Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Day SEVEN!


We've entered day seven of the Clifford marathon here. Interrupted (thankfully) by a Christmas present delivery from Uncle Mike. Connor is now the proud owner of the Little People A to Z Learning Zoo and it is everything I dreamed it would be. You should see Connor trying to balance as many of the 26 different animals as he can at once. This morning's favorites were the walrus, lion, elephant, and seal. The seal scores points because he has a red ball. Woohoo!

Connor has probably heard the story "Clifford's Opposites" no less than 23 million times in the past week. And yet, Connor keep requesting it. Feel free to drop by if you feel like reading a book!

Elaine

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Happy 16 month birthday!

Last weekend, I heard a song on NPR that really hit home. The words of the chorus are “you ruined everything, in the nicest way”. And Connor, that is so true. During the interview, the artist talked about how after a child is born – particularly in the first three months – a parent’s old self dies, and like a phoenix, the new self must rise from the ashes. And while this initially struck me as a bit dramatic, I’m not really sure it is. Perhaps the most amazing thing about the whole process in my case – and I think this is typical – is that I can hardly remember what my life was like before you were born. This might be a product of sleep deprivation, but I think that explanation would be a bit shallow at this point – particularly since in the past month I think we’ve only had really one brutally rough night and early morning. I think it’s because my life is so full with you, that it’s hard to remember what I’m missing. Staying out late and sleeping in late the next day are wonderful things, I assure you (and someday I hope to experience them again), but watching someone go from doing seemingly nothing besides eating and sleeping to running, climbing, talking, and laughing is totally worth the trade-off. But, if you wanted to throw your dad and I a bone on occasion and sleep until 9:00 AM some weekend, we would be totally cool with that.


Today was a real treat. Because your nanny was sick, we were able to spend the whole day together, which isn’t something we get to do too often – usually we have your dad around as well. We visited a wonderful children’s bookstore for story hour, which came complete with a dog I had forgotten about. Although you didn’t seem to be totally into the whole group interaction thing, you surprised me when the storyteller stopped and you signed “more” and also kept signing “book”. I think you could’ve done without the songs in between books, but those restless children next to us needed a break. They just don’t grasp how cool it is for someone to be reading – particularly a new book. When the dog showed up, that was even cooler, which prompted you to walk right up to the front of the group, where you hung out for the remainder of the story.


You are really growing up now, because not only have you mastered the concept of more, you have taken it the direction most people take it which is “more is better”. So, where we used to be able to stick one toy in your left hand and another in your right, you now think this is not nearly enough stuff to carry around. I’ve seen the Little People in your hands number five. I fear it is as much because you want to carry a bunch of things somewhere as it is a desire to keep your things to yourself and not let anyone else mess them up. I suppose it was bound to happen.

You have also shown that we should do our best as parents to keep you away from drugs and other addictive substances. I’m hopeful that Frosted Mini-Wheats are not the gateway drug that they appear to be. Oh, how you love your precious shredded wheat. Prior to you, your dad and I never had this marvelous substance in our home. But, Isabella brought some one day, and like all good drugs – the first one’s free. And from the moment you got your paw on one, you were hooked. So much so that when you see the box of shredded wheat, you get very excited (even if you’ve just eaten), begging for more. And you need three. One for your mouth plus one for each of your hands. You love your shredded wheat so much that I have taken to calling it crack. While you are more than happy to hurl just about anything – oh the agony you go through when your precious cereal is in your hand. You want to throw it, but you don’t want to hurt it. So, you don’t. You cling to them until the first piece has dissolved in your mouth and you can reload. Sometimes when I’m not done with dinner and you’re ready for me to be, I lure you back to your chair with a couple of shredded wheats. I want to be supportive of your habit, after all.

You are also obsessed with balls - or bawas. Kicking them, throwing them, pointing to them, carrying them. Anything...


You’ve become expert at heading down the slide on your tummy and your shoes cause you absolutely no pause at all. You can open and close the doors and windows on your house, playing peek-a-boo. You hide under sheets, know just what to do when I say “dogpile Daddy” and you’ve even started calling him “Ed” on occasion – which would torture some other daddies, but yours seems to be fine with it.

Your laugh, Connor, is contagious. And you always keep us guessing about what will be funny. For example, I wouldn’t have guessed that seeing lots of monkeys in a book or a little caterpillar go from small to big would be so funny – but you know it’s coming and you can hardly slow down enough for your dad or I to read the words – and then when the right page arrives, you laugh. You also think it’s funny whenever you see a dog where you’re not expecting one. When we were launching Little People into the bath to go swimming yesterday that was also terribly funny.

You’re an ace at identifying body parts – from toes to nose – on yourself, in pictures, and on others. You seem to understand almost everything your dad or I says, which may mean we need to change what we say – and in some cases I’ve started the age-old trick of spelling something if I want to make sure you don’t overhear something. I figure I have at least a couple of weeks before you can spell.

I’m glad you ruined my life. It’s been an amazing 16 months.

Elaine

Sunday, December 10, 2006

He's so much fun now!


Those are the words Ed just said to me. And he’s so right. Last weekend, we headed out to a park that has actual farm animals – complete with a big red barn. This is very cool to us City Slickers. The park also has equestrian competitions taking place that visitors can watch. One person let us give her horse a pat-pat, which was quite exciting. The park also has bleachers to walk across – and though I doubt Connor thought he needed support from Dad, I’m glad Dad was there to give it.

Today, Connor showed that he may be endowed with my musical talent rather than Ed’s – which is a good thing because Ed was so bad at playing trumpet that his band director in grade school told him that if he just pushed the buttons and pretended to play during the concert, nobody would know he hadn’t played. And while I think it’s very sad that a teacher would say this to a student, I also think it’s very funny that it was said to Ed – who is really good at nearly everything he does. I can assure all who are worried about Ed’s ego that he did not suffer irreparable damage from the incident. Though Connor hasn’t shown Ed up on the trumpet (yet), Connor schooled Ed on the kazoo – a kazoo that was a gift from Santa. Connor seems to enjoy his kazoo, but I do not think he would think the visit to Santa was worth the prize. But I do. It’s been great watching Ed’s failed kazoo attempts.



Also the budding artist, Connor enjoys coloring at his little table – and has recently grasped the concept of PAPER being an important component of his artistic endeavors. Grandparents…clear your refrigerators!

But what is it that makes Connor so fun? It’s the way he runs to the door to greet Ed and me with this huge grin. And the way he chases Ed around the house, screaming right before he pounces. There are balls everywhere in our house – and Connor can kick them down the hallway – until he sees his dog on a string, which is nearly always a distraction. Connor has probably put a couple of miles on his shoes with that dog yapping at his heels. We also love his giggle that flows so freely when he lays on a sheet and Ed and I swing him above the bed. Fun times…fun times.

Elaine

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Harnessing the Power of the Internet

Last night, I went to the emergency room. Thankfully, it was for a few small second degree burns that I gave myself (I should really stop cooking!) rather than something related to Connor. While I was sitting in the waiting room, I saw parents of 3 babies come into the ER. In each case, the babies were either crying or slumped over the shoulder of a parent, the parent's eyes were filled with fear, and I took a moment to be thankful for Connor's very good health. But I am keenly aware that there are many parents who have to close their eyes each night, terrified of the health issues their children face.

So here it is folks...the grandest experiment of all. Can a bunch of loosely related people give Jack a shot at life?

My friend Vickie knows Jack's parents. In fact, she and her husband Benjie attended their wedding. This holiday season, they're asking us all to dip into our pocketbooks and try and raise money to fund a bone marrow transplant for Jack. The bright side of the story (if there is one), is that there are three potential matches here in the United States. But it's going to take $350,000 to bridge the gap between Manilla (where Jack is) and the potential bone marrow donors. So this Christmas, Vickie and Benjie want to send Jack's parents a check for $5,000 - which will be used for Jack's medical expenses.

All you have to do is pledge at least $25 to Jack's fundable account (click on the link). If enough people pledge enough money, Jack will receive a Christmas gift of at least $5,000 that will be used for his medical expenses. The account expires on Christmas - so time is of the essence here.

Thanks!
Elaine

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Belated photos from Thanksgiving

We had a great Thanksgiving with Ed's family. Connor got to hang out with three of his cousins - including Samantha, who is only 8 weeks old. And, as my sister-in-law noted - that makes Sam about 1 year different than Connor and Katie (who are exactly 3 weeks apart in age) and it is AMAZING to look at Sam and think about how much Connor and Katie have changed.

We began our adventure on a shuttle bus, and this was very exciting because it was a moving vehicle without a carseat. Nothing like a little danger to get the adrenaline pumping before a plane ride. The rain outside made the trip all the better. Connor was his usual champ on the airplane, after playing a few rounds of seat tray up, seat tray down, playing peek-a-boo with the willing folks behind us, and then settling in for a nap on my lap. We were spared the repeated trips up and down the aisle since Connor's slumber was sufficient to take up most of the trip.


Connor is the only boy in his generation, so visiting cousins always provides the opportunity to experience a whole new set of toys. Connor fit right in, putting his lipstick on one morning in front of Sleeping Beauty's mirror. It's important to look your best, you know. And, it's hard to get a little mirror time when competing with two cousins who spend their days wrestling toys from other kids. But, never fear, after a few days of getting toys swiped left and right, Connor had decided enough was enough and on the last day of our visit, Ed saw him walk up to Katie and snag a toy.

On the way back home, we waited in the airport a bit, where Connor got to enjoy a blueberry scone. As he walked around checking out everyone's computers, books, and other oddities - he kept jamming huge pieces of scone in his mouth so he could barely keep it closed when chewing. It made it all the better as he stared uncomfortably at a few people in the airport with a look that clearly let them know they were weird. And of course, the implication that he was normal.

Elaine

Friday, December 1, 2006

Can he read, too?


I think Connor is reading this blog. I think this because twice, in the past few weeks, I have written something about Connor that was true at the time, only to have it not be true a few weeks later. First, I pointed out that Connor didn’t pull his toy dog around like the manufacturers intended only to watch him start pulling that toy around nearly nonstop. And in the 15 month post, I pointed out that Connor was getting “it”, but not including sleep as part of “it”. But then, miracle of all miracles, Connor not only went to bed on time while visiting his grandparents for Thanksgiving (a feat he has accomplished in several cities), he STAYED in bed and SLEPT – for 11 consecutive hours, for four consecutive nights. And when he woke up, he didn’t scream, he just called out “Mama? Mama?” seemingly asking if I was there and did I want to play yet? And I was there and “yes”, I was ready to get up and play – and not just because Ed was a total bed hog while we were on vacation making me want to leap from bed, but because I, too, had slept.

Though Connor did not knock Dr. G's socks off with his weight gain over the past three months, he - shall we say - cruised through all the cognitive development stuff. Connor started the visit out by showing he knew what each of the animals on the office walls were, complete with a "roar" for the lion and a hand up in the air for the elephant going "snore" as he does in Sandra Boynton's Going To Bed Book. Next, he showed Dr. G. that he can say at least five words - mama, dada, Emma (his nanny), Bella (the girl he shares the nanny with - which sounds more like Bubba), and ball (which sounds like "bawa" and I assure you I will miss that "bawa" when it turns into a true "ball"). He also has hippo and pappy - which is still whispered, because apparently it's a very secret thing to have a pappy. And naturally, he responded "nah" to some questions I asked him during the visit but also waived his hand and said "da" which has become a consistent form of the word "yes" as well. He showed Dr. G he could walk, run, and climb as he moved about the office. Perhaps most impressive to Dr. G was that Connor can stack 5 blocks. He can sign and understands "more" and "book" and these are very useful to Connor since if he could do one thing in life, it would be to sit and read books all day.

And, just in case Connor is reading this, I want him to know that if he has time, he can feel free to fill-in other cool things he did for the Dr. that I can't think of right now.

Elaine

Monday, November 27, 2006

My kid, skinny?

We had the belated 15 month visit. Three shots - ouch - complete with one bruise. Note to Dr. G. I know my kid is skinny and does not appear on your growth chart. But do you know how happy he is?

On the bright side, we weren't issued our typical 'penalty appointment' - so at least I get to wait 3 more months before I hear my kid is skinny, again, for the bazillionth time. And...at 8.6 kg, he is ABOVE the 3rd percentile on the World Health Organization growth chart that was normed for breastfed babies. So in my book, he's fine.

Elaine

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Dance Party!


What a weekend! Connor now can do some sort of dance reminiscent of the shuffle. And he’ll do it on command when someone calls out “dance party”. If you look closely, you can see his feet as they skip about in this photo.

And…get out the baby sign language books. Connor totally gets that words can have signs. He’s already learned more and does an elephant motion when I get to the point in Sandra Boynton’s book when the elephant goes “snore”. Tonight we tried introducing bath.

Today he showed that he just might be my child after all. This morning, when we were getting ready to go to the zoo, I asked him to go get his shoes. He decided he needed a new pair of socks, and rather than just grabbing the first two he found, he carefully went through all five that were in the box and selected two matching ones. I was so proud. I’m not confident this is a skill his daddy possesses.

Speaking of five, he has FIVE teeth now. Number five is rather large, so it’s probably been there a few days. Hard to get a good look in there, and it’s never a good idea to stick a finger in there to check. I noticed Connor chewing on his fingers a few days ago, and suspected a tooth was imminent.


He’s also quite fascinated with silverware these days, and is either trying to help Ed eat or gouge his eye out. I’m hoping for the former because I can tell already it’s going to take more than my pair of eyes to keep track of Connor as he grows.

Elaine

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Parenting tip from Ed #2

Ed: Connor and I had so much fun playing yesterday afternoon. He loves sliding off the roof of the house.

Me: (as I’m trying to keep from driving off the road): Do you really think it’s a good idea to teach our child how to slide off a roof?

Ed: It was only the roof to the playhouse, not the real house.

Me thinking: Because, apparently it’s OK to fall a little over five feet?!?

Ed: clarifying as I type this “He understands. He knows when it’s safe and when it’s not safe. He’s smarter than you give him credit for.” (note smirk on Ed’s face)

Me: You’re in charge of all emergency room visits.

Ed: My dad reads this, you know.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Happy 15 Month Birthday!

Dear Connor,

Today, you turned 15 months old. And as I look back, I feel like I can finally say to you “Connor – you’re getting it” and by “it”, I don’t mean sleep, but I do mean a whole lot of other things. Nary a day went by this month when I didn’t have to stop and do some sort of double-take as you displayed some new form of comprehension. And on occasion, that newfound knowledge was used for good rather than evil.

First, those animals. Not only can you make the sounds you made last month (sheep, cow, cat), you’ve added horse “neigh”, dog “ruf ruf” or panting, and snake “ssss”. You can identify each of the barnyard animals in a puzzle you received from Teo just last week (a gift from the Big Birthday Bash the moms group held) and you’re really trying to say a lot of words – like Pappy, hippo, and Bella.


You also seem to understand so many things around the house. Last Saturday, I taught you where your shoes belonged. Sunday, your dad asked you where you shoes were and you quickly went to retrieve them. You will also put them away, if asked. Since the shoe storage seemed to be going well, I also showed you where your coat belonged (a little hook in the hall closet) and on Monday, when Emma got ready to take you to the park, she asked out loud “Connor, where’s your coat” never expecting to get an answer from you, and you promptly went right to the closet door, opened it, and showed her your coat. Boy was she proud! And then Thursday morning, your dad and you were playing with the Turtle peek-a-block builder that Uncle Mike gave you and I said “Connor, show your daddy that there are four more blocks you can build with inside the alligator” and you turned around, opened up the gator’s back and retrieved those four blocks. Our mouths dropped in amazement. We’re getting right on those applications for college, because we suspect you’ll be heading away from home any day now.

You also figured out that dog with the string – and he is among your most loyal friends now, yapping at your heel as you walk up and down the hallway, around the couch, through the kitchen, back down the hallway, to the playroom – and then repeat. On occasion, you’ll turn a little too sharply and the doggie will fall down, but you’ll either call for assistance or pick it up yourself.

Overall, this was a crappy weekend. You caught some sort of bug and we’ve gone through a lot of cloth diapers wiping your nose. You did seem to enjoy getting out to the zoo, and it was quite marvelous when we saw the young elephant swimming in the water playing with an enormous ball. A sloth bear also came right up to the window to say hello to you. There were times today when you were just miserable, but other times we thought you had turned a corner. During one bright spell we went to a shoe store and you are now the proud owner of a pair of shoes with hard soles. The first time I put them on you, you picked up your feet as if you had bubble gum stuck to them, carefully walking around the store in very exaggerated fashion. The saleswoman said this was totally normal. In almost no time at all, you were walking like a little man. Another milestone crossed – real shoes.

And finally, Connor, I knew it was just a matter of time – but yesterday, when nothing seemed to be feeling right, and I was holding you and trying to somehow transfer the pain you felt to me, you reached out for your daddy. And like other times before, your daddy gladly took the load, only this time, it was really clear that all of your faith had been put in him. This is one of those beautiful milestones, Connor. You’ve made it perfectly clear that when the chips are down, you know you have two parents who would do anything for you, and you’ve learned to lean on each of them to figure out what will work the best.

Love,
Mama

Thursday, November 9, 2006

Monday, November 6, 2006

Great Grandpa M 1911 – 2006

I’m pretty sure my grandpa (Connor’s great grandpa) would agree - ninety-five years is a long time to live. When he was born, the average life expectancy was around 50. Now, it’s about 78. Either way, he beat the odds – and with remarkably few interventions. To put how old he was when he died last Thursday into perspective - he began life before the crossword puzzle was invented (1913). Until he was 9, when he skinned his knees, his mother couldn’t give him a Band-Aid to make it “all better” (invented in 1920) – let alone a Band-Aid with colorful characters to distract him from the pain. He didn’t have to fear getting a ticket for parking at an expired meter until he turned 21 – and though we never discussed it, I’m fairly certain he never received such a ticket. Just not his style.

My grandpa lived through the Dust Bowl (he was in his early twenties) – and relayed stories that enthralled Ed when we visited in 2001. It was the summer we got married and a few weeks before we were scheduled to head home for a post-wedding celebration, my grandpa called to see if I would be paying him a visit. This is the first - and only - time I remember my grandpa calling me. Long distance costs money, you know.


The first canned beer was made when he turned 24 – but the marketers certainly had someone beside my grandpa in mind when they came up with this. According to the biography my grandpa sketched out some time ago, he tasted beer exactly once, and considered it a mistake. Same goes for tobacco. For those who knew me in my pre-mom days, you might be wondering if it is possible that I am genetically related to this man. My father assures me I am.

When my grandpa turned 27, the ballpoint pen was invented – and here is finally something that caught his fancy. He used to have a pegboard with probably about 100 (maybe more) oddly shaped pens fastened onto it that hung so that anyone heading down the basement stairs could see it. I remember one particular pen shaped like a hammer. I suspect the collection went to the dumpster when he moved out of his home 4 years ago, along with the car license plate he was issued that bore the same number as his house one year – 1202. The license plate hung on the garage.

When my grandpa turned 29, Dairy Queen came into existence, and thankfully for my sister and I, there was one about 3 blocks away from my grandparents’ home. During the summer, we would walk there and get ice cream cones for a dime. ParTay!

Super glue was invented the year my grandpa turned 40. And that’s a bummer for my dad. Family legend has it that my dad’s tricycle once broke in two as he was heading to see my grandpa. This magical substance perhaps could’ve extended that ol’ trike’s days. But then again, maybe something more along the lines of welding was in order.

The year I was born, my grandpa retired. I only hope to have so many years not ensconced with fluorescent lighting.

I remember the motor home my grandparents used to travel in, his bolo tie, and the year we went out to eat at a Chinese restaurant for Christmas and he wore a red shirt with a purple KSU sweatshirt, and of course, the tie. It still makes me laugh. My dad has never been a slave to the latest trends, and I guess he comes by it honestly.

My grandfather, always the stalwart Republican, proudly claimed to have never voted for a Democrat. I don’t remember my exact response, but I do remember I was in college and less likely to exercise the tact I now exercise in situations like this. Let’s just say, it was clear to him I did not share his political views, and I do not regret that honesty. And here’s the lesson, Connor. Don’t be afraid to tell someone the truth – unless that means telling your mama you’re voting for a Republican. By the time you can do that, I'll be an old woman and you're unlikely to convince me of the folly of my ways.

Connor met his great-grandpa on two occasions. The last visit we were there, Connor seemed impressed by the wheelchair and was delighted that there were several photos on a shelf he had access to. And of course, Connor had no trouble finding them. It’s a little too bad that Connor hadn’t been introduced to sweet things yet, because my grandparents seemed to have lots of sweets at their retirement home. My sister once told her kids that they were going for a “visit” – not a “buffet”.

I can only imagine how crazy some of the things invented in Connor’s lifetime will seem to me – and who knows which ones I’ll make use of. Perhaps the sweetest thing I can tell you about your great-grandpa, Connor, is that he stayed married to the same woman for 73 years. That’s one hell of a commitment. You can’t just invent something as enduring as that.

Elaine

Friday, November 3, 2006

What we won’t be telling the college admissions counselors

After Connor’s birth, he was given Apgar scores of 9 / 9. He lost a point at both birth and 5 minutes after birth because the tips of his fingers or toes were a bit blue. The birth assistant and midwife discussed the second score a bit – and the birth assistant argued for a 10, but in the end, Connor got a 9. We assured our midwife that we would never let any college admissions counselors know he hadn’t received a perfect 10, so it should be OK.

Little did we know, that was just the first (of perhaps many) things that will go in the file of “things not to tell college admissions counselors”. Another recently cropped up. My parents gave Connor a dog that you can pull on a string and as you do that, it yaps a little bit. My dad proclaimed Connor was really smart because when Connor was seated, he understood that he needed to give the dog a good yank to get it to yap. We’re starting to question that proclamation. Though Connor has witnessed both Ed and I demonstrating how one can walk and hold onto the dog’s string which will cause the dog to yap behind the walker, Connor doesn’t seem to get it. Instead, he does things his own way. Can we say "takes after his dada!"?

Elaine

Thursday, November 2, 2006

Baby 1, Parents 0

My dad once told me “the trouble with kids is, they’re smarter than you think they are”. While he was no doubt referring to my sister, I can see his point. Connor continues to grapple with language development, and while he has quite a few consonants, a fair number of animal sounds, and some vowels – he doesn’t typically put them together in meaningful ways (to Ed and me, anyway). A few days ago, he started saying “da da” and patting my chest when he wants to nurse. As far as I can tell, this “da da” is not much different than the “da da” he uses when referring to Ed – and while Freud may have something to say about this, I’m too tired to think about it. Rather than giving him a new word for nursing, I figured this one was OK because being out in public and demanding “da da” seems better than screaming across the playground “gimme some boob, woman!”.

Looking back, I can’t help but think Connor’s clever side was kicking in. A few days ago, at the very early hour of 5:15, Connor stood up in his crib and shrieked “DAAAA DAAAA” in such an alarming way as to cause both Ed and I to lunge out of bed and into his room. We both presumed there was a dragon in his room that needed all the forces of a dad to conquer – and I was going to provide back-up, in case a distraction was needed. Upon my arrival, it was very clear what Connor wanted. He was very eloquently using his “new” word. Tricked again. Maybe I ought to give him a new word after all.

Elaine

PS: Apparently Connor had been building up to this trick for a few days, and only needed the satisfaction of using it once, because last night, my blessed angel did not wake up until 6:40. Now that Mom, Dad, and baby are all well rested again, we’re a much happier bunch. He also took me seriously when I told him it was time to clean up. Not only was he trying to put the blocks in their basket, he tried to put himself in there too!

More Halloween Photos


Here he is...Connor in all his glory in the annual Halloween parade. As you can see, he was a gardening bumble bee - because he can't leave the house these days without his trusty wheelbarrow. He was hamming it up with the kids before the parade, saying "buzz buzz" on command and checking out the other kids. I still can't tell if he likes his costume, or if he just tolerates it, but he does seem to understand it.

Last year, his Grandma purchased this costume for him - and it was intended for carrying around a baby. This year, I cleverly took out part of the bottom seam, creating leg holes. Connor's nanny thinks we might be able to get another year out of it - it sort of depends on how broad Connor gets - but I'm not above trying to extend the life of the costume another year.

Connor started out sort of in the middle of the pack, but then he had to go back and check a few things out. This, coupled with his inability to walk in a straight line meant that eventually we were the end of the parade. But there was still plenty of cider and popcorn waiting for us when we got to the big rocks (the official endpoint), and that was plenty of excitement for Connor.


Elaine

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Happy Halloween!


Last night, Connor and I went to three homes to get the goods. We really only went out because one of my neighbors has three cats that Connor loves, and she kept telling me to come by on Halloween. We did - and we enjoyed playing with the cats at least as much as Connor enjoyed pulling candy from her bowl and putting it into his bag. Note: Cuteness counts! He could've gotten away with emptying the whole bowl into his bag if I'd given him enough time. I have photos of the big neighborhood Halloween parade, but didn't get them off the camera last night. Luckily, my friend Laurie sent this photo from a few days ago, so you can at least see how cute he is in his Halloween costume!

Note, no bee outfits for Ed and me this year.

Five!


That is the number of peek-a-blocks that Connor can stack up before they tumble. I presume my dad, the engineer, must have been helping him develop this skill when they were together. After five, Connor's arm gets in the way and tends to make the blocks tumble. Ed's comment "He can stack blocks? I can't wait to knock them down!". Watch out, little man.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Chicago Redux

While I was busy presenting a report I wrote, my parents hit the town with Connor. Part of the adventure involved the zoo – which I am sure Connor enjoyed, but the day started out a bit less exciting. They took him to the American Doll Store. This is not a place I would advise taking Connor. He doesn’t exactly “play gently” with toys – and these dolls are pricey, to say the least. Owning one because its head was severed from its body in an untimely fashion is not how I'd like one to come into my life. My nieces each have one of these dolls, compliments of Santa last year. I know Connor looks very innocent in the photo, but it's just him showing what a great actor he can be.

Connor certainly surprises me sometimes. In this case, he clearly sized up what he was about to be subjected to and fell asleep within about a block of the hotel exit. He and my dad then enjoyed napping in the store while my mom photographed the store to share with my nieces, visiting each of the THREE floors, which include a hair salon where, for the low price of about $20, you can have your doll’s hair styled. Wow – what a bargain! The store also has a hospital for the dolls (common ailments include broken arms, legs, and magic marker – oh if only this store existed when my sister’s kewpie doll got a bright purple bathing suit drawn on her one year – maybe by me, but I don’t remember the incident and the artwork was a bit nicer than I suspect I could’ve mustered).

Connor and my mom got along quite well (which is good because she had made him a box of frosted sugar cookies) and Connor also proved that he has no common sense, practically diving into the water at the hotel pool with my dad. Connor endeared himself forever as favorite grandson when he called my dad "pappy" which in Connor's version is a whispered "puh puh". Very cute!



Elaine

Monday, October 30, 2006

Animal Relocation Project of My Own

Today, I learned that I love my kid more than most people who know me thought possible. Either that, or my penchant for being thrifty is greater than my fear of spiders. A very kind woman who lives not far from me advertised a free outdoor playhouse, and I was lucky enough to be selected as the home’s new owner. Connor has always loved these homes, but I didn’t think it worth the cash to purchase one. That, and I’d hate for them to become so mundane that he doesn’t get at all excited when he sees one.

Because Ed and I drive a small car, the house needed to be taken apart and moved in two shifts. I went on a solo mission initially, because frankly Connor doesn’t tend to be all that helpful on adventures such as these and Ed was still at work. The previous owner of the home failed to mention that I would need a screwdriver to get the house apart, but thankfully a very kind construction worker up the street lent me the appropriate tool. This is where the project almost ended. Inside the home, there were probably 20 spiders – and a few insect carcasses to boot. At this point, I wasn’t certain it was worth it, but I forged onward, and was able to get the roof off the house only dropping the screwdriver a couple of times to do my patented “ewww…there’s a spider NEAR me” dance, which is the only way I know to get them to back off. Trust me, the closest I want to come to a spider is the singing of the Itsy Bitsy Spider, which Connor surprised me today by performing some of the hand motions unprompted. I suspect this is something he’s been doing with his nanny.


Ed joined me on the second portion of the mission because it involved lifting the two large pieces above my head and tying them onto the roof of the car. That mission was actually easier because I couldn’t see all the spiders that remained on these two pieces and could pretend they all skittered away after I disturbed them earlier in the day. I suspect I will be proven wrong about this tomorrow when I go to clean the house, but the fantasy was nice. Thus, there are now about 20 spiders relocated from the yard the house came from to my backyard. I’m sort of going in the opposite direction of my dad. He reports that the current counts for his animal relocation project are:

Squirrels - 17
Birds - 7
Raccoons- 2
Possums - 1
Rabbits - 1

Though the garden lays dormant, my dad’s mission to rid the yard of squirrels continues. Reportedly, he’s going to stay in the trapping business a bit longer to see how many more squirrels he can catch.

Connor – if you don’t like your new playhouse, please pretend that you do because as I type this, I can STILL feel the spiders crawling up my arms. I will not be attempting any more animal relocation projects of my own anytime soon. Ewww!

Elaine

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Keeping A Baby Healthy


The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that women breastfeed their infants for at least one year, and for as long as mutually desirable. The World Health Organization doubles the AAP’s minimum recommendation. While almost three-quarters of moms in the US breastfeed their babies at some point, only half of those who start are still breastfeeding their babies at six months. One in five babies are breastfed for at least 1 year – the minimum recommended time. A lonely 6.7 percent of moms are still breastfeeding their children at 18 months. Data beyond this point don’t seem to exist – but with numbers already this low, what’s the point?

Connor is a breastfed baby.
Connor is growing into a breastfed toddler.

To say I had trouble breastfeeding Connor would the understatement of the century. For genetic reasons, I am unable to produce milk in one breast – and the other breast needed substantial encouragement to get with it and produce milk. Most women like me (few that we are), would never have had the opportunity to breastfeed their baby. I got lucky. My baby was born at home and the midwife and birth assistant that attended my birth called an incredibly fabulous lactation consultant who was kind enough to drive out to my home on the Friday Connor was born. Ed and I always joke that Pat was sitting in her office and heard there was a breastfeeding emergency in the suburbs. She hopped in her boob shaped car, turned on the nipple siren, and headed our way. Had anyone with less experience, enthusiasm, or knowledge shown up, Connor and I might not have experienced the benefits of breastfeeding. We had a lot of trouble along the way, including minor yeast infections, plugged ducts and a very nasty case of mastitis over Christmas. It probably wasn’t until 9 months that we really hit our stride. Prior to that, I took Domperidone to increase milk production. This drug is offered over-the-counter in Europe, but is very expensive and only available at compounding pharmacies in the US, of which there are two in the very large metro area I live in. All I can say to that is – thank you, internet. And when people say breastfeeding can be difficult - I understand.

So, who is most likely to breastfeed in this country? Moms over 30, moms with at least a college degree, married moms, moms with incomes over 3.5 times the official poverty ratio, and Hispanic moms. I am all but one of these. Incidentally, when I decided to have my baby at home with the assistance of a midwife, I signed a contract that detailed what the midwife was going to do and what I was going to do. My responsibilities included taking a class on breastfeeding and promising to breastfeed my baby. I was told to consider myself totally incapacitated for two weeks after I gave birth. In the words of my midwife, my job was to “make milk” – and that was my only job. How many OBs (or pediatricians, for that matter) do you know that place this much emphasis on infant nutrition? And how many new dads take over the household completely, sleep-deprived as they are, and keep everything running fabulously, a task aided in our case by Ed’s generous paternity leave benefits?

What else might it take to breastfeed? A good lactation consultant; the Milkmoms (a group of women I met through my lactation consultant who provide mother-to-mother support); a very supportive partner; a sister, mother, mother-in-law or close friend that can answer questions frankly - because questions do come up; a personality that allows you to breastfeed in public - or a public who doesn't stop to stare when a woman feeds her child; and if you're going to work outside the home - an office that affords enough privacy to pump, and ideally work that can be done while pumping.

Why do we breastfeed? For one, human breastmilk has the ability to heal the sick – something its inferior pretender, infant formula, cannot do. Breastfed babies have fewer ear infections, urinary tract infections, respiratory infections, gastrointestinal infections, and bacterial meningitis and they produce more antibodies in response to routine immunizations. The health benefits to babies extend long after weaning. They are less likely to develop illnesses associated with misdirected immune reactions such as asthma, juvenile diabetes, allergies, Crohn’s disease, and several other conditions. Children breastfed as infants are less likely to develop cancer and obesity, and have higher IQs. But the benefits are not one-way. Women who breastfeed see their uteruses return to their pre-pregnancy size sooner and typically have menstruation suppressed, which leads to less blood loss in the sleepless first months of motherhood. They are also at reduced risk of ovarian and breast cancer – though the latest studies show these latter benefits begin to accrue once a woman breastfeeds for at least 13 months.

Breastfeeding is also a pain in the butt. It is the one job that no one else can do. If skipped, particularly during those early weeks when milk supply is being established, the mom can have trouble building her supply up to an adequate amount. When a breastfed baby needs to be fed in the middle of the night, you know who answers the call. And once I headed back to work, I had to pump milk during the day for Connor while I was away, which sucks. I am delighted that Connor will drink cow's milk when I am away these days. I do not miss that pump!

So here we are. I’m hoping for Connor to be inspired to wean himself at some point, because I just can’t look him in the eye and not feed him when he pats my chest because at this point, it really is a simple act. Perhaps some weekend I go away he’ll kick the habit. Either that, or I’ll have the only kid heading off to college who neither naps without me when I'm around nor uses a cup!

Elaine

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Stone Soup


Last weekend, Connor and I went to Chicago. This was the second time we've maneuvered through an airport, sans assistance. I can’t say it was the quickest trip through O’Hare, but I certainly did get to see a lot of things I normally don’t notice. For example, Connor was willing to stop and pick up selected pieces of trash to give me, and then we enjoyed throwing these little pieces of trash into the garbage cans (setting a fine example for anyone who was thinking it would be appropriate to just DROP trash anywhere on the floor). He also pointed out, many times, that we could view airplanes from the right side of the main aisle OR the left side. I wonder if all those people running to catch flights realized this magnificent feature of the airport? And, who knew there were so many stores with items just right for babies to pick up as they toddled by – or rather, darted toward as if their life depended on each and every one of them? I had never noticed them in quite the same way as I did on this trip! I also don’t think I have ever appreciated the extra miles Connor must travel each day because he is seemingly unable to walk in anything that resembles a straight line.

We headed into downtown Chicago in a taxi – MOM – Did you see? There is a SIGN on the TOP of the car? – DAH! DAH! DAH! (We should really look into getting a car this cool.) My parents had already arrived, and showing that you just can’t keep a grandparent down, they were waiting with new toys, frosted cookies, and a camera. Two cameras, actually. We rode the trolley down to the Navy Pier (after a very kind local pointed us in the right direction – something the surly man in a trolley pointed the wrong direction was unwilling to do) and headed for an Italian restaurant, followed by the Children’s Museum. If you have a child and you live anywhere near Chicago – you should run, not walk, to that museum. Even my dad had fun!



Before we left, I was pondering what I could do to make sure Ed remembered us. I thought about sticking some ice cubes beneath the covers to remind him of my very cold feet, or setting an alarm to scream at him at random intervals throughout the night, or even leaving a few small toys with sharp corners in choice locations. In the end, I decided since he was making an effort to fix our crapshack , I would try not to do anything to hinder his progress. Connor, however, proving that he is always one step ahead of both Ed and me, left a carefully placed stone in the pan Ed makes soup in. Reportedly, Ed (always the observant man of the house), emptied his can of soup in the pan, heated it, and didn’t realize there was a stone in there until he emptied the warm soup into his bowl and heard an odd clank. Score 1 for Connor.



Thursday, October 19, 2006

Dads are fun…

Or at least Connor’s dad is fun. Sometimes I wonder which of my men have more fun when they go to the park. Ed is happy to scamper up the slide, climb on the equipment, and generally return to his long ago youth to entertain Connor. A few days ago, he went to the park with Connor and reported that none of the moms were any fun. They all just sat around on the benches watching their kids and even though some of their kids wanted to be pushed in Connor’s little red car, they didn’t budge. (Ed, naturally, took a few of them on a spin.)


Ed also comes up with countless games for Connor to play around the house – that really tap into Connor’s destructive, freewheeling nature. For example, Connor’s inflatable bathtub comes with some little inflatable rings – and there’s a place on the bathtub that the rings can be placed. When I bathe Connor, we talk about the colors of the rings (pink, green, and yellow) and practice putting them in their intended place. Connor seems very proud of himself and has mastered a few colors in the process. Ed puts these rings in his mouth, spits them towards Connor and says “phooey”. Connor laughs.

On Saturday morning, Connor and I were playing with one of his toys – and all of a sudden Ed and all his energy bounded into the room – and the next words I heard out of Ed’s mouth were “Sorry I interrupted your nice quiet play”. Uh yeah, me too, because now one of us has to chase the little man around the house as he attempts to open and close every door, cabinet, and drawer that he can get into and try and keep our house from being destroyed before we’ve even had breakfast.



One of the parks we go to has a HUGE slide – which is built into the side of a hill. It is fantastic. I guarantee that even if Ed didn’t have the excuse of Connor, he would slide down the thing at full tilt, just because it’s so darn tempting. We met a friend there and as fun as it is to watch Connor go down the slide, we’ve seen the look of delight from him before. It was pure joy watching Zoe’s first trip down the slide. In a few months, I imagine they’ll both be abandoning parents and heading down the giant slide on their own – but for now, parental presence is suggested, if not required.

And…just so you know your mama can still hang, Connor, I went down the slide with you too!


Elaine