Thursday, May 29, 2008

natchez update

Update on William's Great Adventure in Natchez, Day 8:

Well, I've always joked that William will be eating me out of house and home by the time he's in high school. But now I'm starting to wonder if that day is coming much sooner than high school. William's been eating Mom and Dad out of all their tomatoes and grapes and cantaloupe. I think Mom's already had to go to the store to buy more tomatoes at least twice. Maybe three times? I've lost track. But hey, can I really complain if my child wants to gobble up fruits and veggies? I think not.

William hanging out with his Grandaddy Johnny:
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And being silly with his Uncle John on our daytrip to Hattiesburg:
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And attending church with Mama Judi.
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The reason he looks a bit sadder than usual is, er, well, I managed to cram his feet into his Sunday shoes that morning, and er, perhaps I shouldn't have. Add another bullet point to my "bad mommy" list. It looks like I'm going to have to break down and buy new church shoes for William after all. I mean, sure there's a fine tradition of young children hobbling around in ill-fitting go-to-meeting shoes--I remember wadding up kleenex in my white patent leather Capezios to take the pain of a blister away--but I think I'll try not to purposefully inflict that on my child. Unfortunately, I'll have to wait 'til we get home to buy shoes. Apparently no store in Natchez sells children's shoes. (Isn't that bizarre?)

The upside: he finally has a legitimate excuse to use up all those new Spider-Man band-aids that I bought and stashed away (and which he found because he apparently has a band-aid homing device).

ANYWAY. I would say, "but I digress," but I think that's clearly painfully obvious already. William is having a lovely time. I worried that he might be upset that there are no big balloons to see this time, but he seems to understand that was a special thing last fall. In the meantime, he's getting spoiled by all the attention from his grandparents, from their friends, from the neighbors.

And I think he's enjoying the chance to spend time outside. Each night before bathtime, we take a walk around the neighborhood, and always, there are at least a few people on their front porches who call out, "Hi, William!" as we make our way leisurely down the sidewalk. Plus, he gets to say hello to all the neighborhood kitties and look at all the flowers in the neighbors' yards and gardens. Is there anything more charming than a toddler bending over to smell a rose and smiling because he liked the smell so much?

And he loves hearing the grand old church bells chime the hour. "Church bells, way up high," he says, nodding as the bells ring in the distance. "Way up there."

But for all the fun, I know William misses his daddy. David's got a sore foot right now, and several times today, William has come up to me with a serious face. "Dada has boo-boo," he informs me solemnly. "Dada has booboo on foot. Go doctor." And I reassure him that his dada will be just fine. (So David, please be just fine, okay?)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Two new things

We've only been in Natchez two days, and William has already done two new things.

He met a horse named Pudding this morning:

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And he won the first cake in a cake walk at a benefit dinner at the Marketplace Cafe this evening:
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Apparently 36 is William's lucky number! That's the number he landed on. He got to pick out the cake that he wanted, and of course, he chose the one with the M&Ms on it. We're about to dig into it, so I'll write more later.

P.S. Just so you know...the inflatable toddler bed is perfectly serviceable...if you discount the fact that it does not contain my toddler, who likes to roam around and open drawers and get into other mischief...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Another haircut, ho hum

My son, bless his little heart, seems to have inherited my hair. That is, it grows ridiculously fast and has a tendency to get big and wavy the longer it gets.

Even William twisted a lock of hair around his finger and proclaimed himself "shaggy." Hee hee.

So, in the interest of looking a little neater and more presentable for our trip to Natchez tomorrow, I took William to Great Clips for a haircut.

I braced myself, loaded down with snacks and books for distraction, and we walked in the door. As it turned out, I didn't even need to worry. William did beautifully. He willingly sat in the big chair and let the lady cover him up with a cloak. He even sat still while she cut his hair with the scissors.

He did reach out from beneath the doggie cloak, however, and hold my hand. He was so brave, with his chin up, but he wanted to make sure Mama didn't leave him. For those of you without children, this one of those moments where you are so glad in your heart that you are a parent to this child.

Near the end, the stylist asked if I thought he'd let her trim up the back with the clippers. I said, "Well, we can see." And to my shock, he actually let her do it! We talked up the "it tickles!" aspect so he wouldn't be scared, and I guess it worked.

I think William earned his lollipop, absolutely. You can bet I lavished praise on him for being such a big boy and being so well-behaved. I think he was proud of himself, too.

His hair's still wavy, and still has the tendency to get big, but at least it's shorter and neater now.

Side view:

Monday, May 19, 2008

I am stuck on band-aids...

How you know you have a toddler on your hands, number 23: You find yourself plastered in random band-aids.

I remember how I loved band-aids when I was a kid. I lovingly plastered one on the molded plastic tail of my rocking horse, in fact. And apparently, the love is either 1) genetic, and thus has been passed down to my offspring, or 2) universal among all small children.

William not only loves band-aids, but he is obsessed with them. Until yesterday, I kept four or five boxes of various types of band-aids in the top drawer of his bathroom cabinet. We had Sesame Street, neon colors, clear, Finding Nemo waterproof, and Rataouille waterproof. Used to be, he'd open the drawer and look at them, and maybe take one of the boxes out to look at, but that's about it. If he needed one, we always gave him his choice, and he was pretty good about spreading out his choices. Then he started requesting band-aids for his various non-existent boo-boos, which I humored. Most of the time.

But it's gone beyond that now. Way, way beyond that. He has figured out to open the box, pull out a band-aid, take off the plastic wrap, remove the adhesive, and then put the band-aid on himself. All by himself.

As if that wasn't enough of an achievement, he had to share the love. Yesterday, I walked into the computer room and found David looking ruefully at his arm, which was plastered with three purple band-aids. "This is going to hurt," he said, sadly. I turned around and confiscated all the band-aids remaining in the drawer and put them in a basket on top of the vanity which, for now. William can't reach. (He pitched a big old fit at this, as you might expect.)

And today, my son marched into my bathroom with a Sesame Street band-aid, unwrapped and ready to go. He then announced that I needed the band-aid for my boo-boo, and when I said, "No," he was very, how shall I put this, put out. Which is why I woujd up with an Elmo band-aid stuck randomly to my left knee. I have no wound there. But I have a band-aid lovingly applied to it. Which is also why the band-aid is still there, six hours later.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

William accessorizes

You know, they say the only thing that separates us from the animals is our ability to accessorize.

I always knew my son had style!

(I'm just a little sad, though, that you can't see the plastic tote printed with monkeys that he was also carrying around just before I dashed off in search of my camera.)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A change of heart

Okay, so I'm about to admit something Big.

(deep cleansing breath)

I've had a change of heart about Elmo.

That's right. Elmo. THE Elmo. I've changed my mind about Elmo.

It occurred to me that I should be really grateful for Elmo. Because of Elmo and the distraction of his little segment on "Sesame Street," I was able to conduct a phone interview today with a woman who is president of one of the country's biggest nursing organizations. Because of Elmo's picture on his diapers, my child will nearly always consent to wearing a diaper. Because of the Elmo potty chair, my child is at least faintly interested in maybe, just maybe peepeeing in the potty one day. And because Elmo always wears his helmet when he pedals his tricycle around on television, I've been able to start preparing William for the reality that will accompany his first trike.

I know. This is a pretty huge confession on my part. I used to hate, hate Elmo. I cringed just in anticipation of hearing his screechy voice emanating from some otherwise harmless toy. I used to swear that I'd never ever ever buy anything that anything remotely to do with Elmo. When a neighbor gave us a baby gym that featured Elmo and sang snippets of Elmo songs, I smiled weakly and tried to figure out a way to disable the on/off switch.

Well. Times change.

I still don't plan to buy Elmo clothes or shoes, but that's mostly because I don't much care for any clothing with characters. But if an Elmo fork convinces my child to eat his green beans or an Elmo potty gets him to start potty-training, well, heck. Who am I really hurting if I keep rejecting the furry little red guy? Can we say "cutting off your nose to spite your face"?

So I'm a convert. Well, a convert with some caveats. I would still prefer to not have to listen to him unless I absolutely have to. I will always prefer not to have to listen to him. And truly my heart will always lie with Cookie Monster and Ernie. But Elmo makes my life better. He makes life with a stubborn, opinionated toddler better. So I have to give Elmo his props.


Okay. I feel better now.

(waves sign that says Give Elmo a Chance)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Games kids play

I love the little games that kids make up to entertain themselves. No one but a child could invent these things.

William is sitting right next to me on the floor, playing his own latest game. He's transferring a bunch of wooden blocks and a handful of tangled Mardi Gras beads back and forth between the block tray, a blue tupperware bowl, and a San Diego Zoo lunchbox.

Every time he gets a big mess of beads and blocks in the bowl, he puts the lid on, shakes the whole thing and crows, "Beads! Bocks! Beads!"

Why is this fun? Who knows? The important this is that William thinks it's fun. He has his own little system, which I don't quite understand, but whatever it is, it's working for him.

However, the lunch box can be problematic. He just put a bunch in the lunch box and hooked it shut. But then he can't get it open. "Can't take beads out," he fretted. "My beads! Help!"

Yes, I helped him. What kind of mother do you think I am? Sheesh.

(If you answered, "The kind who wrote it all down before you helped him," well, er, okay, I plead guilty as charged.)

Anyway, I am marvelimg at his creativity. I once read something that proposed that we hit our creative peak around age seven, and then for most of us, it starts to tail off after that. I wish I could have preserved some of the creativity I had at age seven! I remember making up countless stories and games and songs, just to entertain myself. Imagine if I could channel that now.

Guess I'll have to write down everything that William does until age seven instead...

Monday, May 12, 2008

Mother's Day redux

Can I just tell you that I just got a Mother's Day card in the mail from my little brother, and it made me sort of tear up?


John turned 30 on Saturday, and I still can't believe that. It seems like not that long ago that he was running around in Winnie-the-Pooh footy pajamas. Now it's his nephew who likes to slide around on the kitchen floor in Winnie-the-Pooh footy pajamas.

Anyway, we had a lovely Mother's Day here yesterday. Well, except for the fact that William woke up very early yesterday morning with a major asthma flare-up and a low fever. The boy has quite the sense of timing, doesn't he? We hadn't heard wheezing that bad from him in a long, long time. I guess I should just be glad that my Mother's Day did not include a trip to the ER for nebulizer treatments. These are the times when I'm glad that David takes care of sick kids for a living. A dose of oral prednisone and a bunch of doses of inhaled albuterol and flovent later, William seemed to be doing much better. Thank goodness. And he's even better today: only a half-dose of oral pred today.

Here is the traditional Mother's Day photo of mother and child:

And another one:

And one more:

William was wearing his Aaron Wyckoff outfit: the yellow button-down shirt and khaki pants. However, unlike Aaron Wyckoff (his grandaddy), William did not have shoes on. And his shirt's not tucked in. But close enough. Ironically, Aaron was not wearing his yellow button-down shirt when he and Diane came over for the big Mother's Day cookout yesterday afternoon. I guess I should have saved that outfit for Father's Day, but I just couldn't resist. And I had to put something on him since, until the picture was taken around 5 p.m., William was still wearing his pajamas, stained with Motrin, oral pred, and other assorted toddler detritus.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Pre-Mother's Day musings

I just got flowers a day early for Mother's Day! Hooray for red roses, purple irises and yellow lilies. Thanks, William (and David, for facilitating).

Two years ago, I celebrated my first Mother's Day. I don't remember a whole lot about it, honestly. William was about three weeks old, and I hadn't had more than about two hours of sleep in a row since he was born. Maybe three hours a couple of times. Anyway, the day is kind of a blur. I went back and reread my blog entry from that day to refresh my memory and to awwwww over the teeny little little boy that I held in my arms in the pictures. He was wearing a tiny 0-3 month onesie with baseballs and catchers' mitts printed all over it, and he was so little!

Just look at him.

Hard to believe it's the same kid, isn't it?

I guess baseball is the constant. We'll always have baseball.

Anyway, I do (vaguely) remember still sort of being in shock over my new status back then. I realized that I didn't really feel like a mother, but I did feel exhausted and sort of stunned by all the changes that had happened. I knew that I had a child for whom I was responsible, but I felt like I didn't even know all the questions to ask, let alone any of the answers. I felt like I didn't really know this small person very well, even though I knew that I loved him. I didn't really know how I loved him, though, and I felt sort of fragmented--which was due, in part, to exhaustion, but also to my attempts to cope with all these changes that were happening.

In short, I knew I had changed and that I would continue to change, but I didn't really know how it would unfold.

Two years later, I take being a mother for granted. It's just part of who I am now. I'm used to changing diapers and unfolding strollers. I'm used to sippy cups and doctor's visits and board books and car seats. I'm used to William being in my life. I'm used to him being a central part of my life.

Of course, he still changes every single day, so I'm still changing, too. But I feel a lot more certain of my identity right now than I did when that picture was taken in front of my rosebushes one mid-May afternoon two years ago. I am not only a mother, as I have sometimes self-deprecatingly referred to myself because I'm still not working full-time yet. But I am comfortable with being a mother. I have accepted that there will be nights when William wakes up crying and I have to go into his room and soothe him back to sleep. I have accepted that he has needs that only I and his father can meet, but I have also accepted that he has needs we cannot meet by ourselves and must count on others to help us. I have (grudgingly) accepted that he is his own person and I cannot force him to like something just because I like it. I have accepted that this is a process for both of us. I've even accepted the fact that I am always going to worry about him and whether he's okay.

Not that I don't despair sometimes--or often! Heck, how many times have I fretted about him being a wild man at the library or during Kindermusik? How many times have I worried that I'll never get a job again? How many times have I worried that if I do get a job, will we be able to work out a good situation for William? How many times have I wondered if maybe he'll grow out of his asthma, so I won't have to wait anxiously for the wheezing that inevitably crops up when a cold or virus threatens?

But at least I think I know what questions to ask these days. And I know, without an ounce of doubt, that I love my son, and can't even think about my life without him.

Happy early Mother's Day to all you mothers out there.

Friday, May 09, 2008

I'm tough

This morning, William wanted to eat his dried green bean things from Whole Foods in the car on the way to school. So I put a handful in his snack-trap cup, handed him a cereal bar and strapped him into his car seat.

A few minutes later, I guess he took a large bite of the cereal bar while he already had a mouthful of green beans. He started to cough.

I said, "Are you okay, William?"

And he said, "Yesh. I'm tough."

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

I be right back

The scene: young mother (okay, young-ish) sitting at the kitchen table, dressed in her pajamas, with toddler scampering merrily about.

I was reading the paper and slurping up the remains of a bowl of Special K in the kitchen this morning, while William was running from one end of the house to the other, trying to decide what to do with himself. He finally brought me a couple of books to read. I read "Madeline" and "Corduroy" to him, sitting there at the table, enjoying the familiar words and the weight of my toddler on my lap. When I finished, he hopped down and ran off.

But before he disappeared from my line of sight, he turned around.

"I be right back," he said confidently. "I'm going in there. I be back, five minutes. I be right back."

And off he dashed.

I'm wondering, wow, how many times have I said some variation of those words to him?

Sunday, May 04, 2008

We're back

Do you know how easy it is to travel without a small child? I had no idea how easy it was until this weekend. Wow. I can't believe I ever complained about travel when I was childless. What on earth was there to complain about? Having a whole seat to myself? Having two hands to eat or drink with? Having too much trouble deciding which fluffy magazine to read?

As you all know by now, I hadn't gone anywhere without William in tow since he was born. That didn't keep me grounded, though. I think he and I took at least seven long flights during his first year or so of life.

So I've flown back and forth across the country with an array of diaper bags, overstuffed with snacks, treats, extra diapers and clothes, toys, books, and God knows what else. I've teetered along through miles of concourses, balancing car seats and strollers and luggage and my purse and oh yes, the baby. I've held a squirmy baby with one hand while removing my shoes and putting all my paraphernalia through the x-ray machine at the airport with the other hand, and I've changed a baby on a mat balanced precariously on the toilet lid in an airplane bathroom while the airplane shuddered through unexpected turbulence. I've collapsed a stroller while also holding said baby and trying not to get knocked over by a swarm of impatient fellow fliers bumping past me as they tried to get onto the plane. I've wrestled a huge car seat into a tiny little airplane seat while trying not to hold everyone else up as they entered the plane. And yes, I've sobbed to a gate attendant when she delivered the bad news that I was stranded in Dallas overnight with my fourteen-month-old and no luggage.

In short, I know what it's like to fly with a baby. I know all too well. And can I just say how glorious it was to fly to Houston and back with my husband and NOT have to deal with any of those scenarios?

I had one little tiny carryon bag, filled with three books (all mine!), a bag of Craisins, my cell phone charger and my camera. We checked one suitcase, filled with adult clothes and toiletries. David carried on his laptop. There were no sippy cups, no jars of baby oatmeal, no plastic key rings, no copies of "The Very Hungry Caterpillar," no diapers, no binkies, nada. I read Jhumpa Lahiri's new book and drank a Diet Coke on the plane. I even...gasp!...took a short nap! Neither of us could get over how easy the trip was going. I kept wondering what I'd forgotten.

At the hotel, David went off to rehearse with the other Tigertones, while I found a vacant lounge chair by the side of the pool. I read my book and The New York Times and thought about how lazy I was. Then I met up with David and we split a mai tai by the side of the pool. Later, of course, we went to the wedding and reception. This morning, I slept late. Frankly, that alone made the trip worthwhile. Then we had brunch with the bride and groom--eggs benedict for the good doctor and pancakes for me, which is just about the perfect meal for both of us--and then we departed for the airport.

Yes, we called home a few times. No, William didn't seem to be missing us in the least. He was too busy having fun soaking up all the attention of his doting grandparents. Which left David and me free to not feel guilty about leaving him behind while we sipped champagne after the ceremony or ate steak and wedding cake at the reception. (I did talk about him a lot, though.)

In fact, here we are after five hours of eating and drinking and generally making merry:

We had such a nice time, although it went by far too quickly. But I have to admit: I was eager to see William again. When we pulled up to the house, Diane was holding him in her arms out in the front yard, and he broke into a huge grin when he saw us. And so did I.

And I've decided that I'm still not going to fly anywhere with him for a long time. Not until he's at least old enough to carry all his own stuff.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Wrapping up the last minute details

Well, we leave early early early tomorrow morning. William's in bed, Diane's in the guest room, and David and I are putting the last few items in our suitcases. David just printed the boarding passes, and I am making sure I have my cell phone charger and camera packed in my carry-on bag. We showed Diane where all of William's food is, how to give him a dose of Flovent, and where his clothes are. She's here often enough that she's pretty familiar with most of that stuff anyway. I think we've done just about everything now but load the car.

Wish me luck! This is (will be) a big watershed moment in my life as a parent!

Coupla quick pictures from the other day of William wearing his snazzy new hat from Leland:

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Fear of flying

On Saturday morning, David and I are leaving on a jet plane...don't know when we'll be back again. Okay, yes, we do know. We're flying to Houston for a wedding on Saturday night, then turning around and flying home on Sunday.

I am nervous.

First of all, I am a terrible flyer. I hate doing it. It was torture, living in California for so many years and always having to board a plane to see my family or old friends. "White-knuckle flier" barely comes close to describing me when the plane is taking off. It's amazing I still have skin on my fingers, really.

Anyway, the second and more important reason that I'm nervous is...this will be my first overnight trip away from William. As in ever. I've never spent an entire night away from him. Never. Not since I gave birth to him.

Now, I'm okay with leaving him with his grandmother for a night. They get along like the proverbial house afire, and frankly, she probably takes much better care of him than I do. No, he'll be fine. But I'm all freaked out that our plane is going to crash, and my only son, my sweet little boy, will be an orphan and he'll grow up to not even remember his mama. He'll never remember the person who called him "Butterbean" or spent all those many, many hours over the past two years, reading books to him or playing choo-choos or soothing him back to sleep. And that's when I get all weepy. I'm getting all weepy right now, just thinking about it.

Yes, I realize that statistically flying is safer than driving. Yes, I know that everything will probably be okay. But everyone knows that I practically have a Ph.D. in worrying (it goes along nicely with my Ph.D. in Phillips Head Screwdriver usage). I always envision the worst case scenario. Always.

Everything's going to be just fine, right? Right?