Tuesday, March 27, 2007

One of THOSE days

*CAUTION: Profanity used at will in this post and I can’t be bothered to spell/grammar check either.

Oh God, this day is a doozy. I’m saying “is” because it’s only 3:49 pm and there’s still plenty of time for it to get worse.

Today started off as most do. Up at 5:45 am to the sounds of Keenan burbling away in his crib. The only difference here is that I took the wood frames out from under my side of the futon yesterday and as a result I had the most amazing frickin’ sleep since Keenan was born. So I had some cobwebs in the brain and was a little slow to get to the boy so he got a bit whingey. No biggie, nothing I haven’t dealt with before. Breastfed Keenan, changed his bum, got him dressed for the day and turned him loose on his toys in the living room. Got coffee going and breakfast on the go. Then, hmmmm wonder if Sean needs a shower today? Better check. Opened door to bedroom, let Keenan loose on his dad. “Do you need to shower today Sean?” I shower every second day on opposing days to Keenan’s bath day. Don’t know why, it just worked out that way. Sean showers whenever but if we have to shower on the same morning then we need to step things up a notch, well no actually then he needs to get his ass out of bed earlier so we can both shower before he leaves for work. Sean gets out of bed, has a shower, I’m in the kitchen continuing to get breakfast ready while Keenan is biting me, pulling on my pants, pulling things off shelves, holding the fridge door closed when I need it open and then holding it open when I need it closed. You know, typical baby getting into everything kind of scenario. So I’m trying to juggle all this stuff and Sean walks by and says “ok, what’s the funniest line from last night?” I have no idea Sean. I don’t store that kind of info well anymore. What was the funniest line from the Soprano’s (or was it CSI)? That’s when the badness started. “You need to try to remember that kind of stuff or you’re just perpetuating the problem”. Right, I’m gonna have a shower. Which I did. I get out to a very quiet apartment. Sean fed Keenan who fell asleep in his high chair before finishing his breakfast and is now fast asleep in his crib 20 minutes before we have to leave to take Sean to work. Sean and I talk about the spat and how I spend the better part of my day trying to remember things I’ve forgotten and how that comment made me feel. Part of the problem is that Sean had an office party last night and I had Keenan by myself all day. It’s totally fine if he’s in a genki mood but if he’s not which was the case it turns into an exhausting endeavor. So, I was feeling like yesterday was just bleeding into today with any break and it was making me a little crazy. Anyways, we patch things up and then wake up the boy and get Sean out the door.

Keenan whinges all the way to Sean’s office and all the way home. It’s a good kind of whinge though. His I’m gonna fall asleep if I even just see a picture of a boobie kind of whinge. We get upstairs, Keenan gets two boobs and is not venturing off to lala land during the feeding. Shit. No prob, I’ll just set him down in the crib on his side and see if he’ll go off to sleep. Five minutes of crying later I go in and bring him out to play for a little while. “A little while” turns into a few hours but then I finally get him off to sleep at around noon. 20 minutes later someone’s pulling on doorknob and ringing the doorbell. Back home this would freak the shit out of me but it’s commomplace here for the delivery guy or gas guy to open the door if it’s unlocked and call your name into your apartment. I wasn’t too impressed the first time it happened, stopped keeping my purse in the hallway and never walk around in my underpants and bra in the daytime unless it’s 32 degrees Celcius or higher. And now I always keep the door locked too. Then Keenan starts to cry. Oh boy. If it’s that guy trying to sell me first aid kits again I’m gonna give reason to use one. Wasn’t him. It was Sean. “I didn’t have any lunch money so I rode home”. Great ok, well you just woke up Keenan after I tried all morning to get him down for his morning nap. He apologizes, makes lunch, hangs out with us for a few minutes and then has to get going again. I’m in the middle of eating my lunch, Sean walks out the door and Keenan starts crying. He’s been doing that lately when we leave a room and he can’t see us. So, I pick him up and take him into the hallway for a bye-bye hug, kiss and a bit of waving. That seems to do the job now he wants my lunch. He eats a bit of it and I get up to make him some too. More crying. I pick him up and take him in the kitchen with me. Lunch is pretty easy to make with one hand. Take rice from rice cooker and put in bowl. Open package of sesame seeds a pour some on rice. Set package down but somehow manage to drop it and when trying to prevent package from falling on the floor I dump the contents all over the kitchen floor. Likely millions of seeds are all over the floor, my socks and in the pockets of my hoodie. This was definitely an “aw few fuck sakes” moment. Fuckity fuck, ok Keenan you need to play in your crib for a few minutes while I get this cleaned up. “Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa” Geez you’d think you were getting a diaper change or something.
Not crying over spilled sesame seeds
Originally uploaded by kuckibaboo.

I’m tracking seeds everywhere but manage to get them swept up. Finish making Keenan’s lunch. Feed him and try to get him to bed. He’s dead tired. I try another 5 minutes of crying in the crib. Nope. I bring him out to play. He pulls the tea pot off a shelf he couldn’t reach yesterday, gets into the garbage, pulls on the heater cord, nearly pulls a kitchen chair over onto himself, falls on his face while crawling because he’s so tired, smacks his nose, more crying, reaches for a plant he’s not yet been interested in, only wants to play with the computer mouse, no luck there baby, more crying, pulls on heater cord a million more times. In the middle of all this I did actually have to change his diaper and he screamed so loud I thought my eardrums would pop.

When Keenan gets tired but won’t sleep he looses all interest in his toys. It’s like he forgets how to play with them and just goes trawling for trouble. Then he gets wound up and needs to be brought back down to earth. So I brought him over to his toy area, put everything in the toy bin and then took one thing out at a time and we played with each thing until it was boring. Plus we ate stray sesame seeds off the floor! Yummy! After an hour of plain ole quiet fun the boy starting yawning every now and then. So of to his room we went and he finally went down for his morning nap at 3:30 pm. If I could I’d give myself a raise. Maybe I’ll shave my legs twice this week.

Shit, it’s 4:46 and he’s crying. Here we go again.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

First haircut looms in near future

We woke up to Keenan's first dreadlock the other day. He still has quite a few newborn hairs that just won't fall out and they are really long and tend to get all fuzzy and form this halo around his head. Now they're getting really brittle and dry and they get tangled up while he sleeps. So it looks like we'll need to give the babe a hair cut soon. It's kind of sad cause his long wispy bits are terribly cute. But it won't be so cute when he gets his sticky fingers caught in the knots and accidentally pulls out his hair!

I'm not really looking forward to the haircutting event. It's gonna be quite a task to get him to sit still. There will be tears and they'll likely be from all three of us. I think the fastest and safest way to do it will be to use the clippers. That'll give us a better chance of a somewhat uniform cut as well. We'll be sure to take lots of before, during and after photo's and we'll keep the clippings as well. Wish us luck!

Already starting to miss them

Bret enjoys his surprise cake
Originally uploaded by locket479.
There are many, many things that we are going to miss about leaving this country and Obihiro, the lovely little city we've called home for the past two and half years. Of all the things we'll miss, the great friends we've made will be on the top of the list. Some have already returned home, Alixe leaves this weekend and this summer a good load of us gaijin will shed many tears in airports and train stations and then go our seperate ways.

Waving good-bye to Bret and Sara will be truly heartbreaking. They are both the most unlikely & likely folks to be married and we love them so much for that and in fact for all the things they do and say. Everything's an adventure when we hang out with you two and we're really gonna miss the dinners, headturning escapades, cultural blunders and bizarre yet refreshing use of the Japanese language!

I snagged this photo from Sara's Flickr page. Bret's not too fond of sweets but Sara really wanted him to have a special treat so she made him this ridiculously brilliant birthday cake. In an effort to keep it a surprise she assembled the burgers and fries into the form of a 2 layer cake in her car, in the parking lot of their apartment building, in the dark! God, I wish I could have been there to see her order 22 cheeseburgers and 1 order of small fries at the local MacDonald's! I can't even imagine what that would smell like in the car! Then to sit there in the dark and put it all together as other folks from the building walked by. Just a glimpse into a typical day in the lives of Bret & Sara! Keep on keepin' on just as you are. You rock!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Pooh story #2 ~ The 'ole “grab & rub”

These days the only time you seem to be happy about getting your diaper changed is when you’re yanking on your penis or testicles. Yup, you’ve discovered your private parts my boy! And you’ll introduce them to anyone or anything you can get your hands on like your rattles, poor innocent & sweet Shinada or any clean clothes that are within arms reach. A typical diaper change sounds something like this…

“Woo hoo! That baby is stinky”
“Ok, I’ll change ‘im”
Baby gets set down in changing area
Pants off
Diaper undone
“Waaaaaaaaaaaa wuh wuh wuh waaaa a a a aaaaa”
“Oh crap, it’s a big, messy one!”
“Wait! No, not Shinada, we just washed him yesterday.”
“Heeeeeeeee he hum heeeeeeeeeeee hehh aahhhhhhh!”
“Oh geez, oh shit, honey? I need reinforcement! This is a 4 hand diaper!"
“Burble beeeeee beeeeeep beeeee buvvvvvvvvv!”

Oh and you like to get up mid diaper change too. So, we’re faced with crap on our hands, crap on your hands (which leads to crap everywhere) and then you decide “I’m done with this laying on my back business, let’s get mobile!” Necessity has forced us to become as quick and agile as calf ropers when it comes to changing your bottom. Please God let this be one of those stages you tire of quickly!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

10 months

For Eiko...cute pose!
Originally uploaded by kuckibaboo.
Well littlest, here we are at 10 months. On your 10-month birthday you woke up in a Japanese style hotel room at the Fukuhara hotel in Shikaribetsuko. All 3 of us were sleeping on the floor on futons and it's the first time in a while we’ve had a peaceful night together in the same bed. The 3 of us slept in the same bed for the first 3 months after we brought you home from the hospital. It was really convenient and cozy and we could listen to your milky breath and quietly inspect your sweet newness as you slept. You were so small and immobile. 10 months later I lay on the futon next to you barely able to sleep for an hour at a time. I’m not sure why I couldn’t sleep but I really loved laying there looking at you in the soft light coming in thru the rice paper shoji screens. On the other side of the window the snow was falling and the room was filled with that peaceful stillness that accompanies earthbound flakes. In that stillness I could hear your breathing and see your lips going thru the sucking motions even though I was a couple of feet away from you. After so many months of having so little sleep I now had the energy again to lay there awake and just watch and listen to you. It was the best night I’ve had in a long time.

It’s so hard to believe we started this journey only 10 months ago, it feels like you’ve always been here. And I’m so overjoyed that you are. You sleep thru the night now, can play on your own and can scoot around so fast on your little hands and knees that you can almost beat your running parents to any corner of the apartment. You stood up unassisted in your crib for the first time last Sunday (March 1st) so we are literally on the verge of having a tottering baby in our midst. Your sleeping pattern has become quite regular; you go to bed between 7 and 8 pm and wake up at 5:30 am. You play by yourself until 6 and then I get out of bed and our day starts. You’re usually fall down tired right after breakfast so you go down for a nap by 10 and are conked out for 2 to 4 hours. You really should nap again in the afternoon but you resist with all your might. If the weather cooperates we head out for a walk after lunch and you succumb to sleep for about an hour.

Some new teeth are trying to make their way onto the scene and it looks like your next one will be an eyetooth on the top right. You had your last DPT vaccine this month and you just need to get your Hep B booster and a polio shot in May. You are such a little tough guy when you get a needle. You only cry for a couple of seconds right after the needle goes in and then you’re all smiles again. Thank you for taking it so easy on your mother! We also had Maruyama sensei (your pediatrician) have a look at the umbilical hernia (aka Keenan’s spigot) you developed when we were back in Canada over Christmas. He said it was a pretty common thing and will likely heal itself before your first birthday. If it doesn’t then it may need to be surgically repaired. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. When we were at the hospital we visited with Eriko Sato-san the midwife who delivered you. She was so pleased to see how big you’ve grown and she was very impressed by your Shreddie eating dexterity. She is a very busy lady but she took a few minutes out of her day to hold you and crawl around on the floor with you. We promised to stop by for another visit before we leave for Canada. We took you to Ito Yokado shopping center last weekend, they have a great baby station with every manner of baby measuring devices and a nursing room. We weighed you and you are now up to 8.5 kg (almost 19 lbs) and are 70 cm long. Your dad is so anxious for you to hit the 9 kg mark so we can turn your car seat around. Your seat is rear facing right now and he totally hates not being able to see and communicate with you!

There are many things that you do on a daily basis to make us laugh. Most notable is your pillow diving, growling, open mouthed “kissing”, rolling nude on our blanket and fits of excitement. We have a couple of big Japanese style floor pillows on the living room floor and you love to dive face down into them with your mouth open. This is usually accompanied by your signature growling which is then followed by lots of giggling. We’re not sure about this open mouthed kissing business as it sometimes leads to biting but either way you target one of us at a time and then dive into us with your mouth open. You often get tired around the time I'm in the kitchen making dinner so you sit at my feet and dive at my slippers. When you’re the opposite of tired you have a tendency to have these short fits of excitement. You usually do it when you grab hold of something that has been eluding you like a rolling ball. Once you get the item in your hand you pull into your face and well, you get really excited about it! I’ll have to get it on video cause words just don’t do it justice. We purchased a blanket that we thought would be great for you to play on in the living room. Turns out it’s also very cozy on our bed and it’s never made it to the living room. This blanket is really, really soft and fluffy and you love snuggling up with your dad in it every morning. Last week we stripped you down to your nudity and let you loose on the blanket. Total hilarity! You crawled and rolled around in the softness just squealing with delight! It’s almost become a nightly ritual!

There are of course a few things you do that make us crazy. You are obsessed with our living room heater. I can’t count how many times a day I say “KEENAN! DON’T TOUCH!” How can a country, which is home to Asimo, the Prius and the Wii, still not have central heating?! God, I can’t wait until it’s warm enough to put the heaters away. Then of course you still hate having your snowsuit or any shirt or sweater put on you. Recently you’ve starting screaming when we change your diaper. We’re to the point where we’re looking in to going diaper free in an effort to get you out of the friggin’ things as soon as possible. You still whinge a bit but mostly only when you eat and if you’re really cranky. Regardless how much you whinge or how load you scream when you’re getting put into your snowsuit (which is for your own good I might add!) it just takes one little smile or a flash of those bright blue eyes to bring you back up to maximum sweetness again!

Monday, March 05, 2007

Love that you wear

Sweater made with love by Oma
Originally uploaded by kuckibaboo.
We had one day of visitation at the funeral home before the funeral. We had decided we wanted to fill the room with photos of mom’s life, flowers and things she had made. Tyler made an amazing photomontage of mom’s life on his computer that would play constantly on the large screen TV. Jose found Tyler and Nick’s baby blankets that mom made and a few weeks before she had given me a whole bag of baby things that mom had knit for her boys. Mom was very pleased that these things were being passed on to us and that Keenan would get to wear them as well. We were sure she’d be pleased to be surrounded by these things at her final send off.

The first morning we were in Ottawa when we went home for Christmas mom gave Keenan his first sweater that she had made especially for him. It’s kind of a light sky blue with blue buttons. I mentioned in a previous post that we woke up to mom playing with Keenan on the dining room table. Shortly after we got out of bed mom told me to go into her room and get the gift box off the shelf in her bookcase. In the box was the sweater, 2 pairs of her famous baby booties whose pattern has been in our family for a few generations at least, a couple of toques and a pair of mittens she bought. While Keenan sat square in the middle of the table we dressed him in his new sweater. It looked great and was just big enough that he would have room to grow and would be able to wear it until the chill left Hokkaido’s spring air. Mom was so pleased with herself and beamed with pride.

I had asked mom to make Keenan this sweater sometime late in the summer of last year. All I requested was that it be blue and a cardigan style as Keenan hates having things pulled over his big square head! Mom picked the color and pattern and started it when it became cool enough to sit with knitting in her lap. I knew from the start that asking mom to do this was a big deal. She hadn’t done much knitting or crocheting in recent years as her patience, eyesight and fingers were all conspiring against her. But like any best mom in the world she would do just about anything her kids, grandkids or great grandkids asked. She called me shortly before we were to leave to tell me the sweater was done. She had also started on a matching pair of pants but she was going to save them until we were there so she could measure his long legs and make sure she made the pants big enough to last as long as the sweater.

The pants are what I found the morning we were collecting things for the visitation. We stopped by mom’s to pick up a few things I had in storage in mom’s basement and some photo’s as well. It was the first time I had been in my mom’s place since she had died. It was so shocking to think that just a week and a half earlier we had woken up in this very house and hastily got ready for our early morning flight back to Japan. I can still see Mom holding and playing with Keenan as we got ready and she was very much alive. This time around we were once again short on time and basically just stormed the place and tried to get in and out as quickly as possible. I picked up moms knitting bag on the way out thinking there would be some things in there we could put up at the funeral home. Keenan’s half finished little blue pants were in there. Everything slowed down at that point. Seeing those pants on the knitting needles hit me with such a sense of finality. I hadn’t been to the funeral home yet, we had sped thru mom’s place and I barely had time to look at anything and I was still in a state of disbelief that mom was gone. Such a small thing made me still and delivered me tears. I thought about my mom and how she was so particular about making sure everything was taken care of or completed. She rarely started anything she knew she couldn’t finish. The pants were just another indicator of how suddenly she had left us.

We took the knitting bag with us to funeral home and set up her handiwork on a chair. She would have been proud to see those things there. Lots of people commented on how lovely they were and I think we all felt a sense of pride for our mother’s work.

It’s safe to say that my mom has knit almost all her life. She could remember knitting or crocheting as far back as her memory could take her. She learned to knit in grade school, before World War II. Like most girls of that time she attended a Catholic school that was run by nuns. At the beginning of grade one they were given a “dolly” as mom would call it, two knitting needles and a crochet hook. The nuns showed the girls how to knit and then they would all sit for a couple of hours each day and knit all the while chanting the directions in Dutch. I know for a fact that my mom remembered that chant up until at least the week before she died as she recited it for me. I’m sorry I didn’t write it down. By the time the girls finished grade 2 they could fully dress their dolly with either knitted or crocheted clothes. Take your pick. Hats, dresses, sweaters, pants, socks, underwear, booties, mittens, blankets, you name it. This has amazed me to no end for years. What an unbelievable skill to have from such a young age. Seems to be a hell of a lot more useful than cutting & pasting. Though considering the time my mother went to school, this would have simply been practical. “Once you know how to dress a dolly you can dress a baby,” she would tell me. Mom didn’t knit too much during her “teenage” years mostly because there was a war going on but also because she loved to sew. Not only could she knit or crochet any garment known to humankind she could also sew them. She made many of our clothes when we were kids. She made skirts for me out of my sister’s jeans way before it was “hip” to do so. Jose and I were talking about mom’s sewing skills when I was back home for the funeral and she revealed to me that she can remember when she got her first pair of store bought jeans, I believe they were bright yellow. Not many 46-year-old women can lay claim to that memory! Once babies came back in to mom’s life so did knitting and crocheting. She made things for her babies in the 50’s and 60’s, Charlie’s boys in the 70’s, Jose’s boys in the 80’s, Keenan in 2006 and any other babies that came along in between that needed something special. Her knitted baby booties are legendary and Keenan has grown out of his first pair already. Thankfully he has two more pairs to grow into. They match his blue sweater and the unfinished pants too.

I personally never really considered myself the knitting type. But for some reason I bought a book about knitting at Chapters when we were home for Christmas. It is filled with all sorts of “modern” patterns as my mom pointed out, but most importantly it has easy instructions for getting started. My mom would try to teach me how to knit when I was a kid and I would always have to get her to cast on or start the first few rows for me as I could never pick it up from her showing me. I'm sure at that point she probably felt cutting and pasting was a huge waste of her daughters time too! I’m a read and learn kind of person (some would label me a “manual reader” and you know who you are!) and this book had awesome casting on instructions and it was cheap so I bought it. I brought the book to mom’s place to show her and I proclaimed with a big grin on my face that I wanted her to show me how to knit. I was really excited and her excitement level was well, waaaaay below mine. She gave me that cool “Why would you buy a book to teach you how to knit and then ask me to show you?” She glanced through the book and basically told to me “just keep trying, you’ll figure it out, you’ll see”. This wasn’t exactly turning into the warm fuzzy mother/daughter event I had hoped it would. Did I keep the receipt? Frig. Then mom looks at me and says “I’ll make sure Jose knows that you’re supposed to get all my knitting needles and crochet hooks, don’t worry you can do it, just keep trying”. Well shit. Now I’m committed. Committed, pleased and deep inside girlishly excited.

Little did I know that within a month my mom would pass away, we would return to Canada for her funeral and then back in Japan again I’d be opening that book in the wee hours of the morning while sitting up with a 9 month old both of us trying to recover from jet lag. Those first few nights home in Obihiro were pretty confusing for Keenan. He’d get up at 2 am and think it was time to play. So I’d get up, bring some toys to him in his crib and I’d sit in the rocking chair watching him play and babble himself to sleepiness. At one point I figured “I may as well get that knitting book out and see if I can’t figure out how to get started”. Sometime between the Canada trips I had bought a ball of light blue baby wool and a pair of size 8 bamboo knitting needles so I had all I needed. That’s how it started for me. Sitting up between 2 and 5 am watching over my babbling babe trying to turn a ball of yarn and a slipknot into something called the “first row” with two bamboo sticks. I may be a manual reader but I couldn’t make the aforementioned ingredients look anything like what was being shown in the pictures. “What the hell is wrong with me?”, I thought. My own mother was knitting a full set of clothing for her dolly by the time she was 7 and here I am a grown woman with my own child and I still can’t loop a friggin piece of yarn around a stick! Good grief! So I have to admit that I looked at the LAST picture in the instructions, what I was supposed to end up with, put the book away and struck out on my own. After many failed attempts and downright shitty looking loopy tension issues I, Nancy, 36 years old, mother of 1 figured out how to cast on! Then I knit the first row and the second one and it looked just like my knitting when I was a kid but it was beautiful to me. I have both my mom and believe or not my dad to thank for this. My dad could figure out how to make anything from looking at the finished product and my mom…well it may be premature to say but I think she may have passed on some of her knitting DNA to me.

So there I sat knitting away, stopping every now and then to pull the lot out and start again. After getting over the initial rush and amusement of having figured the whole thing out I realized that I was actually enjoying myself. I could knit and think at the same time! How novel! It was a wonderful combination of being productive, relaxing, creative and escapist all rolled into the same ball of yarn. I started to think of what I was going to make given my limited talents. Naturally I envisioned cozy, chunky sweaters and toasty full sized blankets. But, I figured a scarf for Keenan would be best (even though he has no neck and I wasn’t sure I could finish it before the birds began sitting on their nests). Then I started thinking about my mom. All the years she sat amongst us quietly watching us and knitting away much like I was doing with Keenan and I was struck by a something I’ve never felt before. The feeling that I am making something long lasting for someone I love. It’s different than cooking. Not only was I going to make a scarf to keep Keenan warm but, it would be a physical and permanent manifestation of my love for him. I thought of how my mom looked so happy when the sweater she made fit so well and looked so good on him. And I remembered back over the years all the jeans, mittens, blankets, hats, sweaters, booties, skirts and even wedding dresses she created. She did it because she loved what she was doing and she loved us. I am so lucky to have all those great baby things that mom made for Jose’s boys. Even though mom only knit a few things for Keenan she indirectly made him all those other things as well. Her love will to continue warm whoever gets to wear her creations.

Now what of the half finished blue pants my mom started? I guess in hindsight I’m sad that I left them behind in Canada. At that point the last thing I could think about was having enough time, energy, emotional fortitude and brain cells to take on the task of completing them. Now I’m pretty sure I could do it but it’s too late. If there’s enough wool left for me to make them to fit him next year then I might consider pulling them out and making them bigger for next fall. If not, maybe I’ll pull them out and knit them into something else. Or maybe I’ll just leave them as they are, on the needles, forever a work in progress so I can pick them up once in a while and imagine my mom sitting there in her chair with a smile on her face peacefully knitting her love into warmth for us stitch by stitch.