Thursday, December 24, 2009


Jonah is two. I should have written something here on his birthday, but this time of year has become filled with celebrations with family and friends. It's probably a good thing I don't have much time to be on the computer. As I write, I wait for Jonah and Matthew to return from a lunch date with Papa Tom. Three generations of Cavanaugh males out to lunch. I can only imagine what sort of antics they are up to, but I'm sure there are lots of laughs. We are at Neeni (Auntie Dani) and Uncle Marc's house for Christmas. We arrived a few days before Jonah's birthday. Celebrations all around. A birthday party for Jonah. He ate his whole cupcake this year. Last year, they were homemade by me and kind of healthy. This year, Betty Crocker helped me. Things change. Then, it was the winter solstice. Jonah went on a magical sleigh ride in Vermont with his Daddy, cousin Hugo, Auntie Eliza and Uncle Gerard. (Mama went to yoga.) In the days leading up to Christmas, we have been visiting and getting ready and finally seem to be catching up on sleep and getting over colds. Tonight, Jonah knows that Santa Claus comes while he sleeps. Tonight, we eat French meat pie and go visiting and will stay out late and hope the boy crashes in the car and stays asleep during the move to his crib. In the morning, Christmas magic. I love Christmas, but I love it even more through Jonah's eyes. This kid has already been showered with so many lovely gifts. But, I really can't wait for him to wake up and see those special Santa presents under the Christmas tree. He is two. He is a handful. And, he is magic. ~ Nicole

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Trick or treat!

We took Jonah trick-or-treating last night. It was a last-minute decision. Matthew had taken Jonah out to the playground, at my request, while I took one of those coma-like naps that are so rare to come by these days. When they got home, it was Jonah who woke me out of my dead sleep. "See mama," he said quietly from the foot of my bed. Then, when he didn't see me under the pile of covers, he yelled, "MAMA!"

Matthew told me about a nice boy that Jonah played with at the playground, who then headed home with his parents to get ready for trick-or-treating on Lanier Place. We had already seen the signs around the neighborhood. They planned to close down part of the street to vehicles for three hours for trick-or-treating. I was still groggy with sleep but had managed to move to the couch. "I think we should do it," Matthew said, sounding about as excited as a 10-year-old kid. I asked Jonah if he wanted to go trick-or-treating and wear his Bob the Builder costume. "Hmm!" he said, nodding his head, his eyes wide. (That means yes.)

Dressed in overalls, a striped shirt, boots, a hard hat and a tool belt, Jonah walked down the street between us as we headed toward Lanier. We were excited but a little unsure if Jonah, not even 2 years old, would embrace seeing a bunch of strange kids (and adults) in weird costumes. But, there's a fire station on the street, so we knew that at the very least we could take him to see the fire trucks. As we started down Lanier, I heard someone say, "Hey, builder man." A nice man sitting at the bottom of his stoop holding a bowl of candy. I held Jonah's hand and together we walked up to the man. "Say trick-or-treat," I said to Jonah. "Trick treat," he said, quietly. Then, he picked out a piece of candy, a bit uncertainly. "Put it in your bag," I told him. "And say thank you." And he did. "You're welcome. Happy Halloween," said the nice man. "Happy Ween," said Jonah. I looked up and saw the biggest smile on Matthew's face.

I looked around and realized that nice people holding big bowls of candy were sitting on the stoops of almost every house on this part of the street. Some were wearing costumes, like the guy dressed as a banana, who Jonah really liked. "Bina," he said, pointing at the banana guy. Even the firefighters were handing out candy. "Fire!" Jonah shouted when he saw the fire trucks. "Two fire crucks!" and "Ambance!"
We walked up one side of the street and down the other, sticking to the houses that drew Jonah or the ones where he didn't have to climb a whole bunch of steps. It didn't take him long to get the hang of it, saying, "Next house. Next house."

After visiting about a dozen or so houses, we decided that was enough and it was time to get home. Jonah seemed very proud of his bag of loot. At home, I showed him how to dump out the candy on the floor. He was especially interested in the lollipops and tried to put some wrapped candy bars in his mouth, but the only thing I let him eat were some raisins while he waited for dinner. I put his bag of candy on top of the refridgerator, it's "special spot," I told him. He hasn't even asked for the candy today. Clearly, for Jonah, his first time at trick-or-treating wasn't really about the candy. It was about growing up. How proud and a little sad it made Matthew and me feel to see our baby boy, a little man now, interacting with people on his own, learning the ropes of a neighborhood tradition in just a few minutes and how pleased he was with himself for doing it. ~ Nicole

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Things Jonah loves right now

Walking by himself.
Watching kids ride tricycles and trying to ride them himself.
Taking roll call: Mama! Daddy! Jo-jo! Pete! Fammy! Neeni!
Calling us the wrong name and then saying, "Noooo!" with a cute little smile and head tilt.
Reading books.
Saying his letters and numbers.
Singing the ABC song.
Hugging Sammy and Pete.
Hugging Mama and Daddy.
Bob the Builder.
Mr. Potato Head.
Using magic markers.
Hugging his stuffed animals, especially "Matt" the snow leopard.
Jumping on the couch.
Throwing all the couch cushions on the floor.
Hiding. (Under blankets, beneath his stroller cover, behind the chair, with his hands over his eyes.)
Wearing funny hats.
Autumn, his yoga teacher.

Monday, September 28, 2009


A few of Jonah's new sentences:

"See Mama." I want to see Mama.
"Eh. Two. Zoo. Saw." I saw two elephants at the zoo.
"Fire. Side. Saw." I saw a firetruck outside.
"Mama hitah." Mama sit so I can nurse.
"Side!" I want to nurse on the other side. Or ... let's go outside.
"Jo-Jo Daddy hug." Jonah wants to give Daddy a hug.
"Pete hug." I want to hug Pete.
"Hug." Give me a hug. I want to give you a hug.
"Two moo. Saw." I saw two cows.
"See moo." I want to see the cows.
"Max cruck!" I am going to play with trucks at Max's house.
"Pete weow." Pete said meow.
"Fammy weow." Sammy said meow.
"Bahboo hit." I want to hit the ball.
"Bahboo kick." I want to kick the ball.
"Bahboo frow." I want to throw the ball.
"Neeni hobum." Neeni's (Auntie Dani's) house. I like Neeni's house. I remember Neeni's house. I want to go to Neeni's house.
"Dada wawa." I remember swimming in the water with Dahlia.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


It has never been more obvious to me that Jonah is going through some major developmental milestones. His language is exploding, and he is getting stronger and more agile. The other day, he climbed up to the highest rung on the playground equipment pretty much by himself. It made me proud but it was also a little terrifying since I was spotting him in a place that felt just a little too high for me to feel like I had 100% control over him if he were to lose his grip. But, I talked him through the descent, and luckily he let go a little lower down. So, now he's a climber. He also has more and more new words every day. Tonight, at dinner, he was saying one of his new favorites over and over. "Seeeeeee-sawwwwww ... seeeeee-sawwwwwww ... seeeeeeeee-sawwwwww," he sang, tilting his head side to side and tipping his fork up and down, just like a see-saw. One of my favorite new things to do is to ask him, "Jonah, how old are you going to be?" "TWO!" he says. He seems to be really energized by all the things going on in his body and brain, too. Despite having a cold for the last couple of days, he played soccer in the park pretty much all afternoon today, kicking and running, kicking and running, and even throwing and catching (sometimes). He also loves taking roll call. "Mama!" "Daddy!" "Jo-jo!" "Neeni!" And, lately he has added some new "mystery" names, like "Didi!" "Dodo!" We wonder who Didi and Dodo are. Jonah hasn't yet told us. There's so much more to tell, but so little time to write, with all this exploding going on. He's just a few months away from 2, and he is racing to it as fast as he can, and all we can do is try to keep up. ~ Nicole

Friday, August 14, 2009

It's okay to have a tantrum

Well, I experienced Jonah's first full-blown temper tantrum today. I thought we had seen little tantrums before, but now I know that Jonah has never really had a tantrum before today.

So, this is what happened today:
Jonah spent the morning with my friend, Jeannie, and her son, Max, who is one of Jonah's best friends. (Jeannie and I swap babysitting each week.) When I arrived to pick him up, Jeannie was just walking up to her house pushing the boys in the double stroller. Well, it wasn't even 11:30 a.m. and Jonah was asleep in the stroller, his head slumped over. "He fell asleep about three blocks ago," Jeannie said. He hasn't crashed that early in a long time, especially not while he's out and about in a stroller with another toddler! When I tried transferring him into his car seat, he woke up in my arms. That was fine with me since he hadn't been asleep very long. I figured he would either fall back to sleep in the car and I'd drive him around for a while or he'd stay awake on the way home, where I would feed him lunch and then go through the normal nap routine at home. As I walked him to the car, he started crying and pointing at Max's house. I decided to go back to Jeannie's and see if he wanted to nurse, hoping that would cheer him up and make the ride home go more smoothly. After we were finished, he started playing with some of Max's toys. Max was already eating his lunch so I made a quick exit despite Jonah's protests. Nothing unusual here, though. He sometimes protests leaving Max's house. He loves it there!

I finally got him into the car. He cried for a few minutes but quieted down when I gave him a CD cover to play with. But, soon, he threw it aside and started crying again, harder this time. I tried singing all of his favorite songs, hoping to cheer him up or distract him, but instead of bobbing his head along to the tune, he yelled in protest after a the first few lyrics. He rejected Old McDonald, Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, The Itsy Bitsy Spider and even Wheels on the Bus! At this point, I just turned up the radio and concentrated on getting home.

Parked in front of our apartment, I started getting him out of the car seat, but he fought me, pulling the straps back onto his shoulders like he wanted to stay in the seat. I got him out of the car, despite his yelling and kicking. He cried loudly as I carried him to the door. He flailed around a lot but I held onto him until I got to the top of the front steps, where I had to put him down since I was juggling two bags and a set of keys. As soon as I put him down, he kicked and screamed and nearly slammed his head on the cement but I stopped him with my hand on the back of his head. I kind of had to drag him in the entry way -- he was all floppy and kicky at the same time. When I closed the door he tried opening it like he wanted to go back out, all while crying and yelling, snotty-nosed and red faced. Same thing when I got him in the apartment. Once inside, when I took off his shoes he tried putting them back on, while crying and yelling and clearly frustrated that he couldn't do it. He rolled around kicking and crying on the floor. I had a few moments of panic, not really knowing what to do. None of my tricks were working. Distraction wasn't working. Trying to cheer him up wasn't working.

Finally, I got him into his bedroom, turned off the lights, closed the shades, turned on the white noise machine and sat in the rocker. I figured if I could just nurse him, he would calm down. Well, he refused. Another feeling of panic! This was supposed to be my ace in the hole.

But then, I realized that it was useless to try to distract him or make him do something he didn't want to do. So, I just held him. I realized that he just needed to feel safe and secure. I needed to just hold him and let him know that it was okay to feel this way. I looked at him and said, "It's okay to be angry. It's okay to feel bad. Mama is here and you are going to be alright." I said it a few times. His sobs finally slowed down and he looked into my eyes. We connected and he seemed to understand. Finally, he nursed. Then, he pointed to the door, which I opened for him, and trotted happily down the hall into the living room to play with some toys. I gave him his sippy cup and made him lunch, which he ate heartily. After lunch, we went back into his room and read his current favorite book "The Taxi Dog." We didn't even finish the book before he asked to nurse. He quickly fell asleep and slept for nearly two hours.

When he woke up, he was very groggy and a little grumpy. I didn't fight it when he wanted to wear his Hawaiian shirt with his truck pajama pants and no shoes outside.

A few factors probably contributed to the tantrum. He is sleep deprived because he has been sick and is still not 100% over his cold, combined with his "do-it-myself" attitude of late. On top of that, he hasn't had much of an appetite lately due to feeling under the weather. If I was as tired, hungry and sick feeling as he has been, I would probably have a tantrum to. I probably have had one in the past 19 months!

I guess I should be thankful that we didn't see this sort of thing until he was almost 20 months, right? Phew. I'm just glad it's over. At least for now. ~ Nicole

Monday, July 27, 2009

Jonah's words at 19 months

(Not necessarily a comprehensive list.)

cruck = truck
gook = book
guck or duck = duck
Daddya = Daddy
Papa or Pop or Pep = Papa or Pepe (his grandfathers)
babooa = ball
bwoon = balloon
totu = tofu
ah or ahah = apple
hi-ah = sit, sitting, sit down, seat or chair
Neeni = Auntie Dani
Tatu = Tatum
teehee = kitty
wawa = water
carc = car
foo = shoe or foot
eh = elephant
nynee = lion
eee eee = monkey
bwoo = cow
bwoo bwoo = owl
baa = sheep
hobum = home or house or we are home
Dodo or Nono = Jojo
Nonah = Jonah
ha = hop or bunny
he-eh = hat, head or hair
bu = blueberry
cra = crayon or color
Bob = Bob the Builder
didder = digger

Words he has signs for:
sing or music
wash hands
belly button

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The good doctor ... visit

Jonah had is 18-month check up today. He loved playing with all the toys in the waiting room and the doctor's office, but was very wary of the doctor's instruments at first. Then, after the doctor looked in mommy and daddy's ears, listened to our hearts, checked our tummies and looked at our legs, Jonah was interested and much more receptive to letting her examine him. And, then he clearly fell in love with her when she gave us an oatmeal raisin (and chocolate chip! shhh!) cookie to share. He was very upset about the shot, but recovered faster than ever, especially since we got a second cookie to share!
Here's Jonah's latest stats (he's right on track):
Weight: 26.5 pounds
Height: 33 1/2 inches
Head: 20 inches

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Time to say good-bye

We said good-bye to Brie and Tatum today. They fly out tomorrow for the west coast, eventually landing in northern California, their new home. Tatum is Jonah's best friend. His first best friend.

Brie has been my best friend in many ways over the last year and a half. She and I met when we were pregnant. We were in the same birthing class. We happened to hire the same midwives, and we ran into each other most weeks at the same prenatal yoga class. But, it wasn't until after the babies were born, during the early months of getting to know our babies and ourselves as new moms, that Brie and I really clicked.

Most of the eight moms from our birthing class started meeting regularly, about every week, when our babies were about 8 weeks old. Gradually, all the other moms of went back to work. At the time, Brie and I were the only stay-at-home moms. We happened to live on the same long street, a short walk from one another. We ended up spending a good deal of time together, getting the babies together on our living room floors at first and at the playgrounds and parks later, talking about nursing, sleep, solid food, teething and all the things you wonder about with your first baby. Brie was finishing her master's degree in public health so she was a valuable and credible source of information for me, the worried mom of a little baby. And, her sweet, open, patient and positive personality had such a calming effect on me. I have so much gratitude that I had her in my life at such an intense and wondrous time. So, I am sad to lose the day-to-day presence of that friendship. But, I also realized recently that that is not the only reason I am so sad to see them go. Brie has been a witness to Jonah's life. Other than Matthew and I, Brie is the person who knows Jonah best. She has been there through all our ups and downs, our trials and triumphs, big and small, all incredible and important.

Brie and I swapped babysitting regularly for several months starting when the babies were around 9 months old and then continued helping each other out in that way off and on right up until a few days ago. Over the last few weeks, Jonah and Tatum have spent a lot of time together. Brie needed time to organize, clean and pack their apartment, and I needed breaks now and then during Matthew's two recent work trips. I am so glad they had a lot of time together recently but it made it even harder to say good-bye today.

Not that it could have been easy anyway.

Jonah and Tatum make each other laugh. They have so much fun together. They mimic each other. Jonah loves to feed Tatum. He loves to hug her. She loves to chase him. He loves to be chased. They played "beautiful" music together on Brie's keyboard. Tatum ate better when she was around Jonah. And, they share a similar temperament, feisty, a little stubborn, minds of their own. It was always so clear to me not only how comfortable Jonah was in Brie's care, but also how much he loved spending time with her and Tatum. If I was having trouble getting Jonah to agree to get in his stroller, all I had to say was, "Do you want to go see Tatum and Brie?" and his face would light up and he'd make his happy noise. Brie said she often employed the same tactic with Tatum.

We had Brie and her husband, Jordan, and Tatum over to our house the other day for brunch as a way to say good-bye. The babies chased each other up and down our long hallway and "hiding" from each other in the different rooms. They danced and hopped around in Jonah's crib. They fought over toys, of course. Jordan left today by car with the trailer packed with all their stuff. Brie and Tatum leave tomorrow morning.

When Jonah woke up from his nap today, I sent a text message to Brie, just like I do many days, to see what they are up to in the afternoon. We made plans to meet up at Walter Pierce Park near my house, something we have done countless times over the past 18 months. It could have been any day, any play date. And, to the kids, it was just like any other day. They went on the swings and when Tatum asked to get down Jonah was bummed and made his sign for "more," as in "More Tatum on the swings." Tatum got on the little seesaw and pointed to other seat, her way of saying, "Jonah sit here." They giggled while "driving" the fire truck. They mimicked each other kicking their feet at the top of the slide. They "shared" snacks, each wanting the food that the other mom brought. They -sigh- hugged each other (at our request, of course) long enough to capture them on camera. Then, Brie mentioned how much she wanted to head to Larry's Ice Cream in Dupont Circle one last time, so we all headed down there and indulged in a late afternoon treat. I don't think anyone wanted the day to end. But, eventually, we headed toward home and hit the corner where we had to part ways, and we couldn't prolong it anymore - it was getting close to the babies' dinnertime. We said our good-byes and headed in opposite directions. I told Jonah Tatum is going to be a California girl. Matthew said, "The saddest part is that neither one of them know what they are losing."

Nothing prepares you for the enormity of love you have for your own child, but I was also surprised by how much I fell in love with Tatum. I love her because Jonah loves her. I love her because she likes to sit on my lap or have me pick her up or look at something I am wearing. I love her because she has a terrific mom who helped me survive the wonderful and challenging experience of raising a new baby and a young toddler, who listened and never judged, who helped me think things through, and who, most of all, provided one of the best models of good parenting I have ever seen.

I'm really not sure what I'm going to do without them. It's going to take some getting used to. I will have to watch Tatum continue to grow up from afar, through photos and emails. And, of course, I will wonder how long the kids will remember each other, knowing that some day they will probably forget, and that they will only know about that very special time in their lives (and their moms' lives) by the pictures we show them and the stories we tell them about how lucky they were to have, at such a young age, their very first best friend. ~ Nicole

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Jonah is 18 months old today

I wonder if it's just a coincidence that today was one of the most challenging days ever with Jonah. He is 18 months old today and seems to have stepped right into toddlerhood, with all its wonderful moments and frequent frustrations. Or maybe it's just me reaching the end of my rope during the last couple of days of Matthew's work trip. I have this fantasy of him walking in the door, me handing him the baby and a sippy cup and saying, "See ya! You boys have fun. Mama's going out for a long, long time. Later!"

Even so, I think things are going about as well as can be expected, but, man, I am really ready for Matthew to come home. I need the extra set of hands to play with Jonah while I fix breakfast, too help interpret his grunts and frustrated outbursts, to change a poopy diaper while I feed the cats, to step in and redirect Jonah when he freaks out because I put the toy on the floor instead of wherever he wanted it to be, to let me stay in bed for an extra 30 minutes when Jonah wakes up at the crack of dawn (which he has done every day!).

Everything took longer today. This morning, he only wanted to wear a t-shirt and a hat and refused to let me put pants on him, but wanted to go outside to see the doggies and keeps banging on the door and making doggie noises.

His language skills are exploding. He is trying new words every day, and it is so clear to me that he understands almost everything he hears. He has been really interested in grouping objects into categories. Some mornings, he wants to hold all of his bunnies. Other times, he shows me all of his ducks. Or, he lines up all his little cars and trucks under the kitchen table and shows me what he is done, clearly proud of himself. Today, he lined up all the little plastic links that used to hold dangly toys on his floor gym when he was an infant. He spread them out on the living room floor, looked at me, pointed at them and said "Ah!" obviously very pleased about his work. He has also been "hiding" a lot. Sitting in the lower cupboard in the kitchen, he pulls the door closed a bit, then opens it and says "Hi!" with a big smile. Today, he was hiding behind a pillow over and over.

I remember when he reached 6 months. Around that time, though not on the actual day, Matthew was away on a work trip. I think he was covering the Pennsylvania presidential primary. I couldn't believe that we had made it to 6 months in one piece. It was a lovely day and I was so happy that he had reached that milestone age. Now, here we are a year later. He is walking, running, almost jumping, dancing, singing, talking, signing. It's unbelievable. It's also a little bittersweet. He is growing up. He is just as close to being 2 as he is to 1. I wonder if I will feel this way for all of his half birthdays.

A year ago, I said I thought the first six months passed in the blink of an eye. Well, I blinked again and now he's 18 months old! Last year, we were just thinking about starting solid foods. Today, he eats everything, except when he doesn't, like today when he refused peas and only wanted oatmeal (my oatmeal) for dinner. He is still my baby, though. I stared at his face after he fell asleep tonight. He is so beautiful. He sighed as I put him in his crib and he snuggled down onto his belly. (Oh, we have come so far in some areas!) Yes, he is still my little baby Jo-jo. Despite the many times I let out long, exasperated sighs today, the night ended peacefully. He put his bath toys away all by himself. He told me when he was all done reading books by waving bye-bye to "Where the Wild Things Are." And, then he turned toward me with a cuddle, asking to nurse, asking for sleep. And, then he fell asleep in my arms, my little baby boy. ~ Nicole

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Bye-bye Daddy

We dropped of Matthew at Union Station this afternoon so he could catch a train to BWI Airport. He's off again for another six-day work trip. This time it's only New York, not the other side of the world. We have been so enamored by Jonah saying "Daddy's home" that it has become one of his favorite things to say. He said it a lot this afternoon after we said good-bye to Daddy. I think he does understand, though, that Daddy is not home, but just doesn't know how to say "not home" yet. He does say "prip," which means "trip" or "Daddy's on a trip." Matthew is photographing golf. Hope for good weather. If it rains as much as it is supposed to, I worry that Daddy's trip will end up being a bit longer. Frankly, that ... would ... suck. We have lots of things planned, but nothing too exhausting. And, somehow, I ended up with a lot of offers of help, which I am accepting. So, that will be nice and allow me some time to catch my breath and then go back and be a good mom again. I'm even going to try to go to my book club one night this week! Crazy, I know! Wish us luck. Daddy will be home, I hope, on June 22, in the morning. (Yes, he is missing Father's Day. Boo. But, at least I don't have to buy a gift! At least not right away.) I'll provide updates from time to time, but probably not every day. I will need to save some time for yoga. ~ Nicole

Friday, June 12, 2009

New things

Just a few of Jonah's new things:

Jonah said his first "sentence" the other day. (He put two words together.) It was, "Da-DEEEE! Ha-hoooo," which means "Daddy's home!"

He "crawls" on his hands and feet for fun.

He walks on his tippy toes for fun.

Four more teeth are coming in, bringing his total number of teeth up to 16.

He can walk up and down a few stairs by himself while holding a railing.

He can go down a slide on his butt by himself, but often still prefers to hold my hand.

He has begun grabbing our hands (or pants) and leading us around, showing us what he wants us to do with him, whether it's coloring or playing with the kitties and their toys.

He picks out books he wants us to read to him. Often, he sits on the floor with a book "reading" by himself.

He knows how to make the noises for the following animals: cow, owl, horse, fish, snake, kitty, doggie and duck.

He knows where things are in our neighborhood, often getting annoyed when I take a "wrong" turn.

Today, he picked up a tennis ball and made his panting noise for doggie. I asked, "Do you want to give that ball to the doggie?" He smiled and nodded, so we brought the ball to my friend Jeannie's house so Jonah could give it to her little dog, Maggie.

It's an exciting time. Last night, Matthew and I were remarking about how we think this is the best phase in Jonah's life. And, then we realized, we always think it's the best phase. We always say that. Because it's true. And, it just keeps getting better! ~ Nicole

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Day Six

After a lovely day yesterday, I was kept awake until nearly 2 a.m. by people partying in the alley behind our house. I was desperate for sleep, but just as I would start to drift off, a loud "Whoo hoo!" would erupt from the din of voices. I couldn't believe they didn't wake Jonah up. That is, I couldn't believe they didn't wake him up until they did ... at 5:48 a.m. this morning. Yes, some must have stayed up all night and then woke up Jonah when they were clanking empty bottles around in the trash can. So, I got all of about 4 hours of sleep last night. Coffee was my friend today. Fun at the playground ended a little early because of a very tired boy and a very tired mama. Jonah mostly pushed his food around at lunch but fell asleep quickly. And, so did I, which was good because he only slept about 45 minutes. More coffee for mama. My saving grace today was that my friend, Jeannie, offered to watch Jonah for a couple hours to give me a break this afternoon. I decided to tackle some of the chores that had been piling up all week, do some food prep for dinner tonight and take a quick shower. Just as I was about to hop in, I got a text from Matthew saying he had landed and would be home in an hour! Jonah and I arrived home fro the babysitter about 20 minutes before Daddy. Jonah was already eating and barely seemed to notice at first, but soon after he finished eating Jonah and Daddy had a snuggle fest. And, lucky me, Matthew was just in time to relieve me from bath duty! That's all for now. Daddy is home. Mama needs to catch her breath, drink some tea and look forward to relaxing in a clean house for a couple of days, all three of us home together again.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Day Five

The sun came out today. Just in time. And, I didn't see it until 7 a.m.! (Anyone who has kids understands that 7 a.m. is sleeping in.) Jonah and I lingered around in my bed for another 30 minutes or so, and he was very cuddly this morning. But, soon, he was off and running as usual, looking for the kitties, looking for his trucks, asking for crayons, asking for the kitties' toys so he can play with them. It was a bit of a scramble but I managed to have both of us ready for the day about an hour later. Jonah's morning plans were to go to the playground and music class with Ken. Thank you, Ken! My plans were to take out the trash (finally) and go to yoga. My yoga class was energizing and relaxing. I left class and stopped at the farmers' market and found some fresh, local strawberries and a few other things. The sun was shining, the temperature was perfect and there was a little breeze. And, I was all alone. So lovely! I arrived home well before Jonah so instead of cleaning or opening the mail or doing the laundry, I took a long, hot shower. Afterwards, I felt refreshed and relaxed. Ken and Jonah came home around 11:30 and we sat with Jonah at the table while he ate his lunch, something very simple that took as little energy as possible for me to make. He loved it and ate a good amount. After Ken left, Jonah seemed to get a burst of energy and I started to worry a bit about naptime, but after some mellow play and several books, he became sleepy. He was asleep by 1. Despite my energy earlier, I decided to soak up as much down time as possible so I got in bed, and Sammy and Pete were snuggled up together, purring, on the other side. I never got tired enough to really sleep, but I chilled. After about an hour, I cheered to myself that Jonah had slept longer than any nap over the previous three days. After an hour and a half, I got hungry so I got up and had something to eat. Then, I decided to go back to bed. Almost two hours after going to sleep, Jonah woke up. Two hours!!! Hurray!!! The rest of the day was just about perfect: Starbucks, playground, chatting with Sharona, and then dinner at Erin's house across the street to top it all off! Jonah loved David's fajitas, especially the black beans, and was completely charming and goofy. We stayed out a little later than usual, but hey, it's Saturday night! Then, a quick bath, skipped the books, and Jonah was asleep by about 8. I still have dishes to do and lots of other little chores, but I am leaving them undone for now. And, it feels great.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Day Four

9 a.m. Tatum came over to play with Jonah while Brie did some packing for their *sigh* move to California in a few weeks. They ate blueberries, strawberries and raspberries, drank from eat others' sippy cups and ate from each others' snack cups of oatios. The toddlers take turns petting Pete the cat, which Tatum calls "nona," her word for Jonah.
10 a.m. Jonah bit Tatum on the arm while the two wrestled for a toy. Tatum cried. I made Jonah "apologize" by gently stroking Tatum's arm.
10:15 a.m. Dance party to the instrumental version of the alphabet song.
11 a.m. Tatum goes home.
11:30 a.m. Jonah and I eat lunch. Yes, I ate lunch at 11:30. I excitedly presented him with some yummy leftover ravioli but he only ate the peas and some toast.
12:45 p.m. Jonah starts a nap. I try to nap but decide to eat cookies instead.
1:35 p.m. Jonah ends his nap. We putter around. I procrastinate changing Jonah's diaper because I can just tell he doesn't want this to happen. Daddy calls! From Paris!
3 p.m. I finally change Jonah's diaper, get him dressed, in the stroller, holding his "nynee" (actually a cheetah, one of five things he calls "nynee") and his sippy cup with "crucks." We head out in a light drizzle and head to the library.
3:30 p.m. Jonah pets the blue "tee-eey" (kitty), then runs over to point at Oreo and Buttercup, the children's library's pet gerbils.
4:10 p.m. Jonah has a mini-tantrum when we leave the library so I carry him out in my arms while pushing the stroller but I am able to cheer him up by distracting him with the giant panda statue in front of the library.
4:30 p.m. We arrive home. A few minutes later Jessica arrives and plays with Jonah while I take a shower, take care of a couple chores and then fix his dinner. Jonah greatly enjoys Jessica's giant towers of blocks and her book reading voice, as well as how she "drives" his trucks over his head and her legs.
5:30 p.m. Jonah eats scrambled eggs with spinach and cheese and rice with applesauce. He talks about "DAAA-DEEE!" a lot and points at his chair.
6:15 p.m. Jessica and I give Jonah his bath. He loves to hear two people singing "Wheels on the Bus" to him as I dry him off. He tells me to sing about the "hoohoo" (owl) and the "nynee" and the "ssssss" (snake) on the bus.
6:40 p.m. Jessica keeps the (effing) cats at bay while I read Jonah "Bear Snores On," "The Night You Were Born" and "It's OK to be Different." Each time I pull out a book Jonah tells me "DAAA-DEEE!" reads it to him. "Yes, Daddy reads you this book," I say each time.
7:10 p.m. I lay Jonah down in his crib and sigh a big sigh. One more day down. Jessica is here to eat dinner with me and watch a movie. Fabulous Friday night! Tomorrow: yoga for mom, music class for Jonah and Ken. Only three more "sleeps" 'til "DAAA-DEE!" comes home.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Day Three

The day wasn't all bad, but let's just say that it ended kind of sucky. I did not make it to yoga tonight because the cats kept coming into Jonah's room as I was nursing him to sleep. Ken was here to sit for Jonah so I could go. But the effing cats woke Jonah up and despite the fact that I started bedtime early, it took 45 minutes to get him to sleep and I missed my chance to get to class on time. The day started out crazy, too, but I did make it to my acupuncture appointment - which was wonderful and a highlight of my day - despite having to scramble for a babysitter at 8:15 a.m. after I decided not to risk exposing Jonah to Max's illness. Thankfully, Brie was around and watched Jonah for me, which meant Jonah got to spend time with Tatum before she moves to California at the end of the month. (Jessica was also willing to babysit, so I even had backup!) But, we had another short nap today and I'm pretty sure it was the cats who woke Jonah up after only 40 minutes. They always misbehave when Matthew goes away! Does anyone want my cats? Seriously! I'm so done with them. Though, I guess I'm not selling them very well. Lots of other stuff happened today. Jonah talked a lot about "DaaaaDeee!" all day long, as well as his "nynee" (lion) and the "tee-eeys" (kitties). Oh, and he has learned the word "poop." But, frankly, I'm too tired and my neck is too crunchy feeling to go into any more of it. I just want to eat my ice cream, watch dumb TV and go to bed early. Oh, and I didn't get a photo today. Obviously, today was too crazy for photos. And, I forgot to ask Ken to take the trash out for me when he left, so I guess it will sit in the hallway all night. Peace.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Day Two

Not-so-good things about today:
Jonah's 40-minute nap.
Downpour in the middle of "Water Wednesday" (but Jonah would probably consider this a good thing since he LOVED standing in the rain, feeling the giant, warm raindrops).
The hairball Sammy puked up in the middle of Jonah's play area.
Jonah's spill on the sidewalk, when he bumped his forehead and ended up with a little egg.

Good things about today:
Two fun visits with Dahlia and Sharona.
The first "Water Wednesday" at Kalorama Park - hot, sticky weather, baby pools, cool water and toys!
Surprise visit from Brie and Tatum to help entertain Jonah while I fixed dinner.
Jonah recovering within seconds of bumping his head on the ground.
Lots of talking about "Daaadeee!" and big smiles and loving sweetness from my boy.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Day One

Matthew left this morning for six days of traveling in Europe and the Middle East with the president. For me, it's one bedtime down. I'm trying to take a more relaxed approach to this trip. Last time Matthew traveled, I jam packed my schedule, partly because I thought it would help the time to go by faster if I kept busy. But, I was very, very tired at the end of it. So, I'm just going to try to chill a bit, even if it makes things a little monotonous. So what if we go to the same two parks every single day, right? As long as it doesn't require too much effort, it's fine with me. And, Jonah couldn't care less. In fact, he would probably love to climb on the fire truck at Walter Pierce playground every singe day!

Jonah talked a lot today about his Daddy. "Prip!" he said. "Yes, Daddy went on a trip," I said. "Daaaa-deeee!" he said with a big, wide smile.

I started dinner early today because it's the hardest time of day. Jonah is not only tired and hungry but also wants a lot of attention, which clearly makes it difficult to cook his dinner. He doesn't know what time it is so I didn't mind feeding him dinner about 45 minutes earlier than usual. It worked out well because he went to sleep a little earlier, too, which gave me extra time to clean the kitchen. I still have to feed the cats, clean the litter box and take a shower, but I wanted to take a minute to jot a few thoughts down about Day One.

I know Matthew is going to miss Jonah terribly. So, I'm going to try to post a few things now and then over the days he is away. Words, but also photos of the little boy who is growing so very fast. I'm sure he will seem taller and bigger and more grown up when Matthew gets home, but meanwhile, he (and everyone) can enjoy some snippets of his life this week. ~ Nicole

Gone Again

I'm flying to Riyadh Saudi Arabia, where I'll be covering the first leg of President Obama's a four country trip. It's about a 15 hour flight (23 hours on the clock) so I left Tuesday morning and I'll arrive Wednesday morning - weird. I left this morning before Jonah woke up and it was hard to leave. Don't get me wrong, I'm very excited about this trip. If all goes as planned, I'll get to see the Great Pyramids in Egypt, the D-Day beaches of Normandy and spend two nights in Paris. But Jonah walks around saying DaDee! DaDee! now and actually runs into my arms when I get home (although sometimes he pulls a head-fake on me and runs to his favorite truck at the last second.) He also says Mam-ma! approximately 100 times for each DaDee! but it's so great. I give Jonah his bath and read him books at night, and sometimes after I put his pj's on I pick him up and he tucks his arms in and lays his head on my shoulder - he's ready for sleep. I rock back and forth and sing to him a little. I kiss him and smell his damp hair and think about how my son will, some day soon, be too big for me to hold in my arms. It's so hard to believe that Jonah did not exist before. I can barely remember life without him. So, leaving is hard to do. Much harder than it used to be. It's hard to leave Nicole and it's hard on Nicole too. These days Jonah is a handful, to say the least. Very independent and stubborn (don't know where that came from) and he's as demanding as he is cute. But the thought of him wondering where I am and not really understanding why I'm gone just breaks my heart. One of Jonah's favorite things is to group hug me and Nicole. It's the cutest thing. He likes to hold hands with us at the same time too. I just want to tell everybody about him. My love for Jonah is so intense and the wonder I feel watching him grow is just overwhelming. I know most new parents must experience these things too, but I feel like I just discovered the secret to life. The last time I saw my Mom she was hugging me goodbye in her Patty way (long, long hugs with lots of kissing and exclaiming about her handsome young son) she said "Oh, I just never get enough of this" as she rocked back and forth. I nearly cried. Of course she holds on for as long as she can. I would hug Jonah all day long if he'd let me.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

Today is the second time I am celebrating Mother's Day as a mother myself. It may be one of those holidays invented by advertisers or greeting card companies, but, frankly, I like it. And, though I'm still kind of waking up, before the day really starts rolling -- breakfast, play, lunch, nap, play, dinner, bath, books, bed -- I thought I'd share a few random, if a bit disjointed, thoughts on this beautiful, sunny Mother's Day morning.

I got to sleep in today, a little bit, but it was hard to stay in bed when I could hear Jonah chatting and playing happily, practicing some new words that we understand -- "pup" (cup), "tee-eey" (kitty), "cruck" (truck) -- and a few that sound really cute but we haven't quite figured out yet. (We think he is practicing "Hugo." Yay!) And, when I did get up, Jonah walked up to me and said, "Mama" and then gave me a big hug. Does he understand today is a special day? Maybe. Even Sammy, our cat, jumped into my lap this morning, something he rarely does.

Matthew is making a special breakfast today. I requested French toast. We are having whole wheat French toast topped with sliced bananas and real maple syrup. Yum, yum and yum. I love it when Matthew cooks for me. I especially love it when he also cooks for Jonah!

When I was a kid, my sister and I knew how to be royal pains in the asses at times. When Mother's Day or Father's Day rolled around, we would almost always ask, just to be brats, why isn't there a Kid's Day? Mom's answer: "Every day is Kid's Day." It's really true and I'm sure some day I will say the same thing, but right now I am still in awe of my sweet, beautiful, blond-haired little boy, who is less and less of a baby every day. Right now, he is looking at the coloring book that the clerk at the post office gave him, calling the cartoon pictures of beevers "tee-eey!" and scribbling a bit with the crayon here and there. I still wonder where the heck he came from while at the same time finding it hard to remember my life before he was here. Today is Mother's Day, but I know it will be all about Jonah, because really, isn't that what Mother's Day is all about? The kids. And, that's fine by me.

Happy Mother's Day to all the mother's in my life. Love, Nicole

Friday, May 1, 2009

Guest blog: A visit

Note from The Adventures of Jonah Cavanaugh: I would like to thank Jonah's Auntie Dani for contributing this special guest blog post. If you would like to contribute a special guest, please let us know!

Jonah has come to Western MA before, but this is the first time he has stayed with us. We spent a lot of time preparing, getting groceries and baby gates and toys for him to play with. It was great to have Jonah, and also Nicki and Matt, stay with us. So here are the top 10 things we did with Jonah during his visit to Garfield Street: - by Auntie Dani

1. Breakfast! I am not a morning person. At all. Somehow waking up to that smiley little boy was such a joy. He always looks so happy to see people and he loves sitting at the table eating with us and pointing back and forth from Uncle Marc to Auntie Dani, to Daddy’s nose, to Mama’s nose. It was like I needed one less cup of coffee. He made it difficult to leave for work.

2. Playin’ with Ted – We have 2 cats, but only one of them was interested in being anywhere near Jonah. Elaine watched suspiciously from afar. But it is so cute to see how interested Ted the cat was in Jonah the toddler. And Jonah sure loves animals. He took apart the Alpine Scratcher Cat Toy and sat in the box part, insisting on being pushed around as if it was a sled. Ted watched and was never very far from Jonah.

3. Bedtime - There are a couple of reasons I place this on the top 10. There is something soothing about quieting the house down every night by 7:30 and making it dim and calm, making sure the dishes are done and settling in for visiting or reading or TV upstairs. Marc and I don’t always do that.
The other was hanging out with Nic and Matt. Whenever they came to visit and stayed at Pepe’s, Marc and I usually left after Jonah went to bed. We really miss out grown up time together with my sister and Matt. Marc and Matt are almost like brothers, and the 4 of us have had some really great times as adults over the last 7 (!) years.

4. Fisher Price Barn Yard- I’d been wanting to play with this thing since I brought it home a week before the visitors arrived. I borrowed it from a friend at work and I knew it was going to be awesome. It was. It still is. I haven’t given it back yet….

5. Secret Disc Party - Nicki actually went out with the high school girls one night and I got to baby-sit for Matthew and Marc while Jonah slept soundly downstairs. We played the ol’ secret disc party game - a Cavanaugh tradition, I am told – and drank some Berkshire Brewing Company Beer. Here is a sample of what we played: Johnny Polanski, Permanent Disorder, Velvet Crush, House of Pain, REM, Pete Drouge, Devo, Stone Temple Pilots, Liz Phair, Lemonheads, Ice Cube, U2, Zappa, Strokes, and Urge Overkill.

6. Energy Park – We walked to the Energy Park downtown several times. They have some really cool trains, one is a wooden play structure and one is an actual caboose. Of course, Jonah wanted to play on the real train. So I cautiously brought him aboard. He put his hands on the big wheel and tried to turn it with all his might. He also pointed out a miniature train over the sign to the park, something I had never seen before. I now think of him when I see the sign.

7. Jonah’s Cousin Hugo’s birthday - We don’t have any kids, so it should come as no surprise that going to another 1-yr old birthday party is not on the top of our Saturday to do list. But we had a great time. Marc took the day off from work and all the extended friend-family people, who we don’t see a lot, were there. Eliza and Gerard were such great hosts. The house was packed and the cake was delicious. Who could ask for more?

8. Cooking - I like to cook, and Marc and I do make a dinner plan every night, which I think was one of the appeals to staying with us. I am used to whipping things up for 2-4 people, saving leftovers and using some the next day. Cooking for 5 people, including one hungry little toddler was something else. I kept thinking how fun it was to use the WHOLE box of pasta and to buy THREE packages of chicken thighs and I really enjoyed using my big pots and pans. Jonah eats everything and he eats a lot and he eats often. It is so cute. Making these large meals reminded me of the holidays when we sometimes have 10 or 12 people for dinner. Only it was better weather.

9. Seeing baby cows – the five of us and Pepe went to Davenport Maple Farm to take in the last weekend of maple sugar season. After breakfast we headed over to the area where they keep the cows. There were two little baby cows that Jonah wasn’t too afraid to be near, as long as he held tight to Mama’s neck with one hand. Jonah also enjoyed seeing the big vat of maple sugar, the big truck and junk parked near the building, and looking out over the huge open field.

10. Seeing our best friends! I think I speak for both Marc and myself when I say that Nicki and Matt and Jonah are out very best fiends in the whole world. We look forward to seeing what the future has in for Jonah as he grows, and at family holidays, on trips, and hopefully lots of regular days with our extended family.

There is a saying that Nicki and I exchange when we want to express everything one could possibly want to express to your dearest only sister who is far away. At the end of the email or letter or card we write “Keep…”, so…


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Lightening up

Matthew just left for a work trip to Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago, so I will be taking care of Jonah by myself until Sunday night. It's been a while since I've done this. The last time was really, really hard, even though I went home to visit my family for the duration of Matthew's trip. But, Jonah was smaller then. And, some things have changed. But, I also learned many lessons from times past. So, I have decided that I'm going to try to make the best of it this time around, and I am giving myself permission to do a few things to help lighten my load.

I'm going to try to look at this time as a chance to really spend some time with Jonah. I know that might sound silly since I spend every single day with him and have since he was born. But, we just got back from a trip with the family, and while Jonah LOVED it and had probably the best time of his young life, he and I may have gotten just a touch (just at teeny bit) out of sync. Nothing too bad, really, but thinking of this time alone with him as a way to get back in tune with each other will help me get through the next few nights (and exhausting days) and, I think, will help Jonah as he deals with all the frustrations that go along with being almost 16 months old, with being so small but having such very big desires and ambitions.

This time, too, I am planning to have a little bit of help. I've set up a few hours of babysitting over the weekend. A couple of mom friends have agreed to take Jonah for a few hours on Saturday and/or Sunday while I take a break, nap, clean, shower, exercise or do whatever it is I need to do, and I will return the favor for them later. Another friend has offered to help out here and there and I will take him up on that with the hope that he will play with Jonah one or two evenings while I prepare dinner and then clean up afterward. A few other friends know I will be alone and have offered to help or just spend some time with us, which is always great because it helps dilute the intensity of being alone with a toddler all day long.

The other thing we have going for us is that it is supposed to be absolutely beautiful and warm this weekend. That is good because yesterday and today are pretty gray, rainy and dreary. But, some lovely spring weather is bound to put smiles on our faces.

And, for the days when it's not so nice out, I have wheels. I made sure that I could keep the car -- Matthew arranged for a car service to bring him to and from Andrews Air Force Base, where he will catch the press charter plane. This will make it so much easier to bring Jonah places and get us both out of the house, regardless of the weather.

Catching some zzzz's will be a top priority, too. I'm going to try as hard as I can to go to bed super, super early, like as soon as I can after Jonah does. It's kind of fun to do this sometimes, and easier to do when I am home alone. I can put Jonah to bed, clean up a bit and then curl up in bed with a book and a cup of tea. It makes me really happy just thinking about it. And, getting even an hour extra will help a lot since Jonah almost always wakes up between 4 and 5 a.m., not rested enough to start the day but usually has a hard time going back to sleep. Since we nightweaned Jonah, I have tried not to nurse him any earlier than 6 a.m., so Matthew has been handling these really early wakings. Most of the time, Matthew is able to coax Jonah back to sleep. And, I'm a bit out of practice. But, I plan to cut myself some slack. I will try to encourage Jonah to go back to sleep without nursing, but if it doesn't work out, I'm giving myself permission to take him to bed with me for the rest of the morning. Part of me feels a little bad because this will likely make things a little more difficult for Matthew upon his return, but I will not do well if I have to wake up every day at 4 a.m. On the other hand, maybe Jonah will sleep even better over the next few days! I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

I'm curious to see how Jonah will handle his dad's absence. He is bound to really notice it now, and I hope that he will handle it OK. I plan to talk to him about it, and maybe we can do some webchats with Matthew, but Jonah is lucky to have a dad who, despite having kind of random and unpredictable hours, spends a great deal of time with him. I know Jonah will miss him. And, clearly, Matthew is already missing Jonah.

I know I am capable of surviving the next few days, and this time I am going to try to make it easier on myself. Now ... if I could just find a way to sneak in a yoga class ... Hmmm. ~ Nicole

p.s. Here is a photo of Jonah after he fell asleep in my lap on the couch last weekend, right before we had planned to put him in the car for his nap during our errands. After he fell asleep, I realized I still had to change his diaper. This photo was taken after the diaper change. We were amazed he slept through it all! How things have changed!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Jonah's 15-month Doctor Visit

Well, Jonah had a very good doctor's appointment today. His pediatrician determined that he is a superbly healthy little boy.

On the down side, he refused to be weighed even though there were really nice horses on the wall and beautiful boats hanging from the ceiling, but we estimate he's about 24 pounds, which is about 2 1/2 pounds more than he was at his 12 month appointment. Seems like a big jump to me, but he certainly seems to have lengthened out and gotten more muscular, less round. He was also just getting over being sick at his 12-month appointment, so his weight was probably down a bit.

He is 31 1/2 inches tall (Tall! We can finally say tall!), and his head is 19 1/2 inches. Basically, right on track.

He got one shot and clearly has learned that shots are not fun and that they happen in a certain place with a certain person. He refused to nurse through it and was really pissed about the whole affair, but recovered very quickly. He has also started resisting other parts of the exam -- looking in his ears, having his belly felt -- but his doctor is so patient and kind and explains everything to him like he's a real human being, which I love, and shows it on mommy first. It really helps. Plus, his doctor is completely unfazed by his resistance and only did the things that he was willing to do with some coaxing, never forcing him, which I think is wonderful.

She said he is right on track developmentally. He is walking really well. Walking faster and longer distances. Falling less. And, clearly overjoyed with his new abilities. And, his language is taking off. She said verbal skills are considered fine motor skills so she likes to see a kid develop his gross motor skills first THEN start really talking. And, we definitely saw Jonah's verbal accelerate right after he mastered walking. He loves saying words that start with the letter "D" like duck, daddy, doggie and digger. He also likes practicing words for some of his favorite things like truck (guck) and book (gook). Other words he's good at are kitty (of course) and Dani (one might say, of course). Even better, in a way, is the fact that he clearly understands my words. He understands sentences and I can actually communicate with him on a whole new level. It's truly wonderful.

Jonah's doctor was pleased to hear how well he eats, though I think that is truly just the luck of the draw and not anything we necessarily did to make him a good eater. We try to present him with the best food possible, but it's up to him to eat it or not. We eat most meals as family, which is really nice, but he has always had a good appetite, even when he ate pureed mush at random hours. He just likes food! I feel lucky for that because it's one less thing I have to stress about and frankly, after so much lost sleep on SLEEP, I am thankful for one less worry.

Poop warning. Yes, I am going to talk about poop. If you have a kid, you will totally understand, and you have probably had more conversations about poop than you care to admit. If you don't have children, you won't enjoy or appreciate this topic, but, hey, you have been warned. Jonah's had some harder poops lately. Nothing too troubling for him or me, but just something to notice. His doctor thinks his hard poops mean he needs more, well, fiber. Duh! Why I needed a doctor to tell me that is too funny, but basically he needs more watery foods, like veggies. He likes his veggies most of the time but I will admit that when we are on the go I tend to chose less messy snacks (rice cakes, crackers, bananas, raisins), which aren't necessarily the highest in fiber. Nothing of major concern, but I think I may start giving him veggies for breakfast, when he is hungriest.

I still remember how much I used to hang on every word at Jonah's doctor's appointments when he was a newborn and small baby. I always knew he was OK, but there was always worry when things are so new and strange when you are a new mom. I'm the mother of a toddler now and it's kind of hard to believe. But, then I think about how far we have come as parents and how far Jonah has come. He's so great and being with him just gets more and more fun, along with the new challenges. When I think this way, I start to think in cliches, but I guess I am starting to understand why people say things like, "We are so blessed." ~ Nicole

Monday, March 23, 2009

I don't even know what to call this one

What a morning! I feel like I've been sprinting all morning long and have just plopped down on my ass at the finish line, completely wiped out. It started out nice enough. Despite yet another cold, Jonah slept until 6:37 a.m., relatively late for him. However, he was up 3-4 times last night, most likely due to congestion and also, I suspect, teething, and Matthew tended to him each time he woke. The last time he woke up was around 4 a.m. When I got Jonah up out of his crib and brought him to our bed for his morning nursing, Matthew told me that he had a lot of trouble falling back to sleep after getting Jonah back to sleep. So, when Jonah was finished nursing, rather than letting Jonah play with us in bed for a while like we do most mornings, I brought him into the living room so that Matthew could catch a little extra sleep. Before I left the bedroom, I told Matthew that I did need to take a shower and get myself ready before he left for work. Then, I spent the next two hours dealing with a very cranky baby. It was understandable that he was cranky and out of sorts. But, anyone who has dealt with this mood in a baby knows how hard it is to do much beyond hold them. But, there are still things that need to get done, like preparing and eating your breakfast, and preparing and cleaning up after the baby's breakfast to name just a few. The only solution was to alternate some close cuddling or reading books to Jonah with quickly going about my morning chores while Jonah clung to my legs all red-faced, snotty and crying. On top of everything else, Jonah pooped three times between waking up and 9 a.m.! And, diaper changes were clearly not on the top of Jonah's list of favorite activities this morning. When I needed to, I simply had to plow through, move forward, change the diapers, wipe up snot, read 10 books, including several over and over and over, make the oatmeal, clean up the oatmeal and so on, with a pretty cranky little boy in tow. I felt terrible when I had to focus on a task while Jonah cried, but it was my only choice if I wanted to allow Matthew to sleep. And, I did want him to sleep. He took care of Jonah all night while also fighting a bit of a cold himself. However, that didn't stop me from checking the clock every now and then, especially once 8 o'clock hit. I kept thinking, "Oh, I bet Matthew will be getting up now." And, then another 15 minutes would pass. Luckily our 9 a.m. play date canceled because she didn't want to risk her twin boys getting Jonah's cold, and I sure don't blame her. But, as 9 a.m. approached I realized I needed to get Jonah out of the house somehow, even for just a short stroller walk. We both needed a change of scenery. I considered a 10 a.m. story hour at the library for babies Jonah's age, but before I knew it it was almost 9 and I still needed to take a shower, get dressed, brush my teeth, prepare snacks for my ever-ravenous little boy (even with a cold) and pack the diaper bag. Finally, Matthew emerged from the bedroom. I tried really, really hard not to unleash because I really wasn't mad at Matthew. I could have woken him at any time. (Hmmm. Lesson learned, perhaps?) But, I really wanted him to get as much sleep as possible in case tonight is difficult, too. I did say something like, "Hi. Jonah is having a rough morning. He needs a new diaper. Can you change him? And, I need a break. I need a shower." Then, I handed off the baby and retreated to my lovely, hot shower. I thought everything would seem better after a shower. After I was dressed, but before I had dried my hair, I peaked out into the living room, partly as a way to let Matthew know I was almost ready and we could switch roles, but also to see if Matthew had had any better luck cheering Jonah up. When Matthew saw me, he said, "OK, Bud. Daddy needs to take a shower." (I'm sensing another "lesson learned" here.) I took that to mean that Matthew probably had to get a move on to get to work on time. So, I decided to see if Jonah wanted to "help Mama blow dry her hair." This didn't work out so well. It ended up that all three of us were all in our tiny bathroom together, me blow drying my hair while also trying to keep Jonah happy by giving him my hairbrush or pretending to blow dry his hair (everything takes three times longer when you involve a little toddler but it's usually worth the extra time and effort), and Matthew just kind of standing there in his underwear waiting for me to finish at the sink so he could put his contacts in before showering. Finally, I said, "I'll finish my hair in the bedroom." Then, I was off to the races again and the calm of my shower was quickly dissolving. Jonah was still in a bad mood, so I just tried to finish getting us ready to get out the door as quickly as possible. He was interested at first in putting on his shoes, but didn't want to sit still anymore when I had to finish tying the second one. He flailed and cried and protested. Then, he didn't mind having his sweater put on but he fought letting me button it. He flailed around as I tried to get his coat on, but then stopped to let me zip it up, and finally we were out the door, with Matthew seeing us off in his underwear. We walked and the chilly breeze felt good to me. I put Jonah's hat on his head and he pulled it off. I put his hat on again and gave him his sippy cup and he tossed it on the ground. I gave him a toy and he was happy. It was cold so I decided not to go very far. We stopped at a coffee shop for snacks. Jonah was mostly happy in this new environment, swaying his head to the music and waving to people, happily eating his slices of apples and small bites of my croissant. We stopped at the dog park on the way home. It was still early so I decided to make a quick stop at the playground so Jonah could burn off some energy by walking around in the hope that he would take a nice, long nap. He had a lot of fun, but was very upset about having to leave. Then, he cheered up when he saw some construction equipment. He loves diggers. But, he cried when we had to say good-bye to the digger. He cried as I brought him up the stairs and into the house. I wondered if I could get a quick lunch into him but he cried at the mere suggestion of applesauce. He cried when I took off his coat and his sweater and his shoes. He cried as I used the bathroom and washed my hands. He cried and clung to me as I cleaned and refilled the humidifier in his room. He cried and squirmed as I changed poopy diaper number 4, flipping himself all around on the changing table. I decided to put him down for a minute to see if he would calm down before putting on the new diaper. Bad idea! He peed on the carpet, while also crying, and also peed on his shirt and socks. Then, he bumped his head on the door casing while trying to maneuver into his room. Screams! Sobs! Meanwhile, I had to get a clean diaper on him and completely change his outfit. Not fun for this little guy or this mama. Finally, I told him it was time to say good night. To the door. To the window. To the shade and curtains. "Good night, good night, good night," I said. Finally, he cheered up and even seemed to get excited. It was finally time to nurse and lay in my lap and rest and relax and listen to me sing to him. It took a little longer than usual, understandably, but he finally, finally drifted off to sleep. I lay him down in his crib, covered him with soft blankets and closed the door. Then, I took a deep breath and made some tea. Phew. Please, nap gods, please, oh please, let him sleep a long, long time. Mama needs a break. ~ Nicole

Friday, February 13, 2009

Mommy brain

My brain is mush. Everyone said this would happen. I thought pregnancy brain was bad. Often, I start talking and forget, mid-sentence, what I was going to say. You would think I would need to have my wits about me since here I am taking care of a small, helpless child all day, every day. I guess I have my wits, since I am pretty confident I could respond quickly if, say, Jonah tried to eat a wood chip at the playground. And, I could probably tell you exactly what he ate for every meal and snack for the last seven days. But, I can't do simple math in my head anymore. And, I often can't remember what day it is. Or, totally space on the name of someone I have seen a dozen times at the Starbuck's down the street. But, then, sometimes, when I am quiet and still, like when I am nursing Jonah as he falls asleep, I have these eloquent thoughts. I amaze myself as I watch my brain follow a path, make connections between two seemingly unrelated things, write poetry of a sort. I think, "I've got to write that down." Then, I don't. And, these genious musings of mine are gone. Poof! Vanished into thin air. And, then I become just another mom, wiping yogurt (organic, no sugar added) off my sleeve and replacing Jonah's little shoe back on his foot for the tenth time before we reach the end of the block, smiling as he points to dogs and birds and buses and trucks and my nose and my eyes and his nose and my hair, kicking his legs, longer than ever, chattering and excited, knowing that the next corner we turn brings us to the playground, where he can practice walking, climb up some wooden steps, crawl over to the edge of the blue slide, turn around so his feet go first and push himself down the slide on his belly, with my hand just barely touching him, just barely spotting him now because he can almost, almost do it all by himself. And, then I may call you on the phone as we are walking home, pushing the stroller with one hand, balancing the slim phone between my chin and shoulder as I carry a coffee (maybe even caffeinated now) in the other hand, and I will probably forget to tell you all about it. Or, maybe I will tell you everything, in very great detail. And, then, I will sit down again. Jonah will be sleepy. He will nurse. His eyes will flutter. I will catch my breath. And think great thoughts. ~ Nicole

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A few things that happened during Pepe's visit for the inauguration:

Jonah, Pepe and I saw the baby gorilla at the zoo, nestled in its mother's arms. We also saw the baby elephant and learned it weighted 325 pounds at birth.
Pepe taught Jonah how to shake his head "no" for fun.
Jonah exclaimed with amazement at the sight of a big box of soft blocks that were a gift from our neighbors Bill and Thom.
I made beef stew. Then, I didn't cook again all weekend.
Matthew worked a lot.
I studied the newspapers each day trying to figure out the best plan to get a 13-month-old baby and my 63-year-old father to the Mall on inauguration day without any tickets to the ceremony.
We got tickets the night before the ceremony.
We got a second offer of tickets the night before the ceremony. I had the gall to ask, "Where are they?" and then say, "No, thanks."
A white stretch limo arrived at 3 a.m. on inauguration day to pick up Matthew. He arrived home at 1:30 a.m. the next day.
I got annoyed after hearing my dad say repeatedly how sorry he felt for Matthew to have to work so much. "I work that hard every day," I said. He laughed and said, "Yeah, and you don't even get paid."
Pepe, Jonah and I waited in a huge mass of people to get into the ticketed area on inauguration day. Jonah freaked out at one point. I nursed him standing up in the huge mass of people.
A couple from the Midwest gave us two hand warmers to put in Jonah's shoes. Our own hand warmers remained in the packages inside our coat pockets.
I carried a baggy full of cut up apples and pears in my coat pocket all day on inauguration day.
After not moving more than a few feet in a hour, we decided to go inside.
I cut in front of everyone in the security line to get into the Rayburn House Office Building because I had a baby in my arms.
I changed Jonah's diaper on a random piece of office furniture in a hallway in the basement of the Rayburn House Office Building.
I had a little freak out of my own in the Longworth Building trying to figure out whether we should venture back outside or stay indoors.
We watched the ceremony from inside the office of Congressman Cohen from Memphis. There were coffee and donuts. And, floor space for Jonah.
Jonah walked and crawled around in the gleaming hallway of the Longworth House Office Building.
Other than the freak out, Jonah was quite the trooper on our cold, crowded trek to and from the inauguration.
Jonah slept almost the whole way home, wearing Pepe's big gloves on his hands.
We made it home to watch the parade from our cozy couch.
I forgot to have someone take a photo of all three of us on inauguration day.
We ate at The Diner in Adams Morgan twice. Each time it was super crowded and each time we had really great service AND Jonah remained happy during the entire meal, including dessert.
I had to call Connie to find out where the nearest Catholic church was so Pepe could attend. Connie said, "I'm happy to be your Catholic church guidance counselor."
Despite Pepe offering to go "buy us a couple of grinders," we did not each grinders as there are no grinder shops in Adams Morgan. Yes, according to Pepe, we "people are weird."
Pepe asked me what the unemployment rate in DC is and I did not know the answer.
Pepe did our dishes and cleaned our kitchen every night.
Pepe read books to Jonah every night.
Pepe got teary-eyed watching Barack Obama being sworn in as the 44th president.
Pepe got teary-eyed when Jonah and I dropped him off at the airport. Jonah was asleep in his car seat. Pepe said, "Give Jonah a kiss for me."

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Just a glimpse

It's been hard to find time to write lately. I have snippets of thoughts of things to share, then Jonah will start turning the radio dial, which he's not supposed to do, or he'll remember that he can push the cart under the kitchen counter to make his way to the other side, or he'll tell me he's hungry and needs to eat right now! Jonah does. He's busy. I've written a lot about what Jonah does. What milestones he has reached. How big he's getting. How many teeth he has. (A new one on top is coming through! Tooth number five!) But, I realized recently that I haven't written all that much about who Jonah is. Jonah is. Who he is as a person. A little person. With a big, sparkly personality. So, I'll attempt it now knowing that I won't get it all down. I won't capture it all. But, I think it's worth trying.

Jonah is happy. Happy, most of the time. Truly. And, he really doesn't cry much. I mean, he does cry. Don't get me wrong. He can be very good at crying. Like when he is protesting being confined in his stroller or car seat. He can cry strongly and loudly. But, it passes, usually pretty quickly these days. I do believe Jonah is a happy child. He seems pretty content most of the time. Pretty pleased with the world. He seems to get true joy out of things and people around him. Staring out the window, watching the birds or the tree branches sway in the wind. Seeing a dog walk by. Watching raindrops and colorful umbrellas, people waving at him. Turning a corner to see the playground before him. Big smiles. Bright eyes. The sweetest most infectious laughter. Jonah is sweet, too. He hugs us tight. He gently touches my nose, looking closely. He puts his whole palm on my cheek and presses his face against mine. Yesterday, I was walking down the street carrying him in the Ergo. I said, "Jonah, I love you" and then, he rested his head against my chest. A fluke, I thought. A coincidence. I said, "Mama loves you." He did it again, laying his head on my chest. Telling me he loves me, too, I suppose. Jonah is curious. He looks at all sides of his blocks for the numbers, letters and pictures of animals and trees and bugs and cars and airplanes. He puts his finger in my belly button, touches Matthew's scratchy face, points at things with a questioning look on his face, asking us to help him understand his world. He can be serious, too. A look of concentration. Wariness at times. And, silly. This is kind of new. But, Jonah likes to do things just because they are silly or funny. He rolls around on the floor making funny noises, pretending to sleep, laying his head on a pillow and smiling at me. While eating in his highchair, he sometimes takes a piece of food in his hand and pretends to put it in his mouth, then pulls it out again, over and over until he eventually eats it and smiles. He does this most of the time when he thinks I'm not even looking at him, so I know he's doing it just for his own pleasure. I'm sure there are many, many more examples and Matthew probably has more than a few of his own. Jonah is. He just is. He is his own small person and he's growing up so fast and he loves his world, his kitties, his people, his windows, his highchair, his bunny and duckie, his baths, his doggies walking down the sidewalk, his wind, his clouds, his sunshine, his kicking feet. Where he came from I still don't know. But he is. He just is. Jonah is. ~ Nicole