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.)