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 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


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)


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


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.