Monday, November 28, 2005


We flew to my cousin Shannon's house in Scottsdale, AZ, this year. The whole family, minus only one, showed up, and there was lots of eating, drinking, laughing, eating, talking and eating. A big thank you - again - to Shannon, for taking on such a giant group of guests; you are a better (and more organized) woman than I! And a very gracious hostess.

The warm, sunny weather inspired the group to play a few rounds of bocce ball and soccer at a nearby park, on Friday, and the cool evenings were spent sitting around the fire pit in Shannon's backyard. Hazel and Violet and their four big-girl cousins made sure there were lots of cute photo opportunities, none of which went unphotographed. The girls were very sweet with one another, and it was heartwarming to see them get to know each other, and enjoy their time together. The little girls followed the big girls around, fascinated; the big girls were patient and loving with little ones. Hazel, like her mother before her, was shy and unsure of her place in the hierarchy of girls, so she stayed mostly on the sidelines, watching and listening and taking mental notes.

We flew home on Saturday (no crowds! no lines at security! amazing!) to catch the Dan Zanes and Friends show at Herbst Theatre on Sunday morning. There was some sort of snafu with our tickets, so we ended up wandering down to the pit down in front of the stage, and rocking out down there, mere feet from Dan, Hazel's idol and main squeeze, for the entire set. Haze was absolutely awestruck - she sat in Mike's lap almost the whole time, slack jawed and dazed. I, on the other hand, sang and clapped and danced enough for both of us, with sick little Violet watching everything from inside the sling. Dan's set did not disappoint - he played a lot of our favorites, and encouraged everyone, big and little, to sing and dance and join in the goofy fun. It was awesome.

What a great start to the holiday season. I hope your Thanksgiving was as fun as ours!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

An Open Letter to Julia Roberts and Jennifer Garner

Dear Jules and Jen,

Ladies, the media has brought it to my attention that you both have (or are about to have) baby girls. Congratulations! Mothering a baby girl can be a huge thrill, and will certainly be a huge responsibility, what with all the nursing (you are nursing, aren't you? Please, let's set a good example, girls..), diaper changing, and sleepless nights. But it can be exhilirating too, and one of the most exciting parts of having a baby girl, for me anyway, was deciding on a name for her.

That being said, Julia, I have a bone to pick with you. You just had to go and name your baby girl Hazel, thus taking a quiet, below-the-radar kind of name, and slapping it on every the front page of major publication in the western hemisphere. I can kind of forgive you, since Hazel is such an awesome name. I mean, I'm not saying you don't have great taste, because you totally do. But that still doesn't take the sting out of people saying, upon meeting my Hazel, "Oh, like Julia Robert's daughter!" People have actually said that to me, Jules, thus diminishing some of the uniqueness of the name, in my opinion. I'm willing to wager that no one ever says "Oh, like Alisyn's daughter!" when you tell them your daughter's name. And that's not fair, because I used it first, dammit! I wouldn't have played you like that, Julia. Just so you know.

Jen, according to Celebrity Baby Blog and Us Weekly Magazine (credible sources, I know, but usually pretty spot-on about stuff like this), you and your goofball husband Ben Affleck have chosen the name Violet for your baby daughter, due any day now. Again, it's understandable - Violet is a great name; unusual, but not too outlandish. And considering that there have been a few pop culture characters named Violet this year (Violet from The Incredibles, Violet from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), it's not too surprising that you have caught on to its possibilities. But do you think I could persuade you to choose another name, so as to avoid the frustration I experienced with Julia (see above)? Perhaps some of the other names we had in mind for Violet might tickle your fancy: Clementine Affleck sounds mighty nice. Matilda Affleck? Not to shabby! May Affleck - a fine moniker. I have several more suggestions, Jen, should none of these suggestions fill the bill. But please, reconsider using Violet. It's really just much too cool for you. I mean, no offense, but - Ben Affleck? Seriously?

Thanks, girls.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Semper Fi

The girls and I just returned from a 4 day trip to San Diego. It was our first all-girls trip, and it went pretty smoothly all in all. Hazel didn't sleep for shit, unfortunately, and was up no later than 5:30 a.m. every morning (the worst was when she woke up at 4:30 asking "Can we wake up, Mama? I wanna go to the beach!"). Since we were all sharing a bedroom, that meant Violet and I were up, too. Vi is always elated to see Hazel, no matter what the time, but I was horrified, and tried to keep the girls quiet until at least 6 a.m., so the working folks in the house could get some rest. The early wake-up calls resulted in the girls taking great naps everyday, which was nice. Uncle Tim, Mike's brother, was an excellent surrogate dad for us- holding the baby when I needed to help Hazel with something, or taking Hazel to the toystore while the baby and I napped. He cooked and chauffered us around and made me stiff drinks. He was awesome. We stayed with Uncle Tim and Nana (Mike's mom), which always thrills Hazel, because it's so close to the beach and because she gets to do pretty much whatever she wants while we're there, including waking up two hours before the crack of dawn to watch Noggin.

It was a really emotional weekend for me, which, combined with the lack of sleep (did I mention that Violet woke up once an hour every night?), made me kind of fragile. We were in San Diego with the rest of my family, to see my baby brother, Wyatt, graduate from Marine Corps bootcamp. I've been in major denial about Wyatt joining the Marines, even as he left for boot camp 13 weeks ago; even as I addressed the letters I wrote him "Recruit Fulkerson, Wyatt M., Bravo Company, Platoon 1127." It didn't really hit home that he was doing this until I saw him march out onto the Parade Deck, with 500 other graduates, at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot on Thursday morning. Seeing these boys, now these men, marching in perfect formation, with perfect precision, in their crisp uniforms and shiny shoes was really powerful. Startlingly powerful. The recruits marched and marched and finally stopped in front of the stands, each platoon aligned with where their families were instructed to sit. It took me a few minutes to find Wyatt's beautiful face in the sea of khaki, but when I did, I just lost it. I cried like a baby. I felt proud and scared and sad and happy and a million other things at once. Most of what I felt was relief; I felt relieved to see him, to see that he had made it through some seriously hellish physical and mental conditioning, relieved that he still looked like the Wyatt I know. When the recruits were dismissed and allowed to come to the stands and find their families, I hugged and kissed him and just marvelled at how different he seemed. The little boy, the 18-year-old fresh out of high school and ready to take on the world, was gone. In his place was a man. A man who has seen things that I'll never be able to imagine, and done things he never thought he could do. A man who has endured more in the last 13 weeks than he'll ever be able to fully tell us about.

Despite my own personal politics, which can be summed up quickly as anti- establishment, anti-military, and totally against the U.S. occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, I had no problem travelling to the M.C.R.D. to support my brother, and participate in what was probably the most important day of his life so far. Walking around the M.C.R.D. with our family, listening to Wyatt's stories about life as a recruit, watching him adjust to the first five hours of completely free time he'd had in over three months, I realized that my politics mean absolutely nothing in the shadow of my family. Anti-war, pro-Bush - it's all seems moot, now. All that matters now is Wyatt's safety, as he continues his training at Ft. Sill, OK, and after that, his imminent deployment to Iraq. Wyatt estimates that he will be in Iraq within 9 months. So for me, that means nine months to join the anti-war movement, and not just agree with them from the comfort of my couch. Nine months to add my voice to those calling for an end to the occupations, an end to the wars, and an end to the jeopardy that thousands of enlisted men and women are in. If and when my brother is shipped out to Iraq, I'll be here at home, supporting him the only way I can - by demanding that President Bush bring him home as soon as possible, and not sacrifice any more lives for oil. The fact that Wyatt will soon join the ranks of people in Iraq, risking their lives daily, really brings this war home for me - it's not just something I hear about on the radio or read about in the newspaper before turning to the A&E section anymore. It's personal. And while I support Wyatt's career decision to be a Marine, because it makes him happy and it is something he excells at, I don't support what the current administration is doing with our enlisted men and women. I find myself wondering how things would be different if Bush's baby brother was a Marine. Or if Cheney's daughter was in the Army. Bet your ass they wouldn't be shipped to the front lines.

Despite my feelings about this war, I still feel immensely proud of Wyatt for all the hard work and personal sacrifice he's had to endure to become a Marine. It's something he's wanted for a long time and it's something that didn't come easy for him. It's a major accomplishment and I am in awe of the kind of drive it takes to succeed at something like that. I'm happy that Hazel, Violet and I could be there to see the place where my brother, their Uncle WyWy, achieved a major milestone in his life. It was two days that I will never forget in all my life. Congratulations, Wyatt. I love you.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Six months later, and I'm feeling fat.

Well, not FAT, exactly. But not at my fighting weight, that's for sure. Not feeling so good about the ol' muffin tops, over here, I'll say that much.

Violet will be six months old on Friday. Unbeleievable, I know. It's been six rich, sinful, glorious months of coffee with cream, second helpings, dessert almost every night and full fat mayo. Six months of cream line yogurt, bacon, D'Affanois and beer, served up with a steaming hot sidedish of guilt-free justification: Hey, I just had a baby, I deserve this cheesecake! I'm a nursing mother - keep the chips and salsa coming, waitress!

But blogging about Hazel's third birthday recently, I found myself scrolling through hundreds of photos of her as a baby, just reliving those early days, and I was surprised at how much thinner I was when Hazel was Violet's age (although I still felt fat, of course - it's the American way). It seems silly to say this at the ripe old age of 29, but in the three years since having Hazel, I've noticed how much my body has shifted. Things just look and feel different, somehow. Some things are a little jiggly, some a little poofy, some are just plain scary, and everything is just bigger.

I feel gross, most days. I don't like being this size. But the truth of it is, I haven't done shit about it. I eat pretty healthfully, I think, although my diet could certainly be improved, I'm sure. But I have a really hard time motivating myself to exercise - it's not really something I like to do. Getting up and exercising in the morning doesn't really appeal to me, because it's the morning - it's cold, and I'm groggy and I want a nice, hot cup of strong coffee to wake me up, not a skintight jogging bra to cut my circulation off, and remind me of when my boobs were a more managable size. And forget exercising at night - by four p.m. I'm exhausted. By seven p.m. I feel like the Crypt Keeper, bleary, bitchy, and standing on the verge of a nervous breakdown. How is it possible that I'm this size, when I never get to sit down, I never get to finish a meal, and I'm always running around like a nutjob? It's one of those things about motherhood that no one ever tells you-- you'll run yourself ragged browbeating the children, but you'll still need to carve out time in your day to exercise if you ever want to fit back into those prepregnancy jeans sitting on the bottom shelf of your closet, mocking your fat ass like a school boy.

Most of what bugs me about being this size is that I don't feel strong. I don't feel healthy, or energetic. I don't really care if my butt's a little bigger than it used to be. Since concieving, growing, birthing and nursing two babies, I have attained a much deeper, much greater respect and admiration for my body than I've ever had in my life. It's done some pretty amazing things the last few yars. I'm okay with looking more like the woman I am, and less like the girl I was. And I'm okay with the fact that I don't look like those freaks in Vogue magazine - I don't feel like I have to fit a certain mold in order to feel, or look, attractive. I just need to feel strong again, and my body needs to stretch, to realign itself, and to release a lot of tension. Daily.

So, I figure I'll start out slowly, by walking the dog every night. Maybe some sun salutations when I wake up. Then maybe I'll walk her once in the morning and at night - goodness knows Zoe could use more exercise too. A couple of months of good, hard, fast walking and maybe I'll be ready take up yoga again, although I must say, I'm a more than a little apprehensive about the... um... sound effects... that my bod will be contributing to class after two vaginal childbirths. *SHUDDER*

After a couple of months of regular exercise, I should be able to approach the fancy-pants digital scale that Mike's mom just gave us, without hurling. I'm not ready for that right now, though; I want to focus on my activity level to start, not my weight. We'll see how far that gets me.

So au revoir, coffee with cream! Fare-the-well, Halloween candy! I'm turning over a new leaf.

Friday, November 04, 2005


Last week was total madness. I'm so glad it's over. Birthday madness, Halloween madness, and don't even get me started on the havoc that the time change is wreaking on this household; hell hath no fury like a child who gets up at 5:00 am, refuses to nap, and is begging to go to bed at 4:00 in the afternoon.

The birthday girl started her day at 5:30 am, jonesing for presents and cake. That's her at about 5:40 am up top, assessing her sweet loot. Hazel's grandparents (most of them), some friends and family all helped her celebrate her third birthday at our favorite park. There were bagels, juice and cake, just like last year. But unlike last year, when we had about 50 people coming and I had to be organized, this year we had about 15 people and I decided to go low-stress, worry-free and just kind of wing it, not taking anything too seriously. Which, of course, resulted in me feeling like a complete jerk for forgetting candles for the awesome Maisy birthday cake, which Mike had to run to the store for. While there, he forgot to buy matches. While he was at home getting matches, I had not yet realized we forgot forks, with which to eat the cake, and didn't until after I'd started cutting the cake, which I was able to do only because we had two knives for the cream cheese schmears, both of which Hazel had used as her own personal spoons, to scoop huge mounds of cream cheese into her mouth sans bagel, as is her preference. And on it went... The party was a perfect example of my dilemma as a mom - I want to be the freewheelin', devil-may-care kind of hippie mom who enjoys eating cake with her fingers and doesn't fret about things like whether her friends think she's a total weiner for having a year to plan the party, only to do some half-assed shopping and planning three days before. But that it's-cool-man!-hippie-mom is sometimes (often?) usurped by critical-embarassed- why-am-i-so-disorganized?-mom, who can not believe she let something like the friggin' birthday candles slip her mind on her child's special day. *SIGH* Hazel didn't care about any of it, she was just happy to have everyone there in her honor, happy to mow down two plates full of frosting with her fingers, plus some off the cake, and happy to be wearing a party hat, which, besides the Maisy cake, was her only birthday request. What a sweetheart.

Halloween went off without a hitch, and not just because we didn't host it! We headed to San Mateo to trick-or-treat with our friends, and their neighborhood was packed with decorated houses and trick or treaters. Violet threw a huge, inexplicable tantrum the first half of the evening, so I didn't bother with dressing her up in her chick costume, but the big girls looked adorable and were very polite trick-or-treaters, always staying together, always remembering to say thank you. There they are at the beginning of the evening (Tinkerbell, Dash and Daisy-Head Mayzie), before I, in full hey-whatever!-superfun-hippie-mom-mode, made the mistake of sharing a giant pixie stick with them. Critical-hindsight-is-20/20-mom soon wished she hadn't let the 3 girls mainline pure sugar, and is now wishing that she had taken at least one photo of Hazel and Violet together on Vi's first Halloween, costume or no costume, but oh well. There's always next year.