Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Higher Power

I have proof that there is a higher power.

Yesterday, I returned home from work at 5 to find my almost-comatose husband on the couch muttering something about a fever while my 2 year-old ran circles around him, giddy with freedom. It became quickly apparently that Jamie had to get to bed, immediately. I groaned inwardly (and realistically, I probably groaned outwardly too). I have only known the love of my life to be sick (REALLY sick), twice since 1996; had we not lived through 2 years with a child together, I would not have known the man could operate a thermometer.

I will NEVER leave my husband. If any of you doubted that, rest assured that I do NOT intend to parent alone. Not on purpose. Not if I have anything to do with it. Duncan and I survived cooking and feeding him dinner, navigating bath time (barely), and reading stories accompanied by one point, the three-tiered basket of produce collapsed in the kitchen. Duncan ate grape tomatoes off the dirty floor and laughed hysterically while he took a huge bite out of a plum tomato, all while I attempted to clean smashed avocado and sweet potato from the floor. But my night had just begun. Quickly followed the dish washing and a trip out for sick food. I listened with one ear to the numbers falling out of my husband's mouth: "100.7;" "101;" "101.2." Finally, at 9 we had a quick dinner (jello, soup, and frozen fruit for him; microwave Hot Pockets and Triscuits for me), and I got ready for bed. During the quiet moments while I brushed my teeth, I dared to think the night had not been as bad as I expected.

I crawled into bed, and slowly the numbers began to acquire meaning. While I was running through our evening routine, my husband, who had taken Tylenol, Motrin, and Aleve between 3:30 and 9:00, had been frying in bed. My stoic husband, who never gets sick, never complains, and never worries about anything, uttered these words: "I'm starting to get scared." The number 102 began to hold meaning for me (I neglected to hear the "point 6" appended to it). We researched how hot you have to get before worrying about the emergency room, and I asked him if he would feel better if he called the emergency room. He said "I'd feel better if I WENT to the emergency room. Is there anyone we can call to take care of Duncan?"

Grandpa arrived at around 10:45; we checked in to the emergency room at around 11:00. Long story short, the nurse and on-call doctor spent 3 hours taking two throat cultures and a blood sample and getting Jamie's temperature back to normal. So far, the flu test was negative, the rapid strep was negative (though it's on its way for a 3 day culture, whatever that means), and then they sent out a Lyme test for that pesky critter we picked up on the Rail Trail two weeks ago. It could just be a random virus.

I was thankful that my husband was not frying his brain, but the thought of surviving a full day of work AND ANOTHER NIGHT LIKE LAST NIGHT on 3 1/2 of sleep made me physically ill (though it might have been the three cups of coffee that made me physically ill). I actually put off going to pick up Duncan this afternoon because I didn't want to see what awaited me at home.

This is my proof that there is a higher power. Jamie still has a wicked sore throat, but he hasn't had any fever all day. He felt well enough to watch Duncan while I cooked dinner and then managed the bath. I have had time to eat food with nutrition, iron my clothes for tomorrow, and write about the everyday excitements of domestic life. The evening's hero remains Grandpa, who drove 45 minutes to sit with Duncan at 11 p.m. and headed home at 2 a.m. I don't want to have another night like last night for a long time, but it's nice to know you can weather a little storm, get up the next day, and appreciate all that you usually take for granted. A few more numbers for my unusually digit-heavy blog...98.6. Thank Mr./Mrs. Higher Power for the lovely, uneventful day that was today.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

A Room of One's Own

I'm a little envious of Duncan's travel tent. I've been struggling lately with some identity issues. I love my little nuclear family passionately, but I'm trying to come to grips with my lack of free time. I feel sometimes like I don't have time to engage in any activities that are just for me. That's one reason I started this blog; it gave me the opportunity to carve out time for an activity that is all mine. Another thing I'm struggling with is my complete lack of privacy and personal space. I'm thankful to have the biggest closet in the house, but I even have to share a corner of that with Jamie. I wish that I could set up a little tent, crawl into it, and have one space all to myself. In the meantime, in Marcie's words, I'll just draw a bubble of personal space around me (and take a nap!)

Colin James Mihill

This weekend, we're in visiting Albany, New York, to celebrate my nephew Colin's birthday. We began the day at the Children's Museum of Science and Technology in East Greenbush. We saw snakes and lizards and turtles and owls. Colin saw a great show in the Planetarium, but Duncan was too tired and needed a nap. We went back to Nana and Poppy's house after lunch and played outside. The day started out drizzly and cold, but while we were in the museum the sun came out. It turned into a beautiful, balmy day, just perfect for playing outside on the swings and slides. Poppy made a nice dinner, and we had a Power Rangers cake and opened presents. It was a good day to be 5.

Dear Colin,

Wow! You are 5! It was pretty exciting when you were born. You were the first grandchild so we all waited anxiously for you for nine months. Then, you were two weeks late. Then, even though the doctors wanted you to come out into the world, you flat out refused. Finally, they went in to get you. Even though I wasn't there, I heard all about what was going on from Nana on the phone. We were pretty thankful that you were finally here! Uncle Jamie and I came to visit you in the hospital just two days after you were born. You seemed so tiny even though you were actually pretty big. I could have held you for hours. You just lay there quietly and held on to my finger. I came to visit you a lot that first year because you changed so much so fast! I could hardly keep up with you.

Now you are a Big Boy! You know so much about the world. You know all about the solar system and comets, and armadillos, and kinds of rocks, and how to count. You can read! You love to build things. You like all kinds of vehicles. You love science and nature, and you like to draw. You love Star Wars and Power Rangers and all kinds of things I don't even now about yet. You're almost ready to go to school. You are working hard to be a good cousin to Duncan even though he makes you crazy sometimes. You're my only nephew...and you're very special. I love you lots! Enjoy the ride from 5 to 6, Little Bear.


Auntie Theresa

Fates 1, Theresa 0

Duncan did a fabulous job in his travel tent last night. He woke up around 2, unfamiliar with his surroundings, and needed some help going back to sleep. I, on the other hand, was still awake at 2:00. I don't know why I couldn't sleep. It could have been the fates; it could have been that I hadn't readjusted the sleep number bed; most likely, it was the Sudafed I took at 4 pm for the brain-exploding sinus headache I had yesterday. I wonder when I will ever learn that Sudafed has that effect on me. I pretty much need to take it before lunch or not at all. While I was lying awake, I thought a LOT about topics I wanted to write about so hopefully I can write about something more interesting than sleep, or its lacking.

Friday, April 25, 2008


In my lunch box of lovely sounding words, the kind that you can sniff, roll around in your mouth, and pour smoothly into your very being, somnolent is among my favorite. It is such a lazy, dozy, round, liquid word.

I shouldn't write this post yet; it is tempting the fates. Today is Friday, April 25th. Last Friday was the last night that a 33" tall person walked into my room in the middle of the night. It's been over a week since either of us had to get up with him or listen to him cry himself back to sleep or put him back in bed after he fell out. The actual BED-TIME is still a little rocky, but the gate is effective. Duncan still gets out of bed and stands at the gate to express his disapproval; however, it's more of a political move at this point. It's not a "how can you do this to me you're so mean" cry; it's a "why can I not get my way" cry. It also seems to have a half life. We started with the hour of crying, which decreased to 30 minutes in the same day, which decreased to 15 the following day. One night it only took 5 minutes, but that was the night I was FOOL (very ugly word) enough to take this photograph, which brought Duncan back to the gate for ANOTHER 15 minutes. Fool.

I am tempting the fates because we're at Nana and Poppy's house. We're trying Duncan's travel tent for the first time. He has played in it, but we haven't tried sleeping in it for about a year. He is actually asleep in it at this moment; we'll see if he stays there. We're also sleeping in the same room with him, which we have not attempted for a while. I'm crossing my fingers.

I am genuinely hoping that my next post will be about something other than sleep because, frankly, I grow weary of myself. We may have successfully survived our latest month of sleep perdition (I'm not sure if I can publish the h e double hockey sticks word). Night night, sleep tight. Don't let the love bugs bite. Sweet dreams!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Barbarians at the Gate

It is official; Jamie and I are the Meanest Parents in the Whole Wide World. I remember bestowing that title on my own parents, thinking at the time that they had it wrapped up for eternity. If you've been following this post (and since there are about 8 of you, I think, checking in at various times), you will be aware that our experiences with the Big Boy Bed began relatively well and then deteriorated precipitously. Getting up in the middle of the night and walking Duncan back to his bed has not been a huge deal. There are even many nights now that he stays in bed. No, the new development is his gleeful refusal to stay in bed for naps and bedtime. It took about a month for him to realize that HE DOESN'T HAVE TO GO TO BED. It used to happen every couple of nights, but last week we experienced several, consecutive, torturous nights of chasing him back to his room repeatedly from 7:30 until 8:30 and even sitting with him in the dark, physically preventing him from leaving the bed. Our one hour of free time shrank to almost nothing. Through the miasma that has become our evening hours, we were forced to conceive of a plot so nefarious that it puts even Ferber to shame. We gated his room. Sunday afternoon, he stood at the door and shook the gate, screaming, crying, and imploring all the while, for almost an hour before he fell limply asleep in the doorway. It was miserable. Sunday night, he shook the bars for about half an hour before I escorted him back to his bed, where he quickly fell asleep. I'm too cautious to perceive this as progress just yet. We'll see what this evening brings. On the other hand, we have all had three solid nights of sleep where NO ONE wandered around in the night. So, we are the Meanest Parents in the Whole Wide World, but we are more well rested than we had been, which makes us a lot more pleasant to be around.

(For those activists among you who are worried about the safety issues, we remove the gate as soon as he's asleep in case the monsters try to chase him. The only place he can get to in the middle of the night is our room.)

Friday, April 18, 2008

Night Moves

Transcript from Duncan's monitor as he uploads (downloads?) his day before going to sleep:

"Mama. Mama. A la. A la. I U. Oh oo oh. Ha ha! HAAAAA! Ooh ooh unh. Huh. Hi Daddy. Hi Daddy. Hi Daddy. Hi Daddy. Hi Daddy. Hey Duncan's (indecipherable). Hi Nina. Oo an a boot. AA OO. Mayna mayna...babba boat. Minna mon. Oh uh on. NAH. AANh. No. Bot toh. Up high. Hi Daddy. Hi Daddy. Hi Daddy. Hi Daddy. HIII Daddy. Unh unh unh unh unh unh unh unh unh unh unh. WAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! No ow. Are. On. On. (Loud shrieking and crying, and it's now 8:17. Don't mind me as I log off now. One of life's great paradoxes...overtired child can't sleep...)

Hearing Voices

Joan of Arc did it; Socrates did it; even William Blake did it, but he voices I hear are not so much voices in my head as they are voices on a page. As I've been writing more over the last couple of years, I discovered that the voice in which I write is not my everyday voice. It began with the transition to e-mail, which allowed me to communicate in writing rather than through individual contact. I'm an introvert, and any communication I can accomplish without actually interfacing with a human is generally more comfortable for me. As I wrote in other formats (wayward journals that disappeared as quickly as they were begun, a book I still dream of writing), I came to realize the voice in my writing belongs to a woman who is unfamiliar to me. She is much more self-assured than I am; she says what she means; she is confident; she is unafraid; she often has a better vocabulary (depending on how many times she was awoken during the night by a 33" tall toddler-boy); she enjoys the semi-colon. She can be witty, forthcoming, and self-reflective, creative, empathetic, and clever. I don't know about you (but this isn't about you now, is it?), but I don't see these qualities in the me that is me. One of the reasons my enjoyment with writing is growing is that I LIKE that voice. I like HER better than the me that I know so well. I enjoy spending time with her, and I look forward to hearing what she has to say. I'm hoping that if I spend enough time with her, she'll become more a part of my daily life. In the meantime, you can check back here regularly to see what she's thinking about. If you could just get these deep thoughts, descriptions of Duncan's life, and ruminations on my knitting from me, then you wouldn't have a reason to read; regardless of what else the me's who are me are plotting, they're ALL about encouraging people to read. I'll see you back here.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


For the life of me, I could not figure out how I got toothpaste on the crotch of my pants. Then I remembered that I live with a toddler, about 33" tall, who brushes his own teeth in the morning right before he says goodbye to me:-)

Monday, April 14, 2008


So I picked up Duncan from daycare at 4:00, only to discover he had not napped at all. I should have known. With Duncan, sleep is like the Matthew effect; the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer. He will probably sleep poorly tonight, nap poorly tomorrow, yadda yadda yadda until eventually he becomes so tired that he can't go on. He fell asleep in the car 15 minutes away from home, and I didn't trust myself to drive around in my tired state so we sat in the driveway until I could say he had napped for 30 minutes. Then he cried pretty continually until dinner, picked and chose his way through some food, behaved like a banshee on the potty, refused to have his hair rinsed in the tub, and deigned to have a few stories read to him. He went enthusiastically to his room, where he promptly got up two times within minutes. Jamie's sitting with him now to keep him from getting out of bed, and yes, there is even more whining and crying...something particularly painful that sounds like "nyah nyah, unh, unh." So when you look at the gorgeous Baby Gap picture from yesterday, remember that all silver linings have some cloud. Roger and Marcie - it gets better, but it can always come back to get you.


It was a restless night in our house. Duncan fell out of bed once, and after he was tucked back in, he proceeded to spend the better part of the night whining/moaning/crying/talking. I got up at least 3 times to check up on him, and he was fast asleep each time. Once his feet were threaded through the bars, up against the wall. Once his face was smashed into the side rail, like a prisoner. Sometime toward morning he got up and wandered into our bedroom before Jamie ushered him right back to his. Sometimes, I feel like he'll never sleep straight through the night again like he used to. We still have some good nights; Saturday night he didn't make a peep between 7:30 p.m. and 6:30 a.m. I guess the sleep deprived nights are more memorable. It's ironic as I watch Marcie and Roger going through their own sleeping issues with Ben and keep saying "It gets better." I guess better is relative. When you're child had been sleeping like a champ and then stops, it's hard to remember that it's still better than nightly feedings every two or three hours. Wish us luck tonight.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

My brother-in-law Jason is getting married in August, and we're all very excited. The only hitch is that he's getting married in Ohio, and I travel with a toddler. Originally, we were pretty certain that we would drive. Jamie and I travel fairly well together, and we enjoy long car trips. I felt fairly certain that we could entertain Duncan in the car by purchasing a DVD player and making lots of pit stops. But then, the Terrible Two's kicked in, and we really had to consider whether saving a little money was worth four days in a car with a toddler who likes to say "NO!" John and Melissa actually crunched the numbers; considering the price of gas (which is supposed to achieve a record high this summer...can it go any higher?) as well as two additional nights in a motel, they would save an amount of money about equal to one plane fare. We didn't crunch numbers; eventually, we made our decision based on gut instinct. We found plane tickets under $300 and jumped on them. I still don't know if the hassle of getting Duncan and his accoutrements through security will be worth it, but I'll let you all know. The flight is less than 2 hours; the drive is about 4 days. Why were we second guessing? I'm sure Duncan will be really excited by his first plane trip, and we will ultimately be glad that we spent our George W. Bush economical incentive check on plane tickets, when I adamantly REFUSED to spend it at all. In the meantime, Duncan has a special role in the wedding. Anna is calling him "The Ring Man," so here is a shot of him in his first suit (sans tie; we've since bought two; you try finding a tie for a, just try). I think that for the 5 minutes we can keep it on him, he's going to be pretty darn cute.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Light at the End of the Tunnel

This is a knitting post so those of you who are not so inclined, feel free to ignore it quietly and stop by again in a day or so.  I've made encouraging progress on the unidentified, sage-green, organic cotton garment...I've finished the body!  Now, only the sleeves and hood remain!  I haven't photographed it yet so I'll upload a picture later.  For the time being, here's a photo of the other project I'm working on.  It's a good project for when I can't concentrate, but it's taking FOREVER. I'm just beginning to imagine sewing in all the ends, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.  Hopefully, I'll have time to write more this weekend and also post more pictures of that gorgeous child of mine.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


When Duncan first began talking, we were excited that he quickly added "Dada" and "Mama" to his limited lexicon.  Now, he has more words than we can count, and almost every day he says something I've never heard him say before.  Recently, he seemed to know "ten," where previously his number system and numerical vocabulary were binary:  "two," and "three."  On Sunday, he suddenly knew "paper towel."  Listening to him talk to Jamie during our recent vacation, I realized that he has made the complete transition to "Daddy" while I remain "Mama."  I was bemoaning Duncan's inability to upgrade me to Version 2.1's "Mommy" when Jamie reminded me that we stopped correcting Duncan's "Mama" since I seemed to like it.  I mulled over this observation for a while (having the time to do that kind of thing over vacation) and decided that our instincts feel right to me.  Although I sort of feel that a two year old should be able to say "Mommy," I am just fine being "Mama."  "Mama" is a delicate, wispy umbilical cord that still connects me to the one year old boy, uncertain on his feet, a novice speaker, awestruck by his upright stance, and totally in love with his mother.

Friday, April 4, 2008


In a quick ode to poetry month, here are some words that appeal to me today:


Thursday, April 3, 2008

Clean Bill of Health

Duncan had his annual physical today.  We spent the early part of the morning practicing Dr. Gray-Clarke's name, and she was very excited to hear him say it!  He's in great health all around.  He has plumped out a little and is now in the 40%ile for height (33 inches) and the 50%ile for weight (26 pounds 4 ounces).  His head remains well endowed with ample space for brains (90%ile).  His eardrums are gorgeous (thank goodness).  She was thrilled with his potty training progress, his apparent cognitive and language skills, and his gross motor skills.  She tried to stump him and couldn't find too many words, body parts, or animal sounds he didn't know.  Neck - now that's a weird one - it doesn't come up much at home.  It doesn't do much except hold up his sizable head so I guess it's not a hot topic of debate.  It's interesting that he came up with at least two words I didn't know that he knew (pen and clock); about once a day I discover he knows a word I didn't know about, but I guess that's to be expected when he spends 8 hours a day with other people.  Still no fresh strawberries - he had an allergic reaction two weeks ago to a fruit juice mix.  I'd rather deny him than rush him to the E.R.!  He spent much of our visit showing off how well he can flip the light switch on and off while chanting "On, Off."  No shots today, but he should have a lead test since we moved to a house whose history we don't know.  All in all, it was a successful visit!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

A Person's a Person, No Matter How Small

All ethical debates aside (this is not THAT kind of entry), when does a baby become a person? Sure I honestly believe that a fetus in the womb is a person, but I guess what I mean is...when does a baby wander into PERSONHOOD in his own right; a person who can communicate his needs, express his emotions, use some words, feed himself, begin to navigate his own world. When do we stop thinking of him as a baby?  For me, it's all about shoes.  Purchasing Duncan's first pair of shoes was an acknowledgment that he had become the kind of little guy who had places to go and things to do, and from that time forward, he would need some kind of garment (hmm, a shoe?) to adorn and protect his feet as he marched forth into the world.  We took him shortly before his first birthday because he was toddling fairly enthusiastically at that point. He spent his birthday party and a few weeks of those early days walking like Frankenstein, lifting the heavy shoes and often tripping over their toes.  

During our recent vacation (see the Overflow entries below), we took Duncan shopping for the kinds of shoes and clothes that are worn by two year olds (i.e., size 2T since he had outgrown his 18-24 month old clothes; size 6 1/2 shoe, which is annoying because who knows how quickly he'll need a 7).  It was an all day affair with compulsive lists and a budget, The Children's Place, Gymboree, Old Navy, and Stride Rite.  Jamie and I had fun (shoppers that we are), and Duncan tolerated us until lunch time and then became vaguely dismissive.  We went home, washed and folded all his new clothes, organized them in his dresser, and commenced rolling up sleeves and cuffs (because, of course the 2T's are as much too big as the 18-24's are small).  It was probably not that exciting to anyone but Jamie and me (thanks for bearing with me here).
But here's the thing...we did a lot of other things during vacation (see birthday entries).  We saw a lot of people, went for walks, played on the playground, read a lot of books, did some art work, played with PlayFoam.  On Monday, Duncan went back to daycare, and Denise exclaimed "Duncan!  Where have you been?"  He looked down, remarked "SHOES!," and picked up his feet to show them off.  He will always be my baby, but for him, the shoes are a big boy statement.