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Split Focus

September 13th, 2006

Kenny and I took Dudley to the vet this morning.   Dudley has been licking himself silly lately, and there had been some spots on his skin we were watching, so we wanted to double check that all was well.   It was hard to concentrate on the exam, though, because Kenny, somehow aware that he was not the main event for the visit, worked overtime being cute.

I had set him down once in the exam room, with firm instructions not to touch anything, and held Dudley for the vet to give him the once-over.   Kenny toddled over to the rack of brochures on the wall, all with adorable pictures of dogs, and pulled down several.   Then he started flipping through them, saying, “PaPee!   DaDee!” (“Puppy!   Doggie!”).   When that failed to garner a response, he began carefully turning each page as if he were going to read us a story, all the while babbling with such perfect, animated inflections that you would swear he really was reading, just in a language other than English.

I had one eye on him, one on Dudley, half an ear on the vet and the rest of my capacities spent in trying not to laugh.   Our wonderful vet is so in love with animals, that he didn’t even notice the pipsqueek in the corner reciting the Gettysburg Address.    Dudley was so happy to have all the attention on him, he started wagging his tail with such ferver I thought it would fall off.   Then our vet delivered the good news / bad news.

Thankfully, there doesn’t seem to be any physiological worries.   His little skin spots are just a de-pigmentation, nothing to worry about, and it doesn’t seem that there are any immune deficiencies or allergies causing the constant licking.   The verdict in fact was that the dear old doc believes that Dudley is exhibiting obsessive/compulsive disorder, and that the licking is due to his  desire for more exercise and attention.   He said that it’s quite common in working dogs who are pets.

Now as far as the average pet goes, Dudley lives in the Taj Mahal.   We don’t spoil him (hey – we’ve read the Dog Whisperer’s book), but he gets pretty lavished with love and attention.   We take him everywhere with us, he gets his walk first thing every day, and we snuggle with him every night after Kenny goes to bed.   But weimaraners are a different breed (pardon the pun) from your average canine.   They don’t just want a walk, they want an eight hour day of prowling through the marsh.   They don’t just want a snuggle, they want to sit  on your lap and have a swedish massage.   They don’t just want to go for a ride, they want to drive.

So combine the natural tendencies with the fact that we have a human toddler in the house, and it’s a recipe for the weimaraner boo-hoos.

Our vet gave Dudley a low-dose  anti-anxiety medicine that he’s supposed to take for a few months to wean him of the licking habit.   (Oh goodness… everyone’s weaning!)   And he suggested that we up his exercise a little more, too, to take the edge off.   I was half-expecting that we were also going to get a referral to a dog psychiatrist, but that fortunately didn’t come up.

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When we got home, we went for an hour long walk.   Kenny fell asleep, and stayed that way in his stroller in the living room for an hour.   (!)   Dudley took a long happy  nap at my feet and I got most of the way through a pile of unopened mail that dates almost to back Bastille Day.  

Finally, to update on Kenny, he is continuing to eat like a horse, and for the first time, actually lost interest in nursing at one point today.   Two minutes into it, he heard Dudley galloping through the living room, and he rolled off my lap to stumble after him, to see what the fun was all about.   I sat there, a little shocked, and realized that weaning is real, and it looks like it’s working.   I just need someone to wean me!

Word to the Mamma

September 12th, 2006

Ok, duh.   You know how they say that really really smart people are usually kind-of clueless about everyday stuff?   Well then that makes me clueless and not that brilliant to begin with.

First off, THANK YOU for all who wrote in and commented with advice on the weaning issue.   (Crisanne, our favorite time is mornings, too… there’s nothing like that extra bit of sleep that comes when everyone is snuggling in the big bed.)

And wouldn’t you know it, but today, everytime Kenny did the “dinkle dinkle” milk sign, I fed him real food, and he was happy.   And the kid ATE.   He ate cereal, yogurt and  bananas.   (Then we went to our first  “Mommy and Me” swim class ~ oh, what a disaster!) Then cheerios and a banana, and  took a three hour nap.   Then half a veggie burger, steamed broccoli with marinara sauce and at least two ounces of cheese.   Then more cereal (Kashi), more banana, deli turkey and more cheese.   Then roast chicken with Casey and I at dinner time.   Finally, he politely signed, “Milk, please,” and I took him up to his rocker, and he drank a moderate amount and fell asleep in Casey’s arms.

Whew.   So it turns out the old, “offer the solid foods before the breast milk” thing really works!   And he was the happiest little clam all day.   The only tears came at bathtime when I took him out of the tub too soon.   He lunged back in, grabbed his wash cloth, and put in on top of his head, and smiled at me.   I think that means, “you forgot to wash my hair, Mommy!”

So maybe the weaning issues weren’t with Kenny.   Maybe they were with me.   Maybe I’m the one  who really  relies on them… for a moment to sit down and be quiet, for moments of snuggling and singing.   I’m not saying that I’m waving a victory flag already (or would it be a defeat flag… I guess it depends on how you look at it…), but I think that I’ve already learned that he is growing up and needing less of the Mamma.

At mealtimes, at least.   He’s still my little guy, right?

How Hard Can It Be?

September 11th, 2006

That’s what came to mind twelve months ago when I figured that I’d breastfeed Kenny until he was one, then stop.

What, like I was going to just … stop?

See, my adorable, brilliant little boy has learned some sign language in these last few months, and there is nothing sweeter, more heart-melting, more irresistible than his little face lighting up in an anticipatory smile and his nimble little hands signing, “Milk!”   He even does audio with this sign; something that sounds vaguely like, “dinkle dinkle dinkle,” though for the life of me I can’t figure out where he picked that one up.   Unless he’s saying “drink,” which then makes perfect sense.

But I’m going to have to buckle down, it seems.   He had his one year check-up today, and while his head cicumference is still off the charts (big brains), he’s gotten taller, but his weight is nearly the same as it was at his last check-up.  

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He doesn’t  look skinny, but they want to do a weight check in six weeks, and the very sweet pediatrician suggested that I do a little less of the Momma Milk and a lot  more of the solid food.  

As soon as we got home, I fixed him a snack, then another and then dinner.   And then he still drank about a gallon of the homemade leche.   But at least there was real food in there, too.

So how do I really do it?   How do I wean this precious boy from the cuisine he loves the best?   Any Moms reading out there who weaned a little guy after the first year?   I’m not soliciting for La Leche League support, but I’ll take any advice I can get.   Should I warm the cow milk, or give it to him cold?   He drinks from a cup, but it’s messy… he won’t use the sippy-lid.   He hates juice, tolerates water, and really likes soy-milk after it’s been infiltrated with soggy cereal.   So where do I go from here??

Beware of Giant Orioles

September 10th, 2006

We took Kenny to another Orioles game today… against the Yankees, no less.   (This little guy is starting off his second year of life well!)   I have to admit that my biggest concern going into the ballpark today was that he might hear a few new words… words that I am in no way ready for his tender ears to hear.   But all of the  Yankee fans  around us were perfectly civil about the fact they were kicking Oriole heiney (the score was 1-7 when we left at the seventh inning stretch).

As I’ve written before, Kenny  loves the major league baseball experience, and today was no exception.   There were two minor issues we had to get past first, though:

1. The sun was very strong and very warm.   (Casey and I realized that we had only previously been to evening and night games and our seats,which are on the field just past third base,  are not exactly in the shade at 1:30  in the afternoon.   I ended up walking Kenny up into the shade a couple of times to cool him off.)   and,

2. The Giant Oriole Bird is scary.

There we were, in our seats on the aisle, Kenny in full Oriole  outfit with matching  hat, when the incredibly energetic and incredibly HUGE Oriole mascot appears right next to me, nearly on top of us, to lead our section in a cheering contest.   I was so excited at the potential photo-op that I jumped up with Kenny in my arms and started cheering right along with the big Bird.   I held Kenny up, sure that he would share in the enthusiasm, when all of the sudden I caught the look of utter terror on his face.   I quickly sat down and looked squarely at him and watched his little face crumple.   In that instant,  he buried his face in my armpit and howled.  

The last time he cried like that, we were in a pub in Maui watching Pittsburg vs. Colts playoff game,  and the crowd roared in disbelief at the Jerome Bettis fumble and ensuing mayhem.   Four-month-old Kenny was shocked out of his booties at the sound of Mommy and Daddy joining in the cry of “Oh no!” and shreiked like a banshee.   It took almost twenty minutes to calm him down, and we  decided  that maybe  he wasn’t quite ready for the sports bar experience.

Now he’s absolutely loved the cheering crowd at the games we’ve been to so far this year.   Kenny actually looks like he follows the game, and seems to enjoy rooting the home team on.   So this had nothing to do with noise; this was all about the fact  that this giant furry beast in his personal space  bore no resemblence to the sweet chirping birds he delights in  in the backyard.     This was all about a bird with a head the size of our kitchen table, wings flapping on top of his head and a tail that could easily take out Dudley with one fell swoop.  

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The poor little guy took half an inning to venture his gaze past my shoulder.   All the fear was forgotten soon enough, though.   One extra-large soft pretzel later, along with some shady clouds to break the heat, and our future left-handed pitcher was happy as a lark once again.   He bounced in Casey’s arms, smiled and clapped, laughed and wiggled his little body to the beat of the music.  

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He snuggled with me, played peek-a-boo with our hats, and drank enough water to fill a small camel.   By the time we got back into the car, he was exhausted and content.  

Thoughts of giant, gyrating birds long forgotten, and once again in love with baseball.

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The Best Day Yet

September 9th, 2006

Happy Birthday, Kenny!  

I can’t believe you are one year old today.   You have brought your Dad and me so much joy and have made our lives rich beyond measure.     You have shown me a side of myself that I never knew existed, and a side of your Dad that makes my heart melt!

We had so much fun  celebrating your day today.  We spent the morning downtown (where Dudley still got all the attention).   We walked around the historic district, had lunch at a favorite ourdoor table at the city dock (you ate almost a third of Mommy’s salmon, and who knews how much of Daddy’s fish and chips), then stolled in for some  ice cream (sorry kiddo – you slept through that one!),  walked around the Naval Academy, and then drove home singing and laughing.   And when we got home, we opened presents!

Kenny b day! 005.jpg      TV Remotes and Cell Phones GALORE!                                Kenny b day! 016.jpg… how did you know what to do with the remote??

Then you helped Mommy make  a “barely chocolate” cake…     Kenny b day! 021.jpg

(and helped test the icing!)Kenny b day! 026.jpg

And we capped it off with  a steak dinner out on the deck.   You put away a lot of steak for a little guy, but somehow the corn on the cob took the prize…

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And the cake, though you thought it was a little icky at first, turned out to be a hit!

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My sweetest little guy, I love you so much.   This year has flown by… there’s got to be a way to slow it down!   I want to savor each moment.   You are a wonder.   Thanks for being who you are and for letting me be your Mommy.

Time Flies

September 8th, 2006

My little boy is turning one tomorrow.   Actually,   he’s turning one at 1:52 AM… this time last year, I was tearfully giving up my hopes of having a nice, earthy, yoga-pose aided natural childbirth, and submitting with exhausted reluctance to the epidural Casey was begging me to take.   After 20 hours of labor at that point, I was in agony and the thought of the pain going away was starting to sound better and better.   Good thing, too.   My “very small, maybe no more than 7 pounds” bundle of joy turned out to be an 8 pound, 10 ounce bruiser with a head circumference that was off the charts.   When I look at the scar from the c-section, and look at Kenny, my heart bursts with pride that something so miraculous actually happened to me.


And here I am, one year later, one thousand years wiser, and a million times fuller than I ever thought I could be.   And yes, I’m ready for another one.

Isn’t that the question on everyone’s lips these days?   You date someone, and everyone wants to know if he’s the one.   You get engaged, and everyone wants to know the date.   You get married, and people start winking at you and asking when you’re going to start putting buns in the oven.   And your first turns one, and everyone starts saying things like, “so.. are you ready for the next one?”

In good time, people, in good time.   I wrote a few weeks back about wanting to have another little wonder as close in age to Kenny as possible… so we’ll just have to see what the Good Lord has in mind.   Casey and I get together with a group every Friday night, in which three of the other women are currently pregnant – all three with their third child.   Suddenly, my circus of a boy Kenny looks like a picnic.   These women all manage to comb their hair and match their shoes… surely I can manage that with only ONE!   But these things aren’t really up to us, are they?   Oh we can try, we can plan, we can dream.  

But in reality, all we really can do is look at what we’ve got right now, and thank God for it.   And I’m so thankful for little Kenny.   He is a dream come true.   He’s never had more than a sniffle, never been hurt more than a little bruise on the forehead from learning to walk, never given me more than the average sleeplessness or worry.   I am so blessed.   The last thing I want to do is miss a second of his precious life by wishing there was another one on the way.   I want to enjoy every bit of this perfect, tiny miracle.

We’re going to get his first haircut tomorrow.   I took him to get some pictures made today for his birthday.   We have a pile of presents on the dining room table (mostly wrapped up old TV remotes and cell phones… hey – you gotta give the kid what he really wants!).   I think I’ll make pancakes  sprinkled with  cheerios for our breakfast tomorrow.   And a cake that looks like a giant cheerio.   And take lots of pictures.   Kenny will only be ONE once!

Casey just asked what I was writing about, and I said, “I want to have another kid.”   His eyebrows shot up, and he ran out of the room.   Was it something I said?   Maybe I’d better wrap this up…

But first, thank you to all who emailed and commented on yesterday’s post.   It was so heartening to hear so many who think the same thoughts, struggle with the same things and dream the same dreams.   We need to encourage each other to give this art of mothering our all, while still remaining the whole people we were created to be!  

Here’s to truly being who we are  ~ all that we are.


I Am Who I Was Before

September 7th, 2006

I’ve been a little introspective today.  

This morning, Casey and I took the boys (meaning Kenny and Dudley… Dudley is the weimaraner, for any new readers out there… Kenny is the only real  child in the house…   so far) down to the Naval Academy (which is not at all close to our house) for a walk.   Back in the day (that is, the days when I was single, ran 5 or 6 miles every morning and actually folded the laundry that came out of the dryer when it buzzed) I ran there most mornings.   I usually timed my run so that I rounded a certain corner on mile four at the same moment the sun crested over the water.   (This was tricky, assuming that the earth’s rotation and the seasons make the sun rise at a slightly different time each day, but I was pretty good at catching it in the  autumn and spring.)   But all this pretty prose and over-use of parathesis are merely to state that my life is a little different now than it was then.

I have to admit that I got a little melancholy as we walked past that corner of the sea wall (only we were on mile one… let’s just say we took the shorter route…).   The sun had long since risen, but the view was as gorgeous as ever.   I started thinking about who I was before I got married and had Kenny.   Rather, I should say, what I did before I got married and had Kenny.   I’m still that same woman, aren’t I?   Just because I groggily wake up to the sounds of “MAAAAAAMAAAAAA!” at obscenely early hours, instead of purposefully waking up at obscenely early hours to run obscenely long distances before going to work, doesn’t mean that I’ve lost a precious piece of me, does it?  

In that introspective and melancholy state, I took a long hard look in the mirror today.   I took in the wiggly skin around my middle, the lack of muscle on my legs, the odd tan lines from walking every morning behind a stroller and next to a dog (truly – only one side of one leg is tanned) and the new lines around my eyes and on my forehead.   I started to sigh, but then I heard a little peep…   Kenny was trying to play peek-a-boo with Dudley, and flashing an impish smile at me, as if to say, “Don’t tell Dudley where I’m hiding!”

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  So I took another look at myself in the mirror.    Would  I trade one second of this past year for  all I had in those free, simple and in-shape  single days?   Not on your life!   But that got me thinking even deeper.    Am I really layering onto my personality, or am I sacrificing some qualities and traits for the sake of new ones?    Am I losing sight of all that I am  and have been,  in exchange for this life as a wife and mom?  

I am still a runner… I just haven’t made the effort to be disciplined about it.   I am still a singer and an actress, I’ve just been lazy about doing it, using the excuse that I’m just too busy with Kenny to get involved.   I am still an interesting friend, I’ve just put off getting together with girlfriends because I feel obligated to focus on my relationship with Casey when Kenny is asleep, instead of going out to a “girl’s night.”

It’s hard to write what I just did, because I know that the reasons I haven’t kept up with those things started from a pure motivation.   Kenny takes up a lot of time (news flash, right?), and when he is asleep, I feel like it’s finally time for Casey and I to spend those precious and few hours together.   But tonight, he is off at Starbucks doing some work (home is too distracting… another news flash!), and I am here with sleeping boy and dog, after eating way too much ice cream (now what am I blaming the flabby abs on??), contemplating the fact that I haven’t gone out ONCE with girlfriends since Kenny was born.   I’ve gone out with Casey.   I’ve gone out alone (thanks to a few trips to the spa from Casey).   I’m not complaining; it’s more of a revelation of sorts.   A realization that I need to continue to cultivate who I am as a whole, not just who I am as a wife and mom.   I need friends who I don’t see only at a playgroup or at church, but who I can be girly and giggle with.   I need a day of shopping with another female who will talk me into the slightly racy dress or really impractical shoes.

I need to remember to be who I was before.

That’s all part of this story, isn’t it?   What kind of wife and mom will I be if all I do is be a wife and mom?    I owe it to Casey and Kenny to get out there and still be me.   Now the only challenge will  be…  how.   Any words of wisdom out there?  

It’s Not Easy Being Grey

September 6th, 2006

Yesterday was a tough day for those of us who stay at home here.   Come to think of it, it was tough for the hard-workin’ man who had to come home to  a cranky kid, a horribly cranky Mamma and a dog who was seconds away from being bonked over the head with a frying pan by that horribly cranky Mamma.  

You see, there was a monsoon going on outside.   Dudley won’t go outside in a drizzle, much less a downpour, and I don’t  even think he did his morning  pee  until about noon.   I wouldn’t know, because Kenny and I left the house at 10 to meet my sister and I left him to his “I really gotta go” tap dancing and access to the soggy dog door.

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When we returned a few hours later, Dudley was a wreck.   A whirling dervish.   A destroyer of all things sweet and cute and Kenny’s.   A rammer of noses into crotches.   A pirate of contents of purses and trashcans.   And that was all just the first ten minutes after we arrived at the door.

Needless to say, this frustrated me, which made me frustrated that No Nap Joe didn’t want to take a nap, much less spend 20 seconds alone in his playpen so that I could use the bathroom by myself, which made him frustrated with me for being red-faced and snappy, which made Dudley frustrated at me and Kenny for being loud and antsy, which made him do backflips and paw all the cushions off the couch, which enraged me because they landed within inches of Kenny’s precious cranium and endangered his drunken-sailor walking, which confused Kenny because it looked like a kind-of fun obstacle course, Mommy!, which encouraged Dudley into bumping Kenny over and jumping into his pile of leggos, which made Kenny really angry, which made me…

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Oh, you know where I’m going with all this.   By the time Casey got home, I was a commercial for remaining a Mommy to an only child who may not grow up with a dog after all.

This morning dawned rain-free, and all was once again right with the household.   Besides, this morning Kenny and I attended our very first MOPS meeting!   (www.mops.org)   My sister is the coordinator for a new chapter in our area, and I am on the steering team.   I had no idea what to expect, but it was fantastic.   Just the part about turning Kenny over to a warm, capable nursery care-giver (ok, it was my Mom) in a safe environment with other kiddos his age for two hours while I ate Krispe Kreme donuts and talked baby-free with other Moms was gratifying enough for me.   When I picked Kenny up, he was happy, hungry and exhausted.   After some warm milk in the church nursing room, he was asleep in the car before we left the parking lot.  

I was scheduled for an oil change, so we drove leisurely to the dealership while Kenny slept.   Once inside the waiting room, where we happened to be the only customers, Kenny was thrilled to find a whole alcove full of toys and books.   He toddled all over, kicking a ball as he went, then found a little push car like we have at home.   Then it was Mario Andretti in miniature… he zoomed all over the show room, the parts department, the waiting  room, the reception area  and back again, circle after circle.    Did I mention we were the only customers there?   The employees were entertained, Kenny was happy and I was relieved that  an oil change  only takes an hour.  

When we got home, happy and tired, Dudley was equally happy and tired, as he must have spent the bulk of the day playing outside in the sun.   We all went for a walk, Kenny in the backpack, Dudley strutting like his usual self again.   And as if the day couldn’t get any better, within minutes of returning home, Casey pulled into the garage to surprise us.   That was the best part of the day.   Kenny was thrilled to see DA DA! and I was as flustered as a schoolgirl at the unexpected arrival of my handsome man.

Now, bellies full of fish tacos and crab nachos, Kenny is sleeping soundly, and  Casey and I are each writing and relaxing after savoring some well-deserved wine on the back porch.  

Dudley is sprawled peacefully on the floor, grateful that the rain went away, and all of his family is back to normal.


September 4th, 2006

I don’t think I’ve mentioned it in any of my posts so far, but due to the fact that Casey and I were not expecting to have a baby so soon when we rennovated the house that we live in, Kenny actually sleeps in an alcove of Casey’s office, so that we can all be on the same floor.   Oh, he has a room… it’s just on the other side of the house, as far away as it could be without trying.   So I keep finding myself writing while he’s asleep at night, with only a folding screen to separate us.   (I think I type really loud.   I always hear him shift and sigh while I’m writing.)  

But today we met with a builder to talk about doing another rennovation that would rearrange the living, sleeping and working situations.   This new adventure (which we swore, after the last contruction FIASCO that we would never again attempt in this lifetime) will hopefully leave us with a room for Kenny right down the hall from us before he starts sleeping in a big boy bed, or at least before he leaves for college.

Until then, I’m afraid that the pitter-patter of Mommy’s typing fingers will pepper his sleep, and in addition to our ritual “Goodnight Dudley; Goodnight water, Goodnight boats, Goodnight ducks  (looking out the window); Goodnight outside (closing the curtains); Goodnight teddy; Bedtime for Baby!”   There will have to remain, for a little longer, “Goodnight computer…   Goodnight printer…   Goodnight bills that are still sitting on the desk that Mommy keeps forgetting to open…   Goodnight fax that Mommy still hasn’t sent to the pet insurance people from Dudley’s last unexpected visit…   Goodnight…”  

At least we can be thankful that his crib isn’t parked in the laundry room.   It would take hours to say goodnight.

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September 3rd, 2006

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Today we celebrated Kenny’s First Birthday (even though it’s not until next Saturday) with some close friends, family, several bottles of wine and lots of fun hors d’oeuvres and oysters.   Kenny was charming to the hilt.   In fact, the only time he cried was when we tried to get him to eat birthday cake.   Go figure.

He was thrilled to have doting grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins and neighbors all vying for his attentions, and all delighted to watch his antics and applaud him on.   I think the only thing that could have made it better for him would have been if we let him put a saddle on Dudley and go for a birthday ride!   He ran around the deck with his little push-car for over an hour, laughing and singing “DA DA DAAAAAAAAAAAA!” like a mini punk rocker.   He  played  “hey, let’s dump  everything in my room  including the diapers  onto the floor”  with his cousins.   He ate corn on the cob until he was exhausted from the shear effort required and then relaxed in various pairs of arms until it was time for goodnight kisses.   And then he fell asleep so quickly in the rocking chair with me that  I needed to wake him up to finish nursing.   I think we can call the party a success!

We really did it for us, of course.   Oh sure, all the adults had to eat off of jungle animal plates, but I did bring out the real crystal wine glasses, and there were no life-sized characters singing songs or piles of presents to be ripped though.   We had the party to celebrate this precious year we’ve just lived through.   To celebrate this little life that we have the awesome honor of raising up, and to honor all of those who have stood by us and helped us along the way.   Kenny was just happy to have people watching him, clapping for him, and letting him get away with running around like a little rascal for a few hours.   He knew that something special was in the air, but most important, he knew that everyone there really loved him.   He doesn’t care about toys or decorated cakes; all he wants is for people to pay attention to him, to hug him and to sing his crazy songs right along with him.

It was a great day.   Next week, we’ll do something quiet, he, Casey and I.   We’ll spend the whole day playing in the floor, going for walks, tickling and singing silly songs.   We’ll all eat Cheerios for all three meals  and maybe read “Swim Duck, Swim!” 40 times in a row, with no stiffled yawns or lack of enthusiasm.   I can’t believe how fast this year has gone.   I can’t believe my little boy is walking, and starting to talk, and starting to act up on purpose to get a laugh.   I can’t believe we’re going to have to give him a haircut.   I can’t believe how this one tiny guy has changed my life so much – and to so much greater good than I ever expected.

Here’s to you, kiddo.   You’re the best present there ever was.   My sweetest little guy is turning ONE!


PS:   Thanks for the emails and comments on our bathtime dramas.   I think we are going to try one of the toddler seats.   Otherwise, we may move to “showers with Daddy!”


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