Monday, March 30, 2009

What's in a name?

This weekend we moved around a lot of furniture in an attempt to baby-proof the house. I have a feeling it's an ultimately futile gesture, as Ben will probably find the one thing we didn't think of and topple it onto his head, but c'est la vie.

This included getting rid of an old bookcase from our room and transferring the books onto two smaller bookcases in the guest room, which I did this morning. One of those books was one I got when I was probably 12. It's called What's Your Name? A guide to first names and what they mean. I got it to use as a generator for character names in my stories and I noticed that I'd gone through and highlighted all the names I liked. Just out of curiosity I turned to the section of boy's names starting with B. To my surprise, I had highlighted "Benjamin."

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Teething sucks

The subject says it all. It's been a tough week in our house. Ben got his two bottom teeth a week ago. I don't know if his top two are coming in now or what, but he's been sleeping badly and yelping in his sleep and the crabbiness has increased significantly. I have no idea why the top two would be so much worse, because the bottom two weren't that bad.

Poor Uncle Ian and Aunt Bekah had to bear the brunt of it last night. They baby-sat while we went to trivia and apparently Ben was screaming a good deal of the night. Even while eating, which is unusual.

Of course, the great fear is that it's not related to teething and it's something else entirely. I feel so bad that he's in pain and can't tell me what's wrong. I might have to make a worried new mother call to the doctor tomorrow.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Double Trouble

Wednesday night I watched Colin while Beth, Pat and Heath were at hurling practice. We've babysat Colin many times, but this was the first time I had two kids by myself. Since Colin's almost three and pretty independent, it was fairly easy. For example, when I asked him to take off his shoes before he got onto the couch he said, "Oh! Yes," as if he was remiss in not thinking of it himself. He was content wandering around Ben's room while I cleaned up Ben's poop explosion and even though he said he wasn't hungry for dinner and wanted to go outside, when I asked him to sit with me while I ate, he ended up eating most of his spaghetti.

There was one moment that had me worried, though. We'd already eaten dinner and then played outside. It was getting dark and cold, so we came back inside to "watch something," as Colin put it. I put disc one of The Weird Al Show into the PS3 because it's about the kid-friendliest thing we own, plus it's AWESOME. In order to do that, I had to take out the Rock Band 2 disc that was already in there. Then I made the mistake of telling Colin the truth when he asked what it was. We often play Rock Band when Colin's around and he loves it. So of course he wanted to play. But it was getting to be time to feed Ben and I didn't feel like moving all the toys to set up the drums, so I said no. This set off a bought of whining. And I don't know if it was because Ben spent all evening watching Colin in awe, or just because he was getting hungry, but Ben started whining at that point, too. I couldn't help but just sit back for a second, smile to myself and think, "This is my future."

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Conversations with a baby - Part 1

Scene: Ben and I are sitting on the living room floor. All around us are scattered the victims of Ben's less than gentle playing. Currently he is gnawing on the nose of a stuffed dog.

Me: Is the doggy delicious?

Ben: *gnaw gnaw gnaw* Awowwowwowaaaaa.

Me: Oh, really? What does the doggy taste like?

Ben: Arrwowoooo.

Me: You say it tastes like chicken? That's odd since you've never tasted chicken. It must be universal.

Aaaaaaaaaaand... scene!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Kiss Army

Ben has started a new thing which at once is both cute and painful. I'll pick him up and then he'll kiss me. But he doesn't know how to properly kiss yet, so basically he just licks my cheek or chin. When I realized he wasn't just doing it because he was hungry and had become a zombie baby who was trying to eat my face off, I was very touched. "My baby boy wants to kiss me!!!" Cue the warming of my heart.

However (isn't there always a "however"?), to get leverage for this "kiss," and to bring his face close to mine, he has to grab something. And the only things within grabbing distance are things on my body. I never realized how much loose skin I have on my neck or how very much it can hurt when tiny fingers dig into my scalp and pull my hair.

And now that he has teeth, there's a whole new dimension to the kiss. Not only do I get a face full of slobber, but I also get very tiny, but very sharp points in my chin. Still, baby kiss!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Aha moment

Six months in, I think I've adjusted to motherhood pretty well. But every so often I get hit with a realization about it that just stops me in my tracks. The other day I had the thought, "I am someone's mother."

And right about now YOU'RE thinking, "Yeah, no kidding. Are you hitting the Valium already, Katie?"

But it's not just about giving birth and caring for a baby... It's about all the things attached to the idea of "mother." All the stuff people blame on their mothers, or credit to their mothers. All the stories they tell about how their mothers affected them or warped them or ruined them. It's mind boggling that now I am that person to someone.

I think I was a pretty good kid. I always got up on time, I did my homework without being badgered and for the most part I followed the rules. Even so, I realize now there were things I did and said to my mother that were awful and ungrateful. The thought of Ben doing or saying those things to me, after all I've done and will do for him, breaks my heart. Then I feel even worse because I've probably broken my own mother's heart.

I suppose that's just something you have to live with as a mother, knowing that your kids won't "get it" until they have kids of their own. By then you're probably over it and you can gain satisfaction by wallowing in their guilt and spoiling their children.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Chomp, chomp

Last night we discovered Ben has a tooth! Heath was in the kitchen feeding Ben rice cereal when he yelled, "Come in here!"

"Why?" I asked.

"Just come in here!"

So I walked in there and he told me to look at Ben's gums. And there it was, a tiny bit of white sticking out of the pink. We were both excited, so we kissed Ben and congratulated him on his great achievement. He seemed unimpressed and more concerned with why Heath wasn't feeding him anymore.

Then this morning I noticed that he actually has not one, but TWO teeth coming in on the bottom. My little boy can grow teeth! I'm so proud!

Giggling Ben

Remember a few weeks ago when we took Ben to the playground? Here's the video I shot of Ben giggling. If you have a heart condition you may want to take precautions because this is quite possibly the cutest thing EVER.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

You have to be able to sit before you can sit on the Supreme Court

Doing Yoga

Mugging for the camera

I can sit on many surfaces - even dead grass!

Just chillin' and droolin'

Must... consume... all... toys...

Monday, March 16, 2009

The cutest picture of Ben to date

A quick note about comments

Anyone can comment on this blog. You don't have to open a Blogger account. At the bottom of each entry is a link that says "0 comments" and if you click it, it takes you to a comment box. You can choose to post a comment just with your name or even anonymously. Though I'd prefer everyone at least use their name. :)

Also, for some reason Blogger doesn't have a feature that allows me to easily respond to comments. Or they do and I haven't figured it out yet. Either way, that's why I haven't responded to any of the comments I've received thus far. I may try commenting on entries the way readers do to see if other commenters get a response.

That is all.

Sick in the Head - Part 2

We're now on Day 6 of the Borders sickness. Ben got it last Wednesday, I succumbed on Thursday and Heath held out until Sunday. Fortunately, it seems Ben got the mildest version. He's been coughing and sneezing and his nose is totally congested, but he's been in good spirits. Taking naps has been a bit of an issue, I assume because of the congestion, but he hasn't been any grumpier than usual. I feel so bad for him, though, not knowing what's happening. He has scratches all over his nose and I think it's because he's trying to rip it off so he can breath. And I hate to take his pacifier away at a time like this, since it provides comfort, but every so often he spits it out and then takes huge gasping breaths. Everything I've read says colds usually last 7-10 days in infants, so hopefully he'll start to improve this week.

Thursday, Friday and Saturday sucked. Saturday wasn't as bad, because I had Heath to pick up the slack, but taking care of Ben all day when I was sick was torture. Especially since he was only taking 30 minute naps. I would lay down to rest and just as I finally began to drift off he'd wake up. There were several times I felt so awful I almost burst into tears, but I knew that would only make my headache worse. I should've asked Heath to say home from work, I know, but it's one of those hindsight things. I never realize how bad I felt until I feel better again. Which I do, for the most part. My nose is still stuffy and I have a bit of a cough, but I'm at about 90%.

Heath is sleeping it off right now, staying home from work. I guess this is how it's going to be from now on. Sickness will rip through this household like... something really easy to rip. I just hope it'll continue to stagger, so Heath and I can pick up the pieces when the other topples over from exhaustion.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Sick in the head

Ben woke up this morning with his first cold. He was coughing and had a river of snot flowing out of his nose. It's only 8:40am and I've already been slimed multiple times.

Being an unsure, new mother of course the first thing I did was consult The Bible - What to Expect the First Year. In it I found the advice you'd expect for treating a cold (use a humidifier to relieve congestion, increase fluids, elevate the baby's head to sleep, etc.) and also an interesting drawing. In it was a serene mother holding a serene baby in her arms. The mother alternately gave the baby saline nose drops and then used an aspirator to suction the mucus. "Okay," I thought, "I can do that." We don't have any saline nose drops, but we do have an aspirator they gave us at the hospital and Ben has ample mucus to suction.

Well, that picture is a lying piece of crap. Perhaps the mother drugged her baby, because that's the only way he'd be serene. A sober baby doesn't take too kindly to having a piece of plastic shoved up his nose. Picture flailing limbs and an attempt to roll off the changing table, followed by some hearty crying. Finally Heath had to assist by holding Ben's head in place. It was like a scene from A Clockwork Orange. I'd like to see a drawing of THAT in What to Expect the First Year.

When I was finally able to get the aspirator into his nose, the dumb thing didn't even work. I suctioned, but nothing came out. And believe me, there was stuff to come out. I tried several times but was ultimately unsuccessful. Maybe I should get the serene mother to come over and do it.

Monday, March 9, 2009

It's all about the sump pumps, baby!

Remember that day about a month ago which included a very irate baby and a flooded basement? Well, I'm sure we'll have an irate baby again, but we won't have a flooded basement again! Last week we had our basement waterproofed. Though hearing them jack hammer the concrete wasn't too pleasant, they got it done in one day, instead of the projected two, and now we have a drainage system and a sump pump!! Isn't it strange the things that make you use multiple exclamation points when you're an adult? It used to be cute boys, now it's sump pumps.

This morning electricians came and gave us a new outlet in the basement for the sump pump and a couple extras just for fun. Which means that we are done having workmen in the house for a while! Yea! It also means we just have to wait for the new concrete to set and then we can put everything back in the basement and really get to organizing it. It'll be so nice to actually be able to use the basement as a storage space and not worry about everything being destroyed.

Now we just need to get to the other 3,847 things we want to do and the house will be perfect.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

He's no Nirvana baby

The other day Ben inadvertently had his first underwater experience. I'd intended that he'd first go underwater at our baby swimming classes in a few weeks, but as they say, the best laid plans...

Bathing Ben is starting to get annoying, because he's obviously outgrown his baby tub, but is nowhere near ready for the bathtub. The end result is that I and a 5 foot radius around the sink get soaked every bath time. During his bath on Monday I gave him a rubber duckie to play with, which I thought might distract him and lead to less splashing, but oh, how wrong I was.

Also on Monday I finally tackled Ben's cradle cap. He's had cradle cap (which, for those not hip to the lingo, is basically baby dandruff) almost since he was born. For some reason I've been lazy and the only thing I've done to alleviate it is try to scrape some off during his baths, but that didn't work too well. I finally searched the all-knowing, all-seeing internet and one of the easiest solutions I found was to rub baby oil on his head, let it sit for a few minutes and then use a comb to brush it away. Which is exactly what I did, but I used a little too much oil. I know that because 45 minutes later his hair still looked wet, when normally the wisps take approximately 4.5 seconds to dry.

I really didn't want to give him another bath, because I'd already taken my shower and I didn't feel like braving the tsunami. But we were going to a wedding the next day and Ben looked like a greasy used car salesman. So, I quickly went through the five stages of grief and when I hit acceptance I got Ben ready for his second bath of the day. However, since I was feeling lazy (this seems to be a theme), I decided not to use the baby tub. I decided to use the sink (dun, dun, DUUUUUUUN).

I'd tried to give Ben a sink bath about a month ago when the baby tub started getting ridiculous, but it was a total disaster. He couldn't hold himself up enough and the sink was too wet to prop him, so I had to hold him the entire time. Cue my aching back. However! In the last month Ben has improved about 1000% in his sitting, so I figured it might work this time.

I readied the sink and then I readied the boy. I slowly lowered him into the lukewarm water and put butt to porcelain. Then I let go. Success! He was able to hold himself up! So I gave him the duckie and the splashing commenced. Then I turned around to grab the shampoo. If my life were a horror movie, that would've been the moment the ominous music started and people yelled, "No!! Don't do it!!" For that is when Ben's fervor to grab the duckie just out of reach caused his butt to slip and for him to slide completely under the water. Luckily I hadn't stepped away, only turned around, so I was able to grab him within a second. Of course he completely flipped out, but he was fine. I calmed him down and then put him back in the sink, just so he wouldn't be totally scarred for life on sink baths. I held him the entire time, though. Sink: 2, Katie: 0. The up side of all this is that the baby oil totally worked. The cradle cap is gone!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Swing music

Last night Heath got home from work early and since it was a gorgeous day (we're talkin' shorts and open windows), we took Ben to the playground. As soon as we got there Heath plopped him down in the baby swing and they had the cutest moment. Heath sat on the ground so his head was about level with Ben. Then he started pushing and when Ben swung near his head, Heath would say, "Aw!" and fall onto his back, as if Ben had knocked him over. Ben thought this was hilarious, so Heath did it for a good 5 minutes. Swing, topple, giggle. Swing, topple, giggle. And I captured it all on video. Yes, we were the dorky parents who brought the video camera to the playground. But you'll be glad once I upload the video of giggling Ben.

Friday, March 6, 2009

I'm doctor monkey

Yesterday Ben had his 6 month check up. Here are his current stats:

Head circumference: 46.5 centimeters
Height: 28.25 inches
Weight: 23.4 pounds

He's in the 97th percentile for all three measurements. His growth chart is consistent, though, so we just have a big boy on our hands. A big boy who probably won't fit into many hats, come his teenage years. Let's hope he doesn't have a beret phase. It'll be disappointing. On many levels.

The doctor said Ben looks "perfect." He also said he's "really cute" and seeing Ben "made his day." Considering that the guy probably sees several infants a day, he's laying it on a little thick. But he manages to say it in such a sincere, convincing way that I almost believe him. Either way, he says Ben's healthy and developing well, so that's all I care about.

Ben was wonderful at the doctor's office. He was happy and he didn't mind when the doctor examined him. The shots pissed him off a little bit (understandably), but he only cried for a few seconds and then he was fine. Considering that we heard other infants screaming bloody murder while we waited, maybe seeing Ben did make the doctor's day.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The more things change, the more they stay the same

When I was a kid we went up to Minnesota and Wisconsin a lot, to visit family. One of the things my brothers and I dreaded was driving through Madison, WI. My parents went to the university there, so every time we visited we were treated to a narrated tour featuring all their Significant Spots. This was where they worked, that was where they lived after they got married. Oh! That pizza shop used to be a bar! As my parents re-lived their youth we kids whined from the backseat, "This is boooooooooring."

Yesterday, on our way home from Kansas City we stopped in Columbia, MO to visit Ben's Uncle Todd and his girlfriend Jessie. As we drove through town to their apartment I heard from the backseat, "Ben, there's Engineering West! Daddy spent a lot of time there in college. And there's where we saw Lighting Man*!" I had to laugh, because it was an exact replica of my own childhood. Ben's not yet old enough to protest in words, but I'm sure his fussing meant, "This is boooooooooring."

*A mythic figure in Heath and his roommates' college lives.

Monday, March 2, 2009

They say it's your (half) birthday

Ben is 6 months old today. I look at him now and I can't believe how much he's changed since he was born. Six months ago he was this tiny, completely helpless creature who had no idea what was going on. Now he's gigantic and I have this feeling he knows exactly what's going on but he's just playing dumb to lull us into a false sense of security. It's been absolutely amazing to watch him grow and learn. I feel privileged that I get to be around for years and continue watching.

I've changed, too, in the last six months. When Ben was born it was as if a bomb went off in my life and the blocks that I'd been carefully stacking for almost 28 years - family, friends, interests, work, fun - were blown to smithereens. Only one block remained and that was taking care of him. For months that was the only block I saw and the only one that mattered. Then, slowly, slowly, slowly, as I gained more confidence in caring for him, I began to stack blocks again. They're not all the same and they're not in the same order as they were, but I'm rebuilding my life and myself. I'm still not completely sure who I'm becoming, but I'm more comfortable with the idea that I'm not exactly the same person I was.

The last six months have been the craziest of my life. I can't say I don't remember what life was like without Ben, because that's not true. I do remember sleeping in on the weekends, going to movies on the spur of the moment, grocery shopping without it being a huge hassle, eating meals without having to simultaneously jiggle a toy bug in front of someone's face. Honestly, I miss those things. But for the first time I'm beginning to think it's all going to be worth it.

Happy half birthday, Benny. I love you!