Here, Peanut, are just a few of your things that I'm completely enthralled with at the moment. (I'm not sure if grammar allows me to be "completely enthralled" but who cares, I am.)
I love the way you feed yourself. At the beginning of each meal you are tentative and uncertain, acting as though every day of your short life we have only offered you horrible, detestable fare, fit only for swine, and you are only taking a risk, this one last time, because you are so very hungry and because you are also very brave. Your shoulders creep up, you squeeze your other little hand into a tight fist, and tense your jaw muscles, opening your mouth just wide enough. Then the food is in--you do everything but visibly shudder, and then your whole body relaxes as you realize that for once, your mama and daddy have chosen to give you unspoiled, uncontaminated grub. Then the real fun begins, as you work with all your might to get the pieces of steamed veggies and rice, or fruit, or toast, off of the table and into your open, waiting mouth. When you're successful you start singing, shrill and crowing. When you're having trouble the grunting starts.
You also love to feed other people, and what I particularly love about this new skill of yours is that you almost only do it when the food you are sharing is something you really like or something you don't get very often. For instance, the couple of times that you've been handed a small piece of molasses cookie, or a fig bar. I love that you don't even think about sharing food you are ambivalent about. This is a good character trait, I think.
I love the way you point to Max on every page of "Where the Wild Things Are". You've been doing this for almost two months now and yet it never ceases to amaze or, yes, enthrall me. It's one of your favorite books but you can't always sit for the whole reading (even if I do it very fast). You will, however, sit in my lap and point, over and over with your little pointer finger, to the exact spot on each page where Max is. It's official: you got your daddy's genes. And your uncle's.
I love the way you dance. Anytime you hear music playing, especially if it has a good beat, you start moving your head "Walk like an Egyptian"-style and moving your knees up and down and all around. It irritates you if those around you aren't also feeling the spirit, but if they do, and join in, you'll start clapping and making little high-pitched screams of joy along with all the other movement.
Music is truly a religious experience for you. We have already exposed you to all the major genres and so far you seem to prefer rock and old-school jazz. You don't mind blues, as long as it's nice and funky, but classical music is pretty much hit and miss and you seem to think little of mainstream pop. You love Regina Spektor. You also LOVE Louis Prima, but I think just about any baby or child would. I think more children's music should sound like Louis Prima--that genre is downright scary.
I love the way you now sleep on your belly, legs tucked up under you and your little, almost non-existent bum up in the air. Your face is usually on your favorite pink blanket that your Grammi made you before you were born and your pint-sized Curious George is usually lying close by. If I cover you, you'll reach one of your hands out and pull the blanket up next to your face or rub your cheek with it. You're so peaceful and beautiful and calm when you're in dreamland.
I love you, Peanut Baby. Always have, always will.
Here, Peanut, are just a few of your things that I'm completely enthralled with at the moment. (I'm not sure if grammar allows me to be "completely enthralled" but who cares, I am.)
Can't you see it? Leaning over her walker, breathing through her teeth, strange sing-song chortling....it could have toys on it, too. You never know what the future holds for ambulation contraptions.
I wonder if age 72 will also bring back the gender questions. Lately lots of strangers (at the grocery store, at the coffee shop, etc) want to know how old "he" is. The great thing is she's usually dressed in some form of pink or something pretty obviously feminine, thanks to being the first grandchild on both sides and therefore being lavished with lots of lovely baby get-up from adoring family. And friends. And me. I wonder--if she were dressed in a hockey jersey and cargo pants, would everyone suddenly refer to her as a "she"? And what's wrong with at least asking? On days when I'm a little low on energy and estrogen I usually come back and say that "HE is definitely the prettiest little boy I've ever seen!" They usually don't get it.
Posted by Annagrace at 8:31 PM
Being sick while in the employ of an almost-9 month old bundle of energy and emotion is HARD. It gets me woefully behind in thinking, so writing becomes even harder.
Last week I was around a few people who were getting over the virus du jour but in many ways my immune system is better than it's ever been. So I wasn't worried. There's always something going around this time of year. Then, on the way home from Bellevue, my throat started feeling funny and it's steadily gotten worse. This morning I also woke up to the body and stomach aches of flu.
That precious little peanut of mine will happily play around any other adult, content to just be in the same room with someone, content to sing to herself, content to make up sounds and play with her toys and chatter and be. She doesn't do this with me. I am Mama and I must, by very definition, GIVE HER MY COMPLETELY UNDIVIDED ATTENTION. Or she cannot bear to live. It's just too much.
Posted by Annagrace at 10:30 AM
Big day today, lots to do. Food to prepare, errands to run, clothes to wash and put away, the house to tidy. So of course it makes sense that I was up till 3am with Pea. My champion sleeper forgets she even knows how when there is a tooth almost ready to pop.
I know I've said this before, but we don't really need anymore teeth around here for a long time, thanks. Having 8 at the age of 8 months should surely come with a guaranteed 4 months off. You know, to put her tired little body's accomplishments back on the grid marked "normal development".
I just put her down for her morning nap and she is singing in her high-pitched happy voice. When she's mad or upset it goes low and grunty and LOUD, but when she's happy it's high and almost chirpy.
Well, here I go--off to tackle today's List while trying to act like I'm rested and alert. I have two big days ahead of me. Wish me luck.
I hate being brave. I'm not good at it. I'm better at pretending that everything is fine and soldiering on. It's easier for me to hold stress down inside and not tell anyone. It's easier to suck it all in and try to act like everything is okay. When it isn't.
In the last two months there have been a lot of changes in my life. Some of them visible and some of them more subtle. I've been trying to figure out what the unifying theme is--why all these things are so different, and have affected different parts of my world, and yet have elicited the same response from me, inside, in my heart. I'm beginning to think the theme is Approval.
Two months ago saw the breakdown of a friendship I worked very hard for. I hadn't ever felt completely comfortable with the person. If I'm honest with myself I can look back at all the times spent with her and see that I often felt judged or criticized, I certainly never felt like I could completely be at ease. But dammit, I tried. I tried to make it work. I tried to ignore the voice in my head that was telling me to be cautious, to remember this person's track record with other people that I love and to be smart and be wise. The awful truth is, I thought that if I could get her to like me, and go out of my way and do lots of (unnecessary) things to get her approval, then....I don't know, exactly. I have this tendency, though, to pursue people who aren't the nicest to me. It's fucked up, I know. It's also how I was brought up--my father was horrible to me but I would have taken his approval over my mother's anytime. When it comes to dysfunction, I know how to work the system.
Just as I was starting to be honest with myself about how I truly felt around this person, and honestly assess how much I was giving to this relationship (a LOT of effort) versus how much I was receiving (not much), it all fell apart in a bigger way than I could have anticipated. And even here, inside the hurtful words, part of me wanted to acquiesce. Because of that damn hole in my heart called Need for Approval. I want the bully, the kid who acts like it's high school again and she's the funny one and therefore popular, I want her to like me. Damn it.
Fortunately, the light bulbs are starting to come on in even the dustiest, dirtiest places in my heart and I did the right thing, the hard thing. I gave up being liked by someone so that I could live with myself, and like myself a little bit more. I know it seems obvious--who wants to be around someone who keeps you looking over your shoulder, who is quick to start rumors about people you love, who uses their humor as a weapon? I don't. I just liked the temporary thrill of being liked. A little.
Two days ago I gave up a little job I took last month. There are many reasons, on the surface, why it wasn't working. We have new family responsibilities (more on this later) that are going to be requiring a lot of time and some travel. I had babysitting one morning a week for my work meeting, but the only time I could actually count on getting work done was the two evenings a week when I normally see Jeffrey. Jeffrey and I haven't really had a date since I started, and that's the longest we've gone in the 3+ years we've been married. In order to try and see Jeffrey around his work schedule and our other time commitments, I started pushing the work back to Saturday, which is supposed to be our family day. I'm so tired, all the time, and where there was little time for extra sleep, there was suddenly NONE.
The reasons for taking the job seemed to outweigh the risks of all of the above, however. It meant helping an organization that I'm a part of and really proud of, one that has done a lot of good for so many people. It meant helping friends of mine. It seemed to be a way to keep my brain awake and my "marketable skills" nice and sharp. I, and my experience, were greatly needed. And here we go again....more than anything, I took this job to gain the approval of people I like but haven't been able to feel very close to. These people are not bullies and they seem to have pretty good relational track records--but making a commitment based on wanting someone to like me more, or think more highly of me, or be impressed by what I know and what I can do, is still wrong.
When I gave notice a weight came off. Living for the approval of others is like stuffing your coat pocket with a medium-sized rock--it provides no extra warmth or protection, but initially it makes you feel impressed with your new strength. Carry it around for a few days, though, and you'll start walking in circles. Hmm. Strange analogy, I know. Very tired. Anyway, I feel lighter already, though still a bit anxious as I haven't had time today to return all the phone calls I've received regarding this and not everyone is going to understand.
I'm not sure if this is suffiently wrapped up, but it's already late and did I mention it? I'm very tired. Oh, and I still hate being brave.
This morning, when Jeffrey and Pea were playing before he went to work, she was holding her little Baby Sweetpea and saying, "Bah-bee, bah-bee." Baby. Wow. I am also certain that she is trying to say Bitte, what we're saying for "please" in our house, as whenever I have something she wants she starts yelling, "Beh, beh, beh!"
I know, we're teaching her some German when it would be so much better to know Japanese or Spanish. Or Mandarin. But we don't know Japanese, and the only thing I remember from high school Spanish is, "Un chocolate, por favor," if that's even correct. So much for the study of Latin helping you retain any other Romance language. But I digress.
Do you realize what this means? The little munchkin is trying to talk! I'm pretty sure, based on the language she's around on a daily basis, that her next word attempt will either be "crap", "shit", or "oh man". Hopefully the last one.
It looks like a whole new blog around here--and it's about time, I think! Thanks to Jeffrey's beautiful, brilliant brain, I now have a masthead I can be proud of, as well as a swell little logo. And it took him minutes, minutes I tell you.
Comments are open. I can't believe I'm giving up the control! Actually, I haven't opened them before because I happen to know that only two people, maybe three (you know who you are), are reading this, and both of them, I fear, are very shy. I feel that opening comments when you have no readers looks silly. And as this blog was originally intended as a journal for Penelope of my moments with her and thoughts about her, I didn't really care. Why would I want people's opinions on how cute I think she is and how much I love her and how much of my mind I'm losing, minute to minute? But now I'm feeling the urge to write more often, and about me as well as her, and I thought it might be a risk worth taking. Also, I've met a couple of really cool people who do this blogging thing and I've left them comments, so we'll see.
I'm also going to be changing the look and feel of this blog in the next week or so--sprucing it up a bit with the help of my other (geekier) half.
Woke up this morning to snow. Here is the humor in this....Last week, when we ended up getting a dusting of, say, one inch on vehicles and rooftops but very little on roads and thoroughfares, the weather-people were all proclaiming, "The storm of the year! It's coming! Have you heard about Denver? Get ready! There are minutes remaining, we tell you, to stock up on food and dry goods! Will this shut down the city? Let's go downtown and see if we can get a homeless person to appear on camera so we, in our toasty Columbia brand parka, hat, and gloves, can shove the mike into his shy little face and ask him just how cold he is! Cause it's getting worse! Oh, and the apocalypse? Fire, brimstone, and that nasty little fault-line we're all sitting on top of? That will be tomorrow's story!" Apparently it was a slow news day, as it was also the top story on all the stations/channels.
And then, of course, the aforementioned dusting. Have any of these people have actually been outside the northwest? My friend Cristina in Anchorage is probably laughing so hard right now. She's raising three children in that wilderness up north where they actually get more than an inch or two of snow at a time--and several times a year. Can you even believe it? How are they still alive? Why would move up there and let yourself get pregnant? People can die from snow...."
Last night there were predictions of a very tiny bit of snow falling early this morning, but nothing to worry about. Because, as you now know, we already had the storm of the year come through and now we are older and wiser and know what to do. And anyway, it will be only a teeny, tiny little bit.
When I woke up this morning there was already about half an inch on the ground and the flakes were falling fast and steady. It's now almost two in the afternoon and it only stopped about half an hour ago. There's almost two inches where we live (I'll be posting some pictures later when I have another spare moment). Still nothing, nothing at all to worry about for anyone who still has their mind, but enough to get in the way of most of the morning television programming.
What a funny place we live in! So incredibly, breathtakingly beautiful and green and relatively mild--no hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis (yet, though they've been predicting a big one for years), dust storms, insect swarms, Ebola, etc. Granted, most of the people moving here from other states (cough, cough, California) chose the Pacific Northwest because of the mild climate and relatively predictable weather patterns. But there are also a whole lot of peoples moving here from the middle and eastern parts of the country and I say, shame on you for forgetting so quickly what a real snowfall looks like.
Of course I can only complain so much, as most of the city of Portland doesn't seem to know how to drive in the rain.
Playing peek-a-boo with mama. Also one of the only times she's been in her travel crib (when it's not sleeping time) without having a yelling and/or screaming fit.
Sometimes when I look at her in pictures I cannot believe that she is actually mine....she is so lovely and sweet and bright.
From two of our upstairs' rooms you can see our little, white-fenced backyard. You can also see over that fence and into the backyards of the (very closely situated) duplex behind us. The following list is just what I can see to be living there--keep in mind that there is more below this layer.
bamboo blinds (patio sized)
cloth-lined wicker hamper
empty bottles of laundry detergent (oh, I get it, they're actually doing laundry out there)
large empty boxes with tattered Christmas wrap
chair (I would describe it, but it's buried so much I can't tell)
large empty bags from the annual Nordstrom Anniversary Sale (it's in July/Aug)
empty bottles of fabric softener (I think fabric softener is from the devil, but that's another post)
Penelope Aoife....you are 8 months and 10 days. Once again I feel like asking, "what?" and "why, why, why?". How is it possible that I have been a mother for this long? It's only a few months away from your first birthday and that is, quite frankly, more than a little frightening.
Here are some highlights from the past month, in no particular order.
You, silent and completely focused, climbing into the open (and empty) dishwasher. All the way in, into the bottom basket. You were very proud. I laughed so hard which means, of course, that I've been spending the past few weeks trying to keep you from repeating this performance when the dishwasher is full of knives, forks, and glass dishes.
You are still teething. Your dad must be right--you are going to try and get a full set in before you turn one. I'm not sure what your body thinks it has to prove, and who it thinks it has to prove it too, but your mouth is a virtual tooth factory and is obviously kicking the shit out of any competition.
You are cruising all around. (I hate the word "cruising" for some reason.) You have always preferred standing, or at least having your legs straight out below you, and now that you have more control over where you are and what you do, you can't believe all the options available to you. You will stand and play by the couch or the low window in the living room, jabbering, singing, and dancing up and down, for quite a long time. And I was right--you are a climber. You are my little monkey baby. You climbed four of the sixteen stairs in the front hall yesterday and you were so thoughtful and precise about it that I remembered what your dad said when you were just a couple of months old, and now I can't even remember the exact story or why he said it, but you had done something quite logical and well-thought-out, and your dad rolled his eyes at me and said, "great, she's feisty and analytical--this could get interesting.". When you would reach for each new stair, you first patted the length of it like you were checking for the most secure position for your hands. Then you would carefully swing your knees up onto the stair below, check and see if you liked where you were on that stair and whether or not the view had significantly changed, and then you'd reach up for the next one, patting your little hand along the top. So funny.
You got a walking toy for Christmas from your Grami and you walk all around the downstairs with it, pushing it far out in front and hunching your shoulders up, your eyebrows hovering around your hairline, your feet turned out, jabbering incessantly as you toddle. You have a certain kind of jabbering that you save for the walking toy and it's high-pitched and fast and heavily punctuated and I'm afraid that sometimes I can see into the future, when you're somewhere around sixty-eight, driving, and probably on the phone.... and I am very, very afraid.
You can say Da, Da-Da, Daddd, and Daddy but which one it is, day to day, is dependent on your mood. You also say Mama, and it's true that the first time I heard you call me that, to my face, I promised you the world and the moon and stars all over again. You say Na-na for food and any time you need your circumstances to immediately change. For instance, if you're in your high-chair and want out of it and I'm not paying enough attention to your bellowing and trumpeting, then you start saying Na-na-na-na-na (etc, etc) until you have been set free. If you want to nurse, though, you also use this word, however it's usually with a softer, sadder tone of voice. I'm not sure how you came up with this word, or settled upon it, but you've always seemed to be quite clear regarding its meaning. You also say Ba-ba and I think you are trying to repeat one of your favorite songs, Ba Ba Black Sheep, as you don't use bottles (of your own choice) and only recently got some toy balls.
You love to eat whatever you see on your dad's or my plate and would always rather try something new or different from whatever is in your bowl. You're not a huge fan of sweet tastes--you prefer savory. This is not to say, of course, that at 8 months you have had a chance to try all the lovely and wonderful sweet things the world has to offer (and also, at times, your parent's cupboards). But what you have tasted hasn't really met your gastronomic standards, with the exception of fresh or freshly cooked pears, homemade applesauce, oranges, and Barbara's
blueberry fig bars. On the other hand, at only 8 months you have already found the following to be to your liking: jambalaya (I didn't give you any meat and it wasn't particularly spicy), hummus (this was an accident and though I would never give you any on purpose, you would prefer it if I did), fresh cucumber, avocado wedges, toast from this AMAZING bread, scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes with green onions, steamed broccoli, and rice. You also LOVE water and as a result you won't be getting juice for a very long time. It would be tempting fate.
You are incredibly affectionate. You cuddle down into anyone that you love and feel safe with and for the most part anyone who isn't on that list isn't allowed near you anyway. You love to rest your cheek against mine as I carry you around the house or as I'm just holding you. You love to stand with me in front of every mirror in our little house, and while I whisper mama secrets to you (you have beautiful little ears), you stare shyly into the glass and suck your fingers. You love to give kisses, especially when people are not expecting it. And your favorite thing to do, right now, is get right up next to their mouth and then in the split-second before your lips touch theirs you stick out your tongue. It's hilarious and you know it--you get a very sly look look on your face that reminds me of your great-grandma Joy. She would have loved you.
There are so many more things to list but I'm stopping here for now. If I don't get to the laundry and start in on the house, we're going to look like we've been fraternizing with our backyard neighbors. But more on them later.
People I'd like to have tea with, copied from blackbird. I mean coffee. Her name isn't coffee, it's blackbird. But I would rather have coffee than tea. And if some of these people aren't currently alive and kicking, then it means I would have liked to have had coffee with them near the end of their life. When (if?) they were feeling thoughtful or reflective. Okay, then.
Angelina Jolie (shut up)
I'd also like to meet with some of the "Christian Leaders" who apparently advise our dear president on a daily/weekly basis. I would like to know how they reconcile their faith and their works, to say it broadly and somewhat politely.
It's snowing. The sky was clear and bright this morning, with lovely bits of sun and fog layered together, but then it was suddenly gray, and then gray-ish brown, and now comes down a steady swirl of snow. It's not sticking yet but it's supposed to. I made a HUGE pot of chili yesterday and our cupboards are full so I have half a mind to say, "do it--do your worst."
But then again, I have plans to spend some time with Angie and we don't get much time together these days.
Sometimes I want to give up on people entirely. Because they're cruel and rude and mean-spirited. I want to just throw in the towel completely and tell them how badly they failed to live up to even basic expectations of humanity and decency.
Sometimes I'm done believing that people will change. Because I wait and wait and they don't. Except sometimes they get worse.
Sometimes I wonder how I can possibly muster the willpower to try again, to give someone another chance, when I see in their lives the direct results of their behavior and yet it seems to be rewarded by those around them and by their circumstances.
Sometimes I wonder just how divided someone has to be in their soul to seem to have two completely different sides and manners of dealing with people.
It's a new year. We had the first annual lasagna feed and it was a success, I think. I made up two big pans with a delicious recipe from this book that just needs a tad bit of this and a teensy bit of that but overall it was very good. Jeremy brought his good friend who is in town for the holidays and Tiffany and Mom came, and Joanna and Pete. Penelope was thrilled to see her people again so soon. I think that the day after a family get-together is often a bit of a let-down for her. She is incredibly attached to us, it's true, but the others are just so damn fun and we're just so.... you know, the same. Every day. No surprises, no thrills. We are vanilla and her family is strawberry.
I'm still trying to get over this nasty boob thing and I'm tired. My mom helped out several days last week so I could rest, but I'm still not feeling completely better. Now Jeffrey is sick, probably from from giving up his rest the past few weekends so I could sleep in. Pea is cutting a molar, bringing the tooth count to 9, and teething in our house means snotty nose and not sleeping well. I'm tired just thinking about this week. I haven't had a chance to write about it yet, but I've also recently taken on the job of operations manager for our little church. This week there is a lot to be done and a lot that needs done in a timely fashion.
Happy New Year! My one resolution is to get to bed earlier at night and still get everything done. We'll see. But if I can end 2007 any less tired than I ended 2006, we'll be heading in the right direction.