Saturday, January 30, 2010

Gratuitous Cuteness

I hate to brag (sort of) but my kid really is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.

Fish Face Eloise 10 months and house projects 020 Eloise 10 months and house projects 082

Fish Face, Fairy Face, and Kissy Face

Friday, January 22, 2010

Weezy’s First Social Disease

As new parents Brakes and I have enjoyed all of the “firsts” Miss Eloise has graced us with thus far;   her first poo after she “dumped” her first BF Billi Rubin (that's a little gauche jaundice humor for you!  And we took a picture.  Is that weird?) immediately comes to mind.

However there are a couple of firsts I have been dreading, most especially her first fever.  I’ve marveled at what a great job I’ve done keeping her healthy (despite encouraging allowing her to eat Puffs off the floor) for the last 9 months.  In fact she had never even run a fever, until the Sunday after we moved. 

For the last several days, during the craziness of moving, I had noticed that she felt a freckle warm.  I kept pulling out the handy-dandy temporal lobe thermometer and zapping her forehead.  It showed high 98 to 99 each time.  But so did everybody else.  (I was zapping people like crazy.  Multiple data points, you know.)  I decided she was a bit warm but not in fever territory yet.  Well, by Sunday, her eyes looked funny and her mouth was so hot when she nursed that I decided it was time to pull out the big guns; we went rectal, people.  Brakes held her cute little butt-cheeks apart (baby got back!)  (Was that inappropriate?  Sorry.) and I gently inserted the thermometer.  She froze and looked horrified.  I also looked horrified as I watched the numbers quickly climb to over 102 before the beep.  My baby had a fever! 

After 24 hours of Tylenol the fever was gone and we felt relief.  That was not so bad; we had navigated her first illness with aplomb.  In fact, Brakes and I were busy congratulating ourselves on our extraordinary parenting skills when I happened to Handglance down at Weezy’s thumb cramming Puffs into her mouth as fast as it could folded nicely in her lap.  It was sporting an angry, red blister.  I quickly gave her a closer look and saw that her face, mostly around her mouth and nostrils, also had a scabby, blistery rash.   How had we missed the rash on her face, you ask?  As I already explained, we were busy stroking each other’s egos and could not be bothered with close examination of our daughter’s, up until then, flawless complexion.  Besides, it blended in with all of the Puff crumbs. 

Face Within minutes I had scooped up my baby and was clutching her to my bosom while Brakes’ googled baby rashes.  (Jenny McCarthy isn’t the only one who can study medicine at Google University.)  Within minutes we had made a scientific diagnosis: Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease.  It is one of those childhood illnesses that everybody gets eventually.  It is spread through exchanging body fluids with an infected individual.  (Not by eating Puffs off the floor, the doctor assured me.)    It did not appear to be uncomfortable, affect her appetite, her sleep, or her mood.  It basically just compromised her beauty for a few days.  Within a week the blisters were all gone and she is back to her usual gorgeous self.  So all in all, Weezy’s first social disease wasn’t that emotionally wrenching.  We all appear to have recovered unscathed.  Maybe Brakes and I aren’t such terrible parents after all?

  (Note:  My child is now fully recovered.  You should not run kicking and screaming from us if you see us walking down the street.  And we are available for play dates.  Especially if there is wine. And puffs.)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

My Blog is really Trailer-Park-Tastic These Days!

Has anyone noticed my header is so 2009?  Gross.  I am like those people who keep their Christmas lights up all year round (you know who you are).  Slap a couch on my porch and call me trashy. 

I’ll try to klassify my page a bit next week; until then let me enjoy my Natty Ice and possum shooting in peace while WeezySue plays in the mud with her hub-cap collection.

Bye ya’ll,

GassySue and BraksieSue

PS: To those of you who do live in a trailer, have a couch on your porch, drink Natty Ice, shoot possums, and let your kids play with used automobile parts; I don’t judge.  Please keep reading me.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Social Skills Lessons By Brakes

My very clever nestie friend (I have not actually met her in real life but we’ve been sharing intimate, yet untraceable, details from our personal lives for 5 years, so I think that qualifies us as friends. Anyways.) SmartAssMom writes a fantastic blog about motherhood, life, and lately, entertaining and decor. Her recent sardonic take on tablescapes and children-welcome adult parties got me thinking about how differently Brakes and I navigate certain social situations.

I was raised in a home where entertaining guests was an art form and being a perfect hostess was ranked right up there next to godliness and personal hygiene in level of importance. Brakes is:

A) a Man and

B) A little Autistic (I am a professional; I can say these things).

He doesn’t always “get” social cues, nor does he always understand appropriate ways to send certain signals. (As many of you know, though I was, of course, initially attracted to Brakes I know that looks fade; what really cemented his intrigue was my clinical interest in his Aspergersy take on the world.)

Here are a few shining examples of Brakes’ social brilliance:

  • When Brakes and I were separated for a month, when I was visiting Arizona, we spoke every night on the phone. On an especially poignant night I was really missing my man, so I waxed poetic to him for a few minutes finishing up with, “I’m feeling very tender towards you…” I then waited an appropriate amount of time for him to return the sentiment. When he didn’t, I patiently explained that it was customary to reciprocate kind words when they are spoken. He paused for a minute, mulling this concept over in his mind, and said, “Right. I love you. I love you a reasonable amount… how was that?” Bless his heart.
  • A few months later, when he proposed, he kept up with this romantic ideal by saying, “Well Bug, we’ve known each other a long time. I love you. I guess the next step is getting married. What do you think?” If I hadn’t been distracted by the big, honking rock between his fingers, I may have asked for a do-over.
  • My absolutely fave social-trick Brakes taught me is how to get rid of party guests that overstay their welcome. He simply gets up from the table and begins clearing. This would work out really well if he didn’t have a wife that never wants the evening to end or if our friends were not used to his sometimes abrupt social transitions and didn’t pay them much mind. In fact, while Brakes is in the kitchen mopping up after my culinary adventures, we’ve had entire conversations centered around Brake’s less than stellar phone-skills. It works well for me.

In the spirit of celebrating Brake’s idiosyncrasies I am going to end this post much like he would (mid-conversation)-

“Alright. We’ll I gotta get going. Click.”

3rd Ann, Haloween, Party, Dave 022

Plus he writes “I Love You” with pasta and puts it on the special plate.

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I am a lucky woman!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Like Mother, Like Daughter (secret revealed)

              As Brakes alluded to in his debut post, I’ve been working on a major project; a real labor of love (No, I am not pregnant.  Bite your tongue.)  My mom turned 60 yesterday.  As many of you know, she has lived a very unusual life thus far.  My childhood was peppered with stories and lessons that she taught me, mostly gleaned from her vast worldly experience.  After recovering from her heart transplant in 2005 (Please, be a donor!)  my sister, Meghann, and I began to campaign for Mom to write her memoirs.  She resisted our pleas, so we took matters into our own hands.  Over the last six months we have spent hours and hours putting into writing our version of the tales she’s shared with us over the years.  We self published our 200 page manuscript on blurb.com (highly recommend self-publishing!  It is a total hoot to see your name in the byline without having to navigate the politics of a nasty publishing house, deal with picky editors, or really write very well at all.  Brakes says Blurb brought out my inner-narcissist.  I can’t imagine why he feels this way.  Maybe because I would only answer to Authoress for a solid 48 hours and I informed him that future Nobel laureates don’t have to change poopie diapers?) And yesterday we presented it to her at long last.  This has been one of the most challenging yet rewarding projects I’ve ever taken on but I loved the closeness it made me feel to my sister, family, and most especially, my amazing mom.

          In honor of her birthday, I’ll share with you one of my favorite excerpts from A Complicated Woman:

K never knew how much she still needed her mother until she became a mother herself. From the moment she pushed sweet Eloise out (I won’t go into gory details but suffice it to say it was a med-free delivery and sweet Jesus it hurt!) (Gas Edit: Big surprise, one of my favorite chapters has to do with childbirth!  Don’t think I can’t sense you rolling your eye’s, readers.  I promise one of these days I’ll write a blog post that does not include reference to my pachina.) she was ill-equipped for all of the emotions that come part in parcel with motherhood. There was the love, the pain, the exhaustion, the obsession, the fears, the peace, the laughter, and the tears.

The tears did not stop for weeks after Eloise’s birth. K literally had salt burns coursing down her swollen cheeks in the hospital. She was completely unprepared for the job she’d been excitedly anticipating for her entire life. From the time K was a small girl, her greatest ambition was to be a mother so when she met H and they eventually made the decision to begin their own family, K confidently anticipated finally fulfilling the role she felt she had been in training for since the beginning of time. When Eloise was born and the strong postpartum hormones were inundating her body, K felt surprised at her reaction. She was, of course, madly in love with her baby girl and she was humbled by the privilege of getting to be Eloise’s mama, however instead of feeling finally complete, K felt quite lost. It was as if she was on the outside looking in on a woman who had just gotten everything she had ever wanted and K could not understand why she was not happier. Maybe it was the aching hienie from K’s third degree tear and subsequent internal hematoma. Maybe it was the exhaustion of an intense labor. Maybe it was just the natural reaction of someone who has gone through a trauma and was facing major life changes. No matter what it was, K did not feel like herself, and for someone who is typically self-assured, this was a very frightening sensation.

There are no words to describe the extreme relief K felt when she saw her mom walk excitedly through the hospital room door. As she proudly showed Shanlee her new granddaughter, who was fiercely suckling at K’s breast, she watched the emotions play out on her mother’s beautiful face. Shanlee’s expression showed wonder, amazement, pride, and love. K finally felt like she could exhale. She handed the baby over to “Movy” and began to relax for the first time in what seemed like days.

After a harrowing week in the hospital the new family was finally allowed to return home. Shanlee had been holding down the fort in their absence. The cupboard was full of oatmeal cookies (K needed a cookie every time she nursed to keep her supply up or so she claimed), the fridge was bursting with Guinness (also for K’s supply), and the dogs looked a freckle heftier from Movy’s generous ministrations of dog biscuits and rawhides. She followed the couple into the house snapping pictures of her darling grandbaby as they made their way up the porch steps.

As the new parents introduced their daughter to her doggy-sisters Shanlee busied herself unpacking the copious number of hospital bags. “The mini-DVD player and scented candles, K had brought as labor tools, had turned out to be completely unnecessary, after all,” Shanlee laughed to herself as she put away the old work-shirts of Tom’s K had worn while recuperating.

Over the next week, as K struggled with taking care of the baby, H struggled with care of K- This new K; a K who cried all the time and seemed to be walking around in a fog. And Shanlee struggled with taking care of everything else. She gave the baby her first bath, she made breakfast in bed for the new parents, and she acted as a cook, cleaner, and lactation consultant. Shanlee worked tirelessly being her kids’ biggest cheerleader, a shoulder to cry on, and a soft place to land. When H had to go back to work, she generously acquiesced to his plea to stay for a bit longer until K was back on her feet. A couple of weeks later, when Shanlee noticed the animation beginning to return to her daughter’s face, she knew that it was time to go. It was a fine line between helping and enabling and Shanlee knew that her K needed to fly solo in order to get her confidence back.

K and Eloise both sobbed in the car on the way home from the airport but Shanlee was available by phone a few hours later. And Shanlee has stayed available. She has answered every phone call, email, and Skype with patience and love. She has guided K through Eloise’s first fevers, teeth, and giggles. She has listened and agreed, as K waxed poetic about her darling daughter’s many gifts and talents. And when she saw K again, when Eloise was almost seven weeks old and K was still acting a little cloudy, she sat K down and told her to buck up; she no longer had just had a baby and at a certain point K needed to pick herself up by her bootstraps and snap out of her fog. K heard the wise words of her mother, and she started to move through her exhaustion and rediscover the joys in her life. From the moment of her birth, K had delighted in every particle of Eloise, but she viewed the rest of her life with an air of lethargy. A week later H took K into the city and got her a makeover as a birthday gift and soon the sparkle returned to his wife’s face. She was laughing again and crying less. She was hungry and not just for oatmeal cookies and baby smooches, but for fun and experiences beyond the four walls of the nursery. Shanlee had spurred K to action and as a result, given H his wife back.

10 months later K still calls Shanlee several times a day to consult with her on sleep schedules, solid foods, and Halloween costumes. But now Shanlee has the comfort of knowing that her daughter, K, can look after her granddaughter, Eloise, with all of the competence and joy that Shanlee took and takes in looking after K still today. K is finally relishing the role for which she was born to play; she is the type of mother that her mother raised her to be.

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Thank you Mom, and happy, happy birthday!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Puff Parenting

So we were all hanging around chatting at my Grandma’s wake, a traditional Irish shindig complete with whiskey, music, and laughter, when my cousin Steven, whom has an adorable daughter (LJ) 5 days older than Eloise, walked in a stared in horror at what I was about to do.

I had already noticed Sara, Steven’s gorgeous wife and one of my favorite cousin-in-laws, politely averted gaze, as she had been watching me “parent” Eloise all afternoon.  However Steven was raised in the same opinionated family I was and it did not even occur to him to refrain from commenting on what may be an unusual behavior management strategy I was employing to distract Weezy from both my chi-chis and my liberally-laced traditional coffee;  I was spreading out a line of Puffs a-la-Hansel-and-Gretel style, so that Weezy would crawl along and eat them.  Off the floor. 

So, not only was I bribing my child with food  so that she would leave me alone (to drink), but I was also letting her eat off the floor in what is arguably the worst flu-season since the times of the plague.  (Hmmm, when you put it that way, I can see where S&S may have been less than impressed.)

But try to look at things from my perspective, we had just finished ripping off the paneling in the bedroom when we got the call about my Grandma’s passing.  We left nails, dust, and wood shards all about and high-tailed it down to LA for her services.  I had a cranky, tired, bedraggled husband (I wish Brakes liked Puffs!) and my baby wasn’t any great-shakes either.  We slept in a tiny, creeky turn-of-the-century bed and Weezy slept in the closet (I realize S&S would never let their baby sleep in a closet.) because we learned the hard-way that if Weezy can see me, smell me, or hear me at night; she wants, nee needs, to nurse.  I am surprised I had any boob left at the end of our first night.  I skipped 1/2 my public Hail Marys at the Rosary and Weezy burped twice at the funeral.  Loudly; like the priest paused and excused her loud.  (S&S’s perfect girl sat primly on her mother’s lap and I swear she rolled her eye’s at Weezy’s antics.)  In summation; I’d had it!  I needed a break and if scattering Puffs on the floor while Weezy dove for them like a trained sea lion got me one!  So be it.  Don’t judge-- you would have done the same things.

It did make for some cute pictures though.

 

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

We are such LOWESER’s

Hello out therrrrrrreeeee! Can anybody hear me? Hi everybody. Brakes here! Sorry for the very long brake.  (I was referring to the long hiatus, not my privates.  That would be inappropriate.  Despite what Gas has lead you to believe, I do have some social graces. Anyways.)  Gas has been hard at work on a super secret project the likes of which I hope we can divulge soon. This project has taken virtually all of her free time and, in the interest of sparing her sanity in the evenings, it has meant a lot of soiled diapers coming my way. Let’s just say that I’m up a couple on her at this point. (Gas Edit: Not likely.) If this project could grow legs it would walk the trail to Mordor (I know all you Mommy Blog readers are closeted Tolkien geeks too!).  (Gas Edit: I thought I asked you not to reference LOTR on my our blog?) But enough of that. I was sent to talk about our other child.

As many of you know Gas and I bought a house not too long ago. It’s what Gas refers to as a “mid century modern rancher” which IMO is a cute way of saying sixties tract home with no curb appeal. The upside is that it is on a large lot and has plenty of room. This is good because we are never moving. again. ever. or ever. never.

When we bought the house it was obvious that it needed some upgrades. It was listed as a “maintenance free house”. I can only assume that this was because there hadn’t been any maintenance performed on it in over 25 years. Thankfully, Gas was very organized and came up with a tiered and color-coded (leave it to her to add decor to a flow-chart) system with the most important things in green (tier 1) to least important in red (tier 3) and slowly we’ve been chipping away.

We started with the necessary stuff like a fence for the dogs, and fixing leaky plumbing. Then we moved on to some more difficult stuff like tiling. Now neither of us have been around home improvement much. Gas did a little maintenance growing up (Gas Edit: Does this make me sound like a custodian? I wasn’t.  Not that there is anything wrong with custodians, or sanitation engineers, or whatever.  Anyways.  Continue:) and I had some woodworking and electrical experience in college, but for the heavy lifting we’ve had to call in some experts. For the tiling we were fortunate enough to call in my dad for his expertise (and some tools).

Here’s a couple pictures so far:

This one was taken on closing day. The gentleman on the left is the former owner, Kago. Notice how we are smiling and he is not. I’m pretty sure if this was taken today the roles would be reversed. Look at Gas and I beaming.  So young.  So naive.

Eloise 8 months and Moving to Hazel 301 

Day 1 of the renovation. Weez got right to work directing.

Eloise 8 months and Moving to Hazel 312

Here is my dad and I tiling the floor in the entryway. Please note the gigantic hole in the floor from which my head is protruding.

Eloise 9 months, Christmas 09, House Projects 003This was definitely one of those what-the-hell-were-we-thinking moments. We made this hole in front of the garage entrance a couple days before our guests arrived for Christmas. The hole leads to the dark, cavernous crawlspace below. The idea was tossed around that we could leave it there with some water and rations beneath. When tensions got high we could just ask the offending guest to please check on the laundry in the garage…

Gas’s mom refers to the crawlspace as the catacombs. I like to call it our “mother-in-law” unit.

  

Here’s the kitchen floor before and after:

Eloise 9 months, Christmas 09, House Projects 095 IMG_4752

Last weekend my little sister started calling us LOWES-er’s because we’ve been know to frequent our favorite hardware store up to three times in a day. Though, sometimes we like to mix it up a bit and go to Orchard Supply Hardware (OSH). Why? Because we’re OSHsome!   That's all for now, folks!  I am off to tackle some more tier 1’s!