Monthly Archives: October 2011

She Says… Things I Don’t Want to Think About

A few months ago I added a silly Katherine Heigl movie, Life As We Know It, to our Netflix queue. (Confession: despite our best efforts to complain about how bad it is, we’ve seen 27 Dresses about a gagillion times.) Yes, I knew the premise of the movie is an unlikely couple inheriting their best friends’ baby and the inevitable hilarity that ensues. I glossed over the idea of the baby’s parents actually dying, and instead thought it would be a lighthearted, slightly funny, easy way to spend a Friday night in front of the tv with Benjamin.

Boy was I wrong.

Having a baby has changed us.

We turned on the movie and within the first ten minutes the baby’s parents were in a car crash (or something) and Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel were at their house taking care of their baby (because obviously the parents had given their names as guardians in their will, even though Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel had gone on one terrible blind date a long time ago and neither seemed fit to take care of a child). Instead of being the beginning to a sweet romantic comedy, it was a tragedy and horror movie in one for us. Benjamin and I were both blubbering idiots thinking about what would happen to Owen if something happened to us.

Needless to say, we turned off the movie, watched an episode of Modern Family to lighten the mood and went to bed.

But, also needless to say, we couldn’t get the thought out of our minds.

It’s an idea I tend to file under “Things I Don’t Want to Think About”. So I just… don’t. It stops my heart. It clenches my stomach like someone just stuck a knife into it. It takes my breath away. It stops me in my tracks. I just can’t do it. I absolutely can not fathom life without Owen. Or Owen’s life without us. Or our lives without Benjamin. Or Benjamin and Owen’s life without mine. Just. Can’t. Do. It.

But the reality is that while Benjamin and I may not have a mass of riches that we need to divvy up in a will, we have something far more precious. More important. And we need to be responsible. And that means thinking about That Thing I Don’t Want to Think About.

We probably should have done this the day that Owen was born. But we didn’t; because we just couldn’t think about it at that point. It’s time. We need to decide who would take care of Owen if something happened to us and draft a will.

Where do you even begin to think about that question? Sure, we have wonderful, loving families who would undoubtedly pitch in if something terrible ever happened. But our siblings either have their own kids or chose not to have kids. Our parents will be significantly older than our children such that they may not be in a position to take care of our children for the rest of their lives. We have to think about whose parenting philosophy aligns with ours; who we would want raising and teaching our children. Who will help them become the people we want them to be? Who could handle the burden of taking our child or children into their lives? Who would want to step up and parent in our absence? Heck, even who would put them to bed at the right time and feed them the healthy foods we have worked so hard to give them and still have time to go apple picking and read books and play outside? Who can do that?

And once you choose this person, you have to ask them, point blank, “Will you take care of my children if I die?”. Phew, that is a lot to ask someone. Talk about baggage. Will even asking that question impact your own relationship? What if they feel like that have to say yes, because you’re asking them something so powerful, but they really want to say no? What if they say no, would you feel like they slammed a door in your face?

I don’t know where to start. But I’m pretty sure we have to.

Do you have a living will? How did you draft it? Have you decided on a guardian for your child if something ever happened to you? How did you pick that person?

She Says… Obsession

As you can see from yesterday’s video, Owen is happiest when he’s busy busy busy. Busy pushing, busy sweeping, busy carrying things from one place to another, busy putting tops on water bottles or fitting shapes in his shape sorter. Each of those tasks may not last very long, but he is certainly focused when he’s “working”.

Lately that work has meant only one thing.

Being outside.

I’m telling you, he’s absolutely obsessed. When we’re inside, he smacks his little hands against the glass of our back door and does his patented Owen noise that shifts his pitch upward at the end like a question. It’s not a word, but the meaning is VERY clear. Asking if he can PLEADING to go outside. Even if we’ve just come in from outside, he walks in one door and heads right for another and asks to go out that way. We go to one of two nearby playgrounds, we take a walk with the dog, we play in the garage (close enough to being outside!), we explore our backyard, we walk the sidewalk right in front of our house. Doesn’t matter the weather. Doesn’t matter what we do. He just has to be outside.

Now, as with his obsession with cleaning products, this is not such a bad problem to have. A kid who just wants to wander around outside and learn and explore and play? Awesome, right? When we’re outside I don’t have to do a darn thing to entertain him except keep him out of traffic (which is a LOT harder than you would imagine, since Owen LOVES to run away, giggling all the while). He is fascinated by grass and wood chips and touching everything and… of course… tasting things here and there.

Yesterday we were playing on our deck stairs and he found a tiny spider crawling on the step. He pointed at it and followed it with his finger for a good 5 minutes while it crawled around. When it disappeared under the step, Owen fearlessly stuck his chubby little hand right in its web trying to get it back. He is SUCH a little BOY.

I’m doing my best to say “yes” as much as possible, instead of going with my knee jerk response, which is often “No, buddy. Let’s play inside so we can _____ (fill in the blank with: do the dishes, fold the laundry, prep dinner, clean up the playroom, not get cold and dirty, etc.)”. Not to mention the fact that he has just learned the sign language for “please” and I’m really trying to reinforce it by doing whatever he says “please” about. 9 times out of 10 he sits at our garage door rubbing his hands all over his chest (the sign for “please”). No words are necessary for me to know exactly what he wants! So we’ve been outside A LOT.

This past weekend it was in the 70’s and sunny, so being outside was far from a chore. But as the New England winter approaches, I’m thinking this obsession may be a little harder to oblige. Really warm snow gear for the whole family is definitely a must. I have a feeling cold fingers are not going to deter this little outdoorsman.

What do you do with your kids outside? Do your kids insist on being outside even in the cold?

She Says… Our Favorite Room in the House

When we bought our new house, Benjamin and I joked that the garage was our favorite room. We were dreaming of New England winters with our cars safely and happily tucked away, less shoveling when the snow comes and an easily accessible place to store our bicycles. What we didn’t know is that it would be Owen’s favorite room in the house too! If you had told me when we moved here that we needed to baby proof the garage as much as the other rooms in the house, I would’ve thought you were crazy.

But check out the room that Owen can’t get enough of.

 

The obsession with mops and brooms (and swiffers) continues. But hey, I’m not going to argue if the kid wants to sweep the garage for me!

As you can hear in the video, he’s also becoming quite the parrot with new words. His vocabulary is growing by the day. “Mop” is a new one, as is “tv” (thanks to all the breathing treatments we’ve been doing to get over pneumonia, he’s gotten to see a few minutes of tv a day — super exciting!). The words are pretty amazing to hear, but I find it really interesting how he mimics intonation as well. He matches my joking, singsong voice when I say “Hows about…” (usually while talking about what he should have to eat) and “Peee-yoooo” to his stinky diaper pail, and he’s starting copying “Hmmm”s when I’m thinking out loud and “La la la”s when I’m singing. I’ve been trying to put together a video of all of the words he says right now, but he’s not big on saying them when I say “Can you say…”, but rather likes to say them on his own. No surprise there.

We’re off to the playground to celebrate the Indian summer weather!

She Says… Good Morning, Sunshine!

I know I’ve been posting sporadically recently. You know what? I think I’ve found the limits of what I’m able to do.

- I have been working a lot recently. A lot. I keep thinking it’s going to slow down, but I’m not sure it is. Which means I need to get used to this pace. Not to mention the fact that some of that time has been squished recently while I tried to juggle taking care of Owen and getting my work done.

- Traveling takes a big ‘ol chunk out of one’s regular life. Not only the time being gone, but the time prepping and packing and moving schedules around, and then the time unpacking and washing everything and finding the toys we packed and putting them back in their homes. And then catching up on the other things that didn’t get done while we were gone — laundry, general cleaning of the house, mail, etc. We were only gone for 4 days, but it’s amazing how much can happen in that amount of time!

- I am learning to make a quilt! I know, I know, the last thing I need in my life is another activity that requires me to be in a certain place at a certain time, but my previously online-only friend Liz from Goddess in Progress offered to include me in a “class” she is running out of her home to show a few crafty mamas how to sew quilts. How could I resist hands-on sewing lessons (she is the reason I bought that new sewing machine) and quilt instruction from a talented quilter and the opportunity to make a few new mom friends? To be honest even though it makes things a little stressful (“class” is a 40 minute drive away that I go to after putting Owen to bed once a week, and homework is several hours a week!), I’m really loving putting my creative brain to work on something.

- Pneumonia. Owen has been on meds for a week now and seems pretty much back to normal. We’re still doing breathing treatments twice a day, but he’s back at school (not contagious!) and feeling mostly better.

- You know, enjoying life away from the computer screen. I can’t stop marveling at the words Owen is learning or the look on his face as he toddles around and wants to identify every object. I don’t want to miss a second of it.

Anyway, all of that to say that in order to do all of those other things, something has to give. In the case of the last few weeks it has been exercise and the blog. This too shall pass, though, and I’m working on getting back into my normal routine of exercise and blogging every day very soon.

Another thing that has been plagueing us on and off for awhile is early morning wakeups. At night Owen is exhausted by around 6:30pm. He rarely, if ever, crashes to the point of tantrums and tears, but I can just tell he is tired and we’ve had very good luck with our schedule of bathtime between 6:15pm and 6:30pm, which has been the same since he started sleeping through the night around 4 1/2 months. In the past he would sleep for 12 hours at night and take about 2-3 hours of naps during the day. The kid loves to sleep.

That said, he has a weird habit of crying out at 4:20am and 5:20am. Almost to the minute. Almost every night. Generally it’s only one wail and he goes right back to sleep. Sometimes it’s a few minutes of fussing until he drifts back off. Once in awhile, usually if he’s teething or has a fever or the room is too hot or cold or something like that, he cries longer. Sometimes I go in and check on him and sometimes I allow him to practice his self-soothing skills and put himself back to sleep.

Lately, though, he’s gone to sleep like a champ, but hasn’t been able to fall back asleep after that 5:20am wakeup. He’s usually quiet in his bed for 20 minutes or so, but then around 5:40am I hear loud crying. It’s actually more like yelling than crying, and as soon as I go in his room, his face brightens to a smile and he shouts, “Hi! Doggie! Hi!”. He’s totally fine; just wide awake. At 5:40am. Which, although I am a morning person, is a little too early for me.

Our old rule used to be that I wouldn’t wake him up until 6:00am or later. If he woke up before that, I would go to his room and calm him, rock him, hold him in the rocking chair, anything to make it feel like bedtime until at least 6:00am.

This morning I went in and rubbed his back and hummed to him at 5:45am. He seemed sad and sleepy, so I did it for a few minutes until I thought he was asleep. Left the room and he cried for a minute and then stopped. I thought I had handled it perfectly and he had fallen back asleep when, 5 minutes later, the crying started again. At this point it was 6:00am so we all got up.

I know this could be teething-related, or a result of him still not feeling great given his recent bout of pneumonia. It also could be related to needing less sleep as he’s getting older, and maybe we are putting him to bed too early. Thoughts? Suggestions? When do you put your 1-2 year old to bed and when do they wake up? I know the general amount of sleep Owen is getting is well within the normal range, but maybe it’s about the right time for him to move out of the 13-14 hour range since he’s getting older now.

Who knows… maybe this is all related to the eventual switch to one nap as well. At what age did your baby move from 2 naps to 1? How long do they nap during the day and sleep at night?

She Says… Up in the Air

Once again, Owen has proved that I worry unnecessarily. And sometimes I don’t give him enough credit. The kid is awesome.

Flying with Owen this weekend was a breeze!

At this point he’s still taking 2 naps. I think we’re on the verge of that schedule changing, as I’ve seen the timing change a bit recently, but for the most part Owen does a long, solid morning nap (usually about 2 hours) and a shorter, less-time-sensitive afternoon nap (usually about 1 hour). So our plan has been to respect the morning nap at all costs, and opt to have the afternoon nap in the car/stroller if needed. At daycare he often refuses the afternoon nap altogether and is totally fine at bedtime, so I’ve learned to not freak out if the afternoon nap on-the-go doesn’t happen as I thought it would. He rolls with it.

So I planned our flights for early afternoon so he could get a nice, long morning nap and then do his afternoon nap on the plane, if that worked out, or skip it and be ready for bed right at 6:15pm. Luckily the flights were very short — a little over an hour each way. Despite an hour or so delay on the outbound flight, the timing worked out great. Both days we woke up and had a normal morning, Owen had a nice, long morning nap, and then we headed for the airport when he woke up, rested and happy. Another bonus of that plan is that I can pack all of our bags and the car while he’s sleeping so we can just get him up and stroll out the door without trying to juggle a baby on the hip and throw suitcases in the trunk at the same time.

The biggest thing I was worried about was not meltdowns from lack of sleep or temper tantrums, though, it was Owen’s incessant need to be running around and climbing on things all the time. And, you know, those little things called seatbelts that are required during takeoff and landing. That part was handled by bringing several key items.

1. FOOD. Thank you, my lovely readers, for your suggestions on my previous posts about what to bring. Almost everyone said “snacks” and having an endless supply of munchies certainly nipped impending whining in the bud. Since we were traveling in the early afternoon, I stretched Owen a little so he could eat lunch on the plane. This not only kept his little mouth quiet and happy, it also meant that he ate a better meal than if I’d tried to feed him while we were running around the airport. I took a little insulated lunchbox with a cold pack through security (it was allowed, I just had to pull it out with my bag of liquids/gels so they could check it out), as well as a ton of little ziplocs with crackers and Pirate’s Booty and freeze-dried fruit. Owen learned a new word (words?) chowing down on the plane, too: green beans. He says “een! bee!” proudly now.

2. AN EMPTY WATER BOTTLE WITH PLASTIC STRAWS IN IT. I know this sounds kind of like a strange thing to play with, but Owen is obsessed with putting lids on things and taking them off. He’s also completely engaged with filling up containers and emptying them out. So I brought a bike water bottle filled with plastic straws. He spent longer than you would believe taking the top off and putting it back on, and emptying the straws and putting them back in one by one. Nothing like a little motor development to keep him occupied!

3. THIS NEW TOY. We love Melissa & Doug. This puzzle has 9 little doors that open and close on hinges (opening and closing doors is another one of Owen’s favorite things right now…) to reveal a magnet inside. The magnets are things like a dog, a cow, a teddy bear, etc., so Owen loved holding them up one at a time so I could tell him what they were, and sometimes he would repeat the word. Magnets are key when you are on an airplane and have a kid prone to throwing the whole board upside down to see what is on the back (umm… nothing). It was the PERFECT plane toy because it was so self-contained, yet had so many little parts for Owen to explore (and attempt to ingest). It says “ages 3+”, too, so I bet this will be one that will grow with him.

4. SHAPE SORTER (ours is like this one, but plastic). Benjamin rolled his eyes when I said I wanted to bring this on the plane because it is loud! and plastic! and bulky! But honestly, I have seen Owen concentrate on this toy far more than any other, and I knew it had to come with us. I get a big, fat “I told you so” about this one, because it bought us at least 20 silent minutes on each flight while O concentrated on it while buckled into his seat during takeoff and landing.

5. WATER. That’s right, the free little water bottles they give out once you are in the air. Owen was so excited to get his own little bottle. On our departing flight I made the mistake of letting him try to drink out of it himself (with help), which ended up in a very wet shirt… for both of us. On the way back I chugged his water as soon as they handed out the bottles and let him put the top on and off for the rest of the flight, which made for 1 very happy baby.

And finally, the most important one of all…

6. HIS OWN SEAT. Thankfully our two flights were not full, so we were able to switch our seats around to have an empty window seat for Owen. That was KEY. He was able to bounce around in his seat, climb up and down, roll around in my lap, stick his arms between the seats to grasp at the people sitting behind us (of course shouting “Hi! Hi! Hi!” the whole time) and stare out the window as he pleased. It was glorious. He even liked being buckled in during takeoff and landing and would never have tolerated that long in my lap.

So there you have it. The keys to air travel with a toddler (at least… my toddler). I had an absolute blast hanging with my high school friends and seeing my family. My sister and her two girls (4.5 and 1.5) made an impromptu visit on Sunday as well, so we had an awesome “cousins day” and the kids played on the playground, jumped on the bed together and stole each others’ toys. Oh how I wish we lived closer so we could do it more often!