Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A Halloween preview

Ever since I found William's Halloween costume at a consignment sale last month, I've gotten a kick out of making him try it on. He's going to be a frog, complete with webby frog hands. Hey, he'll be picking out his own clothes and Halloween costume in a couple of years. I have to enjoy my limited time as the person in charge. I mean, heck. My parents will tell you that my tenure as the Most Opinionated Person They Know started early. (Just ask them about the East Pants Incident.) So I fully expect William to choose his own costume next year and not pay any attention to what Mommy wants.

Here's a preview:

I took Nancy's recent visit as yet another good excuse to pull out the ol' Halloween costume. As it turns out, Nancy and I are big meanies. William discovered he couldn't pick up his pumpkin with his webbed hands. He stood there, bent over his pumpkin, grunting and crying with frustration as he made repeated futile attempts to grab the handle. "Oh, honey, I didn't realize you wouldn't be able to pick it up. You don't have any hands, do you?" Nancy said, as it dawned on her why he was upset. Then, of course, we began to laugh very very hard because, let's face it: it was pretty hilarious. But Nancy quickly too pity on William and pulled his hands out of the mits so he could have his hands free at last. What a softy.

Okay, I realize I am biased, but I think William's just about the cutest thing ever in that costume. Part of it comes from the fact that he seems pretty delighted to wear it. But really, until you've seen a small fleece frog climb your staircase, his webbed hands going splat, splat, splat on the carpet, you are missing out on a Great Joy in Life.

So late this afternoon, we'll get the frog costume out one last time. I plan to take William trick or treating to a handful of houses just on our street....mostly for the photo opportunities and to show him off. Any candy he collects is incidental (and off limits, at least this year). I think I'm more excited about taking him trick or treating than I ever was about going myself!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Sleep challenges

An email from a friend recently told me about her toddler daughter's sudden resistance to sleeping through the night. Boy, could I relate to that! While William and I were visiting Ma and Pa Larson in Natchez, William suddenly decided that it was time for a nap strike and oh yes, how about waking up a bunch of times in the night or wee hours to cry "Mama?"

I was ready to bang my head against the wall. And rarely do I want to inflict pain on myself. Mom kept reassuring me that the sleep strike was likely because William was out of sorts: he spent a lot of time travelling in the car, then he was sleeping in an unfamiliar bed in a new place with lots of other people around. But I was going nuts. He resisted going down for the night every single night. I put him in the Pack n Play, and instead of rolling onto his tummy and cuddling up with Natty and his blanky, and sighing contentedly, he tightened up and resisted lying down. He'd squirm and wiggle as soon as we got within three feet of the bed, in fact. Then he'd stand up and call out for me. And then he'd cry. Argh. It was more or less the same at naptime. I had to go back and forth into the room about ten times to convince him to just lie down already and go night night.

Normally, my son is an excellent sleeper, something I sort of pride myself on. Other kids may have walked early or speak lots of easily recognizable words, but by George, my son can sleep like a champ! Usually, I can plop him down into his bed, make sure he has all his stuff and leave the room. Once the door shuts, he knows it's time to sleep, so he does. Sometimes, yes, he talks to himself for a little while or plays with his stuffed animals and books or takes off his socks (okay, he always takes off his socks), but within ten minutes or so, all is quiet in William Land. Ah, bliss. Two hours of daytime bliss, sometimes a smidge more. At least ten hours of nighttime bliss, often a bit more.

So of course, that's the weak link in this chain: my dependence on William's ability to sleep so well. And when we were out of town, he decided to exploit that. Ack. The worst night was the night we spent in Memphis. Not only did he sleep in the same room with me and my mom, but he was in that unfamiliar bed AND he woke up with a wheezy, croupy cough. That was a horrible night. My mom is the only reason that I didn't fling myself out the window that night. She got up with the baby twice as many times as I did.

And okay, it was a one-story house, so flinging myself out the window (should we have pried it open more than the eight inches wide that we did) would have lacked something in drama. But still. It was a bad night.

The first night we were home last week, David and I had to resort to letting William cry it out. He didn't really need anything; he had just gotten used to seeing Mama in his bedroom. So we gritted our teeth and let him cry for about 20 minutes until he got the message and gave up. He hit the mattress in resignation, we sighed in relief at 3:30 a.m., and we all rolled over to get some much-needed sleep. No major problems since then, thank God.

And I'm more cheerful now. It's amazing what sleep can do for you!

Also, apropo of nothing, can I just tell you how cute William looked in the car today when he fell asleep on the way home from Gymboree? We'd been in the car about five minutes. He had been eating raisins from a little box, and I could see his eyelids getting droopy. I asked him if he wanted me to take the half-empty box and put it up. But he said, "Nooooo,"* and clutched it more tightly. Two minutes later, he was sacked out, still clutching the open box in his right hand. His little head dropped over to the left, and his mouth was open just a tiny bit. He looked like a little sleeping angel. A little angel with smudges of raisins on his chin.

*He just started saying "No" on Friday night, when his Grandaddy Aaron was feeding him dinner. Naturally he wants to get in lots of practice in his newfound skill.

Saturday, October 27, 2007


Man, I'm so behind on my blogging. We were in Natchez, then in Memphis, then back here, where we've been crazy busy.

But until I catch my breath and can write something thoughtful, here is a photo from Natchez. Daddy dug out my brother's old express wagon and took William for a ride in the neighborhood. It was a big hit. So much so that we took William to a party last weekend in the wagon, instead of his stroller.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The great hot air balloon festival

This is what we're doing today:

William and I are in Natchez, and we're attending the Great Mississippi River Balloon Race. We're getting to see the hot air balloons up close and in person. And let me just tell you, no way no how would you EVER convince me to get in one of those things. But wow, they are spectacular to look at! William is fascinated by them; well, he's not a big fan of the inflating process because he doesn't like the loud noise caused by the fire heating the air inside the balloons, but oh, he's having so much fun looking at the huge balloons.

We're headed back down to the river bluff to watch the big race at 4 p.m. We've seen them inflate some of the balloons, and we've seen some drifting overhead through the town. Now we're going to watch them take off, en masse.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Prime photo opportunity

So William and I were hanging out with Chewbacca last Saturday at the Southern Festival of Books...

Why was Chewbacca at a book fair, you ask? Presumably in honor of some guy who has written a series of Star Wars novels.

I'm sort of feeling bad for all the authors at the festival now. They slave and slave over their books for years, and yet at the big event that ostensibly celebrates them and their work, everyone wants to have their picture taken with Chewbacca. And not even the (gasp!) real Chewbacca, but some sweaty, undoubtedly underpaid guy on stilts in a mangy furry costume (er yes, not radically different from the real guy who played Chewbacca--a sweaty guy on stilts in a mangy furry costume). And his arms were noticeably too short. (Seriously, look at the picture.)

Even me, a writer myownself. I made my toddler son have his picture taken with me and fake Chewbacca.

But man, how often do you get to have your picture taken with Chewbacca?

(And for what it's worth, we also took William's picture with Clifford the Big Red Dog and the Berenstein Bears. You know, the real literary types.)

Monday, October 15, 2007

Binky free at last?

Last night, we put William to bed at his usual time. David read the bedtime story to William in the rocking chair, while I hung up the damp bath towel and put fresh water in the sippy cups in the crib. I turned out the light, and David pulled up the crib rail, and we both told William that we loved him. And we left the room, pulling the door shut behind us.

As we were walking out of the room, David held out his hands toward me. Nestled in his palms were a half-dozen binkies--all the binkies from the crib. William's last stash. Without telling (that is, warning) me in advance, David had declared the night to be the start of William's Binky-Free Life. Binky Independence Day. The Liberation of the Binkies.

"He is not going to be happy," I told David.

"He doesn't need the binkies anymore," David defended himself. "He has Natty and his blanky, and he loves them. He doesn't need a binky."

"Well, you're going to have to deal with him," I said. "Because he doesn't know that he doesn't need a binky anymore."

See, I was the child who stubbornly held onto her own pacifier for a long time, long past the age when my parents wanted me to give it up. (Please don't ask how long that was.) And I turned out okay.

So I really didn't think it's a big deal that William still uses a binky when he's going to sleep. Still don't. Months and months ago, we started limiting his binky use until he only had access to one when he was physically in his crib. So, it's not like he walks around with one in his mouth. It's not like anyone other than us even sees him with one. The ladies at Mother's Day Out never even give him a binky for naptime there. He's not one of those kids who is speaking complete sentences around the pacifier in his mouth. Er, not that I would have any idea about that. Nosirree.

But David insisted that William needed to give up his binky habit altogether by the time he turned 18 months old. William turns 18 months old on Oct. 22. David's (artificially imposed) deadline is looming. So David took binkies into his own hands. And believing that parents need to present a united front, generally speaking, I sighed and said, "Okay, fine."

William sobbed pitifully for awhile after he realized there were no binkies drifting between the stuffed animals in the crib. I looked at David and raised my eyebrow. "He doesn't need one anymore," he said defensively.

I love how David has decided what William needs to go to sleep. Can you imagine how David would react if someone else decided what David needs to go to sleep!? I mean, we, the parents, make all the decisions for William: what pajamas he wears, what stuffed animals stay in the crib, even whether to leave the ceiling fan on at night. It's appropriate that we make all the decisions. But is it really so bad to let him choose to use a binky or not? Is it so terrible to give him a tiny bit of control over something so small?

David said something about William needing braces one day if we didn't act now. I muttered something back about how any kid of ours was going to need braces no matter what. But I didn't do anything.

So, as the crying escalated, David and I each took a turn going into William's room. We patted his head and back, handed Natty to him and draped his frog blanket over him. He finally settled down, putting his head down on the mattress and clutching Natty to his chest. I held my breath as I tiptoed out of his room. I sat down in front of the computer in our home office, and leaned sideways, wondering if I was hearing some fussing. Luckily, William must have been tired enough to drop off to sleep.

At 12:30 p.m., the sound of angry crying roused me out of a deep slumber. Confused, I rolled over in bed. David heard the crying, too. "This was your idea," I muttered. "It's your turn." David stumbled out of our room. When he returned, he said something about still not giving him the binky. "You can put this on your blog," he said. "You can write about how mean David took away William's binkies."

I decided right then that if I had to make a trip down the hall in the middle of the night, my son was getting his binky. I had enough nights of interrupted sleep when I was getting up and down to breastfeed. At least that served a purpose.

But the next thing I knew, National Public Radio was blaring across our bedroom. David turned off his alarm clock and headed for the shower. There had been no more middle-of-the-night wakeups. Hallelujah! I gleefully told my friends Emoke and Phuong at lunch how William managed to make it a whole night without his pacifier.

As an experiment, I put William down for his afternoon nap today without a binky. He was already pretty groggy, haven fallen asleep in the car on the way home from lunch. I honestly didn't expect him to give into a binky-free nap, but so far, so good. Maybe this really will work. Maybe William really doesn't need a binky anymore. Maybe Natty and the frog blanky are comforting enough.

But I'm still taking a couple of binkies with me to Natchez this week.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Keep the streak alive

We have now gone two full weeks without darkening the doorstep of the pediatrician's office. Go, us! Maybe we can make it three full weeks. Who here's a betting man?

That is, I think we can make it three full weeks if William doesn't contract something, like, oh say, anthrax. See, we went to the zoo Thursday. It was the perfect fall day, and I was itching to get outside. We just meandered around, checked out whatever was in our path. And William got to pet a sheep!

Afterward, David says to me, "Make sure you wash his hands really well before he eats, just in case the sheep has anthrax." I think he was kidding. I think.

I mean, who's the most likely person to contract some really weird disease? Hello, the doctor's kid!

Checking out the elephants:

Two boys, out for a leisurely stroll:

Thursday, October 11, 2007

What's in your purse?

Some people (fashionistas) can tell a lot about a woman by what kind of purse she carries. Well, I see an important corollary to that theory: you can tell a lot about a woman by what she carries in her purse. It's like that credit card commercial slogan: what's in YOUR purse?

When Miller was visiting a few weeks ago, she was very amused by the choice of reading material that I carry around in my sizeable purse. Once upon a time, I might have carried a novel, perhaps something reasonably challenging. Now, if I so desire, I can choose from "Colors!" and "Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You?"

Yep, a key sign that you're a mother: your purse is stuffed with board books and small boxes of raisins. And a dusty binky at the very bottom, to be used only for extreme emergencies. Used to be, I carried around about forty-eleven lipsticks, but now I have raisins. Okay, the truth is I still carry around a bunch of lipsticks in my purse, just only about six or seven, but I also stuff in the boxes of raisins and board books. At least I only have one cell phone now, though. That helps.

Also, I am never without a package of Wet Ones. And also a small bottle of Purell. I never bothered with these things, pre-baby. I mean, I was a big girl. I could wash my hands in the sink. Now I won't leave home without them. I can actually feel a frisson of panic when I get down to the last couple of Wet Ones in the travel case if I don't have a spare pack stuffed in there, too. Have you ever tried to hoist a squirming, excited 27-pound toddler who's wiggling all three thousand of his arms and legs up to a (sopping wet) sink counter in a public restroom and tried to wash his hands? Uh huh. And then you have to deal with the drying issue. Hot air blowers? Perhaps not. Wet Ones are my friend, my loyal friend.

It's not so much that I don't want to carry around the interesting novel anymore, though. I just flat out don't have room for it, not even in my giant saddlebag of a purse. So my own books live on my nightstand. I've got Don Delillo's "Falling Man" on there right now. And Lucinda Franks' nonfiction "My Father's Secret War." Plus, er, some mindless fluff that doesn't require me to read, er, every single page.

But I refuse to cull out any more lipsticks. A girl's gotta have standards.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Cold! Cold! It's supposed to get cold tonight! At long last! Cold!

Okay, not really cold. Not fire-in-the-fireplace cold. Not turn-on-the-heat cold. Not even fire-engine-sweater cold. But my trusty old pal reports that the forecast for tonight is 46 degrees. Say, maybe that IS fire-engine-sweater weather. Maybe I should wake William up and put his fire engine sweater on over his fire engine pajamas....mmmmm, okay, maybe not. Let sleeping toddlers lie.

Anyway, I'm all jazzed up about the weather finally cooling off. I know, I know, it will likely heat back up again before it's all said and done. But still. Here I've been, all fretting that it's going to be 90 degrees on Halloween and William will cook to death in a little blonde puddle inside his fleece frog costume. But maybe it will be chilly enough by then after all.

On that note, it certainly wasn't cool for my mother's visit this past weekend. I had hoped it would be nice and crisp, but alas. We did, however, have a lovely time with her being here. Mom, Diane and I took William to the botanical gardens at Cheekwood so we could walk around, have lunch and see the scarecrow exhibit.

William was not too sure about the scarecrows.

But how do you explain to a 17-month-old kid who lives in the suburbs what a scarecrow is, anyway? "Well, son, you know what a farm is, right? Well, sometimes these birds called crows like to come and eat the crops before they're harvested...yes, crops, um, well...they're like really big plants...see, you can grow things like big plants on farms, they're not just for animals. Yes, cows go mooooo....Ah, yeah, and sheep go, now where was I again?"

Anyway. We had a really nice time, just ambling around the grounds, seeing the scarecrows, admiring the people and just enjoying the sunshine and the company. William got to get out of the stroller and walk a fair amount, which of course he loved.

And he had three women doting over him and admiring his every move, which he loved even more.

Afterward, we had lunch in the Pineapple Room. William methodically tore apart his grilled cheese sandwich but didn't actually eat very much of it. We don't think he really quite gets the concept of a sandwich yet. He did, however, put away some french fries and fruit. And we enjoyed some ladies-who-lunch food, since we were indeed lunching ladies.

We said goodbye to Mama Judi yesterday morning, but we reassured William that he'd see her again soon.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Kitty Cat William

I'm pretty beat, so I'm just going to post and run tonight, if that's okay with everyone.

Here's a funny photo of William clowning around in the kitchen before dinner tonight. He was wearing the kitty cat ears that I bought to wear when I take him trick or treating.

It was a toss-up as to whether he thought it was funnier for me to wear the ears or for him to wear them himself. He also liked it when his Mama Judi wore the ears.

Okay, more later. 'Night!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Busted lips and skinned knees

We made it through the whole week without having to trundle down to the pediatrian's office. Woot!

However, William now has a rather spectacular mosquito bite on his cheek AND a busted lip to go with the existing bug bite on the bridge of his nose and the scratch above his eye. And there seems to be a faint scratch on his nose, too. And a huge welt of a mosquito bite on his wrist. And a skinned knee. Thank God the black eye already faded away.

My goodness, rereading that description makes me want to call CPS on myself. My poor little guy's face! But there are easy explanations for everything. Yeah, they all say that, don't they? No, really. No, really!

The weekly installment of What's Wrong with William's Face started with my picking him up at Mother's Day Out. The teachers apologized profusely for the mosquito bites, saying that apparently a lot of them were on the playground today, and even though the teachers were swatting them away, a few got to William. He seems to be allergic to them, too; they develop into big red welts, just like they do when I get bitten.

The busted lip and the skinned knee are the results of a triumphant run through the courtyard at Montgomery Bell Academy this evening. We took William to the big annual spaghetti supper and homecoming football game at David's alma mater. W was getting antsy in his stroller, so we let him out to walk around a little before the game started. He shot off in an instant. He streaked through the crowds of people, trotting along in his little navy Keds, until his toe caught a lip of the sidewalk and splat! He bellyflopped onto the sidewalk and his face came right down and bumped the pavement, too. He realized that he had fallen and began to cry, but a few Wheat Thins and some water cheered him right up. I spotted the busted top lip immediately, but at least it didn't bleed. It's more or less a blood blister at the bow of his top lip. The skinned knee, I didn't see until we were putting him in the car seat to go home. It's not that bad. It didn't even warrant a band-aid. Which probably disappointed William, now that I think about it.

As I told my mother on the phone this evening, "Well, William looks like a toddler." He sure does. Once upon a time, he smelled all sweet and was pink-cheeked and soft and round and cozy. If he was dirty, it was usually as the result of a diaper mishap or maybe some baby food dripped beneath his bib. Boy, those were the days. Well, he still smells sweet and still has the pink cheeks, but as often as not, he is also coated in a thin layer of playground grit and Goldfish cracker crumbs. With a few cuts and scrapes here and there to break things up. I've actually had to swab him down with a wet wipe a few times before putting him in his car seat. And remember the days when we gave him a nightly bath just to preserve the sanctity of the night-night ritual? Yep, not so much. Those days are looooong gone. The bathwater gets good and grimy now after we dunk him in it. The bath is a major necessity, not just a nice calm-you-down thing. I should probably soak all those bath toys in clorox. Or something stronger. Is there anything stronger than clorox?

Anyway, William's still sweet and soft, but he's also pretty exuberant. That's my new euphemism for "being a toddler."

The good news is that, regardless of the lip and knee, William enjoyed himself at the football game. He really paid more attention to Byron the Big Red Dog, MBA's mascot, than he did the football action, but that's okay. We had to stand down against the fence because the stands were so crowded. William actually got to get very close to Byron a few times when his handler walked by. That, plus more Wheat Thins, made William very happy. Then he started squirming to get down again. With the last bellyflop fresh in my head, I said, "Why don't we just go?" And we did. We brought him home, cleaned him up and slathered his bites in antibiotic cream. It'll be interesting to see what he looks like in the morning!

Oh yes, and remind me to post later about he's started moonwalking.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

My goal for the week

I have a goal.

My goal is to make it through this entire week without having to go to the pediatrician's office.

We went to the doctor's office at least once a week for four straight weeks. (Or was it five?) And during at least two of those weeks, we went twice. Nothing super serious, mostly just to assuage David's and my paranoia. MRSA. A viral rash. Something that looked like MRSA. Another rash. A strep test (negative). A skin lesion (MRSA again?). A rash. That sort of merry-go-round. Nothing life threatening.

But exhausting, nonetheless. So my goal is to avoid the pediatrician's office for a whole week.

And now that I've officially said that, I am also...knock, knock...knocking on wood to protect myself against a jinx. Normally, I might not actually speak the sentiment or write it down for fear of the jinx. It's sort of like we don't speak the "q" word when David is on call. (That's q-u-i-e-t, for those of you unfamiliar with one of David's typical crazy call shift. If you say or use the "q" word, it will automatically negate any tiny little chance that David might have of actually having a q-u-i-e-t night.) You don't want to mess things up. But I'm going to take the chance and put my goal out there for everyone to know.

So that's my goal. William has a bug bite on his nose and a scratch above his right eyebrow. And we're using a special anti-fungal cream for diaper rash that David brought home from the drugstore. So he's not entirely blemish free. But so far, so good. Nothing has necessitated a trip to the doctor. Not yet, she says darkly.

Cross your fingers. And maybe your toes. And just for good measure, don't use the "q" word for the next few days. You know, just as an all-purpose protective charm.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

New shoes

There comes a time in the life of every young man where he must...get some new shoes. We're pretty convinced that William recently had a growth spurt. He seems taller, somehow, and he probably is, even though we haven't officially measured him to find out. His summer rompers are all too small; it looks like he's wearing a dress because all the snaps always come unsnapped at the bottom. He couldn't stretch his feet out (or his legs) in his 18-month pajamas, and he's even starting to outgrow his Robeez. So I put away the jammies, bought a few new larger pairs, bought a bunch of fall clothes, and shopped for some bigger shoes.

Here's William in his first pair of Keds:

The first pair of Keds, but at the rate his feet grow, probably not the last.

He really looks like a big boy now, doesn't he? He already had stopped looking like a baby, but the shoes really do it, I think. I also took him to the shoe store where his grandmother bought shoes for his daddy when he was little, and we got a pair of little white Sunday shoes. They are really cute, so I'll have to remember to photograph him in his Sunday School outfit this week, now that he has decent shoes to wear with it.