Thursday, August 30, 2012

The stuff in between

Perhaps you know what repointing is?

If not, it's when you remove the old cement from between bricks and put new cement in. It's a labor-intensive, messy process.

I myself had never heard of it until we bought a 110-year old house which, among other everythings, needed to be repointed. So much cement had taken leave of our house that in some places, luck was just holding the walls together.

It never occurred to me that cement between bricks wouldn't be forever. I mean, it's cement, right? It is not something to which one pays much attention, you know? It's just there because it's there.

But it turns out to be just there just holding up your house. It keeps it all together.

And time and weather and what-have-you chip away at it. You can let it go to a certain point, and then you really really have to tend to it.


I myself have gotten thin on mortar lately. My fortitude has been eroding in such little, but continuous flakes, that I hadn't really noticed. I'm not underwater yet, but I'm heading there.

I walk a thin line in life. You know this about me. I'm an up-and-down-er, buffeted by the vicissitudes of life. Nick, he is strong like bull. Me, I'm rather a delicate flower.

I need a lot of sleep. I need to exercise regularly. I need sunshine. And I need to eat well. As long as I can maintain most of those things most of the time, I do well. My friend Mr. Zoloft gives me a little leeway.

But with a delicious little girl who wakes up a lot, I've rarely gotten more than three or four hours of sleep in a row since she was born 18 (19? I can't count) weeks ago. I know 18 or 19 weeks is not that old...but I am old. I'm too old for this.

There have been a few nights where she's woken up only once, at 2:00 or 3:00 am, and slept until 6:00. This was fantastic.

HOWEVER. Lately, she's been up five or six times a night.

I've been nursing her to stop the crying, although lately Nick has been going in and soothing her so we can break her of all the night nursing. She doesn't need it. She's just used to it.

But he can't manage all night. He works way too much to be a zombie.

I need repointing, stat. Because I woke up a couple mornings ago thinking how much I hate my life. I've had this thought a number of times since then.

And I love my family, and I love my life. Just not right now. I know this isn't coming from a place of rationality.

I'm constantly on the verge of tears. I'm angry and impatient and I just hate everyone. Myself most of all.

I've upped my Zoloft, with my doctor's blessing. I'm still on a very low dose, so there's room to go up - but I don't want to just keep pumping more drugs into myself and my milk just to keep myself from falling apart.

I returned to the office on Monday.  Today one of my colleagues dropped a piece of ice in the kitchen, and it landed near my foot. He told me not to move while he got it, lest I slip.

And I thought, oh, but if I slipped, maybe I'd wind up with a concussion, or something else bad but not life-threatening, and then they'd put me in the hospital for at least a day or two, wouldn't they? I could sleep and sleep!

There would be no infant waking repeatedly in the next room! No potty and meal negotiations! Nobody would scream at me for buttering his toast on the wrong side! Nobody would neeeeeeed me for anything!

You know, a friend of mine and I were extolling the virtues of epidurals after I gave birth. And she said she thought it would be lovely if you could just go in and get one when you were havnig a terrible day. Just check out.

It really would. You'd have that slightly out it warm feeling, and you'd be all, "Sorry, I can't help you with that. I can't feel my legs. So could you pass the remote and get me something to drink?"

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Which would just be terribly awkward for all involved

So I don't know if you've ever sat in your cube and contemplated how you might furtively squirt breast milk onto your finger? Or really, any part of your body, for that matter.

Because here's the thing. I sliced the tippy tip of my little finger with a scissor. This turns out to be a particularly inconvenient cut, because my wee finger is too small for the finger bandages we have, and it's hard to type with a band aid anyway. But it's a spot that re-opens easily.

And since breast milk is magic - seriously - I realized that I had this amazing resource right at my fingertips.

Now, one of my boobs is all, "Oh, pick me, pick me!" enthusiastic. That one has been known to squirt through a T-shirt. Sometimes India will pull off and she has these sprinklers of milk dousing her little face. She blinks all sweetly and confusedly.

The enthusiastic boob, however, is on the finger-cut side. The other one will rise to the occasion for India, but you really have to cajole it for pumping.

The reluctant boob would be the one I'd have to use. It wouldn't be quick and easy.

So I pictured myself sitting at my desk, shirt up, bra unhooked, squeeezing my boob, working to coax a few drops of milk onto my pinky finger...and having a colleague stop by.

What would you even say? "Hi! Want, uh, some milk?"

Awk. Ward. Horror.

So I toughed it out and waited until the pumping - the dread pumping, in the "quiet room" - and then used a little for medicinal purposes.

In other words: I'm back at the office. And, hi!

Monday, August 27, 2012

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

Big things have been a-happening in our little world!
First, India started taking a bottle. We went away for Nick’s work retreat, and all the adults were going out for dinner, leaving the gaggle kids with babysitters. I was worried about leaving her, just knowing she’d have a fit and not take a bottle and it would be traumatic and tragic for all involved.

And lo, the seas parted, and she took a bottle like it was no big thing and was sound asleep when I got back to the hotel. And then she drank a couple more over the weekend, all casual-like.

Personally, I think she’s seen us eating and drinking and has begun viewing these things with increasing interest, and decided, “What the hell? Could be fun.”

Tra la!

Also! Equally big news! Jordan went to day care in UNDERWEAR today. He’s been using the potty for the last couple days.

He’s known for quite a while when he needs to pee and poop, but he’s been afraid of the potty and the toilet. But I got him these delightful Cars undies, and he loves them so. I gave them to him on his birthday, and honest to God, he attended his party in a T-shirt and underwear. There was no way to get him to put on pants.

“Is that Lightening McQueen? Oh, yeth!”

That lasted a couple hours and then he wanted the safety of a diaper and then hell no he was not putting them on the next morning for day care.

Around the house, however? Delighted, as long as there was no pressure.  Nick would suggest he put on his Cars underwear and they could sit on the couch together and watch Cars. That kind of thing, he was totally up for.

So the underwear.
Oh, and admittedly more importantly, we upped the ante. Nick went and offered him a backhoe if he would poop in the potty.
Seriously. One poop, and you get a whole truck. This kind of offer does not come around often.

Thus, and after rejecting M&Ms and stickers left and right, it suddenly seemed worth it.

So he screwed his courage to the sticking-place, held Nick’s hands, stared deeply into Nick’s eyes, as his father told him that he believed in him, and he knew he could do it…and jubilation! He did it!

The fanfare! The excitement! Betty and I were summoned to view the contents of the potty and exclaim upon it. The pride! Oh, the pride!

If you don't think they didn't have to wipe his butt and head immediately to Toys R Us, you do not know my boys.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The threeness of three

Oh, my Jordan, you are three. Three three three!
I have to say, I love this age. You can be incredibly infuriating, but mostly you are charming. Seriously, oh so charming.

You regularly thank us for dinner, or for your socks, or for turning on the light. It's random, because you don't always say thanks when you should. But when you do, it is so sincere and emphatic.

And you commend us for all kinds of things. "Good job eating your oatmeal, Mommy!" "Oh, Nana! Good job pouring my milk!"

You constantly amaze me with your sentence construction. The other day you said, in reference to a proffered potty training reward, "And then I can get a new dump truck that works that doesn't have broken wheels."

I find this rather sophisticated.

You have an adorable lisp, in which you substitute S for TH - although not with all words. For example, when you're yelling, "Lisa! Liiiiiiiisa!" to get my attention, it's not present. But when you say "Yeth," well, there it is.

I don't encourage or discourage it, and I assume you'll grow out of it. For now, I think it's so cute.

There are words that have gone away, and I miss them.

For example, as a way to encourage you to drain the tub, Dad taught you that taking out the plug created a whirlpool. This put a stop to end-of-bath histrionics. And then you would say "whooya pooya" over and over - but that's gone the way of so many other words that you can now pronounce properly.

You still call the back room the background, and I think we will always refer to it that way.

You still love the vehicles, and you know one from another, and if I call a front loader a backhoe, you notice and correct.
I was going to be the parent who fed her kid vegetables, who had a child with a varied palate and I was so pleased that you would eat whatever we put in front of you. Right after you turned one, we took Nana to Cashions for her birthday, and you ate all of her foie gras.

Oh, so sophisticated!

And now, now my friend, your food repertoire consists of mac and cheese (preferably the boxed kind), grilled cheese, pasta with butter and salt and pepper (which reminds me - you used to call it satupapa!), the occasional hot dog or sausage, eggs, waffles, pancakes, toast, cereal, bananas, berries, and mangoes. You adore mangoes.

I think that covers it. Oh, and chocolate and goldfish and ice cream. Naturally.

Everything else is examined and deemed "yucky" - without a taste. This infuriates your father. I have to remind him that his parents made him sit at the table for hours on end trying to force him to eat his soggy, overcooked vegetables. He'd sit there till midnight, and they'd remain uneaten.

You come by your stubbornness honestly, I should mention.

You love inviting people over, and you're always saying, "Want to come to my house?" Once I heard you offer dinner to a little friend: "We can have macaroni and cheese! It's delicious!"

She was enticed. You have wonderful friends, you really do.

Now you love word play and it's so fun to make you giggle. You're into Thomas the Train, and sometimes I call you Sir Topham PANTS! instead of Sir Topham Hat, and you hasten to correct me, but you squeal with delight at things like this.

Dad taught you to say "okey dokey" and you find this hilarious. You also love referring to people as "jokers" -  as a compliment.

Once it was firmly established that India would not be going away, you got very sweet with her. You regularly tell her you're going to play together when she's bigger.

Your sharing usually has an ulterior motive (someone else's looks better than yours - so you offer to switch) but sometimes you share so kindly with another child that it squeezes my heart.

Recently you learned that you enjoy being naked, you love being in a pool, and you revel in peeing outside. The potty training is going slowly, and you've said no thanks to bribes of M&Ms and stickers - two things you adore! - in attempts to get you to sit on the potty.

It would be a completely skewed missive if I didn't mention that you do have the ability to enrage me so much that I contemplate chucking you bodily out the door. Sometimes I'm pretty sure my head is actually going to explode, you frustrate me so.

But I don't chuck you and my head remains intact, and the fact of the matter is that no matter what you do, I'm going to love you so crazy much forever and ever.

Which reminds me. You're so used to me saying, "I love you SO much!" that now when I ask you how much I love you, you get a little twinkle and say, "NO much!" and we go back and forth with the no and so.

You know I love you SO MUCH and every once in a while, you tell me you love me SO MUCH as well. I can see on your sweet little face that it's true.

And when you look at me like that, it's a wonder that rainbows and puppies and sunshine don't just fly out of my chest and rain down on you.

I believe in this world that you really have to work to get and keep treasures. And once in a while, you just get lucky.

I got so lucky with you.

Love love love,
Mama (AKA Mommy. And Lisa! Liiiiiisa!)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Jordan's birthday party

Why did I fret so about party games for three-year olds?

Because really, if you can spend the bulk of your birthday party in your Lightening McQueen underwear (UNDERWEAR, briefly!!) lying on the floor playing with cars, and none of your guests find this bizarre, you are dealing with the kind of audience that doesn't require games.
Also, if you're entertaining an audience that gets so excited at the sight of your cake that when it's time to blow out the candles, they blow them out, well, the bar is low.

Candles are easy to relight. We just had to gently remind over-eager guests to let Jordan blow out his own candles.

We had a small party - several of Jordan's day care friends and a couple other kids we really like. Jordan tends to get overwhelmed when there are too many people or unfamiliar faces, and I wanted this to be easy and comfortable for him. A few older siblings came along, but Jordan knows them from day care drop-offs and pick-ups and so they were fine.

They spent the first half of the party playing with cars and trains and eating blueberries and chips off the train table in the back room. They spent the rest of the party eating pizza and cake and running around with balloons. 
We had mimosas for adults, as I've come to believe that no matter how much you love your children, and even the children of close friends, alcohol should be an option at gatherings of the little banshees.

Especially if you're going to pump them full of juice, cake, and ice cream.

Especially if your own child has had nothing but juice, cake, and ice cream the entire day commemorating his birth. 

Not surprisingly, Jordan was the first to melt down and leave the party in the arms of his father for a nap. I went to check on him and ask him if he'd had fun, and he said, "Oh, yes! Thank you, Mommy! Thank you for the birthday party!"

Melt my heart.

I told him his friends had gone home for their own naps, to which he responded, "And when I wake up, they'll come back for more birthday party!"

Oh, my sweetness. No. Thank the good lord no.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Games little people play

By little people I do mean my soon-to-be three-year old and his little friends, rather than little people as in little people.

Because while I am prone to sweeping generalizations, they don't tend to be along the "stuff white people like" lines. So I would never be all, little people? They love to play Monopoly. For example. Unlike big people. Who tend to enjoy Backgammon. And red meat.

That is, as far as I can tell from the one giant data point with whom share my life.

Anyway, I don't actually know anything about little people. At least, not more than I learned while watching that documentary with the not-dead-dwarf baby. Perhaps fortunately for Nick, dwarfism isn't so present in my mind as a topic along with rabies and raccoons.

And on a side bar, Nick had a girlfriend who once introduced him to one of her friends with, "This is John. You're both tall."

To which I would now add, "Perhaps you'd like a bratwurst?"

Which leads me to Curious George. Why doesn't he have a tail? And seriously, what is the deal with the man with the yellow hat? It's not just a yellow hat. He wears an entire yellow outfit, with his yellow pants tucked into his boots.

The hell?

Anyway. Jordan's birthday is on Sunday. We are having a little party for him. We were thinking some kids, some food some cake...

And then the other night he said, "Daddy, I know what birthday parties are! Curious George had a birthday! You have decorations and hats and cake and games!"

Oh, right. Of course!

So I asked my nursing-about-town friend if she'd like to go to the party store in Bailey's Crossroad and she asked if it was the gay pickup one. Because apparently one of them is, or used to be.

If it was, it wasn't clearly so on a Tuesday at noon.

We got an assortment of Cars-related stuff, as Jordan has always been an automobophile, or whatever you might call someone who loves all things vehicle-related, and is currently enamored of Lightening McQueen and his pals. Seriously. We'll be walking down the street and he'll say, "Hey, there's your car, Mama!"

When to me it is indistinguishable from numerous other old silver Civics. Unless I look up close. Or use the horn-honker on my key ring.

But I'm stuck on games. What kind of games do three-year olds play?

Monday, August 13, 2012

Lisa's had more birthdays than there are sad country songs about trying to love two women and only taking one girl home

Nick woke me up this morning with a flat, square package, wrapped in red and gold paper. Jordan had helped him tape it. There was lots and lots of tape.

I have had a lot of birthdays and have received a lot of gifts. But inside this box was one of the best presents I have ever, ever gotten. It made me cry, in the good way.
Nick came across this note from my dad while going through storage boxes, and had it framed for me.

My dad had tried to commit suicide that spring, and was nearly dead when the EMTs found him. He was in the hospital for two months. It was a rough year, although things were better, much better, by the time my birthday arrived.

Coincidentally, this sweet note was written three months before I met Nick. My dad's birthday wish for me came true that year.

My India was hanging out on the bed, and and just after I unwrapped this, my Jordan came running into the room and said, "Happy birthday, Mama!"

I'm loved and lucky. And I hope you are, too.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Pants-Off Dance-Off

These past two months have been huge for Jordan. Huge.

First, we got rid of the Cold Pants. Wait, this calls for caps: WE GOT RID OF THE COLD PANTS!!!

Every once in a while both pairs would be too dirty to wear, and we could cajole our boy into shorts. So Nick suggested we just say the cold pants were dirty every day.

Fortunately Jordan bought it, rather than being all, "Then do some fucking laundry, why don't you?"
He still asks for them when he's really tired and going down for a nap. But otherwise, we are in shorts! Which is of course fantastic. Because I kid you not, this was him in July. If you enlarge the photo you will see the beleaguered state of the Cold Pants.

Also, he wanted the jacket because, although I pointed out that it was VERY HOT, he said, "But when it's done being hot, it's going to be cold."

He had a point. Plus, he's happy to remove a jacket in the heat. Just not the Cold Pants.


Last week we went to a friend's house for a long weekend. This friend has a yard.

And here's what we learned: Jordan totally knows when he needs to pee. And poop. He just doesn't like the idea of the toilet or the potty.

By "doesn't like" I in fact mean gets all kinds of worked up, ranging from whining to actual hysteria. Like some giant hand is going to reach up out of the toilet and grab his crotch and pull him down into the pipes. Or something along those lines.

I haven't asked if that's his fear, because why suggest, right?

But! Butt!

Much like my brother and me and our Bangladesh childhood antics, this kid loves to pee outside! And so we did a lot of nakey nakey time.

He loves nakeytime! He loves to pee on plants! He can leap up and say, "I'll be right back!" and run out the screen door and pee! And then come back and go about his day.

So I thought, why not see if he'll poop outside as well? He was game for it so out to the yard we traipsed.

I did manage to get him to squeeze out two little turds. We were so proud. (Yes, I've horrified a couple of my friends with this admission. Feel free to be horrified.)

Now that we're back, it's all pull-ups and diapers, all the time. No fucking way is he going to let loose on the potty or toilet.

Nick suggested we put a big shrub on our back deck so we can continue the outside potty training, but really. No. Just no.

Because then what? We get him a special wagon to haul his pee-shrub around with him?

But I still see this as progress.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

I got 99 problems but a boob ain't one

When I say we've tried approximately 537 types of bottles what I really mean is we are getting down to the fucking wire here, and if little miss sugarpoops would just oblige and drink from a goddamn bottle, it would make me feel a hell of a lot better.

I might even cut down on the motherfucking profanity.

Jordan didn't care where his food came from. Boob? Sure. Bottle? Why not? We used Dr. Browns for the most part, but genuinely, he did not care.

This kid, after taking a bottle about every other week starting just after three weeks, which is when the pediatrician told us to start, one day just said fuck it. No. More. Bottles!

She said it LOUDLY. For hours.

Then I read something about excess lipase in one's frozen breast milk, making it taste sour or soapy. So I tasted a sip of my frozen milk. It tasted sour.

However. I'm also highly suggestible. If I read a description of wine that talks about undercurrents of cigar box and magnolia shrubs, I can always taste them. I wasn't the best candidate for hypnosis, but I'm clearly susceptible.

We tried with freshly-squozen breast milk.

Nope. No way.

So then we decided to just try formula in the bottle. Whole nother experience!

Nothing doing.

Besides Dr. Browns we have Medela, and Avent, and Adiri. We've tried a sippy cup. At the suggestion of Miss Dallas, I ordered this fancy boob-shaped bottle. Naturally, I had to immediately pull it out of the box, place it to the side of my boob and ask Nick what he thought about my profile.

Nick was amused, but then asked sceptically, "Do you really think you're going to trick her with that?"

I can't remember what I said in return, but I'm pretty sure it had the asshole word in it.

Which matters not one bit because India was all, "I spit on your fake boob! Fuck you! Give me the real thing NOW RIGHT NOW I MEAN RIGHT RIGHT NOW OR I WILL SCREAM MY TOOTHLESS HAIRLESS LITTLE HEAD OFF!"

I discussed this with our daycare director, whom I adore. She said their hardest case refused a bottle for three weeks. She sees that as worst-case scenario. She assured me this will not happen.

However, she added, if India goes for four weeks, they will not be able to keep her.

This is fair. Just, you know, frightening.

So far, cajoling hasn't worked. A stranger giving her the bottle hasn't worked. Threats muttered under my breath have gotten me nowhere. Same with pleading and bribery.

She comes by her stubbornness honestly. But still.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Additionally, I'm also a grate speller too

I don't know if it's post-pregnancy or sleep deprivation or just the way things go, but anymore, I retain information for approximately 15 minutes.

And I can't remember words.  And I'm regularly unsure of whether I said something out loud or just in my head. Seriously. I'm constantly all: Did I just ask her if she wanted a drink out loud? Or did I just think it?

It can make conversation with me a little awkward. You might think that I really really want you to have a glass of water, for example.

So a couple weeks ago, I had coffee a woman I'd met a while ago through a mutual friend. I liked her and her husband when I met them, and they a daughter about Jordan's age, but we never got together as they were moving away. Turns out they moved back, and I ran into her and her husband on the street one day.

We discovered we both had second children born days apart, and arranged to meet up at Tryst to talk about all things new mothery and such.

The day we met I was having a particularly vocabularly-challenged kind of day. Like, we were talking about our deliveries, and I could not for the life of me come up with the word anesthesiologist. In situations like this, I do a version of out-loud charades. I gesticulate and pantomime and describe.

"You know, the person with the needle, and the pain medicine and they make you sit still..."

(Seven syllables, first syllable...)



I can't remember the other stellar example, but genuinely, it was something like ice cube.

"You know, it's square and cold and you put it in drinks..."

Here I feel compelled to mention that this woman is extremely intelligent, has a law degree from somewhere impressive, and is friends with a number of my crazy-smart friends.


We wound up talking about everything pregnancy and childbirth and the challenges of juggling a toddler and a newborn. Which led to a discussion of drinking during pregnancy and nursing.

She said that a friend of hers didn't drink at all during her pregnancy or the entire time she nursed, which was well over a year. She contended that her friend's child - the same age as her first daughter and my son - was clearly smarter than her daughter. And she wondered if this ought to be attributed to alcohol consumption, no matter how minimal.

I said, "You know, I drank wine while I was pregnant with Jordan, and while I was nursing. He's pretty sharp and he has terrific language skills."

Then I realized that I probably sounded like one of those assholey ooh my kid is sooo amazing kinds of parents.

So I added, "I think he takes after me. I have to use my fingers and toes to do math, but language has always been my strong suit."

Pregnant pause...

Ice cube! Anesthesiologist? Four syllables, sounds like drink of water? Unless I already said that out loud?