Monday, December 31, 2007

While we're on the subject...

(of poop)

Our realtor took us around on Saturday in this nice community where we would like to live. Each house she showed us was beautiful and spacious and within our price range. It was like some kind of dream. Then she took us to a house she said "was below our price range and a little smaller than the others but might work." As we pulled into the driveway I commented on the ugly drainage pond surrounded by a concrete wall and chain link fence a few lots down; "Oh good, there's a pool!" I said.

My definition of ugly was about to change forever.

The house was small, but cozy and nice. It had a nice formal dining room and a foyer with a coat closet, just like I want. But when I walked into the kitchen/breakfast/family room area which had nice big windows onto the nice big covered deck in the backyard I saw--you will never guess--PORT-A-POTTIES. HUNDREDS OF BRIGHT GREEN PORT-A-POTTIES all lined up in a field behind the house. And because the house was on a hill, it was ALL you could see out the window. Oh, and did I mention the five or six septic tank trucks parked back there? Yeah. Our realtor struggled to put a chipper spin on that. She said something like "Oh, look, the privacy fence is ten feet instead of six feet!" Unfortunately because of the hill the top of the fence was still two feet too short to block the expansive view of hundreds of plastic poopers from the window.

I can only imagine what it's like when the wind turns. I just threw up in my mouth a little just thinking about it.

In my head I could hear the voice-over from HGTV's Househunters saying "The third house was in good condition and was the least expensive but the deck overlooked a storage facility for portable toilets, you know, the kind they put behind the livestock tents at the county fair."

We went back to the car and where I had been making notes like "Pretty floors" and "Updated kitchen" and "Swings in backyard" at the other houses I wrote "Crappers" and shoved it in the no pile. The heeeellllll no pile.

******

Guess where we're going today!! That's right, the Clogged Eustacian Tube Kid is back! On the ninth day of Christmas my mama gave to me... nine days of omnicef, eight nasty fevers, seven sleepless nights, six doses of Motrin, FIVE POOPS A DAY!!, four refused meals, three thrown tantrums, two sore ears, and a yeast infection in my diaper.

Silver lining: Next time we go to the pediatrician we won't have to wait in the Sick Waiting Room because we will be waiting in the Charles H. Lastname Sick Waiting Room at the Academomia Clinic for Pediatric Ear Health. Or perhaps the will institute some kind of "Get your card punched! Buy nine ear exams, get the tenth free!" promotion. Or maybe instead of giving Charlie a sticker they will have my coffee waiting there for me when we arrive. And is it too much to ask that they take the playground equipment of death out of the waiting room? Even though he almost falls off it every single time we are there it calls to him like some kind of primary colored plastic siren. Let me tell you something, you who decide which toys go where, sick toddlers do not take kindly to being told "Please don't climb on that" four hundred times. Especially sick toddlers who know EXACTLY where we are, thankyouverymuch. We need a big TV and some Cheerios and a few issues of Cosmo for me. Is that too much to ask?

Friday, December 28, 2007

Nature or Nurture?

Do all kids think tooting (our family word is ponking) is funny? Or is this another in a long string of things we are doing unknowingly that will no doubt send Charlie to some high-priced therapy in his late twenties?

Once when Charlie was very small, about six weeks, we were getting ready to go out somewhere with my parents. I don't know where, but when you're on week six of maternity leave does it really matter as long as it is SOMEWHERE? He was fussy, but I was on a mission. As my dad carried him over to the carseat the fussing turned into full blown crying. And then all of the sudden that tiny ten pound body made a startlingly loud BRRRRRRAAALLLLLLTTT!! Frat boys everywhere slapped eachother high fives. It was the breastmilk poo to beat all breastmilk poos. And just like that he stopped crying and smiled.

It took us all several minutes to regain composure.

Flash forward to now. Tooting is still hilarious, his own or Rossby's, or even if you make the same noise with your mouth (which is why Ryan got a voicemail while on a business trip of me making fart noises with my mouth trying to get Charlie to laugh except instead of laughing he kept trying to put the phone in his mouth so basically I just left an obscene heavy breathing message plus some bonus fart noises just to up the creepy factor a few ticks).

Originally I thought the laughing might be because tooting felt funny to him, but now I think we've taught him this. How can you not laugh at a baby who, while sitting in his highchair, puts down his Nilla Wafer, turns beet red and grunts softly for several minutes then picks up the cookie and resumes eating like nothing happened (It's especially funny that it still happens, except now he reserves it for nice family dinners or at restaraunts when the inappropriateness of it all makes it even funnier)? And what about the week-long string of mornings several months ago when Charlie greeted the day with a nice big ponk loud enough to be picked up by the baby monitor at the exact same time every morning? I DARE you to maintain a stony disapproving silence in the face of such hilarity.

Now that he laughs first it's impossible to keep from cracking up. Is anything more little-boy-like than laughing at body noises?

My sincerest appologies to his future spouse. But what can you do?

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas Redux

At church on Christmas Eve each kid got to pick out an ornament to hang on the tree. After some coaxing that it was ok to touch them, Charlie picked out his ornament, a dove with real feathers for wings that Ryan and I both thought was an angel at first.

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But then Charlie showed us how it flapped its wings. Now that I'm looking at the picture I have no idea why I couldn't tell that was a bird. Hmm. Anyway, he was really proud of his Dove/Angel and made it fly during the walk to our seat. But sometime during the first song he handed me one of its wings and it was time for Mr. Dove/Angel to rest behind the Hymnals for a few minutes.

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The children's service was perfect for Charlie, who walked back and forth in our pew sometimes laughing, sometimes pointing at something and exclaiming "OOOOOH! BOW!" (which is "wow"). We sang all my favorite Christmas hymns and during each one kids brought their ornaments up and hung them on the Christmas tree. When Angels We Have Heard on High started up Ryan said "That's us!" and grabbed Charlie's hand. We headed down the aisle to help Charlie hang up his now one winged dove (angel?), each holding one of Charlie's hands with Charlie walking between us. It was very sweet.

Here are some more church pictures that are here only because those overalls hurt my teeth they were so cute.

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While Charlie slept (and by sleep I mean did not sleep AT ALL not even a little thanks to my insistance that he participate in the small birthday party we had for Jesus at 8:00 Christmas Eve. Cake + 1 year old + bedtime = no sleep for anyone. But man did he have fun!) Santa came and filled Charlie's stocking. It was like Santa could see into Charlie's little heart. There were Cheerios and Animal Crackers and stacking tupperware bowls! And books!

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Santa even brought Charlie a ball because he knows when you are sleeping, he knows when you're awake, he knows when you flip out at Little Gym when it's time to put the balls away so maybe you'd like to have your own (for goodness sake).

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Later we had dinner with Ryan's sister's family. Charlie LOVED hanging out with the big kids (three and four). When they got close to the Christmas tree he warned them not to touch it with stern sounding babble and a wave of the hand (he must have inherited my obsessive need for everyone to follow the rules).

On the way back to South we got stuck in a huge traffic jam and went 20 miles in an hour and a half. It made our normally three and a half hour drive more like five hours but thankfully Charlie was asleep for most of the boring traffic jam part. Ryan finally had to drive over the grass to get onto the service road (at the end of a line of about twenty cars doing the same thing) because there was just no end in sight. When we got to the front of the huge line they had just closed the interstate because a truck had been involved in an accident and spilled some kind of hazardous chemical onto the road. Sooooooo glad we got off the highway when we did.

It was the simplest Christmas we've had since we got married and it was perfect.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Charlie LOVES Christmas. We are having so much fun. More later. With PICTURES!

But right now I am tired... because who knew that if you fed a one year old a piece of Jesus's birthday cake right before bed he wouldn't sleep well? Huh.

Did Santa bring Mama an open Starbucks? I was verrrrry good this year!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

An Early Christmas Present

Ryan: [just out of shower, wrapped in towel, hair wet] "GEEZ!!!"

Me: "What?"

Ryan: "I was so proud of myself for getting Charlie's diaper changed and PJs off while you were taking a shower!"

Me: "Yeah, thanks for doing that."

Ryan: "But while I was in the shower you got yourself all ready for church, got Charlie dressed for church, and packed our suitcase! How do you DO that?!"

Me: [makes gun shape with hand, blows on tip of finger]

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Just waiting for an angry neighbor to stop by.

Yesterday while I was working at home my phone rang.

"Do you have a small white dog?" said the voice.

"Not again" I thought, my mind racing through all the terrible possibilities... that dog has used up his proverbial nine lives and more. In the old town he ran across six lane streets four times that we know about once arriving at the mall where he jumped into the car of two strangers who called us to come and get him. I've pulled him out of strangers' backyards once, and Ryan had to fish him out of a nearby pond another time.

"Yes, I do." I said, holding my breath.

"He's in my garage... Are you in TheOldTown?" said the voice. I haven't had new tags made yet.

"No, I'll come and get him." I said. She gave me the address of a house just up the street. She came out of her garage with Rossby on a leash and met me halfway.

"I don't know what happened, but there is some blood on his paw" she said. Sure enough there were several streaks of red blood on his right-front paw. What I thought was a tuft of fur was sticking out of his snout.

"He must have scratched himself when he climbed under the fence" I said as I non-chalantly looked up and down the street for dead or maimed housecats. Rossby has a dark history when it comes to cats and there are about a dozen that I see around here on a daily basis. Each fluffier and cuter than the last. Rossby being out of the yard meant a dark dark day for the cats of South. I thanked the woman profusely and took Rossby home. Once inside I plucked the loose tuft of fur off of Rossby's nose and was horrified to discover that it was PART OF A CAT'S CLAW.

Rossby Close-up
"I got beat up by a cat, yo!"

I think I'll spend the day Christmas shopping so I'm not around when the angry neighbor stops by with his sobbing child to explain that the vet did everything they could but couldn't help poor Snowflake and would I please keep my dog in the house from now on.

This morning he was going all Captain Hook v. Ticking Arm-eating Alligator through the window at some poor cat who dared sleep on one of our patio chairs. I hope he has learned something from this.

"Y'all are a couple of assholes you know that?"
Of course moments like this may have contributed to his delinquent behavior.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Proud!!

Dr. Ryan
Here he is! Dr. Ryan! He's reluctant to accept the title, but I'm working on him. Like "Thanks for pumping the gas, Dr. Ryan," "What would you like for dinner, Dr. Ryan?" "Would you please change Charlie's diaper? After all, you are a doctor!"

Guess where he is now while Charlie and I chill at the Embassy Suites.

He's in his lab with his advisor. Yeah. Someone should really tell him that he's done with school forever.

Anyway, here's a picture of Charlie during the approximately five minutes he was able to stay in his seat with us (notice this is even before the graduates arrived).

Charlie at Graduation

We only brought enough milk and Teddy Grahams to make it through the processional. He waved with us when Ryan walked in. He laughed when Ryan put on his mortar board and laughed when the president of the university appeared on the Jumbotron wearing his. I think it was the tassel.

Of course we had to do this before we dropped Ryan's robe back off at the bookstore. The hood reached the floor when Charlie had it on.

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We are back in our old town for the weekend and we've been visiting all of our old favorite spots. Today we drove by our old house. The rosebushes I trimmed right before we moved were all in bloom and the purple, yellow, and white roses looked so pretty against the snowy lawn. (Oh, right, it SNOWED) I could see the outline of the curtains I made for Charlie's room through the window. I wonder if it's still the same pretty blue color we painted it. I wonder if the new owners are using it for their baby.

(I wonder if either of them has gotten spit on while trying to brush their teeth simultaneously in our tiny master bathroom yet. Because it WILL happen. Someone should warn them.)

I dropped in at the old coffee shop this afternoon and I wanted to go to our old grocery store but I didn't want Ryan to think I am crazy so I didn't say anything.

I wish we could stay here. I like where we are now and I love having family so close. But I think the stress of the last three months combined with our recent sad news are making me crave the stability of living in a town where I have lived for the last nine years.

But like I said, it SNOWED. And it is FREEZING. I am not interested in living like that again. The coats, the gloves, the hats, the shivering. No, no, no, and no. And the ice scraping... double no!

I had a meeting with Dr. Advisor that I barely remember because I was so coked up on cold medicine but I think I can put the pieces together with the notes he took and then gave me to take home.

We go back to South tomorrow afternoon and now that graduation is behind us I hope we can settle into some kind of predictable rhythm.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

It's a bird! It's a plane! No! It's the Clogged Eustachian Tube Kid!

Wielding his trusty yellow dust pan, the Clogged Eustachian Tube Kid patrols the land of Kitchen protecting the people of South from misplaced Cheerios, important pieces of mail, and errant morsels of dog food.

Big Helper

Before venturing out he inspects his tools. The coffeepot which gives power to his sidekick, Super Mama, and the mini-chopper which is used to crush super hero food, like chicken, into tiny pieces small enough for the Clogged Eustachian Tube Kid's delicate sensibilities.

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(We are nothing if not organized.)

The important work of the Clogged Eustachian Tube Kid can only be thwarted by his sworn enemy, Pediatrician Man. Pediatrician Man, with his arsenal of torture instruments like baby scales, stethescopes, and tongue depressors, is a dangerous and sinister villain capable of reducing the Clogged Eustacian Tube Kid to a miserable heap of tears. As the Clogged Eustachian Tube Kid and Super Mama are led by a henchwoman (dressed deceptively harmless looking in a shirt featuring kittens and puppies) back to Pediatrician Man's lair they shudder as they hear the screams of the innocent townspeople permeating the walls of the dungeon.

Once inside and alone, the Clogged Eustachian Tube Kid attempts to decode some of Pediatrican Man's plans, which have been carelessly left underneath the torture table. Apparently Pediatrician Man is planning something which involves Big Red Dogs and other talking creatures. The Clogged Eustacian Tube Kid makes a note that Pediatrician Man knows too much about talking animals given the many volumes of intelligence available under the torture table.

The Clogged Eustachian Tube Kid hears a knock at the door. The mere presence of Pediatrician Man is enough to sap him of his strength and composure. As a result he must rely on Super Mama to negotiate the terms of their release.

Indeed, the only hope the Clogged Eustacian Tube Kid has against this vile adversary is to affix himself to Super Mama by coating her shirt with a special bonding agent that is dispensed from his nose. Although she is normally a reliable sidekick, the Clogged Eustachian Tube Kid wonders if Super Mama has mixed allegiances because she sometimes helps to restrain him while Pediatrician Man's evil henchwomen inject mysterious liquids into his legs, robbing him of his powers.

After an encounter with Pediatrician Man, Super Mama reassures the sobbing Clogged Eustacian Tube Kid by invoking their secret phrase of power, a patronizing "Oh, you are such a big brave boy!" and then delivers him to his bunker where he can regain his power by snuggling up with his closest advisor, Mr. Phent.

After a short period of rest and a dose of the secret elixer, unsweetened applesauce, the Clogged Eustachian Tube Kid is able to protect the land of Kitchen once again.

Monday, December 10, 2007

I'm. Too cute for my hat. Too cute for my hat.

Dear Charlie,

Believe it or not, when I make you wear a hat outside, it is not because I want you to be miserable. It is because I want you to be warm. And I only fasten the chin strap you hate so much because if I don't you will take it off and throw it out of my reach once we leave the driveway.

This morning, it was very cold and I wanted to do something nice, so I left the chin strap undone. You didn't know this, because I am sneaky and have secret all-knowing powers, but I waited for a few seconds outside of the car to see what you would do. When I caught you with your hat in your hands, so to speak, you were very clever to try and put it back on reeaaal quick-like so maybe I wouldn't notice that you weren't wearing it. But I could tell something was amiss by the way the hat was balled up in your hand and merely resting on top of your head.

Oh, and one more thing, when you try to take your hat off once the chin strap is fastened, you only end up unable to see (if you get your hat stuck over your eyes) or close your mouth (if you get the chin strap stuck in your mouth like a big fleecy orthodontic appliance). And, like thrown sippy cups and pacifiers, that can only be fixed if we happen to get stopped at a particularly long red light and Mama is feeling generous (and flexible).

So next time your head starts to itch and sweat, remember that it means I love you.

XOXO,

Mama

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Huh?

Ryan and I took Charlie to the town just north of South to have dinner and walk around the town square to look at Christmas lights. As we paused to look in the windows of an art gallery, Charlie (and only Charlie) in Ryan's arms, a man approached us and said "Oh, how adorable... are they twins?"

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Am not durnk, i toook Sooooodifed

Remember this time last year when I thought Charlie was SO HUGE? When he had outgrown his Christening outfit and I called him "Growey McEats A-Lot" and I had to order a size 6-9 months sailor suit online for him? When his biggest accomplishment was fleeting moments of eye contact and the occaisional lift of the head off the floor during tummy time?

Clearly my perspective was a little off. I think it was the sleep deprivation. Or the six-week growth spurt (that nearly killed all three of us but was greatly amusing to everyone lucky enough to witness Charlie's prolonged periods of cat-like yowling for food, in that case boob).

Ryan plugged the tree in for the first time this year and Charlie dropped his coveted sippy cup of milk so he would have a hand free to point at the tree and exclaim "OOOOOH!" then crawl towards it saying "Oooh! Oooooooh! Oh! Ooooooh!" The camera is even more interesting than the tree, as you'll see in the second part of this video, in which Charlie looks like Godzilla compared to the first half. Make sure your sound is turned on.


Charlie Christmas Tree, Then and Now from charlielaughs on Vimeo.


Disclaimer: This post was written while under the influence of Sudifed Nighty-Nighttime. Any spelling, usage, or grammar errors, comma splices, run-ons, and any inappropriate humor should be attributed to the fact that all the keys now look the same on the keyboard and I very much need to go lie down so my brain can finish its important work of beating its way out of my skull like a little chick painstakingly pecking out little pieces of egg shell until at last it is free.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Mama is on the PHONE!


Fun new game: Throw a metal pan, clap with glee at the brain-shattering noise it makes, repeat until you get relegated to the playpen.

Hmm, I wonder if the pregnant friend I was talking to at the time is frightened.

I'm feeling much better. My appetite is back (unless one of the seven steps of grief includes Indian food and cookies), which is too bad because I was almost down to what I weighed in high school. Talking to the nurses at church really helped, which makes me think a different reaction from the physician's assistant would have made a world of difference. I am still sad, but it's nothing like last week when I couldn't walk past the spot on the street where I was when I first suspected something was wrong.

And I just got off the phone with the Too Busy to Care Women's Group to cancel my first prenatal appointment about which they were so thoughtful to have a machine call and remind me. They left me on hold for ten minutes while a chipper voice told me all about their talented and professional and mean, uninterested, ice cold staff of physician's assistants who work closely with your doctor to offer you routine prenatal care. I am d-o-n-e with that place.

I met a midwife this weekend at a party and I was all ready to head over to the South Birthing Center to get cleared for (the next) takeoff until I learned that midwives frown on epidurals in favor of "managing your pain using relaxation and breathing techniques in a home-like setting." And also that "most women go home within six hours of delivery." (to which I say "Oh, how wonderful. How long do you take care of the baby?)

Now if Charlie King of Cranky Babies Everywhere would just take a freaking nap. Because well rested babies don't start crying for no reason at the playground.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Communion Sunday

The church we left in the old town was our home. We had friends there, Charlie was baptized there, and we were consistently late to the service or Sunday School because we saw so many familiar faces as we walked through the building. When Charlie was tiny the girls who worked in the nursery took turns wrapping him up in a blanket and rocking him while he slept. The last week we were there the director of the nursery teared up as she held her own son, just a few months younger than Charlie, and said "I thought you boys could grow up together!"

Needless to say, it was very hard to leave. We have a church here that we like, but haven't had a chance to attend any classes or activities and we didn't feel the same sense of community that we had had before. You can imagine how acutely I felt that absence this week. So today we decided to go to Sunday School. We picked a random class out of a brochure, found the room, and hoped for the best.

There were two OB nurses in the class. They gave me the name of some other doctors to try and said all the things the mean physician's assistant should have said to me.

All I can say is wow.

Friday, November 30, 2007

only a memory

It's funny how quickly you can grow to love something the size of a poppy seed.

I got the first positive test Sunday morning after discovering on Saturday that I was five days late. I guess I just got busy and forgot to count because I had to use this blog to figure it all out. Sunday morning I took the test and it was positive. Two pink lines. We were so excited. I worked hard all Sunday afternoon and all day Monday believing that I only had until May to finish my dissertation before I would be too uncomfortable to work. I looked at Charlie with new eyes. He seemed so grown up compared to a newborn. I saw him as a big brother.

By Tuesday afternoon I knew something was wrong. I told myself that it was just a little spotting and that it happens in 30% of pregnancies according to what I've read. I took another test, still positive, though now I realize that the slightly fainter second line was an ominous sign. Wednesday morning I took a third test and went to the doctor to get labwork done.

Thursday I saw a physician's assistant who told me my HCG level was only fifteen. She was very insenstive and gave me a canned schpiel about how I didn't cause this and most of the time it's just bad luck. She didn't give me any opportunity to ask questions and after a quick physical exam she handed me a kleenex and brochure and left. I will not be going back to that practice.

My HCG level today is only two.

When we had our first ultrasound for Charlie they saw a something that they thought might be a second baby. It was smaller than Charlie and didn't have a detectable heartbeat. Ryan and I joked that we were having a baby and a puppy. It was gone a week later when they did a repeat ultrasound. It was most likely a shadow, but I can't help but look at Charlie sometimes and think about what it might have been.

Charlie's twin and this baby are together now. It makes me happy to think about them playing together.

I'm starting to feel better now.

Empty

An HCG level of fifteen does not a hospitable uterus make.

I have a retest this morning. Think thoughts of thirty.

But the doctor is not hopeful. And I can't handle the disappointment again, so I am not either.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship...

A conversation with the new friend Charlie and I met on the swings today:

Friend: "What do you do?"

Me: "I'm working on my dissertation in wi*nd scie*nce but I'd rather be a lactation consultant. What about you?"

Friend: "I have a masters degree in clinical psychology but what I really want is to be a yoga instructor."

She LOVED my line about Charlie doing the standing sun salute in utero. (which I made before I knew of her career aspirations, hello I am not that desperate)

(Except that I am and I would have done an entire standing sun salute right there on the playground if it meant a new friend who lives nearby)

She gave me her card. But only after I pushed Charlie on the swing for so long he was looking at me like "Sorry to interrupt you Mother, but I seem to have lost the feeling in my legs. Perhaps we should move to the scary stairs of death or the slide now, hmmmm?"

When Ryan got home I did a little happy dance in a circle around him while waving the card enticingly just out of his reach and chanting "I got a numbah! I got a numbah!" He may have thought I was having a seizure.

So anyway, I just emailed her an upbeat "So nice to meet you this afternoon, let's have coffee sometime soon!" Which I think is an improvement from my rough draft "Will you be my friend?" with little check boxes for yes or no. I don't know enough HTML to make that work in an email.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

GOOD MORNING!!

Ooooh, it feels so good. Blazing fast reliable internet after two and a half weeks of "sharing" some stranger's extremely unreliable wireless network. It's delightful. Of course we can't find our wireless router so I can only sit three feet away from the modem. But I don't care. You know what else? Cable. Yes. I'm watching A Wedding Story now and just finished up two episodes of Bringing Home Baby. Charlie's napping. I've unpacked three boxes, sorted all Charlie's clothes, put away the too small and out of season ones, stuffed all the BumGenius diapers, done two loads of laundry, AND brushed my teeth. I've eaten a banana, a cookie, and a piece of whole wheat bread with hippie peanut butter on it.

And I haven't had any caffeine. It's day three. Day one was alright because I had a lot of donuts and cookies. I almost committed several felonies on day two. So far so good today. But I haven't tried to drive anywhere. I'm saving tons of money now that The Big Green Coffee Shop is out of my pockets.

Maybe this is sort of what it's like when a smoker quits and can run up a flight of stairs without getting winded. I can think straight. RIGHT WHEN I WAKE UP! Wild.

The weather has finally improved after being in the low 40s and raining all weekend so maybe we'll go to the park this afternoon. Or maybe I'll still be doing laundry. We've had houseguests for two weeks so I'm a little behind on everything.

I wish I had more to say, but I'm booorrring. Last night Ryan and I stole a couple of minutes to go to the grocery store together to buy paper and pens. Ro-maaannn-tic. He didn't make any comments when I bought more cookie dough, I turned down the radio when Delilah came back on... it's the little things that make a relationship special.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Gratitude

Thanksgiving, and the accompanying deluge of advertising suggesting you celebrate the birth of our Savior (or the miracle of the provision of the oil for the consecration of the Temple, did I get that right?) by buying a six-thousand dollar TV made me reflect on how much I really have to be grateful for and how little I really need. My material needs have all been met. I have a reliable car, a warm place to live, more than enough to eat, and plenty of clothing in good condition that will serve me for years to come. I have a great (warm, kind, sexy) husband who loves me and whose job pays enough that I can finish my dissertation (last post's temper tantrum notwithstanding) part time while still getting to stay home with Charlie much of the time and an adorable, healthy little boy. There is nothing more that I need.

Thanksgiving was fun. We had seventeen at the table. Four generations. Charlie ate his turkey chopped and mixed with mashed potatoes and he has an insatiable taste for cranberry sauce. After dinner the little cousins made paper airplanes from plans in the Dangerous Book for Boys while everyone else sat around the table enjoying eachother's company. Thanks to a cold front that passed through Wednesday afternoon it felt like November outside and when Ryan and I took a very bundled up Charlie to the park to go on the swings there were families playing football in their coats and nice clothes. One dad stopped and said he recognized us from church and wished us a happy Thanksgiving.

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It was perfect!

Oh, and to Mr. Anonymous, who leaves mean-spirited comments on blogs under the guise of a "helpful suggestion": Your indicates possession while you're is a contraction of the two words you and are. Therefore your comment made no sense and I was forced to delete it.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Shame.

My sister just changed careers. With my family's cheerful encouragement and support.

I'm happy for her. Her last job was ridiculous and she was miserable. And the new one sounds really neat and has lots of potential.

One question. How miserable do I have to be before I will have my family's cheerful support in making a change?

How many days have to end in frustrated tears? How many humiliating meetings with my advisor? How many creative answers to questions about my progress from well-meaning family members? How many more fake smiles and artificial conversations about how great it is to be stuck with this decision I made for myself more than four years ago, before marriage, before motherhood?

I am ashamed to want to quit. Much has been invested in me finishing. So although there is no future for me in this career in South. And we are paying for daycare though I make no income. And Charlie learned to shake his head "no" at daycare which makes me think he hears it a lot (I'm not one of those people. But it still makes me worry). I will find some way to drag myself through the rest of this process.

But it won't be for me.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

When all else fails, it's time to trick your baby

Charlie, since he has my DNA, has an aversion to protein foods that are not scrambled eggs. He would happily eat nothing but organic whole grain flax seed waffles (which are exactly like ordinary toaster waffles except they taste terrible and cost twice as much), yogurt, bananas, applesauce, and pears if I would just stop being so mean and let him. He once ate an entire double egg breakfast taco (a tortilla wrapped around about four scrambled eggs) the other day. In the morning I have to give him his banana first and then carefully remove the waffle from the freezer, hide it behind my back, walk sideways over to the toaster, stealthily slide the waffle in and push the button, then remove the cooked waffle to cool. If he sees that waffle it is o-v-e-r for the banana. Tonight I took the empty waffle box out of the freezer in front of him and he sat on the floor clapping and laughing and signing "more" until he realized I was throwing the box away and not making him one. And then he was MAD. Which is really quite funny.

I've been trying to coax him into eating some more of what the pediatrician describes as "table foods" and thinks Charlie is capable of eating exclusively. Tonight I put him in the highchair, cut up some chicken breast into tiny pieces suitable to his toothless mouth, and put the chicken and some peas and carrots on his tray. I then moved to another part of the kitchen because I learned from Amalah that the worst thing you can do is act like you care what he eats. I watched out of the corner of my eye as he put a piece of chicken in his mouth, became enraged, and then flung it onto the floor to our dog. Stifling a laugh, I watched as he did the same thing with a pea and then a carrot. And then a few pieces of Vermont Cheddar that I put on there. Then I sprinkled some Cheerios among the debris on his tray hoping a few things would get in accidentally. Instead I learned that I have underestimated Charlie's sorting and fine motor skills. The same thing happened last night with chicken, rice (which he eats at restaraunts but not at home), and blueberries.

When Ryan came home tonight he got out our food chopper, chopped up about an adult sized portion of chicken, mixed it with a tub of Gerber carrots, and gave it to Charlie who sucked the whole thing down like it was candy.

WHO'S THE MAN NOW?!

This morning I took Charlie with me to buy some donuts for my grandparents, who are staying with us for Thanksgiving (four generations are living in one house right now, it's pretty cool). I bought some donut holes and gave him one to try in the car before we left. He carefully chewed it up and when I couldn't see anything more in his mouth I asked if he was all done. He enthusiastically signed "All Done", so I closed his door and walked around to the driver's side. Clearly I misunderstood him when he signed all done because his angry screams could be heard outside the car before I opened my door. He calmed down after several minutes and then the sugar hit him. He started yelling "YA YA YA YA YA" and talking to himself as we drove home. I hid the bag after he had a few more donut holes at home. But apparently I didn't hide it well enough to keep myself from polishing off the rest of them myself.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

And that's why it only cost $4

I have this shirt that I bought from the Gap a few months ago. It is black and fitted and has a few little buttons in the front and is comfy. And it was $4. Perfect!

You know how when you buy a fancy dress or low rise jeans you always make sure you can sit down in the item before you buy it? I think next time I buy a shirt I am going to spend a few minutes carrying Charlie around to make sure the shirt's neckline does not allow him to expose my entire bra without me noticing. Like he did at Little Gym on Saturday when I was this close to making a new friend. A new friend who now knows I wear a bra with so much coverage I could use the extra material to make a new pair of pants.**

The potential new friend is not the same woman I had this pre-Birds Class conversation with though:

Her: "My Justin is sixteen months old, he's the oldest boy in this class! How old is your little one?"

Me: "He just turned one a few weeks ago."

Her: "Well I guess Justin isn't the oldest anymore, then!"

Me: blink...blink...blink...turn slowly, pretend to fuss with invisible spot on Charlie's shirt

Now Ryan and I have a little routine where I say "I guess Justin's not the oldest anymore, is he?" in a fake cheerful sing-songy voice and Ryan says "WTF?!" and then stares at me with his mouth partway open.

**not that I'm complaining... this thing is straight out of the Oprah bra-makover-lose-ten-pounds-instantly show.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Oh Poop.

So yesterday I dragged Charlie around the mall on a mission to find a good price on Robeez, the adorable and orthopedically correct leather slippers for infants (because his narrow-minded daycare insists he wear shoes to class and also because my mom offered to buy him some because he looks so darn cute in shoes) and when we got home he was conked out in his carseat. I carried him up to his room and changed his diaper. The thought of putting his shorts back on briefly crossed my mind, as he has been known to escape from his diaper before, but I thought that since he was so tired he would go to sleep quickly without any diaper hyjinx.

A little PSA to my two or three readers who are expecting little ones... NEVER PUT THEM IN THEIR CRIB WITHOUT SOMETHING BETWEEN THEIR LITTLE HANDS AND THOSE DELIGHTFULLY TEMPTING LITTLE TABS ON THEIR DIAPERS.

I am dumb dumb dumb.

So, about twenty minutes later I was sitting on my coffee table watching Maury (because we can't find our remote and channel surfing is impossible from the couch) and Charlie started crying. At first I thought he would settle himself down and go back to sleep but then I noticed something different in his voice. Something that said "I removed my pants and am now totally covered in poop. Please come help me, Mama" perhaps?

Yes, that's exactly what he was saying.

The smell hit me as soon as I got to his door. I carried him (at arms length) over to his changing table and looked at the tiny box of wipes and then back at his long, chubby, poop encrusted legs AND arms. Not only would wipes not work, I would almost certainly get poop all over myself in the process and since I only have three shirts that I like I couldn't take that chance.

Silently cursing myself for feeding him black beans for lunch, I took him into the bathroom (which thankfully does not yet have a rug in it) stripped him down, and put him straight into a bubble bath. He did not object. Once he was clean and dry and dressed in both a tshirt AND shorts, I started on his crib. Everything (bumper, sheet, blankie, Phent, pacifiers) went into the washing machine. I went back upstairs and found more poop on the floor, the wall, the bars of the crib, all over the changing table, and on the bathroom floor. Oh, and on my shorts where he was playing with the hem while I was getting his bath ready.

I found a little more IN HIS EYEBROW later in the harsh glare of the lights at the grocery store. I licked my finger and dabbed at it and smiled at the other mothers like "Heh heh, kids can't eat anything without getting it everywhere." Which in an indirect way is true I guess.

He will be sleeping in thumbless mittens from now on.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

BAM!

Dear Dr. Lastname,

(what the hell??)

I am writing to ask if you would be willing to review a manuscript for the Journal of Sciencey Gobbledygook.

(Wha?)

The manuscript title is "Hard hard hard scary sort of related to your research." Please let me know within the next few days if you will be able to take this on.

(Uhhhhh...)

Sincerely,

Editor

(Uhhhhh...)

I IMed Dr. Advisor and told him I'd decline and pass along his name and he said "You are qualified to do this but you may not be comfortable critically reviewing a paper at this time." Orrrrr maaaybe they wouldn't be comfortable with ME because they THINK I ALREADY HAVE A PHD!! Maybe it would be like that time I went on a field project trip as an "expert in residential construction" and ended up sitting in the back and writing down field notes the whole time. Educational for me, disappointing for them.

Yeah.

But still, pretty cool! Almost makes the ENTIRE DAY I spent making histograms yesterday seem less asinine.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

We're In The Big House

Yesterday the movers came and brought all our stuff to the Big House where we will be living until we can buy something of our own, probably this summer. The Big House is the house I lived in from eigth grade until I graduated from high school. So yes, nine years of higher education, a husband, and a child and I am once again living with my parents. The parents have suggested I tell people that they are living with me, instead of the other way around, but really it's going to be great. They love Charlie, Charlie loves them. The house is plenty big enough for all of us (it was selected with the goal of surviving daily life with two teenaged girls and so unless you get hungry and need the kitchen you can take care of most of your needs without encountering another person). Our living area swallows up our furniture. And the rug that used to cover the entire exposed floor space of our living room now fits nicely into the foyer (it's an average sized foyer if that gives you any idea of the size of our last place).

I love it here. And it was so great to have our bed back after three weeks of sleeping on the craptastic bed at the tempo-partment with the pit of despair in the middle. Even with Mr. Crankypants waking up approximately fourteen times between 4:00 and 6:20 the first morning and ten times between 2:00 and 4:30 this morning when I finally brought him into bed with me and sent Ryan to the couch where he could cough without waking us up (this cold Charlie brought home is a doozie, we have both had it). The Big Green Coffee Shop, the grocery store, and the video store are all within walking distance so now I don't have to drive so much; my soul feels calmer already.

I spent yesterday unpacking and trying to keep Charlie off the stairs. Boy is he into those stairs. He can crawl all the way up in less than a minute, giggling the whole way. Ryan and my dad installed a shiny new baby gate. One that screws to the wall. It should keep Charlie off the stairs but it will also be fun to turn off all the lights and get on the other side of the gate and ask our dog if he wants to go for a walk and then listen for the "FWUMP!"

I just got back from the Tempo-partment with a big load of our stuff so I need to go put it away before my dad gets back with the first load of their stuff and this experiment in multi-generational living begins.

Monday, November 5, 2007

It's a Party for ME!

It's a party for ME

This post is not witty, but there are many pictures

Charlie's birthday weekend, or the Festival of Cake as we are calling it, was lots of fun. It started Friday morning at the Tempo-partment where he unwrapped his first present, a bus wagon full of big legos, and had his first piece of cake. Then we took donuts to Ryan at work to celebrate and went to Ikea to pick out a couple of toys together (the inflatable hedgehog was nearly irresistable, but somehow I managed to leave without it).

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He loved the busdriver. Now all we need is a construction worker, an Indian, and a cowboy and we'll have The Village Little People!

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"Wait, this isn't bananas and plain yogurt!"

Next we went out to my parents' lakehouse for his first party, with more toys and more cake and a very late night for Mr. Charlie who was getting whiney until he saw the cake come out with the pretty candle on it.

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"I want to go to bed please."

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"OOOOOOOH!"

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"Yummy! Have you guys tried this? It's delightful!"

Saturday was his real party with the big family and lots and lots of different dips (because I should really write things down when planning a party instead of wandering around the grocery store half asleep grabbing everything that sounds good to me). I made him this dog cake.

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The dog cake almost didn't happen because my engineering background made it nearly impossible to figure out how I could make a dog cake without brown icing. Because dogs are brown, duh! After a good ten minutes trying to figure out what colors you had to mix to get brown I just grabbed some blue and red icing and sprinkles and left. Sometime later in the car (and not coincidentally after I'd had some caffeine) I thought "Blue dog! Of course!" And only now that I am typing this does the thought occur to me that chocolate icing is brown.

Sheesh, is it any wonder I'm having so much trouble with my dissertation?

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Happy Birthday, Little Man

A year ago tonight Ryan and I were sitting on the couch fidgeting and making awkward conversation as we waited for the appointed time to go to the hospital so that labor could be induced. Around eleven o'clock we got up, took one last glance around our child-free home and gathered our pillows and hospital bag. As we pulled into the parking lot I remember wishing with all my heart that there was some easier way to get the baby out. I was terrified. But I kept picturing this teeny infant with short dark hair wearing blue pajamas. I imagined how he would feel when I held him, how warm his head would be. He did have some blue pajamas, but his hair was long and turned reddish after a month. He looks nothing like the picture I had in my head.

That night in the hospital was surreal. I felt fine, but I was hooked up to an IV and a fetal monitor and confined to my bed. In the morning they came in and checked my blood pressure and temperature and started the pitocin IV. The contractions started immediately and my doctor suggested I get on the waiting list for an epidural so I did, even though I thought we had many hours to wait. After an hour and a half the contractions had become very intense and I only had a thirty-second break between them. I lay on my side and squeezed a wet washcloth in Ryan's hand while he rubbed the small of my back with his fist.

Finally the doctor came in and gave me my epidural. I was so comfortable I suggested that Ryan go get something to eat because, again, I thought we would have several hours to wait. About five minutes after he left the nurse came in, did an exam, and said "I'm going to go get someone else, I think I touched his head!" The new nurse said "All I can feel is his hair, you're ready to push!!" I said "But my husband is at Sonic!" Fortunately they said I could wait for a few more minutes as long as I was comfortable.

When Ryan came back it was time to push. I got an oxygen mask because Charlie's heart rate decreased with the contractions. My OB decided to use the vaccuum extractor and he was born after four contractions or so at 11:55. My doctor laid him on my chest and I held him in my arms. I remember thinking that he didn't feel small and helpless like I thought he would. He was eight pounds and ten ounces, so I guess he wasn't as small as some newborns. His hair was curly because it was wet. He cried and cried while the nurses examined him and wrapped him in a warm blanket. They handed him to me and then everyone left the room and it was just the three of us. He only stopped crying when he was nursing and he had no trouble latching on that first time.

It's so weird calling him Charlie in that context because I didn't know him at all then. We had just met! He was so different than the rambunctious little boy he is now that it seems impossible that they are the same person. It has been so much fun getting to know him.

Tonight he had trouble going to sleep so I held him and he laid his head on my chest and his hand on my stomach and fell asleep. As I listened to his quiet breathing and waited for his eyes to close I thought about the first time he fell asleep on my chest a year and one night ago. I thought about the nurse bringing him in to nurse in the middle of the night and waking up and awkwardly trying to latch him on and watching him eat in pure amazement.

Today he was miserable on the car ride to meet Ryan for dinner so while we were waiting in the parking lot I pulled him out of his carseat and let him eat. The first time I nursed him in the car he was so tiny I held his whole body in one arm. This time I had to leave the door open so his feet could hang out. And this time when he was full, instead of snuggling into me to sleep, he waved at a longhorn in a nearby field and said "Bye bye!"

In one year he's been to Dallas, Austin, Pittsburgh, Washington D.C., Boston, Maine, and Cape Cod. He's been to two parades, one professional conference, Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Make Way for Ducklings statues in Boston, Little Gym, and trick or treating. He's been on a boat, a train, the subway, and a wagon. He loves to swim but hates baths (even if it's in the big tub and he wears his swimsuit). His favorite food right now is a jelly sandwich on a croissant but he also likes chopped spinach mixed into plain yogurt.

So, happy birthday Big Boy! I can't wait to keep getting to know the neat little person you are becoming.


Charlie's First Year from charlielaughs on Vimeo.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Bye bye also means "Trick or Treat!"

So. Which picture do you think we should use for the old family Christmas card picture this year?

This one?

Family

Or this one?

Chillin

Here he is showing off his haul

Candy

We had a great time. I didn't know that Halloween is such a boozefest for the parents. My uncle stashed a twelve-pack of beer in the wagon "for Charlie to lean on" and most parents were walking around with a drink in their hand. In fact, I think that's why everyone had wagons, because you need two hands to steer a stroller and only one to pull a wagon (you also need two hands to get a kangaroo laden wagon out of a stranger's landscaping, something that should be tried first instead of nearly tipping your kid into the bushes as you try to push it out backwards with one hand while holding your beer and a plastic pumpkin full of candy with the other). Is this normal or do we need to buy in that neighborhood?

Charlie had a blast riding in the wagon and shaking the candy in his pumpkin bucket. People patiently held out pieces of candy for him to take and put in his bucket. He pointed out all the decorations to us. He was one tired kangaroo when we got him home nearly two hours after bedtime and went straight to sleep after his bottle of milk.

And now Ryan and I are feasting on his candy. Without even having it X-rayed! Because we're wild rebels over here. I wish he had gotten one of those LSD soaked tattoos they used to send letters home to parents about when I was in elementary school. Because a couple of those, a little background music (the Tonight Show probably), and things could get PRET-ty crazy around here at the temporary apartment.

Ooh, maybe once my mind has been freed I can finally fix that problem I've been having with my Matlab code!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Quack quack

Something happened to my voice and if I try to speak I sound like a sick duck. I took Charlie to the park today to try to make some friends. I got all gussied up in a black tshirt and some brown capri sweatpants and even thought to dab on a little lip gloss as I got the stroller out of the trunk of the car but as soon as I opened my mouth to talk to a potential friend it was suddenly time for a diaper change or a nap. I'm probably the subject of some kind of phone tree now. Awesome.

We were in another town this weekend for a family wedding and while there I got to meet the wonderful and talented Kyla over coffee one afternoon. Her strength and ability to keep her sense of humor in a tough situation inspire me and I really enjoyed meeting her face to face.

Now for some pictures because I really need to go to bed soon so I can get some rest and Charlie doesn't laugh every time I try to speak tomorrow like he did today.

At the Church

Here he is before we went into the wedding. He made it through the bridal procession before he started getting chatty. I gave him his sippy cup which he snatched from my hand and then threw his head back to drink with such gusto that it made a loud THUD against the pew, eliciting giggles from people sitting around us. Then he started pointing at all the candles and saying "OOOH!" and when I picked him up to hand him to Ryan I grabbed him in just the wrong spot and he let out a big burp that echoed through the sanctuary. Ryan and I made some nice friends standing outside the front of the church.

Biggest Dog He's Ever Seen

Charlie was delighted by this huge dog that came to the reception pulling a carriage. He greeted the horse by sticking out his tongue and panting, which is what he does when we ask him what our dog Rossby says. The green hoodie is part of the "Oh shoot the reception is outside and he's getting over a cold and I found this in the back of my car" collection.

AAAAAAAAAAH!!

He took a good nap after this terrifying experience. But at first he loved the lights and he clapped his hands and waved at his Nana and Ryan every time we passed them. "Bye bye!"

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He was enjoying this swing ride so much that I just kept pushing him until he was nearly asleep. Then it was time to go inside for dinner and the birthday cake that our hosts had bought him.

Charlie "sat" at the table and ate dinner

He ate his piece standing in a Pack and Play that we pulled up to the table. Is that a happy boy or what? He tested the crib's design limits by jumping up and down between bites. He had no trouble falling asleep in the car on the way back to South. He's such a cool kid.

Friday, October 26, 2007

An open letter of apology to my sister...

Dear K,

I should have known better than to bring Late Afternoon Charlie out in public. I really should have known better than to bring Late Afternoon Charlie to your Starbucks where you were clearly already having a busy day. I thought he would be OK because clearly I have lost my mind.

I should not have let him see his cup of milk before I was ready to give it to him. I shouldn't have pushed the straw issue so hard. Had I given up sooner there would have been much less milk to clean up and much less ungodly screaming.

I should have just shared my coffee cake with him instead of hiding it in my purse and taking little bites when he wasn't paying attention. I should have known that it couldn't last, that he would see one bite go in my mouth and demand to have some in that adorable loud way he has when he is tired and being forced to sit in one place and drink milk from a cup.

And when he started doing that "limp baby" thing as a means of sliding to the ground outside so he could pick up cigarette butts and rearrange all the deck furniture, I should have known it was time to go instead of insisting to you "He's FINE!" as he got his head stuck in the arm of a chair and screamed until I freed him. Twice.

One day you may understand the itchy feeling of desperation to leave the house that sets in around 3:00. How it makes you do things you wouldn't normally do, like push a manic almost one-year old around Target for an hour, mouth hanging slack, eyes wild, and then leave without buying anything. Or think things like "I need to buy mascara RIGHTNOW. If I go to the drug store two counties over I can burn like an extra thirty minutes in the car!"

It is my sincere hope that next time I come into your store I will be alone with my book and my iPod and I will sit quietly in a chair and read and not spill anything or alienate other customers by staring at them with milk dribbling down my chin. And I will not look like a meth head. You have no idea how much I want that to be true.

--Becca

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

When Green Goo Attacks: Mother of the Year Application Essay

Oh my goodness. We can never move out of our temporary apartment. And not just because of the orange ring of scum that's forming around Charlie's highchair.

Tonight I was on my way out and three kids were riding their scooters around in the parking lot while one mother looked on and chatted with the friendly woman who waves at Charlie every evening when she takes her dogs out when another mother walked out onto her balcony, clean plate and dishtowel in hand, and yelled "Get out of the street, right now!" at two of the scooter kids.

You may not know of my secret desire to live in a rowhouse where I can yell things out the front door at my cadre of children playing in the street. "Char-LEE! You better not be playing with that fire hydrant again!" I am fascinated by the huge family of my friend Godmother who is from Pittsburgh. I met them at Godmother's wedding and they were FUN. She said something recently about having a big Catholic family of her own one day. That sounds way better than what we would be. A "big Methodist family"? Come on!

Does anyone know how to achieve a big family without ever going through a pregnancy again? Because let's be honest, that was not a pretty time for me. And a lot of it was not fun. Feeling him move was cool, eating cookies all the time was cool, waddling was not cool.

Woah. This is going nowhere. Charlie woke up at 3:00 this morning as happy as can be--babbling, waving bye bye, pointing at the fan. He had a fever that was making him goofy. I gave him some Tylenol and he went back to sleep. When he woke up he had green goo coming from his eyes and nose. I dabbed it off and we went to Little Gym and had a great time. I attributed his slightly cranky mood to not having had a morning nap and the goo hadn't come back so I figured it was his environmental allergies. Sorry, sorry, sorry everyone else at Little Gym. After we had lunch with my dad I finally broke down and bought a new thermometer. I took his temperature in his armpit in the car while he whined and squirmed and I sang "Old Mac Charlie had a Farm" to try and keep him calm. When he finally got away from me his temperature was 99.2, but the thermometer hadn't stopped going up yet.

The doctor taught me some new baby holds that I used to hold Charlie's head steady long enough for him to look at his ears. There are not many good places to hold onto that adorable round head of his.

Guess what! First round of antibiotics didn't even touch his ear infection! And now it's in both ears! And also conjunctivitis.

Charlie remembered his manners near the end of the appointment and when the doctor was walking out the door he stopped crying, waved, and said "Bye bye!"

I think the baby holds are going to come in handy when it's time to apply the conjunctivitis ointment. We should probably put a notice on our door or something. Something like "Sorry about the noise. We are not raising wild cats in our apartment" or "Please don't call CPS. It's medicine."

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Pictures, because my dissertation isn't going to write itself*

Two pictures of Charlie with his favorite things on earth, dogs.

The only thing they have in common is their love for the balcony
This is where we wait for Ryan to come home. When Ryan gets out of his car, Charlie waves and laughs and sometimes says "Bye bye!!" and jumps up and down. "Bye bye" is like "aloha" for Charlie. Hello? Bye bye. Good bye? Bye bye. A truck passes the apartment window? Bye bye. A dog is on TV? Bye bye.

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Minutes before this picture was taken he was sobbing for me into my aunt's shoulder (I was standing about two feet away. With my hand on his back.). He forgot all about how under-rested and clingy he was when my aunt brought this big dog down the stairs. Put me DOWN Mama! Adogadogadog! Bye bye!

*and apparently the only way out is straight ahead. whatever.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Back from the clutches of the rogue antivirus software that attacked my computer

Just back from two terrifying days during which I couldn't comment on blogs or check my email unless I walked up a giant hill to the complex's business center. I walked up the hill exactly once (and sat at a computer next to a guy who was Googling a slightly scary psychological condition) and that won't be happening again. Interestingly, the fitness center is also at the top of the hill. Once I got there, huffing and puffing from the walk there, I was only able to eek out ten minutes on the elliptical and a half-hearted arm workout with some free weights I found. Hardly worth it if you ask me.

Which brings me to my next topic, post-pregnancy, post-breastfeeding bra shopping. Or, "They Only Look Small to You". Because after nineteen months of looking like a fertility goddess, being able to wear a button down shirt again is exciting, but before you happily grab a bunch of cute little C and B bras off the rack and trot off to the dressing room you should consider your already fragile body image and perhaps start with something a little larger and work your way down. No one wants to be the one stalking out of the dressing room red faced and empty handed. Hate. HAATTTEEE.

I decided to postpone looking for a new pair of jeans.

So, no, I didn't find anything.

Mr. Charlie is quite the cranky boy this weekend. He has this scream-choke-scream combo that works its way into your head and reduces your intellectual age to approximately six months. He was doing it tonight when Ryan asked if he should run out for some Baby Orajel and I answered by rocking and crying and making a low gutteral sound.

At the church luncheon he devoured half a banana without me cutting it up first. When he saw the banana he lunged for it and started signing "more more more" so I just gave it to him thinking he would suck on it like he does apples. I was pretty proud of him, and even bragged to the friendly strangers sitting at our table, until I fed him a spoonful of beans and he threw up three large unchewed chunks of banana and all the beans I had given him all over my pants. But when my mom gave him table food at dinner he sat in his booster and sobbed until we gave him some jarred turkey and vegetables instead.

Is this teeth? Or do we need to call a priest for an exorcism?

Friday, October 19, 2007

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Little Gym, my new BFF

We arrived a little early, at 9:15 for a 9:30 class. Which to my neurotic self is about five minutes late because the man who runs the place (and who is an alum of MyUniversity, GUNS UP!) asked me to get there early and 9:15 is merely "on time". As soon as we entered the lobby Charlie began pointing through the windows into the Gym and saying "Oooooh!" over and over again and trying to wriggle free of my grip.

The class began with Bell Time (timid smile, gentle bell shaking) and then it was time to walk around in a big circle together. For Charlie, the youngest kid in the class, it was time for me to hold him by the elbows ("Spot from the elbows, Mom, so he can learn to balance all by himself" dislocated shoulders be damned) and drag him in a circle while his little feet struggled for traction. He loved it (huge smile, lots of shrieking).

When it was time for Do Whatever You Want Time (or as Charlie called it "so happy I'm going to explode time") I let Charlie go and he crawled faster than I've ever seen him go over to a giant foam ramp. He crawled up the ramp and then beamed at me proudly. He also loved the tunnel, where he crawled back and forth so fast I thought I would have to go in there to get him (this was similar to a game we played at TheOldHouse in which he would crawl under the dining room table and I would run around to the other side and "scare" him and he would collapse in a fit of happy screaming and giggling. He could play for hours if I wasn't such a selfish mommy who wanted him to eat dinner and take a bath). He loved trying to hang from a wooden bar and his teacher helped him do a flip (he demonstrated readiness by hanging his head back when held on his back near the bar, or something).

Once he even seemed to forget that he doesn't know how to walk yet because he stood up in my lap and tried to take off after a little girl on the big foam ramp.

Ball time, where the bigger kids learned to throw while Charlie satisfied his oral fixation, was fun until it was over and then it was NOT FUN, but by that point he was totally exhausted.

He had such a good time that even before I knew how well it would make him sleep I paid for the rest of the semester. And then I went to Ulta to pick up some nail polish and clippers to replace the ones that are in storage because oh my gosh I was not prepared to have to take off my shoes. And also a hairbrush because they packed that too and I was tired of looking like Steven Tyler. Nine years in TheOldTown have not been good for my personal grooming standards apparently.

Charlie fell asleep immediately when we got home for an hour, but the best part was that he slept an hour later than normal this morning. I rushed through my morning routine expecting him to wake up any second but soon found myself watching the Today Show and periodically checking his vital signs.

I can't wait for next Wednesday.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Late Mom

There are fifty-three minutes between now and Charlie's first Little Gym class. Where is Charlie? Why am I sitting at my computer and not sipping a caffeinated beverage in the not-local coffee shop that shares a shopping center with Little Gym? Because someone needed some quiet time in his crib.

You see, he is having some trouble dealing with disappointment. In particular, he learned to turn on the TV today. At the exact moment he turned it on there was a commercial for dog food on that showed one life-sized dog face after another. The ecstatic shrieks of delight came to an abrupt and angry end when The Today Show came back on. After that nothing would do but trying to climb into the fireplace or chew on our wireless modem. Suggestions to do something else were met with angry sobs. He was asleep in less than a minute.

And now the caffeine headache that began on the back-right side of my head has spread to the top middle. And soon I will be "Mom Who Shows Up Late with the Mad Baby and the Starbucks Drink." But hey, we're in the big city now! When in Rome, right?

Monday, October 15, 2007

At least he'll learn to make his bed neatly and shine his shoes

Guess who has his first day in the toddler room tomorrow! Yeah. When the hell did THAT happen?

When I visited all the babies were sitting on tiny chairs around a round table having cheese and crackers.

Always eager to please, I assured the director "Oh yeah, he's eating table food," which to me I guess means "food that can be placed on a table and not sucked from my boob" and then she handed me a calendar with their daily menu. Cheeseburger day promises to be a struggle.

Know what happens after morning snack? Arts and crafts time. Am I the only one who is having trouble picturing a kid who rubs mashed bananas in his hair like it's leave-in conditioner patiently gluing macaroni to a cutout of his hand?

And also? No cribs. They have funny little cots. And only one nap. Apparently in South "daycare" is a euphemism for "military school for babies."

I visited another center today that was very nice except that all the other kids in Charlie's room were eight feet tall and they wore shoes and ran and were very very loud. Charlie clung to my chest and looked very concerned. He would have been trampled! I cooed "Oooh, Charlie, look at all the other kids! Aren't they having fun!" as I backed out slowly and then ran to the car once I passed the main office.

(speaking of "ooooh", Charlie's newest thing is pointing at something he finds interesting and saying "oooh!" I wonder where he learned that! Ryan noticed it in the lights and fans section at Lowe's)

So anyway, it's only two days a week. I'm still a nervous wreck (imagine!). I can get some work done, Charlie can learn a few things during "Applied Physics and Rocket Science Time" (which is just after afternoon nap).

Stay tuned for a blubbering mess of a post tomorrow.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

They call it "the cable"

Did you know you could hook a wire up to the back of your TV and get like ten million channels? It's true. We have one in our swank corporate apartment. Correction, we have TWO in our swank corporate apartment. We also have a cookie sheet. Together they made for a nice evening of eating cookies and watching the Law and Order SVU Marathon. Perfect. Only problem is that our balcony faces a road and it sounds like the Space Shuttle is taking off outside every time the light turns green.

Charlie and Phent are sleeping off an ear infection diagnosed by a friendly doctor who saw Charlie nursing when he walked into the exam room and said "Hey, Little Man! Having a little afternoon snack?" then helpfully offered to hold Charlie while I "got reorganized." Charlie amused himself during the wait by crawling in and out of the automatic sliding door and loudly shrieking with joy every time it opened. We were totally that family.

Ryan and his parents and all my clean clothes are still on the way down from the old house. I think I'll move the bedroom TV out here and watch two shows at once. And eat some Oatmeal Cream Pies.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

South or Bust

My dad and Charlie and I leave tomorrow afternoon after the movers finish loading the truck. When I picked up Charlie at daycare on Wednesday his teachers were both wearing shirts that said "Charlie Don't Go" and he was wearing a pink shirt that said "Charlie We Love You" that every one of the teachers at the center had signed.

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So yes, I'm all sniffy and sad. And this morning had a little freak out because of my presentation which is now over. By noon all of our stuff will be gone. They packed my toothbrush and my hairbrush. I won't have access to them for a month while we live in a corporate apartment while we "wait for our rental to be ready" which is code for "wait for my parents' renter to leave so we can move in."

I've been to the coffee shop three times in two days. I studied for classes my sophomore year here, a year that started with a one! So much that the staff thought my study partner Robert and I were "a thing" (which, hahahahahaha!) and always brought him two forks for his cinnamon roll.

There is so much we will miss. I love driving by the hospital where Charlie was born every time I go to school. I love our church. I love our pretty house.

But maybe it's better we are leaving a town where you can take pictures like this in public. I mean really.

Living la vida redneck

Next time you see me I will be coming to you from our swanky corporate apartment in South. The title will probably be "I'd love to have dinner with you but we'd have to come down all those stairs to get to the car so I'll have to pass."

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

That'll be Dr. Husband to You!

This is the face of the newest (and hottest) PhD at MyUniversity.

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Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Later this post will be used as part of my insanity defense

No time to post... busy preparing to move and working on a presentation my advisor insists on me making on Thursday while my dad supervises the packers at my house and Ryan receives his fourth IV Immunoglobulin transfusion (like the one that gave him a fever of 102.4 on Friday night and caused me to freak out to such a degree that my dad cancelled all his plans for the week and drove up to help us (and keep me from buying more stuffing)).

Ryan's dissertation defense is tomorrow and then my mom can say "My dawtah married a doctah!" to all her friends because she is sometimes an ethnic New York City Jewish woman trapped in a New England Episcopalian's body.

I'm stealing five minutes at the coffee shop where somehow I confused the barista (who was a man, so it is probably "baristo") so much that he brought me (just me) a glass of iced tea and a cup of coffee and a smile that says "Enjoy all this caffeine, clearly you need it more than we do."

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Next Stop, Cat Store

You know how you're not supposed to go to the grocery store hungry? I would like to add that you should never go to the grocery store after a post-advisor-meeting freakout, a misunderstanding with a friend, a conversation with your pastor/friend about how sad you are about moving (in a week), and with a baby who refused to take an afternoon nap so you could watch Oprah and sleep on the couch.

Can I offer anyone some comfort food?



So yes, the more rational part of my brain, a big part of which was delivered along with the placenta, knows that I am moving a week from tomorrow (!!) and that it's time to start cleaning out the fridge and not baking brownies and casseroles like a crazy cat lady. But the more emotional side of my brain has the rational side pushed up against a wall in an alley and is all "Man I'll CUT YOU if you make a single sound do you hear me?!"

Did you know the cranberry sauce isn't out yet at the store? It's a shame because it would have rounded out tonight's dinner of turkey, green beans, and stuffing so nicely. What's funny is that even though I spent like ten minutes in the canned vegetable section looking for cranberry sauce I didn't feel even the slightest bit crazy until I got home and unloaded all that stuffing.

I've scheduled a haircut for tomorrow. Maybe this isn't the best time.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Delurking Day

It's that time again! Introduce yourself! I'd love to meet you.

I'll give you a topic:

If you had free childcare for 24 hours and an unlimited budget, what would you do?

I would hire a personal baker and chef to fill my house with delicious treats. While they were working, Ryan and I would sleep late and then linger over a breakfast of coffee and chocolate chip scones then go for a long bike ride around the lake. We would come home for lunch and a long nap then go out for cocktails. We'd finish off the day by coming home for a delicious dinner and movie together. Then we would sleep. No really.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Behold my Generation Y-ness

I nearly killed myself by caffeine overdose yesterday. Every available drop of moisture was sucked from my entire body. I was twitchy and scattered and very very irritable.

Why did I do this? What could have possibly been so bad?

My car broke down. In my driveway. When I was trying to go to the coffee shop.

It started and then stalled and then made this machine gun noise when I tried to start it again (and then it started yelling unintelligably and shaking its fists at the heavens because WHAT NEXT?! COME ON BRING IT! Maybe that was me.).

I already had a caffeine headache, so I had to act quickly. I had sent my coffeemaker to South with my dad to get it off the counter so the kitchen would look bigger. So I briefly thought about walking to Arby's down the street but thought once I was there the temptation to also get a large order of curly fries would overwhelm me. Then I considered the drug front/taco restaraunt on the corner but that was too scary.

I would have to make my own tea. I filled up our electric tea kettle and dropped two Lipton family sized teabags into our lemonaide pitcher. I poured boiling water over the bags and went to the other room to check my email. When I came back the tea was so strong I couldn't see through it. I tried adding water but even when I had almost filled the pitcher completely the tea was still too dark. "What are you going to do?" I thought as I poured myself a nice tall glass, being sure to use lots of ice.

That was a mistake. Not as much as the second glass though.

Whoops. Sorry about the attitude, honey! Thanks for fixing my car! Kiss kiss!

Hi Charlie!
Can you believe this little guy is eleven months old today?

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Pictures: Because my brain is busy trying to figure out why it's still so hot outside.

Friday, Godmother and I took Charlie to pick apples outside of town. Thanks to my blog-friend Sarah for the great idea! Unfortunately there were no apples on the trees because of a late freeze this spring. Fortunately they plied us with apple turnovers and tea. Charlie loved his turnover and had fun with the pumpkins.

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Gameday we dressed Charlie in red and took him for a walk near the university. I think Charlie's spirited pigtails contributed to our University's sixty-eight point victory. Absurd and unnecessary sand kicking? Yes. Deeply satisfying? Yes.

Another Rowdy Game Day

Our friends J and D hosted a going-away barbeque in our honor. During the party, Godfather announced the score of the ball game. In keeping with a tradition begun during my time as an undergrad (when, after the traditional parading of the goalpost through the streets, several dozen students stripped down and jumped into a fountain on campus), Charlie celebrated by taking off all his clothes and jumping in the nearest pool of water.

At the Last Hurrah Barbeque

Sunday we bought these chairs from our friends (who bought them at a yardsale a few years ago) and dragged the big bad couch to the garage. They came with ottomans!

New Chairs

Do people with real jobs trade furniture? Because we've replaced an entire living room worth of furniture for less than $100. I really need to remember to not respond to Ryan's boss's wife's "Those shoes are darling!" with "Oh! Thanks! They were my friend A's. One night we all got together with the stuff we were going to take to Goodwill and traded. It was so much fun."

What's it like to not be in school? Someone hold me.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Charlie and Becca and the No Good, Mixed Up Day

I never should have washed Phent. Karma is pissed.

I left my house to get some work done at the coffee shop. And I was on my way to having a very productive day. The most productive in weeks, probably. I was in the middle of tracking down all the work I've done all spring and summer and sorting it so that I could begin summarizing it and maybe even writing some sentences (Nay! Paragraphs! Paragraphs I say!) when Charlie's parents'-day-out called.

"Has Charlie had any yucky diapers recently?"

Yes, five blowouts in three days, five poops on Monday, two on Tuesday, and three yesterday, each bearing a striking resemblance to Grey Poupon Country Style Mustard.

"Ummmmm, yeah, maybe a couple... why?"

"We've had a bit of a stomach bug going around here and he just woke up with a very yucky diaper and he's also been coughing..."

"Heh heh, well he's been coughing since May and now he's on something for allergies."

"I see...." trails off, pregnant pause

Consider alternatives: Let him stay until pickup (another three hours) knowing that he's pretty much over the bug he had and knowing how much more fun he has there with all of the giant plastic toys they have and become known as the Mother Who Lets Her Sick Baby Stay at Daycare. Settle into another cup of tea and possibly a scone and three uninterrupted hours of work on my dissertation.
Or...

"Why don't I come pick him up now?"

"Thanks so much! See you in a few minutes.

We did lots of fun things. We went out for lunch, we played on the floor, he crawled all over the house, he climbed on the couch, we took cars out on the driveway and he crawled all over pulling up on our neighbor's fence and my car. He was covered in grass and dirt and certainly looked like he had had a good time. But he just wasn't himself all day. He was quiet and moody instead of loud and happy. At dinner he alternately ate ravenously and then screamed and pushed the spoon away. When I put him to bed he nursed for twenty five minutes and fell asleep. He woke up as soon as he hit the crib mattress. Ten rounds of "House at Pooh Corner" had absolutely no effect. That was forty five minutes ago. I met Ryan at the door like "I don't know what's wrong we did so many fun things but he just had a bad day and now he won't go to sleep please help me I'm gonna cry."

Ryan's in the nursery now and they are both giggling.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Be afraid...

As I write this Phent is in the washing machine. Charlie had a blowout in his crib last night and since Phent is never far from Charlie's side, he got a little poop on him. When I mentioned it to Ryan (on the phone when I called and told him I would be buying a new TV today because the NBC premiers are on tomorrow and our TV doesn't GET NBC at all now) he said "OHHH! Poor Phent!" Ryan should know better than to personify Charlie's toys around me. I immediately felt like a jerk and pictured his black plastic eyes looking up at me as I sprinkled him with Tide and the closed the li... let's not go there.

He better by dry by naptime is all I'm saying.

So many post ideas, so unable to sit up for that long yesterday

What would you like to hear about first? The dead mouse I found? Or my horror that pleats seem to be coming back into style?

I'll get to those in a minute. But! Our house is on the market. We even have a yard sign. I had to tell my elderly neighbor that we are moving and she was very very sad. I knew that would happen so I waited until about five minutes before my realtor called to tell me to go ahead and put the sign up in the yard. The neighbor said "I thought I saw that woman carry that sign up to your porch but I thought if I ignored it it would go away." See? Sad. I felt awful.

Yesterday we had a group of realtors come over to see the place and then a potential buyer. And I was SICK. I was up all night Monday night throwing up about every hour and was generally miserable and unable to sit up on Tuesday. The group of realtors insisted I sit on the couch and not worry about them but I thought I should be gone for the potential buyer so as soon as I saw the big fancy car parked out front I got in my car and drove around the block. I thought about going to the coffee shop but the thought of having to walk ALL THE WAY to the front door made me queasy so I parked across the street a few houses down and watched what was going on (and almost threw up into a Starbucks cup hastily emptied of its original contents onto the curb. Only then did I notice that the door of the house I was parked in front of was open. Awesome). Feeling much better today, thank goodness.

So the mouse! You may remember me mentioning a "dead thing smell" in our kitchen over the last month or so. It was a truly awful smell. Ryan-the-mouse-hunter checked all the glue traps we had in the cabinets but found nothing. Every time the realtor came over we had this candle that we burned to try and cover up the smell because "Great curb appeal! Two living areas! Smells like rotting flesh!" is not what I wanted on our listing. Anyway Sunday night I made pancakes for dinner and before I put the electric skillet back (when Ryan had already gone back to work) I stuck my head in the cabinet to see if I could find the smell.

DEAD MOUSE. ON A GLUE TRAP. RIGHT WHERE THE ELECTRIC SKILLET HAD BEEN AND ALSO ABOUT SIX INCHES FROM MY FACE. I ran all over the house looking for my phone, shrieking "EWW EWW EWW EWW!" Found my phone.

Me: "EEEEEEEECH BLARGH SHITSHITSHIT!!!!"

Ryan: "I'll be home in five minutes."

You would have thought he had bagged an elephant on a safari he was so proud. (He's like the groundskeeper in Caddyshack when it comes to mice. One night last summer he came to bed at two in the morning and said "Little effer stood right in the middle of the kitchen counter and flipped me off.") He seemed a little hurt that I couldn't be happy for him.

Now for pleats! I went to Old Navy this weekend as part of a yearly tradition I call "I need a new pair of jeans even though actually shopping for them will make me hate myself, stop eating for a day or two, and then eat wild amounts of junk food for a week before settling into a more normal pattern." They had tons of stuff on clearance, including some of the knee length denim shorts I've been looking for since everyone besides me started wearing them this spring. I found several nice pairs in my size. Only problem? They had PLEATS! A brief check of several other styles resulted in more pleats! What is going on? Didn't we all agree that pleats are flattering on no woman, no matter what her size (and certainly not mine) like ten years ago? I looked around for the cast of 90210 because obviously I wasn't in Old Navy, I was in 1994!! I do not understand.

Good news is they had great jeans for cheap cheap cheap and because they seem to have instituted a policy of vanity sizing I wear my old size again. Sweetheart Fit, you are my new bff.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Darn it, now I want a hot dog.

Last summer Ryan and I sat on chairs in our backyard cooking hotdogs on the grill (then using the buns to pick them up and eat them without even getting up from our chairs) and talking about the new little life that would soon be in our home and how next summer we would have a tiny little molded plastic baby pool that he could play in. I envisioned having friends over and we would sit by the pool drinking Crystal Light with our feet in the cool water while Charlie played and looked adorable.

But because of the way this summer has gone we forgot about the baby pool until September and instead gave him a nice cake pan and a hose to play with.

*Note his gameday attire (minus one pair of red shorts that were taken off in the foolish hope that he would take a nap).

**These pictures were taken before victory was so callously ripped from the hands of my beloved University Football Team by the evil Football Team from Another University (and also before my beloved University Football Team forgot to come back after halftime, but that's neither here nor there. But really.) I don't want to talk about it.

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Blissed out baby. If he had a favorite hobby, it would be "splashing". Later he would fall asleep before his head even touched the crib mattress.

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DRINK! DRINK! DRINK! DRINK!

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New botanical print diapers (with REAL leaves and grass!) now available at a retailer near you!

Blow Bubbles Like Ths
All things that are like spitting make Charlie laugh hysterically. The only one laughing while I showed Charlie how to blow bubbles in the water was Ryan. And also, grassy hose water tastes exactly the same as it did twenty years ago at the end of the Slip 'n Slide. Delicious.