Friday, January 30, 2009

The D-word

Just recently, in the past couple of months, Sidamo has started piecing together family relationships (Aunt Meg is Mommy's sister, Grandma is Daddy's mommy, Pop-pop is Mommy's daddy), and he's figured out that someone's missing: Mommy's mommy. When he finally thought to ask who my mommy is, I was struck silent—much in the same way I was when he asked, "If you don't have a penis, what do you have?" Eek. Not ready for either of those talks. I went with the straightforward approach:

"My mommy's name was Catherine, and she's your grandmother. I know she would have loved to know you, but she died before you were born. She would have loved you so much."

He didn't really react, other than to note how funny it is that my mother and his cousin share the same name.

Since then, though, the subject of my mother's death comes up a lot. I heard him telling his new babysitter, "Mommy's upstairs, and Daddy's at work. Mommy's mommy is dead." All in a very chipper voice, which makes it clear that the meaning of the word hasn't registered, and I'm going with the approach of explaining it more until he asks more questions. Because that will be a true sign that he's ready to understand it, right?

Today he came into the kitchen as I was cooking and asked, "Mommy, did you die?" It was jolting, but I gathered myself and answered, "No, honey, I didn't die. Dying is forever. If someone dies, you don't see them again. That's how you know I didn't die—because you can still see me." Which felt like a totally literal and shallow explanation—and sort of made me wish we weren't atheist. It would have been so much more gentle to say something along the lines of, "Grandma's in heaven, and we'll all see her again someday." But we don't believe that, and he seemed to be satisfied with the answer I gave, at least for now.

It's such big stuff for a 3-year-old to try to grasp, and while it pains me that he needs to learn it all, it is very interesting to be along for the ride as he figures it out.

Monday, January 26, 2009


I'm catching up on blogs and realizing I might have made a big parenting and patriotic misstep last week. Remember on Tuesday, how that inauguration thing was happening? And everyone was all excited about sharing that moment in history with their kids? Well, I was more excited about actually seeing that moment in history … so I left Sidamo at home with the babysitter, packed Nora up, and went over to a neighbor's house to watch it in relative quiet.

Here's the thing, though: That neighbor had a 3-year-old boy. And another woman who came to watch the inauguration brought her 3-year-old boy. And I left my 3-year-old boy at home to play with Legos on the greatest historical event of his short lifetime.

Mama guilt.

However, we did go to a big inauguration fest at our local old theater. And while we were there, many of the people we saw commented on how brave it was of us to bring our kids (sometimes I think brave is code for inappropriate). Maybe I had the right intentions, just the wrong execution.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

7 months (late again)

On Tuesday (Inauguration Day—yipee!), Nora turned 7 months. [Insert my monthly gripe about the accelerated passage of time here.] This month has been a big one: She's started sleeping in her crib, which is really, really emotional for both of us. I don't have the mental energy to do the topic justice right now, but suffice it to say it involves a lot of crying on both of our parts, followed by really long stretches of sleep. The long stretches (12 hours sometimes! I know I'm going to hate myself for posting that, seeing as how she reads this blog and then resolves to make a liar of me) bolster me to keep on going when the going is tough. Not just because the feeling of more than 45 minutes of consecutive sleep is so glorious, but also because it's clear to me that this is what she needs. I do miss our all-night cuddles, though, and in my more depressed states it's easy to make the leap from putting her in her crib to dropping her off at the dorms. And the crying begins again.

Other highlights of the month:
  • She's become much more mobile. She gets up on hands-and-knees, and today (though technically this is a few days past 7 months), she did her first little army crawl. Get this girl some fatigues!
  • At her belated 6 month appointment last week, she weighed in at 15 pounds, 14 ounces. The little chunker is evening out. Remember those rollalicious photos from early on? In those days she was in 80th percentile for weight; now she's down to 35th or so. But as you can see from the photos, she's not wanting for padding.
  • Her favorite things are still her big brother, her mama, her daddy, and her funny, funny dogs. Oh, and lentil soup. Big hit.
She's such a tremendous joy. Just look at this smoochable little face. Yum.

And the monthly car seat photo:

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Not cancer!

No idea how they got it wrong, but Saffron donated her spleen for no reason: The pathology reports came back clear—no cancer! While I'm sorry the poor dog had to go through that surgery for nothing, I'm so, so grateful that the original diagnosis was wrong.

Thanks, everyone, for all your support. I'll keep the false-alarms to a minimum from now on.

Monday, January 19, 2009

32 years

But I don't act a day over 13. Promise.

Such a beautiful birthday. Thanks god, or weather systems, or global warming, for the 64-degree day. Thanks Sidamo for the chocolate cake and non-stop giggles. Thanks Greg for the flowers and wine and delightful companionship. Thanks Nora for sleeping through the night (!!) and all your tender cuddles. Thanks friends for Saturday's celebration and, well, friendship. Thanks universe for the countless blessings.

So, so lucky.

Feels like

Christmas Eve.

How lucky are we all to be alive today?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Snow bunnies

Thanks everyone for all the support with Saffron. We're doing OK, just waiting for the pathology results to come back.

As promised, here are the photos from our wonderful ski vacation to Keystone with my sister Meg and her family. We had such a great time. Meg's kids, Catherine (7) and George (3), are delightful, and Sidamo and Nora just adore them. We spent the week skiing (well, I only took one run—I've turned chicken), cooking yummy dinners, playing, drinking good wine … So much fun.

Catherine playing with Sidamo's snapping alligator.

Nora discovers the delights of the exersaucer. Why didn't I think of putting her in one of these before?

Putting on skis for the first time ever. These are plastic practice skis; we didn't expect Sidamo to like skiing—he's a little freaked out by new experiences—so we didn't want to rent skis before giving him a chance to experiment.

He wasn't so sure of it at first.

Norasaur thought big brother on skis was pretty awesome.

The budget ski lift.

Using his poles effectively, just like his mama!

Nora has her first taste of avocado and loves it. Definitely my daughter.

I stripped her down to her diaper beforehand, but I had to change even that after she was done. Full-body avocado mask, for the low price of 77 cents.

Nora hanging out with Uncle Andrew.

After determining that Sidamo was a fan of skiing, we rented skis for him and put him on the official bunny hill. This was his first time on a ski lift, with Uncle Andrew.

Sidamo discovered the magic of the iPhone. He and George shared one of many special moments watching Dora/Diego after a dip in the hot tub. And yes, George is sitting in a Bumbo seat.

Magic carpet ride!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Sweet Saffy

Poor Saffron hasn't been doing so well lately. Naturally svelte, she's dropped a full 15 pounds in the past few months, leaving her absolutely emaciated. She's down to 75 pounds. For comparison's sake, Daisy is an inch shorter and weighs about 135. Yeah, it's bad.

We've been back and forth to the vet many times in recent weeks, testing for everything from giardia to cancer, and unfortunately it looks like she's landing on the cancer end of the spectrum. She had her spleen removed today because ultrasounds suggest it's cancerous. We're waiting for pathology results, but best-case scenario based on what we know now is about 6 months. Worst case is much less.

I've already written an Ode to Saffron, but as a quick recap: she is the sweetest, most good-natured, most tender-hearted dog I've ever met (sorry, Daisy—you have your own good qualities, but they're not these). I know there are people out there who don't think dogs are sentient beings; a few minutes with Saffron would erase any question. She has this way of getting waaaay up in your space—nose to nose if she can—and staring intently into your eyes with her tail wagging furiously, as though she's digging into your psyche and trying to extract a smile. It works, even with the worst moods.

She's an almost-10-year-old Great Dane, so of course I've always known this day was coming. Really, since we adopted her almost 7 years ago, I've always been acutely aware of her impermanence. It sounds morbid, I'm sure, but in a Sartrean sort of way, it's made me appreciate my time with her for the perfect moment that it is. Really and truly, knowing her has been one of the great priveledges of my life.

So the idea of losing her—ugh, I just can't put it into words. It gives me this horrible, panicky feeling, accompanied by a watershed of tears. The idea of the house without her, of course, is terrible. Even more heartbreaking, though, is the thought of that ever-wagging tail lying still. And knowing that she won't be there to help us smile through the grief, well that's almost too much to bear.

In the meantime, however long that is, I'm going to do my best to drink up as much of her as I can. My sweet, skinny, stinky little girl.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Belated Christmas greetings

Okay, so I'm a little behind. We just returned Saturday from a week-long ski vacation with my family (photos forthcoming), and perhaps you've heard about Nora's little sleep issue, so I've been remiss in reflecting on our wonderful Christmas. Greg and I were both raised Christian, but we're now somewhere between agnostic and atheist. Still, we have fond memories of our childhood Christmases—the communion with family and friends, the lingering meals, the holiday traditions—so we celebrate. On the other hand, we're not big into commercialism, which seems to be the common alternative to a Christian Christmas celebration. These first few Christmases, we're working on formulating our definition of the holiday and how to create our own traditions. The kids are a perfect age for it, too: They're way more excited about the activities and all the close family time than they are about the gifts, which are just the icing on the cake

But oh, how they love icing! Christmas Eve was spent at our house for a casual meal with Grandpa, Great Grandma, Aunt Lisa, Uncle Chris, and Scarlett. Greg made a gingerbread house for the kids to decorate, but the frosting I bought didn't provide strong enough mortar. Instead they decorated cookies with icing and candy—and believe it or not, most of the candy made it onto the cookies and not into the bellies.

Then we squeezed everyone around our small kitchen table, with the two big kids at the kiddie table, for some yummy lasagne.

The lasagne took too long to cook, and the kids were super-duper wired after dinner. Not easy to get a good family photo, but here was our attempt:

Nora passed out before the first gift was opened—which was OK by Sidamo and Scarlett, because that meant they got to open Nora's gifts too.

Grandpa gave Sidamo this snapping alligator game that continues to be a big hit—though Sidamo would rather use someone else's finger to press the teeth.

Christmas morning we had a lazy breakfast, opened stockings, played with toys, and eventually made it through most of what was under the tree. Sidamo would get so enthralled with each new thing that he didn't want to open anything else until he had thoroughly explored what was in front of him. We loved that he was truly appreciating each gift, so we didn't rush him. Nora was just delighted with all the packaging.

The toys are all BPA-free, but I never thought to check on the packaging.

Daisy and Saffy opened their stockings. I know it only comes once a year, but I swear they know all about Santa and his generosity in treat/chew-toy department. They see those stockings come down, and they can barely contain their excitement.

Later in the day we went to Lisa, Chris, and Scarlett's house for Christmas dinner with the whole fam (and forgot to bring the camera). It was warm and wonderful, and it made us grateful to be blessed with such a loving family. A family so loving that one member of it would feed a certain 6-month-old her first taste of ice cream (with sprinkles) in the two minutes it took for mama to get up and refill her coffee. Grandpa, you shall remain nameless.

I hope you all had similarly wonderful winter holidays, whatever they may be.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Hard habit to break

See, she can sleep when she wants to—and even looks positively angelic when she does it. So why, then, did last night look like this?

9:30-ish, fell asleep after (not while) nursing
11 woke up
11:30 fell asleep after nursing
12:15 woke up
12:30 fell asleep to singing
1:15 woke up
2:15 fell asleep after an hour of rocking, singing, swaying
3:00 woke up
3:15 fell asleep after nursing
4:00 woke up
5:15 fell asleep after rocking, singing, swaying
5:30 woke up
7:00 fell asleep after rocking, singing, swaying, nursing, Greg holding her in the sling
7:30 woke up to nurse and finally slept for a 3-hour stretch

Last night was our first attempt at breaking the nurse-to-sleep association, and as you can see it didn't go too well. Her general trend of the past few weeks has been to nurse more and more frequently at night, resulting in a more-or-less endless nursing session from bedtime until morning. It makes for contented baby, but an achy, cranky, eye-bagged mama. However, if we have a few more nights of this, the nonstop nurse-fests will start to look like a day at the spa.

Any advice on how to shut down the milkstore at night without harsh (cry-it-out–type) methods? Because I'm about three nights past my breaking point.

Friday, January 2, 2009


The other morning, Greg tried to buy me and Nora a little extra sleep again by putting Sidamo in his bedroom with some books. He stayed there almost until Greg closed the door and left for work, and then was in my bedroom asking me to play. I told him he could go downstairs and play with his trains for a bit—anything for another 5 minutes of sleep. When he came back up, he told me he had had a snack, which in his vocab means trail mix, or, more specifically, the M&Ms from the trail mix, which he calls "colors." I asked, "Did you have any nuts and raisins, or just colors?" He answered, "Just colors." I sniffed his breath and determined that he in fact had only eaten chocolate and nothing else. At 8 in the morning. How's that for involved parenting?

Fast forward to Christmas morning, when Greg is trying to videotape the kids opening presents and finds a full memory card. He scrolls through and finds that Sidamo had documented his entire escapade—playing with trains, then gathering his favorite videos, pulling a chair up to the counter, and diving headfirst into the trail mix—in both pictures and video. Not only did he freely rat himself out, but he provided all the evidence needed to convict and sentence. Gotta love this age.

When you hear him talking, he's saying, "Here comes the polar bear!"