So the Fish Said...

Whoever you are, now I place my hand upon you, that you be my poem, I whisper with my lips close to your ear.

- Walt Whitman

Meet the Fish

I want to get a pet duck and keep it in the bathtub.
I am addicted to chap stick and altoids.
I am freakishly flexible.

World's Most Beautiful Child


World's Most Handsome Child


Other Important Things

Clive Owen

Clive Owen
Pretend Celebrity Boyfriend

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Happy Second New Year's Eve in a Row When Beth is in Bed by 10:00

Dear Internets,

Thank you for sharing this year with me, my life would be poorer without all of you. Now, give yourselves a great big, wet smackarooni from me and go party like it's 1999 or something except without the whole Y2K fear thingy that had us all hiding in underground bunkers on New Year's Eve. Or was that just me?

Love and other indoor sports,

Soul Man

Last night, as the three of us were lying on the floor getting ready to read Goodnight Moon, I glanced across our beautiful daughter and noticed that my husband was sporting a soul patch. We discussed it briefly, and then he went and shaved it off. Do you think maybe it was something I said?

For those of you who are as obsessed with my beautiful child as I am, Christmas pictures taken by my soul man husband are here.

Apparently, I'm it

So I was tagged weeks ago by Swiftyjess and am finally getting around to doing something about it. I am supposed to tell you five weird things about myself, but am feeling confessional tonight so instead will give you five confessions.

1) When we are feeling especially brain-dead and lazy, Chris and I sometimes watch home shopping. We've done it for years. Sometimes we will go months without a home shopping fix, and other times we will watch every day for a week. We get something like 14 home shopping channels, so there is a lot to choose from. We have never bought anything... until last night. I'm a home shopper!

2) I worked at Food Lion for a few months after college. Did I ever tell you about Food Lion? (You know what I love about the internet that also terrifies me? I would say there is a 60% chance that someone will leave a comment saying "oh yeah, you told us about Food Lion a year ago on March 9," or something like that.) I have this big long speech I give about why Food Lion was a valuable job experience, but the fact is that I didn't want to get a real job or move and it was right behind my apartment.

3) I owe Hillary Stevens an apology. I don't quite have the gumption to track her down and apologize, but in case she ever googles herself and finds this, here it is. Hillary, I don't know if this is worth anything to you, but 14 years later I still feel bad for what I did. I am not asking for your forgiveness, I just wanted to tell you that I am sorry.

4) I am trying to learn how to disagree without judging, but the truth is that I am a big judgy judging judger. I know, where do I get off, right? I'm not proud of it, but there it is.

5) After my plea for playgroups for Mia last week, I have arranged to meet up with two lovely people who are in my area and have been very friendly and kind in offering to get together with me. (Hi, ladies!) I am desperate to think of a way to get out of it because I am terrified of meeting new people and usually make a complete ass of myself. But you see how clever I am? Now that I have posted this I can't weasel out because they will know I am just being weasely no matter what I say. So now that my hands are tied I can try to stop worrying about it and look forward to it instead (if this does not make them think I am a freakazoid and cause them to weasel out, that is).

You know what, that was strangely cathartic. You should do it to. Leave me a confession and then we will all be catharticized together.

Here comes Mia Claus

Merry Christmas from the whole Cactus-Fish family.

Five Months

Mia Bean,

You are five months old today and I can't quite wrap my brain around that fact. The last five months have gone very quickly, but this last month especially has flown by. You are learning so much and changing so much every day that I hardly know where to begin to describe you.

Last Friday, you weighed 18 pounds and 3 ounces. Your feet, which I think look like doughy dinner rolls with toes, are the same length as my palm. Your legs are as long as my forearm and your arms are as long as my hand. You are far too big to fit entirely in my mouth, so I have decided to slurp you through a straw instead.

This month you learned to laugh and I spend all my time trying to make you do it. One sure-fire way is to wash your face with a washcloth, but only at night when we are getting ready for bed because it simply isn't funny any other time of day. You also learned how to produce an ear-splitting screech which you use to show that you are either upset or bored or happy or maybe just to turn the Christmas tree lights on and off (they are plugged into the Clapper your father gave me for my birthday last month).

You also learned to roll from your back to your stomach. Unfortunately, you seem to have forgotten how to roll from your stomach to your back, so once you are there you are stuck until I rescue you. You don't mind being on your tummy so much anymore and will stay that way for several minutes. I think you have realized that that way lies mobility, and you are desperate to move. You are starting to get your knees up under you, but can't quite push all the way up on your arms yet.

Earlier this month you saw a little girl (about your size, actually) walking. You were fascinated. You squirmed and fussed until I stood you up on the floor and then just stared and stared. Since then, you have very little patience with lying down and only slightly more with sitting up. You want to stand up all the time and you love when I get on my knees with you in front of me and "walk" you around the room. If wishing made it so, you would already be running around the house.

You don't have much interest in mirrors, and I wondered why that was until I realized that you already know what they are. Instead of gazing raptly at the baby in the mirror, you turn around to look for the objects that are being reflected. I tell myself that you cannot possibly have figured this out, but watching you there can be no other explanation.

You have always loved my hair, and now you are accurate and strong enough to reach out and give it a good hard yank. Between all the hair you are losing and the hair you pull out of my head I think we are shedding more than the cats. You also like to pull your father's hair, but it is too short to get a grip on. You yank out handfuls of the cats' fur every chance you get and I am in a constant race to get it out of your fingers before you cram it into your mouth.

You still refuse to take a bottle or pacifier, and you like to play with the sippy cup but become very angry if milk comes out of it. You are sleeping much better at night (we went back to swaddling) but napping is still a real problem. However, twice this week I put you down in your bed and you (eventually) fell asleep (with me there singing and shaking the mattress, but I still think it is progress).

You are starting to like other people a bit, as long as they keep their distance. You will smile at your grandparents as long as your father and I are holding you, but handing you over guarantees an instant scream. You recognize your own name, although I am a bit confused you are going to think it is really Mia Bean.

I was talking to your father last night about how wonderful you are and how beautiful you are. That is practically all we talk about anymore. We are both so in awe of you that we have to force ourselves to focus on anything else. We also discussed how much we have both come to love you over the past five months and how that love just keeps growing. As I told your father, it is a strange feeling to know that I would jump off a building for you without a second of hesitation. I want no matter what for you to always know that you are that loved and adored.

I've been thinking a lot lately about what I thought this would be like and how wrong I was in what I thought. My life is nothing like it was before and nothing like I imagined it would be, but I am madly in love with it. Thank you for this new life.


Odds and Ends

- You are all very nice. Have you lost weight? I love that shirt on you. Thank you for saying kind things about the picture in my last post. When I get time (ha) I will post the three pictures taken immediately before that one and you can all laugh at how hideous I look. Mia is gorgeous in every one, naturally.

- Yes, Mia is ginormous. She was 18 pounds 3 ounces last Friday and gaining a little more than half a pound a week. You should see my biceps. I adore that she is so big and healthy and chubby, but it does make it harder to fit her entirely into my mouth.

- When I came home with four brand new chap sticks, Chris asked me if he could have one. I said no. I have given him chap sticks before and he loses them. Also, I have already used three of my new ones to replace empty tubes and therefore only have one extra which I need to keep in case of emergency. (I have chap stick in 5 strategic locations. Is that overkill? It was more when I was working and had to stock my office.)

- This is a co-sleeper. Mia is still in hers and I highly recommend it. I wish we had gotten ours in the beginning because it would have been great to have right after Mia was born when getting up out of bed to check on her was a long and painful process. Now, you are only supposed to use this thing up to 5 months, but Mia cannot yet get onto her hands and knees and has shown no inclination to pull up on anything, so does anybody know whether she can keep sleeping in her co-sleeper until she does those things?

- Samosas are Indian stuffed pastry things and are fabulously delicious. The secret to making them is to fry them. People will try to convince you that you can bake them and they are just as good, but those people are lying.

- Does anybody have any recommendations on how I can get Mia into a playgroup? I don't know very many people with kids near her age and have a terribly hard time meeting new people but she is so thrilled by other babies I really need to find something. I have considered putting up signs in my neighborhood, but that seems a little... well... odd. So, any ideas? Or are any of you living in the suburbs west of D.C. with a baby and, you know, not insane evil stalkers? Also, can you do playgroups at Starbucks?

- Hey, you know how I used to respond to all my comments? And sometimes even comment on your blogs? Can't get it done. So which is better, to respond to comments (more regularly) or comment on blogs (more regularly)? I think comment, but then some of you don't have blogs so I feel like I am neglecting you, but the child does not nap.

- I think that's it. If you have asked me anything lately that I didn't answer and you still have a burning desire (or mild curiosity, or obsession with every small detail of my life, or just nothing better to do) let me know and I will try to answer.

- Kiss kiss.

Me me me. Oh, and also me.

I hate having my picture taken. Because I am vain. Vain, vain, vain. Also, if you took 100 pictures of me, I would put good money, and lots of it, on my having my eyes closed in 99 of those pictures. Except usually not entirely closed, more like half closed or three-quarters closed so I look not so much like I blinked but like I am either really stoned or have just been knocked unconscious and am only an instant away from collapsing to the floor in a heap. In addition, those 99 pictures would also feature my hair doing something weird or my mouth being half open or a camera angle specifically designed to make me look like I weigh 40 pounds more than I do. In the one picture where my eyes were open, I would have a massive coffee stain on my shirt and something in my teeth. Also, pictures of me don't look very much like me. You wouldn't think this would be possible, I mean, a photograph is a photograph, right? Only with me, not so much. Now it may be that I have an over-inflated sense of my own attractiveness, but whenever I see a picture of myself my first reaction is that I don't really look like that. (I am noticing the same thing with Mia - pictures of her have only a passing resemblance to actual her.) To sum up, I do not photograph well.

Which is why last night as Chris and I were looking for pictures of Mia to foist off on unsuspecting relatives as Christmas gifts, I was shocked to discover a picture of me from Thanksgiving where 1) my eyes are entirely open, 2) my mouth is closed, 3) other than a small piece in front of my eyes my hair looks ok, and 4) I actually look like pretty much what I look like. So, I thought I would share.

Also, my god but I have a beautiful baby.


Dear Safeway Cashier,

This may come as a surprise to you, but I was not eager to discuss my Chap stick addiction with you. I admit that I have a problem, but it does not make me a bad person and I'm not entirely sure where you got off lecturing me about it. I mean, I had enough tact to avoid mentioning your obvious addiction to unfortunate hairstyles and poor dental care. All I ask from you is the same courtesy. I'm sure I am not the first person to come through your line with a loaf of french bread and four Chap sticks.


O Christmas Tree

We finally got our Christmas tree up this week, and it got me to thinking about my Christmas tree memories. I have lots of time for thinking these days as it does not require too much mental capacity to sing songs about poop (such as the Simon and Garfunkel classic "Feelin' Poopy.") Now, just imagine some trippy music and a gentle camera fade as we move on to Beth's Christmas Tree Memories...

Growing up, my younger brother had a "Baby's First Christmas" ornament from the year he was born. I did not have one. I asked my mother (repeatedly) why this was and got a series of bald-faced lies as excuses, such as they did not make such ornaments the year I was born. Finally in desperation, my mother made me a Baby's First Christmas ornament. Touching, yes? Not so much. You know those ornaments that are just plastic balls wrapped in red string? She took one of those and a sharpie and wrote "Baby's First Christmas 1974" on it. Mom isn't exactly crafty. The lack of a Baby's First Christmas ornament was a source of great sorrow for me and emotionally damaged me for life and I am not even kidding about that. Then yesterday, as I was out with Mia buying her a Baby's First Christmas ornament, I had a Brilliant Idea! I would get on Ebay and buy myself my very own Baby's First Christmas 1974 ornament and thereby heal 31 years of psychic pain. Surely, I thought, I would find one on Ebay. You can find anything on Ebay. Not so much, and therefore I am still suffering.

Moving on, when I was eight or nine I insisted that my parents buy the Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving. I think the tree was a little dry to start with, and by the day after Christmas when we took it down, there were far more needles piled on the carpet than were still on the tree. One night, my best friend spent the night and we slept on the pull out couch in the same room as the Christmas tree. We got very little sleep, however, as we were too busy amusing the heck out of ourselves by blowing gently in the direction of the tree and listening to hundreds of needles fall to the ground each time we did it. Sounds pretty lame now, but trust me it was great fun.

And finally, round about 1997 or 1998 (I can date it because I remember we were in our crappy old apartment) Chris and I were putting up our tree. We had one of those metal stands with the legs that you jam into slots on the bowl, and which apparently was designed for a tree somewhat smaller and considerably less crooked than the tree we had selected. We could not get that tree to stand up for love or money. At some point, we hit upon the clever idea of tying a rope around the trunk and tying the other end to one of the legs of the stand as some sort of counter-balance. Yeah, it didn't work. We finally admitted that we needed a new tree stand (which I was grumpy about, we were pretty poor at this point) and I headed out to the hardware store to get one. I will never forget the scene when I returned. Chris was sitting on the floor next to the tree with his back against the wall and clinging desperately to the rope that was preventing the tree from toppling over. Maybe you had to be there, but trust me, it was hilarious.

What about you guys? Any good/bad/weird Christmas tree memories?

Since we're talking about my breasts

Yesterday I dumped, oh, I don't know, a gallon of breastmilk down the sink along with two half-eaten and freezer burned pints of Ben and Jerry's. I was more upset about the ice cream than the milk. The reasons for this are twofold:

1) Mia will not under any circumstances accept milk from any dispenser other than the breast. In the event that she accidentally gets some milk out of the bottle or sippy cup that she has been happily playing with she becomes irate and screams until I remove the offending object from her sight. She is Not. Having. It. So, most of that milk was pumped to keep my boobs from exploding (see item 2).

2) I have milk coming out the, well, I have a lot of milk. Seriously, if you know some hungry triplets you should send them my way. My breasts may be small and rather lopsided and not highly attractive, but they sure can lactate. Go boobs. So that gallon of milk was nuthin' - give me lots of water and a couple hours and I'll feed every baby within a four mile radius.

I did consider donating to a milk bank, but you have to donate 100 ounces, and that's an awful lot of pumping considering that Mia would not have a drop of it so I am selfish and never did it. Sue me.

And just since we are on the subject, am I the only one who thinks the business end of a breast pump really ought to be opaque? I mean, nobody needs to see that.

With that, I am going to try my hardest to not post a single thing about my breasts for, let's say one week minimum. However, before the moratorium I have to mention that today is the third day in a row that I have returned from running errands to discover that one or both sides of my nursing bra is unhooked. I make motherhood look hot.


I used to keep vodka in my freezer. Now, I have this:

Sadly, it is all too old and destined for the drain.

Help Wanted

Internet, I need a clever idea and since I have not had a clever idea on my own in many months I am turning to you for help. The lovely and charming (and also Dutch) Sweety is expecting a little bundle of joy in 7 weeks and I must send her a truly excellent and wonderful baby gift. Now, Sweety lives in a windmill and on her way to work each day skips through tulips in her wooden shoes pausing only to stick her fingers into leaky dikes. She sent Mia her very own little wooden shoes, which never fit and believe you me that I was hugely disappointed by that because I was really looking forward to making Mia wear them. Anyway, I have been trying to think of a very American baby gift to send Sweety in return, and so far all I can think of is a mullet, which would be hard to ship. So help me out, Internet. Any ideas?

Two step process

Step One: Go here.

Step Two: Come back and tell me I have the cutest kid you have ever seen ever.

Meme infection

Ali managed to infect me all the way from Canada, source of hockey, beer and weather. This started as five random facts, but apparently the symptoms get worse as time goes on, and since Ali has an infant plus two older kids to contend with, if she can manage ten I guess I can too. Anyway, here are ten random things you never wanted to know about me:

1. I despise any attempt to require adults to wear costumes against their will. Mainly, this applies to Halloween and pressure to wear a costume to the office.

2. Sometimes when my husband is snoring I kick him harder than is strictly necessary to get him to stop just because it annoys me.

3. I get along with men much better than I get along with women.

4. I am a Grade A control freak. What? You knew that already? I have no idea how.

5. You should not fight with me, because if you do I will bring up something you did 8 years ago that I am still pissed about, just for extra ammunition.

6. Things I can do either moderately well or moderately badly: play the piano, knit, speak Spanish and Attic Greek, sing, paint my own toenails, tap dance.

7. Things I can do very well: make samosas, organize, drink wine, take tests, act like a snob.

8. The only places I have been outside the U.S. are Quebec, Tiajuana and France. That is in chronological order and also in least favorite to most favorite order.

9. The places I most want to go outside the U.S. are Italy, Athens and Kenya.

10. If you gave me $1000 and told me to spend it entirely on myself, I would find it difficult to impossible to do so. I might be able to manage $100.

I am supposed to tag 10 more people to do this, but if I had time to enter 10 links I would use the time to brush my teeth. So, do it if you wanna and leave me a comment so I can check out your answers.

Winter wonderland

Apropos of nothing, Mia rolled from her back to her belly on Tuesday night. She was hugely disappointed to find that all her hard work got her was onto her belly, which she despises. Don't think she will be doing that again soon.

And now for our regularly scheduled post...

We got our first (teeny bit of) snow earlier this week, and it was the first time I really missed my job. I loved snowy days at the office. First of all, lots of people who can't figure out how to drive in half an inch of snow stay home, so it is pretty quiet. The people who do show up come in late with pink cheeks from shoveling, wearing boots (ten hole Docs in my case) and jeans and big wooly sweaters. For the entire day, the office smells slightly damp and fresh. My office window looked out on an unused building and woods, so I could watch the snow fall and blow entirely undisturbed, except for an occasional kid who had come to work with their parent when the schools closed and decided to try sledding down the hill outside my window on a cafeteria tray.

A snow day just isn't as much fun when you don't get to spend it remarking on how much is or is not coming down and what the roads may be like and how far everyone has to go to get home. The trade-off was worth it though. Instead of a snowy day in my office, I bundled Mia up in a big fluffy blanket and took her outside to see her very first snow (we had some before Thanksgiving, but she was in bed). She giggled when the snowflakes started hitting her nose.

Good news. OK news. Bad news.

Mia is napping!

On my lap.

Must pee.

No post for you!

I'm posting to say that I won't be posting today. Um, well, anyway. Chris and I are appearing over at Mommybloggers this week so you should go check us out over there. Yesterday saw a hard-hitting interview with only one use of the word "poop" and some lovely comments that we bribed fellow bloggers to make about us. (Don't feel left out, now that we are down to one income the bribes were pretty small.) Today you can check out a joint post that we slaved over for days and days (that's our story and we're sticking with it) and which references baby vomit and wild monkey sex. Not to be missed, I assure you. So what are you waiting for? A couple of weeks ago the huge fan base of the featured blogger crashed the server over at Mommybloggers and I will feel very unloved if the server stays up all day today.

Happy Birthday!

Happy birthday to my old man, who is and always will be young at heart.

Teaching Mia how the world works

Last night, we offered to give Mia $20 if she would go to sleep the first time I put her to bed and stay asleep (more or less) all night. It turned out to be an offer she could not refuse.

Or course, as soon as we paid up she decided to showcase her fairly new talent of picking things up...

... and cramming them straight into her mouth.

Apparently we need to do some work on the concept.