Monday, August 30, 2010

More Stupid Games

Another month, another issue of Parenting, another selection of inane activities for children. This month, I wasn’t sure I’d find anything suitably ridiculous to blog about until I came across this suggestion for an activity that’s “perfect for pairs,” in the monthly “Play” column:

Bash the trash. Encourage the kids to go through the recycle bin and create ways to turn the (non-glass) items into musical instruments, castles, or doll cribs.

So many things about this give me pause. First of all, I’m a careful, protective mom myself, but there’s no way on God’s green earth to create a satisfying musical instrument out of garbage unless glass bottles are in play. With a glass bottle you can blow across the top, tap it with things, fill it with things to shake—and, yes, break it and slice a little hand open. Which brings me to point number two. Really? This activity is all this writer could come up with for a fun thing for a couple of kids to do? Digging in the trash? I don’t know about anyone else, but my own recycling bag is a sticky, disgusting mix of soggy paper, half-washed-out yogurt cups, and beery sludge. The sighting of a large silverfish in the recycling bag’s vicinity last week makes me even more appalled of the idea of anyone, let alone my baby, digging around for trash to “bash.” And finally, I consider myself a creative person—but I am at a loss as to what I might find in my recycling bag that could be turned into a castle or a doll crib. I’m drawing a blank, a complete blank, and I don’t think it’s from lack of sleep. I think this is just a really stupid idea for a “game.”

A few pages later, I found an article about how to create an enriching, preschool-like environment for your child without actually sending him or her to preschool. I don’t know whether we’ll do preschool for Lucia or not, but I certainly hope I do create enriching, interesting daily activities for her—that our day-to-day life is full of fun, creative wonders. But here are a few things I will not be doing with her, despite the fact that Parenting recommends them as ways to “create your own dynamic learning lab.” The subject headings are Parenting’s.

Ecology: Turn over a dead log to check out a hidden critter hotel; slugs, snails, millipedes, centipedes, and pill bugs—which, by the way, are crustaceans like lobsters and not insects at all—love the dark warmth of a log shelter. Observe them with a magnifying glass.

COMMENTARY: Um, no. I will not be turning over rotting logs to check out the bugs. The hideous em-dash aside about the pill bug just makes this activity all the more nightmarish. A caveat: I do not have a son. I suspect a little boy might actually enjoy this. Lucia and I, however, will steer clear.

Food Science: Learn everything about how your favorite treats get made with a behind-the-scenes tour of a food-manufacturing plant.

COMMENTARY: I was asleep before I even finished reading this sentence. And also, how many of this magazine’s readers really live near, oh, the Twinkie plant? How does this stuff get published?

Botany: Visit a public garden or a local nursery to learn about how plants grow; with permission, take a cutting to replant at home.

COMMENTARY: Visiting a garden actually does sound fun. But I just had to roll my eyes at the clearly copyeditor-added clarification “with permission.” I love the image of a wild toddler uprooting flowers right and left, screaming, “Cuttings! Cuttings! More cuttings!”

Economics: Dump out the change bowl and explain to her what each coin is called. […] Then take the booty to a coin-counting machine and exchange it for paper cash. Give your little tycoon two of the dollars you collect and head to a local dollar store. Let her pick out two things and pay for them herself (you’ll have to spot her the tax!).

COMMENTARY: This sounds suspiciously like shopping.

I need to tie this up, but first, my own contributions to the non-preschool preschool selection:

Genetics: Go to a local barber shop. With permission, root around in the recycling bin and find a sticky bottle covered in hair clippings. At home, look at the clippings under a microscope, and try to figure out whose head the hair might have come from. The man who works at the grocery store? Your neighbor? See how many hair clippings your lil’ one can stick to her hand!

Chemistry: Walk around your neighborhood on recycling day and find (plastic) bottles and cans that still have a bit of liquid in them. Have your tot pour these dregs into a Tupperware container. See how the liquid changes color each time she adds soda, beer, vodka, or coffee!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Smokin'

Tonight, Andrew, Molly (in town for a few days), Lucia, and I went to a bar in Chelsea to meet a couple of my and Andrew’s old work friends. This was my first time bringing Lucia to a bar, and she immediately got attention. Molly, Lucia, and I arrived first and were immediately accosted by an older man who offered to buy Lucia a beer. Later, when the bar got too noisy and I’d run out of things to feed Lucia, Molly took her for a stroll outside, where she was hit on by a guy who said, “I think it’s really cool you bring your baby to a bar.” They then discussed (Molly, in faux earnestness) how important it was to teach a baby how to be social in a bar. Once we were all back outside, the older man reappeared, approached us once more, and said, “That baby’s smokin’! She’s smokin’!” Granted, she looked adorable in a little plaid dress. But smokin’?

I apologize, but I have to cease writing this post. I’m so tired my eyes are spasming. Lucia woke up for the day today at 5am again, after waking up at 3am to nurse, and I need to go to bed and pray for more sleep than I got last night.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Company Manners

Last night, I couldn’t stop thinking about "The Two Carolines," so I decided to see what I could rustle up online about it. And even though I use Google every single day, I was still amazed by what I found. Within minutes, I’d not only found that it’s a story, not a book, but I also discovered the name of the story collection in which it appears, the website for the publisher of the collection and the other volumes in the series, the complete text of the story, and cover images from the series.

It turns out that “The Two Carolines” is part of a series called, somewhat creepily, Uncle Arthur’s Bedtime Stories, by Arthur Maxwell. The first stories were created by Maxwell in 1924, and he went on to write and publish forty-eight (!) volumes, ceasing to write them only when he died in 1970. Incredibly, most of the volumes seem to be easily available. You can purchase the first twenty for $748.00.

This is all interesting information. But there’s a dark side to such Googling, the danger of finding out too much, tarnishing the very thing that sparked the search in the first place. In this case, I discovered that “The Two Carolines” ends with the following: “Mother told her, too, that Jesus is the unseen guest at every meal, the silent listener to every conversation.” Perhaps it isn’t so surprising, in hindsight, to realize that this is a “Christian” children’s story, though I have no memory at all of the warning of Jesus’s being an unseen guest. Indeed, according to the Uncle Arthur’s website (there’s a website!), the stories in the Bedtime series “teach Christian values.”

Somehow, though, this doesn’t put me off. Perhaps it’s because these stories were written and published long before “Christian” became a dirty (Republican) word. There’s nothing offensively “Christian” about Caroline learning, as the story’s introduction explains, that “home and company manners should be the same,” and I suspect the other stories are the same. “Christian,” here, seems to connote morals, values, good behavior, kindness—loaded words, some of these, but innocent, too, when you remember their context. A children’s book published in 2010 that purported to teach my child “Christian values” wouldn’t find its way past my doorway (or the underside of my shoe). But one from 1940? 1950? We could all probably stand to relearn our “company manners.” We could all probably stand to incorporate the phrase “company manners” into our vocabulary. And I, for one, am on a quest to find an old used copy of the Uncle Arthur volume that contains “The Two Carolines” and add it to Lucia’s library.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Two Lucias

Yesterday, I planned to write a blog post discussing my and Andrew’s decision to search for some sort of boarding daycare for Lucia. She’s too young for sleepaway camp or boarding school, but surely there’s someplace we could simply…send her. This idea took root at approximately 5:00am Monday morning, when Lucia decided it was not only time to get up but also a perfect time for FUSSKINS (no teething required this time). It was a trying morning. Boarding daycare seemed like the thing to do.

But as the day went on, Lucia came around. She took a good morning nap; we had a playdate with a new friend, and she and the other little girl played happily for almost two hours; and she had a good afternoon nap. Because she had this nap, we were able to go out to dinner at Brooklyn Fish Camp with two friends, where Lucia, seemingly knowing that these friends are expecting, put on her “perfect baby” act—the one that gives as-yet-childless people the idea that having a baby is easy. She sat in a high chair and ate sweet potatoes, mangos, cantaloupe, and puffs without a peep, giving everyone lots of dimpled, toothy smiles. By the end of the day we’d decided we’ll keep her around after all.

It was such a 180 from the Lucia of the morning that I was reminded of a children’s book called The Two Carolyns. We never owned this book, but I remember reading it many times in the waiting room of either the dentist or the orthodontist—some tooth-related place. The premise is that Carolyn, an elementary-school-aged child, is an absolute terror at home. I don’t remember what she does, but she’s surly and unpleasant, a more grown-up, speaking version of FUSSKINS. At school, however, Carolyn is a charming, model student. One day, her beloved teacher shows up at her house unannounced and, I believe, witnesses the “other” Carolyn, shaming Carolyn into good behavior foreverafter.

This morning, Lucia woke up at the much more decent hour of 6:30 and was pleasant from the moment she opened her eyes. But in the future, when I hear her little cry at 5am…I’m going to know that a day of two Lucias just might be in the cards.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Cooler

Moving from a big house to a smallish apartment has been a challenge, but we did pretty well in selling most of our big unnecessary stuff—refrigerator, enormous dining room table, etc.—before leaving California. Nevertheless, a lot of small things managed to get packed and moved, and we keep stumbling upon them as we complete our unpacking and organizing. A few nights ago, we opened our big Igloo cooler (yes, this made the move) and found the following assortment of items, which had both of us laughing out loud:

a bag of 100 Ikea tealights
wire clippers (they look like giant scissors)
an Energy Smart 60W lightbulb
bottle of Turtle Wax
bottle of wood glue
can of WD-40
swimming goggles
a small battery-operated fan that also mists water
window-screen cutters, for making your own window screens
air-mattress inflater
bottle of fabric glue
an iron

We hurriedly put everything (except the iron) right back into the cooler. Seems as good a place for such things as any.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Friday Bits

Lucia has started crawling on her hands and knees, finally. She’ll go five or six paces before plopping down and resuming her Army grunt crawl, but she does it. She does it particularly when she’s not paying too much attention to what she’s doing, like when she’s trying to reach a particular toy. It’s very cute.

She is also pulling herself up on things. She can actually get to standing when she pulls herself up on our ottoman from Marrakech. On higher things, like the coffee table, she just kind of hangs there, with only her eyes and nose visible to anyone looking on from the other side. She also now enjoys reaching her arms up—the signal for me to take her little hands and help her into a stand. We do this many, many times a day. Sometimes we take a few steps together, but it’s really more me lifting each side of her body than her actually walking. Nonetheless, it seems to please her.

God help us, I think there’s another tooth coming in. There’s no visual evidence yet; but she was FUSSkins (only half capitalized) this morning and is chewing up our entire house, so I have my suspicions.

We got a garbage can today. Andrew ordered it from Amazon and it finally arrived. This is huge. Having to throw trash into a garbage bag crumpled on the floor is a pain in general—but it because horrendous when you don’t have a garbage disposal and must throw away food scraps without getting them all over the floor. I’ll note that I have never, in any of the four apartments I’ve lived in here in NYC, had a garbage disposal. On some days, such as when smashed banana and cold bits of penne pasta are mixed with a slimy half-chewed teething biscuit and everything is coated in spit-out cereal, the prospect of a garbage disposal seems reason enough to move back to California.

I’m becoming a crazy-fast editor. With only two hours a day to work, I’m still somehow managing to finish projects. This is not easy, or perhaps wise for my sanity, but for now it’s where I am. When I put Lucia down for a nap I literally close the door and beeline for my desk, saving less urgent matters, like, oh, getting a drink of water or going to the bathroom, for when she’s awake. I understand this is not sustainable. But the ideal solution has not yet presented itself. If it doesn’t I may have to fashion some sort of less-ideal solution so I can have a bit of life—an hour! two! I don’t ask for much!—that does not involve changes of the diaper or Microsoft Track variety.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Taking the Waters

Perhaps going to Connellsville is the baby equivalent of heading to Swizerland to take the waters or retreating to a week of pampering at the Golden Door. We’ve returned from our five-day trip refreshed and, more importantly, non-teething—for now, at least—and it’s such a relief to once again see Lucia’s happy, dimpled smile and hear her pleasant babbling. Lucia spent the week surrounded by adoring family members wishing to do little but play with her, feed her, sing to her, and hold her, so it’s no wonder she’s a happy baby. We saw even more people at the Orlando family picnic on Sunday—it was a whirlwind trip of showing off the baby.

The flight home was tough—we were forty-five minutes late, and those forty-five extra minutes were spent on the plane, either sitting on the runway in Pittsburgh or circling around JFK. It was quite torturous with a wound-up baby who was increasingly difficult to entertain, and we left the plane a bit battle-weary (and covered in teething biscuit slime). But Andrew was there to meet us, and we returned home to an immaculate apartment; Andrew spent his baby- and wife-less days hanging pictures, hanging blinds, and getting things into shape. The apartment really feels like home now.

And so our Brooklyn life resumes.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Letter to Lucia: 10 Months

Little Lucia,

You’re ten months old today—and you’re on the move. Though you haven’t (yet) transitioned from your inchworm-style crawl into a more traditional hands-and-knees crawl, this doesn’t slow you down, and you have explored every corner of your new Brooklyn home. You are an expert now at going from a crawl to sitting and back again, and you have such an ingenious, and amazing, way of doing it: you stretch your legs out on either side of your body, forming a straight line of leg from toe to toe, and simply work your way upward or downward, depending on how you want to move. When your legs are stretched out that way, you look like one of those gift-store sandbaggy items meant to stop drafts from coming from the bottoms of doors. If we sat you there, you’d be quite effective at it. I’m still amazed that you taught yourself how to go from lying down to sitting—you just did it one day, with no prompting or coaching or practicing. You wanted to do it, and you did.

You are now waving hello and bye-bye on command—but sometimes you wait to wave bye-bye until the person is out of sight. You can point to the ceiling fan at Grandma and Grandpa’s house on command. You clap when we say “Yay!” even if you’re in the middle of doing other things. And your ma-ma’s and da-da’s often seem to be directed right at the appropriate party—especially when you’re upset and you want no one else but Mama to hold you.

You are still a sunny, smiley, good-natured baby, but we’ve had a few difficult days this month thanks to your three new teeth. Tooth #1 came through with barely a fuss. Tooth #2 was the worst, and it almost did both of us in; I’ve never seen you so distressed, for so long. Tooth #3, which followed close on the heels of tooth #2, made you fussy for a few hours, but then you were fine. I can’t imagine how much it must hurt for these bony protrusions to break through your tender gums. And I can’t imagine going through this over and over again for the next year or so. Funny how no one told me while I was pregnant with you how much of a struggle teething would be—it’s just one of those things that came out of nowhere. BAM! another parenting stage.

You are a baby who loves her toys and books, and, when you’re not teething, you’ll often just sit on the floor playing happily, completely self-sufficient. Your favorite toys are your Plan Toys blocks (some rattle or jingle, which you love—you hold one in each hand and bang them together), your stacking plastic rings, your stacking cups (you got a set from Grandma Marge and from Aunt Moils), a small counting book published by DK, Pat the Bunny, and Moo Baa La La La by Sandra Boynton.

You are eating lots of new things; yesterday you ate an entire (small) bowl of Grandma’s escarole soup, with greens, carrots, and pasta—little spoonfuls of it, along with some bread. So cute. Your favorite finger food is bananas. You continue to detest peaches.

You’re a Brooklyn baby now, seemingly at home among all the many, many other Brooklyn babies, and you and I have set out to make some friends. You are fascinated by other children, if a bit shy; you’re content to sit by Mama and just watch everything, only venturing into the mix after a long period of observation. You are much smaller than other babies, which may play a role in your hesitation, or you may be, as I’ve said before, more like me than your daddy. But I think you’ll have fun doing music or swimming or whatever we decide to participate in this fall.

We’re in Connellsville for your ten-month birthday, ready to go to the Orlando family reunion. You have a bit of stranger anxiety these days, not readily going to other people like you used to—but you took to Aunt Moils immediately, even though you hadn’t seen her since you were ten weeks old. With others, though, an attempt at holding often results in a crumpled face, fat tears, and prolonged, shuddering crying. But it’s quite cute when you bury your head in my neck and hold onto me with your little koala arms.

Every day is an adventure, little one, from 6:30am (if we’re lucky) until you close your eyes at night. Happy ten-month birthday, my sweetie!

There's Nothing I Hate Worse

Scene: Greensburg Gabe’s.

There was a young girl working the fitting room, obviously a bit out to lunch. Every time I came out to retrieve more clothes, she had a comment or question. “Is it s’posed to rain tomorrow? Cuz it’s my day off.” “D’ya like this shirt? Cuz I’m goin’ to m’ boyfriend’s tomorrow and it’s s’posed to rain.”

Once when I came out, she was holding her head in her hands.

“Aargh,” she moaned. “Aargh.” I approached her to let her count my items, and she looked at me seriously, a bit close to my face. “I hit my head last night,” she confided. “I fell.” She thought for a moment. “I can’t believe I didn’t split m’ head open.” Looking at me intently. “Seriously, I can’t believe I didn’t split m’ head open. There’s nothing’ I hate worse than gettin’ m' head split open.”

A laugh rose up in me so quickly I almost didn’t catch it in time. Discombobulated, I tried to hand her back my number tag, confusing her; she handed it back, and I headed to the fitting room. “My head’s not split open and I still can’t think straight!” I said over my shoulder. As soon as I was in the fitting room I began laughing so hysterically that I began crying.

Really, there’s nothing I would hate worse, either, than “getting my head split open.” A bit of Gabe’s wisdom on a Saturday afternoon.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Losing It

Losing it. I’m seriously losing it. Lucia has stripped my synapses of all remaining connective tissue. I’m lucky I can remember where she is—but anything else? Forget it. A couple of mornings ago, I threw a little fit because I could not find two skirts and a shirt that I knew for a fact I’d put in the laundry. But there were no skirts or shirt in the laundry basket I’d just retrieved from the basement. Eventually, I remembered washing those items at Trump Place, not here, and became convinced Andrew had left them in the Trump Place basement. Conveniently, after half an hour of my manic searching and ranting, Andrew had to leave for work. Sure! Work! Just go ahead and leave!

Then, that night, searching once again, I found the shirt right there in my shirt drawer, and the skirts on a hanger in the closet. I hadn’t remembered hanging them.

Seriously. Losing. It.

What I myself didn’t lose are my kitchen implements. All our spatulas, serving spoons, lemon juicers, vegetable peelers, meat thermometers, and other kitchen miscellany are, I fear, casualties of the move. Where, oh were, is our box of kitchen items?

And when, oh when, will non-chaotic life resume?

Fortunately, I'm getting a little break. I flew to Connellsville last night (a pre-planned trip, not one planned out of desperation from teething), and I'll be here through Monday. It's sad not to be with Andrew...but it sure is fantastic to have someone else around to hold the baby. I actually started a new book! I painted my nails! I got some editing done! My life has returned!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Characters

One of the fun things about moving to a new New York apartment is getting to know the neighborhood characters. We had no “characters” per se in Roseville—just very nice neighbors who brought us tomatoes from their gardens and a kind, wonderful landlord and landlady who actually surprised us by returning a portion of our June rent since we left mid-month. But here—there are characters to spare. Could it be any other way in Brooklyn? Park Slope has more than its fair share of stylish moms pushing thousand-dollar strollers and shops selling $80-a-pound charcuterie, but the pre-gentrified neighborhood still exists thanks to the many residents who have lived here far longer than the young-family newcomers.

Among the characters we’ve met so far is a woman I’ll call Nellie, who’s lived on the block for fifty years. She’s clearly the queen of the block, knows everyone, everyone knows her. She doesn’t so much talk as yell—though the volume, one senses, is simply part of her natural voice. Now that she’s met me and Lucia, she’s always ready to offer parenting tips. Last week, when I told her Lucia is teething, she said, “You give that baby a chicken bone. You gotta go old school.” When she said this, she was wearing nothing but a bright yellow bath towel. It was the middle of the afternoon, and I met her on the sidewalk, her wet hair up in a clip and a bath towel wrapped around her. It seems someone had interrupted her mid-shower; but she seemed in no hurry to return to it.

And this weekend, as Andrew attempted to clean the absolutely blackened window in the baby’s room—standing outside on the fire escape—Nellie, looking over at him from her back yard, screamed out, “God bless you! Those windows haven’t been cleaned in thirty years!” Indeed, Andrew was scraping great swaths of grime from the window. Ah, city living.

And then there’s the guy who marches back and forth in front of our building, screaming violently into a cell phone. He’s less interesting than somewhat alarming, though also seemingly harmless—he seems to be involved in helping another man, the block’s super, deal with the neighborhood’s trash on trash day. Andrew and I aren’t sure what to make of him, but he seems to be a fixture on the street, and no one but us seems to be batting an eye—I suspect we, too, will soon tune him out. Ah, yes, city life.

I heard him shouting again a few days ago, and when I looked out the window, I saw him marching threateningly behind a restaurant-menu person who was attempting to slip menus into the gates at the bottom of brownstone stairs. As I watched, the guy ripped the menus out of the gates as soon as the menu guy had put them in, throwing them to the curb and screaming, “Not on my block! I’m responsible for these houses! I clean these! No! (toss menu) No! (toss menu) No! (toss menu) No! (toss menu) No! (toss menu)” The menu guy seemed unfazed; perhaps this was a regular occurrence.

Lucia, perhaps, will become a character in her own right. We ate with Andrew’s mom at Brooklyn Fish Camp last week, and Lucia made the waitresses laugh by making, in their words, an “evil elf face” at them as Andrew and I obliviously enjoyed our shrimp.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Whence Sweet Lucia?

A baby! A baby! I’m selling a baby! First come, first served. Must be willing to sing infinite rounds of “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” and have ears that can withstand high-pitched shrieking.

Kidding. Sort of. I’m not selling Lucia, but I might be forced to give her up when I’m carried off in a straitjacket thanks to a teething-baby-based crack-up. I’m serious when I say I’m about two steps shy of that. Where, where, is my sweet little one, with her constant dimpled smile, her playfulness, her reliable eating and napping? I think it was just earlier this week or last week when I actually told someone that I couldn’t remember the last time she’d had an all-out sobbing fit—that’s how rare it was for her to cry. But now? But now. Oh, but now. She does nothing but cry. She cries when she tries to nap. She cries when she doesn’t nap. She cries when she wants to eat, and she cries when I try to feed her. She cries when she tries to play. She cries when I hold her, and when I put her down. And the most shocking—she cries in the tub. Bathtime was always her absolute favorite part of the day—our little fish—and now, when we sit her in the water, she looks up, her face crumples, and she begins screaming inconsolably, tears mixing with the bathwater on her red, raging face.

Where is my sweet baby? And, more pertinent to my sanity, where is her ability to go down for a nap without an hour of hysteria and her willingness to eat without batting food out of my hand or swiping it off her tray, dramatically rejecting everything but bananas, diced cooked sweet potatoes, and puffs? For the past two days, despite being exhausted, she has refused her afternoon nap—refused as in both squealing and playing in her crib to prove how awake she is as well as screaming her tiny head off to show how mad she is at the entire idea of lying down. Oh—and lying down—that seems to be a thing of the past. She can now pull herself up to her knees in her crib, and she’s adept at quickly getting into a sitting position. Why nap when there are so many other fun things to do?

This isn’t the first time having a baby has brought me low, down for the count, but I’d been justifiably smug for so long—what a good napper! a good eater! so constantly happy! we can bring her anywhere!—that it hurts, really hurts, to be in this awful new stage.

Tooth #2 has broken through, so let’s hope this all ceases soon. But I really fear we’ve just entered, via teething, a new nearly-ten-month-old stage that’s a mixture of defiance, curiosity, separation anxiety, developmental craziness, and attempted independence that is going to test the will of this mama for some time to come.

Readers…Any other teething stories, tips, etc. welcome in comments or email…I’ve been doing Motrin and Tylenol (switching off in three-to-four-hour intervals when necessary), Hyland’s teething tablets, and teething biscuits (she likes these, though I don’t know how good they are for her; but she only actually eats a little bit of them). I also have a mesh-bag pacifier thing that I put frozen plum pieces into; she’s only marginally interested, and usually only after the plums have thawed. She has no interest in cool or room temperature teething rings, frozen cloths, etc. She will only eat from a spoon on rare, tricked occasions. She is nursing moderately well, but certainly not more than usual, which I’ve read teething babies sometimes want to do. Thankfully she is falling asleep at night and sleeping fine through the night (waking up once to nurse, but that’s our routine). She doesn't have a fever, and I don't think she has an ear infection, but I'm going to make an appointment just to be sure...

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Teething

We’re in it. One bottom-center tooth has appeared, with a second not far behind—one the size of a small grain of arborio rice placed lengthwise against her gum, the other not more than a sharp speck. And Lucia is miserable. Though the first tooth came in with a minimum of fuss, this second one seems to be doing her in, and for the past two days she has been FUSSKINS—all caps. FUSSKINS refuses to nap, and refuses to nurse, and cries when I try to make her eat. Yesterday—armed with baby Motrin instead of the useless Tylenol—she was been slightly better. She refused her morning nap, but nursed well before it, but then refused her lunch, wanting nothing but a teething biscuit. Granted, I was trying to feed her tofu mashed up in yogurt, but still. She didn’t even want sweet, quartered blueberries or her beloved puffs.

She has no interest in teething rings or frozen washcloths. Yesterday all she wanted was bananas. And now we are out of bananas. And when I went to the grocery store this morning specifically to buy bananas they had only green bananas. It is this kind of can’t-get-ahead-to-save-my-life that has plagued me this entire week.

Thank the Good Lord she’s napping now, because I am exhausted, physically and emotionally. I feel awful because she’s in pain, and then guilty because I get impatient when I should be able to endure the cries and writhing of FUSSKINS with grace and calm. Poor sweetie. She really is a mess.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Moving In

Will there ever be a move in which we don’t have to buy out Ikea’s shelving department? Will there ever be a move in which we don’t have to sell things in a last-minute fire sale? Will there ever be a move that does not involve purchasing a great quantity of window coverings? Will there ever—

Oh, hello. You seem to have caught me with my move-in brain in hypermode. Really, I am absolutely astounded that a move in which we had to do next to nothing—not pack, not haul, not store—can still be so exhausting. Yes, we moved cross-country, but I somehow thought that being moved would make it all so much easier. It did, in many ways, but the unpacking was still left to us, and it’s a doozy.

Moving day was Saturday. Thank goodness Andrew’s mom came up for a few days to help—she was able to stay with Lucia at Trump Place while Andrew and I drove down to Park Slope to meet the movers and orchestrate the move-in. It took five hours for three burly Ace Moving men to unpack the truck and then reassemble all the furniture that had been unassembled to save space during the cross-country journey. Our bedroom bench nearly did the burliest man in. “Sorry about the bench,” I said when he left. “At least I’ll know what to do next time I see one,” he said. “Run.” The men left. And then the unpacking began.

And the unpacking, nearly a week later, continues. Our new apartment has ample storage, but it is still—always—a challenge to find a home for everything. We made trips to Ikea and Target for some shelving, and another moving company returned on Wednesday to pick up all our empty boxes and packing materials, so things are looking less chaotic now and more just messy. But what a mess! What an absolute mess. To me, one of the key indicators of the level of mess we have—and my desperation to just get everything out of boxes—is that our books are not alphabetized. Our books are on shelves in random order. I’m trying not to let this drive me crazy, and so far I’ve had other things to think about, but it’s tempting to open a wager to see how long I’m able to let this random arrangement last.

But underneath the mess, the piles of towels with no home, the nest of printer cords and alarming unpacked bags of food items—underneath it all is a lovely apartment, our new home, with high ceilings and loads of charm and an atmosphere of rest and happiness. Soon I hope we’ll actually be able to see it.