Sunday, June 29, 2008

Unending days

This weekend was one of those so crammed with activity that at times, I had to do those deep belly breaths to keep it together, like this afternoon, driving back from a friend's house where I was rescuing some carpet from a trip to the dump and Thea was hollering her head off and Liam was reciting some crash-boom-bam story at top volume despite my pleas for silence....serenity now!!

Yesterday, the new stove arrived. Black, shiny and beautiful, promises of no shower of sparks, and with an instruction booklet about the size of an encyclopedia. For those who have natural gas hooked to their home, that instruction booklet could be tossed pretty much aside, but not us. We've got propane, so we had to convert it.

Knowing that many brains are better than few, I invited some friends over to help move the stove in and offer moral support on the conversion front. So I made kabobs and my friend Emilie cooked them on my defunct grill with one setting - scorch. And we even managed the vegetarian component easily, and the kid component. And the stove made it inside - but we needed another piece, of course. That would have to wait.

Today, when Thea went down for her morning nap, Liam and I headed down to the rental cabin to attack removing the carpet, which is beyond toast. The place was in need of some tlc all over, but I can only do it in little pieces, so I opted to take out the carpet in the entry way of the room. Liam happily hammered things while I tugged, pulled, removed, and cleaned. I washed the whole area down with bleach water and pondered what to do with it all.

Liam had one freak-out moment this morning, however, when I said "I'm going out and you can follow me after." He came outside all teary eyed - apparently he thought I meant I was going into town. Where does he come up with this stuff? Nevertheless, he does miss his dad and my frantic pace is obviously wearing him out, too.

Thea woke up and we went into town for the parts we needed to finish the stove. Going to the hardware store with two kids typically results in one of two things: Either you get someone helping you who is awash in respect or you get the guy I got today - totally condescending and ultimately wrong in what he sold me because he didn't stop long enough to listen to what I was saying.

So we got some stuff, came home, found out we needed more stuff, went back, got more stuff, came back, put it all together, put soapy water on it, turned it on and watched it bubble. BUBBLES BAAADDDD.

So, I tried another combination of fittings and stuff. More bubbles. So I called a friend, who happened to be on the fire truck today, and they came up and very efficiently put the fittings together. I think the only difference was they used some goop that sealed it all up, but whatever. No bubbles.

Then, we turned it on and found out the oven setting hadn't been adjusted, resulting in two-foot flames coming up from below. BAAAD. So they fixed that, too, which resulted in much climbing on the floor, etc.

I figure I have about eight batches of cookies to make tomorrow in my new oven as a thank-you for their help.

As they were leaving, I asked them where they would go to find cheap carpet. Oh, one of the guys said, I have a big piece in the back of my truck right now, but I'm going to the dump soon. I'll go get it right now, I said, so off my now totally wiped out kids and I went to get carpet. We find his house, and actually have to extract the carpet out from under a few cans, etc, in the back of his truck, but voila, carpet.
Then it was leftovers, berry goo all over the place for Thea, Liam actually eating dinner (once a week, tops), bath for Liam, got him to let me use the shower head to wash his hair, Liam out of tub, on the couch with previously-promised popcorn and Wiggles movie, Mom and Thea in the tub for bath, Thea in jammies despite hollering and kicking, Thea upstairs, nurse, bed, back down to Liam, set him up on a chair and give him a waaay overdue haircut, pjs, book, teeth brushed, into bed, water, back into bed, down to close up the rental for the night, threats to Liam about toy removal if he doesn't go to sleep NOW, collapse on couch with beer and mint cookies (not really a good combo, but who cares.)

So it was a very productive day. But. Holy. Smokes. I. Am. Tired. And not just me.
It is now very quiet in this house.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Above is Thea's first passport photo, one she will have until she is the ripe old age of 5. Funny, eh?

Thea has been teacher herself mobility with the determination of a pitbull. In the past 48 hours, she has gone from an impressive push-up to pulling her legs up under her and rocking back and forth. At this rate, it's a matter of days, not weeks. Let's hope she gets distracted.

This rapid move toward moving is all the more sad because of the fact that Matt left today for California taking a crew to the fires burning all over the state. I'm not sure where he's going yet, but it's going to be in Northern California. We had about 12 hours to prepare for this exodus, so it was a bit of a shock. I'm pretty sure by the time he gets back, she'll be moving independently one way or another.

The timing isn't great, either, not that it ever is. Over the next two weeks, I have to replace the carpet and clean up the rental cabin on our property and get it ready for re-rental. I also have to install a new kitchen stove. Ours has been broken for several weeks, and the new one arrives on Friday.

I'm up for lots of things, but I know I can't move a stove by myself, so I'm doing the only thing I can do ... I'm throwing a stove-moving party. It's actually a great excuse to have people over without doing a lot of cooking. I'll have to get really creative!

Liam is having a hard time with Matt's leaving this time. He's been thrashy and crashy all day, but a few extra stories and a nice bath and he settled down into his normal self this evening. But it is tough to talk to him about this stuff because he's so young, he hardly knows what it is that is bothering him.

The other thing I have to do while Matt is gone is try to get Thea sleeping through the night. It is just a whole lot easier when he is gone to deal with her crying for long periods. But to do it, I've got to train myself to go to bed earlier - which means I have to publish this post and get going.

It's funny how the hardest of challenges brings out my most efficient self. We'll see how long I can keep it up.

Monday, June 23, 2008

time warp

It has taken me 10 minutes to log into this blog. I thought I knew the password, but then it didn't work, and when I tried to go back, it told me my username didn't exist.
After some dawdling in existential crisis, I confirmed that I did in fact exist, and did also know the password, and here we are.

But everything seems to be taking longer these days. Except Thea.

Thea has catapulted herself into the world in an amazing way. Every time we go to the grocery store, we are stopped at every corner with adoring fans smiling at her. She smiles her full-body smile right back, and makes their day. We, her servants, answer the questions about how old she is, and yes, that is a natural Mohawk she has (is that a pc term anymore??) While this dance repeats itself all over town, it is a bit taxing for the eldest child of the family. He stares at his feet - shuffles a bit, and starts the "Hey, Mom, let's gooooo" routine well before Thea is done delighting the crowds. A few casual comments are thrown his way. "So, how do you like being a big brother?" But it is not nearly enough to make up for the inequity.

I think if Liam could answer honestly, instead of trying to tell people what he thinks they want to hear, he would say that as much as possible, he tries to ignore that he is a big brother. He doesn't actively work against it, mind you. He just omits it from his life as much as he can.

That is starting slowly to change. Tonight at dinner, when Thea rubbed mashed goo in her hair in such a way that it gave her two spikey horns, Liam and Matt laughed for several minutes straight. Thea joined in at first, then eyed these boys quizzically as if to say, "You're laughing at me, not with me, aren't you?" But then, she was overpowered by her driving force, her complete adoration for everything that is Liam. So she squealed and laughed along with them.


In addition to working on her PR angle, Thea has been moving rapidly toward improving her mobility. She has pretty much mastered the art of the independent sitting phase and now is moving on. She hates push-ups, but has been struggling through them with vigor, and even gets those little legs up under her from time to time, poised to do the inevitable launch forward - face first into whatever toy lies in her path.

While all children are frustrated by this, Thea is particularly expressive about the inequity into which she was born. Given her druthers, she would already be sauntering about, picking up toys, chasing cats, eating everything in sight. Soon enough, I tell her, but that's like telling a teenager that their driver's license is nothing to get too worked up about.

So, she howls, rocks, growls and gurgles her way through the strength training needed to move on to the next phase -- crawling. And for now, she remains in that angelic calm-before-storm phase where when you put her down somewhere, she pretty much stays there. And while Liam may think he has it rough now, he has no idea how few days are left before Thea can follow him virtually everywhere he goes, get into his stuff, and generally reign terror down on his perfectly ordered world.

I should probably read a thing or two about it all before that happens, eh?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Ultimate indignity

Today, Thea suffered the ultimate indignity - she was peed on by a cat.
As I put her down on her changing pad, I thought - wow, gotta change that diaper garbage - it really stinks. But as I picked sweet Thea up, it wasn't the garbage, but my dear's head that smelled bad. The cat had peed on her changing pad.
The story with our cat, Tasha, is a long one, which I won't go into here. The cliff notes version is that she was my sister's cat, only she kept bopping my sister's youngest kid, so off she went to our house. When Liam was born, she bopped him once, and we tried to find another home for her, but no luck. She's a pain, but she's our pain - at least that's been my stance (not Matt's - he'd like to see her used for fish bait, a direct quote.)
Soooo, on Tuesday, I reached over to pet her and realized she was literally just bones. Nothing there. Wasting away. And I hadn't even noticed. She's a long-haired cat and she keeps to herself most of the time for self preservation's sake. And I've been so busy... guilt, guilt, guilt.
So I bundle up said pile of skin and bones and go to the vet, where they took some blood and couldn't find anything wrong, other than the fact that she weighed all of 4.5 pounds. Back at home, Tasha enjoyed the special treatment and the special food even more. But somewhere between yesterday and today, she decided to express herself on Thea's changing pad.
Wait - it gets worse.
So I lean down to pull out the garbage bag and a waft of stench comes from down there, too. I find a fresh cat turd behind the can. So I clean it all up, muttering, then clean up my kid so she no longer smells like cat pee, and walk outside with the garbage bag, where I run into Hannah the yellow lab.
Hannah has found something really stinky somewhere in her wanders and rolled in it. I'm not talking a little around the neck - I'm talking full-body roll. From head to toe- brown goo.
It was at this point that I think I may have hollered something, because a wide-eyed Liam popped his head out the door to find out what was going on.
But, for all the fuss, Thea fared well through the whole thing and is working on one of her sleepiest days in recent memory. May it continue and continue and continue.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Saturday, June 7, 2008

how does your garden grow

It seems I have used this blog more often than not to tell the worst of the worst - a sort of blooper list of life with kids. So, despite the fact that Thea is still trying to put herself to sleep as I type (read: screaming her beautiful little head off), I contest that today was an all-around good day.
It didn't start that way, mind you. Thea's been having a very bad sleep record lately - 3 or 4 wakes a night. I also have a cold - the kind that is worst at night. So this morning, I was in a foul mood, contemplating what it would take to just stay in bed all day, despite the pervasive sunshine shining through the window.
But up I got as Thea's grumbles escalated from downstairs. I sat in the living room scowling at the day for a while, but after Matt left and Thea went back to sleep for the morning, something catapulted me out the door. Perhaps it was the sunlight after a week of rain and dark, or maybe it was that Liam was launching into another morning sitting on the floor with his favorite Beverly Cleary CD.
Anyway, once outside, I set to working on the greenhouse, which got truly thwacked this winter. Several of the roof panels were off and I thought one was actually missing, but it turned out it was there. The whole greenhouse had listed as well so it looked as though it might topple any time. I wasn't sure I was even going to do any gardening this year, and could hardly imagine I could fix everything up while juggling everything else. But something came over me, and I dove in.
Liam found a hammer and after I explained the difference between a nail and a screw, set about happily nailing into everything in sight - wood, the ground, whatever. I found the screw gun, got the panels on the roof, and attached them in a somewhat straight manner. I got them up only just when the screw gun's battery died, of course, and then Thea woke, but I was not dissuaded. I brought her and a blanket out and set them both in the sunny garden.
Thea has started sitting up fairly well this week, and so she sat, pulling up handfuls of dead grass and drooling on a fresh stick of rhubarb, while I wrestled with the roll of plastic that makes up the walls of my greenhouse. I actually find both the stapler and staples that fit it (extraordinary) and up goes the plastic. By the time that's almost done, Thea is wilting, so I put her in the backpack for a while and try to right the list a bit with cross braces. The off she goes to her swing chair, and I get both hands to work.
Liam has moved on to the hose, his favorite fire fighting fantasy, and a granola bar. I get the rest of the plastic up just as I run out of staples. Then we move inside, and I turn over the soil in the beds. It feels marvelous to work the soil with my hands. So funny that all these years later I am still so connected to the earth.
Thea slept for three hours, long enough to get the greenhouse ready, eat a pb&j with Liam in the sun, and catch a cat nap on the couch. More valuable than gold.
Then the three of us went to the local garden stores and bought some flowers and veggies.
Matt called to say he was on a fire and wouldn't be home until late, so I made pasta and sausage (my favorite - not one of his) and garlic bread and Liam actually cleared his plate. Thea drank water from a bottle for the first time, and I even got both kids in the tub before the night ended. Only upset of the day was when I insisted on using the shower head on Liam's hair ("It feels weird and scary, mom.")
But it was forgotten by bedtime, and after a couple of stories, all was mended.
So today was a good, good day.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Camping chaos

Sooo, I know this blog isn't supposed to be about me - it is supposed to be about Thea, who is amazing, and deserving of much verbage. But, since most of this has already turned into my private pity party, I might as well go for it, right?

This week is kicking my butt and it's only Tuesday. Today, I felt like a pingpong ball zipping between one task and another and doing none of them well. This business of working from home while watching an infant is not for the weak of heart. And now that it's "summer" and Liam doesn't have Raspberry Lane, it is just a little bit harder.
I'm not sure what happened between last month, when I made list after list and managed somehow to perform all the tasks at hand, and this month, when the dust bunnies are collecting and conspiring to revolt from their crannies and take over the world. I think I am running out of steam.

And it is only June.

Last weekend, Matt ran into his 21-day line and had to take a day off, so he took two and a half and the family went camping. It was good fun - we went to the Anchor River and the first night, took over the campground. There were no less than 20 people there the first night - split between adults and kids - oodles of food, and sunshine. It was so fabulous. We sat around the campfire drinking cheap Canadian beer (is there any other kind) and eating smores and enjoying being outside.

This was car camping at its finest - one couple brought a kids play slide and a barbeque, another brought a propane grill. We brought our canopy tent from the farmer's market booth as well as a fold-up table to enhance the kitchen area. One guy who works in construction brought siding scraps for kindling and a power saw to cut wood up with. It was comical for someone who camped for so many years with the less-is-more principles.

I tossed in the towel around midnight and carried Liam, who was sure he was going to sleep on his own in his own little tent all night, to our tent so we wouldn't have to get up in the night when he realized that he was, in fact, all alone. Thea slept very well that night, curled in my down sleeping bag the way babies are not supposed to be curled. I didn't. Between trying to make sure she wasn't over-curled and the fact that she had most of the sleeping bag, I might have gotten five cold hours. I was almost the first one up - one friend who had too much to drink the night before was up a few minutes earlier, muttering about a crow that had serenaded us rather loudly minutes before.

The second day was a little cooler, sprinkling, and people crawled out of their tents slowly. We ate oodles of pancakes and bacon and by noon, were one of two families left staying the second night.

But still, it was delightful to be away from everything - from computers, phones, and the neverending list of things I need to do. I slept better the second night, and we didn't make it home until 5 the next day. It was funny - I was thinking how much I would look forward to a hot shower and being at home, but once we got there, it felt weird - almost unnatural - like I didn't belong inside.

And then Monday started, with Thea pulling an all-night cry-fest, perhaps wishing she had that sleeping bag back, with a big pile of smoky laundry added to it, and a fridge full of nothing, and bills to pay, and Liam starting a new preschool for the summer without his favorite coat (Mom, I look stupid) and his favorite pirate hat (Now I look even more stupid) and Matt unable to find a hairbrush at 7 a.m.

And now, it is Tuesday, and things are not improving, though I am typing all this whining on an awesome new computer, which I finally have all set up and wow, does it zip.

It all seems like a mountain of stuff, this life, and right now I've got to stop myself from thinking about anything other than tonight - maybe tomorrow - because if I do I'll freak out. Seriously.