Some good friends are getting married this November and are planning a beach honeymoon in the Virgin Islands. Talking about this with them recently, I got a little misty-eyed ragingly jealous.

Our honeymoon, while lovely, was emphatically un-tropical: we went to Banff in early October and did a lot of hiking and gazing at the golden aspens. We just aren't (I thought, then) beach honeymoon sort of people. But, while most days I wouldn't trade either of our daughters for one, seven, or a thousand tropical vacations, did that conversation ever make me feel a pang of Now why in the hell didn't we do that while we could? I made a wistful comment or two and then spent the rest of the conversation drooling openly over my friends' travel guidebook.

Last week we mentioned to our soon-to-be-wed friends our Christmas plans: the four of us are going to Hawaii with my folks and my brother. This is a luxury, to be sure (bankrolled by my very generous parents), and something to look forward to—and then remember—for months and months. But I did feel just a slight a massive disconnect when our friends' reply to the news of our vacation plans was See! You can still go on tropical vacations with kids!

It's true: you can go just about anywhere you want with kids of any number and age. And in December we will have a great time splashing in the waves with Ingrid and watching Iris's chunky little suncreen-slathered body accumulate sand like a cinnamon-sugar doughnut. What our friend clearly, deeply did not get, though (and what I surely didn't get, myself, before our first vacation as parents) was that vacation with little ones, while refreshing and interesting in its own way, is just not restful. It is a change of scene, a chance to see and learn and teach new things, an opportunity to know each other differently. It isn't, however, a break.

We are on vacation this week and next. Not in the tropics, but visiting my parents in the misty-moisty pacific northwest. We all flew here together, then A left the next day for a five-day conference for work. There's been no break this week: jetlagged Ingrid up at 5:15 every day; Iris sleeping ok but nursing like a fiend; my saintly parents lending as many hands as they can but unable as I am to predict or calm the many tantrums each day. We've rushed through a zoo in the pouring rain with the nap clock ticking, attended a kickass library story hour, and thrown a truckload of rocks into Puget Sound, but for the most part, the past several days have felt suspiciously like everyday life, except with less sleep and better coffee.

A will be back tomorrow, and then we all (A, me, the kids, my brother, my folks, their cat) will drive to the coast, to a place I spent many a summer week as a kid. A great place, a place that I'm extra excited to go with Ingrid so grown up and aware and into exploring, because I can't wait to show it to her. We'll still be nursing and changing diapers and peeling apples and deciphering tantrums and orchestrating bedtimes and naptimes and meals, but I hope there'll be a little of the sublime in there too, as well as perhaps, maybe, a tiny bit more sleep.

Oh, and I don't think I'll have any internet access there at all. So leave me some uplifiting vacation comments to read when I get back.



On Sunday, in the process of organizing backup files, A inadvertently deleted all of the movie files from our computer.

We don't go through life with video cameras glued to our eyeballs, but since Ingrid was born we had taken several hundred snippets of video with our digital camera. Spacy newborn Ingrid waving her arms and legs in the hospital bassinet. Sweaty infant Ingrid lifting her head higher and higher during the “tummy times” of her first summer. The first riveting cooing conversations between baby Ingrid and A. Barely walking toddler Ingrid stomping her feet, bossing the dog around. Spacy newborn Iris in the hospital bassinet, big sister Ingrid poking her hand lightly and exclaiming, I touched the baby!All gone.

It seems this sort of loss is endemic to the computer using world. Of course, if you were Edmund Leach, you still lost—twice—your giant trunk full of notes from your years of anthropological field work in Burma. But that was exceptional. And who, today, hasn’t experienced something like this? Digital loss: It is instantaneous. It is often irreversible. And, more often than not, it is your own damn stupid fault.

Of course, they are gone anyway, all those progressively more grown up versions of our daughters, along with the millions of Ingrids and Irises we lose every day in the ordinary mill of non-digital loss known as time and change. That’s really what made us both cry on Sunday: losing the movies is just a smaller version of what’s happening all the time anyway.

Our friend Chris, a professional photographer who once lost two years of work in a hard drive meltdown, is philosophical about this: When you take a photo, you’re not capturing something, you’re making something new. You think you have something when you have a photo, but you don’t.

He’s right. And also, let’s look at the big picture: we still have our kids.

But damn. It was a sad couple of days.

Is it mean that I waited until the end to tell you that we bought some fancy data recovery software and were able to retrieve almost all of the files? Some are in fragments, and none have dates or titles, but most are still viewable.

Philosophy and magical software aside, though, do this now: if there’s anything on your computer that would make you cry if you lost it, make a backup. And if you ever get it into your head to mess with the backup, make a backup of the backup just in case.


Bermuda Triangle

The deadly three corners defining my week's boundaries so far: (1) Two year old with extremely drippy, snotty cold, (2) Husband with extra-schmoozeriffic work obligations, such that he has to be there early this week rather than stay home long enough for me to get a shower in peace in the a.m. (3) Computer out of commission due to massive and very sad loss of data and efforts to recover it (more on that later).

But! Today Iris put up with the Baby Bjorn for the first time ever—a relief for me as well as for Ingrid, who appreciates my ability to meet her many needs two-armed. Also, Iris slept for 3.5 hours in a row last night. This left me so well rested that I was able to spend the hour between 2 and 3 a.m. pondering all the bisphenol-A I must have ingested during each of my pregnancies. I think some of that chunk of sleep helped my patience level today, though.

So, could be worse. Must relinquish laptop for recovery efforts. More later.


Comparative Anatomy

Last night after a visit with Ingrid's pal Amelie:

Ingrid: Amelie has hair!
Me: Yep, she's got hair just like you do.
Ingrid: Does she have teef?
Me Sure, she has teeth. Just like you.
Ingrid: Does she have a tongue?
Me: Uh huh. She has a tongue. She has pretty much all the same parts you have.
Ingrid: Does she have a piano?



Better and Better

Yesterday Ingrid napped for almost three hours, and then she woke up and went the entire afternoon and evening without a single tantrum. I can’t remember the last time that happened. In celebration, I drank half a glass of wine with dinner.*

Right as it was getting light this morning, Iris finished nursing, opened her eyes, looked right up at me, and gave me a real, full-face smile for the first time. We dozed off again and when I woke up it seemed like a great, hazy dream, that smile.

A and Ingrid were up early, and when I came downstairs carrying the baby, Ingrid right away said Want to touch Iris, so I knelt down, and Ingrid stroked her head and cooed, Just look at her blue, blue hair. It keeps getting better and better.

I have no idea what she meant, but it was a perfect thing to say today.

A did a lot of baby holding, and Ingrid helped me scoop oats and sesame seeds and sunflower seeds and mix them up to make granola, and then we baked it and the house smelled sweet and nutty all day. It’s so cool out, I’m wearing socks and long pants for the first time in months. We were at home all morning, which is rare—we get so stir crazy that we try to get out, if only to the playground, almost always. But today it just felt nice to be at home for hours, the four of us, puttering around.

During Ingrid’s nap, I lay on the couch with Iris lying on my chest in a deep sleep. I wanted to sleep, but instead I thought about how sometimes I say to myself, in an off-hand way, We have two daughters, and then I do a big mental double take and say it again: two daughters, and how that feels—heavy, but in a good way, like a tree with more fruit on it than it was quite ready for, bending just a little, holding all that sweetness.

In the afternoon we drove to a barbecue—a thing for A’s work—which was fine, but the best part happened on the way there: We saw a horse, and Ingrid said I wish I have a horse like that at home. Wif red socks. (Here is my equine ignorance: The horse was wearing what looked like ankle braces or maybe leg warmers. Red ones.) I turned to A and said, You realize she just asked us for a horse for the first time, right?

And when we got home? Ingrid’s first why. Why you get that new Baby Bjorn, Mama? And then she asked it, like six times, unsatisfied with each of my carefully constructed answers.

Also, I’ve hesitated to mention this because I know that many of you also have children, and I don’t want anyone to be jealous, but Iris is the prettiest baby in the world. She is so pretty. And don’t even get me started on the cuteness of her belly button.

Going with the theory that Ingrid needs more sleep to keep from turning back into Sullen Whiny Tantrum Girl—and going on faith that this won’t cause her to wake up at 5 a.m.—we put her to bed at 7 tonight, a full hour earlier than usual. We’ll see what tomorrow brings, but, boy, was today quietly, sleepily sweet.

*This is in contrast to the entire bottle of wine that I’ve needed after some of the worse days.**

**Just kidding.***

***Sort of.


The Third Thing

Ingrid's babysitter, D, has been coming over two mornings per week since Iris was born, even though I'm on leave from work and will be for a few more months. If I'm home while D's here, I end up overhearing how the two of them interact, which is an unexpected treat. D is one of Ingrid's favorite people in the world (possibly even more favorite than Grammy Sue, but don't tell), and she has an easy, natural way with little people.

Listening to them the other day, I realized D does some things that I used to do, but had somehow forgotten about. I told A about them the other night: I thought of three different things, I said: Try to phrase things positively instead of just saying no every single time. And keep things light and playful—there's no need to get all cross and drag everyone into conflict. And...

And then my mind went blank. One second I was talking away, sure I had three little points to make, and the next second I could barely remember what word I had said last, let alone recall that there was some sort of narrative thread to what I'd been saying. This was a terribly familiar sensation, yet one I'd forgotten about during the months of adequate sleep I've had in the past year.

34 days, it turns out, is how long it takes to start to lose it if you're sleeping no more than two and a half hours at a time.

The third thing was to avoid asking her any questions that you don't want to hear answered with NO. It only took me a couple of minutes to remember it again.



This afternoon I made it through our big, chaotic grocery store with both kids and a pretty long list of necessities.

I think we may survive after all.

(About an hour after we got home, I looked in the fridge for the gallon of skim milk I bought. It wasn't there. Or in the car. I think I must have left it in the shopping cart in the parking lot. But still. If a gallon of milk is the only casualty, I think we're doing pretty well.)


Pollyanna Throws Down The Gauntlet

At the moment:

I’m glad one of the pumpkins we’ve been growing looks like it will make it ‘til Halloween.

I’m glad the needs of a newborn and a 2-year-old are so different from one another (nurse-a-thon and upper body workout vs. intense mental-emotional strategy); each feels like a break from the other.

I’m glad my brown corduroy skirt—the largest of my non-maternity clothes—fits again.

I’m glad my maternity clothes don’t all have “maternity clothes” stamped across the front, because I’m still pretty much wearing them all the time.

I’m glad that our parent/toddler classes are starting up again.

I’m glad that I followed my gut and scolded the boy who intentionally stepped on Ingrid’s hand at the playground the other day, even though the kid’s dad was standing right there and did nothing but weakly chide, Say you’re sorry...

I’m glad that I’ve met so many other moms in the past year, I’m starting to run into people I know almost every time we go to the park.

I’m glad Ingrid is sleeping. I’m glad I was able to stay so calm as she whined and whined and whined her way through the morning.

I’m glad I seem to have lost my Dr. Sears Baby Book.

I’m glad fall is coming.

How about you?