21. Her songs.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Oh, how I love this girl.

Thirteen months.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

You are over one year old now, sweet fella. I can hardly believe that. It seems like just a few weeks ago that I was nursing you in our chair, the copper leaves glowing on the oaks outside, as I ached for your struggling kidney and learned your face and the feel of your dear sweet body in my arms. You still lay in my arms for a while each night before bedtime, but now your arms and legs splay out from my body; you're so very big, but still we settle in for some nursing and a bottle, rocking in the dark. You are still my baby, just an evergrowing and everchanging one.

You're crawling now, at last, a sweet grabby little belly-slither that isn't quite perfected but nonetheless gets you where you'd like to go. Where do you most like to go? To our feet, to be picked up and snuggled in our arms. Your contentedness with our arms (and your bouncer, and exersaucer) is doubtless some of the reason that movement's coming late to you. And that's fine. All in due time, buddy. At your own pace.

We x-rayed your head at your checkup this week, just to make sure you did have teeth. They're in there, taking their time just as your movement is, hanging out, slow to appear. In the meantime, you're managing to eat an amazing array of food without teeth. Prunes; crackers; chopped chicken; cooked veggies. No problem for my fella! Gums of Steel!

Your laugh has two sounds to it: a lovely gravelly huh-huh-huh, and when you're seriously tickled at something, a lovely inbreath of a squeak. The squeak developed first, and the huh-huh followed a few months later, and both of them can make me breathless with love for you. You smile often, your eyes dancing with what looks like mischief.

Twenty pounds, six ounces. Three months ago, you were thirteen pounds. Apparently you needed some extra calories; we added some formula to your diet, and you've grown like a weed ever since. I'm so proud of your chubby little legs and your round little face now. It feels like we've conquered this together (along with your surgery, along with that nasty scalp infection last spring). You've been through a lot, little guy, and you just keep marching on, overcoming your hurdles and impressing the heck out of me. Out of all of us, actually.

Your hair was black when you were born, and you were almost bald for a little while, but now you're growing in a spiky, cowlicked head of dark blonde or light brown hair. Your once-blue eyes are turning brown, the same lovely deep brown that your daddy has. Your feet are still a little small (or is it that your sister's are huge and I'm unaccustomed to normal feet?). Your head seems big, since hats for your age group generally are too small for you.

The past month has been chaotic at our house; your mom and dad decided to remove some ugly paneling and add some drywall to parts of the house, and our world's been covered in drywall dust and mud splatters and primer and paint and (tomorrow, thank God) new carpet and re-installed moldings. You've hardly noticed; you soldier on, hanging out with us in the safe areas of the house, walking through the chaos just to get to bed. I sure hope that we're in this house for many many years, and that you'll ask someday to see pictures of how funky and dated this house was when we bought it, and be amazed.

Things you love: Your grammy and aunt Leigh. Your sister, always, even when she's bossing you around. Our sweet Clairedog. Being outside whenever possible. Toys. (No particular favorite, but you can sit with a basketful of toys for quite a while, playing with one and then another.) You love Cheerios, but seem to love pureed food and cereal a bit more, flapping and cooing with enthusiasm when we sit down with a bowl to feed you. Oh, and television, most especially the Fraggles DVDs at Grammy's house. Your binky (just like your sister at your age, one is absolutely required for bedtime). And always, always, you love to be held, love your milk (both kinds), and love your momma most of all.

And I eat that up. You are such a blessing, Quinton. The next year will bring your first steps, your first sentences, the beginnings of a relationship with you that's more verbal and less tactile. I'm looking forward to all that, but I must admit: I also love this gentle time of cuddles and bottles and watching you learn to crawl. Thanks for stretching your babyhood out a little longer; it is a treasure to me--

As are you. Happy Birthday, buddy.

More gratefuls.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

9) For a half hour spent driving round neighborhoods after dinner, prowling for pretty Christmas lights, with my toddler jangling her new jingle bell ornament incessantly and insisting that we sing along. Headache-inducing, but glorious fun.

10) For living in the same town with my parents, and such close relationships between my kids and my family. It's impossible to imagine raising them anywhere else now, and I feel so blessed that I have a husband willing to suffer the indignities of finding work in a small town so that we could be here.

11) For blinds ordered off the internet (lowestpriceblinds.com) at crazy too-good-to-be-true prices, but it was true. They're high quality, they look fantastic, and I have been deemed Good Wife for having made the purchase (whew! Relief.).

12) For a handyman/carpenter that I can trust with my house, who's reinstalling 100-year-old woodwork beautifully over the drywall we just had installed. For a careful, slow painter who'll come in and paint said woodwork, because we do not have the time this month to do it ourselves. For a completely trustworthy flooring installation business, who'll be here Friday to replace the 50-year-old carpet. Things have been chaotic, but they're progressing nicely now, and peace is not far off.

13) For a gal who, when asked what she wants from Santa this year, replies ardently, "a candy cane." Lord, help us preserve this sweet innocence and lack of the gimmes as long as we can.

14) For Andrew Peterson's Behold the Lamb album, which has been deepening our Christmas season for years now. It centers me on the true celebration, helps me cut through the chaos.

15) For a husband who can whip up some blackened salmon and green beans while I'm out buying groceries.

16) For a son who, on cue, waved an enthusiastic goodbye to his grandparents visiting from Georgia today. (Waves are rare.)

17) For the candles in our windows-- battery operated, true, but still lovely flickering things that burn all night and make our house look so festive from the street.

18) For the gallons of flat paint we're using on the walls being mysteriously marked down to $16.95. For my busy husband being willing to prime and paint walls and ceiling ourselves, which literally saved us thousands.

19) For a beautiful padded laptop sleeve from LL Bean's clearance online that kept me from having to create one myself.

20) For a warm bed upstairs that's calling my name right now. Goodnight, all.

Hold me, Jesus.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

8) Gracie was watching some Christian cartoon on Aaron's computer this morning. I was listening from the living room-- I heard it explain the story about Jesus' resurrection, and wondered idly if she'd ever seen a kids' presentation of that before. (I know we've covered it at church, but lots of stuff goes over her head there.)

Afterward, she came straight to me, climbed up into my lap, looked at me earnestly (almost sadly), and said, "Mama, I want Jesus to come HOLD ME. Now."

I was a bit floored. I bumbled about with descriptions about how He holds us with his heart, and through our family, but she wasn't having that. Mama Holding was no substitute for Jesus Holding. When Claire began barking a few minutes later, she popped up, exclaimed, "Is Jesus here?!", and started running for the door.

My heart broke with thankfulness and something close to sorrow over this. I so want her to love him. I do not know how to explain him to her, though.

things a perceptive three-year-old might learn from the Little Mermaid.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Daddies are mean and yell loud. (We're talking through this one.)
Kisses should always be openmouthed with tilted head. (Ditto.)
You can meet a guy and immediately want to leave your home and family forever.
I will have Daddy's blessing if I defy him, meet the man of my dreams, and marry him in such a way that I can never be a part of my family again.
You find out if someone likes you by trying to get them to kiss you.
A good man could fall in love with you without ever hearing an intelligent thought from you or knowing anything about you.
If you sell your soul to the devil/sea witch, it'll still turn out Happily Ever After.

...I've seen this movie before, but never as a parent of a little girl. We bought it without much thought this weekend and let Gracie watch it twice. The more I think about it, the more I wonder what on earth I was thinking. For one thing, it's terrifying (particularly the Sea Witch scenes). For another, it's got some horrid social messages about adolescence/love/family/relationships.

What really set me off, though, was the music video (Ashley Tisdale) that plays immediately after the movie, which applies the "Kiss the Girl" song to what has to be a middle-school or junior high dance scene.

**Mommy twitching in horror at the thought of her girl applying this song to her first dance/date/crush/relationship**

I may be paranoid, but I'm resolute in my paranoia. We're retiring The Little Mermaid, thereby avoiding the whole Princess schtick for a bit longer, and returning to aiding and abetting her Tinkerbell fascination instead. (At least Tink's running around trying to help others instead of collecting fancy trinkets, sneaking off to forbidden places, or batting her eyes to try to win a man.)

The openmouthed kissing thing is absolutely hilarious, 'tis true. But it was scary how quick she picked that up. "This is how I do it now." No, sweetie, not for a long while yet... PLEASE.

Sunday night. Leafthought.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

It's 1 a.m.(whoops-- I thought it was about 11pm). My husband never came downstairs after putting the gal to bed, so I imagine he's up there sleeping on hers, carefully balanced between her sprawled little body and the edge of the mattress. It's not the best way to sleep, but it is a great way to drift off. We both accidentally go to bed early occasionally because of her way of cuddling as she drifts off to sleep.

7) Today, I'm thankful for autumn leaves. In Orlando we had very few, and they tended to drop around December or January. I missed autumn terribly. I went out today with our gal and raked leaves furiously for about half an hour. It was good for my soul to feel the whispery cruch and smell the earthy scent that comes with disturbing leaves that have been too long on the ground. Good too to see her throw herself with abandon into my piles, laughing and running about with leaves stuck to her sweater and hair.

As I composter, I value leaves for practical reasons as well: Chopped leaves make awesome mulch and compost ingredients. I want to shred them all and add them to our garden spot, but with 1.8 acres and about 12 huge oaks, we have more than we could ever need. Best to leave today's big piles near the street for city pickup next week.

Our oaks don't turn bright colors, but the copper glow of the sun through their clinging brown leaves is something I'll forever associate with the first days at home with Q. I rocked him in his room with a view of those gorgeous leaves in the slanting afternoon light, prayed for his health, and felt so thankful to be holding him at home at all, whatever was to come with his kidneys. A year later, he's healthy, and I am so thankful. And I will always remember those leaves and prayer-breathed first days.

(off to bed. 1 a.m.! I am a glutton for punishment.)

Good Work, Good Messes.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

5) I'm so very very grateful that my husband is doing work he loves, work that helps people AND has the potential to make us a good living.

We're leaping into our first "open enrollment" period for the products he sells, which means that Medicare recipients are going to be demanding much of his attention for the next two months or so. I'm very accustomed to having his help-- cooking, laundry, kid-watching are all things he's very skilled at. It's going to be an adjustment for me to have him occupied elsewhere. May I keep remembering what life was like when he worked for a ministry that wrang everything out of us and left us in a damp moldy unhappy heap, or when he worked in the office at the crusty outdated chalkboard manufacturer and made his supervisors look productive while they paid him in beans (well, not quite, but almost). A little sacrifice is well worth the benefits-- monetarily, but most especially in the way he thinks and feels about his life and dignity.

6) Hooray for progress on the home renovation front! Sunday the handyman/carpenter who my parents use called to let us know he was available for a project we've decided to do rather unexpectedly. Our 1916 American Foursquare house has had only two families own it before us, and it's badly in need of renovation in multiple areas. My husband needs a meeting place for clients during enrollment season, and we figured out a way to do it inside the house. This means that the renovation required to bring those areas out of "1970's fugly" into a presentable condition is a tax deduction. So bring in the handyman, to remove all the woodwork and the 1970s paneling; bring in a drywaller, to hang 1/4 inch drywall; paint it (ourselves?); and bring back the handyman, to put back what he'd removed. Voila! Non-ugly office and entryway/meeting room!

(But yikes, the chaos that began in my house yesterday. Nails and splinters all up and down the staircase carpet. Pile of paneling on the front lawn, with no sure plan on how to dispose of it. Gaping ugly holes around my old windows and doorways, with cold air seeping in everywhere. Let's get this done asap, PLEASE!!)

7) I love that there is something this beautiful available for our dining room:

...of course, it's nowhere near affordable for us at this point. But there it is, my little (well, rather big) dream. It makes me smile. I am willing to wait for our opportunity to purchase it.

Saturday night gifts

Saturday, November 08, 2008

4) That my two children have grown and changed and loved and blossomed for another year. Q's now one year old, and G's three tomorrow. (Three! That boggles my mind... how can it have been three years since I sat in that wheelchair, shivering and sore, waiting for the nurses to get her IV placed so that I could see my beautiful girl for the first time since she was whisked away from the delivery room? I remember picking her up gingerly, with all the wires and monitors and oxygen and feeding tubes hanging off of her like spaghetti, trying not to displace anything. And the wonder of her obviously recognizing me, nestling herself into the hollow under my neck, and sleeping, at peace because I was there. I knew right then that nothing was more important in my world than being present for her, helping her sleep or with whatever she might need.

That's still true today. After all the chaos of today, the frantic housecleaning (too cold for a park party! 20+ people coming to our house in four hours!! YIKES, that.) and cake-decorating (NOT my Primary Talent) and present-wrapping and visitor-greeting. After having to greet a college buddy I hadn't seen in ten years wearing my milk-stained pyjama top and jeans in my wretchedly untidy house. After Tinkerbell crowns and Little Blue Engine that Could party hats and apple cider and birthday candles. After putting away a mountain of leftover cake, a kitchen full of dirty bowls and icing tips, and a whole mess of wrapping paper... there was so much peace and joy in my heart as I curled up to nurse my boy and cuddle my girl as we watched her new Tinkerbell movie before bed. She put her head on my leg and said sweetly, "I just love you so much, Mommy," and my heart nearly broke for joy. What more could there be in life than this-- a beautiful sweet girl and a jolly little baby boy, with a husband who adores us all?

There's nothing I"d rather be giving myself to than this. I am tired, often flustered, often stained with milk and embarrassed about my house. My stupid belly is still stretched out and ridiculous-looking, and I rarely get more than four hours' uninterrupted sleep. But I am so unimaginably blessed.

A new take on this tired ol' blog.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Life with toddlers and babies does not give itself to writing very much. Even less, life with toddlers and babies and a new business in the house. All require constant care, overwhelming care, care that by its very nature always falls a little short of my ideal. We're scraping along, managing to keep everyone fed and clothed and the house from falling into the Filth Abyss, but just barely. So there's no time for the writing I'd like to do, the NaNoWriMos and NaBloPoMos and daily updates and hometown tourism writing and such that's lurking in the back of my mind. Someday, perhaps, but not just now.

But. I do want to record something of my life. This first year with Q has slipped by in a flash-- we've endured a birth defect, an operation, a nasty scalp infection, a lack of weight gain, a lot of things. And I have very little of my writing to show him about his first year. I have yet to write out his birth story; I don't know when I'll get around to creating pretty scrapbook pages that tell the story. I haven't written this month about G's glee the first time Q rolled a ball back toward her after she rolled it to him. I've not told you about his first word: "out,' he said softly, as he reached for me in his carseat. I have no pictures or videos of the adorable way he speaks, softly, out of the side of his mouth sometimes, a sweet soft baby with a John Wayne twist to his lips.

It's ironic that I have so little time to write when everyday life is so tip-top full with beautiful moments to write about. I think about all that writing I did when I was single, and then married and childless, soul-searching, restless, often unhappy writing, documenting what now seems like a fairly empty life. Now that my every moment is full, that my babies are changing and growing and making me laugh every single day, I am not recording it. How upside-down that is.

So. I'm going to try something new, something I think will help me record snippets of my life: my everchanging children, my everhealing husband, the home I love and want to nurture and design and craft.

I've been reading Ann VosKamp's words at aholyexperience.com for a couple of years now. Sometimes I stay away for a while, because her eloquence and centeredness and the simple beauty of her life can stir a sense of inadequacy if I'm not feeling good about myself. But when I return, I'm always overwhelmingly blessed again by her thoughts, her discovery of the unspeakably holy lurking and indwelling the mundane details of motherhood and home life. It's rich stuff, like Carmichael or Elliot is rich to me. She has a project called The Thousand Gifts that is simply this: she challenges us to list one thousand things that stir us to gratitude, little and large moments that find us amazed anew at the Hand that placed them there.

A gratitude journal is no grand new idea; in fact, it's a bit of a faded fad. But I'm going to try this and see where it leads me. (Obviously, my current course is getting me nowhere, writing-wise.)

Without further ado, my first Gifts:

Photobucket1) A little girl who treasures the experience of having something special over the experience of consuming it. She sat tonight at the kitchen table, her small heap of Halloween candy spread out in a pile, and gleefully shaped it. "Mommy, it's a Candy Tree! It's a circle!"... and simply could not decide which piece to eat for dessert. After a great deal of time, and a fair amount of maternal pressure to please Make A Decision So We Can Get On With The Evening, she carefully selected a package of Whoppers... and gave me four pieces during the process that she wanted me to have. What generosity of spirit, what a joyful little steward she may be one day.

love this grin.2) A little boy who wriggles in paroxysms of delight whenever his sister swoops down to interact with him. She may tug on his head, push at him, pull blankets over his face, steal his toy, bounce him too roughly in his jumper... and until the moment that he is either getting hurt or is absolutely terrified, he will beam and squeal and huh-huh-huh giggle just with the joy of having her attention. What good friends they are going to be.

3) A new laptop that makes me want to write and create again, that seems to open up all kinds of creative possibilities. A hard drive that's all mine, to fill with pictures and writing and design and research of whatever I please. And the doting husband who gently insisted that I have a Macbook instead of the less expensive PCs I would have chosen for myself, who finds such joy in giving me such an extravagant gift. Just wow.

That was fun to write. I want to keep doing this...


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

No new blog changes; there just isn't time. I have things in mind and no chance to enact them.

But I do have a new treasure; my sweet husband, bribing me away from my database job, has purchased a new Macbook for me.

It arrived today; I'm typing on it now. Big pink puffy hearts. And still growing as I learn about what this thing can do.

And it's so, so pretty. And all mine.

Lack of focus. Changes brewing.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Removing that snarky "literacy in America" post that I intended to be amusing but just ended up sounding grouchy... sorry. I'm not that pissy, really.

I'm feeling a bit tired of this blogspot, and my writing shows it. I believe it's time to shift gears a bit. I'll be back asap with the details.

Value your personal time. I mean it.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

May those of you without toddlers please take a moment and be thankful for the following things:

1) You can poop alone, without a play-by-play commentary being given by your bathroommate
2) You can bathe whenever you want for as long as you want-- and again, alone and without commentary.
3) If you put something down, it usually stays where you put it.
4) If you have something to eat, you don't necessarily have to share it.
5) No one ever spits mouthfuls of your food that they DON'T like into your hand.
6) Generally, no one begins shrieking at the top of their lungs (or sobbing uncontrollably) at you before you understand what you've done to piss them off.

Just be appreciative of these things, is all I'm sayin'.

Home is where you get bruised and sunburned.

Friday, June 27, 2008

I live in one of the most beautiful places in the country, and I do not take enough advantage of that.

Last Sunday we ditched the kids (at Grandma's), played church hookey, and headed for a much-neglected hobby of ours: floating the Buffalo, our nation's first national river. Rain's been heavy this year, so we got to float from Steel Creek to Kyle's Landing, which is usually a spring-only float. The bluffs, the bird calls, the deep swimming holes and rapids and magnificent boulders... we had forgotten how much we love this. We've been back in the Ozarks for two years, but we've been busy with babies, and this was our first time back on the river together (my first time since we returned).

It will be years before our kids are big enough and good enough swimmers to go with us, but I think we made a decision as we paddled and talked (and argued about Who Made Us Tump): a good used canoe must be procured, because we want to be able to do this regularly.

It just felt like home.

Six months.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Baby Q. Six months old already! (Okay. Technically, seven. You clever thing, you counted months. Sorry I'm late.)

Four months ago, you were recovering from your surgery at Arkansas Children's Hospital, and I was still in a bit of shock, that my little baby had such a birth defect that we'd needed to operate at three months old. You were still tiny then, and I handled your little body gingerly, with fear-- even though the doctors and nurses had told me that I could handle you normally.

You were just starting to get what we (and your pediatrician) thought was some seriously crusty cradle cap to go along with your excema on your legs and back. That crustiness would proceed quickly to oozy crustiness, and sometimes bloodiness, and patches broke out on your face and neck as I applied every cream and salve the doctor had recommended, desperately trying to make you feel and look better. You'd scrape your fingernails across your head until you bled, over and over. (That's when the socks went onto your hands on a constant basis.) I knew you were itching terribly.

None too soon, I gave up on that doctor and took you to a new one, Dr. Jackson. He took one look-- one tiny little half-second look-- at your scalp and gave me a different diagnosis, different medicine, and different things to do for you. A week later, you were all but cured.

We have a new doctor now, obviously. And I've learned something about trusting my momma instincts.

Today, you are all eyes and smiles, reaching for our faces, taking off my glasses, trying to grab at our water glasses to steal a sip. You're still not rolling over, although you do know how-- you just seem happy to lay on your back and hang out. On your stomach, you can raise your head up and look around while resting on your elbows, but within a few minutes your head lolls over and you flip yourself over onto your back again. That's about the extent of the "tummy time" I'm supposed to be giving you daily.

You've started eating a little bit of pureed food now-- avocados, oatmeal cereal, bananas-- and every item is met with grins of approval and eager swats at the spoon with your hands. (Sadly, we've still got to keep your "nubbin cover" socks on your hands most of the time, as your habit of scraping your head hasn't quite abated.)

You're a champion napper, sleeping an amazing amount of the day in two or three naps. You still love to cuddle, sitting happily in our laps while we watch movies (or Gracie's Sesame Street, which you stare at avidly). You love being outside and have quit screaming in the car almost entirely.

You're a skinny, long little fella these days, weighing 13.5 pounds at your six-month checkup. I'm hoping that eating some food will help bring your weight up a bit, and I worry a bit too much that I don't have enough (or rich enough) milk for you. Your sister was tiny until her first birthday, and she's big for her age now, so I guess that even if my milk isn't very rich, you'll end up just fine in the end.

Can't wait to know you better, little Q. We love what little we know about your personality so far; I'm sure you're going to be a fabulous little son and brother.

Two and a half.

My little fairy sleeps like a bag lady, with all her precious things piled around her.

In the morning, we're often awakened as the first one of them gets slung onto our bed, bedsheets, or backside. "Move over, mama. I come SLEEP with you!"

Depending on the hour, we either accept or reject her advances. (5:30 a.m.-- accept. 3:45 a.m.-- reject and escort back to her bed, where like as not I'll awake at 5:30 a.m., sore and crowded from scrunching myself onto her twin bed with her.) If accepted, chances are our sleep is over, as she squirms and points and chatters and giggles and pokes between the two of us. SoftDolly is always welcome, for even though she rattles softly, she never injures; PokeyDolly (these are their only names so far) has hard vinyl Fisher Price head and appendages, and can make you see stars when she's accidentally swung into your skull.

But our little bag lady, she insists. There will be no peace "sleeping" with her without the dollies. So we relent, and allow even PokeyDolly to pile in with us. So there we are, two largish adults, one solidly built two-year-old, a slightly tubbifying middle-aged dog (if she didn't leave the bed in protest when it was invaded), and a collection of dollies, sippycup, books, blankets, or whatever else strikes our gal as vital to her happiness.

It's crowded, silly, and too early to be truly happy about our wakeful status. In a few minutes, our baby boy (aka the Squid, the Woodchuck, or, most recently, the WhistlePig) will be awakened by this ruckus, and begin his yawps for milk. Our day will begin, with feedings, entreaties to PUT ON THESE CLOTHES, PLEASE, scramblings for cereal and blueberries and juice. We'll have Sesame Street, and playroom time, and trips to Grammy's (weekdays) for lunch and naptime. You will defy me at least once during the day, and try to manipulate me with your sweet words and eyes, and I will clean up umpteen of your messes-- playdoh, crayons, blocks, dominoes, puzzles, crumbs, spills.

But for a few minutes, as we wrangle for a few minutes of sunrise peace with our bedfairy baglady, I am in total bliss.

You are still a complete enchantment, sweetheart. Even at 5:30 a.m.

(Picture above: Nap today, with SoftDolly, Tinkerbell, sippycup full of water, no pillowcase on her foam pillow, and blanket beside her, NOT on her, please.)

Conversation with a two-year old. Rinse. Repeat.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

On the way to Grammy's house, five miles away.

"Where we goin', Mommy?"

"Grammy's house, honey. For lunch and a nap."

(fifteen seconds elapse while she looks out the window and I drive.)

"Where are we goin', Mommy?"

"Grammy's house, honey."

"I don't want to go to Grammy's."


"Where we goin', Mommy?"

"To Grammy's, where we go almost every day. You love it there."

"Would you like to go to that restaurant, Mommy?"

"Huh?" (I see the local sandwich shop on our left.) "Oh, that's a nice place, isn't it?"

"Neighbor's Mill. You want to go there, Mommy?"


"How 'bout Sonic? Sonic's good, Mommy. You want to go there?"

"Mommy, where we goin?"

My heart beats fast for Amish drygoods.

Friday, April 18, 2008

I have a secret love:


It's a store in Ohio that originally was created to serve the Amish, providing simple tools for living that were becoming difficult to find elsewhere. But they also have a website, and it carries wonderful things.

A tabletop butter churner.
A wooden form to make seedling pots from newspaper.
A non-electric doorbell. (We actually need one of these.)
Composting toilets.
Amish-grown popcorn, dried on the cob in a corncrib. (Don't ask me why that's better, but doesn't the sound of it put poetry into your movie snack?)

Clotheslines, old fashioned toys, woodburning cookstoves, apple peelers: this stuff feeds my Inner Homesteader. I mean, really: how many online stores have a Home Butchering category, or sell German Fermenting Crocks for making your own sauerkraut? Where else could I browse and learn so much about home canning products or purchase a book titled "Anyone Can Build A Tub-Style Mechanical Chicken Plucker"?

My husband recently pointed out that I have a secret desire to build a cabin in the hills and live there squirreled away from the world, living off the grid and growing my own food and growing flowers to sell at the farmer's market. It's true, although I know enough to realize that it is not really going to happen. I think my yurt and tiny house fascinations tie into this, along with my irrational love of the idea of Urban Chickens and my much more rational love of Mel and the work of his Square Foot Gardening foundation.

I have two babies, each of which have more stuff and require more of my time than I ever imagined. I won't be fitting my and my husband's life into a 120 square foot cabin or learning to raise all my own food anytime soon. But in the meantime, I'll keep browsing at Lehman's, dreaming of simpler ways.

Getting it wrong.

I had a "first" this week: getting a second opinion on a pediatrician's diagnosis and treatment of my child.

Since about Month 3, Q's head has been itchy, scaly, scabby, and oozy. Whenever he was agitated or hungry, he'd claw at his scalp, often until it bled. His head left stains on his crib sheet overnight; I would obsessively try to pull the scales out of his hair while he ate. His hair has mostly fallen out at the sides except for a spectacular mohawk in the middle (where he can't reach to scrape); he's been wearing socks on his hands for months to help prevent the scraping and bleeding. It's been awful.

Almost two months ago, his pediatrician gave me a diagnosis of (basically) severe dandruff and possible allergies, and had me start using heavy-duty Head and Shoulders on his head, and told me to be patient, that it would take a couple of months to improve. That his head would look dry and icky. That I should persevere.

(What I hear in this, and what I've heard in his previous advice about my kids' illnesses, is basically, "don't come here bothering me unnecessarily about this." I'm not sure why, but something in his demeanor makes me feel like a paranoid mom any time I have a question or bring my kids in sick. So I committed myself to being patient, following his directions, waiting for the healing to begin.)

I made it about six weeks, bathing him daily, trying to ease his discomfort, waiting for the improvement. It wasn't really getting better, although it obviously looked and felt better for a few hours after a bath. But the mess would return overnight. I've hardly taken any pictures of my beautiful guy, because I don't feel like I want him to see how sad he's looked. When I do, the red patches and uneven hair stand out like beacons to me in the photos, and I sadly download them onto the computer and don't look at them again.

Finally, this weeek, we sought out another doctor; a family doctor, since there are only two pediatricians in town (and I've never known anyone to speak positively about the other one). This man was sweet with both kids, gentle with Quinton, and took one look at his sad scalp and made a different diagnosis: Impetigo.

I am so relieved to have some medication he can take and a new regimen to try. He says it should be mostly gone within a week. However, I'm more than a little embarassed to have such a icky, contagious infection on the baby I'm supposed to be lovingly caring for-- much like I've seen families feel about discovering lice on their kids' heads. I'm also feeling more than a little guilty that I waited so long to seek out another diagnosis.

This uncertain, aching, am-I-doing-the-right-thing-oh-crap-I-guess-I-wasn't feeling is so unique to motherhood for me. Making a mistake in my own care or life seems perfectly normal and forgivable; making a mistake (real or perceived) in my kids' care is agonizing, guilt-inducing, regret-filled.

However, the prospect of erasing the contagion, of restoring Q's sweet head to its healthy state, is so exciting that I feel almost slavishly grateful toward this doctor. If his diagnosis is correct, I think we'll be switching to his care for a while, to see if I'll feel a bit less intimidated by him.

Please heal, little Q. You don't deserve this nastiness.

Ten things about Baby Q at 3 months old

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

1) Baby Q, you have the most beautiful eyes. We can't tell yet what color they'll be, of course, but they are deep and dark and big and lovely. Those impossibly long eyelashes that come from your dad's side of the family are sprouting on you already, and with your slightly-curly dark hair and those amazing eyes gazing at me, I sometimes wonder how I (definitely not the most lovely of women) have managed to give birth to such a gorgeous creature.

2) Of course, you're also in the middle of your baby skin nastiness-- lots of cradle cap and irritated rashiness going on right now. We've found a lotion (Aveeno's heavy-duty moisture baby lotion) that helps tremendously, so hopefully this will be a short phase. Most babies have it, I think, especially winter babies like you who have to endure cold dry air on their tender tender skin.

3) You want SO BADLY to try to talk. You look earnestly into our eyes, your mouth working, struggling to remember how to form a sound. Eventually a little coo or grunt or squeal comes out, and we're enchanted. You want so much to be a part of the conversations we have with you. And your favorite person to talk to is definitely your Grammy-- your eyes get wide and you wriggle with excitement whenever she starts talking to you.

4) Your sister loves you more than anything else in the world. Despite the fact that you steal hours and hours of her Mommy's attention, despite the fact that you're the source of more "Gracie, NO!"s than any other part of her life, she would rather be playing with you than doing anything else. She loves to hold you on her lap (with lots of help), to lay next to you on the couch, to sing to you and babble in a strange language that she uses with no one else (I need to get that on video before it's gone). Whatever struggles the two of you have later in getting along, however annoyed with you she may be sometimes, I hope I remember to tell you both how much she loved you from the very first time she saw you.

5) This week when we returned to Children's Hospital in Little Rock to repeat your kidney tests, the technicians had a horrible time getting an IV into you. They stuck both your hands and both your feet, failing four miserable, painful times before a woman named Kim managed to get the needle into a vein in the inside of your left elbow. It was so hard to see you on that table, weighted down with sandbags, crying miserably as they struggled to do something that you didn't understand was for your good. You'd look at me as I stroked your hair and tried to talk to you during their attempts, and your eyes seemed to just beg me for help, desperate and confused about why I wasn't intervening on your behalf. (Your mom's side of the family gave you that little inconvenient trait-- my veins are hard to find too, and I often get myself bruised up pretty good when someone needs to get blood from me or put in an IV.)

6) You don't really like to be alone. When I put you down for your naps, your most successful and longest ones are in rooms where people are moving around within earshot. If you're crying in your room alone, I can often moved your swaddled little body into the room where I am, and without another word of complaint, you fall asleep within just a few minutes. I wonder if this is an indication that you're going to be a "people person"; it's definitely pretty convenient, since your sister hates to leave you alone to sleep in a room by yourself. I have a sleep book that recommends that babies learn to sleep in quiet dark rooms, though-- not sure yet if I'm going to try to persuade you to sleep in that environment or not.

7) You're growing like a weed and are much larger than your sister was at this age. I put a one-piece sleeper on you today that your sister wore well into the summer when she was your age; it looks like it might fit you for a month or so at the most. After worrying about Gracie's growth and tinyness so much, it's a huge relief to have a big strong boy who eats with gusto and grows like crazy.

8) You have broad, squatty hands like your daddy, but you have my narrow tiny feet. I think this is hilarious, because your sister has just the opposite-- rather delicate little hands, and big, flappy flat duck feet like her daddy's.

9) You're getting better about enjoying a swing or a rest on your back to look around by yourself, but you'd really prefer to be in someone's arms at all times. You're quite the snuggly baby, and you like to be held on your side and bury your face into your holder's elbow or chest. It looks like you'd smother doing that, but it's your favorite little spot and will put you right to sleep most of the time.

10) I realized today that, because you were born in November, that you've barely been outside at all in your entire life so far. Other than being shuttled from car to building and vice versa, you've rarely seen the sky, or trees, or felt the breeze or sun on your face. I look forward to changing this just as soon as the weather warms. I hope that you'll be a gardener and outside-lover like your sister and your momma.

Random is better than nuthin'.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Oh, my. So much time has gone by.

We are in bliss, but life is so busy. Yes, we have a new baby, one that is being breastfed and is not yet (quite) sleeping through the night. He is lovely, beyond lovely actually.

We also have a newly potty-trained toddler, one who loves to take off her clothes at random times (it's January, child! our upstairs is unheated and I sleep in my fuzzy robe! what are you THINKING?) and now sleeps in a twin bed.

She also leaves that bed at least once a night to request my presence ("Mama cuddle in Gracie's bed," I hear suddenly as I realize that there are two earnest eyes peering at my face from about four inches away in the dark.)

We also own one less house in Florida (PRAISE THE HOLY LORD WHO SOLD OUR HOUSE IN A WEEK, AMEN) and, as a result, one house in Arkansas. And, as of this week, our kitchen has entered the 21st century with the (very pricey) addition of plumbing, updated wiring, and a DISHWASHER. Again, cue the host of angels triumphant.

And there have been colds, and stomach viruses, and sinus infections, and coughing rattlelungs. Should we all survive this winter, we will definitely be rejoining the flu shot club next year. I'm not sure if it would've helped, but this is SO much worse than last year, when we'd had the shots...

And there was Christmas, a lovely special Christmas with our little girl, who marveled at Christmas lights, stockings, Santa, plastic holly, baby Jesus, and the Christmas aisle at Wal-Mart with total abandon.

May I never forget:
-Evidence of Husband's vocabulary slip as we drove past a glowing plastic nativity scene: "Holy CRAP, it's Baby Jeeus!" from our sweet toddler's lips.
-December 26, as we said grace before dinner, I was interrupted during my prayer: "Thanks Santa," she said earnestly, nodding at me. "And Thanks Stockings."
-The way she said, wistfully, any time we drove through the unlighted town square for weeks afterwards: "No mo Christmas. All gone. Happy New Year?"

And now, there is possibly a new career for Husband in the works, one that helps people and will help us and will help him enjoy his workweek. (There is risk involved, though. We're trying to figure that out.)

And Monday, we'll know if our sweet little baby needs surgery on February 5 to unblock that obstructed tube. I would so love to spare him that little 4-cm scar...

In short, we've been very busy, fairly sleep deprived, somewhat sick, a little frantic and terribly, terribly happy lately. I hope to write more soon, including a letter to my little son about what these first months with him have been like. (Oh, the curse of the second child... Bird has a letter every month during her first year. I'll be doing good to get Q one every three months, I think. Unfair and unjust, as my daughter would say.)

Don't haul me out to the wood cart-- This blog's not dead yet.