Friday, December 25, 2009

AwesomeCloud's first awesome Christmas

Christmas eve was spent at Uncle and Auntie's house with AwesomeCloud's four cousins. The Cloud chowed down happily on lasagna and meatballs and played with his new musical snail with his cousins. Gift opening was very loud and overwhelming. AwesomeCloud enjoyed seeing the first two presents he got, but then he distracted himself with a rubber ball he'd found under a table. Then he wanted to walk circles in the kitchen with only me for company.

In hindsight, his tolerance for chaos and noise is reasonably good. Sure, he got overwhelmed, but I have a feeling he'll learn to like it as he gets older.

Christmas morning, we woke up to a living room full of presents, but AwesomeCloud wanted breakfast. So did his parents. So we made a delicious but not too decadent egg breakfast, and we didn't even glance at the gifts until we were all fed and happy.

AwesomeCloud hasn't yet learned to rip wrapping paper, but he was interested to see what would come out of each package. He got matchbox cars, plastic musical toys, and cat food! No wait. The cat food was for the cats. But AwesomeCloud enjoyed playing with the little cans.

Then we went to my aunt's house, AwesomeCloud's great-aunt. There was more exchanging of gifts, and now we are well stocked with baby clothes and baby toys. He met his other cousins for the very first time! They got along well. There was homemade fettuccine and eggplant parmigiana - you know, traditional Christmas dinner fare. :) There were also pies, cookies, and a huge cheesecake for dessert, but we left a little early so we just had a few cookies thrown into baggies to take home. Aw. I am very much a dessert person, and I am not particularly saving all those cookies as leftovers. I already ate half of them.

The photos are still in the camera, and I am too lazy to go get them out and post them, but I heard that several of them came out well.

Tomorrow we're having a couple of friends and maybe AwesomeCloud's Yeye and Nainai over for board games. (No, we're not calling them Yeye and Nainai. They are Grandma and Grandpa. But they now have T-shirts with the Chinese words on them.)

Riley's first Christmas with us was unremarkable. She's still confined to the basement. It's chilly down there, so I opened the door to let some heat waft in, and she and Melody had a hissing standoff. Get used to each other, girls. You're going to be best friends... or else.

AwesomeCloud has seen Riley a couple of times but not interacted with her in any meaningful way. I'm sure that'll change once Riley moves upstairs with us.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Meet Riley


This morning, we all went down to RI to visit Rick's mother's and grandparents' grave. We had a lovely lunch at Newport Creamery. Then we went to the Animal Rescue League shelter and got Riley.

How did we choose Riley and why did we go out of state to get her? First we searched Petfinder.com for special needs cats who are good with children. Their profiles actually had to mention they were good with children; we didn't want any unknowns. Then we eliminated cats on our list for various reasons - litter box issues, FIV+, and so on.

We were left with three possible cats, and two were at the same shelter. So we emailed that shelter, and ended up choosing to adopt Riley.

Riley is currently in the basement, thrilled to be out of her cage and free to explore. She's a real lovemuffin, already rubbing and purring and doing circles around our legs. It's a little chilly down there, but she doesn't seem to mind.

She is not yet ready to meet Melody and socialize with AwesomeCloud. There was a little bit of hissing when Mel learned there was a new cat in the house. I think, though, that in two or three days, the cats will be used to each other's scents and will be ready to tolerate each other. Mel is a quick adapter. She even makes friends with the vet at each visit.

The above picture was the best we could get of her on short notice. Don't worry, there will be better pics!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Mama is making progress

I'm starting to get the hang of housework while the baby is around. Today I swept the living room while he was in it. He crawled over to each pile of dirt and sat next to it, but he didn't rescatter it before I could sweep it up with the dustpan.

I've gotten reasonably adept at running the wood stove while he's active. I have to block off the entire kitchen, but, hey, whatever keeps my baby safe! He can learn not to touch the hot stove later. That lesson is too challenging for him now.

I think his language comprehension is starting to click. He's making new small steps toward speech several times a day. I won't say it's actual speech yet, but the idea of speaking is starting to catch on.

He gets sooooo much attention for every little utterance, who can blame him for being interested all of a sudden?

The blizzard dumped a total of 2 feet of snow on us before it finally stopped. After shoveling the driveway and putting the kid to bed, we decided to have some fun. Here it is, halfway done:
It was supposed to be a chickadee, but when we were done it looked more like a dove. I should have gotten more pics of it today, completed, in the sunlight. Alas, I did not. You'll just have to trust me that it's a giant dove.

Either way, it's a pun. See, we're year-round residents, and a lot of our neighbors spend summers here and go elsewhere for winter. Florida and Arizona, places like that. Our nickname for those people is 'snowbirds'.

So the sculpture is intended to honor those people. :-D

Oh yes! And! Happy Solstice! Yeah yeah, we're already in the dark part of solstice as I type this. I missed wishing you all a Happy Hanukkah entirely, so give me credit for at least remembering.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Baby's first blizzard


Last time, we got nothing. Barely 5 minutes, no accumulation, washed away by rain. Even Sandwich had notable snow last time! I guess we're just far enough out to sea to have avoided it.

This time, it was a big ol' "classic nor'easter" and it was plenty big enough for some accumulation. We got a foot. Not bad.

Yesterday I split some wood and rearranged the firewood pile to prepare. Today I planned to do a lot of shoveling, but I haven't yet. I've been too busy with the baby, and during naptime, I sewed instead of shoveled.

One of my bushes got destroyed. It must be very heavy, wet snow. *sigh* I should probably give up on that bush. It incurred damage last year, and I spent all summer bracing it and nursing it back to health. It crushes far too easily. It is obviously not a native New England species. Maybe I should replace it with a highbush blueberry.

Somebody linked to my "Culturally Insensitive Adoption Expert" rant. I guess I should appreciate the extra traffic, but instead I just feel sad. Oh well. I hope people come away with something worthwhile. I'm really just popping online today to see if there's any news about the cat. I doubt there will be. The shelter staff is snowed in too, and if they get to the shelter today, they have better things to do than email me.

AwesomeCloud just went out into the snow with Daddy. I guess I should go downstairs and see how it went. We could only find one mitten, and as soon as I put it on his hand, he began to scream bloody violent murder and wouldn't stop. Somebody needs to adapt a little more, methinks.

Late lunch time, now. I made butter noodle mix boiled in water that had previously boiled broccoli and string beans. That way, even if he won't eat the broccoli and string beans, he'll be consuming their nutrients. Through osmosis. Or whatever chemical process inserts essence of veggies into boiled noodles.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Adoption clinic

Today was our second visit to the adoption clinic, where the esteemed Dr. Miller evaluates AwesomeCloud's delays and his progress.

AwesomeCloud has a bad case of hospital fatigue, but I have it worse. Today just kicked my poor tired butt. I'm grateful to my great-aunt, who accompanied us. She's coming along to surgery followup at BCH, too. Thank goodness! Can you imagine me doing all this alone? I can't. I really truly can't.

Adoption clinic always makes me feel like I'm under scrutiny, and today I just totally wasn't in the mood for it. *sigh* I hope I didn't give the impression that I don't welcome Dr. Miller's services. She's wonderful. I'm just fatigued.

There are some projects around the house that have been sorely neglected lately. Maybe that's bothering me too. None of them are even that important. If none of them get completed, nothing bad will happen. I just feel like people shouldn't bug me about the details when I'm well aware that not everything gets done around here.

At least she couldn't criticize me about AwesomeCloud's TV viewing habits. We don't have TV! Score one for me! And his Youtube viewing habits aren't bad at all. Yeah, I sometimes show him kitten videos. Kitten videos are short as a rule. Really, 30 seconds worth of footage of any given kitten antic is enough.

Tomorrow is going to be harder. I should just be grateful that today was mostly just talking... and driving. And getting stuck in rush-hour traffic. Fortunately, there was chocolate. (I should buy myself a big wad of chocolate for the trip tomorrow. Sugar keeps me going much better than caffeine.)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Second word, second steps

AwesomeCloud said his second word earlier this week. I was getting him out of the car seat, and I prepared him for getting lifted by saying to him, "Up!"

He extended his arms, as he is supposed to do, and then said, "Up!"

Just like that. And then it was over.

Last night, I think he also said, "Lai lai lai!" along with the "come here" gesture, copying me as I was instructing him to lai lai lai, come here. I could be wrong. "Lai lai lai" is one of the Chinese phrases I speak to him frequently so that he'll grow up knowing some small amount of Chinese. It's just like me learning small phrases in Italian when I was a child, although, unfortunately, I hardly remember any of them now.

Also, I think my Italian came mostly from my grandfather and my Great-Aunt Stella. My parents never spoke a word of it to me, IIRC. Things were different back then, though. Now, all the child experts are crowing about the benefits of bilingual babies. That's a very, very new idea.

(By the way, his first word is "det!" which means "cat." He started saying it almost two months ago, and for that whole time, it was the only word he was interested in saying. I've been waiting and waiting for him to realize he could double his vocabulary by learning just one more word.)

A few days ago, I was talking to my Great-Aunt Corinna about children learning to walk. She was telling me about someone's toddler who had the strength to walk upright, but not the confidence. Eventually he found he could walk without Mama's help by clutching an object in one hand.

The day after that conversation, AwesomeCloud discovered exactly the same thing. He can hold a plastic bowl in one hand, and hold onto me with the other hand, and he can walk. In fact I think his balance is even better when he clutches his plastic bowl. When I have him by both hands, he's free to swing wildly in every direction, and his feet can go every which way without consequence. When I hold him with one hand, he actually has to put some effort into finding his center of gravity.

We put the Christmas tree up last night. Well, my husband did. I distracted AwesomeCloud in the kitchen so he wouldn't get stabbed by any metal branches. It's one of the nicest looking fake trees I've ever seen. Rick's brother gave it to us for free - it was in the basement of their new house, and they didn't want it. We're happy with that! I was actually going to hold out until after Christmas and get a fake tree on a post-season sale. It's crazy to buy a fake tree before Christmas.

We meant to catch the sales last year, but we were in Arizona, enjoying the Grand Canyon and Petrified Forest. And the Holbrook Museum, a little small-town attraction that I fell absolutely in love with.

Aw, now I crave a Navajo frybread taco.

Time for me to leave for my Audubon volunteering session. Nothing too exciting. I'm just making signs.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Zen baby

"He's so busy!" People keep saying that about AwesomeCloud. It's not nearly as common as "He's so CUTE!" That phenomenon deserves a blog post all its own. He is very cute. He's also a nonstop little guy.

Sort of.

I've decided that he has the potential to learn Zen meditation. Although maybe that is too ambitious at the moment. Maybe I should start with baby yoga.

I don't actually know any yoga, however. I've taken exactly one yoga class, and I paid attention while I was in it, but there was no long-term skill retention involved. I know it involves moving into positions and holding them. I know it is about 20 times more strenuous than it looks. But I don't know actually how to do it.

I have a yoga tape, but in order to watch it, I'd have to hook up the VCR and reset the TV, and I have no real desire to play with either device. It annoys me that the entertainment center is just an overly elaborate dust collector, requiring frequent, pointless dusting. But that doesn't mean I feel like plugging it in, either.

So today I got on my elbows and knees and lifted one leg high in the air while AwesomeCloud watched.

He laughed.

Then he stretched his arms out at me because he wanted me to help him walk. Walking is all he wants to do all day besides eat. Eat and walk. Walk and eat. The EI lady suggested that I should get him to crawl more. It will help his sense of balance, which is, quite frankly, atrocious.

He does not care to look where he's going; he'll plow through toys as high as his knees and is not deterred by the fact that wheeled and wired toys make lousy footholds. Who needs footholds when you have Mama to hold you up?

He doesn't try to keep his legs straight and his feet under him. I've gashed him in the forehead countless times with my fingernails because his feet are flailing and his head is swinging wildly every which way. Including right into my fingernails. Who needs a center of gravity when you've got Mama?

No crawling. Only walking. Help me walk! Help me walk!

I think maybe some baby yoga, if I can catch his interest, might improve his balance if crawling won't. But if I eschew video tapes, refuse to spend any money, and overlook internet resources... I guess I'll just have to make it up myself.

In that case, I can't really call it yoga. Yoga is a pre-existing thing, with history and technique and tradition. It's not just the general concept of moving to a pose and holding it.

I need a name for just moving to a pose and holding it.

In the meantime, I'm going to do it. (It's good for me too, after all.)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Hurt feelings

It's taking me a while to adjust to this whole parenting thing, I think. I miss my alone time. Which is understandable; I used to have scads and scads of alone time. Time with AwesomeCloud doesn't count as alone time. He is very much a person, even if he doesn't talk and can't anticipate the basic physics of his environment.

Here is where many people gleefully cackle about how that's what being a parent is all about, hoo hahah, and I'd better get used to it. Gloat gloat, crow crow. Funny how people do that. In more objective terms, it's a rough transition and I can't possibly be expected to dive right into it with both feet running. (Not to mix metaphors or anything.) One helpful internet friend itemized my stress sources and then implored me not to feel guilty. That was nice of her, even if her list hit home rather hard as I read each very real stressor she listed.

She missed all the medical stressors, though. Hospitals are stressful. Pain suffered by your children is stressful. Hey, I spent two nights sleeping on a chair in a pediatric hospital (if you could call it 'sleeping', and I got to see my child be in pain every day since his surgery last Thursday.

In actuality he's doing great, all things considered. There are a lot of things to be considered. One is the fine balancing act of codeine. We don't want to give him too much, but too little causes him pain.

(I'm starting to think we're a little too paranoid about giving him too much. The MD warned us of parents who rely too heavily, too long, on the drugs, but I think those parents are dosing much more liberally than us. Maybe we can afford to relax about the "too much codeine" scare tactics and just give the poor kid some pain relief. He won't turn into a junkie. It's okay.)

Tonight the Cloud was a weird combination of cheerful and cranky. It was the pain. Of course it was. Maybe I was too quick to give him the Tylenol-without-codeine. Shortly after he had it, he began his usual pain behaviors. He won't sit up straight, although he will stand. He scrunches his legs up when lying down. (Yes, he does that anyway, but this is with more tension than playfulness.) When he cries, however, he makes no gestures toward the pain. He just cries.

So he was crying, and I was changing him, and he refused to sit up so I could take off his shirt. I took it off anyway. It was the end of the world. I announced then that I was done for the night and didn't want anything else to do with him. My husband, dismayed, scooped him up and trudged off to do something on the computer that was incompatible with a crying, needy baby.

My feelings were hurt. It happens. It's hard to guess completely right all the time what's going on in the kid's head. And I was tired. Craving some alone time.

I miss my cat. Time spent with the cat counts as alone time. I played with Melody for a while this evening, but I miss Trixie.

There you go, KJ! A little bit of negativity going on behind somebody else's happy rainbow blog. :)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Visiting nurses

Another short post! Funny how those long, introspective posts are much less common when there's a toddler in the house. AwesomeCloud is trying soooo hard to learn how to walk, but he needs my assistance. All the time. Constantly. As it's hard to type and walk at the same time, especially when someone is clinging to one finger on each of your hands, the typing goes away first.

Today we are having a visiting nurse drop by. I now know when, but I don't know why. The discharge liaison woman at Children's set it up, but she originally said it was for a type of home care that we can't even start for another two weeks.

So, I don't know.

Gotta go. Kid needs to walk some more.

Aw cute. He's picking up the phone, the cell phone, and the camera, putting them up to his ear one at a time, and saying, "Unh?" before moving on to the next one.

Uh oh. Now he's dialing. Gotta go, really.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Home

We're home!

Us - Good but tired.

Cloud - Cheerful and healing.

Hospital - Great to us in every way.

Next surgery - March.

Next medical-related thingee - Monday! (at home, thankfully; no travel required)

G'night!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Quick update from the hospital

Hi! Just a quick update. Surgery is going well, no complications, but it's loooooong. They only just started cutting an hour ago. The holdup was that they spent a very long time coming up with a plan once they finished gathering the last of their data using a telescopic tube. Those things are neat, but not in a way I'd want to be awake for if it were me! Ick!

Quick observation: I think the process of a special needs adoption makes the process of treatment a bit easier to deal with. In spite of our sleep dep and fatigue, we seem to be among the cheeriest family here. I only say that from a sample size of two. But I'm thinking it might be a truism. You see, we knew from the start that our child would have a medical issue. We researched and discussed that issue before we approved the adoption. AwesomeCloud's needs were always a very clear part of the big picture and we chose him, needs and all, voluntarily. There are always surprises that come with every child, but for us the big issue was well known.

I think it's harder when you give birth to a child, or you are otherwise surprised by the child's medical need. There's always a little voice in the back of your head saying, "Why me? Why my child? It's not fair."

For us, it's plenty fair. We're here in this surgical waiting room on purpose. We totally volunteered for this. No self-pity to be had.

In contrast, I have that little voice about Trixie. Trixie had special needs of her own, and we fought the good fight alongside her, but her cancer was a surprise. We did not sign up for a cat who would just die in 7 years of a brain tumor. It's not fair.

Good news: one of the families who were having a harder time waiting for their son's surgery just received the news that he's fine and it went well. That's a relief. I've been eavesdropping (you can't help it in these close quarters) and I've been concerned for them.

We get our next round of news at 4:30, whether it be good, bad, or indifferent. I'm spending the night. Several relatives told me to invite them here to BCH whenever I wanted them to drop by, but you know what, I'm always happy to see any of you. Consider yourselves invited. C'mon over.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Pre-op

Thanks to everyone who offered me sympathy and condolences for Trixie.

The vet sent me a sympathy card. :`)
She included a nice note wishing AwesomeCloud good luck with his surgery.

Which is tomorrow. I'm kind of emotionally... um... I don't know. I'm not panicked per se. But I have some sort of emotional thing going on. You can't avoid it, the day before your kid goes into surgery.

It's not life-or-death, but it's not simple and routine, either. His test results showed that he needs a moderate level of surgery for his condition. So, there will be a hospital stay (and a second one a little bit later) and therapy and followup exams.

I'll post again when we get back.

Seeya!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

We are all connected

I have to insert this into my own blog instead of doing a blog-hop every time I want to listen to it. At first it was just making me feel a little better in my grief. But I guess... I guess I'm still grieving pretty hard.



The cosmos is also within us. We are made of star stuff.

(I'm sure right now somebody is thinking, "Ohh, there she goes again, being all weird!" But you know, most people take comfort in the thought of something larger. For some, it's Heaven. For me, it's the heavens. Plus, Richard Feynman is playing the djembe. It's like the video was made especially for me.)

Friday, November 27, 2009

Grieving on Thanksgiving









It was a good Thanksgiving. AwesomeCloud met his great-aunt and great-uncle, and his second cousin, and had a grand old time shoveling mashed potatoes into his mouth. The food was delicious and the company was pleasant.

But I miss my Chica Chica. She died far too young. 7 years wasn't nearly enough. There's a profoundly empty cat-sized space in my heart.

I'm thankful this season, but I'm also sorry. I'm sorry AwesomeCloud won't get to know Trixie as he grows. I'm sorry she didn't have a chance to form a real relationship with him. I'm sorry she felt too ill to be properly catlike with him, and to show him how a cat and toddler should interact together.

I'm sorry I was unable to let her curl up for hours on my lap and be comforted. The baby kept me too busy. I'm sorry I couldn't come to her everytime she called out in the darkness of her brand new blindness. It must have been terrifying for her.

But I gave her a quick scritch whenever I could, and I got down on the floor when she couldn't jump, and I fed her extra soft food when she asked for it. I didn't do badly. I just feel guilty because I can't touch her at all anymore.

I'm sorry you were in pain, Trixie, and I couldn't do any more to alleviate it. I'm sorry I didn't slow down and give you more reasons to purr.

A lot of people may think it's a bit silly to go on and on like this about a cat. But she was a life here on earth, and I was responsible for her. She wasn't just an ornament and she didn't go with the furniture. She was.... she was herself. And she was very special.

We all lost a special family member. AwesomeCloud did too, even if he'll never grasp the depth of that loss. Even if the disappearance of that little furry face in his personal space barely registers.

I wish there were something else I could've done. I feel so helpless.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Zai jian, Trixie.



Trixie passed away this evening. She probably had cancer after all.

She was... what can I say about her? She was a superlative cat. She was gorgeous, gentle, high-strung, affectionate, and her ordeals were bigger than most cats' ordeals. She was an odds-beater. She took the long odds life gave her and beat them to a bloody pulp over and over. She worked hard at learning how to be a pet. She struggled to accept loving as well as she gave it. She gracefully adjusted to several major life changes, and she miraculously survived being lost for five weeks, three years ago this month.

She and I bonded hard, and I miss her terribly already. The last thing she did in life was curl up in my lap and purr.

The MRI people are going to wonder why I'm so teary-eyed tomorrow.

Monday, November 23, 2009

It's going to be a tough couple of weeks

I wish the Cloud weren't in such a foul mood today. Tomorrow we have to get up at 5-ish for an 8 AM appointment at the hospital, and then Wednesday he has an MRI, for which he needs to be sedated, for which he needs an empty stomach.

Then on 12/3 he gets an actual hospital stay, and all the other lovely things that go with surgery. There are lots of frustrating, silly, poignant, disgusting, and exhausting moments within his medical adventures, but I'm not writing about them here for reasons of privacy. I hope you all understand.

So. 5:00 AM! Are we ready?!?

(Uhhh.... no. We're a couple of grouches here. Grr.)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Lucky LOLcat

I wish I had something in particular to disapprove of today, but I don't. I just thought this picture I took was cute, so I made a LOLcat out of it.

Who has something worth disapproving of today? You can borrow my LOLcat if you like.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A new African store

AwesomeCloud and I did some mallwalking this morning. We discovered a brand new African store that opened just two days ago.

I loved the African store in Jersey City, and this one is just as fun. Unfortunately it doesn't carry books. But they have a selection of djembes - not that we need djembes! We have three already, and three family members, but I must have a compulsion to collect djembes or something.

They also carry shea butter. The last time I bought shea butter, it ended up being my favorite cosmetic in the whole linen closet. It is apparently good for rashes, too.

I didn't buy anything today, but I hope the African store can stay in business, because it's the kind of place where I will occasionally spend my money, yes, even with my tightwad tendencies. I'll be pleasantly surprised if the Cape can support such a store. Ethnic specialty shops tend to struggle here. It's a shame.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Commenting for charity

Hey. Go leave a comment for Amy over at her blog, Lots'o'Kids. Tell her one thing you're thankful for. She'll donate one dollar to a charity to help Chinese orphans for each comment she gets.

She also links some worthwhile charities on her blog, in case you're interested in donating yourself.

In other news, AwesomeCloud can now pretend to read his books.

Right now he's boogying down to a little techno music. This kid can really shake his thang.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Thud!

Children's Hospital today.

Also, Children's Hospital on Friday and again on Saturday.

Everything is good and the process is moving right along, but oh man, all this traveling is kicking my butt.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

My son the earthworm

AwesomeCloud has started to eat dirt off the floor.

It started with a stray Cheerio. A stray, soggy Cheerio that had fallen off his high chair tray this morning. Later, I saw him pick a mote of dirt off the floor and put it in his mouth. "Haha, that'll teach you," I said, and fed him some real food to get the yucky taste out of his mouth.

Next time he was on the floor, I saw him grab for a leaf fragment. In it went. "Ack," I said, but it was gone too quickly for me to do anything about it. Besides, it was just a tiny leaf. It's... um... fiber. Yeah.

I scooted him into the living room, which I'd already swept, but he was sly and managed to find a bit of bark. I was able to dig that one out of his mouth. "No, don't eat that," I scolded him. "Yucky. Don't eat things off the floor." (Not that he has nearly enough English/cognitive skills to have a clue what I said. I'm sure tone of voice was the only thing that affected him.)

His face scrunched up and he began to cry, but I ignored him. I was too busy frantically sweep sweep sweeping every square centimeter of floor space I could find.

Please tell me this phase will be short. I'd like to skip ahead to the part where we laugh about it and are grateful it's over.

In other news, I'm really pushing AwesomeCloud's sippy cup skills and walking skills. He is humorously bad at both, but we keep trying. Fortunately, he's interested in both.

I confess I made an error last night. We recently bought a child development book recommended by our pediatrician, and last night I read all the 1-2 year milestones. OMG I'm such a bad mother. A terrible, horrible, neglectful baaaaad mother.

Didn't I swear off books? I'll swear them off again. No more books! The baby will grow and learn in his own way, and he has the parents he has, and if we're doing anything spectacularly wrong, we'll figure it out in due time. A parent who is fraught with guilt and self-loathing is worse than a parent who is blissfully unaware of what the experts say.

No more books. I am only allowing myself to read non-child-related books from now on. Like, there's one on the shelf that's been catching my eye called "Physics Demystified." That is a good choice. I bet "Physics Demystified" hardly mentions child development at all.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Heavy baby! I want a toddler.

AwesomeCloud is breaking my back. I hope he learns to walk soon. He's certainly big enough for it. Then I can get away with only carrying him some of the time, and some of the time giving my back a rest.

He did come down with the cold, and it wasn't too bad. His nose is still runny but otherwise he's almost over it now.

So, yeah, our first sick baby experience. May subsequent illnesses be as mild.

We went to baby storytime yesterday and it was quite nice. There were other babies there. There were some toddlers his age, too, but he's more like the one-year-olds at the moment. He's catching up.

Today we're going shopping at the discount shops to get Christmas decorations cheap. We're sticking to a tight budget this year. It's been a year of massive expenses, and our bank accounts need a break. Food, family, and church! That's what Christmas should be limited to every year, not this big sprawling spendfest that starts before Halloween. And the political issues should be resolved - no decorations on public property, ever, and all the talk show hosts and commentators should just shut up.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. We show up, eat, and leave. Christmas should be like that too. Maybe we can give each other oranges like my grandmother's generation did when they were little. That would be perfect. Merry Christmas! Light a candle. Here's your orange.

Friday, November 13, 2009

A parent's big ambitions for her child

An older parent has some certain advantageous life perspectives. She has more experience, and more years' worth of each type of experience. She can look back on her life so far - and the act of doing so is quite useful to her! She thinks, If I'd only done X in college, the next 10 years of my life would have gone in a better direction. She has had time to reflect on whether listening to heavy metal throughout middle and high school had any long-lasting damage, and, determining it has not, resolves to go easy on her child when he develops his own musical tastes. Hey, she'll even buy him a copy of the CD "$&#@in' my @#!%" by Phat Gangsta George if that's what he really wants. But he's going to learn to play an instrument, and play it right, and not waste 2 years of organ lessons like she did when she was a kid.

You see, older parents are probably as guilty of permissive parenting as the books say. But we are also very, very much into success for our child.

It doesn't have to be material success. I would like AwesomeCloud to grow up to be a scientist or a doctor or a senator. I want him to marry a wonderful woman and have healthy kids and never lose his job or get divorced. I don't really want him to own a yacht or nine homes, because that would be a conflict of interest. I want him to be comfortable and happy. But if he's comfortable and happy living in a yurt raising llamas and making jewelry out of milkweed pods... okay! I can live with that! In fact I am exceptionally equipped to live with that.

I just don't want him to major in natural jewelry-making only to discover he can't make any money from it and has to abandon that path and get a real job. That was what his Mama did. I guess I was too difficult to offer real guidance to, so I didn't get much worthwhile guidance. I'm going to do things a little differently with him.

As an older parent, I really am thinking about his major in college. I don't have to wait until he's 9 and embarrassing the rest of the class with his mad multiplication skillz. If he does become a prodigy in something, I won't downplay it - I'll tell him, "You're the best. Run with it! Be the VERY best!"

If he's average in every way, I have a plan for that too. I'll tell him to work hard so he may rise above mediocrity with sheer determination. "If you find a way to make it fun, then you'll WANT to get things done."

I spend a lot of time each day exposing him to little things - a toy that spins, keys that jingle, food that squishes, water that's wet. I cheer when he tries to say a word that has a meaning, no matter how incomprehensible his attempt is. I dance with him. His daddy gives him playing cards and d20 dice to discover.

I wonder why parents don't continue this kind of intimate, hands-on learning in later years. Learning gets relegated to school. Why? Boys, especially, have trouble with book learning for the first several school years. Maybe if their parents gave them activity-based learning experiences when they're ten, same as we do when they' re one, they wouldn't get so frustrated in school. Maybe learning math at the gas station and ecology on the nature trail is just the antidote to male classroom restlessness. (Female too.) Right now I can play "how many different objects can you kick in the back yard" with the Cloud. Maybe in ten years we'll be playing, "how many different types of plants can you ID in the back yard."

I can't leave it to school to teach him everything he needs to know for life and career. Look how badly that approach worked on me. There's a reason why Harvard University admissions officers look as hard at an applicant's extracurricular activities as at his or her GPA.

Not that I'm expecting the Cloud to get into Harvard... but... I'm not ruling it out either. Just saying.

Cornell would be nice. Their ornithology and marine bio programs have strong reputations. The University of Rhode Island is also a center for studies in field biology. Many of the coastal studies and programs dealing with invasive species come from there.

If he decides to go to MA College of Art... well... we'll cross that bridge if we come to it.

As an older parent, I find this line of thinking normal and natural. Instead of devouring parenting books and looking over the shoulders of my fellow parents to see what they're doing right, I make up my own version of what's right. Conformity never led me to greatness. Even finding a different drummer to march to doesn't quite cut it. At my age, I believe it's best to make your own dang drum, and learn how to play it really well, and that's what I'm going to pass on to my kid. It also helps that I only have one child to focus on. If I had 4 or 5 or 7, I could spread out my ambitions for them amongst them all, and celebrate how unique and individual each of them all are. But with one child, my attentions are funneled. That can end up being a whole lot of pressure resting on his shoulders. But part of my lesson for him is to please himself, not other people. Not even Mama. The path to rising above mediocrity is to leave Mama behind in the dust. Don't worry about me, kiddo! Go chase your dreams! And choose your own music!

Fortunately for me, they don't make cutting-edge music these days like they did when I was a kid. There's nothing being produced today that will shock and disturb the parents, because the parents grew up listening to worse. The most angst-ridden high schoolers are now wearing Pink Floyd and Nirvana t-shirts - two of my favorite bands from my generation. (Pink Floyd (pure Pink Floyd, that is, with Roger Waters heading the band) actually predated me by a few years.) My generation invented punk rock, rap, and death metal! Nothing has come out since then that tops death metal. Maybe Finnish death metal, but those guys are all my age too.

I can at least draw from personal experience and advise the kiddo to be a gentleman at concerts: protect his girlfriend by standing between her and the mosh pit. But do they even have mosh pits anymore?

Alas, I fear my son's musical tastes will either be very, very retro or very, very tame. He'll be blaring a riff from "Smoke on the Water" on his @$$-kicking new electric guitar and his Mama will start singing along. Oh, how times have changed. Youth is no longer a key ingredient of 'cool'.

My generation's life experiences are hard to top, too. We can honestly say, "I've known people who lost their lives to AIDS or ruined their lives with drug addiction." Some of us can even say, "I saw my friends sliding downhill with their drug use, and it only strengthened my resolve not to make the same mistake." And we're not 'uphill both ways barefoot in the snow' kinds of people, spouting misfortunes that our kids fail to relate to. We grew up in prosperous times, when sexism and racism were at an all-time low. Aside from cell phones and the internet, our culture has not progressed in 3o years.

That's actually kind of scary - we're older parents, and yet we're NOT culturally obsolete. My mother was 23 when she had me, and she was most certainly culturally obsolete. Here I am, a parent for the first time at age thirty-never-you-mind, and I know my stuff. I've been there, done that, don't suggest you try it too kiddo. I know my way around the internet like a teenager, probably better - and I take the time to spell my words out, too.

I still refuse to get a cell phone, though. Every time I blink, new cell phones are old already. Cell phone generations come and go so quickly, the term 'cell' is inadvertently appropos.

Will any of this change in the next 15 years? Will culture jump-start forward again? Will some mass phenomenon come along that leaves us fogies scratching our heads? I don't think so. Not until we're too tired to keep learning and too old to care.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Trixie update

Good news! The vet feels that Trixie's lump is an infection rather than a tumor. After a week of me administering medicated eardrops twice a day, her condition has improved and her ear is clearing up.

However, it seems she has no eardrum in her left ear. Strange. How does an indoor cat with a low-risk lifestyle lose an eardrum?

Then again, how does she go blind suddenly without any head trauma? A tumor might explain that. She is a cat of many mysteries.

Thus, I apparently have a visually impaired cat who is deaf in one ear and has arthritis. And I haven't been so relieved since I learned that AwesomeCloud's delays were not innate.

Speaking of AwesomeCloud, the kiddo is walking like crazy - with assistance, but it's only a matter of time before he takes his first independent steps. He's babbling like it means something; he says "Goo" with a sincerity that belies its silliness. Also, "Doit doit doit." Serious stuff.

And he pretends to eat. He eats invisible morsels off my wrist, off box tops, off the edge of his stroller. Make-believe! My kid is doing make-believe! Whoa, awesome!

He likes Fatboy Slim and his eyes light up when I play it. Now he also likes Tommy Dorsey and Count Basie. He is a kid of diverse musical tastes. (Coincidentally, they match Mama's musical tastes.) We have yet to find out if he's a big Springsteen fan like his daddy.

He also eats more foods, and he's more eager to feed himself by hand. Last night he had Thai food at the mall. He enjoys shoveling the pad Thai noodles into his mouth. (Disclosure: they're not spicy. Thai food at the food court is like macaroni at Sbarro - it's not real ethnic.)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Houseful, almost, of sick people

First my husband caught it, but it was so mild he never bothered to mention it to me.

Then I caught it, with more moderate symptoms such as a scratchy throat and a pile of used tissues (which I incinerated in the wood stove).

Unfortunately, I was unable to wash my hands between blowing my nose and handling the baby, because I was constantly doing both at all times. For much of the day I sprawled out on the living room floor and the kid had to play around me. He did not like this arrangement. He cried a lot. I occasionally comforted him, when I had the energy.

Then he took a 2-hour nap, and when his Daddy came home, there was more low-key playing, because Daddy was tired too.

Now Daddy has more symptoms and is feeling run-down and tired. I had a difficult start this morning, but I've bounced back already - we went to the gas station, post office, and then the mall, where everything was closed except Dunkin Donuts. Kiddo and I split a breakfast sandwich and saved our pumpkin donut for later. Then we walked aaaalllllll the way across the parking lot to Trader Joes, where they were giving out cornbread. Yum! We split a cornbread. Then we bought a cornbread mix, because it was yummy, and some eggs, then we ate our donut, and then we walked aaaaalllllll the way across the parking lot and through the mall and back to the car.

Got all that? Does reading about it make you feel sympathetically tired?

AwesomeCloud is out like a light now. I didn't give him elevensies, but his second breakfast was quite substantial what with all the cornbread and donuts and such, so I figured a bottle of Pediasure and a nap would satisfy him till late lunch.

I'm just waiting for him to come down with symptoms too. If he gets the sore throat, he'll avoid crying, just like I had to avoid talking for awhile yesterday. No sign of weak crying yet. Also, his nose isn't runny yet.

But I don't see how he could avoid it. He's been touching everything I've been touching, including food.

In other news, Trixie's health is not improving in spite of the multiple medicines she's on. Twice a day I have to grab her and throw her sideways on my lap (gently, albeit with her claws digging into my thighs) and drip three drops of eardrops in her left ear. It's very difficult. There's much hissing. I try to be quick, lest I miss my chance to get the drops in. The left side of her face is disgustingly greasy with all my near-misses, although I've tried to clean her up with a damp towel.

Now she's starting to use the Oriental rug as a litter box. So I will go now and roll it up and stick it in the corner, and then later I'll decide between a rug-cleaning service and a brand new rug. It wasn't an expensive rug. I got it at Ocean State Job Lot. I'm not dumb! With two special needs cats, you don't want to pay real money for a real Oriental rug when a cheapo one will do.

Friday, November 6, 2009

The problem with defensiveness on the internet

This blog post made me very sad.

The blogger, who used IVF to conceive her children, read some New York Times articles about IVF, and then read a bunch of comments saying that instead of getting fertility treatments, infertile couples should all just adopt.

The commenters at NYT.com are notoriously toxic. They always have been. They're articulate, but that only makes it worse, because then the comments section becomes mobbed with smart people with disturbingly stupid opinions.

The blogger was justifiably angry. So what is her response?

Every time someone declares that infertile people should accept their lot in life and adopt, they should be required by law to adopt a child themselves. To put their money where their mouth is. Shouldn't be a problem, right? I hear it's a piece of cake.

And every time someone says that infertile people should not-just-plain-adopt, but special-needs-kids-from-foster-care-extra-special-bonus-just-adopt, they should have such a child deposited on their doorstep within, oh, let's say an hour. Sign here, and here, initial here, fingerprint here, notary seal here, aaaaand done. Congratulations! You're a parent! Hey, let us know how it goes. I'm sure you'll do a bang-up job. Really, how hard could it be?

And every time someone who's had no fertility problems of their own says it, someone with as many children as they'd like, conceived and delivered without difficulty, they get the full package. The adoption, the special needs and the adjustment issues, and a stiff electric shock where it'll do the most good. What? Oh, you don't like those repeated high-voltage jolts? Sounds like a lifestyle issue to me. I know you'd like for them to stop, but it's not a matter of life or death, sooooooo...


Yeah! Special needs adoptions as especially awful punishments! Excellent! In several years, my kid's going to be able to surf the internet himself and he'll get to read it too.

If not that particular post, then others. She isn't the first to strongly imply that special needs adopted children are the booby prizes of the parenting world. Or even the first to take her own outrage and pass it on to the next group.

Admittedly, she wasn't the one who inserted adopted children into the conversation. The commenters who insisted that adoption, an act of altruism, was better than fertility treatments, a waste of resources, did that. But hey! Once adopted children are mentioned, that makes them fair game!

I especially love how she upped the ante with 'special needs'. We should save the special needs children for the worst offenders. Because they are a special kind of punishment.

Okay, folks, please take note if you will: if you are offended by something you read on the internet, please make sure that your fiery, indignant response will not cause pain to anyone but the specific people you are angry at.

I can understand the sentiment of "I wish you misfortune!" It's time-honored. That's where curses come from.

However, not everything - or everyone - difficult is appropriate to offer up as a curse.

If I fail to pass my outrage onto the next emotionally vulnerable demographic, it doesn't mean I'm accepting the notion that a special needs adoption is the bottom of the parenthood barrel. It just means I'm nice. I don't have any moral objections to IVF - I don't think everyone should do it, but I'm a big fan of diversity and multiple options. I appreciate that IVF was available to me, in theory anyway, in case I wished to have a child by that route. I agree that no one should ever tell a parent that her route to parenthood was wrong or bad.

But the kids of all methods, conception and adoption inclusive, grow up to be people too.

Also, I'd like to add that electroshock therapy is commonly used as a rhetorical device, sometimes angrily, and sometimes with a humorous intent. People need to get a clue. Electroshock therapy is a very real and very serious course of treatment that has been terribly misused in the past, and is coming back into misuse in the present, and has been/is being the cause of much additional, unnecessary suffering to many already vulnerable people. It is not funny.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Updates for AwesomeCloud and Trixie

AwesomeCloud: spending time with his Nona and Poppa today, who are staying till Saturday. After some initial trepidation, he warmed right up to them. My mother is a very enthusiastic, fun, playful sort. If I were a baby, I'd warm right up to her too.

Um. Okay, so, yeah, she's my mother.

Aaaanyway...

Trixie: The vet found a mass in her left ear. It may be earwax, in which case there must be a raging infection underneath to cause her to tilt left and limp in pain. Or it might be a tumor, in which case the vet will need to take samples, CAT scans, and maybe X-rays to make a positive diagnosis.

She gave me antibiotic ear drops. If after a week the mass has not changed, and/or her symptoms have not alleviated, then the tumor possibility will look much more likely.

She almost definitely has arthritis on top of this, and she is most certainly partly or mostly blind.

You'll have to forgive me. Some pets are special above and beyond the general value of having pets. Trixie is a hard-luck cat. Her behavior is not always perfect. She destroys household objects sometimes, especially rugs. She pees on carpets and in suitcases and under beds. Not everyone would love this cat. But to me, she's one of the special ones. She's second only to Shadow, my childhood Maine coon (now deceased) who has now reached legendary status in my family for her many amazing qualities.

Trixie is amazing in her own way, too. And she's drop-dead gorgeous, startlingly so, considering the hard life she's led. (I mean, aside from having her every whim catered to after we adopted her.) Seeing her suffer like this, and tending to her in her time of need... well, my heart is taking a beating.

AwesomeCloud is doing great, though.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Early Intervention and poor Trixie

The Early Intervention ladies came today to evaluate AwesomeCloud. They were warm and friendly and many of their skill-testing games amused the kiddo. But it was a long visit, and by the end he was stressed out and I was exhausted. After they left, I strapped him into the stroller and we took a relaxing walk. Well, okay, not so relaxing for me.

Then we had a nice lunch that went on and on, with me scrambling to find one more thing to feed him, one more thing, until finally I decided the "full belly" endorphins were sleeping on the job. I picked him up and he got very upset that lunch was over. Very, very upset.

Funny. Merely 2 hours before, a plateful of eggs had filled him up enough to play "squeeze the nipple and dribble the milk all over the living room rug" instead of drinking.

I know kids play with their food, and I know their food-playing choices often make no sense. But that doesn't mean I have to like it.

So, screamy sobby baby went right to naptime. I held and rocked him for two Irish ballads, during which time he turned into yawny drowsy baby. I put him in the crib, a situation which utterly devastated him for 30 whole seconds. Now he's out like a rock.

And I don't know what to do with the next hour. Should I wash a bazillion dishes? Do yardwork? Answer the emails that have been sitting in my inbox for a week or so? Nap too? Work on my novel? Argh. I'm too tired to make decisions.

Okay, I sent the most important email: the one to the vet talking about Trixie's condition. I'm convinced she had a stroke. The vet is still considering arthritis. Trixie tested negative for a UTI. (Sorry for blaming you for that, Mom! It probably wasn't the Alley Cat cat food that made her sick after all.) She also tested negative for diabetes.

So... thank goodness for small blessings?

Also, I think she's lost her eyesight suddenly. Strokes can cause blindness, right?

She could have both a stroke and arthritis, certainly.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Tired

It's a beautiful, crisp fall day, but I'm way too tired for it. Mama has much less energy and patience than a small boy thinks he ought to expect.

We did go grocery shopping and to the pharmacy, and then we went to the next town to buy a pair of overalls we found on Craigslist - brand new for $5! I need 10 more of them! So it wasn't a completely empty day.

AwesomeCloud is trying his hand at being mischievous. So far he isn't very good at it. Squeezing the nipple of his bottle to dribble juice on the rug, or tossing a book in the general direction of the cat, are the worst he can do.

Today when he tossed a handful of couscous over his shoulder, he found that I have very little patience for such things. I'll play "Mama fetch" with a toy for 5 or 10 minutes, but if it's food he's throwing, that food goes away.

At lunchtime today, I didn't have to go that far. My withering glare made him cry. And then he had to endure such caustic remarks as, "I'm less than sympathetic. You should have thought of that before you threw your food. Are you still crying? Wow, you sure cry a lot."

It's funny - when I remark that he's crying excessively, he attempts to pull himself together. I don't know if he has the faintest clue what I'm saying. Maybe something in my flat tone of voice suggests to him that his efforts are being wasted.

He has the occasional long-term crying jag, so it's not like his crying stamina is poor. And if I drop the attitude, sometimes he'll start being a pain again. I dunno.

Gah, I wish I weren't so tired. I'm wasting this perfectly good nap hour.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


It's a spider costume. All you can see are the eyes and teeth, but it also has little legs sticking out of the sides under his arms, and if you look at the whole thing, it's super-cute. I wish we had an excuse to use it again! I guess we'll just pass it on to the next family for next year.


Here he is playing with some toys after trick-or-treating. I was originally going to skip Halloween this year because he's so new to the family and I was afraid the holiday would be overwhelming. But he had a pretty good time. It was a low-effort event for him. He just sat in the stroller and occasionally had pumpkin bread popped into his mouth at the party. And then trick-or-treating was more relaxing stroller time while Daddy begged strangers for candy.

Ah yes, Daddy. Daddy had a costume too. Hmm...

Ah yes. There's Daddy. Amazingly, AwesomeSpide - I mean AwesomeCloud! - was not afraid of Rorschach (a dark superhero character from the book/movie The Watchmen).

My costume was a lab coat. I've been a mad scientist every year for 6 or 7 years, and this year the lab coat was the only piece of my old costume that I bothered searching for. Part of the problem is that I very rarely have a reason to dress up for Halloween. I'm not a frequenter of costume parties.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Cloth diapers, broken stroller wheel, Children's Hospital

Cloth diapers: We bought 12, plus 6 covers. They've already paid for themselves in the amount we save not buying disposables, I'm sure. Disposable diapers aren't cheap! Cloth diapers aren't either, but they're durable. I've already washed them 50 million times.

I only have 12, though. That's enough for a day and a half.

They're great in that they have high waists, and they prevent AwesomeCloud from scratching himself in his medically sensitive areas.

They're bulky, however, which is not so great. His 18-month clothes don't fit over them. He has 5 pairs of overalls that still fit. Other than that, I think I'll have to buy 4-year-old clothes and hem them. I've been saying that for a week and I haven't done it yet. But we're drowning in baby clothes, and I've been trying to organize them and look for pants I can add to the 'fit' pile.

My neighbor gave me a lead on a brand of cloth diapers that are less bulky and very well designed. But he couldn't remember the brand name. I will have to ask him again sometime.

Broken stroller wheel: You may remember that our carseat/flightseat/stroller lost a wheel in Nanjing. What a sweet little contraption it would have been if it hadn't broken! Zooming the kiddo easily through airports, retracting the wheels at the last second to create an instant carseat.... instead, we had to carry the kiddo by hand, and the stroller too.

We emailed the manufacturer and they sent us a brand new wheel and installment instructions. The carseat/stroller will live again! Except... well... we haven't had a chance to install it yet. But at least we have the new wheel.

The customer service rep wondered if we'd send them a picture of the kiddo in the carseat/stroller. I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, he's plenty cute enough to be a model. And I do like the product. On the other hand, it broke when we needed it most, inconveniencing us terribly. Allowing them to crow, "Our product helped this child's family when they went to China!" is a tiny bit dishonest. But... he's a super-cute model. And maybe they won't mention China.

Boston Children's Hospital: I have been there twice and I have some impressions and advice for those families who may visit it in the future.

It is bright and colorful, to the point where you can't help but be cheered up a little. Every corner and corridor declares, "We care about children!"

Even so, it's huge. The place is a maze, and the route to your department is not always obvious. Ask directions early and often. Flag down anyone with an ID tag and ask where you should go. Flag down 4 or 5 of them, in case some of them aren't sure. Helpful people are everywhere.

I found that bringing along a friend or non-immediate relative was extremely helpful. Someone who isn't as invested in your child's health can help you stay calm under stress. They can help you read the signs, flag down the aforementioned staff members for you, and take notes if your child is demanding all your attention. They can hold and/or entertain the child if you need the restroom, or if you just need to take a break for a few minutes. And since they won't be worrying as much as you, the two of you won't end up in a worry-feeding spiral. That can be a problem if it's you and your spouse.

Brace yourself to see children who are sicker and more severely disabled than yours. It can be both depressing and enlightening at the same time. I felt sad for their families that I had a bouncy, healthy son with me while they looked forward to a lifetime of struggle, pain, and in some cases imminent death. At the same time, I felt glad for myself.

Sometimes, when people who know my baby is SN say, "Aw, poor thing! It's amazing that you'd do such a wonderful thing like adopt that poor special needs baby!" I cringe. I find myself defensive, at a loss for words. I think, now, I'll be even more so. Sorry, what? Poor baby? Who? I'm the lucky one. He's the nearly-perfect one. We're not amazing; we're just a couple of ordinary schmucks who just got our lives enriched. We just go to doctors' appointments now and then and soak in the good news about complications he doesn't have. We're not one of those near-saintly families who bust their butts keeping their child alive one more day, one more day, one more day.

With adoption, you can say no to that kind of lifestyle. You can hand-pick your child to make sure the challenge isn't too great for you. A discomfiting thought, but it's true. You can't help looking at a child strapped tightly into a wheelchair with tubes everywhere, and thinking, I wouldn't have chosen a child like that. The harried, bleary-eyed daddy pushing her across the lobby wouldn't have chosen her, either... but... well... nobody gave him the choice.

We all rise to the occasion, if we can. Some situations are just easier than others. And harder than others. Our family is in the middle somewhere, but it really hits me how very, very lucky we are. How many difficulties we avoided having. When people pity us, they're only comparing us to the absolute best-case scenario.

But, you know what, I think we're close enough to the best-case scenario.

As my sister once wisely said, "Every baby is a sick baby sometimes."

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Yay healthy baby

This will be a short entry, because even though today's tests were easy, today itself was hard. I was fortunate to have my great-aunt along as we went to Children's Hospital. It was nice having her there to talk to, and she helped keep the baby entertained during the waiting periods.

AwesomeCloud's kidneys are healthy! Hooray! That was the first test.

We have not yet gotten the results from the second test, which was upper GI. That was the more difficult experience, as we had to hold his limbs in place, and he was not happy to be restrained.

Afterwards we went to my great-aunt's and grandmother's house (AwesomeCloud's great-great-aunt and great-grandmother) for an early supper. He was hungry after all those tests and car rides. He had yummy delicious mashed potatoes and carrots, and I had linguine and meatballs. Mmmmm, Grandma's meatballs.

Then we had another long car ride home. He's asleep now, and I will be asleep very soon.

I had forgotten I brought the camera. I wanted to take pictures of the relatives holding their new great-grandson and great-great-nephew. Oh well. I will next time.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

AwesomeCloud likes the floor now

Here he is going shopping for pumpkins with daddy. That was the smallest pumpkin they had! It's on our front stoop right now.

What should I do with it? Draw a face on it with a black permanent marker? Carve it? Cook it? Leave it intact and toss it in the compost pile later to help the opossums fatten up for winter? More than one of those? The decision is up to me, of course. If I felt I had the leisure time to do it, I'd give it a good scooping, carving, and processing and then make 3 or 4 yummies with the insides. I don't know about that now, though. Starting on November 1, I'm joining NaNoWriMo and writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.

I don't even read fiction! And I have a brand new baby! But it'll enrich his life to hear the story of how Mama and Daddy participated in NaNoWriMo one month after he got home. We refused to skip a year, even for parenthood. That's commitment!

And, when we fail to reach the 50,000 words, he can learn that failure is okay. Don't give up just because you know the odds are against you. Writing 20,000 words with a baby in the house is its own kind of success. Hey, even keeping a blog is a decent accomplishment.

Tomorrow we get tests at Boston Children's Hospital. They won't be difficult tests. We'll be all right. It's actually kind of exciting that his medical treatment is zooming right along! I'm not a big lover of doctors' offices, so if we can do this quickly and easily, it suits me.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Doctor, doctor, gimme the news...

Things continue to go well. AwesomeCloud grows and improves in leaps and bounds. He's such a joyful, happy, giggly kid. And have I mentioned he's cute? How did we end up with such a great little boy? We're so, so, so lucky. I keep looking at him and marveling at how lucky we are.

People say we're doing a great job with him, but I really think he's the one doing his own great job. He cheers me up. He's the one who giggles at everything and blows kisses. I didn't teach him all that. He's the one teaching me that if you put on some techno music and bounce a baby on your lap, suddenly the world is a wonderful place. He's the one who celebrates unsweetened oatmeal by kissing at it. He's the one who interrupts his own crying jags with a sudden gleeful squeal.

I'm just along for the ride. I provide the toys, the music, the dangling set of housekeys. I'm the one singing "Let's Go Fly a Kite" for the entirety of a walk around the block so he can stare in wonder at the colored leaves to my droning voice.

Yes, I read National Geographic while I'm feeding him so he doesn't get my full attention. Yes, I put him down on the floor and leave him there while I feed the cats or put laundry in. I have a naturally sharp tongue and I'm training myself to say, "Methinks the baby doth protest too much" instead of nastier remarks. I'm not perfect in every way. Sometimes I'm afraid I'll spoil his joie de vivre, dampen his potential, maybe damage him for life, but then I realize it's probably physically impossible to drag this kid down. He's got it all under control.

We are astonishingly lucky to have him. He's going to bring this family in all new directions. Exciting directions. I'm astonished, at least. How do I empower a kid like him? It'll have to become my life obsession. That's good, though. I was looking for a life obsession.

There is bad and good medical news. The bad news is Trixie's. I brought her to the vet on Friday, suspecting a UTI. She's weak and lethargic, especially in her back end, and she's been spotting in her litter boxes. The vet thought she had more than just a UTI, however. Diabetes and arthritis were her top two guesses. She got an antibiotic for the UTI and we'll hear the results of the barrage of "senior cat" tests on Tuesday. I'm nervous. She's only 10 years old. I'm not ready for her to have diabetes.

The good news is AwesomeCloud's. He gained 2 lbs in the 3 weeks he's been home. He is now in the 'normal' range for weight! And almost there for height. It's amazing to think he was of below normal size, but his developmental delays are more pronounced than his physical delays, so he seems like a large baby rather than a small toddler. He's on the fast track to learning how to walk, though. He'll catch up in no time.

Today we saw the specialist, and it looks like his surgery will be a breeze... well... all things considered, I mean. Surgery is still surgery. But his condition comes with few to no complications. We're getting some tests on Thursday to look for hidden complications in his internal organs, but even if he has a hidden problem or two, the surgery will still go forward. The upcoming tests are noninvasive - ultrasounds and stuff. Today my sister-in-law came with me; she's a nurse and she helped with the infodump by knowing how to listen to medical professionals. And it was a joy to see two of his cousins on the way home.

This is going to be all right.

By the way, the open invitation to invite yourself over still stands. Just call first if you can come visit, because our schedule is starting to have a few things on it.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Mama uses her alone time to clean

This will be a short entry. I have 1 hour to clean the kitchen before Daddy and the Cloud come home from driving around aimlessly. I meant to clean the kitchen last night after he fell asleep, but guess what - I fell asleep too. And melted a pot of bottle nipples that were being sterilized in boiling water. Fortunately Rick found them before the house burned down. Also fortunately, not every nipple was in the pot.

Today we spent a lot of time outdoors. It was a beautiful day. If I were able to spend hours per day doing yardwork, I'd have plenty to keep me busy. Forgive us for having a neglected-looking yard.

Hey, if anyone has some time free on a weekday and wants to drop in, please invite yourself over. Please please! I'll make lunch! Lunch might be cream of wheat... but I'll make it!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Firsts!

Yesterday AwesomeCloud went to his first street fair. He had clam chowder for the first time and loved it, although he had trouble with the soupyness of soup.

Then he went to his first rock concert. It was at the Forestdale Baptist church. Our friends, the minister's wife and family, invited us. The first band was made of teenagers, including the son of the minister and his wife. They were very good; we were impressed! The second was a Christian blues band. (Hey, we like music of all kinds.) AwesomeCloud had an awesome time, rocking from side to side and joining in with his rattle.

Today he started using the "d" sound regularly for the first time. He said "da dee" to the contractor. Then later, he said "da da" to his dad.

He also reached up to signal he wanted to be picked up for the first time.

That one moves me the most. He's making gestures to us to communicate what he wants us to do. He's not just bursting into tears at the realization that he lacks something. In fact, he doesn't shed tears at all. He just looks at his parent and raises his arms, all calm-like. It's the most amazing thing.

Now if only he could get control of himself at mealtime when the food appears... I mean, we're not waving food around to torment him or anything. He will get to eat it. He calms down as soon as the first few spoonfuls go in. It's just the beginning part that makes him go crazy.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Regression day is over!

Today was much better. Not perfect, not even great, but it did rain practically all day so we were both a little moody.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Total regression day

Today is total regression day. When AwesomeCloud is not asleep, he's crying violently. Sometimes super-violently. He even cries when he eats, which, these days, is pretty unusual. He refuses to do anything - his only action is to flop over.

Mama needs a break something terrible. Terrible, I say.

Tomorrow needs to be better because I need to take him to my boss's house and keep him quiet for 2 or 3 hours. I think this plan is ill-conceived and I wish my boss would volunteer to do the filing himself. But he has not.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Adoption clinic

Whew! What a day. We went up to the Adoption Clinic in Boston.

All in all, it went well. Dr. Miller and her assistant were very gentle and kind and I was pleased to spend the afternoon with them. AwesomeCloud was as tolerant as one could hope, even during the unpleasant parts. Except the blood drawing, but the blood drawing was brutal. We held him down and stuck a needle in him and drew enough vials of blood to make Mama cringe. Who could be in a good mood after that?

I also think I was starting to feel over-advised. The MDs gave me lots and lots of advice, and I kept getting the unhelpful urge to argue with them. That suggestion is not in my comfort zone! I haven't been doing too badly in that area so far! But he likes that food! Everybody feels defensive sometimes. I'm well aware that I need advice, lots of it. But maybe I hit a threshold today, and/or it was rainy and stressful. I successfully reminded myself that Dr. Miller is an expert, one of the finest, and she's telling me all this stuff to help the kiddo, not to criticize me.

Now that it's over and the advice belongs to me, I'm cool with it all. It's just hard to spend weeks and weeks getting inundated with advice, some you asked for and some you didn't, some from medical pros and some from other parents. Even if the advice is largely good, even if it contains some gems that help you through your day and solve daunting problems, it can be hard on the ol' ego to be the advice-getter all the time.

It's enough to make me vow even harder not to dole out unsolicited advice. Although I love to share my wisdom out of the goodness of my heart. But, y'know, everyone loves that. The recipient's feelings are more important. The baby's well-being is most important of all, of course. But I think Dr. Miller gave me some great guidance, and I'm confident that we're doing all right.

Her diet advice was complicated, so AwesomeCloud mealtimes are going to change in multiple ways. Canola oil will be my new favorite ingredient. I actually don't use canola oil much for us grown-ups because I love olive oil so much. It's really a small change that feels like a big one.

There are a bunch of other food-related things that I've been doing almost right. Small changes, all of them. They just feel big.

His mealtime schedule got badly disrupted today, due to the 11:00 appointment that went on till 3:00. Tomorrow will be better!

Gah, I'm tired.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The cousins

Yesterday we paid a visit to my BiL and SiL and their four boys. The boys have been very excited to meet their new cousin from China. They were very, very good with him, especially the two middle boys, who were falling all over each other vying for AwesomeCloud's attention. AwesomeCloud himself did very well, all things considered. I think the boys were a bit disappointed that he doesn't speak and isn't more interactive... but... well. We all get used to reality after a while.

We then ordered Chinese food and discovered that AwesomeCloud's cousins need more exposure to Chinese food before they can enjoy it properly. BiL remarked that children without a lot of siblings seem to have a wider range of tastes, while members of large sibling groups tend to be pickier. He thinks it's due to the amount of attention a child gets in regards to meals. Can anybody out there support or refute this claim? Every child is an individual, certainly, but it would be interesting to learn more about that trend.

AwesomeCloud ate his Chinese food like a pro! Sort of. One cousin observed that, being Chinese, he was probably used to Chinese food already. Gotta agree. He stole a string bean off my plate and chowed down on it as we all cooed and giggled at him. When he stole my hot pepper, however, it wasn't as funny. Fortunately the pepper never met his mouth.

I like boys. I have no nieces to compare AwesomeCloud with, only my 6 nephews, but I really love my nephews. They're just great little people.

Today Daddy took the kiddo back for another visit, just the two of them, while I cleaned house and hauled boxes upstairs. Then the social worker came by for her post-adoption visit. AwesomeCloud was a perfect, giggly, playful little angel the whole time she was here. He showed off his best moves - blowing kisses, rolling a ball across the floor, eating his rice and sweet potatoes without spilling a drop. It was an extraordinarily positive visit - but he really is a little sweetie, and he's pretty good with strangers in general, and his attachment to us and joie de vivre are genuine.

Right after the social worker left, we had a spectacularly bad diaper issue. The kind that sends Mama running for the shower first chance she gets. No details need repeating. Just trust me when I say it's a good thing he didn't start the mess sooner.

After that, I intended to take him to the mall, but he screamed when I took him out of the car seat. Okay! No mall for us! Instead, I drove to Dennis and back. Then I let him crawl around the living room, which turned into him crawling around the house.

You know, four days ago he couldn't stand on all fours and was mortally terrified of the floor.

Now he's like a real baby, the kind you hear about from other mommies, zooming around underfoot and touching everything he shouldn't. Kinda weird. We're starting to be... dare I say it... typical.

(Now if only I can get him to say 'drosophila' as his first word, we can break that trend. Unfortunately for me, I suspect his first word will be 'cat'. He made the 'k' sound today, and he's eternally fascinated by the cats walking up and down and all around.)

Tomorrow we get his titers tested by the adoption specialist. Hope for titers! Lots of them! The more titers he has, the fewer vaccination redos he'll need. He got lots of shots in China, but I was informed that the Chinese don't always do it right and they have to be redone.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Daddy, baby, cat



Daddy enjoys reading to AwesomeCloud at night before bed. Trixie enjoys being the center of everyone's attention, especially when there's a lap to be had. Mama took a momentary break from cleaning the house to dig out the camera and snap this picture.

This morning AwesomeCloud was in the mood for cat toys on the living room floor. As long as there are cat toys to play with, he's happy to be on the floor. It's a miracle! Trixie, again, had to be in the middle of things. Although she didn't bat around any cat toys, she insisted on sitting in the middle of the floor and make the rest of us play around her. Silly cat.

There was also much dancing and giggling, and I think the kiddo's legs are getting stronger every day. Pretty soon I'll be able to announce his first steps.

The real AwesomeCloud is starting to come out, I think. And he's a delightful little guy.

(Now if only I could kick the new-mommy fatigue, which is entirely separate from whether or not the Cloud is an awesome kid.)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Eco-baby!

I just spent $180 on cloth diapers, plus a hanging cloth diaper bin so that we won't have yet another bulky plastic bin getting in the way of everything.

Babies use soooo many diapers, and I use cloth, um, accessories for me and love them, and 'disposable' does not mean 'biodegradable', so it seemed like the obvious choice. In a week I'll tell you how it goes.

I was looking at little glass baby food jars marked 'bananas' and 'apples' and thinking that they use an awful lot of jar per unit of food. He's on a soft-food diet at the moment, and baby food is the obvious way to go, but it occurred to me that those little glass jars accumulate quickly.

So I bought a great big jar of regular store-brand applesauce. And fresh bananas go for $0.29 at Trader Joe's. Next on the list: boil and mash my own sweet potato.

I wonder how to do my own corn. I'll need the blender, huh?

Today we learned to kick a tree. I'd push the stroller up to the trunk of a tree and say, "Kick a tree!" He'd give it a little *kick* with his little foot and giggle.

He also crawled for the first time. I put him on the floor, again, even though he hates it there. As usual, he devolved into an ocean of tears and drool. (Mostly drool.) I tried several things to distract him, but nothing worked - he kept screaming and screaming and soaking the rug. And then Melody showed up. So I rolled a jingle ball cat toy over to her. Hey, if I can't play with the kiddo, I can try to play with the cat.

Suddenly I had AwesomeCloud's attention.

Melody plays a mean game of jingle ball. She gets really into it. I guess fun begets fun, because pretty soon the kiddo had forgotten his crying jag and just had to have a jingle ball of his own.

I do chase stray jingle balls, but when I'm up against a cat and a baby, there's only so much I can do. AwesomeCloud started to have to chase his own jingle balls. Voila! Crawling!

He's really bad at it. But you have to start somewhere. He has to start by getting over his detestation of the floor. Can't crawl very far in a playpen, after all!

So, maybe it will get easier from here. At the moment, being on the floor makes him fall apart so utterly and thoroughly that it's very hard to steel myself and put him down anyway. It really is like death throes, at least to the observer. I have no idea why he reacts so strongly, or the best way to go about ridding him of his floor-terror. Did a floor bite him once when he was younger? Maybe his nightmares involve floors chasing him with big gaping maws and flashing teeth.

Dogs, those are fine. Huge roaring trucks - eh. The builder's power tools? *yawn*

But floors.... eeek!

Baby pics


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Sweet, wonderful tap water!

Look! I'm drinking tap water! Bwahahaha! And so is my baby! BWAAA-hahaha!

Barnstable tap water is delicious - among the top 5 municipal waters in the state. Having to avoid the water in China was a real blow. I'm so happy to have my cool, clean, perfectly potable water back.

AwesomeCloud is having a tough day. I'm trying to bang out a significant amount of my work, so he's getting far more crib time than he desires. Our friend Maryellen lent us a playpen, which is a huge help, but the crib is closer to my workstation while the playpen is too close to the construction workers. Soon things will change. When the renovations are done, my work computer and the playpen will go upstairs.

I think he fell asleep. OMG I'm so tired... but I should work more.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Little bits of good news

The pediatrician told us we can expect AwesomeCloud to take 2 or 3 weeks to get over his jet lag, and in the meantime we can just cope. "You'll survive. A soldier finds a way to get up and march some more. You can too."

Good line! Compared to combat soldiers, we have it real easy.

Guess what happened then: he slept practically the whole night. So did we.

(I must confess to some cheating. His daily routine said he gets a bottle before bed, and I've discovered that a bottle calms him much better than rocking and singing. We still try rocking and singing, but the bottle's the thing. I gave him one before bed last night and another when he woke up in the middle of the night. With maybe not as much rocking and singing as was physically possible.)

Small improvements:

This morning he was singing along to the musical toy. It wasn't real babble; just "Ah ah ah ah" still, but he was doing it at the same time as the toy was beeping. That counts as singing along to me.

He looked at Trixie and said, "Dat." Okay, still not quite astrophysics, and it might just be wishful thinking on my part, but when I write it out, it sounds like he was beginning to identify objects by their names. I will leave you with that highly optimistic assumption.

He held onto my shoulder when I picked him up. The elbow in my chest is still not a thing of the past, however. Geez, I wish he'd learned the shoulder grabbing trick when we were rushing about in the airports.

Lack of improvement:

I thought I had a good way for him to hang out with me while I work today. Alas, he was not into it. As he was screaming equally loudly whether I had him alone in the crib or next to me, I stuck him in the crib again. Sorry, Cloud. I'd like to stop doing that and turn worktime into Mama-baby hangout time, but the crib is the safer place for you to be when I have my hands full if you must be uncooperative.

My friend Lori brought a delicious hot dinner of mac&cheese, caesar salad, and berry cobbler over last night. The cobbler has become my #1 comfort food and is already 1/3 gone. *blush* She knows how ubiquitous those post-baby moments are:

Husband: "What are we eating tonight?"

Wife: "Umm... I guess I should cook something..." *collapse*


AwesomeCloud and I just had a nature lesson. We sat in the sun on the front stoop and crushed some dead leaves.

I'm tired, and still a little blue, and though AwesomeCloud won't willingly take a nap, I have laundry to do and dishes to wash. I'm slowly getting the house back in order. I scrubbed the cats' food corner clean; it gets so filthy when anyone but me feeds them, and after 3 weeks' absence, it was quite a mess. The trick is to not give them too much food at once. If they have too much, they happily splatter it all over and then it dries and turns disgusting. If there's just enough, they're careful not to lose a single crumb. Cats aren't completely dumb.

I also must remark on my amusement at how similar a pediatrician visit is to a vet visit. Some people may disparage the idea of getting a pet as a preparation for parenthood, but there is some wisdom to learning your way around caring for a dog or a cat before you get an actual baby. There are still plenty of new skills to learn that a pet can't help you with!

Also, babies still don't purr. Sometimes they giggle, which is great, but I'm partial to the whole purring thing.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Worst. Night. Ever.

Oh, but he's an angel now. We took a stroll to see the horses and I counted to 100 twice in Chinese for him. He enjoyed his breakfast and didn't even panic when I ate in front of him.

Oops. Now I have to work, and he's having a meltdown just in time. Sorry kiddo, but you're safe in the crib and Mama has some money to earn. I'd been planning to sit him next to the computer in the stroller and occasionally hand toys to him, but he very loudly wanted OUT. So, to the crib he goes.

He's crying, but he'll probably fall asleep soon. Lord knows he didn't sleep last night, even after we tried all day to wear him out. He tried to pull another all-nighter, but neither one of his parents were willing to stay up with him. Daddy had to work today, and could've used the sleep. I fell asleep early, but was so groggy when I woke up at midnight that I could neither fall asleep again nor do anything useful.

Today's mission, again, is to keep him awake all day. I have failed again - he's sound asleep, and I'm stuck working.

He's got to get over his jet lag sometime, right? It seems like the harder I try, the more he slides backwards. Everything has backfired.

I'll post some pics of him later, after I've found the flash drive.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The resemblance is uncanny

We took AwesomeCloud out today. Being pushed in the stroller is still his very favorite activity. He's happy doing it for hours rather than minutes.

Passers-by don't know he's Asian. It's the strangest thing. I think, though, that it's because he somewhat resembles my husband, rather than that he doesn't look Asian. He has big, round, brown eyes like my husband. He has very little hair, but when he does get hair it will be silky and black like his dad's. His complexion is very fair, certainly well within the realm of the complexion of a white person with dark hair.

The manager at Friendly's was surprised to learn he was adopted. We explained to her that his screaming was due to confusion about how restaurants worked - he got upset because he didn't receive food the minute we sat down. Her conclusion was that we were a foreign family. (With perfect New England accents! Oh well.)

We were actually pretty amused by his behavior in Friendly's. The waitresses all gathered around with suggestions and concern, and crayons, and packets of jelly. We told them AwesomeCloud was new to this whole restaurant thing, new to the whole country even, and that he would cry until his potatoes arrived. But we didn't want his potatoes to be delivered early, because then the poor kid would have to watch us eat when he was done, and that's never any fun! Who likes to sit and do nothing in a restaurant? Not I. Not him, either.

He cried when he was done, too, as usual. An empty bowl, no matter how big, is a tragedy. But he stopped as soon as I carried him away from the table. Out of sight, out of mind; and besides, his tummy was full. He ate a lot of mashed potatoes. Plenty of carbs, just as Dr. Gong the Nanjing pediatrician ordered.

We strolled around in Chatham afterwards, and saw some harbor seals. When we got home, I put him for a nap, but he had trouble falling asleep... maybe because the contractor is here, nailing my bamboo floor down with a fancy nailgun that makes house-shaking bursts of noise with every blow. I'm shocked that AwesomeCloud ever fell asleep at all. I hope he's not just lying there in silent terror. He looks genuinely asleep.

I should nap too, but... um... nailgun.

The long night of babytending

So far so good! It's 3:00 AM and we've had three walks in the stroller, two sit-down meals, two internet sessions, and now he's just starting his second nap for the night.

Tomorrow I'm taking him to the mall, or maybe downtown Hyannis or Falmouth where all the tourist shops are, so that he will not sleep the day away.

He's still whimpering in his crib. Hopefully he'll settle down. I'm taking this time to prep some of his medical supplies and fold laundry. Mama's got a house to maintain, kiddo.

I've been half-jokingly saying I have post-partum depression. I'm also occasionally having doubts. I suppose it's common for new parents to have doubts.There may be those individuals whose calling for parenthood is so strong that they're still consumed by the joy of it after the sleep dep has worn them down, after countless episodes of the baby crying for no apparent reason. My convictions are not so strong. They allow me to feel periodic doubt. Maybe I wasn't cut out for parenthood. Maybe I don't have enough patience or energy. Maybe I'm prone to neglectful habits, like putting him in his crib at 3:00 AM when I know he's not the least bit tired. He's not doing anything horrible, not rejecting me or starving himself or throwing things at the cats. He just cries frequently, sometimes over nothing I can identify. He just isn't that attached to me yet. Love has conquered greater challenges than this. Yet all I want is for him to be quiet, stop crying so much, be more communicative about what's bothering him, stay on my lap for more than 5 minutes or at least be happier elsewhere if he really must get off me.

I wonder if I'm just better suited for cats.

Speaking of cats, what a huge comfort my cats have been. It's strange to say that my cats are helping me cope with the baby. But I already have relationships with my cats. The hard parts with them ended years ago.

And it's really very simple. I touch the baby, he cries. I touch the cats, they purr.

The baby doesn't know where he wants to be, but after 5 or 10 minutes, he's certain he wants to be somewhere else. The cats jump up on my lap and are genuinely, silently happy to be there.

There's probably nothing very profound going on here, though. I just need to establish the basics. AwesomeCloud needs to grow comfortably familiar with his new surroundings. I have to learn what calms him and become proficient at doing those things. We need a regular routine and I need to know he can sleep through the night so that I may sleep through the night, too.

Someday the renovations will be done and that will make me happier, too.