Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Halloween is not even close to the top of my list of favorite holidays, but I'll take it. There's candy and costumes, which are kind of fun, except that I haven't dressed up since the year I started dating Bucket. I love mid-to-late October for so many reasons, but the biggest is that I met, became "serious" with, and married Bucket in October. Our first date was a Halloween party. I was Glinda the Good Witch, and he was a puppy. I'm so serious. If you know him, you know how incongruous that costume is. He had a black headband with ears sewn to it, some spots painted on his face, and a black t-shirt and jeans on. That's a lot more fitting with his personality - minimum effort for maximum effect, right?

He was the dj at the very first fraternity Halloween party I ever visited. I had two dates for this party, and neither one was him. His date was a different girl. And yet, somehow, after a few too many games of Jungle Juice Pong (I don't like beer), I was dancing with him. It mystified me then how the dj could walk away and still provide music, but I know now it was the magic of computers.

That was nine years ago. We've had some stumbles and we've taken our (verbal) swings at each other, but all in all, it was a very good Halloween then, and it'll be an even better one tonight.

Plus we have Llama to dress up until she can complain and tell us no. We're not trick or treating because I kind of think it's shameful to take a kid who can't eat candy out to get candy - everyone will know it's for me. And I can buy my own. So she'll answer the door with me in her octopus costume until she's tired of it.

May all your treats be tasty and your tricks cheap to clean up.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I bleed money.

Last night Bucket and I took Llama to the mall to have her six-month pictures taken. Six-and-a-half-month pictures, really. But Bucket was in Canadia (as you may remember from my previous whining) and he asked me to wait. So I did, because I'm a good, compliant wife. Riiiiight.

Anyway, we got some in her costume and some in a cute little dress I just bought. No shopping addiction here. There were a couple naked ones, but nobody needs to see her crooked little bum except us, thankyouverymuch.

Oh, you want to see them? I don't know about that. This is my Llama we're talking about here.

Maybe I should change her name to Octopus.

Note that I have an iron grip on her hand, while Bucket is content to let her hold on to him. That's the fundamental difference in our parenting styles. I would wrap her in bubble wrap (leaving holes to breathe, of course) and hold her tightly forever, while he lets her grab whatever she wants. We're going to be coming to some sort of compromise on that sometime before she goes to school, I imagine.

But I digress.

There's a Llama on the loose, and she is coming for you.

Many thanks to Stacey at Picture People. Llama really liked her, and she got some adorable pictures of my girl. Of course, Llama likes everyone, including random men at Joann Fabrics who follow us through the store creepily. But that's a topic for another day.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The inmate has taken over the asylum.

Yesterday I said I wasn't going to say anymore about how Llama doesn't sleep. Well, I lied. I stupidly said that thinking that it could not get worse. I was wrong. Last night, she got up every 20 minutes for two-and-a-half hours, and that was when I poked Bucket and tagged him in. Thank God for tag team Llama wrangling.

So he dealt with her for an hour before it was my turn again. Finally, at 3:30am, she went to sleep. For the grand total of two-and-a-half hours. If you're counting, that means she got up at 6am. And then slept on Bucket for another hour before he had to go to work. But she would not go back to sleep with me.

We're on our fourth nap of the day. She keeps waking up every 20 minutes. Is she hungry? I don't think so. She eats lots and lots during the day. Is it teeth, you might ask? Maybe. But it's been teeth for two months, and she was sleeping better before. Is she sick? Maybe. She's snotty. But that might be teeth. No fever. I gave her Motrin anyway (yeah, send my name in for Mother of the Year) in hopes that it would knock her out long enough to sleep for more than 20 minutes. It didn't. That brings me to my theory on why she can't seem to sleep.

It's crawling and pulling up. My kid can't take one step at a time. She is not quite crawling and she's not quite pulling up, but she's working hard at both. Even in her sleep. Sometimes when she cries at night, I go in and she's stuck up on her hands and knees, rocking and screaming, with her eyes closed. I think she might even be sleeping when she's doing it. Last night, I pulled her legs out from under her (nicely), covered her back up, turned on her soother, and left. Over and over again. Until I tagged Bucket in, and he scooped her out to cuddle her.

Yeah, cuddling is against the plan - against the plan of every sleep book I've read, against the pediatrician's advice, and against the advice of every well-intentioned older lady who talks to us. But you tell a daddy that in the middle of the night, when his baby is crying and he knows he can make it better.

I know I say a lot about Bucket and how frustrating he is. I also need to make it abundantly clear that he is always, always working to make our lives easier. And that he is a wonderful, involved, extremely loving dad.

And Llama has both of us right where she wants us. She is in charge. God help us when she's 14.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Enough with the anger, on to the funny...

Llama slept last night, sort of. That means she only got up three times in eight hours. I can't believe I consider that a good night. I'm going to buy a book today that I hope will help. It's called The No Cry Sleep Solution and we certainly need one of those. Bucket can't take it to hear her cry. And to be honest, I'm not that great at it, either, which is why I get so defensive and angry when he tells me I'm being mean to her. Updates will be made as to Llama's sleep progress when the sleep pattern around here improves. Until then, I'm not talking about it because I am tired of being angry about it.

So let me talk about some things that Llama does that make me laugh. She can sit and she can get up on her hands and knees and rock. She likes to jump in her Jumperoo, but only in the morning. If you put her in it in the afternoon or evening, she gets angry. She babbles, and I swear that she said Mamamamamamamamama in the car yesterday. It warmed my heart, even though I think she was talking to her stuffed dog. She eats everything she can get her hands on, especially if it comes from a big person's plate. She is obsessed with chewing on tags. She is a smiley little girl and she likes to "talk" to strangers.

Yesterday, I took her grocery shopping. (This is not one of those boring stories where I tell you what I bought and what I cooked with it.) I take her grocery shopping with me every week, because a stay-at-home-mom takes her kid everywhere. Anyway, I did not know that she had mastered grabbing things off a shelf until I turned my back on her for one minute. Probably not even one minute. Anyway, I turned back around to see that she had ripped a hanging sale tag off the shelf and was eating it with one hand while she waved a smallish jar of peanut butter with the other. She was very, very proud of herself. I laughed. And then I took her newfound toys away and directed her to play with the toys on the cart cover, but she jumped up and down in the seat while yelling at me, which made me laugh more. So I was the lunatic in the grocery store laughing at the baby throwing a fit. Good times.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Sometimes I want to run away and be myself... today is one of those days. Already.

It's not even 8am and I am so frustrated that I just want to drop Llama off with Bucket at work and go to sleep. Alone. And probably in a hotel room, because this house looks like a pigsty. Remember how I said it was like living with a wild beast? I was wrong. Living with Bucket is like living with a tornado. A hungry, messy tornado. Combine his tornado-ness with our tiny house and the Fisher-Price showroom of a living room, and I cannot take it. It's frustrating to clean up, because I know at 5pm, he will walk through the door and leave his shoes in the hallway, his pants on a chair in the living room, a hat on the kitchen counter, and a shirt on the bed. Then he'll put wrenches and pliers on my counter, right where I'm trying to cook, and he'll get mad when I move them. He'll open the mail and leave the junk on the table instead of throwing it away. And I'll just walk behind him cleaning up until I get angry enough to go on strike, which only means that for a week I'll let the mess pile up and then I'll have to clean it all at once.

And Llama doesn't sleep. She got up every. single. hour last night from midnight to 7am. That means I don't sleep. Bucket can't hear her cry, somehow, even though she's across the hall. That is, he can't hear her cry unless I'm trying to follow the instructions from her doctor, which are to let her cry for 5 minutes when she wakes up, then go in and soothe her without taking her out of the crib, and then leave and let her cry "as long as it takes." Then Bucket hears her and pokes me. When poking doesn't get the results he's looking for, he starts telling me that it's not fair to her. Then he goes in, turns on her light, takes her out of her crib, and brings her in bed with us. Because he doesn't care if she ever sleeps on her own. He's not here half the time, so what would it matter to him? And when he is here, he's not the one to get up with her. He's not the one with the feedbags hanging off his chest. Which, by the way, she does not need in the middle of the night. She's just used to eating at night (because I didn't stop this when I should have...), so she thinks she should eat five, six, seven times a night. And Bucket thinks it's mean when I deny her.

I am so crabby today. Probably because I don't sleep. And Llama is crabby because she doesn't sleep. Bucket's a lucky man; he gets to go to the office.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

It kind of feels like living with a wild beast.

So Bucket came home on Wednesday, and it's been three full days of sharing the house with him. There are obvious benefits, like a new screen door, someone to carry in the heavy parts of the groceries and take the dog out in the rain at 11:30pm, and having someone to cook for (because I won't cook for just myself - I eat a lot of chicken nuggets while he's gone). There are some irritants, though. I cannot tell you how annoying it is that he leaves every single cupboard door open. He rumbles through the house making noise constantly. He has to have the volume on the television about twice high as I do. He eats half of the leftovers and puts them back in the fridge with the lids unsealed. Etc, etc, etc.

I know that these things are all minor. And four days ago, I would have begged for him to come home and wreck the place, leave doors open and waste food. But now, I'd like for him to be more like me. Still here, but neater. Quieter. Less obstinate about getting out of bed in the morning for the alarm clock or the baby.

Did you know that his sleep is important? Mine isn't. His is. It's an important distinction to make, you know. I kid, I kid. He doesn't actually think that. It's just his attitude and the way he expresses it that gives that impression.

Last night he stayed home with Llama while I played Bingo. Before you laugh and say that Bingo is for old ladies and they play it at churches and nursing homes everywhere, let me just tell you that I won $300. That's the most income I've had since April. And it's mine, all miiiiiine! Even if I had won nothing, the value of an evening where I was just an adult hanging out with her friends is immeasurable. You can't imagine how crappy it starts to feel when I'm just Llama's mom.

So I like having Bucket home, even with all the annoyances he brings. He makes us (both Llama and me) happy, even when we're running around behind him holding a dustpan and a laundry basket and closing cupboard doors. More importantly, he's a big reminder that I once was young and cute, that I am interesting and fun, and that there is life beyond Llama that I need to be getting involved in. And I love him. There's that, right?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I'm afraid to jinx anything, but...

According to my husband, he should be home tomorrow. This is great news. He's been gone for... wait, let me count, it's been that long... let's see, he left on September 28, so that means that he's been gone for 24 days. By the time he gets home tomorrow, he will have been gone for 25 days.

Our daughter has only been alive for 187 days.

While he was gone, I celebrated our wedding anniversary alone. Our daughter learned to sit by herself and take a few little crawling steps before falling on her face and crying angrily. She turned 6 months old. I drank an entire jug of wine. I'd like to say that I'm kidding about that last one, but I'm not. Let's just say that I don't do well alone in a house at night, and I think I should be commended for only drinking one jug in almost a month.

On the other hand, I learned that Llama (that's what I've decided I'm going to call our daughter here in blog-land) and I are fairly self-sufficient. We have a nice routine going and I'm afraid that Bucket (what I've decided to call my husband here in blog-land) is going to come home and screw it all up. We like to sleep until 8am. He leaves for work at 6:30. Right there, we have a conflict. We like to eat dinner early, between 5 and 6, and he doesn't even get home until 5 on a good day. More conflict. I think we can all three manage to alter our schedules enough to mesh once again. Until he leaves for his next adventure.

All things considered, I'd much rather have him here than... wherever he is now or wherever he's going next.

The other thing I'm very reluctant to jinx is my admission to grad school. I have to say, though, that I asked some people at my former workplace to write me letters of recommendation, and two people did so in a timely manner. One person, however, for whatever reason, did not. Then she stopped answering my emails and taking my phone call. I was desperate when I asked Bucket's BFF (do boys have BFFs?) to write one for me. He likes me well enough, I reasoned. He has a degree in education and he uses it, and I'm applying for an education program. I'm even applying to the very school from which he graduated.

I had no idea that he would write me such a glowing recommendation. He says he's "had the pleasure of knowing me" for 7 years. He says I'm intelligent, capable, dedicated, personable, committed, creative, compassionate, and that I have perseverance. This is a guy I was afraid to talk to for the first year and a half that I knew him. When I finally found my voice, I said, "Hi." It took another year before I was able to talk about anything of substance with him.

And then I got pregnant with Llama. My pregnancy was difficult. Not as bad as some people I know, but difficult nonetheless. I relied on Bucket, his family, and our friends heavily for support because I didn't think I had it in me to keep going some days. My job was stressful, I threw up constantly, and my blood pressure just kept rising. All I wanted was to stay home and rest, for just a day or two. And then the doctors told me that I had to stay home, to lay down, to rest, to prepare myself only one meal a day and have other things brought to me. All I wanted to do was get up and get out. People like Bucket's BFF (and some others who I will acknowledge one at a time) were kind and generous enough to talk to me, to email me funny things, to visit, and to (on a rare occasion when it was permitted) go out to dinner with me. I'm eternally grateful. Now I'm grateful to him for this letter, too.

I have a lot of reasons to be happy today. I'm a very lucky Llama Mama.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Cakes, cheating, and a touch of schadenfreude.

Yesterday, we celebrated my mother-in-law's birthday. And as is my tradition, I waited until the last possible second to get her gift, even though I had the idea already. (It was a Fiestaware pasta set.) It was a very nice dinner, even if the cake was... interesting. One of the recipes in the family cookbook had a large, glaring error that did not become apparent until the cake was baked. Apparently "4 teaspoons of baking flour" is not nearly the same as "4 teaspoons of baking powder," and if you add extra flour to a recipe instead of baking powder, the cake does not rise. It tasted kind of like Play-Doh, only more dense and with icing.

Anyway, Sarah and I were at the mall after church, doing our last minute shopping, when we ran into a girl with whom I used to work. She was having lunch in the food court with a man who was most conspicuously not her husband. She was totally unashamed, and I wouldn't have noticed her at all if she hadn't called me over, so she was not in hiding at all. (I guess you wouldn't go to a mall if you were hiding your boyfriend.) She proceeded to tell me that she and her husband were getting divorced as a result of her acquiring this boyfriend, but that she and the husband were living in the same house because both of them were unwilling to make any overture that the court might interpret as "not wanting full custody" of their two daughters.

I cannot imagine living in such a situation. First, to have a boyfriend and a husband at the same time seems like a lot of work to me. Not just the obvious "work," but the constant pull of both people on your time would be exhausting. Then, living in a house with someone I was married to but allegedly "hated," yet still shared children with would again, be exhausting. Trying to explain to my children why Mommy was going on a date while they stayed home with Daddy - again, exhausting.

You heard it here, folks. I love my husband and can't wait for him to come home (that's a subject best left unaddressed right now) but if I should ever feel differently, I won't be getting a boyfriend. Too exhausting.

Of course, once I heard all this hot gossip, I had to call a friend who knew this person and tell her the whole story. My friend is engaged and living with her fiance, and his point of view was that if such a situation ever were to happen to him (highly unlikely, in my opinion), he would make her life "a living hell," and he would have hot girls over all the time. He also suggested that he would buy a hot tub and host hot tub parties full of hot girls and beer.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Very First Entry

I feel like I should say something profound. I have a blog now. Blogs have been cool for, what? Like ten years? I finally joined the techno-rati.

Next step: Emailing the address to people who I won't be ashamed to have know what I'm thinking about sometimes. And trying to make sure that this doesn't become a facsimile of my diary from third grade, where I detailed what I had for dinner and whether I liked it or not. Also, I made lists of what I expected my husband to be like.

So, you know, nothing profound tonight. Maybe tomorrow.