Thursday, February 28, 2008

Keeping it Real

Andrew likes to keep it real. His world is broken down into the Real v. General. If I offer him something in the general category, but not the specific 'brand,' he will refuse and ask me to give him a "Real X."

For example, there are cookies and then there are Real Cookies

There is milk, and then there is Real Milk

Real Cars

(A Real car is one with doors that open. He will play with all cars, but these are the only ones that are Real.)

He has an opinion about what is Real about basically everything in his life, including playgrounds (must have big plastic cars to drive around), books (whatever book his is into at the moment--right now Bedtime for Francis), and food (black beans, hotdogs, pizza generally make this cut.)

He is also sick right now, but not Real sick. I started to panic last night that he could have leukemia. I know this sounds crazy in the light of day, and now that his fever is gone. I guess I am like Miss Tabitha Twitchit ("an anxious parent") when it comes to illness. But in my defense, it was the pediatrician who put it into my head! His blood test today, for which he was very brave, will lay to rest all remaining concerns, I am sure.

Unfortunately, his happy mood from this morning is only just now returning after my betrayal at the lab. He entered the building asking me in a happy little voice, "What we doing here?" I hedged. He was friendly to the other waiting patients and even made small talk with the nurse: "This is our baby. His name Baby William. I can draw a picture please."

The first nurse put the needle in his arm but not in a vein. Then she moved and wiggled it around in his arm but not into a vein. I was so mad at her (but I am practicing being classy so I showed no indication). Andrew was not crying or anything at this point, but after 2 minutes of wiggling, he finally succumbed. They had to do the other arm. Luckily, another nurse came in and got it in on the first try. Andrew was crying (so was Will, but he was stashed in his car seat, poor thing) but everyone was tear free by the time we got in the car.

No fever, so no nap today, real or otherwise. I'm just glad he's on the mend.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Daily Miracles

1. Both my children are asleep right now. Sure, Andrew is sick, which is why is he is sleeping, but I will take it. The fact that I put Will down wide awake (but sleepy), gave him a pacifier, and checked on my silent baby 5 minutes later only to discover that he was asleep makes up for any lack in the Andrew Sleep Miracle. That Will regularly behaves this way ensures that I will never doubt that Heavenly Father knows me personally and is trying to make things up to me. :)

2. Andrew sleeps through the night. Every night.

3. Andrew falls asleep on his own. No more hours and hours of trying to wear him out or having to sing or lay with him. Three books, a prayer, whispering about our day and then Goodnight, Mommy. I knew this day would come eventually (like by the time he was in high school) but I began to have serious doubts and concerns about when. Oh, and last night he whispered, "Mommy, I love playing Dump with you." I thought it was very sweet.

4. Andrew was the most perfectly polite and charming boy yesterday. All day. He often is wonderfully behaved, but yesterday was surreal. Ask my parents. It was as if I possessed his body and tried to show off. Today he has been grumpy. But I am counting yesterday's miracle.

5. I got to nap a bit today. I told Andrew that I was sick and needed to rest, so I lay in his bed. He decided to play next to me and the next thing I knew, he was asleep, too. Of course, Will then woke up, so my nap was brief, but it took place.

6. Brigham made dinner last night. Real dinner: Barney Balls. We have tons in the fridge so I am eating that today instead of Oreos, my usual diet.

7. Someone sent us a package. I don't know who yet, since we haven't been down to pick it up, but we got a notice in our mailbox last night that we have one waiting.

8. Someone mailed me a thank you note. Other people don't find such things miraculous, but I am horrible about mailing things, so if you ever get something from me by post you know that my father was somehow involved. And when I do receive mail, I credit the sender with the effort it would have taken me, and therefore it is miraculous.

9. I found a toddler size wetsuit for Andrew at a thrift store just in time for his upcoming swimming lessons.

10. I get to go lay down and listen to Harry Potter on my little cd-man I for however long the boys remain asleep. And I am still interested in it!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Sick Days

Andrew and Will have been suffering from pretty bad coughs/colds. At first, I was much more concerned about Will because I love him more. He is just so tiny to have such a big cough. He sounded like a baby harp seal barking. I didn't ever become as frantic as I did two years ago with Andrew because I knew better now, because little Will remained happy and smiley, and because I loved Andrew more.

Andrew's nagging cough and cold took a turn for the worse last Thursday when he spiked a fever and complained that his ear hurt. When I told him that I needed to take him to the doctor, he immediately retracted his complaint: "No, my ear not hurt," and, "a doctor died."

He proved allergic to the antibiotic and then I had a rash-covered, ear-infected, coughing, oozing, feverish little boy.

Aside from the momentary panic that he had meningitis (this is a paranoia of mine, and it got me so extremely worried yesterday that I started shaking and almost knocked Andrew off the counter in my haste to blow out the door to the emergency room. I realized in time that it was not meningitis (he could touch his chin to his chest) so I saved myself some of my dignity. And I realized that I loved Andrew more than Will. Or I love them equally.

Andrew's sickness cycle went like this. A feverish Andrew would collapse on the couch and nap. I would administer Motrin and then 30 min later, he would be happily racing around and insisting that he was all better. And he certainly felt a lot cooler, so I assumed I had the fever totally down for a few hours each day. And I guiltily admitted to myself that it is sort of nice to have him feeling a little under the weather; it meant we all got some naps in during the day. It was only a deep maternal love that got me to continue administering the medicine that revived his spirit that the illness had so wonderfully tamed.

We finally did make it to the doctor's office again. There I realized that Andrew is not only totally resistant to sleep unless he reaches an extreme deprivation, but he is also immune to the effects of fever unless it is extremely high. I had assumed that the Motrin had knocked his fever down to normal, and explained to the nurse that he had taken medicine so he no longer had a fever but that he had felt really hot before, only to discover that he still had a fever of almost 101.
Moments before the nurse took that temperature, he had been kicking imaginary soccer balls and talking to all the other parents and kids in the waiting room. When an 18-month-old fellow patient would wander out of the waiting area, Andrew offered to "go get that boy who left. I'll be right back." He was in a fabulous mood.

He also told a lady waiting at the dr office with her two kids that she was "a pretty mommy." That made her day, too. How could it not? Andrew is always making beauty assessments of women. I think I am ok with this so long as he doesn't end up as a judge on America's Next Top Model (a guilty pleasure of mine) wearing a hot pink feather boa and having the people around him call him Ms.

Nope, this man is not kidding.

Andrew confines himself to simply stating that certain women are pretty (including many of the women of Sesame Street, not that he is allowed to watch television). He's not offering any critiques, yet.

We then went to my parents' where Andrew slept the afternoon away (and I did, too). When he woke up, he delighted them by telling them the following: that Nana was pretty; that he was Papa's boy; that he was Nana's boy; that he was Mommy's boy, too; that Baby Will is nice and our friend and our baby and his name is Baby William Cannon; and that he loved to play Dump with mommy. My dad actually thought that Andrew was trying to "butter [them] up." (Dad, he is two.) He was totally compliant in every way and very affectionate.

When we got home tonight, he spiked a fever again. I wanted to know how high it was actually getting, now that I knew that when he felt cool to me he was actually feverish still. Our ear thermometer was not working, so rectal was the only other option. Before that morning appointment, I didn't think it was worth the pain of determining his exact temperature, but now I wanted to know.

Brig tried to talk me out of it, but that never works. And Andrew did go crazy. It got up to 102.6 before he wrenched himself away. He prayed that he would feel better and then went to sleep. (Oh, he is going to sleep these days totally by himself without any fuss and doesn't wake up until morning. It really is a miracle. This started a few weeks ago before any illness. Our lives have totally changed.)

Even though it means no more naps for me during the day, I do hope that he is recovered by tomorrow. I am so proud, though, that he is such a little trooper about illness. As Brigham knows well, I cannot stand for a man to be wimpy about pain or sickness. Or to blow kisses at me, but I digress.

The whole experience of tending my two sick boys today got me reminiscing about my own sick days as a kid. These are some of my fondest memories, maybe in part because I was probably sincerely sick only half the time. And my mom waited on us hand and foot. All rules went out the window, too, replaced by Sick Day Rules. These were anecdotal rather than delineated, but the pattern was the same. We would immediately get set up in our parents' bed and the tv would be turned on (I desperately searched for My Little Pony) and remain on all day. My Mom, who really was at her best when we were ill, would bring up trays of all our favorite food with juice with curly straws. I think she enjoyed having us home sick, too. It gave her day a special purpose, and a special sense of nurturing that she no longer got to experience after we were all in school. And it had a certain termination point, unlike this post.

On second thought, my parents' nurturing days are not yet over, nor will they be until either my kids are grown or we move very far away. Thanks so much for all you do for us, Mom and Dad. You too, Momo and Grandpa. We love you all. Thank you for teaching us how to take care of our own kids on their sick days.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Valediction Forbidding Mourning

Visiting with my parents' the other day, my dad revealed that a journal he had written in every day from the time he was 12 until he was 18 was locked in a trunk in the attic, and that he intended to burn it at the next opportunity. "It was never intended to be read," he insisted.

I felt it would be such an awful waste to burn a record like that, but I also could understand if he really didn't want anyone who knew him to read it. So I thought of a compromise: what if he let me hold it in trust, promising never to read it, to be passed down to grandkids, or my sisters' and my grandkids?

My dad considered this possibility, even coming up with a date. "So no one will open it until, let's say, 2050. You'll be dead by then, right?"

Ouch. Ok, so my dad has always, and without any emotion, talked about his own passing and how do divy up the estate and things along those lines. It makes all of his children (but not his wife, I've noticed!) cringe. It's awful and we hate it. I suppose, however, that his pragmatic and unemotional approach to most things in life extends also to those things associated with death. Even mine (as long as it was a natural death in old age). He concluded that I may not be dead by 2050, so we'd better put the open date at 2077. I couldn't make it to 100, right?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

True Love

Oh," said Eloise, "what's the use of talking? Let's drop it. I'll just depress you. Shut me up."

"Well, wudga marry him for, then?" Mary Jane said.

"Oh, God! I don't know. He told me he loved Jane Austen. He told me her books meant a great deal to him. That's exactly what he said. I found out after we were married that he hadn't even read one of her books."
--Uncle Wiggly in Connecticut, J.D. Salinger

I fell in love with Brig in part bc he read T.S. Eliot. Soul Mates!

Now I know he is far more enthusiastic about Sports Center than anything published. I love him anyway. Maybe I'd get bored with someone so serious he couldn't sit back and watch some Malcoms with me. Eliot was a terrible husband, by the way.

I think I also fell in love with him bc he had terrible acne as a youth, like me. Star-crossed!

It turned out that while my cystic condition may be one of the single-most influencial struggles of my life, Brig only found it to be somewhat inconvenient. But that is because he is confident and easy-going. And I love that more than I love sharing weaknesses with people (and we share some of those, too, and I don't find that as bonding as I used to think it was! Its a pain when no one can use their library card.)

While I was the type of kid who had such a debilitating fear of failure that I had to quit swim team because I could not bear the pressure to maintain my record, Brig was the kid who, though a pretty terrible swimmer, calmly competed in the IM and butterfly to ensure that he won ribbons (since few other kids competed). We are pretty different in some basic ways, but honey you make me laugh and you help me to believe in myself. Witness, above, wedding day aggitation with the photographer (who was really terrible, as I suspected) being calmed by my new husband, who has described his look here as one that makes it look like he "should barely be allowed to drive."

Moments later, I am appeased. This is largely how our marriage works. If only I had photos of him directing me over the telephone through traffic, I could provide an almost complete photographic illustration of our relationship.

I remember circa 1983 my non-member dad telling me, in response to my question, of course, that he loved his kids more than he loved God. Horrified for his eternal well-being, a made a dash for my prayer corner and probably said an entire rosary for him (no, I was not Catholic, just confused).

This day I began to understand how he felt.

The True Loves of Andrew's life. It is possible that Andrew loves these kids even more than he loves his parents, and certainly more than he loves "HIS" baby. I love my niece and nephews, too.

It was love at first sight of Baby Will.

Happy Valentine's Day to all three of my boys. Paul the Apostle said it best:
"I thank my God upon every rememberance of you." Philippians 1:3

Monday, February 11, 2008

Andrew and the Polar Bear Club

In January, we visited the Chesapeake Bay.

Andrew and Papa enjoyed throwing sticks to Charlie.

Of course it was freezing, but to Andrew's delight there was a Polar Bear club outing for idiots who wanted to go swimming.

Unfortunately, Andrew was one of those idiots.

Friday, February 08, 2008

I am Grateful for Abby Because . . .

Abby, your mission went by so fast, we never even had the chance to mail you more than one letter! We are so happy to have you back and we are excited to see you again soon.

10 Things we Missed About ABIGAIL:

10) the Laugh. No one else has it.
9) Supernanny Skills. You would think she was an unwed mom, but she's just got that magic touch.
8) Nonjudgmental, without abandoning her own opinions--or voice of those opinions. A rare combination of traits.
7) Fun. Abby makes everything fun.
6) She watched The River Wild with me at 2am. (See also # 7.) That really is a trait.
5) Insightful: this is a quality that runs in Cannon/Barney women (I am talking about the genetically Cannon/Barney, not myself). Abby knows exactly what is going on inside people's heads and behind their actions.
4) Helpful: Abby is never sitting around idle when people need assistance. She doesn't even keep score on her helpfulness.
3) Humble. She doesn't realize how one of a kind she is. You know how some people know that they are quirky in a fun way and are sort of proud? She just is who she is and doesn't think much about it at all.
2) Honest. I have never heard of nor witnessed her lie or equivocate. She will give it to you straight, too. It will only offend you if you take yourself way too seriously.
1) Extremely Spiritually Mature. I know this from having read her letters home from her mission.

Bonus: she is a friend to all: the handless, the albino, the mean-spirited, the obnoxious, plus those outside her family, too!

Abby, please live with me and help me raise my children. We love you!
Love, Brigham, Alexandra, Andrew and William

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

So Big

On the drive from Falls Church, where I watch my friend's kids for a few hours ie Andrew plays in a fenced yard featuring a trampoline, playhouse, a trunk full of new toys, and three great playmates, Andrew's little voice asserted from the darkness of the backseat:
"Mommy, I want to grow up."
"You want to grow up?" I was trying to listen to news coverage of Super Tuesday.
"I want to be bigger. I am not tall enough."

I couldn't pass up the opportunity to put in a plug for eating right (or eating in general). But it got me thinking about what must be going on in that little head. Andrew hero-worships his 6 year old cousin, Emma, even though sometimes she wishes he didn't and makes that feeling fairly obvious. He also followed Taylor, 7, around all evening and would randomly throw his arms around him, a huge smile beaming up at the worshipful big boy. So he has noticed that he is not as fast, cannot jump as high, is not as physically independent or competent as these Big Kids. They are what he wants to be.

Typically, for me, it made me a little bit sad. I could only think, if only you knew how much you have changed already. I saw it today when I watched you actually getting air on the tramp, and laughing with the kids when you all tumbled around or were bounced to your knees. Back in August, you didn't want anyone else to get on with you. Somewhere along the way, you learned how to actually catch air as you jumped. And the playhouse. This summer, I was terrified to even let you climb that very high ladder. When Will came along, you could climb just fine, but still wanted my hand for the high and fast slide. Today, you navigated it all, without even looking to see if I were watching. Which I was. You are changing every day, evolving into the person you will be.

You will grow up so quickly and so soon, and before either of us know it, you will be a man like your dad. But you will always be our little baby.

Friday, February 01, 2008

A Day In The Life

Momo, we love you and miss you. Please come back. This post is for you.

7:45--I am awakened from my Nytol-laced sleep by Will fussing. In the living room I discover Zombie Andrew in pjs in front of the tv, head slightly cocked to one side, with a look on his face that I can only describe as haunting in its impression of a mental disability. Thoughts of ADHD flood my brain. He is sitting in his lion chair. In front of him is his red tray with a single slice of bread on it. "Hi, Mommy. Daddy went a work." No more Nytol for me.

Andrew placed this car on Will and got upset if I tried to remove it.

9am--everyone is dressed and fed. Will is back down. Andrew and I polish all the wood in the house. He sprays and we both wipe. "Mommy, I doing such a good job!"

10--craft time. We make rockets ("like Owen's!" I wish). Andrew's has stairs and a paper guy. He learns the word astronaut. I consider going to the Air and Space. Too much work.

11:15--Woodley Playground. Disappointment upon discovering that the playground has been plundered of all sand/dirtbox toys. Make due with swings and slide. A stylish grandmother of twin boys (15 mo) in identical hundred dollar outfits informs me that she cares for the twins bc her daughter "has an extremely important job" and she herself is "a child care specialist." ("Well, I just wrote an award-winning play, so I'm not sweating it, either.") I wait for her to ask me how much money is in my checking account. Then she guesses that Andrew is not yet 2 and spends the rest of the time talking on her cell. Andrew doesn't want the toddlers touching his stroller, where his baby is sleeping. "No, OUR baby!"

12:30--Cleveland Park Library. Andrew is trying to knock a display book to the ground to express his rage that we are there instead of at "a park with hoops, soccer balls, cars." Second wave of guilt over bad mothering. Book mission aborted; lunch quest begun.

12:45--Connecticut Ave watching road construction

1:00--7-11 for a "black donought" and a banana. Andrew pays. A stranger helps me push my stroller through the almost too-tight door of my building.

3:00--lunch eaten, an hour of books lulls me to sleep mid-read. Andrew is totally unaffected. I try to impose some quiet time, leaving A alone. He later comes running up to me in the computer room very proud: "Mommy, come look what I doing!" In his room on the floor are a bunch of cut up pieces of paper, left over from our morning craft, and my cutting shears. Big sharp shears. "Don't worry, Mommy, I being so careful." We cut for over an hour (with kid scissors)and try to make shapes. Will joins us.

5:30--Andrew plays with cars in water aka Bath time. Will is up, so making dinner plus bathing = poor execution of both. Andrew requests dinner in tub, is obliged. Operation Starve Him Till He Eats a Real Meal is successful. (Yes, Dino Bites with ketchup and black beans do constitute a real meal.)

6:37: Brigham arrives. Andrew is removed from the tub and dressed.

7:00-- Will's down for the night. B and I eat tuna casserole, Andrew eats dessert
Family prayer, kneeling in A's room. Group hug afterwards. "We a team!"
Books read while all three of us share a twin bed. I am reminded of how violent and possibly inappropriate Five Chinese Brothers is. Cutting heads off, burning at the stake: its straight out of an unfortunate Sunday School lesson.
"Goodnight, Daddy. Stay, Mommy." A few verses of As I Have Loved you combined with some back tickles and Andrew succumbs.

7:45--Brig and I watch Malcom in the Middle and eat seconds. We are off duty until the midnight awakening that we know is inevitable. We once again fail to heed the warnings of experience and don't turn in until 11.