Monday, August 20, 2012

dear Lord

Sometimes when J-man and I are out and about, I find myself etching the teenagers around us, acutely aware that at some point, I will have one living in my house. This usually terrifies me, although not as much as having a teenage girl in the house. No, wait, I take that back. I was a teenage girl, so at least that takes away some of the element of surprise. Teenage boys are a much bigger mystery.

It being summer, we've been seeing these young adults more frequently, and I find myself shooting quick prayers off as we run our errands. Dear Lord, please don't let Jude be like the boys outside QFC with the weird animal hats and emo hair, leaving their empty Jones Soda bottles on the sidewalk and smoking cigarettes. Please do let him be like the boy - may, the young man - who appears to be assisting his elderly, handicapped grandmother do her shopping. Or the one who helped me out to my car with my bags. Sure, it's his job, but the fact that he has one puts him miles ahead of the other punks.

Also, it keeps him out of his mother's hair, which can't be a bad thing.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

bad day

We're sitting in the car in the Target parking lot, and we're both having a bad day. Maybe lack of sleep, maybe teeth, maybe this barely 60 degree weather in July, but whatever it is, we're grumpy.

I'm about to turn off the car when the familiar guitar plucks of "Rainbow Connection" come on the children's xm radio station. This, I think, is happening just for me. This makes me happy. This is comfort. I get you, Kermit, and you get me. Someday we WILL find it, Lovers and dreamers and all.

Next song: that crazy "Polka Dot Afro" song from Madagascar 3. Day back to lousy.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

we nearly died

I'm sitting here in the car with my sleeping child, and I hear tapping on the passenger door. I gasp in fright, certain someone is trying to rip the door off and kill us both, when a little robin pops his head up and lands briefly on the windowsill. He was probably there for five seconds before flitting away. Ten minutes later and my heart rate is starting to return to normal.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


Maybe I have become one of those people who goes to the gym to workout for only fifteen minutes before snagging some towels and heading to the shower so that she can have thirty minutes alone while someone else makes sure her son isn't grabbing plastic garbage bags from the trashcan and putting them over his head.

And maybe I've become the person who uses the handicapped shower stall so that she can sit down and close her eyes for a few moments and pretend the warm water is actually a hot tub and imagine she's somewhere warm and not in a rainy swamp forest that causes every pine needle and piece of dirt in western Washington to be tracked through her living room, and subsequently on her son's clothing as he tears across the house in an army crawl.

And maybe I am now the person who just wasted five minutes typing all this on her tiny phone because, as much as she enjoys writing, it is nearly impossible to do with a 8-month-old who wants to copy everything his parents do, and insists on sitting in her lap and banging away on the laptop keyboard to the point where his mama's laptop screen is upside down and everything is in Spanish.


Or maybe not.

Monday, May 21, 2012


When I was in college, it wasn't unusual to go a day or two with no sleep.  I remember at least twice that I stayed at Denny's all night long with friends, probably pretending to study for a test, undoubtedly ordering little more than coffee and likely annoying all the long-haul truckers who had the misfortune to chose the same restaurant to dine in that evening.  In grad school, it was a little less common; I remember staying up all night working on our take-home comp exam, dropping it off at my professor's office in the wee hours of the morning, and treating myself to donuts from Rick's Bakery before collapsing to sleep for the next 18 hours.

The exhaustion I feel right now pales in comparison.  It's days upon days of sleep in 2-4 hour stretches, waking up just enough that trying to fall back to sleep takes effort.  It's being awoken to a smiling face at 6:30am, the same face that, just hours earlier, had been twisted into an inconsolable grimace because growing new teeth is hard.   It's spending all day trying to please a tiny person who refuses to speak English or sit still, and insists on pulling my hair and kicking me repeatedly in the still painful C-section scar from which he came.

Not long ago I was telling Joel that I keep reading and hearing that it's important for me, as a new mother, to get out and do things for myself, things that I enjoy, so that I can recharge.  The problem, I told him, is that I have no idea what that those things might be.  I love spending time with my friends, but the thought of being social makes me so tired.  I like volunteering at the Humane Society, but I'm already spending all day getting barked at by our three dogs.  I enjoy reading, writing, sewing, crocheting, cooking...none of these sound like any fun right now.

But as I sat there listing off all the things I used to enjoy that currently sound so unappealing, it hit me: I just want a nap.  I want Joel to take J-man, take the dogs, and leave me alone in this house so I can curl up under our big comforter on our nice, king-sized Tempurpedic with my white noise machine on and the window just cracked open so I can hear the birds or the rain or whatever.  And I want to sleep.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


It's been in sunny and warm the last few days.  This is both wonderful, because it means my poor, damp Southern bones are starting to dry out a little, and horrible, because with the windows being open our hounds are hearing and smelling every bit of wildlife out in the forest.  In fact, as I type this the two little guys are standing on one of our end tables, staring intently out the window, no doubt waiting for the coming attack from numerous creatures that they have once again realized live on the other side of our walls.  The only thing that pulls Bentley away is the tiny clicking noise of one of J-man's puffs falling from his highchair tray to the floor.  He finds every single one of them, and often the ones stuck on the highchair, or in his pajamas, or the seventeen that inevitably end up in other rooms of the house, falling out of goodness knows what crack or crevice in his clothing.  We've been amazed at how quickly we go through these containers of cereal, but I've decided that a solid third of them end up in the dogs' mouth.

J-man watches the dogs' activity in between bites, and chats with me as we eat our breakfast.  We've been trying to teach him sign language, using the standard hands-closed, fingers-touching to indicate "more", but he seems to have decided to communicate "more" by staring at whatever it is that he wants, holding his arms out to the side, and tensing up to the point that he starts to vibrate.  This is often accompanied by grunting or crying.  I'm assuming he learned this form of signing from his father.

Little guy has been growing new teeth for the past few days, and it's been hard on all of us.  Really, he's been growing them since he was 4-months-old, but these most recent two, the top two, have been the worst.  I know this is pretty standard teething protocol, but I think his good temper during the first three spoiled me.  I've given up on feeding him any solids other than cereal and rice husks; the screaming that started after the first three bites of pureed food were starting to make our mealtimes less than relaxing.  He's spent the last two nights in our bed as he can't seem to relax enough to stay asleep, and being close to us seems to help.  He still wiggles and squirms, mind you.  He just has more room to do it as he utilizes my stomach and groin as a kick bag.  He looks a little less puffy and swollen today, and I can now feel the tip of at least one tooth, so maybe the worst is almost over.

Bentley has left the window and is back over by the highchair, waiting for whatever last few scraps may fall.  Jude has noticed him, and is looking from his cereal to the dog, as though contemplating whether or not he feels in the mood to share.  He's taken lately to hanging over the side of his chair in order to "share" his breakfast with Bentley.  Several times now I've found him stuck at a 90 degree angle while the hound greedily licks his outstretched fingers.  J-man is now just using wide strokes to sweep his remaining puffs into the floor, which marks the end of mealtime.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

pine needles everywhere

J-man is seven-months-old.  Seven months and two weeks, to be slightly more precise.  I've been his mother for all of those months, plus nine more.

I like it.

Here's what I've learned about my son so far.  He's a big guy, long like his mama, lean like his papa.  He might be a red head, although it's somewhat hard to tell because of the scarcity of hair so far.  He's a talker, a screamer even, when he's comfortable, which is most of them time.  When he's in a new situation, he goes quiet, and his eyes focus intently on whatever it is he's learning.  He's a serious student. 

When he dreams, he often makes little sucking movements with his mouth, so I assume he's dreaming about eating.  This would make sense, as he loves to eat.  He's just started solids, and seems to be a veggie guy over fruits, which makes him like his mama.  He's so intrigued by everything we put in our mouths, and I know he would have loved it if we just let him dig into the chili we were having last night, but I imagine that would have done something to the still-new smell of his little digestive system.  Plus, he's only got those three teeth to work with, although two more are ready to make their appearance at any time. That is correct: my seven-month-old has nearly five teeth.  He's so advanced!

J-man smiles all the time.  All the time, even when he's sad.  I can't count the number of times we've heard someone say, "what a happy baby!" with just a touch of surprise in their voice.  Lately he's started to "flirt" with new acquaintances and strangers, smiling at them coyly and then burying his head in my chest, then turning back to give them a toothy grin.  At the grocery store I often turn around to see him making a new friend from his seat in the shopping cart with whomever is in the checkout line behind us.  One of my favorite stories will always be how he and another little boy at the YMCA daycare sat and made each other laugh for five solid minutes while I worked out one morning.  He's a charmer, this one.

On the rare occasion that he does cry, it's usually because he's hungry, or sleepy.  When he's sleepy, nothing puts him out like the white noise app I desperately downloaded on my iPhone one day in the midst of a screaming fit.  He was screaming, not me.  If I can't use the white noise, and if he's just fussing a little bit, he seems to prefer the soundtrack to We Bought A Zoo by Jonsi from Sigur Ros, which means he has more sophisticated taste in music than me.  His favorite place to sleep is in my arms, second favorite is in our bed, then in his carseat, then in his crib, which means I've spent more than several minutes in our driveway waiting for him to wake up, or stuck on the couch needing to use the restroom but unable to move.  Of course, when he does wake up, he's usually smiling, so I don't know why I worry about it.  He's always smiling.  

So that's my boy, and that's my life.  This is how I spend my days now, with a smiling, toothy, growing boy.  And three dogs, of course.  Always the dogs.  This is my entourage, and we spend our days out in the rainy forest, tracking pine needles in and out of the house.  Pine needles everywhere.