Wednesday, January 30, 2008

nope, not risky at all

Scene: Kitchen. Halloweenlover is making banana bran muffins (d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s, by the way) while Gabe eats pre-dinner snacks in his high chair. Josh arrives home from work and walks in to survey the scene.

Josh: What are you doing?

HL: Making banana bran muffins for breakfast tomorrow.

Josh: Why is the computer on the counter?

HL: I got the recipe off of the internet, so I'm reading it while I'm making the muffins.

(surveys mess surrounding the computer, including banana peels and egg shells beside it and two bowls of dry and wet liquids a couple of inches away)

Josh: Gabe, Mommy sure is being risky by having her computer on the counter!

HL: No I'm not, this is your computer.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

should certainly know better

I went to the movies tonight to see Untraceable with my college roommate. We grabbed dinner earlier with Gabe at a nearby restaurant, and then Josh swung by after work to pick Gabe up and take him home while we continued on to the movies. By the way, the movie was entertaining but very disturbing. Rather sick, frankly.

And then, GASP, my friend convinced me to sneak into another movie after the first one! EEEK! This is theft! I'm not even in high school! Worse, I didn't even do that when I WAS in high school! We were the worst perps ever, since we were freaking out about getting caught and kept running up and down the hallway nervously and going from movie to movie trying to select which one we would see.

Appropriately enough, we settled on Mad Money. The stress was too much for me, though, my stomach hurt every time a theater employee would walk through the theater. I think that was enough excitement for me for the foreseeable future. Let's all agree not to tell Gabe about this little incident.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


I have a confession. I think daytime television generally stinks. I don't like soap operas, I don't like courtroom shows, I don't like talk shows (much). Don't get me wrong, I'll turn on Regis and Kelly or the Martha Stewart Show in the morning while I'm munching on my cereal, but I don't love them the way I love nighttime shows.

I do, however, love the show "A Haunting" on the Discovery Channel. "A Haunting" is a docu-drama that tells the stories of actual people who have been haunted. I love it. LOVE IT. I eat this shit up, seriously. My DVR is set to record all of the episodes, so when Gabe goes down for his nap, I grab a snack or lunch, curl up on the couch with my mug of coffee, and watch my recorded shows until my skin crawls and I'm paralyzed with fear on the couch.

The show re-enacts the stories of people whose houses have been haunted, or their children possessed, or some other crazy scary stuff that makes for excellent stories. The real people who have supposedly been haunted come on the show and intersperse their commentary between the recreations, which truthfully, are sometimes really frightening. It's gotten to the point that when Gabe wakes up, I'm sometimes afraid to go up the stairs in case something grabs me from behind.

I don't even know why I watch the show when I get so scared, but I can't resist. I guess I enjoy the heart racing and blood pumping and cheap little thrills from being terrified, but it is getting a little bit out of hand. I've been watching so many of the shows that I'm almost surprised when I look in the bathroom mirror and don't see a spirit behind me. If Gabe wakes me up in the early morning for a bottle, I almost expect to see some ghost walking around our kitchen with me. We've lived in this house for 3 years, I'm confident it isn't haunted, but this show is making me a little jumpy.

Let's keep this our little secret, okay? Josh might send the DVR back if he finds out that I'm actually terrified.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

nomination for this week's worst mommy ever

Our record of no accidents on my watch is over. It is a very sad day today. My moral superiority over Josh is officially done.

We were getting ready to leave the house to meet a friend for lunch and I put Gabe's puffy jacket on him and got our stuff ready to go. Gabe is walking well these days, so I picked him up, carried him down the front stairs and put him down on the sidewalk while I went back to lock the door and grab the diaper bag.

He took a few steps down the walkway and tripped on the concrete face first. Normally, he would have put his hands down to break his fall, but the puffy jacket made it impossible for him to move his arms fast enough and instead he hit his little face on the concrete and scraped his nose on the cement. The screaming started before I'd even gotten back to turn the key in the door, and I turned around to find him face down with a mouth full of dirt and long scrapes on his nose and mouth.

At least all his teeth are still in place and we have nothing worse to show for the fall than some scrapes, but I still feel terrible. It occurred to me as I put him down that he might not be able to stop a fall with his jacket but I thought he'd be fine and we were in a hurry, so I thought the risk was worth it. Not anymore, obviously.

Ah well, Josh didn't lord it over me too much. I'm sure that like most other things in life, Gabe will be over it before I will.

Also, why didn't any of you tell me how glorious the move to one nap is? He's been sleeping 3 hours every afternoon and I spend the time running through tons of chores and then sitting on the couch with a cup of coffee to enjoy my guilty television pleasures. It's awesome!

Monday, January 14, 2008

strudel and beer and shopping, oh my

I have to preface this post by saying, we had the BEST time. Amazing. Unbelievable.

But. And this is a big but, when I tell you about everything that happened whilst on this trip, I think you are almost going to think I'm lying about having a great time. We hit a bit of a string of bad luck surrounding the trip, and I'm not even counting the sinus infections and ear infections and Coxsackie and germiness. Anyway, let's get down to the stories.

We flew out of Boston, via Amsterdam to Bonn, Germany. Unfortunately, on those flights, we seem to have encountered the rudest airline employees known to man. These airline employees refused to allow us to bring a car seat onto the flight, even though the seat next to us was open, they yelled at us about how "Americans don't know how to form queues," they spilled water all over the guy next to Josh without apologizing, they snapped at me and actually muttered "Oh my God," when I spilled my drink in my efforts to keep Gabe contained during the 8 HOUR FLIGHT, and were generally unpleasant and unhelpful.

Gabe refused to sleep, refused, for the entire red-eye flight. He threw his pacifier down approximately 79 times in protest. I'd brought lots of snacks and bottles and toys, but certainly not enough to keep him entertained for 8 hours. By hour 5, I discovered that the individual television on the seat in front of us carried Baby Einstein movies. Now, I have an ardently held belief in no television for Gabe, but when my ears starting bleeding from all the whining, I decided that one flight of television wouldn't hurt. We spent the rest of the overnight flight with our eyes glazed over watching video after video. I could have kissed the monitor, truly.

As our flight was nearing Amsterdam, it became apparent that we were at risk of missing our connection to Bonn, Germany. This meant that Josh would miss his business meeting, and that we'd be stuck in Amsterdam for several hours until the next flight. The plane landed, and we RAN. You have to picture us madly dashing through the airport, with a stroller, a car seat, a child, two coats, one snowsuit, one briefcase, two carry-ons, and a partridge in a pear tree. Most distressing, as we are running and searching for signs on which terminal to run toward, there were time descriptions of how far the terminals actually were. We had 20 minutes before the flight was scheduled to take off, and the first sign we encountered, before Customs, said that terminal C was 21 minutes away. I almost cried.

We didn't lose hope, though. We raced through Customs, ran through 3 terminals, and hoped that if anyone made it to the plane before us, they'd tell them to wait for the poor fools who were traveling with the 11 month old and all the accompanying gear. Finally, terminal C was close, and in front of us, a beacon of hope dressed in an airline uniform holding a walkie-talkie gestures wildly toward us and asks if we're on our flight, we say yes, and she starts yelling in Dutch over the walkie-talkie "blah blah blah baby blah blah blah". We made the flight, with seconds to spare. We walked on, and they shut the doors behind us and were taxiing before we'd even gotten Gabe's car seat strapped in.

As you may have guessed, though, our luggage was not as fortunate. Josh attended his business meeting in jeans and a tee-shirt, and Gabe and I spent a day running around Bonn in our slept in, spit-up on, dirty clothes. We also had to buy German formula and German baby food. It was quite an adventure, trying to deduce what the packaging meant in German. I just hoped I wasn't feeding him anything random! The bags, thankfully, arrived in the middle of the night. Most importantly, Josh's suit and my formal gown arrived in that bag prior to the holiday party for which we'd flown to Germany. It would have really stunk to have to attend the party in my stretched out jeans and filthy t-shirt.

Bonn was lovely. Adorable and charming and clean and full of German Christmasness. There was a Christmas Market scattered throughout the center of town, full of food stands and art stands and sweet treats and gifts and people, oh my goodness, the people! Germans apparently love their Christmas markets, and the town was bustling. We arrived on a Thursday morning, and Josh's schedule was jam packed with meetings and dinners and social functions until Saturday morning, so Gabe and I contented ourselves with shopping and eating and people watching.

This child, unbelievably, was a saint. After not sleeping on the overnight flight, being thrust into a strange situation, strapped into a stroller for hours while we prowled the city, he never complained. Not even once. He was wrapped in a sleeping bag in the stroller with only his hands and head peeking out while he sweetly looked at all the sights. After surveying the moms and babies in town, though, I realized that Gabe was sorely lacking a good hat. We didn't see a single baby whose head was uncovered, so I sacrificed and bought him an adorable German cap. Ok, two adorable German caps. I also bought him a strap for the pacifier that I could attach to his clothing so that we wouldn't have a repeat of the pacifier throwing incidents on the return flight. Those Germans definitely know how to make good baby products, I had to restrain myself for all those hours by myself. I wanted to buy everything in sight.

Since the company hosted the party and the trip, we were sharing a room with Gabe. A not so big room with two beds, a desk, some chairs and a portable crib. Also unbelievably, this turned out not to be a problem. Due to the time change (6 hours later), Gabe was falling asleep much later, so we all settled into bed around midnight, shut off the lights, and although he peeked at us over the edge of a crib a couple of times, he went to bed without any problems. The first night in Germany, we did wake up around 3am to play for an hour or so. I just got up with Gabe and complied because it seemed a little selfish to be very strict with him after everything we were putting him through. After that first night, though, he slept through the night with no problems. We kept him on that later schedule for the whole week and it worked out well, again, unbelievably.

Saturday night we attended the holiday party, with Gabe down the hall with a babysitter provided by the company. I checked in on him every 20 minutes or so and tried to enjoy the party. Dinner was fantastic, the people were interesting, and we had a great time. I finally dragged myself out the door with Gabe on the 1am bus, and Josh stayed until close to 4am, enjoying the dancing and the band. I was tempted to stay, but the buses only ran at 1am, 3am, and 5am! I suspected that the hours between 1 and 3am might be a couple of REALLY LONG hours, so I opted to head back to the hotel instead. 1am, 3am, and 5am, can you believe it? I don't know how people kept their eyes open for that long, I was falling asleep on my feet by the time I hit the bus, but of course, when we arrived at our room, Gabe was practically ready to go out to the clubs. I'm wondering if maybe there was caffeine in the German formula I selected.

Our flight to Prague left on Sunday at 1pm, so after a rough wake up and speed packing, we made our flight to the Czech Republic to start the actual "vacation" part of the trip with no business meetings or functions. Bonn was amazing, though, and I am definitely forcing Josh to stay with his company (not a difficult task since he loves it) at least until next year. I can't wait to go back!

Vacation Installment #2 To Come: Prague and Amsterdam (Take Two).

Thursday, January 10, 2008

almost like a tornado, only cuter

I so needed Gabe's nap today. I mean, I love this kid to death, but today has been one of those days where I was really to weep just a tiny bit by the time I settled him into his comfy crib.

Gabe is a path of destruction in our house.

While I put away laundry last night, he opened drawers in my dressers and threw clean clothes onto the floor. He opened the linen closet and dumped out plastic bins of lotions and batteries. He opened up a toiletry kit and quietly disassembled and chewed on tampons. He used our wicker laundry hamper as a walker across the upstairs hallway. He pulled baskets off of shelves, dumped out trash cans. He moved the dog bed into a different room. He crawls under the beds to pull out shoes and magazines. He pulls books off of book shelves.

And of course with his own toys, he takes puzzles apart and scatters pieces around the rooms. He slides blocks under the couches, he hides balls in the corners of the rooms. He has a new play kitchen with lots of play food that are marvelous to throw all over the place. Worst of all, he hides my keys and my cell phone and our remote controls.

It's exhausting. He is relentless. Sweet, loving, adorable, but RELENTLESS.

All of this happens while I'm standing there watching him, but what can I do? It is a full-time job just following him around and putting stuff away. I feel like the house is always a disaster, even when I'm trying so hard to keep it neat.

I'm overwhelmed by life these days, and I think my little path of destruction is no small part of that. I just can't keep up with everything that needs to be done, and I'm exhausted all the time. It feels like the house is always messy, the laundry is always piled high, there is always a long list of things to be accomplished. Ironically, when Gabe was a newborn, I felt more in control of our lives, I think partly because I didn't feel badly letting things like neatness go. Now that Gabe is a year old, though, I think I should be an expert at home organization and meal management and errand running.

When naptime comes along, I'm so exhausted all I want to do is collapse on the couch and have a snack, forget about throwing in a load of laundry, but I need to come up with some way to finish all the things that need to be done.

I don't know if it is the fact that Josh has been traveling nonstop for the last couple of months, or that when he is home he is working late and on weekends, or that Gabe got those ear infections, or that I got sinus infections and ear infections, or that my mom was visiting and then my mother-in-law was visiting and then my law-school roommate was visiting, and then my parents and in-laws were visiting or maybe it's the weather, or maybe it is the fact that Josh has been too tired to help at all when he is home. It could also be the non-stop diarrhea that has been plaguing this house for the last 4 days. That could definitely be it.

Am I missing something? Is there a secret system that some people know to get things accomplished? Or does it just take time and effort? Clue me in, por favor!

Monday, January 07, 2008

turns out that germs carry over into the new year

Happy New Year!

I have so much to tell you, I don't even know where to start! We're back from Germany and the Czech Republic, my parents visited for 10 days, we had a family birthday celebration for Gabe, he caught some crud going around and we had to cancel his "friend" birthday party, and today was a stressful day filled with a lot of crying. His, not mine, although by the time bedtime rolled around, it was a close call.

Before we left for the trip, I owed you an update on what was going on with the Coxsackie/Hand, Foot and Mouth virus. It seems that your well-wishes and positive thoughts did make an impact, because by the time we left, the blisters had cleared up. Unfortunately, the day before we left, I was diagnosed with a sinus infection, and Gabe was diagnosed with double ear infections. TWO. In his ears. Exactly what you need when you are taking a baby on a plane for 8 hours the next day. His crazy diaper yeast infection turned out not to look so much like a diaper yeast infection and more like some kind of crazy response to the Coxsackie virus. That whole area was swollen and blistered and looked incredibly painful for most of the trip, and only started to get better about 2 days before we came home. We had a lot of diaperless time in hotel rooms. I left apologies to the cleaning staff.

The kicker about Gabe's ear infections, though, is that I never suspected them. We went in for the diaper check because the rash was rampantly worse since the yeast diagnosis the week before. The pediatrician agreed that it was probably not yeast and decided it was likely Coxsackie just taking an ugly turn. He chatted with me for another 30 seconds and then rushed out of the room. I was putting Gabe's diaper back on and realized that he hadn't checked Gabe's ears, which were a source of concern for me given the flight and the fact that the week before the physician's assistant said he had fluid in his ears.

I called the nurse over and told her that I'd forgotten but wondered if the doctor could check his ears for just a second. She looked at me blankly and said that she didn't know where he was but she'd see if she could find him. She came back a minute later and said matter-0f-factly, "Oh sorry, he's on the phone." End of statement. So I suggested that perhaps I could wait for him, and she said she'd see if he was available soon. 2 minutes later, she comes back and says, "He can't see Gabe now, he's actually going in with another patient."

I was a tiny bit stunned, given the fact that it had now been 5 minutes since he'd been in to see Gabe, and HONESTLY, how long does it take to look in his ears? I asked if someone else could see him and she said everyone was busy.

Now I'm pissed, so I said, testily, that I would wait. She left for another couple minutes and then came back to tell me that one of the nurses had agreed to look in his ears, as if she was doing me a favor.

The nurse comes in, looks in his ears, and exclaims in surprise, "He DOES have ear infections!" She writes out a prescription, and as we're packing up to leave, I asked her if she wouldn't mind mentioning this to the pediatrician since I felt like he thought I was being ridiculous by insisting on an ear check. And she said, "Yes, I think so too." As in, agreeing that the pediatrician thought I was ridiculous! So first he refuses to come back in to check Gabe's ears, despite the fact that it was literally 30 seconds after he walked out, and THEN he expresses annoyance that I'm asking???

Anyway, we're walking out, and all the nurses are crowded into the front office, and one of them looks at me questioningly, and I say, "He has double ear infections," and they all gasp in unison and I hear a chorus of no ways, and wow, and I didn't believe it. Meaning, of course, that they were all up there having a little gossip fest, I assume, about what a pain in the ass I am.

I was rather taken aback, and rushed out of there fuming, and then called Josh and my mom to see if I was overreacting or if they agreed that I had a right to be upset. I had to talk Josh off the ledge of calling the pediatrician and pitching a fit, so I made the decision that despite my hatred of confrontation, I owed it to the pediatrician to give him a call. I did, and they connected me right away, and he was relatively apologetic. I say relatively, because he pushed most of the blame on his staff, and claimed that he didn't refuse to come back in and was already in with another patient when the nurse came in to ask him about the ear check, and he only asked if I could wait a couple of minutes. I'm trying to see it from his point of view, but still, I'm pissed. I think it was rude and unprofessional not to come back in when I'm asking for an ear check, and although I understand that I should have remembered to ask him, I don't think it is an acceptable response to refuse to come back in!

The lesson learned, though, is that it is my job to stand up for Gabe. On three instances, the nurse tried to get me to leave, and three times I had to insist that someone look in his ears. If I hadn't insisted, we would have boarded a plane to Europe with no antibiotic and a baby in a ton of pain. Now I know. I have to push back, even if I hate doing it. I owe it to my child.

The other hanging topic from before the holidays is the dog. The dog continues to have issues, but I am choosing to ignore his issues until we settle down with everything else on the health front. I'm being extra nice and offering treats and keeping an eye on him, but I have too much on my plate to find him a doggy psychologist just yet. Since we've gotten back from our trip, he has been better. Maybe having us away for 10 days scared him into better behavior. Or maybe he just needed a break from us or Gabe and now he is feeling better. I hope.

I also have so many stories about our trip, and about the amazing, unbelievable child that emerged while we were away, and I'll post them as soon as the screaming stops around here. With pictures! I have tons of our little world traveler and his trusty stroller.

I hope you all had great holidays and very happy new years. I can't wait to catch up.

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