Five Years.

July 20, 2016

Life happened. It’s not that hard for me to believe that it’s been five years since my last post. I have another kid now. We’ve moved again. I wondered – is that old blog still around? And yes, it is. I should do something with it. I should write again – I know I need to write, it’s a form of therapy and mental exercise and more. I guess I’m faced with the same conundrum that I felt when I started this blog – “inadequate things.” Can I say anything that is adequate? Anything meaningful? Confronted with so many narratives in the world around me that should be unbelievable, but sadly aren’t now, is there anything to say that anyone other than me wants or needs to hear? The RNC is on in the background now (I should change the channel – it’s not good for my health to listen to this), and there is so much I want, for myself, my family, my state, my country, my world. Right now, constructive dialogue instead of vitriol and partisanship would be nice.


Wild Ride (book review)

June 13, 2011

Wild RideWild Ride by Jennifer Crusie
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

If 2 1/2 stars were feasible, I’d pick them, because this book really does fall in the middle: the plot and characters offer so much potential that I want to love it, but it’s just not there yet. I wish some brilliant individual had grabbed this novel in the draft stages and pointed out all of the places that needed “more” as well as the places that would be just fine with “less.” The plot’s basic premise, of five ancient demons imprisoned in an amusement park and the struggle of their jailers to keep them from escaping, offers so much promise, but I expect more. I’ve read and laughed at Agnes and the Hitman. I know they can do better when they collaborate and it works. The novel’s conclusion feels rushed and underdeveloped, and the characters are not fleshed out enough. Mab is initially presented well, but further developments and growth in her character are not fully explored, whereas Ethan (individually and in his relationships with the other characters) does not receive sufficient attention. Ugh. I wanted this book to be so much more than it was. Yes, I’m glad I read it, but it didn’t really satisfy.

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A Beautiful Thing

March 28, 2011

My current favorite in the baby gear department: the Fisher Price Precious Planet Jumperoo

Baby D’s love affair with his jumperoo continues unabated. This evening he dozed off again in mid-bounce and then sleep-bounced a few times before I plucked him out and took him to bed. Watching your siblings ride their bikes is apparently exhausting work.

In other Baby D news, he has finally outgrown his infant seat. He’s a little guy, so it’s taken him longer than either of his siblings. His little feet hang out over the end of the seat now, however, so he’ll be upgrading to the convertible car seat. I’ve had that seat, still in the box, since my wreck last year, just waiting for him to grow into it. Fortunately we had a second infant seat and base that I used until now.

He’s such a smiley guy, and now he flashes four sharp little white teeth every time he grins. Sure, he bites occasionally, but that toothy little smile and the laugh that almost always accompanies it are adorable. If only I could entice him to eat more than applesauce and puffs with his tiny chompers!

Book Review: Jennifer Weiner’s In Her Shoes

March 28, 2011

In Her ShoesIn Her Shoes by Jennifer Weiner
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Weiner’s dialogue is witty and quick, and she has some delightful minor characters. The book’s pace seemed uneven, however, and a little slow in the middle. Although articulated well as a character, Maggie was very unlikeable, so I didn’t enjoy the portions of the narrative that she carried. Certainly all three of the women (Rose, Maggie, and Ella) are flawed, but I found it difficult to be sympathetic toward Maggie, although I did find her transformation toward the end somewhat redeeming. Weiner just didn’t flesh out how she had changed in nearly as much rich detail as how she screwed up.

Rose reminded me of myself at some points, and I enjoyed the connection she had with Petunia the pug in particular. As with Maggie, I wish that Weiner had written more about her changed life. Rose’s assets and liabilities were specified so clearly at the book’s outset, and then Weiner expected me to accept her transformation without giving me as much to justify and explain it. I really wish the depiction of her relationship with Simon hadn’t skipped over so much time and so many developments. Weiner jumped from their first date to their engagement, and it seemed like, as a reader, I was left as puzzled about the events between as Simon was when he learned of Rose’s relationship with Jim.

I loved Ella and would have enjoyed more development of her relationship with Lewis. Again, Weiner set up the beginning in so much detail and then jumped and skipped over too much. With the richness used to set the scene and characters early on, I expected more from the rest of the book. Did she rush to finish it? Did she run out of energy or patience while writing? In Her Shoes just didn’t fulfill its potential. I don’t expect chick lit to rival Faulkner, but at the same time, I felt a little misled when Weiner failed to deliver on the book’s early promises. I must confess, however, that I would not rate the movie adaptation as highly as the book.

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So sweet your teeth would hurt

March 18, 2011

Lately I’ve found myself staring at baby D while he plays and engages in his usual antics. The little guy fascinates me with his enthusiasm and fascination for the world. He has a huge grin with a couple of shiny white bottom teeth poking out, and he flashes that smile all the time – except when he pokes out his lower lip and cries because he wants me to pick him up/feed him/pay attention to him/change him/put him down for a nap he needs but doesn’t want.

Some of you may know that he arrived early. Not sure where he got that from – I’m late for everything. But he spent just under two weeks in the NICU and has remained small in weight and length. His head, however, is almost off the charts. My kids all have big heads, like Hubs and me – because we need lots of room for our massive and amazing brains.

So, when S was a baby of about this age, I toted him to the hospital for all sorts of scary tests and a visit with a pediatric neurologist, who greeted us, measured my head, measured Hubs’ head, and informed us that our son just had a big head like his parents. I guess it stands out so much because all of my kids are in much lower percentiles for height and weight, but we were relieved to learn, after all of the stress, worry, mystery, and anxiety, that S is a normal kid who just needs big hats and bike helmets.

The smiling baby went to the (new) pediatrician a couple of weeks ago, and we talked extensively about his head circumference, other measurements, and developmental milestones. Baby D isn’t exactly doing everything that “they” say a baby his age should know how to do. Until last week, he wasn’t sitting up. Now he’ll sit up if we make him do it, but he usually yells and complains about it until we leave him alone.

He doesn’t like baby food. He’ll eat a couple of bites and rapidly lose interest, and often he spits out most of the food that enters his mouth (for extra fun, he’ll blow raspberries while doing this to achieve maximum distribution of his mushed peas). He’ll scrape up little puffs and get about half into his mouth, and he’ll bring anything he grabs straight to his mouth, but he doesn’t cooperate nicely when Hubs and I try to feed him baby cereal or baby food.

Baby D is a tiny guy. Most of the outfits he wears now are size 6-9 months, or just 9 months. He’s closing in on 11 months. He hasn’t put on much weight since his six-month pediatrician appointment. He does take his acid reflux meds like a champ, and fortunately he doesn’t seem to have issues with reflux as long as he takes the meds regularly.

He prefers to roll around on the floor like a log and rotate his body when he needs to change directions. He’ll assume the crawling stance, but he never actually progresses forward, although he does inadvertently back up in a crawl until he gets stuck under a chair or table.

After the conversation with the pediatrician, I had a few ideas and conclusions:

  • I have a very stubborn, strong willed baby. In a battle of wills, he’s a fierce competitor.
  • He wants to do it himself, tyvm. He’s independent.
  • He probably doesn’t have any physical reason for not crawling. He just doesn’t want to do it. He’s good at conning someone else into doing his bidding, so why should he worry?
  • He doesn’t like to stay still in one place, so why would he want to sit up and use all of those muscles when he could be playing? And why would he want to sit up and be confined in a high chair, particularly when he can barely see over the tray because he’s so short?
  • It might be a good idea to have a pediatric neurologist check him out. The developmental stuff is probably due to his being a little early, and stubborn, but he does have the massive head for his massive brain, so it wouldn’t hurt.

I was all ready to make an appointment and have him checked out, although I didn’t relish the idea of repeating those tests that S had at this age. Then Hubs suggested that we hold off a bit and see if we could persuade him to master a few of these important skills. Enter the Jumperoo.

Baby D has a Jumperoo. It’s his Jumperoo, so don’t walk over and try to play with the toys on it while he’s enjoying it, brother or sister. He can make himself bounce and laugh, and he can turn himself around in it so he can see everything in the room. He can play with cute animal toys, and if it had the batteries installed, he would be able to listen to tinny music (but his mean old daddy doesn’t want to put the batteries in it just now). It has a tiny spot on the toy tray for his puffs, too, so he can keep snacks handy.

He doesn’t like to be taken out of the Jumperoo. He spent nearly three hours in it yesterday evening after Hubs assembled it. This evening, he started falling asleep in it, but every time I plucked him out, he woke up screaming.

Hubs and I are asking ourselves why we didn’t buy this months ago. He had a swing that we borrowed from my cousin back in Georgia, but since our move, he hasn’t had anything like this… until now.

I feel like we’re in some bad spoof of a Taster’s Choice commercial: Baby D doesn’t realize that his parents are pulling a fast one on him. He’s getting exercise and building up abdominal and leg muscles but thinks he’s just having fun.

I pulled him out once again about an hour ago. He had passed out with his head resting on the lion toy, and I finally managed to make the transfer without waking him. We’re going to hold off on the pediatric neurologist a bit longer, I think. Maybe he just needed a new flashy, fun toy to inspire him a bit. He isn’t showing any symptoms that cause immediate concern, so I’m thinking that the doctor’s conclusion is accurate:

He isn’t doing everything the book says he should be doing, but then, he never read the book.

I don’t think my independent guy will ever like taking orders very much, anyway.

News from the wild west

February 11, 2011

Why, oh why, is it so cold here? I moved to Austin with dreams of wearing short sleeves in February. Illusions of never scraping ice from my windshield again. And yet, last week, the kids were out of school. For a snow day. And when I started my van this morning to drive A to school (because it’s too cold to walk with the baby – his cheeks get red and chapped!), the dashboard said it was 20 degrees outside. wtf?

Sure, I had some great days a couple of weeks ago when I did wear short sleeves. And we went to the park, walking in gorgeous warm sunshine, with no coats, and I was sweating by the time we got home. That was glorious. But this cold needs to stop. The wacky up-and-down temps need to stop. While I’m on a roll, the cedar pollen should never have started.

In other news, baby D has three sharp little teeth poking through his gums, and he sometimes uses them for evil. Moms who have breastfed children through the teething stages will understand the pain. Good thing he’s such an adorable little punk. He laughs – laughs! – when I scold him. And then grabs me around the neck and swipes a big handful of my hair, so he can clutch it in his fist while sucking his thumb.

Miss A got a great report on her first progress report here. She had particularly high marks in reading, which pleases my nerdy little heart to no end. She also seems to be making friends, despite a few issues with a mean girl in her class. I’ll never understand why anyone would say mean things and try to include my beautiful girl, but fortunately A is making friends with others and learning to steer clear of trouble. I know the teacher is aware of the issue, so I’m trying not to obsess and worry about it. Not saying that I’m successful, but I’m trying.

And then there’s S. The one who tied a string to a toy tractor and who is now dragging it behind him around the den. He’s so stubborn. I’m trying to teach him, trying to get him to practice writing, so he’ll be in good shape for kindergarten, but the kid balks at being told what to do. And I’ve never had much patience for cajoling and humoring. I know he’s smart, but he’s so stubborn about showing it that I fear others (his kindy teacher) won’t realize how much he knows and can do. Ask him to help with housework and he’s a great helper. It’s just something about writing, or practicing math, that makes him balk. Trying to sneak in an education is proving challenging.

Cheers and Boos

February 3, 2011

A random assortment of observations and reflections, most of them incredibly profound, about my new surroundings.

Yay! for Austin:

  • Targets. Lots and lots of Targets, just waiting for me to stop and shop and drag my tyrannical herd through the aisles.
  • Central time zone allows me to watch prime time television and late news broadcasts and still get to bed before 11.
  • HEB has a really nice selection of fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • I rather enjoy walking A to and from school, except on exceptionally cold days like today. And the exercise is probably good for me.
  • I get SO MANY channels on cable. It’s crazy. I’ll never watch them all, or even want to watch a lot of them, but the excessive options are there, just in case.
  • A’s new school really impresses me. Her teacher’s great, and I feel like she’s in a great situation academically. Plus she’s making friends!
  • S has a friend across the street who’s his age, and they get along very well.

No, thank you:

  • The water tastes funny. I liked the (non) taste of the water and was good about drinking a lot and staying hydrated until we moved here. Now it tastes icky. So I’ve been making lemonade and tea and such, to mask the flavor, because I need to drink a lot to avoid any more kidney stones.
  • Cedar fever sucks. Both boys, Hubs, and I have all dealt with it. A, not so much. My sinuses haven’t given me this much trouble in several years, since I had sinus surgery.
  • There are some really bad drivers on the roads here. Back in Georgia, I encountered a lot of dumb drivers, but they were largely harmless. I didn’t understand why they did certain things, and sometimes they annoyed me, but I didn’t feel endangered in the way I sometimes do here. I’ve seen too many dangerous dumb drivers already – particularly those texting and/or talking on the phone and still driving, without looking in front of their car. The ones in Georgia doing this would usually wait for a red light, and then maybe sit there too long after it changed to green. Here, they pull out without looking, and when I honk because they almost hit the side of my car, they give me the bird as though I had done something wrong.
  • So much of the stuff I want/need is still packed in boxes in my garage because I’m waiting on someone to do certain things around the house before I can proceed. And the waiting is making me very, very testy.
  • I really miss my family back in Georgia.  😦

Oh, that sound

January 30, 2011

I can hear it now. It’s Hubs, snoring. Loudly.

I shall not cast any stones from my glass house, however, because I know that I snore when I have a sinus infection and/or when I’m pregnant. But wow, he’s loud.

He won’t like me mentioning this (won’t like is an understatement: I can’t believe you wrote about that on your blog! What were you thinking?!?!), but I have to discuss it, because it leads me to a cute kid story (humor me).

I went upstairs to S’s room a few mornings ago and his bed was empty. Not under the bed, not in the bathroom, not in his sister’s room. I finally tracked him down, curled up on the floor of his closet, wrapped in a big red blanket. The closet door was shut, no less – which, given his fear of the dark, surprised me, but he had taken his blue bird nightlight with him.

Did he get scared? Had he wet the bed? Had he been up looking at books or working puzzles?


He went into the closet and closed the door, and then he wrapped himself thoroughly in the blanket, to get away from the loud noise.

What noise, I asked him.

That sound Daddy makes when he’s sleeping. Kind of like he’s growling.

Out of the mouths of babes…

Missive from the handbasket

January 13, 2011

So, I’m trying to type while a baby snorgs loudly in my ear, sucking his thumb and chewing on my hair at the same time.  Somehow this baby has developed a thing for my hair.  It’s like his security blanket.  I’m trying really hard to get him to transfer his affection to a blanket or stuffed toy, but no luck so far.  Which means I have little wet wads of hair after holding him.  And oh, does he want to be held.

I thought his “hold me now” insistence was bad when we were in Georgia and we were trying to pack, but if anything it’s worse now.  I can understand.  He’s in a new environment, and he’s been through a lot of upheaval in the last month, and he wants his mama.  Of course, now this makes unpacking difficult to accomplish.  But if I get him sitting just right, happily situated with thumb and hair, I can type a bit or read things on my laptop.

From what I’ve seen so far, I like Texas pretty well.  It’s different, and this morning when S started talking about playing my cousin, a big wave of homesickness washed over me.  I started tearing up as we were driving back after driving A to school (most days we’ve been walking, but it’s really cold today, and I didn’t want to take the baby out for a long walk in that).  There are so many changes right now that I just feel emotionally spent by bedtime most days.  I really miss my parents and extended family.  I feel so divorced from what’s happening in their lives, and I guess it’s similar to how things were when we lived in North Carolina, but then I hadn’t had the years of closeness and near-daily contact as fresh memories.

Did I mention that our garage is completely packed with boxes and plastic bins?  Over five feet tall, completely filled to the door, a two car garage full of our stuff.  The sight makes me feel so materialistic, and overwhelmed with the prospect of unpacking it all.

Make it stop.

December 13, 2010

You know that handbasket?  The one that goes to hell?  Yeah.  My life’s been in that basket for far too long now, and I want off this ride.

Things have been generally stressful since Hubs went west in mid-September, leaving me as the Responsible Party with all three kids, three dogs, and a house to pack and move.  Then he had a wreck on November 1. Much chaos and difficulty ensued with getting his car evaluated, getting answers from insurance, etc.  After three weeks, they finally decided to total his car and he had to find a new one, fast.  Mind you, he went ahead and bought that car over three weeks ago, because he needed a car for work and insurance declined to pay for a rental car any longer, and yet the check from insurance for his old car didn’t show up until yesterday.

I was already developing serious concerns about our insurance company before I had a wreck, on November 16.  Again, it took a ridiculously long time for them to decide whether to repair or total my minivan. My sweet minivan (don’t laugh!), the only new car I have ever owned, which Hubs got for me for Christmas six years ago. Yeah, it was a mom car, but it handled so well, and had nice leather seats and a DVD player and room for all of the kids and assorted junk.  By December 3, they finally decided to total the car.  Did I mention that they kept telling me that they were waiting on a report from the guy who inspected my car?  And they fed me this line for a week and a half? And the report was there, in their system, the whole time, only with a slightly different title than what they apparently expected? Gah.

So, my rental car subsidy ran out on Friday, but I cannot locate the title for my late lamented van (I’m wondering if the bank ever sent it when I paid off the loan – I can’t remember receiving it), and so I am in a similarly awkward position of having no money and no vehicle.  Well, actually, I still have the rental car, because I don’t have a choice. I have to apply for a replacement title, and then send in that title to the salvage yard so that they can officially total my van and pay me.  I fear this may take a while.  Did I mention that we’re moving to Texas? In a week?

In other fun news, I went to the emergency room one night over the Thanksgiving holiday – always a good time. I wished fervently for hand sanitizer – nay, a personal protection bubble – while I sat in the waiting area with A (the patient), baby D (the bottle-refusing baby), and a huge crowd of coughing, hacking, sniffling sick people. A fell and whacked her cheek and the side of her body pretty well, but the doctor said she didn’t have a concussion and sent us home after more than three hours.

As if the poor kid hadn’t endured enough (the fall, plus night terrors and sleepwalking that seems tied to her father’s absence), she got sick last week. Both of her brothers got the flu shot earlier in the fall, but she was in school when I took them. And something came up when I planned to take her for a flu shot, and with all of the business, neither she nor I ever got the shot. So naturally, my sweet baby girl got the flu.

She missed four days of school last week, and now she’ll miss tomorrow, too – she’s healthy enough to return, mind you, but school was canceled due to the threat of inclement weather. There’s a dusting of snow on the ground, and that’s enough to call off school in these parts. I’m sure others who live to the north would laugh at the way Georgians react to snow. Quick! Everyone run to the grocery store and buy all of the milk and bread! And yes, the kids and I were out there with the rest of them at Kroger yesterday. In addition to the requisite bread and milk, we also bought Oreos, hotdogs, and some ham from the deli to round out the gourmet offerings on our menu.

So, I’m dealing with an inadequate rental car (A has to ride in front – the back seat is too small for three car seats/boosters), a sick girl, a wild boy who’s stir-crazy from staying inside so much, a baby who wants to be held at all times, a dog that needs to be rehomed before we move (which makes me so worried and sad and knotted up inside), and the house. Packing the house. Which is going well, in terms of boxing and packing items, but which is also making me sick.  The dust stirred up with all of the moving and such has ignited a disgusting sinus thing that makes me cough, snort, and generally act in a decidedly unladylike fashion. The cough has kept me up at night, and I woke yesterday to find that I also had laryngitis. Still have it today. And that makes it so much easier to talk on the phone and get things done in preparation for the move.

Argh. This needs to stop now. I really need a few things to go well. I could use a streak of good luck. Smooth sailing, or what you will.