Happy Birthday Doggies!

Today the Z man turns 14 and the bassets turn 6. How has the time possibly gone by this fast?

Didn't we just bring Rainie back on the airplane yesterday? Didn't Pat just come to us the other day?

I really can't believe they're all this old now. The bassets now qualify as 'seniors.' I can't wrap my head around that at all.

Please join me in wishing our whole furry gang a happy birthday. We'll do our best to make it a good one for them.



After 7 months of fighting with my insurance company, they have decided to pay my anesthesia bill from Val's birth.

Phew. Now I just have to tackle the FSA people.


Gratuitous Baby Picture

Eating bread at the laundromat
Originally uploaded by liz2d2.

This is how we spent part of the night on the 23rd, chillin' at the laundromat. Val ate some bread while she watched the dryers spin. Good times, good times.

I Bet You Want To Know About Christmas
Some lame things happened, like my parents cancelling at the last minute. Mom is having Tests Done today, here's hoping they find nothing. Other lame things included our washer's motor burning out in a fit of smoke Saturday night. The repair guy suggests that our model pretty much sucks so it looks like we're actually giving ourselves a new washer for just-after Christmas.

Some nice things happened: I played in a 3 on 3 tournament. We lost in the end but had a good time and I scored a bunch of goals. And we were very very tired afterwards. Val got some really excellent gifts from her Auntie Susan, my parents and her Grandma K. We kind of sucked at giving her gifts and only offered her two kinds of stacking cups, some wooden blocks and um, these plastic pop-together kind of toys that she might be a little young for just yet.

In turn, she gave us crawling, a few claps and the flapping of arms.

Really, that was the best gift of all.

Continuing the trend of new appliances this holiday season, we were lucky enough to finally get a new microwave to replace the one Andrea had in college. Thanks, Susan and Bill, for the horno microondas! Having hot food in single-digit minutes is seriously bad ass.

But of course, it's not just about the gifts. Really, they were a very small part of the holiday. Which in my book, is sort of the point. We spent some time hanging out with my brother. It was super mellow and really nice. We also hung out with Susan, Bill and the girls, watching them have their Christmas while Val played nicely with her toys. It was chaotic and crazy, the room was littered with wrapping paper and the girls could not resist the urge to walk all over their gifts while I struggled to resist the urge to laugh at how damn funny that was.

We had our Christmas dinner at Hot Pot City with a crapload of other people, including Inga the goalie who apparently is also a regular, just not on our shift! We hugged her hello then went on to feed Val her first rice noodles, which she loved.

I had the day after Christmas off, so I went up to hang with the newly-resurfaced post-shoulder surgery Susan, keeping an eye on the girls. It was all good and the girls were ridiculously well-behaved until the end of the day when the Leap Frog table took another time-out victim.

You see, Val has discovered the joys of pulling herself up on things. If it seems like it'll hold her, she'll give it a go. So she's finally groovin on the Table, smacking it with great gusto and smiling at the lights when Riley wants to play with it, too. Which is fine. There are more than enough things to go around. In the middle of the table is a book that changes the table's mode when you flip the plastic page. Apparently, Riley wanted the book on the other page and Val's wee fingers were in the way. Riley didn't quite get why she was encountering the resistance and pushed with all of her might to get the page to go down.

While Val's wee fingers were in the way. Looking back on it, I don't think Riley was at all cognizant of where Val was, she was just trying to make the page go down.

Val cried and cried and cried and yes, I cried too. Riley apologized and Val's fine now though I'm a little scarred remembering her little finger stuck in there.

Val also has gone on to bump her head on a bunch of things and gotten her first real set of scratches in the process. I get it, my kid is going to get hurt as she learns about the world. But it still smarts when she does get hurt and I can't stop it from happening.

But back to Christmas. For Val's first, I'd say it was Really Nice. Mellow, not frantic, just some good times with family and friends-that-may-as-well-be-family. Despite the burning washer and Val's minor injuries, I wouldn't dream of asking for it to be any different. Thanks to all who helped make our first holiday as a family of three so damn nice.


New Cube (again)
I am currently set up in my 13th cube since I started working here almost 3 years ago. That's not a typo, 13. It's only the second time since Bubbles started that I'm not sitting next to her and I have to say that it's really fucking lonely.

I'm near-ish to my new team, as in I can see the stuff hanging over their desks. But I can't see them and I can't hear them either. I'm closer to a bunch of people from a Drastically Different Department who are talking a lot about Things That Mean Nothing To Me.


The work in my new group is just right for me. Fast-paced, keeps me hopping. But socially, I think this could really suck.

I unpacked the necessities since I'm supposed to move AGAIN in another month or so. In case you were wondering, here's what I consider essential to my working environment:

And that's it. Now if you're asked what's essential to my working environment, you have the answer.


Merry Christmas!

Internet, I have news.

Val is crawling.


It's All Supposed To Look Better In The Morning

But when I stumbled outside this morning, it was a grey day and the rain spat in my face. I kept hearing Christmas songs in my head and wondering when I'd feel festive.

At least I arrived at work without having a car wreck.

My mom called later to ask how Val was. She also said she'd been to the doctor and he'd given her some drugs. She's also scheduled for More Invasive Tests. Which sucks, but answers are good. I'm hoping it all adds up to eating a bad batch of curry last month or something benign like that.

When I mentioned that I didn't understand why she had to call me at 2:30 am to let me know they weren't coming, she said goodbye.

There's a lot more I could say about this, but it's best if I just leave it there.

What A Fantastic Night We're Having

At 11, Val acted like she was asleep for the night. So I thought, great. I'll go to bed, too. At 12 she woke up, ready to party. And cough.

She was finally headed back to sleep, and me along with her at last when at 2 fucking 30 my parents called to say they're not coming out for Christmas because my mom's not feeling well. And throw on some guilt about seeing my brother over the holidays. At 2 fucking 30 am when I'm here with a sick baby.

I want my mom to feel well, I want her to get to the doctor and get better. But it is not, in no way necessary or considerate to call me at 2 fucking 30 am when I am here with a sick baby unless you're calling to tell me about a death or a hospital admission.

So here it is, 3 fucking 23 am and my baby has learned how to sleep through her own hacking coughs. That breaks my heart.


She's On The Mend
Val seems to be doing better. She slept a decent amount last night, with enough of the hours in a row to let me sleep enough to feel a bit less haggard than I did yesterday.

But as Andrea pointed out when I mentioned this exhaustion, it's not about us anymore. Which is true, so true. I'd be exhausted for another week if it meant Val could skip this illness and the general malaise that goes with it.

Yesterday I worked from home, which mostly meant holding Val while she cried this sad little 'woe is me' cry that I could do nothing about.

Except for a scant few moments like this one.

Later, we scored some Tylenol Cold stuff for infants and that shit worked wonders, for a while.

It's weird to carry around Kleenex that I don't need for myself.

Today, she's better. Less snot, less congestion. More smiles. I'll take it.


On The Mend, We Think
Val seems to be feeling a bit better. Last night, she ate some barley cereal and squash with great enthusiasm that included the first arm flapping session of day. (A normal day includes many many arm flapping sessions so when those don't start until the evening, you know she's not running at 100%).

The mucus factory seems to have slowed down a bit and she slept better last night -- from 2 to 5 and from 5:30 till 8. She's not totally better yet, but we're getting there.

And she felt well enough to smile at us. Progress, indeed.


How Can This Possibly Be True?
That it's been 7 years since my Grandma first fell ill? That 7 years ago, right after Thanksgiving, about a month after her 2nd hip replacement, she wasn't feeling well and though she was up and walking with just a cane, saying to my Mom 'look at me, Marti!' that while all that was going on, a staph infection had taken hold of her and had already put her on a crash course for Nothing Good.

But we didn't know that until she went to the hospital. It seemed like a bad case of the flu. In a way, I guess. Like they Worst Flu Ever.

They removed her newest hip, (did you know you could live without a hip? You can, but unless you are very young and very fit it's not good) dosed her up on antibiotics that made her sick to her stomach and got her back into the same rehab program that she'd been doing so well with just a few weeks earlier.

I went home that Christmas, rented a car and went straight to the hospital to see her. She was asleep and had changed so much I didn't recognize her. I ran from the room, checked and double-checked her name on the door, then when I realized that it was really her, I stood in the hallway and cried that kind of panicked cry that comes so easy when something so hard happens so quickly until a nurse came by and said something, I don't know what.

I didn't, I couldn't go back in and wake her up. I didn't understand until right then how much she'd changed and how serious the situation was.

The next day, and every day for the rest of that visit, I steeled myself and came back to be with her. We went to rehab, to OT, we encouraged her to eat and on the last day she put in her teeth for me. We threw the ball in PT, I helped to hold her steady as she tried to walk/hobble without her hip and with more pain that I may ever understand.

The day I was scheduled to leave, my plane was cancelled. I got up to the ticket agent and rather than asking to go standby on the next flight, I asked to go on the last flight out. Somehow I got back to the hospital and stayed there with her until the last possible moment. I ate Tim Horton's chili in the cafeteria while she slept and we chatted the afternoon away while she was awake.

For the rest of her life, she talked about that day, "when there was a snowstorm and you came back to sit with me."

Of course I came back. She was my best friend. You'd do the same.

He Thought This Was Funny, Too
It seems that attending holiday parties means that we're going to encounter drunk and drunk-ish people with idiot things to say. I knew that, I really did.

But I wasn't quite ready for a friend's husband to say that Val has such nice eyes because she's 'ornamental.' When I said how that wasn't funny, he spent the REST OF THE NIGHT trying to convince me that not only was it actually funny, but it was okay for him to say that because he'd heard an Asian woman refer to herself that way.

Hi, Honkey. Not your place.

Imagine if Val was 5 years old and you said that. Or, that she was 3 and having people talk shit about her the way AmFam had people do about M. this weekend.

My heart breaks for M's real encounter and for the many imagined encounters Val will have as she grows up.

The above sentence does not not not begin to describe how sad and angry I am for M.

There Was A Reason I Get Twitchy
About passing Val around to people. Because I finally did that and what happened?

My baby got her first fucking cold. Runny nose, congested baby coughs, much crying and general baby unhappiness.

All because I was too fucking polite to say 'no, you can't hold her' when surrounded by the well-meaning masses who were holding out their hands as if she was going to reach out for them, for a total stranger.

Next time I'm carrying her somewhere like that party, she'll be enthroned in a complicated-ass sling that gives me no easy way to get her out of.

Here's my disclaimer: she probably didn't get sick just because of my company party. We attended 3 other parties this weekend, each with their own host of illness-inducing situations. Val also ended up being inside the hockey rink instead of the lobby of the rink because there was no scorekeeper and Andrea kindly filled in on the job.

The plus side of that was that they paid her enough to cover my ice time. Thanks, honey!

So Val woke up yesterday, her 2nd day of being a 7 month old girl, with a cold. She bore the day well, going with us to a quick dim sum, then coming home to take a 20 minute nap, then sit with me on her new rug while I wrapped some of the presents we're giving.

I showed her how to wrap packages the way my mom had shown me. Except that I was a little older at the time and Val wanted only to eat the wrapping paper.

She finally took a decent nap later in the day and woke up pretty happy. If snot-filled and coughing.

All hell broke loose last night when we dared to think she was going to sleep.

I now know what they mean when people say they were up all night with a sick baby. We slept for an hour or so at a time, the longest stretch being (I think) about 2 hours. When she was awake, Val was alternately pissed off/ talking to/spending quality time with this little penguin-looking teether she seems awfully fond of. We call him Penguini.

I lay awake beside her, writing a thousand blog posts in my head, when I wasn't busy writing emails in my head to the people who got too close to her and could have caused this. I feel horrible for her.

I know it was probably a culmination of things, not just my inability to say 'no' more than 100 times in a lunch. But I still feel horrible for her and yes, cry along with her when she needs me to.


Val Is Inspirational
Because today she inspired more than a handful of my team at work to go apeshit over her at our holiday lunch. Which is great in some ways because I also think she's quite fantastic.

But all the good intentions in the world don't stop me from twitching when the following things happen:

  • A really enthusiastic woman tries to get Val to kiss her but putting her face right next to Val's mouth.
  • When that same woman touches Val's face and arms repeatedly.
  • When a gaggle of well-intentioned co-workers swarm her, touching her arms, legs, face and asking to hold her by gesturing with their arms rather than asking with words. Eventually I gave in and let some of them hold her.

    Which of course made me twitch. But I was good, even when they passed her around a bit. I did everything I could not to think about it being cold and flu season, let alone anyone's handwashing habits.

  • When the well-intentioned woman in bullet #1 (see above) basically followed me around trying to get Val to kiss her.
  • More than once, I alleviated my twitchiness by walking right by Val, who now has this awesome habit of reaching for me and Andrea (Susan, too). So I'd walk by, she'd see me and reach for me. I had no choice but to pry take her from their arms.
  • I also alleviated my twitchiness by saying she needed a new diaper (which she did) and leaving the room.
  • I also alleviated my twitchiness by saying I needed to go get my wallet from my desk, then winding up visiting a coincidentally-timed luncheon for other co-worker parents of wee babies. None of those parents reached for Val and many of them marvelled at her amazing sitting-up abilities and cuteness.
What I'm noticing is that the people who have little kids are generally more hands-off than the people who don't.

I fully admit to sneaking out of the party because it was a little more than I could handle. I will no doubt say this a thousand times -- I have waited for what feels like my entire life to be Val's mom and I'll be damned if I'm going to pass her off to strangers or other people for one second more than I have to.

Good Things I Discovered

  • One of my new co-workers is a total baby hound. He made such a fuss over her, I felt okay letting this happen:

  • Many other co-workers were equally as enthusiastic and respectful of my boundaries for her.
  • She remains very well behaved, if a bit reserved, around crowds.
  • She loved the Ball Tree.

The Part I'm Guessing You'll Comment About
(which is great because I'd love to hear your take on this...)

In the spirit of holiday office weirdness, I must also share The Single Most Inappropriate Thing That Anyone Has Ever Said about Val:

"Hi, I'm S. I'm the father."

This, from a very drunk co-worker of Andrea's. Who apparently immediately regretted saying it, and who was read the riot act for this comment today.

But that doesn't take it back. It also doesn't make me stop wondering how many times Val will hear shit like that in her life and how much hearing it will break my heart as I have to explain why something is 'missing' in her life because drunk assholes can't keep their mouths shut.

Even though I know that nothing is 'missing.' Our family makeup is just a little different than some people's. Whose family makeup is also a little different themselves.

I can only hope that we explain the situation well enough that she'll understand how loved she is. And that she'll learn to handle herself with the same grace and charm she brings to most situations already.

With the ball tree!

With the ball tree!
Originally uploaded by liz2d2.

Merry Christmas, Internet!

Now that Val's main hobby is sitting on the floor, playing with toys, it was time to Do Something that would feed her habit while while keep the dogs away from her (at least while she's on the ground. I do trust them but I'm also not an idiot, so distance, it will be maintained for now). So we got this gate that goes across the entryway to the living room.

And finally, a rug that Val can sit on, and perhaps, someday soon, crawl on. The rug arrived yesterday and though it's a little small, it's great. Because Val can sit on it and play with her toys. And as a bonus, it's free from dog hair, dog pee and bite marks. Unlike the rest of the house, which features some form of all those doggie decorations.

This is all fantastic until we somehow left the gate open. And now Val's rug? Has dog hair that will surely make it's way into her wee mouth.

It didn't even last a day.


This Really Had To Be Said?

Me, to the guy who sits behind me, "did you know that it's very rude to burp out loud?"

Seriously. If I know that, you should too. This ain't preschool.

Freedom From
I've been thinking about the whole notion of 'home for the holidays' and 'holiday cheer' and all that kind of crap. It seems like the act of pushing back from the table on Thanksgiving ushers in a new season that's framed by a gigantic set of pressures.

To buy lots of gifts for your loved ones that may or may not have meaning. They may just be 'something to open.'

To have or attend one or more gatherings celebrating the season and all the good things the season is meant to bring.

To connect with far-reaching relatives and friends. And quite possibly to bring them gifts.

There's this other side to it, though. Where people (like myself) who have great memories of Christmases (Christmasii?) past, of those gatherings that were, in reality, less than perfect, but in my memory, have become the kinds of things you'd see on TV.

I compare those seemingly magic nights of my youth with what we're looking at these days: gathering in my cluttered, dog-hair decorated living room and exchanging gifts that may or may not have meaning. That's sorta different than what I had growing up.

I worry (but not too terribly much) that the Christmasii we're going to give Val won't live up to my memories. But, if I look at them closely, even my memories won't live up.

I also mourn so very much the fact that I'll never have another Christmas with my Grandma. Because she was a huge part of what made those television-esque holidays so damn special.

But this year, instead of feeling all this pressure for a perfect, sadness-free holiday, I'm just going with it. Some days, when it's dark, cold and rainy outside, when the lights from my neighbor's porch and my daughter's sweet smile can't quite permeate the grief, I'm just going to relax.

To let the tears fall as they may. Then smile sweetly at those memories and do my very best to make equally awesome ones for Val. Even if it's a whole lot different.


Blame it on the darkening days, blame it on the cumulative lack of sleep, blame it on what you will but whatever it is, it's left me in a funk. I think I'll blow off work a little early and go hug my baby.

That's sure to help.

Val, I Tried

Dear Liz:

Thank you for your interest in Abby Cadabby, our newest addition to the Sesame Street family. As you know, Abby was just launched on the Sesame Street series this season, with only a few story lines about her move to Sesame Street. However, next season we expect Abby to have an expanded presence on the show. And, therefore, we plan to introduce Abby products in the fall of 2007 at most retailers.

Until then, we hope you'll keep watching and keep enjoying Abby and all of her friends on Sesame Street.

Thank you for your support of Sesame Workshop!

Have a great day!

Best regards,

Sesame Workshop


I Am So Proud

My daughter. She can now make fart noises.

Valuable Holiday Lessons
  1. A 4.5 foot fake tree is, in fact 4.5 feet high. Which translates to a bit of a Charlie Brown kind of tree.
  2. Propping that 4.5 foot tree up on a cardboard box that contains one of your gifts only works until you put a decent amount of ornaments on top of the tree.
  3. Because that can cause the box to get a bit crushed, causing your 4.5 foot tree to sink down and some ornaments to fall (though, thank The Jesus, not the lone ornament you have from your grandmother's house)
  4. And when you go to rectify the situation by picking up that 4.5 foot tree with your hot little hand, you may find out that the tree parts aren't screwed together so you may find yourself holding the top of your 4.5 tree when you were expecting to hold the entire thing.
This is an especially great set of things to learn when you're completely exhausted and late for a meeting.


This Cannot Possibly Be True
That there are only 14 days until Christmas???

To all my friends who are about to get gift cards because I was too busy admiring my baby to buy a truly personal gift for you, I apologize in advance.

Afternoon Poo Report
I am perhaps a little too pleased to report that our efforts in Val's poo department have paid off and she just had a rather smelly but pain-free in the passing poo.

I feel just as relieved hearing it as she's got to feel passing it.

A Post In Which I Talk About Poo
Maybe someday Val will see this post and demand that I take it down, even all those years later. But for now, I must tell you about our weekend.

In short, we did too much too soon with the solid foods. And this in turn made our really quite happy most of the time baby quite unhappy, crying out of nowhere, cuddling up to us (for the first time out of need, really sweet but hard to bear, knowing that my baby girl was in pain) and crying this sad cry until the poo came.

Not to mention how horrified I was at the prospect of dealing with adult-like poo from a cleanup standpoint.

The good news is, once the poo passed, she was back to being happy baby. The bad news is, there were a number (that number is 4, for those of you counting at home) of crying epsiodes leading up to the passage of the poo.

This left me spending Sunday morning furiously googling 'rice cereal constipation' and learning that rice cereal, which EVERYTHING I READ (and there was, I assure you a good bit of homework done in the first foods process) said you feed rice cereal first. Those same sources failed to mention in the same paragraph that, oh yeah, it can make your poor baby's bowels, which had flowed so easily all these months, grind to a halt.

In short, they don't tell you that the very food they suggest can make your baby cry. That you should keep the amount of cereal served to a minimum. For those of you who arrived here via google, I tell you this: RICE CEREAL CAN MAKE YOUR BABY CONSTIPATED. So go easy on the stuff.

I'll also add that I apparently didn't research apples enough. Apple juice is a terrific natural laxative. Trust me. But baby apples in cute little jars? Cause constipation. I guess it's like comparing apples to apples, but different. Since one kind of apples makes things move and the other kind makes my baby cry.

Argh. So we cut way the hell back on the solid foods yesterday and only tried to give her prunes, which she wanted NO part of. Can you blame her? Later, after a day of much breastmilk, her old standby that did not make her cry, we gave her a small amount of rice cereal and squash, her favorite solid so far.

She grubbed like squash was going out of style, then got mad at me when the small bit of squash was gone. We finished up the day's eating with breast milk, which I'm proud to say she still enjoys.

And it's a food that's never made her feel like this:

She's Just That Funny Julie over at A Little Pregnant has outdone herself once again with this tribute to snowflakes. Enjoy!


The Littlest Burninator

The littlest Burninator
Originally uploaded by liz2d2.

And if you ask me, she's the best looking one, too!


Note To Self

When cleverly handing the baby a remote control you don't use, take the batteries out. Otherwise you may end up with some weirdass Directv menu that you can't figure out how to get rid of and a baby who's quite proud of herself.


And Without A Clever Retort

Tonight at dinner (hello, Pepper Lunch!) there was a well-meaning asian woman there with her white husband. She's pregnant, due on May 14 of next year - one year after Val's due date. Which seems unreal, that she'll be a year old not all that long from now.

But that's not the story here. Yoko (aka Mrs. Pepper Lunch, who we've come to know and adore) pointed out that the other woman was pregnant so we politely started talking to her.

She asked if Val was 'mixed.' I don't know what the pc term is for that, I guess bi-racial but that's a mouthful. So we said yes. Then the woman asked the question that made me sputter:

'Is the father Asian?'

First of all, doiee. I gave birth to her (I had already said 'oh! May 14, that was my due date! S she probably had a good idea that I'd given birth) so for Val to be bi-racial (multi-ethnic? Half-honkey?) the other half of her DNA would have to be the Asian half. Second of all, she doesn't have a father, she has 2 moms.

I had no clever retort. I just sort of sputtered, stuck on the 'father' bit. I suppose that throughout Val's life, this question will come up and we'd best get ready to answer it without sputtering.

The Wave
Val has discovered how to wave. So she's randomly waving her little hand at whatever moves her, then laughing about it. It's the cutest damn thing.

Another excellent development is the addition of more "solid" foods. Yesterday she ate a whole thing of squash in addition to her rice cereal and a little bit of persimmon. The more she eats from a spoon, the less pressure I feel about pumping so wooo hoo for solids!!


All I Ever Wanted For Christmas
Is right here:

Of course, it's here, too:

For once, words seem to fail me. With everything hard and shitty that's happened to me, to us over the last few years, I am still astounded and so utterly grateful that Val's presence in our lives has served to make so much of that heartache a distant memory.

And even when I have a moment to be all maudlin about losing Grandma, about all the other Bad Shit, it's but a moment. Because Val pulls me out of it with a smile that can only serve to remind me of all that's good in our lives.

The holidays do suck without Grandma and all the traditions we had with her. Part of me will always mourn the loss of those big Christmas Eve parties where we ate tasty food and exchanged gifts at Grandma's with the extended family while the snow came down outside. I wish Val could have even one of those nights.

But she can't. And it's up to us now to make the traditions she'll remember, hopefully with the same fondness I remember mine with.

So as we enter the holiday season this year, it's without a lot of the sadness that I used to feel. Because this year I get to say, Merry Christmas, baby Val. Your moms adore you so.

How Can You Not Love This?

Originally uploaded by gadgetgrrl.


Scenes from a character breakfast

Hey Chip, are you and Dale brothers, friends or what? Ohh. Is that like Akbar and Jeff?

I bet you get that a lot.