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HUG

8 Jun

Whine: When I went get Brother Bear out of bed this morning, he sulked at me and shouted, “NO! Daddy do it.”

Cheese: I said, “Fine” and walked away knowing his Daddy was already gone for the day. Joke’s on you, Mr. Crabbypants.

 

<em>Hug</em> [Book]

Brother Bear has this book called ‘HUG’ by Jez Alborough.

On the third  page (are they still considered pages if they’re made of cardboard?), the little monkey Bobo is sad. I always stop at this point in the story and ask Brother Bear why Bobo is sad. And he always says, in a very sympathetic and soft voice, “He’s sad. He wants his Mommy.” (In fact, he says that in every story when a character is sad. It’s a universal problem, really.)

As Bobo continues to walk through the jungle he sees all the other animals hugging their Mommies and he gets sadder and sadder. Until he hears someone shouting his name from above. He looks up and sees (Spoiler Alert!) his Mommy. He shouts her name, runs to her and he gets a big hug.

The last page is my favorite, it shows Mommy and Bobo walking away holding hands. She says “Bobo” and he says “Mommy”. I always use the last page as an excuse to sneak a big hug.

Only this last time when we read it, it went a bit differently. When I asked Brother Bear to name the characters on the last page I pointed to the small monkey and Brother Bear said, “That’s Bobo” and then I pointed to the larger one and he said, “That’s Daddy.”

He said it with just the tiniest hint of rebellion. As if he knew he was rewriting a much larger script than the one glued to the backside of a cardboard book. I tried to argue with him, but he remained committed.

Things around here, they are a’changing.

Bye, Bye, Baby Boy

Now instead of snuggling we play cars. In fact, he’ll come find me and say, “Mommy! Play cars!” And I have no choice but to obediently follow him to his room so we can fill up all the cars with gas, then race them down the Fisher Price ramp and back up the green elevator with the bell. And while we play I listen to him chatter about all the cars and if I listen really hard he sometimes tells me things about what’s going on in his brain. Which is super cute, I just wish his brain could tell me why he smells so bad all the time.

Yesterday while we were playing cars, he toppled over and bonked his head. He immediately threw himself into my arms for about a half a second. Then he jumped back up and rubbed his head. I said, “Do you want Mommy to kiss it?” He shook his head no, rubbed the spot a little more and said, “All better.”

That sound you hear? That’s the sound of my heart breaking.

The shirt seems redundant at this point.

But a few minutes later when a teetering tower of blocks knocked me on the hand, I pulled it back and said “Ouch.” He reached over, grabbed my hand and gave it the most tender little kiss.

Gah. I think I’m going to need a hug.

 

*hug*

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I’ve Got the Joy

15 Sep

Whine: I have been very successful in getting myself to bed earlier in the last few weeks. Unfortunately this is not the same as going to sleep earlier. Not at all. Lying in bed awake for hours at a time does not quite give you the same restful feeling as it would if you could actually convince your brain to go to shut the heck up and go to sleep.

Cheese: I am a lot better rested than I was six years ago today, as I had been up for two straight days trying to convince Big Sis that she really did want to enter the world and not stay in utero forever.

I remember waddling into the tiny, cramped room with Mr. Dad at my side. I remember oofing myself up onto the naugahyde exam table. I remember the cold feeling as the sonogram tech prepped my belly. I remember crying softly as she said, “It’s a girl.”

The first thing we did before we even finished the appointment was choose our firstborn’s middle name. It would be four more months and a melodramatic delivery room monologue (you’d be amazed how persuasive one can be mid-labor) before I we picked a first name. But from those first minutes of knowing we were having a daughter, we both knew one thing. We were filled with Joy.

And Joy she is and has been.

Kisses from an adoring Brother Bear.

Don’t get me wrong, she has her moments of unjoy. In fact, it’s her extreme happiness when things excite her (like a cardboard box or the number 10) that makes her extreme displeasure (having to stop what she’s doing to eat dinner or getting a pink balloon instead of a red one) so difficult to bear.

See what I mean?

She is also a tiny bit of a crazy person. I often come into the room and notice that she has hung necklaces from the ceiling fan. Or tied all the pull-toys in the nursery together to make a parade (those knots are a booger to undo). Or she tells me from behind the shower curtain as she takes a bath “Mommy, wait, I have a surprise for you.” then proceeds to drench me with bathwater and laugh maniacally while I scowl like a drowned cat. And as much at those moments as I might want to sigh violently and wonder when school starts, I love that crafty little brain of hers.

This pretty much sums her up. A dainty ironman ready to (gently) kick some butt.

School finally did start for her last week. My baby’s in kindergarten.

I wasn’t sure how this would all play out for me because Big Sis is doing a 3-day program at the same school she’s been going to for preschool. So in reality kindergarten is no different for us in location or schedule than it was last year.

But my first clue to my fragile emotional state was the night before the big day when I couldn’t get my First Day of Kindergarten sign printed which was all Mr. Dad’s fault, of course, (I mean, not technically, but still) and I wasn’t going to be able to appropriately capture her fist day and have it on film forever and I started sobbing hysterically and couldn’t stop. Then when  my sister-in-law swooped with my precious sign after a late-night trip to Kinkos and I could barely get the ‘Thank you’ out of my mouth before I was sobbing again, I knew we were in trouble.

Drop off the next day went fine. I managed to keep all the crazy inside and get my little sweetie shuffled into the waiting arms of her new teacher. I made it out of the building and headed to work. Where I did no work. Unless having a four-hour case of cry hiccups and sobbing your way through staff meeting counts as work. Which, since I work at a church, it kind of does.

This makes you cry, too, right?

Big Sis is rocking Kindergarten. She’s joined a soccer team because (her words) “I am really good at soccer.” She makes her own turkey sandwiches and (her words) “Saved Brother Bear’s life the other day.” She has started reading and writing–even sometimes on paper–and she can add and make patterns. I don’t know how, but we’ve seemed to fast forward  from the day (yesterday, right?) when we were teaching her that a cow says “moo”. But then again, it seems like she’s been a part of our life forever because I can’t really remember what it was like without her.

Sweetness

And we have our moments. Moments when one or both of us is frustrated that things did not go according to plan. Times when we both want to call the shots. But that’s mostly because, as Mr. Dad likes to point out as we’re locking horns over the correct way to frost a cupcake, she’s my little me (only smarter and way cuter).

She is my little light. Generous and kind, she runs to welcome her friends with a pair of open (sometimes suffocating) arms. She mother-hens her brother and younger cousins. She often shares her top bunk with Lil’ Sis as they giggle into bedtime. She reminds me to be content with what I have “Mom, don’t be jealous of Aunt A, it’s ok that she has a bigger bathtub”. She’s the one that has given me my dream job. And in a few years when we are locking horns over trigonometry homework or the appropriate length of a skirt (ankle, right?), I want to remember just how grateful I am for this joy she’s given me down in my heart.

We both look shockingly young, don't we?

 

Choose Your Own Adventure

5 Aug

Whine: I heard Lil’ Sis crying in the other room alongside Big Sis’ cajoling whispers. I discovered Lil’ zipped into a carry-on suitcase, head downward as Big Sis dragged her around the room.

Cheese: All we needed was a bigger suitcase.

Do you think I could get this "luggage" past security? PS Big Sis is IN the suitcase.

 

 

 

On our 11th anniversary, Mr. Dad and I decided to get fancy. We threw three kids and everything we owned into our minivan and started leg #1 of what would eventually be a 40-hour road trip. We exchanged a quick smooch on our way out the door, muttered a somewhat sarcastic “Happy Anniversary” then hunkered down for the start of our 2,500 mile “vacation.”

But just as we were about to leave, he handed me two small strips of paper. Homemade tickets for a getaway weekend in the near future. So last weekend we dropped our kids on Kiki’s doorstep and got the heck out of Dodge. We spent a day at Schlitterbahn because what’s more fun than hanging out with thousands of people in their swimming suits? We spent the remainder of the weekend eating our way through Austin, TX.

I could talk for days about our little trip. How Mr. Dad saved cash in the back of his top drawer for months to pay for it. How we waited in line for a water slide for almost three hours and didn’t really care that much because we liked the company (well, except for the nicotine addict in front of us who got a little jumpy around Hour 2). How weird it was to finish an actual sentence without being interrupted, jumped on, or distracted by my lovely but attention-starved progeny.

The theme of our weekend was adventure. We ate tacos from a street vendor. Drank milkshakes with a little kick. Rode an uphill waterslide. Went dancing on 4th St (6th St. was a little too undergraduate for us.) Walked through IKEA (which is WAY on the wild side for me). Wandered around the Texas Capitol. I wore my hair wavy, for crying out loud.

We look well-rested, don't we?

Something about those three days reminded me of the days that seem several lifetimes ago. The days when Mr. Dad and I were just a couple of kids hanging out at the movie theater doing goofy stuff and trying to dig popcorn out of our retainers. The days when my biggest concern revolved around my hair (back the days of perms and hotrollers.) Or the days we spent as newlyweds on roadtrips and dinners out and watching whatever we wanted on TV. And somewhere between the Hotel Starbucks and 4th Street, we rediscovered both our love for really good tacos and just hanging out.

By the time we got on the road home, I was through with adventure and chomping at the bit to get home to my babies. Who, for the record, seemed rather unimpressed and a little confused upon seeing me. Brother Bear looked at me as if he may have remembered me from a former life as he looked to his Kiki for reassurance. I wanted to shout “GOOD GRIEF, I WAS ONLY GONE THREE DAYS, HOW BAD IS YOUR SHORT-TERM MEMORY KID?” but he’s a baby and he can’t count anyway, so I didn’t. But then we bribed them into coming home with us with a stuffed platypus and a few Disney t-shirts.

And now we’re back to Real Life. Which I don’t mind too much, since my kids can make an adventure anytime, anyplace. (Do you hear that, Costco? We’re coming for you.)

About A Boy

6 Jun

Whine: I looked down from making dinner and caught Brother Bear licking bacon grease off a paper towel he found.

Cheese: I guess he’s really going to like what we’re having. At least someone in the five-and-under set will eat their dinner.

I remember the day we found out we were having a boy. We rushed off to Target to buy a little something for The Big Reveal lunch we were having with our family. I was thinking we might bring in some blue jelly beans and hand them out. Mr. Dad had other, less appropriate ideas. So there I am, standing in the bulk candy aisle, watching my grown-man of a husband giggle about picking out an assortment of candies that represented boy parts. I guess I was just surprised that Mr. Dad’s gross sense of Boy Humor was kicking in so soon. I suppose he was just relieved to have another set of XY chromosomes around here.

Concentration

The significant increase of vomit and gas pains  during his gestation should have clued me in that “one of these kids is not like the others” but I remained clueless as to how definite and immediate his Boyness would be.

From Day One Brother Bear has been identified by his appetite. In German it’s called Barenhunger, i.e., I’m hungry like a bear. I found my pre-pregnancy clothes fitting a lot sooner despite the fact that I was polishing off whole plates of ribs. And when it came time to start solids, Brother Bear had strong opinions about baby food. As in, Don’t you even think about serving me that slop, Lady. Talk to me when you have some meat. Cheerios, that staple of early childhood, were flung back in my face. Instead of walking around with a snack keeper filled with fruit puffs (aka Baby Crack), Brother Bear’s is filled with sausage.

I call this Snot and Spaghetti on Two Chins

And when he’s not eating meat, he enjoys sampling the fruits of the earth. Well, not really, more like the actual earth. All of my kids have eaten dirt at one point or another. Only one of them has gone back for seconds. . .

My son lives in a constant state of stink. In fact, he has a reputation around my office for his aromatic exploits. Our secretary emailed me before a trip and said “Have a nice trip and I hope Brother Bear does not stink up the plane.” He’s also dirty. I wish the grunge movement of the 90s would come back–my laundry would be a lot easier.

He also instinctively knows how to throw a ball (or food off his high chair). He likes trucks and waves his arms at the tv while we watch basketball. He wasn’t an early walker, but in the last three weeks of walking he has already learned to scale the back of a deck chair and (nearly) go hurtling to the concrete below. He’s had three bloody noses (one from picking his nose, seriously) and lots of black and blue spots. Before I even get him out of bed in the morning he’s got scratch marks on his face.

Verbally he’s all boy as well. By this age both my girls were talking a blue streak. Brother Bear appears to be the strong, silent type. Although he can say Daddy as clear as day and I’m pretty sure I’ve heard the words hot dog and chicken come out of that baby mouth, he really doesn’t say mama. Sometimes he calls me baba,  but mostly he just flashes me those big blue eyes and reaches for me. I am SUCH a sucker.

On all of these points I was duly warned. And I understood them in theory. But only the act of living with an eating, stinking, falling machine can truly open your eyes to Boyhood. (Unless of course you ARE a boy, in which case you’re probably like Well, duh.)

Hygiene and safety issues aside, people often comforted me with the fact that he would most certainly be a Mama’s Boy.  When I heard this, I would always nod knowingly and silently think that I wouldn’t be that lucky.

But I am beyond lucky. Brother Bear luuuuuhhhhvvvvs his Mommy. He took his first steps without me, because when I’m around he’s much happier holding my hand (or in my arms). He looks for me around the house and lights up when I come back. When he’s cutting molars, Mommy Cuddles are as good a remedy as Orajel. He always comes to get me when his diaper is stinky. (I bet Mr. Dad taught him that.)

Self-Portrait, Mother and Child

Brother Bear has found his niche around here. He’s the little one. The dirty one. The hungry one. And already, at a year old he’s the funny one. So used to sitting at the dinner table to a chorus of cackles directed at him, Brother Bear has perfected the art of Being the Joke. Hearing the first hints of laughter, he wrinkles up his cute little nose and cranks out some fake laughs.  Forget SNL, we’ve got our own little Jim Carrey in the blue high chair.

A Portrait of the Comedian as a Young Man

So far his repertoire consists mainly of laughing with the crowd and occasionally putting something on his head (he knows that one kills every time), but I’m sure once he figures out that some people laugh when he is gross or gets in trouble then he will have a never-ending source of material. He is a boy, after all.

The Bookshelf Series, part 1

Recovered, part II

5 May

Whine: It’s May 5th in Texas–Cinco de Mayo– so that means it’s FIESTA time. Unfortunately, Brother Bear misunderstood. He thinks today is Stinko de Mayo. (Rimshot, please.)

Cheese: I’ve already got my fajita meat marinating to throw on the grill, it’s a perfect 79 degrees and it’s Thursday. I love Tejas.

Since I promised pictures in my last post, I’m not going to waste a lot of time writing words, etc, since it will take every last ounce of my brain power to post pictures without doing something dumb and blowing up my computer.

The following pictures are brought to you by  CNET who reviewed the photo-rescue software and decided it wouldn’t eat my hard drive, and by the kind folks at Easeus who offered said not-hard-drive-eating software for free.

Hard at work.

I love this picture of Big Sis writing Valentines in footie pajamas. She was getting discouraged about halfway through, as handwriting is her nemesis. But once I reminded her of the smiling friends who’d receive these, she got excited and powered on through the rest. Her tender heart makes me ooze happy feelings.

I cannot stand the handsomeness.

Mr. Dad and Brother Bear got extra-gussied one Sunday (very unusual for them). There were some serious double-takes as they walked through church. But once people regained their power of speech, they mostly made a lot of doppleganger-type comments.

I'm astounded they didn't get Royal Wedding invites.

After having attended their fair share of Princess Parties, the girls now assume that every party requires elegance and panache of the highest order. They wore these outfits to a birthday party, then came home and shoveled some dirt.

The red-haired pigtails kill me.

I brought cookies to Lil Sis and her preschool class. She lit up like Aurora Borealis when she saw the Hello Kitty balloon. It’s good to know that the little things like showing up with a balloon and some lame grocery store cookies can still make her day.

"Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair. . ."

The cousins (Big Sis, Lil’ Sis, Aves and LizzyRabbit) at Lil’ Sis and Aves’ Rapunzel birthday party. The cake pictures I recovered were too damaged to use (sad face), so here’s one I managed to snap with my phone.

Rapunzel's Tower Cake

There was quite a lot of engineering involved with this cake. Basically, Mr. Dad drilled a giant hole into the base of the cake (and also my plate), then stuck a dowel rod through the middle. We stuck the tower (rice krispie treats and fondant) around the dowel rod. It worked pretty well until the rice krispie treats starting migrating south and left a solid 2″ of dowel rod showing. Mr. Dad tried unsuccessfully to refrain from saying “I told you so.” Mostly I think he was mad he didn’t get to use his circular saw and blowtorch on the thing.

I'll eat you up I love you so.

In case you don’t recognize it, this is a Max and Wild Things cake from Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. For some reason, the Max cake is one of my favorites of all time. I think it’s because it is one of the only cakes that when I finished I wouldn’t change a thing. There was a separate Wild Thing cake for Brother Bear to destroy, but it’s not worth posting until the After shot.

The After Shot

There are lots more pictures of this cuteness, including when cousin CharChar got in on the action and the inevitable bath that followed. If you really need more in-depth coverage of the event, you’ll have to wait until the album hits my Facebook page.

Ear Infection: 1, Aaron: 0

You might think this last picture would be after the cake extravaganza, but it’s not. Poor Brother Bear has bad baby ears and can’t seem to stop filling them with swamp water. When he cries a bunch and falls asleep on the floor, that’s my cue to go see the Dr.

Thanks for sticking around through the whole post, unless you skipped to the end. In which case I don’t blame you. I’m pretty glad we got our pictures back. And tune in next week, for the riveting third installment of the “Recovered” series. You won’t believe what I lost this time. (Unless you’ve already heard this story, and you probably have.)

Recovered, part I

2 May

Whine: Big Sis has decided the (pre)school year should end in April. What started with a simple case of I-forgot-to-give-Mommy-a-goodbye-kiss tears last week in class has blossomed into a full scale meltdown. Her crying jag this morning started before she even got out of bed.

Cheese: She actually likes school. So as much as it causes me physical pain to drop her off with those red, puffy eyes dolefully stabbing tiny daggers into my heart, I know that as soon as I round the corner out of sight, she’ll be ok. Her sweet teachers will give her as many hugs as it takes. Her friends will wave excitedly and draft her into the playground battle against the Evil Boys. Plus, I’ve got an ace up my sleeve–I put chocolate pudding in her lunch. It’s hard to be melancholy while eating chocolate pudding (trust me.)

You know those people who are at significant family events and just as the action is getting good and the camera lenses start snapping, they are in the corner furiously making room on their memory cards and missing the actual event?

Those people drive me crazy.

But a few weeks ago I was one of  Those People. I blame my new computer, it’s photo storage-thing-a-ma-bobby is very confusing and so I had not been erasing pictures as I went along. And for our family, March is birthday season, so there were cakes, cakes, cakes and parties and presents and whatnot to photograph. I’m a little bit of a Memory Hoarder, which means that I had approximately 1, 374 pictures of Brother Bear eating his first bites of chocolate birthday cake. (So sweet, yet so disgusting.) Finally, I decided to get it over with and unload my pictures/memory card.

Well, due to a very scientific process called User Error, I managed to swipe that card clean. Except that the pictures I had swiped off hadn’t actually been moved to the computer yet, and therefore no longer existed in the history of the world. Which means that none of it ever happened. Lil’ Sis had never had a Rapunzel party and turned three. Brother Bear certainly hadn’t turned one. Because without the pictures, there’s no proof. No memory.

My stomach lurched, and I started spewing incoherent epithets at the evil trolls who live in my computer waiting for me do dumb stuff (it’s not a long wait). Big Sis was hovering nearby and trying to distract me by pecking me to death with questions and requests. I can honestly say that I regarded her with calm composure as I told her to GIVE MOMMY A MINUTE PLEASE BECAUSE I AM THE STUPIDEST PERSON ON EARTH SO PLEASE STOP ASKING FOR CHOCOLATE MILK RIGHT NOW. (SOB)

In that moment, I did the smartest thing I could do. I put the camera away. Didn’t touch it, didn’t use it. But banished it to the top bookshelf so it could think about what it had done.

I spent the day berating myself (and the  evil trolls, of course), but managed to come back to my senses by day’s end. The thought of never getting to revisit those precious birthday faces (and the cakes, oh, the cakes!) made me sad, but I realized that mourning over memories to the exclusion of the actual, living people in the pictures was somehow ironic. And kinda stupid.

So I moved on.

But then, a few weeks later, I had an idea. (Cue lightbulb.) Call it denial, call it genius, it doesn’t matter. I googled my little fingers off and discovered that there are really briliant, benevolent people in the world who expect people like me to do really dumb stuff, and they have designed good trolls, who can go root around and find your lost/erased/destroyed pictures and bring them back. Oh how I love benevolent geeks.

I got my precious pictures back. And what kills me with gratitude is that I didn’t just get the big moments back. The chocolate-smeared hair, the twinkly princess festivities. I got back the ones I didn’t even remember were there. Like Big Sis’ first (successful) ride on her bike. And Mr. Dad giving Valentine’s roses to his girls amidst an avalanche of smooches.

When I had kids, everybody warned me how fast they grow up, and this is true. But what no one prepared me for was the forgetting.

As my little sweeties jump at warp-speed to the next stage, I barely remember the one we just left. It’s hard to focus my minds-eye on what they looked like then, what little things they did to crack us up, how much they’ve changed. And I think that’s why I hold so tightly to my pictures (as poorly-focused and full of accidental thumbs as they are) and to this blog, because as young as my kids still are, I’ve already forgotten so much.

But I comfort myself in the idea that even the memories that seem ‘forgotten’ have woven themselves into the patchwork of our family story. That most of the memories are good ones. And when my kids and I look back, we’ll see ourselves, albeit through a somewhat-fuzzy lens, as a family that loved. So I guess if there’s a sequel to this movie (Evil Trolls II: Revenge of the Hungry Trolls) and I lose all my pictures (and heaven forbid, blog posts) I can grieve my losses and move on. Right after I kick some serious troll booty.

I will post two of the recovered pictures today. But come back on Thursday for the follow-up picture post. (Hint: there will be pictures of cake! And chocolate-covered baby!)

Every thorn has its rose(s).

Brother Bear's Get Out of Jail Free Card. Because who can resist a baby in a tie?

The Family Pet

19 Jan

Whine: This post is going to displace the magnum opus of a guest post by Mr. Dad. Did you notice how long I left that puppy up there? You can’t blame me–he’s a man of very few words, so when I get a solid 600+ (615 to be exact) words out of him (in writing!) (about me!), I’m going to milk it for all it’s worth.

Cheese: I went to make dinner tonight, and Mr. Dad fired up the frying pan and made some homemade chips.  Perhaps defeating the purpose of the super-healthy fish I was baking, but, dang, the man can cook. Writing, cooking, fixing, hide-and-seeking. He’s a regular Renaissance Man. (Don’t ask me! I don’t know how I snagged one this good either. . .)

This last week our family got a new pet. He crawls around.He eats things off the floor. He drools. He whimpers if you get too far away. He often smells REALLY bad.

Wanna see a picture?

Down, Boy.

Ok, so he’s technically not new. But the crawling part is new. And I’m not really used to it. Last week I could leave him in one spot on the living room floor and it would take him ten minutes to get to the other spot army-crawl-style, thus leaving me time between choking hazards to use the bathroom or answer the door.

Not anymore.

Now he can find me anywhere. And believe me, he’s got a Mommy tracking device that is hard to beat. Not that I really mind, I don’t know how much longer these Oedipal glory days are going to last (though I suspect about as long as I am still the primary food source.)

Lil’ Sis crawled at six months, so I was on the lookout for Brother Bear to follow suit. As the months passed, he kept not crawling. This being my NOT my first kid, I wasn’t too freaked out. In fact, in early December as we brought home our fresh Christmas tree (that I insist on every year, conveniently forgetting that I am actually allergic), I thought it might not be too bad if he waited to crawl until after the needly-tree-of-glass-and-electrical-cords came down.

In fact, part of me wanted him to not crawl at all. Because right now he just  gets underfoot while I unload the dishwasher or crawls through our web of feet while we watch tv. But if he needs to get anywhere, he hitches a ride on Mommy’s hip.

And in just a matter of weeks, that mode of transportation will be obsolete. Blurg.

But on the other hand, I’ve been waiting for him to crawl. Rooting for him when he managed to get up on all fours and rock his little diaper-bottom for a few seconds before falling flat. Bribing him with shiny metal objects (then taking them away, of course, for safety reasons).

It’s all very confusing for a Mommy. I can’t imagine how confused he must be.  C’mon honey, just crawl, c’mere. No, no baby, please don’t crawl, Mommy is not emotionally prepared for you to crawl. Sweetie, the doctor is going to think something is wrong with you, will you please crawl? Don’t you dare crawl over there and grab all of your sisters’ stuff.

I just keep changing my mind.

Just when I think I cannot stand another day of The Baby Boy Diaries: Peeing, Pooping and Waking Up Before Sunrise, Brother Bear sees me from across a room and gazes at me like the hero from some epic romance movie. My heart melts, I stop whatever ridiculous activity I’m doing (like eating or brushing my hair) and scoop him up. And as he rides around in my arms, my personal koala bear, holding possessively to me, I will him to stay exactly as he is. Skinny legs, drooly eight-tooth grin and all.

But no matter how vigilantly I stand guard, no matter how long I keep trying to stuff 9 month legs into 6 month footie pajamas and how intentionally I avoid noticing that he can feed himself thank you very much, he just keeps on growing. And as much as I want him to be Mommy’s Boy forever, sleep-deprivation notwithstanding, part of me can’t help but keep pushing him and cheering for him and waiting to see what new thing he’ll come up with tomorrow.  Because how else will he become a Renaissance Man?

It is important to keep your pet clean and give him lots of love.