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I Laaa Vu!

April 30th, 2007

There is nothing sweeter than hearing someone say sinerely, “I love you!” Kenny, for all of his verbal skills, had yet, until today, initiate that phrase. He would repeat it, but for some reason, he always whispered it, as if it was a phrase too grown-up for him to say out loud.

While we were out on our walk today, I was on a marathon of silly songs at his demand, and included one that I have rarely sung, with the words, “I love you” repeated at the end of each line. Four hours later, while we were eating lunch, Kenny suddenly looked up and shouted, “I Laaaa VU!” Then he sang a couple of the lines from the song to me. I was flabergasted! He’s sung little bits of songs before, mainly “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” and “The Itsy Bitsy Spider,” but those are songs he hears at least several times a day. This one was fairly new, yet he caught on right away to the fact that he was able to sing “I love you” and see me beam back at him.

He is also starting to chime in on his bedtime prayers. If we say his “Now I lay me” slowly enough, he will repeat each line, sometimes saying the next line in the pause. We also say The Lord’s Prayer, and he has started to say many of the lines along with us, always excited to shout out “…and the Glory forever!” only his sounds more like, “an da Ga-LOW-ree ever!”

His speaking skills are not without their challenges, though. As he gets more and more used to me understanding what he’s telling me, when there is a word he says that I don’t get, it leads to much frustration. (See Milaka’s comment from a few posts ago for a sweet story on that!) Most of the time, I don’t get it because he’s throwing something out there that’s completely out of context. For example, in the car today, he kept yelling “Mommy Plash!” and I racked my brain, until I realized that he was telling me that he wanted me to go into the pool with him and splash the water. Once I caught on, he was all excitement and puffed up and eager for Daddy to get home so that we could go swiming.

In the meantime, I think I could teach a course on toddler linguistics after listening to this kid talk nonstop day after day. I wonder where he gets the chatterbox gene from??

101 In the Shade

April 30th, 2007

Ok, it was only 96 today, but we suddenly realize why every backyard in Arizona has a pool!

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I don’t know if it’s the heat, or just Kenny’s sudden grasp of detailed communication, but today he actually asked to take a nap after church, and told us exactly what kind of ritual he would like us to escort him through, in order to get him in the mood. Yes, this is the kid formerly known as “No nap Joe.” The one that didn’t nap for the first fourteen months of his life. And the one that even now only naps in the stroller, for one hour and even then he has to have lunch, run a few laps around the house, then be strapped into his stroller at the precise moment he starts to feel sleepy, or it doesn’t happen. But today in the car, he started talking his way through his nighttime routine, and we suddenly realized that he wanted to do it right now. We obliged, and he napped for two and a half hours. We almost didn’t know what to do with ourselves.

I think, too, that our little household is finally climbing our way back to normal. I can lift Kenny again (finally!), the swelling in my belly is nearly gone (I actually donned a bathing suit and got into the pool myself), Kenny is healthy and once again secure enough to go to sleep by himself, and Casey is at last able to go to work and not worry about impending illness or disaster at home. Even Dudley is back to his old happy-to-lick-his-privates-in-public self, now that we have returned to our regular walking and recreation schedule.

I don’t feel the same, though. I’m taking less for granted, and at the same time more eager to go out on a limb than I was before. I am finding that many of my hangups are disolving and that I’m thinking more about things beyond myself. I feel a little older somehow. And oddly enough, I’m not nearly as entranced by things like fancy houses and handbags as I was before. Some friends of ours who have a five year-old son and three month-old twins invited us over for dinner last night, and after we’d said our hellos, the hostess started laughing and said, “Ok, I didn’t have time to plan anything for dinner, but we wanted to hang out with you guys! Do you mind if we order pizza?” It was the sweetest, most transparent moment I’ve seen in a long while. It was gutsy, too. I am an eager, yet anxious hostess. I want everything to be perfect. But these friends were more concerned with fellowshipping with us than showing off their new house, or their entertaining skills. It was a beautiful lesson. And we had a wonderful time.

I think I’m going to try and work less at being “perfect” and try harder to work at being kind, generous and loving. We have seen nothing but fearless love from all of our friends in the last six weeks, and I think, if nothing else, that is the lovely thing I can take with me.

Lost in Translation

April 28th, 2007

I have written several posts now about Kenny’s speaking ability; he has a great ear to hear and retain words, and has quickly learned to speak in simple sentences, ask questions, and tell me, in detail, what he wants. It’s pretty remarkable, and I am constantly surprised by what comes out of his mouth.

It’s facinating that Kenny has discovered delight in speaking with us. Not only does it expedite things he likes (like when he makes a lunch request and I make it for him), but it has avoided frustrations and meltdowns, because he is understanding how to explain how he feels and what he wants to do. We don’t always do it, but it helps that we can acknowledge what he’s saying, and then explain a yes or no to his demands.

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My favorite are the words that he says with a slight toddler-accent: bulldozer becomes “bowl-dosher,” lotion is “low-shin,” open sounds more like “Omp!” and stroller is “stwow-ler”.” But one caught us by surprise a week or so ago. I had been telling Casey a story about our day and after recounting a clever solution I had for one of Kenny’s issues, Casey said, “Mommy’s smart!” To which Kenny replied, with gusto, “Mommy FARTS!” You can only imagine how long that went on. We had “Mommy really farts!” and “Mommy farts all day!” and still Casey and Kenny went back and forth with seemingly endless alterations.

Within a week, though, Kenny caught on that he was saying something that made Daddy cackle and Mommy roll her eyes, and he now tries very hard to pronounce the “s” in the word “smart.”

In other news, my Mom left this morning after staying with us for the past week to help me out with Kenny, since I am still restricted in lifting him, and in doing certain activities. We had a blast together, and my Mom was a great sport in changing diapers, taking out the trash and most of all in loving Kenny so that I could get some rest. My ab muscles are nearly recovered, so I should be back to normal next week, if not yet able to really work out for a little while longer. It’s amazing what several weeks of not using your abdominal muscles at all does to your stomach. Mine was a little out of shape to begin with, but now it is way too wiggly. All in good time, right? That, or time to get pregnant again…

Late Night Chat

April 24th, 2007

No, nothing racy. Just an actual recap of tonight’s bedtime transcript: (as intercepted while I stood outside Kenny’s door as he was falling asleep)…

“… Hi! Hi-eee! Music? Dance. Buttons, dance! Baa, dance! Kenny! eeeeeeeeeeee…. oh, dizzy. No dizzy. Fa-down. Oh no! Kenny fa-down! Doo’ op-pen. Op-pen. Dinner. Pink fish. Sauce. Dinner-time! Dada? Mama? Kenny-booboo! Juice. Waler. Wa-TER. Wa-TER! Baaaa… Moooo…. Dada? Blan-ked. Ahhhhhh… nigh-nigh Kenny! Mama? Kenny eat ‘pah-getti. Tooties. Choc-late chip tooties! Holy Moly. Kenny Holy Moly! Ha ha ha ha. Papa! Ha ha ha… Moly moly! ahhhhhhh….”

I fear the day when the big boy bed is introduced… Is there a way to tie kids in there so that they can’t escape?

Seriously, we’re getting close to time for a real bed. Any suggestions out there as to getting a rambunctious little rascal to actually sleep in a big bed?

Olympic Training Starts Young

April 23rd, 2007

Today Kenny, all two and a half feet of him, was able to climb out of his carseat and slide down out of our gigantic Hummer3 with barely an assist from me. You see, I am still under promise not to lift him and I had a Bible study class I really wanted to go to this morning, and it all rested on whether or not we could get in and out of the car without tearing any more of my fragile abdominal muscles.

And not only was my little athlete able to get himself out of the car with minimal assistance, but he held hands tightly and walked all the way across the parking lot, into the church and down the hall to his classroom like a little man on parade. I could tell that he was genuinely proud of himself with the trust I placed in him. And as wonders never cease, when we got to his classroom (where there are usually a few sniffles and final attempts to convince me not to leave him), he marched right in and yelled, “Play!” and then remembered to glance back at me and smile and wave bye-bye. It was so perfect, I almost couldn’t believe it. And the fact that I was able to sit in a circle of sweet friends and listen and talk and share was exactly what I needed this morning. Sitting there, I could feel some of the weariness slide away and my mind quiet down a little.

By the time we got home (and after Kenny’s most impressive vault into the gargantuan vehicle), had lunch and left for our walk, I actually felt as peaceful as I have in a long time. I even caught myself spontaneously smiling a few times. I even found myself daydreaming about going home to Maryland and seeing the herons on our dock and the ducks in the yard and watching the fish jump as the sun sets.

So I’ll count today a triumph, and look forward to tomorrow in the hope that this little family is on our way back to the precious state of normal. Thank God for friends, for my adaptable little olympian and for moments when I know that everything is ok.

Finding Normal

April 22nd, 2007

I am so ready for things to get back to “normal.” The mere fact that my 19-month-old sweetheart now says the following makes my heart ache: “Mama hold you! No….. Mama owies. Daddy home hold you!” Traslation : he wants me to pick him up, but knows, even as he’s asking, that I still can’t, and also knows that as soon as Daddy gets home, he will pick him up and hold him. He also now points to the freezer and says, “Mama peas on owies!” because I am still icing my torn abdominal incision every hour or so with a big bag of frozen peas.

None of this, however, has deterred his exuberant spirit…

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This morning in church, there was a moment during silent prayer that I started to loose it. I started crying and I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to stop. We have been through so much, so close together, that I can’t even process it all. I can’t get my mind wrapped around one thing, because the next thing happens. I can’t grieve the things we’ve been through because we’ve been too busy dealing with the next thing that comes along. I am just tired of all this… I want to have the brain space to contemplate what’s for dinner or time to mop the floor, instead of time to ice incisions, fret over each mosquite bite that Kenny gets and see hospital statement after statement as they start arriving in the mail.

I want to write about Kenny’s hysterical antics and Dudley’s rascally escapades again. I want to express days of happiness, yet I feel like I am getting too bogged down to laugh at the little things. I guess I just need to work at reclaiming my small everyday joys. Maybe there is a time to forget the big picture and just focus on the little triumphs as they come. Maybe one day I’ll look back on these past two months and scarcely believe that it all happened. Maybe I’ll get to a point where it’s faded to something I can barely remember.

In the meantime, I will just have to rest in the love of my family and know that God has all this in His hands, and no matter how dreary things look in the present, He has all of this divinely planted into His big picture.

A Perfectly Timed Miracle

April 19th, 2007

In spite of following the doctor’s orders to a T, it seems like my abdominal tear has gotten worse instead of better. After talking to the surgeon on the phone today, I am scheduled for another exam tomorrow.

The glitch is that tomorrow is the first time in all of our cummulative family illness that Casey just can’t take off work to take me (and Kenny) to the doctor. I still can’t pick Kenny up, so there’s no way I could bring him with me. The only solution seemed to be calling one of my stay-at-home mom friends to see if they could watch Kenny for the few hours I would be gone.

I called one after another, and they were so sweet, but totally unable to help out. There was one gal who I purposely didn’t call: she’s seven months pregnant, with two and four year old boys, who has been having some complications. As I exhausted my list, I actually got down on my knees to pray in front of the MOPS roster, looking at women who were mere aquaintences, and praying for wisdom of what to do. While I was praying, my cell phone rang. I looked up in annoyance; I was praying, I needed to concentrate on praying, for goodness sake! I checked to see who was calling, and it was the pregnant friend I just mentioned. I answered, as she had been to the ER the night before, to see how she was doing. After talking for fifteen minutes or so, and after finding out that she was perfectly fine and no longer “high risk,” she asked how I was healing from the surgery.

I faltered a little, then confessed that I wasn’t doing so hot, and was due back at the surgeon’s office tomorrow. Before I could mention my child-care challenge, she said, “Well, why don’t I pick you and Kenny up and take you? I’ll put the boys in the car with a movie on the DVD player and we’ll sit in the parking lot while you see the doctor.” I was silent for a minute. “Are you sure?” I asked, a little shaken by the offer. “Absolutely! I can rest and the little guys will be entertained! I’ll pick you up at 10:30.” That was when I told her that when the phone rang, I was on my knees praying for help. “Ha!” she said, “I’m your help!”



I Promise, This is the Last Post of Woe…

April 19th, 2007

Ok, Kenny’s morph into the human jello trick got to me more than I let on.   Actually, he did it again yesterday (at the post office) and then (at the mall) and finally (trying to get back into the car at the mall), and my fragile abdominal stiches went *POP* and suddenly Mommy has more woes on her mind than just a toddler tantrum.

I awoke this morning to an alarming and horribly painful bulge just below my stiched up navel, and, after typing my symptoms in at WebMD, called my surgeon, certain that I had popped a hernia.   He saw me right away (he’s a saint) and immediately reassured me that it was “only” a ripped abdominal muscle at the point of the incision.   And “all” I have to do is not pick Kenny up for another week (or lift anything heavier than a milk jug) or drive anywhere for a few days.


Waaaaaaaaah.   One step forward, two steps back.   My little abs are still protruding (it looks like someone slipped a golf ball under my belly button), and Kenny is like, “Hold you, Mama!” and I’m thinking, seven days… no plopping Kenny into the car seat for an excursion, much less lifting him into his highchair, or bathing him, or… swopping him up in a wild high bear hug??  

So enough of these wails of defeat.   Things have to be going uphill now.   I declare that our family is officially on the mend.   Kenny, at least, is back to normal:



Attack of the 25 Pound Puddle

April 16th, 2007

Kenny has officially learned to turn his tough, wiry little body into a gelatinous mass of screaming toddler mayhem.

He had a check up at the doctor’s today, to ensure that the Staph infection is completely gone, and on the way home, we stopped at Barnes and Noble to buy a new book for me  and a gift for a friend.   I didn’t have the stroller with me, and I’m still not really supposed to be carrying Kenny around (yeah, that translates to I’m still carrying him as much as I ever did, just with more pain in my still-healing incisions), but he’s pretty good for a short visit to a store with staying close, holding my hand and being my little shaddow.   Not today.

Within a minute of standing in the fiction and literature section, Kenny squatted and grunted out a loud and smelly poop.   Oops… the diapers were in the car… well, I thought mistakenly, we’ll only be a minute.   My  next mistake was to actually read a few book jackets as I was making my selection.   (Rule number one when shopping with a toddler explictly states that Thou Shall only grab whatever you see first and bolt to the cash register.   No comparison shopping allowed.   Especially when there is an unchanged poopy diaper involved.)   While I was scanning jacket blurbs, Kenny took his tiny yet determined little arm and cleared off the bottom shelf in one swipe.   As I leaned down to start cleaning up the mess, he started taking each one off the shelf as I put it back and throwing it as far as he could into the aisle.   Now Kenny loves to “help” so I told him to help me put all the books back.  

He actually stomped his foot and said, “NO, MAMA.”   I was shocked, as nothing like that has ever happened before.   Ok, he’s whined the word “no” when he’s tired of eating green beans, but nothing so deliberate.   Then, the kicker: he smiled at me.   He smiled, turned back to the shelf and started flinging books again!   Ack!

I grabbed his shirt collar, put all the books back in one swoop, and bent down to pick him up and get out of there.   That’s when he defied physics, and literally melted into the floor.   His arms became jello sticks, his spine like pudding and his legs like bricks.   No matter how I tried, I couldn’t get a grip on him.   Then he started kicking and howling.   Old ladies started glaring at me and the store clerk rolled her eyes.   I steeled myself and grabbed him by the back of his shorts and the extra material on his shirt and hauled his little hiney out of there.   Except that I stopped at the register first to pay for my book.

Once we were out of the store, he was all charm and sweetness.   I changed his diaper in the back bed of the Hummer (I’m sure it was quite a sight) and we went home.   The little tiger was dead asleep by six tonight.   I think I’m right behind him.

I Wish Kenny Was Old Enough To Remember This…

April 15th, 2007

As I have mentioned in previous posts, we are living in Scottsdale, Arizona for four months, though we live for most of the year in Maryland.   As temporary transplants, my husband’s company secures our houseing and they are generous enough to rent cars for us for the duration of Casey’s work here.   When we got here in January, we started out with a Jeep Grand Cherokee for me (functional and decent, though not as nice as the 4-Runner I drive at home), and an awesome Audi A4 convertible for Casey.   (They were part of a  great deal he got  from the rental company.)   Since we’ve been here nearly three months, though, it was time to trade them in.   We said goodbye to the fantastic Audi (my Saturday grocery-getter), and even Dudley paid his dues:

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But the melancholy quickly evaporated when they told us what the replacement Mommy car was going to be…

 april 15 007.jpg     …Yes, Kenny’s car seat is now firmly attached inside a HUMMER.   Here is a picture of our newly rented car outside of our rented house…

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Stylin’.   Too bad ninteen-month-old Kenny has no idea how so cool his mom is right now….  

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In other Arizona news, we’ve had a wacky weekend of trying to figure out how to balance Casey’s work out here, our home in Maryland, and where it would be best for our family to be living for the next year or so.   For about 24 hours it looked like we were going to stay right here until spring of 2008, but it looks like instead that we will continue to live here until June, then go back to Maryland  to enjoy  the fun summer months on the water, then return to Arizona for four or five months starting in October. We are the world’s youngest snowbirds.

Seriously, though, while it would make the most sense for us to stay out here the whole time, we started getting wistful about the blue herons who nest under our dock in June, and the summer nights in downtown Annapolis eating ice cream cones, and the sunrise on the water in the summer, watching the steam rise from the water in the cool morning air.   And we started thinking about 115 degree days in the desert and trying to take Dudley for walks at 4 am.   And that pretty much cinched it.

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