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Archive for November, 2009

The past week, in addition to me working like crazy to get my finals finished, has been a week of milestones for my little C.  It’s extremely exciting to watch him grow up so fast, but also heart wrenching to have so many milestones fall one right after the other.

So here they are in the order in which they happened.

1. As I may have mentioned before, C has been a somewhat troubled sleeper, so I’ve always kept him close at hand, literally.  But then, about two weeks ago, C started sleeping through the night (or as close to “through the night” as a 7 month old gets), going to bed at 9pm and getting up once around 4am, then back to sleep until 6:30-7am.  After three nights in a row of this, my husband and I wondered if this was really a pattern or just a fluke.  Should we bite the bullet and finally put C to sleep in his crib?  Husband was all for it, me…less enthuthiastic.

It’s not that I don’t want C to sleep in his own room, rather than in next to, or even in, my bed.  I want my boy to grow up to be independent, strong, and confident young man, which of course means he must sleep in his own room.  So I let him go…down the hall.  And for the first few nights, though he was only a few steps down the hallway, not seeing him in the crib next to my bed was unnerving.  I listened obsessively to the monitor, checked on him every hour or so, even setting up the old crib just in case he wanted to sleep in my room again.  But he doesn’t want too…sigh…

Thus bringing us to milestone one: C has slept in his own room for two weeks.

2. Worried that C’s sleeping habits would prove to be a fluke rather than a true progression, I decided to step up his meals and implement some self-feeding.  Though C doesn’t have any teeth yet, I’ve instituted meat into his nightly meal, meat of the puree variety.  It looks (and tastes) putrid to me, but C cannot get enough of his Turkey and Rice or Chicken and apples or even Chicken and pasta!  He gets so excited about these tiny meaty meals he displays some pretty enthusiastic behavior: waving arms and hands, babbling between bites, bouncing as he eats.  It’s a wonder to watch and delightful that I could make him so happy with just some mushy food!

In other food milestones, I’ve started letting him self-feed with little baby biscuits.  C loves these, but he’s not yet perfected any kind of eating skill.  Instead, C sucks and licks the little biscuit, melting the outer layer of the biscuit off on to his hands, face, shirt, pants, and anything within reaching distance.  It is truly disgusting to behold, but I forget all about the brown mush covering his face when he smiles his little toothless smile at me, so proud to be holding his own little food.

Milestone two: meat and biscuits

3. My boy is seriously on the move.  He has mastered crawling and spends his days now attempting to do one of two things: crawl as quickly away from me as possible or pull himself up on to anything not moving (or sometimes things that just aren’t moving at the moment). Both of these activities strike me as death-defying.  Why, you ask?  Well, take for example when C crawls quickly away from me upstairs.  He is most likely heading for the hallway, which is sooo exciting in that it leads to so many new places.  The hallways also holds the stairs, which may be the most exciting thing of all.  Not only are the stairs thrilling in that they go down, steeply, they also have banister spindles with little sharp corners.  C has discovered that these spindles make the perfect tool in helping him to stand up.  He can crawl up to them, grab on, and pull up, no problem.  And while I know for a fact his giant head cannot fit through the spindles, my inner voice starts screaming every time he heads towards them.  So I pick him up, spin him around, and place him back on the ground.  Apparently, though, he has a great sense of direction because he usually heads right back where he came from.

Again, I struggle to allow C to be independent, so I’ll usually pick him up that first time and hope he doesn’t head back to try that same risky behavior.  If he does try again, though, I let him.  This has led to many bumps and bruises;  C may end the day with several red sore decorating his little forehead.  Half the time he doesn’t even notice, the other half the time he’s upset for less than five minutes.  Either way, I have fostered independence in my child at the expense of a bruise he’ll never remember.

So milestone three: fast moves and pull-up to standing

4. Given this independent spirit (that I honestly don’t need to nurture at all) has led me to believe that C would undoubtedly split his head open at some point.  It’s the death-defying nature of boys that they will require stitches somewhere on their body.  I knew that even before that stitches episode there would be bloody noses, skinned knees, cut fingers.  I also knew that given C’s large head size and precarious balance, a head wound would be inevitable.

Today that inevitability came true.  Don’t worry, it was a small head wound, in fact tomorrow I’m sure it will look like nothing.  Here’s what happened: C crawled quickly over to the glider and before I could stop him he tried to pull himself up on it, which of course failed terrible.  The glider slid back, quickly coming forward to hit him in the face.  Awesome…Well, the damage wasn’t too bad.  He got a little nick next to his nose and a little bruise under his eye.  But we did cross that milestone:

milestone four: drew blood for the first time.

I couldn’t be prouder!

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Baby bubbles

Bath time has to be my favorite time of day.  Bath time is a winding down.  Bath time means the day is nearly over.  Perhaps that is a horrible thing to say that my favorite time of day with my baby is the bed-time process, beginning with bath time.

I love my baby.  I love spending my days with him.  But by 7 pm we are both pooped!  C starts becoming ultra cranky and I start pondering my 2nd (ok maybe 3rd) cup of coffee (not to mention the ___ diet cokes I’ve had—I’m not going to tell you, it’s just embarrassing).  Neither of these things are good!  I struggle to keep C awake until bath time, usually 7:30pm, so that he’ll go to sleep right after the bath.  I try not to let him have any nap after 5pm.  This is a battle I sometimes give up on, but I always pay for it later!    So, I’ve been trying to be stricter about it lately.

When I am strict about it, bed time runs like clock work: 7:30pm into the bath; splash, wash, play, sing until 7:45/7:50; dry off, lotion up, and dress for bed done by 8:00; bottle and the rocking chair just after 8 and asleep by 8:30.   This is the ideal day.

However, there are many many days are not the ideal day.  On those days C has refused to nap, he usually falls asleep on the play mat at 6:45, a full 45 minutes before bath time.  On other days a full tantrum comes about that same time and I watch the minutes slowly tick by.  How early is too early to get C into the bath?  Usually my rule is no earlier than 7 if he is full melt-down mode, though by 6:45 I am just staring at the clock willing it to move faster.  Please little hand move quicker! Please seconds fly by!  Let it by 7! Let it at least be 6:59!

Once we get into the bath though, we are in bliss (I saw we but it’s actually C in his bath seat and me perched on my little stool pushed against the side).  I recently started using lavender bath bubbles (in another attempt to push C into his bed on time) and he is fascinated!  Just grasping the bubbles and watching them squirt between his fingers provides both of use with endless amusement.  After that initial entertainment we play games with the few bath toys we have: a squirting plastic fish, a terry cloth quacking duck, an official rubber ducky (though red with snowflakes), and some other toys that are as yet to big for his tiny hands to grasp.  C also loves biting and waving the collapsible cup around, which is fine by me as it adds extra entertainment time.

We soap up, wash our hair, trying to keep the soapy washcloth out of C’s mouth and suds out of his eyes.  C usually finds the soaping up somewhat funny as he is a bit ticklish.  He has also recently discovered certain body parts which after soaping he suddenly becomes aware of and then holds on to.  While this is somewhat amusing, I worry if this is normal having none of these certain body parts myself.  My husband assures me that it is, but I still worry, should he be holding on to said parts for more than a minute?  Sometimes he forgets about them and then rediscovers them and it begins all over again.  Boys are bizarre.

We sometimes have bath time trouble.  If someone (you know who) is exceedingly tired then he will begin to rub his eyes too early in the bath, rubbing in the suds from his fingers or soap from his face.  And though he ends every bath with red rimmed eyes (his norm of bed time), we usually try to avoid them for the first half of bath time.  Tonight for example, C was so tired he melted down just a few minutes into the bath.  Rubbing eyes, pulling ears, pushing my hands and toys away, followed quickly by crying, more like screaming.  No tears, just a loud voice demanding out! out of this tub!!

On a final note I wanted to say that no matter what, we always have music with bath time.  C has his own play list on my iPhone full of folk/children’s music.  I’ve downloaded Raffi and many 90s musicians who’ve made children’s albums: Lisa Loeb, They Might be Giants, and Barenaked ladies.  Sometimes we play this on random or we play the mellow Mommy-C playlist.  I sing to him with either playlist, but I’ve been thinking of doing something more.

That something more is making a purely bath time playlist.  This is where you come in, reader (and why I chose to end on this note).  I have some ideas of what I could put on it, but I was hoping for some input.  Any ideas? Any suggestions?  Remember they should be child appropriate and also, perhaps, well-known so that I can sing along!  So the next time you’re singing in the shower, could you let me know what you are singing?

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Baby goes Boom

Well, I just had the shock of my life.  I am terribly embarrassed to post this, but I figured I should just go ahead because there are probably other mothers (or fathers, caretakers, etc.) who’ve had similarly embarrassing incidents.

I think instead of embarrassing I should say mortifying, terrifying, guilt-inducing experiences.  That seems to capture the essence of the experience a little better.

What experience you ask?  The post’s title should give you a clue.  My poor little baby C went boom in a big way.

As I was changing him this morning, I turned to the side, not even turning all the way away from him, but long enough to take one hand off of him as I put the diaper in the bin.  In those 20 seconds (maybe less?) C rolled right off the changing table.  Right off!  He turned in mid-air so he landed on his back with a big thump!  It took him about 3 seconds to figure out where he was and then decide he was terrified.  It took me less.  I had him in my arms before he even began to wail.

Oh my God.  I don’t think I’ve ever felt more like a terrible mother.  That second or two it took for him to fall from the table to the ground literally slowed down in a slow-mo movie type situation.  I saw him falling through the air but was incapable to save him from the ground. Was I paralyzed by my own fear? Or was I simply unable to react in that small amount of time due to my mere-human stature?

Just to calm any concerns, C fell about 3 feet.  He landed on his back.  He sustained no injuries, no concussions, no lasting harm in any way (other than the psychological trauma now done to his mama).  He cried for about five minutes, vacillating from screaming to sighing and back again.  I may have joined him in a few tears.  Within a few minutes, C was crawling on the ground playing with the dogs and his toys. In short, C is perfectly fine in every way.

I, however, am a nervous wreck! I know it happens, I know everyone gets dropped or falls, but did it have to happen to my baby?

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This last weeks my posts could be described, at best, as sporadic…at worst, as lazy.  But hey, I’m a student mom.

Oh…did I forget to mention that I am technically going to school full time right now?  I say technically because I am enrolled through Drexel University’s iSchool, which I attend 100% online.  So I technically never “go” anywhere…well, I go to my office/guest room down the hall, but that’s it.

There is nothing technical about my full-time status, however.  I am currently enrolled in three graduate classes: Digital Libraries, Young Adult Resources, and Legal Research.  Thrilling, I know!  I actually do love my YA class, but I’ve always been a fan of Young Adult fiction (many of you are too and just don’t know it if you’ve been reading Twilight, the Dark Materials trilogy, or many other works that crossed into the adult mainstream.  Harry Potter, for example, became so mainstream that in Britain the publishers offered an adult version book jacket so that adults could safely read their Harry Potters in public, without fear of harassment from small children with sticky fingers, small children with whom they shared literary interests.).  My curriculum aside, three classes in the world of graduate classes counts as full time.  The equation is something like you should expect to spend 5-10 hours per unit, per week.  So if your class is 3 units, that equates to anywhere from 15-30 hours of study and work each week.  Thus the full time status of 3 classes.

This is where you may begin to say something like, but Erin, aren’t you the stay-at-home mom of an infant?  If you asked that question you would be correct.  My son is 7 months now, and yes, I’m a full time housewife/homemaker/stay-at-home mom.  So this is where you might say something like, Erin, don’t you think that’s a little crazy?  Do you have some sort of death wish or are you just sadistic?  In response, I think I would go with the sadistic part, because I really don’t wish to die, even though this quarter might kill me.

There is good news though.

1. I have help.  My lovely sisters and mother combine to watch little C for about 10 hours a week.  And I hire my generous cousin A for another 6 hours every Thursday.  So that gives me 16 hours of study time (notice I didn’t say uninterrupted because unless I left the house for that amount of time, I’m going to get interrupted by my newly anxious 7 month old).

2. This is my last quarter! Hurrah!  In approximately 3 weeks I will be a genuine, accredited librarian.  On December 8th, I will finally hold my Masters in Library and Information Sciences.  Woo hoo!

Until then though, I just need to find a way to finish 2 group projects, 3 finals papers, and 2 final exams.  I know I can do it, but something’s got to give.  Unfortunately for me, dear reader, that means that this blog will have to be sporadic.  And if I come off as a little cranky, just bear with me, it’s only about 3 more weeks, just ask my husband.  He’s got a countdown calendar.

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I was incredibly nervous about bringing the baby home to my two doggies that first day.  Not that there was anything to be worried about.  Both of my dogs are very sweet and have never intentionally hurt another living creature.  They are both rescues and both very loved and spoiled.

Penny just turned four and has been with us for three years.  She was taken from an abusive home, where we believe she was beaten by her owners (as she is afraid of anything that has a long handle, like brooms and umbrellas).  When we adopted her, Penny was so skinny that her fur hung between her ribs.  As a result of her starvation she is a terrible beggar now and behaves as if we’ve never fed her.  Her feedings must have been few and far between based on her appearance and behavior.  She was also incredibly skittish at first, shying away from strange men, refusing to go up the stairs, attempting to hide from us at times, and once she was attached to us, she developed terrible separation anxiety.  All of these things have improved with time, so more drastically than others.  I believe that though some of these behaviors corrected themselves because Penny now lived with a loving, devoted family and had all the food she could eat, some of these behaviors only improved after we added one more to our family: Dodger.

Dodger is a 70 pitbull-black lab mix.  Now, if you believe the stereotypes about pitbulls you have been gravely misinformed.  Pitbulls are caring, loyal dogs.  They were once considered to be “nanny” dogs as they are so devoted to their human children that they protect and watch over them like a nanny would.  Dodger definitely falls into this category, though I didn’t know this at first.

He was a rescue, just as Penny was.  Dodger had been given to the pound because he shockingly grew too big (who knew that puppy labs and pitbulls got bigger?!?!).  So our poor pup had been in the pound for over a month when we found him.  He had been ill, neutered, and injured during his stay.  Yet none of this dampened his spirits!  Dodger (who was 8 months old at the time) quickly bounded out of his dog bed on the way home so he could spend the rest ride in my lap, licking my face and trying to paw at his new daddy in the driver’s seat.  When we got home, his demeanor did not change.  Dodger was incredibly affectionate, curious, and loving.  He got into his fair share of trouble due to his curiosity and it was this feature that had me worried.

Obviously the baby would be a marked change in the house.  This new creature would be coming in, demanding all my attention, making new strange noises (and smells), and he would look like nothing Dodger had ever seen before.  So, to clarify, I was never worried that Dodger would intentionally hurt the baby, only that his curiosity (and his unawareness about his strength) would unwittingly harm baby C.

Thankfully, this fear was completely unfounded.  Neither Penny or Dodger ever showed any aggression towards the baby.  My biggest concerns were when I found Dodger standing on his hind legs looking into the crib as C lay there making some new sound.

I swear, I don’t think either dog got any more sleep than I did those first few weeks.  Every time C made a new sound, they were up.  Each time he broke into a serious cry they both looked from the baby to me and back again, as if to say “What is that noise Mom?  Why is he doing that?”  Their concern and confusion was obvious.  It didn’t help that every time I got up, the dogs got up.  Where could I possibly be going three times a night?  Why was I walking up and down the hallway with this screaming child in my arms?  Poor puppies were so exhausted by the end of that first week that they each slept for about 30 hours straight.

Once they got used to the sounds, the smells, the changes in movement, they began to grow curious.  Dodger in particular was curious about everything.  He wanted (and still wants) to lick C every chance he could.  At first softly, but once C was old enough to giggle when Dodger kissed him, his kisses became a little more fervent.

C was not the only thing Dodger wanted to taste.  He tried to get  his mouth on everything from the breast milk leaking from me to the spit up on the rocking chair to the dirty diapers to C’s first alligator tears.

And while I shooed him away from both the breast milk and the dirty diapers, I have relaxed about the other two.  Though honestly disgusting to me, who am I to deny Dodger (or Penny for that matter) some spit up formula if he wants it?  It saves me getting out the upholstery cleaner!  Seriously though, the times I don’t have a burp cloth handy, by the time I make it back to clean up the spit up, it’s already gone.

As the kisses, they are still happening.  Both dogs have taken to licking him more gently on the face after some guidance from daddy and mommy, but that hasn’t stopped them from attacking any exposed area of flesh with their tongues, to the delight of C.  He squeals with laughter as they tickle his feet with their sloppy kisses.  Or when they lick his sides, hands, legs, literally anything they can get to!

C, for his part, loves them back with equal curiosity, and both Penny and Dodger bear it well.  A now mobile C uses their bodies as jungle gyms.  Though I try to stop him, C grabs fistfuls of fur and pulls.  He unintentionally gouges eyes, gives wet willies, and tail bites.  And for the most part, they both take it.  Penny, being more motherly, just accepts the abuse.  Sometimes she’ll try to nudge him away with her nose, but mostly she just lays there, looking at me, pleading with her mournful eyes.  Dodger, however, will take C’s abuse for much shorter stints before he subtly and sometimes not so subtly moves out of the way.  Ironically, Dodger’s curiosity has lessened as C’s has grown, knowing now the hidden danger of those curious kisses (and how close they’ll get him to C’s pinching little fingers).

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I’ve been thinking about this post for sometime, and debating whether or not to write it.  I’ve decided to just go with it because maybe somebody has something to say that will help.

Here’s the deal: I’ve felt a drift for sometime, unmoored from the security of my faith.  Or I should more rightly say, I feel betrayed and abandoned by my Church.  Growing up Catholic I always felt that my Church truly loved people and respected me as a member of its faithful.  However, in recent years, as the Church has become more and more conservative, I feel like its message of love is being lost.  Perhaps the Church itself is losing its way.

This has been troubling me more lately as C’s baptism hangs over my head.  I long to have C baptized into a Church I believe in, I’m just not sure which church that is anymore.  The Roman Catholic Church, as it is today, is not an option.  While I still believe in many of the Catholic tenets of faith, I have a large problem with most of its social positions.

So here is what I believe, and perhaps you can help me find a church to match it:

I believe in God, the father, the creator.  I believe in the Holy Spirit because I have felt His presence in my life.  I believe in Jesus as both Christ and man.  I love Mary, his mother, and all the angels and saints.  I believe the Bible is an interesting book, but not a literal interpretation of history as it happened.  Most importantly, I believe that as a Christian it is my duty to strive to live as Christ would have me live.

Now this conversation may make some of you very uncomfortable, even angry, but here’s what I have to say.  For me, Jesus had more to teach us as a man, than as God.  As a man, Jesus was generous, understanding, compassionate, wise, forgiving, and, above all, loving.  It is this message of love that I want to teach to C; it is this message that I feel is being lost in so many churches today as they focus on less important issues of who is a sinner and why they will be damned, rather than talking about the New Covenant Jesus gave us:

“This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.”

I feel that this message is often eclipsed by messages of hatred and judgment.  I cannot belong to a church that ignores this new commandment by choosing to focus instead of the sins of others.

I feel like I’m compelled to offer the numerous examples Jesus gave us urging his followers not to judge others when they themselves are sinners (because let’s face it we all are).

From Matthew:

Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but don’t consider the beam that is in your own eye?

From John:

When they persisted in questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let the person among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”

From James:

Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door.

From Corinthians:

Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.

All examples aside, all rhetoric dropped, all I really want for both C and me, is a church that leaves it’s faithful to reflect on their own hearts and focus on the joy and love of God rather than on the failings of men.  I miss my community of faith.  I wish with all my heart for C to have a community in which he can know the beauty of God’s love and the love of his fellow man.

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I’m only dateless because my husband is a workaholic.  I appreciate his hard work every other day of the week, but on Friday nights, he should be home with me.  However, he is not, so here I am, 9pm, alone with my son, dogs and my laptop.  I thought about not posting tonight because that seems a little sad, but honestly, what else am I going to do.  So since I feel like doing another post in list form, here’s a list of things I will and won’t do on a Friday night alone.

Things I won’t do on a Friday night:

  • Dishes. I hate doing them every night, so on Friday nights I give myself a break.  They’ll definitely still be there tomorrow.  Besides this gives me a feeling of being at a restaurant where a lovely waitperson will whisk my dirty dishes away as if they never existed.
  • Adhere to my diet.  Seriously, if I can’t indulge a little every now and again I will definitely have a meltdown and scarf down piles of fried food and sweets.  Tonight I had some chicken tikka masala and basmati rice (half of which I gave to the dogs) with a small glass of chocolate milk.  On a side note, chocolate milk is never as good as you hope it’s going to be.  Now, I’m enjoying a regular Sprite, as in full of empty calories.  And it tastes sooooo good.
  • General housework. While I do enjoy doing laundry when I can devote some time to it, most days I am simply trying to get through a load or two a day to stay one-step ahead of the fatal empty dresser drawers.  Since worrying about laundry has taken all the joy out of it for me, I refuse to do it on Friday or Saturday nights.  The same goes for all other dreaded, daily chores: dusting, vacuuming, unloading the dishwasher, etc.
  • Homework. Or as grad-students are supposed to call it: coursework.  I’m sorry, but this rule goes all the way back to middle school.  You just don’t do homework on Friday nights.  You just don’t.
  • Read anything challenging. I’m a huge book nerd and I love reading nearly everything I can get my hands on.  But Friday nights are meant for relaxing, not analyzing the post-modern prose of a Pulitzer Prize winner.  Hand me the latest vampire book and I’m in heaven.

Things I will do on a Friday night:

  • Catch up on my shows. Tonight I’m watching TVRed Bones, Law and Order, and Community, just to shake it up.
  • Browse my favorite store sites and make fantasy carts. I look through all the different areas and fill up my cart with anything and everything I would buy if money (and my conscience) was not an issue.
  • Wear a mask. My husband is not home, the dogs and baby are asleep, this is THE ideal time to experiment with all my potions and lotions.
  • And apparently, blog.

Enjoy your weekend!

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