Tuesday, August 18, 2009

First Chocolate Milk

Last Friday, to get a little reprieve from the intense summer heat, Jonas and I decided to head out and get ourselves a treat. I bought a book. He got a chocolate milk. His FIRST chocolate milk. It was a hit, as you can see.

The straw goes in. He LOVES straws, by the way. He takes a sip. "Don't SQUEEZE it, Jonas," I say. The sparkle in his eye tells me he's thinking about it.

He takes a minute to savor it...

Yes!!! It's awesome!

What do you do when you're an 18 month old to show your approval of something? You shake it! And maybe let out a few shrill squeals.

Then, finally, you can settle in and just drink it down.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Tribute to our dear Ginger

We waited until he paused. "Is that it? Anything else?" We braced ourselves for the bomb to drop. "No, that's it. So, you have some good news here," said the vet. We breathed a collective sigh of relief. Everything seemed good to us. Ginger is going to be fine, after all.

Ginger as a puppy. She was about a year old here, in our old apartment in Syracuse.

It's ironic that it took a dramatic event for me to get around to posting a entry on Ginger, our dear companion of 9+ years. I've been meaning to do one on her for awhile, but just haven't gotten around to it.

We always celebrate Ginger's birthday with a cake. The cake is mostly for me, the cake fiend, but she gets her own serving.

I was afraid we were about to come close to losing our cherished pet this past week. Already arthritic, Ginger started showing signs a few weeks ago that something else was wrong. She had become increasingly weak and was avoiding putting too much weight on her right paw. We took her to the vet last Wednesday. $230 later, we walked out with a small pharmacopia to treat her newly diagnosed Anaplasmosis, as well as an ear infection and skin infection. Poor dog! We were instructed to come back in 10 days to check on her recovery. Well, "recover", she did not. In fact, she got worse. Finally, I said, we can't wait ten days. She might not even be able to WALK in ten days.

When we saw the vet again, he booked her for xrays and did a complete blood count. Turns out she has some compression of the cervical vertebrae and arthritis in the shoulders, but no cancer and no other diseases. I can't say I'm surprised about the compression. Ginger has packed into her nine years, the activities of several average dogs. She's hiked Mount Marcy in the Adirondack High Peaks, where she was the sole witness to our engagement. She used to run nearly 10 miles a day between my run and Joe's separate run with her, as a puppy. She's logged endless miles on trail runs through our favorite abandoned quarry in Syracuse, Cockaponsett Forest in Connecticut, Pine Bush Preserve in Albany, and Central Park in Schenectady. And even as she grew unable to run much, she was still climbing our stairs several times a day, especially once Jonas was born.

Our epic hike up Mount Marcy, Oct. 15, 2o02, when Joe proposed to me. Joe would be in the picture too, except that he had to take the photo. As a younger dog, Ginger LIVED for the woods. As an older dog, she still drags me down the sidewalk, some days, toward the park, where she can tromp around and stick her nose down mole holes.

We were on Cloud 9 when we heard that she should be fine. When we returned from the vet's office, she was more animated than usual. Our hearts burst with joy. But little by little over the weekend, she slowed and became increasingly stiff. We took her off her new arthritis medicine for fear that she was reacting negatively to it. No change. This morning, she was the weakest that I've seen her. She collapsed multiple times. It broke my heart.

In a panic, I called the vet's office first thing this morning. She's going to start a steroid tomorrow and finish out her course of anti-biotics for the Anaplasmosis. Tonight she gave us cause for more excitement, when she returned to the kitchen with a ravenous appetite and played with Jonas and her ball.

Ginger is such a trooper, and she's so good with Jonas. He continually pokes and prods her and she endures it all with unbelievable patience. She is protective of him and at the same time doesn't hesitate to steal food out of his hand. I guess all is fair in love and war.

Up and down, up and down. I feel like we're on a roller-coaster these days. I get one good night of sleep, followed by two bad ones, during which I'm worried and on edge as I listen for Ginger in case she trips when she's walking around at night. Sometimes she'll need to go out at night, which means I have to don the sandals and quasi-lift her down the porch stairs, all the while trying not to lose my own balance.

One unanticipated, but positive, outcome to last week's drama is that I am highly aware that Ginger's time with us may be limited. I certainly hope not, but one never knows. I am going to pour as much love as I can in these last years, because she deserves it. She has been such a wonderful companion to us all these years. And I confess I feel a little guilty that in Jonas' first months of life, I often grew impatient with her and perhaps on occasion took her for granted. Now, it's no longer a burden, but a pleasure, to take a little extra time to make sure that her bed is extra comfy, and that she has ample treats and special surprises, like impromptu car rides. These days, I take nothing for granted. It's for the best that way.

Jonas and Ginger
Christmas 2008

Jonas Update - 17 months

Gone is my little baby. Jonas is very much a toddler these days, playing with the “big kids,” actively exploring his world, and routinely testing boundaries. The rolls of baby fat have smoothed out to a somewhat more slender, little guy. I think Jonas is going to have his father’s physique. Better that, than his mother’s, I suppose. Despite some of the ups and downs, I have to say that I love this age.

Mr. Helper-man. One of the most endearing aspects of Jonas’ development is that he has become very interested in lending a hand. We are certainly happy to oblige and strive to keep him busy. It started with me asking him to go put something in the clothes hamper. Now, he loves doing anything to help. Jonas, can you throw this away? Jonas, can you pick that up and throw it to Ginger? Jonas, can you go give this to Da-da? (That’s a way for me to make him disappear for a minute.) Whatever the job is, he’s up for it. The trick is just keep those tasks coming, which is not always so easy.

Plugged-in. While in the office with Joe, one of Jonas’ favorite diversions is the cord, a cord to anything, be it a laptop, a cell phone, an ipod, you name it. Jonas sits on the floor and folds the cord in ten different configurations. When he tires of that, he walks around the room looking for good spots into which he can plug the cord. Not real outlets, just pretend ones. Sometimes he plugs into the covering of our baseboard heaters, or a drawer, the dog or Joe’s leg. He’s very creative about what will accept a cord. And the best part of the “plug in” are the sound effects that come with it.

For the record, Jonas is never permitted to play with a cord while unsupervised. Once he’s done with it, all cords are always tucked away safely in a place that he can’t access.

Favorite toys: our vacuum, ride-on toys, Fisher Price puppy that talks and sings songs, Uncle Andy’s duplos and megablocks, and the watering can for the garden. We’ve had the ride-on toys for awhile now, but he’s really gotten into them lately.

“Sound effects”. I’ve always been fascinated about the influence of social conditioning on children and the way in which they play. For example, where do boys learn all those crazy sounds they make?? Is it only from other boys? I played with both boys and girls, and I never internalized any of those sounds. When I listen to Joe talk with another guy about some motorized do-hicky, I marvel at the sounds they come up with. These from two grown men! Who taught them that?? I figured that one day Jonas would do this too, but I hardly expected to observe this a year-and-a-half.

In the last month, I noticed that as Jonas pushes around tiny trains and cars, and even other things that aren’t motorized, like a stuffed frog, he has begun to produce these sound effects. Many actions seem to “require” sound effects: when he touches his play tweezers (Animal Hospital) to the cabinet...buzz. When he pushes a toy rhinoceros face to face with his school bus… buzzzzz. I can’t help but laugh. It’s so adorable. And I just can’t believe he’s doing this already!

Tantrums. With the good, comes the bad. So, while 85% of the time, our dear boy is sweet as pie, he also has his moments of screaming, crying, and kicking hysteria. I find these moments occur most frequently between the hours of 5–7 p.m. It’s taken me awhile to get used to these outbursts, but my ability to tolerate the screaming and go on about my business has improved dramatically over the last few months. It kind of has to… it’s either that, or the loony bin.

Talking. No major pronouncements yet. Jonas seems to be wrapping up the Caveman Language Phase, the grunt and point method, and that’s exciting. He now utters strings of vocalizations that sound like words, although none that we recognize. Still, the inflection is much more language-like than anything we’ve heard before. My friend assures me there’s nothing to worry about; her brother didn’t speak until 2 yrs. and when he began, he spoke in full sentences. I know, “every child learns at his/her own pace”. That may be, but it sure would be nice if he could just muster a “ma-ma” or “da-da” every now and again.

Favorite books: Good Night Moon, Time for Bed, Jamberry

Other funny things: He likes to unload the silverware from the dishwasher, whether it’s dirty or clean, and put in an adjacent drawer. He plays in Ginger’s water and food dishes as though it’s his very own sand & water table. He loves to march around the basement with Joe’s bike pump in tow, (dragging on the ground). He thinks *he* should be able to hold the leash while we walk Ginger. Jonas = 30 pounds; Ginger = 80 pounds. Hmm.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Crib: the last chapter

This morning, we heard the sound that every parent dreads hearing: Thud! Wahhhhhhh! Jonas had either fallen or jumped out of the crib.

“Oh my God. Did you hear that?” Joe asked me in a panic. I struggled to process what he was saying. I had heard a noise, but I had been dreaming, so everything was foggy and confusing. Then, I heard Jonas wailing. This was definitely not his typical whiny morning cry. I jumped up and headed toward his room. He was already waddling out of his room and met me in the hallway. “Oh, thank God. He’s walking. He’s not bleeding. Nothing appears broken. Eye movement seems normal. He’s ok.” My mind was spinning as I considered all the ways in which this could have gone terribly wrong. I was so grateful.

Tonight, before we settled into our chair to snuggle and read our nightly books, I had to take care of something. While Jonas played with his newly inherited Duplos, I looked carefully at the mattress support brackets. There was only one more bracket to go, the last one, at the bottom. Suddenly, a bittersweet feeling washed over me. It was only this same time last year that Jonas was getting used to sleeping in his crib, at the top level. Now, he’s at the bottom level. Next thing you know, it’ll be time to move to a big bed, and I think high school graduation comes the following week, or that’s how they say it feels, anyway. How could an entire year have passed already??

I don’t really want him to stop growing, although I suppose I wouldn’t mind if he didn’t grow so fast. Every parent knows deep down, though, that this isn’t possible. This is just one of those things that makes you relish your role as a parent. You know your child’s time as a child will be short-lived. It’ll be wonderous, sweet, and fun-filled most of the time; and, it’ll make you cry and drive you mad on occasion; but, these are the things that make it all the sweeter.

So, while I lowered the mattress, I asked Jonas to select the books that he wanted to read tonight. They’re almost always the same: Jamberry, Good Night Moon, and Lullaby and Good Night or Time for Bed. We sat down in our chair and began to flip through the pages. Jonas’ drowsiness set in fast tonight. We didn’t even get all the way through Good Night Moon. But this time, instead of getting up quickly and putting him into bed like I normally do (after all, a mom has so many things to do after the children are in bed!), we stayed for a long time in the rocking chair. I rocked and rocked him, listening to his breath, and gazing down at his ever maturing face. I tried to linger in time, hoping it might just stop, even if only for a few minutes, before I wake up and realize this precious time is over.