Monday, March 28, 2016

On the Brink!, Plus a Message from the Department of Product Development

"We* are at a developmental crossroads." I have been saying this for weeks now, to anyone who seems baby-focused. Or, closer to the truth, to anyone in close proximity for more than twenty minutes or so.  But it feels true; mammoth appetites, mammoth sleeping, random fussiness, almost almost taking a step away, vocalization strings shifting and shifting.

Last week, we hit some new, disquieting territory. We're still in the same neighborhood, but things feel a bit grittier, dodgier: how much time will we be spending here? The O.Y.O.** has most definitely burst into outraged tears when something has been taken away (a doll, a crumb, a bookmark, used tissue) or merely not granted her (one's phone, a serrated knife, keyboard access, a second meal simultaneous with the first). But now, now, she may have an extended crying fit, emerge from it with the aid of a distracting whatsit -- but then comes a moment when her face freezes. An almost visible cartoon bubble forms above her head: "Waiiiiit a minute! I was upset about the thing! The thing is still missing to me!"*** She was almost been duped by happiness, but noooo: she will right this ship; and outraged crying starts anew. Oi.

I can only imagine we are witnessing the birth of tantrums. Woeful, but not like we could sidestep them. My social worker child development friend advised me to refer to them not as "tantrums," but as "dysregulations," because the periods of (...full body demonstrative loudness...) reflect the child's inability to manage their big feelings. The feeling is huge, it needs an outlet, and the child hasn't learned how to manage (/regulate) it yet. Having the episodes is part of them learning how to manage themselves...alrighty. I can see how the different terminology removes the idea of the young one "misbehaving" somehow, when it is developmentally appropriate. But I won't lie, "tantrum" is more satisfying: good shorthand and more descriptive... 

 And now a word from the Oyo:
CEO, Archived Stock Photo

RE: Product Development and Enhanced Features

I'd like to take this opportunity to announce last week's limited roll out of Cry Premium ©. While audience size currently prevents statistical analysis, participants fell within target demographic and response has been heartening. I am confident that Cry Premium's © usability will be viable across numerous scenarios, with a varied audience. Early reactions point to --> Resounding Success.

At a glance, Cry Premium ©:
  • 20% louder than Standard Cry ©
  • 33% more shrill 
  • faster ramp-up (from 0-60 in under 10 seconds)
  • feature enhancements include: reddened face, greater full body engagement (back arch, mattress slap, accusatory finger point)
  • Highly customizable duration
  • Pause and re-start function
Early Feedback (participant texts):
"This is terrible, my ears are literally ringing"
"😟 I'll be home soon"
"Good luck to us all"

Watch this Space for Future Announcements, with potential discussion points including: Cry Deluxe© and Howl©
*wherein we is indicative of the Baby we, more plebian than the royal we, though no less entitled for its commonness, due to classic maternal hyper-focus and the smallification of one's sphere.
**as in The One Year Old. But I'm lazy. Let's just say Oyo from now on, hey?
***Like the French conjugation of missing, right? I miss you = You are missing to me, which I always liked because it nicely calls up the idea of absence as presence.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

If I Knew You were Coming, I'd Have Baked a Cake, Baked a Cake

So. Here we are. 10:17 PM, this March 17th. One year ago I had been experiencing labor pains for 18 hours now, morphined* up, but feeling much pain for all that. Javier was bored at this point** and drowsing on his cot. The doula*** massaged my back with every back spasm, and leaned in, if I wanted her to. The original shift nurse who had shunned the doula and ignored her outstretched hand to shake, was long gone (thank god), and other, more open, medical staff wandered through to check vitals, update charts and utter things perfunctory and upbeat. Nooooo, I'm not going to take you through my whole birthing process, but I am surprised that over the last couple of days, I have been experiencing momentary flashbacks. I still don't have that parental sense of "Oh my god, it goes by so fast" exactly, because while this past year did flow more quickly than others, it was also so full, and so boring, and so great, and so everything, that yes, it certainly has felt like a year. When I put her down this evening, it was startling to see how long she has become. Full, too: oooooph! we manage to not say, most times we lift her.

The Baby has been hoodwinked by Daylight Savings Time. Or rather, it has passed her by -- this week, she has crashed around 6, and demanded the breast, even if her solid food schedule disagrees, and is dead asleep before 7:30. It has given me a new lease on the night -- when I was only fully done with her around 9, it was early in the evening, yes, but late to start some new thing of one's own, especially when one has been babying since early morning. So pretty much: a beer, TV or reigning show, wait until Javier appears.

But 7:30? Surely you can get something done, then! This earlier turning in may not last, but so far, I have carved every night, and begun to think (the tiniest bit) beyond the finish of my picture book. Which was part of Javier's & my agreement -- I stay home the first year, I finish the current project as best I can -- and really, there are only the final two pages lacking final sketches now which is A.MAZ.ING. Marketing? Nope, not so much, and aside from some loyal, wonderful friends, audience growth for the blog seems a bit...slow****, but honestly, I have found this difficult to work into a regular schedule. Which all say is paramount for blog readership. In terms of taking it one day at a time, though, it has been absolutely lovely to write a few times this past week. I always feel better writing. If nothing else, it's a satisfying way of existing in the mind, with a little optimism thrown in -- this act, in and of itself, was worth it, in this day it was written. Return to daily existence, in the best possible way.

from 2010, but a nice shot of the folks
Hey-ho, March 22nd -- my own Momma's birthday. She succeeded in getting skype to work on her notepad (the ability to do so -- always a question mark) and we skyped while Baby ate her solids. The one-sidedness was a little sad, with Mom going: "HeLLOO BABY, oh you're so PRETTY, you ARE! Hi, Baby! It's your Grandma, I'm your Grandma, Hai!" and the infant (excuse me, One Year Old, heretofore known as O.Y.O. for at least 12 months) rumbling and thrusting her pointer finger in the direction of more hummus and toast fingers. I would have said, "She's pretty hungry," but really -- no more than usual. Like her Mother, it is unlikely she'll ever go on a date and order salad or just an appetizer, in order to appear falsely feminine.***** We will have to counsel her that tripping is a socially unacceptable manner of dealing with people standing in front of one's food. O.Y.O. threw Mom a few smiles and chuckles, once her food was done, so I think everyone was happy.

We had a little O.Y.O. birthday party and man, I am so glad we did! It was all that I hoped for. Thrown together kind of last minute, with some minor ass busting (i.e. cleaning + baking -->  citrus poundcake with citrus glaze, brownie cupcakes with peanut butter frosting, buttercup cupcakes with fudge frosting, a nice little lalala presentation). A flurry of friends, much baby love, some props to us adults for emerging from the first year. Naturally the streamers and honeycomb paper decorations from last week's Target run I put off to the last minute and so remained in their bag. But really, all I need is some kind of nebulous fuss at the key moments in life, and this most definitely qualified. Busy enough that I didn't take any photos at all, though a groovy friend-of-a-friend was scooting around with a serious camera in the background, so I think there is some cool visual documentation. "I thought there would be all kinds of photos," said my Sister, "Pictures of her opening presents and eating cake. I kept waiting, but I didn't see any. And on Sunday, I still didn't see any. It's like the only reason I go on Facebook." I didn't realize our laxness was having a negative impact, but I understand there needs to be an ongoing current of Baby documentation.  

On that note, rustling in the nursery. Is it a portent? Will she awake, wailing and afraid of her shadow? Always the question: is it a glitch or a the start of a phase? In this modern age, babyhood still jettisons you back to reading signs and symbols. This means that; that means nothing; but that there? Means everything's okay.

*Oh my god, Morphine is such a cheat. You think: Oh thank god, the big guns! But no. Heavy curtains, and behind that, underneath it, the pain.
** wise enough not to say this at the time. In his defense: yes, hours and hours of not pushing. If one was not personally experiencing the pain, sure -- boredom.
***Oh my god, if you're pregnant, get a doula. For heaven's sake, get a doula. Have someone give this to you as a gift. 
****Bahahaha, growth. As in: free time really grows once you have a child or freshly baked cookies grow on the free table in the office lunch room or office supplies grow plentiful in a workplace employing dissatisfied librarian types
            -->I love librarian types. And I love useful, organizing items, like office supplies.
            -->And not that I'm bitter. I have slacked, I slack, I may slack again. You get 
            what you give.
***** I think one shoddy excuse for a date said something like,"Wow, I didn't think you'd be able to eat all that. You must have a really good metabolism, haha!"

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Softer, Gentler Trophy Heads a/k/a Don't Go Into that Target

There are things which you do not need from Target, but for which you seek (i.e. Martha Stewarty paper honeycomb balls for a one-year birthday party). Then there are things which you do not need, but which you feel others near to you don't realize they need (i.e. respectably unstained, subtly striped tee shirts), the selecting of which leaves you feeling all "wifey," technical accuracy aside.

Next come the needless Target products which fill you with certainty: one of your friends definitely wants this. But who?
Weirdly perfect, almost. Do they call in the shades to make up-selling inevitable?
Naturally, creating subsequent levels of nifty want-passing-as-need is simply accomplished by strolling more aisles. They have pioneered and cornered the market on products which will make your life a touch more glamorous and stylish and yourself hipper than you were to start. Why deny yourself?*

Having a baby in your cart** is also handy for this endeavor, as you can present newest thing to Baby. Once she laughs, you say, "Oh, you *like* it don't you! I do, too. Yes: we like this."

Pandas vs. Sharks
After your meandering, you eventually arrive in your destination aisle -- the reason for your visit. The selection is less than you had hoped, somehow less sparkly than what you had in mind. The best colors sport empty hooks of nothing. But still, these are the things you need, and you have spent all this wandery time, when else will you go elsewhere? The Baby punctuates your dismay with a sudden bellow (0 to 6, baby disruption scale) and strains her body up against the car seat restraints before flopping back in resignation. She looks at you sourly from within leopard print polar fleece. You toss a handful of decorations at the baby's feet and hustle to the bank of registers, as she repeatedly flings her arms at the plastic bags.

In the aftermath of Target, mild guilt is paired with a longing for more embroidered pillows***. In the balmy air on the back deck, one makes the unfortunate discovery of holes in the new, cheaply-made stuffed animal-pillow hybrid. Bahhhhh! You say, Target! Lamentable throw-away culture! and then you get out a needle and thread instead of driving back to the store. This bout of mending is sufficiently rare for you to get a kick out of using a thimble (a thimble! with a tiny leaf pattern circling its rim); and the early Spring birdsong is riotous. And the bearish pillow-animal has chutzpah, for all his shoddiness. You already envision resting your head on him, in the play yard area, next time you are woefully tired and your child is woefully sprightly.

In the suburban wilds
And a Panda to watch over us

Picture Book Bonus: At left is one of my current library faves. He is a a lonely shark in the city, who consumes too many detective shows and too many potato chips...but he dreams of being...Shark Detective! The rambunctious kiddo ripped one of the pages while we spoke about being gentle (not really getting this concept yet), but up until then, we had been reading this one a lot. It's really fun! I read it to my Dad on the phone today, and he laughed several times. It makes me wish he were here to read it directly. From the publisher page: "Perfect for fans of Love Monster and Dragons Love Tacos, this sweet and funny story about an unexpected friendship will delight creatures of all ages." I know neither of those titles, but doesn't that spur your interest? Shark Detective by Jessica Olien

*But for the myriad downsides of mass produced chic, including labor conditions, training one's consumer self to buying for the moment rather than the long haul, which one could argue is at the heart of consumerism across the board, right? but here we are in Target, so none of us are radical, or consistently so.
**non-crying preferably, so: either fatigued enough to be slightly glassy-eyed, or freshly rested (and/or fed) so its prone to easy laughter.
***which the Baby also likes, fond as she is of raking her baby nails across embroidered yarn

Sunday, March 13, 2016

This Sunday Brought to You by Winter Hats, Nap Relief, and Relaxing Neighbor Visits

I found the desiccated pea and you took it from me, just as I raised it to my mouth; I found the gravel pellet, showed it to you and you took it from me; I moistened the lint, gummed it and, with a finger hooked into my mouth, you took it from me. I pull myself to standing, rock my hips back and forth, and vigorously point to the table, emitting a low proto-whine and still you do not give me the exact thing that will make things better, the solution to the day, the moment. It is raining outside and cold; there will be no stroller walk and proximity to the crib or changing table makes me cry. The jazz is more spirited than either of us feel.

I found your hat. It was near the red wooden dancing chicken and the blocked off kitchen drawers. I brought it to you, though it impedes my crawling -- I am a three-pronged crawler with a big knit hat sloping down my by torso. You put it on your head and lower it so I can take it off, which I do. Again. I relish it! You can not wear it on your hand. You can not wear it on your hand. Your elbow will not do either: your head! WHAT I can not wear it, I can not see, I wobble and hah! I am free. Again: On your head. On your head. On your head. I give it, you take it, I take it back. I relish it! You set the hat aside: NO. When you stand, I can not reach your head and the hat is on the floor again, this is not the game. You awakened this need in me, you can not abandon it for...what? A cutting board? Must I weep and make myself small, snug myself between your legs and the counter, clutch your pants and sway as if in a gale, staring only at your face? My whole body shakes with the wrongness of you standing, of you robotically opting for food prep over the floor and me and hats. I toss up a volley of B-sounds, I am boiling over with frustration, with protest.

*** There have been 3.5 times the normal crying jags today, making for a somewhat rough Sunday. Happily, the little one tired herself out and is (knock on wood) now napping*. I think she's boiling over with a lot of things just right now -- teething, almost walking, developmental wheels turning.

*She napped for a good long time, huzzah! Woke up a happier, more social baby

Slow progress for the picture book as I can fit it in:

  • finished carving "So they measured and mixed..." last night (at left)
  • two small-but-good adjustments  based on very useful, recent feedback from. So grateful for the help.  Artists and schoolteachers: good people to know!
   A.)  Carved out the eyes in block (on right)  "His Eyes Shone in the Dark"
  B.) Redrew the outside text border of an    early page and transferred the design onto a new block block yesterday (photo to come).
Current tally: three fully carved blocks lined up, ready for the printing

Current escapism:
Another late-to-the-party -- The Honorable Woman: grim, but so very, very good.