Friday, September 30, 2011

Avery at Sixteen Months

Of course Avery is now 17 months old (!!).  This video is a compilation of clips and pictures from the last month.  Enjoy!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Now inside then inside now

Avery's down for her nap.  She was tired and fell asleep fast.  It's so sweet to nurse her to sleep, but especially when she is really tired because she just cuddles in all soft and warm.  Adam took Avery to the neighborhood pool to go swimming this morning and she got all tuckered out.  She likes to go swimming, but lately it seems she is more aware and therefore more nervous in the water.  She prefers to be in the shallow water where she can stand.

(Adam and I are watching some Texas Aggie football while she's sleeping.  BTHO OSU!)

While they were gone, I watched the season premiere of Grey's Anatomy - Oh my gosh you guys, I was crying into my fizzy water by the end at the stuff with the baby.  I can't see or hear anything having to do with babies without getting completely affected by it since Avery was born. 

After I had cancer was the first time I really wanted to become a mother.  I mean, I always knew I wanted kids, but, you know, later.  I was too busy with life then, too wrapped up in making a mark in the world.  Then I got that call: it's cancer.  And suddenly my world collapsed to the size of a pin.  Suddenly I wanted to hug my children.  To know my parents better.  To accept more love instead of keeping it conveniently at arm's reach.  I realized I was missing out on what's really important in life.  Who knows where I would be if I hadn't been diagnosed with cancer.  Probably still single, still in Washington, working on a promising career in public service.  Some days I miss that hypothetical alternate reality.  But mostly I feel so greatful for my wake-up call.  No doubt I am much better off in my real life.

Watching Grey's Anatomy, the last line in the show really got me.  I'll have to paraphrase, but it was something like: You think falling in love is the only thing in the world that can fill your heart to bursting or crush it completely.  And then you become a mother.  So true.  I thought I knew the heights of tender affection or depths of heartbroken despair, but the limits of those emotions got stretched beyond imagination once I became a mother.

Motherhood is such a bipolar condition.  There's so much joy, so much love and happiness.  But beneath it all is an undercurrent of heartbreak.  Or rather, potential heartbreak.  Or perhaps just the fear of it.  And wistfulness too.  You sense the fragility of life - the fleetingness of it.  The impermanence.  Nothing is guaranteed.  You want to hold on: tighter, tighter.  But even as you grasp, laughing and smiling and drunk with love, it's already gone.  Time moves away from you into the past, into memory.  These babies.  They change and become children and then they have children, and I suppose it's all well and right and good.  But.  But.  And we want it, wish for it even; relishing every milestone and step towards independence.  Relieved when they finally sleep on their own all night, or feed themselves, or stop nursing.  But.  It's also heartbreaking.

My dad is in the process of converting old pictures and movies into digital format.  While I was home I got to see not only movies of myself as an infant, but also movies of him as a kid.  It's strange to watch videos of yourself as a baby.  You know it's you, but you have no memory of or connection to the images.  My dad holds two-month-old me on his lap in his bathrobe.  He says, "You're in the movies now, Michelle!"  My grandmother lovingly bathes me in the sink (I fit in the sink!  Me!  So tiny in the sink!), and then I subsequently peed on her lap.  My mom lays on the bed next to me and coos, "Ah-goo!" (just like she did with Avery) and I gaze at her and kick my feet gleefully.  Then I watch my grandmother, not yet twenty(!), so beautiful and mid-century glamorous, playing with my dad and his brother as toddlers.  My strong, heroic father, squealing with laughter and so bursting with energy and happiness, he runs a spontaneous lap around the yard - he can hardly hold still for the video.

Two moments in time, separated by thirty... fifty years, briefly experienced simultaneously.  Now, watching then.  I had just hugged my grandmother on her 75th birthday, and there were a couple of times over the weekend when I was not quite sure she knew exactly who I was.  Certainly, when she saw Avery on our second day there, it was clear she did not remember seeing her the day before.  My glamorous and dignified grandmother, who we are slowly losing to Alzheimer's.  Watching that video of her with her young babies was so heartbreakingly poignant.  Surely that was just a moment ago?  And now here I am, mothering her great-granddaughter, and watching videos of her mothering my father.  It makes me wonder: if we knew, would we still...? 

Life is fragile.  And fleeting.  You want to hold on.  Tighter, tighter.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Avery winking

I was going to add this in my last post, but it was taking too long to upload, so here it is.

Untitled from Michelle Seiler on Vimeo.


Friends, we have been busy.  As the state of neglect on this blog attests!  I had to hack my way through ankle-high weeds to get in here.  We have been on the road for the past three weeks - two days in Las Vegas, then five days in Dallas, two days back in Vegas, then four days in Colorado Springs and now back in Vegas.  We head home to Hawaii next week.  Phew.  We went to Dallas to celebrate my grandmother's 75th birthday and my dad's whole side of the family (minus a few) were there.  Avery got to meet her two second-cousins who are about her age.  We then tagged along with my folks to Colorado where they were attending Dad's Air Force Academy reunion, and we were visiting my aunt and cousins and scoping the area out.  We are hoping (wishing, dreaming, planning) to move there after our tour in Hawaii is over in a year and a half.

I feel like I've been gone so long I don't know where to start, so I think I'll just throw some random stuff out there and you can consider yourselves updated!  Though I can't promise things will pick up on the regular again here, since Avery is down to one nap now and thus I get a mere one hour break from her in each 24 these days.  Oh, who am I kidding?  I know it's just me and Mom reading.  I make myself keep writing here so I will remember this in 30 years when Avery has her babies and says to me, "What was it like with ME, mom??" and I don't have to give her the response I keep getting from my own mother: "Oh, sweetie, I don't remember; that was THIRTY years ago!!!"

**I guess I will start with sleep since it's been the major theme on this blog these last 16 months.  Avery is now down to one nap and I patently refuse to walk her to sleep any more (barring extreme circumstances).  It's bittersweet.  Sweet because she goes to sleep more readily now, while nursing, and I am no longer spending several HOURS a day walking her down (oh the frustraaaation).  Bitter because I now get only an hour break from her during the day.  Yes, you read that right: she is only napping for one hour a day (sometimes less).  The nights are about the same, still sleeping with me, still nursing every couple-few hours, though thankfully with fewer hours-long wakeful periods in the night.  Sadly, I was just yesterday reminded of the dreaded 18 month sleep regression (YE GODS have we not suffered enough), so that is on our horizon now that the elf is nearly 17 months old.

**Avery is right on the verge of the "language explosion".  The past few weeks, she has begun "saying" lots of words, and by saying I mean she tries to copy the sounds she hears.  She still doesn't actually SAY any words except for hi, mama, dada and yaya clearly.  The words she knows and has a sound for that more or less approximates the actual word are (I'm sure I'm forgetting a few):

poppy (pah)
alright (yah-eiah)
yes (yeh)
no (nah)
no, no, no, no! (nah nah nah nah nah!)
bubbles (buh- boh)
banana (buh or sometimes nah)
woof (uh!)
meow (myum)
moo (baah (?) )
chicken (bok-bok)
owl (ooh, ooh)
up up (buh-buh-buh)
down (daow)
water (wa-wa)
night night (ni-ni)
moon (mooh)

Plus, she will imitate any sounds she hears.  Like the other day she was just whining and whining and I finally said, "AVERY!  Oh my GOSH!" (in exasperation) and she immediately started going, "GOH! GOH!"  over and over.  I've been really working on not letting any shits or damns slip out.

** I have lots of ideas for things I want to write posts about!  In addition to co-sleeping and vaccinations, I also want to tell you why I stopped using antiperspirant and toothpaste.  Look at me!  I'm turning into a regular old hippie over here.  The 2001 me probably would have scoffed and rolled her eyes at the 2011 me.  I don't do any hippie things because of a moral imperative.  I do them because they make sense.  For me.  You can do whatever you want, if it makes sense to you.  I'm not on a crusade, internet, I'm just telling you where I'm coming from.

** Avery is currently 16 months GOING ON SIXTEEN.  For pete's sake, this child has a mind of her own and she will HAVE IT KNOWN.  I suppose this is totally normal, age-related behavior.  And it probably only gets worse (if you have older children and you are cackling with schadenfreude glee as you read this, for the love of god, don't run to the comments and tell me how much worse it gets!).  Avery is throwing temper tantrums in earnest now, and I find myself torn between not wanting to pick fights with her when I want to leave Macy's and she doesn't, and not wanting to be ruled by a BABY.  And that stuff about distraction?  Ha!  Haaaaaaa!  You obviously haven't met my child, Avery One-Track-Mind.  If you try to deter her from her mission, she... well, she simply will not be deterred.  She WILL find a way to toddle back into the bathroom and climb up on the counter to get to the small, breakable objects, the second you are not looking!

** But, holy cow, she also does the CUUUUTEST things these days.  For example, my mom has this statue of Buddha in her room with some pretty stones in its hands that Avery loves.  The other day we were sitting outside and she got a rock from the yard and toddled back into the house with it.  When we went to see where she went, she had gone to Mom's room to give the rock to the Buddha!  Yesterday she was sitting next to Buddha giving him kisses.  She plays games like hide and seek.  She points things out.  She winks!  She constantly amazes me with how much she "gets" and how much she is learning every day.  She's becoming a real PERSON and it's blowing my mind.

Well, she's up from her nap now, so I guess I'll hit the publish button.  I think I pretty much covered the highlights.  Hope all of you are happy and well!