Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Sticker shock

Good thing I am not the depressive type because, wow, this post-holiday week is an unfun, mess-cleaning, downpouring rain-fest. I'm a little puffy about the eyes probably ya, because I've mounted what seems to be a more fruitless and heartbreaking search for daycare than I thought possible.

Local AND quality AND affordable? God, I'm so naive!

Yes, I want my childcare provider to make a living wage, and yes I probably will get what I pay for -- thank you lady for filling in my stunned silence with that chastising byte of wisdom -- but after a couple days of touring blue collar homes and immigrant family basements and weathering the culture shock of other peoples intimate lives, I'm worn out and incredulous. My brain hurts from the math ...

< thoughtbubble >At X dollars per month, add 30% to how much I'll have to make above X before taxes, divide it into worked hours -- I'll have to work full-time just to afford part-time childcare, or work-full time to afford full-time childcare with a cut in take-home pay, and standard of living and less time with my child< /thoughtbubble >

I'm ducking through water sheeting down off the corrugated fiberglass porch roof, dead summer plants, dirty tipped-over molded-plastic yard chairs... still optimistic. Obese lady here, bra-less and be-slippered, reclines on K-mart furniture, tells me she'll let my child cry it out at nap-time. Do I get a discount if I pretend to not notice that your husband snuck out just as I was pulling up? Did he pass a background check too?

A dedicated childcare facility, the kind with a designated hand-washing station, and no visible personal belongings (stacks of mail, coupons and receipts, laundry, litter boxes), a place like that costs almost as much per month as housing and bills, combined.

How is this possible? America, you have truly said FUCK YOU to working mothers. I know, because I used to not give a shit about these matters, as a representative non-mothering American. Now I am mothering, and I'm totally alone in this mess. Even when I try to talk it over with Clark he says to me WELL, IF YOU THINK YOU CAN WORK ENOUGH TO COVER THE COST -- GO FOR IT.

Because I'M THE MOM, RIGHT? IF I WANT TO GET ALL UPPITY ABOUT HAVING A "CAREER" I'D BETTER FIGURE IT OUT MYSELF?* His right to work is unassailable. Agh, these stupid old cliches, this stupid mess, these hopeless times!

It'll all be different in 2011, right?

*That isn't exactly fair because Clark has never said that and he has been unfailingly supportive if a little lop-sided, but I still think the point is salient...

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Sunday Baking

I'm making gingerbread in the shape of butterflies because certain economic forces seem to be manipulating the cost of cookie cutters in the shape of little men... at least, at the only one store I went to, where they were four times more expensive than any of the other cookie cutting shapes. I don't appreciate feeling like a beguiled holiday sheep and in fact and at the same time, have never met a butterfly that made me mad or hurt my feelings. On the other hand, there are plenty of people whose heads should be bitten off for doing exactly that, so clearly this line of reasoning has it's limitations. This is where it lead: I bought the butterfly shaped cookie cutter.

There was some nice unexpected floofery when I threw a measure of baking soda into the hot mixture of molasses and brown sugar, but other than that, the recipe wasn't unimpressive.* I baked up a tiny swarm of 20 or so butterflies and threw the rest of the dough in the garbage.

Cleaning up just now I somehow managed to slice -- emphasize: saaa-lice! my finger right the fuck open washing the sauce pan. Help me figure out how I did it. My niece Ashley, who is living with us this school year, is constantly complaining that our knives are too sharp but the last three (3!) times I have cut myself (and badly) it happened not with any of our razor sharp knives but, in this particular order: on the lid of cottage cheese container, the foil from the neck of a wine bottle, and now the lip of a cooking pot.** I clearly have thin skin, haha, but I'm working through that.

Anyhow... here's some videos of daily nonsense





The sign for mouse as it might commonly be expressed, can be seen here. In this dialect, the finger goes all the way up ones nose.

*But not so offensive that I didn't eat three (4) cookies.

**UPDATE: I whittled the tip off my finger with our super-sharp paring knife a couple hours after posting. I'm now triple bandaged and annoyed! Witness:

Sunday, November 21, 2010

So, today I was up bright and early because...

Last night I was talking to my mother-in-law and she was suddenly all flashing light haloed and starry. I blinked a few times and wondered if I had recently stared into a very bright, tracer inducing light, which, no, I didn't think I had. And a few minutes later, driving home I started to notice peripheral zig-zags in my vision field -- and I knew it was all over for me. I could feel the aneurysm pulsing in my brain.

OMG I'M TOTALLY DYING, THEA PLEASE... LAUGH FOR MOMMY, JUST ONE... MORE... TIME...

It was a tough evening. I kept trying to sneak off to the couch to lay down, to fend off a physical discomfort what was crawling over me but Thea took the rejection hard and decided firmly that I was the only person allowed to handle her. So I drug myself again and again from the couch from a worsening state to ask her to sit in the tub, back to the couch... to convince her to submit to the washing of hair, back to the couch... to the zipping of jammies, back to the couch... and finally I just stayed and did it myself: the holding, the reading of books, the rocking of the chair, singing of songs and tucking of blankets.

When she at last went to sleep I crept upstairs with my laptop to Google the symptoms -- phantom lights, headache, nausea and willingness to go to sleep before midnight -- and holy fuck! Peripheral zig-zags, word-for-word? A migraine! What? That's so commonplace... no way! Then I ran downstairs to puke.

Anyhoo, the exciting part of my story is that I had a real life Migraine (ouch!) and went to bed with an icepack at 830pm which I have never, ever, ever done before under my own volition. Ever. Even when Thea was a brand-new baby and I hadn't slept for years. Ever.

I got up today earrrrly and it felt so right! Can I call myself a morning person now?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Killed

I'm out last night after dark, running up a busy street that borders my neighborhood. There's this raccoon running too, across my path. Turning to look over my shoulder, yes damnit there is a car coming and I'm yelling NONONONONOOOONOOOOO but the raccoon doesn't understand me and the car doesn't hear me and yeah.

There now, is the raccoon in the middle of the street. The street is wet, and not particularly well lit, on a hill, on a curve, cars still coming. God, at least the driver pulled over and I'm not alone with this. The raccoon actually rolls over now, she's still alive. Whew! ...wait, Agh! This is worse, isn't it? Fuck.

She's just laying there on her stomach, her head up, composed. Cars are swerving around her. I can't tell if there is blood or guts on the wet black. She's got her front paws stretched daintily out in front, just looking around. This is the exact same pose Willie strikes on the back of the couch at her most content, falling asleep with her head high.

This is really sucking because I don't know what to do and this guy is pacing around going WHAT DO I DO? SHOULD I DRIVE OVER IT AGAIN? I CAN'T DO THAT! WHAT DO I DO? And she's out there in the street nonchalantly not dead, cars swerving around her. She's a wild animal, I can't go out there and pick her up. Besides, I'm wearing all black fullpantslongsleevesblack... I'm gonna be killed with her if I walk out into the street.

Calling Clark, no answer. Calling non-emergency punching through their prohibitive phone tree. And dude, I'm shaking and trying not to cry. Does anybody think, it's just a fucking raccoon? Because I'm feeling like I should think that. I don't know why. At the same time, if you said "it's just a raccoon, geez" I'd hate you.

Cars are swerving around her and this guy is running up and down knocking on doors that nobody is answering. I'm wringing my hands. Police non-emergency has office hours. They're closed. Can't type on this stupid iphone keyboard with hands shaking. Dove Lewis? Animal Control? Cuddle hotline?

After 10 forever minutes of this the raccoon, oh horror she tries to get up. Then, umm... she walks right off past me up into the dark street of houses. No blood dripping, guts dragging -- she's wholly intact.

She doesn't seem to even be limping but this still can't be good right? I saw her, heard her get hit, hard. Maybe she just got brushed by the bumper and rolled under the car? She's probably going to find a place to die? I'm totally confused though. Can I cry yet? I don't have any reason now. She's not dead! She looks fine! Except that my chest is pent the fuck up with anxiety. I'm a riot in a dispersing crowd.

Life is going on. Someone blares their horn at the car parked there with hazard lights. Clark is still not answering his phone. I'm cold now, and wet with sweat. The raccoon is gone. She doesn't want our help. It's just me and this kid and he's like, UM, BETTER GET GOING. SORRY YOU HAD TO SEE THAT.

Now it's just me, staring into traffic. I'm two miles from home, looking and feeling like a shadow. I've lost the heart of my run but it's cold out here so I jog stiffly home.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Uphill bothways

It's probably doesn't need to be said that running is a lot more of a challenge these days. This week already there have been a couple of down days, days where I just had to keep bumping my run down the to-do list until oops, it was too late...

Take yesterday, when getting out to the street required a force of mysterious strength and origin. Thea, with four more teeth coming in, is in complete revolt from meaningful sleep... tired, pained, sweaty, willful... prodding her up and down the stairs, changing clothes tying shoes with one hand, the other retrieving her from the precipice of the stairwell.

Stuffing her into a sweater, jacket, two pairs of socks, boots, gloves and packing her tight into the stroller with a warm fluffy blanket over howling protestation. The draping of the stroller rain-bonnet brought on physical arched-body bucking...

This is absurd, this is totally absurd

...wrestling the stroller out the door, scraping past the awful, resistant glass screendoor into heavy, twilit downpouring rain and screaming outrage. See? There are a plenitude of reasons to say FUCKTHISFOREVER... but I know that we, she even more than me, need a change of scenery and some fresh gotdamned air.

There is nobody out here now, in this downpour, on this deeply puddled path. I only see one other person running and his clothes are plastered by rain to his body. It is almost full dark when I slow running to a walk, back where we started. I'll get home just before the wolves and the gusts I bring with me mean the inside won't be so stale anymore.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Fresher air

The impossible 8 weeks is up and we got the approval from the veterinary orthopedic surgeon to begin taking Oweeeee for short 15 minute walks, twice daily.

The assessment at this point is that the healing progress is "less than ideal, but within the range of normal." Being less than ideal means you can still see the cut lines in the bone on the X-ray and a slight occasional hesitation to use the leg, all which should have no effect on his long term prognosis = %100 full recovery.


why do you torture me so? just let me die!

I wanted to tell the doctor that, you see, Oweeee is a thinking man and a extra-sensitive submissive dog who is probably depressed in his current state of inactivity. THAT is why his healing has been a little slow, THAT is why he sometimes still rests that leg on its toe when standing instead of putting his full weight down. I know my Oweeeee, he is a leg-cocker if even looked at with disconcertion. I have no doubts that now being allowed outdoors, he will rebound much more quickly.

So, anyway, less than ideal means another round of X-ray$ in six weeks. Blerg.


in my clutches! -- aaagh

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Costume wars

This blog post is sponsored by today's cancellation with less than 24 hours notice. It is circumstantial compensation, sure, but I'm amused by the idea of being a paid writer. Anyone who can craft a noun phrase like that should be remunerated, don't you think?

It's Halloween. My pumpkins survived the night.

Thea is a chagrined ladybug who violently rejects the antenna doctrine. I really want to force them onto her head though, and I'm fighting with my better nature. Believe me, I have no illusions about this... the costume is for my benefit... and it's really just too bad she is too young for coercion and/or bribery and/or threats because maybe we could come to some kind of truce in which I win.



I've been chasing her around the house with a camera begging her to hold still long enough to have her picture taken at the very least. Begging doesn't work either. I think her costume will probably be in tatters before long and I'm just going to have to pick up the pieces and, you know...


...keep trying to shove them onto her.

Wish me luck!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

On Pumpkin Smashing

I don't want anybody to come and smash my pumpkins. There was smashed pumpkin on the street outside today and I almost, briefly, thought about bringing my jack-o-lanterns in for the night but that is a fundamental contradiction to the spirit of carved-pumpkinry, isn't it?

These ones this year matter to me a lot. Just like everything, Halloween has been recast in light of Thea. So yes, I do not want them to become ex-pumpkin street slime at the hands of our local turdface teenagers. However, these pumkins are also being crawled over and through by both slugs and perhaps a couple of ants, and THAT is just gruesome enough to say: leave them outside of the house, no matter the peril. Slugs! are crawling in! and out! of my pumpkin mouths! and pumpkin eyeballs! Agh!

Friday, October 29, 2010

I have some free time built into my schedule today, but not enough time to do anything or go anywhere off the trail between campuses. So I'm here, brushing crumbs off the cushions in the hallways and looking at enthusiastic student art of dubious quality.



The weather got me wrong again. Last night was so cold and wet when I wore a thin sweatshirt to the concrete campus on the windy hill. I swore today I would dress smarter but it turns out today isn't parka weather. Last night was. I historically have bad winter coating habits, often look out the window into a horizontal torrent and accordingly select comfy light-weight sleeves that served me well all summer long. This is my tendency my friend Sascha often points out, poking me maliciously, with her actual finger. She called me yesterday is perhaps the only reason I tried to dress appropriately today. And it backfired.

It was very nice to talk to her. Most of my friendships are mostly theoretical these days. This probably sounds sad. It is, I guess.



Anyway, pumpkins.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

For the birds

Our backyard is fenced in by chain-link and grown over with a laurel hedge. The hedge hides about 90% of the chain-link fence (which I hate), but the hedge is also ugly and prone to looking mildewy and diseased. I'd like to eventually replace the fence, removing the hedge entirely, however, the hedge is perfect habitat for the small song birds that eat out of our feeders. They sit singing in the bushes all day long. Does anybody have any suggestions on what we can do to keep these birds around? Are there other plants in which they are likely to settle? Honestly, I'd rather keep the hedge if taking it out means we lose the birds. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

----

Anyway, it wasn't any one molar coming in that caused all that anxious to-doing around here, it was three. Now all three teeth are in and, YAY! happiness EVER AFTER ever since. It's been so lovely in fact, that the day after that last grievous post, rose petals tumbled out of Thea's diaper and angels sang.

This is true too. She'd been out in the backyard with Ashley defrocking the roses. There were trails of petals around the half an apple tree, leading to the dog's water bowl, filling the water bowl, escaping through the fence, and, it seems like she saved a fistful of those petal down the front of her onesie. When I went to change her, oh pleasant day, there they were.

But yes, I didn't know until a few days ago that there were actually three teeth breaking through. I had Thea on my lap, head thrown back, laughing and I was like HOLY CRAP, LOOOKIT! TEETH! I do my best to anticipate her need for pain medication but it's not easy. I can only imagine that mouth hurt like a motherfucker.


Anyway, breathing easy.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

It's just a phase, right?



Things have gotten very exciting here. Owen is gated up in the kitchen with a shaved-naked and visibly withered drumstick haunch. He ranges emotionally between visibly depressed and thickly morose, depending on how tranquilized he is at the moment -- though he can rally a good swooping howl and nerve-wracking broken-legged leap, even from the depths of a drug stupor, when any of us come home. These moments are, you know, his only high points during this trial long convalescence... homecomings aaaand the radio... oh, and going outside long enough to pee! Three weeks down, five more to go.



Immediately after surgery, pre-atrophy

Also, we have more teeth: big fat molars = punchypunchy baby! It's a curious fact that toddlers haven't gone extinct. They seem to have an uncanny ability to know exactly when to come around hugging and kissing. Seriously, she is really fucking cute and cute works on me. And so does the feeling of insane, terminal-velocity mamalove. But, fuck!, it ain't easy. I actually banged my head on the wall today, about five or six thumps. At times, always lately, I feel like the most clueless, under-prepared, incompetent person to ever try mothering which is a double blow because I had gotten smug, I was going to be a better! mother! than all the mothers I've known. But hold that phone! The contest has hardly begun, and there is still plenty of wine.



This face?

I really don't know what I am doing! Today I just stopped trying to negotiate what I thought was a pretty fair compromise which went like this: okay! you got to brush your teeth, now it's mama's turn (to brush your teeth) (so cheery) and finally, because it was received with back-arching howls anyway, I just executed some street justice and wrenched the toothbrush out of her hands with my superior strength and we suffered the consequences together - on the floor, snotty, and streaming hot tears. Bonus, she still comes to me for consolation, even when the disconsolating event is of my doing.

So that, with scene reruns re: lotion, nail clippers, food, clothing (and other things I wasn't even given enough time to deny her of), was our day, week, month? year? How long does this phase last? So yes, I'm making a list of resources: The library is a discrete way of getting information. Parenting websites too, though maybe other parents aren't quite willing to use the same language I use to describe my toddler's behavior (badger in a dress) which makes the search results either dishonest, or upsetting, or both. Other parents? I need specific advice instead of platitudes. I want someone to tell me this: When A happens, then B should be your course of action, in which B is nothing abusive, or non-life affirming.

I think, as times have noticeably darkened in this struggle for independence, about that smug anti-parenting article citing non-parents self-reported higher levels of happiness, and I remember the quote "my family are like millstones around my neck" and, with a nod, I still wouldn't un-wish. This is not to say That. I just want to make it easier on us, me maybe mostly her.


this face?

holymother! so I had a dreams last night that was such metaphorical overkill! It was me at the funnest, swanky party but I could not, WOULD NOT stay because, no! this isn't like me!, and plus I had to get home to sleeping Thea. So instead I spent the entire party into the early morning hours searching the grounds for a to-go box, or even a dirty plate so I could bring home some of the amazing food from the banquet tables. But I could not find a container, or, then I could not hold onto a container, or find another... and all around me were people in various states of rapturous life-affirmation fun-having. And the food slowly disappeared, then the desserts disappeared, and the people started to disappear and I was still thinking I had to find this container because maybe the food had just been put in the fridge, and I could still make it home. And yet, my niece, who was supposed to be babysitting Thea, drifted into and out of the crowd, mentioning that she had told the neighbors that I would be right back and they weren't really keeping Thea safe, but had an ear out for her, so there was THIS too, this urgency to send my niece back to watch Thea, or to get back myself, but I just had to get this container! Why didn't I just eat the fucking food?

you guys! what is the food? did I have this dream because one of the classes I interpreted on Thoreau and his LIVE FOR NO-OTHER credo? is this just because I feel so weighed down and dispersed by the piles of things in my head I mean to get around to, but refuse to sacrifice NARY A ONE, EVEN IF IT MEANS I'VE THEN SACRIFICED THEM ALL?

Just... damn! I wish I had time for all the library books I have checked out. At least I can keep renewing them, over and over again. Eventually, I'll read up all the answers.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

TPLO

Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy. It's kinda fun to say. Owen is having one done today after wiping out on some wet logs at the creek on Friday. He slipped and fell while running full speed chasing a stick. He's been limping but stoic since the initial fall and didn't even cry when we prodded him for clues, but it was clear that he was not using the leg and from the way it wobbled side-to-side, it was also pretty clear that whatever was wrong wasn't going to heal on it's own.


THESE VERY LOGS

We took him to the vet Saturday, stayed home Sunday, went in for x-rays Monday, consultation with an orthopedic surgeon Tuesday and then back again today for the surgery. His cruciate ligament and meniscus were torn when he fell. There is nothing to be done for the meniscus, but, because the cruciate can no longer prevent slippage where bone meets bone, the plateau of his tibia is being leveled (if you couldn't tell from the name of the procedure) so there won't be a slippery slope...plateau... and then everything will be great. The surgeon will make a circular cut, adjust the angle of the top of the bone, nail everthing together, sew it up and that's that, as well as I understand it.

Because Owen is a working dog and spends winters standing chest-deep in icy water we've decided that the implant, which would normally just stay on the bone, will need to be removed to prevent painful expansion and contraction, which will be another surgery a few weeks after the 2-3 month convalescence following this one.

Of course, we are grateful to have the emergency resources to cover the cost, which is mind-numbing, but I couldn't help cringing when I handed over my credit card this morning for half-down on the estimate. I mean, we have spent the last three years aggressively paying down our debt and this pretty much puts us right back where we started.

But the hardest part of this is the regret. I just fucking hate myself for letting him run over those logs, which, right now seems sooo fucking stupid as to border on criminally negligent. I mean, I didn't just let him. He ran over the logs the first time and it was so amazing to watch him airborne at full sprint I intentionally threw the stick in the same spot the second time. By then, the logs were wet and he suffered his fall. Owen is an incredibly athletic dog, strong and agile with an exquisite musculature. He is the most physically capable dog I have ever had. It really didn't occur to me (fucking DUH) that he could fall. The surgeon says he expects a full recovery, but I still feel like I took something that was magnificently perfect* and destroyed it, and for that, I can never pay enough. DRAMATIC, NON?

*and sweetly undeserving.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Gifford-Pinchot

Clark is gone for the weekend camping with his extended family. I wouldn't be missing it except for the recent Great Falls Exhibition of Horrors. There is no way I'm dragging that kid out of her snug little bedtime routine again until she is old enough to negotiate, old enough to sit still and listen to an explanation and maybe old enough for regret. Until then, thanks, I'll stay home. At the rate she is mastering worldly skills it should only be a few more weeks.

What I missed most being gone was our walks in the mornings and evenings. Thea and I go around the block in footie pajamas and bid prolonged farewell to anyone passing in the other direction, especially with a dog, or to anyone getting into a car. About halfway home we stand on the sidewalk while she signs CHICKEN to me and points to the house where they indeed have chickens in the yard. It takes several minutes before I can convince her that I know there are chickens in that there yard, and that it is OUR JOB to say goodbye to those chickens.

BYE CHICKENS, GOODBYE LIKE YOU'VE NEVER BEEN GOODBYED BEFORE! GOODBYE TILL YOU ARE MISSING FEATHERS! TILL TOMORROW MORNING CHICKENS!! GOODBYE CHICKENS!

BYEBYE!

BYE!

BYE!

BYE CHICKENS!

BYE!

Chicken party

It's the cutest fucking thing that ever happened to those chickens and tonight they came to the fence and we had a little chicken party. It was a going away party. BYE CHICKENS!

IMG_0016

Speaking of babies! There still ISN'T one over in Montana. Anita went in for another doctor visit, another stress test, and for the laying out of options. They will try to induce on Monday. In the meantime, all the old wives tales are being vigorously researched online and ringers are being left on all through the night. So far, the only wake-up calls I've gotten have been notification that it's my turn at WORDS WITH FRIENDS. (username: theachance (if you like that kind of thing)).

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

While we were gone

The apple tree in the back yard fell the fuck over. The house smells like paint and the backyard is strewn with tree limbs and paintbrushes, drop clothes, rollers, lengths of quarter-round molding...



Clark did a lot of work while we were in Montana. He replaced the molding through the whole house, something that we have not made the time for since the floors were redone back in January, and finished painting every floorboard, wall and ceiling on the ground floor except the kitchen (remember that project from last fall?). Whew! I'm tired sitting here comfortably on the couch just looking at the walls! I better make some noise about how hard it was to be in Montana with that baby so we all know the score is even.





Monday, August 16, 2010

Packing for Home

This has been a long exhausting trip. I am packing to leave tomorrow morning and there is still no signs of real labor. The expectant parents are at the midwife right now for another stress test, another ultrasound, a little bit more poking and prodding. It is seeming pretty likely that I won't be getting my hands on a baby this visit. Boo.

I don't necessarily have to leave tomorrow. I don't have any pressing concerns to get home to, but I miss my husband, I miss my dog, I miss my child transitioning easily and comfortably into sleep. As I write this Thea is screaming from the other room after napping for a mere 20 minutes. I am wondering if the pack-n-play is close enough to the shelves that she can pull the whole thing down on her head, or maybe get a foothold to climb up and stick her finger in a light socket. This child is killing me. The future should invent hover cams for monitorning kids. Aren't we living in the Space Ages! I wouldn't be wondering if she was ingesting a tube of zinc oxide I swear might be within arms reach of the crib. Damnit why is she so quiet right now?


Missouri River

Anyway, half of the family left yesterday. It was hushed and a little sad around here. I packed up from my seedy motel and moved into the baby room, cooked up a couple more casseroles for the deep-freeze, walked to the park, drank a couple beers with John. In the evening we walked the river side trail past some falls. I wouldn't call them Great... there must be something better because these look like they are only exposed because of the dam immediately up river, which was not here when Lewis and Clark trekked by taking note of the greatness of the falls ... anyway, they were Nice Falls behind which the sun set prettily and still, neither baby was lulled, theirs to labor, mine to sleep.


Mediocre Falls

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Great Falls, Montana

I'm in Montana this week for a baby but there is no baby yet. Today is the third day after the due date, DD+3 and it feels like there will never be a baby, like there is no such thing but a basketball under a shirt. In good faith we wait, and eat occasional meals together.

I thought it better to entertain an interrupted toddler in a setting more private than a full house with a newborn, so I'm staying in a post-prison halfway-house motel my brother recommended, near one of the less glamorous freeway exits. I spend the evenings wrastling with my small, but willful daughter. It's rough for a bebeh, you know, not being in her own bed living her own known life. She has true mastery of the concept DOG (word and sign, living and representational) but almost no mastery at all for the whimsy or caprice of her own emotions.

Every night I pace, and sing, and cuddle and mostly restrain her until she gets sooo tired (and screamy) she falls asleep by accident, twoplus hours after her bedtime! And when she wakes up at 5am she is already ready for a nap, but, being away, wont take one except by accident.

I would be betraying her to tell you how hard the last five evenings here have been for me, because it's my job to want to do anyanything at all for her. I'd jump in front of a train, I would... but feverish hyper-exhaustion just seems, I dunno... unnecessary, like something that can just be knocked-off. These nights, oh, I suffer all the rage and sorrow she can muster. I practice my Zen calm and try to let it go through me but it's hard to not fall down when it does.

I don't like it here and I don't even know where the fuck I am. I had to Google "Great Falls" just now to see my location, and it's relationship to places I do know. To be honest, I'm just looking to pick a fight with this town. For example, I've put over 25 foot miles into this place and only seen three other runners. But I was mad when the second, then third runner went past me today because it destroyed the case I was building against this town. I still don't have to like it, even if people here do occasionally run.

So anyway, we're a whole bunch of family gathered together, several from as far as Norway, waiting on a baby. I hope it's a SHE, I hope SHE comes tonight, though that will be a Friday the 13th birthday, but eh... there are worse things.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Play group

Thea and I went to the Portland Children's Museum today for Dance Together, a chaotic scarf-waving toddler class, the last of four sessions which we paid for months ago and were never able to attend until today... haha they have a cancellation/refund policy that I didn't bother to look at until just now... um, anyway, Thea peed her pants and I didn't check the diaper bag before we left so I didn't notice that there was not a change of clothes in there like there has been everysingleday for her whole freakin life. I have been hauling around a hulkinghuge bag packed for every possible contingency none of which were ever realized until today. That is probably not exactly true. Still.

Instructing toddlers is the height of futility so really, the parents (the moms actually because really, in the infant massage classes, and new moms groups and Tiny Tots at the library and MOPS (mothers of preschoolers) at the park, and Science Tots... all these baby group attenders are moms at a ratio of 10:1, with the one in ten dad being a sorta oversensitive stay-at-home sissy type HAHAHA JUST KIDDING!) anyway, the moms are dancing around trying to demonstrate nose-touching and hand clapping and the babies are like YOUAREFREAKINGMEOUT JUST PICK ME UP PLZ.

Sometimes they hit each other, sometimes they scream and run in circles, they put whatever they can in their mouths and often they spend some time just staring at the overly enthusiastic group leader. Once and awhile they try to bite her talking puppet hand. ANYWAY, Thea gawked and gamely held onto a FOAM DANCING NOODLE, but by the middle of it was overstimulated and refused to be put down. I can oblige a little baby pee so I just held her on my hip as we hopped on rubber squares and choo-choo followed-the-leader.

Then, because we skipped nap time to attend she was in a foul little mood and chased Owen around beating him with the green and sliver pinwheel that I bought her as we were leaving, which I swear is the exactly same toy it was when I was a kid. Poor Owen. I usually make him sit and take her attentions because she gets such a kick out of him scampering away, and dude, I can't think of anything more dangerous then a kid determined to chase down and torture a dog that towers over her. So Owen takes the petting, terribly put-out about it, but without his histrionics the fun is ruined for Thea, which is my job I guess and she wanders off to stuff the mail slot with tupperware lids. Except when she actually hits then hotdamn she gets scooped up by her armpits and deposited into a minute long timeout purgatory. Even for a fairly painless pinwheel beating.

That is what I did today. Plus laundry, a sassy lentil-barley soup and six miles in the afternoon heat.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Yesterday I wrote a fairly annoyed few paragraphs about general misconceptions regarding sign language which I then decided not to publish. Yes, the assumptions and ignorant comments are ugh, fucking irritating, but they are not really offensive unless you work at getting offended, and they're almost never malicious. Besides, I think everybody feels exasperated about the things they KNOW that others DON'T KNOW. What's interesting about that? In fact, few things annoy me more someone yelling OHMYGOD THE GENERAL PUBLIC IS SOOO IGNORANT ABOUT MY SPECIALIZED NICHE AREA OF EXPERTISE AND/OR MY VERY UNIQUE EXPERIENCE OF LIFE. I think maybe my peevishness about my job runs neck and neck with my intolerance for knowledge narcissism. IT'S A VERY CROWDED RACETRACK.

Anyway, all matters being settled, now I think I'll round us up and go for a hike. I have all kinds of very important other matters, like drawing up and sending out invoices but getting paid sounds so very boring.

Off to shirk then.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Runaway Artist

There is an unbelievable lull in the day just now, without work, baby or other distractions. She is napping, I think. Sometimes she wakes up and chatters quietly to herself and then I might not immediately know that she is awake. More often she wakes up at full speed. But for the rightnow everything is quiet and I have a moment to myself.

Lately I'm casting about for a little bit of independence, just enough to tend to living. Still, sometimes when I stand up and walk around the house to oh, eat food, brush hair, have a chore - whatever - she becomes insanely needy. Anytime I am not enraptured with her, really. That's funny, because my drive to do most things seemingly not Thea-centric are mostly still Thea-centric most often motivated out of deep and compulsive need to tend to her, to provide her with things like clean floors and clean clothes. For Thea, that is unacceptably not Thea nibbling rapture and she really wont have it.

Unlike that is the same child who runs away as best she can, which isn't yet a worrisome labor. I mean, our pace ratio is significantly in my favor for at least now. Her running gait is a sort of swaying goose-step panting-huffle and she breaks into it when clothing is attempted, doors are left ajar, or anytime she is unleashed in the wide open. Also in the direction of pets.

Today I took her and Owen to the church yard a block away to throw the ball and she kept walking determinedly down the alley walk, away. She never once looked back. I am pretty certain, and am likely to perform experiments of stealth to confirm, that she would have just kept going if I hadn't run and collared her. I'm pretty sure she would just keep walking away.

getaway artist
Just me and my ball chucker

DO YOU THINK SHE COULD WALK FIVE MILES my husband joked when I told him. He doesn't think this is something with roots. He takes things for what they seem. For me, GOD it represents everything. Like everything does.
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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Well, Thea is one year old just now. Despite both Clark and I each having taken a trip to the ER during this last year, we made it without any trips to the emergency room for her, though just barely. She walks now, zombie-like, and as she made her way across the living room tonight she fell on her butt and chomped down hard on her tongue. I was on my way to a job and when Clark called me. I called the team I was working with that evening, apologized to her and turned the car back towards home. By the time I got there she was composed. The volumes, gallons, of gushing blood had ceased to gush and had been cleaned, clothes set to soak, medication administered, tears dried. Per the doctor there is no need to go to the hospital. We'll be feeding bland foods and giving her kisses. Otherwise, there isn't much to be done. The mouth heals quickly.


My mom is here visiting this week. She's standing in while I catch up on a years worth of sleep and Clark studies behind closed doors. He has been studying about 6 hours everyday after work, and 12-16 hours on the weekends. This has been our routine since the floors were done. I'm not happy about it. I'd like some help with the dishes and a conversation with my husband. I'll bet he would rather be doing the dishes too. By Saturday, if we did it right, he'll be a Certified Industrial Hygienist. It is the unsexiest job title in the world, the unlikely co-mingled impressions of impersonal-intimate and boring-icky come to mind. Still, any slight lead/volatile organic compound/radiation/asbestos irrational panic I have is usually handled with nerdy science talk, after which, the next day he'll bring home a 40 thousand dollar molecule-o-meter and zap readings all over the house, send in dirt samples and pat me on my irrational head. I appreciate it.

So, in the meantime, mom is here. I've taken three epic naps since she's been here.

More later. More on birthdays, this last year, this next year, life ahead. But later.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Mothers Day

moms
Mama


Mama

Sleeping is the most highly prized commodity here. I got a lot of it today. Then breakfast, flowers and coffee under the apple tree. We bought plants, planted them, hung bird feeders and filled them with seed. Did you hear that mom? SEED.

In the afternoon after the clouds rolled in and the temperature dropped I went running through the neighborhood with my posse. It was the best mothers day I have ever had.

mothers day run

Hope yours was too.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Unstoppable Object

Jump forward to now. Everything is different. Thea sleeps through the night, all night, in her own bed after minimal fuss and drama...at least, compared to what I was expecting... and now sleep deprivation can only be the fault of my own self who won't put herself to bed.

And now that she sleeps through the night, she wakes up at exactly 5am. It wouldn't be hyperbolic to say at the very second 5:00:00am. She is accurate like an atomic clock. I've found the easiest way around this problem is straight through, so on those days when I want to do things the easy way I just get up with her and get on with my day. Other days I try to bring her to bed with us and then suffer a miserable half-sleep that is a worse fate than death: being gouged, kicked at with shrieks of joy, hair pulled, head-butted and sometimes bit. Also, wrastling to keep her from leaping out the second story window.

Other things are different too. Everything, that is. She has taken some steps but still mostly holds on while making her way around. When you try to put her down on her feet, the lower half of her body arches and bucks and her feet take off, forcefully pushing off the surface to get somewhere before you can release her top half, and making it impossible to do so. Great care must be taken when setting her loose. It's a good thing our sizes are what they are to each other or we'd both be badly injured.

She also says (said twice) MAMA, but is most inspired by the kitty -DITTYDITTYDITTY. She signs MILK, DOG and sometimes MORE... pathetically few for the child of a sign language interpreter. She leans into my face with her drooly open mouth when I make kissing sounds. On Easter Sunday for the last time I spent the whole day making baby food. She has six teeth, and uses them to eat finger foods now... no more, that lovingly prepared organic veggie gruel I used to schlep in my kitchen.

Also, the mimicry has begun. She is doing things I didn't remotely think had caught her attention. She brushes her hair and puts my sunglasses on her face. It's friggn amazing and on top of that, unbelievably cute.

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But now, having prepared this to be posted on the internet, I have to address the nagging voice of dissent in my head. If you have read this far, Thea probably doesn't offend you. And if she does offend you but you read all this anyway, let me just say that if you met her at a party, you would like her. She would like you too, in a really satisfying way. So go easy, eh?

The other day I was working with another interpreter. Our client asked me about Thea and I made a short comment about how sweet and happy she was and whatever. My team started to say that she didn't want children, absolutely noteverwhatsoevernever because she doesn't like children and they are bad for the planet. She went on to say that people should adopt and not have their own kids and when I pointed out that adoption costs are prohibitive and the process time consuming she only shrugged and said so is having a baby.

Plus, I know everyone hates mommybloggers except they, their-selfcongratulatory-selves, and plenty of sniggering and derision happens on these internets in the general direction of people like myself.

I've actually given these opinions a lot of thought and fair consideration. The truth is, that two people having one child actually equals negative population growth. Of course, for the time being there are three where there were two but in the big picture the returns are diminishing, even accounting for my step-daughter, counting three people for a total of two offspring, or my step-daughter's other sister, three offspring for four people. Anyway, I don't think we'll be having another kid, no matter how much fun it's been (more even than two is absolutely out of the question), and even if we did [have two], we'd still only be replacing our own selves (stagnant growth). You can bet Thea will be raised with a similar conscientious ethic.

But that is sorta missing the point anyway. I don't have to justify for my colleague or for random internet cranks why I had a kid, or the fact that I love her like crazy. It's easy to make arguments against the having of offspring, from crass and hateful to complex and socially acceptable, and every time I say anything publicly about being a mom I hear all those harsh criticisms in my head. Maybe, in part, that's because I once made them myself, and I guess that's why I am mentioning it at all.

Still, it's my blog and I'll post whatever I damnwellplease.

Anyway, I'd be interested to hear other people's opinions about this matter. I wonder if I have lost any readers since having had a baby. I once had a stat counter but when I changed my format it dropped the code and I wouldn't even know where to go find it if I even had the time or interest to do so, so I have no idea the limits of the influence I wield. Minimal to be sure.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Moderator

Hi, sorry to the few people who like to comment here but I'm going to moderate comments from now on because some jerkwad in China keeps spamming me. WHOEVER YOU ARE I HATE YOU.

When I recently changed my blog after years and years with that The Most Lackluster of Presentations format to the second most lacking of luster formats of all times that I have now, I lost the haloscan code so all my old comments disappeared. They were still housed somewheres until Haloscan got rid of all freeloaders' comments FOREVER and, well, this is an awfully lonely blog now.

I just can't have the populating majority be spammers.

Anyway, it's pouring rain and all my houseplants are waiting outside under the fantastic impression that I am going to have the time to transplant them into nice clean pots with nutrient rich dirt. HAHA.

I am terrified now that they'll all become trojan-horses for the invading slug army and my sanctuary in this hostile slime-land will be invaded. I do love it here, rain and petulant skies the most, but there is always that lurking horrible menace. Over time, the instinct to fear has not lessened at all.

I took my niece to get her lip pierced last weekend for her 18th birthday, then sent her back to college on the greyhound.



I waited standing at the counter commiserating with the tattoo artist about the nighttime habits of babies. It relieves me to know I'm not the only irredeemable failure, derelict in the administration of my boundaries and lacking the vigor to hear a baby cry out... to hear it told. I was so judgmental on this matter once! Ask my friend Kate!!

I really am embarrassed about it.

head on fire

Anyway, comment moderation. It's a lonely job.

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Has it really been a more than a month since I posted? We're a little busy around here with our million-watt baby and the attending storm of tiny disasters. Thea is practically a toddler which means head bonkage and danger lust. This freaks me out a little bit, sentimentally and too because of the vigilance required overseeing these negotiations. If you met her I wouldn't have to tell you that she is a very intense person. Add that she has been trapped in a neurological prison and you might get an idea of the kind thriving will I am talking about.



I haven't had much experience with babies for the last couple decades, not since my brother John was one. In my memory, he was such a sweet, rosy-cheeked baby with blond nap-hair fluffed up on the back of his head. I can't hardly picture him without a halo. Sweet, sweet John. He and Anita are expecting their first baby this August.



Anyway, we've been sick here. Real sick. Everyone has a prescription, if not two. Inhalers, antibiotics, cough syrup and pain medications. I was the last to fall but a few days ago I got the chills and a wet cough. Then I woke up yesterday morning, Sunday, with a riotous ear infection hours before the Immediate Care clinic opened. I sat in their parking lot with one eye squeezed shut listening to the whoosh of blood in my ear not thinking at all.



Segue to nowhere: Thea's third tooth came in yesterday and she's feeling bitey. Right now, I have the cat and dog to protect.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Construction

I'm in Seattle, falling asleep in a chair. I came yesterday to my uncle's house where my mom is pet-sitting, and tomorrow will take her with me back to Portland. The whole point of the trip is to have her take care of my little Thea monkey while Clark and I put our life back together. I am giddy with the hope of extra sleep.

There was a problem with the floors though... of course there was a problem with the floors... and the house is full of fumes and sticky varnish. We are living out of suitcases at my in-laws house, have been for two weeks and probably will for an indeterminate short while more.



Who knows what this means yet, if we'll end up having to do all the work of moving back in without the help or if, pleaseplease, we can have it done before my mom flies back home.


chicken encounter

We never did finish the painting, by the way, so once we do move back into our house, after we retrieve our implements of householding from the basement and crawlspaces, we'll have to re-drape them with drop clothes and don again our scrubby clothes.

Clark and I both agree, after the floors, walls and ceilings are done, we won't aspire to accomplish anything for the remainder of the year.


I'm living with an 8 month old teenager.

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