Monday, June 30, 2014

Dear Jack: 12 Months

Dear Jack,

Happy first birthday!

When we drove to the hospital, I had done my best to set up a plan.  Your brother was with your Robinson grandparents and Aunt Elizabeth getting more than enough attention.  It was my first time away from him overnight and I felt sick to my stomach.  We had a scheduled induction since we had complications with your brother related to him being overdue.  For the first time in nine months, I felt like I had a little bit of control.  Just a little bit.  And though we never are truly in control, I thank God that I went with my instincts and scheduled an induction with you because the cord was wrapped around your neck, dangerously causing your heartrate to dip repeatedly.  When you were born, I let out a sigh of relief.  You were with us and you were safe.

Since that day, I have felt at the mercy of your whims.  When you are hungry, I nurse you.  When you are tired, I let you sleep on me.  For months, we were in survival mode.  I am not good at setting schedules and you are not so good at accepting them.  You may have been outside of me, but I lived to nurture you each day.  And you thrived!  Now that you are one year old, though, you are stepping away.  You sleep through the night.  You nurse just a few times a day.  On June 5, you started walking (at 11 months and about 10 days).  You walk away from me and around the corner to play by yourself.  You were once so very dependent on me; now you are exerting your independence.

These past few days, your brother has been away visiting your grandparents.  I miss him terribly (and I think you do too); however, it has been nice to focus just on you.  You seem like you have developed and grown so quickly while he has been away!  You jabber on with such expression.  You point to communicate.  You run.  And I mean you RUN.  I make cars vroom.  You mimic the way I play with toys.  You build.  You bang toys together.  You make everything growl.  One of your favorite things to do is to carry a toy around the house making it growl.

You are doing well with food.  Finally.  Your favorite foods are icecream, spaghetti (complete with sauce and Boca crumbles instead of ground beef), yogurt, blackbeans, and chips. You clearly point and jabber about what different foods you want.

For your birthday, we went to the Hunt Club.  You were pretty grumpy and not into it.  Then we came home and played in the yard.  A couple of days later, we threw you a dinosaur birthday party.  You dug for dinosaur bones in sand and splashed in the pool.  When it was time for your cupcake, you leaned over and ate the whole thing--and then another one!  We had a beautiful day celebrating you with family and a few friends.

Sometimes I think back to your newborn days and with a sigh I miss how tiny you once were.  You would nurse and then sleep and then nurse some more.  I loved to hold you close all of the time.  The thing is, though, you are becoming more and more fun the older that you grow.  You are more aware and involved.  You are starting to keep up with your brother in play, which is great and exciting, but hard sometimes too.

This birthday isn't about the fact that you are one, but instead celebrating this whole year.  We survived your first year, Jack!  And I think we might have even done a "good job" at it too.

When I was pregnant with you, I worried that I wouldn't be able to love you enough.  How could I give love to two babies at the same time?  How would there be enough of me to go around?  When I learned that you were boy, I was so excited and scared too.  Would I compare you and Eliot?  Would I be unfair without meaning to?  You and Eliot are so very different.  You have different demeanors and accomplish milestones at different rates.  You look like brothers, but you look unique as well.  Without a doubt, I love you both fiercely in the same way and the same amount.  I love every detail about both of you.  I didn't anticipate how full my heart would feel with two boys--how you would take this beautiful thing, our family, and accent it in a perfect way.  You bring so much to our family.  We love you, Jack.  We are so incredibly thankful for you.  Happy first birthday.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Life Lately

There have been so many ups and downs lately that I don't know where to start.

I've been working very hard on my dissertation, meeting new goals, learning of new obstacles and trainings I need to complete, waiting for feedback, and then tackling the next goal.  The good news is that I am FINALLY collecting data.

At work, Chris and I have been helping to set up a webinar for the Composition and Literature course.  It's been really enjoyable to connect with other instructors and form a team.  Thursday night is the webinar!  I'm quite excited to see it all come together.

I had this great system set up for cleaning the house and cooking dinner.  It was going great.  The house always felt reasonably tidy, dinner was ready by 5:00 pm, and then it was bedtime routine for the boys.  Then the boys got sick.  And I was lucky to eat dinner at 9:00 pm after I got them settled.  And the house fell apart.  In exchange for this, though, we've been working a lot on the outside of the house.  We've cleared out flowerbeds, planted tons, spread mulch, and so much more.  It really is coming together, though, and looking quite like a resort.

Jack will be a year old in just 2 days.  He is such a joy and a challenge.  He keeps me on my toes.  We are still nursing, but I'm trying very hard to wean him.  People always talk about how hard it is to breastfeed, but people rarely talk about the challenges of weaning a baby.  I had hoped to be able to nurse him for six months.  I never imagined I would have so much trouble weaning him after a year!  For him, this is like taking away his paci and bottle while also getting him to transition to solids all at the same time.  He is none-too-pleased about it and seems to cry a bit.  I've gone from nursing him every two hours to now just about two to three times a day.  I nurse him in the morning, at naptime, and then at bedtime.  I need to work on getting him to sleep without nursing (which I know is possible), but we're making progress.
Our Jack is such a sweet, smart little guy, though.  He started walking about two weeks ago.  Instead of leaning his head forward and trying to keep up with his feet, he started doing a t-rex walk.  He is so proud of himself and laughs and laughs.  After a week of practice, he is walking even better.  He can walk from room to room without falling. He has picked up the speed too and even runs a bit.

Eliot is on a vacation of sorts.  He went up to northern Virginia to visit with his Robinson grandparents, which he was just so excited about.  I know he is having a blast going to museums, playing at parks, and having alllll of the attention on him.  It is good for him.  I have to admit, though, that it is kind of heartbreaking for me.  I miss him so much all day.  I'm so used to him talking to me all the time.  I feel like I'm missing a limb.  I love that stinker so much.  He is something special.  He will be back in a couple of days, though, just in time for Jack's birthday party.

I feel like a bit of a recluse lately.  We haven't been off much.  We haven't had friends over really either.  Chris's parents visited last weekend for his dad to attend his conference, but other than that, it has mostly just been us hanging around the house or playing in the backyard.  Everyone seems busy and I suppose the days go by fast and a week can pass by in a moment when you're looking after little ones.  Sometimes I don't know how I even find time to go to the grocery store (it is never easy).  After the party this weekend, I need to snap out our routine and set up some fun with friends.  Otherwise, summer is going to breeze by.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Why I Do Not Blog (Lately)

I have kept a blog of sorts for 15 years.  Fifteen years.  I would report my day-to-day.  I would write what I was feeling.  I write about my dreams, hopes, fears, and so much more.  I was honest.  I felt like I was writing to myself (maybe my future self) or just to nothingness.  However, the internet is not the black nothingness that I once thought it was.  I am not ashamed of anything that I wrote as a thirteen-year-old or an eighteen-year-old.  I remember being 18 and writing about how Chris and I had been together for ten months.  Ten whole months!  That felt so significant back then.  Now that it has been 10 years, 10 months seems like nothing.  That was where I was at that time.  We grow.  I love having a record of my growth.

However, lately I have been more quiet.  Ever since I had Jack, I've had less time for blogging.  There are other reasons, though, besides time.

Who am I writing to?  As I said, I always have written for myself.  Now I also write for my family both near and far.  I write to keep people updated.  I write for my boys so that they will have a glimpse at who I was when they were little ones.  However, there are a lot of other viewers of whom I am unaware.  Do I want to share my insecurities with strangers?  Do I want everyone to know every detail of my day-to-day?  What if someone is reading with ill-intent--if they use my words against me to joke on me?

I have it figured out!  Uh.  Nevermind.  When days are rough, I don't like to complain, so I don't write or I try to write something more positive.  When I think I have our days figured out, I happily report it, but then the boys up and change on me.  I feel like I'm right where I started:  getting by happily but not a "super mom" by any means.  It feels silly to write when I know I will have so many retractions within a couple of days.

So repetitive.  We have a lot of fun, but sometimes I feel like I'm repeating myself.  "I did a lot of work this weeeek.  And then we went to the beach.  And then I planted elephant ears.  I'm glad sunshine exists.  I love my kids.  They love water and Kool-aid.  Want to talk about paaaalm trees?"  I feel like I sound like that constantly.  And I love all of these things.  Don't I have something more entertaining to say?

What will the boys (and their peers) think when they're older?  I've read some blogs where parents worry about their kids' lack of choice in participating in a public blog.  A mother writes a blog, includes countless photos (some embarrassing), and reports intimate details, like the fact that her baby pooped in the tub.  While it is all cute now, that information is public.  Years later, will bullies access my blog and share embarrassing stories (that I think are cute) about my kids to mock them?  I try not to include anything that could be embarrassing, especially now that Eliot is getting older.

My writing is so... sterile.  I have a certain voice on this blog.  Or maybe it is a lack of a voice.  A tone.  It is not an academic tone.  It is not a poetic tone.  It is not a creative tone.  It's almost just like a fact-reporting, mom-ish tone.  It's sterile.  Sometimes the lack of personality makes me sick to my stomach.  In my writing classes, didn't I learn to be more than this?  And the answer is yes.  I save my poems for a notebook that I keep in a drawer next to my bed.  I continue to work on my creative writing and poetic voice in private.  I hash out my academic tone while working on my dissertation.  I have many voices for various outlets.  This is just one of them.  That doesn't stop me from feeling frustrated when I don't "sound" the way I want to.

When I go to blog, these are the thoughts that stop me.  However, I don't plan to stop writing a blog anytime soon.  It's my nature to write.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Dear Jack: 11 Months

Dear Jack,

One more month left until you hit a year.  I can hardly stand that thought!  You are growing up so fast!  You are doing such big boy things.  The day before Mother's Day, you started taking more and more steps on your own before falling.  This month, you had your first haircut, which I must say was overdue.  You had a little bit of a mullet going on in the back.

I'm trying to teach you to rely on me less for food.  You've never been super into solids, but I have convinced you that drinking almond milk from a sippy cup is quite fun.  You always want to steal my food, but only to give it to the dogs.  Arg.  I had you doing well with solids, but then you got sick one week and regressed.  Speaking of food, you now have four teeth up top and two teeth on the bottom!  We're still nursing, by the way.  A lot.  It feels like too much, but you'll get weaned when the time is right.  Hopefully in a month or so.

You have such a funny temperament.  You are always laughing and smiling or crying and screaming.  Sometimes I wonder if you are teething or just bored when you throw a fit.  You seem to get frustrated by your limitations--you want to have everything your brother does (especially his food, which, as I said, you're just trying to give to the dogs).  When we are out and about, though, you are much more cheery and easy-to-please.  That makes me think you are simply bored.  You know how to light up a room with your smile and flirting with strangers.  I can always count on you for a big grin in the morning.  You also like to clap your hands, give high-fives, and shake your head "no".

You're doing all right as far as sleep goes.  You sleep for about 12 hours in your crib.  You either wake up at 4:30 am for a snack and sleep in until 6:00 am or you get up for the day at 5:00 am.  It is hit or miss.  You take a morning nap and an afternoon nap, but you always want to be held while you sleep during the day.  I love watching you sleep because you look so peaceful.  When you sleep, you remind me of Eliot at this age.

You are still a big fan of water.  We swim in the pool frequently.  You love it when Daddy throws you in the air and blows bubbles for you.  You like the beach because there is so much sand to eat and dig in.  The waves scare you just a little when an unexpected wave gets you wet, but I'm always right there to save you when the water gets too close.  The only drawback about you loving the water is that you also are very interested in the toilet....  You have not touched the toilet water yet, but you have tried.  Oh boy, have you TRIED.  You have flushed the toilet a couple of times, but have not thrown anything in yet.  Yet...

I can hardly believe that you are the same little baby boy we brought home from the hospital last June.  I look at my maternity photos from a year ago and remember how I waited and worried and yearned for you.  Now you are here.  Every day, I get to hold you and kiss you.  Every day, I get to hear you growl as you play with dinosaurs and "vroom" when you play with cars.  I'm so blessed to have you near me.  Healthy.  Strong.  Smart.  Sweet.  Growing.  I never take you for granted--not one second.  We love you, baby, our son.