Monday, August 29, 2005

Baby frustration

Two nights ago I got my first taste of parenting a child with emotions (beyond “I’m crying because I’m hungry or wet”). I had given Jonathan a page of a magazine to play with, because he always wants to “read” what I’m reading. He was happily playing with it, but I realized that he was getting it more successfully in his mouth than I wanted him to, and as it got soggy tiny pieces were in danger of going completely in. So I took it away from him and replaced it with a new toy…only he didn’t want the new toy. He wanted the soggy paper, and he was extremely unhappy about having it taken away. This is the first time he’s registered a frustration complaint in such a way…and I felt like I was dealing with a small child instead of just a baby. The baby doesn’t really notice a replacement – in fact doesn’t really notice that something just got taken away. Jonathan decidedly noticed, and made his feelings on the subject quite well known.

I’m not sure if I’m excited to see him develop and grow, or sad to see my tiny baby disappear, or worried that this is the mini-precursor to toddler temper tantrums. Maybe all three.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

We're back!

It’s been awhile since I last posted because we’ve been on vacation. Actually, we’ve been on a trip…I’m not quite sure it felt like vacation. :) We spent 11 days driving up to Elko, NV to see Steve, then across to Northern California to see my family, and then up to Toledo, OR to see Gabe’s extended family. I’m so glad we got to do it all, but it was exhausting. I think having a baby along made it more so than it would have been…the first few nights especially were pretty tough, as Jonathan had slept in the car most of the day and so didn’t feel the need to sleep at night. Thankfully it didn’t stay that way through the whole trip!

Poor kid, it’s hard enough for me (as an adult!) to handle 12 hours in the car. Jonathan just couldn’t understand why he had to be in the horrible car seat so much! He was fine in the mornings, especially when we left really early before he was really awake. But afternoons were awful unless we could get him to go to sleep. Gabe and I sang so many songs, and let Jonathan suck on our fingers, and shushed and sang some more and played Pat-a-cake until we couldn’t see straight. And when all else failed we gave up and stopped the car and took him out – which immediately made the world a brighter place until we put him back in.

The days we weren’t driving were lots of fun, though. It was great to see Steve, especially since it seems like most of our efforts to get together with him get thwarted one way or the other! We went hiking in the mountains, with Jonathan in the sling on Gabe’s hip and the diaper bag slung over my shoulder. It was absolutely beautiful, and lots of fun on the way up. The way down wasn’t so great, because I got what I think is altitude sickness, and wasn’t quite sure I was going to make it back down! A dizzy head and shaky knees on a narrow trail on the side of a mountain just aren’t the best. But Gabe and Steve were very sweet and I leaned on Gabe’s arm and made it down ok. I think I’ll stay a tad below 9700 feet in the future. :)

We also went out to see the ranch that Steve’s parents own. It’s a Christian camp out in the absolute middle of nowhere. No kidding…they can’t even get electricity because the closest power lines are 16 miles away. You have to drive for over half an hour on a dirt road just to get there, and that’s after driving the first half hour on a windy paved road through what you think is the middle of nowhere. Nevada is a crazy state.

The time with my family was great. Gabe and I left Jonathan with Mom (who loves being Grandmommy!) and went to the river to have lunch and put our feet in. It was a lot of fun to re-live the memories of when we first went there together, the summer before we got engaged. We also went to Nevada City to wander around town and visit a really cool bookstore. We spent lots of money we shouldn’t have on books, and then topped it off with ice cream on the way back to the car.

We also got to show off our son to his great-grandparents, which was really cool. Grandpa actually held Jonathan for more than a few seconds, which is rather amazing. It’s been the family joke ever since I was born that Grandpa holds the baby for a few seconds, just long enough to look terrified for the picture, and then give him/her back as quickly as possible. But he seems to have relaxed a bit, because he held Jonathan without any visible nerves or trouble at all. We have some great pictures.

Driving through Oregon was an amazing experience. I have never been in such a breathtakingly beautiful place. I kept pointing out the window and saying “look, Gabe, I want to live there.” And then a few minutes later “oh look, I want to live there!” After listening to this for the entire trip, Gabe finally turned to me and said with some exasperation, “Emily, you’ve pointed out thirty places that you want to live!” Actually, I think it was probably a lot more than thirty…at least I’d be easy to please up there, right?

My very favorite was a lovely large farmhouse, dark brown, set far enough back in the trees that you could only just see it from the road. There was a meadow beside the house, surrounded by trees, and a creek running alongside. It looked like the perfect place to raise children…just think of the fun and learning that could happen with a meadow to pasture goats and maybe a horse in, and a creek to wade in and catch tadpoles and minnows, and trees to climb and, and, and! When I picture my daydream family and home, it is in a place like that: homeschooling, teaching my children to love the outdoors and never feel the need for TV, helping them learn responsibility and compassion by taking care of animals, running around playing hide and seek in the trees.

Ok, back from my dreaming. It was nice to get a chance to meet some of Gabe’s extended family members. I guess technically I’d met them before, because they came to our wedding, but I don’t really remember them. Now I have a much better grasp of who Uncle Dave actually is. :) Grandma Moothart was a wonderfully caring and yet laid back hostess, and she was thrilled to get to meet Jonathan. She gave us a cute set of clothes that fit Jonathan perfectly, and had last been worn by Dad Moothart! We had fun meals in her home and at area restaurants, went walking on the beach (they have sand dunes!) and picked blackberries in the yard. Grandma even made us a blackberry pie!

The drive home was tough, I think particularly because it was the end and we were so tired and I just desperately wanted to be home. I enjoyed all the people on the trip, but after so many days all I wanted was my own house and peace and quiet and the chance to try to re-create some semblance of a schedule for Jonathan. But as long drives go, it really wasn’t too bad. Jonathan slept for much of the two days, and still slept at night without too much trouble, and we spent the night between the long driving days at my parents home again, which was nice. Poor Mom – she didn’t want to give Jonathan up!

Speaking of Mom, she was wonderful with Jonathan and wonderful to Gabe and I. We really got a huge break when we were there, because she just sort of took over and held him a lot. Even when he cried, Mom was right there ready to take him (even in the middle of the night!) It was sort of strange not be the one who always needed to hold him when he cried…I felt a bit displaced for awhile because I didn’t know quite how to be “mom” when Grandma was around! But that only lasted a short time, and then I settled in to enjoy the fact that it wasn’t all on my shoulders for a bit. It was definitely nice.

Before I forget: Jonathan learned how to roll over while we were up in Oregon! He succeeded in rolling from back to tummy, and also from tummy to back. Unfortunately, now that he’s home and back in his big cloth diapers, he doesn’t seem to be able to do it anymore. The diapers seem to be just too much weight and unwieldy bulk to allow him to move as easily as he did in the disposables we used on the trip. But now at least we (and he!) know that he can do it – maybe it’ll just take a bit more time to gain the strength necessary to do it with the diaper.

Jonathan is also laughing now. Not the half-way chuckle of before, but a full-on laugh. And he finds the funniest things funny! Tonight Gabe was trying to get him to roll over, and so he demonstrated it for him by flopping over from his back to his stomach beside Jonathan. For some reason this was the funniest thing Jonathan had ever seen…he laughed every time Gabe did it.

My baby’s laugh is the most wonderful sound in the world. I hope he does it more and more often.

Ok, it’s past my bedtime and I’m exhausted. I’ll blog more later when I can think straight again.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005


Jonathan is nursing about once every four hours in the day, and about every five or six hours at night. "Hurrah", you say, "that's great," you say. And when I was nursing every two hours I thought I would agree with you...

I miss getting to nurse him more often. It's a kind of closeness that just isn't duplicated in any other activity. It's the time when he looks up at me with utter contentment and trust in his wide eyes, and I can focus on him and love him and stroke his cheek and cuddle his tiny body as it relaxes against mine. It's totally different from holding him other times during the day.

Nursing less often really brings home the reality that little babies grow up incredibly fast. It's a little scary how fast - I almost want to say "slow down, wait, I'm not done with you at this stage, yet!" And yet I rejoice in all his new accomplishments as well...

Speaking of which, last night I got to watch as he discovered what cold glass feels like. I was lying on the bed with him, having just finished nursing, and Gabe had brought me a glass of cold water. Jonathan was intrigued by the blue color of the glass, I think, and reached out for it. The wonder in his face as he touched, and smiled, and touched again, was incredible.

I think I really like babies. I guess I'll just have to have a lot of them. :)

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Public transportation

I’ve decided that I don’t like Whittier public transportation.

I spent the morning and early afternoon doing a practice run on the bus routes that I’ll need to take to get to work at the Gorman Learning Center this year. It was not a pleasant experience. Of the four buses I took, three were either Montebello or Foothill Transit buses, and of those three, all the drivers were unkind.** I got the impression that young moms with babies were the worst kind of second-class citizen, at least in the drivers’ minds. They made me feel like they’d much rather I jumped in the lake rather than get on their bus. The first one actually didn’t want to let me on with my stroller, even though it folds in half to take up less space. What did he want me to do, leave it there at the bus stop? I insisted, and he wasn’t pleased with me at all. The second driver informed me three times while I was paying and going to a seat that I had to fold up the stroller. Nevermind that I’d already smiled and said “yes, of course”. And the third one just gave me a dirty look in response to a smile, and only grunted when I got off and said “thank you.” For heaven’s sake, these people give the impression that they wish all humans would disappear. I bet the rapture could happen and they’d enjoy being left behind.

I could understand better if Jonathan had been screaming when we got on. But he never did. He was perfectly quiet and smiling and happy for the entire trip, every time.

It’s going to be a long year riding buses with these people.

** (In fairness, the Norwalk Transit bus I took had a delightful driver who smiled and offered to help me get the stroller on the bus.)

Friday, August 05, 2005

So much to learn!

Jonathan is learning and changing so fast now I can hardly keep up with it. It seems like sometimes he learns something overnight…one day he can’t do it, and the next he can. I am continually amazed.

This morning he giggled for the first time. It was a real laugh…not the “heh” that he’s done before a few times, but a real one. It’s a charming sound and I hope that he’ll grace our house with it often.

He’s much better at using his hands now. He’s very actively working on the idea of opening and shutting his fingers in order to hold onto and grab at things. It’s very intentional…the other night I was reading a magazine, and he reached for it, dragging his fingers across it multiple times until he succeeded in getting the edge, and then he closed his fist and pulled. He definitely knows what he needs to do, and he’s working hard to do it!

About a week ago, Jonathan pretty much stopped talking. He would make sounds when he was crying, but almost completely stopped making his talking, happy sounds. I missed them! But all of a sudden yesterday he started again…and he has about ten times as many sounds as he used to! He uses more vowel sounds, much more intonation, and has also discovered that he can use sounds (other than crying) to communicate unhappiness. My last two days have been very full of “conversations” with him.

I wonder if perhaps he’s starting to have some separation anxiety. For about a week now, he has wanted to be held pretty much 100% of the time. It’s been really difficult to get anything done, especially because for a few days I had a hard time even putting him down to sleep…he’d wake up as soon as I took him out of the sling. It’s not quite like that now, but I can’t put him in the swing unless I’m working right at the table next to him. If I walk into the kitchen where he can’t see me, he’ll cry. So now I put him in the stroller and just take him with me into whatever room I need to work in. I’m glad that it works, because it’s really tiring to wear him 90% of the day.

Yesterday was a big day for him: he went swimming and got his first taste of watermelon. :) Mom’s group was at the Reynold’s swimming pool, and Kat brought treats (watermelon and healthy cupcakes) because it was Elisa’s birthday party too. All the kiddies were playing in the water (and having a marvelous time doing it!) I borrowed a swimmy diaper from Jessica, and took Jonathan in too. I wasn’t sure how he’d handle it, since he didn’t seem to like his feet dipped in when I’d done that before…but he did really well! I just held him really close to me, and talked to him the whole time, and by the time I took him out he’d smiled a few times and seemed to be enjoying it. I have a swimmy diaper on order for him, and when it comes, I think we’ll go swimming often in the complex pool. I really enjoyed it, and from the grins on the faces of the other kids, I think that with some more practice Jonathan will grow to love it too.

Anyway, after we got out, we were eating cupcakes and watermelon, and I brushed the watermelon up against Jonathan’s mouth so he could taste it. He looked sort of confused for a minute, and pushed his tongue out a bit, but then he realized that it tasted good, and he shoved his face up against it and started sucking away. It was terribly cute, and I’m glad Jenn had her camera handy.

Ok, so that’s a lot of update on Jonathan. Now for an update on Mommy…I could use some prayer for healing. My shoulders have been giving me quite a bit of problem for some weeks now, especially the right one. I figured it was just overwork because Jonathan was getting big so fast, but they’ve been getting worse – my right arm and hand have started going numb on occasion, and I can’t do a few moves in karate with that arm. So I went to a chiropractor yesterday, to see if he had any suggestions. It turns out that I have some minor tears in the shoulder muscle, and he thinks there is also a small tear in the rotator cuff. Thankfully, they are all minor enough that they will mostly heal themselves. He gave me a few stretching exercises to do, said to try to alternate the arm that I use to hold Jonathan, and said definitely to keep swimming and doing karate, albeit carefully. After we get back from our vacation, I’m going to go back for appointments for a few weeks…he says he thinks it will probably be fixed in six weekly appointments. So we’ll see. But in the meantime, it’s getting more and more painful to hold Jonathan…it hurt pretty severely today when I was trying to lift him into the sling. So if you could, please pray that the tears wouldn’t get worse, and that holding Jonathan would not be so painful. Thanks, friends. :)

Monday, August 01, 2005

One week shy of four months...

and Jonathan has decided it is time to learn how to roll over. Currently he can throw his shoulder into it and roll most of his upper torso over, but his rather large diapered bottom can't quite follow. :) Soon, perhaps!