Happy Father’s Day

To my dearest love,

It’s not easy to write blog posts one-handed, on the phone, in the dark while our hellion has a death grip on my arm but… This is my last chance to write this message in secret.

One unexpected thing about parenthood is how much more sensitive it has made me to the plight of suffering children. The news, always a source of horror and disappointment in humanity, now has an even deeper layer of poignancy for me when I read about the cruelties visited upon children and sometimes their parents. My mind involuntarily places me in their shoes and I’m frightened, but I take comfort in knowing you’ll always be here for me and Vale.

 

I wish I had another surprise for you to open since you already know about the botanical gardens, but I’m excited to stop and she’ll the roses together many times in the coming year.

I love you so much!

“Jen N”

Vale at 9 Months

Vale enjoyed playing with her buddy Sienna when we went to visit Matt & Jess in Arvada, CO. On this trip, she thoroughly enjoyed the outdoors, the grass, time by the lake, and discovered her love of slides. She enjoys climbing up slides, though she’s a bit less certain about the sliding down part. She was slightly less cooperative on the plane this time, but still slept most of the way there and back.

 

Overall, she is quite social and enjoys interacting with other babies and people. She had a blast at a couple of birthday parties for her buddies recently.

Vale has learned to like the water a bit more: she enjoys splashing during baths and playing in the hot tub/pool. She was less fond of putting on a bathing suit and being slathered with sunscreen, but the fun times that followed appeared to be worth it, as she had a great afternoon playing in the water at her cousins’ birthday party.

She detests shoes, and broke down in a tearful demonstration of melodrama when we tried to put some cute, sparkly, silver shoes on her feet. She doesn’t walk, and thus doesn’t really need them anyway, though she has stood unassisted a couple of times and just might be walking soon.

She has proven to be an active baby, and hates being confined. If we don’t let her crawl around and explore, she gets extremely frustrated. She’s also a bit stubborn – with shoes, solid foods, hats, and bottles. In the solid food department, we are making some progress though – she regularly eats yogurt now, and has taken a few bites of mozzarella.

Welcome To Modernity, Ireland

Ireland finally legalized abortion, which was previously banned per their Constitution. Wow Ireland, welcome out of the dark ages! Congratulations on your long-awaited recognition of women as human beings. You deserve a real gold star and a pat on the back for finally elevating the rights of women above that of embryos and fetuses.

In other news, I unfriended a “libertarian” on Facebook who likened this legislative act to legalized murder. Ugh, I cannot handle the drivel of people who think governments should force 10-year old rape victims to give birth and/or condemn women to death for the sake of human reproduction.

Where Are The States Rights Supporters When It Comes To Sanctuary States?

Conservatives like to whine about “states rights” when it comes to abortion, drugs, and butt sex, but are curiously silent about “states rights” when it comes to California’s sanctuary laws. While the term “sanctuary state” can vary in meaning, it essentially refers to a state that refuses to assist the federal government and its armed agents in the enforcement of federal immigration law.

While this sounds radical, it’s actually not; it is in fact a well-settled constitutional principle that the federal government may not force state law enforcement agencies to do its bidding. In Printz v. United States, the federal government sought to enforce the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, which required state law enforcement agencies to perform background checks of prospective handgun purchasers. Local sheriffs from Montana and Arizona challenged the law on the grounds it was unconstitutional to force, or “commandeer” state officers to execute federal law.

The Supreme Court ruled the Brady Act’s attempted commandeering of local law enforcement violated the 10th Amendment. The opinion, authored by none other than conservative darling Antonin Scalia, reasoned as follows:

Enactments of the early Congresses seem to contain no evidence of an assumption that the Federal Government may command the States’ executive power in the absence of a particularized constitutional authorization… The Government misplaces its reliance on portions of The Federalist suggesting that federal responsibilities could be imposed on state officers. None of these statements necessarily implies-what is the critical point here-that Congress could impose these responsibilities without the States’ consent. 

He continues on to explain the concept of dual sovereignty and the impact of a policy that would require state agencies to enforce federal law:

The Framers rejected the concept of a central government that would act upon and through the States, and instead designed a system in which the State and Federal Governments would exercise concurrent authority over the people. The Federal Government’s power would be augmented immeasurably and impermissibly if it were able to impress into its service-and at no cost to itself-the police officers of the 50 States.

So apparently states rights is a big fucking deal to conservatives in selective circumstances (because they hate women and gay people), yet it’s nothing but crickets when it comes to immigration. Suddenly, the 10th amendment, constitutionalism, and small government are a distant memory. So very shocking.

Not that we should cut the liberals any degree of slack. I’ve never heard of any mainstream liberal politician come out in support of completely open borders. Their calls for reform and compassion are still framed in the context of an unduly restrictive and violative immigration scheme, and thus are unrealistic and disingenuous. Essentially, they fully support ICE tearing families apart as well, just perhaps at a somewhat lower rate than conservatives (my, aren’t you the humanitarian then?!).

My First Mother’s Day

On my first Mother’s Day crept up on me; indeed it still feels like motherhood has not quite sunk in entirely. Kyle greeted me in the morning with caramel flavored egg coffee in my Doraemon mug, and a delicious breakfast feast fit for a king: crispy bacon; poached eggs over a bed of black beans sauteed with garlic and spinach, topped with habanero salsa; and banana coconut oatmeal with berries mixed in.  

After breakfast, we video-called my mom on Line, went for a quick jog, then made our way to celebrate the rest of Mother’s Day with the family. Vale made me a colorful mosaic tile with her handprint (with just a little assistance from grandma!) We enjoyed a good IPA and imperial stout in the warm May sun, and had a lovely time relaxing with family.

I’ve always loved and appreciated my mother, and in the last 13 years have been keenly aware of how lucky I am to have such a wonderful mother-in-law, whom I love and appreciate as well. Still, it’s only upon becoming a mother myself that I fully understand what it’s all about and just how hard it can be.

Vale at 8 Months

It feels like she is on hyper speed. She started crawling about 5 weeks ago, and now loves booking it across the room on all fours, or pulling herself up to a standing position using anything she can possibly reach. We bought a walker toy for her, since she showed great interest in her friend’s walker during play dates, and she took to this quickly also.

She continues to have a pretty serious case of FOMO. She does not sleep or eat well if she is out and about, or in the company of friends. She prefers to go hungry rather than miss an interaction or activity. Since the last post, she has celebrated Easter, hung out on campus at Mom and Dad’s alma mater, played some soccer golf, and visited the desert.

She continues to be a stubborn eater; she has finally started eating some yogurt, but has maintained her distaste for other solid foods. She tears hats and bows off her head and gets frustrated easily.

Her sense of humor continues to be fickle. Yesterday, the word “burrito” caused her to throw her head back in a big, hearty, laugh repeatedly, but we’re willing to bet it won’t be funny to her tomorrow! Aside from her big hearty laugh, and the George Dubya “heh heh” chuckle, she also has developed a funny snorting snicker, accompanied by a face scrunch, for matters of minor amusement.

April 8, 2018

I caught you smiling, half asleep in the dark. I leaned in a little closer to be sure and it turned into a giggle. You rolled into my arms still half asleep, still giggling, breathed lazily into my shirt, and I forgot all about how you kicked me really hard in the face twice while sleeping next to me the night before.

Your twitchy little fingers smell like buttery bread again. I reflect on the day and think about how you’re turning into a little human right before my very eyes.

April 7, 2018

I awoke to Fiona clawing her way aggressively, clumsily, up the headboard. When she’d made it to the top, she realized her mistake; she teetered unsteadily on a very narrow ledge and looked for a way down. I tried to grab her and bring her down before she had a chance to slip off and make a noisy landing or fall on Vale, and we engaged in a brief tug-of-war with me admonishing her and her meowing back at me in an unduly irritated manner. The commotion woke Vale up, and so at 7:00 a.m. on a Saturday, I resigned to the beginning of the day with a big mug of coffee.

I fed and played with Vale, and drank my coffee so slowly it was cold by the time I got to the bottom. We went for some quick sprints down the street, and headed out afterwards to meet a dear friend at a seaside park. There, we sat in the grass, under the dissipating marine layer, and illegally consumed alcohol, and ate cheese, crackers, salami, and Kyle’s homemade coconut curry hummus. We let a couple of hours slip by while we watched the distant waves. I made sure Vale was covered in sunscreen, but was so delighted to catch up with an old friend that I lost track of the sun and let myself burn.

On the way home, we stopped at Wal-Mart to pick up a few household items and Sour Patch Kids (oh, the things I eat when Kyle is away) and Vale made a big stink in the bathroom (literally and figuratively), because she had a poopy diaper and became agitated when I tried to change it. She flipped, flailed, and cried, and I decided she was definitely going to need a bath when we got home. This was the second dramatic poopy incident on the Wal-Mart bathroom changing table.

When we came home, I showered while she sat in her little tub, then I put her down for a nap, and read some of Naomi Wolf’s Vagina: A Cultural History. Now it’s early evening, the sun is setting, and through our French doors, I can barely make out our palm tree fronds shuddering in the night breeze. I could use a nap myself, but I hate naps, and she’ll be up soon.

April 6, 2018

The scariest thing about having a child is that I love her more as time passes. Some women are struck dumb and overwhelmed immediately by a newfound love for their child as soon as they lay eyes on their newborn, but I was not that way. I marveled at our tiny new human and felt an overpowering sense of responsibility, but love came gradually and incrementally; she grew and continues to grow on me like an incipient, spreading fungus, which is a foul trick I played on her father some 13 years ago. I didn’t cry when maternity leave ended and I had to be apart for her for full work days, but 5 months later, I miss her in an unexpectedly sentimental manner in the middle of the work day, from time to time.

And she is like me in this regard. She takes her time to make up her mind. She is amenable and flexible at first, until 3 weeks or 2 months later, she isn’t – whether it’s the bottle, solid foods, or sleeping through the night, and it’s frustrating to others who thought they understood, and indeed, relied upon her fleeting agreeableness. I don’t know how many times I thought I was not mad at my husband, only to decide, after some contemplation, several days or even a week later, that in fact I was very, very angry, just when he had settled back into a comfortable complacency.

Her father thinks she smells weird, but I love the way she smells, milky and soft. Her chubby hands smell like buttery buns from a Taiwanese bakery, and her scalp smells funny yet familiar.

A friend of mine once told me having a child is to experience your own obsolescence with each milestone. I understand this now, and also frequently consider that in almost no time, she may despise me, find me annoying, feel bitter about my failings as a mother, and become frustrated at how out of touch or technologically inept I am. I get lost in these thoughts and sometimes wonder what the point of this all was, but then another part of me doesn’t care.

Vale at 7 Months

At 7 months, Vale is scooting faster and faster, and getting up on her knees. She has the dexterity to be able to pick up small items, such as rice crackers, with her thumb and index finger, but chooses to only put non-food items in her mouth (Post-its – yum!); she picks up rice crackers with her fingers only to deliberately drop them on the ground. She has exhibited an aversion to solid foods, and you’d think we were feeding her poison, instead of avocado or carrots.

She babbles constantly, and still likes her nursery rhyme music book (her crack book), though her obsession with this toy is waning a little bit. She is not much of a cuddler, but she is very social. She loves being held by people (even strangers) at parties, and does not seem to have a sense of “stranger danger.”

She likes numbers and her ABC flash cards. She hates shoes, and will immediately rip them off her feet.

She has taken an interest in the cats. She has tried to pet Fiona on a number of occasions, much to poor Fiona’s annoyance.

She attended her first Yelp event at the Flower Fields (snuck in, even though she’s not 21), but of course, with her refusal to eat solid foods, the fare was not impressive to her.