Archive for August, 2006

Queen of the Universe

Now that Autumn’s almost ten months old she’s better able to communicate her wants and needs.  Most of the time she expresses them with a high pitched squeal when she sees us pick up a favorite treat or toy.  Her favorite toy of late is our car keys.  She just can’t get enough of them.  If she even sees a set of keys in our hands her eyes go wide and her mouth opens to emit squeal after squeal until we finally relent.  “Keys!  It’s the keys!  Must have keys now! Can you not see how much I love the keys? GIVE ME THE KEYS NOW OR I WILL DIE!”

I got the same reaction this morning when I was packing her bag for daycare.  I was pouring some Gerber veggie puffs in a little snack container.  Like Pavlov’s dog she turned her head at the sound and saw me holding the bright yellow container.  And then started the squealing. “Puffs! Love the puffs!  Must have puffs NOW!”  There were just a few pieces left after I filled her snack cup so I walked over to her activity table and poured them on the snack tray for her.

In a way I think this is cute.  I love the squealing because it means my daughter’s trying to communicate with me.  After months of trying to guess what this cry or that cry meant, Autumn now has the ability to tell me what thrills her like KEYS! or PUFFS! On the other hand I’m wondering if I’m perhaps spoiling her by giving in whenever she starts to squawk.  Autumn is learning to get what she wants by being as loud as she possibly can.  Whether it’s getting the attention of her grandparents or the key fob to the Aztek, my girl has learned there’s nothing more powerful than the sound of her own voice.

From the time we moved into our house Nathan and I figured we’d only have one child.  We would talk about how we would not spoil said child and started watching shows like “Suppernanny” and “Nanny 911” after we found out I was pregnant.  We would shake our heads and cluck our tongues at the irresponsible parents and their bratty, out-of-control kids, making vow after vow that we would never make the mistake of letting our child rule the roost.

And yet… she squeals and we give in.

I think we’re doomed.


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Just ducky

A week ago last Sunday we had Autumn’s 9-month pictures taken.  I knew exactly what outfit I wanted her in for the pictures, but about an hour before we had to leave for Target I pulled the sweater out of her closet to find it still had yellow spit-up stains on it from the last time she wore it.  I cursed myself for not checking on the sweater the day before and rushed downstairs to throw it in the washer.  I rushed the sweater through the wash cycle only to find the stains hadn’t totally come out. 

After a bleach pen and a quick tumble through the dryer, the sweater was finally in portrait-taking condition.  The dryer hadn’t gotten the sweater totally dry though so I sat in the car with the window open while I held the sweater in my hand and hoped to God it would not slip through my fingers and onto M-6.  When we arrived at target I put the sweater on Autumn and found that it had not totally shrunk back to size and the arms were roughly twice their normal length.

Nathan just didn’t understand why I was so determined to have her picture taken in that outfit.

This would be why:




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Our 24 hours away was nice. We found our way there and back okay. The motel we stayed at was just this side of seedy, but I guess that’s what you get for under $45 a night. We checked in Saturday afternoon before the wedding and the first thing I noticed was the sign out front advertising their weekly rates. I guess that’s not as bad as a sign advertising the hourly rates. The second thing I noticed was that the elevator smelled like fish, but it turned out it wasn’t the elevator that smelled like fish but the guy in the elevator with us who smelled like fish because after the reception the elevator smelled distinctly less fishy.

Autumn handled our time away well. She had a little bit of a fit before we left, but she had a smile on our face by the time we walked out the door. I left written instructions for my mom regarding Autumn’s feeding and her nap times and gave her quick tutorials on how to use the various remotes. Since Mom was staying at our house and we don’t have a land line, I left my cell phone with her and told her to press and hold “2” whenever she wants to call us on Nathan’s cell.

All seemed well for while. My mom called us a couple of times to let us know Autumn was fine and that she ate her lunch and took a short nap. Around 2:00 she called but we didn’t get to the phone in time because a good song was on the radio and we had cranked up the volume. I tried calling her back but she didn’t answer. I called back again and again without an answer. By the 10th time or so of not getting an answer I finally called my dad at home and asked if he had talked to my mom. He said he had just talked to her and that she was fine.

I finally got ahold of my mother about 2 1/2 hours later. I asked her where she had been to which she replied, “I’ve been here on the couch the whole time. I just happened to touch the phone and it was vibrating. You know, I wondered what that sound was!”

I don’t know how she managed to change the ringer to vibrate, but she finally was able to change it back after two test calls and a lot of sighing from me.

The wedding was very nice. Nathan’s cousin looked beautiful and we got to see family we only usually see once or twice a year. I drank just enough Merlot to make me want to get out on the dance floor and boogie to a couple of songs, but by the time it started getting dark Nathan and I wanted to get back to the motel while we still had a chance to find our way there.

About 10:00 pm my mom called again. “I can’t turn the TV on in your room,” she said.

“Did you find the remote?” I asked.

“Yes, I have it right here,” she said.

“Press the ‘TV’ button and then the ‘Power’ button. The ‘Power’ button is the big button at the top and the ‘TV’ button is right next to it.”

“Wait, I don’t have my contact in,” she said. She couldn’t see the buttons and had no idea which ones I was referring to. She finally did get the TV turned on and we didn’t hear from her again until the next morning.

We took our time driving home and stopped off at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, two grocery stores they don’t have around here. We got home about 1:30. Autumn was thrilled to see us. She smiled and squealed and wriggled in our arms when we picked her up. That was the best reception I’ve ever received.

This morning Nathan called me. He was laughing as he told me he came in to work today with a note on his phone display that indicated he had six voicemails. One was work-related and the other five were from my mother and all were just a very short “hi.” We think she must have hit the wrong number for speed dial several times.

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Nathan and I are heading to the other side of the state for his cousin’s wedding this Saturday.  We’re staying overnight in a nearby motel because we don’t want to have to drive the 2-plus hours home after the reception.  My mom is staying the night at our house with Autumn.  This will be the first time she’ll be without the both of us for longer than it takes to drive to the mall, watch a Harry Potter movie and drive back home.  I’m a little nervous and I think my mom is, too.  She loves to be around smiley, happy, charming Autumn but is a little afraid of cranky, whiny, teething Autumn.  It’s been awhile since she’s had to console an inconsolable child and we have no idea how Autumn is going to react to our absence.  I guess it’s a good thing she’ll at least be in her own home while we’re gone.

I have so many things to do before Saturday.  Our house is a mess.  I know my mom wouldn’t care because her own house is a showplace for clutter, but I’d really like her to just worry about Autumn this weekend and not about the dishes in the sink or what she should do with the pile of papers on the kitchen table so she can clear off a place to sit down and eat.

I’m making our gift for the bride and groom; a crocheted afghan that I’ve been working on for nearly six months.  I was supposed to work on it last night but fell asleep in front of the TV.  I now have tonight and tomorrow night to finish it up so I can wash it before I have to bag it up.  I also have to wash some laundry and hang up all Autumn’s clothes that I washed last night.  I have to write out instructions for caring for Autumn (feeding times, nap times, etc.), buy diapers, baby food and snacks for mom.  I have to find a nice bag big enough for the afghan and two matching pillows my mom made and get a card for the gift. 

I’m passing on dinner out with my parents tonight and asked if I could drop Autumn off with them while I run some of my errands.  As much as they love me, I know they really want to see her so I’ll give them their fix and do what I can while I have the time to myself.

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Sometimes it just hits you

Today is my dad’s 60th birthday.  For as long as I can remember, he has loved to travel.  He’s not the kind of passive traveler who has one destination in mind and spends all his time in one spot.  My dad actually spends months preparing for his trip by making various hotel and park reservations and scheduling every minute from the time he pulls out of his driveway to the time he pulls back in.

His favorite places to visit are all out west.  The Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Yellowstone, Craters of the Moon, Crater Lake, Zion.  Almost every year he goes back and as soon as he gets home he starts planning for his next trip out there.  My mother has stopped traveling with him because, as she puts it, “I’ve seen every rock between here and California and don’t need to see them again.”  Mom, on the other hand, could visit every shopping outlet in the country and never tire of bargain hunting.  They’re a match made in heaven, those two.

My dad takes a camcorder with him on every trip and always comes back home with extensive footage of said rocks.  He used to hold us hostage in the living room while my mom and I rolled our eyes and yawned.  We had seen it all before, not just on other tapes but in person and we preferred to be left to our own memories than sit on the couch while my dad narrated over his own taped narration of the trip.

For his birthday I’ve been converting some of his old VHS trip footage to DVD.  It’s a process that takes a lot of time and eats up a lot of my hard drive, but it’s been a labor of love.  So far I’ve converted his trips from 1994 and 1995, and since his birthday dinner is tonight that’s all I’ll be able to give him right now.  It’s just as well since my mom wasn’t sure how much longer she’d be able to smuggle the tapes out to me before he found out.  I’ve had 1995 on my desk for a few weeks now and he’s been none the wiser.

I was finishing up the last DVD of 1995 last night and found myself actually taking an interest in the footage.  That year he visited many places he’d taken me as a kid, but the last leg of his trip involved visiting places I’d never been to before.  One was Dealy Plaza in Dallas where JFK was assassinated and on his way home he visited Oklahoma City.  There he shot footage of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building just five days before its scheduled demolition.

Unlike September 11, 2001, I can’t remember where I was the day that building was bombed.  I remember the aftermath and the chaos as rescue teams pulled out survivors and the horrible stories that emerged of children being killed in the building’s daycare center.  I particularly remember this picture and how it became a symbol of the carnage of that day.  Yesterday was the first time in a long time I viewed that picture.  It looks a whole lot different when you’re looking at it as a parent.

It’s very hard not to think of your own child when you look at that picture.  That girl, Baylee Almon, had just celebrated her first birthday the day before.  They had a big party for her and her mother was probably still cleaning things up that morning before she drove Baylee to the daycare center.

I sat at my desk and looked at that picture.  I couldn’t take my eyes off her little white socks.  Socks her mother put on her that morning.  Socks her mother probably thought nothing of as she slipped shoes on over them.  Nathan noticed as my eyes started to mist over and asked if I was okay.  I closed the window and nodded but couldn’t help but think of one thing.  What the hell have we done?

Before I had Autumn I was scared to become a parent.  I was never a risk-taker.  I preferred the safe life and having a child seemed anything but safe.  I didn’t want to lose sleep, gain more weight and be tired all the time.  I was afraid that having a child would keep me from achieving certain goals and was afraid I’d be the worst parent in the world.  It turns out I was scared of the wrong things becuase never once did I think how becoming a parent would make me vulnerable to the worst pain imaginable.

I sometimes wonder how I would handle losing Autumn.  I talk about her as though I’ll have her forever, but sometimes the evil little thoughts creep in and I imagine a life without her, not the life I had before but the life I’d have if I ever lost her.  I try not to think of it much because just thinking of it is too painful.  I don’t know how parents get through that loss without losing the will to live themselves.

Near the end of my dad’s tape was CNN’s coverage of the Murrah building demolition.  Only 34 days after the tragedy the building was razed.  Correspondents interviewed people at the scene, in particular mothers who had lost their children in the blast.  They seemed composed and calm, their grief contained where the cameras couldn’t see it.  But I know it was there.

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Friday Photo: My big girl

 Nine months ago today we brought Autumn home. This is what she looked like then:

First night at home. 

And this picture was taken this morning:



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Yesterday was Autumn’s 9-month checkup.  She weighed in at 20 lbs 6 oz and is 28 inches long.  For some reason I thought she’d weigh more, but I guess she’s on the right track.  This time the doctor didn’t tell us what percentile she was in for height and weight so I plugged the numbers into one of those handy internet calculators and was told she’s between the 50th and 75th percentile for both.  Every checkup until this last one she was near the 90th percentile for weight so she seems to be evening out some.

Even though I know not all babies hit developmental milestones at the same time, I felt a little anxious answering the doctor’s litany of questions.  Is she crawling?  No.  Is she pulling herself up to standing?  No.  Does she say “Da Da” or “Ma Ma”?  For that one we said no, but added that she’s a pretty good mimic when we say “ba ba” over and over and to demonstrate just how clever my girl is I leaned down and started ba ba-ing in her ear.  Of course she missed her cue and just stared at the doctor with a goofy grin on her face that suggested I was not holding a future Rhodes scholar in my lap.

The doctor put our minds at ease for a moment and told us he didn’t expect anything but babbling from Autumn and that the “Da Da” and “Ma Ma” verbalization shouldn’t start until she’s about a year old.  He then said that she seems a little behind on her gross motor skills and probably won’t start walking until 12 or 13 months instead of at 11 months.  “But that’s okay,” he said.

As much as I joke about not wanting Autumn to be mobile, I really didn’t want the doctor to tell us she’s lagging behind in anything.  I wanted him to tell us she’s the most beautiful and advanced baby he’s ever seen and that she’s going to go on to do great things like cure cancer or totally revamp the motion picture industry so that they no longer greenlight crap like Little Man.  What parent wouldn’t want that?

My inner voice told me to just chill and that things will all work out. Autumn will eventually crawl then walk and then eventually run away from me as fast as she can.  I just need to enjoy her as she is now and live in moment.

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