Monday, September 29, 2008

hit and run.

been a while since i've posted. oops.

anyway, we had a much better week this past week. we've gotten a lot more smart about getting beatrix the sleep she needs, and it's improved the quality of life at our house dramatically. she takes her naps, still only a little while at a time, and we all get to enjoy her awake time a little more than before. there's a palpable lack of tears in the house from both bebe and mommy, and daddy doesn't fear coming home from work so much. how did we do it? well i'll tell you one thing- it wasn't from following the instructions in some dumb-ass book.

i like to believe that most problems/issues can be resolved by breaking them down to their simplest form or forms. occasionally there are certain variables that due to the nature of the issue cannot be removed, but for the most part, problems seem insurmountable because we allow too many of those unnecessary variables to cloud up what's really going on. babies are built for this kind of nonsense because there are an endless number of variables from baby to baby and endless number of 'experts' who all write books to publicly disagree with each other, and not to actually be helpful. expert 'a' says items one through ten are to be ignored but extra emphasis should always be placed on item eleven. expert 'b' says one through seven are crucial, while totally ignoring the existence of items eight, ten, and eleven and stating that nine is only important if one falls into an obscure (but of course important) demographic that expert 'c' says doesn't occur anywhere but in the remote rain forests of brazil (i hear there are some of those left). then some a-hole from the new york times writes an investigative report that debunks all contemporary theories and the next round of books get published. but i'm not bitter. really.

when your baby isn't sleeping, you ask yourself 'why.' and somewhere between the asking and the answer, all manner of useless crap works its way into the formula. soon there's so much other stuff for you to focus on you're not sleeping either. food allergies, textile allergies, noise sensitivities, light sensitivities, odor sensitivities... any or all of these things could be considerations. part of the problem here is that there are no wrong answers. for the majority of babies, and even assuming that all babies are different from one to the next, these *could* all be factors. they are all things that will upset the routine of most babies, but are they, or any one of them, responsible for what's keeping your baby awake?

any one of those things could play a part in the overall problem. let's stop and look at 'death' to illustrate my point. LOTS of things can kill you, just ask my wife. objects of rock and ice from deep space passing through our atmosphere and landing on your head would certainly cause 'death.' and it's something you should be mildly concerned with. there are thousands of such objects that make it through our atmosphere each year. LOOKOUT!

however, more people get killed crossing the street each year than by being hit by meteors. and the most common reason for those traffic deaths is simple: people who are not watching where they are going walk directly into the path of a speeding automobile and get creamed. LOOKOUT!

and in this case of 'death,' there's a simple reason why that person got hit: they failed to pay attention. to their surroundings, to where they were headed, to the people around them who all stopped trying to cross when the light changed, to current fashion trends, etc.

now let's pretend that 'a sleepy bebe' is that automobile. and the fuel for this automobile is 'lack of sleep.' and the more 'lack of sleep' you give to 'sleepy bebe,' the faster she's able to go (or, the less she's likely to sleep). now we, as the parents, are that doomed pedestrian, so that speedy auto is not our friend. but there we are, walking along, not paying attention, and POW! that kid runs us down every time. so what's the simplest way to avoid being hit while crossing the street? watch where you're going. which is exactly what we had been sucking at. we couldn't for the lives of us figure out why we kept getting hit. and instead of doing the simplest, most effective thing we could do, we considered every other thing we could, egged on by the doctors and experts of course. i.e. what is causing 'death' to occur in this instance?

we must not be wearing the right shoes- CRASH! we're trying to cross the street at the wrong time of day- POW! we're not eating a balanced diet- screeeeech....WHAM!

man, we almost got away on that last one, but we got hit at the last minute anyway! what are we doing wrong? and has anyone seen my other shoe?

well, as it turns out, diet did (we think) have something to do with it. part of bebe's lack of sleep stemmed from bad gas and spitting up because something mommy was eating would get inside her little body and wreak havoc. she'd wake up all night long grunting and covering herself in milky puke. fun! but not so easy to sleep through.

but what about once we had eliminated the most common food allergens, thanks to an insane two week diet mommy has been on? she still wasn't sleeping easily, wouldn't take naps, and would scream all day long. now what? actually, one of the points that the 'sleep expert' made (to his credit) was that parents who have a difficult time getting their kids to sleep are often missing the sleep cues their child graciously provides. he shoots, he scores- we were totally missing her sleep cues. and like little doorways into dreamland, these cues would open... and then slam shut. and the more we missed, the smaller those doorways got, and the louder they slammed shut.

when babies get sleepy they become quiet and withdrawn. this is your cue to scoop them up, get them to a dark, quiet place, and gently woo them to sleep. whenever bebe got quiet and withdrawn we'd look at each other and say 'this is awesome! she's just sitting there, zoning out! she's like a cute little vegetable, just sitting there not requiring anything from us. not even soy sauce! as if we were going to chop up her little vegetable self and make a tasty stir fry!' an hour later, when she was overtired and screaming bloody murder, we'd be singing a different tune. probably 'highway to hell' by ACDC, or something similar. this made for one of the worst weeks we've ever had with her: as she was transitioning to this slightly more advanced sleep routine, mommy and daddy were bouncing down the street towards that busy intersection, huey lewis on the walkman, blu-blocker shades on, not a care in the world. LOOKOUT! WHAM!

well, things are different now. we look both ways and hold hands. and at mommy's insistence, we all wear helmets. hey, you never know.

this weekend we had regular naps, and the awake time in between was the best. who knew that once your baby gets the sleep she needs, she'll be happy and fun the rest of the time? i should write a god damn book. it's even easier putting her down for the night, and thanks to mommy's diet she's sleeping for longer blocks between feedings. this baby stuff is a freakin' piece of cake. enough with the analogies- on to the pics!


she's really into teaching these guys a lesson. and like any good tormentor, she enjoys her work.

more with the camera?

you guys don't quit. seriously.

c'mere, i'll give you something you can take a picture of-


alright, that's enough. i'm beat.

little mouse gets to know little mouse:

and tries out a new outfit! polka dots are the thing, apparently.

hey beebs, how do you feel being a walking billboard for your mother's political beliefs?

'i'm afraid i don't understand...' uh-huh, my point exactly.

on sunday, mems and teed called and asked if they could come for a visit!

mems got in some quality snuggle time...

and thanks to some naps, beatrix was happy to spend time with her grandparents.

one last note: regarding my other blog (whatever we lose, link above)- there are now daily updates going on there. the stuff that's going up now is polaroids starting with the real old-timey 3x4 peel-apart photos. they're all taken with the pro-pack, which is essentially a pinhole camera- no real focusing/exposure control. sometimes you get lucky and the photos come out, but usually it takes a few tries. so much for instant. but when they do, they tend to have a liquid, dreamy quality. apart from the instantly developing photo and negative, it's pretty bare-bones photography. after that stuff will be the polaroids that most people recognize- square image with the white border, the kind the camera spits out and you shake and watch develop. fuji still makes the 3x4 film, but polaroid recently stopped all production of the other type, so whatever is out there in the world is all that's left. too bad because the images are cool, but ultimately an expensive indulgence compared to 35mm film or digital...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

what weekend?

wow, this weekend flew by! i guess they all do, these days. it was another two days of trying to figure out how to get beatrix to sleep for longer than a half hour at a time. there were some successes, and there were some setbacks. the cream we got for the rash on her face seems to be working, and she's scratching at herself a lot less. the stuffies, however, have not abated. this is in spite of the nightly humidifier, the saline up the nose, and the allergy diet mommy has been on. it could take a while for any of those things to take hold, and we're willing to be patient, but there's nothing worse than having your baby choke/suffocate in your arms and being helpless to stop it. it's pretty terrible. anyway, saturday mommy and bebe went to visit her aunties kate and alden. they had a surprise for bebe: they're getting engaged! she was very excited as has already picked out her outfit, which she will of course not fit into by the time the wedding rolls around. growth spurts are a bitch, bebe.

before mommy and the beebs head out, they play a game called 'toe kisses.' it involves laying bebe against mommy's legs, head at the top, and taking bebe's feet and kissing them. pretty simple, and it cracks bebe up. it also helps gets things moving in the waste disposal unit. after a round of toe kisses it's usually time to change the diaper.

looking at bebe's head from the back is like those pictures they have of the sun, with jets of flame shooting from the surface and out into space. in bebe's case, it's just a couple long hairs.

after mommy and bebe got back from auntie kate's and auntie alden's, daddy took bebe out for a walk in her stroller, hoping to keep her asleep for a while. bebe has been slacking in the sleep dept. and racking up the 'f's' in naptime class. this is the only characteristic of hers so far that lends doubt to her actual origins. mommy and daddy love to sleep. well, they used to anyway.

'must wake up! must look at stuff. and cry. fight! fight! must... must...'

'too strong... the motion of the stroller, too strong... can't... stay... awake...'

daddy was able to get her to sleep for about two hours. it's a good thing there are so many quiet, pretty side streets in jp. daddy knows them all by now. on sunday, it was time to go to grammie and grampie's for the family birthday party! if you've been paying attention, you'll have noticed that all of my siblings and my mom have september birthdays, with my (oldest) younger sister jamie and my mom born on the same date!

so, beebs, you're all dressed up.

'yes. i'm ready for the party. got my tights, got my dress... ready to go.'
great- let's just buckle you into your car seat there and then we can get going.

'whoa, hey, whoa- nobody said anything about being strapped into this thing. you know i'm not cool with that...'

'i gotta get the hell outta this thing. crap, i can't even roll over yet. well, this is just great. i thought i was just hanging out here until it was time to go. i thought one of you'd pick me up and...'

' daddy, mommy's still in the bathroom. there may still be time- let's see... aha! hide me in the piano, she'd never think to look there!'
beebs, you know i can't do that.
'et tu, brutus?'
you know what, stop being so dramatic. besides, you're going to fall asleep as soon as we get rolling anyway. you won't even know where you are!

'i, i think you may be right. in fact, i feel a little tired now. yes, yes i'm getting sleepy.'

'strap me in! what are you waiting for! maybe i'll even poop in my pants!'
dare to dream, beatrix. dare to dream.

she sure loves her auntie ashley. she always has a smile ready.

auntie jamie gets one too.

and once again, grammie was a baby-hog. it was her birthday, so we let it go. but sooner or later she's going to have to learn to share...


Saturday, September 20, 2008

two for one (post #1)

someone's having a birthday today (whether she likes it or not)!


where to begin with jamie beth? riding her big wheel naked down the middle of our quiet street when she was three? putting lipstick on the cat? thinking of jamie as a little girl, i remember awesome haircuts with a questionable taste in music. or is that the other way around?

speaking of memory, i've got pretty good recall. my memory goes back a ways, maybe back as far as two years old, though closer to three than two. i have some clear memories of life before my sister jamie was born. i remember talking with my mom about jamie being born, how she was in her belly and was going to come out. i remember mommy's lap getting smaller and smaller at our house in exeter, nh. as a precursor and premonition to the births of both ashley and seth (which we've already covered here), i was enthused over the impending birth of my little sister. i have no idea what it was in any of those cases, but in each one i earnestly looked forward to their arrivals, and jamie beth was the beginning of that trend.

she had a lot of hair!

did you say i only get half the x-mas presents now? thump. 'wahhhhhhhh!'

the happy family, circa '77.

she was kind of... funny looking, at least in the beginning. she cleaned up nice, though.

i don't have too many memories of us as a pair when she was real small. i think i mostly went on my merry way, except when we were being herded into olan mills to be tortur- er, have our portraits taken.

just let her sleep, for crying out loud!

what a cutie...

jamie and nudity were best friends when she was little. i have two distinct memories of this union. one is the story of my mom receiving a phone call from a concerned neighbor: 'did you know that your daughter is riding her big wheel down the middle of the street, completely naked?'

the second is from when i was eight, making jamie about four. we had a house in the woods with a huge back yard, and built onto the back of the house was a second story deck with stairs that led to the ground. my friend gene and i were playing in the yard when all of a sudden there was the sound of the screen door to the deck sliding open with a crash. we looked up in time to see jamie, completely naked and soaking wet, fly down the stairs to the yard, my mom close behind carrying a towel and yelling for jamie to stop, stop! although it was years before the technology was created, i like to remember this one in matrix-style slo-mo film:

gene and i stand completely still. i have a look of utter disinterest on my face. i look up from the hole we're digging long enough to register the scene. then, i go back to digging. gene stands completely agog, seeing a naked girl for the first time (he had an older brother), mouth open in a raucous smile of surprise, all wet lips and crooked teeth (he was a drooler, if memory serves). jamie runs a complete circuit of the outer yard, water streaming from her body, a smile on her face but something else as well... determination perhaps? she's moving ata good clip and she's thinking of a way to get a second lap out of this, but my mom has now locked in on her and closes fast. she's grabbed and wrapped in the towel by my mom, and as time snaps back to the rapid regular pace we're accustomed to, gene's voice echoes in my ears as i dig.

"your sister's naked!"

this is jamie with her doll, joey. she also had a doll she named vagina. as if that wasn't enough, there's a funny story that goes along with that:

it's me, jamie, and my mom in line to check out at the supermarket. my mom is pushing the cart with jamie riding in the seat. i'm at my mom's side. a little old lady pulls up beside us.

old lady: aren't you the cutest little thing (or something similar)! and look, you have your dolly with you! what's your dolly's name?

jamie: vagina!

old lady: excuse me?

jamie: vagina! you know, like- [motions to her crotch]

old lady: oh.

me: [tugging on mom's pant leg]- i didn't know jamie could speak spanish!

she also once asked santa clause for a penis, 'like my brother has!' you would think since she wanted one of her own she would have been nicer to mine, but once when i was starting to pee standing up she walked in on me, took one look at what i was doing, and dropped the toilet seat down on me. a few days later, while taking a bath together, she told me she wanted to marry me. and these two instances sum up quite nicely the dynamic we have lived with our entire lives. hot and cold, love and hate.

i lost more goddamn star wars figures in that woodpile behind us. it just always looked like such a cool place to make the rebel base. all those nooks and crannies, just like rice krispies. except it was more like a roach motel for toys, where they went in and never came out. that's our dog in the middle. his name was zeke, and he was our first pet. if you play the game of making your porn star name out of the name of your first pet and the name of the street you lived on, jamie and i could be zeke bootyfarm. no lie.

jamie and i spent a lot of time together in the early years. there were plenty of kids in the neighborhood and we each had our own crowd, but when you're in the house by six, and in your pajamas by seven, you make fast friends of anyone around. but we genuinely enjoyed playing together. whenever she wasn't attempting to nefariously destroy my boy bits, that is. jeeze.

the beach was a big part of our childhood, and to this day i think jamie could stay in the water, well, all day. coming out only for the promise of ice cream.

there's nothing 'sweet' about our thunder.

there's no leak, she just slept with her umbrella for a while. oh, like you've never climbed into bed with your umbrella. whatever.

great story about the day we took this photo. again, dragged to olin mills for some dumb photo shoot. my mom lets me pick the shirt i'm going to wear, probably as a compromise, as long as it's within reason. so i pick the shirt i'm going to wear, which is black, with blue sleeves. you may be able to see that along the shoulders is a row of silver buttons that were actually snaps. either mom didn't buy this shirt, or she had forgotten this fact. so we get to the 'studio' and it's our turn to go in. well, i need to get ready for my picture, so i start snapping the sleeves off of my shirt. i got one whole sleeve off before she caught me. and she flipped out. jamie waited patiently for me to finish being pissed about putting the pythons away, and then put on her pretty face. i had to rally cuz' no way was she going to show me up. million dollar smile, keep the change. i still think it would have looked tougher without the sleeves.

this is jbeth right before she sets the record for youngest base jump in north america. for those of you that don't know, base jumping is like skydiving, only it's done from stationary objects such as radio towers, sky scrapers, cliffs, and bridges. just look at her- nothing but confidence.

in one of the previous posts i had writen that jamie and i had a complicated relationship. in the beginning we were best buddies. we played together, often had sleepovers in each other's rooms, read together, watched our favorite tv shows together... she wanted to be around me, and i wanted someone to follow me around. we moved to connecticut the summer i started fourth grade. jamie was starting first grade and we would be walking to the same school. her classroom was at one end of the school and mine was at the other. every morning, holding hands, i would walk her to the door of her classroom and we would hug and give each other a peck on the cheek before going our separate ways for the day. then, each afternoon, we would meet at the door and go home together.

i'm sure this went on for at least the first year, maybe the second as well. but somewhere after that, somewhere in there, we started to separate. i don't want to say that we grew apart, because i think that the issue was actually growing into each other. we were under each other's skin, in each other's faces... it got to the point where we couldn't be left alone for fear we would do serious harm to each other. i remember kicking her in the mouth once and making it bleed. another time she hit me with the phone across the face and i couldn't form words for ten minutes. we had the most intense, knock down, drag out fights you can imagine. and probably some you can't imagine. we chased each other with knives. and one time, we had one of those fights where she started it, and as i began my retaliation (entirely justified) my mom came home and caught me. i of course got yelled at, threatened with punishment, while jamie smirked out of reach. i got so mad i was getting the shaft that i just started screaming at my mom. as i yelled, i heard my voice start to move far away from me, and my vision began to tunnel and darken. i was so mad i was passing out from the exertion.

we just couldn't leave each other in peace. this lasted really until i was about eighteen. the summer i graduated from high school i moved out of the house to live at our dad's house. i was working third shift at the supermarket next door to where he lived so it made sense. drive twenty-five minutes or walk two. easy peasy. and wouldn't you know, once we weren't living on top of each other, things cleared up between us. there wasn't any definitive moment of reconcilliation or anything. just a gradual re-acquantice and acceptance of one another. when we were little our dad used to say that we should learn to get along because some day all we would have is each other. i used to laugh in his face when he said that. well, as much as you can laugh in someone's face, but actually be doing it behind their back.

but y'know, parents have this annoying way of knowing more than kids do, and he was right. god, i hope he's not reading this.

she's so pretty.

and she's always been generous and willing to share. as kids we'd buy penny candies and long after mine were gone, she'd bring out her stash and re-divide what she had left for the two of us. thanks for all those cavities, little sister.

jamie and me in our roles as elder statespeople of the clan. just lookit' them rowdy youngins'. you can dress 'em up, but you cain't take 'em anywheres.

so by now, you may have noticed that a lot of this post, while celebrating jamie, is also about me. there's a reason for that. the reason is this: i'm awesome. just kidding, the real reason is because so much of my life has been about having her around. before jamie, i was me. but after jamie, i was me. i didn't really have anything to measure up against before she came along. and by came along i don't just mean her birth, but really the maturing process she's gone through to get to where she is. we've grown up together and i like to think that we are the people we are because of the emulation and rejection of one of us to the other. i think that who i am is responsible for her being who she is, and vice versa. now, i'm not saying i can take credit for anything; i never had to tell her what the cool music was, or who wrote the good books, etc. in fact, to this day, i think she has pretty dreadful taste. not my fault. just sayin'.

but we're definitely two peas in a pod, as our dad likes to say. thanks for being the other pea, jamie beth. it would have been a awful lonely pod without you.

and thanks for being the best auntie #1 to beatrix marie.
i love you, happy birthday!