Friday, April 28, 2006

What Happens When Daddy's In Vegas...

I am sort of afraid to go to bed because today is the first day I've ever spent totally alone with Jarrah. David is in Las Vegas for NAB and hence I will not be posting these musings until his return, in the interest of not signaling to any particularly crafty ax murderers that I am husbandless at home. I realize that's kind of a reach, but what can I tell you? I am the kind of person that if a telephone rings when the lights are off (even if I wasn't asleep at the time) I'm totally, utterly convinced that the person is calling to let me know they are on their way over to kill me. Over the years, people have gently pointed out that it doesn't make much sense to give the game away with the phone call. But there's no reasoning with me. I'm sorry.

Anyway, that's not why I'm afraid to go to bed. I'm terrified that Jarrah is going to wake crying and inconsolable and that I won't have my trusty partner to ricochet ideas off of: "Should we try some Tylenol?" "Is her heater on?" "Does it sound like she's coughing?" David and I aren't all that effective when we have these groggy summit meetings, but it's comforting, somehow, to know that someone else currently has your same objective: silencing the crying in any way that might work. I dread asking those questions to the cold depression on the other side of the bed. So here's hoping she sleeps through the night.

The day itself was admittedly rather pleasant. We drove David to the airport very early, and then we came home for scrambled eggs. There was a bit of playing, and a lot of napping, during which I caught up on dead-heading the roses and got a short lecture on aphids from our next door neighbor. When Jarrah woke, we had lunch, and then got the sad news that Martha and Vincent were not feeling up to a walk with us this afternoon. I had a moment of interior panic, but I rallied and quickly drove Jarrah to the zoo before I could overthink the plan. It was a gorgeous day with a cooling breeze, and we had a lovely two-hour excursion with a long walk for me and some goat slapping for Jarrah. (All the children laughed at me when I turned my back to admire a Shetland pony and one of the goats tried to eat my sweater off my waist.) I was truly amazed at Jarrah's patience today; she amused herself by swaying and singing as we cruised around but never once made a peep that sounded other than satisfied. I do have moments when I think she's the most patient baby in the world. Then I have other moments.

We stopped at the park on the way home, where she got to pet a doggie and nearly give me a heart attack by crossing the wobbly bridge on her own, several times. She's worked out that she can hold the railing and cross slowly without holding my hand, which is a great relief for my back but not my conscience, since she could pitch over the side at any moment.

When we got home, it was time for Grace and Julianna to arrive with Chinese food, and I can't say enough about their kindness. Julianna played with Jarrah while Grace and I chatted, and the food was delicious. Jarrah ate and then threw a lot of noodles on the floor, but not before giving herself a jagged, punk hairdo with some lemon chicken styling gel. Both my guests helped with bath, story and bottle, and Grace (could she be any more wonderful?) even did the dishes while I washed that lemon sauce out of J's hair. I honestly think I would have been feeling very odd doing all this by myself, because evening is David's time with Jarrah. Even she noticed, because generally after being lotioned she likes to run howling from her room to the kitchen to show off her nudity while I'm doing the dishes. Then she runs howling back after I've admired how clean she is. Tonight she started running, then stopped, and looked over her shoulder, perplexed. Her expression seemed to say, "Wait. If Mommy is back there, then she isn't in the kitchen. And Daddy doesn't seem to be in the kitchen, either. So where IS Daddy?" I didn't want her thinking too hard about this, so I bundled her off to bed soon after. She went down willingly; hopefully she'll stay that way.

P.S. It's the next day, and my worst fears were founded. (Can you say "founded?" Or only "unfounded?") She not only woke up crying a few times before I went to sleep, but she kept coughing in this disturbing way. I finally decided that when I have a dry cough, a cup of tea makes me feel better, so I decided to improvise. I filled a bottle with very warm water, a spoonful of honey, and a splash of lemon juice. She was pretty upset when I opened her door but when I handed her the bottle, she knew what to do. I tiptoed out again and didn't hear a peep the rest of the night! I'm a genius! :)

Aside from one bloody wound (see previous post) I think we've done okay with David away. I'm totally exhausted, though. I can't underestimate the difference in having him wake up with her and put her to bed at night. But I know I've been very fortunate to have such good friends checking on me and keeping me company. Yesterday Grace even came by to give Jarrah lunch and play with her while I went shopping and out for coffee by myself for a couple hours. What a treat! I really enjoyed myself. I enjoyed myself so much that I managed to lose a rather sizeable check David had given me to deposit. I was a little disturbed by this, but not unduly concerned (that in itself is sort of alarming) until I returned home to three frantic phone calls: the first two from an incredibly sweet stranger named Erica who had found the check, and the third from Jonny at the mall security office, letting me know he had it. I must say that over the years I have managed to lose my wallet half a dozen times in this city and some kind stranger has always called me within minutes. Compare that to when I lived in Boston, and not once but three times someone actually stuck their hand in my purse and extracted my wallet and I had to spend weeks replacing all my cards. Not sure if that means San Diego is a particularly friendly city, or if I've used up my store of luck in the past 10 years on my wallet. So Jarrah and I spent the late afternoon traipsing back to the mall and wending through a slightly eerie warren of hallways behind the friendly retail facades to find Jonny and make up for my perpetual spaciness. I didn't get to feed Jarrah until close to 7:00, but she was surprisingly agreeable about it. And then Martha arrived with dessert to put the cherry on our day, and Jarrah drifted off to sleep in my lap while we were chatting and didn't make a sound for 11 hours.

I Have Heard The Mermaids Singing

Last weekend we had another first with Jarrah: we took her to the beach at Coronado. You can tell I'm totally inexperienced at this toddler thing by the way I decided to dress her for the occasion. It was a windy, partly cloudy day, so I figured she should have jeans and sneakers, and a warm sweater. In my totally misguided fantasy, I saw our family strolling along the wavewash like a scene from Cezanne or whichever one did the pastoral seaside family scenes in the runny colors. In my fantasy, we were all wearing straw boater hats festooned with ribbons, with our cotton trousers artfully rolled to the knee, and we collected sea shells while gazing pensively towards the horizon. In reality, of course, Jarrah sat down in a bunch of wet sand, cried, discovered she liked it, sat down some more, splashed and dug, dug some more, and finished by crawling directly into the oncoming surf, whose iciness she seemed not to mind. Coronado sparkles with pyrite specks as thickly as gold glitter, and these bits stuck tenaciously to our hands, faces, and clothing. By the time we got Jarrah back to the car, we had to strip her down to her onesie just to avoid destroying her car seat. But I think we have a newly minted water baby!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Special Victims Unit

I seriously lost it this morning. And just when I thought everything was going perfectly. Isn't that always the way? For one thing, Jarrah slept until 7:30. Or, should I say, I slept until 7:30. When I bolted awake, totally freaked that she hadn't made a sound, I found her rolling gently in her crib, sucking the empty bottle I'd left in there, totally blissed out. Is that all it takes, an empty bottle? I think I'll put one in there every night! We had a nice breakfast together, the niceness enhanced by her attention to "Zoboomafoo" while I drank my coffee and read the paper. I quickly dressed and packed the diaper bag while she finished watching the show, then I got her dressed. Even her cowlick was cooperating! I dashed to the bathroom for a quick pee, and shut the door because she has a tendency to be a little too curious about this process. She cried outside, but she always does that, just because she doesn't like me shutting her out. She had stopped by the time I opened the door, and I scooped her up and took her to the car, making cheerful small talk about our upcoming music lesson. Just like the cat scratch, it was when I was buckling her into the car seat that I saw the blood. But this time I didn't see it on her skin. No, I saw it on her pants, her sleeve, and, when I looked, my hands. For a moment I couldn't figure out what was going on, since she looked fine and there was so much blood. I finally noticed that the underside of her hand was bloody, but due to the volume I couldn't locate a wound. I reared back and started to run into the house, caught myself--she wasn't even strapped in, and where was I going?--and ran back, pulled her out, wrapped a Purell wipe around her hand. That made her scream. A lot. She yanked her hand away and a fresh spray of blood ended up on my pants. Somewhere in the sawdust of my mind I envisioned a Band Aid, and I hauled her to the bathroom and started rummaging. We have Band-Aids in every shape and size, and I kept trying to unwrap them, but my hands were shaking so badly, and she was struggling so hard, I just kept getting them covered with blood and rolled into little balls. Then she ran out of the bathroom while I was wrestling with one (she seemed remarkably cheerful, actually) and headed towards the front door, which I had left open. Steadying herself at the threshold, she grabbed for the door frame, and as she disappeared into the bright morning I saw she had left a five-inch slash of red blood where her fingers had been. "Oh noooooo!" I wailed, and realized I was sobbing. Then I realized I was also hyperventilating, and dropped to my knees, head in my hands, and gasped for air. Jarrah kept running towards the street. As if I were mired in quicksand, I pulled myself up with huge difficulty and ran after her, still gasping, crying harder. She occasionally looked back as if I might be a bit mad. I grabbed her by the arm, and got some more blood on me. As I pulled her back in the house, she kept grabbing at walls and door frames, and our house started to look like we'd enacted The Sacrifice of the Paschal Lamb a bit too literally this Passover. Every time I got a Band-Aid in the general direction of her finger, she'd rip it off and run. With my last coherent thought, I lunged for the phone and called David. He answered, and may I just say, he's my hero.

He quickly determined that we weren't dealing with a life-threatening emergency, and said all kinds of comforting things so I could breathe again and stop crying. Then he asked about the cut, which I had determined was on her little finger, but for some reason was bleeding like a head wound. He said, "Turn on the shower. She'll put her hand under it because she likes to do that, and then you'll be able to see the cut better." I did what he said, and you know what? That's exactly what happened. I didn't have to coerce her. There was no struggle. She just put out her hand and the blood rinsed down the drain. I told him the cut was small, only about a quarter of an inch, but I couldn't get the Band-Aid on her. He said, "Hand her a bottle. She'll be too busy to notice that you're putting the Band-Aid on." Again, he was absolutely right. She accepted the bottle with the other hand, and I quickly whipped the Band-Aid around the injured digit. The one thing he couldn't control is that Jarrah, like a puppy, was interested in the Band-Aid, just not interested in having it stuck to her. As soon as I'd get one on, she'd peel it off.

David asked me not to drive until I was feeling calmer, and soon I was. I asked him if it was weird for Jarrah and I to show up at music class splattered with blood, and he laughed and said it depended on what kind of place it was. I decided to take a chance. If we didn't leave right then, we were going to miss it. We would just be Bloody Mommy and Bloody Baby today. Like a costume.

It wasn't until half-way through the class that her wound re-opened--remember, she wouldn't keep the Band-Aid on. Her hand filled up with blood again, and I watched in horror as she reached for the floaty scarves and a very nice tambourine. Soon, we'd be known as that weird duo that bled all over the music room and ruined it for everybody with our biohazard issues. I ended up asking for a Band-Aid from the desk so we wouldn't be banished from class.

When I got home, the house looked like the set of a slasher film. The sink was filled with bloody gauze and squished Band-Aids, and every doorway had bloody fingerprints on it. There were a couple small pools of blood on the floor. What is the deal with a tiny finger bleeding that much? And how do you keep a Band-Aid on a toddler? Inquiring moms need to know.

About all that crazy crying: I don't think I'm usually such a wimp in an emergency. I think I was just completely overwhelmed how much this was MY problem and no one else's; a tiny person was bleeding all over my house and I needed to make it stop. Also my panic level kept rising because for the first five minutes I couldn't even see where the blood was coming from. The only thing that kept me from fainting altogether was her nonchalance. She wasn't bothered by the blood at all, and she certainly wasn't in pain from the cut. She's a pretty tough cookie, actually. Unfortunately, her mom is not. ;)

Friday, April 21, 2006

My Mom Rocks

Yesterday was Animal Crackers at Alicia's park, and I was feeling pleased with myself for dressing Jarrah in a new onesie I had purchased just the day before that read "My Mom Rocks." How clever and insouciant am I! And making the most of an age when one's child may be used for free advertising.

So imagine my deflation when I spotted a little boy on the slide wearing a shirt (more masculine, natch) with the exact same message! WHA? And then his mother, trumping my sauciness all to bits, with her matching shirt: "My Baby Rolls."

Readers, this was a tiny park nestled in Carmel Valley, containing perhaps 20 children including our group, and there are two other people sporting the same theme on the same day? I can't even express how much my thunder was stolen.

Eventually the mom, who had perfect nails, a really large diamond and (good heavens) a nanny with her to chaperone Junior on the slide, stopped by to comment on our coincidence. "I guess this was the biggest seller at Target this week!" I said cheerfully. "Oh, ours aren't from Target," she corrected me. "We bought them on the internet, through a small company that supplies Baby Mabel's." Baby Mabels is the kind of store where you could drop $40 on a onesie. "I'll get you their card." And she did, the details of which I will omit here. Then she elaborated: "They have all kinds of messages. She mentioned some, and we oohed and ahhhed over their cuteness. Then she added, "They're kind of gay, but I like them anyway."

Kind of gay? This was an expression I favored in high school, and that I'm now fond of telling people was used to denote anything bad in a time before I realized that if something is gay, it's probably funnier, smarter and more glamorous than other things in the same category.

Moments like this are why we have to keep Animal Crackers so exclusive. ;)

Today I had a wonderfully relaxing, spa-like morning. You want to know what I did to achieve this state? I went to the dentist. That's right: getting my plaque scraped is now akin to 30 minutes in the hot tub with a glass of wine. No one wanted anything more from me than to open my mouth as wide as possible. Of course, I did have to listen to a protracted and tragic tale about the hygienist's adopted cousins, who "turned out bad" and want to get their mitts on her aunt's money as soon as she dies in her home for Alzheimer's. That was lovely. "How old were they when she adopted them?" I asked. "About ten," she said. When I gently pointed out that there may have been some complicated circumstances that led to these boys "turning out bad" despite her aunt's alleged devotion to them, she got kind of quiet and said she'd never thought about that before. Hmmmm.

I was feeling quite dreamy when I arrived at Aaryn's friend Kelly's house, where Aaryn, Kelly and their children were so kindly looking after Jarrah during my absence. Then I heard the crying as I was about to knock. It wasn't the late afternoon "I'm bored and want my dinner" kind of crying. It wasn't the "I've bumped my head" kind of crying. No, readers, it was the old, sad "My world is ending" kind of crying we heard in Chongqing. I lunged into the house to see Jarrah pacing rapidly between Aaryn and Kelly in her pink eyelet hat, tears streaming down her face, arms flailing. Then she spotted me, and hurtled into my arms. I scooped her up and she snuggled her entire body weight into my chest and pressed her ear to my heart. She had the hiccups. She was suddenly silent. I squeezed her for almost a half hour while everyone chatted and played. She could not be persuaded to let go of me. Aaryn said that after David had dropped her off, she waited by the door for quite a while. I think she may have thought we were dropping her off at yet another new home.

I was completely choked up in those first few minutes. At first I thought it was because I felt so bad for her, and for the nice people who had worked hard to comfort her. Then I realized that I was so emotional because I knew she needed me. Already, she needs me. She depends on me. And I don't want to let her down. After a while, she consented to eat some cheese and crackers, and finally to play with a little bike. But she didn't let me out of her sight.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Eggs and Things

I feel funny saying we had an exciting weekend since I almost always say that, but there you go, it was exciting. This whole having a baby thing is just so new and different!

On Saturday we had a visit from my brother, sister-in-law and two nieces, as well as my dad. My nieces are 10 and 7, and I haven't seen them as much as I'd like over the years. Perhaps because of the infrequency of our get-togethers, Stella and Ruby are not totally sure who I am. Stella, the eldest, often calls me Avery, which is my sister's name. But I have to say that on Saturday I found the key, after all this time, to street cred in their eyes. All I needed to do was adopt a Chinese baby. "Chinese babies are all unique in their own way," Stella sighed dreamily as we drove to the zoo. Perhaps they would have been just as excited with a biological niece, but there's no way to be sure. All I know is that David and I finally seemed to make sense to them. Now it's perfectly clear who we are: we are Jarrah's mom and dad. And Jarrah is the bee's knees.

From the moment they arrived, there was fierce competition to hold the baby, carry the baby, push the baby in the stroller. Ruby tried to carry her even though Jarrah weighs almost as much as she does. Add this solicitous attention to Karl and Carrie's desire to bond with their niece, and it added up to David and I barely having to lift a finger all day. We went to lunch and then to the zoo, and it was a glorious time. It felt completely surreal, not just because I was now ferrying a child of my own instead of just functioning as a groupie or roadie for their gang, but also because I must have had at least a dozen conversations with each of my nieces during the course of the day, possibly more than the total of all our conversations up to now. It was so nice, even though it sounds inadequate to say so. I really had the nicest time. And the cherry on the sundae was meeting a woman near the hippos who was playing with her 19-month-old daughter from Hunan and hearing my father (who just can't resist bringing the world together--he's like Coke) tell her "That's my granddaughter" when she noticed Jarrah.

On Sunday, we balanced out Jarrah's week of religious observances (of course that just made me think of The Daily Show's "This Week in God") with her first Easter egg hunt, hosted by Mary's brother and sister-in-law. As you can see, the girls are painfully cute in their Sunday best, though Jarrah looked like The Poor Country Cousin compared to the other girls in her cotton frock from Costco. (Still, I think she could have showed up in a diaper and been irresistable.) There was an amazing set-up with colored plastic eggs filled with goodies on every blade of grass, but the older kids got to most of them without delay. I was laughing until my face hurt as I tried to explain to Jarrah how she could pick up the eggs and put them in the basket. She couldn't quite grasp why she should carry the basket (aren't there parents for that sort of heavy lifting?) and whether it might be safe to touch those bright orbs lying on the ground. The funniest part is that long after the egg hunt had ended and the kids had stashed their booty in favor of video games, Jarrah suddenly got hip to this basket concept and decided that if one basket is good, two or three might be better (hmmm, this is a concept she seems to apply in many areas of her life.) She proceeded to lug every child's basket around the house a few times, spilling them and scrambling their contents as she went along. I could barely stand how adorable it was, though I sincerely hope that no other child was cheated out of his or her rightful number of eggs.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Any Major Life Changes We Should Be Aware Of?

Had my annual today. It's weird that I always call it "my annual" because you'd think I'd reserve that rather general designation for something more pleasant than the time once a year when someone pokes my bits with a cold metal stick.

Anyway, I am irrationally fond of my doc because he performed surgery on me for a "female complaint" a few years ago, and I experienced absolutely no pain or discomfort afterwards. I was fixed and that was that. I decided then and there he was a genius.

But he's also a little goofy. He often answers his own phone with "This is Steve," which cracks me up. He calls me his favorite patient at the same time he's furiously scanning my chart for clues as to who I am and what I want from him. Today he came scurrying into the exam room and hastily shut the door like he was being chased, saying "Thank goodness. I can hide in here." "From what?" I asked. "From those people who always want something from me." Maybe this is just Catskills humor that I am having trouble "getting" while chilling my buns on a metal table and wearing a "capelet" that makes me feel like Holly Hobbie.

The last time I went to my annual, Jarrah was simply a glimmer in the Fed-Ex man's eye. We had just mailed our paperwork, were in the middle of moving, and I was pretty haggard. Kind of like now, but for much different reasons. I told my doc and his staff that we were adopting, and they all said "Oh, you'll be pregnant soon!" Whatever. But it struck me this morning that it is a little weird to show up one year with a flat stomach (silence, please: I'm speaking figuratively, oh no, I did NOT say that...) and the very next with a 15-month-old toddler. Pretty cool, actually. I was in the accelerated program. The gifted program, if you will. (And you must!)

Since I wasn't sure how to broach my motherly glow to my OB/Gyn's office, I decided to just whip out my photo album after processing my co-pay and announce: "And now for pictures of my daughter!" The three front-office nurses have been there a long time, and they were all appropriately coo-ey. Though I didn't even try to foist the entire narrative on them, they studied every page and made lots of satisfying high-pitched exclamations. During the excitement, my doctor drifted through the room, and glanced over their shoulders for about one second with a half-smile before moving on. I didn't think much of it, since I assumed we'd have an extended viewing session in the exam room, albeit while I was scantily clad.

When that moment arrived, one of these nurses asked him "Did you see her beautiful baby?" and he sort of yelped, "It's so cute!" There was a pinprick of silence before the nurse replied, louder this time and a bit strenuously, "SHE is beautiful!" I just smiled in what I hoped was an unspecific way, but knowing my freaky rubber face, was probably conveying a dozen variations of surprise, annoyance and disgust as quickly as a passing rain cloud.

I'm still not sure what was going on with that--maybe doctors who deliver babies quickly learn to favor gender-neutral pronouns so as to minimize the risk of offending their patients with an untimely gaffe? Anyway, I think what was really bothering me is that, with this statement, he was done appreciating my baby. There were no further viewings of photos, no questions about her myriad talents and accomplishments. And to add insult to injury, he whipped a wrinkled photo of his two-year-old granddaughter out of his white coat pocket (while I had no pants on, mind you) and made me admire it several times! What chutzpah!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Good Pesach

Here are some photos of Jarrah at her first Passover seder, in her second party dress since we've met her (this one also purchased in Guangzhou, and yes, also featuring a cherry motif.) You can see my dad and my sister Lindsey here, too.

Jarrah is turning out to be a better Jewish girl than I am. For one thing, she actually enjoys gefilte fish. I can barely look at the mini-meatloaf-shaped mound of compressed fish parts, but she has eaten nearly a whole lump at each of the two seders we've attended. She's also a fan of the well-formed matzah ball, and the mushy goodness of charoses (for the uninitiated, this is a tasty blend of minced apples, walnuts, cinnamon and wine, but it looks like chopped liver.)

She's also been surprisingly keen on matzah, and is in fact enjoying a board as I type this. I've been giving it to her plain, but today I put some yogurt spread on there and that might have been a mistake. So far she's just holding the pieces up to her face and licking up the buttery stuff. Not exactly a balanced breakfast.

Jarrah is "keeping Pesach" (not eating foods that are leavened, or made with flour and then baked) when we are at home but yesterday I realized that it was sort of cruel to limit her carbs when we are out and about and someone is always offering her a chunk of bun. Anyway, I really don't know the rules, having never had a baby before: at what age should they begin shunning chometz (this is the word for the aforementioned verboten leavened goodies during the holiday) and would I be creating a health risk by feeding her eight days of matzah? Quite frankly, it always starts to feel like a health risk for me, like I might die of atrophied taste buds.

This week Jarrah has gotten to spend some quality time with her Aunties Jane and Beth, who treat her like a queen, luring her with toys and treats, and turning her upside down as much as she likes. We've had some rain and been limited in our trips to the park, but there's lots to do inside when you have three or four "nannies" all competing for your attention. We will be having still more visitors today, when Jarrah gets to meet her Uncle Karl (my brother), Aunt Carrie and cousins Stella and Ruby for the first time--they are driving down to visit us. Hope the rain holds off.

I've begun to feel, in small increments, a little less afraid of Jarrah. That might sound weird, but she has such a big personality with so many irrational manifestations that I have sort of been treating her like a python or a tiger--very impressive and rather beautiful but a creature you want to be careful not to piss off. I was always lunging for a handful of Cheerios or the remote that brought forth the Teletubbies because I didn't want to be found lacking and punished.

But I've begun to realize that her outbursts really don't last, and that I am likely to have a few screams no matter how fast I move or what moment I choose for the nap. And with that realization, I've become more relaxed. It helps me to breathe through the bad spells rather than cowering to avoid them. After all, I am bigger, and at least nominally, I am the boss. This lesson in parenthood has helped my stress level tremendously, and, at least, is a useful rationalization. ;)

My next lesson will need to be a more contented acceptance of my new lifestyle. I am really having trouble saying no to things that I actually would like to be doing, like adding more NIA classes when I'm asked, seeing new movies that come out, teaching my workshop, rejoining my writing group, and all the other little things that I've come to believe shape and define me and add a sense of fulfillment to my life. I often feel really guilty that, at least so far, full-time childcare doesn't seem to meet all my needs for personal satisfaction. I've heard parents talk about the joy they experience in spending all day with their children, teaching them things, watching their reactions to the world. Believe me, I do find many of these things amazing, but experiencing the world through Jarrah's eyes doesn't feel like "it" to me. I don't end there. It's not a "You complete me" situation. ;) I'm not sure another person can complete me, because another person is just that: another person. While it may sound cliched to say that I have to be myself, I think I'm finding that I do need that, at least some of the time. My friend Lisa at UMass (oh, how I miss her; I don't know where she is anymore) said once that one of her writing teachers told her students that the kind of fiction that disgusted her the most was a genre she had named "The Wonder of Me." Hee! I always found this hilarious, probably because I'm sure that most everything I've ever written falls into this category. ;)

Anyway, for now, I am spending all my time with Jarrah, and learning to say no to a lot of other things, which does not come naturally. I am a yes-er. I say yes to things, most of the time, before I even think about it, and certainly without checking a calendar. I'm sure I've always said yes too much, and now I must say "no" as my first response; "yes" would be a future negotiation that would have to be mulled over and discussed. I will either get used to this, or eventually I'll find a way to take a few hours during the week for the wonder of me.