So Different

Baby_2Baby One was one tough customer. Don’t believe me? You know how the nurses offer to take your wee newborn baby into the nursery for the first night or so so that you can get some rest? Well, the nurses brought him back to me after an hour and told me he was waking up the other babies. That set the tone for about one year of sleep issues. (Oddly enough, after a week-long cry-it-out session at 11 months, he has slept through the night ever since. Weird.)

This little guy, however, is an absolute angel. In the hospital, they only brought him back to me when it was time to eat at night. Why? Because he SLEEPS AT NIGHT. What a concept. He also sleeps in his bassinet / crib. (We have moved him into our room in a small crib.) At nearly six months old, he goes to bed at about 8:00, sleeps until 3:30 or so, has a snack, then sleeps again until about 7:30. Bliss! I even let him sleep with me after his early-morning snack…because everyone loves a baby snuggle, especially baby.

I suspected that Baby One’s sleep habits were not of my own doing – that he slept / didn’t sleep according to his own feisty nature. And I was right. Even from infancy, we have so little control over who they are as people and what they’re like.

They are who they are. And they are so different already.

Stealing Moments

08_19_2013 (203 of 1)We live many, many miles away from any of Blaine’s grandparents. My parents come out from California to visit a fair amount since they have a place about 2 hours away in the mountains. But they don’t visit often enough for Blaine to really, really know them. When we do see them, Blaine doesn’t seem to remember them and the results just break my heart. I envy those who not only have free childcare, but children who know and adore their grandparents. Blaine? Not so much.

But we may have turned a corner last week. My mom came to visit for three days (mind you, we just got back from two weeks of visiting in July) and stayed to play. At first, Blaine was nervous about being left alone with his Nonni, as if she was going to steal him away or, even worse, I would abandon him to her care so that I could get a haircut or go to the grocery store without bringing a pacifying cup of raisins with me.

By the second and third day, however, he was pretty happy to play with Nonni while I went off to (gasp!) visit the restroom by myself, work on dinner, or even run a quick errand. And the highlight of the weekend was watching my mom dance with my baby boy like she did with me all those years ago. He loved it. She loved it. I loved it.

It is so hard to see your children not appreciate your parents (and their unending grandparent love) like you want them to. I am desperately hoping that when my dad comes in a few weeks that Blaine will take to him like a monkey to a banana, but I know the odds are slim. He’s a shy little guy, and grandpa is not much more than a stranger to him. I know that later on in life, when he’s older, he will recognize my parents more readily and he will be more excited to see them…but for the time being, it breaks my heart when he cries as they try to love him.

Oddly enough, my sister said that she applied techniques that she read in ‘The Cat Whisperer’ to meeting Blaine:

  1. Don’t make eye contact at first.
  2. Let him come to you.
  3. Use a soft voice.
  4. Don’t try to pick him up.
  5. Offer up a treat or toy.

Seriously, my kid is like an ornery kitten. But it totally works. He loves her.

Life Lately: Our Big Boy / Girl Pants

When I took Blaine to his one-year appointment at the pediatrician’s office in March, our doctor was overjoyed to hear that we were expecting another baby. (She knows how hard we tried for Blaine.) At some point in the conversation, though, she urged me not to force Blaine to be a “big boy” too soon. Even though he’ll be a big brother, he’s still a baby, too.

Say what?

Mama can only handle one baby at a time. Literally. For six weeks after my scheduled C-section in October (joy), I won’t be able to pick up my little quarter-pounder. I need him to grow up a little…just a little. Since that appointment, he’s learned to walk on his own, which has been a tremendous help. But I still need him to learn to be a little more independent. Time at home in California has taught me that I maaaayyyyy just coddle him a little too much. I let him pull me to my feet to help him with something that I know he can do by himself. I hold / carry him at the drop of a hat. (Obviously, when things get rough or he needs a hug, I will be there. But when he gets mad at me for saying “no” and then wants me to hold him…not so much.) And I’m quick to give him his pacifier when he’s upset or grumpy. (It’s in almost every photo of our trip.)

Old Trusty.

Old Trusty.

So lately, we (and I do mean “we” – I’m training myself to not give in as often) have been weaning off of two things: a.) being held when he could walk or explore, and b.) using his pacifier instead of observing, relaxing, and engaging in a situation. So far, I give us both a B+. Except for naps and when he first wakes up, he hasn’t really missed the paci. (Side note: he’s also babbling a lot more with his free mouth, which is good!)  And he’s learning to accept my hand as an alternative to my entire upper-torso. Much more convenient.

A paci, a cracker, and Mr. Monkeybritches. One of these things has to go...

A pacifier, a cracker, and Mr. Monkeybritches (a sock monkey whose leg can be barely seen). One of these comfort items has to go…

 

I don’t want him to grow up too early, but I do want us all to be happy, healthy, and well-adjusted by the time Baby Brother arrives in the fall. That gives us 8 more weeks of practice for the day when I’m so exhausted from sleep deprivation and 3 a.m. feedings that I can’t pick up anyone but myself, let alone locate a missing pacifier. (It’s under the couch.)

Linking up with ‘Wild and Precious’ today – check out some other fun stuff going on in their lives!

This is Me: Self Portrait

I am linking up with ‘While Wearing Heels’ today for an assignment that I’ve been debating for a few days. I’m none too keen on having my picture taken, but I do feel compelled to share the difficulties of retaining your sense of “self” during pregnancy / motherhood. I have not been in the mood to star in any self-portraits lately, seeing as how it’s been 90+ degrees outside, I’m pregnant (read: 20 pounds heavier), and proper blow-drying and styling of my hair is woefully infrequent.

But then I remembered back to my angsty, faux-artsy high-school days, when self-portraits could be abstract, mysterious, and symbolic. So, I decided to compromise:

Self_Portrait (1 of 1)

I call this – ‘The Balancing Act’. Right now, I’m balancing all of my old and new loves in life with my pregnancy. I LOVE being pregnant with my second little boy. Every kick in the groin is a gift – truly. But no matter how appreciative you are of being pregnant, I’ve learned that it’s hard to give up little bits of who you are. I am an avid biker and runner (hence the bike pump perched on top of the books and journals), but don’t get to enjoy that much these days. But I do get to drink my favorite tea, collect rocks by the river with my little man, enjoy being a toddler mom, and read when I get the chance. The quote came from a pithy little charm that I picked up at a craft store. It’s not deep, it’s just true. Balance.

For another great self-portrait, check out Bonnie’s at ‘A Compass Rose’. She’s good, real good.

Nailed It!

Painting (1 of 2)

The highly professional tools of my trade.

I don’t know about you, but one of the things that I struggle with as a new (after a year, am I still new?) stay-at-home-mom is the feeling of not being productive. I used to work 10-hour days and produce a vast number of projects before B: student essays, school-wide events, wedding photographs, even firsts drafts of books! But with baby in tow, it becomes a lot harder to create, craft, produce, or participate. (How’s that for some alliterative poetics?)

So I am particularly pleased when I actually make something that isn’t just consumed at the dinner table. I love the work of an artist in Salida who runs a shop called Art and Salvage, and bought one lovely painting from her. She inspired me to try my own because, well, I can’t really afford to buy another one of her paintings just yet…and I thought it would be fun to try anyway.

So I did.

And here it is in all its glory.

It took four partial naptimes and two evening sessions. It was actually a really great project for doing step-by-step because you have to let one layer of paint dry before you can go on to the next one. I’m very happy with my first try as a painter and may just try another one soon. I’m not sure how some mamas manage to have complete Etsy businesses, create quilted masterpieces, or make their own almond milk from scratch. Maybe I’m just not motivated / organized / serious enough. But for now, I am happy with my one little painting that says a little bit about who I am as a person, not just a mom.

I like bikes.

I like bikes.

Learning

It does a mommy’s heart good when she teaches her baby something new. A few weeks ago I taught B how to identify doggy doo in the backyard so that he would learn to avoid it. So far, he’s only stepped in it once since then. I call that success. Daddy had his own little moment of joy today when he brought B into the garden to pick strawberries, and, wouldn’t you know it, the little tyke remembered (after only two times before) to pick the red ones, take off the green top, and pop it into his cavernous mouth. Daddy was astounded. I’m becoming used to him doing things like this – after I showed him once how to use a whistle, he found it a few days later and immediately put it to his mouth and began to blow. Genius! My baby is a genius all right. (For the record, I want you to know I originally spelled “genius” wrong twice in the last sentence. Fair disclosure.)

06_16_2013 (2 of 8)

06_16_2013 (3 of 8)

It is amazing how fast they learn and what they’re picking up even when you don’t know you’re putting it down, hypothetically and not hypothetically speaking. Makes me realize I need to watch my words and behavior even more closely. Or at least stop saying “crapstick” so often.

Why Am I Surprised?

The culprit.

The culprit.

Ahhh, the monthly weigh-in. I am well aware that society’s obsession with an unattainable body shape has been poisoning my mind for the better part of 20 years. Knowing that does not make it go away. I wouldn’t say that I “struggle” with my weight so much as am always conscious of it. I own a ridiculous number of jeans because my weight can vary about 5-10 pounds depending on what’s going on in my life, what season it is, and whether or not City Market is stocking Mexican Chocolate ice cream. I don’t usually weigh myself and just grab the next size up pair of jeans if I’m feeling particularly breathless when buttoning up. Pregnancy, however, necessitates one of the greatest enemies known to woman: monthly weight checks.

Maybe it’s the fact that I feed Blaine every few hours and tend to snack on a few too many goldfish and animal crackers myself. Maybe it’s the week that I ran out of my 2% milk and had whole milk in my cereal. And with dinner. Maybe it’s my sister sending me cookies to photograph for our other sister’s personalized cookie-cookbook-wedding-gift. (She’s lucky they last long enough to get photographed.) I don’t know. But the fact remains that from my last appointment, I have gained seven pounds for a total of 18 pounds already – and I’m only at 24 weeks. Allegedly the baby only weighs one pound or so, which seems a little on the conservative side considering it appears to be the size of a bowling ball. Go figure.

Sigh. My husband tells me I look gorgeous (though his motives are always suspect), everyone says I look “great” (though nobody criticizes a pregnant woman unless they want to be punched in the face), and I don’t feel particularly large…except in the belly region. I tell myself to just accept it and move on after baby is born. But I’m just not sure when I’m going to be able to run / bike / walk in between feedings / naps / going crazy. The battle continues.

The result. I always seem to be on the upper side of uh-oh.

The result. I always seem to be on the upper side of uh-oh. Also, why would you Tweet this? I’m stumped.