and they called for help. Ron’s mother had left him alone in a car, in a gravel pit, overnight. It was October in Northern Minnesota, and he was wearing only a tee shirt and a diaper. I’m told Ron’s mother had seven children, but each was removed from her custody by the state.

I think Ron struggles with the idea of his biological family. His wife urges him to seek out his birth family, but he’s resisted thus far. My parents suspect my sister-in-law of having financial motives to find Ron’s biological family; she believes casino money awaits him. Thus far, he has declined to make contact. Ron refers to his birth mother negatively, but I find I feel for this woman.

Could I leave my baby in a car, unattended, overnight? Of course not. Do I feel motherhood has trapped me for the next 18 years into a lifestyle I’m not sure I want? Sometimes.

My life is so different from what I imagine hers was. I have a partner who is enthusiastic about being a dad, and even seems to dig me, which is a nice bonus. I am a college-educated 34-year-old with adequate financial resources, and I still sometimes feel like I’m in over my head. She was a young high-school dropout, single and poor. I don’t understand her behavior, but I cannot fathom her situation.

I wonder how Lumpyhead would think of me if he had been taken away six weeks ago. Would his opinion be so negative 38 years from now that he would refer to me as a slut? Would he have any memory of me? Would he know how much I love him?

I wonder how I could cope, if I were this woman. Would I wail and become despondent each time one of my seven babies was taken from my care? Would I grieve for them? How could I have a fourth child, after the first three were removed from my custody? A fifth? A sixth? A seventh?

Would I vow to do a better job each time I discovered I was pregnant? Would I think, “This baby will be different. This baby will know his mother and love her, and know how much I love him?” Would it be similar to how people feel on New Year’s Day, convinced they’ll stick to their diet, only to find - maybe around this time in January - that it’s too difficult to change their lifestyle the way they envisioned?

I don’t know if Lumpyhead is a mirror of my emotions or if he feels things. I don’t know if he’s really annoyed when tummy time lasts too long, or if that’s just the sentiment I impose on him. But if he can sense when I am happy and laugh in response, surely he must feel something when I hold him as he dozes and feel as though my heart could burst.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Does That Mean I'm Imaginary?

This post on Blogging Baby reminded me: people say stupid things.

When I was pregnant, I got all sorts of inappropriate questions. "Was it planned?" "Were you using birth control?" "How long have you been trying?" All these questions seemed to beg to be answered, "Well, we were having as much sex as we could!"

I think most of the time, people are just trying to make conversation, trying to show some interest in the event you've just announced. They could care less if you were using a diaphragm or the baby was a surprise, they just bumbled into an asinine followup. Other people are truly boors, and you might as well find humor in their idiotic statements.

When I arrived home for the first time, my parents received tons of visitors from miles around. I was the first Korean child adopted through Nobles County, and it was like a new baby at the zoo.

My mother recounts the following exchange, which she overheard during one of those moments when the house was full of well-wishers:

Old Bitty One: Didn't [my dad's brother] just have a baby, too?
Old Bitty Two: Oh, yes. But they had a real one.


Thursday, January 12, 2006

I'm Sure It's Because He's a Baby, Not an Indicator of Intelligence

Lumpyhead often shoves things into his mouth and gags himself. Repeatedly. His fingers, a spoon, or any part of a toy that he can maneuver far enough into his piehole will cause that awful retching noise.

Him: "Ack"
Me: "Don't stick that in so far."
Him: [blinking]
Me: "Better?"
Him: "Ack"
Me: [remove item]

I hope he'll catch on soon to the cause of the gagging, and stop. He hasn't thrown up yet, but I'm worried he's on track to becoming a cheerleader.


He also thwacks himself in the head from time to time.

Him: [thunk.] [annoyed squeal]
Me: "Yeah, that was you. Don't do that."
Him: [flail, flail . . .thunk.] [angry squeal]
Me: [sigh]

At least he's using both arms for the clunking, so I don't have to worry about the one-sided cerebral palsy thing.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Occupational Mileage

A post on Miles, etc. about division of labor got me thinking about how I view my job. I recognize that my little family would be monumentally screwed without income and health insurance, but Bump is changing the world.

It's not that I'm convinced Lumpyhead will grow up to make some huge mark on the global stage. But he certainly makes the world a better place for me and my husband, and our friends and family think he's pretty awesome, too. What could be more important that caring for him and providing a healthy environment for him to explore?

It's hard to leave for work in the morning, especially if Lumpyhead is awake. But I've found that since the little guy has been around, work has more meaning. Not because I'm doing anything more significant, but because providing for Bump and Lumpyhead has made what I do more important.

In so many ways, I've got the easy part. At work, I know what I'm doing. My duties are intellectually rewarding and my colleagues are fun. With some exceptions, my schedule is predictable and I can take regular breaks. For example, around midday I am able to eat lunch, chat with coworkers, or surf the internet. Bump juggles countless tasks that shift daily. I think if he manages to eat lunch, shower, and check his email it's an organizational masterwork. To my amazement, he often runs errands, buys groceries and cooks dinner by the time I get home - while handling a teething baby on an irregular nap schedule.

But he doesn't have to leave in the morning.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Scrubly is Coming, Scrubly is Coming!

The Scrubly One is coming to visit this weekend. Hooray!

Scrubly was one of Bump's suitemates in college; he was also on the debate team with Aunt Bob. Scrubly and I both moved to DC because Aunt Bob needed a roommate. The woman she was planning to live with bailed on Washington at the last minute, so Aunt Bob put out the call for roommates. Scrubly and I took her up on plea, later chiding her that when looking for roommates, she should have asked for ones with jobs.

When told of the makeup of our household, my extended family often remarked, "Oh, like Three's Company!" We assured them that our days were filled with high-larious misunderstandings that resolved themselves within 30 minutes.

After a year, I moved out of the group house to move in with John, and Bump took my place in the house. I didn't know Bump in college, even though we had a lot of the same friends. It's funny how people come into your life when they're meant to.

Scrubly is one of those guys who has led a charmed life. His lovely wife just fell into his lap - literally and figuratively - and he seems to have been spared true misfortune thus far (unless you count his roto baseball team; that's a fricken dizASSter). I'm pretty sure all four of the man's grandparents are still alive, if you can believe it.

He's one of those guys who was born responsible. When he was a toddler, he saved his little brother's life when he caught him eating a jar of iron pills at his Aunt's (his brother thought they were M&Ms. Really bad M&Ms). His Aunt has two adopted children, and when she visited she would tell me her girls' stories.

Five years ago at this time, Scrubly was living in Boston and he and I were exchanging emails about a wager. His Giants were taking on my Vikings in the playoffs, and the bet was laid out like this:
I have a Vikings shot glass. Scrubly would be visiting in a few months, at which time he would drink from that glass. The number of shots he took would be determined by the number of points by which his team lost.
He accepted the bet, and didn't even make me spot him the two-and-a-half drinks the boys in Vegas would have given him at the time. If my Vikes lost, I would go out and buy a Giants shot glass for the point differential - but neither of us thought I'd be drinking.

For those of you who don't remember - and I am normally one of those people don't remember football scores from five years ago - this was the playoff game that the Vikings lost 41-0. Forty-one points, folks. It was a stunning, absolute, whole-hand pants-down spanking.

Scrubly eventually allowed that most of the shots taken out of my brand-(spanking)-new Giants shot glass could be beer. However, I owed seven "real" shots, one for each taunting/mocking email I had sent him in the week leading up to the game.

This is the email I received from Buttmunch after the game:
Just heard from [Scrubly] about your little football wager. Ha ha! I love it. I can just picture you watching that game -- and I can picture [Bump], [Aunt Bob], and Peter watching you watch that game. I chuckle just to think of it. I love it when there are many potential outcomes to a situation, and the funniest one occurs. That so rarely happens.
Since [Scrubly] let you off the hook on quantity, I suggested he should make up for it by increasing the nastiness of the quality. I did not, however, make any specific reommendations (vodka- and-warm-mayonnaise comes to mind).
--- Jimmy the Munch, football prognosticator, reminding you that few people have ever lost money betting against Denny Green in the playoffs
I changed the names to avoid confusion, not to protect anyone's identity. I left the signature line in to prove that Buttmunch really does go by Buttmunch (and variations thereof), I didn't make that up for this blog.

So, Scrubly is coming. I can't wait to see him. Anyone have suggestions for a wager?

Monday, January 09, 2006

We're All Swimming to the Other Side

This evening on my drive home, I heard that a 28-year-old reporter has been kidnapped in Iraq. She was freelancing for the Christian Science Monitor, and has been in the country for three years.

When he was 25, Congressman John Lewis led the march on Selma.

My accomplishments by age 25? Well, there was the time I drank so much tequila a threw up in a bathtub. (I sat next to John Lewis once, though, so I got that going for me. The whole time I thought, “Wow. I am so not worthy.” I managed not to blurt the tequila thing to him, much to my relief.)

What will Lumpyhead accomplish by the time he’s 25? Will he go to graduate school? Will he be starting his career, settling into a city far away from me? Will he have met someone special by then? Will I like her? Him?

Will he still be alive?

During my first month at Yale in the fall of 1989, I met John and we became an item. We were together until June 29, 1995, when he died in his sleep. It was 19 days after his 24th birthday, and I woke up next to him.

I still keep in contact with John’s family; his mother was in the room when Lumpyhead was born. Bump has always accepted that Doc and Nana V are part of my family, and I’m grateful that they have kept me close.

It was a horrible thing to go through, losing someone I planned to spend the rest of my life with. Now that I’m a mother, it’s hard for me to imagine the experience from Nana V’s point of view. In the time soon after John’s death, I read that losing a spouse is like losing a limb, and losing a child is like losing a lung. It was hard for me to imagine anyone suffering worse than I was suffering, but maybe it’s unfair to think of something so difficult in degrees. Like when it’s cold in Minnesota, it doesn’t really matter if the temperature is -2 or -20, it still smacks you in the face and makes it hard to breathe. Two below doesn’t feel balmy compared to twenty below.

Like all moms, I wish the best for Lumpyhead. As a widow, I recognize the fleeting nature of the time we’re given here, and I treasure every minute I have with him. I don’t really have a point to this post, I guess, other than to appreciate all the people who have passed into and out of my life. I am enriched by those who are no longer with me, and I’m eagerly awaiting those I have yet to meet.

Wanna Make Fourteen Dollars?

I hate the telephone. Really. Just hate it. Maybe it’s because I can’t see the person on the other end so I miss their non-verbal cues, but whatever it is, phone conversations always seem awkward to me. I’ll make a call for a reason - “We’re out of beer, do you have any? . . . Good, we’ll be right over.” Click. - but I’m not much of a phone chatter.

I’m very bad at keeping in touch with my friends who don’t live nearby, and I blame my phone hatred for that. When I see my friends in person, though, I can yammer on until dawn. When my friend Buttmunch and I get together, you can count on at least one good heart-to-heart that goes on into the wee hours of the morning.

Buttmunch and I are alike in many ways. He shares my unhealthy commitment to the ancient beverage made with hops and grain, enjoys a good wager, and is a fearsome competitor at Rock-Paper-Scissors for drinks. Buttmuch is also adopted, and he recently became a dad.

During one conversation with Buttmunch, I had a joyful revelation: as adopted children, we are incredibly lucky. Not just because our families aren’t evil, but we can select which of our parents’ traits we’ve inherited. We can claim the beautiful ones as “nurture” and disavow the nutty ones as “nature.” Not only do we get to pick and chose which parenting behaviors we’ll use on our children, we can claim the mistakes our parents made were due to characteristics not passed along to us.

I can only assume that, since Buttmunch’s self-esteem seems as healthy as mine, our parents did a lot of the same things. I imagine his parents believe the sun rises and sets on his head, and everything he does can only make them love him more. I'm sure we both heard stories of how we were the happy end to years of desperate yearning.

I hope Bump and I can pass along that assurance of unconditional love to Lumpyhead. I hope he knows we think he’s the best little boy in the world, and we would do anything for him, even though we didn’t have to jump through bureaucratic hoops to bring him home or endure years of infertility before he came into our lives.

I hope he doesn’t feel we love him any less just because we got him the easy way.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Hey Dumbass

For the longest time, I’ve wanted to be an advice columnist. My column would be entitled “Hey Dumbass,” and I would answer most of my letters thusly:
Dear Dumbass,

Stop being a dumbass.
Bump points out that I probably wouldn’t receive very many letters.


Okay, so maybe people won’t write in to an advice columnist who calls them stupid. I’m not gonna let that stop me, though. I’ll either make up letters or steal them from Hax or Amy. Hax used to have an edge in her column, but I fear she's softened over the past couple of years. She used to offer a good verbal bitch-slap every now and again, but I haven't seen that from her in awhile. I miss it. I hope motherhood didn't mellow her out too much. Maybe it was syndication.

From "Ask Amy," published in the Washington Post on January 8, 2005:

Dear Amy:

I just received an invitation from my best friend to her wedding in three weeks. I am very upset by this. She is someone I talk to almost every day and see at least three to four times a week. She has been engaged for almost a year.

What I don't understand is how she could keep something like this from me. I wanted to be a part of her special day, or at least help with the food or the dress -- anything besides a funky little invitation. Her reason for not telling me about the wedding is because she says I am too bossy, which I do not deny. However, she could have at least told me and kindly declined any offers from me to help plan her wedding.

I have no intentions of going to her wedding, and I am considering ending this friendship. Am I being unreasonable?

Dear Dumbass,

Unreasonable? No. Not for a crazy control freak. You're not going to attend your best friend's wedding because she wouldn't let you plan it. Your best friend - to whom you speak nearly every day - managed not to answer the question "So what's new with you?" with "Christ, the caterer is being a dick, the hotel won't expand the block even though they have rooms available and my mother is driving me nuts." You had no idea she was planning a wedding, even though she's been engaged for almost a year? You never bothered to ask, even in passing, how the planning was going, had they set a date, anything? You two sound close. I'm just guessing, but I bet she doesn't refer to you as her "best friend."


On Friday night, I won two - yes, two - of the three rounds of Hold Em. (insert evil villain laugh. Sorry, I don't write it out like the Breadmaster) This amuses me because the boys - Bump and Peter - would argue that I am not a great poker player.

I admit I play by "feel." This means that even if my hand is questionable, if I'm "feeling it," I stay in. This manner of play bugs Bump and Peter. It bugs them a lot. It bugs them even more when I use this brilliant strategy to beat them. (insert evil villain laugh again)

So, what did this night of masterful card-playing yield? $35.00 of pure profit. Hoo-boy, am I a shark. The stakes are $5 per game, but it's more about pride than money, my friend. Okay, it's about money in the sense that Bump and Peter are stay-home dads, and Aunt Bob and I work on the Hill, so we're not exactly rolling in it; $5 stakes are plenty. Pride, though, pride we can play for. But you still gotta ante up. I'll make you cry and take your fie dallahs any day.

If I'm feeling it, that is.


When I was pregnant, poker was one of the few things other than work that I left the house to do. If I wasn't too cranky, Bump, Peter and Aunt Bob humored me by playing late into the night. Late enough that, when Peter's cell phone rang one night morning, we all feared the special kind of Very Bad News that tends to arrive at that hour. I was closest to to the phone, so I picked it up. The voice on the other end slurred, “Shaneese, I am so fucked up right now, you have no idea.”

“I’ve got a pretty good idea,” I replied. “This isn’t Shaneese.”

The voice was suddenly crisp, polite. The slur was gone. “I’m so terribly sorry,” she said.

“No problem,” I assured her. “Good luck.”

We speculated for the rest of the night about Shaneese’s friend. She sounded like she was having a great time. We hoped she got laid or arrested or home safely, whichever she was shooting for. I felt a twinge of envy - not for the hangover she would have the next day - but I missed the days of drunk-dialing friends at 3:00 in the morning. I realized later that the people I would have called were - for the most part - sitting at the table with me.

But now, when someone has had too much to drink, we call her Shaneese.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

More on the Cast

Why Bump?

I was originally going to refer to myself as Bump. I liked the near-rhyme with Lumpyhead, and I thought “sitting here like a bump on a blog” was clever. I imagine about 1,000 people have already thought of that, but whatever. When I started writing in the first person, I didn’t seem to need a name for myself. “I” was working just fine, so I slapped the name on my husband. He’s a stay-home dad who used to work for a law firm downtown. He laughs easily, which is one of the things I like about him. Bump thinks puns are funny, so I make them a lot. Never used to do that. Now my friend Peter says I’m worse than Bump.

What’s an Aunt Bob?

“Aunt Bob” is a title, more than a name. Jean is my best friend, after Bump. When her son Patrick was born, I worried it would take several years for him to learn to say my actual name. He was already babbling “bah bah bahb” so I hijacked “Bob” and claimed he was talking about me. Jean was a little bitter when her son seemed to refer to me as “Bob” before he said “Mama” while looking at her, and I felt pretty smart that I got in on the ground floor of the whole name thing. Patrick is nearly three now, and can say my name just fine, so Jean became Lumpyhead’s Aunt Bob. Jean's married to Peter (see "puns," above).

Friday, January 06, 2006

Wow, These Blogger-Types are Nice

First off, many thanks to Dutch over at Sweet Juniper for the blogging advice. In my attempt to slavishly obey his every word, I've stumbled upon a mommysite I absolutely love.

I think Sarah hooked me by taking a vacation that included a horse head as a three-man hat. She totally won me over when she revealed she used to carry dice in her purse. (Although I'm a little disappointed that she "used to." I have five dice and a deck of cards in my briefcase at all times. Yes, I know they're a choking hazard. That's why they're in my briefcase and not in the diaper bag.)

Plus, she's recently moved to the DC area, so she's got the local angle to help suck me further and further into blogland. I'm hopelessly addicted.

Shut Your Mouth

I've had several Bad Mother Moments since Lumpyhead came around.

Like when I dropped off my friend Jerry at the airport, and wanted my old life back. I miss being able to go off on weekend getaways with Bump, planning the trip at the last minute. The Wednesday emails from USAirways still taunt me with their "look at all the fun places you could go if you weren't a mom" destinations. I scan them and think, "Ahh, Charlotte. We could have gone to Charlotte this weekend."

[Reality check: I don't want to go to Charlotte. I've never wanted to go to Charlotte. What the hell would I do in Charlotte? We would drink beer and play gin rummy in the hotel room if we ever got stuck in Charlotte, for crissakes. Why would I go to Charlotte on purpose? Now, Charlotte-lovers, don't get all pissy and email me about what a great destination Charlotte is. I'm just using it as an example. Delete "Charlotte" and insert "Hartford" if it makes you feel better.]

Or the time I was doing laundry while Bump was sleeping, and decided to take Lumpyhead to the laundry room with me. I put Lumpyhead in the empty laundry basket, and he looked very, very cute. Then he wiggled his way out of a seated position and started to cry, because he had scraped his arm on the laundry basket. Oh, look! Bad Mother Moment plus Bad Mother guilt! The baby has a red spot on his arm, and it's all your fault.

[Reality check: the scrape went away in three days. Three guilt-ridden, I'm-sure-he'll-be-scarred-for-life days. No sign of the scrape remains on his buttery-soft arm.]

I'm sure more Bad Mother Moments are coming. And I'm sure there will be some I can't reality check away. But I'm doing the best I can, and I know my heart could not withstand loving this little man any harder. So Bad Mother Moments and all, it's still a pretty fun ride.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Probably Too Much Discovery Channel

Without his helmet, Lumpyhead looks a lot more like his dad. Even Bump admits that the baby looks a whole lot like him.

When Lumpyhead emerged, he looked exactly like me. It was kinda neat, and kinda freaky. I found it very odd to look at someone who bore such a striking physical resemblance to me. I'm adopted, so I don't look like anyone in my immediate family. (That last part is funnier in context: I'm Korean. My parents are Dutch. I really, really don't look like anyone in my family.) I expected Lumpyhead to look more like Bump at first - I read/heard/made up that babies look like their fathers as an evolutionary tactic - when they came out looking like daddy, cave man would be more likely to care for them.

Bump didn't need something as silly as physical resemblance to seduce him into caring for this child. Bump has been completely committed to Lumpyhead since long before Lumpyhead was born. Bump has always wanted kids, and has been ready to be a dad for a long time. It didn't surprise me at all that Bump wanted to stay home full-time with the baby.

I always assumed I'd have children, but never felt ready. I'm still not sure I'm ready. I'm not one of those "my life is complete now that I have a baby" kind of women; there was no angel music and heavenly light on the day my son was born. I miss the weekend jaunts, the drinking benders, the double-income freedom. I always said I was responsible about my immaturity - I acted selfishly and recklessly, but I didn't have anyone depending on me, so I could act selfishly and recklessly.

It's like I've been playing for fun my whole life, and suddenly, not only am I playing for money, I'm playing for much higher stakes than I can afford.

So maybe it was an evolutionary tactic for Lumpyhead to come out looking like me. Maybe it was me who needed the caveman push to feel tied to this fabulous little being.

When Lumpyhead was a newborn, he always gave Bump lots of sleep grins. I called it "rewarding his daddy's devotion." Maybe he's still rewarding his daddy - but this time by looking more like him every day.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The Cast

(to be updated as necessary)


The star of the blog and its main subject, this little boy was born on May 31, 2005.

Lumpyhead's Mom
That's me. I write the blog.

Lumpyhead's dad, my husband, and an all-around great guy.


The Other-in-Law
Also known as Nana V, she's my mother-in-law, but not Bump's mom. She was present at Lumpyhead's birth. Doc is her husband.

Good Lord, Woman

Why are you referring to your child as Lumpyhead?

It seems all the cool kids in bloggerland have nicknames for their offspring, and I’m just trying to fit in.


Lumpyhead's noggin has never been perfectly round. When he was born, he had a wicked conehead, with a bit of a twist. He needed some vacuum help to emerge, and because he wasn't exactly face-down - he was facing 4 or 5 o'clock instead of 6 o'clock - his little vacuum spot was on the left side of his head.

We started calling him "Soft Serve," to my Other-in-law's horror. She insisted we stop calling him that.

At Lumpyhead's two-month appointment, the pediatrican noticed a flat spot. She suggested aggressive repositioning, which we didn't have much luck with, but that's probably when we started calling him "Lil Ol Lumpahed." At the four-month appointment, the doctor recommended a helmet, and Lumpyhead was diagnosed with positional plagiocephaly. That's a scary term for "the flat spot lots of newborns develop on their heads because they're put to sleep on their backs." Not serious, and the insurance company says treatment for it is cosmetic, but if left unaddressed it could result in sinus or jaw issues for the baby in the future.

Lumpyhead has been sporting a helmet since October 28 from these nice folks, and the good news - received this afternoon - is that he doesn't have to wear his helmet anymore! His lumpy head is as close to round as it's gonna get. It is, of course, still lumpy, so he's not losing the name, just the helmet.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Lurking No Longer

I love the sneaky feeling that I get when reading blogs. Like I've gotten my hands on someone's diary. Or I've just found out how much money you make.

I admit it, I'm addicted to daddy blogs. I can't remember when I started reading them, but I can't get enough of them. I talk about Juniper, Squirrelly, and TwoBert like they're the children of our friends. I begin many sentences with, "On this daddyblog. . ." I'm completely sucked in.

I'm not sure why I haven't become as taken with mommy blogs. Maybe the daddy blogs are less-threatening? Less likely to cover ground that makes me uncomfortable or emotional? I dunno. Maybe the daddy blogs I frequent are just well-written and funny, and I haven't found a mommy blog that I like yet.

I'm blogging now because I worry that I will forget the little things.

My sweet Lumpyhead is seven months old. He has changed our lives, and is a source of constant amusement and amazement. I realized recently, with soul-shuddering panic, that I couldn't remember the timing of certain events on the day he was born. I was sure that each detail of that day would be locked in my heart and burned into my brain forever, like my childhood phone number.

It wasn't even important. Was it 12:30 or 1:00 when I got the epidural? Who cares? It doesn't matter much, but I know that in the weeks after Lumpyhead's birth, we recounted the story to close friends and family, and I know that detail was included - and now I can't remember it. If I'd been blogging, I could just look back at a post.

[Reality check: If I'd been blogging, I would have been too sore/tired/overwhelmed to post then. Whatever.]

I could keep a journal, I guess, rather than doing this online. But this is easy. Besides, if this blog gets three hits a month, I'll be shocked.