Thursday, December 31, 2009


Sometimes I’m overwhelmed when I think about writing about the dink—of how to capture so many moments and feelings and experiences in enough words. It usually feels like such a tall task…which is why I avoid it as much as I run to it. But then sometimes, like yesterday, just one little moment in my life as the dink’s mommy can say it all.

Last week was Christmas, and even though I had planned to take vacation days Mon-Wed before the two-day work holiday so that I could finish shopping and work on one of my home improvement projects, I ended up staying home with a sick baby. The dink had his sixth or seventh ear infection—I lose count—raging in both ears. They developed less than a week after finishing ten days of antibiotics from the previous one. So he was in crisis mode, dealing with a wet cough, runny nose, and pressing his big hands against his painful ears. We watched Baby Einstein more times than I’m proud of, made furious, brief trips to choice stores for last-minute gifts, and spent a lot of time in each other’s arms.

The week got better as Christmas Eve arrived, and J was finally home to share the load and add his own excitement for the holidays to the mix. We went to my parents in the country, stayed the night and most of the day on Christmas there, and then to J’s parents in the country to finish off the weekend. The dink was feeling pretty lousy the whole time, but slept well and showed enough excitement for his duplicate gifts—three riding toys and three sets of Mega Bloks—to make everyone say what a sweet, joyful baby he is.

My favorite part of the holiday was our homecoming. Like the dink, I get homesick even when we’re visiting family, and arriving at the house at noon on Sunday just in time for the crappy Saints game was the highlight of our trip. Coming off of a two-hour car nap, the dink was wildly calling the cats as soon as we pulled up in the driveway. He exclaimed when he saw #2, bouncing up and down on his knees and waving his hands high above his head. He crawled madly through the kitchen, greeting his fridge toys, his musical train, and his beloved, beloved pots and pans. And he panted at J’s legs in the living for about half an hour, watching daddy operate the remote so skillfully, quickly changing channels and taking the batteries in and out for the dink’s enjoyment.

Then Monday came quickly, and J dropped off the dink at daycare for the first time in ten days. I wasn’t surprised when I picked him up to see him in his teacher’s arms. She said that he had been kind of sad that day, and she didn’t know. I said it was because he had just spent ten days with me, and she laughed. But then the dink proved my point better than I could have ever explained. He came into my arms, put his head on my shoulder a minute, then looked up at me, smiled, put each of his hands on my cheeks, leaned in for a kiss. I might feel better about leaving the dink every day if I had that kind of reunion to look forward to.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Baby steps

The dink took his first steps a few days ago. Three tiny, one-inch, consecutive forward movements toward something...not me, but something that gets him going in the kitchen like a beater from the electric mixer, or the open door of the dishwasher. He seemed proud, but not totally committed, like he did it without really trying too hard, propelled by the weight of green beans, pasta, rotisserie chicken, and half a can of pears in his near-bursting tummy. If only the dink attacked all of his physical milestones with the gusto that he eats his dinner!

I actually like the way he takes his time. Completely unconcerned with the other "walkers" in his daycare class, biding his time on his butt, perfecting the one-legged, one-handed scoot, which is used when he wants to get somewhere relatively fast but needs to protect a particular item held in one of his hands. He seems just concerned enough with people around him to try to mimic the fun things they do (pointing the remote at the tv, pressing the pin code pad at the grocery store), but then unconcerned enough to tell people no sometimes when they want him to perform on demand (high fives, bye-bye waves, blowing kisses). And certainly undisturbed by the fact that he's had the physical agility to walk for months...because he likes where he is, on the floor, tugging at my pant legs, sliding easily on the terrazzo in our kitchen. And I guess he's teaching me something about taking life slowly, waiting until you're ready, not putting undue pressure on yourself...I think I get it now, what they mean when they say "baby steps."

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Hello, Seahorse

The other night, I was playing with the dink in the bathub. Amidst a congregation of rubber duckies, winnie-the-pooh, empty travel size shampoo bottles (the dink's favorites), and God knows what else, I pulled the purple and green sea horse. Making him dive in the two-inch bath water and sail past the dink's avid eyes, I use my best sea horse voice to make him say, "hello, dink, I'm Mr. Seahorse." And then to the dink--say hi to mr. sea horse, dink, say hello...Hello! And I hand the soggy toy to the dink, who holds it up to his ear and does his best imitation..."heee---uuuoo". Should I be ashamed of this?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

From a month ago

Yesterday evening I was trying to unload the dishwasher in a hurry before I put the dink to bed, since the clanging of the dishes makes so much noise. He was fed, bathed, and smiling, playing with the fridge toys Aunt M gave him. I was on a roll, grabbing dishes in both hands and throwing them into the appropriate drawers and cabinets. And I guess the dink wanted to help, because he crawled over to me and perched on the outside of my left leg. The dishwasher was on my right. I grabbed a 2-cup Pyrex measuring glass in my left hand and a small glass bowl in my right. I turned to the left, about to reach over to a cabinet, when I realized he was beneath me. And then I lost it. I wish I had a video of what happened next because I’ve lost all sense of memory since.

Somehow the Pyrex crashed into the bowl, glass on glass. Then they became airborne for a split second and finally crashed a millimeter away from that little dink, shattering into about a million pieces. I looked down in shock and saw the dink literally sitting in a sea of glass—countless slivers and mean-looking shards, enclosing him in a menacing circle. He was stunned, not even crying, and I snatched him up, ran out of the kitchen and held him under the dining room light, looking for injuries. But he was fine. I couldn’t find anything but a tiny glass sliver sitting on the puff of blond hair on top of his head. He was 100% unscathed and eager to get back in the kitchen and play in the mess.

I still don’t understand how it happened—how I didn’t step on him, how the glasses crashed together, and how pieces of glass landed on every surface of the kitchen floor, even on the counters and in the sink and dishwasher, but yet my precious baby managed to sit in the middle of it all, unharmed. I suppose these are the near-misses that you hear about, that will keep happening every year of the dink’s life—some I’ll see, some I’ll be better off for not knowing about—just one more reminder of how precious his life, my life, this life, is.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


When you're pregnant, you learn that there are certain questions that people will ask you, and no matter what your response is, the reaction will be the same. How far along are you? What are you having? What will the name be?

In the past eleven plus months of having the dink, I've noticed that people continue to make the same comments to me. The dink has been called "beautiful" by more strangers than I can count. At first it made sense, a precious four-week old teeny weeny with angelic features. But later, I started expecting cute or handsome, or something to indicate that he was growing up into a little boy...but no, "beautiful" is still what every single person says about him. Must be the blue eyes and blond hair. Whatever it is, I've decided that it doesn't mean anything, just like all of those other standard questions. It's a standard comment for people who don't know you or your baby but just want to make a brief connection when he waves or smiles in the grocery store or at church.

For a few months, though, people have actually been saying something that matters to me. The beautiful comments are reserved for brief encounters and passers-by. But the next comment comes from those who stop for a minute or two, or watch him in mass week after week, or study him as we wait in the checkout line. "What a happy baby." It makes me smile just to think about it. At first, I thought, aren't all babies happy? I still don't know the answer to that, but just the fact that so many people comment on my baby's happiness makes me think that they must not be. It's probably that so many babies are over tired and the dink's happiness is just a sign of his well-restedness. But I'd rather think it's because we're doing something right. Because we smile incessantly at him just to see his toothless grin. And because we make up silly songs and do goofy dances for him, and especially let out fun noises just to get him to laugh. Because we're happy, or at least we put on a good show when we're not. I just pray that it lasts. That when he's fives years old, at the pediatrician, Dr. W makes the same comments that he has at almost every appointment since the dink was three months old. He's impossibly cute. He's got personality. He's a wild man. I think what Dr. W is trying to say is just a more insightful version of all those strangers repetitive comments. What a happy baby. And what a happy mommy to have him.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Wheels on the Bus

Not long ago, I decided to add to the dink's sad collection of Baby Einstein DVDs, and I bought him his second one: One the Go. I thought it would be perfect for that little doo's love already of things with wheels. His current favorite: 2-inch inflated plastic/rubbery cars with wheels that really move. He's perfected the skill of sticking out his tied tongue as far as it will go between his lips and blowing "bbbrrrrrr" in that car noise that apparently boys are born with the ability to mimic. I suppose J taught him this at some point. But from my vantage, he picked up the car one day, rolled it back and forth on the floor, bbbrrr-ing along with its movement. Genius, surely.

So I played On the Go for the first time 3-4 weeks ago. The dink was only mildly interested, I think, wondering why the familiar Disney intro music of the DVD had let to different sounds and characters. Until the Wheels on the Bus song came on. The tv screen shower a cartoon-esque school bus with those ubiquitous Baby Einstein puppets climbing aboard, looking out the window, etc. And the dink went nuts. He charged the tv screen, pulled up on the tv stand, and reached his hand out to puppet, all the while panting and emitting high-pitched squeals. It was as if he recognized this song, which I hadn't even thought since his birth.

Then a few days later, he did it again. After some over-contemplation about what in the song or its visuals the dink found so exciting, I thought to ask Ms. S. at the daycare. Do you ever sing Wheels on the Bus to the dink? Oh yeah, she chuckled, he loves that song. And If You're Happy and You Know It, she said...He loves to clap his hands. Well, at least that was something I knew about my own child--his fondness for clapping his hands at the slightest encouragement. So it all made sense. A few days later, I tested the dink and started singing the other song. "If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands," I paused. Then: clap, clap. Unbelievable.

Of course we all want to think our child is genius. But the truth is that it's all about the time you put in. I tell J all the time that stay-at-home-mom babies appear to be smarter than others at an early age because their moms have time to do the repetition, the same sayings, songs, events, every day, and for so many hours of the day. Kids like the dink just have to latch on to their few tricks and make the most of them.

A couple days ago, my neighbor stopped by with her grandson, who is ten days younger than the dink. When they were leaving, the dink waved bye-bye to him. My neighbor seemed upset that her grandson still didn't know bye-bye when the dink has been doing it for at least a month. She said she keeps telling her daughter to teach it to him! I told her not to feel bad that he hasn't learned yet--it just means that her daughter doesn't leave him every morning.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Turns out the dink can put down some toast like a wolverine. After he woke up about four times from 3 a.m. on this morning, I called it quits and started the day a little earlier than usual, not long after 5. Instead of his normal oatmeal and fruit, I offered him a lightly toasted piece of wheat bread. No butter, no crust--just the scratchy and soft plain stuff that I pulled apart in bite-size pieces, hardly able to keep up with the rate he was shoveling them into his mouth. Just another sign that he's outpacing my slow, deliberate attempts to make him grow up slowly, and not rush too fast into all of this big boy stuff.

A few days ago, I got a notice at the daycare that the dink would be moving to the walker room in two short weeks. Two weeks! He won't even be one years old by then. And the list of dos and don'ts was startling--no pacis, no bottles, must wear shoes, must sleep on a mat, only one nap a day, needs finger food... I actually sobbed in the car on the way home that day, reading the walker room schedule at red lights: eat, play, music, outside, eat, play, sleep, play, eat... At least I won't feel bad now when I pick him up (finally, gloriously, RESTED), and drag him on errands and walks and expect him to bang on the same pots and spatulas in the kitchen, because at least I'll know that he's had sufficient time to play. But still, it's bittersweet, and for now mostly bitter. To expect all of these adult things from my precious, innocent, little baby. From that little tiny thing with the amazingly sweet breath that used to sleep with his eyes open and get swaddled so tight to sleep in his crib that he looked like a mummy. Or an Indian. My sweet, sweet boy growing up too fast. These are the pangs I've heard about, this is what they mean when ladies I don't even know catch me in the kitchen at the office and sigh, "they grow up so fast." There's no unique way to say it. You can't cradle and rock and caress your baby forever. But you certainly don't start loving him any less.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Two months later

The dink has been busy. His favorite move, the two-finger point. Or the one-finger point. Or his whole hand splayed open at the end of his extended arm. Does he get it from me, this need to identify each person or object that his eyes focus on? The cuteness is impossible, combined with the inexplicability of why he does such a thing. The other day at the daycare, when I arrived to pick him up, S was rocking him. He was almost asleep, but he heard my voice so she brought him to me. In my arms, he rested his head on my shoulder and looked sweetly at S, then slowly lifted his right arm to her, stretched it in her direction, and pointed with his second and third fingers. She laughed, and I kissed his sweet, fluffy blond head.

In the morning, the dink plays on the floor of our bedroom in his diaper. After his morning poop, he's sanitized with wipes, freshened with a damp cloth, and stripped of his nighttime snuggle suit for a brief 6:30 a.m. period before daddy puts on his "school" clothes. While J struggles to pull the comforting weight of pillows and covers off of his face in bed, and I struggle to zip up my pre-pregnancy pants a mere eleven months later...the dink sits in the doorway to our closet, exchanging between grinning at his reflection in the full-mirror and finding me in the quiet morning chaos, rising up to his red knees (from intense crawling), raising those arms and hands high above his head, and flapping his little hands loosely and excitedly at me. Like he's working out his wrist muscles, or tapping on some tinky piano up in the sky...but I stop what I'm doing, raise my own arms up high, indulge in a bit of panting to mimic him perfectly, and wave back at him. Eventually, the squeals and trills of excitement pull daddy out of the covers. And the dink grins at him from my arms, laughs at daddy's peek-a-boo efforts in the bed, and gives daddy the one-finger salute.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Two days

After two days in his new "crawler" room, the dink finally started crawling. And two days after that he came down with croup. And then four or five days after that he pulled himself up on the rocking chair in his bedroom while DH was home sick with him. I don't know how I'm supposed to keep up with him, growing and changing and trying new things and looking at me with this new little face that says "watch what I'm getting away with." Dr. W told us at his nine month appt. that by now, when we say "no" that the dink should know what that means, to the point that he cries (or almost does). Pretty harsh. I've only recently discovered that I may actually have the occasion in his lifetime to say no for any reason, and that's only because his latest interests are eating and yanking electrical objects that could inevitably cause his death. And even then, denying that sweet baby boy of such charged pleasure is the hardest thing for me to do. The other day, DH asked me why I didn't clean out the dink's basket at daycare, or read his sheet when I'm picking him, or make sure all his bottles are in his bag...And I told DH that I pick up the dink as soon as I walk in the door, and it's hard to take care of all of those things while I'm holding him, signing out, lugging his carseat. So DH asks why I don't do all of those thing first and pick up the dink last. Because it takes all of my strength not to run inside the daycare when I pull up every day because I'm so desperate to see him.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Sleep, baby, sleep

I don't know why the dink won't sleep at daycare. Sure, you can blame the fluorescent lights, the crying babies, and the stimulation of the bouncy seats, jumpers, and plastic toys. But I've seen him conk out at a Hornets game, while in the bathtub, and the other day for two whole hours in the afternoon while just outside his bedroom window a house was being raised. If it were up to me, I'd have him sleep for five out of six hours he's at daycare every day so when I pick him up, he's refreshed, happy, and ready to start his day, because that's when mine starts, when I get to be with him...When we say goodbye to his "teachers," ride home listening to the radio while he chews on his socks (still on his feet), and then smiling when the car stops, quickly into the house, put my breast milk in the fridge, and grab him from his carseat before he starts fussing. Run into the bedroom to take off my shoes and my shirt, strip him of his socks, bib, and pants, and place him on the floor while I quickly run to the bathroom. This is where the dink gets very offended. Every day, that shock of being set down so soon after being reunited with me. He turns red and screams, looks at me with horror. The thing is, I never leave his sight, but it's still too much to bear. Poor baby is too tired, typically running on a 40 minute nap in the past 8 hours of being awake. He is desperate to lay on my lap, on our corner of the couch, and nurse himself to sleep. Within forty-five seconds of latching on, his eyes are rolling back into his head and his body becoming limp. Naptime starts at 2:30 p.m., too late for that little tired man who prefers to nap around 12:30 on the weekends. And too late for me too, waiting an hour or sometimes two until I can finally see him smile, bounce in my lap, take a walk outside, play together in his room. On weekdays, I don't miss a second of the dink's awake time in the afternoon. I have all of those waking hours that I missed to make up for. But before you know it, it's dinner time (5:00), bath (5:30), he's rubbing his eyes (5:45), and before you know it, we're back on the couch, nursing, where we just started our day only a few hours before. So when the dink moves to his new room at daycare next week, where he's supposed to spend his time learning to crawl and walk, I will pray only that he wears himself out beyond his ability to stay awake. I'll insist that he be put down for naps twice while at daycare, so maybe the hours we spend together in the afternoon will finally rival that of his caretakers. Dear God, will you please make my baby sleep when he is not with me? I don't care if he ever learns to crawl, drink from a sippy cup, or even walk, for now. I just want him to sleep. Sleep, baby, sleep.

Friday, July 24, 2009

On the verge

The dink has been on the verge of crawling for a couple weeks now, but he just can't seal the deal. He can maneuver from the sitting up position with one leg straight and one bent, to perching on all fours, rocking back and forth. I think once I saw him bring his back leg forward in an attempt to take the first crawl, but then he fell down to his tummy, all four limbs splayed. It's pretty frustrating for him, though that doesn't seem to motivate him too much. He'll eye a toy that's out of reach, attempt to crawl for a minute, then give up and find something else to occupy him. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing. Self-pacification? Lack of drive? Acceptance and happiness amidst turmoil? Who knows what the dink will reveal about himself in the next months.

For now, I'm pretty sure he has a future as a master electrician. His favorite things in life are characterized by buttons, flashing lights, and electrical functions: light switches, light strings (i.e. the fan light he loves to pull on and off), cd players, cell phones, answering machines, tv, remote control, alarm system pad, microwave...there is no end to this. Just seeing the alarm system, which I never even let him touch, gets his legs and arms pumping and his breath short. What a dink. I've started panting back at him when he gets himself going, and he laughs at me. He also laughed this week when I tried to firmly tell him "no" for the first time. He kept rolling over during a diaper change, and I used a deep and firm tone of voice to try to stop him. Yep, he thought that was pretty funny.

If dink's not a master electrician, maybe he'll make his mawmaw proudest of all and be a priest, because he sure loves his prayers at night. When he doesn't fall asleep nursing on the couch, I take him to his room, cradle him like a teeny baby and sway back and forth and whisper his prayers to him. First Our Father, then Hail Mary, then O My Jesus, and the Guardian Angel prayer...then another few Our Fathers and Hail Marys as his eyes start rolling back into his head and his body becomes heavier and heavier. Sometimes he falls asleep like that and sometimes he just persists in that soporific state, just on the verge, enjoying the rhythm of the words and the kisses I give him in between verses, until I place him in his crib and pat his little back while he sucks on his fingers and finally seals the deal for himself. See that--maybe the dink just likes that middle ground, teetering between his today and enjoying the moment before moving on to his tomrrow. I could stand to spend some time there on the verge myself.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Green Beans

Few things in the dink's life are as good as green beans. Sure, there was the antique bookcase he was obsessed with looking at for a while, and then the light switch phase. And of course, banging on a cd player is still really important, as well as holding mama's keys and seeing the cats outside. But the ultimate leg-kicking, panting, wide-eyes, and rabid mouth opening are reserved singly for green beans. So far, the dink has eaten apples, bananas, peaches, sweet potatoes, carrots, peas (hates), cereal, and yogurt. And of course the green beans. Whoever said, don't feed your baby fruit first because then they'll always prefer it to vegetables was stupid. I could feed the dink melted chocolate from a spoon, and I truly believe he'd abandon it for a side of mama's homemade green mush.

I really enjoy making baby food, and I'm pretty proud of myself for abandoning all of those plastic containers and glass jars for a blender, some ice trays, and whatever good looking produce I can find. I love to see the ziploc bags lined up in the freezer--bright orange for carrots, deep dark green for the grean beans, a thick minty color for peas, a fall burnt orange for sweet potatoes, and a gradient of creamy yellow to brown for the bananas. Strangely, the cubes that look most appealing are the apples--an opaque off-white that look so smooth and tasty every time I pull them out to put in his glass tupperware for daycare. Making the baby food is like breastfeeding at this point--can be a pain but really gives me pleasure and satisfaction when I'm done.

Friday, June 26, 2009


We walked through Granny's house last Sunday, sister and I pointing to every other item. Yes, I'll take the hand-tinted photos of the French Quarter, didn't you say you wanted the crystal decanters? I tried to usher us through quickly, squeezing this last trip before the estate sale into some made-up time limit. I said the dink needed to get home.

Dink was 12 weeks in utero when Granny died. At six weeks, I had pressed my face up to hers in ICU and yelled to her that I was pregnant. I could see in her eyes and her faint smile that she understood. I held her hand and told her all of the slim details I had so far of the pregnancy, and I prayed that she would find the dink one more reason to will herself healed. To an extent, that worked. At 8 weeks, I marched excitedly into her hospital room with a chain of ultrasound photos, pointing out the baby's arm buds and head. Her shaking hands crumpled the thin-sheeted imprints as she tried to rip one off. DH grabbed some scissors, and we left one of the photos in the room with her. And at 9 weeks, 10 weeks, and 11 weeks, I saw the dink move around her room, sometimes on the nightstand, sometimes on the windowsill, sometimes near the tv. I'd like to know where he was at 12 weeks, when she called it quits. I couldn't make it to the hospital in time to have one last look at her room. I suppose she decided that 27 weeks was too long to wait when she had already been waiting so long.

Granny, I wish you would have waited longer. You really would have loved the dink, and don't you remember how sweet S was as a baby, learning how to say Ga-ranny and running to you for a hug? I suppose life is full of sweetness no matter how long you live. And I guess you'd had your fill. I like to imagine that you're moving about the dink's room now, maybe petting his hair when he wakes up at night (you know he loves that), or simply watching from the corner in your old rocking chair.

Monday, June 22, 2009

First Father's Day

At seven and half months old, the dink has come along way. Recent accomplishments include sitting up for extended periods of time without falling over, drinking water out of mama's glass, and waving his hands in the air in his first attempts to imitate clapping. He also "hugs and kisses" me when I pick him up from daycare, which consists of him grabbing the hair on both sides of my head and latching his mouth on to my cheek. He certainly experiences each emotion to the fullest.

For Father's Day, dink gave DH the gift of fussing for the first time when DH left the room. It was just a little whine that didn't last long, but he let me know that his daddy's absence did not go unnoticed. That sort of thing is a big deal. DH is still telling the story of the first time the dink was happy to see him after work. It was shortly after I went back to work, and the dink and daddy started to get to know each other better by having their morning routine together. I was burping a schlumped over pile of sleeping baby, trying to rouse him to finish eating before going to bed, when DH came home. I passed over the groggy sweetness, who briefly opened his eyes, looked at DH, and delivered the funniest ridiculously sleepy half smile with his eyes barely cracked open, acknowledging his daddy.

I whimper too when I walk out of the bedroom at 6:40 a.m. and leave dink and daddy snuggled up in the bed. And when the daycare tells me he fussed all day and that they think he's sick or teething or whatever and then I get him home and he's happy as a clam. And when DH doesn't come home from work until after seven and I've been feeding and playing and mothering and houseworking for hours without him. But baby smiles bring celebration. Like mini hallelujah orchestras everywhere, and jumbled syllables of thanksgiving for this life, for life in general, for dinks, and for daddies.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Blackberry picking

On Sunday morning, I picked blackberries with Dad. DH fed the dink his apples and cereal while I hopped on the golf cart in my pajama pants and slippers carrying a mug of coffee and an empty Mardi Gras cup for the goodies. Dad had made several paths in the woods and cut back spidery branches before my arrival, so we'd have access to the pickins. After we'd filled two cups with mostly the juicy berries found in small slices of shade, Dad drove the cart fast over the edges of his bumpy land, so I had to cover the cups with my hands, to show the me blackberry vines that were almost ripe, not near ripe, and overripe. The early green berries he said are hard to spot in the backdrop.

When we got back, the blackberries nearly filled a quart-size ziploc, and he reminded me three or four times that day to take them home. He doesn't care for them. But he was already talking about which bushes would be ripe the next time I'd come.

DH is learning about his own blackberry picking with the dink. He called me from a break at a mediation today to tell me that every morning when he gets out of the shower, the dink gives him the biggest smile and kicks his legs from his bouncy seat. It's like dink is wondering what in the world happened to him for those five minutes and is joyous at his return. Every morning, a big smile and happy legs.