Sunday, November 25, 2007

Toddler fears

Thomas is starting to be afraid of things. It's interesting to see the logic and survival advantage of some of his fears -- and the random insanity of others.

A while back I worried on here about how to get him not to touch the radiators. He put his hand on one accidentally a couple days after they came on, just for a second. He wasn't burned, but he was frightened. Now, about twenty times a day, he points at the radiator in whatever room he's in and says, "AAAA!", looking at us. We say, "Yes, that's hot. It's a radiator. We shouldn't touch it," and he confirms this: "AAA!" Very seriously. Like he wants to make sure we know to watch out for that thing. It's scary, mama. Don't touch it. Occasionally he wobbles unsteadily from room to room, pointing out each of the radiators in turn: "AAAA!" Good survival fear, right?

On the other hand, about two weeks ago he was starting to get pretty dry overnight in his room and the cheapo humidifier I bought last winter wasn't cutting it. Matt did a ton of research and bought him a nice one online. Warm mist, automatic something, humid-de-whatsit, and a lot of other nice buzzwords. It really is great. (I want one for our room now.) But the first time we set it up we set the humidity setting wrong somehow and instead of shutting off when it got to 40 percent humidity or whatever we thought we'd set it at, it just kept going. It humidified at an alarming rate! In fact the warm mist condensed on the ceiling and ran across it, where it dripped all over the room.

Naturally, sleeping in a tropical rain forest (recall that it was also 85 degrees) came as a surprise to Thomas. He woke up and one of us retrieved him to go back to sleep in our bed. This is a normal occurrence so we didn't think much of it. We put him back to bed after he fell asleep and he woke up again. It wasn't till I went into his room to sleep on the floor (he likes this) that I realized I was being rained on. Then I noticed that Thomas's bed, being under the runoff zone for the aforementioned ceiling-river, was very wet. At that point we adjourned to the adult bedroom for the rest of the night.

Now, ever since that night Thomas has been ambivalent about sleeping in his crib. He'd rather sleep on the mattress on the floor of his room (if he can't have our bed, that is). We're thinking about taking the crib out for good and letting him have his bed on the floor for a trial and see how it goes. But that wasn't the point of this post, was it? No.

The point of the post was the next day, when I tried to put Thomas down for a nap, he suddenly started screaming. I couldn't figure out what was wrong and I pulled out all my normal mama tricks to reassure him, but it just wasn't working. Suddenly I realized he wasn't just screaming, he was screaming at something, something in his crib. It was a stuffed gazelle, part of the mobile that hangs over his bed. I picked it up. He wailed and pointed at it. I offered it to him, gently (this is how we've been handling new fears -- occasionally he just takes the thing and stops being afraid of it). He pulled his hand away. I had to take it away and hide it. Then put him back to sleep. I told Matt I thought it had fallen into his bed when the water was dripping all over him. Maybe it hit him, or maybe he blames it for his bad night. Totemic magic or something.

Ever since then, whenever he sees the gazelle he freaks out. But he's also obsessed with it. I can't just take it away, because he follows me and tries to find it. He wants to keep it in sight. Even the week we spent in San Diego didn't make him forget: Friday I accidentally left it somewhere he could see it, and when I tried to hide it in our closet he climbed on the bed and kept pointing at the closet and shrieking. Finally I had to take it out while he was watching, carry it to the front door, call him over, open both doors to the outside, and heave it into the front yard, locking the doors firmly behind it. Then I told Thomas it had gone away, and let him look out the window to (not) see it.

I brought it back in when he wasn't looking and took it to the basement to wash and store it. It accidentally got brought back up and Thomas found it again yesterday. We had to give it the same treatment. Beware the stuffed gazelle!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Self-indulgence or self-care?

Well, Thomas's heart looks good, but not quite as good as last time. His cardiologist is being cautious and didn't take any medicines away. Luckily Thomas really likes his medicines.

As anyone who's been a Ph.D. student or a mom, not to mention both, will know, I've been a little frazzled lately. Between the job market, the dissertation, the toddler, and the inevitable householdish tasks (which I hate, can I stop living in our world now and go live in one where things Just Work? where you don't have to call the insurance companies to find out why they both refused a bill they're both responsible for and the landlord's gas doesn't get shut off, so the dryer has heat?), I've been walking the thin line between sanity and... well, we all know what's on the other side of that line.

Friday I had an icky day, nothing major, just no end to the minor frustrations, together with the continual major frustration of knowing I was within a couple hours of having that draft ready--a couple hours I didn't have! Matt brought me home some dried apricots and chocolate covered almonds. I'm embarrassed to record here for posterity how many there were, but I will admit I finished them all by Monday.

Today was another yucky day. I was a little disappointed in the cardiology result (he's doing so well, clinically speaking). Worse, Thomas was terrified when they put the electrodes on him to do his EKG today. He's always loved cardiology appointments in the past -- they are a children's hospital, so there are lots of kids and everybody makes a huge fuss over him. But now he is a toddler and suddenly scared of things. The electrodes scared him so then he didn't want anybody to touch him the rest of the day. Except me, thankfully. His cardiologist is great -- knows this age and his personality and was very gentle and talked to him respectfully -- and once everybody else left he did reluctantly let her examine him and even smiled at her. And she is not worried about the echo results so I won't worry either -- at least this is what I keep telling everyone and myself. I miss Amy.

So tonight, between pushing myself so hard lately and this unfortunate day and no caffeine all day -- I was too busy to make tea this morning and had neither cash nor time to get anything at the hospital -- I was drained by the time Matt got home. He sent me to bed. ("Go lie down!" is something you can usually only get away with saying to your dog.) I made myself a cup of chai with milk and more sugar than I usually put in a whole pot, and lay down to reread one of my theological fantasy books.

That got me started thinking -- what is the line between self-care and self-indulgence? Does it only start to be self-indulgent if you aren't grateful?

I'm grateful. And I'm also grateful for this time right now, which I'm using to upload three whole months (yikes!) worth of pictures, mostly of Thomas, to our gallery. Since there were so many, there are updates in a bunch of different albums -- it's like a scavenger hunt! Enjoy.

Oh, I forgot to mention my brush with fame in one of my favorite blogs. What extraordinary talent or quality of learning does my newfound (and no doubt shortlived) notoriety rest on, you ask? Why, knowledge of outdated internet memes, of course!

I live to serve the internet.

i think i did it...

First three chapters. To advisor. That's a hundred and [mumbles] some pages.

Hopefully I can do my mid-course review now!

I was so proud of myself I let myself play two hours of the Sims 2 Pets. I was so messed up in the head by the end of that that I decided to make a couple roommates who fall in love the first day who are all dressed up to match their dogs. The guy has whiskers on his face, like Halloween makeup. They're going to be dog breeders. What a weird family.

Now I'm really, really tired. But I did it! Maybe tomorrow I'll try to reflect on where I am now. But now, too brain dead. Sleep. Good night.

Oh! I take Thomas to the cardiologist tomorrow. Prayers for reduction of medicines are rising like incense...

Sunday, November 04, 2007


Thomas took an anti-nap last night. He woke up about 12:15. I nursed him back to sleep and he woke up as soon as I set him down. I cuddled him back to sleep and he woke up as soon as Matt put him down. Matt rocked him back to sleep. Et cetera.

He ended up staying up 3.5 hours, having his diaper changed, getting an extra snack, going to the bathroom, playing with his toys, and just generally causing mayhem and having a grand time. Matt stayed up with him and I went to bed, and eventually fell asleep again, which is good because I have an observation this morning.

I'm so hoping this won't become a habit.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

With the beautiful people

I have a job interview (!) at this year's AAR so I had to go get a suit. There's a seven-floor (!) Macy's one block from Thomas's daycare so I went after I dropped him off. I can't believe how many kinds of clothes one can buy, if one is so inclined. I wasn't. But I did get a nice outfit for my interview. And although it took several hours, it seemed less tedious than shopping usually does. I guess I must be excited about this job opportunity! Plus where the beautiful people shop (Water Tower Place), all the salespeople are always there to answer all your questions, tell you the jacket's too big and whisk in 60 seconds later with the three next smaller sizes. It's partly flattering and partly unnerving.

Where the beautiful people shop? They have a wide selection of 32DD bras. Wow.

Now back to the dissertation.