Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Three months

Dear Howie,

So, how does this happen? How are you all of a sudden three months old?
Who's a big boy?

It's kind of like I turned around and out of nowhere, now all you want is to talk to everyone, very intensely.

I'm trying not to think about it, but our little haven of spending every day together is quickly coming to a close. We've already got your daycare lined up, and the ladies there are extra super duper nice, so feel free to tell them all your secrets. I'll still pick you up every day, though, so we'll still get in our conversations.

That breastfeeding thing is going gangbusters now--thanks for hanging in there with me and working it out. And it's clearly doing your body good, because you are huge. You are the hugiest of huge 3 month olds. Not in a bad way--you're just... long. You are longer than your friend Henry, who's two months older. I think you're longer than your cousin Eleanor, who's six months older. Of course, both of them have the chub on you, but you're working on that too. But your Aunt Gail was holding you and she started laughing. "I don't know what to do with all of this baby!" she said, cradling your torso and looking at your legs, dangling out in space. We probably could have taken you and wrapped you completely around her. Now, she's a tiny person, but still. You're really really long, that's what I'm saying. And you're filling out, too.

You still look like an old man when you cry, though.

And you look like a little boy when you stand. Given, you are being held while you stand most times, but you are definitely holding the weight on your teeny little feet. You're so much less baby, then, so much more boy. I'm excited to see what kind of little boy you'll be (will you be as active as Grandma thinks? or will you be more of an observer, a thinker, who waits to join in?) and certain stages (sitting up on your own--that'd be fanTAStic) but can you not hurry up too much?


That'd be great. Thanks.

Love, your mama.

Monday, July 28, 2008


Today I:

  • Donated clothes to The Arc. Seriously. Andrew filled the trunk of the RAV last night, I dropped it all of this morning. Tons. Of. Clothes. I feel lighter. If only that meant I felt skinnier.
    Howie with the elephants
  • Went to the zoo. Met up with four women from school who had also given birth this past year. We had a six month old, a four-and-a-half month old, a three-and-a-half month old, and Howie. Howie was very excited for his first trip (and my first trip!) to the Oregon Zoo. I was totally impressed with the zoo, by the way. Including the behind-the-scenes stories that one of the women was able to share. Like when the zookeeper forgot to close the rhino's enclosure. Twice. As we discussed, wouldn't that be the primary job of a zookeeper? The actually keeping part of it?
  • Went to my parents' house. And maybe, perhaps, played a little DDR.
  • Took Howie to my grandmother's home. Mmmph. Not the best day. She's been doing so well lately, I'd forgotten how bad the bad days could be. "Where's my Howard?" she asked. Mom and I locked eyes over Grandma's head. "Dad's gone, Mom," my mom said, gently. "OOohhh," my grandmother said weakly. "When?" "Almost a year ago." "Oooohhhh!" Five minutes later, "Where's my Howard, is he back in our room?" Oof. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Fortunately, Howie--my Howie--started being a bit of a fussbudget soon after and I just had to leave. Am I going to hell for thinking Thank Goodness?
  • Acted as official photographer for two friends who are planning to start their online dating profiles. We got some good shit. I feel all awesome about it.
  • Updated my blog without waiting two weeks since my last entry. Go me!

I'm tired and am going to bed now.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


When my parents decided to move here (oh, about day eight of visiting their new grandson, when they bought a house) it hit them: they'd have to find a home for my grandmother.

When my grandfather passed away in September, we found out how bad things really were. I think Grampa covered for her a lot, when she couldn't remember. And his presence probably comforted her, too. Smoothed out the rough edges of what she didn't understand. And he was the most patient of men.

Then we (by which I mean, my parents--I was safely ensconced back in Portland by then) moved Grandma into a senior home and really found out how bad things were. It started with the hourly calls to my parents' house ("something's wrong with this hotel!"), the panicky searches for cash ("where's my spending money?"), the near-escapes ("I need to get back to Duluth."). It ended with her decking an attendant.

All ninety-eight pounds of her ninety-two year old self, decking an attendant because he wouldn't let her run out in the middle of a Michigan winter.

We had to face it--what we had taken for dottiness, for gentility, was actually Grandma losing the ability to remember things. She was moved to the Reminiscences wing as soon as there was an opening. Which is a very genteel way of saying, someone else died so we took their room.

So Mom and Dad decided to move to Portland, and more on the "sooner" timeline rather than the "later" one--where could Grandma go? And more importantly, where could Grandma go quickly? Grandma staying in the house with them was difficult. She'd wake up in the middle of the night, panicky, lost, confused, agitated. Where could we get her to stay so that she could stay there the first night?

I did the shopping, and got a whole new perspective on elder care. It's actually a lot like daycare. There's differing philosophies on how to provide said care, but when it comes right down to it: you walk in a place and can picture your loved one there, you can picture a visit there.

I went to four different homes, calling my mom after each visit to update her on what I saw. They were fine, really--Grandma would have been fed, been cared for, seen a doctor, gotten her meds at each one, but some didn't feel right. One felt like everyone there was so much worse than Grandma, it'd bring her down to their level. One felt like a hotel: generic art on the walls, and a long, endless hallway of just rooms. It was the last one that struck that cord in me, that set that thrum. Organized into "cottages" in a cohort idea, so that everyone in each cottage is at roughly the same level of ability, a dozen rooms organized around a comfy, cosy, common space.

"That's it," I called mom to say. "It's the furthest away from home, but that's the one."

It's been, what, two months now? I go to visit grandma, I try to make it once a week, I make it about once every two weeks. I bring the baby--which, let me tell you, bring a baby to a retirement home? You are the most popular person there that day, let me tell you. Sometimes too popular. But she loves it. "Is that so?" my grandmother asks as Howie coos at her. "I don't believe a word of it!" she replies with a smile.

It's tough, because she asks his name every time we come. "Howie," I say. "Oh! That was my husband's name!" she'll tell onlookers. "He would have been so happy."

I always agree with her.

But even better, the other day she said to my mom, "I think I could like it here." Those are words we haven't heard out of her mouth in... ever.

I think this move will be good for her.

Saturday, July 12, 2008


Originally uploaded by karijean
Being a mom is SO much better than being pregnant.

Heh. I just said "being a mom." I'm a mom.

Our days aren't very exciting, and when I step outside myself I worry a little about that. I don't want to be someone who only talks about her baby, but really, that's my day.

But like I said, it's only when I step outside myself. Most days? I'm delighted that my mornings usually consist of napping with a tinylong baby sleeping on my chest. As a friend said--it won't last forever, just enjoy it while it's happening. And I do. My flickr account has become filled with pictures of babies. Mostly of baby. I mean, wouldn't yours? Look at him! Plus, our afternoons are occasionally slow and so I start taking pictures. I love it.

Mostly. I mean, it's not like this kid poops unicorns and butterflies. Reality check. There's the whining and some days I do want to do things and scheduling around an infant is challenging at best, and frustrating and crazy-making at worst.

Before a child, leaving for, say, a party was: grab keys, go. The only things you had to check were: cell phone? check. Underwear not showing? check. Sometimes you'd leave off the 2nd one.

Now it's: Cell phone? check. Charged? check. Diaper bag? check. Diaper bag stocked with diapers, wipes, and change of clothes in case of poop explosion? check. Carrier and/or stroller? check. Was he fed and/or do we have plans for when he needs to eat?


But we do it. I'm proud of what we do, where we go. We've been to visit my grandmother about four times since she's gotten here. Go to Target. That's a full afternoon plan. Whoo-hoo! And I've spent a lot of afternoons at my parents' new house. I'm proud we get out of the house. I don't aim big, but I hit what I aim at.

The summer is half over, and this has been the slowest, most mildly paced summer I've ever had, and yet I've gotten to the halfway point faster than I ever thought possible. I'm doing my best not to think about August and the return to responsibility.

That has to be the best part of this all--I am only responsible for our little world right now, the three of us. It's a vacation--a mental one. (Given our finances--that's the only kind of vacation we'll be able to afford. For a very long time. Hello, mental beaches! Hey, virtual ski slopes!) In five weeks, we get to learn a new balancing act, which should be interesting.

Until then--I may try to start instituting walks into my day. I have big plans. Huge. And as long as I stay in th emoment--I'm feeling great about it.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Not the best-thought-out-plan ever.

Went to Gartner's today. Today, the day before the Fourth of July, the King of All Grilling Holidays.

Maybe the folks hanging out outside should have been my first clue.

Inside, I took my number: 14.

Then I hear, "Now helping 45. Last call for 45."

And they don't count down.

It only took about an hour and a half to pick up some pork and beef products.

Then I picked up my brother, sister-in-law, and their cutie-pie baby to go to Costco. On the day before the Fourth of July, the King of All Picknicking Holidays.

I'm a slow fucking learner, folks.