Monday, June 23, 2008

It's been a while

Hasn't it? Sorry, folks. It's a blogging problem, when you don't blog for a while you feel like you have to sum up everything that happened since you last blogged, and as you procrastinate that amount just grows and grows. Plus I've been busy with my Google Reader feed, my Wii games, and my son who has stopped sleeping through the night (again.) Plus the end-of-school-year co-op duties, plus Scott working long hours, plus no cleaning lady, plus (New feature!) date nights. Life here is cluttered.

For reals, though, a quick update for posterity's sake: Nate has been walking and climbing. He has some words: Mama, Dada, and Bye (Ba-ie!). He will also say (sing?) ro-ro-ro-ro if someone else sings "Row Row Row Your Boat." Then there are the words he only said for one day: na-Nan-na (for banana), and then, a couple of weeks later, ah-poul (for apple.) Nate is an incredibly cute little cuddly person. This works for him, as he is going through a serious separation anxiety phase. I end up holding him a LOT, especially at the playground. Current Nate nicknames: Snuggle Butt, Cuddles McGee, Little Snorgler.

This is Tallulah's last week of school as a Dragonfly. In the fall she'll be in the Rainbow class, which means that, like some whacked-out hippy child, she's currently a Rising Rainbow. She is sweet and friendly and precociously clever. At our recent parent/teacher conference her teachers said she'll interrupt to correct them if they skip words while reading aloud to the class. She will also complain if something is "boring" (this made me cringe.) And she's apparently been giving out her phone number and address to strangers she meets at the park. Whoops! So Scott and I explained that she can't give out that info unless we say it's OK or unless it's to a police officer during an emergency. I don't want to put the fear of strangers into her (yet?), because I cherish her sociability and openness. And she's still so young that wherever she goes she's being watched by a responsible adult, so the chances of some trouble befalling her are quite slim.

She starts day camp next week. They'll be taking a bus to the park (or the gymnastics studio, or Coney Island, or the pool, or to the horse stables, etc.) every day, singing special camp songs along the way. I am hoping the ritual and the distraction of the songs will help nullify any anxieties she might have re: me not being able to "find" her. I think she'll have a great time.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

What we've been up to

Tallulah has been drawing a lot, and by "a lot" I mean I have to push her to do other things, like eat dinner or leave school. Current artistic theme: cats with 2-9 legs*, extended claws, eyebrows, and open, smiling mouths, often with attached speech balloons with the word "Hi" in them. She will fill a page with cats doing various things: sleeping, eating, pooping, taking someone's order (as if working at the Krusty Krab), playing at the playground, etc. Some cats will be thickly scribbled over; those are "blankets." Some cats will be circled; those are the cats' beds. When she is finished she folds the paper in half and then writes on the outside portion. Usually it is something like this: "MAMA THE CAT TREE TALLULAH CAT" (which means For Mama: The Cat Tree, by Tallulah Cat.**)

And Tallulah has also been reading. I mean she can actually, really, for real, fluently read. She's been reading a bit for months but recently she's gotten very good at it and has been reading books to herself, for fun. She just turned four. I am bragging, or something, but I am so proud of her and kind of freaked out by how smart she is that I can't help myself. She can also write, as I mentioned above, and has drawn/written actual comic-style situations, like a beaver tickling a cat while waiting for the potty, and the beaver is saying "tickle" and the cat is saying "hee hee."

I can't help but think that the next two years of schooling are going to be tragically boring for her.

Nate has been working on things in the physical realm. He's still not quite walking yet, but he's got the crawling and cruising down to a science. He can now stand unaided and cruise while holding on with only one hand. So he's close. He's been climbing stairs, which he loves. And today at the playground he discovered the Fun of Slides. He crawled up the stairs and then slid down the slide, head/arms first, giggling madly, over and over. Until the time I got distracted and he slid right off the end of the slide and face-planted on the thankfully cushy playground surface. Oh, the guilt!

Nate also discovered the sandbox today. His response to being placed in the sandbox? NO THANK YOU WTF IS THIS STUFF PICK ME UP UP UP. He did sleep through the night last night for the third time ever. EVER. So let's optimistically call that a mini-trend.

Meanwhile he isn't saying any words yet. A couple of weeks ago he seemed to be saying "Mama" and "Dada" with purpose, but he's stopped doing that recently. Maybe his brain is just working on these walking and sleeping projects right now, and the language project is being shelved for the time being. He is very interested in figuring stuff out, in a physical way; he will pick something up and pull it and push it and try to take it apart and basically test all of its properties. So that reassures me that he's not PROFOUNDLY retarded, at least.

Scott has ended his 9-year employment at The Nation and has started a new job at a non-profit stand-up up-start start-up. He wears a suit every work day now. It is a change.

And I have been taking care of everyone, sort of. I've been having a hard time of it, though things are getting better. It is spring. Flowers are here, and leaves are coming. The playground and the park beckon.

Bonus entertainment: That Phone Guy, who talks into things that are not phones, got a new model a few months back. This video will show you.

* She adds as many legs as the body's circumference allows.
** Because she likes cats so much that "cat" is part of her name now.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Gilda knew.

How did Gilda Radner know what my daughter was like BEFORE MY DAUGHTER WAS EVEN BORN? It's uncanny. See for yourself here.

And I apologize for the ad you are forced to view beforehand. Feel free to mute it and close your eyes during those 18 seconds.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Breaking our hearts

Tallulah to Scott: Daddy, you're joking me! You don't live here, you live at work!

Tallulah to me: So only boys work, right Mommy?

These encapsulate my current problems in a heartbreaking nutshell*. Scott got a new job and is going to have a long period of overlap between the old and new jobs. Which means longer hours away from home. Meanwhile I'm going nutsy from lack of adult interaction and personal creative time (plus lack of sleep.) Also I'm not sure what I want to do next, professionally. As a result my brain feels like it's all fragmented. I'm having a hard time pulling it together. I fear this will only get worse once Scott starts having to get to work (in a SUIT!) by 9am instead of his usual 10/10:30. I might have to put Nate in day care just to preserve my sanity. What's left of it, anyway.

So our house is full of changes and worries. It's been difficult.

The End! No moral.

* The Heartbreaking Nutshells = my new band

Saturday, February 23, 2008


From this list of humorous educational graphics on the right way to look after baby comes the following all-too-familiar image. It's easy to keep your infant from gnawing on a shoe, but once that baby is crawling about? And you maybe have a preschooler who is interested in monopolizing your attention? Well, some shoes are going to be chewed, is all I'm saying.

PS - a more lengthy/comprehensive post is TK. I know I owe you, people.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Happy Birthday to Nate!

It is Nate's first birthday today. It's currently 11pm, which means that exactly one year ago I was getting my nethers stitched up while watching my new baby get suctioned and slapped due to his "grunting." Nate enjoyed a long, leisurely stay in my womb, but when he decided he was ready to come out he got all in a hurry. Thus my 2-hour-long labor (total!). The short labor gave him a nice round head but a puffy, red face -- bruising due to him slamming into my pelvis after they broke my water at the hospital. The rapid labor and delivery also meant that Nate's lungs didn't have the typical period of squeezing whilst in the birth canal, so he was born with some fluid in his lungs. That's what caused the "grunting," which, although it freaked out the doctors, actually sounded a little like purring or cooing and was not at all unpleasant.

It took me a while to get over the labor. I kept having flashbacks to the pain of it. I didn't have PTSD, exactly; more like I had to process a truly extreme physical experience. I had no pain medication and barely made it to the hospital before giving birth (they broke my water upon examining me and seeing that I was ten centimeters dilated; I was pushing about 2 minutes after that.) Very different from my labor with Tallulah, which took about 24 hours total (about 12 in the hospital) and involved a miraculously effective epidural.

But, look what a year can do! Now I have a baby who can smear frosting on his own sweet cheeks. He's a great baby, so mellow and curious and cuddly and playful. His favorite game right now is Close-the-door-so-Mommy-opens-it-and-I-can-close-it-again, with Chase-Mommy-down-the-hall-with-my-little-slapping-hands-and-giddy-smiling-panting-sounds
a close second. He's so sweet and cute that I forgive him his frequent night wakings and his nap resistance. That's a lot of cute. Happy birthday, baby.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

There was a pox upon our house.

Not an actual pox but a nasty virus that gave Lula a high fever for several days and then colonized Nate's lungs to such an extent that he ended up in the hospital. It's been a rough couple of weeks. The Tallulah thing was fairly bad; she had to stay home from school for three days, she was a bit more sleepy than usual, lost her appetite, had the runny nose and cough combo, etc. But she never got alarmingly ill. Nate, however, demonstrated the true crappiness of the baby immune system. He got the fever, runny nose, and cough, and upped the ante with rapid breathing, wheezing, and a scary floppiness. The day I took him to the doctor Nate was so lethargic that he would immediately fall asleep whenever I picked him up.

The doctor sent us to the emergency room, where they eventually decided to admit us for a lovely overnight stay. Ever since this experience a rant has been festering in my head, and the title of the rant is, "Hospitals: Why You Gotta Be Like That?"

Hospitals: Why You Gotta Be Like That?
Hospitals, what is your collective fucking problem? People who are staying in you are sick, right? There is something wrong with their bodily health that needs mending. Their bodies need medicine, or surgery, whatever, and then they need sleep. As much sleep as possible, so their bodies have the chance to heal. And here's the thing, hospitals: you have set yourselves up to PREVENT THE SICK PEOPLE FROM SLEEPING. What the fuck is wrong with you? Can you not get your shit together enough, maybe just have a monthly meeting or something, to tell the respiratory nebulizer specialist and the temperature-taking nurse practitioner and the gaggle of non-fluent-English-speaking residents-in-training and the security-tag checker and the blood-oxygen-level metering lady and the I.V. line fiddler and the heel-poking blood-sugar-meterer to somehow coordinate so that there is not a different person coming in to do something invasive to my poor sick baby every five fucking minutes?

So there's that. Add in an inevitably tragic roommate (in this case, a slightly older child who sometimes moaned in pain and whom was moved to intensive care at what was, to the hospital's mind, the reasonable hour of one a.m.) receiving a mystery treatment involving unrelenting beeps and some kind of whooshing/pumping noise and who is (thus) watching TV at an elevated volume, PLUS florescent lights designed to stay on all day and night; and, well, I'm surprised that hospital patients don't simply die from sleep deprivation. I bet they do all the time, and it's just covered up for insurance purposes.

By the way, hospitals, why is "intravenous" the default way for you to deliver various fluids and medicines? If you are dealing with a person who can still drink water orally and who is not severely dehydrated, why not just try giving them a beverage? Why immediately jump to sticking a thready wire-tube into a person's actual bodily veins? I have my own theory. I think that giving fluids intravenously is easier because treating the patient like a piece of meat is easier. Using an IV means you don't have to worry about the patient messing up the incredibly tricky water-drinking thing. Also, using an IV line involves technology, and that always makes medicine seem more science-y and official, something you hospitals seem to like.

Before we were admitted to "upstairs" on Wednesday the ER doctor sent Nate to get a chest x-ray. We waited outside the x-ray room in a chained row of chairs next to an elderly lady in a wheeled gurney. Every couple of minutes an orderly would come and wheel another elderly person behind the first. When we left, there was a string of wheeled beds holding patiently waiting elderly people that stretched out into the hallway. An assembly line, if you will.

Because the hospital, as an institution removed from the scale of humanity, necessarily treats sick people as pieces of meat on an assembly line. Note how difficult it is to be admitted -- to be inserted into the never-ending medical treatment assembly line -- and how hard it is to leave. A person has to assert that she's ready to go, and then push and push to receive the proper instructions and paperwork so she can actually go home. To be "discharged." Jesus.

I won't even go into the cleanliness issues and the corresponding and terrifying infestations of germs. The mystery spills and dried puddles of
unknown effluvia on exam room walls and floors. The steel bars of the hospital crib that are smeared with previous occupants' fingerprints. And I don't have time to get into the staffing problems, the wildly uneven levels of competence (and civility) demonstrated by various doctors and nurses, and the numbingly high number of different nurses and doctors that a person can see during a single 24-hour period. And I'll even give a pass to the cliché that is the woefully unhealthy and inadequate hospital food. (Not that I got the chance to taste any; the sick child's parent isn't fed by the hospital.) Because in the end it all boils down to this: hospitals, you have to remember that your sick people are actual human beings. Have a little compassion, fer chrissakes. A little mindfulness. You're hurting people. Hell, you're KILLING people.

Rant over.

The takeaway is that Nate didn't have pneumonia or the very contagious RSV but rather just a nasty unnamed virus. So his symptoms were treated, first at the hospital and then, more successfully, at home. And he has gotten better. The floppy, wheezing Nate is gone and the sweet, curious, grinning Nate is back. I am very much relieved.

EDITED TO ADD: Scott feels I've been unfair. He pointed out that there were many caring and helpful doctors and nurses at the hospital. A few people in particular made the discharging process smoother than I rather hysterically described here. He also received some food at lunchtime (though it remains true that I never received one for the preceding dinner or breakfast.) So take what I've ranted above with a grain of salt. Thank you.