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Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

August 30th, 2006

I think Casey and I are going to have to venture into the dreaded realm of “talking about discipline” in regards to Kenny. My Happiest Baby Ever is starting to think that Mommy’s mad face is a funny one, and that the N-word (that is, “No”) is something more of a challenge or a test of wills than the law of the land.

He’s also starting to get into a pattern of staying happy as a clam as long as we are doing exactly what he wants to do, playing with what he wants to play with, in the room he wants to be in. Alter any of the parameters, and a red-faced little munchkin with a very loud scolding, “Neh neh neh neh!” complete with pointed finger and screwed eyebrows, emerges.

Where on earth did he learn that? He didn’t see it on TV because we don’t watch TV in front of him, save for my occasional Food Network fix when I can’t decide what to make for dinner, and the total of 10 times that I’ve turned on either Baby Einstein or Sesame Street while he’s in the playpen so I can take a shower. (Seriously, it’s truly been about ten times in the whole year that the little guy has been alive!) We certainly don’t scold each other like that. He doesn’t have any older siblings to show him, nor is he in any kind of daycare where he’s exposed to the disciplinary shenanigans of other kids. Could it be that he learned it from Dudley? I know – I’m possibly giving our weimaraner too much credit here, but Dudley is a bit unusual to say the least. In fact, many are the days that I’m quite certain I’m going to arrive home unexpectedly early from an absence and find him either scrambling up some eggs for a snack, or kicking back in the easy chair, one paw around a young, pretty boxer, smoking a camel and pouring out his heart about the injustices of playing second banana to a 22 pound human boy.

Back to the discipline, my main issue is that I am so in love with that kid, my heart melts when he smiles and breaks when he wails. I know, all you seasoned Mommies out there are rolling your eyes and itching to tell me all about the rebel-nightmare he’s going to turn into if I don’t start ruling the roost now. But he’s not even One, yet! How aware is he of the riot he’s causing? Is he even capable of manipulation at this stage in his cranial development?

More likely, he’s just now becoming aware of his preferences, and that if he wants to get what he wants, he has to fight for it. It’s a big world out there, people. The little guy doesn’t have a whole lot of rights – no say in getting dragged to the grocery store for the third time in one week, no negotiation regarding why he always has to ride backwards in the car, no defense when Mommy says, “Time to go!” after only 20 minutes of crawling wild in the play area at the mall. Isn’t it natural that he will voice his opinion where he can? Is it bad to let him win sometimes?

Seriously, I do work to maintain at least some sense of sanity in our household – Kenny doesn’t really run the show. If I let him, he’d spend the day crawling into the cabinet where we keep the Raid, banging butcher knives against the pots and pans instead of wooden spoons, and only eating food that had been taste-tested by Dudley first. He’d never have to sleep, he could eat all his meals off the floor, and he would have already lost at least one finger by insisting on playing Dentist with Dudley. His crib wouldn’t have rails, the stairs wouldn’t have gates, and he would regularly re-test gravity by diving headfirst off of whatever piece of furniture I’m holding him on.

Come to think of it, I’m doing pretty well by enforcing my reign in the castle here. Now if I could only figure out how to get Dudley to make me breakfast.

Pain, Pain, Go Away

August 30th, 2006

Not one minute after I hit “publish” on last night’s post, Kenny was awake and stayed that way for more than two hours.   He was perfectly happy as long as we were all playing, but absolutely adamant against being put back to bed.   It finally took nearly 45 minutes of rocking and bouncing from Casey, and even that only lasted a few hours before he was up again.   Oh if only a baby could get all their teeth at once!   Sure it would be a week or so of hell, but then it would be DONE.   And don’t get me started on the injustice of an infant getting mosquito bites…

As I write, I am sitting in the office floor with our wireless keyboard, and Kenny is crawling across my legs, pulling up my shirt, patting my bottom and intermittently emptying the bookshelf.   Why I am  writing under these conditions, you ask?   Because he’s too tired to take a nap (I will never understand that logic), too cranky for the playpen (which he’s hardly ever in anyway, because I am a SUCKER for his little “Mommy don’t you love me enough to play with me?” look), and I’m too wiped out to think of anything else to do with him.   I just need ten minutes of respite.  

Hey!   He just walked across the room!   Cool.   Now he just bit me in the rear.   Ok.   The ten minutes are up.

It’s Not Easy Being the Little Guy

August 29th, 2006

Not only has poor Kenny had to contend with tooth number five breaking through his tender gums for the last two days, but today was insult to injury. On our walk — the same walk we take everyday — he was viciously attacked by a swarm of wicked mosquitoes, unbeknownst to me. Upon taking him out of his beloved backpack, I saw TEN welts, each the size of a quarter, on his perfect arms and legs. I actually called the pediatrician’s office, to see if there was any cause for alarm, or anything I could do.

The little guy was just miserable today. He kept signing “Hurt!” (which he just learned two days ago) and then pointing to all the spots on his tiny limbs. He cried, he whined, he pointed for Cheerios, then threw them on the floor, signed for milk, then pushed me away. He was clingy one minute, then miserable in my arms the next. And there was nothing I could do, save for the miniscule amount of cortisone cream he was allowed. We barely got through dinner, and the bath attempt was an utter fiasco.

Only now is he peacefully asleep, swathed in clean pjs, and blessedly unaware of the bites that cover his sweet flesh. I can only pray that God will take away the itchies while he sleeps and that tomorrow I’ll have my Happy Baby back!

Mama Needs Some Sugar

August 28th, 2006

I had every intention of writing last night, but was hit unexpectedly by the speeding bullet of a clogged duct.   (I don’t need to explain any further for all you Moms out there.)   No one said that weaning was a picnic, but I hardly expected to have any physical issues, since I’m going about it at a snail’s pace.   As for the emotional side, Kenny seems to have an inkling that I am starting the big W, and is now furiously showing off his ability to sign “MILK!”  almost hourly.  

I went to bed at 7:30, only to have Dudley “check on me” at 9 by jumping onto my ribcage and then sitting on my head.   I then felt obligated to go downstairs to where Casey was installing a delux banister installation adapter kit for the new baby gate, with instructions that were apparently written by an aerospace engineer, of whom English was a second language.   It wasn’t all the rest I’d hoped for,   but I seem to be doing better today.

But as to the “sugar” reference above, I’d like to give an over-due nod to the concert that Casey and I went to lsat Tuesday:   Rodney Atkins and Little Big Town, opening for Sugarland; a country music-lover’s dream night!   We actually got the tickets because we are fans of Little Big Town(http://littlebigtown.com/) but the whole concert was really phenomenal.   Aside from the beautiful night and great music,  there was something about  the performance of Jennifer Nettles  (Sugarland ~  http://www.sugarlandmusic.com) that I haven’t been able to get out of my head.   That woman doesn’t just belt out her tunes; she doesn’t just move around the stage to the beat.   In fact, she doesn’t just dance.   She moves her whole frame with such joyful exuberance that you can’t help but want to jump up and down with her.

I’ve beem thinking about her all week.   It was so obvious that she truly loved every minute of her concert, that she adored the crowd, her musicians and the experience as a whole.   It was contagious joy.  

Now I don’t know much about her as a person, but I find myself wishing that I was more like her in how I act on the outside during the day.   Here I am with a life better than I could ever have imagined: hot,  witty  husband; wild, brilliant son, a dog like no other (and I mean that in every sense of the phrase), a gorgeous home, great family and friends, and the  ability  to stay home and raise my boy and take care of my household everyday.   I am caused to wonder  how much of that blessing is personified in the way I appear physically.   Sure, I smile a lot.   But how often to a jump up and down and spin around because I am so happy?

I tried some of that today.   It felt silly; it felt good.   Kenny thought I was the Coolest Mommy Ever.   Dudley thought I was having a seizure and tackled me to make sure I was OK.   (Another story.)

So I am going to try and let my joy show more.   I want Casey and Kenny to know how happy I am to be singing in the band with them.   I want them to see that I love them boundlessly and that there’s no need to temper my joy at our wonderful life.   Dudley may have to go on puppy Prozac, but it’s a small price to pay, right?

Here’s to living a life of contageous joy.

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August 26th, 2006

This morning, as the Kenny-man announced his intentions to start the day at 6:05 AM, after another late-to-bed night for the family, I started wondering if I would ever get to sleep more than 6 hours a night again this side of heaven.   Casey, the saint in blue-checked pjs, took pitty  on his poor, exhausted wife and took  Kenny and the Duds downstairs so I could sleep a little longer.   As luck would have it, the mind was already in a whirl, and sleep eluded my slumber-deprived brain.  

I ventured downstairs myself, bee-line for the coffee pot, and noticed that it was unnaturally quiet in the house.   Turns out, Casey took  “the boys” on a walk, and I had the place to myself…  a very rare occurance, indeed!

I took my coffee out to the end of the dock.   I haven’t sat out there in ages, I think, at least not in the morning, or by myself, or without feeling like there were 10 other more productive things I could be doing instead.   I just sat there, taking in the beauty of the morning; the wind was cool, breaking the humid air, the water was choppy and steely-colored, and sea gulls and ducks competed for  the  fish jumping in the waves.  

Did you know that solitude is a spiritual discipline?   It takes deliberate action to sit  quietly and contain your racing brain.   Any moments of “quiet” that I usually catch within a day are typically robbed by the Tyrany of the Urgent.   A Bible study leader I had once used that phrase to describe anything that captures your attention away from the solitude at hand,  and convinces you that whatever it is  needs to be done right now.   As in, “OK, I’ve got a half hour of quiet time to read.   But let me just throw in a quick load of laundry first.   Oh, I should unload the dishwasher, too.   Ok, ready to read… hm… maybe I should heat up a cup of coffee… and get a cookie… ok, find the book, settle into the chair… goodness, when is the last time I dusted this end table?   Let me do that really quick…   Well, since the duster is out, maybe I should just hit the bookshelves, too…” and on and on.   And the time is over before it begun.

This is the story for way too many of us housewives and moms out there.   But this morning, settled into the big adirondack at the end of the long pier, way too far away to even be distracted by getting up to reheat my coffee, I was all too content to sit in the solitude and take it all in.   I thought of all the joy in my life.   I prayed for my family.   I watched the show the seagulls put on with their nosedives after the fish.   I wondered who lived in the houses across the water from us.   And I breathed deep.

About half and hour later, Casey came back with our little crew, and they joined me out there in the wind and the cloudy sunrise.

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We sat together untill Kenny got restless, and giggled and watched the early morning crab boats come in.   Even Dudley was content, Master of the Dock…

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Mornings like this are so rare.   Nothing was urgent, nothing distracted us, no phones ringing, no need to do anything but sit.   These moments are the best of gifts.

The Power of Imitation

August 25th, 2006

Kenny is really starting to catch on to the idea of imitating what I do.   It’s facinating to watch him watch me, then mimic the moves or expressions I make.   I was baking a couple of  cakes in the kitchen today, and he sat on the floor with his own pots and pans and a spoon, stiring away.   When I sang, he squalked, and when I licked the spoon, he stuck his into his mouth.  

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His intent little eyes catch it all, folks.

It’s made me realize today that  his keen peepers  aren’t going to miss a thing.

It’s also made me realize just how important it is that Kenny sees me doing things joyfully.     And that he sees me showing physical affection to both him and his Dad.   What better example can Casey and I set for him of a great relationship  than to hug each other as often as we hug him?   So often when the little guy is romping around us, we are too preoccupied with watching him to watch each other.   Casey is such an incredible guy, and I want him to know that he’s my number one, and I want Kenny to know that, too!

Kenny is definitely a hugger.   He hugs Dudley at least 10 times a day (The poor weimeraner doesn’t know what to make of it.   I think he thinks Kenny is expressing his pack leadership over him.)   He hugs me spontaneously, often when I’d least expect it.   And watching him hug Casey during the baseball game last night melted my heart.   He’s a tender little guy, that kid.

How long before he starts repeating everything I say?   Should I keep singing the “Poop” song when I change him, or will that set a bad example, propelling him to sing it someday in Sunday School when he’s gotta go?   I can see it now…

Sha la la POOP dee-ay!   Sha la la POOP dee-ay!   Did Kenny POOP today?   It is so stinky-ay…

Speaking of “poop,” he’s really doing great with learning signs.   I’ve been showing him the sign for “toilet” when I change him, and he did it back to me today.   And he signed “Milk” for the first time spontaneously today when we were in the grocery store.   Right there in the dairy aisle, while I was reaching in to grab the milk, saying “Oh yeah, we need milk,” he waved his arms and signed milk, then signed for me to pick him up, as in, “Milk!   I love milk!   Can I   have some right now, Mommy?”   I was heartsick that I couldn’t reward the sign with an immediate opportunity to nurse, but that might have raised some brows in our suburban Safeway…

The adventure never stops.

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

August 24th, 2006

Can it be nearly three days since last I wrote?   Time is flying…. and our house has been a veritable HGTV commercial for the last 48 hours.   Yesterday a very imposing man installed our new flat screen TV for 6 hours.   Today there were 7 men chopping down the enormous hickory tree that grew straight through our back deck.   It  put me into a melancholy state  to watch it go, that huge old sentinel of our back yard.   Dudley responded to the 7-hour lockdown of his dog door by alternately throwing his skinny grey body against the sliding glass door, and skulking behind the couch with his blankie.   Kenny responded by…

 … dare I even write it????   …taking  a THREE HOUR NAP.

This is the 3rd time in the eleven and a half months of his precious life that he has slept that long during the day.   And I can count on two hands the number of two hour naps he’s had, so this was pretty monumental.   My house is so clean right now, I might not feel guilty when Kenny eats off the floor tomorrow.   (Come on, you all know how sneaky those Cheerios get, rolling around in the darndest places, and golly if Kenny doesn’t find them all.)

We went to an Oriole’s game again tonight, and Kenny got his first ball!   A sweet Minnesota Twins player tossed him one during batting practice.   We didn’t stay long, but once again, he proved to be his Daddy’s son.   Kenny just loves being at the park.   His thousand-watt smile never stopped, and several times he leaned his head on Casey’s shoulder and wrapped his arms around as far as they would go, as if to say, “I love you, Dad.   Thanks for taking me to the game.”

He even watches the game.   He seems to have this inner sense of when to look where, perhaps it’s in his DNA?    It seems, too, that it’s  impossible for most people to pass by without commenting on how adorable he is… what with his O’s cap tipped ever so rouge-ishly to the side, beaming from ear to ear.   (Ok, Mommy forgot the camera for the second game in a row.   But I didn’t  forget  the Cheerios.)

And now he’s sacked out in his crib, dreaming perhaps of the bright lights, the smell of hotdogs, the green, green grass on the field and being out late.   Here’s to many years of watching him watch the world in such wonder.

This is not for Wimps

August 21st, 2006

Today started off pleasantly enough.   Casey and I awoke to the sounds of giggles and baby talk over the monitor ~ Kenny was in great spirits, and so happy to see Casey walk in to his room that he squealed   and danced on his little feet.   In fact, Kenny was a model kid all day.   No tantrums, no fussies… he even took a nap for over an hour.

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No.   Today was all about Dudley.

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To be fair, Dudley spent most of the weekend with a cone over his head.   He got bitten by something or other last weekend, and due to his obssession with licking every inch of his body for hours on end, the vet feared infection and prescribed several hundred dollars worth of antibiotics along with an large opaque cone to strap around Dudley’s head to keep his 2 foot tongue away from the offending wound.   So the poor puppy is a little out of sorts, and more than a little ticked off at us for going through with the vet’s recommendation.

But there was no cone on his head today, so I have to assume he was in full grasp of his mental capacities.

We had a fantastic morning walk.   Kenny was in the backpack, and we named each thing we passed on our two-mile jaunt.   (I realized that our neighborhood has 5 to 1, trucks to cars.   Hm.. I wonder if that is indicative of anything?   But Kenny did learn to say “Trak!” within the first quarter mile.)     When we got home, I let Dudley off his leash, and Kenny and I went inside to play.   I noticed that he was out there for an unusual amount of time, but given the fact that he was restricted for much of the weekend, I figured that a little outdoor romping must be doing him some good.

I forget sometimes who I am dealing with.

Dudley came racing in the dog door at breakneck speed moments later, and, oh my gracious, he smelled like the foulest garbage heap you can imagine.   He sprinted right up into my face and the odor seeping from his drooling tongue was worse than rotten fish and spoiled meat.   He turned smartly around and crashed back through the door, elated to be in the midst of adventure.   I scooped Kenny up and we followed him, and that’s when I saw, at the end of our boat ramp, a very large, half-eaten carcass of what looked like a beached whale.  

On closer inspection, it turned out to be a whole, 7-pound butterball turkey, gizards and all, which must have flown some trash coop in search of wide open spaces.   Who knows where it came from, but there was no way I was picking it up.   I grabbed Dudley by the scruff, hauled him inside, Kenny still on my hip, and got him on his leash, got Kenny into the backpack, grabbed a rake, and marched back to the ramp.   The slimy caracss floated gently back and forth, taunting us by its very audacity to remain on the moss-covered concrete.   I realized that traversing down the ramp would be too dangerous with Kenny on my back (it’s not like I could leave him alone inside), so I went to the garage and found a 10 foot pole.   We waded into the water, Dudley barking like an angry manatee on the shore, and pushed the offending butterball over into my neighbor’s bulkhead, close enough to her crabpots to at least do some good ecologically.

Ah, but if that were the end of this tail!   I mean, tale.

The rest of the day with Dudley was just Chaos.   First off, he smelled awful.   And given that he loves to lick poor little Kenny, and Kenny is constantly egging him on by sticking his face into Dudley’s tongue-range, I knew I was going to be in for it.

I forced Dudley to eat an apple, nature’s toothbrush, right?   Then kept him on a leash on “his” chair in a down stay.

Apparently Kenny thought that Dudley looked a little bored, and decided to read him a book:

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I take it Dudley is not as keen on Noah and the Ark as Kenny is…

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After lunch, he decided that Dudley still looked a little hungry, so he showed him where to find some extra tidbits:

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“Mommy, Dudley is eating my secret stash of Cheerios!”

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I’m already exhausted, just remembering the number of times I catapulted overtop the couch to either separate Kenny and Dudley (can you get salmonilla from Dog Breath?), or pry something of Kenny’s out of Dudley’s mouth.   It’s not even all Dudley’s fault.   Kenny loves Dudley so much, he follows him around, hugs him at every opportunity, and always wants to share everything with him.

Thank goodness Casey and I have a night out tomorrow night.   My poor, long-suffering Mommy will have the task of babysitting Dudley tomorrow.   Did I just write that?   I meant Kenny, but we all know who is more work around here.

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(gratuitous picture of Casey and I on our date night last week… I couldn’t resist… see, we’re cute, too!)



And Another in the Week of Firsts

August 20th, 2006

We took Kenny to his first Oriole’s game last night… I can honestly say that I’ve never seen that little guy so happy!   So much to see, to hear, to smell, to taste… he was in his element.   And later on we found out that he was featured for about 10 seconds on the television broadcast of the 15-0 (O’s!) game.

He  got the hang of clapping right  away… my goodness, with a run-away game  like the O’s had last night, it was easy to catch on to cheering!   He loved the music,  especially the Latin-inspired music they play when  Tejada  and Mora are up to bat.   He already knows “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” and when that played, he got this euphoric look on his little face, and gazed wide-eyed at me as if to say, “Mommy!   They know our song!”

He ate a large portion of a soft pretzel, in amidst the handfuls of cheerios disguised as if they came out of the peanut bag we were munching on, and at least half of my veggie burger (go figure), inspiring me to piggy-back on this new-found way of stealthfully sneaking vegetables into his body.

All in all, it was a perfect night – warm with a cool breeze, a winning game and a great family outing.

In other news, he’s continued to walk a few steps at a time here and there… of course, never when the video camera is anywhere near by.   We even tried letting the camera run for awhile today, but I think he was on to our ruse, because all he wanted to do at that point was sit quietly and read books.

My little guy is growing up.   Where once sat a tiny baby, now there is a little boy with all his precious personality bursting forth.   We’re closing in on the First Year.   How can time fly so fast?


First Steps, Part 2

August 18th, 2006

If yesterday Kenny took his first unassisted steps, then tonight marks the first unassisted, uncompelled steps.

He stood up on his own, teetered for a moment like a drunken sailor looking left and right, then one… two… three… four… five!   And plop down on the rump.   He even had an audience of 10 adults and 2 other babies to witness his triumph.

Go, Kenny, GO!

And Casey will be installing the assortment of bolted-in baby gates tomorrow.

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