Tuesday, July 28, 2009


won⋅der⋅ful [wuhn-der-fuhl]
1. excellent; great; marvelous: We all had a wonderful weekend.
2. of a sort that causes or arouses wonder; amazing; astonishing: The storm was wonderful to behold.


I never knew that having a baby would be so fascinating. In the beginning he was just a little lump- and adorable lump, for sure, but a lump- who didn't do much but sleep and nurse and stare up at the corner of the room, pondering (I presume) the contrast between the beige paint and the white ceiling. But then he learned to smile, and babble, and focus on the objects I held up for his viewing pleasure (rash cream! OMG!), and things took off like a rocket.

I was standing in front of his crib this morning after he woke up, calling the dog in from the hallway. Lion loves the dog. "DAH-GAH!" he screeched, and then slapped his leg repeatedly, just like I was doing.

He didn't do that leg-slapping thing yesterday. When did he learn that leg-slapping thing?

Now, at nearly 11 months old, he makes signs for "eat" and "more." He says DAH-GAH for dog, and KEE-KAH for cat. Music of any sort makes him clap and bob his head. If he hears someone laugh, he'll do his own little fake laugh a couple of beats later. He waves hello and goodbye. He shakes his head NO. He gives us the stink-eye because he knows it cracks us up. He can turn the lights on and off. He cruises around the room and toddles behind his little push-cart, and every once in a while he'll let go with both hands and stand there, beaming, before his bum crashes to the ground.

He eats our food now, chunks of fish and fistfuls of brown rice, roasted asparagus and sweet potato quesadillas. If he's not sure about something, he'll usually try it after he sees Mike and I eat it. He loves fruit above all else. The sight of a nectarine practically sends him into fits of joy.

He calls for Dada after he poops. I can only assume this is because of the way we divided the work for so many months: when Mike was home, I nursed and he changed the diapers. Now in the morning we'll hear Lion call out, "Dadaaaaaa!" and we know what's waiting in his diaper. "How did Liz train him to do that?" my friend marveled. Ladies, the formula is this: dumb luck. "He just likes the way you do it!" I tell Mike, stealing the trick men have used since the beginning of time.

It's not always fun. Of course it's not. There's way he suddenly minds if we take something away from him, or attempt to redirect him (like yesterday in the library, when awful Mama wouldn't let him pull all the board books off the shelves, and when he had to give up my library card to the check-out clerk- oh, the injustice!). The way his bib is suddenly his mortal enemy, and he rips it from his neck every chance he gets (pocketfuls of spaghetti sauce and noodles on the floor! Like a Jackson Pollock masterpiece!). How I was changing his diaper this morning (Dada was in the shower, that lucky bastard) and he grabbed a fistful of his own waste, then peed on me while I was disinfecting his hand. There's all the times I hear myself say, "You know, kid, you don't have to offer your mouth as a receptacle for the dog's tongue."

I wish I could go back in time and visit that woman who wasn't sure she wanted children. I would tell her yes, everything you fear will happen. It will be the hardest thing you've ever done. You'll be exhausted. You might not wash your hair for four days. You'll have very little spare time and money.

But I would also say this: if you do this thing, if you go for it- if you just hold your breath and close your eyes and trust and jump- you'll be so glad you did. You'll love like you never thought possible. Your life will be in Technicolor.

Your life will be... wonderful.

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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Back from Florida, where the MLS overfloweth but the jobs do not

After two weeks and 28 hours of driving, we're home again. We packed up the dog and the baby and left on Friday morning, July 3rd for Charlotte, North Carolina. For the first time ever, Mike, his two siblings, and all related spouses and children gathered at his dad's house. We had a good time, and Lion traveled very well, as usual. I keep waiting for his good nature to fall apart, but so far it hasn't happened. I think he's lulling me into thinking that he'll always be easy and then he'll give it to me good when he turns two.

It was nearly impossible to get him down for naps and bedtime at any reasonable hour while we were there. He was so switched on from the constant attention of his three cousins that he seemed convinced that he would miss something great if he closed his eyes for a couple of hours. Also, the second night there he had a temperature of 102.5 and a runny nose, which we would soon realize was due to three more teeth coming in. However, while the lack of sleep was hard on us, it didn't seem to bother him a bit.

On Sunday, July 5th we packed the car again and headed to my parents' house in Florida. It took us about 8 hours with stops. I found myself feeling somewhat thankful that Lion is no longer breastfeeding, because while roadside nursing on the way to and from Florida last December was fine, I wasn't so anxious to do it in the 90 degree heat. Instead, we just stopped for gas and diaper changes, and we were free to zip along as I fed him and gave him bottles in the back seat.

Lion is currently fascinated by anything with a buckle or lid. I included a small Gladware container in my bag of tricks and he would happily study it and play with it for a good ten minutes at a time. Also popular was the empty Eclipse mints tin, with its shiny blue surface and hinged lid. Makes a great racket when you beat it against the window!

(and this is why we don't buy many toys. Why should we, when the most random househould objects are so endlessly entertaining? Here! Play with this can of green chiles!)

After Lion turns one on September 3rd, we'll finally be able to turn his car seat around so it faces forward. He's been in the 95th percentile for height since he was born, and his legs are so long that he has to sit with them folded up against the back seat. Can you imagine how annoying it is to be a baby, with so little control over the position and movement of your body? If we do any more lengthy car trips before his birthday, maybe I'll let him ride in the car top carrier. Which, yes, we bought a car top carrier. God. Mike summed it up perfectly, after securing the bungee cords to the roof rack: "I feel so dad."

Anyhow, we made it to Florida and had a great time. Mike and I even got away for a couple of nights, soaking up the ocean view from our hotel room and swimming, sleeping, and sunning to our hearts' content. Granted, I woke up at 4:30, 5:30, and 6:00 our first morning there, but managed to sleep until 7 the second morning. And as we discovered, the days seem so luxuriously long when there is no schedule! There were no meals to prepare or nap times to work around or dirty diapers to wash. No, all we had to worry about was drinking that mango margarita before it melted.

Bizarre. What did I do with all my free time before Lion came along?

Oh, right.

We also spent a day with our real estate agent, who showed us several lovely neighborhoods. I already knew which one I like the best, though. It's an older neighborhood, with modest, well-built homes that went up in the 1950's and 60's. There are towering oaks, biking trails, good schools, and it's a ten minute walk to shops and restaurants, or a 15-minute drive to the beach. And there are lots of nice houses for sale. There's only one problem, and I'm sure you can guess what it is.

No jobs.

The agent was brutally honest. "It's very, very difficult to find work here," she said. "It's bad."

While there were lots of great bargains, we were always painfully aware that the low price on our MLS printout was coming at the expense of some other family's dream. It was sad to tour some of the foreclosed homes, gazing into what was obviously a child's room or a baby's nursery as the agent told us that the home is now worth only 40% of what the previous owners paid. I wondered where they all went. I wondered where those children were sleeping.

So for now we will continue to live here, and be thankful for our good jobs. Like so many other times in my life, I wish I could close my eyes and see what the future holds. Another child? A new home? Job loss?

Would you want to know?

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