Sunday, April 28, 2013

Less Bell, More Pedal

At some point in the little strip of evening that exists after I get home from work and before Owen goes to bed, we have been hanging out a bit on the front porch—either on the swing or on the steps.  Our beautiful front yard tree is blooming and almost every day new flowers appear in our yard.  (Including tulips!  My favorite).  Owen really likes to go out on the porch—so much so that if you walk to the door just to look out, and then don’t open it and go outside, he will often start to cry.  O nobody knows the trouble he’s seen!

Owen also likes to watch the cars when they go by, and the kids that circle past on their bicycles.  There’s a whole bunch of girls who live nearby whose ages, as far as I can guess, are about 6-9.  The other day two were stopping to turn in front of our house, and one said to the other, “My dad says he won’t buy me a new bike until I teach Lily how to ride.”  And then she continued morosely, “And I don’t think Lily will ever learn how to ride a bike.”  I snickered a bit and thought about how that dad seemed to be outsourcing his own job a bit.  Shouldn’t he be the one who teaches Lily how to ride her bike?  Hmmpf.

Then a few days later, I indeed saw the Dad teaching a younger girl I’m assuming was Lily how to ride.  He was holding on to the back of the bike helping her keep her balance, as she gleefully smiled and rang the bike’s bell over and over.  The older sister who had done the talking the previous day then said to Lily in a very snide older-sister voice:  “Less bell, more pedal.”

It made me laugh out loud, and I’ve been using the phrase to admonish myself all week.  Elizabeth!  Less bell, more pedal. 

I mean, bells have their place, and sometimes one should do nothing but exuberantly clang a bicycle bell over and over.  But other times it's the grunt work that matters and one should just pedal to get to where one needs to go.  I could certainly try to do more pedaling myself.

And I’m pretty sure I saw Lily whiz by my house on her bike today, as Owen hung upside-down off my lap and laughed.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Spring Cats and a Spring Bulldogge

The trees and flowers are really beginning to bloom here--all the pink trees are erupting and our front yard is filled with flowers.  Many days we have been able to have the windows open, and we're also beginning to use the back porch again.  The pets are enjoying all the change in scenery.  Here is Posy up in a windowsill watching starlings frolic on our roof.  You'll note some sort of weeping pink tree in the background.  It's in our neighbor's yard and is quite lovely.

I also enjoy giggling a bit at Posy's flat profile.  If she tipped her head back, one could rest a coffee mug on her face.  :)

Now here Posy is a few minutes later cleaning all the windowsill dirt off her small person:

Dorothy has started to do a lot of snoozing in her yard.  One of her favorite spots is in the sun on our wee deck.  My pug, Tulip, would have chosen this spot for herself.

Ever a bit strange, Plum has been spending his time in a small, uncomfortable spot on a counter.  Don't ask me why.  He always looks like he is about to roll off.  His butt is wedged in by our microwave, and his head is too close to Owen's bottle rack.

Owen really enjoys spending time out on our front porch (no mosquitoes yet!) and one evening I was sitting out with him and felt like I was being watched.  I turned around and saw this in the doorway:

Plum spying on us!  And then trying to pretend he wasn't doing so.  Ahem.

We have a beautiful tree that takes up most of our front yard that is on the verge of blossoming.  I'm not sure what it is?  Perhaps some kind of cherry?  At any rate, once it is in full flower I plan to  take pictures of Dorothy underneath in a kind of Ferdinand motif.  A bulldogge surrounded by flowers!  How lovely.....

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Owen's April Outfits

It has taken me a little longer this time to come up with a collection of sartorial photos of Owen.  These days Sean dresses Owen most weekday mornings, so I am not standing there to document the occasion.  Plus although Owen is definitely bursting the seams of his 9-month clothing, he has been able to wear the 12-month outfits for awhile now.  Perhaps his growing is slowing down a bit?  At any rate, here is Owen in a nice skateboard outfit from his Aunt Meredith.  I think he likes it!

And the next three photos are of Owen wearing a newsboy cap purchased by his Aunt Susan.  It is still a little big for him, but nonetheless he seemed quite pleased to have it on his head:

Next Owen is hanging out in a natty striped hoodie from his Aunt Martha.  You'll also notice that he is sporting his first wound on the bridge of his nose.  He acquired this jewel while attempting to crawl on the couch and doing a faceplant on a laptop.

And then we have more pictures of Owen in his "octogenarian dandy" mode.  He usually wears his fedora when he goes on walks in the stroller, and seems quite willing to keep it on his head--at least so far.  Please excuse the mishmash of stripes he is wearing in a lot of these photos.  We had a sudden heat spell -- it went from the fifties to a few days in the high eighties, and then back into the fifties -- and I wasn't quite sure where I had put most of his short-sleeved tops.

And then here is Owen wearing his new Boden overalls from his Granny and Grandfather.  These look very cute on him, plus they button up into shorts, too!

I'm not a big fan of the hot weather myself, but Owen has many adorable summer outfits to wear when it gets warm enough and he gets a tad bigger—all sorts of rompers that I think will look good with fat legs and little brown sandals.  And then of course there is always the idea of Owen in swimming trunks to get one giggling.  Perhaps he is the type who wears a speedo?  Or maybe a turn of the century striped one-piece?  Hmmmm.....

Saturday, April 20, 2013

To Sleep, Perchance To Dream

When I lived in my Philadelphia apartment, the couple who lived in the apartment above me had a baby who was not only a beauty, but was the elusive white whale of infants, in that from night one, she slept six to eight hours in a row.  As a result, both parents seemed perpetually perky, although they politely attributed her sleeping skills to pure luck.  Owen was not such a sleeper, but in the first few months I considered us pretty lucky all in all—he never had his days and nights messed up like some babies do, and in general, after eating his fill, he was usually willing to fall back asleep with rather minimal fuss.  Of course we did have a few hell-ish nights in which he was fretful and awake, but Owen’s witching hours were the witching hours of a colicky baby—from 3 to 9 pm; once he went to bed for the night all was generally well.

And then things got even better, so that by October and all through November, Owen went down in his crib at 8, slept for 7-8 hours, woke up for a feeding and then went back to sleep until 7.  “This isn’t so bad!” we thought.  “We can do this!” we chirped.  And indeed, we might even have felt rather good at it.  Upon which – of course – came December and Owen’s sleeping fell to pot, where it has remained ever since, crumbled and broken into two-hour intervals.  On a good night.

We found ourselves slipping into bad habits—for example, putting Owen to sleep for the first round of the night in his bugaboo in our dining room, which quickly became the only place he would go to sleep.  At the time we were doing it, we knew it was a no-no, but at the time we were doing it, we were EXHAUSTED and didn’t care where he slept as long as he was sleeping.  To make a long story short, it got so that Owen would only nap in his bugaboo (which he was quickly outgrowing) with the ocean on the white noise machine, and this was after we had walked him around our dining room table until we were sick with dizziness.  Then we’d have to tiptoe around the first floor, taking care not to wake him, getting angry at the pets when they did, and trying to watch movies over the ebb and flow of the high tide in the next room.  In the evenings, he’d fall asleep in the bugaboo first, and then end up in our bed, pleased as punch to be there, and getting up all night long every two hours for feedings, which all the books say he did not need.

I read a sleep book recommended by our pediatrician, Sleeping Through The Night, by Jodi Mindell, and we decided to commence sleep training.  We would put him in his crib, and be prepared for him to cry, upon which we would go into the room and pat his back very neutrally and then walk out again, being neither too sympathetic nor too entertaining.  It was supposed to take 45 minutes the first night, 1 hour the second, and 20 minutes the third, after that tapering off.  It did take 45 minutes the first night, but the second night he went right to sleep, and the third night cried for about ten minutes.  Hooray!  We were pleased.  However, the gist of this kind of sleep training method was that once Owen learned how to put himself to sleep, then when he woke up in the night, he would eventually put himself back to sleep on his own accord.  The only potential roadblock to achieving this goal was – you guessed it—babies who got up to comfort nurse. 

So at the moment we are at a bit of a standstill.  Owen goes to sleep in his crib (and takes all his naps in his crib), but he wakes up two hours later and joins me for a night of Milk! Every! Two! Hours!  It is not ideal, and I am often dumb with lack of sleep (Sean has forbidden me to use the word “thing”, as my speech had disintegrated to sentences that were basically “can you take the thing and use it on the other thing so that that thing can be put in the thing.”)  And I have a feeling that if I were home all day with Owen, I’d be less likely to tolerate being so involved in his night.  But I am away from him a good ten hours during the day, so although I had never been a proponent of the family bed, I find myself mostly okay these days with sleeping in one.

I’ve been culling the blogworld for similar tales of sleep woes and have found many interesting stories of babies with sleeping prowess and babies who are sleep challenged.  The most helpful entry I’ve read is this one, in which the author more or less reaches the conclusion that we have reached.

Perhaps the most realistic piece of advice I’ve received regarding babies and sleep has been to not get attached to any kind of sleeping routine, because the minute you get attached, it changes, and usually not for the better.  Although discouraging, this seems to be realistic advice. Owen was sick with his first cold last week and for three or four days he did not sleep much at all, instead choosing to snuffle and writhe and scream and arch his back.  After a few nights of that—during which we regressed back to the bugaboo and the ocean in the dining room—I was so pleased he was willing to sleep in his normal two-hour stints, that I had indeed forgotten what it was about that routine that had so annoyed me in the first place.

We have also done many of the things recommended to make his crib seem a hospitable place.  We play in his room, so that it doesn’t only have sleep connotations; we do a consistent books bath boob bed routine; we have a nightlight; we have a somewhat creepy turtle that makes ocean sounds while projecting lights on the ceiling so that it looks like Owen’s room is underwater (this is more soothing than it sounds!); and when Owen was sick last week we also got a humidifier that, quite by chance, also projects stars and the moon in various colors on his ceiling (Hmmm, should I be surprised that Owen is having trouble sleeping through what seems to be the Led Zeppelin laser show on his ceiling?!)

Now Owen has recovered from his cold, and has been napping beautifully in his crib during the day, but the past few nights has initially cried and talked and screamed for 45 minutes plus, before I finally go back into his room and nurse him to sleep again, upon which he is placed happily oblivious into the offending white Ikea prison.  Will he do the same thing again tonight?  I certainly don’t know.  Last night after all that initial protest, he only woke up for snacks at 12 and at 3—not too bad, really (and I should also clarify that when he does wake up to nurse, he only takes about 5 minutes to get his fill and then immediately falls back asleep again).

The ironic thing, of course, is that Owen refuses to do what at this point I would almost kill for—and that is to go to bed, and sleep a beautifully linked chain of peaceful, uninterrupted hours.  The most exquisite of luxuries!  In the meantime we are playing it by ear, cobbling together a routine that eventually will work for all of us, and being certain that come, say, junior high, Owen will not be sharing our bed.

Now really, does this look so terrible?!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Owen Feeling Wretched

Owen has had his first cold this past week, and he is still feeling quite poorly.  Not one to be stoic about his own suffering, he has spent the week refusing to sleep and doing a lot of wailing and writhing and including us in his wretchedness.  The clip below is an example of what our week has been like.  The part of Owen is played by Walter Muppet:

Monday, April 8, 2013

Plum: A Follow Up

Since my post a few weeks ago regarding the problems we had been having with Plum--namely his compulsion to "water" all the vertical surfaces in our house -- things have been relatively, well, dry.  We've forbidden both cats to go in the basement, we put up two new litter boxes elsewhere, and we plugged in a Feliway pheromone releaser that is supposed to calm cats and lower their stress levels.

The vet proscribed prozac for Plum, but he couldn't keep the prozac down.  We then tried another med -- something with "calm" in the title -- and that seems to work, except it makes him really groggy so I'm only giving it to him every three or four days.

Last weekend Plum had --I don't want to call them "accidents", as they are done quite on purpose, it seems to me -- two, shall we say, moments of nefarious purpose whereupon he sprayed the pantry door and left a puddle on the kitchen floor.  Irksome, yes.  But we noticed that the Feliway dispenser was empty!  So perhaps the Feliway really is working, if he only began to spray again once it had run out?  I am hopeful, at any rate.

Plum thinking, don't be so sure.

It's my party, and I'll spray if I want to....

Update:  of course about five minutes after I wrote the above entry, Plum went wilding through the house and sprayed in about four different spots, including my bed upon which I was sitting at the time.  The humans were all quite glum about it, but we have decided to just keep trying to get him through his period of stress.  Wish us luck.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

But They Are So Cute and Fluffy!

It is not necessarily easy to love someone else's pets, and combining our two households has not always been smooth sailing.

I find my cats quite lovable, mostly, but this little gal can caterwaul so loudly that the very foundation of this house rattles.

I don't even know what "whisper" means.

And Plum can be even more prickly, what with his penchant for marking Sean's belongings and sharpening his talons on Sean's couch.  Sigh.

I'm pretty sure I heard that couch mocking me.

In general, Sean is a pretty good sport about taking my pets' less appealing antics in stride.  But being a bit of an empath, and oh-so-sensitive, and attuned to all the emotions in this household, I was able to figure out that sometimes my cats really get on his nerves.  

Or maybe it was this arts and crafts of his that clued me in....:

Oh dear.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Posy Under the Knife

After four or so years of hemming and hawing, Ms. Posy Fern had dental surgery on Friday.  I’ve long been conflicted about pet dentistry.  My pug, Tulip, did not have the best of teeth, and I did have her teeth cleaned about four or five times in the second half of her life.  Anesthesia is always an extra risk with pets who are brachycephalic—i.e. smushed face animals – though, and over the years pet dentistry seems to have “evolved” from a set-price procedure to a major financial investment.  Leaving aside the fact that we can’t afford it, I have some ethical issues over paying more for my pets’ dentistry than I can afford for my own.

So even though vets have been telling me for the past four years that both my cats had terrible teeth and gum issues, I’d been stalling doing anything about it.  Recently, our new vet – whom I like very much and is a no-nonsense kind of doctor – told us that Posy’s mouth issues were so bad that she was definitely in a lot of pain.  Left untreated, we’d be compromising her quality of life, as well as paving the way for eventual blood poisoning.  She told us both cats needed the procedure, but Posy much more so than Plum.  We finally signed Posy up for surgery and Sean brought her in on Friday, empty-bellied, and somewhat subdued to be taken on this unusual father/daughter adventure.

Once she was under anesthesia and x-rays had been taken, the vet called me to tell me what she planned to do and to get my permission.  Basically, Posy had her “cheek teeth” removed (most were in various states of resorption, a common problem for brachycephalic pets), and then major gum repair done in the places where she had stalagmites but no stalactites, so to speak:  teeth going up or teeth going down with no mirror image above, thus leading to gum carnage with every bite the poor gal made.

The good news is that everything went very well, and the other good news is that it ended up being significantly less expensive than the initial quote.  Posy came home loopy on pain meds, and spent her first thirty-six hours in our guest room suite, where she could be sure to not be bothered by Plum or Dorothy.  Of course, being Posy and being feisty, she spent her second night yowling behind the closed door demanding her freedom.  She purred from the moment she got home though, and ate immediately too—both good signs.  She has yet to clean herself, so I know that she is feeling some mouth pain still, but hopefully she’ll re-start her cleaning OCD in the next day or so.

I was pretty sure she was feeling much better in the wee small hours of the night last night, when I was awakened by Posy playing a mean game of paw hockey with a balled-up candy wrapper all over my bedroom floor.  Thanks, Posy!

Here is Posy Saturday morning, still enjoying the hallucinatory effects of her pain meds:

This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius!....

Monday, April 1, 2013

A Treatise By Owen


Owen would like you to know that he does not suffer fools gladly.

You there, are you paying attention?

And as such he has been working hard on The Unbearable Slowness of Dressing:  A Treatise, by Owen M. Gares.

You see, the whole process from hat to socks is just interminably slow.  

The only okay part is when you tickle my armpits!

Now that's funny!

Why pajamas and a onesie can sometimes take two whole minutes!  And those are minutes that could have been spent doing other things, like gargling, or hollering or sinking two teeth into fingers and arms.

Got that?

And henceforth!

No, that's it.  Treatise complete.