Monday, December 31, 2007

Year in Review

Best year ever, so far. Some highs:

January 3rd, 2007. Monito's first photo at the amnio which proved him healthy:

May 5 - 6: Homestead Mama and I celebrate our 7th anniversary. We picked a weekend instead of a day - always guaranteed a Saturday night. Things just keep getting better. I am ever assured that I waited for the right woman.

June 14th, 2007. Monito is born.
Pequita turned 1 year old, with tutu.
Some lows:

C-section instead of natural birth. Six weeks of no picking up my hefty daughter = awful.

I lost an old friend of 14 years.
Other bloggers are tallying their picks and pans from the year. I'll play.

Best Movies: Are you kidding, with two babies? Do CSI reruns count? Homestead Mama and I are going to live on the wild side tomorrow and ring in the new year by renting the DVD of the latest Harry Potter movie. I wonder if it is out on DVD.
Best books: The Time Traveler's Wife, Playful Parenting, Siblings Without Rivalry.
Best Music: Steve Earle's Washington Street Serenade, Rough Guide's African Music for Children, Cuban Lullaby.
Best new recipe: Penne pasta with a sun dried tomato garlic sauce served over steamed spinach. Takes only minutes, all pantry items, and delicious.
Best new skill: Breastfeeding. Hands down.

Good Morning

I feel like I have just awakened from a long winter's nap. The holidays - a full three weeks for us - were wonderful and rich with family & friends, traditions old and new, and much love and consumption of chocolate and egg nog. I was also overtired, overstimulated, overly sick, all of which hampered my abilities to fully embrace it all. The Thanksgiving cold will go down in infamy for us. The whole family got it, and we are all still getting over it.

I have been too (pick an adjective - any adjective) to blog. Over the past few days, though, the ideas and inspirations for posts have returned. I'll be back in full swing shortly.

In the meantime, I'll leave you with a story from the holidays. It is copied from an email my dad sent out - sorry for the copyright infringement, Pops. In the picture you can see the gift I gave him - a t-shirt with the Pint symbol on it, and little t-shirts with the half-pint symbol for each of the three grandbabies to wear. It was a hit.

From Grandpa:

We had an event that will enter into family folklore started by young Monito. For 40 years, I’ve been throwing young babies around and their mothers (and grandmothers) have sternly admonished me that the baby would spit up. I’ve always laughed it off and rarely had any spit up on me. People seem to recall that when I hand the baby back, it promptly spits up on the mother, although I usually hold them and play for many minutes so I’m thinking this is random.

However yesterday, Monito, at six months, was gleefully jumping on my lap – having just started to really use his legs – when he spit up his occasional 4-6 ounces of partially digested milk. [Editor's note: that would be the equivalent of a full bottle. Perhaps it was closer to a couple of ounces, max. I'm sure, coming at him in 3-D, it seemed like 6 ounces to Grandpa.] Caught me square in the face, I ingested some, got some down my neck inside my shirt, and soaked up some in my lap. He was grinning all through this and the mothers and grandmothers were hooting and laughing. I gasped out for a couple of chocolate-covered liquor candies from my stocking and got the gag reflex suppressed. At the end of the event, it was more like slightly sour yogurt. The washer/dryer solved the clothing problem and a couple new shirts and sweaters were immediately pressed into service. Monito went on smiling at everyone and I got my appetite back after a few minutes.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Dwindling Pack

When I moved in with Homestead Mama, we had a combined total of four large dogs, seven cats and four parrots. It was nuts, but the pack was peaceful and well behaved. My goal was always to get down to two dogs, at least one of which was a mouser/ratter to keep the yard clear of small furry things with designs on wintering over inside our farmhouse.

All of my pets from Before (before meeting Homestead Mama, that is) have died. My lovely lab shepherd mix, Maggie, was a huge black sweetheart. She survived Parvo virus at 5 months old, getting hit by two cars and being lost for a week. She picked and ate raspberries off the bush by herself - I'd find her wandered off in our old yard grazing at the garden berry bushes, deftly avoiding the thorns. She slept with a part of her body touching mine at all possible times, and guarded me and my house with a ferocity that made me feel safer than at any other time in my life.

Misha, my cat who raised Maggie like a father and was one of a very few cats I liked, died at 22 years old a couple years ago. He was an amazing hunter, and could grab a fly out of the air three feet off the ground with his paw. He preferred to sleep in the bowl of cast iron sinks in the summer for the cool comfort.

Moody, my frisky little Cattle dog mix just died last year. I miss him daily. He was a funny little dog, nicknamed 'the mayor' for his habit of greeting each person in a room/ park/ car/ wherever he went. Now that Pequita is eating solid foods, he would be kept busy. He is the only pooch I've met who preferred veggies and fruit to meat; all the grapes and bit of banana that I find squashing under my slippers he would have eaten. He was the most gentle of all the dogs, and would have slept next to the baby, letting his fur be pulled as much as Monito wanted. He was the kind of dog that would have tolerated Pequita dressing him up in outfits. He died of a mix of old dog ailments.

Homestead Mama lost her shepherd mix Cherokee a few winters ago, to a freakish autoimmune disruption when Cherry was five. She was the smartest dog I've ever known, Cherry would patrol the house after we went to sleep and eat everything that she could find - pies on the counter, crumbs on the couch, feminine products in the trash can. She defended the car with everything she had - if we passed another animal, she would bark and paw at the window as if trying to dig her way out of the car - she was 80 lbs, so her pawing would sound like the window was going to pop out of the car, frequently startling passers-by and scaring the animal in question. While Cherry was very social and not at all bloodthirsty, she chased a deer across our property until it experienced death-by-Ford on our street. Cherry sat proudly by her 'kill' while H-mama returned to the house for the tools she needed to gut the deer and bring home the venison. (Growing up in the Adirondacks had advantages.)

Homestead Mama has also lost four cats in the years since I moved in. Bubelah, Dr. Seuss, Sasha and Marlena. I don't like cats much, and never really warmed up to these. She also finally agreed to find new homes for all four parrots in the last couple years.

Yes, our house was full of beating hearts when we first got together. I am most pleased that attrition has shrunk our numbers, because even though we love animals we had way too many. I'm even more pleased to be replacing the pets with babies.

We are left with two aging cats and two wonderful dogs, Cody, who has been with H-mama for nine years, and Luna who we rescued together. We found out on Thursday that Cody has a malignant carcinoma in her thyroid. We cannot justify spending the $3000+ that it would cost to try to save her, so we're giving her an NSAID that could slow the growth of the tumor and keep her more comfortable for her last weeks/ months. It is a huge blow to H-mama, and will be very difficult for Luna who is an extremely social three years old. We'll end up getting another dog as a companion for Luna, but this is going to be a very hard transition. I waffle between teary and sad at the thought of the hole Cody will leave in our household, and worried about house training another dog if we decide we need to get one right away. I barely have time now to feed the pets we have. Wait and see, I suppose. I have a bad habit of trying to count chickens before they are hatched.

Holidays are here

And here I am, awake and blogging at 1:08 am. My Thanksgiving cold is still with me in the form of a raspy tickley cough that I dosed an hour ago with H-mama's Vicodin cough medicine; our OB said it is one of the safer alternatives for pregnant and nursing women with very bad coughs. It makes me loopy and disrupts my deep sleep a bit, leaving me happy, fuzzy and warm-feeling all night but then exhausted the next day. After the third time I woke up the kids coughing, though, I needed to do something. H-mama is still much worse than me, having started a week later. She is exhausted and her voice comes and goes; today was her last day of work until January 3rd, thank goodness. She needs the rest!

My parents arrived this past Tuesday, and the time has really rushed by. I had very little done for the holidays before they got here. I had decorated a bit and baked 150 sugar cookies, and tidied up. Since they've arrived we've cleaned, shopped, wrapped presents, and put up a tree - a concolor fir, H-Mama's favorite, with its tangerine-scented needles - with rudimentary decorations and the single string of lights I could find after major searching. I swear, somewhere in the house or garage I have thousands of linear feet of white twinkle lights, but I could only find a single 30-foot strand. Thankfully it is enough, and combined with the blue shiny & sparkly unbreakable ball ornaments we bought a few years back, the tree looks lovely. Pequita is enchanted, and is quite respectful of the ornaments. She touches them, and pull one off every now and then, but it is all so pretty and new that she is happy to just look. There are scant few nice ornaments for interest. One thing on the tree is a small glow-in-the-dark frog that Pequita was carrying around when we put up the tree. I tucked in on a strong inner branch where you can see it easily, and she loves to peek at Froggy. She asks to hold him then to have me replace him in his cozy home repeatedly all day long. She loves to hold him, but clearly get some satisfaction from knowing where he is on the tree. Last Thursday she finally understood and started using our question gesture, upturned hands about shoulder level, head tilted and a "Huh?" word to indicate that she can't find something. Today she looked at the tree and saw no frog. She did her "Huh?" thing, and I knew exactly what she wanted - where's Froggy? I said, "I don't know where you left him. Do you want help finding Froggy?" and she grabbed my hand and pulled me after her to look for him. She's 14 months old, and we are having short wordless conversations. It is thrilling. Makes my heart well up.

Monito likes very much to nurse down for his nap gazing at the twinkling lights. They make him giggle and point. He started turning his head away with his eyes following the tree until he can barely see it, then rushing his face back into a full view of the tree and hooting with pleasure. He is a real treat, this kid. My mom cannot believe how peaceful, smiley and complacent he is in general.

With my extremely helpful mom here visiting, I am realizing how many more routines I have in place than I thought. I have systems for everything, and they are faster a lot of times than when other folks try to help. It is, however, lovely to have company. My mom is willing to rise early just to take the kids so I can sleep in. I haven't taken her up on it yet (foolish, I know) but I intend to eke out all the naps I can before all our company leaves. Dad is busy working on a project on his new computer which he set up on a card table in the nursery, but he come out for meals and some socializing here and there. He says he'll stop working tomorrow when my sister and her partner and my adorable nephew arrive on Saturday or Sunday, which is fine. I did manage to get him to come down for a movie last night, Big Eden, a very sweet gay movie. Tonight Dad saw his first episode of The Girls Next Door and he thought it was a hoot. Homestead Mama and I watch it once in a while for the cheesecake and to marvel at the sweetness of Bridget and the stupidity of Kendra. That girl is really dumb as a post - I don't think any amount of cruel editing could make her look as bad as she does on her own. She's very lucky to have the physical attributes she was blessed with; a job at the Dairy Queen would tax her brain.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

No Time For Games

Except maybe this one.  (Thanks, J!)

Chat Noir
Kitty can't pass dark colored dots; Kitty escapes and you lose if he makes it to an edge. Click the light dots to turn them dark and try to make a wall to keep Kitty in; Kitty gets one move for each click you make. Good luck.

http://www.gamedesign.jp/flash/chatnoir/chatnoir.html

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Ooops...sorry

So sorry for leaving the blog unattended for so long. I have been a bit busy. House guests, holiday prep, illness, you know, regular Christmas things. I actually had to visit my own blog to see where I left off. Pitiful.

Breathing update - with only two nebulizer treatments and time to heal, Monito is just fine. I am irritated with my doctor still. He could have said, "Let's treat Monito's wheezing with some asthma meds and keep an eye on it. We'll watch in future to see if it develops into anything worse than situational wheezing."

So our visit with Canadian Friend & family went well. She was my favorite housemate from years back, and even with our two and her toddler added to the mix it is still easy to have her around. I find it infinitely pleasant to wake up and have a good friend sitting across the table from me while we drink tea and gently welcome the day with companionship. Or welcome the day with hot cereal being smeared in a 13-month old's hair and screaming, but at least with a friendly face across the table. Homestead Mama is lovely to wake to as well, but the weekend mornings when we get to linger over food and hot drinks are over too quickly. Canadian Friend's partner handed in her dissertation (Yeah! Way to go!) and they were off for a Midwestern holiday with their family.

In the past, we've put electric candle lights in each window for the holidays. Not so last year or this year - too much work, too many cords for babies to suck the lead off, and I just can't imagine the putting back of it all. This is a problem, as we are hosting the holidays for my family this year, and our contractor can't come and install our new window trim until after the holidays. This means we have ugly jagged holes in which our windows sit (granted, they've been like this for the six years it has taken me to realize that I won't do it myself, but once I got excited to have it done I wanted it done NOW). The candles drew the eye away from the unpleasing aspects. To accommodate my need for a semblance of beauty and holiday spirit, I took on a craft project and I was gifted an hour of non-crying time by our kids during which I made buntings for each and every first floor window. Monito enjoyed the sound of the sewing machine quite a bit. You can see my old sewing machine, a Viking 150, in the shadow on the table. I received it as a high school graduation present from my parents 20 years ago, and it finally needed a tune up, only being willing to sew in a straight line. A girl needs her zigzag stitch, so I was willing to be without it for a couple weeks while she got fixed. I had a spot of trouble at the shop, though. I must have been in a caffeine-induced fugue state upon entering, and when I came to I was loading the Viking #1 into the back of my car. Wha? It was top of the line a few years ago, and some poor idiot traded it in for a new top of the line machine to the tune of $6000. That's right, a new Viking sewing machine costs as much as a nice used car. I got it for about the same cost as a nice outfit, top-to-toe. (All right, I wear expensive shoes.) I am still getting used to the new addition to the house. I'm calling her Brunhilda, since it is that seems a good Viking name. Sews like a dream, and so many stitches built into it! So Brunhilda and I managed to change our house from a holiday cheer-free trimless construction zone:
into this joyous beautified holiday wonderland:Well, wonderland may be a bit strong, but we're not done yet, and my mother (the Hostess with the actual Mostess, not one of the myriad knockoffs out there) is arriving on Tuesday in the wake of the predicted Nor'easter. She'll whip us into shape.

The babes are actually playing together now. Monito is so much more animated & grabby that if Pequita hands him a toy, he takes it and won't let go. This is the beginning of many a rowdy game of tug of war, much to their delight. Pequita persists in her desire to sit on him, as evidenced below. I am expecting this to last their whole lives, even when he is far bigger than she.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Pequita's new play space

Before: Just this past October (Pequita's birthday) antiques mounded in the right corner, birdcage on the left, choking hazards abounding (pellet food & pistachio shells scattered by the bird around the base of the cage.) After: Tall shelving on left with space for slings, tote bags and mommy stuff on top, and baskets for all the kids stuff in the lower shelves. Pequita's special rocker from Auntie M, their table and chairs, and a low shelf for toys and books on the right. Pequita loves it, even though the real etate is sketchy. (That is the diaper changing station to the right, diaper pail and all.)

And our living room has begun to be dealt with as well. Homestead Mama gave me a triptych of prints from this blogger for Christmas. (Well, I found it, liked it, ordered it, and H-Mama paid for it.) A few frames & mats later and we have this view from the other couch:

Catching up

A turbo post, in case Pequita wakes up from her nap early:

We have been without internet, phone, and a second car in various combinations in the past week. All is back up/ online/ on the road. We are all still sick - Homestead Mama just got it on Wed in earnest, I just entered what seems to be phase two, with swollen glands and MORE fatigue, along with the requisite massive cold sore to alert me to my immune system's battle. (Because the fevers, chills, aches and the like were inconclusive.) Pequita is still very congested, but getting better. Monito is holding steady - no improvement, but no real down turn either. Still wheezing and coughing, still very cranky. We've only used the albuterol and nebulizer a few times - it is a stimulant (no one warned me; took me two nights to discover why we were up EVERY 45 MINUTES) and makes him very very jittery. The homeopathy and head steaming are helping him breathe, and I have to trust that his little body will shake the virus. And just THINK how strong his immune system will be after beating this!

Monday, Canadian Friend and her family arrive for a few days visit with their young daughter - I can't wait! My parents arrive for a pre-Christmas visit the following Monday, my sister & family arrive the weekend before Christmas. We're feverishly cleaning and putting the house to rights. We had really sunk into a bit of squalor with all four of us so sick for so long.

We managed to make a massive run with an overladen station wagon to the auction house with all our antiques - they'll sell them at the monthly auction and send us a check. I would have given them all away at this point, just to reclaim the space they've been taking up. We also decided to adopt out the last parrot, Peaches, a Goffin cockatoo who is bald of feathers all over her body due to self-plucking. She was hand raised, and is very tame and sweet. She is also incredibly loud and demanding of our attention. She's doing very well where she is, and I have started putting together the kid's space of my dreams in the alcove off the dining room. Homestead Mama is so pleased with how nice it looks, how well it will work, and how much Pequita likes to just be in her own space that it is taking the sting out of having gotten rid of her last bird.

And she's awake. More later, now that I'm back online.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Sleep of the Childless

We received our new mattress - it is a base of organic latex, wrapped in a heavenly and healthy pouf of pure grow wool and cotton. It was delivered last Saturday, and is heavenly. In a moderately annoying move, the owner of the eco/green furniture store in town delivered the mattress only, forgot the pure grow wool mattress pad (absorbs ounce after ounce of baby pee/ooze/ etc, we were promised, thereby protecting our investment in aforementioned organic latex mattress) and only after loading our old mattress and box spring into his truck told us that the 4" thick wool topper we ordered hadn't come in yet, he'd deliver it in a week or two. (All at once now - PUTZ!) Come to find out, it doesn't matter that we don't have the topper yet. Both H-Mama and I have slept better on this mattress than we have in years. It is so very comfortable, we both look forward to crawling into bed. When I sleep, it is the sound and deep sleep of a normal person. This is good, since our nights have been chopped up into 2 hour increments with all the people hacking, coughing and wheezing in our bedroom.
Monito loves it so much he loses balance.
video

*Public service announcement: HannaAndersson.com has started their sale season. Note Monito's new hat & slippers. Selection is good now, but prices will keep going down until their after Christmas sale; it is when I stock up on staples for the comiong 12 months for both kids. Their clothing is hand's down my favorite. Much of it is organic cotton, their finishing techniques are superior (which tranlates into no opening seams, lost buttons or wearing out) and they are unbelievably sturdy. I know other boutiquey brands (Zutano et al) are supposed to be the epitome of fabulous, but as fiber person & seamstress, you cannot beat the Swedes.
a

Woe is Monito

We all have a cold. I'm in the end stages, H-Mama is dabbling but not succumbing, Pequita is snotty and coughs to the point of gagging in the night. We are all better than my poor teeny tiny baby (um, if teeny tiny means over the 100th percentile.) Monito is SICK. He hacks, coughs, can't breathe out of his nose for the snot, and wheezes. H-Mama (who was home from work yesterday and again today) and I took them both to the doc yesterday in hopes there was a magic medicine that would make them sleep better so we could sleep better. No such luck. Pequita was deemed healthy but cold-stricken, and was told to wait it out. Monito had a detectable wheeze (no shit - I had been sleeping next to that sound for two nights, which was why we were at the pediatricians.) The doc wanted to find out what was what so had him hooked up to a nebulizer (a small, loud machine that aerosolizes* medicine for inhalation) full of albuterol and a tiny baby-sized plastic face mask. H-Mama took Pequita to the play area in the waiting room so she could lick all the toys the other sickies have played with while I stayed in the exam room clutching a crying unhappy baby to my chest singing to him with the lights turned off, the only way he would tolerate the treatment. It was a long 7 minutes. Since his wheeze was lessened after the albuterol, the doc on call diagnosed asthma. Said this could be his only instance of it, it could last throughout his childhood or could be a lifelong affliction, there's no way to know. Three hours later, we were home with a box of albuterol and our very own $199 nebulizer (thank you, Huge Insurance Company) with which to torture our boy every four hours.
And torture we did. At his first treatment, he started crying upon hearing the loud thumping engine of the super-tiny neb machine, and graduated to a full-on angry/scared scream upon application of the mask to his face. And continued to scream for the full 10 minutes. Pequita looked on in horror and got increasingly upset, until H-Mama removed her from the room and distracted her. The boy and I sat and cried on the couch until it was over. He then collapsed into a feverish lump of clinging baby, and slept for over an hour. We were instructed to repeat this every four hours when he was wheezing. I made an executive decision to skip the nighttime treatments, judging that sleep was AS important as not wheezing. H-Mama concurred. This morning he was no worse, and on my sister's advice I called our Lovely Acupuncturist. (My sis is in the process of getting her degree in Acupuncture in a different city, and said that there is much to be done to help with asthma with needles, acupressure and herbs. I've been getting treatments from my in-town Lovely Acupuncturist for over 8 years for arthritis and most other ailments; I use Western Medicine as a last resort. She is fitting us in at noon. I am so grateful!
* I believe I made that word up. Sorry.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Dress up

Today was a dress day for Pequita. There are few dresses that I feel the need to clothe her in - this one from Baby Gap is exceptionally cute and very much to our taste. She rebelled when I put her in dresses a couple months ago, since they got in her way crawling. Now, they are only in her way if she is climbing stairs, but I just gather the skirt part all up in a bunch and shove it in the back of her leggings while she is climbing.

Yes, I know we need to refinish our stairs. We'll have to do it in warm weather when we can not use them for a couple days. Not bloody likely, eh? Maybe we'll hire someone to do them while we are on vacation this summer.

He sits!

I was browsing back through the baby book (blog) to see what Pequita was doing at 5 months to see how Monito compares. Hmm. She was quite a bit more physical than he has been, but also I was more physical with her. I tossed her around, stood her up, hung her upside down. I don't really do a lot of that with Monito because he spits up, and every time I lifted him up over my head in his early weeks he puked on me.

I decided to start trying again. He has been going through a bit of a developmental surge lately, and can kick his sturdy little leg and flip himself over easily, if he wants to. He can do a sit up if I anchor his feet. He can sit up, too - I never checked, can you believe it? Talk about second child syndrome.Come to find out, I can lift him over my head by holding his thighs, which means that his core strength is good. He can stand up when holding my fingers - he isn't as adept at this as his sister was, but he is much bigger than she was at this age and it has to be harder to do things. He is also grabbing at things & immediately shoving them in his mouth, and totally grooves on people's faces. We met up with Hottie Friend today at the burrito joint in town, and he cackled, giggled and patted her cheeks with excitement at her mere presence. He is morphing from a potato who sits and watches what happens around him to a very active presence in the house - this is such an exciting time! Driving downtown today he broke from his usual silent-with-soothie-in-his-mouth or crying; he babbled at his own face in the mirror, saying da da da da da in his funny high pitched voice. I just love him.

Duh

We are teaching Pequita sign language as fast as we can learn it - it seems to bring her a lot of pleasure to know the sign for something, and her frustration with miscommunication is growing quickly. I have been taping Signing Time, which our local PBS station airs each Sunday morning. It is an excellent way to learn signing, and the songs & kid images are interesting to Pequita even now, when she is clearly too young to get most of what they are teaching.

Grapes are the big hit for mealtime these days. Pequita runs over to the counter under the fruit bowl and jumps up and down making her summoning noise - a pleasantly upbeat grunt - while pointing to the grapes. The best time to teach her a sign is when she is really excited about something, so instead of calling Hottie Friend on the phone and having her describe the sign for grape, I googled 'ASL dictionary'. Duh! There is a fantastic one, ASL Pro, with video of the signs and a huge compendium of all words we will need. I excitedly called to H-Mama in the next room that we now can look up things as we want. She immediately asked if it has cadaver. Then morgue. Then autopsy. It had all those words. She is a bit nutty, but in her defense, she's been listening to this book on CD that I got her for Christmas last year on her commute to and from work. We now sign grape on each trip to the fruit bowl.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

A Bored Mom is a Dangerous Thing


She wore it all day like this without knowing it. In my defense, her hair *was* in her eyes. This is the first stupid thing I've made her hair do (so of course I had to take a photo of it) but I'm sure it won't be the last while I wait for it to grow long enough so that I can braid it.

I made something!

After being cooped up in the house for 3 days now, sick, I found time to make something. The mind boggles. I am a fiber artist - I sew, knit, felt, etc. At least I did before the babies. Now I just keep track of the great ideas and designs I want to make when I find a minute.

I was totally annoyed yesterday by a lovely microfiber sweatshirt. You can see the bad design here:

I used a piece of my favorite fabric, a flannel with origami cranes from Garnet Hill. I cut a patch, sewed it on over the ugly football applique, and voila. I now have an almost heirloom hoodie. I have a huge sense of accomplishment - I have to take it where I can get it.

Chinatown

Our friend who generously put us up for the weekend outside of the city is Chinese. She usually takes us into the city for dim sum when we visit - we get so much better treatment and food when we are with her. This was Pequita's first time in a huge bustling Chinese restaurant, and she did wonderfully. She loved all the food H-Mama fed her, particularly the sticky rice she could feed herself. She whacked at everything with her chopsticks .
You can see her here doing her happy dance in her booster seat as she eats. I'd upload the video, but it is 11:50 pm and Blogger is being recalcitrant. I have to go to sleep.

Monito was less than impressed with the dim sum (maybe in a few months when he starts eating solids) but really loved all the stuff above his head on the streets - dragons, silk scarves, myriad plastic imported toys. He was completely quiet and wide-eyed in the carrier as we walked around looking for a special Christmas outfit for Pequita (I'll post on that later.)

The King

Monito's middle name means 'king' in another language. We are constantly finding things that he is king of - I have long claimed that he's the king of spit-up, but else everyone downplays it - they can afford to, sinve he only does it on me. Behold. I do not lie.

The Day After the Night From Hell

I wanted to make sure to give credit to Homestead Mama for doing what she could last Friday in the hotel when Monito and I didn't sleep. When she woke up with Pequita, they played in the bathroom in the hotel room for an hour while we stole a little more rest. How do you keep a 13 month old kid entertained in a small 3' x 5' bathroom for an hour? Let her play with all the toiletries she isn't usually allowed to touch. Then let her carry it all into the tub and put it in the soap dish. Joy.
As much as Pequita enjoyed the king sized bed, Monito couldn't get enough of the vanity. As handsome as he is, who can blame him.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Still sick

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh.  I feel awful.  Homestead Mama is mostly ok, a little overtired, but she goes to work each day.  Nothing makes me more stir crazy than staying in the house all the time, but even though I could muster the energy to go to playgroup or swim class, I can't inflict our germs on other moms & kids.  And they'd know.  We are all sneezing snot, the kids are fussy and I have what I call my blues voice - a deeper, throatier version of what I usually sound like. 

It is on the second day of not going out, the second day of Pequita working diligently to touch, break, unpack or unfold all the things she isn't supposed to touch that I am reminded of just how cluttered our house still really is, and how much work it will take to get it babyproof.  Maybe by the time the kids are 3 or so.  Here's when I start regretting spacing our two kids so close together.  I'd have 3 hours a day of time for myself to nap, organize or just read if we only had one.  BUT I'll be through a lot of the hardest stuff by the time others are just getting around to having their second kid...  I have visions of us zipping over to Europe for a visit once both our kids can walk a couple of miles.  There are some alps I miss dearly that I'd like to traipse around on, and some melted cheese I'd like to eat with red wine.  We'll just see how that pans out.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Things I Love About Parenting

Each and every time I go to put on my shoes Pequita has found them
first and deposited some toys in them. She also hoards my shoes, and
finds them from all over the house and makes a big pile upon which she
sits to better caress and admire them.

Home Again

We are home. We are sick. The kids and I have bad sinus colds. I
have ordered the nosefrida (http://www.nosefrida.com/index.html)
because that snot bulb is useless against the disease we are fighting
and I'd rather suck the snot out of my baby's nose with my mouth than
listen to them struggle to breathe while nursing.

I am going to venture out for chicken soup and fluids, and to pick up
some meds from our acupuncturist. I will do this in my spitup covered
vintage J. Crew football jersey (back when their clothes didn't cling)
and without having cleaned any part of my body other then my teeth -
that is how badly I feel.

At least all Pequita's toys are brand new and fresh for her, after 5
days away. Plus we managed to hit IKEA on the way home and have many
new and colorful things to pull out when the existing toys she is
playing with get stale. And did I mention that my brother-in-law
works for Melissa & Doug, and we have a trunk full of their new line
too? I can use all the ammo I can get, since I can't nap and need
very much to rest. And I am grateful that if the kids *have* to be
sick, at least they are slowed down and snuggly, versus me feeling
this way and having to chase after the usual whirling dirvish that is
my daughter.

Friday, November 23, 2007

True thankfullness

I am truly thankful for the 2.5 hour nap I got after breakfast yesterday. Homestead Mama walked both kids around in the stroller for an hour while I slept, then they returned to the hotel room and we nursed them both down for a morning nap. Parenting is so hard when you are exhausted. Patience and kind thoughts are the first things to go for me.

The day at Homestead Mama's brothers house was very nice. Pequita fell in love with her 11 year old cousin in a way I have not seen yet. This cousin looks more like Pequita than anyone else in the extended family - perhaps this made the difference.

She also was amazed by her 15 year old cousin playing guitar. Come to find out, acoustic Black Sabbath will make Pequita dance in just the same way that The Itsy Bitsy Spider song does.

I am sitting and nursing Monito (at the desk while blogging) and Homestead Mama just looked over at me and said, "You're blogging now, aren't you?" Of course - nursing is a sit down activity and it is what I do. And finally, since we are about to miss checkout time, a picture of the kids REALLY enjoying the fresh linens on a king size bed. Pequita is into sitting on Monito's lap, and manhandles him into the position she wants and then sits on him. So far, he loves it and laughs. She is so proud and pleased with her arrangement that she collapses on him in giggles. It is charming.

Off to the next stop on our weekend whirlwind, a last brunch with my mother-in-law and then on to H-Mama's college friends house in Westchester.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving

I am torn. I have much to be thankful for. We have two of the most
lovely babies ever born. They are vibrant and dear and both have
perfectly round heads (this is important to Homestead Mama's family.)
We are financially stable in this very rocky time, even though I have
quit my job. H-mama and I have much love for each other despite two
babies in 8 months, living in a partially renovated house, and
muddling through all the normal stresses a couple faces. I have a
fantastically loving and supportive family - my parents and sister's
family are all in good shape and form a good backdrop for us to raise
Pequita and Monito.

Then there is right this second. We drove to Connecticut last night.
Since we are frequently split our 'road trip team', one person
navigating and driving in the dark and the other squeezed in the back
seat between two car seats wrangling babies who have timed out of the
car, I printed Google maps for each and every permutation of travel we
could possibly do (hotel -> grannies; hotel -> brother-in-law; hotel
-> IKEA, etc) Instead of arriving at dinnertime at Homestead Mama's
mother's apartment, we ran late (shocking, I know) and H-Mama followed
the wrong sheet of directions, resulting in our car pulling up in
front of out hotel at 9 pm. I checked in while H-Mama stayed with the
kids and called her mom to check in. I returned to the car expecting
to unload, put the kids to bed and relax for 20 minutes in front of
free hotel cable before dropping off to sleep. Oh no. Granny was
holding dinner for us, so we turned the car around & drove the dark,
foggy 30 minute drive to her apartment. We ate a delicious pork stew,
visited for a couple hours, and then returned to the hotel by 11 am.
The kids are now 4 hours past their bedtimes, and have fallen asleep
in their seats on each leg of the journey, so are completely jangled
and discombobulated. I am getting a cold sore, and feel logey and
exhausted. Homestead Mama puts Pequita to sleep by reciting her
favorite board books from memory ( I had no idea she had this skill)
and they curl up in the king sized bed and go to sleep. Monito had
been napping well for the last several hours and is not tired, but
will deign to be quiet if I nurse him constantly. All night, while he
fidgets and thrashes because he doesn't need the milk and it gives him
painful gas. I'm up for about 20 minutes of each hour pacing,
bobbling, dandling him on my knee in the dim light of the clock in the
bathroom trying to get him to sleep. Finally around 5:20 I try
swaddling him with my Maya Wrap sling, and since I don't remember
looking at the clock when it read 6:anything, we must have slept a
bit. He woke up like usual at 7:30 ready for the day. I woke up
ready to shove both kids on Homestead Mama, tell her to take them both
to her brother's for the day, I'll be perfectly happy sleeping in
until 2 pm, having a dip on the pool and then have a Thanksgiving
dinner of room service, Thank You Very Much.

Instead, I followed my wise sister's advice: when in doubt, go
outside. Or in this case down to the lobby to blog and drink coffee
while H-Mama and Pequita squeeze the last bit of sleep from the night.
I need a little time to get my mind right and not be angry at all
things not a soft pillow.

So yes, our lives are rich, full and blessed. And I'll be able to
properly reflect on all that after a nap.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Our 2007 Christmas picture


Maybe this will be the one. Who knows yet. Guess which one wouldn't sit still and had to be bodily handled?

WTF?


Life Goes On

Another post coming to you from the front seat of my car. It is going to be an expensive winter if I have to keep the car running for heat while they nap with any regularity; yet another reason to keep at the crib training.

The sleep/crib training is going pretty well. I usually put Pequita down for her morning nap between 10:30 and 11:30 am, and she cries/hollers for anywhere from 10 – 50 minutes before dropping off. (Personally, I think she really enjoys bouncing up and down in her crib, like jumping on our bed. As soon as she lays down she crashes, but if she is standing she is bouncing, whether or not she is crying.) We put her down at night between 8 and 9 pm, depending on the afternoon schedule, and she is usually asleep within 15 minutes, frequently fussing for mere moments before being silent. We hope not to have to become more rigid with actual times, but we will if we have to. Frankly, Homestead Mama and I are not great with schedules ourselves, and it would be a massive life change to put that in effect for the kids.

Pequita is now running. I have been keeping a list of milestones and changes in both kids for the last few weeks, but haven’t been able to find the time to post them. They are both moving in leaps and bounds – it is very exciting, but also sad to lose each stage that they grow out of. I’ll post each kids’ list in a separate post shortly.

We are heading downstate for Thanksgiving to spend time with Homestead Mama’s mom & maternal family. Her mom and stepfather met Pequita when she was four months old, but haven’t seen any of us since and have never met Monito. I secured a reservation at a hotel near them which offers free wireless and a nice pool. One of my coping mechanisms for visiting family & in-laws is to make sure we have a room/suite of our own, even if it means that we pay for one in a hotel. This works well for H-Mama and me, but now with the kids means that we spend less time with whoever we are visiting since we have to leave by 7ish to go put the kids to bed. Usually, given family dynamics, this is just fine. We’ll spend 2 days with the in-laws and then spend the following three days staying with friends outside of NYC who have two kids, which should offer a comfortable environment for our own. We’re really looking forward to hanging out with them, and will be able to zip over to the City to visit a couple other friends while we are down there.

Homestead Mama is out with an able-bodied friend to begin dismantling a cedar swing set we bought from a listing on Craig's list. It is only a few years old and in great shape, and we are pleased with the deal we got. Pequita is so agile and physical that it is definitely not too soon to get her a slide and swing of her very own; the climbing tower and fire pole she’ll have to grow into. Here is her impersonation of King Kong on her dollhouse. The dolls? Not so much right now, but the house offers much fun. They should have the second half of the swing set transported back to our house by tomorrow afternoon, and hopefully put back together in our yard the following weekend. I can’t wait. We had something like this when I was a kid and I remember playing on it a lot. H-Mama, never one to do things on a small scale, is already planning add-on towers, tunnels, and other glorious playground-like modifications. This is fine with me – I don’t expect to let the kids watch TV much at all or play video games (in our house anyway) so the more exciting the outside activities the better.

Friday, November 16, 2007

First snow

Sure, Pequita was in the snow last year, but was completely unaware of the possibilities. This year, she is eating it by the handful and completely in awe. Monito seems to recognize that his view has changed, too.

The BEST babysitter

When we go out for a mom's night out, we are about as at ease as possible. Hottie Friend cared for both babes by herself for a few hours. All the mom's in our group melted when I showed them the 'update' that HF texted me. What better reassurance could there be than a picture like this appearing on your phone?

Tis the season

The first spotting of egg nog has occurred here in my neck of the woods. Homestead Mama brought me some home for my coffee. Pequita liked the tiny taste I gave her. I'm sure it won't be a problem though.

Cost-benefit analysis

I made cookies the other day. It cost me a little inattentiveness of Pequita, as she is all too willing to showcase in the exhibition of her new-found skill in the picture below. The 4 batches of homemade cookies were TOTALLY worth the cleanup, though.

Pequita has a naturally occurring love of raw cookie dough. I have no idea from whom she got it. Here she is accepting/ snatching dough from my hand like a wild animal. Note the blur her hand has become. Then I realized she was hoarding the balls of dough in the duvet in her book area and coming back for more. Each time she walked back to me for more, one of the dogs snuck up and ate her stash. She must have been confused by this.
Then, as i there wasnb't enough joy going around already, I woke up to this sight the next morning. H-Mama had done all my cookie dishes. And I didn't even make her favorite kind.

Hair today, gone tomorrow.

I may have whined about the post-natal hair loss. If so, forgive me. However, here is proof that the issue exists. Vanity is a bitch.

2006:
2007: It may be longish, but you can see my scalp through it at any point on my head. It better grow back in, and still be curly. BUT the boy is worth being bald for, if I must. Gack.

Productivity

My absence from blogging has been a direct result of being more productive elsewhere in my life. Sadly, but in the good way.

I hired our contractor to come install window and door molding - after 5 years, I'm willing to admit that I might not have the time to learn how and then do it. He'll be doing this in the next 8 weeks sometime, when he gets an opening in his schedule. He's also begun replacing the windows in a couple of the rooms in our rental property across the street. Some of the original ones were cracked, and we're fixing them as needed, much to our tenant's happiness at the start of this high-priced season of oil.

I have, however, managed to install a doorknob on the first floor bathroom. Now that Pequita is enamored of Open and Close, doors hold much excitement. Our house guests don't always find it amusing to have a 13 month old busting in on their private business. Homestead Mama took care of Pequita, and I managed Monito thusly: Despite not having painted the door, or finished the door jamb trim, this lovely knob is now protecting our friend's ability to pee in private.

In the picture with Monito, you can see the craft table that we bought for the kids for Christmas. Pequita is totally ready, and Monito will not be far behind. It really isn't so much a craft table as it is a full dining room set for young children. Hardwood construction, solid, and far more substantial than we could have bought at IKEA. We got an unfinished set so that we could treat it with our Tried & True linseed oil & beeswax food-grade hand rubbed finish. We are suckers for the stuff. It is lovely. Pequita keeps climbing up on the chairs, thumping the table with both hands and then hopping off to go Do Stuff Elsewhere. She is just starting to know what writing utensils can do to paper, so we're just in time. Crayons, here we come.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Nursing in a Nutshell

I can't remember How I first found Buddha/Mama's blog*, but she has a post that I just love. It really encapsulates the arc of nursing that Homestead Mama and I experience, and expect to encounter. It is here. I read it aloud to H-Mama, and we both were nodding and smiling. We agreed that we hope to let both Pequita and Monito self-wean, but also recognize that we never expected to CIO for naps, so we'll see how we evolve. I empathize with Buddha/Mama's thoughts about a nursing tent - most folks smile indulgently and warmly when they see me nursing one baby. I hear all the time, when I am out alone with both kids, that, "You sure do have your hands full!" God help me, though, if I tandem nurse both kids in a public venue. I receive scowls, glares, mutterings, comments that I shouldn't do that obscene thing in public (this comment just once). So I have two babies who are STILL BABIES. So freaking what? It is healthier for me to nurse them until they are at least three years old and their immune systems are solid. It will save everyone else money because I won't stress the health care system as much, I will be raising healthier and less medically needy children. None of this matters, as it pushes people's buttons. Small minds are all around.

*I always hesitate to link to other blogs. These days, I wander the blogosphere freely and without always remembering how I got where I ended up. These days, I haven't always had time to read all back posts when I start enjoying a new blog. I let a new blogger into my life as long as they are compatible and interesting, and inspiring. A few times I have checked in expecting another inspiring post and have found that someone I liked is actually homophobic, or has a vastly different political background from me; this is always sad, because once I have established a mental connection with someone - even a fully one-sided connection - I hate to be disillusioned. I recommend posts from other blogs with this caveat in mind always. I apologize if I send you to look at something that upon higher scrutiny proves to be less than satisfying. Nonetheless, I will continue to link to posts I think are valuable.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Mr. McScreamy

Monito has been experimenting with his voice, namely the screaming part. He gurgles now, giggles, waits a beat and then starts his happy-I'm-so-loud scream. It is adorable. He ramps Pequita up to the same volume immediately. I love this stage, but it is the beginning of the end of passive potato baby. From here on out, they feel like they have a vote. Sigh.



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Consumer Overload

I went back up to Homestead Mama's work city for lunch with her and her friend from college. Her friend is a financial adviser, and may end up handling our investments. I need to do a little bit more research, but she seems good. She also has a colleague who is a CPA and is versed in LGBT issues - already, we have answers that the guy I hired to do our taxes this past year (I was overwhelmed with, you know, having a baby and a newborn already in our house) couldn't figure out, so we will likely switch accountants. We have our taxes, the birth of two babies, two second parent adoptions, a rental property that we own, and the likelihood of H-Mama claiming me as her dependent since I've quit my job. (More on that emotional roller coaster later, when I have time.) I don't want to be anyone's learning curve on lesbian tax law, nor do I want to have to deal with it right now.

After lunch with College Friend, we went to a big box baby store, taking advantage of the big city consumer options. We got many things that we needed, like childproof outlet covers, BPA-free pacifiers, and assorted things we couldn't imagine until we saw them. Pequita saw many things and loved them deeply until the next bright display caught her eye; she spent many long minutes removing each and every bottle from the shelves until she had a huge stack. Homestead Mama replaced them all while I shopped for the stuff we needed. Then she saw the push toys. I'll get film of her love for the popper toy soon, but suffice it to say that she learned its name immediately and pushed it all around the store, to the car, and into the house when we got home, all the while saying, "poppoppop poppoppop". She also made friend with Elijah, in the video below, who was old enough to know where to push toys to make magic noises happen. After a while of her following him about, he started bringing toys right to her, and even started to select the pink girly ones he wouldn't be caught dead playing with but clearly thought she would like.

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We left when we had enough new toys to get me through the next few months of home care in addition to things to put away for Christmas, and all the other things we needed. Monito LOVES his new chew toy - I mean teething toy. We had nothing that interested him - boggling, but true - and he hasn't had a moment without it since we left the store. This is good, as he's spent a lot of time gnawing on my knuckles in the past few weeks.

After a 60 minute nap on the way home, Pequita was what we call 'full of beans'. She was into everything, a little aggressive and frantic. It is some of her cutest times, as she is nutsy but still snuggly.
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