Friday, December 21, 2007

Sand & Santa

We decorated the tree yesterday. When Mike and Gage came home with it on Tuesday evening Gage proudly declared: "See trees with Daddy! Big trees!" I said "Ooh, great. Did you bring one home?" "No," said he. He wanted nothing to do with the tree. He didn't like when Mike came through the front door with it. He didn't like my cutting the plastic chicken wire off of it to fluff out the branches. And he didn't like when Lila crawled right over and pulled at the needles eagerly, the little traitor.

I sat down with him and asked him what was wrong.
Me: "Gage, you seem a little upset about the tree."
He: "Gage so sad! Gage so sad about the tree."
Me: "Why are you sad, sweetheart?"
He: (silence)
Me: "The tree is all right. It's pretty."
He: "Gage no yike da tree."
Me: "Why not?"
He: (sighing in a tiny, frustrated way) "It's in Gage's home."

Seriously, I can't fault him there. When you step back and really think about it, it *is* weird to have a tree in your home.

Me: "Maybe after we decorate it you'll like it a little better."
He: "No. No, Gage no yike it better. No."

So you can understand me when I say I did not have high hopes for the tree. Santa has already been shot down on multiple occassions. Gage is the tiniest grinch I've ever seen! (Granted, Mike would say this makes him like his Mama....)

But...once we began to decorate the tree his heart grew three sizes. He loved unwrapping each ornament, his fingers hastily tossing aside the magazine paper cradling every one. He opened a yellowy tan, inch-high Yuengling Lager can look-alike. "Soda!" he shouted. "Yes! That's right!" said his parents, exchanging a relieved look over his head. "Soda!"

He scratched the paper off a hand-painted moose (leftover from our first married Christmas - when we worked opposite shifts and I made meatloaf each and every Tuesday. Meatloaf Tuesday, actually, was what we called it. Complete with instant mashed potatoes and once-frozen peas drowning in butter. Mike always wanted real mashed. I insisted on instant, to complete the TV dinner feeling the meal demanded). "A moose!" I said. "No, a were-rabbit!" Gage countered. Thank you, Wallace and Gromit.

It took him only two tries to successfully hook a candy cane over a low branch. In another minute there were six candy canes on the very same branch. It was wavering, but it held. Also now he picks out Grandma's homemade cookies from the borrowed tin for me and DH and presents them to us with crisp dignity, saying "Mewwy Kissmas" each time. The little charmer.

Lila has started to really use her arms. In the last week she's gotten a lot better about picking up little foods and getting them into her mouth. She's not doing the pincer-grasp yet (thumb and forefinger) but she's getting what she wants. She also began throwing her arms in the air for 'so big!' and once today she clapped in imitation of me. She pulled up to vertical for the first time entirely unassisted. She's really strong, and really determined. She's awesome.

Sometimes when I need to entertain Gage I say: "Do you want to play a guessing game?" When he agrees I say something like "I'm thinking of a person in your family who's a baby. She has her own bedroom and eats oatmeal." and Gage says "Baby Yi-yah!" "Yes, Baby Lila." And we do another one. Well, we're sitting in a Thai restaurant in Rehoboth (more on that in a minute) and I say "I'm thinking of a member of your family who," I look at Mike, "is wearing an orange shirt with black stripes." Gage literally - *literally* tapped his chin and said "Hmm...." while we he thought and we waited. Finally he grinned and said: "A tiger!"

Ooh. So close, buddy. So close. But no, not a tiger. It was Daddy I was thinking of.

We went to Rehoboth Beach for the weekend - we had a wonderful time with my mom, sisters and aunt. Gage and Mike took several beach walks, just the two of them. Gage especially liked plucking small, smooth stones from the foamy sand. He pocketed his finds and presented them to me later, saying "Yook, Mommy! Yook. For you!"

The kids were great - we got a decent night's sleep in a hotel room (all four of us!) and everyone was on good behavior. Gage tried to fall asleep with his body halfway hanging off the bed, and we made him move - much to his disappointment. ("No, Gage want to fall off the bed!") And just before we left to come home we ate lunch in our favorite Thai restaurant.

It was touch-and-go in the beginning. Lila frantically nursed like a starved hyena (inject a more eloquent description in there if you want - I'm just being honest) and then cried because she was too tired and full to fall asleep. Gage started to whine and complain and our waiter started to look like he regretted letting us in in the first place.

By the way, this is what it sounds like when I'm trying to entertain Gage and he refuses to be entertained:

Me: "I know! I'll sing. Row, row, row your boat...."
He: (writhing in mock pain) "No! No, don't row my boat!"

At the peak of the misery Mike bounced Lila in just the perfect magic way and she fell asleep - amazingly. I played games with Gage and ordered our lunch, and Gage began to calm down. Our waiter brought Satay to start and Gage turned into a perfect little angel, eating bite after bite of chicken, saying it was so good. Mike and I, armed with Thai beer and a G&T, began to relax and enjoy our meal.

Turns out Gage loves Thai food! He ate a big, excellent lunch, as did Mike and I. The waiter even brought us free desert, so he must not have been in too big of a hurry for us to go.

Both babies slept for most of the drive home, which was nice. Mike and I listened to the same eight songs for the entire drive - the three hours down, the whole time we were in DE and the three hours back up. We thought vaguely that it may have been some kind of record. But they were eight *good* songs, at least.

I'll let you know how Christmas goes.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


I know, I know. It's been far too long. I can assure you that I'm still here and still having daily insecure lows and joyful highs, as would any parent, any day, I imagine. Only the last few weeks my lows and highs have been rather...unremarkable. Or very remarkable, but boring all the same.

Big change: Mike started a new job. That part rocks. He's a lot happier already, after two and a half weeks, but he's also making more money and doing something he's interested in and for which he has a natural talent. Go Mike. You kick ass.

But his new job is throwing off my schedule. And the kids' schedules. And it's no fun. Gage has been either skipping his nap or sleeping for a measly 30-45 minutes, which can do more damage than no nap at all. We have to leave the house now during his usual naptime (so I can drop the kids off and get to work), and he isn't inclined to go to bed any earlier. And Lila has been getting up every hour or two at night for a week. So. I'm pressing through - we'll figure it out - but it's hard right now.

I got bit by this 'you wouldn't have to trudge through this every day if you could stay home with your kids' bug. We totally can't afford to rely on one income; neither of us is highly paid by any stretch of the imagination. But maybe in a few months I can cut back my hours a little. We'll see. It's really nice to think about, anyway. I don't know whether I'd love being home more often or whether it would drive me crazy. I honestly don't know. But I want to find out.

And wow - Christmas is soon. Who knew!?

I just ordered our photo cards last night (embarrassed sigh). We're so behind. We did all of our shopping online, so I'm ahead in that respect. We didn't put up lights or get a tree or anything! I feel like we're the last people I know without a tree.

Another change: Gage is reliably sleeping in a 'big boy bed,' which is really his crib with the one side removed, and a couple of toddler rails to help keep him from falling out. I put a big folded blanket on the floor anyway, just in case. Sometimes he teases me that he's going to sleep there, on the floor, but he calls it "on the down." At least once a day he goes up there and lays in his bed for maybe 15 minutes, just to rest and snuggle with his blankie. I'll call him because I hear quiet from his room and he calls back "Gage sleepin' in my bed!"

Right now Gage is sick. He has a fever and a 'peeny pain' (ahem) of mysterious origin. It came on really quickly, like within a half hour he went from completely normal to 101F fever.

Lila ate avocado today for the first time. She loved it for about ten bites and then all of a sudden she H A T E D it.

Sometimes I ask Gage what he would pack in a picnic lunch and he always says "Two green peppers. Watermelon. And milk." Yesterday he pronounced the word 'sprinkles' like this: "Pesos." LOL. He woke up in the middle of the night a few days ago and I asked him if he had a bad dream. He said Yes and I asked him to tell me about it. He said "Big dinosaur roared! And Gage run away. Dinosaur chase me! Gage run superfast. Dinosaur stop running. Gage too fast." And he said it with wonder in his voice, as if he was surprised at his victory. Gage 1, Dinosaur 0 (But remember, Cookie Monster's at 1 as well.)

Lila had her six-month well-baby and she is in great health. She's 14 lbs, 15 oz. She looks *oh so* chubby to me. I love to press my lips into her peachy cheeks, and she grins every time I do. She has all these folds in her thighs - I love it. I can't get enough. Gage was always such a skinny little thing - I thought that was normal. Now that Lila is a more average weight she just seems like the pudgiest, milkiest little darling with a big round face.

I meant that last bit in the best way possible.