Tuesday, December 30, 2008

My Son Has No Tastebuds

Actually, I think he's tastebud-disabled. Admittedly, you could say the same for me - the first month of my pregnancy, I ate wasabi paste straight from the tube. I'm addicted to wasabi peas, dried anchovies, smoked oysters, etc. Always have been. So I suppose I shouldn't be surprised when I have to eat my wasabi peas out of his sight, lest he demand that I share. Ditto for dried anchovies, oysters, all the rest of it. And there ARE things he doesn't like - he is not convinced that raw mushrooms are a food, for example. Anything really, really mild, there's a chance he'll hold it in his mouth, forget it's there, then gag and spit it out. He used to do that ALL THE TIME, which is why we used to put chili powder on everything he ate. So he does HAVE tastebuds, they're just, well, "differently abled".
Sometimes, though, I do wonder. Today, I was peeling him an orange, and he decided I was taking too long. He picked up that white membrane that goes down the center of the orange and started eating it. Okay, not too weird, it's edible. Then he picked up a chunk of skin, nibbled experimentally at the edge, and apparently he liked it, because he then CHOMPED. Big bite of orange peel, chewed and swallowed.
Is it just me, or is that bizarre?
Assuming he has tastebuds, I think they've been dropped on their heads a few times too many. Or he's burned them off with wasabi in utero.
Generally speaking, he's an easy kid to feed. He likes vegetables, and in particular will eat anything in a hollandaise or cheese sauce. He's got all the toddler favorites - cheerios, mac and cheese, bread and peanutbutter - but he'll also eat things containing squid and tofu. The only catch is that the first bite of almost anything that isn't a bread product will involve a fight. BUT, if you can pin the hands down and get him to swallow what you force in his mouth, he will then eat the rest of it. I know not why this is, I'm just glad that once the first bite's over, we're usually home free.
If we HAD a food battle, it would be over meat. We went through a phase where meat had to be ground and concealed in something. I was celebrating the week of Thanksgiving when he had his first Happy Meal and ate two out of four chicken nuggets without a fight, because I once bought a box of frozen popcorn chicken with the intention of using it as quick and easy protein for him, and he would not eat those no matter what. Back then, the speech therapist said he wasn't chewing, and so he gagged on it, and being a quick study, he figured out what it was that gagged him and rejected the entire food group. If I held up a bite of pork chop, chicken, or a chunk of a hamburger, he would instantly dissolve into tears as if I'd offered him a nightshade salad with hemlock dressing. "Mommy, how COULD you!" Since then, thanks to hot dogs, crunchy raw fruits and vegetables, and some very tender steak, he has been getting better at chewing and it's not an issue. He's not that much of a carnivore, but he has an uncle and a cousin both who are not that into meat, so there's a precedant for that. I have no problem with him getting his protein from beans and peanut butter, so long as it's his own choice and not because he thinks he'll choke otherwise.
Orange peel, though. Huh. That's a new one on me. Hey, we know he'll never starve!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas - Kala Christouyena! (Literally, "Happy Christ's Birth")
Kittyboy is officially two. He was a very good boy in church this morning, as his mother stumbled through a Christmas Orthros and Liturgy. Services that only come once a year are NEVER done without a comedy of errors, substituting Christmas hymns in the wrong places, or forgetting them entirely. At least I was not the only one singing, there were two sopranos and an alto in the congregation. And there actually WAS a congregation, maybe a dozen people or so. It wasn't Husband and I and Father, the way it's been at least one year that we've been here. That alone was a lovely Christmas present. Although, I didn't get to do my favorite Christmas hymn in English. So here it is!

"Today, the Virgin bears Him the Transcendant One, and the earth offers a cave to Him who is beyond access. Angels, along with shepherds glorify Him. The Magi make their way to Him by a star. For a new child has been born for us, the God before all ages." (Christmas Kontakion, in the Third Tone).

I also came home to every housewife's Christmas wish fulfilled - sort of. Husband's brother's family is visiting (Eric et al), and while we were at church, instead of sleeping in, Eric DID ALL MY DISHES. I had apologized for the state of my kitchen, and they said it wasn't like I had much time to get stuff done with a toddler running around, and then this morning I came home from church to the sound of dishes clattering and water running. I screamed, "NOOOO! Bad Eric!" He said it was Christmas, what the heck, why not. Merry Christmas!
After his post-church nap, Kittyboy opened his presents. He has a whole set of animals now, parents and offspring of horses, goats, pigs, sheep, and cattle, and he immediately added them to the Nativity scene. Very generous of him. It was a very full stable.
He has also been given what I suppose is every two-year-old's dream - a battery powered four-wheeler. It's an ATV for the preschool set. One-wheel drive and a cruising speed of two miles an hour, courtesy of his Uncle Eric. It is the duty of uncles, I suppose, to give the "somewhat dangerous but incredibly cool" gifts. It's their JOB, like his Uncle Carel buying him his first pocketknife for his first birthday (to be given at some point well into the future). Husband put Kittyboy's little hand on the button that makes it go and pressed, and the thing jumped forward. Ha HA! Kittyboy giggled, and giggled, and giggled, as he lurched across the living room floor. Yeah, that's going to see a lot of use!
Sooo.... we had decent attendance in church this morning, all my dishes are done, and Kittyboy can chase the cats at 2 mph.
Merry Christmas to all!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Kittyboy's "First" Christmas

Baby's First Christmas is generally a way bigger deal to the parents than the baby, unless he was born December 26th and is very aware for a one-year-old. Personally, I count THIS as Kittyboy's actual first Christmas, because it's the first one of which he's really been aware. His FIRST, he was only aware that everything was cold and giants were doing things he didn't like. It wasn't terribly festive. His second, last year, he wasn't yet moving around really. He could roll and scoot, but nothing else, and he appeared to take most of the season (tree up, decorations, etc) as yet another odd thing his parents did.
This year, with him walking, reaching, grabbing, throwing, and all those wonderful new skills, we learned the Glass Ornament Lesson (they don't work, though they do make wonderful explosions when hurled on a hard floor), and the Porcelain Nativity Figures Lesson (they don't look fragile until they're in an enthusiastic little boy's hands, then they look SUPER-fragile). Our tree is decorated with dollar store plastic only, which can still be destroyed (the "Plastic Is Not Toddlerproof Either" Lesson) but at least doesn't need to be vacuumed.
THIS is our real first Christmas!
When Kittyboy first saw the lights, all lit up on the floor in a jumble, he was instantly fascinated. He put his face right up to them, close enough the lightbulbs were touching his eyelids, again and again. The angel was the most beautiful doll he'd ever seen, and he had to hold her and help put her on the tree, and then had to be held up to her so that he could touch her dress and wings and the lights in her hands, and give her kisses. He does insist she's a bird, because of the wings.
We've finally got a Nativity set, courtesy of Ebay, which we feel comfortable having down on the floor. It's some kind of clay or plaster, extremely light (so it won't fall just by being dropped), and it's just beautiful. And of course, we've had all the toddler-related excitement over the figures - hugging all three Magi to his chest and running off with his new friends, taking out ALL the figures to move them around on the carpet and then rearrange in the stable, treating Jesus' manger as a car and helping Him drive around the living-room (the base is smooth and so it slides nicely on the carpet), and this morning he took the angel that hangs on the roof and gave her a ride in his rollar skate.
I've been working on the signs for Jesus, Mary, and angel, in the hopes that he'll quit calling angels birds. So far, he's not making any of the signs, but he HAS figured out that the word "angel" applies to both of the winged people in the vicinity of the tree. He just still thinks they're in the larger class of "bird". Some birds are chickens, some birds are ducks, some birds are ravens (we have a lot of those around), and some birds are angels. That follows, right? And it's nice to give them rides in case their wings are tired.
This is the First Christmas I'M going to remember as special!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Remembering a "Brush with Death"

Last year on this date, I couldn't stop crying. This year, it took me until 7:53 P.M. to remember what day it was - the second anniversary of the day I was admitted to the hospital. I take that as a good sign.
The story of my son's exciting and traumatic birth began Dec. 18th, 2006. I was six months pregnant, and the ONLY things wrong with my pregnancy were that I had only gained twelve pounds, and that the baby was not as big as my ob-gyn, Dr. Rundle, would have liked him to be at that point. It was Monday, a week before Christmas, and I wasn't feeling good. Nothing urgent, just flu. I called Dr. Rundle's office, described my symptoms, her nurse asked me a series of questions (odd things, such as "Any headache? Changes in vision?"), and said it sure did sound like flu. Lay down, drink fluids. I called in to my afternoon shift and did just that. Tuesday, boy was that flu beating me up. I was sick as a dog. The nurse called again to see how I was, and ran through the same strange list of questions. No, really, it was just VERY bad flu. Wednesday came and passed, and I couldn't lay in any one position comfortably. Again, the nurse asking about headaches and blurred vision. What was UP with that, I wondered. Thursday morning, I was bound and determined, I WAS going to work. I had missed three days, I was in charge of the accounting and bills at the school program for which I worked, and Thursday was Bill Day. I was going to get those bills out one way or another. I spent the whole morning holed up in the teachers' lounge writing receipts and logging payments from the rest of the week, but looked so bad that my supervisor said not to come back that afternoon. I was perfectly happy not to - but, I had missed so much work that I figured I had better get a doctor's note. That I had already missed three days of work was the ONLY reason I dropped Husband off at his job and went straight to Prompt Care that afternoon. It was the last place I wanted to be, because all I wanted to do was go home, curl up and die.
Luck of the draw at the walk-in clinic, I got Dr. Gerber (for all eternity to be known as Prince-Among-Princes-At-Springfield-Clinic). He took my blood pressure, felt my stomach, and said that it was most likely flu ("well of course," I thought, "just write me a note!"), but based on the quadrant in which the pain originated, he wanted to do a blood test and make sure it wasn't a gallbladder problem to which pregnant women are susceptible. Yeah, sure, okay. I had blood drawn and went out to the waiting room while they tested it.
When the nurse came and got me, she re-took my blood pressure, and looked at the result as if the machine were broken. Then another nurse popped in and asked, "Which hospital do you prefer?" I said I guessed St. John's, and she left again. Lots of talking in the hallway. Something about which ob-gyn was on call right then. Then Dr. Gerber came in. "Your gallbladder is in distress, your liver is in distress, your platelets are down in the 30s, you have a collection of symptoms for something we call HELLP Syndrome, did you drive yourself here? You are driving straight to St. John's, you will be admitted immediately. Don't go home, don't go anywhere else, you need to be in a hospital NOW." It wasn't my gallbladder.
I left voicemails for my bosses and Husband on my way to the car ("Dear, I can't explain because I don't understand, but you need a ride to St. John's when you get off, because that's where the car and I will both be"). Being admitted is a haze of sorts in my memory. Various IV drips, a belt to monitor the baby around my waist, more blood being drawn, lots of vomiting before I started feeling better, and neither Husband nor I actually understood anything. We weren't exactly into asking questions, and all the medical personnel surrounding me were dashing about. Nice little "Now here's what we're going to do" explanations were not the priority. Getting me hooked up and stuck to everything conceivable WAS. My room had the atmosphere of an ER. One nurse did tell Husband in the hallway outside my room that I was "a very sick little lady", but she didn't elaborate and he didn't ask. It was the 21st of December, two years ago today.
The next morning (the 22nd), "bright and squirrelly" as my dad would say, Dr. Rundle was at my bedside in her jogging suit, looking as if she still needed coffee, trying to figure out what had gone wrong. Her nurse had been calling me all week with those weird questions precisely for this reason - HELLP presents with stomach pain, vomiting, etc, like flu, but is supposed to include ridiculously high blood pressure, high enough to cause headaches and distorted vision. I never DID have the high blood pressure, and so the big, obvious, trademark symptoms weren't there to tip anyone off. She kept saying, over and over, how VERY glad she was that I'd gone in, or no one would have guessed it was anything but the flu. You don't send a woman six months pregnant out into the snow and ice when she has flu-like symptoms on the chance that she has a really rare blood disorder instead, you tell her to stay home and drink fluids, which would eventually have been really bad, considering that later that morning I went into labor. A quick-thinking nurse rolled me onto my side, which stopped it. Later that day, Dr. Rundle and all the other ob-gyns from her office came in to ask me how determined I really was to STAY pregnant, because the baby COULD be born then if we wanted. I said I wanted to stay pregnant as long as I could. They didn't look entirely comfortable with that, but left.
Sunday the 24th the neonatal specialist took his sonagram machine on a walk to come see me. I'd been wheeled up to his office the day before, at that time the baby was a little stressed but okay, and I guess he was just curious to see what was going on 24 hours later. Rather than have me sent up, he brought the machine down to my room, which was funny. Baby was "fighting - not struggling, but fighting." The nurse who came on duty that night was the same one who had been there when I was admitted, and she commented that she was surprised to see me. I assumed, incorrectly, that she had expected the baby to already be born...
That night about 10:30, my liver started yelling again. Nurses coming and going, more blood being drawn, lots of calls to the lab, because they couldn't give me painkillers without bloodwork. I will put HELLP syndrome liver pain up against natural childbirth any day of the week. I was going out of my mind. It was about 1 a.m. that they finally got the okay for Demerol, which apparently doesn't only numb the pain, it also makes you really not care about it. I was on Demerol until 10:30 Christmas morning, when I went under general anesthetic for a c-section. Everyone who sees my son's birthdate says, "Oh, it's the Christmas you'll never forget!" WRONG. It's the Christmas I'll never remember. I wasn't coherant until after 5 that evening.
The rest of the week I was busy trying to pump milk three months earlier than my body had planned to. I was discharged that Friday, and the nurse checking me out asked "So how does it feel to have a brush with death?" and I laughed, thinking she was exaggerating. I mean, yeah, I was sick when I came in, but I was fine after they started all the IVs and everything, it all turned out okay, right? She said, "Oh no, that's not a joke. You don't know how sick you were." Husband said soberly that he had printed out some online articles for me to read when I got home. He had looked up HELLP in Wikipedia just the night before, and was glad he hadn't beforehand (say, the night right after I'd been admitted).
The nurse who had told him I was "a very sick little lady" was trying to let him know there was a good chance I wouldn't recover. She was surprised to see me still there on Sunday, because she had expected I'd be in ICU or dead. My being admitted had been so frantic and rushed because it WAS such an emergency situation. I read the Wikipedia article, noting in my mind that my platelet level had been of Level One, i.e. very severe. And I took it all quite calmly until the next December 21st, when it hit me like a ton of bricks.
A year ago, I couldn't stop crying. This year, I forgot the date until the day was almost over. That makes me pretty happy.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Best/Worst Gifts

My father, God love him, firmly holds that if it is practical, it canNOT be given as a present for any holiday or occasion. He learned well from his own father, who gave clothesline and a toaster as presents (in Grandpa Speed's defense, they WERE items for which his wife had asked). My husband subscribes to the same rule. And.... I'm trying very hard to break him of it!
I have more than enough clothing. I have more shoes than I wear. I LOOOVE jewelry, anything colorful or sparkly, but I have more than I wear, especially since until I get Kittyboy to leave what I'm wearing alone, I can't wear much at all. He's broken chains. "Samson" is another of his nicknames. Flowers die. Plants, I have to find room in a window for. Unless there's a book or movie I'm really wanting, or music, or something, what I usually ask for is something I've actually been wanting and NEEDING.
I am the sort of woman who will ask for a new set of pans - a really nice cleaver - a vacuum cleaner - a bookcase - a coatrack. And I will be sincerely happy and grateful and jump up and down when I get it. If I've spent more than a week thinking, "GEE that thing would make my life easier," said item will appear on the wish list for the next gift-giving occasion. My "big brother" the trucker found me a magnetic knife bar at a truck stop which thrilled me to bits the Christmas he gave it to me.
Case in point - for Mother's Day, I wanted a clothesline. I really, really, really wanted a clothesline. My "clothesline" last year was a rope around a tree on one end and the TV antenna on the other. It was blocked on two sides by the house and the garage, so it didn't get as much wind as it might have, it was under a TREE so it didn't get much sun, and so it was dysfunctional in the truest sense of the word - non-functioning. All spring, I asked for a clothesline. Actually, "asking" is too polite of a term. I nagged, shamelessly. But installing a real clothesline is a Project, and so kept getting put off. So when Husband asked me what I wanted for Mother's Day, he heard, "Clothesline! Clothesline! Clothesline! Clothesline! Clothesline! Clothesline!"I even went to Menards to see how expensive they were, and told him where they were, how much, all that. I was REALLY looking forward to hanging my laundry.
I don't remember what he came home with instead of a clothesline. I think it was flowers and candy. Anyhow, I was CRUSHED. I had TOLD him what I wanted. I had told and told and told, and how could he not have listened? I didn't want flowers, or candy, or even a special meal necessarily. All I wanted was a clothesline! And... sniff... I didn't get one.
Seeing me ready to cry with disappointment FINALLY convinced him that I had been serious. I wasn't just asking for one for Mother's Day because I wanted one in general, I really did want one. The next day, he swung by Menards after work, and came home with a bag of concrete and an expanding, rotating clothesline, and on his next day off, he put it up. I was sooooo happy...
So now he believes me when I tell him I want a big aluminum mixing bowl for Valentine's Day. Now if only I could get the rest of the WORLD to believe me.
Apparently I'm a freak!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

P.S. on that last post

P.S. All jokes aside -
"Chicagoans think southern Illinois starts at Kankakee"
"I told them I was from downstate and they thought I mean Joliet"
AND the radio reporter whom I actually heard urging listeners to go to the DuPage County Fair (my grandparents live in Wheaton) because "You've got to see these cows, they're bigger than you think..."
I did once ask directions of a Chicago gas station employee. I had gotten off at the wrong exit trying to get home, managed to escape suburb madness back into the city proper, and stopped at a gas station on E. Cicero. I knew where I was, what I didn't know is where I-55 was from there. All I wanted to do was buy a map and ask how to get back to I-55. He asked me where I was going, and I said Springfield - just point me to 55, that's all I need. His first answer boiled down to "can't get there from here" which I knew was bogus. So then he asked where Springfield was. I had a cranky 18-month-old hanging on my arm, and my patience was short - I answered "South."
"Oh, so like, Joliet?" That was as far as the map was unfolded.
I took a deep breath to grasp what shreds of my temper were left. I unfolded the map the rest of the way, to show the lower THREE-FOURTHS of the state. I pointed at Springfield. "No, not Joliet. SOUTH."
His jaw dropped. He stared at the map as if it were a piece of alien technology. And I swear to you by all that is holy, the next words out of his mouth were, "HOW did you get up HERE?"
"Interstate... Fifty... Five."
Stupid people would be so funny, if I didn't have to interact with them.
And that young man can vote...

Justice at Last

The wheels of Justice can move exceedingly slow sometimes in IL - George Ryan, for example. He was in office HOW long ago? And I was certain that in the case of Chicago's Own, a.k.a. The Gubernatorial Flyboy, a.k.a. Rod Blagojevich, he would be loooooong gone by the time anyone moved a finger against him. I mean, it's the Chicago political machine, know what I mean? And we all know how THAT works, puh-lease. Better chance of finding Bin Laden, right? I mean, he got elected not once, but TWICE. I can understand one mistake, but TWICE? After the FIRST four years of flying his lazy backside back and forth from Chicago because he couldn't be bothered to call U-Haul (or didn't think we down-state hicks had indoor plumbing - or like the gas station clerk from whom I once asked directions in Chicago, he didn't have a clue where Springfield WAS or that I-55 goes right there - or maybe he didn't know that Chicago's not the capital - the reasons Springfielders have posited as to why he didn't move here are multitudinous, as have been the jokes on the subject).
nd today, thank you so much, I was proved wrong. There IS justice in the world, even in Chicago. I was walking through Dollar General buying toddler-proof ornaments (the Kittyboy's broken two already), and heard something over the radio about "the governor's arrest". I thought, "What governor? What state?" and blanked on it until the next news break, when the announcer very clearly stated that OUR governor was behind bars. I actually started dancing right there in the store. I couldn't believe it. It was like Christmas morning with a Jag in the driveway. It was AWESOME.
We even watched the press conference at 11, which taught us something very interesting. Our esteemed governor has TWO very bad habits. His first is using his office for personal gain wherever humanly possible. His second is swearing like a sailor. The official running the press conference was reading excerpts from the wire-tap transcripts, and I don't think there was a single quote he was able to repeat in its entirety. "The governor then replied, 'Bleep them, if they won't bleeping do it, I don't bleeping care.'" This is how he routinely spoke to his subordinates, colleagues, and even donors? A governorship, you can buy - class, you can't.
How touching, and right before Christmas, too - one of those heartwarming moments that brings together an entire state, regardless of party affiliation. Well, except for the 13% that still supported him as of the last approval rating I heard - ah heck with them. Party hats and noisemakers for everyone!
Oh, and he's not going to resign, because this is just "politics". Yeah, in Chicago I'm sure it's politics as usual. Orange is going to look SO good on him.

The Holiday Funk

Something about the resin Nativity sets at Wal-Mart just looks wrong to me. Okay, so they're more durable than porcelain - but, well, they have that slightly misshapen look, like dollar-store figurines. And there's that whole overly commercial feeling...
On a side note, I am also creeped out by talking dolls. I saw one a few days ago labeled "newborn" that when you pressed its stomach, said "I wuv you!" Hmmm.... I have seen many a newborn baby, personally raised one to toddlerhood, and in my experience, newborns DON'T TALK. "Exorcist to Aisle 324 please..."
So, somehow, we made it five years of marriage without a Nativity set (manger scene, creche, whatever your term is). We have been putting out the clay Holy Family my husband made in sixth grade. We have a child now, it's time to get a set that has facial features. So, I headed to Wal-Mart with the intent of buying a full set, animals and all, to be our family set.
I thought I got lucky. I found a set that lacked only a camel, was porcelain but didn't look TOO fragile, and fit my small budget. I got it home, and one of the Wise Men was already broken, in the package. I didn't want to take it back - the Wise Man could be fixed, and besides if I took it back, they'd pitch the whole set. But then Kittyboy found the sheep and the donkey, and we realized as they all rubbed against each other being cradled in his arms, that they sounded VERY delicate. And looking again at the cross section of broken Wise Man, the porcelain is very thin. This was a Very Bad Idea. Just falling from the less-than-2-foot height of his arms, those animals could very easily be history.
So now we have a set that has to be out of reach, which makes no one happy - not Kittyboy who wants to hug and kiss and examine the people and animals, and not us, because shelf space was already at a premium in our house. And I WANT a set that can be under the tree and can be loved and examined (with careful supervision) by Kittyboy on the first Christmas where he's been aware of what's going on. It doesn't have to be plastic - but it should be more durable than bone china.
Enter eBay - the world's garage sale.
This is when I discovered how incredibly picky I am about Nativity scenes. I don't like the ones that are kids dressed up in costume - that's just weird somehow. And let's not even mention the Precious Moments ones (shudder). I also don't like the ones that look obviously European. The manger should look more like a feed trough than a bassinet. And I don't understand why you would have all the figures glued in place. A LOT of the sets I looked at, which were perfectly lovely otherwise, were all glued in place. I guess that does keep them from being played with, but it also discourages the kind of creativity that, in my family at least, was always part of Christmas. Our Wise Men, for example, actually spent the time from the beginning of Advent to Epiphany (January 6th) "journeying" through the house. After all, it takes a while to get from Persia to Bethlehem by camel (FYI, it also takes a really long time to get all the way from the attic downstairs to the Christmas tree when you're frozen in a kneeling position and your camel can't stand up - you have to hop, which is quite tiring). The Baby Jesus should be able to be removed from the manger, because He's not there until Christmas (not born yet, silly!). And in an interesting twist, in OUR house, we children would hide Jesus somewhere and Santa would find Him and put Him in the manger after delivering gifts - a reminder of what the real "Gift" was.
I am soooo picky. But I did, at long last, find a set I liked. Already well-loved, which is a plus, and plaster, which while it is breakable, is sturdier than porcelain. It even comes with an angel holding a banner that says "Gloria". The ONLY drawback is that Jesus is firmly stuck in the manger, but I'm willing to forego that part, because no one else is glued down or to anything. And with Kittyboy's affinity for all things doll-like, it may be just as well that Jesus can't be carried off in an affectionate little fist to be lost who-knows-where.
Perusing Wal-Mart's Christmas section (or possessed-doll section) - great way to bring on an un-Christmasy holiday funk. Finding the perfect estate-sale heirloom to adopt - great way to feel better.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

blog problems

I follow more blogs than show up ON my blog - and have more people following mine than show up on my blog. They are all in my dashboard, but don't display on my page. Why is this?
Happy Thanksgiving, by the way!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Something for which to be Thankful

In the United States, this Thursday is Thanksgiving Day. Along with eating lots of turkey (designated "Fish for a Day" if you're following the Advent Fast), mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, lots of food in general, and watching a football game, we're supposed to be thankful for our blessings. For the Pilgrims who first had a harvest feast of thanksgiving, this meant being very, very grateful to God that they were even still alive. For most people nowadays, I think the list of "Things for which to be thankful" tend more towards having family, having friends, and our physical possessions. Health doesn't always make the list, unless you or someone you know has recently recovered from a disease, or dealt with a disability.
I don't know anyone who says, "I am so thankful that I can swallow! I don't have to think about it or anything, I just take a drink and my throat does the rest! Wow!" And so I wanted to share that we have another thing for which to be thankful this Thursday! We had what should be Kittyboy's LAST EVER video swallow study today, and he is totally approved for thin liquids now! He can drink anything he wants without any thickener added whatsoever. He wouldn't cooperate with trying out an open cup, because he was getting hungry and impatient, but Joan, the speech therapist doing the testing, said that's the next step. When he's in a cooperative mood, we can offer him a little medicine cup or little paper cup with something he likes drinking, and let him figure it out on his own.
And we're also thankful that Joan was the SLT on duty at St. John's today, so that she could officially see him off! She was the one who got him started on bottles in the NICU when he was something like three pounds or so. She taught us how to mix and thicken his formula, how to prop him on his side, pace his breathing, watch his color, pound his back when he'd quit breathing, which invariably happened at least once a feeding, and all the complicated things that went into just giving our son a bottle back then. So it was really special that today she got to see him as a big, strong, capable toddler, drinking normal milk through a straw, without needing any accomodations whatsoever.
Add "the ability to swallow safely" to your list of things for which to be thankful. You probably never think about how your tongue, jaw, throat muscles, and epiglottis work together to keep liquid out of your airway and sinuses. You can drink from any bottle, can or jar, without having to put it in a special cup, without having to add anything to make it safer. Next time you're in a store and feel thirsty, be thankful that you can drink from a water fountain as if it's nothing. No one thinks of it, because it's so basic, but every purse I own has at least one packet of thickener in it somewhere, and we always had cups with us, because if we were out somewhere and he was thirsty, we HAD to have something in which to mix, and a straw for him to drink. Water fountains weren't an option. There WERE no options, without thickener and a straw.
At my parents' house, there is a huge container of over-the-counter thickener because on our first Thanksgiving weekend after Kittyboy came home, the unthinkable happened, and we ran out of packets. No thickener, no bottle for the baby.
THAT Thanksgiving, we were thankful for an open Walmart pharmacy that had thickener in stock, because the other option was driving two and a half hours home with him crying to be fed. THIS Thanksgiving, we are thankful that THOSE days are over.
God is good!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Toddler Tantrums, Sleeping, and Sensory Processing

What possesses a child to throw himself down screaming because his mother offered him a snack when he didn't want one? What a TEMPER.
Admittedly, I had just tried to put Kittyboy down for a nap (which I thought he needed, because his temper was a bit over the top), and that hadn't gone well, and it had ended in him screaming nonstop while pounding on his door. THAT means the napping attempt is over. And after that, it had taken 5-10 minutes of holding him very tightly compressed on my lap, folded up sort of, saying, "Calm down. Calm down. Calm down. Calm down. Calm down. Calm down," while the shrieking subsided to sobbing, and then he started trying to catch his breath between sobs, and then there were about equal amounts of sobbing and gasping, and so on. After he seemed pretty much done, I offered him a snack. He then collapsed to the floor and cried nonstop for another ten minutes or so, then on and off for another ten. I thought he was going to cry himself to sleep on the floor, in which case I'd have let him stay there. He didn't. He eventually decided that his tantrum wasn't worth the bother, since it wasn't getting a reaction. But almost half an hour's worth?
And we're supposed to keep in mind that "children with sensory processing issues can be more easily distressed," more violent WHEN distressed, blah blah blah. Holding him all folded up tightly does calm him down, the deep sensory input. But that doesn't mean the tantrum started from something actually bothering him, so much as just His Will Being Contradicted. I do think the sensory issues may make it more difficult for him to calm down after working himself up, but he does also have a Temper to end all Tempers. I wish there were some way to separate the two - to know when it's a tantrum to be ignored versus when he's worked up enough that he needs outside help to get it together again. I think I'll just keep drawing the line at "Is he stopping to breathe or not?"
And then there are still the unhappy wakeups. I may have found ways to mitigate those, OR I may just be grasping at whatever illogical, inconsequential little thing I find, in the manner of throwing virgins down the volcano and thinking that's what keeps the Fire God from obliterating the island. Continuous shhhhing, rubbing back, while not speaking or touching him or covers in any other way - good. Appears to soothe and calm after a few minutes time. Speaking to him, moving him, making eye contact, or rearranging covers in any way - bad. Speaking to him WHILE making eye contact, taking his covers off and sitting him up all at the same time - disaster. I believe this to by why he used to be SO upset sometimes and whatever I did seemed to make it worse, because of course what I would do is pull off his blankets, pick him up, talk to him, etc, exactly how you are supposed to console a baby. Then I noticed one time that eye contact seemed to distress him more, and then another time that taking his blanket off intensified the crying. So now I've got this list, should he ever take a nap while being babysat and wake up crying - say nothing apart from shushing, and that as rhythmically and soothingly as possible, rub back the same way, don't touch him otherwise even if he's laying awkwardly, don't move blankets, and if he's facing you, don't LOOK at him. And basically, wait for him to stop crying. start moving around, and get up from the bed on his own timetable. There is a sort of logic, taking into account that trouble with sensory processing can make waking up distressing, that perhaps limiting any change or input other than that which is necessary to let him know he is safe really is the way to go. But it's so counter-intuitive!
So the temper and tantrums are worse - the waking up is starting to go more smoothly - I don't know that that's a satisfactory trade-off, but such is the state of things.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

"EU decides it has better things to do than ban unattractive produce"

Or at least, that's how the headline SHOULD read. This article is so funny.
I had no idea - did anyone else? - that there are guidelines governing what produce can look like. I just figured the companies growing the food had some special way of regulating how their produce looked - like how apples from the "organic" section might have a bee-sting or two, but you're supposed to wash off ones that AREN'T organic before eating them. I just figured it was one of those trade-offs. I had no idea that in Europe at least, 20% of produce was just thrown away for being funny shaped or the wrong shade of green. Throwing away perfectly good carrots because they grew goofy. That's just beyond me.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Knitting, Crocheting... and Toddlers

I am showing my son, not yet two years old, to crochet and knit on a loom. Just hand-over-hand, we do a stitch and then he celebrates by jumping up and down and running off to do something else. And yes, there is a method to my madness.
I read an article in Guideposts Magazine about Ty Pennington, the guy who does Extreme Makeover Home Edition, where he talked about having severe ADHD and how he coped with it. Apparently the frenetic, hyperactive personality I see in the ads for the show (I've never actually watched it) is HIM. He is like that ALL THE TIME. That's just the way he is. As you can imagine, he ran his mother ragged. One day she sent him outside to run around, and he decided he was going to build a treehouse. But not just ANY treehouse, it was going to be the biggest and bestest treehouse EVER!! And he actually did, at the age of ten or twelve or so, both design and BUILD a very complex treehouse, when no one thought he had the focus or ability to do it.
I personally love to have something in my hands at all times. Watching television, visiting family, sitting at Bible Study, I crochet. Or now that I have a knitting loom, knit. And I've often wondered how different classrooms would be if instead of medicating children who won't/can't sit still, the teacher gave them a ball of string and a crochet hook. Cheaper, much more constructive, teaches a skill, no side effects. I really do believe that a LOT of children simply need to move, and 100 years ago when they were running outside and climbing trees during recess, this was not so much a problem. No one started talking about ADHD, SPD, all of that, until the 70s. Part of that is, they didn't have names for them - you just couldn't sit still, or you were just eccentric. But part of it also is that kids with a Need To Move got to MOVE. Now they have less recess, less gym, sometimes NO gym in the higher grades. No wonder Sammy just can't sit still. I wish I had video of Kittyboy in church with no trampoline, swing, etc beforehand, and in church when he's gotten plenty of movement already. Different kid.
Well, I got a knitting loom last night, and was playing around with it this morning. I dropped a stitch, so I took it all off, and Kittyboy sat down to play with the loom. But instead of just waving it around or running his fingers between the pegs, he put it upright in his lap, draped yarn over it, moved the yarn around a little, and then poked at it with the hook. Then he moved the yarn around some more, then poked it with the hook again. What the heck - why not! You can teach any simple thing if you do it enough with their hands in yours!
I'm going to get him his own crochet hook, K size or bigger, and a tiny little loom with maybe six pegs or so and a plastic hook for that. Then, instead of having to keep him off of me when I'm working, he can just take a turn on his own "project". And it only takes a stitch or two before his desire to "help" is satisfied, and he goes off to do something else.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

UIS Sustainability Forum

Leave it to college students to be struggling with the task of defining what it means to "live within your means". That was funny. They actually may not have heard the phrase before. Um.... it means actually saving up for that iPod, laptop, etc. instead of putting it on the credit card!
Okay, #1 - no one, apparently, understands how capitalism WORKS. It does work. It is quite simply the exchange of money for goods and services. There is nothing inherently wrong with profit. It's how people make a living. If someone has a business selling clothing, and sells it for simply the cost of the fabric, thread, etc, then they have no way to keep their business afloat, let alone feed, clothe, and house themselves and their family. There has to be a profit, or they go out of business. Capitalism is not evil, any more than a knife or gun. A gun can be used in a drive-by or to take what isn't yours, or used for self-protection and obtaining food. A gun is an instrument. Capitalism is a system. Nothing more.
#2, It does no good to complain about business practices you think are wrong, if you also think that "Oh, no one can do anything, I can't do anything, it's just the way things are." Capitalism runs on money! OUR money! And WE decide, not anyone else, where our money goes. I vote with my pocketbook every time I see a commercial that rubs me the wrong way and decide that I'm not buying that product (I've done that for about as long as I've been watching commercials). If money runs the economy, which it does, then YOUR money is YOUR power. I am exercising my power as a consumer every time I go to Food Fantasies (tiny little health-food store), Country Market (tiny little local grocery), or the Farmer's Market in the summer, instead of going to a chain grocery, because when I can afford it, which is not always, I ask myself what business actually needs my money. It really is as simple as that. CAPITALISM WORKS! Just ask Kmart. I forget how long ago, I believe it was during my lifetime, they invested in companies connected to pornography. THEY CLOSED STORES because people boycotted. They lost a LOT of money. Capitalism works.
And my gosh, the next person who whines, "Oh, but people won't do this, and people won't do that, and wah wah wah, no one's doing anything," needs a boot to the head. WE are people. YOU are people. One student stood up and asked, rhetorically I believe, "Who here has actually grown their own food?" like that's just unimaginable. Don and I both raised our hands! My garden was not terribly successful this year, but it will be next year. Don and Carey's garden is HUGE, their entire pantry is full of jars. And making our own clothes is another thing that was mentioned as if it were unthinkable. The clothes I've made myself might not be all that well-designed, but if I have to, I can. Skirts are easiest, but I've made shirts. And I'M people! One person doesn't change much, but NO people change NOTHING. I mean, DUH! Change is brought about by one person - plus one person - plus one person - and so on and so forth. It's not about the government having to legislate anything (a government of which we all are constituents), it's about one person and one person and one person times thousands just deciding to live differently.
I've never felt like such an optimist! And I'm NOT an optimist by nature, but I am by contrast to most of the students there.
It was very funny, that at the end of the forum, after Don getting up and talking about Food Not Lawns and pointing out (in a room full of mainly dorm-dwellers) that we're working on putting together people who have land with people who don't (Bill and his square of beans in our yard), we gave away exactly three pamphlets. One went to a faculty member. One guy did stop and talk to us, though, about edible weeds, so that was cool. Hopefully we see him again! After all, that's one person...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Best of Times - The Worst of Times

The happy thing first - I've been taking surveys on MySurvey.com, and about a month ago, one of them asked whether I'd be interested in testing a new product. I said sure, then forgot about it completely. Well, yesterday afternoon, what should show up at my door but a package of diapers! Free diapers always make my day!
But now the sad thing. Husband's schedule this last week has been 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Now, I thought the 8:30-5:30 one week and noon-9 the next, back and forth, was bad enough, because sometimes he was home when Kittyboy went to sleep and sometimes he wasn't. Well, there's something worse, and that's having Daddy already gone when he wakes up. We have this tradition, that I didn't realize was REALLY a tradition until this morning, of him cuddling in bed with us when he wakes up. Monday and yesterday, he was okay with he and I just getting up and starting the day, but this morning he decided enough was enough. He pounded on his door, and when I went to let him out, he ran right over to ours and stood waiting. I opened our door, and he fairly RAN over to our bed. Of course, the covers were all heaped up on the other side of the bed, and he scrambled up and pointed! It must be Daddy! And he crawled right over to the blankets and started throwing them every which way, while I was telling him that Daddy was already at work, and wasn't in bed...
After all the blankets were gone, he sat where his daddy should have been, with the saddest look on his face. Then he looked under the pillows, and when Daddy wasn't even hiding THERE, I thought he was going to cry! I thought we BOTH were going to cry! He wasn't tearing up, but he made the most heartbreaking sounds of disappointment you've ever heard.
And we have two more days of this schedule yet to go.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Day for Veterans

My favorite poet for most subjects is Robert Service. He has such an abundance of poems on the subjects of war, soldiers, veterans, and "duty to country in war" (Wikipedia) that it's hard to choose the best, but these two are my favorites.
The Bard of the Yukon, on Veteran's Day.

Victory Stuff
Robert Service
What d’ye think, lad; what d’ye think,
As the roaring crowds go by?
As the banners flare and the brasses blare
And the great guns rend the sky?
As the women laugh like they’d all gone mad,
And the champagne glasses clink:
Oh, you’re grippin’ me hand so tightly, lad,
I’m a-wonderin’: what d’ye think?
D’ye think o’ the boys we used to know,
And how they’d have topped the fun?
Tom and Charlie, and Jack and Joe—
Gone now, every one.
How they’d have cheered as the joy-bells chime,
And they grabbed each girl for a kiss!
And now—they’re rottin’ in Flanders slime,
And they gave their lives—for this.
Or else d’ye think of the many a time
We wished we too was dead,
Up to our knees in the freezin’ grime,
With the fires of hell overhead;
When the youth and the strength of us sapped away,
And we cursed in our rage and pain?
And yet—we haven’t a word to say. . . .
We’re glad. We’d do it again.
I’m scared that they pity us. Come, old boy,
Let’s leave them their flags and their fuss.
We’d surely be hatin’ to spoil their joy
With the sight of such wrecks as us.
Let’s slip away quietly, you and me,
And we’ll talk of our chums out there:
You with your eyes that’ll never see,
Me that’s wheeled in a chair.

The March Of The Dead
Robert Service
The cruel war was over—oh, the triumph was so sweet!
We watched the troops returning, through our tears;
There was triumph, triumph, triumph down the scarlet glittering street,
And you scarce could hear the music for the cheers.
And you scarce could see the house-tops for the flags that flew between;
The bells were pealing madly to the sky;
And everyone was shouting for the Soldiers of the Queen,
And the glory of an age was passing by.
And then there came a shadow, swift and sudden, dark and drear;
The bells were silent, not an echo stirred.
The flags were drooping sullenly, the men forgot to cheer;
We waited, and we never spoke a word.
The sky grew darker, darker, till from out the gloomy rack
There came a voice that checked the heart with dread:
“Tear down, tear down your bunting now, and hang up sable black;
They are coming—it’s the Army of the Dead.”
They were coming, they were coming, gaunt and ghastly, sad and slow;
They were coming, all the crimson wrecks of pride;
With faces seared, and cheeks red smeared, and haunting eyes of woe,
And clotted holes the khaki couldn’t hide.
Oh, the clammy brow of anguish! the livid, foam-flecked lips!
The reeling ranks of ruin swept along!
The limb that trailed, the hand that failed, the bloody finger tips!
And oh, the dreary rhythm of their song!
“They left us on the veldt-side, but we felt we couldn’t stop
On this, our England’s crowning festal day;
We’re the men of Magersfontein, we’re the men of Spion Kop,
Colenso—we’re the men who had to pay.
We’re the men who paid the blood-price. Shall the grave be all our gain?
You owe us. Long and heavy is the score.
Then cheer us for our glory now, and cheer us for our pain,
And cheer us as ye never cheered before.”
The folks were white and stricken, and each tongue seemed weighted with lead;
Each heart was clutched in hollow hand of ice;
And every eye was staring at the horror of the dead,
The pity of the men who paid the price.
They were come, were come to mock us, in the first flush of our peace;
Through writhing lips their teeth were all agleam;
They were coming in their thousands—oh, would they never cease!
I closed my eyes, and then—it was a dream.
There was triumph, triumph, triumph down the scarlet gleaming street;
The town was mad; a man was like a boy.
A thousand flags were flaming where the sky and city meet;
A thousand bells were thundering the joy.
There was music, mirth and sunshine; but some eyes shone with regret;
And while we stun with cheers our homing braves,
O God, in Thy great mercy, let us nevermore forget
The graves they left behind, the bitter graves.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Monday Morning Musings

I have a lovely, happy pink geranium in my window now, to the right of the computer monitor. I made a plant hanger and had a nail put in the window frame for it and everything, because while it's true my big window with shelves is pretty well taken up, the family room window does have room to hang things. And this is a very pretty plant. Apparently the reason my last one died is that they NEED sun, and my last one was on a shelf across the room. And I was warned by its Freecycling former owner that they do die back somewhat during winter, but come back in force in the spring. I must say, it is pleasant and relaxing to look up from the computer and see growing things - my geranium has two big blooms and many more buds to open, an ivy that was sorely neglected is perking up with sun and water (amazing what a difference those two make!), aloe is thriving on sun and NO water, and the crown-of-thorns is blooming with tiny red flowers like miniature poppies. And those are all framing the monitor - philodendrony things and a jade plant are on the other side of the room.
Regardless of the state of my house, my plants are happy!
Terri-the-Feeding-therapist has given her blessing to try Kittyboy with straight water - as in, turn on the tap, hand him the cup. Exciting and thrilling, and brings to my mind visions of a thickener-less future. Once upon a time, we would just drop a whole box of a hundred or so packets in our trunk when we went on a trip, because to pack too few would have been a true emergency. Out of thickener, baby can't drink - period. The trip this past weekend, by contrast, I think I tossed maybe 8 packets in the diaper bag, because we've been using one for not ever four ounces, as it used to be, but every sixteen, and if I had run out, he could have drank anything carbonated without a problem. The carbonation "wakes up" his mouth and throat. Next week when Terri comes for her November visit, I anticipate we'll be talking swallow study. A swallow study, also called a video swallow, is where they put him in a special high chair in front of an x-ray machine, and take x-ray video of him swallowing liquids with barium in them. The barium shows up on the x-ray, and they can watch where it goes, and see if it leaks into his airway even temorarily in the process of swallowing. That's his whole problem, that his epiglottis hadn't been protecting his airway fast enough. I'm really, really confident that the next swallow study (before Christmas, please?) will give us the green light to quit thickening permenantly. Maybe not to let him use a regular sippy cup (the head-down position he has when drinking through a straw helps protect his airway), but no thickener at all would be a happy Christmas present.
I have three projects in the works for my Etsy store. This afternoon I'm going to have Husband busy taking pictures of what's completed so that I can post them. I've crocheted several pot-holders and have two scarves and another pot-holder in progress. My only problem is convincing myself that they're good enough to actually be SOLD. I get compliments aplenty from friends and family, but what will a stranger think?
I love my Pandora station. I started it with Flogging Molly's "Drunken Lullabies", got wonderful Celtic punk music for a while, then started getting some wussly stuff. Not a fan of the Irish Rovers. They're okay sometimes, but not to follow Dropkick Murphys. It was musical whiplash. I added Metallica's "Whiskey in the Jar" and Twisted Sister's "We're Not Gonna Take It" and then Pandora got the right idea. That station doesn't take much tweaking. My bluegrass station, on the other hand (bluegrass NOT COUNTRY), is almost more trouble than it's worth. The really corny stuff, I don't like. The slow sad stuff, I don't like. I thumbs-upped one acapella gospel song and got inundated with Dolly Parton, all of which I gave thumbs down, and now it's very confused. It doesn't know WHAT I want. Listing songs from the "O Brother Where Art Thou" soundtrack helped somewhat but not entirely. I need to find the soundtrack and list as seed groups the people who did the songs I like, because apparently a lot of the songs in it are bluegrass/folk standards. At least half a dozen people have recorded "Man of Constant Sorrow"!
Ah well, I should start on lunch. Kittyboy won't nap forever. And a hungry toddler is not a happy toddler.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A New Sign

This morning in church, I got a humbling, amazing, wonderful surprise. We have been helping our son, hand over hand, to make the sign of the cross since the day he came home from the hospital (literally, because there was a church service we went to the evening of the day he came home). He's gotten to where he will lift his hand to his head if you tell him to cross himself, but nothing further, and of course you don't expect someone not yet two to know when to do that during the service WITHOUT prompting.
This morning, however, when Father said "Thoxa Patri ke Io ke Ayiou Pnevmati" (Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, in Greek) Kittyboy immediately looked up from his book and moved his hand from his forehead to his waist, twice. He did it again the next time. And the next. And for even more shock value, he did it when Father said that in English, too. He even did it a couple times at other points where you're supposed to cross yourself that aren't as obvious - the benefit of a service that repeats things again and again. So he IS already aware somewhat of the pattern of what happens when. Father says this, this, and this, and then we do THIS.
On the one hand, he's been in church almost every Sunday since he was three months old, and of course the basic service never changes - on the other hand, he's not yet two. NOT - YET - TWO.
So not only does he have the up-down part covered, he knows when we do it! All we have to teach him now is the right-left. It IS a rather complicated sign when most baby-signs are one motion.
What a very aware little boy we have. This is the latest in a long list of things inspiring awe and gratitude:
He couldn't drink without thickener when he came home, but has taken Communion all this time without any issues whatsoever.
Church was the first place he slept happily and without trouble - and sometimes even without weight on top of him.
Church was the first place he would be quietly and calmly awake (when he first came home, THE ONLY place - many Sundays I wanted to move into the basement).
It was also the first place he signed something spontaneously - "More".
And icons are his friends. He waves hello at them.
Sometime last year, a visiting priest's wife complimented me on how quiet my baby was in church. Without going into details about how NOT-quiet and UN-calm he was at home, I just said that church was always where he was most relaxed, and she said without hesitation, "That is because he feels the angels!"
Never underestimate the ability of children to comprehend, experience and appreciate that which is unseen. They know far more than we do.

Of Sleepovers and Train Rides

We had a loooong weekend - and it started Thursday!
Thursday, Husband drove us to Bartonville for my mom to pick us up and take us back to my parents' house. Kittyboy, car seat, play pen for sleeping, and stuff for a three-day visit. We would be at their house Thursday, leave on the train Friday for the suburbs to visit cousins and come back that night, and then Saturday Husband would drive up to bring us back. LONG weekend.
Went well, of course - my sister and brother, Auntie K and Uncle S, were thrilled to see their little nephew. And he was thrilled to have his entourage following him from room to room! All went well until it came time to sleep - it took him some time crying first. To be expected, it's a different place, different bed, and no daddy. But then at 10:30, he woke up again - wide awake! NOT going back to sleep! He ran laps of the dining room, he rocked in the rocking chair, he ran some more laps. I took him into MY bed, he would sit quietly until it became apparent that I wasn't going to amuse him, and then he got down to play again. This lasted about an hour before I got the idea of making him his own bed on the floor - he hadn't slept in the playpen since he was still in his crib, so maybe that was part of the problem. Mommy, that's not my bed! I'm a BIG boy! So I folded up blankets and sleeping bags, made a bed, and wrapped him up in a sheet like he's used to. This was followed by crying from him and shushing from me and my mom, and by about midnight, he was asleep enough that she could leave the room and I could lay down. What a night.
The next morning, we got on a train for our First Train Ride Ever. He's barely even SEEN trains, but for one time a month and a half ago that we were at my parents' house (they live two blocks from tracks) and a train went by. Uncle Yan and I pointed at it and signed Train again and again until Kittyboy did it too. But since then, I hadn't talked much about trains or the fact that we'd be riding on one, and the couple trains we'd seen since had been when we were in the car and I couldn't sign. So Friday morning, we were in the train as it was pulling away, and I said "Look, the train's moving now!" and he signed Train!!! He HAD put it together! The thing we were in was the same as the long, slow freight he'd watched a month and a half prior. He is so smart! And he was a very good traveler. I had overpacked my two bags and next time, I know I don't need as much. Just a couple books and his clunky wooden rosary around his neck. He finally has his own children's rosary - mine has been VERY well-loved, and now can be restrung and put up. I surprised him with his on the train, and he was very happy with how bright the colors are! (It hasn't been rained on or sun-bleached... yet). So he had a bright new version of one of his favorite security objects, and very fast scenery going by outside, and "Hop On Pop" to be read over and over and over and over, and that was pretty much all we needed!
My grandparents picked us up, and we had a wonderful visit. His cousins were very happy to see him, and I got to snuggle his cousin JT, who is just 11 months old and SOO precious. He and Kittyboy got along okay, minus some tugs-of-war over that bright and colorful rosary (I think Kittyboy will get him one for Christmas), and so long as I was not physically holding JT. That was Verboten, by order of Kittyboy. We'll be spending a LOT of time with younger babies, and me holding younger babies in his presence, before we have another. The first time I was holding JT in my lap on the floor, my son came up making distressed noises, grabbed his cousin by his shoulders and head, and tried to pull him out of my lap! I told him no and made him let go, and he grabbed my arms to try and pull ME away. It ended up with JT in his mommy's lap crying, and Kittyboy in mine making distressed noises every time his cousin cried. He didn't MEAN to make the baby cry, but I am HIS mommy after all, and it just wasn't fair for me to hold another baby, and couldn't JT understand that?! - is what he was thinking. It was sad. Apparently Kittyboy is quite jealous, and we'll have to work on that. He had a blast, though, watching his girl cousins run around and around and around from the kitchen to the hallway to the livingroom and back. First he was chasing them, then they were chasing him, then he decided they were just too silly for him and came and sat down with me to watch them. It was absolutely hysterical, because he would hear their voices coming closer and fall over laughing before they even came into the room. Their mother and I were laughing so hard, I was crying. It was a blast. When we were leaving, I picked up JT for a goodbye hug, Kittyboy saw that from across the room, and came trotting over making distressed noises again. I gave JT to his mommy and cuddled my boy, and told him that HE is my little boy and nothing changes that, but Mommy can hold other babies too! We've got our work cut out for us before we have another.
He zonked out in my grandparents' car on the way to the train station, and slept from there until our stop. Close to thirty pounds of dead weight on me for an hour and a half. My legs were sore - my back was aching - my arms were DEAD. But at least he slept well that night.
Saturday morning after breakfast, he grabbed his coat, handed it to me, and went to look out the window, so we thought he wanted to go out and play. After the whole long, involved process of getting him ready, his uncle took him out and they came back in again shortly after. All they had done was walk around the car while Kittyboy pulled at the door handles. Methinks he was requesting to go home! He communicates very, very well for not talking. (And his babbling sounds more varied and conversational every day.)
He was sooooooo happy when his daddy came through the door! And this morning, SO happy to wake in his own bed!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Washing Hair Without Shampoo!!

I read about this online, tried it, and now have a lot of shampoo to get rid of!!! It's, like, the one thing that's gone right this week.
You remember those papermache volcanos everyone makes in gradeschool, with the baking soda and vinegar? I bet you didn't know you were concocting a solution with which to wash hair.
The recipe, roughly, is about a tablespoon each of soda and vinegar, let the bubbles die down, add a cup of really warm water from your shower, and pour it on your head, treating it like shampoo. Obviously, you use more than a tablespoon if you have hair like mine. Rinse it out, then pour vinegar over your hair, down to the ends. That's the conditioner.
The idea is that the baking soda/vinegar mixture lifts off dirt, without messing with your scalp's natural oil. The acidity in the vinegar conditioner then seals the hair, helping to fight split ends.
My hair is both my vanity and my enemy. I only wash it once a week, because it takes half a week for it to not be a gigantic mess. About the time it looks and feels like hair, it's time to wash again. Doesn't matter what shampoo I use, anytime I'm getting ready for a special event or something where I want my hair to look NICE, I plan on washing it about three days beforehand. I joked quite regularly about shaving it - one day, the ONLY reason I didn't is that when I had chicken pox, my mom warned me repeatedly that if I scratched, I would have pock marks, so I restricted my scratching to my scalp, because my hair is more than thick enough that no one will ever see. I can only imagine the moonscape that would be uncovered if I shaved it off. I love having my hair long, I love braiding it and stuff, but out of braids it's a mess. Ordinarily, it's either really dry, or heavy and oily. Either way, it's not good. And I have had dandruff since hitting puberty - not the little flakes that fall out, the big thick flaking discs that cling in the hair and won't move.
So last Saturday, I took the soda-vinegar plunge. Risky, I know, because Sunday morning I have to beat it into submission for church. To my astonishment, Sunday morning my hair was... hair. It was brushable, it laid down nicely, I spent the whole day just running my fingers through it, flipping it around, having the time of my life with the fact that this thick, matted mane was behaving. I have had "good hair days" since!!! No more shampoo for me!!! I don't even have the dandruff I used to, I brushed out a bunch of the tiny little flakes Sunday afternoon and now have nothing. Apparently the presence of ANY flakes means that for my scalp, I need to have more vinegar than soda in the mixture, because everyone's pH is different and if the mix is too alkaline, you can have flakes - but if it's just the tiny stuff I can brush out the next day, that's pretty much NOTHING considering what I've put up with for so many years now.
I am SOOOO loving my hair now! EVERYONE should try this, seriously. Do it!!

On Race and Politics

Mr. President-Elect - we seriously do not care what color you are. We didn't vote against you because you're "black" (which you're not, you're biracial), we voted against you because we disagreed with you. Give us the dignity of being citizens who honestly and seriously disagree with your politics, rather than writing us off as racist rednecks who voted "white". We didn't vote white. We voted Republican. It was not a racial victory. It was a Democratic victory.
If you want to actually act presidential, start by getting over your melanin.

Counting Blessings

1. The United States Presidency carries a limit of two terms. (The Governor's office, in Illinois, has no such luck.)
2. Not even Clinton could screw up TOO badly (then again, he was easily distracted...)
3. OBAMA DID NOT WIN BY A LANDSLIDE. He got a landslide of the electoral college, but take it from someone stuck in the People's Republic of Chicago - in real terms, than means nothing. If he is as intelligent as everyone believes him to be, he will humbly take that into account and bear in mind the 46% of people he has to win over. Not 27% - that's the electoral college. I'm talking people who actually voted at polling places.
5. I can say I voted my conscience. Thanks to Illinois, my vote was NOT meaningful, but at least I did not vote for someone whose beliefs personally sicken me.
6. For the most part, we can safely ignore him and keep living our lives as we see fit. My friend Carey's Election Day post was reassuring. We may disagree on whether there ARE differences between the candidates, but she reminded me that whatever happens, we can keep making a difference. We can keep working in our own communities to create the world we want to live in - no matter WHO is in office. Thank you, Carey!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Have you thanked your election judge today?

I baked brownies for ours! It's become a tradition, I always take them something. After all, they're right across the street, they have to be up REALLY early, and they've got to spend most of the day bored out of their minds.
This morning, there was a whole row of signs at the hundred-foot mark, which there always is, because that's kind of standard. This afternoon, after we got our free Starbucks coffee for voting, all the signs were down. I thought it was weird for someone to take them when there were still a few hours left, then I saw them in the ditch. All of them. Rather ticked me off, because someone went to all the trouble of putting them up, and someone else had childishly thrown them in the ditch. So I went and grabbed out one of everybody who was running for anything, and started putting them back up on the other side of the road. It's the principle of the thing! I had them far enough over, I KNEW it had to be over a hundred feet away, and I thought the prankster might be slightly more reluctant to grab them off of what would look like private property. Then a neighbor came out to tell me she thought the minister, of all people, was the one who threw them in the ditch. I asked, didn't all the signs pretty much go with the territory of being a polling place, and she said yes! They ARE supposed to be there! So I just scooted them all over far enough they WERE on our property and not the church's, so if it was the minister, he couldn't complain. This lady even knew who all the people were, which I didn't. One guy, I forget who, his dad used to be the mayor way back when. Another one is running for office from Iraq (Recorder or Clerk or something). Pretty cool.
We're not watching a THING this evening except epidodes of TV shows we've saved up for just this night. I'll find out who won in the morning.
I dream of one day living in a world where my vote really DOES count... But for that, we would have to get rid of the electoral college system. Until then, living in the Grand Ol' PRC (People's Republic of Chicago), my vote means jack squat. But hey, I can dream.

So, I've voted!

I want a Sarahcuda t-shirt!
I also put up signs in my yard (we're right across from our polling place), because MY candidates had no signs whatsoever among the many, many other signs along the drive. For that matter, there were no signs for EITHER presidential candidate. Next year, I'm just going to assume that my favorites are under-endorsed and have signs ready the night before. Posterboard, Sharpies, and tomato stakes from my garden!

I pick my battles, because really, everything's fixable. The economy can be fixed - we've weathered worse. The environment can be fixed - even the Exxon Valdez spill was cleaned up with enough time and effort. Corrupt politicians come and go - even Blagojovich has to leave office eventually (he'll probably quit once the state's too broke to pay him).
Only thing that's not fixable is death. That can't be reversed. Forget the fact that Obama thinks anyone who is religious or hunts is just a bitter, misinformed hick (yup, I'm a bitter, misinformed hick!). He doesn't even think a baby alive outside the womb deserves to live if the mother's original INTENT was to abort it. Asked when he thought life began, he said he's not paid enough to decide that - so I guess he errs on the side of infanticide. Better dead than alive and inconveniancing someone.
So remind me why it is I can't kill people who inconvenience ME? I mean, apart from the whole "murder being wrong" thing.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

His First Nosebleed

This morning was an adventure. First, we decided that rather than change our clocks, we would just go to Orthros, the first service, in addition to the Liturgy which is all we've made it to since Kittyboy came home. This WAS on purpose, because Fr. Anthony also (just this week) changed Orthros from 9 to 9:30, and Liturgy from 10 to 10:30, so we figured this was a good time to start going to Orthros again - this morning, our unchanged clocks said we had an extra half hour, and next week we'll be striving to get out the door only half an hour earlier than we have been for the past 9 months or so.
It does mean twice as much sitting quietly for Kittyboy though. That might not have been too much of a problem except that his internal clock had NOT changed, and so half an hour into the Liturgy, he thought it was nap-time, and was very cranky. I had the "bright" idea of taking the cranky (because he was SLEEPY) toddler outside to run around. We should not run when sleepy. We stumble and trip. And the toddler took a dive and a little skid on his nose and upper lip.
It was VERY UNHAPPY. He'd scraped his nose, peeled some skin off his lip, and shortly afterwards got his first ever nosebleed. AND he was bleeding from inside his mouth. VERY UNHAPPY.
I wasted a good bit of time trying to staunch the flow, except that he wanted nothing near his injured nose and mouth. He wanted his head back, I wanted it forward to keep the blood out of his sinuses, throat, etc. Husband and another acolyte came down to find out what was wrong. It was very dramatic, blood all down my sleeve and arm, many bloodied napkins, child screaming. I gave up on cleaning and keeping his head down because it was just making him more upset, and I figured the longer he was worked up, the longer he'd keep bleeding. Amazingly there is no blood on his clothing, or my skirt, only my shirt which was kind of blood-colored to begin with, so it shouldn't show, and we even managed to avoid staining his daddy's robe. We cleaned his face off the rest of the way once he'd been happy for a while and it had all dried. He looks like a boxer now - his nose is red all the way up to the bridge, and his lip is swollen. On our way to our car, Husband could follow our blood-trail to where the fall happened.
Kittyboy, Sidewalk Warrior!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I am a threat to Beijing!!

How cool is this - I downloaded a Firefox add-on called "Great Firewall of China", and here is a screenshot of me not being able to access my blog while using it.

The add-on reroutes your internet access through a server in mainland China, so you can experience the Chinese government's take on the World Wide Web firsthand. I haven't tried researching melamine yet.
I want that screen shot on a t-shirt!

Brand-New Spectacles!!!

So I finally, after three and a half years, have seen an eye doctor. We have a new one who actually specializes in stuff like cataracts, and I happen to have a cataract that hadn't been looked at in... three and a half years.
It was so funny. Getting the prescription for my right eye was easy. Then he went to my left, and it was seeing double! Took lots of "Which is better, 1 or 2?" before it wasn't seeing double, then several more lenses to get it as good as it WOULD get, which wasn't great. That one's no longer fully correctable. And now I know why - cataracts are supposed to grow from the edge inward, but mine didn't get that memo. It's growing from the center of the lens, outward, so it's already right there in my pupil and already messing up my vision.
Hmmm... not driving at night anymore.
Surgery? Sooner rather than later. We're to think about it and prepare for it as an eventual necessity, because I could have thirty years to think about it or I could have three. Cataracts in young people are unpredictable that way. So just, sometime in probably the next five years.
We thought, when we picked this place, that it'd just be good to have an optometrist specializing in vision problems IN CASE I need surgery one day. We didn't know that seeing a specialist really does get different results than walking into the Optical Center at Sam's Club. Not that they don't do good work there - but if you HAVE a vision problem beyond just needing glasses, you should be getting examined by someone who can tell you what you need to do about it. Didn't know that! For example, I'd been told before at Sam's, that the problems I had were caused by the cataracts, and so changing my prescription at that time wouldn't fix anything. There was nothing else glasses could do. Well, that's not entirely accurate. There are lenses and frames, and then there are lenses and frames. Anti-glare lenses, and frames that are not my boxy square ones. The cute, narrow, rectangular frames that were all the rage about four years ago? Fine if you don't have that bad of a prescription, but the more you need glasses, the rounder your lenses should ideally be. And smaller is better. Why, I forgot to ask.
So this morning I ordered new glasses, which should be here in a week. I have small, oval lenses, a cinnamon-colored frame, and the man fitting them pointed out that the doctor had actually underlined "anti-glare" THREE TIMES on the prescription, which was funny. They're going to be a polycarbonate stuff for "aesthetic reasons, to not be so thick" which kind of makes me want to see just what sort of coke-bottle lenses I'd be getting otherwise. :)
And I'm to give my eyes a couple weeks to get used to them. Apparently, my eyes and my old prescription are so unbalanced, the new glasses are going to feel like THEY'RE unbalanced!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Racing the Cold

I spent this afternoon feeling like a pioneer woman in the face of an oncoming blizzard - harvesting and hauling plants inside, because tonight it will get down below freezing. 50 mph winds added to the sense of urgency. We moved another set of shelves in front of the biggest (and hottest) window, and that window has 2 massive tomatillo plants in 5gal buckets, a pot of basil, four tomato plants, and one tomato plant that's hanging. Our crown-of-thorns is in a yet-bigger pot, a masive pot of aloe is on a bookshelf, an ivy and a wandering-jew are on another bookshelf, a German ivy and unidentified philodendrony thing in the kitchen window, two aloes, a kalanchoe, and a pot of ferns in the bathroom, three more philodendrony things and a jade plant in the family room.
We will have VERY clean air this winter.
Almost everything had to be repotted. I am now to the point of "if it doesn't produce something, I might not have room for it." Basil, tomatoes, and tomatillos produce. Aloe produces. Anything else may become expendable, especially if it requires sun. You should have seen the front room, full of pots and plants and shelves, with me sorting "needs sun - doesn't - needs sun - doesn't." Three philodendrony things are posted on Freecycle, and an aloe and the kalanchoe are going to my mom. Another aloe is going to a friend in exchange for lemon balm and catnip. This is necessary because philodendrony thing started as one plant and is now four (got divided AND repotted), aloe started as two pots and is now three, and I'm going to be planting some cherry tomatoes shortly and will need the space. Speaking of cherry tomatoes - anyone know where I could get a CHEAP grow-light? Because propping up our fish-tank's light this spring got to be a hassle. There's got to be something easier.
I'm beat! Goodnight!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Of humanhood and fishies

In a rare moment of oversight by my husband, this one relative (by marriage only) and I were left unsupervised at a recent family gathering. This man and I are gasoline and kerosene, with politics of any sort being a lit match. But nonetheless, shortly after McCain's pick for VP was announced, he and I were left to our own devices for a period of time.
His mistake first - he asked what I thought of Sarah Palin. He had to already know my answer (we are polar opposites), so I said quite bluntly that "Hey, she's not into killing babies, she gets my vote." He said he didn't like abortion either, so I asked why he routinely votes for candidates in favor of it. All issues being equal, of course you can pick and choose, but when one of the issues is what you firmly believe to be MURDER, well, that's a little more important, and they haven't yet changed the voting age to "12 weeks gestation". So we went back and forth and I got him down to "only in cases of rape, incest, or something wrong with the baby." I decided to ignore the obvious eugenics implications of "something wrong", and asked him if in the case of rape or incest, you are punishing the child for the actions of the father. He couldn't see how I could think that at all, so I asked, "Is it human or not?" and got the answer of "well, after a point..."
I should point out that I was trying, very hard, to remain calm, unemotional, impersonal, and above all, CIVIL. But some shots just beg to be taken. I asked the obvious - "So at what point was Kittyboy a fish?"
He didn't have an answer. Gee, I thought it was a simple enough question. When - was - that - boy - a - fish? Hello? What was that? Can't hear you...
Fortunately Husband returned before things got REALLY personal.
Little review here - "Kittyboy", as my son is referred to, is coming up on two years old. According to the "well, after a point it's human" people, he was not human when he was born. They base their cut-off at the start of the 3rd trimester (27th week). The official records have him born at 28 weeks and 5 days, based on my estimated due date, but due dates are pretty much guesses and can be off by as much as two weeks either way, which is why a 38 week baby is still considered full-term. Ultrasounds also measure a baby's age in the womb, and the later in the pregnancy, the more accurate they are. Ultrasounds in the month before he was born had him maybe a week behind. The one done on the afternoon before he was born, less than 24 hours from birth, did not say 28 or 29 weeks. It didn't say 27 weeks. It said 26. That's not third trimester. That's the last week of the second. That's abortable.Awww, what a CUTE widdle fishie! Yes he is! He's just the cutest widdle fishie ever! Mommy's widdle pwecious icthyoid!
And the earliest preemie to survive? Just under 22 weeks. That's right, 22. She was born just two months and a day before Kittyboy, I hear she's doing fine too. And huh, funny, I saw pictures of her at 10 ounces and there was nothing ichthyological in nature about her either. Just - a baby. A really, really tiny baby. Oh, but TOTALLY abortable if mummy had felt like it.
I wonder - when they invent artificial wombs for NICUs to use for preterm births even younger than that - when a miscarriage is no longer an automatic tragedy - how will they defend abortion then? The morbidly curious would like to know...

Sunday, October 5, 2008

More canning

I'm going to have to reorganize my pantry soon, because the jars of canned food on the bottom shelf are crowding out everything else ON that shelf. One of these days, it will be a shelf entirely of jars. And on that day, I will have to take a picture and post it, for that will indeed be cool.
I'm going to be up until probably midnight tonight, because I had the bright idea to can an acorn squash. A quart of winter squash requires an hour and a half processing time, that's not including letting the cooker depressurize so I can remove the jar. It'll be midnight or so - in the meantime, it's me, a glass of Roditis (my favorite Greek red wine), and my computer.
I went to five places for pickling salt today. Isn't it funny that they have to label it "Canning and Pickling Salt" when all it is is, well, SALT? That's it, just NaCl, no iodine or anti-caking agents whatsoever. Just, SALT. But it's not sold in our closest health food store, Food Fantasies. That was the first place I checked. Half a dozen varieties of sea salt, no canning salt. And it's not sold everywhere that canning supplies are, or it would have been at Ace Hardware, Menards, and the regular (non-supercenter) Walmart I went to next. I finally found it at the new Supercenter Walmart, a good hour or so after leaving home. I was so happy to find it, I bought two boxes. I had been starting to fear that it was solely seasonal and I just wouldn't be able to get it until next summer! It IS sold at Humphrey's Market, which is a good clip from us but would be a good place to start shopping (and isn't open Sundays, and it was today I was making pickles).
So now, I have three pints of sliced cucumbers pickling, a quart of marinara sauce cooling on the counter, and a quart of acorn squash whistling away. And I'll be doing a lot more squash this Saturday. I've resolved to put by at least some of whatever is in season, no matter the season - currently, that's winter squash. A couple months from now, it will be orange, lemon, and grapefruit marmelade. I have no clue what's in season in spring. But I'll find out! And I'll can or dehydrate it! Whatever it is!
I did meet a new friend at Food Fantasies, though. Technically, we met at the first Food Not Lawns meeting back in April or March or whenever, but I don't think we'd seen each other since. Turns out I have time to can, but no tomatoes to speak of, she has tomatoes out her ears, but no time to can them. So I'm to call her tomorrow, and I'll be canning her tomatoes! With all the practice I'm getting, I'll be thinking nothing of it next year when (hopefully) I have my own bumper crop of things to can.
Life is good!

Friday, October 3, 2008

A Boy and His Cat

The tale (or is it tail?) must be told of a boy and his kitty, and the strange yet wonderful bond between them.
When Kittyboy came home from the hospital, our female cat Harriet had a predictably feline reaction. She looked, sniffed, and left. That was absolutely fine with us. Magic would creep up on his belly, sniff, and if Husband or I so much as blinked, take off like a shot for the other end of the house. All that we know of his history is that he was picked up by Animal Control as a "nuisance" and was believed to be an abandoned pet. Now we think he was probably put out after a baby came home and the new parents felt he was too affectionate, because once he figured out that he wouldn't be yelled at or in trouble for being close to the baby, he would lay down right next to him. He would put his head on our son's arm when it was outstretched. He would nuzzle him. He started HOLLERING from the nursery if the baby wasn't in it - we didn't know if that was "My baby is missing! Where is he? My baby is missing!" or "The bassinet isn't breathing! What's wrong with my baby? The bassinet isn't breathing!" Anyhow, we'd have to yell so he could find us, or go and get him, and show him where his baby was.
Above is Kittyboy, at four months chronological age, one month developmental, starting to roll to his side. He did this primarily when his kitty was nearby, because Magic was fascinating and fluffy and COOL, and Kittyboy wanted to see him up close. So he started rolling - "the better to see you, my fluffy!"
Magic provided a lot of motivation to stretch, reach, move in general, and would never, ever move away when Kittyboy got close. Kittyboy once stretched out his hand across Magic's upturned paw, and Magic just barely, barely flexed - Kittyboy started crying, and Magic took off. There was the finest, most delicate little red line on Kittyboy's wrist, from a claw just barely brushing his skin. Magic mauls us when he's in a loving mood, he kneads us with these massive scythe-like claws that once ripped a hole in a denim dress when he leapt off my lap. And he was just trying to be affectionate with his baby, and he was being just as gentle as he possibly could! Kittyboy suffered no lasting effects and was reaching for his kitty again after a nap, but Magic has gone to elaborate lengths since to have his claws as sheathed as physically possible. We would have to RESCUE the cat from his boy, because Kittyboy believed him to be stuffed, and treated him accordingly! Grab two handfuls of fur and skin and puuuuull to get the kitty situated the way he wanted. Magic wouldn't even LEAVE when Kittyboy got rough! "No, leave kitty's ears alone!" "No eyes!!!" "NICE!!! NICE!!!" We would actually see Magic lay down right next to his boy - and then brace for impact. Then Kittyboy found that when you squeeze a cat's paw, shiny curved things come out, and he thought those were interesting and wanted to explore paw anatomy further, and THAT was quite a panic moment for Magic, who was so paranoid of hurting him. Baby grabbing at hind paws, kitty pulling himself across the carpet using front claws only rather than risk using the claws that the baby was reaching for.
In late December last year, we were trying to get Kittyboy falling asleep in a crib - not a swing, not a rocking car seat, but a crib. Earlier that month, he had suddenly developed big-time separation anxiety, going into a panic any time someone left a room. That was very hard on both him and me, because I had gotten used to being able to leave to get a bottle, go to the bathroom, short little trips that out of the blue were made impossible. Husband tried playing peekaboo around a doorway one night to get across the idea that "Daddy leaves! Daddy comes back!" and had to stop when Kittyboy got hysterical. So I didn't have very high hopes for him falling asleep without either one of us in the room (rocking the car seat) or the illusion that someone was there (the swing). And the first night, it was a miserable failure - he was halfway asleep with me standing there shushing, then Magic jumped in the crib! Kittyboy woke up fully, "My kitty's here, time to PLAY!" and it just didn't work. I resolved that the next night, Magic would be shut in the bathroom at bedtime. I forgot, though. And that time, Kittyboy was fussing and not going to sleep, Magic jumped in the crib AGAIN - walked around his baby and laid down next to him, and baby quieted down. At a time when Kittyboy couldn't be alone awake, his kitty was there, and at night at least, that qualified as "not alone". Magic the Therapy Cat!
After Kittyboy was cruising along furniture, he cruised up to Harriet and "petted" her. It was nice petting, for him at least, but it was directed at her face, which she didn't like. And she responded appropriately - she hissed. I heard the hiss, looked up and said, "No touching Harriet, let her go," because we were trying to teach him some semblance of BOUNDARIES. And I thought her hissing and leaving was perfectly acceptable. Magic thought otherwise. He followed her, cornered her as she tried to leave the room, GROWLED, she leapt over him, he swiped at her, and they hurdled a baby gate to go rolling down the hallway with me yelling "Magic, NO! STOP!" He chased her to the other end of the house!!! Because she HISSED at HIS baby - how dare she!!!
And nowadays, if I'm trying to let Kittyboy "cry it out" when he doesn't want a nap, Magic has his own idea of what's too long, and if it lasts too long, he will take up position outside the nursery door and add his voice to the din. "WAAAAHHH! WAAAAHHH! WAAAAHHH!" "MRROWW! MRROWW! MRROWW!" Like I can't hear the screaming toddler, and I need to be told he's crying! (How helpful of Magic, to make sure I know what's going on!)
Magic is no longer the be-all and end-all of his boy's existence, as he used to be, but they are just precious together - and they TOTALLY "belong" to each other! I think Kittyboy will be a black and white tuxedo cat for Halloween - I'll have to get a picture of that and post it. An updated portrait of a boy and his cat!

Kitty play

(Prefaced by - yes, we're aware of the dangers his compulsions pose, and he's closely supervised!!)

For reasons not particularly understood by anyone, Kittyboy loves to have things draped about his shoulders. Scarves, belts, any unguarded stringy thing, is worn in the manner of a tailor's tape measure. It's not all the way around his neck, just hanging at the sides. There's a yellow ribbon he especially loves, and of course his Magic-kitty loves it too. Today, he learned how to play with his kitty with stringy things!
This evening I heard all kinds of shrieks and squeals from the hallway. They were happy noises, and I was in the middle of fixing dinner, so I was just happy that he was playing happily. After a LOT of shrieking, I really did have to check and see what was so incredibly fun. Kittyboy was waving the ribbon over Magic, Magic was rolling around waving his paws at it, and when he'd caught it, Kittyboy would SHRIEK and giggle and pull it away. They were going all up and down the hall like this, it was a riot. And there's a reason Magic is the Kittyboy's kitty, because the toddler would jump in close to snatch the ribbon back from Magic's MOUTH and CLAWS, and Magic would let it go as soon as he got close. It's been established since Kittyboy came home that Magic will go to any length, however ludicrous, to avoid hurting HIS baby.
Most likely, the game had begun because Magic pounced the end of the ribbon, and Kittyboy amiably went to drape it around his kitty's neck. After all, that's how HE plays with stuff, he puts it around his neck, so kitty must like it too. And then Magic GOT the ribbon, and that was just SO SILLY, because that's not how you play with ribbon, you put it around your neck, silly cat! So Kittyboy pulled it away squealing in laughter, to try draping it over Magic's neck again, and so on and so forth, and then he learned that his kitty would run after the ribbon down the hall, and that was hysterically funny and accounted for a good part of the shrieking, as he was bouncing backwards waving the ribbon to get Magic to follow it.
Then Magic took a break at the food bowl, and Kittyboy finally got the ribbon arranged around his kitty the way he wanted it - until Magic saw it and went back to chasing it.
1 toddler + 1 kitty + one very bedraggled ribbon = WAY more fun than a barrel of monkeys!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Best of Times - The Worst of Times

And no, this has nothing to do with the economy, and everything to do with parenting a TODDLER!
This morning, we had SUCH a Norman Rockwell moment. Kittyboy is not into hugging, apart from stuffed animals and dolls, and not into kissing, apart from flat surfaces and occasionally dolls. Not, "not into" as in he only does it on command, "not into" as in he really just doesn't do it. This morning, Husband brought him in while I was doing my hair, just to say Good Morning. I was trying to get ready for the "mommy and me" picture we were taking at Target this morning. When they were going back out the door, Kittyboy leaned way over towards me, then sat up and signed Please, and then leaned waaaay over towards me with his arms out, reaching. I said, "Oh, you want a hug!" because he does like to get hugs, he just doesn't give them back. I went over and took him, and the first thing he did was put his arms tightly around my neck and his head on my shoulder. I GOT MY FIRST HUG THIS MORNING! FIRST ON-PURPOSE HUG EVER!!! It was soooo sweet, and we cuddled JUST like that for A COUPLE MINUTES even, it wasn't a squeeze-and-push-back, it was a real hug. And it was just the most wonderful thing ever.
But I couldn't have a cliched Dickensian title if the most wonderful thing ever hadn't been followed by the absolute opposite. After Husband went to work, we were still getting ready for the picture. I was dressed, my hair was pretty much done, I was even wearing makeup (which I very rarely do), ALL THAT WAS LEFT was getting Kittyboy into this cream suit that was Husband's years ago, put together a purse, and leave. I started an hour before we had to leave, because I didn't want him staining the suit (did I mention it's CREAM?). And Kittyboy, in a moment of multiple-personality disorder (aka evil toddlerhood) decided he didn't want to get changed. I was interrupting HIS plans for the day, which did not include wardrobe changes.
It took me 45 minutes to put on a shirt, vest, jacket, pants, and shoes. We didn't even do socks, just shoes. He kept throwing himself backwards, this awkward and dangerous-looking maneuver that puts him completely off balance and requires me to catch him so he doesn't go back on his head. He did hit his head once, quite solidly, on the frame of his trampoline, because he threw himself back when I wasn't behind him. It didn't seem to faze him, but it didn't improve his mood either. I think this particular form of resistance is a violent variation on going limp, perhaps, because once he's on the floor, he rolls to his stomach and tries to escape again.
I did win the war, mainly by benefit of persistence. I can't claim superior strength, because in a way, he will always be stronger than I - because he doesn't care if he hurts either of us, while my goal is to keep either of us from getting hurt. It is a bit of a handicap, when you're wrestling a toddler who has great strength and an absolute disregard for his or anyone else's safety. He's slammed his head back against my face before when I was carrying him, because he was mad. (And gee, he's never even taken a self-defense course!)
After this morning, I have a new tactic, inspired by the bonking of his head against the trampoline - what if I just quit catching him? Obviously, direct him so he's not hitting anything that would actually hurt him, no corners or anything, not the metal frame of the trampoline, but what if he started to experience the natural consequence of that action every time he did it? The front and back of the skull are strongest, I read that in a toddler first-aid book, it's the temples you really worry about. Toddler skulls are pretty strong - they have to be, as often as toddlers fall. Were he driving a car, I would NOT be paying his speeding tickets, because he'd be dealing with the consequences of his actions. Maybe if I quit catching him, he'll decide he doesn't like hitting the floor.
So yay, I got a hug! My first ever! And ugh, I had to wrestle baby Samson. It was the best of times!! It was the worst of times!! And he's not even two yet!