Saturday, May 31, 2008

Full Disclosure

Today was Saturday and Saturday is Baby Day. Its the day Mike works but Donny and I have off. We usually have a good time on Saturdays.


I barked at my 13 month old son today--he really wanted to take a nap but he wouldn't. The whining, the whining, it went on and on. For well over an hour. I had taken him out of his crib into our bed and, usually, he tires himself out there just sort of rolling around. I finally just took him off the bed, sat him down on a pile of dirty laundry and said, "WHAT do you WANT? WHAT IS IT that you WANT?" That doesn't look so bad on paper but I guess I have A Tone because he looked hurt and then started really crying. I finally took him downstairs to play some more, which he did while whining. When Mike got home he noticed a fourth tooth coming in up top so maybe that's part of it but I don't know. And maybe I'm imagining it, but I don't think Donovan made eye contact with me the rest of the night. Not until after dinner at least. He was all smiles and laughs for Dad. I'm torn between feeling guilty and cheesed off.

With that combination of emotions in mind, I present the following list of complaints:

1. I wish my son wouldn't whine so much. Cutting it down to 50% of the time would be nice.

2. I wish he was more affectionate. He's really not at all. Not to me or his Dad. Not even to stuffed animals.

3. I wish my kid liked stuffed animals.

4. I wish my kid didn't have to "spike" all his toys. Currently that's how he plays with everything: pick it up, gather some strength, slam it down, repeat. And since he doesn't like stuffed animals, he's spiking blocks, puzzle pieces, little battery operated keyboards, big battery operated bilingual talking drums--lots of heavy things that make crashing noises.

5. I wish the developmental specialists would have been more forthcoming about where Donny is developmentally. This whole, "We don't look at milestones, we look at progress" thing is bullshit. The hell they don't look for milestones. They make their living off of milestones. I bet they all have stock in that horrible Baby Einstein company.

6. I wish one damn store in Allegheny County carried shoes in Donovan's size. Allow me to correct that: I wish one damn store in Allegheny County carried shoes in Donovan's size for under $45 dollars. You heard me right. I don't spend that much for shoes for myself and my feet are much bigger.

In all fairness, Donny's list might look something like this:

1. Enough with the oatmeal, Ma. Seriously. Enough.

2. What's with the terrible radio station? Didn't you download all sorts of good music for me?

3. Pick your own nose--leave mine alone.

4. Kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss: save it for someone who reciprocates.

5. All the other ladies make big excited faces when they talk to me. My own mother and you're so blase. Makes me wonder if you even care.

6. And for the last time: The Sippy Cup Is Not An Option.

Hopefully we'll both sleep it off.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Petting Zoo Withdrawl

The University where I work recently formalized its choice of mascot. For years, most folks thought the mascot was a Scottie dog but, officially speaking, we never had a mascot.

Now we do: A Scottie Dog. And the University has been given an 8 week old scottie puppy who will be the actual mascot.

I got to go to a luncheon for the lady who bred and raised the pup--I was hoping to meet the puppy today but she's too tired from her trip. I might get to meet her next week and I'm seriously geeked.

When I was growing up in Elyria--in a not-wealthy-but-nice neighborhood--it seemed like there were always puppies and kittens around. The kittens were usually strays and the puppies usually belonged to someone. Nowadays, you don't see that as much. I know that's good: overpopulation of dogs and cats only brings misery and I'm sure I'm seeing fewer puppies and kittens because more people are spaying and neutering their animals. All this is good.

But I miss the kittens. And the puppies. We are going to have to make a real effort for Donovan to grow up with and around animals.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Me, Bob Dylan and Queen Victoria

Today was my birthday today and it was very, very nice. My husband got me a biography of Evelyn Nesbit that I did'nt even know existed and, when he got home from work, he brought me a burnt almond torte from Whole Foods. Donovan gave me the best gift a one year old can give his mother which is a nap that lasted from 10:30 until 2:00pm. While he slept I was able to mop the kitchen floor with some ammonia, do laundry, make cornbread and do some inital weeding in the front yard. Once the boy woke up there was playing to be done and a walk to take. My friend Kirsten offered an evening of babysitting for my birthday, which meant Mike and I got to go to Gooski's together for the first time since...well, since my birthday last year.

My folks called today and when my Mom asked what I was up to tonight, I told her, "I'm trying to decide between going someplace fancy or just going to Gooski's" "Go to Gooskis--get reaquainted with each other." I love my Mom.

Now its time to get some cake: Hot. Damn.

Friday, May 23, 2008

The Art of Walking

Mike and Donny and I went for a little "walk" last night. I use the quotes because Donovan is not really walking on his own yet but he's getting damn close. You'll note in the above photo that he's holding onto Dad with one hand. It's fun to watch him--every step he takes, he gets this wild look on his face, like, "I did it! Holy Shit, I did it again! AND AGAIN!!!"
When I see that look, my heart fills with love and the listening room in my head is filled with variations on this. You have to listen to the end to hear the part that I've been hearing.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

I Think I'm Raising A Monster

Full Disclosure: I don't know anything about babies. I certainly don't know how to raise them. That the doctors at West Penn let us take Donny home without so much as a paralell parking test is still shocking to me and, 13 months into it all, I still think I'm winging it.

That all being said, I used some babyfree time yesterday (Donny spent Saturday with the Pittsburgh Grandparents) reading my babyfood cookbooks. One of them made some mention of sleep training and I thought, "Hmm: Should we be doing that?"

Here's the thing: Percentagewise, Donovan's sleep habits are fine. We put him down, he usually wakes up once, we go in and reinsert his binkston and all is well. Now and then there's a high maintenance night, usually due to teething.

Here's the other thing: Putting Donny to bed can be the best part of the day. I like his nursery, I like holding him, we still give him a nighttime bottle (is that so wrong?) and I do feel like my time with him is so limited. That's not working mom guilt, that's just facts: he's at daycare from 9 until 5:30. That's 8 1/2 hours, folks, and a couple of hours after that are just the getting home mess.

I realize we're going to have to let him learn to soothe himself soon. He's up to 18 pounds now and, soon, I won't be able to carry him around anymore. Not easily at least. If I put him in his crib asleep for a few more weeks, he won't turn into Norman Bates, will he?

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Get Out Your Dreambooks...

I called my folks tonight. Mom said she had had two dreams about me. "In the first one, you were a toddler. Mr. Pletcher [our archnemesis neighbor: more on that someday if you buy me a drink] had you over on their porch across the street and he was lovin' you up saying, "You don't have to go home, you don't have to go home" and I was seething!" Dream #2: "You had had a baby girl and when I asked you were Donovan was, you said, "I don't know. I can't watch him all the time!"

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Only Love Can Break Your Heart, Pt. 2

Our cat Nina died today.

That may come as a shock to some people but those who know us will remember that last year she was diagnosed with cancer and given 2 months to live. She got in close to 9. She hadn't been feeling well and had stopped eating. We were torn between upsetting her (and, frankly, our budget) with a trip to the vet and watching her go down hill. This morning when I woke up she was sleeping in her usual spot behind my legs. Last night she sat on my lap for a long time letting me pet her. While we were at work today she went down in the basement, found a secluded spot and slipped away.

Anyone who's lost a pet knows how awful it is. Anyone who's never had a pet may not realize that its worth getting your heart broken every 4-6 years or so.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Fussiness All Around

I recently reconnected with one of my favorite fellow telemarketing alum buddies via the miracle of Facebook. She has a great life going on, including her duties writing and editing the Astrology pages. I need to ask her what sort of meteor destroyoed Mercury last night because, between 10pm and just about now, life has been thrown cattywampus. I took off of work yesterday to follow up on housestuff, including signing for a registered letter that was inexplicably sent to the Downtown Pittsburgh postoffice, dealing with my cell phone plan at the office of origin, and--wonder of wonders--clothes shopping. With Donny in daycare I got an amazing about of stuff done. I even got to go out to dinner with Shirley.

Then I went home.

Donny has been teething for the past 3 or 4 days and the poor kid is miserable. He's been feverish off and on, spitting up constantly and just unable to sleep. Last night there were hours of shrieking and squirming and general malaise. He did finally fall asleep a little bit after 1am--I think he was just too exhausted to cry any more. This morning he managed to spit up twice, one of which was just when we'd put him in his carseat. He made it to daycare alright but I ended up taking his bag of lunch and bottles to work with me by mistake. Then I spilled a bottle of cranberry juice in my purse. THEN I found out one of the candidates for the job search I'm working on may be spitting the bait.


I wish I was one of those graceful people who are able to keep a clean house and a nice yard and a balanced checkbook. I always feel like I'm scrambling to stay afloat. If I'm going to feel overworked, I'd at least like my life to be polished and tidy--I mean, if I'm overworked, why is nothing getting done?

Sunday, May 4, 2008

We Spit On Your Graves

You knew it was coming. I bet you thought it wouldn't take this long. What surprised me was where: St. Mary's and NOT Homewood.

I had to be creative today: Mike's working so it was just me and the boy again today. I thought I'd take him into Bloomfield, we'd pick up a bus schedule at the Hospital and plan our next move from there. My first thought was to take him to the playground but that was a bust. That meant we were stranded in Bloomfield on a Sunday until the next Polish Hill bound 54C came by. 2 and a half hours. Not bad for me but for a one year old that must seem like eternity. So I did the thing any right thinking mother would do: I took my kid to the Catholic cemetery.

St. Mary's is a beautiful old cemetery, as you can see by the photos. I took a tour there once that was so poorly done I screamed in my head for an hour and still had to leave early. I don't know the cemetery that well so I stuck to the area near the gate. We set up camp in the shade of a lovely old mausoleum that looked like it had never been sandblasted--it still had that black industrial soot patina that all the local churches are so quick to wash away. I got Donovan out of his stroller and we walked up and down the path. He did really well walking, holding on to just one of my fingers with one of his hands. He did'nt seem very interested in the cool old stones and mausoleums but he was laughing and enjoying the breeze and the lovely green grass.

All that being said, I'd like to send an apology out to the Fraudenlien family. Donny and I got into a raspberry contest right in front of their family lot. We meant no disrespect but it felt somehow very wrong. Funny, but very wrong.

We had a nice visit but still had too much time to kill so we caught a 54C into Oakland. We had 15 minutes before the 54C that would take us back into Polish Hill. I thought Donny might like the fountain at the Carnegie Art Museum--he in fact liked it so much he almost dragged me into it. He stood there at the edge and just laughed, like he was an evil scientist savoring the view of the planet he was about to blow up.

Now we're home and he's asleep in his carseat. I think my face is sunburned--a small price to pay.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Busy Rainy Day

Considering everything Donny and I did today there should be a ton of photos. There are not, however. I'm telling myself that's because I was in the moment and not outside of it with a camera. That and the fact that fumbling thru the diaperbag to find the camera can be such a chore...

Mike dropped Donovan and I off at the Kidstuff Rummage Sale. The sale took place at the adorable little Swedenborgian church that's nestled at the end of the adorable little street called Le Roi Road. Seriously, its too sweet, with its cottagey little houses and lawns just brimful of spring flowers. Note to self: play Powerball this week...

Walking up to the church I saw Amy Lewis, a Shanley family friend of long standing. She had a handful of fliers about the sale that she was getting ready to tape up on the barricades that were blocking the main street. Turns out today was the Spring Hat Luncheon for the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy. It was also the opening ot the Pittsburgh International. Pittsburgh has days like that where everything is happening at once.

ANYhow, the rummage sale was small but I got some good swag, including an excellent (if I do say so myself) gift for Ms. Stella Dot. When we got done it was officially raining. I should mention that the umbrella I thought was in the car had not been there so we were open to the elements. Luckily, I knew just the place for us to wait out the rain: the porch of the Visitor's Center at the Frick, Pittsburgh.

Friends, this is where I wish I had taken out my camera. I worked at the Frick for over 10 years and even before Donny came along I'd thought how great it would be to take a kid there just to run around. It would also be historically accurate--union busting jagoff that he was, Frick loved kids. As my Uncle Vic would say, Donny and I "dodged the raindrops" and ran the half a block to the Frick. I got him out of his stroller and let him walk around the Visitor's Center porch. For those of you who have never been there, the Visitor's Center is actually the Children's Playhouse. Its an actual, livable house but somethings, like the porch railings, are scaled down to kidsize. Perfect for a little mouthbreather like my boy to hold onto as he teetered along. It was my favorite type of day at the Frick; rainy and green and lush. The grounds are so wonderful and you can't beat that porch for a vantage point. As we sat there alot of my docent buddies reported for their workday and I got to introduce Donny to some of my favorite people. He obliged me by being his charming self. The rain tapered off and my friend Charles loaned me the world's largest umbrella. Which was good because as soon as we got to the busstop the heavens opened. We took the bus into Oakland and, long story short, ended up at the Carnegie Library. Donny played with the wooden table with the beads and I finally got to take some pictures of the Beatrix Potter exhibit:
This is a long view to show the painted backdrop. Should I be all geeky and mention that the Carnegie Library is connected to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History which despite the best efforts of people I disagree with still has a fine selection of dioramas with handpainted backdrops? Please note the lady who "presented" the display was named "Mabel." So how old is this thing? You should probably enlarge this photo to see that the bunnies in the diorama are made out of catkins. You know; the fuzzy pods on pussywillows. LOVE it. Love it, love it, love it.

After about an hour at the library we caught the 54C home. Donny fell dead asleep in my arms about halfway there so, when we got in, I curled up with him in my bed and took a little nap. I figured the dishes could wait.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Wherein I Very Uncharacteristically Thank a Saint

10 days ago, and I don't quite remember how I thought to do this, I decided to pray a novena to St. Jude. Vatican II came to Elyria, Ohio when I was 4th grade. Up until then CCD class was like regular school--you sat at desks and raised your hand when you wanted to answer a question. CCD was better than regular school in that you could win stuff just for memorizing things. I'm freakishly RainManlike when it comes to memorizing. I acquired a nice cache of holy cards and medals.

Then my Mom moved me from St. Mary's to Sacred Heart (you know: The Church That Won't Baptise My Baby). No more desks--we all sat in a circle on the floor and talked about "feelings." No more holy cards or medals--and definitely no learning how to say a novena or a rosary or anything even remotely traditional or interesting like that.

So I went online and found a St. Jude Novena site. Of course there's a St. Jude novena site. I printed out their handy form for keeping track of my devotions and set forth on the nine day "program."

I won't go into detail but suffice it to say I took this drastic measure because I simply could not handle the level of worry that was building up in me. It felt like a huge knot of threads--I'd try to untangle one but it would only tighten another. I did'nt want miracles I just wanted some freakin' Peace of Mind. Enough that I could get the day to day stuff done. Enough to stop spiraling out of control. So I prayed a novena and, oddly, I think it worked. No miracles, no rays of light emanating from my head, but I did calm down.

The St. Jude Novena apparently is very old but really took hold in the Chicago area in the late 1800s/early 1900s. One of the more charming 19th century aspects of the Novena is that, after you complete it, you are supposed to make a public statement about it. The traditional way is to take out an add in the newspaper thanking St. Jude. Not knowing which newspapers he subscribes to these days, I figure I'll give him a shout out on the ol' Blogski: Dear Patron Saint of the Hopeless--thanks for calming me down. It really helped me get my life back on track. Here's hoping I won't be bothering you again any time soon but its good to know you're out there.