Monday, August 29, 2011

What little man's up to these days

Well Ethan is officially one year old- still doesn't feel like that much time could have possibly passed already!  He is keeping us on our toes more and more, which means I have less and less time (not to mention energy, or even inclination) to blog.  Because quite frankly, at the end of a long day, usually all this mama wants to do is curl up and watch The Real Housewives of New Jersey.  Don't judge me.  But I do want to keep up with our sweet E's milestones and such, and since TURNING ONE is a pretty big one, I figured I'd better make a guest appearance on the blog.  One day there will be a sentimental, sweet, and hopefully well-written letter to Ethan in honor of his first birthday as well, but today is not that day.  A. Because I really don't feel like crying and B. Because The Closer is on in 15 minutes.  Again, don't judge me.  You all know you love Brenda Lee Johnson, too.  HA! ;-)

So here's what Ethan's up to these days:
-Unfortunately the temper tantrums mentioned in the last post are ratcheting up.  Some days I feel like I'm living with a bipolar baby!  He's still his sunshiney self, but most of the time these days if he wants something and you tell him "No," or even if he's just trying to do something on his own and isn't able to (like reach something on a desk, or pull something out from the toy basket), he immediately hurtles into a meltdown.  Do not pass go, do not collect $200.  I'm talking wailing, arched back, flailing fists, the works!  To me, the hardest part of this is WHAT THE HECK TO DO ABOUT IT!?  Homeboy is ONE.  He has no concept of time, so time-outs are a no go right now.  I don't feel that spanking does anything productive either at this point.  Right now, we just sit him on the floor and ignore him until he stops the freak-out.  Once he's calmed down, I get face-to-face with him and say with a serious face as sternly as I can, "Look at me.  No sir.  That is UGLY. NO." Which usually makes him cry because he gets his feelings hurt.  It works, but I'm telling you, parenting isn't for wimps!  Sometimes I catch himself thinking things like, "Is it really that bad if he wants to chew on the electrical cords?  I mean, really?"  I kid, I kid. ;-)

-Still trying to kill himself on a daily basis.  Ethan has no concept of his own mortality.  At the beach, as soon as he hits the sand, he crawls as fast as he can, head down, barreling straight into the ocean, as though he's some kind of submersible vehicle!  When I am holding him, he does everything he can to be dropped.  When I am changing him, he is SUCH a wiggle worm that it's a straight up BATTLE.  I am usually winded and/or sweating by the time we're through, and its always an act of God that he actually has the diaper on anywhere adjacent to where it should be.  I try to stay positive and think of it as motivation to potty train ASAP! ;-)  The other day, you won't believe what I caught him doing. I had just unloaded the dishwasher, and was emptying the sink, re-loading the washer and hand-washing the stuff that was too big to fit in the load, so the door to the dishwasher was down, and I had a pile of hand washed dishes drying on a towel on the counter above the dishwasher.  You know, doing 18 things at once, as is my custom.  Anyhow, when I finished, I turned around for ONE SECOND to walk over and empty the dish drain into the trashcan.  In that brief moment Ethan managed to climb onto the dishwasher door, climb into the bottom rack, stand up on his tip-toes, and reach for the pile of dishes on the counter- when I turned around I found him at a 45 degree angle, seconds from grabbing a chef's knife!  I am in trouble when this kid is actually walking!

-He has a few words that I'm sure of.  Some moms crack me up because of the "words" they think their kids know.  You know the moms I'm talking about- their child mumbles "muhweeahhtonettah," and they're like, "DID YOU HEAR THAT!?  SHE JUST SAID MARIE ANTOINETTE!" I am on the totally opposite end of that spectrum, but there are a few things that he consistently uses the same words/sounds for: daddy, mama (he only says this when he's upset and only wants me, so I very rarely hear it), Buddy/dog ("dee"), "Uh-oh," and "See?" which is always accompanied by a pointing finger (my favorite.  He wants to see and touch EVERYTHING.  SO inquisitive. I love it!).  Despite the lack of language, he "talks" all day long- he's the King of gibberish, and he's very communicative with sounds- he squeals constantly (and loudly), he loves to click his tongue, and smack his lips, etc- he's very imitative of those types of things.  I guess he's a typical boy in that sense.

-Still very physical, although not interested in walking at all yet.  I think it's because he'd have to sacrifice speed.  Why be an unsteady walker, when you can crawl at the speed of light?  I have seen him stand on his own a few times, but as soon as he realizes he's doing it, he immediately sits down, or holds onto something.  He also pops up off his bottom over and over again like he wants to just stand up, and when we walk him along now, he stays flat-footed, and doesn't really lean on us at all for support, so I think it could happen any day now. I guess it's just a confidence thing?  We're in NO RUSH because walking is the final frontier.  After that, it's no holds barred!

-Teething, and this time around he's in pain.  I hate it! :-(  He's got diaper rash for the first time because of such frequent messy diapers, he is fussy and clingy, running low-grade fever, and chewing on anything he can.  I think it's his one-year molars, because he's batting at his ears a lot (and he just had his one year check-up, so they'd have caught an ear infection).  Last night, I had to rock him to sleep because he was so pitiful.  He didn't crash until 11 pm!  Now that might sound like a normal night for some babies, but Ethan is usually OUT by 7:30, and hates to be cuddled- he puts himself to bed!  I almost felt guilty that I enjoyed being able to love on him last night, since I knew it was only because he felt so bad, but I'll take cuddling when I can get it!

-He still loves reading- the only time he'll sit still on my lap and let me cuddle him is if there's a book involved, so we read a lot.  We have started going to the library every week or so to load up his board book basket, and he loves being able to "read" on his own, too, when he's playing in his room. I try to keep the books with rippable pages out of reach.  He also loves Sesame Street (with the exception of the "Abby's Flying Fairy School" portion- he never watches that part)- Murray is his favorite character.  I love that he enjoys a show that's so educational-  it allows me to not feel guilty about letting him watch a bit of TV so I can fold laundry or whatever in the afternoons.  He also likes music when it's on TV- like if there's a band playing on the Today show or something, he's glued to the screen.  But he doesn't seem to pay attention much to music that's on in the car or whatnot...or at least he doesn't have much of a reaction to it yet.  I am looking forward to the day when he starts dancing- I think it will be so cute!  On that note, do any of my mommy friends have recommendations for kiddy music that won't send me to the looney bin?  So far he's just been listening to what I listen to (which could account for the lack of reaction?)

-Still napping twice a day (except for the day's he attends MMO).  We tried to move to one nap a day for a little over a week, and although he did OK with it, he was so tired (and would sleep sporadically in the carseat if we went anywhere), I just decided he wasn't ready to transition yet.

-He attends a "Mother's Morning Out" class two mornings a week from 9 am- 1 pm, and loves it.  It's a nice treat for me, since it gives me 4 hours to run errands, get cleaning done without having to keep him simultaneously entertained, or just relax, and it allows him to play with other kids, which is his FAVORITE thing to do.  He loves Sunday school for the same reason.  He is such a people person!  Anyhow, it's really cute- he has a bookbag and a lunchbox, and has already come home with some artwork- he's got great teachers that are super sweet.  He is the youngest in his class- they're all turning 2, but since he just turned one, he's the baby of the group- the only non-walker!  But it does NOT slow him down.  Miss Sam and Miss Shana are constantly saying they're amazed at how well he can hang with the other kids, even though he's the runt!  That's my boy! ;-)

-At his one year check up he was 29 3/4 inches long, and weighed 24 pounds, and healthy as a horse!  He's finally passed his age in clothing size- other than in pants, he needs an 18 month or 24 month size.  BIG boy!

That's all I can think of for now.  Loving being this kid's mama- it's the best, most challenging, most rewarding, most wonderfully complex (both tiring and invigorating.  Makes you laugh and cry.  I could go on...)  thing I've ever done!
  

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Little boy, BIG personality!

One of my favorite surprises about parenting is how early we've gotten to see Ethan's personality develop.  Before having a child of my own, I always thought that, give or take a few extremes, babies were just babies- they didn't really differentiate for me until they could walk and talk.  I am learning that's not the case!  I thought it would be fun to record some of my observations about E's very early personality here to see if they hold true as he gets older, and if nothing else, to just have a remembrance of this fleeting moment of his life.  I still can't believe he'll be one in less than a month.  Can't. Believe. It.  Wasn't I in labor last night!?

So far, our Ethan is definitely:

GREGARIOUS.  I am only slightly exaggerating when I say that Ethan is a minor celebrity at our Publix.  It helps that homeboy loves the grocery store (like his mama!), so he's always in a good mood when we're there.  And it probably also helps that I am there so often we are actually recognized by the staff.  But it's not just the employees who love him.  And it's really not just Publix.  When we're out running errands, shoppers always stop and talk to him, and he just eats. it. up.  You've never SEEN such a ham!  And the thing that's crazy is that even men flirt with him!

One day I just watched Ethan, to try and discover the secret to his popularity, and I figured it out.  Ethan actually seeks out the attention.  He WILLS people to look his way.  He sees people walk by, and he locks his eyes on them, smiling like a maniac, hoping they'll see him and return the smile.  I've learned that whenever he's cranky, and just not having anything when we're at home, a quick fix is to take him somewhere with a cart, where he can ride around and greet his adoring public.   He's just outgoing!  He wants to interact with people; he likes making new friends. He has never gone through the separation anxiety phase, he's never met a stranger, and he will let ANYONE hold him.

He is also starting to learn how to read people and situations so that he can be a part of them.  If a group of people is laughing, he laughs too.  It's the fakest, funniest thing you've ever heard, so you laugh more, and then he laughs more, and so it goes.  Cute cute cute.  It's so neat to see that he's already a social butterfly- definitely doesn't get that from Clay! ;-)

STRONG-WILLED: When he sets his mind on something, that's it.  For example, he never really liked pacifiers, but we tried really hard to make him, since they help so much with sleep training, etc.  For the first few months of his life, he'd take them only to go to sleep (never once could he be kept quiet in church with one, to my dismay), and once he was old enough to put a stop to that, he did.  He started sucking on his middle two fingers around 3 months old.  Visions of braces danced in our heads, so we tried to give him the paci instead.  One night he finally looked at us, grabbed the pacifier out of his mouth, and threw it at us.  On purpose.  Got it, son.  Fingers it is.

He has never been a child that can be distracted with a toy.  I have friends whose babies can be guided to a more appropriate toy or activity by its mere presentation: "Oh no, Timmy, don't chew on that electrical cord!  Here! Look at the shiny baby-appropriate toy!" and problem solved.  Ha!  Ethan views those attempts as either humorous and infuriating, depending on the day, and/or how much he's enjoying the activity you're interrupting.  First, he'll either completely ignore what you're telling/showing him, or look at you, smile sweetly, and then return to whatever shenanigans he's up to.  Then, once you actually take something from him, or remove him from a situation, he throws a fit.  More recently, he's started to learn the sweet art of tantrum throwing: he grits his teeth, tenses up his little arms and legs, arches his back, and turns beet red.  It's a magical time.

Since he's getting old enough that we need to start some form of discipline, I've started to figure out what works with him.  Here's what gets the best results- let him make the choice.  Here's an example of a frequent battle of wills that occurs in our house over the dog bowls.  Getting into them is a no no, since he stuffs his cheeks full of Buddy's food like a chipmunk getting ready for winter, then drinks from/baptizes himself in the water bowl.  He would do this 25 times in a row if I let him!  If I see he's crawling toward the bowls and I just walk over and snatch them up, or close the laundry room door, he flips his lid, wailing and beating his little arms on the door like I've separated him from his one true love.  It's pitiful (and also kinda funny- I really hope I'm not the only mother that has to bite back a smile in the midst of my child's misbehavior...)  But here's what does work:
           - If I follow him over there and wait until he's sitting in front of the bowls, and say, "Ethan...."  He'll freeze. (If there was a caption bubble over his head, it would say, 'If I don't move, she won't see me!"  SO funny).
          - Then I say, "Ethan, no no.  Leave those bowls alone." And he'll look at me and smile, oh so sweetly, and then look back at the bowls, and then back up at me (If there was a caption bubble over his head at this point, it would say, "Look momma, look how sweet I am. Don't you want to let me do this?")
          -Then I say, "No sir, come here," and I squat down to his level- and 9.5 times out of 10, he'll crawl over to me.  And of course, when he does this, I act like he's just done the most awesome thing ever: "Good choice, Ethan!  What good listening!  What a good boy!" Problem solved, no tears.  And I really think the difference is that HE decided for HIMSELF to leave the bowls alone.

This type of disciplining obviously takes longer- it's certainly easier to just go over and close the door (and sometimes, on long days, I cave and do just that- I'm certainly not perfect!).  But I think teaching him to choose the right decision, while more work for me, is best for us.  It works with his strong-willed personality (I'm really against one-size-fits-all punishment- I think you've gotta take your kid's make-up into account), and also sets up the framework we hope to have for future discipline.  In other words, as he gets older, he'll see that any punishment he receives is the result of his active choice to disobey/misbehave, instead of  the result of our whims, bad moods, stress levels, etc, which is really important to me.

INQUISITIVE: In this way, he is definitely Clay's son.  He is constantly trying to figure stuff out!  From infancy, people remarked at how alert he was, and he's still that way- nothing gets by him.  He's like a little scientist- he loves seeing the results of his actions, very into cause and effect these days.  If he sees one of us do something, he tries to replicate it.  He really likes flipping switches, turning knobs, flushing the toilet, turning on faucets, rolling objects across the floor, seeing where he can fit and where he can't...it's so neat to see the world through his eyes in this way. Clay and I always say we wish we knew what he was thinking and saying!  Imagine what we could learn!

I'm loving being this little boy's mommy more and more every day!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

A good parenting tip

I read this quote tonight, and it really spoke to me: "All severity that does not tend to increase good, or prevent evil, is idle."  Samuel Johnson

It just really gets to the heart of why parents discipline and correct their children...or at least why they should be: to increase good and/or decrease evil.  Everything else is a waste of effort.  I hope I use this as a rule of thumb in my own parenting.  I often think that kids are scolded to death, and a lot of what they're doing isn't really wrong...it's just annoying, or isn't what an adult would do, etc.  I'm talking about things like skipping instead of walking through the mall, wanting to wear clothes that don't match somewhere non-important, talking in a funny voice, etc.  I'm certainly not saying parents shouldn't have standards for their children, not at all!  I just need as many "don't sweat the small stuff" reminders as I can get in life, parenting included.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The greatest of these is LOVE

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.
O no, it is an ever-fixèd mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand'ring bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
  If this be error and upon me proved,
  I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

OK, I'm about to English geek it up in here...consider yourself warned!

I have loved Shakespeare's 116th sonnet from the very first time I ever read it; I think I was in middle school.  It is one of the few pieces of literature, with the exception of scripture, that I have memorized, and much like reading a favorite passage of Bible, every time I read it, I get a familiar, cozy feeling.  Now I am usually not one for flowery, lovey-dovey stuff like romantic poetry, but this sonnet is an exception.  The ol' Bard really nails the essence of true love on the head here, without dressing it up with lots of frills and "gag me" over-the-top sentiments.  He's basically saying when you love someone, really love someone, you just love them.  Problems don't stop you from loving them.  You don't change the way you feel about a person you love, or stop loving them if they change, or leave, or even die.  You love them "even to the edge of doom!"  This is  why so many people stay in relationships they know are bad for them, but it's also why good marriages stay together.  Love is a crazy strong bond, a double-edged sword for sure...but that's a different topic for a different time.

I am writing because I heard the sonnet read on TV as I was cleaning the kitchen tonight, and as I listened, I thought about it in a totally different light.  Tonight I heard it as a momma.  It stuck me how the sentiments apply just as aptly to my love for my son, even though my relationship with Ethan is not at all romantic.  There is a lot about this world that I do not know, but I know this much is true: there is no limit to how much I love that crazy little man, no amount of "tempests" he can throw at me that will make me ever stop loving him.   I pray all the time that Ethan will make good decisions as he grows older, but even if (perhaps when) he doesn't, I want him to know that his place in my heart, in our family, is "an ever-fixed mark."

And as I stood at the sink thinking about my love for my child, I started to think about God's love for us, His children (my thoughts are usually one big stream-of-consciousness spaghetti platter- everything flows into everything else).  That lyric, "Oh love that will not let me go," came to mind, and I had a thought: every ounce of love I am blessed to experience on this earth, be it friendship, familial, or romantic, is just a mere reflection of God's love for me.  This morning in the Tuesday morning ladies Bible study I go to, someone mentioned that the Bible, boiled down to its simplest form, is just a great big love story- a God who gave up everything again and again for a relationship.  And I've never really thought about it that way before, but it's true.  Christ told us that our primary job as Christians is to just love people like He would.  I say "just" love them, but oh, what a task that is when you think about the way Christ loved.  That means not judging, not giving people what they "deserve," not keeping score, not holding grudges, not getting tired, never giving up...whew!  And it's not just in my own life!  On top of all that, I've been entrusted with this precious baby's heart as well, to make sure that he grows up knowing God's love for him just as much as my own.  It would be overwhelming if I thought I had to do it on my own!  Thank God I don't!

It never ceases to amaze me how completely humbling motherhood is- raising a HUMAN is a BIG STINKIN' DEAL!!  Never before has the fact that I can't do it all on my own, much less do it all right, been more apparent in my life, but it's exactly what I need right now in my walk.  I love that as I get closer to Ethan, I also get closer to God- I'm enjoying the ride!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Some pictures of my sweet boy, in no particular order

Apparently, Ethan is a fellow tooth-brushing fanatic?! He gets it from me- I won "Best Brusher Award" many times at my orthodontist's office.  Can't believe I just bragged about that. HA! 

This mischievous little devil  found the extra Easter grass in a SEALED Ziploc bag, in a SEALED  gift-wrap box.  I couldn't believe my eyes when I walked in and saw this!  He was so proud of himself, and I was pretty impressed!! :-)

This picture makes me giggle.  What a FACE!  Still don't know what that expression is!  Also, this shows his love of dog toys, which he prefers to his own.

This was the first time Ethan ran a high fever.  He randomly got a 103-104 degree fever in the middle of the afternoon one day, and battled it for about 4 days.  The fever was the only symptom, and the doctors couldn't figure out what the deal was.  Anyhow, we knew he wasn't feeling like himself because he was sleepy and cuddly, which is SO not like him.  He's normally a little whirlwind of activity.  Even though I hate that he was sick, I love this picture.  Seeing Clay with our son like this makes my heart just swell.

Another mischievous look.  Cups are one of his favorite things to play with.  They roll across the floor (and he chases), and they echo when he "talks" into them.  He also likes to drink from them (when we're helping).

My happy boy!

Lots of pictures look like this because he's always on the go!  He's gotten everything down except for independent walking.

Shielding himself from the mommarazzi! ;-) 

It absolutely thrills me that Ethan enjoys reading!  The book above, Toes, Ears, and Nose is one of his favorites these days.  He loves to look at books on his own, and loves to be read to- it's pretty much the only way I can get in any snuggle time, because he will not sit still while being held otherwise!  I really hope he continues to enjoy books, because I sure do!

Ethan is into appliances.  Well, I should rephrase that- Ethan likes trying to GET INTO appliances.  He tries to climb into the dishwasher and fridge every single time they're opened.  I'm a fanatic about keeping him away from the stove, or I'm sure he'd be all over that too!  Perhaps this means he'll enjoy doing the dishes one day?  I hope so!

Look at that face- ferocious!  I've never seen a kid eat the way Ethan does!  As my mom says, "That kid can put away some groceries!"  Everyone remarks on it.  Homeboy has never met a food he doesn't like, and if you are eating in front of him, you'd better be prepared to share, or you're going to hear about it!  It's crazy- he stole a cupcake from the baby he sat next to at his friend Raleigh's first birthday party.  He regularly takes Puffs away from the kids he sits next to in Sunday School.  I promise, he eats at home, but he's still a little food bandit!  And he has never stopped eating on his own- it's only been when the food has run out.  And let me tell you, if the food runs out before he's ready to stop, he'll yell until he gets more! Maybe he has a hollow leg?!  Now that he's getting teeth, there's going to be no holding him back!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Well it's official- I fail at blogging!

Ethan is now 10 months old.  Aaaaaand the last time I posted an update on our sweet man was when he was 5 months old.  Thus the title.  Truth be told, I know exactly why my postings have been so spotty.  It's not that I've forgotten about the blog.  No, quite the contrary!  I can't tell you how many postings have been thought out, down to the pictures that will accompany them!  But (and this is a big BUT), I keep waiting until I can sit down and really concentrate on writing something well.  Something witty.  Something with a good layout, with plenty of pictures.  Ha.  All of you fellow mommas out there, especially the veterans, are probably clutching your sides with laughter at this point.  "Silly girl!  Don't you know that once you have a baby, free time becomes either a thing of the past!?"  Yes, I think I am finally beginning to learn.

It's not that I literally don't have free time...there's just a lot less of it, and it certainly looks a lot different today than it did this time last year! For example, when I do have a free moment (also known as the blessed, holy nap), a Sophie's Choice decision usually presents itself: should I do what I want to do, or what I should do?  While it is definitely a much simpler thing to scrub a toilet without a bebe climbing up my legs, chanting "Mamamamamama," I also prefer to drink a cup of coffee relaxed on the couch, while reading or catching up on DVRed TV shows, instead of blearily gulping it down with one hand, while feeding the wee one breakfast.  And so the choice presents itself: what do I do with that morning nap hour?  This type of decision making occurs during the afternoon nap as well.  And with the exception of those 2-4 hours of the day, I am a full-time baby entertainer!  So perhaps you can see how blogging has not quite made it to the top of the list.  :-)  If nothing else, my 2 month blog absence serves as a testament to how busy life with Ethan has become.  That's not a complaint, just the truth!

So I've decided that in order to be successful at this blogging thing, a shift in focus needs to occur.  Instead of waiting until I have the time to do it "right," I am going to work on squeezing in little postings whenever I can.  After all, it's not as though I'm being graded on this thing!  I am such a perfectionist freak that I've been treating my own blog, which probably has 3.5 readers total, as something that needed to be done, instead of something to enjoy.  And Lord knows a new mother like myself should not, I repeat should not, be adding things to her own to-do list!  And so I am going to make a very conscious effort to change that.  Here's proof: every single bone in my body wants to make this a massive catch-up post, in an attempt to make up for my wayward blogging ways. I want to write about every single milestone achieved, fun trip taken, and memory made within the past 5 months.  I really do.  I'm so neurotic, I even know exactly how I would do it!  I would divide it by month, with headings like "6 months," and "7 months"-- there would be pictures to accompany all of the text-- it would be lovely!  It would also take 19 years, and would put me even more behind, thus propagating a vicious cycle of perfectionist self-loathing, a constant dance of one step forward and two steps back.  So I'm not. going. to. do. it.  I will post a few pictures, hit a few highlights, and move on!    

I've actually had to have a very similar shift in focus-- a relaxing of standards, you might say-- in all areas of my life since becoming a mother.  I can no longer spend an entire day cleaning my house from top to bottom; instead, I've had to learn how to tackle chores quickly and creatively, fitting them in when I can.  Does this mean that my baseboards might stay dirty longer than I'd like them to? Yes. (My inner Monica is actually screaming YES!!)  But did the world implode?  No.  I know I've said this before, but one of the most unexpected benefits that came with motherhood (aside from Ethan) has been a forced recognition of my own limits.  From the first moment I learned I was expecting (not planned!), I have learned more and more that some things are out of my control- that I have to let go.  Granted, I've never actually been able to do it all, or control it all, but having Ethan has forced me to realize that I shouldn't even try to!  And although I can't change who I am- I'll probably always want to tackle one too many things- Ethan forces me to look at things from a new perspective, which is a good thing, even if it's uncomfortable for me.

So! Here's the "Cliff's Notes" guide to what's occurred in the interim, in no particular order:
- We cheered on Clay in his first marathon!  So proud of him!  Now he's working on training for a triathlon.
- Ethan went from scooting on his belly, army crawl style, to crawling, to pulling up and cruising along furniture!
- We went to the beach a few times- Ethan loved every single thing about it, just like his momma and daddy!
- Ethan graduated from purees to feeding himself small bites of food (I just dice everything now).  He has yet to taste anything he doesn't like.  The boy even eats crazy things like pickles, curries, even LEMONS if we let him!
- Ethan gained his first uncle!  We went to Tennessee to be a part of Rachel and Jason's wedding earlier this month- it was lovely!
- Friends have moved away, loved ones have passed away, but God is still good.
- Ethan attended his very first birthday party!  Also tasted his first cupcake.  He stole the cupcake of the kid next to him soon after.  Suffice it to say he was a fan of frosting! :-)
- He went to his first Easter egg hunt, and sat on the Easter bunny's lap.  Truth be told, he wasn't that impressed with any of it, with the exception of the crinkly Easter basket grass.
- We toured and enrolled Ethan in the "Mother's Morning Out" program at  FUMC - starting in August he'll go 2 days a week, from 9 am- 1 pm.  I know he'll love it!
-Ethan started distinctly saying "Ma ma" and "Deh deh"- other than that it's just a lot of squeals, screams, and sounds.  He's making the rolling "r" sound (like in Spanish class) all the time these days!  Cracks us up (I think he likes feeling his new teeth).
- He has 4 teeth, and more on the way!
- At his 9 month well-baby check up he weighed 20 lbs 2 oz (only 50th%, but he looks like such a little chunk!) and was 27 3/4 inches tall (about the 33rd%)

Well, it's been about an hour, and Ethan will be waking up soon, so I am going to go relax for a bit.  Pictures to follow!

Ha!

"Although our house is entirely baby-proofed and filled with a veritable smorgasbord of toys, she wants exactly what she can’t have. If it can maim or kill her, if it contains red wine or hot coffee and can be spilled on a carpet, a piece of electronic equipment or her head, if it can destroy a plant or some small piece of our adult happiness, she wants it."

Read this quote in a magazine- cracked me up!  Ethan is the same exact way!  Homeboy's naughty escapades include (but are not limited to): joyfully dumping Buddy's water bowl all over the floor and/or all over himself, and splashing in the aftermath -- shattering a glass (he pulled up on the side table, which had previously been way too tall for him, outta nowhere!) -- dumping out and playing in the contents of small trashcans -- trying to climb into the refrigerator and dishwasher -- secretly munching on remnants of charcoal from outdoor grill (found on patio)-- finding a tiny, mostly empty bottle of lotion, unscrewing its top, and smearing its contents all over himself...  you get the idea!

And lest you fear for Ethan's well-being (and before you get the phone to alert DFCS!), let me assure you, I have been right there for every single one of these events!  That's what's so impressive/amusing/crazy about it- it's not as though I ran out to my car for something, or went to check the mail.  These things happen  when I've just turned my back, or have walked out of the room to do something superquick, like put something in the dishwasher.  Little man is a ninja when it comes to trouble-making!  He certainly keeps me on my toes, but life with him is such a joy- wouldn't have it any other way!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Mothering and Faith

Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.
Elizabeth Stone

Ethan was a "surprise" baby.  A very welcome surprise, not at all outside of what we had planned would "eventually" happen, and certainly the best gift we've ever received, but a surprise nonetheless.  Given that, I am happy to thankfully report that due to some combination of God's grace, what I'm sure is pure dumb luck (our kid is pretty easy to get along with), and our very best efforts as newbie parents, we've gotten into the groove of raising this little tyke pretty well and are all getting along quite swimmingly.  We've made it through 8 months without any major meltdowns or blow-ups, and Clay and I are constantly remarking to one another how it feels like he's been here all along.  Now I am definitely not trying to brag, and I'm certainly not counting my chickens before they hatch- I realize that it is the height of hubris to pat yourself on the back before a child is fully mobile or verbal!  I just mean to say that it just feels completely natural to be Ethan's momma, to be this little family of three, and I absolutely love that.  However, it goes without saying that even on it's best day, motherhood throws some curve balls at a girl, some more expected than others; in my case, the biggest one has been that motherhood has actually rocked my faith a little bit. I don't even know if I can explain this accurately...

I recently read something in Parents magazine that REALLY resonated with me.  I remember feeling relieved to read on paper that someone else knew exactly what I had been secretly wrestling with for months.  Here it is: "Worry is part of the dark underbelly of parenthood, the flip side of joy, pride, and fulfillment. The part they never really warn you about — that you’ll discover a fate worse than your own death. Worrying is right up there with providing food and buying cute dinosaur pajamas.”

I mean, wow.  Even now, I can't read that line without emphatically nodding my head!  Before having Ethan, painful contractions, sleepless nights, and horrendous diapers, all not-so-fun aspects of parenting, were frequent topics of conversation at baby showers and girly lunch get-togethers, and yet NO ONE EVER TOLD ME ABOUT THIS!  Don't get me wrong- I don't live in fear and worry. It is not my dwelling place.  But before having Ethan, I never went there.  I just wasn't a worrier.  Part of that might be because I have been extraordinarily blessed to have lived, thus far, a tragedy-free life.  But I think a greater part of it is that I have not, until now, really had anything in my life that I would ever even think to worry about.  And now, there's this little person that literally came from me, through me, who will be walking around in the world without me (a.k.a. outside of the realm of my control) for a large portion of his life.  Heck, even when he's with me, he isn't bullet-proof!  Children die every single day and Ethan could be one of them.  My son could be badly hurt.  He could lose his life.  I might not get to see him grow up, and there's nothing I can do about it.  When I stop to really think about that, it scares the bejeezus out of me!  It fills me with a paralyzing, nauseating feeling unlike anything I have ever experienced.  Now, news stories about complete strangers losing their children bring me to tears, because I can't stop thinking, "That could happen to me."

Now.  Let me pause to say I already know the way I should feel, the Christian way I should look at this.  That Ethan is not now, and never was "mine" to begin with- he belongs to God.  And who am I to not have to suffer when my God Himself lost his one and only son, not to mention the countless Christians around the world who suffer and lose loved ones every day?  What makes me think that I should be so special?  I know that faith involves trusting God even when, especially when, your world is rocked.  And yes, there are just as many days that having a child reaffirms my faith in God in a HUGE way, and opens my eyes to a completely new perspective of my walk with Him. In a lot of ways, being a mother has drawn me closer to God than ever before.  And I say all that to say, even though I know all that, I still feel like if anything ever happened to Ethan, I would be mad, really MAD, at God.

That sentence was really hard for me to write- it has taken me a while to admit that I feel that way even to myself, much less to God (which is laughable, the idea of hiding my heart from someone who lives there)!  For a born and raised Church of Christ girl, it seems, well, unseemly, to openly acknowledge that I might feel anything other than the traditionally appropriate emotions toward God: gratitude, love, humility, etc.  And I do feel all of those things! Every day, I look at my precious little boy and think, "Thank you, God, for blessing me with this child."  I am constantly overwhelmed by the fact that God has entrusted me with the heart of one of His own, and know that I depend wholly on His grace and guidance to get the job done at all!  But all of that still doesn't stop me from feeling those other, darker emotions, too.

So.  Where does that leave me?  I don't exactly know.  But I do take comfort in the fact that I am not, after all, alone in feeling that way.  Plenty of Biblical heroes struggled with trusting God too, so at least I am in good company.  For now, I've decided to just be honest- to share those feelings with God (and others) rather than trying to hide them in an effort to make them go away.  And this blog is the first step.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wreaker of Havoc

aka, my son.  As Ethan gets older, I'm quickly learning that with increased mobility comes increased challenges to mama.  In our case, this is especially apparent on the changing table, where Ethan likes to make once simple tasks, like getting him dressed, or changing his diaper, into Olympic events, complete with punches, kicks, twists, turns, and any other physical motions he feels like throwing in there.  He grabs my sweater and puts it in his mouth, he swipes the Desitin and tosses it to the floor, he knocks down anything within reach..it's crazy!  When he really gets going, he's like a bucking bronco!  And I've tried to hold him down, but until I can become a literal octo-mom, as in I actually have eight arms, resistance appears to be futile!  So for now I guess I'll just laugh and enjoy the show. :-)

By the way, this clip is just a small snippet of his usual shenanigans...but you'll get the drift!  Oh, and please pardon the stuffy nose- I am battling a gnarly sinus infection (yet again...)

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Splish, splash...

...Ethan's takin' a bath!  Tonight we packed up Ethan's baby bath tub (sniff sniff, no I'm not crying, why do you ask?) It's been coming for about a month..as soon as he learned to sit up, he no longer reclined in the tub.  Instead, he would sit bolt upright balancing on that little seat, which, since it was angled for babies who were leaning back, looked uncomfortable and more importantly, unstable!  So tonight we decided we'd try him in the regular (or as we called it, "big boy") bath tub.  He LOVED it!  Check it out!

This is FUN!  I'm a big boy now!
LOVE those wet eyelashes


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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Top 10

Clay and I had a fun discussion about this last night...in the realm of eating and drinking, what are your top ten, all time favorite, life is better because of them, items?  Keep in mind, these are not desert island picks (in other words, you don't need to worry about staying alive on these 10), and they don't have to be the things you eat or drink the most frequently- we're talking about the things that you love, adore, and relish every time you partake of them.  And you have to be specific (makes it harder)!  Clay rattled his off pretty quickly, but I had a much harder time, because I enjoy food so much...it was like asking me to choose a favorite child!  I guess when you're as picky as Clay, it's an easier task.  ;-)  Anyhow, many things I love (like peanut butter!  and yogurt with granola! and lemon sorbet!) did not make the cut, but here's where we landed last night.  I'm sure if we talked about it again tonight, the list would change.

My picks:

1-Bacon
2-Caramelized Onions
3-Peppermint ice cream
4-Apples
5-Gruyere cheese
6-Dark chocolate
7-Coffee
8- Blackberry pie, a la mode
9- Dried cranberries
10- A good margarita

Clay's picks:

1-Bacon (see folks, this is why we're married!  We've got similar interests, haha!)
2-Fettuccine Alfredo
3-His mom's breaded steak, which is pretty much the only thing I cannot successfully accomplish in my kitchen.
4-Red wine
5-Coffee (again...we complete each other)
6-Grapes
7-Queso and chips
8-A good burger (his is lettuce and cheese only, which in my book, does not deserve the label "good," but hey, it's not my list...)
9-Macaroni and cheese
10-Sushi

What about y'all?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

5 months old!? My sweet E!? ALREADY!? How can this BE!?

I just realized my title rhymes.  How clever am I? :-)

I cannot believe that my Ethan is already 5 months old.  I can still remember every second of the day he was born like it was yesterday.  I know that sounds cliche, but it's true!  The thing that is so wonderful and surprising is that this motherhood thing just keeps getting better!  Just when I think he can't possibly get any cuter, or be any more fun, he goes and does it!  He is just a big ball of sunshine- smiley, laughing, and playful.  I am so blessed to be able to spend my days with him!  Every morning when I hear him stirring in his crib, usually before the sun is even up, I groggily stumble to his crib wishing coffee could be taken intravenously.  But then he SMILES and I'm instantly, happily awake.  And it's not just a run of the mill, generic smile- he lifts his eyebrows and makes this face that looks like he means to say, "Hey mama!  It's YOU!  I'm so glad you came to get me up!"  He's the most wonderful alarm clock a person could ask for.

Sweet boy
Here are some of the new stats on our guy: at his 4 month check up he weighed 15 1/2 lbs, and was 24 3/4  inches long, which puts him in the 75th percentile for weight and the 50th for height.  I think he might have inherited my looooong torso, because although he fits into his clothes, the pants always seem a bit long for him.  Hopefully male clothing will be a lot friendlier to that body type; growing up I had a terrible time finding certain types of clothes.  Let's just say "low rise" jeans were TOO low on me!

Looking too cute in his snazzy outfit.  I love love love love LOVE that sweet grin!
He is still very chatty, and has added squealing LOUDLY to his vocal reportoire.  For some reason he really gets going any time he's on the changing table.  And he's really laughing now too, which obviously delights us.  It makes us feel like he might like us just as much as we like him! ;-)

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He has accomplished a few more "firsts" since I last posted...this list is in order of when they occurred (from 4 months to 5 months):

First time traveling: visiting Florida at Christmas.  Although I didn't get any pictures of our actual Christmas, here's a picture of Ethan and Clay at the tree lot!

As you can see, Ethan is absolutely thrilled to be a part of the selection process...
First time eating solid food: rice cereal.  He LOVED it! Made a big mess the first time, since he was getting the hang of the spoon, and you have to make it so watery for the first time (he definitely does better with it when it's thicker), but he has eaten it like a champ ever since.  I didn't originally plan to give him solids at 4 months (I figured we'd wait until he was 6 months), but it got to where any time Clay or I ate anything, the kid would watch us like a hawk!  I am not kidding, his little eyes just bored holes into us...so I got the message that he might be ready, ha ha!

The aftermath
First time rolling continuously.  He mastered flipping from tummy to back at 2 months, and back to tummy at 3 months, but something clicked at month 4, and he realized he could put the two together and MOVE!

First time using his exersaucer.  It was so funny, the first time he got in it, you could tell he is an engineer's son.  He examined every inch of that thing, like he needed to understand how it worked before he could play in it.  I love this precious look of concentration!

Fascinated!  Can't you just see the little cogs in his head turning?
First time using his jumper.  This was a Hallelujah moment for me as a mama.  Dinner time had become the most fraught part of my day because Clay wasn't home yet, I was trying to get things done in the kitchen, but still entertain Ethan, who was winding down for the day (read: getting fussy), and believe it or not, hard kitchen floors aren't the best for baby play.  Thankfully, my parents sent the jumper, which was immediately installed in the doorway between our kitchen and dining room, where it is used every. single. day.  I love it!!  It keeps Ethan safe and in my line of vision, while keeping him entertained and happy, HANDS FREE!  Luckily, Ethan likes it too.  It's funny, because for about the first month he didn't really jump in it...he just kinda swung around in it, batting at the toys.  In fact, the first time he actually jumped, it must have been an accident- I turned around because I heard him jump, and he looked so surprised!  But now that he's learned how to do it, he goes to town!

You can't see me, but I'm in the background doing a dance of celebration! :-)
First time eating fruit: I chose nature's super-food, the mighty avocado!  I am making Ethan's baby food, and this was the best option all around for my first try!  It is a rock star nutritionally, but you also can't find an easier food to make baby friendly.  All I had to do was mash it up, add a tad bit of water to thin it out, smush it through a strainer, and voila!  Baby food!  Ethan loved it, just like me!  I like to imagine that some sweet day the two of us will gorge ourselves on tortilla chips and guacamole together! ;-) 

First time sitting up!  He is all but mastered this skill.  The picture below shows him with his Boppy behind him for support, but he really doesn't use it at all.  These days we sit him down without it, and with the exception of a few times (like if he reaches too far to one side, he'll roll down), he stays up on his own!

Smiling at daddy!


That's about all I have to report for now.  I am going to try to be better about posting more frequently.  It's my neurotic nature- I feel like I need to get everything just right before I post, and with a 5 1/2 month old, there's not much time for that kind of perfectionism.  Going forward I hope to focus more on just capturing the little things that I'll want to remember when we're older, and not worry so much about stupid things like the dang number of spaces between the photos and the text! Yes, I do pay attention to that kind of stuff, and yes, I think God sent me a strong-willed child to teach me how to relinquish control.  Until next time! :-)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Holiday whirlwind, 2010

So remember how I promised a massive post was coming soon?  Well that was two weeks ago...yeah, I fail.  I seriously under-estimated how busy the holidays were going to be...or seriously over-estimated how productive I'd be.  Take your pick!  Nonetheless, I completely missed Ethan's 4 month post and the holiday posts I'd planned to write.  Bummer.  Never fear, though- I am going to do a quick catch up and get right back on the wagon. :-)

Thanksgiving 2010 was absolutely lovely!  We hosted it at our house and both sides of our family came up (having the first and only grandbaby provides a bit of leverage, heh heh).  I cooked the entire meal from scratch and loved it! I really liked being able to put my own spin on the Thanksgiving classics, and I'm pleased to say that everything turned out great.  My one regret is that I didn't get one. single. picture.  Of anything!  Not the food, not the people, not even of Ethan in his precious little Thanksgiving onesie!  I set a beautiful table with rented linens and fresh flowers and fall leaves...not one picture to show off!  So here's the menu I used: I decided that since I'm the only person in our family who eats dark meat (they're all crazies!), a whole turkey would go to waste.  So I bought a breast and made a turkey roulade, a la Ina Garten (you basically roll up the turkey breast around the stuffing, like a jelly roll).  I'm telling you, if loving that woman is wrong, I don't wanna be right!  The stuffing had sausage, pine nuts, mushrooms...oh, it was so so good!  I also made mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce using the recipes of another woman I love, The Pioneer Woman, Gran's yeast rolls (which I was the most intimidated about because she doesn't use recipes), roasted brussels sprouts, roasted carrots and parsnips, and gravy.  And for dessert THREE (count that, THREE) pies: apple, for my beloved; pecan, for my dad; and pumpkin, because the Bible says you've gotta have something pumpkin on Thanksgiving.  OK, so I lied about that.  But it is a pretty set in stone rule in my family.  I loved spending the day in the kitchen, and having my whole family around one table, laughing and talking.  But do you know what I loved even more?  My mom and mother-in-law were like little kitchen elves who spirited away every. single. dirty. dish.  These dainty little hands of mine touched nary a sud of dish soap.  It was magical.  I wish I had that kind of service all the time! :-)

Christmas was also great, but yet again, I did not take a single picture.  Ironically, I made extra sure to bring our camera AND the camera battery charger, because I just knew we were going to be taking SO many pictures it'd need to be recharged...oh, well.  You know what they say about the best laid plans!  I just got so caught up in the moment, I didn't stop to think about a camera until it was too late.  Hey, it happens to John Mayer too.  In all seriousness though, I hate that I don't have pictures of Ethan's first Christmas!  Luckily, I've got lots of memories, but it still bums me out.  NEXT TIME I will get the camera out before everything starts.  Or better yet, I will delegate camera duties to someone who isn't a primary caregiver!  Anyhow, the trip to Tampa was Ethan's first time away from home, and he traveled like a champ.  We left as soon as it got dark (around 6), in the hopes that since he sleeps through the night at home, he'd sleep the whole way down...and he did, there and back!  It made for a very quick trip- we've never made such good time (Clay and I usually stop, but didn't this time for fear of waking the babe). I wish I could say he slept as well while we were actually there- let's just say a Pack-n-Play is no substitute for a real crib.  And I forgot the noise machine, which I think helps him sleep better too.  But even though he was waking up more than normal, we all still got plenty of sleep.  He had a couple of nasty teething days toward the end of the trip- I felt so bad for him!  Although he'd been teething for at least a month (the drool all over everything I possess is proof), he hadn't really had any gum pain until then.  Thank goodness for Oragel!  But the crazy thing is that he hasn't had any since...?  I don't know what's up with that, but I'm certainly not complaining. 
 
So, since the 2010 holidays were photographically an epic fail for me, this will be a picture-free post.  But my next post will be Ethan's 4/5 month update, so it'll be FULL of photos, since I take lots of pictures when it isn't that important! ;-)  Stay tuned!!