Thursday, May 27, 2010

Who do you call when you suspect your toddler is trying to off you?

So, if the baby boy in my belly and I survive this pregnancy, it will be a miracle. I think my older son might kill me first. Maybe he understands more than we think...maybe he knows that he is about to have a little brother so he is trying to off us before he has to share the limelight. After all, he is a Leo and they like their limelight (I should know. I'm a Leo too).

Here are 3 recent examples:

We took him to a birthday party this weekend, which was outside and it was 84 degrees...pretty hot for a pregnant lady. At least this pregnant lady.

Our son was non-stop motion. He never stopped to eat or drink. He just ran from one place to the next, jumping in the duck pond (none of the other kids did this), taking toy fishing poles away from other kids, trying to pull the balloons off the porch (none of the other kids did this), having meltdown after meltdown because he was tired, hot, and hungry but refused to sit still. I was a fat, sweaty, overheated mess about an hour into the party. Then, when he burned his bare feet on the hot porch, it was made worse by his exhaustion and hunger, so we had to leave the party early, before cake and ice cream and present opening time.

The whole thing was extremely stressful and emotionally taxing. I came home and cried. Some days, I can't handle his restlessness and enthusiasm and sky-high energy level. Then, I got so overwhelmed at the thought of having TWO boys that I just went into a hormonal tail spin. It wasn't pretty.

Then, yesterday, I was sick. Not sure if I had a stomach virus or what, but I woke up in the morning throwing up. One not-so-fun thing about being a stay-at-home parent is that there are no sick days. If you are throwing up, you still gotta show up for work. In the morning, my son was pretty well-behaved and actually let me lie on the couch while he watched some cartoons. But, that afternoon was another story.

He and our dog, Meeko, were like two Tazmanian devils running through the house. It was constant barking and screaming for fun, then screaming out of frustration, then crying, then more barking, more running through the house, knocking me into walls. I got so stressed out that I started having Braxton Hicks contractions and I wasn't sure if I was going to throw up again or go into labor. And again, more tears. From me this time, not Max.

But, today...well, today really convinced me that my son is trying to 86 the new baby. I was sitting on the couch, still not feeling well from yesterday, and my son was standing on the floor next to me. Out of nowhere, because that is how little boys like to play it, he threw his body backwards and rammed his head into my pregnant belly.

It immediately knocked the wind out of me and I started having mild cramping. After about an hour, my abdomen became sore and I called the doctor. I had to go the doctor's office to listen to the fetal heartbeat to make sure everything was still okay, which it was, thank goodness. And I cried...again.

So, so far, I'm still standing and little Harry (our new son's name!) is pulling through. I think I am going to have to strap a pillow to my belly for protection, like a piece of armor for mothers of hyperactive toddlers. I'm still not feeling quite right and I am hoping for an injury-free and tummy-better day tomorrow.

Please God, for the love of all mothers everywhere, make tomorrow an easier day.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Broken bones!

So, my husband broke his finger last night. He closed the trunk of his car on it and instead of unlocking the trunk to get his finger out, his natural reaction to the pain was to pull it out. Lots of damage. And pretty gross. I will spare you all the brutal details, but let's just say he crushed the bone in the tip of his wedding ring finger and did some nasty damage to the skin and nail. He was an hour and a half away from home when he did it, so he drove home bleeding all over his car. After a trip to the doctor last night, his finger is stitched up and wrapped up with a splint.

I felt so bad for him. My husband is a magnet for bad luck. I swear it is his lot in life to have everything he does be a struggle. He must have some pretty heavy life lessons to learn this time around.

But, the thing about him is that he handles it all so well. I don't know if he is just used to struggling or if he was just born with a natural "I can get through this" attitude. He handles trauma, bad luck, and general crappy situations way better than I do. He is also completely calm in panic situations. His sister stopped breathing once and he was the only one in the room calm enough to talk to the paramedics on the phone and administer CPR.

I would think that karma would set in eventually. My husband would give a friend his left kidney if he needed it. He does nice things for people all the time - especially strangers. He will go out of his way to find the owner of a cell phone he finds on the street. He will help anybody move. He gives money away to people begging on the corner. He will find the owner of a stray dog. If he finds a dead dog on the road, he will stop to move the dog from the road and try to find its owner. When does karma kick in so he can have some good luck?

He is a great husband. Like any wife, there are things he does that make me want to run up the side of the wall and swing from the ceiling until he stops. Sometimes he drives me crazy (and I'm sure I drive him crazy too, but we won't talk about that). But, while he isn't romantic in the traditional sense, he does sweet things for me that are completely unexpected.

For instance, I wanted a fern for our front porch. So, we went to a local nursery and found some beautiful ferns hanging in grass baskets. But, they were almost $50 dollars and we just can't afford a luxury like that. So, my husband went to Lowe's and bought a smaller $7 fern hanging in a black plastic pot. Then, for a surprise, one night last week after I went to sleep, he went to Wal-Mart and found a grass basket like the ones at the local nursery for only $5 and re-potted the fern at midnight. When I woke up, he told me I'd better water my fern (I tend to forget) and when I went outside, I saw my sweet surprise! It was only $12 total instead of $50 and the sentiment behind it meant so much more to me than if we had been able to purchase it at the nursery.

He is a special man and I pray, from my lips to God's ears, that karma goes his way one day. The picture below is him with our son sitting on our four-wheeler. My son loves to put-put around our house on it and my husband will do anything to make him smile.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

I know what that really means...

So, we had our 2nd annual Neighborhood Block Party this weekend. My husband and a couple of the other men on the street provide the hot dogs and buns and everyone else brings a side dish or dessert! We have a lot of children in our neighborhood who can play together, so the parents get to relax and enjoy adult conversations while their kids play with each other...wait...oh, that's right. Except for us. Because we are the parents of the one who is "all boy."

"All boy" is what my neighbors say about our son. "Wow! He certainly is all boy, isn't he?" This was said to both my husband and I while our son danced like a madman in the rain puddles or tried to ride his Hot Wheels down a flight of stairs or fell off his Hot Wheels into a mud puddle, but didn't care and kept on trucking. And we know what "all boy" really means. It is the nice way of saying, "Your kid is out of control!" Yes, we know. He never sits still - and I mean never. He's got an agenda called GET INTO AS MUCH DANGER AS I CAN and no one can stop him.

Throughout the course of the block party, I was told by different people, some adults, some children: "Wow, your son is rambunctious!" and "Wow, your son is rowdy!" and "Wow, your son doesn't listen very well, does he?" and "My sister's son is quite a handful, although I don't think he is as big of a handful as Max!" and the grand finale, "Wow, your son is ALL BOY!", which we heard twice. Oh, and another one: "Remember last year at the block party when your son was so still and easy to handle?" Yes, I remember. He was 9 months old.

And none of our neighbors meant any harm. We are friends with them all. They just stated the obvious - our son has more energy than Robin Williams on crack.

In the small amounts of time that I was able to stand still and catch my breath, I looked on with envy at the other parents who were able to let their children run and play without constant supervision. There were several kids there in Max's age group and their parents all looked relaxed and well-fed with chips and coleslaw and baked beans and hot dogs, while they laughed with other adults and had interesting conversations.

My conversations were all, "Max, you are not going to ride your Hot Wheels down this flight of stairs." and "Max, come back here right now!" and "Max! Look out!" and "Max, don't touch that cat!" and "Max, you need to go this way. Turn around. I said, turn around!" and "Max, don't put that soggy pine cone in your mouth!" and "Max, don't take that tricycle away from that little girl!" and "Max, we are not going inside this person's house. This is not our house. Get away from their door!"

Yes, we are the parents of "that kid." My husband and I really didn't enjoy ourselves all that much at the block party because we had to chase our son at all times. We were never able to sit in a lawn chair and relax. We had to shove hot dogs down our throats on the go. At the end of the night, we were exhausted. I had trouble getting my pregnant body out of bed the next morning because my muscles were so sore!

The pictures at the bottom of this post were the only ones I was able to take at the party because I had to throw my camera to the side right after we got there. I needed both hands to re-direct my son away from traffic and steep driveways. The picture below was the only time he stood still.

We are hoping that next year he will be calmer as he understands boundaries and the dangers around him - like moving cars or trying to ride a tricycle down a steep, concrete driveway and crashing onto the pavement like a bird that has been hit by a windshield.

Our son is virtually unafraid of everything. And as a mother, that is a scary, scary thing.

Friday, May 14, 2010

It makes the diarrhea worth it, doesn't it?

So, boys are messy. And become dirty and gross with ninja-like speed. And destructive. And half the time, I'm not sure how I made it through the day.

Like one day last week when I found Max sitting in the middle of a big pile of doggie diarrhea, running his fire truck back and forth through it in the hallway (Pia, our rat terrier, was ill - obviously). I just stood there looking at him, unsure of what to do first. There were so many things wrong with this picture. Where do I start? First, I put the dogs outside so they would stay out of my way. Then, for Max, I started with a sponge bath to get off the chunks. Then, a real bath to wash off the germs. Then, I jailed him in his crib so I could clean the now dried diarrhea off the hard wood floor. An hour and a half later, the process was complete.

Or like today when Max acted, for the first time, like he wanted to sit on the toilet like a big boy. I was so excited! I got out his Elmo toilet seat, put it on the big potty, took off his shorts, and took off his diaper. What I didn't notice was that he was in the middle of already peeing when I took off his diaper, so he peed all over my arm and my shirt and the floor of the bathroom and the toilet and his step stool. Then, it took an act of God for me to keep our bull terrier away from the pee-soaked floor so he wouldn't pee on top of it. Get out the mop.

Or like today when he somehow was able to reach on top of the dryer and spill my morning cup of tea all over the clean clothes I had just folded. I needed more laundry to do. I can't wait to re-wash those clothes.

Or when he threw a giant fit because I couldn't sit on his tricycle like he wanted me to so he could push me around. My pregnant belly was too big to fit behind the handle bars and he couldn't understand it.

But then, just when I think I can't take it anymore, there are nights like last night.

My husband and I went to a play (our niece was in Annie at her school) and my mom watched Max. When we got home, we thought Max was asleep, so we snuck in his room to turn on his monitor. But, he was still awake, sitting in his crib just hanging out. He was so happy to see us! He jumped up and reached out his arms for me to pick him up. When I did, he laid his head on my shoulder and had a perma-grin on his face. It looked like he was thinking, "Aaaaahhh, mommy and daddy are home and all is right with the world again and I am safe." I remember having that same feeling when my mommy and daddy were at home way back when. After about a minute of holding him, I layed him back down and he was asleep in seconds.

Times like that make the doggie diarrhea bath and being peed on and the extra laundry and the temper tantrums all worth while. And his sweet smile helps, too.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Night Night

So, lately I have been obsessed with taking pictures of my son while he sleeps. Children are so sweet while sleeping. They don't eat dog food or draw on the TV or pour out the last of your morning tea while they are sleeping.

My son is a rock hard sleeper, so the flash doesn't usually wake him woke him up once and I bolted from the room, but I tripped over a fire truck which set off sirens and made the whole thing worse. But, that's only happened once. The rest of the time, he sleeps through it like a baby. Because he is a baby. My baby.

In every picture, he has his crocheted blankie, the one he carries with him everywhere he goes, even to the grocery store. His Grandma Jane made it for him. It usually stinks because it is hard to get it away from him to wash, but he loves it, rotten smell and all.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I can be silly, too! (within reason. a-hem)

So, I haven't had much to say lately, so my next few posts will just be pictures...of guess who? Any guesses? Tim Riggins from Friday Night Lights? Well, good guess, but no. Sawyer from Lost? Another fantastic guess, but again, no. Max? Well, of course.

Sometimes I forget to be silly with my son. You know, I'm one of those serious adults who no longer finds it entertaining to dump out the dog's water dish on the kitchen floor or eat that mystery clump off the back porch.

My husband is great at being silly with our son. My husband loves to say, "You're the rule maker and I'm the rule breaker!" He really looks proud of himself when he says it too. But come on, one of us has to place some boundaries on behavior and keep our house from getting burned down.

But, I can be silly, too! Just within reason, I guess. Man, am I really a stick in the mud? I sound boring. Here are some pictures of my son and I being silly with his Mr. Potato Head glasses. He loves him some Mr. Potato Head! Don't we look studious?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Family Ties

So, for the past few days, I have been reading Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt. I'm not sure how this fascinating memoir had escaped my eager reader fingers all of these years. I've been meaning to read the book for ten years and finally took it down from my bookshelf last week.

For those of you who have not read this book or seen the movie, I won't ruin any details for you. All I will say for my purposes is the book is an autobiography about family as seen from the perspective of the eldest son in an extremely impoverished family in Limerick, Ireland. Besides the obvious tragedies that befall this ill-fated family, one that bothered me to the core was how cruel the grandmother and the mother's sister, Frank's aunt, are to the children. No matter what the circumstances or how much you disagree with someone's choices, how can you be so heartless and cruel to innocent children?

My husband and I talked about this book over dinner last night (he has seen the movie), which led to a discussion about our families. My husband and I share the same core values and one of them is family. We both believe that above all, family is most important. We both want our children to grow up surrounded by family, which is why we have stayed close to home. Therefore, it is hard for me to read a book about such familial turmoil.

Nothing about my childhood would have been the same without the cheering section I had everywhere I went. My parents, grandparents and my mother's sister, my Aunt Brenda, went to most of my soccer, t-ball, basketball, and baseball games. They went to my piano recitals and my choir concerts. They came to every birthday party and every holiday. And always having that cheering section with me gave me a sense of importance and being special. It was comforting and secure and loving. It was like having arms wrapped around me all the time. My childhood wouldn't have been the same without them.

I know many people don't have this gift that I was given as a child. Some don't get along with their families, or there is impossible dysfunction and pain and cruelty, and still some have lost their loved ones. But, if you've got a good one, hang on as tight as you can and never take them for granted. I am so grateful for the cheering section I had as a child and we are thrilled that our sons now have a cheering section, too. We live near all of the grandparents, Aunt Brenda, cousins, and one set of our sons' aunts and uncles.

When our son sees his Grandma Jane or his great Aunt Brenda, he grins from ear to ear. He knows them well and he loves them. His Great Aunt Brenda brings him fun and unusual toys, like a talking rat or a tree swing or a huge balloon arrangement that looks like an octopus! And Max dances like a madman when he sees his cousin, MP. To watch him with all of them warms me to the core.

This past weekend, we celebrated Aunt Brenda's birthday. We had a wonderful time eating a delicious dinner by Grandma Jane and taking Max to the park together. Here are some pictures of the family at the park! And thank you Grandma Jane and Great Aunt Brenda for everything you do for Max, all the fun times you give to him, and every game or recital or concert or birthday party you will attend in his and our new baby's future! We love you!

Here is Max when we first got to the park. He was pretty excited to have so many people to play with and give him attention!

Daddy is the only one tall enough and strong enough to put Max on the slide!

Weeeeeeee! Grandma Jane catches him at the bottom! Look how happy he is! I love this picture. I wish it wasn't so blurry but I forgot to put my camera on the motion setting!

Now it is time to help Great Aunt Brenda open her presents. He was actually a pretty good little helper. When Grandma Jane told him to take each present to Aunt Brenda, he carried them straight to her without any detours to throw something at the TV or put a dog toy in his mouth.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Weapons of Max Destruction

So, I will be the mother of two boys. Two boys. TWO BOYS.

I think I have mentioned before that I am not used to boys. I didn't have any brothers and all but one of my cousins were girls. I prefer flowers to sticks. I prefer butterflies to dirt. I prefer Glee to Spike TV. I am not used to the mass destruction that follows little boys around like dogs follow the smell of steak.

And actually, it's not just little boys that wreak havoc on a home - it is also male dogs and husbands. I am surrounded by penises. And I'm about to add one more to the club.

Growing up, my sister and I broke our share of lamps and made our share of messes. We did a fair amount of damage. But, boys? But, husbands? But, male bull terriers? They take the cake (no literally, my husband will take the cake right from my plate and my bull terrier will knock it off the table).

What happens when my boys and husband form their own little testosterone club? Where will that leave my sanity? Currently, my husband and son, Max, already have their own destructive ways of doing things together. For example, when I put my son to bed at naps and nighttime, I read him two books, sing him two songs, and then off he goes to bed. No problems, no drama. Just hugs and kisses.

When my husband puts him to bed? It is American Gladiators in my son's bedroom. Two nights ago, they knocked my son's ceiling fan off balance (now it shakes when it is on) because they were throwing balls at the ceiling and walls instead of reading a book. Then, they broke the pull chain off the ceiling fan because they were throwing toothpaste across the room instead of singing lullabies.

My husband long ago abandoned the bedtime routine, which had been working quite well for almost two years, for bedtime Ultimate Fighting Championships and reenactments of Jesse James is a Dead Man.

The day I found out I was having another boy, I was thrilled. I was just happy to finally know the sex and to know that all his proportions were right, he was growing at a normal pace and he had all his fingers and toes.

Then, the next day, I had to grieve a little bit. My dreams of buying Barbies and dolls for birthdays, baking cookies with my daughter for Christmas, shopping for wedding dresses and prom dresses, painting her tiny toenails - I had to let all of that go. It's not that I wasn't happy to have another boy, it was that I was sad to not have a girl. And then everyone told us we are lucky for only having boys and that boys are so much cheaper and less complicated than girls. Which I believed...until yesterday...

Yesterday, the mass destruction that followed my son around was phenomenal. You see, Max and I were in the kitchen eating chips and hummus. We both loooove hummus. After a few minutes of quietly eating, he grabbed a chip from me and ran into the living room. And not five seconds later, I heard the biggest crash that I have ever heard in my house.

I was terrified! All these horrible thoughts went through my head, like the bookcase fell on top of him or he knocked the TV off its stand and it landed on his head. I ran around the corner already almost in find him standing next to a mass on the floor consisting of our now broken floor lamp, a wooden floor vase filled with dried sticks, a clay vase from our fireplace mantle, and an 8x10 frame. There were shards of metal from the lamp and pieces of broken clay from the vase and snapped twigs all over the floor. The frame had fallen apart all around the fireplace. And there he stood, thank God still in his shoes from the neighborhood walk we had taken twenty minutes before, saying, "Uh-oh" over and over again. He wasn't scared. He wasn't upset. He was just saying, "Uh-oh" like all he had just done was drop his sippy cup on the floor.

I was so grateful he wasn't hurt that I wasn't even upset about the mess or the broken decor. But, it did lead me to think: I don't buy the theory that boys are cheaper than girls. While you have to buy dresses and jewelry and bows and countless other accessories for girls, you have to spend large amounts of money to replace all the things that your boys break into smithereens.

In the past week, my boys (my son and my husband) have broken a ceiling fan, the pull chain, a lamp, a vase, a frame, and several dried twigs from my mantle. And the amount of time I spend cleaning up after my boys is surely worth a load of money: scraping oatmeal off the carpet after my son stuck his whole foot in his breakfast this morning, daily spilled coffee grounds on the kitchen counter from my husband, washing yogurt off the couch, cleaning up dog pee from the bedroom floor after our male dog has marked his territory for the three thousandth time, wiping up puddles of water from the kitchen floor because my husband refuses to dry his hands off with an actual towel, washing our bedding, washing my son's bedding, washing the dog's bed...and now, in September, we are adding another penis into the mix.

I am fully aware of the chaos that awaits me in the near future. And while I am a little overwhelmed at the thought of my next few years of motherhood, I also couldn't be happier about it. I am going to have another boy to love. Another smiling face in the family, another tiny voice, another sound of laughter, another sweet, sleeping face to stare at every night, another boy to love. I'll make it through the messes and the territory marking and the hyperactivity. I just may need a few extra spa days and girls nights or quiet nights alone reading a book. And Mother's Day from now on better be a pampering like no other.