August 28, 2012


In a reversal of our usual system, yesterday I dropped off Brex and Jrex brought him home. Which meant that we were all hanging out in the living room as Brex stood next to his wooden box playing with the beads on wire loops twisting around the top. Jrex accidentally dropped the little notepaper we get from the daycare. It landed on top of Brex's box.

Now, this little kid is SUCH a fidgeter. He always needs to do something with his hands and loves to obsessively clutch any object as he goes about his activities. It's so bad that we suspect he's never going to switch from an army crawl on his belly to a 'real' crawl. Why? In the army crawl he can continue to hold onto his Baahhwwl, or whatever other random item is in his grasp.

So, he reached for the paper. With both hands. Midway through the move, he seemed to realize what he was doing and his chubby legs started shaking, but he maintained his balance as he slowly reached forward to grab the paper and then stretched one of his hands to clutch a wire loop. Phew! He looked proud and relieved as he waved his paper at us.

Then he plunked down and army crawled over to me with his trophy.

Nope. He's not going to crawl before he walks.

August 22, 2012

Blah blah or Bawwwl?

Saturday night, 9:00 pm, far past the kiddo's bedtime and he was playing contentedly at Happy's 1st birthday party. While there, he discovered the joy of playing with round objects. Somehow, I've just never gotten around to buying him any toys with balls included.

Since then, I've rummaged through our stored stash of gifts from friends and found a couple balls. Tonight he happily migrated back and forth from his big wooden play box to a couple of balls. At one point, he picked up one of them then pointed at it and made a sound that (to a prejudiced, fond mother's ear) sounded like, "What's that?" (aka "da TA?")

I pretended he'd asked a question and answered slowly, "Baaalll. That's a ball. Baaaalll."

He looked at me solemnly and slowly enunciated (tone for tone), "Baaaww". I repeated, "Baaaalll", he looked at me, "Baaaawwl". Now, technically, if I do rasberries at him, he does them back so I'm not convinced it isn't just mimicry. We'll see if he says anything close to a "B" sound when he plays with them tomorrow.

The funny thing is that I look at him and feel like I've known him for years. It's still a bit strange to me that he can't talk or walk. It's like, some part of me thinks he's just wearing a baby suit and pretending. Don't fret, I'm not pushing him to be more than he is, it's just this odd sensation when I'm around him. If I believed in reincarnation, I could latch onto the whole 'old soul' thing. I've never had a baby of my own before, so perhaps it always feels like this for Moms. Among all the conversations about cracked nipples, thrush, crazy diapers, all-nighters and other Mothering Lore I've heard over the years, I've never heard this one talked about. Am I the odd one out on this?

August 20, 2012

Hormones Suck

Once a month I have a couple days where my mood dips really low. Whatever matters most to me in my life feels doomed and horrible. In high school, I'd vent to my Mom. After a while, she'd gently ask, "Where are you in your cycle?" Of course, I'd flounce away completely offended that She Just Doesn't Understand Me! During college, I'd feel like I was the worst painter in the world. While Jrex and I were dating, I'd tell him we had to talk and then I'd paint a doom & gloom picture of the state of our relationship. At first he tried to have a rational discussion, but (wise man), he eventually learned to just listen sympathetically and not really respond much. A day or so later I'd say, "Gosh, I don't know what that was about!? I mean, everything I said was valid, but it felt so life or death and now it's not that big of a deal. Weird, huh?" He'd just nod and smile.

Yesterday was Sunday (in case you weren't paying attention). Since I'm still looking for a church, Sunday just highlights that I don't have a place to feel rooted, I don't yet have a deep Christian network here, Jrex isn't at church with me and I don't know where to bring Brex in order to experience both God's love and rich community. Hormones aside, it's become a challenging day for me. Well, yesterday, I walked out mid-way through the sermon. It just felt empty and futile (not God, just the church hunt process).

When Jrex came home after hanging out with some friends in the evening, he offered to just sit together and talk. It didn't take long before I was teary and expressing how much despair I felt about Everything. He just listened. Eventually he looked tired, which of course meant He Just Doesn't Understand Me! I left him to watch football and went upstairs, Hurt, Sad and Alone.

This morning it occurred to me that, while there is validity in the emotion, perhaps it's hormones that are inducing the thrashing, raging despair.

It truly gives me sympathy for people who's brain chemistry is out of whack all the time. It's horrible to feel buried alive by Life. Most of the time I feel resilient and able to handle curve balls. These few days of fragility and wrath are quite disorienting. I also haven't had many of them since getting pregnant, so last month and this month caught me by surprise.

Looks like things are getting back to normal... I'm SO excited!

Do any of you get involuntary crazy days? It's been 28 years of this, you'd think I'd figure it out when the wave is cresting, but EVERY time, I only figure it out as it ebbs.

August 9, 2012

Coming up for air

I've worked 61 hours since Sunday afternoon. I'd worked on the RFI (Request for Inf0rmation) for Big Korean Tech Company (BKTC) a couple weeks ago. When we got invited back for the standup, I tried to say no to helping put the presentation together. After being promised that all my paying client work could go to freelancers and I'd only work on the RFP (Request for Pr0posal), I was sucked into the worst clustery project so far.

Anyway, that's all over and everyone in the office is doing a scramble tonight and tomorrow to put the pieces together so that one of our VPs can take the finished booklets and other detritus with him to K0rea tomorrow. I'm OUT of that tunnel.

Tomorrow I'm taking a comp day and will try to avoid the computer all day and all weekend.

We have no plans, but right now, that sounds perfect.

In other exciting news, our back porch is being torn off the house!

That red circle is around the part of the 4x4 post that held up the roof and was tenuously held together with nails and paint. One of the first thoughts I had when we saw this house was that it's perfect, but the back porch has to go. We thought we'd have to save money for a few years first, but thanks to all the life transitions in one year (move+baby+house+home office), we received a tax refund that more than pays for a new covered deck.

Not only will we end up with a 17 x 12 foot deck, with a roof and ceiling fan, we're using Garapa wood for the deck boards and a built in shelf. Garapa is a sustainably harvested Brazilian hardwood. It lasts for 50-60 years and only needs to be oiled every couple years. It contains silica and therefore is as hard as concrete. It's supposed to be gorgeous. I'm hoping it works as a file for the dog's nails!

Another side perk is that while they're working on the back porch, thereby forcing us to park in front and use the front door, the city has torn up the side street facing our garage driveway. So, two reasons we'd have to park in front are happening at the same time. Score!

The city is repaving the road after digging it up to work on the water mains. The good news is that the baby can sleep through the sounds of back hoes, bulldozers and power tools, the bad news is that our fence, front porch and all our trees are covered in dust. Looks like I'll be doing some power washing and staining in the fall! Want to come for a work holiday?

The overarching goal is to get the deck (and the yard?) done for Brex's first birthday party. The first birthday is a big deal in Korean culture and it would be fun to have a progressive party. If people want they can come early for the Korean ceremony (dress him in Korean outfit and have him pick an object that supposedly indicates his future destiny), then we'll do an open yard party in the back yard and serve Korean food.


In the gratuitous baby photo category: here are a couple photos from my birthday. We visited the Modern Museum in Ft. Worth. Outside the museum there's a 68-ft Vortex sculpture by Richard Serra. When you stand inside it and clap, melodic echoes clamber up the sides. We brought Brex inside. While he was skeptical at first, he quickly grew excited by the noise.

August 3, 2012

Finding a new rhythm

[Warning: Mommy minutiae ahead...]

Wednesday was Brex's first day at the new daycare. Since it's near Jrex's lab, he drops off the baby in the morning, then I do the 5 pm pickup.

The good:

  • Love. So far Brex seems to be enjoying the caretakers. They are all loving him. I felt like a celebrity yesterday with various teachers (not in his classroom) telling me he giggles for them. He waved at everyone as we walked out. We'll have to work on his royal wave...
  • Conspiracy? Before beginning daycare back in January, he loved getting changed. We'd make noises at each other while I did it and he'd laugh. Then while at Ms. G's he started crying when I'd change him at home. I'm not sure what she/they do there, but none of the kids wiggle on the changing table. This morning, when I went to change him, he was happy about it again. Maybe it's me spinning a conspiracy theory, but I suspect that Ms. G was at least speaking to him very sternly.  
  • Knowing what happened during the day. They have a little book for each of the kids and record diaper changes, feedings and naps. At Ms. G's even if I asked, I only got a vague sense of what happened during the day. She did NOT welcome dropping in. She never said so, it's just if you asked about it, she got quiet and changed the subject and somehow you knew it would not be a good idea. 
  • Our social lives. There are two other couples we know with kids in the daycare and it's great to see them as we go in and out. One of them lives in the neighborhood. Once the weather cools off, we might go walking with the kids at the end of the day.

The bad:

  • Time. Jrex usually has to leave by 7:30 or 8 AM. It's really hard to lose that hour and a half with Brex. It means that instead of feeding him and then putting him on the floor to creep around and explore, I have to feed him, change him, dress him, pack breakfast/lunch and wave him out the door as Jrex drives off. Yesterday, I kept Brex home in the morning and drove him in close to 9 AM. It was nice to be with him, but meant I lost an hour and a half of work time with driving there and back twice. Not really a good option for long term.
  • The commute. This is what I thought would be hard. Instead of walking 2 minutes and carrying him back in my arms, it feels so mechanical to strap him in and drive home. The irony is that for much of the spring, I picked him up with the stroller and then we went for a 45 minute walk. Same difference in terms of physical time together, but feels less 'wholistic' or something. (Also, to put my whining in perspective, it's a 15-minute drive each way.)
  • Naps. Brex is in a class room where there's no solid wall between a toddler room on one side and the infant room on the other. None of the other rooms at the center have this set up. In between the two rooms is a shared kitchen and a shared changing area. The kids don't go back and forth, but the adults can. It means that there's ALWAYS noise. The first day he only slept for an hour at day care. When I picked him up, he was asleep within two minutes of our drive home. As I got him out of the car seat, rather than waking up when I opened the back door, he slept soundly even as I extracted the seatbelt from the fat fold in his neck. He barely woke as I carried him into the house and then was happy to fall asleep for two hours. Yesterday seemed better. He slept for two hours and managed our regular evening routine. As one of the daycare workers said, "The first couple weeks are hard, but after that, your baby will be able to sleep through ANYTHING." In the end, that's not a bad life skill to have. 
  • Food. Ms. G made homemade organic food for the kids. It was comforting to know that I could drop him off and she'd be giving him wonderful food. Now it's up to me to make the food for him and it's intimidating! What's appropriate, how much, etc. Fortunately, Jrex makes wonderful dinners and I just puree those and have baby food.
  • Socially. Working from home it was nice to have my day bookended with people contact. In the mornings I'd sit with the kids for a while as Brex settled into being there. It meant checking the big kids shoes for rocks, having them help me put Brex's stuff away in drawers (they competed to help), trying to say hello to each one, especially the quiet ones (I'm married to one of them and he was rarely noticed in a group setting). At the end of the day there were a couple other parents who'd linger and chat. Ms. G did various group bonding events through the year. The new place wants the parents in and out. At the open house, they didn't have us introduce ourselves or do any group building exercises. I think I will sign up to be the room liaison since, if you see the problem, you get to help solve it, right?
This feels much harder for me emotionally than I expected. I'm glad to get Ms. G out of our daily lives, but the loss of time with Brex makes me really sad. It's nice to see that he still seems happy and ok with it all. I like seeing him more connected with his Appa, it's just me who is grieving the loss. It's harder than him self-weaning; I was ready to be done with breast feeding, but I'm not ready for even less time with the little guy.

I do know that a nanny would not work while I'm working from home, so I don't feel regretful about that. I'm 70% happy that I'm working. One of my new friends stays home with her son and I think I'd go stir crazy. Her husband has to travel for work and is gone most of the week; I don't think I could handle the lack of peer stimulation. Also, I can see that Brex is much more confident socially, more flexible and more advanced in terms of independence and sleep than her son (who is just two weeks older than Brex). In the end, I do think we're doing what works for our family, I'm just letting myself feel my sadness about it.