Life as MommyMo

Monday, May 25, 2009

Time Flies

It's hard to believe that my first baby is already five years old. With a new baby in the house, I've been reminded of Sam as a little toddler so much that it occasionally takes me aback when I look at him and realize that he's definitely NOT a baby anymore. Not in any way.

Case in point: I commented to my now five-year-old son the other day that he was "so cute." He replied, "Mom. I'm not cute. I'm awesome." In case you're wondering, he's also not handsome. He's cool. And cheek pinching is no longer allowed. That activity is strictly for Baby Max these days.

We celebrated Sam's fifth birthday with all of his school friends, his cousins and friends from church at Bounce U. You have not seen mayhem until you've seen 27 children and quite a few of their parents bouncing around on two-story slides. It was so loud and so fun for Sam. I think he'll be talking about it for months. It was at this party, too, that I realized that while still a virtual bundle of energy, Sam is not necessarily THE most hyper child I know. I saw several others that brought new meaning to the word "rambunctious." It's all good when it's at Bounce U, where that level of noise and activity is encouraged. I can't imagine how certain parents deal with it at their houses!

We asked Sam before Bounce U what he wanted to do for a special birthday dinner. Incredibly adventurous eater that he is, he wanted to go to Chik Fil-A. Since they're closed on Sundays, we went right after Bounce U. He and Ethan still had energy for the playroom there, and were quite happy to have dinner at their own table. I had a flash whilst they sat eating on their own, with their own little conversation going, of the two of them ten years from now, happy still to be at a separate table from their parents.

On his "actual birthday" (which he was quite aware of, mind you) we took him to Toys R Us to let him pick out a bike. It was a big surprise for him until we got there. We kept telling him we had a surprise outing, but didn't say what it was all day. As soon as we got on the right road, he started shouting "I know!! I know!! We're going to Toys R Us." Good guess, particularly since he'd said earlier that he thought his special gift was a "one-legged ostrich just for me."

Once in Toys R Us, we walked around, telling him that we were there to get him a Barbie chair or a Blue's Clues sandbox or some other toy. He just kept rolling his eyes, humoring us until we unveiled the "real" present. He was totally excited when we finally arrived at the bike section and he got to choose a red Hot Wheels "big kid bike" that makes the loudest revving noise of any bicycle he could find.

Sam also learned that with age comes responsibility. We'd been preparing him for weeks that things are different when you're five years old. Specifically, we were referring to new rules for picky eaters. He even told us yesterday that "the rules change when you're five."

Idiot parents that we are, Mommy and Daddy didn't finalize every detail of this new set of rules before dinner, when Mommy had to run out for one last thing. While I hadn't intended to make his actual birthday the day we made him stick to trying new food, Rob took me at my word and told him he was eating hot dogs or hamburgers or nothing. I arrived home to find him in hysterics and my husband flustered at how to manage the new mealtime protocol. Knowing our stubborn child and his readiness for the new rules, we knew better than to give in completely, but we did *try* to compromise, telling him he just had to have one bite of a hot dog, then could eat chicken nuggets for dinner. It took 90 minutes of blood-curdling screams before he put the minuscule bite into his mouth, only to immediately vomit it all over his carpet.

Luckily, the kid was fine within 3 seconds saying "I did it! I tried a new food!!" Not quite a homerun, but at least it didn't ruin his birthday.

After some renegotiation, the new rules allow him to select breakfast and lunch foods, but Mommy and Daddy choose dinner. We haven't gotten there yet today, so we'll see how it goes.

In true Sam fashion he did ask if it was fair for him to get to choose twice while we only got one turn a day. We told him that we'd let him take more turns right now. He now believes he is a genius at tricking us into his sub-par eating plans. He'll rethink that later, I'm sure.

He also declared that he'd try a new food during one of his "turns" today. "I"m going to lick a carrot, Mommy!" Again, not what we were looking for, but we'll take anything we can get right now.

For those looking for a Max update here... He's still quite possibly the world's most complacent child. I don't think it's fear and adjustment at this point. I think he's just as mellow as they come. He's sloooooowly finding a sleeping pattern. It's helped that we've decided not to fight his need to sleep on someone for a while longer. We're also taking a few extra days to work on his bond with Rob this week, which we think will help the nighttime wakings that all seem to be about extra time on Daddy. When awake the kid is just a total joy. He laughs and smiles all the time now and intentionally looks to make us laugh. He also says "mama" meaningfully (though he really struggles to make the sound come out... it's funny to hear) and responds to his name. Little by little, we're definitely working it all out.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Daily Digi

I'm taking a break from my regular chatter about the Becker boys to finally be able to share some very exciting scrapping news. I was completely blown away to be asked to be a member of the creative team at The Daily Digi.

The site is a great source of inspiration for anyone who's a fan of digital scrapbooking... or wants to be. I have been a daily reader and avid fan of the site's owner (Janet Phillips) and her partner (Steph of Fontologie) for a long time. They both do a great job of what I've loved about scrapping since I first "discovered" it (thanks to Noel and more than a few nudges to "just try it.") a couple of years ago... They focus their scrapping on stories first and foremost. I love the creative aspect of scrapping for sure, but the real reason to devote so much time to this hobby is to be able to preserve family memories.

I'm still not quite sure how I got included in on the fun, but I won't talk about it anymore, lest someone decide they had me confused with someone else.

I can be so lighthearted about all of this for another reason, too. Max slept through the night again last night. I will never cease to be amazed at how much your perspective on life can change with a few solid hours of sleep under your belt. I haven't been *that* deprived, in all honesty, but as both a light sleeper and a worrier, I have been going to bed each night, wondering how often Max will wake up and then waking up myself, convinced I've heard crying. My head hit the pillow last night, though, and I don't think I moved a muscle for at least another six hours. I recall waking up for a second, smiling to myself that the house was still quiet,and sleeping again until 5:30 this morning. I even had a chance to get out of bed, check my email and start to get ready before either of the boys made their first noise. It was heavenly.

All of the stress about Max's sleeping is really just a component of our overall worry about his adjustment. I think we've seen great improvement in the last week or so, in part because we decided that we needed to take a few steps back and "shrink his world" for him. He's so easygoing that we became lulled into thinking he was more portable than he probably is. He needed more time to get comfy at home, we think, before being exposed to too many people. That's meant that we've had to miss a few activities that we'd otherwise have been a part of (like our church picnic yesterday) but all because we've come to realize that while he might not cry when well-intentioned people gush over him, it's stressful to him.

Let's see... What else has happened over the last few days? Oh yeah. I officially became acquainted with my mid-thirties. My sister asked more than once if I was upset about turning 35. I am not exaggerating one bit when I say that I am not. I swore on Oct. 18, 2002 (the day after my world changed forever) that I would not take another day for granted. I really do try to do that, hard as it can be sometimes. It's never hard, though, to be grateful for another year surrounded by the people I love, getting to do what I love to do. A few more grey hairs or any other outward sign of aging are no match for still being here to earn them!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Sleeping Woes

We think we may have figured out what was wrong with Max's sleep, and I feel like I totally rotten mommy that it took so many days. Particularly since both my mom and Kim had suggested it earlier in the week and I just didn't see it.

We'd been pretty sure he was grieving again and having a hard time adjusting to Rob's schedule. We were happy to have a weekend to give them some extra, intensive bonding time, hopeful that it would help move things along. Rob spent a few extra hours with him on Friday, and he did sleep a bit better on Friday.

Yesterday, however, he was having trouble napping again. By nighttime, he was practically falling over himself from exhaustion, but was resisting sleep in his crib.

Now, both my mom and Kim suggested his problem might be gas since he hated being on his back and seemed inconsolable in the middle of the night. I chalked that up to overtiredness and was giving him a third nap each day. Last night, we went to take him up to bed, and Rob noticed that he seemed warm. He did have a fever of 100.4. We gave him ibuprofen, sure it was related to teething. As he was having his diaper changed, he let out a noise I've never heard from a human before, particularly one so small. I was at his head, Rob at his feet. I instantly thought he'd had an explosive poo experience, because his body sort of popped up down at that end. Rob said he heard a burp as part of that little show, and was sure he was going to spit up.

We sat him up and waited to see if anything else would happen. He cried and cried, but also kept belching. As sad it is to see him uncomfortable, I'm a bit like a preschool aged boy myself, in that I find baby burps hilarious for some reason. My mom tried a "colic hold" on him, and he instantly calmed down. We sat him back up, he did the crazy noise again, and spit up a bit. We laid him back down on his belly across her knees, with me at his face, trying to help comfort him. All of a sudden, he just went to sleep. You could see on his face that he'd gotten relief and was just relishing finally being comfortable. I laid him in his crib and checked him numerous time to be sure that his temperature was ok. Each time, he was sleeping like what he did when we first brought him home. Soundly and deeply.

We spent the rest of the evening talking about this little episode, realizing that the timing of his insomnia perfectly coincides with his change in formula. Rob ran out to get him a can of formula that he'd been on before that with no troubles. We're really hoping that going back to a different formula makes him more comfortable and brings him some rest.

It's really a testament to what a sweet, calm, mild-mannered child he is that he's probably been miserable for a week, and his only real evidence is resisting sleep. At that point, he was too tired to do anything but cry. Can't blame the kid.

An amusing bit of our sleuthing discussion was a serious, 15-min. discussion about the child's poop and burping habits of the last few days. It struck me as we finally went to bed how different people's lives can be. My sister had been here for a visit, and we finally told her dessert wasn't happening since we had to figure Max's issue out. She got dressed in her "going to town" clothes and headed out, probably to remain out with friends until 5 a.m. We, on the other hand, compared notes about how foul Max's burps had been (which didn't seem right in retrospect) and how frequently the child would poo.

I'm sure this has been an entirely boring post for anyone else, but on Mother's Day, it makes me realize that it's the little things about raising kids that bring both joy and satisfaction. I'm not thrilled with myself that we didn't read the signs earlier, but there is immense satisfaction in (hopefully) being able to fix something for an otherwise helpless little person. I can look at Max and Sam together, see how happy Sam is four years after coming home, and see that we can overcome any issues as a family and hopefully have happy, well-adjusted children as a result.

To all my mommy friends, have a GREAT Mother's Day! I know I'm happy today, just being able to look at my TWO beautiful boys!

Thursday, May 07, 2009


That would be the sound of the other shoe dropping on our idyllic adjustment to life as a family of four. Don't get me wrong. I am happier than I thought I would be. I find myself less stressed parenting two children than I did just one somehow (admittedly, this could be the absence of work responsibilities right now) and am happily devoting my days to Baby Max's every whim.


Remember when I said we had set some sort of adjustment to the new life record? While his achievement in switching to Eastern Daylight Time remains a commendable feat, poor Baby Max is definitely still trying to figure out what his new life means.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. The trauma that any child adopted in this fashion and at this age goes through is unfathomable to me. He woke up on April 21 in Korea, ready to go about his typical day, and found himself whisked off to the agency office, handed to a strange man, taken to an airport, placed on three different airline flights and then passed off again to people who look and sound nothing like anything he's ever known. I'm almost 35 and can't imagine how I'd react to such upheaval. In that respect, Max and Sam are both stronger people than I can probably ever hope to be.

So... back at the ranch. Max is a happy, sweet, snuggly little guy who, most of the time genuinely seems to like his new family and all of the antics that he's happy to sit back and quietly witness. When it comes time to sleep, though, a switch gets flipped and his grieving kicks in again. It's been convincingly explained to me that he's probably at a point where he realizes this situation isn't changing, that he likes us and thinks he can trust us, but he's perhaps a bit fearful of drifting off to sleep. In his little mind, who knows what could happens while he's sleeping?

We are just doing our best to comfort him, letting him guide us as to what he needs. Luckily, he's pretty much a textbook baby from what we can tell. He eats, poops, and plays at regular intervals. He is happy as can be when he's awake. He fusses when awake only very quietly and when there's a genuine need. When it's met, he's immediately happy again. We couldn't ask for a better transition in that respect. At night, he seems to need Rob's attention, which we attribute to his being back to work during the day. He's decided that he knows my role, it would seem, but he still needs reassurance as to when and how Rob takes care of him.

Given the serene, almost Zen-like child he's proven to be so far, I'm confident this, too, shall pass. It still breaks my heart to see him grieve, but I remind myself that it's because he was well-loved in Korea and that in time, he'll continue to find security as a Becker.

Monday, May 04, 2009

On Our Own

For some reason, today really feels like it marks the first part of my unassisted stay-at-home (albeit temporary) mommyhood. I had only one solo day last week before my mom took a couple of days to lend her capable hands.

About an hour ago, Rob and Sam left for the day, and Max and I are going to work on settling in to our own routine. We had a pretty decent schedule going last week, but I think the changing of the baby guard might have been too inconsistent to make it stick. I'm going to stay home with him for at least a couple of days by myself so that I can figure out his rhythms and hopefully get him on a regular nap schedule. It's amazing to me how quickly life went back to being scheduled around the crib!

Sam was a good napper from the very beginning. The kid still needs his sleep and will nap three hours once the arguments about whether or not he really needs the rest have ceased. Max can take two 90 min. naps on a good day, or, on days like yesterday, opt to just snooze for 20 minutes after fighting us for 45 min. before. Because we're still so focused on attachment, I don't let him scream, which means we muddle through, and try to squeeze in sleep while we can so he doesn't turn into a raving lunatic.

The best part of the weekend was definitely the progress Big made with Little. Yesterday was, dare I say it, whine-free when it comes to Sam complaining that Max gets ALL the attention and no one EVER talks to him. He was downright pleasant with the baby and even snuck downstairs before nap to sneak in an extra kiss. It was super cute. I got a glimmer of mommy hope that my two boys will be the best of friends and will spend their childhoods skipping through meadows, while rainbows paint the sky. Too optimistic too soon?