Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009: Ben's year in numbers

2 - Number of weddings he attended.

4 - Number of haircuts he received.

5 - Number of great-grandparents he met.

8 - Number of states he entered: Arizona, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky [very briefly], Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin (he's already more worldly at 16 months than a lot of the people I went to school with)

9 - Number of words he learned to say: Mama, Dada, no, cat, dog, cheese, go, shoes and boo (which means "moo" - he says it when you ask what a cow says).

1,235,321 - Number of compliments he received on his hair.

Infinite - Number of times he's hit his head.


Happy New Year's!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I want a hippopatomus for Christmas

I love holidays in our family. Everyone gets along and there's relatively little drama. Thus, we spent Christmas eating, drinking, opening presents, watching A Christmas Story as many times as possible, playing games and enjoying being together. While it makes for a wonderful weekend, it doesn't necessarily make for an exciting blog post. Here are a few tid bits, anyway.

We spent Christmas day with Heath's family. Ben was more into ripping open presents than even three months ago on his birthday. That was fun to watch. Obviously he doesn't "get" the idea of Christmas yet, but he loved playing with all his new toys. I thought we could get him to play elf and hand everyone their presents, but that wasn't happening. Maybe next year. He also really warmed up to his Uncle Chad. Chad lives in Colorado, so Ben's only seen him a few times. However, Chad really made it his mission to get on Ben's good list, dishing out as much tickling, rough-housing and as many silly faces as Ben could handle. By the end of the day they were buddies. My brothers and I don't have much extended family we're close to, so I don't know what it's like to grow up with uncles, aunts and cousins around. It really means a lot to me that Chad took the time to get to know Ben while he had the chance. I'm excited for Ben to grow up in a close-knit family.

On December 26, my parents, brother and sister-in-law came to our house for Christmas. It was our first time hosting a major holiday. Nothing was burned and nobody suffered food poisoning so I considered it a success. I also got to pull a classic childhood prank on Ian. For various reasons, this year we decided not to exchange presents with my side of the family. Ian was sort of the impetus for that, so we got a big box and wrapped up some raisins for him. At least this time I didn't trick him into buying me a real present. And the raisins were chocolate covered.

So our Christmas was everything a great Christmas should be: delicious, warm and filled with laughter. I always forget to take pictures while we're in the middle of things, but Heath got me a sweet new digital camera, so hopefully that will change.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Monday, December 21, 2009

What Ben got for Christmas: Two ear infections! :(

Thursday night Ben had a fever. We weren't too alarmed, because almost two weeks prior he'd received shots which the doctor said might cause a fever in about two weeks. So we figured it was just his vaccines kicking in. Friday he was fine, but then Saturday the fever came back with a vengeance. He hung out with us on the couch all day and napped for a total of 4.5 hours. He was feverish most of the day but it broke before bed. Sunday he seemed fine. His temperature was normal, he was running around and playing and he went to bed easily. Then around 11:45pm he woke up SCREAMING. Heath was still awake, but it woke me up, even with a fan on for white noise. Heath ended up sleeping with him in the guest room, where he tossed and turned a lot of the night.

So we went to the doctor this morning and he has infections in both ears. According to the doctor they're "really bad." She said it hurt her to even look at the one in his left ear. Poor Benny. We've acquired strong antibiotics ($44!!) and have another doctor's appointment in 10 days. Hopefully he'll be feeling better by this weekend, so he can enjoy Christmas.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Wave of the future, wave of the future, wave of the future...

I remember when I was younger sitting down at the computer to write and popping in a CD before I started. I'd hear the notes of the first song and then seemingly only minutes would go by and I'd hear the CD end. I was concentrating so intensely I didn't even hear the music.

Heath told me a similar story about himself. In elementary school his class went down to the library. He picked out his book and then sat down to read while waiting for everyone else. Some time later he looked up and the library was deserted. He walked back to class, where the teacher informed him they'd called his name and even touched him to get his attention, but he never noticed.

Given that, it's no surprise to me that Ben has inherited the same type of focus. Sure, sometimes he has the attention span of a gnat, but other times he concentrates so strongly it's amazing. He has a small, plastic train that came with several Little People figures, a tiger, giraffe and zookeeper. I've seen him play with that train and those figures for up to an hour and all he does is put the tiger in one car, put the giraffe in another and put the zookeeper in the smoke stack. Then he looks at them for a second and he moves them around to different spots. For an hour. An hour in toddler time is like a day in adult time (and often it feels like a day to me).

He's also incredibly meticulous. Lately a lot of his playing has involved lining up toys or arranging them in a specific way. One day I found that he'd taken Heath's and my sneakers and put them all in a very straight line. They were so neat I couldn't believe he'd done it, aside from the fact that they were lined up on a dining room chair. That's not normally where we leave our sneakers.

Fears about having an OCD child aside, it's exciting to finally start seeing some of my traits shine through Ben. Heath and I feel like we're on the edge of OCD ourselves, anyway. I wonder if you can buy family packs of Prozac at Sam's?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Daddy's boy

Ben has always been a Daddy's boy to the point that sometimes he won't even let me hold him if Heath's home. For the most part I understand. He sees me all the time, but Daddy's only home sometimes so he has to take advantage of that when he can.

Well, last night before Heath got home I was letting Ben help me make dinner. We were making zucchini chips, which involved putting zucchini slices into a bowl of milk and then into a bowl of breadcrumbs. Ben absolutely loved putting them in the milk and he made a relatively small mess, compared to what I was expecting. So Heath came home in the middle of that and Ben didn't even blink an eye. He was all about the zucchini chips. When we were finished Heath tried to pick him up and Ben started crying. Then he lunged for me and wouldn't let Heath take him. I think he was mostly mad about not having any more zucchini chips to dunk, but I have to admit it made my heart swell to be the favored parent, even if only for a minute.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Bad Blogger! Bad!

I apologize for the lack of content lately. It's been a stressful few weeks in the Borders household for a number of reasons, not the least of which is TEETHING. Ben has some molars coming in and they're taking their sweet ol' time getting here. In the meantime this means lots of drooling and chewing on things and lots of restless nights. Heath has been taking the brunt of the bad nights, sleeping with Ben in the guest room because I cannot do more than drowse when I'm in bed with Ben.

We're also in transition from two naps to one. Holy crap do I hate transition times. It throws the whole routine out of wack and I thrive on my routine. We'd been doing the two nap thing for at least seven months when about two weeks ago Ben decided that was for suckers. Now I never know what I'm going to get. Sometimes he takes two naps, sometimes only one. Sometimes he takes one 30 minute nap and then a two hour nap. Sometimes it's two 90 minute naps. Sometimes it's one one-hour nap, which are the days I have the urge to e-mail all my friends without kids and talk about the positive aspects of sterilization. Spending 13+ hours with a toddler and having only one break long enough to shower and maybe eat lunch is crazy making.

So, those two situations don't exactly put me in the blogging frame of mind. However, things seem to be calming down a bit (fingers crossed). Hopefully Ben's teeth will pop through soon and I'll think of some more funny things to write about.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

New stats!

Ben had his 15 month check up on Saturday:

Weight: 27.14 lbs - 85th percentile
Height: 32 in. - 90th percentile
Head: 50cm - 97th percentile

He's only gained six ounces since his birthday, which is by far his smallest weight gain and has caused him to drop from 96th percentile to 85th. He's grown one inch, staying steady in the 90th percentile. His head is still ginormous, meaning that it's a pain to put on his shirts in the morning. In fact, this weekend we had to retire a perfectly good shirt that fits him in all other aspects, simply because it was too hard to pull over his head.

Ben didn't take his shots too well this time, but he did get four of them, poor guy. He's almost done with immunizations, though! The doctor said he'll have two at his 18 month visit and only one at his two year visit. Then we go down to only one check up a year. That'll be kind of sad, because I really like his pediatrician. He makes you feel like your kid is his favorite patient EVER and he's so sincere you almost believe it.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Recipe for ripped biceps

Ingredients:
(1) 8+ pound newborn who grows at a quick clip (preferably 15 pounds by two months)
(1) Stay-at-home mom who does most of the baby carrying

Mix ingredients for a year and admire results.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Rent-a-toddler

Tuesday night we went to Olive Garden for dinner. There wasn't anything spectacular about the meal. We didn't save anyone from choking or leave a gigantic tip or anything. But as we were walking out the hostess stopped Heath. She cooed and laughed at Ben for a minute and then she gave Heath a coupon for $5 off our next meal.

Apparently all you have to do to get free coupons is bring a cute toddler. This has money-making possibilities...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Yuuuuck

I'm not giving Ben Chex for a long, long time. He was eating one today and I think he swallowed it a little too whole. That caused him to semi-choke and then throw up. He was sitting on my lap at the time, so instinctively I put my hand out to catch it. I got most of it. It wasn't until I had changed his clothes, changed my pants and washed my hands that I realized how GROSS that was. The ways parenthood changes you.

What did you say?

As I alluded to in my last post, Ben has broken the talking barrier. He's been right on the cusp for a while and once we got home from Hawaii it all spilled out, starting with...

"No."

Yes, his first word - besides "mama" and "dada" - was "no."

I was a good kid. Why must I pay for Heath being a punk?!

Ben also says, "go," "dog," and "cheese." He's been parroting a lot of words, but those are the only ones he's initiated himself.

Despite the inauspicious word he chose as his first, it's very exciting to hear what he'll say next.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Bookish

Ben is obsessed with books. Over his lifetime we've amassed a collection of 100+ books for him, mostly board books. However, a few weeks ago he decided that board books were sooooo 11 months old. Since then he's only been interested in the few paper books we have. He's besotted with Dr. Seuss, especially The Cat in the Hat Comes Back and Green Eggs and Ham. They're really too long for him, because half the time he can't sit through the story and just wants to turn the pages, but he won't read anything else.

When we got home from Hawaii I unpacked the books he'd taken to Oma and Opa's, which included his two favorites. When I handed them to him he nearly vibrated with joy. Immediately he plopped down in my lap to read but it was like Sophie's Choice. I waited for him to set one down and he didn't. He just kept looking back and forth between them. When I asked, "Do you want to read Green Eggs and Ham?" he said, "Nonononononono." When I asked, "Do you want to read The Cat in the Hat Comes Back?" he said, "Nonononononono." He desperately wanted to read them both, but he wasn't willing to put down either of them, lest it be whisked away again. Finally after about 5 minutes (literally) he gingerly put The Cat in the Hat Comes Back on the floor and we read Green Eggs and Ham. It was a tough day.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Aloooooooooooha!

Hawaii was amazing. It's hard to believe a place can have such perfect weather all year round. It was warm during the day, cool at night and the rain was minimal. Hawaiians are all so laid back it's almost impossible to hate them for their good luck. Almost.

The vacation was long enough that we didn't have to cram activities in to do everything we wanted. We went surfing and snorkeling, we climbed Diamond Head, we attended a luau, we rented mopeds (which was Heath's idea... I was scared shitless the entire time), we got massages and we spent a lot of time lounging on the beach watching guys try to sell sunset boat rides. I have to say, out of that entire list, sitting on the beach reading and people watching was my favorite activity. Here imagine a sound file of my mom saying, "Duh."

Before leaving I was nervous that I'd spend the entire vacation worrying about Ben, but I passed even my own best case scenario. Of course we called home a few times and toward the end of the week we looked at his pictures more, but I was successfully able to put him out of my mind and relax. It was so nice to be on my own schedule and not have to worry about when Ben should eat or nap or whatever. We never woke up much past 7:00am, but we woke up naturally and that makes all the difference.

According to all the reports, Ben did well while we were gone, too. He ate and slept and played pretty much like normal. I think that contributed to my relaxing ability.

By the end of the week we were ready to come home and after a red-eye flight to L.A. and a 7am flight to St. Louis, there were Don and Ben picking us up from the airport. I was afraid Ben might be pissed at us (or, more likely, me, since he's a total Daddy's Boy), so I wasn't sure what to expect when I opened the car door. He stared at me for a second, as if trying to process what he was seeing. Then he smiled. Then he blew a raspberry at me. We spent the drive home giggling in the backseat, simply excited to see each other again. Once we got home he was all over Heath and didn't even let me hold him, which I admit stung a little. But yesterday morning when he woke up at 5:30am I took him into the guest room to sleep some more. Before he drifted off again he pressed his face against mine, as if trying to fuse them. And when he woke up he started laughing, overjoyed to see me.


Photographic evidence that I caught a wave. I may look cool, but I was most certainly thinking, "Holy shit, I'm doing it!" In the photos preceding this I was flailing my arms wildly, trying to gain my balance.


Yes, Heath was sticking his butt out that much in all the pictures!


Just because Heath - shall we say - doubted my ability to surf, I'll share this picture of him falling spectacularly. :)


Me with the mopeds at the bottom of Diamond Head. Notice how I'm standing a safe distance away?


The view of Diamond Head Crater from the summit.


Hanauma Bay, where we went snorkeling.


Rie & Paul, the actual reason we went to Hawaii.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

And it wouldn't look too good in the baby book, either

A couple weeks ago my Uncle Scot sent me an e-mail to let me know about a podcast which featured an interview with Weird Al (who, as anyone who's known me for a while knows, I adore). At the end he wrote, "FYI...there are a few naughty words (none from Al, of course) in case you're concerned about tender ears. I know he doesn't really speak English yet but it would be upsetting if his first was the 'F'."

At first I laughed and agreed that it would be a bad first word. Then I got to thinking. What would it be like if that really was his first word? Heath would be a hero at work, but the grandparents probably wouldn't like it too much...

"Our grandson's first word was 'kitty.' What about yours?"
"Oh, Ben? He dropped an f-bomb."

(Yes, we are back from Hawaii. I'm working on a post about it, but the short version is: It was awesome.)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

I'm not sure if I have enough Hawaiian shirts

On Sunday Heath and I are leaving for Hawaii. We'll be gone an entire week and Ben's alternately staying with Ian and Bekah and both sets of grandparents. Heath and I haven't been on a trip like this since our honeymoon and to say that I'm looking forward to it is the understatement of the year. There have been ticker tape parades going through my head every time I've thought of it for the past six months.

BUT (isn't there always one?), this will be the longest we've been away from Ben and the freaking out started weeks ago. Intellectually I know he'll be fine. He'll be with people who love him and will most likely spoil him rotten. But I keep imagining that moment we leave. He'll probably start crying and it's going to break my heart because he has no idea how long we'll be gone, or even if we're coming back. He's getting better at understanding what we say, but there's no way to explain this to him. I know once we're sitting on the beach, sleeping uninterrupted and eating meals at the same time I'll be fine, but I'm a world class worrier. Case in point, I'm writing an entire blog entry worrying about being worried.

However (that's just a fancy "but"), we need this vacation. The first year of someone's life is like boot camp for the parents and we need to get away and remember that our marriage came first. It's going to be a wonderful trip and I'm determined to enjoy every minute of it, but I have to admit, I'm also looking forward to seeing Ben's smile when we come home.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I want to remember this forever

We have two large trees in our small-to-medium sized backyard, so at this time of year it's always blanketed with leaves. Monday afternoon I took Ben outside because we don't utilize our backyard enough (ahem-it's never mowed-ahem). He's sometimes reluctant to walk in grass, but after kicking and throwing some leaves I was able to coax him in. We played for a while, burying each other and tossing leaves into the air, and then I laid back on the grass, looking through the branches to the clear, blue sky above. Ben was off investigating some bushes near the porch, but when he noticed me he made a noise which I understood to mean, "What are you doing, Mommy?"

"I'm looking at the sky and the clouds. Come here!"

He grinned at me and toddled over. But instead of laying on the grass beside me he leaned down, put his head on my chest and gave me a hug.

I've never had more fun playing in leaves.

Strangest comment I've gotten about Ben

Random woman at the YMCA:

"You're too pretty to be a boy."

?!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Halloween 2009

Halloween was kind of a bust for Ben.

We had a whole costume theme this year. Since Ben was a dragon, Heath was a knight and I was a princess. We made Heath's costume out of paper grocery bags and aluminum foil. It was real professional, let me tell you. I actually think he looked more like a Romulan, the way his "armor" crossed over his shoulders, but I suppose Romulans can fight dragons as well as knights. With the cloaking device they'd even have a leg up.

For my costume I wore my wedding dress (which, I'm happy to report, did fit and was only a little tight around the stomach) and some costume jewelry from Heath's grandma. I'd also bought a princess wig of flowing blond hair and that's what started all the trouble. I came out of the bathroom and Ben gave me the weirdest look. It was like he recognized my face but didn't understand what was going on with my hair. I tried to reassure him that it was Mommy, but he kept eyeing me with suspicion. That was actually harder to take than I would've thought. Having him so uncomfortable with me was really difficult.

Once we got to Ian and Bekah's party it all went downhill. Ben just wasn't happy. I eventually took off my wig, but everyone's costumes and masks were also freaking him out. We only lasted about 45 minutes. I did learn some lessons for next year, though.



*Picture courtesy of Ian and Bekah

Friday, October 30, 2009

Conversations with a toddler - Part 1

Scene: I'm wiping Ben's nose because he's all snotty.

Ben: *cry* *whine*

Me: I know you don't like this, but you have boogers all over your face. You don't want people to call you Booger Face, do you?

Ben: *whine* *cry*

Me: That would be pretty embarrassing when you're president.

Playgroup Halloween Party



A very unhappy little dragon


A happier, albeit snotty, little dragon




Football player = Elena

Mouse = Isaac



 
Swiffering Elvis = John-James

 
Fireman = Joey



Punk rock princess = Amelia



Elephant = Lily




Pumpkin = Elliott
 
The closest we could get to having them all in one place.
Pink shirts/shorts = Dora the Explorer = Alyssa

Friday, October 23, 2009

Five years ago today we were married

This has been a trying week in the Borders Household. Heath has had to work a lot. It's hard on him because he hates missing those few hours with Ben in the evening. It's hard on me because taking care of a toddler for 14 hours straight should be an Olympic sport. And it's hard on Ben because he doesn't get to see his daddy.

So Ben and I have been grumpy and Heath's been feeling guilty. It's too bad the culmination of the week had to be our 5th anniversary. Months ago Heath asked me if he could go to a programmers conference in town today and I said okay. We're going to Hawaii in two weeks, and that's really our anniversary trip. However, I must admit now that it's the actual day it's bumming me out that Heath probably won't be home until after I'm asleep. That's why it seems very appropriate to share this poem today.


True Love
by Judith Viorst

It is true love because
I put on eyeliner and a concerto and make pungent observations about the great issues of the day
Even when there's no one here but him,
And because
I do not resent watching the Green Bay Packers
Even though I am philosophically opposed to football,
And because
When he is late for dinner and I know he must be either having an affair or lying dead in the middle of the street,
I always hope he's dead.

It's true love because
If he said quit drinking martinis but I kept drinking them and the next morning I couldn't get out of bed,
He wouldn't tell me he told me,
And because
He is willing to wear unironed undershorts
Out of respect for the fact that I am philosophically opposed to ironing,
And because
If his mother was drowning and I was drowning and he had to choose one of us to save,
He says he'd save me.

It's true love because
When he went to San Francisco on business while I had to stay home with the painters and the exterminator and the baby who was getting the chicken pox,
He understood why I hated him,
And because
When I said that playing the stock market was juvenile and irresponsible and then the stock I wouldn't let him buy went up twenty-six points,
I understood why he hated me,
And because
Despite cigarette cough, tooth decay, acid indigestion, dandruff, and other features of married life that tend to dampen the fires of passion,
We still feel something
We can call
True love.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

At the pumpkin patch





 

 

 
I am the strongest boy... in the world!



L-R: Lily, Amelia, Ben, John-James






Monday, October 19, 2009

I have seen the future and it is exhausting

Heath and I have always known we wanted more than one kid. It's like our rule for cats: if you get one, you should get two so they have a playmate. Well, Saturday afternoon we got a little practice. We babysat Colin (who's almost 3 1/2) and for some reason we decided to take him and Ben to The Magic House (which is a hands-on children's museum). Holy crap, people. The place was completely packed and even though there were two of us, we could barely keep up with the two boys. Colin was obviously a little uncomfortable with how crowded it was and he kept saying he wanted to leave, but he always got distracted by something before we could make our way out. Ben loves being around other kids and loves having new stuff to play with, so he was super happy. They both enjoyed the sand area very much. Unfortunately we didn't find it until AFTER Colin had enjoyed the water area, so his coat was sparkly with sand by the time we left. It was tiring, but fun.

The afternoon was like a vision of the future. I can see us having a 3 1/2 year old and a 1 year old at the same time. It really hit home how much work these next half a dozen years are going to be. I hope we're up to it!

Friday, October 16, 2009

My Little Einstein

Last night I had one of those moments that make people want to be stay-at-home parents. For a couple weeks I've been trying to teach Ben some of his body parts. I started with head, nose, tummy and feet, because those were pretty obvious and easy to delineate. I'd say, "Ben, where's your head?" Then I'd put my or his hands on his head. Then I'd put my hands on my own head.

You can probably guess what's coming. Last night I asked, "Ben, where's your head?" Before I could move he deliberately put his own hands on his own head. I actually teared up. It was so amazing to watch him do something I'd taught him. And my joy was only slightly dampened when I asked, "Ben, where's your nose?" and he put his hands on his head again. One step at a time.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The pee's the thing

Diaper changes have been an adventure lately. For months Ben never peed on the changing table once. Flipped over, tried to crawl off, threw tantrums when I wouldn't let him crawl off, yes. But pee? No.

Then all of a sudden last week he started peeing during every single diaper change. EVERY SINGLE ONE. That's at least 7 times a day cleaning up pools of pee. Several socks, shirts and pairs of pants (including one of mine) were victims of this pee spree. And it seemed like he was doing it on purpose, or at least was somewhat aware of what was happening. I'd throw his diaper in the pail and he'd start giggling. Then I'd notice the big wet stain under his butt. *sigh*

So I've purchased a training potty. Buying it was an experience. I have absolutely no recollection of being potty trained myself (probably a good thing), but I can't imagine they had the same array of potties back then. We went to Babies R Us last week and they had potties that sang and ones that gave you stickers. They were more like toys than toilets. I may offend someone with this statement, but I don't think we should encourage kids to play with the toilet. There I said it. Bring on the hate mail!

Needless to say, I bought the plain potty, and though it did come with some stickers, it doesn't dispense them. I have to admit that we haven't used it yet. I know once we start we shouldn't really stop and it exhausts me to think about it. I wasn't expecting this so soon. Of course, Ben's peeing antics have slowed down a little and now he only pees on the changing table maybe once a day. I can probably deal with that for a while. Isn't it sad when your life is made better by having to clean up someone else's pee only ONCE a day.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Who's training whom?

Last night Heath's parents came over for dinner and we had a nice visit with them. Ben's always a little wary at first when they come over, because they often babysit him. He thinks when he sees them we're going to leave. But we didn't and I was happy that by the end of the evening he'd presented books to both of them, demanding to be read to.

Ben had already eaten dinner by the time we got our pizza, so he sat in his highchair for a little while and ate crust, but eventually I let him out before we were finished. He circled the table doing his various weird Ben things, and then he started clapping. Well, when he clapped everyone else clapped. So he started testing us. Will they clap if I stand here? What about here? Wow, these people are all at my command!

Admittedly, getting adults to clap isn't exactly like having your finger on the button. However, he's starting to realize he can influence people's behavior. Let's see what comes of this!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

That's what I said

Let's see... What's Ben been up to lately? He's discovered squealing and screaming. Whenever I get out our Wii remotes to play Animal Crossing (a very cartoon-y video game) he SCREAMS in delight. He squeals at the top of his lungs when he sees the cats. It's all happy and cute, but it can be disconcerting.

He's not talking yet, at least not in any language we can understand. He's very proficient in toddler-ese. A couple people have commented they thought he said "dog" or "cat," but I don't know. He is definitely understanding more and more of what we say, though. I can say, "Ben do you want some milk?" and he'll go over to the refrigerator. Or I'll tell him to pick out a book to read before his nap and he'll bring one to me. And even though he's not saying words, he's still making his wants and needs pretty clear through gestures. It's very exciting to be able to communicate with him through ways other than crying. It's like every so often we get this peek at who he's becoming and I love it.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Deja Vu all over again

Last night was what we in the industry call "a bad night." Last week Ben was diagnosed with mild double ear infections, which explained why he'd been having some trouble sleeping. However, since we started the antibiotics he's been sleeping fine. Until last night.

Heath put him to bed around 8pm, as usual, but he wasn't actually asleep in his crib until 1:30am. We took turns attempting to soothe him to sleep, trying everything in our parental playbook: rocking, singing, reading books, playing his CDs, letting him cry it out. We even brought him into our bed, though it was apparent after 10 minutes that it wasn't going to work. Nobody would get any sleep when one of the sleepers kept trying to crawl off the bed.

So finally at 12:45am I did what I've never had to do before, even when Ben was a newborn: I drove him around until he fell asleep. We drove for a long time and as we neared home my stomach was tied in knots. Being sleep deprived is a truly horrible thing and I was going to cry and cry if Ben woke up again. Well, he did wake up slightly when I took him out of the car seat, but he laid down in his crib with no protest. Then I had an extreme case of deja vu from a year ago. I walked back into our room wishing and hoping and praying that he would stay asleep, but knowing that it would take me a while to get there myself. I flipped on the baby monitor and let out a sigh of resignation as Heath began to snore. I laid down, sweater still on and hair still in a ponytail because if I had to get up again I didn't want to bother with those things. Then for half an hour I tried to calm my mind, but every time I heard Ben move (sounds that normally don't even wake me anymore) an electric bolt of fear would thrill down my spine and my body would tense, waiting to hear that whiny cry over the monitor. Luckily it never came and I was able to get to sleep in a respectable amount of time, but it's amazing how quickly I went right back to that place. We haven't had a night like that in many months, but I automatically went into battle mode. With time the mind can dull the pain, but apparently the body never forgets.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Things I want to remember

-The way Ben fits perfectly in my lap right now. When I'm sitting cross legged he gets all snuggled up, keeping my legs and torso warm, and I can put my chin on his head while we read a book (or 50).

-Kneeling at the bottom of the slide, looking up at Ben as he grins madly in anticipation of the ride ahead.

-Ben carrying a tiny pumpkin around all afternoon at Heath's company picnic like it was the coolest thing EVER.

-When Ben wakes up from a nap I pick him up out of his crib and he lays his head on my shoulder. Then we just stand there for a moment, hugging each other.

-Every time we read The Big Red Barn and I get to the line "there was a pink pig who was learning to squeal" I tickle him on his sides and he giggles like crazy.

Friday, October 2, 2009

But they're so delicious, Mommy!

Yesterday morning as I put on my sneakers to go to the gym I described to Ben what I was doing.

"Mommy's putting on her socks, just like we put on your socks earlier. They keep your feet warm. Now I'm putting on my shoes so we can go outside."

It sounds inane, but supposedly it helps toddlers learn speech. So, after I was done I said something like, "Ben can you get your shoes?" I wasn't actually expecting him to do anything, but he toddled over to the shoe cubby and stopped. It seemed like he was thinking. Then he bent down, pulled one of his sneakers out and handed it to me. It was amazing. I didn't even use a hand gesture to indicate what I meant. He just did it based on my words. It wasn't a coincidence, either, because we repeated the same scenario later in the day with the same results. This could really come in handy!

I probably shouldn't be surprised he knows the word "shoe." One of his favorite activities is to pull the shoes out of the cubby holes and carry them around the house. I say the phrase, "Ben, don't eat shoes!" multiple times a day.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Rules were made to be broken

A few weeks ago when I went to the first of my many dentist appointments this month, my mom watched Ben. I had to leave before he woke from his morning nap, so I was afraid he might freak out when he discovered I wasn't there. However, Mom said he was fine and even smiled at her. For some reason she's always surprised that he likes her, despite the fact that she lavishes attention and presents on him.

After lunch they were playing in the living room and smarty pants Ben decided he would test some boundaries. We don't allow him to touch the fireplace*, but Mom didn't know that. So he approached and started banging on it. Then every few seconds he would stop and look at her, to check her reaction. When he wasn't reprimanded he would bang away in joy. Mom said when he looked back at her he had a twinkle in his eye, because he knew he was getting away with something. I suppose that was his first lesson in how to manipulate his grandparents. Step 1: Be cute. Step 3: Profit!

However, Mommy and Daddy aren't so easily persuaded. The fireplace rule persists, but that doesn't stop Ben from testing it. He knows his hands are off limits, but what about toys? Can he bang toys on the fireplace? Nope, apparently not. How about a ladle? Okay, no. A stuffed animal? Wow, still no? How about if I lick it, is that okay? No? Come on! You guys are total fascists!

Heath delights in Ben's creativity and craftiness and I have to admit it is amusing. He's already applying the scientific method to his life. One day he will crack the code of the fireplace!


*It's a gas fireplace which is totally enclosed, so he couldn't actually hurt himself on it, but we don't want him in the habit of playing with fireplaces.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Soon he'll be doing geometry proofs

Not much posting as of late because on Friday I had several pieces of my body forcibly removed from my head (i.e. I had my wisdom teeth out). So I've been in recovery mode for a while, but during that time we had two big milestones in the Borders household:

1. We are now bottle free! Ben is weaned and no longer drinks formula. He does suck down whole milk like it's liquid cocaine, though. Yesterday when I gave him a sippy of water and he was expecting milk he actually spit the water out in disgust. Such a snob! The weaning process was very easy. We slowly eliminated one bottle at a time and he never seemed to notice. Score! Here's hoping the eventual binky weaning process goes as easily. Oh, pipe dreams, you're so beautiful and yet so unattainable.

2. Ben used a fork for the first time yesterday! The prospect of him learning to use utensils makes my eye twitch a little, because I'm not good with messes. Or clutter. Basically all the things babies seem to bring with them from the womb. *sigh* So for my sanity we started off with scrambled eggs, because they couldn't be too messy. I speared an egg globule (what do you call a small part of scrambled eggs?) and Ben obediently opened his mouth like every other day I've fed him breakfast. Then I handed him the fork. I had no idea what to expect. Would he toss it to the floor along with his cup and about 5,000 Cheerios? Would he stab himself in the face? Should I have the doctor on hold? Well, you know what he did? He stuck it in his mouth and ate the egg. And he did that for the rest of the meal. Our boy is a genius! I didn't bother trying to get him to spear his own food, because I figured if he could do that we needed to get Harvard on the phone and we don't have enough savings for that yet.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

It's my party and I'll cry if I want to

Overall, Ben's birthday party was a success. I was a little worried because he'd gotten shots the day before and they had him feeling out of sorts. The snot as well as the crankiness was flowing liberally. Plus, we'd hoped to have a backyard barbecue, but menacing clouds kept us inside. It didn't actually rain, though, which made Heath's grilling much easier.

Ben got into a better mood once other kids started arriving. I think we have an extrovert on our hands, because he's happier when he's around kids. I was even able to leave his side without him throwing a fit, which is always kind of iffy these days.

I like being able to have people come to our house and enjoy themselves, but as hostess you never get to have very much fun at your own party. I don't feel like I got to talk to anyone for more than 2 minutes. And Heath was outside grilling for half the party, so I'm sure he felt the same. Still, it was wonderful how many people showed up to help us celebrate one year of Ben.

As with any one year old's birthday party, the cake smashing was the highlight. Ben was more timid than I expected. At first he only swiped frosting off the sides. But maaaaan, did he love that frosting. Heath and I helped him dig into the cake a little, but he never went face first, as some people were hoping. Probably just as well, since I haven't gotten to the nostril extraction chapter in What to Expect the Toddler Years. After about 10 minutes of this we decided to stop him and just before we took the cake away he wiped his cakey hands all over his face. Classic.

By this time he was getting tired and the cranky was re-emerging, but people had brought a mountain of presents, so we decided to dig into them. We tried to get Ben to open the first one, but he was not interested. So I opened them while he sat on Heath's lap and read. People were amazingly generous. We got a ton of books and many, many toys. I'm parceling them out slowly over the next few weeks.

After the 3 foot high pile of wrapping paper was cleaned up, it was time for the birthday boy's well-earned nap. He actually slept for an hour, which surprised me considering how much pure sugar he ingested, but when he woke up he was WIRED. He laughed at me for several minutes because of the way I shook my head back and forth. The kid was high. I could almost hear him saying, "Dude... I feel like a blue vase." It's safe to say he won't be having that much sugar again for a long time.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

I'm a horrible mother v2.0

Ben looks like he's been in a bar fight. First there's the bruise on his cheek. Then there's the bug bite he scratched until bleeding, on his other cheek. And on Friday the following happened:

We were at a big playground walking around on some of the equipment. Ben was getting around really well, until he tried to move past a girl to get near the slide. He tripped on her sandal and went forehead first into the plastic step. He didn't even catch himself with his hands, it was all forehead. Ouch.

So now he has a big bruise across his forehead, to compliment his other injuries. Can you imagine how much smarter we'd all be if we were never toddlers?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

I swear he has it in for me (you can decide which "he")

I'm starting to notice a pattern. All this week Heath got up with Ben in the morning and Ben slept until 6:45am. Then yesterday Heath left at 6am to play golf, which gave me wake up duty. Ben woke up at 6:20. Where did my 25 extra minutes go?! I'm adding them to Ben's bill, to be delivered on his 18th birthday.

It's the same thing on the weekends. Saturday is my day to sleep in and Ben's been known to sleep until 7am. But on Sunday morning when Heath gets to sleep late? It's a 6:15 wake up call.

I think it's a conspiracy. Somehow Heath is training Ben to wake up early on my mornings to spite me for leaving used paper towels on the kitchen counter or forgetting to close the lid on the container of baby wipes. Or, god forbid, leaving clothes on the toilet seat while I shower! How will we survive?!

Now I just need to figure out how to use Ben to get back at him for leaving his pants on the living room floor and keeping piles of stuff on the utility counter for months on end. And, yes, just so you know, my grievances are legitimate and his are CrAzY!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Needles are icky

We took Ben to the doctor on Saturday and here are his new stats:

Weight: 27.8 lbs - 96th percentile
Height: 31 in. - 90th percentile
Head: 49cm - 96th percentile

His weight gain is slowing down a lot. He only gained 1.5 pounds since his last check up three months ago. He grew two inches, though. He's still chubby, but he's definitely thinning out and supposedly eating can drop off when they enter their second year. Between that and the walking (soon to be running) I think we'll be seeing a leaner, sleeker Ben model in the future.

He only got two shots and one was the flu vaccine. It seems to have affected him, because he's had a runny nose ever since. No fever, but the nose is like a faucet. The doctor also said they do a routine lead test at one year, so yesterday I took Ben to the lab. They took blood out of his arm, which I wasn't expecting. What I was expecting was crying and thrashing around and maybe even trying to touch the needle. So I had a death grip on Ben as the technician tied off his arm and started to take his blood. However, Ben didn't even seem to notice anything was happening. He was still cooing at the technician while the needle was in his arm. The guy got two vials of blood and Ben didn't protest at all. We were both amazed. He was better at that than I am. You just never know, because he was not happy at all when he got shots on Saturday.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

I'm a horrible mother

I know the title of the post isn't true, but I feel like it after what happened yesterday. We visited the City Garden, which is a cool urban garden with sculptures and a splash area for kids. Now that Ben's becoming an accomplished walker he was having tons of fun walking around to the different water jets and just exploring. I was walking near him, but letting him have some independence to walk where he wanted.

Well, in the middle of the water area is a fountain in which kids are allowed to swim. It was too deep for Ben, but there was a nice wide stone platform to hold onto and watch other kids. He was headed for the platform and when he was almost there he lunged a bit, as he often does when he's near his destination. Only that time he misjudged how far away he was. His hand slipped and he fell face first into the platform and then onto the ground. I knew it was going to happen the second before, but I wasn't close enough to stop it. I just watched in horror.

Of course Ben started screaming and honestly I was expecting blood and a possible trip to the ER. However, his face was just pink where he'd hit on his left cheek. I thought the bruise would be massive, but it's not. Still, between that and the bug bite he scratched he looks like he's been in a fight. Playgroup's getting rough.

I feel very lucky that it wasn't worse. The platform was rounded, so I think that saved us from more injury. I don't know what I'm going to do when something really serious happens.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A place filler

I will do a write-up of Ben's birthday party soon, but in the meantime here's the video of him eating his cake:



Here's the link, if that video goes too slowly: Let Ben eat cake!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

On the eve of our first kid birthday party

We are furiously preparing for Ben's party tomorrow. The house is now presentable and lots of food has been procured. Presents have been wrapped and there are balloons floating in the laundry room (protected from both toddlers and felines). I forgot about them and then they scared the crap out of me when I opened the door. Good thing Ben's not old enough to remember that, because I'm sure I'd never hear the end of it. Tonight I have to bake the cakes and then we're pretty much ready.

Wednesday we had a good day. Unfortunately Heath had caught a bad cold, so he was down for the count. It's good Ben won't remember that, either, but I know Heath felt pretty badly about it. However, we made the best of the day and headed to the Botanical Garden with a few playgroup friends. We saw koi and then we played in the children's garden. They have a splash area and Ben had a great time in the water.



Wednesday, September 2, 2009

One complete revolution around the sun

Dear Ben,

One year ago on this very day you came into our lives. Daddy and I were so happy to finally meet you. Getting to know you over this past year has been one of the best experiences of my life.

We've done a lot this year. We joined a playgroup and met a lot of new friends. We took three road trips and one plane trip and you were excellent all four times. We've gone to the mall, to the movies, to the park, to numerous playgrounds and we spent a lot of time walking around our own neighborhood.

You've also changed a lot. A year ago you were this tiny blob who couldn't even lift his own head up. You could barely stay awake long enough to eat. Now you're crawling and walking around the house and soon you'll be running and climbing (Lord, help us all). You laugh a lot now and you seem to be a genuinely happy person. You have no idea how wonderful it is to just lie on the floor, tickle you and listen to you laugh. As Daddy would say, it is a Lifetime Moment.

One big aspect of your personality that has emerged is that you're very investigative. Anytime you come into contact with something new you have to turn it over and examine it before you play with it or stick it in your mouth (so far you haven't deemed anything unworthy of being stuck into your mouth). It's also been the same way with big physical changes. As I've said before, you have to do a cost-benefit analysis before you attempt anything new. Thus, when you started both crawling and walking it was a few weeks before either really caught on. You had to figure out for yourself if this new mode of locomotion was really worth all the trouble of learning it. Everyone says you look so much like your Daddy and at least in that way you think like him, too.

Benny, I love you so much and I'm still in awe that I created a person like you. This year has been a total roller coaster and it hasn't all been good, but there was never a moment that I didn't love you. Today and on this day every year in the future we will celebrate the day we met you. I can't wait to find out even more about you and watch as you unfold into the person you are and will become. It is an amazing honor to be a part of it.

Love,
Mommy

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

What do you think about that?

It's been a month since our trip, but Ben is finally back to peaceful sleeping habits. He goes down for naps and bedtime without a fuss and he's waking up between 6:15 and 6:30. No more 5:30 wake up calls. I wish I could go back in time and tell my high school self that in the future I would be grateful to wake up at 6:30. The look of horror would be quite amusing.

By now I realize that peaceful sleeping isn't a "forever" thing. We go through good spells and bad spells and very, very, very bad spells. Right now I'm just trying to enjoy this good spell without spoiling it by over thinking. Not an easy task for me. If over thinking was an Olympic sport I would be a gold medalist many times over.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Defiance: Thy name is toddler

Toddler tendencies have been cropping up in Ben's behavior for a couple months now. The most infuriating one (so far) is with his sippy cup. It sits on his highchair tray during meals and he is apparently physically incapable of putting it back when he's done drinking. His DNA compels him to drop it onto the floor (I think it's the Y chromosome). At first he just dropped or threw it to see what happened, but now he knows it makes me mad. Sometimes he grabs it, doesn't even take a drink, and holds it over the side of the chair. Then he gives me this smirk like, "Give me all the cookies, or the cup gets it!" If I say no he laughs. I'm sure I have many, many parenting trials ahead of me, but him laughing when I say no strains my patience to the breaking point.

As Heath said, Ben's fortune was probably meant for us instead.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The times, they are a-changin'

Remember this post about 2 months ago, in which I lamented Ben's disinterest in food? It's amazing how quickly life changes, because now he's all about the table food. He still eats baby food, to a point, but he'd much rather be shoveling bread or cheese into his mouth. It's good in the long run, but it requires a thinking shift on my part. No longer can I just throw a couple containers in the diaper bag and have lunch for him. And since he can't have or wouldn't be able to eat certain foods yet, it can be difficult to find something for him to eat at a restaurant. However, soon he'll be able to eat almost anything, so that'll make his meals a little easier (at the 1 year appointment, most pediatricians give the go-ahead for most table food).

Ben's favorite foods:

Bread
Cheese
Peas
Corn
Cottage cheese
Yogurt
Deli meat
Applesauce

Foods he's not too sure about yet:

Strawberries
Raspberries
Asparagus
Blackberries
Potatoes

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Picture Round Up

Wisconsin Pride


Standing all on his own


Flying high without a care


His favorite activity


Reading with Elmo (although Heath set up this shot,
because he thought it would be cute - which it is)


Rockin' only a diaper


This looks very GQ to me, with an attitude that says,
"Who cares? It's only fashion."

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Those Chinese have a sense of humor

On Sunday afternoon Ben and I visited our local Borders, which is a very dangerous activity. It's near impossible for me to leave a bookstore without a purchase (or several). I managed to talk myself out of Volume 2 of Neil Gaiman's graphic novel Sandman, since my birthday is coming up soon (*cough*), but I didn't leave the store empty handed. I bought What to Expect the Toddler Years. Huh? How do I suddenly have a toddler? A year ago he was still inside me and now he's a toddler?! He's not exactly toddling around yet. I think his record is 10 steps in a row and then a plop on the butt. But he's definitely not a baby. He's starting to understand what we say and sometimes he actually obeys us. We've been working on waving and just this morning when I said, "Ben, say bye to Daddy," he held up his hand toward Heath, which is his version of a wave. Heart melting moment.

Sunday evening we all went to P.F. Chang's for dinner and at the end of the meal our server brought us fortune cookies. The funny thing is that he brought three, so I guess one was for Ben. He was probably trying to butter up the parents for a better tip. Having an adorable child I'm now well-versed in how service people use your child to get to you. Going to the car dealerships with him just made me feel dirty. Anyway, Heath and I opened our fortune cookies and then I opened Ben's. Here is what our almost-toddler's first fortune was:

"Patience is a key to joy."

Saturday, August 15, 2009

I just blew my own mind

I have this habit that whenever Ben's whining or crying because I wouldn't let him do something super fun like play with the electrical outlet, I always say, "I know, your life's so hard. You have two people who wait on you hand and foot AND wipe your butt."

However, I was thinking about it this week, and the world probably is pretty hard for babies. Take waving. We wave to say hello to people, but we also perform the exact same action for the exact opposite reason, namely saying goodbye to people. That must be a difficult concept to learn, and that's pretty elementary. Think of all the complicated social norms that as adults we just take for granted. And they shift and change depending on the situation or the people involved or the time of day. (Actually that last one I'm not sure about, but it sounded good.)

The world is a very complicated place and it's daunting to think about having to learn it all. Good thing babies don't know any better.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Meet the Designer

Remember my post about Baby Chic? Here's the designer at work:

Surveying the top shelf of the changing table and contemplating his next move.


Interesting choice to knock over the diaper can, but who can question a master?


A nice touch to pull clothes out of the hamper.


Patiently ruminating on the perfect placement of dirty shorts.


Moving on to the book shelf.


Obviously those stuffed animals are much too high.

The Most Funnest Game

Though Ben took his first steps last week, as with all his physical accomplishments it's slow to catch on. However, I can tell he wants to move around in an upright way. His newest obsession is crawling under the dining room table, pulling up on one of the chairs and then pushing it around like a walker. So it's now a common occurrence in our house to see chairs moving around seemingly on their own. Could be Ben, could be that pesky poltergeist again.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Hugs

Last Thursday my moms group met at Crestwood Court, which is an almost-defunct mall, but has a wonderful play area that is usually deserted. At the other malls with play areas there are lots of bigger kids and you expect that at any moment your baby will be flattened by a waterfall of eight year olds.

So we met there and it was a reunion of sorts, as many of us had been on vacation at the end of July and hadn't hung out in several weeks. Alyssa, who is the oldest of the group (by one day), is pretty affectionate with the other kids, so once everyone was re-acquainted she started handing out hugs. She hugged Ben several times in a row, which was a little awkward, as she's taller than he is and was sort of squishing his head. But it was very cute and of course all of us moms were sitting there going, "Awwww." Then the final hug was so forceful it ended up with both of them on the floor. I expected Ben to start screaming, even though he wasn't really hurt. However, he just seemed surprised that he could induce such passion. Like parents, like son. I think Heath and I are both surprised someone of the opposite sex likes us. :)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Extreme Home Makeover: Infant Edition

I've recently learned about a new design aesthetic. It's called Baby Chic. It seems simple in its application, but there are many nuances not obvious to the average person. The main concept is that shelves, tables, really any flat surface should be as bare as possible. The floor is where things belong. Coasters, diapers, rags, Cheerios, cups, shoes, Kleenex, books, etc. Nothing belongs up high where it can't be reached. Should one make the mistake of trying to rearrange things back onto the shelves, a Baby Chic enthusiast will scold that person for her "in the box" thinking and energetically return them to their rightful place on the floor. As for things already on the floor - lamps, hat racks, laundry baskets - they cannot remain upright. They must be tipped over and dumped out.

It is possible to give your house a Baby Chic makeover yourself, but to really experience the joy of it you need a trained professional. However, getting a full-time trained professional is a costly, time consuming and painful process, so you're probably better off just borrowing one for the weekend. You can borrow ours! We'll go to a movie.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Well, here we go!

Ben took his first step yesterday! He was standing in the middle of the dining room, not holding onto anything, and Heath, Bekah and I were all cheering him on. He moved his little foot forward and we all gasped. Then he promptly fell on his butt. He did it, though, and he took another step this morning. Amazing!

Monday, August 3, 2009

I'm so emo

After our Northern Adventures Ben was having trouble sleeping. Whenever we go through bouts of this, I freak out. I think his first few months scarred me for life. I'm soooo protective of my sleep now. So when he has trouble sleeping I get all dramatic and think, "He's never going to sleep well EVER AGAIN and thus I won't sleep well ever again. Oh woe is me."

However, I'm happy to report that we seem to have made it through the bad sleep tunnel. Last night he went to bed with very little fuss and as of right now he's been napping for an hour without waking up.

Next time this happens someone please remind me that it always gets back to normal with time.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

11 Months Old

One month from today will be the anniversary of the most painful experience of my life. Is that really something I want to celebrate every single year? With cake?

Regardless, my baby boy is almost one. I remember last fall taking walks around the neighborhood with this tiny person and not believing I would make it this far. Surely the exhaustion would kill me. Everyone assured me it would get better, but all I wanted was my future self to come back in time and tell me it was true. So just in case time isn't linear, I'm sending good thoughts to my past self, to let her know that it does get easier. It's still really hard, but in different ways, and you get used to it. Sort of. I guess that's the way it'll be for his whole life. We finally get a handle on one thing and then he'll throw something new at us.

So we'll be throwing our very first kid's birthday party in a few weeks. It's pretty amazing to think about. We survived a whole year!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Photographic evidence

With Great-Grandma


His first taste of ice cream


Having fun with Great-Aunt Becky


Laughing at silly Uncle Ian (at the Mall of America)


A four generation picture

*Pictures courtesy of Bekah. I was too damn busy and exhausted to take any.

Vacation, all I ever wanted...

We were on vacation in Minnesota and Wisconsin for 8 days and 7 nights. By the 7th night I could've stored all our luggage in the bags under my eyes. I don't think I'll ever again take Ben on vacation without Heath. My parents, Ian and Bekah were a huge help, but there are times when he only wants Mommy or Daddy. And when Daddy's not around, it all falls on Mommy. It didn't help that his sleep schedule got all messed up, so he never went to bed before 8:30pm and never woke up after 5:45am. All. Week. Long. Heath joined us for my cousin's wedding on the weekend, and I had never been so excited to see him, although my joy was masked by my crushing fatigue.

That being said, I'm glad we went. Ben got to spend time with his great-grandparents, his great-aunts and uncles and various other relatives. He also got to spend a lot of time with his Oma and Opa, Uncle Ian and Aunt Bekah, which is great because he'll be all the the more comfortable with them come November, when Mommy and Daddy are going to Hawaii BY THEMSELVES (can you tell I'm just a wee bit excited about that? not only about relaxing on the beach and spending time together, but just the thought of packing for a trip and NOT having to pack for a toddler makes me giddy).

I feel like Ben grew up on this trip. He's not really a baby anymore. He can't walk just yet, but he's so close it'll be any second. And his diet expanded significantly. It was like all of a sudden he couldn't get enough of solid food. He was introduced to the concept that on vacation you eat a lot of junk. He had his first tastes of ice cream, Jell-o, french fries and blueberry muffins. We also discovered that the kid is a carb freak. We did not find his threshold for eating bread. As far as we know, he'll continue eating it indefinitely. I guess he won't be going on Atkins anytime soon.

Once again, Ben proved what a tremendous traveler he is. He did spectacularly well in the car and the frequent changes in environment didn't seem to throw him too much. By the end of the week you could tell he was wiped out, so by the day of my cousin's wedding he was pretty grouchy. The people sitting in front of us got a nice recitation of The Very Hungry Caterpillar about a dozen times during the ceremony. However, the kid is a trooper. And on Sunday he found out just how wonderful it is to come home after a long trip. He was so excited to be home. He crawled around examining everything and squeaked with joy, as if to say, "I never thought I'd see you again!"

It's been nice to be home this week, but we've had trouble getting back on schedule. Ben is resisting naps and putting him to bed at night is horrible. We're back to letting him cry it out and it's been 30-60 minutes (or more) before he finally falls asleep. I think it's because Heath usually puts him to bed and after being away from him for a week Ben's afraid he'll be gone again. It's really sweet and it shows how much he loves his daddy, but it's very stressful for all of us.

Just to end on a pleasant note, I'll share my favorite memory from the week: It was Saturday morning and when I woke up Heath and Ben were lounging on the other bed. I joined them and we all just snuggled for a while, happy to be together again. It was one of those moments that makes you feel all the other crap is totally worth it.

Monday, July 27, 2009

He's so talented

I will post about our trip to Minnesota/Wisconsin, but right now I only have a few minutes between grocery shopping and laundry. I'll use that few minutes to tell you about Ben's newest skill: Unrolling all the toilet paper in the bathroom! I'm so proud.

EDITED TO ADD: He also figured out that flushing the toilet makes a really funny sound.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

It just might

Sorry for the lack of posting over the last week. Ben's been teething and then we all came down with colds. Taking care of a now-mobile baby with a cold, while I have a cold is a feat unto itself, without having to worry about being entertaining.

And, unfortunately, there probably won't be too many posts until the last week of July. We're taking a road trip Up North, visiting relatives in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Actually, we'll be visiting a lot of the people who read this blog, who will be meeting Ben for the first time! So there will be much to report on our return, assuming the trip doesn't kill me.

Ben the Bookworm

When I was pregnant, I was afraid of many things: My water breaking on the carpet at work, strangers touching my stomach, that the baby would turn out to be a football player... But honestly one of my biggest fears was that he wouldn't like to read. Well, that fear is firmly put to bed.

I don't know if he had a natural inclination from the start or it's the fact that we've been reading to him since he was born, but Ben loves books. Up in his room we have most of his board books scattered on the floor in front of the bookshelf and 8 times out of 10 he chooses books over toys. He crawls right for them and entertains himself for a long time just flipping through all the pages.

He's also started doing the very "kid" thing of wanting to read the same book over and over and over. You can't truly appreciate the complexities of Little Quack's Bedtime until that sixth reading.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

That'll come in handy

It took a few weeks, but Ben's finally crawling like a normal child. I think he had to do a cost-benefit analysis before he really took off. "Crawling takes a lot of energy, but it does allow me to get to those drawers, open them up and pull out all the video games."

So this morning when I was using the Swiffer, Ben decided it was very interesting and started crawling after it. He followed the Swiffer through three rooms before it got boring. I think this is an interest I'll encourage. My friend Irene likes to tell about her son Isaac and his love of the Swiffer. He pushes it around the house and eventually she decided to put a dusting cloth on the bottom. Hey, if he's having fun what's the harm if a little cleaning happens along the way? People used to have children so they'd have more fieldhands. Quibbles about child labor be damned! Once Ben's old enough, he'll join the Swiffer army. It's not like I'm asking him to pick crops.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Happy Post-4th of July

Ben attended his first fireworks show last night. I wasn't too worried about him freaking out, because loud noises don't seem to bother him. People have been shooting off fireworks in the neighborhood all week and he hasn't noticed. He was pretty tired by the time they started, but he paid attention. He wasn't scared, but he wasn't overjoyed by them, either. It was more like academic study, to figure out this new phenomenon. Then, the second the fireworks stopped it started pouring down rain and I mourned a little, because I knew the stroller would get the clean, new carpet in the trunk of my SUV all dirty. *sigh*

For me, the most exciting thing about the 4th wasn't the fireworks. It was the fact that Ben is eating more food! He ate some lettuce and some noodles from the pasta salad. He promptly threw them back up (while I was filming him, incidentally), but at least it's something!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Ugh

For the past month or so Ben has been a champion at the YMCA. I'd drop him off in the child care room and he'd be happy as a clam to have new toys to play with, instead of all the old, boring toys at our house. Plus, there were BIG KIDS to watch and nothing is more fun than that!

For some reason, though, this week has been tough and this morning was terrible. Immediately when we walked in the room he started clinging to me for dear life, because he knew I was going to leave. He started bawling when I put him down and then the worst thing - he started crawling after me. So here's this crying child crawling to me and I can just hear, "Mommy, don't leave me!" I tried to get him interested in some of his favorite toys, but he wasn't having any of it and eventually I had to leave him there, crying. By the time I came back he was playing happily, but I don't know if I'll ever forget that image of him crawling after me, bawling his eyes out.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Things... they are a-changin'

Ben is slowly becoming a toddler. For example:

-He's crawling around more. He still prefers walking with our help, but he's starting to realize that if he crawls he can get things. Things that, until now, have been tantalizingly out of reach. The other morning Heath put him down near the coffee table and when I came back in a few minutes later he was clear across the room, opening drawers on our TV stand and pulling out video games.

-He can now sometimes stand on his own, without holding onto anything, for up to 5 seconds. I know it doesn't seem like a long time, but in the almost-10-months world that's an eternity.

-Ben can also now sit and stand up in his crib. I've walked in several times today to find him standing and bouncing up and down. We lowered the mattress just in time!

-Saturday morning when Heath went in to get Ben he was babbling, "mamamamamama," but when he saw Heath he started saying, "dadadadadada." Maybe a coincidence, maybe not.

-For the past couple days I've been asking, "Ben, where's mama?" Sometimes he reaches for me and sometimes he just gives me this look, as if to say, "I am not your monkey."

-He's cruising around on furniture like crazy. This week he's perfecting going from one piece to another. It's not going to be long now and the boy will be walking. Crazy.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

You are what you (don't) eat

Despite the subject line, Ben's getting a little, tiny bit better about eating solid foods. I've figured out that he doesn't like small pieces, such as Cheerio's or puffs or any of the other thousands of baby snacks I've purchased for him. He can't pick them up very well and even when he tries to get them into his mouth, they end up in the palm of his hand and he's left chewing on fingers.

So, I've started giving him teething biscuits and he seems to like those. He drools and chomps and makes a complete mess and in the process some of it gets down his throat. Snack time in this house is closely followed by changing clothes time. He also liked playing with/eating/obliterating long pieces of string cheese.

Today I actually got him to eat some of a spaghetti meal. He liked the sauce and then when I started including bigger pieces on the spoon he didn't immediately spit them out. Of course eventually he started spitting them out, but around here that's a victory.

And yesterday my mother fulfilled some of her grandmotherly duties by feeding Ben his first frozen yogurt from Ben & Jerry's. After each bite he made a weird face, like he wasn't so sure about it, but he was quick to open up his mouth again, lest we think he didn't want more.

So we're getting there, just very, very slowly. We've almost caught up to that tortoise.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

R.I.P. Martha Ann Phillips Borders

Last week Heath's grandmother passed away. I didn't know her very well, but she was always very sweet when I saw her. On Mother's Day she met Ben for the first time. I'm glad he got to spend some time with her. She will be missed.



A four generation photo

Monday, June 22, 2009

*sigh*

Things Ben Will Put Into His Mouth:

Every single book and toy he owns
My keys
My cell phone
My iPod
Kleenex
Grass
His wading pool
The coffee table
Magnets
A folding chair
The diaper bag
Minnie's tail
The remote control
My finger
My nose
My chin
The chain on swings
The grocery cart
Towels
An ottoman
Kitchen utensils
My sunglasses
Grandma's reading glasses
The straps on his car seat/stroller/highchair


Things Ben Won't Put Into His Mouth:

Food

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day 1.0

Happy Father's Day to the man who changed all of Ben's diapers in the hospital.

Happy Father's Day to the man who gets up in the morning so I can sleep a little longer.

Happy Father's Day to the man who tirelessly swings Ben around and throws him into the air.

Happy Father's Day to the man who tolerates the whining and crying infinitely better than I do.

Happy Father's Day to the man who sometimes comes home from work early just so he can take his son to the park.

Happy Father's Day to the man who can make Ben giggle better than anyone else.

Happy Father's Day to the man who spends hours and hours messing with Ben videos just so my grandmother can see them.

Happy Father's Day to the man who loves it when Ben falls asleep on him.


Happy Father's Day, Heath! Watching you become a father over the last 9.5 months has been one of the highlights of my life. We love you!