Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Dog Days of Summer

Not to get all sentimental on you, but here's the truth: I am regularly overwhelmed by the love I feel for my children. This feeling arises many times, different times, times when I least expect it, times when they're acting like little banshees, and all I can do is shrug, or they can't sleep because they have a stuffy nose, and I rock them to sleep but don't leave right away because I love holding such a sweet, peaceful little boy. I figured since it's the truth, I might as well record it here because most importantly, should they ever choose to read this blog, I want them to read those words. Just in case they didn't already know (though they better!)
Hi, Macy! Mind if check out what's in your mouth?

Cousins! (I know what you're thinking and yes, this was the best shot I had.)
Calder has made absolutely incredible strides in the past year. G-tubes and nasal cannulas, uncertainty about when he would really start to talk and questions about his gross motor development are all a distant memory from decades ago. Only occasionally am I reminded of the little boy we worked so diligently with on skills that now with Beckett I take for granted, and it's usually when I see him doing something that consumed our therapy routine for weeks, something seemingly simple, like jumping with both feet. I can't help but let a little smile creep onto my face when I see him jump now; I'm just so darn proud. Calder "graduated" from his final therapist -- occupational -- at the end of June, and even then I was learning that he could and would do things for himself if only I'd give him the space.

Go Bucks.
Bath time is the best time!
Chillaxin' with the fam in Kiawah.

Aw. Beckett so does not look like this any longer!

Beckett is Calder's polar opposite in so many ways but looks up to his older brother like only a little brother would. Calder gets great enjoyment out of snatching things out of Beckett's hands, and when he's really focused, he's taken a page out of mom's playbook and strategically lures Beckett's attention away with another item immediately before making the swap. Wonder how much longer that will work. Beckett is simply as sweet as can be. His disposition is twenty times calmer than Calder's; whether or not that lasts when he's three is yet to be seen. Is there some jealousy? You betcha. But there are multiple times a day when Calder sporadically squeezes Beckett in a big bear hug that can only mean love, or plants a gentle kiss on his head. Beckett's kisses for Calder are a little more clumsy and not nearly as well placed and oftentimes turn into a face-plant onto Calder's head when he loses his balance, but Calder is amazingly tolerant. In short, they're adorable.

Beckett took his first couple steps at exactly 14 months on August 14 but it's more or less stopped there, with just another step or two. He knows he can cruise with the best of them when holding onto at least one adult hand, preferably two, and he holds on for DEAR LIFE. He's got a nice mouthful of teeth but we're still waiting on most of what he needs on that bottom row, which isn't a comforting thought when considering our sleeping patterns. He's been spouting off words since June, inaugurating his vernacular with the word "balloon" -- which, if you are Beckett, is actually pronounced "boon." (Hey - which coincidentally rhymes with Calder's first word: moon.) Since then, he's also picked up the words bird, water, apple juice, up, bonk and a few other goodies (in addition to Mama and Dada, of course!)

Can you see that smile on Beckett's face?

Beckett nursed until just a couple weeks before his first birthday. The cessation was almost certainly more traumatic for me than it was for him. Let me just say that yes. It is possible to solely provide breastmilk til the child is one through pumping. Been there, done that. But dang! Who wants to do that? Nursing was considerably more convenient and more enjoyable. After not being able to nurse Calder, I entered this breastfeeding relationship on my tip-toes. I didn't get my hopes up, I prayed I'd make it a year, I kept my fingers crossed. When we finally got into smooth sailing, I dropped my guard, and *BOOM*! He came down with hand, foot and mouth. For the first week, Calder was sick, too, and I took nearly the entire week off to be with them, even though our nanny continued to brave the household as well. (Believe me, it was necessary.) Those first few days of being ill, he was nursing wonderfully. But it must have been when the mouth sores set in that he said, sorry, Charlie. And that was that. I joined our local La Leche League listserv, I poured over the Internet (my trusted Kellymom), I read magazines, and everywhere I looked and everyone I talked to said that anytime before 12 months especially, and even longer, it was almost certainly NOT self-weaning. So I tried all their tips (within reason) but after that, I only coaxed him into nursing one more time and that was that. Of course, other than recovering from an illness Beckett was perfectly fine with it all and turned back to bottle feeding once his appetite returned really quiet quickly. And I thought, well, how do ya' like that. I'm offering you this major piece of me, this perfectly good nourishment that, quite frankly, EXHAUSTS me, this "liquid gold" (as they say) and you're turning me down? Excuse me, what? But, that's how it was, and after about two, maybe three weeks, I was over it, too. I pumped for another two months, then said sayonara to the pump. I didn't mind reading this mom's perspective, either.

After a summer of splash parks and beaches, sand and pools, Calder is three, Beckett is one and Kraemer is 25 (oh - or do men give their real ages?) We threw a small little bash the weekend before last to celebrate the birthdays of all three, and if you were there, you know that Calder was a wild child. Yes, that's partly his personality and partly a product of him missing his nap. And actually, partly a product of our valiant attempt to start him at school. Yes, attempt. After one week, we made the decision to pull him out. Day One was a success. Kraemer and I both dropped him off in the morning, and he sat bravely on the mat, tightly squeezing his penguin stuffed animal with hopeful eyes while the children around him wailed their heads off (Calder still brings that up to me) and Kraemer and I waved goodbye. Day Two, not so much. Kraemer dropped him off crying, and we learned later he did not stop screaming for another 15 minutes. Day Three was a repeat. When I picked him up that afternoon, he saw me standing at the door, and though it was dismissal time, the assistant made him wait two feet from me (believe me, she KNEW I was his mom), and I could see the anguish on his face, and his lip tremble. Within 20 seconds he'd burst into tears. And this is when I'm picking him UP. Day Four he got off easy because I had to take him to the doctor in the morning, and as we drove home, he asserted sweetly but strongly that he wanted to go find Nina and Beckett on the Hill wherever they might be and join them. I knew he missed them. 
On Friday morning, he told me, again very sweetly but matter-of-factly, that he did NOT want to go to school. Over the last few days I'd ask him once in a while why he did not want to go, and twice he told me it was because they took his penguin. I'm guessing they must have only been allowed to have their animals during nap time, but I never asked. He also told me it was because he wanted to go to Eastern Market, which, again, I'm sure is because he missed his partner in crime and nanny. And here's what I told myself: HE'S THREE. You know what? Heck. He isn't even supposed to be three. I don't know how long I get to do this adjusting thing (yup, only til two in most scenarios, and yup, we're past that - you can call me out on it), but if he were born on October 23 instead of July 2, he wouldn't even be eligible for school in DC this year. Kraemer and I had been saying since we registered him in early spring that we'd play it by ear, and by Monday morning, when he told me again that he did not want to go, I felt we'd played it all sufficiently. So the lucky guy is back home, living out the dog days of summer at the zoo and such with his best of buds.

This summer has been fun-filled. Between a trip to Destin with the Lovelace clan, a jaunt to Cincinnati and a trip to Kiawah with the Andersons, there hasn't been a dull moment. In fact, we kicked it off with a move - only a few blocks, mind you, but hard work just the same! Fortunately for us, we've scored more lovely neighbors, a front yard, a back yard and a little more space on the inside. We're looking forward to enjoying a nice fall in the new home!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

I don't write Christmas letters...

So I write lengthy blog posts. :)

You don’t have to tell me how fast they grow up. Time is whizzing by, or rather, I just never have any of it. Our new normal is putting the kids to bed, cleaning the house, taking food to a new mom and then looking up to see it’s 11pm on December 15, and I haven’t bought a single Christmas present yet. For anyone.

Yet while I can appreciate people wanting to stop time, I don’t feel that way, not yet. My mom shared with me once something my Aunt Dolly had said when her daughter was young, something along the lines of not wanting to stop time because each new stage in her daughter’s life was her new favorite. (Did she repeat that correctly, Aunt Dolly?) And that sounds about right to me. I think every night, more than once, my husband and I find ourselves both smiling at something silly or sweet or even impressive Calder has done or said, something that makes him even more fun and loved (not sure that’s possible!) than the day before, something that elicits a spoken declaration from Kraemer about how we have such wonderful, perfect (in our eyes) boys. That usually happens right before, or after, we’ve put Calder in time out. Don’t let those long eyelashes fool you.

Happy birthday, Daddy!
Conked out.

Let’s recap. The summer was an absolutely whirlwind. Before I could plan any birthday parties (let’s face it – I was never going to be that ambitious anyway), Beckett came along, and we found ourselves celebrating Kraemer and Calder’s summer birthdays in the middle of visits from Aunt Carolina and Uncle Andy (and Santi!) and Aunt Corinne and Uncle Matt. We took a trip to Kiawah, where we were joined by grandparents and long-time buddies, as a way of a post-baby babymoon – between bedrest, birth and baby hospitalizations, I was way past done with being relegated to my quaint little DC row house. We had visits to DC from both sets of grandparents, and Calder finally got to meet Aunt Kelly, Uncle Preston and cousin Ike (sadly, Calder was sick and not much of a playmate – we resolved that situation when we visited New Orleans/ Baton Rouge for Thanksgiving.) We spent Labor Day with Aunt Amy, Uncle Bruce, cousin Amelia and cousin Quinn. We got to spend more time with Aunt Kristen and Uncle Andrew when we visited Cincinnati in October, which included witnessing Uncle Andrew squeezing into a cow-shaped train car since Calder was too scared to ride alone and Mommy was tending to little bro. (What a sport. Who has that photo?) One of the fun parts about seeing family is how much Calder (and Beckett) loves it. It’ll be two weeks later and Calder will randomly exclaim, “See Ike! Ike’s home!” On the drive home from seeing Aunt Jen and Uncle Mike’s new house, he quipped, “Uncle Mike fun!” I’ve heard all names on numerous occasions, so don’t feel left out.

Mommy and Calder. People tell me his name was made for a judge...
National Mall biking outings
Mommy also braved a flight alone, with two children, one sick, to Cincinnati while Dad traveled to Moldova for work (and wine tours. PLEASE.) It went as poorly as you might expect it to, including a missed flight (not our fault, I’d argue); a majorly DELAYED flight; eight hours in the airport, most of it me alone with two baby boys; a hysterical breakdown (as in, screaming bloody murder, and it was not hysterical in the funny sense of the word); vomit (vomit, not spit up); breastfeeding on the family bathroom floor which eventually just became the airport waiting areas floor because I couldn’t take the bathroom, nor could Calder; unattended luggage; too much luggage; angry strangers; entertained strangers and very kind strangers. This was all followed by, after our arrival in Cincinnati, a trip to the ER because of Calder’s escalating illness and labored breathing, which resulted in a very alarming blood pressure (which upon follow up, we think can be dismissed.)
Gorgeous. I heart DC!
Yup, I love DC, too!

Backyard shenanigans
Poor little man has also been sick pretty consistently since the end of August. In fact, we all have. The pediatrician just smiled smugly at our most recent visit when I asked whether we should be isolating Calder yet again this winter given the rate and intensity at which he’s been sick; apparently this is par for the course for two-year-olds? That said, she very firmly asserted that we must continue to nebulize him daily through the cold and flu season and perhaps longer, depending on what his lungs sound like, and of course throughout the day on days he’s sick. Since summer we’ve also had a few bouts of unexplained vomiting, so that’s something we’re working on with his speech and occupational therapists, since we think it’s related to his chewing and swallowing. Beckett has managed to either fight off most of these illnesses before they start or shortly thereafter, for which I’m indescribably grateful.

Calder finally bit through his pacifier sometime in July or August, I can’t remember which, at which point we simply took it away from him, cold turkey. We’d already hidden his monkey wubs, so once the giraffe bit the dust, that was the end of that. That didn’t go terribly, nor did it go well. I have NO tips for someone trying to wean their child off a pacifier. Between gaining a little brother, losing his pacifier and eventually vacating his crib, Calder had enough change in his life to interrupt his sleeping pattern for at least a couple of months.

Beckett continues to grow like a weed. He’s in the 50th percentile, which to me, is, like, WHOA. He’s a monster. I always laugh when I hear another mom talk about her big baby who is in reality in the 98th percentile and actually is really big for his age. The appointments with the radiologist and urologist confirmed the hydronephrosis/urine blockage, but the hope is that Beckett’s body will grow in all the right places enough over the next year that it’ll fix itself, with no need for surgery. For the time being, we are giving him a daily antibiotic prophylactically every day until he’s 18 months, at which point we’ll schedule another VCUG to see whether the issue is resolved.

Basically, he’s adorable, and we’re smitten.