#Microblog Mondays 1: The Boy Who Loved Nonfiction.

 

Microblog_Mondays

(Want to know what #Microblog Mondays is? Click here)

My son treats the library as his own personal learning experience; he spends all his time in the kids room in the Early Reader Nonfiction section with the books on emergency vehicles – Fireboats, Ambulances, Fire Trucks – construction vehicles, and thankfully has moved on to natural sciences like the book on the lifecycle of a frog and salmon and bee.

It’s a hard sell for me to get him to agree to a book with a Story, but I keep trying. Because *I* need a book with a story sometimes. Took me three tries, but he agreed to Charlotte’s Web, which he thankfully enjoyed.

I recently convinced him to try Charlie and the Chocolate Factory this last trip to the library, and so the book came home with us. He wouldn’t read it right away. And when I was out one night, Jeff asked Owen if he wanted to read that it.

Oh, that book, Owen said.

Mom made me get that one.

(Someday. I still have hope.)

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Token November Post.

I know, I KNOW. I suck at posting.

I miss the days where I’d be driving into work and have an idea and think, Oh, I need to post THAT to my blog!

Right now? I’m listening to David Sedaris on audiobook and I’m mostly struck by what a brilliant writer he is. And by the time I get to work, I have ZERO ideas of my own.

Well, except for the week after the marathon, when I had a hard time controlling my Jello legs on flat ground and I couldn’t believe how comical I looked.

But really, that’s all I wanted to post. Hey, it’s three days after my marathon and holy crap my legs don’t even feel like they’re attached to my body! It’s pretty crazy, people!

I didn’t post it, though.

(You’re welcome.)

Anyway.

So it’s November. And I said that in November I’d write a LOT more.

I have not actually managed to follow through with that resolution. Until today, the only things I’ve written are To Do and grocery shopping lists.

So what have I actually BEEN doing these past few weeks?

Well, the good news is that this November, I’ve been able to run, because I did NOT end up injured at the end of the Baystate Marathon. That’s good, for sure.

However, that does not mean I have been enjoying my runs; apparently trying to actively recover from a marathon by running makes said runs kind of suck. In fact, this past Saturday I actually had a piddly three miler that ended at the halfway point; I did the Walk of Shame home the last 1.5 miles because holy crap my legs could not run ONE MORE STEP.

Recovery: going from completely NAILING a 22 mile run to bonking on a 3 mile run.

Humbling.

The good news, though, is that Saturday’s Walk of Shame was my low point, and my runs have gotten considerably Less Sucky since then. I wouldn’t put them in the category of Good yet, but I’m starting to believe that perhaps running WON’T suck for the rest of my life. Which is really good news.

The other thing I’ve been doing is cooking. Like spending all my time in the kitchen on the weekends sort of cooking.

Last weekend I made my own chicken stock – courtesy of unsmitten kitchen. Then I made homemade cream of celery root soup, courtesy of food network. I made an awesome spanish chicken casserole from November’s edition of Cooking Light. I also made and canned a batch of apple butter to get a head start on the holiday season.

And when it was all done, and I had no more cooking to do, I wandered around my kitchen, looking for something else to cook.

Oh, I have IDEAS.

I have ideas for egg-free banana bread and chocolate chip sour cream bread and I REALLY want to try my hand at making the maple bacon scones my friend Sue brought to my house for brunch one day.

MUST. COOK. ALL. THE. FOODS!

In other news, the other day I happened to notice that my kid seemed to have a second tooth growing BEHIND his baby teeth.

Photographic evidence? Here.

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Cue frantic googling. Because I was prepared for loose teeth and the Tooth Fairy visits and all of that. I was NOT prepared to handle another set of teeth growing in his mouth before the baby ones fell out.  Fortunately, the interwebs came to my rescue.

The technical term for it is called lingually erupting mandibular incisors. It is also referred to as “shark teeth.”

Our dental hygienist confirmed for me today that I do not need to worry about it, because it is common and it’s likely that it will force the baby tooth to become loose and fall out.

There are things I never anticipated I’d have to deal with as a parent. And I’m not sure why, but this extra tooth thing is DEFINITELY one of them.

So that’s what I’ve been up to in November thus far. And now that I’ve popped the proverbial cherry on writing, I AM hoping to post a lot more.

Maybe even once a week! 🙂

Nostalgia.

Owen was born via c-section; he was breech. And if I’m being truthful, I was happy with the idea of a c-section; after years of infertility I was terrified that my body would screw up in childbirth, and the idea of a procedure where doctors could have him out of me within minutes gave me a lot of relief.

I didn’t really expect to HAVE a baby, you see. I had convinced myself that something was going to happen to him while I was pregnant and we were going to end up empty-handed.

So when they handed my newborn to me, I was a little unprepared. For everything, really. Nursing, care, etc. I spent his first few days fretting about how much he slept – normal for a baby who was nearly three weeks early – and how little he ate. Shouldn’t he want to feed?

And then there was the whole learning how to feed him thing. I’ll spare you the details, but suffice it to say, I relied heavily on nurses and lactation consultants in those days after he was born.

Recovering from a c-section is tough: there’s not a lot of positions you can sleep or sit in that’s comfortable. So I was having a tough go of it finding a position where I could nurse my new son comfortably.

And then, one of the night nurses showed me a position where I was able to lay down on my side, a pillow under my leg, with my son laying next to me. It was perfect: not only could I feed him easily from this position, but if I was tired, I could sleep AND feed without too much worry.

It was maybe the third night in the hospital (we got 5 when all was said and done, since he was born in the evening) when Owen woke up for a bit. Since he was awake, I thought, Woo hoo! Let’s do this feeding thing! and I set us both up: me on my side, pillow under my outstretched leg, him on his side, facing me.

He wasn’t interested in eating though – he just stared up at me, like he had known me forever. It was a moment I’ll never forget; his dark eyes looking straight at me as I talked to him.

And in the weeks to come, when I was overwhelmed with sleep deprivation and his fussiness and sleep issues and feeding schedule, when I felt like a fraud and a fake as a mother, that moment – the one where he knew me – was the one that grounded me.

It was the start of our bond, you see.

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The past two days have been rough ones; I have more work to do than I have time for. I am in heavy mileage for marathon training, and I am sneaking runs in. I am stressed out and tired, and stealing time for work and running. I worked late on Monday night and then again last night, stealing time at 8pm for a run along the Charles. And I missed bedtime both nights.

Tonight, though, I was home for his bedtime.

We always lay down next to Owen on his bed when we read stories. And we’ll generally lay with him for a few minutes once we turn out the light. Usually he’s talking; asking questions and talking about his day and coming up with stories. I can’t tell you how many times a night I have to tell him that it’s time for sleeping, that we can talk more in the morning, that it’s time to rest and close his eyes.

Tonight, though, he was tired from a long day of kindergarten, his after school program, and then swim lessons tonight. So when I turned off the light, I came back to the bed and lay down on my side, my head propped on his pillow, facing him.

He rolled towards me, cradling Bear, and tucked his hands and head into my neck. I wrapped my arms around him and he closed his eyes; he was asleep within minutes.

I had a sudden memory of that night in the hospital; his dark eyes staring up at me, the weight of him so very slight in my arms.

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He announced that he learned a new song today, at school. Putting his hands behind his back, he sang, Trick or Treat! Smell my feet! Give me something good to eat! If you don’t, I don’t care, I’ll pull down your underwear!

He won’t let me help buckle him into his booster seat anymore – OR unbuckle himself. He does it himself now.

Since starting kindergarten, when he wakes up in the morning, he gets himself dressed before he comes downstairs.

He gets on the bus confidently, saying good morning! to his bus driver, then sits and waves at me through the window.

At swim class, he jumps in without hesitation. He swims underwater as much as he can; showing off for me, for his teachers.

He rides his bike as fast as he can, puts his own helmet on himself, and warns me as he’s riding to Stay on the sidewalk, Mommy! It’s not safe to walk in the road!

He has learned the pledge of allegiance for school and practices it as much as possible.

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I remember the day he was born as if it were, in fact, yesterday. I remember what I was wearing; the feel of the spring air, still cold, but warming in the sun. I remember the full moon that rose outside our hospital window. How light he was in the carseat when we were finally on our way home; how it felt like there was nothing in there. The incredulity I felt that we were actually leaving the hospital with a real, live baby – OUR baby. Our son.

I love the age where he is at now; love his curiosity and sports-mindedness and imagination. I can’t WAIT for him to learn how to read and write and do math. I very much look forward to watching him grow and change; I look forward to watching him turn into the man he will be someday.

It’s just that I can’t wrap my brain around the flow of time. I blinked, and the slight weight of my infant in my arms turned into this boy, this kindergartener. And I’m going to blink again and it’s going to be this teenager, then Jeff and I will be dancing at his wedding.

So, yeah. Tonight I’m feeling nostalgic. For the teeny baby of mine.

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Who is no longer a baby.

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Time and Tide.

Last week, I found myself looking for an alternative to copious amounts of TV, Wii, and other “quiet time so Mommy and Daddy could work during the weeklong daycare shutdown” activities.

I stumbled upon Baseball Camp, which is run by our school district’s baseball coach. And lucky for me, they still had spots open.

I’d like to take credit for Owen’s baseball obsession – being a decent softball player myself – but unfortunately I can’t. He picked up baseball on his own; asking us from the moment we got him his first baseball glove if we’d play with him. Last summer I stopped pitching wiffle balls to him because he kept hitting me (which stings!).

So this year, we signed him up for tee ball, which was HEAVEN. Our kid, who hung back and never joined in for soccer and swim lessons, ran off willingly – happily, even! – to play baseball with complete strangers.

I figured he’d do fine at Baseball Camp. My biggest worry was that it would feed into his obsession and we’d never be able to do ANYTHING that didn’t have to do with baseball.

(Actually, no, that’s not true. My biggest worry was that he’d get stung by a bee and someone I didn’t know would have to administer his epipen.)

On Monday, we showed up at the Little League fields, paid our fee, handed over his labeled epipen, and filled out paperwork for the nurse that is onsite daily.

When the director blew his whistle, my not-so-little boy ran off to join the rest of the Big Boys for baseball camp.

Just like that, he was a Big Boy.

When I called my best friend on the way home, I couldn’t keep the tears from flowing.

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I am really excited about kindergarten this year, probably more excited than Owen is.

I have vivid memories of learning how to read. The day I realized there were words to read everywhere! was the most magical day of my life.

From that moment on, I read everything I could find: the cereal box. The toothpaste tube (seriously, the directions on the Crest tube of toothpaste? “Directions: Start from the bottom and squeeze as you go up.” WTF does that even MEAN? I puzzled over that for years). Mail. Magazines. My dad’s books. I took 6 books from the school library every week during library period. During the summer, I read even more books.

Even as an adult, reading is still magic. I don’t read as much as I’d like, nor can I push off sleep to finish a book the way I want to. But reading makes me happy.

And I can’t WAIT for Owen to be literate. To go to the library every week and take out more books, to read together every night books that have more words than pictures.

I think he’ll love it, too. Because he said to me, not too long ago: Mommy, I love books. Because they can teach you things you don’t know!

I cannot wait to see him learn his letters, put words together, and see his reaction when he realizes that there’s a whole new world that’s open to him.

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I didn’t expect to be so… emotional about that first dropoff at Baseball Camp.

But this summer I’ve seen him growing up – right in front of my eyes.

And one night, literally as he was falling asleep at a much-too-late bedtime, protesting, “but I’m not tired…!” I realized that all I see is Boy now. Not baby. Not toddler. Not even preschooler.

He’s my boy. Sometimes not so little, either.

Which is weird. Because seriously, wasn’t he just born yesterday? Where did 5 and a half years of my life go? How is it possible that he’s even OLD enough for baseball camp and reading and kindergarten and riding the bus?

When did that HAPPEN?

But time and tide, it seems, waits for no mother.

One. Enough?

I know, I know. I wish I had a good reason for not blogging often. It’s time! I have lots of ideas, but not enough time to get it out.

I promise I will update you all on my 30 Day No Yelling Challenge. Which is almost over, and has been, overall, a good exercise.

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We get questions from people, sometimes.

Just one child?

Is he your only?

Most people don’t know that it took us three years, one chemical pregnancy, two surgeries, three fresh in-vitro fertilization cycles, however many frozen cycles, and ten embryos to get pregnant with our son. They also don’t know that after he was born, we spent another two years on three more fresh IVF cycles, a couple of thaws, and ten MORE embryos. Which, this time, resulted “only” in two early miscarriages. No baby.

Last fall we found ourselves in a place utterly without hope. And so we walked away from fertility treatments.

Since then, we’ve been working on getting more comfortable with the idea that Owen will, in all likelihood, be an only child.

Changing our focus on our one son has been good for us in so many ways. Instead of the fail of all the years we spent trying for the family we dreamed about, it’s really made us focus on the family we DO have. I will often look over him and be struck with this thought: we are SO lucky to have him here with us.

And really, there are so many benefits to having a family of three. We’re closer. More focused. Owen doesn’t have to share a room, or his space, or my attention with another sibling. Jeff and I get to parent to HIS personality, his quirks, and we can focus on him when we need to. We can also switch off and get space when we need it.

Which for me, is a big deal. Me time, space, I’m finding, is important.

But it’s also tough in a lot of respects.

Like with fielding the above questions.

People mean well, and often they will ask us if we have more children because they’re interested in learning about us. I do it myself, when I meet people. And arguably, I could be sensitive to the question simply because we’ve struggled so much with family building over the years.

But I have also noticed how it’s phrased. The words “only” and “just” are used; which, to me, infers that there’s something wrong with the choice to have one child.

A couple of weeks ago, good friends of mine forwarded me links to op-ed pieces by Lauren Sandler. Honestly, until I read the articles, I had never heard of her. It seems she has a new book: “One and Only: The Freedom of Having an Only Child and the Joy of Being One.”

In each one of her articles, like the one I read here and here and here, she takes apart, bit by bit, the myths surrounding only children.

Further than that, though, she goes on to propose that having an only child can actually make parents happier.

Since I’ve spent the six months sitting with the idea of Owen being an only child, trying to sort out how I feel about it, this is an issue that’s fairly close to my heart.

First of all, I like how Lauren Sandler addresses what I, too, have noticed. There is this idea out there that only children are lonely, and not well adjusted, and socially awkward. Only children are missing out on something.

I mean, hell, *I* have struggled with this idea. Whenever Owen asks us if we can play with him, kind of longingly, or remarks, Mommy, you NEVER play with me! I wonder. Will he grow up to be lonely? Should I do MORE?

This kind of thinking makes it hard for me to balance fostering his imaginative play – I feel strongly that my adult intervention in his playtime unwittingly teaches him rules that he maybe doesn’t need to learn until later in his life – and making sure I give him the attention that he needs.

And then there’s the worry that I’m giving him TOO much attention. I often joke about being THAT mom, the one my future daughter (or son) in-law would loathe – being too involved in his life, having him orbit my life too closely.

And then there’s the fear that I’m somehow robbing Future Owen. I feel so lucky to have siblings. Maybe not everyone feels like this, but I feel like the three of us have this bond of years of shared history. All of us are similar, yet different – and we have a relationship that will always be there, regardless of distance and history and life.

Owen has his cousins, and Jeff and I, but I worry that he’ll feel like something’s missing.

So I take great comfort in the studies done that reassure me that only children are intelligent, engaging, HAPPY people as adults. Because I don’t have a crystal ball to see the future, I read the studies Lauren Sandler mentions in her articles with relief.

The issue I have with her stance, though, is where she talks about the choice to have one, and that parents of only children might be happier than parents of multiple children.

I’ll be honest: I wouldn’t have CHOSEN to have my one son, if my hands weren’t tied, medically speaking. I still struggle with feelings of being forced into our situation by circumstances not within our control.

That said, I cannot understand how she can suppose that she is happier than any other person, all because she chose to have a single child. Because happiness is relative, and it’s based on criteria that isn’t the same from person to person. Perhaps a career-oriented woman who loves flexibility like she does might be happier than a woman who finds happiness in taking care of people. Maybe she’s happier because she had an element of CHOICE, where we did not.

But it’s not for her to say that she’s better off than any one else.

Ultimately, I’m glad that someone is raising the discussion about the unspoken bias we have as it relates to only children. I feel it whenever anyone asks me if Owen is our only and we answer in the affirmative – that the click of judgment happens in that moment and the person thinks of Owen: Ah, poor lonely, maladjusted child. I love the reassurance in the DATA that my only child will be FINE as he grows.

But I disagree when she says that deciding to have an only child will make you happier.

Because for me, that is not the case.

Puppy Love.

I haven’t written in this space for so long, I might have actually forgotten HOW to write.

(Seriously, people. I opened the “New Post” page this MORNING. It is now 6pm and I have been sitting here, staring at this page, all day.)

And yes, I spruced up the place too. The picture at the top is one of my favorite places in New England – Acadia National Park.

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So. An update then?

Well, the biggest life change we’ve made since I last posted: during the week of the Boston Marathon bombing, I saw an article about a couple of golden retriever therapy dogs, who had visited Newtown after the awfulness in December and then again in Boston that week.

I think it was that Thursday morning, as I sat in traffic trying to get over the Tobin Bridge, when the thought struck me.

I want a therapy dog of my own.

Now, mind you, this didn’t come out of nowhere – last fall Jeff and I started discussing the idea of getting a dog. For many reasons, it seemed like a good idea. Since, given our history, Owen is likely going to be an only child, we thought it would be good for him. A dog would be a good playmate, a companion for him has he grew up. And, too, we thought it would teach him responsibility.

But really, it’s because I miss having an animal. We’ve lived a year now since Puck died and I missed having that unconditional love; someone who is ALWAYS glad to see you.

Except we couldn’t decide on a breed – lab or golden? Or whether we wanted to get a rescue dog, or a shelter dog, or what. And then, well, the WORK involved scared me.

But in that moment on the Tobin Bridge, I told Jeff (via phone, of course) that I wanted to get a puppy. It was great timing: it was spring, Jeff is working from home until the end of June and I’ll be home most of July. Really, there was no reason NOT to move on it.

Well, except for one thing.

Confession: I kind of don’t really LIKE puppies.

I know, that makes me an awful person. I mentioned it, once, to my neighbor. Her reaction was as if I told her I was an axe murdered. All she could say, over and over, was:

Who doesn’t LIKE PUPPIES?

I don’t. I mean, they’re cute and all. But they’re slobbery and chew on everything and jump up on people and pee on floors and steal your stuff and have I mentioned they chew on EVERYTHING? Over the years of living with my parents, I think my mother brought home 2 or 3 puppies. And I hated them all – they bonded immediately with my mother, tolerated me, and then chewed all of my stuff.

And the other thing: I believe that there are Cat People and Dog People in the world, and you are one or the other. I, personally, am a Cat Person. Out of all the animals in my house when I was growing up, it was Rusty cat who was my favorite.

But Jeff’s allergic to cats and I kind of am too. Plus I wanted a running buddy. And really, at the end of the day, dogs LOVE EVERYONE. Cats? Not so much.

So anyway. The desire for a dog won out over the reservations, and we found someone local who had golden retriever puppies. And we got one – a little boy we named Finley Huckleberry.

And he’s so sweet. He was the one, out of the three puppies we saw, who patiently waited for Jeff to give him a pet before he came over to me, while his brothers nearly mauled me with happiness. Despite Owen trying to get him to jump on him, he just laid down and watched the three of us. And the first few days, he didn’t make a sound – just slept and ate and wagged his tail and whimpered when we put him in his crate.

He’s a puppy though. And a golden, who are notorious eaters of everything.

Really, I thought people were kidding when they said that they’d eat everything. I had heard stories of dogs chewing through wood and drywall and whatnot. But hell, not all dogs were like that, right? Right?

Nope. Finley does, in fact, eat everything. Moss. Leaves. Sticks. Rocks. Mulch. Dandelions. Bamboo. Grass. Plastic. Shoelaces. Wood. The stuffing in his toys. Paper. Labels. Tinfoil.

It’s like he views the world through one question: Is it edible?

Also something I had heard but did not really BELIEVE: having a puppy is EXACTLY like having a baby.

Except worse, because when you have a newborn you can stick a nipple in his mouth in the middle of the night and you don’t have to be OUTSIDE. There was one night when I was outside in 40 degrees with a pokey baby dog who, you know, hadn’t actually figured out how to do his business on command, and I really questioned what the hell I was doing. Why did we get a dog again?

But then, you know, now that he’s sleeping in his crate, through the night, and he greets me at the door all happy and loving and wants to bring me all his toys to chew on in my lap and when something scares him he whimpers and comes over to me for a snuggle…

How can you resist this face? 🙂

Maybe I AM a Dog Person after all.