June 28, 2006

This morning Olivia pushed herself up to stand alone, a wide wobbly stance that supported her big belly, waving hands and wild grin. Egged on by our shrieks and applause, she did it again and again, adding bouncing, squatting, and dancing as the day went on. Each time she looked poised to take a step, but fell on her big diapered butt. She eventually figured out that it was fun to fold in one leg and take a knee, so she did that over and over, disappointing Marc who hoped to see her first step before his flight to NYC for his finals. She has taken to a new sense of what she can accomplish these days, where she can go. She can crawl over, around, and under it, she can climb the stairs (and feels very confident that she can descend head first). She's constantly asking to be picked up and then squirming to be put right back down, checking in with me and then taking off again, twisting and falling and bouncing. Quite different from the baby who used to be content to watch the proceedings from my lap. We went to a family reunion this weekend at an amusement park and when she saw the baby rides (caterpillars going around and around, Dumbo going up and down - just as they have been since I rode them as a kid), she was so excited, both delighted and a little scared when she herself rode a few. When I saw the pictures of her later, I studied her face. She looked so much more like a little girl than a baby.

She mimics everything, from my tuneless humming and sound effects to my exasperated "God!" Changing her diaper this morning, I chanted "Hold on! Hold on!" as she dipped her heel in poo. Clear as a bell, she answered, "Hold on! Hold on!" and smiled right at me. We do a lot of smiling and gazing into each other's eyes lately. I just want to memorize every bit of her. Everything is changing so quickly.

And while one baby is growing up, with all the excitement and anxiety and anticipation that entails, my other baby is simply growing old. Moose, the original Tennessee Mountain Cur, has had a rough week. Sunday, we returned to the house to find him in a bad way. Turning in circles, walking sideways, confused, whining. We thought maybe a stroke, a brain tumor, sudden blindness? He asked to be let out and then laid down in the rain, refusing to come back in. I was convinced he had gone out there to die. I was devastated.

Moose is old. He has been for awhile - maybe always really. I have had him since he was a puppy and while he had his puppy ways, there was always a certain long-suffering maturity about him. You know...that way dogs act when you dress them up in something ridiculous, like a Darth Vader costume. (Just an example...we don't have one of those. OK, yes we do.) That's Moose. Over the last few years, he has had some problems with his legs and major surgeries to correct the problems. Naturally, he has slowed a bit and we have tried to strike a balance between keeping him active and babying his tender joints. It's been OK; he does a lot of resting, but is still pretty spry on a walk. When Olivia and I came back to TN last year (almost one whole year - I can hardly freaking believe it. NYC, do you miss me like I miss you?), Moose stayed in the city with Marc. And when I saw him again - with his white beard and milky eyes - it seemed like he had aged so much. So, while I am conscious of his age and fragility, it took this scary episode for me to really see for the first time that I am going to have to let my dog go at some point - maybe soon.

I'm not ready.

But now he's better. In fact, he was better by the time we got to the vet the next morning. (The crack diagnosis: "Maybe it's vertigo." Funny, I've heard those same words from my own doctor.) And now, days later he really seems no worse for the wear. He's sleeping, eating, going for walks, trying to get the hell away from Olivia. I couldn't be happier to see him well...but I feel time breathing down my neck.



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