Saturday, February 28, 2009

so comfortable

It's been a bit of a tricky week. Dad spent some time in the hospital here for what seems to have been a TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack), and everyone's nerves have been somewhat frazzled ever since, for a multitude of reasons- concern for further episodes, tension with each other over how we handled the situations earlier in the week and the best things to do now. I've been really stuck for ways to ease any part of the discomfort.

Last night, I downloaded iTunes onto my new laptop, knowing at some point I would want or need it.

This evening, I sat down to feed Braeden a bottle (with my laptop at my side, as usual). Dad sat on the other side of the room, reading a book, and it struck me... I clicked on iTunes, and pulled up the Irish Folk Singer, Val Doonican. VAL DOONICAN!!! Were you there during my childhood? Do you know that 'Walk Tall' was one of the first songs I remember hearing EVER?! Do you know that I danced with my father at my wedding to a Val Doonican song that I transferred to cassette from the ancient album we used to play on a (get this) RECORD PLAYER!!

As iTunes allows, I played a snippet of an old favourite, O'Rafferty's Motorcar, and a smile lit his face. I told him I could download the album. We agreed that I would pluck it from iTunes for him, and now I sit here listening to Delaney's Donkey.

"You have no idea how nice it feels to sit here and read and listen to old songs from my past," Dad said. "It feels so comfortable."

Monday, February 23, 2009


once in a while i get the itch to do something outside of my usual role. for fun. for experience. to stretch myself a little bit. it's normally a smallish task. a couple years ago, i changed the tire on my truck (something i did again just this past weekend). i installed the light fixture in abi's bathroom a few months ago, and installed one in the basement this weekend.

i find a great benefit in doing things like this. first, it increases my feelings of self sufficiency. second, it gives me experience in a real life thing that some people do all the time, and other people never ever do for themselves, and once i accomplish the task, it becomes significantly easier to accomplish again.

today i did something i never thought i'd do.
today i installed a toilet.

i had a couple of hiccups in the process... a slipped T bolt when tightening it to the bowl stand; a missing gasket that instigated a quick trip to home depot to attach the tank unit to the bowl; a massive blockage that we realized was just braeden.

all in all, however, it seemed to go without issue. i do believe it was not only my first toilet installation, but perhaps it was my first time plumbing, ever!

i learned a few informational morsels that i would like to share.
  • first, carrying a toilet to a basement for installation is actually quite manageable, as long as you remember to open the box, and take the toilet downstairs in pieces. that stuff doesn't need to stay all together if you want to avoid hernia.
  • second, it's important to have the right tool for the job, and sometimes the right tool is hidden in the box with the wrong tool.
  • third, people who compile instructions for installing a toilet are stupid. limiting instructions to a sketch drawing accompanied by 5 tiny half sentences in 5 alternate complex languages seems to make peoples' brains fall out. they don't list everything that came in your box. they don't tell you where to put the "extra" parts, and sometimes they'll just throw you a picture of a circular item to put onto your bolt, but they won't tell you if it's a washer or a gasket. i've determined maybe you need to be an idiot in order to even translate the instructions. it's no wonder guys never ask for directions.
it was a wonderful project that took me only a couple of hours to complete, and ended with a great sense of satisfaction. and so far- no leaks (knock on wood, quick)!

i must admit though, it's the first time i have worked diligently on a project, focused on it, became attached to it, found pride in it, enjoyed it, then peed on it.

Friday, February 20, 2009

complain, complain!

are we nearing a full moon or something? abigail today has been complaining about everything! we're talking about a happy kid here, but i am starting to lose it!

she had some time riding in daddy's car today, so all afternoon i've been hearing how all she wants to do is sit and ride in daddy's car, or go home and watch a movie.

"sorry, honey, we have errands we have to run. if you're a good girl you can have a special treat from the food store!"

"ooooooh. i want to be in daddy's car.
i don't like this car.
this car is messy.
i want to be in daddy's car where it's clean."

grrrr. you're the reason this car is riddled with goldfish crackers, used lollipop sticks, and mildewy snowboot stains.

"i'm sorry it's so messy, honey. anytime you want to pick up some trash and make it cleaner, you go right ahead."

"i don't like the black car.
i want to be in the BLUE car.
i like blue better than black.
we should paint the car."

black and blue... the cars won't be the only things that are black and blue...

"i think you'll have a hard time getting our car painted, honey."

"i don't like a black car.
i want to get a NEW car."

well, maybe i want to get a new kid!!!!!

she's asleep in the back seat now.
really, she's just sleeping.
i swear.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

no bite!

He bit me!
Braeden bit me, the little scamp!

It's somehow more insulting this time around.

I breastfed Abigail until she was something like 12.... oh, wait.... she's only 4, so it must have only felt like 12 years. Maybe it was more like 27 eternal months. Well, as soon as she started getting teeth, and the biting started (that's right- when she'd crunch down on a breast- cringe if you must), I'd pull her off with a screech. A loud mommy that takes away food was a quick lesson for one Abigail Rose.

Since the breastfeeding with Braeden was a six week massacre, it took him until today to find a decent place on mommy to try out the new pearls (already the boy develops more slowly than the girl). Yes, the shoulder is a better place to take the blow, but this time I fell victim to six fully erupted little hammers.

So it happened that Braeden received his first bout of feedback from mommy that sent him into a fit of tears, a holler and a backward yank. It's a bittersweet thing, really. When the little one reacts with crying, I know I've made an impact. He gets that x leads to y and y is unpleasant. Yet, the little guy has a head cold right now. He felt unpleasant enough without hearing he couldn't tear off a tasty bite of mommy.

Alright, maybe just a tiny sliver off the collar bone if his fever jumps above 103.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Mommy Filter

It's a good thing to have, the mommy filter. It keeps me looking level when dealing with my children.

The output end of the filter delivers:
"What happened? Baby, do you need a kiss? Let me help you up,"

when from the input side, the mind pushes through something more like:

"WHAT?! You're running around like a moron in stockings, and you forget there are stairs between the hall and living room? Oh, that's right, we've only lived here for four years, you great clumsy oaf!!!"

Hooraaaaaaaay mommy filter!!

I caved.

I had to look up the Neighborhood of Make Believe characters. It seems that over time, my mind has blurred and merged puppet characters, much like the mind blurs thoughts into strange dream sequences. There was a Henrietta Pussycat AND a Daniel Tiger in the neighborhood. I think it's the Daniel Tiger that I was thinking about most prevalently, only he spoke like Henrietta Pussycat.

When I was young, my memory was succinct and reliable. My parents could depend upon it. Maybe memory is something we pass on to our children even more completely than dominant genetic traits.

Like dad always says, "She has her mother's brains... they had to go somewhere."

Saturday, February 14, 2009

What was the name?

I have been wracking my brain for half the day today trying to recall the name of that blessed little cat/tiger puppet from Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood of Make Believe. You remember the one, don't you? She (He?) lived in or near a clock? I remember the day (s)he got a little watch to wear on the wrist. I think the little kitty was really closest to Lady Aberlyn.... or however you spell her name. I'm not looking it up. I have refused to google it yet.

You see, I just know that when I think of the name of that little puppet, a soft warm feeling is going to wash over me... that feeling I used to get listening to it talk with its sweet little 'meows' (meow really wish meow could meow-member meow's name). Falsely inducing that feeling by cheating just feels so... wrong. So I need to pine over it until it comes to me.

I started running through the characters in an effort to recall... There was Lady Aberlyn, Scary looking Lady Elaine, X the owl, King Friday, Prince Tuesday, that cool Purple Panda... a dog... Bob Dog?... and this blasted little kitten. Or was she a tiger? I think Todd said Henrietta, and that was the name that seems to have come closest.

Henrietta Kitten.

Is that right?
Do you know without searching the web for it?

Monday, February 9, 2009

the worst part

it isn't the night waking.
the worst part isn't having to get up and change a diaper or a wet through outfit.
it isn't walking downstairs, half asleep, waiting for the tap water to warm up to make a bottle.
the worst part isn't bringing a baby into your bed for the night.
it isn't even the disappointment you get when your significant other doesn't pull what you feel to be his or her share of the duties in the middle of the night.

the worst part is hearing that what you're doing, what has worked just fine in your mind for somewhere between eight months and five years, is maybe not what you "should" be doing. forget whether the "should" holds any merit. the worst part is waking up at 12.30am, knowing your standard routine that keeps everyone relatively rested is now this great big question mark that could potentially be harming your child just because someone you trust, and some quack in a book told you it might be so. so now what works turns into something you doubt. something that wasn't too bad plagues you as something you maybe should avoid, morphing a manageable routine into something by which you are mildly concerned and socially judged.

the next time my pediatrician asks if my son sleeps through the night without eating, i'm just going to lie and tell her yes.

Friday, February 6, 2009

really? we need a strategy?

I think, in life, there are some things that are best strategized. How to add a new regular expense to a family budget, perhaps. Or, how a company shall manage correcting damages from the latest computer virus. Maybe even more smaller scaled things, like how to plot out a morning so all children are dressed, fed, and to school on time. But, come at me with talk of "sleep strategies", and I turn off. I simply don't want to hear it. To me, sleep is something you just do. You don't develop a plan to achieve it. If you're tired- SLEEP! If you're not tired- STAY AWAKE!

When I had Abigail, one of the earliest irritations that I stumbled across was how everyone tossed out inquiries about how she slept. For the life of me, I could not understand how on earth it was anyone's business. I started telling people that she slept fine, just so I didn't need to go into the details of how we slept in a chair for 10 months, me holding her, then half in a chair, half in a bed, co-sleeping for another 8 months. Then, she'd sleep in a crib for 3-4 hours a night, and sleep the rest of the night in my bed with me. To this day, she wakes up at least once a night, and I almost always wake up with her in my bed. She sleeps, I sleep, and Todd sleeps, so we make it work. Now, there's Braeden.

In my family, "Ferberization" might as well be a four letter word. When babies cry, they are sending you, the parent, a message. Most often, it deals with discomfort. As parents, we know we can not always, and should not always, do all we can to make our children comfortable (yes, honey, mommy would be more comfortable in a Mercedes-Benz too! Now, get on your tricycle). But when you're talking about a nine month old baby? A baby that just wants you to hold its little body close so it can feel safe and warm while falling asleep? Will someone please tell me why that is so wrong?

Wait. Scratch that. Today, someone tried to tell me why it was wrong. Namely, our pediatrician. I should state here, that I adore our pediatrician. She has been a saint, and ultimately, she encouraged me to do what's right for my family... but only after she lectured me for ten minutes on the benefits of having my baby go the night without eating, and sleep through the night in his own crib, in his own room, self-soothing if he wakes up ticked off.

It would lead to better sleep for me, she said... I don't care about sleep! I decided long ago sleep was over rated!
It would lead to better sleep for my family... if they're tired enough, they'll sleep through it!
He would nap better if he slept through the night.... grrrreat, now he's going to sleep his whole life away?

I think she sensed my wall on the topic. Several times in her discussion with me, telling me how Braeden doesn't need night feedings and should be able to sleep all night, she would seem to break out into laughter, and I think she knew that I was rubber and she was glue and her fancy shmancy sleep theories were bouncing off me and sticking to either her or the baby goo left on the exam table by the previous patient. Her reasoning just would not penetrate. It seemed to be an argument that MY life would be better if I let HIM be miserable for a few nights. Right. Because his crying is so pleasant to me.

People, there is a reason that a baby's cry is irritating as hell. It's a call for action. I want my baby to cry when he's uncomfortable just like I want my fire alarm to go off when my house is on fire.

Okay, but I need to come back to the fact that I adore my pediatrician. She wouldn't lead me astray, would she? I really like her. She has her own kids. I mean, I'm tempted to meet her before work for coffee, I dig her so much. Maybe I should give this at least a cursory glance.

She recommended this book, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, and i bought it today. Research never hurt anyone. She also recommended I get Braeden a little lovey toy that might help sooth him in his crib at night. Forcing comfort feels contrived, but I must admit, as I held him here on my lap at his last waking (of three in the last 2 hours), he did pull his little 'snuggy moo' toy close and suck on it as he fell asleep again.

So, I'll dote on Brae's moo cow blankie, and I'll try to keep an open mind while I read someone's strategies on sleeping... but you need to know, here and now, I'm skeptical.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Interview

My dear friend, Pam, is a journalist. She recently posted a crafty little fresh air blog, answering interview questions given to her by another person in an "interview chain". Well, I thought it was positively lovely learning some interesting things about her, and decided that I am certainly self-centered enough to want to be interviewed myself. Especially by thoughtful, inspirational Pam! So, here's the game. If you're interested, I'd love to pass the chain your way.

The Rules:

A.) Leave me a comment saying, “Interview Me!”
B.) I’ll respond with five questions of my choice for you to answer (and I promise to try to make them exciting and interesting.)
C.) You update your blog with the answers to the questions
D.) You include “The Rules” and offer to interview other people

... and now... Pam's interview of me:
1. If they made a movie about your life, who would you want to play you (and why)?
I would love to be played by Angelina Jolie. I think she is beautiful and spunky- things I'd like to consider myself. Then I remember that her movies are usually of the action variety. My most action packed activity of going to the grocery store goes down like milk toast. So, given she'd likely reject the role, I'd petition Laura Linney. She's beautiful too, and talented, and Todd has the hots for her. It's the least I could do for him, create a fake world in which he's married to Laura Linney.

2. What do you hope your kids do for a living when they grow up?
I just hope my kids do something that makes them happy. HA! As if! No responsibly parental packaged answers from me. I have real thoughts on the topic.
Abigail is a superstar. I hope she becomes some sort of performer- Broadway diva perhaps, or even a circus clown. I think she has the personality to pull off a life in the spotlight. She is a clever one too though, and as an intellectual, I'd also be thrilled to see her emerge as a scientist of some sort. I think science needs more smart, social, beautiful women.
I don't quite have Braeden figured out yet, but with his early signs of patience and persistence, it might be nice to see him go into education. He can teach at a local medical school between hours of treating his patients at his family practice office. That way he can make both me and his Jewish grandmother proud.

3. If you could change one thing about your husband, what would it be?
I would want him more attentive. He works hard at it, and has come such a long way in our nearly 13 years together. Still, it's no surprise to him or those that know him well that he has an attention span that's a combination between a three year old, high on cotton candy, set free in disney world and a rabid gerbil.

4. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I would like to be able to exhibit compassion when dealing with people who need it. I have a habit of being rather caustic. It doesn't often serve me well. I wish I was better at keeping my house clean too. Can I change two things??

5. What is your dream job (without regard to schooling, experience, training, etc.)?
I have a list of dream jobs. I really wish I had just one, then I'd truly go after it hot and heavy, but with a number of things on my list, I don't know what's feasible- what I should go for, and what I should table. I'm sorry- you don't get just one answer. You get a list, or at least as much of it as I can think of right now: Equine Veterinarian, Author/Writer, Medical Doctor/Surgeon (I've always found cardiology particularly fascinating), Mathematics Instructor, Horse Trainer, Alpaca Farmer, Artist (painter or potter), Web Designer. I guess you could say my future is wide open.

Thank you, Pam!