This week is a week if finallys.

Z finally broke a tooth, and has been much happier since then. A few days ago now she woke up in the morning with her face bright green from the tip of her nose to her neckline covered in a wall of gelatinous snot. It was like she’d had a visit from The Toad from the X-Men movie.
And… AND! Z signed and spoke a word – meaningfully – for the first time this week. For the last little while she’s been saying “A-dah” when Curtis is around but we weren’t entirely sure if this was just random mimicry or legitimate, “This man is daddy and this is my attempt to call him that word” communication. We’ve been really pushing the ASL more in the last month, and every time Curtis gets home from work we have a few moments of, “Daddy! Dad-dy” with accompanying signs. The last time he came home she was sitting with me upstairs and immediately perked up upon hearing him come in. She lifted her head and called out, “A-dah? A-dah!”. Curtis called back to her and she did her happy hyperventilation thing in glee. When he came upstairs she squealed and did another, “A-dah!”, this time without that questioning lilt. I asked, “Is that daddy?” while using [ the sign for father ]. She looked at Curtis, and back to me.
“Where’s daddy?” I asked, again signing for father.
She looked at Curtis and lifted a hand to her forehead, waving it forward and back in a sort of floppy version of what I’d done. “A-dah! A-dah!”. Naturally we were all squealing in joy, but passed it off as a fluke until she did it again the next day, and several more times before bed that night when we prompted her.

Zephyra has this crazy ability to pick this stuff up much faster than the other kids ever did, but I suspect it has to do with the fact that Tempest and Xan are in her face 20 hours a day practicing words and signs with her while I’m doing my important mom stuff like surfing Tumblr.

She’s good at non-verbal communication too, like how earlier this evening she was crawling in the kitchen and started choking for the 47th time that day. I then fished this out of her throat.

Marika is finally here, or rather floating between dad’s house and our house at least. This time she’s done for good, but this is about the 10th, ‘this time’ I’ve heard in the last three months. I don’t know, this time does seem more permanent, but after everything I’ve gone through with this I’m hesitant to lend too much of myself just yet. I want to believe it’s over, and there’s a big part of me that is just waiting to leap up and down for fucking joy but I can’t let that out just yet. Or like, at all, because I don’t want to be an asshole to someone who finally left an abusive relationship.
We set her up in the kids old room with a futon and some furniture, we’re planning when to arrange to go over and get her stuff out of the apartment, and she’s spent the last two days handing out resumes, applying to local jobs and getting in touch with various youth organizations… and all of that seems much more permanent. I really want it to stick. I want to believe the hardest part for her is now over, and she can focus on what she needs to be focusing on.

I had this weird moment as we were taking a walk the other day, when I gave her a hug and realized that this person is my baby sister. That may sound ridiculous, but my brain has this disconnect from her childhood and now, as they seem like two completely separate realities. This young woman in front of me is the same little tiny curly-haired baby I absolutely believed to be perfection personified. For a while I acted as though she’d been plopped into my horrible teenage life to make everything brighter, and she really did. And then she was torn back out of it as suddenly as she came in, and the next time I was able to spend any time with her… she was this person. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just a weird thing. It’s the same kind of thing that happens as a mother when you realize your 8 year old is no longer an infant.

Speaking of my 8 year old… when I went to visit my mother today in her building, Tempest started getting bored within a few moments of listening to my mom and I prattle on about orchids and asked if she could explore.
“We’re going to go home in about ten minutes so I don’t want you wandering off where I can’t find you.”
“I’ll be fast,” she replied.
“But when I’m finished, you’ll be on some floor and I don’t know where, and it may take ages to find you because you’re moving around.”
“I’ll start on this floor and gradually go down one floor at a time until I end up on the bottom floor, then I’ll stay there!”
I paused to consider, and she rocked her weight from her heels to the balls of her feet.
“YES.” And off she went. She was gone for 20 minutes, and at the end she poked her head back in the room and asked why I was taking so long. When we finally left she ran ahead so she’d reach the elevator first, and asked to ride down alone and meet me outside.
She’s always been more independent than Xan, but not quite like this. Her personality is slowly beginning to change, or take shape, as I suppose that’s more accurate. She’s changing physically and mentally as she gets close to preteenagehood and stuff like that makes me pause and realize that I’ll soon reach a point where most of her life takes place outside my direct supervision. That’s a weird realization.

On the other hand she’s still in this point of transition where she requires me to guide, or drag, her through some of it. Like bathing. She went from loving baths and begging for them, to avoiding them at all costs and using some pretty low down tactics to ensure it stays that way. Like this last month she avoided bathing for over 3 weeks. And no, I really didn’t notice. I was sure she’d bathed at least twice during that time, but through careful avoidance, a few lies and distraction she’d managed to escape it all the times I set it up. I finally realized what had happened when I was brushing her hair and saw that what I’d presumed was winter dandruff (the last two years she’s had extremely mild winter dandruff in the worst of the season – Curtis gets it too) was actually more like cradle cap. I flipped out and literally dragged her kicking and screaming into the bathroom. After a throw down fight ensued we compromised with me hanging her head over the side of the tub and washing her hair for a good 20 minutes, including five white vinegar rinses to break up all the fucking crud.
After that was over I turned on the shower, handed her a soaped up bath puff and gave her a graphic description of how to wash every part of her body and told her she couldn’t come out of the bathroom until she she’d soaped up so thoroughly she was peeing pistachio soap for a week.
“BUT MOM–” she screamed.
“Look,” I told her, “If you don’t bathe right now, I’m going to have to strip you, get in there with you, hold you down and bathe you. And that is going to seriously traumatize you for the rest of your life. Neither of us want to live with that memory. Just do it.”
She was quiet for a good ten seconds, then nodded and told me to leave so she could take off her clothes. She did indeed scrub from head to toe, and refused to come out until all the doors to the back of the house were shut and I’d left some clothes outside the door for her to grab so she could don all her clothing inside the bathroom and not have to take the three steps into her room while naked.

I’m no longer allowed to see her in the nude, she is uncomfortable seeing me in the nude and often walks away if I’m dressing, she won’t sleep in the same bed as Xan, she suddenly finds his body and his nudity offensive, she stinks when she runs around a lot, she complains about certain materials hurting her nipples, she’s moody, she’s secretive, she gets embarrassed to cry in front of me (when her pill is active, at least) and tries to hide it, she eavesdrops on private conversations and is sneaky about it, she’s obsessed with Selena Gomez, she gossips with her friends and refuses to stay next to me on walks… I know what’s going on here.

It’s finally starting to warm up, which means I’m beginning to crawl out of my bitter old cow suit that I don every winter. My SAD is more like SABD – seasonal affective bitchy disorder.
The weather is still bitterly cold about 20% of the time but it’s nice enough that I’m noticing the city planting flowers for the new tourist season, and that makes me want to garden. Every year I say I want to grow things successfully, and every year we manage to fail in miraculous new ways. It’s really quite something. I have more faith in this year than the last because this year I’m not massively pregnant and walking with a cane; hopefully this means I’ll have an easier time at it. This year I also want to try planting vegetables in sequence rather than all at once. We totally fucked ourselves over with the lettuce that one time, and I don’t want to make that mistake again, so I think I’ll do 5-7 at a time separated by two week intervals. I really want to succeed with tomatoes. And I really want to try and get squash up past a few leaves. It’d be nice to get better at this.

Random picture backlog!

I never got around to doing Z’s proper 8 month portraits, so this will have to do.

Kids helping me test the light beforehand.

Xan and Z sharing a bath. They do this now, as Xan hates bathing alone and Tempest refuses to get naked near him, let alone in a tub with him.

These are dark and bad, but they’re still cute so I’ll post them anyway. This is older, one of the first times Z had food with us.

Xan and his signature thumbs up. It’s like his brand now.

iPhone pictures.

Not entirely sure if she loves her first swing ride. Eventually she was smiling though.

What’s with the weird faces?

Back when it snowed.

Random things from the Whovian booth at the gaming convention.

Valentine’s day.

The birthday cake Marika and I made for dad. Looks just like the picture… right?

Everyone in the family loves this place.

She loves the crochet food that Curtis made a lot more than the elders do.

I need better breastfeeding photos…

Comic sans in the wild. I also thought this was a hilarious name for a granola.

Xanism of the day:
Xan and Tempest each got old Furby toys from the Whovian booth at our local gaming convention last month. Xan has become one with his, and carries it around with him everywhere telling stories about her (and it’s definitely a her, he says).
While I was cooking one afternoon he approached me and asked if I’d like to hear about how his Furby came to live with him, and of course I said yes. He began telling me a story about how the Furby lived in the booth for years, traveling around at gaming conventions but never being loved, held or touched by kids even though it wanted to very badly. It was very hungry but every time it went to the concession after the convention closed, they would be sold out of food! So one day, it ran away. As it walked in the rain one night it saw our home and peeked in the window. Inside it watched as our family was eating dinner, laughing and playing, and thought about how it would love to have a family too. So, it went around to the back of our house and saw that Xan had put out a sign that said, “We never run out of food” and came in to snuggle in Xan’s bed and never be lonely or hungry ever again.

I teared up.

Links of the Day:
Apologies to the parents I judged four years ago – A link I think most of us could see ourselves in.
You are not a failure – A fantastic piece for everyone who ever felt, thought, or was told they “failed” at breastfeeding. This also works as a piece about how to choose formula and still be a breastfeeding advocate.
Instructions for a bad day – A short, student-made film about surviving bullying set to a poem by Canadian writer Shane Koyczan. This was created and produced entirely by high school students, and it’s really good.
Who is not a lactation consultant? – A good piece to pass on to new or pregnant moms.
The 10 most important things they don’t teach you in school – this should be required for all high schools.
Trailer for “Bully” – A movie I want to see.
In the wake of controversy about Kony2012 and Invisible Children being a shady charity, to say the least, I figured I’d promote a good one. [ ] is a charity that allows you to connect to hard-working people in developing nations and contribute to micro-loans to create jobs, improve lives and build community. Right now they’re offering a $25 credit for new members, which means you can join and contribute to a project right now FOR FREE. The money you contribute is paid back to you as the loans are repaid (meaning, the businesses you helped build were successful) and you can turn that money back around and loan it again. [ So if you want to make a difference in a good way, join up! ] 🙂
* for honesty’s sake there was criticism about Kiva’s lending, and their transparency, back in 2009 that is addressed [ here ], but if you follow up with that bloggers posts on the subject it appears Kiva took this to heart and changed their practices rather quickly, and that he thought better of them (while not perfect) since then. I also addressed this question to someone I respect very much as an educated individual in regards to issues like these, and he was kind enough to give me a very thorough answer [ here ], so make sure you read up and ensure you understand and are comfortable with what they do!

Related: If you haven’t read the criticisms about the Kony2012, their response, or the opinions of many Ugandan people, you may want to [ go back one entry ] and check out some of the links I’ve put up.




  • medland says:

    I love the photos of you and Z. That blue really suits you.

  • totally OT…

    I consider you a baby guru so I need your opinion on my 1 year old not eating solid food yet. his pediatrician said she won’t be worried unless and until he’s 2 and still not eating solids. he’ll eat purees without a problem but anything that he has to chew he gags and throws up. I’m okay with following his lead…I offer him regular food a couple times a week but never pressure or force him.


    • admin says:

      If he’s healthy and hitting his other milestones on time (particularly verbal ones, ie: babbling, etc) then I wouldn’t be worried. Just continue to offer him what you’re eating (within reason, obviously) whenever you guys sit down to eat and let him play/explore with it.

      Disclaimer: I’m by no means an expert, this is just what I’d do (and have done) in this situation.

  • bluealoe says:

    Z is growing up so ridiculously fast. I can’t believe it! Her calling out to Curtis is adorable. 🙂

    I really hope Marika stays this time. I wish I had encouraging words or sage advice for you…but all I can say is just hang in there and contonue to be her support.

    I had a slightly similar experience with my sister, in terms of a disconnect. I didn’t really develop a relationship with my sister until after I graduated high school, and there’s almost no connection in my mind between the girl I knew growing up and the woman I know now. It’s strange.

    How can Tempest be so grown-up?! Both her behavior and her looks. Just wow. I wonder why bathing has become so awful to her now?

    I’m kind of jealous of all my friend who are talking about spring coming. The weather’s been snowy and cloudy and disgusting here for the last few weeks, and I am SO ready for some sunshine. I even bought rubber boats today, to prepare for the snow melting…

    The picture with Xan’s thumbs up…Tempest looks so absolutely gorgeous and happy.

    The birthday cake is awesome. 🙂 Much better than I could make, for sure.

    BUBBLE TEA!!! Man, I miss that place…

    “Holy Crap” is seriously the name of the cereal? Wow.

    I read that post on John Green’s tumblr a few days ago, but I didn’t realize it was you who’d asked the question! My worlds are colliding. 🙂 And I just made 3 Kiva loans. 🙂

    *hugs tight*

  • jenrose1 says:

    8 is the age they go from being little kids to being PEOPLE. It’s an awakening to awareness, and like all such, can be really effing painful, awkward and startling.

    Teeth! And talking! I just realized that IIRC, Z and Miles are exactly 6 months apart in age. Maybe to the hour? I’d have to look back.

  • derryn_007 says:

    I just signed up with Kiva for the $25 free loan – awesome, thanks for sharing that link!

    Tempest and Xan look so much like you and Curtis, respectively… I’m curious to see who Zephyra will end up looking like, because she looks quite different from both her siblings and I don’t really see you or Curtis in her either…

    Also, re: growing tomatoes – not that I’m an expert, but the past few years I have found they are effing impossible to grow in this climate! Just not enough sunny hot weather for them to ripen properly 🙁 I’ve had them rot right off the plant before they even turn red. Disappointing!

  • gngr says:

    I went all “Daww!” at the color photo of you and Z in the corner. Beautifully framed, pleasing features, loved the hair. 🙂

  • That side braid in your hair looks SO cute on you!! And that pink skeleton outfit has now been on 3 baby girls, which makes me happy 🙂

  • I’ve come to believe that boys just can’t smile for the camera. Alex has to pop an action pose of some sort, and Devon will turn and waggle his backside. Where he got that is beyond me!

    Alex has hit the ‘omgnaked’ phase. I feel your pain.

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