Thursday, August 30, 2007

I love a parade

When I think about what a firetruck with its lights on and siren going must look like to an infant, I don't know why I thought it would be so much fun for Charlie to go to a parade that began fifteen minutes after bedtime.

The streamers hanging from the tree were a huge hit though.



The parade was to celebrate the return of our local Little League team from their World Series bid, where they came in third place. It consisted of the university's marching band, who played "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," policemen on motorcycles, firetrucks, and then convertables that carried the players. The families of the players rode behind the convertables in SUVs.

Charlie clung to me while the firetrucks passed. He buried his head when they honked their horns. And when they were gone, he couldn't hold in the miserable whimpering any longer.

After the Parade
Me: "Charlie! Look! There go the FIIIIIIRE TRUCKS!!"
Charle: "I am begging you. Put me to bed right now. This is the most terrifying experience I've ever had."

I had so much fun. AND we got dinner for a dollar each--hot dogs, chips, drinks, and ice cream sandwiches.

There's so much I will miss about this town.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


To: Doctor Advisor
From: Becca
Subject: Today's Presentation

I will not be able to present my recent research today as planned due to the following reasons:

1. Period. Yuck. (and also, what the hell? Am I just going to be fatigued and nauseous for the rest of my life? Is that my baseline now? Because that paired with an irregular cycle is enough to freak me right out of drinking three cups of coffee a day at least a week out of every month. And then I get NOTHING done.)

2. Ryan took the last of the pizza that I was going to eat for lunch today.

3. My breastpump isn't working and I don't have any shirts big enough to make me not look like a hooker.

3. There was a cockroach in my school bag and I will not have access to any of my notes until Ryan comes home and determines that it is safe to bring it back inside from the back yard where I threw it (while shrieking "shitshitshitshitshit").


I need to lie down.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


By the number of imposing shiny new SUVs that have invaded my city you would think that Roman Grant of HBO's hit polygamy drama "Big Love" had staged some kind of takeover.

But the reality is far worse than takeover by a cultish polygamy compound.

That's right. Undergrads. They're back.

And since most of them are still going to class (for now), you take your life into your own hands every time you leave your driveway. The little ones are tasting independence for the first time and as a result they callously disregard many accepted physical laws. Like how it's impossible to compose an email about how trashed you got last night at the Kappa Bappa Flappa party on your iPhone while navigating your three-thousand pound missle of death through our streets. And how you can't turn right from the left-hand lane. And how there is a limit of taste and good sense regarding blond hair dye and tanning that, once exceeded, will result in no one, least of all your professors, taking you seriously.

Ryan's fifteen minute commute took nearly thirty minutes yesterday. We live less than five miles from school, but when he got out of the car he looked as though he had spent all day patrolling the streets of Kandahar.

Behind me in line at the coffee shop the other day was a Nicole Richie wannabe with "Juicy" spelled out on her carefully sculpted butt in rinestones (how do you sit down in those pants by the way?). Her pronounced sighs and eyerolling betrayed her distaste for my athletic shorts, unshaven legs, and loose-fitting tshirt featuring hurricane warning flags and a handy guide to the Saffir-Simpson Scale for hurricane intensity on the back (I know I shouldn't leave the house like that, Mom, but it was a caffeine emergency). I met her scornful gaze and smiled warmly. She just stared at me from behind her giant sunglasses.

That would have intimidated me nine years ago when I arrived in MyTown ready for my freshman year. But now I know better. In another five years we will all be sitting together in the audience, indistinguishable, $30 lipsticks replaced by drugstore lipgloss in our sherpa-sized purses, while we watch our kids enthusiastically belt out "This Little Light of Mine" at our church's Christmas Show.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Wait, what was I saying?

Just when you can no longer burn 500 calories a day by exlusively breastfeeding you start burning 800 calories a day running around your house one step behind the little guy averting disaster. Even making dinner becomes and aerobic feat as you put the water on to boil, run to the family room to check on the baby, cut up a carrot, run to the living room to retrieve the piece of Tupperware you need, put the chicken in the microwave to defrost, leap over the kitchen table, sweep baby into your arms as you say firmly but calmly for the frillionth time that day "NO fireplace. NO fireplace."

(I just can't stomach becoming a hand slapper. The fireplace fascination seems to be waning so I hope I'm on the right track)

Bedtime came about thirty minutes early tonight and both Charlie and I were happy to have the rest.

Charlie graduated to the Crawlers room at church today and he didn't tell his new teachers that he usually has a nap at 10:30. At 10:45 he went for a ride in the Bye Bye Buggy with his class, which is made up of five other babies who are all older than Charlie and much more fun for him than the tiny babies in the Infant room where he was before. By 12:00 they found him standing at the music table bent at the waist, head down on the keyboard.

We went out for breakfast this morning. Ryan and I each had a breakfast taco and a donut. Nibbs had a dry Kashi hippie waffle and some water in his Man Cup.

Our coaster days are over. Tip for the pre-climbing set? Use board books as coasters. Or better yet, only drink things in the kitchen and only put them on the counter, which, thank goodness, is still out of reach.

Ryan fixed another computer problem I was having. It was a totally inexplicable problem I was having Saturday morning with software I wrote in 2002 that has been working just fine ever since then. It just stopped working on Saturday morning when I needed it, causing data not to go where it was supposed to and me to collapse on my bed in angry angry tears laced with many many threats about quitting. Ryan "fixed" it by doing exactly what I had done, only he is a man.

That last paragraph was mostly to show my Grandma P that I am working. Endlessly. On my dissertation and on keeping the house going and on all of us eating and wearing clean pants. Oh shoot I forgot to put MY laundry in.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


When I put Charlie to bed he cries. He nurses for twenty minutes, falls asleep, then when I move him to the crib he wakes up and cries bitterly. He always settles down after about ten minutes, so we figured that's just what he needed to do to get to sleep.

Ryan put him to bed tonight with a nice full bottle of formula. He went to sleep without a peep.

Pumping used to take ten minutes each time. And I'd get seven or eight ounces. Now I can hook the pump up for almost an hour and get five ounces for the first session and one ounce for the second. I have five hours of work time a day and almost two is spent distracted by the pumping.

In the morning this week Charlie has been unusually whiney but calms right down when Ryan gets him to daycare and gives him his breakfast (a whole banana and some oatmeal).

He's almost ten months old. I don't think I'll be able to make it two more months.

And how could I not know he was hungry? I feel awful.

And I'm sad.

But this is all that matters.
(Also pictured: Phent, Charlie's sleeping buddy)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

So cool

Recently I've been trying to do something fun with Charlie on the way home from his daycare. Sometimes we go to the library to play in the big pile of bean bags (that was a huge bust because all he wanted to do was push his stroller around and I just couldn't let it go). Sometimes we go to the park to play on the swings or in the sand.

Yesterday we went to the coffee shop so I could use their high speed wireless to finish downloading some files for school. Charlie flapped his arms and squeaked with excitement as I pulled his beloved shape sorter from the trunk of my car. I ordered a drink and we went outside to the deck. I opened my laptop, Charlie pulled a plastic ball out of the shape sorter and inspected it. I connected to the internet, Charlie pulled out another block out and shook it. I couldn't do what I wanted to for work so I put my computer away.

We had a wonderful time shaking blocks together and then hitting blocks together, rolling the balls along the boards of the deck and trying to roll the balls across the boards. Then Charlie crawled over to a bench that separates two sections of the deck and pulled himself to his feet.

I watched him for fifteen minutes as he played with sticks and leaves on the seat of the bench. I'd watch him stick his head through the back of the bench to look at the other side, then try to figure out how to get his head back to other side. He would let go with one hand and then dance and laugh when I told him what a big smart boy he was (complete with hand clapping and exaggerated happy faces, no one else was on the deck thank goodness). He stared in amazement at the patterns made on the wall when the wind rustled the leaves of a tree.

There are no babies here. Only one really cool little boy (albeit one who sleeps clutching a blanket that has an elephant head and feet sewed on).

Here is a re-enactment of Charlie standing up at the coffee shop.
Fort 2
It was just like that except without all the enticing electrical cords. On a related note, how many times can you gently bump your head on a desk without crying while you don't think anyone is looking at you? Seven million. What happens when you gently bump your head one time while Mom is sitting right next to you? Loud loud screaming.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Because there is no such thing as a perfectly normal Saturday afternoon in my world

Yesterday we went to a friend's son's birthday party. This family used to live next to us, down the street from ex-con and meth-dealer housing, but now they live in a shiny new neighborhood with a powerful neighborhood association that screens potential residents to make sure no convicted sex offenders move in. It's a lot like Pleasantville.

We were a little early for the party so when we saw an Open House sign we decided to take a look. I developed an elaborate story for us to tell the realtor (Ryan was new faculty at the university, I was a labor and delivery nurse, we wanted to buy our first home--Thanks Kyla for your contribution to our story). When Ryan went to get Charlie out of his carseat he found that Charlie was covered with a carrot-spinach puree pesto sort of spitup and would require a change of clothes. Ryan was about to change him on the hood of my car, but I hissed "You're a professor now, you can't have our naked baby out on the hood of our car!" so he opted for the passenger seat instead.

The house was georgous. It smelled clean and had a huge living room and the master bathroom could have housed all of Charlie's bedroom furniture as well as a small loveseat and flat-screen TV (which presumably does not require hitting when you want to watch The Office). The kitchen had a place for a table and a tile floor. I smiled like an idiot as I imagined a living room without a kitchen table in the middle of it and a place to feed Charlie that wouldn't require half an hour on hands and knees with a bottle of Resolve afterwards. I know you are supposed to play it cool around seller's agents but I couldn't help yelping a little when I saw the walk-in pantry.

Yeah, we're totally over that "let's live in a tiny apartment downtown so we can walk places" thing. We want square footage and a garden tubs and a double vanity in the master bath. Bring on the petroleum!

The party was fun. Charlie likes birthday cake. So much that after his two alloted bites he whined pitifully for more while I savored the rest of my piece. Whoops. (I gave him some pineapple after and all was forgotten)

On the way home I noticed Ryan squinting a lot while he drove. I thought he was being dramatic. I was wrong. Over dinner his eye got really red and painful. I found someone to stay at our house with Charlie then took Ryan to the Minor Care Center at the hospital. About halfway there Ryan, who was riding with both eyes closed and wearing sunglasses, said "You know, I think you're right, I'm glad I didn't try to drive myself." He has a scratched cornea. He has no idea how it happened. He got some drops and is feeling much better now.

Unfortunately, the doctor told Ryan he would not need to wear a patch. But he said I could still call him as Cyclops sometimes.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

We're going to South!

We'll move sometime in early October. I can't wait. Even though our dream of urban living has been compromised to the point that we will probably be living in a McMansion and driving an Ford Expedition by the time we are thirty.

And now for A Collection of Anecdotes Too Short for Their Own Post:

Tonight we are supposed to get hit by the remnants of Tropical Storm Erin. It looks really neat outside right now. Given my dissertation topic (Hurricane Boundary Layer Turbulence) you can imagine how jazzed I am about this. Maybe it is time to suck it up and pay the $12 in late fees we owe so I can rent a movie and make homemade macaroni and cheese and enjoy the rain from inside my cozy house.

Charlie is crawling a lot now. This morning he repeatedly went after Rossby while he was eating. Rossby was not pleased, as you can imagine. Although now Rossby sniffs Charlie's diapered bottom while he is crawling. There has been other behavior that indicates Rossby thinks Charlie is a special present that we brought home just for him (if ya know what I mean heh heh). This results in harsh words and immediate exile to the back yard for the poor confused puppy.

Charlie can now sit himself up from laying down. It still cracks me up when I hear a strange noise coming from the nursery and go in there to find him sitting up in his crib crashing two pacifiers together like cymbals. Last night Ryan and I were watching him at bedtime. He was sitting up with his back to the door, idly picking at the label on Phent. After a couple of minutes he abruptly pitched forward onto his tummy, bottom up in the air, and went to sleep. Too funny.

All of our stuff seems to know that we are thisclose to having a real income for the first time in our life together. We don't have cable, so the only stations we get are NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox, and whatever channel Gilmore Girls was on. This is not a big deal to me because there are only a handful of shows I like to watch and they are mostly on NBC. But now! NBC doesn't work right. It works, then gets fuzzier and fuzzier until finally it loses the signal all together. To fix it, you have to flip up to ABC and then back (of course!). This technique works about half the time. Another ten percent of the time the problem can be fixed by a well placed whack to the back of the TV. Threats and remote control throwing do not work, but they are still oddly satisfying.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Just go to bed, we'll talk about it in the morning.

I was going to write about the cuh-razy party I went to on Saturday night to celebrate A's husband K's graduation (heh, Dr. K) and how it culminated with me, A, and a new friend, we'll call her C, locked in the guest bathroom of our friend AJ's house trying to remove a large red wine stain from the front of C's tank top by spraying her with Shout and dabbing at her with little pieces of toilet paper. For some reason we thought that if we got the stain out her boyfriend wouldn't notice how drunk she was even though he could probably hear her yelling in Spanish through the bathroom door ("Tuve un vino pequeño! Tuve una cerveza pequeña! Lo siento!" I had a little wine. I had a little beer. I'm sorry.). I don't know why people think it's not fun to be the sober one.

Or I could tell you about how we brought the Pack and Play so Charlie could go to sleep in the guest room close to his normal bed time and Ryan and I could still enjoy the party (Ryan: ping pong tournament, Me: wine and inappropriate stories with A, AJ, C, and A's mother and mother-in-law) but for my first act as Mother of the Year I forgot to bring Phent-the-elephant with us and Charlie couldn't sleep. Instead he cried and crawled all over the tiny crib looking for him. Ryan said when he got him home and put him in his own crib he grabbed Phent and drifted off immediately. Poor poor Charlie.

I'd tell you all about that but instead I have to call Student Financial Services AGAIN to argue about my missing paycheck AGAIN (third time this summer...and I get paid monthly so yep, that's every paycheck since June). But that's for another post. If you see me picking up cans on the highway you can blame Student Financial Services and the sub-minimum wage high school dropouts they seem to employ.

Friday, August 10, 2007

...the littlest of these

One evening several months ago I got a phone call from the childrens' department at our church. I believe I was in the middle of something important at the time (probably watching Desperate Housewives or something) because I only vaguely remember the conversation. The cheerful voice at the other end asked if I would be interested in helping out with the kids on Sunday mornings. Since Charlie spends about three hours in the nursery each Sunday (while Ryan and I go to Sunday School and church and linger over free muffins and coffee in the parlor and talk like big people) I thought it would be nice if I could do something to help. Cheerful Voice assured me that it would be a huge help if I could just spend one or two Sundays in the nursery helping with the babies. Perfect! No lesson planning, no questions, just a couple of hours watching Charlie play with other kids and changing the odd diaper here and there. The commercial break was ending. I signed up.

Today I got a fat envelope in the mail. I opened it. It was my volunteer packet for the church. Among the usual lists of rules and handbooks and information forms printed on pleasing pastel colored paper was a large chart (printed on less pleasing white paper with black and red text). It was the teacher schedule. I scanned the left-most column for my name. I found it. It was printed in bold. It was beneath the "Toddler Sunday School Teachers" heading. There were asterixes (??) next to my name. My eyes nervously searched the page for any hint of what those two asterixes meant. I found the key. Panic striken, I read these words: **denotes Lead Teachers.

Oh no. No no no no no. Cheerful Voice clearly has me confused with someone else, someone more capable than me of teaching toddlers about Jesus, like say Lindsay Lohan. Or Brit Brit. Or at least someone who can, I don't know, drive their baby to daycare without muttering something obsene about another driver? Do I have to get a perm? A motif sweater with alphabet buttons?

I can already see the scowly looks of diapproval I will get when little Timmy asks his mama "What's a fiery furnace?" before dissolving into tears over his post-church Buckaroo Basket.

Do we sing? Paint? Debate the doctrine of Biblical inerrancy?

What comes after "This is the church, this is the steeple..."?

Oh shi-- cra-- dar--- golly! Oh golly! Those kids are going to eat me alive.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

We're moving to...

You don't know how badly I wish I had an answer for you (especially you, you, you and you in North and you, you, you, you, and you in South). In the mean time, enjoy some pictures of Charlie in his fort:

Charlie in his fort

Charlie in his fort

He got in there all by himself last night while Ryan and I were deciding whether we would like to give Charlie a Norman Rockwellian childhood complete with sledding, ice skating, and trips to the beach in the summer or if we would rather leave the house between the months of October and April without contracting pneumonia and dying.

The offer from South came this morning (I nearly backed my car into the FedEx truck so eager was I to get to the coffee shop). We opened the cardboard envelope together at the coffee shop. It did not contain the burning bush we had hoped for (Nevis, private jet, free childcare?) but it was good. Ryan is so cool.

I think we have made a decision but the deadline is tomorrow which leaves a lot of time for mind-changing. And given my fickleness of late, there could be a lot of mind changing. Just to be safe I should stay away from freezers, roads, stairs, pictures of my family, my cell phone, and instant messenger. Oh, and Craigslist, because that website is dirty dirty crack to me.

I think we'll have another frozen pizza tonight because ALL DECISIONS ARE TOO HARD.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Here Comes Trouble




Sorry about the blurry pictures. I think it has to do with the Heisenburg Uncertainty Principle. Or maybe just because I wasn't using my flash. Or maybe because Charlie moves SO FAST.

He started almost-crawling Saturday night while wearing nothing but a baby bathrobe, size newborn, that didn't quite cover his whole bottom. I'm sure you can imagine how disappointed I was that my camera was in the other room.

No news here... believe me I wish I could post a big fat "MOVING TO ..." but we're having trouble filling in the "..." I was so sure when I posted the other day that we would be going to North, but then the Perfect Apartment (central air, two bathrooms, walk to six coffee shops, two subway stops, a playground, a Trader Joes, a Whole Foods, and the river. Heat and hot water included!) was taken down from Craigslist and I thought the Universe was trying to tell me something, like perhaps we should just live out our days in my parents' basement (it's a very nice basement actually, with a living room and a kitchen) because this whole adult thing was just TOO HARD.

I've been avoiding Craigslist. Ryan goes near-catatonic when I bring up the subject of Great Apartments Available Now That Won't Be When We're Ready. We've decided to delay making a decision until Thursday, the last possible day when hopefully we'll have some more information about South. But unless that information is that they are offering Ryan $500,000 a year, use of a private jet, and a condo on Nevis, I really don't think it's going to make the decision any easier.