Thursday, January 31, 2008

Bad Parenting Confessional: The flesh is weak... Blank Verse

Another morning.
Another early morning discipline debate.

Soon nanny will be here

I should go.

I am not firm enough.
We are not consistent enough.
My care substandard from its inexpensive love-laden weaknesses.
Whatever I want to tell myself...

****I am definitely a big supporter of diversifying childcare. I have often been first in to boost a childcare choice for a friend; keen to validate their distance making as a plus for wee ones. I tend to put it as 'growing the team' and describe how rejuvenating it can be for a family after the long haul of solo care of infants and growing toddlers. But I must admit today all that hides something FOR ME. I gues I feel that maybe, just maybe, I do recognize I -- alone -- am not enough. Especially as training and discipline goes I abdicate my otherwise iron-willed leadership.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Veni, Vidi, Vale

I Just Smell Old
I survived my stay at the Luther Village Home for the Decrepit in sunny (and frigid) Waterloo. I am glad to have seen my elderly grandmother in her Ontario digs, for the first time in 2 years, as well as to have seen my uncle and his family for the first time in even more years.

After many months at home, surrounded by people who cannot fend for themselves, who wear diapers, and who need assistance in eating I was looking forward to a break. Two nights in an old persons' residence did not quite fit the bill.

The Lining Has No Tarnish
I arrived at Pearson and went to collect the car I had reserved. The very embodiment of the organized middle-aged guy, I figured, what could go wrong? Well, what if the rental guys don't have the car? Well, they did not have the car. I felt a sudden sense of dread: don't downgrade me. I can't drive the 401 in a fucking Festiva! I need AWD for the... the snow!

But the lining was silver. They gave me an upgrade at the same cost. I know this happens to everyone. But, you see, now it has happened to me! Hooray! Exclamations!!

But it does not end there, oh no. I met with Ms. NotSoSage in the bustling city of Toronto. I went to her house, she invited me in, I met her dog (named after a German 20C composer, I think, whose work I have never heard), her cat (named after Pinocchio's creator, if I have it correctly), her delightful daughter, and pulsating spouse.* I drank tea (named by Earl Grey after himself, the egoist). I donated a couple of books to a good cause and scooped a couple of cool hats for the kids. It was a most enjoyable way to spend part of the day and I extend my thanks to Ms. NSS and her lovely family for being so hospitable. Especially the dog. She kissed me in a way which made me remember a shore leave in Okinawa...

Also too (which is something my aunt in Kitchener says, without irony, in a "Da Bears" type accent which inflects her entire family's speech) Mr. NSS suggested I could while away some time at a bookstore on Dundas which specializes in "rare and unusual" books. But they didn't know the name of the place. It is "Monkey's Paw" and I will attest to the unusual quality of its inventory if not its rarity. I purchased some smut, er, erotica by Anais Nin. I have it at work... I'm reading it now!!!

The Kennedy Effect
Mr. Obama has the good fortune to have gained the endorsement of Senator Ted Kennedy. News reports suggest there is some kind of familial "effect" which will imbue the candidate with, I don't know, the luck of the Irish?

I envy Mr. Obama for his good fortune. Were I so spiritually deformed as to run for public office, I should be glad to have the endorsement, nay, the conferral of the aura of Mr. Chappaquiddick, and his most excellent and righteous family - the poontang-mad, pill-chomping, starlet-fucking brother and nazi-loving industrialist dad. What a team we would make! Go Barack go! How can you lose with friends like Ted?

p-man out.

* Not, as in, "he was pulsating. I began to wonder if he was hypertensive, or an alien, or if the tea was laced with peyote." It is as in, "He is a drummer."


Sunday, January 27, 2008

Wassup? My kind of Sleepover.

Good gracious where did the week go?

I guess with my husband out of town for 3 days I really don't know my ass from elbow but at least that's over.

Seems it was one of those weeks. A week for blog reading and not so much for posting. Not that my comments would show it. For the record... I was incensed this week by the lunacy of L.'s blog plight. Thank god there was a resolution. Tonight I enjoyed reading the tour de force mal maman et famille delivered in Montreal. My contractor is dropping by in a little while; he's from Montreal. And, the sock monkey hats? I think those are available at the Front here in Vancouver, in parent and offspring sizes. Did HBM have an option for sock monkey head and pass it up? hmmm? Speaking of busy heads wasn't it this week that Shutter Sisters got going? Impressive. This was the week Miss M. turned three and tanked her anonymity. Plus Crew Cheeky returned from Antigua, so our readers list has nearly tripled! Finally, anybody know what the Sweet Juniper stats are running at? I think I clicked about 44 times this week to see if the offshoot has sprung yet. Just remember Family J. twice the children = half the blog. Even Liz says so.

I hope I can post again in the next few days. Maybe about my job search angst.. my resolute examination of what I mean when I say Mother-Woman ... or maybe my new career as an etsy consultant. More likely about my complaint letter to the City of Vancouver Engineering department's recycling division, maybe my call for your advice on how to hire a babysitter.. P-man might even have some words this week on his terrific Toronto freeze your schmeebs red riding hood tour? We'll see.

About all I have for original content tonight is my daughter's latest and greatest from her brand of swank sweetness rip-offs of her Dad.
"My Mommy is doo-ing [sic] me crazy!!!"

ps... does anyone even remember Blogging Baby anymore?


Sunday, January 20, 2008

[Don't] Say Anything

Almost a fortnight ago I had a pleasant tryst with a group of excellent bloggers. Thanks to bon's cribcast there was a fine dialogue about volunteerism in our little corner of the bloggerhood.

In that context a thread began -- first from the pods themselves and trickling down to we lowly chatroom attendants. I believe it began with Mad's brutal, and astute, admission that pissedoffedness can be a barrier to community action. That working in groups can rouse a measure of grouchiness. True for me but worthy of some retread.

What is it about the cold and distant nature of the blogging venue that has spurred me to get over said grouchiness and begin to embrace others, to reach out without hope of reciprocity? It may just be the Ben and Jerry's high talking but I have found, particularly in this last year that I want to do more and give more and I know somewhere blogging is driving me. (It's the id, idn't it? Ah wherefore, Blogrhet?)

Part of it is Mad herself but part of it is a perfectly logical consequence of this medium. Yep, believe it or not blogging has enabled and encouraged me to be more helpful, alturistic and giving. Not as a simple urge to somehow balance the virtual with the real. Not at all really but rather because I have come to terms with a new degree of tolerance. As a Canadian we have it drilled into us from the age of 9 that society is tolerance and as people we start tuning it out about 5 years later when tolerance is eclipsed by some goth, burnout, hippie, nerd, jock branding of said tolerance.

But what about the podcast...? Mostly what I am thinking of is how in the podcast we did briefly reflect on whether the bounty of thought available through blogs is a greater support to a philosophy of 'if you have nothing nice to say don't say anything at all' than face-to-face. I know in my case it does. I have real blog-crushes I walk away from for months after they piss me off. There is truly a plus to all the anonymity and boundary breaking of blogs.

I am more intimate now that I have ever been with strangers some I do not agree with, many of whom live their lives completely differently than we do and those who reside in god knows where... than I could otherwise be. This seems to make me a lot more tolerant of real people I would normally have beat a path from at hyperspeed... including in community groups. I gotta be honest I have been a volunteer and I have managed volunteers. If anything can bring out the inner pinhead it might very well be working for free. So whether it is being one or being with one I think a lot of organizations suffer a lack of active and tolerant supporters.

I wonder if these organizations would be surprised to think that it is less their cause and more the ying/yang of some distant and vague community connection that can bring in new blood?

"Here, have this pen."

ps... And just now I picked up my link from Under the Mad Hat and it's blog for choice day? Shit... activism the need really is endless.

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90 days

Last week I alluded to my belief that our family life was in need of a bit of 'occupational therapy'. Basically, I am pretty burnt out. Beginning with the realization that I was really and entirely pregnant 4 years ago and running through nearly 3 years of gestating/lactating motherliness waning only a matter of weeks ago it has been a long haul.

A long haul with a significant physical binding up of myself to first my daughter and then my son. Not to mention I suppose the binding up to them for my heart. My children are not what you would call clingy. But, remember, I'm a bit of a momaholic. We are a tight-knit family. I was never one to have a regular away day, hell I have rarely showered in a year.

I didn't always like it, eh? And, I don't know that they did either. Some might say it just isn't healthy and well it isn't.

For weeks my plan was... "Well, I'll be at work soon. That will open things up. It will be good." But now I'm not at work. Last week I confessed there are things I was looking forward to reducing my influence over. The treatment in place for addressing these things is that we will hold on to our nanny for at least 90 days.

90 days where I am not the go-to girl all the time. 90 days where I am to sort my life out. Maybe get a new job. Sort the house out a bit more. Maybe have a shower (not that I'm having them funnily enough.)

I should be in heaven right? I should be refreshed by having so much more time. But I miss my independence. While I am slightly better rested I still am very much behind on the work apart from no longer grocery shopping between the hours of 9 and 11 pm. I still want to collapse at 8:30 leaving the kitchen to p-man. Oddly, not much has changed even with an additional person 3 days a week. Why is that?

If anything has actually changed it is this... You can be sure that any significant sacrifice I've made as a SAHM or Working Mom till now has been suddenly eclipsed. Any mantle of dedication I had seems to have slipped from my shoulders in less than no time at all because I have kept a child care arrangement while not working. (In my own mind anyway.)

It's true what they say. The preschool years really do fly by. And, here I thought I'd be Mother-woman forever.


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Happy 2.6666666666th Birthday, Baby!

I have observed a trend whereby parent bloggers wax lyrical in noting the passing months of their child's early life. "Oh, Little (insert cute nickname), you are 11 months old today. Today, on your 11 month birthday..." Obviously, this can be taken to an unpleasant extreme. There is no 11 month birthday. That is stupid. I can understand marking, at least on some mental chit, the fractions which make up ages 0-6. Fractions are important in the development of early math skills. (But this does not endorse the marking of little Timmy's attainment of 3 and 7/12 years. Obscure fractions are not allowed.)

Maybe parents break out the lyrical wax for their second kid as well as their first. Maybe they are too screamingly busy for that. I don't know. It's not as if I have a broad sample to work with.

Recently the Cheesefairy expressed many nice things to and about her son, who was then turning 18 months old. It is a really beautiful post which includes a great picture of her son. That is my inspiration for this post: I want to describe her son at 18 months.*

Oh, ha ha ha. I meant my little one. He is 18 months old today. It is not his birthday, of course, but an arbitrarily selected milestone of another sort. These months have gone by very quickly. Like something which moves at great speed and is fast. And you, my son, you are fast, all things considered. Not fast like a gazelle, or a Chevy Impala, or Gaetan Boucher, but like a little guy who is full of life. You run to see me when I get home, when you have something to show me, and for other reasons I cannot ascertain.

You have many things to tell me. You wish to identify objects and people by their names. I can understand many of the things you say. You appear to name things more or less correctly.

I loved you when you were being born - nurse and physician wrestling you out of your mother, the nurse saying "breathe baby, breathe" as my heart rose into my gorge. I loved you when you started to laugh and to call my name. I love you even more now, if possible, now that you are more and more a little boy, a bright-eyed, inquisitive, happy little boy.

I love you, even when you wear your sister's clothes.**

Your dad.

* I would link to it, I would, but I am lazy and I have to prepare for court.
** But please, in future, avoid cameras.


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Where Am I Going With This?

I have just returned from a quaint ceremony whereby the members of our local bar welcome to New Westminster the newest judges of the various levels of court. Many inside jokes. Many jokes on the subject of jurisdiction. Oh, ha ha ha, I say while inside I wither: I didn't know that. Can anyone here tell?

Meanwhile at home Mo and the kids read books, danced, giggled and occasionally screamed. I can scream. Did you know that?

I am a little freaked out by the contents of my calendar. It is filled with days. Also too as well the days are filled with work-type activities: meetings with partners (which are not so great of late), trials (pretty bad, last year), mediations, and so on. I ask, when will it be p-time? So, anyway, in any event, by the by, work is busy. Trials will soon abound. Of course, there is the issue of my schedule between now, when I should be priming these cases, working the witnesses, marshaling evidence, stocking up on Depends, which is fortunately quite busy(pecuniary self) and unfortunately is also very busy (lazy ass self wishing only to watch daytime tv and stay up at night eating ice cream wearing nothing but my kilt and a Nordiques t-shirt*, and then, when I will of course be standing up in front of judge and sometimes jury attempting to exude and instill confidence in my clients' cause while internally I wrack my mind feebly as I try to remember what Matlock would do.

I have decided the only way to resolve this is to delay the inevitable. I will be flying to Toronto on the 24th. I will purchase a $6 bag of chips from Air Canada and pray we don't crash. I will drive my rental car around southern Ontario luxuriating in its European styling (of the car, not upper Canada). I will visit my grandmother presuming I can make my way to Kitchener from YYZ.

Allow me to state, in conclusion, that George Strombolopidapidopoulos is the latest in a series of truly annoying CBC host-robots to plague the spaces reserved for public discourse.**

p-man out

* With my apologies to the wise and grammatically correct Palinode.
** Michael Enright, Shelagh Rogers, Carol McKay, Sook-Yin Lee, and Priya Ramu come to mind immediately. Peter Mansbridge. And Avri Solomon. From what diseased cosmic womb do these fatuous, self-absorbed numbnuts issue?

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Red and The Purple

Like the new sidebar photo? ... And, hey please go vote here for all this.

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Sunday, January 13, 2008

Bad Parenting Confessional: Mini Me

When people meet us and our children they tend to remark on how much the kids are like us. My daughter is really a miniature version of her Dad and my son "looks sooo much" like me. In a myriad of ways we have one of each.

These days the attitudes and actions of our kids (ages 1 and 3) are not always beyond reproach. And we certainly find moments of complex self-reproach when we see our own behaviours reflected back at us, made acutely annoying in their pint-sized and toddler-aged tempo: the back-talking, the know-it-all, even the bossy and the smart Alec. Where once we of the Roadrunner/Bugs Bunny generation were so smug about our smart, smarmy, wry, snark sarcasm, once secure in that identity, now there are moments when I'd give my right arm for a personality transplant.

A month or so ago I thought I would be going to work and saving my children from an overdose of the fallible role model I am. Remember, Burton White is unequivocal when he says that in the second year of life children should NOT be in the exclusive control of their mothers; there are good reasons for that. Now the occupational therapy I had in mind for our fall from graces has evaded me. Now I simply have to try harder. Smarten up instead of smarting off. Sheesh.

For the moments provided by my kids climbing furniture at a dinner party or shoving friends, being late for everything and calling nanny a fool, I am glad to have the words of other parents. I am glad to share reservation and reticence about this youthful impetuousness which is, at times, soundly euphemistic. Thanks to MetroDad for his commiseration with us parent hacks. And, thanks need be cast east for more words on how to forgive any boundaries of cuteness a 3 year old might push when a time comes to dominate the scene. It helps... a lot.

And, in conclusion, here's a vignette of the daughter of p-man as lawyer man. The cardinal rule here, never -- and I mean NEVER -- allow an error in fact to go unpunished. The context is Ms. Fancy's long drawn out refusal to wash her face at bathtime. The exchange concluded as follows:

Daughter: I am not talking to you. I am talking to mommy.
Father: Please, wash your face.
Daughter: I will NOT. I am TOO BUSY!
Father: Wash your face. Or I will do it for you.
Daughter: You are not listening to me!!
Father: So what do you have to say for yourself?
Daughter: I am NOT saying TO MYSELF, Daddy.

Insert sounds of Mo laughing.

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Mother-Woman Unmasked

I must tonight give special attention to volunteerism brought to us by Jen and Mad. It has been a good while I have been mulling over what part I would play in this social justice campaign. But ultimately it seems I won't make the cut this draft season.

I love volunteering. Some of you know that I have done it before. But I don't think this is the year for organized action for me. This is the watershed year for Mother-Woman and that is all I have to give. It is a case of charity beginning at home.

I am not working. I have some childcare. Should be a perfect year to get out there, as they say. But I don't want to be a leader I want to be a superhero. I am filled with ego and optimism. I am out to find my own cape and shine up the MoWo on my leotard. What I am out to do?

Well let's say tonight I will wrap a day tending to my family to make two meals for my dear mama friend who gave birth last Saturday night. Monday I have to take over some more baking for the lunches of my daughter's good friend who has a baby brother in hospital going on a month now. I want to shower my old high school pal with the unconditional support she seems to be needing in her third month of motherhood. And, let's see who else... I am pretty committed to developing the childcare swap on the street that we've all talked about for a year now. Then there are my in-laws; they want a bunch of tech support and I am glad to have the chance to not hesitate this time. Today my friend and I discussed how she could convert part of the landscaped grounds of her co-op into a communal vegetable garden. I look forward to helping with that. I want to see CC and do whatever on the fly not having that age old what's the best time for the kids debate. Hell, I might even make it church as often as Father Joe likes?

For years I have envisioned how I wanted to live and not actually lived it. I have been boxed and busy and tied to that pervasive term stressed. For now, I am not. I don't think this will last long. But I have it now. Delerium is at my heels. I say I want to do something for someone, or with someone, I love and you know what? I just do it. I am experiencing that indefatigable love I so admire in others. It is all I want for now. To be Mother-Woman, strong and pure; there to help and to listen, to support and to give. Superfriend. Wind in my hair and alturism aflutter in my heart... and maybe just maybe a hot purple jumpsuit.

It is pretty micro but it is where I am at. And, I will do all this for the love of giving. Not for the glory. 'Cept on the blog 'course.

Now get thee to the macro.

I am looking into volunteering at the library at my local elementary school. I know, from my business, that they need help all the time and it seems a good way to get to know the school as we close in on kindergarten. I'll update you as that develops.

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Monday, January 07, 2008

Letter From An Occupant

Considering my stellar contributions to the last post I am unsure if it is safe for me to raise my head... for the record, I did not make the comment regarding the use of agents to "raise" my children. Oh no. I was too busy having sex with my wife. (Hands off, L.*)

In between the now-publicized bouts of steamy coitus I have been reading books. Not just how-to manuals, or Penguin, mind you, but books written for people like me, who read books that aren't always books written for parents to read to their kids, or even for kids to read to themselves, but books that aren't for kids, or even necessarily books for people who have kids, and who don't read to kids, because kids make them uneasy. While I had planned to present a compendious "best of" list relating to my activities in 2007, I considered that you, dear reader, may not be as enthralled with categories such as "best shit of 2007" or "best public washroom I used in Vancouver in 2007"+ and maybe I'd be better off not discussing these subjects, however dear to me, outside my head.

Instead, I shall grace you with my favourite reads of 2007, in no particular order but for number 1:

5: A Spot of Bother, Mark Haddon
Maybe not a strong as its predecessor, but an enjoyable read nonetheless. The author does not hesitate to illustrate his characters as the sums of their weaknesses for comedic effect but does so in a humane and entertaining manner. Plus, no-one gets stabbed with a fork.

4: The Law of Dreams, Peter Behrens
I think I nicked this from my mom's shelf. I assumed, wrongly, the writing would smell of blue hair dye and support hose. It surprised me. It smelled of hunger and sex. Or maybe I was hungry when I read it. Or thinking about sex.

3: My Life As A Fake, Peter Carey.
Peter Carey. Enough said.

2: Blood Meridian, Cormac McCarthy
This volume, though slender, is heavy. It is made out of ununoctium.

1: Smilla's Sense of Snow, Peter Hoeg
P-man's sense of snow is: white/yellow; here/not here. My sense of this book is: holy fuck!

I had considered making an attempt to review these works in a prosaic manner. I can't do it - for me, the measure of a book is taken viscerally. As best I can tell, the authors on this list are all very capable of using the mechanical and stylistic devices one would expect from any author of merit. Since I don't know what these tools are I can't describe what's going on. So be itº. Instead, in as sincere a manner as I can muster, I will urge you to read these books if you haven't yet read them. So read them. But not to your kids.

P-man out.

* Unless there are photos.
+ Vancouver Convention Centre, Canada Place. Top-notch, with young white geese for ass wiping.
º One day I will recount my hugely unsuccessful stint as a creative writing major at UBC. A sanguinary experience.


Thursday, January 03, 2008

The Last Revelation

"I don't know how you do it!"

That's what they say. And, you know what, they're right. No one really knows how I run my house, my household, my family. It is a mystery. A world apart; a world alone. There was something to be said for the cloister. At least there were folks in there with you... but this. While I for one, thankfully, have useful peers to rely upon they are much too often outnumbered and outweighed by others. Outflanked by noisy intervenors, so out of line.

I am writing to you today from a pretty high hill of fedupedness. I am still in my professional tailspin, one coloured by an emergent desire to live as fully each day with my children instead. But what future is stay-at-homing? I am loathe to run it down but then again, I will...

I don't know how bad I'll feel about saying this but I'll still say it. I feel at times a reluctance to look after my own children -- devoid of the alternate identity of a job -- because of the indentured servitude to the family engendered by too many men. Please not another directive from some asinine patrimony, not today. Not to me. Come on, you do not have a clue. I am running this show.

I am running this show yet... every second corner seems to drop me into another pit of blood-sucking misplaced prattle from some person with a penis. Sure I have overcome the many opinions of the faux-er sex on all manner of things birth and breastfeeding. Now I have to traverse a minefield of papa-doc-medicalized self help parenting books. Look out for the bombardment of the Paul Kersey hold your ground parenting standards from my parenting associate, p-man. Or how about an incoming hand grenade in the form of florid commentary on child care provided by an employed male out to explain to me that a nanny will, and I quote, "raise my children" for me. Yes, my son, child rearing is a solitary and one-dimensional undertaking, the assignment of a person, the outcome of a myopic system of tasks and drudgery.

I hear you. Sure buddy. There is, and never was, a village? Forget my grandmother and her life of haphazard industry in a community built of families. Forget her days trading off with sisters and mothers, neighbours and friends, all manners of hangers-on. Forget my aunt who was paid for child care while staying at home in 1971. Sanctify my mother and her carless suburban prison. A motherhood she hated and you revere. A family life that built for us this era and its consumer-industrial child-life needs of Safety First and Fisher-PriceClub and Baby Whine-en-stein.

Today, I feel like effing Laura Croft in the Last Revelation. Where is my flamethrower? Gotta blast my way out of here. It is the only escape from these uncalled-for advisors. I would like to want, and like, the prospect of even entertaining the idea of another year as primary care giver but if these are the conditions... I can't do it.

Sorry Dads. Sorry Men. I will confess. You were from the beginning my attraction to the exchange of family thought all over the web. From you I grew this evening's right to rant. So to the many of you who type up a steady refutation of all this -- Mums and Dads, there is an irony that it is in this sphere I choose to get this off my chest. But two things. 1.) Let's face it, there is little my husband enjoys more than when we communicate with each other through the blog. 2.) If this isn't what a blog is for then why bother?

As you were.

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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Madonna and Whore

For the record. The most popular gift for Christmas at our house. A combination of the playdough stocking stuffers and my new toaster oven. Happy New Year everyone.

But I'm not one to dwell on the holidays when I could instead discuss my libido. I have been waiting on this question about "Sex after Baby" and dear bon put it out there again recently. The question being if pregnancy/birth/motherhood de-sexualized me.


I have had a an odd secret since becoming mother-woman. It is the sexual liberation. Where others might feel the pains of sexistential crisis after giving birth I have experienced an odd sort of 'feminine virility'.

I don't know if it is a sad fact or not but I will advertise that pregnancy/birth/motherhood was a pretty up-with-sex thing for me. (Where were we starting you wonder.) But I can say that I was never so over my body image hang-ups as I have been in this context. And never was I out for the very manly speedy relationship validation that sex offered as I have been since the kids showed up. I even found birth a bit of a turn on since I rode high (smirk) on the empowerment it offered me; certainly the most distinguished and triumphant moments of my corporeal being. Don't get me started on breastfeeding.... Let's just say I am one hot momma.

On a finer point I do admit that it is quite likely because I am Catholic. No doubt, I found it was a release to finally have sex 'on God's terms'. I shelved the inhibitions of sin or something? Yee-ha.

All that said -- where do we go from here? I mean now we really have done it all. And now? The babies are born. The Vasectom-US is done. My boobs have offered the last of their milk. Where could I possibly come up with some new material now?