Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Baby E's 1st Tooth

Do you know how difficult it is to get your 9 month old to stay still and let you take a picture of his most adorable 1st tooth?! Pretty, is the short answer. Which is funny, since up until that sweet little tooth erupted, he wanted nothing more than for my fingers to be in his mouth. But since, well, he clamps those beautiful little lips shut and will have nothing to do with it. He hasn't learned that that tooth is super cute and worthy of photographing. Apparently. In case you can't tell, and I can't imagine why that would be, what with my awesome photography skills and all, it's his bottom right tooth. The left one is just about to pop through, but not quite.

What, you want me to open my mouth? Okay, here ya go.

Oh, that wasn't open enough? Okay, Momma, I'll give it another shot for you. What do you mean move my tongue? You love my tongue!

Hi, Momma, I love you and I'm smiling, just like you asked me to do. And I'm even waving, another of my new cute tricks. I rock, right?! Bonus, just because you're an awesome momma.
Let me show you that awesome waving again. You didn't seem to get as excited as you should have last time. See, waving and smiling.
Okay, just smiling, no waving. I'm super excited about this one. I even helped you see up my nose. Now that is a cool body part. Did ya know my fingers actually fit up there?!

What?! You still didn't get it?! Geez woman. What if I smile and bat my eyelashes at you? Will that help? Now, why are you looking exasperated with me??! I'm being adorable here! This is some of my best work.

Okay, so how about I see how big I can get my mouth to open. Will that work???!!!! You know you're missing out on that cool up the nose shot in this one, right? That's sad...

How about if I give you one of my very best gooey smiles, and I wave? Can we just be done with this already, Momma?! Really, this modeling thing is exhausting! What, you think you finally got it?!! Shew. It's about time.

Today's lesson - Sometimes it really is exhausting being the baby. And they deserve to nap all day, because some days their crazy parents have a camera in their faces all the live long day. And you'd be exhausted, too, if that were the case.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Funny Things the Kid Has Said Today

Man, was the kid on a roll today with the funny stuff coming out of his mouth! Here are a few I was able to remember - enjoy :)

Dude, what goes better than meatballs with the man in the moon's dinner? Nothin' at all, that's what.

Momma, and now I begin the dance of bacon joy. It is a joyful dance of bacony goodness.

Baby E, thanks for all the goo, goo, gooey goo goo. I mean, let the goo times goo, man.

I think that ghost (an old Halloween decoration he happened to find somewhere) is givin' me the stink eye. And I don't stink you cranky ghost.

What the freak-idy freak was that freakin' noise for, baby E?

And now I go to bed, my people (lifting his scepter in the air). Thank you, thank you, my people.

Today's lesson - you have to be careful about what you say around your 5 year old. He has big ears, and an even bigger mouth. And though the word "freakin'" coming out of your adult mouth may seem innocuous, um, it's not quite so much coming out of his. And while it's cute when it's coming out of someone else's 5yo's mouth, when it's your 5yo's mouth, it may not be quite as cute. Just sayin'.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Our furbaby, Jonah

Last night I happened upon Marley and Me (the movie about this crazy dog and his family), and it, plus the snoring of our dog Jonah, made me think about the role Jonah has played in our family. I think a lot of people know the term "furbabies", you know, your animal(s) are like your kids. Well, at least for me, this was so the case with Jonah.

Jonah came into our lives about 2 months after we were married. He was actually born a week before we were married, which, honestly (especially these days), is the only reason I know exactly how old he is. And, btw, that means he will be 11 next week. Anywho, Jonah came as a result of my begging hubby for a dog, because I knew I'd be wanting a baby soon, and a dog seemed like a good way to ease us both into it. And, for hubby, the dog was a good way to put me off the whole baby thing for a couple of years. Jonah came from the local humane society and is a mutt through and through. While Jonah is a super fantastic dog now, as a puppy he was challenging. He first refused to sleep at night without me laying on the floor next to his crate. And then he refused to be house trained for a long time. And then there was the running off whenever he was not on a leash. And then the refusing to walk if you were holding  the leash. And then in order to take a walk, you had to not hold the leash, and have someone walk in front of him, because for some reason he liked to follow feet. He was exhausting and  I still think was harder to potty train than the kid.

But Jonah now is awesome, which happened around the 2-3 year mark. Which was good timing, because that's about when we started trying to get pregnant (hum, just realized there might be a correlation between those two things, lol). And, a couple of years later, when we realized that things were simply not going as planned, he was still there. Jonah seemed to know when I was feeling down and when I needed a soft head to pat, or just let me cry on. While he was probably just happy to get the attention, I like to think that he knew I needed him and was there for me. I remember the moment when I knew I couldn't continue the infertility treatments. I was laying on the couch sobbing, and Jonah was there, sitting right beside me. Really, he didn't leave my side much during that time. I am convinced that he just knew.

When the kid finally came along, Jonah, who had become accustomed to being the center of our world - our furbaby - got knocked down a notch or two in the familial hierarchy. He was depressed for nearly a year, sleeping in his room and rarely coming out. Not that I realized it at the time, being so busy adjusting to life with a baby, but looking back on it I know it was huge change for him, and one he took in stride after that initial adjustment. He tolerated the kid for a couple of years, and in the last year or so the relationship between the two of them has blossomed and they're the best of friends. Jonah decided he loved the kid (who had long loved Jonah) because the kid could finally play with him. Fortunately for all of us, the kid and Jonah started to entertain each other.

As I was watching Marley last night, I got to the part where he's gotten really old and is going to die and I had to turn it off. You see, I started thinking about Jonah. The poor dog is so very neglected now. And, fabulous dog that he is, he doesn't blame us for it and continues to be the gentle, loving, patient creature that he is. When baby E came along, poor Jonah fell another several notches. He rarely gets walks or attention anymore, though the kid does still love on and play with him quite a bit. But, he's accepted it - and us - as we are. He follows me around a lot, but doesn't demand anything. It's just like he wants to be near me, and that that is enough for him.

I'm ashamed to admit that several times I've though that if we didn't have him things would be easier (vacations, camping - he takes up a lot of room in the car). But I realized last night how devastating it will be when he's gone. And, really, that will probably be sooner rather than later. He's covered in tumors (non-cancerous), and his hips are bad. He's tired and inactive most days. He's old. But he really was my first baby. He was there when all I needed was something to love and take care of and when no one other than hubby knew what we were going through or the pain I was experiencing. And of course it's not the same as the boys. But I love him and he is such a loyal and loving part of our family.

Here's Jonah with the kid, a little over 3 years ago. He *may* be a bit heavier now...

So even though you can't read, thank you, Jonah, for being so awesome. I promise I'll take you for a walk tonight. If it doesn't rain, you know, since neither of us like to go out in the rain and all.

Today's lesson - just because you know all the tools to get your kid to behave, does not mean you will use them. You will sometimes use them. You sometimes will lose it and yell. You're normal.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Year I Forgot Fathers' Day

And, ahem..., that would be this year. There are tons of reasons why I forgot Fathers' Day (hello - I haven't slept in nearly 9 months and sometimes even forget my own name), but those, really, aren't all that important. What is, is that I have a husband who is a father, and I forgot the 1 day a year dedicated to honoring that important role he plays in my life, and in the lives of our children.

Fathers' Day is for honoring the fact that he is doing the dishes right now, while entertaining one baby and wrangling one 5yo into staying in his seat while eating his yogurt.  It is for how he got up 2 times last night to help me fill up the SNS so I could feed the baby without waking up the 5 year old. It is for him loading up the car this morning - in the torrential thunderstorm - so we could just. get. home. It is for always knowing that when I need to run here or there without the boys that he will of course be with them. It is for knowing that he would never refer to himself as their babysitter, but always their father. It is for supporting me in breastfeeding the boys, and using donor milk with baby E, because he knew not only was it important to me, but it is what is best for the boys, regardless of what other people may have said (or not said). It is because he also sometimes fathers other children (while teaching). It is because he has learned to apologize (at least sometimes) to the kid when he makes a mistake or hurts his feelings. It is for how he rigged up the swimming pool in our backyard so it won't cause a torrential flood the backyard - another one - so the boys could have it to play in. It is for forgiving me for forgetting this important day because he knows how tired I always am. It is for being a parenting partner who balances my deficits and adds to my strengths. It is for loving our boys.

Fathers' Day is for being a father. And hubby is one who had to wait a really long time, and go through tests, and paperwork, and the writing of (HUGE) checks, and waiting, and more waiting, and tears, and fears of losing our child, and court dates. It's a big day for any father. But it is especially so for one who became so through adoption.

Happy Fathers' Day, hubby. I love you and I love the father you are and the one you are continuing to become every day.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

You know how sometimes...?

Today I just need to get something out, and whine a little. But, for your patience, you get a cute pic of baby E. See? It's worth it!

You know how sometimes you just really want to vent something, to a specific person, about a specific person, heck, to the world, but it just isn't safe/appropriate/helpful? You know, there's something you want to get off your chest, but in doing so no good will come of it. You may get it out, but it probably would cause an even bigger issue. So, you can't. Because the unspoken rules of that relationship dictate that such things are not spoken or acknowledged, especially with that specific person. It would create a bigger rift than already exists. And sometimes it's just really not your place in the first place. Know what I'm talking about? Yeah. Maybe not. Well, it sucks. That's all.

And now on to cute baby E (in his cute Bummis cloth diaper, I might add)...

Today's lesson - relationships are complicated and messy. And, even as a social worker/therapist, they're sometimes often difficult to navigate. Now, if you'd like me to help you navigate yours, I'd be happy to do that (and I'm even pretty good at it!). But only if you do the same for me. Or pay me. One of the two.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Baby Signs

I can't remember if I've ever talked her about our use of sign language with the boys. Well, I'm gonna today.

We started using signs with the kid when he was 7-8 months old. We started with milk, all done, and more. I realized one day he was really interested in our dog, Jonah, so I started using the sign for dog (well, a modified one because the real one was too hard for a baby to do) whenever Jonah was around. Dog ended up being his first sign, which he did when he was about 10 months old (the dog's name, incidentally, ended up being his first spoken word shortly thereafter). We added in more signs as we noticed him being interested in things, and he eventually ended up using more than 20 signs. Here are some of the ones he used: milk, tree (again we noticed him staring intently at them out the window - he picked it up only the 2nd time I did it!), more, eat, drink, ball, hungry, music, book, play, bird, hi/bye (what? Your kid does those, too? See, your baby can do sign language!), bath, sleep, blanket, please, thank you, all done, want, now, and occasionally where.

He used th signs for about 6 months, until he was clearly talking in sentences (which, for the kid, was at about 14-16 months of age - yeah, he talked early. And hasn't stopped since then...). Some he used more often than others, with more, thank you, please, book, dog, and eat being most frequent. He actually also started using some of them together, forming early sentences, such as "more milk please", or "want book now please". Those are pretty big sentences for a 12 or 14 month old, if I do say so myself. He would also use them in conjunction with actual words - (sign) where (say) Poppa?

So, why did we do this? Well, there's an interesting, albeit small, body of research that suggests that there are many benefits of using sign language with infants/young, non-verbal children (which was certainly our experience). It says that children who are taught sign language actually talk SOONER than children who aren't. Additionally, they're less frustrated and have fewer tantrums. The research even suggests that it may increase children's IQs. (Here is a link to a synopsis of some of that research.)

Children are primed from birth to communicate with us but their mouths, tongues, and talking anatomy aren't ready until they're quite a bit older. However, they do have control over their hands much sooner than they do that talking anatomy. We see this in them learning to wave and point - that's communicating. You see it in the intense way they look at you and make specific noises - you just know they're trying to tell you something specific. So, why not harness that desire and skill they already have to really get an idea of what's going on in those little heads of theirs?!

So here's how you (or at least we) go about teaching babies signs - you use them. That's it. You decide what word/signs you're going to use and use them consistently with the spoken words. You chose which words will be most helpful, which is often the basic things they would need to tell you, like being hungry, or in need of a clean diaper, etc..., and things they would want (play, read, outside, etc...). We also throw in signs of the things we've noticed the boys being interested in. As I mentioned, with the kid we noticed him being interested in and subsequently taught him dog, tree, and bird.

With baby E it was music.  He first used milk, which we started using with him when he was 5-6 months old. But, as seems to happen with baby E, he did "milk" for 1-2 days and then quit doing it altogether. Now, the last couple of days, he's done music. I'd only done that sign with him a couple of times, focusing more on all done, diaper, and more, in addition to milk. So imagine my surprise when I was singing to him and he he did this little hand flutter thing at me. I got all excited and we did it about 10-15 more times. And, oh my did the lights go on for him! When he realized I got what he was trying to communicate, it was pure joy - from both of us!

I love the super intense look he gets on his face, when he locks eyes with me and does the sign for music. It's like he really wants me to know that he's doing it on purpose, and he wants to assure that I get what he's communicating. He grins all big and gummy when I say the word and repeat the sign back to him. It's amazing, to be conversing for real with my 8 month old.  And that, my friends, is what it's all about. That is why we chose to do sign language with our babies.

Today's lesson - baby humans are simply amazing creatures, capable of so much. And so obviously capable of communicating with us on a level we don't often encourage. Let them!!!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Red Dye is the Devil in Liquid Form (title by Hubby)

So, have I mentioned how much we, at my house, hate red dye ? Well, we do. Like a lot. In my professional role, I've recently started educating people about red dye, and the effects it can have on their kids. So, I thought I'd go more into detail here as well. I might even give you more than just my anecdotal experience.

People always ask about how we discovered the link between the kid's sometimes craziness and red dye. So here it is... the kid was 2ish and had a really bad stomach bug. Like so bad he was laying on the floor, not moving at all except to turn over and puke. For more than an hour. Now, if you know my kid, you know this lack of movement is highly unusual. Hubby went to the pharmacy and asked what was safe to give him. He came home with an anti nausea medication - a very red one (not that we paid any attention to it at the time), purportedly safe for young children. Hubby gave it to him. He was up - no joke -and running laps around oue house in less than 5 minutes. This child, who had been immobile for more than an hour, was up running laps around my house. He ran, and ran, and ran, and ran. Like for 45 minutes straight. No stopping. There was this look in his eyes, totally crazy, and kind of freaking out. He literally couldn't stop himself. It's not like he was being bad,  he simply couldn't control himself; it was not a choice. It became obvious that something was amiss.

I dismissed it because I had puke to clean up and a (sort of) sick kiddo to deal with. But it kept nagging at me, and I started thinking about the other times we'd seen the kid be so completely out of control. When he drank cranberry juice. When he had candy (which was/is unusual anyway), especially a candy cane. When he had an antibiotic. The common thread? All of these things had red dye in them. Red dye 40, to be specific.  

One time the kid was prescribed an antibiotic. I didn't think he needed it, but he'd been wheezing and coughing for weeks, so I was willing to give it a shot. It was pink. 1 day on the antibiotic = 1 crazy kid (and 2 crazy parents, and several crazy child care providers). So, we discontinued it and told the pediatrician if she wanted him to complete a round of antibiotics, she was going to have to find one that didn't have red dye in it. It took her, the nurse, and a pharmacist an hour to find the one and only antibiotic for kids without red dye in it. (And, no, I don't remember what it was - it's in his chart.) Only 1 antibiotic red dye-free, that's it. Isn't that crazy?! He took it and didn't get crazy (or better).

So, what happens when he does have it? Well, the actual behaviors themselves vary, but overall what we see is a general increase in his level of activity (hyperactivity) and a decrease in ability to self-regulate emotions or impulses. Here's a recent picture of what can happen. He had a purple snocone at school (apparently they forgot that whole kindergarten lesson that purple = blue + red). We knew he was "under the influence" so we sent him outside to run off some energy. Apparently we didn't supervise him quite as closely as we thought. We called him in for dinner and later found the following outside. He took an entire bag of potting soil that was sitting innocently on the deck, and scattered it all over the place. (We had swept it more into a pile before I took these pics.) We didn't discipline him for this, because, really, he isn't in control of himself and it's really just not his fault.

Right now we have good control over his diet, and make sure to not allow anything that even might have red dye in it. I worry about when he starts kindergarten at public school in the fall. I keep trying to remind myself that kids with all kinds of food allergies (not that that's what this is; I think it's more of a sensitivity) do just fine, but it's hard to not worry. That, however, is a post for another day.  The kid is actually (usually) really good about monitoring food to make sure there's no red dye in it, which is awesome. So, here is a good resource for some additional information about red dye, beyond just my experience and opinion. You know, in case you don't wanna just take my word for it.

Today's lesson: Red dye is, indeed, the devil. Or at least, is the liquid product thereof.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Camping 2011: And so it begins...

I've blogged before about how I both love and hate camping. Well, this year, that continues. Some pictures to illustrate.

So, one of the challenges is finding a way to keep baby E's milk frozen, This trip's experiment - a cooler specifically for milk. And because there was still room, we added in beer, too. Apparently, however, this does not an effective method make, as the milk was completely thawed within 36hrs. The beer stayed cold though (according to hubby).

Cold. Really, really cold. Baby E so not a fan. Me either. Hubby was a good sport.

The kid? Def a fan. This kid loves the water no matter the temperature. He played in it for 2 days, happy as a (chattering) clam.

Baby E seemed to love camping. He did not, however, seem to love sleeping while camping. Then again, he doesn't seem to like sleeping while at home either. So I suppose it really makes no difference whatsoever whether we're at home or camping. Frankly, compared to how I slept previous years camping, I actually think I slept better this trip. I'm guessing this has to do with my overall sleep deprivation, so the noise level didn't bother me in the least. He also got to have yogurt for the first time, which he totally loved.

Spending time together as a family, in a place where we're not so worried about all the stuff that needs to get done = a def plus of camping.

Seriously, how cute is this?! Some friends who come camping have 4 (stunningly beautiful) kiddos . Little B is the youngest, and baby E's 1st girlfriend. (Check out little B's mommy's blog) It was fun to watch the two babies interact and even have their own little conversations.

Come on, that's cute! Admit it.

I love watching baby E and my mom. I think she's been a bit slower to warm to him than she was the kid, which is understandable since she got to spend way more one-on-one time with the kid than she has baby E (totally our fault). So, for her to get that time, and to see the bond develop between the two of them = awesome.

Ah, this face. I adore this face. Well, maybe not this  particular face he's making since he looks kinda crazy, but his face in general .  I adore him when we're camping. See, he gets to run, and yell, and pick up sticks, and find rocks, and just be him. And he gets so worn out that he sleeps great at night, and even sometimes sleeps in (like 7:30 one morning - that's huge, people, like crazy late for him!). There's so much less of a need to be constantly telling him "stop", "no", "don't", etc... There's more "go", "run", "play", "get out your crazies". It's smiling and laughing, instead of fussing and frustration.

The kid posing, with his heart tattoo. It's an example of the things he gets to do when we're camping that we don't normally do. Like get temporary tattoos. And eat s'mores. And stay up past 8pm.

The jury's still out on nursing while camping. I mean, I do love nursing baby E. But, let's be honest here, when it's 90+ outside, having a baby snuggled up next to you 5 or 6 times a day (cause the other times are at night and it's kinda cold then) for 20 minutes, well, it's just not all that fun. It's not unfun enough that I won't do it, it's just not a super blissful experience, is all I'm sayin'.

So, overall, the trip was a success. We just have a few kinks to work out, such as who will sleep where(it seemed to work best for hubby and the kid to have 1 queen air mattress, and me to share the other with baby E, since he won't sleep in the pack-n-play and all), and how to keep the breastmilk frozen longer.

Today's lesson - Baths while camping have always been an interesting experience. The kid had baths in all kinds of places, and I suspect baby E will as well. This time, it was a plastic container we emptied out for this express purpose. It worked quite well. The lesson? When camping, improv is always necessary.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Today we are Official

It all came down to today. All this waiting (nearly 2 years for baby # 2, 8 months since he came, a half hour for the judge to finish in open court). In total more than 2 and a half years, came down to a less than 15 minute hearing in the judge's chambers. My mom was there as well as our dear friend M (also baby E's Godmother and fantastic babysitter) and her awesome kiddo Z (aka the kid's bff). We are so glad they were there to share and wittiness this huge event.

I was afraid we were going to be late because baby E decided he needed to eat just before we left, but we managed to get there just on time. We had to wait because the judge was still in the court room. The boys were pretty good waiting. Here's a couple of pics of what they were doing.
They both loved climbing up in the window to look at the skyline.

Not that they stayed still in that chair for long, but that's okay. Aren't they cute together?! Baby E was being patient and hanging out in the Moby while we waited and the boys ran around in their typical tornadic style. He was super tired, but stayed awake the whole time we were there.

We finally went into the judge's chambers and there were also a couple of other people there, whom I assure were clerks, in addition to us all, our attorney, the guardian ad litem, and the judge. We were sworn in and had to testify to the accuracy of the facts included in the adoption petition (i.e. our names, birth dates, how long baby E has been with us, etc...). The judge then asked us a few questions, I think just to get to know us a little better. He had me tell him about our typical week and seemed quite surprised that we actually eat dinner all together (not in front of the TV) every night. (Side note: thanks, mom, for making us do this growing up - I so now see the importance/benefits!) The judge then read that whole spiel about how baby E will now be afforded all the rights/privilege's of a "natural born" child (how I hate that term is a topic for another day). He said a bunch of other stuff, but, honestly, I was trying to convince myself to hold it together so I didn't go into the ugly cry. I was successful, btw. I didn't even have to wipe away any tears. I only got a bit glassy eyed.

As an added bonus, our attorney, who I know from my "social services" days, told the judge he isn't charging us his fee for the adoption! Hubby and I were quite surprised and touched. Come to think of it, we don't think he charged us for the kid's either (though that certainly doesn't mean we were looking for the same thing this time). Note to self, send him a gift card to somewhere cool as a thank you.

And then it was over. The judge let each of the 3 boys pick out a beenie baby to commemorate the day. The 2 big boys got bears with backpacks. The kid picked out a lobster for baby E. Don't ask me why. I'd put some pictures of this whole thing on here, but, well, we don't have any. Hopefully my mom and M got some good ones and will share. But here's one of us outside the court house. Finally, a legal forever family.

It's been an awesome day, y'all. I feel relieved and happy and tearful. I am sitting here nursing this crazy baby who refuses to sleep at night, and I am hit by the enormity of this day. And I am reminded, with his gooey, gummy grin, that he has no idea what happened. No idea that today is a big and important and absolutely momentous day in his life. A day that I have waited for for more than 2 and a half years. An awesome day. Because today we became official.

Today's lesson - we apparently need to work on government vs. church lessons for the kid. He asked, on the way to court today, "hey, Momma, are we going to tell the Pope that he can't ever give baby E to anybody else? Is that what today's all about?". "Sort of, kid, sort of."