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A Most Unlikely Aquaintance

August 18th, 2006

Every morning, Kenny and I take Dudley for a walk.   This is not an optional part of our day.   People ask me how I got back into shape so fast after the baby, and I simply reply, “Workout by Weimaraner.”   These dogs don’t just like their daily walks; if they get skipped, the poop hits the fan and the adorable weim turns into a Tazmanian Devil on speed.

My point in this is merely to say that we go on a walk every day.   Weather or not.   And being a creature of habit, living in a neighborhood that only has 3 roads, we walk at the same time, in the same direction, for the same amount of time, singing the same silly songs every day.   (Ok, I make up new words to the songs every day… today’s jingle was “Why do the Orioles always lose?” sung to the tune of, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”

After a while, you get to know the neighbors.   All of them.   They don’t know my name, but you can bet they know Kenny and Dudley.   Last week, a young guy, the kind of really nice, slightly tatooed, I’ll bet his nickname isn’t “Tiny,” possibly in construction type called out to us as we passed his house.   It turns out, he has a baby the same age as Kenny, and he mentioned that his wife didn’t really have many friends with babies, maybe she could walk with me sometime.   I’m always up for company, so I told him that if she wanted to meet me outside one morning, we’d love to have her.

This morning was the third time she was waiting outside with her little guy in the stroller, ready for a walk.   She is really sweet; maybe shy, maybe just not very talkative.   She asks me questions about Kenny, we compare notes, talk about life with a baby, date nights, in-laws… and this morning she blurted out, “I’m really not married.”   I think she’s been wanting to say that for awhile.   It turns out that they got engaged after she got pregnant, and they live with his folks, but they haven’t had time for a wedding yet.   I knew she was young (20!) but suddenly I got a little clearer picture of her life, and how different it is from mine.   Last week, she asked me, “So who do you guys  live with?”   I thought that was a little odd, but I didn’t miss a beat when I said, “We have our own house.”    

So  today we talked  about being married.   She asked me if it was fun.  

Now, personally, I think that marriage is the best invention God made.   But how can you delicately dive into that conversation with a young girl who’s living with her boyfriend and his parents, working full time, trying to raise a little boy, and forever unsure about where her life is going and who she may be with ten years from now?   Her questions centered around whether or not being married was any different from not being married.   In her life, they already live together, they are raising a son together, and from what I can gather from the few times I’ve talked to him, he wants desperately for her to be his wife.   That’s the only way he’s ever refered to her in talking to me.   This morning she had to run  back into the house, so  he waited in the driveway with the baby.   He told me that his “wife” loved our walks, and that he was so happy that she was making friends and feeling better about herself.   This guy seems like the real deal.  

So how can I talk to her in a way that will encourage her, yet not be afriad of telling her  the Truth?   I want to respect her, and at the same time be a role model, if I can.   What a strange situation I find myself in.   I don’t want to be tolerant or unoffensive for the sake of politeness and miss out on this opportunity I have to touch another’s life.   This is going to take gentle handling.  

I look at my own little guy and I see all the glorious possibilties for  his future.   And I look at this young girl, and I want her to have all that, too.

A Step in History

August 17th, 2006

I haven’t much time to write tonight, but I had to at least chronical the news:

Kenny  walked for the first time  today!

For the past few weeks he’s been mighty close – walking like a miniature speed racer behind his little push car, occasionally stopping to take one, single, precious step out from the safety of the plastic handlebar…

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But always sitting down firmly on his rump before the second step has time to materialize.

But this morning, he took a full 5 steps from my hands into Casey’s waiting arms, then did the same thing again tonight.

I think that makes it official.   My baby walked!   Did we have a camera?   A video recorder at the ready?   Of course not… but I’ll never forget the huge look of joy and surprise that overtook Kenny’s tiny face at the realization that he’d just crossed a gap without holding on to anything.   He was aware of his triumph, and so happy at himself.

I need to go now.     For goodness sakes, this opens up a whole new bucket of baby-proofing issues…


Waking up on the Wrong Side of the Circus

August 16th, 2006

My little ringmaster had a rough morning.   All started off well: he woke up to nurse at 5 AM, and then fell asleep with Casey and I in our bed for another two hours – a rare but delightful occasion.   I woke up to the butterfly-like pats of his palms against my face and the sound of sleepy giggles and baby toots.   (How does a little boy have so much gas??)

But within five minutes of  petting and cooing, Kenny spied something on the floor beside the bed, and fervently attempted a nose-dive off the side.   I held him back – oh the injustice! – and he started to  screech and throw his body weight towards the floor.   I figured he must just want to crawl a little, so I set him down onto the carpet, where he promptly began to howl like a banshee.   So  I picked him up and he again worked his wriggly little body into a corkscrew, aiming at the floor.

“Ok, enough of this.   Mommy needs some coffee,” I said, and we traipsed downstairs to fuel up with my quota of caffeine.    He was happy enough for a few minutes on the floor, banging tupperware together while I poured my cup, then submitted to a snuggle  in the oversized chair overlooking the water.   Casey joined us with his own cup of coffee, and the sight of the orange mug being set on the floor sent Kenny into frantic swan-dive positioning, where Casey caught the human canonball before Kenny’s cranium hit the hardwood.   That set Kenny off into another tyrade of bad humor, and I looked at Casey and said, “Did something happen this morning that I missed?”   Kenny is  normally the model of infant joy and happiness  ~ such shenanigans are usually beyond his perky character.  

While Casey went upstairs to shower, I held Kenny’s writhing body close.   He arched his back and started slapping at my face, and I prayed quietly, “Oh Lord ~ is the whole day going to be like this?   I can’t do this.   Please redeem this day – it’s yours.”  

Oh, I’m so glad I did that.   Kenny stayed fussy for the  rest of the morning, but took a heavy sleep in the car mid-morning while we  drove to meet a friend for lunch.   From waking and on, he was himself.   We spent the afternoon lying on a blanket in the yard,  cuddling and singing.    

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I have no idea what got his goat this morning.   No new teeth the be seen,  no physical ailments.   Maybe he just woke up  on the wrong side of the circus.  

First Words

August 15th, 2006

Kenny is really starting to talk.   Oh, I know that I am probably the only one who understands the bulk of his growing vocabulary.   Aside from, “Dada,” “Mama,” “Dudee!” the others  require  a little sharper ear.    

There’s “Bite” for “light,” “BO!” for “boat,” “Burrr” for “bird” and “Baybay” for “belly button.”   A couple of times he’s  lifted up my shirt and said, “Meo” for “milk.”   And everytime we walk outside these days, he points at the grass and says, “teetee” for “tickle,” which is what I say to him when he touches his toes into the grass and looks up at me in astonishment at the strange sensation.

He quite clearly says, “Teddy” for a  little book about a Teddy bear that we keep in the car for him ~ in fact today, he  was reading it to himself in the back seat with such passion that he kept cracking himself up.   Everytime I peeked into the mirror to check on him, he was nearly doubled over in glee.  (He laughs like that when I magically pull Cheerios out of my purse, too.   He looks at them in awe as if to say, “How on earth did you get out of your cabinet and find me?”)    He said, “steak!” perfectly today at the dinner table, but  I pretended that he said, “more pureed peas, please” instead.   That kid has expensive taste.

He’s really good at “more” and “all done”  in sign language, and he’s starting to understand how to sign “mmm, good” and “drink.”  

But I think what amazes me the most are those times when he looks at me with an earnest expression and babbles off a string of very intelligent sounding jibberish, then pauses with expectation to await my response.   Or when he points his finger at me, screws up his tiny face and very clearly scolds me (or Dudley) for some injustice we’ve caused him.   What I wouldn’t pay to have a translator in those moments!

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It’s fun watching him learn to express himself.   He’s a sharp little kid, and he definitely understands the idea of language and communication.   I’m counting down to the day when he will look up at me in adoration and exclaim, “Mommy, will you teach me to help you clean the house?”  

Hometown Vacation

August 14th, 2006

This weekend we decided to take a little trip to celebrate Casey’s birthday.   Not wanting to subject poor Kenny to any more long plane rides, we found a nice hotel in town 17 miles from our house.   (Hey – someone else made the bed – that’s vacation enough for me!)

We stayed at the downtown Loews hotel – a fantastic chain, as they welcome both babies and dogs with care packages and special  treats.   And what can possibly be cooler than walking into a really nice hotel lobby with your dog?

Dudley is a striking fellow; unbelievably well-behaved out in public.   Nearly everyone we pass comments on him:  

Local Man: “What kind of dog is that?”  

Me: “A Weimaraner.”  

LM: “A whitey-what?”  

Me: “A Weimaraner.”  

LM: “Wine Runner?”  

Me: “He’s an Indonesian Monkey Dog.”  

LM: “Oh, I thought so!   I saw those on that dog show on Animal Planet…”

Taking our mini trip allowed Casey and I to go out on the town late and allowed Casey’s parents to be the ultimate servants by indulging us in a much-needed date night.   My mother-in-law stayed with Kenny in the dark and quiet hotel room while he slept, with nothing but a muted TV to keep her company.   My father-in-law took Dudley back to our house so that we could actually sleep in without Dudley’s signature “wake up call” of needing to wiz within 30 seconds of hearing either of us flutter our eye lids.

Casey and I hit the local bar scene; something we haven’t done since we were dating.   I don’t have to tell you mommies out there what a joy a night out late with your husband can be.   We laughed, we talked, we walked around holding hands, we mooned over million dollar boats (but  don’t worry: we didn’t moon any of them).   We tried really hard to break the midnight barrier, but I think we were back at the hotel by 11:30.   It didn’t matter.   Kenny was sound asleep, a big fluffy hotel bed awaited us, and the three of us actually slept until 7:45 – our family record.

That morning we strolled through town to a bakery for fresh-baked muffins and coffee, and sat again by the boats and enjoyed the clear sunshine and bay breeze.   Sometimes a night across town is all you need to refresh the soul!

This weekend of celebrating Casey’s birthday both as a little nuclear family and as a big, extended family (with a cookout at our house on Sunday) reminded me of how deeply in love I am with Casey and how blissfully infatuated I am with our little boy.   There is truly nowhere on earth I’d rather be than wherever they are.   As long as we’re together, come what may, I will count this life a blessed success.

Oops, I Did it Again

August 11th, 2006

Comparison is the greatest robber of joy.

I heard that quotation on the radio a few years ago, and I repeat it to myself often.   You know, in those moments when you find yourself comparing the clothes, shoes, rings, houses, whatever, with another woman.    Reminding myself of that  always pops me out of whatever momentary envy I am feeling.

But there is something that I need to confess.  

First, a little background:   When I found out I was pregnant, I was overcome with joy, surprise and elation.   You see, many years ago, I was told that I “probably” couldn’t have kids.    (A result of the fact that I’d had amenorreah for over 5 years because I was  an underweight runner. If you want to read the long story, it’s published on www.clubmom.com… I’ll insert the actual link once I figure out how!)  

In my excitement over indulging in the full pregnancy experience, I got hooked on http://www.celebrity-babies.com/  and the section devoted to pregnant celebrities.   It turns out, I had nearly the same due date as Britney Spears and Heidi Klum.   So I diligently checked the site every day for photos of those two gals, comparing belly sizes, outfits, water-retained ankles, etc… Since Kenny’s birth, I still find myself “checking in” from time to time on those two.   You understand, I mean, Kenny is practically related to them.   Somehow.

Anyway, a few months ago, I found out that not only was Brit preggo again, but so was Heidi!   I was suddenly out of the loop.   Out of the sisterhood of pregnant pals.   (Ok – this is my own little daydream here… bear with me…)   I felt like I’d been dumped.   They were going to the prom and I wasn’t.

Here’s the real scoop.   Casey and I would love to have more kids.   Like 2 or 3 more.   And we joked for the first few months of Kenny’s life about how much fun it would be to have “Irish twins.”   I’m realistic: I had a c-section and I know that it’s best to wait a year before trying to get pregnant again.   And I am still breastfeeding, so I know that the chances of getting pregnant  yet are pretty slim.   The eleven months since Kenny’s birth are already a huge blurr, and the last thing I want to do is miss a moment of this precious creature by switching focus to planing “the next one.”

But I’m kind of jealous of Britney and Heidi.   They are both expecting in the next month or two.   Their kids will be close.   They will be changing diapers in tandem.   Balancing a kid on each hip.   Nursing with one hand and serving pureed peaches with the other.

All joking aside, I know that it’s all in God’s hands.     I know that Kenny may be the only one I’ll have, and without artiface or hesitation, I can say with the purest of  hearts that I am completely content with that.   He is a miracle beyond all I could have ever hoped or imagined.   I love him more than I ever knew it was possible to love.   He is a gift from God.

But let’s just say I wouldn’t be at all amiss if I saw a couple of double lines on the old EPT test sometime soon.  

Weimaraners Make Terrible Bedfellows

August 9th, 2006

Here is a post dedicated to life with Dudley.

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Dudley is by far the most gentle, intelligent, comical and wild canine there is out there.   He makes sure that I am never bored in my role as a Stay at Home Wife and Mommy.   He dedicates himself to filling in the gaps and keeps me from becoming a couch-potato, or worse, a mellow yoga-loving, meditation relaxation  aficionato.  

When I am sitting down quietly, he runs to get something dangerous or expensive, and  trots past me with it in his mouth in order to get me up off my rump and into a full sprint, causing me  to boost my metobolism and burn those pesky post-baby pounds.   When I want to go to bed early when Casey is out of town, he makes sure that I stay up to a more adult hour by licking himself with such passionate gusto that I am starting to wonder if they got it all when he was neutered.  

As I was typing that last sentence, in fact, I heard a  *POP* that vaguely sounded like a small ski boat exploded in the cove outside our house, and  I ran downstairs to find that  Dudley had managed  to  puncture Kenny’s beach ball.

In the time I have taken to type this,  in addition to the beach  ball, he has chewed up a plastic hanger, ran past with an empty shoe box, a toothbrush and a sock (all separate trips), and gone up and  down the stairs 14 times at break-neck speed, for reasons unknown.   I’m  mulling over the possibility of  sharing  a martini with him, just to see if it will calm him down a little.   Goodness knows I could use one at this point.

Ah, but what would  I be without him?   A boring old suburban nobody, that’s who.   Dudley makes me famous; in the daily walk I take around our neighborhood, it is Dudley’s name everyone knows.   Kenny and I are nothing more than Dudley’s side-kicks; the ones holding the leash and picking up his poops as he waltzes from street to street, tail and head high and proud of himself and his lowly subjects.  

Yes, I’ve read the Dog Whisperer’s book.   I’m personifying him for the sake of a good post.   He knows I’m really the boss around here…

Oh wait, I gotta go… something that looks a little like a bottle of perfume just zoomed by via weimaraner…   at least he’ll smell good…

Out on the Town

August 8th, 2006

Casey is out of town tonight, so Kenny and I decided that we needed a distraction.

Actually, I found out at 3 o’clock today that I had to make a drive into downtown Annapolis to drop off something somewhere that is vaguely related to Casey’s birthday present.   Kenny and I found ourselves in the middle of the Historic District at 5:30 on one of the most beautiful nights of the summer.   I realized that I’d not only forgotten to bring a diaper bag in my rush out of the house, but I’d also really missed timing on dinner, so we wandered to a casual outdoor restaurant and sat at one of the outside tables.   The waiter was instantly taken with Kenny, and I breathed a sigh of relief.

Kenny sat in his high chair, holding court as the business men and women, joggers, dog walkers, Naval Academy officers and boaters walked by.   I had a glass of better than average Syrah, and we shared an enormous smoked turkey and gouda sandwich.   (Kenny’s appetite made me realize that we are going to have to start ordering off the kid’s menu soon!)   It was a perfect night – 83 degrees and breezy with a cloudless sky.   We managed to clean our plate (Kenny ate all the pickles), and pay the tab without so much as a fuss from the little guy.   Even the ride home was uneventful, save for five minutes of the boo-hoo’s right before we got home.

We arrived to find Dudley merrily chomping away on the toothbrush Casey couldn’t find when he was packing last night, and a night so gorgeous on the water that it made my chest ache.   As soon as Kenny was bathed and in bed, I sat on the screened porch with Dudley and we shared an obscene amount of gourmet oreo ice cream as we watched the sun set –  his  consolation prize for missing the trip downtown.

I had to steal myself against envy as I watched the boats zoom by, and I starting thinking about how much life has changed in the past year.   It’s obvious, to be sure, having a baby, but there are so many little changes that make up the one big change.   Like the fact that I was eating a tub of ice cream and not worrying about fitting into my jeans.   That I was sitting on the screened porch with the door open so I could hear inside, instead of sitting at the end of the dock, or going for a walk, or taking the jetski out for a spin…

Funny, though, I can’t even feel slightly  melancholy about any of it when  I think of our little circus, and his crazy hair sticking up after a bath, and his 4-tooth smile.   He is such a great kid.   Tonight, as I was  sudsing him up in the tub, he suddenly did the sign for “All  done!” and held up his hands for me to get me out.   I was amazed.   He’s been getting the idea when he’s eating, with signing “more” and then “all done,” but this is the first time he’s signed spontaneously and out of context.   And not only is he a veritable genius, but  he’s affectionate.   While I was leaning over to zip up his PJs  he reached up to touch my face and  cooed, “Daa daaaa daaaa….DAD DEEE!” (which I think, roughly translated, means, “Mom, you are the most beautiful, fun woman on the planet.   Even more fun that Dudley.”)

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That reminds me that I need to write about this past weekend.   We went to Boston to visit Casey’s brother and his family and Kenny fell instantly in awe with his big cousin Ryan.   I’ll have to write more about that later,  once I’ve got  all two hundred pictures downloaded…

Girls’ Night In

August 3rd, 2006

Last night one of my friends stayed over with her two kids, as Casey was working unusually late and  I was in need of some “girl time.”   This friend of mine is a super hero, as far as I’m concerned.   Not only does she have two adorable kids, a boy who’s almost 4 and a girl who is 9 months old, but she is a self employed  entrepreneur  and  handles all this  while living on a houseboat!   And she’s one of the most joyful  people I know.

So we had a slumber party of sorts last night… ok, I really was going to spike the chocolate milkshakes…   But after dinner and battling Dudley in his glee over not one, but TWO babes in highchairs flinging food, then playtime, storytime, warm milk and blanket time, then “where is my Teddy Bear?” time:


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and  then taking  two and a half hours to get three little ones to sleep in the same house while still reasonably close to bedtime proximity, we felt practically drunk anyway.

It was so good to just  sit and talk.   To complete sentences and continue in a train of thought.   We didn’t complain about our bodies, gossip about other women, whine about husbands, lament about kids or mothers or mothers-in-law… we just … talked.  

Nights  like that remind me that we were created to live in community with each other.   We are created to need each other, and also to fulfill the vast array of roles we are created for: wife, daughter, mother, sister, aunt, friend, colleague, neighbor.

We aren’t created to “do it all” or be self-sufficient.   Why do we try so hard to prove to others (who?) that we don’t need help in living out the everyday?   We don’t have the benefit, most of us, of living in the same town where we grew up, and where our Mothers grew up before us, where we know everyone and where there are several grandmas, aunts or cousins to watch the kids so that we can go to the grocery store and not wreck a fragile nap schedule.  

After the night of fun, Kenny slept like a rock and woke up so happy I almost didn’t want to inturupt the animated banter he was having with the stuffed lobster in his crib this morning.   I peeked my head around the corner, and he stood up with such  enthusiasm at seeing my face, that he let loose an enormously impressive  explosion of gas.

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Love Tangible

August 2nd, 2006

This morning Kenny and I sat in his rocking chair in one of the rare moments he is not completely kenetic energy.   He let me hold him close and he rested his head on my chest, loudly  “DA DA DAing”  along while I quietly sung songs to him.   After about 15 minutes, the “DA DAs” got quieter  and I started humming “I’ll Fly Away.”     His little body curled into a half moon around my torso.   His tired eyes looked up into mine and his head got a little heavier as we rocked.   He heard Dudley’s toenails on the pergo outside the door, and instead of  bolting upright and shouting, “DUDEEEE!” as he usually does, Kenny barely shifted his eyes to the door and softly murmered, “duuudeee.”

My mind started to wander and as the minutes ticked by, the little guy drifted to sleep.   We stayed that way for awhile.   These are the precious moments.   These are the moments when I look down at him and wonder,  when he  turns into a 6’2″, high school football star, will he still want to hug his mama?   Will he like me when he’s older?   Will he remember these songs I used to sing?   I also wonder about any other children we may have someday… will I have time to have these moments with them, too?

Then I remembered the bills to pay, the laundry to fold, the dishwasher to unload.   He may sleep 15 minutes or 2 hours, so I need to get going with what I can.   His soft gumby body stayed in exactly the same position he was in when he was curled around me as I laid him down, one arm in an arc above his head, one leg crossed over the other.   He  could almost be mistaken for a  mini Baryshnikov,  if not  for the  hawaiian teeshirt and tiny cargo shorts.

My heart is so full it’s hard to leave.   I just want to stay and soak in the miracle that he is.   How did I deserve such richness?

 PS – I called and rescheduled the pediatrician appointment.   There’s no way I’m waking this kid up from a nap so I can go talk about him not napping.   We’ll see what tomorrow brings.   Hope springs eternal.

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