29 December 2011

Announcement, I Think?

Holy crap, holy crap, holy crap…

I have spent the last hour writing. It's yielded only a page thus far, but it's a page.

Holy crap, I have a page. Of a book. I've written a page for a book.

I'm crazy, stupid, out of my mind. It'll never be published, and I'm pretty much OK with that. But I've started a book. Nay-sayers and non-supporters, I'll end up telling myself exactly what you're thinking somewhere along the way. I'm going to [try to] be positive.

2012, you now know my resolution. I want to write more than 200 pages on one topic. Not for a grade, but for the sake of I-have-to-know-if-I'm-even-capable. And I'll give myself the whole calendar year to complete it.

Probably would have been easier to resolve to flatten out my post-pregnancy gut.

Oh, well…here I go...

Write-A-Caption Wednesday…on Thursday

Sorry this one comes a day late.  Michael took this blackmail pic late last night.  I tried feeding Mallory her last bottle before putting her in her crib, but she was too tired to eat.  Looks like Mommy was tired, too!  So what captions will you give me on this one? :)

18 December 2011

Nerd in the World Project: Month Two

"I can smile now!  Get ready for me to ham it up!"

Proof that stripes and polka dots can go together.

How many chins can you count?

Age: 2 months
Weight: 12+ lbs. (That's right--she's put on more than HALF her birth weight!)
Length: 22 in.
What can she do now?

  • focus on face or an object and track it as it moves
  • SMILE! (this is my favorite new development)
  • coo (this is my second favorite)
  • sleep 6+ hours
  • sleep in her crib
  • lift head off ground and turn it once lifted
  • lift legs off ground while on tummy
  • respond to a sound by looking toward it (or jolting if it's loud enough)
Celebrations from the past month:

  • We had another play date with Patrick.  It's so fun to watch them grow together.
"And I punch you in the face!"
  • We hosted a Christmas dinner at our house with Michael's family.  We ate roasted chicken and crab cakes, opened gifts, and passed the baby around.
  • Our friends Lee and Jenna Lea announced their pregnancy!  They are due on 31 May 2012, which is our 4-year anniversary.
  • Friends of mine from elementary school on up through graduation, David and Leanne, announced their pregnancy, too.  They are due in June.

Dorky Mommy Moment (DMM):
When Mallory stared in amazement at my black tank top the other morning, I stopped to explain to her the difference between black and white as pigments.  Then I explained the difference between them in terms of light.  I couldn't help myself.

    A mother's thoughts from this month:
    It's amazing how much changes in just two months post-partum.  Your body is no longer swollen or in pain.  Your baby's newborn wrinkles have smoothed.  Your daily routine has started taking shape.  Although, you consider yourself lucky when you get the chance to brush your teeth or find the courage to take your baby to a venue that scares you…like Wal-Mart.  But that is what the super cool car seat canopy is for: to keep over her so that strangers won't put their nasty fingers near your baby's face.

    But two months?  Holy moly, has it really been that long already?  I've been fortunate enough to have had every waking moment with our little Mallory.  That's what 8 weeks of maternity leave and 3 weeks of holiday vacation will do for you.  I get to see her hit the developmental milestones (and then text Michael at work when she does).  I take mental note of what shows up in her diapers.  I prepare all of her bottles and take charge of all costume changes.  And when you fall into some semblance of a routine, you start to forget some of those day-to-day moments, those brief instances from the first few days of being a new parent where you could not stop staring at your baby.  Making wishes for her future.  Mapping the bright blue veins on her scalp.  Counting and recounting her toes.  Whispering the secret to happiness in her ear.  While it's somewhat unfortunate to have lost such moments to an already overcrowded memory, I'm grateful for the memories that I can recall and for photographic evidence of our little girl's growth.

    Wish us luck on Monday.  Mallory goes to the pediatrician for her first shots.  Not too excited about those!

    "A baby is God's opinion that the world should go on."
    Carl Sandburg

    17 December 2011

    Rockin' a Newborn Around the Christmas Tree

    This is our Christmas tree.

    And cue the children's choir.
    And it's not just ANY Christmas tree.  It's Mallory's first Christmas tree.  I was more excited about decorating this tree than the cracked-out track-suit-wearing lady in the Target commercials is about Black Friday.

    I just didn't think it would take roughly 3 days to decorate this sucker.

    Day One, Erect the Evergreen: It started at Home Depot.  Since fir trees can't grow in Georgia (stupid red clay), and we weren't willing to drive all the way to North Carolina with a newborn to cut our own, we turned to the Commerce location of the megastore for their selection.  Mallory, all snug in her car seat nestled inside a bright orange shopping cart, rode up and down the garden center aisles while we browsed.  Michael and I picked one that would fit in our music room and had one of the employees shake it out and wrap it in netting.  We threw it in the back of the truck, hit the Zaxby's drive-thru for some dinner, and made our way home.

    "I'll take the tall green one that smells like a lumber jack."
    It was dark outside by the time we pulled into our driveway.  And since we had a baby to tend to, we had to devise a plan to get the tree in the house and consume our chicken dinners before bedtime.  Eating took first priority.  You parents know the routine with a newbie: one parent holds/feeds/burps the baby while the other eats, and then you swap.  Except, the baby is already full by the time the second parent gets the baby, so they end up doing diaper duty.  Everybody wins!

    With everyone fed and the baby's butt clean, I put Mallory in her swing and Michael valiantly commandeered the bringing-in of the fir tree.  We crossed our fingers that we would be able to cut the tree out of its stretchy netting, stand the tree, trim back the loose limbs, vacuum up needles, and add water to the base before Mallory decides she's through with the moving-to-and-fro business.

    "A little more to the left, Daddy!"
    And success!  Barely a whimper from the swing, even after I ran the Dyson around little Mallory.  We get the baby bathed and jammied up, and then we make our way to bed with somewhat elevated hopes that decorating will go smoothly the next day.

    Day Two, Haul out the Holly: Shortly after breakfast and walking the dog around the yard, Michael brought down the boxes of Christmas decorations.  I'm usually in charge of this, but splitting responsibilities is the only way we would get this holiday fun running.  Mallory was dressed for the occasion--a pink snowman onesie.  Again, she was fed and put in her swing.

    "I'm starting to notice a trend…"
    We tuned in at channel 801 on our satellite for the holiday music to get us in the spirit.  Taking a swing at who was singing each piece, I batted somewhere around .500.  Too many inept pop singers for me to keep up with each year.  They merely ruin the standards I grew up with on my parents' records.

    I emptied the boxes of the decorations that were to go on the tree, setting aside mystery ornaments for the Goodwill and broken ones for the trash bin.  Then Michael and I dizzied ourselves stringing the colored lights through the branches.

    "Lookin' good, guys!"
    We glanced over at the swing, smiled at our butterball wonder, and decided to march on by hanging up the silver balls and glittered icicles.  I grumble about the glitter getting ground into the carpet, but I excuse it because it's Christmas and I have a vacuum.  Thinking that we've only spent, like, 30 minutes completing these tasks, we hear…


    Yep, it had actually been almost 3 hours.  Mallory obviously kept tabs on the clock.

    Mal: "I'm HUNGRY!"
    Me: "I just wanted to decorate the tree all pretty for you!"
    And, of course, I thought, "Oh, it's no big deal!  Feed the baby, do a little tummy time, and you're back to the decorating festivities!" as normal feedings last roughly 20 minutes.  But then there are feedings like this one where the formula doesn't want to stay down and it ends up all over Mommy's neck.  So almost an hour later, we're wearing hazmat suits to avoid another eruption, even with Mallory on the changing table.  Projectile spit happens even in this position.

    We have a spitter.
    Mallory's belly was full (well, almost full since she spit up), but Michael and I had to eat lunch.  You eat, I hold Baby.  I eat, you hold Baby.  Someone take Mojo out and get the mail.  Change the channel because ESPN is only talking about NBA crap.  Am I going to be able to clean up where Christmas vomited in our living room before dinner?  Another three hours are gone…  Seriously?


    Feed.  Burp.  Change.  Lay the nerd down for a nap.

    While Mallory slept, I managed to get the rest of the decorations on the tree.  Michael made an attempt to balance the star I bought half-priced after the holidays last year atop the gangly nose-picker limb.  It did not want to comply, even after cutting it back a hair.  We decided to revisit this important step in decorating at another time.  Decorations for the house come out of the boxes so Michael can put them back in storage, but...

    Baby wakes, eats, gets changed.  Mommy and Daddy take time on the floor entertaining her.  Mojo has to go out again.  Time for dinner to be made.  Eat dinner.  Put boxes away.  House decorations are still out of place.  Star is on the Victrola rather than the tree, getting glitter all over the cracked wooden finish.  Curse the glitter and all its evilness.  Put the baby down for a short nap.  Take a picture...

    "Decorating a tree is exhausting."
    Day Three, Finishing Touches:  It was Monday, and Michael went to work.  I managed to set out the candle holders and holiday dish towels.  The nose-picker limb was cut back to the nub so the star could securely rest on top.  Our wreath was hung on the door.  Excess glitter was vacuumed up.  Lights were strung across the mantle and stockings were hung underneath the silvery letters of "NOEL".  I walked Mallory around the fragrant, multi-colored beauty so she could marvel over her parents' hard work.  The old tree skirt had been put in the donation pile, so a couple of bunched-up dark green towels collected falling needles from underneath.  I promised my little girl a newer, shinier skirt in just a couple of days when we would take a shopping trip to Hobby Lobby.  She stared at the lights, probably fighting the stimulation overload in her developing brain.  I pointed out the "Baby's First Christmas" ornaments that friends had bought for her.  Again, neurons are firing, but baby no understandy.  At least, not yet.  This will always be her first Christmas tree, and it was worth enduring its progressive interruptions.

    Merry Christmas, Baby Nerd!

    01 December 2011

    Woe is Mojo

    The Mighty Mojo!
    Mojo.  Sassy, snuggly, attention-craving and selectively obedient Mojo.  He was the first bundle of joy we welcomed into our family.  Rescued from the menacing streets of Alabama and later discovered by us in an ad posted on Pet Finder, he came to find tranquility on our semi-out-in-the-country property abounding with squirrels, deer, and feral cats.  Our windows are scribbled with his nose art and the corners of every room collect what he sheds.  But we don't mind--he has a personality unmatched by any pooch we've ever met.  Even his apperance is unique: a 30-pound shrinky dink German shepherd with giant bat ears and a nub where his tail should be.  Ol' Mo can be instructed to wait for a treat lying within snapping range for over a minute.  He understands the difference between "upstairs" and "downstairs".  He even knows how to use his "inside voice" when commanded to do so.  We have spent much of our time, energy, and attention to bring happiness back into this mischievous mutt's life, and he returns the favor ten-fold.  Life in the Wynne home is good.
    Wynne, family of 3.
    He wasn't a natural swimmer when he was introduced to the ocean, but he sure loved running through the sand and surf!
    "This is how I curl up in front of the fire.  It's also my 'come hither' pose."

    And all it took was bringing home a baby to cause the walls of Mojo's little Utopia to come tumbling down.

    Mojo went on a mini-vacation at his favorite dogsitter's house while Michael and I were in the hospital delivering Mallory.  Tamela, who is also one of my co-workers, trains dogs on the side and is quite the Mojo fan.  At Tamela's place, Mojo can run free in her fenced-in back yard with her three dogs and is even allowed to cuddle up under the covers with her and her husband in their bed (he's not allowed on the furniture at our house).  She has to nip his behavior, though, when he goes near her cats.  He would most certainly try to nibble on a feline if she didn't draw a distinct line in the sand for him.

    But since Tam had to jet to Tennessee for her son's wedding before we returned, she dropped Mojo off at our house just a couple of hours before we came home with our still-steaming baby girl.  Michael and I had speculated how the meeting of canine and neonate might go.  Would Mojo greet her excitedly because that's how he greets us when we come home?  Would he suspiciously sniff her and turn up his nose?  Would he make for the hills, where he could live in peace and harmony with his little squirrel companions?

    Let's just say now that we're 6 weeks into this parenting thing, Mojo probably would benefit from a combination of psychotherapy and a hard cocktail.

    While we spent the first several days with Mallory trying to figure out what each cry meant and how to handle real-life sleep deprivation, Mojo's behavior spiraled from sunny to sullen.  He sought refuge in the folds of the sleeping bag we lay out every winter for him, piling its puffy flannel layers over his body to shut out the disparity in the doling out of attention.  Every time we would look up from a feeding, there was Mojo's butt, hanging out of the sleeping bag, his pitiful sighs gently expanding the fort around him.

    "At least my sleeping bag loves me..."

    We carried out our pet parent duties as we should: fed him, took him out for potty breaks, gave him treats to reward good behavior.  We'd pat his head if we walked past him and tell him he was a good boy from across the room.  Yet, Mojo carried himself around the house in a depressed state that would make Eeyore turn to his Hundred Acre Wood buddies and ask, "What the hell is wrong with that guy?"

    Well, Mallory was what was wrong.  (Yeah, I know that sentence reads weirdly).  But it was the truth.  Mojo, who had been the proud owner of all of our attention, was now feeling jipped.  He had been the "only child" for two years before Baby Nerd came along, and he did not enjoy sharing the spotlight.  Excuse me: giving up the spotlight would be more accurate.  Mojo did not understand that a baby's needs would take priority over his while we learned the ropes.  His little doggie mind did not comprehend that all of this was merely temporary, that once we hit our stride, we would have more time for him.  We were doing our best to meet his needs, but it wasn't even close to good enough by his standards.  He sure let us know how he was feeling...

    For each time we'd hold a napping baby: "I'm going to sleep in my sun spot in the office."

    For each time we promised, "Just one more minute, and I'll take you outside!": "That's what you said 5 minutes ago…"

    For every meal we set down for him: "You snuggle the tiny human while you feed it…"

    And every time Mallory made herself heard, Mojo would give us the stink eye and a piece of his mind.

    If she cried: "Make it use its inside voice!"

    If she was being held by one of us: "You used to hold me like that..."

    If she soiled her diaper: "But I'm not allowed to poop in the house…"

    It didn't stop there.  A pile of baby socks under our bed.  A shredded (but not soiled, thank God) diaper on our bedroom floor.  Toilet paper from the guest bathroom trash can shredded in a trail.  Mojo was acting out.  At this rate, it wouldn't have surprised me if we had woken up one morning to Mojo standing at the door with his sleeping bag rolled up and a hobo bindle over his shoulder.  We needed him to feel wanted and loved again.  We would have to use the baby to win him back.

    So from where our butts were making imprints on the couch as we held our newborn, we started calling Mojo over.  We let him smell her and lick her ears.  Every time he acted calmly around her, we'd rub his ears or chin and tell him he was a really good dog.  His chest puffed out at the thought.  "I AM a really good dog!"

    Then we started engaging him during Mallory's tummy time.  Actually, we didn't have to make much of an effort to get him interested.  You see, Mojo considers the floor and anything that touches it to be his possession.  We believe this is why he steals socks.  So once Mallory was laid on the floor with her blanket and a couple of toys, Mojo came running over to see what had entered into his world.  Michael and I carefully monitored their encounter.

    Mallory wiggled on her blanket, arms and legs poking the air.  Mojo was instantly spellbound, and his excitement showed via the wagging of his stumpy tail.  He approached her little pink face, smelling every inch of her head.  When his tail wasn't accurately broadcasting how excited he was, his tongue would do so by thrusting out of his muzzle and covering her cheeks.  Mallory just squinted and continued to kick.  Mojo circled her, licking her arms and legs until we finally told him it was enough.  He then laid down next to her, deciding it was time to vocalize his feelings through high-pitched howls and yelps.  It was hysterically funny to watch.  Mallory couldn't play with Mojo or show him affection, but he was absolutely smitten with her.

    We had our jolly mutt back.

    Now when the baby cries, Mojo shows a look of concern or runs to her playpen.  He finally realized he's just tall enough to prop himself on the side of the playpen so he can sneak a peek at her.  When we have tummy time, he lays on Mallory's blanket (which we usually have to ask him to move over to make room for us).  The cutest effort he makes for Baby Nerd is when brings her one of his toys.  After all, she has her trinkets.  I guess he figures playthings are for sharing.  Mallory is going to give him a run for his money when she graduates from tummy time to toddling!  He will love her more because she'll finally be mobile.

    And in the middle of the night, when the room is dark and I am up feeding and changing Mallory, Mojo strains his tired eyes to watch my every move.  He lets out a sigh from his bed as if to say, "I'm still here."  After putting the baby back down, I walk over to his corner of the room, kiss him on his forehead, and tell him he's a damn good dog.  He's going to make Mallory one happy little girl as they grow up together.

    "The tiny human cried!  Let me see what is wrong."

    "Is it tummy time again?  Want to play with my hippo?"


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