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Posts Tagged ‘babies’

Do you ever feel like you just can’t please anyone, let alone everyone?

When you’re juggling a small family on your own, someone is generally mad at you, which is even better when none of your family members can communicate verbally.  Yes, all three of my children have their own means of getting things across to me; sometimes it’s very clear what want, sometimes it’s a bit of a guessing game.

And sometimes, the way my little darlings choose to communicate with me, is the problem.

Take, for instance, my son’s most favorite means of verbal communication: the scream. Ear piercing, glass shaking, dogs running screaming.

One would assume for such a scream to emerge from my lovely little boy, that something is wrong, very wrong.  One would be wrong.

Typically the scream is reserved horribly frustrating instructions, such as “no more kitty videos” or “stop eating dog food”.  We also get screams for closed doors that can’t be opened, food that doesn’t come fast enough, nap times.  Less frequently, we get the same screams for moments of joy: playing ball with Dodger, getting chased by Mama, finding Mama in the water closet (my personal favorite).

The dogs are not quite as vocal as my son.  That doesn’t mean they don’t bark (boy do they bark!), it just means they don’t bark at me.  No, my dogs choose to communicate with me mostly telepathically, with some facial movements thrown in.

Penny’s second surgery has made my pretty girl even more depressed, especially being penned nearly 100% of the time.  Currently, her favorite means of communication is just staring at me with her big doe eyes and arching her eyebrows up and down.  I ask her if she needs to go potty and her eyebrows go up.  I pat her on the head, scratch her tummy and her eyebrows go up.  I offer her food and her eyebrows go up.  It’s awesome.

Dodger is no better.  Because he’s also dealing with various health issues (an ear infection and allergies) he can’t decide if my approach means affection or medication.  My poor guy spends most of his day with his head half bent towards me, ears almost all the way back, and tail wagging but very close to his body.  He is so confused! I try to communicate to him my love by giving him kisses and ear scratches, but all my efforts are ruined when I administer ear drops and he looks at me as if I have broken his heart.

Oh, I’m a mean, mean mommy.

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Parenthood is a very long lesson in practicing patience, but apparently it’s a lesson for everyone in the house, including the dogs.

From the day Baby C came home, Dodger has lived in a near constant state of duality: intense curiosity spiked with nervousness.

Dodger loves to follow C around the house, watching as the chaos grows around them.  Dodger happily sits beneath C’s high chair waiting for “accidents” over the side of the tray.  He appears to love nothing more than licking every available square inch of C’s baby skin (and, sometimes, clothes, though that’s more for the food than the love).

Yet, under this obvious curiosity and adoration, Dodger has always been nervous around C, especially should that little baby’s attention suddenly become focused on his furry brother.  Dodger has spent the last 13 months scurrying away from pinching, sticky fingers; “dodging” C’s attempts to hug or pet should the affection turn painful.

Penny, despite her every day nervous personality, has been the soul of patience and motherly indulgence since Baby C arrived.  She has let her little brother climb all over her, use her as a step stool, and allowed her tail, paws, ears, lips, and fur to be pulled.  Penny sits patiently as C pulls chew bones from her mouth and then watches as he waves it in front of her.  She patiently, painstakingly attempts to take it back as C shoves it into her nose.

Penny even plays games with C, patiently waiting about 10 months until he was able to join in the fun.  She chases him up and down the hallways, nipping his diaper or socks.  Should C stumble and fall, Penny quickly rounds on him, licking his hands or cheeks until he can get up and resume the game, all amid squeals of delight.

Or at least Penny did all this, until she had her first surgery about a month ago.  Since then she’s been laid up either in pain, or forced isolation (as she is desperate to run and jump with her brothers).  In her absence, Dodger has taken up the patience mantle.

Suddenly, my nervous Nellie is practicing the patience Penny made look easy.  Yes, Dodger’s sloppy kisses are a little more ferocious than Penny’s gentle licks.  Yes, if Dodger tires of C’s pulls and pinches, Dodger quickly resorts to forceful licking to get C away from him.

But none of this wipes out the fact that just a few days ago, I rounded the corner into the kitchen to find my boys sitting on the rug, C lightly biting Dodger’s tail and Dodger just staring up at me with sad, patient eyes.

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Finally feeling better, but still worn out. Hand Foot Mouth disease basically sucks. And as much as I love my son, I now view him as a tiny disease incubator.

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There are many differences between my babies, the most obvious being their different species, but no less important is Baby C’s thumbs.  Of all the gifts humanity has bestowed on C, the dogs most envy his moving digits which can lead the way to the dogs’ dearest wish: freedom!

Now C’s ability to grip can be a source of pain for the dogs, often literally.  C alternately tortures them with his kung fu grip on their ears and tails or by chasing them with hard, but brightly colored plastic objects in his hands.

Recently this behavior has escalated to include an object in each hand, which C clanks together in an adorable and somewhat menacing manner.  He sometimes laughs manically while doing this, which honestly scares the crap out of Dodger. Poor Dodger can be spotted running away from C several times a day as C charges the poor dog with various toys and Dodger scampers out of the way in a panic as if C had a gun or a metal wrench instead of a bumblebee maraca.

Yet, C’s opposable thumbs do have an upside for the dogs.  Penny is fond of the fact that C can hold food in his hands, which she is happy to relieve him of (though she is less pleased that he can take food from their bowls).

Both dogs are intrigued by C’s grip on tennis balls.  His hands are large enough to grip and throw the balls now, though he seems to prefer chasing Dodger with the ball held in one hand while the other hand is held out to fend off unwanted licking.  If he is close enough to one of the dogs, C holds the ball out near dog’s mouth.

Actually, C attempts to force the ball into dog’s mouth, most often Dodger’s mouth.  Poor Dodger isn’t exactly sure how to react.  Every instinct he has is telling him to grab the ball from C and run, but that means putting teeth on bare baby skin, something Dodger does not want to do.  So Dodger turns his head this way and that, trying to find the best position to take the ball from C’s vulnerable little hand, all the while trying to avoid getting a tennis ball in the eye or being punched in the nose by it.  He bites one way, then releases, then bites a different way and releases, maybe tugging the ball a little so it’s not quite surrounded by flesh.  You can see the eagerness in his eyes grow with each attempt.  He is trying so hard not to bite the baby, but he really REALLY WANTS THAT BALL!  Finally, Dodger works the ball out of C’s hand, immediately backing away, tossing his head in triumph.  Mission accomplished!

But the dogs’ favorite trick C performs with his magic thumbs is opening doors.  C, usually running, rushes up to the door and grabs the long silver handle in his hand.  Penny doesn’t move yet, but you can see her eyebrows arch up, ears twitching.  Dodger eagerly rushes up to stand just behind C.  With each of C’s attempts, you can watch the hope rise and fall on his little black furry face.  Finally, C turns the handle enough, the latch pulls back audibly.  Suddenly Penny is shoulder to shoulder with Dodger as they urge C to open the door.  You can almost hear them chanting “Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!”  and at last the door opens.  And as C pulls the door back, all my babies rush out, the joy palpable in the air they leave behind.

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Because drinking water regularly is a necessity for healthy pets, our house has two water bowls: one upstairs in the master bath on the floor and one downstairs in the kitchen on a stand.  Baby C believes both of these have been strategically placed for his personal amusement.

C has never been shy around water, languishing in the bath long after the water has lost its warmth.  In fact, early on he started showing interest in all types of water, whether it was to be found in my water bottle (which he likes to carry around with him) or running from the faucet (which he likes to run his fingers under).  Anywhere water is to be found, you can probably find C nearby.

Thus the problem of the water bowl.  I don’t mind him carrying my water bottle around like his own personal canteen, but I definitely have a problem with C using the dogs’ water bowls as his own personal wading pool.  Or should I say, splash pool?

C not only enjoys placing his little hands in the water, pushing around the bottom of the bowl, he recently discovered the joys of splashing.  He slaps a chubby palm on to the top of the water and receives a satisfying “SPLAT” and a squirt of water in return.  It’s the perfect entertainment….for him….The dogs are less than thrilled with the situation.

The main problem, aside from the fact that C is putting his dirty hands into the dogs’ clean drinking water (or should I be worried that the dogs’ bowl is dirtying his hands?  I’m not sure which is worse, so I’m upset at both options), is that C is particularly drawn to the bowls when the dogs happen to be drinking out of them.

Poor Penny and Dodger will be bending over to take a peaceful drink of cool clean water, unsuspecting of any small boys lurking behind them, when WHAM! C slams a hand into the water and the dog gets a face full.  The pitifully wet dog starts backward, shocked at this event (despite the fact it’s a regular occurence).  C happily plops down next to the bowl, splishing and splashing.

If the affronted dog dares to come back for a drink after C has commandeered the bowl, C has no problem physically pushing their face away from the water’s surface.  The dogs then look at me in what I interpret to be disbelief, as if to say “Mooooom! He won’t let us drink out of OUR bowl.  What are you going to do about it?” (imagine that in the whiny voice of a put-upon older sibling).

So why don’t I stop C from doing this?  Surely it’s not hygienic?!?

It probably isn’t and I do try to stop him.  C has learned I mean no when I tell him not to play with Daddy’s electronics or not to eat dirt, but for whatever reason, no matter how many times I say “No. No, C. No!  Stop!! C!!! NO!!!!” it makes no difference.  And as he’s too young for time-outs and I’m not going to spank, I’m at a loss as to what to do.  Generally each episode ends with me physically lifting him away from the dog bowl, shaking his wet arms like the dog he longs to be.  I think patience is my only recourse.  Now if only I could teach the dogs patience, or maybe how to splash C back!

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We have a plethora of dog beds at our house.  Penny and Dodger tend to go through beds rather quickly.  They both dig at their beds as if they were digging their own little dirt bed in the wild somewhere, behavior ingrained in them by millions of years of instinct.  However, thick cotton coverings and foam pads just don’t hold up as well as packed dirt.  After a about a year of the digging in cotton, the beds tend to show their wear: little rips, holes, flattened or ratted corners.

This year we decided to upgrade and get some fancy dog beds from Orvis. Allegedly, their dog beds are sturdier and specially made to deal with dog nails, dirt, and general wear and tear.  We’ll see.  I’ve heard things about indestructible before.  In fact, I just filled a large trash bag with supposedly indestructible toys that both Penny and Dodger proved to be very, very destructible.

Penny and Dodger both received a new dog bed, in the hopes that they would sleep in them rather than our bed (so far, our luck is pretty uneven).  In the meantime, their old beds were just tossed to the side to get them out of the way for the new beds.  One went into the hallway, outside the master bedroom.  The other was tossed into the reading nook, under the window.  These were supposed to be only temporary spots.

Yet, as soon as these beds took their new positions, all three of my babies (the human one and the two dogs) started really enjoying their new locations.

Baby C already randomly threw himself down into their dog beds, usually giggling.  He would roll around in them as he had seen the dogs do.  He used the edges of them to boost himself on to the big bed.  C even curled up, a time or two, with one of the dogs while in their beds.  All in all, he had established his love of these ratty, worn beds.

And as soon as Dodger started laying in the bed in the hallway or under the window, C took this as his cue to continue his silly behavior in the dog beds.

Now, I’ve moved one bed to my office, where we all spend a lot of time (unfortunately for me, but they all seem to love it in there–not that I blame them, I love it there too.  I usually love it a little more when my book piles haven’t been toppled and trash not strewn on the floor under my desk.  Oh well).  Dodger often goes in there alone, I’m assuming to escape the madness that is our life.  So now he has a comfortable bed to lie in, even if it does have holes in it.  The other bed remains in the hallway, but strategically placed so that the dog lying in it has a clear view of the stairs, all the doors at the end of the hallway, and into the master bedroom.  For my ferocious, diligent guard dogs, it is a perfect placement.  Now they don’t even have to get up to keep an eye on us all.  Perfect!

As of this evening, one of the new dog beds still has not been slept in.  Dodger is refusing.  I don’t know why.  Penny took to her new bed like a duck to water.  She loves it!

In the meantime, until Dodger claims his bed, I’m using it as a little couch for C to sit on while watching Sesame Street.  It’s perfect for him.  He can lay back on the bolster, or sit on the cushy flat part.  It has side arms and everything.  It literally is like a baby couch, ideal for TV watching.  C even seems to enjoy sitting or laying in it, flopping down on it, just as much as he does with the others.

As far as I’m concerned, if Dodger doesn’t want the bed, it’s all C’s.  Dodger’s loss, C’s gain.

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Hippity Hoppity

Easter’s gone away!  And Baby C couldn’t be happier.

For all my hopes that Easter would be the first holiday C would actually enjoy, it just did not happen.  This should be a life lesson to me to temper my expectations with reality.  I really should be more careful about managing them, as I find I am often let down (but will I learn?  probably not).

C is happily toddling around now, steadier and steadier on his feet every day.  He is so happy to be walking, free and independent, I was sure that the Easter Egg hunt would be just the thing!  Many of his favorite things would be happening at once:

1. He’d be walking independently.

2. People would be cheering for him! Yay Baby C!

3. People would take pictures of him, for which he would happily smile (the little ham).

4. He could pock strange objects off the ground without getting in trouble, satiating his curiosity and independence both.

However, C was having none of it.  In fact, he wanted nothing to do with the family Easter party altogether!  C started crying the minute we walked in the door of my Grandfather’s house.

As I may have mentioned before, I have an unusually large family.  This makes for unusually large holiday get-togethers.  So when we walked into my Grandfather’s house, we were greeted by no less than a dozen different faces with in minutes, and that was only about a quarter of the total head count for the party.

To say C was overwhelmed would be putting it mildly.  My poor boy spent the next two hours in near constant tears, being shifted among the eight people he knew and, strangely enough, to my Mom’s cousin, whom C had never seen before.

Given the state of his emotions, even the threat of putting C down on the grass for the Easter Egg Hunt was enough to send him into hysterics.  Even watching the other children run around picking up eggs was not enough to pick up his spirits.

By the time the hunt and pictures were over it was already 7pm and dinner was no where in sight.  C had been crying for two hours, was hungry, cutting a tooth, and when I got him calmed to a whimper, he started crying all over again whenever a new face approached. Deciding I had tortured my little boy enough for one day, I packed up my little family (with the help of many hands, despite some shocked faces that we would leave before Mass and dinner!) and headed out.  Daddy picked up McDonald’s and we enjoyed our Easter feast on the 105 headed West.

Thus ended Baby C’s 2nd Easter.

(Here’s hoping his birthday party goes a heck of a lot better.)

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