Dear Babies of Mine,
I had resolved to try and breathe more (and scream less) through my frustrations.
I had hoped to start living more in the moment and not in the dark cave of my thoughts.
Perhaps I should be more positive, since the clock has not even struck midnight yet and already I'm appologizing for losing my intentions. Because I know I will.
Like so many resolutions prior, I don't expect this one will last too long into the new year. I am, afterall, the same person I was yesterday; the same person I was a year ago. I am the same person I will be tomorrow.
But that isn't really true of either of you.
With Silas changing into a kid more each day; reaching out for toys to activate and strands of hair to pull, I've also watched Annabel change and grow into a little girl.
When he cries in the car she sings to him, or searches for his binky, or plays peek-a-boo.
Often it works to calm him but yesterday nothing helped. He was just too tired and in need of sleep.
With a long road ahead I reached back and took her hand. It was warm.
"Mom. You've got the wrong hand," she said quietly.
"No I don't. I have your hand."
And with that the car fell into a comfortable silence.
It's enough to give me hope that anything is possible. That maybe the intention of wanting to be something else -- something better -- is enough. For now.
Happy New Year, babies.
Monday, December 31, 2007
Sunday, December 30, 2007
SHE: Hey dad! The Christmas tree lights are BEE-YOOOOOU-TIFUL!
HE: Really? I was just in the livingroom and they were turned off. How did they get turned on?
SHE: I plugged it in. Don't worry, I still have all my fingers.
Friday, December 28, 2007
Remember I told you about my vision for an Earthy-crunch Christmas? A holiday without a cadmium-lead-toxic-cocktail of toys?
I spent hours and hours on Etsy, scoured the Web for toys that didn't have the Made in China label and plunked down dollars for lots of things I assumed would be well loved a long, long, time from now ... when she was older, and could appreciate the beauty of natural fibers.
I was wrong.
Tonight Annabel played with the handcrafted doll for hours. She carried her around in her new doll sling, rocked her in the new horse swing and put her to bed in her basket, being careful to wrap her in her blanket and tuck in the doll's own softie toy.
I still don't really believe my doll-dissing daughter has adopted this little beauty as her charge.
Perhaps this newly discovered love of dolls was jump started by fact that I had a a sling made for her in the same fabric as mine.
But who can predict the mind of a preschooler? I've was even wrong about the name. (I thought she'd likely name the doll after her favorite TV personality, Emily Yung).
"Her name is Selene. ... or maybe Angelina ... No. Selene. I'll call her Selene. Yeah, that sounds good."
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Monday, December 24, 2007
Well ... he comes to our house on Christmas Eve and brings a "teaser" present.
The jolly old elf shows up in an SUV and brings presents to all little girls and boys in our village, courtesy of the local fire department's Santa Claus Club. It's all very sweet, really. This is Silas' first year (obviously) and and Annabel's second. (We were traveling during the holidays the times before that). The town's Santa reminds children to be good and get plenty of sleep so he can come back and fill the house presents.
And ... it's past 11 and we're still waiting for the girl to pass out.
Currently, she's in her room. Awake. And has been for the last three hours. ...
Santa has plans for her room. ... so he's sitting with us watching "Something About Mary" on HBO. (He thinks there's too much potty humor in it though).
Ahhhhh. Christmas. Here's hoping yours is merry and bright ... and somewhat bushy tailed tomorrow morning.
My guess is Santa's going to be mainlining caffeine by sun up.
Friday, December 21, 2007
About 14 years ago our dear friend Loren most cleverly condensed Wagner's The Ring of the Nibelung into a 14 minute "event" and cast a number of friends in the operatic performance. Jed played Fafner. I thought he was perfect for the role, and so very stylish in his costume, which included platform boots he fashioned out of pink, foam insulation.
I always thought it a shame he didn't catch the acting virus from that experience. He's definitely got star quality, don't you think?
Thursday, December 20, 2007
So .... I bought these espresso cups and saucers about a zillion years ago, presumably because I thought they were cute. They've been packed away in a box since purchase and that box has followed me to three homes.
Shocking, isn't it?
Well yesterday was Ittybit's last day of school at the Marilla Cuthbert Acadamy for Unspeakably Charming Children until the new year, and I never got her teachers a gift. ... So being upset and worried about everything under the sun (or moon, depending on your location in hemisphere) I decided to put my nervous energy to good use last night and I stayed up way too late making yet another batch of Chocolate Covered Compost.
Of course I didn't know how I would package the treats as I sleepily put myself and the cling-on to bed round about 2 in the A.M., so I tossed and turned for the rest of my repose remembering the things in my possession that I'd like to reliquish into someone else's possession.
Sometime in all of that fretting I remembered these little gems were packed away in some dank corner of the mess I call a home office. With an early morning expedition into the cold, dark space with a flashlight, some baggies, some ribbon and a little tissue paper ... and voila! No one has to be the wiser. ...
However, since her father forgot ittybit's bag at school yesterday when he was her "special day" someone and I showed up bearing gifts this morning when I dropped by to reclaim the tote, which, incidentally, is filled with extra shoes (some of which are her brother's) and plastic toys (ditto, as to ownership), I'm fairly certain they know any gift from us is really just a stroke of dumb luck.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Six months ago today you were born. Imagine that.
Six months ago today I was trying to rest up for the surgery. Trying not to think about all the things that had been heaped upon my shoulders in the last weeks of the pregnancy.
Six months ago today I was wondering what I was in for. What you were in for.
Some of those questions have been answered and some are still a mystery.
Thus far I've found you to be shy, and funny and sweet. You are quick with a smile, and eager to see the world. You are content to watch, and yet you reach out, too.
Your first bites of food were enthusiastic. You seemed ready to chew and eager to try more offerings from your great grandmother's spoon.
Watching you grow and change, giggle and laugh; watching you hide coyly in the folds of the sling, peeking out and smiling all the same, I've come to call you turtle. I hardly remember those days of worry about your wonky kidney. Only the doctors' appointments are the reminders that something about you is not the same as others.
And today, as we slogged through sloppy streets, parking on snowbanks and walking precariously through half-shoveled walkways into the hospital, I fully expected a stellar report.
You were brave as the ultrasound technician waved her wand over your right - perfectly formed - kidney. You batted your eyes and tried to help by grabbing the corded device.
I should have known by the way you were carrying on about being turned onto you right side so she could get pictures of your left kidney that all was not as well as it seemed.
... You decimated the paper sheet on the examining table at the urology office later that morning. You we silent and intent on crinkling every square inch.
But I was staring like a deer in headlights when the PA explained that while the hospital marked the pictures as "UNCHANGED" (The same determination of two months ago) she had conferred with the doctor and they concluded that if anything, the images looked slightly worse.
The next step, she said, was a lasiks renalgram (which I later learned is a LASIX RENOGRAM and only sounds like renalgram when they throw the terms at you fast).
This is a test in which they will insert and IV and inject radioactive isotopes into my baby boy and watch how the glowing dye gets pissed out.
torture procedure will take three hours. He will be strapped onto a board, have a catheter and be in some radioactive room, similar in appearance to an MRI chamber, or so I'm told by some folks I know who's kids have been through the same test.
So as I stood there blinking and feeling as if I would do anything to switch places with my tiny, chortling son I sad nothing and accepted that this was the best thing to do ... that this is the next course of action ... that this is what is called for ...
And I made the appointment.
Then I realized, four hours later while I was at work and you were calmly lying in my lap watching the coworkers go by, that I don't really know what the rush is for something that is so slight one of two doctors thought was unchanged.
So I called to ask the questions I should have ask when I was busy being caught in the bright lights of fear and wishing away ...
What are our options? Can we wait a few months and do another ultrasound?
But they were busy, so I had to leave a message.
I may be slow on the uptake, little man, but I am learning at a turtle's pace.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
This morning after breakfast I presented you with a timely gift: A flouncy dress and matching tights. Timely because laundry doesn't get a second thought, let alone a chance to suds up, when the preceding weekend is filled with parties and other holiday merriment.
I was holding my breath as you delecately held the "gift" bag, a reused handled brown bag from Starbucks, and asked if it was really for you to open.
You didn't remember that you'd picked it out last fall by tearing it from the Hanna Andersson catalogue and presenting it to me as a dress you most definitely WOULD wear. But that didn't matter. The dress was so YOU.
There have been a lot of missteps on my part in that department, I’m afraid. I continued to buy purple things with turtlenecks and loud prints long after your tastes had turned to scoop necks and soft pinks with pockets. I picked large flowers over your preferred small ones. I picked dogs over cats and green over blue, blue over green, green over orange and orange over yellow. I've even tried buying the thing that I least liked, thinking I'd win by accident.
Turns out I always lose.
You have extremely particular taste in clothes. So particular, in fact, that it's hard for even the initiated to make successful purchases on your behalf. You like pants that are made of soft, jersey material. You like them best if they have pockets. You like T-shirts of soft cotton, but the design could be a deal-breaker on any given day. "No stripes on the fourth Monday of August, but no solids if it snows," is pretty much how I’ve come to understand the selection process. You won’t wear wool or pullover sweaters. You’re not a fan of jeans.
A year ago I used to pull my hair out trying to discern your preferences. I'd hunt and peck through your drawers for things I'd know you’d wear, and then wash them the second you swapped them for pajamas. Then I started buying the favorites in multiples of four so I'd have a few days leeway.
Lately, however, this tack hasn’t worked. It’s not the familiar you’ve been seeking. You are branching out.
"Mother," you'll tell me (because you've decided you like the way MOTHER sounds) "I don't want to wear what I don't want to wear, but I want you to pick out something for me that I don't want to wear. And I'll know it when I see it. Okay?"
You see my dilemma?
A year ago, I would also have gladly given up a week's wages to get you to wear some kind of matching bit of designer fashion so I could pretend I was a skilled and talented shopper. So I could see myself as a hip mom whose child looks clean and impeccably clad at all times.
Instead you insisted on wearing stripes with dots of non-matching hues to your first day of school. You wore purple snow boots with a swimsuit and pajama bottoms to the museum. You wore a purple tutu with a red, three-button Henley t-shirt to the ballet. And each time you insisted, I became that much less worried about how others perceived me. After all, it wasn’t about me, now, was it?
So today, when you opened your dress (two sizes to large, thanks to my skin-flintyness and inability to translate European sizes) and tried it on, it didn't really surprise me that you were skeptical.
"Mother, I think it's too big."
"Well it's a little big, that's true, but it just has more room to grow and more room to flutter when you twirl."
"Ok ... but are you sure I'm four?"
"You are four today, Ittybit. I can hardly believe it myself."
Monday, December 17, 2007
We don't watch a lot of network television.
It's not because we believe it will rot our minds or turn our babies into degenerates, it's merely because we really can't stand the shows within the shows; commericials.
Since we're usually pretty adept at getting our snacks BEFORE most programs begin, and our bladders can handle excess beverages for the two hours it takes to watch most movies, we don't need to partake of the only true benefit offered by a commercial's thirty-second reprieve.
That's not to say we don't watch our heaping American portions of television. We watch HBO and public television. We watch Discover and the Sundance Channel. We watch the Independent Film Channel and we have a library of childrens movies, enough for hours of viewing bliss.
But last night, for the first time in I don't know how long, we suffered through countless commercials for ABS's offering of "The Incredibles." Why? I don't know. But it was amusing, nonetheless, to sit on the couch next to Ittybit and her father and listen to the lesson he tried to impart.
ITTYBIT: "DADDY!!! Please get my cartoon back. The news is on. I DON'T like the news. It's only for GROWNUPS."
DADDY: "That's not the news. That's a commercial. It's how most television networks pay for programing. They are trying to sell us things we don't need."
ITTYBIT: "Is my cartoon coming back?"
DADDY: "Yes, but first we have to wait through these things and try and figure out what they're trying to sell us. See, here, this is an ad for McDonald's. They're trying to sell us expensive foods that they are masquerading as good for you. But look ... they're dipping them in sauce, which is high in sugar and calories. ..."
ITTYBIT: "What is this one trying to sell me?"
DADDY: "Well this is trying to sell you toys."
ITTYBIT: "What is this one trying to sell me?"
DADDY: "Toaster strudels ... more junk food."
ITTYBIT: "What is this one trying to sell me?"
DADDY: "Well ... this is trying to get me to go see a film in the theater ... hey ... I actually want to see that one ..."
MOMMY: "Daddy bought that one."
DADDY: "I did NOT. I just want to see that movie."
MOMMY: "How do you know you want to see it?"
DADDY: "I. ... Uh ... Oh, I know. ... I saw the trailer at the theater the last time we went to the movies."
MOMMY: "See? Marketing."
ITTYBIT: "Ok. Shhhhh. The cartoon is back."
Sunday, December 16, 2007
She was worried about the disparity. A birthday party on any other day than her birthday, in her considered estimation, is a lie. Plain and simple.
Whether it was conscience or keep adherence to fact, turns out she really didn't have to lie after all. It is true, she will be four on Tuesday, but we invited half the western hemisphere to celebrate the occasion on Saturday.
"I'm not really four," she told her guests. "WHEN AM I GONNA BE FOUR, MOTHER?" Oh yeah, Tuesday. On Tuesday I'll be four."
I'm not the best judge of such things, especially since my attentions were split so many ways I'm sure many of the conversations I picked up with people were likely continued from conversations I'd started with others, but I think the party was a pretty good one. They played. They ate. They painted. They ate some more. They drank. They played. They bounced on beds. They drank some more. They played. They opened presents (pretty much on their own, because the mom was drinking and playing, too ... so, I'm sorry to say, there are a few folks who will be getting generic yet genuine thank you notes.) And then the played some more.
And then they enlisted some of the menfolk to institute a forge in the painting studio, where they crafted some of the finest play swords known to kids out of ridged insulation, aluminum foil and electrical tape.
I think it's safe to say a good time was had by all. And no one lost an eye.
Friday, December 14, 2007
ME: I know you hate when I ask you this ... but do you ever have weird sensations across your back or shoulder?
ME: Because I get this weird feeling right over my left shoulder where the sling hits. ...
HIM: Well it's probably from the sling.
ME: But it happens when I'm not wearing it.
HIM: *blink. blink*
ME: Do you ever feel like your hands go to sleep but they really don't. So you're not sure if they have or not?
HIM: Uh, no. ...
ME: Do you ever get the feeling that you are not right handed after all?
HIM: Maybe I should have the blog.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Jed finally convinced me, hours before the storm, that it was probably the better part of valor -- seeing as my new commute has me driving at dawn over hill and dale with little in the way of road plowing -- to swap my good all-season radials for the studded snows I haven't used since global warming thumbed its nose at our northeast winters.
How long has it been since I've personally brought a car to the shop to have the winter changeover? You know, the schlepping of snowtires you already own (four in my case) to the
clipshop tire store so that their top-notch technicians can spend all of 12 minutes spinning and perching, all while making that satisfying 'weeeeerrrrrrr' sound of the lug-gun.
Because ... Um ... I know it's expensive but 22-freaking-dollars per tire?
Just seems like highway robbery to me.
I just have a feeling I've been snowed.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
HIM: *blink. blink. blink*
ME: Yeah. Orange peels. They're candied ... you know, like marmalade?
You blanch the orange peels and then simmer them in a simple syrup for an hour. Then you let them dry and dip them in melted chocolate.
HIM: *blink. blink. blink*
ME: OK, just think of it as half healthy.
HIM: No hon, it's half compost.
ME: Oh well, more for me then.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Monday, December 10, 2007
American Public Media's Marketplace recently aired a series called Consumed, presumably to ask the question: Is our consumer society sustainable?
It mainly focused on Americans' insatiable appetite for things. Pretty, pretty, things. Pretty cheap things. Lots and lots of cheap things. That we can throw away. Things that come packaged in more things. Things that can't be repaired. Things that are cheaper to replace.
And now that these pretty, cheap things - especially for children - come with a toxic shadow surrounding them, I am trying to reform my ways.
But boy is it tough.
It's like a drug, these bargains that aren't really bargains. The Christmas-Tree-Shop thinking (Don't You Just LOVE a Bargain ... for some piece of detritus you don't really need) combined with a spend-or-the-terrorists-will-have-won mantra that keeps the economy afloat, is drowning me.
My mother reminds me that WE didn't have all these plastic toys when she was raising us. There just wasn't ALL. THIS. STUFF. And that we were happy playing with creations of our own making. We didn't watch a lot of TV not because she eschewed it but because there just wasn't a lot of children's television. Seasame Street, The Electric Company, Captain Kangaroo ... Saturday morning cartoons was pretty much all the programming there was; and movies for children consisted of the occasional Disney flick in theaters, and Willy Wonka and The Wizard of OZ, played once a year on the boobtube around Christmas time or Halloween.
Yet, I could list all the possible things I could buy, collect, watch, rinse, repete, and I still would probably miss about 75 percent of the things available to purchase as a way to deplete the college fund for no good reason.
And you know what? No matter how I rail against it, I am guilty of perpetuating it. I pay so little attention that the reality of buying some $1 piece of dreck seems a bargain if it will just stave off whatever potential meltdown is brewing in the background.
"You just lost the battle," my husband scoffs at me as Ittybit leaves Target with a tiny basket of Made in China fruit.
I try to protest, turn the tables and shine the blinding light of failure elsewhere. I tell him I am too tired to have THAT fight. I don't want to drag her from the store, kicking and screaming over something that is a natural desire: To have something new.
We are all guilty of those types of transgressions. He can't go past a hardware store and I can't get out of a discount store without buying something I don't need just because it was inexpensive-artfully placed-or-otherwise alluring with its shiny "Hey-YOU-Don't-Have-That" glow.
He looks at me with well placed skepticism.
"The only way to win this was is to leave her home," I say in exaspiration.
"Or you could say 'NO,'" he responds.
"Leave me HOME?" she asks me sadly? "Your not going to take me with you to Target anymore?"
"Yes, honey, I think we are going to have to for a while," I reply.
"Because Mommy can't say 'NO' to you. And I really need to say 'NO'."
Saturday, December 08, 2007
He slipped, jerked his back and hurt his shoulder.
It wasn't the best timing. Not that you can plan your accidents, but the Saturday we were planning on getting a Christmas tree, decorate said evergreen and perhaps start the process of making food gifts for the holidays ... he would have liked to have a full range of motion.
Nevertheless, we were able to accomplish much of what we'd set out to do. We got the tree, he got it upstairs, I put the lights on and many of the decorations.
There was a moment of panic for a minute as box after box of supposed Christmas ornaments turned out to be dead light strands and plain old tissue paper. I envisioned having the tree festooned in recycling (a trick I learned in college) when what to my wondering eyes should appear but a crazy long box with a smattering of duct tape here and there
Rejoice! It contained the goods: dozens of ornaments collected over the years sans children, dozens of ornaments created in the last three plus years by Annabel or her big people and a few dozen origami cranes made by yours truly to relieve nervous tension.
And therein also contained nearly 70 ornaments made in the past two years and exchanged by members of an internet moms' group.
Seriously. As I sat there, drinking my refreshing beverage and watching Ittybit hang the last of the origami birds, I wondered how we ever filled a tree before Please Send Vodka. But the most miraculous part is that every year I think the idea of making 30 to 40 ornaments to send around the country, and in some cases round the world, is just too much. But really, hanging up last year's ornaments while getting this year's in the mail? Worth every bead of sweat and glue, I swear.
Thursday, December 06, 2007
But that won't stop me from yammering on about it.
Yeah ... the devil's in the details and all of that. Annabel's birthday party is coming up (as is Christmas) adding even more stress and budget-draining angst to an already overburdened holiday season.
Turns out we've invited 17 children because
we hate ourselves we don't like leaving anyone out, and, you know, now that we're the proud parents of two we've recognized the errors of our way in the past. (We are sheepishly admitting duct tape doesn't make that great a babysitter after all.)
And because I
am INSANE don't sleep at night, I end up going overboard in the planning phase: designing printed invitations and gift bags and ideas for projects that wind up costing more than an Oscars afterparty.
Jed's in charge of the food, so luckily the people who show up won't have to eat a lunch of pretzels and apple juice. Buuuuuut because I was in charge of the invitations, there's a little SNAFU.
While I poured buckets of sweat over the processs, I neglected to consider the simple fact that ANNABEL is still going to swim lessons with her papa on Saturday mornings. See, I thought I'd be all clever-like and throw her party BEFORE meltdown:30, which usually takes place at the precise moment of the proverbial afternoon naptime. I figured if we had a BRUNCH-time party we'd be all set.
So the invitations are demanding people arrive at 10 a.m. and the guest of honor won't be showing up until 11. Yup. Not sure how many of you read this here nonsense, but if you do ... there it is.
ME = Still a moron.
*** Also if you didn't GET an invitation, and your reading this, please let me know because ... yeah. ... might not have affixed postage to the envelope. **Post office doesn't accept Hello Kitty stickers as postal tender, right?
ME = Still a moron.
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
This is you, Ittybit: Shirt on backwards, hair clinging to the curtain, perpetual static. Nothing about you matches. Not your clothes, not your voice, not your sense of humor. Everything about you is unique.
You are just about four, just a blip in time, and yet somehow I've already lost track of where you've been. Listening for your brother's first (ever-so-stingy) giggles has made me lament that I can't remember your early laughter.
I don't remember when you first said Mama, or Daddy. I only know that when we play our "going home" games in the car I wonder when you learned to use proper grammar. When did your verbs started to agree with their subjects? (Probably when you and I started to disagree on the wearing of summer clothes in winter).
It pains me that sometimes your happiness makes me sad; that as you bounce and twirl and jammer and joke, I just want some quiet. I beg for an instant of peace that lasts for two days.
Lately the best times have been in the car; your brother sleeping (or watching you) while you and I play games of nonsense.
I can't help but think as we volley words and ideas back and forth that these silly games we play -- such as "WOULD YOU EAT THAT?" -- have a shelf life that will expire long before I am ready to give them up. (A testament, perhaps, to the notion that shows like Fear Factor will always have a place in America's low-brow television diet).
But I digress. ...
MAMA: Would you eat a horse?
ITTYBIT: No, too fuzzy.
MAMA: Would you eat a skunk?
ITTYBIT: No, too stinky.
MAMA: Would you eat a turkey?
ITTYBIT: No, too feathery.
MAMA: Would you eat a dog?
ITTYBIT: No, too furry.
MAMA: Would you eat a hedgehog?
ITTYBIT: No, too OUCHIE!
MAMA: Would you eat a dinosaur?
ITTYBIT: No, too big.
I wish I could explain the feeling because as I read back, the words just don't convey the wash of warm chills that went through me as you came up with descriptions for each and every animal you wouldn't eat. When you changed auxilary verbs to fit their plural subjects mid-sentence, I held my breath. When did you start to match?
I just keep spinning the number four in my head and whistling under my breath. "So this is four, or just about."
I hope four is sweet, little girl, because I'm sure I'll soon have to eat these words.
Love and kisses,
Monday, December 03, 2007
That's what I thought, too.
So while I had him in the sling and was busy
ignoring him trying to keep the kid with the big mouth his big sister from peeling off her skin happy, the baby learned to really move. A little bit, anyway. DRAT! YAY! My evil plot has been foiled. Next stop, bouncy seat.