what i learned today

1) trust my instincts
2) listen to jenny
3) listen to my momma
4) listen to kaitlin
5) i'm wasting time


day one

the sprout becomes the flower



and a partridge in a pear tree

we're very cozy here. in my tiny two bedroom cracker box there now resides the following:
conor, sarah, violet, nathan, and a fruit bat. ok. a papilion. the second bedroom is primarily used for storage so there is now an air mattress carefully wedged in amongst the junk. i'm getting everyone settled, and i'll be back soon.


the baby didn't slee...zzzzzzzzzzzzzz

violet is testing the limits of sleep deprivation, so please forgive my lack of participation today.


twisted jammies

after violet nursed this morning at 3am, i gave her to conor for a new diaper. i remember it taking him a really long time, but i didn't really think anything of it. it is conor's day off, so he got up with violet, and i slept in . well he woke me up this morning and told me this story. when he got violet up this morning and took her in the other room, he noticed that her pajamas looked strange. in his quest to fix them, he realized that he had put her legs in the WRONG legs of her pajamas. so she slept the rest of the night all kinds of twisted. conor unzipped her pajamas to fix the twisted legs only to discover that he had never put a diaper back on her. luckily baby v has never really peed in her sleep much.


violet does her best sid vicious


nighty night

So often I've heard parents say that what works for one kid won't work for another. That has been illustrated by the fact that Violet finds a bath, massage, and book to be the most stimulating series of activities known to man. Perhaps before bedtime we should play some Sousa and march around the house eating coffee beans.


deep questions

when we get older, do our eyelashes shrink? or do they just look shorter in relation to our heads?

my know-it-all

(post inspired by the good natured banter of cbt and sd)

My husband is a brainiac. He also talks. A lot. He just jabbers on incessantly, while my mind wanders, and I occasionally learn a thing or to. I stress occasionally. He's the guy in class you hate. The one inspiring the teacher to ask, "Does anyone ELSE know the answer." Yep, that's my Conor. He graduated from basic training as an honor graduate. Not just any honor graduate, the top airman. His mother gasped when they made the announcement. I just sighed. We now have a plaque in the living room. I make some remark about hunter-gatherers, and I get a lesson on fire flushing, and how the aborigines created the bush. I knew I was in love when he explained the internal combustion engine. I have never been attracted (for any length of time) to someone who wasn't smarter than I. On our first date he beat me at scrabble. That was the end for me. I may have broken the bank on this one though. I honestly don't care about physics. HONESTLY. Who reads books on the history of zero, and how it shaped civilization? He wants a tattoo of some formula about chaos, but as I mentioned earlier I don't always listen so I can't remember what it's called. So for my sister out there with a know-it-all for life, I roll my eyes with you. We've done it to ourselves.


the flipside

lest i malign violet's good name by the wet hen remark.

let there be tooth

tooth #1 has broken the surface. and baby v is madder than a wet hen. I'm told wet hens are very angry birds.


a face only a mother could love

maybe the flashcards aren't working.


a letter to conor at basic training

I don’t remember when it happened. Little by little I guess. One day I realized that somewhere along the line I lost my faith in the good. It really wasn’t as dramatic as it might seem. There was no cynical declaration of my intention to live out my days with my cats. It was more like a quiet resignation to what I envisioned as my destiny. A life, consumed by career, when on my death bed I would not regret the time with family lost, only the cases I couldn’t solve. My restoration arrived in flip-flops for my 24th birthday. Up to that point, love to me had been defined by how miserable we could make each other. Who knows how those things get tied up in one’s formative years, but I didn’t quite know how to take this new unassuming love that had crept up on me. One day I slipped my arms around his waist, and not so many days later, I could see my future stretched out in front of me. It barely resembled the one I had previously envisioned. Suddenly my future seemed to be pastels and sunshine, like a world perpetually stuck on Easter. I put up a half-hearted protest to this new found definition of love. Where were the tears, where were the screaming fights, where was the crying in my car listening to an angst ridden indie song? Somehow, this cherubic boy had single handedly redefined everything I thought I knew about how love worked. And he did it without my noticing. It’s funny what you don’t notice. I didn’t notice that I hadn’t had my feelings hurt by careless remarks, that I didn’t need to attempt to assert my intelligence in order to be taken seriously, that I felt beautiful in a comfortable safe way. I know I must have done something before I met him. I also know that it may not be very progressive of me to say, but the best part of my life has begun now that I know him. In one short magnificent year, this man has made me a wife, a mother, and most amazingly, myself. No prickles and sarcasm. Just me. Conor, in such a short time I’ve watched you grow into such a remarkable man; a man who I’ve come to love, admire, and respect. I often feel so overwhelmed with love for you, that it seems impossible to squeeze one more ounce of love into my soul, yet I manage to love you more every day. Now that we are entering a new chapter in our lives, I know that I will only love you more as the father of our child. And you will be as remarkable a father as you are a husband. Happy Father’s Day
Your wife,

to mama, love baby

i have a present for you. it's in my diaper, and it's not a toaster.


is that all i am to you?

We taught (or are presently teaching I guess) Violet sign language. I took 2 semesters of ASL in college. We use the signs for eat, drink, more, momma, daddy, diaper, bath, etc. All the things in her daily life she may need to communicate. Well it seems she's gotten a little mixed up, because she now signs "milk" everytime she sees me.


my partner in crime (and passion)

I would like you to meet my (much) better half.

zig zigler, here i come

So I'm not very friendly. At least not historically so. I'm just not the one to run out and make friends. I have two. I'm fine with that. Well I was fine with that, until I moved across the country twice. Conor is more friendly than I am. To say the least. Conor goes out to ask some rather large men in the parking lot to turn down their music, because he can't get the baby to sleep. He comes back having made two rather large friends. Whereas I would more likely have to avoid them for the rest of my tenure in the apartment complex. At the end of 4 years, Conor will either 1) become an officer, or 2) leave the military. I don't know that I'm cut out to be an officer's wife. The thought of me at some gala in a ball gown is ludicrous. I'd be more comfortable out back with the kitchen staff feeding stray cats. I've just never been good at playing the game. That's why I was a miserable failure at management. I digress. Now that I'm in a place where I know no one, I have decided to hitch up my britches and make some friends. Not just any friends, mind you. As I mentioned in a previous post, mediocre friends make me weary. So I have set out on an expedition. So far it's been slow going, with a baby on my boob and no car for 12 hours a day. I met a nice lady in a hippie mama forum who has bees. On purpose, not like in her gutters. It's a big move for me, and I'm quite proud of myself. So there.


a little extra

I don't know if you've heard, but the military salary is a little on the meager side. In combination with that, and the fact that in classic cheap Sarah form, we got the smallest apartment we could find, i decided to sell some of the crap that comes from the merging of two lives. We have a second bedroom. It contains the computer desk and 700 boxes of junk (and a christmas tree.) I've been trying to figure out a way to make money and I've applied for an internet retailer license from the state of South Carolina. I'm planning to buy wholesale jewelry and sell it. We'll see. Anyway i listed some random junk on eBay. Ski goggles, cloth diapers, bags, shoes, starbucks paraphanalia. I made $146 yesterday selling 3 things. Since then i've listed a few..ahem... other things. i do tend to get carried away with myself though, and Conor may come home to find Violet and me sitting on the floor under a bare bulb.


babies don't keep

We all think we'll have the baby who sleeps through the night and eats every 3 hours. For me, it was not the case. Violet is a spirited child. For the first 3 or 4 months she nursed constantly. I am not exaggerating by "constantly." I do not recall a single meal, including Thanksgiving dinner that I ate without nursing. It didn't help that I was so insistent on doing things the right way (read the hard way) than any hint of failure on my part sent me spiraling into despair. When we were in the hospital, Violet got simply overheated and ran a slight fever. The neonatologist lied to and coerced me into putting her in the NICU, and gave her a spinal tap without my permission. What I had planned as a trauma-free, beautiful entry into the world for my flower child, had turned into a painful and frightening one. Since she was in the NICU for 48 hours, and perfectly healthy the whole time, I was allowed to go to her every 2 hours to nurse her. My hazy happy first days of nursing were not to be had. Surrounded by sick babies, I held my tiny girl, with an IV in her little foot, and nursed and nursed as neonatologists and nurses offered differing and confusing directions. They eventually convinced me to supplement with formula. My heart was aching like I never knew it could. Finally they released us from the hospital, but since we had been supplementing with formula, my milk wasn't coming in. I was desperate to nurse, and I pumped like a blue ribbon dairy cow. Every time I gave her a bottle of formula I had a meltdown, but I kept at it until she was off the formula, and making the boobie milk is heaven face all the time. But now I couldn't sleep, I was so angry that I had let her first days be violated. Somehow I was convinced that I could have saved her from the spinal tap, the IVs, the nursing trouble. When I gave up on cloth diapers to get her through the marathon feedings in under 2 hours, I had failed again. When I bought a crib, I had failed again. I loved having my little bundle sleep in the crook of my arm, but she just wasn't sleeping anymore. I compromised, and used the crib with one side off as a sidecar to the bed. That didn't work either. Lavender, hops, chamomile, lullabies, rocking, walking, sling riding, refusing to let her cry it out. I was spiraling into a severe depression, resenting her for needing so much while the baby down the street slept all night, drank cold formula, and sat in a swing without crying. Conor was calling my mother, his mother, anyone to try and get me help. I expected to be the perfect mother out of the gate and I had done nothing right as far as I was concerned. I had begun to scare myself, and in a moment of clarity I realized I had to do something. I started taking herbs. I started to put her down. I started to realize that I was losing out on my chance to enjoy my baby while she's little. As I began to slow down and enjoy her, she seemed to become a happier, calmer girl. She's in a very clingy stage now (part of the teething) and I'm enjoying it immensely. She is laying her little warm head on my shoulder and burying her nose in my neck, and nothing else will make her happy. And nothing has ever made me so happy.
Song for a Fifth Child
Mother, oh Mother, come shake out your cloth
empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
hang out the washing and butter the bread,
sew on a button and make up a bed.
Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She's up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.
Oh, I've grown shiftless as Little Boy Blue
lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo.
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
pat-a-cake darling, and peek, peekaboo.
The shopping's not done and there's nothing for stew
and out in the yard there's a hullabaloo
but I'm playing Kanga and this is my Roo.
Look! Aren't her eyes the most wonderful hue?
lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo.
The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
for children grow up, as I've learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep.
I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep.
by Ruth Hulburt Hamilton


As I look down the line of my posts, it seems about half of the pictures of violet are what my momma calls "cheesecake" pictures. What is the mother's obsession with the naked baby? Is it because that's how she was when I met her? I don't want to see Conor in a Starbucks uniform anytime soon, and thats how he was when I met him. I find myself compelled to take a picture when she's in the buff. We all have them. Mothers seem to interpret embarrassing as cute. There's one particular picture of me as a tot in an angel costume on the potty. What is the lunacy that possessed my mother to take such a picture? I don't know, but if I were presented with the same situation now, I would do the same thing. We all turn into our mothers eventually and that's ok by me.


i'm a little mixed up

I just told Conor to stop talking to me so I could read his blog. My embarrassment has been immortalized here

what i set out to do

I started this little blog as a life-affirming exercise as my title might suggest. Little did I know it would in short time put me on speaking terms with people I haven't spoken to (and sadly haven't wanted to speak to) in years. It is one more little thing that Violet has done for me. She is teaching me what is important. Thank you, baby V. It is also something I've learned from Conor. When Conor's parents came to visit last time, they brought with them boxes of tattered birthday cards and boy scout patches, and various other little mementos that belonged to the boy Conor. While I have nary a sentimental bone in my body, I forget that Conor is not me. My friend Jenny always says she'll never buy me anything, because she's afraid I'll throw it away. Since we're drowning in boxes, I sat down on the floor and held up dinosaur coins and D&D dice, asking Conor what he wanted to keep and what he wanted to get rid of. When we had it all divided up, I looked up at his cherubic face, and saw tears. I was baffled. I scrambled around. "What? What? What did I do?" He couldn't really tell me what was wrong. I caught little bits. Memories. People he lost contact with. People he wasn't nice to. I promptly dumped the "get rid of" box in the "keep" box, and tried to gather more information. What I ended up learning is that it is better to mourn for the friends we lost, than to pretend we never cared we lost them in the first place. I could do myself some good becoming more like Conor. Thank you Conrad.

jacob continues to make me think

This started out as a reply to cannot be trusted's comment, and grew out of control:
I certainly understand your position. And I've come across a lot of crazy parents out to make their baby a genius. My philosophy is that babies LOVE to learn about anything, and it is my job to present her with things she would have otherwise not discovered on her own. I absolutely agree with you about testing, and I feel a little ashamed that I said anything about her picking the right flag, because it is TRULY not the point of the game. Its about stimulating her visual pathway with interesting things. I am actually opposed to testing as a learning tool, and will not use it when I start formally schooling Violet. As much as it sounds like pressure, it really is a game. When she gets the flag wrong I say "Good girl! That's Venezuela!" I also believe that reading is a neurological function, not an academic one, and that children can learn to read as early as they learn language. I think a lot of the issue with reading is that we wait so long to teach children to read, that by the time they learn, the material they are presented with is far below their intellectual level, and bores them to tears. I agree that babies need lots of time to tool around and explore, and Gillian's little baby brain will be chock full of experiential knowledge one way or the other. And keep on crawling!

baby brains

I always poo pooed the mothers with the incessant, my baby walked at 8 months, my baby spoke in full sentences at 12 months, my baby, my baby. I still think that measuring your child against other children is silly and unnecessary. But after baby V came along, I started studying the development of the brain in children. I took a seminar, and read some books. Now I keep a little closer eye on it. Its kind of like checking under the hood of the car. Its not that you're measuring your car against your neighbor's car. Its just that you want to make sure that your car is running well, and to head off any issues before they become problems. So baby V still crawls (on her belly) most of the time. She has started to creep (hands and knees) a little, but the belly crawl is her preferred mode of transportation. I have a friend with a baby one day younger than Violet. He took his first steps a couple of weeks ago. Hmm? I wondered if I should be concerned. So I did a little research and found my answer. Early walking is NOT good. I said it. Sorry all you momma braggers. Crawling develops the pons, creeping develops the midbrain, and walking is a function of the cortex. So babies who walk early quite often tend to be those who have spent a lot of time in "devices," and are used to being in an unnatural vertical state. The longer a baby crawls and creeps (to a reasonable degree), the more neurologically organized they will be. So long live the belly crawl. For those of you who don't know, I am teaching Violet to read, and do math. I know it sounds bizarre, but I assure you it is possible. Yesterday was a banner day developmentally for Violet. She figured out how to use her drum...That may be a mixed blessing. She figured out how to lift all the flaps in her lift the flap books. And she got all of her "which one is" correct. Right now we're playing "which one is" with the flags of South America. I show her two flags and ask, which one is Paraguay? Then she picks one. So that's my bragging for the day. Not in comparison to other kids, but in comparison to what she could do yesterday.


little person

I remember shortly after Violet was born, I had a conversation with my mother about having more children. I told her I didn't know if I wanted more. I was afraid the next one would be a dud. Since then I've certainly come full circle, as I have a veritable library on international adoption. It still amazes me how backward and archaic people's views on adoption are. Oh, they'll mention how great it is that people adopt, but when it gets down to the nitty-gritty, what they really wonder is why I would want to adopt when I can have "one of my own." My own. She's really not, you know. I've never felt that Violet belongs to me. I have been entrusted with her, and for that I am grateful and terrified. I had a conversation with Conor about not having expectations of your children. My mother-in-law looked horrified when I said it. Its not that I don't expect that she do her best. I just must try not to expect that she do MY best. I always find myself, when I go in to pick her up from a nap, greeting her with a "hi, little person." Little person. Her own little person, with her own vast possibility stretching out in front of her. And so it continues millions of times, for millions of children, with infinite possibility. How elitist that we should think our biology should make our children somehow superior. If your child had been left on your doorstep, would you love them any differently? Violet has a book about "Miss Spider", who hatched only to discover that she couldn't find her mother. She searched high and low, and was bullied by bigger bugs along the way. Finally a beetle took Miss Spider in telling her, "For finding your mother, there's one certain test. You must look for the creature who loves you the best."


peas in strange places

so continues the saga of things you don't know until you have a baby. i always thought the phrase "wash behind your ears" was if not bizarre, at least unnecessary. violet squirrels away a rather significant amount of food back there. i hate to admit it, but sometimes i don't even notice until we go swimming when i see it in the sunlight. then i wash it off in the pool.
my serious child


catch a tiger by the toe

there are many many maaany things that i just didn't know until i had a baby. for instance, in delivery the nurse asked me if i felt nauseated. well, no. what a weird question. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1...i'm gonna throw up. with all the reading i did, i never came across that little gem about childbirth. what amazes me lately is that i am no match for a 16 pound infant. if she wants to roll over, she's gonna roll over. it's like trying to hold on to an eel. getting pajamas on is a trip on the rotisserie. my friend kim likened feeding a baby to hanging a cantelope with a quarter sized hole from the ceiling. then start it swinging and try to spoon food into the hole. i think about it everytime i feed her cheek.

cart me off

i'm losing it. i live groundhog day. 6 am nurse, 7 am up, 730 breakfast, 9 nap, 1130 lunch, 1200 swim....you get the picture. i know i need to talk to violet more, but at this point i feel like i'm boring her. how many times does she want to hear a play by play of unloading the dishwasher? 6 bowls, violet. they go up here. 9 forks, they go over here. yeah yeah mom...i got it bowls, forks. how many times can i ask her how she likes her bananas? she's heard that bananas are yellow, grow in south america, are a fruit, and have a lot of potassium. she knows that sweet potatoes are a tuber, grow underground, and have a lot of vitamin A. i've gotta get out of the house...other than the mailbox.


you oughta be in pictures

i don't know how many times people have told me that baby V should be a baby model. Right. yesterday it was the lady at the car dealership. i think that people mean it as a compliment. to what exactly i don't know. my gene pool? certainly not. what i want to tell them is that she would probably poke the photographer in the eye and leave a drool trail on her way out the door. there are bigger things in store for this child. her thighs for instance.

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