Thursday, October 30, 2008

I'm not proud of this ...

... but when I was younger, I thought that pimento was just the stuff that grew in the middle of olives. And then I'd see a jar of pimentos in the grocery store, and think, "Why the heck would anyone want to go to the trouble of sucking out all the pimento out of a bunch of olives to sell separately?"

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Cookie Monster mauled in attack, Ernie traumatized

"I froze -- I didn't know what else to do." -- Ernie

AP - Cookie Monster may not be guzzling treats for a while.

In a freak attack documented by the following photographic footage, Cookie Monster was injured and Ernie seriously traumatized in what some are calling one of the most lightning-quick crawl-by incidences ever witnessed.

Surveillance cameras captured the following disturbing images. In the first frame, Cookie Monster and Ernie can be seen quietly enjoying the day, with no idea of what is to come. 

Without any warning, the attacker makes a sudden move toward Cookie Monster. As the image illustrates, the suspect's speed is such that clear capture is impossible. 

Within seconds, Cookie Monster is down, struck in the head and neck with stunning force. Ernie, who escapes injury by the slimmest of margins, is frozen in shock and disbelief.

In this incomplete capture of the attacker, the carnage of the crime scene is easily visible. As the attacker makes his get-away, the next victim comes into view: a 30-year-old dog who recently moved into the neighborhood.

By all accounts, the attacker tweaks an old adage and prepares to kick a dog when he's down. 

In a prepared statement, Ernie shares:
It is with great relief that I report that my long-time friend Cookie Monster is mending in the depths of the toy bin in the family room, though his progress is very slow. Being there for him is where my focus is right now. It is my opinion that this attack was deliberately and personally directed toward Cookie, as the assailant saw me clearly and yet I was left without a mark on my person. I believe that, had the assailant ever before had a cookie himself, he might have found that he had more in common with his victim than he thought. I beseech family members everywhere to share cookies with their loved ones so that senseless tragedies like this one may be avoided in the future.
Cookie Monster could not be reached for comment.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The last "new" season

Dear boy,

Today, you're nine months old. In a span of time that encompasses a school year, you've gone from being a wrinkled, fussy newborn to a jolly, inquisitive and tremendously responsive almost-toddler. Your daddy and I are simply amazed at the leaps and bounds in your development, especially recently.

Over the last month, you've learned (in the same day) how to pull up to stand by furniture and how to climb stairs (which you do with alarming rapidity). You're now saying several "words" with regularity. They include da-da (which you've been saying for quite some time), ba-ba, khhhhh (a Persian staple syllable, you little polyglot), ha, hoo, t-t-t (one of my personal favorites) and your latest (my REAL favorite), ma-ma. You've managed to produce three more teeth, and on close inspection of a number of your toys and your crib, we can see tiny scratches everywhere along anything that's within your grasp for too long. Your crib rail looks like we're keeping a baby beaver there. And the latest new "thing" you've got going on is that, when asked, you'll give me or your daddy a kiss. It's open-mouthed, and very sloppy, but it melts our hearts every time. Today your daddy was so delighted that he must have asked for six or seven in a row, which you patiently provided. (Now's the time to ask for a pony, if you want one.)

But the single most incredible change in you is less easily encapsulated by an action or a milestone. You really seem to understand more of what we say to you now, and your unintelligible babbling sounds more and more like a direct attempt at conversation. When your daddy's napping with his back to you, you clamor over to him gleefully, climb up to peer over his shoulder, twist his ear in your hand and shout, "Eh?" repeatedly until he acknowledges you with a smile and a kiss, which makes you enormously pleased with yourself. If you look up at us and say, "Ha," we answer "Hey!" To which you then respond with another, "Ha," and we reply with "Hey," until eventually someone gets tired of the monotonous exchange (it's usually you -- we'd be happy to keep "hey"-ing you for hours). The day's not far off when we can simply ask you what you want for dinner or where you want to go on a Saturday afternoon, and you'll tell us. And that simple fact makes our eyes blur with amazement and gratitude and pride. 

As our internet friends know, we recently went on a trip to Wisconsin to visit some family and friends. It was your first real outing in cool weather, and you acquitted yourself nobly. Stroller rides made you tremendously happy, the cool breezes tickled your funny bone, and the colorful leaves captivated you. Although the trip was a bit of a strain for a number of reasons (almost all of them travel-related), I can't regret for one second the fact that we went. Since you were born in the wintertime, and have now been through spring and summer, autumn is your last "new" season, and you're handling it really well. Fall looks good on you.

It's hard to imagine that you've now been in our home and our arms for as long as you were carried within me. In fact, it's hard to imagine any time at all that took place before you came into our lives. My memories of the world "pre-boy" seem faded, as if you brought vividness to our days with your arrival.

It's 8:30 now and you've been in bed for an hour or so. I miss you. I always do. I miss your tiny new self, the one I held for the first time nine months ago today. But your chubby current self is every bit as charming, even though now that you're more active, it's tougher to hold onto you in my arms. The skin of my neck and chest is covered in tiny scratches from your sharp nails (which feel like itty bitty knives no matter how frequently I pin you down to trim them). I don't really mind, though. Because you and I both know you already hold my heart in your hands anyway.

I love you.
Be a good boy.

Your mommy

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

From the flight deck

7:40 a.m.: Boy and mom get up for a day of travel. Mom knows boy will have to skip/push back morning nap to make today work out. This is not an enticing prospect.

10:10 a.m.: Boy, mom and grandmom L start their two-hour drive to the airport with an amazingly kind soul willing to pack two huge suitcases and a stroller in a car with two and a half passengers for a 100-mile drive. Halfway to Milwaukee from Small Town, WI, boy melts down. Roadside nursing is applied to the situation. Boy ungraciously concedes and finally falls asleep once the group is back on the road.

Noon: Boy, mom and L arrive at the airport (which is torn up, as it is undergoing construction. Of course.). Having only snoozed for 25 minutes, boy protests loudly through most of the check-in process. ONCE AGAIN, mom's shoes cannot be wanded, and she must take them off to run them through the x-ray machine while wearing boy, and juggling a stroller, a diaper bag brimming with essentials, a small ziploc bag of liquids/gels, and a camera bag.

1:30 p.m.: Mom sneaks away for a restroom break. Boy is fed a bananas/apples/pears combination of food in his stroller. Mom and L grab a sandwich and prepare to board the plane for the 2:20 flight. All passengers board, and hear the captain speak.
Folks, from the flight deck -- looks like we've got a two-hour, forty-seven minute flight ahead of us. The weather at our destination is stormy -- we might be delayed a bit. We'll keep you posted. 
2:45 p.m.: Flight finally takes off. 

3:15 p.m.: Mom looks at her watch and realizes that though she has now sung every nursery rhyme she has ever heard of, shown boy every toy packed in his bag, and bounced him on her knee for-seemingly-ever, she still has two hours of travel time left before the scheduled arrival at 5:10 p.m.. A headache begins to form between her eyes.

4:30 p.m.: Knowing the arrival time is near, mom and L await the anticipated announcement that the plane is beginning its initial descent to the destination airport. This announcement never comes.

5:00 p.m.: Mercifully, boy falls asleep for 40 minutes.

5:35 p.m.: Now well past their arrival time, the plane's passengers are starting to get antsy. The plane is still cruising well above the clouds and has made a number of noticeable turns and swoops. The captain speaks.
Folks, from the flight deck -- we're hearing that the storm over the airport is pretty bad, and all flights are being placed in holding patterns until the weather clears. Unfortunately, we're low enough on fuel now that we need to divert and get a little more fuel before we can head in to our original destination. So we'll be on the ground in Lake Charles, Louisiana in about 20 minutes. Once we get there, we'll need to get our paperwork done again, refuel, get clearance to take off, and then we'll be back on track. We're looking at a delay of at least an hour, here.
5:36 p.m. (estimated): Cabin air conditioning is (presumably) turned off, (presumably) to save fuel. Fuel is likely indeed saved. Passenger comfort is not.

6:00 p.m.: Flight lands in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Cabin temperature is noticeably warm.

6:09 p.m.: 
Folks, uh, from the flight deck -- Typically in refuel situations, we aren't able to allow you all to deplane. We'll check with the tower and see what the status is here, but it's likely that we'll all need to stay aboard while we refuel. I'll let you know what the tower tells us. For now, please stay seated with your seat belts fastened.
6:20 p.m.: Overheard in the cabin: "Why's this airport look like it's been trashed?" "Because it was. It was hit by Hurricane Ike a few weeks ago."

6:45 p.m.: Passengers fan themselves with safety pamphlets. The seven children on the plane are mostly stripped down to diapers to prevent overheating. The one flight attendant on board completes a third round of beverage service.
Folks, from the flight deck -- Well, as some of you may have guessed, and as those of you sitting in the rear of the plane are probably well aware, the lav toilet is getting pretty full. With the airport in its current state, we haven't yet found a way to get that tank emptied -- there's just nowhere to dispose of the waste at this time. What I'd suggest is, if you could, you might want to, um, hold it for the time being, if that's possible. If you really need to use the facilities, it's best not to flush since that may cause an overflow. We're working on getting this plane back in the air, so sit tight and we appreciate your patience.
7:00 p.m.: Overheard in rear of cabin ... mother carrying child approaches lav. 

Mother: "Is this the line?" 
Other passenger: "No. It's all full back there, though. I don't think you want to try." 
Mother: "Seriously? Because my daughter really needs to go." 
Passenger: "Well ... I've got a diaper that she can use if that'll help." 
Mother [exasperated]: "Yeah, well, the thing is, she doesn't just have to pee." 
Passenger: "Ah. I see. [Pause.] Well, we've got diaper wipes too ... "
Mother: "I think we'll just give it a shot back there. Thanks, though."

7:10 p.m.
Folks, uh, from the flight deck -- I've got some good news. We've got our paperwork done, and the fuel truck is hooking up to the plane right now. So that's a lot of good news, actually. We do still need to get clearance to leave, and we're behind two other planes right now, so we may still be here a while. I just talked to the pilot of the plane behind us, though, and they've got a staircase wheeled up to their door, just like we do. If anyone needs to use the facilities, he's offered to allow passengers to use the lav on that plane. Wave at the flight attendant if you want to take him up on that offer, and first mate Jonathan will escort you to the plane behind us.
7:20 p.m.
Folks, from the flight deck again -- Well, I guess it was all going too smoothly. The good news is, the weather's clearing up at our destination, so the tower there is allowing inbound flights to approach and land. Only problem is that the backlog of diverted aircraft is pretty substantial, so the inbound flights are taking up all available runways and gates for the time being. So we HAD our clearance for a few minutes but it was just revoked. Tower tells us it'll be at least another 30 minutes. ... I did order pizza, though, so maybe we can eat. Now, I don't know if it'll get here before we get our clearance again ... but I'll just let you decide which outcome you want to wish for -- departure or dinner. I guess at least, if it's not here in 30 minutes, it's free, right?
7:35 p.m.:
Flight deck here, folks -- the tower tells us that with the lengthy delay, they'll allow passengers to deplane to use the terminal restrooms. Keep in mind, though, that you'll need to go through security again, so take your boarding pass and photo ID with you, please. Um, it's a bit of a hike, though. You should know that the metal detectors aren't working, so every passenger would need to be wanded by handheld wands, which can take a little longer than usual. And if you're not all on board, we might miss a chance to depart if we get clearance in a hurry. But if you need to go, we'll be opening up the door again so you can deplane.
A full two-thirds of the passengers on board elect to deplane. 

8:05 p.m.: Pizza arrives. Overheard in the cabin: "Pizza's here." "Yeah, that's great. Only problem is, the captain's serving it."

8:15 p.m.: 
Folks, flight deck here again -- Looks like we're in line for departure now. We've got clearance and we're refueled. Sit tight and we'll have you on the way home in no time.
8:45 p.m.: Flight finally takes off, leaving Lake Charles, Louisiana.

9:20 p.m.: Flight arrives at destination, more than four hours after scheduled arrival time. Babies and parents all over the plane spill forth to rush home to bed.

9:45 p.m.: Luggage is collected and mom, boy and L are all loaded into the car by an incredibly patient mom's brother, D. D consoles mom who is Just. Done. With. It. All. D wipes up tears, supplies Sprite for the motion-sick among the travelers and drives the tired group home.

11 p.m.: Boy is in bed for the night, over four and a half hours after his regular bedtime and having skimped on naps all day. Mom collapses as well, swearing never to fly again.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Why did I agree to do this, again?

Inspired by emlocke, I've been thinking almost exclusively in haiku lately. Not perfect haiku, mind you, or even GOOD haiku (hers are much, much better). Just brief, direct stanzas of seventeen-ish syllables.

Here's a recent creation about flying with boy again, now that he's almost nine months old. Plus, did I mention? I WAS SOLO.

[Cue dramatic music.]

Terminals of germs,
Security awaits us.
I packed too much stuff.

Bjorn-ing up the boy
Takes a lot of energy.
I dig out the gels.

Diaper bag's unloaded,
camera bag is next.
I collapse the stroller.

Curses! Planned this poorly ...
Tennis shoes have laces!
How will I re-shoe?!

"Will you wand my shoes?"
Her face is dark and angry.
(That was a mistake.)

Sitting in a chair
Wearing a heavy baby,
Waiting for the wand.

But wait! No wand appears.
"Take off your shoes, please."
She sends them down the belt!

Of course they do not beep
Or set off any alarms.
Could have TOLD her that.

Now, I repack bags.
Gels into the pouches ...
Ready for the stroller.

Leaning down is hard.
Shoes won't tie themselves, I know.
Poor, Bjorn-ed baby!

FIN'LLY back in gear.
We set off for the gate,
Sweaty, but we've passed!

Oh, no! "Oversold."
The weary crowd is groaning.
Who will change their plans?

Not the ones with kids.
Amuse him for six hours?
You are kidding me.

Shuffle down the path,
Collapse the stroller again,
Gate-check all the way.

Can we find our seat?
We're sitting by MORE babies,
Noise is a given.

Boy is due to sleep.
But will he nap? I doubt it.
There's so much to see.

He's also due to poo.
Better chance of that, I think.
My fingers are crossed.

As we start the flight,
Boy is playing happily.
How long will this last?

We try to nurse him.
Eyes blink so very slowly!
But it doesn't take.

Up now for meal time.
How will a solo mom eat?
All that's left is tuna.

Balance on a knee
A tray of sandwich, chips and
Candy. YOU try it!

Somehow it gets eaten.
Plastic cup becomes a toy,
As does chip bag.

Crumbs are everywhere.
Boy is getting bored. That's BAD.
He's climbing my chest.

Clawing at the seat,
He peek-a-boos with others.
His foot's down my shirt.

You can only laugh.
Sore from all the wrestling now,
the end's in sight.

So did he sleep? No.
Not a wink. Are you surprised?
I KNEW he'd be up.

Touch down, grab our bag,
Meet our ride and then we're off.
Still two hours to go.

NOW he naps. Thank God.
And in the back seat with him,
I close my tired eyes.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Here's my horn. I'm tootin' it.

The universe conspired against me the other day, as I received a comment on a previous post that said, "You've been selected to receive a blog award! See my latest post at for details." And when I attempted to go to Securityville (a blog I follow) to read said post, my cable and internet went out.

For five hours.

"But wait!" you say. "Don't you have an iPhone?" Yes, I do, my internet friends. But I neglected to turn off my WiFi, and so no pages would load there either. 

It was not my best moment.

Anyway, when the world finally came back to find me in the form of repaired cable and internet access, I was touched to see that Shorty (Securityville's author) had selected me to receive the Smile Award (Shorty, thank you very much for the compliment). It's a blog award created by a blogger to share with other writers who meet certain criteria. As an award recipient, I'm obligated to post them here.

The characteristics that the recipient of this award must have are: must display a cheerful disposition, must love one another, must make mistakes, must learn from others, must be a positive contributor to the blog world, must love life, and must love kids.

Since I've accepted this award, there are rules I must follow as well: must link back to the creator, must post these rules, must choose five new people to receive this award who fit the characteristics above, must post the characteristics needed to qualify for the award, must create a post sharing your win with others, and must thank the giver.

My favorite thing about being selected for this award is that I get to pass it on. Without further ado, here's who I'd like to recognize, in no particular order:
  • The super-talented married yoshimi at Everything Looks Better When You Rock a Lamp. Married yoshimi is not only talented and smart, but kind and generous and giving, and her posts inspire me to live a more well-informed, disciplined life of service. 
  • My dear girlfriend at Still Have Sand in My Shoes. This woman is living a courageous life filled with newfound independence, making decisions for herself in a way I admire deeply.
  • The amazing Sarah at SwimBikeRunSarah. I've known Sarah since college and I really thought back then that she couldn't get any cooler. Well, try this on for size: She was inspired by someone she knew suffering from a tough medical condition, and so in that family's honor, she trained to become a triathlete and turned in some fantastic performances. Plus, one of her latest posts is of how she climbed Mt. St. Helens. Let me repeat that. SHE CLIMBED A VOLCANO. ROCK IT, SARAH.
  • Heather Armstrong at Heather doesn't actually know me at all. But her blog is one of the bright spots in my day. She's won more prominent blog awards than this one, to be sure, but her honesty and her sincerity and sense of humor are lights to me. In particular, Heather's frank and open disclosure about her family life (including her struggle with postpartum depression) has helped me through some tough times (more on that in later posts). 
  • Em at I know Em through her delightful blog, and found her through a mutual acquaintance. And I consider myself lucky that I stumbled across her writing. She's smart and funny and real, and I always look forward to her posts. 
So ladies -- thank you. You've all taught me a great deal about what it means to be a powerful writer and a strong woman. Here's to the spirit of the Smile Award.

And let's all keep writing.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Move over, Wonder Woman.

Superpowers I have obtained since becoming a mom:
  • Ability to always know where the keys are
  • Ability to survive on interrupted sleep (at a level known, up till now, only by torture victims)
  • Ability to make even boxed macaroni and cheese into something remotely healthy by sneaking in green peas (to which husband exclaimed, "You RUINED it!")
  • Ability to never let anyone in the family run out of clean underwear
  • Ability to not laugh when boy waits till I get the spoonful of squash right to his lips, then blows a tremendous raspberry.
Superpowers I still need to develop:
  • Ability to deal with geckos (there is a TEEMING COLONY of them outside our front door)
  • Ability to fake being pulled together on days following rough nights
  • Ability to whip up dinner from whatever's in the pantry, like a kitchen MacGuyver
  • Ability to display perfect patience when boy pulls my hair, scratches my neck, gooses my upper arm or bites me YET AGAIN
  • Ability to clip and remember to use coupons at the grocery store, plus keep track of double- and triple-coupon days and sale flyers

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Even though I should be sleeping

Sometimes, deep in the quiet night, with the darkness wrapped around us like a blanket, I can feel boy's heartbeat against my stomach while he nurses. In the sleep-deprived fog of those times, I always wonder for a second if I'm actually holding him, or if he's still waiting to be born -- his thumping heart feels so much like the kicks I knew of him before he came to me. And I have to tell myself that it's those times that are the dream now, and the little man I'm cuddling in the night is what's real.

Before I lay him back in his crib, I always look down reflexively to see if he's sleeping. I say, "reflexively" because I can rarely actually see his eyes in the dark. I've found that in order to really see him during those moments, I have to look away from him. Something about the rods and cones of the eyes, I can never remember which one it is that helps you see in low light, but the point is, I see him better by looking away.

I wonder, now that he's almost nine months old, if the same holds true for our daily life. This time with him is the best time I have known -- watching him grow and change and learn is a collection of miracles that are alternately gentle and powerful. And yet, because my sight is always filled with boy, I wonder if I'm seeing all of him. Maybe, from time to time, it would be good for both him and me if I ran an errand without him, spent an hour by myself browsing books at Barnes and Noble, went to get my hair cut, ran to the dry cleaners with an empty car seat in the back. From day one, being boy's mom has meant being with him almost constantly -- he's not one to let you go on a coffee break, he's just not that kind of kid. And I don't mean "just about all the time during waking hours" -- I mean that from the start, he wailed when you put him down. He never did actually sleep in a bassinet or cradle -- those first few months, he slept in our arms, in bed with us. He's what I've come to call a high-touch baby -- just needs and craves that contact. And so from the instant we brought him home, there have been very few seconds when he wasn't literally touching me.

I thank God for these months and days -- for the chance to be fully present in what it means to be THIS mother to THIS boy. I am so grateful for the intense connection that boy and I have -- we need each other in a way that seems super-saturated in every aspect -- if it were a spectrum of color, our need for each other, it would have tenfold the colors that a rainbow has, and they'd be a hundred times as vivid. Because even when it's inconvenient -- even when I'm cataloging his sleep and I see that it's 12:20 a.m. and I've already nursed him back to sleep five times since I put him down at 7 -- even when I can't leave the room without instantaneous and panicked crying on his part -- even when I find myself at home on Friday and Saturday nights when other couples with kids have found a way to take an evening for themselves -- I know that I'll blink, and this season will be behind me, and I will mourn these days. 

Someday boy will read these entries, and he will be aghast. He'll be chagrined that I spoke so openly of how in love with him I am. He'll be embarrassed that I called him "beautiful," that I gushed so unreservedly about the tiniest aspect of his being -- his eyelashes and the way they lay against his cheek when he's looking down at his toys, or the dimple at the top of each chubby thigh. That will be the first someday. The someday I await is the one in which he gazes at his own child through blurry eyes, and remembers these posts.

Someday, he will say, "Yes. Yes, I know."

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

You can probably tell I've never seen an entire episode of American Idol.

Dear Daughtry,

Now, see? Right off the bat, right off the SALUTATION, I'm pissed. Daughtry. Is it your last name, or are you a one-name person, a la Cher? The first name Chris sticks in my head, so maybe I should have addressed this as "Dear Mr. Daughtry," but I really don't care enough even to Google you. Besides, this is how you appear when your "music" plays on XM Radio, so just Daughtry it is. 

(You should know, before I get down to it, that I'm the kind of person who soaks up lyrics without trying. So maybe this isn't completely your fault, but whatever -- that's about as generous as I'm going to get.)

My basic question is, do you speak English? Because the lyrics of one of your "songs" would suggest otherwise. Every time "Home" comes on the radio, I feel like someone's locked me in a car, in which they've tied down the steering wheel and floored the accelerator pedal: I know what's ahead of me, but I can't do a damn thing to avoid it. The song for me is one dark tunnel, and the wall at the end of it goes like this:

Be careful what you wish for
'Cause you just might get it all
You just might get it all
And then some you don't want.

Hm. Allow me to break this down for you, Mr. Just Daughtry.

Be careful what you wish for ...

Ok, a little trite, but so far, I'm getting it. This phrase is one anyone has heard before, and we grasp the gist of it -- you're letting us know that any desire has a flipside, one that may have dark implications. I got you, Just Daughtry. Let's move on.

... 'Cause you just might get it all ...

Oh, ugh. You spelled it all out. See, even in the second line of this four-line disaster, the mystery's gone. If only that were the major crime. 

... You just might get it all ...

Aaaaaand you felt compelled to make SURE we knew the mystery was gone. So far, you've offered a mildly-worded warning that asked us to use our brains (the same brains we'd need to actually recognize the dark side of our deepest desires, which is what you're warning us about), and then you've made it completely unnecessary for us to think at all. Which means maybe now we won't be heeding your first-line advice. Not so much well-played, there. But the kicker is yet to come.

... And then some you don't want.

Really? REALLY? Because you'd pretty much already told us that. And by stating it right out in the open like this, I don't know whether you've given me a double-negative of a warning that's just turned out to be a not-warning (whatever the eff that might be), or whether you really are such a blockhead that you don't REALIZE that "be careful what you wish for" contains within it EVERYTHING YOU SAID IN THE REST OF THE CHORUS, or ... what. What I'm getting at is, this chorus makes me wish my head would just implode already. And if there really was a wall at the end of the tunnel of this song, I would welcome the effing crash, just to get the twisted logic of the lyrics out of my mind.

And so, Mr. No-Just-Daughtry-Because-I-Want-To-Be-Considered-As-Cool-As-A-Lot-Of-Other-Artists-Who-Are-Out-Of-My-League-Like-Prince-And-Sting-And-Madonna, I want you to know that if you get really busy with, say, yardwork or getting your online bill payments set up and you get too busy to write something new, I'm ok with that.

And by that, I'm implying that you stink. Just in case you were wondering what I was getting at.

Boy answers your FAQs

Guest-blogger boy is back to tackle your most frequently asked questions.

Hi, sweet baby! How are you?
Fine, thanks. You?

What are you doing?
Pretty much hanging out. Being cute. Yesterday I ate a dead mosquito. But I don't get to do that every day.

Who's that baby?
Um, it's me. You already said hi. I'm figuring you already know who I am. Here's a question for you: Are you having a senior moment?

Where are you going?
Well, unless mom will finally give up the car keys, just across the room, like usual. I see a dust ball that's calling my name.

Where's baby's eyes?
What do you think I'm using to give you the death stare?

Where's baby's nose?
Right here in the middle of my face. Same as yours. And it's in working order, so please -- a mint wouldn't kill you.

Can you say, "da-da?"
Dude, are you even LISTENING? I say it all day long. Not too quick, are you?

Can you say, "ma-ma?"
Yes. Yes, I can. But I'm saving it for when I've done something really diabolical. THEN I'll whip that sucker out.

Can you wave bye-bye?
Would that make you leave any faster?

Monday, October 06, 2008

Wha?? Five more minutes. Please.

Boy's not what you'd call a champion sleeper. Don't get me wrong -- he sleeps a healthy amount each night, just not strung together. In the past, he'd usually wake up three times a night or so, maybe four. 

But over the last three days, boy's learned to: pull himself up to a standing position against our couch and in his crib; crawl up stairs; cruise around step by step holding onto furniture. They say that when babies make big leaps in motor skills, sleep can be disrupted. 

Oh, boy -- can it ever. 

This is what's noted in my sleep log for boy last night. And yes -- every minute DOES count.

Slept 6:45-7:15 p.m., nursed.
Slept 7:25-8:45, binked*.
Slept 8:55-9:37, nursed.
Slept 9:57-12:08 a.m., nursed. 
Slept 12:22-2:08, nursed.
Slept 2:20-4:20, nursed.
Slept 4:41-5:35, nursed.
Slept 5:50-6:10, nursed.

At that point, I threw in the towel and brought the kid to bed with me to catch at least an hour or two of sleep. No dice -- he was up for the day. Sure, he took two naps of an hour and fifteen minutes each, later in the day, which meant that I did too -- but the choppy nighttime sleep is tough on us both. 

I texted my husband with the following note this morning, and I meant every word:

"Boy is up. It's 6:23. I think I'm going to be a zombie for Halloween. No makeup required."

* Boy has long since rejected all forms of pacifiers. So when I say he was "binked," what I mean is he took the only kind of binky he'll accept -- mom's index finger, nail down. No kidding. Judge if you want -- it worked on car rides in the past, when we tried it out of desperation, and it worked last night. A breastfeeding mom of a teething baby can only take so much.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

I, apparently, know jack.

My friend Jack found me a couple days ago. I think the last time he and I corresponded, I was still in college, or maybe it was grad school. Either way, it's been ten years or more. 

Jack and I met when we both worked at the Electrical Engineering Department where I was an undergrad. I was far from an engineering student -- rather, I was an English major lending her organizational skills to the office manager, so there was nothing glamorous about the work. Jack worked in IT, and since the Mac I used frequently needed help, we saw a great deal of each other.

It wasn't long before I realized that this IT guy knew more about good writing and literature than I could have imagined. More than that, he related to literature in a way I never had -- he lived it, knew the characters as people to pity or admire or learn from, breathed the air they did. It was Jack who taught me how to read, just by hearing how he did it, by talking to him about something he'd recently devoured.

And then there was the writing. As powerfully as any of my college professors had, Jack taught me how to get in touch with what mattered. When he shared with me the notes he jotted when inspiration struck him, I saw how truth could be pulled from the dirt, grimy and gritty, to emerge wholesome and hearty, and sustain you when you needed it. In his soft-spoken voice, there was a musical way he used words that felt real and magical at the same time.

If I have moments of strength in my writing, it is as much because of Jack as it is because of anyone or anything else I have met or done or learned. I owe him a great debt for teaching me how to relate to what I consider to be the core of my personal craft, the craft of writing. 

Thank you, Jack. I'm glad you found me again.

I totally deserve an award of some kind.

This weekend I finished the very last drop of a gallon of milk. There was no dumping-out to do before the carton was recycled -- I drank every bit of it before it passed its expiration date. 

Isn't there a prize for that? I totally thought there was.

Because that was a lot of bowls of cereal.

Friday, October 03, 2008

When 900 years old you reach, look this good you will not.

My mom's Aunt F. is almost 88 years old. She was one of something like 11 children, and grew up on a farm in rural Wisconsin. She became a school teacher, so she's still got that tough-as-nails thing going for her when she employs teacher-voice (usually when one of us tries to take her out to lunch or dinner for a change -- "No, I invited you. It's my treat and that's all there is to it."). She gets up at 5 every day, can bake a cake, whip up two batches of cookies or jar 30 quarts of pickled brussel sprouts before 10 a.m., and never skips jury duty. She gives blood at every drive, goes to church every Sunday and has never once forgotten any of the birthdays for anyone in my immediate family, not to mention what our favorite kind of cake is. In short, she's your all-purpose senior-citizen superhero.

This is what was written on the inside of my birthday card this year from Aunt F. You can tell she grew up in a time when newsy correspondence was the thing to do.

"[A friend of the family and his daughter] are here blacktopping my driveway, so I'm home bound today. I weeded in the garden this morning so I'm ready for a rest.

"It's so dry everything is drying up, even the ever-bearing raspberries. My cucumber plant is doing well. I picked over 30 cucumbers from it already.

"Love, F."

She's never once said "I love you" in so many words, but it's in every hem she ever let out of my jeans growing up, every jar of dill pickles she sends us in the summertime, every tin of home-baked and frosted and sprinkled Christmas cookies we get each December, every tear that stands in her eyes as we leave after a few weeks' vacation at her house in July. 

If, when I'm in my 80s, I can look back on my life and see a life of service even half as dedicated and giving as hers, I will be satisfied. "The greatest generation," indeed.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

It's about as crazy as Esperanto

I believe that every family has a language. And I don't mean something deep, like a sub-level to every conversation, through which run undercurrents of resentment and latent rage. I literally mean a language, like pig Latin. At the very least, every family has a vocabulary. 

Inspired by one of emlocke's recent posts, in which she describes what her mother means when she says, "Love your guts," I made a list of the strange vocabulary we use around here. In no particular order:

zap: n. A shoe, but specifically, a sandal or flip-flop worn around the house. Origin: A bastardization of the Vietnamese word for sandal, spelled "dep" but pronounced "zap." Usage: "Have you seen my zaps?"

sleepy: n. A state of being inclined toward sleep. Origin: My husband. Usage: "I lost my sleepy, so I got up and blogged."

first awake: n. The block of time (usually spanning 7 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.) when boy has arisen in the morning but preceding his first nap of the day. Origin: Self-explanatory. Usage: "I'm too tired to shower tonight. Will you watch boy during first awake so I can shower then?"

ai bao (pronounced "EYE bah-oh"): [Incomplete phrase, therefore not any particular part of speech] Roughly translates to, "Who told you to ..." and therefore needs an object to complete the phrase. Origin: Vietnamese. Usage: "Bumped your head pretty hard, huh? Ai bao crawl under the coffee table and then try to sit up?"

fluppus: n. The tag sewn into the back of the neckline of shirts, indicating size and manufacturer. Origin: My mother's neighbors growing up coined this phrase. Usage: "Hold on, your fluppus is showing -- let me tuck it in."

churdle (rhymes with "turtle"): n. An adorable baby, usually one with pleasingly plump proportions or one who has just made a face or noise that is appealing or at least amusing. Origin: My husband. Usage: "Did you see boy just wrinkle his nose at you?! He's SUCH a churdle."

weegle (pronounced "WEE-juhl"): n. An adorable baby, but one who seems to be kind of a rascal in the making. Usually used after the baby in question has made a cute squinchy face. Origin: My sister- and brother-in-law created this one. Usage: "Ooooh, I'm gonna pinch those chubby cheeks, you weegle!"

fartle: n. The tiny smear of baby poo in a diaper that was thought to contain a much more impressive amount of poo (though a fartle can also surprise the changer, who did not suspect the appearance of any solid matter at all). Origin: A play on the word, "fart." Usage: "Let's change your diap -- whoops, pass me the wipes, there's a fartle here." (Editor's note: In other families of our acquaintance, the usage of the words "shart" and "shartlette" have also been identified to mean the same thing. These words have their basic origin in a movie called "Along Came Polly" starring Jennifer Aniston, Ben Stiller and Philip Seymour Hoffman, in which the Hoffman character must leave a social gathering because he has "sharted" in his shorts -- thought he was going to fart but passed more substance instead. The fact that I am explaining this baffles me to no end.)

choss (rhymes with "gross" but pronounced more quickly): n. A silent fart. Origin: Persian. Usage: "Dude, did you just choss? I didn't hear anything but it's killing me, dude. What did you eat? Are you alright? MAN."

gooze (rhymes with "ooze"): n. An audible fart. Origin: Persian. Usage: "Don't even blame that gooze on me. I heard you cut that one." (Editor's note: I live with two boys. Is there any wonder our personal family vocabulary places so much emphasis on the products of one's excretory system?)

Bob Dylan we're not

Before boy was born, my husband and I were sitting around one night*, idly discussing** the fact that we didn't remember very many nursery rhymes to sing to the pending baby. Rather than actually expend effort and Google a few to jog our memory, we elected to pen our own creations. Here's a ditty that my husband wrote. We have video footage of him singing this to boy in the hospital, and even now, when we launch into an energetic rendition of this, boy grins from ear to ear.

Monkey toes walking down the hallway
Monkey toes get hairier every day
Monkey toes pick up nickels and nuts
Monkey toes can be used to scratch butts!

You should know that this is one of the many new things I've learned about my husband since he and I embarked on this journey into parenthood together -- he's truly gifted at creating little songs and rhymes on the fly. Here's another one he's written, composed late one night when (wait for it) boy wasn't sleeping:

I love you, boy, I love you
We can take a walk and look at the moon, 'cause
I love you, boy, I love you
We sure hope you'll fall asleep soon, 'cause
We love you, boy, we love you
If you sleep till eight then it would be great, 'cause
I love you, boy, I love you
Sure didn't know you'd stay up so late, 'cause
We love you, boy, we love you ...

And so on. He's super good because he actually sings these little songs, making up melodies on the spot too. I think he might have missed his true calling.

Not to be outdone, though, I've penned a few lines myself. Inspired by my brother-in-law's declaration that boy's feet look like hamburger patties due to their satisfyingly chunky dimensions (see banner of this blog, just in case you haven't noticed), I've been reciting the following rhyme to boy as I patty-cake his chubby feet together:

Hamburger feet
Hamburger feet
Fries and a shake and 
Hamburger feet.

Medium rare
Medium rare
Cook my toodies to
Medium rare.

Ses'me seed buns
Ses'me seed buns
Serve my toes on
Ses'me seed buns.

Serve 'em up quick
Serve em up quick
Get 'em while they're hot and
Serve 'em up quick!

Boy loves it. Personally, I just hope our creative juices don't dry up by the time Number Two is born someday. Just in case the well's dry by then, do you think Number Two would believe we made up, say, "Row, row, row your boat?" Nobody sing it now, so it looks more original then.


* We did a lot of this before boy was born ... this now-only-fabled "sitting around."

** We did a lot of this, too, back then ... "idly discussing." Today's conversations have a much more urgent nature. "Catch him, he's tipping!" Or, "Uh-oh -- honey, where's the stain remover?" Or, "No, no, boy, not daddy's stereo receiver!"