Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Upright Citizen

And... he walks!  Well, kinda.  A few days ago my baby, now a one year old, stood up proudly and took two steps forward.  And then he did it again.  And again.  My littlest boy, my last baby, is walking.  Oh dear god.  He has yet to take more than 3 steps at time before collapsing to the ground, but he continues to take every step with glee.  It's as though he can't believe he's actually doing it.  Neither can I, my little Squishy, neither can I.

He's growing up, and I can't help but mourn the last dregs of babyhood in my life.  He is still a baby- not big enough to eat a grape on his own or be trusted near a cord- but he is also clearly growing toward toddlerhood.  (I'm screwed.  TWO toddlers at once.)  He's nearly weaned from breastfeeding, starting on regular milk, and chattering away like a little hairless chimpanzee.  He's an awesome little guy- simultaneously jolly and infuriatingly headstrong.  He has an infectiously throaty little chortle and finds his big brother HILARIOUS.  He bangs on drums (and anything else) with reckless abandon and has freakishly solid rhythm for a one year old.  He is also a recent master of the arching, throw-yourself-on-the-floor, screeching, sobbing fit.  Like I said, toddlerhood is nigh.

What with recent events, watching my baby boy take those tentative first steps is surprisingly bittersweet.  I am absolutely, completely and totally confident in our decision to cease fire on the baby-makin'.  Two children is plenty for us and frankly, some days it feels like too much.  But knowing for certain that this will be the last one... it's a little sad.

Part of me is ecstatic.  In a few weeks when I completely wean my baby from breastfeeding, I will have my body to myself for the first time in four years.  I have been either breastfeeding or pregnant (or both!) for FOUR CONTINUOUS YEARS.  And let me tell you, four years is a very long time not to have control over your own body.  Man, I am gonna get so drunk the day I wean that boy.  (I may or may not be kidding.)  I also will never again have to experience the first three nauseating months of pregnancy, will never have to give birth again, will never again have to watch my belly stretch to the size of a small zeppelin.  So very many things to celebrate.  With lots and lots of beer.

But the other part of me is bummed that I will never be pregnant again.  I was never one of those people who claimed to love being pregnant (and honestly, I think those people are full of it), but it really is an incredible process.  I will never feel a little person doing calisthenics in my belly again.  I will never again experience the amazing, though painful, process of giving birth and I will never look a new little person in the eyes as his mother again.  No more first steps, no more first laughs or rolling over or waving bye-bye.

Now, before you start accusing me of histrionics, I'm not as forlorn as I sound.  SWEAR.  I really am glad that I only have two children.  I am SURE that two is the right number for my husband and me and we are incredibly lucky to have the babies we have.  They are wonderful, funny, kind little people and I couldn't be more in love.  But I think it's important to honor these unexpected feelings of sadness at the end of babies.  Babies are cool little beings, and I'm going to miss having one.  Especially when my current baby starts screaming "NO!" at me and throwing things.  Then I'm REALLY gonna miss babies.

Anyway, the whole point of this post was to say... he walks!  It's going to be an even crazier ride from here on out and I may have to eliminate every item on every surface in our house.  My husband is going to be STOKED.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Vasectomies, Barfing and Snow!!! Oh My!

Know what's super awesome?  A family handling a vasectomy, stomach flu, and Snowmaggedon all in one week.  Of course that's how it went.  I'll be honest- this week could have gone better.   Not quite what we were anticipating when we scheduled my husband's vasectomy.

Oh, by the way: My husband had a vasectomy last Friday... Friday the 13th.  Ominous, no?

Nope!  For us, it was a day of joy, laughter and happiness.  Tears of exaltation.  A day of pure celebration.  There were a few tiny nerves, but mostly 'twas a day that meant, "HUZZAH!!!  No more fear!  No more waiting in terror!  No more surprise pregnancies!"  Until my husband came limping out of the operating room with bandages and ice on his balls.  Then it was probably not going to be so much a day of celebration for him (but still for me!!  Sorry, honey).

This is not to say that we do not adore our children.  We do.  We love them completely and unequivocally.  Each of us has exploded with love for each little boy and we are overcome each and every day with their awesomeness.  We love them so much that we don't want to dilute our love any more.  So.... VASECTOMY!!!!!  We are also ready to rid my body (and our environment... think of the fish!!) of the artificial hormones I've been riddled with since I was eighteen.  My husband is a badass feminist and thinks it's bullshit that women have to deal with all body modification in order to prevent pregnancy.  I concur, so all done.  Goodbye, pills.  Vasectomy!!!

All was going well.  We were icing the balls, taking it easy, chillaxing even.  Until Saturday night at midnight.  That's when the puking began.  We woke to the sound of our toddler whimpering.  My husband went in to see what was going on and promptly got puked on.  (My poor husband ALWAYS gets puked on.  I am grateful for his sacrifice.)  He carried the crying, barfing boy into the bathroom while I stealthily stripped his bed, shoved all the bedding into the washing machine, and remade the bed. In the dark.  While one child cried and puked and the other screamed because he awoke to the screeching of a frightened brother.  It was good times.

After about an hour of barfing, we finally managed to get our toddler calmed down and into new clothes.  The barfing had ceased and the poor little guy was exhausted, so he asked to go to bed.  We tucked him in and crawled back into bed a little after one in the morning.  (Did I mention we'd had a friend over that night who had brought with him a colossal bottle of wine?  And that my husband doesn't drink?  So it was left to me to help tax that bottle of wine?  Wait... you're saying we didn't have to finish it?  I didn't want to be rude.  It was POLITE to help him finish it.  Geez.)  Half an hour later we awoke to more whimpering and another hour long puke session.  And repeat.  And repeat again.  By the end of the four hours, my toddler couldn't even hold himself up.  He just collapsed into my lap and I held him like a baby between retches.  Saddest thing on the planet.  He was begging to go to bed, but he just kept heaving.  I stroked his hair and did the best I could to reassure him that it would end eventually.  A little after four a.m., his dry heaves disippated and he sank into me and fell asleep.  We tucked him in, knocked on every surface of wood we saw, and crawled back into our bed hoping for the end of it.

The next morning he woke up hungry and asked for several different things for breakfast.  He was low energy and didn't eat much all day, but he seemed fine.  We were sure he was on the mend.  Funny, right?  As we were getting him ready for bed, round two.  Nothing like a little projectile vomit right after dinner.  Par-tay.  After two rounds, he seemed to be feeling better, so we jumped in the shower with him where he proceeded to sing and dance.  Kids are mighty weird little creatures.  We took it easy, but he went to bed fine and has been puke-free (knock on wood) ever since.

Then, came the snow.  As my husband and I were inching around the stomach flu and chugging vitamin C-rich liquids like our lives depended on it, the forecast came for a likely snow storm.  Then it changed to "Snowmaggedon" (which should clearly be followed by a menacing buh-buh-buh-BUM).  But here's the thing.  Seattle has a tendency to predict these kinds of things, only to see a smattering of snowflakes that melt upon impact. Generally, I find myself deeply disappointed.  And frankly, between all the vomit and the ball icing, I wasn't in the mood to get my hopes up for a lovely winter wonderland.  As expected, Tuesday came and went with nary a snowflake.  LAME.   But then the newscasters predicted major snowfall.  Six to twelve inches at least.  Snowmaggedon.  Snowpocolypse.  A MAJOR SNOWMERGENCY!!!  And then slowly all of the school districts started to close.  Hmm....

We awoke the next morning to a few inches of snow, and it was still falling.  It fell all day, all night, and all the next day.  Honestly, it was beautiful.  Having grown up with snow in Northern Idaho, I find that miss it every winter.  I don't miss all the crap that comes along with it (like the shoveling), but it's just so beautiful.  And there is nothing on the planet like watching a kid- let alone your kid- gallivant around in the whiteness.

We enjoyed Snowmaggedon around here.  The snow stuck around for a couple of days and then melted away.  And we didn't have to shovel a thing.  And my husband's classes were all cancelled, thereby allowing his balls to heal.  Win, win.  For us, it was a nice addition to a weird week.

So, not exactly the week we had imagined.  But there was some good stuff in there, and we got to spend some time together as a family.  Nobody felt great and it wasn't exactly what I would call relaxing, but the snow brought us a nice escape.  And we were lucky enough not to lose power.  Could have been worse!!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Fun with Toddlers and Neighbors!!!

Subtitle: The post wherein I rant endlessly and show that I may well have anger issues.  My apologies.

Quoth Daddy while speaking to my toddler: "We're going to take a shower because your balls smell, and Mama needs a break."

So true, Daddy.  So true.

2011 ended with a bang.  November and December were doozies.  El Toddler is on fire lately and is testing every last nerve remaining in my body.  I hear a lot of, "NOOOOO!!!!" and there is a lot of smacking and laying atop the baby by said toddler.  I don't know if this is just your standard "terrible twos" or if it's a special brand of awesomeness that my boy has concocted in response to the obvious stress around these parts, but it sure is swell.  I can't tell you the joy I reap from having my oldest son tell me he doesn't like me and then watching him throw his cup right at his baby brother's head.  It's just pure delight.  The screams my toddler now produces on a stupidly regular basis have also taught my baby how to scream.  He now thinks that is how to communicate.  So it's a bit of a scream-off around here.  It is awesomefuckingtasticness.

In addition to kid fun, I have the downstairs neighbor from hell.  Living in an apartment with children is not ideal by any standards, but it many cases, it is simply a necessity.  We have to live here right now because we can't afford to live anywhere else.  We have to make it work.  When we were first moving in (as in, the FIRST TIME WE SET FOOT IN THE APARTMENT), we were measuring for cribs and, out the window, saw a little man looking up into the room from the 2nd floor hallway, shaking his first.  That's right folks, shaking his fist.  Is he ninety years old?  Nope.  Just a dick.  We decided to be the bigger people and went downstairs to greet him and apologize for the noise we were apparently making.  (Actually, I wanted to go down and yell at him for being an asshole, but my husband rightly pointed out that this would not be the way to begin a friendly, neighborly relationship.  Whatever.)  So, knowing we would be living in a building with a persnickety downstairs neighbor, we taught our toddler how to do "sneaky feet" and "walk like a bird."  We have also taught him that he is not to jump, run, throw, or bounce in our home.  Is this reasonable to expect from a two and half year old?  Not at all.  Is it likely that it will be at all successful?  Nope, but we're trying like hell anyway because it's the nice thing to do.  We spend all day every day reminding our poor toddler to use quiet feet and walk gently.  Nonetheless, he sometimes runs for 5 seconds, or falls, or pounds a toy 4 times before we can stop him.  Obviously, my son is clearly trying to ruin this man's life.

After living here a little over a month, Mr. Persnickety came up to pound on our door 10 minutes after we got home from the grocery store.  My toddler had banged a toy on the floor a couple times, so he came up to complain and request -I kid you not- that we teach our child to be quiet.  Um... seriously?!?  First off, we have been falling all over ourselves trying to teach a TODDLER to be as quiet as humanly possible already.  It's unbelievably unfair to expect him to completely alter himself, his nature as a child, and his playing in order to please a pissy little neighbor man, but we are asking him to do so all the same.  Secondly, we had been home for TEN MINUTES.  Ten.  Really?  Dude, you live in a building and in buildings, you share walls.  Not sure you're aware of this concept.  Shockingly, when you share walls with people, you hear them.  Whaa?!?  Yup, that's right folks, you're gonna hear your neighbors when you live in a building.  GROUND-BREAKING INFORMATION.  Meanwhile, we hear this same persnickety motherfucker playing his electric guitar EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT.  Sometimes we can hear what he's playing along to.  (In-a-Godda-Davita, anyone?)  We hear our upstairs neighbor pumping house music at 6a.m. every single morning.  We also hear her penchant for moving furniture around.  At our last place, we heard our neighbors hammering in an inexplicable number of nails for pictures and doing what I can only guess was carpentry indoors at the weirdest hours.  Have we ever gone to yell at any of them?  No.  Why?  Because we CHOSE to live in a building where we shared walls.  Because we are somewhat reasonable human beings.  Because we are aware of reality.

Thankfully, my husband answered the door when Mr. Persnickety came a-callin', or he would have gotten an earful of the above from me.  IN ALL CAPS.  My husband told him that he was sorry for the pounding and that we had already been working on being quiet with our TWO AND A HALF YEAR OLD CHILD and that we would continue to do so.  My husband was kind.  I would have bitch-slapped that sonofabitch.  Actually, I probably would have burst into tears, because that's what I do when I'm mad, but then I would have yelled at him... while crying.  Which is not particularly effective, FYI, but I can't help it.


All of this happened about a month ago and in the meantime, we have been attempting to live our lives normally.  We are still reminding our toddler not to stomp across the floors and trying to keep him from doing the laps that all toddlers do from time to time, but sometimes it's a losing battle.  During those times, we're trying to remember that we are not doing anything wrong.  We have fallen all over ourselves trying to keep our neighbor happy and be as quiet as possible and he still complains.  So, fine.  We won't trouble ourselves anymore.

He called again a few nights ago because- god forbid- it was 3 days after Christmas and our kids were still filled with yule.  We had a friend over and our toddler was having a blast.  He wanted to dance for a moment and (gasp!) I didn't stop him.  It was 7:15pm.  Within minutes of said dancing, our phone rang.  At first we didn't answer because we had a friend over and weren't sure we wanted to pursue the inevitable drama, but my husband decided to call him back and have at it.  Persnickety claimed that there was a ton of stomping going on for an extended period of time and it "felt like living in a bass drum."  This, apparently, was getting in the way of his nap.  A nap.  At 7:15pm.  Not even joking.  I would like to make his head into a bass drum.  My husband proceeded (very kindly) to tell him that we are constantly, constantly, CONSTANTLY trying to be quiet and bend our lives to fit his ridiculous requirements (i.e. total fucking silence at all times), but that we cannot actually physically strap the children (or ourselves) down 24 hours a day.  He responded by saying that "perhaps this isn't the right building for children."  Wow. Really?  First of all, restricting children from living here would actually be totally illegal, you douche-bag, so that's kind of a moot point, don'tcha think?  Secondly, is he seriously attempting to bully us out of our home?  As though we would actually turn around and say, "OMG!  You're totally right!  We should move immediately!"  What was that comment supposed to accomplish?  Am I aware that half of the building is full of older couples with grown (or no) children?  Yes.  Are there play structures scattered across the grounds?  No.  Does that mean that we have no right to live here?  NO, it does not.  Trust me, we will fly out of here like 4 little jet planes as soon as humanly possible, but that little fact is due to YOU ALONE, SIR.  Ugh.

Anyway, my husband told him in all kinds of ways and all kinds of tones that he was being ridiculous and that we needed to behave in a neighborly fashion.  That we hear our neighbors (including him and his goddamn guitar) all the time, but that we don't run whining to their doors.  He backed down, but I know we'll hear from him again.  We always do.

I cannot wait to live in a house where my children and I can run and jump and have dance parties and generally enjoy our lives without wincing every time the phone rings.  And I cannot wait to see who moves in here next.  I hope they have triplet toddlers.  And mastiffs.

May 2012 be a shinier, happier year and may it bring all of you the love and laughter you deserve.  With less bitching from that persnickety fucker downstairs.  (And less whining from me.)  Yeesh.