Friday, November 28, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Our Thanksgiving has been full of ups and downs (mostly ups). I've spent hours in traffic, been pulled over and ticketed, enjoyed the company of grandparents and great-grandparents, had an abundance of wonderful food, delighted in my son's squeals of laughter, watched River and his grandfather build together and share turkey sandwiches, been woken by a sick toddler for hours and hours, and shared a warm snuggle with the love of my life. I couldn't be more thankful.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

happy thoughts

Thom's home and all is right with the world.

On a completely different note, I bought my first real pair of winter boots today and they rock! What have I been doing all these years with stupid Payless knock-offs? No more! The foot rebellion has begun!

(As you can see, I'm still a little tired from this past week....)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

day... what the hell day is this? my brain is dead

I guess we're on day 3 of 4. Doing okay, but... no I can't finish that sentence. Tried to come up with something witty, but all I'm hearing is a giant WRRRR WRRRR WRRRR sound in my brain. Baby still alive. Patience nearly gone. Where's the beer?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

day one: so far... okay

River had a good day yesterday - we played at the park, both had good naps, and went to the toddler group at Stellabella in the afternoon. River seems to have an aversion to the group sing along, though, because as soon as the free play part is over and we get in a circle to sing, he starts a litany of "go, go, go." Poor guy bangs on the door like an inmate. This is torture. Don't make me siiiiiinnngg!

Last night Kevin and Crystal were kind enough to let us over and cook dinner so I didn't have that extra task on my plate. Plus it filled up the roughest last couple hours of the day. He went to sleep pretty easy - not a surprise considering how much activity we'd had during the day.

One short wake up in the middle of the night, and up at 6:2oam. A pretty good start.

Today has been a bit rougher, so far. River is already missing his dad and acting out in silly ways. More clingy, needing to be carried more, fussier at meals. But he's down for his nap now, and I hope the rest of the afternoon goes a little bit better.

I've taken a new zen approach to meltdowns. This morning we went to Darwin's for breakfast before heading to the Natural History Museum for a playdate with my moms' group. After a short time in Darwin's he was begging to, "Go, go, go." It was too early to go to the museum and too cold to just hang out outside, so I held off as long as possible. Finally, when it seemed like we'd killed enough time, I tried to get his snow suit on so we could get out the door, but he went limp and wouldn't cooperate. Instead of fighting him and manhandling the suit on, I called his bluff.

"Fine, you don't want to go? I'm okay sitting here and finishing my coffee." He looked totally confused that I wasn't playing into his hand, and just sat there for a minute. After a little while he was ready and put on the suit with no complaints. Chalk one up for the mommy!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

single mom for a week

This should be an interesting week - and by interesting I mean it could be like that visit to the dentist office where you unexpectedly run into an old friend or you end up needing a three hour root canal. A grab bag of fun!

Thom left for work this morning and, because of some intense out of town meetings he's running, he won't be back until Friday evening. That means it's just me and River with no buffer for four days and three nights.

River's been doing a great job of sleeping through the night lately (knock on wood), but even when he is his most cooperative and cute, I still feel pretty wiped out by 6pm. Getting through those last few hours without Thom is hard, and getting through them three nights in a row is almost unthinkable.

Still, I've prepared myself as best as possible. I'm putting low expectations on myself in terms of housework and projects, I'm vowing to nap, and I've planned playdates/outings for every day this week. That should keep us from going stir crazy with boredom, and having other moms and babies around always takes some of the pressure off.

If I don't post much this week don't assume the worst. River and I could be having a grand time - too much fun to sit down on the boring computer. Or I could be crying in the corner hugging a bottle of vodka. You never know.

Friday, November 14, 2008

a conversation

This morning I was laying in bed awake (as I had been since 4:30am), and after finding out I was feeling restless and a little stressed, Thom asked what was on my mind. "The usual stuff," I said, "finding a sitter and getting the house ready for company at Thanksgiving."

Thom: Well, what needs to be done on the house?

Me: I don't know. I just wish things were a little more organized.

Thom: Like what?

Me: Our bedroom closets, the linen closet.

Thom: Oh yeah, 'cause the family is going to be so disappointed in your messy linen closet.

Me: It's just that I can't even put out nice towels because it's so messy I can't find matching ones.

Thom: ...

Me: ...

Thom: ...

Me: Yes. I know I'm crazy.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

do unto others...

On the same night there was so much to celebrate, the state of California found itself with so much to mourn. Proposition 8, which took away the constitutional right for gay people to marry, is such a horrible injustice. Keith Olbermann has expressed so eloquently what I am feeling about this vote:

If you feel the way I do and would like to take action, go to The Courage Campaign and find out what you can do to help.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Adventures in language pt 2: Friends

Our old neighbors, The J's, have been such great friends to all of us over the past year. Dinners, playdates, and swim outings have been just a few of the events our families have shared together. This Halloween we got together to watch the boys squirm in their seats, run around, and generally create havoc at a showing of It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. It was the first movie either wild child had been to, so we weren't too surprised when they only lasted a half an hour. All in all a fun trip.

The most exciting thing to come from that evening was when River called his friend by name. "Jackson" has been "Jack-Jack" since then, and every time we pass their house or mention them, River starts a chorus of "Jack-Jack." Yesterday I told River he would get to have a playdate with his friend this morning and we've heard his name chanted and praised intermittently since then.

I dropped River off at the J's house in the morning and he ran into the living room searching for his buddy. (I took the opportunity to sit down and read a newspaper for the first time in over a year and get some speed winter clothes shopping done.) When I came back to pick him up a few hours later, River looked liked he'd had the time of his life.

"Time to say goodbye, honey."

"Bye-bye," was the refrain, followed by the cutest hugs and kisses I could imagine.

I love that River has a friend, that he is so familiar with another little person just his age, and that they will be able to form lasting memories long into the future. It's such a gift for all of us.

There will be more friends, more names for him to learn, more adventures to be had, but there is something so special about the first.

(River, Jackson, and Finn, from this past summer)

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Adventures in language

Yesterday as we walked toward one of our favorite coffee shops, River started chanting the name of the owner. He said, "Paul, Paul, Paul," as we walked through the door, "Paul, Paul, Paul," as Not-Paul took our order, and "Paul, Paul, Paul," as I explained that Paul was off for the day and we could see him tomorrow. We don't get over to this coffee shop as much as we used to because it's a little further from our new house, but still, every Saturday morning we have a date with Paul's Petsi Pies. Thom loves the "Charlie Sandwich" (eggs, cheddar, chorizo, and tobasco), River loves the blueberry muffins and fruit, and I love the atmosphere (and iced mochas).

As we were enjoying our muffin and mocha yesterday afternoon, Thom called to let us know his schedule for the evening (late flight and probably not home until after nine). Since River wouldn't get to see his dad that day, I put him on the phone so daddy could say hi. Once he heard his dad's voice, however, it was River who did all the talking, saying, "Hi, hi, hi," and then, "Hi, hi, hi," and then again, "Hi, hi, hi."

I often forget that I get to hear all of River's booming language before anyone else, and he repeats new words so often that it only takes 10 minutes for a new word to become old to me.

So when Thom came home last night and asked, "Was that River talking on the phone?" I was a little surprised.

"Yeah, didn't you hear him say 'hi'?"

"I didn't know he could say 'hi'."

"Yeah, 'hi' and 'bye bye'."

"But he talked on the phone. He used the phone just like you're supposed to."

"Oh, yeah. That's pretty cool, huh?"

Pretty soon he'll be putting words together to make little sentences. Then his lisp will disappear and he'll be able to say all the consonants. Like his tentative first steps, which have now turned into confidant strides, his language will get more and more clear until we don't even notice what an accomplishment it is for him to say "garbage truck" or "cognitive dissonance."

Over the past few months I've been keeping a list of all the words River says, but since he's learning up to 5 or 10 new words a day, it's getting harder and harder to keep track. So for posterity's sake, here is the list of 50 or so of River's first words. It'll give you a pretty good idea of where his interests lie. (I've highlighted my favorites.)

choo choo
Poe Poe
tow truck
Bob Bob (bob the builder)
uh oh
bye bye

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Hail to the Chief!

When I hear the news a few minutes after 11pm, I break out in tears. Thom raises his glass to cheer the new president, but I can't get my arms to work in response. I'm afraid if I move, or even breathe too deeply, this beautiful moment will wash away like a dream, so unbelievable does it seem. Months of campaigning, hundreds of polls, and even John Stewart's jubilant voice can't quite convince me the moment is actually happening.

Finally, after what seems like eternity, I raise my glass to Thom's and we help ring in a new era.

These are two of my favorite moments from what was truly a remarkable victory speech:

There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who wont agree with every decision or policy I make as President, and we know that government can't solve every problem. But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And above all, I will ask you join in the work of remaking this nation the only way its been done in America for two-hundred and twenty-one years - block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.

What began twenty-one months ago in the depths of winter must not end on this autumn night. This victory alone is not the change we seek - it is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It cannot happen without you.

So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism; of service and responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other. Let us remember that if this financial crisis taught us anything, its that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers - in this country, we rise or fall as one nation; as one people.

And: all those who have wondered if America's beacon still burns as bright - tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from our the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope.

For that is the true genius of America - that America can change. Our union can be perfected. And what we have already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election Day, or, Sorry to piss you off Dad

Today is the day people. Thom and I took River out early and stood in line at the polls with all those other elitist New England liberals (har har). After eight years of living with a government that has pummeled our civil liberties, engaged in and botched two horrible wars, and allowed companies like Haliburton to profit from these tragedies I am so ready for a change. I was aghast in 2000, utterly confused and horrified in 2004, and, my god, I am not ready for that kind of disappointment in 2008.

We are on the precipice of a great moment in history. Please, America, don't fuck this up.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

River News: Month Nineteen

Dear River,

Today you are 19 months old. Did I just say that? NINETEEN MONTHS?! That's just a hop skip and a jump away from TWO. And while I can't say it feels like just yesterday I was holding you in my arms on your first day of life, I still can't believe the monumental leaps you've taken in this past year and a half.

Thinking about your age makes me wonder how long I'll be writing these monthly letters. I'm not sure; I haven't really planned it out. Maybe it'll start to make more sense to do quarterly updates, or maybe you'll be thirty-six and still get a newsletter from me at the end of every month. "This month, River, you turned 432 months old and you didn't call me. Love, Mom." I think that would be pretty hilarious.

We have had a really good week, you and I. After months and months of being wound more tight than Nicole Kidman's face, I finally feel myself easing back into the joyful, playful mommy I once was. This move has been both amazingly wonderful and unbelievably grueling. And I know having a mommy who is distracted, stressed-out, and short-tempered has not been fun, so I'm sorry. I'm sorry for the times I snapped at you, sorry for the books we didn't get to read together, sorry for the many trips to Home Depot that bored you to death, and sorry for not being what every mother endeavors: Supermom. Sometimes I can't be it all and do it all. I want you to know that more than anything in the world, I try. I try to make you laugh, to help you learn and grow, to make our home a safe, happy place. Then I fail, and I try again.

In spite of all of my doubts and self-criticism, I must be doing something right because you are just the most delightful little boy a mom could ask for. This month you have learned how to kiss. And you practice on everything. You kiss toys, pumpkins, the cats, people you know and people you don't. We're trying to get you to keep your lips puckered and closed, but often you will attack your prey with a full, open-mouthed, slobbery whopper. Your uncle Kevin is particularly concerned when you do this to Finn, directing you to his cheek while crying, "No kissing cousins! No kissing cousins!"

You not only love to kiss, you love to get kisses and take advantage of every opportunity--the smallest scrape or bump--to get a kiss from mommy and daddy. I have to say I love this show of affection. Your mommy, if you haven't figured out by now, is a cuddler and craves physical contact. I'm sure it's a large part of why I haven't felt the need to wean you any sooner.

But to everything (turn turn turn) there is a season. And this is ours. Last Saturday the three of us sat down to a celebratory dinner and said our goodbyes to nursing. We remembered good times we'd had nursing and talked about the great ways it's helped you grow. We shared funny stories and painful ones, and we talked about what a great big step toward independence weaning would be. Of course all of this was just a bunch of "blah, blah, blah, boobies" to you, but I think it helped me make a transition. That evening we had our last nurse, and while I miss it (a lot), I know that it was the right thing to do.

You are still struggling. This morning you woke up crying and asked to nurse. When I shook my head no you sobbed and sobbed. I held you as you grieved, wishing so much I could do more. It was so hard to not be able to comfort you in the way you wanted. So hard to let go of that intimate physical connection we've shared since the moment of your birth. My mom likens it to quitting drugs and I can see the truth in that analogy. We're both coming down from a high, having withdrawals, and feeling deprived and sad.

But we will see our way through this and--as sad as it makes me to say this--there will come a time when you don't crave it everyday, when you don't think about it that often, and finally, when you forget altogether that we ever nursed.

This was, of course, the month of Halloween and I figured you were still too young to have any say in what costume you wore. How silly of me. We went to the thrift store to see what we could find (since I didn't have enough time to make one from scratch and couldn't find a pre-made one I liked). Around and around we went, looking for something that could be turned into a fun costume for you. You spotted this green and yellow jumpsuit and immediately said, "Turtle!" Well, it looked like it had once been a turtle suit, the shell long gone, but I figured I could remedy that.

We got your turtle suit and you didn't take that thing off for four days. You wore it to the fabric store where you helped pick out fabric to make the shell. You wore it to the playground, grocery store, library, scary story hour, and the movies (It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!). The shell--which I lovingly sewed for you--you wore for all of thirty seconds. You loved to look at it, and made me carry it with us wherever we went, but as soon as it hit your back you started a litany of, "off, off, off," until it was indeed off. Oh well. Half a costume ain't so bad.

Since I wasn't up for making three whole turtle costumes, mom and dad decided to stick with the theme of "River's Favorite Things." Daddy was a fireman and mom was Bobbie the Builder. You loved to see dad in his yellow coat and shouted "Bob! Bob!" every time you saw my tool belt and hard hat. It was so much fun to see you get into Halloween this year - to enjoy the fantasy play, the pumpkins, and yes, even the candy.

Happy Nineteen Months, My Wonderful Little Man!

I love you,