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Happy Birthday Cooper!

June 29th, 2009


Today my baby turns one!!   What a year it has been, my sweet little Cooper.   You are a party wherever you go!  

Yesterday we had a party for the Cooper man – seven families came to our house to celebrate our little circus.   There was fishing, kayaking and lots and lots of FOOD (Cooper’s favorite part).   Watching him contemplate the birthday cake was all the entertainment we needed.   At first he wasn’t sure if we really meant for him to dive in, but once he realized that it was fair game, dive in he did!  


He literally ate until he couldn’t eat another bite, then rubbed his eyes and pointed up, as if to say, “Enough festivities… it’s bedtime!”   I took him up and put him to bed and the party continued for another hour and a half.   Rock on.



Aside from marathon cake eating, Cooper took his first steps on Saturday!   We were having crabs for dinner on the deck with Casey’s parents, when out of nowhere, Cooper let go of the chair he was holding onto and walked ten steps before plopping amicably on his bum.   He has yet to repeat the feat (aside from a step or two here and there) but it won’t be long now!


Happy Birthday to Me!

June 25th, 2009

And to MommyBlog!   I am 35 and this blog is now three years old.   Time flies, eh?

I wanted to write something poignant, misty-eyed and reflective, but maybe I’ll save that for a Happy Birthday post to Cooper in four days…

It was a good day… a great one, actually!   I woke up to coffee and presents in bed, then Dudley and I  went for a run.    Later on my parents came over to give me a present (I LOVE it!!) and watch the boys so I could go meet Casey for lunch in the city.   I hired a cleaning lady to come over (a birthday present to myself!   We are having a big party for Coop on Sunday, and Casey’s parents are coming to stay for the week; stressing about cleaning the house was the last thing I needed right now…), and I came home from lunch to a sparkling house, a napping Cooper and a happy Kenny, who was being doted on and indulged by his Grammy and Grampy.   For dinner we had burgers on the grill and sat outside on the deck, gazing at the water and eating a Carvel ice cream cake, then I headed off to my church band practice.   I took the convertible and for once I was glad that our drive to church is a long haul.

What a year this has been.   This time last year I was 39 1/2 weeks pregnant.   This year has gone so fast… now my baby is about to turn one!   It seems like a blur.   I spent some time and re-read some of the posts from this year, and I was overcome with how glad I am that I have a blog.   I was never very good at journals or diaries, but the blogging thing fits.   What a hoot this will be for Kenny and Cooper one day.

Speaking of Kenny and Cooper, I was thinking the other day about “mommy blogging” and the children we write about.   Can’t you just imagine that 20 years down the road there are going to be group therapy sessions for “Recovering Children of Mommy Bloggers?”   Just kidding…

Series Finale

June 23rd, 2009

Cooper is officially weaned.   This is not the dramatic statement it was when I was finally able to say that Kenny was weaned.   Kenny would have nursed round the clock until he was in grade school, if I had let him.   In fact, at Kenny’s 1 year check up, the doctor gently told me that I should really start pushing solid food before nursing him, instead of after, or he was never going to learn to eat.   The kid loved Mama Milk, and I had plenty to share, what can I say?   I finally got him to kick the habit when he was 14 and a half months old; we were on vacation with my in-laws, and they provided distraction enough (and sweets enough!) to make it through the process.

Different story with Cooper.   I just didn’t have the same milk supply this time around.   At 5 months I had to start giving him a bottle of formula at bedtime, because there just wasn’t anything there by the end of the day.   Once he hit nine months and started his love affair with any and all foods I offered him, his nursing went down to first thing in the morning, and right before morning nap.   Then for this past month, it’s only been a little comfort nursing right before his nap, and then suddenly, four days ago, he was done.   There was just nothing there to give him.   Fortunately he’s such a good eater that he hardly seemed to notice.

Until last night.   For some reason at bedtime, he decided that he wanted to nurse.   He started to wail and cry, “Mamam-mil!   Mamam-mil!”   I dissolved into tears of my own.   It’s such a sense of loss when the nursing is over.   And and even greater loss when this time around, it wasn’t necessarily because I was ready, but rather because my body was just through.   And at that moment, I felt like a failure as a mother.

I have read a bit about the shift in hormones that your body goes through when you cease lactation, and I’ve got to admit that I’ve felt far worse this week than any post-partum hormones I may have gone through.   I’ve felt inadequate, humiliated, embarrassed and  self-conscious.   Extreme emotions, I know, but most stemming from the fact that I just wasn’t as good at nursing Cooper as I was with Kenny.   I felt often like my body was betraying me; that I wasn’t even able to keep up with what I was biologically created to do.

I have also been very sad in the last few days over the babies that we lost to miscarriages nearly two years ago.   Partly because I’m coming up on the anniversary of my second miscarriage, and  partly because I’m turning 35 on Thursday.   For whatever reason, 35 is that magic number that the OB world decided was the beginning of the “high-risk” phase of fertility.   It’s the point where your chances of conceiving go down, and chances of miscarriage (and of problems with  the baby) go up.   Casey and I do want another baby, but I suddenly feel the *tick*tock* of the body clock getting louder.    

Sorry to be such a downer tonight.   I promise to think of something funny to write tomorrow.

Literacy, Literally

June 18th, 2009

While I was picking up the house a bit this morning, carrying Cooper on my hip, Kenny walked over to the bookshelf and got down a stack of especially large Tom Clancy hardbacks from the shelves and plopped them down on the couch.

“What are you doing?”

“I’m reading!”

“Oh.   Ok.   Carry on, then,” I said and walked into the office with Cooper to check some emails.   I heard Kenny open a book and begin to “read” aloud.   At first I couldn’t make out what he was saying, but then realized that he was piecing together, rather comically, random sentences and phrases from recent books we have read.   And then I heard (in a dramatic, nearly Charlton Heston-esque, boom):

“….And Then Jesus Rose from the Dead.   And Then He Said, ‘Ta Da!”


June 16th, 2009

Cooper is a brute of a kid.   He’s not chunky in the least – he’s one solid hunk of love and energy, pushing 24 pounds.   The kid can eat more than me when he sets his mind to it, and then burns it off so fast I often find him trying to climb back into his high chair an hour after breakfast.

He’s totally a little brother, too.   Kenny and Dudley are the objects of his intense affection, while Casey and I are the comforters and the ones with the food.   It hadn’t struck me what a tough guy he was, though, until yesterday when we entered the realm of Rolly Pollie.

Rolly Pollie is the kids gymnastic center we’ve been going to since Kenny was a baby.   Kenny has been doing it since before he could walk and is a veritable poster child for fearless acrobatics.   He knows all the teachers by name and can conquer just about any obstacle course they put in his path.   By sheer necessity, Cooper has been attending the three-year-old class for a year now, originally content to watch from the confines of the front pack, but lately pretty adamant about getting on the floor and following the Big Kids around.   Tomorrow for the first time, Kenny will start in a class without me… it’s a two hour session that combines ages three to five and Kenny is barely able to contain his excitement.   I’m sure that there will be a moment of panic tomorrow when I actually leave, but I know that he will do great.

But back to Cooper.

Since Kenny will have a parent-free class from now on, I decided that it was high time to enroll The Coop into a class of his own.   My options were “6 months to walking” or “Walking to 23 months.”   Though I think he’ll probably start walking in the next month or so, I figured that the little baby class would be best – I didn’t want him getting bulldozed by a nearly two-year-old.   He gets enough bulldozing at home.  

So we arrived on Monday evening at 5 for Cooper’s First Class.   I brought a backpack full of things to keep Kenny occupied for the 45 minutes and we settled in to give it a go.   So did 25 other babies and their parents.   Because it was an intro, it was way over-booked, and we could barely all squeeze into the “welcome circle.”   We were instructed to set our sweet things into our laps as we went around the circle and sang a song with each baby’s name (and Mommy’s name) in it.   I sat Cooper in my lap as we began, and he tore out and crawled at breakneck speed to the opposite side of the circle and whapped at little girl on the head.

“Cooper!” I yelled, as the other Mommies sang, “Hello to Jack with his Mommy Lin-da!” and the mother of the unfortunate whapp-ie began to coddle her daughter and glare at Cooper.   Cooper waved happily as I scooped him up and returned sheepishly to our side of the room.   He sat for 4 seconds and was off again.   I grabbed him and grabbed a foam block for him to hold.   He bit off a piece and chewed it thoughtfully before winging it aside and crawling to the teacher and trying to grab the puppet out of her hand.   We finally got through the song and the teacher “released” us to try out the different sections of the gym.   “Mama?” Kenny shouted.     I ran over with Cooper in arms, “Yes, honey?”   “There’s a big boy playing over there!”   Indeed there was.   Another older sibling was present and rather than sitting in the waiting area, as my angel was doing, this hellion was running reckless through the over-crowed gym, dodging babies and swinging on the trapeze.   “Can I play too?”   Kenny asked, sweetly.

Here is where I should have stuck to my guns.   I should have said no, then tracked down a teacher and said, “Hey-   are the big kids allowed to play, too?   If so, I have a three-year-old who wants to jump on the trampoline.   If not, can you please ask that other little boy to go back to the waiting area?”   But no.   I was already flustered from Cooper’s early antics.   And did I mention that immediately before we came to Rolly Pollie we spent a few hours at the pool?     We were already set up for disaster.

“Sure,” I said, not really happily.   “But if you want to come out, you have to stay with me and play with me and Cooper.”   Yeah.   That worked for about 45 seconds.

Within a minute, Cooper and I were following Kenny around and I brought a quick halt to that.   “Kenny, this is Cooper’s class, not yours.   You have to stay with me and him, or go back and wait.”   At this, Kenny began to wail.   Not just sniffle, but bawl uncontrollably.   Maybe too much time in the sun?   Too close to dinner?  Jealousy?   Whatever.   I started getting stares, and I pinched his arm.   “Stop it!” I hissed, and told him to stay close to us and cut the tears.

Needless to say, Cooper did not have much time in the sun for the remainder of the class.   Oh, we had fun in the moonbounce, fun in the foam pit, fun on the parachute, but somehow the glow was off the playtime for me.    I really wanted Cooper to have the experience of being #1 for once and I felt  like it was snatched from him.  

Afterward, we got in the car and had to catch a late dinner and then drive to pick Casey up at the airport.   I don’t even need to recount going out to dinner with two over-tired, over-emotional, really hungry kids, do I?   Just imagine food flying everywhere and Kenny jumping on his chair and you’re right there with us.

As for Cooper and Rolly Pollie, we’re going to try out the older baby class later in the week.   He was a little past most of the stuff we did last night, and I’m hoping that with a smaller class, and at a different time of the day, Kenny will do better hanging out with his coloring books so that I can just focus on Cooper.   He really is a fantastic kid, and so often he ends up banging blocks together in the corner while I more actively play with Kenny.   I want to be able to engage with Cooper like I did with Kenny when he was one.   I don’t want to miss this sweet little explorer age.

But how do you do it with Number Two??


June 14th, 2009


It’s been a busy week around here… For once, I actually took pictures as each adventure came our way.  

First up: a weeknight Oriole’s game!  


It was nearly rained out, but we survived through a delay and then headed to our seats as the drops stopped and an evening sunset came through.   Cooper met The Bird for the first time…


… and in spite of a momentary frown and sniffle, he decided that he was ok (as long as he didn’t get too close!).   Kenny had an uncharacteristically rough night.   He is usually so happy to be there, but got on a whining streak about just about everything and we left much earlier than we’d planned.     C’est la vie… or at least, la vie avec les enfants, mais oui??

My sister came over the next day with her girls, aka. Kenny’s BFFs…


They had a blast, as usual and entertained each other so well that my sister and I actually had some time to talk!

We had friends over for a dinner party on Friday – six adults and seven kids is a party, right?   Kenny and Casey caught nearly two dozen huge crabs off our dock and we prepared a feast…


We ate and drank and all the kids had a turn in the kayak (except Cooper!) and tried out the fishing poles.   IT was a late night, by the time everyone finally left and Casey and I hosed off the crab debris from the deck and cleaned all the big pots.   I had temporarily forgotten that I was running in a 5K the next morning and, regretting the two (or three?) glasses of wine I’d had, I collapsed in bed close to midnight.

Ah, but it was up and at ’em early Saturday.   Kenny got up early with me to get there to sign in and Casey and Coop arrived just in time for the line up.   I did pretty well, considering the imbibing the night before, and the fact that my uterus was recently stretched to the size of a watermelon and back, and that I’m turning 35 in a few weeks…


My time was 26:30.   Not bad for an old, hung over gal, eh??   Kenny ran in the fun run, and did great, holding his own in the under-6 race…



We drove into town after the race and had giant slices of pizza at the City Dock before heading home in utter exhaustion.   I put Cooper down for a nap as it started to rain.   We unanimously voted for a family movie time and Casey and I were able to blessedly veg on the couch while Kenny sat enraptured with The Tale of Despereaux.   Amen.

Sunday was truly a day of rest.   Church.   Home.   We checked the crab traps and found another four, so we decided to steam them up for lunch.   Casey took Kenny out on the kayak while I put Coop down for a nap and read a novel in the Adirondack on the deck.   It was practically a vacation this afternoon!

Now I’m ready to hit the sack, after finally coaxing two very wound up boys to bed way past bedtime.   It’s so hard to get to bed with the sun setting over the water and the ducks quacking and the fish jumping.   Can you blame them for protesting?

All in all, quite a fine week!

PS – I just noticed that in all these pictures, which do indeed span a week, Kenny is wearing the same Oriole’s jersey!   Yes, I wash it.   Yes, he owns other clothes.   Really.   I swear.

Best of Intentions

June 11th, 2009

Casey and I both love our yard.   We’ve completely redone it over the past five years and are proud of all we’ve accomplished.   When we first moved in, it was way over-landscaped and that was way over-grown, not to mention Hurricane Isabel had just stormed through town and put the entire property under water.   That first summer we were married, I would often spend an entire day pulling seaweed and trash out from inside the bushes.

Though we both love cutting the grass (hey – an hour of white noise = peace and quiet in my book!), last week we talked about hiring a neighborhood kid to do it instead.   With two little rascals and home and a new job, Casey is guarded of the time he spends with them and an hour mowing the lawn on the weekends could be spent fishing on the pier, right?   Anyway, we agreed that he would talk to our next door neighbor, a sweet teenager whom I’ve actually written about here before.    

Oh, we did not know what we were getting into.

First off, he somehow convinced his grandad, John,  to help him (a nice guy in his late-60’s who had a heart attack last year) and they came through the fence with their ancient riding mower.   Ok, our  yard is only a half acre,   and we had told him to use our mower – a decent push mower with great mulching blades.   Anyway, I ran out, Cooper on a hip and shouted, “Hey!   You can use our mower!”   “Nah,” Justin said with a shrug, “This is faster.”   So off he rode, as  John starting doing the edges with a 30 year old push mower.   I looked out the window a few moments later to see his Grandma, Charlotte,  sweeping the driveway.   I crouched down, feeling really… odd about the whole thing.   But it got worse.   Looking up again, I saw his Great-grandma, Sylvia,  on the other side, sweeping the sidewalk.

Let me stop for a moment and deliver a little back-story.   We live in a very unique community.   We are on a peninsula (our house is on the water) and at least half of our neighbors were born here, their parents were born here, and their parents before them.   In fact, this  Sylvia’s  family used to own most of the peninsula, and John and Charlotte actually built the original structure of the house we live in.   Charlotte has raised five children, now grown, and had raised three of her grand kids (Justin is the only one there now) and babysits once a week for her great-grandson.   She is in her mid-50’s.     They are the kind of neighbors who would give you the shirt off their back, who show up with mounds of veggies from their garden all summer, who always keep an eye out in the neighborhood.   Justin has had a rough life – he was born addicted to cocaine and has only had his grandparents to look after him most of his life.     They don’t have much and we hoped that hiring Justin would be an encouragement to him, as he seems pretty lonely, as well as give him a good way to earn some pretty easy money.

Back to today.   I had to run out to buy some dog food, so I went outside with Kenny and Cooper in tow to give Justin his money before we left.   The yard was a wreck – long grass all over the place – including  an inch-thick blanket of it  over the mulch in the flower beds –   mulch  it took us  two weekends to spread  not a month ago.   They’d cut the grass so short it was tangled in clumps all through the yard and there were whole rows of ridges where they’d spaced the mower too much.   I figured, surely they’re not done, don’t freak out yet, right?

Anyway, I’m looking around for Justin, so I stop Charlotte from her rather in-effectual sweeping and ask where he is.   “Oh, he took a break.   He’s probably in there eating ice cream!”   ACK.   Ok.   “Can I give him the money we promised?”   So she went over to get him and he came out, wiping his mouth.   “You took a break?” I said in a teasing tone, “You were only out here a half hour!”   He shrugged.   I handed him the money.   “Thanks,” he said.   I told him to use our mower next time, and that he was welcome to use the blower to get all the grass.   “Thanks,” he said again, and I left.

I came back to disaster.

The yard looked so bad.   Clumps of grass everywhere, tons of missed spots and grass all over the sidewalk and mulch beds.   It looked like someone had used a weed-whacker post-sweep and it was absolutely hideous.   Casey got home from work and just stared.   I offered to get out the blower and try to pile it up so we could bag it.   I worked for 20 minutes without making a dent.   We talked about going to get him and asking him to re-mow it with our mower, at least to shred up the grass, but Casey remembered that he had a ball game tonight.   “I’ll re-do it – they’ll never know…” I said, and Case took the kids inside while I got out the mower.   I looked up.   Dark thunderstorm clouds loomed.   I was not deterred.

I literally ran with the mower and went over the whole yard again, twice in some places, trying to shred the grass.   Then I got the blower and started to blow off the mulch when the rain started and I had to go in.   Casey and I looked at each other and laughed.   At least we had the best of intentions…

Casa Cuckoo

June 9th, 2009

Cooper loves to hide.   Yesterday morning, it took me several minutes to find him, hiding behind the curtains in our bedroom.   What I should have guessed is that the game was only half the reason he was hiding.   He had a monster poop in there, smell wafting deftly through the air.   I scooped him up to change him when there was a knock at the door.   It was the guy from our car dealership to pick up our car for service.   (Yes, our local dealership picks our car up for service and leaves a loaner.   It rocks.)   I knew that he was coming, but somehow it escaped my mind that there would actually be a person arriving at my house that I would need to converse with.   Dudley was somewhere loose in the yard, I was still my my sweaty running clothes with my stringy hair in limp tangles, Kenny and Cooper were in pjs and now the smell of poop was undeniable.  

I answered the door to find a slightly shy guy my age in a crisp polo shirt, clipboard in hand.   “Hi!” I said brightly, as if my chipper demeanor could mask the l’air du poop I was holding in my arms.   “Did you meet a large grey dog on your way in?”   “Um.   No?”   “Oh!   Oh dear.   He usually jumps on strangers.   I’d better find him before he sees you.   Can you stand over there for a minute…”   I look around for Dudley.   Nowhere.   Bad sign.   He must be rolling in dead fish.   “DUDLEY!”   He comes barreling in from the water, and I grab his collar just as he makes  a lunge for the car guy.   He smells Cooper’s load and decides that it is more interesting than Mr. Car Man  and starts burying his nose in Cooper’s rear, making him cackle uncontrollably.   Kenny, not to be outdone, starts running in circles around us and roaring like a lion, holding his hands out like claws.  

I offer a fake laugh and ask him if he’d like to come in for a minute.   He looks at me like I offered to hand him a snake and shakes his head, “All I need is your driver’s licence and your keys, Ma’am.”   “Right!   I’ll be right back!” and I leave him on the doorstep with Kenny, still roaring like a lion, and Dudley, smelling like dead fish and sniffing his hinder.   I run upstairs.   Licence.   Oh.   No keys.   I run back down, Cooper still on my hip, still smelly, and still laughing.   I look at the guy.   “I can’t find my keys.   Hm.   Oh, don’t mind the mess – we made an obstacle course out of the couch cushions this morning!” I shout, and I run back upstairs to look again.   By now Kenny has tired of roaring, and has started to just run laps around the living room, singing random words from random books that we’ve recently read to him: “Bossy sprockets!” (from Thomas the Tank Engine) and “It’s as hard as the ham at the cheesemongers!” (from Two Bad Mice) float up the stairs as Mr.  Car  Man  shuffles his feet nervously.   I call Casey.   “Keys!?”   He tells me that he used them yesterday and doesn’t know where he put them.   I start tearing around, opening drawers, looking through pants pockets in the laundry hamper and finally find them behind the IPod in the kitchen.  

“Here you are, then!” I say, still cheerful, as if this nice guy hadn’t just witnessed me losing my mind.   “Oh!   I need to go up there with you and make sure my husband took the carseats out!” and we traipse up the 100 foot walkway to the detached garage, me in the lead with the now toxic Cooper, Dudley prancing close behind, still trying to get a good whiff, Kenny galloping behind Dudley and Mr. Car Man in the rear, obviously pondering a change in occupation.   We get to the garage.   Carseats are still buckled in.   Oops.   “Do you need a hand?” Mr. Car Man asks politely.   “Sure!” and I start to hand him Cooper.   “Uh.   I meant with those seats?”   “Oh, yeah!   Great!   Thanks!” I say, tucking Cooper in my elbow and wrestling with one of the carseats.   We get them out and on the ground.   Mr. Car Man says, “I have kids.” in a tone that implys that he understands that I am not completely Cuckoo, just mildly disorganized.   And he leaves.   Whew.

By the time he came back three hours later to return the car, I made sure that all of us were clean, dressed appropriately, and that the house was reasonably picked up.   Not only that, but I had a cake in the oven.   Take that, Real Housewives of Madison County.   He squinted at me, almost as if he wasn’t sure I was the same person he’d meet this morning.   I gave him a breezy, nearly lofty  smile and thanked him warmly.   He squinted a little more and looked at Kenny, now quietly engaged in his legos.   “Anytime,” he said, and tipped an imaginary hat.   And with that, he left the Cuckoo’s nest.   Whew.

Hey, Good Lookin’

June 8th, 2009

I just wanted to publicly announce that Cooper, three weeks shy of his first birthday, has suddenly turned into a real looker…




His crazy little personality has just exploded.   Today while I was brushing my teeth, I briefly left Kenny and Cooper playing in the floor in their shared room.   Two minutes later when I popped my head in, they were gone.   I went into my room and saw Kenny on the couch reading a book.   “Where’s Cooper?” I asked, a little nervously.   “He’s hiding” said Kenny, mater-of-factly.   I looked at the curtains on the window.   There was, in fact, a little bulge at the bottom.   “Cooper?”   He whipped the curtains off his face and giggled with unfettered glee, then hid again, clearly waiting for me to continue the game.   Which I did for another ten minutes.   Who can resist that face??

Stinky Boys

June 7th, 2009

Stinky Boy #1: Dudley, who has inexplicably rolled in death three times now in the last two days.   For newer readers, we live on the water – on a creek off a river off the Bay – where there are fish and crabs and tiny shrimp in abundance.   We have a dock as well as a boat ramp on our property, the latter of which occasionallyserves as a dying field for beached fish.   Dudley loves to roll around in them, grinding his neck into the rotten, decaying flesh.   Then he runs inside and you can smell him before he even clears the dog door.   Nasty.   Today he got his second shower of the weekened and Casey even pulled out the steam vacuum to wash the couch cushions.   Ugg.

Stinky Boy #2: Cooper.   The kid poops, like, eight times a day.   He relishes it, too.   When I see “the look” – you know, the slightly reddened face, the baited breath, the concentrated stare, I’ll sing-song, “Cooper… are you poopin’?”     and he’ll reward me with a killer smile.   But just try to change that poop, and whoa!   Call in the reserves, because he howls like he’s being tortured.   He bucks his body, violently kicks and throws a tantrum worthy of an Oscar.   I’m tempted to make him sit in poop all day, just so that he understands that the alternative to those mean old diaper changes is no picnic, but the smell propels me to even the most difficult of hiney-changes.

Stinky Boy #3: Kenny.   He is also a happy pooper and is quite fond of calling everyone in the house into the bathroom to check out his “creations” when he’s finished.   Fortunately, he understands that they should then quickly be flushed and then moves on with his day.  

Stinkyness aside, it was a great weekend.   The weather finally cleared and the humidity stayed low so we were able to spend most of the two days outside.   I even took Kenny out in the kayak yesterday while Cooper napped and Casey caught up on some yard work.   He’s such a sweet little guy.   We talked and talked and just enjoyed the peacefulness of being out on the water.     It is so nice to be alone with him every once in a while.  

I guess I’ll keep my little stinkers.

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