Here Kitty Kitty!

Our neighborhood has had an explosion of strays over the past month or so. At any given time, you can see a variety of kittens romping around. There's a gray tabby, a brown and black calico, a white and brown calico and a marmalade tabby. However, there are also adult cats - a couple gray tabbies (one of which is pregnant!), a white long hair, two solid blacks and a grizzly looking black and white.

While Curtis fell for their cuteness, we avoided getting sucked in for at least a month. But then ... then the sweet marmalade tabby decided we were his Favorite Deck Ever. He'd hang out on our deck cushions, cuddle up next to Daphne and wind himself around our ankles, crying to be stroked.

Then he figured out how to come through the pet door. It was on after that. He would just pop in and out, chasing and be chased by Daphne, attacking stray bits of everything and generally testing out this new environment. Billy was intolerant of this at first, but when the kitty learned to stay away from Bella and her toys, and let Javi roughhouse with him without clawing him up - Billy sort of accepted that this kitty would come around every once in a while.

But then I set food out. And the other cats would eat the food and leave our marmalade kitty without any. And the kitty would come inside and curl up at our feet or in Daisy's old bed. And Billy really caved. He decided the kitten needed to use the cat door so we could keep food for him in the basement and that we needed to get him house ready (flea bath here we come) so we don't become infested with parasites.

I knew it was all over and that we had ourselves a new pet when I brought Daisy's old bed from the living room window to the bedroom window last night. The kitten, which Javi has named Tiger (of course), hopped right in, curled up and passed out. He was still there this morning and is now grooming himself on the deck.

He's a keeper!

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Sassy & her brother

My sass is quickly becoming a pro at sitting - tho now I'm paranoid that she won't learn to crawl bc she hates not sitting. You lay her on the floor and she rolls around whining and trying to sit up. Sit her up and she'll play contentedly with her toys.

Here's Javi acting as her pillow for the times when she gets tickled and throws herself backward.

And here's Sassette herself mugging for the camera:

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Here's a video of BellaSass performing her tricks. She's sitting up through the whole video, so give her credit for that too!

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And she's up!

I just posted about Bella falling asleep after sitting up for long periods of time. I need to amend that: She takes a cat nap and wakes up 5-10 minutes later. But, hey, sleep is sleep and I'm not complaining!

I also wanted to note that Ms. Thang wore socks for the first time this week. She was amazed by them and kept staring and laughing at them. Winter has a lot in store for this summer baby!

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Bella Tricks!

My sassette is up to no good these days. Let's make a list:

  1. She's teething. This comes with a running fever, loose stools, diaper rash, waterfalls of drool and, my personal favorite, the appearance of Bad Bella. Bad Bella screams, thrashes, and would stab your eye out if she could get 'hold of a knife.
  2. She's not sleeping. I blame Bad Bella for this. My sweet girl used to nap for at least an hour in the morning and afternoon. Bad Bella has no interest in laughing and, in fact, laughs in your face if you try to put her down for a nap. The laugh is a precursor to the scream that would be a precursor to aforementioned knife.

  3. She's sitting up! Okay, so Bad Bella has some issues, but she's ushered in a whole new era. Instead of being content to roll around on the floor, Bad Bella wants to sit! Now! Last night at 10 pm she was sitting up in the bed between Billy and I. I thought she'd pass out if it was low-key enough. Nope, she just made faces and laughed at us until Billy threw in the towel and rocked/forced her to sleep.
  4. She plugs herself. The days of us having to hold or wedge the pacifier in her mouth are gone. Bad Bella lunges for the paci if it falls out of her mouth and works it around until she's completely plugged up. I can take it out of her mouth over and over ... and she'll pop it right back in. Now, by the 4th or 5th time she is ready to stab me, but her need to get the paci in place overrides any hostility.

My only concern with the sitting up stuff is that she won't stay on her belly long enough to crawl. I really want her to hit that milestone and not be one of those starlets that go from sitting to walking with no crawling inbetween. I think if she could figure out crawling, she'd enjoy being on the floor more ... but now that she's sitting, she really just wants to be doing that.

The best part of sitting, tho, is that she still gets so tickled by so many things. And in case you didn't know, when Bella gets tickled, she flails and jacks up her body ... which means she falls over if she's sitting. Luckily I'm still keeping her propped, but she's going to have to control herself before I give her the official milestone award.

Oh, another great thing about sitting? It wears down her batteries. After a full half-hour of sitting, she started getting cranky so I moved her pillows and laid her down. No more than five minutes later, she was gone. Bring it on, sitting up milestone!

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Monkey Foot

Bella enjoys her swing, but her favorite part is stopping and starting it with her monkey foot and trying to eat things that get in her way.

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On Sept. 11, 2001, I lived a completely different life and kept a completely different blog. I wrote this entry at 3:07 p.m. that day, and it still resonates with me. In honor of the anniversary of 9/11, I'm reposting here.
What is there to say? Am I angry? Yes. Am I sad? Yes. Do I feel that we deserved it? No.

Let me explain why this is. Someone said to me earlier, "i can't believe you care. you're so anti-american!" and I will never claim to support killing for wealth. I will never support innocent deaths. I will never pledge blind allegiance to a country with hands in so many pots, all of them un"American".

But, I am an American. I know no other way of life than that that I've led for the past 25 years. This is the first time in my life that I have felt so strongly this sense of nationalism. I do not know this empty pit in my stomach. it is new and this is a blessing. People my age in other parts of the world do not know the sense of safety and stability that we have known. There are people my age who went to school with bombs exploding overhead, who watched their friends, their brothers, their mothers being killed...and many times it was by American troops. I thank God that I am scared because it means I have lived a full, safe life.

I want that for my son. I do not believe in war. I do not believe in senseless killing. As an American, I recognize that Americans are all people. We are from all places. We represent little chunks of the entire planet. We not only symbolize capitalism and democracy and wealth and power...we also symbolize unity and diversity and the fusion of all cultures. By making war on any part of the world, we are also fighting ourselves.

Here was my first reaction when i saw that second plane hit. what if this was orchestrated. not by Osama Bin Laden. Not by the plo or any other islamic faction. What if this was orchestrated by the government of the united states of america? It makes sense. The access to flight patterns and cockpits. The increasing decline of the world economy. The drastic unemployment rates. Wouldn't a war solve our problems? Didn't it end the great depression?

No, I said to myself in horror, not our government. Then I immediately latched on to the next horrifying thought. Other americans. Just like Oklahoma City. It's us attacking ourselves. Again, it would be so easy for americans to gain the confidence of and access to those planes. How will we "punish those responsible" as GWB put it if it is us?

Then, I thought of islamic fundamentalists. I thought how much safer and happier I'd be if it were them. Let it be them, I whispered to myself. But, what does that mean for the innocents in countries like Afghanistan? Think of the already impossible lives of women and girls in that country. Perhaps killing them would be a relief from the life they live now. But it would also be senseless. It would be a human rights violation in the highest sense.

So now I'm left not knowing who the enemy is. I'm left hoping that no more have to die. I'm left without hope for security. But, I am more American than I've ever been before. I stand behind all my fellow Americans in a way that I could not have fathomed when I woke up yesterday.

I do not want to "punish" anyone. I do not want any other person to die. I want my freedom back. I want to know that my son will grow up in the safe harbor that I have always known. I don't know how to reconcile these conflicting emotions. I think this is what it means to live in a war torn nation.

My heart goes out to all those who die every day from senseless, random killing. I pray for those who lost their lives in today's attacks. I pray for those for lost their mothers, their fathers, their lovers. I pray for all the orphaned children.

I pray for those who feel vindicated by these attrocities. This type of celebration is a symbol of something quite different from justice. It is the decay, possibly the destruction, of the human spirit.

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The Boy

Every day Javi becomes more and more like a pre-teen and less and less like a little boy. He draws dragons and Simpsons characters. He rides his bike and scooter in the neighborhood. He gets on and off the bus by himself (with me watching from afar, of course). And now he has to have his hair gelled.

He really wants liberty spikes like Pimp My Ride (yes, that's what he said), but he settled for a generic spike this morning.

13 is right around the corner.

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Peek A Boo

Bella's favorite game. Can you watch it without laughing? We can't.

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Ever felt like passing out in your exersaucer?

As Bella would be the first to tell you, it's for serious nappers only.

Now, could someone explain to me why she REFUSES to sleep when I lay her down during the day? She's obviously tired!

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Letter to Bella, month five

Dear Bella,

It's been only five short months since you came slipping and sliding into the world, but it feels like we've known you forever.

I can sum you up with a look at any given time. Last night, you were fussing while I made dinner and Daddy tried all the usual tricks: rocking, bouncing, exersaucer. I came into the room, took one look at you and knew you wanted to swing. It was that simple. Daddy buckled you in and you were asleep in seconds.

This is the visceral part of parenting that I'd forgotten about it. When your brother was a baby, it was all so new to me that I often second-guessed myself or assumed that my Mama-stinct couldn't be right. But this time around, I've learned to trust myself and to trust you.

And what a wonderful little five-month-old girl you are! No matter where we go or who you see, your face is lit with a smile. People stop to smile at you, exclaiming "Is she always this happy?!" I have to be honest with them: Yes, you are the happiest baby on the block -- and it has nothing to do with us.

That's not to imply that we aren't loving parents or that your brother doesn't fall over himself to make your laugh (because both things are true), it's just that your personality is one that bubbles, that giggles, that only drops the smile when a stranger won't smile back at you.

In fact, when we took big brother to meet his first grade teacher, you flashed a huge smile at a man next to us in line. He saw you but then looked away. You grunted, then screamed at him until he finally spoke to you. You were immediately happy again.

But more than your personality has grown this month. You have become quite the mover. You roll around the room without stop. Often, if I leave the room, when I come back you've rolled up against the entertainment center or you're pinned against the couch. I think the problem is once you get going in one direction, you have a hard time going back the other way. This probably speaks to a latent stubborn streak - or it's an indication that you'll be the complete opposite of your Sag mom who can't make her mind which direction to go in.

All this rolling has forced a huge change: You've finally moved to the crib! You were clunking into the sides of the bassinet, so we had to give you more room to move. In the crib, you sleep like a rock from 9ish in the evening until 8ish in the morning. You wake up ready to chew on your little stuffed puppy or gaze in wonder at your farm animals mobile. Sometimes I find you just staring at the dragonflies and ladybugs on your crib bedding. The crib is a whole new world for you to explore and you're happy to take your time.

You're also eating up a storm. I gave in to your demands for FOOD! and have introduced you to rice cereal. Okay, introduced is an understatement. You are now eating cereal twice a day, pretty much everyday. I let you try Stage 1 foods, but you don't prefer them alone - you like them mixed into the cereal. So far, you've gobbled up peaches, carrots, bananas, peas and applesauce.

Everyone warned me that you'd never take vegetables if I introduced fruit first, but you were a huge fan of carrots and peas, but seemed to think bananas were from the Devil. I agreed with you after seeing what bananas did to your diaper. I don't think I've met another baby who doesn't like bananas, but I'm sure you'll get over it the way your brother did with mashed potatoes -- which he used to loathe but are now his favorite food.

Cereal and baby food are yummy, but your heart's true desire is a biter biscuit. You get excited when I strip you down and put you in the Bumbo because you know what's coming next: the cookie! You struggle to keep the gooey, gloppy mess in your hands and mouth. My favorite part of this struggle is when you try to throw your head back with the cookie in your mouth, but it falls out of your hands and you snap back up with a confounded look on your face.

Of course, I'm not telling your pediatrician about the cookies. At your four-month check up (a month late, of course), you weighed in at 15 lbs, 9 ozs and a 17" head, putting you in the 90th percentile all around. I thought this was great considering you were 95th percentile weight and 50th percentile height at your two-month visit. However, the pediatrician gave me an obesity lecture and offered me child nutrition classes. Needless to say, I'm currently shopping for a new pediatrician.

This month has been more fun than all the last - you're babbling up a storm, smiling and fluttering those eyelashes, belly laughing, eating your toes and even trying to sit up. Even though you hate to nap, you're still a calm, sweet, lovey baby who perks up when Daddy, Mama or big brother walk into the room.

Just as we've figured you out, you know exactly who we are. And none of us would have it any other way.

Love, Mama

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