Thursday, March 8, 2012

Year Two

Today Baby K is 14 months old! (Note: "Today" has since passed...) I just want to take a moment to sit and be astonished at how much this child has flourished in the past two months. It's really just remarkable. He's finally sleeping through the night (until 5 a.m. or even 6 a.m.) at least half of the week, so my year-long fatigue is at long last starting to wane. He is mimicing everything his brother does, good and bad. That means he'll pick up a plastic baseball bat and hand me a bouncy ball to throw to him...and he'll scream real ugly in my face when I won't let him do what he wants. And somehow both are equally amusing. He's a total book fiend, and the way he says "book" is the cutest ever--he doesn't say the "k" at the end, but let's his voice rise to a high pitch instead. So it's a two-syllable word. But he's so excited to find a book anywhere in the house, and will sit on your lap and point to random things in the book, make animal sounds at the ones he sees, and turn back the pages when we're done to find his favorite picture. When I ask him if he's ready to get out of the bathtub at night, he points to the towel hanging from the shower rod and says "boo-oo?", anticipating what's next.
I want to make a list of the words he's already saying because it's pretty astounding (to me, at least) when he's only completed 14 months of life as of today. It's so crazy to think about how much a human can accomplish in one year! Gosh, what happens to us as adults???!

Keane's (attempts at) words at 14 months:
  • Mommy
  • Daddy
  • book
  • baby
  • ball
  • bubbles
  • cup
  • cheese
  • juice
  • milk
  • Elmo
  • Ellie 
  • on/off (same word for turning the light switch)
  • hot dog (as in the Mickey Mouse hot dog dance, which Keane joins in with Declan on)
  • bye-bye
  • hey/hello
  • hot
  • Papa/Pop
  • eat
  • more 
  • phone
  • Ee-eye-ee-eye-oh
  • woof, moo, quack, brrrr (elephant noise), bokbok (chicken noise)
I'm sure there are more yet. Seems like every day he says something that surprises me. Of course, most people wouldn't be able to understand his pronunciation of half the words, but I usually know exactly what he's saying! And he'll pretty much try to mimic anything you say. So if I go, Keane, can you say yesterday? He'll actually try. And I'm convinced he understands 80% of what we're saying most of the time. For example, if we're in the living room, and he brings me a coloring book to read, I can say "Keane, go in your room and get your Elmo book", and he's on it. Or, if I say "Don't you dare pull all of that food out of the pantry again," he'll do it. See? Genius!

And as you can see from his photos...his curls are simply out of control. I've tried once to trim the front of his hair because his bangs were in his eyes, but I haven't had the heart to cut the rest. It's just so crazy cute, especially since I know he got his hair from me...but I guess it is kind of starting to look like a girl. The dink sure thinks so too. When I wash K's hair in the bathtub, as I pour the water on his head and his hair falls straight for once down his neck, the dink loves to say at that moment, "Keane is a man!" As if the rest of the time he looks like a girl. Oh well, I think we'll celebrate it just a bit longer...

I'm just so thankful that we've finally ventured back into "normal" life after a stressful 2011, now with two sweet, predictable little boys and a comfortable routine that requires energy but is way more enjoyment than exhaustion. It feels good.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

From Sweden, II

I’ve been away from my boys for 12 days now. Tomorrow I’m finally going home. I’ve been finding myself, as the days have passed in Sweden, fantasizing about each of them, as if we each have our own love story. I imagine what our reunion will be like, even though I know it’s always the hours following reunion that deliver the most meaning. I think of the way Keane smiles out of the corners of his mouth while he’s sucking his thumb, or holds his thumb between his gums for a moment to let the smile shine through. And I obsess about the way he smells, so similar to Declan’s scent at that age (has something to do with eating lots of bananas!), and just want to hold him sideways in my arms, bury my face in the crook of his neck to inhale his essence, and kiss him dozens of times. And I think about his typical reaction to me when I arrive to pick him up at daycare—reaching his arms out and grinning from ear to ear, sometimes clapping and sometimes bouncing up and down in excitement. Then I imagine that scene escalating, and us doing something unexpected and glorious, like laugh hysterically for five minutes, or reach out simultaneously for twenty wet mouth kisses in a row.

And for Declan, the sky’s the limit. I’ve done some Skyping with the dink while I’ve been gone, but half the time with no video and the rest of the time with him not sitting still in the right location for the video…and so I’ve spent some time focusing on the dink’s voice alone, which is something that I apparently never do. I think when he talks normally, I’m focusing on his little face and his actions, and not necessarily memorizing and savoring the sound of his precious southern three-year-old voice. It was almost as if I’d never heard him speak before when we talked on skype. I felt like, who is this voice—the words are all familiar but the sound of it, coming across the internet from an unfathomable distance away—that I’ve never heard so clear before. And I can’t wait to hear what that little voice will say when I see him again—probably start with something random like “you wearing black shoes, mommy?” and then move on to asking me a dozen times in the next few hours “you home, mommy?”…and then how many different ways will he ask me to snuggle with him and sleep with him and prompt me to say things like “My two boys!” as we sit together on the couch. He can say anything, honestly. I just want to reconnect those sweet words with those big, bright eyes and be with him.  

From Sweden, I

It seems almost implausible when I say it out loud, but here I am, in the middle of my second week in Sweden, the day before Valentine's Day, filing away a barrage of images of Swedish women pushing around Euro-mod strollers with babies in their depths--insulated, puffy, snow babies, with countless protective layers, hats, and blankets, with only pink noses peeking out and occasional cries when they're wheeled into a shop. And all I can think is—do people really live like this? And a second later, where oh where are my babies?

I may miss my boys like crazy, but it doesn’t take away from my assessment that Sweden is just a happy place. Despite the February weather, there are bright, shiny, tall people everywhere I look, going about their business with a calm pleasantness that, regrettably, you just don’t find in the US. They seem content, empathetic to each other. Example: It’s against the law to sell children’s toys that are guns here. I can’t help but think of how many (positive) implications that has on a society! But back to the boys. In daily life, I generally maintain the belief that I never get enough (or any) time to spend alone. And I like being alone; I always have. But this trip has certainly reminded me that most of what life has to enjoy is doubly enjoyed when sharing it with the ones you love.