Saturday, January 19, 2008

Mother of the Year

For the third night running, Piper is doing her best imitation of a college sophomore. A couple 30-75 minute naps during the day, and then not going to bed until 3:00 am (or possibly later, I don't know, because I stop checking the clock at some point, it just makes me crazy). I wanted to work on knitting projects (I have about, oh, I don't know, 15 things going right now), but she shrieks every time I try, so I am on the Internet and she is in the living room chewing on a ribbon and waving things around and taking big drinks of water which she then spits on the carpet. I am also letting her watch TV. I'm pretending not to notice when she is looking directly at the TV screen, because hey Black Beauty is on and at least it's not Elmo, right? That little red asshole creeps me out. I am not about to do anything to disrupt her current state of being, because she is entertaining herself and she is quiet. She is not scooting around the living room screeching when she gets stuck behind the couch. She is not overturning a box of crochet hooks and sticking them in her mouth. She is not pulling papers off the end-table and taking bites out of them.

I feel like a bad mother for letting her watch TV. This does not compare, however to several Fridays ago, which was a banner mothering day for me. That day, in the space of three hours, I did the following:

1. Mistakenly thought she would be okay standing up and holding onto the couch without assistance. So I let go. She stood alone for a few seconds, then fell over backward and conked her head on the carpet with a very audible thump. There was some crying, and tears, and soothing by Ryan. Oh, and Piper cried some, too. I'm only half-joking here. I felt horrible, and Piper spent thirty minutes getting loved up and cuddled by Daddy while I bit my nails and wondered if I'd just given her brain damage.

2. Twenty minutes later, I was eating some blueberry muffin graham snacks and gave her one, because I thought they were too thick for her to bite through and she'd just gum it into messy oblivion the way she does with biter biscuits* and zwieback toasts.* What happened was she liked the blueberry graham snack a lot and promptly bit off a large, extremely choke-sized piece, which Ryan and I had to take turns using our fingers to dig out of her mouth. She gave us a confused look and then cried as though we'd broken her tiny heart. Not angry sobs, miserable ones, directed at us for stealing her tasty snack. So then I felt even more horrible.

3. Thirty minutes after that, as we were getting ready to go out to dinner, I paid too much attention to the television and not enough to my child, who wriggle-rolled off the couch onto a pile of shoes, scaring the shit out of me and startling her. It's possible she even found it fun, but by this point in the evening I expected Child Services to show up on my doorstep.

Ah, yes, and as I look over now I notice that the ribbon she is chewing on is red, and has turned her fingers, the front of her pajamas, and very probably the inside of her mouth, bright pink. Faaaaabulous.

I can't believe they let me take her home from the hospital without supervision.

*Totally useless, by the way. Especially for a beaver-toothed baby like mine. She just gums them for a while and smears the resulting brown goo everywhere, then bites off unchewable chokeable-sized pieces, which I then have to dig out of her mouth. And let me tell you, digging slimy pieces of biscuit out of her mouth is guranteed to piss her off. So then I have an angry baby, shrieking and covered in sticky brown goo. Not fun. Not fun at all.

*Not much better, actually, but at least the goo is less sticky and the pieces slightly less chokeable.

Thursday, January 17, 2008


I walked into the living room, and found this:

Pulled herself up all on her own, and was cruising around. It's the beginning of the end for me, I fear.

Also, you may have noticed that a lot (I believe the technical term is "assload") of old posts have suddenly appeared here. That's because I have just caught up on two months' worth of not-blogging, and I figured out how to post pictures here. You see, I am extremely stupid about Zee Komputers and Zee Interrrnets and it takes me along time to figure things out. Due to my newfound time, energy, and know-how, many, many posts and pictures have appeared. So please, by all means, relax with a tasty beverage of your choice (an Orange Crush, perhaps, Nejyerf?) and prowl around.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

32 Weeks

Counting off these early weeks of her life, I can't help but notice that soon we will be at the point where Piper has been out as long as she was in. I think that will be a big milestone for me. I'm not exactly dreading it, but I think it will make me a little wistful. I suppose every parent feels like this at some point or another; I wish we could slow down, or stop for a while, let me catch up and remember each thing better. I wish I could go back and take more pictures/video of her newborn days. One of things I remember most clearly about her when she was first born were her tiny, spidery, old-lady hands, and I do not have a single picture of those precious (albeit slightly creepy) digits. She used to make a certain squawk when she was hungry, and I do not have a recording of it. I wish I'd handled her colicky, screamy nights better (although that one is not entirely on me, as I got much not-quite-wanted "help" due to our living situation). I wish I'd been less stressed-out during her infancy.

That infancy, while technically not over, seems to be drawing fast to a close. She has always been resistant to a lot of the things a "baby" is supposed to do: being held cradle-style, lying like an inert lump, eating baby food. She has always wanted to be up, to be out, to make her own way in the world. She wants to be a big girl, I can see it. It's in the way she takes the spoonful of her favorite meal (chicken & homemade-from-scratch noodles) from my hand - no Mama I can do it myself. I want to do it. It's in the way she wants me to hold her hands and walk her around all day long - I have to get there faster! Right now! It's in the way she refuses almost all of the pureed gak that babies are supposed to dig and reaches instead for what I have - What is this crap you're feeding me?! Yours looks yummy. I want that! So quick to grow up, this little girl.

I have given up on most "baby" food - once in a while I can coax her through some rice cereal (only if it has applesauce and tons of cinnamon) or squash, but for the most part she steadfastly refuses the stuff that comes in jars and is so smooth and bland it hardly tastes like anything. She prefers foods she can do herself, finger foods like these things. I was foursquare against any sort of processed or packaged foods, but my mom brought these home for her one day and they were such a hit I haven't had the heart to outlaw them. She's so happy to be able to pick them up and eat them herself, and they're so airy they melt in her mouth and I don't have to worry (as much) about her choking like she did the time I gave her bits of my pita bread or chomping off a bite too big to chew, the way she did with a graham cracker. Not only that, but her preoccupation with feeding herself means when I need some hands-free time (like, um, right now), I can plunk her in the high chair with 10 or 12 little star-shaped puffs on the tray and she goes to town, happily (and, thank the gods, quietly) chowing down.

It's hard for her to feed herself other foods that she can/will eat - things like sweet potatoes, blueberry muffins, and the all-time favorite chicken & noodles mentioned above. I can mush them up a bit and use the spoon, but a lot of the time it ends up everywhere but in her mouth. She has four teeth, but they're all in the front (like a beaver, heh), and she can chew (erm, gum) things pretty well, but chunks of food big and solid enough for her to pick up are usually too big for her to chew without choking. I've been wanting to try Cheerios as a finger food, but I've been afraid they were solid enough for her to choke on. When we were out with some other moms and babies the other day, she tried some and seemed to like them, so we'll give it a go.

Her favorite activity is to have someone hold her hands and "walk" her around. She does most of the work - hold up her own weight, moves her own legs, picks the direction - she just doesn't have the balance down yet. I think she's gotten taller or stands more upright recently, because as of a week ago I don't have to stoop quite so far. She loves to chase the cats while she's walking, and when ever she sees one she will book in that direction. She doesn't do anything to the cat once she catches up to it, she just sort of stands there like "well, run some more, wouldja?" As soon as another cat walks by, we're off again. It should make for some fun times once she can walk on her own. I plan to let her chase the cats as much as she likes, all day long if she wants to. Hopefully they'll wear each other out and make my life a little calmer by day's end. Dream on, I know.

She can crawl, mostly. It's not the classic hands-and-knees crawling, it's more of an Army-crawl/scootch/inchworm, using her arms to pull and her toes to push herself along. It's amusing to watch and very, very fast. I cannot leave her unattended at all anymore. She can rocket to the edge of the bed, the top of the basement stairs, or the business end of the vacuum cleaner faster than I'd ever have imagined. I have had more mini heart attacks in the past two weeks than in my entire life up to this point. And she just keeps getting faster.

She eats paper. Really eats, like takes big bite out of it and chews them up. I am constantly digging soggy chunks of paper, cardboard, magazine pages, and wrapping paper out of her mouth. Anything even vaguely paper-like that comes near her, she will eat. She even bit chunks out of the plasticky-foil wrapping paper my sister wrapped her Xmas present (a baby signs book & flashcards) in. Earlier this week, I found her yanking books out of the book-case and chewing on them. She sucks on strings and unrolls balls of yarn. She picks at the carpet and puts any debris she finds in her mouth. Actually, she puts everything in her mouth.

All of these things have caused us to mark a very different kind of milestone here at Tragically Ordinary. Several weeks ago, I was puttering in the kitchen when I noticed a suspicious amount of quiet in the living room. I bolted around the corner to discover Piper, with soggy pieces of bank statement hanging from her mouth as she picked at a staple embedded in the carpet next to the basket of yarn she had dumped over and tossed about. I realized that it had happened, much sooner than I thought it would: I now have to worry when it gets quiet. I thought I'd have at least twelve months before this would happen. But no, here we are.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Why Rent When You Can Buy? Oh, That's Why.

So, my husband is in North Carolina, attempting to teach miscreants teenagers how to diagram a sentence. I am here, holding onto my sanity by a thread down the fort. After much discussion and some frustrating apartment-hunting (online by both of us and in-person by him), we have decided that it couldn't hurt to look into buying a house. This, of course, means applying for a mortgage. Because, you see, you can't really buy a house until you ask The Man for some money and The Man tells you how much imaginary money you'll have to spend.

We went through this once before, in California, before we decided that working two jobs apiece just to own a piece of shit condo in the seedy end of town was not something we wanted to pursue. I handled it all, spending much time on the phone with a very nice lady from some mortgage firm or other, a firm which apparently sold my information to whoever buys that sort of thing, because now I get 10 automated robot telemarketing calls a week on my cellphone about "an important personal business matter" and "the great rate I can give you on your current mortgage." Whatever, dudes.

I also handled the documentation and made many phone calls badgering a certain employee of another mortgage company to GET OFF HIS ASS and do something when we had to use that mortgage company in order to qualify for a downpayment assistance program provided by the city and a reduced-interest-rate program for teachers. This guy took our documents and then sat on them for four weeks, while I left him an increasing number of irate messages and finally called threatening to camp out in his office until he filed our paperwork for us. In the end, it didn't much matter, since we didn't want to buy a piece of shit condo in a piece of shit town, but we only decided this after I spent all those weeks trying to get this assmonkey to do his fucking job.

Anyway, this time Max is handling it so far, although I will be the one digging up our tax records and pay stubs and bank statements when it comes time. Max has on occasion sighed heavily and rolled his eyes at my obsessive filing of our personal documents, but a couple of days ago he thanked me for my dedication because he knew all it would take was the flip of a file-box-lid to get what we need.

Monday he called to tell me he called several mortgage people and was only able to get one on the phone. It was a guy, and when Max explained what we're looking for/our situation, this particular mortgage-broker-person said he was just going to run Max's credit/info, instead of ours together, because he thought that would give us a better score and more money. We were under the impression that since we're married, it doesn't much matter, but I guess that's not the case.

I was irritated, because when Max relayed the conversation, I got the distinct impression that this mortgage guy had dismissed me outright since I'm not employed (at least, not in a paycheck-gathering, social-security-accruing sort of way) and am, for all intents and purposes, a Stay At Home Mom. Which, uh, let's face it, as much as I just shuddered typing that sentence, I am. Oh dear, there goes another shudder.

However, this does not mean that I am happy to be cast aside uncounted. Particularly since my credit score is 60-100 points higher than my husband's (which makes it very high, the sort of high that made dollar signs pop into housing lenders' eyes during our first attempt at buying a home). My husband has good credit, but that is mostly due to my influence (and by "influence" I mean constant badgering about paying bills on time, taking over paying the bills so they get paid on time, and threatening to make him eat his credit card if he used it again before the balance was fully paid off). So I am a leeeeetle annoyed that this loan guy is blowing off my very existence.

My irritation with this loan guy's attitude is approaching the levels I reached during our house-shopping days in California, when I endured all manner of sexist comments and attitudes from realtors. I'm still not sure if people involved in the house-buying business are this stupid and offensive to everyone, or if everyone but me is too stupid to be offended.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Unlimited Night & Weekend Minutes

So, Max is Down South, and we are still stuck in the Great White North until we figure out a place for us to live. He gets up at 5:30 am to go to school every morning. I just called him at 12:20 am to tell him something. He wasn't mad. In fact, this sort of thing is pretty typical of our relationship. The conversation sounded like this:

Him (groggily): Hello?
Me (jabbering): Okay, I'm sorry to call you at this hour but I had to tell you this right now or I would forget, okay? So I'm really sorry but I had to tell you this. You remember that one time when we were in the Starbucks and that Sparklehorse song "Shade and Honey" was on only we didn't know it was a Sparklehorse song at the time? And I spent the whole three and a half minutes or whatever of the song going "Damn, what is this? I know this. What is this? I know this song, I know all the words, what the fuck is this?!" but I couldn't figure it out and then we got the Sparklehorse album and I was like "oh, that's the song" and I got all obsessed with Sparklehorse and I listen to the album at least twice a week now?"
Him (patiently): Yeeeaaah...
Me (still jabbering): But we never did figure out where I knew the song from?
Him (still patient): Uh-huh...
Me (teeth nearly chattering with excitement): Well, guess where it's from?! You remember that movie Laurel Canyon that I watched like eight times in a row? It's in there, the guy sings it! The songs in the movie are Sparklehorse songs, the lead singer wrote that song for the movie!
Him (as if a light bulb has gone on): OH! Oh! Yeah!
Me: I just wanted to tell you that.
Him: Well, I love you. Good night.
Me: Me, too. 'Night.

See? I blurt out weird things at random times and he not only follows what I'm saying, he's right there with me.

I love that man.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Happy Friggin' New Year

Max left the night of the 30th for North Carolina, so I rang in the new year on the phone with him. Piper, who was of course NOT SLEEPING, celebrated by pooping at midnight exactly. I'm totally serious. It was a mess that required 10 baby wipes, 2 changing-pad covers, a new pair of pajamas, and 15 minutes to clean up.

We are all sick here. My nose has been running for days, a near-constant trickle and drip. I've resorted to wiping it on my sleeve several times so I don't drip snot on the baby's head. Piper also has The Plague (as we've all taken to calling it), and the accompanying stuffy/runny nose. She uses me to wipe her nose, leaving glistening trails of baby snot on the shoulders of all my shirts.

I sincerely hope y'all are have a better new year than I am right now.