Thursday, February 25, 2010

Sleeping through the night

This blog post isn't about my baby sleeping through the night. He's 2 now, so that finally happened some months ago. This is about ME sleeping through the night.

Yep, you got that right. Me, his mother.

After Jesse started to figure out how to climb up on things, especially how to climb over things like the baby gate, that's when we his parents were put on full alert. No longer could we relax knowing a baby gate kept him from getting into the kitchen, because now he was climbing over that gate and getting into the kitchen!

But that's not the worst part.

The worst part is that he eventually figured out how to climb up on the desk chair by the front door...and unlatch the safety lock we have at the top of the door. This was there to prevent him from unlocking the front door (as he learned how to do) and running outside, quite possibly into the busy street that we live on.

As one might imagine, this caused some anxiety for me. It wasn't enough that I watched him like a hawk, even took him into the bathroom with me when I had to use the bathroom to avoid something terrible from happening to him. On a very deep level, I was terrified.

Terrified because what if he managed to get out through the door while we're sleeping?

In December, I was heartbroken and in tears after reading a news article of a 2-year-old boy dying from exposure in the freezing cold and snow after slipping out of his Minnesota grandparents' house on Christmas Eve, while everybody was sleeping. As saddened as I was by this news, I was also just as scared for Jesse, that he might end up having the same fate.

Meanwhile, I wasn't sleeping. Every night, I'd wake up every 2 or 3 hours abnd go check on the baby, just to make sure he was still asleep in his crib and okay. Apparently, I was so stressed out over this, I couldn't sleep through the whole night. On a subconscious level, I was worried about the baby wandering about the house and getting out through the front door.

I kept telling my husband that we had to do something about this. We went through a series of ideas to prevent Jesse from slipping through the front door while we slept (and I even considered sleeping on a hideaway bed in front of the front door!) and I wrote about all of that in my book on deaf parenting. We eventually found a solution, which my editor actually suggested (thank you, Liz!): A double-sided deadbolt lock. Sounded like a good idea and the next thing was to keep reminding hubby to pick one up.

Well, first my husband tried using a safety pin on the security lock that the baby figured out how to unlatch. But I guess he got tired of me waking him up so early in the morning to take the pin out, since I couldn't and I had to get the children out the door. He eventually got the deadbolt lock. When they were installed, on both front and back doors, and he showed me how to use it, I had to laugh at first. I suddenly saw myself as that mother in the movie, The Others, locking and unlocking a door she needed to go through as she went through the house.

But after I saw just how it worked in keeping the baby from unlocking the doors himself, I wasn't laughing anymore. It was like the clouds clearing from the sky and a chorus of angels singing, "Hallelujah!"

They worked. The deadbolt locks did the trick. No more worries of the baby getting out the doors while we slept or when no one noticed, because now those doors had locks on them he could NOT unlock! HOORAY!!

And for the first time in a long time, I finally got a good night's sleep. I hope there will be many more...if this insomnia I am just recently dealing with ever goes away. I guess sleep and I just don't mix.

But at least the baby won't be able to slip out the front door while we sleep anymore. wow, that felt so great to say. I want to say it again! The baby will NOT be able to slip out the front door while we are sleeping anymore.

As long as we keep that door locked. Always locked.

Monday, February 22, 2010


One of the things I promised myself this year is that I would get back to eating a healthy diet. I want to amend that promise: I want to eat healthy and exercise. I used to be an exercise fanatic, running, doing aerobics, playing assorted sports. But then that fell to the bottom of my list of priorities. Then I hurt my back. Then I hurt my leg. And the more parts of my body that fell into disrepair, the more the excuses NOT to exercise piled up. My body is just in too bad of a shape for me to exercise.

Meanwhile, I longed for the days of physical fitness. My heart yearned to run again. How I so wanted to ride a bike again. How I wanted to learn how to swim. The best I was able to do was go for walks, but even now I can't do that anymore. That's the last straw!

This is the year of change for me. This is the year I step up and STOP wishing and START doing!

So that means I'm going to stop wishing I could be physically active again. I am going to TRY to be physically active again.

I am seeing a doctor today because of my hip problem. I don't know WHAT in the world happened to my hip, but it's just one more item on the list of grievances I have. This hip thing has been so bad that moving around was nearly impossible. Some days, I was limping, and not just because of my bad foot! It was so painful for me to move, I nearly passed out from the pain just from bending over to tie my shoes.

And after the hip problem is fixed, next item on the list is my foot. Then my back. Slowly but surely, everything will get checked out. And I can talk to a doctor about the best exercises for me to do.

For now, I do stretching whenever possible. The stretching does wonders for my back and hip. Until those are better and stronger, I know I have to take it slow.

And last night, as if to give a good kick into my desires to be more physically active and in better shape, something happened that sticks with me. My daughter poked at my stomach and asked, "Are you pregnant?" It seemed like an innocent question. After all, she'd just seen me refuse alcohol with my dinner. Maybe she was thinking something was up. It doesn't help that I LOOK pregnant. Seriously, my stomach sticks out and I look like I'm carrying a baby in there.

But, no. I'm not pregnant. Just overweight.

By year's end, I hope to change that. I hope to be physically fit and not look like I'm eating for two.

NOTE: I feel compelled to point out that the pain in my hip is usually not this bad every single day but the occasional flare-ups are pretty bad. Still, my hip is not in the best condition, even without the flare-up. My doctor appointment was moved to later in the week.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Remembering Toby

This week, I received some devastating news. My sister's dog, Toby, passed away. He was 15 years old, with his 16th birthday coming up on March 1st. When I texted my nephew about this to let him know I offered my condolences, he told me about how it happened. I didn't want to know at first, because I thought it would be something terrible, but I know my nephew needed to talk about this.

On his very last day, my sister went to check on Toby. He took one last look at her then he collapsed. He was gone.

It's so heartbreaking. The fact that he waited to see her one last time, though, was very moving. I know dogs are one of the most loyal animals in the whole world, and this example of hanging in there just to see the face of the one you love so much before letting go is very moving.

My nephew also told me that his father, who is usually not a heavily emotional person, was in tears over the whole thing. That is just one more kind of magic a dog can have in someone's life. Dogs can melt a heart of stone and change someone in ways they never thought possible.

My daughter was saddened to hear this news and she offered a tearful prayer for Toby that night.

I told my nephew that I could still remember when Toby was a puppy. Well, I said "pup" because I ran out of room to type. But when he was a puppy, I remember how he'd jump up on my legs and lick my hands. He was so friendly. His friendliness lasted his whole lifetime. This dog has never bitten anyone. He was always so kind and friendly to others. This is something I will always remember about him. He had such a kind and loving heart, even for a dog.

And I smile when I remember how, sometimes, I called him “Tobert.”

Toby left behind some offspring. On of them, Carly, is with my nephew where he lives. I am glad they will have something of Toby left behind.

As for me, his brother lives in my home. When I first heard of Toby's passing, I got to the point where I was in tears and picking up my own dog and saying, "Oh, Chewie, I'm so sorry your brother is gone." Of course, my dog, Chewbacca, probably didn't understand what I was talking about, but he still let me cry and hold him. I got a sense from him that he was offering sympathy for my own grief. If only he knew.

But I wouldn't be surprised if he does know, in some way. Maybe Toby will visit him in spirit. You know? Come along and say, "There you are. Where the heck have you been all this time, bro?" After another dog in that litter, Baby Bop, died, I had a dream she was visiting with Chewbacca and they were running around, so happy and playing. I wouldn't be surprised if Toby's spirit paid a visit to his brother, as well.

I know that, soon, it will be his time to go, too.

At first, I thought Chewbacca was the last dog from that litter to still be alive. Then after I contacted my sister about this and she mentioned Beavis, I remembered that a few months ago, my aunt contacted me to let me know my cousin, Joe, still had one of the other dogs, who he named Beavis. So those two are the only ones left.

For now, Toby is joining his other siblings at the Rainbow Bridge. He is reunited with his brothers and sisters who he has not seen for so long, and quite possibly, his mother, as well. He is finally free of any pain that had bothered him, even though he leaves behind so many, many humans, and two dogs, who will miss him dearly and always remember him.

Rest in peace, Toby. We all loved you so much and will never forget you.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Meeting W.S. Merwin

Jennifer and I had plans to go to the library today. As we sat at the dinner table last night, with hubby reading the day's Register-Guard and I reading this week's Eugene Weekly, I was delighted to find out that a very special guest was going to be at the library today. I started reading the article about W.S. Merwin and his thoughts on creating poems, thinking that it was there for his newest book, but I learned he was being written up in the EW because he was giving a reading at the library! On the same day we planned to go there! Very cool!

As I told Jennifer about this very famous poet who we could meet at the library (he has won two Pulitzers, after all), I started to get excited about this taking place. How neat to meet a poet whose work I have long admired! I have met other well-published poets before, but this particular poet is one I have read several times and was anxious about meeting.

Today, however, things didn't start out so good. I woke up with excruciating pain in my hip. It hurt to move around and bend over and the pain eventually moved down into my foot. The pain was so bad, I couldn't even stand on both feet. We ended up missing church because it just hurt too much for me to move around. I had planned to call the library to see if they had an ASL interpreter or a notetaker available to assist me during the reading, just to let me know if he was saying anything else besides reading a poem, but I was not able to find the chance to do that. When the time came for me to leave, I was ready to call it off because I didn't have an interpreter or notetaker. How on earth could I "attend" a reading without one? What if he wanted to say something to me when I met him, and I couldn't understand him?? I so wanted the chance to talk with him.

Well, maybe I was ready to give up this opportunity, but Jennifer and my hubby weren't. They knew how much it meant to me to go and even to meet him. Jennifer said, "You always tell me that if I really want to do something, then just do it." I kept thinking, this is different. I don't have a notetaker! Still, they encouraged me to go. I even started to feel depressed just thinking I would miss out on this, because I knew an opportunity like this might not come up again, so it was not very hard for them to convince me to go even if going meant I'd have communication problems.

When we got to the library, the parking lot was PACKED. There was nowhere to park at all. I got nervous because I wasn't sure I'd have change to park at a parking meter but I ended up digging a quarter and a dime out of my wallet, which gave us enough time to walk to a liquor store and get change for a dollar. That settled, we walked to the library and followed the signs advertising the reading. When we got to the second floor, I started to wonder how I might find where it was.

That wasn't very difficult. All I had to do was find the crowd. And what a crowd it was! One area of the second floor was filled with people sitting and standing as they listened. We moved to an area where I could at least see him read (hey, if I can't hear him, I'd like to at least see him!) then Jen sat down to draw in her notebook as I stood there and watched. Eventually, she stopped drawing and started listening, too. He was too far away for me to lipread so I just observed the reading and the audience. It looked like he paused between reading poems from his book and I noticed some people in the crowd smiling, laughing and nodding their heads. I really wondered what he was saying. I watched people listening to him read. Some of them sat with their eyes closed, losing themselves in his words, and some just sat with bowed heads as they listened. I wondered why they didn't look at the poet as he read his poems, though many people did look at him.

As Mr. Merwin read his poems, I noticed how he rarely looked up. He seemed to have a sort of liveliness to his mood as he read the poems, moving his hand about in the air and sometimes even leaning forward. Later, as we moved closer, I noticed he was wearing glasses as he read (he wasn't wearing them in the EW picture). I also noticed how he rarely paused to drink water and I wondered if his throat was dry. He read for over an hour, selecting poems from what must be his newest book as well as poems he drew from a file folder and poems he had in what appeared to be a bound manuscript. I thought, that's a great idea! Include new and forthcoming material at a reading. I'll have to remember that.

After the reading, everyone gave him a standing ovation. People clapped for a long time and I smiled, thankful that everybody was there to show him what a great poet he is and how much everyone loves his work. He deserved that standing ovation!

Because we were running out of time with the parking meter, Jennifer and I hurried to where we could meet him. He mostly talked with Jennifer and he seemed so captivated by what she had to say. I thought it was so cute how he was so taken with her and really focused his attention on her. I also got to talk with him, shaking his hand and telling him my name, telling him that it was good to meet him and that I am a big fan of his work. Afterward, Jennifer got his autograph in her notebook (since we didn't get to grab one of his books to sign for us) and we were both beaming as we left the library. We thought that was an incredible experience. We just met W.S. Merwin! That was awesome and so very, very worth showing up for.

As we went to get lunch, I asked Jennifer what she talked about with him. She said she told him I'm a huge fan of his poetry, that I'm a poet, too, and she mentioned my poetry book coming out soon. She told him the title of the book and he said he "might be interested" in reading it. As she told me all this, I felt a little frustrated. Sure I was happy she plugged my book, but I wanted her to be able to say something about herself, too. So I asked, "Did you tell him anything else?"

She thought for a minute then she said, "I told him about my poem."

I smiled, a wave of relief flooding through me. "That's good. What else?"

"I told him I write poetry, too, and he said keep it up."

Yay! I'm glad he told her that! Let's hope those words have a greater lasting impression on my young poet than the experience of meeting him does.