Half Birthday

Six months! More coming soon, this is just a placeholder for now.

Ayla is 27.1 inches (90th percentile), 16 pounds 14.5 oz (64%), head circumference 43 cm (73%). Tall girl. She also just got her first tooth!

Did great with shots, just cried for 10 seconds.

Ayla got the shots, Ali got the sucker! Where’s the justice?

Ayla Rain, Ayla Rain
Every morning you greet me
Soft and pink, sweet I think
You look happy to meet me

Blossom of rose may you bloom and grow
Bloom and grow forever
Ayla Rain, Ayla Rain
Bless my girly forever

 

Screen Shot 2020-08-04 at 1.15.14 PMScreen Shot 2020-08-04 at 1.15.28 PMScreen Shot 2020-08-04 at 11.02.23 AMScreen Shot 2020-08-04 at 11.02.53 AM

Facebook commentary

Jul25: Ali is living on “keeteetos” these days. (Taquitos.) That and whatever candy he can wrangle out of us (not much).

I made a Moroccan chicken tagine today with date and roasted cashew cous cous. He took one bite of the cous cous and ran off and later demanded his keeteetos.

What a waste, kid. Oh well.

Ali saw a clown fish photo on TV (that screensaver thing with all the Google photos) and said, “What happened [to] Nemo?”

Jul 27: One of those days where you get nothing done. Well, you get a million things done, but most of them weren’t on your list!

Ali: Gives a stuffed fish to Ayla

Ahmed: “Say thank you, Ayla!”

Ali: “Thank you, Ayla!”

So I was stuffing the cloth diapers and Ali was “helping” me by digging in them to find the “other fox.” (We only have one stuffed fox.) Then he spotted a worm. Then three more worms. Then he announced that the fox would get the worms. Then the fox’s tail became a worm and it chased and chased the fox until it hid behind my legs. Then Ali hid under a towel until the fox came out of hiding and found Ali, and there was much happy screaming.

Later he brought me a baby doll (the realistic newborn we got him before Ayla was born that he has barely looked at) and said, “Change diaper?” So I helped him take the diaper off and wipe the baby (with a real wipe), then I put the (toy cloth) diaper behind my back and “washed” it and brought it back “clean” and helped him put the diaper back on. Ali immediately made a pooping noise and I said in shock, “She pooped AGAIN?” Ali nodded and laughed, so we did the whole process again.

Ten. Times.

Then I couldn’t take it anymore and suddenly the baby was pooping so hard it was levitating and then flipping and spinning and diving around like a balloon blown up and let go and Ali laughed and laughed and we did that until I got dizzy and thank God it was bath time. But he wouldn’t take a bath until we let him take the fox in with him.

Happy Monday!

July 28: Currently on my bed, aka “infant gym.” My girl keeps army-crawling her way to my laptop. I keep pulling her back once she reaches it.

I can’t tell if I’m being mean or just giving her some nice practice / exercise!

Ahmed: What’s my name?

Ali: Awmed!

Ahmed: What’s Mama’s name?

Ali: Plamla.

Ahmed: What’s your sister’s name?

Ali: Ayla!

Ahmed: What’s your name.

Ali: Ali!

Ahmed: What’s your full name?

Ali: Um… uh… er… Grandma!

Ali cannot understand why every meal can’t be ice cream and cake, or cupcakes, or at least french fries.

Jul29: There is nothing sweeter or more adorable than a baby violently unlatching from nursing, repeatedly, to stare up at you with a wondrous lovestruck grin on his/her face.

There’s also nothing more annoying, lol. “Just eat, kid. I’m exhausted and have 3,782 things to do. Also, ouch!”

But yeah. Very sweet

Ayla decided sleep was for losers last night. And wouldn’t even let her poor dad nap today.

Today is a lost day. Nothing I can do but sit around and watch riding leaf blower videos with Ali.

July 30: We will laugh about this the rest of our lives. We forget that Ali can repeat ANYTHING that comes out of our mouths.

Yesterday Ali was hungry and I got out cheese and crackers but he was just eating the crackers. I said eat the cheese, too!

He crammed a piece of cheese in his mouth and walked over to show me. Bill said, ARE YOU HAPPY NOW, GRANDMA?

Ali popped his little curly head up behind Bill and said, with great sincerity, Are you happy now, Grandma???

It sounded so funny coming out of his little mouth!

Sarcasm is lost on a toddler…

Jul 31: It’s a major Muslim holiday, and my husband’s family in Turkey is gathered with close family members (but not distant family, neighbors, etc) to celebrate. I asked about how Turkey is doing with regard to the COVID-19 response and current situation.

His response: “Turkey is probably better off than the US. But that’s a low bar.”

Jul 31: Grumpy girl up past her bed time

Aug3: Little Ayla Belle is rocking back and forth on hands and knees, heaving her ponderous belly inches away from her sticky home planet. Progress.

(And now she’s off the play quilt and fondling the carpet.)

One of Those Days / Months

It’s bed time (July 21). Ali is screaming his head off. Ayla is, mercifully, too deeply passed out to be roused by it. So far.

Monday mornings the trash truck comes at 6:30am and wakes Ali up, which wakes at least his dad up, if not the rest of us. (Ahmed has been sleeping with Ali lately because Ayla’s sleep is so bad and one of us needs to be sane. Our normal wake time is roughly 7:30, on good days 8.) Regardless, Ali’s sleep clock is wonkified, his nap gets weird (his dad is also often too tired to think straight or enforce it properly), and sometimes bed time becomes a struggle as well.

Then on Tuesdays the lawn guys come. Ali is, of course, obsessed with lawn care. He wants to see the lawnmower, the weed eaters, the leaf blowers. But they tend to come either right before or right during his nap (1-3pm). It’s basically a nightmare. If we’re lucky they sweep through relatively quickly so that Ali can see the leaf blowers out of his window around 1:30 maybe (like last week) and be satisfied with that. If not, like today, he fights the nap until past 3, is cranky the rest of the day, and then fights his head off not to go to bed.

He also yelled at 2:30 and woke Ayla from her nap, which made her cranky the rest of the day. She fought her third nap for a full hour. I kept thinking she would drift off each time she went quiet for a little while. I kept being wrong. I picked her up several times and she was fine — dry, fed, warm, no issues. I finally gave up and took her down to the pool to just sit and look at the water and the blue sky for a little while.

My brain is oatmeal. Shredded oatmeal. Iron-fortified shredded oatmeal.

Oh, wait, iron-fortified adds nothing to the metaphor. Sorry. Never mind.

See, that’s the kind of stupid joke I come up with when my brains are oatmeal.

Anyway, yeah, it’s kinda relentless these days. An old friend wanted to catch up over FaceTime, and I realized the only possible slots I had were 1:30-2:30pm (when hopefully both kids are down for their naps) and 9-10pm (when hopefully both kids are asleep for the night and before Ayla’s 10 or 11pm feed).

Ayla’s sleep has been rough — back to sometimes staying up 90 minutes in the night blowing raspberries and groanting (grunt-groaning). Add insomnia to it. I’m up all night twitching just waiting for her to start her little grunts (that’s how it starts). There’s no point going to bed before Ayla’s first wake up (it’s at a terribly inconvenient time) and between that feeding, another feeding, and everyone waking up at an unknown time in the morning, I just can’t get caught up.

Oh, well. This, too, shall pass.

Meanwhile, lots of cute things. When Ali wouldn’t nap last week during lawn care day, it was about 1:30 and I was still trying to coax him into bed, and suddenly his ear picked up the leaf blower noise, and it was like an earthquake in his soul, he just vibrated with the excitement as he said very seriously, “Whoooooo, weef bower, whooooo!” Like he was trying to get across to me just how deeply important it was to him.

So I let him see them pass by his window and then he took a nap, satisfied.

Ayla is also sitting up great, although she can’t yet get herself into that position. She can stay there and play with things for minutes at a time, totally unsupported. (Though once I left her unsupported for just a little too long and she fell forward and a bit sideways and bonked her head a bit. There was no water in the tub, she was just sitting on the mat playing with a cup after the water had run out.) We also caught her once on her back kicking this little green swing and making it swing back and forth.

Screen Shot 2020-07-22 at 6.07.10 PM

She’s still eating pretty well, though I backed off a bit after I gave her a tiny bit of diluted peanut butter in her shredded oatmeal and she got a slight cheek rash. It might have just been a drool rash and a coincidence. The pediatrician wasn’t worried. I’ll try it again probably tomorrow and see what happens. [ETA: No reaction the next time I mixed a little peanut butter in with her oatprunes — oatmeal mixed with prunes and diluted with soy milk.]

I also added a little cow milk along with the usual soy milk with her shredded oatmeal and she had a pellet poo. So I backed off on that a bit, too, and tried again today. We’ll see how it goes.

The Baby Corral has been up and running for a while now. A safe and cushy space for a not-quite-crawler to explore. (There’s an egg crate mattress topper under the quilt.)

Screen Shot 2020-07-22 at 6.08.30 PM

Unfortunately it takes up most of the living room’s play space, so we rearranged Ali’s room (and removed the jungle gym) and put a heavy white blanket on the floor that’s a great play space for him to retreat to whenever he wants.

IMG_2345

IMG_2351

We also put some of his friends from Cars on the wall. Yep, my interior decorating includes Cars decals. And I actually kind of love them. Can you tell Mater the Cable Guy is Ali’s favorite? He also loves “Grandpa Car” (Doc) and is learning to say Luigi and Guido.

We’re planning to blow up a picture of us into a poster to put on the closet door for him to look at if he gets lonely in there. It only costs like $20 at Walmart. We just need to take a photo we like.

He’s still a pretty picky eater but randomly last week ate only the sauteed kale out of his meal and wouldn’t touch the chicken or sweet potatoes. Ahmed also figured out he doesn’t seem to like things mixed together. He likes to eat one thing at a time. Something to remember going forward.

When he was finally (later) eating some of his sweet potatoes with ketchup on Baba’s lap on the rocking chair (I think he spilled it on Ahmed’s leg), Ali said, “Ali spill ketchup.”

I was folding laundry, and he pointed to my hands and said, “Give me that.” I was holding a cloth wipe. I gave it to him. He wiped up the spill and said, “I got it.”

Things like that let me know he knows a lot more words and phrases than he usually uses. Maybe he’s just waiting to get things perfect.

It’s so hard to ask him to be quiet while Ayla is sleeping, but it’s also hard when he yells and wakes her up and throws her schedule off. One night after dinner I got down to his level and said, “I know it’s hard being quiet while Ayla is sleeping. Thank you so much.”

He kind of shrugged his shoulder as if to say, “No big deal,” or maybe it made him shy for some reason. Anyway, it was a kind of sweet moment.

Lately I’ve been singing Morning has Broken and Edelweiss to Ayla. She seems to really like it. Ali still won’t let me sing around him much unless it’s something like Head Shoulds Knees and Toes and I’m being goofy.

ETA: Yesterday (July 22) we walked to Grandma’s apartment. (They went ahead and leased it for a whole new year, which is cool — nice to have them around and also nice to have an extra apartment when I need to be on a call and both kids are asleep, plus a whole extra play space for Ali.) As we were passing under a building’s breezeway, suddenly loud barking echoed off the walls and made us both jump. It was just a stupid little dog that the owner is constantly walking (seriously, we see him almost every time we leave the house) and that barks at everything. There was absolutely no danger. But it was extremely startling, and I was surprised how coolly Ali took it in stride.

Until the danger was over and we were back in the sunlight again, and he melted down in tears. Poor guy. I’ve learned not to say, “It wasn’t scary” or “It’s not scary.” Clearly it was scary for him. It even scared me for a minute. But it wasn’t dangerous. So I told him several times it was safe, it wasn’t dangerous, but I knew it was scary. He calmed down after a while and went about his day truly calm.

Grandma had some Art-o-Mat art pieces strewn around her table, including a small clay dish and tiny clay baked goods. Ali put the baked goods on the dish and said, “Warm it up?” I carefully put it all in the box the art came in and said, “Push the button.” He pushed a pretend button and I hummed like a microwave and the said, “Ding!” He wanted to warm it up over and over. It’s one of his favorite games.

Today (July 23) we went to the park and stopped by a big ant hill along the way. Two ants crawled over Ali’s feet and he started crying really bad. I got his shoes and the ants off and he just kept crying. He had apparently been bitten and it hurt a lot. I had to carry him the rest of the way to the park, consoling him all the way. Poor baby.

Another mom at the swings saw a black snake off toward the grass and we all went and watched it poke its head up and then slither off. So that was kinda cool.

We talked on and off about the dog and the ant and the snake being scary, and when we talk about things being scary, he always goes back to the “Totato siyen in the woods.” There’s a tornado siren that goes off every Wednesday at noon for routine tests, and I guess it’s close to Turkey Mountain. It went off one time when the boys were at Turkey Mountain (a wooded hill with hiking and bike trails nearby) and it apparently scared Ali witless. He’s still processing it, weeks later. I say to him: “It’s scary, but it’s not dangerous. It’s just a big noise. It can’t hurt you.”

I hope I’m helping him process it in a good way.

Facebook commentary

Jul11: Ayla, 4 days into her solid food journey, is an oatmeal monster. I keep making a bunch of baby oatmeal thinking I’ll finish off half of it after she’s done. (It’s pretty good!) I basically do not get any, lol. I guess the little girl needed some iron? Or just likes her food!

Jul12: Don’t ask me how often I’ve had donuts and Doritos for lunch in the past few months.

(It’s in the single digits, but the high single digits.)

Jul12: The best way to get Ali to fall madly in love with a toy he never looked twice at before? Give it to Ayla.

Jul12: Feeling verklempt that my littlest baby girl is mobile enough to need her very own baby corral. Welcome to our living room for the next several months!

IMG_2348

Jul13: Ali calls the Frozen sisters Anna and Tulsa.

Jul15: I’m suddenly imagining Ali’s prom photo looking a lot like this…

Jul15: Our super picky toddler last night randomly wouldn’t eat anything on his plate other than sauteed kale covered in tahini lemon sesame sauce. (Wouldn’t touch his chicken or sweet potatoes.) We had the same thing again tonight and he just wanted to eat the sauce with a spoon.

(He also offered me one of his precious fruit snacks his Grandma gives him, unprompted. So sweet.)

Here’s the lanky lad. Ahmed said we should keep this swing and take a picture of him in it every year for 20 years…

Screen Shot 2020-07-22 at 6.07.10 PM

Jul16: Morning glory. Love waking up to this sunny girl ❀

Screen Shot 2020-07-22 at 6.08.43 PM

Screen Shot 2020-07-22 at 6.08.55 PM

Jul17: Ali was watching a video about a farm and Blippi said garlic grew under the dirt. Ali said, “Find garlic?” I brought him a head of garlic and he dismantled it into a bowl on the couch and started gnawing on a clove.

Screen Shot 2020-07-20 at 9.47.58 PM

Jul19: After Ali takes his iron pills, he walks around with his head cricked toward his shoulder for a while.

Couldn’t figure out what he was doing until Ahmed remembered Ali’s cousin Jack was taking swimmer’s ear medicine at Grandma’s house and after he took his medicine, he’d walk around like that.

Just wants to be like his cousin Jack!

Jul19: Look who’s sitting up like a big girl! A triptych.

triptych

IMG_2346IMG_2344

She once rolled into her brother’s hat, rolled over and was wearing the hat, and then rolled over again with it, hehe.IMG_2341IMG_2343IMG_2342IMG_2347IMG_2350Screen Shot 2020-07-22 at 6.09.07 PM

 

Solids

And just like that I’m no longer the sole source of nourishment for my baby.

Two days ago (July 8) she attacked Ahmed’s double dark chocolate Milano cookie en route to his mouth. Here she is with chocolate and crumbs on her face and hand for the first time.

Screen Shot 2020-07-19 at 9.22.27 PM

We’d been thinking about introducing solids for a little while and were just waiting for a sign, I guess. That was it. Ahmed and I let her suck on the cookie a little bit and then I spoon-fed her some pureed prunes. She downed it like she’d been eating all her life. Half the little container was gone before I knew it.

Screen Shot 2020-07-19 at 9.22.36 PM

She seemed to want the spoon, and I gave it to her at one point, but she immediately stuck it in too far and gagged herself. We don’t have a shorter, stubbier spoon on hand here in Stigler (we came back for a week for a change for Ali after a month in Tulsa), so I just did the rest of the feeding.

The next day she wasn’t drinking milk as much. It seemed she was looking for more solid food. So I spoon-fed her the rest of the prunes. She still wouldn’t drink milk, so I added water to some baby shredded peach-flavored oatmeal. It was extremely bland and she didn’t seem to like it much. So I added a little bit of toddler multi-grain shredded cereal with tiny bits of dried fruit, and she liked that much better.

She finally drank some breastmilk before bed and then was up at midnight for a good, full feed. When I tried to put her down again, I realized she had either drooled a lot or maybe thrown up a bit, and I only have one extra set of sheets in case she did it again, so I put her head at the other end of the bed. She woke at 7am and popped her head up, seeming very confused. I dozed a little and then when I went to pick her up her head was back in its usual place, haha. She is so smart. She remembers things. Like she’ll find the little plastic bubble things inside various cloth toys that if you squeeze them they will make a squeaky noise, and she’ll just wail on them. It’s so funny and cute.

When I picked her up, she had pooped a mushy instead of liquidy poop. Her first non-exclusively-breastmilk poop. I’m all for it — no fan of those messy liquidy poos — but it’s definitely the end of an era. And almost certainly, a few days ago, the last breastmilk poo of my life.

Today I had no prunes, just fed her more oatmeal mixed with Ali’s toddler shredded cereal, this time with soy milk instead of water, at lunch. She ate quite a lot of it. She grabbed the spoon a lot and fed herself much better and was also happy for me to feed her. She just kept looking at me like, “Come on, feed me, more, more.” I almost couldn’t spoon it in fast enough. Just when the second bowl was almost finished, she turned her head away and I finished the rest.

She is getting more and more frustrated being stuck horizontal. She can travel with her rolling and with scooting, but it’s so clear she wants to be able to sit up and stand up. She did pretty well in the high chair when I was feeding her, kind of holding herself up with one arm.

It’s crazy how fast time is going with her. The milestones are flying past.

On the one hand, it’s great. Ali needs a play mate more than a cute sack of potatoes, toddlers are more fun, breastfeeding is exhausting and limiting, etc.

The bastard of all of this is that the more I get to know my daughter, the more I’ll wish I could go back to the time when she was so tiny and soak it all in more. But right now I don’t know her well. When babies are little, they’re very cute, and they have some incipient personality traits, but they get so much more interesting as they get older. Knowing Ali now, it would be so amazing to go back and see him as a small baby, to love who he was then and who I knew he would be as we got to know each other better and our love grew and grew. It would be fun to say, “Gosh, in just a couple of years you’re going to be ______.”

But there’s no going back. Babies are cute, babies are destined to be some of your favorite people, but babies are also a huge pain in the butt, haha. A thousand naps to oversee, breastfeeding is tiring and time-consuming, holding them up so they can see the world is tiring and time-consuming, feeding them is messy and time-consuming, changing a million diapers, changing their clothes with no help from them, getting up in the night at unpredictable intervals…

Don’t get me wrong, babies are cute, and there are plenty of lovely and funny moments mixed in as well. And it’s a privilege to watch them grow, to be their guardian as they flower into their humanity. I took this job on willingly.

But cute is cute, and it’s only so rewarding in the 6,000th hour of it, you know? The daily grind is a bit of a grind. Exhausting. Relentless. I don’t mind it. I really don’t. Especially with the pandemic going on. But it can be a bit of a monotonous grind. That’s just the truth of full-time child care. And babies are still blank-ish slates. It’s not like you’re teaching them much, having conversations, playing anything more interesting than peek-a-boo. And right now I can’t even set her down much. She gets bored easily and / or wiggles right off her play mat.

She’s delightful. She’s easygoing. She adores my step-dad, her Grandpa, the way Ali adores my mom. She gives him the biggest smiles every single time she sees him.

Tonight as I was putting her to bed, she was pretty slow about feeding and I started singing (Morning has Broken, Cat Stevens), which made her stop and just stare up at me to watch me sing. She moved her lips as if trying to copy what I was doing. Sometimes she smiled her sly, sweet smile. I don’t remember Ali staring at me like that with such frank trust and wonder. Just wide-eyed and unabashed. He does now sometimes when we’re playing and having fun, but as a baby he just wanted to go go go. Or eat and pass out. Or (like Ayla) whip his head around at the slightest sound while eating, dragging my poor nipple with it!

Anyway, it was incredibly sweet and humbling. To have anyone look at me like that. To feel even the slightest bit worthy of it. It was a beautiful experience, even as I also kind of wanted her to just eat instead of dragging it out forever. What better thing did I have to do right then, really?

Backing up a bit, we came to Stigler on July 3, in part to escape the noise and crowds of Tulsa. COVID cases were also spiking in our neighborhood, though we’re not exactly a hot spot; the actual number of cases, while rising, aren’t actually that high compared to places like Texas and Florida. It could get a lot worse very quickly, and probably will. We are not a very smart species, we Americans…

But mainly we just wanted a change of pace for Ali after a month in Tulsa. As I mentioned, he got sick from some incidental playground contact with kids and we felt he was getting bored with nothing much to do other than walks along the river and walks in nature trails in nearby parks, since we were being more strict about keeping him away from other kids / humans. We thought he could use some Grandma / Grandpa time. And he was thrilled to be here. He even seemed to enjoy the smoke bombs and little fireworks we did in our backyard. But then as it grew dark (past his bed time) and people started shooting off big fireworks all around, he didn’t like the noise and seemed more and more scared. He kept saying, “Too loud.” I kept trying to get them to take him back in the golf cart, but they kept hoping he’d come around. He didn’t. He was very grateful when we went ahead and took him home and put him to bed.

A couple days later my brother came to Stigler and brought his 5 youngest boys. (The oldest is working in Little Rock.) Ages 11, 11, 9, 7, and 4, if I have that right. Ali was pretty overwhelmed when they showed up and went and grabbed his bunny lovey and started beating it manically against the couch while they surrounded him and asked what he was doing, and he just kept pounding the rabbit. He was clearly happy and excited but just way past his ability to cope right away, haha. In no time, though, he was running around with them and having the time of his life.

It’s pretty idyllic around here. Of course, with all those picky boys, we survived on hamburgers and hot dogs and cookies, pretty much. I do not feel quite my best on that kind of diet. Oh well. I’m in one of those moods where I’m tired of food in general, but I keep wanting to eat junk. Tonight Ahmed and I cooked two of our Blue Apron meals (steak with soy glaze, mashed potatoes, and togarashi carrots and zucchini and tahini-dressed chicken with kale) and Bill grilled the meats as well as some peaches to have with ice cream, cinnamon, and balsamic glaze. Such a nice end to the week.

Today I also finished watching Hamilton and watched our wedding video from 7 years ago. Ah the memories. We were so young and naive, thinking we’d have a kid within a year! The four years that followed were full of so much stress and heartache. It’s almost like they were robbed from us. But now we’re finally exactly where we want to be. Our last child is born and sleep trained (hallelujah!) and we finally get to just soak it all in.

More later, I’m too tired to live, haha.

Screen Shot 2020-07-19 at 9.08.29 PM

Facebook commentary

Jun26: A wonderful way to visualize turbulent air flow: Furminator your cat and throw tufts of cat fur off your third floor balcony. Even a slight breeze will pick them up and show you various vortices.

Jun28: Watching a Spanish league soccer game and the “virtual” audience looks like they put fans in a blender, pulsed twice, and evenly spread them over the bleachers.

Meanwhile they’re piping in audience sounds, and I have to wonder if they recorded it from another game, and they’re going to be cheering for goals that aren’t currently happening…

Gosh this is weird.

Jun29: I just had to call poison control because my son ate some of my thyroid pills. He’s fine.

Toddlers just don’t understand how to keep themselves safe. That’s why it’s our job to stay ahead of them.

But thank God he’s just a toddler and not a Republican (or left-wing conspiracy nut). He’d be out protesting for his right to eat as many of my thyroid pills as he wants, whenever he wants, because it’s in the Constitution.

Jun29: Ali matched his toy and puzzle hammers, wrenches, and pliers with no prompting from us. The only one he missed was the tape measure (they look quite different) and the screwdrivers (power vs. manual) and the saw (no toy equivalent). He’s clearly a genius.

Screen Shot 2020-07-19 at 9.00.04 PM

Jun30: Introduced Ali to pepperoni, aka purple money, aka (second try) peckermony.

Jul2: Ali’s favorite song right now is “You Should See Me in a Crown.”

When we get in the car he asks, “One by? One by? One by?”

Now I have to figure out who Billie Eilish is. Apparently she once had a facial expression? At an awards show?

Jul2: My naive prediction from March 28:

“My best guess is ten more weeks of shelter in place because not enough people will take it quite seriously enough. If people do take it seriously enough, only six more weeks or so.

Then lots of temperature checkpoints, contact tracing, individual quarantines, and the like to tamp out a resurgence. If we’re sensible.

What do you think?”

Sensible. Ha.

Jul7: Sloppy Joes and corn on the cob. Mom had to get these corn cob handles so Ali would quit trying to break his teeth biting on the cob from the end. Our little corn edgelord…

Jul6j

Screen Shot 2020-07-19 at 9.23.32 PM

Jul7: Ali’s first horse ride lasted all of 30 seconds. He wouldn’t bend his legs, haha. Baby steps, little bud.

At least he’s not scared of Uncle Doug anymore!

Jul7f

Jul8: So Ayla attacked her Baba’s double dark chocolate distinctive Milano cookie en route. (She didn’t get a bite, just a little sucking.) We guessed it was time to start solids. She loved the pureed prunes!

Jul8: Ali’s favorite thing in the world is watching his Grandma mow the lawn. He’s somehow convinced his cousins of its entertainment value.

Screen Shot 2020-07-19 at 9.23.15 PM

Jul10: Ali Julian unwittingly rocking the Richard Simmons cosplay.

Jul10: At 5 months, they keep scooting OFF THE ISLAND!

Jul10

 

Tulsa Times

Between sleep training and having our own space, times have been pretty great lately. Of course, there’s always something with kids. Ayla — as talented as she now is at putting herself to sleep — sometimes would simply rather stay up in the middle of the night and vocalize and blow raspberries for 90 minutes. And Ali has been fighting bed time pretty hard with all the fun going on. Then he swallowed a foam ear plug and got sick for a few days (low fever, snotty nose, cough), and it may or may not be COVID…

But it has been fun. For better or worse (probably worse), Oklahoma has reopened hard despite not having good numbers to do so, so Ali was able to go to the local playground an easy walk from our place, the splash pad at the park, and our apartment complex swimming pool (until he got sick). We tried to go when it wasn’t too crowded and more or less keep him away from other kids, but he’s curious about them and they’re curious about him and it was kind of impossible as well as psychologically difficult because he’s had so little interaction with kids at all in his two years of life. I suppose it makes sense that he got sick since he hasn’t been around kids at all in about 6 months. I just hope it’s not COVID.

We were also living it up a bit knowing the Trump Plague Rally was coming to town. Thank goodness attendance wasn’t nearly as high as the president clearly hoped. But 6,000 people in one room is still a stupid f***ing idea during a pandemic, and Tulsa’s numbers were already spiking. Back to hunkering down 😦

Ayla has been scooting around on her Lovevery play mat. She doesn’t seem to move as much when we’re watching. But we can put her on her back in the middle and walk away for a while and find her on her belly spun around 180 degrees and half off the mat next time we see her.

It’s been hot but not too crazy for an Oklahoma summer, and I got a genius invention — a lightweight foldable camping stool — to carry around so I can sit down and take a load off when Ali wants to look at a dead worm for 20 minutes. Add in a new hat, sunglasses, and comfy shorts (I don’t think I’m going to lose my pregnancy / breastfeeding belly before the summer is over, and I’m OK with that!), and if Ali hadn’t gotten sick, and both hadn’t started sleeping so badly, and the f***ing bed bugs hadn’t come back, life would be pretty dang good.

Regarding bed bugs: Ali got bit in his high chair; we threw it out. Then Ahmed got bit in the rocking chair; we put the cushions in the dryer and aggressively vacuumed every nook and cranny and then called the exterminator to spray it and the bottom of our couch for good measure — we hope they’re gone, but it’s meant more hours prepping the house and then putting it back together and a lot of anxiety that the problem still hasn’t been licked and nervously looking at every speck of everything and still feeling kind of invaded and violated and unsettled plus it’s just gross that we’ve now had toxic crap sprayed in our house TWICE. Ugh. We also probably can’t give any of our newborn stuff away that can’t be put in a dryer. Our lovely bouncer and swings will probably just have to be tossed. So sad. Someone could really have used them. But who wants stuff from a bed bug house? Nobody, that’s who.

So yeah, good and bad, beautiful and exasperating. You’ll read below how I was feeling about the idiotic Trump rally and some other things. Crazy times, and this pandemic is going to get a whole lot worse in the Idiotic States of America before it gets better. So exasperated by that. So sad Ali can’t just be a normal happy two-year-old and go to day care like we hoped and keep swimming and splashing, which gave him so much joy (and an illness that may or may not be COVID) the few times we went. We also didn’t feel comfortable going to Stigler when his cousins were down there visiting because he was sick, and we were horribly disappointed by that. Ali didn’t even know, but we were still disappointed on his behalf. He would have LOVED it.

Meanwhile here are some pictures πŸ™‚

Some captions to the photos:

Ali found some screws wedged between veranda planks. He’s using a real screwdriver to really screw them (even though they’re not screwing into anything, just turning around and around).

SHOULDER DIPMLES (Ayla’s — I’m mad for them, and her elbow and knuckle dimples)

In one shot she’s wearing an “I’m a Wild and Crazy Baby” shirt. That used to be mine πŸ™‚

Facebook Commentary

June 1: I noticed something extremely disturbing. The way some “authority figures” have been responding to (for example) unarmed protesters who didn’t immediately “comply” with their orders — the panicked rage of their “authority” not being immediately respected — I recognized this feeling, or at least a shadow of it, when I asked my two-year-old repeatedly to stand up in the bath so I could wash his lower half and he completely ignored me.

I would never shoot a man in broad daylight or run unarmed protesters over with my car. I try not to yell at my son and do not hit him. And I didn’t do anything in this instance but just wash his lower half in the water — not as effective, but fine now and then.

But authoritarianism seems to start with our first interactions with humans (generally our parents), and the results can be terrifying.

I’m really meditating today on why I felt so angry when my son wouldn’t immediately comply. It’s not his job to always immediately comply. He’s a human, too. I’m the leader in this partnership, but not a dictator. When health or safety is at stake, I will force compliance. But in other cases, by the nature of him being human, too, there will be give and take unless I’m willing to beat him into submission. And I am not.

We all need to learn to live with the fact that we don’t have complete control and we never will. Not without absolutely devastating consequences. (And not even then.)

June 3: Something that really gets under my skin: The “objective white guy.” The guy who has never faced adversity based on how he was born, the guy who sits in a relative position of power, the guy who doesn’t even realize claiming the mantle of “objective” is a power play that only he can get away with because his reality is the “default” reality, the one with the most obeisance and veneration because of its position of privilege.

This power play is particularly insidious because it renders the “objective white guy” utterly incapable of seeing his massive blind spots and biases because he genuinely believes himself to be objective.

Hot tip: Just because you can speak unemotionally about someone else’s experience and pain doesn’t necessarily mean you know more about it than they do.

And just because you get to see “white male studies” and “white male literature” as simply “history” and “literature” (and everyone else as some kind of “special case”) doesn’t mean you define actual reality any better than anyone else.

White men (writ large) have done incredibly horrible things to maintain their position of power and privilege, which includes their ability to get away with calling themselves “objective” and everyone else “emotional” (or whatever).

And now many men who’ve never had to do anything horrible — who simply benefit from the system set up by other powerful white men — all too often blithely step in and claim these powers and these mantles even as they miss so many manifest realities by miles. Their cluelessness is abundantly apparent to anyone outside of their bubble, but as long as they never leave their bubble (and dismiss anyone who challenges it), they get to keep thinking they’re objective and more logical and superior and all the rest and enjoy their cluelessness and their privilege.

It is nearly impossible to engage meaningfully with these people. It is certainly exhausting.

June 4: I’m not sure if I’ll say this right, but while very horrible things are obviously happening, it’s also a privilege and a comfort to feel surrounded by so much excellent black energy. Black lives don’t just matter. Black lives are precious, gorgeous, fun, smart, creative, hilarious, and passionate.

Anyone trying to dim any of that is impoverishing us all.

June 7: Sorry for a trivial post, but I am shell-shocked in the best way. Ayla’s sleep deteriorated steadily from the day she was born (the first month was great!) to the point where I was “managing” her sleep practically 24/7. And my “management” techniques weren’t even working anymore.

I was losing my ability to function as a human.

Finally she turned 4 months and I could sleep train — i.e., give her space to learn how to fall asleep on her own. It took about 40 minutes for her to fall asleep on her own the first night, but she’s been sleeping and napping LIKE A CHAMP since then in her own safe space. Not just falling asleep quickly but staying asleep for longer periods.

I feel like I got my life / sanity back

June 9: What the heck did you do, Ayla? She rolled over and started hitting keys on my laptop and my browser disappeared and there’s a new icon on my desktop

June 10: I know worms tend to come up to the sidewalk when it rains a lot, but why are there so many dead worms on the sidewalk on this hot, windy day?

Ali kept finding them, and we’d squat down and look at them, and I’d say, “It’s a dead worm. It dried out in the sun.”

Ali looked at it thoughtfully. “Dead worm. Sad.”

“Yes, baby, it is sad.”

“Worm crying.”

“Well, I don’t know if worms cry, or if they suffer, or how…”

Wow, that turned dark fast…

June 10: Good God. Trump is coming to Tulsa — site of the Tulsa Race Massacre — during a time of historic protests against racism on JUNETEENTH.

He’s either vastly ignorant or trolling in the worst way. Probably somehow both.

ETA: Among many other (worse) things, this is very likely to be a COVID-19 super spreader event, which means Tulsa is going to be slammed with preventable deaths and/or shut down again for even longer.

I’m getting f***ing sick of (some of) my fellow Americans. Guess I won’t be doing social events again until roughly 2022.

June 10: Mother’s Day came a little late for me, but I got a new sun hat, sunglasses, portable stool for walks with Ali (he’s a long pauser and I’m not a long stander), and shorts that fit my postpartum body.

Ready for summer!

June 10: Ayla wants to crawl SO BAD. She can get her head up, and she can get her butt up, just not both at the same time.
June 12: We avoid saying the word “vacuum” in this house because it can precipitate endless requests to run the vacuum, watch Youtube videos about vacuums, etc.

If we need to mention vacuum cleaners or vacuuming, we use the code-word “Voldemort.”

June 14: So tonight I get to google “What happens when your toddler swallows a foam ear plug.”

And then talk to a triage nurse who says watch the poop and watch for signs of bowel obstruction. Nothing more to be done at this point.

And now my watch begins…

June 15: I sincerely hope I’m wrong.

But I’m willing to bet anyone $100 that even if the Trump campaign hands out masks to everyone attending the rally in Tulsa on Saturday (as they say they will), fewer than 25% of attendees will actually wear them, and at some point Trump will make a joke about how masks are stupid.

And it’s going to hurt all of us. Aside from the unnecessary deaths it will cause, it’ll likely lead to another (possibly longer, harsher) economic shutdown.

It’s just straight-up willful stupidity personified. I’m sorry, I have no way to soft-pedal that.

June 15: So glad to have these long summer evenings where I’m not pregnant and no one is cluster feeding and the weather is nice and we can all go OUTSIDE and enjoy.

Tonight Ali had an absolute blast at the splash pad. He hasn’t been around kids much (we were just about to put him in day care when the COVID hit) and he just kind of follows them around and watches them, but mostly he runs around and squeals and smiles so big.

He was finally starting to get a chill so we told him he could make one last pass through the water arch. He was looking at us and smiling, and another little girl was looking at her mama and smiling and running and she plowed straight into him, knocking him on his back. The back of his head hit the pavement. Not hard enough to do serious damage, but it’s never fun for your head to make contact with concrete. He screamed and even though I couldn’t blame the little girl for being a little girl, I felt crushed. Ahmed scooped him up and we started walking home and pretty soon Ali was screaming, “OUTSIIIIDE! OUTSIIIIDE!” He didn’t want to go inside, even after that!

But we reminded him we were still outside for the moment and pointed out every interesting thing along the way, and pretty soon he was in a hot bath and feeling better. The back of his head is gonna have a tender spot for a while, though.

(Ayla was there, too. She got her little feet wet in one of the fountains and looked and looked. She can’t wait to run around, too.)

After his bath he saw Mateo sniffing a dinner plate we’d been using to stack blocks on. I said, “Mateo is wondering where the food is.”

Ali picked up the plate and offered it to Mateo and said, “Can you some? Can you some, Mateo?”

I knew exactly what he was saying. When he wants something, he says, “Can I have some?” So he switched it around to “Can you [have] some?” meaning “Do you want some?”

I was so proud of his linguistic attempt (as well as his pretend play and generosity). It’s brave to come up with your own constructions.

June 16: So we put floaties on Ali and he walked straight into the pool and started dog paddling like he’d done it all his life. Kind of frightening to be honest. I’m going to have to take him in next time without the floaties to show him what happens if he walks that confidently into the pool without them!

A little four-year-old girl started talking to him later on and he said, “Vacuum?”

She laughed and said, “No, no vacuum.”

He said, “Lello vacuum? Scared lello vacuum?”

I suppose asking her if she was scared of the yellow vacuum?

She didn’t really understand him, so he went on, “Gamma Gamma Gampa? Gamma Gamma Gampa?” (Grandma Grandma Grandpa.)

She kind of wandered off.

Such a charmer, our little lad. But hey, he knows what he likes! He probably would have regaled her with tales of leaf blowers and hedge trimmers if she’d stuck around…

ETA: Another funny thing Ali did. We got him a big inflatable pool ring with handles on top in addition to the floaties. We were paying attention to something else, and suddenly he starting making laps around the couch wearing his floaties and carrying the half-inflated pool ring by the handles around his waist yelling, “Run away! Run away! Run away!” It took me a minute to realize he was acting out one of the lines from Baby Shark. The kids in the video have animated pool rings around their waists as they run away πŸ˜€

(Also, we were impressed that Ayla fit into a 3-month-sized shirt. Until we realized it wasn’t a shirt at all but was supposed to be a dress! Haha. We put a swim diaper on her and carried her around in the pool, too. She took it in perfect stride. Here’s Ayla in a shirt I used to wear.)

June 17: With the Tulsa rally, Trump is quite literally acting like a cult leader, telling his faithful to do something deadly (Kool-aid, anyone?) and saying, basically, that it’s not dangerous (against all evidence) and that anyone who dissents from this edict is an apostate, an enemy, a snowflake loser.

And when cases inevitably spike and people start dying, they’ll all find someone else to blame.

June 17: Daaaang, this is the best money I’ve spent in a while. I had a comfy place to sit in the shade for 30 minutes while Ali played with a discarded plastic fork, played with mulch, played with dead worms, and picked tiny dried blooms off some flowers and crumpled them on my knees.

A lot more meditative than tiredly shifting weight from foot to foot or sitting on an ant hill. (There are ant hills everywhere.)

https://www.rei.com/product/765283/rei-co-op-trail-stool

June 18: Ali has a mild fever and runny nose. We’ve been letting him go to the local park and splash pad and the apartment complex pool because, you know, summer fun for an active boy who’s finally old enough to really enjoy this stuff. And transmission usually isn’t nearly as bad outdoors.

But he’s adorable and other kids like to get up in his face despite our best efforts and I really, really hope I didn’t expose him (and all of us) to the virus

June 19: So, the ear plug came out. An inch-long purple foam ear plug that is no longer purple at all. But otherwise unscathed. And so, hopefully, is our boy who hopefully learned not to eat ear plugs!

June 19: Can I just say how grateful I am that my second child can sleep through leaf blowers outside and her brother’s loud toy vacuum in the next room instead of waking up if my hip pops halfway across the house?

June 19: Looks like it’ll be thunder-stormy tomorrow. Come on, Oklahoma weather. You’re our last hope…

June 19: Am I the only one who, after I get a package, I go to the track package page and refresh it to make sure it says “Delivered”?

June 20: Let’s check back in a month and see where we are.

I predict Tulsa is going to be a Ground Zero in short order.

Stupid is as stupid does. What a shameful farce.

June 20: Of course no one at the Trump rally is wearing masks. Of course.

At least it’s half-empty. But they aren’t even spreading out!

June 20: We drove by the peaceful rally at Veterans Park a couple miles from the BOK Center / Trump rally. It was as packed as it could be with people still social distancing pretty well. Almost everyone was wearing masks. I didn’t join because I have a sore throat and two kids, one of them with a low-grade fever and runny nose.

Instead we went to the river trail and walked in the gorgeous sunny weather. People were playing pick-up basketball, biking, skateboarding. Just a peaceful Saturday.

I had already seen the not-remotely-full arena on the news. The overflow event was canceled because, um, there was no overflow. There were also zero masks worn that I could see. Still probably a superspreader event (groan). But not the best photo op for the president.

I flipped on the radio on the way home and heard Trump explaining in detail why he drinks water in a very weird way… except he didn’t explain anything at all and anyway who the hell cares, dude? Do you know what’s going on in the world these days? Grow up.

All in all: Proud of Tulsa. Not the leadership, licking the boots of power. The people. We didn’t take the bait.

Go home, Donny. Bye.

June 20: I really hope that was an earthquake and not, like, Trump trying to nuke a tornado to distract from his crappy rally.

June 20: I wrote this in the Peaceful Tulsa Rally group when someone asked for thoughts about today being the solstice (and I’m so relieved things turned out so peaceful in general!):

I feel like the Source of Light is watching over us. (That’s not a part of any tradition, just a personal sentiment.) It’s there for any of us who choose to open our eyes to help and guide us.

The darkness hates the light, but the light persists and shows us all what is really true.

May this rally shine a strong light on this town and show the world the difference between racism and anti-racism, between white supremacists and those who truly believe the lives of all of us matter, between bigotry and unconditional love.

June 20: The good people in Tulsa very much feel like they won and are partying (with masks and social distancing) in Greenwood now.

Take that, darkness!

June 21: I could honestly cry with relief to wake up to a peaceful Tulsa that feels like the plague rally never happened.

It was a complete flop. A fizzle. The BOK Center wasn’t even close to half full. (Fewer than 7,000 out of 19,000 seats.)

I listened to most of Trump’s speech. Seems like the Trump sideshow is losing its steam. He spent like half an hour just talking about drinking water in a weird way and shambling down a ramp.

Big yawn. That’s all you got from Tulsa, Don John.

June 21: Happy Father’s Day to a wonderful man and an incredible father. Your kids adore you. For me, the wait — for you and for our children — was so so worth it!

June 21: OK, I am embarrassed to say I did not know this.

And guess where my husband’s family is from?

Eskisehir — meaning “Old Town” in Turkish!

“The name “Tulsa” (originally spelled Tulsey or Tulsee) is a shortened pronunciation of Tallasi, which is almost certainly a contraction of Tullahassee or Tallahassee, meaning “Old Town” (“Tulwa,” meaning town, and “ahassee,” meaning something old) in the Creek language.”

June 21: And keep in mind, folks — Oklahoma was Trump’s BEST CASE SCENARIO for a pandemic rally. Most boot-licking small-time leadership willing to do anything to get him. Most opened up economy despite COVID-19 numbers still rising. And let’s face it — some of the most ignorant, anti-science people in the country.

And it was a total flop.

Just sayin’.

June 21: Why are toddler clothes so aggressively gendered? Ali would look so dashing in a pale aquamarine. But every boy shirt is either dark red, dark blue, dark green, or brown. Always with loud graphics in bright garish colors.

Meanwhile, I admit, I can’t stop buying pink stuff for Ayla. She looks like a little flower fairy in it.

June 22: It’s amazing to me how anti-maskers* claim that masks do nothing against a virus (or respiratory droplets) yet somehow manage to trap dangerous amounts of carbon dioxide (which is thousands of times smaller than a virus / droplet).

Pick one, genius.

*And yeah, I seriously can’t believe “anti-maskers” are really a thing. We are truly living in the dumbest timeline.

4 Months, Ferber Time

First of all, some adorableness. Ayla laughing big at my singing on May 31. So dang cute.

I let Ali go all the way to six months before sleep training because I didn’t know any better, and also because I only had one child.

When you have two children, the tiredness gets to a whole other level, plus Ali deserves more of me than I can give him right now, futzing with Ayla’s sleep 24/7. I cannot keep doing it for another two months. I’m getting to the point where I do not enjoy being a mom and don’t feel able to cope well.

Chronic sleep deprivation is no freaking joke. My kids deserve me at my best.

But even more than that, it’s definitely a safety issue at this point. Ayla is getting really good at rolling and (please know I’m covering my face in shame) she rolled out of my bed last night. I was right there, I kind of caught her with my socked foot. It happened so fast. She cried of course but seemed totally fine and calmed down quickly. Me? I’m never going to let that happen again. I just feel sick about it.

Sleep training SUCKS. There’s no way to mince words. It’s hard. It’s sad. The babies are fine — they’re safe, they’re loved, they’re being given space to learn a new skill. They’re OK. Ali woke up with the HUGEST smile on his face the first time he cried himself to sleep. The crib became a friend instead of an enemy. Life improved hugely for everyone.

But it still sucks. It’s hard watching your baby cry. Ayla’s sleep has deteriorated and deteriorated to the point where I’m just a miserable zombie and I can’t keep her safe at night because I’m not well-rested enough to trust myself. Last night the choice became crystal clear. No more putting it off.

It sucked a little extra because she got her four month shots on Thursday. Ali’s two year well visit got put off because of the COVID, so I took them both in at the same time. Everything looks great with both kids, I’m very grateful to say.

Ayla measured 24.9 inches (70th percentile), 14 lb 13 oz (63%), head circumference 41.1 cm (65%).

Ali measured in at 37.2 inches (94% — still tall), 26.2 pounds (31% — yay, growing despite only eating simple carbs!), head circumference 47cm (10% — woo hoo, out of the single digits!) The doc did suggest iron supplements to help with his apparent growing pains in his legs sometimes.

I was very proud of Ali.

When the doctor came in we asked if he wanted a red sucker or orange sucker or yellow or pink or green… He just watched the doctor. She came back with an orange sucker that he accepted happily.

She did the whole exam as he sat quietly, saying nothing. He didn’t whimper or whine or cry, just quietly cooperated as he was poked and prodded and observed. I felt awful because I told him no shots, but it turned out he was going to have to get a finger stick for a lead test.

Finally as she was leaving he looked at her and said, “Lello sucker?”

We laughed and promised him another sucker after they did a “little oof” (small painful thing) that would hurt for just a few seconds.

I braced myself as a nurse lanced his finger, but he didn’t make a peep, just watched, fascinated, as the blood was milked into the little tube.

Then he got a green sucker and was happy as a clam!

Later I was pointing at his little finger band-aid and telling Ali I was sorry about his oof.

He said, “All done?”

I said, “Yeah, all done!”

He said, “Another finger?”

I said, “Do you want them to stick another finger?”

“Yeah!”

“Yeah? You thought it was fun?”

“Open another one?”

“You want us to go back to the doctor and open another finger?”

“Yeah!”

This kid…

Anyway, that night, on top of getting her shots and not napping all day, she rolled out of the bed even under my close watch. So the next night (*deep sigh*) it was time.

I had just sent a long diatribe to one of my best friends, Emily, about how exhausted I was and how the last straw was when the exterminator failed to show up to spray for bed bugs on Thursday as scheduled, after we put everything we owned in the dryer (to kill bugs) and/or bagged it up and/or piled it in the centers of the rooms.

Yes, we have a confirmed, if seemingly small, bed bug infestation. We bought an encasement for Ali’s mattress and new bed frame, which we put on interceptor traps, so at least his bed is safe from the bugs. Ahmed and Ali have been sleeping on that bed and caught three nymphs in the interceptor traps over the past several days.

But they both got bit once while sitting in the living room floor, and Ahmed found an adult bed bug crawling out of his shorts. Ew. Bed bugs have nothing to do with cleanliness and don’t carry diseases, they just hitchhike in, and their numbers around the country are apparently increasing. Several friends have told me they dealt with them, too, once I was open about it. But the bites give Ali these big, itchy welts, and it feels like our home is not our own.

We’ve been mostly staying in Stigler while we waited to confirm and then treat for the bugs. In Tulsa, Ayla and I have been staying at my parents’ apartment while Ali and Ahmed sleep in the safe bed at our place. (We didn’t want to draw any bugs toward the other end of the house where our bedroom is.)

Ayla has been running me absolutely ragged with her horrible sleep, and then after she rolled off the bed, it was the last straw.

So anyway, Emily and I Skyped while I let Ayla fuss and cry and scream herself to sleep. She was my moral support. I did the Ferber method, so I checked in regularly, and every time she calmed right down and then redoubled her screaming as soon as I left. It was as heartbreaking and awful as I feared and then some. She is just the sweetest, and for a baby she’s a great sleeping partner. It absolutely melts me when she reaches out her warm little hand to touch me in the night. I hated for that to end. I hated for her to not understand why it was ending.

But health and safety have to come first sometimes. Sigh…

After about half an hour I decided to nurse Ayla again just to make double sure she wasn’t hungry. Then from roughly 9pm to 9:40pm she fussed / cried / screamed again. Until she fell peacefully asleep. I was terrified to go in the room and sleep myself, scared to wake her, until midnight. She did wake up and I nursed her again and put her back in the Pack n Play. She fussed for 5 or 10 minutes and put herself to sleep again. At 3:30 she woke up and I nursed her again and put her back. She silently put herself to sleep.

She woke again around 7am, and this time I brought her into the bed and we nursed and dozed until 9. One last time.

She napped in the car on the way to Stigler this morning, then when it was time to nap again, I put her in the Pack n Play. She fussed and cried, and I checked in after 3 minutes. A few more minutes passed and it seemed she was trying to self-soothe, so I left her to it and she was asleep in a few more minutes.

Whew! If this is the worst of it, damn that was easy. I mean, the first part of the first night was hard and sad, but if I’m about to feel human again and not the miserable stressed zombie guardian of Ayla’s terrible sleep, it’s such a relief and (as always) such a no-brainer. She was crying while I rocked her endlessly to naps and sleep anyway, so this is definitely a net loss of crying.

And the exterminator will hopefully come on Monday and we’ll be on the way to having a handle on life again.

Random story: Ali call computers “myputers” because I call my computer “my computer.” Today he amended it to “Mama’s myputer.”

In other news, we’ve realized we need to stop for about half an hour in the middle of these 90-minute car rides between Stigler and Tulsa so the kids can stretch out and walk, eat, and generally not be so bored for so long.

Despite a good stop at the Sonic in Warner on the way to Stigler today, Ayla started fussing toward the very end and Ahmed suggested I sing. I started singing the ABC song.

Ali protested, “No B, no F, no V!”

Ahmed said, “You don’t want mama to sing?”

“No sing!”

I said, “Well, Ayla is starting to cry, and I’m trying to calm her down. Would you rather listen to mama singing or Ayla crying?”

“Ayla crying!”

Sigh… everyone’s a critic! πŸ˜›

Ali’s lawn life

Grandma wrote about Ali and the weedeater: “This is the big boy who wouldn’t walk into the same part of the garage where this was stored two months ago. Now he tries his best to trim my hair with it!”

I wrote: “WEE DEE DURR!!! Ali didn’t know what it was two months ago. Then it was fascinating if terrifying. Now it’s one of his best friends.”

Ayla turned 4 months and I couldn’t find her blanket! I’ll have to photoshop it…

aylapam2

Me and my girl

Jun6

Grandma got Ali the coolest “baby push lawnmower”! Too hot to mow outside, though…

Test-a-versary

On this day one year ago I took a pregnancy test, out of habit, not expecting anything. Imagine my shock. It took five years and so many interventions to have our first child. Only five months and zero interventions to have a second?

It seemed the legends were true — it WAS possible to get pregnant on your own, for free!

Of course, I knew all too well that there are many, many intermediate steps between a lavender line and a healthy baby. Things can go horribly wrong at anyΒ one of those steps.

Day by day, week my week, month by month, here we are with 15 pounds of pure sweetness and love. It’s still hard to believe.

So glad you could join us, Miss Ayla.

Screen Shot 2020-05-30 at 3.46.33 PM

May has been interesting. Long. Sleep has been generally poor, although Ali has gotten a lot better toward the end, with full two-hour naps and often sleeping until 8am. He loves coming out and saying, “Blue light!”

Ayla has been just plain exhausting. The fourth month, man. It’s boot camp. Not only is it some of the worst sleep, but you can’t sleep train yet and the sleep deprivation is really starting to add up over the months. With all our moving back and forth it’s been impossible to maintain the kind of “sleep hygiene” I was hoping to this time so we wouldn’t have to sleep train. But it’s definitely needed. I’ll see what my ped says, but Ferber is probably on our horizon. She’s a healthy 15-pound chunk, so I think we’ll get the OK.

Bed bugs were confirmed in our apartment, so we’re dealing with that. Exhausting. Expensive. But what can you do? Those little bugs can hitchhike in from anywhere. Thankfully the infestation is still very small, but we’re leaning toward spraying instead of continuing to manically vacuum and launder and hope. We can’t maintain intensive protocols with two little kids and a cat. And they say the spray is safe once it’s dry. We don’t like it at all, but we can’t be held hostage to a growing infestation, either. Ali’s bed is now up on a bed frame with traps around the legs and we’ve caught two nymphs and Ali hasn’t been bitten on his bed again. So that’s a relief. But still. We don’t have a way to put our bed on traps (it has a kind of slab as a support, not legs) and we’re afraid they’ll just come our way now that Ali’s bed is not an option.

Long story short, we’re still at my mom’s house but hoping to be back in Tulsa in early June. Ali has absolutely loved it here and thrived, and we’re so grateful for it. But it’ll be nice to have our own space again, too.

Both kids are growing and learning and doing great. All in all life is good! Once we can get some sleep and have a reasonably reliable sleep / nap schedule in our own space, it’ll make a real difference I think. Exhaustion is exhausting, lol. But life is definitely good.

20200510_163810Four generations. (The latest generation doesn’t seem too impressed with 2020.)

The pie was my first attempt at a pie from scratch. (I even made the crust.) An apricot pie for my mom’s birthday.

Facebook commentary

May 5: Explaining to my son why a four-wheeler is called a four-wheeler. Presumably because it has four wheels.

I can only imagine he’s confused why all the other vehicles with four wheels are called completely different things…

May 6: Ali saw his first “umbrillo” yesterday. (Armadillo.) Completely fascinated. Then a fox ran by. David Attenborough is probably crouched somewhere nearby giving ongoing commentary.

May 8: One of the most important tools in my parenting tool box: Ear plugs.

I can still hear them just fine when they’re yelling / screaming / crying, but my nervous system doesn’t click in to fight-or-flight. It’s easier to act appropriately instead of getting fed up and over-reacting.

May 8: Is there a word for delaying doing laundry as long as possible because you know someone will puke or poop on something the moment the wash cycle ends?

May 10: My Mother’s Day miracle: Both kids were asleep (or at least quiet) at the same time for a whole hour, so I got to watch the first half of Episode IX.

I hope to watch the last half and finish out the Star Wars series some time before the quarantine is over

May 14: Today on our walk Ali and I saw a teenage squirrel doing parkour (seriously, it was flipping and twisting all over the place, so much I was worried about rabies for a hot minute) and a mama fox and three juvenile foxes wrassling and chasing each other.

May 15: Ali (points at an animated hamster on TV): Mouse. Mouse. Mouse!

Me. It’s a hamster.

Ali: Mouse.

Me: Hamster. *Google images hamster* Look, this is what a hamster looks like.

Ali: *Studies it for a while, concludes confidently* Mouse.

Me: *shrug* OK, it’s a mouse.

Me: *Googles “what’s the difference between a hamster and a mouse”*

May 16: Ali doesn’t actually know how to taunt people. Ahmed tried to teach him how to do a little snarky dance and say, “Nah nah nah nah nah,” to get us to chase him. But he doesn’t really do it “right.” It’s more of an apologetic little bob and weave and “Ha ha ha ha.” So cute.

May 17: Ali (holding a toy rhinoceros): What’s that?

Me: Rhinoceros.

Ali: Dinosaur!

May 17: Me (while Ali is sharing my pad thai and eating with his hands on the porch): Please don’t touch my pants with your dirty hands.

Ali (the minute my guard is down): *plants his hand firmly on my knee, covering my pants with peanut sauce, and carefully watches my reaction*

#ToddlersAreAssholeScientists

May 20: A squirrel ran across the road chasing another one.

Ali (laughing): Squirrel funny! *pause* Squirrel again?

Me: I do not control the squirrels, buddy. *pause* *contemplates what I would do with my powers if I did control the squirrels…*

May 21: Ali and I saw a frog eat a fly.

He found the frog. I saw the fly and kept us all still enough to watch the fly creep up behind the frog, land on the very stoic frog’s head, then make the fatal mistake: Keep going and land right in front of the frog.

SLURP.

Ali, of course, laughed and said, “Again?”

May 22: We found the trash truck! It wasn’t working to just wait for it to come to us. It always comes during Ali’s naps. So we followed the trash truck noises for a mile or so, found the truck on 9th Street, and followed it down a block. We watched the men put the trash in and the truck “eat” the trash until the truck sped off. So much fun with a two-year-old.

Ali always asks, “Who’s that?” whenever we come across someone in the neighborhood.

I always say, “That’s a neighbor.”

At one point today I barely stopped myself from saying, “Don’t worry about it, she’s a non-player character.”

May 22: I got a tip there was a meth house fire nearby and we took Ali to see the fire trucks. As we were getting closer he gasped and said, “Lawn mower!”

I looked around. Sure enough, in a random yard between us and the fire trucks, there was a red riding lawn mower.

Kid knows what he likes.

May 24: Once time I was trying to surf and totally failing (near Santa Cruz). The waves weren’t very big, there was seaweed everywhere, and I kept tumbling off the board.

I noticed a kid, maybe 7 years old, watching me. He noticed me noticing him, nodded slightly, and said kind of philosophically, “Tumbling in the seaweed.”

The kid was right. That’s exactly what I was doing. Not “failing.” Just tumbling in the seaweed.

I still think about that kid.

I want to be that kid. I want my kids to be like that kid.

May 26: Whoah, found an Ali hack! He eats like an anemic bird, so it’s a miracle when we can get him to eat, you know, fat or protein. Tonight he saw us eating with chopsticks, and he wanted to use them SO BAD, so we gave him a pair, but of course he’s 2 and it didn’t go anywhere.

Then Ahmed had the brilliant idea to just skewer pieces of chicken and vegetables on the chopsticks and give them to Ali, and he ate more than he’s eaten in the past month combined!

Ali and I also had an hour-long walk today along the river and through the forbidden, abandoned park. He found every stick and declared it was either a “weef boder” (leaf blower), a “wee dee durr” (weed eater), or a hedge trimmer. (The hedge trimmer is the latest god in his pantheon.) We found other treasures and played silly games.

I almost wish I had a camera on my phone to capture some of these days. I’m glad Ali’s dad takes great photos!

May 27: Watching someone named Blippi manically do yard work on Youtube while breakfasting on hard cider and Walmart donuts after staying up all hours with a newborn. Feeding my toddler chicken soup while he’s distracted.

How’s your quarantine going?

ETA: Now I’m finishing his soup and feeding him donut pieces with chop sticks.

May 28: The best part of wearing a mask? When I leave the grocery store and undo the top tie (my masks has two ties behind the head instead of elastic around the ears) and let the mask fall around my neck, I totally feel like a surgeon who just finished some badass surgery.

Three Months

Big week for my girly. She laughed for the first time on Sunday, May 3, turned three months on May 4, and today (May 5) she rolled over front to back for the first time. (Ali rolled back to front first.)

Ayla was in the bath with me and her brother and was looking at her dad when she laughed. I don’t know what made her laugh, but it was such a sweet sound.

Today I had her doing tummy time and that big wobbly head just kind of went to her right and she got herself in a kind of twisted side-lying position. The post of her play gym was in her way, so I scooted her away from it a little, preserving her body positioning. Little by little she kept trying until she was all of a sudden lying on her back. It’s hard to say how intentional it was. It did seem like she was trying to do something. Maybe just get into a more comfortable position. Maybe just exploring movement. But it was pretty awesome to witness.

20200504_14345520200504_14344920200504_14345320200504_142716

ETA: She achieved locomotion this week, too, I think on Wednesday, May 6. On her back, she can dig in her heels and scoot herself in the direction of her head. Pretty cool.

Less cool? She’s getting up about 3 times a night to feed, and last night / this morning she was up at 11:30, 3am, and 5am – 11am. I am tired.

Also, skylighter = screwdriver in Ali-speak.

May Day

It’s been a tiring stretch. Ayla’s sleep has gotten even worse (naps are trickier, she feeds more at night) and Ali has started refusing sleep at night, getting up way too early, and not napping as long. From what I understand, there is often a sleep regression at two years. Naps get weird for a while, if they happen at all. But most two-year-olds still need naps. Or at least a couple hours of “quiet time.” We’re definitely sticking with it and hoping he’ll go back to good naps in a couple (or a few) weeks!

For now he’s clearly not getting enough sleep, and while he’s usually Mr. Smiley, he can turn on a dime. Yesterday he melted down because I wouldn’t let him push the (empty) stroller into the neighbor’s yard and today he went nuts because I didn’t want to sit and dig up worms in the garden as long as he wanted to. (I had to pee and was starving and Mom and Bill were about to arrive with pizza.) His inconsolable yelling (“Wooooorms! Wooooorms!”) woke up Ayla when I dragged him inside (d’oh) and she never quite recovered and was fussy the rest of the evening.

It’s 9:30pm now and Ali is scream-crying in his room, not wanting to sleep. I’m supervising Ayla’s oh-so-fragile nap. (Of course she woke up and started yelling while I was writing this.)

I know it gets better. It’ll pass. In another month Ayla will be old enough for Ferber sleep training, and believe me, that cannot come fast enough. I spend hours these days rocking her in her bouncer, the only way I can get her to nap at all. I have to manually do it, the bounce of the bouncer is not nearly sufficient for her. Then she often wakes up as soon as I try to leave the room.

Everyone says your heart doubles when you have a second kid so that there’s room in there for you to love them equally. And that’s true.

But you know what doesn’t double? My time. My attention. My energy. I still feel so bad that for most of Ali’s second year, I was either in the middle of an exhausting pregnancy or caring for an exhausting newborn! It’s hard not to feel crushing guilt when my needy newborn takes me away from Ali so much. And it’s hard not to feel crushing guilt that I can’t just relax and be there full-time for my newborn daughter the way I was when Ali was tiny. I constantly feel like I’m torn in two.

Everything in life is so much easier to deal with when everyone is getting good sleep. And that’s just not happening lately.

Sometimes sleep magically gets better around 3 months, and Ayla turns 3 months on Monday. Otherwise I guess I just gotta buckle in for another rough month. It’s all we can do to just maintain our existence (cooking, cleaning, grooming, Ahmed’s work) right now. The thought of working on my novel feels very far away indeed. At least I can read sometimes while I rock Ayla with my foot. I’m reading No Drama Discipline right now. I highly recommend it.

I’ll be so glad when Ayla learns to sleep a little better and Ali learns to sleep well again and we all get out of survival mode.

There have been good times, too, of course!

My kids are cooler than I’ll ever be

Ali still loves to pet and nuzzle Ayla’s head

Sultan Ali after his royal bath with Grandma, and a nice outdoor family pic

20200422_174532

Watching vacuum videos on Youtube. You can probably gauge the approximate level of my will to live… πŸ˜›

20200501_114039

My current favorite photo of all time. Ali held Ayla’s hand with no prompting from us ❀

May1

 

Ali loves wandering around with an old solar light of Grandma’s that he grabbed out of the ground and ripped the solar panel off. He holds it up by the exposed wires. Sometimes it’s a vacuum, sometimes it’s a leaf blower, and so on.

20200422_105353

Sweet Ayla napping and looking like her Turkish cousin Meryem.

Facebook Commentary

Apr17:

I introduced my husband to the biggest thrill in my home town of Stigler, OK (pop. 2500):

When you’re heading back to town from the new city lake, go straight instead of turning left. Drive as fast as you safely can. There’s a perfectly-shaped large bump / small hill that if you hit it at speed, you get that roller coaster feeling in your stomach.

Yee haw!

(Ali loved it. He immediately said, “Again!?”)

Apr18:

How do you explain pronouns to someone who doesn’t understand them yet?

We often ask Ali, “You want me to carry you?”

So when he wants us to carry him, he asks, “Carry you?”

I want to say, “You mean, ‘Carry me.’ Because you are you, which means you say ‘me.’ I mean, you are me, I mean, to me, you are you, but to you, you are… Gah!”

It’s kind of impossible…

ETA: Also, “Catch you?” means “Chase me!”

Apr22:

Still disputing Ayla’s charge of $1422 for “nursery services” the day she was born. They took her temperature, weighed and measured her, washed her hair, and checked our car seat. I took care of her otherwise.*

I’m offering $200 but they’re insisting I pay all of it, claiming it’s the standard charge.

If I went to a car dealership for an oil change, and they charged me $1000 because “It’s the standard charge, just in case more is needed,” I’d tell them to go to hell, too.

Not sure how it’ll turn out, but this is some BS, y’all. Tired of it.

* They also did some things that are supposed to be fully covered under the ACA — and they’re trying to charge me for those, too! They’re very clearly 100% in the wrong there and won’t even acknowledge that. Argh. If they continue to be this obtuse, I’m going to say to hell with it, send it to collections and good luck.

Apr22:

I enjoy me some Pixar movies, but Ratatouille is just awful on every level.

Apr23:

It’s funny — as curious and science-minded as I’ve always been, I’ve never had any particular interest in machines. Analogue simple machines like levers and inclines and the like, sure, but not noisy complex plastic or metal machines designed by humans. They do their jobs, I do mine, lol. I much prefer the beauty and elegance of, for example, the exquisite “machinery” of living cells, of subatomic particles, of ecosystems.

So I don’t fully grasp on a gut level Ali’s fascination with vacuum cleaners.

Happy for any insights!

Apr23:

Ali is so funny. Every now and then he’ll follow me around saying very politely, “Bye mom tea? Bye mom tea?”

Because, you see, I give him a gummy vitamin every day, and if he gets really desperate for one more gummy (or there’s a sudden need for an emergency bribe), I give him one of my gummy vitamin D drops.

I’ll say, “You mean Vitamin D?”

He’ll nod excitedly. “Yeah? Bye-da-mum Dee?”

I love that kid. Glad he’s so excited about vitamins!

Apr23: Ali let me sing him to sleep for the first time since Ayla was born!

Apr24:

It’s amazing what fun it is to spend an hour with a two-year-old just walking around the neighborhood. All the sounds and sights and smells he notices, all the new words and concepts to teach, random breakthroughs like his first four-word construction (“Do you see lawnmower?”), a super cute “baby dog” sniffing at us from behind a fence, going on a hunt for the lawnmower we hear, and then being surprised by the man on the riding lawnmower coming all the way to the road to say hi. It’s a rich world.

Apr25:

Well, no online Shakespeare watch party for me. One or both kids were screaming through the first half-hour at least. That kinda day. At least we had Indian food. (Which Ali literally did not even take one bite of 😦 )

Ali refused his nap and is still up way past his bed time and I’m nursing Ayla for the eleventy billionth time today. Juuust a little tired.

Apr26:

Was there a God(dess) of sleep in the Greek / Roman pantheon? I know I would have sent a lot of offerings in that direction.

Apr26:

I’m sure I’m not the first, but I have solved the “dunk the last bit of the cookie in the coffee/tea” problem: chopsticks.

Apr27:

A funny thing: When I squat down to be on Ali’s level, and he looks at me and squats down, too.

Apr28:

Back in the land of medical billing perfidy and ineptitude:

They told me to go to a website to find the chargemaster price for “nursery services” that they insisted they wouldn’t reduce (apparently $1422 no matter what they do, even if it’s just wash the baby’s hair and check our car seat).

I did.

A. The price for that was not listed on the documents on that website.

B. The website said: “Hospital chargemasters (or “list prices”) only represent the hospital’s gross charges for a service and do not include discounts negotiated by insurance companies or those provided to qualifying self-pay patients. Please contact (877) 838-0019 if you would like estimated costs for self-pay. In most cases, the patient’s responsibility for these services is much lower than the posted price.”

THIS COMPLETELY CONTRADICTS WHAT THEY SAID ABOUT NOT REDUCING THE CHARGE.

C. The listed phone number went to an audio recording saying it was an unassigned number.

After sending a sternly-worded reply threatening to expose all this BS, they waited a full week and wrote back:

“I apologize for the delay in my response. Your account is still under review. Please allow more time and I will contact you once the review is completed. Let me know if you have questions. Thank you.”

Don’t worry. I’m in no hurry to pay you stuff I don’t owe + an outrageous charge.

Apr29:

Oh, “Baby Yoda” isn’t actually Yoda. That was confusing the heck out of me.

May1:

Dangit! The trash truck always comes when Ali is napping.

(Doesn’t wake him up. He just misses out.)

Oh well. He saw a tree dismembered by a chainsaw today and in 40 minutes he’ll see the planes do their fly-by over our rural hospital. I guess that’s enough machinery fun for one day.

And now we can add chainsaws to Ali’s imaginative play. He was trying to cut small limbs with a stick today making chainsaw noises.

May1:

My brother nominated me to list ten albums that deeply impacted me over the next 10 days. I don’t have that kind of attention span, so here are the first 10 I can think of:

Right or Wrong, George Strait. I had this memorized by the time I was 6.

Pretty Hate Machine, Nine Inch Nails. My cool cousin Andrea introduced me to it, and pretty soon I had it memorized down to the breaths Trent took.

Dookie, Green Day. Kind of defined high school for me.

Discography, Pet Shop Boys. Oh my God. So good.

The Best of Andrew Lloyd Webber. Pretty much defined middle school for me. Seemed like a portal to a more cultured dimension.

Soundtrack to Fantasia. I listened to this going to bed every night for years and moved on to many more classical loves.

Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. And the Fifth. Just kind of the best music on planet Earth. Seeing it live is like nothing else.

It’s All About to Change, Travis Tritt. Good memories with my brother and sister.

Honorable mentions: Zemfira, Zdob si Zdub, Amr Diab, Nancy Ajram, The Cure, Damien Rice, Grateful Dead, Dido, Dire Straits, Leonard Cohen, John Prine, Matchbox 20, Tchaikovsky, Pink Floyd, Samir Joubran Trio, Simon & Garfunkel, Snow Patrol

And finally: Mix tapes, especially by Miz Holly.

May2:

Had big plans to get the kids down and watch The Mandalorian and eat a mug cake. Nope. Both kids decided they needed full-time sleep management all evening long. Sigh.

Going through two sleep regressions at once makes a parent long for a vacation…

Second Birthday, First Easter

I feel like I’m coming out of a long tunnel. Between the miserable pregnancy and the headlong rush of having a newborn plus a toddler for the first time, and then picking up and moving to an entirely new location where everything was thrown off again, I feel like I’ve been in survival mode for a long time. Finally I’m starting to relax and enjoy things, even as the third month of a newborn is definitely its own kind of hard!

Most importantly, Ali and I have connected better lately. Mostly I think just because I’m less zoned out and anxious, more present and playful. I kept thinking I needed to do everything for Ayla. If I’d had the presence of mind to think about it, I could have passed Ayla off during some naps or wakeful periods and spent a lot more time with Ali. Now I have started doing that more. He still favors his dad and still gets more excited about Grandma and Grandpa, but he looks at me with more trust and joy, and he lets me put him to bed at night, and we have fun playing all the random things he thinks of. It is wonderful.

Tonight we went to a remote playground by the city lake that hasn’t been police taped shut and Ali and I rode on the teeter totter while I sang the (instrumental) theme song from Star Wars and he “Bum bum bummed” along with gusto. (Ahmed told Ali that teeter totter in Turkish was tahterevalli. Ali said, “Tuh-Ali?” Haha.) He even requested that I teeter with him when we went back to it.

It is a bit sad that breastfeeding Ali was a kind of perfect communion, no distractions, just him and me. With Ayla, almost every time I feed her I’m thinking, “Where’s Ali? Who’s watching him? What’s he getting into? How is he? Is he jealous? Mad? Sad?”

But I’m starting to let to of that guilt and enjoy Ayla more, which is really nice. In general I’m allowing myself to do one thing at a time instead of shutting down with guilt and sadness and frustration when I need to be in three places at once and it’s simply not possible. One thing at a time. Everyone will survive. It’s OK.

Meanwhile, Ali turned two years old on April 9. I made a cake for him (first time using a stand mixer!), Ina Garten’s double layer chocolate cake with mocha buttercream frosting, chocolate sprinkles, and rainbow sprinkles. He didn’t quite manage to blow the candles out without help, but he definitely helped, so we’ll count it!

Grandma got him an Amazon Fire tablet and we got him nested stacking blocks. He immediately plugged the tablet in and started using it as a vacuum, then he had lots of fun with the box the blocks came in. He kept putting it over his head where he could see out the cellophane window, but we pretended he was invisible when he had it on his head. Then acted all excited every time he “reappeared.” I got up to use the bathroom once, and when I came back he pointed to a spot in front of the couch and ordered me to “Sit down!” so we could continue the game.

I chose the cake recipe a long time ago, planning to make it for Ahmed’s birthday, but I was too tired so I put it off until Ali’s birthday. The cake calls for a cup of brewed coffee; the frosting calls for ground coffee beans. I used decaf ground coffee beans for the frosting, at least. And yet… He did this for about 20 minutes.

He then had his first Easter basket on April 12. My mom put the basket together. We didn’t really see a point in sugaring up our son for the sake of tradition, especially after he ate so much cake on his birthday. But it’s Grandma’s house, so OK! He figured out how to open the plastic eggs and get the jelly beans right away, and he squatted by the basket guarding it for quite some time.

20200412_100458

I got some cute pictures of Ayla on April 8 wearing an outfit that Gloria, a friend from Massachusetts, sent us. I met her during one of my book tours and we’ve been close on Facebook ever since!

There’s also a cute video of Ayla posted here. I wrote, “This is NOT Ayla saying “Ayla.” I mean, just kinda barely. I can’t get a video of her saying it real good. But cute anyways.”

Ayla is definitely more aware and playful and vocal as time goes on. More smiley, too. We love being here for it. She is so sweet.

More scenes from our days:

20200410_194852

Easter3

Life is good. It feels sometimes a bit like marking time while the kids grow. Having a newborn is its own kind of 24-hour exhausting. It’s so hard to get her to sleep before midnight. If she could just settle down around 10pm, get up once to feed, and then sleep until 8am, it’d be perfect! But she wriggles and grunts and snacks and snoozes until at least 11:30, and then I’ll try to move her from the bed to the Pack n Play around midnight, and often as not she wakes up and it starts all over again. Usually at least she falls back asleep easily after her 5am feed, but when she doesn’t, I feel so sad and trapped, knowing how much more painful the coming day is going to be. I have to get up at 8am to help out with Ali, or at least I should. I always feel bad when I sleep in, even if it’s to feed and nap with Ayla.

Two kids is so much, even with four people who can potentially watch them! Just the newborn is a full-time job (times four — it’s not the hardest job in the world, but it’s 24/7), and then Ali can feel like three full-time jobs, and my parents aren’t up for full-time jobs in their retirement (fair enough) and Ahmed is actually working a job full-time. It’s just exhausting. Yes, I know I have it great compared to most. But it’s still exhausting. Dividing my attention, my body, my sleep is hard, having nothing close to a schedule is hard (I’ve tried with Ayla, it went nowhere; I’m giving up until she turns 3 months on May 4), being out of my own home and comfort zone is hard, dealing with my own dynamic with my mother can be draining. I’m so ready for Ayla to grow a little so her sleep can be more predictable and reliable. I’m so ready for Ali to be a bit more independent.

But I’m also trying to cherish these days, full and tiring and fleeting as they are. The weather has been mostly cool and rainy, but some gorgeous days are coming up, and Mom’s going to get a kiddie pool for the deck for Ali. He’s still growing and learning by leaps and bounds every day, so funny and sweet, even if he can definitely be a drama king sometimes. His favorite thing lately is to close his eyes and walk around the house, and we usually catch him, so I guess he feels safe doing it. But of course sometimes he just wanders off and does it and falls or hits his head or something. I guess he’ll learn sooner or later that it’s not a great idea. We can’t seem to convince him with words.

But he’s awesome, and Ayla is so cute and sweet, and we can’t wait to see how they both grow but we’re also appreciating this time we have. A little more sleep would really make a difference, but things are still amazing.

Watching the drama of the coronavirus unfold feels very far away, even though we’ve canceled many plans. It is all very sad, and the future very uncertain, but at the moment we’re living in a pocket of peace without immediate financial stress. My parents are retired, my husband is working from home, and I have two small children. If there was ever a good time for a shut-down for us, this is it. But I really feel for all the people who are having such a hard time of it, mentally, physically, and financially. And I hope some kind of good news is on the horizon before 2022!

I’m just so thankful this virus doesn’t affect children badly. It would be a completely different scenario otherwise…

Facebook posts

Apr7: Weef boder = leaf blower

Mawn moner = lawn mower

Tikter = tractor

Goal cat = golf cart

Just in case Ali escapes curfew. Now you’ll know.

Apr7: CBS is telling me to binge Season One of Star Trek: Picard for free. Believe me, I wanna. But if I get one hour of non-kiddie TV a week, I’m doing good right now.

Apr12: You know you’re a half-Middle-Eastern, half-Okie kid when you have a Baba and a Bubba.

Apr16: Just watching a vacuum cleaner infomercial (my son’s choice) after cleaning my post-pregnancy crater belly button at my son’s insistence. #PandemicFun

(Someone please stop me from buying a Shark UpLight vacuum. There’s no way a $200 vacuum can do all that.)

Fussy McFussypants

You know that schedule thing I talked about a while ago? Yeah, that didn’t last long at all. Baby girl has long since perked up and decided sleeping is for losers. Her naps absolutely suck, except when sometimes, randomly, she’ll sleep for 3 hours during the day. Usually in someone’s lap but not always. There’s no rhyme or reason to anything, except that she tends to be fussy from around 9pm to 11:30 and then finally sleep around midnight and get up usually a couple times in the night. If I burp her after night feeds she can be hard to get back down, but if I don’t she grunts around forever and/or wakes up quickly. It’s pretty exhausting.

We moved down to Stigler (pop. 2500) because our little two bedroom apartment wasn’t big enough for me, my mom, two kids, and a man trying to work from 9-5. (Ahmed is working from home now.) My step-dad is here, too, but he didn’t sign up for full-time child care. He still pitches in, including doing a lot of kitchen cleaning, which frees the rest of us up for other things. (Ahmed and I have been doing a fair amount of cooking while they watch the kids, too. This seriously takes a village.)

Here we are social distancing from my 91-year-old grandma:

My mom spends a huge chunk of weekdays watching Ali, and I know how exhausting that is. I’ve been too tired to think proactively, but I plan to fob more “newborn nap supervision” duties on mom and take on more Ali duties in the coming week. Though even tonight my mom took Her Fussiness on for an hour or something and was thoroughly exhausted by it. It’s thoroughly exhausting wrestling with her and trying to keep her happy. She’s 12 pounds already, and strong yet still floppy enough that you have to support her head.

The only thing that keeps me functional is the fact that she naps after her morning feed (roughly 7:30am) and I can nap then, too, though I feel kind of bad about it. Ahmed has to get up at 8 to take care of Ali before his full day of work. But I guess it’s just all hands on deck for a while. Ahmed can have evenings off and also a full unbroken 8 hours of sleep if he sleeps in another room. (My parents’ house has five bedrooms; my parents are in one, Ali’s in one, Ayla and I are in another, and Ahmed can have his own room when he wants.) I know that pumping and formula are options, but I also know that I hate pumping, formula can be its own (expensive) headache, and things will improve with time. It’s just a rough patch. A two-month-old newborn is a legitimate torture device, haha.

She is lovely, though, and it is fun watching her “wake up” and take in more. She can hold her head up pretty well during tummy time, and sometimes she’ll stick her tongue out if you do it, and she’s smiling more and more (though all in all she’s kind of a serious, thoughtful baby).

We were able to get her 2 month vaccinations and check-up in an almost-empty, aggressively disinfected pediatrician’s office. She turned so beet red when she got the first shot, and then another and another, just losing her breath screaming, and I felt so bad for her. Then I snuggled and breastfed her and she forgot all about it. She did sleep a lot for a couple of days (and had some diarrhea) but is back to her old self. (She was already starting to poop less and is continuing that trend once the diarrhea passed.)

She was almost 12 pounds (69th percentile), 23.1 inches (81st percentile), with a head circumference of 15.3 inches (76th percentile). Nice big tall healthy girl! She’s already outgrowing three month clothes and just about to need size 3 diapers. She does have a sacral dimple, but the doc said it was almost certainly nothing to worry about, and a tiny amount of flatness on the right side of her head (even though she prefers looking to the left), which may be from the womb and requires no treatment. She still has some little white nodules on her gums, including a new one on the top just right of center, but the nurse practitioner we saw said she saw no sign of thrush. (Our usual ped wasn’t available that day.)

Ali continues to improve for the most part, as far as not acting out, but he still gets upset after a while (sometimes immediately) if his dad pays too much attention to Ayla. He’s still sweet with her and loves holding her and petting her.

And we have so much space, both in a huge yard and a big house, and so many new things to mess around with, we’ve watched so little TV I’m actually starting to miss some of my Pixar friends, lol.

Here’s Ayla’s Two Month photo shoot (which Ali of course bombed):

More cuteness:

Facebook commentary:

Mar22: Money is just a thing we made up that has no real intrinsic meaning. That is more and more obvious these days.

If we were a sane society, we could accept a pause (for non-essential things) without “the economy” melting down. Just take it as a big ole Sabbath and enjoy.

Mar23: I was all set to introduce Ali to day care next month. (For his benefit, not mine.) I’m sure he would thrive and enjoy playing with age mates. Alas.

Many of the people out there working to keep society functioning in these dangerous times have two guns to their heads: The gun of COVID-19 on one side and the gun of poverty / homelessness / no access to affordable health care on the other. It is deeply shameful.

Mar23: I want to look all of them in the eye and say, “Thank you for your service.” But no one volunteered to be on the front lines of this, and they are not paid anything close to what their labor is worth. They weren’t paid enough before COVID-19 came around, and now we see in very stark relief how valuable they truly are. How we ALL depend on them.

Please, please, please. Let’s not go “back to normal.” We can do better than that. We must.

Mar23: “If this whole situation isn’t showing you the problems with using money to decide who gets food and housing and medicine, then you are ASLEEP… Money can decide who gets diamonds and hang gliders. Everybody should get food and housing and medicine and education.”

~ Andrew Gabriel Rose

Mar24: Nap management is among the most exhausting avocations I’ve attempted.

Mar24: Ali wanted a “shoogie” (smoothie), so he decided to build himself a blender. (Took me a while to figure out what he was doing!)

Mar24Shoogie

Mar25: It’s a quarantine miracle! Ali has suddenly started eating food! I mean nutritious food, and more than enough to sustain an anemic gnat. He ate tons of chicken and noodles with alfredo sauce yesterday and macaroni and cheese, shrimp, snow peas, and broccoli today. Maybe our long national nightmare of Ali eating only bread and milk and whatever sweets he can wrangle out of us is finally over…

(That’s an exaggeration, but not by much.)

*knocks on all the wood*

ETA: It might have to do with finally getting outside a lot with the warm weather, but who knows?

Mar26: I think I get it. I think the reason right-wingers want everyone to go back to work (and millions to die) is because that is better (in their mind) than people waking up to the fact that money is a fiction while basic human needs are not, humans are more valuable than any economic ideology, and the way American society is organized can change overnight and take care of everyone if we want it to.

Mar28: Silly story: I was roasting vegetables at 450, and they were done, so I turned the oven off but left the vegetables in there to keep them warm.

Half an hour later I went back and it still said 450! I thought, “Holy crap! Everything must be burnt to a crisp!”

Then it changed to 4:51.

Mar28: My best guess is ten more weeks of shelter in place because not enough people will take it quite seriously enough. If people do take it seriously enough, only six more weeks or so.

Then lots of temperature checkpoints, contact tracing, individual quarantines, and the like to tamp out a resurgence. If we’re sensible.

What do you think?

Mar29: I’m almost finished READING A BOOK. Do you know how long it’s been? It’s like a vacation for my soul. I feel a little selfish curling up with it so much over the past couple of days, but it felt good.

(Al Franken’s Giant of the Senate is the book. A good read. Too bad about… ya know… his own friends cynically, foolishly throwing him under the bus shortly after it was published. But that’s another discussion.)

Mar30: So we’re in Stigler and we hid the vacuum from Ali and he hadn’t mentioned the V-word in like 24 hours. He was playing with a little toy gazebo pretending it was a blender, and Bill came up and said, “Of course it’s a blender. Definitely not a vacuum!”

Mom and I both jumped six inches and made “cut it out” motions with our hands. Ali perked up and said, “Vacuum?!”

Bill. Stop. πŸ˜›

Apr1: I’m in a small Oklahoma town (pop. 2500 or so), and while some people are hanging out in packs like nothing’s going on, most people seem to be taking the quarantine order seriously. I’m impressed. It’d be so easy out here to scoff at the scientists and the government (as people around here like to do in general), but something seems to have (largely) gotten through.

Apr1: 10 jobs I have had. One is a lie.

1. Bartender
2. Shelf stocker at a store called Boy Howdy
3. Summer camp counselor in Russia
4. Journalist in the Middle East
5. Research Assistant in China (meteorology)
6. Environmental activist (canvasser)
7. Research Assistant in a physics lab
8. Scuba instructor [This is the lie]
9. Editor / ghostwriter
10. Research Associate at a Defense Department think tank

Apr2: I am so tired. My girl is almost two months and doing that “witching hour” thing where she can’t settle down in any way from like 9pm to midnight, and by the time she does I’m so wired I can’t sleep. (Also, of course, she’ll wake up to eat and maybe just hang out for a while in two or three or four or five hours, and then maybe another time after that — sleep roulette every night!)

I know it’ll get better. Not looking for solutions. Just tired. This is the part where your brains turn to mashed potatoes and your body wonders if it’ll ever get 8 hours of unbroken sleep again.

Apr3: And just like that my littlest baby (my last) is too old for swaddling…

Apr5: Last night I dreamed I was walking around our apartment grounds explaining organic chemistry to someone in terms of those spinning carnival swings.

“Hydrogen and helium have 2-person swings, but in helium there are people in both swings while in hydrogen there’s only one passenger, so it’s always looking for someone out there with an extra passenger. Now carbon, its 2-person swing is full but it has four passengers in its 8-person swing…”

#DorkDreams

Apr5: In preparation for his second birthday (on Thursday), Ali practiced blowing out a candle today. He’s a pro. He learned on dandelions. #ProudMom