We live with a five year old, which means toys appear in unexpected places when we’re not looking. Like, say, a stuffed lion materializes at the top of the stairs, and perhaps you don’t know this until you round the lower banister to head upstairs for a shower.
My startle response is pretty daggone subdued. Spouse’s, on the other hand… Let us just say that silence, as Nuala was working on her homework and the baby and I were observing, was pierced by a shrieking “AH! AHFUCK!!” I snapped my head around, anticipating a flock of bats descending the stairs and driving us out of our home again. But what I saw was Spouse, head lowered, doing his best to calm himself down.
He thought the lion was a cat “waiting for me” or a rodent of some sort. Or, for a split second, that “bats could turn into that.”
I haven’t laughed until I cried in many, many months. That felt pretty good.
“Remind me of your baby’s name again?”
[Good Lord, are you serious?] “BEATRICE!”
“Oh, Beatrice. Pretty name. I guess people don’t name their daughters Beavis anymore, do they?”
[DID THEY EVER?!] “No, I guess not.”
The summer is really and truly over. In five days, my semester starts. I have hit high gear already and won’t be shifting down again until mid-November. I think I’m about to find out just how bad an idea it is to teach two sections of a course on top of my regular full-time work week, and on as little sleep as a 4 1/2-month-old allows when she’s teething, teething, always teething, and rolling, rolling, always rolling.
There’s little else to do besides grit my teeth and get through it, though. We’re all sharing a room still, and for the foreseeable future since we can’t turn on the 2nd/3rd floor AC with the attic still gutted, and we can’t finish out the attic because we’ve run short on funds and even if we swiped the credit card again for some drywall, are we really going to start that project on a weekend where the highs will reach 97 and the humidity is suffocating? I think not. In any case, since we’re all still sharing a room I can’t exactly let Bea whine herself back to sleep for fear of waking the bigger girl who wakes at 5:30am and is dead tired by the end of the school day. So I nurse Bea back to sleep. The great drawback in this situation is that she has taken it as a sign she should nurse every 2 hours or so overnight. I guess the benefit is that it helps keep up my supply.
“You should start her on some cereal! That’ll help her sleep through the night!” Yeah, okay, except she’s totally not into it. Nuala was ready to rumble at 5 months, and we hoped hoped hoped that it would do some good for her sleeping situation, but it didn’t. We seem to be at exactly the same spot we were at 4 1/2 months with Nuala, which is to say not sleeping. I’m glad I have this blog so I can go back and remember correctly that the cereal made no difference at all and yep, the “trick” is just hanging in there for her brain to do the developing things it needs to do to tell her body to sleep.
I’ll only speak for myself here, but I think Spouse feels it too: hanging on by our fingernails and ticking off the days, hoping that life becomes more manageable in some way soon. I’m fairly sure that mid-November will get here and I’ll be surprised to find a fully mobile crawler with a mouth full of teeth who has figured out how to sleep since we were able to move her back into her own room where she doesn’t disturb everyone all night with her scratching at the sides of her Pack ‘n Play and rolling to and fro and getting stuck on her belly. Hey, it could be worse–she could be something other than the Smiliest Baby Ever. It’s hard to feel completely overwhelmed when you get a big grin every time you look her way.
- School is going well for Nuala. Spouse and I continue to see evidence of things we don’t really like (what is the deal with all the reward/punishment systems?!). It’s hard to know what’s going on when your primary source of information is a 5-year-old, but when you ask her how her day was and she responds by saying what level she was on (has to do with behavior) and whether she earned a lollipop for it rather than the lessons she did…Ugh.
- Yesterday was the first day of Nuala’s new dance class. I signed her up for a jazz class at a different studio this semester since it was the only class left that began at 4:30. Spouse handled that errand and reported that it was more organized (woohoo from the parents!), there was more instructional/dance time, and the kids seem to respond really well to the teacher. Nuala was excited to show me what she’d learned last night and again this morning, so I think we’re on the right track there. Next week, she’ll be returning to art class at the Montessori school on Wednesday afternoons. I think we’re calling 2 afternoon activities enough for the time being. Coordinating pickups and dropoffs is increasingly complex.
- Bea was sick last week and thus missed her checkup, so we rescheduled for tomorrow. Can’t wait to see how she’s grown. The chubby thighs suggest she’s in good shape. She’s doing very well with Kitty the sitter, and we’re very happy with that situation. I think about her all day long but don’t worry about her for one second. Spouse said that Kitty looked reluctant to give her up on Monday (she’s so snuggly!), and we’re pretty sure she just carries her around all day since she MUCH prefers to be on us rather than anywhere else. I think I’m going to have to keep a baby carrier handy if I’m going to get through dinner prep without insistent grunty whines. Her hand-eye coordination is getting better, and her hands are constantly outstretched and grasping to get something, anything, into her mouth. There should be more teeth soon.
- If I do have a worry, it’s about nursing and pumping. I am ever so thankful that Beatrice takes a bottle more happily than Nuala ever did. I am, however, seeing the flip side that Beatrice is increasingly impatient with nursing since it takes a little while for my milk to let down. I don’t pay any attention to when she “should” be nursing when we’re home together and more or less feed her constantly when we get home. For her first bottle of the day, Kitty says she takes SIX ounces, which blows my mind. I suppose this is where those chubby thighs come from. In any case, I’m not able to pump at the same rate as she’s consuming it. I try to catch up on the weekends but sooner or later we will probably introduce at least one bottle of formula during the day. This upsets me more than I care to admit. Maybe we can introduce cereal soon and that will help tide her over…
- Still no bats to speak of. The insulation people finally came out and spray-foam insulated the attic. We still need to have the ducts cleaned (at least) and/or look into having the heat pump and ductwork replaced since according to the HVAC guys it’s set up all wrong, as well as reinstall drywall, finish, and paint. It’s been very difficult to get people to actually come out and do the work–never in my life have I heard so many contractors say, “Nah, I don’t want this job.” Combine that with our busy schedules and you have very, very slow progress. The only way it seems like we could get a hold of our lives right now is if we could afford for one of us to stay home. Managing the house business and the kid business is a full time job.
- I have lots of thoughts about lots of things and no time to think through them. Teaching a current events-oriented class this fall should be fun.
Went off without a hitch, unless you count the crying that happened after Spouse dropped her off. They walked into the school, she ran off to join all the other kids in the auditorium/cafeteria/gym without saying goodbye, and Spouse thought she was good, so he turned around and left. He got the full report when he picked her up, though: she said she cried and cried, that he ruined her whole first day, and that she would never forgive him…until she forgot. That stinker. She was upset for a little while, of course, but not so much that she couldn’t give Daddy a hard time about leaving before she expected him to.
He did not ruin her whole first day. I guess I’d like to say she was totally excited about her first day but she reported the events of the day like it was no big deal. This is her new school, these are her new friends, these are her new teachers, and that’s that. I presume we’ll go through some rough patches when she remembers her old friends and her old school (a birthday party this weekend might bring this on?), but so far so good.
It will take some time for Spouse and me to adjust, I think. A huge stack of papers and fundraising garbage came home with her. Obviously, public schools have more policies and programs to deal with, and memories of all that are quickly coming back to me, but it’s a little overwhelming when we’ve been dealing with such a short and simple set of rules so far (pack a healthy lunch and dress your kiddo in clothes appropriate for the weather and their ability to dress themselves). I’m more than a little afraid I’m going to screw something up.
Yesterday, Bea came down with her first illness-related (as opposed to shots-related) fever. Her new sitter, a wonderful woman whom Bea has quickly grown to love, used her finely honed mom sense and noticed she was a little warm during the day. I myself hardly detected a thing, but by early evening, it was an unmistakeable fever. I’d noticed a few pink bumps here and there the day before, and those quickly blossomed into an equally unmistakeable rash that
started around her diaper area and spread up her trunk and a little down her arms, legs, and face. Knowing the threshold for calling the doctor was 102°, I bit the bullet and in the process, became a real mom: I used a rectal thermometer. Turns out to have been no big deal, but I feel like I’ve crossed something off some real mom experience bucket list. Anyway, she was at 101° and chipper as always. Bea stayed home today and this evening her fever has faded, though the rash persists. It doesn’t seem to bother her in the slightest. I figure it’s a mystery no-name virus that’s running its course as viruses do.
Reason #infinity I enjoy parenting a baby more the second time around: knowing that mystery illnesses are par for the course and are almost never cause for real worry.
All this has provided some distraction from the bigger news of the week: tomorrow, Nuala starts kindergarten. She is excited, not nervous, she says. The cafeteria, which serves chicken nuggets on occasion, is especially attractive to the kid who has packed her lunch every day of preschool. The class size–15–is especially attractive to her parents. Can’t wait to see how it all goes.