Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Who Likes Tomato Soup?

Gage very politely insulted my cooking the other day.

I know I've said it before, but I'll say it again: I'm so pleased with how my kids eat. They're adventerous eaters; Lila does it naturally and Gage succumbs to unending, gentle prodding.

They treasure fruit above anything else, and vegetables are a close second. They eat heavily flavored foods like curried noodle soup and hummus. Favorite snacks include salt-and-pepper edamame and crackers with brie.

It's not always easy to make it through a meal, and I wish sometimes that they (especially Gage) would eat more per sitting, but they definitely eat very varied foods.

Usually willingly.

So two days ago I made a tomato-based soup with spicy sausage and green beans. Lila happily worked her way through the bowl while Gage took one tentative sip and sighed noisily. He sat back in his chair while the rest of us ate.

Me: "What's the matter, Gage?"
Gage: "Well, Mama."
- Long pause -
Gage: "Well, Mama. A lot of the time the food that you cook is really good. But sometimes...the food is just not so good."

I had to hide my face because I didn't want him to see me laughing. Tears actually ran down my face. The poor guy, trying to spare my feelings.

And takes more than a dig at my tomato soup to get to me.

After the obligatory...Mike: "It could hurt a person's feelings to say that," and Me: "I work hard to make healthy foods for my family. There are going to be some things that you don't like. Nobody likes everything," we had...

Me: "But. Eat it anyway."

And he did. With the prodding.

He seems to have kind of gotten the message, though. Twice since then he's made it a point to compliment me. Yesterday at lunch and again today, during dinner. Both times he's said: "Mmm. Mommy, you're a good cook. This dinner is good."

So I guess we're getting somewhere. Slowly.

Nights have been much better. The promise of a morning popsicle has done wonders in getting Gage to sleep through the night. And I know, I know. A popsicle in the morning is not the best tool in the parenting belt o' tools. But sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do. Besides, they're 15 calories a piece. I checked.

Every night when I tuck him in (and try to mimic Mike's 'tucking in' procedure, which involves making 'a Gage sandwich' with lettuce and tomato...which always fails to be exactly right and ends with me promising to 'send Daddy up in a minute') I say "Remember, what are you going to do tonight?" He cheerfully responds: "Stay in bed!"

We're at, like, an 80% success rate. Which is WAY better than 0%.

Lila and I went with Mike and Gage to Parkettes on Monday night. Gage is still in the Parent-and-Child class, although the teacher recently said that she believes he's ready for the Kindergym class, in which parents are not involved. I'm totally ready to switch him, but Mike, who really enjoys this special bonding time, is more reluctant.

We decided that we'd take Li for a try-out class, see how she likes it, and then bump Gage up to Kindergym for a couple of weeks before enrolling Li in the Parent-and-Child class. So Mike will still take them. He'll send Gage off with his teacher (big kid!) and then attend Lila's class with her.

So far, so good. Lila LOVED it. She had a blast in the gym, walking unsteadily on the balance beam (while Gage held her hand and walked confidently in front of her) and jumping into the foam pit, right into my arms. She even went for a ride on the rope swing with the teacher. This is a really cool thing - they have a rope set up over the foam blocks and they swing out and back, then out and let go to fall into the supreme softness. Gage can do it all by himself now, and did it three times on Monday.

I watched. With my very own eyes.

My kids.

They're growing up.


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Ugh - pics

I don't know why I'm having trouble loading pics here in any size but HUGE all of a sudden. I used to be able to resize pics fine. I'll keep working on it, but bear with me until I figure it out. Sorry the pics are huge and cut-off. Ugh.

Reflecting On My Newborn: Gage

Gage William. Such a fantastically beautiful baby. See the fur on his shoulders? I loved that fur. He was born 9 days early, with (dare I say it?) an easy labor and delivery. He had the most gorgeous, huge bluish-gray eyes that opened immediately after birth. His gaze was throat-catching...his eyes sharp and wise.

Gage was a typical baby for the first two weeks...I say typical in a kind of all-encompassing, all-accepting way. He was on the small side and had to be monitored to make sure that he was at a healthy weight. He was up many times every night. He was just what we expected from our first baby.

And then.

Ohhh, and then.

The colic started.

He cried from the time he was 14 days old until he was 3 months, 3 days. I know this because the day he cheered up...we ALL cheered up. The poor little guy had an awful go of it...he was constantly unhappy, constantly arching his little body to try to avoid what experts assume is comparable to full-time gas pains. (No one really knows what colic is, or how to fix it, just that it randomly strikes 1 out of every 4 or 5 babies.)

The pediatrician had no advice, other than to hang tough. Well-meaning strangers had plenty of advice, mostly made up of the (oh-so-helpful) comments like: "He sounds hungry." or "Uh-oh! Somebody needs a nap!" After weeks of politely dealing with these comments, weeks of near-constant screaming in my ear, weeks of little sleep at night and a child who napped maybe 10 minutes to one hour THE ENTIRE DAY, my response transformed from: "No, he's not hungry. He just ate," to a slightly wild-eyed: "Nope! This is just my son! This is how he is! This is our life!"

Ah, motherhood.

I remember thinking: "THIS. Is not what I imagined."

But throughout all of the screaming, all of the heartache of watching this intense little baby and not being able to help him, Gage and I were pals. We had each other and we needed each other. He didn't scream any less for me than he did for anyone else, but MAN did we have a deep connection. We had such a palpable bond in those early days...I sensed from him that he was unhappy but not angry. He needed to cry but he didn't want to have to. And he seemed really grateful that I still loved him through all of it.

The one time that Gage was quiet was when we'd bathe together, so we bathed together often. The warm water soothed him and he'd relax on my chest. He'd snuggle into me, into my neck, and I welcomed the softness of his body, the compliance of his tranquil little form. The bath was an escape for us both and is one of my strongest memories of baby Gage.

You get what you get, and you do right by your kid. You have to. You don't have a choice: You're the mama.

When the colic dissipated he turned into his real self...and I recognized him immediately.

I remember thinking: "THIS. Is what I imagined."

And our adventure began for real.