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.


June 22, 2006

Olivia has taken to crawling around and around the house on the hard woods with a wooden strawberry in her hand. Yesterday morning when Marc appeared, I asked him why he was up so early.

"Pegleg woke me."


June 19, 2006

Exterminator came to tend to our leetle problem today. (Crickets and spiders and ants, oh crap) The house where we are staying was built in the 20's and has been updated, but not necessarily renovated. The front door is a bit askew, the floor slopes in some places, things like that. The house is in a wooded area and has some standing water around back. You get the picture...we have bugs. At first, it was just some ants in the bathroom. Little ants and only in the bathroom. They didn't really bother me all that much...they were just little specks of something moving around the vanity occasionally. However, they were soon joined by the camel crickets. Do you know the ones I am talking about? They have the big bodies and the bigger legs and are somehow 10,000 times grosser than your average cricket. I hated them before and I hate them more now that I have squished one with my bare foot walking down the hall one night. There are also spiders, lots of them and all different kinds, spinning webs on everything, making it look like I never dust or sweep (which I totally do, Mom! - well, sweep at least - but those things are really quick and they have them built back immediately).

All of this was a nuisance, but a bearable one, until hot weather hit and the roaches were invited to the party. Roaches, gah. Big, brown ones that are, no joke, 5 inches long and stand about 2 inches off the ground. I hate them. I hate them. I know that they are not as bad as the little, German roaches that show up in the kitchen bringing 100,000 of their cousins with them. (Exterminator kept referring to these as the ones you see in restaraunts and grocery stores. He might see them in restaraunts and grocery stores. I do not and I prefer to believe that is because they are not in the restaraunts and grocery stores where I go, thank you very much.) I could maybe deal with these other roaches on an occasional basis. If deal means scoop up the baby and run screaming and cussing from the room and occasional meant never again. But each day for the last week, one has made it's disgusting way across the living room while Olivia and I sat playing or has been crawling up the bedroom wall when we woke up. Finally on Thursday, I found one in the shower. (Marc: "I believe that is what's known as the Common Voyeur Roach.) We called in some help.

Now, as I have made a more diligent effort over the last few years to increase the healthy in my life and be aware of what is going into our bodies, I have also made attempts to decrease the unhealthy and limit our exposure to environmental toxins. I'm not a zealot, I'm not renouncing plastic or anything (well, not totally, but all that is a whole other post in itself); I just try to choose the product with the fewest ingredients, or clean the bathroom with Dr. Bronner's soap and water instead of commercial cleaners, that kind of thing. When I called in the professionals for our bug problem, I was fully aware that they weren't going to come and escort the bugs across the border - I knew they would be using chemicals - "traps and bait and treatment" - but I had no idea.

Marc was disappointed initially that they didn't arrive in Hazmat suits to wrap the house in some kind of tent, a la E.T. or any given X-Files episode. I had asked multiple times for the pest people to assure me and explain to me how none of the treatment would be detrimental to Olivia or Moose, and they had done so each time. Everything started off well and good: removing webs from the outside of the house with a cute little brush, putting "houses" out for the ants, doing something in the basement that I didn't have to witness. It was painless. Then Exterminator announced he would be treating the outside of the house. I watched through the window, holding O. while Marc got ready for work. A long hose was connected to a tank in the truck...a spray apparatus was attached to the hose...Exterminator starts towards the house with the hose in hand...I'm not liking how this looks, but I figure he is going to spray the foundation, or zap some nest. As I turn to Marc to ask what he thinks about taking Olivia outside in a few minutes time when we need to leave, there is suddenly an explosion of spray against the living room windows. It's like that initial blast on your windshield at the carwash. Fluid, treatment, POISON, DEATH is streaming down the glass. As soon as I am able to see out again, I realize that he is simply hosing the entire structure down with this stuff: the porch, the steps, MY PLANTS, all the windows, everything. And it's a strong spray - he's probably peeling off paint (ok, this is where Marc will want to point out that I am prone to hyperbole, but I'm not exaggerating here.) We head towards the back door, thinking we can get out that way before he makes it around. As we move through each room, we are met by The Spray of Death. It's like a horror movie. We move back into the living room and hunker down.

Finally, he is done. We have no choice but to go as Marc is due at the hospital. I gather O. up and head out quickly to avoid any fumes, but not so quickly that I fall and dump us in a flesh-eating puddle (ok, there's the hyperbole). With each step, I can almost feel the rubber melting off the bottom of my shoes. The poor house sits noxiously steaming in the sun. When we reach Exterminator, looking well-pleased with himself, he launches into a little spiel about the resiliency of bugs, how difficult they are to treat, etc. and basically finishes up by telling us this whole thing may or may not work. With a jaunty wave, he is gone.

And it has worked and hasn't. We have seen a bug or five, but most of them have been in the death throes. A few have faked me out...on their backs, legs up, only to flip over and scamper off crookedly when I try to dispose of them. One got away yesterday. Maybe he's putting the word out...stay away from the House of Horror. They aren't kidding around up there.


June 13, 2006

A Post Having Nothing To Do With Sleep
Olivia has definitely entered The Phase During Which All Limits Will Be Tested. She knows "no", knows what it means, and often knows what will elicit it before she does it. She gets that look - the stealthy glance over her shoulder to see if I am looking, then when she sees that I am, the devilish gleam that indicates she is going hellbent to get to whatever it is before I can get to her. I am having to play around to find what best works. Diversion and removal from the scene still seem the best way to go. With the pinching, for example. Olivia has always had busy hands. When she was very small, she was constantly petting and pinching me as she nursed. Our hands danced a busy ballet around my chest as she moved her hands towards and I moved them away, over and over again. It was just something she did and has continued to do reflexively when nursing or being held. I have told her no a bazillion times. "No, that hurts Mommy." No, Mommy doesn't like that." "No, Mommy doesn't want to hold you when you do that." And most of the time she will stop (and then start again a few minutes later when she forgets why she stopped.) I think that she has started now to do it to see me react. Today, she followed me around the kitchen like a Jack Russell, nipping at the backs of my legs. I just had to patiently tell her no and move away, move away, while distracting her with kitchen utensils.

We interrupt this Post Having Nothing To Do With Sleep in order to talk about sleep. Olivia has slept through the night for the past three nights. The world is awash with laughter and joy!

So yeah, there's that. On the flip side, she has gotten so much more affectionate lately. She has long been a fan of blowing kisses and has done so with wild abandon. I have to double my estimate on time needed for errands, because she needs to blow and catch kisses from everyone everywhere we go. People are especially charmed when the blown kiss originates from her forehead. It's adorable and damn funny. In the last week though, she has also taken to leaning forward and giving big grinny kisses to my and Marc's (mine and Marc's - which is it? "My" seems to make more sense, but "mine" sounds better.) faces. She hugs and pats our necks, lays her head on my leg when we sit together on the floor, and calls out to us in order to have us turn around and enjoy her face-splitting grin. She has taken to chasing me around the house (not a fast paced game, this one, as she is on all fours, but fun all the same.) and she loves to be tickled. She both asks for and offers affection and that tickles me. Yesterday I told her I loved her, and she immediately leaned over and kissed me.

June 06, 2006

The Merry Month of Pffttt
Ok, so May was a bad time and I am glad to be shut of it. All month I struggled to keep my head above a yucky soup of delayed post-partum, maladjustment to change, sleeplessness, and teething issues. (THE MOLARS. SWEET JESUS - THE MOLARS.) I had been worried about how Olivia would adjust to Marc's return, our move, me quitting my job, moving to her own bed, etc. But I didn't really anticipate that it might be equally difficult for us. I can't really explain why I have had such a hard time. (Though more than a year without a solid night's sleep might have something to do with it. Seriously. It'll make you all kinds of irritable.)

I think that much of it has been that there is part of me that wants this time in my life to be "Perfect." I want to feel like I am being the Best Mom, the Best Wife, that I am completely fulfilled and that this is all that I ever dreamed it would be. But the truth is that this is hard and it is messy and I very often don't know what I am doing. I have second guessed every decision that I have made this month and damn near made myself crazy with it. It isn't just about me anymore and the responsibility of that is immense.

There haven't been many periods of my life when I have truly felt that I could relax and be satisfied with what I was doing, where I was. I have always been looking at what comes next, what I need to do in order to make this relationship work or that career decision jell. Always in a state of flux and often paralyzed by the options. Now I find myself with a good relationship, a beautiful daughter - I should finally feel perfect and perfectly satisfied. But when May blew in like a lion and Olivia wouldn't sleep and I didn't know how to help her, and I didn't feel like Marc was supporting me as much as I needed and I didn't know how to ask for more, and I didn't feel creative or inspired or capable - only tired....well, it wasn't Perfect.

But what it is, is what it is. It is my life and my life together with my husband and daughter. It doesn't start on The Day When Everything is Perfect. It is now and I only have now to do the best that I can. And Olivia doesn't know perfect from diddly anyway. She just wants me to be there with her and for her. And I can do that. It might not be perfect but it will be me. Her Mom.

So for June, I am vowing to give it what I have got and be satisfied that it is enough. I am going to relax and not worry so much about how dirty Olivia's knees are from all of Moose's hair. (How is it that the dog is not bald? I sweep constantly and there is still hair everywhere.) I am going to stop soliciting random advice on how to get a toddler to sleep. (OK, no, I am not. Do you know how to get a toddler to sleep? Email me.) We are going to play at the park and feed half of our lunches to Moose and nap when and where we can and read books and pull all of the tupperware out of the cabinets. And everything will be Just Fine.

June 05, 2006

I am the sleep maker. I'm stronger than Ambien with fewer side effects. Side effects may include: not picking up my dirty clothes, leaving a mess in the kitchen, peeing on the bathroom floor and flatulence.

I can squeeze two more hours of sleep out of O by snuggling her up to my armpit and lying on the couch; she falls sleep instantly.

Now, I have to get Paige and me some sleep. Six hours uninterrupted would be nice.