Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A Life and Death Story

Sean and I were sitting on the couch the other night and Dorothy was trying to subtly squeeze herself between us:  a typical night.  This meant that my body buffer zone was soon breached by bulldogge butt, since Dorothy always lies in the direction in which she can most easily gaze lovingly at her pack leader.  As I tried to waft the fumes in Sean’s direction, he wondered aloud why I had never written on my blog about the time he gallantly saved my life. 

I didn’t really have an answer for him, other than that the incident occurred in the month after Owen’s birth, a time both wonderful and horrible, and in which we were both getting to know our new tiny tyrant, as well as being busy forming an intimacy with certain wee small hours of the night that I for one would truthfully have been happy never to have met awake.

Plus it doesn’t really make for a good narrative.  But to give Sean his due, I was sitting innocently on the couch (I can’t pay the rent!), when I began choking on seemingly nothing (You must pay the rent!).  And not just cough cough, I can’t catch my breath, but more like whoosh! – all of a sudden I had absolutely no air in my lungs, nothing coming, nothing going, and I stood up and began to stagger in small circles, anticipating my imminent demise.  Sean had Owen in his arms, and once he realized what was happening, had to shove him onto the couch and then give me the heimlich (I'll pay the rent!).  Whatever was blocking my airway, was eventually cleared (My hero!).  And all was well, except that for the next few days I was scared to swallow.

It was really quite frightening.  But wasn’t that heroic of Sean?  I thought so and am grateful. 

But because I now told the story, I think that gives me the right to include here a photo which Sean isn’t too fond of, but I think hilarious.  Here he is in December photobombing a picture Susan was taking of Owen.

Funny, no?  But it gets better.  I texted the photo to Martha, and she and Henry reenacted the scene in a photo of their own:

Ha ha!  And then a few weeks ago I texted Martha a not very flattering similar photo of me and Owen:

And once again she and Henry reenacted the scene:

I’m sure Martha and Henry would be willing to reenact any photos of yourselves that you feel like sending her.  J

Sunday, July 28, 2013


Reading is my favorite thing to do and always has been, and I’m hoping that Owen will love to read as well.  Owen has a collection of board books, and it is interesting to me how opinionated he is about them.  There are some that he has loved from the beginning, some that he has learned to like, and others that for some reason make him get up and crawl away each time I read them—and usually he will abandon them at precisely the same moment each time too.  For a long time his favorite book was “Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes” by Mem Fox and Helen Oxenbury—from four months until about eleven months he would sit quietly and laugh and concentrate on each page.  Now he is done with that book though, and his favorite is Good Night, Gorilla.  I don’t really know what it is that he likes about that book; it’s a wonderful book, but a lot of the story has no words, and I don’t know if he understands what happens in the pictures or just likes to look at them? 

In general he is interested in animals in a book, and he really likes the board books that have one picture and one word on a page.  He likes “Freight Train” by Donald Crews now, although for the longest time he wouldn’t let me read that one to him.  He also used to like a (hugely) abridged board book version of Alice in Wonderland, but now that one bores him.  Strangely, since I think they are hilarious, he doesn’t much like the Boynton books, except for “Blue Hat, Green Hat” and “Moo, Baaa, La La La”.  I keep reading them to him anyway, but he keeps crawling away about a third of the way through.

I have learned to keep trying with a book though, as I can never tell when a previously disliked book will pique his interest.

One thing that really makes me laugh is that I can call him back into a room by reading a book.  If he is crawling around the dining room table and getting into mischief, all I have to do is open up Good Night, Gorilla and start reading it loudly and he will come slap slap slapping in a crawl version of a sprint until he reaches my lap and joins me in the reading.  Perhaps the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!

Here is Owen choosing one of my cookbooks to peruse:

Thursday, July 25, 2013

A Dorothy Update

My sister, Martha, and I like to quote to each other from the movie Persuasion.  And one of our favorite lines is when Mary says petulantly, “Why does everyone say I don’t care for a long walk?  I love a long walk!”  Or something to that extent.  Well now that quotation seems to apply to Miss Dorothy, since after a year and a half of, shall we say, eschewing a walk and lying flat on the city sidewalk in protest, Dorothy has discovered that she does indeed love a long walk.  And walks beautifully when she gets to go on one.

Because of the heat we haven’t been walking her daily, but when given the chance, she is more than happy to join her pack when it’s on the move.  And in case you are wondering, she still likes to find a stick and carry it about:

We’ve been giving Dorothy a daily zyrtec for her skin allergies, and it has done wonders so far on keeping her body hotspot free, and in keeping the UTI’s at bay.  She still has a rash on her head that you can see under the white fur.  I’m not sure what causes it or how to get rid of it (the only thing that has made it go away previously is antibiotics).  It doesn’t seem to bother her very much—she doesn’t scratch at it or anything.  You can just see that she has what look like bug bites up close.  And maybe they are mosquito bites?  It is possible.

The other issue she has at the moment is that her nose is all light brown and scabby.  When we googled it we found that it could be an allergic sun reaction?  I don’t know if that is right or not.  At any rate we got some Snout Soother and have tried to apply it, but Sean has to do it stealthily via “drive by” application, otherwise she freaks out if she sees it coming.  Has anyone else has similar issues with bulldogges?

Dorothy is also a somewhat picky eater.  We feed her Natural Balance venison, but she doesn’t love it.  We put a little of the wet food on top and she will eat that, but she often will leave the kibble in her bowl.  Frequently she isn’t eating her kibble because she ate grass in the yard and her stomach is upset, but I have no idea how to prevent that from happening, other than by not letting her go in the yard, which seems severe.  We keep hoping that she’ll learn to associate the grass eating with the upset stomach, but I’m afraid that is but a pipe dream.  So anyway, Dorothy is a little skinny at the moment (the only member of the family with that particular problem, ahem).  She’s about fifty pounds, but is a little bit ribsy-looking.  I think we need to fatten her up a bit.

Dorothy thinking, I’ll eat anything off the barbie.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

It's Cool In Ikea

One thing I have learned from getting up at the crack of dawn with an infant is that 7:30 then seems like the middle of the morning.  And what better thing to do in the middle of the morning than go for a walk?  So on the weekends, I’ve been taking Owen on a walk in his bugaboo early, which also makes sense since the heat is perhaps a degree less oppressive then.  Of course, I also tend to take him on a walk at around 5:30 p.m. on a weekend day too, because by then he is fussy and I reach a point where I have to Get Us Both Out Of The House. 

And if end-of-the-day thunder storms should be threatening, then so much the better.  It turns out that Owen laughs hysterically when out in the rain.  He finds it very funny.

Last Saturday Sean had the good idea of getting us all out of the house, yet keeping cool, by going to Ikea.  It turns out that when there isn’t traffic, it only takes us about twenty minutes to get there, too.  So we drove to Ikea and then walked slowly through the store pathway.  Owen enjoyed looking at the other kids there from his perch on Sean’s stomach, and we also purchased him some ridiculously inexpensive wooden toys.

When we returned home, Owen played with his toys, and the cats immediately climbed into the Ikea bag.  For what could be more fun?

Posy thinking, I'm not Swedish, but I'm sweet-ish.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Smells Like School Spirit

In a slightly uncharacteristic burst of school spirit, I got Owen a Bowdoin onesie and then tried to get him to model it.  He wasn't feeling very obliging:

No doubt he was probably a little concerned that by the time he is old enough to go to college, such educational experiences will be only for the wealthy 1%.

Or perhaps he was just worried about the state of liberal arts education today.

I was able to put his mind at ease a bit however.

Go U Bears!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

What Kind of Bird Is This?

Sean got us a bird bath a month or so ago, and put it in our back yard, upon which, as I mentioned in a previous entry, I parked a yard pig next to it.  I have seen a few birds use the bath, mostly the endless parade of robins we have in our yard.  (Have I mentioned that like Dorothy, I am not fond of robins?  To me they seem cantankerous in nature and beady of eye.  Plus they are EVERYWHERE these days.  I think global warming has been good for Pennsylvania robins.).

Anyway, as I was saying, although birds have been using the bath, someone else has been using it too – as a goblet from which she can drink warm liquids while out lolling about in her yard.  Yes!  Dorothy drinks from the bird bath!  I wasn’t able to get a good picture of her doing so, but this will give you the general idea.

She stands up like it's a water fountain from days of yore and laps up all the water.  I’m not sure if it is that she is really genuinely thirsty, or if she is just determined to foster no spa for robins in her beloved sanctuary of a yard.

And related to things where they shouldn't be, please examine this innocent looking box of pampers:

Do you spy some purple fur?

Someone is just as fond of box snoozing as ever.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Gone Swimming?

It has been swelteringly hot and humid here ever since – conveniently enough – the day they finished installing our new central air.  So while we have been cool as cucumbers indoors, we melt and sweat and generally get cranky while out and about.  And there has not been even the smallest of breaks in this assault of moist heat. 

We thus thought last Saturday that perhaps Owen might enjoy a swim in the pool we got from our neighbors.  We thought that if we filled it in the morning, then the water would be the right temperature by the time Owen was ready to swim in the late afternoon.  However, it was a little more difficult to fill up the pool than you might think, due to a certain bulldogge’s tendency to try to intercept the stream of water from hose to pool with her gaping maw of a mouth:

Dorothy loves to attack hose water.  She will jump and flip and do any acrobatics possible to drink the spray.  Crazy girl.

After his afternoon nap, I dressed Owen in his adorable whale swim trunks and tried to get a photo, but he was feeling squirmy, as well as convinced that we were up to something bad.  Here’s what I could come up with:

It was so hot out that by the time we went to put Owen in the pool, the water was really a little too warm.  At any rate, Owen, as is his wont when approaching new experiences, was Very Suspicious.  We decided to add familiarity to the pool by putting his “tub” in it first and sitting him in that.  After a few moments of that we were able to then place him directly in the pool itself.  And he gave the water a little splash or two, but I wouldn’t quite say that fun was had.  We shall try again though.

Here is Owen, Not So Sure:

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Mister Softee & the Mummers

We had a low-key Fourth of July celebration this year.  Feeling somewhat lazy, I decided that since Owen wouldn’t remember it anyway, I could wait a year to bake a flag cake and festoon our front path with flags and pinwheels.

We did go to the 4th of July parade in Glenside, however, despite the 90-degree temperatures.  We put Owen in the baby bjorn on Sean and headed out to see what we could see.  While we were waiting, both Owen and I tried some Mister Softee soft-serve for the first time, while Sean had a reunion with an old favorite.  For the record, Owen liked the few spoonfuls of vanilla I shared with him, but wasn’t as equally enamored with the rainbow sprinkles. 

While waiting for the parade to start, we entertained Owen by flipping open the car key—this always makes him smile.

And then he was quite willing to watch as the various bands and horses and firetrucks went by.  This being the Philadelphia region, of course one of the acts was a Mummer string band.

I was fond of the bagpipe brigade myself.  We stayed about thirty minutes all in all, before gladly slinking back to the cool of our living room.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Hospitality, Bulldogge Style

My sister and her daughters stopped by to visit on their way to tour a few east coast colleges and to vacation with my parents in Maine, so Owen was able to experience what it would be like to live in a household filled with womyn.  And I have to say that although a bit shy, he did quite enjoy his cousins and aunt, and continued his fascination with blonde hair.

But let me back up a bit first.  I feel the need to document, especially after my last post on Owen’s frequent crankiness, that since Thursday he has been an absolute angel.  Now I know that in saying so I’m guaranteeing that tonight he will be a bear, but he has been nothing but happy and pleasant for the past six days.  This morning, he was even so happy to be awake that he just sat next to me on the bed and laughed to himself.  It’s been a nice change of affairs!

But back to the visit.  It didn’t quite get off to the best of beginnings, when while waiting for us to return from the train station, the girls had a mishap on our porch swing.

Oops.  But other than that, things went quite well!  Meredith, Lily, and Avery all were very accommodating as I barked out certain Owen Naptime rules like a crazy woman—basically they were not to stir while Owen was sleeping or breathe too loudly or use the bathroom.  And I thank them for that!  No naptimes were interrupted!

Every time Owen woke up, he was surprised to discover that there were People In The House.  He was very interested in this happenstance, and would glance at his cousins and then turn his head and bury his face in my shoulder.  But then he would always soon peek out again to see what was going on.  Avery was hoping to get a few smiling selfies with him, but Owen was not feeling quite comfortable enough for that.  Here he is with Avery, looking pleasant:

But guess who was quite pleased to take selfies with Avery?!  Dorothy, that’s who!  Does it get any better than this?

Yes, it does!  Here are the “girls” lounging around in the heat of the afternoon:

Dorothy, as I’ve said here before, LOVES houseguests and LOVES teens and children.  She spent the 48 hours they were here trying constantly to engage them in some kind of playing or cuddling activity, getting out all her toys one by one, and also quite certain that if two people were sitting on a couch, well then there was certainly room for a bulldogge to squeeze herself in!  She also had to check on the houseguests while they were sleeping, by snorting and crying softly outside their bedroom door.  Such a conscientious hostess!

Eventually, we did leave Sean, Owen, and Dorothy behind, and went into the city for a few additional photo ops.  Here are three-fourths of the Hunters loving Philadelphia:

And here’s Lily with a Mexican coke, and Avery enjoying the culinary delights of El Vez. 

And while they were doing so, Meredith and I were enjoying these lovely blood orange margaritas:



I’m glad Meredith and the girls included us on their annual summer journey, and I can only imagine what their next visit will be like, when Owen will probably be running all around and talking up a storm….  

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Who Doesn't Like A Yard Pig

When I was young, I had dreams of owning a pig.  Pigs were my favorite animal, I collected pig figurines, and each year I'd put a pig on the top of my Christmas list, which of course my parents sensibly ignored.

So then when I was 25 I got myself a fine pug, since there was only one letter difference.  And all was well.

And now I have an Olde English Bulldogge and no pug, but I do have a front and back yard.  And what better to do with those yards then to fill them up with yard pigs?!

For mother's day this year I procured my first yard pig and he is now sitting happily by our bird bath:

One down, many more to go!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Is There Such a Thing as an Easy Baby?

Because I would definitely say that for the record, Owen is not one.  He was on and off colicky his first five or so months, and although we did get past that phase, in general Owen’s default mode is grumpy.  Sure he has a great laugh which he displays often, as well as a smile that he will show if we work for it.  But he always seems to return to curmudgeon, whereas I keep hoping that he will discover pleasant.

Of course we have learned to work with his moods—we know, for example, to do any kind of activity on the nearside of a nap and not the farside.  We’ve learned that he can be reset with a walk, and with music, be it live or recorded.  The Bugaboo usually works, too, even if it’s the middle of the night, so one’s stroll is around the dining room table.  But there are still times when even though we have all been living together for ten plus months now, Owen will throw us for a loop and we’ll feel like we just brought him home from the hospital and barely know which end to diaper and which end to feed.

Take yesterday, for example.  Owen was taking a nice, normal afternoon nap, and all of a sudden woke up screaming his pain cry.  I went upstairs to get him and nothing seemed out of the ordinary, except that he could not be consoled.  We tried food, we tried entertainment, we tried baby Tylenol, and nothing worked—he continued to cry and arch his back and escalate his tantrum at each thing we tried to do to end it. 

After two hours of this, Sean finally strapped on the Baby Bjorn and took Owen out for a walk in the rain, and although he fully expected to walk down the streets with Owen screaming his head off, Owen immediately got quiet and enjoyed the walk.  And then came home happy.

Meanwhile we still have no idea what was bothering him in the first place—teething?  Intestinal gas?  Existential angst?

Basically, I like to be good at things and it is frustrating to have to take a touch and go approach to something that seems so important to get right.  I’m beginning to think that people go on to have a second child just so they can erase images of their own ineptitude and replace them with recognition and skill – ah, the middle of the night crying jag, for example, I remember how to solve this!  The diaper blow-out, I can do that one-handed!  Etc.

I am exaggerating a bit—there’s plenty that we both do well and do naturally, and there are also many ways in which we do have it easy with Owen.  But in the meantime, Sean keeps adding to the list of chores Owen is going to have to do when he gets older to repay us for his infant attitude.  And I continue to wonder how thirty pounds of personality can be such an enigma.