Sunday, September 30, 2007

my three kids

Murray and Tango have grown accustomed to Gabe. I'd venture to say that Tango, in particular, even likes Gabe now. He will bring Gabe his bones and balls, and wait patiently for Gabe to pick them up. They play a complicated game where Gabe will hold the bone out to Tango, wait for Tango to grab it, then steal it back, then Tango takes it again, then Gabe steals it back, and so on. Both of them seem to enjoy the game quite a bit, and sometimes Tango will bring Gabe a toy, and watch Gabe expectantly wondering why Gabe doesn't participate immediately. Meanwhile, Gabe just hasn't noticed because he is engrossed in whatever he is doing. It is really cute. Really, really cute.

Murray, on the other hand, is still not Gabe's biggest fan. He will say hello to him in the morning, and will even give Gabe a couple of quick licks when he first sees him. Gabe has pulled on his fur a couple of times too many, though, and he is understandably wary of getting too close to the baby. So Murray's style is to just steer clear of Gabe most of the time.

This morning, the pooches were curled up on their bed in the hallway, and Gabe was crawling around while I brushed my teeth and straightened up the bathroom. I came out into the hallway and sat down on the floor in front of the dogs' bed, and Gabe made a bee-line straight over to me. After a couple minutes of playing, he realized that the dogs were within scooting distance and turned to say hello.

And Murray snapped at him. AT HIS FACE.

Now, I understand that the dog was on his bed. I understand that they need their own space. And I understand that maybe he was startled that Gabe came over to him while he was lying on his bed. BUT STILL. I was pissed. I grabbed him instantly and rolled him on his back while saying "NO" firmly. Then I sent him out of the room for a while because I was fuming. FUMING.

Murray wasn't anywhere near biting Gabe, and it wasn't even very close to him. Murray kind of turned his head to the side, slightly away from Gabe and then snapped at the air, almost as if he was warning him not to come closer. It didn't look like he was really trying to nip at him. It doesn't matter, though, both Tango and Murray have to understand that any biting behavior is totally, completely, absolutely unacceptable. Once Gabe is old enough to understand, I will teach him that the dogs need their personal space and that their beds are off limits, but for now, the dogs have to understand that if they don't like what the baby is doing, they need to move. Leave the room. Whatever makes them happy.

Any advice on this situation? Earlier this week I also saw Murray snap at Tango, so I'm mildly concerned that maybe he doesn't feel well or maybe something is going on with him, because generally they get along famously. I'm probably going to ask the vet about it, but I suspect this has more to do with crawling baby, annoyed dog.

Also, just to preempt any worries, Murray weighs 9 pounds and his mouth is so small he can't even get it around my finger. It is teeny tiny. Even if he actually bit Gabe, which I don't think he'd do, he really couldn't hurt him. We call him pinhead sometimes (behind his back of course, never in front of him), that is how small his mouth is.


Friday, September 28, 2007

9 months

Dear Gabriel,

I've been dreading this day for the last couple of weeks. In my mind, for some reason, 9 months seems so big. 9 months feels like you are less of a baby and more of a toddler. I suspect it has to do with the fact that today marks a turning point where you will have spent more time outside of my body than inside it. I cannot tell you how unbelievable that is to me. At least this milestone won't be marked by intense pain on my part.

It turns out that 9 months is an amazing age to be. This past month has been one of the most fun and most challenging months that we've spent together thus far. You are so busy and active and happy that I end up exhausted by the time you fall asleep, and by the time you wake up in the morning, I am dying to do it all over again.

This month you started crawling properly, with the legs and arms in synchronization. Initially, you did it slowly and methodically, and would look up at me with a smile on your face while you slowly made your way across the room. These days, you are much faster, and you slap your hands against the floor while you move, so that I can hear you coming from a different room. I miss your odd little frog crawl, though, and I'm so grateful that I have it on video so that when you leave for college, I'll be able to remember what it was like when you cleaned my floors with your stomach.

You also started standing, on EVERYTHING, this month. I thought that crawling changed my life, but standing is a whole different ball game. You stand on tables, on couches, on chairs, on pant legs, on walls, on anything that will hold you (and lots of stuff that won't). The other day you were standing up and exploring the items on top of the coffee table. I handed you a card, and you carefully took it in one hand, and then carefully held it with your other hand, and I realized that you were standing! With no support! No hands! And then ever so casually, you rested your elbow against the table and the moment was over. You didn't even notice that you'd done it.

You climb stairs unassisted. From bottom to top without pausing. You climb on top of the toys in the living room, and will climb onto chairs to get closer to the windows. The other day, I spotted you on the video monitor trying to lift your leg and climb out of your crib by using your Fisher Price Aquarium as a stepping stool. You go from sitting to kneeling to examine toys more carefully. You cruise the furniture and the coffee tables endlessly, mostly to be near the dogs. Basically, I have to watch you like a hawk. I'm grateful that despite your adventurous side, you learned how to sit down from a standing position right away, and you lower yourself onto your bottom fairly gently, so at least you're not bumping your head on the floor when you sit down suddenly.

You still love music and will dance to anything- music at the grocery store, elevator classical music, even the beat of the breast pump! You have a bit of an obsession with music class and you spend the full 45 minutes swaying from side to side and clapping along with the group. The whole class starts laughing as soon as you start dancing. You even shake the shakers along with the instructor!

One of my favorite changes this month is that you started to babble. You've been ahh-ing and ooh-ing for a while now, but this month you began chatting in earnest. You started out with "ba ba ba" and moved onto "ma ma ma" and this week in the span of three days you busted out with "ya ya ya", "da da da" and "pa pa pa". Your sweet little voice is music to my ears, and I spend hours out of the day responding to you and encouraging you to talk. I've been wondering if maybe it is a biological thing, because your little voice has got to be the sweetest sound I've ever heard. Your dad definitely agrees. He will sing the Beach Boys "Barbara Ann" to you incessantly to get you to talk back. Last night it even sounded like you were trying to sing along with him. He was so excited, I had to pry you away from him at bedtime.

This month we went to visit your Nonna and Nonno in California, which was torturous because you had to be away from your daddy for 2 whole weeks. I doubt he'll ever let us do that again, because all 3 of us were miserable apart. You adore your daddy and the feeling is mutual. One of my favorite parts of the day is seeing how your little face lights up when he walks in the door. I'll hold you up to the screen door while he is getting out of the car, and by the time he makes it up the walkway and steps, you are vibrating with excitement.

You're still a food fanatic these days, and we've moved onto finger foods, of which you definitely approve. You will focus intensely on the carrots or green beans on your high chair tray and it is difficult to get anything else in your mouth because you like feeding yourself so much. You will even use a fork if I put food on the fork for you. Somehow you know which end is the correct end, and you'll bring the food on the fork to your mouth before handing the fork back to me for a refill. We're even getting to the point where you are starting to eat some of the foods that we eat at dinnertime. At first I was so excited about this, until I realized that I'd have to share my muffin, and yogurt, and ravioli with you. I'm an only child, Gabe, I don't like to share food. It takes serious sacrifice for me to split all my goodies with you. This is additional incentive to not let you have any sugary things until you're older. I am definitely not sharing my cookies with you.

You're amazing and smiley and sweet and funny. You laugh all the time. I laugh all the time. I can't believe that this is really our life. I've never been happier. I've never felt luckier. I only hope that you stay as sweet as you get older, because then I can live with the bittersweetness of you growing up.

Everyone tells me to enjoy this because it flies by, and I'm trying. I just want to figure out how to slow it down. At least a little.

We love you bunches. Oodles. Too much for words.

[Pictures to follow, once my computer is de-coffee-ed. What? It's a word!]

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

his nonna is so proud

We hit a serious milestone in our family last night.

We're talking serious, people.

Gabe had his first gnocchi last night.

We're so proud.

Monday, September 24, 2007

my college sophomore

Gabe and I got back from California almost two weeks ago, and we're still in the depths of sleep hell. Gabe seems to have a slight problem with time changes and new homes and switching from cribs to pack and plays and back to cribs again. I don't know what his problem is, because I'm not having any problems sleeping. I mean, as long as you don't count the 8 month old screeching from his crib as a problem.

Before we left for California, he was doing pretty well. We were sleeping from 9pm until about 7 or 8am, when he would wake up to eat, and go straight back to sleep until 11am. 11am! 14 hours of sleep! Sure, he woke up for those 15 minutes at 7 or 8 am, but this was a small price to pay for 14 hours of sweet, non-screeching sleep.

Then we went to California, and it all went to hell in a handbasket, or whatever that saying is. He was getting up at midnight, and 2am, and 4am, and then up for the day at 7am. At each of these wake-up times he was desperate for milk, even though he'd eaten just 2 hours beforehand, and he didn't seem to understand that since he hadn't been drinking milk at 2am for the last 2 months, my boobs were no longer producing milk for the 2am shift. So there was a lot of screeching.

My mom would wander out of her room at 4am during these fits to offer helpful suggestions like, "Maybe he just wants to play for a while?"

I was desperate for him to sleep again. It felt as if now that I'd gotten a taste of life without sleep deprivation, I couldn't possibly go back. We were in California for 2 weeks, and two days before we left, Gabe finally started sleeping through the night again. 12 glorious hours of uninterrupted sleep. And then, of course, we left.

I tried to talk to Gabe about the fact that this was HIS ROOM, HIS BED, HIS SHEETS, so he didn't need to wake up 8 times a night. Apparently he missed the memo. The other night, between 12:30 and 2:30 am, I went into his room to soothe him no less than 15 times. I'd rock him for a minute, put him down, tiptoe out of the room, and 5 minutes later he'd start screaming. To make matters worse, he picked up a cold on the plane, AND he is getting 4 teeth at the same time.

It's been a long couple of weeks, that's for sure.

Having parents that live in California is difficult on so many levels, and this is just one of them. I want to go visit my parents and Josh's parents as often as possible, and I'm desperate for Gabe to know his grandparents, but this traveling is kicking my ass. Since Gabe was born, he's been to California 4 times and Florida once. 5 trips in 8 months! Plus, it seems like he is having a harder time adjusting as he gets older. When he was 5 months old, it took him a day to get back into his regular routine. This time, it's been almost 2 weeks and counting.

I'm tired, my friends, very very tired. Keep your fingers crossed that we'll return to our regularly scheduled baby who sleeps like a teenager.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

the safety pin is apparently out of style

I had a little bit of a breakdown last night when I finally faced my closet and tried to figure out what I would wear to temple today for Yom Kippur services. It wasn't pretty.

You see, I'm close to my pre-pregnancy weight. About 4 pounds away. 4 pounds SEEMS like nothing. It seems so doable. So reasonable. So freaking close. Still, though, those 4 pounds are the difference between fitting into all of my pretty clothes, and not being able to zip the backs of my skirts up.

Don't get me wrong, I have been feeling pretty good about myself these days. I don't feel frumpy all the time anymore, I've been phasing out of the "uniform" I purchased for the last few months. When I wear the pants I've been wearing over the summer, I find myself hitching up the waistline throughout the afternoon because they are (mercifully) loose on me. I even fit into some of my pre-pregnancy pants, a select few, but still, it's something.

Last night, though, I felt awful as the pile on the bed of skirts and dresses that didn't fit grew and grew and grew. I worked at a law firm up until December, and I had a lot of work clothes. Work clothes that I took care of, and dry cleaned dutifully, and picked out carefully. I don't even want to wear these outfits often, because spit up doesn't look good on the cream skirt suit, but I would like to wear them occasionally.

I feel somewhat silly even writing this post, because the weight gain has totally been worth it. I'd do it over a million times to have had Gabe, and I can't complain because I haven't been cutting out anything, and I've certainly been indulging myself in many a frappuccino and cookie and buffalo wing. I think it's time, though. I'm going to have to get off my butt and get rid of these last 4 pounds, and hopefully a little more than that.

My question is, what should I do? Should I go all-out and join a gym? Or should I start by taking walks with Gabe? Should I stop eating junk? Count calories? What has worked for you?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

it's all for you

Gabe is really motoring around these days. Up until last week, he had this elaborate frog crawl worked out. He basically looked like he was doing the breast stroke on land. He'd lift himself up onto all fours, belly off the ground, and then while bending his legs outward, would launch himself forward and land (hard) on his chest and belly. Somehow, he'd always perfectly time it so that he'd have an extra second to keep his hands under his chest and lift his head up, so that he didn't smash his face into the floor. It was scary to watch because you were convinced that at any moment his chin would slam into the ground and we'd be taking a trip to the emergency room, but strangely effective. He got pretty fast and could make it across the living room, through the front hall, across the dining room and into the kitchen, in the time it took me to run to the bathroom. Trust me, he was quick.

We spent the last couple of weeks with his grandparents in California, though, and his grandparents were oddly obsessed with eliminating his unusual crawling behavior. My mother would walk above him, hunched over, holding him up under his chest and trying to get him to crawl like a traditional baby. She'd also crawl alongside him, DEMONSTRATING, and then crawl behind him forcing his little knees to stay in the proper line of motion. This is a woman who hasn't done a lick of exercise in a couple of decades, so for her to be crawling on hands and knees beside Gabriel, meant true dedication. Her grandson would crawl appropriately, damn it, if it was the last thing she did.

I ignored her the first week, because it seemed hopeless to me. Josh and I rather love his unique crawl, and he'd been crawling like that for a month and a half, and the pediatrician assured me that this was his form of crawling, one amongst maybe 25 accepted forms of crawling. Sadly, though, one day last week, my mom was at work while Gabe and I played around at their house, and he began imitating her proper crawling motions as he chased after a ball I'd thrown. He still reverted to his frog moves when he was in a hurry, but as the days pass, he crawls less and less like the little frog we've come to love, and more and more like a real baby. This morning, I didn't even see the frog crawl at all. I'm the tiniest bit sad about it, to tell you the truth.

Even though he's becoming more proficient in the crawling department, he is definitely still a reckless little bugger. He'll launch himself off of the couch or try to throw himself out of our arms, often with no warning. The other day, I ran into the office with my morning coffee to log onto the Internet, leaving Gabe on the living room floor. It took me 3 or 4 minutes to turn the computer on, sync up with our wireless network and bring up my email. Out of the corner of my eye I saw movement, and turned just in time to see Gabe crawling head first down the step between the living room and the office. I pushed off of the chair to grab him before he flipped himself over. I was able to grab his arms and stop him from his slow motion tumble, and behind me I heard the sound of liquid hitting the floor. My stomach clenched as I made the connection of what had just happened behind me. I sat Gabe up and turned to see a full cup of coffee pouring out of the laptop's keyboard and off of the desk onto the floor. A full, large, hot mug of coffee. As I watched, the laptop made a squeal and a hiss before shutting down.

I lifted the laptop up as coffee poured out of the keyboard, and put it down onto a towel upside down to let the liquid drain out. I called Dell so that I could have my nervous breakdown with a professional on the phone, and they talked me through disconnecting the hard drive and all of the removable pieces, and drying it off as best I could.

I was upset about the computer, but what was really pushing me over the edge was the thought that ALL of Gabe's pictures are on that computer. And of course, OF COURSE, I've only backed it up through April. I know, I'm an idiot. The computer is off in the land of technical assistance right now, and the verdict is out on whether it can be repaired. The hard drive is safe and sound with me, and once we get the computer back, I'll be able to connect the hard drive back into the rest of the computer and we'll see whether the computer will live to see another day.

I'm able to sleep these days, because at least I was able to pull the pictures off of the hard drive and back them up. Thank goodness. I couldn't even imagine the alternative, so I walked around in denial for a few days until we were able to confirm that the pictures hadn't been fried.

I do these things as a reminder to all of you to BACK UP YOUR COMPUTERS. Probably you all already do that, because you're smarter than I am, but I like to think of myself as generous like that. I do stupid things so that you don't have to. You can thank me later.

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