Monday, April 28, 2014

Babyhood Revisited

I wrote this about 4 weeks ago. Retropublishing. (Is that a word? Can we make it one? I have no idea how this will work in readers. Let's find out...) – AW 5/23/14


When Mattias was about 20, 22 months old, I entered a state of euphoria at the prospect of being done with babyhoods. The good feelings went on for several months - until I realized I was pregnant with Trixie. Somedays, I feel like I'm still mourning the loss of having no babies. I KNOW. Ridiculous, because Trixie is almost a year old. But, you know, having a baby (less than 2 years old, by my definition) in the house can be traumatic.

I used the word traumatic once before on this blog, in relation to Mattias and Noah, when Mattias was less than 2. And I felt bad using it. This time, I won't be apologizing, because NOT talking about of how intense it is to care all the time for a baby is problematic. If somebody claims taking care of a baby between the ages of 0 and 2 years is easy, or not-so-hard, I immediately dismiss him or her as: 1) out of touch, 2) not doing much of the caregiving, 3) vastly inexperienced.

This past weekend was rough. We had to keep up with a schedule much more suited to the 4+ crowd. Naps are these wonderful, magical things when you have just one child. They're a little inconvenient when you have an older child. They're a royal pain in the butt when you've got three kids. Trixie is taking two naps a day. She isn't going to sleep well in her car seat or the stroller anymore; it seems we just need to STAY HOME if we are going to maintain sanity. So there we have the solution: no socializing, no errands, no nothing but: sanity. Ha! That's not going to happen. And honestly, even if we could stay home all the time, then the repetition of life with a baby wears me down: the whining, or picking up toys again, or sweeping the floor under the highchair again, or trying to solve the problem that caused the whining again, or doing everything one-handed, or doing laundry and dishes and diaper changes again, or moving somebaby away from whatever dangerous/messy/precarious situation he or she has managed to get into.

Her cast, which isn't slowing Trixie down, is becoming its own liability. I don't know how many times she fell down this weekend because she just wants to walk. She balances precariously on the tiny tip of her toes, which peek out the end of the cast. The resin is rubbing off her toe skin, and still, still, she attempts to walk. Every few hours I glom a new layer of adhesive-backed felt over the resin edge trying to keep it from rubbing off more skin. I – I – don't even know what to say – I mean, do I call the doctor and ask if we can take the cast off? Are we trading "a fix" for a new injury? Seems like a possibility. At the time of typing this post, it's one week and 14 hours until the cast comes off. Not that I'm counting.

Most of the people in our social circles finished having babies about 3 years ago. Several commented to me this weekend that they had forgotten how much work babies are. (I guess I not only felt like my hands were full, but looked like it, too.) We do forget. I forgot. I propose that taking care of a baby all the time is not unlike the natural childbirth experience: extremely intense, yet the intensity is forgotten with time.

One more thought: it's clear to me on the third babyhood that sitting here, typing out these complaints is a luxury. Even vocalizing my complaints is a luxury. It's been rougher for the last three or so months (since the onset of crawling); I predict it will be rough another 8 months. To be able to sit down and semi-coherently type out a post about it? Luxury. Somedays, I don't have the patience to re-live it. Somedays, I can't think straight to sit in front of a computer. Most days, I have no time to waste complaining. I am in a constant state of multitasking between 6am and 7pm. (I hate multitasking.) I don't know if I'll have another chance to pull it all together and type it out again before we're out of this phase and onto the next. And that's okay. But I would like to remember that babyhood is really hard. The third child might be "easier," (after all, you know how a baby works, it's the not New anymore,) but the workload of three is heavier and less conducive to babyhood.

Sigh. Instead of feeling nostalgic and sad that it's over in the future, or looking back through rose-colored glasses, I would like to feel accomplished, not lacking. Sort of: I've Been There and Done That, Gave it My All, Earned My Stars. Big Smile. Next up?

(Dusts off hands, walks away  picks up whining baby, walks away with baby on hip.)

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Mirror, mirror

I'm convinced that this new mirror I got from Ikea has a slight vertical exaggeration.

I also think our guest bathroom mirror does the same thing, but to a lesser degree. I will be blaming both these mirrors with my inability to lose all the weight I gained (OVER A YEAR AGO) with Trixie, by the way.

I thought about the possibility that all the "normal" mirrors in my house might have a slight horizontal exaggeration.  However, the thing that convinces me that it is this mirror is off is that when I look at this piece of artwork in the offending mirror, it looks narrower than when I look at it directly.

"I guess they goofed up," Fritz says, when I tell him about the Ikea mirror. "Ikea is too cheap."

I'm not so sure. It seems to me that a slimming mirror might be a better seller.

You know what? I can test this using a photo editor! I took the photos, I drew a red box around the mirror artwork (left side), then I proportionally scaled the red box to fit the height of the artwork without mirror (right side). See how the red box on the right is narrower than the artwork? That's the amount of distortion in the Ikea mirror. I THINK. Tell me if you if you think there might be some other explanation.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Future Flash

Do you ever have a flash, where you suddenly see a future, older version of your child? It has only happened to me a handful of times in the last 7 years. Today, I had such a flash with Mattias, as he was sneaking something out of my bedroom and into his own room. Whatever it was was hidden behind his back. He was telling me he had nothing; he was standing in the shadows; his jaw was angled upward as he nodded in such a way as to procure my agreement.

Instead of seeing a sneaky 4 year-old, I saw defiant 17 year-old, with the beginnings of stubble on that angled jaw.

I briefly focused on memorizing the details of his sneaky behavior, so that I can catch glimpses of it in the future, if necessary. Something tells me a defiant 17 year-old might be more gifted at hiding things.

Friday, April 18, 2014


If somebody put a cast like this on my leg, I'd sit myself down. Or I'd crawl into bed. I'd wait it out.

[image removed]

I certainly wouldn't drag it around the room on my hands and other knee. I definitely wouldn't try to stand on it.

It's bent! It's hard resin! You can't stand on it. Oh. I see. Well, I guess you can...

[image removed]

Babies. They just don't stop. I wonder when I became so limited/limiting of myself.

Some of it, however, is this child. She just doesn't stop. She's tough. She's not going to whine and mope. Her brothers weren't quite as tough. Still aren't. In fact, in the last 24 hours, they have BOTH, INDEPENDENTLY tried to convince me that they, too, need a cast. Mattias's toe is about to fall off and Noah's elbow hurts a lot. Just in case you were wondering.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Broken Leg

First of all, thank you for all your well wishes for Trixie. Today we got it in to see a pediatric orthopedic about her foot/leg. The diagnoses? An occult fracture of the tibia. The tibia is the shin bone. An occult fracture is when initial X-rays doesn't show a break, but X-rays taken several weeks later will show remodeling of the bone. Have you ever heard of such a thing? It kind of sounds like Fritz's experience from decades ago, doesn't it?

She's in a cast from her mid-thigh to her toes for about 19 days. Her leg is bent; in theory, she can crawl. In reality, it's more like she can drag around her stiff casted leg in a crawling position. She spent this evening trying to get used to it.

It could be a very long 19 days.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Tales of First Steps

On Thursday, Trixie was taking 6-8 steps all by herself. Walking.

On Friday, Trixie tumbled down about 6 stairs and hurt her leg. Or her foot. It's hard to say. She stopped standing on her left foot. She was certainly not walking. She was whiny and uncomfortable, but there were no physical signs of injury beyond the whining and one-footed-balance. I took her to the doctor. He ordered some x-rays. They came back negative for fractures, a piece of information that I take with a grain of salt, knowing how hard it is to see fractures in the mostly cartilage (bones) of a baby. Fritz broke his arm when he was five and the breakage was only found, remodeled, when he started having trouble at age 40. Sigh.

We were sent home, with instructions to give her pain killers, and keep an eye on her over the weekend. Well, the weekend has passed. She's no worse off, but she's not much better either. No walking, just balancing on that right foot and left toe. Crawling, once again.

The story's not over yet. We're still watching and waiting.

But I am reminded of Mattias' first week walking. He had – he HAS – this strange habit of letting his tongue hang out of his mouth. The first week he was walking, he fell. His two little teeth on top and his two little teeth on bottom? They bit through his tongue. His tongue wasn't completely severed, it was just a tongue with a big slice in the middle of it. There was a lot of blood. We took our first ever trip to the emergency room. Somehow, his tongue grew back together. But I always wonder if his love of spicy food is related to this incident.

When I was just walking as a baby, I fell on some concrete and took the brunt of the fall on my face. My mother swears there was a large piece of flesh missing from the tip of my nose. On the up side, it grew back; on the down side, I still have a rather sizable nose.

I'm hopeful that the end of Trixie's leg/foot tale will have an unremarkable conclusion. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Spätzle. Party.

This weekend, Fritz had some colleagues over for a Spätzle Party. Never heard of a Spätzle Party? Me neither, I think it was totally his own invention. Spätzle is basically german noodles: flour, water, eggs - um, I think that's it. There are different regional methods for making spätzle. Fritz made Bavarian spätzle, his colleague made Swabish spätzle. Both were very good. I suggest wikipedia if you want to know more about spätzle.

What I was actually thinking about, however, was more the party and less the spätzle. Every time we have people over, it feels like a really big deal. Seriously, this party was on Sunday and we spent the whole weekend cleaning. By the time the party began I wasn't just tired, I was a little annoyed thinking about all the things that didn't happen because we'd been in party prep mode all weekend. I wish I could just shrug it off, let people into our house in all its messy glory. I do shrug off the mess – somewhat – with the neighbors. But parties feel like they need more formalization, thus the cleaning. Also, there were other people cooking in the kitchen, so cleaning out the fridge and the spice cabinet seemed important.

Once, when we had a few family friends over, shortly after Trixie was born, they were really impressed by how clean the house was. These families were generally younger and smaller. And I think our clean house almost scared them. Something about the situation, or the way their comments were expressed, caused me to think in retrospect that they thought our house ALWAYS looked like that. And strangely, neither Fritz nor I felt like it was appropriate at the time to say, "No! We spent all day cleaning!" But we did. I just want to confess: we ALWAYS spend at least all day cleaning if we have a party/planned event. I'm really looking forward to the time when this is not the case. The question is: do I need to learn to relax about the state of the house? Or is my fussing legitimate and it will be less of an issue as the kids get older?

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Real (Estate) Improvements

Last night, I dreamt that I found a pair of realtors walking around inside our (fenced-in) yard. They wanted to know if we wanted to sell our house. This is not entirely far from reality, as lately I've been approached twice by realtors while gardening in front of the house. I guess the available housing inventory in our neighborhood is pretty low. Still, it was strange to dream about it.

I've come a long way since August of last year, when I was ready to move. This week, we signed a purchase agreement for solar panels, which makes me all sorts of happy. Also, my aunt is helping us put in a new, more xeriscape street lawn grass at the end of May. I love planning things to do! I love the anticipation! Having plans really keeps my spirits up. Of course, if there's anything we're learning, it's that the trouble is when it comes to actually EXECUTING said plans. Fortunately, on the solar panels, someone else is installing them for us, so we can at least be certain that in the not-so-distant-future, there WILL BE solar panels.