Friday, February 27, 2009

Third time's a charm

Yesterday it was warm enough, so Ben and I went for a walk. It was nice to be able to walk around the neighborhood again. We did it a lot in the first couple months of his life, before it got cold and during the dark times before the pediatrician would let us take him into public places. Although I wouldn't have been able to function very well in public places, anyway. As it was, the 30 minute walks around the neighborhood were like zombie death marches. I specifically remember one during which I was so exhausted I seriously considered lying down on a park bench to nap. Ben was sleeping, why couldn't I? But I had to get out of the house, even if it made me more impossibly tired than when I started.

Now three months later I'm getting more sleep and Ben can manage to stay awake during a walk, so he can actually see trees and... well, that's pretty much it, since his view is skyward. But, it's more fulfilling for both of us, I think. Yesterday I decided to head to a small playground near our house. I've put Ben in a baby swing on two separate occasions and neither time he seemed very impressed. He didn't cry, but he didn't seem un-terrified, either.

But! He loves being swung around at home so much, I was determined that he would like conventional swings. He never seems to like new seats the first couple times. He didn't like his bouncy seat or his highchair at first and now he's content in both. We put him in a restaurant highchair for the first time last weekend and he didn't like it, either. So I thought maybe he just needed some practice in the swing and he'd be fine.

Turns out I was right! I sat him in the swing, pushed him gently a couple times and I finally got a smile! Then he threw in a few laughs, just for good measure. He probably knew those laughs would be insurance to keep me from tossing him out the window the next time he throws a fit when a workman is here (ed. note: I will not do that).

It was so fun to see Ben enjoying himself at the playground. And, honestly, it was very gratifying that I was right about him liking the swing. I have to decode basically everything he wants and needs and it's not always clear if I've guessed correctly. Sometimes I feel like I don't know him at all. Then during moments like that I realize I'm the person who knows him best, so if anyone has a chance of guessing correctly, it's me. I'm glad I didn't give up on the first or second try, when he didn't seem to like the swing.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

I scream, you scream, we all scream for... MOMMY!

Ben learned a new trick and it's not a charming one.

Tuesday afternoon I had him in the bouncy seat while I vacuumed. I brought him from room to room so he could watch me, but I hadn't been paying much attention to him. I was almost finished when, over the din of the vacuum, I heard a SCREECH as though a velociraptor had just entered the room. I looked at Ben and when I did he just smiled. Then when I turned away to finish vacuuming he screeched again. Apparently this is his new way of getting my attention. So for the past couple days I've been treated to new screeches and screams of all kinds, in addition to old favorites such as:

"Don't put me down! HOW DARE YOU PUT ME DOOOOOOOWN? I realize I'm heavier than 97% of my peers, but THAT'S NO EXCUSE!"

"I don't care if the bottle's empty. I want moooooooooooore!"


"I''m not tired! I don't want to naaaaaaaaap! Oh, wait I guess I am tired... zzzzz..."

Buy stock in Tylenol.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Indeed he does

Our friends Pat and Beth have a 2.5 year old son named Colin. Recently he's been learning about the anatomical differences in boys and girls, which of course can only lead to hilarity.

A few weeks ago we were hanging out at their house and I went into the bathroom to change Ben's diaper. Colin wandered in and peeked over my shoulder. After a few seconds he exclaimed, "Ben has a penis, too!"

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Eat your heart out

About 6 weeks ago we started Ben on solid food. Solid being a relative term, in this case meaning, "has a few more chunks than formula." It's rice cereal and at first it's so watered down it's more like rice soup. But gradually we've been thickening it up and he loves it. Who could've guessed? The kid who weighed 20 pounds at 4 months old would love the chance to eat more. Within the past couple weeks I've added oatmeal to the mix and Ben is a happy camper.

I noticed the coolest thing the other day. Heath was mixing up the rice cereal and I got a bib out of the cupboard. I un-velcroed (What? It could be a word!) it and as I started to put it around Ben's neck he tilted his head forward so I could fasten it in the back. Once I was done he put his head back against the high chair. And it's not a fluke. He does it regularly now!

I'm so in awe of how Ben learns things without even being able to understand us and, most of the time, without any instruction. The next few years are going to consist of Ben learning something new and then me saying, "My baby's a genius."

Friday, February 20, 2009

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Where's a 24 hour reality show film crew when you need it?

Ben has been very "talkative" this week and yesterday the cutest thing happened. We were at our playgroup. Another one of the moms, Suzanne, and I were sitting on a couch together, with our babies facing each other. Ben was looking at John-James and he started babbling away. Then John-James started "answering" him, babbling back. They went on like that, back and forth, for at least 5 minutes. It was so adorable. Suzanne and I could not get enough and we were both sad we didn't have our video cameras to capture the cuteness.

I think they solved the financial crisis. Too bad we don't speak Baby.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

These are a few of Ben's favorite things

Things that make Ben smile (and, consequently, make me smile):
  • Fake sneezes
  • His own real sneezes
  • His Baby Elmo doll
  • Seeing Heath when he gets home from work
  • "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" sung 500 times in a row
  • Us pretending to eat his hands
  • Saying, "Yum, yum yum!" while he's eating
  • Watching us play Rock Band
  • The towel with colorful stars all over it (he practically vibrates with joy when he sees it)
  • Blowing on his tummy
  • The remote control (he thinks it's hilarious)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Benny want a cracker?

Last night Heath was playing with Ben in the living room while I was making dinner. Suddenly he yelled, "Hey! Come in here!" I ran in, preparing to act excited when he pointed out yet another famous person on Law & Order. What is it with that show? Everyone guest stars on it. But that wasn't it.

At first I was confused. Heath was making this weird noise in his throat. It sort of sounded like the way Chewbacca talks. He stopped and I expected some sort of an explanation, but then I heard Ben make the exact same noise. Heath did it again and then Ben did it again. Ben was mimicking Heath! It was the first time we'd seen him do something like that. It must've gone on for five minutes before Ben got tired of it. It was amazing and hilarious.

And thus begins years of Ben being Heath's little parrot. But, what do you expect from a man whose own father made him memorize the phrase, "Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny," at the age of 2?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Ben the bully?

This morning I was burping Ben after a bottle. He has a tendency to suck his fingers during burping, so they were all wet. Then he started thrashing around a bit, which he also tends to do. He grabbed onto my ear for support. Not only did it hurt a lot, but his wet fingers went straight into my ear.

Ben gave me a wet willy.

Bad days are only days that are bad

Wednesday was one of Those days.

It actually started off well. Ben only woke up once during the night and cried for maybe a minute before going back to sleep on his own. Then I woke up at 6:30am to the sounds of a baby laughing. I don't think there's any better way to wake up.

I changed Ben's diaper, we went downstairs and I fed him a bottle. Then we were going to head back upstairs to wake Heath when I noticed the first indications of the day ahead. There were little white cat prints in a neat line through the entire foyer and into the kitchen. At first I was confused, because the cats don't normally leave prints like that everywhere they go. Then the horror dawned on me: They only leave prints like that when they've stepped in water and then stepped in their litter box.

Which is in the basement.

I carried Ben downstairs and we discovered that the rainstorm the night before had flooded the basement. Again. At first it didn't look too bad, but upon closer inspection a little while later, it was quite a lot of water. Not the record, though. That was on my birthday, when Ben was 2 weeks old. The entire basement was covered in at least 1/4 inch of water. Happy birthday to me.

So, Heath went into work late and we started our Wednesday morning throwing out cardboard boxes and suctioning water off the basement floor. It really gets the blood pumping. The irony is that we already had someone coming that night to talk about waterproofing.

Ben and I spent the afternoon at the Galleria with the moms group, which was fun and managed to take my mind off the basement for a while. Then we came home and I knew I'd have to clean up more water, because it was raining while we were at the mall. So I spent another 30 minutes vacuuming up water, afraid I'd be electrocuted, because I couldn't manage to keep the cord for the wet/dry vac out of the pools.

I knew I was racing against the clock because the waterproofing guy was going to be here at 5pm, and in my experience salesmen like that are usually early. Then, OF COURSE, just to make the day that much more pleasant, Ben woke up only 45 minutes into his nap. At a time when he usually sleeps for an hour and a half. And he woke up extremely grumpy. I should've expected it. The boy has a sixth sense. Most of the time he's pretty content and takes his naps fairly easily. But if there's ever a time I'm counting on him to sleep or to be content, he most definitely won't be.

I tried to get him back to sleep, with no success, and then the waterproofing guy showed up. Ben was okay while I was holding him so I thought maybe he'd be merciful and lay on his playmat while I talked to the guy. What was I THINKING?! Not only did he start crying, but he started screaming like I was stabbing him to death, rather than just not touching him anymore. Luckily the guy went into the basement and about 2 seconds later Heath got home.

After some rocking and singing I thought Ben might fall asleep, but I am a foolish Mommy. So instead of having an adult conversation about the state of my home I had to entertain a grumpy 5 month old who would've normally been sleeping.

Ben was grouchy all evening and by the time he went to bed I was reduced to drinking Bacardi Silver Raz and eating raw cookie dough. It was that kind of a day. And it had started out so well. Though, yesterday started off with Ben leaning over and spitting up all over my crotch, soaking both my pants and my underwear, and it wasn't such a bad day. So you just never know.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Ben's first "solid" food

Introverts are just misunderstood

Ben is a fairly active kid. He loves it when we swing him around, lift him up high and hold him upside down. I know in a few years he's going to keep us very busy, running after him. And I have a sneaking suspicion that one day I'm going to find an 8 year old on our roof, attempting to jump into the nearest tree.

He's also very easy-going. He doesn't mind loud noises, dirty diapers don't bother him, he tolerates it when I fish stuff out of his nose and he's hard to startle. So it's always interesting when we find something that DOES bother him.

Last weekend we attended a party for my stay-at-home moms group. We all got to meet the husbands and it was great fun. However, an hour into the party there were about 20 people in a fairly small space. Apparently it was a bit too much for Ben to take, because his face crumpled up into the saddest look ever and he started crying. Not the "I'm-bored-come-play-with-me" cry or the "I-want-something-NOW" cry, but a cry so sad that it hurts my heart to think about. And it was accompanied by real tears, which are still pretty rare.

The same thing happened at my brother Nick's wedding reception a few weeks ago. Ben was fine for a while, but when we brought him out onto the dance floor all the action overloaded him. He got the same sad look on his face and started bawling.

It's interesting to me that a kid that so loves to be held and never seems to want to play alone has a problem with crowds. I thought for sure we had an extrovert on our hands, but maybe I'll gain one for my team!

Saturday, February 7, 2009


Do you hear it? The choir of angels on high? Or maybe you can see our house bathed in heavenly light.

Because at age 5 months and 5 days, Benjamin Hal finally slept through the night!!!!!!!!!! (Yes, that requires 10 exclamation points.) We didn't hear a peep out of him until 6:08am.

Last night my parents (a.k.a. Oma & Opa) watched Ben while Heath and I went to a movie. I don't know what kind of a voodoo spell they put on him, but I need that recipe! A movie and a baby who sleeps through the night?! I feel like I've won the lottery.

I am under no illusions that this will be a permanent situation. I fully expect that tonight he'll go back to his wakeful ways. But now we know he can do it. We have proof. And you know how babies always relent in the face of logic and proof.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Being geeky

Ben's playing Munchkin and his shirt says, "My other stroller is [epic]," which is a World of Warcraft reference.

I love to laugh... Ha! ha! ha! ha!

All week Ben has been practicing his laughing. For a few months now he's been going, "huh, huh, huh," which sounds like fake laughter, but which I actually think is his place holder for real laughter. And this week he's really been trying to break the "laugh barrier."

Tuesday morning he added a new dimension to his laughing. At first I actually thought he was getting sick, because he was coughing for 15 seconds at a time. But then I realized he was fake coughing and mixing it in with "huh, huh, huh." I'm not sure why he associated coughing with laughing, but I think it's here to stay.

The amazing thing to me is that I think he's realized this combination makes me laugh and now he does it on purpose. I've noticed a few times that he'll start the cough-laugh, then stop and look at me for my reaction. When he sees I'm amused he'll start up again. The boy is only 5 months old! It blows me away that he's capable of that kind of thinking.

A few days ago he was sitting in his bouncy chair and I produced his Beanie Baby dog. He loves that dog and when he saw it in my hands he broke into a huge grin and went "huh, huh, huh, cough, cough, cough" for a good 30 seconds. There was a look of pure joy on his face unmatched by anything an adult could produce. And seeing that look on his face was worth all the poop pants in the world.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Poop Pants

There is a rule in our family that once the dinner conversation degrades down to poop (which it always does, for some reason), the meal is over. Usually the timing works out well and we're all finished eating by then, but these days I could stop every meal before we start.

Monday afternoon I had a doctor's appointment and I took Ben along. We ended up having a ridiculously long wait time. At first Ben was asleep in his stroller. Then he woke up and happily had a staring contest with the toy bug hanging from the car seat handle. But after a while he got antsy, so I took him out and sat him on my lap. Finally, after everyone else in the room was gone, they called my name. I picked Ben up and had a horrible realization. One of those moments where time goes into slow motion. Not only had he pooped, but it had leaked out of his diaper onto his pants and onto my pants. Luckily I was wearing dark jeans, but the stain was such that it looked like I had wet myself.

I quickly stuffed Ben into the stroller and covered up the stain with my coat. Once in the examining room the nurse was distracted by Ben's charming smile, so I was able to position my t-shirt so it wasn't obvious. One weight and blood pressure check later she left and I went into Super Mom mode. Wipes! New diaper! Thank goodness I brought a change of clothes for him! He just laid on the examining table grinning up at the fluorescent light fixture. I managed to clean him up and change his clothes before the doctor came in. But the worst part was having to put my poop pants back on to drive home. Oh, those intangible joys of motherhood.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

I sleep like a baby... Sleep for 2 hours and then wake up and cry

A couple months ago Ben and I paid a visit to my friend Irene and her son Isaac, who just turned 1. We arrived around Issac's nap time and I witnessed something that as a new mom completely amazed me.

Let me preface this by saying that at that time Ben and I were having Nap Issues. He didn't want to take them and I had no idea how to persuade him that, yes, he really did, lest his mother melt into a puddle of sleep deprivation and spit up stained clothes.

So when Irene took Isaac upstairs for his nap I was expecting to wait a while for her return. To my surprise, she was back downstairs within 2 minutes. Even more surprising was that I didn't hear any crying. It didn't take 45 minutes of rocking and singing to get him to precariously fall asleep in her lap, only to wake up if she made any small movement. I couldn't imagine a time when that would be my life. Having Ben take actual naps during which I was free to do whatever I wanted?! It was a pipe dream up there with wishing they'd put Weird Al songs on Rock Band.

Then we started sleep training in earnest. No more sleeping in bed with us. No more bassinet in our room. No more naps on Daddy's chest or Mommy's lap.

The first night he cried for an hour before falling asleep. He did better with naps during the day, but there was still some fussing. However, gradually he caught on and now we can (almost always) put him to bed or down for a nap with a minimum of protest. He's still not sleeping through the night because of that rolling problem I mentioned, but I'm now part of Irene's club. I can put Ben down for a nap and walk away. And then the world is my oyster... At least until he wakes up.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Somewhere there's a groundhog with a price on his head

Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow.

I've never minded winter. I've always been an "indoor" type of girl. But being stuck inside the house with an infant for months on end is driving me nuts. Getting out of the house is crucial to feeling like a real person and not just a Baby Butler. But when it's so cold and the weather's bad, sometimes it doesn't feel worth the effort of bundling him up and lugging the car seat around. So for the last few weeks Ben and I have spent many a day hanging around the house. I think even he gets bored with our living room sometimes.

I am very eagerly awaiting spring. Then we can go to the zoo or the Botanical Gardens or one of the many nearby parks. Even a walk around the neighborhood is sometimes good enough to stave off boredom. I suppose I could go to museums and walk around when it's cold, but museums are usually so quiet. Nobody needs their quiet contemplation of great art interrupted by the screech of a baby objecting to an artist's interpretation of a seascape. I've opted for the mall on occasions when I just needed to get out of the house, but even that gets boring after a while, and can be dangerous for the wallet.

So the proclamation of 6 more weeks of winter did not sit well with me. Someone go hold an umbrella over that rodent so his shadow disappears.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

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

Want to know how a stay-at-home mom spends her days? For me, right now they're spent rolling an infant from his stomach to his back because lord knows he can't be bothered to do it himself.

One afternoon in December, for approximately 10 minutes Ben's entire life was all about rolling from his stomach to his back. Then, inexplicably, he stopped. He would only do it if Nancy (known aliases: Grandma, mother-in-law, best pumpkin roll maker in the world) was present. Then he wouldn't do it at all. It was as if it never happened.

Out of the blue in early January he rolled from his back to his stomach. And unlike rolling the other way, this one caught on. Now we can hardly keep him off his stomach. Lying on your back is sooo 2008.

However, this can get annoying because after a while he gets sick of being on his stomach, but he will not roll to his back. He just cannot be bothered to manipulate his own body that way. I can always tell when he's had enough. He starts out by grunting, as if his head is too heavy and it takes great effort just to hold it up. Then he starts to fuss, which I'm sure means, "Can you not see that I'm finished with this position? Turn me over post-haste or there shall be dire consequences." Finally the crying begins. Sometimes I let him cry for a bit, thinking that maybe in his frustration he'll remember his long lost love affair with rolling from stomach to back. So far it hasn't happened.

So I spend my days rolling him onto his back, only to have him immediately roll to his stomach. Then he starts to cry again. WHY DOES HE DO THAT??

Not only does he do this all day long, he also does it at night. At his 4 month checkup the doctor said he didn't need a bottle at night anymore. Hallelujah! Let the sleep training begin! It was hard at first, but he was getting SO close to sleeping through the night I could taste it. Visions of being well-rested and not being permanently bleary-eyed danced in my head. Then this rolling thing began. Now he wakes up 5 or 6 times a night crying because he rolled onto his stomach in his sleep. Only for Mommy, though. No, when Daddy takes over night duty on Friday Ben sleeps beautifully and only wakes up once or twice. Maybe he just wants to see me more. Yeah, that's what I'll tell myself.