Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Only slightly less than I used to

Life with two kids is nothing like life with one. Maintaining our family standards is so much harder: standards of cleanliness, nutrition and interaction. Sam is stretched so thin he's translucent, but the house is clean, the laundry is done, our meals are fresh and healthy, and the children know they are loved. Where am I? Feeding the baby. It seems everything I start is interrupted by a hungry baby, which leads to a messy baby, which begets a tired baby. Thus, I cook poorly once a week, and the dryer is my new closet. But last night I washed the dishes! All of them! I was feeling so proud of myself for contributing until Paolo asked what I was doing. Cleaning the kitchen! "But Daddy's the washer; you're the sitter on the coucher." Ouch.

The hardest part of having a second child is missing the first. Everyone says your feelings for your firstborn don't change when you have another, but I disagree. It's primal, the protectiveness a mother feels for her baby. Just as I protected Paolo as a baby, I look out for Gianluca, even though that often means I'm protecting him from Paolo. Granted, the only real interference I have to run is to keep Paolo from sitting on him or giving him toys he could choke on. But if I push one son away so the other can eat or sleep in peace, isn't that favoritism? As much as I love Luca, I miss the way I was with Paolo when it was just us. I haven't found balance yet.

I took the boys to the park on Sunday to take advantage of warmer weather and saw my surly eldest son transformed. Paolo was on best behavior: solicitous, joyful, funny, obedient. He was the boy I knew before I stiff-armed him a hundred times, before I shushed him a dozen times a day. We enjoyed each other's company, and it did my heart good. Before he went to bed last night, I made a point of telling him how much fun I had at the park, that he is awesome and I love him. I turned to walk away, but he started to say something. I thought it might be one of those priceless times he tells me he loves me, too, so I turned back, eyes shining, and he announced, "I am awesome." I couldn't agree more.

Friday, January 25, 2008

What the fil-A?

It was really cold last weekend, so we decided to go to a new Chick-fil-A for lunch so Paolo could wear himself out on the indoor playground. We went right in the middle of the lunch rush, and the grand-opening fever was in full effect. However, since Chick-fil-A staffs their restaurants adequately, there is never a wait: one of the many reasons we eat there despite our aversion to fast food.

Speaking of staff, there were two employees working the dining room, and they were deadly serious about ensuring customer satisfaction. They weren't just table-wiping, napkin-restocking monkeys waiting to be needed. They were more like personal butler monkeys, doing their best to ingratiate themselves with the customers in order to anticipate our desires. "Do you like ketchup on your fries? Well, let me get you some!"

Looking around, I noticed that all the patrons appeared confused by the dining-room monkeys, bordering on weirded out. The male monkey, who looked thirteen, stopped at every table to inquire politely, "May I refresh your beverage?" Seriously. Without fail, every table paused to translate that phrase mentally into what we are used to hearing in an Arkansas fast-food establisment -"Kin ah gitcha another coke?" or "Ya'unt more ta drank?"- before being able to respond.

The female dining-room monkey kept chiding people about standing up. She sent me to my table right after I paid and explained that I was not to get up to fetch anything. Each time she performed some menial task and I thanked her, she looked deeply into my eyes and said, "It is my pleasure to serve you." How freaking strange is that?

I was so rattled by that experience, I left my purse hanging on the back of my chair. Oh, yes I did. And I didn't notice it was gone until Sunday, the only day Chick-fil-A is closed. Not to worry, one of the monkeys recovered it, and a manager happily handed it over to me when I showed up Monday morning. Looking back, I'm surprised I made it to the parking lot without a monkey chasing me down to return it, after slipping a few dollars into my wallet and twisting the Chapstick up a notch for easier application. Actually, I'm surprised someone didn't drive it out to my house, because that's the kind of love Chick-fil-A has for its diners. You and I know that if I had left it behind at any other fast-food restaurant, it would have been McHistory.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Two Faces of the Moon

My husband, the walking contradiction, in two Acts:

Have you ever been Metro? Have you ever tried?
Sam went to work late last night, coming home long after I was asleep, then I gave him the fussy, possibly teething baby at 4:00 this morning. So at 7:30, he wasn't so much ready to be awake. He huddled under a blanket on the couch, desperately trying to snatch a few more minutes of shut-eye. While I sympathized, I couldn't decide which shoes to wear, so I came downstairs wearing a different shoe on each foot and nudged him, "Honey, I need your help." He rolled over and opened one eye. I picked up one foot at a time and asked him which shoe he thought looked better. Now, any other man on the planet would have thrown something at me. Sam perked up and replied, "Ooh, you really can't go wrong. Those both look good."

Shave and a haircut: two bits.
Sam grows out his hair and beard every winter, but this year he started early, and it has become too much for me. Much, much too much. I expect every day to come home to find him skinning jackrabbits or splitting logs or whatever people with that much hair on their heads do. The other day, Paolo was sitting on Sam's lap and discovered a piece of candy nestled in his beard. It was a Nerd from the box I gave Sam for Christmas, so who knows how long it had been in there. Paolo picked it right out and ate it. I suggested that, seeing how our child was eating food out of his face, he might consider a trim. He is deaf to my pleas, however. He has committed to this look, and I may be married to a Sasquatch until spring.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

We can't all be Pele

In case you've ever wondered what the back of your jersey would look like as you sambaed your way down the field wearing the yellow and green of Brasil, check out this Brazilian soccer name generator.


Post your results in the comments section, especially if you're my father-in-law.

Commence wasting your weekend,
De Martinaldo

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The brothers that wheeze together

I know I've been absent for a few weeks now, so here's an update for your inquiring minds. It's been an interesting few weeks at the homestead. Both boys have been sick with colds, and each developed complications. Paolo's ear became infected. Of course it did, because his left ear is the halfway house for all the diseases science is trying to eradicate from the planet. Currently, smallpox is in apartment 2B, scarlet fever is in 7D, and consumption is about to get evicted for playing its music too loud. Gianluca developed lower respiratory bronchiolitis. If there is a bright side to that diagnosis, it is that the medication to treat this condition is Albuterol. From the dark days of Paolo's infancy, we have the medicine, the mask, the technique, and an open prescription for refills.

Paolo is already back to full health, but Gianluca is recovering more slowly, exacerbated by his refusal to eat. At first he wanted nothing, then he went on nursing strike, and now he won't take a bottle. We had to pick him up early from daycare yesterday because he wouldn't eat and it was freaking them out. To get us through this week, I'm going to drive to daycare on my lunch break to feed him and give him a breathing treatment. Hopefully by next Wednesday, we'll have the baby train back on the tracks so our lives can get back to normal, because, in this family, normal is crazy enough.