Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Visits and outings

It's so funny how you move to a new city and you have every intention of visiting every single landmark and good restaurant, etc, but 1 month in and you're so burned out about seeing everything that you just spend all of your weekends at home not doing any sight-seeing and watching reruns of weeds.  So, it's so nice when you have friends to come visit you: you get to show them all of the places that you have been wanting to go and do all the things you've been wanting to do.  It gets you off your ass and it gets your house really clean in preparation for their visit (because who wants to have visitors go back home and say, God, their kitchen was a hair everywhere!)   
Our friends Jordan and Rachele came to St. Louis and stayed with us while Jordan interviewed for Pediatrics residency out here.  They brought their two sons, Beckham, who's almost 3, and baby Gavin, who was almost 6 months old.  It was nice to have kids around the house...Desmond really enjoyed watching Beckham play and he loved going up to Gavin and lightly touching him and trying to give him a hug and besito (kiss in Spanish, which, incidentally, he does open-mouthed.  Don't go thinking that we kiss Desmond all open-mouth or anything...he's done that ever since he started kissing people.) 

At City Museum...Billy did all of the activities with Desmond because I was too chicken to do them.  I can't even go down the playground slide without almost passing out from a mixture of fear and anxiety.

Action shot.

Billy says that this picture perfectly describes my and Desmond's relationship.  Take that however you want to take it.

A slightly friendlier picture of us :)

Look at Desmond's luscious hair.  I'm just now starting to appreciate how wonderful it is.  Truthfully, when it was apparent that Desmond was going to have blond hair, I was kind of sad about it...I had grown up visualizing my future kid as having dark hair, so when his hair started sprouting blond, I was borderline disappointed. 

Having the time of his life...

On top of the scariest slide ever.

We do love visiting the St. Louis Arch.  Underneath it is a huge expanse of grassy field where Desmond could just run his happy little butt off.

This kid STILL only has 6 teeth.  He just barely started sprouting a 7th tooth, but I feel like this is taking way too long.  The kid is a champion at masticating food with his rubbery gums. 

Rachele and I underneath the Arch.  Behind us is crappy East St. Louis (East of the Mississippi River; St. Louis proper is west of the Mississippi).  In front of us is a much more picturesque view of downtown St. Louis.

We should be in an ad for a parenting website or something.
It was so nice to have some friends visit us and it was so nice showing them around our city.  Here's to hoping that Jordan gets and accepts a residency out here!

Way hands-off parenting

I'd like to think that I'm a pretty laid back parent.  Sure, I get stressed out a lot about my lack of sleep or Desmond's eating habits, but for the most part, he does a lot on his own.  Unless there's a concern for his safety, I'm not hovering around my child like a gnat (not that mothers that do are gnats...they have a different name for that: helicopters), which can also be explained by my limited patience for playing with Desmond and his toys or playing on the playground equipment, unfortunately.  I do like to provide him with the tools (toys, leaves, washable crayons, food, dirt, whatever...) and let his little budding imagination take over.  Unless what he's doing is going to make a horrible mess (like letting him take the top off his sippy cup and put the bendy straw in...big mistake), I usually let him try things on his own so that he could figure out how things work without me telling him how to do it.  It's one of the things that I feel that Bill is really good at and I'm really bad at: he will sit there and try to fix things and make them work, whereas I'm all for calling the landlord, plumber, drycleaner, Billy, my make it better.  Billy also tends to be the more present parent.  He's able to give Desmond 100% of his attention and sit there and play with him and be present for him for hours.  I don't know how he does it, but I'm trying to learn.  Putting that on my continuing education list of to-dos.

So, how has all of this manifested in Desmond?  Well, there are some pros.  He knows his limits, as in, he'll try to go down the last stair in a staircase the adult way and end up falling (under my supervision) and realizes that his legs are way too stubby to step down that step gracefully, so he'll stand there and wait for me to hold out my hand so he could do it the adult way.  He is very aware of his surroundings...everybody is always remarking about our glass coffee table (ooooh, isn't that kind of dangerous, having a baby around?  Or, ooooh, you forgot to babyproof that!) but he knows that it's there, he knows that it hurts to bump your head, so he gives himself a wide berth from it when he plays.  It's awesome. Also, although I don't think he's to the point where he's imagining much when he plays, he does usually play by himself and usually only engages me when he's trying to figure out how something works or when he wants me to read to him.

The cons, he currently has 4 scars on his face from falling on different things, some requiring trips to the hospital, and some we took care of at home (and let me tell you, the sight of bright red blood pulsating all over Desmond's sweet face is enough to make me want to crouch in the corner and cry, but something snaps within me and I stop thinking and my mind stops processing any external stimuli besides the wound and making sure my baby is OK.)

The last incident, for which we spent an entire afternoon at the Children's Hospital here in St. Louis, Desmond fell onto Bill's metal hand weights.  He almost required stitches, but thankfully, they only gave him some skin glue.

On our way to the hospital.  When Billy picked Des up from the floor, he immediately pressed him to his chest to comfort him.  When he pulled Desmond's face away, he was bleeding profusely all over Billy's shirt and face.  I couldn't tell if he was bleeding just from his forehead or anywhere else.  I thought he had for sure lost some of his teeth!  I automatically went into robot mode and took Des, put his face under cold running water and saw where the wound was.  I took a clean dish towel and pressed it to his forehead and checked the wound again to see how bad it was.  It was pretty gash-y, so we decided better be safe than sorry...

Once we made it to triage, the nurse put some lidocaine on the wound and put a clear plastic bandage on it.  Desmond kept poking at it and the nurse said it was ok, since that would push the anesthetic into the wound.

Des was having the time of his life at the hospital.  There was a TV with cartoons and a big tank full of fish.  He loved running around.

Look at Billy's shirt.  We subsequently used it for his Halloween costume.  I think that this is the cutest picture of Desmond.  I mean, look at how cute that baby hospital gown is...and the way his socks are all scrunched down...
So, maybe I've a bit to learn about keeping my child from more bodily harm from those helicopter moms...seriously, I'm dreading the hospital bill we're going to receive any day now.  In the meantime, I'll keep letting him run around and slide down the fastest slide on the playground...if it means a skinned knee or a small head wound, I'm ok with that.  Kid needs to know that the only way to fail is to fail hard, learn from it, and keep going.  Hopefully he'll be able to teach his mama the very same thing, too.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

1-month hiatus

I haven't had the chance to post in a long time.  I've spent the majority of my time working on a grant that's due in a few days PLUS we had to let go of our, technically, I've had no time to write.  I read once that if you want to write a good blog or a dissertation or anything, you should plan to write a little bit every single day.  However, my motivation to write was sapped by my reality and I had no creativity left in me at the end of the day.  However, I'm in the process of finishing the grant, cleaning up the house after hosting 6 family members for a long Thanksgiving weekend, and getting Desmond back into his previous groove that I'm just now starting to get my writing mojo back, albeit slowly.  Therefore, this post will be a short and sweet update and will hopefully be a jumping off point for more frequent, interesting, and lengthier (but not too lengthy) posts.

Desmond is currently almost 16 months old.  He's quite a little man, although his face, to me, still looks babyish.  I find myself excited for him to move on to bigger and better things, but am a little bit sad that he will never again look this way, act this way, smell this way.  I'm trying to grow alongside with him as a mother: to grow in patience, understanding, love, and happiness.  But sometimes, I find myself severely stunted.  I'm trying to get out of this funk I've been in and to try to spend the short (relative to life) time that I have with Des in the best, most loving manner possible.  It's been a long road with Desmond and I hope to write in the coming days about how difficult it has been for me to admit that I'm a not-the-best-at-it mother and how that realization is going to impact my desire for a future child.

I'm currently nanniless, which means that I have to devote my entire day to Desmond and do my work at night.  It's made things a bit stressful here in the Thomas-Reeves household, but we're doing our best.  I'm trying to think of as many things to do outside of the home that doesn't involve playing around a park in 28 degree weather.  Long story short, because of an hours-worked-and-payment-received misunderstanding, our ex-nanny wrote us a scathing email demanding that she be:
  • paid 25% more per hour because she's "teaching" Desmond Spanish
  • give the equivalent of 30 days paid vacation per year
  • paid in full at the start of every month for hours yet to be worked
  • paid for the week even if she doesn't actually work the hours.
Obviously, we couldn't accept her terms.  But, as the saying goes, when one door closes, a window opens, or whatever the heck it is.  I went to an open house for the local Waldorf school to check it out and whilst there, I met a mother of 2 little boys, spitting images of Desmond, who was from...get this...Colombia.  In St. Louis!  The Open House was just about to start so I couldn't speak to her anymore, but she quietly slipped her phone number and email to Billy so that we could get in touch.  And I did, which led to me not only meeting a new friend from mi patria who's raising her children in much the same manner as I am raising Desmond (they're 4 and 7 and speak perfect English and Spanish), but also to meeting her mother, who nannies kids at their house for 30 freaking dollars for a full day.  $30!  I almost fainted when I heard that.  Granted, we'd have to drive Desmond over to her house (10 minutes away), but it's sooooo worth the inconvenience.  We're getting double what we used to get for half the price.  Plus, she only looks after one other boy (besides her grandkids) consistently, so it won't be such a chore for Desmond to get her attention.

Let's see, what else...I cooked a Thanksgiving dinner for 8 was a small success.  I should've planned better.  I stumbled upon this great new site, called Weelicious, that gives you recipes for your toddler, but really, I've liked every single thing I've made for Des from that site and have made it for dinner for me and Bill, who's also a big fan.  I just made some homemade pumpkin ricotta gnocchi and Des loves the beet pancakes from Weelicious.  You should check it out.

OK, peeps...I promise to write more about my current parenting struggles and Desmond's crazy antics/accomplishments/milestones.  Oh, and I'll post some pics of our fall photo shoot here in The Lou done by my new friend Sam.

A sneak peek to tide you over.  Check out his luscious mullet.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Halloween 2011

We had such a nice time for Halloween this year.  Billy and I carved our very first pumpkins as a couple (and it was also my very first pumpkin carving ever!) We carved them in the likeness of our two dogs, Hanzo and Pirate.  I did mine in like 20 minutes.  Billy took about an hour on his.  But his did come out better and he did win us a gift certificate to a nice pizza place.

Just look at the way I deftly hold the carving utensil.  I'm a natural.  Mio, the woman next to me, also won a prize.  she made her pumpkin into the pumpkin carriage from Cinderella, complete with horses, a barbie, etc. 

Joint Ventures Club at Wash U.

Cute, eh?

My pumpkin.  It's supposed to be Hanzo, our Boston Terrier.

Billy's pumpkin.  It's supposed to be of Pirate, our pug, but he was so engrossed in carving, that he forgot to poke out one of its eyes so that it's a true representation of our one-eyed dog.

D enjoying himself at the carving party.
So, we put our prize-winning and prize-losing pumpkins on our front porch that evening, lit a couple of tea lights, and stepped back to admire the view.  I also cut out little bats and ghosts on black paper bags and put a tea light in those.  They came out OK.  Finally, we hung a BOO sign on our front door; it was covered in green glitter and god knows that I ADORE any kind of glitter.  So that made me happy.  I never thought I'd feel that way about decorating a home for the holidays, but it really does make such a huge impact on the way I feel about the whole season. 

So, last year for Halloween, Billy and I dressed up as Neo and Trinity from the Matrix (sort of unoriginal, but black is sooo slimming and I was only 3 months postpartum then and still had a huge gut...ahem...I still HAVE a gut, but it was definitely bigger then) and Desmond went dressed up as sushi.

We made this Kitty Litter cake that was absolutely delicious, but nobody wanted to eat it!  :)  The poops were melted tootsie rolls and the cake was part mashed up oreos, part yellow cake, and part vanilla pudding.

Sashimi Desmond.

Our homemade costumes.  Billy had painted his hair black and filled in his eyebrows.  haha!

This year, we decided to go with a theme again.  However, we decided to go a more cultured route: we decided to dress up as famous late artists.  Can you guess who we are?

I was Frida Kahlo, Billy was Vincent Van Gogh, and Desmond was Salvador Dalí.

Seriously, if I don't nair once a month or pluck my eyebrows every now and then, I would end up looking like this.

Notice the clock on his shirt?  It's supposed to be the melting clock from Dalí's painting, "La Persisténcia de la Memória." 

Loving the Twizzler I made the mistake of giving him.
So, the rationale behind the choices was simple: I chose artists that I both liked and who beared some cultural semblance to the make up of my family.  Although Frida Kahlo was of Mexican descent, we're close enough brown that it didn't matter that I was Colombian.  When Billy has facial hair (can't call it a beard since it's never thick enough to be considered that), it's got streaks of reddish gold in it, which reminded me of Van Gogh.  Also, they're both very white European men.  Finally, I chose Dali for Desmond because he's Spanish and Desmond's not quite brown, but not quite the Mediterraneans!  But the bottom line was money.  It cost me around $10 for our entire costume (that was to buy the flowers for my hair).  Everything else was ours.  The shirt, I drew (artistic genius, eh?  Looks just like the original).

Billy's ear wound cover was actually the shirt that he had on when Des fell (again, his 4th time) and banged his head up pretty badly (pictures coming up in the next post) and we had to take him to the hospital.  So that is authentic human blood on the shirt.  Sigh...we will do anything to make our Halloween costumes as authentic as possible.  :)

Anyhow, Des loved watching all of the kids come up to our door asking for candy.  Here in St. Louis, they all tell you a joke or a riddle first and then you give them candy.  It's perfect.  I loved hearing all of their jokes and (pretend) laughing.  It was really lovely to get to spend it at home with my little family.  I know soon enough, I'm going to be schlepping it out there in the cold with Desmond, going door-to-door.  Hopefully, that's not for a few more years.