Sweet Moments

We’re in the middle of a big move. We bought our new house last week and move in at the end of next week. There’s so much going on, it makes for an extra-stressed Mama. And wouldn’t ya know? An extra-stressed Aleksander. It’s amazing how these little ones tune into our emotions and end up acting like little mirrors, reflecting back at us whatever we’re projecting out.

Of course, I could also add that Aleksander is getting his 2-year molars (a little early). Plus he’s missing my parents, who were here last week (and are luckily returning on Saturday!). And maybe starting a new phase?? Well, whatever the cause, he’s been a little extra cranky lately. I try to get work done while Kelly is here to watch him in the afternoon, but he just wants his Mama.

Through it all, though, he still is his sweet, funny self. So not only does he show me that I’m stressing too much, but he reminds me how to laugh!

Today he did not want to read a book before his nap. He looked at it, but then decided he’d had enough. In his fussiness, he flung his arms … and hit me square in the face with the book. OWWWWW!!! (Yes, I did yell out in surprised pain.) But I managed to take a breath and keep my cool. We came to the conclusion that we’d put the book away and just move to the window for our lullaby. Still, I was so hurt – more emotionally than physically – by what he’d done that my voice was cracking as I sang while I tried to hold back tears.

Next thing I knew, he was looking at me – really looking – right into my eyes. That alone was enough to melt my heart. But then he leaned in for a kiss (we’ve been practicing this lately). More melting. But then he did something that pushed me right over the edge…. He made the sign for butterfly and leaned in for a butterfly kiss. That was it. Out spilled the tears. It was just so sweet. He must have felt the wetness on his own cheek. He then looked at me quizzically and started gently poking at my eyes, as if to wipe away the tears.

Come on – does it get any better than that?

Even when he has his cranky moments, that sweet little boy of mine is still right there. Sigh.

Checking Back In

It’s been a couple of months since I’ve written. In part, I’ve been devoting what little blogging time I have to my other blog about raising a bilingual child in English and German. But I also felt like I wasn’t really accomplishing my goal of offering words of advice and comfort to new mothers. But I just read back through some of my previous posts and had a small revelation: I’m not really writing for others, I’m writing for me. What a great documentation this is of Aleksander’s growth! So I thought I’d try to get back into it.

Aleksander isn’t just walking now. He’s running! He seems to have two speeds: stop and fast :)  We’ve had some pretty hot weather this summer  –  too hot to go outside. So he just does laps around the kitchen! He hollers away as he takes the corners at lighting speed. It’s especially fun when I hide behind the different walls and pop out with a “boo!!”

Lately he is also becoming even more opinionated and demanding in what he wants. Now he actually tells me where to hide in the kitchen! Or he’ll point to his Daddy and then to a chair to tell him to sit down. It’s pretty funny … at least for now.

He is very particular about what songs he wants to hear. We’ll go through dozens on my iPod before reaching the one he wants to hear. Sometimes I get so frustrated I turn off the music, convinced he doesn’t really want to hear anything. But no  –  then he tells me again that he wants to dance and points to the iPod.

No, he isn’t talking much. But he’s signing a lot!! He has about 25 signs now, including dance, book, fish, cooking, and butterfly. He is also saying a few things like Ada (Dada) and Ama (Mama). His favorite word to say is “truck.” He must have said it 20 times yesterday when the garbage truck was coming up the street. As usual, we stood at the windows and waved to the guys. I think they get as much of a charge out of it as we do!

I’m convinced that Aleksander has another tooth coming in – a 2nd-year molar. He already has all his other teeth. But he’s been chewing on his hand for weeks now. And this week, he displayed all the signs of the tooth popping through – crankiness, no bowel movement, little appetite. I have to say, though, it hasn’t been so bad. I’m really working on being patient with him when he has a rough time. And I try to go with his flow. For example, he really balks at having his diaper changed. Trying to hold him down is futile. Today I tried letting him roll over and sit up. Then distracted him with a toy and told him he couldn’t have it unless he laid down. Guess what? He did! I still had to distract with a song (ones with motions work well, like “Itsy-bitsy Spider”), but it was relatively painless in the end. Whew!

The most frustrating thing has been trying to figure out what DVD he wants to watch. (We try to keep it to a 30-minute-a-day max, if at all.) After about 20 minutes of him crying and stomping his feet the other day, I accidentally figured out that he did not want to watch The Very Hungry Caterpillar (his recent favorite). Once I put in a Sesame Street DVD, peace was restored, and he sat down happily in his little chair. Today, I caught on a little faster. But he was still beside himself as I tried to figure out what he wanted to see. I tried to explain to him that we’d figure it out and he didn’t need to get so upset. That kind of worked a tiny bit. On the third try, we hit a bulls-eye with Baby Mozart, the first DVD he ever watched and a long-time favorite. I guess it’s true what they say about children reverting back to old habits when going through something difficult like teething!

Oh, and my afternoon sitter project is still working like a charm! The timing is perfect. You know how 4-6 o’clock can be the “witching hour”! So he has someone to play with, and I get some time to myself. And even when PER is home, he doesn’t have to take over the second he walks through the door. We both go for a walk and do bathtime with Aleksander.

Only right now, things are more chaotic than usual. We’re buying a new house! We close on Monday and move in early August. So I’m trying to organize and pack. It’s nearly impossible with Aleksander under foot. I’m trying to use my sitter time to make some headway, but it’s slow going. My parents will be here three out of the next four weeks, so that will be an immense help!

Despite some occasional drama, I have to say, we’re having so much fun! He cracks me up the way he laughs at a bouncing ball or spilling puzzle pieces on the floor. Most of the time, he’s his happy little self :)  And so am I!

A New Era

Finally! After weeks and weeks of PER traveling, we’ve hired a regular sitter to help out with Aleksander. Hurrah!!! Today was her first day, and it worked out perfectly.

Aleksander took a crazy long nap – three hours! He woke up just as Kelly arrived. Despite all that sleep, he was very out of sorts. Even his snack didn’t seem to help. So I stayed around for about a half hour. But eventually as he started to get comfortable with Kelly, I was able to slip off into the kitchen. I got things cleaned up and dinner started. Then I made my way down to my office in the basement. For months, it’s been looking like it got hit by some kind of natural disaster. After just a half hour, it already looks so much better. I can’t wait for it to be a productive space again.

The best part of all this was that I could hear Aleksander’s laugh ringing through the house. He obviously got over his crankiness and started bonding with Kelly! The two of them had so much fun playing all kinds of silly games. It almost made me want to go join them … almost :)

PER is away again this week. He was gone for seven out of eight weeks in February and March. And now it is about every other week. Every time he goes away, I feel like I hardly get anything done. The house turns to chaos. (Okay, I know I’ve never been the neatest person, but it really is driving me nuts!) I barely got my lesson plans together to teach on Saturday mornings. I’m so behind on my photographs. I have over 600 pictures to go through from the last six weeks! And obviously, I wasn’t doing any blogging. All my efforts go in to Aleksander. And resting up during his nap, so I can make it through the rest of the day. It isn’t that he’s so difficult. Most of the time, he’s great. He plays really well by himself. But of course, I never know when or for how long he’ll do that. And then when he does have a bad day, or if I’m sick, things can spin out of control pretty fast.

I know this is just the first day of our new experiment. But I really think it is going to make a huge difference – the beginning of a new era for me as a mom. Having this break not only gives me a chance to get some things done or take a rest if I need it, but I think it’s really good for Aleksander, too. He has a ball playing with Kelly, and then he gets a mom who’s refreshed and relaxed for the rest of the evening. We’ll see how it goes! Now if only I could figure out how to get more help for PER, so he can doesn’t have to travel so much….

Question: How do you manage to get a break in the day? Or do you at all?!

Airplane!

Sometimes I just marvel at how much has changed since Aleksander was born. It isn’t just the obvious things that change when you have a child. Lately what strikes me most is how many little things I now notice.

A few weeks ago, Aleksander heard an airplane fly over our house. I pointed up and said “airplane!” Ever since, he points to the sky and says something like “hezzuh” (his word for anything he sees outside) whenever he hears an airplane. We’ve lived in our house for 3 years. I don’t know if I’ve ever noticed the sound of a single plane flying overhead. But now… I hear them all day long! I had no idea we were in the flight pattern of so many planes!

There are also many new – or previously insignificant – things to get excited about. Garbage trucks, delivery trucks, trucks of any kind really. When I’m at my yoga class each week, I can see the local train go by 3 or 4 times. It always makes me smile to think of how Aleksander would enjoy the sight. Then there are the squirrels (I remember a time when they were so loathsome as they ran rampant on our college campus). And now the birds are out, too, singing their songs. My dad put up a bird feeder for us when he was here a few weeks ago. Now we have beautiful chickadees and goldfinches outside our window all day.

Aleksander reminds me throughout each day – usually with his brilliant smile – to find joy in all the little things. This morning, he walked into the room, waved to me, and gave me a huge smile. What could be better than that?

Question: What little things do you notice now because of your child?

Elmo vs. Big Bird

I’ve been away from my blog for some time now. More on that another time. Right now, I just have to stop and take note of the latest funny, kooky thing that Aleksander is doing. Once again, we return to the crackers….

Every evening before bed, Aleksander has a little snack of milk and crackers. He usually has the Earth’s Best Crunchin’ Crackers, which come in two shapes: Big Bird and Elmo. We keep the crackers in a little plastic container. I’ve already written about how he wouldn’t eat any of the broken ones. He seems to have gotten over that for the most part. But lately he has been taking some time to select a cracker out of the container. I just realized he has eaten all of the Elmo crackers and left the Big Birds behind!! What?!

I can’t imagine where he could have possibly gotten such a preference. I know there are plenty of kids who are crazy about Elmo, but as far as I know Aleksander isn’t one of them. We don’t really watch any Sesame Street yet, and the only other time he has any “interaction” with the character is when I put on his diapers. So why choose Elmo over Big Bird? I have no idea. Yet another mystery of the toddler mind!

Question: What kind of unusual, unexpected, kooky things does your toddler do?

Bathtime Fun

As if you needed more reasons to have fun at bathtime, I have an easy, inexpensive way to keep your little one entertained even more. You know those sheets of foam you can buy at the craft store? Well, did you know when they get wet, they stick to the tub and tiles in the bath?

I bought a couple of sheets in springtime colors and cut out various large shapes. I was in the kitchen when I did this, so I grabbed a few objects to trace – a glass, our oval salt cellar. I also drew a few freehand – a star (need a bit of work), an A for Aleksander, a triangle.

That night, we stuck them to the tub and let the fun begin! Aleksander had so much fun, we had to move them to the outside of the tub while he dried off, so he could continue playing with them.

Aleksander plays with his new foam shapes in the bath.

Let’s Dance!

Remember back when I first started this blog and I wrote about refocusing on myself as the New Year was about to begin? Well, so far I’m doing pretty well with 4 of my 5 goals. I’m teaching, blogging, and taking tap. And not only am I back in a regular yoga class, but I’m loving it … I think I’m addicted :)

The thing that has not gone as planned is my intent to to get back to the treadmill. Part of the reason is beyond my control…. No, really! I wanted to walk after dinner, but with PER traveling so much these past weeks, there’s no one to watch Aleksander while I sneak down to the basement. I’ve thought about trying to find another time, but….

So now I have a new plan! I absolutely love to dance. But other than my tap class, I hardly have the opportunity to do so. The other day, I was reading someone else’s blog (wish I could remember which one!), and the mom talked about how she dances every afternoon with her kids! What a fabulous idea!! Let’s dance!

At about 4 o’clock each afternoon, I turn on the music, and Aleksander and I dance around the living room. He loves music and he actually loves to dance. He’s only just learned to walk, though, so he still does most of his dancing sitting down. He kind of flails his arms around and bounces on his bum. It’s hysterical! But then he caught me twirling around and walked over to me with wide eyes and arms raised as if to say, “I want to twirl, too!” So around and around we went. It’s so much fun! And even though I’m definitely tired by that time of day, I find the dancing to be really energizing. It feels great :)

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