Friday, November 30, 2007

Haiku Friday

Defiant toddler
disdains her clothes. Why not be
cold, naked, and free?

Thunderstorm of tears.
Baby watches sister sob,
wide-eyed, curious.

Finally dressed, she's
sweeter than richest honey.
Schizophrenic tot.

'Tis the season...

... for decorating gingerbread men!




Thursday, November 29, 2007

Peanut butter oatcakes

I feel like a failure sometimes. At all of it. Professionally, since I never "made it" in my field. And then personally, on the home front, at the thousand mundane tasks of motherhood and domesticity. The thousand simple tasks of daily living.

And then I read a post like this and am blown away.

I've been following sweet/salty kate's story for several months now. She writes beautifully about motherhood. She writes beautifully, period. She has lived through what no mother should ever have to live through: the death of a child. This past summer she gave birth to identical twin boys, born too early. They went straight to the NICU. One survived. He came home, and he's now thriving in the love of his family. The other one never left the hospital.

I don't know the full details of this story. When I stumbled upon Kate's blog, it was already the aftermath. And I haven't had the fortitude to read the earlier posts, the ones where it all began. I may never have the heart to do so.

But I've read her posts in the aftermath... And what is so amazing to me is not only that she survived, and is surviving; but that she is surviving and grieving and also living with such grace and love and even joy. That there is still joy, after such tragedy.

I am haunted by this line of her latest post: "You're riddled with bulletholes, but there's still peanut butter oatcakes and vanilla steamers ....."

The minor stresses of daily life seem to fade into a larger space. I wonder if I *could* live through what she did. And I'm grateful to be reminded of those peanut butter oatcakes.

****************

I know this is a somewhat unusual posting for me, but I haven't been able to shake the effects of Kate's post all day. And I hope others will find her writing.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Meme: 7 random things about me

I've been tagged by Sciencemama for this meme! And it's easier than EcoGeoFemme's, so I'll start with this one.

1) I cannot carry a tune. Neither can my husband. As far as we can tell, neither can our toddler daughter.

2) I was born in a very small Midwestern town and couldn't wait to get out.

3) When I was young, I was a big sci-fi/fantasy geek. I still love the stuff (the Golden Compass trilogy is one of my recent favorites), but it's a struggle to find time for pleasure reading now.

4) I went to college at the University of Southern California. Go Trojans!

5) But I hated L.A. I mean hated, detested, despised, loathed. I used to refer to as as "Mordor." I have repeatedly asked my husband to never never get a job there. Can you tell that I don't like the city? (Apologies to those who do. And I did love my time at USC, even though I hated the city).

6) My new viewing obsession is "Jon and Kate plus 8," a series on the Discovery channel that follows the lives of a young couple with one set of 6-yr old twins and one set of 3-yr old sextuplets. You read that right. I am in complete and utter awe of both parents. If I were the mother, I would long ago have run for the hills (even though the kids are cuter than pie).

7) I am American, but of Thai and Chinese ethnic background. When people learn that I am Thai, they often feel compelled to tell me, "Oh, I love Thai food." I never know what to say to that.

I don't know too many bloggers who would likely respond to a meme request from me, and those that I do know have already been tagged! So I will just pass this one on to my little sister at flaming hot cheetos. And I will tag Mrs. Chicken, who I don't really know, but who has a lovely parenting blog at Chicken and Cheese.

Rules:1- Link to the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog.2- Share 7 random and or weird things about yourself.3- Tag 7 random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.4- Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog

Friday, November 23, 2007

Haiku Friday

Thanksgiving

New face? Baby cries.
Grandma hugs, plays peek-a-boo.
Baby starts to laugh.

Three generations.
Too much food. Pumpkin ice cream
was over the top.

here's today's final haiku.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The day before Thanksgiving

My little one is asleep, cozy in her crib.

My other girl is snuggled with her father, singing her special "Bean-girl song" that she made up all on her own. It's an off-key humming that is very faintly reminescent of the tune to "Hush little baby don't you cry." However, it is not "Hush little baby," it is the "Bean-girl song," as Bean-girl will remind you if you forget.

I have a little time to myself tonight. My editing work is (mostly) on course now. The cranberry sauce for tommorrow is already done. It is raining outside, and the forecast calls for snow. But inside all is warmth and light, safety and shelter. And right now, there is even quiet.

For all this I am thankful.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The end of colic?

Wonder of wonders... The Baby Legume did not scream tonight. She fussed lightly, then drifted off peacefully to sleep in my lap. Beautiful.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Remembering

She fights sleep. She thrashes in my arms, arches her back. Her hands scrabble frantically at my face, little claws. Short, bleating cries of distress. Then her head knocks against mine (ow!), and she rears up suddenly, scarily, a red-faced gremlin in my hands, and really lets loose: a long, ululating siren cry, a cry like a migraine, aimed right in my face.

*********************

Some nights it's not so bad. Tonight, for instance, she just seemed to fuss and cry intermittently from 5 pm on, but went right to sleep (hopefully for good) after minimal screaming. But scream she must. At least one holler, her signature farewell to the day, before she can conk out for the night.

What's wrong with her? my husband, the pediatrician, asks. Bean-girl wasn't this bad, was she? We keep asking ourselves this. Wasn't Bean-girl over her colic by now? Colic is supposed to last 3 months; that's what all the books say, that's what the definition is. It's almost 6 months now. Is it any better? Why not? Why is the Baby Legume still screaming?

Baby Legume, my husband announced this morning, is more high-maintenance than the Bean-girl was.

That's not true, I retorted. You have no idea.

*************************************

When I think back on those early months with our first-born daughter, I remember long days trapped on the couch, a sleeping baby propped up against my numb forearm. She couldn't sleep by herself, woke up when she wasn't in contact with me. She cried when she wasn't touching me. I couldn't put her down. Oh, and she screamed at night! Far louder and longer than Baby Legume (or so I remember). From 9 pm to midnight, every night. She was so regular in her rhythm, you could set your wristwatch by her. We would all be watching tv in the living room, the Bean-girl peacefully asleep in my arms, and then she would stir slightly, and then, as though someone had stuck her with a pin, let loose with a piercing wail. I'd have only to turn my head and look at the clock to see: Yup, 9:02 pm. And it was probably the clock that was off, not her.

*****************************

But the Bean-girl slowly did get better. Her colic started fading away around 4 months. Didn't it? we ask ourselves. Didn't it go away then? Wasn't it gone, completely, at the age that Legume is now?

The truth is that I'm not sure we really remember. There's a fog over that whole first year. Immediate and intense as it was at the time, the details are now blurred. When I was still pregnant with the Bean, I had a chance to travel back to the city where I did my Ph.D., and I met with my former advisor. He congratulated me on my pregnancy, and then he had this say:

Raising young children is hard, he said, leaning back in his chair. So hard, I think a kind of amnesia descends on people afterward, and they forget how hard it actually was. A good thing, since if we remembered, no one would ever have a second child.

I think my old advisor was right. He said a number of gems during the the time I worked for him, and this was another of them.

When I think back on that first year with the Bean, I wonder how I got through it. Yet it was no more than what countless mothers are experiencing right now, with their own infant beans. The colic. The endless nursing. The repeated night-wakings, every 2-3 hours, all through the night. For months on end.

What I'm trying to say, Baby Legume, is that you're not really that bad. You only wake up once at night. You can take a bottle and a pacifier. You can play by yourself on the floor during the day. It's really only at night that you get a little crazy.

And when you get older, we'll probably forget even that.

Or maybe we'll remember. I've written it down here in this blog, tonight. On November 17, 2007, Baby Legume aged 5 months and 3 weeks screamed as usual before going to bed. But then she passed out against me, her head on my shoulder, her warm weight on my chest. And I indulged myself. Before putting her in the crib, I pressed my cheek against hers. I felt the soft curve of that flesh, felt her warm, steady breath. I held her that way, not wanting to put her down. My infant baby, mine, sleeping and at peace in my arms.

May I remember that.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Haiku Friday

My Friday Afternoon

Eyes bleary, head fogged.
Laundry to be folded. Stuck,
baby-bound on couch.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Pictures for my friend

When I first started this blog, it was important for me to protect mine and my family's privacy. So I decided to blog anonymously, and not post photos. But two days ago, Sciencemama asked to see my beans, and I find that I am a shameless show-off. And anyway, Sciencemama, you're the only one (besides my sister, who doesn't comment regularly) who even reads this blog.

We've never met. We only just found each other's blogs. But I feel that we are friends. And I love showing off pictures of my girls to my friends.

Horsing around. (That's a toy giraffe the Bean-girl has)
Bean-girl as a witch on Halloween.
Sleeping Tootsie Roll on Halloween.


Monday, November 5, 2007

Sisterly love

Things that Bean-girl says to and about her little sister:

That's one little baby!
Is that my precious little baby?
She's just a little baby. She's sooooo little.
Don't cry, Baby Legume. I'm here.
Touchy, touchy, Baby Legume! (said as she touches the baby's cheek)

And when she wants Mommy's undivided attention:

Put Baby Legume down!!!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Halloween, 3rd birthday, excitement excitement

It's back-to-back days of excitement here in our little household. First Halloween, then Bean-girl's third birthday, then a hosting of our toddler playgroup this morning. Toddlers tore through Bean's left-over birthday cake, tore through presents and toys, and generally ran rampage through the house. Then one by one the little mites began to melt down, dissolving into tears and clingy limbs in their mothers' arms as noon and naptime approached. My own Bean is now fast asleep, after vehement protest.

I know that all birthdays are special, and that all Halloweens are special to a child. But this third birthday and Halloween has been especially so. This is the first year that Bean-girl really gets it. She gets Halloween. She'd been noticing the jack-o-lanterns in the neighborhood, the ghost decorations and spiderwebs. She'd been parading about in her purple witch hat for days. She understood what was going on. And then afterward she gloried in her loot, sorting her candy into piles with her father's help: sour candies, chocolate candies, lollipops, cookies. We put the candy back into her bag, and then she wanted to dump it out and go through it again, just to look at it, just to see.

And it's the first year she understood--really understood--that it was her birthday. I don't think she understands that she was born on that paticular date, but she knew full well that a birthday meant cake, presents, and "party hats." (We didn't do the party hats). She solemnly requested a cake "with blue icing, in the shape of a car, and with whales."

Whales? I said, dumbfounded.
Whales.
What color whales? I asked.
Green, she said.

I was panicking over this blue car cake with green whales, when her father finally figured out that she was saying wheels.
*******************

We had a quiet birthday for Bean-girl. Just our immediate family. We had a family dinner at home, then cake, then presents. Opening all the presents seemed to take a long time. Afterward she had to watch one of her new birthday DVDs. And in the bathtub she had to play with her new motorized submarine toy. Then hear her new storybooks. She went to sleep quite late, poor thing.
*********************

I could bring up all the cliches about seeing my firstborn grow up. I feel all the cliches. She is growing so much, and I am so proud and in awe of her. In these last six months she has moved to a new city, become a big sister, and started preschool. In just the last month she has toilet trained herself (mostly) and learned to ride a tricycle. Every day she seems to become more articulate, more skilled at expressing herself. I am proudest of all at how she has grown into her role as big sister. Sometimes, as I cook lunch or finish up some household chore, I feel guilty that I don't pay enough attention to the Baby Legume, that she doesn't have my sole attention the way the Bean-girl once did. And then I look over to her, and I see that Bean is lying on the activity mat next to Baby Legume, and Bean is touching Legume's cheek and laughing and talking to her. And I can almost feel myself spilling over with pride, and I know Baby Legume is lucky indeed.

As are we all.

Happy birthday, my always-baby Bean!