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.