Thursday, October 28, 2004

The Day After

Grandma's funeral was yesterday.

Saw Uncle Doug for the first time in donkey's years. He is unrecognizable, thin, bald. Had kidney stones which accounts for the weight loss. Bald, well, it's just inevitable. Life hasn't been that easy on him, what with the easy availability of all manner of recreational substances when he was growing up in the 70's and early 80's. I imagine that sort of thing is still easily available but I wouldn't really know; I'm far too dull and lazy to engage in such things.

The service was nice I suppose, in that it was your basic somewhat religious thing, as Grandma was a Christian Scientist (though not the kind who wouldn't see a doctor or take medicine, which prolonged her life at least ten years if not more). It was at this memorial place here in town that hangs over the river, very old, very interesting.

Her body was in an open casket which I could not bring myself to go look at, having seen one open casket and having subsequently told myself that I would not do so again. People don't look the same after they are dead. I wanted to remember her as she was living, not as her body looked after she had left it behind. They closed it as they began the service.

The Christian Science reader (is that what they call their ministers?) blathered on a while which was fine, and a soprano (or some suchlike shrill voiced woman) sang some of Grandma's favorite hymns, and then people spoke -- my mother, my Uncle Doug, and then the Tupperware lady! From the mall that Grandma made Grandpa drive her to every day for exercise and socialization. She was very sweet and said such nice things... I just wanted to go up there and hug her. I may yet go to the mall and find her and take her a photo of Grandma or something and thank her for being there and saying nice things.

And then came time for the Honor Guard to come do the flag ceremony and Taps. We were all sniffly but holding it together up to then, but that threw us over the edge. In particular -- surprisingly -- my brother, who keeps his emotions sewn up tight most of the time so it's all the more shocking when he cries. The last time I remember seeing him cry was when his first son was born in I think 1996, and I only saw that because I was in the room at the time, taking photos.

Then we visited at the reception for a bit and it was time to take the baby home and shovel her into bed for a nap.

My sister-in-law (SIL to those into acronyms) is really very nice but I occasionally wish to thump her. She usually tells the baby, "You're so spoiled!" at least once per visit, not that the baby speaks English as of yet but still, and also laughs at us and calls us New Parents. I think this is because we had some trouble getting Delia to sleep during the day, and floundered a bit and did, in fact, act like New Parents because that is what we are. But when she says these things to me I try to recall that it took them forever to potty train their kids because she let them walk around in soiled diapers for long periods of time... "They are so absorbent anyway, you don't have to change them right away" which I just can't believe is good for their skin... and my theory (NP as it probably is) is that they got so used to having soiled diapers on it didn't matter to them to feel clean at all.

Plus the last one wasn't weaned until he was over three years old. I'm sure that La Leche League would string me up and label me "Blasphemer" for it, but I don't see the value in that. What finally convinced her to cut him off was that they were watching "Who Killed Roger Rabbit" on DVD and the first time Jessica Rabbit made an appearance, with her massive animated pontoons, Seamus looked at her and pointed and yelled, "Num nums!" Hilarious, but nonetheless... it was time.

Well, baby should be waking up shortly and I need to start some sort of difficult or time-consuming task in order to fulfill her fondest wish which is to interrupt me at the worst moment possible. :)

She was an excellently cooperative baby yesterday at the service and everyone agreed that she is gorgeous. I am so proud I could explode, which would be messy, but I know it's just a New Parent thing so I'll shut up now.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Again, not the Waltons...

Turns out Uncle Doug spent the weekend in the big house but got out in time to make his train down here for his sweet old mother's funeral...

Violated a restraining order his ex-wife had just filed against him. Not sure what the situation is over there, maybe it has to do with the custody battle over his son.

Tomorrow is the funeral, I'm not exactly looking forward to it (who would, really) though it will be interesting to see everyone. I have difficulty maintaining my composure, i.e. get all sniffy and sobby and etc, but maybe having the baby along will distract me. I get self-conscious about it because We Are a Stone-Faced People Who Do Not Cry, except of course for me. And it's only gotten worse since the baby. Darn hormones!

Speaking of the baby, we fed her her first rice cereal the day before yesterday. Organic brown rice cereal mixed with breast milk, so it's about as close to saintly food as you can get. She had been watching us eat for some time so we thought we'd see how she likes it; it's a little early, she's just turned five months old today, but not terribly so and I do intend to breastfeed until she's at least one year old, probably longer. We will introduce other foods as they recommend, slowly and etc, holding off on wheat and milk and things like that until after I forget what month. But everyone seems to agree that rice cereal is usually very safe, and so far no ill effects noted.

She seemed to really groove on the cereal, not sure if it was just that she likes to bite the spoon or ??? but she very emphatically CHOMPS! on it and then mushes the food around in her mouth for a while after. We are giving her about one tablespoon at a sitting, once or twice a day, just to introduce her to eating in general. Come to think of it, is it even one tbsp? The directions I got from our doctor called for one teaspoon of cereal mixed with breast milk to make a soupy slurry. So it's hardly any really. She still manages to get some on her clothes, hands, etc, and spends a fair amount of her time trying to suck on the highchair tray, but all in all I'd say it's a success. :)

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Baubles and Treasures

Went to Grandma's yesterday with Mom and helped go through her dresser. I think Mom and Aunt Lea wanted to be sure to remove anything valuable quickly because Grandpa's son LeRoy is there with his girlfriend Jan, and Jan is friendly and all but seems a bit eager to see what kind of hidden treasures might be around the house... She had a copy of some kind of antiques & collectibles catalogue, like a pricing guide, which made me super uncomfortable. Some of the things Grandma had were family things, came from Nana (her mother) and beyond. Carnival glass, a kewpie doll, etc. That sort of thing should stay with the family and not be auctioned off on e-Bay...

Grandma had a lot of little odds and ends in her dresser. I ended up with some costume jewelry -- big brooches encrusted with rhinestones and the like -- which I seized upon like the magpie I am. I so do not wear brooches. But they were so shiny. And reminded me of Grandma, and Nana, and a whole era that is lost now, when women wore white gloves and hats and costume jewelry to church etc. Lea got all the gloves. Mom ended up with some jewelry of various types.

Grandma had already distributed most of her more valuable treasures a few years ago when she started having strokes. She gave Mom two diamond rings which had been Nana's -- Nana who was widowed in her later thirties or around 40 maybe, and never remarried, not for want of suitors but because she was just pretty obstinate I think. The diamonds turned out to be of very high quality, and cut in a fashion that was popular in the early part of the 1900's, like after the 20's nobody used this cut any longer. Mom had them remounted to make herself a wedding ring (she got married last year).

Grandma handed me a ring right off her finger one day in 2001, when Mom and her future husband went on a trip to Turkey. I dropped them off at the airport and then went over and took Grandma and Grandpa out for lunch, and after lunch as I was leaving Grandma just slipped her ring off and handed it to me and told me to give it to my mother when she got back from her trip. When I told her about it, Mom told me to keep it if I wanted to. It is a gold "mother's ring" with five birthstones on it for all of us -- her kids and grandkids, all of us that existed at that time (four more grandkids came along later). I remember when they gave it to her, when I was pretty young, like six or seven years old, and I remember that she always wore it. So she had worn it more or less continuously for thirty years. And now I am wearing it, and it makes me feel close to her.

It was strange to see Lea again, after all these years. She is more or less the same, i.e. looked about like I thought she would, and hadn't changed in personality or mannerism. She was very nice to me and asked about our house, and Julianna, and admired the baby, and although I know she can be the very devil when she is angry, I really want to have contact with her again. Family, I am discovering, is really all that matters. Possessions come and go, but you can't replace your family and I don't want to have regrets about family members that I haven't spoken to in years for no good reason (or even for good reason). Not that I intend to start hunting down distant family members and forcing my company upon them -- but this is a good start.

They did reach Uncle Marty though I didn't hear whether he will be attending the funeral. Boy, he'd better. I hear his daughter, who I have never met, is in her last year of college -- here in the city where I live -- at the same University I attended. I had no idea. We sort of stopped having contact with them when I was in junior high or so -- they live way up by the Canadian border so we didn't see them all that often to begin with -- and I believe it was because he drank a lot. He and his wife (who is still in the picture) used to come and stay with us over Thanksgiving and drink the house dry, until one year my stepfather locked up the booze. We never saw them again... I can't believe it has been so long. More than twenty years.

Off to Mom's this afternoon. She's having dinner at her house, early enough so we can get the young one into her bed more or less on time. We made a pie to take along. I think she still just really wants everybody around her right now. She just lost her mother...

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Change of Plans

Grandpa has opted not to go to the cremation thing after all. Mom thinks he didn't understand that it was optional and once Lea explained it to him again in the car, he decided he didn't need to be there for it. Everyone is quite relieved, not the least Mom who really didn't want to go.

Baby went down like a ton of bricks tonight. It's a beautiful thing. Last night she woke at around 2am, sort of cooing and inquiring if anyone was interested in some wee-hour playtime with an adorable baby, then dropped back off for a bit, then woke up yelling like she was hungry, so I got up at that point and brought her to bed where she nursed and fell back to sleep. We are still perfecting the "how warm should we keep the house at night" thing so it is theorized that she might have gotten a little chilly as well.

It's finally cold enough here to worry about heat, we have had such a glorious extended Indian summer (do we have to call them Native American summers now? Must check on that, as do not wish to appear Culturally Insensitive, even inadvertantly) that it seemed as if fall would never arrive. Now the trees are colorful and there's a little bite to the air, and it gets a little cool at night. Best bring the air conditioner in from the window I suppose. That was the most fabulous thing ever... It was 90's and above many, many days this summer, which is sort of atypical for this area, and we would have suffered without that A/C.

Must be off and clean the kitchen. Again. Why, why, why do they not install water resistant kitchens that you can just hose out and wash all the grimy bits down a drain in the floor?! I clean that stupid kitchen every day. And whose bright idea was it to make white formica countertops?! Better than tile I suppose, no grout etc, but jeez louise, couldn't we get something that doesn't stain so easily?

Okay, now I'm scaring myself with this hausfrau thing. I need to go finish the NY Times crossword puzzle in ink or something. Would it help to tell you that I read graphic novels by the cartload lately? They are edgy and hip... I swear, I'm not sitting around comparison-testing brands of dish soap ("You're soaking in it!")... not yet, anyway...

Grandma Redux

I found out yesterday that Grandpa actually found Grandma on the floor beside her bed, which was rumpled and therefore slept in. She might have gotten up and collapsed from heart failure or a stroke; I'm fairly certain that it happened fast and she was probably gone before she hit the floor, though there really is no way of knowing.

Mom met with Aunt Lea and Grandpa at the funeral home yesterday to go over arrangements for cremation and interment. She stopped by on her way home, and we talked about the arrangements, and had a little cry and a hug, and she talked some about Grandma and how not very close they were. Grandma was pretty opinionated and heaven help you if you disagree... She wasn't mean tempered or anything, just persistent and kind of noisy. Mom said she just went along and was agreeable to avoid the hassle but in reality she actually agreed with Grandma on about ten percent of things.

The service is a week from tomorrow, then cremation the next day, then interment the day after. I will attend the service but not cremation, where they put you in a room and pull back a curtain and you watch them wheel the casket up to a hole in the wall that is the entrance to the crematorium. Then they close the curtain. Grandpa has opted to attend this and Mom feels she must go with him and support him although she might have chosen differently if it were entirely up to her. Interment is where they put the remains into the niche in the wall at the mausoleum. I am not sure if I will attend this. I don't want to appear insensitive, but as the official emotional conduit of the family (long story) I will cry a lot and I hate to burden my mother with that. She is having a hard enough time. Not only has she lost her mother but she is wading through the feelings of a lifetime of distance and the desire to be close to her mother and not having that. And now her mother is gone and it will never happen, and even though she probably knew it would never happen, it is still very final and over with now.

Which brings to mind all the feelings I have myself about my own mother, and all the things I keep meaning to say to her, and I have this sense now of running out of time...

It feels like poking a deep, deep bruise in your heart to think about all this, the matter-of-fact nuts-and-bolts business of handling the dead, the necessary arrangements, in relation to your Sweet Grandmother. I can't make the connection without falling apart so I don't. I don't make the connection, and if I do, I fall apart.

I haven't seen my Aunt Lea in fourteen years, since she and Mom had a falling out over how Lea was treating my Grandmother (long story steeped in disfunctional family crap), and I haven't seen my Uncle Marty in probably more than 20 years, and no one can find him right now. He is not at home. It's possible he has gone on a little excursion or something. Uncle Doug (whom I have seen perhaps three times in ten years) is going to look for him since he lives in the same general area.

Of my mother and her siblings, let's see. Mom is the most "successful" if you will, as she is married to a good man, has a nice home, financially comfortable, etc. Lea probably runs second in that she is also married and has a (presumably) nice home, but gets points off for a wicked temper and (hopefully) latent alcoholism, beaten into submission by a 30-day inpatient program a number of years ago. Marty, I don't know much about him anymore though last I heard he was very actively alcoholic and I think his wife left him. He has a grown daughter I have never met. Doug is perennially out of money (for instance, Mom is buying him a train ticket so he can come down for Grandma's funeral) and divorced, and in fact can't come down til after Thursday because he has a court date to do with visitation of his son. Who I met once as an infant. I think he's ten? eleven? years old now.

Not exactly the Waltons over here, is it? Such fragile, broken relationships we all have with each other.

Sunday, October 17, 2004


My Grandmother died yesterday... My Mother's Mother, my Sweet Grandmother. (She used to call me at work and if someone else answered, or if they had to take a message, she would say to tell me it was my Sweet Grandmother calling.)

She died in her sleep, at home, so there are far worse ways to go. No hospitals, no nursing home, no pain and no suffering. She was 81.

She probably had a stroke or heart failure. She had had a few strokes and a subsequent personality change, so in reality we had lost her a few years back when a harsher, more cunning and petulant version of her made its appearance. The sweet part was harder to see after that. I suppose we have all been mourning her ever since, but now it's really true that she's gone from us in all forms.

We are all a little stunned in that we knew it would happen but we just didn't expect it to be so sudden and without warning -- even though there was a very good chance that it would happen that way. You just don't really know how it's going to hit you even if you sort of know what to expect.

My Mom called me at home Saturday morning to tell me. Delia was being extremely cute and social and so it was even more surreal to hear this bit of news at that moment. She called my brother too and he called me after he'd talked to her. She later told me that he had really fallen apart when she told him, which I didn't expect... When he talked to me he was pretty composed but he did say that he was shocked that it was so sudden and he did sound a bit grief-stricken, which for him is tantamount to a complete breakdown. He's not that free and easy with showing his emotions so when he does lose it it's pretty striking.

Mom and her husband drove out to see Bill (Grandpa, Grandma's husband of twenty years or more) and then stopped off to see us on their way to stop off to see my brother on their way home. She had to count all her ducklings, as Julianna put it... I was about to put the baby down for the night so I was glad that they arrived before that, because Delia smiled at her Grandma and was very charming and adorable which I think probably picked Mom's spirits up a little. She just lost her mother. I don't even want to think about what that must be like. I love my Mom so much, I will never really be ready to say goodbye to her.

I called over to Grandma's house to check in with Bill after I'd heard, and wound up talking to his son Leroy. The coroner had just come and taken Grandma away. Aunt Lea was also there to support Bill. I haven't yet spoken to Bill; Leroy is staying with him a couple of days and Mom and Lea will go with him to the memorial place tomorrow to make arrangements. Grandma had made some arrangements ahead of time, since she knew her days were numbered when she started having these strokes, so it's a matter of ironing out the details I suppose.

Mom and Lea have barely spoken in years, really only communicating recently regarding Grandma after the last stroke, and they haven't seen each other in two years. I myself have not laid eyes on Lea since fall of 1990... I left to study abroad then and by the time I got back, Mom and Lea had had a falling-out which lasted pretty much until two years ago. I was still pretty young and hadn't been in direct communication with Lea up to that point so I just stayed out of it. It's a shame...

I told Mom to call me tomorrow or stop by after she was done at the memorial place. She could probably use some baby time to remind her that life goes on.

Meanwhile I am still pretty grief-stricken myself and choked with regret that I did not get over to see her with the baby. She and Bill had come to see her when she was just a few weeks old, maybe two weeks or so, and I wanted her to see Delia now that she was so much more social and interactive. I had talked to her a couple of weeks ago and said that I would call her the next week and see about getting over there, and then didn't, and then she called a few days before she died and we had a little conversation. She sounded a little vague, a little papery and wispy somehow. I wonder. Mom said she noticed the same thing.

She was a hell of a woman, strong and kind and sweet, and even the personality change couldn't really rob her of all that. She liked nothing more than to be needed and you could always count on her. And she was funny, and liked to meet people, and even going mostly blind with macular degeneration didn't slow her down much.

Go with God, Grandma. See you there. Save me a seat. :)

Thursday, October 14, 2004

The Dog Ate My Banana

This morning when I went to change the baby I set alongside my cup of decaf a banana of which I had eaten two bites. This was on a high stool which serves as a sort of end table next to the Mission style glider rocker that I customarily sit in while nursing the baby.

As I finished up with the baby, I heard Julianna say, "Bosco! What are you eating?!" I asked what he had gotten ahold of and she said she didn't know but it was gone, whatever it was... had I been eating a banana? That dog ate the whole banana, peel and all. In about ten seconds, or probably much less knowing him.

He's a very large brown Doberman, no tail but still has his ears, and he's very tall which means he can set his chin on the dining table without stretching or straining. We found this out one year at my birthday when we left the remains of the birthday cake on the table overnight. It was a big sheet cake and we left it near the center of the table. When we got up in the morning there were big bites taken out all along the outside edges of the cake.

Since we got him about 4 years ago, a pitiful rescued dog covered in scabs and so sunburned he was golden everywhere except a dark, dark brown ring where his collar had been, he has been a bit of a blessing and a curse. He looks very fierce and has a deep, baying bark, but he screams like a little girl and hides under the table if something makes a loud noise. He loves his kibble to the point of choking it down so fast it makes him choke, then he hurls it up onto the rug and eats it all over again (bonus!). No food is safe within his reach, and in his eagerness he will bite your hand if you try to give him a treat without tossing it to him. He takes up a lot of room and is always in your way, but he's the sweetest dog you'll ever meet and has never turned down affection. Quite the opposite.

He came to us with a badly healed broken pelvis, courtesy his former owners who told Amy (Julianna's sister the veterinarian, in case you were wondering at all why we have three cats and three dogs) that he'd been hit by a car oh, six, eight months ago. They couldn't remember exactly. He limped and wouldn't touch his left hind foot to the ground if he was running, only when walking and very carefully. Amy operated on him and said it was the worst case she'd ever seen. He has regained good use of the hip although he still limps slightly -- but you should see him run at the park, chasing the squirrels and just running for the sheer joy of it.

We love him but he's not easy to live with in a smallish house with two other dogs. So we are going to loan him out to our friends The Jeffs, and if he does well there we will let them keep him. If it's not a good fit, we'll bring him back here and keep him for the rest of his days. He deserves to have a good home and he'll get better attention over there, where there aren't a lot of other animals and a baby competing for attention, but if it doesn't work out we want him back here with his dog friends. That's our main concern, that he'll be so lonely for our other dogs that he won't settle down and he'll spend his days howling until someone comes home. We wonder if Jeff and Jeffrey will consider getting another dog, even just a small one, to be his pal.

On to a different topic. Is my blog dull? Really you can be honest. I am not wrestling with career concerns, I don't personally manufacture anything of importance (aside from breast milk ha ha), my life is pretty circumscribed these days. Domestic concerns mainly. Getting baby to nap, caring for home, etc. Endless blathering about dogs or cats. Really, is it killing anyone with boredom? Speak up! Do you only tune in for the occasional adorable baby photo?

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Religion and Politics

Church last Sunday was interesting.

There's a ballot measure here to change the state Constitution to say that marriage is defined as between one man and one woman. Needless to say this is causing a bit of a foofaraw locally... We got married in March when Multnomah County was handing out marriage licenses to same-sex couples, but it's been held up in court since then so we, along with the other 3000 couples, are in legal limbo.

Our church is a rather crunchy granola-y lefty Democraty social-justicey sort of church, and the pet project of late is to educate people around town about the dangers of amending a Constitution (once amended very difficult to un-amend, etc) and the discrimination it would cause, etc etc. Not just from the "it's a bad idea because it doesn't need to happen" angle but also the "it's a bad idea because same sex couples should be allowed to marry" angle for which I love, love, love them.

We would appear to be the only same-sex couple in the church. And we have this adorable infant. (I showed up without Julianna and Delia a couple of weeks ago and everyone looked eagerly past me, around me, behind me, and finally asked where they were in crestfallen tones...) We actually chose this church because when we got married, in the lobby of the Civic Auditorium, surrounded by officials of every denomination rapidly joining couple after couple in the (hopefully legal) bonds of holy matrimony etc etc, it was Pastor Dave of this particular church who performed the ceremony. So we thought, we'll start there. And despite initial fears that it was strictly a church for Old, Old, Old People, it became like home to us very quickly.

Anyway as the lone conspicuous lesbian couple, complete with adorable tangible evidence of commitment, we have become sort of the gay/lesbian mascot couple. Not that they kiss our shiny metal behinds or anything, but I think we just give a face to the formerly rather theoretical question of gay marriage.

Last Sunday was the second Sunday of the month which means instead of a sermon there is an invitation to the congregation to comment on whatever the topic is -- which this time it was Measure 36. And the lady in front of us made some comments, and some other guy did too, and then the lady in front of us had a little more to say, mainly all along the lines of it's discriminatory etc etc. And then I felt compelled to tell a little story. Pastor Dave comes around with a microphone so you have to be brave and not just try to hide from the mike. So I was brave.

"Well, I'm kind of biased," was how I started it, which actually got a laugh, and then I continued on with the harrowing tale of last Thanksgiving when on the Monday before, at 15 weeks pregnant I suddenly found myself bleeding heavily and couldn't reach Julianna at work. I couldn't reach anyone and was alone and afraid to drive and frankly was in a state of complete panic and despair. I ended up calling 911 and was taken away in an ambulance. The operator asked me who I wanted notified, and I told her, "My partner Julianna, I couldn't reach her at work," and she took the number.

And when Julianna got back to her desk, she got two terrible messages from me, and one from 911 asking her to call them. When she did (and I left this part out as it was not relevant to the topic at church) security came rushing to her cube as they are notified whenever anyone calls 911 so they can go help if needed. Then she spent twenty minutes trying to find out where I was taken because the operator who she reached, not the same one I had spoken to, would not divulge my whereabouts because Julianna is not next of kin.

So I sat alone, bleeding, crying, in a cold little exam room at the ER thinking I had miscarried (and that the baby was in the toilet at home, though I left this part out as well and it is still too horrible to think about so I'm not thinking about it), for an hour before Julianna could get to me. The 911 operator finally forwarded her call to the ambulance company whose rules about these things are not so stringent and they told her where I was.

The good news was that I had not miscarried, I spent a week on bed rest, took it pretty easy for the rest of the pregnancy, and Delia arrived robust and healthy and none the worse for wear.

Anyway after the service Pastor Dave thanked me for my testimony, and I answered that I'm not very political and I'm no good at arguing so testimony is all I have.

And I wasn't afraid of the microphone at all. I spent the whole time I was talking looking at Delia so I wouldn't falter.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Another sh!tty day in paradise

I'm having a really bad day. It comes on the heels of the bad day that was yesterday.

Julianna is quitting smoking. I can't say anything about my feelings on the topic even in this blog as that would be less than supportive. I can say that this is not the first time and that with each try she has a better chance of success, statistically speaking, because she keeps trying, whereas someone who is not trying has pretty much a zero chance. So that's a good thing and I actually admire her for her drive. This time I see a different kind of determination in her and I think she's really going to do it. Despite me.

Why can't I just swallow everything and be the good, kind, accepting, supportive wife? Why? The inevitable irritability sets in and she becomes unlike herself -- snappish and a bit critical -- and I react so, so poorly to it. We had a stupid argument last night right when we were getting into bed. I couldn't just get over it and got up and went to the couch to decompress and ended up crying which just made things that much worse. Eventually I got back into bed but we didn't really hash it out, just went to sleep, and this morning there was some contrition on both parts and we were pretty well-behaved up until just now...

The baby didn't really nap this morning either and it looks as if she might be getting the stupid snotty head cold that Julianna brought home from work, so she's cranky and high-maintenance.

Later -- things are a little better. I think it's all much more complicated by possible hormone things -- had first period since baby recently, probably having PMS which explains a few things. I was feeling just angry and sad and out-of-control all day yesterday and part of today but it's passing. I hope it's not the return of Seasonal Affective stuff... some years it's bad, others it's not. It hasn't been that bad in a while.

J took some Benadryl for her cold and I think it's helping her, probably I'll be the only one at church tomorrow but that's ok. She needs to get better. I'll take the baby if she wakes at the right time... otherwise she will stay home. Though everyone looks at me like I'm missing an arm and says, "Where's that baby?!" if I go without her.

She slept through the night last night! 7:30pm to 6:30am! I was a)dumbfounded, b)very well rested despite getting up to check on her at least once, and c)so full of breastmilk it was leaking through the nursing pads (Lansinoh makes the best one for leaky first-timers like me, I tried several kinds and Curity did pretty well but this one kind, I don't remember who makes them, they were not even remotely absorbent -- I even put them in backwards to make sure I wasn't misunderstanding the directions about which side faces you -- I could not believe they were so useless!) and down my shirt when I woke up.

I've had to change how I put her to bed. For starters, she doesn't sleep in our bed alone anymore, because she rolled right out of it last Saturday night. I wasn't going to mention it here out of extreme guilt and shame, but I've gotten past it and although I still feel guilt and shame, the many stories I heard from virtually every parent I mentioned it to about how their kids fell off the bed, changing table, etc. made me feel better. I may be an idiot but at least I've got company. We did take her in to be checked out because we didn't see her land and our bed is very high and the bedroom floor is hard. But she was fine. Not really a mark on her, and in fact smiled at me all the way to the hospital.

So she goes down in the crib at around 7pm and when she wakes in the night I bring her to bed. And I don't nurse her to sleep anymore except when we're down in the bed, because she always wakes up when I lay her down in the crib and it's way more traumatic than if I put her in the crib calm but awake. She crabs for less than ten minutes, sometimes less than two even, and then it's off to dreamland. Whereas if she was asleep and wakes up when she hits the crib sheets, she gets super bent about it and it takes much longer.

I cannot stress how much quality of life has improved for all of us since we got her on a nap/sleep routine that works for her.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Fat Loser!

I was avoiding going to Fat Losers (aka Weight Watchers) this week, blaming it on the baby's new nap schedule -- which is yet sort of fluid and non-scheduley -- but in part out of dread that I was not losing. But I hopped on the scale here at home this morning and lo and behold, down two pounds... Our scale is a little on the flaky side, it's new and all but not super expensive or whatever and if you hop on & off a few times you'll get different readings. But it's two pounds below any reading I've had before, so I think that's pretty cool. I usually just take one reading rather than try for a different result, as it seems pretty pointless and what if it reads higher the second or third time?! Gasp!

Strollered on down to the local cappucino purveyors for a little something and a few minutes to finish up a letter to Cindy, my nutty friend from Arizona -- really nutty makes her sound harmless and daffy, when really she is wicked smart and funny as hell. A woman of substance, to be reckoned with, etc. The baby was moderately cooperative, i.e. tolerates the stroller now that she can see well enough to enjoy the scenery going by, and sat for a bit in it inside the coffee shop while I finished up. There were a bunch of other moms filtering in, some evidently from a playgroup or something, mostly with slightly older babies but some with young ones like Delia, so a lot of "How old is your baby?" and "S/He's cute!" were had by all.

There was also one of those extremely hip, casual, hugely pregnant girls there. I think I overheard her saying she was 23... due in 5 days... she was wearing a tank top, a skirt, and platform sneakers. And she was one of those types that won't look you in the eye because she's too cool. So I sat there feeling old and frumpy, in my too-big pants and my extremely expensive running shoes that look dorky in any context except running but make my feet feel so good I can't stop wearing them (I have Foot Issues big time), and my wash-n-wear hair, and no makeup because I don't wear it, and fully fourteen years older than this brazen little jezebel.

And then I remembered that I like my life, I like myself, and it doesn't matter that I'm not 23 anymore -- in fact the early 20's was the on-ramp to some truly miserable years and I wouldn't relive all that for anything -- and platform sneakers are a bad idea for anybody, let alone somebody 9 months pregnant, and secretly I thought she looked kind of stupid and isn't it a lot of work to maintain the hip, cool image? Wouldn't you rather think about something outside yourself at least part of the time? And then I wondered how she would manage the demands of an infant who won't have the common decency to stop being needful long enough for her to hip-and-cool-ify herself on a regular basis for months, if not years... and I hoped it would be her that would accomodate and not the baby. So then, having successfully thought myself out of feeling old and frumpy, I wheeled the young one home and put her down for a nap with only about 5 minutes of protest crying. :)

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Ow! Ow! Ow!

I'm pinching myself. We put the baby in a blanket sleeper for the first time last night, as it is definitely starting to get cool at night, and she slept from (drum roll please) about 7:30 pm to nearly 4 this morning! Without waking up!

Sure, she slept like a log; I'm a nervous wreck. I kept waking up and going in to check on her since she'd never slept that long before. I brought her to bed to nurse at 4 and she went back to sleep until 7. Then she just went back down for her nap at about quarter to nine -- with barely a hitch!!!

So evidently she was waking up because she was cold, and once again I am a negligent mother. :( At least we figured it out. And now I need to go get more blanket sleepers, as we have just the one. Oh well, I need to get one of those stroller cover thingies for when it rains as I am planning to continue walking in the inclement weather which is just now hitting us. So now I have good reason to head to the local "Overpriced Babywear Emporiums R Us," I guess. Two good reasons.

The local volcano is gearing up to maybe blow sometime soon. It's pretty hilarious watching up-to-the-minute, breathless reports on a dinky little vent of steam and ash. They have no way of knowing whether the mountain will keep doing this, blow a big one, or stop in its tracks for another 20, 50, 500 years. Given the big eruption we had in 1980 -- I remember the ashfall, and we drove up as far as we could to see the destruction once it seemed a bit safer -- everybody's in a heightened state of excitement hoping maybe we will see something spectacular. And they have evacuated the mountain so pretty much only nutcases will get killed or hurt this time. So we can sort of hope for something dramatic without worrying about people getting offed in the process. All the local geologists are having some kind of field day. Geologic processes being so slow and all, this is like Christmas to them.

I found this quote in a really sappy book of "inspirational sayings" and it struck me as sort of comforting and interesting, so I include it here:

Have courage for the great sorrows of life
and patience for the small ones.
And when you have finished your daily task,
go to sleep in peace. God is awake. -- Victor Hugo.

Help me if I become one of those people who do this kind of thing with stuff they find in Hallmark cards and in those endless forwards my Grandmother sends me in the email. This was the only quote in the book that I would repeat, the rest were a little too gooey. And it's all about maintaining my image as a hip, cool person... NOT! I can almost tell you the day I stopped being hip and cool. It was the day I went and bought jeans at the fat girl store. "Well, you see, you're fat so you automatically have no taste..." And the horrible, horrible person I was with at the time ridiculed me. As always. For having to buy fat pants and not something from The Gap. Needless to say, I offloaded her eventually, but not before she inflicted some serious emotional damage. I'm happy to say that finally I am largely over it, but it was pretty terrible. It's insidious what another person can do to your self-esteem and your self-image, if they want to hurt you. And she did. I realized later that I was like Satan's Little Punching Bag for that period of my life.

But, now I am happier than ever in my life, BH is the best, we have a beautiful baby girl, and things are wonderful. So there! Take that! Har!

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Tuesday morning redux

Okay, to clarify, I neither exfoliate, nor pore cleanse, nor Max Factor (now there's a verb for you!). I am strictly the wash-and-wear, drip-dry, au natural type. I do use a face soap on my face but that's pretty much the extent of my beauty regimen. And it's hardly anything special since you can pick it up at the local Fred Meyer store. We do not in fact own a blow-dryer and there are no hidden caches of mascara and rouge hidden behind the toilet tank. Not that I am anti-makeup, I just stopped wearing it years ago when I worked at the public library. I shelved books in the popular library (fiction) and the ventilation system wasn't what it could be; the open stacks were hot and miserable and dusty and not really conducive to maintaining that Cover Girl fresh 'n sassy appearance. Besides, there just wasn't any point in wasting valuable morning time primping when the only people to see me were mainly old ladies and transients. And isn't wearing makeup anti-lesbian? -- Hahaha, got you there, trick question: lesbians are not required to adhere to a dress code and that includes makeup. Though I know very few of them anymore, and of those, I think none of them wears any. Maybe one. A little mascara and maybe some lip gloss. But she's kind of weird.

My wife is the best. Last night I was having a hard time: baby was awake, I was really tired, everything off kilter. We listen to this lullaby cd before bed and naptimes, and I really like it a lot except that it features that "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" or whatever from "The Nutcracker." OK, I grew up on tv specials like Rudolph and Charlie Brown, I never saw "The Nutcracker" until I was a grown person, in fact over 30, and I can't say I cared for it that much. But as little as I care for the entire production, I care even less for that particular cut from the soundtrack as it were. So as I sat emitting little daggers from my eyes toward the cd player, in sprints BH and skids over to the stereo, punching frantically at the skip button and rescuing me from having to listen to one more blessed second of that annoying prancy music. Honestly, that's love.

In other news, Aladdin finally came out today on DVD. Okay, before you all shudder and wince and write me off as some kind of Disney freak, I'll tell you a little story. That movie came out when I was sort of lonely and sad, kind of estranged from pretty much my entire immediate family, in the middle of coming out, and for some reason I ended up going to see Aladdin in the theater. I don't know what it is about it, maybe that he's alone and fending for himself and it all turns out all right, but somehow that movie comforted me. Pitiful, yes, but there it is. I saw it five times. I like the songs and the colors, I like Robin Williams, I like the monkey... Then when it came out on video I got it. Now we don't even have a VCR set up, it's all about the DVD's these days, and I have been waiting and waiting... And today I went out and got it and brought it home and I'd be watching it right this very moment except the baby's sleeping.

Well back to the salt mines. No walk today, Peggy's step dad's birthday so she's busy. Horse blanket must be taken to Sherwood to The Blanket Lady for cleaning (that's honest to Pete what she's called, she's listed that way in the phone book) and then can be put up for sale at the tack show. And if it doesn't sell, The Blanket Lady does consignment. It may not sell, it's huge even for a horse blanket -- Beau is a big horse. So it's nice to have a backup plan.

Another photo, same series. Check out those honkin' big feet!  Posted by Hello

Tuesday morning

Baby slept from about 11pm to 4:30 this morning uninterrupted... only woke because I disturbed her because I couldn't believe she slept that long. She had a pretty good day yesterday and I think it's largely because she is getting enough sleep finally. The comments I get when we are out and about are about how alert she is (she has two speeds: High and Off) and how she has red hair and bright blue eyes.

Basement has yet to clean itself. Argh. When will the self-cleaning basement catch on?! I mean, we have self-cleaning ovens already...

Hoping to meet up with Peggy for a nice long walk this afternoon. And must get horse blanket cleaned. Elliptical to be delivered tomorrow. Fund raising party Thursday eve for the No on 36 campaign (against proposed constitutional amendment defining marriage as "one man, one woman" -- we note that where you see a Yes on 36 sign there's also invariably a Bush/Cheney one alongside it...). Dad will come down for T-Day with Grandma, both with irritating yappy dogs in tow, but happily to spend it with my brother and his family and then all will come here on Sat. following for a chowder fest. So much going on. It will be Christmas before you know it.

Then it will be our anniversary -- we had our commitment ceremony on Dec. 31, 1999, so this is the big 5 year mark. Then we also got married last March though that's still held up in court. Wonder what we should do for the anniversary... we normally spend New Year's with our friend Jeff, it's a fairly dull event by global standards as we are all non-drinkers, so I wonder if we will have a double date with Jeff and his boyfriend Jeffrey... call it an early evening, put baby to bed, the four of us play games into the night... or if BH will want to do something super special. I am in favor of the early games night idea with a special event on a different night because I don't want to be out on New Years Eve with all the drunks. And although it's our anniversary, it's nice to spend the evening with Jeff. The Jeffs. Jeff Squared. Maybe since baby hits the sheets around 7pm these days we could get someone (even the Jeffs, I mean the baby won't need anything special and we have cell phones) to come watch her while we go to a fashionably late dinner somewhere expensive on a different night... I need an excuse to get all dolled up. Ha! That makes it sound like I'm going to spend hours in the bathroom exfoliating, pore cleansing, Max Factoring, et al, when really all it means is that I'll wear something that isn't too-big jeans and a huge men's shirt from Old Navy. Maybe it will even be -- gasp! -- *dry clean only*!

Must poll the wife and see what she thinks.

Meanwhile, another photo of the young one.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Delia at four months Posted by Hello

Bad Neighbor, No Biscuit

Argh. BH's sister is over today and just had an ugly skirmish with the formerly-sort-of-nice guy from across the street. She was parking and he pulled into the spot despite seeing her there, with her blinker on, and despite the fact that he was facing the wrong direction. When she pointed out that she was parking there, he told her she wasn't and that since she didn't live in the neighborhood, he didn't care how she felt about it. Then he made sure he was blocking both available areas (not marked spaces, this is just on-street parking) and smugly walked to his house.

Only to emerge minutes later laden with baggage that he stowed in the car! And drove away with his wife shortly thereafter! So all this was about him asserting his (mistaken) right to park there for ten minutes.

Naturally, the Festering Shit Weasel from next door flounced out there to have an animated conversation with Mr. and Mrs. Dickhead before they drove off. Who knows what about. Maybe about Mt. St. Helens blowing some steam this afternoon, since they kept pointing and squinting off in its general direction.

We note the following pattern with these neighbors: Both the Dickheads and the Festering Shit Weasels are terrific snobs. They don't associate with us or with Andy and Lucia across the way. Andy and Lucia are from El Salvador.... They have the occasional fiesta with mariachi music playing, but not super loud and not that late into the evening. Really they are very nice folks. Lucia tried to say hi to Mrs. Dickhead when they first moved in and Mrs. Dickhead just looked away. I had a similar experience when we moved in. And of course the FSW's are our arch-nemeses (see previous post regarding barking dogs).

So it has been necessary to just swallow hard and tell myself that people like that are their own worst enemies, and that maybe eventually he'll hear the still small voice say "That wasn't very nice of you, you dickhead," and maybe he'll repent and go forth to sin no more, ha ha... but if not, well, people like that get it all back eventually. Nobody gives medals for behaving badly.

In other news... ordered the elliptical to be delivered next Weds. Now must finish cleaning out basement.

Baby is learning to nap and to go to bed without constant rocking, bouncing, etc. It's difficult but she's getting the hang of it. She also has two teeth! And can flip onto her stomach. Flipping back isn't yet in her repetoire, but it won't be long. She reaches for things now, and laughs sometimes! Usually at the dogs or cats. She's a total joy. She had her four-month checkup, very healthy, got her shots which was sort of a bummer for a couple days after, she didn't feel so great. But she's fine now. And she is 13 lbs. 11 oz, which is 50th percentile for weight, and 25.5 inches long, which is 90th percentile for height! She's a total stringbean. I posted a picture we had taken recently. :)

I'm down another pound, total lost so far 28.2 lbs. It's slower now but as long as I'm getting there I can't complain. I met up with a woman from WW to go walking with and she's pretty nice. I think her family is as messed up as mine so we have a lot to talk about...

Speaking of family, Dad will be joining us for Thanksgiving, and maybe Grandma Helen too. Dad's wife (the other Brazilian bitch we know; FSW is from Brazil too) told him she's going to Maryland for T-day and he could come along if he wanted to. She's going about this all wrong if she's trying to elicit a favorable response to her campaign to move back to Maryland where two of her sons live. He told me about it and my first response was, well come on down and hang out with us. We are headed to BH's folks' for the holiday but he's more than welcome to come along. Then afterward we'll probably have a sort of get-together either here or at my brother's, either make clam chowder (if we have it here) or maybe they'd like to make a turkey over there.

Well I guess that's enough steam blown off for now. Back to internet gaming! I play a role-playing game called Diablo... it's free, highly addictive, absorbing... I sometimes lose hours playing it, when I get the chance.