Friday, December 31, 2010

Pretty Tree

We were a little nervous about getting a Christmas tree this year. We had visions of Des, in his new mobile and curious state, ripping off branches and ornaments like a baby Godzilla. We imagined him splashing in the tree water and ingesting smashed up bits of glass ornaments. I don't know where his parents are in these scenarios, but we always fear the worst.

We thought we'd have to put a big gate around it. But the first week it was up, he barely even noticed it. He'd give it the side eye every now and then and go back to playing. So we held off on the gate.

Gradually he started to get more curious. He'd point to it and smile. Each time I'd say, "Pretty tree!"

Now when we carry him down the stairs to the living room, he points to the tree and says "Bshdee!" We walk over, plug in the lights, and his face lights up right along with it. He'll reach out and delicately touch the needles with his fingertips.

Certain ornaments catch his eye and he'll cradle them in his palm. When he's on the floor, he crawls over to the 'bshdee,' points to one of the red bows, and bats at a dangling Santa.

He's always gentle, even hesitant at times. But we encourage him to explore.

If he's upset or sad, we say "Where's the tree?" Inevitably he'll stop crying, turn around and point, forgetting what the fuss was about.

Our short little lopsided tree is not going to last much longer. It's drying up. Despite our frequent watering and sweeping, there is a constant ring of needles on the floor underneath. We're holding on as long as we can. I will be so sad to take it down.

I'm partly dreading the undecorating process, which.. ugh. How tedious and depressing is that. But I am also going to miss Des's face every time we walk down the stairs. His little fist pointing forward and his squeels of delight. I am so afraid our boy will miss his tree. He's at an age where he understands many words and he babbles with the best of 'em. But of all the syllables he has spoken in his short life, none have been as clear or joyful as "bshdee."

Pretty tree, I was not kind to you at first. But you are a part of what has made our first Christmas as a family so special. For that, we thank you, bshdee.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Photo Update



Been a while.

My lazy, pajama-clad self is not able to put these past few days into words yet. Once I get back into the swing of using my brain and forming sentences and making any kind of sense in written form, I'll post a proper recap of our first Christmas with Desmond. Or maybe not. Maybe it was all too magical, wonderful, warm and sweet for words.

Anyway... For now, I give you photos.

Auntie Jaclyn came home. She did not let go of Des for many hours.

He was totally fine with that. As were we.

There was Christmas Eve.

And Christmas morning.

And Christmas day, which was apparently so crazy I don't have a single photo of it.

Then there was snow.

Shoveling and 'blowing' of said snow.

And watching of said shoveling and snow blowing.

Then someone came to the house, took our baby, and replaced him with this toddler looking kid.

He will be 1, as in year old, in 19 days. Which is a whole other can of worms.

I am off to bed for a good night's rest, during which I will hopefully become bathed, skinny, and totally ready to do actual, real life, grown-up work this week.

I am in trouble.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Love and Laundry

My husband does many daily chores very well and unrequested. Dishes, trash, cooking, cleaning, food shopping. He picks up and drops off Des from daycare. He feeds him dinner and has ours ready when I get home. I recognize that he is the best and I am super lucky. He's not just my soul mate, love of my life, best friend... he actually does stuff.

All I ask is that he stays away from the laundry.

The other day I went upstairs to fold a basket of baby clothes that I had washed the night prior. But the basket wasn't where I left it.

"Tone, where's that load of laundry that was up here?"

"I put it in the wash."

"Dude, that was CLEAN."

"Oh. I was just trying to help."

Bless his heart.

Back in the day Tony used to have a sock drawer. But not your typical sock drawer. It was full of single socks, randomly strewn about. Every morning he'd fish around for two socks that were close to the same color and style and put them on.

Matching socks? Sorting by color? Folding t-shirts? HA! He laughs in the face of such nonsense.

I am not anal about many things. But laundry is one of them. I actually enjoy the mindlessness and simple organization it requires. Call me a weirdo, but there is nothing better than pouring a glass of wine, putting on an episode of Hoarders, and folding a load of fresh laundry. Who's with me?

The cheese stands alone.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

So This is Parenthood

Lastnight, myself dressed in a pretty purple dress and my handsome husband in a well-tailored suit, we attended my company's holiday party at an amazing venue in Boston. The food was delicious, the view was absolutely breath-taking, our table of friends were hilarious. We dined and drank and danced the night away. It was a memorable and classy affair.

Tonight is memorable in a much different way. I am in my robe as I type this because the clothes I was wearing are covered in baby puke. I'm used to the little smelly spit-ups after bottles. But this was waaaay different. Something far more evil.

Halfway through Desmond's pre-bedtime bottle he swatted it away. He sat up and there was a familiar gurgling sound... A sound I had heard for the first time a few hours earlier, right before he vomited every morsel of food he ate that day all over the kitchen table. The realization of what was about to happen only gave me enough time to shift him so that the projectiled puke did not hit my face and neck. But most everything else within a 3 foot radius of the rocking chair did not fair so well.

I stood there frozen, holding Des. Both of us covered, as was the area rug and wood floor in front of us. I called down to Tony.

"Everything alright?" he said.

"Umm... NO."

Remarkably, Des was totally fine after. I put him down on a clean square of the floor. And he crawled over to his toys, babbling away and leaving a trail of yuck in his wake.

Tony got to work on the floor and rocker. I stripped down to my underwear before I grabbed Des to change him. After I had already been half naked for 5 minutes, I noticed the orangey-pink goo dripping down my cleavage.

Lastnight I was sipping champagne at the top of the city. What a difference a day makes.

Des went to sleep just fine, as he normally does. We'll have the monitor on high alert tonight and keep an eye on him tomorrow. But we're hoping it's just a fluke tummy ache.

I can't get the smell of partially digested sweet potatoes and formula out of my nose. I'm off to go shower in bleach now.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

You have such a pretty face, you should be on a Christmas Card!

I didn't want to post this until we mailed them. And since we have sent out the bulk of them already, here is the final version of our 2010 Christmas Card:

Despite some of the challenges that come with photographing babies, we were able to get a few options to choose from. And by few, I mean two. So I'll go ahead and show you the other version as well:

I'm still second guessing whether I should have used that one. But the amputated left hand really got to me on this version. Ultimately, I'm happy with the final product.

Obviously none of the viable options included Des actually looking at the camera. For some reason, he goes all droopy face when he sees the lense. You'd think he'd know the drill by now.

I love seeing all the photo cards come in from family and friends. So I was super excited to be able to participate this year. So excited that I sent most of them out well ahead of Christmas day. I hope I'm not coming down with something, cuz that's not like me at all!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Reverse Hoarding

Hello. I'm Sarah, and I am a Reverse Hoarder.

That's not a real term. I made it up. I don't know what else to call it.

And I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing. I just don't like having a lot of stuff around. If it's useful in every day life, then I'm fine with it. We do have quite a lot of stuff that we use often. We're not minimalists or neat freaks. We have our fair share of 'clutter' around. But everything you see in our living space serves a purpose.

I also hate the idea of putting things away that I might need in the future. So I tend to... not... do that. If I don't think I'll need it soon, it's gone. We don't have a whole lot of storage in our home. If there's a closet with things in it collecting years of dust, I get physically and psychologically ITCHY.

Spring cleaning and closet purges are kind of a high for me.

Sometimes it works against me. With clothes especially. If I'm having a fat day and something doesn't fit right, I throw it out in a blind rage. A few weeks later I'll wonder where a certain collared shirt is and remember that fat day. Damn. I lost a lot of good stuff during my pregnancy before I finally came to my senses.

Having a child has certainly tested the limits of this phobia, if you want to call it that. Desmond's closet has to be changed out every few months because he grows so fast. I'm saving most of the things that are too small for future use by potential offspring of our own or of family members. But stained or ragged items get tossed.

During one of these change overs, I found Desmond's hospital-issued cap. The one with the blue and pink stripes that the nurse put on his head right after he was born. It was teeny tiny, just fit in the palm of my hand. I thought, "He's never going to wear this, nor would any future kids." Tony watched me as I reached to put it in the Good Will bag and his eyes were daggers. He looked at me like I was a monster. Hell, maybe I am. But at the time I thought it was totally reasonable to throw that cap out. It’s just a piece of fabric. My love for my son or my memories of the day he was born do not change based on the presence of this piece of fabric.

But I get that some people don’t think that way. My husband, for one. He put that cap away in a place I will never find in one of my purge frenzies. He didn't need to do that. I understand that it's okay to save things like that. And if I do, I will not turn into one of those people from the show Hoarders.

I guess I tend to make quick, rash decisions when it comes to getting rid of things. So my recent solution is to start a bag of potential good will items. Keep it off to the side for a few months and then go through it again. It's kinda like shopping in a way.

I went through it just the other day and, oooh! A powder blue argyle sweater would be great at work! Why would I throw out this gem? I figured it out as I was reaching for some files and noticed a faint brownish tinge in the armpit area of the sweater. Ummm.. GROSS.

So that was a setback in my reverse hoarding therapy. But I'm working on it.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Oh Christmas Tree

Okay, so the whole Christmas tree ordeal started off a little rough. But all's well that ends well. Here are some photos of the process, from the ugly beginnings to the beautiful final product.

Our sad panda of a tree. I totally choked under the pressure, guys.

Tony's quick fix. Way to salvage it, Salamone.

Let's get to decoratin'.


See Desi, the ashtray ornament Daddy made in the 2nd grade goes waaaay back here.

Final product. Blue lights and an angel that almost doubles its height. Not bad though, right? I think we pulled it off.

And I'd like to note that Tony's ashtray ornament made it front and center. I did not realize it until going through these photos. I'm so full of the Christmas spirit, I just might leave it there.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Christmas Gram

I am big into the holiday season. About a week before Thanksgiving I start to get all giddy with anticipation. I'm not the kind that goes nuts decorating or shopping or wearing jingle bell earrings. I'm more the kind that sits on the couch with a cup of cocoa and a warm blanket, listening to Christmas music and looking at the tree. Ahh the music, the movies, the nostalgia. This time of year gives me the warm and fuzzies.

I think it also takes the edge off the slow descent into the depths of New England winter. But let's not talk about that right now.

And can I take a moment to thank the lord baby jesus for online shopping? Because if I had to go near a mall during this time, my feelings on the holidays might be leaning a little more toward the dark side.

So far, introducing Des to his first holiday season has been a blast. He helped with the lights:

We watched my favorite holiday movie together.

He is a fan. How could you not be? 'Oooh what's a Christmas Gram, I want one!'

We attended our town's tree lighting ceremony on a super chilly night, which was quite a shindig.

Des was not that psyched about the fact that Santa came in on a Fire Truck. Little boys with sensitive ears are not keen on fire trucks. But it was a fun night.

I bought Des a new pair of PJ's just for Christmas Eve. They may be Christmas PJ's or they may just be 'winter scene' jammies. Jaclyn will decide in t-minus 12 days.

There are still some items left to do. For one, Des does not have a stocking yet. I have my eye on one. I guess I'm waiting for a sale at Pottery Barn.

We also have to bring him to see Santa so he can tell him what he wants. Today I had the TV on and Des discovered Pillow Pets. I have a feeling they will be on his list:


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Just a Tree

Maybe it was a bad omen. On the day we planned to get our Christmas tree, Tony dug the tree stand out of the shed and found that a critter had eaten through the bottom and built himself a nest in it. Thankfully, the nest was unocuppied. But this meant we needed a new stand.

Target, typically a one-stop-shop for anything and everything, was all out. So Tony found a tree stand at a local drugstore. When he brought it home I thought he had mistakenly gotten a stand for one of those table-top trees. It was tiny. But the box said that it could hold a tree up to 7 feet tall with a 4 inch wide trunk. Um. I guess we'll see!

We all bundled up and headed down the street to pick out our tree. We looked around for all of 5 seconds, and Tony picked one up for inspection. Sure, looks fine. No major deformities, holes, or rogue branches. A symmetrical, healthy looking tree in our price range.

But wait, we can't just get the first one we see! Let's look around a little. After all, it's freezing out and we have a baby with us. We can totally take our time.

We look at a few more. Too skinny. Too fat. Broken branches. Crooked. Then we forget which one was the first one we looked at. We are lost in a sea of trees. They all look the same. I am overwhelmed and over it. Tony picks out another one and I say, "Fine, that one's fine. Pay the man and pack it up!"

This is why Tony does the grocery shopping. I'd go all Supermarket Sweep in the store, throw anything in the cart and get the heck out of there. I'm easily flustered when it comes to making decisions.

As the tree is wrapped up and strapped to the top of our car, I notice it's a little on the small side. I justify that it only appears dwarfed because it's on top of our big SUV. But the car ride home was silent, as I mentally convinced myself that it was the ugliest, homeliest looking tree I've ever seen. I tell Tony of my reservations and he responds in calm, reasonable ways like, "It will look beautiful when we get it all decorated," and "It's just a tree."

And I respond in true lunatic fashion.

"It's not just a tree! It's Desmond's first Christmas tree ever! This is the focal point of our home for the next month! My happiness during the holiday season relies on the beauty of this tree! Just a tree?! As soon as we get home we're throwing it in the fire pit. Then we're going out to buy a new one. Just a tree."

"Okay," Tony says. "The fire will smell nice."

We both knew we were not going to do that. We would just deal with it and make it work. But sometimes I have to vocalize my irrational, over-the-top reactions to things. Usually in a high-pitched tone with my arms waving. Then Tony says "Okay" and we go about our lives. Love and marriage, like a horse and carriage.

I continue making snide remarks about the tree as Tony lugs it up the stairs. Aren't I swell?

He gets it into the living room, sticks it in the stand, holds it up for me and I start cracking up. It's very short. Hilariously short. There's a big hole in the side. The tiny stand makes it look even smaller and unstable. I took photos but they don't do it justice. You'd all think I was being a snob because it doesn't look half as bad in pictures. So you have to take my word. The tree was ridiculous. But at that point it's funny to me. We will make this tree work.

Tony, god love him, decided that he would build a platform for the tree to sit on. I try to tell him not to bother, it's no big deal. See? I can be uncrazy sometimes. He says it will take him no time at all. I think he thought of it as a fun project.

"Four minutes. Time me."

The platform was perfect. It gave the tree an added 5 inches in height. We put the skirt on top of it and you can't even tell it's there. And it serves an additional purpose of raising the tree up above the baseboard heat, so we'll save this to use for years to come.

That was a nice positive among many little mishaps along the way.

Then we put the lights on. Tony bought new LED lights this year. Our old ones were getting pretty dim. When he plugged in the new lights I noticed a slight blue tinge to them. Blue lights? Oh god, my Nana would be mortified. They're also super bright. So I remove one strand, separate them a little bit, and move them in more toward the trunk. Better. But the blue is still there... oh, the blue.

Here's a crappy cell phone photo that I sent to my sister with the text: "look! we're protestant now!"

No offense to any protestants out there...

We haven't gotten around to fully decorating it yet. I'm hoping that will solve all the problems, make it look fuller, taller, and less... blue. I promise to post pictures of the final product. And to not take it all so seriously.

It is just a tree. And it's going to be beautiful.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Conversations Overheard

Tony: I'm going up to bed, you coming?

Me: Soon. I gotta do the dishes, bottles, laundry, all that bullshit.

Tony: It's not bullshit, it's our life!

Sigh... So true.

Then he helped me do all that bullshit. Life isn't that bad.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Baby Monitor Chronicles

If Tony and I ever write a book about our experience as parents, that's what it will be called. Don't steal it! It's ours! Copyright Cawlamone.

My husband has gotten some flack from my side of the family for always having the baby monitor on him. We'll be at a family gathering and Des will be napping soundly upstairs or a couple rooms away, and Tony will have the cordless monitor hooked on to his pocket like a beeper. On high volume and vibrate mode. If conversation gets a little loud, he'll put it up to his ear and step out of the room.

My family has a lot of kids around. They figure if the kid is screaming, you don't need a monitor to hear that. This thing with Tony and the monitor.. it's funny to them.

It's not that I'm not the Concerned Parent. Honestly, if Tony wasn't around, I'd be the one with the monitor in my pocket. But since I know he's always there, listening, on his toes, ready to go, I get to sit back with a glass of wine. The baby monitor is kind of a metaphor for our relationship.

We never sprung for one o' dem fancy shmancy video monitors. I know myself. I know that if we had the capability to watch our son every second that he slept, I would sit and stare at that thing for hours. Make sure he was still breathing. Search for patterns in his movements. Call my mom when he rolled over, "Oh my god, it was sooo cute!"

No. Our monitor is actually a hand-me-down (shocker!), 5 years old or so, but it does the job just fine.

Tony, who's a bit of a nerd in case you haven't spent 5 minutes with him ever, recently set up a video monitor in Desmond's room that we happened to have lying around. I believe he bought it years ago when we were going on vacation and he wanted to keep an eye on his cats. Yes.. I married that guy.

So ten months into the parenting thing, we got the video monitor set up. It's really only useful during his morning nap, when the sunlight in his room is just so, because this thing does not show video in the dark. But in the few weeks we've been watching that one nap, we have learned so much.

Like, before Des goes to sleep he'll chat with his monkey friend while kicking his legs up in the air.

Much of the time he sleeps with his butt in the air:

No real surprise. I did that a lot a child. Still do. Don't judge me.

And he actually naps 5 or 10 minutes less than we ever realized. When he wakes up, he sits and and chills out for while, gathering his thoughts and recounting his dreams, then he makes a peep.

Oh, and he bites on the crib rails. I don't know how we missed the teeth marks, but we see them now.

All of this has made me realize... I want a real video monitor. It might be the worst idea ever. For both of us. Like, maybe we should think about taking a step back instead of sucking ourselves further into the vortex of Everything Desmond. But I got a taste and now I want more.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Coming Through, Part 4

In July 2009 while in my first trimester of pregnancy, I started having unexplained seizures. This is part 4 of the series that recounts that time. Read the previous entries here:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

And I will stroll the merry way and jump the hedges first
And I will drink the cool clean water for to quench my thirst

I started the last entry noting how difficult it was to write due to memory loss. That issue also applies to this entry, perhaps even more so.

After I awoke from the first overnight in the hospital to the news that I had experienced two more seizures in my sleep, I was completely shocked. I sat up in bed and stared into space, deep in thought. The TV may have been on, and I think I feigned interest for a while. But I had so many questions running around in my head.

What if they can’t figure it out? What if this keeps happening? What are these seizures doing to the baby?

And most importantly, what do I look like when I’m having one?

Such a superficial and silly concern, right? But damn if I don’t still wonder about that. Truthfully, I don’t want to know. If it was ever captured on video, I’d destroy it without a second thought. I’m 100% positive that it’s horrible and frightening and disgusting. But there’s a sick side of me that’s a little curious…

Every once in a while that morning I’d look over at Tony and ask, “Did it really happen again? You’re not just effing with me?” I’m sure it wasn’t annoying and tedious at all for him to answer those questions over and over.

Okay. So what the hell now?

My neurologist, Dr. K, decided it was best to give me a mild sedative for now. This is not usually recommended for pregnant women. But the goal was to calm the brain activity in order to stop the seizures any way they could. At the same time she put me on an anti-seizure medication called Keppra. It’s a fairly new drug and the effects of taking it while pregnant are not well known. The few cases that are documented show that there should be no ill effect on the little one. At this point, the potential damage from another seizure was a higher risk to me and the baby than either of these drugs.

Dr. K was positive and confident that this was the way to go. But all I heard was:

“You’re unborn child will probably be fine while you take this.”

“Not much data with pregnant women.”

“We don’t really know.”


What were we supposed to say? ‘Oh heck no, I’m not exposing my kid to that POISON, I’ll just sit here and let my brain wig out some more.’ Or maybe, ‘Okay, that sounds totally awesome, let’s do this! I’m so pumped!’

We just had to go with it and see what happened.

For the next few days I was continuously monitored. They had a “sitter” in to watch me while I slept, which also allowed Tony to get some rest (although I’m sure he got very little). They ran more tests and repeated tests that were already run. They glued electrodes all over my scalp to record brain activity (EEG), and I wondered aloud if they could see all the useless celebrity gossip I have going on up there. The glue from the EEG stunk like paint primer, and I was rocking the futuristic Medusa look for a while.

I was really out of it. People came to visit, like
Jenny and Danielle. They brought me books (which I still need to return, what an awesome friend I am). I don’t remember the two of them sitting down, if I was still rocking the stinky hair plugs, or if we had any conversation at all. But I remember seeing their beautiful faces as they stood at the foot of my bed, and feeling happy and grateful they were there.

One whole day passed without a seizure. Then another.

I remember the headache. I had one for days. I could barely open my eyes, it ached so badly. I thought maybe my brain had been fried. Turns out that when they drain spinal fluid during a lumbar puncture, sometimes the wound doesn’t heal properly and you get what is called a spinal headache. Just a note to you all: Don’t ever get one of those. My skull felt like it was too small and it was squeezing my brain like a vice. The treatment was to lay flat on my back for a while, not a difficult thing to do. And caffeine could help too, something I had been avoiding due to my delicate condition. My sister got me a medium iced coffee from Dunkin Donuts, and by god that was the most delicious beverage I have ever had in my life. I don’t remember much, but I will always remember that iced coffee.

The headache went away finally and I felt like a new person.

Another seizure-free day passed. The results of the EEG came back. They saw some minor activity in one area of my brain. So they would do an MRI, focusing on that area. Depending on those results, I could possibly go home soon. The fact that I hadn’t had a seizure since the first night was a good sign that the medicine was working.

The results of the MRI were good. The activity was there, but it was minor and nothing to be super concerned about at this point. On day 6 of my hospital stay, I could finally go home. It was a long, exhausting week. I was glad to go home, but I was also nervous. I’m sure Tony was even more scared. There were still no real answers as to why I had the seizures or if I would continue to have them. So for now I would go home to rest, where my husband and family would monitor and take care of me. And we would go back to the hospital next week to follow up with the doctors. All I could hope for was an answer and a solution. But the journey and the search for those things would be much longer than I expected.

To be continued…
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