Friday, November 20, 2009



I heard it, but couldn't see him as I was standing at the kitchen sink. It was coming from the toy box.


I turned the corner to see Finny, head first in the toy box, legs kicking wildly in the air.


Hardest I've laughed in a long time.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Walk Walk Walk

And then he walked.

One step. Two steps. Three steps. As if it were suddenly no big deal. He walked.

Laurie and I were just casually talking in the children's section of the library, which we had let Jane and Finn mildly destroy, and Finny, who was already standing against a wooden table, must've decided it just might be easier to walk to that other book.

Laurie and I looked at each other with dropped jaws.

Then he did it again. Craziest thing I've ever seen. Like watching those pictures of evolution in a biology textbook--Ape to Neanderthal to Man right before our very eyes. Millions of years of evolution just sped up for the sake of an enticing lift-the-flap book.

"What's wrong with you guys?" he said with his puzzled eyes, "Never seen a guy read a lift-the-flap book before?"

When I took him home, we did it again and again.

"Finny, walk to Mommy." And he did. "Yeah! Finny walk to Mommy again!" Yeah! Again! Do it again!

"Don't you have to make the tacos?"

"Tacos Schmacos. One more time!"

By the time David got home, he was too tired to perform again and he would turn into a wet noodle when asked. But, you know what they say--baby steps.

And then, a day later...

He threw up all over me. At about 9:30 p.m. Monday night Finny woke up crying and it wasn't over a lost paci. This time it was because for the first time in fourteen months Finny was sick.

Up until this point, Finny has had a couple runny and stuffy noses, but this is the first time he has had such a bellyache that he was left shaking and curled up on my chest in feverish suffering.

This was also the first time we've taken his temperature and it rose above 100 degrees. I held Finny while David called Urgent Care. They told him that there was an intestinal virus going around and we should give him Pedialyte.

"Really?" I asked. "What else did they say? I'll call."

I called back. They told me that there was an intestinal virus giong around and we should give him Pedialyte.

But they also told me he was likely to be throwing up all night and likely to have diarrhea and she said it was highly contagious and we would probably all get it.

I'm glad this turned out to be the worst case scenario. After we gave him a dose of Tylenol for his fever and David rocked him for a good hour, he fell back to sleep.

That night he was awake and crying from 2-4 despite multiple attempts to comfort him back to sleep, including one stint in the guest bed where he rolled over and bonked his head on the nightstand. Mom of the Year here.

The next day he was shackled to me. If I tried to put him down, he would wrap his arms around my neck and lock his legs around my middle. He ate breakfast and lunch on my lap, collecting bread crumbs in his hair as I tried to eat my lunch while holding him and my plate, so that he would not sporadically hurl it across the room. If I did manage to distract him for a second,-- "Hey, Finny! Look! Over there! A tupperware lid!"--then I would bolt for the kitchen to attempt to put a dish away. Within a matter of seconds he was on to me. Pound. Pound. Pound. And there he was on my pant leg, pleading.

By the end of the day, I was drained and sick to death of Sesame Street. Why? Why must Baby Bear speak with that crazy lisp? Those plastic rings? Really not much you can do with them. Stack. Unstack. Stack. That's all I got.

The twisted thing is, in a weird way, I loved it. The clinging. I loved it. Someday I'll have to sit in the car when he goes trick-or-treating with his friends. Yesterday, I hated that he felt so bad, but I loved that I was the one he wanted to make him feel better. Just me. Mommy.

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Trail of What Ifs

It was the kind of nightmare that makes your whole body ache. If I had been seven, I would've grabbed my blankie and crawled into bed with my parents. Because I'm thirty, I curled into a ball and just lay there moaning and praying for God to take the image of the dream out of my head so I could go back to sleep.

It involved Finny and concrete. Enough said.

I actually tried to toss and turn noisily in the hopes that David would wake up and ask me what the matter was. I wanted to talk about it to get it out of my head and just hear, "Everything is all right. Finny is fine." I knew is wasn't fair to wake David up to terrorize him with my nightmare too, so I lay there cringing at the repeated sight of it until eventually I fell back asleep.

Then, another nightmare. This time David was driving upside down. He wasn't looking at the road and he nearly killed us. In the dream, we were on our way to church, the cause of it all.

After last week's church fiasco, we had decided to try a new church, one of the only Catholic churches which offers babysitting for babies Finny's age. While excited about the idea of sitting through Mass uninterrupted, I was simultaneously terrified by the idea of leaving Finny with complete strangers.

The whole way there I was clutching my sweater and holding back tears, all the while embarrassed that I was this emotional about dropping him off at church daycare. Many, many mothers do this everyday. But not me. Finny stays with me everyday. I'm the only one who knows exactly what he can handle and what he needs. Up until now, if we have left him with someone, it was one of his grandparents or my sister, who also know him quite well and aren't upset or insulted when I freakishly give them a tedious and detailed list of instructions and "What ifs..."

This time I couldn't do that. It really would be freakish if I dropped him off for an hour with a full owner's manual pinned to his back. I never want to be the mom who follows her son to college or drops off his forgotten lunch at the office, and yet, here I was, confronted with my fears of letting him go and my complete lack of trust in the world outside my home. My mind raced.

What if one of the volunteers has a history, one of those women who can't conceive and is looking for a baby to snatch? I've seen them on the Today Show. What if there are bobby pins on the floor and he puts one in his mouth? What if they don't understand that he can't walk on his own and take him for a walk outside and then let go...on the concrete?

As we walked into the church, David kindly tried to put me at ease by suggesting, "I guess he could get Swine Flu in here."

"I know!" I exclaimed. What if, what if, what if?! I was dragging a trail of them behind me as I approached the glass doors.

But I did it. I let him go. We walked into the babysitting room and left him with Sue and Kristen, an adult and a teenager. He saw a plastic slide and immediately lunged for it. We signed him in, gave him a nametag, and I sheepishly muttered, "I'll just leave his bag here. There's a snack inside if he wants it, and here's his juice, and if he gets fussy, there's a pacifier in here, we've never left him before, and well, I guess we'll just go."

We left and we heard every word of Mass and sang every song and we stayed until the end without ever leaving our seats. It wasn't our church. It was much bigger and felt foreign, but maybe it's time we ventured out a bit into the foreign. The message, which we both got to hear, was about tribulation. No matter how big or small our tribulations are, God is there with us. And I guess that's exactly what I needed to hear.

When Mass ended, we raced down the hall to see how Finny had done. He didn't even notice we'd left.

No concrete, no baby snatchers. There was a runny nose in there, but I can't wipe every nose Finny comes into contact with. Instead I need to start getting more of my courage from God and less of my news from The Today Show, and then, maybe I'll be less inclined to burst into tears when I leave my family room. Then, maybe then, I can start to breathe a little easier, sleep a little sounder, and travel a little lighter without a trail of "what ifs" following me into every foreign situation I encounter.

Finny and concrete will have to co-exist after all, and I too will have to learn to self-soothe and put myself back to sleep at night.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Playground Pat

Soaking up every last bit of nice weather we can before winter rears its ugly head, Finny and I take a daily trip to the park for some strolling, swinging and climbing on the jungle gym.

Yesterday, during one of our climbs, we came across a three-year-old we will endearlingly refer to as Pat. I have seen Pat at the park before with his/her daddy, but am challenged at every meeting to determine whether Pat is a little boy or little girl, and I am a little frustrated by the ambiguity of the whole situation.

This child, boy or girl, is beautiful. Soft, baby face, big blue eyes, long eyelashes, and long, gorgeious hair. Because of Pat's pretty face and long tresses, one might initially assume that Pat is a girl, but I fear that that may be the wrong assumption as Pat's daddy also has long hair, and it could very well be a case of like father, like son.

The other piece of confusion is that Pat is always mysteriously dressed in unisex clothing. I keep looking for some kind of clue to gender identification like a large dump truck on a T-shirt or some kind of "Daddy's Little Princess" logo, but I get nothing time and again. Just jeans and a brown jacket with slip-on canvas shoes.

In an attempt to get to the bottom of this mystery, I observed Pat at play and tried to eavesdrop on the conversation Pat was having with other children and parents. Once I heard another mom refer to Pat as she, saying to her son, "Dave, it looks like she wants to slide down the slide with you." I watched to see if Pat's dad would correct her, but noticed he hadn't heard her.

When Pat came over to join Finny at the steering wheel, I gently probed, "Well, hello, what's your name?" This tactic is courtesy of Dana Carvey on SNL when he asked Pat the name of his/her partner, to which Pat replied, "Terry."

My little friend Pat at the playground replied, "Grassi." Now, either Grassi is Pat's true name and it is some kind of symbolic, ethnic or family name which is meant to throw me off his/her trail or Grassi can't speak clearly or I can't hear clearly. Whatever the case may be, I got nothing from that line of questioning.

Despite my attempts at deciphering this playground puzzle, I left frustrated and floundering.

After discussing is with David, he said, "So, are you saying this little boy is supposed to wear short hair or this little girl is supposed to wear pink just so that you aren't put in an awkward situation on the playground?"

Yes, that's exactly what I'm saying.

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against long hair on men. We just recently watched Braveheart and Mel Gibson was a sight of hunky hunkiness with his long, frizzy hair. Even with tiny braids and a kilt, he was, hands down, the manliest man on the planet.

And I'm totally cool with women who wear jeans and brown coats. I'm one of them, in fact.

But when it comes to little kiddos, it'd be helpful to have a few gender indicators--hair bows, skirts, dump trucks, trains. Something. I'm just trying to be polite. Cut a sister a break.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Dah Dah

Dah dah is a popular guy in these parts. Not sure what it is about him. Might be that goofy smile, that gruff I'm-about-to-tickle-the-heck-out-of-you voice, or his contagious high pitch, ever-present giggle. Whatever it is, he's a pretty big hit, that's for sure.

It could be the way he looks at Finny and shakes his head saying, "Knowshon Moreno" over and over again. Finny has no concept of who Knowshon or the Broncos are, but he shakes his head right back nonetheless, his eyes moving back and forth in a goofy kind of just learning how to shake his head sort of way.

Then again maybe it's the way he calls Finny "Melky Cabrera" in the Melky Cabrera voice when Finny has a milk goatee that really makes him so popular.

One thing's for sure, Finny waits for Dah dah. Day and night he waits as if anticipating the arrival of Santa home from the office.

In the morning if we are eating breakfast when we hear Dah dah's footsteps on the stairs, Finny chucks his milk cup across the room and starts flinging eggs and kicking his legs watching the door with duck mouth in full bloom until the moment Dah dah crosses the threshold into the kitchen with his own duck mouth in full bloom.

If we are playing on the floor when he hears the first footsteps, he takes off pounding his knees across the hardwood to meet Dah dah at the bottom of the stairs.

Maybe Finny knows that Dah dah would sit and hold him in the middle of the night when he was a fussy infant to try to get him to sleep comfortably. Maybe Finny knows that it took Dah dah a while to learn that it was not okay to wake him up just simply because he wanted to play. Or maybe Finny knows that Dah dah kicks his legs the whole ride home pounding the gas pedal to get home and meet Finny on the family room rug and shower him with kisses and thigh tickles.

I'm pretty sure Finny loves Mommy, I mean he's dropped a few hints here and there, but at thirteen months old, he doesn't have a name for me. He will, however, look right at David as he walks into the room, and with lots of tongue and teeth shout, "Dah dah!"

If Finny could figure out how to say it, he would call Dah dah on the phone today (he could tell him in person, but he will do anything for a chance to use the phone) and say, "Happy Birthday, Dah dah! I'm so lucky to have you as my Daddy."

But then again, sometimes words just don't do it justice. The giggling, the milk chucking, the knee pounding, the complete, utter adoration expressed with tiny baby squeals--those are more delicious than words.

We love you, Dah dah. Happy Birthday.

Monday, November 9, 2009


* NOTE: Some have complained that they couldn't figure out how to leave a post without having a Google account. I figured out how to change this setting so that anyone, Google account or no, should be able to leave a comment on the blog. Let me know if you have any trouble.

Sunday As It Should Be

A Sunday at home. We slept in, ate French Toast, rolled around on the carpet and knocked down blocks.

We swang on the swings, picnicked in the park and took a walk in the fall gardens of Ault Park.

We napped. We drank tea and read. We grocery shopped. We drank beer and watched football.

We raked leaves. We giggled. We had a family dinner. We did chores, relaxed, and went to bed.

We had a perfect Sunday of doing things we didn't "have" to do. We slowed down and enjoyed being a family. It was lovely.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Separation of Church and Finny

It all begins relatively smoothly. Initially, there is just an overwhelming sense of awe as we walk in the door. The stained glass, the pink ceiling, the man in the white robe with the green scarf, the smooth wooden benches, and the singing, oh yeah the singing! There are so many people and the books with all the pages and the lights, all the lights! Then, the man in the robe with the big scarf talks and everyone gets quiet.

Everyone but Finny.

We get through the gathering song and then the screaming begins. It is not screaming out of fear or anger; it is screaming for the pure joy of screaming. So the pacifier goes in. And then the pacifier comes out, tossed as if this dear friend actually means nothing to him, onto the dusty church tiles. It is retrieved, gently dusted off on a pant leg and put back in only to be tossed once again at the back of the woman in front of us. It is even more gently retrieved and put away.

Out come the Teddy Grahams and in, in, in they go. And even though he now has five in his mouth, he reaches for more--must have one in each hand, one on his pant leg, one dismembered across the front of his sweater and five in his mouth. And then there are none. SCREAM!

We are through the first reading. Ask Mom what it was about. "Something about a widow."

Out comes the juice to wash down the Teddy Grahams and slurp, slurp, slurp, toss underneath the pew in front of us.

Out come the toys. One in each hand. Toss. Toss. Thrash. Thrash. Pull. Pull. SCREAM! SCREAM!

To the back of the church we go. The second reading begins. Finny gets down, grabs my fingers and walks, walks, walks back and forth in the back of the church. Gets down to crawl--escapes! Heads for the table of candles lit for loved ones--oh, to pull myself up and touch all that wonderful light! Captured. SCREAM! Thrash, thrash, thrash. Down again and walking with Mom. Sees Jesus. Makes a mad dash for Him. Wants to pull himself up on the crossed, nailed feet of Jesus. So does Mom.

We are through the second reading. Ask Mom what it's about, "Something about Jesus."

The gospel begins. We are now standing behind the glass windowed doors in the space between the church doors and the doors to the parking lot, but at least there are speakers here and we can hear the gospel. Finny bangs on the shiny glass windows and SCREAMS like Dustin Hoffman from The Graduate.

We go outside. Ask Mom what the gospel was about, "I don't know, DAMNIT!"

We stand outside and Mom prays silently for forgiveness for cussing in her head in church.

Going to church with a one-year-old is an act of futility. I leave exhausted, wondering why I came. We spent the car ride home brainstorming ways to keep both Finny and church in our lives. We are open to suggestions.