Caterpillar room

School was pretty insistent that we take Frederick to the doctor. They didn’t directly say that he wouldn’t be let back in tomorrow, but that seemed to be the subtext. To spare you the gory details, he has had some “tummy issues” for the past three days and I can understand – and share in – the concern, but he hasn’t hit on any of their “exclusions” at this point. But besides that, he’s a little touchy, but not really acting that ill. No fever, eating okay, not dehydrated. The teachers make it sound like he’s moping around pretty badly at school, but that hasn’t been the case here at home.

Frederick recently graduated to what’s known as the “Two’s Room.” To give you an idea of what that’s like, I think a reasonable comparison would be between the Butterfly room (the calm sort of room he was in before) to the Caterpillar room (his new room) in Toy Story 3. The movie suggests that the older children play more calmly and quietly with the toys and after the rough-and-tumble playtime with the toddlers, Buzz respectfully requests a transfer to the Butterfly room. Ummmmm, ok.  Seeing Henry in action with his cohorts in his classroom gives me strong doubts about the calm setting in yet, but maybe it’s because I’m looking at the rambunctious boys. Incidentally, Toy Story 3 is an awesome movie and quite enjoyable as the animated genre goes. Moms, have your tissue ready, but it’s a good kind of cry.

I’m not saying that Frederick’s funny tummy is due to the stress of changing rooms, but maybe his frequent crying and strong desire to be held a lot is. At any rate, the doctor found nothing wrong, warned us about the signs of dehydration and sent us on our way. Whereupon arriving home Frederick was pretty content to chill and read some books. I thought you might enjoy seeing some of his new animal sounds and seeing how he freely shares his hugs and kisses.  Below are two vids featuring Mr. Frederick and his animal sounds and kisses and hugs. That is a sweeeeet kissy-face, let me tell you!

Hugs

Usually the hugs that Henry lavishes on Frederick involve a lot of squeezing, World Wrestling Federation style. This morning, as per usual, upon reaching the living room with a freshly-awakened-from-slumber Frederick on my shoulder, Henry excitedly exclaimed, “Mama, bring Frederick here, I want to give him a HUG!”  I sat down next to Henry with Frederick on my lap and it was a sweet surprise to see Henry give the most gentle hug and a light kiss on Frederick’s cheek, followed by a barely audible, “I love you, Frederick.”

Bedtime rituals

Aside

I hear about parents who have these very prescriptive bedtime rituals. Apparently, the ritual, whatever it is, is important for imbuing the little people with comfort and trust… leading to a life of goodness, or at least a good night’s rest.

I mean, I suppose we have a ritual, of sorts. After dinner, play time, which could be a thousand things, followed by wind down time, generally watching a Baby Einstein video (a coworker a few years ago gave me a grocery bag full of them). Then we take the little guy upstairs, change his diaper, put on jammies, give him a warm bottle of milk and then gently try to coax him to sleep in his crib.

Not to discount the nightly lavender bath / baby yoga / story time, but I’m just so beat, I couldn’t imagine keeping that up every night. We’re basically trying to find the straight line between bottle of milk and sleep time for him and us.

We do all of the other ritual type things (okay, not the baby yoga, but I did give Frederick little massages when I was on leave), just not the same time every day. One of Frederick’s first words was “book.” Probably back in October, he’d wake up and stand up in his crib and point across the room at a stack of books and say, “buh!”  Or if I’m sitting cross-legged on the floor playing, he’ll come toddling over, book in hand, and sit in my lap, adjusting his position like I’m his personal Barcalounger. Then he’ll expectantly turn his head to look at me and again say, “buh” as he helps me open the book. It always makes me smile to be his personal Barcalounger.

Several night ago, it became very apparent that the whatever-it-takes approach was yielding significantly diminished returns. He was on to us. Meaning, he’d go down without too much of a fight the first time we put him down, but when he’d wake during the middle of the night (a phrase I use loosely, since that could mean 9 PM, 10 PM, 11 PM, midnight, 1 AM, 2 AM… you get the idea… whenever a neighbor slammed a car door or something caused little man to stir), it was quite a different story.

Frederick will allow us to pick him up, rock him, cuddle, sing, do all that stuff as he lounges in slumber in our arms. Over the shoulder or cradle-style. Snooze time. As soon as we’d use our ninja-like moves to navigate to the crib and sloooooowly begin to try to place him in there, his alarm that senses the breaking of the plane of the crib entrance goes off and he screams and stiffens. Or if we decide to still put him down, he’ll roll onto his back, still screaming, and angrily pound both his legs into the crib mattress. You’d think he’d get tired of this full-body protest after a while. But no.

All of this has me thinking that we need to look at our nighttime routine. Maybe not so much the initial routine, but the one we go to when we are dog tired and trying not to wake the entire house (blessedly, Henry’s years of sleeping with 20 or so other kids at nap time have enabled him to sleep through all of Frederick’s carrying on). It’s hard, though, because I really want the little guy to be well before I go digging through bins to find Dr. Ferber’s book.

So far, we’ve only been using a really weak version of Ferber that’s not very true to the book in many ways, most significantly being that our technique still involves cuddling. And usually when I do it, it doesn’t work so I end up needing assistance from my dear sleeping husband, who goes into Frederick’s room and emerges about three minutes later with only silence emanating from the cherub’s door. I like to tell myself it’s like opening a jelly jar: I ran it under the hot tap water and pounded on the counter to loosen it up, but it’s Frank who was able to come in and open the now-loosened cap. As long as it results in some sleep at night.

Which brings me back to the beginning, my contemplation of a good bedtime routine. Perhaps he’s waking because the routine may change and make him anxious? Or has he just figured out that he prefers being held and that crying will lead so mama or daddy coming and picking him up?  Or is he getting molars / having ear pain / cold / warm and desires comfort for those things? Aye yi yi. It’s mind-boggling and borderline paralyzing to think about the things you could be missing, the harm you could be causing.

I’m beginning to think the bedtime ritual is more about providing comfort and confidence for the big people.

Knew us before we knew us

December brought my return to work and a struggle with motivation. Fortunately, it also brought a busyness with their own things that everyone at work seemed to have, so my half-heartedness was barely noticed. It also brought family travel and Christmas, bright spots in the winter.

January brought a return to a level of anxiety and drama at work that I hardly recall. Uncertainty and speculation were rampant and those played out in all sorts of odd ways. On the personal side, we decided to put our house on the market and made an offer on a beautiful house that was a short sale. Our dear friend, Mandana, visited with us during the coldest week of the year and we all — I mean all — of us got a wicked stomach bug (or food poisoning, but I think stomach bug, because Frederick got it too, and all he ate was formula and breastmilk). A lovely thing for her to remember us by! Mandana has the rare distinction of having known both of us, individually, before Frank and I started dating in San Francisco. She and Chris L. are just two who fall into that category. And we hold them both in high esteem and close to our hearts because they are awesome people and share a unique history with us as individuals and as a couple. It seems wierd even writing “dating,” because it was more like a whirlwind romance, having met in June 1999, engaged in May 2000, married in January 2001.  I’d say if it’s not a whirlwind, then it’s pretty close.

Above you can see the house that we all lived in. Next to the garage are the steps I was sitting on the very first time I met Mr. Percic. On the other side of the garage is a small gated backyard where we would bask in the few truly sunny warm days in San Francisco and while away the hours chatting and (usually) drinking. I have seriously fond memories of that summer, when I met some of the most interesting people and lived outside my comfort zone. Here’s a photo of the house where you can see the dining room window (Robert, a rather odd fellow, rented that space), the breakfast nook (the room I rented for the summer), and the kitchen window (behind the tree).

So it has been a couple of years since we’ve seen Mandana, live and in person. She’s one of the most creative people I’ve ever ever known and she had a freelance gig in Minneapolis for a big-time advertising agency on a big-time new client of theirs. She was able to spend the following weekend with us in the ‘burbs, where, she surely would have been bored to tears, were not for the violent vomiting! In addition to freelance art directing and writing, she is finishing up a heavy metal novel, is brilliant with children, and writes and maintains *two* blogs. You should check these out (if you are a grown up)

For you fashionistas (or if you just like looking at pretty things and keeping up with trends), you really should subscribe to Mandana’s blog. Trust me on this. I love that she loves vintage. I love that my mom hung on to some stuff from the 1960’s. Never boring, always original, the best of beauty and fashion. Your deep-down girly-girl will bubble up with delight.  http://nancyfashionfancy.blogspot.com/

Got a minute? How about some fresh fiction and illustrations? Itty bitty snippets of fiction. Grown ups, only.

So that about wraps up January. Oh, I had a work trip in there, too. It was fine. Navigating security wasn’t as bad as I thought. Finding time to pump during a work conference was challenging. Frank did great with the kids.

February was a busy blur, too. Keeping the house show-ready is a chore.  Everyone got a cold, some of us are still recovering from that one. The first house we made offer(s) on fell through. Sketchy seller’s agent. Seriously. Sketchy. We looked and looked and finally found one more we might like and put an offer on that while keeping the marketing up on our existing home. Frank has been working on putting together a series of three training sessions for his multi-site team and director, so has been tied up with that. Henry has matured and says all sorts of witty and wonderful things. Frederick turned 6 months yesterday and is still a little peanut (15% on weight). He likes to sit in his Bumbo and gnaw on his fingers (and yours, if you let him) and just started eating rice cereal.

Spring 2012 looks to be filled with lots of excitement. Hopefully we can keep you in the loop throughout the ride.