Barnyard Crime (c) Annie LaVigne (used with permission)

Barnyard Crime by Annie LaVigne

I’ve been terribly remiss in neglecting to add Mickey’s blog to my blogroll. I read Mickey’s weekly blog almost daily and always (1) either cry with laughter, (2) or choke laughing (when I’m munching or drinking something). This week’s entry is particularly hilarious!

Mickey is the other part of Harriet and Mickey, who run the show at illustrator Annie LaVigne’s company – and at her house too, it seems! Check out her funny and witty and generally amusing drawings and prints and send a droll e-card to your loved ones… at Harriet and Mickey.com.

It’s like an early Christmas present! Just when I was going to subscribe to American Elf to catch up, James Kochalka launched the brandnew American Elf Supersite and the archives are free! I laughed so hard at some of the strips I got cramps in my side! (That Bonus Elf seems interesting, though, so I am still going to invest.) 

I once tried to write a daily strip about our daily life. But I can’t draw for peanuts (witness here) so, being a perfectionist, I got more than a little frustrated and strapped for time. Maybe my life wasn’t interesting enough, either, before we had Amie. Now that we have a talking toddler, I would have more grist for the mill but… there is so much else to do!

color drawing of myself and cousins making sandcastle

  • Is one enough?

We are asked quite often if we want a second child. It’s a tough question.

As for myself, I always envisioned three: two of our own and one adopted. But I don’t have time on my side: I am already 35, and I don’t think Amie is ready for a younger sibling as yet, let alone an adopted sibling. Financially, having one child has turned out to be a lot more expensive than we thought. And then there are the (new) ecological worries about overpopulation, consumption, and a difficult future.

But mainly I feel that Amie is enough for us, and that we are enough for her (so far). Only kids can be lonely, I know, but we take care to involve her in our own active social life, to let her participate in our adult friendships, and to cultivate her relationship with kids her own age.

  • Is more too much?

And on the other side of “enough” there is also “too much”. My sister and only sibling is two years younger than me. I remember most clearly the turbulence of our adolescent relationship, but there are earlier memories that rankle: of being manipulated, of having to be the one to fight the battles.

The most prohibitive, however, is a much older “memory cloud” of abandonment. Perhaps I shouldn’t write “abandonment”: that’s too discrete a concept, perhaps an after-the-fact rationalization. Rather, it’s a complex and almost visceral feeling of confusion, fear, sadness and loneliness.

I used to think it was a false memory, a later romantization of my plight as “the oldest one”. But seeing Amie now and imagining introducing her to her little sister or brother, ties a knot in my stomach that I seem to know too well. And don’t wish upon her.

  • Sandbox revelations

Yesterday, in the sandbox, Amie ignored all the kids her age and younger. She’s a very-parallel-play-er. The kids at daycare will run to the door to greet her when she arrives, but she never pays them any notice. In the sandbox, when approached by another child, she was wary, especially as she was “collecting scoops,” of which she relinquished one only when I asked her to share.

Then an older boy came along. He was older as in 9 years, to her 22 months. He ignored her, but she suddenly took notice in the most striking way. As he walked by her, she held out a scoop to him and eagerly said:

“You want it? You want it?”

He didn’t notice and she stood there, a bit frazzled. And as she recovered, it hit me: Amie would actually love a sibling, but an older sibling!

  • An older sibling now…

Wouldn’t that be neat? The older kid could be 8 or 9 and already at home in the world and in our family (so adopting an 8-year-old wouldn’t quite count). If she was a girl, she would love a little Amie to play with, help take care of her, and show her off to her girlfriends. If he was a boy, he would manage quite well to ignore her most of the time, and extend gracious big-brother benevolence when it matters. Amie could look up at her/him, and he/she would totally understand her dependence and high maintenance…

Has anyone figured out how to do this yet?

The Baby Tote

When I was pregnant with Amie, I often amused myself thinking up all kinds of ways to make the pregnancy easier on us.

For instance, later on in our pregnancies, when the weight begins to pull our spines out of allignment and our back muscles out of shape, when all those vital organs need to start moving over, and when any kind of comfortable sleep position becomes impossible… wouldn’t it be great if we could just whip out the uterus and stick it into a bag? 

I am thinking an ergonomical backpack, with handy sidepockets, but for the more fashion-conscious it could be an elegant totebag, and an Italian leather briefcase for the businesstype. Once our babies get really heavy, we could bring in little carts or carry-ons… We would take it with us wherever we go (of course), keep it in our laps while having lunch, stash it underneath our desks while working. And this is the clincher: at night, we could just park it underneath the bed!

Ok, I don’t know how it would work physically. I mean: what would giving birth be like? In any case, I think it’s one of my brighter ideas and I’ve suggested it to Nature, and hopefully she has passed it on to Evolution. Women (maybe even men) of the distant future, you’re welcome!

The Fetus Fone

Another innovation was the Fetus Fone. In all honesty, I think I have to credit Amie with that idea. I made a little comic about it at the time:

Comic of Fetus calling Mama

If I had to choose, I would opt for the phone. Not for the fresh insights on Kant and the nature of space and time, but because of the only scary moment in my pregnancy.

One blistering hot summer morning  in the eigth month I rushed into my midwife’s practice, barely on time (I abhor being late; it stresses me out). When the midwife put the Doppler against my swollen belly, even I realized Amie’s heart rate was way too high. The midwife asked me if I had drunk any water yet, andI admitted I hadn’t. Five minutes after I sipped some icewater, Amie had calmed down.

All she wanted was a sip of water!

A Fetus Fone would have saved all of us a great deal of worry. I think I might take a patent on the idea (hey, people are trying to patent turmeric!), and I’d better also reserve the Fetus Fone TM, and the domain.

Gotto go, got work to do…

Comic strip experiment

This is an experiment. On a Previous Blog I published a comic strip once in a while to illustrate the funnier side of our life. It was the (only?) part of the Previous Blog that most of my readers liked. I hope to make more of them and publish them here. The biggest problem will be to portray Amie – as you can see, I am not very good at drawing.

Recycling background

Before our Town of Brookline made it obligatory, our condominium didn’t have recycling. Everything went into the trash, a.ka., landfill (since also the private haulers were not obligated to recycle). It was a thorn in our eye, and the only way to extract it was to do something about it.

So we bought a couple of bins, set them up in the basement, and spread the word. I would guess about half of our residents contributed. Every two weeks my husband and I would stuff a bunch of large trashbags heavy with glossy magazines and leaking rotten food and juice into the back of our station wagon and haul it to the recycling center.

That’s where this particular comic strip comes from.

Comic Strip of Bol and Bol and the Environment

He can be quite cheeky, but obviously he doesn’t really consider his obligation to the environment fulfilled. But I still don’t know what he meant, and he has always maintained that he doesn’t remember ever having said that. It’s also very strange for me to post this comic, as it was drawn before Amie was in the picture…