Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Favorite Things

In spite of my totally jangled nerves, lately I've been really good at remembering to take time and appreciate the things that are not going wrong in my life. Thought I'd share.

My Favorite Moments Of Each Day:

-- Our morning routine: half-wake to baby stirring, pull him close to nurse and cuddle. Fall back asleep. Wake up later because he's kicking me in the stomach, babbling "ABABABAMAMAMA!" Haul myself out of bed, put on a shirt, potty, brush my bangs into a hairdo fit for a sane person, brush my teeth. Go get Declan from the bed, who acts like he's never been happier to see someone in his life. Diaper change, kisses, plop baby into Exersaucer. Make breakfast, eat, retrieve baby, start day!

-- Taking off restrictive clothing at bedtime. Seriously, there is no better feeling. (I obviously don't get out much.)

-- Carrying a dead-to-the-world baby to bed, crawling in next to him, and pulling the comfy comforter over us. (Hmm... so far all of my favorite moments involve the bed. I do love me some sleep...)

-- Baby bathtime. He was in a terrible, cranky mood this evening, so I stuck him in a bath. All smiles! Got him out... back to crying. He was just too tired.

-- Kisses. This isn't really "a moment" because it happens at least 20 times a day, but my heart leaps every time Declan dives for my face and slobbers all over it. Baby kisses will never get old.

Riding the Silly Bus

Today Declan and I went on a big adventure. (Mom - Thanks again for lunch, and I'm sorry that I forgot to regale you with these tales when I got to your office. I was so distracted by everyone doting on Declan that they slipped my mind!)

I got bored and started going stir crazy this morning. I needed to get out of the house or I was going to have to resort to cleaning my room or something. So I got out of the house.

Now I am a planner. I may not seem like it, because I'm also scatterbrained and lazy, but I if I don't have a plan before I embark on an adventure (especially if I'm alone) I will probably end up crying. No joke. Anyway, so I gathered up all of our stuff, looked up how to get to my mom's office on the CapMetro trip planner, strapped the baby into a carrier, and set off to introduce Declan to the wonderful world of public transportation.

We were on the bus for maybe three minutes before a woman boarded who was babbling to herself. As she walked toward us to take a seat, she yelled to the driver, "Don't go yet! Let me sit down first! There's a BABY over here!" She said it the same way that you would yell to your friends, "Guys! Come back! My foot is caught in this quicksand!" I mean absolutely panicked.

Without missing a beat, she sat down next to me and said, "It would have been a shame if he'd started the bus while I was standing. I would have fallen and squished your kid."

I promise. Those exact words.

I just sat there, half in shock, half in fear, as she launched into a rant about how nutritionists and dietitians are all anorexic and bulimic themselves, and have no right to tell her what she can eat at buffets. ...Yeah, I didn't get it either. She then spilled everything that she was carrying - at least one full newspaper, a photo album, and a shoebox full of miscellany - all over the floor of the bus, bent down to pick it all up, looked up at me and said, "Well, are you going to help me?"

More shock. More fear.

It was hard for me to bend down with Declan strapped to my front, but I picked up a few things. I tried to hand them to her. She asked me to hold onto them for a second. So I'm sitting here holding this less-than-sane woman's eraser collection and photo album full of bus passes, comics cut out of the newspaper, and shopping lists. She's telling me all about the time that she graded TAAS tests. I wonder if she actually did grade tests, if she was sane enough once that they let her have some say in children's futures. Her story morphs into a tale of her old boss, a black woman who went to Duke University. I was only half listening - I was busy giving help-me eyes to the normal looking people surrounding us - but apparently this Duke woman stifled her (crazy lady's) creativity. I don't know.

One girl, about my age, caught on to my help-me eyes and tried to butt into the conversation, asking how old Declan was. I told her, smiling. But I wasn't going to avoid the crazy lady that easily. Oh no. She started telling me about the time that she was a college professor. I won't give you all of the details, because she seriously talked at top speed for a good ten minutes about this. But the dead giveaway that she wasn't actually a professor was one word - Syllabus. The first couple times she said it, she said "sibilus," which was funny enough. The subsequent 400 times (okay, maybe four) she said "SILLY bus." Made me giggle. I wasn't scared of her anymore, just amused and still kinda shocked.

I finally got off at Guadelupe and 14th, ready to transfer to another bus which would take me to Mom's office. Unfortunately, the bus that I was supposed to take was unmarked. And we all know how I do without very clear instructions - Not Well. I would prefer it if the buses I'm supposed to get on have big flashing signs on them that say "NATALIE! This is your bus!"

Anyway, I ended up walking from 14th and Guadelupe to 6th and Lamar. I interacted with a few people on the way, but they mostly just wanted to see Declan / talk to Declan / compliment Declan's hat / awkwardly reach out to touch Declan and be DEE-NIED.

At one point, walking down 6th street, I was racing this couple. They were super rich and skinny, and smelled like they bathed in Chanel perfume. I was sweaty. And kinda waddling. I let them get ahead of me, but then at a crosswalk they were too busy chatting about whatever rich, skinny, beautiful couples chat about as they meander downtown, and they didn't see the walk sign. So I breezed by them and took the lead. A couple of blocks later, they passed by me, one on either side. For a split second I was engulfed in a thick cloud of perfume and pretentiousness. Yum. Then they turned into Whole Foods and the race was over.

We had a pleasant visit with mom and the Office Ladies, lunch at Sweetish Hill, and a completely successful and uneventful ride back to the house.

And that is the story of our great adventure.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Hello, Norco, My Old Friend...

Yesterday evening, pressure started building up in my ear. At first it was just annoying - sounds were muffled, it kinda hurt. By the time we were done kicking off Becky's birthday season with our family dinner at Rudy's, my ear hurt pretty bad. I could hear my heartbeat like the drums of war.

Back at home, I writhed on the couch, pouring warm olive oil into the offending ear. We went on an emergency 10 pm run to Wheatsville to get some herbs. My dad made me eat a tortilla doused in Rooster sauce, a spicy Asian hot sauce. I will never eat Rooster sauce again.

By midnight, the pain was sharp. Nothing had worked. Well, the Rooster sauce had momentarily taken my mind off of the ear pain, but only because my mouth was on fire, and hurt worse than my ear. I knew I wasn't going to get any sleep. Unless...

I dug that miraculous orange bottle out of the back of the medicine cabinet. The super-strong painkilling narcotics the hospital had given me after I had Declan were going to come to the rescue. Sure enough, I took one and was out like a light.

I woke up around 4 am, when it wore off, to a searing pain on the side of my head. I stumbled to the kitchen, popped in another Norco, grabbed some crackers (those drugs are brutal on an empty stomach) and went back to bed.

At some wee hour of the morning, I woke to a loud POP. My ear started leaking all over my pillow. My eardrum had burst. If I hadn't already been pain-free, I'm sure that would have been a great release of the pressure. But the drugs were still in effect, so it was less miraculous, more just icky. I grabbed a cloth diaper that I keep next to the bed for spit-up, stuffed it under my head, and went back to sleep.

Now I'm deaf in one ear, but no longer reliant on narcotics.

And that is my tale of why I am forever grateful to the nurse that convinced me that I shouldn't forgo the Norco prescription just because my hoo-ha didn't hurt that badly.

Friday, March 26, 2010


Sorry I've slacked. Life has been crazier than usual.

Aaron was planning to come down and get us yesterday, pack up today, and we'd all drive up to Iowa tomorrow and live happily ever after.

Unfortunately, Aaron ate at a not-so-reputable Chinese buffet on Monday night, and fell terribly ill with food poisoning. Then to top it all off, he wrecked his truck yesterday morning trying to avoid a deer while he ran to get medicine. He's not hurt, but the truck sure is.

So now we have a huge repair bill, a sick man, and no way to move to Iowa. At least not until we save up a bunch of money so that my dad can rent a truck and drive us up there. Or until Memorial Day, when Aaron has a three-day weekend.

So send some prayers / positive thoughts to my sick puppy up in Iowa. He's feeling very discouraged right now.

The good part of this debacle is that I'm in Austin for a while longer. I get to spend Easter with my family, and the prettiest time of the year in Texas. So lets make plans, have a picnic, take advantage of my unexpected extension!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

One Week

Out of necessity (read: $$$), the process of moving is on the fast track - I'm leaving in one week.

Seven days to temporarily say goodbye to Austin and everything in it. Seven days to pack up my life, to put everything in boxes and bags, load it in the truck, and drive it 17 hours away, to our little house in a little town where the only store is a Wal-Mart and everyone drives Pontiacs.

(By the way, if anyone has a good answer for the Pontiac mystery, I'd love to hear it. I just cannot figure out for me why Pontiacs are SO popular in the midwest and so unpopular in Texas. These are the things that keep me up at night.)

Aaron is driving down next week, we'll pack stuff up, say our goodbyes, hopefully get one last night's sleep, and drive back. It's going to be tough on him, all the driving, but the end result is us all being together.

In the meantime, I'm packing down here and Aaron is getting our house set up there. We're renting a little fixer-upper in downtown Grinnell. It doesn't sound too bad from what he's said on the phone, but I have a feeling he's sugar coating things a little bit. It's 3 bedrooms, 1 bath, beige carpet, screened front porch, nice back yard, peeling white painted exterior, 1 car garage... your basic little old Iowa house. We're going so start saving up a "fixing fund," so that we can repaint the exterior, rip up the carpet, install central AC/heat, etc.

I am so nervous about moving into a house I've never seen. I trust Aaron completely, but his standards of houses and apartments are considerably lower than mine. So when he says "It's nice," I have to wonder exactly how nice it is.

But I don't have time to waste on being nervous. I have to do so much in the next week, I know it's going to fly by. I have to transfer the lease to my dad's name, call about giving away my porter job, try and get Declan in to see the doctor, pack all of our stuff, and say goodbye to everybody. The first two sound quick and easy but they take up a lot of space in my brain because I'm nervous about them.

Luckily, Declan is going through a wonderful, angelic phase of his life right now. He's all smiles and giggles; he brightens my day and makes things easy on me. He'll be five months tomorrow and is learning so much every day - yesterday he sat up all by himself for almost a minute before tipping over!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Guess who's asleep on the couch?!

It's so nice to have him back.

Also, he got the factory job in Iowa! It pays really well. We're psyched. But we're also talking about Declan and I moving up there to join him. Less psyched about that. But with this new job, we'd have money for me to go back to school. And eventually, we'd come back down here. I made him promise.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Prodigal Daddy

He's on his way!

Aaron left this afternoon, he's going to stop and sleep somewhere and then arrive here in the morning!

I can't wait to see how Declan reacts to being back in his daddy's arms. Every time he hears Aaron's voice on the phone or the computer, he lunges toward it, smiles, and tries to eat it. So I'm expecting a similar reaction to him in person. Lunging at, smiling, chewing on.

Aaron said that his interview went very well. He expects them to call sometime next week. Woo!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Well That Was Fast

At eight o'clock, I was feeding the baby cereal, Skyping with Aaron, and feeling just fine, except for a little tickle in my throat.

At nine o'clock, I was all but passed out on the couch with a fever of 101, hacking my lungs out, and so weak that I could barely pick up Declan to nurse him.

At ten o'clock, I was deliriously chopping potatoes, carrots and onions WHILE nursing the baby (very dangerous, bad idea, never again, I know) because I needed to start the pot roast. Still feverish, still hacking.

At ten fifteen, I was crying because the giant frozen hunk of meat won't fit in the crock pot. So I scooped out some of the potatoes and shoved it in there. It looks like a frosty red iceberg, sticking up sideways and jagged from a sea of veggies.

Dude. Told you I was delirious.

Luckily, Declan is only coughing a little bit, and I know he's not so feverish because his head feels like a cool little bowling ball resting in my inferno of an elbow.

I'm hoping that this sickness disappears as fast as it appeared.

Mommy Guilt

It was a good weekend.

I gave myself bangs. I was trimming my hair (cutting off those crispy ends!) and decided that I needed a change. Bangs it is.

Went to Nadia's 5th birthday party. It blows my mind that she's already five. Feels like she was born just the other day. Watching all of these little cousins grow up os so fun. I feel like I haven't changed all that much since Gabriel was born (I was almost 13 when he was born... so I hope that I have changed, it just doesn't feel like it) but these kids have grown so much.

Sunday I hung out with my mom and Katherine. It's so nice to relax somewhere other than my own house.

Then last night Declan started coughing. I was near tears because I felt so guilty for taking him to Sue's and the party when Gabriel was running a fever and coughing. The whole time we were around Gabriel, my mommy alarm was going off, but I ignored it. Just like I ignored the mommy alarm when I had Declan around Beck while Beck had a cold (in my defense, I was told it was allergies). Now my poor little man has a low fever and a cough, although it's better this morning than it was last night.

Declan was so fussy this morning that he kicked my computer and bowl of oatmeal off of the table during a fit. The bowl shattered, the computer cracked (only minorly, and it seems to work fine, but I was panicked), oatmeal got everywhere, and I had to take a deep breath and count to three. I know it must be hard to be tired and kinda sick, but the flailing and kicking is so not necessary. And then as soon as I got over my stuff being kicked, I felt guilty for being mad at him. I looked down at the screaming, red-faced, frantic little baby, and my frustration faded to a dull roar. I just wanted to comfort him, shush and sway, anything to make him feel better.

Will I ever have a day in which I don't feel guilty for something I've said, thought, or done?

I find myself wondering how much of a difference in Declan's childhood it would actually make if I could go back and do things the way I wish I had done them.

Would he be sick less if I didn't bring him around sick kids, washed my hands more, took him to the doctor more?

Would he grow up to be a calmer person if I didn't get angry when he kicked?

Would he be a happier child if I didn't let him cry a little while I finished my shower?

I think that the answer is probably no. That in the long run, these kinds of things won't be influential, they won't scar him for life. I hope I'm not just making excuses for myself.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Midnight Ramblings

Can't sleep tonight. I had a fun evening over at Julie's house eating pot roast and watching the old Alice in Wonderland. No wonder I didn't like that movie as a kid, the entire thing is one long, creepy acid trip. But it was fun to see it again after many years. And of course, great to see Julie. Declan loved it, too; he smiled a lot and chewed on their whisk. I think whisks are his new favorite toys.

Anyway, seeing Julie again got me thinking about the people that know me best. And it's a tough call. I'd put them in this order, roughly.

1. Declan. Don't know if he counts, as he's not really conscious of my "personality," but he definitely sees the real me, 24-7. I mean, he sees me in all states of undress, crying, talking to myself, swearing and jumping around like an idiot when I stub my toe on the playpen for the four thousandth time...

2. Aaron, duh. Lower than Declan because I do sometimes try to act sane around him. Aaron witnessed my full turn around from college party teenager to stay at home mom, up close and in person. I'd say he's seen me at my worst. Which means for all of you who think you've seen me at my worst... it gets worse.

3. Julie. Higher than my other friends mostly because of the length of time we've known each other. We're going on ten years now, which means that she was around to see me go through an awful lot of awkward phases. And an added bonus for going to camp together, because I am super genuine at camp.

4. College friends. I think I really came into my own during college. Became comfortable with my personality, my body, became more confident and had more good friends. We lived together, we ate together, we had many a deep, philosophical discussion. We also had many an argument, many a drink, and many a OMG-please-help-me-make-flash-cards-or-I-will-for-sure-fail moment. While I have changed a TON since leaving Grinnell, the person who I was while there is still a big part of me, even if I don't let her out of her cage very often.

5. Family. I am pretty much myself around my family, but I'm usually not put in situations in which I do anything noteworthy. I feel comfortable around them, but I definitely censor myself somewhat, and, lets face it, there are just some topics that I do not want to discuss with the same people who changed my diapers. Also, I never ever talked about boys with family until college. Sometimes I wonder if my parents thought I was a lesbian or something, and if they were surprised when I started talking about boyfriends. Because of all the things about myself that I have questioned, my sexuality was never one of them. Just, um, FYI.

6. High school friends. I honestly wish I could go back and have a do-over of high school. It wasn't terrible. But it could have been so much better if I had the confidence that I gained in college. I feel like high school friends got the watered down version of me.

Other people fit in there in-between numbers. Like, I thought camp friends were probably a 5.5, because I was more genuine and outgoing at camp than I was at school, but still pretty straightlaced... then I remembered that one trip to the beach, which bumps a few camp friends up a couple notches. Ah, the beach.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Cooped Up

Our first week of Aaronlessness has been... uneventful.

He's keeping busy in Iowa (where it is 12 degrees right now - I'm not allowed to tell him how warm it is here!) building a brooder for the chicks to live in.

Declan and I are just hanging out at home. I'm learning to cook, after being cooked for my whole life by Mom, then Grinnell College, then Aaron. I'm not bad at it, I just need to learn some of the technical things. Like "don't stir rice while it's cooking." And "freezer burn is a real thing and it's not tasty."

Tonight my dad and I are going to Golden Corral because they sent him a coupon for a free buffet since it's his birthday on Thursday. Mine will be like, nine bucks, but that means we'll be eating for $4.50 a person. We spent a good chunk of time last night thinking of other dinners that are about $4.50 - Sonic double cheeseburger and fries, large Thundercloud sub, box of Chik-Fil-A chicken strips - we're definitely eating like kings for the price we're paying. So I'm pumped.

I'm also probably pumped because it will be the first time I've left the house since yesterday afternoon (okay, not the house house but the condo complex, all of which I consider mine). Sometimes I feel like I'm getting cabin fever. I can't wait for it to warm up so that I can spend hours by the pool, which is by far the best part of the condos. My bed with the down comforter comes second, and then it's a tie between Sue's and Grandma's couches for third.

I'm worried about all of the earthquakes. Haiti, Japan, Chile... Texas? We're on a big fault line, ya know.