Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Mommy Days

Most days are a pretty standard routine:

I work.  James plays with Daddy.  I finish work and we all eat.  Then James plays with Mommy.

Lately, that hasn't been enough.

I think it's amazing the things that toddlers and babies seem to know without having to be taught.  Sucking is a prime example.  I never had to show James how to eat spaghetti, but he will slurp up noodles without blinking.

Shaking his head when he is done with something.  Not just eating, when he is done playing as well.  He will shake his head and walk away.

Lifting his arms when he wants me to pick him up.  Which is hourly.  All day long.  While I am working.

It's been a challenge.  He isn't wanting to grab things on my desk, he just wants to sit on my lap and be held and snuggled.

How do I say no to that?

So, we are adapting.  I'm trying to work smarter throughout the day so I can take much needed breaks.  I hug him and tickle him and talk to him.  He just wants to sit on my lap, babbling away, while playing with his iPhone.

The best part?

If I ask for snuggles, I get the best hugs and he lets me squish him back. 

If I ask for kisses and give him my cheek there is no hesitation.  And some times he gives me his cheek while grinning, know he is going to get kisses from me.

I am so exhausted by the end of the day.  Between working for my paycheck and helping A out with a fussy man who really only wants his mommy, by the James falls asleep I am a zombie.

But it's worth it.  Those days when the 3 of us are on the couch together, and he is just happy to be sprawled over us, his head in my lap with his feet on A's legs.  Those are why I do this.

Now if you'll excuse me, we have grocery shopping to do.  Without James this time because he is with his great grandparents.

Which means that when I pick him up later I will get another magnificent hug and kisses because he missed me.

I'm his mommy.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Tech Savvy Toddler

James has inherited a 1st generation iPhone that was mine once upon a time.

This was done in order to get him to leave mine alone.  He had started wearing down my battery, and I really was worried it would end up under a large appliance in the kitchen.

In the 3 months he has had his device, there wasn't much interest in it until about 3 weeks ago.  Something clicked that he could have it, and now that he was walking, he looked like me.  Wandering the kitchen and dining room with it in one hand, checking it regularly.

Then this last weekend we realized he actually had figured it out.  He was using the device and not just swiping randomly.

You have to admit, considering he caught this from watching us and playing with it on his own, and not from anyone showing him what to do, he is managing pretty well.

Friday, July 27, 2012

His Latest Thing

Earlier this week, we noticed James was doing something with his tongue.

He would flick it in and out of his mouth really fast.  He was also running it along the roof of his mouth and his teeth.  When he caught us watching, the resulting giggles were too much.

Tuesday, he and daddy showed me his latest trick.  They had worked on James opening his mouth to say "aaaaaaaahhhhh" while A placed his hand in front of James' mouth and began covering and uncovering it to break up the noise.  Again, James thought this was completely hilarious, and the new noise had him smiling.

Wednesday and Thursday he learned more noise could be made.

James was now opening his mouth and wiggling his tongue back and forth while making a "la" sound.  Of course, being the parents we are, we copied him, and that just made it the greatest thing to do.

Apparently, these new noises and discovery of his tongue has him ecstatic.  He walks around making that noise, often with his eyes closed, and laughing when we do the same.

This morning came the crowning moment.

We have a poster in a frame hung at a level where he is facing it dead center.  He's been good about not doing anything to it, and so it was a shock to turn my chair around and see him licking it.

I have to be more specific.

He had his tongue out, started at one end of the poster's framed front, and would place his tongue against the plastic front and then walk sideways while dragging his tongue across the front.

And yes, it was just his tongue.  I could see from my angle that he was keeping his lips and face off, and only his tongue was making contact.

As I laughed and told A to turn around and look, James turned the corner and proceeded to do that across the front of the dishwasher as well.

I lost it completely.

James is proving to be an interesting child with his own way of learning things, that's for sure!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Family and Forgiveness

I'm back with another book review/recommendation: The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns by Margaret Dilloway.

I've mentioned before that I love the BlogHer Book Club so much because of the different books I am getting to discover.  I may never have even looked twice at the title, but now it's become one that I plan to keep permanently on the book shelf in our room.

The story is so well told, coming from the point of view of our main character, and letting us peek into her life.  When she suddenly has someone dropped into her life, she has to basically start living, something she hasn't really done.  She learns that love and friendship is a two way street, and that other people have a different perception of her that she has to deal with.

Overall, it moves along at a great pace, gives you more info on the characters as needed, and just kept you hoping that everything would turn out well for everyone.

Please pick up a copy when it becomes available.  You won't regret the time reading The Care and Handling of Roses with Thorns, I promise!

If you like to learn more about the book and author, take the time to visit the BlogHer Book Club and join the conversation there!

This is a sponsored review for the BlogHer Book Club. While compensation will be forthcoming for taking the time to write about the book, the opinions stated are all mine and mine alone.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Nature Boy

James has come to enjoy walking outside.

With the heat, we tend to not go out as often as I would really like, but when we get home from errands in the evening I do make it a point to let him walk outside.

I need to be honest: he doesn't own any shoes or socks.

There, I said it.

He outgrew everything that we had, and when we started looking to replace them, we realized that we'd have to go through this whole process again in 4 months when Summer left us.  So, rather than spend money we don't have now, we are saving in order to get him a good pair of shoes and socks that won't bunch up on those chubby legs.  He spends most of his time inside, and errands have him in a stroller or shopping cart.

When James is placed on the ground to walk, it is barefoot.  I'm not talking about putting him out in the hot street, only on the sidewalk, and only after I make sure it's shaded and not hot.

He will walk a little, watch ants walk past, and then stare at the grass.

Like most toddlers, a new surface is not something to jump on to.  He is wary of this grass stuff when it's under his little feet.  He has no problems sitting on the sidewalk next to it and pulling it out, but just don't stand him on it.

What the grass seems to cause him issues with is the fact that there are leaves there.  Leaves that he loves to pick up and twirl when on the sidewalk, but not walk on the grass to get.

Each night, I've wandered on the lawn, picking a couple of large leaves for him, and bringing them back.  He loves to sit and just drop them, twirl them, and will bounce with joy each time.  I don't think I've ever seen someone so excited to watch a leaf he just dropped from his hand land on the floor.

He brings new leaves in each time, and he will spend the evening hiding them and finding them.  Picking them up and dropping them.

He makes this happy grunt and bounces, waving those arms, with this huge grin on his face, excited to have these new things to carry around.

All his toys are not nearly as interesting as these leaves.

I cannot wait for Autumn.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Mommy Monday

Well, it's the last envelope today.

And somehow, it managed to be my mom's.

"Log on to messenger and just ask!"

Knowing she is there when I need her, no matter the time of day, even before opening this card, is the best feeling.

Friday, July 20, 2012

My Son, The Gourmet Eater

Okay, maybe not really.

Let me explain.

I've officially tried all the Stage 3 Gerber meals with him.  He just will not eat their chicken, turkey, or beef dinners.  We get about 3 spoons of food into him and he begins to gag and choke.

He has thrown up once.

At first I thought it was the bits of veggies and noodles.  They are tiny, but maybe it was too much.

Over the last 2 weeks that theory has gone out the door.

First it was bologna.  Then we bought all beef, nitrate free, hot dogs.

He INHALES those without any qualms at all.  I think he is chewing, but can't be 100% on that one.  All I know is that he eats and eventually shakes his head at us when he is done.

By the way, is that an instinct?  The shaking of the head?  Because we don't do that, at least not that I can recall.  And all of a sudden, there he is, shaking his head and closing his mouth and eyes.  It means he is done, and 2 minutes later he has walked off to play.

This week alone, he ate about 1/3 of a frozen meal of mine at lunch.  It was breaded fish, and he LOVED it.  He actually preferred it to the macaroni and cheese that was on the side.

Wednesday night, I made spaghetti for us.  He was at my knee, wanting to taste what was on my plate.  So I rolled up a couple of noodles on my fork and let him have at it.

Is that another instinct?  The slurping of noodles?  Because he proved he could get anything hanging out of his mouth into his mouth by sucking and slurping.  He did it so well on that first bite that I moved him to his high chair and commenced to give him spaghetti.

Last night, I made a box of macaroni and cheese just for him.  We ate our dinner, which he tried as well, and then a small bowl of his pasta.  The rest is in the fridge, and will be eaten later for lunch.

This is all on top of the French toast and pancakes he is eating after his oatmeal in the morning.

James apparently just wants more flavor.  And real food.

The only frustrating part of all this?

He still WILL NOT put anything in his mouth.

This comes in handy when he is carrying a leaf or pebble that he has found outside and insisted on carrying in.  Or when he is in the kitchen and finds onion peel and decides it's a prized treasure.  We don't have to worry about him swallowing those things, and it is one less stress.

But when I'd like to eat my dinner while he eats his on his own, it's frustrating.

Also on the frustrating list?

He won't drink.  As in, I have to pin him down on my lap, force a bottle in his mouth, and hold him there to drink.  This isn't just milk, it's juice and water as well.  I know he isn't dehydrating himself, we make sure he is peeing regularly, but there has to be an easier way.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

My Favorite Moment of ComicCon 2012

We've always talked about visiting San Diego in July and getting lost in the sea of nerdy goodness.

But then we see pictures of the crowds and think it's better to watch from the other side of the country.  It's just too much, you know?

This year, I learned about what Zachary Levi has been doing every year.  It's called Nerd HQ.  By getting his friends together for panels and things, he raises money for charity.

What I didn't know is that all of it is for Operation Smile.

As the mother of someone born with a cleft lip and palate, this charity speaks to me from the heart.  We were blessed to be in a place where James benefited from good medical care and will never have to worry about dealing with some of the bigger problems from it.  But there are children around the world who don't have that luxury.

This year, apparently there was an auction where Mr. Levi was taking $100 donations for a kiss on the cheek.  A woman apparently donated $1,000, and so she got a special kiss.

And then he was ambushed with 2 of my favorite stars from Firefly:

I dont' know how else to describe this video other than completely awesome.

I've watched it a dozen times, and it just doesn't stop cracking me up.  And I love that, in the end, it's helping children.  These guys are just amazing.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Best Greeting Ever

Normally on the weekends, I will go out and pick up some bad breakfast foods from either Hardees (if you are on the West Coast, it's Carls Jr.) or McDonald's.

Lately, the trick has been to slide out the door without James noticing.

He hears that front door open, and he comes from anywhere to see who is here.  The other day we had sandwiches delivered from Jimmy Johns and he sat there staring at the delivery guy.  When I turned to write in the tip and sign the receipt, he closed the door on him.

He did the same to the neighbor who came by to watch him walk, too.  Apparently, he'll go to the doorway, but you aren't allowed in.  And when he's done, he's learned to close the door.

So, Saturday morning I snuck out while he was playing with A and made the trip to pick up food.  I was gone a whole 20 minutes, and slowly opened the front door to make sure I didn't bump him.

No worry there.  He was on the other end of the living room, but when he heard that door he whipped his head around.

The moment he saw me, he grinned and started to scream like he does when he is excited and playing.

As I slid in and closed the door behind me, James walked right over to me, still screaming and grinning, and put his arms around my legs.

I told A that I wanted to go out and run another errand just to get that greeting again.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Mommy Monday

Well, we're down to the final 2 envelopes.  After next week, no more of these to read on Mondays.

I may have to think of something else to do!

Today's words of wisdom come from another of A's aunts.  She has 3 kids of her own, and has helped raise 2 grandchildren, and none of them cross her.

It's interesting to watch, that's for sure.

"Just take a deep breath.  You will know what he needs.  Either a diaper change, bottle, or just hold him.  When all that doesn't help - call Grandma!"

I love the cards that remind me that I would know what he needed.  I did.  And he is happy little monster!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Those Rare Nights Are What Kill Me

I know regular readers are tired of hearing this, but we really were blessed with a good sleeper.

We have officially gotten him on a schedule.  He is up between 7 and 8 each morning.  Nap is at noon.  He sleeps anywhere from 2 to 3 hours, depending on his needs.  Then bedtime is at 9 each night.  We don't wake him for anything, much to the frustration of people who try to plan things in the afternoon.  The family knows his schedule, and we've made a point to let them know (repeatedly) that if it's really important for us to be there to please schedule things a little later.

That mess is a whole 'nother post.


There is still crying/fussing when he is first put down.  It's more being mad that play time is over, and you can tell he is exhausted by the sound.  I think 1 night last month we noticed the cry was different, so we scooped him up and let him play an extra 30 minutes, and then he crashed quickly.  It was just not the time apparently.

We've also had minimal issues when it comes to teething.  We knew when the first 2 teeth pushed through, mainly due to the teething rash, but the other 2 were just suddenly there.

These next teeth are being stubborn.  We've had some days of fever and crabbiness, and even extended naps that had me huddled by the baby monitor to see if I could tell if he was breathing without going into the room and disturbing him.

Then there was 2 nights ago.

Lord, let there be no more nights like that in the near future.

He was asleep by 9:15, but 3 hours later he woke us up from a dead sleep with a cry that sounded like he was being stabbed.

I ran in and picked him up.  That calmed him, so we sat in the rocker/glider, where I drifted in and out of sleep with James doing the same.  At one point, I realized he was asleep, and moved him to his crib.  He whimpered, so I tiptoed out and closed his door.

And the crying began again.

I looked at the clock and realized I'd been in there for about 45 minutes, so I decided to give him about 15 minutes to soothe himself back to sleep.

By 1:30 in the morning, he had been given Tylenol by daddy, and moved to our bed.  He was sleepy, you could tell, but he wanted to sit up and look at the blinds and street light outside.  After about 30 minutes of just watching him, seeing him lean on me and look like he was falling asleep, then standing IN THE BED to go and touch the blinds, I managed to get him in to a position where I was spooning him.  He had a death grip on my arms as they wrapped around him, and that is how we slept for what I think was about 90 minutes.  Maybe 2 hours.

Then he woke up, and it was another mini-wrestling match to get in another position where he could lay flat on the bed, holding my hand, while I laid on my side watching him.

Next thing I know, it's 5:25 AM and I am feeling him twisting.

He couldn't get comfortable, I couldn't get comfortable, and he was moving with his eyes closed in the space between A and myself.

People, I thank heaven every day that we bought a king size bed when we did 2 years ago.

It was time to move James to his crib, and after 5 minutes of crying from a mixture of exhaustion and missing mommy, he was out.

I slept 3 hours, waking up to A reminding me I had to work, and feeling really happy about the fact that my commute was down the hallway.

James slept until after 9.  Then he went down for his nap at 1 and slept another 3 hours.

Which meant he went to bed at 10 last night, and I was in bed before he was completely out.

I hate teething.  With a passion.  Why can't we fast forward through those parts?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Knowing Who You Are

This month's book selection, The Chaperone by Laura Moriarity, was another one that I couldn't put down.

The development of the charachters, the story, and just the writing had me hooked almost from the beginning.  I loved the way that Cora, our main charachter and a true heroine in her own way, embarks on a journey, and even when it isn't what she had hoped for, still manages to come away with a strong sense of self that just continues to grow.  She is an amazing woman, and at the end I was sitting in tears, happy for the way the story left me feeling.

Another thing it has done is made me look at a silent film actress I'd never hear of.  She is a part of the story for Cora, and the author does an amazing job of taking pieces of her actual real life and weaving it in with the story she has created.

Please try reading this story.  Set in a time when things were so different, it just was amazing in a way that The Help was for me earlier this year.  You will not be disappointed in The Chaperone, please believe me.

For more information on the book and author, you should visit the BlogHer page about the latest selection.  There is more info here as well!

This is a sponsored review for the BlogHer Book Club. While compensation will be forthcoming for taking the time to write about the book, the opinions stated are all mine and mine alone.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Mostly Wordless Wednesday: The Longest 12 Seconds Ever

Can you believe he is doing this already?  And this was last week.  Since then he just prefers to walk whenever he gets a chance.

If you're like me, not only are there a ton of videos of your little one, but pictures as well.  I am slowing down a little, but not as much as I think my husband would like.

Are you a shutterbug?  You should check out my post here about a contest from Shutterfly!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Apparently He Wanted More

James is officially on his way to be being a real, honest to goodness, fast on his feet, toddler.

What started as a few steps here and there has progressed to walking across the living room and into the kitchen with no falling or fumbling.  He just moves along.

There are still occasionally moments where he would prefer to have you with him.  He will stand up at the couch, hands on my knees, and then reach out for a finger.  Then he turns, and starts to step away, still holding the finger, and pulling.  We are getting quick to stand with him, and he will lead us around to where he wants to be.

Last week, we were all in the living room, playing on the floor and laughing.  It's become my favorite time, the evenings when we've all eaten, and James is content to have us at his full disposal.

After about 30 minutes, his attention went from us to his toys.  When it became obvious that he wasn't coming back, A went to the other room to check his email, and I sat up on the couch to watch James do his thing.

He kept playing for about 5 minutes and then looked around.  I watched him observe his surroundings, being able to see A in one room and me near him.

That's when he crawled over and did something that we couldn't believe.

As mentioned above, he took my finger and walked me off the couch.  I was lead to the next room, and he stopped when we were both standing in front of A at his desk.  James made a grunt, then let go of me and sat at our feet.  He just looked up at us and smiled.

It's the clearest indication I have ever seen of someone so small wanting more family time.  He just sat there, bouncing on his butt, waiting for us.

So we picked him up and went back to the living room floor to play some more.

I love this kid.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Mommy Monday

It really has been another crazy 4 weeks here.  When I realized it was Monday, I thought I'd pull out a card and see what the advice was.  Then I looked at the calendar.

Yeah, it's been 4 weeks.

So here we go!

The first is just great:

"I have no advice.  I have no kids.  But you are not alone and I love you.  Even though I'm far away, call me RIGHT NOW!  I will make you laugh :) "

That right there is my cousin.  I've thought of her as another sister over the years, and we are always there for one another.  I love her.

Next up is another cute card.

The youngest guest at the baby shower was the daughter of my husband's cousin's girlfriend.  (Bueller?  Bueller?)  Even at such a young age her advice is still sound:

"Give him a bottle and rock him."

She's going to make a great babysitter someday!

My SIL, who said she is never going to change a diaper, EVER, gave me this:

"Call me anytime you need a break.  I'll be right over - maybe I can even bring a milkshake!"

She knows my weaknesses!

And finally something from one of my husband's aunts.  She is really one of my favorite people, very straightforward, and not afraid to voice her opinion:

"Follow your own instincts and don't let others "boss" you around.  You'll know what he needs and you are equipped to give it to him! L - O - V - E!"

Told you she was one of my favorite people!!!

Friday, July 6, 2012

I Guess Oscar Mayer DOES Have A Way!

After asking for suggestions here and a couple of other places for ways to get James to eat meats, I sat and decided to figure out alternatives.

I think the most frustrating thing for me is that we had to be so careful about him putting things in his mouth and those things winding up in his cleft that we may have been TOO careful.

While he does pick things up with his fingers, and I have seen him put puff cereal in his mouth twice, he still doesn't want to do it regularly. I know he won't starve if we were to sit him in his high chair and work on it, but it's frustrating. He is a strong little booger, and he gets so mad when you try to get him to do things he doesn't want.

Trust me, you don't want to see him when he gets mad.

Even with walking, he is doing it himself.  If you go stand him, he drops to his butt, crawls away, then stands up by himself in the middle of the living room.  He may only walk 2 steps before losing balance at that point, but he did it himself and apparently that's what he wants.

His thing is to come looking for what I am eating.  Most times, if it's from my plate and I give him a taste, he will eat and ask for more.  This does not work with chicken, only worked with meatloaf if I had a small bite hidden in mashed potatoes, and doesn't work at all with watermelon.  He's tried each of those items, and as you can see from what I have written, he already has his likes and dislikes.

Which leads me to a little while ago.

I toasted 2 pieces of breaded very very lightly and opened a package of Oscar Mayer All Beef Bologna. After getting 2 slices of that into the bread, I stood in the kitchen thinking about his lunch and also when to try the sippy cup this afternoon.

Next thing you know, I have someone standing next to me, using my knee for balance, and looking at me with this grin.

He was eyeballing my sandwich.

And I decided it couldn't hurt.

I ended up taking a slice out of my sandwich and feeding it to him like a little bird.  Once it was gone, he went about his business of opening and slamming shut all the kitchen cabinet doors.

Today's morale is that I need to stop over thinking.  He is doing fine, though I wish we weren't spending so much on jarred food, but it's a convenience.  And neither of us has the inclination to make him food from scratch just yet.  If he would be feeding himself, maybe.

For now, his bologna has a first name....

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Eating Us Out of House and Home

Someones appetite is reaching epic proportions.

He has graduated to Stage 3 foods for most meals, except dinner.

Almost every single Stage 3 "dinner" meal has some type of meat.  I don't know what it is, but they seem to insist upon it, and James is just not having it.

He will eat my meatloaf, even macaroni and cheese off my plate, but if we pop open one of those jars.....

It's the only time I've seen him gag and spit food up.  Even if he is starving.

And I need to clarify:

This kid eats EVERYTHING!  He tries it all at least once, especially if it's from my plate, but if he smells more than veggies or fruit on the spoon he will throw his head back and clamp his jaw shut.

So, if anyone out there has suggestions on food, that would be great.  Because at the rate he is going, James will be eating 5 tubs of food for dinner in order to get him to eat something besides squash.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A First World Problem

Last Friday, some major storms came through Virginia, and most people are still recovering.


We are lucky in so many ways.

We watched the wind pick up just before James went to bed.  After he was asleep, you could hear it outside, whipping through everything.  This was the closest I ever thought we'd be to a tornado.

And then silence.  Not a sound.  It was dark out, not a drop of rain had fallen, and everything seemed pretty much normal.

So we went to bed.

Quick confession: besides occasionally tuning in to the news at noon for our local affiliate station, the only news we read are headlines on Yahoo, MSN, and what people report on Facebook.

Yeah, I know, that isn't really news most of the time.  But we are quite content with our obliviousness on most days, and the major issues we do see or hear about through family.

Saturday morning is a prime example of family cluing us in.  Because if my FIL hadn't called, we'd never had known that a majority of the county and valley were without power.  Including them.

We've had visitors stopping in since Saturday, cooling off, visiting with James.  Mainly the latter, since that wobbly walk has everyone mesmerized.

The only issue we've had is so minor that it made us laugh.

Sunday I went to do my weigh in.  It's been 6 months, and I wanted to get an official number and rejoice in the fact that I am selling a lot of big clothes off, can fit comfortable in my husbands old t shirts, and can actually comfortably wear tall boots that were not able to zip shut 9 months ago.

I still don't own a scale.  I rely solely on the Wii and Wii Fit Plus to track the progress.  So I took everything out and prepared to be amazed.

Only to find it was dead.  The Wii just wouldn't power on at all.  The poor thing was about to turn 5, so I guess it was bound to happen, but we just stood there and stared at it.

So, I'm buying a scale this week.  The Wii is being taken to Game Stop for credit towards something else.  We've agreed that for now it makes no sense to replace it since we don't play as often with it.

And that, I believe, is what is considered a First World Problem.  We have water, electricity, and food.  We don't have to brave the outdoors in this heat, and have been able to shelter family when needed.  But we lost our Wii.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Getting What We Wanted

From Day 1, the plan was that being together at home meant that we'd always get to be there for everything.  We'd be each other's back up, making sure James had us both when he needed us, and no one was really doing it all alone.

We'd see his first smile.

His first attempts at rolling.

The beginning of the crawling.

The learning that comes with all his toys.

And last Tuesday we got the greatest thrill so far:

Those first 4 clumsy steps as he walked from the coffee table to his play table unassisted.

He still only wants to walk short distances, but he's doing it.  And he is confident enough to take a hand and march down the hallway from his room, a goofy grin on his face.

Our little boy is becoming a toddler.