Friday, June 24, 2005
A good day following the horrible evening.
Today actually ended up being really great. We did a day trip to NY to see my great-grandmother. My father spent the morning with her, and he said that she was very out of it and didn't even respond to people, much less recognize anyone or interact. But we got there in the early afternoon, and she really seemed to perk up when she saw the kids. She smiled and held their hands, and she even played with Emily a bit. Emily brought a toy snake with her, and Grandma faked scared and then relieved when it was put away, and then winked at Willem and I. Doesn't sound like much, I know, but the woman is 92 - it was pretty special for me.

And, of course, Willem earned major, major husband-points for taking the day off work to drive me back and forth to New York and helping with everything. And my kids were absolutely angelic, from the moment we left the house this morning to the moment I deposited their sleeping bodies in bed this evening.

So, a day which could have been horrible ended up being really special for me. I know that she probably doesn't have much time left, but now I'll always have the memory of today, and I've gotten the chance to say good-bye and sort of gently introduce my daughter to the idea of death as something that isn't always scary and hard.

And now I'm exhausted. Good thing I don't have anything planned for the next few days... just a move, no big deal!

A couple photos from it...
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Thursday, June 23, 2005
Horrible evening
I just had the world's crappiest afternoon/evening.

I went on a job interview, which went well - it's for a part-time teaching job, for which I wouldn't have to get daycare, so it really means free money. So that was good, and marked the end of my good day. Immediately after that, I got totally, helplessly lost (this was over near the new house).

Then I got turned down for a cell phone - specifically, I have to put down a big deposit to get one, which I can't do, so, same difference. My credit sucks. This is not due to wild spending sprees or unpaid bills. I've been a full-time student for the past 11 years, and a SAHM for the past 5 years, so I have no employment record to speak of, and no credit cards in my name. Hence, sucky credit score. Not a big deal, just embarrassing and annoying. Willem can get it in his name, I just wanted to do it myself, ya know?

Then I got tapped on the highway on the way home, by a woman who apparently believes that turning on her turn signal will magically clear out the lane next to her, so that she doesn't actually have to bother LOOKING. The good news is, my car's brakes work at 75 mph and so does my middle finger, and there was no damage to my car. The bad news is, I was too shaken up to get the woman's license plate and I think I lost three years of my life from the adrenaline rush.

I got home to find Jacob still awake. Because Willem wanted to keep him up for a while for observation after his FALL DOWN THE STAIRS. Excuse me?!? Jacob is fine, he actually rolled more than fell, no marks or bruises on him. And Willem's already feeling plenty of guilt, so I don't need to use that particular weapon. Which is good, because guilt takes energy and, frankly, I'm running out of that just now.

Jacob was a terror when it was bedtime again. The past week has been awful, anyway (sleep-wise), and it's killing me.

While I was coping with bedtime, my dad left a message on our voice mail, which Willem listened to. After Jacob was FINALLY asleep and in the midst of Willem's weekly check on the credit cards/bank account status, Willem said, from across the room, something to the effect of, "Oh, I forgot to tell you, your dad called. Your grandmother is really sick, and it's not looking like she'll get better. Something about how she had pneumonia and now she's not able to swallow anything anymore."

Way to soften the blow, there, chief.

To be fair, he did apologize - but it still messed with me in the moment. I knew she was not doing well, but my father had been in to visit her a few days ago and then he thought she was on the mend, so this is all a shock for me. It's actually my great-grandmother, she's 92. Growing up, I spent two or three weeks every summer with her, and she is one of my very favorite people in the whole world.

So now, three days before we're supposed to move, we'll be taking a trip to NY to visit her, just in case this is our last chance. She's had dementia for the past 2 or so years, so I don't know that she'll recognize me at all. But the point is that she gave me so much in my life that I owe her a cheering-up visit, and I know the kids will make her happy. So I'm in the process of trying to find a hotel room that we can afford that doesn't include "Now With Fewer Roaches" in the slogan.

Ugh. I'm so tired and strung out and stressed right now. And I was already stupid from the move in general, so I'm incapable of forming an intelligent thought right now. Please don't ask me what I want for breakfast tomorrow, that's just beyond me for the moment.
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
Moving makes me stupid...
... or maybe it's just sex. I'm not one to delve into intimate details of my life, so I'll just say that, quite recently, I had one of those experiences which makes you see colors that don't actually exist, hear time, and generally glow all over without a nightlight. Well, okay, since we're sharing, it was actually two such experiences this evening. So maybe that explains some of my current goofiness.

But I also really believe that there's something about the process of packing boxes, making telephone calls, and generally preparing to move that does bad, bad things to my active-neuron count. I have spent such a lot of time over the past few days going, "For the love of God, where did I put my _________?" I get in this mode where I see an empty box, I see some stuff, and I just have to put the two together, with reckless disregard for considerations such as, "Hmm, I might use that in the next week." We've probably gone through twice as much packing tape as we actually need, given my penchant for ripping a box back open again to pull something out again (only to pack it away in a NEW box 20 minutes later).

And then there's the fact that I can't seem to figure out that things have been removed from their normal spots around the house. Like, the glasses and plates have been packed. It is embarrassing for me to reflect on just how many times I have walked into the kitchen, flung open that cupboard, and then stared vacantly at the empty shelves, much in the manner of a Disney character costume. (Seriously, those things are creepy. I know they're supposed to be all cute and happy, but the eyes are blank!) Yesterday I unplugged and packed the printer; last night there were three different times where I hit the "print" button and then, because this was not a quick realization for me, thought, "Huh. I wonder why it's taking so long." Because the printer is in a BOX in the BASEMENT, ya doofus. Argh.

The up-side is, all this packing gives me a very clear, believable reason to screen my calls and not talk to my MIL. The woman called FOUR times on Sunday to "wish my son a happy Father's Day." Each time, we were either out or busy, so she left messages, every time. This is not a woman who trusts the answering maching to do its job. ("Yeah, sorry, Carol... the answering machine was on the fritz, so we had asked the toaster over to answer the phone for the day. Obviously it wasn't up to the task.") And, of course, we all know how many times she called me on Mother's Day. (Though she didcall Willem on Mother's Day, too.)

Anyway, there is an end in sight. We're running out of things to put in boxes, so we should be in good shape to move on Monday and close on Tuesday. I hope so, too, because I really need to be smarter soon!
Sunday, June 19, 2005
Bad words, bad words, bad words.
I'm tired. And ooooooohhhhhhh so cranky. Fun for the audience, I'm sure, but not the best time I've ever had in my life.

Jacob has vaulted full-tilt into separation anxiety. Or, to be more precise, alone-in-his-crib anxiety. He does okay during the day, he plays on his own for short periods and he can crawl away from me without freaking out, and it's generally rainbows and flowers and birds singing. But any bed-related time -- naptime, bedtime, waking up in the middle of the night, whatever -- and he FREAKS OUT. Screaming and screaming and screaming and screaming and screaming. And then he'll pause juuuuuuuust long enough for me to relax... and then more screaming. It's lovely.

As long as I am physically in his room, he's fine. I don't even have to be holding him, touching him, facing him or even near him - just in the room is okay with him. But as soon as I break the plane of his door, BWAAAAAAHHHHHH. (Him, not me. I wait until I'm all the way in the living room before breaking into maniacal laughter.)

And I've checked... no, I did not leave my razor blade collection in his bed, or accidentally hook the ice-maker to dump into his diaper, or switch his bedtime music to death metal. Nor do bats roost above his crib, or any of the other of thousands of causes of legitimate freak-outs.

Did you ever see that cartoon, "Bambi Meets Godzilla"? That's EXACTLY how I feel right now. Here I was, just minding my own business, doing a little grazing, a little vacant staring, no big deal... and suddenly BAM BAM BAM this thing comes along and flattens me.

(What, me? Melodramatic?? NEVER.)

Seriously, I'm in a vicious cycle with him right now. If I could just get a full night's sleep, then I could wake up refreshed and patient and soothing and ready to outlast him for a day or two, until he re-figures out that when I leave the room I am not (usually) being abducted by aliens. But I can't get a full night's sleep until he re-figures that out in the first place.


On the up-side, I did the coolest thing yesterday. I went grocery shopping - BY MYSELF. I didn't ONCE have to field the question, "Can we get that?" or "Can I have a piece of cheese?" or "Can I push the cart?" Nobody drooled on me or soiled themselves in my immediate vicinity. I was able to move quickly down the aisles, but also stop and think about which unit price is actually lower. So wild. And - even better - when it was time to check out, I got carded! I haven't been carded in years!! (I'm 28.) Yay!!!

Okay. Off to bed. I'm tired of everything right now, particularly myself. Cross your fingers, toes, arms and eyes for me that Jacob (and therefore me!) gets some decent sleep tonight. I'm alone with the kids tomorrow, and I really don't want them to witness me snapping and running screaming down the street.
Thursday, June 16, 2005
Fresh new mother-in-law rant
Argh, she really is a wonder.

My mother-in-law is the classic passive-aggressive. Never SAYS what she wants or doesn't want or whatever, and absolutely REFUSES to commit to a plan, ever, just in case she can find a better way to muck things up last-minute. (To be fair, I do have a fair amount of insight into the psychological underpinnings of this sort of behavior, but she's my mother-in-law, not my client, so I don't need to be all warm-and-fuzzy when I'm on the receiving end of her phenomenal stream of BS.) And - this may come as a shock - I tend to be very direct and outspoken, albeit tactfully, so she and I don't communicate very successfully.

By which I mean, I keep my sentences short and hard to misunderstand, and she has a string of voodoo dolls with my name on them.

Anyway, so, she has been telling all of her friends - or, more specifically, she told my husband that she tells her friends, so who knows what the truth is?? - that she comes to visit us at least once a month. This is a blatant lie. Because I would go insane. She comes out about once every three months - about every 6 months she gets an individual, all-by-herself weekend visit, and the other visits are for family events like birthdays or holidays. But she's been telling her friends she comes out once a month, so she decided recently that she needs to come out and visit. And, just to be fun and different and make my ears bleed, she announced her intention of coming out for TWO WEEKS in July.

Do you have any idea how flat my forehead would be, from the nightly head-pounding, if she were to visit for two weeks? Seriously. Flat, flat, flat.

On top of this, we're moving two hours farther away from her. You'd think this would be good for me, in the "MIL Visiting Less Often" Department, right? Wrong. Right now we're about 6 1/2 hours away, we will be over 8 - so now she's planning to fly instead. "It'll be so good for my frequent flyer account!" says the woman who flew to Holland and Italy last year. And her flying in means that we have to go get her - "we" being "my husband" because "I" would "leave her there to rot."

So she was in the midst of making some insanely complex plans involving her flying out to the nearest airport (an hour away), staying with us for a while, joining us on the 4-hour drive to Long Island for HER family reunion, and then having "someone" (see above) drop her off at an airport there to get home again. Enough logistics to give Patton a migraine.

And then things got complicated.

A few weeks ago, my mother-in-law's best friend's husband died very suddenly and unexpectedly. We all did the expected things - Carol (mother-in-law) immediately went to NJ for the funeral and such, we sent flowers and a card, and - silly me! - I sort of expected *my* life to go on as usual. I met said husband once at my wedding and once at a Christmas party, for a grand total of 20 minutes. So while I do have total sympathy for the loss, I'm not close enough for it to be appropriate for me to get any more involved. Or so I thought. Apparently I'm - yes, ME, the stay-home mom who COULD pack up and go anywhere if I wanted to - in trouble for not "letting" my family go down to the funeral. Wait, what? I'm sorry, what? I'm confused. You think that my husband should take at least two days off of work during finals (he's a HS teacher), pack up and drive 5 hours with a 5-year-old and a 10-month-old, to attend the wake and funeral of a bare acquaintance, so that YOU look better??

No. But, thanks for the offer.

Once she figured out that it really would look weird for us to be there, she switched tactics. In her nightly phone call updates - let me tell you, we were on the edge of our seats waiting for those puppies - she told us about how she made sure that OUR flowers got put at the front of the display and OUR card (which included a nice note that 5-year-old Emily wrote herself, on a separate sheet) went on their fridge, etc. Basically we got totally, embarrassingly overplayed for showing common decency. Lovely.

On top of this, she has the delight in stepping into center stage but not actually having a whole lot of emotional investment in the loss itself. See, my mother-in-law never actually LIKED her friend's husband, but her friend and she are "closer than sisters" (I'll save the sisters thing for another rant someday - remind me if you're ever bored!). So she felt that she was very much in the totally-crucial-Mighty-Mouse-save-the-day role for that family. She announced to one and all that she was going to be staying in the friend's house "for the duration, until she kicks me out, because she needs me so much."

Great. So now she gets to play the martyr and the passive-agressive mother-in-law all at the same time, what fun!

So, to skip to the end, after two weeks, apparently her friend decided that The Time Had Come. Carol called us from her own home last night, letting us know that she was no longer in NJ - "But I'm ready to fly back there on a moment's notice just as soon as I think I'm needed!" She still is planning to come visit us next month, but it looks like we MIGHT get lucky and have her visit curtailed to one week instead of two. Which is fabulous - I can maintain a good solid buzz for that week and survive it untraumatized. Well, no, not while I'm nursing... but I can dream.

And, wait, I'm sorry, did I say she "called us"? Because what I meant was, I had the audacity to answer the phone in my own house. Can you IMAGINE? I mean, seriously, was I raised by wolves? Every time I get her on the phone, our conversation goes exactly, EXACTLY, like this:
ME: Hello?
HER: Oh, hi, Kate, it's Carol.
ME: Uh huh. I mean, um, hi!
HER: How are the kids?
ME: They're great. Jacob just started crawling, and Emily is doing nuclear physics in her spare time.
HER: Huh. Uh huh. Can I talk to my son?
ME: No. It's two in the afternoon, he's at work.
HER: Oh. Well, sometime, maybe, you could let him know that his mother called and she would love to talk to her own son once in a while.
ME: Didn't you talk to him last night?
HER: Well, I guess. Not for very long. Can I talk to my granddaughter?
ME: No, she's down for a nap right now.
HER: Oh. She still takes naps?
ME: Sometimes. Only on days you call. Ha ha.
HER: Hmm. Well. That's funny. Hmm. How are the kids?
ME: Great. Jacob is speaking in complete sentences, in French, and Emily has her pilot's license.
HER: Huh. Uh huh. Well, I guess I'll go. If you get the chance, can you ask my son to call me?
ME: Happily.

Lovely, isn't it? She actually found a Christmas card for us that read "To My Son and His Wife." That's me, accessory extraordinaire!

This has gone on long enough. Just needed to vent. She'll probably be coming out before we get Internet connection at the new house, so it's possible that I may disappear and never be heard from again due to incarceration - watch the NH news!
Saturday, June 11, 2005
A stellar pregnancy moment
Now that it's been about a year, I'm able to look back at this and laugh a little, instead of cry/groan/slam heads on walls.

It happened when I was about 7 months pregnant with Jacob, on a very hot weekend in late May or eary June. I had Emily in the bathtub, and I was sitting with my feet in the tub to try and cool off. She dropped a toy out of the tub, and I leaned backwards to try and get it. I leaned just a bit too far, overbalanced, and fell backwards off the edge of the tub. No big deal, except that my center of gravity was off so I had no chance of catching myself.

I landed directly, rear-end-first, into the Home Depot shopping basket which we somehow inherited and which is the perfect size and mesh-weave for holding bath toys. And guess what?!? My pregnant butt is EXACTLY the same size as a Home Depot shopping basket. Stuck solid, it did.

During my graceful flight off the tub, I reflexively grabbed for the shower curtain, and proceeded to pull that down on top of my head, bar and all.

So, I'm awkwardly sprawled on the bathroom floor, on my back, my butt hermetically wedged into a shopping basket still mostly full of very sharp, pointy tub toys (I never realized we gave her forks and chainsaws to play with, but that's sure what it felt like on my poor little bottom), my head dangerously close to the toilet, a shower curtain fallen down on my head, and I am stuck. Completely unable to move. I yelled, daintily I'm sure, for my husband, who came running.

And, bless his heart - I try to keep moments like this in mind when he's at his most testosterone-ish - he picked me up and got me back on my feet WITHOUT running to get the camera first. I'm not sure I would have had the same decency.
Thursday, June 09, 2005
It's toes-wiggling good.
There are few things in this world that make me feel quite as virtuous and Earth-Mama as making my own baby food. I don't do it very often... I'd like to, because the taste of most of the jarred stuff grosses me out and I always feel a little squirrelly about shoveling something into my son that reminds me strongly of cardboard mixed with caterpillar guts. But I was a full-time student and worked three part-time jobs this last semester, I didn't have time to feel guilty about jarred baby food, much less to feel guilty about not making my own.

So, now, I'm done with everything... classes are done, work is done, and I'm officially a SAHM. And the other night I realized, "Hey, that's right, this stuff is gross!" I don't have the constitution necessary to adequately pulverize chicken, so he'll still get the jarred stuff along those lines (that's gross anyway, right? No reason to take part in the creation of grossness, right? Something like that...). But fruit and veggies, that I can handle. So I threw some peaches and bananas and so on at the blender last night, and viola, several bags of small cubes of frozen yummy-ness for His Highness.

And this morning, when Jacob was ready for breakfast, I thawed out some peach cubes, set him up in his high chair, and gave him a taste. It's a stronger flavor than he's used to - I don't know if the jarred stuff is watered down, or has preservatives that decrease the flavor, or what, but it's seriously, terminally bland. So real peaches caught his attention this morning. After a moment, his little toes started to wiggle, and his legs kicked, and his butt wiggled, and he generally sort of had a whole-body moment of ecstacy. Turns out he knows the sign for "more," and if I don't shovel fast enough he is perfectly able to yell at me until I do. All he needed was a little whip and he'd have been the perfect little taskmaster.

It's just nice to get some feedback that peeling and blending and freezing various poor, innocent fruits was worth the effort.
Wednesday, June 08, 2005
My Gawd, the drama.
So, my in-laws have been married for about 30 years. Never happily - both of them are chronically unhappy/angry in their own right, and as a pair they just increase the general level of misery floating around in the world - but 30 years nonetheless. My father-in-law is Dutch, and he fits a lot of Dutch stereotypes - very outspoken, certain he's right, certain that if he just asks enough questions he will eventually know just as much as you and therefore be at least as smart as anyone. And my mother-in-law is the Queen of the Passive-Aggressives, never admits to being unhappy but constantly gripes and throws around guilt trips like she's tossing life rings to drowning babies.

But, *I* don't have to live with them, and their constant misery always provides sort of a sick amusement for the rest of us... along the lines of how you slow down to rubberneck at a traffic accident. My father-in-law is always saying absolutely outrageous things, especially if he's been drinking. In fact, it's a family RULE that you're not supposed to call him after 3:00 p.m., because he's always drunk by then. And my mother-in-law is snotty to him 90% of the time, unless she wants something from him. They don't live together, but he pays for both residences, and he pays for her vacations, which they sometimes go on together, and they go out to eat, etc. It's lovely and twisted and bizarre and makes me so happy to know that by dint of his adoption, my husband has not passed those particular genes on to my children.

So, a few weeks ago, my mother-in-law had surgery on her rotator cuff. You know how most of us use a calendar to keep track of the year? Well, not her. She injures herself, usually in a bizarre and unexpected way, at least once a year. A few years ago, she broke her ankle tripping over a mop bucket, another time she got struck by lightning which spooked her horse causing the reins to tighten and break her fingers, last year she didn't have any accidents so she had her breasts reduced... it's always something. And this year's thing was the rotator cuff, which she tore by trying to catch a friend who was falling off a ladder. (Do these things happen to normal people??)

Anyway, so, on the day of the surgery, my father-in-law got up early, picked her up, brought her to the hospital, stayed with her, brought her home, got her set up, and then, once she said she was ready to take a nap, he went home. She woke up later that afternoon and was just in a ton of pain - which she somehow finds absolutely shocking. (I dunno, I always expect to be in pain after major surgery.) So she called my father-in-law at about 7:00 in the evening. Now, let's review - the family rule is, no calling him after 3:00, right? And she made the rule! But she called him, and he was drunk, and he said some typically irritating things - "You're not in that much pain, you'll be fine" type things, plus accusing her of lying about how she felt to get attention, etc. And I agree that he was totally out of line, even though I didn't hear the conversation, because I know how much he likes to get totally out of line.

Up to this point, this is all a very typical, normal, weekly sort of event between my in-laws. The weird part is that apparently this was the proverbial straw/camel combination, because my mother-in-law has suddenly announced that she wants a divorce.


After 30 years? Because he was snotty on the phone? Where is this coming from???

It's all very bizarre. I'm not even sure that she'll be able to get a divorce - judges in New York are sort of unpredictable, and she could get someone who hits her with the "you've put up with this for 30 years, why now?" logic, which she won't have a good answer for. They can't take the separation route, either, because that requires a year of no "acts of reconciliation," and I don't think she has the willpower not to take a vacation or go out to dinner on his dime for a whole year. In any case, she won't be able to continue living her world-traveling lifestyle, because even if he does pay decent support he won't continue to cover her credit card bills and such.

On top of it all, my father-in-law's health is horrible - he smokes several packs of cigarettes a day, particularly odd when you consider that he's a radiologist, and he has an enormous, pineapple-sized goiter on his neck which he refuses to "bother" treating.

Just a soap opera. But the good news is, it's not happening in my house! My only real complaint is that my husband is totally disinterestd in it all, making it very hard for me to get adequate dirt on the whole situation.
Tuesday, June 07, 2005
He's not stupid. But...
I hate to be so stereotypical and cranky, but seriously, how is it that men think and operate so completely differently from us?? I'm ranting online right this very moment because my overriding urge at the moment is to find small, or maybe not so small, projectiles to fire at my husband... or maybe pinch him until he's polka dotted... or maybe just call up his mother and hand the phone to him.

It started last night. He had mowed the lawn during the day - Oh! The Horror! - and had a backache. He wanted a backrub. But could he find it in his parts to ASK for one? Well, duh, rhetorical question aside, of course not. He had to moan and groan and limp and whine around the house, making snide comments about me being on the computer, until I finally cracked under the passive-aggressive pressure and gave him said backrub. Without poking him in the kidneys, even.

Then we get to bed, and before I have even gotten horizontal, he starts kvetching about my ability to fall asleep just about instantly. The concept that I have been chronically sleep-deprived for a while and a bit doesn't seem to hold much water for him, and he has decided instead that my lack of insomnia is a personality defect. So he's nudging me about that, and THEN as soon as the lights are out he reaches out to hold my hand. Now, for those of you in the audience who are sighing and thinking, "How romantic!" you just reel that right back in. In my house, this is foreplay. Not successful foreplay, but foreplay nonetheless. I let him pretend that he was "just being friendly," right up until the moment when he decided to shift around without warning me, which resulted in me scratching up my own leg with my own fingernails, which were firmly ensconced in his hand. And when I squirmed to the side, I got the weight of his head planted firmly in my cheekbone. None of this was intentional, mind you, but it also was not mood-enhancing for me. Unless the enhanced mood is irritability - which DID increase.

So I rolled over and went to sleep. Instantly. Because I'm a horrible person that way.

This evening, things were fine - great, in fact - until the kids were in bed. He went out of his way to play with Emily for a while, and was reading books and explaining the pictures to Jacob, all very cute. Then he made chocolate banana ice cream. Does this sound to you like a man looking to catch some action? Yeah, me too. And it probably would have worked, except that at 8:00 I sat down on the couch and flipped through the TV guide thingy, and listed off the programs I would be interested in. Okay, it's a Monday night in summertime, so I'm not *really* interested in anything, but I had things I was not disinterested in. His response: "I'd rather watch baseball." Ugh. But, fine, I don't really care. So I turn that on and get a book, ready to fall into our occasional routine in which he watches a game and calls my attention to plays he thinks I might somehow be interested in. Instead, he hops up and plants on the computer for the next 2 1/2 hours.

I hate it when he commandeers both major forms of media in the house, and of course being super-ultra-mega mature and grown-up, I proceeded to pout and ignore him for the evening. Which would have been highly effective, except for the fact that he had so much else to occupy him that he didn't notice.

Around 10:00, I finished my book and there was STILL nothing on TV, so I was so bored that I started doing dishes. He wandered into the kitchen after a bit and said, "Well, we've done a good job of alienating each other for the night, huh?" I sniped back that *I* hadn't done anything to *him* (except pout, which he didn't notice, so it doesn't count). And now he wants to know if I'm "in the mood." Sure I am! To call you bad names and huff off to bed in a snit!

Ugh. It's not that bad. I know that there are people with seriously clueless husbands, or even bad ones, or whatever, out there. I just feel like whining about it, and we all know I don't have a sympathetic audience at home....
Monday, June 06, 2005
Darwin didn't study babies.
He falls off his changing table.

He routinely scootches himself underneath the coffee table, wedges himself in, and then repeatedly bangs his head on it until I come rescue him.

At which time, he immediately scootches back underneath.

He puts everything and anything in his mouth. Bugs, crumbs, cat hair, cat tail (fauna, not flora), sister's hair, any part of Mama he can possibly reach, more bugs, dirt, little pieces of scrap anything on the floor, etc.

He grins at strangers. Even the really creepy, intense women who stand too close in the supermarket line and smell like old cat food.

He is happy - possibly even ecstatic - to sit in his own waste for way, way longer than I could do it.

He eats pureed chicken.

He lunges toward the floor anytime he's on my lap and he thinks I might be distracted.

He knocks over his sister's block towers.

He drools on my fashion-intensive brother-in-law's clothes.

He waits until Mama has a migraine before figuring out where the pots and pans are in the kitchen.

He has a tantrum if Daddy drinks a beer in front of him and doesn't offer to share.

He scootches back under the table.

He laughs - full, loud, belly laughs - when he hears someone cough loudly. He guffaws until he gasps for breath when he hears someone vomit.

He sits directly atop his own testicles. Often, bounces. Without a twinge or flinch.

And so on.

*WHY* do these critters survive their first year? (Aside from the fact that I would remove my own arm with a spoon if it would somehow help him.)
Sunday, June 05, 2005
Dental trauma (Open up and say "ugh")
I'm a really bad role model.

Not all the time. I do eat reasonably well, and every once in a while I wipe the dust off my yoga CD. I read for fun, in front of my kids, and I have my car's oil changed every 3 months.

But I am a screaming failure in one particular area: dental health. I HATE going to the dentist. Seriously, seriously hate it. There are really no redeeming features to it, in my book.

Take today. I hadn't had an appointment in over a year, having used my pregnancy and breastfeeding as a get-out-of-misery-free card. I know, the books all say you should go to the dentist anyway while pregnant, but I need a Xanax to walk in the door, forget getting in the chair - and the books are clear also that you shouldn't cause yourself undue stress and anxiety, or take a handful of barbiturates, while pregnant... I had to pick one. But we're losing our health insurance for a year or so after we move, so we've all had physicals and appointments of varying kinds lately. And I put myself on the on-call list for a dental appointment, because when I know a week in advance that I have one, I will find a way to weasel out of it.

So they ambushed me today, and I even was able to find someone to watch the kids (the downsides of having helpful friends... "Are you sure you're not busy? Because that would be okay! Are you SURE??") So I slunk in, unmedicated since I'm still nursing, and plunked down all jittery and tense in the waiting room. They don't let me stay there long, I think because I make the other patients nervous. I got settled, comfortable as a cat in poolside seats at a Sea World show, and the hygienist started cleaning my teeth.

Does this bother anyone else? The dentist wants your teeth cleaned before he'll see you. Does anyone else, ever, treat you like this??? Do you have to take a shower - or, to carry the analogy farther, a sponge bath - before seeing your doctor? (Though, hmmmm, one of my OB's was particularly delicious, I might have accepted a sponge bath from him... but I digress.) Do you have to wash your car before taking it to a mechanic? No!

So I clenched my hands - they don't like it when you grit your teeth - through the cleaning. The rubber gloves squeaked on my teeth, the x-ray tabs dug into my soft palate, and the light-mirror-thingy blinded me, but I behaved and sat quietly. Except to say, "Mmmmph?" every 23 seconds, because the hygienist wears a face mask and I read lips, so communication is not a smooth process there.

Does anyone else's dentist use 14 - yes, I counted - 14 different scary little hook things? And what kind of sadist developed those terrible little mouth-sized vacuum cleaners which threaten to invert your ears if you close your lips too tightly around them?

After that, she said, "Do you grind your teeth?" I now know the answer to this question, but being unenlightened at the time, I said, "No." She said, "Well, you have some wear on your front teeth that would be consistent with grinding them." I said, "Okay. I've never noticed, and my husband has never said anything about it." She said, "You should try and stop grinding them, or you'll keep wearing away at them." I said, "I'll do my best, but I've never caught myself doing it." She said, "Okay, but you should really stop." I THOUGHT, "For the love of God, am I speaking in Sanskrit???" but SAID, "Okay, thanks."

No cavities, hooray, though I did get a 13-minute-long explanation of why I should use fluoride mouthwash to prevent them. See, me, I'm very content to accept that some people are experts in a given field, and I pay them for their expertise so that I don't have to be an expert - so if my dentist says, "Use fluoride mouthwash," I say, "Okay." I don't need to know the historical and cultural implications of plaque buildup and decalcification and the interactions between environmentalism and communism and gingivitis.

I need a nap.
Wednesday, June 01, 2005
I think my neighbor collects human heads.
We live on a very quiet street in a pretty small town, so traffic is pretty much unheard of on our street. Our neighbor to the left rents driveway space to a couple of high school students, so at 2:10 every day they drive past, and otherwise it's a given that almost all of the cars that go by belong to one of the 5 houses on the street.

About two years ago, we got a new neighbor across the street. It was kind of sad to see the previous occupants go - they were 94 and 97, and had been married only about 10 years... newlyweds, those crazy kids. But they needed nursing care, so they moved out and this woman, we'll call her Karen (because that's her name), moved in.

Early on, we tried to be neighborly, brought her banana bread and invited her to dinner. But at that dinner, it became clear that this was not someone with whom we would have a close, friendly relationship. First of all, she is never-married, no-kids, which is fine, except she also apparently belongs to the International Squad of Parenting Police and was a little too ready to question or criticize my daughter and, therefore, my parenting. I have always been amazed by the fact that the world's biggest experts on children are childless. Then she got in a mild spat with my husband because she tried to insist that there is absolutely NO difference at all between adopted and biological children. Being adopted himself, he felt differently - not that one is necessarily worse than the other, but that there are inherent differences. She couldn't give an inch on it, so we haven't invited her back, and the invitation was never reciprocated. Which is fine, not bitter at all about that.

So we've spent the past two years glimpsing each other across the street. She's a really large woman, which all by itself isn't an issue for me. (Mostly because that would be very much a "Hey, you! Stop throwing those stones! And put some clothes on, for God's sake, this IS a glass house, you know!" kind of situation.) But she does play fast and loose with the typical rules of social acceptableness and propriety... let's just say that I am willing to accept that short-shorts are not appropriate for me at this point in time, and others don't share that acceptance of limitations.

But anyway, the human heads. The one truly unique thing about my neighbor is the incredible number of FedEx/UPS/etc deliveries she gets per day. Literally 2-3 per day, sometimes up to 4 or 5. Sometimes late into the night. They're varying sized and shaped packages, and she always rushes out and whisks them in the house right away. (No opening them right on the driveway just to satisfy her neighbors' curiosity, can you imagine??) It took us forever to figure out what she was getting, but now I'm confident in saying that I think it's human heads. What else could require such an extensive collection, which couldn't just be purchased in any store in the area?

To be fair, maybe I'm just jumping to conclusions based on her creepiness. Maybe she's actually a member of several Porn of the Month clubs. I don't care - either way, I'm keeping Jacob away from her. He does have a really nice, round head...