Forget Pilates, I have found a new endurance sport: putting Ainslie down for a nap. Scoff not, it's an epic endeavor requiring skill, patience, and precise timing...kind of like marksmanship. Only harder, because a slip of the finger could result in hours of disastrous crying instead of a missed target. (Okay, maybe it's not hours of crying, but it is annoying to have to start the whole process over again after an unfortunate pacifier incident)
The process proceeds thus:
Ainslie is up and chipper, staring around at the world in wonder
She gets hungry. I feed her. She falls asleep in the process.
I wait for the opportune moment, a predator of Zzzzs
Her mouth hangs open. I make my move, carrying her to where she'll sleep
Hark, she stirs! I move quickly, trying to arrange her with the stealth of a ninja
She wiggles around and starts to flutter her eyes open. I pull out the big guns: the pacifier.
She suckles the pacifier, content with the world (and perhaps completely aware of how she now has me captive for the next five minutes)
I stand waiting, still as a statue, holding the pacifier in her mouth
Her sucking slows down. I move my hand away.
The pacifier hangs out of her mouth, James Dean-style. I wait for this most important moment coming up.
Her breathing slows, she is officially asleep!
I gently lift the pacifier off of her bottom lip and pray for mercy; this is the moment where it all could unravel...
...and from there it's a real life version of a "Choose Your Own Adventure" book. Either I took the pacifier away too early and she wakes up, forcing me to start the whole process over again, or if I'm lucky she stays asleep. Before I learned the error of my ways, I would leave the pacifier with her, which resulted in several instances where it fell from its precarious perch onto the crib mattress with just enough oomph to scare her awake. Disaster.
But like all sports, this one allows me to reap certain benefits. Oh no, it's not washboard abs (ugh, I'll address that in another post), but potentially a few hours of free time to do dishes and work on Christmas gifts. To the victor go the spoils!
If nothing else, my experience with the GRE taught me two things:
1. I'd forgotten how quickly number 2 pencils wear down.
2. Watching the "John Adams" miniseries was the best thing that ever happened to my vocabulary. Had it not been for Paul Giamatti's excellent portrayal, I never would have been able to complete the analogies for words like "vicissitude".
After finishing the four-hour long test, I was welcomed back into reality by a barrage (oooo, GRE word) of picture texts from Kip which thoroughly documented the trip that he and Ainslie took to Costco in my absence. I basically stood in the testing room grinning like a fool at my phone while my fellow test takers shuffled around me, wondering who the crazy lady was.
In all honesty, it wasn't all that bad. Sure, I ended my first analytical essay in the middle of a sentence because I ran out of time (leave 'em wanting more, I say!). Sure, I frantically filled in the last few ovals in random order for both the math sections because I sat staring dumbfoundedly at the geometry questions for too long (you know it's bad when you remember not understanding it in high school either). But I took the darn test, and in six weeks, I'll know how I did. And so will Boston College (ack), Yale (double ack), Notre Dame (triple ack), and Catholic Theological Union (actually not ack-worthy, but only because they don't need the scores). No need to freak out.....really.
T-minus 20 days until Kip, Ainslie and I get on the big silver bird and head down to Texas to see (in order): my family, the Sun, and a fancy schmancy doctor with a long, difficult to spell title who will hopefully tell us that Ainslie is the picture of health and developmental normalcy. It's a trip that's coming none too soon, since it's been about six months since I've traveled outside of the state, which means that that old itch to pack my bags and go somewhere exotic is coming back. Not that Dallas is all that exotic, but it is about 30 degrees warmer than here, so I'll take it.
In a dream world, Kip and I would pack up Ainslie in our Moby wrap, stuff a few belongings and our camera into a backpack, and trek around India for a few weeks, then maybe Amsterdam. Those are my two travel fantasies as of late. They're purely fantasies because they would require several things happening:
1. Kip would have to get over his idea of India being dirty and a place he never wants to visit
1a. I would have to suddenly start liking Indian food (but I'm sure it's much better in the actual
country than the place in Lombard, Illinois where I had some)
2. Juneau would have to suddenly decide that crime is overrated and give Kip a month or two off
3. Society would have to start running on a bartering system where money is irrelevant and unnecessary
As it stands, our credit card is sort of, kind of close to being close to maxed out with all the tickets we just bought for this trip and another in February to Anchorage for Ainslie's checkup with the doctor there, so India and Amsterdam will have to wait. In the meantime, I'm watching a lot of random shows on the Travel Channel. And not studying for the GRE, which is about twelve hours (ack) away. Instead, I'm working on Christmas presents, doing a lot of dishes, and trying to catch up on cleaning around the house...when I'm not hanging out with Miss Ainslie (who, incidentally, has added smiling, laughing and the ability to rock a mean case of cradle cap to her repertoire of tricks). Maybe she'll be able to backpack around India and Amsterdam when she's older and send her old mom a postcard. Or maybe I'll go with her. I'll work on liking Indian food until then. For now--Texas.
Things are beginning to feel more like what my sister described as “whatever version of normal the three of you decide works”.
Inspired by the Giada DiLauretis/Bobby Flay vs. Rachael Ray/Mario Batali Iron Chef battle (it was epic!), I cooked dinner for the first time in ages. Chicken marinated in balsamic vinegar over couscous and grilled red peppers. Kip, who was shocked he liked couscous so much, ate all of the tupperware I packed for him to take to work AND the leftovers I’d been planning to use for dinner the next day. Victory!!!
Sister Marie called and asked if I’d be willing to present a lecture on the gospel of Matthew at the church’s new Bible study sometime soon. I’ve been celebating/preparing by unearthing my old copy of Burridge’s “Four Gospels, One Jesus?” and reminding myself why that is the single best book I’ve ever read on the subject. Lest I’d become worried that my exegetical muscles had atrophied (which I had), I’ve been feeling that old academic tickle come back--the one that bears a striking resemblance to the way that Kip made me feel when we worked together at camp; my heart beats a little faster, my face gets a little red, I’m overcome by a curious urge to giggle. In short, I feel like a giddy little schoolgirl, but instead of a boy I’m completely infatuated with studying the Word. It feels SO good.
Also, I cleaned our floor for the first time with the new Rubbermaid dohickey that my mom got me while she was here--the one that’s just like a Swiffer Wet Jet but infinitely awesomer because it has reusable cleaning pads instead of disposable ones and a cleaning solution container that you can put your own solutions into--and it rocked my world. And now I’m staying up way too late blogging. See? Normalcy.
Ainslie and I have started reading together while she's awake and staring around the room. I love "Goodnight, Moon" and "Bumble Bee" just as much as the next person, but by golly if I have to recite one more stanza of rhymed iambic pentameter about barnyard animals, I am going to lose it.
So we've been reading theology, because it makes me happy. And Ainslie's happy when Mama's happy. Our favorite quote from the section on Retreat in Scott Hahn's "Signs of Life":
"Though still I saw through a glass darkly,
I saw things as a whole for the first time with
a delight, a joy, an excitement, which is hard to describe.
This is what I expected when I became a Catholic.
This is what all my reading had led me to expect
in the way of teaching and guidance in the spiritual life.
I came away with what I can only consider to be
an increased knowledge of the supernatural life,
the feeling that I had grown in faith, hope and charity,
that I had been fed the strong meat of the Gospel
and was now prepared to run the race,
to journey onward with that food which would sustain me for forty days in any wilderness.
I felt prepared for deserts and underground tunnels,
for the dark night of the senses and of the soul.
And I knew too that this strong light would dim with the ensuing months
and that the next year I would again have to make the retreat,
to adjust my vision to the blazing truth which was set before us,
Saying the offices with Ainslie during her mealtimes
Lots of naps
Lots and LOTS of smelly diapers
And celebratory One Month Birthday cupcakes
(she was much more excited about the cupcake than she looks in this photo)
Also: about a thousand pounds of laundry a day, way too many diapers for not enough storage space, stolen moments to study for the GRE or finish homework, space heater wars, a slowly growing motivation to cook for ourselves, constant dirty dishes, lots of college football, professional football, European football, football of any type, Christmas card scheming planning, very occasional showers, and so much pink that it looks like a cotton candy factory exploded in our apartment.
Plus, Kip just informed me that "Keeping Up With the Kardashians", my absolute worst guilty pleasure (even worse than "Gossip Girl", shame, shame) is on Netflix Instant. Oh, dear me. This might be added to the list. And that could be bad.
Oh, how times have changed. I used to hate dreary November weather, but today I'm welcoming the seeping rain and gusting winds. It's a perfectly blustery day in exotic Juneau, and Ainslie and I are staying at home celebrating with perfect joy. We're celebrating All Saints' Day, of course, by telling her about our favorite saints proper (St. Joseph, St. Perpetua, Sankta Lucia, St. Damien of Molokai) but also by telling her stories about the saints in her own family, the relatives long gone who lived exemplary Christian lives. The Forbes family, my new favorite friends in Juneau, inspired and encouraged me to put up Christmas lights in celebration of feast days and cover everything we could think of with Nutella. Because nothing says "Celebration!" like Nutella. Our celebration also includes a soundtrack of Rockabye Baby: Lullaby Renditions of Queen (the xylophone version of "Killer Queen" really is something to behold). Oh yeah, some babies listen to Mozart, mine listens to classic 70's rock in reworked lullaby form. Mommy might spring for the Rockabye Baby Beatles album next. Or maybe Bob Marley. We'll see.
On the inside, I'm also celebrating the fact that it's November 1st, which is exciting for two reasons:
1. November 1st means the official start of the holiday season. I am the type of person who would normally start playing Christmas carols today, but I'm holding back. I'm sipping warm apple cider in my favorite slippers (you know, the Scandinavian-looking ones that are falling apart at the seams because I love them so much) instead.
2. November 1st also means that it's, well, November. Which means NOT October. I've loved Autumn my entire life, especially October, but this October blew chunks. So good riddance, October! You can take your crappy birth experiences and hospitals and way too many medical emergencies and hide in shame until next year! Only good things will happen in November! We welcome it with much festivity!