Saturday, November 13, 2010

First Steps

One of the most significant milestones in a baby’s young life is the day she takes her first steps.  There is a place for that date in every baby book.  The most common question people ask me upon meeting  Sweet Pea, right after “How old is she?” is “Is she walking yet?” or “When did she take her first steps?”  Yet I do not have a date to fill in on that “first steps” blank.  How can I say when her definitive first steps were?  Was it the day she first stumbled accidentally into my arms from a step away?  Was it the day she first stood on her own, realized she was standing on her own, and continued standing?  Was it the day she wobbled four steps to her Grandma Sharon?  Was it the day her Baba (Eric) first saw her step, step, step, stumble?  Was is the day she walked several times back and forth between her Nana and Grandpa?  Let me just say to  Sweet Pea, when you look back at your baby book many years from now, I chose an approximate date at random for your “first steps” milestone.
But to answer the question about walking, I have to mark that date in history as officially Monday, November 8, 2010; even though she had walked many times before, even some paces on her own free will and in her own chosen direction.  But Monday was the day that she surprised me by suddenly appearing in the doorway of our office, when I had left her in the living room just two minutes earlier.  It was the day that she walked across the living room to pick up a toy she had her eye on.  It was the day she walked over the wood floor to follow the cat through the kitchen.  Yes, November 8th was definitely her first true day of walking.  Now we have our own little Frankenstein moving around the house, through the yard, down the street – arms outstretched for balance, with a cautious yet confident grin on her face.
Since revealing this news, I have received many messages of congratulations and warnings – other parents saying things such as “Now the fun begins!”, “You’re in trouble now!”, “Now you’ll find out how baby proof your house really is!”, and “Look out!”.  I must say that I am warily excited for this next phase in  Sweet Pea’s growth and development.  She already is growing and learning and changing so much that I can hardly believe she is the same little baby who was given to us only two and a half months ago.
So,  Sweet Pea, forgive me for not being more diligent with noting every “first” moment.  I regret missing so many firsts during your first year of life when others were lucky enough to witness the first times you opened your eyes, smiled, rolled over, sat up, and crawled.  But I will be here with you to not only bear witness to the rest of your "firsts," but to cheer you on, to pick you up when you fall, and to proudly blog about them for posterity.  I would argue, as probably most other parents would too, that the date is not as important as the milestone itself.  So, if I must fill in the blank, let’s just say September 26, 2010, was the day you took your first steps and call it good.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

I Believe in Karma

November 5-9, 2010
I believe in karma.  Sweet Pea put me through the ringer Sunday night – keeping me awake from 1:00-3:30am.  I guess I can’t blame her after all we put her through over the weekend. 
First off, on Friday we hauled her down to the Umatilla County Courthouse to apply for her US Passport.  I was so organized and had every conceivable document they may request; had my husband in tow as we both had to say some crazy oath and sign the application there in person; had  Sweet Pea half-napped with snacks to go; and had the form mostly filled out in advance.  No social security number?  Ooo – that’s a problem.  Who told you that we didn’t need it?  Rats.  Ah, problem solved by a quick walk over to the Social Security office and back with her number (hard to believe that is a federal government office with how helpful, kind, and efficient they were).  Yes!  Tragedy averted.  All complete, oath taken.  Now to write a check for double the amount to expedite the process so the valuable documents get back to us sooner and we have her passport in case we decide we do want to take that big trip to Patagonia in December.  I have my checkbook, but no checks!  The simple things that you just don’t think to look for before leaving home.  Eric must drive to get cash and use the cash to purchase a money order to send off to Uncle Sam, or whichever uncle (or aunt) sits on the high seat at the passport office in DC, deciding whether we have indeed sent along the proper documents to allow our child to travel as any other normal US citizen.  We should have that answer in about a month.  Oh, please let the passport people be as well-trained as the social security people.  So, the point of all this banter is that we needlessly extended the time it took for this task.   Sweet Pea didn’t complain a bit.  No, she actually enjoyed the attention she received and had fun playing around the chairs as we rewarded ourselves with lunch at the Great Pacific Coffee Shop in Pendleton (go there for a double espresso next time you’re in town – yum!).
On Saturday, we raised the bar – a wedding and a dinner party was on the agenda.  We started off with a smooth morning as Eric hung out with Sweet Pea while I made a quick run to town to buy shoes for both of us girls.  I was back in time to put  Sweet Pea down for a delayed nap in hopes that she would double up and sleep for two hours.  Nope, only a single.  That’s okay.  The plan will still work – lunch, get dressed, go to Kennewick for the wedding, maybe a trip to Costco, nap in the backpack during a hike up Badger Mtn, on to Laura’s dinner party, and home for bed.  What could go astray?  We’re all ready with a minute to spare.   Sweet Pea is dressed in pink pants with embroidered flowers and a quilted jacket with matching flowers; and she is wearing shoes from WalMart, not any of the three pair I had rushed off to Payless Shoes to buy that morning (I’m wearing shoes from my closet as well).  I’m a little stressed out as I don’t want to be late and I want to make a good impression on the twenty-one-year-old kids I taught in seventh, tenth, and eleventh grades but haven’t seen in a few years.  It truly was not the time for my husband-training to fail me.  Alas, Eric says something along the lines of Sweet Pea not looking good in her outfit, that the outfit was ugly, and that he didn’t like her hair that way.  Nice.  Then I’m supposed to tie his tie for him.  My own insanity ensues and off we go looking dorky and feeling frustrated, me in the back seat so I can fix  Sweet Pea’s hair and try to retrain my husband on the way.  (Note to self – retraining doesn’t work when you’re full of angst and are having trouble controlling your tone of voice.) 
We make it to the wedding in plenty of time,  Sweet Pea is mostly good during the ceremony – although I did have to get up and hold her at the back of the room and take her out when she decided to practice her new favorite sound - “Arf! Arf!”  A short and sweet ceremony was followed by a very long photo session during which time we waited for food that was never served, tried to keep  Sweet Pea out from under many a stranger’s foot, and witnessed the overtired crazies set in.  I was able to reconnect with some very interesting and sweet “kids” and was glad that we had gone. 
Now let’s get out of here and go for a walk!  We found ourselves first at the one place where we can get a good cup of coffee, a healthy snack (oatmeal), and a big bathroom for changing clothes – Starbucks.   Sweet Pea is good while I change my clothes and begin to change hers.  I figure I may as well be a good mama and change her diaper while I have her clothes off.  Standing up?  No problem; done that before.  Only this time is tinkle time as soon as the diaper comes off.  I quickly scramble to move the clothes I want her to wear out of the way as my jeans take the hit and the new diaper is affixed.  I probably wasn’t in the restroom very long, but it felt like the world had turned at least once by the time we emerged.   My husband had fixed my oatmeal and bought himself coffee and was ready to get out of his tie and dress pants.  Eating made everything seem less stressful and more normal. 
Looking at the time, I make the call that I’d rather stroll along the river than get all sweaty hoofing it up a mountain and down again in time for the dinner party.  Although I think Eric was disappointed in me, it was definitely the right call.  He didn’t get the kind of exercise he was hoping for, I guess, but we stretched our legs,  Sweet Pea snoozed for a while, and we all got some fresh air.  Peace restored.
Laura threw a heck of a dinner party - lots of fun people and lots of good food.  Before I knew it,  Sweet Pea had soaked right through her diaper (bad mama!) and a couple of hours had passed.  We didn’t get home until after 10pm.  No bath for  Sweet Pea; it was a good thing Eric gave her a bath in the morning after some sort of dirty diaper incident that only dads can seem to get themselves into (I only get peed on).  She barely awoke during bedtime preparations. 
A good night’s sleep and  Sweet Pea was ready for another trip to Tri Cities for a farewell party for our TCOCC friend Hawk.  This time, she was thirty seconds into her belated afternoon nap when we arrived at the party.  Sleep at a party?  Never!  It’s go time, showing everyone her new found walking skills, making friends with the whole group, and sweet interactions with a shy nearly-two-year-old Rachel.
Overtired and over-stimulated?  What better time to make a quick run into Costco, on a late Sunday afternoon no less?  Just twenty minutes is the promise.  Well, forty minutes later, Eric and I finally found each other after choosing a meeting spot (ha, like that ever works) and then circling round and round looking for each other.  Have we learned nothing about shopping together in the past fourteen years?  Apparently not.  On the car ride home, an agreement is reached to always carry our cell phones in a store and always meet up near the registers if we can’t find each other after ten minutes.  Time will tell if we will stick to this plan.  I imagine watching the security tapes and laughing at the two idiots who get more and more frustrated as they turn each corner, just two aisles but forever apart. 
Home at last.  Bedtime has gotten all mixed up with missed naps and the hour change back for daylight savings.  Another bath skipped and another half-awake diaper and clothes change,  Sweet Pea slips into blissful slumber.  Until.  Until one o’clock in the morning, when she pays us back for asking just a bit too much of her for three longs days by crying and keeping us awake for over two hours.  Who can blame the child?  She really is very tolerant and easy-going.  Yet every girl has her limit.
I hold no ill feelings toward  Sweet Pea’s night waking episode and she holds none against me for the demands I placed on her.  Why, oh why, then did she have to conduct a repeat performance Monday night?  Oh, the crying.  Oh, the almost-asleep-but-not-quite-so-don’t-you-dare-put-me-down-or-try-to-fall-asleep-yourself fussing.  Oh, the tired mama who just wants baby to sleep blissfully all night every night.  So, yes, I believe in karma.  I believed in karma before, but in a more non-specific universal kind of way.  Now I believe karma is real and practical and responsive to every action.  My friend, my enemy, karma.