Thursday, September 28, 2006

Smiling Through It All

One of the things I love about Connor – and kids in general – is their capacity to be blissfully unaware of many things. Sure, Connor cries when I leave in the morning (thankfully not all of the time anymore!), and when he does so, he seems truly sad. But he doesn’t much care that we have a bonehead for a President and I don’t think he’s ever thought about the people in Darfur. So long as he has some sort of toy, new area to discover, or someone to play with, he’s a pretty happy baby. Two incidents recently brought this home.

One of the children who attends meetings at the Breastfeeding Center with me who is exactly two months younger than Connor recently had open heart surgery. He’s not even a year old! We went to visit one afternoon and it was almost surreal. There Connor was testing out Teo's new toys that he had yet to play with, laughing and generally thinking eating blueberries was the coolest thing he could be doing, while all around us, there were some very sick children. Teo, thankfully, is at home and recovering well.

And yesterday, I’m not sure I’ve ever been so thankful for Connor’s good health. My cousin’s daughter has spent the last few months fighting cancer, and though everyone was very hopeful her journey with cancer was coming to an end – it turns out that the cancer has spread to her lungs. When I heard the news, I was devastated. It just seems so wrong. If you have a deity you pray to, please ask that deity to help Sadie and her family out.

Seeing Connor’s smile when I came home this afternoon was never so sweet.


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Museum That Almost Cost Me My Marriage

We finally did it. We made it to the much touted Building Museum, and Connor loved it. Which is a good thing because Ed about divorced me over it. After driving downtown, I searched for a little while for a parking space. Not wanting to push our luck with Connor in the car, Ed offered to continue the search while Connor and I got out of the car. I took the liberty to go into the museum, find the children’s play area, and hang out there with Connor.

Fortunately, there were few children in the area, so Connor could pretty much do as he pleased. The first thing he did was find a dump truck, and then he proceeded to make the back go up and bang down. Imagine it – children playing quietly all around him, and him making this incredibly loud sound banging the truck about. Each time he dropped it, I was certain his little fingers would get smashed.

Then, Connor moved onto this cool little house, which he was the king of – until he had to share with a younger kid, but even that was fine. Connor could stand up much better than the other child and open and shut the little windows with ease while the other kid entertained himself with the door.

Next we moved onto another area where Connor could play with these giant, soft cubes. We were having a ball. But I was really wondering where the heck Ed was. We kept walking out of the area to look at the main floor of the museum, but there was no sign of him.

After quite some time had passed, when I was really feeling guilty that Ed was out there trying to park the car while Connor and I were inside having fun, I discovered Ed. Apparently he had been looking for us all over. He was not happy. Luckily, Connor can still smile and melt Ed’s heart. Otherwise, Ed might have killed me for not waiting outside. Next time, we agreed, I would wait wherever I was dropped off.


Monday, September 25, 2006

Let’s Go Swimming!

Saturday, Connor began swimming lessons. At first, he seemed a bit tentative. He wasn’t sure what to make of this large body of water cluttered with other kids and parents. Most of those parents were of the male variety while the mommies stayed on the side taking photos and laughing at their husbands who had been reduced by a very enthusiastic teacher to singing songs like “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and “Hokey Pokey”. It was a marvelous sight to behold.
Ed, naturally, took this lesson to a whole new level. Here, the teacher is chanting Humpty Dumpty and although she jumped very excitedly when Humpty had a great fall, most of the parents tended to sort of slip their children off the side of the wall into the water. Ed threw Connor in the air – and Connor squealed with delight.

One thing I had been fairly certain of was confirmed in this lesson. Connor is not so much a rules follower. Perhaps it’s because we have few rules for him to follow so he doesn’t have a lot of experience, but in general he’d prefer to do what he wants, when he wants. This is not surprising. He is Ed’s son, after all. This means that when asked to follow directions, Ed is tasked with not only figuring out what they’re supposed to be doing, but also figure out how to get Connor to actually do it rather than complaining about wanting to do something else. I say, serves him right!


Monday, September 18, 2006

First Weekend Away

Last weekend, some friends and I went on our annual Spa Weekend / Outlet Mall Shopping Challenge. This meant I was away from Connor for the first night – ever. I slept all night long without anyone waking up at some random interval hollering just to see if I was there – or anyone nursing all night – or anyone putting their very hot, but very tiny feet on my tummy. And even though I needed the sleep and was glad for the trip, I missed all of these things. Although Connor cried when Ed dropped me off at my friend’s house, apparently it was just for show because by the time Ed had turned the corner, Connor was silent. I think he might have been contemplating all the havoc he and Ed could reap with no Mom / Wife influence present in the house.

I am happy to report, that when I returned 32 hours later, our brick home had not burned to the ground. Nobody was sitting in the middle of the floor crying. Connor was napping.

Since my return, Connor has been very busy walking around the joint, exploring, and laughing with this huge laugh that requires him to breathe in first. It’s super cute.

This evening, Ed remarked that Connor might need a haircut. While I agree, in theory, I’m sort of curious what his hair will do if it keeps growing – and I’m not quite sure I’m ready to see Connor’s “look” change. While I was bathing him this evening, I asked him who we should get to cut his hair and very emphatically, he responded “DA DA”. I told him, in what I’m sure will be a recurring theme in his life “no way, Buster”.

Happy to be home,

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Happy 13th month Birthday!

Dear Connor,

It has finally happened. The 12th day of the month passed me by, and I FORGOT to sing Happy Birthday to you. I don’t know if it was the travel the weekend before or the fact that I was heading out to the driving range after you went to bed for the first time in a couple of years, but I blew it. It’s particularly distressing because I have keyed many monthly duties in my life such as tossing out my contact lens and performing my monthly self-exam of my breasts around this very date. So, here I am, two days later wearing an old lens and wondering if I have breast cancer – and on top of that trying to figure out how much money I should drop in the therapy jar for your future use. I can just see it now “well…I think my problems all started when my MOTHER forgot that I had turned 13 months old until the 14th of the month, and by the time she realized it I had already gone to bed!”. If it makes you feel any better, I forgot Kellee’s birthday yesterday, which is coincidentally the day your dad and I started dating. The year: 1998.

This month, you have been nothing short of amazing. For starters, you have decided to locomote using two legs on occasion, which the laundry committee most certainly supports. It’s tough getting stains out of knees, and since you haven’t learned the fine art of steering clear of dirt and sand, your pants could take quite a beating. You still crawl most places, but each day you have taken a few more steps. Perhaps even more impressive, tooth number three poked out on Friday, September 8, followed by tooth number four on Saturday.

You have begun to get used to whole milk from a cow, so you are now nursing in the morning and after I get home from work in the late afternoon – but you’ve been known to drink a bottle with only cow’s milk on occasion and your daytime bottles are about 25 percent my milk, 75 percent cow’s milk.

And your personality, Connor – has changed the most. At the beginning of August, we spent a week with Ed’s family at a lake house. Though you were at ease with your cousins and enjoyed chasing Katie around, you weren’t quite sure about the other folks. Your dad and I snuck out to go get sandwiches at the corner store one day – which took about 15 minutes – and while you didn’t cry the whole time, you were none too happy to be left with your grandparents and quite excited for our return. During the vacation, you allowed Grandpa to carry you around one day and on the last day of vacation, you quite enjoyed your Grandma reading to you. (She’s a teacher, so she’s a really great reader.)

Dad and I have been thinking that you’ve been shedding some of your separation / stranger anxiety, but we weren’t quite sure, until we walked into your grandparent’s house last weekend. For the entire weekend, you were truly delighted to see your relatives, often reaching up your arms to be picked up by one of them – an act formerly reserved for your dad and me. It really made for a delightful visit, and made it much easier for us to ditch you when we went to a friend’s wedding (the motivation for the visit).

You proved that you could sleep through the night in a strange place (a feat never before accomplished), though you didn’t do that every night, of course. Baby steps, right?

Katie and you continued to get along quite well. Clearly, Katie has you wrapped around her little finger as she’s already got you pushing her around in the toy stroller. Everyone was impressed with your strength. At one point, your dad noticed there were no babies in the room and went looking only to find both of you at the bottom of the stairs. Daddy returned to the room with one baby under each arm and Grandma got out the gates.

We went apple picking with Aunt Heather, Uncle Rick, Alisa, and Katie on Saturday morning and you proved that one could eat an apple with very few teeth. I suspect the two bottom ones did all the work. Katie seemed above all that making a mess with the apple and carried hers around.

Connor, as rewarding as it is to have you smile when I come in the room and be instantly comforted by my touch, it is exciting to see you venturing into the world a little bit at a time finding new people to love.

On the morning your turned 13 months, you slept until about 6:00 – I fetched you and you nursed and slept until 6:30. At that point, you sat upright in bed and said MOM! That is the first time you have ever had an ending consonant sound.


Monday, September 11, 2006

The Reason We Decided to Have a Kid

When Ed and I announced that we were going to be parents, we received a varied reaction from our friends. There were the usual congratulations, but also several looks of disbelief. Most importantly, people wondered if the Grateful Ed’s era had come to a close. Would the taps in the basement from which homebrew flowed freely be turned into seltzer and lemonade dispensers? (Not yet.) How would we give up after work happy hours? (Our most reliable happy hour friends left the country.) Would we spend all of our time obsessing about sleep habits and poop? (Yes, for a while, but we think we might be over that phase.)

Up until now, the naysayers (or naythinkers, I suppose), may have had a point. What were we thinking? After all, Connor has been mostly a drain when it comes to household chores and generally consumes a whole lot of time that could have been spent drinking a beer, playing darts, or lounging around. He not only fails to contribute in significant ways to cleaning up, he tends to leave a path of destruction whenever he leaves a room. His nanny continues to work with him on picking up toys, but as far as I can tell, the progress is slow.

But now, I can see the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. We have established a bi-weekly date night (woohoo!), and Connor is starting to show some interest in keeping the household running. With a little help, Connor is able to push the mower quite a distance. Unfortunately, turning the mower is quite difficult, and he would become so upset that he almost cried a couple of times when he was “mowing” and reached the end of the yard. Ed or I would quickly rectify the situation so Connor could continue his work. Now…if only he could push the mower when it was ON!


Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Did I hear you correctly?

As might be apparent to even the most casual of observers, there are very few rules in my house when it comes to Connor. In general, we attempt to avoid big problems (for example, putting those annoying plastic outlet covers on all of the outlets) and not sweat the small stuff like unrolling toilet paper, throwing food on the floor, or leaving toys strewn about.

The rules we do have generally come from me. For example, I do not allow Connor to pull my hair – and though he was fascinated with this prospect for a couple of weeks, he rarely attempts it anymore. At about the same time he noticed my hair and its potential for pulling, Connor also noticed Ed’s glasses and decided taking them off made for a great game. I told Ed he should stop the habit by simply telling Connor “no” and removing Connor’s hands from his glasses when Connor reached for them. This act was unfathomable to Ed, and as a result Connor has become expert at ripping the glasses from Ed’s face, leaving Ed essentially blind. (He has also tried to swipe the glasses of innocent strangers.) The second rule I have is that Connor may no longer put his entire fist in my glass of water and splash about. Unfortunately, my efforts on this front have not been entirely successful yet.

Last night, Connor’s relationship with Ed was changed forever. When Connor put his hand in my glass and I pulled the glass away and told Connor he could have a drink but he could not put his fist in the glass, Ed looked at Connor – mouth opening wide, locked eyes with Connor, and all of sudden, the word poured out. Ed said “No” to Connor. With a look of shock, Connor’s eyes turned to Ed, knowing he must have misheard. Connor appeared very confused. I don’t expect to hear the word again in the near future – and Connor certainly does not expect to hear it either.


Monday, September 4, 2006

Pappy has lost his way

Not so long ago, my dad retired. Last summer, things seemed to go OK. He traveled some, gardened some, joined a golf league, and drove several hundred miles to see Connor and weed my garden beds shortly after Connor’s birth or to see KSU play Marshall – depends how you look at it.

This summer, I think my dad has a little too much time on his hands. Everything started out the same. He traveled for a few weeks, planted his garden, and continued to play in the golf league. But about midway through summer, something in him snapped. He decided to declare war on the squirrels and rabbits that were destroying his garden. Mind you, most people would be delighted to have my dad’s harvest, and sometimes my mom (the primary canner and cooker in the house) wishes it weren’t quite so bountiful. A neighbor leant him a “no-kill” trap because, after all, my dad is a total city slicker who still can’t believe my mom once purchased live chickens and gave him the instruction to chop their heads off when she was ready to prepare them. He reports from this experience that chickens do, indeed, walk around once they have been relieved of their heads, though I don’t think my dad carried out the actual slaying.

He set up the trap and then went to a family reunion on my mom’s side of the family. My mom’s side of the family is not littered with city slickers. They are the real deal. They don’t eat food out of cans and processed meats. I suspect every one of my mom’s siblings has murdered an animal for their dinner, and my dad got some great advice from her cousins when he told them he had started the trapping business. They suggested he get a gun. Instead of following their advice, my dad has started perhaps the largest animal relocation program taking place within the city limits. So far, the count is:

12 squirrels
7 birds
2 raccoons
1 ’possum
and 1 rabbit.

All of the animals have been released into a nice forested area on the other side of a highway near my parent’s home – except for the birds. They are granted their freedom in the backyard.

Connor, may you continue to scribble and remain blissfully unaware of whatever it was that snapped inside your Pappy. Maybe he should get a blog.


Sunday, September 3, 2006

Move Over Ray Charles

Connor has always been, shall we say, GIFTED. He’s been able to bang the ivories (or brightly colored plastics, as the case may be) with the best of them. Perhaps it’s because his Aunt Linda teaches piano and has been thinking positive thoughts about his piano skills from before he was born. This morning, I went to get my hair cut (sadly – this is only the second time I have attempted this feat since Connor’s birth!) so Ed and Connor were hanging out together. Naturally, the sunglasses came out and then Connor was banging the keys! We think Connor may have been preparing for his date with Zoe. We pretty much had to invite her over for dinner to prove that Connor can eat more than dirt and potato chips – the food du jour when we met her at the Sculpture Garden one evening for a jazz concert. (For the record, Connor ate prunes with apples, salmon, tomatoes, and corn for dinner – a fairly respectable spread.) As it turns out, the Incrediblock and Leapfrog table were sufficient entertainment for the evening, so Connor didn’t have to turn to making his own music. He did not let the opportunity to teach Zoe bad skills pass by. He stuck the hose in his mouth and splashed about in a pan of water, which warranted a change of clothes. All the while, she smiled. (She is possibly the happiest baby I know.)

I don’t want to scare Zoe’s mom, but Connor’s horoscope did say “Tonight is deliciously romantic – if the new love of your life is also an old flame, so much the better.”

Although Connor definitely has an affinity for water, it’s not clear to me that Connor is quite ready to try his hand at scuba diving, but he is fond of Chinese food – or at least the chopsticks that I keep moving from the shelf of the closet he can reach to a higher shelf – and yet he always seems to find another pair. These are but one of the many gifts from China we can thank our friend Kellee for.


Saturday, September 2, 2006

You make baseball fun!

Many people think heading out to the ballpark is not the ideal way to spend an evening. Ed and I are not among those people. We share a season ticket with several friends, and tonight was one of our games. For the most part, Connor seems to enjoy the games. After all, he can spit, clap, and scream and no one near him minds. He has developed a certain knack for charming the folks around us, and he can regularly get them to wave, clap, or just keep smiling back at him. Tonight was no exception.

The stadium was nearly empty, which is good for us because it means we can take up many seats, and Connor can crawl around freely - well, almost freely. Ed or I snatch him whenever he gets close to knocking some unsuspecting fan's drink over - or at least so far we've been able to thwart his efforts. About midway through the game, Connor had done enough entertaining for the evening and decided to fall asleep in my arms. Ed's jacket formed a perfect pillow, and Connor rested quite well. In the bottom of the 8th, the Nats were down 3-1. Zimmerman (my favorite player) came up to bat and belted one out of the park. Connor looked up, shoved his fist in the air, and promptly feel back to sleep. The score was now 3-2. Two batters later, another ball was belted out of the park with a runner on, which put the Nats in the lead. Connor's reaction was a bit different this time around. He looked up at me, rolled his eyes back like a teen-ager whose mom has just told her she better not miss curfew again, and closed them once more. It was sort of like he had one last hurrah in him and was willing to play along once, but a second cheer just wasn't worth the effort.

He woke up to see the last couple of batters in the ninth and seemed quite excited leaving the ballpark wrapped up in his little baseball teddy-bear blanket my mom made him, pointing at all the lights and people.