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So sorry for being so MIA.  Like Jack, I really haven’t been myself lately—more on that next week.  My last day of work is next Wednesday.  It’s bittersweet.  Onward and upward.  Speaking of which, have you met my 1 year old?

My sweet, sweet little boy.  How did you get so big so damn fast?

These days, I’m completely exhausted.  I’m tired from wiping snot, exhausted from chasing this boy, doing dishes by hand, picking up wooden blocks, chasing this boy and fishing random objects out of his mouth.  I’m sure there’s more, but I’m too tired to think.

Oh dear God.  This child is into everything.  Anything that was of importance, uh, is no longer important.  He continues to destroy everything.  This weekend, we discovered that our DVD player is no longer working, and it has our WI trip slideshow in it!  Yeah.  Guess whose little fingers like to poke at the DVD player? uh huh.

When he’s not breaking electronic equipment, Jack can be found climbing furniture and TOYS.  Note to self:  leave all plastic toys that double as ladders at mom’s house in VIRGINIA.  Together with the climbing, he is walking– yay!  As of early last week, Jack’s been walking about 85-90% of the time.  He showed off a few of his skills for family and friends when we were back home, but now he’s really on the go.  He gets a big kick out of it when we cheer and clap once he’s made his destination.  He totally “gets” the whole walking thing!

Now that Jack is officially everywhere, he’s also become extremely conversational and sociable as well. No real words, just made up ones.   When I call for him, he’ll try to say his name (DDDDaaat!) or just lots of mamamamama right back at me.  When we read, his “words” are much MUCH louder than mine nowadays.  His signing has really flourished.  More, eat, drink, book, dog, hot, sleep and thank you are the main signs that we use for now.  It was so cool when he finally grasped the signing and would tell us what he needed without us even initiating.  Jeff said, the other day while I was out shopping, Jack was in mid-play then crawled over to him, signed sleepy and curled up on his daddy’s shoulder.  Too cute.
12 Months
Jack’s social skills are flourishing so much more now, too.  He flirts and tries to befriend kids of all ages every chance he gets.  Last Sunday, he freaked out the poor little girl behind us because he was trying to touch her hand to make nice. haha.  I definitely attribute his friendliness and outgoing nature, not only to family, but to the great teachers at his daycare.  He loves the other kids and teachers, it’ll be sad to say goodbye for now.

Jack’s size has pretty much stayed the same from last month.  He’s mainly in 24m, but still wears some 18m clothes.   The belly never seems to fit–poor guy.  He’s still in size 4 diapers, and I assume he’ll stay in that size for a few more months.  He’s still heavy, teetering in the high 20s.  We missed his 12m appointment, so we’ll have to update those stats.

The boy likes to eat, but it has to be timely.  If we get home too late from daycare, he pitches a fit and goes on strike.  He eats any and everything, with pizza, pasta, chicken, mango, bananas and peas as his faves.  We just started giving him juice a few weeks ago, but milk and water are still #1.  We have yet to switch over to cow’s milk at our dr’s suggestion.  Jack’s still trying to fight off that upper respiratory infection, so until he does, we were told not to change his diet too drastically.

Separation anxiety is big right now: he’s still a mama’s boy and loses his mind when I leave the room. He started with the toddler tantrums a few weeks ago. It’s so hard and frustrating, but signing has really helped us out. I heart baby signing.

In spite of the meltdowns (from both him and me)  Jack is such a handsome, active, lovey and bubbly little dude.  Those little boy hugs remind me how much I LOVE love LOVE being a mom.  Now that I’m closing one chapter and Jeff and I are both embarking on our own separate and new(ish) professional journeys (new responsibilities for him and freelance for me), it’s only fitting that it coincides with another year of Jack’s growth.

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On Friday, Jack had his 6m well baby visit. He had 3 more shots and according to the dr., he’s progressing well. He weighed in at 21 lbs., putting him in the 95th percentile and measured 28 in., which also puts him in the 90-something percentile. Anyway, we got the nod to continue onto solids and all that fun stuff. Jack’s skin still flares up here and there. So, we have to keep a close eye on the foods that we introduce, as well as what I eat. For now, there are no consistencies with the rash, other than it being around his neck rolls. (sorry to air your business about your neck rolls, kid.)

eating the paperJust like last time, Jack loved the sound of the paper on the examining table. Except this time, he felt compelled to eat the paper. After trying to grab the paper from him (and proceeding to change the paper so we didn’t look like the crazy family) he finally simmered when he heard babies crying and babbling in the surrounding rooms. He looked concerned for the crying babies, and wanted to look to find those babbles.

Just as an observation- his growth, as expected, has tapered, even though his “bigger” size is likened to that of an “average” 1 year old. It’s not meant to be this way, but it sounds pretentious to say stuff like, my kid is “bigger” and to equate him to an average 1 year old. I’m just regurgitating what we were told (and sharing it for those family and friends who care about such details.)

However, I find it interesting how total strangers like to comment on how “big” he is when we’re at stores and such. Even the pediatrician didn’t believe we were there for a 6 month well baby visit. Interestingly enough, my friend at work has a cousin who had a boy on the same exact day as Jack. He, too, weighs just about 22 lbs. and is a healthy chunk. I love it! We’re all fat and happy.

Six months ago, I was miserable and swollen with anxiety. Six months later, I’m swollen with pride but still miserable*

We’ve come so far in just six months. Every night Jeff and I hover over the boy and cheesily whisper to each other, “can you believe he’s ours?”

To answer that rhetorical statement, no, I can’t. I still can’t believe we’re responsible for this funny little guy.

And you know what? So far, so good.

jack6m1.jpg
I think.

There have been many nights over the past 6 months where I was mentally packing my bags and searching for the keys to drive myself to the loony bin. The breastfeeding, the mom constantly in my face, other relatives making judgments, the working mom juggling act, squeezing in some time for friends, finding the composure to still be a wife and searching for my professional higher ground– this motherhood stuff is no joke.

And Jeff is already naming the rest of the litter. HAHAHAHA.

It’s no wonder why I enjoy vodka so much.

And then, as quick as I envision myself en route to the crazy house, our sweet boy grabs my face with his chubby arms, pulls me close and plants an open mouth drooly kiss and emits a faint noise—an inaudible version of “mwah.”

Mwah!

That’s all it takes.

I haven’t had a good night’s sleep since the summer time. I have scars from PUPPPs, reminders of my first few months as a very hormonal new mom. My guilty pleasure, bargain shopping, doesn’t produce bags full of clothes for me any more. Now, it’s bags full of diapers and butt cream for the boy.

Without a doubt, motherhood suits me more than I ever thought it would. It’s been a fun first 6 months.
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I read this article this morning and it reminded me so much of an ongoing debate with my own mom.

Phrases like, “Well, I did xyz with you and you turned out fine…” “That’s how we did it when you were a baby…” are commonplace in our abode these days. More often than not, I try to dodge my mom’s comments, not out disrespect, but to avoid the head-butting with my mom on modern childrearing practices.

It’s a slippery slope having my mom around and being such an active part of our childrearing. It’s one aspect of this journey where we consider ourselves extremely lucky, but it goes without saying that we “pay” in many different ways. We often combat cultural conflicts amidst all the other interesting scenarios, which to me, is the most torturous trivial.

In almost all cases, yes, my mother knows best.

In cases where my kid is concerned, I’m trying my damnedest to learn what’s best.
Without sounding like a self-righteous a-hole, I have to tread lightly and remind my mom that it’s not the 70s.

According to Dr. Sears,

many practices that were common three decades ago are now known– and proven– to be unhealthy, maybe even dangerous to an infant.

If I did everything my mom told me I should do, I’d be feeding him water regularly instead of breastfeeding on demand, putting him asleep on his belly, starting him on solids (in the bottle) at 3 weeks old, exercising his nose daily (?!), keeping him indoors until May and gnawing on an eggroll. (just kidding about that last one)

While these aren’t necessarily bad, they’re not things that we want to do. Just like all the opinion-givers, my mom means well. What’s proven to be difficult is explaining this to someone who has many more years aboard the mothership– just a different fleet.

People, I have never claimed to be a purveyor of all things baby. In fact, I have no clue what I’m doing most of the time. What I’m learning through this process is to trust my maternal instincts and follow up with a little reading.

Where my kid is concerned, I can’t wing it. At the very least, I owe it to my kid to do my homework.

I’m glad I trusted my instinct and was so relieved when I read this:

There is no exact science to introducing solids. Just do your best to follow your baby’s cues about when to increase the amount of solids, and take care to ensure that breastmilk remains baby’s primary source of nutrition for the first year.

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With flu season in full effect, I’m quite tempted to sequester myself from all the germies floating around at work, on the train, on the bus– actually, from every where I go. It seems like no matter where I am right now, some one is coughing, sneezing or blowing their nose. ‘Tis the season.

But as any parent knows, you do what you can to protect the little ones from contracting those germs, which includes protecting yourself.

As we sat and watched HIMYM last night, Jeff belted out an echoing bellow of a cough.

It sounded like a possible contamination.

I threw him THAT look, as if to say, where did that cough come from?

“You alright?” I asked almost sympathetically.

“Yeah. I feel myself getting sick. Everyone at work is sick.”

I peered at my raw hands from my obsessive hand/germ washing and unapologetically said, “OH HELL NO.”

As a preface, in my defense, if I get sick, more than likely, the baby gets sick. And please, let’s not discuss a sick and unmedicated Jen, nevermind the possibility of a sick baby.

Let’s not go there.

I continued my tirade, “I love you babe and hope you don’t get full-on sick, but seriously? Get yourself some Airborne, like now. I can’t get sick. If I’m sick, the baby might get sick.”

airborne.jpgSurely, there’d be worse things in the world if we were all sick. But if we could prevent a household epidemic, that’d be preferable.

As I went to check on the baby, I heard Jeff wrestling with boxes of Band-Aids and half-full bottles of prenatal vitamins in our overstuffed medicine cabinet. Once he found the Airborne, I followed him into the kitchen where I watched him plop 3 or 4 yellow tablets into a glass.

“uh? Aren’t you supposed to only take one per serving?” I wondered out loud.

“Pffft. One? That’s for ‘regular people.’ Since I’m extraordinary, I need a superhuman amount.”

mmmmmmkkkkkay.

I’m sad to report that despite the superhuman (not to mention, unrecommended) amount of Airborne he took, Jeff is, as he says, “sick as all get out.”

I’d prefer not to take Airborne myself since I’m nursing, so here’s to hoping that he feels better!

*update*  Jeff has the flu and will be out of commission for a few days.  Poor guy.   Looks like lots of crackers, ginerale and soup will be had our house! 

We received an interesting note from our insurance carrier last week. In the form of an itemized list of all the procedures, medication, room and board involved in bringing the boy into the world late last September, the insurance company reminded us of the mounting costs of having children and the insanity that is medical care.

As I said before, it’s no wonder we and many other couples make a conscious decision to prolong having children.

The phrase that I heard many times throughout my pregnancy, “You’ll never be ready to have kids” should be reworded to say, “You’ll never be ready to face the mounting costs.” Because, let me tell you, I believe more than anything, we were beyond ready for our kid. Nothing could ever prepare you for the staggering costs of healthcare.
Thank God for insurance.

Nevertheless, just as we anticipated, having Jack was our ultimate investment.

After all is said and done, the cost for bringing Jack home is in the $30-40K range.

*blink*  *blink*

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I’ve got a huge headache this morning, and unfortunately, I’m not exhausted from a weekend trip to the tropics. I had it for the duration of my long weekend after sustaining a minor mommy injury on Saturday.

The injury report goes a little something like this: On Saturday, I woke up at 5am to a wailing, hungry baby. I brought him to our bed, in hopes that I could feed him and we could sleep a few more hours.

FAT CHANCE.

In the process of positioning the hysterical and hungry baby in my sleepy haze, Jack pummeled me with his entire paw– with my eye wide open. I finished feeding him with one eye and one arm, as the other hand cupped the injured eye that was watering profusely. I couldn’t open the injured left eye, so I had to wake Jeff from his hibernating mode to help out in yet another one of my maniacal frenzies. After resting a few hours, I still could not open my eye. The eye throbbed as my head pounded with the same intensity. Since I couldn’t open the eye, I told Jeff that he should just go out and find me an eye patch with a skull on it and be done. pirate-eye-patch2.jpg

Since CVS doesn’t sell pirate paraphernalia, he brought back eyewash and eyedrops instead. Yarrrrgh. But of course, I couldn’t open the eye, so the eye wash wasn’t too effective.

So, just to make sure I didn’t have a punctured eyeball or whatever my imagination conjured up, Jeff lugged me and the baby to the ER. wheeeeee. By this time, my eye was watering even more since I was out in the sunlight. We spent quality time in the ER; me, slouched down asleep in my sunglasses, Jeff exhausted next to me, the baby in his bubble stroller (barricading the germs of the coughing nasties next to us.) I guess we arrived at the ER’s down time because I saw the dr. after a somewhat shortish wait. The dr. dropped a numbing agent in my eye so that I could actually open it and she could assess the situation. She then dropped some yellow drops in it, turned off the lights and checked out the injured eyeball with a black light magnifying glass gizmo.

Just as Jeff google-diagnosed, I had a corneal abrasion, which is the medical jargon for, you got your eye jabbed pretty hard by your 4 month old kid.

“Well that’s good.” the dr. said. “I mean, not good-good, but at least it isn’t lacerated.”

Lacerated? The baby books don’t say a damn thing about having safety goggles on hand.

Baby punch-out jokes aside, the scratch on my cornea was serious enough to warrant an Rx for Tylenol with codeine and some medicated eyedrops to ward off any nasty infections. Sleeping off the intense pain and resting my eyes on Saturday really made a big difference. I still have the lingering eye headache today, but nothing extra strength Tylenol can’t mask. (I guess a Codeine-induced nap isn’t too acceptable at work.)
And like Rachel Green, I just cannot “do” eyedrops. In fact, last night after washing my face, I went to put my eyedrops in and at least 7 drops landed on my shirt– my aim was that bad. Since I have to do the eyedrops in order to get some relief, I guess I have no choice but to try a little harder at actually getting them IN my eye.
So, while I might not actually have a black eyepatch literally in the diaper bag, with a kid whose limbs are constantly and erratically flailing, I’m totally considering it. It would sure beat another trip to the ER.

I hope you’re wearing your red today.

In case you haven’t heard, today is National Wear Red Day. It’s the day where everyone is encouraged to wear red to raise awareness in heart disease, specifically among women.

I’m sure you know someone who was affected by heart disease in one way or another. My grandma, who was very much my 2nd mom, passed in 2002 after a long battle with various ailments following a severe stroke. While she may not have succumbed to heart disease, after her passing, I made it a personal mission to become more aware about stroke and heart disease. Thus, I became an advocate for the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association.

Did you know heart disease is the number 1 killer of women?

Go RedAs ASA says, the color red and the red dress now stand for the ability all women have to improve their heart health and live stronger, longer lives. In some cases, heart disease can be prevented. Education and awareness go a long way.

Even if you missed the memo about wearing red, find out what you can do to support the cause.

P.S. Macy*s is offering a 15% discount to those that participate in National Wear Red Day.

Jeff just called me to update me about Jack’s 4-month* well baby visit since I couldn’t go. The boys had a fun bonding day, complete with dances and Tasmanian Devil action.

It turns out, our little Michael Flatley (Lord of the Dance) as we lovingly call him, is healthy and “a little advanced*” for his age. Jack weighs approximately 18.6 lbs, which puts him into the 97th percentile. At 26.5 in. (?) he’s in the 90th percentile for height and his head circumference is in the 75th percentile. The dr. recommended that we could start rice cereal within the next few weeks mixed with breastmilk but hold off on other solids for 2 months, which we intend to do. Also, he suggested that now would be the time we drop the night feeding. (YESSSSS!) Jeff said Jack got his 4 shots and besides the lip quiver and quick cry, daddy was there to make it all better.

You’re probably wondering about the Lord of the Dance reference. Jack, as expected, was pretty active for Jeff while at the dr. As I often say, Jack is constantly moving. He does not sit still. When we change him, he likes to do a jig a la Michael Flatley which makes for an interesting diaper change. A task that would take 2 seconds takes 15 minutes because we try to put an end to his dance.
Anyway, at the dr., you guessed it, Michael Flatley was in full effect in the exam room. Jeff said Jack’s Lord of the Dance routine was so intense, the paper on the table was completely destroyed before the dr. came in. Jeff said it looked like the Tasmanian Devil came in for a quick visit.

Jack was good for the dr. besides his new found ability to blow raspberries with his lips and tongue. When he wasn’t grabbing the dr’s arms, he was doing the raspberries, or rather, spitting all over him. I was practically in tears from laughter with visions of paper all over the floor and the dr. wiping his face from the baby’s raspberries.

I’m so grateful the boy is healthy and active, but if his dr visits are any indication, this kid’s going to keep us on our toes. Oh boy.
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We waited patiently in our designated exam room at Jack’s pediatrician appointment on Monday, while we watched the two doctors whizz by and visit the patients before us. As crying babies and toddlers served as the cacophonous backdrop, we shut our exam room door since Jack thought it was a good idea to chime in with his own shrilly cries.

I fed Mr. Hungry and 15 minutes later, still no dr. Not only was Jack getting impatient, but so were we since Jeff and I strapped the kid in his stroller and walked him to the dr, immediately as we got home from work. It was 7pm with no dinner, no doctor and nothing to do but wait.

After all that waiting during the dr’s office “rush hour” my attention span was shorter than a 3 year old’s. So, I picked up one of the many magazines that sat on the table next to the sink. I flipped through a coverless, tattered magazine and noticed a bunch of ads for products that caught my attention. As Jeff tried to shush the sleepy boy, I found myself buried in this particular magazine that I’d never read before. I went straight to the masthead and studied the magazine’s details, just like I always do whenever I come across an engaging publication.

I started reading an article and looked up to check and see if the door was still closed. It was. Sweet!

I closed the old magazine and hastily decided to help myself. Everyone takes magazines. I work for a magazine I thought, so I should take it for “research.” hahaha.

As I shoved the ragged magazine into the diaper bag, I looked up at Jeff and whispered, “You think it’s ok that I take this?”

He furled his brows and looked at me like I had 17 heads.
“Um. No, it’s not ok.”

I shot back, “Uh, it’s probably a comp copy anyway. I’m sure they’re just going to toss it soon. I mean, look at it.”

“Well, did you PAY for it?”
He didn’t even give me a chance to bitch back before he justified himself even more.
“So, NO, it’s NOT ok that you take it.”

In a very entitled and Tony Soprano-esque way, I put the stupid magazine back on the table and pouted in the corner, not because I couldn’t take the magazine, but because I knew I was wrong.

(There, I said it. I’m wrong A LOT and this whole admitting my wrong-doing is a whole new thing for me.)

If I learned anything from watching the Sopranos, it was to not steal magazines from the dr’s office. Clearly, mommy was not the moral compass that night, but I wanted that damn magazine! hahaha.