Saturday, April 10, 2010

Not Handy but All Pinky

We are slowly settling in. It's not actually that slow since we've only been here for a week and change, but it feels slow.

Every time I move, I decide it is time for me to discover my inner interior decorator. This is generally a bad idea. I have a lot of friends who have an eye for decorating but I am not one of them. My good friend Jesse knows how to make antique furniture look simple, modern, and hip. My good friend Missy collects all kinds of interesting things and makes collages, writes messages on things, labels strange objects with paper and string, saves all kinds of weird doodads, and when she arranges them they look like art. In Jesse's apartment I feel classy and hope that her style will rub off on me. And I love being in Missy's house because there is so much to look at, read, and admire and I know everything has been placed intentionally and with love. I do not have this kind of talent at all. Antiques in my apartment look like old crap. Interesting collages and doodads on my shelves look like clutter and junk. A few years ago, I learned exactly what to do with my antiques and my doodads (thank you, FlyLady): throw them out.

So my style is minimal at best. I like simple, I like space, I like solid colors and empty countertops. You might call my style Lonely Bachelorette Never Home. It's lame and doesn't translate well to married with kids. Because of my fear of pink plastic Fisher Price crap popping up all over the house, I got Thora a big wooden toybox with a cherry finish and now I just toss everything she accumulates in there, out of sight.

I am also not handy at all. I know how to use power tools and I have always had a drill and toolbox, but I am afraid to use them in my own house for fear of making a mistake. Johnny is considerably handier than I am. He puts together furniture (like the big wooden toybox with the cherry finish), knows how to make minor repairs to plumbing, and even breaks down and tapes together cardboard boxes (whereas I just pile up box upon box and fill the trash room to the point of becoming a super's worst nightmare) But I think my lack of apartment confidence has recently rubbed off on Johnny too. Now we are both terrified to make any permanent changes to this place. Being first-time homeowners makes it doubly scary, because we can't just break our lease and leave if we make lots of holes or paint it an ugly color or make some other entirely fixable change that feels unfixable. I am seriously surprised that Johnny and I had the foresight to paint the bedrooms something other than white. (We even chose a trim color for each bedroom. Thora's room is a pale lavender with purple trim, and our room is a pale grey with a darker grey trim. And they look good!) But we still have a long way to go with unpacking and getting settled because we are scared to make holes in the walls, hang anything, change anything, even lean anything against an unpainted wall for fear of scuffing it. Johnny was so nervous to hang the first shelf in the bathroom that he did it all wrong and now there is a lonely hole, unused and all by itself, nowhere near a beam. But he at least tried. Then I made him hang the row of hooks we use for coats and bags by the door. It fell off with the first bag I put on it. That did it. No more of this handyperson work for either of us. We went out promptly afterward to buy a beam finder and a wall hole-repair kit with spackle and sandpaper, but the beam finder needs a battery and the repair kit needs, well, it needs to be taken out of its plastic wrap of course, so they are both still sitting there unused. Which means there is a lot that we have not unpacked at all and I have to find a handyman or -woman who will come here and not laugh at us while charging us exorbitant amounts of money to hang shelving that a five year old should be able to hang without any help. Do you know anyone?

My excuse is the baby. Everything is a hundred times more complicated with a baby.

Yesterday the cable guy came to install our wireless internet router. I was home alone with an overtired Thora who was just falling asleep in my arms. This guy was on the phone with a bluetooth earpiece the whole entire time. I kept thinking he was talking to me, but he was just shooting the breeze into his little wireless thingy, probably with another cable installer being equally rude and unprofessional. I followed him around to see if he needed anything but he didn't. He emptied the hall closet to find the panel he needed, dumping right on the floor the carseat, the collapsible stroller, all the coats and scarves, chatting the whole time. I put the baby down to rescue my stuff and, amazingly, she stayed asleep. Then he wandered into the bedroom, bringing his conversation with him. I shushed him, pointing at the baby, and in a loud stage whisper he hissed, "Oooh sorry!" and signed off with his pal, but then dropped the modem and the tool he was using to hook up its wire with a huge clatter. She opened her eyes and I felt my blood boil, but then she stretched and went right back to sleep and I managed to let the cable guy leave unharmed. He'll never know how close he came to being brutally murdered by an overprotective and edgy new mom.

This would not have been a terribly big deal except that I was already on edge. This is the week that Thora chose to reveal to us that she is not perfect.

I have been feeling pretty lucky so far. Thora is not much of a crier, thankfully. She is a pretty happy baby, and when she is not happy, she is tolerant. She is amused easily, not overly demanding, will nurse in any position as long as her mouth and my nipple connect, and sleeps through loud music, bumpy rides, subways, food shopping, etc. She lets almost anyone hold her and she smiles such big smiles that you can't help but fall in love with her a thousand times a day. She has bouts of fussiness, like any other baby, but we can usually figure out what's bugging her pretty quickly. We do have to jump through hoops to keep her happy when she's fussing, but as long as Johnny or I am willing to sing, dance, bounce, or just donate a pinky to the cause, she's fine. Other people with babies talk about hours of crying. Thora really has never cried for more than a few minutes at a time.

Three nights ago we got a taste of what it's like to have a very unhappy baby.

8 pm is when she starts fussing. It's amazing how like clockwork she functions, smiling right up until 7:59. Then the pout appears. The chin quivers, the tomato face emerges. My heart breaks into pieces. Again, she is usually soothed easily and she only fusses when we stop for a breath or to change positions. But three nights ago she was not to be consoled. Which is not to say that she cried for hours or even for more than a few minutes at a time, but it wasn't regular crying. It was screaming. Wailing. Hysteria. I've never heard anything like it. We'd hold her, sing to her, bounce with her and she would stop crying for a second or two and we'd breathe a sigh of relief and then we'd move in some way she didn't like and she'd start the same horrible sound all over again. It was a sound that tore us both to bits and made us think irrational thoughts. When she stopped crying for me but not for Johnny, he felt inadequate. When she stopped for him but not for me, I felt inadequate. When she didn't stop for either of us and cried for three whole minutes straight, we both quietly wondered if this whole baby thing was a good idea after all. Maybe we weren't cut out for parenthood. But then she would burp or fart or throw up (all over me, of course) and quiet down. And we'd breathe a sigh of relief. It was just gas, like the pediatrician told us! So it wasn't our fault! Maybe we weren't horrible parents after all.

Incredibly (and annoyingly, because it is on top of the gassy thing), it appears that Thora is also teething. It seems awfully early to me, but my weekly email confirmed that this could in fact be true and certainly the internet knows better than I do. She is very drooly and she needs to have something in her mouth all the time. This is sometimes Sophie the Giraffe's leg or ear, but mostly it is Johnny's or my pinky. She loves it when I run my pinky along her top and bottom gums. I mentioned in a previous blog that I have jinxed myself by proclaiming my distaste for pacifiers. When she cried like that the other night, I decided I was beyond the point of hating them anymore and that if only she would shut up for a second I would publicly apologize, but she flat our refuses to take one now. We've tried several different brands with the same result: she spits it right out. So we spend hours and hours holding the baby, taking turns offering her a pinky to chew on, resigned now to getting nothing done at all other than making the baby happy.

When it was 88 degrees outside the other day and easily 100 in here because we have an entire wall of floor to ceiling windows that face south and thus get direct daylight all day long, we took another trip to the Home Depot and picked out blinds. We arranged for someone to come measure, and after that he will come back to install them. It seemed silly to me to pay to have someone come here to measure a bunch of straight lines. We have a measuring tape, paper, a pencil. We should be able to do it. And truthfully, we could probably find the same blinds online for less if we installed them ourselves. But I think this would be a very bad idea. With our lack of handyman skills and with Johnny or I being minus a pinky at almost all times, there is no way to do this well. I can just see the half-assed job in my mind. No, no. We can't even drill a hole without turning into nervous wrecks, and everything is a hundred times more complicated with a baby. So having the windows professionally measured and the blinds professionally installed it would be money well spent because they'd be done right and we can focus on being human pacifiers, which to Thora is clearly our only purpose in life. And then a few weeks from now we will be able to yank the new blinds down with our remaining free fingers when she's being fussy and no one will be able to see in and laugh at the unfinished bathroom, the lonely hole in the wall and the wall patch kit still sitting in its plastic wrap.

At least the baby will be happy.


  1. I wanna see pictures of your new place when you get around to it ;)

    Teething? Are you sure? I have never heard of a baby getting teeth this early. Around 6 months is common, but I have heard of a baby that got one tooth at 4 months. That baby had that one tooth for about 3 months and then the others came.

    It might be just her need for sucking on things, like your pinky. I never used pacifiers either, my girls did not like them at all, so instead they used me as a sucking device. If I wasn't there with my boob on standby all the time, they were crying. When they had the boob they were fine, even if they were not really nursing, just sucking away on it. Drove me insane really :-/

    Good luck, you are doing great!

  2. Glad that you discovered spackle. Holes are fixable. Paint can be painted over. Hanging things on drywall without a stud behind it can be accomplished with heavy duty plastic plugs or metal "butterflies". As long as you are not trying to hang something that weighs 500lbs. Those will hold very well.

    Teething is quite possible at Thora's age. My Brenda started that kind of crying at 5 weeks and cried every night for nearly 3 years. So many people told me to let her cry, but you know you can't do that. When she cut her last tooth at 30 months, the crying stopped. Immediately. So now, I wish I had understood that the crying was just a way of expressing the discomfort. There will always be discomfort that mom and dad can't relieve. It is ok for them to cry, knowing that you are present and soothing, even if you can't fix it.

  3. My sister in law met a baby who was BORN WITH 2 TEETH. Wouldn't that freak you out? It's like a movie. My opinion, being the mom of one for all of 23.75 months, is she's probably just drooly and mouthy. Anna still sucks on wipes, wet washcloths, wet toothbrushes etc etc. She also screamed hopelessly in our faces every night for 4 weeks at 2 months old, starting precisely at 6pm when Steve would walk in from work. It was blood-curdling. We thought there HAD to be something wrong. But it passed. Now she only screams like that in Walmart ; )


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