Saturday, March 3, 2012

Letters to Milo (#5, 39 weeks, 9 months)

Milo's first snow angel, @9 months.
Oh, Milo. Nine months? Really? Where has the time gone? I'm in denial a bit, about this whole growing up thing. I love you so much, just the way you are, today. And then there you go--growing up some more.

You're definitely waving on purpose now--but only to your blankie. Any time you get near your crib, you turn and wave at your blankie, and you wave goodbye to blankie when you wake up and I take you out of the crib. in fact, blankie is the first word I could really tell you understood, because if we are in the nursery, and I ak you where your blankie is, you'll turn toward the crib and start waving. So far, though, you won't wave at people. Apparently you're not as sad to see mommy and daddy go as you are to say goodbye to blankie.

Actually, I'm pretty sure mommy just made an error in trying to teach you how to wave. Because if I ask you to wave to daddy as he leaves for work, you just stare at me curiously. But if I mention your blankie a moment later, you'll start waving with great purpose. So apparently you associate the waving movement with the word blankie. Oops.

You've cut your first two teeth (the bottom ones) but man are they slow about making an appearance. They broke through the gums about a week ago, but you can still only see a sliver of tooth above the gums! It's hard to imagine what you'll look like with teeth--we're so used to your gummy smile.

You went on the swings for the first time this month, and you seemed pretty happy about it. I can't wait until it gets warm enough to go play at the playground! We went to an indoor playground, where you crawled from wheel to shining wheel. Apparently, you LOVE wheels! You went straight to the fire truck, then a car, then a scooter--just focusing on the wheels. Today, you figured out how to push your high chair back and forth to make a squeaky sound. Which you did for quite a while. Back and forth, back and forth, squeak squeak.

Squeak.

You went to your first story time at the library, and you also played with baby animals that came to visit the library. I think you liked the baby goat best, because of the sounds it made.

You started eating "finger foods" this month--sweet potato puffs and banana. And I shared some of my pinkberry frozen yogurt with you. =) I don't share that with just anyone! So far, corn still seems to be your favorite food.

You've figured out how to transition from sitting to scooting, which means I can't just sit you down and run to answer the door anymore. You're still not crawling, but definitely getting close--you get up on your hands and knees, move your legs...and then fall down.  but you can get anywhere you want to go pretty quickly--you chased a ball all the way down the long hallway in the dorm the other day!

You still love playing with your activity cube, and we had to get you a new stuffed owl, because the first one got so grubby. =) You really like playing with a little beach ball, and I can always distract you with your little puffer fish bath toy, which squirts water and air. You like knocking down things I build with blocks, and you love toys you can spin, like the one we stick to your high chair tray. You still like your activity gym and jumper, and you've grown fond of a Thomas the Tank Engine train that zips around the room after I pull it back and let it go. You're fast enough to grab it as it whizzes by, but mostly I think you like the whirring of the wheels.  Daddy's favorite thing to do with you is still tickling you, because your laughter is the most amazing sound ever. I love playing peek-a-boo with you. You've recently learned to play it yourself--you'll pull a blanket over your head and then suddenly whip it down, smiling at me expectantly until I exclaim "peek-a-boo!" At which point you giggle and do it again.

You made your first craft this month--a valentine. it was a bit of a challenge, honestly. At first, you were focused on eating the paper rather than coloring on it. Then, I taped the edges down to stop you from eating it, but that made it harder to color on. You were quite good at holding the marker, but didn't seem to catch on to the bit where you move it around on the paper, so instead I moved the paper under the marker while you held it still. In the end, you'd made a beautiful metallic scribble, which I cut into a heart shape and  glued on some paper for you. I'm sure next year will go a bit better. =)

You've gotten really good at sleeping through the night--finally! You go to sleep around 8 and wake around 5 to eat, and then go back to sleep until around 8. Which means mommy is finally (!) getting some sleep--yay Milo!

This week, you've been sick. You've been running a fever for 4 days and it's gotten up to 104! Very alarming for mommy and daddy, though the doctor says it's just a cold or virus. Grandma Cheryl and Grandpa Ed came to see you, but it was right when you got sick, so you weren't really in the mood to play with them. I thought the fever was from the teething at first, but you got really fussy and wimpy00crying at the smallest thing. And you NEVER fuss, so I knew something was wrong.

Oh, baby, you've been burning up! We've been holding you and rocking you and taking lots of baths with you and generally trying not to totally fall apart with the helplessness of it all. It breaks our hearts to see you so sad and tired and sick. There was one night none of us slept. But then the next two days you slept constantly--only able to stay awake an hour at a time. We'd take your temp and give you medicine throughout the night and you shoulda seen your daddy. He tried to give you a cool bath and you just sat there crying and he had to keep you in there to bring your fever down and he was so sad. You've been refusing to eat solid foods, and you've been getting the chills on and off. We've been taking turns staying home with you and it's really hard when one of us has to go to work. It's hard to leave you. The silver lining is that you're very cozy when you're sick--extra snuggly. We've gotten to spend a lot of time just cozying up together, and for a while you even slept on me, like back in the day. Which is funny, because I swear not a day goes by when your daddy doesn't tell me how he wishes you would still fall asleep on him. =) Anyway, today your fever was down and you ate a bit of food, so hopefully you'll be back to your old self again soon.

We had to take a little walk to mommy's office today, and we stopped to make your very first snow angel. it was super cute, but you didn't really feel like staying outside to play. Snow will be a lot more fun for you next year, I think.

Your last swim lesson is this weekend, and maybe we'll do a music class next. I've noticed that when I put some music on, you kind of bounce around in your chair like you're dancing. Also, your mom is totally tone deaf, so it's probably a good idea for you to get a head start on the whole music thing. =)

you're still a total joy, Mr. Milo. You are so, so loved, from the tip of your nose to your tiny toes. We love to watch you learn new things and explore--you're such an explorer! And you love doors! You open and close every door you can. You're always on the move, checking out a door here, some wheels there, a ball...the edges of things. That's right...you love edges. When we're in the rocking chair, you arch your back and throw your head over the side, peering behind the chair and playing in the curtains. You crawl to the edge of the steps and the edge of the bed and you try hard to peer over the edge of the bathtub. You have no sense of fear--you just need to know what's out there. It's kind of made diaper changes a bit tricky, actually. As soon as we lay you down, you flip over and make a run for the edge. We sometimes need two of us to change your diaper, so one can distract and occupy you so you'll lay on your back!

Alright, my little love bug. You're finally asleep so I'd better follow suit--it's been a long, tiring week for all of us. But you make everything more worthwhile. It's hard to remember how we filled our days before you came along. Here's to nine months of our clever little bundle of joy. You are so, so loved, Milo.

That's why I can't stop kissing your face, you know.

Now hurry up and get better so we can go play in the snow, okay?

Love you, peanut.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Letters to Milo (#4, 35 weeks, 8 months)

Dearest Milo,

You're 9 months old now, and as far as your parents are concerned, you're the most brilliant baby on the planet, in pretty much every way possible.

You're the fastest army crawler around, and it looks like you're getting ready to graduate to crawling soon. You're especially quick when you have your eye on an iphone or laptop cord. You've also started pulling yourself up to a stand, and you get this really pleased look on your face when you do. You've been doing swimming lessons for three weeks now, and you weren't a bit afraid--not even when we dunked you under water. Four times. I can tell already that you've got an adventurous spirit, which is an excellent character trait.

You're very fond of jumping and bouncing in your tree frog jumperoo these days, which makes all three of us laugh. Though you do often pause to watch Criminal Minds with us, which has your daddy and I a little concerned, frankly. I hope it's not leaving much of an impression on you.

Your favorite toy, I think, is your wooden activity cube. It was beautiful colors, with beads to move, blocks to spin, and doors to open and close. You can entertain yourself for a good 45 minutes with that thing, gazing at it intently from every angle, contorting your body to peek around the corner to the other side. you also have started crawling underneath your jumperoo, so it's a it of a fort for you to lay under. You'll grab at toys that dare hang over the edge, and you'll study intently the joints in the base, and then you'll lay quietly underneath, looking up at the light shining through the bright orange fabric seat.

You've gotten quite enthusiastic about eating lately, and I'll venture to say that corn is among your favorite foods, based on the excited noises you make and the way you lunge at the spoon as I try to refill it. I love corn too, and so does your daddy, so I suppose it makes sense. Let's hope you don't inherit my taste for ranch Doritos as well.

Your daddy delights in finding new ways to make you laugh--the most recent of which is playing peek-a-boo. That really cracks you up. You also REALLY like when I sing to you, which officially makes you the one and only fan of my singing. Your current favorite is what I sing "I love you, I love you, I looooove you," which I sing in a way that mixes a beatles song with a current pop song, making both pretty unrecognizable.  You're tickle-ish where your legs meet your torso, and under your arms, but the best spot is under your chin and your neck.  Daddy and I tickle you mercilessly and repeatedly just to hear your sweet laughter erupt like a cheerful volcano.  You also really appreciate animal sounds--particularly a hearty mooooo.

One of the things you do that cheers me immeasurably is attack kiss.  Sometimes I can tell it's coming by the way you smile at me. But sometimes you grab my face and/or hair with both hands and come at me with mouth agape and a twinkle in your eye. You are indiscriminate in terms of location...most often, you "kiss" my cheek, but you'll settle for my forehead, nose, or even my eye. A few times you've gone right to my mouth, which is a little awkward but also sweet and joyful. You are unabashed in your kissing. While forward, your technique is bound to make you popular with the ladies one day. Or the men. Either way, just don't tell them you perfected your moves at 8-months-old. With your mother.

You've just started hugging, snuggling, and waving as well, though you're a bit coy about waiving which makes it hard to tell if it's really intentional.  But hey--we love it all the same, and we'll take what we can get.

I have to tell you--you're pretty much the best-behaved baby I've met--everyone says so, even complete strangers. Sometimes I have to bring you to various meetings, and you'll hardly peep, playing quietly with a toy and eagerly sipping water from the side of mommy's cup.  You're a dream in restaurants, and we even took you to see cousin Lily in her first musical. You sat on my lap for the entire two hours and mostly just watched the singing and dancing. And yesterday, when I was so sick and lacked the energy to be super fun mommy, you took two long naps (so I could sleep) and pretty much entertained yourself while I watched you, barely able to sit upright.

Anyway, I could easily write you a small novel of a love note, but you'd probably get bored reading it, so I'll try to wrap up. But I want you to know this: you are the happiest, most adorable, joyful, clever baby. And you are so loved. I have this journal I try to write in at the end of each day. And somehow, no matter what else has happened that day--good or bad--all I'm left with at night is joy and gratitude. Because of you. I don't know how we got so lucky.

Happy 8 months, peanut. We love you to pieces.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Swimming, Sledding and Outsourcing Tedious Tasks

It's been a busy week. But then, aren't they all?

I left you on Sunday, after we cleaned everything and dismantled the Christmas tree and I got my blood test (7 months late) and I was feeling pretty on top of things.

Monday, I got a call from my doctor's office. The doctor was like, "Hey...have you been feeling really crappy lately? Because I know why!" Like it was the punch line to a joke. I guess the joke is that if I had made time for the blood test months ago, I might not be feeling so crappy all the time. Because apparently my thyroid is completely out of whack. It had been fine during the pregnancy and we had been monitoring it carefully, so I figured the blood test wasn't really that necessary. But it turns out my TSH levels are at 8.57. Just for reference, we feel best when they are between 1-2, though technically normal is .3-3 (or .5-5, depending on which doctor you ask.)

So, yeah. We've changed my medication and hopefully I'll be feeling better in 4-6 weeks. Awesome.

Hey, remind me to go back for a blood test then, will you?

So then it was Tuesday...the big day to drive Milo out to western Massachusetts to meet with famous eye doctor lady. Our appointment was at 5, so I left at 2 to pick up a friend who was up for keeping us company, with the idea that I'd get there in time to feed Milo before the appointment so he'd be in a good mood. Well, we get all the way there only to find there's no eye doctor at that address. Oops. Guess she'd moved since I used to see her five years ago. Well, we got to the right address right on time, so I sort of let Milo snack in between the pre-evaluation and seeing the real doctor.

She was amazing with Milo, and she seemed amazed AT Milo. Which was always one of my favorite things about her--she always acted like I was some kind of miracle or something. Hard to dislike. =) She had good news for us: Milo has binocular vision within a certain focal range...between 2" and 10" or so. He definitely doesn't have binocular vision at longer focal ranges, but she said it's a really good sign that he'll be able to develop it. She also had some mixed things to say about the eye surgery that I thought for sure we'd be signing Milo up for in a couple of months. Basically, it's a completely cosmetic fix, and even then is often temporary, requiring multiple follow-up surgeries. If you're really interested, here's a site that explains it.

And there are risks. Many patients that have the surgery wind up with a vertical deviation (their eye wanders upward). And there will be scar tissue and basically you're messing with the natural order of your physical self, without telling the brain how to actually interpret what it sees any differently. So some people wind up worse after surgery. She's seen the most success if people do vision therapy before and after surgery.

She wouldn't advise the surgery, though she does see the benefit in a cosmetic fix. If that's what we're looking for, however, then it's not really necessary to get it done as soon as possible under the logic that we're going to try to get the brain to develop the way it uses the eyes in a natural way.

She does, however, recommend vision therapy, and she really thinks Milo can achieve binocular vision. She had some innovative ideas about using special lenses to lift his gaze and gave us recommendations for three vision therapists in our area that she'd trust her children with. So now I have to look into that, which seems a little overwhelming but maybe a tad less so than surgery on my infant's eyes. The bad news: vision therapy is not covered by insurance, and is somewhere in the neighborhood of $150 a pop, every few weeks, for a few years (most likely).

She was really sweet and informative and offered to act as our consultant and said to call her any time with questions. Which is pretty nice for someone who's famous and all that.

So then we went to grab a quick dinner and then dropped by our friend Kate's house before the long drive home. Luckily, Milo slept both ways in the car, because we didn't get home until around 11:30.

In other news, we started sleep training this week. We're using the Sleep Easy Solution/Sleepy Planet. They basically advise a bedtime between 6:30-8:30, based on when you need/want baby to wake up (allowing them 11-12 hours of sleep). Apparently, Milo needs 11 hours a night (NO LESS!) and 13-15 1/2 hours per 24 hour period. Turns out our little Milo was sleep deprived and just too good-natured for us to tell.

So you put them in their crib, after doing a bedtime routine, and then if they cry, you go in after 5-10-15 minutes and speak to them reassuringly (but don't touch them or pick them up) and try to get out of the room in under 30 seconds (which is where we always fail.) The first night, Milo made it LITERALLY to the last minute of the 15 minute check in (so 30 minutes total) and just as I was about to go in for the third time, he fell asleep. Michael's heart was broken. He is so not into the whole cry it out thing and is pretty sure it'd be better to let Milo sleep in our bed or eat four times a night or whatever else needs to happen to avoid crying. It'd be cute and sweet if it wasn't so unrealistic and didn't mean that I'd never get a full night's sleep again.

He slept for 11 hours that night. IN A ROW. Sure, he woke up a few times, but after fussing for a few minutes, he went back to sleep. WITHOUT EATING.

Jesus, do I feel stupid, thinking he needed to be eating twice a night for the last however many months. Sigh. All that sleep I could have had.

Anyway, I still woke up every time he woke up, but I didn't get out of bed and I got about 6 hours of sleep. The next night was another 6 hours. Last night I think I might have actually gotten 8 hours of sleep. I woke up a few times, with Milo, but went right back to sleep. Once I even fell back asleep before he did. I'm starting to actually feel like a normal person again. I didn't feel hostile at all today. Not once.

Tonight was the 4th night, and Milo didn't cry at all. He just went to sleep. Crazy.

I really need to talk to Michael and decide for certain if I'm returning to work full time, since my feelings change pretty much hourly. Some hours, I am sure I want to spend all of my time with my happy little sidekick, the light of my life. Other hours, I am sure life would feel so much easier if I went to work for 8 hour chunks and came home to my baby rather than trying to meld baby and work constantly, which largely means that I'm doing work until well after midnight most nights, and often trying to get Milo to entertain himself or sleep so I can squeeze some work in during the day. The other thing is that I sat down with our financials and realized that currently, after paying our nanny, I bring home about $4300 a year. Even worse than I had thought. A YEAR. And for this I'm killing myself? Working all hours, spreading myself so thin that I am a vitriolic, hostile person much of the time? Not getting to spend quality time with my son? And watching our savings dwindle?

Working part time is so not worth it.

But if I work full time, we won't be able to afford a nanny. Which means day care. And a lot more sick days in our future.

So that's all going on. And will take months to iron out. As will our future housing situation.

Thursday, we were on duty. Days where we are on duty after I work all day are hard, but this was a good one. I had a nice, long talk with one of my favorite girls in the dorm (not that we have favorites). And then I walked with Milo down to dinner, which was decent for once (though not healthy), and Michael met us there. Afterward, Michael fed Milo while I did study hour check-ins, which let me have more good conversations with the students. Then he went to the gym while I played with Milo and then put Milo to bed while I finished up some work. Everything seemed to flow so well. It almost convinced me that we can totally make this work.

Friday, we were supposed to have breakfast plans and I was REALLY excited about them, not only for the company but also because I was going to get to have caramel crunch, nutella-stuffed French toast!!! Sadly, our plans got canceled Friday morning, so I decided instead that it would be a good time to get Milo's glasses adjusted, since both pairs leave dents/bruises on different parts of his face. Yup, mom of the year I am, waiting weeks to get them fixed. Go me.

I tried really hard to plan it so that we'd get there before it was nap time and after he had eaten, but everything always takes longer than I think and by the time we got there, it was slightly past nap time. sigh.

Here's why. I have two packages to bring to the post office. One of which is the angel care breathing baby monitor Michael made me buy in June but that we still haven't installed. Anyway, both are in big boxes. Which wouldn't have been a problem if I could have put Milo in a stroller and balanced the boxes on top to get to the car. But we're not allowed to keep our snap and go in the dorm anymore (effing fire marshall.) So I had a baby to carry in one hand, and two big, heavy boxes to carry in the other. So I got Milo in the Beco carrier (facing in, so I wouldn't accidentally bonk him in the face with a box. See? I AM a good mother!), slung the diaper bag over my shoulder, balanced the boxes on top of each other, carefully slid my hand underneath, and turned and looked at the door. Crap.

I inched the door handle down and open verrrry slowly, and with my toe pulled it shut and quickly got out of the way. Then I started down the dark stairway. Which is pitch black because the dorm is engaged in a competition to see which dorm can reduce their energy usage. It's a miracle every time I make it down the stairs and hallway.

I get all the way out to the car and see that it snowed. So now I'm thinking, do I put the boxes down in the snow? Or the baby? Just kidding. I slipped the keys out of my pocket, opened the car, put the boxes and diaper bag in the front seat, got Milo out of the carrier and into the car seat. At which point I realized he'd already lost a sock. I don't know how that kid does it. But it didn't really seem worth taking him out of the car seat and going back to find it. (Did someone say mom of the year?)

So my one-socked wonder and I finally get on the way and make it to the glasses place just as Milo should be going down for a nap. It took about 40 minutes to get the two pairs of glasses adjusted. During which time we entertained the other customers (who kept exclaiming how cute he was) and Milo lost his other sock. (I should probably buy stock.) He started seriously melting down in the last ten minutes or so, but overall did really well with the lady putting the glasses on and off and on and off and on and off and on again. So, even though I really wanted to get my packages to the post office, I figured we better get home and let Peanut nap.

Plus, who was I kidding? How was I going to get the baby and both packages into the post office? I felt like that riddle where you have to get a fox, chicken, and a bag of grain across a river in a small boat but they can't all be in the boat at the same time or one will get eaten.

So we went home and Milo napped and then we went to visit a friend from our mom's group. I love this friend (and all the friends from our group) because I totally don't have to pretend that I've got my shit together with her. And I can tell her all the frustrations and mom fails and know that we both still know we're both good moms anyway. Because, I mean, c'mon. Look at our happy boys. And it's nice to get some perspective. I hadn't gotten more than 4.5 hours of sleep in months, and her son hadn't napped more than 45 minutes in months. It made me appreciate Milo's naps instead of focusing on his night time sleep. So, good all around.

Though it meant he was late for his second nap as well. Oops. No post office for us on Friday.

Today was swim lesson day. I was supposed to have an all day photography workshop for "moms with cameras" but it got postponed until tomorrow because of some snow. So that meant I got to go with Michael and Milo to swim lessons.

I've decided I hate swim lessons and shouldn't have to pay for them. They keep asking us to have Milo do totally un-age-appropriate things like blow bubbles and "help him climb up on the wall" so he "knows what to do in case of emergencies." Um, WHAT kind of emergencies would require my 7 month old to climb out of a swimming pool by way of the wall? When I explained that Milo doesn't really know how to blow bubbles and would just drink the water if I put his mouth near it, the instructor explained that this class was really for tots, so that was why and she didn't know what to tell us.

Um, no it isn't. I signed him up for WATER BABIES. WATER TOTS is taught an hour earlier. So basically, she didn't even know what class she was teaching. Grrr.

It's a good thing I like swimming with Milo so much. Dunking him is kind of fun too.

And in the locker room, this woman started telling me how cute Milo was and that she had an 18 month old daughter and she had strabismus and they were considering options, etc etc etc...so that was nice. And she also said that even though her daughter isn't in daycare, she's been putting her in the day care at the gym since she was 6 months old and it's really great and she feels good about it. The only down side is that her daughter gets sick more often. Which is one of the things I'm afraid of but have to admit is inevitable.

So I think I've decided to at least TRY the day care there. Maybe on Tuesday.

After swim lessons, Milo had a nap and then it was time (finally) to take him SLEDDING. Michael thinks I'm crazy but humored me. The first hill we tried didn't quite work. I had fun pulling Milo up (he laying on his tummy in the sled) but then we couldn't get the sled to go down. Hmmm. So then we walked to a much bigger hill. Michael made me do a test run by myself, he was so worried I was going to injure the Peanut. But it went fine. Sadly, by that time, Milo was getting pretty cold, so we only went down twice. I don't think it was really fast enough for him to understand how fun sledding is. Michael sure isn't convinced, though he was kind enough to snap some pictures of us at least.


I wonder if that counted as exercise?

Then I got to take a nice hot bath with my book while Michael fed Milo. Then Milo came into the bath with me to get cleaned up, and then Michael swooped him away to get dressed while I showered. Then Michael went out for some sanity alone time to a sushi dinner and a movie while I got Milo ready for bed. AND HE DIDN'T EVEN CRY. Just went right down and hasn't stirred since. (knock on wood).

And then I hired a task rabbit to plan our vacation. Task Rabbit is this amazing web site I found out about. You can post ANY job at all...running errands, doing research, staining your deck, moving your couch, assembling your ikea furniture...ANYTHING. And you say how much you're willing to pay for it. And then these "task rabbits" bid on your job. What?

I had started to research infant-friendly vacations earlier this week, as Michael and I were trying to see if we could really afford a vacation during school break this March, given that we're also committed to go to Denmark this summer so Milo can meet the other half of his family. And I got lost in the internet for two hours and came out the other side no closer to booking a vacation.

So I posted a task asking for vacation research. I gave them a budget and the list of things we wanted to do and needed at a hotel, and I got three bids from different task rabbits within the hour. I chose the one with the best reviews and the more affordable bid, and told her that yes, I would pay her $32 for her to do hours of internet research and send 5-7 options that fit our criteria and budget. WHAT?

I'm so excited to see if it works. And I'm now thinking of all the other tedious tasks I can outsource.

Which is probably not good for our budget talks.

Anyway, I better get to bed because I have to be up EARLY tomorrow to feed Milo before heading to Worcester for the photography workshop.  It's ALL day and will be Michael's longest stretch to date with Milo. I hope it's worth 9-10 hours of my very valuable and rare free time.

Here's hoping for 8 hours of sleep starting in 8 minutes...

'night 'night.
xoxo

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Mission (Im)possible

I feel like I'm slowly crawling out of the black hole of sleepless new-motherhood I've been wallowing in for the last...few...months. Okay, 7. And a half. Today, we cleaned the house. Well, most of it. I organized the snack cupboard (donating most of the really bad junk food to the dorm kitchen) while Michael organized the pots and pans. We collected Milo's toys in bins and (finally, sadly) dismantled our Christmas tree and decorations. Which meant we got our kitchen back and can eat at our table if we so choose. I cleaned the bathroom and filled pill cases for the next THREE weeks AND I went and got my blood test this morning. We played with Milo and Michael got groceries AND I made a healthy dinner (only 8 WW points). And then I went out for a drink with some girlfriends.

It sounds pretty much impossible that all that fit into one day, doesn't it?!

At least, that's how I used to feel. But then again, I kept telling myself, Hey, I'm not the first woman to give birth, nor the first one to go seven months without more than five hours of sleep at a time. And somehow, most of those other mothers seem able to keep their home reasonably clean and to eat things that don't come out of the freezer. But then I always think there's some big conspiracy where everyone else is just lying to themselves when actually they're all eating easy mac and wearing dirty socks they picked up off the floor that passed the smell test.

But look--I did it. And Milo went to bed right at 8:30 on the dot. After eating solids and patching and everything. Well, okay, he never made it out of pajamas today. But they call them 'sleep and plays' for a reason!

And I've been thinking about how hard it is to get to the gym with our dorm duty schedule, and yesterday we stopped by the day care at the Boston Sports Club to get a tour and check it out. There's a decent infant room and she said there's usually two babies per staff member at a time. They have some nice toys that I'm pretty sure don't get cleaned well enough or often enough. (She said they usually get sanitized daily.) Which is pretty funny, because Milo will lick everything in there in under 20 minutes. You get two hours of child care for $11 (or you can get a monthly membership for $50). At first I was like--Great, can I get one hour for $5.50 then, because I don't need to work out for two hours!?

But then, like 7 hours later, I looked at Michael as we were sitting on the couch and said, "Wait a minute. Unlimited babysitting (in two hour chunks) for $50 a month! I can go work out and read in the hot tub and bring my laptop and work in the cafe!" Which sounds practically like a vacation.

That's a really good deal! And would totally mean I could go to the gym and exercise on a regular basis.

If I could stomach leaving Milo in a germ fest with other kids and staff that probably gets paid minimum wage.

But then again, I'm the mom that lets Milo crawl on the floor and claims that whatever he encounters is building his resistance. To something. I don't want to be crazy protective mom. And chances are, he'll be totally safe in there for 2 hours. I mean, they don't even change diapers. They page me to come change his diaper. And they don't allow food of any kind in there, so they're not feeding him. (Which makes this seem like very expensive child care.) So the worst that can happen is he picks up a lot of germs and maybe some bigger infant crawls on top of him and calls him four eyes and then he comes home and gets us all sick.

I'll have to think on that.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

This was a good day.

My friend Kate gave me this line-a-day journal. She knows I like to write and hoard memories and also that I have not very much free time. So you can see this was a thoughtful gift. Only I lack the ability to write about anything in one line. Seriously. So far, most of my entries leak into next year's space. Maybe next year I'll be much better at editing.

Anyway, tonight, this is what I'm going to write in my journal: This was a good day.

Okay, that's a total lie. Because I'm going to have to talk about the swimming lessons and the healthy dinner as well and I'm not sure how it's going to fit. So you get the long version.


Today was Milo's first swim lesson. Clearly, he doesn't need lessons, per se. But the next stage of the mom's group/playgroup we had been going to was only offered on the days I work. And since quitting my job wasn't a very practical option, I asked Michael if he'd rather do swim lessons or music class with the baby. Surprisingly, he chose swim lessons.

But he thought it'd be more fun if, at least the first time, we all went together. Which is how we wound up heading to the gym for swim lessons this morning. Next week, Michael is on his own since I'm going to an all-day photo workshop in Worcester, so I suggested he do a "practice run" taking Milo into the men's locker room and getting ready with him. I had worn my suit under my clothes and just needed to throw my clothes in a locker. And hope no one thought they were cool enough to steal, since I can't find my gym lock. Because, you know, I haven't been to the gym since I was 6 months preggo. Which was...over a year ago. Sigh.

Anyway, I take my clothes off and notice something really weird going on with my bathing suit. It feels like there's something bunched up in the front of my...um, crotch. Sorry. There's no more appropriate word here. I look down surreptitiously, trying not to draw attention to myself and gasp. (Way to not draw attention.) It looks, I kid you not, like I have...um...well. Something stuffed in my pants. Bathing suit. Crotch. WTF? I leave my stuff on the floor and head for the bathroom to examine this wardrobe malfunction in a more private setting. I pull the suit off and sure enough, there's something bunched up down there, but inside the bathing suit. It feels like a sock or something. It's very big. And lumpy. There's no way it's part of the suit but I can't figure out how it got in there or how to get it out. I feel all along the seams to see if there's a hole. Nothing. I look at the chest of the suit, thinking maybe there's meant to be bra padding that's somehow worked its way down there. But no. I can't feel any holes that would allow something to travel into the crotch of my bathing suit. Well.

There's not much I can do here. It's not like I brought a back up suit. So I do the only thing I can think of: smush the lumpy mass from the front into the bottom of the suit, so it's mostly out of sight but makes me walk a little funny.

A good start to swim lessons, I'd say.

Somehow it takes Michael even longer to make it out of the men's locker room so I have time to check out the pool deck and realize there aren't really any other tiny babies around. So when Michael and Milo finally emerge, I go and ask the swim lessons lady, who is easily identified by the t-shirt she wears, which screams  "Swim academy." Ooooh. That makes it sound serious. From now on, we'll call it swim academy then, shall we?

Anyway, she says they're just getting started late and it turns out there's only one other little girl in the class.

You wanna guess what her name is??!!?

Go ahead. Guess.

Okay, you're not gonna guess so I'll tell you. It's MILA. I swear I'm not making this up. It's basically the female version of Milo, pronounced the same and everything. What a weird world. She's definitely older than Milo though, maybe 10-12 months. Another boy joined us as well, though he seemed a lot older. It's okay, Milo. You're ahead of your time. Don't be intimidated.

He wasn't though. I think Michael may have been, but Milo was just fine. I nearly had to clasp my hands to restrain myself from trying to jump in on Michael's Milo bonding time. Hey, at least I'm aware of my tendency to jump in and dominate. Anyway, the swim instructor gave us a little rubber duck for Milo to chase in the water, which was pretty fun. She showed us some good ways to hold Milo. We stood in a circle and sang the "hello baby" song which is the same one we learned at mommy group with some words switched out so that "we're glad you came to play" became "we're glad to see you swim." I felt pleased that we knew this song already.

Then we sang "If you're happy and you know it." Only she did things like suggest we blow bubbles if we're happy, and go under water. Michael looked at me, unsure how to play along. I got her attention and said, somewhat apologetically but also in a voice that indicated she might be crazy to think otherwise, "Um, Milo hasn't ever gone under water yet." I mean, that's normal, right? He's 7 months old! To be honest, I kind of thought even swim academy was a little silly. I can't really see a reason to also dunk him under water. And I didn't think it would be called for in the first few minutes of the class for 6 month + kiddos. She said she'd teach us how to do it, though, and I got kind of excited.

So after a bit, she came over and gave us the following detailed instructions for putting our son under water for the first time: "Blow on his face and he'll close his eyes and mouth. Dunk him either straight down or scoop him towards you to avoid water going up his nose. And whatever you do, when he comes up, smile REALLY big and laugh and kiss him and sound really excited."

Okay then. That sounds easy enough.

Except we often blow on Milo's face, because he thinks it's super funny. Only it makes him OPEN his mouth really wide. She assured us he would close his mouth. We practiced a few times. Sure enough, he opened his mouth and closed his eyes. We called her over and demonstrated. She acted like we just weren't "ready" yet, and were just sort of using Milo as an excuse. I asked her what would happen if he went under with his mouth open. As in, would he drown?

She assured me he wouldn't, so I figured we might as well give it a shot. Michael gamely got ready to go. He counted to three and then paused. "I can't do it," he said.

"Do you want me to do it?" See? I asked first before jumping in! He happily handed Milo over and I said, "Onnnneeee....twoooo...." at which point Milo smiled widely because usually this means he's about to get tickled or thrown in the air or something equally fun. Instead of "three," I blew in his face and dunked him under. I forgot to scoop.

He didn't seem to mind. He came up looking a little confused but otherwise unfazed. No crying. The instructor made the cheesy happy noises that I forgot about. I was busy being shocked that my son hadn't, in fact, drowned. Then I did it again just to check. Smiles all around. Wow. Look at our boy. Fearless that one. Go Milo.

She switched activities then, so Michael didn't get to dunk Milo and instead we sat him on the wall and played Humpty Dumpty, which involved having him fall off the wall into the water. Um, who comes up with these games? Isn't that a little fear-inducing? Oh well. Milo hardly paid attention anyway. He was busy trying to capture all the rubber duckies. I'm telling you--he's a toy hoarder.

Once that was over, I encouraged Michael to take a turn dunking Milo because "next week you're going to be here on your own." Turns out that's a pretty compelling reason. So Michael DID dunk Milo and it all went smoothly. And then I dunked him again just because, hey, it's kind of fun.

And then swim lessons were over. (Did I forget to mention that I also got yelled at for taking pictures as Michael and Milo climbed in the pool? Yeah, apparently pictures at the pool are a real no-no. So I guess there will be no record of Milo's first swim academy experience. You'd think for how much we're paying per HALF HOUR "lesson", they'd let us take a few pictures but no. sigh.)

Here's what I got before I let on that I could hear her telling me photos weren't allowed:


 

Anyway, by the time we got home Milo was really tired so down he went for a nap which left me time to prepare tonight's dinner. One of my New Year's resolutions is to work on being healthier, which includes eating healthier foods. In fact, Michael and I are doing weight watchers, thanks to a fantastic little iphone app called Value Diary which let's us follow the plan without paying all that money. I swear, that iphone is really paying for itself!

As an aside, before starting to cook, I changed out of my wet suit to take a shower. And would you believe that when I took the bathing suit off and shook it upside down, a SOCK fell out? I still don't know how or where it got in there, but on the bright side now I don't have to dispose of the lumpy crotch bathing suit! Sweet.

Anyway, eating healthier requires cooking. So I made a deal with Michael that if he'd pick healthy recipes and buy the groceries, I'd make it for dinner the next night. But I figured starting on a weekend was a good idea, just to get everything off on the right foot. So I made Honey Chipotle Chicken from a healthy food blog I found, with the idea of using it in tacos with some low-fat cheese and cilantro and a side of my own Asian Slaw recipe. To make it even more challenging/fun, I decided to try to make it while wearing Milo in a baby carrier. I even held up the ingredients like the ginger and the garlic for him to smell. He tried to eat the cilantro, so I held off on introducing him to the chipotle peppers. All in all, it was a successful experience and something that's pretty good for a busy mom, because you can do a lot of it ahead of time (say, during baby's nap) and then just heat it up (if desired) and throw it on a plate in five minutes.

Here's what it looked like:

And you know what? Michael gave the dinner a 4 out of 5 stars! I think there was a bit too much ginger in the slaw, and the tacos could have used some pico de gallo. But as it was, I put the Asian slaw in the tacos and MAN were they good. Total WW points for the 2-taco dinner: 16. ish. As near as I can figure. Not OUTSTANDING. But waaaaay better than the dinner we had at Yard House on Thursday night, which was more than 50 points. As a reference, I get 33 points to spend for the day.

Anyway, today, I still have enough points for some of that toffee crack that's left over. AND I'm going to go take it (and some raspberries, which are point-free) into a hot bath before heading to bed by 11:00. Because I can.

I don't know where the day disappeared, since the swim academy and the dinner somehow kind of took up the whole day. Granted we all stayed in bed until 10. And I took an hour-long nap. But still.

Oh, there was a fair bit of tickling and giggling involved too. It was a good day, spent with my family.

Tomorrow, we are taking down the Christmas tree and cleaning the house, because as much as I'm practicing "letting go" I'm also practicing asking for what I need. Which currently includes 2-3 hours of cleaning the house with my husband's help so I can feel just a bit less oppressed by the crap and maybe, possibly, have someone over without issuing a disclaimer beforehand. So we'll see if we can somehow make that a good family day too. =)

Friday, January 13, 2012

Starfish and Spit Bubbles

I found out (via email) on Tuesday that I didn't get the Co-Director of College Counseling job I interviewed for. I was really disappointed at first. It was such a great opportunity and parts of it seemed challenging in that really exciting kind of way. But then I looked at my son, who was happily blowing spit bubbles in my general direction, waiting for me to take him out on a running-errands adventure. And there was really nothing to do but shrug it off. I had to admit that I wasn't totally sure I wanted a job that would require 60+ hours a week, since they didn't seem too excited about my suggestion of bringing Milo to work with me. (I'm kidding. Sort of.) Plus, it's really hard to wallow in the face of happy little spit bubbles.

God I love that kid.

So off we went to run errands, with Milo in our Beco carrier, which is super fun because I can hold his hand and he can see everything and then he can just fall asleep when he wants to and I still have my hands free. It was one of those errand-running jaunts that could have been really frustrating. We went to Wal-mart first, because I thought they'd have nearly everything I needed in one place, and I figured I could minimize the whole getting Milo out of the car seat and into the carrier and then out of the carrier and into the car seat thing. Only they didn't have ANYTHING I needed. Which, like I said, could have been really frustrating were it not for the fact that Milo was being super cute and cozy and it felt like quality Milo time even though all we were doing was running non productive errands.

Did I mention how much I love him?

Luckily, we had better luck at Target and wound up heading home with nearly everything we needed, and just in time to be on duty. Unfortunately, Michael was out of town on a business trip, so it was just me and Milo on duty in the dorm. Juggling Milo's needs with those of 28 teenagers isn't the easiest thing in the world but I'm getting into a groove with it. Basically the 28 teenagers are old enough to wait. It works out pretty well. For Milo at least. I worked really extra hard to time all the feeding/naps etc so that he'd be well-rested and well-fed by the time I had to go to my dorm parent meeting. Unfortunately, I forgot to send Milo the memo. Or maybe it's just because he can't read yet or something. In any case, instead of going to sleep when I put him down for his nap, he decided to play some game that involved a lot of squealing and spit bubbles for 40 minutes. And then fell asleep 15 minutes before I had to wake him up to go to the meeting. sigh. I seriously considered leaving him here, but only for a few seconds. If only that video monitor had better range.

So he was a little on the cranky side for the meeting. Which, for Milo, meant that after patiently sitting through the first hour, he started to wiggle and babble and whine a little. It was time for him to eat and there was no end in sight at the meeting, so I decided to try to latch him on and guess what? We did it without flashing anyone for once. I don't even think most of my colleagues noticed. Sweet. And to think mere months ago I couldn't latch him on without yelping in pain.

Anyway, I managed to feed him his solids and his vitamin D, bathe him, get him into jammies, and read him a book AND get him to bed all in between doing the dorm check-ins and having better quality time with the boarding students than I do when Michael is actually here. Crazy. The thing is, I got back and I really wanted to wake Milo up and have him come hang out and watch a movie with me. Maybe make some popcorn. Snuggle on the couch under a big fluffy blanket.

Totally normal, right?

Don't worry, I restrained myself and did some work instead. I was feeling pretty proud of myself when I headed to bed at 1 am. It was a really busy, full day and I handled it all.

And then I noticed that the house actually looked WORSE than it had the day before, which--let me tell you--was really saying something. The laundry the nanny did on Monday hadn't gotten folded. (What else is new?) The dishes she had run were still in the dishwasher. The ornaments were still on the tree. (I'm never getting my kitchen back.) Every inch of the floor and counter space in the kitchen had stuff covering it. The baby bathtub still had water in it, and there were baby clothes and a wet diaper on the bathroom floor. I had to push some cookbooks and clothes over to Michael's side of the bed to make room for sleeping.

But on the way there, I stopped to peer in at Milo, sleeping peacefully in his crib. His legs and arm were splayed out so that he looked like a starfish.

And it didn't matter that my house was a mess and the tree is still up and my work didn't get finished and we didn't patch Milo's eye and Michael wasn't here to make me feel better about not getting that job and hearing about it in an email.

At the end of the day, we had done everything really important that needed to get done. We did it together.We lived to tell the tale, only a little worse for the wear.

And that felt good enough.

OOOOhhhhh is that little starfish good for me.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Lazy Post

Lazy wouldn't be one of the first words I'd use to describe myself. After all, I have 2 jobs and a 7-month old baby. And a husband. (I'll refrain from the obvious joke there.) I take care of the bills and the cars and the cleaning and the birthday presents/cards and travel planning and memory keeping and appointment making and  paperwork filing, etc etc etc.

But I have to admit, there's also a pretty long list of things I really SHOULD do, that I don't. Because I'm too lazy. Or they're too inconvenient. (And I'm too lazy.) Some of them are a little appalling and some are really bad for my health. I figure if I write them down and post them publicly, perhaps I'll be shamed into action.

But I'm not holding my breath.

  • Taking my evening pills. Oh, there are some I'm very good about--the birth control, for one. But I'm supposed to take a prenatal and DHA supplement (because I'm nursing) and a B12 vitamin (because I'm severely deficient) and an iron supplement (ditto). The problem is that three of them come in individual blister packs. And not the easy kind where you can just push the pill through from the foil backing. No, these require a nail cutter to slice open the blister pack, and then fingernails to peel it open and individually pop out each pill. Are you kidding me? By the time I'm getting ready for bed at 2 am, that's just too much work. I usually tell myself I'll do it tomorrow. Or that I'll sit down when I have a minute (ha) and get them all out ahead of time. Because I'm really good at taking them when they're in a pill case all ready to go. So, yeah, basically I'm too lazy. And it's not really cool because without those pills, I'm even more tired. And Milo is even less likely to get the iron he needs.
  • Which brings me to one of my more appalling points: I'm too lazy to feed my baby solid foods, iron-fortified cereal in particular. The pediatrician says he should be getting two meals of baby cereal daily, for the iron content. There are two obstacles here. The first is that this requires milk. And that means finding time to pump. Which doesn't happen often enough (see point 3). So we never have enough and I'm always "saving" it for the nanny to use. So I don't want to warm up just a little bit to put in some cereal. The other problem is that it's a lot more convenient to nurse Milo than to feed him solids, especially if it's a day (like most) where I'm trying to fit in 30 to-do items and errands. I can nurse him anywhere. Feeding him solids at the post office? Really impractical. And we seem to be traveling a lot. So, yeah, basically this means I'm too lazy to feed my baby. #momoftheyear
  • Pumping. Agh. I hate it. I've tried to see it in a positive light as some quiet time alone. Only it's not quiet (shhlllup....shhhlllup...shhhlluuup) and it's not comfortable and I never seem to be able to type or do work while I'm pumping like everyone else can. And finding the time to do it is hard. I need to pump once a day while the nanny is here, but that time is the only time I can be in work meetings, and I really need to complete 24 hours of work in the 18 hours a week I have the nanny. So. Then I try to pump at night, about 2 hours after Milo's last feeding. But that's my most productive time of the day so it often escapes my mind until I'm getting ready for bed sometime after midnight. At which point I'm too tired. Or worried that Milo is going to wake up starving soon and I won't have any milk left for him. Plus, we travel a lot and it's ridiculous to bring all of that equipment with you. Let me tell you, I give a WHOLE LOT of credit to moms that are exclusive pumpers. Whoa. That's devotion there.
  • Giving Milo his D vitamins. The pediatrician told us way back in the beginning that Milo should be getting D vitamins, because he wouldn't spend much time outside, and we live in New England and yadda yadda yadda. I'll be honest with you--I don't remember what Vitamin D does. But I know it's important. Hold on, I'll go wikipedia it. Okay, apparently it supports bone health and guards against everything from Cancer to MS to death. Hmm. We've given it to him maybe 5 times in the last 7 months. The first time, he didn't like it and we didn't try again for a while. When we did, he took it fine but wanted to help and thus wound up needing a bath (after just finishing one). It's one of my resolutions, but I have to admit it's only worked 2-3 times. We're working on it.
  • Giving Milo baths. Don't judge me. He doesn't get that dirty yet! For a while, I would just bring him in at the end of my bath or shower, which was working pretty well as long as Michael was home to make the transition. Then there was a pretty long period where he was only getting a bath about once a week. Possibly less during certain weeks. This was partially because we were trying really hard to stick with a 7:30 bedtime and Michael gets home from work around 6. So getting us all dinner and then a bath, pjs, book for Milo was nearly impossible, especially when we were on duty. We kept saying we'd do it the next day. But it's easy to lose track of the days and then all of a sudden you're sniffing your son to rate his spit-up smell and thinking that you can't really remember the last time he had a bath but maybe for now a quick wipe will do.
  • Patching/taping/exercises. This is probably the worst one. Milo is supposed to wear an adhesive eye patch for 1-2 hours a day to make sure he is using his weaker eye and strengthening it. Another eye doctor suggested taping over the middle half of both eye glass lenses as often as possible to ensure Milo is using both eyes consistently. The same doctor gave us a book of physical exercises to do daily with Milo because apparently your eyes develop their ability to work together the way the left and right side of your body do. So we're supposed to do exercises that make sure he's using both sides of his body consistently. We are lacking in all three of these things. The nanny is pretty good about the patching, and he usually gets at least an hour on the days she is here. I'm good about it when we're not traveling...we've patched all but maybe 4 days since we started. But I've only done the taping and exercises once. I really want to get in a routine with it, but our schedule changes daily so that's really hard. The taping...well. I only want to do it if we're hanging around the house and not on duty. The glasses don't phase me but dealing with questions about patches and taped-over eye glasses? Well, let's just say it's easier not to. #momoftheyear
  • Laundry. Don't tell our nanny, but she's pretty much the only one that does laundry in our house. It's awful. Sometimes she won't get a chance to fold it before she leaves on Thursday and it's usually still there waiting for her when she returns on Monday. I swear it's not on purpose...I just don't have the time.
  • Eating/Cooking. Well, I do eat. Sort of. Sometimes. But not well. And sometimes not until about 2:00 pm. And then it might be Burger King or Little Schoolboy cookies. Which is bad for so many reasons, not the least of which is that I'm not taking my pills and Milo is supposed to be getting most of his nutrition from my breastmilk. And I'd much rather pop a "healthy" frozen meal in the microwave for 4 1/2 minutes than try to cook a meal. Or even pasta. A friend suggested that I make my own baby food, which she claimed was really easy. And I'm sure it is. For her. I can't even dig out my food processor in less than five minutes. Another friend suggested I use my crock pot to make easy meals, like just "throw a chicken in with some broth and vegetables." The thing is, you have to clean the chicken first and cut the vegetables and by that time I will have eaten my arm off or fallen asleep.
  • Exercising. I seriously do not have time. Or energy. Or motivation. I guess it turns out I'm too lazy. I used to be really good about going with a friend a few mornings a week. But then I stopped getting any sleep and that just seems impossible now. I want to at least take walks with Milo but I rarely have time and it's super cold out now. I suggested we get a wii fit, but Michael says we don't have enough room in our apartment. Oh well.
  • Filing. But, really, I'm too lazy to care. I put the papers on top of the files until the cabinet doors won't stay shut and then I sit down and do it all at once. This happens roughly every two years. But I don't really have a problem with that.
  • Dry cleaning. When items REALLY need dry cleaning or mending, I stick them on a shelf in my closet "for the next time I go." This happens roughly every three years. At which point, the pants don't fit anymore anyway.
  • Ironing. I've just committed to not buying clothes that require ironing.
  • Changing my sheets. I don't even know how often normal people change their sheets. Weekly? Monthly? That's probably too long, right? Well I only have one set I really like and they were really expensive so that means I have to take them off, wash and dry them, and replace them in one day. Before I want to go to bed. I'm not going to put in print how many times a year this happens, but you can assume it's not weekly. Or monthly.
  • Get blood tests. This is another appalling one. I have a thyroid condition that needs to be carefully monitored with a blood test every 6-8 weeks. It took months to diagnose because the main symptom was exhaustion. hahahaha. Which is a symptom of pretty much everything, including having two jobs. We had to be extra careful while I was pregnant and I was supposed to get a follow-up 6 weeks post partum. Milo is seven months old now and it has yet to happen. Because it needs to happen first thing in the morning before I do anything, including taking my thyroid pill. But that means getting up super early and getting Milo up super early and taking my baby with me to get my blood drawn. And there just never seems to be a good time for that.
  • Recycling. This is really hard to put in print because I know it is so so lame. But I don't recycle in my home. I like the idea of recycling and if I'm on campus or out and about I'll always use the recycling bins I see. But at home, I have one trash can. Even that doesn't get emptied often enough. When I get packages, I open them in the mail room, where there's a recycling bin and then carry the items back to my apartment piecemeal. Because once that amazon box gets to my apartment, it takes so very long for it to get broken down and taken to the recycling. The soda bottles never make it. Forget about things like vegetable cans. My nanny recycles for me. Which makes me feel really good on the days she is here. Until it makes me feel really awful and guilty because I'm too lazy to do it myself even though I believe in it. I swear to god, if I had room for another trash can I would totally recycle. As it is, I have to go through the trash on the nights before the nanny comes to make sure there aren't any water bottles laying on top of the trash. Because she will totally dig them out and recycle them and then I am an even bigger ass.
There you have it. I'm sure there are more, but these are probably the big ones. (But think of all the things I DO do. I swear, I'm really busy, like every minute of the day.)

But I'm going to work on these for 2012. Meanwhile, maybe you want to share something you know you should do but don't??

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Random Bits

Random bits tonight:
  • I'm reading Anne Lamott's Operating Instructions: a Journal of My Son's First Year now, and what a relief it is to read. Anne is a wonderful writer...painstakingly truthful, putting into print things I would hardly dare tell my best friend. It's a joy, especially when paired right after Momma Zen. I highly recommend both to new parents.
  • Speaking of which, I've taken 3 baths (with books) in two days and feel more human than I have in months. This, I'll need to keep in mind, is a fairly easy and flexible fix to feeling a bit, shall we say, edgy.
  • On an unrelated (to anything) note, Michael just had an entire conversation with his new fish finder (his birthday present for the next ten years.) Both sides of the conversation, in fact. Turns out it's a very polite fish finder.
  • For New Year's Eve/Michael's birthday, we went to visit friends in the Amherst/Northampton area, and Gina came with us. We all love it so much out there, that it immediately feels like vacation. We stopped at Michael's favorite liquor store, which is like...Barnes and Noble for beer lovers. If you're a book lover, I mean. Anyway, we went to Longhorn for dinner right after, and already we felt like we were on vacation and we hadn't even gotten to the hotel yet. Milo was entertaining himself in his high chair with the awesome floppy seat cover (with toy loops!) and between the liquor store and the restaurant, abotu 42 people came over to tell us how adorable he was. I think the glasses are a real "it" factor here...who knew? If only that sentiment would carry on through the middle school years. (sigh) One waitress--not our waitress, mind you--even let him stick his hand in her mouth. Weird. Anyway, we continued on to our lovely hotel--where they remembered Milo and I from a few weeks ago and gave us extra free water and set up a pack and play for us. The next day, we all slept in, went and got breakfast, and then Michael and Milo took another nap together while Gina and I ran errands. Then, we took Milo SWIMMING! I don't know why, but I found this irrationally joy-producing. I wasn't sure how Milo would like it, but he does like baths so I figured the odds were in our favor. He looked a little skeptical while we got in, but then he just acted all nonchalant, like, "what? This is just a big bath tub. I totally have one of these at home and do this all the time." Seriously. He floated and kicked and splashed and I had to be the one to say it was time to get out after a half hour or so, since he felt a bit cold. I can't say he LOVED it, because I had to make funny faces at him to get him to smile for the camera, but he did seem to enjoy himself quite a bit. And it was good exercise for both of us. Okay, that's a stretch. But it made me really happy to spend such quality activity time with him. Maybe there are some swim lessons in our future.
  • New Year's Eve was...telling. We are new parents, after all. Oh, okay, if we're being honest, Michael and I were pretty lame about it last year too. And the year before. What can I say? We're homebodies. We did go out for a REALLY amazing sushi dinner first, and then made room for some dessert from this little Italian bakery, and then Gina came to our room and we had some wine and cheese and crackers and played the question game. As in, taking turns asking things like "What one thing would you change about the last year?" and "what one place do you want to take Milo this year?" It was delicious fun for Gina and I, and probably fairly painful for Michael, but he's a good sport. We started dragging a little by 11:00 though and we weren't sure we'd make it. Meanwhile, Milo was in rare form. Awake and goofy and not having anything to do with the pack and play. So when midnight came, he was there for the hugging and kissing and I have to say, I was a little glad for it. But we all went immediately to sleep afterward.
  • On New Year's day, Kate and Prateek came to the hotel and we took over the lobby to play the Danish dice game. This was Milo's first year (though his second game, since we're spreading the Danish love as much as possible) and MAN did he want in on the action. He followed the dice play with a hawk's eye. We better watch that kid--he might turn into a little gamer gambler. I'd prefer poker if he's going in that direction, but that's just me. Eventually I had to take him out of the high chair so he could really play, and he did try to help me out by eating some of my claimed presents so no one else would want to steal them. But it didn't work--Prateek stole one anyway! From a BABY! With BAD EYES! hahaha. I had to explain to Peanut that all's fair in love and the dice game!
  • He made up for it though--he and Kate gave Michael and Milo the COOLEST BOOK EVER, which is a version of The Little Prince with POP-UP features. It's brilliant engineering and will be SO FUN...when Milo stops eating books. Until then, Michael will carefully watch over it.
  • We had another nice meal before heading out of town and back home, where Michael had a nice "guys' night" birthday celebration with our neighborhood dads. 
  • Michael had off on Monday, and I got up with Milo and let him sleep in until 11! And then I put Milo down for a nap and Michael woke up and I decided to take a nap. That's pretty much how our day went--we all took turns taking naps (and baths!) and then we went out to ANOTHER nice (steak) dinner to celebrate Michael's (actual) birthday and Milo's seven-month birthday. I can not BELIEVE Milo is that old already. I want to capture and keep every little moment, gesture, and face of his. Michael tells me I should try to live in the moment more and stop obsessing about documenting everything. I wish I could explain to him that it's not possible in a way he'd understand. It's like hoarding for me, this memory keeping. It is as instinctual as breathing, and feels nearly as important. I don't know WHY I feel I might forget everything important about everything, but it terrifies me in a deep and desperate way. Which reminds me, I have yet to make the handprint/footprint ornament! agh. See?
  • Today was another good day. I stayed up WAY too late, which was too bad, because Milo decided to sleep for 7+ hours but I only got 4 of them. But after nursing him, he went back to sleep. I heard him wake up a couple of hours later, but he was playing with this GENIUS/annoying flower chime toy in his crib so I drifted back off to sleep. I woke up once 45 minutes later to find him still playing. The next time I woke up, I checked the monitor to find he had put himself down for a nap. I finally got up to shower at 11 and he was decent enough to wait until I was done before waking up. Then we both got dressed and went to visit Michael at work and take him out to lunch. About three different colleagues of his told us that they or someone they knew had a lazy eye as well. (Two positive outcomes and one that never resolved even after surgery.) Who knew it was so common??
  • Anyway, it's nearly 1 am now and it'd be silly to stay up any later, just in case Milo decides to sleep a long stretch again. Michael gave him a bottle before putting him down at 10:30 and he's been sleeping fitfully since then, so it doesn't look likely but you never know. Tomorrow is back to work after having nearly two weeks off, and I'm totally and completely in denial. This has been the nicest two weeks, with so much quality family time and practice just being with Milo. I guess this means I'll get to practice being in a more challenging context. I'm sure it'll be good for me.
Stay tuned for the new year's resolutions...

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Pirate Outing

I was so surprised and touched by all the thoughtful and encouraging responses to my last post that I went back and read it again. And as I was reading, I realized I did know why I cared so much what people thought of Milo and his pirate eyes. Somehow, I still think Milo and I are the same person. Is this true of all mothers? You give birth to your baby, but a crucial part of them remains a crucial part of you? Or am I just romanticizing? I did not want to be the mother who misplaced her own life goals and ambitions onto her children, but I see in some ways I already am that mother, so entangled is my identity with Milo's. This might not be so bad if I were not also a perfectionist. Not the useful type either. I am the type desperate to be seen as utterly competent in every way. I need to exceed expectations and be showered with validating compliments. I cling to a reputation I've created for myself in my head. I have the strongest work ethic. I am the most reliable. I can juggle 14 balls at once, and keep a clean house as well. While sometimes true, these are all illusions of the most damaging kind. Remember that line I quoted in yesterday's post: "save your loved ones from the cruelty of your own impossible standards and your hard-hearted disappointment."

Right. So the thing I realized as I was re-reading yesterday's post was this: I am totally making this about me. Ew. But true. I can make a compelling argument that I simply don't want Milo to have the negative experiences that came from growing up with this eye condition. And this is certainly true, but not the whole story.  I can also explain that I have yet to take him out in public wearing an eye patch because I don't want to subject him to the uncomfortable stares and comments, but who am I kidding? As another line in this book gently reminds me, "At this age, your child doesn't have the kind of ruminating, obsessive mind that you have (pg 71)... We live fiercely fortified by the illusion of inalienable rights, among them the right to perfection...[we divide the world into] the good and bad, the better and worse...the perfect and imperfect...the flower and the weed...the you and me.  The world, of course, does not really divide that way, only our egocentric views do. By good, we mean good for me. By wrong, we mean wrong to me. Ask your child to distinguish between a daisy and a dandelion to see that there is no distinction at all." (pg 76)

While it is true that I want the best for Milo, it is also true that I desperately want Milo to be the best, smartest, most perfect and admired baby of all babies. Because, you know, that would say a lot about me.

Meanwhile, Milo, right now, is fine. He is more than fine. He is the happiest baby I've known. As far as I can tell, he is utterly unfazed by this eye condition he may or may not have. He does not notice the looks people give him when his eyes are askew. In fact, I'm not even sure that people do give him such looks, or even notice that his eyes are askew. What I do know is that I watch people as we walk by and Milo causes a ripple effect. I'm not kidding. He's that cute. He leaves a wake of people who turn and look at him as they walk by. They ooh and ahh and come to see and touch and fawn. They call over their colleagues to come and look. Not one has noticed or asked about his turned-in eye. Even his glasses have elicited only high-pitched compliments of cuteness.

This is what I know for sure: Milo is not the least bit worried that kids are going to make fun of him in kindergarten. He will never remember wearing a pirate patch, except in the memories we re-tell to him in the story of his life. He dislikes having the patch and glasses put on, but he is willing to move past that. He is sitting in front of me, waiting for me to mimic his smacking lips. That is all.

I am the one who is obsessing, creating the "problems" from the "trouble." I am keeping us indoors during patch hours. I am worried that he won't like reading and thus won't like school and won't be successful and holy shit. My kid's only six months old and I've already decided his whole life is doomed. Which will clearly reflect poorly on me as a parent.

It's absolutely still true that I only want what's best for him. I just need to learn to stop pretending that I know how every tomorrow will unfold as a result of today and focus on what's best for him right now. In this moment.

Which is clearly some tongue-clucking and lip-smacking. That's all. I just need to be here with him. That's really all he needs and wants from me. And it's so simple to give to him. And so selfish not to.

And beyond all this is another truth (from page 100): my child will learn nearly everything by watching, hearing, and imitating me. If I want my child to learn to handle difficult emotions and overcome fears, I'll have to do likewise. If I want Milo to feel comfortable in his own skin, look straight at the camera without squinting his weak eye to activate his "good" eye, and to bravely meet the gazes of curious strangers dead-on...he will learn that from watching me. Well, okay, not yet. Because I don't do that yet. But, like my friend Meryl said...we get the kid we need. I now have all the inspiration and motivation in the world to, at the very least, put on a brave face and fake it. Because the last thing I want is to teach my son to feel less than, to hide from the camera, to stay inside when he's not looking his best.

You know, as I'm typing all of this, I'm realizing this isn't the first time I've had this epiphany. I live in a dorm full of 28 teenage girls. And time and time again, I've had to stop myself from making self-deprecating remarks about my body. I've had to reach for "being healthy" instead of "losing weight." I've forced myself not to fix my hair and put on contacts before opening my door in the morning. I come to dorm meetings in my pajamas. Not because it is comfortable--although it is--but because I want these girls to live with a real woman, one with frizzy hair and all, so that they get a quiet message that they can do the same. If not today, in high school, then one day. They can revel in their messy hair and naked face and mismatched socks and talk about their geeky days with fond affection for their former selves. They can snort when they laugh and laugh until they pee and open themselves up to know and be known.

But none of that has been hard for me, truthfully. Because I was never the popular, pretty girl. I somehow came to terms with that long ago. But my eyes? I can't quite say I've come to terms with them, although we've been on more friendly terms the last few years or so.

Pretty is subjective. Crossed eyes are not.

So yes, I think we get the kids we need. And yes, it seems more important now than ever before to have some perspective and some confidence and some balls. Because that's what I want my son to see and to learn and to mimic.

And so yes, my little Pirate and I ventured out running errands today, patch and all. And would you believe that was the highlight of the day?!

I had gotten a Christmas gift that I wanted to exchange for a different size, and so I patched and bundled Milo up set out on our adventure. On the way downstairs, I ran into my neighbor and her two-year-old son. My neighbor saw Milo wearing his glasses for the first time and exclaimed how cute they were. I don't think she even noticed the patch before she called her son over to admire Milo's glasses and how cute he looked in them. Her son, of course, saw the patch right away, about the same time she did, and asked what it was. She hesitated, and I explained that Milo was wearing a pirate patch to help make his other eye grow stronger. She acted like that was perfectly normal, a pirate patch. Of course. Her son nodded and smiled and checked it out and went back to being a rescue robot, cape a-swirling.

Milo and I went off toward a mall where the store I needed was located. I navigated the traffic and the parking garage. (You know how I feel about parking garages.) I even stopped to use google on my phone to make sure the store was, in fact, in that mall. I unpacked the stroller, the diaper bag, the car seat and baby, the water bottle, and the item I was returning and noted my parking level before heading to the elevator. Upon entering the mall, I could not, for the life of me, find a store directory so I wandered around two different floors before I gave in and asked for help. I went up to a cashier behind a register in one of the stores, and thought fleetingly about pulling the stroller alongside the counter in such a way as to showcase Milo's unpatched eye. But I didn't. The nice woman behind the counter told me apologetically that the store I needed was actually in the mall across the street. Of course. Incidentally, she didn't seem to notice Milo or his pirate patch. So I headed back down the elevator and found myself with several fellow passengers. I was acutely aware of Milo's patch. I felt protective and reached forward to adjust the sunshade a bit. I angled the stroller just so. I caught myself and put it back. I furtively looked to see if anyone was looking at him funny. Maybe one woman was. It was hard to tell. I was so absorbed that I got off on the wrong level. So I got another chance to ride the elevator and check out people checking out Milo. One woman made appreciative noises in his direction. Another looked mildly curious.

I got off on the wrong level again. Bewildered, I looked around. I was sure this one was right. I got back on the elevator and noticed the color coding of the buttons. Thank god for my visual memory at least. I was certain I was parked on the green level, no matter that it was B and not the E I thought it was. Which incidentally didn't exist anyway, since the garage only went to D.

So I got back in the car, drove across the street, got everything out again, and went in the other mall. I finally found the store I was looking for on the second floor (of course) and stopped a saleslady to ask about the item, and she went off to see if she could find it in the store for me. I admired this and that as I wandered around the store. I noticed that although there weren't the usual ripples of Milo adoration, there also weren't a lot of judgmental stares or curious questions. Most importantly, Milo was babbling and smiling as per usual. He smacked his lips at me. I clucked my tongue at him. He was satisfied. I was cautiously optimistic.

Of course, then the saleslady returned to tell me the item was from an outlet store and I'd have to return it to an outlet. But also that without a gift receipt, all they were likely to do was mail a store credit to my home address. Seriously? Even though I just wanted an exchange and even though it's the annual after-Christmas return season? And even though I drove to two malls with a PIRATE and wasted my whole day just to get ONE FREAKING ERRAND CROSSED OFF MY LIST?

But then Milo started rubbing his eyes in that cute way that signals nap time. He'd been wearing the patch IN PUBLIC for two hours.

And we had been together.

Smacking lips and clucking tongues and smiling and babbling.

So I figure today went exactly as it needed to. Maybe I'll just donate that gift.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

My Little Pirate

I told you I'm reading this book called Momma Zen (which I highly recommend) and I've been dog-earing pages that I want to revisit. One page includes the quote "I still have troubles. They're just not a problem." It's in a chapter about acceptance and how everything is just as it should be and would be just fine if not for our critical commentary. It suggests we "practice acceptance on yourself so you can be kinder with your child. Practice nonjudgmental awareness of your life so you can save your loved ones from the cruelty of your own impossible standards and your hard-hearted disappointment. Practice greater faith and lesser blame....life is full of fits and starts. Some things are easy; some are not. Some things go and some things stop. Do your work; then set it down. There are no failures. Forgive and forget yourself." (page 41)

This chapter resonated with me because I know that I focus too much on my troubles and make them into problems, and I so admire the few people I know who seem to take everything in stride and with a good attitude. I do have impossible standards. And I never, never set my "work" down. And I make everything "work." And Milo, Michael and I--and pretty much everyone else that crosses my path--all suffer for it.

But take heart--awareness brings with it the possibility of change. Today I was home sick with Milo. The nanny is off this week, and I had taken time off as well, with visions of spending more joyful, work-free time with Milo in the aftermath of the hectic holidays. Instead, we stayed in bed until 1:30 in the afternoon. And then took another nap or two later in the day.

And every time I woke up, I thought of the presents strewn about the kitchen, mixed in with the dirty dishes. And the growing mound of laundry that needs doing. And how I had planned a fun outing with Milo and I was wasting my time off from work.

And then I stopped.

And I thought about how much my body needs sleep, and how much my son needs my comfort. And how much pleasure it brings me to cuddle with my son. Halfway between him and sleep is a wonderful, peaceful place to be. And so I lingered there and let the rest melt away.

And the dishes didn't get done, and neither did the laundry or the groceries or the outing. But if the point was to spend time with Milo, then everything worked out just the way I wanted it to.

But I can't pretend I'm not sitting here wishing that my house was clean. Because it would really make me feel better if it was. But I'm going to try really, really hard to focus on what matters this year and learn to let go a little bit.

I've been really struggling with Milo's eye condition, which is as of now still undiagnosed other than being farsighted. I was hoping that I wouldn't pass along my eye condition to Milo, but it does have a genetic component. Oh how much trouble my eyes were growing up. The coke bottle thick glasses that made me look every bit the dork that I am. The crossed eyes that elicited so much teasing. The self-consciousness that still prevents me from looking people in the eye...which also prevents me from remembering their name, which only leads to further self-consciousness. And the photos. I, the lover of keepsakes and photo shoots, can not take a good picture to save my life. One eye is always drifting off, and that's the only thing I ever see in the photo. Honestly, it kills me. I love pictures more than anyone! I just don't want to keep any that showcase my wandering eye.

And I sure don't want my son to go through all of that.

I had an eye doctor who was always so amazed at the amount of reading I do, given my condition. Most people without binocular vision apparently don't love to read because it's so much work for their brain to translate the images coming in from the eyes. It gives them headaches and fatigue. But reading has always been my refuge. I'm worried it somehow won't work that way for Milo. And I want it to. Because I credit my love of reading with most of my success in life.

So obviously I turned out okay. And I know that, of all the things your kid could be burdened with, this is not that big a deal. But then again--it's his EYES! You only get one set.

So I was especially paranoid about his eyes, and we started noticing them turning in pretty early, but everyone said all newborns' eyes do that, so we waited. But then at five months, my best friend gently commented that she had noticed too. It was getting more pronounced and consistent. I took Milo back to the pediatrician and she agreed we should have it looked at. In my time of need I turned to google, of course, to find that Children's Hospital Boston has a national reputation for pediatric ophthalmology...and an office ten minutes from my house. What luck! We got an appointment with a lovely man who took Milo's face in both hands and exclaimed how cute he was. I immediately liked him. He dilated Milo's eyes, and found that he was farsighted, so he prescribed three months of glasses and patching before we talk about surgery. To be honest, I was ready to leap to the surgery. Because I don't want my son's eyes to be crossed. I don't want him to look less than perfect. How's that for pressure to place on a six month old? What kind of mom am I? I had read that the surgery had the best chance of being successful if done before a year, because the brain is making neural pathways or some mumbo jumbo, and I know in my heart he'll need the surgery, so I'd rather do it sooner than later so it has the most chance of being successful.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, they don't rush to slice open an infant's eyes. So we're patching Milo's right eye for 1-2 hours a day and he wears glasses daily, all day. I was so worried this would strain our relationship, as I imagined we'd fight Milo all day to keep the glasses on. I felt so bad because the day he was supposed to start wearing him he slept past the time I had to leave for work and the nanny had to put them on for the first time.

But she sent me a picture later that morning with a text that said he tried to take them off for about ten minutes, and then just moved on. That's my baby.

The patching is much the same. Milo hates having the patch put on, but once I get it in place, he lets himself be easily distracted and moves on to something interesting. Some days it irritates him more than others, and then we take it off after an hour or try again later.

We have yet to take him out with the patch on though. We time it around when we can be home playing with him. The nanny, I'm afraid to confess, is braver than we. Perhaps because it's not her kid. She brazenly takes walks with Pirate Milo and I both love and hate her for it. What is wrong with me? I've dared myself to talk about it with anyone and everyone because there's no shame in this. And everyone seems to know someone who has patched. (and lived.) But talking about it is one thing. Talking about it while my kid is right there for strangers to gawk at is another.

I'm working myself up to it.

The glasses are so much easier. They are "normal" enough, and truth be told, he is even cuter in glasses. Everyone says so. Except they don't seem to do much for the eye turn, which is just as pronounced.

I recently had an eye exam of my own, and I spoke with my doctor--who specializes in strabismus and vision therapy--about Milo. I was surprised to find him adamantly against the surgery I am in such a rush to get Milo signed up for. He says there is absolutely no research that says it's effective. That maybe it helps cosmetically in a temporary way but that many people need multiple surgeries and it does not create binocular vision. He said that vision therapy is much more likely to be effective, only it's never prescribed because it's not billable and insurance doesn't cover it. I cautiously asked about the cost...around $140 a pop, every few weeks, possibly for a few years. He also suggested taping over the middle part of both lenses in Milo's eyeglasses, forcing him to use both eyes all the time (whereas the patching only requires him to use one eye for a few hours a day.)

I hate myself for cringing at the thought of that kind of commitment. I think back to the allergy shots I had weekly for four years as a kid. They sucked for me, sure, but I had no where else to be. My poor mother, though...the scheduling havoc that must have caused! No wonder so many families opt for the one time surgery with the cosmetic results that are covered by insurance. It's not only more affordable, but also more convenient. Fast results! I want instant gratification where my baby's eyes are concerned. (And everywhere else, if I'm being honest.)

So he suggested I have my old eye doctor, who I had a longer relationship with, check Milo out. It turns out she is actually pretty famous because one of her adult patients recently wrote a book Fixing My Gaze about gaining binocular vision as an adult through vision therapy with this eye doctor. I had no idea! But she's only an hour and a half away and I trusted her (perhaps in no small part because she acted like I was a little bit of a miracle with my persistent love of reading) and so today I called and got Milo an appointment for a second opinion with her.

I had asked my pediatrician if I should be getting a second opinion and she had seemed at a loss. Many parents would, she conceded...but I had gone to Children's for the first opinion, and they're considered the best of the best. So now I have no idea what I'll do if my old eye doctor agrees with my new eye doctor that the surgery is pointless. How do you know who to trust?

I do know that I won't blink at spending the money (and time! ouch) on years of vision therapy for Milo. I read an article by the author of the Fixing My Gaze book about what it was like to see in 3D for the first time. I'll never get to know that, but I want my son to. I want him to look people confidently in the eye as he shakes their hand, and I want him to stand straight and proud in photos.

And that means that I have to consciously stop "hiding" his turned-in eye. I need to be okay with taking him out in public wearing an adhesive patch over one eye. I certainly don't want to be sending him some kind of subliminal messages that he should be ashamed of his eyes.

I didn't even realize how much I was until all this happened. I was so upset at the eye doctor's office that day. Michael let me spend hundreds of dollars on two pairs of eye glasses for Milo because I didn't like the ugly "safe" rubbery ones and wanted to get Milo the cute, metal frames instead. Despite the fact that once he starts crawling, he might be smushing metal frames into his face on a regular basis. Mommy of the year, here I come. Vain much? I can't help it. I want my baby to be as cute and perfect to the outside world as he is to me. I have no idea why I care so much what everyone else thinks about him, I really don't. All I know is that I couldn't stop crying that day and I didn't even know why. The whole episode just triggered such an intense, deep-seated emotional reaction in me.

And while I was explaining the whole thing to my current eye doctor, he looked me straight in the eye and told me Milo was not imperfect. And my heart lurched a little. I explained that I didn't want Milo to have the experiences I had. And he looked me in the eye again and told me I wasn't imperfect.

But the truth is, I think I am. I like to think I've come to terms with it, and most days it doesn't bother me at all. I've turned out just fine, after all, and I'd be happy as a clam if Milo finds the success and happiness I've found in life. But then there are days where I see myself in a photo and cringe too.

So the lesson in this must be somehow related to finding a deeper level of acceptance of my own eyes, so that I can offer that level of acceptance and kindness to my son, so that he can grow up feeling just as "normal" as the next kid.

After all..."we all have troubles. They're just not a problem anymore."

So I'm striving for that...not letting the troubles be a problem. Which means soon my fiercely-loved pirate and I will be hitting the streets, looking people right in the eye, and offering a cheery "ahoy, matey!"

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Letters to Milo (#3, 30 weeks old)

Oh what a month it's been! First, you started solid foods at 6 months...your first food was carrots...well, after the baby oatmeal, which doesn't really count as food. And apparently doesn't count as oatmeal, either, since it's NOT oatmeal and has no fiber in it. And also after that pumpkin I threw you in for a good photo opp in October, because you did chew on that quite a bit. Anyway, next you had squash, then we added cinnamon to it, which you really liked. Then you had sweet potatoes and peaches. Today you had banana-apricot-baby rice cereal and you seemed to love it. You made all kinds of excited noises, which made daddy laugh.

You also started sitting straight up at 28 weeks. One day you couldn't do it, and the next you could. It's crazy to watch as you learn new things so quickly. You've also gotten really good at scooching, especially when we put a toy just out of your reach. You're not quite crawling yet, but you can get where you want to go. Usually.

We noticed that sometimes one of your eyes tuns in, so we took you to the best eye doctor in Boston to get it checked out. It turns out you're very farsighted, so the doctor prescribed some glasses for you. I couldn't imagine how we'd keep glasses on you, but you've been a real trooper and adapted really well. You've only tried to take them off and eat them a few times. =) Everyone says you look really cute in them, and daddy and I agree. In fact, it's hard to imagine you without them now! The eye doctor also asked us to patch one of your eyes for a few hours a day to make sure you're using the weaker eye so it keeps getting stronger. You've been really good at that too. You don't like having the patch put on (who would?) but once it's on, you're okay with it and just move on to playing. Now daddy and I have added "pirate" to your growing list of nicknames, which include turtle, baby, peanut, peanut butter, bud/buddy, and Mr. Magoo (mostly because it rhymes with "I love you.")

You also had your first visit to the emergency room this month. I took you out shopping one day with girls from the dorm--we were buying warm clothes for homeless kids, and I was wearing you in the baby carrier. Some stranger lady yelled at me for not putting socks on you in December. Thanks for getting me in trouble there, Mr. I-Hate-Wearing-Socks. Anyway, you were having fun and seemed happy, but after we got home, daddy went to get you ready for bed and realized you felt warm and it turned out you had a 103 fever. We were supposed to be getting ready for a holiday party in the dorm, but we weren't feeling very cheerful...we were so worried about you! We called the doctor and they said we shouldn't worry because you didn't have any other symptoms and were in good spirits. But then your temperature rose to 104.2 and we called again and they said we should bring you to the ER.

They had to take urine and blood samples to run some tests and it took them three tries to get the blood and you were screaming your angry little head off like we've never heard you scream before. It made us so sad. I tried to distract you with singing and I thought daddy was going to rip you right off the table and away from those nurses! Afterward, he said that it seemed like I wasn't even upset. And the truth was, I wasn't upset. I was so totally focused on you and comforting you that I didn't have room for any other feelings. Motherhood is like that, I guess.

In the end, the doctors concluded it was a virus and we just had to wait it out. The nurser were impressed that you stopped crying as soon as I was allowed to pick you up. They said it was clear that we have a special connection. i was glad because I figure it means you feel safe, secure and taken care of. Your fever lasted another two days, and then it gave way to a cough and throwing up, which was so sad to watch becasue there's no medicine we can give you to make you feel better. But that only lasted a day or two, and then you were back to your old self.

We took you to Bass Pro Shops (of all places) to get your picture taken with Santa Claus and it was so much fun. People kept coming up to us to tell us how cute you are. It was like being with a famous person! One lady even said you should be a model. You were wonderful with Santa and we got a super cute smiling picture and the family that was after us in line was jealous because their little girl cried when she met Santa. I suggested the parents hold her in the picture and they said they already have THREE photos like that...this was their fourth try. Yikes. Just remember that when daddy tells you I tortured you with photo shoots, peanut.

It was so much fun celebrating your first Christmas! You "helped" me decorate the Christmas tree--it took three days to finish, with me hanging the balls and you in the baby carrier and me pretending you were guiding the placement of the ornaments. You kept me company in your high chair while I baked, and you went shopping with me for hours on end without complaining a bit. You celebrated your first Chanukah and loved seeing the lit candles. And we took you to the town where mommy grew up because there's a special house there, decorated with 30,000 Christmas lights. We met Alexis, Matt, and baby Liam there, but Liam was asleep so he didn't get to see the lights. Maybe next year you can show him around.

We were heading to NY for Christmas Eve, so we celebrated Christmas as a family that morning and you got your presents from mommy and daddy. You were so much fun to watch as you opened the presents, which we wrapped in tissue paper to make it easier for you. You seemed to love your activity cube and stuffed giraffe best. Then we went to visit Linda, Joe, Sammy, and Matty for Christmas Eve. I used to babysit for Sam and Matt, so it's funny to think that I need a babysitter for you already! Anyway, they adore you and spoiled you with way too many toys, including a giant fuzzy frog chair and an activity table--I have no idea where we will put them in this tiny apartment!

We woke up super early on Christmas morning to go to Aunt Tiffany's house. Santa had dropped your presents off there, and your favorite was a plush flower pot toy that makes music when you touch the flowers and it lights up as well! Aunt Tiff and her family got you lots of good presents too...but you loved the satin-backed cozy blankie best (of course--it runs in our family!). Uncle Larry got you some fun musical instruments and grandma and grandpa got you a super special baby spoon with your name on it. It's beautiful. Then we went to your great grandma's house where you got even more presents! I think we will donate some of your toys so that little kids that don't have many toys will have some new things to play with, because you have so much and it's important to think about how you can help others.  Plus, there's no more room in the toy basket.

You've really changed the way we think about the holidays, my little peanut. There were no presents I wanted this year because all I wanted was to spend time with you and daddy. Daddy took today off of work and we didn't wind up doing anything special. We fed, napped, and bathed you and we played with you. Just a regular day. But after you went to sleep, daddy said he wished we'd win the lottery so he didn't have to work so much and could spend more time with us. I went and bought a lottery ticket after that.

You recently discovered consonants and your babbling has gotten so much cuter as a result. We giggle a lot when you start "talking." It's impossible not to. Especially when you make your mad/frustrated "nanananana" sound. I think daddy is pleased that you discovered "dadadadada" before "mamamamama" but I don't mind at all.

Alright, time for mommy to go to bed. I hope you've had the best first Chanukah and Christmas, baby Milo.

Sweet dreams.