Sunday, December 28, 2008

Home from PA

We got home yesterday after a grueling twelve hours of traveling, and had to immediately take Squeaky to an emergency clinic. She's there now, hooked up to an IV. Our sweet kitty. She started throwing up on Thursday while we were gone. The neighbor who was watching her for us called and said she had thrown up several times but was eating and seemed fine. We decided to wait and see if she stopped throwing up, but she continued. On Friday she wasn't doing well at all, but we were coming home the next day and felt like our neighbor couldn't handle taking Squeaky in (nor did she seem to want to). It's a huge challenge getting her in the carrier and we wouldn't wish it on anyone. But we didn't know until we got home that Squeaky hadn't eaten in two days and hadn't even come downstairs. She had vomited in pretty much every room, some rooms multiple times. She was very, very sick and weak.

Eight hundred dollars later, we know that she has an irritated GI tract, probably from something she swallowed. Her intestines are bunched up and there's gas trapped inside, and she's dehydrated from vomiting. The hope is that she'll pass whatever she swallowed with the help of fluids; otherwise she'll need surgery, which we cannot afford. We've been waiting to hear from the clinic all day, and are not happy that it's now 4:00 and we haven't heard anything. We called around 11 a.m. and they said they'd call us back with an update. Waiting . . .

E, in the meantime, has had a rough day. It's hard adjusting to being back home, and he's beyond exhausted. I don't think we've ever seen him this tired. This morning he cried and cried, and we couldn't figure out what was wrong. We think he was just tired out and readjusting. He took a short nap this morning and has been asleep for a loooong time this afternoon.

The past week has ushered in several fun new developments in the world of E. As of this morning, he points to his tummy and pats it when you ask where his tummy is. We discovered this when he was crying for no apparent reason and I said to TJ, "Do you think his tummy hurts?" And he looked at us meaningfully and then down at his tummy and started patting it. In the Houston airport yesterday, he covered his eyes with his hands and played peekaboo for the first time. It might just be the cutest thing I've ever seen in my life. Meanwhile, on our trip he started signing "all done" when he finished a meal, and he also started saying "cup." It sounds more like he's swallowing his tongue when he says it ("gop"), but that's what he's saying. Let's see, he cut two teeth in the past week as well, including a molar, and he started to dance, really dance. He and his two-year-old cousin did a lot of dancing.

These are all sort of predictable skills and definitely boring for anyone else to hear about, but for us it's magical--in a way I bet is different for a second or third child. Not that subsequent children's milestones are any less fun, especially since every child is so unique, but . . . I just suspect it's different. I was thinking about this on our trip, observing TJ's sister's family. They have a two-year-old and a five-month-old. More about this later. I'll also be posting some pictures from our trip. I only took about a million.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Hard Decisions

We've decided not to take Squeaky in this morning after all. We're positive the blood didn't come from her rearend, and she's eating normally and acting completely normal. I think she sneezed and the blood came from her mouth? It hasn't happened since. Also, the two places I called this morning were booked in terms of boarders. We could've gotten her looked at, but she couldn't have stayed. I hate the thought of leaving her like this. I'm going to worry about her the whole time we're gone. But I don't know what else to do. Hopefully everything will be fine in the next six days, and we can assess the situation when we get back and take her to the doctor then if we need to.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Squeaky, Leaving, the Rebel

About to go to bed. We're leaving at 11:00 in the morning for the airport. But first we'll be calling a vet up the road (we never found a new vet when we bought this house), because we think Squeaky might have a kidney infection. Or something. We have found two blood stains--sprays of blood, really--that I realized today are from her. It's unclear where on her body the blood is coming from, but her mouth doesn't look bloody. Neither does her rear, but surely it's coming from there? My poor Squeak. Sweet girl. I always feel terrible leaving her anyway, and now it looks like we may be boarding her, which will be incredibly traumatic for her. (Just going to the vet will traumatize her in a huge way.)

I could go on about things, but it's late and I've got to sleep.

There are things we're looking forward to on this trip, like seeing Keltie and meeting our new nephew Owen (he's six months) and watching E play with his cousin Julia (Owen's big sister who's two), but I think at this point we're a bit freaked out about how E will react to having his schedule turned on its head, what he'll be like on the plane, what will happen if we encounter serious delays, how he'll do in the hotel room, and just the logistics of things like feeding him (dinnertime tomorrow will take place midair). These are our concerns, condensed. It will be stressful, in part because it's completely unpredictable, but I think it'll be okay once we're actually doing it. It will be an adventure, anyway!

Oh, I almost forgot: TJ and I exchanged gifts yesterday, and he totally shocked me by getting me the camera I've been dying to have but didn't think I'd get for years and years, if ever. It's the C.anon Rebel Xsi. I'd mentioned it in an email to him a year ago or so, and he found the email and went out and bought it. I could not believe it! It's not cheap, either. He's crazy. We don't get each other expensive gifts usually. Oh, but it's beautiful. We're taking it on the trip, so I'll post pictures when we get back. Hopefully I'll figure out how to work it between now and then.

Happy holidays . . .

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Lists

My friend Keltie emailed a couple of days ago and said (she's so great), "Are you panicked about flying and the holidays and TJ's family and Christ, just getting ready for it all with Eamon? I would be. I would be making lists in my head for days and days."

Yes! That's what I'm doing! Last night I went out and bought toys for the plane trips. Lots of toys. They'll be E's Christmas presents, way more than he would get if we weren't traveling. He'll get some on the way there and some on the way back, and then he'll have presents from relatives on Christmas Day (not that it will matter to him since he doesn't understand Christmas yet).

We're staying with Keltie in Philly on Monday night since our flight gets in late and our hotel (near TJ's sister's house) is two hours away. I'm so excited to see Kel and for her to meet E, but I'm bummed that we won't get to meet her baby girl, Ellie, who is four weeks older than E. She'll already be in the DC area with her dad, maximizing time with grandparents.

We're also spending our last night in PA at Keltie's house, but she won't be there at that point. It's wonderful to not have to stay in a hotel for two of the nights, and to be somewhere that's set up for a baby.

There are so many details to think about, and I haven't thought them through completely yet because I've had my hands full being sick, taking care of E, and trying to finish Christmas shopping (which is actually a much easier task this year since we're only doing gifts for TJ's six nieces and nephews and my five [counting my sister-in-law] siblings). I felt horrible earlier today but am feeling better now. It's too boring to get into. I'm bored of being sick and talking about being sick and I'd like it to be over soon. I'm missing a co-op meeting tonight because of it, and I really needed to be there.

Time to get the pizza out of the oven.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Ick, and Tales of E

The picture at the top of this blog is so old and summery. It's time for an update. After the holidays sometime. Maybe I'll move to Wordpress. I've wanted to for a while, but just haven't taken the time. (Same goes for email, incidentally. I have a gmail account and I swear I'm going to start using it as my primary account one of these years.)

Anyway. So. I'm still sick. Day six. I guess I haven't mentioned on here that TJ came down with the cold last Friday and was in bed until Sunday. My throat continued to hurt like a bitch all day Saturday, and then I started to feel a lot worse that night when E and I were at a holiday gathering at Catherine and Shannon's house. Sunday TJ and I both felt rotten. I've continued to deteriorate since then (I now sound like a swamp monster), and TJ's gotten better (thank god). In the meantime, the cold seems to have bypassed E (knock on wood). His nose is runny and he's temperamental and fussy, but it seems to be related to teething (molar #2 is just about through). His night sleep hasn't been interrupted, and I know it would be if his throat were hurting.

E has never spent so much time at home (no playground yesterday, no co-op today, no anything on Sunday), and he's done great, all things considered. He's sporting two fat lips currently, however. Top and bottom, opposite sides. Bloody pajama tops accompanied both incidents. Luckily we had popsicles on hand specifically for this purpose--something we learned from the accident that sent us to the ER a couple of months ago. The first fall related to the coffee table and the second was just one of those where he's walking along and then suddenly face plants. It's always so sad, and yet he recovers remarkably quickly.

Being sick has affected everything, and I find it endlessly frustrating. The past three weekends have ended up being shot (illness only responsible for this past one), and that has greatly compromised our state of readiness for the holidays. I had so much to do this week, and it's not getting done. Period. I was stressed out enough about our trip (we leave Monday) without feeling hopelessly behind. I'm working on letting things go and just doing what I can and not feeling like a big loser, but this does not come naturally to me.

I left the house with E this morning for the first time since Saturday, determined to get some groceries for at least the next couple of days. We've been doing takeout. I got the next closest thing--rotisserie chicken for tonight and a frozen pizza for tomorrow. This caused me to reflect on our diet. We used to eat a frozen pizza once every week or two, but we haven't had one in about six months--ever since we changed our diet. But in the past couple of months, we've gotten lazy and started eating pasta and bread again, not being careful with what we order in restaurants, and I've gained the four or five pounds back that I'd lost this summer (seemingly all in my belly). It's actually kinda cool in a way to see such a direct connection. Hopefully we can get back on track after the holidays.

E, in the meantime, is a heartstopping delight. A challenge at times, but always a delight. There's no other word for it. He's walking very well--very fast!--and bending his knees more when he walks. He's very into putting lids onto their respective objects, or otherwise taking two halves of something and making it whole. Catherine's little brother passed down his Mega Blocks cars to E, and E loves them. He brings them to us to have us take them apart, and then he tries to put them back together. He's also still into balls and stacking blocks. He recently figured out how to turn a light switch on and off, and we often stand at the bank of switches at the bottom of the stairs. He flicks them up and down and twists with surprise every time a light comes on or goes off. He also loves books, and brings them to us to read to him over and over. He especially loves the DK board books about colors, opposites, and times of day. We read My First Colors Board Book many, many times each day, and I point to the pictures of objects that are familiar to him--bananas, rubber ducks, grapes, dog, cat. And songs; we sing songs every day.

He has a fiery, fiery temperament, and screeches at the drop of a hat from frustration or anger. He's single-minded about his desires. He adores Squeaky with all his heart, and is often good about giving her gentle pets, though their interactions require close supervision. At the end of the day, around 4:00 or 5:00, he wants me to hold him while I go about preparing dinner or changing out the laundry. I oblige until my left arm protests emphatically, probably somewhere around the half hour mark. At times I'll put him in the Ergo, but he's not as content there.

I love the feeling of his small, solid body in my arms.

He's understanding more and more of what we say, and he's starting to imitate sounds a bit more. If I tell him we're going to the park, he'll say, "pa." He also seems to be saying "book," though it's hard to distinguish from "ball." Just tonight (I started this earlier but am finishing it in the evening), I was holding him and stirring a pot on the stove and he reached for it and I said, "Hot, hot!" He responded by pursing his lips and blowing out in short bursts, like I do when I blow on his food. We got the biggest kick out of this, seeing as how we had no idea he connected the two.

One last little E story, boring to everyone except my future self and perhaps E's future self or his children: Sometimes when we're downstairs, I'll be at the kitchen sink washing dishes, and I'll realize it's gotten quiet. I'll start walking through the living room, calling E's name, even though I'm pretty sure where he is. Sure enough, I always find him standing inside the darkened bathroom with a huge grin on his face, practically wringing his hands in anticipation, waiting to be caught. He never puts his hands in the toilet anymore--he knows he's not supposed to, so instead he just stands by the toilet and waits.

And there you have a spontaneous summary of fourteen-month-old E, who has just woken from his nap.

Be gone, snot! (That sounds much cheerier than I feel.)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Domestic Disturbances

Fascinating column by Judith Warner in the NYT on Friday about emotional emeshment between parents and children.
You can find it here.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Not Allergies

As I felt progressively worse last night, it slowly dawned on me that this was more than allergies. Sure enough, I had a little fever hovering around 100. And boy did I feel awful. TJ and E took me to the doctor this morning. It probably wasn't a necessary trip, but I wanted to rule out strep, what with it being a Friday and my throat feeling like I couldn't swallow solid food very well. It looks like it's just your average cold, though. TJ has been wonderful--he took the day off and has basically waited on me hand and foot and taken care of E. He put him down for his nap today for the first time in months. I wish I were better at accepting his help like this without feeling guilty or uncomfortable. It's ridiculous considering the amount of time I've spent recently batting away small resentments and wishing he took more initiative around here. As always, I'm good at shooting myself in the foot. In any case, he has been VERY sweet to me today. I should get sick more often!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Allergies, and the sign for milk

Woke up this morning feeling like an anvil had been dropped on my head. At first I was afraid I was coming down with a cold, but I've since realized that it's allergies. Cedar, I think. Eamon woke up with a runny nose as well. My headache is gone now, but my throat has gotten worse. Damn you, allergies.

I'm pleased to report that E has made his first sign. The sign for milk. In retrospect, we can see that he's been making it for a while now, but we thought he was randomly waving hello in his high chair. No, the poor kid was trying to communicate that he wanted some milk. How confusing for him: He would sign milk and we would respond by waving enthusiastically and saying "Hi!" But we've got it all sorted out now, and I have to say it was exhilarating to communicate with him at lunchtime in this way. Now if he could only figure out "more," that would truly make a big difference.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The First Two Weeks

I went out by myself today to do a little Christmas shopping, and in the car on the way there I could feel the hormonal heaviness of this month's cycle settling around my shoulders. It wasn't so bad; the world just seemed kinda gray and without taste. All day I've been trying to find something I wanted to eat but nothing appealed to me. I had a brief flashback in the car to the way I felt after E was born. It was really nothing like how I felt today; I was at peace, in general, today. But this afternoon's food blah-ness reminded me just a tad of those days. I am so frightened at the thought of ever feeling that way again.

I remember going to the doctor to get my incision checked when E was twelve days old. It was a Friday morning. We'd been home from the hospital seven days. My OB's nurse, who I'd always found abrasive and demeaning (I've since switched practices), fixed me with this look and asked me in so many words if I had post-partum depression. I said I had no idea, but that I loved my baby. For some reason I wanted her to know that I loved him. Looking back, I would say the love I was talking about was more of a fierce protectiveness, closely related to fear, but I didn't know that then, because I didn't have the love I feel now to compare it to. She told me that the amount of weight I'd lost since the birth--twenty-eight pounds--was a red flag. She asked if I was eating, and I hated having to say no. I couldn't eat, not without gagging. I knew I needed to eat, especially given the surgery and blood loss I was recovering from, not to mention the fact that I was desperately trying to breastfeed. But I could not for the life of me eat. To say I had no appetite would be an understatement. This was new to me. My dad called me the human garbage disposal growing up, and not much has changed in that regard. The nurse asked how I was doing emotionally, if I was crying a lot. Um, yes, I was crying a lot. A LOT. I didn't exactly tell her this, although I did admit to being emotional. I told her, feebly, that I'd read that baby blues could last up to two weeks, and I pointed out somewhat desperately that I wasn't quite to the end of those two weeks yet. She stared at me silently, straight through my skull, and I stared back, aware that my eyes weren't able to hide the fear and panic that had me in their grip. I was hardly breathing, trying to keep from crying or showing any sign that I might be about to cry. She told me how important it was to catch PPD early, and encouraged me to call back the following week if I wasn't feeling better. I thanked her in as cheerful a manner as I could fake, and made it halfway across the waiting room to TJ (and tiny E) before starting to sob.

To this day I can't say for sure if I had PPD. I suppose I didn't, technically, because things did start to turn around after the two-week mark passed, but I also feel certain that what I experienced was not just the baby blues. I believe I looked PPD in the eye and ultimately escaped it for various reasons. I'll never forget the way it felt, the way the hours and days stretched ahead of me like a death sentence. The way I couldn't sleep even though I was far, far past the point of total exhaustion. I've never felt so unlike myself, so incapable, so fearful. I remember telling TJ day after day that something was wrong with me, that I knew this was not normal, that I could not go on like this. I have such sympathy for anyone who's felt this way for months on end. I can't imagine. Those two weeks were an eternity.

I remember when I got myself back (however minimally). It was Monday; E was fifteen days old. Fifteen days: it sounds like nothing now. A blip of time. But it felt, and feels, so much more significant than that. Following a talk with my parents and TJ the night before, I realized the next day, Monday, that the dark, dark veil had been lifted from my eyes overnight, and some measure of equilibrium seemed to have been restored in the immediate world. I was still exhausted and weak and overwhelmed, but I didn't feel mentally ill. I could see the top of the mountain. I could see my perfect boy, and I was nursing him and he was finally starting to latch on, and I was saved.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Poor Toothy Dada, Tired Grouchy Mama

TJ's doing really well. He hasn't had any paid medication since Thursday night, after he threw up (I gave him an anti-nausea pill after that). His stomach was funky last night as well, probably from the antibiotic. His mouth is achy and a bit swollen, but overall he's doing amazingly. He's actually worked quite a bit yesterday and today, which I found a bit irritating, to be honest. I mean, if you're well enough to work, you're well enough to help with the baby. Right? I've been on solo baby duty pretty much since he left for Fargo the Friday before last, and I'm not going to lie: I'm tired and a bit burned out. Today I was bothered by the fact that all the Eamon-related duties seem to fall to me by default lately. If I get a break, it's a black and white thing. For instance, TJ will watch him specifically so I can get dressed or check email. It feels very regimented and constrained. But if we're all together, I'm the one entertaining, supervising, feeding, changing, doing naptime, and so on, while TJ sits back and relaxes. On the one hand, I don't care. I'm used to it, and I love being with Eamon. But on the other hand, Mama could use some help, and she doesn't always want to have to ask.

But we had a talk about this stuff today, and it was good. I know I'm being a bit of a hardass. I mean, the guy just had four teeth yanked out of his head two days ago. And he's usually wonderfully involved in Eamon tasks. He gets up with him in the morning (after I nurse him) and feeds him breakfast and does kitchen stuff while I do my thing upstairs, and he bathes him at night and reads to him. And there's other stuff. It's just the past couple of weeks that I've been doing it ALL, and that brought us to today. I also know that part of my issue has to do with needing to be seen and appreciated (both when it comes to childcare and also when it comes to housekeeping, which I'm constantly doing).

Oh, did I mention that I have a touch of the ol' PMS? At least I think I do. Lovely.

Go, go, go, and a DVD player

Yesterday morning E and I met a high school friend of mine and her 16-month-old daughter at the Children's Museum. We'd planned to meet at Zilker Park, but it was too cold out. Neither of us had been to the museum, so it was the perfect place to meet, although it made for a very high energy outing. Little Alayna had her arms wrapped around her mom's leg, looking all around, or she'd hold her mom's hand while tentatively exploring the loud, crowded room. Even when she went off by herself, she never strayed far from her mama. My guy, on the other hand (who's two months younger), was a whirling dervish. He never stopped moving; he walked anywhere and everywhere, eyes wide, arms and legs pumping, smiling and waving at any stranger who caught his eye. Off he'd go across the room, into the next room, down a hallway, up a ramp, back down the ramp, etc. He never looked back. Anytime I picked him up to move him back to a central location, he threw his arms up in the air and arched his back. He had places to go! It was amazing to see the difference in Alayna and E's personalities. Alayna is such a sweet girl. I just kept staring at her, watching her take it all in, observing the intimate way she communicated with her mom. Part of me is full of pride that my boy is often so confident and secure and outgoing (he's not always, but in this setting he was). I love his energy and his drive and the fountain of happiness that pours out of him when he bonds with someone he's just met. But I have to say that I've noticed it's a lot more work keeping up with a guy like E! Or maybe that's not a fair thing to say. I guess what I mean is that it takes a different kind of energy. He keeps me on my toes, this one. It's been incredible seeing how much he's changed just in the past month. The number of pictures I took of him last month dropped dramatically, and I think that's directly related to the fact that he's always moving, and I'm always moving with him or after him or trying to keep up with the trail of destruction he leaves in his wake. I've also noticed that I almost never talk on the phone anymore.

Given his need for motion and his aversion to being held or contained for long, TJ and I have started to dread and worry about the upcoming plane rides to and from Pennsylvania. We plan to buy some new toys to introduce on the plane, but we both know that's not going to cut it. So, today we bit the bullet and bought a portable DVD player. I know, I know. And who knows if it will even hold E's attention. We don't let him watch tv at home, but we're going to make an exception for these plane rides and hope it buys us some time. I suppose it will be good to have in the arsenal, especially if we encounter horrible delays as we have in the past over Christmas. (I cannot imagine.) TJ, by the way, began geeking out the minute we got the DVD player home. He'll be able to take it with him when he travels for work, which is nice, and it can also act as our home DVD player (it hooks up to a TV) when the crappy used one we bought six years ago on EBay finally dies.

Friday, December 5, 2008

A Banner Day for Personal Upkeep

Started this earlier in the week . . .

Tuesday was a good day. E did well at co-op, and I spent an hour shopping at Book People and Whole Foods while he was there (and still got back a half hour early in case he was getting tired). That hour of shopping did wonders for me. I can't recall the last time I felt so light and inner focused, yet connected to the larger world, just wandering around, looking at books, picking out a new desk calendar, looking for a birthday gift for someone. Then at Whole Foods, I found a waxing kit. Up until now, I've driven to a salon all the way in South Austin to get a bikini wax every, oh, two months or more. When E was little I just took him with me, but then he became too mobile, and since then it's turned into this big hairy deal (groan, the pun; totally not intended), whereby I have to go on a Saturday and have TJ look after E, etc. And it costs close to $40 with tip. I haven't been in months (oh dear), and it's an important ritual for me. It gives me a boost of confidence and leaves me feeling human and kept up. I wish I could just shave, but that doesn't work for me--my skin doesn't handle it well. Anyway. I bought a waxing kit for $11.99, and it worked beautifully. It was positively liberating to take control over this matter of personal hygiene, to no longer have to rearrange my schedule and shell out a chunk of money to have someone else do this intimate and unpleasant task. Now I can do it myself, at home, anytime I need to.

Later Tuesday evening, after I put E down, I went to the outlets to return some shoes I'd gotten him that he refused to walk in, and while I was there it occurred to me that I should buy some new bras. I've mostly still been wearing my yellowed, ratty nursing bras. They're C cups (or B? I can't remember), and my now shrunken breasts swim in the soft fabric cups. It looks gross, and I'm not getting any support. My old bras are mostly padded, and they appear to be too large now as well--I'm smaller than I was before I got pregnant. I wonder if this is common? I discovered Tuesday night that I'm not even an A anymore, which surprised me. When I stare at myself in the mirror, I don't even recognize my chest. My breasts look sad and used up, to be frank. That said, I'm trying to embrace their new smallness. With the help of a kind salesperson, I found three bras, all on sale, very plain (not much to choose from), but they have a wonderfully close fit and it felt good to take care of myself in this way. I highly recommend it--not always neglecting yourself. Even if you're tired and you don't feel like going out at night (which is how I always feel), just do it every now and then. Now that I've done it once, I plan to do it again . . . after I neglect something else for a few months, of course.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

What a Day

I started this earlier today.

TJ had four teeth extracted this morning. He had bone grafts on three of the sockets, which I only mention because it sounds so hardcore to me. In any case, we'd both been dreading this day, and I'd been stressing out about the childcare aspect of it. I had a hard time finding a sitter, but everything worked out at the last minute. E had a great time with Kat, who he's met several times before. She takes care of another baby in our '07 group. She stayed after I brought TJ home so I could go fill his numerous prescriptions and get him medicated before the numbness wore off.

He's now in bed with an ice pack, and Eamon is starting to stir from his nap. I think I'll take him to a park this afternoon since he hasn't been out today yet.

I didn't get much sleep last night (maybe four hours), but I've been in a kind of manic overdrive all day, so it hasn't mattered. I plan to make some potato leek soup after E's in bed. Last night was very windy--a cold front moved in--and our bedroom wall was creaking this horrible creak that never fails to drive me insane. Sometime after midnight I moved into the guest room/my office and slept fitfully in there until E woke up . . . at 5:15. I let TJ sleep in until after 8:00 because he wasn't supposed to have any food or liquid before his appointment, and I figured sleeping in would make that easier. It made for a helluva long morning for me and E, though.

It's sad seeing TJ in the position of "patient." That's a category I've been in many times in our relationship, but the tables have rarely (never, in fact) been turned. I went back with him for the pre-op stuff this morning, and it was unsettling to see the big guy laying there with tubes coming out every which way and a mask on his face. Vulnerable. I'm glad we're all home now. E and I are going to pick up Luby's for dinner. It's close by, and they have lots of soft foods that TJ can eat. Hopefully the next forty-eight hours will go by quickly.

One thing I've discovered is that being the caretaker is much preferable to being the patient. That's obvious, but has never felt so obvious to me. It sucks being the one who is in pain, who has to rest, who's doped up and out of it, who can't eat certain things, etc., while those around you are chowing down on burritos or enjoying some wine or whatever.

And now it's the evening and time to make that soup. I can't wait for bed.

Monday, December 1, 2008

5 AM Explosion of Poo

We were all up at 5:00 this morning dealing with the poo to end all poos. (Actually, I'm sure we're in for worse down the road, but this was pretty insane.) It covered E's back all the way to the top, and then went down his arms part way. This is the third morning he's woken up in the 5:00 range with a nasty, nasty poo. After a bath and much nursing and rocking, he went back to sleep (miracle!) from 6:20 to 7:15. He had diarrhea later in the morning. He's had diarrhea for days, and I do still believe it's teething related. But the poor boy. I cannot keep giving him Tylenol and Motrin at this rate.

p.s. TJ's home!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Love at the end of a long weekend

We had an unexpectedly lovely end to the evening tonight. Nothing special happened, we just ended up spending quite awhile stacking blocks together before bathtime. The house was quiet and still. I sat there watching my boy concentrate as hard as he could, holding his breath as he focused on gingerly setting one more block atop an already teetering tower of blocks. Later, in the bath, I marveled anew at the sweetness of his body, his round belly (which he pats vigorously with both hands whenever his shirt is off) and the soft fuzz that trails down his back. There is nothing more precious to me than that little body. Nothing.

My guys


Friday, November 21

Swinging at Shipe while Dada flew to Fargo the day after Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Recap

We spent Thanksgiving in Wimberley with my grandmother and uncle and his family. It was a nice enough day, though exhausting with E. TJ left for a wedding in Grand Forks, North Dakota, early Friday morning. He gets back tonight around midnight (unless there are delays in Denver, in which case he won't get home until tomorrow). We've stayed as busy as possible the past three days, but there's still been lots of time to kill. E's teething woes continue. He's had diarrhea every day, and his little bum hurts and is quite red. He's had a hard time staying happy for more than a few minutes at a time.

On Friday my mom and stepdad and sisters stopped by on their way to Wimberley. My sister Lauren hadn't seen E since he was three months old. He put on quite a show for them--going from one skill to the next (stacking blocks, rolling balls, spinning tops, and so on) and clapping and smiling and giving big hugs. It was adorable, and they were all beside themselves at the insane cuteness. We all went out for coffee and then they left to go on to Wimberley from there.

Saturday morning we went over to Catherine and Shannon's for breakfast. It was Catherine's birthday. Shannon's sister and niece were in town visiting from CA, so we saw them too. I was excited to give Catherine her gifts: We got her an immersion blender (we recently got one as well), and I made her a word bouquet using a pretty little brown vase and strips of card stock. I had her family and friends send me at least ten things that they love and admire about her, so there were around eighty strips when all was said and done. E was having a very hard time yesterday morning, and I would've liked to present it to her in a more ideal setting, but that wasn't to be. In any case, she cried and seemed very touched, and I was glad. We left soon after that, and then the babysitter came in the afternoon and I drove down to San Marcos for my mom's concert, which went well. I longed to spend more time with my sisters, who both live in New York and who I rarely see together, but I felt like I needed to get home. After the performance, I took the girls to get coffee and we talked for a few minutes before I hit the road. They're funny, those two. More about them later (I hope).

This morning my mom and stepdad stopped by on their way out of town (after dropping my sisters at the airport), and we went to breakfast, then E and I went to church. After he wakes up from his nap I'm going to take him to the outlet mall to get some shoes. The one pair he has are falling apart. I traced his feet earlier, so hopefully that will make the outing less painful.

Wow. This is the driest, most boring post ever. Guess that's all I've got in me right now. And it's just as well, because I hear the monkey stirring.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


One of my fellow Austin Mama co-op moms, Cheri, took this picture today. She's a photographer. Those are some gigantic front teeth, huh?

Miserable Night and an Explosion of Poo

Last night was horrific. It's been a long time since we've had a night like that. Nursing was the one and only thing that soothed him. I nursed and nursed and nursed. If he wasn't nursing he was screaming hysterically, didn't want to be rocked, didn't want to be held, didn't want to be in his bed or anywhere. And this was with Motrin. I think he's gotta be working on several teeth at once. Poor monkey.

He hung in at co-op this morning, thanks to the brilliant suggestion by one of the moms that we should have an Ergo on hand at co-op every week. One of the moms on duty today wore him and he fell asleep for ten or fifteen minutes and awoke a new man.

He was fussy and clingy and irritable the rest of the day, though he took a good nap, and then right before supper I looked over and saw what turned out to be poo streaking down the back legs of his pants. I carried him upstairs and peeled off his poo-stained socks and clothes to reveal a blowout of epic proportions. Really, it was staggering. Shit was immediately, inexplicably everywhere. On my hands and arms, my shirt and pants, his hands (and not just a little on his hands), all over the changing table, of course, and covering his body. I put him in the bath just like that, and then he ran around naked while I cleaned the tub before putting him back in. The cloth diaper he had on is still in the toilet. TJ heard the water running (or maybe he heard me freaking out), and he came upstairs to help after he got of the phone (it was around 5:30). I was thanking my lucky stars that he works from home.

So anyway, it was something else. We haven't experienced diarrhea as a symptom of teething before now. (At least I'm assuming that's what was going on.)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

First Sitter

We used our first paid babysitter this afternoon, and it went very well. She was here from 2:00 until 5:45. Eamon already knows her because she works in the nursery at the church. (I wonder if one day I can mention church in passing like this without cringing or feeling the need to justify. What can I say, I've been scarred by some crazy ass believers in the past who've made church seem like a bad word.) Anyway, we went to see the new James Bond movie this afternoon, and then to the RR Outlets where we bought E a heavy winter coat for Christmas in PA and a much less heavy coat for winter in TX, as well as a couple of long-sleeved shirts and some socks. We struck out in our search for shoes for him.

I'm relieved that today went well with the sitter, Sunny, because she's coming back next Saturday so that I can go to my mom's concert in San Marcos that afternoon. (TJ will be out of town.)

I still haven't found someone to watch E on December 4 when TJ is getting four teeth pulled. He'll be under general anesthesia for the first time in his life, and I'll need to be there with him in recovery before bringing him home and tending to him here for the rest of the day. I can leave Eamon for an hour or two at a friend's house that morning (with their toddler and nanny), but I know E won't do well there for long, and he'll need to come home for lunch and naptime anyway. In any case, I have a couple of other leads to follow up; hopefully one of them will work out. I'd ask my stepmom to take a day off of work, but she's already missed too many days. Incidentally, I'm completely freaked out about these extractions and concerned about how TJ will do with the anesthesia. It frightens me to think of the pain he'll be in. I hate this shit!

I realize I haven't been blogging much, by the way. There are some things I'd like to blog about, but I haven't for various reasons. Maybe after Thanksgiving, possibly before.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Happy Birthday to Dada

It's TJ's birthday today. He's an ancient 38.

We're all three wearing the shirts he got us at Skywalker Ranch (George Lucas's compound) when he was in CA. He had to go to the ranch for work (did I mention this already?) and apparently it's amazing. Anyway, yep, all wearing the shirts today. Luckily, they aren't the same shirt. But still. Dorks.

Yesterday as we pulled around the corner of our street to come home, E started shouting, "Da-da-da! Da-da! Da-da-da!" He definitely knows who Dada is.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Sixth Tooth, Hanging with Renee, "Dada"

Eamon has a sixth tooth in and we didn't even know it. TJ spotted it this morning; it's in the back on the bottom. Not completely in yet, but not brand-new, either. I think he's working on another (or more) right now as well, though his nighttime sleep hasn't been interrupted, thankfully. He's a champ.

This afternoon we're taking him over to Shannon's mom's house and she's going to babysit him while we go to a movie (or do some Christmas shopping, depending on how things time out). We've never left him in a situation quite like this before--in a new place with someone he's not familiar with, so we'll see how it goes. Renee (Shannon's mom) seemed to really want to babysit him, which is how this came about. I suspect he'll be fine, especially because she has a little white dog named Lola who he's going to LOVE, and because Renee will be very attentive to him. I just hope he does well and doesn't get upset.

He's added "Dada" to his repertoire in the past few days and clearly understands what it means, though he doesn't have complete control over it yet. "Dada" joins "ball" and "ga-ga," which originally meant "Gracie" (Shannon and Catherine's dog) but has now apparently come to signify all animals, including Squeaky.

Monday, November 10, 2008

This and That

We stayed at Catherine and Shannon's house for three nights last week, including election night. It sure was nice to have their company. Catherine cooked dinner for us all and Eamon got a chance to spend time with his beloved aunties and their dog, Gracie, who he's nuts for. E did wonderfully at night--he slept through and never woke before 6:00, even with the time change. I was in a funk for much of the week, but grateful to be spending time with my bffs.

Catherine took this picture of us at Zilker Park last Wednesday afternoon.


We picked TJ up at the airport Friday evening, oh happy day. What a relief to have him home. I finally slept well that night.

On Saturday evening I drove to San Antonio to have dinner with two of my college English professors, who were in town for a conference. They were the same as ever, brilliant and kind and unique and beautiful. I hadn't seen either of them in years, and I've been doing a lot of thinking since then.

Saturday afternoon TJ and E went to check the mail (we have a neighborhood bank of mailboxes around the corner), and TJ accidentally left his keys on top of the mailboxes. Some guy we've never met found them and apparently deduced which house was ours by the types of car keys on the key ring. At 6:30 on Sunday morning, he rang the doorbell (which we didn't hear) and then came into our house while we slept to return the keys. Um, creepy! He left them on the floor in an envelope with a very odd note. At my insistence, we have since had the locks changed and an alarm system installed. Better to be safe than sorry. And it will give me peace of mind when TJ's away, as he will be in two weeks.

On Sunday, Catherine and Shannon came over and babysat E while TJ and I had brunch at the Eastside Cafe (using a gift certificate they'd given us for E's birthday to celebrate our first year as parents--aren't they the best?).

What else . . .
We've had some difficulty with co-op the past couple of weeks, but hopefully things will be better from here on out.

Seems like I had a lot more to catch up on, but I think I'll leave it at this for now. This week has been busy, and my to-do list is seemingly neverending. That time of year, I think.

p.s. I'm completely, madly, desperately in love with my son right now. I don't know if I've mentioned on here that recently I was bemoaning the fact that he's not a cuddler, but in any case, he's been proving me wrong the past few weeks. Snuggly guy. Full of love. Can't get enough (me, that is). I remember wishing I could bottle him up at seven months, but this age kicks ass, even with the emerging tantrums and food throwing and infinitely soft, infinitely stinky poos. He's walking, he's starting to talk, he's discovering, he's expressing himself, he's responding to language, he's sleeping well. I can hardly believe this little guy is real.

I should also probably mention that the stuff with my family is resolved, or as resolved as it can be, and we're all moving forward as best we can. I think we'll be seeing my parents sometime soon. They are desperate to see E (they've yet to see him walk), and I want him to see his Grandma and Pops as well.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

It really happened. Are you pinching yourself like I am?!

President-Elect Obama.
The moment when he and his family walked out on stage last night will stay with me forever.
Beautiful.
Hopeful.
Change.
Finally.
Maybe eight years of Bush was worth it to get to this point. Is that possible?

More later . . . no time now.

Monday, November 3, 2008

It's gotta go to Obama, right?

Tell me there's no way McCain's gonna win this.
I'm suddenly very scared, listening to the news.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Out of Sorts

Things started feeling weird around 3:30. For one thing, the time change suddenly became very noticeable. It felt more like 5:30. But it wasn't. Luckily, I had the Triangle outing in mind, and it turned out to be just the thing. I turned the fountain on (there weren't any other kids there) and E played in the water cautiously for the few minutes it was on, but he was really more interested in throwing his balls across the bricklaid ground and crawling after them. We also played in the grass and watched dogs for a while. He had a blast, and was on the move constantly the whole time we were there. I was gratified thinking of all the energy he was getting out. Here are a couple of pictures I took to send TJ. I also took a video that I find hilarious but that I think would be too boring to most people to post.


Now I'm sitting in what feels like a cavernously empty house and trying not to feel too strange. I usually love the rare night I get to myself at home, but tonight isn't one of those nights. TJ's presence makes this place feel so warm and full and balanced; without him there's a gaping hole. This isn't news to me, but I'm acutely aware of it tonight, I think partly because of the distance I feel from my family. And because we've been so content at home lately in our routines with E, and so delighted by him. Every night, without fail, we end up talking about how funny he is, how beautiful, how crazy--freaking crazy--we are about him. I always go in before bed and put a hand on him to feel him breathing, and when I come back to our room TJ asks me what position he was in, and I tell him, and then we talk about how insanely cute it is, whether he was on his back or his side or whatever. It's all insanely cute.

TJ might as well be on another planet right now from where I sit. He's in San Francisco with good friends who are also his business partners, and his brother is there, too, on business, and some other friends he used to work with in DC. He's staying in a nice hotel, is out to dinner tonight, and has plans every night. I can't really imagine, and it doesn't sound like we'll get to talk all that much. But I'm looking forward to spending time with Catherine and Shannon, and to other things like getting to the bottom of the laundry hamper and having it stay that way for longer than a day.

Not So Bad

Today has been better so far than I expected. I think it was good that we took TJ to the airport; I don't know why, but it feels a lot better than saying good-bye to him at home. This was the first time we've done that; it would've been a waste of money to pay for parking for six days, obviously.

We came home and had a snack and played and then went to church, where I had a hard time staying focused. I picked E up from the nursery before the service ended (since it was way past lunch and naptime on his clock) and we came home to eat. Now he's napping. He's been teething with a vengeance for the past day and a half, so I gave him some Tylenol before putting him down because he was chewing on his hands nonstop, drooling, and has a runny nose.

I have to admit I'm stressed about how the nights will go away from home (mainly because of the teething and our dependence on rocking and the fact that we don't nurse at night anymore, although I'm sure I'll end up doing exactly that). Last night he was up from 3:30 to 4:30. I rocked him twice and TJ once; in between there was hysterical crying. Anyway, I guess we'll see. The good thing is that after he finally stayed down he slept until 6:30 (7:30 according to the old time). Whew.

Last night we went to dinner at Mandola's at the Triangle, and saw the fountain they have there. It's way better than the one at the Domain, and I plan on taking E back to play in it later this afternoon. He desperately wanted to last night, but we just weren't equipped to deal with a soaking wet boy. I was happy to discover something new that we could come back to today.

You'd think TJ was going off to Iraq for a year from the way I've been dreading this trip. It's ridiculous, really. I tend to get anxious about things like this, sometimes more and sometimes less. Now that it's started, I feel almost relieved, and today has been nice in a way. I knew it would be a solitary day, and I guess my mood adapted. Eamon plays so well by himself now, and I've just been doing some housework and laundry and playing with him in between as usual.

It's becoming more and more clear that he's saying the word "ball." When he says it, it sounds more like "buh," but he says it when looking at his toy balls and when he's holding them (which is pretty much 24/7). He is a funny, funny guy.

I can't believe the election is only two days away. God! I think I'd be obsessing about it more if this weren't such an unusual week for us and I wasn't already so preoccupied. But it's incredibly exciting and incredibly nerve-wracking, and I just pray it's a landslide. It really does feel like Obama is our country's only hope, to the point that it might as well be written in the stars. If only that's true.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Pffffft

I'm so depressed that TJ's going out of town. We're taking him to the airport at 8:30 tomorrow morning. The fact that it's a Sunday feels worse to me for some reason. We have plenty of things planned to keep us occupied over the next week while he's gone, but tomorrow will be a long day, and I know it's going to be an exhausting week. Oh well. Sorry for the pity party.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Some Stuff from Today

We baked a spinach and ricotta pie last night that '07 mama Beth recommended (it's from the Moosewood Cookbook). I fed it to E for lunch today and he LOVED it. I'm so pleased.

We went back to the Children's Research Lab at UT this morning to participate in another study. This one was about music and involved E sitting on my lap (theoretically) and watching a screen and listening to the same classical melody being played by different instruments. E had more important things to do, though. There was a room to explore and of course we'd arrived with balls in each hand, which needed to be dropped and rolled and recaptured over and over again. We gave it a go three times before giving up. I can't say I blame him--the music they were playing wasn't turned up very loudly, and it was boring, at least for a thirteen-month-old who's used to rocking out to Laurie Berkner and the Biscuit Brothers and Putumayo's African Dreamland cd.

On our way there, we got pulled over on the highway. I can't remember the last time I was pulled over. I was shocked to discover that our inspection on the VW had been due in May. May! How in the world we missed that, I have no idea. The police officer was nice, which is a rarity in my experience. In any case, after UT, we went and had the car inspected.

Later this afternoon we have our playdate with Kay and Jonas. We're at their house this week. I'm looking forward to it, especially because it's such a beautiful day. Hopefully we can spend some time outside. They have a lovely backyard.

TJ leaves on Sunday for six days, five nights--right when Daylight Saving Time hits, which means E will be waking up an hour earlier than usual. Brutal. I meant to start adjusting his schedule slowly, but that hasn't worked out very well. We're going to stay with Catherine and Shannon for three nights next week, so that'll be nice.

As for the situation with my family, I was able to get in to see my childhood therapist, Susan, last week. I saw her from age 9 to 18 and I adore her. It was such a relief to be able to talk to her, especially because she already knows my family background. She advised me on how to proceed and validated a lot of what I've been feeling. I wrote my parents a letter on Sunday night. I haven't heard back from them yet. My stomach is constantly in knots, but part of me does feel better having written them. I have no idea how they'll respond or what the future looks like for all of us. Susan suggested that I keep some distance for a while, and that's my inclination as well, but it makes me so sad at the same time.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Eamon, after you went to bed tonight, we carved a couple of pumpkins.
The one on the right reminds us of you. Something about the mouth . . .

Balls, Balls, Balls


E is addicted to these balls. He carries one in each hand everywhere he goes. Occasionally one will get away and he'll go crawling after it with the other one still clutched in his hand. Crawl, thunk, crawl, thunk, crawl, thunk. He's like a pirate with a wooden leg.

We have a game we play in the living room where we station ourselves at opposite ends of the coffee table and roll the balls back and forth to each other. He always catches the balls (which he finds hilarious), and he does a fairly good job at rolling them back to me. Pretty impressive, if you ask me.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Brrrrr (Finally), and Voting



We went to Zilker Park this morning and then in the afternoon TJ came with us to vote. I have to say it felt pretty great to cast a vote for Barack Obama. Got me all teary.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Paging All Budding Walkers


From his reaction, you'd think this was his first encounter with the paging feature on the phone, but it's more like the hundredth. Playing with the home phone is his number one favorite game these days. We're surprised the phone has hung on this long for all the abuse it takes.

TJ took this video early this morning when he was up with E.

Upside Down

We had a lovely time on Saturday at Catherine and Shannon’s house blessing, and we hung out for a while afterwards with C & S and S’s mom. We stayed past E’s bedtime, and when we got home it was dark and there was a car parked outside of our house. Turns out my parents had driven up from San Antonio and were waiting for us to get home. We weren’t expecting this at all (they hadn't called to tell us they were coming or to ask if it was a good time) and my stomach was turning somersaults as I got E ready for bed, nursed him, put him down, fed Squeaky, etc. (TJ was entertaining my folks while I did all this.) I knew as soon as I saw them that they had come to tell us about what was going on with Gwen’s family. Whatever it was seemed to have something to do with our family as well.

After scrambling to finish the evening chores and trying to get my head around the surprise of them showing up like that, TJ and I sat down with them and they proceeded to tell us what was going on. The conversation that followed was more awful than I can describe. We didn’t fight—it wasn’t like that--and besides, I was in shock and have only slowly begun to process what happened. It was just terrible. I’m sorry to have to be so vague, but this stuff is not for blogs.

I’m trying to figure out where to go from here and how to move forward. I fear that my family will never be the same, and I question my parents’ handling of the situation (to put it mildly). I’m trying to get in to see a counselor as soon as possible so that I can get an objective, professional opinion on how to respond and deal with what I'm feeling. In the meantime, I’m sort of clinging to TJ and Eamon for dear life. I’m so grateful to have them. And thank God tomorrow night is the night I’m going over to Catherine and Shannon’s for one of our girls' dinners. They have already been so supportive, of course. I think we’ll be spending Thanksgiving with them this year instead of with my family.

So . . . just sitting here, sad and anxious and angry and thinking what a relief it is to have E to take care of and laugh with and love in the midst of something like this.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Status Report: Twelve Months

It's amazing that twelve months ago, give or take, E looked like this.

And here he is today, a big standing guy.

I took him to his twelve-month check-up this morning (he turned one on September 30). He weighed 24 pounds 11 ounces and measured 30 inches tall. Those measurements apparently fall in the 60th to 75th percentile range, and his head circumference landed around the 80th percentile.

In the waiting room, I noticed something in his hair that I thought was dried food or snot at first, only to discover that he has cradle cap on the top of his head. For some reason, uncovering the peeling, flaky, orangey expanse of dry scalp hidden under his sweet blond locks gave me the willies. The timing of the discovery couldn't have been more perfect, though. The doc told us some stuff to do, so we'll see if it works.

I only had a couple of questions going in. The first had to do with whether I might be raising a Motrin addict. I just feel like I'm constantly doling out the Motrin. The doc said once a day is okay when it's needed, and giving it a break every now and then is a good thing. Our Motrin use runs in spurts, so I was relieved to hear this. E's fifth tooth is in as of yesterday or the day before, so that was cool to see.

My other question had to do with food (surprise, surprise, toddlerhood). I haven't had a chance to post about it, but I just don't feel like we've got the food thing down. It seems like Eamon eats the same four meals (actually more like two now) over and over again, and in the meantime he's getting pickier and pickier. (So predictable, I know.) He flat-out refuses to feed himself fruits or vegetables. He won't touch them; the texture freaks him out. We're still able to feed him some veggies and fruit out of jars in between bites of regular food, but I don't expect that to last much longer. Right now, the main meals he eats are peanut butter & jelly sandwiches with Pirate's Booty and black bean & cheese quesadillas (and this week we thought to add spinach--and he ate it!). He used to eat tortilla with hummus, but now he won't touch hummus. Last night I couldn't bear to give him another quesadilla, so I tried heating up leftovers from our dinner the night before: baked pesto chicken and rice and peas. He surprised me by going nuts over the chicken, and he spit the rice and peas out. (He used to just refuse things; now he spits them out.) I was ecstatic over the chicken. Up until now he wouldn't eat chicken. He's also stopped eating avocado and bananas. He loves cubed cheese and cottage cheese; he's a dairy man in general. Frozen veggie burgers used to be popular: no mas. We've gotta find some other things that he'll eat, although the doc said not to worry about this stuff. He said E's sensitivity to texture is completely normal and that on average toddlers only eat one spoonful of food per meal, and then every seventh meal or so they eat a ton. Worrying about it will just make you neurotic, he said. I didn't tell him I already had that covered.

It would probably be best to all eat together, and to feed him whatever we're eating, but I just don't see that happening right now. He eats at 5:30 or 6:00, and there's just no way we can have dinner ready by then. Maybe at some point.

While I'm at it, here's a (hopefully quick) rundown on life with E as of late. On average, he goes down at 7 p.m. and wakes up at 6 a.m. (today it was 5:00, woohoo). We haven't had any night wakings in awhile, not since we cut out that one feeding. Actually, that's not completely true. He often wakes up once or twice between 7:00 and 11:00. Frequently, he puts himself back to sleep without us having to go in, but if he wakes up more than twice, it's usually because he's teething, and at that point I give him Motrin and rock him for a song or two. He goes down for his nap between noon and 1:00 and is usually up by 2:00. He often sleeps for an hour and a half, sometimes an hour or less, and sometimes (more rarely) for two hours.

He nurses three times a day: morning, before nap, and before bed. He's had a runny nose for the past week and has sometimes been too congested to nurse before nap, so on those days he's nursed after nap, and hasn't had a problem going down for his nap without nursing. I'm toying with the idea of cutting out the midday nursing, or rather seeing what happens if I don't offer it. There are days he wants to nurse for comfort, and I oblige. This happens maybe once a week. It happened last week in the middle of our playdate with Kay and Jonas. He came over to me and asked to nurse by moaning and leaning into me and grabbing at my shirt and biting/sucking on my arm. He nursed for a few minutes and then pulled off and resumed playing with Jonas, as though all was right in the world again.

He's starting to take steps but isn't walking yet. He spends a lot of time going from sitting to standing without holding on to anything, and then he stands and balances and grins and bounces and squeals and claps. We've noticed that he understands certain things we say: "Are you ready to go?" "Where's Squeaky?" That kind of thing. It's an amazing feeling to see him start to comprehend language.

In the past week he's learned how to hold his sippy cup by himself, and he seems to be enjoying the independence this offers. We now put his cup on his highchair tray during meals, and he stops eating very frequently to drink, which I find hilarious.

He loves social outings and is no shrinking violet. This is a constant source of wonder and discovery for me--watching him with other people, seeing the energy and happiness he gets from connecting with adults, bigger kids, and to a lesser (or different) extent, other babies. He thrives on it. He feels such joy, he could just burst.

This past Tuesday was my first time working at the co-op, and it was fascinating for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was seeing E's response to my taking care of other babies. One baby had a hard time when his mama left, and he needed to be held for a while. Eamon did not like that one bit. In fact, the other mom on duty had to comfort him while I was holding the other baby. It cracked me up because it seemed so unlike E (at least to date; then again we've never been in this situation before). A similar thing happened when I changed another boy's poopy diaper. E crawled over and clung to my leg, moaning dramatically the whole time. It was pretty funny.

It's amazing how intense and exhausting two hours with a group of little ones can be. I had a good time getting to know the other five babes better. They are all so different (natch), and so funny and sweet. The ages range from 12 months (E) to 17 months. This whole co-op thing rocks, I must say.

Well, I started this post during naptime today, and now it's evening and time to wind things down. Maybe I'll add a few more things tomorrow (as if this post weren't long enough).

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

So what that my hair's a frizzy disaster: It's raining!

Seems like we've had quite a bit of rain over the past couple of days. It's wonderful, despite how sticky and humid everything is. I'm positively salivating at the thought of the cooler air that's supposedly coming behind the rain.

I had a whole list of things to post about, but it looks like I waited too long to start. E's awake. He napped for an hour and a half, which happens quite often these days. I'll take it.

More later, perhaps . . .

Monday, October 13, 2008

First Steps?!?! And a visit from Uncle Angus.

Yep, E took his first steps tonight! I hesitate to say so because it happened only once and it was right before he had his bath and went to bed (so it feels like we imagined it), but TJ and I were both standing right there, and he took three whole steps before sitting down. It was a bit like when he started crawling; it just happened. Pretty cool. (I am insanely excited and can't really say why; just a proud mama.) He seemed tickled as well, and started clapping his hands as soon as he sat down from taking the steps. I can't wait to see what happens tomorrow. I hope I can get it on video; we tried tonight but no dice.

In other news today, my little brother called this morning (he had the day off from school) and he had some time to kill between dentist/orthodontist appointments, so he came up here to hang out with us for a few hours. It was completely unexpected and wonderful. It meant a lot, because he's busy with his senior year of high school and we don't see him much. So it was fun, and TJ made us all lunch and hung out with us some too.

I found out from Angus today, and from subsequent conversations with my parents (dad and stepmom), that some weird stuff is going on with my stepmom's family. I don't know what it is yet; my parents want to wait to tell us (me and TJ and my siblings) until we're face to face. Scary. I've been very worried about Gwen lately but haven't had a chance to post about it. My stomach is in knots now, but I don't know how long it will be until we find out what's going on, so I'm going to just try not to think about it.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

New Park, Almost Walking



We checked out a new park today. Not sure what it's called, but it's behind the new stores off 51st Street near Mueller. It's schmancy, but lacks shade. What happened to the slightly cooler weather we'd been having? Sigh.

We aren't sure, but it seems like Eamon is getting close to walking. He's clearly thinking about it a great deal, and today he took a single step a couple of times. He also stood up (without holding on to anything) about a hundred times in a row. Hmmm. We shall see.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Stuffy Noses, Retiring to Vermont

Eamon and I have allergies. At least I think that's what it is. I was miserably congested last night, and E is sporting a snot nose. More crusty than runny. (Sorry. It sounded so gross, I couldn't resist.) TJ wasn't able to get on an earlier flight after all, so it was after midnight when he got home. I had gone to bed long before after eating ramen at 9:00 p.m. (I was compelled for some reason, gotta love that sodium) and watching Law & Order. For some reason, being all congested made me feel super cozy and autumnal last night, even though I felt crappy at the same time. I took an antihistamine before turning in and it made me deliciously drowsy and out of it.

I'm so happy TJ's home. Hearing him talk about Boston and how stunning and vibrant and alive it is right now had me ready to pack our bags and sell our house. He was stuck at JFK for five hours yesterday and we were fantasizing over the phone about retiring to Vermont . . .

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Home, Jealous, and Daydreaming

We're home after a two-hour drive from San Antonio this morning. (I ended up having to take a different route and it took longer.) E was up the whole time, not happy to be stuck in the car, and he was going through toys at the rate of about one per thirty seconds. (I had a bag of toys next to me and handed them back to him one after another, sang songs, rolled the windows up and down.) It was a long two hours. I was sooooooooooo happy to be home, and so was he. It felt wonderful to come inside and open the windows and be back in our space. He proceeded to play on his own for a good hour or so as I carried all our gear inside and put everything away, started laundry, etc. He's napping now. He has a little bit of a runny nose, and after lunch he broke out in an intense rash on his lower face, something that's never happened to him before. I'm not sure what it's from--food, I assume, but what? I think the runny nose is allergies, which I've realized is what's going on with me as well.

It sounds like TJ has been having the time of his life in New England. He says it's breathtakingly beautiful (they've been in Vermont and New Hampshire mostly), their meetings have been awesome, they've had great dinners in rustic VT homes, and last night they (TJ, his business partner and friend Alice, and two of their clients who sound more like friends) ended up at an open mic night, and he borrowed someone's guitar and played four of his own songs. He (and I, for that matter, but mostly he) used to play at open mic nights in DC, but he hasn't played at one in three or four years. He had a blast. This morning their meeting in Boston was canceled, so when I spoke to him briefly earlier, he and Alice were in Cambridge Square (I think?) looking for a coffee shop. It's been a long time since he visited Boston, and I know it brought back a lot of memories. (He lived there for three years after college.) In any case, he isn't scheduled to land in Austin until midnight, but he just called and said he'd gotten on an earlier flight to New York. So it's possible that he'll get home a couple hours earlier tonight (I hope!), but we'll just have to wait and see.

Is it awful that I'm jealous of all the fun he's been having? I mean, I'm glad he's gotten away a few times over the past six months and had a chance to cut loose and do his own thing, because I think that's important, but, well . . . actually, I think I'll stop here because I'm about to start whining and sounding like a two-year-old. It's just that his description of the last three days sounds like HEAVEN to me. I think I also envy his ability to live in the moment and leave Eamon behind without obsessing and feeling guilty and conflicted. He misses E like crazy, but not to the point that he can't enjoy a few days away from him, whereas in my case, as much as I'd love a weekend away (LOVE, LOVE, LOVE), I hate the thought of leaving Eamon overnight way, way more. It's kinda sick, I suppose. Or maybe not--he's only one, for God's sake. We're still nursing. But anyway, I actually have my sights pinned on my ten-year college reunion next May as a time that I can go off by myself and refuel. I never thought I'd go, and there are certain things about it that don't interest me at all, but I find myself thinking about it at least once a day. Weird. Maybe I should mention that I went to a small liberal arts women's college near the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia. It's one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen, and I was not at all ready to leave when I graduated. I was in love with the place more passionately than I've ever loved anything, I would say (baby and husband aside; it's a different kind of love). So, yeah, I'm looking forward to going back, taking long walks, remembering, reconnecting.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Looking Back to Now

Sitting in my parents' quiet, cluttered house while E naps . . . realizing that I'll look back on this time of our life as pretty damn sweet. Today hasn't been anything special--in fact it's been long and a bit lonely so far--but nevertheless, I have a hunch I'll look back on this time with Eamon with gratitude and nostalgia, and will marvel at the ease of our days together. Even though the days don't always feel easy while we're living them, in the grand scheme of it all, compared to how things could be, easy is exactly what this is.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

All Was Fine, Of Course

I got to the church a half hour early and peeked in the room (the kids were outside playing) and I saw a sheet that had everyone's contact info, so I went and sat in the car for the remainder of the time. Eamon had fun--they said he was easy and mellow and had three helpings at snack time (no surprise there). It's time to get him some shoes, though. I've been meaning to do this, and I've found the ones I want to order (from Etsy), so I think I'll do that now. The mamas on duty mentioned that he needed some for when they go outside, which I hadn't thought of. (E's four months younger than the youngest baby in the co-op, and I think he's the only one who's not walking yet.)

I'm going to order his shoes from here.

Time to fold clothes and get stuff done while he naps . . .

Alone and Feeling Strange

I'm at Central Market right now. Alone. On a weekday morning. How cool is that? It's very cool, but also very odd. Eamon is at the co-op we've just started with a few other '07 Austin Mamas. It meets Tuesday mornings from 9:30 to 11:30. There was a meeting last week where the parents and babies hung out in the playroom (we're renting a room at the UU Church) and discussed logistics, but E had a fever, so we couldn't go. I know I should just be enjoying myself right now, but I feel uneasy, mostly because I'm not sure if today's hosts have my cell phone number. One of the mamas (who's not on duty today) collected contact info and whatnot over email, and I sent mine in, but I don't know if she gave it to today's mamas or what. So I feel nervous, but not nervous enough to drive over there and waste my precious alone time. Is that reckless of me? I think I'll just leave here a bit early. It *is* nice to have a break this morning (it feels crazy!!!!!), especially because TJ is at the airport right now, flying to Boston/Vermont, returning around midnight on Thursday. And I'm getting over a sore throat/cold.

Tomorrow morning E and I are driving to San Antonio to spend the night at my parents' house. I decided to leave first thing in the morning because I think that's the only way to ensure that he naps there in the afternoon. My parents and little brother Angus will get home from work/school around 4:30 or 5:00. They'll only have about two hours of Eamon-time, but I think that'll still be worth the production of going. We'll come back here Thursday morning after stopping by my dad and Angus's school (Alamo Heights), and then Thursday afternoon we have a playdate with Kay and Jonas.

Wow, time is passing very slowly here . . . I hope E is okay. He is, right? I'm sure he is. Maybe I should go over and make sure they have my number. What if he fell and bashed his head open? What would they do?

Squeaky killed her fourth vole this morning. That's right, four in one week. She must've found their nest or whatever it's called. So far we've just been flinging them over the back fence, which seemed fine for the first two, but the image of a bunch of scattered dead voles back there is pretty gross. I'm surprised we can't smell them.

Eamon is getting better and better at stacking blocks. It's pretty cool. He works so hard at it.

In other news, I've been very in love with TJ lately. I'm going to miss him this week.

Well, I've killed just about enough time. Hopefully in the coming weeks I'll be able to enjoy this time and focus on writing or whatever else, and not worry about E. I'm on duty next week, but the week after I'll have off. God bless the co-op!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

E in new pjs from Grandma Kelly (my mom)

Book Meme

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 42.
3. Find the first full sentence.
4. Post the text of the next seven sentences in your journal along with these instructions.
5. Don’t dig for your favorite book, the cool book, or the intellectual one: pick the CLOSEST.

Old Elihu was in bed as before, but now a black automatic pistol lay on the covers close to one of his pink hands.

As soon as I appeared he took his head off the pillows, sat upright and barked at me: "Have you got as much guts as you've got gall?"

His face was an unhealthy dark red. The film was gone from his eyes. They were hard and hot.

I let his question wait while I looked at the corpse on the floor between door and bed.

A short thick-set man in brown lay on his back with dead eyes staring at the ceiling from under the visor of a gray cap.

Dashiell Hammett. Red Harvest. New York: Vintage Books (1992). Originally published by Knopf in 1929.

Hangin' in the Crib

Here's Eamon hanging out in his crib post-nap yesterday (sometimes he doesn't want to come out right away) showing off some of his latest skills.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

On E's Birthday

When he first came into being
in me, he did not look human, then slowly
he formed, a head, a body, the boy
unfolding, limbs springing free and uncurling--
with a clear tap he kicked me from within--
long before I saw his face
I felt I knew him, I could not have described him and I loved him.

from "Love's Eyesight" by Sharon Olds

All at Once

Eamon is one today, and I've hardly had a second to give that any thought. The weekend extravaganza was chaotic but great: birthday party on Saturday (we had about twenty people here), baptism on Sunday at this church that we love. (More on that stuff later.) TJ's parents arrived from Florida on Saturday afternoon before the party and are staying with us until tomorrow. Eamon woke up from his nap on Sunday with a fever and it hasn't gone away since. He has no other symptoms, but he clearly feels lousy, and we're taking him to the doctor today even though they probably can't do anything. He's been fussy and clingy (wanting Mama) and just not himself. It's exhausting. In the meantime, TJ came down with a toothache Friday night. Later he confessed that he thinks it was the worst pain he's ever felt. Luckily, it subsided into a less excruciating ache by Saturday morning and he was able to put up with it until he could get to the dentist yesterday. We knew it was going to be bad news, but we had no idea just how bad.

He needs to have three teeth extracted, two root canals, bridges, implants, blahblahblah. It's going to cost over $10,000, and even if we get dental insurance first, which we will, the insurance will only cover $1500 of that. He has an appointment with an endodontist on Thursday (which will determine whether the infected tooth can be saved) and in the meantime he'll be taking antibiotics and painkillers. He'll also need to see an oral surgeon. And of course he's scheduled to go out of town next week. What a nightmare. We haven't had a chance to talk about how we're going to pay for this stuff, other than selling one of our cars, and that's just for starters.

In other drama, TJ got into a fight with his mom on Sunday night that was not pretty. They made up in the end, after Mary sobbed and sobbed and accused TJ of being an ungracious host and said she never wanted to come here again. It started with her going off on illegal aliens. (After all, isn't that the country's worst problem right now?) TJ lost it and told her she was "unbelievably, incredibly ignorant." This was after an argument with his dad that ended with his dad going upstairs and saying he wanted to leave early. Good times. That one started over a comment his dad made about "all the blacks and Mexicans fighting in our prisons" and TJ calling him a racist. Bill and Mary are the worst kind of Republicans, and they bring up offensive shit, and TJ just can't let it roll off his back. I wish he could, but I can't really blame him for getting upset.

Between Bill and Mary, and TJ trying to work and deal with his tooth, and Eamon being sick, I feel like I'm barely clinging to sanity. But I know that in the grand scheme of things, it's all small stuff, and in a twisted way, that feels good. Sort of. It feels like life, anyway.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

3,2,1

Eamon's first birthday party starts in three hours. Woot!
TJ is leaving in a half hour to pick up his parents at the airport. They'll be staying with us till Wednesday.
It's been a challenge getting ready for a party and overnight house guests with a mobile baby-almost-toddler (who climbed to the top of the stairs all by himself yesterday), but we're actually in pretty good shape at this point in time, shock of shocks. TJ developed a horrible toothache last night that had me convinced he would be out of commission today (and that we'd be making another trip to the ER), but it miraculously went away by the morning and we've been working hard all day. (He'll be going to the dentist Monday.) Whew. I think I got about three hours of sleep over that one.

Lots of pictures to come, I'm sure, and I may even write out E's birth story over the next week. I feel like I'm finally ready.

Today I just keep thinking about how fragile and miraculous life is, how happy I am to be living and breathing on this earth, and how uncertain all our futures are. Here's to many more years together.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Monday Morning

Kids are so resilient. Too bad that doesn't carry over into adulthood. You know? E is totally fine. We gave him some Motrin yesterday when we got home from the hospital and he nursed to sleep last night and slept straight through until 5:00 this morning. What a guy. He seems to be in a great mood today despite a fat lip and this glob of pulpy, deep red skin hanging from the fat lip. The doctor said that would eventually shrivel up and fall off. As for his gum, I haven't had a chance to take a peek today yet. In the meantime, he continues to put everything in his mouth. Ouch. How can that not hurt? But whatev, it doesn't seem to phase him.

I think I slept for six hours in a row last night, by the way. If I really did, that's something of a miracle. I can count on one hand the number of times I've slept for six straight hours in the past year, not that it really matters. I don't feel more rested or anything today. But somehow it's just a good feeling, psychologically.

Incidentally, the countdown has begun for Eamon's big birthday weekend. We've got his party on Saturday (TJ's parent's are flying in from Florida and mine are driving here from Dallas and San Antonio), and then we're having a baptism for him on Sunday. We still don't know what we're making food-wise for the party. Hmmm. I also have a shitload of cleaning to do. I was planning on getting a bunch done yesterday afternoon, but the universe had other plans, and that's the way life goes sometimes. Onwards and upwards.

Hope you all have a great week.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sunday Afternoon at the ER

We had to take Eamon to the ER this afternoon. He pulled up on the coffee table downstairs (like he does a hundred times a day) and fell down and somehow (we have no idea how) cut his lip and gum. I assumed he'd just hit his head, in fact, I heard it hit, and I picked him up to comfort him, and then blood literally just started spilling from his mouth. More and more and more. Horrifying. It was hard to tell what was going on, and we weren't sure what to do; it didn't seem like the kind of injury you could apply pressure to. E was screaming hysterically and I was trying unsuccessfully to press on his lip with a cold, wet cloth. TJ went online and read somewhere that you don't want to mess around with lip lacerations, so we decided to go to the ER, even though he'd stopped bleeding by the time we were halfway there, and he seemed to be doing okay. It's Sunday, though, so the ER seemed like our one and only option. Long story short, they didn't do anything, and it just has to heal. The lip isn't the worst part; it's the cut in the gum above one of his top teeth that looks awful and had us concerned. But that should heal in a couple of days, apparently. The doctor said that if E was a year older they would've had him rinse his mouth with antiseptic, but he obviously can't do that yet. Luckily, our mouths don't usually get infected because they're already full of bacteria, or so we were taught today. We also learned that the lips and gums heal incredibly quickly. Oh, and that E's cutting a fifth tooth, a cuspid. We hadn't realized until the doctor showed us, although we'd wondered if there was another one on its way from how he's seemed the past couple of days.

We were so proud of our guy today. He just kind of persevered through it all--he didn't cry when the doctor examined his mouth, even though we were holding him down on a table with his arms over his head, and he ate a normal dinner (how, I don't know) and even nursed tonight. He is the sweetest thing I've ever seen. We spent two hours at the hospital, which isn't bad by normal standards, but with a (squirmy, injured, fussy) baby, it felt twice as long.

In any case, we're just glad he didn't need stitches or anything. Whew.
I'm going to go relax now.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Friday, September 19, 2008

Videos (finally)

These are dated now; oh well. The first is from before he could crawl. It was actually taken the morning of the day he crawled for the first time, August 3. The second one is from August 6. He had just woken up from a nap.


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Stop Talking About Her

There's a great bit by Anne Lamott on Salon this week about the election and Sarah Palin. You can find it here.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Chillin' in the Swing with My Two Giant Front Teeth

Today started out pretty rough, as though to make up for yesterday. Getting out helped, though, as usual.
Here's a picture or two from the park. E wanted to swing for a long, long time, which was okay by me in this weather.

Monday, September 15, 2008

A Good Day

I think it's funny that I'm making a big deal out of starting E on cow's milk. You would think we were starting it super early, and in actuality, it's not that early at all. I guess seeing him drink milk just makes him seem like such a Big Kid to me. I wonder if moms who formula-feed feel like the transition to cow's milk is as significant.

By the way, today is the kind of day I love being a stay-at-home mom. E and I are in good places, and most importantly, fall has arrived and it's not blazing hot outside. I think the weather has everything do to with how today feels. The house is still and quiet--no AC in the background--and a cool breeze is blowing through the open windows. I was finally able to air out E's room, which has been hot and stuffy and mildly stinky lately. We always keep the curtains closed in there because the sun beats down on that side of the house in the afternoon, and his room gets really hot. So it felt great to tie the curtains back and open the window. E pulled up on the windowsill and stared wide-eyed at the trees and the cars and the street and laughed when the wind blew across his face.

This afternoon I bought his birthday gift from me and TJ. I've been dying to get this for him. It's a set of musical instruments for children. The set comes with castanets, jingle bells, maracas, and a tambourine. We hope he grows to feel music deep in his bones, and that he learns that, like books, music will always be there for him.

Another E Report

I have this vague idea that once E is one (in almost exactly two weeks!), I won't blog as much about the ins and outs of his sleeping and all that stuff. That's my goal, anyway. But until then . . . last night felt like a milestone. He didn't wake up at all until 4:45, but he really wanted to nurse then and was crying pretty hard in his room. I made a split-second decision (sorry, TJ) that I wasn't going to nurse him. So TJ went in (cue the next level of angry, hysterical screeching) and rocked him while I listened and cringed. I was sure it wouldn't work and he'd end up staying awake from then on, and I was asking myself if nursing him at 5:00 every morning was really all that bad. Then, lo and behold, he stopped crying after about five minutes and put his head down and went to sleep. TJ rocked him for quite awhile and then came back to bed. Five minutes later, E was up again, screaming mad. TJ went back in and rocked him, and again he went to sleep after several minutes of pissed-off crying. This time he stayed asleep until 7:00. Victory!!!!! At the first peep from him, I ran into his room and scooped him up to nurse (I still felt empty after over twelve hours of not nursing, by the way). We were so happy to see each other. I can't imagine how great it would be if he slept through the night and woke up between 6:00 and 7:00. It would change everything.

In other milk-related news, I gave him cow's milk with his dinner last night. I have never seen him suck so hard for so long on a sippy cup. He freaking loved it. I also heated up a frozen Amy's organic veggie burger for him for the first time (he had cheese and fruit as well), and he really liked it.

His favorite food of all, however, is cottage cheese. I usually give it to him as an afternoon snack, and he practically faints from joy. The only problem is that nothing makes him throw a bigger tantrum than coming to the end of the cottage cheese (and it's not like I give him a measley serving). He FLIPS out (shaking, growling, his face beet red, throat-shredding screams), to the point that it almost cancels out the happiness he was clearly feeling moments before. The emotional rollercoaster has begun . . .