Monday, July 21, 2008

Fourteen-Month Letter

Dear Jude,

Today you turned 14 months old. Where, oh where, did the time go?

This month you earned yourself a new nickname. Now you're not just Mama and Papa's Sweet Baboo, you're also their little monkey. Last month you mastered walking. This month you're perfecting your climbing skills. You started out by climbing on top of an old diaper box and then quickly moved on to climbing onto one of your plastic abominations. You've scaled the yoga bolster that's blocking you from some wires in our bedroom, and you've about mastered the climb to the top of the suitcase that is holding close the door to Papa's closet. You use your toes to grip the ground as you walk and the step onto which you're trying to climb. You LOVE bananas.

One of your new favorite things to do is open my dresser drawers, pull my clean clothes out, and either track them all over the upstairs or put them on your head (this includes, but is not limited to, my underwear). Sometimes Papa helps you put the clothes on properly. Sometimes he helps fasten my purple sparkly bra around your waist.

Your vocabulary and your understanding are growing by leaps and bounds. You don't hesitate to say "mama" or "dada" anymore, and you LOVE to say "hello, hello, hello" to everyone you meet. Just yesterday you started signing "more" again, and this time you're doing it with authority. On Sunday we went food shopping and I wore you on my back. As we walked through Wegmans, you took great joy in "clap, clap, clapping" and making kissy sounds and putting your arms straight up in the air as I called out action after action of what Simon Says. Speaking of kissy sounds... you give kisses now! Mostly you kiss your stuffed monkey or Pat the Giraffe, but every now and then you toss mom and dad a bone and slobber all over our faces as well.

I'm a little worried I'm going to cause you to be a bit OCD when you grow up. I noticed the other day that your papa and I instruct you to do things in groups of three: clap, clap, clap; shake, shake, shake; chew, chew, chew; dance, dance, dance. I hope that you don't end up having to touch each door handle three times before you leave your house when you get older or hop on one foot three times in a circle before going to bed at night. I promise I'll try to vary the way I teach you to do things from now on. I might even try just saying the word once and seeing how that goes.

You, Papa, and I have been doing a lot of fun things lately. Just yesterday we all went to the state park for a swim. We met Aunt Demy and Uncle Scott and some other friends there for a picnic dinner, and afterwards, when it started to rain on our game of Frisbee, you happily hung out in the backpack on my back getting soaked to the bone. It was so much fun, Baboo. I can't wait to do it again!

And the big news, Jude, is that your papa got a job in Chicago, so we're going to be moving in just a few short weeks! I'm so excited for this move, Monkey. It means a huge lifestyle change for all of us. I won't be working as much once we get out there, so you and I will get to spend a TON of time together. Do you remember the zoo we went to back in April? Jude, we can go there every day once we move! We'll only be about a mile away from there, and the best part? It's FREE! You know what else, Jude? Wrigley Field is a short train ride away, so we can go and see the Cubs play WHENEVER WE WANT! Oh! Oh! And there's a beach in Chicago, too, Jude! It's right along Lake Michigan. I've never been there, but your papa has, and he says it's great. I can't wait to take you all over the city. We're going to have such a great time.


Saturday, June 21, 2008

Thirteen-Month Letter

Dear Jude,
Today you turned 13 months old. Hooray! Congratulations! You’re officially into your second year of life. How does it feel?

Shortly after you turned one year old, you started walking. Now that you’ve pretty much mastered that walking thing, it is no longer good enough for you. Since you can, you simply MUST run. A nice stroll down the hallway is no longer an option; you sprint whenever possible. You still fall an awful lot, but it doesn’t deter you in the slightest. You love being mobile. You love moving around. You love chasing the cats.

You and I seem to have come to an agreements of sorts. For the first part of this month, there was much whining and fussing on your part and much frustration and anger on my part. You’ve let up on the whining and fussing, and I’ve let go of (most of) the frustration and (all of) the anger. We’ve spent seven days together, one-on-one, this month. They were some of the best days we’ve had, I think. We spent a lot of the time napping together, but we also went on a walk with our friend Joanie, read a fair number of books, sang silly songs, and shared our meals at the dining room table. I didn’t get much cleaning done during these seven days, but honestly, I don’t care! We had so much fun together... I wouldn’t trade that for anything in this world. Not even a spotless house.

You have started giving the BEST. HUGS. EVER. lately. I don’t know what I did to make me rank up there with the cats, but baby, thanks! I love it when we’re playing in your room and you come barreling at me, arms wide open. Most of the time you fall into me, hugging me and holding onto me for more than a few seconds each time. It’s pure heaven... even better than chocolate.

You went swimming for the first time earlier this month, and though you were apprehensive at first, I really do think you enjoyed yourself. Your Papa is looking forward to teaching you to swim. I'm looking forward to relaxing pool-side.

As each month goes by, you become more and more vocal. I guess that's what babies do, but I'm constantly blown away by how much you have to say. In addition to talking, you've really gotten the hang of clapping this past month. Previously, you would awkwardly put your hands not quite together when Papa or I would urge you to "clap, clap, clap." Now... well, now you're an expert at clapping. There's no hesitation in your eyes anymore; there's no worry that your hands might miss each other and send you spinning around from the force of your effort. Now when you want to clap, you bring your hands together in rapid succession, each time knowing with certainty that each hand will meet it's mark.

Although I had hoped that you would live on breastmilk alone for at least the first 10 or so years of your life (hey! Mama LOVES her D cup!), you've recently started eating a ton of solid food each day. Unfortunately, I haven't found the time to make your baby food, so most of what you've been eating has come from a jar. I'm sorry, Jude. I really wanted to say that I cooked for you right from the very beginning. However, after thirteen months, I think you and I both know that Mama isn't Little Susie Homemaker. At least the jarred stuff is all organic! That's something. Right?

Thank you for another outstanding month, Baboo. I can't wait to see what next month has in store for us!


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Josh Thinks It's Funny

Josh, Jude, and I were in the car A LOT yesterday. We spent so much time driving that we listened to Jude's newest Veggie Tales CD at LEAST four times through. I forget why it came up, but at one point I told Josh that I've been singing "God Is Bigger" when I'm home alone with Jude and scared. He thought that was hilarious and told me I should post about it.

Here are the lyrics:

"God Is Bigger"
Bob: You were lying in your bed
You were feeling kind of sleepy
But you couldn't close your eyes because the room was getting creepy.
Larry: Were those eyeballs in the closet?
Was that Godzilla in the hall?

Bob: There was something big and hairy casting shadows on the wall.
Now your heart is beating like a drum
Your skin is getting clammy.
There's a hundred tiny monsters jumping right into your jammies!

Bob: What are going to do?
Junior: I'm going to call the police!
Bob: No! You don't need to do anything!
Junior: What? Why?
Bob: Because ...

Bob: God is bigger than the boogie man
He's bigger than Godzilla, or the monsters on TV
Oh, God is bigger than the boogie man
And He's watching out for you and me.

Junior: So, when I'm lying in my bed
And the furniture starts creeping
I'll just laugh and say, "Hey, cut that out!"
And get back to my sleeping
'Cause I know that God's the biggest
And He's watching all the while.
So, when I get scared I'll think of Him
And close my eyes and smile!


Monster #1: So, are you frightened?
Junior: No, not really.
Monster #2: Are you worried?
Junior: Not a bit.
I know what ever's gonna happen,
That God can handle it.

Frankencelery: I'm sorry that I scared you when you saw me on TV.

Junior: Well that's okay,
'Cuz now I know that God is taking care of me!


Junior: One more time!

All: God is bigger than the boogie man
He's bigger than Godzilla, or the monsters on TV
Oh, God is bigger than the boogie man
And He's watching out for you and me.

Monster #1: Watchin' ...
Monster #2: Watchin' ...
Monster #3: Watchin' ...
Junior: Out for you and me! Yeah

Is it really that funny that I've been reduced to singing songs written by talking vegetables? Yes?


96 Times More Bitter

*From Monday, June 16th 2008*

Today was my first day working full-time at Finn Chiropractic. I came home from the first part of my day, 8:30am-12pm, EXHAUSTED. I don't know what was wrong with me. I hadn't felt that tired in a long time. I honestly thought I was going to crash my car because I was in such a fog. Luckily, I made it home unscathed.

At home, while I was making lunch for the boys and myself, Josh started telling me about his morning with Jude. The little guy was super tired, and cried himself to an exhausted sleep on Josh's chest. This phenomenon of falling asleep sans boob in the mouth rarely occurs, and Josh was STOKED to get to indulge in a two-hour-long nap with his son. I have to be honest, people of the internet... I was bitter at hearing that news. There I was, so. freaking. tired. and hungry. and tired. and wanting sympathy, and what do I get? A play-by-play of all the napping goodness my husband and son shared. Jerks.

I expressed my displeasure at having missed out on the napping to Josh. "And yes," I said, "I do realize that I get to nap with Jude all the time, but I DON'T CARE (insert foot stomping)! I'm tired (stomp!), and you got to nap TODAY (stomp, stomp!). And IT'S NOT FAIR (pout!)!" That short monologue got me a rather amused look, and after some quick math work, Josh told me that he was 96 times more bitter than I was.

Josh's math is a little off, thought I don't think he realizes it yet. Josh somehow equated me working three times a week for about eight months with me napping just three times a week for eight months. (3 times/week at an average of 4 weeks in a month times 8 months of Jude's life equals 96 times more bitter than I am.) In reality, the math really works out like this:

Number of days Jude has been alive - 391
Average number of naps I take with Jude daily - 1.5
Total number of days I haven't napped with Jude - 3

*(391-3) X 1.5 = 582

By my calculations, Josh should be 582 times more bitter than I am for having missed out on napping with our son. I guess I'm lucky he majored in English and not math. Could you imagine the resentment if he realized that he had the right to be more than 6 times more bitter than he thinks he ought to be? Wow.

*Don't forget 5th grade math. Order of operations = P E D/M A/S

Girls' Night In

*From Saturday, June 14th 2008*

Okay, so maybe I didn't spend tonight in the awesome city of Chicago meeting new people and living the life of a bachelor, but I did get to spend a wonderful evening with my son and our friends Sara, Stefanie, and Crosby (Stefanie's son) in Scranton. Home of The Office. So there.

My church's gathering got canceled tonight, but Stefanie was gracious enough to invite Jude and I over for a play date and dinner. Sara had the evening free, so I invited her to come along as well. We shared a veggie pizza, some great conversation, and the watermelon that had been rolling around the floor of the front seat of my car for the past three days. Jude and Crosby played together. Crosby modeled sharing to my sweet little boy. Jude systematically took each of Crosby's toys from him as he picked them up. Stefanie let my child have the run of her house and didn't break a sweat once... not even when he started pulling the books from her bookshelf. She is a seasoned mom: caring and kind; calm and collected; loving and engaging. Her and Crosby have such a lovely relationship. I love watching them interact. I hope I can be as present to Jude as Stefanie is to Crosby. I hope that when Jude is five, the bond between he and I is as apparent as the one between Crosby and Stefanie is.

Tonight's impromptu girls' night supplied me with a much needed break. Sara and Stefanie each had a hand in watching Jude... Sara repeatedly picked him up and threw him in the air, and Stefanie fed him watermelon while I finished my pizza. Crosby even helped out by yelling, "HE'S ON THE STAIRS! I NEED HELP! HE'S ON THE STAIRS!" when Jude crawled over to and up the stairs. And even more than all of that, tonight's get-together gave me a little break from being me. Tonight I wasn't lonely. I didn't want for adult interaction. I didn't worry (too much) about Jude being wound up so close to his bedtime. I had thoughtful conversations with two extremely thoughtful women. I relinquished my need to hover and my need to worry and be uptight.

That's right, people of the internet, I truly feel that it's not just that I'm wired to worry and to be uptight, I feel like the need to worry and be uptight is ingrained in me. It's subconscious for the most part, but every now again when I'm with Jude and he's being fussy (for instance) I'll get very close to being able to just shrug it off and accept that sometimes kids just get fussy, but then I start thinking that his crankiness is supposed to upset and frustrate me. That's what parents do: they lament when their children have bad days; they feel helpless; they grow tired of the crying. They lose it, and thus, so do I.

Tonight, I was able to let go of that need. I let Jude play without worrying. When we got home tonight, I recognized that he was probably a bit overtired and just accepted the fact that he might not settle in as easily as he normally does. He cried while I was in the shower, but instead of getting anxious and feeling like I had to feel like I had to rush through my shower (does that make sense?), I talked to him and sang while I finished up as quickly as I could without throwing out my back from hurried and over-zealous body washing. The wonderful thing about tonight was that Jude and I had a great time together. He had fun playing at Stef's. He calmed down really quickly once I got out of the shower and rescued him from his crib, and he actually settled in to sleep quite easily, despite being overtired. I don't know if it's the luck of the draw or if he has picked up on me being more in tune with how I react to him and his needs, but today, even if it wasn't spent walking the fantastic Chicago streets, was a really great day for us.

Just Tired

*Written on Friday, June 13, 2008.*

It's 9:17PM, and I'm one short blog post away from hitting the sack. Hard

Josh left for Chicago a little bit ago. His flight got changed because his connecting flight got grounded in Philly, so he ultimately ended up flying on a delayed direct flight to ORD. He should be landing in a little over an hour. I am sleeping with my cell phone tucked near my head tonight.

So, it's Night One of my weekend adventure without Josh. Tonight is going... as well as could be expected. Jude was tired and hungry and TIRED when we got home from work tonight, and I had to make the poor kid wait to settle in for the night until after I made myself dinner. He made it through with minimal fussing; probably because I ate so quickly that I didn't even taste my dinner. It's been 388 days since I've really been able to enjoy a meal. Ever since Jude was born I've been eating one-handed while he sleeps at my breast, or I've been eating at warp-speed to circumvent a total meltdown. I can't wait to eat slowly again. I can't wait to taste my food... to savor its flavor. At this point in my life, you could throw just about anything in front of me at meal time, and I wouldn't give it a second thought before inhaling it in its entirety.

And now, I'm going to retire to bed with my sweet, sweet baboo. G'night, people of the internet.

Marco!... Polo!

Before getting schnookered on bourbon and vodkda last Thursday evening, Josh and I took Jude swimming for the first time at our friend Maria's house. We expected Jude to really love the water. He loves taking a bath and splashing around in there.

You can't tell from this photo, but the pool water really concerned Jude. It wasn't nice and warm like his bath water. He couldn't stand up on his own like he can in the tub at home (not that we let him stand in the tub! What kind of parents would we be if we let the kid stand in a tub of slippery water?!). Oh, and did I mention it wasn't warm like the bathwater he's used to? Because it wasn't. It was NOT WARM.

Overall, I think Jude had a really great time. He swallowed a few gallons of water, but eh... no harm done.

Here's one more picture of today's outting:

Am I Talking Really Loud? Subtitle: I'm a Cheap Date

It's amazing what a few shots of bourbon and another shot of vodka will do to a girl.

I was at a party last Thursday, perusing the bar, when the guest of honor asked me what I would like. That's a fine question. You see, a while back, I was pregnant. I was pregnant for 40 weeks and 3 days. During those 283 days I had an occasional half-glass of wine, but I really didn't DRINK.

As an aside, you would not BELIEVE the dirty looks I got from the nurse at an OB's office that I considered using during my intake appointment.
Her: "Have you stopped drinking?"
Me: "Well, I have an occasional glass of wine, but..."
Her (sporting an evil nasty death stare):"What?!?! You MUST stop drinking! Don't you know that letting the tiniest drop of alcohol pass your lips WILL KILL YOUR CHILD?!?!!!"
Me: "Uhm. No."
And I continued to indulge in a small glass of wine on occasion throughout my pregnancy. Oh. And Jude's alive. Just in case you were wondering.

Anyway, I was pregnant for 283 days, and I've been a nursing mom now for 387 days. I simply don't know "what I would like." "Well," I say, considering my choices carefully, "I like whiskey. I like Jameson on the rocks or in a highball cut with ginger ale." "My kind of girl," he replies as he scoops a few cubes of ice into a glass. What he covered those ice cubes with was some of the finest bourbon I've ever tasted. I sipped on that for a while, later committing the cardinal sin of cutting it with coke. No, not the white kind of coke, the canned kind of coke. I felt HORRIBLE for ruining such a smooth, perfect beverage, but I'm a lightweight. I can't throw 'em back like I could in junior high.

My second (or was it mt third?) drink was a mixture of vodka, orange/mango juice, and cranberry juice. With a twist of lime. It was fantastically fruity. By the time I was done with it, I was sporting the drunk-girl smile and was complaining that my legs felt heavy.

We all had a great time tonight. I felt wonderful to get out and decompress after what has been a busy few weeks. And as another aside... Jude seems to be sleeping exceptionally well tonight. Muahahahaha!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

My Apology

Dear Jude,

I wish I was writing this letter to celebrate another month of your life, but sadly, I am not.

The past few days have been terribly hard for you and me. You’re either teething or not feeling well or you’re bored or you can’t communicate exactly what it is you want, and I… well, I’ve been getting frustrated and angry and annoyed. I haven’t been as patient as I need to be. I haven’t been the best mom that I can be; I feel like I’ve been down right rotten. Ever since I let the internet people in on my dirty little secret of my abysmal parenting skills, things have just gotten worse. And what’s more humiliating is that I can’t stop writing about my subsequent shortcomings (what kind of mother lets her child get a CAT’S NAIL stuck in his/her mouth?). I have verbal diarrhea of the writing kind.

All of the things that used to entertain you don’t cut it anymore. I thought that giving you the run of the upstairs would be exciting for you (and I hoped that it would make things a little easier for me). That worked for about a day, but now you’re just done with that too.

You’ve started getting very daring with the cats, and while they put up you right now, I can see their patience waning. You have scratches on your hands from trying to hug Cirrus when he didn’t want to be hugged. I know you love them and their furry little bodies, but baby, they need their space! I’ll be happy to be the one you hug. I know I’m not furry, but give me a few weeks! I’ll quit shaving!

None of this is your fault. You’re a year old. You can’t control your emotions or understand that you’re not supposed to pull the cats’ tails. You can’t be expected to recognize when you’re overtired or hell, even when you’re just plain old regular tired. That’s my job. It’s my job to anticipate and meet your needs. It’s my job to recognize when you’re tired or hungry or bored and do my best to remedy the situation. It’s my job to do all of this in a caring and respectful fashion. You don’t deserve my anger or frustration, and I’m sorry you’ve had to be on the receiving end of it.

So, tonight I am a new woman. I am a new mother. When you wake up in the morning, Jude, you’re going to be blown away by the difference you sense in me. I can’t promise you that I won’t screw up and revert to my old ways, but I can promise you that I’m going to try my best to be better for you, because you deserve to have the best mama in the world.


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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

My, What Big Teeth You Have

Today was another trying day.

Early this afternoon, my whiny child started signing “milk” and getting, well, progressively more and more whiny. I sat down to nurse him and he just started SCREAMING. For a minute or two I held onto him, shhh-ed him, and tried to calm him down. Nothing worked and he continued SCREAMING. This act gave me a great view into his tiny baby mouth. So, as he was SCREAMING, I was looking to see if any new teeth were ready to pop through because, THERE MUST BE SOMETHING MAKING HIM SCREAM LIKE HE IS. As I was scanning his gums, I noticed that right behind his two front teeth there was a hard, white mass. Holy shit… my son has a rogue tooth growing behind his front teeth. I SCREAMED for Josh because there was no way I could deal with the gnarly thing on my own.

Josh came up and surveyed the situation. He thought it was a tooth, but by that time I had decided that it was much too big to be a tooth and that somehow Jude must have injured the roof of his mouth and was now suffering from some horrible abscess. This made tons of sense to me because nipples are sharp and pointy, and that kid always has a nipple in his mouth.

As I rushed around looking for my phone, looking up the dentist’s number, calling the dentist and leaving a frantic message with his secretary, Josh grabbed a flashlight and attempted to get a better look at the mass. (All the while, Jude was SCREAMING. Did I mention that yet?) As soon as I hung up with the dentist’s office, Josh announced that he didn’t think it was a tooth or a horrible abscess resulting from roof of the mouth trauma. It was his belief that Jude had a cat’s nail wedged behind his teeth.

Huh? What? Are you fucking serious?

Okay. We have three adorable cats. Our cats have all their claws because to declaw them would be inhumane and horrible and we would certainly be sent to hell if we allowed such an atrocity to be committed. So, our cats have their claws, and cats’ claws shed their outer layer as they scratch things like the carpet or the couch or the box spring of the bed you’re still paying on. Josh and I try (sometimes unsuccessfully) to keep a tidy house. We vacuum or use the dustbuster whenever we see something that needs vacuumed or dustbusted. I guess we missed something.

The poor kid had a cat’s nail stuck behind his front teeth.

Josh was able to remove the nail after just a minute or two of adept finger work. There was no blood, and Josh doesn’t think it was embedded in the gum tissue at all, but Christ. Am I the worst mother in the world or what?

Maybe I’m just the worst housekeeper in the world.

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Monday, June 02, 2008

Sometimes I Need a Break

I have to be honest. Sometimes I just need a break from my sweet little boy.

This morning Jude wakes up at 5:55am. That’s early for him and really early for us. Almost immediately the whining starts. He nurses for a minute or two but then wants to get down. He gets down and signs “milk,” which really means “just feed me,” so I take him downstairs and fed him some cereal and pears. Then he starts signing “milk” again, so both Josh and I figure he REALLY means “milk” this time, so we head back upstairs and I sit down to nurse him, and OH THE CRYING THAT ENSUED. Then I put him down, and then he’s signing “milk” again. *sigh*

I hate feeling this way. I hate that sometimes I feel like I just can’t take the crying. Sometimes, no matter how hard I talk myself through it… “He’s only a year old. Even he doesn’t know what he wants.” “He’s just trying to communicate with me.” “He’s not trying to drive me crazy. He’s just upset.” Well, that rational side doesn’t always win out. Once in a while I just scream. Less often, I’ll punch something (usually a wall-not hard enough to damage the wall, but certainly hard enough to make my hand sting). I don’t do either of these things in Jude’s presence, but sometimes, it’s all I can do to make it though another hour of not knowing why the little guy is whining.

I always feel horrible when I lose it. The anger of not knowing how to help my son is always followed by deep sadness and sobbing. I don’t know why I’m not able to deal. Possibly because Jude’s cranky times are so few and far between. He is such a happy and content baby. His fussy times are usually linked to something-teething, sickness, overtiredness. It’s just that every now and again I can’t figure out what that “something” is, and that frustrates me to no end.

Oh my. I feel horrible for even writing that I feel this way. I LOVE my son. I love every minute with him. I want to be able to handle his meltdowns with better poise. I don’t want to have to say, “I need a break,” but dammit, sometimes I do.

*smile* My husband is a mind reader. He just came in the bedroom and told me that he’s taking Jude for a walk because “you need a break.” Bless him.

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Saturday, May 31, 2008

My Dusty Bookshelf

I need to find time to read something more substantial than Charlie Parker Played Be Bop.

Rachel over at Yestertime just blogged about her son and his constant need for an audience. I kind of laughed when I read her musings. I mean, I get it. Even at just a little more than a year old, Jude just LOVES to interact with whoever is around. He only enjoys playing by himself for a few minutes at a time, and it's often times hard for me to get a minute to use the bathroom.

Sometimes I miss being able to pick a book off my bookshelf and sit down to read it. Now I have to settle for two pages here and another three or four pages there. I rarely get through an entire chapter in one sitting, and I can't tell you what the last book was that I read straight through. Heck, I started reading The Price of Motherhood about a month before Jude was born, and I still haven't finished it.

So I'm wondering, does it get better or worse as time goes by? When Jude is three, will I be able to sit down with a cup of coffee and read a few chapters of a book while he plays with some blocks on the floor next to me? Am I destined to never finish another book again? Should I just be happy with getting to read Knuffle Bunny and On the Day You Were Born on a regular basis?
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