Thursday, December 25, 2003

We Wish You A Merry Christmas...

From our house to yours, wishing you happiness, health and peace, whichever holiday you celebrate!

So, to all my dear friends: Happy Solstice, Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, and may 2004 bring you joy!

Not A Creature Was Stirring...

Except me and my dogs.

Even the teething baby has finally fallen into a peaceful sleep. My husband is snoring away upstairs, even though it is only 5 pm here. He's not the sort of person who can function on long term sleep deprivation, so he's trying to assure that he will be able to get up and go to work tomorrow.

Its a bit of a boring holiday for me at the moment, but hopefully he'll just nap an hour or so and then we can watch LoTR: The Two Towers, which was one of my gifts to him (and myself, I guess...)

We had nice morning: got up, had English muffins, opened the couple of gifts still wrapped under the tree (we are two instant gratification kids-- we tend to give each other our gifts the moment they are bought, so all we had left to open were the presents my parents sent ) (and only those they wrapped-- the ones that were unwrapped were opened and played with long ago...) and then headed to church with the Boy. It was a nice service-- the church was full of babies, which makes the birth of one little baby ages ago seem so much more immediate, at least to this relatively new mom.

Mikro was amazingly well behaved, up until the point when he attempted to eat the pew, and discovered that wood is an evil substance. Much harder than the rubber teething toy he discarded in favor of the furniture biting attempt... Then he howled. At one point, we had quite the infant chorus going.

We were in a happy, relaxed mode, until we walked back in the front door and found that our dear dogs had completely trashed the house in our absence.

My husband went ballistic.

Which just scared the little dog into adding to the mess by peeing on the floor.

Which did nothing to improve dear spouse's mood.

After a major clean-up job, he calmed down and we had a quiet afternoon, until the Boy started screaming inconsolably. At which point we discovered one sharp white little tooth cutting its way through his gums in the top middle. At least that explains his attempt to eat the pew. Poor little guy finally nursed down for a nap, and I now have the first chance in almost a week to update my blog. I haven't even had a chance to read anyone lately!

Let's see-

Saturday we went to a mall. Yes, we are insane. Kev got me a new cell phone to replace our broken one, and upgraded us to the family plan so he could have a phone of his own. He was at the kiosk so long I had a panic attack because he was supposed to meet me in Sears, and he was waaaaay late, and I wandered the whole mall looking for him. To make matters worse, he had the diaper bag, and I had the Boy. I finally thought to check back at the cell phone place (he was supposedly seconds away from being done an hour before, when he urged me to go off and shop and meet up with him at Sears...), and he was still there, and another half hour away from being done...

Sunday is a blur. I think we cleaned the house, laid rubber tile around for Mikro's benefit, and wrapped presents.

Monday afternoon, Mikro's godmother stopped by and watched me decorate our tiny little Charlie Brown fiber optic Christmas tree with homemade spiral solstice ornaments. Monday evening the Crazy Artists stopped by and we exchanged gifts. They were very impressed with how much Mikro has grown, and all of his new tricks. He's crawling like a champ, and pulling up, and cruising. His newest form of entertainment is to crawl over to the baby gates, stand up, and dance.

My parents were supposed to come visit Monday, but cancelled because my Dad has a bad cold.

Tuesday was my SSDI hearing. Stress city. Kev went with me. At first, they made me go in alone, which I really didn't want to do. Then Kev was allowed to come in and testify for me. We left there and went across the street so I could get a cup of tea and calm my nerves. We wound up eating at a Subway's and feeding Mikro solids there. There was a really cool toy store, called Educational Warehouse, right in that minimall, so we went looking for some last minute Mikro-pleasers. While we were there, my usually fairly unmushy husband says: "I really must love you an awful lot. I was so worried about you when you had to go in there alone." and gives me a huge bearhug.

Mikro made out like a bandit, and so did I at the Office Max, where Kev bought me a laser printer. (Mine is seriously screwed up and probably soon to completely expire.)

Then we went home and cleaned up for my MIL's impending visit.

Christmas Eve, Kev's buddy J drove up here with Kev's mom. We had a really nice day, listening to Christmas carols, talking, going out for dinner, and watching our little guy flirt with his grandmother. He got to tear up his first wrapping paper. Of course, as soon as a strip of paper came off in his hand, he lost all interest in the present and focused on the amazing paper strip...

I am starting to think that my husband and son have the right idea for how to spend the rest of the afternoon. A nap sounds really good. But then, I probably will just stare at the ceiling, unable to sleep...

Uh oh. I hear a dog raiding the garbage... Gotta go.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Friday, December 19, 2003

Pax Maternal

Last night my Mom (who hasn't talked to me in two days) calls my husband to ask him what laptop I've been drooling over (my current model is a $40 wonder from Goodwill with a 4MB hard drive, barely running Windows 3.11 for Workgroups and Wordperfect 5.1...). She ends their conversation with: Tell her to call me if she's not too mad at me.

In my family, that is as close to an apology as you get.

So, of course, I called her, because I missed her way too much not to, even though nothing really got resolved and probably never will...

We just pretend nothing happened.

My mom and I have a little ritual. Ever since I got married and moved away, neither of us have anyone to share a pot of tea with. So every day I make tea, call her, tell her to do the same, and we share a cuppa across the miles. I am glad she's talking to me again!

Once I throw a load of laundry in, I'm going to brew up a pot of the new Assam loose tea I got last night and call my mother.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

An Addendum

I just want to make sure that no one thinks that, based on my last post, I do not respect the choices of other parents who formula feed, or use a crib, or make other choices different than mine. I choose what works best for me, and have nothing but respect for other people's right to do the same.

It is my mother's inability to respect my choices that I take issue with. Not any particular parenting method.

I strive to not be judgmental, but I tend to fall short and judge people for being judgmental. Sigh. Something to work on.

Mothers, Brothers, Sons -or- More Family Drama Than You Can Shake a Stick at...


Thank you all for the kind and concerned comments about my little brother's situation! It turns out it is probably a benign cyst, which will need to be monitored frequently, but he is not in immediate danger. They are actually as concerned (if not moreso) with his chain smoking and his blood pressure. He's 35 and has way too many self destructive habits for anyone's good. We are praying this scare is a wake up call for him to start getting his act together...


In other news... Not that my life is newsworthy...

My mother is driving me crazy.

I love her dearly. She is one of my very best friends.


This grandparent/parent dynamic is not something that is working real well.

She's a great gramma to Mikro-- don't get me wrong. But whoa is she critical of me as a mother, and I really am starting to not be able to be civil about it.

I have tried to make sure that we didn't get into this conflict. I have told her that the experts are singing a different song now than in the sixties, when she was in my position. I do not blame her for not breastfeeding-- the medical establishment was pushing formula as the nifty scientific and superior option. Crying it out was all the rage then too. I have no problem with the choices she made, based on the information available at the time. I really do not want her to feel defensive because I have chosen another path.

However, I have a major problem with forty year old parenting advice being held up as graven in stone wisdom from on high, and Doctor Spock as the be all and end all of any issue. No offense to Spock, especially since I haven't read him. I have read tons of more modern tomes, and not just the ones written from the hippy dippy crunchy granola perspective that I share. I have done my research, I talk to other parents, including my mom and MIL, and I have made my decisions based on what I believe to be best for me and my family.

Enough second guessing and criticism, subtle or otherwise! I get to live with the consequences, good or bad. I love my son more than anything in the world. I would do anything for him. I will never willingly put him in danger or hurt him in any way.

Why is that so hard to understand?

I do not mind advice, but I will not blindly follow orders. That has never been my nature, and it never will be.

First it was comments that I am starving her grandson, because his primary nutrition is still breastmilk. Since solids at this point are largely for teaching him to eat, and discovering any sensitivities he may have to particular foods, I occasionally will let a day go by where all the Boy gets is boobie. My mother thinks this is equivalent to abuse and starving him.

Then it was that I am retarding his development by only letting him crawl around on the futon, rather than the floor, in a room that was not yet baby proofed.

So we finally get it kidlet safe, and put down those rubber puzzle piece flooring tiles to make his falls less likely to injure, and give him the freedom and space she was complaining we were denying him. His crawling has improved dramatically, and he is already pulling up and creeping along while holding onto the furniture. (He has been doing it for almost ten days, and just turned eight months old today.)

Yesterday I put him down in the middle of the floor, in a baby gated rubber matted room, and walked ten feet away to answer the door and sign for a package, while on the phone with my mother. I could see the Boy at all times. He was sitting and chewing a rattle. I picked the phone back up and got screamed at that I can't just put him down like that, it's not safe, I should have put him in the exersaucer. Which is it? Does he need freedom to grow and explore, or to be wrapped in bubble wrap and duct taped to a wall for his safety (ok, so it's a gross exaggeration, but I am pissed at the implication that I put him at risk. He was perfectly safe where he was.)

Nothing I do is ever right.

I got him a flu shot. That was a major source of second guessing until babies started dying from influenza. Now that topic has mercifully been allowed to drop.

We co-sleep. So I am told I am raising a pervert, or that he will be a clingy, needy little wimp boy all his life.

So how come, every doctor, every stranger, every friend who meets Mikro comments on how happy, secure, responsive and developmentally advanced he is?

I will just keep messing him up with my weirdo hippy parenting ways, thank you! The proof of the pudding is in the eating, and my little pudding is as sweet, smart, special and good natured as anyone could ever wish a baby to be. It ain't broke, and I ain't fixin' it.

And if people don't like my tone of voice when I respond to criticism, they should quit pushing the parental guilt button, and I will be my sweet civil self. Goad me about how I am a rotten mother, and I will snark back. So I guess that makes me a rotten daughter too? So be it. I am sick of this particular conflict.

So she hung up on me yesterday, and hasn't called today, even though I called and left a message. All this is in perfect keeping with my family's sick need to manufacture drama and crises around the holidays.

It is predictable, but maddening nevertheless.

Enough of this rant, I am going to go warp the Boy's mind by hugging him and telling him I love him.

Friday, December 12, 2003

Worried (and Pissed)

My kid brother spent the night in the hospital. He has been having blindingly bad headaches for two weeks, and finally got to the doctor yesterday. A couple of CAT scans and MRIs later, I got a call that he had a brain abnormality and they were going to attempt to relieve pressure on his brain by surgery.

I went to bed worried sick. It was late at night, and the trains weren't running, so there is no way I could have gotten there. And with the flu rampant and killing children, I am not sure I would have taken the risk of dragging my seven and a half month old into an ER setting... But anyway, after tossing and turning all night, my mom called. She and Dad spent the night at he hospital with him, in a panic.

But now the news is, they are releasing him without doing anything. They did want a spinal tap to rule out other things, but my brother refused.

So here I sit, a bundle of nerves, wondering if he is really OK afterall, if he is being discharged AMA or not, and why every member of my family of origin is an absolute blithering idiot when it comes to taking care of their own health!

Why would anyone walk around dizzy, in pain and on the verge of passing out for two weeks without seeing a doctor?

And why, if there was pressure on his brain needing relieving, is it suddenly OK not to relieve it?

And what the hell are the other things a spinal tap would have ruled out?

My first creepy thought is meningitis...

So now I get to worry about him some more, and also worry whether he has a contagious disease that will kill my parents too, because all three of these loved ones are too damn stupid to do the most rudimentary things to take care of themselves and safeguard their health.


Thursday, December 11, 2003

The Antidote to Cabin Fever and Depression

I actually got out of the house yesterday.

And had a really wonderful time.

One of my oldest and dearest friends, a person I consider to be a sister, came up to visit Mikro and me.

We went on a jolly little jaunt, shopping at The Westchester Mall in White Plains. Upscale in the extreme. Way outside my budget, but really fun to see how the other half lives. The anchor stores are Nordstrom's and Neiman Marcus. I couldn't afford anything in there, but I had fun trying on $465 hats and $300 scarves... (If the hat had been $46.50, I would have snapped it up, LOL. It had orchids and foliage sculpted in wool, an actual piece of wearable art.)

Most fun of all was hanging out with my friend and Mikro, and watching the two of them together. Cin would make a great mama.

We had lunch at my favorite diner, The City Limits, and then made the rounds of the mall, picking up small but really cool presents for the people on our lists, and for each other. Cin bought me a beautiful silk folder with colored pencils and a watercolor pad, a bottle of perfume I liked, and a beautiful tea towel with scotty dogs appliqued on, which I am going to make a pillow out of, to match my scotty dog sheets... She got Mikro his first teddy bear, and a really cool plush fire truck that zips open to reveal a fireman, dalmation, hydrant and pail of water, all of which are rattles or noisemakers. He'll love it now for the texture and sounds, and later for imaginative play. I bought her a couple of blouses she picked out in Abercrombie & Fitch, and treated her for lunch.

We used the Mothers' Room at Nordstrom's when it was time to breastfeed Mikro and change his diaper. It was a really nice, comfy, private area. Best public breastfeeding accommodations I've yet found.

We brought my SUV of a stroller with us, and it carried all our purchases handily. But it developed a horrible high pitched wheel squeak, and I started to think someone would ask us to leave, it was so noisy. No one did, of course... I wonder if the poor thing was protesting at being so overloaded?

Mikro was so incredibly pleasant and well behaved all day. And it was a long day for him. He took a two hour nap in the stroller, had bananas and yogurt at the Diner, and sat up looking around and charming people the rest of the time (four plus hours). We got tons of comments about how alert and social he is (and of course, how cute. My son is a complete flirt!)

We had a blast, and spent too much money (this is the first Christmas in about seven years that I could afford to be truly generous, and I admit I went a bit overboard), but it was a really fun day.

I don't have many of those.

Yes, I love my son, and he makes me smile on a daily basis. And laugh more than I have in years. I love my husband too. And I am constantly amazed and appreciative at the gift of seeing a whole new side of him that fatherhood has brought out. But I am usually depressed and in pain, and the endless stream of daily life trapped in the house, a prisoner of pain and anxiety, gets old.

It's rare for me to really let loose and have a good time. Cin helped me do that. She's a great friend!

We ended the day vowing to get together more often. I hope we do!

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

One More Elf Photo

He wasn't as cooperative this afternoon, so I couldn't get many shots... He pulled down the backdrop and tried to eat it.

But I liked this one...

Now he's crabby beyond belief. I think he may be teething again.

Sigh. Poor little elfboy.

My Little Elf is Nocturnal

Mikro woke up screaming at 3 am. It wasn't a diaper or hunger issue. After a few minutes of rocking, he calmed down and was all smiles.

Do infants have nightmares?

Once he was happy again, he absolutely refused to go back to sleep. He wanted to play. Wouldn't let me sleep either, because he kept bopping me in the head with his stuffed pony toy. He finally ran out of steam at 430, and slept till 730.

He's been up since then, and I dressed him in a baby Santa suit. I set up a Christmas-y backdrop and took some photos. Most have red eye issues, unfortunately. I hate the flash on my Canon S30 digital camera. It is way too powerful, even when adjusted, and red eye mode seems to do absolutely nothing!

I took some film shots as well, but it will be a while before I get to a lab...

So I'll probably try for a reshoot this afternoon, if the little bugger will cooperate, He just nursed down to a nap. Hopefully he'll wake up in a good mood...

Here are a couple of this morning's attempts:

Sunday, December 07, 2003

Walkin' in a Winter Wonderland

Here's a shot from my front yard:

We are Lazy Slugs

We haven't left the house all weekend, and yet, the sink is full of dishes, the laundry isn't started; in short, nothing got done. We watched Pirates of the Carribean, and sat around talking and playing with the Boy.

We were just talking about Master & Commander again, and remembered this:

At some point, there were loud, very shrill whistles going on, and I turned to Kev and asked: Uh, is that a bosun's pipe, or the Boy? (Which gives you an idea of the amazing high pitch and ear-piercing quality Mikro's screeching attains...)

Kev's response: Ya know, I'm not sure...

Turns out, it was an on-screen bosun's whistle.

Ha! Kev just dragged the laundry downstairs and is throwing a load in. Then he (far more ambitious soul than I, today) is hiking to the supermarket to pick up the absolute essentials. Mikro is in the swing upstairs, soundly blissfully asleep.

I'm going to steal this rare bit of time to myself to make a cup of tea and call my girlfriends.

Saturday, December 06, 2003

Let it Snow!

Yesterday we only got a dusting, but right now there must be over a foot of the white stuff out there. Its 18F degrees, though, with single digit wind chills, so we haven't taken the Boy outside... They are calling it a blizzard.

None of the local food joints is delivering, and we are in Old Mother Hubbard territory here (were due to restock today), so we are going to have to scrape the bottom of the barrel stuff out of the fridge and cabinets and come up with a creative couple of meals here. The roads are too slippery to take a chance running out to do the grocery shopping, and besides, with the end-of-the-world-is-at-hand mentality that seems to hit here whenever there's an inch or more snow expected, I am sure the shelves are already bare...

Boyo screamed for four hours last night with really bad gas. My head is still ringing from the noise. I hate it when he's that upset and nothing I can do comforts him. It hurts to see him so unhappy. Today he's been much better so far, but he's frantically chewing his teething toys, so I expect snarkiness is in our personal forecast for the day...

We're going to just stay indoors (poor Kev has to go out periodically to shovel) and watch DVDs and do some cleaning and sorely needed baby-proofing around here. Oh, yeah, and laundry. There are ten or more loads of that just sitting here waiting for one of us to feel inspired (or desparate) enough to get started on it...

Hope everyone is safe and warm!

Friday, December 05, 2003

Snarkiness and Bright Spots

We are expecting a foot of snow later today. I wonder what Mikro will make of it?

My dad is at the doctors because of a drug interaction problem, which has me & mom scared.

Kev and I had a super snarky night last night. I did him a favor and cooked dinner and all he did was bitch. He's super pissed at the dogs, who are raiding the garbage and counter surfing and otherwise making known their displeasure at the marked decrease in attention they have received since Mikro's birth. So he takes it out on me. Factor in the additional detail that the boy never ever napped yesterday, and is now in the lovely separation anxiety phase, and I was pretty much ready to snap to begin with, without the spousal snarkiness supplement.

Not a good night in our happy home...

Today my mom and I are snarking at each other, because I feel constantly subtley criticized for my parenting choices. Especially co-sleeping and continuing to breastfeed, and not loading him up with jarred baby foods. I tend to snap back at her about other, very stupid things.

Like the Santa pictures. Neither Kev nor I are really hot to brave huge crowds to get second rate photos of a purple faced screaming baby with a pathetic looking store Santa. We were going to set up a backdrop, dress him up as an elf, or just in cute holiday attire, and take far better quality photos than what I expect from a mall Santa photo op. But we are horrid benighted parents for denying the experience to our seven month old, and denying the silly campy photos to his grandparents.

I finally relented and said I would do the Santa gig on the Wednesday mall trip with my college buddy. But then my mom tries to direct me as to what store I should got to, etc. And it just annoyed me and I snapped. I will go, scope out the mall, and pick a reasonable place, if the line doesn't go till the middle of next week. Let's just leave it at that!

She says I get nasty.

I feel guilty, because I know I get sarcastic and snippy when I feel like I am being treated like a child or an idiot (or an idiot child).

This is not the holiday spirit I was hoping for.

Of course, I can't even mention our odd and ecclectic Solstice/Christmas traditions without pissing off my thoroughly traditionalist Christian parents...

So the holidays are an exercise in eggshell walking.

But there are bright spots:

My sweet son's smile.

My upcoming Christmas shopping outing with one of my oldest dearest friends, next Wednesday (weather permitting).

The goofy antics of my two dear dogs (even if they are behaving like turds lately.)

My kitties.

A good cup of tea here and there, as the howling baby permits...


Speaking of which... He's screaming now.

He hasn't let me have ten minutes to catch up on my blogging buddies all week!

Gotta go.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Some Mikro Firsts

Last night, we actually dragged the 7 month old boy to a movie. He sat through Master and Commander and was exceptionally well behaved. I fed him solids during the previews, and he nursed once midway through the film, then fell asleep. Whew!

Today he was crawling around on the bed, and trying to climb over me, when he got a very mischevious look and bent over and blew a raspberry on my tummy!

He's been giving sloppy open mouth kisses on the cheek for a couple weeks now.

He just amazes me!

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Love Notes (Not)

Left for my dear spouse, whose stomach is ever so much stronger than mine:

kev-- big dog puked on couch & down inside it. did what i could, peed my pants gagging. am hiding out upstairs due to retching. please pull off couch cover & throw in laundry & do something to scrub stink out of mattress. she did it while i was upstairs with boy and it had hours to sink into mattress. ugh. i left 409 near couch but didn't use it. too busy getting sick.

Now if the damn dog would stop eating baby wipes and diaper contents, maybe she wouldn't be decoratng the upholstery.

Welcome home to the looney bin, honey...

Death By Uncertainty and Debt Collectors -- A Rant

It feels like I am being condemned to a slow death from anxiety and uncertainty. I am a flashy, panicky, nightmarey mess. Some of the uncertainty relates to a situation in which my husband is acting as a liaison of sorts, to try to shield me from the anxiety inherent in it.

Something was left up in the air to the degree that I was terrified that it was either forgotten, with damage inflicted by delay, or else something was up and the deal was off the rails and we just didn't know it yet.

Actually, this fits a couple of different anxiety minefields that we are tip-toeing through at the moment.

One involves the firing/hiring of a fiduciary, and the signing of a contract. There are confidentiality concerns that effectively muzzle me from talking about it here or anywhere else. And talking might help, if I could safely do it.

All I will say is, I got pissed at hubby for saying he was going to wait to deal with it (i.e., leave it hanging over my head making me dysfunctional) because he didn't want to pressure the guy he's dealing with. Uh, honey? CLUE! The minor irritation and inconvenience to a third party is nothing compared to the PTSD craziness that waiting is gonna cause me! Argh.

My husband is a terminally nice guy. He hates to inconvenience anyone. He'll screw himself over (and by extension, me) rather than cause the slightest annoyance to anyone else. Sometimes that irks me. Sometimes, when it directly relates to a PTSD triggery thing, it positively drives me crazy.

But I guess I shouldn't complain too much, because he's trying to help.

The other situation concerns my most hated category of scumbag du jour-- debt collectors.

We made a deal to settle one of my credit card debts.

I have been burned before by a collection agency that played games, so we insist that we get a settlement letter in advance of payment, stating that they are taking $XXX as full settlement of the account, and what the original card number was, and that it will be reported to the national credit bureaus.

Hubby made the deal on 11/18. We get a call a few days later that its approved and to be on the lookout for the settlement letter.

On 11/28, the day after Thanksgiving, we get an urgent message (and still no letter...) Pay now by electronic check or the deal is off. Because their secretary was sick, the letter did not go out, and 11/28 is the last date for them to get the money under the terms of the letter agreement we still have not seen.

We say, no dice without the letter.

They say, we'll email it.

We say no, on the advice of our attorney (which related to another matter entirely), email is not accepted as a business record in court, and does not adequately prove that there is a settlement agreement. They want us to take a chance that they won't decide to come after us for the remainder. Trust these bottom feeders? Not unless I was hallucinating or drunk. Sorry. No deal.

So now we hear how its gonna wind up raising the number they will require us to pay to settle, because we aren't living up to the deal.

Uh, what deal?-- there's no letter, there's no deal. The letter was a material term of the agreement. They are the ones who queered the deal.

So today, in my mail, there's a letter dated 11/18, which states payment must be received by 11/28 (4 days ago), which is postmarked 11/29. After the supposed payment deadline.

These fuckers are playing games.

They ain't gonna win...

So -- my holiday greetings to collection agencies who try to fuck with me: