Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Cross your fingers.

I haven't thrown up in four days.

Every minute of not-throwing-up has been precious. I've already forgotten what a toilet looks like from only 8 inches away.

Please, PLEASE, you guys, knock on wood that this lasts.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck ...

True story:

The other day I was getting dressed, and I opened my lingerie drawer and realized that all my clean underwear was in the dryer. Where it was CLEARLY not of much use to my naked self. Now that we live on a golf course, and there is a steady stream of golfers lollygagging their way past our back yard and getting fairly close to our iron fence (depending on how bad they are), the naked dryer-dash is a thing of the past. So I did what any sensible naked pregnant woman would do: I turned to my husband.

"Honey, would you go out to the dryer and get me a pair of underwear? I need a maternity pair."

Good-natured and ever-willing as always, he answered, "Sure. How will I know which are the maternity pair?"

"Just grab the biggest pair of panties you've ever seen."

He chuckled and trotted out. When he returned, he sported a half-sheepish, half-amused look that made me go, "What?"

"Well, let's just say you weren't kidding."

"Yeah. So?"

"Well, you know what else you weren't? WRONG."

Seriously. Maternity underwear are not LINGERIE. I should stop calling my skivvies drawer by that name, and just call it what it is: the place where I keep granny panties you could also use as sails.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Weaned. (Wait, what?!)

I looked at my 22-month-old son today and realized that I cannot recall the last time he nursed.

I had a moment's panic over that. See, I'd always thought that I'd give up breastfeeding only reluctantly, that I would clutch my sleepy toddler to me and sob during what I knew to be the last time, that I would miss it and mourn its passing. In fact, I originally planned to tandem-nurse boy and this next baby, and only started scaling back boy's nursing when I realized that 1) nursing while pregnant was making me dehydrated and therefore even more prone to nausea, and 2) if I added breastfeeding-sharing to all the other sibling-factors that boy was already going to have to deal with when the baby arrived, I was probably only making it harder for him in the long run. Anyway, it came as a bit of a shock to me that The Last Time had come and gone without commemoration of some kind.

The truth is, I guess we were both ready for the end. Boy had gotten down to only some token nursing before he fell asleep (at nap- and bedtime), and he was prone to twisting around, pinching me while he partook, and fiddling with my hair and clothes in a way that wasn't *exactly* the idyllic nursing of an older child that I'd envisioned. I'd pretty much had enough of the biting and pulling and pinching and bra-strap-snapping. It was kind of like trying to nurse a rambunctious puppy with the social habits of a seventh-grader.

Still, though, I find that I'm a little heartbroken. And it's because this is just one more of the many countless times or experiences in my son's life that I will never, ever be able to get back again. I can't hold him again as a newborn or a six-month-old. I can't ever again watch him learn to crawl or walk. The soft spot that once graced the top of his head is long since grown closed. He doesn't have that BABY smell anymore. The movements of his hands are deliberate and accurate now, and while watching him maneuver a toy car down his garage ramp is a symphony of beauty to me, I miss the hiccup-y wavings of his once-chubby fists.

I really thought, when I looked forward to becoming a mother, that once my child came to me, I wouldn't have to start letting go of him until he walked away from me on his first day of school. But that was naive and short-sighted. I know that now. The truth is that the second he was born, he started growing and changing in ways that I had to see, acknowledge, and release into the world. As much as I try to recognize the fact that my son isn't truly mine, but God's -- as much as I try to understand that he's come THROUGH me into the world, not TO me -- sometimes it's just impossible.

Sometimes I just want to hug my baby and hold him tight to me and never let him go.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The many sides of ME. Or maybe just the one side.

Ways in which I'm a buttoned-up prude:
  • I always wear my seat belt, even if I'm just moving my car so my husband can pull his out of the garage.
  • I read the directions that come with IKEA furniture, microwave frozen dinners and LEGO toy sets.
  • I have never seen or touched pot. No idea what it's even supposed to look like. Totally serious.
  • I sort laundry and read the washing instructions on tags.
  • I can never fully enjoy getting a massage because I always feel guilty that the therapist has to work so hard.
  • I've never skinny-dipped, been drunk or snuck into anyone's yard to jump in their pool.
Ways in which I live dangerously:
  • I never, ever check my microwaved meals with a food thermometer when the instructions say, "Food should be fully cooked, and should reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees."
  • I don't floss regularly.
  • I will eat leftover sandwiches that I forgot to put in the fridge the night before.
  • I'll drink milk one or even two days past the expiration date on the carton.
  • I regularly drive five or ten miles above the speed limit when on highways, if it's with the flow of traffic, and seems relatively safe.

I don't think that second list makes the point I thought it would.

The nicest note I ever got from a stranger

This note renewed my faith in the generosity of the human spirit. Thank you, kind friend, for sending this to me via Facebook. (Personal data has been edited out to protect everyone's privacy.)

Hi there! I think maybe you've heard of me, I'm [a friend of your brother's]. On several occasions [your brother] has pointed me to your blog for an amusing post or adorable photo. One of those times I bookmarked it and return to read it often, because all of the posts are amusing, and all of the photos adorable. I think you are an amazing writer, and I really enjoy reading your posts.

I decided to write here because I don't have a blogspot account or a blog, but I wanted you to know that a few more prayers and good thoughts are coming your way for your pregnancy and new little one. The short prayer at the end of your "On the mend" post was really touching. I am hopeful that you all will be feeling your best very soon. I can see that you've had a rough couple weeks on top of a difficult few months, and I hoped some added prayers might help. Best wishes for you and your family!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

I couldn't make this up.

True story:

My husband walked into the powder room the other day to do his thing. Boy followed him in, and parked himself (fully clothed) on his little white Baby Bjorn potty. "Potty!" he dutifully exclaimed, and his daddy affirmed that yes, he was indeed on a potty and yes, daddy was using the potty too. As my husband was washing his hands, the boy then stood up from his little, never-been-used potty seat, turned around to face it, and leaned over it. Grasping the back of it with one hand, he yelled, "Cough!", made a gagging noise, and spit into it.

My pregnancy has scarred him for life.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Next thing you know, we'll be discussing an exit strategy from Afghanistan

Actual conversation between boy and husband, by phone, yesterday afternoon:

Husband: "Hi, son!"
Boy: "Hi, dad!"
H: "Did you have a good day?"
B: "Det!" [Translation: YES!]
H: "What did you do today?"
B: "Mmm ... ABG! Ticket! Balls!" [Translation: We went to HEB! And the cashier gave me a Buddy Buck ("ticket")! And I used it to win clear plastic crap-tastic balls with stickers inside!]
H: "Wow! Did you have fun?"
B: "Det!"
H: "And what did you have for lunch?"
B: "Fries! Ranch! Chech-up!" [Editor's note: He also had a grilled cheese sandwich. Not sure why he chose to omit the entree from the re-telling.]
H: "Did you watch any shows today?"
B: "Boo coos! George! Sid kid!" [Translation: Blue's Clues, Curious George, and Sid the Science Kid. If you think that's too much TV for a not-yet-two-year-old, you can bite me. And read this post about my nausea.]
H: "Do you love your dad?"
B: "Det!"
H: "Ok. I'll be home soon. Love you!"
B: "Ee ooo, dad!" [Translation: Love you, dad!]

Monday, November 16, 2009

An open letter to my nausea

Dear nausea,

I hate you.

Please understand -- this is not the immature, fifteen-year-old "I hate you" utterance that erupts when teenagers decide their parents are evil. This is not the ironic "I hate you" that you say when your best friend tells you she's lost 15 pounds. This is not even the more heartfelt "I hate you" that drivers mutter to the idiots who are inching along in traffic ahead of them -- the ones who keep slamming on their brakes for no apparent reason. See, none of those are really sincere. Those utterings are either regretted later or just not said with enough personal knowledge and history to be taken seriously.

Hear me when I tell you -- I mean it. I know you well. We have lots of history. And I'm very sincere.

You probably aren't taking me seriously. You're figuring it's a pregnancy-induced fit of rage, one fueled by a few months of daily intimacy with you. I'll admit that the last three months have brought things to a head, but the truth is, I've known you all my life. Any time my body or emotions were the least bit out of balance, you would show up. Bad migraine? Pukey. Fever? Nauseous. Ate too much? Gack. Worried about the SAT tomorrow morning? FACE IN TOILET. You have been an unwelcome part of my life for far too long, and I am determined to speak my mind once and for all.

I'm tired of you. You're the reason my 21-month-old watches more TV than I ever thought I'd let him watch -- because some days, the only 30 minutes I am free of you are the ones during which I lay in bed after we wake up and I let him watch "Curious George" or "Sid the Science Kid" on PBS. If I can manage to turn the TV and cable on, and get to the right channel, all while remaining perfectly flat, I can sometimes delay the inevitable dash to the toilet by a few precious moments. You're the reason that same amazing kid has learned to plead with me, "Mom play!" -- because some days I'm so listless from a morning spent with you that all I can muster is the energy required to recline on the couch in the playroom, WATCHING him maneuver his trains around the train table rather than helping him do it. You're the reason my neighbors think I'm a recluse -- because I'm afraid to talk to them for fear of retching in the middle of our conversations on the sidewalks in front of our homes. You're the reason my husband has to juggle not only his 60-hour-a-week job, but also more than his share of the household maintenance, along with the parenting we both want and expect him to do. You're the reason my mom sometimes sadly hangs up the phone after talking to me, because I can't scrape together the enthusiasm to chat the way we always have. You know, LIKE A NORMAL ADULT. You're the reason I had to bypass the dinner I'd made for myself tonight -- wheat pasta with red sauce -- AND the dinner my husband kindly made me -- my favorite frozen pizza, baked and sliced and arranged invitingly on a plate -- for a honey bun and two Oreos. You're the reason that some evenings, I cry. Because I'm tired of hanging out with you. Tired of greeting you every morning and trudging with you through the day and laying down with you at night. Tired of pushing through and past you to do the things I should be able to do, the things I want to do, or at least a passable fraction of those things, like run around with my son. Or shower AND brush my teeth on the same day.

You drain me of almost everything that makes me feel like me.

So, eff you, nausea. (The only reason I'm not using the word I'm screaming in my head is because my mother reads this blog.) Eff you and your stupid, omnipresent self. I want you to leave. I never want to see you again. The only reason I've put up with you this long is because I want this baby so badly, and if you have to come along for the ride, then I'll deal. But you know what? I'm in my second trimester now. I'm done with you. There's no more reason for you to hang around. So shove it. Hard.

And take your stinky ginger ale with you. Never effing worked, anyway.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

On the mend

It can't have been more than a week ago that my husband and I were remarking on our tremendous luck, in that boy had never been seriously ill. We'd dealt with a few runny noses and random low-grade fevers, but overall, we had really been fortunate. Our conversation was just the sign God was looking for that we needed to be reminded that we are not in control, because two days ago, boy was definitely out of sorts. I chalked it up to the fact that his second birthday was approaching, and that he was just trying out the whole expressing-an-opinion-forcefully idea, but in retrospect, I'll bet he was already feeling punky. I was also feeling worse than usual -- my pregnancy-related nausea and vomiting were making themselves more than known after about a week of lessening symptoms. Their return to full force was not welcome. All in all, we did NOT have a good day.

And then yesterday, I woke up next to a sick kid.

When I opened my eyes in the morning, I didn't really notice much out of the ordinary, except that boy made a couple of strange burping noises I'd never heard him make before. He didn't seem to be bothered, though, so as I got up to head for the bathroom myself, I didn't think much of it. The wave of nausea that hit me halfway there was just. Wrong. As I stood bent over in the bathroom, trying to keep my knees from buckling from the sheer intensity of the sickness, I remember thinking, "Whoa. What the heck is up with THIS?"

Despite the relatively alarming strength of the experience, the basic act was nothing new to boy or myself -- it's how we start all our mornings these days, with boy hollering, "Mom cough? Mom ok?" from the other room -- so I got cleaned up, washed my hands, and went to truck boy out to his high chair for breakfast. As I rounded the bed, he started being sick himself. I wasn't really all too shocked, I have to say, based on my newly-in-perspective sickness myself and his burping, so luckily I was pretty calm.

(If you have a weak stomach, you may want to skip the rest of this. Please know I'm not trying to be intentionally gross -- it was just a very vivid moment. It was kind of a defining moment in my motherhood experience, if you will.)

I've seen people get sick before. My mom took care of children in our home for many years, and I've been around my share of miserably ill kids. Anyone who watches MTV these days is bound to see someone throw up. It's no mystery. But there's something particularly rough about it when it's your baby who's sick, your child who's at the mercy of a body rejecting a bug. The force of his retching made him almost go limp, and it was so relentless that for a few seconds at a time, he couldn't draw a breath. It seemed to go on forever, and as he fought to breathe through it, arching his back as he started to panic, I felt more helpless than I have ever felt in my life. All I could do was hold him upright with a towel under his chin, and tell him it was ok, he was doing fine, mommy's here, just get it out, let the yuckies out and it would be all over. My little champ got through it, and sat panting and sweating as he recovered. He never once cried. I asked him if he was ok, and he said, quietly, "Det." That's his version of "Yes." It had never sounded more pitiful.

I scooped him up, and we headed for a room without carpet, as I had the feeling this wasn't going to be the last time we went through it. I called my husband, and my mom, letting them know what was going on, and consulting over whether a trip to the doctor was in order. As I was hanging up with my husband, another wave of nausea hit me. I ran to the powder room with the little guy in my arms, sat him just outside of it, and basically buckled. As he listened to me, he would cry out, "Mom?" Like, "What the hell, lady? Are you gonna die or what? 'Cause you don't sound too reassuring, if you know what I mean." All I could do was try to tell him, "Mommy's ok!" between retches. THAT'S when I knew it was bad.

I decided to just try him on some water once I got him into his high chair, instead of his regular breakfast. The sip he took stayed down for nine minutes, and again I had to witness his full-body retching, his gasps to get in air between the spasms. When his pediatrician's office opened at 8:30, I called and got us an appointment for 11, their first available. The hours from 6:45 to 8:30, when I could finally reach someone, and then the wait from 8:35 to 11, seemed like an eternity. For some of the time, I let him sit in his high chair and watch Sesame Street on my computer. My sick little guy insisted on sitting with his beloved Monkey and Pig tucked around him, and I didn't get any smiles that morning.

After it was clear neither of us would be eating anything, we went upstairs to his playroom to divert him from his misery. I thought the sight of his beloved "car-trucks" would inspire him to play a little, but all he did was lay on the floor and say, "Mom? Tired."

If any of you have met my son, you know that this is as unlike him as it is possible to get.

He threw up once more, then fell asleep in my arms. I let him snooze until it was time to leave for the doctor's office. My amazing husband came to drive us there so that I could sit in the back seat with boy in case he threw up again and started choking in his car seat. Normally a garrulous traveler ("Mom! Big bus! Yellow bus. White car?"), he sat silently, a small toy clutched in each hand, although he had no energy to actually play with either. He allowed himself to be carried into the doctor's office waiting room, where he sat listlessly on our laps. He then wailed through his entire examination, where we learned that yes, indeed -- he had a stomach virus. I was tremendously thankful for the fact that he had no fever or other symptoms, but the vomiting was worrying me, because by that time, he'd had NO fluids since 8 pm the night before. That was 16 hours of no fluids for my little guy, and that seemed alarming to me.

Luckily we got a prescription for some amazing medicine (yay, Zofran!) and it put a stop to his vomiting almost immediately. He slept all the way home, had some Gatorade and a cracker once we got there, and then took ANOTHER nap for an hour and a half. The rest of the day was spent regulating how much food and water he took in -- he wanted WAY more than I thought prudent to let him have -- and then he collapsed into bed before 9 pm.

I'm happy to report that he's now doing MUCH better, and has a newfound love of chicken soup with alphabet noodles. ("Mom! Eat Ps? Eat D! More Q. Mom find! Find K!!") I seem to have fought off my own stomach virus too, and we're slowly getting back to normal. But I'll never forget the feeling of holding my very sick boy in my arms, listless and miserable, and feeling powerless to do anything to make him feel better.

Lord, thank You for the blessing of the health of this family. Thank You for watching over us and touching us with Your love and protection. Please watch over us as we continue to mend. Protect us and our loved ones from illness and injury and pain. Help us to do Your work.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Incoherent ramblings on the nature of parenting

I've finally been able to articulate the basic gist of my parenting philosophy. It came to me in a flash the other day. And I'm still working on it -- I imagine that this will be more or less in some sort of flux as the boy and I and his daddy grow and change, but this is what it is at its heart.

I think a lot of people look at children and want to make them into who they think they're supposed to be. And maybe some kids need that. I don't know. But I believe that children come to you ALREADY THEMSELVES. They're hardwired with some personality traits and characteristics and such. Even if I didn't believe that before, I believe it now. And what I think most shapes my parenting is the deeply-seeded (-seated?) belief on my part that my job isn't to change who my son is. I can guide him and help him develop healthy habits -- eating right, sleeping well, being polite and respectful, taking care of himself -- but my job isn't to make him into a "real" person. On the contrary -- my job is to learn who he already is, and glean from him how best to guide and teach him. And maybe even more importantly, it's to learn from him whatever he has to teach me. These days, he has much to teach me about patience and consistence. We've entered the "no" phase ahead of schedule (with his particular twist on it being "no like it!!") and the days have become more of a challenge than before.

Now, don't get me wrong. When I say I want to learn from my child, I don't mean I intend to let him walk all over me. I know that children need boundaries to make sense of the world. They need to be shown what's off-limits, like hitting and biting. And taking your cousin's favorite horsey stuffed animal and refusing to give it back. (Let's not do THAT again, buddy.) I'm good with boundaries.

Maybe I just got lucky, and God sent me a child who responds well to the approach I've taken. I don't know. He's just SO AWESOME. He's funny and adaptable and laughs a lot. He calls his cars and trucks by the useful hybrid "car-trucks." He loves his stuffed pig and his stuffed monkey, and looks for them every night before bed. "Mom? Pig monkey?" He gives kisses to his mom and dad when asked. He loves to watch squirrels in the yard ("Oh, wow!") and he says please and thank you, sometimes even without being reminded.

Yeah. I probably just got really lucky. Maybe I don't have it figured out after all.

Never mind.

Friday, October 30, 2009


It's 5:30 a.m. I've been awake since 4:15. There is no good reason for this fact. Besides the one about being pregnant.

Things I've thought about over the last hour and fifteen minutes:
  • How much of the three pounds I've lost since becoming pregnant is due to sheer dehydration. This was wondered while actually throwing up.
  • Whether Steve from Blue's Clues truly draws the pictures of the clues that Blue leaves, or whether there's an artist who does that.
  • How much Halloween candy eaten constitutes "too much" when you're talking about Reese's, after all.
  • How to get the PBS Kids theme song out of my head. The jingle is only about six seconds long, further complicating the repetitive-song-stuck-in-my-head insanity.
  • Whether the toast I'm eating to settle my stomach will stay down, or whether I'll be seeing it again when boy wakes me up at 7 a.m.
  • Whether I'll actually be sleeping any more this morning at all, for that matter.
  • Whether it's butter or margarine that's supposed to be "bad" these days. I can never remember what the current thinking is. While I wonder, I will continue to put butter on my toast. I'll have to admit to not actively researching this one, either. Kind of happy with the status quo.
  • Whether to bother resetting the clocks in the kitchen, since our neighborhood loses power so frequently.
So, good morning to you, too!

Monday, October 26, 2009

First trimester rule #1


"The Stomach Shall Be Obeyed."

This is why I have, in the last three weeks:
  • Gone shopping and come home with the fixings for a white-bread baloney sandwich, as well as cherry Kool-Aid mix.
  • Eaten a twice-toasted, mini-whole-wheat bagel with cream cheese at midnight.
  • Craved, prepared, and then was unable to eat one single bite of three different healthy, multi-course dinners.
  • Consumed more spaghetti than anyone should.
  • Dreamed, vividly, about yellow cake with chocolate frosting.
  • Bought -- I shudder to actually admit this -- Cap'n Crunch Cereal. The Crunchberry kind. The box is almost empty. My husband didn't have any.
This rule is also known, for me, as "Thou Shalt Not Stand Between Me and a Carbohydrate." I am like the anti-Atkins right now.

(That reminds me. I have to put twice-baked potatoes on the grocery list.)

Out from under my rock. With news.

For those of you wondering where I've been, I can now tell you.

I have been right here, staring at my computer, wanting desperately to post something, but fearing that I would accidentally type "I'm pregnant" and then post it immediately.

Because I am. Yay! And we're finally letting the cat out of the bag.

It's been quite a roller coaster already -- there was the early anxiety that we'd have another miscarriage, the almost constant nausea and subsequent all-too-frequent interfacing with various toilets in our home (this is still going on -- ugh), the low hormone levels and resultant nasty medication, the meds for all the gross throwing-up-related stuff, the part where one of the meds gave me a horrible reaction and landed me in the emergency room, and finally the 11-week ultrasound that showed a squirmy, healthy baby.

You'll probably hear about the ER visit at least. It was memorable.

For now, I'm going to find some ice cream. Thanks for not giving up on me!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Ain't nothin' but a heartache

I think I'm crushing on every person in this video, just because they are all SO. AWESOME. If I still worked in an office environment, I would want to work with people just like this.

My favorite thing about this? You can see the upcoming antics in the background of most shots.

And let me just note -- they all use Macs. OF COURSE THEY DO.

Office Workers' Awesome Backstreet Boys Lipdub - Watch more Funny Videos

Monday, September 14, 2009

It's been a while. Let's get caught up.

Things that have happened recently:
  1. I got on a plane with boy and my mom and youngest brother to take a 10-day vacation. The flight was three hours long, and I'd been dreading the flying-with-a-toddler thing. Boy was amazing. I didn't even need to hand out any of the earplugs I'd brought along for the folks around us. It helped that his uncle J was along to amuse him with the light switches above the seats, and to read him the emergency situation trifold card.
  2. We landed in Wisconsin and the weather. Was. Perfect. Like, every day. Boy is now an outside-junkie.
  3. Boy discovered sandboxes for the first time. His life may never be the same. Also, he may someday file charges against me as an unfit mother for not introducing him to them sooner.
  4. Boy learned how to say, "Hey guys!" The fact that he learned this phrase before his native Texan "Hey y'all!" is cute to me, and probably appalling to my native-Texan husband.
  5. I attended the wedding of a dear, lovely friend to a really cool guy who bears a striking resemblance to Will Smith. Yeah. He's pretty easy to look at.
  6. We stayed with my mom's 90-year-old aunt who is incredible and still independent and truly one of the most devoted servants ever to do God's work on earth. She's also a little deaf. But that's ok. I can speak pretty loudly.
  7. I went to my first-ever county fair, along with my family. Boy LOVED the "ba-cocks" (chickens), "babbits" (rabbits), horses, cows, and goats.
  8. We ate a lot of cheese.
  9. And sausage.
  10. And fresh sweet corn. Like, it-was-on-the-stalk-five-hours-ago fresh. YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW GOOD THAT IS. Now, when I pass corn on the cob at the grocery store, I actually snicker and roll my eyes derisively.
  11. We got on a plane to make the trip back home. Another three hours in the sky, and I was certain my earlier luck would run out. Nope. Boy was an angel again. I got super lucky. Mostly in having a mom who thinks ahead, because she'd brought along new toys for him that he'd not previously played with. That woman knows what she's doing.
  12. The return home meant we were coming back to 90-degree-plus days. With humidity. Gross.
  13. Then the Green Bay Packers won their season-opener on Sunday against long-time division rivals the Chicago Bears. I think I'm still high from that one.
  14. Then Michele from thetomatobear came to town, and I am SO EXCITED to see her and meet her little one.
  15. Then two days after we got back, our power went out for six hours. NICE.
  16. Then I found the closest mall to our new home. It has a Pottery Barn AND a New York & Company. I may need to get a job to fund these discoveries.
  17. It also has an Apple Store. Husband may need to get a second job to fund that one.
  18. Then boy spiked a fever and was diagnosed with a virus. AWESOME.
  19. Then I got a sore throat which I'm pretty sure boy gave to me. EVEN BETTER.
THERE. Now you know what's been going on.

Back soon.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Nineteen months

Dear boy,

Once again I've missed a month. When you turned eighteen months old, we were temporarily without a permanent mailing address, and in the craziness of the move, your 1.5-year-mark slipped by. But here we are! You're 19 months old! And we have a new house!

I'm exhausted. Which is pretty much a direct result of the last two exclamations above. But it's a GOOD tired.

My favorite thing that's happened over the last month is your ability to tell stories. Every day when he comes home from work, your daddy sits you on his lap and asks, "What did you do today?" You usually answer with some order of your favorite nouns. "Car! Dad? Trucks! Bubbles! Elmo! Dad? Golf! Big ball!" The "Dad?" interjections are just to make sure he's still listening, I suppose, but you needn't worry, son -- your dad and I hang on your every word. Of which you know over 200 by now. (I counted them up before we went to your 18-month checkup in case your pediatrician asked me how many you knew, but he only asked if you knew at least seven. SEVEN. I just stared at him, and he smiled and said, "I'll just put down 'yes,' how's that?")

You've also been enjoying more weekend outings with your dad lately. Your most frequent destination continues to be Lowe's, or maybe Home Depot. The last time you went, your dad sat you on the lawnmowers, which you and Elmo seemed to enjoy immensely.

You've also been lucky enough to spend lots of time with your extended family this last month or two. You see your maternal grandfather every Sunday, your maternal grandmother and youngest uncle (J) come to visit you at our new house several times a week, you see your OTHER maternal uncle (D) as often as his busy teaching schedule permits, and your paternal grandparents have come to town several times over the last few months to assist us with the move process. Here you are having a chuckle with your uncle D, whom you've dubbed "DD".

You probably won't remember the details of this move from your first home to the one we're in now, but we moved out of our old home on July 26. Because our new house wasn't ready to move into yet, we crashed at your Uncle S and Aunt N's place for three weeks. They shared their lovely townhome with us, which afforded you oodles of time to play with your cousin S, who is about four months younger than you are. Here she is looking a-perfectly-dorable with her twin pigtails.

Speaking of hair, this month we leveraged your Uncle S's barbering skills and requested that he help us trim your shaggy mane. The resulting cut was one of my favorite looks on you, ever. The ultra-short sides and back showcased your silky fluff up-top, and you sported your faux-hawk just as well as any of Angelina Jolie's children ever did.

What else can I tell you about this month? You simply are a joy to be around, ESPECIALLY now that you've gotten so very articulate and chatty. The other day we drove by a tiny private airfield near our new neighborhood, and you spent the rest of the afternoon telling me about the "baby airplanes" you'd spotted near the hangar. "What did you see, son?" I'll ask you. You answer, "Ay-main. Baby! Sky. Vrrrrrrr. Clouds! Mom? SKY! Ay-main! More?" Because you always want more. More to talk about. More to see. More to experience and touch and learn.

That's the essence of the last month, son. And as much as YOU want more, I can tell you honestly that your dad and I want more, too. More of YOU. More time with you. More chances to try to soak up the light that shines from your bright eyes, more opportunities to sit you on our laps and hold you there as if we can slow down your meteoric growth and development for just a few minutes, just to hold our baby a little longer. Your dangling legs remind us every day (as well as the fact that though you're still only in the 10th percentile for weight for kids your age, you're in the 90th for height) that you are shooting rapidly upwards, out of your clothes and shoes and baby ways.

I love you so, so, so very much.


Friday, August 21, 2009

Things I wish I didn't know

I thought that once the physical ordeal of the miscarriage was over, the healing could just begin and move forward at a steady pace. But there was so much I didn't realize.

When you're really ready for a baby and you find out you're pregnant, it seems like that child springs into being immediately, and the forty weeks of pregnancy are just a formality you have to get through. Almost instantly, you're looking ahead, and thinking things like, "I'll be about four months pregnant when we take that trip in September." And, "When my uncle gets married in November, I'll be showing -- I should think about getting something to wear." Or, "Wow, I'll be huge when boy turns two in January. Better plan a low-key party!" You think about what room in the new house you should turn into a nursery. You wonder whether it's time to get boy moved into a big-boy bed, so you can use the crib for the baby. You look up baby names on the Internet, and you say them aloud to see how they sound with your last name.

When you lose a baby, even early in a pregnancy, you lose every single moment of the rest of the dreams you created. There are moments when I actually almost forget that it happened, moments when I still automatically think about getting out my maternity clothes, moments when I wonder how long I can keep boy on my lap as my belly grows. And every time reality comes back to me, it's like I've gone through the loss all over again.

I go hours, days, without hurting. And then something brings it all back. I looked at my calendar yesterday and I saw that I'd written, "Last ultrasound" on the day we learned about the miscarriage. I didn't know what else to write -- I wanted to mark the day somehow, because ... well, BECAUSE. It was a child we lost. It doesn't matter to me that it was tiny, that it was really more of a collection of tissues that were destined to become a recognizable person. There was a tiny beating heart there, and at some point, it stopped. And you don't just let a thing like that go by without wanting to remember that that little heart had been beating for a time.

"Last ultrasound."

I wish I didn't know that this kind of grief is the sort you have to feel in pieces. You can't just feel it all at once for a week and be done. That shouldn't surprise me. But somehow it did.

Thursday, August 06, 2009


All my troubles seemed so far away
Now it seems as though they're here to stay ...
Suddenly ...
There's a shadow hanging over me
Oh, yesterday came suddenly ...

It was the quickest OB/GYN doctor's office visit I'd ever had. Before yesterday, I'd have thought that was a good thing.

A week ago, I went to the doctor because I'd taken a couple of home pregnancy tests that were positive. (Wait, what did she just say?! Why didn't she tell us? That's good news, right? Yes, it was very good news. We were thrilled.) I was glad to finally go because it had been two weeks since I'd taken the tests, and although everything seemed to be going smoothly, I just wasn't feeling ... much of anything. No nausea, no cramping, not even much fatigue -- none of the things I remembered feeling early on in my pregnancy with boy. I knew that all pregnancies are different, but I still felt like I should be feeling SOMETHING. So I'd scheduled a confirmation visit with my doctor for yesterday, but last week I just needed to know that everything was alright. Luckily, my doctor's nurse-practitioner worked me into her schedule, and did a quick ultrasound, and it was an enormous relief to see a tiny flickering heartbeat on the monitor. We discovered to my surprise that I wasn't as far along as I'd thought -- the baby was measured at just six weeks' development, as opposed to the eight weeks' development I'd thought had passed. Still, I was so happy just to see the movement on that screen. When the nurse-practitioner left the room, I shed a few tears of gratitude and headed across the hall to do some routine bloodwork. That was last Tuesday.

Thursday afternoon, I received a call from the doctor's office. My bloodwork had returned from the lab and showed that my progesterone levels, which should be around a 25, were only at a 12. The nurse explained that progesterone was the hormone that maintained a pregnancy, so the doctor had prescribed a progesterone supplement that I was to take twice a day. It sounded like a pretty common pregnancy situation, and so I wasn't terribly worried until the nurse said, "Make sure you take these, ok? We want to do everything we can to maintain this pregnancy."

Uh-oh. Enter ANXIETY.

I filled the prescription within two hours of talking to that nurse, and took the first pill with dinner. It's been years since I experienced a buzz, but this hormone pill gave me the closest thing to one I'll ever have again. Within an hour of taking it, I was dizzy and light-headed, and when I turned my head from side to side, the world took a second or two to catch up to me. And my veins felt like there was lead running through them. My God, I thought -- TWICE a DAY? With a toddler to keep up with? This is going to be rough. But I took them. I took them every day. I would have taken six of them at a time if it would have helped.

That brings us to yesterday, the appointment I'd made three weeks ago and that my nurse-practitioner and I had agreed to keep, even though I'd just been seen. Yesterday.

My appointment was for 1:30 p.m. I left boy with my mom and my brother J, and headed to my appointment. Almost before my rear end had even hit the waiting room seat, one of the nurses was calling my name to be seen. Wow, I thought. That was fast. By 1:35 I'd left the obligatory urine sample, been weighed, and had changed into the paper sheet that's supposed to help you keep your privacy but really only makes you feel like an idiot. ("Hi, doctor! I'd get up to shake your hand, except I'm naked under this thing. Which you can plainly see because it's basically transparent. Thanks for the filmy scrap to hold over my dignity!")

The nurse-practitioner was immediately in the room to fire up the ultrasound machine. As she started the procedure, I noticed that the screen was turned away from me. And that didn't feel right. She was also very, very quiet, and there were long pauses between the light notes of her conversation with me. And every pause felt like six lifetimes.

She finally opened her mouth and said, "I don't see a dramatic difference from last week." I was willing so hard for the news to be good that I actually thought that what she'd said was a good thing at first. "Oh, good," I breathed. And then she put her hand on my foot. "No," she said gently. "I'm saying I don't see a change."

I don't remember if I said, "Oh," or if I just lay there silently. What I do remember is that I simultaneously knew that I'd already known this was coming, and that I could. Not. Believe. It. Was she saying that it was over? That ... I wasn't pregnant any more? She couldn't be.

I pulled my shattered mind together and managed to say very calmly, "There's no heartbeat?" She squeezed my foot again, and said, "I don't see one." And then she said, "I'm sorry," and that's when I started to cry. I lay on the table with my knees in the air and I cried pools of tears silently onto the paper beneath me.

She stepped out and called in my doctor, who was heartbreakingly kind and supportive. He looked carefully at the screen and I could FEEL him willing there to be some movement, some little sign that would give us all hope, even though I knew there would be none. And as he looked and looked and finally confirmed that there was nothing to show that the tiny baby was alive anymore, I cried. I didn't want to be that woman, but I was. I cried and I shook with the knowledge that I wasn't going to have this baby. And I fell apart all over again when I realized that, oh my God, I had to tell my husband all of this.

I'd heard people say it before. "We lost a baby." And I knew what it meant. It meant a miscarriage. It meant that someone who had been pregnant was no longer so. It meant that through no fault of her own, a woman's body had decided that things were not going well, and stopped the amazing chain of events that leads to the birth of a healthy baby. But now I know why it's those words that people use. It's because you feel like it's your fault, even when you know it's not. You feel like you did something to ... lose. Even though this child had no recognizable features, no fingers and toes to count, no tiny arms to wave around, the sense of LOSS is staggering. And I know that my doctor is right, that this happens to 1 in every 3 pregnancies, that it's so very common. And it does nothing to take away my pain and my husband's grief, and the sadness of our family.

I asked the doctor what to expect, and he told me that when miscarriages happen this early on in a pregnancy, he prefers to let a woman's body take care of things naturally. Which meant I'd have to wait for the process to complete itself the way it inevitably would. He explained gently that the process could take three or four weeks to begin, and that since I still had pregnancy hormones in my system, that I'd continue to feel pregnant during that time. I think that was the hardest thing to hear -- that I'd still be ravenously hungry and slightly queasy and occasionally bone-tired, but that I wasn't going to have the payoff anymore of a little baby to cuddle and love at the end of the road. He said he was sorry, but that this wouldn't affect my chances of getting or staying pregnant again, that I'd have as many children as I wanted to, that there was time and that he'd be here for all of it. And then he patted me kindly and left. It wasn't even 1:45.

One of the drawbacks of seeing this particular amazing doctor is that his offices are deep within a building in a medical center that is a maze of high rises. As a result, there is ZERO cell reception in his offices. I sat in that room and I prayed for the miracle of just one little bar on my cell phone so that I could tell my husband what had happened before I had to walk out into the world where there was no baby in my near future. I didn't want to have to walk out, make my payment, catch an elevator, pay for my parking and wait for my car to pull up before I could talk to him. But of course there was no signal. So of course I did all of those things, and in the lobby of the building when I was able to talk to him, I sobbed out the news as people around me stared and probably thought I was crazy. He left work immediately and we pulled ourselves together to call our family and let them know what had transpired. And we thanked our lucky stars that we'd managed to keep from telling everyone we knew, so that there were fewer times we had to say the awful, hateful, how-can-they-even-be-true words.

That was yesterday.

The thing is, I had known from the beginning that something wasn't right. I'd told several people -- my mother, my sister-in-law, a close girlfriend -- that something was very different this time around, that I was worried, that I was scared. Now I know that that feeling was intuition, and I'm glad it was trustworthy, even if it sucked.

Because it did. And it does. And while today is a little better because I'm not in shock anymore, the fact that our baby is gone is never far from my mind.

And yet.

Even through the darkest parts of yesterday, we knew that there was a purpose to this. I don't know and never will know what it is or was. But I trust that it's there, and that's enough for the time being. God has never, ever let me down. If He needed me to start a pregnancy that I couldn't carry all the way, if He needed to lift from me the trial of caring for a child who would have found this life painful, then I can thank Him and know that He did for me what I would not have been strong enough to do myself -- He showed great mercy in sending me yesterday so early on in this pregnancy. I know that. Yesterday, it helped a little bit. Today, it helps a little more. Tomorrow, maybe a touch more. So I'll just keep hanging on. Because He's taking me somewhere, and I don't want to miss the trip.

If any of you would like to say a little prayer, though, to smooth our journey, I would so very much be grateful to you.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Yes, indeed ... birthday cakes DON'T bounce. Thank you, Elmo.

We've developed a bit of an addiction to "Elmo's World," and by "we" I totally mean boy. He loves it so much that we watch it now ONLY during meal times (save the finger shakes -- I KNOW). I happened to discover sesamestreet.org, where there are five entire 14-minute episodes of "Elmo's World" as well as a host of other short Muppet clips, and it has totally saved my sanity.

In the "Balls" episode, Elmo discusses things that do and don't bounce. When Elmo gets to the part where he observes that "birthday cakes don't bounce," boy LOSES it.

There's a lot I love about this short video clip.

In no particular order:
  1. The way boy ramps up his laughter as the delightful image nears of a birthday cake crashing to the ground.
  2. The faces boy makes as he chews on his finger at the beginning of the second clip. He's making the classic "Hey, I just came from the beach and I have sand in my teeth" face, although whatever was in his teeth was probably only green beans.
  3. The way, when I correct his "Yeah" to "Yes, mom" he starts to say and sign "Please".
  4. The way he gets so excited when the "Elmo's World" theme starts up (I think he even begins to dance and wave), then immediately whines in dismay as I fast-forward.
  5. The way his furrowed brow lightens magically when he realizes he gets to watch a cake being smashed AGAIN.
  6. The laughter, of course.
  7. And finally, the crazy assortment of toys on his high chair tray. I can spot a cast-iron tea pot, a toddler crayon, and a tube of toothpaste. Hey -- he can play with whatever he likes, as long as he EATS SOMETHING.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Why didn't they teach it to us like this?

If you've got to have the alphabet song stuck in your head, you could do a lot worse than this version with Ray Charles. You could probably even swing dance to this version. I LOVE IT.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Someone warn Dorothy ...

The answer to the question, "How did that kid eat all those goldfish so fast?" is apparently, "He shared them."

Take a close look. You'll find them. I'll bet that Muppet is stuffed.

Tastes like chicken, no doubt.

So we have these two nice, leather chairs that have at times resided in our library and our family room. They're cushy and comfortable and our favorite places to slump down to read, and they're really well made, so we think we'll get to keep them for a long time, maybe even give them to boy and any future theoretical siblings someday.

That is, if all the licking doesn't ruin them first.

Monday, July 06, 2009

I got it, kid.

Boy just unloaded a whole alphabet's worth of flashcards onto the end table, made sure they were totally out of order, then turned to me and announced, "Mess." As if to say, "Would you get on this, please? SLACKER."

Thanks a lot, kid.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

"I got it, mom."

An actual conversation from this morning ... "Son, you look a little stuck. Do you need help?" 
Pause. (Tiny voice) "No." 

Friday, June 26, 2009

Seventeen months

Dear boy,

If you're counting, you'll see that I missed the chance to write you a letter on your sixteen-month birthday. Here you are, seventeen months old, and your mother didn't write you a monthly letter last month! I hope you're not ruined for life. (I really do feel badly, so I'm sorry, buddy. I'll make this one twice as ... whatever these are.)

Up until about three weeks ago, I was pretty good about not letting you watch TV. But one day I needed 12 minutes to take a shower and voila! Sesame Street was on! And I remembered how much I loved it as a child, how I adored Ernie and Bert and Cookie Monster, and thought maybe it would amuse you for the few desperate minutes I needed to feel like a human being again. Lo and behold, you fell for it just as I had years (decades!) ago, and now you look for every opportunity to watch it. Your interest isn't so much in the whole show, though, as it is in one particular Muppet. As anyone close to you knows, you've developed a deep and constant friendship with Elmo. Your Ellie and Uncle J found an Elmo for you and when they presented it to you, your face lit up as if someone had just told you that you'd never have to suffer the indignity of being fed a meal again (more on that another time). Not only do you tuck Elmo beneath your arm when you nurse before bedtime, you say his name every time you see a computer, TV screen or iPhone, since various people have shown you clips of Elmo on each of those devices. And as I've noted before, you can be very persistent. "Elmo!" you announce. Or demand. "Elmo, Elmo, Elmo, Elmo, ELMO, ELMO ..." You always keep saying it until someone has acknowledged you in some way, preferably one involving YouTube.

What else is new this month? You're chattier than ever, which delights me. Most days, you actually wake up saying a word. This word has ranged from "No" to "Pool" to "Mom" to "Elmo!" The other day, just for kicks, I made a list of all the words you knew and could communicate, whether it was through sign language, gesture, tone or with actual words. And I finally stopped at about 90, convinced I was forgetting some. It's astounding what you can get people to understand. (Although to be fair, I would say that 85% of the time, you're asking for a remote, a phone, or Elmo. So maybe statistically it's not hard to believe that yes, we GET it.)

Here you are, demonstrating that should a skunk appear, you would know how to handle it. I was also simultaneously demonstrating that 1) it's always laundry day around here and 2) I am really good at folding towels. 

You're quite the little ham these days, puppy, and the face below is one of my current favorites of yours. You don't really have a name for it, but you will paste this expression on the front of your head every time you sense that you're about to be in trouble. It never fails to crack me up. 

We've had some success lately with you feeding yourself -- you certainly know what to do with a toddler spoon, following along with my "Scoop and eat!" chant with perfectly accompanying actions. However, you're much more interested in the process of biting food off to chew -- it's only been within the last month that you have realized that if someone hands you a large piece of food, you are not obligated to cram it into your mouth whole. The process of biting off manageable nibbles enchants you, and you demand lots of crackers for practicing. Here you are with your first cheese quesadilla. 

Just last night, you gave me a tremendous gift. When you cried in your crib at 3:30 in the morning, your dad went to get you, and he brought you downstairs to snuggle up with us (our normal routine at some point in each night). Once you'd arrived, though, you seemed to have "lost your sleepy," and so after listening to you chatter quietly for 20 minutes, I accepted the inevitable and took you out into the family room so your dad could catch some more Zs. However, you really didn't want to play -- you wouldn't let me put you down. All you wanted to do was cuddle close to me in the lowly-lighted living room, and say, "Mom?" from time to time. I'd answer, "Yes, buddy?" and you'd tell me something in the unique and seemingly complex language you employ. I followed along as best I could, responding as accurately as possible, and we passed the most perfect 45 minutes in my recent memory, your warm weight a blanket around my heart. I will never forget that magical time with you in the wee hours, talking to my son as he lay with his head tucked beneath my chin. It was the first of many heart-to-heart mom-and-son conversations I hope we'll have, my boy, and it was special to me not just because you wanted a rare cuddle, or because your softly scented hair was right beneath my nose, but because you wanted nothing more than to talk to me, to have me listen to you, and to say, "Mom?" and know that I was there. 

I always will be. Always.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Talk about fresh air

For a while, we were putting swim diapers on the boy whenever he went out into our backyard baby pool. Then I did the math. The diapers are $7.99 for 11 of them. 


We'll save those for trips to the community pool.

So yes -- he's in the buff above. I figure, hey -- it's his pool. He can do whatever he wants in it.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Things I have learned in the last two weeks

  1. Even the good husbands sometimes take a short trip to Crazytown.
  2. Because they're the good ones, they always come back.
  3. Real estate issues will speed a husband's journey to Crazytown tenfold.
  4. Even when you curse its lack of storage space and the stupidly-shaped powder room you can't seem to decorate properly, you can get VERY attached to the house you moved into when you got married. 
  5. Especially since it's the same one to which you brought your baby home from the hospital.
  6. And the one where he took his first steps.
  7. (Sniff.)
  8. Looking at potential new homes makes you realize weird things that are deal-breakers about the house you will or won't live in. Like, "I really want our next house to have a hallway."
  9. Comfort food is named as such for a reason.
  10. Chicken pot pie is my favorite entree comfort food.
  11. I've been eating a lot of chicken pot pie.
  12. Also? My jeans are getting snug again. (Maybe the dryer's too hot. Hmmm. You think?)

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Among the moments that slip through my fingers like sand ...

Sometimes, a 40-minute nap just doesn't cut it.

On those days, you've got to finish your nap in your mom's lap. 

She doesn't mind. 

She's cool like that.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Yay, youngest brother!

My family has now welcomed one more college graduate into its ranks -- youngest brother has graduated from Texas A&M University with his engineering BS! Yay! Just about my entire extended family recently drove to College Station, Texas, to attend his commencement ceremonies.

Here's a shot of youngest brother with boy:

The trip to College Station allowed us a chance to introduce boy to the stomping grounds his daddy had roamed as an undergrad at A&M himself. We took some time to capture the sight of boy in a number of distinctly Aggie locations.

There's a magnificent tree on campus called Century Oak. It's enormous and stately and graceful, and very old. The tradition states that if a man proposes to a woman beneath that tree, their marriage will last a hundred years. The last time we visited campus, husband offered to recreate our proposal for me under the tree for the sake of good luck. Since I was seven months pregnant at the time, I passed -- it would have looked a little suspicious to passersby for a guy to be on one knee in front of a clearly pregnant girl. Anyway, we visited Century Oak with boy. Here he is walking beneath one of its impressive boughs with his daddy.

Very close to Century Oak, there's a statue of the first president of Texas A&M University. I forget his full name -- I think it's got "Sullivan Ross" in it -- but everyone calls him "Sul Ross" for short. Another of the Aggie traditions is that if you need some extra luck on your final exams, you put a penny at the foot of Sul Ross's statue and hope he'll lend you a hand or put in a good word for you Upstairs. When we stopped by the statue right after graduation, there were stacks and stacks of pennies at the foot of the statue (not to mention more than a few dimes). Boy put a penny there as a head start for his own tests someday.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

I never claimed to be an artist.

I present to you: 

A collection of drawings that an-only-slightly-artistic mother created on her iPhone to amuse her 15-month-old son.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

And then God smote me.

Remember when I alluded to the fact that boy was eating better, more easily, with less fighting? I guess he heard me say that. Because now? Not so much.

These days, I have to get food into him by preparing not one meal, but TWO. Meal portion #1 I call the Food of Value. That's the stuff I really want him to eat -- veggies and meat, fruit, that kind of thing. Portion #2, though, I call the Food of Interest. It's what I have to basically entice him to eat with, then slip in bites of the Food of Value in between. 

Sample Foods of Value:
  • Beef with carrots and green beans
  • Chicken with squash and peas
  • Bananas with apples and pears
  • Turkey with sweet potatoes
Sample Foods of Interest (a.k.a., Things You're Appalled I've Fed to My Child):
  • Cinnamon graham cracker bits
  • Goldfish (the crackers, not the pets)
  • Torn pieces of string cheese
  • Kraft macaroni and cheese
  • Ramen noodle bits (he adores them)
  • Oscar Meyer bologna (ok, it was 98% fat free and all-beef, but STILL, right?)
I'm not sure why he's such a picky eater -- husband and I aren't what you'd call difficult eaters ourselves. But my mother has (rather gleefully, I might add) reminded me that I went through a phase as a one-year-old when I would eat literally nothing but hot dogs, cheese and Cheerios. And though I'm horrified that I was such a little toot about it, I'm somewhat encouraged that my child will someday be able to get through a meal of normal, regular food that I actually want him to eat. I feel so sneaky these days when I feed him -- I have to wave a piece of string cheese at him until he looks at it, then drop it on his high chair tray and while he's engaged in picking it up, I tiptoe in with two or three bites of the real food. And it's a battle I'm losing, because he gets more dextrous every day, whereas there's a limit to how quickly I can get a spoon of mushy food from the bowl to his mouth. The faster he gets with the fine motor skills, the less time I have to get those precious bites of vegetables into his jaws. 

Please -- someone tell me it gets easier.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

I do. I really do love him more than cookies.

There's a fine art to baking the perfect batch of cookies. The uninitiated might think it has something to do with having the right recipe, but that's really only about 25% of the magic (for the record: Tollhouse. Or the Alton Brown recipe for chewy cookies, the one with lots of brown sugar. But I digress.).

See, if you want to sink your teeth into the perfect chewy cookie, you have to commit to the process. It's not just about letting your butter and eggs get to room temperature before starting your mix. It's not just about getting real vanilla extract and not just the imitation stuff. It's about the REAL details -- like using parchment paper on your baking sheet so that none of your perfect gems stick to the pan. It's about knowing that your first batch will take longer to cook than the range of time on the recipe, and that you have to hover by the oven door to watch them, like an overprotective stage mother watches her kids in tutus as they pirouette. It's about getting the fact that your cookies should come out of the oven not DONE, but ALMOST done -- they'll keep cooking on the pan for a bit. It's about being willing to stand and watch over that pan in the oven for just the right second to take them out, and then waiting three to four minutes (but no longer) before you slide a very thin spatula underneath them to get them onto a waiting cooling rack. And finally, it's about knowing that as much work as you put into them, there's only so many cookies you can (or should, really) eat -- so when the chips are down (ha), you've put in all that work for someone else's enjoyment.

Baking cookies is a lot like motherhood, I'm learning. When I think of the things I've sacrificed for boy (like reliably taking a daily shower, going out after dark, running errands on the spur of the moment instead of fitting them in around naps and meals, not to mention the quality of my sleep, the QUANTITY of my sleep, and the abysmal state of my body, post-pregnancy and mid-breastfeeding), the list makes me wonder why there aren't MORE families with only one child. Looked at objectively, it doesn't seem like the kind of experience anyone should be willing to repeat. 

Luckily for all of us, though (and here's where the cookie analogy breaks down), there's so much more to the equation than just what you give up. Tonight as I rocked my boy to sleep, I buried my nose in his fuzzy, just-shampooed-and-towel-dried hair, and breathed him in. And though you might not have known it to see me do it, gently and peacefully so that his sleep wasn't disturbed, I do it with a desperation I can only barely contain. The ferocity of my love for him sometimes shakes me to the core with its strength and power, and it's saved from being bestial only because I pray fervently while I love him fiercely. 

I can type those words, and others like them, and while they ring true to me, I know there are some of you reading this who may just shake your heads in confusion. I don't blame you. The words, put together, don't really make sense. I don't know how to tell you that the act of breathing in the baby-fresh scent of my son's hair is the purest form of prayer I know. I don't know how to explain that just feeling the perfect, unblemished joy of his smooth skin contains within it entire volumes of prayerful pleading and gratitude. Loving him has, ultimately, brought me closer to God, because He has entrusted me with a gift I can hardly understand -- the right to love and protect and guide my boy.

(On a completely unrelated note, I found out today that my son doesn't like warm, fresh-from-the-oven chocolate chip cookies. In fact, he doesn't really like cookies or desserts of any kind. I'll pause while the enormity of that statement sinks in for you.  ...  I KNOW. If I hadn't been there when he was born, I might have had to wonder if he was really, indeed, mine.)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Fifteen months. (Wait -- WHAT?!)

Dear boy,

Even your pediatrician said it at your last check-up. "Has it been fifteen months already?" I am tremendously late in getting this letter written to you, so I'm sorry for the delay. The last month has been packed with excitement and activity, and I'm just now getting a chance to take a breath.

First of all, my boy, you've definitely decided that walking is for suckers. For the last few weeks, we've watched your running evolve from a simple somewhat-speedy waddle, to the current tuck-the-left-arm-swing-the-right-arm-and-make-a-mad-dash-for-it version. As I watched you fly by me today, I noticed that both your feet are actually off the ground at the same time, which makes it official -- you're a runner. This is occasionally disastrous when you're wearing your socks and zipping around on the ceramic tile floor, but it's also highly entertaining, and luckily it wears you out enough that your naps are getting to be sort of in the neighborhood of predictability. Meaning, you take at least one at SOME point almost every day.

Your dad took off a WHOLE WEEK from work this last month, and we took that precious family time to do some fun things together. You visited the zoo for the first time ever, and although we were certain you'd adore the animals, you were just as interested in the sign posts and food stands and trees and passersby. So this time around, the giraffes and elephants failed to impress, but we DID score big-time when we introduced you to the merry-go-round. Thank goodness something we did that day was a hit -- you really enjoyed it, although next time, I'm going to do the filming and daddy will hold you on the rotating device of torture. I was nauseous for an hour after we got off. Sadly, this is no exaggeration.

Later that same week, we took you to the Children's Museum for your first visit, and had an unqualified success there. You LOVED it! There's a section of the museum set aside just for little tykes like yourself, and you roamed around to your heart's content, ringing doorbells on scaled-down doors, flipping light switches, climbing up stairs, whooshing down slides (on your belly), and honking the horns of mini-cars. It was so much fun that I can't wait to take you back there, and I'm sure you'll grow to love that place more and more as you get older and we can check out the other exhibits.

One of the most remarkable things we've noticed about you over the last month is your broadening and deepening sense of independence. When we reach for your hand to help you over an obstacle, or guide you around something, you tuck your paw into your armpit, as if to say, "Step BACK -- I GOT this. SHEESH." Your desire to do things your own way leads to some funny sights from time to time, as you repurpose things from their original usage into a new and adapted function. Like your poor little yellow Bumbo chair.

I take it back. I guess you ARE still sitting in it, anyway.

Two things you still love -- two anchors in the ever-changing landscape of your growth and development -- are reading and short excursions. Here's a pic of you with a book ...

And here are a few shots of you exploring the campus where your mom when to college and grad school and where your dad earned his masters degree also. Someday if you decide to enroll at Rice, you'll have these shots to look back upon and smile at -- but if I'm being honest with myself, I'll admit that I didn't take these for you, but for me. There's something that both warms my heart and breaks it to see your tiny strides measured out along the stone passages where I spent so much time walking as an undergrad -- like two disparate parts of my life colliding together. I guess that's because I found so much of myself while I was at Rice, and now that you've become the central part of my life I've had to reinvent myself once more, and to see you in that place that changed and bettered and strengthened me -- well, it's special, to say the least. 

And you look really good there, too. Like you belong. No pressure.

While I'm being honest with myself, son, I'll be honest with you, too. I started this letter to you blaming its tardiness on scheduling and the fullness of our days, but truthfully, I've been putting off writing this month's missive. I've delayed because when I started writing these notes to you, I did them to catalogue what you were learning and doing, as a way to record the days of your babyhood. And as these pictures clearly capture, those days are past. You had been on the cusp of toddler- and boyhood for some time, and I think you've finally crossed that threshold now, irrevocably and irreversibly. So for the last few days, I've been at a loss to know how to write this letter, how to address a baby whom I remember only fleetingly now. The little guy you are fills up my senses so much that I have to work hard to recall how your bouncy baby self fit in my arms, how your crawling self struggled to get around, how you had to work hard at sitting up. There are hours when I mourn the fact that I won't get to hold that baby again (even while I delight in the boy he's become). 

I was contemplating all of this tonight as I nursed you to sleep. You'd only had one nap, so you went to bed earlier than usual, and your nursery was still infused with enough light coming through the blinds that I could see your sleeping face, long since asleep and done with your bedtime breastfeeding. Normally when you sleep, you do so with great abandon, your limbs thrown askew and your lips parted as you breathe evenly. Tonight, though, as I cuddled you close, I looked down and saw a glimpse of the baby I'd thought never to see again. Your lips, soft and pink, were still puckered as if you were nursing, and moved rhythmically as you nursed in your sleep. It was such a "baby" thing to see that I felt grounded again, relieved to see evidence that you are indeed the same little guy who used to go through five burp cloths a day early on, the same baby who came home from the hospital weighing only six pounds, the same tiny angel who used to fit into the t-shirts that look like doll clothes to me now.

And I guess that's the secret truth of it. No matter how you grow and change, how big you are, how old, I will not ever lose the baby you were. That's because even when you have to lean down to hug me, long after we've exchanged your car seat for a booster and then eventually when you start driving me around, even then -- you'll be my boy. My heart, my son, my baby.


Saturday, April 25, 2009


Skills I used to possess, which I am no longer certain I could manage:
  • Swing dancing, and swing dance teaching
  • Holding any conversation longer than five minutes not containing the word "diaper," "sleep" or "poop"
  • Being away from home for more than three hours at a time
  • Watching an entire movie without 1) falling asleep, 2) wondering if it's turned up too loudly, or 3) being interrupted by a crying baby
  • Eating a meal that is hot both when I start it AND as I take the last bite
Skills I now possess:
  • Managing a 20-second diaper change in the pitch-dark every night
  • Sniffing a baby's hindquarters in public without batting an eye or feeling an instant's worth of self-consciousness
  • Knowing by gut feel when everyone is just about to run out of clean socks and underwear, and doing laundry right before that point
  • Being able to distinguish "nice-and-quiet" from "too-quiet" without even looking
  • Not laughing when the boy "flutter-lips" his spoonful of dinner all over the place
  • The ability to name most, if not all, of the characters from Sesame Street, Oswald, Max and Ruby, Blue's Clues, and Sid the Science Kid
  • Knowing how many bits of string cheese are just enough to keep the boy interested in his dinner, but not too much (which will have undesirable effects on his digestion in many subtle and vicious ways)
I am not at all certain that these lists reflect an overall improvement.