Friday, October 19, 2007

Corn Chips

Piggy's feet smell like corn chips.

I never verbalized that before, really, until my friend Intern Emily and I were talking about it one day. I confessed my love for sniffing Piggy's feet. They stink and yet it's a sweet stink, like how your husband's sweat can smell good to you. Or....not...maybe. I dunno how YOUR husband's sweat smells.

So anyhow, I confessed my love for sniffing her stinky-sweet tootsers, and was trying to explain WHY I so love those footers, but couldn't. The truth was, I knew they smelled like corn chips, but no one wants to be the weirdo who says that out loud, right? You start talking about how you like your dog's corn chip toes and people will wonder if you and said dog have some sort of inapprpriate or at least highly co-dependent relationship.

Fortunately for me, Emily knew. She asked me, 'Do they smell like corn chips?' And this was another reason, on top of the belief that Bashas' is the best grocery chain and McDonald's works some magic that makes their Diet Coke infinitely superior to all other Diet Cokes, why Emily and I were meant to be friends.

So, yeah...I sniff my dog's feet, and enjoy their 'chippy' quality. Deal with it.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Into the Woods

5 points if you can name that reference.
Anyhow, this past week Darrick was on fall break from teaching. Before I delve into the real point of this post (which involves a baby, a forest, a tent, and lots of s'mores), allow me to digress. Can I just say we never had fall break growing up? Kids these days are pansies. And I? Well I am apparently getting older by the second, as evidenced by my use of the phrase 'kids these days'. Please hold while I grab my bi-focals.....

Ok, so. Darrick was on fall break and itching to get out of town. We wanted to head to NY to visit his mom, but it turns out we are po', and flying to NY would be more money than we could afford at this juncture. So instead we opted to go camping, which happens to be one of our MOST favorite activities.
You know....when you get pregnant everyone and their brother will lament on and on about how EVERYTHING changes when you have a baby. And it does, but Darrick and I have always told ourselves we would continue to do the things we love. I mean, a baby is just a mini-person, not some sort of doll that cannot be removed from its case, right? So when Darrick suggested a 3 day weekend at the Mogollon Rim, I was game.

I'll title this section: "What You Should Know About the Mogollon Rim: The Abbreviated Version". The Mogollon Rim is north of Payson and Strawberry, off Highway 87. It's a beautiful place to camp and hike, and if you are lucky and plan well, you can find the most out-of-this-world views in an area that's far enough out to discourage most people from trying to camp near you. The spot we always camp in also happens to be at the end of a long dirt road with huge ruts and bumps and rocks and other off-road-like features, so even though we once made the trek in my 1996 Geo Metro, it's not advisable to do so. One really needs a truck to make it there, but once you've claimed this spot, you will be rewarded morning, noon, and night. For is the sunset we witnessed on Friday night from 'our spot'.

Ok, so back to camping. One thing I never really understood pre-baby was just how many accessories one needs to take when traveling with a kid. We borrowed my mom's truck, and by the time we were packed, in addition to clothes, diapers, and wipes, we had packed the following for Luca: a play mat, a bassinet basket, 4 blankets, 6 hats, her stroller, a Baby Bjorn, and a bouncy seat. For one 12 pound baby. If I had to place a bet, it would be that her 'things' outweighed her four-fold. But we got it all packed up, in addition to a tent, some chairs, our clothes, bedding, a stove, food, etc., and headed out on the road.

We get to the rim, and 'our' spot is open. We set up camp and Darrick starts making dinner (asparagus, yellow pepper, and chicken on the stove, potatoes over the fire) and I get Luca set up and warm. It's SO cold that Luca is only happy in the tent (did I mention we are RIGHT on the rim...which means lots of wind?), so I end up in there with her, essentially hiding out, while Darrick tends to the fire. We get her to sleep and make s'mores, and then I run like hell to hide out in the tent more while D polishes off a bottle of wine.

The next day, we decided to take a hike. Only problem is, before we could set out we realized hiking in the woods might be bad for out health this go around. We had the dogs on a tie-out lead attached to a tree by our tent, and suddenly, Ruby raised her hair on her back and started barking at a hunter in full camo and a black ski mask who had made his way about 200 feet from our campsite. Great. Hunters. My mom had warned me it may be elk season, so we decided to stick to the road. We start walking, and it's idyllic. The weather is amazing. The dogs are happy. Luca is squealing and smiling. Heaven on earth.

And then, from between the trees, we see something metal. As we get closer, we spot 2 very rugged off-road vehicles. These things looked straight out of Deer Hunter or something. And standing by them, drinking a Molson Ice, is a hunter is head to toe camel, red just visible above the top of his collar. Ruby sees him and barks, but quickly relaxes when she realizes it's just a man. And what a manly-man he appears to be. We ask if he has caught anything, and he smiles and says 'One.' I look, and seeing no bloody carcass of elk, I ask 'What are you hunting?'.

He holds up a bag......and in it.....a squirrel.

Riiiiiight. Ok then. So much for manly-man.

Anyhow, the rest of our trip was a blast. Luca did very well for her first outdoor adventure. She really loves nature and I'm so looking forward to next summer, when she'll be a walking, talking little toddler playing in the dirt and chasing butterflies.

And now...the pictures. Enjoy.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

R.I.P. Tevas

We had a good....natch, a We traveled Europe together. We walked from Champs Elysses to the Eiffel Tower. We visited the Vatican and hiked hills and mountains, stopping to smell the grapevines and olive trees in Cinque Terre. We ran through rain puddles in Prague and rode the ferry in Austria and the Rhine in Germany. We biked through fields of green to visit the cheese and clog factories of Amsterdam.

You helped me feel comfortable throughout even went with me to the hospital to give birth. You were there with me on camping trips, Circle K runs, dog walks, on the way to finishing my Masters degree, out on the streets giving water to the homeless. You were faithful and kind to me to the bitter end. And so, today, I said goodbye to you in the most fitting of ways. You died on my baby's first camping trip, as I was moving stones out of the path so we could get home safely. You died in service to me.

R.I.P. Tevas. Gone, but never forgotten.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Thanks, Mer!

Luca loves her strawberry onesie.

Crib Notes

We finally did it....we moved Luca to her crib.

For awhile, I had a really good excuse for not moving her. That being: she hated her crib with a passion. I'd managed only to get her sleeping in there one time, for about 4 minutes, before she awoke, realized where she was, and threw a huge fit. She was practically inconsolable. So, choosing to take the easy way out rather than face more sleepless nights, I decided to let her stay in the bassinet until she outgrew it.

She outgrew it.

A few weeks ago, she started waking at night after having slept through the night since she was about 6 weeks old. So one day, I decided to put her in her crib for her nap. 3 blissful hours later, she woke up. Compare this to her average nap time of 20-45 minutes anywhere else, and I was sold.

So, she's sleeping in her crib now. It was hard that first night. I was sad to have her so far away (well, not THAT far since our house is small, but certainly not arm's length away anymore). However, she seems to like it. I think it was her time.

Which leads me to another thought I've been pondering. I did this True Colors training for answer some questions that tell you whether you are Blue, Green, Orange, or Gold. If you care, I'm Blue, then Green, then tied for Orange and Gold. Anyhow....our trainer was talking about how Orange people are impulsive and they follow their hearts and are not afraid. He mentioned that if you give the test to people of all age ranges, the kids in the group are far more likely to be Orange. It makes sense: from the day they are in school, that sense of freedom and adventure is squelched. We tell them to color within the lines, to eat certain foods, to sit quietly in class. So, as we age, we lose our 'Orange' and become more Blue or Green or Gold.

This isn't entirely bad. We can't very well have millions of adults running around saying and doing whatever they want because they never learned how to self-monitor.

However, when he was saying this, all that guilt I had (and moms can ALL relate to the guilt that comes with just about every decision you make about your kid) I had about her sleep habits faded. The guilt over letting her sleep in bed with me. The guilt over napping on the couch with her for 2-3 hours off and on while she nurses. The guilt over not forcing the crib on her or not letting her 'cry it out'. All gone. Why torture myself over these things, when she has the rest of her life to learn to abide by society's time clock?

So what if she didn't sleep in her crib until she was almost 5 months old? So what if I nurse or rock her to sleep every night and most naps? So what if, when she cries, I pick her up and hold her? One day, my little girl will grow up. She'll learn to keep her hands and feet to herself, to not speak without being called on, to color within the lines. And so, for now, I will rejoice in letting her Orange side shine.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Baby Goes Bump

I think every parent can probably relate to this: since the day our sweet little bundle of joy exited my womb and entered this big bad world, I've been waiting for her to fall or be dropped. Not waiting as in "I can't WAIT for this to happen!", but waiting as in, "Am I going to drop her? What if I did? Would she be ok? Would they call Child Protective Services on me? What if she falls off the couch? What if I fall asleep ON the couch with her ON me, and we BOTH fall off the couch?"....and so on and so forth. The thing is, you KNOW when you bring home that sweet, precious new life that the poor thing is bound for the floor. You just don't know when, why, or how.

So you wait.

And then, one day it happens. And so, here is how it happened for us.

I was getting on the freeway, in rush hour, to drive home from work. I'm on the phone with my friend Meredyth, kvetching about health insurance costs (sure sign you're getting old....), when my other line rings. I pick it up, and hear my sweet husband and the baby crying in the background. I ask "Is she having a bad day?" (he picks her up at daycare on his way home). What I hear sounds something like, "Baby...crying...has a boo boo...don't know what to do." (Please pause here for a moment to appreciate the sweet mental image that is my 6'5", 280 pound husband saying "boo boo"....)

I stopped breathing. I swear I did. I had to register her cry. Was this a "My finger got pinched and I'm mad!" cry? Nope, not that. Maybe a "Daddy accidently scratched me." cry? No, way too manic for that.

This was it. This was THE cry. THE cry that I knew could only accompany either THE drop or THE fall.

"Honey, tell me what happened?" I say tentatively. I am not really wanting to know.

"She fell. She hit her head. She is crying (well, duh, love)."

"Ok," I say, trying my best to sound composed, "Call the pediatrician. Or go to the E.R. I am going to hang up while you make a phone call, and you are going to call me back and tell me where you end up taking her, ok?"

"Ok." Click.

So, I switch back over to Meredyth, and the calm dissolves into a fit of sorts. You know the kind where the person on the other end of the line is vaguely aware that you are sputtering and choking, and yet NOT clear about whether this is a laugh or a cry.

"Mere, I need you to calm me down. I need you to calm me down so I can drive home." I say. Except, remember the sputter fit previously mentioned? So it comes out something like, "MERE! I *SOB* needchooto *SOB* medow *SOB*. Calmedow *SOB* so I drive ho *SOB*!"

Fortunately, Mere is a smart girl. So smart, that had her own dad not dropped HER on HER head, we're sure she'd have cured cancer by now. She decodes my sputter fit, and asks what happened. I tell her, and then promptly abandon her to switch back over when Darrick calls me back.

This time he wants to know what the Pediatrician's # is. Like I know while in the midst of panic. I tell him where to find it, and just then my phone beeps.....because my battery is almost dead. I order him to call me back as SOON as he knows what's going on.....

What feels like 45 minutes later, he calls back. He says she's stopped crying, and sputter fit girl becomes wild mom trapped in rush hour traffic while her baby NEEDS her miles and miles away. I order him to call the Dr or go to the E.R. I care not if she is in perfect health. I must have it in writing from someone with an M and D after their name. And then I ask: "By the way....what happened?"

"She was in her car seat. On the kitchen table. And she fell onto the floor."

Furious mental calculation: table (T) height is 2.5 feet, carseat (C) adds about.5 feet and the floor (F) is tile.

T + C + F = one hell of a lot of bad possibilities.

And one hell of a spastic mom.

He hangs up, under strict order to take her somewhere - ANYWHERE - where someone with a medical license can assure that she still has a future as a quantum physicist.

And cell phone battery dies.

And now I am stuck in traffic on a Tuesday afternoon with my baby needing me at home with who know what kind of permanent injury and no cell phone.

I race as fast as one can race during rush hour in a mini van, and get home. The garage door goes up and...NO CAR!

I am now convinced that something horrible is wrong. My child will be disfigured!

I run inside (in pointy-toe heels, natch!), frantically plug my cell into the charger and try to call Darrick. My phone shuts off. I power it on and try to dial. It powers off. I freak out and yell at it, "You WILL work you motherf%cker!!!! I pay $80 a month precisely so you WILL WORK WHEN I MOTHERF%CKING NEED YOU TO!!!" And then, adult that I am, I stomp my feet and throw the phone down and run around the house like a madwoman, cursing my husband for not leaving a note.

And suddenly, I hear a beep.....the answering machine! Genius! He left me a message here since he knew my cell was dead. I take the stairs as fast as I can, press the button and curse the automated man who is too slowly giving me the message intro.....and....

It's not him. But it IS our Pediatrician's office asking if we took Luca to the E.R.

The E.motherf%ckingR.

I sprint down the stairs and speed the 3/4 a mile to the E.R., and run in the door, like a mad woman. Like a movie, where the manic mother tears through the door screaming "Where is my BABY?!??!" Except, no scream because I see them right away. She's in the carseat, not facing me.....I brace myself for something, anything. Blood. A giant knot. A broken bone. A lethargic, depressed, limp baby.

I tear into triage, where they are, throw myself on the floor and peer in to see Luca....a purple bump on her forehead and a HUGE grin on her face.

Yes, friends, she was fine. 100% perfeclty fine (the picture below was supposed to be of her bruise and was taken the night she fell...see it by my thumb?). In fact, the only other time she cried all day was when they took her temperature.

Darrick was not as fine. He was sweaty like only a dad who just went through hell could be. And, funny enough, he was SO apologetic to me and SO concerned over whether I would forgive him that the nurse asked if he was babysitting or if he was the Dad.

So, it happened, and it was dramatic and scary and horrible. And yet.....a little part of me is relieved. Now I no longer have to worry when she'll have her first fall and just how hard she can hit salitillo tile and from what height and still be ok (the answers are pretty hard and about 3 feet).

Now I can move on to obsessing over when she will choke on her first penny.


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