Apastalypse Now

You guys, Herr Husband cleaned our pantry tonight (with an assist from me–seriously. I was the one who found the copy of Are You My Mother? that I’d had to buy from the library because it was lost.). Anyway, he found–no lie–thirty-two boxes of pasta (opened and unopened). Apologies to Nanny Sunshine who once cleaned our pantry. Please know that every time Gigi comes over she says, “Poor Nanny Sunshine, after all the hard work she put into this pantry…”

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Newsflash from Obvious Town: Organization isn’t my strong suit.

I tried to argue that it made me a good mother because I was prepared for a disaster in which we needed food stores. But really, I know this is insane. Das Big Boy won’t even eat pasta unless it’s macaroni and cheese (NB, Dr. G: I only feed him the organic kind…). We also have six boxes of that (not included in previous pasta totals, which also omitted Asian noodles in what Herr Husband referred to as, “an effort to be generous.”)

Now you could go all #FailedFeminist on me, and point out that I shouldn’t be blamed for this excess, because it’s not my duty to stock our kitchen or clean our pantry. But to that I respond, a) obviously I don’t clean our pantry and b) Herr Husband does a lot of chores. Like all of the laundry. And anything involving cat poop, because like many a smart lady, I’ve ridden that Toxoplasmosis fear straight out of pregnancy and right into the rest of my life. This is particularly unfair as we have a cat with IBS who either can’t or won’t control his bowels. I digress. The truth is, grocery shopping is a chore that I actually love (as evidenced by my apparent uncontrollable glee every time I see organic whole wheat fusilli (6 boxes)), and therefore I do pretty much all of it. So yes, I am to blame here.

And now, because I believe it’s my duty to share my kids’ cuteness once per post, here is a picture of DBB at a recent bowling birthday party.

bowling

Look at those shoes! DBB’s tiny bowling shoes, that is. Not HH’s Birkenstocks. Look away from those, I say, look away! (Photo credit: Neighbor friend/triathlete/birthday party hostess). Location: Needham Bowlaway

I think the pic is adorable, but befouled by HH’s Birkenstocks. Now look, I “rocked” (can you rock Birks?) purple Birkenstocks with wool socks in 1994 as well as the next fake hippie adolescent, but that doesn’t make them ok, right? And then ‘Burban Bestie informed me that I was wrong. That Birkenstocks are indeed in style. Oh my. What a lot of learning I have to do. Still, don’t expect me to bust out a pair anytime soon (Full disclosure: I also had them in blue, and in black clogs, and I only finally got rid of them in 2009 when we moved to Brooklyn). But all of my footwear convos with ‘Burban Bestie have made me yearn for the other shoe of my tortured teen years: the Doc Marten. So perhaps you’ll see me stomping around in those instead. And then I’ll really be ready for the apocalypse, what with my hoarded food and steel toes.

Watch out, zombies/angels of judgement. I’m ready for you.

As always,

Deine Hipster Hausfrau


Meet the Newest Member of the Family…

Give away one of my beautiful scales? Never!

Give away one of my beautiful scales? Never!

 

Meet Rainbow Fish Husband Hausfrau. He came into our family because someone in this family has been diaper free for a month! (Jokes about me or Herr Husband, commence now.) Rainbow Fish is actually more charming than I thought he would be. He likes to come look at me and make kissy faces and I’m rather smitten. And the level of care he requires is probably in line with my abilities. Das Big Boy was terribly excited to get a fish and now seems marginally interested, which seems about right.

 

Also, I’m kind of obsessed with:

Stitch Fix

Yes, I am one of the many people you know who has gotten hooked on Stitch Fix. It’s basically like getting presents except you pay for them. You tell them about styles you love and hate and they send you clothes and then you can return them if you don’t like them. I kept everything from my first “fix” and wear the clothes constantly. I only kept one shirt from my second “fix,” but I’ve worn it two days in a row so that says something. It’s a great service for people like me who enjoy clothes but whose wardrobes have fallen behind the times either because they have kids or work or accidentally always buy the same types of clothes (tank tops and deconstructed cardigans with statement necklaces over here). Full disclosure: if you sign up and use my link above I get a $25 credit, but I promise I’m not trying to scam you. My evangelism is pure.

Other than dressing myself, or, more accurately, letting others dress me, the fam and I have ventured to Provincetown with Mo, Martha’s Vineyard with the Huxtables, and Cape Cod to see my luminously talented Auntie in I am a Camera. And I’ve solo attended book events for hardcore gifted storytellers Julia Fierro (Cutting Teeth) and Courtney Maum (I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You). All awesome. Such events and the new clothes might make my life sound glamorous, but let’s remember I have two small children and was recently compelled to utter the sentence, “That’s right, DBB, you can’t juggle Marmalady’s pukies.” And ten times a day I sing a hand washing song to the tune of the ABCs about how good someone is at using the potty.

Das Big Boy is summering at camp, which he has figured out is really school with a different order of events, some new teachers, and a sprinkler. Little Liebchen has a gazillion words understandable only to her parents, and a tendency to lay her head upon the floor and sob when she does not get her way. Wherever does she get it?

Here is what we look like as of last weekend:

kids fair LL HH fairWe went as a family to the Brockton Fair, where we went on lots of rides and I fed my baby fried dough. Yes, I exist in an odd dichotomous universe in which my children and I either eat only organic hippie food or total crap. Also at the fair, I won the game where you shoot water into the clown’s mouth, thereby procuring a stuffed dragon for my family. It felt good to be a provider again. There may have been a post victory fist pump involved.DBB HH fair

I’m trying to write beyond the blog again, so wish me luck with that endeavor.  How do we feel about getting childcare to do work for which you will likely never be paid? Or paid enough? It fills me with guilt, but I’m not sure how else writing gets done. Thoughts?

 

Faithfully yours, even in long bouts of unexplained absentia,

 

Deine Hipster Hausfrau

 


Attack Goose and Other Avian Narratives

Herr Husband has been traveling for work a lot lately, so I’ve had solo time with the Kinder. We’ve missed Herr Honey, of course, but we’ve been enjoying ourselves, too. The weather has been good, finally, and I had Lady Wine Night and have done some fun outings with the wee ones.

One adventure we had was at the duck pond I used to visit as a child. Back in the dizz, one could feed said ducks, but today there are signs up informing visitors that feeding the wildfowl is harmful to their health. So the Kinder and I planned to feed only ourselves with a picnic from Volante Farms (a world of yum) and settled ourselves onto a bench near the pond.

Look at that menacing gleam in his eye.

Look at that menacing gleam in his eye.

Enter Goose, white variety. He starts getting a bit close for comfort, so I calmly inform him about the no feeding the wildfowl signs. He gives me a look that says it would be impossible for him to give two goose shits about those signs. The he honks and bobs his head in a creepy cobra fashion. From stage left, enter Canadian Goose, who briefly distracts original goose (OG). They fight, and Canadian Goose decamps. Goose turns his attention to us again, so I throw a woodchip hoping he’ll think it’s food and run away in confusion. This trick fails (although it might work on Lil Liebchen, who appears totally convinced woodchips are food every time we go to the playground). Goose is enraged. He returns to our table, hissing at me and LL, who are seated on the side of the table closer to him. I pick her up and we join Das Big Boy on his side of the table. “The goose wants to steal our food,” he informs me. Right-o, DBB. Goose continues his pursuit and rude hissing and neck snaps. I put the Kinder on top of a nearby picnic table, telling them not to move as I frantically round up our picnic (because gods forbid Goose wins and we inadvertently break pond rules AND forsake our tasty, cheese based lunch !). Although it might be ok if LL left behind a bit of turkey as a thinly veiled threat. Anyway, I sweep up the food and the kiddos and we run to a bench a bit further afield. Das Big Boy was amused by my goose-inspired terror, which means he underappreciated my heroics in rescuing him from Goose rabies.

Goose of doom. Note size in comparison to child. No wonder I was afraid for the Kinder.

Goose of doom. Note size in comparison to child. No wonder I was afraid for the Kinder.

She's number one! Also, that's not a nosering, it's a scab. From her fingernail , not from her playground antics. So there.

She’s number one! Also, that’s not a nosering, it’s a scab. From her fingernail, not from her playground antics. So there.

You also need to know about Lil Liebchen at the playground, where I’m pretty sure she thinks she has some sort of official role. Completely unfazed by children four times her size, she climbs the stairs, selects a slide all by herself, walks over to it, and slides down. And she grins her apple cheeked grin the whole time. Unless you try to tell her that the climbing wall is not a slide. Then she flies into a woodchip hurling rage and makes me look like a bad mother. Actually, people think I’m a bad mother both when she’s adorably dominating the play structures and when she’s rolling around in woodchips, because her slight frame and baldish head make people think she’s like nine months old, and then why in the name of the gods am I allowing her to play so independently? Fortunately, I don’t give a hoot.

Which brings us to our other bird story, which is about who else: Big Boy Owl. He’s become a bit of a depressive. And by a bit of I mean major. Das Big Boy’s recent fascination with the range of human emotion has translated into protracted crying seshes for everyone’s favorite decrepit owl: “I miss Dorian (now recast as his mother). Wah wah. I bumped my nose. Wah wah. I’m hungry. Wah wah.” So today I encouraged Big Boy Owl to take three deep breaths, as I do with Das Big Boy, so we could identify the feeling and make a plan (I got this from an app that DBB enjoys–don’t judge). “But,” Big Boy Owl (as played by Das Big Boy, obvs, I haven’t lost it so much that I’m communing directly with the owl. Usually), informed me after he took his breaths,”I don’t want to feel better. I want to be sad. It’s a good sad.”

How awesome is that? My little dude who has sometimes struggled with negative emotions is now able to see the merits of a good sad. “Ok, Big Boy Owl,” I replied, “That works for me. You should honor your feelings. Do you know a word for a good sad?”

“No,” said the boy/Owl.

From our duck pond adventures. Both kids loved walking on the tree trunk. Das Big and getting bigger and not so Lil.  Lemoncholy indeed.

From our duck pond adventures. Both kids loved walking on the tree trunk. Das Big and getting bigger and not so Lil.
Lemoncholy indeed.

“Melancholy. Can you say melancholy.”

“Melancholy,” he repeated. “Melancholy. Lemoncholy.”

“Melancholy,” he said again. “It’s a good sad.”

 

And that’s how I feel about my little ones growing up. A bit Lemoncholy.

 


Poopstorm

Yes, the wee Husband Hausfraus have been struck by a poopstorm. A Poopocalypse (Now). Poopmageddon. Poopnado.

Das Big Boy and Little Liebchen are in the midst of a GI event. Thus far, it’s only caused frequent, explosive diarrhea (as opposed to the diarrhea and vomiting model so many of our friends’ kids have been rocking). KNOCK ON WOOD. Seriously. All of the wood.

In general, I’m able to keep a sense of humor when my life turns into one long succession of particularly grim diaper changes. It’s like when LL was a newborn and they would both cry at once and I would laugh at myself because it seemed like something out of a sitcom. Like that, only with poop. Did I mention that there was a lot of poop?

But this morning was a little sad because poor DBB had a fever and just felt crappy (figuratively in addition to literally). He lay down and watched two consecutive episodes of Sesame Street. For those of you who know him, this is a clear sign of how sick he was. In general, it’s almost impossible for him to sit still (unless he’s being read to–books are magic for him). I think it’s a preemie sensory thing, actually. After all, he was supposed to be in a delightful amniotic sea the last three months of his gestation. Instead, he spent six weeks cramped up in a popped balloon and then three months being poked, prodded, shuffled and splayed. So now he’s a superwiggler. But not this morning. He was downright lazy. He had a low fever, which I ordinarily wouldn’t treat, but he was so clearly unhappy that I wanted to try drugging him to see if it helped. Problem? I had no drugs. (Well, none of those drugs. But he seemed like Xanax was the last thing he needed).

So I put out an AMB (All Moms Bulletin) to my local mama pals (the group mentioned in yesterday’s post), and several wonderful ladies offered to help me out. Ladybird, who has two kiddos of her own, dropped off the (dye-free, of course) Motrin (not Tylenol, because I swear DBB’s body can tell the difference) and wouldn’t even take my money or complain about my annoyingly precise demands. Awesomeness.

I feel really lucky to have friends I can turn to in a shitstorm. It’s what everyone wants, and it’s nice as a stay-at-home-mom who’s been in the ‘burbs for a couple of years to know that I’ve built a community of folks to whom I can turn. In a way, it’s closer to college than anything I’ve had since. My friends are nearby, and I can ask for help when I need it.

This brings me to my final mushy point before I tell more poop stories: Ask your friends for help. I didn’t know how to do this when DBB was in the NICU. So HH and I hid out in our fox hole, and were lucky that our friends knew how to help without our asking: sending six red velvet cupcakes to us at the hospital, sending a peapod giftcard so we’d remember to eat, faking reasons to come to NYC or the way Upper West so they could visit us and DBB (then Das Fetal-Baby) without making us feel pressured, writing us emails or leaving us voicemails without expecting to hear back. Lots of other well meaning people asked what they could do and we said, “nothing,” as if we had it all under control. We didn’t. We were just in such a shitstorm that we didn’t even know what we needed. I learned from that the importance of knowing how to ask for help. And I learned that friends really want to help, so that when people ask or offer, it’s ok, even a good thing, to accept. It makes both of you feel good. So Ladybird, thank you. And I look forward to returning the favor. But hopefully not during a shitstorm, because I certainly don’t wish that on you.

The highlight of today went thusly:

I was upstairs with LL trying to get her down for a nap. She finally fell asleep and I gently deposited her in her crib. When I got downstairs, I found DBB in the living room standing very still.

“I need clean socks,” he told me.

I looked at him. “You’re wearing footie pajamas. Why do you need socks?”

“I need to go poop in the potty.” I got closer, “Oh, you made poop,” I said. “Do you want to go make more in the potty?” Note: Das Big Boy often likes to ask to use the potty after he’s already done so. In his diaper. He will also tell you before he’s going to poop or pee, but if you offer the potty he simply says. “No. I want to poop in the fireplace.” And then does (in a diaper).

As we walked to the bathroom, I began to suspect what awaited me. As if she did, too, LL started to wail upstairs. When DBB and I got to the safe zone, I took off his pajamas to find that poop had indeed run down to his feet. He was less than pleased, so I comforted him as I cleaned him up and then deposited him, now quite cheerful, on the potty.

I scampered upstairs and had started nursing LL again when I heard water, or at least something wet. Oh no, I thought, is he pooping on the floor? But it went on too long for that. I started downstairs, thinking Maybe he’s washing his hands. Yeah. Maybe.

I arrived to an overflowing toilet. I tried to keep LL out of the bathroom while I grabbed towels to block the flow of water. She responded with a poop of her own. I lifted the back off of the toilet tank to stop the water from running. DBB thought it looked fun, lifted the tank lid and dropped it back on the tank such that the lid broke. As I tried to contain the poop, water, and hysteria, I tried calling HH to share the fun news from home. But he couldn’t hear me over the chaos. In an exasperated tone, as if he were the only one having a busy day, he told me to call from the home phone. So I sent him this picture with the text “And flooded bathroom.”

toilet

I’m sorry to report that your only media today will be this photo of my broken toilet. The children are poopballs and were not photographed. To compensate, I have made the photograph of the toilet extra large.

“That is not good,” he replied.

“I’ve noticed.” I wrote.

I put DBB in the bathtub, mopped up the bathroom, and changed LL’s diaper. She has diaper rash, of course, which I am treating with the hippie mom approach of breastmilk and coconut oil, so that when she doesn’t smell like cat poop she smells like an umbrella drink.

I think the total shitstorm count was LL: 7 DBB: 5. Could be worse, I realize.

Let’s hope it doesn’t get worse. Let’s also hope it gets better before I’m supposed to be drinking actual umbrella drinks in St. Thomas. Six days from now. Don’t hate. I’m pretty sure I got poop in my hair today.


Nothin’ but a Nudie Party

First of all, the title of this post is intended to recall this song:

For some reason, I think this 2Pac/Snoop hit occupies a much larger place in my mental musical canon than almost anyone else in America’s. I’m constantly referencing it at mildly inappropriate times. Like when Little Liebchen gets together with a crew of one year olds and I say to the other moms, “Ain’t nothin’ but a baby party…” And they respond by politely ignoring me. Or wondering if I’ve got some chronic I might be willing to share.

Anyway, it also applies to tonight’s topic: the nudie party, which is what Das Big Boy calls the sometimes brief, sometimes extended chunk of time after his bath during which he is allowed to frolic about in the altogether. Once, during a speech assessment (which he nailed, obvs. DBB may not like to talk to other children, but he is off the charts verbal when given the chance to show off for an adult), he was asked what you do after a bath. “Have a nudie party,” he answered. The speech pathologist looked to me for clarification, or maybe to gauge how she could get me out of her office to call social services. I offered up my best kids-will-be-kids smile and my weakest explanation, then asked DBB what he did before a nudie party. Thankfully, he answered correctly and didn’t talk about his penis.

Anyway, I should probably come clean about something. I am a naked person. I believe the world is divided up into two types of people: naked people and nonnaked people (or the clotheds.) There is a third category of naked when drunk people, but I think they’re mostly repressed nakeds or freespirited clotheds. Naked people are comfortable being naked. Clotheds people are not. There is nothing remotely sexual about being a naked person. In fact, once, back before we were married, Herr Husband suggested I might wear clothes to dinner more often. “What!?” I replied, “I’m sure lots of guys would find it sexy if their girlfriends ate dinner naked!”

“But you’re not trying to be sexy,” he replied. “You haven’t brushed your hair in three days and you’re all slouched over and you’re kind of sweaty “

“It’s hot in this apartment,” I defended myself, “Hence, the nudity.”

My naked cooking (beware spattering oil–ouch!), naked laundry (yeah, right), and naked lounging earned similar levels of enthusiasm.

My college roommate and I were both naked people, although not, I recall, at the same time. When we lived in a first floor dorm room with a large bay window, this led to people occasionally knocking on our door and saying polite things like, “Um, I just wanted you to know your curtains are open and I can see you,” or “You should shave your legs.” I always thanked them as if I cared and did nothing further. I think nudity is like a booger: you tell a friend, but you don’t go out of your way to tell a stranger. And yes, I went to college in New Hampshire but they heated the holy hell out of those dorm rooms.

I also once attended a party which ended with a group of friends naked in a very small hot tub. We debated the finer points of politics and bickered about who would survive in a zombie apocalypse. It was one of the least sexual experiences of my life.

All of this is to say that I have a long history of nonsexual nudity as laziness and temperature control rather than as a way of showing off my body or some silly thing like that (I think clothes are much better for showing off one’s body, especially after one has breastfed a baby, never mind a baby with a strong right sided boob preference which has led to the sudden development of a mismatched pair, or eternal conflict, if you will. You are SO going to look for this development next time I see you, dear reader, I know you are.)

But this brings about a conversation I somewhat recently had with a group of my mom friends: at what age does it become inappropriate to bathe with one’s kid? In my case, boy kid. Herr Husband and I always had family bath with DBB until I became pregnant enough with LL that it was uncomfortable to fit us all in the tub. We treasured these family baths as a way to spend time together. And now I bathe with DBB and LL. When I shared this with my friends, a lot of them said they had never bathed with their kids. On the hippie mom spectrum, I think I’m one of the more out there ones among this particular crew. I’m pretty sure they thought my bathing with kids was as surprising as I found their never having done so. Of course, my parenting philosophy, if I were to have one, would be called Lazy Parenting (there will be a post on this). Do whatever is easiest for you (with lots of love, of course). It’s easier to bathe with a kid than to reach into the bathtub. So bathe with kids. Added bonus of contained, distraction-free time together.

CG Toga

Dinner at the Husband Hausfraus. Togas, diapers, Herr Husband in a white t-shirt. It’s like college all over again.

After tonight’s bath, DBB had his nudie party, and LL enjoyed a brief one as well (she’s too young to be a reliable non-peer). Meanwhile, I cooked dinner in the buff (I now know to stand back). But when it came time to sit at the table, I felt a bit funny doing so with no clothes on. So I donned a Curious George toga. The kids ate dinner in diapers and HH wore his undies and a T-shirt. (It should be noted that we keep the house at 73 degrees in order for the kids’ rooms to be warm enough. Our furnace is very efficient, I promise, lest I erode some hippie cred.)

So I guess my answer to my own question is I’ll know when it’s time to stop the group baths, just like I knew it was time to put that toga on. And like I know I shouldn’t go to a naked hot tub party again unless everyone else is really, really drunk and it’s so dark that you can’t see my boobs.

Feel free to share you pro/anti-nudie thoughts in the comments!


The A List

We had a wee bit of snow last night into this morning (maybe four to five inches of light, powdery stuff), but the public school district that governs Das Big Boy’s preschool made an early call, so we had a snow day.

Das Big Boy slept in, and Little Liebchen woke me up for the second morning in a row with the sweetest, clearest little, “Mama,” and big grin.

“Hold on!” You say, “I thought you were done co-sleeping.” We are. But when she wakes up at five or six am, I bring her to bed with me, nurse her, and then she sleeps for several more hours (until 7:45 today). Yes, you can all hate on me for my late sleeping children. Das Big Boy slept until 8:30. But he gave up his nap shortly after turning two, and his sister sucks at napping as well, so don’t begrudge me my nights.

20140122-222643.jpgToday we frolicked in the snow, played with the awesome ball tower, and watched some Sesame Street. If that sounds too idyllic, some of us also had temper tantrums because we “hate all the food!” and suffered two time outs for sister-pushing when she was trying to horn in on our toys. And we had to shovel out because HH is on a business trip luxuriating in hotel sleep. While I shoveled, the kids played/sat (depending on age) in the snow until LL’s nose got red and then I popped them in the car until I finished. I just made it sound like I am a damsel because HH always shovels (which he almost always does), but really it’s just a challenge to figure out where to stash one’s children while shoveling. Someone should invent a heated tent or something.

This evening we went to dinner with Dr G. and her adorable wee ones. A good time was had by all (although DBB continued to hate all the food such that I had to practically feed him his pizza, which he currently wants to eat in a genteel, Bill de Blasio knife and fork fashion.) Dr G.’s daughter found the entire notion of going out late (it was 5:30) to restaurants (it was pizza in suburbia, though she’s right that it was yuppie pizza) to be akin to being a movie star.

Gisele-Bündchen-giseleofficial-instagram-breastfeeding-photo-posted-12.10.2013

A movie star like this. Except Gisele is a model. And except with a breastpump and ice cream and without looking beautiful or potentially exposing my children to nail polish and hair product chemicals and fumes (it was dinner with Dr. G., after all). And to be fair, I did some breastfeeding there, too. And drank wine. So maybe I shouldn’t be so judgy.

I kept up the glam by doing the following in the span of forty minutes: changing two diapers, getting two kids in jammies, reading to the baby (Todd Parr’s The I Love You Book), nursing/singing to the baby, putting the baby to sleep, brushing the toddler’s teeth, reading two books to the toddler (Todd Parr’s The I Love You Book and Jonathan Allen’s I’m Not Scared), Facetime singing three songs to the toddler with HH, kissing the toddler goodnight, listening to the toddler briefly holler for me, cleaning three cat boxes (yes, we still have two cats which is a sad story I’ll discuss at another time), and taking our trash and recycling out. At this point I felt more rock star than movie star. (Although it’s been pointed out to me that calling someone a rock star when they accomplish something challenging is silly. We should call them something more heroic. So I felt like a nurse or a teacher or a single parent). Then I pumped while eating ice cream and watching Modern Family, which really did feel like something movie stars would do.

 


Suburban Hippie Mom Problems

It was a struggle to figure out what to get Lil Liebchen for her first birthday. I’m historically not-so-psyched about gendered toys (which has totally backfired. Thanks to Das Big Boy, I can name every construction vehicle ever invented, and even the most obscure trains from the Island of Sodor). Plus, gendered toys don’t usually emerge until around age two. We already have pretty much every developmental toy you would want for a one year old (when you have a preemie, you’ll buy anything you think will foster his development, and early intervention practitioners are constantly hinting about the benefits of all kinds of bouncers and balls and walkers and ride on toys). So I was at a loss for what our Lil Liebchen might need.

I thought about an organic bean bag chair, but those are expensive. It would make more sense buy her a sack of organic rice and hope it doesn’t eventually produce weevils or something. Then I asked around of parents of multiple kids. A doll, they suggested. Now of course I had a wee sexism freakout, but then I realized Das Big Boy has several dolls: Otto, Ernesto, and Samantha.

Samantha

And finally, Samantha. Turns out I should have taken better care of her because according to the internet she is now worth lots of money.

Meet Otto, who at the time looked eerily like Das Big Boy.

ernesto
Meet Ernesto. He never looked like Das Big Boy. Also, we had a hard time naming him because it seemed stereotypical to give him a traditionally black name, but like we were trying too hard not to be stereotypical by giving him a traditionally white name. So we made him Hispanic and (sort of?) avoided the whole issue. (Also, it should be noted that Das Big Boy’s real name is the same as a famous black TV character, so yes, there are obviously names without racial assumptions. But still. These are the conundra you face as a (white) suburban hippie mom trying to teach about racial justice. That was a long f-ing caption.

So I didn’t have to feel terrible about getting Little Liebchen a doll, because it’s not some act of female containment. I like dolls for Das Big Boy because I think they foster his sense of nurturing and encourage his pretend play; don’t I want the same for my daughter? (Let’s not go too far down this road. After all, I’d rather DBB become obsessed with Disney princesses than LL. Perhaps we can explore that later.) So I started researching dolls. Lots of folks love the Corolle dolls for their kids, but a quick search told me they’re made of vinyl! Vinyl!! We don’t even have a vinyl shower curtain (although we do have a giant vinyl bounce hut that both kids love, so we’re not batting 100% on this one. Sorry, Dr. G. I promise not to let your kids play in it). Now I know everyone’s kid has a doll made of vinyl, and people of my generation probably wore vinyl pajamas and underpants and headgear, and they turned out fine but once it was in my head, I at least wanted to look at the crunchy-mom doll options.

This is what I call falling down a Hippie Mom Google Hole. I looked for organic dolls, then rediscovered the notion of Waldorf dolls (natural materials, hand made, neutral facial expressions to encourage open-ended play) and quickly came across Bamboletta.

Sidebar: whenever I say Bamboletta, I sing it like this:

Bamboletta dolls are made in Canada of local wool and fancy imported Dutch doll cotton. They’re sewn by a collective of women, mostly moms. They are one-of-a-kind, handmade, and apparently very difficult to acquire. They have handmade clothes and specially styled hair and because they are stuffed with wool they’re naturally antibacterial and soak up the smell of home. Each Friday, the Bamboletta ladies upload the dolls they’ve made that week (somewhere between fifty and seventy), and people snap them up instantly. The day I sought out LL’s birthday gift, 4200 people attempted to buy fifty dolls.

Petunia

Meet Petunia.

It was a case of first time being the charm. Actually, it was a case of their website having a problem and my somehow being lucky enough to work around the glitch and land Petunia. I admit, it was quite the rush. In fact, despite having spent what can only be considered an excessive amount on a doll for a one year old, I find myself returning on Fridays to see if I can at least “cart” (when you land the doll and have five minutes to pay for it) a boy doll for Das Big Boy (I guess I am gendered). So far, no luck. But it’s like gambling (which I don’t enjoy) for hippie parents.

Petunia arrived (after I aggressively stalked her shipping progress on the Canada Post website) looking lovely–the care that goes into the making of these dolls really is impressive–and smelling of a piece of delicious goat’s milk soap that Bamboletta had gifted me. But I decided she should smell like home, so I wore her in a big nursing bra I had from right after LL was born, and slept with the doll between my boobs. Herr Husband found this hilarious-slash-creepy. But then when I brought LL to bed with us to nurse her early in the morning, he had to cuddle Petunia to hide her from LL, so the doll picked up his scent as well. As a final touch, I wrapped Petunia with a dirty tank top that I’d been wearing for two days to ensure she’d really smell like home. (Sidebar, I have found that co-sleeping causes one side of one’s baby’s head to smell like one’s armpit. Discuss.) (Double sidebar: I do not believe my showering frequency has improved since the end of bedrest).

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She seems pleased.

Here is Lil Liebchen’s reaction to Petunia. She definitely likes her, particularly her hair, because as I’ve noted previously, LL likes to eat fuzz.

I have grand visions that Petunia and Lil Liebchen will be BFFLs. For now, while happy to stroke Petunia’s locks, she still prefers her “beh-beh,” a Circo doll given to her by her cousins, who were obsessed with these dolls and own like 1000 of them, all named after Das Big Boy in various colors and modifications (one had yellow tattoos, I believe. He was Yellow Das Big Boy.)

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The baldness may make them kindred spirits…

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Yum!

I’m strategically offering both dolls now, and allowing Petunia in the crib for maximum hair fondling and bonding. (That sounds awful. Sorry.) And I do believe that Petunia will be the pal I intend her to be. So the moral of this story is not  that you shouldn’t buy fancy hippie dolls for your one-year-old (although if she winds up smearing strawberries on Petunia and staining her, that may be my message). But I believe that your kid’s going to like what he or she is going to like. She’s going to be who she’s going to be. We have some influence, sure. But not as much as we’d like to think. So go forth, Lil Liebchen. Eat your baby’s head. Rub Petunia’s hair. As long as you’re happy, and reasonably safe, I’m happy too.


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