Thursday, September 27, 2007

Sucking Snot

At around 2 a.m. this morning, Spence moved from "getting sick" to "sick." It was definitive. There was no longer just the illusion of a runny nose. It was there. You could hear it bubbling up near his brain. He wasn't run to the ER sick. Not fever sick. Really, just snotty sick. But at six and a half months, his body had let him down.

In a surprise move, Dave and I remained calm. Dave did not chant "ER" even once. We just pressed number 3 on the phone and hooked up with Bobbie, our advice nurse. She described in detail how to use the pale blue snot sucker and suggested that we get some saline drops.

Bobbie did not, however, mention that using the pale blue snot sucker would be the baby equivalent to Dick Cheney's version of not-torture. His sixth sense kicked in as the knobby device came into view. His screams paralyzed me, rendering me impotent. Dave looked on helplessly. He attempted to rally, but in the end was only able to extract a pin sized wisp of snot. The brook of snot babbled on.

But once again Google and Anastasia saved the day. Over gtalk, Anastasia sagely adviced another device that could divert the course of snot.

My mouth.

Tonight, I walk down my precarious stairs a different woman.
A mama that sucks snot from the nose of her babe.
A wife armed with the best comeback of them all, "Not only did I birth him, but I sucked snot from his nose. With my mouth. It's your turn to rock him back to sleep."

Monday, September 24, 2007

Learning to be White

"I'm sorry, but I will kick myself if I don't that really what you are reading?"

I do all of my school reading on public transit these days. I was on the light rail this morning and I was making a conscious choice to lift up my book so that others could read the title. I had been noticing that I was purposefully hiding the title on previous commutes. Today, I decided I needed to feel the emotions and work through what Thandeka would call white shame.

I smiled at the white man with a suitcase. "Yup. I highly recommend it."

I noticed that all of the other people on the train bent towards me as I shared the points that had stuck out to me thus far. The overweight white man that faced me moved his body closer, but distinctly turned his head. The black man that was waiting to exit the train just overtly faced me. I was on stage.

Figuring I only had about 5 minutes, I went for what I felt was the most important thing a white stranger on the light rail might need to hear. I jumped on my soap box.

Thandeka calls into question our white created illusion that white is the norm. Beyond this common sense statement, she posits that racism is constructed from the white community self policing its young. White adults subtly abuse our kids by cutting them off from their desires. Kids are shamed into attempting to fit into the unknown rules of white culture and horrified by the realization that love is conditional. I am still reading and chewing on it, so more to come.

But, she also calls us white folks to play a game...when in the company of other whites, call attention to race. Say "My white son is sitting up like a champ" or "My white husband is snoring these days." Pay attention to how you feel. Notice others reactions. See if shame bubbles forward.

I am still working on engaging in the game....indication of how much work I still have to do.

Perhaps too much was on the table. The conversation drifted to the weather.

"It's going to be raining cats and dogs. Be sure to bring an umbrella."

Sunday, September 23, 2007

More on Nipples

I am not trying to beat a dead horse here, but once you start breastfeeding nipples seem to dominate your thoughts. As I was showering today, I couldn't help but thinking about my exploits of "toughening 'em up" prior to the babe's arrival.

Even though Dr. Sear's recommends against it, after hearing many, many, many mamas share their painful nipples stories I decided to try to get ready. Approximately twice, I stood in the warm shower and tried to prepare. I would grab the berry at the tip top of my breast and pull, tug, twist until it hurt. It didn't take long. Really, just 30 seconds. I would wince and fear the future. I wasn't ready.

Spence came and the wisdom of 'toughen 'em up' seemed to be so wise. Spence would try to latch on and it would feel like he was stabbing me with a knife over and over again. I no longer wondered why many women give up on breastfeeding. I knew. How could this little toothless wonder be able to inflict such tear-causing pain? Other mamas told stories about how you could smear on wool-juice to alleviate the pain. Lie. Some advised that the pain would halt once the kiddo was "latched." Lie. I just thanked my lucky stars that I was born with flat nipples (again the private/public line is meaningless here) and could use a nipple shield or as my friend named "the party hat."

And now? Nothing. No pain. He feels like a soft scrunching. Consider my nipples sufficiently tough.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


In the world of online bulletin boards, this entry would be marked with a warning for TMI.

Be warned.

Feel free to skip this one.

Wednesdays are my marathon days. I bulked up on classes, so I go straight from discussing Theory (very important, don't ask) to meditating on how we teach writing. In between these, there is a brief window of time...40 minutes to be exact. That is when Team Snyder jumps into action. A carefully choreographed dance that requires a pass off from Bubbeh to Dave....then a quick fox trot down to Dinkytown to meet up with the nipples....for a 40 minute milk-o-rama.

He looks like a fresh spring pig as he laps up his milk. Spence refuses a bottle. He'll shake his head in disgust at the nipple fashioned from plastic. So, he is left to wait. Sometimes he wants to tank up for more than the alloted time. Like today.

Which led to me exposing my left nipple to my Teaching Writing class. Spence continued his milk-fest. As he is prone to do as he finishes up his meal, Spence takes in the scenery as he sips. Pulling off the breast, smiling at the world, then grabbing another gulp to wet his whistle. Which leaves a mama's nipple hanging out for her other doctoral candidates to see.

It's funny how motherhood changes things. Like my modesty. Nipple exposure? I'm a beaded Mardi Gras lady. Every day. Multiple times. No need for one of those fashionable "Hooter-Hiders." Apparently, I let them both hang out.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Be Well, Martin.

"Probably he'll need a heart transplant," I said and nodded quietly into the phone.

I had yet to speak to Anastasia.
When you live more than 4,000 miles away (4261 miles to be exact) from one of your best friends, you often engage in the camp game "telephone" and creative 'truth-telling' to fill in the gaps of her life. Anastasia's partner got sick this last week. Really sick. The kind of sick that you should be delivering meals, doing laundry and entertaining the divine Ms. Malaika.

But, the 4000+ miles leaves you a bit impotent. And scared.

So, here is my virtual version of sweet potato burritos:

At the wonders (and minutiae) of this world.
Respects all creatures (except maybe the Pope) and
Treasures his beloved(s).
Insists on reading obscure
Neurology studies while sucking down coffee.

Be well, Martin. Be well.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Silent No More

I ran further than I have ever run before today. My friend Jess and I were supposed to train. She did. I was, well, preoccupied.

I ran today in memory of my mom, to publicize the silent symptoms of ovarian cancer and to hope for a cure so that other kids don't have to lose their moms.

Please take a moment to look over the symptoms of ovarian cancer. Do it for the people that love you.

Now, sleep.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

What Not to Wear: The Temple Edition

How do you dress to be a fashion don't at Mt. Zion? Here's a quick how to...

1) Stay up all night nursing your babe who refuses to take the bottle.

2) Wake up late for Rosh Hashanah services. Panic. Run around doing unnecessary tasks and drink copious amounts of coffee. Try to remember to bathe.

3) Holler to your husband to venture down the rickety basement stairs to get your outfit from the dryer. Start pawing through the piles and piles of clean clothes haplessly stacked on the dresser, various laundry baskets and on the rocking chair looking for the new shirt that you got to minimize that uncomfortable gentile feeling you get when you walk into Temple.

4) Have your husband return from the basement without the pants. Start to cry. Scare up another outfit that is clearly deficient. Wear clogs.

5) Leave for services at the exact time that services begin.

6) While stuck in rush hour traffic, listen to messages from the previous evening. Hear your helpful Jewish friend be very explicit about what you should wear. Look down. Notice you are dressed in brown slacks and a green short-sleeved sweater. Clogs.

7) As your husband attempts to console you, remember all of the times he as shown up inappropriately dressed. Yell. Scream. Throw fit.

8) Drop your husband and son off at Temple. Go to a used CD store.

Two Dimes

All day, I have been fixating on two dimes.
Twenty cents.
How can one number mean so little and so much?
Today is the twentieth anniversary of my mother's death.
Twenty cents,
twenty years.
One number, you would barely bother
to reach down to pick up.
The other, you can barely get up
out of your grief.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Grandma NJ


Not really the answer I wanted to hear. The question? I asked my beloved husband what he called his grandmother. After some hemming and hawing, he reluctantly spit out her name. No "Grandma Selma." No "Bubbeh Selma." Just Selma. It betrayed the gulfs between him and his grandmother.

She died twenty years before Dave was even a glimmer in his parents eyes. Understandable. But, for me, the revelation was crushing. On the eve of my own mother's twentieth anniversary of her death, I just kept projecting fifty years into the future and hearing Spence call his grandmother "Norma."

So I lick his nose and tell him about how his Grandma NJ used to do the same thing to his mom. As we touch the beautiful flowers in the many neighborhood gardens, I tell Spence about how his Grandma NJ used to grow the most beautiful cala lilies. We cozy up to Grandma NJ's picture and talk to her about our day. She will be his grandmother, not just my mom.

And because she can't pull out a photo of her grandson and brag, let me..


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

MetroTransit Makes Me Smart

If I am able to catch the 12:46p.m. train from the Lake/Midtown station, I can scurry on over to catch the 4B when I exit the Hennepin station. On that 1:10 bus, I see the same woman. She sits in the same spot every day...right up close to the driver. Unlike others that vie for that coveted seat, she never speaks to the driver. No mindless banter about route changes or other passengers. I think she likes that seat because she can get a good look out into the world. Her fifty year old self is betrayed by her right hand as she grabs at the safety pole...she is transformed into a little girl holding onto the prized horse on the carousel. While others on the bus strive to capture that facial gesture that balances apathy and an appropriate dose of Minnesota nice, she seems to have a vacant gleeful stare. An oxymoron, I know.

It has taken me 31 years to attempt to master a public transportation system. I am not going to flog myself for not getting with it a bit earlier, rather bask in the glow of my new knowledge set. I feel smart when I ride the bus. Smart in every cell, not just the grey matter.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Eternal Moment

Spence and I headed off to our very first ECFE (Early Childhood, Family Education) class...we were both ECFE virgins. Not really sure what to expect.

I plopped Spence down on the mat and he stared at the other kiddos as Daniel's dad videotaped the whole thing. I didn't know that cameras were expected. I briefly thought about whipping out my cell phone to document the event ala Dave and the Japanese tourists in botanical gardens, but I decided to lay low. I could always ask Daniel's dad to email me the footage.

Renee, our teacher (and I lose that term loosely), attempted to get our attention. We mostly ignored her. But, she passed out a laminated card with some questions and gave up any hope of getting us to move to find a partner. We half-heartedly made our way through the list.

"What's the favorite moment of your day?" Maisi's mom (they are still debating the spelling...she's 6 months old) asked. 'Just one?' I thought.

Maybe the morning...when Spence starts to squeak. When he lures us to play, lifting the foggy veil that still hangs over our eyes. Or maybe the moments before his morning nap, when he snuggles in and nurses like a spring pig. our play time...when we belt out his fave "Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens" and he kicks his feet with delight. Or actually, it is baby massage time. I squirt the jasmine-scented oil into my hands and let him take it in. His eyes light up and his limbs start moving at hyper-speed in anticipation.

Define moment...can it be 24 hours?

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Moving to the Country, Gonna Eat alotta Peaches?

Apparently, Spence is a city boy.

As of right now, he will eat no peaches. Nor avocados. Nor bananas.
He'll grab at food. He'll open his mouth wide in expectation of a tasty morsel. But, if the food touches his lips, he winces, shakes his head and seems to exclaim, 'Damn, mom. What are you trying to do to a son?"

I was not excited to serve the boy food. Other mothers told me stories of how fun it was to watch their little one sample the fruits of our world. Try all different exotic foods and wait for the reaction. Not me. I mashed up the avocado and mixed in the breast milk under duress.

I didn't want him to grow up so quickly. Whenever we cross the threshold of our home, I am guaranteed to hear "Enjoy it! They grow up so quickly" usually accompanied with a wistful sigh. I take it seriously. Even though Spence will be six months on Saturday, I am already wistful.

There are already so many things that he's left behind....the turtle yawn, the relaxing "ahh" after the sneeze.... I breathe in every moment and don't want to exhale. It's hard to hold in my head all the minute details that I never want to forget. Each day, the list gets longer.

Here's to sweet potatoes on Wednesday...

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Another Saturday Night...

So lately, my husband and I have been sitting on our rust colored couch, side by side, and instant messaging. We flirt. We discuss the declining state of our garden. We chat about our future. And listen to the sound of the ocean. (Our son, already resisting being a Minnesotan, requires the sounds of the ocean to drift asleep.) Typing a way, our elbows brushing in a very Victorian way. Here's a snippet from our conversation tonight...

: Hi honey
What should I call my blog?
Dave: hmmm, that's a good question, pussycat.
8:56 PM ?
me: Nope. No drama.
Dave: MizWardn'Spence
Lil'Spence's Mama
Reading Rhizomes
me: Nope. I am not only defined by Spence.
8:57 PM Reading Rhizomes is funny...a take off of reading rainbow.
Dave: I know, I know... that's why I'm working on the reading angle
me: Clever.
Should I really get that stuff at Old Navy?
Dave: Oooh, I could rename mine "Gunslinger Papa" after the Stephen King series
8:58 PM me: I really, really like the Bone to be wild sleeper.
Yup. Except aren't you anti-gun?
Dave: Yes.
Whatever, I'll stick with rhizomes for the moment.

I used to have another blog, the blog that will not be named. I'll try to be more faithful to this new one. I think the new coffee maker that I got...the
best coffee maker in the world...will certainly aid in my dedication. More (oh, lots and lots more) to follow on my new pal.

Right now, my dear hubby is anxiously instant messaging me to help him figure out how to post a picture. Off to rescue...