Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Typhoid Collin

Top Ten Job hazards of being a mom:
1. You get pooped on
2. You get barfed on
3. You get peed on
4. You get yelled at
5. You get things thrown at you
6. You get smacked in the face with errant toys
7. You get smacked in the face period
8. You get bitten
9. You get kicked
10. You get SICK.......

Yep, Collin got a cold this week. We've been lucky so far in his lifetime that he's only been sick a very few times. I mean what 18 month old can claim to have only had ONE ear infection? Collin, that's who. And, he's scooted under the cold radar most of the time too, managing to pick up only two or three so far. Other than croup, which I'm pretty sure is God's way of torturing children and their parents, he's been (knock on wood) healthy.

Then, just before I had to leave for my conference this weekend, as if to make sure I felt especially guilty in leaving, he decided to turn on the snot faucet. I managed to tear myself away from his booger nose and let Daddy take care of it and go anyway. It might have made it easier to go, actually. I figured he'd be miserable to be around in his condition...he wasn't, but it's what I told myself to get my butt in the car.

But, like any mother, especially a stay-at-home mother, I have been given the gift of germ-sharing. Kisses and hugs and love from your kid is all well and good until they give you the added joy of crap. See, Collin hasn't figured out the difference between a real kiss and kissing like the dog (i.e. licking you). Gosh, I hope he figures that out by puberty or he will be one unlucky kid when it comes to dating!

Anyway, licking mommy and snuggling up to her because he missed her has surely made him the Typhoid Collin of this household. So, he's still coughing (and sounding pathetically cute by the way while doing it), I'm stuffy and irritated about it, and Daddy is pretending not to be sick but really is. I think that he's sorry about it, but I can't really be sure.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

I Have Survived

I returned home today, battle-hardened from my weekend away from my sweet-faced little boy; you know, the one who infested me with snotty germs just in time for me to leave the house and incubate them in my own body so I could start feeling like crap the second night away from home. I worried endlessly about leaving, returning, calling enough, checking in enough, all of it.

I cried from the time I got up on Friday morning until the time I left the driveway and sobbed intermittently until I pulled into the parking lot of the hotel when I sort of told myself that I'd better pull it together or I'd look like a lunatic. I promised myself that I'd try to meet some new people at this conference of mine and since it was for writers, pretend that I was at least, trying to be one (since I am!). And, I would also sort of self-time my sadness and make every effort to not bring up my longing to go home and kiss my son for at least the first thirty seconds of a conversation with someone new. I thought I should let them get to know me first, you know, REALLY "get" that I'm a psycho first.

But, Collin survived without me. And I survived without him. Mostly because I have the best husband on the planet. I got text messages constantly. I was updated on his mucus production, on how much dinner he ate and whether he cried for five minutes or six seconds at bedtime. I knew whether he liked his evening walk and that he played with his new fish toy in the tub...all without sneaking away from sessions to chat. I love technology, don't you?

And, when I did get to make a phone call, I did that obnoxious thing we all do when we have kids who totally can't talk yet...I made him put Collin on. So, everyone around me could here me shouting, "HI PEANUT! SAY HI TO MAMA!" over and over and over again. Yep, obnoxious. Did I care? Nope. You know why? Because he was babbling my name into the air "around" the phone. That means he loves me, right?

When I got home, he was in the process of refusing his afternoon nap, which to me says that he was so too excited to sleep because he simply knew I'd be there any minute. I was rewarded with the bounty of a half-toothed grin and the best an eighteen month-old can give you by way of affection, especially a boy: acquiescence when you shower him with kisses. Heck, he even laughed and smiled when they went on for well over a minute.

So, while he didn't throw himself on the floor in racking sobs or go on a hunger strike until I came home, I was actually able to dress and breathe without him too. I made a couple of friends and I as even able to form coherent sentences about my actual work to real people who can help me with it instead of just asking if they'd like to see a picture of my kid. So, overall it was good for both of us but I don't think I'll be signing myself up for another trip anytime soon.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

It's So Hard to Say Goodbye

I'm leaving this weekend and I've been breaking the news to Collin all week. I've been sprinkling it to him in tidbits. I'm trying to brace him for the fact that his world is about to fall apart. I at least hope that I'm as much his world as he is mine, partially anyway. I hope that on one hand, he doesn't notice I'm gone and skips and laughs through this weekend like nothing is wrong; and on the other hand, falls devastatingly sadly to the floor as if he cannot survive a moment without me (pretty much wailing as hard as I will be driving away!). Can you tell I've never left him before?

So, we started the conversation with crackers...his favorite. I think he was more shocked that he was allowed not ONE cracker, but an entire baggie. Three of his favorite things were thus combined: eating, crackers and dumping things out/replacing them in a container. I decided vacuuming the crumbs could wait. He was shocked...SHOCKED I tell you, and I don't think it was about my waiting to vacuum (which was shocking if you know me and my obsession with vacuuming...we have a really cool vacuum!). I choose to believe he was shocked about my announcement, but I'm pretty sure it was the bestowment of crackers in such quantity (don't get excited, it was only three).

Moving on to day two of the "news-breaking," trying to cushion the blow by reminding him that the departure is eminent, he brings out the big guns, the adorable pity faces. I'm pretty sure, he'd been practicing them. So, now I'm positive that he knows that I'm leaving and that he DOES NOT want me to go.

We start the conversation nice and easy...what's up Mom, you want to chat, right?

Yeah, I'm not so sure I like the look on your face; but.....

Give it to me straight. Just the facts, ma'am.

You've got my FULL attention....

WHAT!! You want me to stay with Dada? Alone?! That make baby ANGRY! Wait...deep, cleansing breath......ahhhhhh.

That's better....Now, whatchu talkin 'bout?

Still, you persist with this idea? My final verdict? No! No! NO!

Okay, so how am I supposed to leave that precious face? That adorable, animated guy? I'm pretty sure that they hard wire us women with some sort of chemical in our lady bits that makes us incapable of thinking of what WE want when our babies are in the room, heck when they are on the face of the earth, especially when they look at you like THAT! I swear, if he so much as sticks out that lip when I try to leave, I will not go.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

He's Ba-aa-ck!

I feel for Mrs. Fang; I really do. She's got the kid who everyone else sort of plays a wide arc around. She unnaturally giggles in conversation, sort of saying, "I know you don't like my kid, but please don't hate me, I'm trying!" If I were her, I don't know what I'd do. I mean she's got to keep exposing him to situations in which he's bound to bite in order to see if he's getting better and to attempt to curb the behavior; but on the other hand, she's in this Catch-22 where she looks like she's not curbing her fine young cannibal well enough every time he goes to take a chunk out of another tot's face. So, I really do feel badly for her.

But, I don't feel so badly that I don't cringe every time I walk up to the playground and see them already there; or my stomach doesn't flip when I see him barrel ahead of her into the sand if we're already enjoying a bloodbath-free morning. My gut-check reaction is to say, "hey, we were here first!" I'm not sure when my thirty-year-old self regressed to being six, but somehow it happened approximately around the time my son was nearly killed by this child.

Anyway, he's been there A LOT lately and in Mrs. Fang's defense, she's been all over him like white on rice. He's never out of her sight. And, she doesn't take risks. She let him ride in a wagon with a VERY young baby the other day and refused, flat out REFUSED to let him ride with her unless he was strapped in, and restrained away from her, despite the mother's protestations that it wasn't necessary because they were going slowly and only a few feet. Mother of baby didn't know he was a biter and she didn't volunteer the info. But, I think taking precautions is okay, right?

So, over the past few visits, we've been bloodshed free and I've been pleased with her hawk-like hovering...until today. That kid is like lightning when he gets a hankering for flesh. He was lounging in a folding beach chair, sipping his little cup and in a flash, he was on Collin's forehead. Collin had no toys to take away and he wasn't even facing Damien Fang. He was simply standing in the sand.

That's what freaks me out the most. The kid just decides he wants to bite, picks a nearby kid and attacks with no provocation. I leaped up and, jammed my hand between them, hoping I'd get bit instead. Thankfully, it's hard to bite a flat forehead and I was able to pry him away before he got a grip. I feel a little bad for shrieking "NO!" at another kid and sort of shoving him away but...wait!...I don't' feel so bad after all.

Poor Collin thinking he was being told no so harshly cried hard. Very hard. Damien got a ten second time out because Mrs. Fang was engrossed in a conversation with someone else and didn't follow through with her punishment. He did have to "apologize" to Collin later before we left. I've tried to make Collin "apologize" to me for things, but he's 18 months old and I'm not sure he gets it.

So, I keep hoping that Collin does NOT learn to bite from this kid. And, I keep questioning now what it is about my kid that this kid finds so appealingly tasty about my son. Is it the juicy fat cheeks, the pudgy thighs? Nope, can't be that as he continuously goes for the face. Maybe he smells like chicken?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Family Bean Counter

Collin doesn't know this yet, but he lives a terrible life. He has never met Dora, Spongebob, Elmo or The Wiggles. He doesn't know how to get to Sesame Street or where in the world Carmen Sandiego is. And, he's never heard that there's this freaky purple guy that loves him.

I know that makes my life only temporarily pleasant. By that, I mean two things: I also have not had to become intimately familiar with these creatures and their inane songs; but also, I have not had to become acquainted with the following refrain, "Jimmy/Johnny/Chloe's mom lets them watch t.v. whyyyyyyyyyy can't I?"

See, we don't watch t.v. in our house. None. Zip. Zilch during Collin's waking hours. And, truthfully, we don't watch much when he's asleep either. We don't even have cable and we have a barely functioning antenna.Up until about two weeks ago, I don't think he was aware that the flat screen mounted on our wall was anything more than a really boring picture that really should be of him. As a younger baby, he was fascinated by watching a DVD slide show we had made of him and on occasion he'll point at the screen and ask for "bebe" still.

Recently though, I thought what they hey, he's getting older, let's try it. I don't know what I was thinking. The American Academy of Pediatrics says there's no benefit for t.v. for kids under two and we've been doing fine entertaining ourselves without it. And, I've never seen a kid so totally in love with his books as mine is. I get a lot of crap from some people about my vehemence with this no t.v. rule (that's why he's speech delayed, he needs "downtime," etc); but, I wanted to see if he'd even be interested.

Interested was an understatement. I flicked it on and it was like a tractor beam pulled him into the screen. His feet became suction-cupped within mere centimeters from the t.v. and he was immovable. Hands waved in front of his face were no distraction. I could have danced around naked, on fire and twirling ice cream cones offered in endless supply and he wouldn't have torn his attention away from whatever I'd turned on. Yeah, it went off. Almost immediately. After about ten minutes, I couldn't bear the glaze-eyed stare any longer.

Still, I feel for the burning desire for something that holds their attention like that for times when you are say, making dinner or wanting to, I don't know, go to the bathroom alone, or balance the checkbook.

We've adopted "the bean counter." Collin feels that he's doing something very important by moving all these beans from one bin to the other...and Mommy feels that while making dinner in almost complete silence, that world peace and order has been restored...until she has to clean up the beans that are all over the kitchen floor. Of course, it's a small price to pay to not whistle "how to get to Sesame Street" all night long and stare at the back of my kid's head over the couch.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Getting into the Swing of Being a Big Kid

So, I think it's kind of official. Collin has decided he's in love; and for the second time, it's with a girl named Grace. The first time he was in love with a Grace, she gave him his first kiss on a playground in Alabama and I thought that was so heartbreakingly cute that I might never recover my senses.

Now, if we aren't out the door to our new park by the time the rooster crows in the morning, you'd better believe a tantrum is eminent. I thought it was just because he loved parks, or that he enjoyed being a monkey. But, the more we play there, the more I'm suspicious that he's in love with Grace, who arrives moments before or moments after us every day.

If there are other children there, he hangs near his sweet Grace, who like him, is quiet and observant, rather than loud and screeching. She is patient with him, in that older and wiser way, and doesn't throw a fit when he takes ALL the sand toys from her. She takes his hand and leads him to a shady part of the park where they pick grass or make piles of stones that make sense to them and she doesn't cry to her mother when he bashes them over after she's made an intricate pattern. Three and eighteen months have never made such a beautiful pair.

But, she's making him grow up so fast! My sweet boy who could relish the breeze of the baby swing for hours decided today that nothing but the big boy swing would do. Having watched Miss Grace gliding back and forth on it all morning, he simply would not be put in the baby swing and wanted nothing to do with it. So, we tried the big boy swing, to mixed reviews.

First, he imitated her belly swinging, only to realize that he's not quite ready for that coordinated of a move and that it pinches his fat arms. No matter how many times he tried, the squeals of pain did not sound like laughter. What's worse, his little feet couldn't touch the ground once he hopped up and he was hopelessly stuck.

Next he begged to be put up on the seat like his doppelganger. Alas, this was better and I nearly wanted to cry for how grown up he looked...for the brief moment he hung on and kicked his feet in glee at how proud he was for sitting like a big kid. He giggled and was so happy. Then, he went to pat his head...his sign for being happy and he knows it (get it?) Guess what happened??

We tried again...and again...and again...and again...each time, he got so happy with himself that he wanted to pat his head. So, while I'm sad that he's "ready" for the big boy swing, I'm a little relieved that he's not quite as ready as he thinks he is and totally amused at why.

Besides, how adorable is it that your kid always pats his head when he's happy and he knows it!

And just for posterity's sake, perhaps the last picture of my sweet boy in a baby swing!

P.S. This is Collin signing, "All Done." Appropriate, no?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Language Breakthrough

We have crossed a milestone today. My son, my joy, my angel, my reason for getting up in the morning (at five a.m. all week, thank you very much!) has made it past five words! Hooray! Most children his age are considering the idea of putting words into pairs or even into triples; but hey, Collin is definitely not "most" kids. We knew that when he was born and decided to shirk the whole "all babies poop" system and leave us empty diapers for weeks on end and make us more than concerned.

Anyway, lately he's been pointing at the endless supply of boat pictures in our house and saying, "boa boa." Imagine boat without the "t" (not snake). I tried to get him to say the "t" by stressing it but he just imitates me by saying the "t" separately and then says "boa boa" (I guess I could spell that bow bow, huh?) followed by "t" all by itself. Stubborn little cuss!

And, if that weren't enough, he points at the equally endless supply of his own baby pictures and says, "bebe! bebe!" We have a vain child. He knows where the albums are and he would look at them all day if I let him. Okay, sometimes I let him. There, I admit it. Wouldn't you? It means that he sits on my lap and points at pictures with me in them and says "mama!" Sometimes he even kisses my picture. You'd do it to if he were your baby! Don't judge!
But, the kicker is that he truly knows the word because he saw a baby today, an honest to goodness in the flesh one at the park and he ran up to him, pointed and said, "bebe!" with a huge grin. Oh, I was so proud! Then, I made him say it, oh I don't know, fifty or sixty more times to be sure.

So, all told, that brings our grand total of words up to six, making the milestone. See, the milestone is MORE than five. I'm thrilled. His words are:

1. Mama (yep, I'm most important)
2. Dada (okay, second place)
3. Eddie (I'll admit it, it was his FIRST...and ONLY word for a while)
4. Yeow-Yeow (what he calls Homer)
5. Bebe
6. Boa (-T) Boa (-T)

I think Homer, however, is less than thrilled with being one if his words!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Nature? Nuture?

We, that is Collin and I, are becoming more and more distracted by every truck or vehicle with more than four tires or an engine louder than a moped, that passes our path. It has gotten to the point that we can't go for a stroll without his arm propelling from the stroller at such regular intervals that I'm considering installing an armrest for him so it will be more comfortable for him to just leave it extended, for all the pointing and grunting he's doing. Apparently, it's vitally important that I notice the FedEx guy is at the neighbor's house, the TruGreen Lawn guy is driving by on the highway across the way and the school bus is dropping kids off down the street. Don't get me started on the reaction if it's garbage day.

I've discovered that if there are trucks on our street, making deliveries, mashing garbage or recyclables or simply stuffing mail in the boxes, it can keep my son entertained and still for a long time on my lap to watch, mouth wide for a long time, longer than if he were given a sedative I imagine. The other day, when the garbage man came by, he sat and watched, arm outstretched in perpetual point for nearly fifteen minutes and waved until the truck was out of sight around the corner.

Here's what I'm thinking, if he were a girl, would he be at all interested in this stuff? I question this because he plays with little Gracie at the park every day and she does NOT stop her imaginary games every sixteen seconds to point at the road when a truck passes or an airplane rumbles overhead, let alone the myriad of traffic helicopters (we do live in L.A. remember!).

Don't get me wrong, I know that supposedly if we present our children with gender neutral toys and toys from both sides of the chromosome map, they'll play across the map, but something tells me that this stuff is slightly ingrained. Like, if I gave my kid a Barbie, instead of dancing it around or changing her shoes, he'd take her by the hair and swing her in circles, or figure out which of his trucks she'd fit into and drive her off into the sunset.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Return of Damien Dagger-Teeth

Yep, it was bound to happen. He couldn't stay away forever, could he? It has been two weeks of blissful, unmolested playtime at the park, playtime free of fear for both Mommy and Collin; but he returned today; little Damien the biter. I expected this day would eventually come. I mean we live in a base housing community that is so small I can literally walk the entire circuit of houses in less than ten minutes and no, I'm not one of those arm pumping fool power-walkers. So, of course he'd return to the park eventually.

When I saw him, I swear my intestines turned to water. I am more afraid of this little boy who is smaller than my cat who, yes, stands on two legs quite often, than I am of a rabid wildebeest. What does that say about me? He came careening towards us, all knees and elbows and if I didn't know that he is capable of drawing blood, I would've thought he was adorable. The other mother, present during "the incident" exchanged a knowing glace with me that even through sunglasses said, "EEEEEEEK!"

My first real thought though, was why isn't his mother closer to him, letting him run off from her like that, leaving all these children vulnerable to attack? Jeesh, like he should be on a leash or a choke chain?! I tried to reign in my evil thoughts and let him play, yards away from Collin.

When he did approach Collin, my sweet boy had obviously forgotten all about his previous encounter with the kid and instead of fear, adopted his usual greeting for people, trees, trucks and oxygen: an emphatic wave. Damien looked at him like he could be a ham sandwich and his mother steered him away. I breathed.

The playgroup went off without any blood drawn until it dwindled to Collin, his little girlfriend, Grace and one other girl, Emma. Damien had wandered off with his mother to another house and we thought them to be gone...until he came scampering through the wide lawn to see Emma on a tricycle, which he decided, en route, that he simply must have.

He approached her like a lion, circling from afar at first and then gingerly touched the handlebars, as if he just wanted to see what the bike could do. Then, he grabbed the hem of her shirt, lifted it as high as he could and leaned over, putting his face against her back. My feet were off the ground in a flash, but not as fast as Damien's mother, who reached the scene before Damien could get his teeth through her skin.

I'm thinking that it will be another few weeks before we see him again. What do you think?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

OCD Anyone?

I think Collin may have OCD, or he's using his toddler-wily-ways to poke fun at the fact that I'm probably veering towards slightly neurotic myself. I once dated a guy who couldn't get out of the car without touching all the radio station buttons in the car in ascending order, while thinking good thoughts about his dog, Cuddles. I think that blows my need to have a non-stinky dishtowel at ALL times way out of the water.

Still, having a toddler, especially THIS toddler has taught me two things:

1. I can't be anal
2. He is anal

See, he makes a royal mess out of everything he touches. Case in point below. I left an envelope on the table, which is now, suddenly within his reach. When did that happen. Six seconds ago, he was too short to reach anything. Crap, that's right, I bought him a step stool so he'd stop whining incessantly about not being able to see the counter while I cooked dinner. How'd he figure out how to drag it over to the table? Does this mean he'll soon realize he can reach EVERYTHING in the house that I formerly thought safe?!

Anyway, he got my envelope down and with it, a napkin, which he then proceeded to shred to bits so he would have something to put in and out of the envelope, OVER and OVER again. He was perfectly content with this pursuit for nearly an hour. While it was a mess, I figured, what the heck, he's quiet. He once did the same thing with an entire roll of toilet paper while we lived in Alabama and I actually didn't open the door to housekeeping that day, for fear of total humiliation.

Apparently, putting things (ANYTHING) in and then taking them out of any container at hand is his favorite pastime. He'll spend eons dumping and replacing his Lego's. Today, I took him all the way to the freaking park, with the added treat of chalk, only to watch him not color with it, but take it in and out the box for forty minutes. We could've done that at home! It's a good thing I put his rear in the stroller and walked all the way there for that...not to mention all the time I spend trying to get him to draw or even hold the chalk! We go through the same thing with crayons.

Needless to say, my tolerance for messes has gone up considerably. I have taken to leaving bins around so he can just dump and sort himself. At the end of the day I throw things in them and voila, the room is clean. I have a system for which bins collect which toys and it suits us. He has a system for wrecking my system, of course. But, we're coping.

The thing is, he seems so determined during all this sorting, like it's a mission, and he's total anal about it. If you try to get in there and "help" or show him maybe the green blocks could go here or anything like that, whoa! back off lady. He's got his own mental process going on. I just wish I understood it. I just have to wonder if this is something all kids do.

Monday, September 15, 2008

At the YMCA!!!!

I think the YMCA should actually stand for the following:

Y...Y are you leaving me here, Mommy?
M...Mommy, seriously are you coming back? Because I'm going to cry hysterically until you do!
C...Come on! I'm serious. Don't leave me here!
A....Awww! Come baaaaaaaaack! Don't go!

We purchased a family membership a while back for our local Y so Collin could take the Mom & Tot swim classes, which were, by the way, fantastic (and NOT cheap). I thought the Y was for those of us who were not the country club set...but I digress. Anyway, I decided to keep up the membership because they have free childcare and fun fitness classes for Mommy.

Since Collin has never been in a daycare setting, I thought it'd be good for him to get into a social setting WITHOUT Mommy for a change. One hour at a time would be good for him, I thought. Oh, how I was wrong.

We tried it a few weeks ago and since the trauma was too much for me to bear, we took a break. He made pathetic faces that I've never seen before and his lower lip did acrobatic feats in pouting that would break anyone's heart. They have this rule that if your kid cries for ten consecutive minutes, they come find you. Apparently, he cried nine minutes at a time then took a breather for a minute, then started back up again the entire hour I was gone; so, they never came to get me. Ack! My giant, nearly 30 pound baby was in an infant bouncy seat when I went to get him, apparently, his preference.

So, we went back today. I figured he wouldn't remember. Wrong-o. He grabbed my leg and tried to pull me out of there immediately. I tried playing with him for a few minutes, during which time, he left his lower lip out so far, I feared he might swallow his whole face. He didn't outright cry, but whimpered and let silent tears fall and slip down his cheeks. Can you picture the outright pathetic show this was?

I decided to leave him for no more than fifteen minutes, sitting out in the hall where I could hear him. I figured if he didn't cry, I'd give him five mintues of play time, showing him I'd be back for him quickly and if he did cry, I'd always be back for him anyway. We'd work our way up to longer stays. Of course, within seconds of my departure, I could hear him wailing. They came and got me within six minutes beause they feared he wouldn't breathe.

Should I be glad that he loves me and doesn't want to be away from me? Should I be proud that I didn't break down in sobs this time, like I did last time? Should I be relieved that the women running the show said that at least, he wasn't the worst they'd ever seen? Should I take him back? I know I should...but gosh it sucks!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Dada Duty

Bryon took the day off today to just hang with the family. It's all well and good and it's super special to have time with him other than the approximate 180 minutes of family time we get every day after work before Collin goes to bed. In those minutes, I'm always a little annoyed because I find that I'm still the primary parent, caregiver and worker.

As much as I look forward to the clock ticking to five p.m. every day, I find that by 5:05, it isn't all that much of a relief to have him home. It's awesome and I'm thrilled he's there; he's my best friend and Collin's favorite guy, but he doesn't give Collin his sippy cup without clearing it through me first if and he's not sure whether he should use shallots or onions in the sauce. So, while he's helping, he's not really HELPING as much as I'd like.

I think the mom parts of the family equations get what I'm saying. The Daddy's just don't do it the same way. Sure, if you're lucky enough to have the uber-helpful, super-on-the-spot kind of hubby like I do, who is always volunteering to help out and never wanting to make a mistake, you've got it made. They're always in the kitchen, helping your whip up dinner or they are in the cleaning cupboard digging out the vacuum because you mentioned seeing lint; or, they are trying to wrangle the kid because you said you had a headache. But, you know what? They just don't do it the SAME way as you do!

It took me until today to realize that's what annoyed me most of all. I thought it was that he wasn't doing enough; but it was that he wasn't me! Is that crazy or what? The guy doesn't sit down when he comes home, he doesn't turn on the T.V. or open the paper, he doesn't play Wii or even check e-mail. He asks if Collin needs to go for a walk or if I need veggies chopped. Sure, he'll do it; but does he do it over the sink so he doesn't have to wash the cutting board? Grrr!

We went to the mall today to get me a new suit for a conference. Dada watched Collin the whole time. He let him out of his stroller immediately and let him roam all over the store and chased him through racks of clothes, through the fitting rooms and up and down aisles. He let him scream a bit through pacifier withdrawal and through begging for crackers (our latest addiction...refusing to give in). He flipped him over his shoulders and found interesting things to point out to him: oh look a starfish painting in the hallway of Banana Republic! Would I have let the kid out of the stroller for even a millisecond? Nope. Did it work? Yep.

So, Dada does things differently. So Dada always gets out the measuring spoons for every recipe and I can throw pepper into a bowl without them. Big deal. Dada is a pretty cool guy to have around and he certainly means well. He has never failed us and the only thing he's ever asking for clarification on is how to please us more. What was I even complaining about in the first place?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Word of the Day

I'm becoming convinced that Collin's speech delay problem is really just a ruse. He is capable of speaking, actually more than just normal speaking; he might be capable of oration. He's adopted a word-a-day habit in the past week or so in which he outright blurts out, clear as a bell, normal, if not difficult words on a ONE TIME basis and then clams up.

The thing is, he chooses to do them at the following times:
1. When only I am present, thus indicating that he wants me to appear both insane and irrational
2. At appropriate and accurate things. For example, he saw a boat today and said, "boat." It isn't like he's seeing a boat and saying, "cow." So, he's choosing to not only speak, but appear to be smarter than he's letting on, making this whole speech delay thing doubly frustrating.
3. When I'm only halfway paying attention so I have to go, "did you just say X?" at which time he will literally purse his lips as if NO sound whatsoever has ever passed through them.

So far in the past week, I have heard: go poo-poo (yes, I know what a wonderful thing to hear), airplane, an approximation of Aunt Robyn that sounded like Auryn (Go Aunt Robyn!), and boat. It took seventeen months to get Mama! Ask him to repeat ANY of those words, even once and you get pursed-lip-boy of course and a look in his eye like you've asked him to hand you his last pacifier for good.

It's as if by speaking those words, he accidentally let you in on the secret he's harboring, that he knows darn well how to speak, he just doesn't feel like it. I'm pretty sure he also knows how to pee in the potty, wipe his own bottom and probably cook his own meals. He may also know how to drive. We'll see.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Where Have All the Flowers Gone?

A man should learn, and learn young, how to treat a lady. And my little man is learning from the best of men, just how it should be done. He's already learned that if he hits his Mommy in front of his Daddy he's certain to get a much longer time out than he would've if he were alone with me. He's learned that kisses go a long way towards smoothing things over; and, he's learned that flowers smell pretty.

When Mommy needs five minutes to herself, Daddy takes Collin with him to the market to pick up whatever we need for dinner that night. Or, he takes him to pick up whatever we don't need, say a pack of straws or sticks of dynamite; whatever I can think of at the moment to get them the heck out of the house so that it's completely silent for ten whole minutes.

Frequently, Daddy comes back with the ingredients for dinner, the pack of straws, the dynamite AND a bunch of flowers because, as he says, he couldn't resist and they were on sale. I find it hard to believe that Vons puts flowers on sale every time he's there, especially since I'm there equally as often and never notice these elusive sale signs. Still, flowers given under the pretense of a lie smell just as sweet. Although, once I got two bunches handed to me, and I'm pretty sure they had to have been on sale for that luxurious of a purchase to have been made.

But this week, Collin brought me flowers. I'm fairly certain he decided to buy them too. That's what I'm telling myself, as he's the one who proudly paraded through the door with them. As he is the one who carried them in, I think he lost sight of who they were for and then proceeded to bash them about on the floor. Alas, my poor gift was a bit ruined.

I think he might have gotten the idea that all flowers come into our house to be tortured...see the sunflower torture chamber below. I swear I read that this is what you are supposed to do to sunflowers when they droop. I'm attempting to "harvest" my seeds. I don't know though, this looks totally weird and I'm embarrassed when I open my garage door, like the neighbors think we have some sort of horticultural slaughterhouse going on.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

He Loves Me! He Loves Me!

I vowed, when Collin was an infant, that I'd have one of those babies who never needs rocking in the middle of the night, and always sleeps like a dream. We all know how deciding how our baby will behave works out for us, right? Well, seems like this decision actually stuck...too well.

By never picking him up at night when he cried and putting him directly to his own crib the minute he came home from his hospital, eschewing all that co-sleeping stuff and simply plunking the pacifier into his mouth when he fussed at night, whispering a few sweet words and then backing away, I created an anti-snuggle monster. These days, for his bedtime story, he won't even sit on our laps. He insists on listening to it from the comfort of his crib while we stand above and turn the pages for him, cinema-style. I actually kept him on his night-time bottle for months longer than I should've just for that extra snuggle at night.

During the day, he'll sit with me and read stories, and breeze by for a quick hug or perhaps a kiss, which is all too similar to a lick from the dog, but overall, he's an independent kid. I have only myself to blame. I know. But, it'd be nice for him to crave a cuddle after a nightmare or to want to climb into bed with me now and then.

I've pulled him into bed with me on "treat" mornings for a half hour of story time or so before getting dressed to just laze about and snuggle with him, even though he is mostly just bouncing about. This is one of my favorite pictures of us on a "treat morning." They usually fall apart into rolling around, giggling, tickling-fests because I'm trying to get him to relax and either flip through pages or just curl up and he's a bundle of energy because he just got up and he wants to jump and play and poke my face.

Last night, I upset the apple cart by pulling him out of his crib to hold him when he was half asleep, just for a hug that failed miserably because it of course, woke him and he thought, whoa, playtime in the middle of the night!

But today, I got a bonus. I took him to the park, as per usual, but it was deserted. He wanted to swing, but not in the baby swing. He wanted to sit across my lap and swing huddled against my chest. I've tried this with him more times than I can count and he usually decides, after about two pumps, that he's done and arches to get off, nearly killing himself in the process.

Today, he swung with me for at least ten minutes, humming and nuzzling against me. We looked at birds, we sang songs. I smelled his baby hair and kissed his forehead more times than I could count. Then, it was over and he ran free for an hour on the playground, not needing my assistance, or wanting me at all.

I tell him every morning that my kiss-o-meter is low and that he MUST give me kisses or I won't survive the day and he obliges by licking my face at least three or four times. I think he must know when my snuggle meter is low too, and without my telling him or asking, he does something like this and leaves me floating for weeks.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Lay One on Me, Baby!

The ripple effect from "the incident" (i.e. being bitten by fang-child) are still being felt on our pond. Collin still has a bit of a black eye and as a result, Mommy is still letting him have bites of ice cream that he shouldn't have and maybe giving him more kisses and hugs than is perhaps natural or wanted (from his end, anyway).

But, worst of all, Collin has, I fear, adopted a fear of that adorable habit that other kids have of smooching one another. There's nothing cuter than one chubby-legged, cherub faced kid plants one on another fat cheeked baby. It's so innocent and the affection is so pure and spontaneous it makes me wish that when we felt pure gratitude, say for the bagger that doesn't squish our bread with orange juice, or for the one nice guy who doesn't steal our parking space when our blinker has been one for five minutes, that we would just haul off and do things like that. Of course, we don't because we've learned restraint that kids just don't have. They see someone they like and by God, they've shared a shovel with them; so, lo and behold according to toddler law, they deserve their highest level of esteem and gratitude, a kiss.

On Saturday, we were at the park and a kid twice Collin's age but still his size (I'm sure I've mentioned my son is a super-tank!) decided that since Collin was adorable and had mastered the monkey bars, he should be rewarded, and decided to plant one right on his sweet face. Collin stood stock still as this sweet boy approached. My gut clenched in fear, but even from a distance, I could tell this boy was approaching with glee and a heartful of joy.

When it was over, Collin screeched in terror and fled to the safety of my knees. I can't say that being his safety net doesn't feel as warm and wonderful as my favorite sweatshirt and a pair of slippers; but, I felt a sad loss for his innocence lost to this biter.

So, now we're working on not being afraid of kids who are being sweet and on boundaries with our personal space. Poor baby! At least he's still letting me kiss him and still kissing me. Darn that biter!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Baby, What's Your Sign?

Because Collin is speech delayed, we've really embraced sign language with him. It's saved us a lot of tantrums because he's got a way to tell us, "hey, I'm thirsty over here!" Or, he can tell us, "Cracker! Enough with the cheese already!" There's nothing like the smile of relief on his face when I speak aloud what he's been trying to tell me with his approximations of the signs we've taught him and he knows he's been understood.
But, the opposite is a comedy of sorts too. He's totally misunderstood all the time as well. When he has a new sign, he relishes practicing it in all kinds of situations. Or, he has favorite signs that he uses for no apparent reason and he has no problem having their meaning totally misinterpreted.

Today, the following statements were heard after recognizing Collin's signs to me:

"Honey, that's not an airplane, that's a cupboard"

"Collin, we're not swimming, we're eating."

"No Collin, again, that's not an airplane, that's actually play-doh."

"Why do you keep saying swimming? We aren't swimming. We are SWINGING. We're at the park, not the pool."

"I don't hear an airplane; but, I do hear the can opener."

As you can tell, "swimming," and "airplane," are his two favorite signs and if you mix up any sounds sounding remotely similar to swim/swimming or airplane/fly or anything sounding anything like any kind of motor or heck anything at all he'll think it's a plane or want to talk about planes.

I blame Aunt Robyn. She graduates from pilot training next month and in hopes to get him excited about it, we're working on getting him to recognize her in pictures and to get him to at least associate her with airplanes and flying. It's clearly working. I think he might become a pilot, or the first kid to dive a plane underwater.

Here's Collin and Aunt Robyn. He points at her now and signs, "airplane" most of the time. I'm not sure if he realizes that means she flies an airplane or if he thinks that she is, in fact, an airplane. We'll see when he sees her, I guess.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Monkey Boy

If you've got a baby girl, you probably have no clue of what I'm about to talk about...unless she's of the undainty variety, a tomboy. Mother's of boys have to hone this unique ability very early of, NOT FREAKING OUT! It's becoming increasingly difficult.
Collin is almost 18 months old and for about the last 6 months, maybe more, he's deemed any toddler play structure much too babyish for him. He mastered big-kid swirly slides, tube slides, climbing the stairs and jiggly bridges loooong ago; but he's decided to take on something much more risky of late.

He's made the decision that at his ripe old age, monkey bar climbers are clearly what he should master next and that he needs minimal assistance. Meanwhile, I get to have mini-heart attacks while he dangles by his fat pinkies or nearly cracks his few teeth out on them.

What possesses boys to have no fear? It can't be that they don't fall or don't hurt themselves so they don't know any better. The kid climbed halfway up a slide today where he found it to be sopping wet, slipped and then tumbled all the way back down face first. Wham! Yep, it hurt. Nope, didn't need a hug. Instead, he yelled at the slide and went right back up it again.

He plays with a girl at the park and it's there that I learned the stark difference between the sexes. They saw a moth there today. She pointed at it and stayed at least twelve inches away at all times. He grabbed it, touched it and picked it up, then climbed up the slide after it when it dared to try to save itself from death by toddler fingers.

I learned early that boys are daredevils and you just have to watch them and be below them when they fall, arms open so you can catch them, and most importantly, you have to relax or you'll drop dead by the time they turn two. But, I also learned that it's easy to love them because they do awfully cute things, like come and kiss you with a mouth full of sand, or bring you a dead moth.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Gone Baby Gone

Daddy's coming back tonight. He's been gone all of 36 hours this time. Last time he was gone for five days. The time before that, he was gone for four days, before that three days. All told, he's gone about half of every month. Stop me if you've heard this before. Yep, you know how who you are if you are a military wife.
The thing is, we haven't done this before. Bryon has been at "easy" jobs travel-wise since we've been married and we're not used to this. Should I be whining about it? Probably not. He's technically "here." He's not over "there." He's home by Friday night, after dinner at the latest, usually before. The biggest inconvenience so far to me is that I mostly have to cut Collin's nails on my own now and I'm pretty surprised that the police haven't knocked on my door and questioned me about the child that is clearly being tortured inside my house on days that I attempt this feat.

But here's the other thing, this travel schedule is so new, sometimes it's not so bad. I get the whole bed to myself. I'm not much of a snuggler anyway and he's a human electric blanket. One meal lasts for four days because he's a garbage disposal and can pack away six helpings but Collin and I can make leftovers stretch all week. Hey, I don't mind not having to eat the same thing over and over and it means I don't have to cook.

I miss him though. I miss having someone walk through the door at 4:45...yep, nice schedule, huh (hey, he leaves at 6 am!) and relieve me for 2 minutes so I can pee for the one time a day that I do, alone! I miss having someone who responds in full words to me, to speak to at dinner. I miss having someone who cares about me beyond whether or not I'll show up if he throws a tantrum be there.

I think Collin misses him too. He's finally starting to say Dada. We point at pictures together, especially the one above and he gleefully recalls that's his DADA! Hopefully, he'll use an equally appropriate moniker for me soon, other than when he's wailing.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Do Kids Carry Rabies?

It's official. Collin's had his first playground scuffle. He came out the clear loser. I came out a clear wreck. I managed to hold myself together for a few minutes; I didn't want to immediately flee and seem rude. Meanwhile, all I wanted to do was go home and wail.

He's been shoved, pushed and even had sand thrown in his eyes in his short life. All of that has paled in comparison to today. Despite his brutish size, he's a "live and let be," kind of guy. So, he usually ends up bearing the brunt of bullies. Today was no exception.

A boy we'll call Damien (for sake of argument...not his real name) bit my sweet boy in the EYE!!! I thought, and I'm sure Collin did too, that he was giving him a sweet hug and a kiss. Silly us, we only give hugs and kisses in this house...nope, he was leaning in to get a good grip on his face so he could take a chunk out of it. Good ol' Damien left claw marks on the side of Collin's cheek where he pulled him towards his fangs and then clamped down on his eye, where he broke the skin both above and below the eyelid.

I was horrified and stood rooted to the sand for a second while I watched my poor boy kick and flail to get away. Damien just kept gnawing on my kid like he was a pork chop. His mother kicked into high gear, as this is a situation she's clearly used to dealing with and pulled them apart. Ten minutes later, Damien went after a little girl in the same attack fashion.

By then, I was buckling Collin into his stroller and we were on our way home because I couldn't choke back the tears anymore. Watching the swelling puff up was just too much for me. I've never seen him hurt so badly and it was just too much for me to take; especially coupled with Damien's mom talking to the little girl's mom about how Damien is "a biter," and she just doesn't know what to do about it.

I know!!! I know!!! Pick me!!! Warn other moms before you let them play together! Jeesh! Apparently, little fang kid just got kicked out of his daycare center for biting and she took him out of another one after a warning call because she didn't want him to hurt anyone. Good Lord woman! I know you love your kid the way I love mine, but if mine had a habit of say, I don't know, leg breaking, I'd give you a heads up before letting them wander off to the sandbox together.

Now that I've stepped down from my soapbox (can you tell this incident upset me?), I will give my son ANOTHER feel-better cookie and ANOTHER feel-better kiss, because I don't think he's had enough...okay, it's me that hasn't had enough. Although, from the looks of it, I think he'll survive. Still, this minor injury has showed me that I'm not so keen on this kid-getting-hurt part of parenting. I still feel sick to my stomach and it happened like three hours ago. I need another cookie.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

A Pain in My...You Don't Want to Know

There is no shortage of tell-it-like-it-is pregnancy books out there. You know what I mean, the tongue in cheek books that rant about barfing behind trees on morning walks or about throwing out all your cute Jimmy Choo pumps because your feet permanently swell to a new size. And, there is certainly a market out there filled with books about babyhood, postpartum depression and toddlerhood.

What we're missing is a book that tells us the truth about what really happens to US, the mommy, the woman in the trenches, permanently after the baby. I'm not talking about six months later; I'm talking about forever later. Once in a while, you get a glimpse, a one-liner about needing to buy new bras because the ones you wore before pregnancy never seem to fit right again. But, there are things your pregnancy books never seem to tell you that you might wish you'd known before going into this whole business.

You know that if you manage to escape pregnancy without a dingleberry (aka: hemorrhoid), you aren't going to escape labor without one. Here's what I didn't know: once the path for one's been forged in your nether regions, it's got a memory and it comes back. Not all the time mind you, but on occasion, just often enough to make you ticked off and to be totally grossed out and irritated. I wonder, why, if I can't remember the way to the zoo without a map, which I go to at least twice a year, how can this thing find it's way back to the same darn spot?

Yeah, the pregnancy books joke about these precocious little things like they are a minor irritation akin to the ever-rolling elastic waistband on maternity jeans. They use that keepin' it real voice to at least warn you about them, but they don't keep it real enough to bother telling you that now that you've had one, much like your little bundle of joy, you've got them for life. Of course, most likely, you'll get them once in a blue moon; but that's beside the point.

Didn't you do enough for this labor and delivery process by carrying the child, pushing it out of your body and nursing it? I think asking you to sport an itchy, swollen appendage as a reminder of those uncomfortable days is a bit much.

Anyway, as you can tell, I'm in the throes of one of these nifty guys these days. I am boycotting it as best as I can with the help of what I learned at the hospital after I gave birth: Tucks pads, Cortaid and Nupricainal. My son finds these items immensely amusing in the bathroom because as we all know, something else books seem to leave out is that you cannot go to the bathroom yourself when you have a toddler and all objects lined up on the floor near the toilet are clearly there for their amusement.

This is Collin, fleeing from the bathroom with tubes of cream in each hand; not that you can see the cream, as he is of course, uncooperative with photography. He's 17 months old; what do you expect?

Monday, September 1, 2008

My Substitute Fairy..and not in "that" way!

If anyone has ever had a migraine, they know it feels about equal to someone driving a semi-truck through your brain, only to pick it up, load it in the back to take it to a meat packing plant where it is pulverized, chopped and then somehow way-layed on the way to the store and devoured by a pack of hungry wolves. In short, it hurts. A lot. A lot, a lot.
I couldn't muster the strength to brush my teeth until 3pm. That's when I discovered, yet again that I certainly do have the best husband on the planet. New, more frozen ice packs found their way to my head as the one atop it thawed and started dripping running water into my mouth. Too tired and in too much pain to bother to care, I just laid in puddles. And, someone kept changing the DVDs for me when they ran out too.

Aside from this, sheets got changed and towels got folded. It goes without saying that dinner was made without my assistance...or maybe it doesn't go without saying, or without appreciation. That's right, the laundry fairy's husband is that great. I am a lucky, lucky gal. Maybe, having a headache that I sometimes wish would just kill me, rather than go on another second, isn't so bad after all. It reminds me that I've got a pretty great guy.
Sometimes, we just need to step back for a second, I think, and remember that not all of our husbands are big fat idiots and jerks like we see on prime time TV on sitcoms. I watch a rerun of something like Everybody Loves Raymond and I cringe. What a butthead, really!

And, Mr. Collin in all this? He has found that playing peek-a-boo with my toes under the blanket is immensely amusing. Since that's all I felt like wiggling all day, I think that's pretty good.