Saturday, March 2, 2013

Pardon the Interlude

We went through the same thing this time last year, didn't we? Around November I disappear, and after the new year I resolve to update regularly (but I never keep that resolution), the few of you that check the blog regularly nudge me to update (but I lose track of time), and then I reappear months later with a huge recap of what we've been doing.

Same old stuff; different year.


I can't entirely fault the holidays for my absence this year. Part of it coincided with going back to work. Even though it's only part-time, as expected, I've had a tough time limiting myself to part-time hours. Let's face it, I'm an all-or-nothing kind of gal. The work/life balance is... challenging. Good challenging, but challenging still. Most nights I come home, cook dinner, play with Hank, do the bedtime routine, and by the time I'm walking out of Hank's room at 9:00, I'm too brain-dead to think about writing. Most nights I'm too brain-dead to even veg on the couch and watch TV with Brad. Is that even possible?


Enough excuses. Let's get on to what you came here for--Hank updates!


Terrible twos? We're in the thick of it. But honestly, despite the occasional tantrums, senseless badgering (why? WHY? whyyyy?) and I-do-it-by-myself moments, two is pretty fun. Since Hank started daycare, his language skills have exploded. BAM! We went from stringing two to three words together somewhat reluctantly, to full-blown conversations. Practically overnight.


He blows my mind with conversations like this:


(sitting in the truck listening to the radio. He's in his car seat  facing backward, and I'm in the driver seat facing forward.)

Hank: What's that, Mama?
Me: Can you describe "that"? We're not looking in the same direction.
Hank: THAT.
Me: (craning my neck to see what's behind us) What? You have to describe it. I'm not facing the same way
(this is a regular debate in our car. If ever there were a reason I'll turn him to face forward, it would be to escape this endless battle.)
Hank: On the radio.
Me: Oh, it's a commercial.
Hank: No, it's a intalude.
Me: (Internal dialog: "a intalude"? What the heck is that? What is he trying to say?)

And then the light bulb went off. We were listening to a commercial and there was a little jingle in the middle of the ad. An interlude. I'm dumbfounded.


Me: You mean an interlude?

Hank: Yeah!

I call Brad, completely floored by the sheer genius of our son. 


Me: You are never going to guess what Hank just said! (relay the story to Brad)

Brad: (belting laughter) Ha! I can't believe he remembered!
Me: What the heck are you talking about?

Apparently, everyday when Brad and Hank are in the car on the way to school, they listen to NPR. You know how NPR always plays those little jingles in between their spots? Well, apparently every day Hank pesters him about the name of the song, and Brad finally just told him that it doesn't have a name, it's just and interlude.


I still think my kid is pretty brilliant. How many two-year-olds know what a musical interlude is and can correctly identify one out of sequence? 


He's also the most polite two-year-old I've run across. Examples?

He says "bless you" to the cats when they sneeze.
If you hand him something, he says "thank you"
If he does something for you and you say "thank you," he says "you're welcome"

And then he says things like this:

Me: Would you like to have a grilled cheese for dinner?
Hank: No, I don't want that, but thank you anyway

What? But thank you anyway? Who says that? Oh wait. I do. That's my standard answer to him when he offers me a piece of food that he's slobbered on, or wants me to "play cars" for the umpteenth time, or tries to dictate what shoes I should wear. I guess he picked up on that one. But hey, I'm not complaining! At least it wasn't a four-letter word he picked up on.


Although, he does say "dang it" sometimes. We're working on that one.


Don't get me wrong, he has his difficult and flat-out not polite moments. Visit our house any given morning, and you'll find two sweaty, beleaguered parents, one toddler half-dressed and screaming, and his discarded (and adamantly refused!) wardrobe scattered on the living room floor. Check in with us at bedtime, and you'll find lots of bargaining, lots of stall tactics, and plenty of tears -- none of which are limited to Hank. If you have the honor of dining out with us... well, I'll just pray you catch us on a good day. Otherwise, get your food to-go!


Despite his typical mercurial two-year-old personality, I'm enjoying my time with Hank more so at this age than any other so far. Talk to me this time next year, and hopefully I'll say the same about three!


Here are some pictures from back in December. We were doing a Christmas craft together. I promise to have more updated pictures soon! Just need to get the camera card downloaded.







Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thankful

This morning while I was upstairs getting ready, Hank was downstairs playing with his train tracks and I heard him do something that made my knees buckle from desperate cuteness, my mind boggle with amazement and my heart explode with love.

Hank made up a song.

I honestly never thought I would be the type of parent that was so stupefied by her child singing something of his own creation that I would write a blog about it, but I guess I was wrong.

Honestly, y'all, I about keeled over from the joy I felt. I sounds silly because it's such a simple thing, but to me, it really drove home how much of his own person he's become. It has so much more impact when it's not just his brain regurgitating something he's learned, but his imagination developing something all on its own. Mind blowing, really.

What was this new chart topper, you ask? Sing this to the tune of The Farmer in the Dell:

The trains are coming home
The trains are coming home
We are so happy, the trains are coming home

Maybe he's just a one-hit wonder, but it's a single that I'd buy any day.


I apologize for the lack of blog posts in October (and November, too). Interestingly, it coincided with a pretty big development in my life -- a return to an office job! 

If you recall back to my post recapping Hank's first year, I mentioned that my goal had been to stay home with Hank for the first year and see how it went from there. After a year, I wasn't quite ready to leave him, so I decided to enjoy my freelance work and my time home with him for a little while longer. 

By the end of the second year, I was starting to sing a different tune. The first year had been HARD, but with all the milestones coming one on top of the other, it passed quicker than I'd planned. But the second year brought fewer firsts, and milestones weren't quite as quick to happen, and I found myself feeling less enamored with being a 24-7 mom. It was a tough decision to make, but I knew it was probably time for me to get an out-of-the-house job again. 

I was lucky enough that my old company had a part-time position to be filled by a co-worker and friend that was leaving to have a baby of her own. So, while she left for full-time motherhood, I stepped in as part-time working woman. The first week was surprisingly unemotional for me, so I think the timing of going back to work was spot on. 

As it turns out, Hank loves school and has really blossomed by being in that environment with other kids his age. It also turns out that I am a much better mom, an easier to get along with wife and an overall happier person when I'm out of the house a couple days a week.

I work three full days in a row and then I have four full days home with Hank. I find that at the end of my three days at the office, I'm really missing Hank and thinking, "man, I can't wait to get home a play with him!" And after four days with him, I'm thinking, "man, I can't wait to get back to work!" 

I won't say it's been a perfect transition, but I do think that we're a happier family on the whole.



And in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I'll leave you with 10 Things that Make Me Thankful for Hank:
  1. I'm thankful for his inquisitive mind that asks me tormentingly repetitive questions, because I know that means he's learning everything he can at a rate faster than I can come up with creative answers.
  2. I'm thankful for his staccato laughter that seems to emanate from his core and shake his body to its very ends. I will never grow tired of hearing his giggle fits. Ever.
  3. I'm thankful for his sweet voice. His speaking voice is sugary music to my ears.
  4. I'm thankful for his kind heart that makes him worry about people when they are upset. He comforts others with words of assurance when he thinks they're sad or hurting. 
  5. I'm thankful for his crazy hair that sticks straight up when he wakes in the morning. It makes me feel like he's slept hard enough to rejuvenate overnight, growing into a bigger, stronger, smarter kiddo.
  6. I'm thankful for his independence that makes him fight me to put on his shoes by himself, or open the door when we're walking outside. I know this means he's developing a healthy sense of self.
  7. I'm thankful for Hank kisses. They are the sweetest kisses in the world. He doesn't give them easily, but when he does, it's out of the blue and clearly from the heart. An "I love you, Mommy" and a kiss on the cheek when we're in the middle of reading a story means more to me one I ask for.
  8. I'm thankful for his toots. (Yup, I said it!) Let's face it, they won't be nearly as cute as he gets older, so I should appreciate them now. 
  9. I'm thankful for his toothy smile. The big gaps between his teeth, his goofy overbite, his missing bottom tooth that never came in. I'll take it all just to see that smile that lights my world
  10. I'm thankful that he's mine. He's turned me into a person I never imagined I'd be. He exhausts me, but he drives me. He's what keeps me going when I want to stop. I'm thankful for every second he's been in my life.





Sunday, September 30, 2012

My Jawona

I'm embarrassed to admit this, though there are a few that may be proud (Auntie Dannie, I'm looking at you), but there is a strong possibility that Hank's favorite song is 'My Sharona'. Yes, the 'My Sharona' by The Knack. The one from Reality Bites. The one that is wildly inappropriate for a toddler to be singing. That's the one.

It all came about because I was playing the soundtrack to Reality Bites when we were running errands one day. Stop judging. I've had a hard time letting go of the '90s, okay? That's the first song on the CD, and it booms out with these thumping drum beats in the opening notes. Hank loves them. And by loves, I mean requests it over and over and over and over. As soon as it ends, he calls out, "I want drums!" from the back seat. And then he repeats that exclamation until I relent and start the song over.

I've listened to that song so much that I barely even notice when it's playing. I've passed the point of being sick of it. My ears have already done all the bleeding they're going to do. Now it's become such a part of my life that it's like breathing -- I don't even notice it until I think about it, and then it's freaky and annoying and it's hard to stop thinking about it.

So now Hank runs around the house yelling, "My Jawona!" at the top of his lungs and periodically stopping to bust out an eight-count worth of dance moves. It's both adorable and slightly embarrassing.

We were at a friend's house for dinner on Friday night, when mid-meal Hank disappears and we hear him playing their piano. He bangs out a couple notes, which is cute, and then Brad and I hear him yell, "My Jawona!" And we hang our heads in embarrassment and start laughing. After we explained what he was singing, they were able to catch it on video just to share in this awesomeness.

Here is Hank's enthusiastic rendition of 'My Jawona' featuring his buddy Sam. (Turn down your speakers a little, because these kids are loud!)


I'll have to do another blog post about Hank's love of music, because his taste is... ummm... eclectic. And amusing.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Sand and Saltwater

Our last family beach trip was kind of a disaster. Or, at least it felt that way when you compared it to this year's beach trip. I suppose that's the difference between taking a 4-month-old to the beach for a week and taking a 2-year-and-4-month-old to the beach for a week.

This year's beach trip was full of sand, water, laughter, running, scooping, shoveling and smiles. Pretty much what a beach trip should be. To say Hank loved it would be the understatement of the century. 

Sand and saltwater agree with this kid.

(A side note: When I took this picture, we were walking back up to our house. I asked him to walk up four stairs, sit down and look out at the ocean so I could get a picture of him. And he did it. H even counted the stairs 1...2...3...4 as he climbed them.)

Sitting on the porch with Lola, Auntie Alex and part of Aidan

Don't ask me why he's wearing a hat on the only non-sunny day we had, but refused to wear it on all the sunny days. He's two.

Family portrait
 
Sand toys equal mucho entertainment. I actually read four whole pages of a book before he recruited me to fetch water from the ocean for his sand laboratory experiments.

With Daddy, a little unsure of the waves. That didn't last long!

Brad played with this very same truck when he was Hank's age. Hank pushed it up and down the beach at low tide, collecting rocks and shells.


He took them out one-by-one and told me about each one. 
 





I've never seen this child beam quite the way he did on the beach. It encompassed all the things he loves the most -- outside, lots of open space to run, sand and Mama and Daddy letting him be free.


I can't wait to do this again with him! I feel like we built so much confidence as a family. Sometimes after long periods of groundhog days, you forget how much a change in routine can refresh you. While I won't say it was a relaxing trip (is anything relaxing with a young child?), I will say that it was FUN.


























Friday, August 31, 2012

From my sleep-deprived creative slump...

Much has happened in our little household since I've been away from the blog. (Honestly, I've thought about blogging approximately 9,426 times, but I've really lacked the energy to do anything about it.) This summer:


  • We enjoyed a visit from my awesome friend Rebecca, who came all the way from Seattle just to enjoy the 105+ degree temps.
  • The family survived a trip to Elizabeth City for the 4th of July that included an overheating car and being stranded for several hours in a gas station parking lot with a crazy two-year-old in 100 degree heat. (Go ahead. Ask me about how fun that was.)
  • I braved (or giddily departed on. Whichever.) a fantastic girls-only vacation in San Francisco to see Alice and Dannie. And rub Al's precious baby belly.
  • Hank went to "summer camp" for the first time. Three half-days a week for five weeks!
  • Hank went from a difficult, but decent, sleeper to an all-out non-sleeping, non-napping fool.


That last one has been the kicker. It's probably also been much of the reason I stopped blogging. And much of the reason I've stopped feeling human.

How can a two-year-old only require 9-10 hours of sleep TOTAL in a 24-hour period? That seems to defy the laws of nature. Or at least the laws of gravity, at best. Don't you eventually get so tired you just fall over?

We even asked his pediatrician about it and she said that some kids don't require as much sleep as others. Thing is, if I'm going to wrangle him all day, I am going to require him to get more sleep. He's a giant gorilla without naps. But, alas, we are down to maybe two, three if we're lucky, one-hour naps a week. And that typically requires a battle to make happen.

And then there's the night sleep. We've tried to be diligent about having a good bedtime routine and keeping everything consistent, but when it comes time for bed, he's a crazed animal bouncing off the walls. I can't tell you how many times I've thrown my hands up in the air and waved the white flag.

My sapped creative energy is directly correlated to the amount of sleep I'm not getting. That I am sure of.

Outside of that, there are a lot of fun Hank updates to note!

He now has all of his teeth, minus his two-year molars and one bottom side tooth that has yet to appear. That only took 2.25 years! I swear a couple months ago, I asked the dentist if there were a possibility that he just didn't have some baby teeth. I'm still questioning that one bottom tooth, but I'm feeling more confident now that I can at least see the rest of them.

He speaks! Actually, he talks a lot. And he cracks me up on a daily basis. And though there are many days when I wish he wouldn't ask the same question 50,000 times in a row without taking a breath, I really do love listening to his thoughts. It always amazes me the things he's absorbed without any direct teaching.

He's adventurous as always. There isn't a part of the outdoors this little boy doesn't love. Except for spider webs. Every time he encounters a spider web, he panics and frantically claws at his arms and body and cries for me to "wipe it off!!!" He's a lot like his Mama.





He's braver than I anticipate. We recently attended his friend Maggie's second birthday and there were donkey rides. Fun! I didn't doubt for a second that he would want to ride the little donkey, but he surprised me when he asked to ride again on the big one. He loved it! He also wanted to ride the pretend horses. And the goats.




He loves our newly fixed-up backyard. It's like a little slice of heaven for him. (And for me. Because it's contained! At least until he figures out how to scale the fence) He has a sandbox, a water pool and table, a lawnmower, etc. and he loves exploring all the areas I don't want him to go into because I fear the weird, creepy bugs that might be lurking in there. But as long as there are no spider webs, he doesn't bat an eye.




He's learning to co-exist with the kitties rather than using them to practice his wrestling moves. I mean, he still does that occasionally, but at least now it's interspersed with some nice pats and random sharing of food. Harry (pictured) is starting to appreciate Hank's holding up of his end of the food-sharing bargain.


The twos are definitely trying, exhausting, stressful, frustrating and occasionally infuriating, but they are also entertaining, heartwarming, hilarious, and amazing. Just don't ask me how much I love it until after I've had some caffeine.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Two

Did you know that my little boy turned two last week? TWO. I can't believe it. I know parents say all the time that they can't believe how fast the years go by, but it's so very, very true. The days are long, but the years are short.

Hank and Lala

So much is different now than I thought it would be. I'm not really sure what I thought it would be like to have a two-year-old, but I didn't really expect this. The love I have for this child is like nothing I've ever known. It's fleeting, tender, melt-your-heart moments that make me realize exactly how intense that love is: a flash of a devilish grin when he's doing something naughty, arms reaching for me when he's hurt or scared, outrageous belly laughs when I tickle him, tackling hugs that seem completely out of the blue, a toothy smile when I applaud him, a quiet sigh when he's falling asleep.

I often think about how different the love I feel for him is from the love I have for others. When I think of my parents, the love is a sentimental, unquestioning, tried-and-true sort of love. When I think of Brad, it's a we're a team, foundational, intense sort of love. But when I think of Hank, it's something entirely different. It's mama-bear, you keep me breathing, ferocious sort of love. In some moments, its intensity is blinding.

Being a mother is by far the hardest thing I've ever done. It's relentless.

And I wouldn't trade it for anything.


Last Sunday, Hank came down with a fever. For most of the day, Brad and I thought it was no big deal. He gets sick occasionally. More often than not, he gets a pretty high fever when he's sick. But as the day went on, it was clear that something was different this time. It surprised me how much my instinct was telling me that something was wrong. I couldn't focus on anything else. I watched him with a quick, sharp eye. I analyzed everything. I could not beat down that nagging feeling that something was very wrong.

In the early evening, we decided to call the after-hours nurse line at our pediatrician's office. We took his temperature one last time before calling (it had been around 102 for most of the day). Brad and I stared in disbelief as we saw the thermometer immediately climb. Within seconds, it beeped at 106.6 and total urgency set in. We decided to head straight to the emergency room.

Before I get any further, I'll tell you that Hank is totally fine. He had a virus that his body pretty much went nuclear on (Brad's words). He's just a high-fever sort of kid, and though it's terrifying, it's ultimately a good thing.

What surprised me the most about this whole experience was the completely visceral reaction I had. I couldn't stop crying! And not quiet crying, but completely uncontrollable, ugly-face crying. I was terrified. My mind went to terrible places. I was even more scared when I saw the surprise on the nurse's face in triage. And the fear and concern on Brad's face. It wasn't until his fever came down and Hank perked up that I was able to rein my emotions back in.

That's not just my baby, that's part of me, and all I wanted to do was make him okay.

I've had to get used to the change in my emotions since becoming a mother. Everything seems just a little stronger since Hank came into the picture. Happiness is a little happier, sadness is a little sadder, and fear is definitely more intense. But, I'm sure that's nothing different than what every other mother on the planet has gone through, including my own mother. And judging by the way my Mom still watches over me, I'm guessing those feelings aren't going to go away anytime soon.

And I'm okay with that, because each time I kiss him goodnight and flop down on the couch with utter exhaustion, I can think back on the day and smile at the thought that my little man is growing, learning, thriving, and becoming more than just a part of me, he's becoming his own little person.

Busying myself in the kitchen...

Hank has been all about anything having to do with the kitchen lately. Whenever he's at Lala's house (that's my Mom), he loves to stand at the sink and play in the water. This is very convenient since my Mom spends about 90% of her waking hours in the kitchen making some sort of delicious eatable. 

 Sometimes he just likes to get in the sink to play. Impromptu bath time!


Because Hank is always trying to "cook" with me, I thought it might be nice to get him a little kitchen of his own. The very day I pulled up Craigslist to see what might be available, this cute little play kitchen popped up for $25! Including all of the food and utensils! What a steal! Hank spent the better part of an afternoon organizing his kitchen. So many doors to open and close, and so many things to put in them!


On a total side note... it's been brought to my attention that some people might think it's weird that my son loves a play kitchen. Apparently, some think it's a girl's toy. Last time I checked, the culinary world is pretty much male dominated. And even if it weren't, it's a TOY, folks. And a toy that keeps him occupied, at that.


Pretty sure these go here.

And these spoons can go here

I think I'm ready to cook something!

Pizza's done! 
Hank told me that the burners were "loud." (They making a little ticking and bubbling sound that is definitely not loud) So I asked him if they were loud, or if they made noise? Now he tells me that the burners are "loud make noise." Ha!


 Lala introduced him to this fun activity. And it buys me 30 minutes to get dinner ready. Win! You have to be able to tolerate a little water on the counters and the floor, but as my Mom constantly reminds me, "it's just water, it'll clean up!" I'm learning to be a lot more relaxed about these things.

Filling his pot up with water to make pasta with Mama

Do you have any more cups? "More, more, more cups?"

"Spoon. Waday."

Sampling the water to make sure it's still good

Tippy-toes

Too many cooks in the kitchen, Mama.