Monday, June 29, 2009

Ready for the Lake?

I'm trying to get together a mental list of what I want to take to the lake with us. I need to make sure I have sunscreen and swim diapers, clothes, toys, and sippy cups. I should take a stroller, in case we want to (of COURSE we want to) hit the outlet mall.

I don't think I'm bringing anything to read, as I know there won't really be much quiet time with Elliot along.

I'm going back and forth on the Wii. We brought it down last year, and Karl shot a fantastic video of the beautiful, sunshiny day outside, and us playing Wii tennis in the living room. Hah. Maybe I'll consult with Brad and Beth on this one...

Either way, the physical baggage for this trip will be substantial. Overnighting with a toddler requires quite the carload of goods.

Then there's the emotional baggage.

I used to spend the 4th of July in Arkansas, shooting fireworks on my Uncle Jim's property. The first year Karl and I were dating, we were apart for the first time (we were sort of marathon dating...) over the 4th. That was the year Melissa's purse cought fire... Anyway, after that we spent the next 3 years with Brad at his parent's condo on the lake.

There are so many reasons I loved those weekends. The lake, the boat, the jet-ski, the friends and companionship, the Mexican train domino tournaments... but most of all I loved being there with Karl. It was always the closest we came to feeling like we did when we first started dating, because a: we were worlds away from any responsibility, and b: he didn't drink.

I loved Karl all the time, but he was a heavy drinker. When I met him, he was on a 9 month round of medication which did not allow him to consume alcohol. He had been drinking when we first met, but our courtship and engagement happened while he was sober, and that's the man I fell in love with.

When he started drinking again (before we were married) he changed - he wasn't quite as brilliant, quite as perceptive, or quite as loving when he drank. Karl worked in an intense and demanding field, and a few drinks at night helped him let go of the day's many stresses, but it also muted him a bit. No, not the volume - that went up, as anybody who ever met the "Mad Scotsman" knows. But it dulled his wit a little, and turned his thoughts inward, making him a little darker, and harder to really know.

So my favorite Karl I got to see once a year, at the lake.

I know I'll still look for him. I'm not at the point in my grieving that I've really accepted that he's gone, and part of me secretly hopes he's there, although I know (I KNOW!) he's not. I have a photo of him at the lake last year. I think it's kind of funny that he's fuzzy and bleary looking, and here I am talking about how clear he was... but that's the shot I'm thinking about printing up and taking down to put in the book at the lake.

That, and my flipflops, and my sun hat, and Elliot's spare bink (just in case) and his Giraffe for sleepytime. And snacks for the road, and water, and a few movies, and ....

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Another night away...

I shot a wedding yesterday for my former boss, and Elliot stayed with my dad and step-mom. I called to check in this morning, and found out all the women were out garage sailing, and L was tagging along. I've prepped him well for this, as we are often out on a Saturday morning looking at other people's junk, hoping to find our own future treasures... He did well, as usual.

He got to go swimming in the pool last night, and generally had a great time. When I went to pick him up, he did have the grace to acknowledge my presence before returning to play. Sometimes I have visions as I pull up to retrieve him - I walk in the door, and he screams and runs to hide. It hasn't happened yet, but I keep preparing myself. It only makes it that much sweeter when I get a big hug and a happy smile, even if it's only for a moment before he's back to his busy little world.

We're back home now, and he's crashed. Mawmaw and Pawpaw play hard. I was gone about 4 hours, and came home to a clean, dry puppy in his kennel, and he and Ajax have been playing all afternoon.

Good times.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Music is no longer on the menu.

On Thursday mornings, Elliot and I go to Music Together. It's kind of madness, kind of musical, and very fun. Elliot gets excited when I tell him we're going, and does his little chicken dance.

A lot of the songs include motions we do together with the song. One is about our fingers:

I have ten little fingers and they all belong to me,
I can make them do things, just you wait and see. (Waving fingers back and forth)

I can shut them up tight, or open them wide,
I can put them together, or make them all hide. (Opening, shutting, clapping, and hiding behind back)

I can make them jump High, I can make them jump low. (Wiggling fingers overhead, then by feet)
I can fold them quietly and hold them just so. (Folding hands in lap)

I have ten little fingers and they all belong to me. (Waving back and forth again)
Do you have ten fingers too? Let's see!

Then we count our fingers.

It's a cute little number, very popular with the kids. Last week Elliot started to mimic the hand movements a bit, and seemed to be enjoying it.

Last night at dinner he was getting tired and a little cranky, so I decided to lift his mood with a tune. This went well for one round, so he requested another. (He doesn't talk yet, but knows the sign for 'more' and uses it to say 'again' as well.) We were all smiles, up until we had to 'Make them all hide' on round two.

In his enthusiasm, trying to hide his hands as fast as possible behind his back, he managed to clear the entire contents of his dinner plate, sending everything flying to the floor.

Ajax (kitty) fled the kitchen, sure we were under attack. Finley (puppy), who had not been interested in the game till now, suddenly began a mad dash for scraps. I scrambled to contain the dog - and the mess - as quickly as possible, all without ruining the "Happy Mood" I was trying to encourage. After a quick whirlwind of scooping, scraping, and rinsing the mess, and dishing up a clean plate for Elliot, I collapsed back into my seat.

Elliot looked at me, grinned, and signed, "More?"

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A little story about reasoning with toddlers

A few weeks ago I was working on the computer and Elliot was over by the bookcase whining a little. His frustration level was clearly escalating, so I decided to figure out the problem and solve it so we could both have some peace and happiness in the afternoon.

When I went to investigate, I found he was trying to make a book on the shelf stand on end, and getting angrier every time it fell over. Despite his best efforts, he couldn't make it stand up. The problem was it wasn't one of those Webster's Unabridged size books, it was more like a hard bound magazine. Not an independent standing book.

I decided to make a little lesson out of this. I sat Elliot down, and pulled the book from the shelf. If he sees that I can't stand it up either, I thought, he won't be so mad. So I stood the book up on the floor, and it fell. I repeated.

Elliot frowned, and whined a little more.

Ok, I thought, he's not getting it yet.

"It's Gravity," I said, "Gravity makes things fall down." I let the book fall again, to make my point. Elliot seemed to be interested, but still confused. I pondered a better way to explain. I thought about Newton, and briefly considered dropping something on his head (Elliot's, not Newton's), but thought better of it. That could go very badly.

So I picked up the book, held it parallel to the floor, and let it fall.

"Gravity!" I said, with a little flourish.

A light came on in Elliot's eyes. He was getting it, I could tell. He'd quit whining, and was watching me with total concentration.

"See? No reason to be upset. Gravity just makes things fall." I dropped the book again, and smiled.

Elliot smiled too. He took the book and threw it, grinning even more as it hit the floor.

Lesson Intended: Some things are forces of nature, and getting frustrated with them is pointless.

Lesson Received: If you're mad at it, throw it! It'll make you feel a lot better.

Yeah. That went well.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Strange Dreams Again

No, I haven't given full custody to mom, but she did have him again last night. I bowled a little better than before, came home to a clean, dry puppy, and stayed up way too late doing stuff: changing aquarium filters, watering plants, tidying rooms...

Then I went to sleep, and had more anxiety dreams. Once again I'd misplaced Elliot, this time I was sometimes living with other families with 12 kids, and for some reason I had to take care of all of them, and couldn't find mine. When I did, he had become an infant again, barely crawling, and covered in bruises and scrapes, looking dehydrated and pathetic... Then I was paddling through a swamp, again searching for baby Elliot. Encountered many obstacles.

The cuts and bruises I know are a manifestation of my guilt over yesterday's tumble down the stairs. Well, not tumble so much as swan dive. Yeah. Somebody's got a bruise the size of Texas, and it isn't me. The swamp - no idea.

Well, I'm off to shop a little before retrieving the Bruised Boy.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Another night with Grandma

Well, last night there were no strange dreams - or none I remember. Maybe I'm getting better with this whole separation thing. Or maybe between falling buildings, drunk wedding parties, pooping dogs, and online addictions, I was so exhausted my brain had no energy to create dreams. Either way, today I feel pretty good about the idea of letting him stay overnight with relatives more. Now if only somebody wanted to take the puppy too ;)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Talking! Sort of.

Tonight Elliot said 4 words. As we were getting ready to go to Grandma's house, I was getting him a drink. "What's this?" I asked, and then said "Milk!"

He looked back at me and said "MMMiii." I'm going to call that close enough. Of course, he wouldn't say it again.

After we got home, we were in the tub, and I held one of his little basketballs up. "What's this?" I asked again, and told him "Ball!"

"Baah!" He said.


I also showed him a duck, which he called, well, a "Duh." Close enough.

Then I pointed to me. "Who's this?" I asked.

And he said, "Mum." And just to show me he knew his stuff, he stuck out his finger and poked me in the chest - meaning, I take it, "Yes, YOU."

I'm a happy mum.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Elliot (Heart?) Puppy

Well, he does love to interact with Finley, but his favorite game right now is steal the puppy's toy and put it on the table, where Fin can't reach. I'm not sure this is love....

Monday, June 15, 2009


Baby: Sleeping
Puppy: Sleeping
Mommy: Cleaned kitchen, put a away groceries, now taking it easy for the remainder of naptime.

Sibling Rivalry? Oh, yeah.

So Elliot didn't want to get dressed this morning. He ran away, fussed, and complained when I tried to put his shirt on. "Fine," I said, "Fin can wear it."

And he did.

Suddenly, Elliot wanted to get dressed.

And he did.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

A Boy and his Pup

Today we welcomed Finley Kopitske into our family. So far, Elliot has exhibited only slight sibling rivalry, and Fin has only acted a tiny bit like a pesky little brother. For the most part the boys are getting along great.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Mulanix Street Orchestra

We've had a band crashing here for a few days. Elliot has been quite enamored with them. He was sure to get kisses from everybody, and insisted on being allowed upstairs to try (unsuccessfully) to rouse them before noon. Didn't get any good pics of the band together, as they were out getting promo shots taken, and I didn't want to subject them to Jes the Photographer, but we had a great time. A few photos are up at Flickr.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Separation Anxiety

So the last few nights Elliot has stayed with my mom, I've had strange dreams about abandoning him in odd places. Once I put him in a shopping cart and let somebody roll off with him, once I was hanging out with a bunch of college kids and let him wander off into a lake. . . there have been lots of variations, but it really comes down to me feeling like I'm not taking care of him when I don't have him with me 24/7. I realize this is wrong and crazy, as it's no good to neglect myself and I need to take time to be me, and not just his mom, but still it's difficult to get past the feelings. On top of that, there's the emptiness of the house when he isn't here. I start to see a tiny glimpse of what the 'empty nest' may be. I don't like it. Not a bit.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Photo Day! Tool Elliot in to get portraits. Want one? Here's a selection...

Mommy & Me.

Elliot Rocks.

Smell My Feet!


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Mac Genius

So I'm importing some video footage from the last few months and I had to pick a drive to save the files to. Once upon a time, my computer was named Penelope. It seems that Elliot didn't like that name. He has re-named her l,koym,,,,,,lmmmmmmmmm./.; I'm really not sure of the origin or pronunciation, but it is original.

Overnighting with Grandma

This is the second night this week Elliot's stayed with my mom. I'm a little unsure how I feel about it. On the one hand, it's nice to know I could take a shower, or go outside, or clean, or whatever, and I wouldn't wake him or have to worry about him, but on the other hand, I miss him when he's not here. I missed him before I even got home. He would have been asleep anyway, but I still know when he's here and his presence is comforting. Even when his presence is screaming.

I haven't kept up here as I meant to, and I hope to do better. What better time to start than now?

Elliot amazes me. He has such a knack for figuring things out. He remembers things he's only seen a few times, even after weeks. For example, I pulled the little laundry sign off the wall, and he walked over to his door frame and stood with his back to the little measuring chart I've started there. Our last measurement was 2 months ago, and he was argumentative and didn't want to do it. This time, he remembered and cooperated fully. He can twist off lids. He learned this on a tube of lip gloss. I was taking my daily sleep-in (when he gets up before 7, I gate off the 'dangerous' areas of the house, and let him run wild. I sleep a little more, figuring he'll wake me if he needs me. Well, he woke me. His face was covered in glitter, and he was trying to put on more. He was adorable, and so excited, so I just went with it.

I'm making him a new sweater. It's brown with cables - I picked it because we just got back from Boston, and I hope to go back soon. It was a good trip, and the sweater reminds me of it. Hope it will fit!

The little monkey is growing fast. I look at him and see a little boy now, not a baby. He still doesn't talk, although he has said words. He had distinctly said "Kitty," "E-I-E-I-O," and "I get you" (i'm gonna get you!) at around 17 months. The other day he said "Mum." several times, but I think I got too excited and scared him. He hasn't said it again. He babbles a lot, and always seems on the cusp of speaking... I know he'll get there.

We've signed with him, and he does have quite a few signs he uses regularly. Milk, more, juice, fan, and done are his current regular signs. He has also tried to repeat cat at least once. I'm still learning myself, so it's slow going.

All in all I'd say he's doing great. Next week, tho, he may only get one night with Grandma. I just feel a little too empty alone in this big house.