Saturday, June 28, 2008

56 Weeks

She is working on so many words now. Her babbling sounds purposeful, directed. She tries to copy everything we say and do and we remind ourselves to watch our language. She’s very aware. When we laugh at something she does, she looks at us, grins, and does it more.

Exhibit A: the mini-blinds. All our windows have them, and Piper is constantly grabbing them and shaking them, or sticking the cord-ends in her mouth. She knows she’s not supposed to touch the blinds. In fact, when she crumples and shakes them, she’s usually looking right at us and grinning. She continues to grin (and often giggle) while destroying the blinds, looking right at us as we yell “NO! Stop that! NO!” She knows damned well what she’s doing.

We’ve started giving five-minute time-outs in her crib for this behavior. They’re not working very well. At first we gave two or three warnings; now it’s one: “NO! NO! If you don’t leave the blinds alone, you’re going to get a time-out.” She never stops, so she is swiftly picked up and deposited in her crib. We take out all the toys, blankets, and other fun things and tell her “You’re getting a five-minute time-out because you wouldn’t leave the blinds alone.” Most of the time, we can hear her giggling and walking around the crib talking to herself for the entire five minutes. Once in a while, as the kitchen timer counts down, angry shrieks will emerge from her bedroom. When the timer beeps, we take her out and tell her again why she got the time-out. She just laughs and squirms to be put down. I’m pretty sure she thinks all our caring, gentle, hippie-parenting crap is a game.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Oh, Awesome. Now I Am Going To Freak Out.

Among all the other reasons to get rid of our cats, I just thought of a new - very big - reason. Several of them have decided they need to be indoor-outdoor cats and they kill things and leave them outside the house. Until I found a dead bat outside just now, it hadn't even occured to me to worry about rabies. Awesome. Especially since Piper will body-slam and wrestle the cats all the time and some of them have bitten her almost hard enough to draw blood over it.

Nobody is up to date on their shots because we can't afford to keep 9 cats up to date. We can't even afford the $18 rabies shot times nine. It wasn't an issue before, since nobody went outside. But now they won't stop going out. I think they are also bringing a variety of extra bugs in. I woke up this morning with a TICK on my EYELID. Oh, yeah. A bloodsucking bug burrowing itself into my ocular cavity. We had found ticks in the house before, but we weren't sure that's what they were because they were HUGE. We were under the impression that ticks were small and unobtrusively-sized, the better to surreptitiously suck your blood. Surely, we thought, these monster-sized pointy bugs MUST be something else. Until this one attached itself TO MY EYELID and Ryan had to use a heated-up hairpin to get it out.

Possibly the worst part is that I didn't even find it - he did. While we were kissing. He was giving me a getting-ready-to-head-out-the-door kiss when his eyes got all big and he said "You were right. I think those bugs are ticks. You have one on your eyelid." He scratched at it and it wouldn't come off. "Uh, yeah, you have a tick on your eyelid," he said. "And it's not coming off..."

I did not freak out, though. I guess a tick on my eyelid sent me past hysteria into "oh my God, this cannot be happening" territory. I sat there calmly while he went to find something to get it out. I stood there calmly while he pressed a hairpin to a stove burner. I did flinch the first time he poked me with the red-hot metal, but only the first time.

Between the tick and the giant flying cockroach that found its way into our living room last weekend (also due to the outdoor cats), I think I am so over The Glorious South. And having pets.

A NC native friend told me that giant flying cockroaches are referred to as "palmetto bugs" down here, in order to make everyone feel better about the fact that (as our exterminator told me) they live in the trees and there is nothing you can do to avoid them.

I don't feel better.

Edited to add: Oh, and did I mention that fleas are a when, not if type of thing down here? I have been obsessively checking the cats and administering drops to the ones who go outside and vacuuming the couch every single day and the entire house every 2-3 days, but every time I see one of them scratch I want to rent a flamethrower.

Piper likes to run around the house naked (she's become quite the post-bath and mid-diaper-change streaker) and sits on the carpet like that; every time she does I pray pleaseletusnothavefleas please let us not have fleas pleasepleaseplease because if she is sitting naked on a carpet with fleas in it I will have to kill myself.

I can't wait until we can afford to have hardwoods put in.

Also, as I told my husband this morning: Screw camping. I am never going camping again, except maybe in Antarctica, because if I got a tick on my eyelid when I haven't so much as set foot in the backyard in two weeks, let alone gone near the (small strand of) woods behind the back yard...well, I just can't handle it.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

55 Weeks

In order to keep her from squirming away and playing Naked Chase for twenty minutes, I gave her a squeeze-bottle of water to play with during a diaper change. It was similar to the water-bottles with the “sport” drinking tops. She squeezed it, of course, and it gushed water into her mouth. Then she started to gargle with it. That made her laugh, which made more “gurrggggg…” sounds and then I laughed, which made her laugh harder and squeeze the bottle again. This went on for ten minutes, until we were both breathless and soaked and the bottle was empty of water.

Mildly alarming and a little weird but somehow equally as funny was when she later gargled an entire mouthful of breastmilk as I was nursing her before bed.

She’s been cutting some molars and this makes her very crabby, whiny, and hard to please. I threw out my concerns about over-medicating and have been giving her a low dose of ibuprofen whenever she seems too miserable to be helped by ice cubes and mama time. I wish the damned things would just come in already. Which reminds me to worry about the fact that I hardly ever brush her teeth…

Thursday, June 19, 2008

In The Doldrums

Piper is cutting some molars and has been profoundly unpleasant as of late. I am constantly worried it's an ear infection (even though she has not given any signs of such) or internal organ-eating virus (even though Ebola is uncommon in our neighborhood) or it's not teething and she's going to be this horrible, whiny, screamy, clingy creature biting me on the face and collarbone until I kick her out at age 18. I'd take her to the doctor, but we still have no health insurance. I've applied for a low-cost program through the state and spend at least part of every day since I put that envelope in the mail rehearsing begging speeches to use if they turn us down.

I can tell you that a toddler wandering around with a pair of her father's pajama pants on her head is hilarious. Until she starts screeching and biting me again.

We are having problems with the cats, and it's become clear that they have to go. We currently have nine, and really need to reduce that to one or two. This presents a number of problems: finding takers, finding takers I am willing to let actually take the cats home, choosing who stays and who goes. I am stressed and losing sleep over this. I love them, but we just can't keep them anymore. I feel guilty and horrible about it, but there's a big stack of reasons why they need to be somewhere else.

My parents were here earlier this month and bought me a fancy new Nikon D60 DSLR camera as an early birthday present. A week and a half later it's still sitting in its box by the door. Ryan is pressuring me to get it out and use it, but I feel so dumb when I look at it and I don't feel like I'll ever have time to learn how to use it properly. Ryan keeps reminding me that this is the camera I've been dreaming about for over a year, but really I feel like taking it back. It's one more thing I don't have time for, that I'll never be good at, one more symbol of my failed potential.

I am really feeling the crushing lack of personal/leisure time these days. I have barely knit anything since Piper was born, I have to stay up until 3:00 am just to write the few shitty, rambling lines I am capable of by the end of a long day, and I got to read a whole book last week only because I cut my sleep down to four hours a night.

Ryan and I are both feeling extremely isolated. We have no friends here, a situation that I have not been able to improve thus far. We didn't do much for Piper's birthday - it's not like we could have a party, what with the knowing zero people here and all. I wanted to make up for that (and yes, I know it's not like she knows the difference, but I do), so we are taking Piper to Baby Loves Disco this weekend, partly because we think she'll have a blast and partly because are we desperate to meet some other people/parents who are at least a little bit like us.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

54 Weeks

We seem to have a little clown on our hands. She’s always goofing around and trying to make us laugh. Right now her favorite way to do that is to put laundry on her head. When we laugh at her, she pulls the clothing down over her face and walks around. It’s pretty funny. We are probably terrible parents because we also thought it was funny when she bumped into things. We didn’t let her run smack into the walls or anything, but watching her bounce harmlessly off furniture for five minutes was more entertaining than trying to tune in staticky TV reruns.

We’re seeing the first hints of imagination, too; rather than randomly picking toys up, messing with them, and setting them down, she seems to be playing with purpose these days. Last night we watched her appear to lecture a small plastic peacock and an equally pint-sized plastic camel, then make them talk to each other. Then she shoved them into the wires on her miniature bead maze and lectured them some more.

She’s starting to have preferences for certain stuffed animals, too; up until now, she didn’t really care. She’d play with whatever was around. When my parents visited, my mom brought one of my old dolls for her, which is the only “baby doll” she has at the moment. It’s a vinyl-headed soft-bodied thing with painted-on hair and features, and Piper loves it. She also likes the stuffed bright-red “Fox in Socks”. She carries these items around and hugs them. We would always say “awwww!” when we saw her hugging something, and now she has started doing it too. She hugs a doll or stuffed animal and goes “awww!” then looks at us, grins, and does it again. “Awww!” she says, hugging Fox or her doll. Then she tosses it aside. Begone! I am done with you!

Saturday, June 07, 2008

53 Weeks

I will keep doing these, for a while anyway. She keeps doing new stuff every week, and this has become some sort of record of all that, so I guess I will keep writing (erm, typing) it all down.

The walking has turned to running, and for someone with short legs she’s surprisingly maneuverable. Her favorite trick is to squirm away when I’m changing her diaper or when she’s just out of the bath and run through the house buck naked. The Naked Run is pretty funny, especially since she giggles the whole time. When I say “come here!” and chase her, she looks at me, grins, and then runs faster. I have not been able to convince her that Naked Cat Wrestling is not a good idea.

My parents are here for a visit, and my dad is probably never coming back because we are making him work while he is here: two ceiling fans to put up, a crib to put back together, cabinet latches to install. My mom swears he’s done more work in the last 12 hours than he has in the last 12 days at home. Piper is very interested in what he’s doing. She is quite helpful, if you like the sort of help that runs off with half your tools and eats small pieces of hardware.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Fifty-Two Saturdays

I had my baby on a Saturday. 9:33 in the a.m. Pacific Standard Time, in fact. After a long and wearying night, and all the craziness and exhaustion and mean nurses and wishing I were somewhere else, it was a bright, beautiful sunny early summer weekend morning when we went from two to three.

Every Saturday since I have counted off the weeks since that day. Fifty-two Saturdays in all. I can remember cleaning out the fridge when she was one week old and thinking how strange it was that I had food in here older than the baby sleeping in the living room. I can remember when she turned ten weeks old and how much bigger and older she seemed to me, how different from when she was born. I counted off the weeks she’d been outside me and compared them to the same number of weeks from when she was in. At twenty weeks of pregnancy I was “halfway there” and barely starting to show; my twenty-week-old baby rolled over and over and tried to scoot around and made sounds that started to sound close to words. Forty-two weeks marked the point when she’d spent more time outside than in. I counted all those weeks, and the numbers seemed so big but the time seemed so short. Suddenly we were sailing through forty-eight and forty-nine and she was walking all by herself; fifty and fifty-one rushed up and I wished for a few more. I wished I could say “Wait! Stop! Slow down!” and have a little more time before her first year was over and I had nothing left of it but words on a page and pictures on my computer.

The 52nd Saturday was not her official birthday, of course. That fell on Monday. But I quietly marked the day to myself, an anniversary of sorts. I wondered if I would receive a t-shirt of the “I survived” variety now. Of course, that is a silly thing to think, because this mother thing is never past-tense. It is ongoing, ceaseless, constant. So for all my counting weeks of pregnancy and days past my due date and weeks and months of her life, there are always more to count. I will probably be calculating her age in weeks as we drop her off at her freshman college dorm. These fifty-two precious Saturdays will seem like an impossibly small amount of time. She will have had so many Saturdays, I will be unable to believe I ever counted them at all.

Monday, June 02, 2008

One Year Ago Today

Today is Piper's birthday. My baby girl is one year old. In just one year, she has gone from the teensy, spindly, five-and-a-half-pound baby in these photos to a little force of nature who is currently running around the house repeating "Yucky, ucky, it's yucky yucky" over and over, then chasing the cats so she can catch them and poke them in the eyes while asking "Eyes? Eyes? Eyes?"

I love you, kiddo. I hope I'm doing a good job as your mom, and that we have another amazing year.