Because One Trip Isn't Enough
And we're sort of idiots when it comes to looking at a calendar, we're going to Disneyland tomorrow. Yep, two airplane trips for Val in a week. Only this time, it's a much shorter ride (55 minuets o' fun!) and there's a big comfy hotel bed waiting for us at the end of it.

Even though we're still kinda tired from our last trip, I'm really looking forward to our next visit with the Mouse.

I Must Be 85

Because my back woke me up, it hurt so bad. Despite everything the chiro did yesterday, the pain has returned with a vengance.

Sigh. Finally, Val sleeps through most of the night and I'm up because of my stupid back.

Glad I have this opportunity to catch up my tv and learn that once again, nip/tuck has started to suck.


I Guess We've Made Some Peace

About Alice's horrible death. Because it was 5 years ago today and I didn't even realize until I heard something about George Harrison (he died the same day) on the radio.

I remembered her birthday, though. And that's a much better day all around.

I still miss her like crazy. Always will.

So Much To Share
Lesseee.... Val was a stud on both plane flights back from Ohio. She pretty much had her snooze on the whole way. And for the record, she's about 1.5 tray tables long.

When we arrived home, our fly ride Susan was quite eager to see us. Hello!

My back became ridiculously painful while we were in Ohio and got worse through this morning. I finally went to the chiropractor, who said NO MORE SLEEPING WITH THE WEDGE, since apparently that was throwing the curve of my back in the opposite direction. Oops.

She did every magic trick she had up her sleeve on the affected area and I'm feeling a bit better today. I'll take any improvement at all, because that sucked.

Andrea went on a remote control kick and now our lights and our FRONT DOOR (all caps because it's just that cool, I needed to call that shit out) open/turn on with the press of a mighty magic button.

Val ate bananas last night for the first time. Nope, no taters, just bananas and rice cereal. She enjoyed that and followed up with her first semi-formed poo. Let's potty-train now so we don't have to touch that shit.

And now, for a gratuitous baby photo:


Ew, And Huh?
Somehow DIRT got inside the tubing of my breast pump during our trip. Dirt.

I have no idea how but I'm extremely grateful that I bought 2 sets so there's an extra, brand new, extra-clean set waiting for me.

But ew. And does the TSA *really* have to inspect it every time? Really?



Melinda surprised us at the last minute with Blue Jackets tickets. We rushed through dinner so we could get to the game. I was skeptical, since I've never seen them win in person. Or on TV, for that matter.

But HOLY SHIT! They won 5-3 and our seats were fucking fantastic. The crowd gave a standing ovation for the last minute, since this ended a losing streak.

Val was totally great, switching between staring at this one couple behind us (she seemed to blame them for the noise, whipping around every time it got loud) and chewing on her toys. She seemed to enjoy the game.

Which is awesome, because I sure as hell did.

Thanks again, Melinda. It was fantastic.

Greetings From Ohio

Yesterday was a whirlwind of activity for us. Val decided that the crib she's sleeping in was a big novelty and spent much of the night peeking over the sides at us. Ridiculously cute, even at 2 and 5 and 7 am, but kind of tiring for the moms.

Val and I did a little shopping with my parents while Andrea enjoyed a nice nap. We got a super cute outfit for Val and, sigh, still-huge jeans for me. I ran back to the house to pick Andrea up, then figured hey, I'm pretty sure I screwed up installing the carseat while under duress at the airport. So I read the manual and sure enough, it was wrong. We redid it, then headed over to see Dan and his mom.

Dan was on his way out so we had those 30 seconds in the driveway to introduce Val before heading in for a nice visit.

After that, it was another nice visit with American Family (see link at right). That was a blast. Little M. shared her toys with Val while Val played with toys and watched M. Amber was terrifically funny, we bonded right away and we would totally go back again next time we're here.

I would even suggest that if we lived near her, we'd be friends. I could see M. playing with the girls while Val watched, waiting to join in.

We had a tasty turkey dinner with my folks and dared to run out to the drugstore while Val snoozed on.

That's when all hell broke loose. Val woke up while we were gone and was Pissed, so Pissed that when we got home her little face was all red and her eyes were swollen. It took us a while to settle her down, her little breath coming in gasps until she finally went back to sleep.

I'm pretty sure we all cried a little with her.

She slept better last night, though I managed to screw up my back so once again I hardly slept. Sometimes you just can't win.

But I did have White Castle and it was soooo good. And Val did not have taters.


Okay, That's It

Nobody holds our kid but us and those inside the Circle of Excellence. Why?

Because the well-meaning mother of two waitress at the Waffle House just fed Val fucking mashed potatoes without asking us first.

Hi. She just started solid food A WEEK AGO.

The woman also explained how her kids ate 'taters and gravy at 3 months. Great.

Your kid? Not mine. My kid? Not yours.

And yes, Val totally dug the potatoes. But I would've liked her to get them on our schedule, not Ms. Waffle House's.

So Far, So Good

Val kicked ass on her first flight, a connection in Denver. She slept for the first hour and then was pleasant for the second one. I breastfed with mucho discretion, save for the kinda weird guy on the aisle who craned his neck to see what was going on. Weirdo.

Carrying pumped milk through was no biggie. I had to say how many bottles I had (struttly boldly up to the counter to announce loudly 'this is breast milk.' The pump also got inspected, though a little less thoroughly when I said, again loudly 'that's a breast pump.'

All in all, we're making our way across the land without too much hassle.

Happy Thanksgiving to the three of you!


No Doubt, This Will Make You Mock Me
But pretty much nothing gets me motivated to work like blasting ELO on my iPod.

No, I'm not kidding.


Some Nights You Just Can't Win
Here's how it all went down last night. First, I played an A-Team 1 game at 7:45. I'd been kinda hesitant about some of these games because in my absence the team got faster and I got slower. So I hardly felt like I had much to offer at times.

But last night, I went into it relaxed. I took my own advice (move your feet, keep moving your feet, give the guy in the corner a little room so you can stop him coming out of it) and what do you know? The shit I say while I'm coaching? It does work.

Bouyed by my relative success, we daringly went out for a late dinner after feeding Val some rice cereal at home first.

I think that's where it all started to go to shit.

Val enjoyed her cereal and enjoyed her badass Japanese rice crackers while we were out. Those things beat honkey baby teething biscuits, hands down. Less mess, easier to dissolve and easier for her to hold.

The best part about Val being able to eat those crackers is that we get to eat, too. She munches happily in a high chair, bangs her sippy cup on the table with glee and grins at us all the while.

While we eat our own meals. With 2 hands.

So I think we got greedy, wanting a pre-baby style late night meal last night. When we got home, Val wasn't all that hungry so we put her to bed, then again, greedily stayed up watching TV while she slept.

And then, 45 minutes after I finally went to sleep, Val woke up STARVING. Because, as we knew, rice crackers and rice cereal aren't all that filling in the long run.

Fine, I feed her, then hand her to Andrea before I fall back to sleep with her on the magic feeding pillow in front of me. And then, not 2 hours later I wake up to hear Pat having a seizure. By the time I get out to the kitchen, he's up and around but in that horrible phase where he doesn't recognize everything. Sometimes, when the seizure is particularly bad, this phase involves him biting things to re-aquaint himself.

Yes, I see that this could be Very Bad Around The Baby. Which is why the baby is never unsupervised around the dogs.

So I sit at the kitchen table, the same table that not 5 hours before was the site of much Rice Cereal Glee, trying not to fall asleep at it. Not because it wasn't comfortable. No, at that point, even the back of a donkey would have been a fine place to sleep.

But I couldn't sleep there, because Patrick was still in that confused, biting stage. So I sat there, talking softly to him until finally, he returned to being himself.

Which ushered in the whining phase of his post-seizure life. I gave up and asked Andrea if she could take over The Sitting With Pat. So she headed out and I tried to sleep.

Except that the minute I fell asleep, the very minute I drifted off, Val woke up, hungry again.

If you add it all up, I think I got about 3 hours of sleep. Not in a row. And not all the baby's fault. Though you could blame it on the rice cereal.

Oh My Pat

Just now Patrick had what I'm pretty sure you could call the biggest seizure of his life. When I got out there, it was over but he was in that who-the-hell-are-you phase where he looks right through me and goes back to his pacing.

It took him about 10 minutes to get to the whiny phase. Normally, that happens almost immediately afterwards.

I gave him a doggie valium, then waited at the kitchen table for him, watching to see when his tail would rise to it's usual wagging position again. It seemed like forever until finally, bing! Up it went.

And the whining began. But that means he's on his way back to us.

Andrea's taking her turn with him now, watching tv and ignoring him until he settles down again. He seems to just like having someone there while he sorts himself out.

Oh Pat. I'm so sorry this is your lot in life. We do what we can with medication to make it better, but sometimes better isn't enough. I wish that you could just big my big sweet boy all the time instead of dealing with seizures every so often.

I'm pretty sure if you had one wish, it would be that too.


And There Was The Trying On Of Hats

Why Is It So Hard To Understand?
1. That I want people to have freshly washed hands when touching my baby IMMEDIATELY AFTER PLAYING HOCKEY, a sport where we all wear dirty smell gloves? and

2. Why people also insist on attempting to hold her? I know she's cute, I know she's soft. But if I don't offer her to you, please don't reach for her like she's a very cute, wiggly little watermelon. Use your words, I might say yes.

But, Val has figured out that she has two mommies. And if she's not being held by either of those mommies, she's not too happy. So I'm not too inclined to pass her around, knowing full will that it will make her cry.

Because, I don't want to make my baby cry. Do you?


Well, That Sucked
We started the celebration of Val's 6 month birthday by going to the pediatrician for her checkup. And shots. Horrible shots that make her cry so hard, and yes, that make me cry too.

We also got this month's assvice: she should be eating a lot of solid food, including Cheerios and bananas RIGHT NOW, um, okay, thanks, even though we'd told them last time that we were going to hold off on solids until now, and some good news: they still can't hear her heart murmur without fancy machines.

I think just being at the office makes her nervous because she fusses a ton while we're there. Fine, if she was a fussy kind of kid, but she's by and large a happy girl.

Which is why it sucks so bad that she gets so mad. Hey. That rhymed.

When we got there, the waiting room was packed full o' babies. PACKED. FULL. I thought we'd never get in. But the great thing about having an appointment close to lunchtime is that the entire staff wants to get you in and out so they can eat. So it wan't too long of a wait.

I did have the chance to see parents of new babies walking out with formula samples, then think smugly 'ha, our baby doesn't need those!' Then think a little less of myself for being so smug about our breastfeeding success. Because it seriously could have gone the other way, we could have wound up needing to feed Val formula. I know that.

But I digress.

I'm finding that while I like our doctor, I often feel like I can't get a word in edgewise with her. With our adult doctors, I don't really feel that way. I know docs are busy so I do my best to keep things concise, so it's not like I'm all blathering on and taking up their time. Hrm, I'd better ponder this one for a while.

Anyway, the nitty gritty is this:

- 16 lbs (50th percentile)

- 25 3/4 inches (50th percentile)

Not too shabby. And it means we have a little more time in the Very Pink Carseat than I thought.

After the horrible shots, Val cried and cried until she calmed down enough for me to breastfeed her. She calmed all the way down once she started eating and I was so so so grateful that I was able to calm her that way. She eventually fell asleep and we got to have a quick lunch with Susan and the girls after we left.

We go back in 30 days for her second flu shot. (apparently only wee babies getting a flu shot for the first time need to do this)

Fuck you, shots. You suck for making my baby cry.


Please, Let This Not Be Me
So we're going to Ohio next week. And so, my kid only eats breastmilk for the moment. And so, the TSA won't let me take freezer gel packs on the plane to keep whatever milk I've pumped cold.

Fine, I've done my homework, hedged my bets. I'm planning to bring what I can keep cool via ice that I'll have to buy from the lone restaurant inside security, then breastfeeding Val on the plane. I've bought tank tops that cover just about everything to wear while breastfeeding (mostly because nobody needs to see my stretch marks).

I was just starting to feel okay about the whole thing when I saw this: Woman kicked off plane for breast-feeding.

You have got to be shitting me.

Before I had Val, I would have said, yeah, she should have taken the blanket and draped herself (i.e. her boobie) with it. I've seen people who can breastfeed their kids in public with a blanket over the kid's head, I've heard of that being possible. But then there's Val. Who prefers not to be shrouded while eating, thank you very much.

I do what I can to stay covered. Because even though I've done really well with this whole breastfeeding deal, I remain ridiculously modest.

So I get it. The Public, it does not need to see my boob. And I'll do my best to shelter The Public from my boobs. But give me a fucking break. My kid needs to eat while we're travelling and if the rules don't let me keep her bottles cold enough for our entire trip, WHAT THE HELL ELSE AM I SUPPOSED TO DO? Starve my kid so a The Public doesn't have to see a discreet patch of skin?

Feed her in an airplane bathroom that's not even big enough for me to be in comfortably? Where people take shits?

I can't think of a good way to close this, other than, hey, motherfucker, my kid needs to eat. So look away.


101 Pieces Of Grief
Yesterday, Grandma would have been 101. Now, she was clear that she didn't want to get to 100, that she didn't want Willard Scott to put her picture on the Today show. So she got her wish, she was 99 when she died.

But that doesn't make me miss her any less or wish that her last 5 years weren't the way they were. She went from being independent, living alone with the steady support via regular meals, visits and phone calls of my mom and my uncle who lived in town to being completely dependent on live-in care. Her world went from playing bridge with her friends, going to church, and going to the store to being moved between an armchair, the bathroom and her bed.

I can say for sure that she wouldn't have wanted to go out that way and that she sure as hell didn't deserve it.

But she kept her wits about her, making jokes until the very end. Her spirits stayed high, even when her body was failing her. She will always have my respect for so many things, including the way she handled herself in the face of great indignity.

But I'm lucky. I didn't just know her then. I had 27 years with her while she was healthy. What a gift those years were to me, and I think, to her as well.

I think the excitement of us trying to get pregnant, then getting pregnant right after she died gave me a year of denial about how very much my heart hurts without her in it.

Now that the flow of hormones has diminished and my heart can see just past the round shape of Val's wee head, I find that the out of the corner of my eyes come tears when I'm least expecting them.

When I'm alone in my car. When I'm feeding Val. When something, anything, reminds me of her.

I don't have dreams about her, she doesn't seem to visit when I'm asleep. This saddens me, like she's left me here all alone. Even though I'm very much not alone and even without Grandma around, my life is rich, so rich. Richer, I think some days, than I deserve.

But every now and then I hear her voice from far away. Yesterday while we were in church, I had to sneak to the back to change Val's diaper. Since it was Grandma's birthday, I couldn't help but think of her all during mass. So there I was, trying to put a clean diaper on my little escape artist. I said to myself, I bet she would have loved you, Val.

And I swear to you, I heard Grandma saying "I do."

Happy birthday, Grandma. You're never far from my thoughts and you're always right there in my heart.

And, Yeah
Val woke up in the pool parking lot and we were able to have ourselves a swim. Complete with the requisite older child touching her and me trying to keep my cool about that.

Biggest, Lamest, Weirdest
In that order.

Biggest. Saturday morning I was trolling craig's list for excellent used baby items while feeding Val and saw someone had listed two of the baby items we'd been eyeing for some time without actually getting off our asses to purchase.

Because, apparently, we were waiting for Marvin to list them on CL. He wanted us to come over right away to get them so we roused the wee one and headed over. While I was inside (not being murdered or harmed) Andrea waited in the car with Val.

Who felt the time was right to have the Messiest Shit Of Her Entire Life.

This sent us into a panic because somehow (dog-related) the little thingie o' wipes I keep in Val's diaper bag was missing.

Shit. No, really. High Volume of Shit.

Then I remembered. In our 'pool bag' aka the gigantic shoulder bag I got to take to the pool and Other Places, I'd left a big ole' thing o' wipes. Thank The Jesus. Because in the end, we needed 13 of the things (no shit) and I'm not sure I'll be able to save Val's super cute year of the dog onesie.


In my quest to possibly replace my beloved Betty, we headed down to el Auto Row to see what I could see. We'd seen an ad for the renovated Mitsubishi Outlander and I thought, hmm, maybe this time around it'll be cool. But no, it's still lame.

So we moved on to the Mazda dealer. For the record, it is NOT the one where we bought Betty.

I had intended to give a blow-by-blow summary of that experience but I think I'd rather not remember it all. So I'll summarize: I looked at the Mazdaspeed 3, which looks pretty badass for a car that's not Betty. I drove it. But not too far since they 'didn't want to put too many miles on it'. And when I tried to get an answer about how much it would cost me to get out of my lease, that answer came out to the same $2500 that I'm convinced you pay every time you walk into to car dealer. This time, they found their $2500 between some bullshit dealer markup and part of my remaining lease payments.

In the end the only offer they made was to buy the thing outright for like a zillion dollars a month. With NO option to haggle on the price. Right. Like I'd ever pay more than the sticker price for anything.

So we left, sans new car and with Bad Taste in my mouth about Almaden Mazda.

During yesterday's R4 (aka M1, for those who might be confused about which team I'm on) game, the puck flew through the air and I reached out to bat it out of the air. This is something I rarely pull off, usually it just soars by me and I shake my head, then go get it.

Only this time, it managed to hit the very tip of my finger hard enough to split it open and cause some really distracting pain that in turn, inspired me to throw the puck as far away from me as I could (begone, ye fucker!) and then, inspired the refs to give me a Delay Of Game call for that.

Ow. And really? A penalty for *that*?

And that, folks is my weekend in three words.


It Doesn't Always Go The Way You Intended

So we got up, gathered all of our swimming stuff and took Val to the magic indoor pool. Which is all terrific, except that she fell asleep on the way here.

Now we're just sitting in the parking lot, waiting to see if she'll wake up.


I Can Almost See It
Last night, as Val lay sprawled across my belly eating contentedly, I looked down to admire her. I touched her soft hair that's growing back in nicely, I ran my finger along those chubby cheeks. I held her little hand (not just so it wouldn't pinch me, a recent breastfeeding development that isn't all that great).

And in that instant, I could almost see the future. I could see her as a 2 year old, pushing all my buttons and discovering the world anew every day. And somehow, I blinked and she was a teenager, complete with bad haircuts and all that angst and of course with the requisite need to tell me the ways in which I'd done her wrong.

I almost cried, thinking that one day we won't be her whole world the way we are now.

But I didn't. I just leaned forward, inhaled her sweet baby smell and vowed, as I've done a thousand times since she was born, to treasure every moment with her.

I so hope that when she's a teenager and in that horrid 'I hate my parents' phase, I can point her here, so she can see how very much she was wanted, planned for. And how very goddamn much we're in love with her.

I got to have lunch with Andrea and Val today. It was so ridiculously good to see them during the day, I can't put words on it.

Except, of course, awesome.


You Knew This Would Happen
But I thank you kindly for not saying it anyway.

My car is too small for our new life with Val.

It's also, well, too fast for my lead foot (need proof? $372.50 in a traffic ticket ought to be enough. Note that I did NOT say 'speeding'. I said traffic because it was multiple offenses. Never in my life have I been busted for more than one thing at a time. Never.).

So I'm thinking seriously about trading her in early. This is why we got a 2 year lease, in case we got pregnant and in case that kid and her accessories needed extra room. Or, really, just a reasonable amount of room.

And there was much sighing. I really did look hot in this car.

Now that I've pretty much decided, I sort of want to just get it over with. There may be a sudden car purchase coming soon...


Was It This Year?
I think it was this year that bubbles made for me the following Fantastic Birthday Gift: happy birthday, mario!

Which, at this moment, is making me laugh until I cry. Thanks, man.

Val Speaks

Dear readers, I am thrilled to give you Val's first blog post:

<........    EWCQ                     5HN`M      jhnm     m-\z2q    \

And we said she'd never wear pink

And we said she'd never wear pink
Originally uploaded by liz2d2.

Yeah, well. We said a lot of things before she arrived.

What we didn't know was how cute we'd find her or how ridiculously crazy we'd be about her.


Most Of The Time
I'm getting adjusted to being here at work and away from Val.

But sometimes, I think about her and I literally stop breathing from missing her so much.

During those times, it takes every ounce of strength I can muster to just get back to work and stop thinking about her.

Christmas, It Is Coming

Originally uploaded by gadgetgrrl.

Let Val be the first to wish you a happy ho, ho, ho!


Quick Turnaround
Thanks to the miracle of digestion, my part of our team lunch has already left the building.

Halloween Recap
Well, it was a day that we all learned a lot. I think the most notable lesson was the universal truth that 2 year olds and a lot of sugar are, in the end, not friends. I also learned that I should always use the red-eye reduction on my camera:

We also learned that Val had a pretty short tolerance for wearing her costume.

But the girls, they were ridiculously cute.

And I have to say that Val was too:

The girls and Val came over to my work for trick or treating there, which was totally cute. And safe. Or so I thought, except that a bomb exploded there not 2 hours after we all left.

That, I'm not quite ready to process or discuss, having all of us here so close to that event. So I'll just leave you with a really fun moment at the office with them:


Snow Day
In the now almost 3 years I've been at my current job, I've been extremely reluctant to share where I work. I suppose for fear of getting Dooced, even though, I try to only speak in generalities that convey the situation without revealing anything too specific.

Now that I'm thinking about it, I try to blog that way about just about everything. But I digress.

I've never said where I work because I'd never had a day away from the office due to a bomb exploding there. But that happened last night.

Nobody was hurt but that's almost not the point. Now I'll be forever looking over my shoulder at work, at a place where we're all supposed to feel safe. At least if you have a job like mine, that's the sort of basic premise.

We were all told to work from home today so it's like a snow day. Only without snow. I drove by the building earlier. There are cops all over the place, along with news trucks and the bomb squad. All the entrances are roped off with a security guard standing at each.

Dude, the bomb squad is at my work. That's seriously not right.

I'm grateful that nobody was hurt but I'm a little shaken just the same.