Monday, March 30, 2009

Of birthdays and butterflies

Does anyone remember this wee lad?

Little John

It's my youngest brother, John, I'm guessing around 4 years old. He turned 15 on March 10th. How do these things happen?

He had a birthday party at Lazer Land. They have arcade games, mini golf, and of course, laser tag, where you run around in a dark maze and shoot your friends with infrared beams. John and his pals routinely slew any of us who were over high shool age.

One of the things dads are for:


Dave and Ike also have a new game called "Fall off the Refrigerator." No further pictures; I realize airborne infants can be a bit alarming if you haven't been desensitized to it through daily exposure.

Ike got sick Tuesday morning two weeks ago. It was some kind of flu. He was sweet and pitiful the first couple days, quietly lying on me and sleeping on and off all day. Once he began to mend a little, though, he was ornery and prone to fits of screaming. The whole week was so confusing and emotionally draining--it was so sad to see him feeling badly. Was I taking care of him properly, or was I making things worse?

That Friday I got sick, though not as badly as Ike had been, but by Sunday he and I were both mostly back to our usual selves. The sun came out again and things had turned out all right in the end.

My neighbor's 11-year-old granddaughter is a Girl Scout, and she told me about earning merit badges for learning new skills. I was thinking about imaginary parental merit badges; there should be one for Baby's First Sickness. I don't know if I handled everything properly, but we got through it, and I feel like I'm better equipped for the inevitable next time.

This Saturday I met up with my friend Yvette for a long overdue girly outing. We convened at Frederik Meijer Gardens to see their annual butterfly exhibit. Yvette brought the butterflies to my attention two years ago; she and I went together then, and I've been back a number of times since. There's a Conservatory open year-round, full of lush tropical plants, a little waterfall, and small birds. It's warm and humid and a welcome escape from Michigan winter. (Snow yesterday, by the way, and frost still on the back porch today at noon.) Once a year in the spring, thousands of butterflies are set free in the Conservatory, and you can just walk among them, enjoying their colors and patterns.

Butterfly mosaic

Yvette and I looked at butterflies, ate lunch at a leisurely pace, and shopped for, eh, ladies' underthings and maternity jeans. Yvette is my personal shopper. I have no style and she aims me in a better direction. Before going home, I stopped at Cold Stone Creamery, chosen specifically because I read somewhere that their ice cream has an obscene amount of fat and calories. Then, feeling spoiled by my day of irresponsibility, and starting to miss my boys, I headed home.

Monday, March 16, 2009


I'll speak for Ike and say he's had a pretty eventful week. Last Sunday (the 8th), we participated in our first family outing, by which I mean we went somewhere with another couple who have kids--Brooks and Nicky and their two boys, J., age 4, and B., 5 months. My brother John came along, too. The place was BounceLand in Kalamazoo, full of giant inflatable things for kids to climb in and on, obstacle courses and slides and the like.


Ike was overwhelmed by all the noise and kids. He was apprehensive about touching any of the bouncy stuff himself, but seemed to like it when Dave carried him. At one point, he managed to run behind one of the bouncy things and unplug it, causing an evacuation of that particular inflatable. I was getting a (terrible) Slush Puppie at the moment, so I missed this piece of fun.

I introduced Ike to B., to get a feel for how he might react when he gets his own new baby sibling, and Ike stole his pacifier. That tells me much.

Later in the day we visited with Ike's grandmas and had a "grandma buffet" for dinner. My mom made delicious buttery, lemony scallops and roasted vegetables, and Dave's mom made her beloved chili recipe.

Dave has developed this little game with Ike over the past few few months. Ike will be holding a toy or a book, and Dave will ask, "May I have that?" Ike will hand it to him, practically turning inside out with glee. Dave will shout exuberantly, "Thank you!" then hand the item back to Ike, saying, "Here you go!" Repeat. Repeat.

Before the grandma buffet, Ike was bringing all the toys and books he could find to his Grandma Gayle. Suddenly he started saying "Thank you!" and "Here you go!" as he dropped off his items. His pronunciation was a little off--see the title of this post--but there was no mistaking the phrases. We were all amazed. He says "uh-oh" and "doe" (no) all day long, but that had been the extent of his English until that moment. He's still saying them, and seems to be saying "Mama" on purpose now, too.

On Tuesday, Ike had a well-baby checkup. His latest stats: 31 inches and 22 pounds, 11 ounces. Every visit, the nurse asks whether I've signed a vaccine waiver. It's right in the file she's leafing through, but I'm sure they have to cover their butts. We've declined vaccines so far, concerned both about what additives go into them and the sheer number of shots children "must" have nowadays. I'm planning on giving him a few select ones when he's a bit older.

They also ask whether there are guns in the home (no, but I'm in a little curious what happens if I say yes) and if we have well water (yes). I took the fluoride prescription the doctor wrote last time, but this time, had to confess that I hadn't filled it; I saw the nurse mark something in the file. I think they have us branded as crazy, crunchy freaks, although they've only been polite and respectful. (I've heard stories about pediatricians who kick you out of their practice if you don't agree with their vaccine philosophy.) I actually really like the staff and Ike's pediatrician. I'm even a little envious of her. She's quite young (another thought on that later) and very stylish; her jewelry is always perfectly accessorized to her outfit and she wears cute shoes, like pointy high-heeled boots, and I feel disgracefully frumpy in her presence. I don't know how she gets though the day tending to infants and children without getting all besmirched.

On Thursday, I had a prenatal checkup. Baby (Blobby #2? Don't know what to call him/her.) is ticking along at 170 beats per minute. I was happy and relieved to hear the heartbeat, since the baby really isn't concrete to me yet. My waist is already gone but I've been attributing it to daily doses of pancakes and such. The surreality will probably cease within the next few weeks, when the little bug starts kickboxing in there.

My OB/Gyn is only about 8-10 years older than me, and his looks remind me somewhat of a youngish John Travolta. On my initial introduction to him about five years ago, I was suspicious, since all my prior experiences with doctors indicated that they should be older than your grandparents and not resemble any Scientologist actors. But he easily earned my trust. He is very talkative and likes to get all metaphorical and allegorical. I can't tell if he knows how goofy he is. I vaguely remember him trying to ease me into why my C-section for Ike was indicated; something about labor being a mountain, and he was a sherpa, but he could only take me so far.

At my last visit, the doc was explaining something I asked about luteal cysts. Dave had come along and taken Ike out for a breather, but he walked into the exam room mid-explanation. Afterward he asked me, "What was that about Pocahontas running around in your uterus with Phil Collins?" I'm pretty sure the doc mentioned neither, but close enough.

There's a place called the Bagel Beanery just down the street from the doc's office, so Ike and I went there for lunch after my appointment. Now, Michigan bagels are not like New York/New Jersey bagels, which are lush and plump, and of which I often wistfully dream. But Bagel Beanery bagels are pretty good. I recently discovered what a wondrous toddler food bagels are. Ike loves any sort of bready item, and it takes him a long time to chew through a whole bagel, giving me time to eat my own food or grocery shop peacefully.

Ike and I had a companionable lunch...until he suddenly snapped and threw a tantrum. I don't remember what provoked it. I moved his sippy cup a few inches toward the middle of the table? I didn't see it coming at all. One minute he was happily bagel-munching, the next minute throwing, kicking, that horrid back-arching, and crying all at once. I hauled him out amid furtive glances, not sure if they were hateful or sympathetic. I wrestled him into his carseat, and he zonked out almost immediately, in that enviable way babies have. I think maybe the onset of Daylight Savings time has fiddled with his sleeping habits a bit.

At the Bagel Beanery
A few minutes before Hulking out. The serious brows are from the chewiness of the bagel, not a signal of his impending rage.

At each check-up, Ike's stylish pediatrician sends me home with a pamphlet detailing something specific to his current age. The one we got at our visit last week was about tantrums and how they're normal at this stage. I threw it in the recycling bin right away, thinking "Pshaw! Ike is such a happy baby!" When I got back home after the Bagel Bewitchery, I rescued that pamphlet from the tomato sauce cans and milk jugs.