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4 kittens

Going dark, reliably

Posted on 2015.02.14 at 16:13
Rascal wasn't taking his bottles very well, at daycare. They actually called me at work.

The next day was the same. I was not very concerned.

When I picked him up, the teacher suggested that I start pumping at home, and try bottle-feeding him at home.  I was stunned and full of fury, because pumping is awful and I like actually nursing him and...I mean. "You're pumping already at work, right?" she pressed on, "So you could do it at home, too?"

Rascal was screaming his head off. What I actually said, eventually, was "It's hard to think with him screaming..." and then I scrammed outta there.

The next morning they called me, again. "By mistake we poured one of his bottles of breast milk down the sink," they said. My eyes bugged out of my head, but since we were on the phone they may not have noticed. I took a deep breath and asked, "Could you call me when he finishes his last bottle of milk, so that I know roughly when to come get him?" They said sure.

(All that precious milk. Down the fucking tubes.)

They called at 3, so I left work at 4. When I got to daycare, the assistant said, "I was just about to give him these last 2 ounces of milk!" Yet a third time my anger flared. "I thought he finished his last bottle at 3?" I asked. "No, he started his last bottle at 3. He drank half of it."

I would have stayed at work another hour longer, and I sent steaming mad texts saying so, to Jammies.

Rascal and I had an extra hour. We ended up cuddling in the twilight, at home by ourselves.  I really can't complain about a sequence of events that culminates that way. The whole week was like that: frustration that turns into something rather nice, like cuddling at sunset, while browsing ebay. (I have an ebay problem, lately.)

The next morning, they were super apologetic about having poured out the milk. I can't stay angry at someone who feels bad - it's like miracle powder. You feel bad? We're squarsies. Please don't feel bad anymore. Then I can file the incident away and be done with it.


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(I swear, one of my luckiest traits is a short memory for things that upset me. Sometimes I go back and read this journal, and little slights and wrongs just seem a hundred miles away.)


None of our kids are three years old! Isn't that nice? Babies and toddlers are nice, four and five year olds are nice, but three year olds are the WORST. We are in the eye of the hurricane, where nobody is three years old. It's lovely!

When people ask, rhetorically, how we find having four children, my pre-packaged answer is, "We've reached the level of our incompetence!" But actually, it feels a bit organized and reasonable. I think this is because none of our children are currently three years old.


Monday morning, post-workout, the minivan was totally dead. The dome lights wouldn't turn on, the key remote wouldn't work. I called Jammies, and he reminded me about the jump-box.

I got the jump-box, tried to hook it up, and failed. I called Jammies again. After dropping Hawaii off at school, he came to meet me.

We were both frazzled and upset. Several Geeblets were wailing. We had to decide which one of us would deliver and pick up of all the kids, and which of us would drive an unreliable vehicle, for the day and maybe the next and who knows. He gave the minivan a jump - somehow it worked from his truck - and I drove the unreliable vehicle to work. The electrical system flickered as I was driving, and when I parked, it went completely dark again.

That afternoon, I called campus cops for a jump. The very nice cop warned me against driving twenty miles to the Honda dealership in Heebieville, and recommended that I just take it somewhere local in SadTown. "Is there any shop that would also rent me a loaner car?" I asked her. She laughed. "No way!" I couldn't see how it was workable if I couldn't rent a car.  (Insert something sanctimonious about how shitty it is that transportation failure is a catastrophic disaster if you're poor, for exactly reasons like inability to afford a rental car. I mean, the catastrophe is real, but my impulse to hector about it says more about me being a smug liberal than anything else.)

I drove back to Heebieville, trying to keep the air conditioning off, the music off, and generally tax the minivan as little as possible. I was sweating and mentally re-scheduling the afternoon according to where I might break down, and how long the tow truck might take.

I got to the Honda dealership. I know all the arguments against using a dealership. But the previous owners used this same dealership, and Jammies has a strong preference towards systems that keep everything organized and reliable.  I turned off the minivan and it went dark, reliably.

This is the moment that is the point of the whole story: I was sweaty and panicky and relieved to be there. The very nice woman remembered me, personally, greeted me, reassured me. She sat me down on some leather chairs, in the air conditioning, and invited me to drink their coffee from a fancy Keurig machine and use their wi-fi.  She told me not to worry about a rental car, until they had a chance to look at the minivan. (I'd been worrying about transferring and installing baby and kid car seats, and that sort of thing.)

So I sank into a leather chair, and got out my computer, and made myself some coffee, and that moment was itself so beautiful.  So very pampered and soothed, when moments earlier I'd been sweaty and harried. I realized that is why you go to the Honda dealership, so that you might be pampered and soothed right when you're at your wits end.

(It turned out that a terminal was loose, on the negative side of the battery. That's why the jump box hadn't worked for me that morning - it hadn't gotten a proper connection with its smaller clamps. It cost us $30, total, and took all of 45 minutes.)

Let's have more smiles:

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Funny things our friends' kids do:
1. The Ms have identical twin three year olds. Sometimes one of the twins will approach one of the parents and say, "Which one are you again?"

That amuses me so much, that the twins think this is a reasonable question that everybody asks everybody.

2. Our Christian-anarchist friends are kind of hard to describe, or maybe that sums them up. Their kids are lately very into facepaint, which is expensive. So they told the kids to switch to markers.  Now the kids regularly draw all over their face and bodies - and I mean they are fully colored in, with marker.

It's hilarious but also one of those confronting things where you have to double-check whether or not you should permit such behavior in your own children. So I double-checked, and nope, markers are only to be used on paper in this house. Sorry, Geeblets.


I have many peasant blouses for work - most are hand-me-downs. It's a forgiving cut, if you're perpetually between pregnancies.  I wore one on Wednesday. This particular one has a keyhole neckline. It lined up perfectly with the substantial cleavage, created by one particular nursing bra. I was mortified all day, and kept trying to shift it around and get the fabric to fall elsewhere. It was awful. (I hadn't worn this shirt with gigantic nursing breasts before.)

This story does not have an unexpectedly nice moment at the end, except that the day ended and I changed into pajamas. That's always nice.

This is an illustration from an otherwise-unremarkable children's book called Steam Train, Dream Train:

February 14, 2015 (17)

These beds are part of the train. The idea of sleeping in a bed which is being pulled by a train is terribly enchanting to me. The ultimate luxury.


We had some very warm days. My yearly springtime ennui threatened. It's not the blues so much as somberness. The first whiff of spring and warmth makes me serious and solemn.

It's this: summer feels like the end of the environmental cycle, when everything bakes and dies. When all the animals seek shade and hide. All the people have to fight against the heat. I spend lots of time by myself. Mid-summer is the height of oppressive, deadly weather. It's isolating and serious, but not exactly bad. I like being isolated and serious.

Then fall is a time of rejuvenation, when everyone comes back to life and feels like moving again.

I drove past these trees full of bird's nests:

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I was stopped at a stoplight, the trees behind me. You can't see the birds' nests, but I still like the photo.

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That's a little better - all those brown dots are birds' nests.

I don't hate the summers, exactly. (Except September. I hate September.) But they require endurance. When the weather first turns warm, in the spring, it's like the first time you apply the breaks after you've been cruising. "Tail lights? Is that...?" and then as you're braking, you find yourself in a long, hot traffic jam. For July, August, and September. This analogy is awfully inapt.


Ace is the cutest. She echoes everything, like all the names of the wildcats on the website of big and small wild cats. (Pokey is a cheetah, a puma, a cougar, a lynx, etc on various days. He does know that cougars are a type of puma, so keep that to yourself.) Ace runs down the hallway, wobbling from side to side in that toddling 20-month old way.

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She's the cutest!

A nice cheetah/puma/cougar/lynx, sometimes named Sven, who sometimes can't talk:

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Those are the boots, wranglers, and belt from the country wedding last fall. Tch, tch.

The other day he wore his white button down shirt, because he was playing that he was going to work in an office. That was pretty cute all day.


Jammies feels strongly that the trash can and recycling bin have fixed spots, outside. Five years ago, I would have switched these, as often as possible. In order to see how long Jammies would silently rearrange them before saying something about it. It would have been funny to me.

It still seems funny, but now I'd never actually do it. Too tired? More mature? Less obnoxious? It's hard to say.

On Thursday, Jammies went on his annual ski trip, except they are golfing instead, and Mimi came to stay for the weekend. So I am enjoying a quiet Valentine's Day with my mother-in-law. It is lacking romance, but pleasant in other ways.


This one saved this shirt for half a year, in order to wear it to school for her Valentines Day party. I was impressed that she remembered to pull it out.

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Ace actually colors very carefully, given how stubby and chubby those little hands are:

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I was impressed.


(Anonymous) at 2015-02-14 22:24 (UTC) (Link)

How Much Did I Love This Post?

I was smiling most of the way through this post.

Well, the car trouble part did make me anxious and worried for you -- but that had a happy ending!

And everything else had me smiling like crazy. Your kids are just so lovely. Those babies! Hawaii and her shirt!

The story about the twins literally made me laugh out loud.
(Anonymous) at 2015-02-14 22:25 (UTC) (Link)

Re: How Much Did I Love This Post?

Huh. That was me, delagar. Why does your blog think I'm Anonymous?

I am not Anonymous!
heebie_geebie at 2015-02-22 23:13 (UTC) (Link)

Re: How Much Did I Love This Post?

Aw, you are the best commenter. Thank you.
(Anonymous) at 2015-02-15 03:55 (UTC) (Link)

Pumping at Home

I really hope you don't wind up having to pump at home. It's awful to have to be tied to the wall like that.

Ava won't nurse during the day and will instead bite me with her two new teeth so I don't experiment too much. Today I pumped because it was really painful to go 10 hours without relief. She was of course hungry, but not willing to nurse, so I had to pump milk and then hand it to her in a bottle to drink. Ridiculous!

heebie_geebie at 2015-02-23 01:07 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Pumping at Home

Rascal got it together on the bottle. :) Although I can't imagine I would have pumped at home. Just, no. So something would have worked out eventually.

Ow on the teeth! Would you believe that I've never nursed a baby with teeth? Ours all didn't get teeth until they were nearly a year, and already weaned.
(Anonymous) at 2015-02-23 05:04 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Pumping at Home

Wow, that's a long time without teeth! Does that mean they had to eat purees for that long? Ava's top tooth is coming in and I'm hoping it means she will be able to eat things with more texture. She's still biting, so I might have to pump on the weekends until I can wean at one year.

heebie_geebie at 2015-02-23 15:11 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Pumping at Home

Nope, their gums are super hard, so they can mash surprisingly well without having teeth. Anything in the ballpark of cheerios, corn, etc ends up being fine around that age. Mostly they can't tear something off, so it just has to be pre-cut or little.
(Anonymous) at 2015-02-15 14:47 (UTC) (Link)
Oh god, eBay. I totally get it.

I feel like Rascal looks more obviously like you than the other kids did at that age? Or, he reminds me of someone, and I assume it must be you!
panisdead at 2015-02-15 14:47 (UTC) (Link)
Me again.
heebie_geebie at 2015-02-23 01:08 (UTC) (Link)
I was so late to the game on eBay - just slow to realize that it might be fun to idly browse really cheap shit that I want. But wow.

Also, he may! I think he's got my rounder features, too, although Jammies' coloring. He may even have red hair.
parodie at 2015-02-16 11:17 (UTC) (Link)
The kid pictures are so cute, and the twilight snuggling sounds lovely, but I still feel rage on your behalf for the whole bottle-feeding fiasco. I hope they have figured out a solution that doesn't involve encouraging you to bottle-feed instead of nursing him? (!!!)

It's so strange, as a northern person, to hear about how the coming of summer fills you with dread. To me summer sounds like warm weather, and warm weather is always a good thing - but I can (just barely) imagine that a season of dead nature and needing to avoid being outside would be difficult. I guess any weather that requires substantial accommodations becomes tedious after a while, the way a small snowfall is charming in November and unbearable by March. This kind of sharing of perspectives is, incidentally, one of my favourite things about the internet. Learning things is interesting!
heebie_geebie at 2015-02-23 01:12 (UTC) (Link)
I didn't have the summer-ennui for a long time. But now it's solidly paired with isolation as well - a ton of our friends are teachers who bolt all summer long, and no one is around at school. I still find it pretty, actually - tan straw and brown colors against a blue sky - but so very dead and vaguely hostile. Cows and livestock huddled around one isolated tree for shade, that sort of thing.

babybabybaby, maybe already here, baby baby!
rebeccastob at 2015-02-17 05:13 (UTC) (Link)
Your kids are so cute and getting so big - at least the ones that I've met,which really shouldn't surprise me as much as it does given that my kids are also getting so big. Oh god three is the worst! I've heard that it's the terrible twos and the f'n threes. I'm actually pretty intrigued by the Christian anarchist friends!

Summer is the most wonderful season in Seattle after we get through the June gloom. This past weekend was amazing too, sunny 50s kite flying weather - just so glad not to live in the Midwest or Massachusetts anymore! The park 2 blocks from my apartment has amazing views of the Olympic mountains, the sound, and downtown Seattle
heebie_geebie at 2015-02-23 01:15 (UTC) (Link)
Terrible twos and the f'n threes - TRUTH. The xtian anarchists are actually from your town, although they've been here maybe 3-4 years. They're great. Thoughtful, nice, and a bit crazy.

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