Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Let's Hold Hands :)

As you may remember from my Tantrums From The Dark Side post Nicholas HATES to hold hands, as in REALLY HATES it! If you take his hand and try and walk with him anywhere he instantly throws himself to the ground and screams like you tried to kill him. (I love my toddler, I love my toddler, I love my toddler.... ) I don't know what bonked him on the noggin and knocked some sense into him but suddenly as of today *knock on wood* hand holding is not only OK, it's fun! :) This evening I needed to do some running around that included dinner with granny, a trip to visit the great grandparents, and a trip to deliver a phone to my sister and visit our other grandma and grandpa. Nicholas is starting to get a tad heavy and sometimes wiggly so today when I asked him to if he wanted to "Go Bye Bye" and he ran to the door I took hold of his hand, held my breath prepared for a tantrum, and opened the door to lead him outside. Out he walked like a little gentleman and off we went to the car. I think I might have held my breath the entire time we were walking to the car fully expecting him to rip his hand free and try and make a break for it to go explore the yard. He didn't! We made it all the way to the car and into the car seat with no trouble. Yay! He even held my hand at the restaurant and walked all the way from the car inside and then to our table. Now if you think a cute toddler being carried to a table draws attention that's NOTHING compared to a tiny tot walking hand in hand to a table. Ooooohhhs and Ahhhhhs and awwww look at the little baby, followed our progress through the dining area. Nicholas is quite the ham too so naturally he tried to stop and talk to some of his admirers lol. We made it through dinner and walked back out to the car hand in hand. YAY!!!! This routine repeated itself through most of our stops this afternoon and he only had to be carried once but that was because he had fallen asleep. He even held my hand a time or two when we were playing in great grandma's back yard - something he has NEVER DONE. In addition to improved hand holding skills he also responded to "lets go bye bye" at each and every place we were today. THAT'S a huge help!! I didn't have to chase him down to leave anywhere which is not the norm for us! He even came running to me while we were in our own backyard playing when I called to him to come over hand help me fill up the water thingie for the chickens.  I almost hate to write all this down for fear of jinxing myself but I can't help it. I am soooooo proud of him though that I just have to share!!! I really hope this continues. I'm not naive enough to think he's going to always want to walk with us like that but a toddler has a mind of their own for sure, but I do hope he will walk with us sometimes. Sometimes he doesn't want to be in a baby carrier or a stroller and if he'll hold out hands and come with us it will make like a lot easier. I think this is a habit we need to practice! Hooray for hand holding and hooray for toddler cooperation!!! :D

Friday, August 12, 2011

Toddler At The Vet Clinic

So we had a little puppy dog malfunction. My poor Wonder puppy (my first born child haha) had her butt break. (She had an infected gland and it ruptured - gross). So a visit to the vet clinic was in order. Even though I can express anal glands, I'm a dog groomer after all, I cannot do one that's already impacted and swollen. Bummer. I made sure to be be up and ready to call first thing this morning when the clinic opened so that I could get my baby girl in ASAP and get her taken care of. I was successful in getting an appointment right away with no effort or arguing (yay) and hung up the phone satisfied that at 10:15 the doctor could make Wonder all better. I decided to crawl back in bed for a few minutes because Nicholas wasn't awake yet and as I snuggled down into my comforter a thought occurred to me. I don't have a babysitter. zomg! Holy Crap!! What was I thinking making a 10:15 appointment when that gave me no time at all to procure a sitter for the energizer toddler who is at his most active right after breakfast time. Add to that the fact that I rarely take Nicholas anywhere on my own b/c he is SUCH a handful. I was petrified lol and got right back up out of bed to get started so to speak. It wouldn't be so bad if I didn't have to carry a bunch of stuff with me in addition to the hyper toddler. Seriously though, any time you leave to go anywhere with a baby/toddler it's sort of like going camping with all the stuff you have to take. Snacks, juice, diapers, wipes, toys, a book, keys, sunglasses, shoes, spare set of clothes (cause you know he'll have a blow out in his diaper if you don't!), wallet, and it's not a bad idea to also have a change of clothes for yourself. LOL. Now most of this stuff has a permanent home in my car. We always keep a diaper or two in there for emergencies, and a change of clothes, and a pack of baby wipes. However when you INSIDE someplace those things don't do you a bunch of good OUTSIDE in the car so you have to plan accordingly. I stuffed a two step diaper and one insert and three cloth baby wipes in my purse along with two toy cars, a mini sized book, a sippy cup, and some goldfish crackers. No room for the wallet so I took it out and put my credit card and ID in my pocket. Ok we're set. Anyway the point is with all this stuff you tend to have your hands full. Hands that are already kind of full with a toddler and now we're going to add a little dog to the equation. Oh boy.... this is going to be wonderful fun.

Naturally Nicholas picked today to be a total goober about waking up, as in he didn't wanna, and getting dressed. No time for breakfast b/c I totally misjudged how much time I needed in order to get myself and the dog ready to go out and then he took forever to get ready as well. Only had time for him to drink some milk and I grabbed a piece of toast for him to eat in the car. We are late! I stuffed his feet into his shoes and then put him in the car and strapped him in. All the while trying to avoid his soggy finger which he was determined to jam into my eye for some reason. I jumped in the car, started it up and we're ready to go. Opps, not quite, forgot to lock the door. Jumped out and did that then back in the car and started backing down the driveway waving cheerfully at Wonder and Howie starting at me from the window in the guest room tails a'waggin. Ummm.... wait a second, why is Wonder look back at me from the window? *glances at passenger seat* Awwww @$%^#$ !!  I forgot the dog!!! *sigh* That's a major blonde moment!

We finally arrived at the vet clinic with Wonder and I was a bit nervous. You never know what animals are going to be in the waiting room and if they are going to be friendly or not. I have a dog AND a toddler to worry about keeping in line and no help. I have a secret weapon though in the form of a toddler leash. Yes, Yes, I am one of those parents who thinks it's OK to leash children. You wouldn't want to let a puppy rum amok in a public so why is a toddler any different? I clipped on his adorable puppy backpack with the little leash attached and in we went. All I can say is THANK GOODNESS for the toddler leash!! Nicholas would have been all over the place without it and there were some rather large dogs in the clinic this morning along with an unfriendly cat. I was able to let him play in the waiting room while at the same time preventing him from running off or getting to out of control which in turn allowed me to make sure both he and Wonder were safe. Nicholas alternated his time in the waiting room between playing with a toy car I had brought along, drinking his apple juice, and eating pizza blast goldfish (the breakfast of champions lol). I know most of the staff at the clinic from having taken dog's there since I was about 6 and working there for a year before I got preggo with Nicholas. So he got lots of attention from friends and that helped to keep him occupied. When we finally got into an exam room I felt safe to let Nicholas roam "off leash" so to speak. Almost a good idea. First thing he found was the cord to the x-ray viewer which the vet tech (yay for Heather being smart!!) got to before he did and put out of reach. Naturally he entertained the idea of poking his finger into the outlet but that didn't last long. Next he discovered the lever style door handles on the doors leading out of the exam room. He had GREAT fun grabbing them and trying to open the door and then rattling the door, giggling, while I held it shut to prevent him from jumping ship. After the door game got old he decided he would have a couple more goldfish and then go poke around in the cabinets. It's so funny how you forget that not every cabinet is baby proof lol. Fortunately they didn't have anything in the lower cabinets that a toddler would find interesting and it wasn't to difficult to convince Nicholas to come play elsewhere. In no time at all he had exhausted his desire to explore and was back to sitting on the floor eating goldfish and Wonder was all finished and  ready to go home. I managed to gather everything up and get it all back in the bag, get Wonder's leash and then pick Nicholas up and carry him to the front desk to pay. He was only mildly interested in snatching things off the counter which was good. I of course put my ADD on display when I accidentally let myself get distracted and asking one of the receptionists about her new baby right in the middle of another conversation with the receptionist who was checking us out. Oops! (Sorry Crystal, even though you aren't even reading this b/c you are a goober and won't get back on FB, so won't see it!). Anyway all in all we went toe to toe toddle style with the vet clinic and we WON! Whooooo!!! It wasn't so bad after all. We didn't break anything, have a meltdown, get bitten or scared by another pet, and we didn't annoy toooo many people. Mommy managed to not be rude to a lady who wanted to ague with me that my dog HAD to be a Pomeranian mix (hate to break it to you but a Tibetan Spaniel is a real breed, google it, and MINE happens to be a champion show dog LOL) so score for me too. I guess we were both on our best behavior. The icing on the cake I guess is that Dr. Martin who owns the clinic got to meet Nicholas for the first time. Which probably makes him feel old lol since he's know ME since about age 6 lol. Anyway Thanks to Crystal, Vanessa, Hannah, Heather, and Dr. Chapman for getting Wonder Puppy in and taken care of and being patient with hyper toddler :) All in all a decent trip and one that gives me more confidence in my ability to handle Nicholas out in public on my own, even with a dog in tow! Yay for me and yay fro the toddler leash for helping me out!!

Next stop, pediatrician appointment first thing Friday Morning.... which I guess it today since I am up late again. Oops! Yay for the 18 month appointment, I hope we don't need shots.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

For Baby Brookelyn

I do not know Momma J personally she was a member of the Feb 2010 momma's group on WhatToExpect.com and I have gotten to know her gradually over the last 18 or so months. She and her family live in Canada and have three absolutely beautiful children. Two daughters and a new son who was born a few months ago. A happy little family you might think, and I am sure they are happy most of the time. There is a shadow though one that lingers and should haunt us all. Momma J had to experience a mother's very worst nightmare, the loss of a child. No death is easy, most especially the death of a child, a baby. However this loss is all the more difficult because their middle daughter, Baby Brookelyn, was taken from them not by an illness, or defect, or SIDS, or even an accident. No, Brookelyn was a victim of a caregiver's abuse. I sat in shock a year ago reading a status message on Facebook where Momma J revealed she and her family had had to say goodbye to their sweet Angel. I was even more shocked to learn why. Momma J cannot talk about her case because she is actively seeking justice for her little girl and wants no wayward detail to compromise her case. That is understandable. At the same time she also doesn't want Brookelyn forgotten, and she shouldn't be. Every day children in our world are abused. Some of them make it, and grow to become amazing individuals, some of them repeat the cycle of abuse with others, some of them are called home. A year ago a caregiver decided that Brookelyn had no right to her life, that her inner candle should be extinguished. There is no excuse that can be made for this woman that I can think of. Personally I cannot imagine living with myself after causing the death of anyone. Momma J has had to be an incredibly strong woman. To have to look into the eyes of a person who snuffed out such a bright and shinning little girl..... I cannot imagine. :(  I am sure this person had some reason for deciding Brookelyn's fate the way she did. I am sure she will have a defense. I am certain that it will not be nearly enough. Even if she were to walk free forgiven by the justice system she will certainly one day have to stand before God and explain herself. We are all judged in the end.

The one spot of light in this short story is that while this woman set out to extinguish Brookelyn's inner flame she did not succeed. Brookelyn's candle will forever burn brightly so long as we remember her and remember what happened to her. Brookelyn will light the way to a greater awareness of the issues surrounding child abuse. Brookelyn has changed my family's life and we never even met her. I am more careful with who Nicholas is with and where he is at all times. Not because I believe Momma J was not careful but because I now see that it could happen to anyone. I am also more appreciative of my son. I thank God daily for every dirty diaper, every broken toy, every sleepless night, and every single temper tantrum. Even though there are other things I enjoy more about my son I realize that these are also gifts. I am reminded that Momma J doesn't have smash cake photos from Brookelyn's first birthday. She never got to see her crawl, or hear her laugh. I treasure each and every memory and each and every experience good or bad that I have with Nicholas. I truly am thankful. I am also thankful for Momma J for being a role model of sorts on how to be a strong woman. I am thankful that she is sharing Brookelyn's story and that she is using her experience to try and prevent this from happening to another family. Baby Brookelyn will forever be remembered as will baby Chase who has his own farewell post on this blog after having passed from SIDS. Nicholas and I will in a show of support for Momma J and her family will be sending a Balloon up to baby Brookelyn. If Brookelyn's story can prevent even ONE more family from going through this terrible pain then Momma J can claim victory. Brookelyn's light, shining so very brightly, has touch me deeply both as a person and more specifically as a mother. Momma J shared a photo of some of her last moments with her daughter, holding tightly to a little Angel who was going to slip away. I don't know a mother alive who wouldn't be moved to tears, as I just was, looking at such a special moment. A moment that changed everything forever.

Child abuse is a serious issue that doesn't get nearly the attention it deserves. Before being allowed to take Nicholas home from the hospital my husband and I were required to watch a video on shaken baby syndrome. Nobody stayed in the room to make sure we DID watch it, and as I recall I slept through most of it. Nobody asked us questions to make sure we understood or provided us additional information about it either. The routine was the same for all three of the video's we had to watch. The lack of importance that was placed on such matters is now, looking back, a little shocking. Nobody tells you what you really need to know about choosing caregivers, or about what to do if you suspect somebody you know is abusive. There is little attention given to cases of neglect or even to murder unless you happen to hide the fact from the police like a certain Florida mother we all know. I can't imagine the pain Momma J experienced watching that woman go free! We should all be aware of abuse though, we should all be on the lookout for it. Not to say we all have to be paranoid but be attentive. Look and listen and don't make excuses for what you hear with your ears or see with your eyes. This goes way beyond dueling parenting methods or green living or nutrition beliefs. This isn't something that can be argued, it simply is a fact of life we all need to work to change. It is not acceptable. Change cannot be brought about by those who sit by on the sidelines and never speak up. Change requires action and we should all be involved. Look at your children, right now, go on look, and imagine a life without them. Imagine that they were suddenly taken from you for no reason at all. Imagine that they were hurt by someone. Can you stomach the thought? No? I thought not. This happens though, every day, and every day people turn a blind eye. No more, we can't do it anymore. Now you know Brookeyln though I cannot share a photo with you they are not mine to share. You know her story though and you can no longer be blind. Brookelyn's light will not allow child abuse to dwell in the shadows and neither should we!

Momma J, thank you for sharing Brookelyn with us all. You are the most amazing mother I have the privilege of knowing. I cannot truly understand how difficult today must be for you all. I hope that you know that my family as well as countless others are praying for you and your family not just today, but every day. Thank you for letting us in on the private last moments as heartbreaking as they were. Brookelyn will NEVER be forgotten, not by me, not by Nicholas, and I suspect not by a lot of other WTE mommies. Even though we are not close by please know to that we are releasing our Balloons and lighting a candle in memory of Brookelyn and out of deep respect for you. I cannot recall having such admiration for somebody in my entire life as I have for you now. Thank you for sharing Brookelyn's light, for shining it on such a serious issue and for doing what you can to make sure it cannot happen again. My prayers are with you in your continued fight for justice. You have such a network of support even if you cannot see us all, we are still here and we will remember you and Brookelyn always and will remember the message of awareness as well. (((HUGS)))) from us to you, I know it perhaps isn't much but it is what we can give you from so far away.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Toddler Understand More Than We Think :)

So today I got a lesson in just how much my toddler really does comprehend about the things around him. I've had this lesson a few times in the past week but this evenings was the most impressive. I guess I have been operating under the assumption that because Nicholas is basically non verbal he does not understand very much at all. After all if he did wouldn't he be talking. Haha, that is a terrible underestimation of a toddler! Talking doesn't equal an understanding of anything. A cashier in a store told me on Friday that she had read somewhere that late walkers and talkers were often more observant and had better concentration skills when they were older. I have no idea at all if that's true, I haven't been inclined to research it at all but I found it interesting that she, unlike our doctor, wasn't at all surprised that Nicholas wasn't talking at 18 months. I don't know that that is true really but I can see how Nicholas really IS observing and learning about the world all the time. Probably he's not unique in this but as he's the only toddler I've got much experience with haha, he's the only one I can talk about :P He's been doing things like responding to random phrases that I had no idea meant anything to him. For instance the phrase "Want to go bye bye" generates an instant response. He runs to you and wants you to pick him up or wants you to open a door for him. Very adorable unless you've happened to utter the phrase before you are truly ready to leave and now have to deal with a toddler clinging to your leg and fussing while you attempt to get everything you need together so you CAN leave. :p He recently also shocked me during story time by responding to my questions about his twinkle twinkle little star book "do you see the start? where is the star?" by cleverly pointing to and touching the star on the page. I almost dropped the book! YIKES! I didn't know you knew that!! Of course my response to him was more like " Oh that RIGHT!! Good Job! That's the Star!!" Amazing how such a small thing really equates into such a BIG thing when you realize that he's growing up more and more every day.

Today we took Nicholas to the beach again and spent a wonderful evening splashing in the water and digging in the sand. It was about 7pm when we decided to leave and so dinner out seemed like a good idea. It helped that I had found twenty dollars floating in the water near the shore and couldn't find an owner, so, (Yay), basically a free meal!! Ok, ok, so I didn't look tooooo hard for somebody who was missing a 20 but I looked around and there was nobody near and I figured if I walked down the beach to ask around somebody was bound to say yes whether it was really their 20 or not. Ya know? Anyway we needed a night out so maybe the sea gods were granting us one. We didn't go anywhere great, Denny's actually was the choice we made haha. I haven't eaten there since I lost an entire grand slam to "the sickness" while I was pregnant with Nicholas. Our waitress was very baby friendly and asked if she could bring us some crackers for Nicholas to munch on before our dinner arrived. YES! It makes looking at the menu much easier when he's occupied with something other than crayons that he's trying to shove in his eye or up his nose. I gave him a cracker which he shoved whole into his wide open mouth before snatching another. Adorable. I figured I'd notice if he had trouble and was in any danger of choking (and daddy's an EMT so he could deal with such an emergency) so I focused a bit on my menu. It wasn't long before the first two crackers had been eaten and next thing I know Nicholas is FURIOUS! Not because he didn't have another cracker but because he was ASKING for another cracker and I wasn't listening to him. I looked up to see him glaring at me then the crackers on the table, back to me and then very clearly signed CRACKER. OMG!!!!! NO freakin' way!! Honey did you just see that?! My husband looked up from his menu and observed Nicholas signing cracker as well. Not just pointing at the cracker actually giving us the sign for cracker from the baby signing time DVD. Now see you might not think this is impressive at all but you'd have to understand that I have never taught him the sign for cracker. I actually have only taught him "All Done" and "Eat". Not that I haven't tried to teach him others those are just the two he's picked up. I never bothered with cracker at all actually. Mostly I focused on actions and animals and people. To see him sign cracker was quite the shock! Where on earth did he learn it? Take a guess.... well seems like those sign language DVD's really DO work. Apparently he learned it directly from the DVD which I will go ahead and tell you he hasn't seen in about a month now because we've been watching Your Baby Can Read instead. (I like to rotate the educational DVD's for a little variety) He just never felt like using the sign I guess? I'm not sure. What I am sure about was that he was clearly communicating a specific desire to me that I had no idea he was capable of communicating. Bravo! :)  I was of course super excited! It doesn't take much for me to get excited and adding a new sign to our nonverbal vocabulary certainly did the trick. Now if we can just get him talking we'll be set, though I am told to enjoy the nonverbal while it lasts lol. This makes me realize that I should probably be a lot more observant about what Nicholas is watching, listening to, and who he's around. The old "he's not going to know" or "he doesn't understand" isn't going to cut it anymore. I don't want him to go to preschool and tell his teacher to eff off or anything so I better pay attention. Not that I use that term frequently, it's just the first example that popped into my head now. When I think about it it's kind of amazing to me just how quickly a toddler can change and just how much they probably do understand about the world around them without us ever realizing it. I certainly wasn't giving Nicholas as much credit as he obviously deserved :) Now that I know though I am SUPER excited to see what the future brings us in the way of changes and development. I have a feeling that talking is right around the corner among other things. *sniffle* My little man is growing up!!!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Has it been 18 months already?!

Gosh WHERE did the time go??? I can't believe it but yesterday I woke up and it was August 3rd. Nicholas' "half birthday". Probably I am a dope for celebrating the "half birthday" after he's already a year old but I couldn't help it. Besides, why waste any excuse to have a special day? So we got up, had a yummy breakfast and played and played and played. I really wanted to take him to the playground at the local park but the heat index was 112 - YIKES! So no surprise that when the husband got home from work he wasn't thrilled about that idea and shot it down lol. In fact he looked at me like I had lost my mind. I don't do well in the heat to be honest so he was pretty shocked at my idea. What we did instead was wait another hour or so and took Nicholas down to the beach. It was just about sunset when we got there so it was cooler plus the breeze that is ever present down on the water. It was actually rather nice. Nicholas hasn't been to the beach since he learned to walk. Last time we took him we set him down in the sand and off her went crawling out to sea lol. This time we handed him a couple of toy shovels and he was happy as the proverbial clam to play in the sand. He did eventually make it to the water and he had fun letting the waves come up around him. Every time a big one would splash him he would giggle and bounce up and down on his butt. He is SUCH a water baby! We played for maybe a little more than an hour it was pretty dark by the time we left not that it mattered b/c the area we were was very very well lit with ambient light from restaurants, the boardwalk, a pier, and a couple of night clubs. Very family friendly even after dark :) When he started grabbing and trying to eat handfuls of wet sand we decided our big beach adventure was over lol. Sure did enjoy it. Even though we had dinner waiting at home in the crock pot I was hungry right then so the husband stopped and picked up a quick snack. Just to let you know S'more flavored goldfish = AWESOME :) Mommy and Toddler approved. Dinner when we got home was a yummy pot roast with carrots and green beans and homemade mashed potatoes (Are there really any other kind?) YUM-O! Nicholas enjoyed it and then a bath and off to bed with no trouble at all (a first for the last couple of weeks).
 I can't believe we are halfway to two years old - WOW! Why is it that your life just sort of goes by at a normal pace when you are in a non parent but the very second you find out that you are expecting somebody turns time to high speed and everything just FLIES by? :) Before you know it your pregnancy is over and you have this newborn bundle of joy. Then one day your wake up and your newborn has morphed into a toddler. Preschool is just a hop, skip, and a jump away and you are left wondering "how did this happen" LoL. You just have to buckle up and hang on for the ride! :) I wouldn't trade the last 18 months for anything in the world even though they haven't always been easy. Then again is anything that is really worth it ever really easy? I wonder what the next 6 months will hold for us. Surely it will be full of awesome!