Sunday, November 18, 2007

Good vs Evil

It's so hard to keep up with everything that could potentially damage your child. I'm always doing something "wrong".

Recent things that I have done that have been called out by someone, somewhere, as being "bad":

1. Told my son he's smart (too much pressure!).
2. Told my son I'm proud of him (see above!).
3. Allowed my son to eat candy.
4. Allowed my son to watch television.
5. Enjoyed singing "Wheels on the Bus" (children should not be silenced by their parents).
6. Rocked my 2.5-year-old son to sleep after he has consumed milk from a polycarbonate plastic bottle.

I have been very surprised by the world of judgment that opens up as soon as you become a parent, which I'm sure has always been there, but is significantly amplified by the Internet. Being someone who cares too much about what other people think has obviously not prepared me well for this aspect of motherhood. I have tried to listen to my gut, which has gotten much better at communicating with me, but there's still quite a bit of simply crossing your fingers and hoping everything works out in spite of what you're doing. I suspect that in the end, I will continue to espouse the philosophy of the title of my blog; continuous obsession and worry over every little thing, while ultimately kicking back on the couch with a novel while my son plays with his Thomas Trains (evil-made-in-China-licensed-character-consumer-crap).

Sunday, November 11, 2007


My name is Cheek and I am a worrier. Worrying is both art and science for me, and I think I actually may be addicted to the brain alchemy that worry causes. Thus, how perfect for someone like me to end up with a child; something to worry about endlessly for the rest of my life! Yay!

One of the best parts of motherhood is looking back on a given time in my baby's development and saying to myself, "I can't believe I was so worried about ____." Distance provides perspective. When Pi was about 14 months old, I was worried that he would be speech-delayed. He was saying a few words, but he wasn't saying "Mama" or following a speech path that I thought I expected.

This past week, Smitty was watching Sunrise Earth, a peaceful nature show that looks badass on our still-new-and-exciting HD TV. The scene for this episode's sunrises was an idyllic farm in Vermont. Pi was checking out the cows and other farm animals, and then said, "Daddy, I see a barn in the ditz-tenantz." I don't remember ever teaching him that word or reading it in a book, and suddenly he busts it out in context.

I may have to find somewhere else to get my adrenalin fix.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Delilah's Day

We have a busy day today. We're going to an open house at a potential pre-school for Pi, and then tonight, Smitty and I are going to see Wicked (the tickets were my birthday present). There will not be much time in the day for reflection, but I'll know that today is the day my daughter should have been welcomed to our world.

I miss you, sweet girl. I wish you were here today.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Books and Music

Life just rolls along. The new car is very nice and I'm feeling a little better about driving it. We've celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary and my 36th birthday. It's incredibly weird to watch the leaves turning and falling when it's 88 million degrees with the humidity index at "Beastly".

When we had Pi, I wondered how his interests would develop as he grew. I hoped that he would like the things that Smitty and I liked, but of course would support any interest he had, even if it was the roller derby or the Young Republicans or something equally alien to us. Anything but Scientology; I just don't know if I could feign any kind of interest or support in that.

Thankfully, as is Pi's wont, he has given us no cause for concern (yet) in this area. Two of my passions are reading and singing, and so far Pi seems to love both of those. He loves to go to the library and find new books, and he memorizes books very quickly. No skipping pages allowed! We checked Silly Sally by Audrey Wood out of the library, read it ten times in a row at every sitting for a few days ("a-guine!, a-guine!"), and then put it in the diaper bag for a trip where it stayed for about two weeks. When he pulled it out again, he opened the book to the first page and recited it word for word, while I gaped at him with tears filling my eyes.

I used to sing the same songs night after night at bedtime, and now Pi is expressing his musical tastes rather than submitting completely to mine. His current favorite is Harry Belafonte - we sing "The Banana Boat Song" and "Turn the World Around" every night. My most perfect family moment so far occurred the other night at dinner, when he was singing "Turn the World Around", and in the middle of it, shouted out "Sing together!"

Now, Smitty has a great ear and a nice voice, but does not like to sing. He once got in trouble at kindergarten for not singing "Happy Birthday" to a classmate - his mom found him crying in the corner while everyone else was eating cake. It makes me very sad to think that this teacher pretty much killed any chance that little Smitty might ever grow comfortable expressing his musical side. But when Pi asked, Daddy answered, and for a few brief moments, all our voices rose up together in joy and family love...

"Whoa-ho! So is life! A-ha! So is life!"

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Love Me Tender

Last weekend, Pi and I were walking home from the grocery store, stroller laden with purchases (we bought a new car yesterday, hooray!). After two+ years of riding in the same stroller, he finally discovered that it has a little window in the top of the canopy that could serve to entertain him. He started squirming in his seat to look at me through the little window, playing peek-a-boo from side to side and just having a grand old time.

The continuous side-to-side motion, though, caused his sun hat to creep forward over his eyes. I leaned into the stroller and asked if he wanted me to hold onto his hat for him. He peeled off the hat, handed it to me, and said, with perfect inflection:

"Thank you, Mommy. Thank you very much."

Thursday, September 06, 2007


I need iPod lessons.

For obvious reasons, I've been riding the train to work a lot more often lately, and I am in awe of the people who can plant their earbuds, stick the iPod in their bag or briefcase or pocket, and enjoy their tunes with no drama all the way downtown.

I think my ears are too small for the buds or something, because I'm constantly futzing with them when they fall out, or hurt, which they do quite often. I try to finagle them into a good position, but if the cord moves one millimeter (and it always does, because I can never find the optimal place to rest the actual iPod), they are tugged unceremoniously from my ears and we have to start all over again.

I think that the answer is in the accessories (isn't that the answer to everything?). Do they make smaller earbuds? Should I get one of those belt clip thingies so that it always has a place to rest? Would it be just too infinitely embarrassing to saunter up to the Apple Genius Bar and ask them to show me how to walk and wear an iPod at the same time?

My iPod is lovely (it was a very inspired gift from Smitty for our last anniversary - four years, for which one of the traditional gifts is fruit), but I am still an outsider in the cool iClub, and will be until I get different earbuds. Or ear enhancement surgery.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Maybe a Reason?

As many women who have lost children will tell you, "Everything happens for a reason" is one of the least comforting platitudes that can be offered in The Consolation Conversation. It simply begs the question, "What? What is the reason?"

There isn't a good reason why a much-wanted, already-loved child does not make it to term and come home with her family.

All that said, I shudder to think what could have happened if I'd been seven months pregnant when two cars collided with my vehicle a week ago.

Poorly, but strangely comforting.

I'm just ready for this year to be over.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

The Accident

I woke up Monday morning feeling similar to a marathon runner at Mile 25 - physically beat, emotionally drained, but full of the adrenalin that comes with knowing the end's in sight. Work has been so intense this summer, especially the last five weeks, and our final project was due for completion on August 29th. We were almost there.

I showered, dressed, left my sleeping son and husband and got in the car to head to our offsite project location. I was listening to NPR's 2nd anniversary coverage of Hurricane Katrina, thinking about whether I'd have time to stop at the bank before work, cursorily going through the motions at the numerous 4-way stop signs on a tree-lined residential street.

At the first major intersection, the traffic on my left did not have a stop sign - a fact that completely left my mind as I pulled directly into the flow and was immediately plowed by an oncoming car. The force of the first impact spun me 180 degrees and I was then hit head on by a service van.

"Are you OK?" asked the girl in the first car who hit me.

"Yes, are you OK?" Why is she so blurry? Why can't I see her - her driver's side window is inches from mine.

"Let's try to pull off the main road."

"OK." I manuevered back onto the cross-street, still wondering why I couldn't see the northbound drivers (no doubt counting their blessings that they had to wait a couple more seconds for their change at Starbucks this morning), who were waving me across the road. Why can't I see? What the hell is going on? I have to look for my insurance card, I have to...oh, my glasses are on the floor.

Our car is totaled. I have totaled a car. The reality of that situation and the red tape that accompanies it have occupied me this past week, but the fact that I'm here to deal with it is a gift and a blessing.

I held it together pretty well at the accident scene - I was the only driver in the triad who actually had my driver's license on me and proof of insurance - until the tow truck came to take my car away and the guy asked me if I needed to get anything out of the car. Pulling Pi's carseat out was what broke me. What if he had been in this car? I was driving in a completely zoned-out, stressed-out state, and it had almost cost me my life - what if I had endangered my child's life as well?

It's hard for me not to beat myself up about this - I just need to make sure that it affects my behavior in a positive way. I have been given an opportunity to spend more time on this earth with the ones I love - I can't squander it any more.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Golden Pig

Well, that was an adventure. We are just coming off of almost 48 hours with no power after a crazy storm on Thursday. I always feel like a total diva when the power goes out, demanding my white M&Ms on my white couch with white roses on my dressing table. I know that things could be a whole lot worse, and in the grand scheme of things we are very lucky to have everything we have, but I do enjoy flicking a switch and having the light come on, or pressing a button to get my dishes washed, or twisting a dial to clean my clothes. Pi's presence did make the outage a lot more fun, though - every time we lit the candles he started singing "Happy Birthday" and asking for cake, and he thought that Daddy turning the hand-crank on the emergency radio was the height of hilarity. Anyway, the power came back on at about 1:00 PM yesterday, and we are very pleased, although now the cable's out. I think someone is trying to tell us that we watch too much TV.

In other news, the rash of office pregnancies that were announced a few weeks before I found out about mine have started to bear their sweet fruit. A close co-worker of mine had her baby girl on August 10th, another has left for maternity leave with a due date of September 9, and yet another has confirmed a baby girl for October. When I found out about Delilah, I read that in the Chinese Zodiac, this year is a Golden Pig year, a very auspicious and lucky year for babies to be born. I wasn't ready to announce my pregnancy when my co-workers did, but when they were all together in the same room I secretly counted myself among them, and thought how excited they'd be when I was ready to "come out". All girls, born in the Year of the Golden Pig.

I was supposed to have one, too.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Big One

Happy 40th Birthday, honey. I'm so happy that the little baby boy born 40 years ago today became my sweet husband and Pi's wonderful father. We love you so much!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Just Your Garden Variety Update

Pi's a thriving, happy, healthy two-year-old. We are very, very lucky to have him and are so enjoying watching him grow up.

One of his favorite games now is "Daddy Tickle". He asks me to pick him up and then screams "Daddy Tickle!" which is my signal to run through the house at top speed to find a place to "hide" from Daddy, who of course eventually finds us and tickles the bejeezus out of Pi.

He plays for hours with his Thomas trains, and narrates all of their adventures on the coffee table. "'Be careful!' cried Mavis, 'Look out!' chuffed Gordon, Duncan on suspension bridge, pull freight cars, 'Well done!' said Thomas." He also mixes Thomas characters into his new favorite song, as in: "On top of spaghetti, all covered with Rhenaeus and Duncan and Skarloey, I lost my poor meatball, when somebody sneezed."

I love how he says that "sn" sound - he blows it right through his nose and just pushes the word out - I can't even really replicate it phonetically. I should try to post a little audio clip of it - it's too cute.

He also loves to sing "Let it Be", which made me cry the first time I heard those lyrics come out of his mouth.

There are so many more cute anecdotes and stories that I can't even remember now, so I'm really going to try to get better about this blog so that all of these wonderful moments don't get lost in the deep chasms of my memory.

Pi learned to swim this summer! We took him for lessons at the Y last year, when he was just over a year old, and there's really not much you can do at that age besides blow bubbles and refine your "Wheels on the Bus" techniques for the aqueous environment, but I decided to blow the $100 bucks again this year anyway. After just three lessons, the whole "reach and pull" and "kick your feet" thing just clicked for Pi. He swam right out of my arms and never looked back. Of course, he's still wearing a floaty belt. I tried to see how he would do without it, and he dropped like a rock, so I figured he'd better keep it on, but he's got the moves down!

Also, going to sleep before midnight is for chumps, apparently. He's had a lot of trouble settling down at night for the past few weeks. He turns his light on, plays in his crib, and talks to himself for well over an hour after I put him down. He always was a night owl (he usually goes to sleep at 9:30 or so), but this is getting crazy. He never cries, just has his own private hootenanny until he feels like falling asleep with the overhead light on. I don't know - I hope this is just a phase.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Mad as a...Cicada?

Last weekend, I had one of those Mother of the Year days with Pi. We went to the coffee shop ("Mommy cuppa COF-fee!") and then to the bakery where we shared a blueberry scone at one of their little cafe tables and watched the people and their doggies go by the window. Then we took a bit of a longer walk to a very cool and fun park that we don't usually frequent. This park is pretty rockin' - they have a separate toddler play structure that sits in the center of a sand pit, and then they have a mega-gym for bigger kids. Pi went right for the sand pit, where some large winged bugs were flying around. There were about thirty of them.

"Oh, look at the cicadas, Pi", I said as he merrily chased them about and crouched low to get a really good look at them when they hovered in the air near his face. "Wow, there really are a lot of cicadas here, aren't there - I wonder why there are so many!"

"KAY-das! KAY-das!" he crowed.

Then one of them landed on the slide and I checked it out.

"Uh, Pi, let's not play over here, OK, these bugs are actually gigantic freaking HORNETS, and they could really hurt you. These are dangerous bugs."

"Kayda HOR-nets! Kayda HOR-nets!"

"Yes, let's just leave them to their partying and go swing for a while."

I allowed my child to frolic amongst gigantic hornets. Mother of the Year, indeed.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Fever All Through the Night

Pi's had three colds in just over two years of life. He takes probiotics regularly, was breastfed for a year, and through the luck of the genetic draw, appears to have a rock solid immune system, which is advantageous when one's diet is occasionally supplemented with sandbox sand, boogers, and dessicated bits of shredded cheese extracted from the crevices of the high chair.

Many of the T-cells are apparently in Niagara Falls this weekend, but the ones that stuck around are putting up a fight against whatever infection made its way into Pi. His fever was 101.5 at bedtime last night and 102.6 at 3:30 AM (the first time we've all seen the wee small hours in many moons). We dosed him with Tylenol and applied cold compresses. This morning it was down, but at around 7:00 PM he spiked at 104.5, and for only the second time in Pi's life I availed myself of the services of the doctor on call. Through a fog of disdain for the hysterical mother, the ped hurriedly advised Motrin and a tepid bath. Luckily, the ibuprofen in the Motrin was strong enough to penetrate the artificial sweeteners, preservatives, and FD&C colors, and the meds and bath brought his fever down to 100.9 before bedtime tonight. He may spike again tomorrow, or even later tonight, but for now he's resting comfortably.

It's just a fever, which means his body is doing what it should to ward off infection, and certainly a drop in the bucket of his life's illnesses, but seeing that thermometer shoot up over 104 was really scary for both Smitty and me. It's alarming when the ambient heat from your child causes you to break a sweat when rocking him to sleep.

I have one thing to say to Whatever Higher Power is out there: if it turns out that Pi is the only kid I get to have, keep your mitts off him. Even if he's not my only, even if I do get lucky enough to have more, you can't have him. Seriously, you touch one hair on his gorgeous curly red head, and I'll arrange a personal audience with you for the sole purpose of Kicking. Your. Omniscient. Ass.

Monday, June 04, 2007


We had a big event at work on Friday, one that we've been planning for a few months. When I envisioned it while we were planning, I smiled secretly as I thought of how far along I'd be by then, how much I'd be showing, how much fun it would be to share my second pregnancy with all of our offsite co-workers and invited guests at the event.

It didn't happen the way I envisioned.

I miss you, baby girl.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

The Sharing Paradox

We spend so much time on sharing these days - negotiating who plays with which toy, which toys are community and don't belong to anybody, whose turn is it, etc. Pi was a pretty good sharer when he was younger and didn't really understand what was going on. He would just hand things over when asked, with a bit of a lingering look, but would easily move on to something else. Now, however, he understands all the detail that's involved with relinquishing a toy, and he's really not that into it. He's become one of those hoarders, you know, like "I have all six of the sandbox shovels, and even though only one of them is mine, and even though I can't even physically hold them all, let alone dig with all of them, no one else may approach the Shovel Stronghold." I know that all of this is age-appropriate, and that we'll work through all the sharing politics with experience and more interaction with kids, but I got to thinking...

All the time we spend sharing as children; how does that really translate to our adult lives? The playground social norm is "Share and share alike", and parents bend themselves in half trying to keep that very delicate pH balanced. Then, when we're older, the prevailing attitude becomes, "Get, keep, and hold onto what's yours". This is MY parking spot, this is MY property line, this is the money that I earned, and with it I buy things for ME, etc. There are certainly exceptions to this, but truly shared housing communities are the minority, and everybody always talks about wanting to volunteer and share their time for a good cause (including me), but how many people can make that a reality (definitely not me)?

I was riding public transportation once when I was in college, eating a bag of Cheetos, and a high school girl came up to me and said, "Can I have some?" Not a homeless person, not someone who outwardly looked hungry or poor - she just wanted what I had and asked for it. I gave her a few Cheetos, but I was stunned at the audacity she displayed by walking up to a total stranger and asking for food. Now, as a parent, when an unknown child walks up to Pi and says "Can I play with that?", I move heaven and earth to make sure that all these people we don't know get a piece of what's Pi's. Adults who don't share are protecting their own, but full community is expected of kids.

Is sharing like geometry, one of those things you learn as a kid that doesn't have any bearing on real life? Or am I just telling myself that to help me feel better about Pi's role in ShovelGate yesterday?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Number Two...and Fifty-Nine

Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday, Dearest, Sweetest, Most Wonderful Pi...
I can't believe you're TWO!

Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday, Dear Pop-Pop...
Oh, how we love you.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Our Little One

Another little soul has tiptoed in and out of our lives, and I wanted to take a moment to honor her.

We carried her, physically in my body and the hope of her life in our hearts, for almost thirteen weeks. It seems her little heart stopped beating at almost ten weeks. The testing we requested shows a chromosomally normal girl. We will never be able to answer the question of why she couldn't stay with us.

The light of her life went out on Thursday, April 26, 2007. She was Delilah. We will always love her and wonder what else she might have been.