July 29, 2010

a lesson in mendelian genetics

One of the first things strangers (or anyone for that matter) notice about Malcolm are his eyes. If I received some sort of monetary donation for each time I've heard about how beautiful, or stunning, or blue his eyes are (although I, personally, think they look more gray than blue), I would have a nice little stash set aside for the kid's eventual college education.

Long before I became pregnant, I always knew that blue eyes were a possibility ... My husband has blue eyes and, although I'm brown-eyed myself, there are blue eyes in my extended family. I never really thought, one way or another, of what color eyes I'd prefer on my future child ... I've always liked my brown eyes regardless of how "plain" or "ordinary" they might be. Eye color was a minor detail as far as I was concerned.

All I really hoped for was a kid that bore some resemblance to me ... Some small, easily distinguishable resemblance.

You see, I have lived most of my life being told that I look nothing like my parents or siblings. There were always certain moments or photographs where something about me stood out as being similar, but I have never been a "dead ringer" in any sense of the phrase.

Maybe I was switched at birth?

So, with Malcolm, I hoped for that connection. He is quite obviously my child (I did carry him for forty weeks and birth him into the world), but having him look like me would just be icing on the cake.

Imagine my elation when our maternity ward nurse told me that he looked just like me. Or when family and friends could see me in him as they gazed at him for the first time. Or when my mother-in-law wrote in her yearly Christmas letter than he didn't look like his father at all (but maybe he would end up acting like him). Even students from the high school I taught at before his birth agreed he was a total mama's boy ... And a good-looking one, at that!

It was wonderful! A dream come true!

But, ever so slowly, as my child grew from infant, to baby, to crawler the tide began to turn. Now, as is the consensus, he looks just like my husband.

What the heck happened?!

While I certainly (begrudgingly) agree, there are features that do not completely match up. For one, Malcolm's feet are definitely the same as mine ... Complete with long, stretchable toes that could almost double as fingers. I'm not sure if I should be proud of my magical toes, but at least it's something I share with my boy! Some tiny, if not greatly overlooked, feature that I can cling to.

We already know that his beautiful, stunning, blue eyes come from his father.

As much as I'd like to take all the credit and have people tell me how my beautiful little boy looks just like me, the truth is, Malcolm is a nice blend of the two of us ... Good old-fashioned meiosis at work. And, as a science teacher, I guess I shouldn't have expected anything less!

July 27, 2010

babysaurus wrecks (everything)

Malcolm reached the ten month marker on July 23rd (which if you have been reading was also our five year wedding anniversary). While there were no celebrations in his honor, there was plenty of mischief and mayhem ... And a bit of cuteness, too ... To go around.

Much of my daily routine (at least while Malcolm is awake) has disintegrated into chaos. From the moment Malcolm is put on the floor, it is his personal mission to destroy EVERYTHING IN HIS PATH! He loves knocking down block towers, emptying the contents from containers of all shapes and sizes, pulling items (like coasters and magazines) off of the coffee table, and chewing on anything that he can get his little hands on ... Not much unlike the fearsome theropod of Japanese cinema, Godzilla.

So, (you can probably see where I'm going with this) it is fitting that his outfit this week is also somewhat dinosaur-themed ... The shirt says "dino" across front, with a little dinosaur standing in for the "n." The only thing that keeps him from being a truly terrifying beast is his small stature ... That shirt is labeled as being suitable for someone that is merely six months old (and yet it fits him just perfectly)!

But Malcolm doesn't seem to mind ... He knows that good things come in small packages.

Tee-shirt: Carter's (thrifted for $1.00)
Shorts: Genuine Baby (thrifted for $2.50)
Sandals: unknown brand (thrifted for 2.50)

Or maybe that grin is actually saying: "Just wait until I'm bipedal, too!"

Although it wasn't kind to the dinosaurs, only time will tell.

July 25, 2010

even the best parents screw up sometimes

A haiku ...

Laughter fills the air
Babe slung over the shoulder
BUMP! Watch that door frame!

July 23, 2010

half of a decade

My husband and I have been married for five years (today!) and things are still absolutely wonderful.

I'm not surprised, really. I had a feeling that things would work out this way after our first, yet unofficial, date.

I was sitting at home, bored one summer evening and he called me.

"Do you want to go out and do something?" He eventually asked. "Grab something to eat? Catch a movie?"

At this point, we were merely friends (as I had the tendency to constantly remind him), and I knew he had other intentions. I didn't want to encourage him by going out, one-on-one, but I was really hungry and there was nothing good to eat in the house ...

"I guess we could," I said, as nonchalantly as humanly possible.

"Really?" There was a pause, like he hadn't expected me to take him up on the offer. "Okay ... I'll pick you up in twenty minutes."

Twenty minutes was about the time it took for him to drive from his house to mine. I certainly didn't need any time to get ready or primp or anything ... We were going out as friends. Strictly friends. No big deal. No need to actually look nice or anything.

When he showed up at my house, I was on the front porch waiting for him. I walked over to his parents' car (he had his license, but no car of his own) and got in. "Where to?" I asked.

He had it all planned out. He was taking me to a casual little restaurant that his parents used to take him to. It was movie themed (right up his alley) and everything had a catchy, if not corny, name. It wasn't much of a "hot spot," that evening, so we were seated in a cushy little booth right away. There was a piano player providing music and everything ... The mood was light. As always, we were having a good time.

We ordered our food: a "Humphrey Bogart" for him and some chicken fingers for me.

Things were going well (the conversation, the company, the food ) until the piano started a rousing rendition of The Entertainer. If you know this piece of music, you know that it starts slowly and builds and builds, getting faster and faster and faster until it just cuts off and stops altogether.

I found it to be an interesting choice of dinner music and made the comment: "This makes me want to start shoving food in my mouth," as I quickly brought the chicken fingers up to my face, one after the other, pretending to scarf them down.

Finding this particularly amusing, he agreed and we laughed and laughed as the song continued to play. Not more than five minutes after it had ended, he excused himself and disappeared into the men's room ... He was feeling sick.

Apparently, the laughter and the "Humphrey Bogart" didn't mix.

As I waited for him in the bathroom, our server brought the bill and I started going through my purse to find my part of the dinner.

A good fifteen minutes or so later, and he returned, looking pale and miserable. He apologized, and dug into his wallet, too, so that we could get out of there. Well, wouldn't you know, he was short on cash! In his excitement to get out of the house for our "date," probably with minimal questions, he didn't grab money.

He looked over at me sheepishly. "I'm short by a couple dollars," he mumbled.

"No problem, I've got it," I replied, going into my purse again.

I swear, his face went a little more pale ...

To this day, we look back on that date and chuckle about the "bad Bogart" he must have ordered, the quickening pace of the music, and the fact that he owed me money when all was said and done. I'm pretty sure that's not quite the event he had in mind when he called me that summer evening.

"Some date," I'd say, bringing it all back. "It just about sums us up, doesn't it?"

He'd just smile that quirky smile of his and sigh.

So, here we are, over ten years from that first, unofficial date, five years into our life together as "husband and wife," and parents of a perfect little boy ... And we're still together.

Maybe it's time find a babysitter, head back to that restaurant (for old time's sake), and give the "Humphrey Bogart" another try.

July 22, 2010

goody two shoes

For every physical feature that is just like his father, there is a personality trait that is eerily like me.

Case in point: This child is a total rule-follower and does not like to be reprimanded ...

Whenever he hears the word "no," his eyes get big and tear-filled, his bottom lip comes protruding out, and he bashfully retreats from the mean person that uttered the dreaded word. I remember reading in one of my parenting books that children understand "no" by about nine months of age, but whether or not they choose to respond to it is another story. Initially, I thought that that was crazy.

What nine-month-old reacts to being disciplined?

Apparently, mine does.

This morning, while nursing, Malcolm reached up and grabbed at my lip, pinching and pulling it pretty hard with his sharp little finger nails. As more of a reflex than anything, I loudly and sternly said: "Ouch! No, that hurts!"

Immediately, he pulled his hand back, releasing my face from his grip and becoming completely silent. His eyes got bigger than usual and I could see his chest rising and falling at an accelerated pace as he started to work himself up. Finally, a little whimper built up in his throat ...

He looked so sad that I felt really bad for telling him "no" in the first place. Surely he hadn't meant to nearly rip my lip off ... It could have been a lot worse. At least he hasn't taken to biting other sensitive areas! When I noticed the tears surfacing, I picked him up off of the Boppy pillow and enveloped him in a big hug. He just let me cuddle him for a minute, without noise or protest, and I could feel all the signs of sadness slipping away.

When all was well, I apologized for upsetting him during his morning meal and we went back to nursing without incident.

Although he certainly makes me feel guilty about doing it, I think that his aversion to being reprimanded is pretty funny ... Not to mention quite useful. I can only hope that this little character trait continues on through the toddler years and beyond.

Having a little goody two shoes is just fine with me!

July 20, 2010

hanging out at the lake

We just returned from a relaxing four day mini-vacation at Conneaut Lake, Pennsylvania.

Since vacation is all about being comfortable, Malcolm's outfits consisted of lots of onesies and shorts ... But that doesn't mean he looked any less stylish!

Onesie: Carter's (coordinating pack of five for $6.00)
Shorts: Faded Glory (thrifted for $1.50)
Sandals: The Children's Place (thrifted for $1.00)

July 19, 2010

waking up is hard to do

All the references to being (or not being) "in the bag" in last week's post got me thinking about some of the other things I don't like dealing with first thing in the morning.

Here they are, in list form:
  1. A classroom full of teenagers.
  2. My grumpy husband (he is, shall we say, not a morning person).
  3. My messy house ... Where to begin?!
  4. A pile of cat barf in the hallway.
  5. My sweet child (and inside of his crib, bumpers and all) smeared in feces. Lots and lots of feces ...
Can you guess which one I just recently experienced??

Side note: I will never, EVER, put any child of mine to bed in only a diaper and shorts ... Onesies or sleepers will be the norm from now on! Then, at least, most of the poop will get trapped ...

July 15, 2010

in the bag

My husband uses the expression "in the bag" to describe someone that has just woken up ... For example:

"Look who's in the bag!"

"He's in the bag."

"Man, I'm still in the bag."

I had never heard of such a thing in my entire life, so when I was told one morning that I was "in the bag," my attitude immediately jumped from good to bad ... Who tells their wife that she's in a bag? To me, the phrase just sounds mean, holds a negative connotation, and implies that I must look absolutely horrible and completely unready for my day to begin. I don't need to be reminded that I just woke up! I enjoy my sleep a little bit more than the average person, I think.

So, if you are still sleepy-eyed, dry mouthed, and/or not-quite-awake, to my husband (and his family, for that matter) you are "in the bag."

Moving on ...

As has been mentioned before, Malcolm is an awesome sleeper.

He is also an awesome waker-uper.

Just about every time I enter his bedroom to get him out of his crib, he is happy and excited for the day to begin (or continue, if he was down for a nap). He squeals and squirms and crawls in circles around the mattress, often headbutting the sides or falling on his face. His smile is contagious, even first thing in the morning ... Which is a good thing for a tired parent that just might need a little coaxing to get her day going.

Recently, Malcolm has really taken to a comfort object that he cuddles with when it is time for bed ... A little, baby blue rabbit attached to a blanket that we refer to as "Hugsy." Now, when I first enter the room in the morning, Malcolm is usually sitting in the same corner of the crib with "Hugsy" clutched in one hand (usually pressed up against his face) and a thumb in his mouth.

My heart melts at the sight!

Now, how could you (or why would you want to) refer to something so unbelievably precious as "in the bag?"

I certainly wouldn't.

July 13, 2010

as unpredictable as the sea

With a baby on the move, my camera has become less adept at capturing adorable, stationary pictures. Instead, more often than not, I'm ending up with a little something like this:

Or this:

Or even this:

Dumb, delayed digital camera ...

So, it's a good thing I have onesies like the one pictured, where there is a little bit of cuteness on the back (some "fishies" and the tail end of a sea monster) for me to enjoy as my child goes scrambling away. A little bit of cuteness on the front (the front end of the aforementioned sea monster, a pirate ship, buried treasure, and an island) doesn't hurt, either.

Onesie: Cherokee Baby (thrifted for $1.50)
Pants: Carter's (pack of two for $10.00)

As wonderful as he is, this kid can't take perfect pictures all of the time!

July 11, 2010

saving the past for the future

A couple of weeks back, I talked a little bit about my early college experience. You may recall that one of the main things that I remembered about that stage in my life was my relationship with my now-husband (then-boyfriend) and all the drama that it entailed.

Let's just get one thing straight: Distance can be a pain in the ass.

I have been described (by my now-husband) as being "cold" and "uncaring." I'd like to change the semantics of that description to "rational" and "level-headed." While I certainly had feelings for him during those four years of our lives (heck, I ended up marrying him, didn't I?), I wasn't the type of person to wallow in sorrow. I knew that I had to experience college for what it was ... It was only going to happen once. If that meant being out with friends instead of fielding his phone calls, or studying with (GASP!) boys, or (double GASP!) having a boy as a lab partner, then that was what I had to do. For about three solid years, these little "experiences" that I wanted to endure (and, please notice that not one of them included drinking heavily so as to lose all control of my actions), were thorns in now-husband's side. He had a very difficult time dealing with the fact that I, seemingly, did not miss him one bit and was just fine without him. This, very obviously, wasn't true ... I was just being my rational, level-headed self, and working through the emotions I was feeling internally.

The one thing that always got me through our tough spots was a mental image that would consistently pop up in my mind. It was a snapshot of how I wanted my future to be. A moment in time that I just couldn't shake, and that required now-husband to make possible. No, it wasn't my wedding day (or night), or even the face of my child ... It was a family outing, the perfect day, if you will.

Since I can remember, my family has been vacationing at Conneaut Lake, Pennsylvania. For almost as long as he can remember, now-husband's family has been vacationing there, too. To say that place holds a special place in both of our hearts would be an understatement ... We were married there. The old Hotel and Park brings each of us back to that simpler time of our childhood, and reminds us that we have been "connected" to each other for much longer than we have been a couple.

So, on bad days, or after particularly crappy phone calls, I would close my eyes and imagine myself, sitting on a bench in front of the Park's feature ride: The Blue Streak. In this scenario, I'd be big and pregnant, and entertaining another child (a toddler) in a stroller while I watched now-husband and our oldest son climbing the platform up to the old coaster. Now-husband would be smiling from ear-to-ear, ready to introduce his first child to the joys of the old Blue Streak, and oldest son would wave nervously, giddy with anticipation for what was to come. I'd point out my two "older boys" to my toddler and we would wave until they disappeared to the front of the line, ready to board the cars. We would wait for the coaster's train to pull back into the station, and I would watch oldest son come running down the exit ramp, excitedly retelling every hill and valley ... Now-husband wouldn't be far behind, grinning with pride, happy that he was able to pass on this little piece of our history.

As it stands, I have already accomplished part one of this imaginary scenario ... Funny thing that I ended up with my boy. Lucky for us, the old Park (while it has had its rough spots, as well), has managed to continue on. Unfortunately, being a very old roller coaster, the Blue Streak is in need of some major repairs before it can become operational again. My sister-in-law noticed that the Trustees of the Park have entered a Blue Streak Restoration project through "Pepsi Refresh" and brought it to my attention. All that must happen for the Trustees to get the money they are asking for, is to have enough people vote to put the Blue Streak in the top ten by the end of the month.

If anyone reading this blog would feel so inclined, it would be awesome and mean a lot to me ... I've already produced that oldest son I'd been dreaming about. It would be a shame if he never got to experience the thrills of the old Blue Streak.

July 8, 2010

a little observation

Malcolm is getting really good at saying "ma ma ma."

It seems that he finds it especially useful when he is crabby, tired, or sad from a little bump on the head ...

Go figure.

July 6, 2010

miniature superhero

We had an unseasonably cool week of weather (last week) here in Cleveland where it felt much more like early fall or late spring than it did the beginning of summer. The week was wonderful in that we were able to comfortably lounge around the house and yard in long sleeves and jeans.

That is, until our arch-nemesis Sweltering Heat and his henchman Humidity caught up with us once again ... Drat!

Which leads me to this week's fashion: Malcolm's awesome Batman-themed graphic tee, a Christmas gift that I figured wouldn't get any use until sometime after his first birthday.

Shirt: Old Navy (gift)
Pants: Baby Gap (thrifted for $2.00)
Socks: unknown brand (thrifted with five other pairs for $1.50)

Holy cute baby, Batman!

July 5, 2010

bringing sexy (pre-pregnancy body) back

When I was pregnant, I heard lots of horror stories about unexpected bodily functions, breasts that would take on a life of their own, and ghastly tales of labor and delivery, but, somehow absent from this overload of information, was the reality of living with a post-pregnancy body. Maybe the ultimate shock of this little unexpected surprise was my fault. After all, I didn't even think to ask about that part of the process. I just assumed that once the baby was evicted from my womb, my body would go back to "business as usual."

Well, you know what they say about assuming things ...

First, I should start by saying my pregnancy went by swimmingly. There were no complications to speak of: No morning sickness, no aches or pains, just some swollen feet (and a glorious set of cankles) for the last month or so. Even labor and delivery went relatively well ... As well as a non-medicated, back labor-filled natural birth can go. My body, in its pregnant state, wasn't completely unlivable either. For the most part, I carried all of my weight out front in a big, round belly ...

I didn't notice that I was putting on a bunch of extra baggage in my legs and/or butt until late in the third trimester when some of my maternity pants were getting too tight. I really wasn't expecting that to happen ... And why didn't anyone tell me that stretch marks can appear in places other than the abdomen??

While all of this was an uneventful adventure, the moments after my son vacated his cushy womb suite were much more confusing to me. I didn't expect to have a baby in my arms and still feel pregnant. Even though it wasn't firm with the expectant baby inside, my stomach still had some, shall we say, shape to it. And my breasts (yes, I'm going to go there), were like two living, breathing monsters residing on my chest ... They felt so foreign, so other-worldly. For once in my life I got to experience life as my sisters do on a daily basis: Double D's!

Anyway, while pregnancy is a slow adjustment, barely noticeable from week-to-week as the gestation period crawls along, life postpartum is the complete opposite. One minute there's a baby in there ... The next it is gone! Yes, once the baby has left the womb, the adventure truly begins ... Not just in terms of life-as-you-know-it being completely altered, but in terms of figuring out the ins and outs of a body that was once so familiar.

While I totally lucked out when it came to getting back to my pre-pregnancy weight (breastfeeding was good to me, what can I say?), it still took much longer for me to feel like my body was actually mine again.

For a good six months or so (and much to my husband's dismay) my body belonged solely to the little guy. It was his vessel for transport, his safe haven, his 24-hour diner. Now, about nine months out from delivery, things are shifting ... The biggest being that the diner operates on a much shorter schedule. Not only has that meant many nights of uninterrupted sleep, it has also contributed to the defeat of the chest monsters ... No more spontaneous letdown or leakage! No more nursing bras or disposable bra pads! And, probably best of all, no more breast pumping before bed!

And that seems to be the trick.

I almost hate to come to the conclusion that the gradual cessation of breastfeeding has brought about a return to normalcy, but, thinking logically and rationally as we scientists tend to do, I must admit that it's much easier to feel like your pre-pregnancy self when there isn't a tiny human attached to you at any given moment ... I mean, that certainly didn't happen before the child was part of the equation.

Ultimately, (finally) having my body back allows me to experience the best of both worlds: Calling myself someone's Mom and feeling as good as I did before that someone existed.

Not a bad deal, really.

Now, if only it didn't have to take a year and a half to come full circle.

July 2, 2010

a face only a mother could love

Just in time for the Twilight: Eclipse premiere ...

I set out to capture my baby's "fangs" before the middle teeth (finally) broke through.

This is what I came up with:

Yikes! What a crazy-looking vampire face!

Could I seriously love this little guy any more?