Sunday, December 28, 2008

Thinking outside the box

On this slow and lazy, rainy afternoon Joe and I are both trying to recuperate from the last two nights of Jonas being up all night. The little guy's been under the weather since Friday with goopy eye gook, congestion and a runny nose. Consequently, he hasn't slept well at all and neither have we. So, we're holed up in our bedroom, watching a documentary about George Hincapie, eating snacks and laying low. For Jonas, however, being congested is no reason to put playing on hold.

I brought Jonas' bath tub upstairs, because I was going to give him a bath and hopefully loosen up some of that congestion. But before I could get him to the bathroom, I got sucked into this show. I put the bath tub on the floor. Two seconds later Jonas crawled into it and has been playing with it for over an hour. Awesome! We've been laughing ourselves silly at him in his pj's in the bathtub with his toys, with no water, of course.

This is a great lesson on thinking out of the box, or the tub, as it were. I would have never thought that the bathtub could be fun without water. That just shows you how narrow minded *I* am. It's been a completely new experience for Jonas and he loves it. He's been putting all his non-water toys in the tub, trying to stand up, and even taken a few tumbles out of it.

Sometimes the most unsuspecting things provide the greatest pleasure. I just love it when that happens.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

First Christmas

In a way it's hard for me to believe that this is Jonas' first Christmas. It feels like he's been with us for so long, that he must have been here last December, right? Well, literally speaking, he was here, just not on "the outside". Nevertheless, it was an exciting Christmas. I knew it was going to be low-key, i.e. just the three of us, excuse me, four of us, (sorry Ginger) at home, but it certainly wasn't uneventful.

After a reading of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, Jonas settled in for a nice long sleep until 7:30 the next morning. Enjoy this, I told myself. In a few years you'll probably be finishing the opening of the presents by this time. We got up, had a leisurely breakfast, and--miracle of all miracle--went to church. The funniest part about church, besides the crowd of 12 people, including 2 other babies/toddlers, was the moment when Jonas seemed to wake up to what the minister was saying. All of a sudden in a resounding "outside voice" Jonas squawked, "blah, blah, blah, blah, blahhhhhhh." Maybe I'm the only one who sees the irony in this, but I thought it was pretty funny.

Present opening was next on the agenda. At ten months Jonas was often way more interested in the bow or the wrapping paper than the gift itself. I'd estimate that he opened about half of his gifts, himself. Then, he snuck off behind the sofa where I had hidden his new bike. Just as I noticed he had disappeared, he screamed with glee and I heard the sound of wheels beginning to roll across our hardwoods.

He wasn't squealing because he was thrilled to have found a bike, just that this thing had WHEELS and that it MOVED. I pushed Jonas on the bike closer to the tree, where we had been opening presents. He was so excited I thought he was going to explode. He yanked at the ribbons on the bike and pushed the bike over on its side, running his chubby digits over the wooden "downtube", which is a bit of a misnomer since the bike's so small, it's like it really only has a top tube. He spent the next ten minutes spinning the wheels and laughing as they turned. Jonas was hooked.

Maybe someday he'll appreciate that a bike offers greater function that a mere thing that has wheels you can spin, but for now he's content.

After that, he started to fade a little, so we opened his gifts and showed them all to him. Ginger got in on the action too. She brought her crunchy over to us and begged any of us to steal it away from her. Jonas obliged, as usual.

We took a family walk making use of Jonas' "new" Kelty kid carrier backpack. He loved it. I think he especially loved being up so high.

I don't think he was especially thrilled here, but this is before Joe actually put the pack on. This photo reminds me of little Randy from The Christmas Story.

Our day drew to a close with a scrumptious dinner of ravioli, homemade sauce, and a salad with pears, figs and goat cheese (yummmm). Jonas enjoyed something a little less exotic in flavor. Something like sweet potatoes and apples, but he was happy all the same. It was the perfect way to end a very special day.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

'Twas The Night Before Christmas

There's something a little surreal about this Christmas. I suppose it's because it's so different from any other Christmas: we have a child now. And it really colors everything in a different light.

This year's preparation for the holidays has been a bit more stressful than previous years. There was one weekend less to prepare, since Thanksgiving was so late. We had a death in the family, Joe's grandmother, Jonas's great-grandmother. All of us have been sick this month. I've had a hard time exercising restraint on Christmas purchases this year, but did so, because it would have been imprudent to do otherwise. And, I learned that with a child I need to start thinking about Christmas earlier in the year, not the day after Thanksgiving.

That said, this year is also incredibly joyous. Last night we went to Jonas's daycare Christmas party. Jonas went between awestruck and ecstatic, shaking his bells, as the other children sang Christmas carols. The best moment was when we were presented with (absolutely delicious!) cookies that the woman who runs the daycare had made for each of the families. On the wrapping was a precious ornament with Jonas' photo. I don't know why, but when I saw it, my heart melted and I nearly wept. Wept, for what? I don't really know. Joy, I think. All the other children had their own ornaments, too. But they had taken the time to make one for us, since Jonas couldn't make his own. Such a simple thing, and yet it gave me such happiness. I had to bring it upstairs and put it on my nightstand last night. I looked over at it often. It made me smile and my heart flutter.

Christmas Eve was a really nice day. We had some last minute running around to do. For example, we had to go out and get the "kid backpack" (photo above) for our family trek tomorrow. We received some money as a gift for Christmas, so we went out and treated ourselves to a gift the whole family could enjoy. Joe put Jonas in the pack tonight and Jonas lit up like our Christmas tree. He kept smacking Joe on the head, letting him know that he should get a move on.

Joe and Jonas also got to spend some one-on-one time this morning while I got my hair done. One of the things that I love now about this stage of parenthood is the stories we exchange about what Jonas got into while the other was away from the house. When I returned, Joe told me that Jonas and Ginger played together much of the time I was away. Joe took several photos, but I can only post a few.

Recently, Jonas has begun to hug people, and Ginger. He also gives a lot of "pats" and an occasional kiss, although he often still goes in for the kiss with his mouth open. I think that he thinks a kiss is just when you put your face next to someone else's. This is definitely Ginger's comprehension of what a kiss is, although hers has a certain nudge quality to it. Maybe Ginger schooled Jonas on how to give kisses. Anyway, here are a few photos from this morning. I thought they were adorable, especially the last one.

Jonas giving Ginger a kiss on the head.

"Hey look, Dad, I've got her ear!"


Merry Christmas to all (or Happy Chanukah, or Kwanzaa, or whatever your celebration), and to all a good night.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

420 months

I used to always find the practice of identifying a young child's age mystifying, and, I confess, annoying. "How old is your daughter?", I'd ask a mother. "21 months" she says. Twenty-one months? What the hell does that mean?!

I since learned that everything in childhood prior to the age of two is described in terms of months. You can't escape it --clothing size, toys, jars of baby food, dosages of medicine, and on and on it goes. It's daunting, however, for those who aren't immersed in a child's world. What crazy person came up with this annoying counting method reserved for parents and people working in the kid world? So, let's see... that makes me 420 months old! In "the old days" I secretly resented having to do the math in my head, especially since math has never been one of my strong suits. Sure, I could figure it out... 12 months in a year, 24 months in two years. 24 - 21 = 3. So, the kid is 3 months away from turning two years old, and I'm one day closer to death by the time I arrive at his age calculation. Thanks for the arithmetic gymnastics, lady.

Now, I get it. These little guys grow so quickly and their learning curve is so steep in the first two years, that it makes more sense to those who are firmly in "kid world" to refer to age in smaller units of time than years. Now, when someone says that their child is 3 months old, I know that the child is probably not teething yet, or sitting up or working on his pincer grasp. I know this because now I know what to expect in terms of development of a child at that age.

Now that I get it, I might try to take it easy on non-parents. What's the harm in just rounding off to the nearest year, or half year? It's not like they know the difference. I'll consider it my good deed of the day, and maybe it'll save someone's brain power for another important task, like trying to figure out the phone bill.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Jonas at 9 months

Here's Jonas at 9 months old.

We were playing around with the camera one snowy afternoon. You can see Jonas is quite adept at creeping these days. He does crawl a little, but after a few "steps" reverts to his stomach.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Birthday therapy

This morning, since I'm spending the day at home with Jonas instead of working (I don't work on Mondays), Jonas and I decided to take some time, catch up, and have an important conversation on the occasion of my 35th birthday. You'll see he's even appropriately dressed in his personalized lab coat, a gift from his grandfather, who is a psychiatrist.

"Please, Mom. Come on in. Take a seat. Make yourself comfortable." I sit down.

"Nevermind me, if I play with this thing. It helps me think clearer. So tell me... how's it going? How are you feeling about 35?"

"Well, the truth is, Jonas, I really don't feel any different whatsoever."

"Hmmm. Really. Not at all? I find that hard to believe. Everyone has feelings about aging, Mom."

"Well, ok. Yes, I guess I have to concede that I don't really like the sound of the number 35. It's only 5 away from 40. And, well, not that 40 is old..."

"Uh huh... go on..."

"I mean, I don't think that 40 is "old" when other people reach that age, but I suppose that perhaps I'm a little less comfortable thinking of myself aging. I feel like I'm 25, physically speaking."

"Mmm, yes. Go on..."

"Now, I suppose in other dimensions, I would say I feel older--like say, emotionally, well, I've been around a few bends, so I feel more emotionally mature than 25..."


"I would say I feel my age when it comes to emotional development. Spiritually, speaking, well, I don't know, exactly. I think I've made progress on that front too. Who really knows about that, anyway?"

"I see. Well, how would you rate your satisfaction with your life?"

"I'd rate it very high. I have many, many blessings. A wonderful and fulfilling marriage. The opportunity to be a mother and enjoy all of it's many privileges and sacrifices. I have great friends, a caring family... I'm physically well. On occasion, I could use a little more sleep (hint, hint!)."

"Yes, I'm picking up on the passive-aggressive tone, there, Mom. I'm a baby, ok?? I've got major teeth issues."

"Right, sorry. I was just trying to be honest."

"Duly noted."

"Well, if you ask me, Mom, I think you've got it all figured it. Now, it took you while to get the feeding down, as well as the different crying sounds and their associated messages, but you're even demonstrating pretty good skills in that arena, currently. I think--and take this for what you will, after all, I am only 9 months old--that you shouldn't worry about any numbers. You're a good cook, you're fun, you're really good at walking without falling, you can make me stop crying better than anyone else, oh, and you have lots of blessings. Age is just a number. It's really about how you feel. You get me?"

"You are wise beyond your years, Jonas."

"So, there you have it. A little "arm chair psychology" from your favorite Dr. Vinciquerra."

"Indeed. Thank you, dear."

"Think nothing of it, Mother. And happy birthday."

Friday, November 28, 2008

Jonas discovers Norman Rockwell

During my mom's Thanksgiving visit we took a scenic ride out to West Stockbridge, MA, to check out the Norman Rockwell Museum. Mom's a huge N. Rockwell fan and thought that it's never to early to start imparting some of her passion for Mr. Rockwell to her grandson.

Grammie and Jonas by the miniature train village.

It's a great museum, although truth be told, I didn't get to read all of the little write-ups next to each painting or frame. I was bouncing, shushing, and rocking a very gabby and bubbly baby through the galleries. He didn't seem as interested as I was in reading all the good work of the curatorial staff, but he sure caught the eye of one complementary docent. :-)

Mom and Jonas took a break downstairs in the "art zone" where Jonas could blow off some steam and play with the blocks.

After I had a chance to go back and see a few more paintings, I joined them.

We thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I'm sure we'll be visiting again soon. Maybe then I'll have a few more minutes to read the descriptions.

After our excursion to the museum, we stopped off at a terrific little deli-cafe in Great Barrington, called Bizalion. I struggled to decide on just one sandwich as I drank in the site of a hundred delectable French and Italian goods--a huge collection of cheeses, saucissons secs, aromatic olive oils, condiments imported from France, and on and on it went. I finally settled on a prosciutto panino with mozerelle, tapenade and pesto. It was glorious. A perfect way to end a fun and educational (??) trip.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Warm wishes go out to everyone for a happy and hearty Thanksgiving holiday. We started our turkey day with a brisk run in Schenectady's Cardiac Classic 5k.

For years, I've done a good run on Thanksgiving morning, be it a bona fide race or just a nice training run, just so that I could indulge guilt-free in an obscenely large piece of pumpkin pie with an equally obscene amount of whipped cream. I love all the tastes of this holiday meal, but the pumpkin pie with all it's warm and earthly spices is the best.

Joe went out for his pre-race trail run, nice and early. Way too early for me, thank you. He returned at 8:30 to round us up: me in my running tights, which I haven't worn since the early months of 2007 when I was training for the half marathon, and Jonas bundled up like an eskimo and "stuffed" into the baby jogger. Jonas was about to "run" in his first race.

My goal was to get through the whole 3.1 miles without walking. I've been running off and on, and for up to 30 minutes, but it hasn't been a continuous 30 minutes with an additional 15 minute warm-up. Seems so funny to think that getting through 3 miles with no breaks was my goal, when just over two years ago I was aiming toward pushing up my mileage from 6 miles to an unfathomable 13. Well anyway, all of that was B.C. (before child). I was just so thrilled to be out there doing my first race since having Jonas. Joe ran with me while pushing Jonas. Our moms cheered us on from our street corner and near the finish.

I'm happy to report that I did finish the race with no stops and in 35 minutes and some change. I also enjoyed every bite of two slices of pie! Hey, I deserved it.
The problem is that now that the holiday season is here, I'm going to have to up my mileage, so that I can enjoy more than just a slice pie. That's ok, too, though. I've been itching to get back into the habit of running. Who knows, I may even have a special announcement about that after the holidays, but I'm going to keep you in suspense on that one for a bit.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Nine months doctor visit

Jonas' nine month doctor visit went well. He's getting over his cold and things are on the up and up. He's still in the upper 90th percentile for his age in weight and height. He's 30 inches long and weighs nearly 23 pounds. I've finally come to grips with having to put away the baby bjorn. We've got to get a backpack, or I'm going to end up with major back problems.

We discussed at our appointment how we're entering the phase where the child begins to act up, throwing some little tantrums. Our doctor said that during this period the child starts to "develop an opinion about how he wants things to go" and when they don't work out, begins to protest a bit. It becomes more challenging to just divert their attention when you direct them away from something you don't want them to chew on or play with. Hearing this was timely, because only a week before this appointment we noticed the beginnings of this behavior. We redirect Jonas away from Ginger's food bowl and he throws a fit in his walker, screaming, crying, crashing his walker into everything. It's kind of amusing, but we try not to laugh, of course. My friends tell me that the silver lining in this phase is that the earlier it starts, the faster you get through it. So, here we go...

Jonas' hair has really filled in over the last two months, as you can see above. I had always thought that getting the first trim would be one of the rites of passage once he reached his first birthday. I have to say, though, I think we may need that trim sooner than 1 year. His hair's gotten a little unruly--it's pin straight, except when wet, has a mind of its own, and is growing so long that I think in another month it'll hang down into his eyes. You can't see that so much in the first photo, because I've "fixed it", but most days, despite my efforts to comb it, he crawls around sporting this napoleonic coiffe (you know the look--those grand tableaux with Napoleon and his windswept hair?).Not exactly an age-appropriate look for our son--or, at least, not the look I really want him to have. My friends with girls have the option of using a barrette to keep that renegade hair out of the eyes. I don't foresee utilizing that one, though. So, we'll see what happens.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Bugs, bugs and more bugs

This is how I found Joe and Jonas when I came home from work yesterday.

Our little guy has been tackling teeth issues and a couple of orny viruses for the last two weeks. He's been working on three (we think) teeth. Two of them came through last weekend, the two upper ones. There's a lower one still to come. Last week we learned first hand about baby fevers, then it went away for the weekend, only to return at 104 on Wed. That was a little frightening.

Yesterday we split the day so that both of us could go to work for at least half the day. Jonas couldn't nap well. After I left, Jonas only had two 10-minute naps until he finally conked out while lying on Joe. We're on day 3 now, and as luck would have it, Jonas' 9 month appt. with the pediatrician is today. Between the doctor visit and Auntie Sarah's visit this weekend, I think his spirits will perk up.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Finding Grace

I'd like to share with you a story of hope and inspiration. My dear friend Marlena started a blog recently and I wanted to share it with my friends and family because it's a testament to the human spirit. It's called Finding My Grace. Check it out.

This is Marlena. (Ha ha, Marlena, I stole your work head shot!) Among the many labels that characterize her identity (mother, wife, friend, comedienne, colleague, aspiring runner, Martha Stewart protege, among many others), she is also waging her own war on the thyroid cancer that was discovered last year. After undergoing countless diagnostic tests, multiple surgeries, low-iodine diet regimens, and a course of radioactive iodine in a span of just 14-15 months, Marlena has just embarked on year two of her assault on the 'highly differentiated' cells. (We share an office at work, so I've even learned a thing or two about thyroid cancer in the past year.)

She told me that she wanted to start a blog to chronicle her adventures as she navigates her way through dealing with cancer, while facing the challenges and embracing the joys in all the other facets of her life. This is not a blog that recounts all of her medical procedures, providing a blow by blow descriptions and unpronounceable scientific terms. That's not Marlena's style. Hers is a blog about life, living it to its fullest, and as you might guess from the title, finding grace along the way. It's funny, honest, endearing, real, moving and inspirational. You don't have to be a cancer patient to enjoy it, although if you know of someone who is dealing with some heavy medical issues, perhaps you might share this with them. Please take a visit.

Our story

Let me tell you a little more about Marlena.

We met in 2005, when she returned to Emma Willard to work in my department. I liked her from the moment we met. Effervescent and spunky, Marlena has an infectious, good-natured, high pitched cackle of a laugh that resonates throughout the old walls of our building. I sensed a devilished streak in her early on from the twinkle in her eye.

She and her partner in crime, Ariana, injected daily laughs into my life at a time when I really needed it. We all celebrated her joy at the birth of her son Owen and marriage to sweetheart Jeff. Then, at the age of only 27, Marlena was diagnosed with a somewhat rare form
of thyroid cancer. I was stunned by the news. It was even more disturbing because I knew that Marlena had lost her mother to cancer at a young age, although it was a different form of cancer altogether.

For the next year I would be continually amazed and inspired by Marlena's courage and determination. She has really taken life by the horns and grown tremendously. When I start to get overwhelmed with the petty, minutiae of life, I take a moment and think of Marlena and the challenges her family regularly faces. It puts things back into perspective for me. I am moved by her optimism and resilience and humbled by her wisdom. And though it may be difficult for her to believe, I even find my own grace through her.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Teething woes

I'm so happy to report that Jonas cut his first (upper) tooth today. It's taken 3 months for this one to come through and it's been no picnic for him. This week was especially challenging. We were all up most of the night for a few days. And one night Jonas developed his first fever. From what I've learned, the high fever was due to a coincidental viral infection, not a direct cause from teething. In any case it was kind of scary. It was 102.
Everything's good now, though. He's happy since the tooth broke through. TBD on whether the other will come through right away. He got the bottom two at the same time. Here's to hoping to get another night of uninterrupted sleep.