Wednesday, November 30, 2005

What on earth was God thinking?

Does anyone else find it extremely dangerous and outragous to send small fragile, incredibly shapeable and moldable babies home with totally untrained, unexperienced and new (as in a few hours new) parents? We've been at this a little over a year and I still think it is an incredibly risky tactic...

Brian's confession...

He was getting the bath water ready for Ivan and turned around to discover that Ivan had gone off exploring. The water was still running and Brian turned to see legs in the tub! Ivan had crawled head first into the tub with his clothes on! Forget that slow daddy! Ivan was on his belly, making swimming motions and getting his clothes all wet.

Angela's confession...

I was on the computer e-mailing when I heard Ivan crash and cry in the kitchen. I quickly got up and ran to soothe him, but when I took him out of the kitchen, he kept crying and fighting me. This went on for several minutes and I kept asking him what was wrong. I'm sure this infuriated him even more since he can't talk yet. Finally, I clued in that he fell in the kitchen, by the table, by the sippy cup! "Do you want a drink?", I asked. He instantly became happier, hopeful and delightedly relieved. Maybe there is hope after all for this mom. I mean, we've been through this many, many times before, but this time it only took her about 20 minutes while Ivan had to suffer the throes of parchness and misunderstanding. Ivan does have a back-up plan. I'm sure he fell trying to get on the table so he could help himself. Forget that slow momma!

Brian's bad influence...

We go to the Christmas parade and Brian can not resist yelling out protests to the float featuring an energy company which is increasing their rates this winter. Other parents say "hey kids, look at the horsies". Brian says, with dripping sarcasm, "yeah, merry Christmas to you too, thanks for the rate hike!"

Angela's bad influence...

Angela terrorizes the dog by chasing her with Ivan's walker, causing the dog to jump up onto the furniture to avoid the scarry mom-gone-crazy-crashing-in-to-me-with-the-walker combo. Ivan's humor must be like his mom's, because he found this totally hillarious.

So, what was God thinking?
-watch this guys, this will be hillarious. We're going to have ourselves some FUN these next 20 years or so.
-this will definitely help with their arrogant, we've got everything figured out attitude, they'll come crying to me in about 30 seconds.
-now they'll know how I feel when they are bone-headed with me!
-now they'll know how much I delight in their love to me.
-I can not think of a greater gift I can give these two: the joys, the surprises, the laughter and fun, the tenderness, the trials, the stretching, growing, learning and loving.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

our little socialite

Ivan loves the morning. Myka comes to play. He gets to have his favorite meal, breakfast. Then after naptime, he discovers that no one is there to play with him (apart from mom) and he asks (through yells) where the party is. " Are we going somewhere? I know there are people out there, we have to go find them!", he yells. I know this is what he is saying, because the other day, after nap and the Realization, we went to an appointment where there were kids and toys. I thought he'd get excited about the toys, but he barely even glanced at them. Instead, he did his best: "hello, how are you? I'm so glad to meet you" which at this point in his development comes out as "ahhhhhhhhhhhhhyahhhhhhhhhhhh" very loudly and excitedly, almost musically thrown out into the room. He looks at the other children with delight and expectation, of what I'm not sure! Does he expect them to yell back at him? It really doesn't matter what they do, he loves it. (Except if they hit or push him, which some kids do, especially, it seems, if they have older siblings. When they push or hit him, he gets this deep frown and look of "why are you doing that?")

Tonight, we took him to a parade. He was totally bored, and cold (it WAS near freezing). But then we went to the Big Brother's Big Sister's refreshments and party and he totally livened up. Of course he had some chocolate chip cookie and hot chocolate, so the sugar may have had something to do with it, but he was thrilled with all the people around. He walked and smiled and wooed the crowd.

So, the moral of this story is, or maybe rather it's point is that I either need to watch more kids, have more (working on that) or go places and do things outside everyday, no matter how cold it is. Brian made an interesting comment today. He said kids don't care if it's a bit cold, just the parents do. It's like as we get older, we become bigger wooses. I mean do you ever see a bunch of adults outside playing in the yard? But everyday, afterschool, our street becomes grand central kid's station. And Ivan knows it. So it's the kids, the outdoors, Ivan and I, checking out the world, breathing some fresh air and making friends.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Interpretation please!

Ivan is a modern baby. I said "hi" to him the other day and he cupped his hand over his ear. I couldn't figure out what he was doing, then Brian said Ivan was pretending to be on the phone! He has a play phone and enjoys "talking" in it sometimes with it facing the right way and other times not. Some babies wave when you say "hi", mine puts his "phone" to his ear!

It only just dawned on me how weird it is to have this little person to love and care for, who has his own feelings (joys, fears, frustrations), his own desires and ideas, but no words to communicate all this to us. He'll be whining for an hour at times before one of us realizes (ok, it's usually Brian!!) that Ivan is thirsty or something as basic as that. Poor boy guzzled his sippy cup when Brian gave it to him. Sometimes Ivan can make his needs known more easily. Like right now, he was screaming and reaching for his cup... ok, he's thirsty. At other times, he opens the cupboard, removes boxes of cereal, opens them and dumps the cereal on the floor for an impromptu picnic... aha, he's hungry! Sometimes we'll be playing on the floor and he will come up and hug me or one of the pets showing us his love.

As for language development, to all the grandparents and relatives, I gave you the chance to pick your own name, but Nana picked the easiest one, so I hate to tell you that Ivan is calling for her first. If it's any consolation, we're not sure if he's saying nana (as in grandma Nana) or nana (banana).

Here's one that has me stumped though. Ivan's cousins gave him a train set on a table with these miniature posts for electrical lines. Last night, Ivan would take a post in each hand, put them up to his ears, drop them and cry. He repeated this over and over again. I don't know if he was trying to stick them in his ears, or hoping they would just hover there, but he didn't like that they refused to stay where he'd put them. This mystery may never be solved.

Ivan had great fun in Houston for thanksgiving. He loved seeing his cousins and through some freak happenstance, he actually looks and has a similar personality to Christian, who is not at all blood related. We enjoyed playing darts. Ivan screamed and cheered each time someone threw a dart, no matter how well or poorly they did (now isn't that how it should be in sports?) We had incredible food, more than we could manage even though we stayed several days! It was fun seeing the beauty of Houston. The air is fresh and humid, the temperatures warm, the yards lush. We also enjoyed incredible countryside on the drive there and back. Incredible skies of blue with fluffy clouds, fields of gold, green or brown, pine trees (the Texas kinds) as well as leaf trees in their fall regalia. We had to travel out of town to catch a glimpse of fall, but I sure loved it, and needed it. The changing of the seasons is miraculous, although predictable.

I know this season of not knowing what Ivan wants will diminish with time as his vocabulary and charade playing abilities improve. Just as the holidays come and go and the seasons roll through again, this unknowing stage with Ivan will pass. But unlike the seasons, we will never come through this stage with him again. There is no day like today. Every minute he is learning, growing, different and we have the priviledge of walking with him as we too learn, grow and change. May we see the riches we have in each other and cherish them, for we will never walk this leg of the journey together again, tomorow is a new day. It's exciting and beautiful, but fleeting.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

the Ivan funnies vol.6

I caught Ivan experimenting with his echoing voice as he talked into the basket.

Poor dog can't get any peace around here!

Look up, look WAY up! (remember the "Friendly giant"- a canuck show from the 70s I believe!)

A big hug for you all the way from Texas!

Lazy dog. Saba, go fetch your own ball!

What a cutie! But careful of the claw!

Friday, November 18, 2005

Ivan guessed it first!

I just heard from Andrea in Germany who said she's heard rumors and wanted to know if they were true, so I better set things straight right here. Ivan's second word, after "hi" was "baby". This made me realize that he may know something we didn't. A week later, Brian and I were clued in with a home test and voilĂ ! We're about to be a family of four come July 10th or so! We haven't been to a Dr. yet. Our 1st appointment is Dec.1st. In the meantime Ivan is enjoying his last 8 months as an only child. We are excited. We wanted to have our kids pretty close together and it looks like we got our wish! I think we'll try to take a bit of a longer breather before the next one though ;) I am glad this birthday will be spread out a bit from ours. It seems like Oct.-Jan. is nothing but parties, which is not neccessarily a bad thing!!

So, to all you grandparents, aunts, uncles, adopted aunts and uncles, cousins... I hope you have room to love another precious miracle.

While we are at it, I guess we need another contest...

1) Is this a girl or a boy?
2) When will he or she be born?
3) What will the baby's height and weight be?

Big Buddy

Best friends can come in different shapes and sizes. This best friend is well seasoned, but lively and most definitely passionate about his little buddy. Mr Griffin is Big buddy (both Ivan's and ours). Little buddy is Ivan, of course. The names came because Big Buddy could not remember the name Ivan. He'd call him Calvin and Alvin and Brian, and only rarely Ivan. So we finally decided to use nick names, although Big Buddy still tries (sometimes successfully) to call Ivan by name.

Big Buddy brings a lot of tenderness, good food and companionship to us. We keep thinking that we will try to be a friend to him, but before I can get a meal over to him, he's sending back even more our way. I can't tell you the number of roasts, chicken legs, sweet potato pies, cakes... we've received. Plus, about once every couple of weeks (or more often than that) Big Buddy decides it's time for a fish fry at his house. yummmmmmmmm
Ivan just gobbles it up of course and not just the food. He loves to make his Big Buddy laugh and show off the new talents he's acquired. He wants to be right in the middle of whatever Big Buddy is doing and we are constantly on guard to keep the little one from all the dangerous, non-baby proofed, but oh-so-mysterious objects Mr Griffin has lying around.

Big Buddy sets his life goals by Ivan's learning potential. When we were pregnant, Big Buddy wanted to live long enough to see the baby born. When Ivan was born, he wanted to live long enough to see him crawl. Then he extended his wish to seeing Ivan walk. Now he can't wait for Ivan to talk back or fight with him. We're hoping that won't be for a very long time!!!

I've never known anyone like Big Buddy. But he reminds me a lot of the Lover. You can't outgive him, he's always watching out for our wellbeing, he loves us even when we are at our worst and puts our needs above his own. He's a true friend.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

The Ivan funnies vol.5

Mommy had some orange juice one morning and Ivan REALLY liked it. Here he is trying to drizzle every possible drop from the glass. He also checks the container for a possible refill source. You should see him with an empty yogurt container. It makes you wonder if the goodness of yogurt outweighs the inner stress it causes when Ivan finishes it. He takes the container and tries to stick his mouth in it (which always gets smears of yogurt on the bridge of his nose between his eyes). He puts his fingers down to the bottom in the hopes of finding more and almost figured out how to operate a spoon in his desperation. Then comes the really funny part. He lifts the container to me, gazes pleadingly into my eyes, does this screaming grunt thing and shakes his entire body. Perhaps you have seen other children do this aggressive full-body vibrating move. It's like your washer going crazy, only this is your little yogurt crazed child. All the while, I know he's trying to say "fix it mommy, it was so good. I don't know why it isn't coming out anymore, but there must be a way to get it to work again" I've even seen him checking our progress and getting anxious in advance... like "oh, no, it's happening again, there is less and less each time!"

Ivan was fiddling with the camera trying to press the buttons and, with some help, took his first picture. Ok, so he got quite a bit of help... but we think it came off quite nicely.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The joy of discovery

Sometimes we adults forget how fun it is to learn something new. Ivan and every baby and young child I know is totally enamored with learning, whether it be a new skill or fact. Take walking. Ivan took his first steps last week and has been steadily getting better at it. But what hasn't changed is that his steps are accompanied with his joyous cascading laughter. He gets such a huge thrill out of the power, independence and sense of adventure. Should we not be the same? I'm trying to learn Spanish. This is thrilling, empowering and allowing me greater independence and adventures. I love meeting new people of other cultures and I'm meeting more and more Hispanics. I'm getting to discover their ways of living, their food, traditions and celebrations. It is exciting! I should be bubbling over with laughter like Ivan, but so many times we hold it in. Well, no more. I'm at least going to say how happy and excited I am, smile more and give thanks for newness.

And I'll start right here. The other day, Ivan and I discovered something new or maybe really old. He was eating a banana and I was assisting. We were comfortable in the recliner, so when he'd finished eating, I didn't get up immediately to throw away the peel. That's when it happened. Ivan grabbed the peel and started playing with it, pulling at it and making it dance (which was pretty funny- insert laughing here). Then, of course, he tried eating it. As I explained to him that banana peels can not be eaten, that it's just the wrapper, I felt as though I was zoomed back in time to earth's early existence. I felt like the first humans wondering at the marvel of a banana, how amazing it is, how well packaged and delicious. I mean nothing man has made is as good. The peel preserves the banana until I want to eat it. It's easy enough for child, monkey or arthritic people to open. It's fully biodegradable, beautiful and even smells nice. It's full of nutricional benefits and brings healing to a body. This is reason to celebrate, to laugh, dance and sing. Over a banana, you say? Yes, over a banana! Over the love of the designer for us that he would offer such delights to us so easily. Over the thrill of seeing something so ordinary as beautiful and funny and adventurous again- just like you did when you came upon it the first time as a child.

And you know what else? Ivan even laughs when he doesn't get the skill down quite right. Today, he was walking towards me, but he wasn't balanced, so he walked sideways, laughing all the way! He walks with his arms in the air for balance too. Life is funny. Sometimes we adults just need to loosen up!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The Ivan funnies vol.4

Our little dominoe card shark. Ivan joins our game knowing that it is much more exciting than the stroller full of toys we brought for him. He selects mommies cards, as many as he can reach and artfully flings them all over the room. Take that you guys!

Ivan needs a closer vantage point from which to fling his pieces. The game got heated, so he's stripped down and rearing to go.

Ivan totally takes over. He doesn't understand why these adults continue to carefully place their cards and sit there staring at them when they can be banged and flung and eaten.

Talking about eating...

Ivan has started helping himself to the cereal cupboard. Sometimes he gets the bag out of the box and open. Here he figured he'd just gnaw his way through. He got a huge chunk of cardboard off too!

And... just in case there is any spillage, Ivan's ever-present-at-snack-time buddy, Saba, on perpetual clean-up.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Bungee cords, 3rd arm and improved tear ducts

Don't get me wrong. I think God did a wonderful job with the designing side of things, but now that I have insider knowledge of parenthood, I've discovered a few things that could improve the mothering experience.

All toddlers need bungee cords or some kind of rubber buffer around their body. As you know, Ivan is learning to walk. What some of you may not know is that this is not the dangerous part. Learning to walk has not caused any injuries, dramatic falls or alarming situations (for us anyways). However, as Ivan ventures forward in his mobility, he has become even more fascinated in venturing upward. Falling 1 foot unto a padded bottom, cushioned in a diaper, at times supplemented with various waste provides a comparatively soft landing. But recently, Brian came back into a room to find Ivan standing in his stoller, reaching over the top to get a water bottle over 3 feet off the ground. We can only imagine what could have happened if the stroller tilted back or if he fell through the top! Ivan has also mastered tunnels on the playground as well as climbing up steps. So I'm following him up some big steps and suddenly he dives face first down a tunnel slide. I quickly dove in after him, catching his feet, but not keeping him from doing a face plant down most of the slide. I've gone down slides with Ivan before, but always with us together going feet first. This was altogether different, filled with terrified screams and pain. If there were magical bungee cords, some kind of buffer zone or no gravity, this would not be such a great problem. On the other hand, maybe I just need to invent the full body covering diaper- provides padding and easy clean-up too!

Along the same lines, our tear ducts should coordinate with our pain sensors. When both are activated, our tears should turn into hydrogen peroxide when it hits air. This would be extremely useful. Ivan came home with a scratch and I had a raw patch of skin that both needed treatment at the park, but you can hardly find clean water out there, yet alone a medical kit! Actually, now that I think of it I probably have something in the car. But wouldn't it be handy if we could make our own?

My third idea is a little unconventional, but since Ivan was about 2 minutes old, I've discovered that moms should really have another arm grow at their first child's birth. It could weaken and fall off with diminished use, but it sure would be useful for a long time- like 18 years or so.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Dear reader

I had another "aha" moment, one of those spectacular times in life when you realize something that goes beyond the surface. The moment emerged as I received comments regarding this blog and is intrisically entwined in your reading.

Sometime during highschool, I discovered the joy and art of weaving words and content into successful papers. To me this was a very rewarding game. While I may have pleased or impressed teachers, my joy came from the fun of creating and knowing that I had written something excellent. The only thing I can compare the experience to is painting. When you have finished a work of art, you know it is done and a deep satisfaction wells up from its beautiful completeness. Except painting takes WAY more work for me than writing. Sentences can be spun out in fractions of time (and I like end products), whereas painting takes me forever (and I don't have much patience, which is probably why I should paint more!). It wasn't until this blog that I found some worthwhile purpose for writing. I mean, well written papers can get you a good grade, leading to a good letter for a class and eventually a degree, but so what?! How many MILLIONS of papers have been written over the years? I can just imagine the mounds of student work, some stunning, others lamentable, all sitting in the hallways of time collecting dust. The real worth of a paper or project is in what it teaches the student, not in what it shows the teacher.

I know the business world does not value your opinion of my writing to a high degree. You are most likely a relative, a friend or a friend of a friend. You could not be a reference for my resume, because your thoughts are of course biased. And not only are you be biased towards me, but my main subject matter (Ivan) gives me a decided edge over all the other bloggers out there. I mean, he is irrisistably cute, funny, handsome, developing, growing and gaining new skills as fast as our entertainment geared heads desire and he's many of your's grandson.

But there is no one to whom I would rather bring delight.

For the first time in my life, I can see that what I write and even how I write it matters to more than just me. If I can bring you even a small measure of joy, I am delighted. If I can share my heart and soul with you, I am enriched. If I can give you a glimpse of the miracle of our lives and motherhood, I am enthralled. If I can somehow express what a divine experience it is to know, love and take part in Ivan's life as his parent, then I have been given a gift to share pleasures from eternity. Perhaps by reading and thus sharing in our lives, you are allowed a chance to slow down, reflect and breathe in of Life's goodness. Ironically, I've never been one to journal much, but perhaps the fun of this unseen audience and this new medium has brought the impetus for reflection, pausing and drinking in Life's richness. We all win! You enjoy it, I enjoy it and most importantly it gives us the chance to grasp the incredible moments before they flit away with time.

So, thanks.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

GMS' prize!

He stepped, he stopped. We're trying to get a video, but Ivan thinks his big first day was enough for a while. So, we tell everyone he took his first steps and they want to see him walk, but he has other ideas. Oh well, all in time!

Here's the prize for having the closest guess to the question "when will Ivan take his first step?". GMS guessed Oct.31st, just one day off from the crowning moment. Creative and hillarious answers came from: Grandpa Ray who said Ivan has been walking in secret a long time while no one was watching and Auntie Lin who said he'd walk later because we will keep carrying him. Not that I didn't think of it, Lin, when my back about gave out leaning over to walk with Ivan our long 3 block street while trick-or-treating!

Costume time!

Poor Ivan... He'd had a hard day with too short of a nap, so he was crying as I tried to get him in his costume and make-up. But as the doorbell rang and kids showed up at the door, his demeanor started to change. He went from frowns to smiles quickly when he saw the kids in their costumes. By the time we started out, he was ready to hit the town. I'd go to the door and knock and holler and Ivan would holler along with me. He thought it was great that all these people found him so cute, gave him stuff and that we got to walk outside at night. We met many friendly neighbors for the first time and Ivan loved the candy, even in the wrappers!
Enjoy the pics!