Bionic Mamas

you're not losing a vagina, you're gaining a son



A banal question on a dreary Wednesday. Seriously, really banal. Ready?

Do you have a particular recommendation for disposable diapers?

(I DID warn you.)

We have been big fans of the Target Up & Up ones: cheap, not hideous, delivered by mail, fit the Bean’s tiny little butt well, leak only under extreme duress. Sadly, Target is a moron and has changed their design. (I have expressed this opinion to corporate, in scientific detail, and have been presented with a gift card I guess I will use on wipes, which remain very good.) We encountered the new ones, recognizable by their star pattern that has replaced the old dots, at my parents’ house over the holidays. I spent the whole time trying to figure out what we were doing differently that was resulting in 3-4 dramatic diaper failures each day — had the Bean grown? Was he drinking more? Were we forgetting to change him? — only to discover via the internet that the problem was a massive brand suicide on Target’s part.

So. Anything you like? We have in the past used Pampers (okay but weirdly puffy and somewhat leaky), Huggies (an expensive disaster, including multiple interior failures ending with silicon beads all over the Bean’s Business), 365 (almost as bad as the new Target ones, much pricier), and Luvs (okay, if ugly and plastic-y). Do I sound hard to please? I wasn’t, until Target decided to throw our love away.

P.S. First person to crow about cloth diapers gets to wash them, wash my tub after our tiny washer drains into it, and find somewhere to hang them dry that is not our apartment, ’cause there is no room at the inn, honey.


In Which I Admit I Will Never Catch Up

Oh, internets, I’ve done it. That thing where you get so behind that you feel like you can’t post at all because where to start? And that thing where you’re so far behind that you can’t post also because you don’t know what’s going on with your friends and you haven’t been commenting and what kind of an ass does that?

But I do miss you, so I am going to try to just hit the high points of the past two months (two! Months! The shame!) and get back into the swing.

So. Some things. Very little order. Impressively incomplete. A gesture of affection.

Item: Christmas et al. Major parts great: people were nice, we were warm(ish) and safe, Bean in love with myriad relatives. We got to meet Pomegranate and her lovely wife and their Bunny! Minor parts: non-stop fiasco. I’ve had bad Christmases — springing to mind is the one where my beloved Grandmother was dying but had made it downstairs for presents and then my looniest aunt decided a Slight had been dealt to her toddler daughter (which it hadn’t, and anyway, the daughter was perfectly happy and secure in the love of the aunt who had supposedly said something terrible about not having any presents for her, actually “I am not ready to give you another present from the stack I am in the corner wrapping so that you can deliver it to its recipient, as you have been cheerfully doing; give me two minutes”) went nuclear, told us all in so many words how to fuck ourselves, stormed outcome back that night to storm out again, with some cursory packing this time and some tearful assurances that she’d always loved me. That was a bad Christmas. This was a good Christmas.


Also it is true that a huge storm disrupted our travel significantly, and once we finally got to my parents (following a lovely and unplanned interstitial weekend with friends in St. Louis), the Bean immediately got croup. And it turns out that croup, which sounds like it should only exist in Anne of Green Gables books, is really scary. I hadn’t written to any of you in so long that I felt sheepish asking for support, but I wish I had. Really scary.

On the first day he was sick, the Bean was suddenly barely able to breathe. The sign something was badly wrong was that he would only lean on my chest, holding his head at the angle that opened his windpipe most. This child just doesn’t slow down like that, no matter how sick he is. All the while, he was bark-coughing and breathing with a stridor rasp, a sound whose horror I had not fully appreciated when only reading about it. By the time we got to the ER, he was drooling.

I know that this is a normal childhood illness and that other kids have, by the Bean’s age, already been sicker in scarier ways, but it was still pretty awful.

I can enthusiastically recommend the ER at the Arkansas Children’s Hospital. Full disclosure, my dad works for that hospital, though not in that department, and it was therefore especially pleasing that the resident he had helped train was so kind and clearly competent. The triage nurse was willing to accept the pulse-ox reading we’d gotten while the Bean was asleep in the car, saving the tantrum-induced coughing fit we were in risk of. No one drew any blood — there was no reason to, and yet many places would have done it on principle, upsetting a sick kid for no reason. We watched Finding Nemo in the exam room. The respiratory tech, who was an awkward person in general, had a serious attack of being unable to make sense of the two mom business, at a moment when, frankly, we just wanted him to drop it and start treating our kid. When he finally got it, he was mortified and later appeared with a stuffed chicken of contrition, bought from the Heifer International stand in the hospital. (Heifer has its headquarters in Little Rock.) The Bean refused it, haughtily. Part of me wanted him to make nice, but part of me was a little proud that he was like, screw you and your guilt-chicken.

Although much improved after the hospital visit, the Bean got sick again that night, igniting a turf-war between my doctor parents over whether to return to the hospital. After packing bags for a probable admission and then wondering whether that made sense, given that, however bad he sounded, the Bean didn’t seem lethargic or especially unhappy, we called his very sensible doctor, whose full name, as it happens, is the same as a minor Anne of Green Gables character. She said we could stay home, so I headed down the hall to put him to bed (read: to sit up in an armchair and let him sleep on me, which is how it went all week), and everyone tried to calm down. A few minutes later, my phone rang, and Sugar picked it up. It was the doctor again.

“Oh, hi,” said Sugar, “this is the Bean’s other mother.”

“Where are you?”



“You told us not to!”

“Wait, is this the Bean’s mother?”



With that, she hung up and presumably called a family having a worse night than we were. Heck of a wrong number.

The next week wasn’t much fun (except that it was, because the Bean had so much fun playing with the 8 zillion trains eBay was divested of on his behalf), but the Bean did get better and, except for a horrible migraine, my immune-suppressed mother didn’t get sick. Sugar flew home so that she could go to work and promptly got so sick she couldn’t work or even pick us up at the train station when we arrived almost a week later. We were all happy to be home.

Phew! So much for short! One more story for now, in the interests of actually posting this one.

The big, positive excitement around here is how rapidly the Bean’s language skills are expanding. At Christmas, he had what I think of as his direct-object realization moment, at the lunch table. Suddenly and clearly amazed with himself, he came out with, “I…like…PICKLES!!” Now he asks questions like, “do you like chips, Mommy” and, “What do tracks like?” (“Um,” replied Sugar, “big, flat places where it isn’t too hot or too cold.”)

He also suddenly knows all the letters and some numbers by sight. This happened in less than a month from the moment when I realized he knew any beyond what could be written off as a lucky guess. Just before New Years, we were in St. Louis, eating onion rings. The Bean, as usual, was ignoring all of our food in favor of his limited, maddening diet. (Don’t get me started.) But suddenly he began pointing wildly at my plate, saying, “oh, oh, oh!”

“Oh, you want an onion ring,” I asked, taking his exclamation for pure excitement. I handed him one with a bite out of it.

“C! C! C,” he said.

A wise child, that one, binding himself to me through a shared love of literacy and fried foods.


Sketches for Giraffe’s Dream

Sugar here again. I can’t get this illustration right, so instead of sending our hero into his adventure, I’m ruminating on what to do with page two.

I tried to finish page two, and I got this, which I really don’t like:

he wanted to move to the city

At the very least, the car in the foreground needs to go, but so much is not right here that I’m going to do it over.

I went back to my quick story board for the book. Here’s the original ten second sketch:

he wanted to move to the city

For some reason, giraffe looks like a hippopotamus here, could be the bowler.

Next I tried to make a sketch that showed buildings, trees, and cars as three dimensional shapes, rather than the flat approach in the first painting:

he wanted to move to the city

And then I tried again:

he wanted to move to the city

But I was worried that the road was not a good place to run the text, particularly because the greys and blacks I seem to be mixing are UGLY. So, I moved the horizon line down:

he wanted to move to the city

This is better! I was going to try to do this in paint last night. Unfortunately we then had Toddergate Part One, in which the Bean did not eat dinner, punched Bionic in the eye with the corner of a book (she’s ok) and then took two and a half hours to fall asleep, effectively killing the evening. Toddergate Part Two was this morning, just as much fun, but with persistent attempts to yank me out of the shower and lots of wailing when I was anywhere except within six inches of the Thomas the Train set up. Good times. The poor guy has cold sores and a bad diaper rash right now, but he’s on the mend, so maybe this weekend will be better.


Giraffe has big dreams

Hi – Sugar here. I’m writing/painting a story book for the Bean.  Since Bionic is holed up grading awful papers, I’m going to punctuate her blog silence with the pictures as they come along. I’ve got 1.5 pictures so far, thanks to 3.5 total nap hours from Saturday and today. Here they are:


This is Giraffe.


Giraffe wants to move to the city. He’ll live a life of friends and parties, taxis and buses, fancy stores and apartment buildings. (This is the .5 picture.  Pay no attention to the unfinished right hand side.)

Can you see where this is going? Bionic and I have a collection of stories about animals moving to urban areas. You’ll have to get her to tell you the one about the whale who accidentally becomes a maritime lawyer. Stress ensues.


Recipe: No More Nifedipine Cooler

Pepibebe asked for a recipe for last night’s celebratory grapefruit cocktail, and since I only had the one, I can almost remember what I did. It’s based on this one, with a few adjustments.


One grapefruit
Brown sugar
White sugar
Fresh rosemary

1. Make the brown sugar/rosemary simple syrup. I used 1/2 c water and 1/3 c of a mix of brown and white sugar, about 1/3 brown and 2/3 white. In a saucepan, heat and stir until sugar dissolves. Then add 2 springs rosemary, simmer for 5 minutes, let cool.

2. Squeeze grapefruit. Mine yielded about 4 oz.

3. To grapefruit juice, add vodka and Cointreau. I used about 2 oz. vodka and 1 oz. Cointreau, because I am a lightweight and because we are running out of both and I am desperately cheap.

4. Pour some or most or all of the juice mixture over ice. (I went with “most” and put the rest in the fridge.) Add syrup to taste. Garnish with a fresh spring of rosemary.

5. Go take some pictures, because what is social media for, anyway?

6. Don’t drive or operate heavy machinery or sign any contracts. Maybe don’t write too many blog posts if a reputation for literacy is important to you. Enjoy.



The Jokes Just Write Themselves

It has come to this: I am procrastinating so thoroughly from packing for the insane, multi-day train trip I am about to take alone with the Bean that I have gone and started a twitter account, @bionicbabymama. I am so late to this game it’s a miracle there were any accounts left.

So far it is mostly about cannibalism in children’s literature.

So, you know, if you’re into that sort of thing, or you would like the play-by-play version of my imminent demise, you can follow my, erm, twits. As opposed to what got you following here. Ahem.

(re: the trip: the short version is that my mother is too sick to travel, I am terrified of planes (don’t start), and a trip to my parents’ place means a trip to Sugar’s so that it is fair. In lieu of flowers, please send gin.)