May 31, 2013

random thoughts: the beginning of speech

This morning my son looked at me and asked me "Thegilthe?"

What the flip is that supposed to mean? I had no answer. I think I offered him some milk.

what a long, wonderful trip it was

We just spent five days and nights in southern California, visiting friends and family (I grew up there). I think this was an excellent study in reality vs. fear of the unknown. I’m always afraid the worst will happen when we travel or do something out of the ordinary, and I’m almost always pleasantly surprised and feel a bit silly for worrying so much. Almost.

I booked our trip months in advance – at first it was seven nights, but after a couple of months I had a crisis of conscience (I knew we’d be sleeping in a double bed and sharing the small bedroom with the boy), and reduced our stay to five nights. Boy am I glad I did – my son came down with an ear infection and we were in the doctor’s office on the day when we were originally scheduled to leave.

Then I worried about where my son would sleep. I found a service online that rents everything you can think of to make your baby or toddler comfortable – so I booked a crib and a changing table (since Junior is fond of flipping around like a fish out of water during changing times). I booked a rental car and a car seat so we wouldn’t be burdened with carrying it around the airport.

All I can say is, holy shit it’s expensive to travel with a little one. But they aren’t little for long. Next time I think I’ll bite the bullet and haul the car seat with us to save $65. That thing was definitely road-tested and I don’t think he was very comfortable in it.

Teething was another issue. He’s breaking in the last lower canine, and I had forgotten to pack teething gel or something to chew on. I did, however, have plenty of baby ibuprofen on hand which saved our sanity. Good thing they have stores in CA.

Despite the teething, expenses, and ear infection we had to deal with, we had a wonderful time. The boy slept great for the most part (we kind of ignored him when he started babbling at 5 a.m.), and we spent our days watching him soak up the generous affection of grandparents, cousins, and other relatives that took to him as quickly as he took to them. It was a beautiful thing, really.

One of the highlights was introducing him to his cousin who was born through the miracle of IUI about 12 hours before him. Seeing those boys together felt like a dream, like God was just beaming a big smile on our whole family and laughing at their antics along with us. (Until I told my aunt and uncle we were pregnant, we had no idea their son and his wife had endured infertility issues - imagine our shock in realizing our somewhat parallel journeys to parenthood!)

Like all trips, we were grateful to get home and everyone went to bed early that evening. And, like all time spent with family, we felt the pang that comes with the understanding that we all live so scattered from each other (except for my mom, and we thank God every day she’s here). The good thing is, we’re all about a two-hour plane ride from each other so it’s not too hard to book a visit.

Now we just need a big enough house to give them an incentive to come see us.

The day before we left, my stepmom gently asked if we’d be having another baby (can’t blame her for hoping). I affectionately looked my dad in the eye and said “There isn’t enough wine or coffee in the world, Dad. Sorry.” We honestly think we’re just too freaking old – starting a family after 40 is really, really, REALLY tiring – instead, we’re packing our son’s life (and ours) with playdates, church friends, and a really great daycare that we hope will become his school later on.  And, when he’s potty trained, probably a dog.

Here's one of my favorite photos taken on the trip. We went for a walk in a park surrounded by old oak trees, and he's wearing a t-shirt with a cape that the grandfolks bought him - it's so cute I can't stand it! There's something so adorable about this shot, something about boyhood and fatherhood that I can't quite put my finger on. I love it.

a tiny moment of beauty

Last night, I put my son to bed the usual way: Brushed his teeth (a sure way to make him scream until the very second I stop and praise him for doing a good job), changed him into his jammies, read a book with him, and then turned off the light while I rocked him in my lap and sang a lullaby. I laid him down in his crib and, instead of immediately rolling over, he looked up at me with his eyes wide open. I stared back at him in wonder -- it was as if he was memorizing my face, burning it into his brain. I caressed his cheeks and told him to go to sleep, and then he rolled over.

Just one tiny moment of beauty and wonder.

May 21, 2013

the indy 500 diaper change

Yesterday, the three of us were sitting in a restaurant with a friend (okay, tasting room of a local brewery where you can call a restaurant and have them deliver your food), and I mentioned the story of a couple at a Starbucks who decided to quickly change their baby’s diaper in the seating area since there was no changing table in either restroom (more on that here) and got treated pretty poorly – an employee tossed a rag at them and told them to clean up after themselves. 

Then, to my chagrin, I realized the boy needed a change himself. I assessed the situation in the women’s room – the single room was big enough to fit a rhinoceros but had no stall and no changing table; just a filthy concrete floor crawling with dust bunnies. I came back and DH and I decided to conquer this as a team.

Here’s how I envision the diaper changing if we could do it Indy 500 style, which we did:
  1. Lock the door
  2. Person 1 holds the child standing in the air
  3. Person 2 pulls down the pants, unfastens and removes the diaper, disposes of the diaper (Quick! We don’t want the child to pee on Person 1), grabs the fresh diaper, fastens it on the child, pulls on the pants, and puts the socks and shoes back on.
  4. Both persons tell the child he’s doing a Great Job! Such a good boy! Wow!
  5. Persons emerge 30 seconds later with freshly-diapered and slightly bewildered child.

But, you know, more often than not there is no Person 2 to help you accomplish this feat. That’s why public places with restrooms that are bigger than my bedroom (or any size, for that matter) should really invest a teensy bit of funds into a changing table. Really. No, REALLY. You’re doing the general public a big favor and admitting that small children do, in fact, exist. Even in tasting rooms. 

random thoughts: perfectly normal

Just sit in this phrase for a bit and consider it's wisdom: Perfectly normal.

May 16, 2013

constantly adjusting expectations

That's what parenthood is really about, isn't it? I mean, we all wonder what our baby will be like. Then we wonder when he'll sleep through the night, and eventually wish he'd go back to sleeping through the night. There's the ever-evolving body changes, food and beverage preferences, behavior changes that are wonderful to witness and often puzzling to say the least (Really? You're crying because I put you on the changing table?).

The more I research, the more I have to relearn the fact that I have to change right along with my son if I want to stay sane. I've been torturing myself over what to feed my suddenly-picky toddler and searching endlessly for meal ideas for picky toddlers. Then, this morning, I came across this little gem: "...a child who opened wide during the first year may become suddenly obstinate at some point during the second year, often between 12 and 18 months of age... This normal behavioral development is a nearly universal source of (usually unnecessary) worry for parents. Ensuring that toddlers really get what they need to eat has a lot to do with adjusting parental expectations." (emphasis mine)

Note to self: Okay, take a deep breath and remember your kid is NORMAL. He won't be doomed to a lifetime of fries and ketchup, dairy and crunchy, diabetes and high blood pressure, just because he goes through a phase of whatever the heck this is.

May 15, 2013

more on feeding the one year old

I'm flummoxed. Baffled. Bewildered. Even flabbergasted.

I thought the boy was into a variety of foods. Maybe it's the cafeteria food he's eating at daycare for lunch (which I'm convincing myself breeds picky eaters). Maybe it's because toddlers don't grow nearly as fast and just aren't very hungry and therefore have the luxury of being picky. Maybe he's just too tired to care about food by the time dinner rolls around. But this kid can barely entertain the notion of eating something that isn't dairy or crunchy. (Yes, I just used a noun like a verb for the sake of rhyming.)

I have this fantasy in my head that we're going to raise an adventurous eater; a kid who loves going out to restaurants and actually eats something besides mac & cheese and isn't instead predisposed to flick food onto the floor while my husband goes apoplectic with embarrassment and frustration.

Maybe that's the problem: the fantasy in my head doesn't match my toddler's eating whims.

Every day, I'm charged with deciding what's for dinner. In that decision I take into account whether the boy will eat it. Usually the answer is no. At this point, I either change my mind or have a backup plan. Usually the backup plan is enacted.

Last night was no exception. I placed him in his booster, presented him with some seaweed, watched him flick it to the floor, broke out the crunchies as the backup, watched him eat a handful of these, gave him seaweed a second time and watched him eat them with no problem, grabbed a few chunks of chicken (flick), carrots (yum), more seaweed (yum), cheese (double-yum), followed by some chunks of orange (sort-of yum, one flick). Determining that the last flick meant he was full, I gave him his milk. He had a few sips, then tossed it to the floor. I called dinner done at that point, and he held out his hands at that point for me to pick him up. I try to remember to smile so he doesn't think he's disappointing me.

Every day is a secret combination-decoding process that I am determined to solve. However, I'm learning how to live with the fact that, often, I don't solve the puzzle and just move on to the next day.

Maybe he'd like a finely-diced lasagna? I could certainly go for that. Maybe I should just feed him dairy, crunchies, and baby food until he's 5 years old - at least that way he'd get some veggies in that cute little belly!

Any suggestions?

random thoughts: sleeping

I wonder if the Proverbs 31 mother/wife/business owner extraordinaire ever had trouble sleeping, or if she was just so exhausted at the end of every day that she fell into a coma for 6 hours a night? sigh...

May 12, 2013

happy older mother's day (video)

DH actually found this and showed it to me. It gave me a warm grin. Please enjoy.

May 10, 2013

amazing mountains

Tuesday evening, our water heater went out.  Thankfully, we didn’t realize this until after we gave our son a bath (granted, it wasn’t quite as warm as usual, but he survived).

That evening I took a sponge bath with water heated on the stove. The next evening, I took a shower at our recreation center. Thursday, I didn’t bother. I was determined to get the thing replaced that day.

Thursday morning, I came home after dropping off the boy at daycare to find DH on the floor with a pile of rags. Turns out the broken water heater let loose a bunch of water which leaked into the hallway, into our son’s room, into the dining area, and even into the drywall in the spare bathroom. Instead of saying anything, I opened my mouth and started crying into my hands.

You see, as we discovered shortly after replacing this floor not two years ago, the cheap crap we bought from the enthusiastic and uninformative sales person is part particle board underneath. Read: moisture travels fast if it gets underneath. It got underneath and crept like the plague across our floor. Our floor is now ruined. The entire thing (hallway, dining/living room) has to be replaced.

The contractor, whom we adore because he’s honest and straightforward (and unfortunately didn't know before buying this floor), stopped by to assess the damage and outline next steps. The boards will be removed, the concrete floor will be sanitized to prevent mold, and dryers will be set up to dry the surface before the new floor can be installed. Depending on how many days it takes the floor to dry and how long it takes to get the new flooring in, this whole process could take weeks. WEEKS. In the meantime, the insurance adjuster is coming over today to see if he can agree with the contractor on what needs to be done. I’m just praying for God’s providence, which I’ve already seen in the man from our church who was able to come and install a new water heater yesterday (just in time for us to shower and wash a LOT of dishes before bed).

I wouldn’t care so much about the timeline except for the vision of this little red-headed boy crawling around on cement surrounded by dryers. For days. Maybe longer. Will we need to stay at my mom’s for part of this disaster? Maybe. Who knows.

Funny how life’s little hurdles become giant mountains when you’re trying to keep things sane for the sake of a little one.

This morning, I walked into my son’s room to get him up (I could hear him babbling in there). He saw me, sat up, and smiled big as the moon like he does every morning. We talked about whether he slept well as I changed him, handed him his toothbrush, and got him ready for daycare. I gave him his milk, brushed his hair, and started dinner in the slow cooker. It's been a good morning after a really hard week.

Every hardship is worth it. Motherhood is completely amazing even when I’m scaling mountains.

May 8, 2013

random thoughts: working rhythms

Last week I had almost nothing to do at work, and it was horrible. Today I have tons of work to do, but I'm surfing the Web looking for meaningless pieces of information about nothing in particular, procrastinating against the very thing I was dying to have a few days ago. Apparently I'm lazy when I am busy. That's my working rhythm.

May 7, 2013

random thoughts: juggling it all

Never mind juggling it all: I now consider it a success if I’m able to stay on top of meals and laundry – the rest can kiss my bottom.

toughing it out

“Overall, I think this was a pretty successful day,” my mom said. It was Monday, which is the weekday I have chosen to stay home with my son and give him one less day in daycare. She came over early that morning, and we shared some coffee cake and coffee before heading to a hardware store. After the store we headed to her place, and my son took a 1.5-hour nap. While he was sleeping, we poked around in her backyard, and I ended up sawing off a couple sections of tree roots that were pushing up patio bricks. Actually, I was kind of surprised I could do it so easily – proof that picking up a 25-pound kiddo about 342 times a day really bulks up arm strength.  After his nap and lunch, we stopped at the grocery store and then back to my place. She left to take care of some other business. And it was me and the boy until DH got home.

I’m not sure why, but Mondays have become incredibly exhausting for me. Maybe it’s picking him up so often (since he’s not walking yet). Maybe it’s managing him through the things-he-should-stay-out of, irregular teething pain fits, trips to the store or wherever else I can take him to get out of the house, fixing dinner, planning dinner, changing diapers while trying to keep him from jumping off the changing table… On second thought, it’s becoming clear to me why I’m so tired by 6:00 Monday evening.

I must be complaining about this a lot, because DH is starting to suggest that I consider going back to work Mondays and extending our son’s daycare to five days a week. I have a pang of guilt mixed with determination whenever he suggests it, though: guilt because I know how important it is for my son to have more time with us at such an early age; determination because… well, I guess I’m determined to tough it out.

I’m beginning to wonder if I can survive my own determination. It’s an odd type of tiredness I feel, like there’s not enough coffee in the world in the morning, not enough wine in the evening (though I keep that in check, too), and I can’t get to bed early enough. It makes me fully aware of my midlife status, as much as I resent the implication that somehow it’s okay to feel older and therefore weaker. A quick look at the bags under my eyes only confirms the obvious. I’m just not as physically resilient as I once was, and taking care of myself is more critical to my well-being and my ability to handle life’s demands.

I checked in with my best girlfriend, and she assures me that things will calm down when he gets a bit older – say, four. By that time, my son will be done with the odd napping and the teething and at least some of the tantrums (not to mention being potty-trained). I’ll probably be more intellectually tired then, but that seems more doable. In the meantime, I guess yoga is my second best friend. I’m in it for the long haul.

May 3, 2013

what to do when your child is crying

Run through the mental list: Diaper? No. Hungry? No. Teething? Possibly. Randomly cranky with no foreseeable resolution? Getting warmer.

Distract by walking outside.

Fix a Manhattan.

Sing a nursery rhyme.

Put the child down so he can bang his fists on the floor and get it out of his system.

Stare at him in disbelief.

Stare at your partner in disbelief.

Stare at your Manhattan in disbelief.

Cuddle the child. Maybe he’s hurt or in pain.

Hear your child scream all the louder because you accidentally squeezed him a little too hard.

Sit down with him.

Stand up with him.

Hand him a cracker. Peace in the universe at last.