Monday, February 01, 2016

Frances Dolli Beatrix

This is belated, Francie. And not because I haven't thought about recording your birth story or posting pictures of you, but because since you were born I have been soaking you in, breathing in your smell, kissing your face, your hands, your feet all day long. I've been holding you and your brother as much as I can and I haven't wanted to do much else.
On the day you were born I left your brother with Grandma while Daddy and I went to the hospital. We sat in a room. We had some tests done. Daddy put on a white paper suit that made him look like the stay-puffed marshmallow man and I laughed and shook while we walked to the operating room.
I was scared. My first experience with birth left me traumatized, but after having you I feel healed and whole.
You were born after ten minutes. Beautiful. Pink. Nine pounds, 2 ounces. 20 inches long. The scale at first said you were 4 pounds and the nurses had to weigh you several times to get what they felt was an accurate weight. They put you on my chest. You didn't cry. Such soft and gentle contentment. I kissed your face and I cried. I felt joy and relief and wonder.
Two hours after you were born the nurses took you to the newborn intensive care unit. I was on excessive doses of pain medication and I was devastated. Your blood sugar was 2 mg under the accepted limit. I begged them not to take you. I cried all day. Each time a person walked past our door or I heard the squeaking wheels of a plastic incubator I hoped without reason that it was you coming back to me.
Every moment with you since has been a blessing.
You are almost seven months old now.
You are amazing.
You love to look at faces. You smile constantly and enjoy making eye contact with strangers. You love to laugh with your brother. He rubs your head. He kisses you goodnight. He calls you "bobo." He shares his much loved blankets with you. He makes sure you're snugly in your car seat and refuses to leave the house without you. He loves you. You have long fuzzy hair, just like Flynn did at this age and the softest skin, gray eyes and the sweetest disposition of any young child I have ever encountered. You rarely cry or fuss. Every morning when I see your face I am filled with excitement and joy. You are held and loved constantly and you deserve every good thing that comes your way because you are simply stunning, Frances Dolli Beatrix Barton. You are named from three beautiful women and I have felt from the moment you were born that I am the luckiest person in the world to experience your life with you-- my amazing, happy, sweet, delightful, wonderful daughter.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

More than Words, or the Absence of Them Altogether

A million years ago, when Flynn was 15 months old, I took him to the pediatrician for a checkup. He asked all the regular questions,
"Does he eat with a spoon?"
"Does he cry when you leave and is he happy to see you when you return?"
"Does he have 10 or more words?"
"Mama, Daddy, milk?"
"No, nothing."

At his doctor's suggestion we started early intervention speech therapy. Once every two weeks a therapist would come to our house and play with Flynn, trying to get him to imitate sounds and actions. The year came and went and there was nothing, nothing, nothing.
No words. No mama. No dada.
Sounds that he would pick up he would lose a few weeks later. He started to get frustrated and have tantrums. We started to worry. We implemented a bit of sign language into our routine and it helped. We sought more therapy and Flynn made progress. He blew out candle flames. He played a kazoo. He said, "Leethka! Leethka!" over and over again and we thought it was nonsense until he enlightened us by pointing to a picture of a police car.
Last week Flynn's pathologist diagnosed him with something called childhood speech apraxia, a disconnect between the brain and the mouth. He knows what he wants to say, but the process of planning the words, moving the muscles and making the correct sounds is not something that comes naturally to him. All the things we take for granted when we speak, neurons firing in milliseconds, is a long process for Flynn. And as he has tried to create the sounds that he wants and is met with misunderstanding and confusion he has already tasted the bitterness of failure.
My son understands everything you say. He knows when you say hi to him that he won't say hi back. He knows when you ask him how old he is that he can't respond. It kills me when well meaning people say things like, "Oh, he'll talk when he's ready" or "watch, he'll just start speaking in complete sentences!" That would be wonderful, but what if he doesn't? Isn't that okay too? Isn't it okay if his speech delay is exactly that- a delay- and not some latent genius?  I don't ever want to explain to someone that my son "doesn't talk," because he does talk-- he uses cadences and syllables and is extremely animated and engaging. His words just aren't clear or consistent. He wants desperately to be understood, and is so proud of his successes. I don't want to pretend that his speech will magically work itself out. I'm okay if it doesn't. It is a part of our lives. It has brought us into contact with wonderful people who love Flynn. Like any one single thing, it's a big part of him but it doesn't define who he is.
Today he is three years old.
When I look at Flynn, I am astounded by how beautiful he is. I can't believe his gorgeous little body came from me. His thick head of hair, his huge green eyes. He has a sweet smile and a very contagious belly laugh. And, even at this young age, I can see the goodness in his heart. Gentle and softer than most boys his age. He calls Francie "bobo" and kisses her head, shares his blankets with her, and fetches me if she is crying. Lately he has mastered "uh-huh" for yes while doing the sign for please, and also the word please, which he pronounces "leeeee!" At night when Jason and I tuck him in we ask, "Do you love Daddy and Mommy?" to which he replies, "Uh huh," and gives us each a kiss.
My son has never said, "I love you" or "Mama." And for a long time it hurt my heart. But I look at his face that I love so much, at his little smile, and I feel the way he puts his arms around me when I hold him and I am grateful that, for some things, words just aren't necessary.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A reflection on two year olds

Becoming a mother is the only thing I have ever done on blind faith.

With Flynn, that pregnancy test was the one time I have ever truly been shocked. My mom and sister planned a surprise party for me on my 16th birthday. I was surprised then- or confused rather for about five minutes when I didn't know how to react. But this... this was different. Shock, yes. But it was more. It was so mind blowing, so unexpected that I immediately accepted it as truth the moment I saw the pregnancy test had a pink plus sign. WHAM! There it is. And only when I held my son for the first time in my arms did I realize that the initial shock had finally worn off, 33 weeks later.

Before Flynn's birth I had the assurances of some- my mother, close friends, my husband- that of course you will be a great mother! But other than that, and the limited passive-aggressive relationship I had with our cat, Winston, motherhood was never something I had thought about, let alone planned for. I remember worrying vaguely that I might be an abusive parent, because I have a violent streak in me that is quite unexpected. Perhaps due to my mother's excitement or the many stray cats and birds I cared for in my past, I never really worried that I would be a bad mom. I never thought I would be fabulous, like a Lorelai Gilmore to my genius offspring but I thought I'd probably be okay, and that always seemed good enough for me. I figured I would learn and things would work themselves out.

As Flynn and I have entered the Terrible Two dynamic of our lives, I've realized that parenthood is wildly more complex than I previously imagined. Before his birth, throughout his infancy and even now I never have given myself much credit. I never thought ahead of what kind of mother I thought I would be versus what I might actually be like. Everything is in regretful retrospect with a hint of a positive afterthought. I ate too many fries while I was pregnant (but he was so adorable and fat!).  I watched too much TV while I was breastfeeding (but I held him in my arms all day long). I don't play outside with him enough. (He loves me anyway, right?)  I do think of good things in retrospect too, but, elusively, they are harder to recall than the bad.

But the truth is I'm a better mom than I think. I'm the woman at the grocery store with the screaming toddler. I can keep my voice calm and cheerful, pull toys and endless snacks out of my purse, and keep my emotions set to sympathy and frustration rather than anger. I'm the woman in the restaurant with the screaming toddler. I can get him to eat-- sometimes. I'm the woman in the family picture with the screaming toddler in her lap. I can still smile at the camera, turn to my husband, and laugh. I'm okay with not being perfect and that's what makes me a better mom. Every day there are problems, and every day I try to work through them with Flynn.  His speech is limited right now but his need to connect is just as powerful as mine, maybe more. I am learning sign language for my son, because I love him. Sometimes I forget the signs. Or I anticipate Flynn's needs without giving him a chance to communicate them to me. Or I scold myself thinking, "we should have started this a year ago!"  But I try again and again because I want to help him communicate those impassioned meltdowns into something productive. I want to empower my child. The tantrums will happen but I see an independence in him that makes me so proud to be his mom. After two years of parenting, my laissez faire attitude has changed very little. Just add in some more constructive play time, lots of, "Flynn, look at Mommy's eyes" and a little more tried and true faith in the balance of the world and I think, yes, things are just as they should be.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Two years

Shortly after we had moved to Salt Lake City I was browsing the baby squeeze yogurts in our local grocery store when an elderly gentleman approached me. I was holding Flynn, then only a few months old, in my arms. After making a few pleasantries and faces for the benefit of the baby he began to walk away, turned again and said to me, "you are so lucky."
As a young, sleep-deprived mother who had undergone an unexpected traumatic surgery and a painful labor after a surprise pregnancy I had never really considered myself lucky. Blessed, certainly. Full of love and joy most definitely. But never lucky. 

I have thought of that man and his words over the past two years more than I can count. I think about when I was pregnant and how every morning felt like waking up from a wonderful dream in reverse. I would remember my pregnancy in small moments throughout the day and my heart would flutter and a surge of excitement would burn in my chest. It was like getting little gifts throughout the weeks. Here a flutter, then a push. I now see what a miracle he is, how his chances of never existing were so much greater than his spontaneous blooming into being. Now when I look back at Flynn's ultrasound pictures I see the face that I love so dearly, squished and distorted, but still so undeniably him. I think about how kind and loving he has become, how funny, how brave, and I often wonder what I have done to deserve the great honor of being his mother. He fills my heart with joy. I miss his company when he takes a several hours long nap. I love his smell, his little pointed teeth, his beautiful eyes that remind me of the color of the sea. He has changed our lives in so many tiny miraculous ways. Sometimes I feel frustrated, tired, weighed down with the ups and downs of toddlerhood. But he has given me such hope. And that wise, unknown stranger was right; more than anything my son makes me feel like the luckiest woman in the world.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Fool me once...

Once, when I was about four, my mom popped out on me with a cackle while wearing a fake witch's nose. It was wholly unexpected and rather traumatizing. She doesn't remember it. When I told her about it she said, "Oh that's awful! I'm sorry," which I genuinely appreciate. At the time, however, I remember crying and being extremely afraid of my mother for some days, and the basement for years, afterward. This day of the year always brings to mind self-centered humor-- you know, jokes at someone else's expense.  I see this pattern of selfish humor coming out in me more and more as I get older, too. I regularly pop out from behind doorways and corners to scare Jason, Flynn and even Winston because, let's face it, I find it amusing. We've all done it. I know I have. But nobody, nobody I have ever known, does selfish humor like my mom.

I think it started with my brother, Gavin. He called home one year on April first to tell my parents that he had decided to join a crew of Swedish whale harpooners in the North Atlantic. It sounds ludicrous but my brother had already spent a backbreaking summer on a Norwegian oil rig where he grew an enormous red beard so it actually didn't seem too off the mark for him. My parents spent nearly forty minutes trying to talk him out of it before he told them, laughing, "April Fools!"
And they loved it, both of them. They thought it was hilarious and seemed to take it deeply to heart-- especially my mom. The next year she gathered all of my siblings together and told us she was leaving for Norway straightaway to become a nanny for somebody else's children. We were confused and didn't believe her until she quite gravely assured us that, yes, she was leaving and we probably wouldn't see her ever again. After the tears and confusion and passing years when we have tried to confront our mother about this particular April Fool's joke she seems even more confused than us. "You didn't think that was funny?" she'd say, looking upset and annoyed, "why can't you take a joke?"

It seems that my mother's April Fool's go in cycles. She will have an extreme one, and then tone it down a bit the next year. Something mildly upsetting but not panic-inducing. This is an email she sent a couple years back:

I HESITATE TO TYPE THIS!  The past many months, yrs. have really been a struggle for me.   This Fybro. is merely a name for a multitude of health issues, which are complicated  and also involve environment.  Therefore,  I decided to start a series of injections here ,formulated by an Environmental Medicine MD in Santa Fe. Separately taken will include Food, Seasonal plus dust mites etc and Chemical allergies.  It will take up to two years!  ...

ALL THIS DETAIL IS TO TELL YOU, ARE YOU SITTING DOWN?  Since I am so skinny and weak, your father has decided he will retire sooner than later and we will move to Price, yes Price.  The air here has been terrible as is the water.  Kim says he will hunt and therefore I would be  able to as my body adjusts and grows T Cells antigens, eat meat again!  and I  THOUGHT I could just avoid meat!  NOT WORKING,  Believe me I am ready to do all  I can.  This is why I say" Never Say Never. " An added bonus is retirement would be cheaper, people are nice practical, shopping is far, AIR IS CLEAN, NATURE IS BEAUTIFUL IN SURROUNDING MOUNTAINS AND CANYONS, LESS SNOW, CULTURE "INTERESTING", WE MIGHT EVEN GET CALLINGS!  IT WOULD BE SORT OF A MISSION. I regret no nearby temple!  It is not right away  much to take care of  and my doc says this would help and I can EXTEND THE INJECTIONS, UGH! but  will take time to plan.  We love you.  Make it a good day!

While none of my siblings believed for one second that our parents would ever, ever move back to Price, Utah this was still disturbing to me because there was still a kernel of truth. My mom was weak. She was skinny. She did have one million and one food allergies. She plays on our emotions and then laughs at us! It is the most selfish humor of all, sort of like that year on April Fool's when she told me she was pregnant. This is when I was 16 and she was 58.

When I was in college my mom had surgery on her legs to remove some varicose veins that had grown there. While it was a safe procedure it did warrant extra care and, as her child, I was concerned for her. I remember receiving a phone call one evening. Her voice sounded strained and tired.
"Jos, the surgery didn't go well. I'm having some post-op problems."
"What! What's wrong?"
My heart was filled with fear.
"My veins...are weak. They're pooling with blood. I might have to have another surgery otherwise it could turn into a blood clot."
"Oh my gosh! I can't believe it. Are you serious?"
"What will they do?"
"Marcy said we could try leeches."
"...I'm sorry, what?"
"Leeches! Like in the olden days. They are very effective. She would put them on for about 15 minutes on each leg to drain the excess blood. I'm having it done tomorrow."
"...They want you to put...leeches... on your legs? Is that safe? I thought they stopped doing that a long, long time ago....?"
"Oh, it's quite safe! Got to go! Bye!"

It was only after she hung up on me and I discussed my troubled thoughts with my then-boyfriend that I realized that this was probably another of her April Fool's jokes. But you see, that's the thing-- she never condescended to actually tell me that she was joking. I'm sure my mother was having a hearty laugh on the other end of the line or possibly calling up the rest of my siblings while I was left in agony worrying about her potential blood clots that would soon be devoured by hungry leeches. I mean-- how did she even come up with this stuff?
I wasn't the only one in my family who was foolish enough to believe this story, either. My oldest sister cried when my mom told her the news, being squeamish about both blood and bugs. I got a phone call from her a few days later. She was concerned about our mother's choice in health care professional.
"Why?" I asked.
"Didn't you hear? Her doctor wants her to put leeches," she whispered the word, "on her legs!"
"You know that was for April Fool's, right?"
"It was her April Fool's joke."
"I am going to kill her."

I love my mom. One of my worst fears is losing her, which I suppose is what makes all her April Fool's shenanigans so awful--they all have to do with some kind of terrible loss: moving away, health problems, taking on the demands of yet another child.  Perhaps she thinks these are funny pranks to play on her children because she knows she'll never leave us. Or maybe at the time she really wanted to get away and it was her way of escaping for just a moment. Or maybe it's all just an outstanding ability to poke fun at her own terrible struggles with keeping on weight and staying healthy. I think that now I am beginning to understand a bit more about selfish humor-- why we think it's funny. While it is indeed selfish, it's also a way of coping with reality. That people get health problems. That our bodies crumble and life stinks. And sometimes we just need to laugh, even if we're laughing alone.
My mother is a wonderful person and I love her selfish humor. Perhaps not so much as the crying child thinking that her mom is leaving her for a better child in Norway or as the mortified teenager who thinks her mom is going to be the world's oldest pregnant woman, but I understand her version of April Fool's now and, given a few years to mull it over, I can take a joke too.

Thanks, Mom.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Confessions from deep within my pancreas

Perhaps this is something you can understand.
Then again, maybe it isn't.
I don't talk about it much because it isn't often on my mind. It's a part of my life but it doesn't define me. But if you know me, I know you think about it. And if you're like me, everyone you know thinks about it too.

Like many people in this world, I have diabetes.

This is us. The People with Problems. The Diseased Without a Cure. The Young and the Sick. It is hard for me to convey what it's like to be young with a chronic disease without sounding like a pity brigade. My brother has Addison's Disease. My mom has hypothyroidism. My friend has heart defects.
We are all different. We all have our own difficulties. And sometimes it's all so terribly hard to understand.

Contrary to popular belief, my pancreas does work. It doesn't produce T-cells because my body began attacking them for unknown reasons when I was young. Over time it started to slow down production. And then, eventually, it just stopped.
And my life changed.
I thought my life was shortened-- maybe even close to ending. Even if it wasn't it had certainly taken a chaotic turn: meal plans and carbohydrate counting and insulin shots-- oh my! For my eleven year old brain it was a lot to comprehend-- it still is, in fact. I'll be the first to admit that I don't understand everything about my condition and that being young, positive and adaptable has often blinded me to the ugliest parts of my disease. But as I've grown older I've begun to realize how diabetes has blessed my life in that odd, roundabout way that trials often do. Everybody has something with which they must struggle. Anxiety, weight struggles, a propensity to get a lot of cavities, dry skin-- it's the nature of life, of aging, and the world we live in. I think the most important thing I have learned from my disease was at the tender age of eleven. This atrophy and inevitable degeneration of our bodies is cruel, but it is also wonderfully, amazingly endurable.

Because of diabetes, I may see things -especially food- differently than you. I often look at what I eat as a series of potential highs or lows. As gut wrenching thirst or monstrous hunger. The feeling of being sick from water but wanting more at the same time. Unless you have experienced severe hypoglycemia-- I don't mean fasting hunger when you feel weak and angry but the kind that could potentially kill you-- I don't think you can understand how scary it is to be low or how amazing food tastes to a hypoglycemic diabetic. And I can't describe adequately the feeling of waking up in the night covered in sweat, and the uncontrollable shaking of my hands when the lights I turn on are blurry and the walls move and I forget what it is I'm doing and what I need or where I am. It's like the synapses in my brain are firing and firing away but there is no connection on the other end. I am no longer me. Sometimes I may act different-- may say things that don't make sense, may cry and seem confused. But mostly I become a non-person. Not able to feel, not able to think or rationalize. Not being me is a terrifying thought. And to think that one could lose oneself completely just from skipping some meals or self administering too much insulin are fears that have kept my mother awake for many sleepless nights.

After I was diagnosed, my parents became obsessed with food. My mom worried. She fretted constantly, pacing the house late at night and shaking me awake early in the morning for fear I would seize up and die. Because of her anxiety, my mom and I developed a very tense relationship throughout my teenage years. I wanted independence; she wanted safety. I wanted to eat what I wanted, she wanted me to be careful. I didn't want to check my blood sugar and she, obviously, did not concede with my wishes. It was hard. It was stressful. It made us both sad and angry. I see now how she must have suffered-- must still suffer from worry. I wasn't sensitive to it at the time but having a child of my own has changed everything. I feel her fear echoed in my own mind when I look at Flynn and know that because of me he has an elevated risk of contracting an autoimmune deficiency. It is minuscule, but it is there. I do not want to be responsible for my child's health defects. I never want to be the reason he has to poke his fingers or take pills or give himself shots. If anything ever happened to him, if he is ever diagnosed with diabetes, I wonder if the guilt of it would crush me.
My mother felt this once and I feel her pain now, doubly so since I know that diabetes is a never ending battle. Every growth spurt, surge of hormones, meal and snack tips the delicate scale of blood sugar and can send you sprawling either way-- high or low-- into paralyzing sickness.
Being a teenager is hard.
Being a teenager with a chronic illness is harder.

And these fears started long before Flynn was born. Long before I was married I worried about having children for this very reason. And then when I found out I was pregnant I was in agony over my unborn child. Anyone who has a child could understand this anxiety. About his heart. About his lungs, his legs and his veins. But they may not feel the peril, the paralyzing fear, knowing that every organ in his little body could be negatively affected by anything I ingested.
And then, the worst part. Despite how hard I tried to control my blood-sugar during pregnancy, when I tried unsuccessfully for two hours to push out Flynn my diabetes conquered me. My baby was 10 pounds and had to be delivered by c-section because he was too chubby for any tools the doctor had to fit through my pelvis. He arrived with bruises all over his little body and a black eye because even the most forceful methods of delivery were not enough to birth him. And I was weak, I stopped caring. I gave up because of my diabetes. It was heartbreaking to think that I did that. I did that to him. My son was impossibly chubby because of me.  Because of my diabetes. Even though I don't think about it often, I can't deny it is a part of me-- my disease. And Flynn. He has my genes. He has my eyes. Will he inherit my diabetes? My teenage attitude? These fill me with aching fear when I allow them in my mind.

But more often than not, I look at my son and remember that Jason and I have given him more than a slightly elevated chance of becoming diabetic.
Because of me, my son has a healthy heart.
And legs that walk and run and dance.
And perfect little organs.
And a head full of hair.
Because I tried so hard to take care of myself so I can take care of him, he is alive. He is well. And he has me, his mother who is also alive. And because of my diabetes I always want to feed him healthy food and take him to his doctor's appointments and poke his finger every once in awhile, just to be safe.
Just to be quite sure. Because everybody has something.
And I may not know everything that is to come but I do know this: because of my diabetes, for my son, I'm ready.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Apartment Living

We live in a relatively small and rather old apartment complex. It's fine for us as far as space goes but there are some aesthetic (as well as sanitary!) aspects to renting that I often wish I could reverse. When we moved into our current apartment I immediately went to work on trying to make it as *cute* as possible because, let's face it. That's the most important thing.
The former tenants left the place filthy. I've been scrubbing and cleaning and after 7 months of frequent interruptions I think it's finally clean. I mean really clean. Like scrubbing between every individual piece of tile clean. I learned something new: if the grout on your floor is brown, it probably shouldn't be. It took a long time but ours is now white, thanks to Oxi Clean and the sacrifice of the skin of my hands.
I didn't record how-to's with many of these crafts because I am extremely impatient when I start feeling creative, so if you have questions just ask and I'll do my best to steer you in the right direction.

Problem: Drab walls
Solution 1: Painting the furniture.
Because I can't paint my walls I paint all my furniture.  Most of it is bought from craigslist and could use some refresh anyway. This little rocker however, is something special. My older brother, Kristian made it for me as a Christmas present when I was 4. I brought it home for Flynn and gave it a little refresh. He adores it.

Solution 2: Gallery wall
I got these frames from DI. I spray painted them using Rustoleum's metallic champagne mist paint. I cut out pictures from an old calendar that featured early 1900 botanical prints. Stag head is from Restoration Hardware and frame is from IKEA. I tore apart the clock and re-did the background with wrapping sheets from Rifle Paper Co. 

Solution 3: DIY silhouettes
I know these are a big trend right now, but if you can't afford real art you might as well make your own. 

Problem 2: Lighting
Like many apartments, ours came with terrible lighting. Extremely dim with lights that were mounted in the corner of the room (why?) and an enormous fluorescent light in the kitchen. I hate fluorescent lighting, so I went to work wiring some chandeliers I bought so they could be swag mounted and plugged into an outlet. 

Problem 3: Kid friendly
It's hard to make a small space functional for both you and your little one. I wanted to make a reading nook for Flynn but wasn't sure where I would have room to fashion it. It turned into a dual canopy-reading nook and it is exactly what you think it is: an embroidery hoop and curtains. He LOVES it. I will often find him behind his bed reading in his nook.

Kid crafts:
My little guy is still really young but these next two projects would be really fun to do with kids who are interested in being creative and crafting.

This one seems silly but could be really fun: design your own tree. I painted mine and wired it to the wall and put fun creatures in it and hang it with baubles at Christmas. You could also hang small pictures from it. Ah, the possibilities of an old tree branch.

Floating book-page hot air balloons. These hang above Flynny's nook. I actually did them as an experiment out of an old book I had and really loved how they turned out, imperfections and all. They could be fashioned from any kind of paper, painted however you like and require only scissors and a few bobby pins.

Papier mache handicrafts. I fashioned this stag head on a whim. I used the simple water and flour mixture which was surprisingly strong and usable. I used tin foil to structure the head and paper towels on the first two layers and book pages on the third. I sprinkled cinnamon in the mixture to protect against mold. I love the idea of a safe, non-toxic way to create things. There are a million animal ideas for papier mache crafts online that would be really fun to do with a little one.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Stranger and stranger.

After a long hiatus from the blogosphere, literature, intellectual pursuits and human conversation in general, I am finding it difficult to form my thoughts with any semblance of eloquence. I do have thoughts in my mind-- but laziness and my child's fondness for pounding keyboard buttons has stopped me from opening my laptop when I felt the need to write those thoughts down.
To the two people who read my blog, I apologize.
It is weird to have a child. Not in the "I can't believe I'm a parent!" kind of way. But having a child, quite literally, makes you weird.

Example 1: Talking to your baby who can't talk.
Relatively soon after giving birth I noticed that some people, especially older women, stopped addressing me personally in conversation completely. Instead of talking to me- the adult- these ladies direct all questions and responses toward my much cuter but less verbose baby. This feeds into a very awkward situation in which I am not sure if I should remain silent or answer their question. I usually compromise by responding in a baby voice. That way they get a reply that seems to fool them into thinking the baby is actually answering their questions. And so I act regularly as my child's spokesperson at the grocery store, never sure if I am just difficult to talk to or am missing some crucial piece of baby etiquette. A conversation I had today went something like this:
Old woman: (to Flynn) Why hello, handsome! How are you today?
Flynn: (looks scared)
Me: Flynn, can you say hi?
Old woman: Hello handsome! Are you out grocery shopping with your mom today?
Flynn: (silence. yawns.)
Me: Yes we are! 
Old woman: Somebody looks tired! Are you sleepy?
Flynn: (looks scared)
Me: Yes. Almost time to go home, isn't it? 
Old woman: You're a sweetie. How old are you?
Flynn: (staring)
Me: Almost 15 months.
Old woman: I have a 12 month old granddaughter! (still directed at Flynn)
Me: How fun!
Old woman: Bye bye, handsome!
Me: (to Flynn) can you wave bye bye?
Flynn: (stares.)

Example 2: Dancing and singing
I remember when we brought Flynn home from the hospital I tried to sing a lullaby to him and gave up after half of a verse because I felt completely foolish. He wasn't listening and-- who knew? I don't know half the words to most lullabies. Fast forward two months. I am singing everything. Every song I know, and then plenty that don't exist. And I'm not saying I can sing well. I can't. I just do it-- as soon as I would see Flynn in the mornings. He was just so cute and happy and squishy it just seemed right to sing about his breakfast or his toys or his poopy diapers. And then the weirdness took a downward spiral at around 10 months when he started to attempt walking and, consequently got really into dancing. Honestly, years of ballet training have made me a truly horrible, stiff dancer. But Flynn loves music and he loves to dance, so we do. We dance to the opening theme songs of television shows, we dance to dance music, we dance to classical music, we dance to Jim Dale reading Harry Potter even. And while Flynn's moves are pretty limited to knee-bending and head-shaking, my dancing has gotten increasingly more erratic and, if possible, uglier. The more I move my body the happier Flynn is. In fact, sometimes if I stop dancing he starts to cry. I'm not one for New Year's resolutions or exercise but I do believe 2014 will be my fittest year to date.

Example 3: Talking to yourself, talking to your baby
Any woman who is a stay at home mom will tell you it can be lonely work. My mother is an avid self-talker. She has full blown conversations with herself. I've heard her. They are audible conversations that you can hear from the next room. Now before you dismiss her as crazy, remember that she had seven children and a husband with a demanding job that took him away for weeks- weeks!- at a time. 
Not so crazy anymore, is she?
I have never talked to myself. I still don't. But I talk to Flynn. Oh, I talk his ear off! I'm certain I sound positively insane but he seems to expect it, even enjoy it. And when I get tired of talking then I just sing everything I'd normally talk about.
"Okay, boo-bah. I'm getting your yogurt! I'm putting it in the bowl! I'm putting in another scoop! I'm putting blueberries on the top! I love blueberries! You love blueberries! Blueberries are delicious. De-lic-ious. Now I'm bringing your yogurt to you. I'm going to put a bib on you now so your shirt doesn't get super messy and crusty. Crusty baby! Yogurt baby! Put a bib on it!...."
All. Day. Long.

Example 4: Toys 
Before I had a child, I thought I would begrudge that child every worldly possession that cost us a pretty penny to give him. Several thousand dollars later, my favorite pastimes include searching the internet for toys that I want my child to have and planning elaborate DIY projects that we probably don't have room for in our current nursery.
I love buying diapers. I love trying different kinds. I love getting big boxes of diapers delivered to my front door and then taking them out of their box and sorting them in my diaper organizer. I don't know many parents who say they love buying diapers, but I do. I love that I can change my baby's diaper and it makes him feel better, and it's so easy, and then I can throw the messy one outside in the trash. I love buying stuffed animals for Flynn. He has little or no interest in stuffed animals. I got him an expensive Maileg squirrel for Christmas and he looked at it for maybe half a second before running away to play with something else. I'm learning though. He loves trucks and cars so I'm reconciling my need to buy him toys that I also like with his need to play with toys that he's actually interested in. I spend a lot of time looking at toy trucks and baby lit books on the internet. It's foolish. But oh so fun.

Example 5: Talking about diapers.
I'm not going to say much here except this: Anytime Flynn has a blow-out, and enormously bloated wet diaper in the morning, or a really stinky diaper I get really excited to tell Jason about it, and then we laugh and laugh because we think it is hilarious.
I'm not a potty humor kind of person, I swear!

But, like the singing, compulsive toy buying and incessant dancing, this is something that I can't seem to control.

I mean, look at him.

He is just amazing.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

9 months deserves a toast...

29 inches long and 21 pounds, my crawling, standing, belly-laughing, high-fiving wunderkind.