Happy Damn Birthday, Dogs

Today marks Zeus' 15th birthday and the bassets' 7th. No, neither of those things are a typo. Zeus is really 15 and yes they all share the same birthday.

So, stupid me, I thought hey, it's their birthday. I'll give them some extra cheese with breakfast. So I split up a piece of American cheese among them as a special gift. Zeus' piece apparently fell over the side of his bowl and got stuck there.

Being 15, the man's cheese retrieval skills are a little lacking and apparently, this inspired Rainie to go and attack him for it.

Sigh. I heard it as I was walking to my car, so I ran back inside to halt the damage. Rainie was all fired up and even growled at me as I pulled them apart. Zeus was bleeding a bit but wouldn't let me get a good look at his business so I didn't get to stop the bleeding 100%.

Happy damn birthday, dogs. At least Patrick was good.

That Race Thing Again

Recently, a mailing list I'm on has been talking about race. Specifically, about giving kids the language to carve their own place in the world, to make their own sense of who they are in terms of race. As you know, we've been sort of stunned that random strangers have felt the need to inquire about Val's racial makeup, especially since we live here, in the land of all kinds of variations on Asian families.

But they've asked, and as a result we landed on the language that works for us, that Val is half-Chinese. Since we've started using this terminology, it's worked nicely, providing (mostly) well-meaning strangers with the answer they're looking for while sort of stopping the path to the next question, which we've learned is invariably 'is her father Chinese?'.

If we say 'she's half-Chinese' that seems to provide enough information. I suppose we could just not answer these people, but being vague or rude isn't really our deal.

So that's our answer, until Val finds one she likes better, then we'll use that. But to a couple of my mailing list cohorts, saying 'half-Chinese' isn't right. They assert that we're either somehow implying that Val's other half is white (which hi, it is, and when I'm holding Val and being asked what she's 'mixed' with, they're asking with the understanding that the other half is indeed white) or that by not saying something like 'she's white and Chinese' we're denying her right to be all white and/or all Chinese.

She's not Jesus (who was somehow all man and all God), she's just a little girl who is, in fact, half Chinese and half white.

I've done a little digging on this here internet about how other families like ours refer to their kids and half-Chinese is a term that comes up a lot. So I'm not crazy. But you bet your ass I'm irritated at having to defend a decision we're quite happy with.

The whole thing reminds me of this AmFam broohahah from the past, where someone was trying to tell AmFam she should celebrate the white half of her daughter's heritage. Her position, and mine, is that by merely living pretty much anywhere in America, even here, you're automatically immersed in some degree of white-ness all the time. It's the Other parts that are the most interesting, the least celebrated and by default, the ones that are more likely to be ignored if you don't address them.

So by saying Val's half-Chinese, we are indeed celebrating who she is, who our family is made up of.

That's our language and we're sticking to it. For now, anyway.



I've been a bit dissatisfied with our pediatrician for a while now but had a glimmer of hope when we met a new associate and liked her. Unlike our regular ped, she seemed to actually listen to us when we talked (instead of talking over us the way regular ped does) so, hey, fine, we'll stick around.

However, it seems that having a ped at a really busy practice means that soon enough, even the newest person to the practice will run out of time to listen to patients families and now, we're back to square one.

Except that today sort of took the cake and we're actually behind square one, where we had a competent ped who was just too busy to listen.

Here's how it went down. Val got weighed, she's managed to lose weight and is now only 21 lbs 10 oz. That's down from a high of 22 lbs, 8 oz a month or so ago. Sigh. She's now firmly in the 5th percentile for weight. I know what you're thinking, but Liz, you're pretty chubby, how'd you manage to have a kid who is *THAT* skinny.

People, I don't know. Could the tall skinny donor gene really be that dominant? Beats me, but seeing her low weight inspired me to say, oh, well if she's only 21 lbs, we'll keep her carseat rear-facing for a while yet.

Here's where the hidden idiot emerged from the ped.

What? She said, she's still rear-facing? You know you can turn her forward at a year, why is she still facing the rear?

YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME. This lady is a pediatrician, you know, a doctor, for CHILDREN. How could she possibly be discouraging a parent from doing something that is safer for kids? Without asking what kind of seat we have, she started talking about how seats couldn't handle being rear-facing past 20 lbs.

Come to find out she means infant seats. WHICH YOU CANNOT USE FORWARD-FACING AT ALL. And, most of which have a weight limit of 22 lbs.

I say look, you've got some faulty information there. It would be really nice if this practice could do some research about the benefits of rear-facing past the minimum weight and at least provide that information to parents. But no, she didn't listen at all, merely changed the topic, finished the exam and left the room.

One other thing that has annoyed me about them is this little questionnaire you fill out when you get there. It asks stuff about your kid's development (is she doing this, what about that?). One of today's questions was 'does your kid stack 3 blocks together?' Um, she doesn't have blocks so that's not a valid milestone marker for her. So I wrote 'we don't ask her to do that.'

When I explained to the ped that we simply don't have blocks, that we are not in the least concerned about Val's cognitive development and that we're not all that interested in measuring her development via a checklist, she ignored me.

I'm stunned, fuming and done with that practice. It's one thing to be talked over, it's quite another to confirm that they're handing out bad advice when it comes to something as important as a child's safety.

And here I thought that the most important thing for us when it came to a doctor for Val would be that they didn't care that she has 2 moms. Ha.


A Whirlwind Of Festive-ness

So, we had a 4 day weekend. I started my weekend a little early by taking the afternoons off on Thursday and Friday to spend some time with my folks. Val took to them like stink on poop, telling them all about the snowman ('noman!') and the bird on her shirt right away. Usually, when she sees people she doesn't really know, she takes her sweet time in warming up to talking, so this was kinda huge.

Saturday, Andrea and I played in the 3 on 3 tourney while my parents hung out with Val. They overcame their learning curve about carseat usage and I think they all had a good time together. I had a great time playing hockey with Andrea (and a couple other friends too!), our little team tied for 3rd out of 4 teams. Yes, I understand that means we tied for last but that's not the point at all.

We had a fabulous time and got a shitload of exercise. Andrea, Val and I all collapsed in a heap at the end of the day. The grownups were starving but almost too tired and sore to shovel the food to our mouths. Fun, fun fun.

Sunday, we showed Val Christmas in the park. She was thwarted by her short-ness when it came to getting on the carnie rides, so it was just two rounds on the carousel for us. For the record, she rode a bunny, then a horse and said 'wheeeeeee' both times, while attempting to wave at Andrea and my parents each time we passed them.

My folks headed down to Santa Cruz to spend some quality time with my bro and his new gf, so we grabbed KFC and had dinner with Isaiah and his peeps. Note to self: you can actually grab takeout pho for less money and more tastiness than KFC. Please remember this next time. Thank you.

At this point, it was nice for Val to have a playdate with someone closer to her own age. She so did not want to leave, but we had to get ready for Christmas, so off we went.

Monday while she napped, we furiously cleaned the house and put up our fabulous pre-lit Christmas tree. She was in our bed, so we figured opening the door to the bathroom, the door from the bathroom to her room and the door from her room to the living room was enough, that we'd hear her or she'd appear in the living room via that path (a path she's taken many many times).

But no. She woke up, got out of bed and went to the door from our room to the kitchen.

Which she can't open, so she stood there crying big old real tears until we heard her and came running.

I'm sure she's forgotten this incident already, but I haven't. I'm so sorry, my sweet girl. That wasn't a very nice way to wake up.

After the Awful Nap Incident, we all headed over the hill to spend Christmas Eve with my bro's new gf and her family. Though they are all really nice, it felt rather awkward to be there since, well, they're not my family and it's the holidays.

They were really into playing Scattergories, which is admittedly a great game when you're not chasing down an overstimulated toddler. So it went like this: Andrea was social with the peeps, played the game with them. My parents visited with the gf's parents. And I hung out with Val in a small living room that wasn't quite child-proofed.

I can assure you that only lasted so long. Even with turning on videos, she lost interest and very much wanted to join the game-playing group. Hell, I did too. But when one of the other grownups told Val to back off, that was it for me.

I have discovered that when someone other than Andrea, myself, Soosan, or Isaiah's family tries in any way to discipline Val, that is when I am ready to remove her from the situation. Because it means that 1. someone who doesn't really know Val is attempting to tell her what to do and more importantly, it means that 2. she's bored out of her life. And as a side note to those adults, would it really be so hard to put down whatever you're doing and TALK to Val for the 10-30 seconds she's asking for? Would it really?

I absolutely believe that as parents, it is our responsibility to provide enough things for Val to do when we go somewhere. However, I'm starting to get that all the portable toys and snacks in the world, in the end, provide a finite amount of time in which she can remain entertained, especially when adults are doing something that seems more interesting than even her beloved coloring.

So I think it's only fair that we pull the plug at that point and take Val back to more familiar (i.e. child-friendly) surroundings. So we did.

Christmas day, we headed up to Soosan's for what ended up feeling like a drive-by holiday since we had to get back home and clean some more. Hey kids, here are some gifts, some hugs and kisses! Later!

We managed to sufficiently hide all the extra junk that plagues us clean the house for our small flurry of guests and have things in the oven making nice smells when they all arrived. We laid out a little spread on my Grandma's Breakfast Table and I even unpacked the set of dishes I'd gotten from Grandma's house. They'd sat in a box for over a year because I just wasn't ready to see them.

But I was ready, so I took a deep breath and unwrapped. I don't think I breathed again until after it was all done. I just didn't think about the last time I'd seen these dishes lined up in Grandma's white metal kitchen cabinet. I didn't think about all the times I'd eaten off those dishes, how many times my grandparents had cleaned and dried them, how many sets of cheese and crackers had been served on them. I just unwrapped, knowing the weight of the dishes in my hand was but a fraction of the weight in my heart.

With love and care, I washed them and put them away. Yesterday, we served snacks to my family on them and I tried not to think about how sad it is that Grandma's things are scattered to the winds (well, around the family) instead of being together in her house on Suffolk Rd.

More later, off to lunch with the folks.


The Whirlwind Begins

My parents arrived yesterday and dare I say Val is MAD about them, especially my mom. At the airport she went right up to them and started talking about the snowman and the bird on her shirt. It was just love from there.

So far, it's going really well. They got to watch Val rock gymnastics today, then we had a nice lunch w/ my bro. It all culminated in Val being so damn tired she passed out before the first Blue's Clue was found.

I've taken the last two afternoons off of work so I could hang out with them. Given all the nonsense that has marked my work like lately, this has been a fabulous decision.

And now, I'm off to nap. Jealous?


Harder Than It Looks

Wrapping presents with a very interested toddler is quite the challenge. It took me about 2 hours to wrap 4 gifts last night. Especially interesting was the tape, who knew? It's always hard to do stuff when Val's getting tired because not only does she get all uncoordinated, she struggles to follow directions, frustrating everyone in the process.

Other parents might drop whatever they're doing and rush the child off to bed when these signs present themselves. But call me crazy, I like to finish whatever I'm doing first and somewhere in that, I like to think it teaches Val to respect our time a little too.

My parents arrive Thursday and will be here through Christmas. We're totally putting them to work by having them watch Val while Andrea and I play in the bitchin' 3 on 3 tourney Saturday. I think they're headed on a field trip down to Monterey, which will be Val's first time there. I'm sure she'll have a blast and I'm sure we'll miss her more than she misses us.

But it's a great chance for grandparent-ly bonding so we can't really pass it up.


Sadder Than I Expected

Yesterday, I dropped off 3 boxes of Val's outgrown clothes at a clothing drive that was giving stuff to women and babies in shelters. Obviously, a great cause but somehow as I was doing it, I got quite teary-eyed thinking about Val's little tushie once fitting in that stuff and how now, there's no way it'd fit because my infant is gone, replaced by a toddler who runs and says 'okay.'

I drove away before I could completely lose it in front of the nice woman running the gig. They had it at a birth center (not a place where you actually give birth so I'm a little unclear about the point of it all). I have to admit that the hippie-granolaness of the place made me a little uneasy, thinking about the kind of birth I'd wanted for Val but didn't get.

So I pretty much threw my big boxes in a corner and ran.

I hope that the next baby to wear that stuff looks as cute as Val did.

Where There Should Be Melancholy

It's so easy to be feeling down around the holidays, caught in the memory of Christmases past, where a flock of healthy relatives and friends gathered round. It would be so easy to be sad right now, remembering the many many excellent Christmases we had with Grandma, knowing that there won't be any more.

But I'm not. Mostly because those last few years sucked so bad for her physically (not to worry, there were still the jokes, even through her last week when she sang How Dry I Am for my cousin) that I'm glad she's not suffering through another season of cold weather.

It's more than that, though. The holidays meant an influx of relatives and while it was fun to see them, I'd invariably grow a bit grumpy that I had to 'share' my beloved Grandma with all these other people. Even though she was just as much theirs as she was mine, the young heart doesn't always grasp such concepts.

So when I think about missing her, (which, yes, is all the time) I don't think about the holidays as a particularly large part of that loss. It's the end of a hot summer day, when things are starting to cool off, the time of day when we'd bust out the playing cards and spinach dip, playing gin rummy until what felt like late into the night, but was probably like 9 pm. That's when I had her all to myself and those days, they're the ones I'll miss the most.

We played Ave Maria in my concert yesterday. I couldn't help but remember all the times it was played at the end of Mass, walking out with Grandma to those notes I found myself playing all these years later. I did not fuck it up. I played for her, blinking back tears with every measure.

That Was A Busy Day

Yesterday was one of those crazyass days where you go non-stop from thing to thing, collapsing in a heap at the end. The sucky part was that all of the things were my extra-curricular activities (I guess they're called 'hobbies' now that we're grownups) and none were Andrea's.

So while I was skating a practice in the morning, playing a band concert in the afternoon then rushing to a hockey game at 5:15, she was taking care of Val so I didn't have to miss a thing. Thanks, honey.

I just have to take this moment to say that Val is So Damn Much Fun right now. Seriously.


The End Of Another Exciting Week

Fridays mean me working from home and now, me taking Val to gymnastics in the mornings. This isn't part of my grand plan for Val to be an Olympic gymnast, no, it's so she can wear herself out, then have a nice nap while I get some work done.

And whaddya know? It sort of works. In addition, Val has a great time and we get to have some fun together. Today we got a bonus since auntie Soosan was awake and we got to have lunch with her and the girls, followed by a nice long nap and me getting some work done.

Potty training is moving along in fits and spurts. Which is fine, no rush. I got her some training pants and I have to say they are the cutest thing ever.

But it blows my mind to think that one day she won't wear diapers at all. Seems a lifetime away still, but really, it's probably closer than I think.


What's Going On

Christmas is right around the corner. I'm trying not to panic. We've completed most of our shopping, I think, and mostly managed to avoid racking up too much debt in the process. When January comes and the credit card bills arrive, I'll know for sure how we did.

I'm still struggling for a Truly Great gift for Andrea. I think I blew my wad on her excellent surprise satellite radio. Maybe I'll get her a cozy for it, just to keep the fun going. Wouldn't that be cute, a little radio cozy? No? And speaking of my love for the satellite radio, I think this thing might be the coolest damn thing EVER. I believe that it kicks the ipods ass.

It's also not cheap so I'll just be here with my 4 year old ipod for a while yet.

So we have a Giant Stack of Presents for our friends and family. They need to be wrapped, but they're here, in our house. That's a start. The pre-lit Charlie Brown-esque Christmas tree is still in the basement. It's probably about damn time we brought it up and got our festive on.

The thing we've totally slacked on is Christmas cards. We haven't been to visit Santa just yet. I know lots of other families have managed to make time for this but somehow we've been so damn busy playing hockey, rehearsing for this Sunday's band concert (well, that part's just me), shopping for the Big Pile I Gifts and dropping a measly 2 toys off at goodwill that it hasn't happened yet.

So if you're on our list, please don't be surprised when it shows up in January. My goal for this year is to not have to ask AmFam for her address yet again AND to actually get hers in the mail.

There. I said it.

In hockey news, 3 months after the season started, I've been added to the roster of the tournament team I tried out for last summer. They had a spot and somehow it has become mine. I'm pretty jazzed, their coach has terrific things to say and it's a chance to play more women's hockey.

You know what's great? The first 4 letters of Turducken are TURD.


While I'm on Memory Lane

Originally uploaded by liz2d2
I present you with the cutest tushies!

Good Times, Good Times

Originally uploaded by liz2d2
Just going down memory lane here.


Here's How It Looks

Bricking: complete
Originally uploaded by liz2d2
Not too shabby, if I do say so myself. Hello, no maintenance yard!


Things 9 and 10

I know you were wondering what's happening with the front yard.

Thing 8? That was the repaired gas line becoming un-repaired.

Thing 9? The unearthing of a sewer pipe that had been concreted in and needed to be replaced.

Thing 10? That was Joe hiring a guy who was down on his luck who had a lot of attitude to work on the project. That guy stood in our yard and yelled at Joe, about Joe, then cursed loudly as I stood there holding Val.

I could think of no polite way to say 'look, punkass, you're the guy he HIRED to do this work.. now please do it even if you think Joe's method of dirt delivery and movement isn't the most optimum.' So what I said was 'look, I'm just the lady who writes Joe a check. You? You work for Joe, he does the job however he wants. I'm not interested in discussing dirt movement with you.'

Well, that's paraphrasing too. But you get the idea. Finally, I'd had enough of the nonsense and I did what any strong, confident woman would do.

I IMed Andrea and asked her to call Joe and ask him not to have that guy come back.

As an aside, it's sort of funny how these things work out. There are certain things that I handle the administrativa about -- doctors, credit cards, um, other stuff. Andrea handles the outside things. It's a good system for the most part.

Anyhoo, finally, like 2 months after it started, the brick hath been laid. It looks pretty nice, in that 'fuck yeah, we're the people who don't do yardwork' kind of way. Works for me.

They still have to seal the brick, but then that's it. No more weirdos in our yard, no more neighborhood kids loitering and acting like it's a fucking party. Just our house, back to our bad selves.

Until we figure out what to do with the other side of the front yard. Sigh.

The upsides of all these Things are that we met a plumber we like, who does good work and doesn't charge a shitload. As a bonus, he shows up pretty close to when he says he will. He's now come back to fix our leaky shower (after it was 'fixed' twice by this other guy) and install an ice maker for me! as a surprise gift from Andrea. Thanks, honey!

The bigger bonus is that said plumber (locals, if you want his number, just talk to Andrea, she'll hook you up) has 2 daughters who would like to babysit.




I'm Glad You Like It

Because I like the new look too. If I have some extra time, I may make the bubbles rotate too. But that could be kinda time consuming -- first set up a bunch of divs to hold them in place, then make a bunch of different bubbles to rotate through each div. Should time allow, I think that'll be my next 'enhancement.'

I bet you're wondering what else is going on around here. Not a lot, really. Getting ready for the holidays (i.e. trying not to panic about getting shopping done, definitely trying not to think about the point of all that shopping because it might annoy me to be spending so much money that way). Of course the holidays involve a visit from my folks, so we're prepping for that, too. There's a 3 on 3 tourney one day that they're here. We've roped them into hanging out with Val for the whole day so Andrea and I can play together. It should be fab-u-lous.

More later, I must rouse the toddler and get her off to gymnastics so she can show me her Dinosaur kick.


So I Had Some Time On My Hands

And I'm pleased to offer you my newest design. The other one was getting a wee bit old, you have to agree. So I took a template some nice person had created and made it my own.

Enjoy, you three!


I Did Not Expect To Be Posting About This Today
I just got a call from the sperm bank, the second in a week about Val's heart murmur. I guess they had a note to call after X amount of time or something, so they called.

As you might imagine, getting a call from them out of the blue is sort of disconcerting. But okay, fine, what? Last week, it was to see where her VSD was, had it closed, any new updates? Yes, finally, I was able to say IT IS CLOSED.

Now, can we please never discuss this again. Because even thinking about it makes me wonder what I should have done differently while I was pregnant. Even though I did everything that I could think of to 'get it right' (I did, after all, get an A+ in gestation) somehow my precious little girl, this child I'd waited my whole life to meet, emerged with a hole in her heart.

So though I have supreme confidence in my parenting skills (seriously, I do. Because whether or not I'm confident, Val still is stuck with me and Andrea as her parents. By default, we are the best people for the job so we may as well act the part.) knowing about that tiny hole made me doubt that I'd done right by her when I was pregnant.

I think that doubt played as much a part in me wanting to wait the extra 3 months to go back to the cardiologist as wanting to give the thing more time to close. It was 3 months where I didn't have to think These Thoughts About What I'd Done Wrong.

When we heard the fantastic news that the hole was closed, heard the doc tell us that we didn't even have to list it on her medical history, I danced about a thousand dances of joy. I was off the hook. Whatever I'd done wrong didn't matter because she's 100% healthy now.

Back to the sperm bank. Today, they called again to let me know that they're now putting waivers in every chart of every family who attempts pregnancy using our donor stating that there's a risk of a VSD with this donor.

I was so taken aback, I sort of sputtered for a second and finally said um, okay. Now, I'm all for full disclosure. I would not want what happened to these families to happen to anyone else. I appreciate that the sperm bank has a conscience about these things, I really do.

But just the same, when I hung up the phone, it was with tears in my eyes.

Because, you see, that VSD had nothing to do with our donor. It was all my fault.

And I'm starting to get that I'll pretty much never be able to convince myself of any other explanation.


Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!
Originally uploaded by liz2d2
Sure, it's a little late, but you get the idea.