Thursday, January 31, 2008

1-2-3 Latin for Babies Here We Come

It seemed like Charlie was chattier yesterday after waking up from his big nap and having a bottle of milk. I thought it was just me. But when Ryan got home from work he was amazed at how much more he was talking.

He was using new sounds, new inflection, and babbling about EVERYTHING. Charlie snapped a rubber band that was hanging off a doorknob and shrieked and giggled at the noise it made.

He was in the living room with my parents while they watched American Idol and he started dancing along with the auditioners (bouncing at the knees, jazz hands outstretched, swaying side to side).

When Ryan was putting him to bed Rossby barked in the back yard on the other side of the house from Charlie's room and Charlie stopped drinking and said "Woof woof!" then opened his mouth really big and panted like Rossby does. (he already had both those tricks before, but he's never noticed Rossby barking before when he is in his room)

He laughs when he hears Rossby's collar jingling when he runs through the house, a sound he never seemed to notice before.

We were walking into the grocery store today and some eighties pop song was on and the second he heard it he started dancing in my arms (I started dancing like a fool along with him right there by the shopping carts, so excited was I about his newfound hearing. If you saw someone in the grocery store this morning who was totally oblivious to her surroundings and who was dancing with a toddler and exclaiming "Good! Music! Yes! Good boy! I like this song too!!" then we probably live near eachother).

The words he already uses sound clearer and more distinct from eachother ("Mah mih" used to be interchangably "more milk" and "Mama" but now I can tell the difference).

He's more confident with his walking too. When he was watching American Idol last night (I know I know) he walked all the way from the couch to the TV cabinet because he wanted to (previously we had to encourage him to try but he just took off this time).

He was always a happy kid but this it totally new. We accidentally kept him up until 7:45 last night (usual bedtime is 6:30) because he was still so happy we didn't even KNOW he was up late. Usually we don't even look at the clock--we just put him down when he starts getting cranky--and it's always about 6:30. But tonight our system stopped working because he was such a happy guy. Everyone told me I'd notice a change, that he'd be a happier baby, but I didn't believe them because he was already such an even tempered, happy kid. I had no idea there was room for improvement.

The change is amazing. I am so glad we did this for him.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Bionic Baby

Tubes are in! Charlie did great. After lots of waiting the procedure and recovery only took about twenty minutes.

We arrived about an hour early because I allowed too much time for traffic and getting lost (which is good because there was traffic and I did get lost and even spent about fifteen minutes waiting in the waiting room of the wrong place). A nurse called Charlie back pretty quickly though and while we waited Charlie and Phent got to ride around in a wagon and play with a toy dog that danced and sang "Low-ride-er". The wagon ride seemed to hypnotize him so I just kept making laps up and down the hall to keep him calm.

Charlie Gets Tubes in his Ears
Here he is in the wagon with the singing dog.

Charlie Gets Tubes in his Ears
Here's Charlie with another kid (named Jet, how cool is that?). Charlie and Jet were a hit among the nurses. They had lots of fun together until the doctors came and took Jet to the back in his bed. Then Charlie seemed nervous.

No worries... A few more laps in the wagon and he was practically asleep. I put him and Phent in his crib and sang to them for a few minutes and Charlie fell fast asleep despite being so very hungry. He wasn't allowed to eat anything after 2:15 this morning and he was asleep then so his last meal was dinner last night. He repeated "NaNANah" (banana) like a mantra all the way down the freeway, all the way in from the car, and for a while in the waiting room. I was so relieved that he was able to sleep. Not to mention being wiped out from the four mile wagon pulling marathon.

Charlie Gets Tubes in his Ears

He was still asleep when the doctor came to get him. He and the nurses whispered their instructions then carefully pulled back the curtain and gently rolled Charlie down the hall, still asleep.

After the procedure, a nurse carried him out to me, carefully cradled against her chest. Charlie was half asleep but still hanging on to Phent and his pacifier. I get a little vaclempt whenever I think about the nurse telling me on the phone that he could bring his lovey with him. Because he is just a tiny little guy and was going to be all alone with doctors and nurses wearing masks and hairnets and they were going to be doing things to him and he would be all alone and that's SCARY.

She led me to a big comfy recliner chair and handed Charlie to me. He cried and curled into a tight ball on my lap. He finally relaxed when the nurse gave him a sippy cup full of apple juice. He drank all the juice without taking a break and then started crying again when it was gone.

My mom had left us some money to treat us to lunch on the way home, so I took him to a diner where they are known for their all-day breakfasts and really huge pancakes. Charlie sat on my lap and stared intensely at the eggs and bowls of fruit on our neighbor's table until the waiter brought him his plate with a pancake and two scrambled eggs on it. When he saw the waiter headed our way with a tray heaping with mountains of food glorious food he spat out his pacifier with so much force it landed about five feet away from our table and lunged for his plate. Every time he ran out of little pieces of pancake he pointed at the plate and bounced in his seat "More! More!" I fed him big bites of egg with my fork. His appetite was insatiable. He ate almost the entire pancake and most of the eggs and was still asking for more when I vaguely remembered something the nurse had said about vomiting and decided it was time to go.


Then he took a three hour nap.

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Evolution of Charlie

They say babies have trouble sleeping the week or so before they accomplish something new. If that's the case then I expected he would be reciting the Odyssey to us from memory by now. In the original Greek. But this is pretty cool too.

Behold the biped.

Untitled from charlielaughs on Vimeo.

The last clip is my favorite. I love how proud he is!

(Yes, as a matter of fact that IS our Christmas Tree in the background. What the hell month is it anyway?)

It all started when my mom had finished reading him a story and set him down on the floor on his feet expecting him to drop to his knees and crawl away. Instead he just stood there looking at us like "Why do you look so surprised? I've been doing this for HOURS."

I think he chose today to finally put it all together because he had so much fun in the older toddler nursery at church. They said if he still couldn't walk next week he'd have to go back to the young toddler nursery where they don't go out to the playground or sit at a table and eat snacks (but where they do cuddle you in a rocking chair until you conk out and start drooling). That kid will do anything for a Goldfish.

p.s. I should be working out right now but I'm too full of our latest ethnic cooking experiment--latkes--to even consider it. Ironic, eh?

Sunday, January 27, 2008

If the world was fair, I'd be able to add this skill to my CV

Tonight while Ryan and I were enjoying a romantic dinner of sausage with cinnamon apples (which is the closest thing to dessert you can make for dinner after age twenty-two incidentally) I asked Ryan which pajamas he had dressed Charlie in. I like to picture Charlie all warm and snuggly, sleeping in his cozy footie pjs and I wanted my mental picture to be accurate.

Ryan stopped chewing, put his fork down and smacked his hand over his eyes. "Don't worry about it, it's not that big of a deal" I said. "No" he groaned "I forgot to put his jammies on."

"Did you change his diaper?"

"He's sleeping now, I'll take care of it after dinner."

"Better take a bottle up there with you. He's gonna be pissed."

After dinner Ryan went upstairs with a bottle of milk so he could wake Charlie up to get him ready for bed. He came back down moments later holding Charlie's red fleece pajamas and the full bottle and said "You know, he IS wearing sweatpants. I'm sure he'll be warm enough."

"He's had that diaper on since 3:00."

"Oh, right."

Charlie was out cold, having had a big morning in the 15-18 month nursery at church, where they get to go outside on the playground and eat Goldfish crackers sitting at a table, and then spending the afternoon looking at houses with our realtor after skipping his afternoon nap. We peered over the side of the crib. He was laying on his tummy on top of Phent. We thought it would be a fun challenge less disruptive to try and change him without waking him up. Plus with the writers' strike it's not like we had anything better to do.

I carefully removed one of his shoes and socks to test the water. It didn't phase him.

Socks are a piece of cake though. While Ryan pulled the ankles of the pants, I carefully slid the waist down, being careful not to jostle him too much. He stirred briefly, but I gave him a pacifier and he reached down to hold Phent's ear and went back to sleep.

I shrugged. "You never wake up when I take your pants off at night either." (which is a JOKE Grandma, Grandma, and Mom)

But the really complicated part was yet to come. It takes two people to change a diaper on a sleeping baby, especially when he is laying on his belly.

(And the temptation to take pictures when, once you have the diaper off, the baby briefly wakes up and then resettles in the (bare) bottom-up position, is quite overwhelming)

After letting him sleep au natural for a minute so we could compose ourselves (and while we briefly lost sight of the important function of a diaper and the absolute not-fun-ness of changing crib sheets in the middle of the night) , I lifted Charlie's legs up gently so Ryan could put the diaper on, Ninja style, using one hand to slide the clean diaper into place and the other hand to fasten the tabs against Charlie's belly. Without looking. In the dark.

Ryan slid Charlie's pants back on without incident. I grabbed a sock and slid it onto Charlie's foot with military precision. When Ryan tried to do the same thing he grazed the sole of Charlie's foot, which I guess tickled because he started waving that foot around while Ryan tried to line up the sock and I hissed "One smooth motion! One smooth motion!!" I am helpful.

He never woke up, like really woke up more than a soft wimper, to wonder what the heck we thought we were doing and where on earth were his pants. In about twenty years, when he wakes up in a Spring Break hotel room in an oddly similar state of being, maybe he will think of Ryan and me carefully changing his diaper in the dark so we wouldn't have to disturb him.

We should probably start saving for his therapy now.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The One

We saw a house I like to call "my house" today.

We found it on the way back from an afternoon of looking at open houses in a very pretty and very unaffordable neighborhood north of South because we read in the newspaper that they were having an open house with free food (here's a thought... maybe if you're willing to spend thirty minutes in the car for some free tortilla roll ups and lemonaide you're not ready to buy a house). It was a whole neighborhood designed around families, including an excellent elementary school right in the center. When the three of us walked in, carrying a big sign that said "target demographic", the realtor pounced. It took several minutes to shake him off (mostly because Ryan continued to tease the realtor by asking lots of questions about the type of insulation in the walls until he finally led us upstairs to have a peek into the attic so we could see the insulation for ourselves) so we could run around and look in all the closets.

On the way home we decided to turn at an open house sign for a neighborhood we had never considered before but that met my requirements for proximity of the grocery store, Blockbuster, and Dominoes. After a ridiculous number of turns marked by yellow and red ballons (we discussed how we would give directions to the house to friends--"take your first right, then your third left, then your fourth left, then your second right, and then we're the seventh house on the right. It's super easy, just remember one-three-four-two-seven... Got it?") we pulled into the driveway just as the clouds parted and a luminous sunbeam fell upon the house and the sound of a thousand golden harps filled the air.

It was pretty. And it had a foyer. And it had a little room off the living room with french doors where we could cram all the toys at night so it looked like big people lived there. It had 42 inch maple cabinets in its eat-in kitchen. When we went out onto the covered patio with a stained concrete floor Charlie happily pointed out the wooden swingset (featuring two baby swings I might add) that CONVEYS. It had a formal dining room with beautiful paint and curtains (I wept a little when I learned all the window treatments were staying) and a family room upstairs. Across the street was a huge park with a trail leading to another park where in the summer they show movies outside on a big screen at night and that also has swings, climbing equipment, slides, tennis courts, a pool, and soccer fields. The best part is it's close enough to where we are now that we could use the same daycare and go to the same church.

It's perfect. It's twenty thousand dollars out of our price range.

Anyone know how I can make a quick twenty grand?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Verdict

Tubes. Bah. They go in on Wednesday.

The appointment began with a hearing test where I had Charlie on my lap in a booth and the audiologist played a series of sounds through two speakers on opposite sides of Charlie's head. When Charlie looked towards the sound he would be rewarded by a bear that lit up and played a drum. If Charlie ever asks why we never took him to Chuck E Cheese I will say "Don't you remember that bear with the drum?" There was also a dog that barked in the middle of the booth to get him to look back towards the center and towards the end he fell in love with the dog and kept pointing at it and saying "Bah Bee?" (puppy) and laughing.

The audiologist said he had a slight hearing loss that should be resolved once he gets his tubes. It doesn't seem to have slowed him down much though. He has learned a number of new words in the last few days--yummy, mmmm, oof oof (woof woof), and no (really, "NO!" shouted at our poor dog when he barks in the house). If this is what he is capable of with slightly diminished hearing Ryan and I are really going to have to stop swearing around him after the tubes are in. I might have to give up driving altogether now that I think about it.

The doctor examined him next and then explained the entire tubes procedure, the risks and benefits (the risk of a complication with the anesthesia is "about the same as the risk of riding in a car in a carseat." Instead of making me more confident in the procedure, it made me leary of driving anywhere with Charlie in the car). I don't remember anything after the word "incision" except that he said Charlie couldn't eat anything the day of the procedure because he is going to be one angry boy when he wakes up asking for a banana and gets five ounces of apple juice instead.

The tubes should last a year and his ears should start feeling better immediately. I'm curious to see if he learns words faster or starts walking more after the fluid is drained from his ear canals.

I'm nervous about the anesthesia and the procedure, but it's going to help him so much.

Maybe he will finally understand when I yell from my bed "Run downstairs and make Mama a cup of coffee, will ya Baby?"

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Maybe it was just the high altitude affecting my memory

My entire body misses the Old Town today. I think it's because it has been cold here in South and cold days there were so cozy tucked into our little house, just the three of us. Usually I would make something like stew for dinner and we would rent a movie and pile blankets on the couch and watch a movie. We would put Charlie to bed and have homemade cookies and enjoy the feeling of being so cozy and warm and safe and happy and together (now that I think about it there weren't very many of those cozy nights towards the end of our time there as Ryan spent every waking minute finishing his dissertation. And doing an awesome job I might add).

I really dislike cold weather, as you probably already know. But since it was just part of the deal in the Old Town I usually tried to make the best of it (not without a lot of bitter complaining I'm sure Ryan would tell you). In South everyone just endures it until it is warm again and that makes it feel like it lasts forever (it's been in the 30s for two whole days I feel like I'm developing psychosomatic Seasonal Affective Disorder. And yes, I already know what a big wimp that makes me).

In some ways (some good ways and some bad) the Old Town was frozen in time. One of the ways that was good is that it was a small town and you usually got to know the checkers at the grocery store and the waiters at the coffee shop and you could count on running into friends or coworkers or acquaintences from church while you were out. Instead of "I'd like a cup of regular coffee, please" it was "Emily! Hi! So good to see you! I didn't know you worked here. How is Brad? Oh that is so good to hear. Charlie's doing great! Thanks for asking. Oh, right, I'd like a cup of regular coffee, please. Thank you! OK, you too! See you soon!" This drove a few of my friends crazy, but I absolutely loved it. I haven't been able to find anything like it here yet.

Here is a picture of the coffee shop (one of two where they always knew exactly what I wanted when I walked in--usually some variation of an iced tea and a chocolate chip cookie). And yes, the sky was always that blue.

(Ryan and I spent many hours studying at that coffee shop. Since we were both engineering majors in undergrad it was the result of a Friday night compromise between needing to study and wanting to go out and be together. We were KEWL! I also spent so much time there with my study partner Robert that when he ordered a cinnamon roll once they brought him two forks).

Anyway, I don't really know where I am going with this except to say that you can't live somewhere for nine years and not have it become part of you. And I miss it sometimes. Today I miss it a lot. I wish I was at the coffee shop now and that I was about to leave to pick Charlie up at his little church daycare where they loved him so much they made tshirts that said "Charlie don't go" and wore them on his last day and that on the way home I would be stopping at the grocery store with the blue and white checked floor (whose VP was in our Sunday School class) to pick up stuff for stew and cookies. When I arrived home my elderly neighbor would wave and tell me how big Charlie was getting and then we would go inside to make dinner and wait for Ryan to come home.

So tonight as I try to recreate some of our old cold weather traditions, I will also enjoy the things that South has to offer that the Old Town never could, like having my family close by and the promise of spring beginning sometime in February (and having a bedroom large enough that you can have a dresser AND room to walk around).

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

From Scratchy-town

Charlie's feeling much better. The rash has faded considerably and he has stopped scratching. Last night we gave him an oatmeal bath for the itching and he kept licking his wet fingers and saying "Mmmm!"

At his followup appointment Monday afternoon, our regular pediatrician found that Charlie had a NEW ear infection in his right ear (he was on the Augmentin for an infection in his left ear... that ear is fine now). Dr. G was so frustrated that when he went out in the hall to order the antibiotic shot (yeah, more on that later) I heard him talking about Charlie to another doctor. He said "I feel terrible! Every time she comes in I have to tell her he has another ear infection. It's just awful. And he had this terrible reaction to Augmentin. I just don't know what to do. Will you go in there and check to make sure it's not just me?!" So she came in and looked in Charlie's ears and said "Yep. Looks infected to me."

Since he's already on the oral steroid that he hates, and since he had such a terrible time with the Augmentin we decided to give him a one-time shot of antibiotics instead of an oral prescription. So less than twenty-four hours after his terrible emergency room experience Charlie had to have two more shots (one in each leg) at his followup. He needed a lot of extra cuddling yesterday afternoon.

I took him to Panera for lunch today thinking the almost thirty-minute drive would make him conk out (but no luck there). He ate his grilled cheese sitting on a regular sized chair and learned to drink out of a straw with the milk box they gave him (That was really really funny. And also messy. He kept tipping the box up like a sippy cup and dribbling milk all over himself).

On the way out to the car I handed him the milk to have in his stroller and when I pulled him out of the stroller to put him in the carseat I took the milk away and was surprised that the box felt nearly empty (it was pretty full when I gave it to him). I checked his clothes and the stroller for milk, but didn't find any so I figured he drank it. While I was putting the stroller in the trunk I glanced at him through the back windshield just as the milk came spraying out the sides of his pacifier like a lawn sprinkler.

Tomorrow is supposed to be a workday for me but I'm not sure if the rash will look un-infectious enough for that. I would like to get some work done, but we're having a lot of fun hanging out here. Although it would be really super if he would start napping again (I think it's the steroids).

Monday, January 21, 2008

Information that would have been useful YESTERDAY.

Things Dr. Weekend could have mentioned that might have kept us from spending nine and a half hours in the emergency room last night:

1. The rash might explode ("erupt" was the word aptly used by the nicest doctor in the entire world in the emergency room) and cover Charlie's entire body with bright red dime-sized craters.

2. He might get a high fever, this is normal. Give him Motrin.

3. Ooops! "Did I say 'Give him a half-teaspoon of Benedryl if he's having trouble sleeping?' Because what I meant was 'Give him a whole teaspoon of Benedryl every six hours until the rash looks less like leprosy.'"


So, yeah. After Charlie woke up from his nap yesterday there were many more spots and they were huge and his skin looked like the surface of the Moon. Saturday I would have described the rash as looking like mosquito bites. In contrast, Sunday I would describe the rash as "call the CDC." And he had a fever of 101.2. The on-call nurse told Ryan we should take him to the hospital because he probably needed steroids (to me this sounded like "blah blah blah hospital blah blah blah" to Ryan my reaction sounded like "You don't NEED shoes! Get in the $#@$ing car!"). I grabbed Phent and an assortment of pacifiers and my mom packed up a banana, a Snacktrap full of Cheerios, and some Nilla Wafers and slid them into my bag on the way out the door.

By the time we got into the triage room his temperature had risen to 103 something, so they gave him some Motrin and we were admitted to the second waiting room and given a beeper. When the beeper went off we were led to a private room. The spots looked horrible, but the Motrin had started working and Charlie was feeling ok. We found "March of the Pengins" on TV and waited for the doctor while Charlie alternately watched the movie and tried to jump off the bed all while pulling at his diaper and clothes because he was so itchy

He was a really good boy during the exam but things went downhill quickly when we had to force feed him a huge dose of Benedryl and oral steroids. The nurse was awesome and waited until he opened his lips a tiny amount while crying to get the dropper into his cheek and release the medicine.

Our doctor was also wonderful. After a careful exam of Charlie's rash, he checked his ears, mouth, and diaper area to make sure it wasn't affecting his mucus membranes (which would mean potential breathing trouble). Charlie signed "all done" after having he mouth examined, he hated that! The doctor left to make the orders for the drugs then came back and said gently while looking me right in the eye "I know I'm probably being too conservative, but I would like to do some blood work to make sure we're not missing something important." I wanted to hug him.

Watching Charlie have his blood drawn was a truly horrible experience. He laid on the bed, Ryan at his feet, me at his head, one arm outstretched for the blood draw, the other arm clutching Phent, furiously sucking on his pacifier. When the tied the tourniquete he began panicking. All I could do was stroke his hair and kiss him and tell him he was being a good boy. He screamed when they rubbed the alchohol swab on his arm and felt for the vein and totally lost it when they stuck him. They drew out the blood they needed and I had to hold the cotton ball against his arm while they got the bandaid ready. His blond hair looked white against his bright red face. He calmed down quickly after it was over and I was able to pick him up but when the nurse came back into the room to prepare the culture he tensed up and watched her warily until she left.

Soon after that the Benedryl started to make him sleepy and he and I curled up on the bed together. Charlie fell asleep quickly and stayed asleep the rest of the time there. Awesome Doctor came back to check on the rash after about an hour and gently lifted Charlie's shirt without waking him up, looked at the rash, then gently pulled his shirt back down and pulled the blanket back up to his chest (all with me laying on the bed behind Charlie). He told us Charlie's white blood cell count was elevated but the specific way it was elevated meant it was nothing to worry about. He told us it would take a couple of days for the blood culture results to be available but that he didn't expect to find anything. He gave us very specific instructions about what to watch out for and what to expect and said the rash could take up to a week to go away. He gave Charlie a prescription for steroids and a teaspoon of Benedryl every six hours at first and then as needed for itching.

The rash is still there this morning but has faded from bright red to a pinkish brown color. He's fussy, but I think that is because he didn't fall asleep at the hospital until almost 11:00 and we didn't get him home until 1:30 am. He's napping now.

I cannot say enough good things about the children-only emergency room where Charlie was treated. The waiting room is bright and fun with toys and books. They have someone who pushes a cart around and delivers coloring sheets, crayons, construction paper, glue, and toys for younger kids. When we were waiting in the exam room someone brought Charlie a fun shape sorter to play with. The nurses and doctors were experienced with treating young children. It made all the difference.

OH!! While I was describing Charlie's recent medical history (which Awesome Doctor actually wanted to hear) he said "This was his third course of Augmentin in his life?" I said "No, his third course since October." Awesome Doctor said "Have you guys seen an ENT to talk about tubes yet?" Weekend Doctor got TOLD.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

A Pox on this House

I noticed a bug bite near Charlie's eye while he was finishing breakfast this morning. I didn't think anything of it, except that it was weird that he got a mosquito bite in January, inside the house, while he was sleeping. Then I noticed another one on his wrist. I wondered if there were more, so I unzipped his fuzzy footy pajamas.


Is that the most pitiful picture you've ever seen?

When I showed the spots to my parents there were twice as many as there had been twenty minutes earlier and the original spots had gotten bigger and redder.

The doctor (the weekend doctor) was able to see us by 9:00 (it's Saturday, I love our pediatrician's office). We arrived a few minutes early despite me getting so involved in the story I was telling Ryan about my friend from Little Gym who drives a Mercedes and has the coolest name ever (Challah) that I drove right past the exit for the doctor's office. The nurse asked me what medications he's on and I told her about his antibiotic as Ryan lifted him off the scale, pulling up his shirt and exposing his poor blotchy belly (which again looked much worse than it had before). The nurse said "Ooh, I think he's allergic to his antibiotic!" The doctor agreed and checked his ears. Nothing else from the penicillin family for him! Ever!

I told the doctor that Charlie had had chronic ear infections and mentioned the appointment with the ENT on Thursday. The doctor then made a crack about how he thinks tubes are used too quickly now (uh, did I even mention tubes?) and then added "but I don't know his history so you guys can talk to his normal doctor about that." I wanted to say "Well, his 'history' is that he's had ear infections continuously since early October. The first one was resistant to amoxicillin, omnistat, and augmentin (or five weeks total of oral antibiotics) and was finally cured by having six shots in his legs over a period of three days. He had another ear infection two weeks later that took two rounds of antibiotics, and another one three weeks after that. And now an entire class of antibiotics has been eliminated for use by him due to an allergy. But, you know, we haven't tried acupuncture or leeches yet so I guess we are jumping the gun. Thank you weekend doctor who's never seen my son before!"

(Ryan doesn't understand why this guy bugged me so much. I think it was the "Well OKAAAY..." nature of his comment, the way he said it so smugly with his face in Charlie's chart. Like he was just waiting to say "I told you so.")

Anyway. Ears are better now. No more penicillins. He's itchy but happy. He scarfed an entire "blueberry spelt" muffin (gluten free! South is a funny town) when we took him out for breakfast and the playground at the hippy grocery store downtown.

Friday, January 18, 2008

And a good day it was!

Look what I got done before/during morning nap:

Clean! Flags finally hung up (after we've lived here HOW LONG?!)!
When Charlie woke up from his morning nap he was really excited about the flags. He kept pointing at each one and saying "Bow! Oooh! Bowwww!"
The Texas flag is the one that was flying over the capitol building the day he was born. The smaller one is the maritime signal flag for "C" which when you are spelling things over the radio you call "Charlie" a la "Alpha Bravo Charlie One Niner!".

Clean(er than before)!
Maybe time to hang some stuff on the walls? Maybe? Charlie "helped" with Ryan's nightstand which is the reason for all the paper underneath it.

The reason the rooms are finally clean, Mama finally did some laundry (and unpacked from our Christmas trip)!

[not pictured, basket of clean towels that was already folded and put away]

[also not pictured, half dozen homemade cookies I ate before 10 am, or two cups of coffee I drank with those cookies (you might be able to tell)]

All while maintaining a lively email discussion with Dr. Advisor.

After that was Little Gym!

Little Gym

Then Wendy's, lunch refusal, afternoon nap refusal, surprisingly (given Charlie's lack of nutrition and sleep) happy trip to the mall with our friends, and an fun-filled trip the mall playground where, after waiting patiently at the slide as big kid after big kid pushed past him to slide down, Charlie grabbed a fistful of the back of a big kid's sweater and pulled him off the bottom of the slide. (That was a proud moment for me).

Oh, and I made a pot of potato soup for dinner. Seems like I do that every time we have a cold front.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Tomorrow: It's Another Day

"Bleh" is all I have to say about today.

Ryan got a call from daycare saying Charlie was miserably fussy and couldn't be calmed down and refused to eat lunch. He called me and in the twenty minutes it took him to call me and me to call daycare Charlie had had a bottle of milk and fallen asleep. I had suspected this morning that he was pretty tired, having woken up at 5:00 am and all, but he wouldn't take a nap here so I figured he was fine. So he was asleep and everything was fine. But I was worried all day. I didn't let myself leave to pick him up until 1:30 when I knew he would be waking up from his nap. When I arrived the ladies at the front desk smiled warmly and said "He's doing so much better now!!" They related all the things they had tried to make him feel better--they held him, rocked him, tried to make him laugh with toys, then finally gave him the bottle and laid him down. It makes me feel good that they were so nice to him.

Except he was still so tired that when I got him home we both slept for an hour and a half and then Charlie just wanted to cuddle on the couch with me when he woke up. He perked up eventually but he must be going through some kind of developmental thing or getting sick again.

My concentration was shot after that daycare call but even before that I was struggling with my work. I sorted out the confusion with Dr. Advisor but I am still having tons of trouble with this one thing that has been keeping me from making progress for, I'm embarrassed to say, nearly a year. Every time I think it's right and start charging ahead I find out there is a problem and I'm right back where I started. I've written most of the sections I can write without this one piece so when I get stuck on this I get really really stuck. Hard to write the Results and Conclusions chapters when there are no results or conclusions or even any freaking data for that matter.

So after a few weeks of feeling really good about what I was doing, getting twenty-eight pages of writing done and downloading job applications, I am back to feeling trapped and miserable all over again. When I feel that way I begin fantasizing about other jobs I'd like to do more. And then I think about the two years of school required for that job and I think about the--cough--nine years--cough--I have invested in what I'm doing now and I sink even deeper into the hole.

Ryan and I made a batch of snickerdoodles tonight. Tomorrow is a Charlie day. I have plans for shopping and the mall playground with friends in the afternoon.

Friday is a work day. Maybe things will make sense again then, both with my algorithm and my career path. If not, there is an ad for "doula training" in the South Parents' Guide that is looking pretty tempting (and I would be a terrible, drug pushing doula).

in my mailbox this morning:

To: Becca
From: Dr. Advisor
Subject: Re: Confusing Results

You make a valid point that requires resolution. Please send me [all the stuff you've been working on].

Dr. A

Ha ha HAAAAH! It's good I don't work in the office next door to him anymore because he would probably have heard me doing my little happy dance.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

House Hunters

I just got back from meeting my new friend NT and her son E at the library today for story time, which is an hour set aside for mothers to sing silly songs in English and Spanish while the toddlers sit on a big quilt together and fight over pacifiers. Charlie was only mildly interested, but when The Dog Named Jack who said Quack popped out of the jack in the box his face lit up and he exclaimed "KITTY!!"

(After storytime we met up with some other friends for lunch. Charlie the fruitbat ate an entire Clementine, several pieces of pineapple, a piece of honeydew, and about five large blackberries in addition to his grilled cheese.)

Anyway, we looked at some more houses this weekend. We eliminated the one we both loved so much (brand new kitchen, deck, cul de sac, trees) because the layout was awkward and felt small (even though it wasn't that small... we really can't figure it out). We almost talked ourselves into this huge four bedroom house (yeah, I was surprised it was in our price range too). It badly needed a kitchen upgrade and some other cosmetic improvements, but it was clean and in great condition. But then Ryan found that a house we had completely ruled out had reduced its price a substantial amount.

The first house, which we call the Big House (see Fig. 1) was a no frills cube but we've talked for hours about the neat ways we could spruce it up. The thing we kept coming back to was "All that SPACE!" When we visited it we went around the corner in the hallway upstairs to discover ANOTHER turn leading to one more surprise bedroom. Also the carpet was so fuzzy and inviting I wanted to take off my shoes and lie down.

Figure 1. The Big House

The other house, that we had originally ruled out, we call the Greek House because the cheesy attempt at the "Tuscan" look (that I already dislike even when it is done well) made by the current owners make it look like a bad parody of the house on My Big Fat Greek Wedding (think Costco firesale with lots of metal and glass and shiny metallic curtains and the largest, tackiest four-poster canopy bed you've ever seen; really? a canopy bed for adults?).

Without the furniture it is a nice enough house (although my memory of it is a little fuzzy as I was distracted most of the time by the horrible shiny gold curtains thumbtacked to the walls around the windows). It is smaller than The Big House, but has an extra bathroom and a very pretty kitchen. The problem is the facade (Fig. 2). Where The Big House was understated and welcoming with two pretty oak trees in the front yard, The Greek House is intimidating and stark with a giant window over the front door which allows people driving down the street an unobstructed view into the door of the master bedroom (and also a nice view of the absurdly large but somehow still very cheap looking chandelier hanging over the foyer; I am not a fan of the conspicuous consumption look, you might have noticed).

Figure 2. The Greek House

So anyway, it is hard to explain why I still prefer The Big House now that The Greek House is on the market for the same price, especially because The Greek House already has a nice kitchen. But The Big House just feels more like us for some reason. That feeling is very difficult to convey to our realtor who I am sure finds it extremely frustrating that I have made my mind up about many houses before we pull into the driveway (and make more frequent comments on features like "baby-gate-ability" than lot size, exterior material, or any other quality she could actually use to narrow down the listings).

My new friend said she and her husband looked at eighty houses before they picked one. I really hope it doesn't take that long.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Because we have no rules in our house

I know what you think, that Charlie spends his days sitting primly at the kitchen table building quietly with blocks and coloring neatly inside the lines of his See and Say Latin coloring book. So these pictures, taken Friday when I kept him home from daycare so he could get over his cold once and for all, might surprise you. Because I also had/have a cold I deemed the sunny 65 degree day to be "not park weather" and instead made this inviting pile of cushions in the family room.

Indoor Playground

Indoor Playground

Indoor Playground

Indoor Playground

Indoor Playground

Shortly after these were taken he took an hour nap in his crib followed by a two hour nap with me in our guest bed, the last hour of which I was wide awake and keenly aware of how badly I needed to go to the bathroom. I couldn't disentangle myself from him without waking him up. With no clock I marked the time by the passage of school buses in front of the house. When the second one passed I knew it was well after four. When my mom came home I knew it was after four-thirty.

He finally woke up at four-forty-five (normal nap wakeup ~2:30), hair wild, cheeks flushed, making the sign for milk.

I guess he wore himself out this week with all the not-sleeping he's been doing. He's been sleeping better at night too and wakes up around six-thirty happy to play with his aquarium and babble to himself until he inevitably drops Phent over the side of the crib and needs someone to rescue him.

One more nice night like this and I might be able to form complete sentences again!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

I didn't know it was Delurking Day...

But I'd love to know you're here! And because every time I get a comment my computer makes a little beeping noise that keeps me from falling asleep at my desk.

I can't use the badge with the flasher because my little cousins read this but here is a picture of Charlie wearing a scarf on our afternoon walk. It wasn't that cold but I thought I could maybe sweat the cold and the ear infection out of him.

Charlie and his Elegant Scarf

He asks that you call him Charles and that you make his latte extra hot with no foam.

So tell me you're here and whether you think Charlie is checking out the waitress in this picture (when we went out for breakfast on Monday while we were playing hookey so I could observe him in a non-home environment to ensure he felt well enough to go to daycare.

Is he checking her out?

We've been promoted!

To the pediatric ear, nose, and throat doctor! Seriously I am considering getting a nanny and paying her with the extra cash we will be saving in copays once Charlie stops going to that germ farm three days a week.

So, what else... still not sleeping much, still drinking a lot of coffee, went to the Y last night to swim laps, then made a batch of chocolate chip cookies to compensate for all that bad bad exercise.

Spent yesterday sending references and graphs and data to Dr. Advisor to backup the validity of my data only to have him keep saying to do this one thing (that I DID both on my data and on the data in the reference and got the same results) that he says will prove that he is correct and that my data is wrong thus throwing me back to--oh--six months ago progress-wise. Finally found the right words to put in an email that made it look like I was asking a question when really I was saying "Really? Have you even LOOKED at the references I sent you??" I said "I'm a little confused... I found a difference between [these two things] both in the literature and in our own historical data, why are we using this constraint that they must be the same now?" Gah! So frustrating! It would have been really super to spend one of my three work days a week actually making progress instead of having a protracted email argument, slinging attachments back and forth, taking deep breaths and counting to ten. I mean, he could be right, but I wish he would explain himself because I'm just not seeing it, especially in the face of all the evidence to the contrary.

OH! And I made a friend! She has a BS in Engineering and a one-year old JUST LIKE ME. And she likes coffee JUST LIKE ME. We went for a long walk to the big green coffeeshop on Tuesday and if Cranky McSnots-a-Lot is feeling better this afternoon we will go again today. Except maybe this time the kids will get to play on the playground instead of being confined to their strollers the whole time.

Oops! The Clogged Eustacian Tube Kid has awakened! I must hurry to the bunker of snot.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

It's 8:00 PM. Do you know where your center is?

So I went to Yoga at the YMCA (henceforth YatY) last night. I almost signed up for a beginners' class at this awesome yoga studio nearby... it cost twice as much but when I went in the whole place smelled like chai tea. And I love me some chai tea. Instead I joined the Y where I could swim laps and use the fitness equipment and take classes. AND for $3 I can drop Charlie off in the playroom and spend up to two hours breathing into a paper bag and rocking rhythmically because I can't handle one more sleepless night, my goodness exercising anytime I want.

Right after I signed up I swam laps for the first time in a year. It felt great to be moving again. Despite my astonishing lack of athletic ability, swimming has always been something I enjoyed. I swam until I was 8 months pregnant with Charlie and the bounds of good taste prevented me from wearing my Speedo two-piece swimsuit in public any longer. Actually that moment probably passed much earlier, but since I couldn't see most of my belly it was easy to think I still looked "cute" until Ryan came to the pool once to take pictures of me swimming. And then I was all "You know, I could be spending this time lying on the couch while you make me snickerdoodles."

There are several YatY classes offered throughout the week and I decided to go last night (because the only other one I can make meets on Thursday nights and that's when all the good TV is on). I got there early, hoping to get to talk to some of the other ladies in the class and maybe make some friends. There was one woman sitting near the door of the classroom reading a book. She had a fancy bag to hold her yoga mat and all of the fancy accessories I assumed weren't necessary for an activity focused on simplicity and focus. But whatever. I said politely "Is this where the yoga class meets?" She paused, sighed loudly, turned her head to look up at me and said, with more hostility than was really necessary, "Yeah." And then went back to her book.

So then I waited, silently, hands folded, ignoring Cranky, until another girl came down the hallway. She looked to be about my age and looked friendly enough. I smiled warmly, she scowled and kept walking, stopping a short distance away from me to lean on the wall with her arms folded, carefully avoiding looking in my general direction. Okey dokey, I'm in a class with Cranky and Scowly. I THOUGHT THE SOUTH WAS SUPPOSED TO BE FRIENDLY!

I enjoyed the class very much. Many of the poses were like the video I used to do before I had a houseful of people to witness my attempts to fold myself into the Standing King Dancer Position or the Inverted Lotus Flower Legs Aren't Supposed to Bend Like That. It felt so good. Soooo good. I didn't want it to end. Particularly the part near the end where we layed on the floor in the dark and listened to ourselves breathe. I think I used to call that sleeping, but I don't remember.

At the end of class our teacher pressed her hands together and bowed and said "Namaste." Cranky and Scowly mimicked her with great seriousness as if YatY was the core of their spiritual well-being. I giggled. I wonder if they're writing in their blogs ( right now "There was this mean girl in my yoga class who tried to talk to me before class and she kept smiling and then she GIGGLED at the end of class and now I'm gonna have to go to Yogalates on Wednesday just to get my center back to where it's supposed to be. I hate her! It's not FAIR! Namaste"

I can't wait for next week.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Baby was Born to Ride

On his way back to the North Pole, Santa swung by our place to drop off one more present that had fallen between the seats of the sleigh.

Charlie kept trying to climb out of the highchair to get to it until we finally got it all put together and let him at it. He knew what it was and even tried to ride the big blue piece right out of the box with no wheels. I think they have them at daycare and I think there's only one which is a big problem in the 12-18 month room I would imagine.

Here he is right after Ryan got him out of the highchair. He was so excited he didn't even finish his waffle or beg for Nilla Wafers.

The Approach

That face says it all (and makes all the crow I will be eating re: not having primary colored plastic toys taking over my house taste like lemon icebox pie).

Oh Wow!  Oh Wow!  Is it really mine?

Once he got on he tore around the kitchen/breakfast area exclaiming "Bow! Bowwwww! BOWWWWW!" (Wow! Wowwww! Wowwwwwweeeee!) and squealing. He was so GOOD at it. I thought we would have to push him around for a little while until he got the hang of it but he was already quite capable of the push-coast-push-coast maneuver. He even got a little fancy and rested one knee on the seat and used the other foot to push. Then he turned around and drove it backwards.

Blissed out boy

Aside: Ryan, dressed for work, looks GOOOOOD. Hott even. He's wearing my favorite shirt of his and it makes him look all professional and bringing home the bacon-ey (which he actually is right now, except he's bringing home the Chipotle, after putting Charlie to bed, what a guy!).

This is not good

We will save the no talk-no text while driving rule for tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

A Picture: Because I worked all day on something only to find out it was wrong thirty mins before daycare pickup. Again.

This is called the cocoon. It is lots of fun. But most of all I like Charlie's tiny Sesame Street Helmet. Which I guess since it's made for two year olds is not so tiny after all Mr. 95th Percentile for height (Look how long this kid is! His legs have finally caught up with his torso and the result is a shockingly lean little boy body that surprises me every day with its non-babyness).

Biker Charlie

Now I will go lament my poor organizational skills and even poorer Matlab programming skills and still poorer critical thinking skills. And possibly finish off the bag of Almond M&Ms in the pantry that just two days ago I said we weren't going to open until later but that is now 1/3 gone. You know what? It's later!

Mmmmm, so crunchy and delicious.