Dear River (can you believe I didn't call you some silly name like pookie or sesame seed, or Mr. Bigglesbutt?),
You know how you ask someone how their kid is doing, and for a certain period of time the only accurate response to that question is, "Oh, Little Johnny is into everything"? Well, we've hit that point. You, Mr. Rivertonio, are into EVERYTHING. Crawling has given you a freedom the likes of which you have never known, and I tell you, you are drunk with that power.
In spite of having the house as baby-proofed as possible, there are certain things we simply cannot make completely baby resistant. The TV, for instance, is on a big stand that has glass shelves which you love to lean on, and the cat litter has to be accessible to the cats, which means it is also accessible to you, and the ONE plant that mommy has managed to keep alive is on a stand just at the perfect height for you to pull off its little leaves. So, instead of being able to sit you down and let you roam, we sit you down (in front of a big, enticing pile of toys) and off you race to the nearest off-limits object you can find.
Another side effect of your enhanced mobility is that it's REALLY difficult to change your diaper. As soon as we lay you down, you squirm and flip and spin, performing acrobatic feats a Cirque du Soleil performer would envy. It often takes two people to get the job done, and even then it's sometimes easier to just change you while you stand up. You're so squirmy, getting any kinds of bottoms back on you is near impossible, so we just leave you pantless most of the time.
Your favorite modes of play these days are pulling, dumping, and banging. You love to pull things off of shelves and out of drawers. Books, DVDs, toys: if it's on a shelf it must come down! Also, if it's in a basket or other container, it must be dumped! You have a wonderful wooden block set that sits in a tiny wagon and the first thing you do when you see it is dump it out. Finally, if it can be held, it can be banged! You have a spoon--bang! on the tray. You have a book--bang! on the floor. You have a hand--bang! on daddy's head.
I have to say the cutest thing you've learned to do this month is bounce. You bounce when you're happy, and you are happy all the time, my boy. It doesn't matter if you're in my arms, on your knees, in the bath, or in your booster seat--just like Tigger, you can bounce anywhere.
This month hasn't been all roses, of course. You've gotten in no less than FIVE TEETH. That has meant a lot of sleepless nights for all three of us. I think you're done teething for a while (I hope), so that's good. You've also started experiencing a bit of separation anxiety lately. You seem extraordinarily needy, especially at night, and especially for mommy. You won't let your dad put you to sleep and you often wake three or four times before you're really down.
You've had a couple play dates at auntie Crystal's house, and anytime she leaves the room (even if you can see her over the kitchen counter) you freak out. I think your ability to get around has made you realize that you can be away from people and that is a scary idea. We're here to help you work your fears out and let you know that we'll always come back.
This month you've climbed some great heights (literally and figuratively), and it's been so fun to watch you.
I took River to another study at the Children's Hospital today. He did very well and once again flirted with the science girls shamelessly. I'd love it if we were raising a little Bill Nye or Mr. Wizard (but I'm afraid we have an Evil Knievel on our hands).
Thanksgiving was a great success. It was a surprisingly leisurely and relaxed day. I spent most of the day in the kitchen while Thom attended to River, but I didn't feel harried or stressed. I just plugged along, making one dish after the next.
The J's came over in the afternoon bearing a few dishes themselves, and we chatted in the kitchen while Thom finished carving the turkey and I got the buffet set up.
The babies were so cute together! Little J is four months behind River, so he's just starting to get a little trunk strength and to smile a bit. River enjoyed interacting with him for a while, but his favorite person of the evening by far was Mrs. J. He crawled right up to her and giggled and flirted when she scooped him up in her arms.
After dinner, he kept cruising her way, and once in her lap he would snuggle and bounce so happily. It was freaking adorable.
The meal itself was great. Thom says this was maybe his best turkey yet (not including River, who is by far our best little turkey).
And I felt really good about all the side dishes I made. River got to sample most of things on our plate (though the bout of late night gas he had was maybe a sign that he sampled a little too much).
After dinner we all stayed chatting for a few hours. We got along just as well as I had hoped, and it was really a fantastic evening. Mrs. J was surprised to find out she grew up in the same town my mom did (Curtis, right, mom?) and we compared notes on the Midwestern cuisine we both grew up with.
I certainly missed having the whole family around the table like usual, but we managed to have an evening full of joy and thanks anyhow.
Thom is home from a three day business trip to Amsterdam. River and I missed him terribly, and we are very happy to have him home. Unfortunately, because he had full days of meetings, the closest he got to the city was the bar at the airport Hilton. Fun.
Now that he's back I can turn my attention to planning for Thanksgiving. After all of the traveling we've done this year, I had kind of planned on keeping the day low key (perhaps even eating out!). For various reasons, none of our usual crew is coming to town this year, so I didn't have much reason to do a big shebang. Then I talked to the new neighbors--the J's--and they suggested we do something together, and I thought that was a great idea.
Of course, I can't do anything small, so it looks like I'll be making my usual eight course meal for the four of us (since the two babies won't be eating). The J's will be bringing a few dishes, but you know how it is... you have to have certain things at Thanksgiving or it just doesn't feel right.
This will be the first year I attempt something this massive with a baby around, so we'll see how it goes.
The washing machine door slammed closed with a satisfying THWACK! and I moved onto the dishes. I pulled a pan from the drying rack, tossed it to its rightful place, and--BANG--shut the cabinet door. Silverware into a drawer. SLAM! Laundry basket onto the table. THWACK!
I moved in a widening sphere around the kitchen and living room, tidying, arranging, banging, thumping, and crashing. The more frustration I attempted to dispel with these loud acts of rebellion, the more frustrated I became. Finally, finding the house tidied and lacking the fuel of an out of place cup or errant toy, I sat down on the couch and seethed.
I was trying to get the house ready for the cleaners to come. This is a finely-tuned ballet that happens once a week in which I do all of the things the cleaners won't do like stripping the sheets off the bed, putting the dishes away, getting a few loads of laundry done, washing the pee-stained cat mat, etc, etc, etc. My husband and mother (and, I'm sure, given the chance to chime in with an opinion, all of North America) think I'm insane for "cleaning before the cleaners come." But let me defend myself and say that this is NOT the case. I'm simply getting the house ready so that when they get done doing the real work of scrubbing toilets, washing sinks, vacuuming, and mopping, I can come home to a house that is both clean and tidy. The alternative is to come home and have my laundry still to do, toys piled in a corner, dishes put away in the wrong cabinets, and a much more stressful situation than if the house never got cleaned in the first place.
Every week I have Crystal come over at 9am so that she can occupy Pooker during the two hours I'm getting the house ready. Last week an insane thing happened and River and I actually slept in until 10am, so Crystal came, left a note, and came back when we finally woke up. It was completely reasonable, then, for her to call this morning just before the appointed time to see if we were up.
Of course I was out getting much needed caffeine before the morning marathon and missed the call. So, when River and I got back from the coffee run I attempted to put him down for his nap, knowing Crystal would be over any minute to relieve me. River's teeth hurt and he was having a difficult time getting down, and all I could think about was the pile of chores waiting for me and, after that, the few minutes I might actually have to myself that were dwindling away with each failed attempt to get him into his crib. Finally, after half an hour and no success, I left River in his crib and went to find out where the hell Crystal was. She had just been waiting for my call and came over right away (by which time we had missed the sleep threshold and River was wide awake again).
It was a simple misunderstanding. Crystal didn't do anything wrong. River didn't do anything wrong. But I was so pissed off, and the washing machine and kitchen cabinets seemed like as good a target as any for my rage.
It can be incredibly frustrating to get a teething baby to sleep. I nurse, I rock, I sing. I hold the wailing baby and muster as much patience and loving calm as I can. Finally, after such a long time that he has exhausted himself and passed out, I lay him in his crib and creep out of the room. If I'm lucky, he is not up screaming in thirty seconds. And this is a task I have to do three, four, sometimes five times a day. I love this boy so much, but his nail-scraping shrieks could drive even Mother Teresa to utter a harsh word.
Even with that in mind, I don't think my anger was about the failed nap. (Maybe it was about the nap a little bit.)
More than anything, I think it's about the season. I always forget how much the lack of sunlight and the cold weather affect me until I'm tearing around the kitchen like an angry bull. Then I realize, oh yeah, this season really makes me kind of crazy. I get moody, lethargic, depressed, and angry. I'm short-tempered, tired, and sometimes mean.
I watch myself doing horrible things like criticizing Thom or banging around the house, and I know deep inside that this is not acceptable behavior, but I can't stop myself.
I wish I wasn't so susceptible to outside forces, but I am. And being a mom makes it harder to do the things I need to to relieve the stress--like getting some fresh air or exercise. But I need to find a way to get a handle on this Seasonal Affective Disorder or it's going to be a mighty long winter for the Doyle family.
After I calmed down from the morning rampage, Crystal suggested we go to her house so she could nap with Pooker while the cleaners did their thing. I wrote this while the two of them slept for a couple hours. And now, as I finish this up and get ready to spend the day with my darling boy, I have to say things are looking a little brighter.
I may talk about River the most, but this family actually has two other babies: our kitties Edgar Allan and Poe. They've been severely neglected since River's arrival, but slowly as he gets more self-sufficient, they're getting a bit more attention.
As of yesterday, Poe will be receiving the bulk of mommy and daddy's care because she had an accident and broke her foot. I found her limping around yesterday morning and when I inspected her leg she gave a squeal of pain. Off to the emergency vet as soon as Crystal came over to take care of the Pooker, and the doctor confirmed that yes, she broke one little bone in her left hind leg and she would need a splint and wrap for the next month.
The poor girl must have fallen off of some high shelf clumsily because it's pretty remarkable for a cat to break her foot in a fall.
Here she is looking silly and miserable in her leg wrap (notice Edgar in the background plotting ways to take over her food dish).
I'm a work from home mom with endless sources of inspiration (including my husband and two kids).
The Wyrd Sisters chronicles my life, kids, and random thoughts. LittleSage is my design blog. Hope you'll check them both out.