Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Andy Picks His Seat!

About two weeks ago, Andy decided that he no longer wanted to eat while seated in his high chair. This happened out of the blue, and caught me totally off guard. "Dinner time!" I called out to Andy, carrying his plastic plate of miscellaneous food stuff over to his high chair. Normally, Andy would trot eagerly behind me and wait patiently to be lifted up into his regal, if not totally caked in crumbs and various stickinesses, seat at the head of the table. I'll admit thoroughly cleaning off his high chair has not been a post-meal priority for me as of late. Or ever. Perhaps that's why Andy refuses to sit there- sitting in a gritty pool of old graham cracker bits stuck in gummy dots of carrot puree when we haven't bought either of those items in six months may not be the most appetizing setting in which to dine.

I carried his plate over to his high chair, but Andy stopped short at the chair next to mine. Looking up at me with his big dark eyes, he pointed insistently up at the chair. "Is that where you want to eat today?" I asked, uncertain. Andy nodded firmly, but I wavered for a moment. Was I really ready to let Andy sit in a normal chair at the table? In the high chair, he was basically trapped until I was ready to release him. In a regular chair, what was to stop him from leaping off mid-meal and decorating the wall with pasta sauce handprints before I even had time to absorb the seriousness of the situation?

"Andy, are you sure... ah, to hell with it," I muttered, setting his plate down on the table and pulling the chair out for him. I lifted him up, sat him down, and pushed him in. I realized then that Andy had pretty much chosen the best seat in the house for himself, the one I used to sit in before we stuck his high chair at the other end of the table away from the entrance in and out of the kitchen. The chair was aimed perfectly for television viewing (yes, I often forget to turn the TV off while we're eating, one of my many Be A Better Parent resolutions for 2012) and was located at the end of the table for easy access and convenience to the pantry, fridge, et cetera. Plus, it was right next to Mommy. Best seat in the house.

I grabbed my own plate and sat down next to him. We were eating before Chris had arrived home from work (waiting for my husband to arrive home before serving dinner is one of my neglected Be A Better Wife resolutions for 2012, but do you have any idea how quickly chicken nuggets go cold?). Since it was just me and Andy on one side of the table, it felt like one of those strange dates where the couple decides to sit together on the same side of the booth for no apparent reason other than to make everyone else in the restaurant wonder what the hell is wrong with them.

It was a funny feeling, sitting next to Andy in his newly self-appointed place at the table. Since I didn't have the booster seat handy, Andy was sitting low on the chair, just high enough to eat off the table but with his little head hovering close to the table surface. He seemed very at ease and comfortable in his new seat, though, munching on his dinner happily while his feet dangled just off the edge of the chair. And I thought to myself, "Wow. This is my baby. This is my little man, who's growing up so quickly and is now starting to inform ME of when he's ready to leave behind his "baby items." For a moment, I felt a little verklempt. What the heck, Andy? What's next? First you trade in your high chair for a real chair, now are you going to insist on being the one to drive us to day care in the morning?

I bet he'd be a terrible driver, what with how easily distracted he is. Plus his hands, they're freakishly small, not great for grasping the wheel, switching gears, or texting while juggling a coffee.

He surprises me sometimes on how much he's developed. There are still plenty of moments where he's my baby, especially around bed and nap time and when he just wants to be picked up and cuddled, but there are increasingly more moments when I am shocked to realize that he's a kid. An actual kid, and not just a baby. Watching Andy go down the slide is one of these moments- the sheer joy on his face as he comes down and then turns around to run back up is amazing and beautiful. Also, his sense of humor surprises me. Lately, he's been faking me out- offering me something, such as a card or small toy, and then snatching it back away from me when I reach for it. This causes him to erupt into giggles and I know how pleased he is with his "gotcha!" joke. That being said, the gotcha! fake-out is kind of a douchey move, and I should probably do something soon to eradicate that behavior.

With all of the sweet, tender growing up moments, there are also the tantrums and the times when I see that Andy is knowingly challenging me. He sets out to test me on how much he can get away with and proceeds to be naughty even after he's been scolded or (however mildly) punished. He pushes and tries to manipulate me, both advanced (or so I thought) manuevers that I wasn't yet prepared for. He attempts to outsmart me, and while I'm clearly the smarter one here, there are times I wonder- how much longer do I stay the smarter one? When will I be out-smarted by my own spawn? And I remind myself that no matter how much he may frustrate me in the future, I must refrain from calling him a son-of-a-bitch, because as all kids know, if they're the son-of-a-bitch, that does not bode well for the mother of the son.

Since choosing his new seat at the table those two weeks ago, Andy has eaten all of his meals there. I still have his high chair sitting in its place for two reasons- if we do an art project, I NEED him confined, and, by the end of the year, I'll have a new little eater ready to start on purees, etc. While there are plenty of moments when I'm scared about having this second baby and what it will do to our current family dynamic, in which Andy rules all and gets all, there are also lots of times when I'm relieved I have another little guy on the way, a new baby to take the place that Andy is leaving behind. A new high chair sitter. A new crib sleeper, as Andy's on his way out of that sometime soon, too. A new butt for the Bumbo, a new warm body for the baby swing. I'm so happy to add on to my family and get to see another little guy grow. My only faint fear, though? What happens when the SECOND baby starts growing up? And there's no new baby to replace THAT baby???

I wonder how many babies I can reasonably talk Chris into? How about an even six?

Hmm. Six is kind of a lot. That's a lot of years of not getting any sleep. Ah, screw it, I think we'll probably just stick with the two.

Friday, February 24, 2012

A Korean Car and a Sick Tot!

I'm pretty sure that Andy came down with his first ear infection on the day I bought my new (new to me) car. I'm not saying that the two events are related, but that's the day he first showed signs of not quite being himself. Because I am the fabulous mother that I am, I basically ignored his symptoms and chalked it all up to a minor cold and some major teething. "Molars!" I cried out several times over the next couple days, shaking my fist skywards.

But, first, let's talk about the car issue. Here's the most logical thing a family can do when the wife has pre-quit her job and they are about to survive without her significant, or shall I say significantly adequate, income: Buy a car! It's the only course of action that makes sense in these frugal times! But, hey, before we jump to any conclusions about the placement of our brains being somewhere in our ass areas, let me defend myself. I needed a new car. The Chevrolet Cobalt, while acceptable for that childless gal on the go (I used the phrase "on the go" loosely, since I've never liked going places), is borderline too small for a mother of one "on the go." I mean, Andy's car seat fits in there okay and everything, but it hasn't been all that easy, especially with my expanding waistline, bending down and getting him in and out of there. Getting his stroller in and out of the trunk though? Not as okay. Almost impossible. If I tried to fit the stroller in there along with, let's say three envelopes and a granola bar, then that stroller just wasn't going to fit. And you know how important my mail and snacks are.

So, contemplating fitting TWO car seats PLUS a DOUBLE stroller not to mention the ENVELOPES and the GRANOLA BAR made us realize pretty quickly that we had to trade up, size wise. Chris' first instinct was to try and persuade me to get a mini-van. "Mini-vans are AWESOME," he kept telling me. "I want the kind of vehicle that fits all of our stuff, has seating so we can cart both kids plus their friends, AND can fit a dresser. I plan on hauling LOTS of dressers around the northwest suburbs in these coming years!"

A lovely dresser that Chris would be happy to transport.
"Are you starting a dresser hauling business?" I asked. "Do we really need to get a mini-van? I'm only 31. I mean, I don't know if I can be seen out and about (i.e., at Target or in the Burger King drive-thru) in a mini-van."

"Hmm, a dresser hauling business," Chris mused aloud. "I could call it 'Dresser Hauling By Chris.'"

Having never driven a mini-van, I decided to at least try driving one before I completely shot down the idea. We dropped Andy off at his grandparents an hour or so after I noticed the first signs of his illness (Molars!) and then headed to the CarMax dealership to see what was up.

I took a mini-van for a spin- and hated it. I felt like I was driving the school bus. Chris kind of liked it, counting no less than thirty cup holders. He flipped up a massive tray between the driver and passenger seats, exclaiming, "We could eat an entire meal off of this thing!"

"I have sixteen blind spots, my feet aren't touching the floor, and this thing handles like an RV," I complained. "Can we please try something smaller?"

"Dressers, Jackie, dressers," Chris reminded me, before caving. "Yeah, sure, let's look at something smaller."

We tried a crossover, and I loved it. The thing about a crossover is that it's high off the ground (excellent for getting children in and out of without unnecessary bending) and roomy enough for basic storage needs (double stroller, yes, dresser... not so much), but is not super unwieldy and still drives like a regular car. I loved the first crossover we tried, a Rav4. And I was almost sold right then and there, except for the fact that the tires were balding. And herein we found the real problem with CarMax. Since it's a haggle-free shopping experience- we couldn't haggle. We couldn't knock off the price of new tires. And who wants to buy a car that instantly needs new tires? We decided to car it out of CarMax and check out another dealership.

At the Kia dealership, we encountered all the horrible games of car-buying that we'd hoped to avoid. None of the cars had prices on them, and before we could even get the sales guy to tell us prices, he tried to rope us into getting a credit report done right off the bat, telling him how much "per month" we wanted to spend (uh uh, I don't buy a car based on monthly payments, I buy based on total price. Who wants to end up with a fifteen year car loan??), and having us sign meaningless, arbitrary forms indicating that we would like to buy a car if Kia could meet our terms and pricing. Whatever, dude. How. Much. Does. This. Car. Cost? And can I drive it?

At long last, I found myself behind the wheel of a moderately priced, 2011 Kia Sportage. And I freaking loved it. Drove great, the perfect size, good style, good MPG, the whole shebang. "Play it cool, Jackie," I told myself, not wanting to seem overeager to get this car. "I like it," I told the salesman, "Buttttttt... how does it handle... in... a... hurricane?"

"Excellent hurricane management," the sales guy replied quickly. "See this button? The car comes with 'hurricane assist.'"

We got back to the dealership, Chris and I agreed we wanted the car, we played a little good cop bad cop, and got the price to where we wanted it. This is what we'd wanted to avoid in the first place, which is why we'd gone to CarMax, but later we agreed... maybe freedom to haggle is a good thing? We got a newer car, with better features, that I loved instead of just really liked, and at a cheaper price. All because CarMax wouldn't give me $200 for new tires.

We'd been car shopping for seven hours at that point, and finally we were out the door in our new(ish) vehicle, the old Cobalt parked sadly off to the side in the grave of unwanted, smells-like-White-Castle trade-ins, and went to Chris' parents house to have some pizza and get our son.

By this time, Andy seemed even less like himself. This was Saturday, and on Sunday he still had signs of a cold and was crabbier and less likable than usual. Monday morning rolled around, and he was still acting sick, but by now he'd stopped eating. "Molars," I muttered, taking his temperature. It hovered just above normal, right where I'd expect it to in the case of molars. We got through the day together (I was off of work), and then morning came. He was hot. His skin emanated heat, and I took his temperature three more times. Just under 100. This is where fabulous mothering comes in once again, and I bundled his sick ass up and dropped him off at day care, knowing full well that they'd be calling me to come get him in a couple hours.

We picked him up by 1:00 after the call came ("Come get your sick kid, you lowlife of a parent.")and were in the doctor's office by 2:15, where he was diagnosed with a cold and his first ever ear infection. (The new car drove beautifully to the doctor's office, might I add).

I was really upset by the ear infection diagnosis. I've been running my mouth all over town, oozing with pride that Andy had never had an ear infection or been on antibiotics, and here we are at nineteen months with an ear infection that I basically ignored for days and a huge-ass jar full of liquid antibiotics. I was relieved, at least, that the antibiotics came in liquid form. On the drive to the pharmacy (car drove beautifully), I was trying to wrap my head around how to shove a horsepill of antibiotics down my young son's tiny throat. These pharmacies, they think of everything!

Andy stayed home with me on Wednesday, at which time he refused to eat anything. I'm understanding this lack of appetite is completely normal for a sick kid with an ear infection, but the Italian Mother in me refuses to allow him to skip meals without putting up a major fight. The kind of fight that results in my poor little boy sobbing away while I try in vain to shove one piece of macaroni into his pie hole. I probably should have tried to shove pie into his macaroni hole, but hindsight is twenty-twenty.

He returned to day care yesterday, refused to eat any dinner, which turned into more begging and forceful cajoling on my part, and then we took his medicine before bed. For his medicine, he opened up eagerly, sucking every last drop of that stuff down and then crying out for more. Something is seriously wrong with this kid. Loves medicine. Hates macaroni and cheese. Being sick turns you into a wierdo.

I'm hoping for some success at dinnertime tonight, now that he's been on his medicine for a couple days and should hopefully be starting to feel better. Perhaps I will serve up one of his favorites tonight: cheese ravioli with a side of begging.

That about sums up the week. New car. Sick kid. No eating. Mediocre parenting. Tune in next time when Andy contracts malaria and I chalk it up to displeasure with an episode of Sesame Street. And also when I buy a boat.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Few Andy Moments!

Here is a list of a few recent things that I want to remember. None of them long enough to merit a whole blog post- just a couple quick snap shots.

Andy loves flap books- picture books where pulling down the flap on the page reveals another picture or some sort of surprise beneath it. He loves them so much that he expects every book to be a flap book, and when I read him plain old regular non-flap books, he scratches at the individual pictures trying so hard to pull down the non-existent flap. "No, Andy," I have to tell him. "It's not that kind of book." He looks up at me with betrayal in his eyes and then scratches at the pages harder, grunting in desperation.

On Saturday, Chris and I enjoyed some sparking red grape juice, since I can't enjoy wine (the number one worst thing about pregnancy) in my current condition. Andy was really interested in the grape juice, and Chris gave him a small cup of some to sample. Andy had been sitting in his high chair with his cup of water, and after taking one sip of the grape juice, he paused, violently knocked his water cup off of the tray as if to say, "You've been giving me this boring CRAP when grape juice was available this whole time?" and then continued to eagerly slurp down his grape juice.

Andy knows which objects are for the new baby. He'll point to the crib mobile or the infant car seat in their respective storage spots, look up at me, and say, "Baby." He also "knows" there's a baby in my belly and sometimes kisses my tummy unprompted.

Andy's favorite thing to do is be chased around the coat closet, which is centered in the house so that you can walk a circle around it. I'll chase him one way, stop, turn and crouch, and when he comes running around the corner, scream "Boo!" right in his face. Startled, he'll jump back, erupt into the most joyous bout of giggles I've ever heard, and then say, "More!" I'm mildly concerned about giving him a heart attack from the surprise, but he LOVES it, and we could spend a solid half hour just chasing and scaring.

Andy and a lunch date.
Simultaneously the best and worst way to wake up: When Chris brings Andy into bed with us in the morning and I'm still asleep, Andy crawls up so that he's about an inch away from my face and then urgently screams "MAMA!" When my eyes snap open in panic, there is his smiling face, taking up my entire field of vision. Oh. Hey. Did you need something? Could you back up a tad? And don't mind the fact that Mama almost wet the bed.

Andy feels it necessary to reintroduce me to his day care friends every day. "Emma," he'll state, pointing to the chubby little red haired girl. Or, "Bobby," he'll say, indicating his best friend, who normally gets a boisterous kiss hello or good-bye. I think it is very sweet that he wants me to know his friends, but considering he's introduced them to me every day for the past three months, I'd like to think those tots and I are beyond needing introductions. "Yes, Andy," I like to say patiently. "We've met."

Andy is totally a blanky-kid, a real live Linus from Peanuts. He doesn't have just one particular blanket he's attached to, however- he loves ALL of his blankets and will walk around the house sometimes just collecting spare blankies until a little time has gone by and I notice that Andy has four or five blankies trailing behind him in a massive pile.

Monday, February 13, 2012

It's A Boy!

Pretty much the first thing we saw on our ultrasound last week was a penis. Baby was not shy about showing off his junk, and he seemed to do so with a sort of amniotic pride. I had been preparing myself for months that Baby 2 was possibly, probably, inevitably going to be a girl, though, and even though Boy was my gender of choice- right then and there, hearing that I was having another boy, I felt a twinge of... something.

Regret? Disappointment? A small dot of sadness? This is it, I thought to myself, hearing the news. As our projected family planning stops at the second child, I'm most likely never going to have a daughter. Sure, I know things can change, accidents happen, lotteries are won, and so forth, but, more than likely, this is my second and last pregnancy. Over the past couple months, I'd convinced myself that this second baby was a girl, and I was really beginning to warm up to the idea. There would be certain relationship aspects that I could share with a daughter that I just won't have with my boys, and when I think about those imagined girl-bonding moments, now forever gone, I get just the tiniest bit teary-eyed.

That being said, I WANTED this baby to be a boy. Life just suddenly got a whole lot simpler as compared with the "It's a girl!" alternate reality. Planning for Baby 2 will be a cinch. They'll share a room once the new little guy sleeps through the night, and I have all the other boy stuff required. No additional shopping necessary, except for new bottles and binkies. And the double stroller, which has been a point of contention between me and Chris. He thinks that I don't need a double stroller, and that Andy will just walk nicely alongside me and the baby on days we go to the park, mall, library, what not. Um, have you met Andy? What's the first thing you think of when you picture him? Is it "That kid needs to be strapped down into something otherwise he'll run headlong into traffic and/or alligators?" Yeah. Exactly. That's what I thought.

Okay. Aside from the major convenience factor- Andy gets a BROTHER. They'll be only two years apart and hopefully grow up being great friends. They'll even be in high school and college together for two years each, which is fun. (I'm assuming one of them won't be held back or skipped ahead, both distinct possibilities, if you've ever witnessed Andy simultaneously doing something brilliant while trying to eat a napkin.) I just gave Andy his best man for his wedding (I hope she's nice!), and Baby 2 now has an automatic idol. Andy, the kid who eats napkins.

Plus, I love having a son. I really do, and I know it's going to be even double the fun with two. I'm biased because I don't have a daughter (and never will, remember?), but it just seems like there is something really special about little boys. They are fun and wild and sweet and just the right amount of stinky.

I'm trying to imagine what Baby 2 will look like, and I keep coming up with Andy. I can't imagine having another boy that doesn't look exactly like Andy. What other combinations of me and Chris could possibly exist? I can't imagine that there's a wide variety of possibilities, what with our similar dago good looks. But, we'll see. I couldn't imagine what Andy would look like AT ALL and was shocked at his perfect, albeit "been through hell," little face when I first laid eyes upon him. I guess I'm in for another surprise- or, just maybe, another little Andy. I have no idea.

So, that's it. Another little boy. It's a relief to know and to attached a pronoun to the baby. HE looked adorable in his ultrasound. He was moving and touching his face and at one point had his hands clasped together near his face as if in prayer. "Please God," I heard him whisper, "Let everything be okay. That other little boy out there just sounds loud and awful. And I really hope I can live up to the dietary expectations these people have regarding cheese."

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Hair Do's and Don'ts!

Andy needs a haircut. In fact, Andy's needed a hair cut for about eight months, but I am delaying his first official salon/barber/hair cuttery-atorium hair cut for a couple reasons. One, I'm lazy. Two, I'm cheap. There- lazy and cheap, that about sums me up, along with brilliant and bootylicious, of course.

His hair's getting rather wild. I've done damage control for a while now, snipping off locks and pieces here and there as needed. This is usually done in the bath tub, while Andy is engrossed in sucking bath water from the wash cloth, transferring water from one cup to another, or carefully scratching his balls. The problem with this method of hair cutting, though, is that Andy sits facing forward or backward, thus giving me proper access to only side of his head. Therefore, I can snip one side pretty good, but it's much harder to stand up, lean over, and try to match up the other side of his head. The angle is awkward, and it's just not a recommended way of cutting hair. This has resulted in a bit of unevenness, and, to be quite frank, I'm always a little shocked when I don't accidentally clip his ears or stab his head with the scissors. Guess I'm a better hair stylist than I originally thought.

Pro Tip.  Instead of a hair cut, put on a hat.
No, wait, I take that back. I'm suddenly reminded of the Great Hair Cutting Debacle of 1994. Thankfully, my own hair wasn't involved, which is a blessing since I've always had awful, frizzy hair which was much more awful and frizzy as a pre-teen and teen, and I certainly didn't need any extra hair debacles in my life. No, this Debacle refers to my sister's hair. I was confident that I could cut her hair into a cool, layered style, and my little sister, trusting as ever, allowed me to have at it with nary a doubt. If I were her, I'd have been asking a lot of questions, including, "Have you ever cut hair before?" (The answer to that question would have been a resounding no.)

I gathered a bunch of her hair, held it above her head, and then hacked it with a pair of kitchen scissors. When I let go of her hair, it did not fall into the chic layers I had envisioned. I had basically given half of her hair a cross between a mullet and a bowl cut (minus the bowl) and it looked... it was bad. I mean, really bad. This is testimony to my sister's good nature, though, and something I feel I still owe to her. She did not run off and tell our parents. No. Instead, she silently suffered through over a year of wearing ponytails every single day until her hair had grown out to the point where it looked halfway decent. And then she needed another hair cut, but this time she went to Fantastic Sam's like a normal person.

Anyway, with that particular hair cutting stint under my belt, you'd imagine that I would be reluctant to chop away at my son's hair myself, especially while he was in the bath and I had to bend over upside down to even be able to see the opposite side of his head. Well, you clearly imagined wrong.

For the most part, and especially since Andy is naturally handsome, Andy's hair has looked okay. The poor thing is cursed with my hair type, though- it's curly and thick and biologically unruly. Chris also had curly hair as a tot, but has since outgrown that misfortune. He was also blond as a child, which I find very strange considering how dark his hair is now. I'm pretty sure he was switched- not at birth, but at, like, sometime post-birth. Maybe at preschool was when the switch occured. I don't know, I wasn't there.

I think Andy's hair will look okay as he grows up. It helps that he's a boy and can buzz it or cut it close to his head if he'd like. If I find out this Friday that baby 2 is a girl, I am going to be somewhat concerned for her hair, but I guess I shouldn't get ahead of myself. For now, I need to be concerned with Andy's hair. We need to go get it cut, properly. Probably this weekend. Or sometime in the next month or so. Definitely by the summer.

When Andy was born, he had so much hair. It was insane how much hair he had. It was black and thick and made him look like a newborn with a wig. When the doctor examined me right before he was born, she reached in and said, with a bit of shock, "Wow... this baby's going to have a LOT of hair." Before they'd even let me hold him after he was born some six hours later, they had to wash his hair and comb it out. Andy didn't like that. I'll never forget those cries from the bathroom as I wondered what the heck my baby looked like and what in the world they were doing with all that VO5.

Andy's hair gave him personality as a brand new baby. Visitors exclaimed over his ridiculous head of black hair. He looked a little like Elvis Presley or a Beatle and even had SIDEBURNS. Then, his hair thinned out a bit, grew back less black, more brown, and curlier, and now here we are, twenty-some bath tub hair cuts later, bordering on the asinine.

So, big milestone on the horizon- first professional hair cut. I wonder how big the bath tub is at Kid Clips?