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Month: December, 2009

Professing my love for celebrities and taking a hiatus.

In the words of N*SYNC:

Digital digital get down.

And by “get down,” I mean “get rid.”

That word play didn’t really make sense. And now you’re all confused.

What I’m trying to say is that for the first week of the New Year, of the new decade, of 2010 I shall be participating in a digital cleanse.  A whudda? (And no, this isn’t like the creepy LEMONADE cleanse I attempted back in ’07 to purify and detox my system. Read: lots and lots of runny poop). This is an attempt to rid myself of my attachment (addiction?) to my iPhone and the instantaneity of responding to people via Twitter, Facebook, and email from the palm of my hand. I lived for years without these technologies, yet why do I have trouble envisioning my life without them now? Why is it I feel compelled to email someone instantly upon receipt? Why do I feel this NEED to check my inbox the moment the ding of my iPhone chimes in a new message? Aside from being obsessive, it’s not safe when I find myself reaching for my phone while driving thanks to its vibrations of new mail. And why have I wasted hours of my life looking at facebook photos and status updates that at times make me question or feel dissatisfied with my own life? Why should these virtual communities have that influence on my personal reflections? And why do I check the stats on my blog religiously after posting to see how many people care about what I have to say? I started this thing as a space for myself to process the experience of motherhood and to one day share that story with my daughter who made it possible. Why, then, has it become just another technological compulsion and emotional compass?

So, to help sort out these questions, I shall rid myself of emailing, texting, tweeting, facebooking, and blogging (except for work related/academic necessity). This will free up my time for that looming thesis I can’t stop talking about, and force me to connect with friends via the HANDwritten word or an actual phone call, where I use my phone to  ya know, SPEAK with someone. What I’m saying is, I’ll be out of digital range from January 1- January 8. I’m not looking for some crazy, life-altering revelation, just a chance to get back to basics. I’ve been there before. Why not now?

The digital cleanse is an idea conjured up and advocated for by none other than my soul mate (prior to meeting James, of course), John Mayer. Yes, this man is on my “list.” You know, the list of celebs couples create so that if hell froze over and the opportunity presented itself one would be able to sleep with said celeb with a Get Out of Jail Free card. Yep, I have a thing for musicians or those that are musically inclined (thus the reason why my pulse raises at the thought of James bedecked in his high school marching band paraphernalia and I get hot just listening to his old college a capella albums) (yeah, they recorded albums, N-B-D). Also, John Mayer, he is tall. And for a gal who is six feet, and as described by my college roomie who stands in at 5’2”, I come from a family of “heightests.” We like our men tall. Even my bitty baby sister (5’6” = bitty in the Ulmer household) who decided to bust out of my momma’s womb six weeks early (apparently that’s what you get for being impatient) needs a man that is 6 foot plus. In college, during those “experimental” years, I may have dabbled in dating a man a half foot shorter than myself, but we all see how the ended… I’m married to a band geek, but damn it, he is six feet TWO inches. Which means, when I’m not wearing heels, he can see over the top of my head. Bam! TALL!

I was actually confronted face to face with John Mayer’s Ulmer-approved stature back in summer of 2002 when my hetero-life mate and I were living in San Francisco and, thanks to a high school buddy of my mom’s who is a baller in the music industry, we got free front row tix and back stage passes to one of JM’s shows. When we got back stage, I spotted John sitting (brooding?) alone, waiting to go on stage, harnessing all that sexy-musician-energy and I, of course (because I am a large, loud, bubbling fool) rather ungracefully made by approach. I was completely unprepared for what came next. John stood and so filled with shock and awe and intense-tall-longing was I that I didn’t make out a word to say hello and he breezed by me and on stage. So much for convincing him that I was in fact his life-long-soul-mate, DIDN’T HE KNOW?! My friend and I were then allowed to stand in the wings of the stage and dance during his set, and sadly, our pitiful attempts at electric sliding to “No Such Thing” were met with ZERO attention from JM. I’m not even a fleeting memory as that creepy, awkward tall bitch who did the ELECTRIC SLIDE to one of his songs. <Sigh>

His music has traveled with me, however, and was the soundtrack to finding the man who turned out to be my actual soul mate. Those early weeks of my relationship with James are filled with the melodies of JM, as we lay curled up in flannel sheets, in the quiet isolation of our dorms, discovering how lyrics and life could collide. Continuum was released about a year into our relationship, and I thought James might just break up with me, so sick was he of listening to that album on repeat. And then, seven months ago, “Daughters” was the first sound to hit our own daughter’s ears as she entered the world and changed our lives forever. Again, lyrics to life. And now with Battle Studies, while I can no longer relate, I can remember.

John, I hope that one day you find what your music’s helped me find. And in the meantime, call me. In the name of the digital cleanse and all.

The 12 days of Christmas, otherwise known as the 8 nights of Chanukah because the battery died on my camera and I didn’t get my shit together to recharge it before packing away the holiday weardrobe.

I had every intention of photographing each of the Bug’s festive Christmas ensembles. Thanks to both grandmothers, she was outfitted for the entire month of December in velvety, red goodness. Being the clever genius that I am, I intended to compile a 12 days of Christmas montage of these photographs, sharing with you, dear Internet, the full spread of baby Christmas cheer.

Alas, that well-intentioned project got tossed out the window when I let the camera battery die, and then forgot to recharge it before scurrying away the holiday paraphernalia while I had my doting minions (aka my immediate family) at my beck and call to assist in Operation: Clean the Damn House and Pack Away All Evidence of the Holidays so Ashley Can Focus on her Thesis (which I am CLEARLY doing).

So instead, I give you the 8 nights of Chanukah (yeah with a CH. I’m pretentious and I’m not even a bona fide Jew) because my mom always said that if our family were religious we’d be Jewish (she gets weepy just talking about when our dear family friends, and one of the only Jewish families in my hometown, sat Shiva with her in the wake of her mother’s passing). And because the Bug’s Fairy Godmother (and Fairy-Godfather-to-be) (yes, we have fairy godparents, an example of us co-opting different religious concepts and making them our own) are Jewish, so the Bug shall be raised celebrating holidays in tandem as we did growing up with my mom’s BFF from high school. Passover and Easter with a hunt for matza and eggs. A rousing game of dreidel with a cup of egg nog and sugar cookies in hand. You get the idea. So, it TOTALLY makes sense that I have documentation of the 8 nights of Chanukah with the Bug bedecked in red and green with a pine tree lingering in the background. Totally.

Generally speaking, Addison’s 1st Christmas was a memorable, joyous event. She was so over-stimulated by our guests that her entire sleep schedule was thrown, and Ursa was so over-stimulated that she pulled a muscle in her leg. So overall, the holiday enthusiasm in our  household was next level. FUCK YEAH CHRISTMAS!

I got misty and nostalgic and weepy throughout the day. I blame the breastfeeding hormones, although on Christmas night, everyone in my family shared a dance around the living room with our newest addition to the twinkling light of the Christmas tree and fire-place, and I felt as though my heart was going to burst. To be together, healthy and happy- I don’t think there could be a more perfect gift.

May 2010 be as filled with joy and magic.

What happens when Ashley & James host Christmas and, to get in the spirit, decorate holiday cookies.

In honor of a Christmas “Wordless Wednesday”:

I know this shit is supposed to be wordless, but alas, I just must share a story regarding the shattered sprinkle-dispenser-of-Christmas-cookie-cheer.

I went to Target, a venture that the entirety of Los Angeles county shared, and braved the masses in the name of spirited, holiday baking decorations. All that was left in the name of sprinkles was this broken jar thrown in the back alley of the “holiday” area (read: Christmas section with a menorah or two thrown in for diversity’s sake). That’s what I get for doing things last-minute in the name of the baby Jesus’s birth. HOWEVER, because of the chaos and the looting and purging happening en masse like one big ol’ Christmas riot, tinsel flying, ornaments smashing, reindeer lawn paraphernalia being ridden like horses from the wild wild west, the lady at checkout let me take the sprinkles FOR FREE. Now, THAT, is some god damn Christmas cheer. Just look at those cookies.

And I’ve managed to offend the baby Jesus’s father. Crap. Merry Christmas, to all!

Getting into it. If you’re looking for exploding poop or leaky boobs, you’ll have to try back later

As most of you know, I am in my final year as a candidate for a Master’s degree in Public Art. Practical, I know. When I began this program, I was single, without a child. Now I am married, with a baby. SWEET LORD! Could I have chosen more intense, life-altering experiences to have in a shared 12 month period? I think not.

Anyway, I literally had no idea how much motherhood would shape my academic path, and while I shouldn’t be surprised given that having a baby has overhauled every other aspect of my life, my entire academic outlook has shifted since Addison entered the world. For instance, my thesis is now about feminist art and the maternal. Yeah, I didn’t see that one coming either. Title: (M)ther Work: Maternal Labor in Art and the Public Domain. I’m sure you’re all riveted! Please, contain yourselves!

What matters is, that I am. Riveted that is. Truly and seriously, maternal work and the ways in which women negotiate and make sense of motherhood are topics now personally, and academically, crucial to me. And with that being said, last week I wrapped up my fall semester with a number of lengthy academic papers, one of which chronicled and analyzed my past six months of engagement with Twitter and blogging as a mother. Yes, I wrote a 30 page Sociology paper about what mass media refers to as “Mommy Blogging.” It is ripe with material and a complex and truly fascinating phenomenon.

I began this study because of my highly ambivalent feelings about using Twitter and blogging to share one’s personal life, particularly as a mother. Doesn’t it feel a little icky to share with the anonymous, virtual public the most personal and intimate details of your life, and your family’s life? But isn’t it equally as liberating and freeing to engage a space that is entirely your own (a rarity as a mother) and process, share, validate, and VALUE one’s work (because motherhood is work, in the truest sense of the word) in these virtual communities?  Why are women compelled to mommy blog and mommy tweet? Why are there millions, and I mean MILLIONS, of women engaging their maternal experience in this capacity? And, most importantly, why, OH WHY, do they have millions upon millions of readers and followers who are interested in and compelled by the everyday, lived maternal experience? It’s not just mothers reading mothers, this is universal- as in Joe Shmoe the bachelor could be reading your blog. This shit is FASCINATING!

The benefits of these virtual communities are obvious. The ability for women to connect and share across geography, time zone, and corporeality. The expanded social network of millions to offer guidance, support, knowledge, experience, etc. Like when I tweeted in the wee hours of the morning about breastfeeding and antivirals– and was flooded with information and empathy from women across the globe. Powerful stuff, especially for someone with such a small following (by comparison to many). I am most compelled by mothers’ opportunity to make public and visible an experience and labor that has historically and traditionally been relegated to the private, domestic sphere. As someone who is, clearly, intrigued by publics, this capacity to share in the public domain something so often hidden in the private sphere is what initially drew me to these technologies and spaces. I have been blown away by the mass demonstrations of support, encouragement, and love that mothers, and their many followers/readers, have shown for one another during tragic, challenging life struggles. In just six months, I’ve witnessed maternal camaraderie and a rallying of resources made possible en masse by the advent of Twitter and blogging. Those alleged “Mommy Wars” that are so overblown and hyperbolized in the media? I think they’re just that. Exaggerations and pop culture fodder that don’t consider the astounding ways in which the majority of mothers support and encourage one another.

And perhaps most encouraging is that many women support their families financially or contribute an income to their household through their writing about motherhood, child rearing, pregnancy, etc. Formally unpaid work and experience has been given a monetary value because of the public’s interest in this material. While certainly not universal, it is profound to note this possibility for the Stay-At-Home-Mother, or ANY mother, to be valued not only socially but fiscally for her contributions. Because where would society be without mothers? No where. That’s where. Literally, look around you, EVERY SINGLE STINKING PERSON ON THIS PLANET IS HERE, why? Because of a mother. Because of a woman. That shit is EPIC, and thus it blows my mind that motherhood has been so marginalized, silenced, and sequestered to the private sphere. Twitter and blogging offer fairly accessible means to undo some of those historical traditions.

Of course, there is a flipside to these positives. And this is where my ambivalence originates. Have you noticed that the mothers with some of the greatest numbers of readers have garnered this following due to some horrific tragedy, or illness, or extreme life challenge? It’s not that I don’t think that this mass support and attention is not well-deserved. It is, and as I mentioned, the astronomical demonstrations of support is one of social networking’s greatest strengths. However, much like our society’s fascination with the tabloids and celebrity gossip, what we are most drawn to, sadly, is the suffering of others and drama, drama, DRAMA! I shouldn’t be surprised that this is consistent in the blogosphere and Twitterverse. I just hope that people seek the support and help of people in “Real Life” for there is no measure to the value of a physical hug or tangible shoulder to cry on. While Twitter and blogging may serve a social function, it should by no means be one’s sole source of connection and friendship. Some people interact on Twitter literally ALL DAMN DAY and I can’t help but wonder, isn’t there something else you could be doing? I’m not one to dictate a person’s lifestyle, but it does disarm me to see the extent to which some of these networks are used by people on a daily basis.

And with that being said, the alleged “Mommy Wars” tend to bubble up and surface in these anonymous, virtual spaces of the Internet where people are not held accountable for confronting others face-to-face in the physical, tangible world. The hateful. hurtful things that women say to other women is nothing short of appalling. There are blogs, Twitter accounts etc. devoted to bashing, hating, bullying, and verbally abusing the choices of other mothers. I won’t add fuel to the fire by linking to those sites/people because they don’t deserve to have their bullying behavior validated, but it is truly horrifying when women, rather than supporting one another as is possible (and demonstrated) in the these virtual communities, choose to bring each other down and perpetuate this stereotype of the “Mommy Wars.” I am certainly not against debate, discussion, thoughtful, productive conversation, nor am I averse to mothers, or the general public, having conflicting opinions. However, I have seen many an instance of unproductive, mean-spirited spats and “wars” break out between mothers, or between mothers and the general public. Much like my opinion when it comes to gay marriage or abortion rights, folks just need to let people make the decisions that are best for themselves and their families. No one can know someone else’s circumstance, so people need to just BACK UP OFF! To restrict someone else’s choice or to belittle their lifestyle when it isn’t personally affecting or damaging your own life or your family, well, it just seems ludicrous. And really damaging. As parents, we don’t have to agree, but we should be respectful of other people’s choices, no?

And there is of course the cliquey, who’s cool and who’s uncool, that happens in the blogosphere and Twitterverse and it’s like reliving junior high school ALL OVER AGAIN, except as grown ass adults with children. Honestly, the idea that blogging and Twitter are somehow egalitarian, universal modes of access is some B.S. The privilege and hierarchies that form in these spaces are prominent, obvious, and bring out raging insecurities in the best of us. Who follows whom and is followed back. Who’s listed. Who gets the most comments. Who responds to whom. Who’s in the inner sanctum of certain friend groups that develop in the virtual world. SWEET MOTHER OF GOD! The insecurities and cliquiness are rampant, and make me disappointed that women are capable of making other women feel so excluded, marginalized, beneath them; when that is a universal condition that has been prescribed to all women throughout history. We shouldn’t perpetuate it, we should rise above it and recognize the ways that mothers are united by the profound role of nurturing and caring for the life of others. While we may differ in our parenting choices, and while I encourage debate and discussion surrounding these issues, we should be wise enough to treat each other as we would want the world to treat our children. With respect and decency.

Every mother will tell you that her life was completely altered by the presence of her child in the world. At times it’s difficult to pinpoint that change, that new worldview. It’s different for every woman, but there is a shared sense of awe, care, and earth-shattering love that connects us. The reality that every single person on this earth was brought into the world by the fearless, courageous act of a woman, and that each and every person in the world was once a precious, innocent baby overwhelms me. Constantly. I think of what Addison has done for my life and I am humbled and inspired. I can’t help but see each person as the child they once were, as that baby that welcomed such joy and love into the world for another. And to reflect on the brilliant women who made those lives possible.

It’s hard to stay mad when there’s so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I’m seeing it all at once, and it’s too much. My heart fills up like a balloon that’s about to burst. And then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold on to it. And then it flows through me like rain. And I can’t feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life. You have no idea what I’m talking about, I’m sure. But don’t worry, you will someday.*

Just imagine the possibility if everyone saw the world through the eyes of a mother to her child.

Whew, well, that’s out there.

*Quote from American Beauty

Our little Christmas elf.

So while everyone and their mother is buried up to their elbows in festive, albeit inconvenient, snow drifts, Sunny and I spent our past few mornings walking along the ocean in t-shirts and flip flops. Life in LA is rough, I tell ya. Today, however, with Christmas upon us, we decided to dress in homage to the season. Who says you can’t rock a velor beret and furry boots in 75 degree sun?! It’s like a fashion-go-to out here, trying to get in the mindset of winter despite all weather-oriented indications to the contrary. So to our loved ones back east, take the day off and snuggle up with some hot cocoa by the fire!

We sure as hell are.

7 Months.

Well, so I had an epic mommy fail (otherwise known as the black hole of thesis death) and did not write a half birthday letter. And, in continuing with that trend, as I am in the throes of my first draft and the holidays are bearing down upon me, and I, GASP!, am hosting my whole family who shall descend in less than a week, this, too, shall be brief.

My dearest Sunny girl,

The arrival of your 7th month of life welcomed the return of mommy’s dear Aunt Flow. As in yes, it is official, I am once again fertile. I thought breastfeeding was supposed to prevent this shit, but alas, you are a solid food eating machine.

Kind of.

Actually, you really are quite picky and opinionated when it comes to your palette. You were down with veggies, until we started you on the sweet, wonderousness that is fruit, and now pears is about the only thing you will let pass through to those two shiny chompers. You are taking after your Auntie Kimmy, who was known as the “fruit bat” until about age 12. You literally clamp your mouth shut, purse your lips, and shake your head violently to prevent the spoon from entering. We get it, no healthy green veggies. I fear what life will be like when you can vocalize this in a linguistic capacity.

And on the chompers note, yep, you’ve got teefers. Two of ’em. So I should probably be grateful that breastfeeding is on the outs, because you’re like your own little attack weapon.

You also have mastered the ability to sit up right, all by yourself, so you clearly are ready to hold down a job, pay your own bills, and support mommy and daddy. You’re one autonomous critter. You are weeks, if not days, away from crawling. You have learned to pull those bitty legs up under you to propel your body forward and grasp whatever non-baby-safe object is within your vision. Screw your rattles, jack-in-the-box, books, and other kid-approved paraphernalia we have strewn about the house. You demand keys, electrical wires, cell phones, TV remotes, KNIVES. Ya know, obviously.

You are sleeping through the night on a consistent basis, and have mastered the ability to happily put yourself to sleep. (I’m totally jinxing this as I type, eh?) Granted, this is not always the case, as when teething or recovering from your 6 months vaccinations and flu shots, you tend to be a tad more needy as in YOU PUT ME DOWN AND I’LL CUT A BITCH WITH THOSE KNIVES OR MY NEW FANGLED TEETH. So we appease you as needed.

Speaking of needy, you’ve developed a little sumfin sumfin known as stranger anxiety slash mommy-separation anxiety, which, while flattering, is less than ideal. Mommy is filled with mass amounts of guilt when you scream cry upon being passed to another warm body.

I mean, I get it. You and I have truly become biffles, as in BFFs, as in your my most favorite companion in the world. We spend all day together: playing outside in the grass with Ursa, or on your playmat where mommy tortures you by placing shiny objects just outside your reach (why am I encouraging crawling, I DO NOT KNOW!), or danSing around the house to Christmas music, or running errands with you slung to my chest, beaming at everyone you pass as if to brag about those porcelin goodies you’ve got stashed inside that smile. I cannot describe how much fun we have together, and how much joy you bring, even while blowing raspberries of unwanted food in my general direction.

I was joking with the sweet, little old lady at the post office (my other biffle this time of year) that my life was almost over because you were on the cusp of crawling, and she shook her head and just gave me that knowing, wise, I’ve-been-where-you-are-and-you-don’t-even-know smile and said, “Oh just wait darling, this is only the beginning. Just wait til the magic really starts.”

And to think there could be more magic than this. I can’t wait.

143 Mama

Eskimo Sunny with her teefers while buying her first Christmas tree!

G-L-A-M-O-R-O-U-S, yeah!

This afternoon I was standing in the kitchen, Bug strapped to my person, boob out, lactating (yeah, she’s a talented bugger now and can milk it vertical thus allowing for maximum multitasking), t-shirt hiked high exposing my poodgy, postpartum belly, hair in a “messy bun” (a fav hairstyle circa 7th grade) unwashed for 3, okay 5, days, ripped jeans, stained men’s white t-shirt, fuzzy slippers, peeling the tails off of shrimp, thus surrounded by the aroma of fish, as I prepared another meal en bulk (because that’s the only way to ensure that James and I eat a balanced dinner anymore) and Ursa was seated at my feet, waiting patiently for a morsel to fall within her reach. Suddenly, I heard a fierce, audible ass explosion coming from down below. Shocked (although I shouldn’t have been) I gazed down at the dog, who looked up at me, completely unfazed, as if to say, “What? Like you’re so refined?”

And you know what, the dog was right.

Spell it out, Fergie Ferg.

Oh, and while I wrote this post, I completely forgot about the baby food I had steaming on the stove, thus destroying the pot and charring the food.

URSA! You want some food?! Come’on and getit!

Grandpa no smack. And other business.

Addison has been experimenting heavily. No, not with drugs, you crazy asshole, she’s only 6 months old! But with the many ways in which she can use her mouth to make ridiculous noises and sounds. She is an auditory wonder. After mastering the AH AH AH! yell, causing mommy to scoop out her eardrums with an icepick, she has (thankfully) learned new and less abrasive audio outputs.

First came raspberries, which makes feeding her solid food kind of like performance art. Splatter painting on mommy! If only I could sell my clothes as an organic Jackson Pollock. Then came sucking furiously on her lip and tongue, I think to feel that shiny, new tooth that makes her a living Jack-o-latern, except she looks like one of those sucker fish that vacuums the scum out of grimy fish tanks. Ewww. Then came my LEAST favorite of all the noises, which involves heavily and creepily inhaling. Like she’s suffocating. And choking. AND OH MY GOD SHE’S GOING TO DIE! Seriously, it’s like the over-dramatized croak one does when staging a theatrical death. And it’s horrifying. I have 10 gray hairs to show for it. Then came a high-pitched, sing-songy, haaaa haaaa. Not loud and aggressive like her first orations, but sweet and breathy, and actually fairly endearing, except when it hits the decibel that shatters glass. Then, not so much.

And finally, my most favorite new expression, what Auntie Kimmy and I have coined the “Grampa Smack.” She literally curls her lips under as though impersonating a toothless, gummy old dude (which is ironic, because she already is basically toothless (save one) and gummy to start), and then smacks them enthusiastically together. And it is pure entertainment. It’s always quite fleeting, and has been near impossible to catch on film. However, Auntie Kimmy, in a rage black out, caught a very brief 7 second clip that she has no recollection of taping (the drunk), but has titled “Grandpa No Smack?” because you can’t hear the smacking noise thanks to the serenade of Timbaland and One Republic’s “Apologize” in the background.

We’re giving her essential musical education, and early.

At least this gives you a visual of the wonder that is Grandpa Smack.

Because it never gets old.

Auntie Kimmy is HA-larious. She was nervous that Addison would flip out and do her stranger-anxiety-scream-cry when she saw her for the first time in a couple months, but Kimmy harnessed her inner Ursa, and sniffed the baby, which automatically made them besties. And caused another hiccup-inducing giggle fit.



Yet another thing I shouldn’t be doing while this thesis deadline looms

My sister was in town for 10, count ’em 10!, days. This meant that I was entitled to 10 days of free childcare and thus 10 uninterrupted, productive days of thesis writing. HA! Did I ever find excuses for avoiding this precious gift of time and productivity. What was more important than working on my Master’s thesis, the culmination of my graduate career and something to show for the $100,000 debt that I have driven this family into?!

Well, let’s see.

1. Baking four pies for three people.

2. Knitting a cephalopod plush for my sister’s lab bench- because she studies cuttlefish and clearly needed a stuffed animal representation IMMEDIATELY!

3. Making flowers out of a pile of old buttons.

4. Crocheting baby booties, which I messed up, TWICE- so FOUR booties were necessary.

5. Plastic bag bagging because shhh, don’t tell, James fucks up a lot occasionally and forgets our reusable bags (which is appalling but it means that now, once a year or so, I get to make a rad reusable bag out of those suckers. And now, in the midst of finals, was obviously the time.

6. Are we picking up on a theme?! Crafting is my drug. SAVE ME FROM MYSELF AND MY CRAFTING TRUNK! (yes, there is a trunk, a full-sized trunk where I could stash a body if I were ever in need of a good hiding place, except I couldn’t because it is filled with yarn, and glue, and needles, and felt, and needlepoint patterns for WASPY door stops, and oh my lord,  PONY BEADS! (you get the idea)). Hi, I’m Ashley and I’m a craftaholic.

6. Pictures with Santa. (and the two-hour wait that entailed)

7. Walks to burn off the four pies.

8. Trips to Malibu to visit some family and friends and eat dinner next to Lauren Conrad, BECAUSE WHAT COULD BE MORE LA?!

Anyway, you get the picture. I found excuses. And clearly, visiting with my little sister was high up on that list. Well, she left on a jet plane last night, so my goal for today was to wake up bright and early and get cracking while Addison was still asleep.

My disdain for the wee hours of the morning and Sunny’s erratic sleep schedule kept that from happening. So we awoke at 7am, “got dressed” (and by dressed I’m in sweatpants and my fuzzy slippers), ate breakfast, played, and then it became apparent that Sunny would need an early nap. But rather than lay her in her crib, what did my genius-self decide to do? Close the curtains (it was a gray cloudy day, and I can’t tolerate that in a land where we’re supposed to have 365 days of sun, so this was my protest), curl back up in my bed with the wee one nestled against my chest and Ursa at my feet, and nap. Yep, sleep avoidance. The best kind.

And let me tell you, it was worth the panic that I’m going to experience tomorrow when those thesis pages are due, the ache on my right side from my whole body going numb while snuggling the Bug, and the scolding I shall receive from James upon reading this blog post. Because, day by day, as Addison becomes more and more independent (for Christ’s sake she’s sitting up on her own, it’s like she doesn’t even NEED me anymore), those moments where she’s willing to sit still and snuggle with mommy are few and far between. And those uninterrupted mornings, where I don’t have the demands of a traditional job, or another sibling (yeah, James has already asked if I’m “ready” for another and my response was DO YOU WANT OUR SEX LIFE TO EVER RECOVER?! and that shut him up for now), or meetings, appointments, etc. are a rare, precious gift. So I lay in bed, enjoying the chorus of sighs, the warmth of my little baby furnace and the preciousness of time, I as the big spoon and her my petite cuillère. Today, that moment with my child was more important than any amount of debt or academic responsibility. But I guess that’s not just today. It’s everyday. Because she puts everything in perspective.

And because moments like that are fleeting, Ursa took it upon herself to disrupt the rainbows and fairy dust (stupid bitch) and shook, violently; thus, awaking the babe and sending her into a fit of cries such that I had to resort to putting her down alone in her crib, where she balled up like a stink bug and happily went back to sleep. My independent woman. Beyoncé would be so proud.

And to further delay the thesis process, I had to blog about it, because when I look back 10 years from now, I’ll think about that morning in bed with my first-born baby, not the blinking cursor on my computer screen.