Thursday, December 27, 2007

Baby's First Sensory Overload

This may not be the optimum time to blog, as Mike and I went to Gooski's tonight and I had The Dreaded Third Drink. That being said, I wanted to post a few photos and a bit of info about Baby's First Christmas.

Mike and I drove to Elyria with all our gifts in tow. That means the stuff we got each other as well as the stuff we got my family. Mike tried to pack the car but I had to use my supernatural powers to fit everything into the trunk and front seat. One more item--even a gift card--and we would have needed bungee cords. The trip to Ohio was quick and the boy slept thru most of it, which is good as we went off the board and opened presents that evening instead of waiting for the morning.

My family has always been of the More is More school of Christmas. My husband, as one of 5, grew up with a more reasonable approach to Christmas but he knew darn well that my Mom's warnings that there "would'nt be much this year" was all poppycock. Donovan got a ton of stuff, including a wooden train that spells out his name, new pajamas, a classic Fisher Price telephone, and (from his Mom and Dad) a two octave Schoenhut piano. By far the most popular toy was my Dad's oxygen hose, which ended up being a good bonding experience for him and The Boy. Between that and my Dad's cane, Donny kept himself well amused. The visit was also marked by Donovan's success at standing up. Note the Betty Boop Starlet legs in this photo. Hard to believe Donovan's nickname used to be Mr. Chickenlegs.

After the gift exchange, Mike and I put Donovan upstairs but there was no sleep to be had. We ended up cloistered in my old bedroom with a fussy baby, a hunk of cheese and a bottle of Boones Farm Sangria that my husband picked up when he made an Enfamil run earlier that night (holding up the bottle and the can of Similac he famously asked, "Guess which one cost more?"). It was funny to have a night of misspent youth in the room where I squandered my adolescence by being Too Good. Luckily the boy slept thru that part of the evening so I don't think we corrupted him.

We left Elyria the day after Christmas to have dinner at Mike's folks' house. Donny was, as usual, a perfect guest and he got a few more gifts, including the classic books "Moo! I'm a Cow!, and "Oink! I'm a Pig!" By the time we got home there was, again, no sleep to be had. I found myself getting mad at the poor kid and I had to pass him off to Mike at one point. We finally got him to sleep at about midnight, roughly 3 hours past his normal bedtime. I guess I can't blame him, with the holidays and all, but we were all tired and cranky. The trip home was good but I worry about my family and my Mom somehow had neglected to tell me that the thyroid trouble she's having might actually be thyroid cancer. She's going to have a biopsy next week and I just hope they are quick with the results. We Benfords are champion worriers and, presented with such classic worry fodder, well, the possibilities are limitless. Despite all that, she got alot of grandson time and tried to distract me while we were packing so that we might forget him. I did'nt forget my kid but I did forget my perscriptions: thanks alot, Ma...

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Oh, The All of it All!

This now, more later. Hope everyone had a great holiday.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Life, As We Know It, Will Soon Be Over

Dr. Levine told us that some babies go straight from trying to crawl to standing and walking. All that buttwaggling the boy was doing, we thought it was winding up to crawl. Instead it was working to stand. The only place he's successfully stood thus far is his crib but he's constantly looking for surfaces to grab on and hoist himself up. The glee on his face in the photo tells the tale: he knows what he's going to do when he's mobile and it will probably involve catfur, electrical outlets and antique glassware.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Mike just sent me an email here at work: we got a call from our church asking if we could play Mary and Joseph in the First Unitarian Christmas pageant. Donovan, of course, would be the ingenue starring as Baby Jesus. This hi-LAR-ious scenario was nixed by the fact that we will be in Elyria for Christmas Eve.

Man. I keep thinking about it and it keeps getting funnier and funnier.

Do you think they would have let us use a real donkey? I might blow off my folks for a chance at riding a real donkey.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

It Feels More Like a Grain of Sand

First Tooth Alert! Its coming in on the bottom in front, which is apparently the classic first tooth. We have been assured by many that our nightmares have just begun and, while I would'nt classify it that way, its proving to be a late night tonight. Donny came home from his grandparents very happy but quickly came down with a fever and wanted desperately to sleep. We dosed him with Tylenol, changed him and I put him into his crib after about 1/2 an hour of rocking him. Long story short, its about an hour and a half later and we're just taking him downstairs. No point all three of us being trapped up here. Mike and I want to decorate the damn tree tonight so he'll need to sit in his carseat while we work. Also, tomorrow is a LUPEC party at my place. I'm so geeked about my theme but mad that I thought of it at the last damn minute. I did have all day to work on everything but that was'nt enough time. I was going to finish my baking while Donovan slept tonight: Oh Well.

Now its time to go down and decorate the tree. Ho ho ho.

Friday, December 14, 2007

A Nice Morning

Mike and I usually play tag team when it comes to getting Donny ready in the morning. He’ll bring him down, I’ll feed him while Mike showers, I pick out his outfit and Mike dresses him while I shower—that’s the usual scenario. This morning, tho, Mike had an early meeting at the store so it was just me and The Boy. Part of me was a little worried as I’m not really at my best in the morning but we had a very nice time. He was asleep when I went into the shower and, when I came out, I could hear him on the monitor fussing. I went upstairs in my robe and wet hair, got him out of his crib and he fell right back to sleep in my arms. I took him to our bedroom and held him a little bit before I laid him down on the bed so I could start getting dressed. Instead, we ended up goofing, spooning and playing with each other’s faces and hair for a little bit. I know that being a stay at home Mom is a lot of hard work but its times like this morning that I wish I did’nt have to go to work and that Donny’s schedule could be my schedule. It was nice to have a more leisurely morning instead of running around washing bottles and scraping ice off the windshield so we can all get to where we’re going. By the time Mike came back to pick us up, the boy was fed, dressed and ready to have his jacket put on and zipped up.

I’m actively trying not to panic as Christmas might as well be tonight for all the free time I don’t have. Tomorrow, Donovan is going to hang out with Mike’s folks for the day. My original plan was to make that a big Shopping Day, which it still needs to be, but I also have to prep for a LUPEC party at our place. I’m geeked for the party but there is so much that still needs to be done for Christmas—the tree is still undecorated, for example, and the shopping, oy the shopping

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Acting Out: Parts I and II

Donovan had his first fight today. Miss Tekela said that he and CJ "got into it," apparently over a toy that Donovan could reach but that CJ wanted. It sounds like CJ got in the first swing but that Donovan quickly fought dirty and grabbed a couple of handfuls of CJ's hair. There was much screaming and Miss Joy had to break it up. I, of course, wanted to know who won. Miss Tekela said it was pretty much a tie. She said CJ's Mom asked the same question, tho she was a bit more gracious, saying "We'll have to apologize to Donovan, now, won't we?...Who won?"

My son, the Polish Hill Bad Ass.

I think it would be very flaky and drug store psychology of me to say that Donovan is acting out because I'm not in the best frame of mind these days. I think he's just being an 8 month old. I, however, am not an 8 month old and I am definitely acting out because I'm not in the best frame of mind these days. Today at work was an Acting Out Extravaganza, from which I walked away blushing beet red inside. I broke of of my cardinal managerial rules, which is never to take someone to task in front of their coworkers--and this wasn't even someone I manage. In fact, if the world was fair and just, she would be managing my sorry ass. I have officially become part of the problem and I have a couple of apologetic phone calls to make tomorrow. I just hope I haven't damaged things beyond repair.

Tonight I'm going to clear my head by wrapping presents. Mike did, indeed, go out, which is what I was hoping he'd decide to do. No sense in having two people moping around the house. Donny was fussing in his sleep but he's quiet now so maybe it will all work out. The gift wrapping, that is.

Here's hoping the rest of it works out as well.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Its warm out tonight. Really warm. As in, "I'm standing outside without a coat in December in PITTSBURGH!" warm. There's this lovely little breeze blowing and everyone has their Christmas lights plugged in.

I hate it. And I hate everything.

I didn't realize how fed up I was until, driving home from meeting Mike at work, he asked, pseudo/joking sheepishly if he could go out Thursday night with some folks from work. I said yes but realized I was jealous. Where are all the folks I used to go out with? My favorite bar is literally a block away and I can't go. Oh, I could go alone and see who I'd run into but that's not really what I need. What I need is for someone to ask me if I'd like to go out for drinks and conversation. I can usually find a date if I call folks but I've reached the point where I'm starting to feel self conscious about always being the one to call, especially since everyone is super busy and can't come out and play.

I've had a few folks recently say, with much joy for me in their hearts, "I bet you can't imagine life before Donovan!" No offense to them or my kid but yes, I can imagaine it. It was good and sometimes I miss it.

On a lighter note we put up but did not yet decorate our tree. We are going to give it a night to warm up, drink up and unfurl.

How's that for a completely unintentional but apt metaphor?

Monday, December 10, 2007

No, We Don't Use Ajax...

Donovan had his picture taken today by a professional photographer. This photo, obviously, is not one of them but it shows what we did alot of in the week leading up to the photos, which is Scrub The Baby. Our house has a shower but no bathtub so we make do with what we can. When he was just a 5 pound squawker we would give him baths in a roasting pan so the sink is definately a step up. For those of you who have not seen our kitchen, it is lovely huge but ugly brown. Luckily we got an insurance check for damage due to a bad roofing job and that will help us remodel. Until then, please ignore the nastiness in the background. Luckily, you are most likely distracted by those Liza Minelli eyelashes the boy is sporting.

I am going to keep this short as I am all computered out. I won't tell you how long I spent on line trying to find some Baby's First Christmas pajamas for him to wear when we are in Ohio with my folks for Christmas. Really, I'm surprised my eyes arent bleeding. Who are all these people who buy such things in October? Is that what I'm expected to do as a mother? Wrong woman, people--wrong, wrong woman. I did find a pair, AND they were on sale. Now I'm going to hide under my bed

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Don't Mess With Polish Hill

The neighborhood we live in could go either way. I have to admit, 6 or whatever years ago when we bought the house, we were thinking more of access to Gooski’s and less about good school districts and safe sidewalks for learning to rollerskate. That being said, we are trying with what little time and effort we have left after parenthood and full time jobs to be good neighbors and citizens. Its tough and I don’t think I’m doing very well at it (who’s Christmas lights are up? Everyone’s but ours…) but I’m trying. I really want my kid to live in a nice place

So DON’T throw bags of trash from your pale gold Altima when you drive thru my neighborhood. I will SO report your ass to the Pittsburgh Litterbug Hotline. That’s exactly what I did when I got into work today. BTW, the number is 888-LITTERBUG. Once I hung up, I realize they didn’t take my name and contact info. I should call back and make sure they can get ahold of me when the felony trial comes up. I don’t know who you are, Altima Driving Asshole, but you are going up river. If I have my way you are going up all three rivers.


Saturday, December 1, 2007

Truth in Advertising

Donovan wore his new onesie to daycare yesterday. Aunt Shirley picked it up for him in Boston and (in case you can't quite read it) it says, "Chicks Dig Me." As his de facto agent, I'm here to tell you that chicks do, in fact, dig him. Alot. I've been told by a variety of people that we could be making money off of him. I know they mean modeling but I always hear the theme to "Midnight Cowboy" in my head whenever that subject is broached.

I think we'll just let him give it away for free. The cuteness, that is. Besides, who's got time to be a stage mom? Hell, I don't even have time to get a haircut...

Thursday, November 29, 2007

I'm Feeling Much Better. Please Stop Wiping My Nose.

If there was one more patterned object in that photo you would need protective eyewear.

First time playing after being down for the count with a cold.

Kid; Have You Rehabilitated Yourself?

I got so wrapped up in the ER visit that I completely neglected to say anything about our Thanksgiving and Post Thanksgiving socializing. I’m happy to say 2007 was Baby’s First Alice’s Restaurant thanks to the traditional airing of said song by WDVE. Donovan seemed nonplussed but he doesn’t know enough about Vietnam to really get the nuances.

I listened to Alice’s Restaurant, fittingly, while making the Fin de Siecle stuffing. That was the only thing I had to do this year as the in-laws had invited us up for dinner. Thanksgiving dinner there was a big deal as it was the first time that Donovan would meet Ceil. I’m not sure if “Ceil” is the proper spelling but it’s the short version of Cecelia. Ceil is a childhood friend of my mother-in-law so she has been a proxy Shanley for well over 70 years. If she likes you she LOVES you and, while the feeling is mutual, being pelted with compliments is a lot like being nibbled to death by ducks (to paraphrase Kenneth Anger describing how it feels to be sued by Scientologists…). ANYhow, Ceil loves babies and since we apparently have birthed a prime specimen, a list of the Ceil quotes of the evening would run something like this. Please apply a strong Pittsburghese accent:

“Oh my God, he’s gorgeous
“I can’t get over how gorgeous he is!”
“Martha, he’s beautiful!”
“I can’t get over how beautiful he is”
“He’s magnificent!”
“Oh my God, I can’t get over how beautiful he is!”

Repeat with slight variations and some pauses for turkey and pie. Continue for roughly 4 hours. And while I got a little weary with my “thank yous,” Donovan loved her and did his smiling, reaching, “for an adult you are fascinating!” routine. Which made me very happy. Plus, as Arlo would say, our Thanksgiving Dinner Could’nt Be Beat.

I put that envelope under that garbage…

Next on the agenda was a trip to Crafton for a post Thanksgiving party at the home of my sister-in-law’s cousin’s house. We had been there for a summer event a year or two ago and we knew to expect great food, wonderful atmosphere and great people. I was geeked to show off the boy but I realize now that he was starting to come down with whatever it is that he has. We drove out there when Mike was done with work and, when we got there, I realized I’d forgotten the diaper bag. The diaper bag that contained every baby lifeline you could think of: Enfamil, diapers, toys, Mama’s antacid. Mike dropped us off and went back to get the stuff and Donovan and I went in to meet and be greeted. He held up ok for the first few folks but then he had a quick meltdown. He hovered between happy and fussy the rest of the night, tho Dad coming with the food definitely helped. It ended up being a nice time and I’m awaiting incriminating photos of my son smoking a cigar. That’s right: “Donovan the Mogul.”

The next day Donny was officially sick but, as Amanda and Allison were in town, we all had to step up to the plate and make a visit. This time was particularly important as we only get to see them once a year and, who knows? By next year Donovan may not be cute. Strike while the iron is adorable, I always say. For a quick visit it was very nice with updates and laughing and damn good chocolates. Donny fussed a bit when his Aunt Shirley picked him up but, for a sick baby, he was otherwise on excellent behavior.

And speaking of excellent behavior: last night, Mike and I were prepared to keep him from napping before bed. We did’nt need to break out the espresso—the poor kid fell dead asleep at 9pm and stayed that way the whole night. WHEW.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Workin' the Night Shift

So, am I one of those mothers that lugs her kid to the emergency room everytime his poop changes color? I sort of felt like that today, tho I must say 1) I was right and 2) I was able to stay very present "in the moment" the whole time we were at the hospital--more on that later. Lets start with the set-up:

Donny has had a cough for about 2 weeks now. In that time, we've called the doctor and he also had his "well baby" exam and shots, so he was looked at as well. The verdict was he probably has some normal baby reflux that will go away but, until then, he's going to cough. That's all fine and good but it wasn't going away and this morning he woke himself up coughing. When I went to pick him up I could feel him breathing heavy and heard the congestion. Then, after he ate breakfast, he coughed so hard he threw up. Three times. So we called the practitioner on duty for our doctor's office. Mike spoke to them first but had to leave for work so I took over the phone. I kind of got the feeling the guy asked us to come in to appease me but, whatever. I bundled up the boy and we caught the 54C to West Penn.

Folks, I could make this a very long post but, as the child of octogenarians, I know that long medical stories are only of interest to the person telling them and octogenarians. That being said, let me skip to my other point about being in the moment. If you remember, last month (I think) we took Donny into the emergency room for yet another cough. I thought we'd get a $200 jar of Vapo-Rub but, instead, I watched them give my 6 month old a spinal tap. What got me later was when I realized I didn't even ask any of the people involved for their credentials--or for another opinion or anything. Sometimes, when Donovan has night terrors, I wonder if that is what he's dreaming of since he's an otherwise lucky boy and probably doesn't have a large nightmare repertoire. ANYhow, I made sure to ask questions and press some points. The end result is that I navigated the shoals between 4 different doctors and turned down an offer to keep him overnight, nixed giving him a full dose of steroids when the first dose made him projectile vomit, asked for applejuice as a mixer for the illfated steroids, and after the steroid vomit launch, I announced that it had been 6 lovely hours in one room but it was time to go. Please note I mean no disrespect to the doctors involved--I understand Donovan's condition bordered on leave-it-alone and let's-try-this. I also understand that everyone involved wanted the best for the kid. I'm just glad I didn't collapse into mute acquiesce like last time.

The upshot of all of this is that I'm typing away in the office with my ears pricked for whimpering in the next room. The poor kid is having a rough time going to sleep and I've had to run in and roll him on his side/rub his back/replace his pacifier a good number of times already. This is one of the few instances in life where I don't feel good about being "right." I mean about him being sick enough for a doctor to look at. And as fussy as he's being, I don't think the hospital was the right option.

O Sweet Jesus, please don't let me have jinxed it...

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Fin de Siecle Stuffing

3 loaves of Jiffy Brand cornbread (day old preferable)
2 sweet onions, chopped
1 1/2 pounds of bulk sage sausage, cooked
1 1/2 cups of craisins, plumped in chicken stock
at least one box of chicken stock

* Crumble cornbread and let dry out a bit. You can do this on a tray in a warm oven if you're pressed for time
* When cornbread is crusty, add chopped onions, cooked sausage and plumped craisins. Mix together with liberal shakes of paprika.
* Put in buttered casserole(s) and moisten liberally with chicken stock
* Dust heavily with more paprika, if you have any left from the mixing part.
* Cover and put in oven at 250 for a couple of hours. Seriously. As long as the lid is on, it can pretty much be in there at a very low temp indefinitely.

I have just given you the recipe to happiness: Enjoy!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Friday, November 16, 2007

Amended Advice: Please See Below

In being asked for my recommendations on baby products I forgot one important one:
Single Serve Packages of Enfamil. Believe it or not, once the breastfeeding thing fell completely thru, this product allowed me and the boy to leave home and bus around town without fear of a shrieking baby meltdown. They also make little premixed bottles, which is what they give you in the hospital. Cute but boy, do they stink! Literally: P-U.

Oh--and as far as Walgreens goes; there is one that is equidistant between daycare and Mike's store. For the past month, everytime I go in there they give me a $4.50 off coupon for Enfamil. Yes, thank you!...

The Voice of (Albeit Limited) Experience

At the fancy dinner-out we had the other night, I promised Beth and Todd that I would make a list of baby gear that I had found to be useful. Having made that promise, I went on, in typical Gemini fashion, to vacillate wildly between being too busy to think and unable to rise above The Torpor to think. Allow me to try and make amends:

Things What Worked

In no particular order:

Big Blankets for Swaddling
•You know those packs of flannel receiving blankets? They are not created equal. We got spoiled with the generous size of the Amy Coe flannel blankets we got from our Target registry. I was too lazy/busy to measure them but no other brands we bought were ever big enough—and in the early days we went thru about 3 or so every 24 hours.
*Sootheez (otherwise known as Those Green Gummy Pacifiers)
*Diaper Champ
Minimum of hassle and you can use your old grocery bags.
Friends from Germany
• Our friends Caroline and Karsten sent us a bunch of swag that had gotten them thru the babyhoods of their two lovely daughters. Such is the quality of German engineering that several of the items made it into our everyday favorites list. Part of the appeal with the German clothes was that they were’nt so freakin’ gendered (tho I did send a sports themed onesie to Amy and Grant for Stella that made people think lovely young Stella was a boy)
o Unpainted wooden ring with three wooden clackers. I like to think of it as Baby’s First Abacus. One of the failsafe “Please Stop Shrieking” toys.
o Three melamine spoons. I prefer them to the rubber tipped spoons as they don’t skid across the bottom of the bowl when I’m trying to scrape up the last of the prune purée.
o Galleseife Soap! This bar soap is for laundry and it has gotten out all sort of, as Caroline called them in her accompanying note, “secretions.” I have the original bar she sent me and its still going strong.
o Beth liked the box that Caroline and Karsten gave us. Caroline explained that it’s the sort of box that “German schoolchildren use to take their bread and cheese to school.” The one we have can hold 6 small Babycubes (see below) and a plastic spoon (see above), which makes for good traveling. Extra points are given for the adorable animal picture on the lid of the box that is neither gender specific nor licensed. I swear, I’ve never even seen Dora but I’m already sick of her…
•I’m selective in my Ebaying for Baby but I did score the one thing I really wanted for the nursery: a John Lennon Crib Mobile. A strict swaddling/mobile regime was what got us all thru those early days of the baby learning how to sleep.
Baby Cubes
•That is the brand name for the little plastic cubes in which you are to put and refrigerate/freeze your homemade babyfood. I got two sizes (ordered thru Amazon) and we are still using the smaller of the two. You could use the icecube tray approach and save some $, but the cube with their connected, snap-close lids travel very well. This is good when you need to pack up the bag for daycare. I keep expecting the lids to tear off but they have proven to be nice and sturdy.
Colours are Brighter
•This is a CD of children’s songs that Amy and Grant sent us. Its very smart and very sweet—standouts include Snow Patrol covering a Pete Shelley Song, a techno song about putting things away when you’re done with them, and Belle and Sebastian singing about what happens when the monkeys escape from the zoo.
Enfamil with Iron
•I won’t preach. I’m just sayin: of the formulas we tried once we had to start supplementing, this is the one that worked.

That which did not work

Cradle Cap Cures
•I don’t know the brand but it cost about $7.00 and left my poor baby’s head all greasy and sticky. The tough as nails visiting nurse who came to check up on Donny told us to use Selesin Blue and that did the trick. We still have about 7/8’s of a bottle left if you need it…
•Donny “Dainty Digestive Pants” could’nt deal with it. Plus, it smelled.
Halo Sleepsack Swaddlers
•I think that’s the brandname—it’s the zip up sleepsacks with the detachable Velcro “wings” to wrap around. Donovan always struggled out of them and, besides, did you ever try to do a load of wash with a 6 inch by 6 inch square of Velcro floating around in it? I could never figure out a way to wash the damn things that did’nt put the rest of the wash at risk—the Velcro was maniacally magnetic even through a mesh bag. Just buy some big ol’ flannel blankets and be done with it.
Del Monte Baby Food
•I hate to dis the products of a local company but the hospital gave us some jars for Donovan when he was in for the croup and the carrots were like water. Complete lack of texture, at least for the first stages set.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

This Just In:

We got a memo at Daycare that one of the young child teachers is leaving so all the teachers are getting shuffled around--and Miss Jackie is moving to the young toddlers room! THIS CAN'T HAPPEN! Donovan is her favorite! She said so! What's he supposed to do, just expect non-preferential treatment? That is so NOT FAIR...

Monday, November 12, 2007

Baby Baby All The Time...

This weekend was social in a new way for me: a vast majority of the socializing was babycentric or at least directly baby relational.

The unofficial socializing happened on Friday after I picked the boy up from daycare. I had taken the day off with a seriously sore throat. Maybe it was the complete lack of human contact I’d had during the day, but I approached a woman who looked familiar to see if she did, in fact, attend some of the childcare classes at Allegheny General (yes, I went to West Penn but the two hospitals have very similar logos and registration sites…). I remembered her as the only other person not in their 20s in the room and, on days when it was just me and the boy and I could feel my nerves fraying, I often wondered about her as she came on her own to the classes. Turns out it was her and, yes, she is a single mother at age 42. Her daughter is cute like the bug with big dark eyes and a great not quite toothless smile. When it got to the point where we were about to exchange contact info, I gave her my email and it turns out she’s at CMU as well! Ah, Pittsburgh; the world’s biggest small town…

Saturday night, Mike and I met, as I like to refer to them despite the tongue twist, my sisters in law (tho, since they can’t technically get married, is the old “outlaw” joke applicable?) at Quiet Storm for dinner. They were there with our old pal, Whiskey Daisy, and two of their friends, Beth and Todd, who might be moving to Pittsburgh. Beth and Todd brought their daughter, Beatrix, who is also cute like the bug, also with the big, dark eyes. She is a petite girl, I did’nt catch how old tho my slightly educated guess would be 3-4 months. Donovan was quite taken with her and tried to make conversation in the come hither quiet voice he uses to entice the cats. The dinner was great, both food and company. Beth was very complimentary about our makeshift baby dop kit and asked for some advice on baby products. I may not know much about money management but swag; I can say a thing or two about swag. I’ll make it my next entry.

And I’ll be good an not bitch about The Malfunctioning Non Returnable Breast Pump…

Thursday, November 8, 2007

About that Gifthorse...

I just spoke with a friend who was expounding on the fine qualities of my son, for which I was very grateful. When you are 40 and pregnant and have a lot of questionable memories of adolescence, you can worry about a lot of things: will the kid be healthy? Will s/he be happy? Will s/he be able to fend for her/himself in a cruel world? What have I learned from being the butt of jokes, the last one picked for kickball, from having to invent a world of my own to live in because I was’nt welcome in any of the ones that were already there? Can I teach my kid how to make the most—and more—of the hand you’re dealt?

What I never expected was that I would have a chronically happy, beautiful blue eyed baby boy who, at 7 months, is the most popular kid in town.

I have no advice for you, my son. You’re on your own.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Sunday, October 28, 2007


Oh yes we did. Dress the kid up that is. In a mass produced tiger outfit straight off the sale rack at Target. Was that my DIY Hip Indie Parent Cred I just heard being flushed down the crapper? Well, so be it: we dressed him up for Halloween for my Mom and she loved it so it was $9.99 well spent.

Mom's birthday was October 25 (Old Lady Scorpios Rule!). She's either 83 or 84, I forget which. Anyhow, when we first had the kid, Mike and I agreed to try to got to Elyria at least once a month so my family could see the boy as he grew, even if it meant a sort of live version stop action photography. Last month, tho, I had to go to a conference in Chicago and this month almost got away from us as well. We thus decided to make a one day trip--in in the morning out in the evening.

Did I mention I don't drive? That means I have the Best. Husband. EVAH.

We packed up Donny's various bird cages and steamer trunks and hit the road an hour later than we were hoping to: 9am. In our defense, we did'nt put him in his outfit until one rest stop outside of Elyria. We got to my folk's house at around 11 and, really, after that it was all about Baby, Baby, Baby. As it should be. And, besides, the more my folks talk about Donovan, the less complaining I have to hear about the new highschool the mayor wants to build and the fewer times my Mom is going to ask me about getting a flu shot.

As if the kid was'nt enough, we brought an Almond Creme Torte from Whole Foods and invited my Aunts over. All of them. Usually when I use the phrase "Aunts" it refers collectively to my Mom's family. This should not, however, take away from the power and the glory that is my 82 year old Dad's older sister, Aunt Ann. She did not want her picture taken but she could'nt get up fast enought to deter me:

We had'nt seen her in months which means she had'nt seen Donovan since he was a 4 pound squawker.

My Mom's sisters came over as well and gave my Mom something she has been wanting for years:

...that being a saw that her father had made her oldest brother when her oldest brother was a 5 year old pipsqueak about, oh, 85 years ago. You know. Back when people would make saws from scratch. For their kids.

ANYhow, long story short, the kid was on good behavior, my family all looked great, everyone got to fuss over the baby and that made for a very good day.

Following are a few more photos. Because I obviously have not included enough:

The Aunts, Dad and Donny.

A sweet one of my Aunt Carolyn and "That Poor Little Baby," as she used to call him.

The Two Donovans

Dang. Cute kid--if I do say so myself...

Friday, October 26, 2007


Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a sucker. I love the Elyria Memorial Day Parade, I try not to miss the Bloomfield Halloween Parade and, speaking of Bloomfield, there's something about a good, old fashioned Catholic church carnival that gets me all misty. It should come as no surprise then that I was pretty darn excited for the Eastminster Daycare Fall Festival. All 60 minutes of it.

I got to take off of work early enough to get there right at the start. I was'nt sure if I was supposed to get the boy or if he would be brought down to the assembly room where it took place but, after watching all the other kids come in, I went and woke him up and brought him down. The older kids all sat on the floor to start with and sang a couple of rousing choruses of "Jesus Loves Me" and "I'm a Little Tea Pot." It took me a while to figure out that each of the tables in the first room was a different station: cookie decorating at one, paper pumpkins and rubber stamps at another, etc. Over in the far corner was about half a dozen high chairs set up for the "Infant Texture" station. This is where the young kids like Donny could crumple tissue paper, feel a bumpy gourd and commune with an ear of dried Indian corn:

As promised, he also got to feel the inside of a pumpkin--something I was much more excited about than he was. And as far as the hayride, can I call 'em or can I call 'em?:

I also liked the mini pumpkin patch:

I think I should set one up in our front room.

There were lots of things I liked about this event--first, there was no weirdness about sugar: the kids who were old enough got a little bag of candy that was just the right size. Second, there were alot of older kids running around being excitable but no one was being "bad." There were no scoldings, no tantrums and lots of hugs and encouragement from parents and staff members alike. When I think how green we were in looking for daycare and how lucky we are that Donny ended up where he is--with people who really care about him and take good care of him--dang. Remember: I choose Eastminster because the other place we looked at did'nt have windows.

Color me lucky.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Touch the Pumpkin!

Tomorrow is the Fall Festival at daycare. Miss Tekeela has a way of insinuating an eyeroll without ever doing one and she invoked that power a couple times in explaining the Festival. First, all the parents were asked to donate a bag of wrapped candy ("Even tho these babies are too young" *Insinuated Eyeroll*). The Festival will take place in the basement ("So they get sometime outside of their room" *IER*). There will be a hayride (Partial *IER*) and the babies will get to touch the inside of scraped out pumpkin. I'm actually a little geeked about it. First of all, the idea of a daycare hayride conjures images of straw and Radioflyer red wagons. Also, who wouldn't want to touch the inside of a scraped pumpkin? I spent too much time yesterday trying to figure out what the "cool" candy would be. Being old I'm already behind the 8 Ball--don't want to embarrass the kid by bringing in bridge mix or Butter Rum Lifesavers. I finally settled on RADBERRY! Now and Later Suckers. Anything that turns your tongue a different color can be considered cool.

Tonight we are going to Target to find a noninvasive costume for the boy. Just a hat or something. I had dreams of dressing him up as Napoleon or Nick Cave but I don't have time to make a Napoleon Hat and the little suits with the red shirts were all gone last time I was at Burlington. The things we do to amuse his Ohio grandparents...

Monday, October 22, 2007

Best Man and Best Baby

This weekend we went to Foglesburg for a wedding. Our friends, Liz and Michael, were married on Saturday in a really lovely outside service. We had to get there on Friday for the Rehersal Dinner as Mike was the best man.

I was'nt really sure how all this was going to play out. The wedding inviation specifically said "No Children" but special dispensation was given to Donovan and a few other babies. My main concern, however, is that Donovan's favorite thing to do for the past week or so has been to shriek. Its hard to get mad at him as he is usually shrieking for joy but shrieking gets old very quickly. It's also bad form to shriek during a church wedding, even if you are happy. My worry intensified when, from the time we got to our fully-paid-for pimped out lodge suite with jacuzzi and fireplace, Donny was in full shriek mode.

Its funny how, when you prepare for the worst, the Fates love to prove you wrong. For the Rehersal Dinner, Donny wore the powderblue velour overall suit that Ceil gave him at my shower and he looked really spiffy.

He did get a little fussy there but everyone else seemed to think it was nothing. As far as the actual wedding, he got to wear his new blue suit, complete with dress shoes, and he did look excellent. He slept thru the first part of the ceremony and only made noise during the mass recitation of The Lord's Prayer. Three months ago, the question strangers would ask me about him was, "Is he a preemie?" Now its, "Is he always this good?" No, he was never a preemie and yes, he is always this good. Honest. I can't tell you the number of people who complimented him on his good behavior, including the bride, groom, parents of the bride and groom, bridal party and the pastor. That's about everyone who matters, my friends.

Staying at the lodge was a minivacation for Mike and I that we did'nt realize we needed. We got to spend time together without worrying about running to the store, cleaning the litterboxes, or not doing yardwork. There was, indeed, a huge bathtub (with a sign next to it that said there would be a $25 fee for cleaning any candlewax off the rim of the tub) <and, when you looked out the window, you saw rolling hills and cows. The drive down was also a little revelation. Going east into the state we got the full on Autumn colorshow. Coming back with the sun setting was particularly wonderful.

Plus, we got to take alot of photos of the boy somewhere besides our own house. Much as I hate beige, the carpet made him look especailly good, colorwise:

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Upbeat Belated Update

Apparently, the photo of my son in the hospital crib, as well as the story of his recent surgery, upset a number of people. In the interest of assauging soft hearts, I include this photo of Donovan looking superhappy in his hospital issue pajamas, presurgery:

See? Everything was and is fine. Many thanks, tho, for caring about my boy. It's nice to know that he's in a few hearts and on alot of radars.

Workin' the Concept

Crazy Socks, my friend. Crazy, crazy socks...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Retire now to your tents and to your dreams. Tomorrow is Crazy Sock Day at daycare--I want to be ready...

Monday, October 15, 2007

Note To Self: Read this in 2012

This was brought to my attention by my friend and sister "Methusela Mother," Angie:


Sunday, October 14, 2007

Can't Sleep--Urologist Will Get Me

I am typing ever so quietly--as of 2 days ago, Donny decided that he doesn't like to sleep. I suppose I would be wary as well if I went to sleep and woke up without a foreskin, but he really spoiled us prior to this with about 4 solid months of sleeping thru the night. We've tried drugging him with Enfamil, which used to work but now, not so much. Also, the idea of having to feed him to get him to sleep--let's just say there are lots of food issues from my side of the family that I'd like to avoid with the boy. Last night when Mike was taking his turn at walking Donny around, I Googled, "When Can You Spoil" with "Baby" and the two coherent advice column type pages I found both said, "You can't spoil a baby! That is until he's 6 months old." Thanks, pal. Tonight I ended up rocking him in his stroller for about an hour an a half. The first half of that he was so happy to be up and playing with his feet that he just sat there with this wild grin on his face. Crazy kid.

But what you really want to know, probably, is what happened with his operation. The operation was a success, tho the anesthesiologist had to put the fear of God into us about the fact that Donovan had had croup and thus may have a reaction to the anesthesia and it might be bad but it was our call. After the spinal tap fiasco I was a little more prepared and tossed her, "you're the professional. If he was your son, what would you do? Professionally speaking, of course..." And, of course, she did not give a straight answer. Sigh.

It was same day surgery so we got to take him home--and we were out of the hospital by about 1pm. He was pretty groggy for a little while but then back to his old, smiley self. Mike had taken off of work so I was actually able to take a nap. It was the first nap in over a week without me having to worry about my son being in or going to a hospital. It was very nice.

I have another story related to all of this but I'm going to play it coy. I'm baiting Sheryl, trying to lure her out of her mansion for a coffee klatch and this story is my bait. Well, this story and the kid. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Another Three Parter

I. Baroness Von Munchhausen By Proxy

Donny was coughing a little bit when we picked him up from daycare on Friday. Nothing much but it was something he hasn't done before. Later that night, he felt kind of warm but I took his temperature and it was normal. Mike got home later that night and we decided to call the doctor on call for our doctor's office just to get some advice. The doctor didn't seem too concerned but, saying that we were first time parents, suggested we bring him to the emergency room. I'm thinking, quick exam, prescription and that's it.

Nope. Not by a long shot.

The ER nurse on call listened to Donovan's heart and pretty much put us on the fast track back to the emergency room, which we shared with a gentleman who was having complications from diabetes and his three female relatives, all of whom were certifiably slaphappy. We were in the ER for about 7 hours, during which time they took xrays, blood samples and an actual SPINAL TAP. That, my friends, was horrific. Donny cried so much he basically passed out, which was a small blessing, I suppose. The spinal tap was to rule out meningitis and the results would take 48 hours so that's how long he would have to stay in the hospital.

Did I mention Sunday was Mike's 4oth birthday?

II. Baroness Von Munchhausen Not By Proxy

The room they put us in only had one bed and no fold out couch like before. Mike and I decided that I would stay with the boy and he would go home and take care of the cats and get ready to pick up the rental car (long story). Donny slept really well and I guess I did too but, when I woke up, I had this cough. The Cough of The New Century. The Cough that makes me sound like Marlene Dietrich after she's been punched in the windpipe. But that comes later.

All of the tests came back negative so Donovan got sprung early on good behavior. We were able to go up to Mike's folks so Mike could have a birthday dinner. Donovan was his normal, super smiley self, only when he cried, he didn't make any noise.

III. Today and Tomorrow

My cough really bloomed into madness last night so I took off of work today. I won the Nobel Prize for Obviousness today for my realization that you can take a day off of work but you can't take a day off of motherhood. That meant I had to go fetch the boy from daycare before 6pm. Luckily, there is a bus that leaves the Herron Avenue Station and takes me right to Eastminster. When Miss Tekeela saw me she said, "Obviously your baby isn't here. Obviously, someone came and took him." As we went to look for him she told me, nicely, that I looked terrible. I explained I'd taken today and tomorrow off of work and she said, "That's good because Donovan had diarrhea today and he can't come in tomorrow. That's our policy."

So much for the unadulterated Sick Day sleep. Alas.

We found Donovan with Miss Chantal and, as I was loading him into his stroller, Miss Tekeela said, "We'll miss you tomorrow Donovan! You're our best baby!" I demurred on his behalf, saying "I bet you say that to all the babies." In total seriousness, Miss Tekeela clarified, "Let's get this straight right now: I do NOT say that to all the babies!"

My son The Overachiever.

Tomorrow he has a doctor's appointment to follow up from his hospital stay and then, if all goes well, he has his outpatient surgery for his cordee (sp?). And that's all I'll say about that. I feel like I'm betraying his confidence going online about his boy parts. Suffice it to say its outpatient surgery and everything should be fine.

Prayers and positive energy, however, will be graciously accepted.

Monday, October 1, 2007


I grew up a tomboy and, while I now own well over 40 tubes of lipstick (and I’m still searching for the perfect blue red) emotionally, I remain a tomboy. Nothing too sticky for me, thanks. No babytalk or cutesy shit. Love, yeah, but without the girly squealing.

So imagine my surprise to find that, after a pretty idyllic weekend with son and husband, I’m really disappointed to be back at work. I know that doesn’t qualify as babytalk but so much for being a hardass.

What can I say? Donny and I now officially have a game: he reaches his hand up to me and I “bite” his fingers and growl. This elicits the Donovan laugh, which is a simple “Ha!” and then we do it again. And again. And again.

And now I’m at work. Blah.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


"Many credentes would also eventually receive the consolamentum as death drew near — performing the ritual of liberation at a moment when the heavy obligations of purity required of Perfecti would be temporally short. Some of those who received the sacrament of the consolamentum upon their death-beds may thereafter have shunned further food or drink in order to speed death. This has been termed the endura. It was claimed by Catharism's opponents that by such self-imposed starvation, the Cathars were committing suicide in order to escape this world." Wikipedia entry for Catharism

Nina is not eating. Well, not eating much. She runs into the kitchen after me, purring and meowing but can't seem to eat. Last night we tried chicken liver but she could'nt do it. She was obviously hungry, so I went thru the whole kitchen trying to find something she would eat. She turned down smoked salmon, half and half, creme cheese, and chicken gravy from left over pot pie.

The time is coming and its far too soon.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Heinz 57

A brief aside: During my Aunt Carolyn and Aunt Rose's visit yesterday I found out some things about my Mom's side of the family. The equation I had been given had been:

Hungarian (Grandmother) + Transylvanian (Grandfather) = Mom's family.

Turns out that the equation is a bit too simplistic. The recipe reads more like this:

Hungarian (Grandmother)
Transylvanian (Grandfather)
Greek (Great Grandfather)
Turkish (Great Grandmother)
German (Other Great Grandmother)

That means (German + Greek + Turkish + Hungarian + Transylvanian + More German + Deported English Convicts) + (Irish x 3 + Croation) = Donovan.


Monday, September 24, 2007

Whew, But In a Good Way

The past few days have been an absolute social whirlwind for all of us here in my little family. I took off last Thursday to clean the house and prepare for our guest and old buddy, Mee O, to stay with us while she was in town for my sisters in laws party. Claire and Heather have been together 10 years and decided to throw a big party so all of their friends could meet each other. On Friday, my Aunt Carolyn called to ask if she, my Aunt Rose and their friends from Germany could visit. Please understand that, in the 18 years I've lived in Pittsburgh, my Aunts have come here three times to visit me. One of those was for my wedding. We could'nt say no but the weekend was out, so Monday became Aunt Day.

Everything about Claire and Heather's party was lovely, including the people and the food and drinks and the tablesettings. They made such a good looking couple that I almost felt guilty bringing Donovan. Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury; Exhibits A and B:

He really was a very good baby the whole time we were there. He ended up charming Mee O who declared herself his new Aunt and left his general vicinity on a couple of occasions to stop herself from putting his feet in her mouth.

There is no Shanley event without some sort of Post Shanley Event Event so we went over to the in laws place to hang out with the out of town folks--again, a clean sweep for Donovan in the popularity division. On his second night up past his bedtime he remained just as happy and sociable as could be.

Today I woke up feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of my Aunts' visit. You have to understand that our house, tho better for the day I took to clean, is still very much a work in progress. You also have to understand that my Mom's family has always been very dedicated to their cleaning schedule ("God Forbid" my Mom, the lone dissenter of the system would say, "that anyone die on laundry day"). They are in their 80s and they still clean their house themselves and it is, indeed, spotless.


Mike and I got up, had breakfast, fed the boy, rocked him in his stroller intoning "Pleaseohpleaseohpleeeeeasefallasleeepwehavesomuchtodo!" It worked and, as soon as Donovan was down, Mike and I managed to squeeze the huge new/used couch into the front room. So Mike was then dispatched to the store to buy lunch for everyone and I cleaned like a fiend.

Mike got home, spelled me off, I showered and we waited. Not like the Aunts to be late. When they showed up carrying cups from Wendy's, we knew the lunch we had put off having was going to be a little late in coming.

The Hirsches are a family with whom my Aunt Carolyn has been corresponding since 1954. I thought they had met over care packages my Mom's family sent to post WWII Berlin but 1954 sounds more like its connected to the Hungarian Revolution--must check on that. When I was in highschool and college the two Hirsch boys were a minor bane to my existance as my Aunts would always talk about what wonderful jobs they had, and sooo much education! This usually would come up when I'd mention being a telemarketer. Joking aside, they are a lovely family and they brought Donovan a fantastic handmade teddybear--photos will follow. We had a nice visit and I'm sure everyone else thought he was fine, but Donny had obviously had enough with the socializing. He was never bad, he just was'nt the Uber Baby Zen Well of Patience and Smiles that he usually is. Nevertheless, everyone got to play pass the baby. Tonight, I am going to meltdown some old silverware and make a medal For Jack Hirsch for bravely and boldly driving a rental car full of old people thru Pittsburgh and into the heart of Polish Hill. Its the least I can do.

Mike took a few photos but the ones with both of my Aunts did'nt turn out well. This one of my Aunt Carolyn, tho, is pretty sweet.

Aunt Carolyn was born on Leap Year so she is 22.

After they left, all 5 of us (I'm including the cats) collapsed on various pieces of furniture in the front room and slept. I was the first one up and I should go down and check on everyone. An odd postscript to all of this is we have fancy catered food and huge opened bottles of booze left over from Claire and Heather's party plus we have the lunch stuff we bought that was not used today. If we wanted to, we could have roasted asparagus, croissants and Dewars for dinner tonight. Not bad!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Call Me Mrs. Gerber

Seems like time for a new photo. Too much Talk; Not Enough Baby.

All three of us got home late tonight and I have only myself to blame. I could have brought the boy home on a bus right after daycare but I just could'nt. Instead, we took a nice, leisurely walk to Mike's store--so leisurely, in fact, that Donovan was sound asleep by the time we got there. Mike still had an hour and a half to work so I looked around the store, gave Donny a bottle and then we took another walk to the Borders down the way. Nice as it was, it means dinner did'nt get on the table until about 10pm. After that there were dishes to do and all sorts of housekeeping to be done but the one thing I decided had to happen was I had to make babyfood.

I may not be able to nurse but I am going to try and be the ubermutter and make Donovan's babyfood--at least until I can't anymore due to work schedules or whatever. You would think that I had learned my lesson and not purchased the props before the experiment but I have already stocked up on cookbooks (2), "baby cubes" food storage containers (1 each of two different sizes), and a baby food mill. Both of my cookbooks say you can use a food processor, which we have, but its such a bitch to clean. Plus, its loud and sort of obnoxious. The babyfood mill did'nt really come with instructions but I was able to figure it out alright. I poaches a couple of gala apples, put them and the accompanying water in the grinder, turned the handle, pushed down and Voila! Baby Food! I'm kind of excited to give him his first real food food tomorrow. I'm hoping to see some sort of Eureka! look on his face when he tastes it.

We took him in for his developmental check up a couple of days ago, but thats a whole other story. A good story but a whole other one.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

It Means Nothing To Me, OhhhhhhhhhVienna!...

Amid all the current tunics and 80s ripoff clothes lurk strange and pretty direct references to clothes of which I've seen photos in books about the Symbolist movement in both Belgium and Vienna. There is also some (I think) Viennese Art Nouveau stuff--is that called "Jeungenstile"? Someone who took German instead of French help me out here... ANYhow, I bring this up as Donovan and I went downtown today to shop for a variety of things. For him we needed something, anything, for him to wear to his Aunts' anniversary party next week and a nice wedding in October. Me, I needed somthing, anything, to wear to his Aunts' anniversary party next week and a nice wedding in October. I also need a Fall coat with out holes and with buttons.

Walking around in the heartbreakingly beautiful first cool weather of Fall, I was reminded of why I love downtown Pittsburgh--its like shopping at Goodwill in that there are eras and eras and eras of style to choose from. Feeling a bit Art Deco? How about the huge "300" on the office building across the street from The Duquesne Club? Gothic and overwrought? The Union Trust Building, my friend, is for you. That being said, for all the insane architecture, there are really only two places to shop (three if you count Saks, but their unstated No Riff Raff policy has always kept me away). I started at KAUFMANNS (ahem) where, low and behold, I found a dress that looked like, if it was floor length and had long sleeves, Fernand Khnopff's sister might have worn it. It fit, I bought it, case closed.

For Donovan, I found...well, I really want to give it away but I shouldn't. Suffice it to say, I'm still laughing. I apologize for my caginess and will make up for it with photos from the party.

*Snort* Ha. Hahahaha. I can say no more...

Friday, September 14, 2007

"The One Eyed Dog Walks Alone"

Getting dressed today, I decided that I am not frumpy and middle aged—I am actually a secret agent. While the acute lack of good clothes is an effective part of my disguise, having a baby is probably the most fiendishly convincing component of my ruse. Luckily Donovan, or Operative 7 as I like to call him, is fully comprised of the situation. I began his secret education early, ensuring that he can spend all day in daycare listening to the worst ever Christian children’s music and no one will ever know that, really, he and his Mom listen to Swans together before bedtime.

I must protect this fragile secret life of ours and if that means none of my socks can match any of my other clothes, so be it.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


Standing at the bus stop 1/2 a block from home and, suddenly, I get that wave of nausea. You know the one: the one you get in that first snap of chilly autumn weather as your body readjusts itself to temperature and stuff like that. Also, could it be that, since my pregnancy, I cannot wear Pink Sugar cologne? I think my nose recalibrated itself. Anyhow, the nausea--it must be dealt with meaning that I missed the bus meaning that I'm late for work. Again.


Donovan had another doctor's appointment yesterday (speaking of being late) and I think he has 2 more before the month is over. May I say, with all sincerity: THANK YOU SWEET JESUS FOR HEALTH INSURANCE. The doctor (a "specialist") looked at him for all of 3 minutes and the entire time I could hear an old time gas pump in my head: ka-CHING! ka-CHING! When I told Mike's Dad (who drove us there) the doctor talked to Donny in a Donald Duck voice, he said, "That'll probably cost you extra." Ha.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Three Parter

Part 1: Donovan had his first solid food yesterday and, as an experiment it went very well:

The bib is a total prop--my Mom gave it to us and I thought it was great but its more of an antique than anything. Still, great moments call for great fashion.

It was fun feeding him Saturday morning. I wonder how much fun it will be every morning after that for the rest of my life. I should have prefaced that with an aside about how I'm not really a morning person...

Part 2: This is almost a professional story so I'm going to be coy about the names. There is a lady who comes into Mike's store just about every other day. She is an older lady and is related to a family that is a big deal at the University where I work. In fact, there is both a building and a school with her family name. Mike saw her at church today and decided to take Donovan over to meet her. She was quite charmed--and then the projectile vomiting started. It missed her but did manage to get on the photo album from her husband's memorial service. Luckily, that had a vinyl cover on it. I'll need to teach Donovan the profitable vaugaries of University VIP Politics.

Part 3: After church we wanted to take a gift card we got out to a Babies R Us. As the Parkway is under reconstruction, we drove out to Bethel Park. There are some lovely homes in Bethel Park--not Victorian but more that whimiscal take on cottages and castles from the 1920s and 1930s. Maybe that's why people think they can live out there. We got into the strip mall section of the city and--friends, I cannot lie and say I have moral and aesthetic problems with Malls. They're not my favorite thing but whatever. After today tho--whew. I think what made it worse was watching some beefy, 50-60 year old guy with a cigarette in his mouth yelling "SHUT THE HELL UP! YOU'RE DRIVING ME CRAZY!" He was shouting at a crying baby in a carseat. And by baby I mean "baby." If this kid was more than a month old, I would be surprised. I still feel sick and dirty that I did'nt say anything to his stupid bully ass. Doing so probably would have made matters worse but still. I'm starting to realize that having a kid, I have forfeited my comfortable ironic distance.

Babies R Us had a baby food mill but no freezer pack sets. I also got all up in arms about the lack of good boy clothes. I would feel creepy dressing my 5 month old in camo, I hate sports and that leaves puppies and trucks. Sigh.

Oh--did I mention the bully yelling at the baby was doing so in the parking lot of Babies R Us? I think I need some Peptol Bismol...

Friday, September 7, 2007

Gimme A Pigfoot and a Bottle of Beer

It occur ed to me today, as I sat in the breakroom eating Oreos and drinking a bottle of diet Coke, that its been awhile since anyone has told me how good I look for someone who has just given birth. The first couple of months after I had Donovan I ended up weighing less than I did before my pregnancy. People would say, "You look really good!" with the same inflection of a gossipy friend saying "Oh my God, are you serious?" Since then, the return of bad habits and the end of that superdooper breastfeeding metabolism seem to have caught up to me. Why am I posting this now when I should be getting ready to catch the bus to get my kid? I'm hoping that by "going public" I can help discipline myself to be more circumspect about what I eat, where I spend my money and just how much activity I need and get.

Won't that make for fascinating reading? I apologize in advance.

Balloons with Slow Leaks

Nina got her sutures out today, thanks in large part to my good buddy, Kirsten, taking the time to drive us out to our vet. Nina was the super-good patient, actually purring and kneading while the nice lady wielded her staple remover. The nice lady in question became the second person in so many days to build up my hopes and then, innocently, deflate them:

NICE LADY: What a good kitty! What was her operation for?
ME: They removed a tumor from her intestine
NICE LADY: She's better now, right?
ME: Well, she's happier. She does have lymphoma, tho.
NICE LADY: [with dismissive wave of staple remover] Oh, there's a cat who comes here who's had lymphoma for four years!
ME: [perking up] Really?!? They told me she had 2 months!
NICE LADY: Its different for all cats. The one I'm talking about responded really well to the treatments.
ME: Oh. We can't afford the treatments
NICE LADY: Well, just love her as much as you can...


Yesterday at Whole Foods a very nice guy who I remember from various LUPEC events was chatting with me and fussing over Donovan. He looked at me very thoughtfully and said, "You look like an actress...You look like an actress..." Folks, you should never follow up that proclamation with a statement that begins "Have you ever seen the John Waters film..." I was really tempted to interrupt him and say, "Uh, that was an actor..."

Donny had a fever last night due to the shots he got at his doctor's visit. I had plans with his Aunt Shirley that included drinks at Kelly's. Even tho he seemed to be feeling better, I had to give her a raincheck as I didn't feel right sending the husband home alone with a potentially fussy baby. Luckily he saved his fussiness till right before bed. Unluckily, that meant I missed out on drinks at Kellys.

Sigh again.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

It Is A Sad and Beautiful World

I've been holding off on broadcasting the bad news that Nina has lymphoma. The bad news in its entirety is that her biopsy revealed a very aggressive form of lymphoma and she will probably only be with us for 2 or 3 more months.

The good news is that its very easy, for the most part, not to dwell on that fact as she is feeling so much better since her surgery. She's back to her old affectionate, laphog self. She, obviously, is feeling fine. So right now the plan is to love her as much as we can and enjoy the time we have. If we think any harder about it--well, we currently are opting not to think any harder about it.

Speaking of sad news, Mike's Aunt Margie died this weekend. She had been very ill for a long time so it was not unexpected but it was still sad in that end-of-an-era way. Mike and I couldn't make the funeral, but we packed up the boy and went to the viewing. Donovan was his perfect charming self, smiling at everyone, laughing and cooing. This was his debut for the older set in Mike's family and he helped cheer alot of folks up. Cheered up alot of folks. Not sure the grammar on that one...

Today, Donny had to go for his "well baby" check up. He now clocks in at 13 lbs. 5 oz--one of the nurses actually called him a "bruiser"! When I begged to differ--he's not a bruiser, he's a delicate china doll!--Mike clarified that he is not a bruiser; he's a gentleman.

Right on.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

An Open Letter to Chicago

Dear Chicago,

You are a lovely city. I know we've just met but I can see that you're special. Your lake horizon is beautiful, your architecture is gorgeous, and your citizens are all fashionably dressed. There were times during my visit that I got a whiff of flowers, just a late summer breeze with flowers drifting on it, but it was heady and lush.

But the bottom line, Chicago, is that you are too expensive. Maybe you aren't really but your hotels are. $13.75 for a 2 second phone hook up? I am appalled; APPALLED! All the flowers in the world, wafting or no, cannot make up for the phone bill portion of my hotel bill.

I thought we had something special, Chicago, but you only wanted me for my money. I'm going home to my kid who, luckily, is too young to notice that, for the next three months, his Enfamil is really only going to be Ramen Noodle Water.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Career Track

I'm typing this on my old buddy, Dr. Marshall's laptop. I am sitting on the 34th floor of a fancy hotel in Chicago. It's the Society of American Archivist conference and I am here until Saturday evening. So far its been very nice and has included attending a women's collections roundtable and shopping for bathproducts at Lush.

I miss my kid, tho. And my cat.

Oh. And my husband. Him too.

The bathtub is so big I could lay flat in it if I'm not careful. Until about a month ago, Donovan was so small, we had to give him baths in a roasting pan.

Room service should really provide kitties.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Faeries? Gypsies? Black Marketeers?

I really don't know where he gets it. The cuteness, that is. His Dad is good looking and I have my moments but, honestly. I think he's a changeling.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

"Hello, I'm Britney Spears..."

I think I won the White Trash Momathon today--and I was'nt even trying. I took the bus to the South Side today, boy in tow, to get a very much needed haircut. I had arranged to meet my friend, Kirsten, who graciously offered to watch Donovan for me while Marla hacked away and the underbrush of my head. I met Kirsten in Starbucks and, from there, we went to Burger King. In my defense (I being the one who suggested it) we were both so hungry and it was so hot that thinking straight was definately not a possibility. From there, I went to my appointment and Kirsten took Donovan to look at pigeons. We met after at Tuscany and, after that, I went to catch the bus.

A brief explanation: the only route that connects Polish Hill to South Side is the 54C. I love me some 54C, but there are two 54Cs: the one that goes to my house and the one that doesnt. And the one that doesnt came while I was waiting for the one that does. Twice. And on Saturday, that means 3 hours worth of waiting. By the time the second incorrect bus came by, my extremely patient baby was getting ready to blow. I said The Hell With It and went to the 4th food joint of the day: Qdoba. Let the record show that this Qdoba does not have a changing table in the ladies room. I was forced to change my son's poopy diaper on one of the picnic tables outside, after which I came in, washed my hands, and made him a bottle of Enfamil in the bathroom. And then I got a chicken mango salad, called my husband and told him to pick us up there when he was done with work 45 minutes later.

In writing this all out, I think I'm going to lose the White Trash Momathon on the technicality that I did not feed my 5 month old son any french fries at Burger King. Damn!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Buck and a Quarterstaff!

One of Donovan's favorite things to do is "stand up." I put that in quotes as he's obviously too young to stand up on his own. I hold him up under his arms and his feet rest on my legs. He gets all cocky and usually breaks into this huge toothless grin. Sometimes he yells. Yesterday he put his fists on his hips and, with his head cocked to one side, he reminded me of this:

Don't you worry, never fear...

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Cautiously Optimistic

Mike got off of work at 6:30 today. Donovan and I met him at the store and then proceeded to Monroeville to visit Nina at the vet's. I have never visted a vet before in the here-to-see-a-sick-friend sense and, much as I wanted to see my kitten I did feel a bit odd about it. After a brief wait in the reception area they took us thru a keycard locked door and into the emergency room area. There was a little operating table in the middle of the space and people in scrubs scurrying too and fro. Nina was in a cage along the wall and, when she heard us, she perked up and started trying to roll around and meow. The poor thing has one of those cones around her neck and some sort of tube connected somewhere down yonder. They shaved off patches of fur on her neck her left front leg, around both front paws and her stomach. Despite all of that she was really alert and active and wanting to crawl up my arm and around my neck. When we realized we were just getting her riled up we closed the cage door and said our goodbyes. The vet said that, if she keeps tomorrow's meals down, we can take her home tomorrow night!

Its not quite time to order the cake and balloons--we're still waiting on the biopsy results--but it was so good to see my goofy cat being goofy again. It made me realize how long its been since she's truely been her self.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Only Love Can Break Your Heart

The first half of the day was good. In fact, it was one of those strange days where all sorts of little, inconsequential things were above average. I had the Archives room almost to myself, so I was able to get alot done. I was worried that I would screw up an assignment my boss gave me but she emailed me to tell me it was "perfect." When I left to go to lunch I got to the bus stop exactly as a bus pulled up that would deposit me at Craig Street and, when I went to Lulu's, today was my favorite lunch special. While I was at lunch, I called my friend Amy and we had a great, albeit abbreviated, catch-up session. I left right as the sky was beautifully dark and threatening and made it back to campus, and cover, right before the skies opened.

Today Part 2: Mike had the day off and he took Nina to the vet. The Emergency Vet. Our vet didn't have an opening until Thursday and we had agreed that Monday was Vet Day for Nina, come Hell or High Water. Mike called to tell me that x-rays showed an obstruction in her intestines and she needed an ultrasound to see what could be done. The bill at that point was more than our bank would let us put on our debit card so out came the dreaded MasterCard. That was at about 2pm. At a little after 4, he called to tell me the ultrasound would'nt be done until about 6 so he would come get me, we would get the boy, and figure it out from there. When we had the whole family in the car, we decided to drive to Monroeville together to get whatever news there was.

It takes alot of energy to sit quietly in the back seat of your car, next to your innocent, sleeping son, as your husband drives thru the absolute worst rain you have ever been in. Ever. In your life. The torrents started when we were irrevocably on the parkway with nowhere to go but forward. Mike was silent, I was silent--I think we each were trying to keep the other calm. For not having gotten his license until he was in his 30s, my husband is an excellent driver under the worst conditions. We made it out to the vets where we spoke to the heartbreakingly young doctor who explained the surgery they wanted to do and, when I asked, told us the price. She left while I cried. Mike and I talked it over and decided we had to have her get the surgery. Then we made a blood pact of silence, never to tell anyone how much it cost. We can probably recoup half of it if we put the kid up on eBay...

ANYhow, they brought our poor tabbygirl in to see us and, bless her, she purred and did that thing where she pushes herself into me when I hold her. I had to ask for a lint roller before we left.

We just got a call from the vet that her operation went well and that, while we need to wait for a biopsy to know what the obstruction actually was, the surgery was done with no problems. In fact, when they "took a look around" they did'nt see anything out of the ordinary in her abdomen; kidneys, liver, etc. all checked out. They are going to keep her there a few days to gain her stength and see how she handles food.

Have you ever seen a cat with an IV? My cat Ivy had one once and they put it on the back of their front paw with surgical tape, just like people. Its so cute and sad at the same time.

But enough of that: I'm happy for good news. I'm trying not to fall into my usual voodoo thinking that allowing relief will ensure disaster. I'm just looking forward to sleeping with a little less worry in my heart.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Super Genius

All the books (both of them) say that you should start introducing your child to solid foods when s/he is about 4 months old. Must we? The bottles seemed like a pain at first but now, especially with the premeasured Enfamil packets, we've got it down to a science! Solid foods, what with the spooning and the spitting and the dishes and the whatnot: who's got the freakin' time?

That being said, we scored a sweet "Amish" highchair off of Craigslist a few months ago. I think, as far as furniture goes, people apply the word "Amish" as an adjective as long as its not plastic and doesn't need batteries. I don't know if the design itself is traditionally Amish or not but, considering it flips over one way to be a rocking horse and the other way to be a desk, who knows? As with most things, the seat is still too big for our delicate little baby but, if we are going to start with the solid food thing, we need to jerryrig it somehow. I was cutting fabric in my head to make a padded cushion when I remembered: a friend of Mikes gave him a babysling but we've never used it as, since his friend's kid was born, that model sling had been recalled for a faulty ejector button. Defective sling + Amish highchair and, VOILA!

Yes, I am a Super Genius.

It's rainy and cool out today. I'm excited to dress the boy for fall weather but scared he'll catch the TB if he gets rain on him.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

More Spitty Babies

The spitty baby in question this time, however, is'nt Donovan: its Nina.

Nina, short for Nina Simone High Priestess of Soul, is my cat. I got her as a kitten about 4 years ago. She was originally obtained to fill a catsized hole in my heart that opened up when I had to have my cat of 13 years, Ivy, put to sleep. While I got her as a replacement she insisted on being her own, goofy, loving self and I fell in catlove all over again. Ivy and I had a special bond that was very deep. Its the same with Nina but different. Where Ivy was an imperious, queenly thing, Nina is Gilda Radner to Ivy's Greta Garbo. Plus, Nina spoons with me when I nap.

Then the baby came along and Nina was delegated to middlechild. No more taking the cat back to bed for 10 minutes of spooning before showering and going to work. No more scooping the cat up to kiss her and swing her around right when I get home. Can't pet the cat too much--the fur will get all over the kid. Can't let the cat sleep in the bassinet (even tho its cute) cause the cat might have germs. Nowadays, all Nina hears is "No!" I know things have changed and so does she.

So is this why she can't keep any food down? Part of the day she acts fine and the other part she's crying in the basement because spitting up distresses her so. We are trying not to take her to the emergency vet because that's a several hundred dollar commitment right there. We tried to call our vet to make an appointment for Monday but the answering machine said you can only make appointments between Monday and Friday. Every now and then I hear her poor stomach grumble and it breaks my heart.

Poor spitty baby.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Such a Perfect Day

The usual routine is this: Mike takes Donovan to daycare and I go to work. After work, I pick up Donovan from daycare. Daycare is near where Mike works so we usually meet him there and we all go home together. Sometimes Donny and I have an hour or an hour and a half to kill. Sometimes the kid and I take the bus home but usually not.

Today I didn't want to collapse into the routine. Mike had the day off so we met on Craig Street, picked up the boy, picked up some fried chicken and had a picnic on the rim of the Mary Schenley fountain in Oakland. The fountain is right on the edge of Schenley Park, which is where we decided we wanted to take a walk. Donovan was content to sit in his stroller while we ate and, once we where done, we loaded the boy up into the front facing baby carrier and started over the bridge to the Park. I should add that, after about 2 weeks of backbreaking heat and humidity, tonight was balmy and luxuriously comfortable. I was hoping we could walk thru the garden at Phipps Conservatory but, in a move reminiscent of the Giant in the Oscar Wilde story, the gates were locked: Hmmph. We did get to visit the little lily ponds, at which point Donny immediately demanded a bottle. After he was fed, he became his usually happy self and I finally got an almost photo of that sideways smile:

We also got to visit my favorite fountain, which is this almost shoulder-high bronze basin on four bronze legs. It reminds me very much of the Rider Waite Tarot Card the Ace of Cups. This might have been a nice photo of me and the boy if I had remembered to remove the soiled burpcloth from the front of the carrier:

After our photo ops, we walked back to the car, loaded everything up and headed home. The boy got a bath and a bottle, after which he was so sleepy he didn't even need to be swaddled. He's asleep in his crib splayed out like a frog on its back.

I hope you had a great day as well.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Freedom and Pining

Mike has three days off of work in a row. That means that he can spell me off as far as picking up the kid at daycare. And that means that I can actually go downtown right after work, just like I used to do when I was footloose and babyfree. I need to do some serious clothes shopping, some recognisance mission shoe shopping and also run up to the furniture section of Macy's just to see what's what.

I was supergeeked this weekend when I realized I'd be able to get some shopping done but now two things are clouding my enthusiasm. First, I balanced the checkbook and, brothers and sisters, we are broke. This childcare thing: WHEW. Second, I'm really missing the boy. I went with Mike to drop him off at daycare and got to play elevator with him a little before I left. He's got such a great, unbridled, gummy smile--how did a misanthrope like me end up with such a happy boy? Finally, irony is paying off!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Escape From Tunic Mountain

The office is in the room next door to the nursery. Whenever we put the boy down for the night, I take the opportunity to go online and do whatever while I wait to see if he really and truly is going to go to sleep. That is, in fact, what I'm doing right now--its earlier than usual for him but we had him out with us all day, starting with church at 10am, thru lunch and various varieties of shopping until about 4pm. We normally have him sit with us at the dinner table--we pull his carseat stroller up between us--and tonight he was so sleepy he fell asleep sitting up like that. Right now, he's psyching me out, making little noises that could either be "I'm cooing before I go to sleep," or "I'm winding up for the mother of all screaming sessions."

The shopping today was necessary and good. Mike got a new pair of shoes. He gets shoes with the same frequency that the children in the "Little House On the Prairie" books got shoes, so its always a big occasion. I am smack in the middle of my own personal midlife crisis which involves clothing: when I wasn't looking, clothes changed. Waistlines have both dropped and risen, fabrics are strangely stretchy and thin and the currency of the realm seems to be tunics. As a big gal, I can't quite rock the tunic. Tunics on skinny girls are swingy; tunics on big gals are muu muus. Imagine my surprise when, amid the tunics and the sleeveless tops I found a black boucle wool top. Sort of a bolero jacket, sort of a cape, sort of the stuff of my dreams. Sure, I won't be able to wear it until November, but I can wait. It was just nice to meet myself amid the racks at Marshalls. I do have taste, albeit odd, and I'm happy I found time amid motherhood to reinforce it.

Mike just came up with a bottle for the boy. The fussing has begun...