Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Nothing's by the book

Dan has been sleeping through the night lately (and now that I've admitted this, he will probably stop). Last Wednesday, we finally just let him cry. Until now, I just didn't have the stomach for it and I knew he just wasn't ready for it. We knew he had been fed, changed, bathed and cuddled, and was sufficiently tired that night. It took 15 minutes and he was asleep - for the next 10 hours. The next night, he cried for 20 minutes; the next few nights, less than five minutes; tonight, no protests. Not only that, he has settled on an 8 p.m. bedtime and 7 a.m. wake time and takes 1 to 2 hour naps at around 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.

A friend told me today that Dan's new schedule is one that most babies settle in to eventually according to one of her baby sleep books. I guess Dan read the book. Good thing, because I don't read the books anymore.

The few times I've tried to be a "book mom" it has backfired on me. Reading about what my son should be doing by what age, how much he should be sleeping and what times and how I should be reacting just sets me up for resentment. Some moms can safely read the books. I can't. It creates a very unhappy home as I try to force my child to do what the expert says he should be doing. Then I resent the poor kid for not living up to the expectations of someone he doesn't know and, more importantly, doesn't even know him like Jim and I do. Luckily, this scenario has played out only a handful of times.

For the past nine months, we've had a very laid back approach to bedtime. We won't force him to go to bed if we know he's not tired. We won't refuse to feed him if he wakes at night, even if he just needs to nurse for comfort. Comfort is a legitimate need at any age. Period. We won't force him to be alone in his room when he'd rather be with us. After all, the adults and even the cat and dog don't sleep alone, so why should he? I suspect that this approach has kept him happy and able to trust us and his own body, and kept us sane. Now, after months of honoring his wishes - for companionship, comfort, food - we have a son who can put himself to sleep on his own, who will go to bed when he's tired, will sit quietly with us at night if he'd rather not be alone and actually has refused attempts to feed him in the middle of the night.

Someone once told me that an expectation is just a premeditated resentment. I've found that the only time I resent my son is when I'm expecting him to be a "book baby."

Monday, August 27, 2007

The worst that can happen

When you have a baby who gets into everything, you have to pick your battles ... as in, dog food, bad; dog's water dish, maybe. We've already moved the dog's food and water dish twice. Yesterday, I had to evacuate dog food from his mouth. He managed to find a piece on the floor where Lucy's crate had been.

This morning, Dan was tooling around the kitchen floor while I was making oatmeal cookies. The dog's food dish was safely closed in the pantry, but his water bowl was peeking out just enough for Dan to grab it. He dragged it out and began splashing in it. I was just about to separate the happy couple, but seeing how happy he was and not having had enough coffee to tolerate his certain protests, I asked, "What's the worst that can happen?" I returned to cookie making and was just about to congratulate myself on being such an easygoing mom.

Then I see a little river of water trickling toward the stove. Turns out, Dan had overturned the dog's water bowl and was sitting in the water. There was too much water to use mere dish towels. This was going to take a mop.

So, the worst that can happen is that you will have a freshly mopped floor at 8 a.m. on a Monday morning. Ah, the power of positive thinking!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Well, I never ...

I'm beginning to feel like an old fart. Jim and I went out to Hillsborough on Saturday to run an errand and on our way home we stopped at the local Wal-Mart. As it was the weekend before school starts, it was mobbed. Good thing it was a Super-Wal-Mart with plenty of room to roam.

We strolled by the large displays of obvious back-to-school gear, notebook paper, soap and shampoo (gotta be clean), sugary drinks and snacks (to keep you awake in class), etc. Then, there in the middle of the aisle was a large display stocked with a variety of Trojan condoms.

I said to Jim, "I've never seen condoms displayed so prominently. What are they saying to their customers? 'Please, don't breed.' "

Well, maybe they're just talking to the school-age population.

Jim replied, "Gotta have your condoms for back to school."

Yet another reason for my strong belief that kids, especially teenagers, should not be age segregated. Humans naturally learn by watching others, so why would you put kids in a classroom situation where the only so-called role model is an authority figure that usually arouses resentment? They then get their ideas about appropriate behavior from the similarly immature children with whom they spend eight hours a day.

So that's my extremely simplified explanation for how condoms became a back-to-school must-have item.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Stairmaster

It's okay. No need to call social services on us. Dan has been climbing stairs for the past week, ALWAYS supervised, of course. The most he has climbed is three stairs before he realizes how high up he is. Then we are trying to teach him how to come back down backwards. We figure supervised access is better than no access at all.

Sometimes I have to remind myself that he's only eight and a half months old. I'm amazed at how mobile and agile he is. He's cruising along the furniture and has even cruised from one thing to another. He can stand on his own for a few seconds. He can even let himself down from standing without holding on to anything. I've been told this is not unusual for babies with Daoust genes, but it's still unnerving. Tuesday night's bath was a battle to get him to stay seated.

And he's also beginning to understand certain words, like dinnertime, bath time, nap time and beddie (which is Jim's word for bed). He associates being carried up the stairs with nap time or bedtime and it doesn't make him very happy AT ALL.

We now have to figure out how to outsmart him.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Our son, the basketcase

Dan climbed into his toy basket the other day. We got several videos of him trying to climb out. This one is the cutest, and the only one where he's not screaming. The look on his face when he finally gets it is just priceless.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The well-groomed family

So, it's another 100-degree day here in North Carolina. This afternoon we ran an errand for a family member (FM). We picked up a very sweet, well-behaved dog named Lucy and brought her over to the halfway house, a k a our house. Seriously, in the past year, we've sheltered two cats, this dog, my brother, my cousin, and her friend, not to mention that baby we had in December. Not only do we keep taking in strays, we often serve as the I-40 traffic avoidance lounge as friends and family sometimes pass through around rush hour. It keeps things pretty interesting around here.

FM's e-mailed instructions read like a scavenger hunt. We picked up an Indian guy who had the key to FM's office. We followed his directions, in broken English, to FM's office to pick up Lucy's belongings. We took the guy back to his place and proceeded to the veterinarian's office to pick up Lucy. Next item on the list, contact the woman from Dalmation resue who will be taking Lucy.

Meanwhile, at home, we corraled Lucy in the den and unleashed Bob who had all but peed on the floor in his utter excitement. We gated them into the den to get to know each other. Later, outside, I turned to find Lucy swimming in the baby pool. Apparently, the heat was just too much for her. Jim took advantage of the situation and gave her a bath, washing all the kennel smell from her. Next, it was Bob's turn. He's not nearly as cooperative.

So after Dan, Jim and I also got our bath/showers, a very clean, well-groomed family took a walk around the block.

And here he is ...

Apparently, the link in that last post didn't go where I wanted. This is what happened when Jimmy opened the lid.
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Sunday, August 19, 2007

A bird in a cage

Saturday afternoon I was indulging in a nice hot bath when my husband came upstairs and said:

"You want to say good-bye to him before I send him back?"

Jim packed him up in a box and closed the lid. Dan kicked back, relaxed and quietly sucked his fingers. He carried him upstairs with the lid closed. Still quiet. He carried back downstairs, lid still closed. Not a peep. He took pictures of him peeking through the lid with his fingers in his mouth. Still cool. Maybe that's the key to getting him to calm down and go to sleep.

Then, as he opened the lid, guess what happened? Click here to find out.

Friday, August 17, 2007

I need an island

(also the title of a great Heather Nova song, by the way.)

Have you been out in public lately? If not, let me tell you, it may be time to get your own private island and severely limit contact with the human race - if you can even call what I've encounter lately human.

Yesterday, I went to Harris Teeter (yes, I'm naming names) to pick up some items we need that happened to be on sale. Armed with the circular, I made the rounds. One particular item was nowhere to be found. I inquired at the meat counter. It turns out they didn't order that item this week. Do they not read their own circular? Then, I check out, pay and am informed that I qualify for a free sub at the deli. Super. Jim and I often get subs here because its a good, cheap lunch. I get my sub and take it to customer service so they don't think I'm just walking out with unpaid merchandise. The woman says if she scans the sticker on the package, it will charge me. Apparently, I can only get a free sub if it's a full-sized sub, not half sub (which is all I wanted anyway). So she leaves me waiting with a baby who's starting the launch sequence for meltdown, goes to the deli and gets the correct sticker to scan. And, God forbid, I should get anything for free. She scans the sticker and asks for forty cents in taxes.

Today, it got worse. At Kroger, I usually go through the self-checkout if my friend isn't working the register. I'd rather deal with a computer than a cashier I don't know. I press the touch screen, type in my phone number to activate my Kroger card and it asks me to wait for the cashier. Now, the cashier is standing at her post smacking her lips and stuffing her face, not paying attention to me at all. I have no way of knowing if she's done what I'm waiting for her to do. Then the touch screen blanks out and starts over. Now I'm confused. Do I need to type in my phone number again? Or do I just start scanning my items? I didn't want to leave the cart because my son was in the carriage. So I proceeded to speak to the woman from where I was standing, maybe less than 10 feet away. She finally responds by yelling to me, with her mouth full, "Just scan your first item." I pretty much snapped. I abandoned my cart full of groceries and just left.

You think I'm kidding, but an island in Canada is starting to sound really good right now. I even found a place to browse for my island. Check it out.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Where does it end?

The lucky chap who caught Barry Bond's 756th home run ball may not be so lucky after all. What could be a great story for him to tell his kids and grandkids is a likely source of financial ruin unless he antes up to the imperial federal government.

An excerpt from a Boston Globe story explains:
"Selling the ball for [around $500,000] would instantly put Murphy in the highest tax bracket for individual income, where he would face a tax rate of about 35 percent.

"Even if he does not sell the ball, Murphy would owe the taxes based on a reasonable estimate of its value, according to John Barrie, a tax lawyer with Bryan Cave LLP in New York. Capital gains taxes also could be levied in the future as the ball gains value, he said."

And the article doesn't even mention state taxes. So, he has to sell the ball or face financial ruin as he tries to pay off the government. By what right can the government lay claim to a portion of another person's property?

Maybe I have some valuables around the house for the government to assess. They could be missing out on a great opportunity to get more of my money. Of course, if the ball were mine, I would sell it and pocket the money but grouse endlessly about the Treasury mafia.

The government is pretty creative in finding ways to get deeper into our pockets.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Okay, I guess we'll make it official.

The baby is walking. He has been taking up to three steps at a time since he was 8 months old. There, I said it. I'm thrilled for him, really, I am. And just as he's gotten more independent, he has also been wanting me to just hold him for a few minutes. Normally, he doesn't sit still with me. It's nice to have a lap baby again.

Anyhow, our nightly routine has been to steady him and let go. He then gives a gleeful shout and propels himself toward us, taking a few steps before falling forward into our arms. Each night he gets steadier on his feet. Each night you can see he's thinking a little more about what he's doing. He can now balance himself after he's taken a step and before he takes the next one.

Today he pulled up on his toy box, turned, let go and took two steps to me. Then, as I tried to steady him for round two, he pushed my hands away and looked straight at me with his tongue out.

"I'll do it myself, thank you very much," his eyes said.

When did he get such a personality?

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Top of the season to you

It's that time of year again. NFL pre-season began Thursday and it's been on every night since. Apparently, it's a multi-day, possibly a weeklong, manfest.

And this season, football seems to be holding Danny's attention. I tried to nurse him tonight on the sofa as we watched the Chargers play the Seahawks. He kept craning his head to watch. Apparently, the past few nights, while I was at work, Jim had been feeding him his bottle while they watched football. Not only that, but Jim has been sneaking him little sips of (caffeine free) root beer.

Saturday was the first Panthers game so Jim suited Dan up in his Panthers pajamas and they watched the game. Jim told me that Dan clapped his hands whenever football came on this weekend. I didn't believe him until I saw it for myself this evening. Maybe he senses Jim's excitement or maybe it's just something new and different for him to watch. Either way, it's absolutely adorable!

The bowl HAS to be clear

Jim just walked in the room and said, "Did you know we had peaches?"

Uh, yes, dear. I put them in a Pyrex see-through bowl, without a lid. I thought for sure he'd see them. But, alas, the bowl is not clear, it's tinted pink. Will I never learn?

Thursday, August 09, 2007

The longest 30 hours

Check out a new photo album linked off of our photoblog.

This past weekend, I spent 30 hours away from my son. This is the longest period of time I've ever spent away from him. Jim drove up to Maryland with Dan on Saturday. I worked Saturday night and drove up Sunday morning. Jim had just enough milk to get Danny through Saturday, night and early the next morning.

Saturday was weird. I had the house to myself. I mosied through Target. I made myself a pepperoni and mushroom pizza. I packed, did laundry and then went to work. I called my husband just about every two hours to check on the baby. It's not that I didn't trust him with our son. It's just strange to be two states away from a child who was once a part of my body and who is still so dependent on my body for nourishment and comfort.

Sunday morning I was up at the crack of dawn and made the trip in 4 hours and 45 minutes at 80 miles per hour on the highway. When I arrived, Danny was half asleep, nestled in my husband's arm on the sofa. Danny opened his eyes slightly as if to say "Oh, good, my booby's back," then fell back asleep. Somehow I expected a little more reaction from him.

Sailing home on a river of sweat

This was also my first road trip with my beloved Volvo station wagon. I took Stuey in (yes, my Volvo's name is Stuey) to the mechanic last week for a check up. Stuey appeared to be overheating when the A/C was running. Mechanic replaces the temperature control sensor and sends me on my way. The problem seemed to be fixed. I made it all the way up to Maryland on Sunday with the A/C on and Stuey never overheated. Tuesday, on my way to Alexandria, I hit traffic and he overheats. On Wednesday, the first hour of the road trip went smoothly with no overheating.

Then he starts acting up again. So, in 100 plus degree weather, we rode with all the windows down and had to occasionally turn the heat on to cool the engine down. We stopped every half hour or so to get into an air conditioned building and rehydrate. By the time we get home, Dan and I are exhausted, hot, drenched in sweat and our hair is standing on end.

Today, it's back to the mechanic. I'll try not to strangle him.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The very good reason for priority number 2

From a post of late:

My priorities are to 1.) keep puke and pee off the hard floors so no one slips on it or tries to eat it (dog, cat or baby) or roll through it; 2.) keep puke and pee from getting ground into the carpet; and 3.) wipe the babies face and hands every once in awhile.

Yesterday, I discovered ants marching through our bedroom. They were all clumped together in two dime-sized piles. Hmm. Turns out, the ants were attracted to two little spots of baby spit-up that I had missed. The only idea I had was to vacuum up the line of ants.

For the next hour, I felt like ants were crawling on my scalp. Ugh.