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Archive for December, 2013

I distinctly remember the moment Rowan turned on me. My sweet, happy child, the baby who people always asked, as she smiled toothlessly at them, “Does she EVER cry? She’s so easy-going!” Just after she turned 14 months, I was walking through the mall when she arched her back in my arms, the toddler signal that she wanted to be released to try out her new-found ability to walk on her own two feet, a little trick she had only learned a few weeks before. I didn’t want to set her down but she was persistent so I plopped her at my feet and reached for her hand. In the past she had willingly grasped it without argument but as I bent down to enfold the tiny bit of pudgy knuckles in my grip, she was… not there. In a 10 second time frame she had made her way 20 feet ahead of me and holy crap, when did she learn how to run? Arms flailing, pigtails flying in the wind, she was FREE.

I spent the next, oh, 4-5 years of my life painstakingly trying to contain that girl’s independent spirit. Trying to find the balance of not squashing it all-together, but getting her to just please put her shoes on without a 20 minute argument/meltdown. Keaton was such a miserable little guy for his first 14 months but miraculously, somewhere just before 15 months he transformed into this happy-go-lucky, easy-going little fellow that, sure, pulled a few typical assy toddler moves {in contrast to his sister he was super clingy}, but he didn’t have the attention span nor the motivation to have tantrums and also was not driven to destroy us like his sister was during the toddler years.

So now here we are with Ezra, at this pivotal moment of toddler development and I am maybe a little frightened of what the coming weeks/months/years have in store for us. If there was a spectrum, with Keaton at one end and Rowan at the other, Ezra would most likely fall two-thirds of the way to the Rowan end. He was a happy baby, but not quite as easy-going and smiley as she was. He is independent in many ways, but much more reliant on me. They are both very, very stubborn. The main difference though is that he is way, way, way less verbal at this age than she was and he is very, very physically strong. This is maybe causing me not an insignificant amount of fear for what it will be like to actually have to take him out in public, something I’ve not attempted on too grand a scale since he became mobile. I guess what I’m saying is, uh, if you have any calming, soothing vibes lying around, I would greatly appreciate if you’d throw them at my toddler every chance you can get.

12.30.11

Now! Here’s how Ezra spent thirteen months…

* He learned to navigate going down the stairs backwards. He mastered climbing up them about thirty seconds after he learned to crawl at 8 months but after a few failed attempts to get down them face first, he just didn’t attempt it, which was kind of nice- I never even had to gate them off. If he went up to the loft, he’d just stay up there until he got bored, then he’d whine and I’d go up to retrieve him, and he just left the stairs going down to the entryway alone. Our house is 90% baby-proofed so he can really wander around wherever he wants and we don’t have to worry too much about what he’s getting into as long as the bathroom and bedroom doors stay shut. A day or two after he turned 13 months he finally figured out that he could make it down the stairs himself and after a few slow, tentative tries, he quickly learned to position himself on the top step, get on his belly, get a shit-eating grin across his face, push off with his arms and WHOOOOOSH,  he flies down backward at break-neck speed. Every time {no really, EVERY TIME} I run because I think he has fallen to his death but, no. There he is standing at the bottom, the grin still firmly planted wide on his cheeks.

12.30.9

{Full disclosure, he did fall once and crack his head good on the bannister. He got a bad bump but when I called the pediatrician they told us he was most likely fine as he wasn’t wobbly, sleepy or throwing up so to just wake him up a few times in the night to be safe. The bump was already gone by the next morning and it didn’t slow him down a bit, although I watched over him pretty closely for the next few days, impeding on his fun.}

12.30.7

* Into everything. Here is a comprehensive but not exhaustive list of things Ezra likes to get into {it grows by the nanosecond}: cupboards, bins, drawers, nightstands, make-up, toilet and accompanying paper, diaper stacks, diaper pail, cords, outlets and power strips {don’t forget to drool all over your hands or just go ahead and lick the sockets!} his siblings’ dressers which he pulls open and just starts FLINGING neatly folded clothing out of like there is goddamn buried treasure at the bottom and ohshit here comes mommy, better start flinging faster, must fling it alllllllll…., dog food and water dishes, bookshelves, old DVDs, whatever has been carelessly left on the first two inches of any higher-up table or counter-top, any glass that has been left out must be dumped unceremoniously, Barbies thrown asunder, sword bin ravaged.

12.30.8

I am pleased to report that while we do occasionally have to gate the tree off in the mornings while we’re all running around and upanddown and upanddown the stairs, Ezra has mostly left it alone, or at least there hasn’t yet been any major tree related disasters. He will walk over and bat at the branches while staring at us, testing how long it takes to get the firm No! or uh-UH! but that’s about it.

* Lots of firsts this month! First carousel ride, first time decorating sugar cookies, first time eating Christmas cookies, first candy cane, first ride in a sled, first time wearing boots and snowpants. You pretty much rocked all of it, except maybe the boots which you just… did not understand. When I stood you up after putting them on you, you flopped back to the ground, unwilling to put your trust in the clunky things. Oh well, this being Minnesota, you have a whole loooooong winter to get used to them.

12.30.3

* What is up with the sock thing, Baby? For whatever reason you hate them and figured out that if you take them off in front of me I just put them back on you so now you not only hide to go pull them off, you then hide the socks. I’ve found them in my nightstand, inside Tupperware containers, inside the child-proofed cabinets {uh, how are you doing this?} and in several random drawers. So far this is my favorite… I … don’t think this is what they mean by hanging your stockings…

12.30.1

* Language. This is still a tough one. You say your own versions {that mostly only I can decipher} of cracker, cookie, stop, drop, pretzel, nosey, uh-oh, nie-nie, cheeks, sock, thank you, kiss, and some other randoms but still don’t use mama, daddy, baby, please, up, more etc. It’s so frustrating because you understand almost everything we say. You follow commands! You will materialize out of no where, pointing to your mouth, if someone says marshmallow. If I ask for a hug or a kiss you gladly give it. If I ask you to go get your milk, or cup or shoe or ball you don’t hesitate! But you just. won’t. say. the. words. yourself. Grumblecakes. You still MEOOOOOOW. Incessantly.

12.30.2

*Throwing food. This has BY FAR been the most frustrating thing this month. We can no longert put food on Ezra’s high-chair tray so he can feed himself because after one or two bites he picks up a piece, holds it out to the side and stares at us blankly as he drops it to the dog. It’s BEYOND infuriating. {For us, obviously Luna is decidedly OK with this arragement.} To save food I began just sitting with him and putting bites directly in his mouth but now he just removes them, full of baby slime, and throws them over anyway. He refuses all vegetables and in true toddler form, has become pickier and pickier everyday. We’ve reverted back to the pouches of over-priced baby squeezers because he can feed them to himself, doesn’t throw them until they’re empty and at least there is some freaking spinach in them. I need to do a big diet overhaul for all of us in January, a big part of which will be to break this food throwing habit. Also, his facial eczema has only gotten worse. We cut out whole milk and most cheeses but fell woefully short on removing other dairy with the craziness of the holidays. So lots of food trouble-shooting ahead, after I get the big kids back to school.

12.30.4

* As far as breastfeeding goes, Ezzie dropped his day feeding completely so we are now down to one nursing session in the morning. I don’t know how long we’ll keep this up, I have a feeling we’re down to our last few weeks of breastfeeding which, sunrise/sunset yadayada.

* His molars are coming in soooooo slooooooow, and have given him a perpetually runny nose that is driving us all bonkers. The top two have broken through and are making their way down, and his gums on the bottom are so damn swollen that I forgive him for being a cranky jerk most days.

* Ezra went to the church nursery for the first time this month! Admittedly, we do the church thing mostly for the kids. I’m not saying all hope is lost, but after being part of the shady-ass Catholic church for 30+ years, I’m finding it really hard to immerse myself in any religion for all the rage and anger I harbor for the terrible things that institution covered up and their disturbing stance on the civil rights issues of today. I do love the very open and accepting little Episcopal church we’ve joined and I’m so glad my kids have a group of wonderful role models to spend a couple of hours or so with each week but, well, let’s just say I wasn’t heartbroken that Bill has taken over church duty for the last six months as services and Sunday school fell right in the middle of naptime. Now that we are OFFICIALLY down to one nap between 11:30- 2ish though, we’ve started to go back as a family. Ezra went willingly to the nursery the first two times but has since decided that having mom or dad chase him up and down the halls is much preferable to a roomful of toys and doting teenagers so we’ll see how long my comeback lasts.

12.30.10

Oh my Ezra. My very favorite time with you this month has been just after we wave through the window to the big kids as they get on the bus. I heat up my coffee and plop down on the floor. Sometimes we listen to This American Life or Radio Lab podcasts, sometimes we don’t. And then? We snuggle, or roll the ball, or tickle, or sing, or stack cups or build blocks or play horsey. I repeat words, you stare at me quiet and stubborn. You peek-a-boo from behind the couch or from behind your own chubby fingers. We laugh and laugh. The breakfast dishes are still in the sink, the laundry loads need to be switched, no one’s bed is made but I’m teaching you how to blow kisses and wow, I’m not giving up this moment for anything.

12.30.5

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12.10.1

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It doesn’t always feel like that. But today it does.

A decade of memories made without you. A decade where you didn’t hug me once. A decade where I didn’t steal your sunflower seeds or your car keys and get called, for the umpteenth time, The Ever Naughty. A decade where you didn’t see me graduate from college or come out of “the asshole years”. A decade where you didn’t see me get married. Meet my first, my second, my third baby. A decade where you didn’t get to see them grow.

A decade where you didn’t get to see me grow. As a person, as a wife, as a mother. All those hours logged in being my dad and for what? When you last saw me I was a twenty-three year old Aimless English Major Extraordinaire. Not the most hopeful place to leave a child off, huh? Oh, well, now I’m an Aimless Stay At Home Mom Extraordinaire so not too much has changed.

Except everything has.  And I’m sorry you’re not here. Sorry for myself, sorry for my siblings, sorry for mom, sorry for all of your grandchildren.

You want to know something I don’t like saying out loud because it upsets people? I don’t believe in heaven. {SHHH don’t tell mom, it’ll be worse than the Christmas Eve dinner she found out I pierced my tongue and that was no fun for any of us.} I don’t think you get to go up to some magical realm where everything’s perfect and we’re all reunited. Go ahead, all of you shaking your heads, I know you want to pity me so just get it over with. It is a beautiful notion, I’ll give you that, one that I completely understand the draw of… but I call FAIRY TALE.

I do believe you’re with me though, Dad. Your love and your life, the good and the bad, made an impression on my life and my shape as a person. Your love and energy and heart exist somewhere, on some plane, maybe cosmically watching, maybe not. Maybe just inside my heart. Sometimes I think I feel you but most of the time I just feel the empty space.

Either way, I know you’ve left a mark. Because of this, most of the time it doesn’t feel like a decade of loss, but a decade of gifts. You, along with mom, gave me the tools to become Me. Yes, some of it was achieved on my own, {I take full credit for my ability to swear so much over soso little}, but the model you gave has shaped me and I see that shape, your shape, everyday whether I always recognize it at the time or not.

Ten years. A decade. I will remember the gifts, but today the loss… well, it feels so wide, so open so huge right now.

miss you. love you. side hug. patpat.

~EverN

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This boy.

So much, all at once.

Slashing, pewing, round-house kicking.

Jumping, wiggling, couch-flips.

Spinning, twirling, split-jumps.

Hugging, snuggling, kisses blown.

A spy. A ninja, both regular and turtle. A Jedi. A Stormtrooper. A puppy. A little boy whose mom died in a tragic motorcycle accident. A police officer. A fireman. A big guy teenager. A SYTYCD contestant who always gets a ticket to Vegas. A doctor. A patient. A baseballer. A footballer. A basketballer. A soccer baller. Not a hockey pucker, mom, I don’t like to skate. An olympic diver.

A dreamer of dreams so big and so small.

Kindergartener.

A little brother, a big brother.

A middle child.

Writer of names and random pronouns.

Reader of Dr. Seuss, Mo Willems, and whoever wrote all those stupid Star Wars books.

Lover and love of everyone around him.

Beautiful face, beautiful heart.

Energetic boy. Sweet boy. Our boy.

This boy.

We love you, Keaton.

SIX!

SIX!

Now blow out the candles on your cake... ah. shit. Well, we all know mama's not great with the numbers...

Now blow out the six candles on your cake… ah, shit. Well, we all know mama’s not that great with the numbers…

There we go. That's more like it, six year old.

There we go. That’s more like it, six year old.

Gratuitous lash picture...

Gratuitous lash picture…

Happy Birthday, Big Guy.

Happy Birthday, Big Guy.

 

{* Last two pics, Christine Welsh Photography, First three pics, Christina “I can’t count to six” Gunter Photography}

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