Baby Traditions, part two

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The Wee Baby Abel having a swinging good time.

Back when I was expecting, I shared some of the traditions that people told me about pregnancy and newborns. Now that I’ve had my baby and he is big enough to meet people all over the island, I am again hearing a lot more traditions, superstitions and, of course, advice. That’s right, it’s time for another round of baby traditions.

Ever hear the phrase “sleep like a baby?” My son’s sleep isn’t as peaceful as the phrase suggests, but according the old folks, when he and other babies do settle in and sleep, they always dream of angels. I like to imagine some of the family members who passed away before the baby was born are his personal angels.

My son has a head full of curls, so a lot of the traditional wisdom we hear is about hair. For example, did you know you’re not supposed to cut a baby’s hair before they can talk? (An alternate version says to wait until the first birthday.) If you do, according to one legend, they might never wind up speaking. Similarly, some folks say the early haircut will cause the baby to develop a stutter.

I’ve also heard that you shouldn’t comb a child’s hair while they sleep or they could wind up “slow.” I didn’t have the sense to ask at the time if this was a reference to physical speed or just a euphemism for a dull wit, but now that I have a crawler on my hands, I sure wish I had. I’d have no problem combing the baby’s hair while he naps if it meant he couldn’t scoot away from me so swiftly!

Lately my little guy seems bigger every time I see him, so I shouldn’t be surprised that people have so much to say about what makes babies grow faster. One woman told me that the more you bathe a baby, the faster they grow. I can’t deny that once my little one started moving around more and eating enough to need daily baths, he did start to pack on the pounds.

Speaking of weight, it’s not a good idea to call a baby heavy. “Only the dead are heavy,” the saying goes. I especially like that one because it reminds me as a parent that my son might be a bit of a physical burden – he’s now big enough to give me backache if I carry him for too long – his life is a blessing.

This column appeared in the April 26, 2018 edition of the Limin Times.

Read part one here.

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Returning to Paradise

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From #docklife to #decklife, the view from my new place.

The BVI had Irma-geddon, then I had a baby. Baby, hubby and I escaped (okay, evacuated) to California for a while, which was both delightful and difficult.

People have asked when I will be writing about all of that, but the truth is that it’s still hard to talk about and I’m not sure I’ll ever write about it… So I guess the answer to that question is: not yet.

Anyway, seven months on and things are feeling almost normal around here, including at work, where the Limin Times is back!

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Here’s my latest Island Life column, which ran April 19th.

Island life means sharing your mornings with roosters, goats, cows and all kinds of other creatures, but recently I had my worst island wake up call ever. I was roused from my slumber by the feeling of something cold and wet on my shin. Without thinking – let’s be honest, I wasn’t even fully conscious yet – I grabbed the offending object and flung it away into what turned out to be the closet.

This was not a quiet process, so soon I was trying to explain to my groggy husband what the commotion was all about. As my mind cleared I gradually realized that it must have been a frog. I cannot articulate my disgust. A cold, damp frog had been in my bedroom, on my bed, on my leg, and then, shudder to think, I had held it briefly in my hand.

Hubby, hero that he is, wasted no time hopping out of bed and handing me the hand sanitizer. He advised me to take the baby and leave the room, heavy shoe in hand.

“Are you going to kill it?” I asked, realizing that there is indeed something more icky than a live frog hopping around the bedroom.

Beginning to be fully awake himself, hubby put down his shoe and, as if in answer, we heard a rustle in the closet. The frog appeared on the ledge of our son’s play pen and hubby lunged for it. The wily frog, evidently drawn to the sound of his friends outside the bedroom window, started climbing the curtain.

Watching the frog awkwardly make its way up the curtain was like watching a muppet flail its arms and legs. Suddenly, it wasn’t so icky. It was just Kermit. I watched as my resourceful husband coaxed Kermit into the play pen, covered it with a mosquito net, and carried the pen onto the front porch. Kermit was clearly no genius: after he hopped out of the pen he lingered on the porch until hubby made some noise before rejoining the other frogs that love to hang out croaking in the yard.

Even though I fervently hope Kermit never again finds his way inside, I do find myself wishing him well in a way. Now excuse me while I go scrub down everything he might have touched while he was there.

Why am I crying this time?

DSC_0555Last weekend, after what felt like ages of scheduling and planning, it was time to take some bump pics with one of my favorite photographers. Memories! A cute dress! Visiting with friends! It was all the good things I wanted to help commemorate what has so far been a charmed pregnancy.

So why was I bawling? Hormones had me feeling super unattractive and just not ready and I shed real, actual, ridiculous tears. Clearly the tears didn’t last and photos came out beautifully, but I have to admit it’s a little bit embarrassing how emotionally worked up I can get these days over what seems to be the littlest stuff.

What else have I cried over in the course of this pregnancy? Some of it is downright funny. Here’s a partial list.

  • The movie “A Monster Calls,” (even though I read the book last summer and knew exactly what was coming)
  • I ran out of club soda
  • The song “It’s Quiet Uptown” from the musical Hamilton
  • I had to park far away from my apartment on grocery shopping day because all the parking spots anywhere near my building were full
  • That viral video of a teen coming out to his southern mom at their kitchen table and the mom being super loving and supportive
  • The first birthday video some young parents I know made for their daughter
  • Not being able to get air in my low tire despite stopping at all three gas stations in town
  • My husband’s incredible kindness and patience

I’m pretty sure I’ll be back to my normal self in a few months time, but until then, you might just have to call me MJ.

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Far from home?

I live here!

I live here!

I can honestly say after more than three years that it’s really amazing to be where I am. Thanks to a good job and some great friends, I love my adopted home. It’s paradise, truly.

But. You knew there was a but coming.

This week a few things happened that made me think that maybe I am too far from the part of my heart that is my family.

First my granddad went to the hospital. It’s very mysterious, which just makes bad news worse. Nothing I can do about that.

Then a brother-in-law went to the hospital with some persistent chest pains. We now know he had a heart attack. Thankfully, he’s post surgery and back at home being lovingly cared for by my sister and their baby girl. Again, other than sending prayers and Jedi hugs, nothing I can do about that.

Then a whole big section of California caught on fire. My people had to evacuate with their babies and even though they’ve since been allowed to go home again, nobody will unpack their cars because fire. Maddeningly, nothing I can do about this one either.

I want to be with my family as all these things are happening, but last minute travel is prohibitively expensive, and the reality is that I just can’t pick up and go like I could when I lived there.

To be clear, there isn’t a lot of really useful stuff I could do if I were there. In times of crisis, my family knows they can rely on me to brew the coffee, crack a distractingly inappropriate joke and amuse the babies long enough for mommy to take a shower, but only if I’m not, for example, out covering the fire.

And then of course, I have to remind myself that while I might be thinking about all these things as happening “there,” they’re actually happening in three different states. Very far away from each other. Even as I want to be “there” with my big family in the states, I know that some of them are wanting to be there for each other and can’t either, because they’re on opposite coasts.

Thankfully, they don’t have to read this to know that even though I am so far away, they’re in my heart, because they are my heart.