Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Moving Hell

We're in the middle of it right now. Boxes everywhere. Clothes everywhere. Little bits of paper and debris everywhere. The house is in shambles. And we're out of here in two days.

In the meantime, Joey is kicking my ass in ways that Zeke never did. I had some very mild nausea at this point in the first trimester with Zeke, but these days I'm like an involuntary bulemic. I'll be hungry, so I'll eat something that seems appetizing, and I'll be all, "yay! it's staying down!" And then half an hour later I'll be on my knees, hugging the toilet. Or I'll be hungry, and absolutely nothing appeals to me -- all I feel is queasy. Or I'll pass a Chinese restaurant and all of a sudden I'll think to myself, "if I don't have some beef with broccoli, I'm going to die." So, essentially, I'm either puking, scarfing, or sneering at the refrigerator with narrowed eyes, as if to say, "Et tu?"

The movers are coming tomorrow, and then we clean and finish up and fly out on Friday. So I probably won't post anything until we're in Denver. It feels very strange to think that as of Saturday, my life with be very, very different.

Friday, February 13, 2009


There's a tendency among my close friends to name their fetuses (feti?) in utero. Kathleen's was Fergus. Mindy's was The Bean. Elizabeth's is Pickle. Once we knew that Zeke was a boy, we called him Zeke, but before then we called him The Little Monkey (which we still call him from time to time).

It imbues the baby-to-be with a sense of identity. And makes it easier to blame him if you really decide to indulge in that craving for cheesecake with raspberry sauce.

"Don't blame me, the Monkey is the one that really wants it. I'm just feeding your child."

I got a positive pregnancy test 3 weeks ago. Today I went in for an ultrasound to make sure the fetus's growth and heartrate are where they should be. Before Zeke, I miscarried right at around 6 1/2 weeks, so I've been a little skittish and nervous.

But the fetus measured a perfect 7 weeks 0 days -- exactly right -- and the heartbeat is nice and strong. When I saw the picture on the ultrasound screen, I burst into tears. Jason did too, I think.

I like to think of this baby as a little kangaroo in my pouch. So we're calling him Joey.*

*Because of the strong tendency towards boys in Jason's family (he's got a brother, his brother has 2 sons, his father has 5 brothers, and on and on), I'm assuming it's a boy until proven otherwise. But Joey is cute for a girl, too.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

They make it look so damned easy on Nanny 911

Zeke is learning words. Mama. Dada. What's that? Na-na (for banana). Ni-ni (for night-night). I'm sure there are others in the works, i.e., he thinks he's saying something the same way every time, but it still sounds like gibberish to me.

My absolute favorite, however, is "uh oh." Hearing "uh oh" from a toddler who has kinda sorta figured out how to use it in context never ceases to crack me up. Because if you're hearing "uh-oh," but you've turned your back for a second so you don't know the basis for said "uh-oh," you know that you have to get primed for some experience that will test your parenting skills. You know nothing truly horrible has happened, because generally if that's the case, there's crying and screaming involved. It'll be more on the level of, say, dropping his bottle nipple-down while he's riding in his carseat, so that milk drips onto my leather upholstery and the car eventually smells like spit-up. Or running around during naked baby time and dropping a deuce on the antique rug.

Also, it's likely going to be a test your ability to pretend to be firm while gnawing off the insides of your cheeks because whatever the kid has done is actually really funny.

Zeke's latest example of totally typical toddler behavior is to randomly decide that some of the food items on his tray are not to his liking, so he'll pick up a piece of sliced peach or a ravioli and fling it to the side in a highly dramatic fashion. If I didn't abhor the behavior, I'd have to give him props for doing it with a sense of flair.

Not grasping the notion that "uh oh" is more appropriately used for accidental events rather than volitional misdeeds, he'll then say, "UH-oh!" Again, it's all very dramatic. The kid could have a future as an actor.

I will turn around from cutting his hot dog into pieces and say, "what happened, baby?" just in time to discover that he is throwing food on the floor -- a practice that is frowned upon in our household.

And I will grab his wrist and look at him and say in a firm voice, "No! We do not throw our food down!"

And I will release his hand. And he will look at me, with the slightest twitch in the corner of his mouth as if he knows he's fucking with me, and without breaking eye contact, slowly reach for another piece of food and very deliberately drop it onto the floor.


And once again, I'll say "no, Zeke!" And I'll also make the futile effort of trying to explain to him that you don't get to say "uh-oh" when you've thrown something down on purpose. As if he, a) understands the distinction, or b) gives a shit.

But as I'm talking, he's looking at me with a twinkle in his eye and starting to grin, and he's so goddamned cute that I start to grin back, and before I know it we're both cracking up. I mean seriously, how can I resist this face?

I think I'm in trouble as a disciplinarian. Uh-oh.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Beaten down by logistics

I think I should have joined the Foreign Service.

When I was growing up, we moved every couple of years, frequently to far-flung locations. Cyprus to Virginia. Virginia to Venezuela. Virginia to Israel. Virginia to India.

These moves were unquestionably massive undertakings, involving all of our furniture, art, rugs, tchotchkes accumulated from years of living around the world, cars. But in the grand scheme of things, they were pretty easy, because the government took care of everything. They scheduled the movers, and on a given day armies of strong-armed lads would show up to box up our stuff and cart it onto big trucks. We had sea freights (which took a long time) and air freights (which arrived quickly). In the meantime, if we needed something to sit on or sleep on until our stuff arrived, the embassies had warehouses full of furniture for our use. In fact, if you didn't want to take your own stuff, or if you didn't want to take all of it, you could simply stock your house with embassy furniture for the entire tour. I think we did that in Israel -- some of our furniture was ours, but I remember alot of it being embassy stuff.

And of course, the government paid for everything.

I'm at the point where I would kill for that kind of arrangement.

Because my life these days is consumed by my list of things to do, very few of which can be taken care of with just a single phone call. Hiring the movers involved days and days of phone calls, compiling lists of furniture and effects, estimating weight and cubic footage, coming up with dates. Renting a house in Denver (Kathleen did most of the legwork on this), including poring over listings on Craigslist, figuring out which neighborhood would work. Renting our house here, including interviewing prospective tenants, finding a property manager, drafting a lease that met all of Hawaii's quirky legal requirements, organizing a walk-through. Renting a car in Denver to cover the time between when we get there and when our cars arrive. Same for renting furniture, since our stuff won't be there until about a month after we are. Setting up utilities. Getting Zeke into daycare. Then I spent 4 hours on the phone yesterday trying to work out how to ship the dog (long story short: our flights connect through Las Vegas and require a change of airlines, which makes shipping an animal prohibitively complicated, so we have to ship him as unaccompanied cargo on another airline that flies direct, and have Kathleen pick up the poor mutt at the airport).

Of course, in addition to the complication of organizing it all, there's the cost. Which is huge. Like, 5 figures. Luckily, we're getting a big tax refund this year, and my parents have been incredibly generous about helping to pay for the move (they're very sweet, plus they benefit by bringing their grandson closer to them), so it's doable. But we're still going to start our new life saddled with massive debt.

After this, I'm done. I'm not moving again for a long, long time. If Jason decides he can't be happy in Denver and needs to move closer to the ocean, he'll have to go without me.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Oh, the standards, how they have plummeted...

There's definitely an element of parenthood that involves tolerance of all kinds of disgusting bodily fluids. From the day my son was born, he has spit up on me, puked on me, bled on me, pooped on me, and blown raspberries on me. It just goes with the territory.

I've known so many people -- usually men -- who, before having kids, insisted that they absolutely could not deal with changing diapers, and no matter what anybody said, they would figure out a way to let the wife handle the bulk of that parenting responsibility.

And I just smile and nod and think to myself, "Mmmm hmmmmm. You just keep telling yourself that, sweetie."

Even Jason was like that. He knew that there was no way I would ever let him foist all diaper duties on me, but he still expressed his doubts that he'd ever be comfortable changing Zeke.

But of course he figured it out and by now is a pro.

I think I knew I had the proper tolerance for disgustingness when Zeke was about a week old. I was sitting in the living room with my mom, holding Zeke after giving him a bottle. And I guess he had a little more than his teeny belly could hold, because as I was resting him against my knees and cooing at him, he suddenly opened his mouth and deposited about 6 ounces of regurgitated baby formula down the front of my shirt. My reaction: my eyes grew wide, I looked down, unable to quite comprehend what had just happened, and then I just started to laugh.

"Honey, you're a natural," my mom said.

But this latest example of how low my standards have fallen might alarm even her.

Last night, we were doing our nightly ritual of the pre-bath game of naked baby chase. Zeke ran into my room and down towards my bathroom at the end of the dressing area. He was standing there giggling when I looked at the floor and noticed that he had deposited two little poop nuggets on the bath mat. They were perfectly formed little poops, easy to clean up, so I just picked them up with some toilet paper and dropped them in the toilet.

No big deal.

Meanwhile, he took off on another circuit of the upstairs part of the house.

After a few minutes, I decided it was time for Zeke to get in the tub, and I picked him up and sat him on my right shoulder.

You can probably see where this is going.

I walked with him into the bathroom, plopped him into the bath, and then sat on the floor next to the tub and watched him splash around.

At one point, Jason looked over at me, gave me the Survivorman face, and said, "what is that on your shoulder??"

I looked over and lo and behold, there was a little greenish-brown smear on the shoulder of my shirt. It was Zeke's poop.

"Didn't you smell it?" Jason asked, incredulously.


And the really horrifying thing is, a part of me debated whether to get up and change right away, or to wait until I was ready to take a shower before bed.

Thursday, February 05, 2009


(I wrote this partly because it's what's going on in my life, and partly for my friend Lisa, who is pregnant and going through some normal pregnancy anxiety -- Lis, this is what you have to look forward to. It's going to be great, and you're going to have so much fun.)

Zeke is going through a particularly delightful stage right now. While of course I love the kid no matter what, lately he just seems so happy, so funny, so enthralled by life, that it's infectious.

When he turned one, he started the transition at school from the infant room to the wobbler room. And while it's been relatively smooth, it took awhile for him to feel completely comfortable. He would cling to me and cry when I dropped him off, he had a rough time settling into a nap schedule, and when I picked him up, he would freak out and run to me, as if he were afraid that I would turn around and leave again if he didn't grab me immediately.

At home, all of a sudden he didn't like bath time very much. This was huge, because he had always loved taking a bath. Splashing around and giggling had been one of the highlights of his day. But now he was crying and reaching to be taken out of the bath after two minutes, so Jason and I were doing our best to wash him and rinse him in 30 seconds or less. And bedtime was difficult -- he couldn't settle on a bedtime and he couldn't settle on a wake-up time, so some days he went to bed at 7 and woke up at 5, and others he went to bed at 9 and woke up at 7 or 8.

But then, in the last two or three weeks, something changed. Something clicked in him, I guess. Now when I drop him off at school, he goes right to his teacher, turns around and blows me a kiss. When I pick him up in the afternoon, he's happy to see me, but he's also happy to keep playing with his friends. He's napping from 11:30 to 1:30 every day. He goes to bed at 8 without fail (we stick him in his crib then regardless, but it's rare that he fusses. Usually he just says "na-na" -- his version of "night-night"-- and rolls over and goes to sleep).

He's learning more and more words. He figured out how to jump with both feet off the ground, and is now showing the other kids in his class how to follow suit. He loves bath time again, splashing and laughing and jumping around in the tub. Plus there's the pre- and post-bath naked baby game of "chase," in which Zeke runs around upstairs and Jason and I run after him or he runs after us or we hide and then jump out and yell "boo!" as Zeke collapses in a fit of giggles.

He loves being outside, inspecting plants and trees, patting the dog, going to the playground and going down the slide by himself, running everywhere.

And he's just so insanely sweet. He'll be playing and then all of a sudden he'll run over to Jason or me to give us a hug and a kiss. I'll catch his eye in the rear-view mirror when we're driving somewhere, and he'll give me this huge toothy grin and say "hi!" He melts my heart.

Essentially, everything is perfect. He's doing great. He's comfortable with his life.

And in two weeks I'm going to uproot him and he's going to have to make another huge transition all over again. New house. New school. New friends.

I know he'll be fine. Kids are incredibly adaptable. Hell, my parents schlepped me all over the world, and I did just fine.

But a part of me feels incredibly guilty and anxious about taking him out of his comfort zone.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009


My life is consumed with stuff these days. What stuff we're taking with us. What stuff we're selling on Craigslist. What stuff we're donating to Goodwill. How to get temporary stuff to use in Denver before our shipment of stuff gets there.

It's exhausting.

The move is coming along swimmingly. It's pretty much completely organized. We've hired movers for the household effects and the cars, the house is rented, we've signed a lease on a place in Denver, and I'm in the process of organizing the house.

The worst part is my office.

I have two filing cabinets full of stuff to cull through. I've filed the tax returns and organized the related documents we need to keep, so now it's down to making piles. And my shredder is working overtime -- I've almost burned the motor out twice.

And then there's the difficulty of figuring out what to keep and what to throw out.

I am not a pack rat. There is nothing I like more than going through old things and throwing most of them away. But I'm finding myself sentimental about Zeke's "artwork."

Every day at school, the wobblers do an art project. Even at the tender age of 1, there is an explicitly established curriculum. For example, this week, one of the things the kids are learning about is the mail system. Don't ask me how 1 year olds can possibly have any concept of sending or receiving mail, but I'm not a professional educator, so what do I know? Anyway, this week's art projects all involve the mail. On Monday they glued pieces of construction paper together to make a mailbox. On Tuesday they used crayons to scribble on "envelopes." Today they're playing with stickers to represent stamps. You get the idea.

This is one of my favorites -- Halloween project with footprint ghosts

Thanksgiving project. As far as I can tell, the teachers cut out pictures from the Safeway sale flyer and the kids glued them onto a piece of paper. Wonderfully random.
"My Family" -- not sure if I should be concerned about this one.

Don't know what the theme was, but it employs Australia's sporting colors, so we may have to stick this one in a frame.

My feeling is that these "art" projects are fun ways for the kids to work on motor and sensory skills involving gluing and working with paper and all that, but there isn't anything particularly original or creative about the finished product. It's very cute, but I certainly don't delude myself into thinking that when Zeke was smearing glue on a particular piece of construction paper, he had any idea of what he was creating or any editorial input into the final result. He's not exactly on the verge of cutting off his ear and changing his name to "Vincent."

But I can't bring myself to throw them away. They're so funny and cute, and while I know they will serve no purpose other than to sit in a box and gather dust, it seems worth it for the once every blue moon that we'll drag them out and look at them when Zeke is 7 or 15 or 25.