I don’t want to forget

the night we stayed up late and taught sallie how to play hide and seek.

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his latest thing

is to pick up a toy, remote, or other prize, look at you, and then let it fall to the floor, saying “drop.”

today sallie and her daddy went out for a walk and came back with a handful of dandelions.

“you were right,” her daddy said. “you said mama would like them.”

birthday boy.

today on his birthday, he is busy cutting his first upper tooth.  we call him “goober hands” because of a recent incident with marshmellow circus peanuts.  he always has goober hands these days.  he loves to fling himself on a pile of pillows and fight his way across them.  he likes to put little cups in big cups and he likes to fit blocks on his christmas train.  he loves to stand by the dishwasher and help me do the dishes.  he is madly in love with cookies and if he sees me eating one he shrieks and clenches his little goober hands, wanting a cookie so badly.  these days he also says “num num!” when he sees something he’d like to eat.  he was sitting on my lap as I fed him pieces of a tilapia I was eating and he pushed away the fork on the way to his mouth and took a big old piece of fish for himself and crammed it in his mouth.  he says dad, and hey, and num num, and mama, and nana.  he likes to point at things and say, “THAT?” I swear last night he climbed up on the baby trampoline and said “Diddit!” he will smack his goober hands on his head if you ask him where is old noggin is.  he cuddles me in his sleep.  he hooks an arm through my elbow when I carry him on my hip.  he loves music.  he loves to wiggle and clap his hands and sing along to songs.  he likes to open and close the record player door.  he loves his sister.  he gives huge toothy kisses to his baby cousin.  he loves to steal glasses off my face.  sometimes I tickle him when he’s nusing and he grins at me around the nipple in his mouth.  I love him so much.  he smeared a birthday cupcake across his chest.  he pillaged candy out of his cousins’ easter baskets.  he looks so cute and fat in overalls.  he has the most kissable cheeks.  he hasn’t walked much since he wiped out while walking across the room and busted his nose on the coffee table.  he had a huge bruise and black eyes and we were afraid it was broken.  he can climb up on the lightning mcqueen toy car and push himself across the room.  he loves to play with his favorite baby doll.  he pets her face and squeezes her feet.  he loves bathtime and will scoot into the bathroom and hang onto the bathtub and beg for one.  he never crawls – he scoots across the floor so fast.  he has the most perfect dimpled fingers and fat baby toes, and he sticks them in my armpits while he’s nursing.  his grandfather calls him chuck.  he loves baby cheetohs but only the cheese ones.  happy birthday baby boy.

cancer.

i was pushing my six month old baby and two year old todder in my mother’s old stroller around her neighborhood.  it was october.  my children lived with my parents that entire month.the air bit through my sleeves and left me with red cheeks and streaming eyes.

you can walk in a circle around that neighborhood.  but to get back to my parent’s house, you have to walk up a massive hill.  i was pushing the stroller up that hill and every muscle hurt.  every part of me hurt.  all i had to do was look at my babies and i would feel that tightness in my throat.  i couldn’t bear to look at them and have them see me cry.  i’d discovered that i could cry without them noticing if they were tucked away in the stroller.

i was crying and pushing the stroller and walking up the hill and reciting “bear hunt,” because the two year old asked for it, it was her favorite book.  i can say it by heart, and every day when i got home from the hospital that’s what i did.  i put the babies in the stroller, and i walked up the hill, and i walked past a dozen blurred mailboxes while chanting those words.  can’t go over it.  can’t go under it.  we’ve got to go through it.

i was using a hand pump to pump milk for the baby in the er when the doctor came in with the xray results and said that there was a mass in my husband’s chest and his lungs were filled with fluid so that he couldn’t take a full breath.  she said, it doesn’t look good.

can’t go over it.

i left the er to pick up my children. i took them to my parent’s house and they lived there for a month, while he was transfered to another hospital and i slept on couches in his rooms.

can’t go under it.

i remember calling my dad on the way over with my children.  what’s going to happen to us? i cried to him.  how are we going to live through this?

you’re going to get through it, he said, but i didn’t believe him.  every morning i woke up in this new nightmare world where my husband had cancer.  nothing was going to be the same ever again.

we’ve got to go through it.

i kept saying those words.

can’t go over it.

i cried in the car every day during those hour and a half commutes from the hospital.

can’t go under it.

i let someone else tuck my children in bed for a month.

i went home for the first time and it was like pompeii.  toys scattered on the floor like they belonged to a family of ghosts.

i pushed that stroller up the hill every day.

five months later and we’re still living in a bear hunt.

can’t go over it.  can’t go under it.  we’ve got to go through it.

 

 

bedtime.

our bedtime routine looks like this these days:

we look at the clock and it’s eight and we say it’s bedtime.  her bookshelf is in the living room now.  she picks books from it and takes them to me, in the yellow chair, or to her father in his new recliner.  she likes “esme the emerald fairy” and “kiss me, i’m perfect” the best these days.  she calls the latter “no clean clothes.”  daddy sings his goodnight song to her: “goodnight, sleep tight, pleasant dreams to you.”

then we go to her room.  we make sure cyndi caterpillar is in her bed, along with all her blankets, her puppy dogs are in reach, and all her stuffed animals are lined up against the wall.  we turn off her light and turn on her fairy lights over her bed for nightime atmosphere.  we read one more book – it has a music box that plays “twinkle twinkle.”  we read that book and she knows all the words, so she reads it with me.    then we turn off the twinkle lights and i sing her lullabies.  “twinkle twinkle,” “rock a bye baby,” “silent night,” “la la loo,” “moon river,” and “the rainbow connection.”  then i turn on her space heater and creep away.

little brother is still wide awake.  sometimes he falls asleep nursing to sleep in my bed, or at my side while watching grownup tv.  but more and more, he falls asleep like this: reading a book with daddy while i sing sallie lullabies, then nursing and rocking to sleep in my arms, then laying down in his crib in his own room.

we started cosleeping when he was six months and suddenly wouldn’t be put down at night anymore.  and i used to despair at it, but now it looks like our cosleeping days are numbered, and i’m sad to see them go.  he likes to press his feet into my tummy and he always sleeps with his arms behind his head.

sometimes he wakes up in the morning before me and pats my cheeks until i wake up.

him & her.

he turned eleven months old a few days ago.  he has grown up so much lately.  his father said, “he doesn’t look like a baby anymore, he looks like a little boy!” and it’s true.  he has so much fluffy golden hair now.  he has two sharp baby teeth on the bottom.

he has the chunkiest little legs.  they do so much.  he uses them to pull himself up and cruise around the house.  he walks up against the wall and takes the long way to get himself anywhere.  he sneaks off and goes into his own room to play by himself for half hours at times.  he has the funniest way of crawling.  he scoots on his hands and butt and drags one leg behind him.  he is so close to walking.  he took his first step a few weeks ago.  my sister was visiting, and we were playing in his room.  he saw a toy in his father’s hand and let go of me and took his first step to his father while saying “heyda!”

“heyda” is his favorite word.  it means “hey dad!” he says it to his father first thing in the morning.  he whispers it quietly to himself when he is absorbed in playing with a toy.  he loves to play with musical instruments.  he loves my pink ukulele.  i watch him scoot into my bedroom and i hear twangs and i know he’s pulled it out from under my bed.

he wants to eat like a big kid.  if he sees you eat a cookie he will cry until he gets one, too.  then he’ll hold it up and wave it around so that you can see and admire his cookie with him.  he likes cheetos and mashed potatoes.  he loves remotes.  he considers them a prize.  you can say, “charlie, are you getting a prize?” and he will cruise over to daddy and beg to be picked up and then he’ll reach over and snatch up his prize.

she is so great.  her hair is almost blonde and it goes all the way to touch her waist.  she talks so much.  i love to hear her chattering in the background.  she has started to tell stories.  i can say “tell me a story” and she will.  she has lately been able to follow directions so well.  it means we can do so many more things together.  she will stop now, if we are outside and i tell her to quit running.  she can do crafts at the kitchen table with me now! we have spent so many hours lately painting with watercolors and playing playdoh.  she took all four cans of playdoh and mixed them until the playdoh turned green.  she calls it her monster.

the other day she said, “mommy i need a new monster for under my bed.  we can go get one at the store.”

yesterday her father and i took her to the aquarium for the first time.  she has lately been loving finding nemo and finding dory.  “i love all my fishes!  i will pet them gently so they won’t get hurt.”  she saw an alligator and she was fascinated, because she loves the crocodile from peter pan.  “he will chomp me!”  she saw otters sleeping and beluga whales swimming.  they look so funny when they swim.  and we saw a sea lion show.  after the show, we stood by the glass tank and the sea lions gave us a private show.  they kept swimming in circles and popping up right by us and jumping out of the water and she laughed and laughed and i swear they knew, and were doing it for her.  and she found dory, in a tank with the most beautiful coral i’ve ever seen.

she is perishingly cute in overalls.

she loves my little pony, aladdin, moana, the wild kratts, nature cat, esme the emerald fairy, her family and friends scrapbook, the story of peter rabbit, her pet cat sugar, hot dogs, apples, bananas, singing the song “apples and bananas,” using her own power drill with her dad to take apart toys, painting, her treasure box of jewels, toy horses, her lightning mcqueen scooter, picking flowers outside, her pink rainboots, choosing her own clothes, long baths, a little black puppy dog toy.  the other day she watched cinderella with a big grin on her face for the mice and when she watched snow white for what i thought was the first time, she knew all the dwarves names.  she knows all the letters of the alphabet.  she loves to turn on her disco ball and dance to “dancing queen” and “mama mia.”  she loves to bounce on her tramoline.  she has a rock collection and loves to find bits of sea glass in my potted plants.  she calls her rocks “my treasures.”  i think her favorite color is the turquoise blue of her moana blanket.  she sleeps with all her blankets.  a pink birdie baby blanket, her moana plush, and a christmas tree blanket.  plus my light blue plush bathrobe and her mermaid sleeping bag.  she likes the tinker bell movies.  she is so amazing and great.