Lil snippets

***

Addie’s counting goes something like this:

“1…2…4…5…” It always ends with a clap.

 

***

The other morning I went in to the kids’ rooms (separated by glass French doors) and found Zack sitting next to Addie in her crib, rubbing her head and giving her kisses and saying, “It’s OK, baby, It’s OK.”

Now THAT is a great start to your day.

 

***

 

I’ve returned to writing. Very minimally.

As a freelancer for the Life section (human interest/features) of the newspaper where I used to work.

My first three stories are under my belt.

It’s good to be back.

 

 

***

 

A couple of weeks ago, I took a last-minute trip two hours away with a friend. And came back with a soul sister. The reasons were not what I wanted — I mean, I’d much prefer a fun story about Chip ‘n’ Dales or a few shots of tequila. But 11 a.m. margaritas and deciding who the man in the relationship was is almost just as good, maybe better.

Where’s the parking garage?

I brought a notebook!

 

***

 

Whenever Addie is stuck (which is often because she is a little monkey), she proclaims, “I SUCK!!!”

I can’t tell you how hard we laugh at this one.

“Oh no, Addie, you’re very amazing. Oh, you’re so smart and lovely.” Tears streaming down our face.

“I SUCK!”

 

***

 

I love our “other daughter” Aubrey more than words can say. She visits with us once or twice a week and she is like part of our family. (Also the most well-behaved child, haha!) I love her witty sentences and exclamations and the way she dances with Zack and converses with Addie.

 

***

 

Zack made a friend named Lily at his school when he first started in August. Lily first met me while I waited for ZMan in the hallway. She looked me up and down and asked who I was and I was so taken back by this tough lil lady that I had to laugh.

“I’m Zack’s Mommy.”

Zack’s not ready, she said. I’ll tell him you’re here.

I looked for the camera and the Candid Camera crew. That’s funny, I thought.

And she did bring him back, leading him by the hand and helping him put on his shoes. I’ve seen them hug and she always says goodbye to him when I pick him up at lunchtime.

Then a few weeks ago, I was waiting for him and she was in the hallway.

“You know, Zacky’s my best friend,” she told me with a smile.

“Really? That’s so nice. How come? What makes him a good friend?”

She thought for a second. “Well, he pushes me sometimes, but I push him back. I love him.” And she marched off, leaving me crying in the hallway in a moment that was much grander than a four-year-old’s from-the-mouths-of-babes moment.

Lily is off to a Big Girl School while Zack stays where he’s at for another year. And I’ll miss her. She is, for however long or however little, Zack’s first self-proclaimed best friend in a world that I thought would be too mean and too hard.

And she still asks about him. Her Mommy wants to set up a surprise playdate for the kiddos. I can’t wait.

 

***

I’m taking the kids on a grand adventure starting tomorrow. We’ll be visiting four stops of friends and family in NJ and MA. There will be beach time and lots of photo-taking and hugs and chickey kisses hopefully a glass of wine. I’m excited for our our first little vacation this year. I’m sad Scott can’t make it (because of work) but am so grateful for the life I’ve been given and the opportunity and love and how all the doors that have closed and opened have led me to this overpacked car.

 

***

The year that was…

… a journey.

… an adventure.

… throat-clogging lows.

… heart-pumping highs.

It was the year that was understanding. And acceptance. Both long overdue.

Where small triumphs yielded loud, triumphant applause.

It was the year that was risky. Whose risks brought rewards. And peace. Risks that showed us who we were and taught us never to think we were at where we were going to end.

This. This was the year where “what if” was brought up once, maybe twice, (and maybe 200 times) as we contemplated expansion and the future of our family.

There was loss. No more travel logs from Asia, but still I hold tight to the memories. The memories, the photos, the love and all those newspapers from places far away. The last stares at a nephew in his first swim, soaking it all in.

And then, as that circle of life will do, after loss came growth. A positive test, met not by the excited screams we had two years ago, but instead the hold-your-hand-through-this-roller coaster embrace; the in-it-no-matter-what familiar kiss.

It’s been a year of risks. Because that’s what you do when you start seeing all of your rewards, your blessings, your gifts… you thank your lord, you cross your fingers, you hold tight to faith. Take two deep breaths, wink at the one you love and jump into that deep end.

Because the good stuff is hidden.

Because it’s buried deep beneath everything else you’re too busy seeing.

It’s there.

And we found it, slowly but surely, this year.

No one knows what 2012 holds in store for us all.

If we’re really, truly, unbelievably lucky, there will be a little brother or sister for Z-man. There will be tiny fingers that won’t stay small all that long. There will be long, exhausting nights and days and definitely a lot of laughter. Because that’s how we roll ’round here.

2012 is a mystery. But it wasn’t so long ago that 2011 was its own little secret.

And I’m almost sad to see it go.

But so ready to put my hands up in the air and feel a fast breeze roll through my fingers. I’ll close my eyes tight and then I’ll be a brave lil girl and open them up wide so I can watch every second of the ride. And I’ll smile a time or two when it’s all over, amazed and proud that I made it; that I even attempted it.

One day at a time.

Ready? We’ll do it together.

Here we go…

Sooooo big!

Time flies… when you’re raising a toddler?

Our little 16-month-old is not so little and it’s becoming more evident by the day.

Nothing puts it all on display quite like a haircut — The Dude’s fifth haircut!

Before, with Daddy (and Eva the Cat):

After, past bedtime but lookin’ oh-so-handsome:

But it’s more than just the physical things. There is the exploring, the crab-crawling, the grabbing, the laughing, the burst of babbles, the messes, the tickles, the beauty of any given simple moment.

There is the exercising, the practicing, the standing, the self-feeding; the thousand clues that hard work really does pay off if you just don’t give up.

Zack had his most recent check-up at the pediatrician yesterday and all went well! Dr. D. was impressed with his mouth full of teeth (at least five have poked through!), his quick crawl, amazing appetite and our many other exciting moments we can’t help but brag about — including Dr. D’s newest patient next year, Baby Z2b 2.0!

We practice the word “baby” and the phrase “big brother” with Z-Man, but Dude would much prefer to try “ball” or “book.” At least he’s not crying when we say “big brother” to him like he did at first.

It’s hard not to get a bit sentimental and reflective this time of year, but I’m overall really happy with our little world. We are in a better place than we were this time last year and we have an incredible year and future ahead of us.

But it’s still just one day at a time.

One precious moment at a time.

One.

Thanks for reading!

10 months old

In just two months, Zack’s age will begin to be measured in years — not months and certainly not weeks or days. In just two months, Scott and I will celebrate the one-year-anniversary of the most important day so far in our life together — and all of the ups, downs, excitement and apprehension, nerves and fright, fear and most definitely love that we received with it.

 

 

 

This has probably been my favorite month with Zack so far — there has just been so much development and new achievements and the Z-Man is really starting to show his true personality, and all of the smiles and babbles that go along with it.

Zack’s physical therapist Miss Kathleen just left after Z’s weekly therapy session and we talked about my most favorite letter — “I” for Improvement. (Other options include “SI” for Slight Improvement and “M” for Maintaining Skills. I much prefer the “I.”)

 

In 45 minutes, Miss Kathleen got to experience, Zack-initiated kneeling, sturdy sitting, babbling, reaching and putting weight on his legs in a standing position (with assistance), all while I sat nearby grinning like a fool, filled with pride, not taking an ounce of this for granted.

Yesterday, the Z-Man sat for nearly an hour in a highchair, unsupported, eating his first adult food (french fries, grilled cheese and pasta pieces, oh my!) while I sat in half-shock. Thankfully, we had Z’s future prom date Olivia and her Mommy Julie there for support for both of us.

 

 

 

 

 

You see, it’s like everything has clicked in the past couple of weeks. We fought so hard for sitting skills and here they are, like it’s no big deal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Earlier, there was a typical scooting backwards across the living room floor, an enjoyable yet frustrating activity that makes our Little Big Man want to creep forwards. He’ll get it soon, I know. I’m not even worried anymore. Gee, that only took almost a year!

Life is good.

 

 

 

 

Early summer heat waves have given us plenty of sunshine to soak in on walks and gatherings with friends.

I think, if it’s possible, our son is even more handsome in sunlight, his light blonde hair turning a pale white and his bright blue eyes searching for birds to follow, grass to feel, people to watch. As sure as the sun is shining on these days, the sunscreen is slathered on and the stroller or blanket come out to signal a fun day outdoors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And the best part? There’s still no one in the world who can compete with his Momma and Daddy when it comes to love and fun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We cheer him on when he rolls and rolls, pick him up when he falls from a steady sitting stance and he rewards us with quiet bonding moments filled with hand holding, high fives (his newest trick!) and the best hugs I’ve ever experienced.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I want to hit the pause button sometimes and in some moments, but I know I can’t. So I go with the flow, go with my guys and love up and live up every second I get.

The time is flying and I know it’s only going to go by faster so I make sure that I live in each and every moment.

 

 

 

It’s been an amazing month.

8 Months!

 

I feel like I barely catch my breath before the baby formerly known as Little Guy/Man is another month older and I’m left wondering where the 30 or so days are going. I was thinking about days off that I would need in the coming months and realized Zack’s first birthday is already in what I would call the near future.

 

UNBELIEVABLE!

 

 

 

 

We have entered a really exciting time with Z-Man. He’s so alert, so aware, so curious. His big blue eyes get even larger when he hears a sound, sees a movement or wants to share a babble or two. I’ve loved every phase and stage so far, really I have. The newborn phase is so special and involves so much close bonding and snuggling that the lack of sleep is forgiven and almost forgotten. Then we saw our first smiles, which warmed my heart in unimaginable ways. And then the laughter topped it all. Then we achieved goals of rolling and head-lifting. It’s all so amazing.

 

 

 

And here we are, eight months in and loving every minute.

As I’ve hinted, the Zack Attack is getting his very own personality. He’s a terrificly happy baby 99.7 percent of the time. I can’t describe what a joy it is to have all that, well, joy, in our lives so much of the time. He wakes up happy, he goes to bed happy and is even relatively pleasant when he’s tired or hungry.

 

 

And now some random tidbits from the past four weeks:

 

He’s wearing Size 9 Months clothing and Size 3 diapers.

He’s eating baby food with different cereal for each of his three meals, with only a bit of formula in the morning and just before bedtime.

We’re not sure of a weight or length yet, but we’re thinking 18 pounds or so.

Dislikes: Not being able to eat 24 hours a day.

Likes: Food. Walks outside. Laughing. Eating. Petting the animals with his hands and feet. Food.

 

 

 

Here’s to another great month!

Seven Months Old

Scott and I had a “Zack Moment” tonight. I was holding The Dude while he sat on the counter in the kitchen as Daddy finished up dinner preparation for the adults. I kept leaning in to steal a smell of baby lotion and dried peas (haha it sounds worse than it really is) and I saw my partner in love and life staring at his son with such peace and love.

 

 

 

 

 

It’s moments like this that make it hard to believe Zack is seven months old. There are some days that it seems like a lifetime. Like we’ve been shoving peas into his mouth on pretty-colored spoons all our lives. Days where his hair, now lying down and landing in front of his eyes, make him look like a boy instead of a baby.

 

 

 

 

 

But then there are the days where it doesn’t seem like it’s even been seven weeks. Moments where I still feel frustrated or burnt out or helpless. Days where he is still very much the smallest of dudes who needs his Momma and Daddy so much — and more than he probably ever will again.

 

It’s an amazing place we’re in. The clock is always ticking and we just have to hop on the second hand and enjoy the ride, stealing moments wherever we can — even if it’s a seemingly-mundane instant in the kitchen on a Tuesday night.

 

 

 

 

Z-Man doesn’t have an exact weight or length (our next doctor’s appointment isn’t until May) but we’re guessing he’s in the mid 17-pound range. (Maybe more?)

His hair is, as I’ve hinted, getting really long and laying almost completely flat now. It’s coming in in a very, very light blond shade, so with his old brown tips, he looks like a two-toned Duders. We try to smoothe it to one side or the other (and sometimes I try to mold it back into the mohawk) but it always comes flying down — usually right back into his eyes. We still do get some crazy sticking-up-in-every-direction moments though.

 

Zack is beginning to fit pretty well into Size 9 Months clothes, although his legs are still on the short side and anything larger than 6 Months will fall right off of his butt at this point. We just started Size 3 diapers, too! Wooooo!

He sleeps through the night again now after a short glitch with that system last month. We put him to bed usually between 7:15 and 7:30 at night and the first chirps of baby babbles aren’t heard over the monitor until around 7 or so in the morning.

 

With the exception of today, we’ve started switching to one longer nap in the afternoon, which is great for everybody involved. Every now and then it’s still a 30-minute nap in the morning and an hour or so in the afternoon, but we much prefer the two or two-and-a-half hour naps. Mmm.

 

 

I mentioned the peas already, but that’s not where the fun ends. The Dude started baby foods this month and is in absolute love.

 

If he were ever to leave his Momma, it would probably be for food, not another girl.

 

 

He has three main meals a day — oatmeal cereal with a fruit in the morning, rice cereal with a veggie in the afternoon and then wheat cereal with a veggie at night.

So far we’ve tried green beans (not bad), peas (keep ’em comin’), carrots (oh heck YES), apples (hello, world!) and now peaches (he’s in love!).

Sometimes it’s a pretty messy process (carrots the other night ended up all over his face after he and Momma had an absolute gigglefest in mid-feeding) but most of the time, things stay pretty clean.

 

The one issue I do have with feedings this month, little fella? The mandatory poop during breakfast. I mean, seriously.

EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. Things are going along just swimmingly. Dude is eating spoonful after spoonful. Momma is humming along to some Sirius channel and chugging coffee like it’s nobody’s business. Then a spoonful comes back out. Then another one. Then there’s a squirm. Then the grunt.

And then comes the face.

 

 

I’m-pooping-I’m-pooping-I’m-pooping, he thinks with a grunt and then — voila! — a smile.

Momma puts the spoon down, sits back, checks for “the face” and continues her coffee until the process is over.

 

Every morning. Every single morning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Z-Man got a new sippy cup the other day — it’s sort of a trainer for a real sippy cup, really. When I handed it to him for the first time, he grabbed both handles and lifted it immediately to his mouth. Hooray, I thought. But now it’s sort of hit and miss.

Sometimes, I turn away for a second and suddenly hear him gulping the cup I had laid down next to him. Other times, I hold it to his mouth, put his hands on the handles and… it falls with a thud to the floor. On repeat.

 

 

 

 

Dude tested out his bouncer/jumparoo for the first time this month. At first, he was very, very skeptical of the whole thing — all that bouncing and music playing and feet on the floor stuff.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

However it’s slowly but surely becoming a little cooler each day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The big exercise we’re working on this month is sitting. Sitting and holding himself in a neutral position. Sitting and reaching for something. Falling backwards and pulling himself up. Falling forward and pulling himself up again. Sitting. Sitting. Sitting, sitting and more sitting. Sitting on the floor. In the Bumbo chair. In the pack ‘n’ play. On a kitchen counter. Just sittin’ our lives away here!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our physical therapist Kathleen is impressed with his progress and has given us some hopeful thoughts lately, but I have to admit, I’m ready, ready READY for all of our hard work (especially Zack’s) to pay off in the day that he sits up all on his own, smiling at his new accomplishment. We worked this hard with getting him to tolerate Tummy Time and I remember reaching the point where I thought the battle would never end. And it was right about then that he made oh-so-proud and so wonderfully happy.

 

 

 

So I tell myself to remain patient. The luck of the game for us is that we really stare each milestone right in the face like a bad staring contest that no one wins. We treasure the accomplishments so much, but it takes some frustrating moments to get there.

 

For now, I dream.

And I cherish every single moment. The sitting up, the lying down, the staring up at his Momma, the cooing to his Daddy, the quick grab of animal fur with a giggle. I love these moments.

Here’s to another great month. (Seriously, they somehow each keep getting better!)

The Dude grows big, Momma gets out

Happy weekend! (Momma has the day off today, hooray!)

The Dude had his six-month check-up at the doctor’s yesterday. He did great and, like everywhere else, was a huge hit with the staff.

First, the numbers. Zack weighs 16 pounds, 7 1/2 ounces and is 26 inches long. If you’re curious, his head has a circumference of 16 1/2 inches. (In December, he weighed 14 pounds, 3 ounces, was 25 3/4 inches long and his head was 16 inches around).

If Zack had to make an acceptance speech for his two-plus-pound increase, I’m sure it would be something like this:

“I’d like to thank my rice cereal and my especially yummy wheat cereal. Oh, and my Momma and Daddy for piling it into my mouth one or two times a day. And I’d like to thank my formula, for always being there for me, even when I spit you up or projectile vomit you across the floor. I guess we all know that most of it really IS staying inside my belly.”

Now is a good time to say that growth charts are STUPID. I mean, first of all, how do they even come up with this crap? To say that at a certain age your baby should weigh x pounds or be y inches from head to toes? And aside from charts specifically for babies with Down Syndrome, which infuriates me even more, they have charts for babies born prematurely. I’m sure there’s a growth chart for babies who have red hair somewhere, too. Oh, and don’t forget about those babies who are just plain SMALL. Or LARGE.

You know how I measure my baby’s growth? He’s happy. He has a nice lil belly but it’s not keeping him from functioning or being healthy. Oh, and his length? Well, I’ll let you know in 25 years when he’s 5-feet tall. Or 6-foot, 10-inches. I meeaaaaan, really.

Moving on.

Zack has a couple of little things we’re still watching (things I doubt he’d want me to share with all of you, no offense) but no major problems, hooray! The doctor seems really pleased with him and still can’t believe how great he’s doing, being all Super Baby-like and showing off all the time, even in the doctor’s office. (By the way, our doctor had a daughter with Down Syndrome, so he’s more knowledgeable than we are with all of these things sometimes)

Z-Man had to get a couple of shots, but after five seconds, the tears were over and all was well.

 

Duders and I have had a great day together so far, although it would probably be a great afternoon if one (or both) of us took a nap. I’m referencing you, Mr. Baby Who Just Threw All His Stuffed Animal Friends Out of the Swing in a Fit of One-Quarter Irish Rage.

 

I’ve finally given in to all of the attempts and pleas (mostly from my husband) to get me out of the house/away from the baby/ get some Me Time and am leaving in just a couple of hours to spend the weekend with my dear, dear, DEAR friend Jeannine and her boyfriend Jeff.

Just me.

No baby.

Heck, no hubby.

I am beyond excited to go and have had just enough time to really accept the idea that Zack will be just fine without me but also that I will be just fine without him without feeling guilty looking forward to some selfish Me Time.

But I still spent 20 minutes apologizing to Scott last night, who is handling this all so well and is being patient and totally understanding. I still think he’s going to lock the door behind me when I leave tonight, though, just to make sure I really leave. He may have the baby for a day (that’s all it really amounts to when you take into account The Dude’s early bedtime) but I think he’s looking forward to me having some Me Time too. I’ve been so stressed lately and in such a funk that before some other exciting events (visits from friends and family, a big case to cover for work, oh, and my birthday!), I know I need a clean slate.

 

It’s just that I can’t help but know I’ll be missing out on some great feats and accomplishments.

 

 

 

 

 

Missing some awesome smiles. And raspberries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And some sweet kisses from both of my guys.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m really excited to, for just a few hours, not think about balancing it all — house, baby, marriage, work, ME — worrying if I might drop one of them (it’s usually that “me” part) and wondering if it’s OK to fail every now and then.

I can almost guarantee that the baby is fed, clean and giggling. And that the laundry is done or being done and the floor is as clean as possible with five animals. I do my 40-plus hours of work to the best of my ability every week and I never go to bed without telling my husband I love him — at least five times.

 

But sometimes. Hmm. Often times. I forget to tell myself that I love me. (Ooooh, that’s SO cheesy) I forget to read a book. Or finish the book. I forget to put my feet up and turn my mind OFF.

Sometimes, I just forget.

 

 

I’m excited about finding the Me that I’ve buried under all of my other “responsibilities” and I’m really, truly looking forward to that homecoming on Sunday.

 

I hope there will be kisses.

 

 

 

 

For now, I look forward to shared thoughts and giggles with a lady who knows that ME, that real and true me. And who always puts her in her place.

Oh, and there might be pirates.

And voodoo.

 

 

Have a great weekend.