Friday, January 9, 2009

January 8, 2009: Sweet Baby Faces

I was looking at Emet today, so full of life and promise. His little profile is still so sweet and round – pink, plump lips, almost always parted just slightly, ready for a babble, squeal, laugh, or a kiss; big round blue eyes; long, soft eyelashes, dark at the base, light from the middle to the tips; pale eyebrows constantly in an arch of inquiry, flirtation, or delight; pudgy, round cheeks, very kissable......ah what a face. Caleb, too, had such a face at this age, and his face does call to me still with its adorable, little boy innocence, always wearing his little heart right on his sleeve. Oh, how the heart of a mother aches – with joy, with pain, with every possible emotion, all stemming from the love for her children. I’m sure this never ends. It likely just moves from one stage to another, but a mother’s love will continue on.

I recently heard a story of a lady whose son was serving a life sentence in prison on the other side of the country. Every year, her and her husband would pack their bags into their car and take the journey out to California to visit their son with the only vacation time and money they had. For ten days each year, they would stay in his town, showing up daily for visiting hours and making it known to him they were there. Some days he would show up, others he wouldn’t. One year, he never came to see them at all. At the end of the visit, they packed their bags and headed back home.

Can you imagine this pain? Can you imagine what but love would drive people to love and give so selflessly of their own time and money? I can only imagine that it stems from that bond developed early on, in the moments looking at his baby face, sweet and round, so full of life and promise.........

On the move...
Emet is on the move! It took him a long time, from his first tentative step, to move into the world of the walking, but one day in mid December, I looked over, and there he was – arms to the front (Frankenstein style), flapping slightly as he trudged forward step after step. The farther he went, the wider his mouth got as he realized his accomplishment. I dared not say a word, for each time before, he only sat right down with praise. When he finally arrived to his destination, I cheered and he squealed with delight. Hmm...he must have taken 10 or so steps, and that was the defining moment – ever since then, walking has been the preferred method of transportation. It is interesting to parallel the observation of this somewhat rapid human development to any other area of growth in life. As an observer, you watch as this little child lays, then rolls over, sits, then crawls, one day standing and tentatively stepping forward. Once they start, they quickly get past the awkward arm flapping in a matter of days, each day moving more quickly and with ease, relying on their old methods (crawling) less and less. Once day – they’ll run. Each area of our lives are like this! Yet, we can see it so clearly in such a short period of time when watching a child. It is amazing!

One of our fun stages with Emet right now is watching him dance. He started this about a week or so ago, and gets his little “boom box” (a leapfrog learning box of some sort with letters, numbers, and a few little songs and beats), presses the buttons, then sets it down and starts bouncing up and down and wagging his head. There is no end of enjoyment in this for us! I think we could watch him for hours. Of course, then Caleb also starts giggling and dancing. I can’t imagine greater joy than this...the kind that comes from your very soul.

Emet is full of continual sounds, many of which are motor noises and gear shifting. (He is learning these from Papa and Caleb.) He also has a limited vocabulary of, “Oh”, “Go”, and a single word which can clearly be “Mama?”, “Papa?”, or sound like “Baba?” or “Wahwah?”. We haven’t yet determined how he is referring to Caleb or Greta (the dog). Samson (the outdoor cat) stays out of the way enough that Emet hasn’t likely noticed him.

Emet has just recently shown any interest in books. Caleb was much more of a book worm from early on, willingly sitting in your lap each night before bed, reading story after story. Emet doesn’t want to sit on your lap with a book unless he is completely in control of the book! (Not at all conducive to actually reading J). However, he has lately been headed over to the bookshelf, pulling books off to sit down and look at. Before when he headed to the bookshelf, it was a never ending “clump clump” until all of the books were on the floor. Caleb always joined him in this act with glee, that is until he found that Mama would make him put them all back. Now he too says, “Emet, no no. We only take one book at a time!” Each day before nap, the boys and I read a few stories. Caleb always picks his book(s) out in advance and heads over to the couch. Emet has recently started going to pick out a book as well and brining it over to Caleb and I on the couch....holding it out to me with outstretched arms. Given his newfound love of music and rhythm, I noticed that the early Dr. Seuss and Al Perkins books, such as Hand Hand Fingers Thumb, and The Foot Book, etc. are starting to be fun for him to listen to and see (so long as I read with rhythm!)

We haven’t really seen Emet do many signs, though very occasionally he’ll sort of do the sign for “all finished” or “get out”, but it is with extreme caution that he even approaches these, and for the most part would rather we do the signs – then he just makes his gear shift sound, which we have determined means “yes” in all cases.

The final note for Emet is that as he approaches his 15 month birthday this month, he will be ending a special time of bonding with Mama. We are down now (as of last week) to nursing once each day, right before bed. He seemed to transition away from having a morning feeding quite well. Funny, never in my life would I have thought that I – Ann Ordway – would have trouble in giving up nursing. I had approached the theory so pragmatically at first. I remember saying, “As soon as they are one years old, the very next day they won’t nurse anymore.” Now it is me that struggles with giving up this special bonding time....the last time my baby will receive nourishment from his mother’s body – something that started at conception in the womb.

Caleb is changing quickly as well, but these are changes you notice much more gradually over time. One day you’ll realize, “Hey – he doesn’t do that anymore!” He is such a wonderful little boy, and as he grows older and has more chances to interact with other adults and children, we are starting to get feedback from unbiased others as well. His most recent accomplishment of the past two months is that he is now potty trained – fully during the day, and wearing pull-ups at night, though most nights he emerges dry. We had been struggling with this for months, always dangling the “You’ll get to go to Sunday School only when you are 3 years old AND potty trained” carrot in front of him. That in addition to the “earning stickers towards ice cream” approach. However, nothing seemed to be consistent or a big enough draw to entice Caleb. With economic times getting tougher, we finally told Caleb that we needed him to help contribute to the family by not wearing expensive pull-ups and diapers anymore. He had been dry all day that day, so we changed him into a pair of “big boys” and there really hasn’t been any turning back since! There have been a few accidents, especially early on, but less and less as time progresses. Two weeks later, on the weekend following Thanksgiving, Caleb went to Sunday school for the first time and has been looking forward to it every week.

Caleb has been wanting to color lately and has started forming some shapes, still hardly recognizable, but he will say, “Mama, I’m going to draw a square”, or “....a letter”. Prior, he would draw something and most always say it was a dump truck. However unrecognizable it was, he would always show me the front, the back and the steering wheel! Now, when I ask him what he drew, he may screw up his face in contemplation and say something such as, “’s kind of like a sticker...” – shrug, shrug... J Funny, I wonder just how many of his facial expressions and shrugs he has inherited from us. Every now and then I’ll catch myself doing something that I recognize from Caleb.

Caleb also seems to be processing feelings, emotions, and information at a more mature level than even a few short months ago. He seems to be able to better control his temper, and drawn out temper tantrums are no longer a normal occurrence. You can reason with him quite a bit more, and explain actions and consequences. I guess he is just growing up. Nothing in the world makes him happier than going outside to “voomp” with Papa in the yard, and many a weekend hour he spends by Papas side. Papa will work wood or do other yard tasks, and Caleb is right there with him – wagon and dump truck hauling things from place to place. It will be interesting to see how Caleb views that in the future – whether all he remembers is Papa playing outside with him....or if he remembers doing “hard voomp” with Papa. In either case, I can’t imagine a better father than Jason – I feel so blessed to have him as my boys’ father, and they will become great men because of that.

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