Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Taking Stock

We sit here, on the cusp of 2009 (hoping we'll make it to midnight) and looking back on the year nearly completely behind us. So here's where we've been and what we've seen.

We got the news that life would never be the same. We tried to get our last blast(s).

We were warned of dangers and complications. We learned to respectfully ignore instructions.

We wondered when life would return to normal. We redefined our idea of normal.

We were given the ultimate gift, and realized just how high the price for it could be.

We walked around, a lot. We slept much too little.

We realized that the costly kitchen remodel was totally worth it at 3am, when the new hood vent was the only thing that worked.

We laughed. We cried, too. A lot.

We learned to account for head clearance - a tad too late a couple of times.

We did more internet searches with the word "baby" than anyone thought possible.

We tried to keep our sense of humor, and sometimes even succeeded.

We waged wars, and mended broken dog hearts.

We traveled cross country, realizing that it was almost as hard as getting across town.

We wished we'd gone to massage school.

We were scared. And hopeful. And scared again. And hopeful again.

We understood how indescribable what we were doing really was.

We looked forward to the year ahead.

Happy New Year, everyone.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Happy Birthday!!!

It's Grandpa Vlad's birthday today!  Sending an Otter shout-out (quite literally) his way!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Rollin' Rollin' Rollin'

On December 27, 2008, one day after turning the ripe old age of 4 months, Otter reached a momentous milestone by rolling from tummy to back.  It was less of a roll, than an angry 2-stage flop, meant to rescue her from the indignity of Tummy Time.  The first time it happened she landed on her back, looking around in shock at her new perspective.  We clapped, oohed, ahhed and rewarded her efforts by promptly putting her back into the position she'd just worked so hard to escape.

Otter indulged us a few more times, now through a constant flow of tears.  I think she kept hoping we'd let up, put away the video camera, and pick her up.  But we don't roll like that.  As I'm sure she's quickly realizing, Mom and Dad kinda suck.  So like a trained seal, SB was forced to roll, roll and roll some more, all in the name of strengthening her muscles or some such made-up nonsense we invented to make ourselves feel better about our cruelty.  Finally, she'd had enough and went on strike, lying face down, screaming loudly and planning how she was going to pay us back.  I'm pretty sure she'll think of something soon.  

Friday, December 26, 2008

Otter's 4...

...months old!  She's older, wiser and far more polished in her hippy chick dress.  She now wears 3-6 month sized clothes, has gotten far more trendy in her outfit choices and has sophisticated taste in toys.  Or rather the taste of toys.  Everything is fair game for licking and drooling.

She's developing a sense of self, including a list of things that self likes and dislikes.  She is becoming willful and opinionated and has no problem telling us when she doesn't approve of our decisions.  In short, she's becoming more of a little person each day, with all the rewards and challenges that that carries...

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

This Christmas season has been weirdness to the nth degree.  People who should have shown up didn't, having gotten stranded due to weather.  People who weren't expected, came knocking on doors only to leave again before Christmas actually came.  But here is the long and the short of it, or rather, the long-winded story in Cliff Notes shorthand...

Otter went for a checkup and got more vaccines.  She also got weighed and is now 11 lbs., 8 1/2 oz. Though after 15 minutes of carrying her, she seems much, much heavier.

Bree's sister Erica drove in from Colorado unexpectedly with her husband and baby.  Bree didn't get to see them, but Otter did get to meet her cousin.

Bree's mom and step-dad, on the other hand, got stranded at the airport, had to spend the night, and then went home having never departed for LA.  When they got to their house, their power was out.

We spent Christmas Eve with Bree's sister Alicia.  Erica and fam had left by this point.

On the way to Christmas Eve...

Hangin' with Dad and Aunt Alicia...

Otter hung out with Frosty the Snowman.  She may be in love.

A letter to Santa was written, cookies were left.

Christmas Day - Otter made out like a BAN-dit.  Clothes, toys, more clothes, more toys.  A freakin' kick-ass ExcerSaucer.  Thank you Santa Tien!!!  

Somewhere in the mix, Bree and I exchanged our presents, he went off to pick up his dad and I crawled off to the couch to sleep.  

For the second year in a row, Santa brought me Christmas Flu.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Otter's Debut on the Party Circuit

As any Hollywood taste-maker will tell you, the "where" and "when" of a debut can mean the difference between having the paparazzi snapping your picture Paris Hilton-style and sitting alone in some dive with people surreptitiously pointing and whispering "God, how sad..."

To execute the proper stepping out requires careful planning, exceptional timing, surrounding yourself with the "right" people and creating the right amount of buzz. Stay out of the limelight for too long and no one will care when you do make an appearance. Party too often, and you're written off as a self-promoting hussy who would show up to an opening of an envelope.

And so, after much anticipation, Otter made her first appearance at Pat's Holiday Soiree.

Here is the report...

Ms. Otter and her entourage arrived tastefully early, and spent time circulating, meeting and greeting. Choosing to forgo the obvious cliches of Christmas-themed wardrobe, Ms. Otter wore a graphic tee and bib by Carter's and pants by Granimals.

Ms. O patiently visited with all her fans, posing for photo ops.

Sources report that she was seen in the company of a suitor, though her representatives insist that she remains unattached.

Avoiding the bad press that comes with partying too hard, the young lady exited early, for some much-needed shut-eye.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The 12 (eerr 11) Days of Christmas (Shopping)

I have fallen woefully behind updating, but changing sleeping habits and Christmas have been kicking our collective ass. So here, in a nutshell, are the highlights of December, so far...

Wednesday 12/10 - On the first day of Christmas shopping, Otter made her virgin trip to the mall. Granted, it was Cost Plus, which isn't a mall at all, and the Promenade, which is currently a ghost town and will likely soon cease to be a mall, but that's splitting hairs. The point is, we went to a mall and wandered around in a daze, picking up booze for everyone, and 3 boxes of greeting cards. The shopping excursion ended with me standing in the parking lot, desperately trying to disengage the car seat from the stroller, where it was inexplicably, and quite permanently stuck. I cursed the universe and wondered how long I was going to stand there before asking for help, then realizing there was no one to ask even if I wanted to. The Christmas season had officially begun.

Thursday 12/11 - We go to the "real" mall to get a picture with Santa. It's too much to expect Otter to actually smile, but Mrs. Claus does get her to at least look at the camera.

Friday 12/12 - We meet Tien at the "real" mall and are quite proud of ourselves for being only 10 minutes late. We end up at Target, wandering around aimlessly, once again looking for gifts and leaving with a stocking for Otter and a stocking hook for our fish, Hebert.

Saturday 12/13 - Otter declares her independence from swaddling in no uncertain terms. We're left standing around, wondering what comes after swaddling. That wasn't in the instruction manual...

Sunday 12/14 - Leaving Bree and Otter to the fates, I go back to the mall solo to get the bulk done. Four hours of my life are lost forever, and I despondently eat frozen yogurt on a mall bench. On my way out, I encounter a family of 12 from somewhere in south-east Asia who are under the impression that the Westfield Topanga Mall is a tourist destination. They chatter happily while blocking dozens of tired, cranky shoppers from the escalator, so that dad can snap photos of his jabbering clan. I want to kill them by swinging my overstuffed bags at them.

Bree calls me the Grinch.

Monday 12/15 - I spend the day printing endless photos of Otter with Santa, writing messages and licking envelopes. I realize we know entirely too many people.

Tuesday 12/16 - Announcing that she hates the half-swaddle (the bottom half) too, Otter refuses to sleep until 11:30 pm.

Wednesday 12/17 - Otter further announces a moratorium on napping. She will sleep for no longer than 20 minutes, and then only in my arms. If I so much as think about putting her down, she screams bloody murder. I respond by having a complete meltdown, call Bree, inform him that I hate Christmas, that life sucks and we don't even have a tree. In my defense, I should point out that it's been pouring rain and 40 degrees for the past 3 days and we've been locked inside the house with nothing but laundry and Christmas cards to amuse us.

Thursday 12/18 - Exhausted by the lack of sleep, Otter snoozes all day. I take a shower, catch my breath and send out the last batch of cards. I start wrapping presents, though we're still not done shopping. I continue whining that we won't have a tree for Otter's first Christmas.

At night, we realize that we've been putting her down too late and move up bed-time by an hour. We also decide to incorporate the Sleep Sack into our repertoire. This is a gift from the Sleep Gods and I bow down to them and offer them adulation.

Friday 12/19 - Laden with 8 packages, Otter and I head off to the post office. I take the stroller, not so much for Otter, but for the boxes that I'd otherwise be balancing in my arms. While I try to communicate with the automated mailing machine, which is asking me very difficult questions about content, shape and size of my packages, Otter makes friends with the line growing behind us.

As we're leaving, Santa Tien calls to tell me I can pick up the Exersaucer Otter's inheriting from her son. While there, we also score a kicky-standy-uppy toy. Santa Tien, you too deserve our worship and adoration.

But the biggest news of the day is the fabulous Dr. Phil Christmas Party that Bree and I are attending without the Otter. Yes, we've been away from her once in NY, but this is SB's first foray into the world of babysitters. We leave with the mix of emotions of a teenage boy going out on the town in Dad's car for the first time. There's the dizzy anticipation of freedom, the strangeness of something new, and the underlying fear that something will go terribly awry, and we will find ourselves wrapped around a lamp post. But all goes well, and when we return the Otter is sleeping blissfully while "Aunt" Pat knits away. Pat, you are a goddess.

Saturday, 12/20 - After weeks of my whining about our imminent lack of tree, and Bree's threats of a fake arbor (followed by more of my whining about how utterly lame it is for Otter's first tree to be plastic), I pushed Bree out the door to pick out our Christmas tree. Lost in a forest of trees, Bree came upon some chickens running amuck underfoot, and immediately called to tell us that he was coming back to get us. Back at the house, we got ready as quickly as we could and embarked on Otter's first tree-hunt. At the lot, she meets the local wildlife - some sheep, goats and roosters, whom she regards with some scepticism - and we depart with a very short but quite bushy evergreen.

Tree decorating and boozy eggnog with Grand-Diggy rounded off the day, and tonight, Otter drifted off sleep happily sleep-sacked and swaddle-less, perhaps dreaming of sheep.

Yes, the Christmas season is here.