Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Mt. Baldy

No, not the mountain in California. Monito's head. He's finally developing some fuzz that protrudes above his skin. I was starting to worry.


I thought I was above dressing our kids up before they even know what is happening. I was wrong. Yesterday, Homestead Mama and I went to the town she works in and spent the day visiting friends & her coworkers and showing off the kids. We ended up at the local grocery store, which hosts a Halloween costume parade for little kids. It was excellent, and Pequita really loved seeing the other kids in costume. Pequita and Monito got candy from each department in the store, which will have to be, um, taken care of this year on the kids' behalf. Parenting is fraught with sacrifices, don't you know.
Pequita wore her cousin's hand-me-down ladybug suit, and Monito wore the little orange cat suit Pequita wore all last winter (not for Halloween, but just because it was cute and warm.) I've been a little worried about their size and outgrowing the costumes; Monito was barely ok in his suit, as long as he didn't try to straighten out his toes. Pequita, on the other hand, was squeezed into her outfit like a sausage. Each time she bent, sat or squatted she popped a snap. By the end of the night her pant legs were flapping around her legs like a skirt.

Tonight, on actual Halloween, one of the mom's group couples hosted a potluck. It was fun, but intense. A crowded house, adults eating & drinking wine, lots of crazed babies up past their bedtime. Nice people but a nutsy time. Due to the wardrobe malfunction from the night before, Pequita was a leopard in properly fitting pants. A little mascara whisker set and voila. She was in a bit of a stupor by the end of the night. (See her beautiful new shoes? She's still learning how to walk in them.)

Monday, October 29, 2007

It is 11:30 pm: do you know where your Mommy is?

It is 11:35 pm and I am stealing time for myself, it is true. I am watching Sex and the City reruns, and don't want to go to bed. I'll pay tomorrow, but damn, I love being up late at night. Monito is asleep in the bassinet in the living room with me, Homestead Mama should be covering Pequita, at least until her black period (2 - 4 am) during which I cover both kids because H-Mama's perspective is, shall we say, skewed. (Bow now to my boobs of wonder.) We have a day of traveling, lunch and visiting our RE for a Halloween photo shoot on Tuesday, and I'll be able to manage. Does anyone else make decisions that aren't good for them but serve them well?

Speaking of boobs of wonder, I went off Fenugreek for a while. Now that I am back on it, Yowza! The milk is back. Perhaps it is that one or both babes is no longer on a growth spurt, but still, I could feed a village. I like it.

Pigs Are Flying

EDITED: they slept for 45 minutes, 30 of which overlapped. Better then the past 3 months or so.

Both babies are asleep. I am eating ice cream, then I'm going to take a nap. I hope this lasts more than 10 minutes.

Monday, and we're homebound again

My car is in the shop getting a new muffler today. We are having a quiet day at home. I managed to vacuum, sweep and mop the first floor this morning, and then made homemade noodles for a chicken soup. Some days I can, some days I barely have time to pee.

Pequita has a new expression. It is kind of a mix between "Give me what I want NOW, you nasty Mommy" and "My molars are pushing through my gums and I am miserable, so you will be too". She uses it all the time. Many times it is followed quickly by a solid chomp on your flesh. Yes, the angel is growing up.
Monito has graduated to the neglectosaucer! He loves it. This is good for all of us, mostly him, as he can strengthen his legs and his spastic motor skills.
Does it count as sleep training if I was trying a slightly later nap time and Pequita falls asleep in her lunch, and only barely stirs when I transfer her to her crib? I don't think so. Perhaps the 11:30 am time is too late, and we should stick with the 10:30 scream fest. Any thoughts? It is far more pleasant when she is wasted, but is it a valid train at that point?

Voting will be open all the way up until about 10 am Wednesday, when I'll have to make a decision. Tomorrow we're going to Homestead Mama's work t meet her and another friend for lunch. She works an hour away, so we'll get in the car right about nap time and sleep through.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Thank you

You all have been really supportive and present during this crib-training sleep regression period. Each each email, blog comment, phone call and mid-morning latte drop-off has made the process easier and less lonely. It has meant the world to me to not go through it alone, and as small as a gesture might seem, when I am at my wits end and happen to see a kind email or one sentance comment with a joke to crack me up, it totally helps. That some of you have written multiple well thought out paragraphs sharing your own experiences and suggestions, well, I loved it.

Thank you!

Operation Sleep: day who-the-fuck-knows

Monito woke me up four times last night, but a few minutes of bouncing on the yoga ball was sufficient to get him back to sleep. There was no long 5-hour stretch of staying awake. And Pequita has slept well at night. She is, however, still struggling to nap in her crib during the day. Homestead Mama put her through the crib-training paces this morning, and ended up bringing her downstairs again after an hour of no-sleep-just-screaming, which is what we agreed to do. After that, we kept her awake all day, and I took both babies to the local indoor play space from 3:30 - 5:30 pm for a change of pace, and to give H-mama some quiet time to herself in the house (she lets me sleep in each weekend mornings when possible). Pequita was asleep in the car within 2 miles, but I woke her exhausted butt up once we arrived 6 minutes later. She played hard and with excitement for two full hours on no naps at all; by the end she was coming to visit and lean on me more and more. Monito stayed awake and engaged the whole time. Then we went home for the yummy pork loin in lemon garlic sauce that H-mama cooked while we were gone. Homestead Mama took the night shift of putting her to bed at her regular time, 8 pm. She nursed her with a book, and carried Pequita barely awake into her crib. a couple foot kicks and Pequita was out. She's still down 90 minutes later. Monito was awake for a long time giggling, playing with me and being his new mature self. He's asleep now, and I'm going up to take advantage of it shortly.

As an aside, I am going to love the indoor play space this winter when the playgrounds are all covered in ice and snow. It is a large gym that has many stations - two slides, a big play structure with tunnels, a fleet of ride-on vehicles, and a large area with diverse smaller toys. All the climbing structures and the small toy area are on top of 2" thick gymnastic mats. Pequita proved that her spacial relations are still not quite developed, as she made a big to do about stepping up the 2" to get on a mat, and instead of walking off the other edge, she would approach it with trepidation, kneel down at the edge and spin around, doing the dismount backwards on her hands and knees. This is how she now gets off the couch, the window seat, all high things. The 2" of the mat clearly concerns her. It is really funny to watch. Hopefully I can get it on tape before she learns to do it differently. All this from the girl who after two supervised times on the 4' high slide did it over and over again by herself. Up the stairs, walk along the top edge holding on to the railing, sit down at the top of the slide and jettison to the bottom with enough speed to fly off the lip and bounce a couple times on her butt on the floor. Each time this happened, she would sit and clap for herself for a few seconds, then get up and rush off somewhere else. That's our girl.

Interspecies play

Pequita has breached the species barrier. She discovered that she can feed the dogs, and now feeds all her unwanted expensive organic food to the pooches, piece by piece, much to the dogs' joy. When we hand her dog biscuits to feed them, she eats them. Of course.

Speaking in Tongues

Pequita now speaks.

"Baby" was her first word, but it applied to her brother and all small beings, including the cat.
"Uh oh" was her first real word properly used, like when she purposely deposited each one of her pieces of lunch into the bathtub, one 'uh oh' after another.
"Appoh" was next, for apple. Improving.
"Deckledeckledeckle" See it? Neither did we. Tickle tickle tickle. Perfectly used when we were touching her.

She makes the sign language sign for 'more' when she is eating and wants more of something. She knows the signs for nurse, again, apple, more, all done, thank you.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

All bets are off

Monito isn't sleeping, so I'm not sleeping. Hopefully it is a short-lived vaccination response and not his new m.o. We were up from 2:30 - 6 am last night. He doesn't seem the worse for wear, but I'm wasted.

I'll sign off before the cursing starts to seep through.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Monito's Four Month Checkup

Monito weighed in at 18 lbs 13 oz, and is 28.5" tall/long. Both numbers are over the 100th percentile again. He is the same height as his sister who is 8 months older than him. He's still 5 lbs less than her, but it would seem as though he'll be catching up quickly. He barely cried with his vaccinations, which was a relief.

We strolled across the street to the gym after the pediatric appointment for a quick tour. It was nice, and HAS ON SITE DAYCARE free with a (very affordable) family membership. This daycare is highly recommended by other women in my mom's group. I can even leave the kids there for up to two hours a day and work out, swim, or even go shopping, to a dentist appointment, whatever. I feel freedom in my future. At this point, it would be worth joining just so I can get a latte, drop them off and sit in the parking lot by myself with silence all around.

Operation Pequita Nap: Day 3

(I wrote this as it was happening; first draft was in the third person. I clearly am fighting within myself to both stay engaged and distance myself.)

10:05 am - Monito falls asleep

10:06 am - Pequita's snack time begins. Prunes. Mmmmm.

10:30 am - Pequita and I retire to the dark nursery and read Snowmen At Night twice with a bottle of breast milk. Pequita is so drowsy she needs help holding her bottle up.

10:50 am - I carry Pequita into her crib in the master bedroom and we turn on the white noise machine we sleep with. Still no blackout shades; no chance to get to the store yet. I lay her down in her crib, she starts to cry, the bottle quiets her although her eyes are wary. The phone rings* and I zip out to answer it so it stops bothering her. Screaming.

11:00 am - I go in to comfort her. I notice that in my mental disarray with all the crying and stress I forgot to raise the crib side. She could vault out of the crib like that with no effort at all. Damn. I spend a minute wondering if Child Protective Services reads blogs. I hug Pequita's now very sweaty head to my neck (it takes a lot of energy to scream with confused anger at the top of your little tiny lungs for 10 minutes straight) and she quiets down. After 5 minutes her breathing returns to normal & I lay her down again to immediate crying. I leave. I am on the computer in the office only about 15 feet from the crib listening to her scream and jump up and down (now safely) in her crib. Blessedly, Monito stays napping downstairs.

This is what I am suffering through, taken by poking the camera through the bedroom door. She cannot see it. I feel like I should be suffering, since she is. Skip this if crying upsets you. I would, if I could.

11:15 am - I go in to comfort her. Her whole body is now sweaty from exertion. I haven't been picking her up when I go in because she is so likely to fall asleep in my arms and I want her to fall asleep in her crib. I hug her, our bodies pressed against each other through the bars of the crib side. I support her butt with one hand and her shoulders with the other while cooing to her. She is so tired that she dozes off in this position, sagging against my arms. I lay her down and we start again with the screaming. As soon as I lay her down she moves, preferring to spend her time crouched in the corner of her crib nearest the door clutching the bars of her prison. I leave, hear Monito chirp and go fetch him. He grins at me and spits up all down my front, the smelly spit up that's been cooking in his belly for an hour. Luckily I am wearing Polartec and it slides right off my shirt onto the pile of clean laundry I was folding.

11:30 am - I go in to comfort her. 40 minutes of this process is my limit. In our last attempt, I patted her belly and cooed to her and she goes to sleep. She sleeps for 35 minutes. My rule is that once she sleeps and wakes, naptime is over. I can't put her through that again so soon. My hope is that the duration of sleep will increase as she gets less upset beforehand. Does anyone who has kids and is reading have thoughts? I am really not sure about this piece. There are books & experts who say all different things.

*Pequita now has an appointment with the University baby psych studies for tomorrow. Something about vision. That will help break up our afternoon.

Yeah, two moms

Momma Penguin commented, "What to do when there are two Mums? I foresee some trouble ahead, [my partner] is MUCH softer than I am... "

Yup. Homestead Mama may be the 'tough' one at her job, carry a gun, employ a curt and no-bullshit communication style, and seem like a wall of firmness and resolve, but I am the disciplinarian in the house. Her heart is very big, and she hates to make anyone unhappy. Me? If it for the greater good, I'll make everyone miserable.

We have a weird division of labor/ childcare. The second kid really created two teams, each of us acting as primary caregiver for our own spawn. This will lessen as Monito becomes able to sit up, walk, etc. At this point, Homestead Mama comes home and takes over with Pequita, because she misses her, P is more fun to interact with at this stage, and also because after 9 hours straight with her, I am ready to not see or hear her for a little while. Monito is still breastfeeding almost exclusively from me, so I get him. For now, we each have very specific ideas about how things are to happen, how to parent. I assume that straight couples have to work this out too, but it is trickier when you have distinct input on how someone else is breastfeeding. I will have to ask mothers of twins if they had a similar (wo)man-on-(wo)man defensive system. They must.
Momma Penguin also had an excellent point the other day. Better to do all this sleep training before Pequita can get herself out of her own bed. That, my friends, would be an endeavor of nightmarish proportions.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Operation Pequita Nap: Day 2

Lest I forget what I'm doing all this for. (The loving, not Monito farting. The boy really is full of air.)

We had a good day today. I put Pequita down for a nap in her crib at 10:20 am after 4 books, a bottle and some rocking, and she cried for 3 return comforts, then slept for 45 minutes by herself. Success, I say. The afternoon was bungled because she slept on our outing- the car was in the garage for an oil change and I took a walk in the rain with the babes asleep in a toxic plastic shell in their stroller. Sadly, they slept. I arrived back home after 90 minutes (hey, I needed the walk) wet and exhausted with two perky awake babies. Bad planning. At 7 pm they slept in the car on the way to fetch the other car from the garage, and it took her 10 minutes of screaming - top volume & high anger - to fall asleep. I think that me pushing her boundary/ setting a boundary is causing her to fight more on other fronts. Good. Have at it. This is something I can easily follow through on for all our sakes. Ok, easily is pushing it but at least I am committed. H-mama is less inured to the sound of her daughter getting hoarse with vocalization, but I talked her through it.

(We discovered a huge dent in the car trunk/ hind quarters upon picking it up. I will phone tomorrow morning to let them apologize and tell me the new trunk lid is already ordered. God help me if they deny responsibility.)

Monday, October 22, 2007


After three visits upstairs, I went up with the boy to sit in the room with her for comfort. This backfired. I got Monito set up on our bed - pacifier, balloon to look at - and pulled Pequita out of her crib, I nursed her in case she was hungry, and she fell asleep off the boob in four minutes flat.
I don't know if I failed her and this process I'm trying by putting her to sleep in my arms and then setting her down in her crib, but worse would have been no nap, H-mama walking in the door and nursing her down in seconds flat. She needs to have a ritual that is with me that I can maintain while still attending to Monito's needs. Sigh. I've read the whole sleep section at Ask Moxie and tonight I start reading The No Cry Sleep Solution. Then the Jay Gordon book.

In my free time.

This part of parenting sucks.

Operation Pequita Nap: Day 1

OHMYGOD my child doesn't cry herself to sleep, she cries herself into a horrid fit of anger. My psyche may not be able to handle this. She's up there now screaming and jumping up and down in her crib, I'm up there every 5 minutes to comfort her - yeah right - and then I come down to comfort & nurse Monito, who, after his sister took 65 minutes to stop playing and figure out that she was trapped, is VERY AWAKE and wanting attention.
In between comfort visits (=during a scream fest) I called Homestead Mama at work to remind her to leave soon (early day, and she's covering for me while I go to a meeting at work) and the gem she has for me? "I hope you aren't ruining the crib for Pequita so she screams every time I put her in there." Not helpful. It feels like I haven't had ONE MINUTE of both babies sleeping at the same time for weeks, with no end in sight. Not frigging helpful.

There is absolutely NOTHING in the world like the sound of your own child screaming and unhappy to tear apart your heart, relationship, happy home and any scrap of well being you still possessed.

I'm off for another visit to the unhappy baby upstairs, leaving Monito downstairs, now crying too.

I'll be going to the store this evening to buy blackout window shades in hopes of de-stimulating the bedroom.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Sleep the sleep of angels

We bought a mattress yesterday - a nice new organic latex, wool & cotton, no off-gassing mattress. The one we are on was a hand me down, and since we are de facto sleeping in a 'family bed', and all leaning into the sinkhole that is the middle of the bed each night, we decided it was time. And since we are all in there together, we wanted something as healthy & comfy as possible. Did you know that (at least our brand) of natural latex mattresses come with a 20 year warranty, and the expectation that they will last at least that long with no significant changes to the comfort & fit of the bed? I can't wait. I feel all giddy. Both Homestead Mama and I feel old each morning with the aches and pains. I have high hopes that we aren't, in fact, aging as fast as it seems and that we can blame much of this on the ancient mattress and boxspring. In 5 - 7 weeks, I'll let you know.

Dumbledore is gay

I love this.  Super.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

She Does a Lot More Than Ride

Pequita's and Monito's current favorite song? She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain, but in my version, when she comes 'round the mountain she has a couple of better activities than just riding up and hanging out. She's becoming my fantasy woman.

Regular lyrics:
She'll be coming round the mountain when she comes (Toot, toot!)
She'll be driving six white horses when she comes (Whoa back!)
Oh, we'll all go out to meet her when she comes (Hi babe!)
We'll all have chicken and dumplings when she comes (Yum yum!)
She'll be wearing red pajamas when she comes (Scratch, scratch)
She will have to sleep with Grandma when she comes (Snore snore!)

I have a few extra lines that keep us singing. I guess they illuminate some of our needs, eh?

She will figure out our taxes when she comes (Ching ching!)
She will Windex all our windows when she comes (Squeak squeak)
She will do our dirty laundry when she comes (Scrub scrub)
She will babysit you kids when she comes (Wait for me!)

I'll have a double shot latte, please

That's what I was able to tell the very edgy cool sullen girl behind the counter at the coffeehouse this morning after skipping into the place with only ONE baby on me. The one that still sleeps a lot. I'm sure she was only sullen because she pulled the morning shift on a Saturday, but dude, if you work for tips? A smile and mentioning how cute the baby I'm wearing is works much better than trying to make me feel dumb for not having memorized your stupid proprietary names for coffee sizes a la St*rbucks. I couldn't care less about your attitude - I was out (almost) by myself on a Saturday to meet with friends. Yippee!

Six of us from the mom's group met and mapped out a schedule of activities that covers four days of the week, both free and small fee things, as well as monthly potluck schedules and a 4th Friday of each month mom's night out - sans kids - schedule. Homestead Mama and I will have to get sitters so we can both go to the mom's nights out- if anything, she needs the camaraderie of other mothers more than I do. She is parenting from a vacuum for the most part, hanging out at work with men all day who just don't have much to add to the 'how/ when do I night-wean the baby?' discussion.

List Friday edited

Added #6 below. I'm sure there's more, and it will end up being a top 10 list. See # 1 from list below for explanation why they are coming slowly.

Friday, October 19, 2007

List Friday #1

Top 5 Postpartum Changes

5. Sleeplessness. That insomnia that has plagued you for your whole life (except for coming in handy for a few years during college) is now a handy tool that you can use to manage your busy hands-on parenting life on only 3 hours of sleep a night.

4. Broken thermostat. You are cold a lot of the time due to vitamin and hormonal fluctuations. Except when your milk is coming in; then you have 300 degree mounds of flesh stuck to your chest. Like a nice big hot flash. Once it is colder I'm sure I'll look forward to this.

3. Soft heart. Really - you cannot hear or read about child abuse or neglect cases without tearing up and wanting to adopt every needy child. This really gets in the way of reading the newspaper. Luckily CNN is still an option, as they just keep updating the Britney story and even though she lost custody of her kids, I'm pretty sure you don't have to worry about them.

2. Hair loss. Your hair falls out, thinning over your whole head in an alarming fashion. All of a sudden. Allegedly, it grows back in. I'll let you know if my hormonal tonsure fills in. Thank god it is hat season.

1. Postpartum aphasia. At 38 and 42 years old, I think that since we waited so long to be parents that we'll never get our minds right, shifting right from this fatigue & over stimulation mindfuck into pre-menopause memory loss. At least we have lots of bibs for when we become drooling idiots.

10-20-2007 Edited to add:

#6. Preternatural hearing. You will develop the ability to hear a soft silicone pacifier drop two inches from the baby's mouth to the mattress from 50 paces away. I am still waiting to develop the skills to ignore the ensuing cries of protest.

Even though it was 75 and muggy today...

Winter is coming. How about a non-baby photo?

I have a meeting tomorrow - Saturday! - morning at 9 am at a local coffee house. A subset of the Mom's Group are is meeting to map out an actual schedule of regular events so the long New York winters don't consume our souls. We can't count on running into each other in the parks any more. I love this town - this group of women is increasingly interesting and fun to be around, as we all get to know each other. I'll be almost stag - I'll leave Homestead Mama and Pequita at home and just tote the boy, who'll sit agog and grinning or sleep through it. I intend to splurge and get a big double-shot latte and maybe a scone. I told H-mama that I won't be long, but I'm already having fantasies of getting a New York Times and staying a little longer than is necessary, enjoying the Pequita-less peace.

I'll be very pleased to have a schedule of events with other humans. I'll be trying to fill up my family's winter dance card, as we ALL do better when we aren't stuck in the living room all day. I'm finding that I need to work a little harder then I expected to figure out how to be a happy SAHM - there is a marked difference between working 50+ hours per week in my old office and filling that time myself.

Check out the census info for your zip code here. Interesting to see how you measure up to the Jones's.

Joy, thwarted

The local children's science center, the distance to which is approximately the exact amount of time it takes Pequita to fall asleep (thereby rendering the trip useless, since Monito doesn't so much enjoy the exhibits and toys as much as the profile of my chest these days) has FREE WIRELESS available on site that I can get from the parking lot.  I brought my laptop to blog in Word, but lookie!  Here I am! 

So before Monito tires of his rattle, let me note down the milestones of late.

-bringing me shoes to try on.  Hers, ours, sandals, etc. 
-asking for help all the time.  She approaches an object/task and grunts in her 'help' tone.
-signs for 'more' when eating her favorite foods.  Not consistent - she only seems to associate more with certain foods.  Also signing a bit for nurse.
-dances when we sing. 
-if I start to recite one of her favorite books she'll run across the room and dig around, find the correct book, and bring it to me. 
-insists on helping me unload the dishwasher.  She sits on the counter and plucks one piece of silverware out of the basket at a time and watches while I name it and place it in the proper spot in the drawer.  She doesn't yet know if I call it the wrong name or put it in the wrong slot, but that is only because she is so excited to get to the next piece.
-she is talking & responding back to us in proper tone, inflection and syllables for a real answer.  Still gibberish, but...

-standing with support. 
-refuses to face backwards over my shoulder to travel, insists on twisting around and facing front.  This renders him a little shakier, but his abs are strengthening with practice bobbing around.  This skill also allows him to aim his spit up anywhere he likes.  Joy.
-he's staying awake for increasing amounts of time. Usually naps for 2 hours and then is up for three or so. 
-seeks out his sister in the room, following her voice or sounds of her play

...he just woke up, so I'm off to enjoy the science center.

...and couldn't get a strong enough signal to send it until I got home.  Bah. 

Thursday, October 18, 2007


I am having trouble posting. I think about text for posts to write much of my hands-busy / brain-free time, but to actually sit down to write them means stealing time from my kids, my partner or my sleep. I’ll keep doing the best I can, but that is why you all get so many pictures. To give you a more complete picture of much my blogging, imagine me sitting on the couch praying that the animals stay quiet while one baby sleeps with the other nursing happily and me typing on the computer, key by key, using the TV remote control as an extension so I don't disturb them. Hopefully this will allow you, gentle readers, to have compassion when you notice typos or bad capitalization.

Things are going great. Everyone is thriving, I am mostly enjoying the rhythym of my days, and I'm not pining for work. The fly in our ointment (this week) is that the babes just cannot get themselves on track – my track, that is, which is mainly that they sleep at the same time. Pequita, in the midst of her 55 week sleep regression, will only fall asleep on the boob or in the car. On the boob is tough, since Monito is in the midst of a growth spurt that is leaving me drained (in both senses) and I don't have much milk to spare. Pequita gets a couple nurses from me a day, and I supplement with Homestead Mama's frozen stash. Umm, that is my frozen ice cream stash next to the breast milk. Calcium, you know? Monito gets to eat all he wants from me, and if I'm to be able to nurse him through the night I still have to supplement with 6 oz of frozen stash I was lucky enough to be able to set aside in the early weeks. Yay, overproduction.Pequita is shifting from three to two naps a day, and after a few miserable days of power struggle (with a ONE year old, folks. Duh.) when I tried to get her to go to sleep in her & pl.ay, I decided that AFTER the regression would be a better time to learn new tricks and have ritualized a marvelous park'n'sleep system. If the gods are smiling and I time it right, we drive the 20 minutes to our current favorite park and she sleeps on the ride and in the parking lot for 90 minutes, we play hard for 3 hours with a nice long snack time, and then she falls asleep on the ride home and will take a 2-hour nap *if* I leave her in the car in the driveway with NPR softly on the radio and the vent fan on low for white noise. Sadly, Monito awakens immediately upon the engine being turned off. I sit in the car and nurse and play with Monito and do crossword puzzles, nap, and catch up on phone calls. I used to fantasize about doing these things in a cafe while well dressed and bantering with friends about new literature and current events, but how different REALLY is the front seat of my parked car?

Whoops, time to go home...

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Pequita's 1-year Stats

At her 12 month checkup, Pequita weighed in at 24 pounds (80th percentile) and measured 28.5 inches (50th percentile). If they leave us waiting in the exam room, it gets hot, so I open the door to get air and remind them that we are waiting with a baby. She had a great time running around. Her lead levels had gone up, from 8.9 to 9.5, = not in a way that is statistically significant. The doc was pleased to hear about us finding the likely source of lead exposure, and we'll re-test her in 3 months. He has high hopes that she'll have a markedly lower level then. Her exposure to date should have no significant effect on her development, other than the lowering of her I.Q. by up to 7 points. This whole episode has been and will continue to be a hard thing to endure. I am sick of all medical and plumbing professionals saying, "Boy, I've never heard of a clawfoot tub causing lead exposure." I can't believe that no one mentions this! Clearly, folks know about it:

The Golden Boy

Monito has sadly graduated to a convertible car seat. Sadly because this means I can't leave him sleeping in the infant carrier and tote him around. He'll be in the same seats as his sister. I put his together, got it all adjusted and set it on the dining room floor until I had enough daylight & time to install it. Homestead Mama's bastard cat peed in it overnight. The cover is now in the tub soaking in enzymatic cleaners, and the base has been hosed off and blow-dried to keep it from rusting or gumming up in a way that could effect its functioning. H-mama has kept both her cats outside and away from me all day, which was a good plan. I installed the other new car seat in my car so I'm ready for the week to start, and we'll put the now tainted one in H-mama's car once we are assured it is clean. Goddamn cats. I don't ever want to own cats again once these last two die (and may that come swiftly.) Grrrrr.

Pequita's week of birthday

Last weekend, we celebrated with Homestead Mama's father visiting and we had a fruit tart. This week, my parents came to stay and we had strawberry shortcake (strawberries being Pequita's favorite). We stripped her down so she could messily enjoy the experience. Much to all our amusement, she also was sadly introduced to the wonders that are canned whipped cream by Hottie friend. (As always, that is Monito you can hear fussing next to the camera microphone.) She runs to the fridge when we open it now, craning her neck to spot the can of nirvana in the door.

She clearly loved the wrapping paper and all the tearing apart, but also seems quite invested in the toys she received. My mother gave her a doll that has a bottle of its own, and immediately Pequita started feeding it. She loves it. We named it Beebo, after the hippo in The Bellybutton Book, who calls his bellybutton 'beebo'. This doll has quite the outie.

Pequita and Cody

They have formed a friendship. Pequita borrows all Cody's rawhides & cookies, then gives them back, all with no growling on either part. Excellent.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Birthday Girl

My parents arrived with a trunk load of clothing & hand-me-downs for kids. In and amongst the fantastic loot was a tutu. I immediately set it in the give-away pile (which was tiny - this is some good stuff) until I thought about it, and tried it on Pequita for kicks. She loved it. She liked running around in it so much that I took her upstairs and put on appropriate clothes under it. The trainer pants and polar.tec sweatshirt didn't do it justice. With a black Peter Pan collared onesie and purple leggings she was so sleek and lovely she ran around singing for a good long time. We took advantage of this. Behold.

Experiment #7,942

Conclusion: yes, pumpkins float in the dog's water bucket.

Savant at One Year Old

Maracas love.

Pequita is ONE YEAR OLD!

We are jetting out - in the rain- to the pumpkin farm, which has goats & animals and many pumpkins and yummy things to eat.  Grandma & Grandpa are in from Boston and Homestead Mama is home from work, so we'll have a great, if wet, time.  Then home for strawberry shortcake and presents.
More later!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

You know you're a parent when...

the answer to the question "is that too much poop on my pants (shirt/sock) to go out in?" is no.

Individual Time

The babies haven't been on the same nap schedule for weeks.  This can get a little tiring, and the house is in more of a shambles than usual because I don't have down time for naps and tidying, but it is so nice to get uninterrupted time with each kid.  They really like to have Mommy all to themselves, and I am holding up pretty welzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Monday, October 8, 2007

Lead Source

If you've been reading the blog you know that Pequita had an elevated lead level at her 9 month pediatric appointment - she was one point above 'acceptable normal range'. We were surprised and upset. We have been removing obvious possible exposure sources from the house, busying ourselves and our friends with stripping some furniture and generally obsessing about her toys, many of which are not German-made wooden beauties stained with food-grade dyes. I bought lead tests to check what may be lead rich, and removed a few things from the house. In researching cheaper, bulk packs of home lead tests I read that you can use them to test bathtubs. Hmmmm, thought I. We live in an old house we're renovating, and bathe the babies in the clawfoot tub we were thrilled to salvage from the original house. The enamel was slightly pocked in places, but it was still nice and usable. In an attempt to clean 70 years of hard water off the tub, my mother used a product (link here) that further ate the enamel off the tub, but made it nice and white. We figured that the slightly rougher bottom was actually for the better as it would act as a helpful non-skid surface for the kids.

So last Thursday night I used my last lead test to check the upstairs bathtub for lead on a whim. Here are the instructions (note second bullet point): And here is the tub, with a toy for color reference: There are 3 places I dabbed the test fluid, and this dark intense color was achieved immediately upon chemical meeting tub surface. When I tested other toys or furniture that had lead paint on it, the test took sometimes a full minute to register a blushing pink. Sheee-it. We've been bathing our babies in lead soup for their whole lives. The guilt is as intense as the darkness of the tell-tale fuchsia color of the test. We are grateful that we never made a bath a part of our bedtime ritual - Pequita has been much more frequently spot-cleaned or taken into the shower with us than allowed to play in the tub, but still, she's had a tubby one or two times a week for twelve months. Monito has only had a handful of tubbies, since he's been so small and floppy that the baby tub is safer and easier. However, now when I look at the beautiful pictures like this I am not going to remember just the lovely bonding time.
There are many articles and much information about the effects of lead levels on children, and it has been proven to cause decreased IQ and also emotional difficulties. One study from 2003 released by the NEJAM showed that prolonged elevated blood lead levels lowered a child's IQ by an average of 7.4 points. Now any loss is bad, but I'm relieved - 7.4 points lower on the IQ scale is not going to keep her out of university.

She will be one year old next Thursday on October 11th, and we have a 12-month pediatric checkup scheduled for the day after. I annoyed the nurses at the doc's office by insisting that we [A] want to have a venipuncture done at the hospital instead of the less accurate finger-stick in the office (because we expect the lead level to be higher, and I think it is worth the extra pain and agony - and it is agony for all of us to have her stuck with a needle - to get the most accurate reading possible) and [B] that we do the test this past Friday BEFORE next week's appt with the doctor so we'll have the labs back when we meet with him. This just seems prudent and well thought out to me, and saves me a co-pay and return visit since they would have checked at the appointment and we'd have had to return to have the 'oh-my-god, what-do-we-do-now' discussion. I want a baseline from which to monitor this closely. Now that we've found the source of her exposure, we can expect it to go down, but how much & how fast I have no idea.
Note to parents of young children: ask before the first phlebotomist sticks your child if they are the most experienced person available to draw blood from a baby. Pequita's first tech failed to get a vein and we had to calm her down enough to allow the second person - this time brought down from the peds ward - to try again on her other arm. We were pleased that she let them have the full force of her wrath at top volume. If our hearts were going to break putting her through this process twice, then they bloody well better suffer a bit too. We took her out for ice cream on the way home to cheer everyone up.

Homestead Mama and I were in those tubbies too, and will have to get our levels checked too. We're breastfeeding, and lead loves to adhere to nice fatty milk and be passed on to your child.

I just deleted a string of curses, but be creative when you imagine what swears *you'd* insert here.

Sunday, October 7, 2007


Hottie Friend pointed out that I asked folks to de-lurk and then didn't respond. Not true! I have many lovely things to say to each commenter, it has just taken me a few days to carve out the time. As it is, I am perched over the laptop which is on the heat stove in the living room (the only Pequita-proof spot) with Monito in a sling, his gajillionth spit up since the last feeding coursing hotly down my leg - and he's still rooting for more - while Pequita plays with her first ever birthday gift, a car that makes noises from Homestead Mama's father. H-Mama and her dad are upstairs installing the lead-free doors; they look lovely. Monito has turned a corner and is sitting and standing with less and less aid. He's also increasingly vocal. Just look at what Hottie Friend can elicit:
We found the source of the elevated lead in Pequita's blood. That is a post-in-progress, and it will be up shortly. Suffice it to say that it wasn't the doors, but we are pleased with the newer healthier version anyway.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

one more thing...

H-Mama just came home, so I wanted to take another minute to post more.

I'm extending the de-lurk through tomorrow, since I had technical difficulties and couldn't remind you all yesterday. Comment! Comment! Comment! Tell me who you are, how you got here, anything you want.

From Academomia, I copy a question:

"If you had free childcare for 24 hours and an unlimited budget, what would you do?"

Well, I'd like to sleep in but wouldn't want to waste the day. After consultation with H-Mama, we decided this is the plan: we'd spend the morning interviewing contractors & landscapers. We'd hire someone to raise our house, dig us a new foundation which would allow for an actual dry, usable basement *see below*. We'd hire some handy landscapers to pull out the overgrown tangle of garden beds and make happen the stone walls and perennial beds we've been seeing only in our mind's eyes since we bought the place. We'd also hire a crew of nice painters to paint my garage and finish stripping the two lovely 100+ year-old step-back cabinets of the lead paint. We'd pay all these nice contractors in advance (usually risky) with our unlimited budget and let them do the work later in the month.

Then, with our minds at ease finally, those tasks taken care of, we'd spend the day touring the plant nurseries selecting our landscape. We've got 10 acres that we want to fill with trees, gardens, outdoor rooms, and a hot tub/ sauna house. We need to select trees under which to bury Pequita's placenta, and what little we have from Monito's birth (just the belly button stub, since they forgot to save us the placenta.) Hey, it's not like we made a stew out of them or anything.

Then a nice dinner with wine on the way home, arriving back at the house just in time to nurse down the babies and go to sleep.

Perhaps this stretches the limits of the question, but we got a little caught up in the fantasy. It was a nice 10 minutes discussing it, though. Thanks for the idea, Becca!

*Our 150 year old farmhouse has has a river running through it for the life of the house. Blech. Very Witch, eh? It was hard to hang our beautiful tankless hot water heater down their, but I think it gives the space a tiny shred of respectability, don't you? (Don't answer that.)

Come out, come out, where ever you are!

Delurk, you varmints!

The Great Mofo Delurk 2007

My Internet - which includes our digital phone - went out yesterday. Nice, eh, for me to ask you to delurk when I'm not even posting? It is back up, and I offer you these lovely pictures in lieu of a real meaty post since both children are awake and clinging to my legs (the cable guy scared Pequita, and Monito is just hungry like always.) Now that I've been here & waiting since noon for the repair guy, were LEAVING the house and going to the park. We ALL need to run around a bit.

Thanks for reading!

(And by the way, I'm ditching the digital phone for the annoying expensive landline. I have a cell phone, but it only works if I'm next to the stove in the kitchen, in the driveway or in the MBR and stand on one leg with my arms in the air and a metal hanger in my mouth for reception. An exaggeration, but not by much. What would happen if the baby starts choking in the bathroom, or falls down the stairs and I have to choose between resuscitating them and staying on the line in the other room? Unacceptable.)

Pequita and Homestead Mama. Can you spot the missing slipper that H-Mama tried to find for 20 minutes before I spotted it? (Hint: it has a red lining, and she had just been holding Pequita on her hip.)
Monito in his fall togs and wearing Pequita's beloved strawberry felted hat. Finally winter is coming. I barely made it through all the hot months.

Monday, October 1, 2007


Today was my brother's birthday. IS my brother's birthday. Jason was born in 1970 and was the youngest of us three kids. He was not afflicted by the anxious brain that is passed on through my paternal line and that my dad and sister share with me. He didn't seem to doubt himself, and couldn't understand the rest of us being so nuts. He was easy going, affable, goofy, and collected friends like few others that I know. He was an uninspired student, much more interested in anything other than his studies. He took a cooking class in high school and in doing so found something that he excelled at and was excited to be doing. He later graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. He was amazing and confident as an adult.

We grew up in a family that was full of love, fun, intelligence, music and travel. It was also dark, privately miserable, frightening, fraught with dysfunction, and isolating. My siblings and I were pals and cohorts as well as in competition with each other for a limited amount of positive attention. The bond was very strong as a result, even if we had differences that inhibited our really valuing each other when young.

As his big sister, I had the unmitigated pleasure of pounding bullies on the school bus who were picking on my brother when he was small. I got to show him my special hiding place in the woods near our house, and got to be generous and take him along sometimes when I went out with my older (= cooler) friends. I went and picked him up in the middle of the night when he wrecked his motorcycle and didn't want to tell my parents. I bought him beer when I turned 21, and made sure he had rides home when he was too drunk to drive. I got to feel older and wiser, and he allowed me to feel generous with my attentions.

He saved my butt several times. I went to college in Boston near our hometown, and he lived there too. He once appeared out of nowhere in a bar when I was being hassled by a particularly nasty man and I was actually concerned for my welfare. I hadn't ever seen him be manly, tough and mean, but he put on a very good show and shook off the nasty man and then took me out with him and his buddies for the rest of the night. I spent a good amount of my twenties fairly miserable, clinically depressed and either self medicating or on antidepressants to keep myself afloat while I was going through therapy to exorcise the family demons, as well as my own personal ones. He knew this and used to show up at my house in western Massachusetts for unannounced visits. We'd go out to the movies, to a bar, to the nearby reservoir to sit and look at the stars. He'd return to school after a day or two knowing how much it meant to me for him to visit.

He died shortly before his 23rd birthday when he was hit by a speeding taxi on a dark and rainy Boston street while riding his bike. He was just starting out his life with a new job, a new apartment, beginning to realize his dreams. He eventually wanted to open up a brew pub, making his own beer and cooking great food. He wanted a wife and kids, and thought that it sounded like a great idea to be the mayor of his town when he got a little older. He could have done it, too.

This is the first time his birthday has come around when I have children. Their existence has made his death, his active non-presence, all that much more painful. My children will never have an uncle they are close to, given the current makeup and location of Homestead Mama's family. The loss of my brother is ever greater since we are a family of two moms, with grandfathers who are in their mid- to late-60s.

I am saddened that he never really knew me as a happy person. I was on the arduous path of learning how to quiet my decidedly unquiet mind when he was killed. He only ever knew the weenie men I selected as boyfriends (I didn't come out until I was 29) not the wonderful, loyal, robust, beautiful woman I finally chose to spend my life with. Jason would have loved Homestead Mama, with her strong work ethic, lack of bullshit, and her quick smile. My certainty that they would have gotten on famously is painful and pleasing in the same moment.

The anniversary of his death each labor day weekend is never as hard as each birthday that passes without him getting any older. Homestead Mama called me today to suggest that we think about having an 'Uncle Jason Day' as the kids get older where we remember him for them, talk about him and try to give him a little bit of presence in their lives. I'm not sure that can be done without being maudlin and creepy, but we'll see. That she called to offer the suggestion moved me to tears.

I'm going to be hugging my own children a lot today with the memory of my brother Jason in the front of my mind. The losses in life make the gifts that much more valued, but I'll be goddamnedif the losses don't keep knocking the wind out of me.