Friday, January 28, 2011

Bye Bye Binky

Before Patrick was born, Angie and I hadn't discussed in detail our plans for his pacifier use. We just kinda figured we'd play it by ear and follow his lead. Then, after Patrick was born, every lactation consultant that came to our hospital room warned us of the myriad dangers associated with pacifiers, each more terrifying than the last. Things like speech delay(!), ear infections(!!) bucktooth syndrome(!!!) (BTS as I call it. They never called it that.), NIPPLE CONFUSION(!!!!), and the list went on. Naturally, we left the hospital with the idea in mind (and fear in our hearts) that we'd refrain from using a pacifier. However, mere days into Patrick's life, as we sat waiting for the pediatrician at Patrick's first appointment, and Patrick sat in his carrier crying his little heart out with no amount of "it's ok sweetie" or Twinkle Twinkle Little Star helping, we popped the paci in his mouth. He quieted right down and fell asleep. Angie and I looked at each other and said, "Well, I think that answers that."

Since that day, Patrick has used a pacifier when he goes to bed. We didn't let him walk around with it all day while he was playing, because he didn't need it. It was just something he used to soothe himself before drifting off to sleep. It worked marvelously. The combination of his blanky and his paci signaled his body that it was time to shut down. We loved that. But, all good things must come to an end, and so, the day before Patrick turned 2 1/2, we pulled the plug on paci.

We had been preparing him for it for a few weeks. We told him about how he was getting to be such a big boy that he didn't need the pacis any more and pretty soon we'd be sending them to the babies so they could use them. After a week or so of subtly slipping that into conversation, he started talking about it on his own and seemed pretty cool with the idea. On the big day, Angie got out a large envelope and a bunch of stickers and markers and had Patrick decorate it. This would be the package we used to send the pacis to the babies. He was really excited about the whole thing and loved decorating the envelope. That afternoon, when I got home from work, we mailed them (and, of course, he wanted to where his "pirate sleeves" from the Garitys (really supposed to be leggings for Madelyn) and his "dragon hat" from Uncle Jonathan, who happened to be at our house that afternoon hanging out)...

Heading to the mailbox

Making sure the pacis are all there and helping me seal the envelope

One last look...I think he's realizing what's happening :)

The drop
 Once the pacis were in the mailbox we came back inside and told him what a great job he did and how happy the babies would be to have new pacis. Then Angie snuck out and dropped off the gifts the babies were giving him back at the mailbox (a big plush Diego, a small plush Baby Jaguar and a new Diego Tag Reader book). A few minutes later, he spotted them and we went to check them out...

"Umm, Babies, whachoo leaving me at my mailbox?"

I wish this picture was in focus. He was so excited.

"It's sooo big!!"

Happy Dance!

That night, we let him stay up a little later than normal and have popcorn and watch an episode of Diego (what else?) after Maddy went to sleep as both a special treat for being such a big boy and a way to tire him out so hopefully he'd go right to sleep despite being paci-less. He slept great that night. No fussing at bed time, only asked about the pacis a couple times and didn't wake up at all through the night. In the morning I looked at Angie and said "No way was it that easy...". And, for once, I was right about something :)

Nap time the next day did not go nearly so well. He cried and yelled for about 45 minutes before talking himself down with the cutest/saddest story ever told in which The Mailman hears Patrick crying, goes and finds The Babies and explains to them that Patrick needs his pacis back and then triumphantly delivers the pacis to Patrick's bed. It's the roughest 45 minutes of parenting I can remember in a while. At one point, I came downstairs and Angie was making dinner and listening to him on the monitor crying over and over "Mooooommy! Help meeeee! Pleeeaaaaase!" I decided it was best to turn the monitor off for a few minutes to give Angie a break from the torture. Right as I was about to turn it off though, he started saying "Daddy was here...and then he left me...but I'm still cryyyiiinnnnggggg! But, but, he just left me. But, Daddy, I'm still in here cryyyiiiiinnnnggggg!" It. Was. Terrible. It took everything I had not to simultaneously fall down right there and run up the stairs to go hug him till he was 18 years old. But, Angie and I restrained ourselves and he eventually fell asleep. When he woke up, he never mentioned the  pacis or how we left him or how we should start saving now for his therapy sessions to deal with his unavoidable abandonment issues.

Over the next few days, nap times got increasingly easier with the crying time cutting in half each day. It worked out great that the following week was the snow week because it meant both Angie and I could take a little extra time with him to put him down for nap while the other one of us watched Maddy. The first few nights of being without the paci, Patrick didn't cry but did talk. A lot. One night we put him down at 7:15 and heard him still talking at 9:30. But, that has stopped now too. He still has rough nap times occasionally but all in all it only took about a week to feel confidently out of the woods.

We're so proud of our little guy for giving up something he's used for that long. That has to be a huge change. We're also really proud of Madelyn who never woke up once; even with all of his talking and sometimes crying over that week. She was such a trooper going right to bed when we needed her to and letting us spend a little extra time helping Patrick get used to life without paci.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

In the Valley of the Sun

At first I was hesitant to accept an invitation to attend a medical conference in Phoenix, Arizona to learn more about a new treatment for ovarian cancer. It meant being away from the kids from Thursday afternoon until Saturday night. And more than that, being across the country from them. I reasoned that I would only not see them for one full day. They can handle that (but could I?).

So here I am, on the plane ride back to Atlanta recalling a few things I've learned or  have been reminded of in the last couple days...

I am not fashion forward in the least. The evening of the first day we arrived there was a welcome dinner on the terrace of the Ritz Carlton, the hotel where we stayed. It was an exquisite dinner with a breathtaking view of  the sun setting behind the desert mountain ranges. There was excitement in the air as we all chatted about the first few patients that  had been treated with this new cellular therapy. I am not sure what I had expected but I can honestly say it did not occur to me that it would be a fashion show of sorts. The women were dressed in all kinds of crazy cool dresses and wraps.  As we made introductions I realized that all the savvy looking men and women were from different parts of Europe and Australia. You could definitely spot the people from the States! Note to self: consult Abbie prior to attending another one of these thingamajigs.

We mommies love to talk about our babies! It's always cool to me how quickly women can bond while gushing about their children. I instantly clicked with a few other mommies from New York, New Jersey and Australia. They are all smart, hilarious women and wonderful mothers. I am in awe of moms that work full time. I don't know how they do it! After the conference our little group went to dinner and then hung out at the pool  laughing and swapping stories about our children and husbands. Most of them had teenagers or older so I got to hear lots of words of wisdom for the years to come.

I love my job. Meeting and working with people who are passionate about cancer patients, finding the next, best treatment and improving quality of life in those who are living with it is an honor.

I can still run. Kind of. Before meeting the ladies for dinner I set out to run 3 miles. My dad told me a long time ago when I was starting to run for distance to find a pace slow enough that I felt like I could run forever. I won't tell you how slow I went. Just know that it was SLOW. I hit my groove and ended up doing 6 miles. Then I nearly died. I miss running. I miss playing mind games to push myself to go further, challenging my body to go another 10 minutes and another and another. I miss pushing through that concrete wall until all at once I feel light and rhythmic, like I could run, well, forever. I missed it so much that after hanging out at the pool with the girls, I went back and ran two more miles.

Room Service Rocks.  The ultimate in laziness (and awesomeness), room service takes a close second on my list of my favorite ways to be spoiled (first on the list is a  full body massage). The best part is someone else has to do the dishes. I heart room service.

My husband is pretty incredible. He encouraged me to take this trip from the moment I first  mentioned it.  And even though it meant doing baths, bedtime, making lunches, and taking the kids to the grocery store, breakfast, a birthday party all by his lonesome (and somehow squeezing in time to play drums at a friend's wedding and then bolt as soon as it was over to get me from the airport) it didn't seem to phase him. But that's why I married him, simply put: he's the best!

Nothing, no matter how good it is, compares to time with my kids. I can't wait to get back home to feel Patrick's face press against mine as I scoop him out of bed in the morning and say, "What craps (crafts) are we going to do today, Mommy?" And to see Madelyn's sweet smile as she carries a book over and clumsily climbs into my lap.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Maddy Sled

By the time we got to Wednesday of this week's snow, the top layer had iced over. It was still a thin enough layer that when you walked, your foot would go through. But, if you're Patrick, it seems like a good way to try out being a penguin...

Patrick slid around on his tummy yelling "I'm just like a penguin Mom and Dad!" and "Look Maddy! Do you see I'm a penguin?!" for a good part of the afternoon. Madelyn of course wanted to try it out too because anything Patrick does must be worth doing. Since she was all wrapped up in her snowsuit though, she couldn't really move. So, instead, this happened...

She seriously loved doing this. You can kind of see in the second part of the video where she sticks her little foot up so I'll grab it. Madelyn would lay perfectly still the entire time she slid down and then when we got to the bottom she'd giggle and try to move herself down more or put her foot up so I'd keep pulling her. Who woulda thought? We got some better video today (i.e.; not taken with my phone in MMS mode) and I can hopefully put together a video of the last couple days of snow along with the pictures.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Snow Buddies

I'm trying out updating the blog from my phone. Here are two pictures of our sledding pals after a fun run down the driveway.

They've been having a blast sledding, making snow balls and snow men, making tracks in the snow and just sliding all over the place in general. More pictures from a real camera coming soon...

Published with Blogger-droid v1.6.5

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Walking Stick Pig

Madelyn took her first steps around 10 months-old but it’s only been in the last week or so that she started to prefer walking over crawling as her mode of transportation. She does the typical wide-stance penguin waddle; starting off slowly then getting faster and faster as she gains confidence. When she sees Patrick running toward her in excitement she drops quickly to the ground in fear for her safety. He rarely knocks her down intentionally; he is just soooo excited she can walk. “Chase me Maddy-O'Cakes-E-O,” he’ll call out as he runs away, looking over his shoulder to make sure she is following him. If Patrick is sitting on the floor, reading a book or playing quietly, Madelyn will toddle over and tackle him to the ground, squealing and giggling all the while. I must say she is quite scrappy for her size! Then they roll around on the floor laughing and cuddling.

Here is a video of our little Birdie walking over the last week:

Madelyn has a few nick names: Maddy O'Cakes, Birdie and now, Stick Pig. Lately Patrick has been very interested in the story of the Three Little Pigs. He got this book for Christmas from Meme and Papa and has loved reading it and, more recently, acting it out. The first time he wanted to play-act he assigned us parts, “I’m da brick pig! Mommy you be da straw one. Mad is Stick Pig and Daddy is da BBBBIIIIGGG BAAAADDD Wolf!” (Roxy is Toby’s understudy when he’s at work. She takes her job very seriously.). “C’mon Stick Pig! Let’s go build our house!"

Here's a video of the kids playing Three Little Pigs with Toby. Evidence that little ones don’t require anything more than a cardboard box and an imagination to make them ridiculously happy:

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Christmas Eve and Day

Happy 2011! This means I'm officially really late in posting about Christmas Day. So let's get down to it...

The last two weeks have been really great because I've been able to work from home. With everyone trying to fit in their remaining vacation days at the end of the year, work has been pretty slow; which meant we got a lot of good family time in. It meant that the couple days leading up to Christmas were pretty relaxed for the most part too, which was awesome. Other than everybody having a really annoying cold, it's been a fun two weeks. We're excited about Christmas every year but this being Madelyn's first Christmas just made it that much more special. And, having two kids on Christmas seems to double the joy and excitement. Needless to say, Madelyn loved Christmas and we loved watching her and Patrick enjoy it. The day was made even cooler by getting several inches of snow.

Christmas Eve, we had a really relaxed morning just hanging out around the house and playing. Then we went to the 4 PM mass at church then over to Grandma and Grandpa Flowers' house for a little dinner and hanging out.
The cool part about going to church was that Patrick and Madelyn sat with Angie in the main church for the first time and not in the cry room. Overall, from what I'm told, they did well. Patrick is still learning about his "inside voice" and of course had a million questions ("Why is that man up there talking? Mom, what did he said? Why are we all supposed to listen? Why are we holding hands?") but the church was very full and louder than normal anyway so I don't think many people noticed. I also thought it was cute that when we sang Silent Night after Communion, both our kids got very sleepy. We've been singing that to them for the last month at bed time. It's comforting to know that good ol' fashion Pavlovian conditioning still works. After dinner, we came back home and I read The Night Before Christmas to the kids before putting them to bed. In between Madelyn pulling her brother's ears and trying to steal his milk, it was a very sweet moment :)

Christmas morning, the kids woke up and we made them stay at the top of the stairs while I came down to setup the video camera and enjoyed the last few moments of calm. My Dad used to do this to us every year growing up. We would wait in anticipation for him to say it was OK to come down; all of us trying to sneak one step further down the stairs without anyone noticing, as if there was a prize for being the first to see the presents. Patrick was no less eager than I always was to come down and see if Santa had paid a visit. He did his usual evasive maneuvering by asking questions and talking a lot while he tried to sneak down. When the kids finally made it to the family room, it was pure joy to watch them. Patrick wasn't sure where to start at first and Madelyn was just excited because she could tell everyone else was. Their big gift this year was a mini kitchen. It was the first thing Patrick opened and I thought we might not get to the rest of the presents once they started playing with it. The mini kitchen also has a pretend phone in it and the first thing Patrick did when he saw the phone was pick it up and make a call to Santa to say thank you for the stove. It made us proud he thought to do that in the middle of all the excitement. We took the rest of the morning to open the other gifts, have breakfast and play with all the new toys.

Christmas afternoon we went over to Grandma and Grandpa's house where there was apparently a Christmas present explosion. It seemed like every inch of their family room was covered in gifts for the three grandkids. Obviously, the kids LOVED it and we all loved watching them. Seeing Patrick, Carson and Madelyn together just makes me happy. I get excited for their futures and imagine looking back at pictures and videos from Christmases like this 15 years from now and marveling over how little and cute they were. The three kids tore into their gifts and took breaks every once in a while to wander over to one of the other ones to see what they were getting. Present opening was followed by an amazing dinner  and lots of fun and laughing together. As Angie and I were bringing the gifts in from the car that night, we were still discovering gifts the kids received and kept saying things like "Oh my gosh! I didn't see that he/she got this! How cool!"

Because I'm an idiot, I packed up both our regular camera and video camera in our spiffy new camera case then promptly drove away, leaving the camera case on the coffee table. I was trying to wait to pack the cameras till the last minute so I could charge the batteries to make sure we'd be able to take tons of pictures. That didn't work out so well. Luckily, Katie and Brandon were kind enough to also take pictures of our kids opening presents and then share them with us. So, any pictures you see from Grandma and Grandpa's house were donated by the Beans. Thank you again Katie and Brandon! Here's the slideshow or blah blah full gallery blah blah...