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.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Reflections upon having husband at home for a week

  • I am dangerously, dangerously good at living like a hermit. Left to my own devices, I tend to snuggle deep into my comfortable world and ignore everything else. Especially when I get to see my husband every day during daylight hours, for seven straight days. BLISS.
  • We are an anomaly in that we could totally be together all the time and not get sick of each other. And yes, I know exactly how lucky I am.
  • I also got super-lucky in getting not only an incredible husband but an amazing partner in parenting. Two nights ago, boy was throwing a fit about bath time (which is a sure sign we started the bedtime routine too late), and as I headed up the stairs to join boy and his daddy for the tail end of the bath biz, I braced myself to hear husband scolding the little guy -- it was my gut expectation based on my own history. Instead, as I rounded the corner and found my two favorite guys, boy had calmed down enough to play happily in the tub, and his daddy was quietly telling him how proud he was of him, and how much he loved him. 
  • As much as I hate to admit it, boy responds much more quickly to The Daddy Voice saying no than my own.
  • I do more laughing when my husband's around. Because I am always free to be myself around him, I find that I am WAY more in touch with my inner goofball when he's around than at most other times. The impressions we do, the songs we sing, the ridiculous dances we make up for boy -- all I'll say is, thank God there are no nanny-cams around to catch our antics. Because we'd probably look certifiably insane.
  • I do less housework when my husband's around. The laundry can wait. Mostly.
  • Husband could easily win Olympic medals if napping were a sport. Before I met him, I seriously would never have believed that 1) anyone could stand more than one nap a day, 2) anyone could fall asleep so easily and quickly, and 3) night-time sleep is somehow separate from naps and isn't affected by one's napping. I hate napping, and only resort to it when absolutely necessary to make it through the day. I always feel like I'm being either supremely unproductive-slash-lazy, or that I'm missing out on whatever's happening while I'm down for the count. Husband, clearly, does not share these sentiments.

Friday, April 17, 2009

iBet iMnot the first to come up with this iDea

Dear Apple,

I write today to update you on the status of Offspring 1.1. (We had been living with Offspring 1.0 until January of this year, when Offspring 1.1 suddenly appeared in its place, so that's been our platform ever since.) Here's a quick rundown of the performance of various software as of today:

Applications with bugs

iSleep. Had we known that this application would have so many glitches, we would have insisted on it being installed before delivery. (You can be sure that, should we ever acquire an Offspring 2.0, we will insist upon this.) However, as it is, you know that we've attempted the recommended installation on a number of occasions, to no avail. We're currently running the application with a great deal of manual (ok, fine -- mammary) intervention, occasionally causing the MPU (maternal parent unit) to run iDragAss, and simultaneously causing the PPU (paternal parent unit) to run iStress and iWorry, but we're hopeful that with time, we can iron out the kinks in this app so that it runs overnight as it should.

Applications growing steadily more reliable

iEat. Offspring 1.0 seemed to run this app only grudgingly. However, now that Offspring 1.1 is a mobile unit, this app engages more easily and processes more input. 

Applications running smoothly

iCharm. Offspring 1.1 runs this one like a pro. This app seems to run especially well when Offspring 1.1 is in the presence of the GPUs (grandparental units), or when Offspring 1.1 requires a reprieve from some failed task. Like running iSleep all night.

iLearn. We have been astounded and delighted with how well this app runs on Offspring 1.1. To date, Offspring 1.1 has learned the names and sounds of a host of barnyard, forest and jungle animals, the names of the MPU, PPU and GPUs as well as other related units, and much more. At times, this app runs almost too well, as Offspring 1.1 has also learned how to open and unload the diaper wipes container, how to pull tissues out of a pop-up container and distribute them around the room, and how to shove small items under heavy pieces of furniture just far enough that those items elude recapture by the MPU and PPU. All in all, though, we find that the excessive learning is worth the installation of this app in the long run.

We continue to be impressed with Offspring 1.1 and look forward to acquiring other applications to test. 


Monday, April 13, 2009

Reflections upon visiting the zoo with a one-year-old

Noon: "I can't wait to get to the zoo! It's been probably over twenty years since I've been there. It'll be incredible to see it again through our son's eyes. And it's such a pretty day, and we were smart enough to come on a weekday so it won't be so crowded -- this is going to be great. I keep thinking ... he loves dogs so much, you know? And he's SEEN dogs in person. So maybe ... maybe he'll be able to CONNECT to other animals once he sees them, you know?" [Husband does an excellent impression of digesting this information as if it actually makes sense.]

12:15: "Wow, is this the line of cars to get into the parking lot?! I guess we weren't the only ones who thought today would make a good zoo day."

12:35: "Is that lady arriving or leaving? I hate stalking pedestrians like some kind of serial killer."


1:15: "Look, son -- big fish! In a huge tank! No -- no, honey, you're pointing at PICTURES of fish on the wall. Why don't you look at the ACTUAL fishies? Mommy and daddy did not pay $10 each to get into the zoo after fighting for half an hour to land a tiny parking space in the parking lot so that you could look at PICTURES of fish. We can do that in our own living room. In our pajamas. For free."

1:35: "Hey, sweetie, look! Seals! See them in the water? Over there? No, son, over THERE. See them? I know -- they're not exactly moving around much, are they? Trust me. That brown floating thing in the water, the thing that looks like lifeless driftwood, is a living creature! A seal! It eats fish, and can be very playful! CAN be. Looks like not today, though. Ok, never mind. Let's go see the giraffes!"

1:45: "Wow, buddy -- giraffes! There are ... let's see ... two, four, six, ... like, TEN giraffes! Including one baby giraffe! Aren't they cute? Look at their long necks! See how tall ... no, son, don't pick up that cigarette butt off the ground. Come here. Whoa -- did you poop? Oh, no -- that's the GIRAFFES. Let's move on. Quickly. While holding our breath."

1:55: "Ok, buddy, I know you'll like these guys -- ELEPHANTS! See how big they are? Wait -- let go of the chain-link fence, please. SON. Let GO. Look at the elephants! That one's raising his trunk in the air and -- Whoops, no, buddy -- that's not your sippy cup. That one belongs to that nice little boy over there. (Who IS looking at the elephants.) YOURS is right here. Ok, fine. If you're not impressed, we'll go find some monkeys."

2:05: "THERE'S an orangutan. A mommy and baby monkey! And ... ew. The baby monkey ... threw up, and ... is eating ... blech, comeonlet'sgo."

2:10: "See the baboon? Or, gibbon, whatever? See it? The shadows are falling on it there in the tree so maybe you can't, but it's there. Believe mommy, it is. Ah, crap. Daddy? WE NEED DIFFERENT ANIMALS."

2:15: "Aw, the tiger's sleeping. See the sleeping tiger? It's laying there on the rock in the plain sun, so I know you can see it. What, wait -- where's it going? Are you KIDDING me? Why would they even BUILD a cave for it that's so deep you can't see it? WHATEVER."

2:20: "HERE'S something fun. Let's ride the carousel! There's a nice tall stationary giraffe you can sit on while mommy holds you tight. Daddy, you film us. What? No, daddy, it's ok -- I won't get motion sick. It only goes around, like, five times. No worries."

2:25. "Take the kid. I'm nauseous."

2:30: "Ok, definitely time to go. Where's that map, daddy? We need to find our way back to the exit. So we can hike to the car."


2:35: "We will be stuck here in this zoo forever. Because I cannot read this map. I KNOW we have to go past the hoofed animal exhibit. But the signs here in the zoo don't say 'hoofed animals' like the map does, and I DON'T KNOW IF WART HOGS HAVE HOOVES."

2:45: "You put him in his car seat. I'll load the stroller. And for Pete's sake, let's not come back to the zoo till he's in grade school."

Friday, April 10, 2009

How to annoy me

Say any of the following to me, regarding boy:
  • "He's not sleeping through the night? Why not? Didn't you let him cry-it-out?"
  • "He sure is tiny. Are you sure you're feeding him enough?"
  • "You never give him [XYZ food that I fed my kids]? Why not?"
  • "He probably doesn't sleep well because you eat too much sugar/are still breastfeeding/he's too stubborn or naughty to go back to sleep on his own."
  • "It's cute that you still tiptoe around the house when he's sleeping. We always put a radio in our kid's room when he was a baby. That way he got USED to noise. You should have done that right away."
  • "He doesn't take a bottle? That's too bad. If you'd gotten him used to one, you could maybe go out at night once in a while and not be under house-arrest."

Note to self

Things to be ashamed of:
  • Breaking my promises to myself. 
  • Not being a better Baha'i.
  • Eating ice cream at 2 a.m. (No one NEEDS ice cream at 2 a.m. A glass of water? Yes. A banana? Maybe. Ben and Jerry's? Not so much.)
Things NOT to be ashamed of:
  • Breastfeeding.
  • Breastfeeding past boy's one-year birthday.
  • Breastfeeding without introducing bottles (resulting in the fact that boy never got used to them, and never would take them).
  • Not having any plans to wean from breastfeeding in the near future.
  • Having a boy who's not a textbook sleeper.
  • (Alright, I'll admit it.) Having a boy who's a CRAPPY sleeper.
  • Co-sleeping. (It's the most awesome feeling in the world to wake up in the middle of the night, and know that your baby is safe with you, right by your side, that if anything goes wonky in the night, like if a smoke detector or the security system alarm goes off, you can reach out and pull him close to you, that you're not separated by stairs or distance. Plus, he's such a warm little teddy bear on cold nights.)
  • Having a boy who's at the tenth percentile for weight, for his age. He's healthy and growing, alert and inquisitive, and has become a pretty good eater. SOMEONE'S got to make up the low end of the statistical distribution.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Just because I like 'em.

How long has it been since I did a random picture post? 

Well, that's too long.

There's a lot I like about this picture, which my husband took with his iPhone. (As a technology-aside, I'm kind of miffed that his iPhone, which is the newer model, takes much better quality photos than mine. Rawr.) I love that boy's leaning so far back, that he looks so happy and free. I love that he's wearing his monkey cap, and his Packers windbreaker. And I love, love, love the perspective on the swing chains. 

The poor kid is going to have some kind of complex when he gets older. Because, yes, that's a monkey towel, too. 

I love my boys. Even when they're watching college basketball.

Boy is rarely contained in any sort of contraption anymore. When he IS in a play yard of some sort, it's because I have to take my eyes off of him for a few minutes (like when I'm bringing groceries in from the car or something) and I need to be sure he's in a safe place. He usually spends that time either protesting vocally, or methodically testing the device for weaknesses (see above). Like the velociraptors in "Jurassic Park" tested the fences. 

"You talkin' to me?"

We have several azalea bushes in front of our house as part of the general greenery/landscaping/I-don't-know-the-technical-term. Most of the year, they're boring and blah, but for three glorious weeks in the spring, we get a veritable explosion of the hottest hot pink you can imagine. It's the only three weeks of the year I take any interest in gardening whatsoever, and this year I was moved to get the camera out and capture some of the intense color of our blooms. 

Storytime with pops.

"Um, mom? I'm kinda busy here."

"Seriously. The camera can't wait till this book is done?"

" 'What does a lion say,' you ask? RAWR!!!" I love this picture too. Husband's smile is the best.

I seriously had no idea my hair LOOKED this long. I've been on the verge of getting a serious cut -- like, chin-length, with side-swept bangs -- but this picture makes me think maybe I want to keep it long. I kind of dig the hippie vibe.