Monday, November 27, 2006

The Picasso of Star Dune Avenue

I can't believe I didn't think about posting this last week. Man, I'm such a slacker. Here you go!

This is William's very first piece of artwork. It's not hanging on my refrigerator yet, but don't worry, it will be.

William made this (with my help) during our playgroup's Thanksgiving week meeting. The idea was for the parents to either trace their kids' hands or feet on the pieces of paper and then have the kids decorate them, or the parents could paint their kid's feet and stamp them on the paper. Katie, the playgroup organizer, furnished sheets of contact paper so that everyone could laminate the finished products and make coasters out of them.

Most of the kids ended up just painting on the sheets of paper. At first, I thought about trying to hold William's hand still and trace it on the paper, but I quickly realized that was probably futile. So I did something even sillier: I gave my seven month old child a little sponge paintbrush with paint on it and let him dab it on a sheet of paper.

Let me repeat that. I gave my seven month old child a paintbrush with paint on it. On purpose.

Needless to say, I held his hand very, very tightly in my own hand while he was doing this.

The result, you see before you. Doesn't he have a nice command of color and a good sense of placement on the page? Should this be considered his yellow period, or maybe, given the choice of paper color, his blue period? Heh. Anyway. He had fun. He didn't get too much paint on him. I got a piece of artwork to save for the baby book. Everybody won.

By the way, grandmas, you'll certainly get your fair share of refrigerator artwork in the years to come. I hope you don't mind if I save this first one for myself.


Gratuitous photo alert! Here's the little prince in one of his other Christmas outfits.

PT for me

Today was Career Day for William. He got to tour the local physical therapy office here in Twentynine Palms today, while I had my first physical therapy session for my Bell's Palsy. I guess I should say that today was another Career Day for William. He's already gotten a taste of the medical world, plus he's visited my old office at the newspaper.

The physical therapy session was really interesting. The therapist asked me a raft of questions about the Bell's Palsy---how it first developed, how it progressed, and how I've been regaining function, whether I've had any pain and where, about my past medical history, and so on. And she asked me a lot about my ears and the area around my left ear (my affected ear). She asked me if I'd ever had shingles or chicken pox. I had a monster case of chicken pox in 1979, which I told her about, and she asked if I'd had any pox in my ears. I didn't know, and when I called Mom, she didn't remember. Because there is supposedly a link between a herpes virus and the palsy, the therapist mused that it's possible there could have been a connection between the long dormant virus in my system and the palsy. She detected some inflammation in and around my left ear, and she talked a little about the possibility that I may still have some of the swelling putting pressure on the cranial nerve.

So she manipulated my head and neck to try to work the muscles and to see if she could determine more about the inflammation on my left side. Then I had some type of electric current therapy, where a technician directed a weak current through the muscle in my neck, sort of below my left ear. Then the therapist gave me some facial exercises to work on between sessions. I'm oversimplifying by summing up, of course, but she seemed very enthusiastic about being able to help me. I admit that I was relieved that the therapist called my case a "textbook case" and was optimistic about my regaining even more function. I had worried that she'd tell me that I'd likely never see any better movement in my face than what I have now. Obviously, I look much better than I did even a few months ago, but oh, it would be wonderful to regain even more movement and control.

William was good as gold during the whole session. He sat in his stroller and quietly played with his horse toy most of the visit, only occasionally serenading us with one of his little "songs." When the tech put the electrodes on my neck, however, William stopped playing and stared in fascination at the beeping machine. It sounded a little bit like those old electronic Battleship games to me, but I guess he'd never heard anything quite like it. The therapist laughed, too, when she glanced over at him while she was stretching my neck out because apparently he was gazing up at her with rapt attention, almost like he was memorizing her movements. Maybe! You never really know what goes on inside his little brain.

He was such a good baby today, especially considering that he hadn't had a nap all day, and my appointment was from 1 to 2 p.m. It was really gracious of the PT center and the therapist to let me bring him, too. Some places frown upon children, but not this place. They even told me that they could have an aide watch him if he was fussing while I still was undergoing treatment. For that, I really am grateful. I know that I can always put William in the CDC on base for a few hours, but it's nice to be able to save those occasions for other things.

Next PT is Wednesday afternoon.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

On the first day of Christmas...

The Christmas season has begun. Actually, the retail industry decreed that it began back in August, but for most of us, it doesn't really begin until after Thanksgiving. Turkey Day is now behind us, so I can now officially recognize Christmas as looming on the horizon. In accordance with that, I've pulled out William's wardrobe of holiday outfits, which have been sitting in a drawer, waiting for the right time. William just asked me to take his picture in one of his new Christmas outfits, and of course, I was willing to oblige. This was taken just moments ago, while he was sitting on my lap, helping me surf the 'Net....

Isn't it interesting, how I wouldn't dare be caught dead in a Christmas-themed sweater, but I have no problem dressing up my son (who has no choice in the matter) in all manner of crazy holiday costumes? My excuse is, well, he's cute. He'll be wearing jeans, T-shirts and sneakers all the time soon enough. Stay tuned, we'll be running through the Christmas wardrobe repertoire over the next five weeks or so--you know, to get as much wear out of the outfits as possible during the officially sanctioned Christmas period.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Turkey is just fine with William

We all know that David loves turkey. Turkey is crucial to David's enjoyment of Thanksgiving. So it was only appropriate that William receive his first taste of turkey on Thanksgiving Day.

Well, as it turns out, William is definitely his daddy's boy. Not that there was any doubt, mind you, but this would definitely clinch it. The boy loves--LOVES--turkey.

He took a long lovely nap on Thanksgiving afternoon while the adults were eating. But when he finally woke up, it was time for him to have his own little Thanksgiving feast. The menu: turkey, sweet potatoes and green beans.

I offered him his first bite of turkey (baby food turkey mixed with a little bit of formula, but still turkey), and he opened his little mouth warily to accept the food. But once he tasted it, his eyes widened a bit, and his mouth popped back open for more. He liked the turkey! He liked the gooey turkey mixture that even I was skeptical about. Here I was, all nervous because he's been anything from hostile to ambivalent about fruit, and then I sniffed the baby food turkey with some reservations but served it anyway. And apparently, turkey is A-OK with the little prince. Just like David, William loves his Thanksgiving turkey. He even scarfed up the leftovers on Friday evening, just like his daddy, who ate a big plate of leftover turkey, broccoli casserole, corn pudding, sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes.

Too bad that no commercial outfit makes baby pumpkin pie.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Twas the night before Thanksgiving

It's almost Thanksgiving time once again! I feel like all I've been doing the last few days is running back and forth to the grocery store, picking up items that I forgot to get on the last trip or to search for items that are hard-to-find "must haves." That is, they are "must haves" in David's universe. I'm not that picky about Thanksgiving dinner. Ask me about the year that my family ate lasagna for Thanksgiving. Also famous in Larson family lore is the hamloaf. It's a cousin to meatloaf. Or maybe more of the wacky uncle to meatloaf. But I digress.

And for the record, apricot JellO for the congealed salad that I won't eat is only available at the Stater Bros. grocery store. I know this because my parents braved about a half dozen grocery stores last year, only to forget which one actually sold the stuff. So this year, I trolled grocery stores until I found the silly stuff. Stater Bros. And no one seems to be selling David's favorite pie anymore, so I guess he'll have to settle for a Mrs. Smith's Homemade Pumpkin Pie this year, instead of the Mrs. Smith's Pumpkin Custard Pie. (Sorry, kid.)

Anyway, seeing as how it's Thanksgiving, I thought I'd just write down a few thoughts on what I'm thankful for this year. I'm always thankful for my family and friends, my health, the fact that I've been so lucky in life this far, and of course, I'm thankful for David. Last year, I remember being thankful that I was pregnant and that the morning sickness was starting to taper off a bit. This year, I'm so lucky to have a healthy, happy (most of the time) baby son who gets bigger and funnier every day. I look at William, and I really am thankful that he is here with me and David. Sure, there are times when I'm tired, or he's crying inconsolably, when I forget to be grateful. Usually those times come in the middle of the night, or when William is adamantly refusing to take a much-needed nap. But then there are times when he's bouncing in my lap, wobbling on his legs and "kissing" me all over my face and giggling, and well, it just doesn't get any better than that.

So, once again, I'm grateful for my family and friends, for David--and now also for William. I'm grateful that we'll be moving to Nashville next summer, and I'm grateful that I have a few minutes right now to write this all down, so that I don't forget.

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Don't forget to be thankful for the little things, not just the big things. The devil may be in the details, as the old cliche says, but God usually is, too. And check back here. I'll try to get some shots of William eating turkey tomorrow.

And just because it's a darling and hilarious photo, I'm going to post a picture of William and his friend Madison. A few of us got together this morning at Luckie Park. After a few strolls around the playground, the little ones got to take a few turns on the baby swings. Madison is officially a Big Girl--she can walk all by herself--so she helped William out by pushing his swing for him. Check out his expression. I promise that he really was having a good time!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

A friend the same age as William

Here's a really cute picture of William with his friend Mason.

Mason is six days older than William. I met his mom, Beth, a few months ago, and we realized that we had sons almost the exact same age. Mason's daddy is still in Iraq, so Beth is shouldering the duty of being two parents by herself right now. (I can't even imagine how she does it, but she does.) Since we both live off base, we decided to get together and hang out.

Beth and I are enjoying trading first-time-mom stories and comparing notes on baby products and other stuff. This stroller, that baby food, this toy, that outfit, and so on. How the boys reacted to eating certain solid foods, where to get the best baby outfits, what kind of car seat to buy next, etc. etc. So we get together and let the boys "play together" while we talk. Sure, Mason and William are really too young to "play together" right now, but we like to put them next to each other and let them check out the other baby.

On Thursday, we went over to their house for lunch and playtime. I put William down on a quilt on the floor. Mason's already crawling (!), and he crawled over and began touching William's head and face. Not to be outdone, William grabbed ahold of Mason's head and shoulders a couple of times. They seemed very curious about each other. William hasn't been around any other babies his exact age, so it's fun to watch his eyes widen as he takes it all in.

I've been telling William to take notes, too, since Mason's already got the crawling thing mastered and is closing in fast on standing. But Beth says that it's keeping her on her toes, trying to keep up with Mason, so maybe it's better if William stays put for a little while longer. It's nice to be able to put William on the floor with his blocks and not have to chase after him. Plus, we haven't even started babyproofing the house yet. I need to get moving on that, though, because William is already squirming around some, and I know these days are numbered.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

A visit with an old pal

Remember when William was a little tiny guy, and Mr. Froggy was nearly as big as he was? Yeah, I barely remember it either. Mr. Froggy's mostly been hiding out in a remote corner of William's crib these long months, but William rediscovered him the other day when he was looking for something to play with. Tonight, he decided to revisit his old pal. Notice that he's also clutching a couple of other pacifiers at the same time. It's a veritable festival of binkies in William's crib!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Keep that fruit away from me

So it seems that I have a kid--perhaps the only kid--who doesn't like fruit.

For a week, William happily ate applesauce. He ate it plain, he ate it warm, he ate it cool, he ate it mixed with oatmeal. He liked it any which way; with apologies to Dr. Seuss, I think he probably would have liked that applesauce with a fox, he would have liked that applesauce in a box.

Then, on Sunday, William changed his mind. He's free to do that, of course, but man, that was weird. All of a sudden, he made this horrible moue. He gagged and stuck his tongue out, and if he could have grabbed his throat with both hands, he probably would have done so. Instead, it was a series of gagging, rolling his eyes back in his head, and drooling the applesauce back out of his mouth.

Okay, I thought. You're on strike against applesauce. Let's try bananas. So on Monday, we introduced bananas.

Bananas. Strike two.

More of the "yuck!" face. It didn't matter if I setved the bananas warm, cold, or mixed up in oatmeal. He was like, "None of this stuff for me, Mom. No, sir."


David said optimistically, "Maybe he'll like pears. Or peaches."

Yeah. I hope so. How on earth did we have a baby who will happily gobble down suspicious-smelling green beans and peas but draws the gustatorial line at sweet, harmless fruits? Who knows? I warned William that if he didn't develop a fondness for bananas, he'd miss out on one of the great childhood experiences: eating a banana like a monkey. He was not persuaded.

So I guess we'll try the pears or peaches in a couple of days. I plan to keep offering the bananas for a couple more days, in the silly hope that William will change his mind. But David said that we probably could just put the bananas away and offer them again in a few more weeks. Or we could mush up some real bananas and see if William prefers their taste and texture to the admittedly rather viscous mixture that comes out of a baby food jar. I might try that, too.

But isn't this weird? Who choose green peas over applesauce? Squash over bananas? My son, that's who.

So on to the next fruit. Let's hope the little prince finds one that he'll deem worthy of his time.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Floor time

Another day, another discovery. William is sitting up on his own these days. Actually he's been doing it for quite awhile. But we discovered a little trick this week that allows him to sit upright on the floor and play with his toys without requiring us to sit right next to him in case he tips over.

We just put the Boppy nursing pillow behind him, sort of a just-in-case method of support. If he leans backward or too far to one side, the pillow is there to catch him. This helps him avoid the traumatic head-bonking that has brought other play sessions to an early finish. But he can still lean forward and sideways to reach his toys. This makes him Very Happy. This also makes Mommy and Daddy happy because we can put him down on the floor, and we don't have to sit right next to him with one vigilant hand ready to catch him--or at least break his fall.

Since he's just about to outgrow the bouncy chair (sniff, sniff) and the swing, this is a real godsend. We used to put him in the bouncy chair or swing when we needed to put him down for a little while. Well, he's growing like a weed, and we still need to be able to put him down for short periods of time while we fix or eat dinner, answer the phone, etc. etc. Now we can. With the added bonus of the fact that William really loves to be able to hang out with all his toys. Way more fun than just reclining in the bouncy seat. I'm getting a little nostalgic about the phasing-out of the bouncy seat, but the reality is we've been using it less and less over the last couple of months. His feet hang over the end of it, and he almost never drifts off to sleep in it anymore. I guess that we'll have to put it away soon.

I do have to admit, William is so much more fun now than he was when he was really little. He's so interactive. We've started playing peekaboo with him, and he loves that. And he laughs so much now, too. One of my new favorite things to do is to hold him up in front of me when he finishes nursing and allow him to "stand" in my lap. Usually, since he's just nursed, he's in a pretty good mood. He then locks his legs and stands on my lap, with my assistance, and just laughs and laughs. Then he sort of buckles forward and hugs me. It's really pretty wonderful.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Vote early and often

William got his first civics lesson yesterday. I took him with me to vote in the midterm election.

I voted in the primary back in June, but Mom was here, and she stayed with the baby while I dashed up the street to cast my ballot. This time, William accompanied me into the voting stall. I remember going with my own mother to vote, back when we were living in Hoover when I was a child. She always voted at our church, and I remember how she stood in line to have her name checked off on the list of voters. I remember being a little envious of the little oval white "I voted" sticker that she would receive, since that was the era in which I was so nuts about stickers that I had about three different jam-packed sticker books. But the message definitely came through: vote, and vote every time that you have the opportunity to do so. I plan to make sure that William learns the same lesson.

So William went to the seventh-day adventist church that is home to my polling station. For his patriotism yesterday, he got a "I voted electronically" sticker, which I promptly affixed to his overalls. He wore it proudly...until he tried to eat it and I had to take it away from him. Ah well. Still. I hope it's just the beginning of William's future as an American citizen taking an active role in shaping the future of his country.

Now, if we can just get him to learn the lesson that it's a good thing to sleep all night long, we'll be doing great. He was sleeping so well, usually going from around 8:30 or 9 until around 6 to...well, I can't even keep track of all the nighttime wakeups that he's had the last few nights. He settles down if he sees you standing over the crib, but then he wails when you walk away. Sometimes he is crying because he has spit out his binky, and then other times, he wails with the binky still in his mouth. I'm not sure what to do.

Last night, after we split about six different trips into the baby's room, David speculated that William's beginning to start teething. So I gave William a dose of grape-flavored Tylenol. He quieted down for maybe 45 minutes. That's it. Nothing seems to be working to convince William that a good night's sleep is good for everyone, himself included. We're discussing sleep-training, but we're wondering if we should give him another night or two to work things out, since we have been out of town so much lately---and that does tend to wreak havoc on his sleeping. All I know is that I really, really want a full night's sleep again, and much as I love my son, I really don't want to see--or hear!--this much of him at night.

Who knows. Maybe last night, he was keyed up about his first voting experience. But hopefully, we'll find a solution to this little problem. As everyone knows, I dont' function very well without enough sleep. It's not pretty.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Rhodes Scholar

I promised to write about my recent trip to Memphis, and here I am, following up on my promise.

My college class held its tenth reunion in late October. It's hard to believe that I've been a Rhodes grad for ten years (and counting) now, but there you go. Since moving to California, I've only made it back to Memphis a couple of times, and I had only barely seen the campus in the last few years. So for months, I looked forward to seeing all my old friends, seeing the campus again, and introducing William to both my friends and my college. He also got to meet his great-grandfather, Grandaddy Dudley, since we stayed at Grandaddy Dudley's house for the long weekend.

Even though David couldn't go with us, I'm so glad that William and I went. William, Mom and I toured the campus on that Friday afternoon. As alumnae, Mom and I both got official Rhodes Homecoming buttons, and they even humored me and gave me one for William. So all weekend, he wore a button that said "William Wyckoff, Class of '28".

But the best part was seeing everyone. Other than Nancy, I hadn't seen any of my friends since becoming pregnant or having William. It felt so good to see everyone again. Of course, William had to meet his auntie Loretta, since she is going to be the bad influence on him as he grows up, heh heh.

And he got to meet so many of my other friends, too...

And he definitely had to spend some quality time with Phuong, without whom I might not have survived parenthood. If I can one day help a new mom friend even half as much as she has helped me, well, I'll be doing pretty good. Here's a photo of Phuong and William in the traditional Rhodes College Homecoming Beer Garden. Don't worry, William consumed no beer (that I know of).

So now William has gotten a small taste of what it's like to be a Rhodes Scholar. (Yes, of course, you knew that joke was coming. I guess you can never beat that dead horse too much.) Two college visits in one month. Not bad for a six-month old. I'll give him some more time to decide which one he wants to attend. No rush. He doesn't actually have to submit his application for another, oh, seventeen years. He will have to go back for a future visit, of course. He didn't get a chance to ride the Lynx or eat in the Rat. We did wander through the Rat, but given that we're still introducing basic foods to him, I didn't think it would be kind to subject my young son to Wild Italian Skillet so soon.

I have a bunch of other photos, too, and I'll try to post some of them later. Also, friends, if you have some good ones, send them my way and I'll post them. I have a series of photos of a bunch of the Bellingrath Babes, and in every single of them, someone has her eyes closed (Jessica, Emoke, I'm looking at you!).

By the way, William loved his Great-Grandaddy Dudley. Grandaddy had lots of toys to play with, including a small wooden train engine, that kept William very happy while he was sitting in his high chair, waiting for someone to feed him already.