Sunday, December 30, 2007

Our son, the genius

Yesterday, Dan and I were listening to Johnny Cash as I was stalking Dan and trying to find the exact right moment to slip a shirt over his head. He darted away and headed for the laundry hamper as we listened to "Sunday morning coming down." Just as the Man in Black was trying to find his "cleanest dirty shirt," Dan began rifling through his dirty clothes hamper, apparently trying to find his cleanest dirty shirt. Coincidence? Probably, but we prefer to think genius. He methodically removed one piece after another and stopped after he came upon the second white sock with a gray heel. He looked at the pile on the floor, picked up the first white sock with a gray heel and stared at the two as he held them in his hands. Dan found a match!

Genius, I tell you!

Now, we're working on cause and effect. Jim and I bought him a remote control car for Christmas. At first, he just watched us play with it. Then, he began trying to catch it. For a while, he would pick it up by the antenna and swing it around like a baby King Kong. This morning, I gave him the remote and pushed the button with his little fingers. The car moved, but I don't think he understood that he was making it move. He toddled around the living room and down the hall pushing the button and giggling the whole time, oblivious to the car that was following him around.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas 2007

This was Dan's first semi-cognizant Christmas. Well, he was selectively cognizant - aware of everything but the things we wanted him to be aware of, namely, his presents. Eventually, we had to confine him to his high chair so we could open presents and try to get him to open presents. Here are some photos from our trip to Maryland to visit the Meehans:

Thursday, December 20, 2007

On a roll

Dan finally discovered toilet paper. Babbling once preceded his new discoveries, but, alas, not this one. We've found him silently unraveling toilet paper on several occasions. I had thought just putting the roll on backwards would help. It always worked on the cats, why wouldn't it work on him? Well, he's apparently smarter than the cat. At first, he unrolled about a fourth of the TP before we could get to him. Then, Dan managed to steadily deplete the roll throughout the evening. Ack!! Wasted toilet paper. Well, I guess it's not that big deal ... we do shop at Sam's Club (36 rolls for $15). But, it's the principle of it! We gathered up the piles and perched it on the towel bar above the toilet.

I wondered aloud if there was maybe some contraption that could keep him from unraveling the paper. Jimmy knocked on the bathroom door and said, "Uh, it's called a door."

Well, we can't shut all of the doors all of the time. But two of the three bathroom doors do stay shut (and, thankfully, he can't yet reach doorknobs). The third is to the guest bathroom where Danny takes his bath. It's basically his bathroom, so I can't very well keep the door shut. So now, I have to find a way to keep him from unraveling the toilet paper.

Meanwhile, as I drew Dan's bath, he was running around naked upstairs. Next thing I know, he's peeing on the bathroom floor. Good thing I had a pile of toilet paper at the ready!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Running on fumes

When my nephews were younger and would visit our house, I was always fascinated by how little they actually ate. We'd make them half a PB&J; they'd eat half of that. We'd pour them half a cup of milk; they'd drink half of that. It drove me nuts. I hate wasting food. In fact, when I was pregnant, I threw up food only a handful of times (yes, you can vomit without food coming up, but that's a whole 'nother story). Whenever I felt nauseous, I would tell the baby "We don't waste food. You're not going to make me throw up!"

Well, Dan wastes food. It makes me nuts. He no longer sits in his high chair for meals. Oh, he'll sit for a few minutes, eat a few morsels, then very methodically start throwing food on the floor. He then loudly announces, complete with wild gesticulation, his desire to get down. It's not that he's not hungry; he just doesn't want to be confined. His first move when he's been released? He eats the food he just threw on the floor. I've resorted to putting his high chair tray on a shelf on the baker's rack where he can just graze while we eat our dinner in peace. Earlier in the day, there's an ice cube tray filled with little snacks like raisins, cut up apricots, goldfish crackers, Cheerios, diced up banana and diced up cheese. He eats to his heart's content, all the while scooting around the house. This is probably a choking hazard. But what's a momma to do? Of course, after a while, Dan starts carrying the ice cube tray around and ends up spilling all the little snackies I put out for him. If it's just going to end up on the floor anyway, why don't I ... oh, nevermind. You'd probably call the child welfare people on me.

I know Dan is getting what he needs nutritionally from breast milk and what little he chooses to eat during the day. All the food he gets is healthy (except for the little strawfuls of Sprite he gets from Daddy). Everything I've read about this stage indicates that this is developmentally normal. But that still doesn't stop me from being annoyed and perplexed. Where the heck does he get the energy to go all day with just a 90 minute nap, a 10 minute catnap and very little food?

Requiem for a washing machine

Our washing machine finally died. We've been resuscitating him with "chest" compressions mid-cycle for months now. Tonight, he just gave out. Jim said he smelled burning rubber. Our dryer still works, sort of, but she's really on her last leg and deserves to be buried with her partner. It's the least we could do for her.

So tonight, we went to Lowe's to buy a new washer and dryer. The new couple arrives on Friday. Meanwhile, I'll be doing something I haven't done since college ... laundry at mom's house!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Turbo tot's wake

A quick, 20-minute cleanup every night reveals a lot about what Dan's been up to all day. Last night, several of my spices turned up on my nightly jaunt. The turmeric was on top of the entertainment center, the sage was on the baker's rack. Good, I thought, he can reach only the S through Z spices. The rest of my spices are still safely alphabetized. There was a grilled cheese crouton stuck to a cat's toy, several balls hiding beneath the kick in the kitchen, and all the animals from Noah's Ark marching two-by-two across the play mat side-by-side with little farmers and policemen. A little anachronistic, but we'll go with it.

We've been rocketed into full blown toddlerhood. At this time last year, we were adjusting to a newborn, a complete stranger and shock. Right now, I feel just as much like a fish out of water as I did then. I wonder how long it will take to adjust to the new normal. After his birth, it felt like three months before I could meet his ever changing needs. In short, I accepted fluidity as the norm.

So I've been reading about toddlers, their eating habits, temperaments, sleep and nutrition needs. It's actually hard to find good nutrition information for toddlers as most "experts" assume that you've weaned your child and are giving him milk. We're not doing that. Cow's milk is for baby cows and besides, pasteurization is such a bastardization that the end product no longer resembles milk. I grew up on raw milk and didn't die. Obviously, we can't find raw milk, but cultured dairy products are much better, so that's what he gets. Because we can find out so much about our food, breast feeding throws me off a little bit now. It's the uncertainty. Let's face it, there are no nutrition labels on booby juice. And on the days that Dan decides to eat only fruits and vegetables and a few handfuls of goldfish crackers, I wonder, is he getting enough calories?

The conventional wisdom on toddlers' eating habits is that they usually eat more in the morning and early afternoon than they will at dinner time. Dan's eating habits have become strange to us. Sometimes he throws down food and other times he throws his food on the floor. Right now he seems to be on a carb and meat strike. He'll eat only fruit and vegetables. Not a bad problem to have, but I worry he's not getting enough iron or calcium or fiber in his diet. He's happy, though, and moving around quicker every day.

And we finally got around to childproofing the china cabinet. Dan is pretty ticked off about that.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Where's the baby's off button?

Hint: It's not on the baby monitor. I've tried that one. All it does is mute the baby.

Dan's off button is in his ears. Don't worry, I'm not going around sticking my fingers in his ears willy nilly. When I'm nursing him, I often take the opportunity to clean the wax out of his ears. As soon as I start messing around in there, his eyes begin to droop. Excellent.

Dan story of the day

Jim and I were sitting in the living room reading the paper while Dan was doing his evening laps and making pit stops along the way. He travels down the hall, bangs on the return that we had to screw shut, goes into the dining room, looks out the front window, squeals and then proceeds to the china cabinet and throws the gravy boat around. Tonight, he found my sushi dishes. Next it's on to the kitchen where he peruses the spice rack. All my spices were once arranged alphabetically. Obviously, I've given that up. When he didn't return to the living room in his usual time, we checked on him. He was quiet but there was an occasional clink of metal. That's when we found him. He had made a ramp by propping the top piece of the broiler pan on the edge of a basket and was trying to climb up to reach the top shelf.

Jim was practically bursting with pride. He said, "He's done his first constructioneering project."

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Dan's adventures in photos


Adventures of snooger bot

Jim and I always said our son would be running by his first birthday. And we were right. Even though he's got a cold, he's a quick little snooger bot. Those wise to spoonerisms will understand the nickname. Hey, it's better than dingleberry, which I found out its disgusting definition only after calling him that for a few weeks. Look it up ( ... I'm not repeating it here.

Dan has a cold, or, as overzealous doc calls it "an upper respiratory infection, and he's cutting two teeth and he's trying to run. He's snotty and drueling and coughing and has at least four bruises on his forehead - from falls and banging his head on the wall. You'd think a sick baby would sleep, but not my child. Dan is an awful lot like me. He fights everything ... sleep, direction, suggestions, sickness.

So this morning, I just let him play until he started getting clumsy. I found him rooting through my china cabinet, happily tossing about a metal hors'doevres tray and a gravy boat. I decided to leave him be since he hadn't gotten to the fine china yet. A few minutes later, he howls. He's under the dining room table with his bum in a soup bowl. Not even sure how he physically got in that position. Okay, china cabinet roulette is over. Time for the next adventure. He toddles all over the downstairs, then checks that I'm still where he left me before resuming his travels. Sometimes I try to gauge where he is by the sound of his footsteps or some little noise he makes. Lately, though, when I call out to him, he goes into stealth mode. He's learned how to hide from me. Great. Even though there are baby gates in strategic locations, my heart is still in my throat when I can't find him right away.

Anyhow, we went to the doctor's office this afternoon and he mentioned the dreaded A word (Jimmy's first guess was a--hole). Asthma. Since Dan had an upper respiratory infection when he was six weeks old, he now has a history. The doctor says we'll just have to watch him, he may have mild asthma. Seems a bit of a stretch to me, but we have a nebulizer and a humidifier. We've nebulized him once today and it made a world of difference.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Happiest season?

Try as I may to keep cynicism at bay during the holidays, the onslaught of seasonal schmaltz is a merciless tease. A Christmas song bleated from my car radio today about "the hap, happiest season of all." And, ever the contrarian, my first thought was "bull dookie." Okay, I didn't use the word dookie, but I'm trying not to curse like a sailor, it being the holidays and all.

So, it's the happiest season, presumably because we all march like lemmings to retailers and spend money to create the perfect Christmas - which, of course, includes jewelry-bearing husbands, a surprise visit from a relative who wakes the household with fresh brewed Folgers and a small child or a lost pet who shows us all the true meaning of Christmas. Ever notice that the moral of made-for-TV Hallmark movies is always about gifts not being the true meaning of Christmas, yet every commercial urges you to buy, buy, buy? No wonder we're all so confused and agitated these days.

You see, I'm just not big on superlatives. They set up expectations and, lately, I've not been able to rank events in my life as better or worse, more or less fun, happiest or saddest. There's connection among events, one supports another. Events, seasons, situations ... they're all building blocks. I enjoy Christmas nowadays because I've cultivated relationships with my family and friends all year long. In years past, I've not been so lucky.

Yep, I got all that from a cynical reaction to a Christmas song. Oh, and I think I may have also broken out in hives.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Dan turns one ...

Over the weekend, we celebrated his first birthday. It was a busy weekend with a family gathering on Friday night, a family wedding in Chapel Hill on Saturday, his birthday, and his birthday party on Sunday afternoon.

On Sunday, we had 15 adults and 10 little kids over for chili, cake and football. Five minutes before the party started, I mentally counted up who we were expecting and then proceeded to ask my sister, "Am I crazy??" But it was so much fun. Dan was thrilled to have all his buddies over. Jim and I were so happy to celebrate Dan's first year among the people who helped us survive it.

Here are some photos from the weekend:

Forced car repairs

This morning, Jim went to get the car inspected. The mechanic deemed that the serpentine belt needed replacing and failed the vehicle. The mechanic told Jim that the state of North Carolina allowed him to fail a vehicle for this purpose. So basically, our car was held hostage for $120.

"Do you want to see the book?" the mechanic asked. Of course, I would have made him show me the book. But Jim eventually took his word for it and we have a new belt to go with our new inspection sticker.

Jim first told the mechanic he wanted a second opinion. He went to the parts store down the street and asked the guy: "So, what's the worst that can happen if a serpentine belt craps out while you're driving?"

The car stops and you have to pull over to the side of the road, he said. He added that inspectors are failing more and more cars lately for issues that are not safety related, like a worn serpentine belt. After deciding that replacing the belt himself would be too difficult, Jim went back and had the belt replaced.

Our questions are these: Since when does the state have the right to dictate what repairs we get to our car and when? and What is the state's motivation here? Now, I understand that certain repairs, like brakes, brake lights, wipers and headlights, are safety issues. Checking emissions, great. But a serpentine belt? Give me a break.

We moved here from a state that didn't do these annual vehicle inspections. Every three years, we were required to get an emissions test done. That was it. Now, every year, we end up spending money to get our vehicles to pass inspection. A few years ago, one of our cars failed because the gas gauge was broken and then again because of carbon buildup in the fuel line that was causing the vehicle to stall. The emissions were fine. Basically, if the check engine light was on, we couldn't pass, regardless of whether the issue was safety or just disrepair.

What's next? Annual home inspections that you can fail for not using compact fluorescent light bulbs. We primarily use the CFLs, but because we can afford it and because we chose to do so. That's the point here. Freedom to make choices, even the bad ones that hurt no one but us.

And beyond that, there's the possibility that forced car repairs are a racket born of corrupt politicians. I try not to sound too much like a conspiracy theorist, but what if the auto mechanics pressured the state to expand the reasons to fail vehicles to increase business? Actually, it's not too far fetched in a state where an optometrist in state government succeeded in passing a bill to require eye exams for all kindergarteners and another bill to help chiropractors who had given him campaign money.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

In the moment

It's 12:01 a.m. on December 1st as I begin typing this entry. A year ago at this very minute, with the help of a morphine shot and IV fluids after my first 18 hours of labor, I was just drifting off into the last seven straight hours of sleep I've had since. Last night, I wailed to my husband that I haven't really slept in a year and, I fear, may never sleep well again. Years ago a colleague told me, in that you-mark-my-words tone, "You'll be amazed at how well you'll function on so little sleep."

I feel oddly unemotional about the fact that our son is now a year old. Am I suppose to be verklempt about this? I'm just not. The one thing I do feel is pride. I'm proud of our family and the life we've created. I can't even say that we worked hard to create it; really, we've just made good decisions based on our values. I'm proud that Jim and I chose natural childbirth and paid more money to have the experience we wanted. A few months after Danny's birth, it occurred to us that a hospital delivery would have been by C-section. Instead, at the birth center the midwives presented options that did not include major abdominal surgery. No hospital would ever let a woman labor for 40 hours. I'm proud of myself for doing it and proud that my husband supported the decision. I'm also proud that we live well and debt free on one and a half incomes and that our son has thrived on my milk. I'm proud that, in the first year of his life, our son was cared for solely by his father and I and a few trusted relatives.

Maybe I'm not emotional about this because, more than any other experience in my life, becoming a parent has forced me to stay in the moment. It's taught me how to plan, but not plan the results and to be prepared to throw the plans out the window. So, after a year of moments that I've been present for, it's not so surprising that he's one, that he's thriving, that he's gotten so big, so smart and so beautiful. I notice these things every day, every hour, every minute that I'm with him.