Tuesday, April 29, 2008

I Has A Baskit

The house is still in total disarray, but the cats can always be counted on to let me know where the comfortable spots are:

Saturday, April 26, 2008

47 Weeks

So, you know about the walking. Let me tell you about the talking. My little miss is quite the chatterbox.

When she’s playing, she’s almost always making some kind of noise, chattering away to herself. She has “reading noises,” a certain set of sounds that come out whenever she’s looking at a book. She has generalized chatter while she’s playing, d’s and b’s and a’s and little squeals Long ago she learned how to wiggle her fist or her fingers against her mouth while yelling and make funny noises. She does that a lot. She’s a really LOUD kid. Nobody ever loses us in a store because you can always hear her four aisles away. Which is not bad, but I can always count on having the loudest kid at any given function and sometimes I really need a quiet kid.

She’s had some words for a while, and even if they were of dubious clarity we always counted them because she used them in context. Mama, Dada, bath, cat, and so on. Recently those words have gotten clearer and she uses them more. “Mama! Mamamamaaa!” she howls every single night while I’m trying to make dinner and she is wrapping herself around my legs because she wants my attention. “DADA!” she cries when Ryan walks through the door, and crawls up to him as fast as she can. “Cats!” she squeals when it’s kitty feeding time and the area around their food bowls is one solid mass of yowling fur.

But by far the cutest word she has right now is “thanks.” It comes out like “ats,” but it is “thanks.” She says it all the time. She’s very into handing you things, so she says it when she gives you something: “Ats.”
And when she takes it back: “Ats.”
And when she gives it to you again: “Ats.”
And takes it back again: “Ats.”
When she offers me some of her graham cracker: “Ats.”
When I decline but she shoves it in my mouth anyway: “Ats.”
When she reaches into my mouth and takes it back: “Ats.”
And when she offers it to the cat, who eats it out of her hand: “Ats.”
So I give her another one: “Ats.”

There’s also “uh-oh.” She used it a lot more about a month ago. Eveything was “uh-oh.”
After she hurled a toy out of the shopping cart: “Uh-oh!”
And watched me pick it up twenty times: “Uh-oh!”
I gave it to her and she threw it out again twenty-one times: “Uh-oh!”
So I chucked it into the basket instead of giving it back this time: “Uh-oh!”
When one of the cats came up and grabbed food out of her hand: “Uh-oh!”
Or when she gave it to them: “Uh-oh!”
Sitting in the high chair, dropping crackers over the side one by one: “Uh-oh!”
And watching the cats eat each one: “Uh-oh!”

She wakes me up most mornings by poking me in the eyes. “Eiss? Eiss?” she asks. “Am-am-mamaa…iss?” And I can never be mad. “Yes, those are Mama’s eyes,” I say. “Mama’s very tired eyes.” Then we get up and I teach her how to use the coffee pot.

On Wednesday of this week, she walked all by herself, for real. I set her down in front of me and she just charged off. She went about six steps alone, before she realized nobody was holding her up. Then she sat down in front of the toy box. But – it was real walking. No hesitation, no stumbling, just WALKING…holy shit!!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

46 Weeks

It’s been a long time since I did one of these (again), and there’s a lot to report. The first order of business is mobility. Not two days after I wrote the last update (at 38 weeks), in which I stated that she was still only doing her Army-crawl, she started full-on hands-and-knees crawling. She’d done it before, a little, but it was not her primary mode of getting from place to place. Then something clicked, and there was no stopping her. Here’s something you may not know: babies can crawl very fast. Turns out my child is also fearless. She climbs stairs, she dives headfirst off things, she tries to follow the cats down basement stairs or out onto the porch. She climbs on stacks of boxes, scales open dresser-drawers, and has an attraction to hot ovens, dishwasher trays full of knives, and strangers’ large dogs. I have spent nearly every waking moment since that first crawl chasing after her, and have had a number of small heart attacks.

Two days ago, I was standing in the kitchen of my new house chopping vegetables to make Thai green curry. I suddenly realized that Piper was no longer underfoot unloading the bottom kitchen drawer that I had stocked with sippy cups and Tupperware in hopes of keeping her out of cupboards full of less baby-friendly items. At the same time I realized this, I heard some very I’m-so-pleased-with-myself baby giggles and looked up to discover the front door had blown open and my daughter was most of the way outside. She had a handful of dried leaves headed towards her mouth and a terribly pleased expression on her face. I bolted for the door and managed to keep her from eating the dried plant life. She grinned at me and laughed. This is more or less how the days go now – one rescue after another.

Particularly since, in addition to crawling, she continues to cruise the furniture and walls, and still loves to have someone hold her hands and walk her around, but now she can walk one-handed. Sometimes it’s our idea for her to go one-handed; sometimes she demands it. Every time, I marvel at her locomotion, the jerky halting steps that propel her forward. If we let go of both her hands, she can stand on her own. She only falls when she realizes she’s not holding on to anything. We have even gotten her to take a couple of STEPS at a time without help. Steps! My baby, walking! Not so very long ago, this was inconceivable to me – that I would be the mother of a toddler.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A Few Notes On Moving Into Your Very Own House

1. If you are at all interested in marital harmony, don't buy a house. These past two weeks have seen some spectacular fights. Fights which our neighbors may have heard, fights which resulted in throwing packs of Post-It Notes at each others’ heads, fights where many unpleasant names were called, fights during which each of us proposed the idea of divorce and the other one pointed out that we have to stay here, we own this goddamned house now and anyway neither of us has anywhere else to go.

2. When you have been stuffed into dorm rooms and apartments since the age of 18, and then spent the past nine months crammed into one room at your parents' house, it's really nice to have several days before your stuff arrives at your house so you can enjoy all that space.

3. When your closing has been pushed back a week and you are not 100% sure until the day before that you are actually going to close this time, the gas company is not sympathetic to your plight and will not give you an emergency appointment so you can have heat over the weekend. Not even if you beg. So we spent our first several days as homeowners still sleeping at my husband's frat house rental place.

4. After the above-mentioned fights about your new home, it is very nice to have a separate bedroom for your baby so you and your spouse can have make-up sex (and make-up-for-lost-time sex; he was gone for THREE MONTHS, people) and not have to be totally silent about it.

5. If you are going to have to stay in temporary lodgings until you get into your house, it is nice if they are only two miles down the road from said house. This may, however, inspire a certain laissez-faire attitude in your husband concerning the moving of your belongings from the temporary house to the permanent one. Most of our stuff was moved in the ReloCube, but there was the carload Max brought with him when he moved here in January (his computer, clothes, etc) and the carload that came down with us (a suitcase of our clothing, baby toys, our mattress, various odds and ends). Since we were in the temporary house over a week longer than planned, our stuff had time to spread out and scatter. I wanted to pack our car as full as possible each time we ran between the temp house and the new one; instead Max preferred to throw, say, a bath towel and two t-shirts into the back seat and call that a load. This made me crazy and led to a couple of the above-mentioned fights.

6. This close proximity of houses may also cause you to leave your cats in the basement of the old house for probably much longer than you should, while you attempt to unpack at your new abode and feel like a horrible person for enjoying your nice new home as a pet-free place. This enjoyment of a pet-free lifestyle may in fact cause you to realize that while you love your pets, you will probably not get any more once these are gone. You may also feel a twinge of despair when you calculate that this will probably not happen until your daughter is in high school. Then you will feel like an even more horrible person.

7. I cannot recommend ABF U-Pack enough. They are cheap, reliable, and extremely accommodating. They showed up exactly when they said they would, they were great about letting us have the container two extra days and then holding it for us until we called for it. Everyone on their staff was friendly and able to answer all my questions whenever I called. I will say, however, that the driver who dropped off the ReloCube warned me to pad and pack everything really well because “these things ride pretty rough.” He was NOT kidding. When the cube arrived, there was a big scratch mark down one side of it (not through it, though, it didn’t pierce the hull so our stuff was untouched). I think had I not resorted to stuffing clothing into the cracks between boxes, there would’ve been a lot more shifting going on during transit. As it was, the heavy round base for our living-room lamp was floating around in there unsecured, and it came out pretty banged up. Some screws and most of the little pins for our other lamps went missing, since I didn’t think to tape them into place. But that’s it. So on the whole, missing the clickers and a couple tiny (and replaceable) screws for some $10 Target lamps isn’t that bad.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Did We Get Our House?

Yes, we did. We closed last Friday (the 4th), a week after we were supposed to, but fine whatever okay great. A few notes on closing a house:

1. We were warned that there would be a lot of signing, but ye Gods! It never ended. I tried to count the times we put ink to paper and lost track somewhere around fifteen.

2. Hearing "no, she doesn't have to sign, her name's not on the loan" was one of the most humiliating moments of my life.

3. Being told "yes, you have to sign there, your name is on the title" was one of the strangest.

4. Ryan and I both got the distinct feeling that the lawyer conducting the proceedings was not terribly impressed with us. He was both older (I guessed somewhere around 60) and dressed in a very nice suit. He came off as being very old-school. One of the last names on the door was his and he probably owned the shiny new BMW parked right outside said door, so our raggedy broke-ass hippie schoolteacher married-with-different-last-names selves probably made him shake his head and wonder what the world is coming to.

5. I am also in the wrong business, because if I figured it correctly, Mr. Old School Lawyer got paid $270 to sit for twenty minutes speaking jargon and handing us things to sign. I'm quite sure he didn't even put together the thick sheaf of papers; that's what first-year associates are for.

6. Although logically I knew everything was on the up-and-up and that we had no reason to be paranoid, as I sat there looking at the long list of fees and terms which I only half-understood, I tried not to panic. Somehow I couldn't shake the feeling that we were getting screwed somewhere in all this. This was not helped when I realized that if we didn't have to pay all these people/agencies/firms to do...whatever it is they do...our payment would be about $200 lower every month. It was also not helped by the fact that most of these "processing" and "document research" and "title search" fees really amounted to paying some company's interns to do a couple Google searches and photocopy the results in triplicate. Our house was built in 2005; it's not like there was a lot of stuff to go through.

We are still not really unpacked, the cats are STILL in the basement of the other place, we have no furniture, and I can't find anything. We just got our own Internet connection, so I no longer have to truck around with my laptop looking for unsecured networks or keep the baby from eating electronics and getting bit by ants while I check my e-mail at the other house. Driving here is crazy, I still don't know where anything is. I am behind on everything, so if I owe you a phone call, email, cup of tea, pie, or anything else, just know that I will catch up eventually.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Temporary Lodgings

Still no house. Ohh, yeah. Still waiting.

We left Saturday evening and drove through the night. I was pretty apprehensive about how my car-hating-child would handle a 10-hour drive, but through the valiant efforts of several adults we kept her up all day, with the exception of a 20-minute nap. She slept most of the way, and we took breaks to feed, change, and release her whenever necessary. There were a few streteches where she screamed for 20 straight minutes, but on the whole it wasn't too bad. Ryan and his dad drove his parents' ailing Dodge minivan, which was crammed with us, our stuff, and all 9 of our cats. There was so much shit stuffed in there I barely had room for my feet.

The worst part was that I had to stay awake the whole time to make sure the two very tired drivers didn't fall asleep at the wheel, so even when the baby was crashed out I was poking Ryan in the ribs or asking my father-in-law if he'd ever been to Charlotte before and which basketball teams he was rooting for. Some time around West Virginia I ran out of polite conversation starters and since I don't know Ryan's dad well enough to just poke him in the ribs or pinch his arm like I did to Ryan whenever I saw the car start to drift or his head start to bob, there were several points when I very nearly screamed out "YOU ARE SCARING THE SHIT OUT OF ME. YOU ALMOST RAN OFF THE ROAD JUST NOW. WE ARE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE GODDAMNED MOUNTIANS, IT'S PITCH-DARK AND STORMING LIKE CRAZY. PLEASE PULL THE FUCK OVER BEFORE YOU KILL US." Twice I deeply regretted my decision to chug two Smartwaters and an Arizona Green Tea, because I damn near peed my pants as he started awake and swerved on the dark, wet road.

We arrived safe, but still have no house. Monday we were told that "the lawyers" who needed that 72 hours to look over paperwork had not even received said paperwork yet. Our mortgage person was reportedly "hopeful" that we would close later this week. Yesterday we got word that we're scheduled for this Friday at 3:00. If we get delayed again my head might possibly explode. I am not sure exactly who is holding up what and which pieces of paperwork are missing. I guess that's all for the best, because if I knew who the weakest link was, you can be certain that I would take Piper and all nine cats down to their office and camp out all day, every day, until each and every piece of paper needed for us to get this thing settled was where it belonged.

Ryan's roommate graciously agreed to let us crash here, as he is away on business at the moment. I am thankful he's letting us use his house (our cats are stashed in the basement, since the roommate is allergic), but it's...um...a bit like a college house. I can't seem to locate the vacuum sweeper and there is a staggering collection of liquor bottles on top of the fridge. There are jugs of apple cider exploded in the freezer, along with some sort of dribbly red alcoholic concoction frozen into wine glasses. They cleaned up a bit before we came, so the bathtub and kitchen floor are reasonably safe, but everywhere there are piles of expensive electronics (ahhh, to be a single male with disposable income), thick layers of dust, cd's, half-unpacked boxes, various types of weaponry (nobody was ever sorry they bought that mace when zombies attack, I guess) and keyboards and video games and glass figurines. The baby is perpetually covered in dust, crumbs and hair (yes, hair) and I have been going crazy trying to keep her clean and out of things.

Last night Piper was cruising along the front of the entertainment center and decided to give the deocorative screen-print tapestry hanging there a good, hard yank. Turns out it was held in place by two ceramic ashtrays, which fell direcly onto her little baby noggin. They didn't break, but a large seashell that had been resting inside one did, and the sharp little pieces flew everywhere. Piper is okay, she got a few small cuts on her head and scared both of us half to death. Two minutes after that I found an extremely large red fire ant trundling along three inches from the baby's leg. I snatched her up, stashed her in the playpen where she sleeps, and then took a shoe and killed the sucker. It was of alarming size.

Piper was screaming by now, standing up in the pack n' play and letting off howls of fury at being treated in such a manner. Despite that fact that it was 12:30 and my husband gets up at 5:30 for work, I marched into the room where he was sleeping, flipped on the lights and said "I don't care WHAT it takes or who we have to kill. We better have our house this weekend."