Thursday, September 27, 2007

Brain dump

I have about a million posts that I've written in my head but that doesn't do you all much good, does it? So in lieu of actually composing said posts, which would take time I don't seem to have, I'm going to throw up whatever I can think of in bullet points.

• We met with a lawyer to make our wills. Also with a new financial planner. I AM SO OLD.

• Bat Girl is vocalizing tons, "mamamamama" and "dadadadada" and "babababa" and "gegegegege" and enjoying making weird gasping noises and blowing raspberries for fun. Question: I know it's too early for her to actually be saying her first words (eight months next week--holy shit!), but at what point can I safely assume that when she says "mamamama" (or, actually, "mehmehmehmeh") in proximity to me that she actually means "Mama"? A couple of times this week she has launched herself at me while saying "mamamama", but she has also yelled it as apparent code for "Get me out of this frigging high chair NOW, woman!", and also murmured it lovingly to the couch cushion, so I'm thinking not yet. She has said what sounds like "kitty" a couplel times but I'm pretty positive it was just a coincidence.

• Mommies suck, part 1: A couple of weeks ago, my husband was at the playground with BG. Playground was more crowded than usual because school was out for the holidays. BG usually has the sandbox to herself (I know! My baby plays in the sandbox! Though in this case I think "plays" means "eats sand") but that day there were a bunch of little boys, who started throwing handfuls of sand. One handful hit BG in the back of the head. My husband said to the boys, in a totally laidback way, "Hey, take it easy, there's a baby right behind you." One of the mothers gave him a withering look and said, "We don't do that here." Meaning, reprimand someone else's child. Now, come on. Even if that's really a local playground "rule" (which friends with older kids have assured us it's not), aren't there a million nicer ways this mom could have communicated that? PS: After the Incident, my husband said that all the other moms were distinctly colder to him, so he packed up the girl and went home. Ugh.

• Mommies suck, part 2: I got snubbed in the park by a group of stay-at-home moms--some of whom I KNOW and talk to every Saturday at the local farmer's market. They were having a birthday party not ten feet away from where BG and I sat on our lonely little blanket, and not one of them said hello or even acknowledged our presence. I didn't want to join the party, but a simple hello would have been nice. Why is it so hard to break through the stupid cliques? I know I'm not the only one with this problem. I feel like I'm that geeky girl in high school all over again. I do have a small group of mothers in the neighborhood who I get together with occasionally (our babies are all within 2 months of each other and we sort of came together while we were all on maternity leave) but most of my attempts to befriend other parents have been unsuccessful. I think I'm pretty friendly--I'm always commenting on people's cute babies or stopping to ask them about their cool sling or stroller toy--and there are lots of opportunities to meet people in our 'hood (see: farmer's market) but it just feels like there are these "in" groups that I'm not invited to. My husband, as a rare SAHD in a sea of moms, hasn't fared much better, but then again he's not especially interested in joining a mommy group. ;)

• We were going to sign BG up for a music class, which I thought would also be a nice opportunity to meet other parents. We actually took her to one of the free demo classes and she LOVED it--squealing, laughing, waving her arms, trying to crawl into the teacher's lap, really responding to the music. But...the cat's surgery ended up costing $1700. Yes. SEVENTEEN HUNDRED DOLLARS. So between that and the estate lawyer's fees, cash is a little tight right now. Hopefully we'll be able to do the winter session. (Because right after Christmas is when everyone is always rolling in extra cash!)

• Going to the in-law's this weekend. I so do not want to go. But the ILs are now jealous that we just went to my parents' (even though we saw ILs in JUNE and I hadn't been to my parents' in over a YEAR AND A HALF) so we "have" to go. Husband doesn't want to go either, but it's all about the guilt. It is a giant pain in the ass to pack up and travel with the baby and I hate that all of our vacation time this year is being spent shuttling back and forth to the grandparents. But MIL, as I've mentioned before, is quite ill, and I can't be the horrible bitch who deprived a dying woman of any chance to see her only grandchild. Sigh.

• Last night MIL told me she was having her carpets cleaned and Scotchgarded this morning. Given my chemical phobia, the timing could not be worse. Now I need to figure out how to keep a crawling and cruising baby off the floor for three days. Ha. I think I'm going to try to keep her in the bedrooms, which aren't being cleaned, and if she HAS to be on the freshly chemical-infused living room carpet, I'll put a quilt down or something to form at least a half-hearted barrier. If I'd had more advance notice I would have tried to persuade her to reschedule the appointment, or rescheduled our visit myself, but it was too late. If it was my own mother I would have MADE her cancel, but the MIL thing is always delicate. I think I need to be making a bigger deal about my anti-chemical, anti-plastic leanings--I've been pretty low-key about it because I don't want to freak out the ILs but all that does is result in them doing things like this that freak me out, because they just don't know.

Okay, that's all I've got for now. I'm sure there's even more but BG has been sleeping really crappily lately and I am so tired I think I might have a psychotic break.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Double happiness

I've been following the blogs of Thalia and Kath for I think literally years. They were among the first to comment on my blog, to make me feel like part of this community, to share in my ups and downs and my ultimate joy. They've each given so much, while enduring more than their share of heartache. And now, within 24 hours of each other, they have both received their own ultimate joy.

Congratulations, my dears. I'm so happy for you both.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

And now for something more serious

Shannon just wrote in response to a reader's question about how to raise a child with an awareness of diversity in a totally non-diverse environment (the question was more complicated than that, but you can go read it yourself). I started to comment but it was getting so long I decided to write my own (rambly) post.

I happen to live in a very diverse neighborhood in a very diverse city, so my half-Korean, half-white daughter sees and interacts with many black and Latino adults and children on a daily basis, in addition to the white and Asian adults who are the center of her baby universe. But when she is ready to start school, I know that the "better" schools in our city tend to be more heavily white, and even in this diverse city, it is incredibly easy to be lazy and fall into only interacting with people of your own race. Having grown up as an Asian American daughter of immigrants in a Midwestern, nearly all-white environment (in my high school of 1,200 students, 10 of us were not white. TEN. Nine Asian kids, and one black kid), with all the self-loathing and baggage that goes along with that, I am most concerned about Bat Girl having lots of interactions with other Asians, so that she can know in her bones what it took me a lifetime to learn: that her Asian features are beautiful; that her heritage is something to be proud of, not ashamed of; that anyone who talks down to her or makes fun of her because of her race is a damn fool not worth the dirt on her shoes. I want her to wear her identity comfortably, feeling it as part of the fiber of her being, not as something she wishes she could peel off (which I am ashamed to say I felt growing up).

But I don't want her to live in a white/Asian cocoon, either. I want her to grow up with friends of all races, as my husband and I were unable to do. I want her to be able to travel and experience different cultures. And I want her to love and appreciate human differences. It makes me a little uncomfortable when people brag that their kid "doesn't even realize that the little black girl in their class is another color"--there's a naivete to that kind of aggressive color blindness (in an adult, not in a child) that bothers me. We are not all the same and I would far rather my child recognize that someone has a different skin color, ask about it, and accept that as one piece of what makes the person who they are. After all, I am Asian--I am not white and I do not consider it a compliment if someone says they don't even think of me as Asian. Race is important. It shouldn't be ignored.

One thing that has been worrying me lately: If something were to happen to both me and my husband, we've mostly agreed (we haven't made our wills yet, gulp) that our daughter should go to his sister, who is at this point the family member best equipped to raise her. (My parents are too old, my brother is still in school, my husband's mother is terminally ill and his father is crazy. We don't feel comfortable asking any of our friends to take her.) But she lives in a tiny rural white white white town, with her (sick) mother who is a lovely caring woman but who says things like "you know, black people are afraid of dogs" and refers to Asians as "Oriental." And the thought of my beautiful girl growing up in an environment like that, where she will not know a single other Asian person, where her only contact with her mother's culture may be a half-hearted attempt by her aunt to take her to a Chinese restaurant once in a gives me a pit in my stomach. I know my sister-in-law would give up her life for my baby and would take good care of her. I've already told her that she has to keep my parents and brother in Bat Girl's life. I know that if Bat Girl loses both her parents, she will have much bigger issues than not knowing other Asian people. But it still bothers me. Which is maybe a sign that we need to rethink the whole guardian issue.

I don't know what I'm trying to say. I guess just that this race stuff is really, really hard. But we're trying.

Monday, September 10, 2007


So it's been kind of a rough week. Lots of good stuff, but some bad stuff and some just plain exhausting stuff. I'm wiped out.

Last weekend we took an extended long holiday weekend and flew to visit my parents in Smaller City, about a 2.5 hour plane ride away. It was Bat Girl's first plane trip, and I would rate the experience a C- overall. There was a lot of crying, a lot of fussing, mostly I think because, with her new crawling status, all she wanted to do was crawl crawl crawl, and being confined to a small space, even in Mommy or Daddy's lap, was not acceptable. Not to mention her ears hurting--though we did manage to make her take a bottle for most of the take-offs and landings, teaching her the important lesson that food makes the pain go away (a lesson all girls need, right?). I am thankful that there was no airplane pooping and so no need to attempt an airplane diaper change, my biggest nightmare.

BG hadn't seen my parents since she was 10 weeks old, so they were basically complete strangers as far as she was concerned. She's normally a pretty social kid, but apparently she's developing some stranger anxiety, because she wouldn't allow either of them to hold her--we got there on Thursday, and it wasn't until Saturday that she could hang out in my mother's arms without crying. She cried every time my dad tried to hold her, which I'm pretty sure broke his heart, until Monday morning--the day we left--when she took a bottle from him and feel asleep in his arms. (My husband thinks she's just scared of big men in general.)

That wouldn't have been too much of a problem except that the day after we arrived my husband did something to his back and couldn't pick up BG without searing pain for several days. So: combine that, plus the fact that she wouldn't let my parents hold or feed her for several days, plus the fact that she woke up 3-4 times a night thanks to the unfamiliar surroundings...I did every night waking, every early morning wakeup (5 a.m. due to time difference), put her down for every nap and every bedtime, held her, carried her, had her pretty much glued to my hip for four days. I was destroyed.

We came home on Monday and BG discovered she could crawl up steps. Tuesday morning I got up with her and played with her and fed her, as usual, before work. When I put her down in her crib so I could go get ready for work, she started wailing, then reached up, grabbed the crib railing, and pulled herself to a stand. And boy, was she proud of herself. Good thing we lowered the mattress from the highest setting the previous week, huh? She likes to pull up all the time now, but the trouble is she doesn't know how to get down, except by letting go, crouching a little, and doing a spreadeagle flop onto her back. I don't think she's figured out the cruising thing yet; right now pulling up seems to be just a means to get closer to Mommy. When I'm changing out of my work clothes at the end of the day, I often put her on the bed and then stand right up against the bed while I change my top (so I can grab her if she ventures too close to the edge). Now, whenever I take my shirt off, she crawls over, grabs my belly flab, and pulls up on my bare tummy. Nice.

The cat was acting weird when we got home, a lot of unusual litter box activity. Wednesday night she was yowling a lot, and when my husband got up to check on her, he said her ears were really hot and she looked like she was trying to pee everywhere. Thursday morning we got up and discovered she HAD peed everywhere...peed blood, in fact. (How did we discover this? Let's just say that I pulled on a T-shirt I'd had lying next to the bed and had a most unpleasant surprise.) Took her to the vet, and after keeping her overnight and running all kinds of tests, they determined she had crystals in her urine and a stone in her bladder, requiring surgery. So our poor cat, who has never spent a night away from home in her life, has been in the hospital since Thursday, because they couldn't do the surgery until today. We get to bring her home tomorrow. Surgery will run us well over $1000, including the tests and 5 nights board, and we have to change her diet to the expensive stuff you can only buy at the vet. Of course we'll spend whatever it takes, but considering we've been pretty strapped financially anyway, this is not a welcome development. Not to mention that our little kitty has to have surgery, under general anesthesia, and was probably miserable and lonely all weekend. Sniff.

This weekend was exhausting--I did get a break on Saturday when I went to a baby shower solo, but other than that BG was pretty much hanging on me all weekend. I think she's going through a Mommy phase right now--she wants to be ON me or in my arms all the time (except when she wants to be crawling, of course). On one hand, it's really gratifying, especially when I walk in the door at the end of the day and she squeals with joy and crawls over to me and reaches out her arms for me to pick her up. If she's on the couch with her dad and I sit next to them, she will literally fall into my lap. On the other hand, it is really fucking draining to never get a break. My husband worked all day Sunday, 10 am to 10 pm, which only made it worse.

And I think she's teething, or something. She's still waking up a lot, where she used to go all night or maybe only wake up once. I'm not too worried about that, since I figure it's a sleep regression thanks to all the physical advances and everything will settle down...eventually. But yesterday evening she cried for, I'm not kidding, an hour and a half. Screaming and arching her back like she was in pain, kicking, pushing at me with her arms. At first she calmed down when I held her (so I held her or slung her for, like, two hours), but after a while nothing helped. Not singing, not rocking, not food, not diaper change, not something cold to chew on (she won't chew on anything, and in general she hardly ever puts anything in her mouth--is that weird?)...holding her didn't make it stop, but putting her down made it worse. And then it happened again this morning, for 30 minutes. Starts up out of nowhere, ends just as abruptly. We can't feel or see anything coming up through her gums, but I can't imagine what else it could be. And the fact that she won't put anything in her mouth makes it kind of hard for us to help her...all the frozen washcloths and wooden teething rings in the world don't help if the baby won't bite them. She's rejecting solids a lot lately too, maybe that has something to do with it?

Aaaand I'm working late tonight. So, fun all around. Blech.

Monday, September 03, 2007

More trouble

After last week's first real crawling, Bat Girl has added to her repertoire:

• a downward dog-ish pushing-off with her feet that, when done with her hands on an elevated surface (say, Mommy's hip while Mommy is lying on her side on the floor), suspiciously resembles pulling up;

• after being assisted by my mother to stand with her hands on the edge of my parents' couch, several cruising-like steps along said couch;

• crawling UP TWO STEPS from our sunken living room to the foyer. Yes, she cried the whole time out of frustration and I think semi-panic at not knowing exactly where she was taking herself, but I know she will soon figure out that this feat can be repeated. Let me say it again: My seven-month-old baby CRAWLED UP STEPS.

Crap crap crap. Large prison-like baby gate contraption has been ordered. Pray for me.