Monthly Archives: November 2011

deliver me from november

I suppose I ought to write something before my big gigantic flop of a NaBloPoMo attempt is officially over. I really don’t know what happened. Actually, I do. I became really tired of reading my own complaining, so I stopped. It’s been a really crappy month, and I’m glad to see it making its way out the door. Between little sleep, several illnesses, surprise cat surgeries, and more, I’m just ready for some easy–not that I think that is coming. Anyway, here are some final snippets from November:

Our boy is still not sleeping, and when he does, he also sleepwalks. The other night, just a couple of hours after we put him down, we heard his door open, heard his little sleeper feet run down the hallway. He hurried into the living room, grabbed my water bottle, and ran back to his room where he laid down with it and hugged it. At some point in here, I had attempted to pick him up, which is our usual protocol when he comes out of his room, but he wouldnt’ let me touch him. It was then that we realized he was still asleep.

Because we discovered this sleepwalking the second day he was in his toddler bed, we bought our very first gate. Yes, our child is over two, and we never had a gate, but now that there is this potential that he could sleepwalk himself right out the door, we can’t take any chances. We’ve also installed extra flap locks on all external doors just in case he takes up sleep leaping.

An unfortunate by-product of his lack of sleep is his moms’ lack of sleep, and as a result, we’ve had a big backslide on early morning cosleeping. Last night, he ended up in our bed around 3am and kept my wife up with his flailing for two hours before she decided to get up and go into work early. However, BG also woke up early, so we were all up and crabby, and my wife and I were less than kind with one another, thus a new plan is in place for keeping the kid in his own damn bed.

And have I mentioned the roosters? No, no I haven’t. A few weeks ago, BG said something about there being no roosters in his bedroom. I looked around and I said, “Nope, no roosters!” He told us several times over the next few days, in a reassuring tone, “No roosters in yours room.” We agreed. Well, last week at dinner, the boy started talking about roosters. Roosters at Grandpa and Grandma’s house, roosters at our house, and I giggled saying, “No, the roosters aren’t in your room. They’re outside!” In this moment, a look of sheer terror crept across my son’s face, and he began to wail as he reached for me and pleaded for me to pick him up. I held him, and he was trembling with fear as he went on and on about roosters. I reassured him that there were no roosters, not in his room, not outside of his room, not at Grandma and Grandpa’s. It took a long time to calm him down, and only after we locked all of the deadbolts and flap bolts and locked the windows did he believe that they wouldn’t come in. We even had to check under his bed. Fortunately, he’s got a crocodile living under there, but damn! This boy is terrified of roosters. What’s funny about this is that he loves the roosters at the farm when we take him there. He talks to them, laughs at them, and finds them utterly amusing. My best guess is that he has had some nightmares starring roosters, and he can’t comprehend yet that they aren’t really in his room. Poor, poor boy.

Because we lost our babysitter (she started to dump us, and then we officially dumped her), we have had no date nights and we’ve barely made it to therapy–and not at all together in a month. A friend of ours offered to have BG over to play with her kids while we went today, which is really gracious considering he shoves them both and is a less than sweet houseguest, but BG caught some sort of GI bug that had him puking all over me on Saturday night and has had him making some pretty nasty diapers ever since. I opted to stay home with the kid. I’m determined, though, that BG will learn to be human with these super-sweet kids and that we’ll all get to make some new friends. In the meantime, we’re interviewing babysitters this Friday.

A bright spot in all of this was our visit to the grandparents’ home for Thanksgiving. This is not usually a bright spot, but we took the reigns this year and decided not to let ourselves be turned into worker bees so that my mom could create even more stress for herself and everyone around her. Instead, we showed up Thanksgiving day with our dishes in hand (including homemade pumpkin icecream), and I was so impressed to find that because we didn’t come early, she actually got organized. This meant that we all got to enjoy one another so much more. BG got to have fun with his cousins (although he did shove them as well–ugh), and he got some quality time with both of his grandparents. The following day, my parents had planned to take a trek into the woods for their Christmas tree, so we accompanied them, and we stopped along the way to pick up our own tree permit. We headed into US Forest Service land and had a grand time looking for the perfect tree. BG was in a terrible mood because he was ready for a nap, but I strapped him in the Ergo, something I never really do anymore, and we went tromping through the forest. Eventually, we found a lovely cedar, which my parents agreed to bring to us at some point in the coming two weeks. We enjoyed ourselves so much, we opted to stay an extra night, after which my parents decided they would follow us the four hours home and bring us our tree. BG was elated to have his grandparents here even for just a few hours, and he is still telling the story of Grandpa cutting the tree down with the chainsaw and putting it in our house. I’ll have to take a photo once it’s all decorated because it’s almost comically large. It just seemed so much smaller out there in the forest. Next year, we’ll do a little more measuring (because a $10 permit and a hike sure beats spending $100 on a tree!). Oh, and now, BG has said he would like “a little chainsaw.” Oh dear.

Our return brought a doctor’s appointment I have been dreading for a month. We had to take BG in for allergy testing. If you have been reading long, you know that we struggled for a long time with dairy protein allergies (so much so that I had to give up dairy while he was exlusively breastfeeding, and even then we ended up having to see a pediatric GI doc who proclaimed him likely allergic to a few different things). Well, the dairy allergy has finally been resolving itself in the last three months or so, but something has continued to give BG the occasional outbreak of eczema. Then a couple of months ago, he had some sesame oil in a marinade of some sort, and he broke out in hives all over his face and neck. We were fairly certain he had multiple food allergies, and we were bracing for the worst. While the test was nearly as miserable as I expected it to be (it really did hurt the poor guy, but it’s far more efficient than it used to be), the results were surprising. His only allergy is to sesame. We don’t have to worry about eggs, soy, dairy, or nuts. I’m delighted. I’m bummed about the sesame too though. I love sesame. He actually likes it quite a bit–and it sneaks into things like granola and bread and the like, so we need to be careful–but that’s far easier than keeping him away from these other things. Honestly, though, after all these months of worrying about what he eats, it’s a lttle surreal not having to think so hard or spend so much money on substitutes (although our son does have a taste for goat yogurt and goat cheese that he just can’t shake–at $6 a quart for the yogurt. We really do have a kid with wine country taste). I imagine we’ll get used to this new outlook pretty quickly.


And that, dear readers, wraps up my month. Tomorrow brings payday and grocery shopping. a sigh of relief, and a wish for no more vet or child emergencies. It brings just seventeen more days of work until my wife and I have a couple of weeks off together when we’ll do some crafting and have some holiday fun and maybe even traumatize our child by placing him on a Santa lap. Yes, December will be a better month.


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little boys and their toys

I can only imagine the traffic this post is going to generate. You’ll see why in a moment.

Things have been so dismal on my blog (and in my life) lately, that I thought I would share an amusing anecdote about my son, something that will surely embarrass him when he stumbles across this blog when he’s fifteen. I just can’t help it.

Something that people warned us about when I learned I was pregnant with a boy was that he was going to get erections. Um, yeah, I know, he’s male, I would reply. But no, they said, he’ll get them early and often, and you’re going to be surprised. I laughed, and J and I prepared ourselves for the occasional baby stiffy.

Then our precious baby boy arrived, and within a month or so, we saw our first one. It made us laugh because there was this teeny tiny baby with a teeny tiny erection, and it was just sort of cute. The air during diaper changes must have just caught him the right way, and there it would be. When J and I had discussed the early warnings about this, we always thought it would make us uncomfortable, but instead, just like everything else about our new son, it was cute, just another piece of little boy perfection.

Oddly, they went away for awhile–for quite some time really. But then as BG got closer to one and a half and two, they returned, but this time, they seemed more–uh, real. He definitely found it strange and uncomfortable, but if it was wiped during a diaper change, he would smile a smile that no mother wants to see on her toddler. We would simply cover it back up with a diaper and move along.

But then he started talking about it. He learned the word “penis,” and he would tell us, “Penis hurt!” There were a couple of times he cried a little about this, and we would check it to find that it was doing its thing, so we would tell him it would go away if he stopped thinking about it, and we’d cover it back up with his diaper.

It was around this same time that our son became quite a bit more active outside, so he was constantly getting skinned knees, little scrapes, various little “owies” that needed bandaids and kisses. He loved the owie-kissing ritual and would kiss our owies, kiss his own, kiss the cats. We found this appropriately adorable.

One day, our son was getting a diaper change, and when I opened up his diaper, there was his penis erect as can be, and he said, “Mommy, penis hurt!”

“I know son, I know,” I said. He grabbed at it, and I encouraged him to stop touching it. “It will stop hurting in a second. Just leave it alone.”

But he relented, “Mommy, penis hurt!” And then finally, it clicked for him. He knew just what I could do. “Mommy, kiss penis. Penis hurt. Kiss penis. Make penis better.”

I don’t think I have to tell you that this is one owie I would not kiss.


Filed under Boy Genius, parenting boys


Well, it’s official. November 2011 is really kind of sucky.

Yesterday, I went out to do a couple of hours of work from a coffee shop while BG and J hung out at home. When I came home, we had the usual bustle of wrapping up BG’s day, and as we began to prepare his dinner, my wife told me about a spill she took while I was out. She had opened the door to our patio to toss something in the recycling only to fall unexpectedly down the two steps. In the process, she twisted her back, landed her knee, hip, and shoulder on the steps, and hit her head on the concrete patio. She seemed a little off, and as the night progressed, she was in more and more pain. The pain was so bad in the night she got sick.

Can you believe I had to convince her–demand even–that she should stay home from school today? It’s true. She hardly slept, and by the time morning arrived, she could barely move. I made her get to the doctor this morning, and while nothing is broken, she’s as hurt as she’s ever been. She can’t pick up BG; she can’t do much more than basic self care. She’s got to stay in bed, take her meds, and work on healing.

As this is on the heels of none of us getting enough sleep for over a week, I’ve been less than graceful today. BG has perfected his whine, and he used it endlessly today. And I can’t count the number of times he demanded, “Mommy, pick you up!” all while he refused to eat anything. I can’t count the number of times I screamed at the top of my lungs–inside my head.

But we had adventures. This morning, we went to the red store to buy a new heating pad, and we admired sewing machines, mixers, vacuum cleaners, and Christmwas schwag. I took him to J’s university where we dropped off papers for her students and treats for her department secretaries (we have an arrangement where I supply them with baked goods and they in turn treat my wife very well. If only they were on the hiring committee–I’m sure I’d be in a tenure-track position in no time. Seriously, these ladies love their baked goods.) We met a couple of her students and rode a rickety elevator. We admired the fall leaves that are blanketing the campus.

And then I even took BG to therapy. It was a crapshoot, and he was a total mess, but she was so graceful with him. She pulled out crayons, offered me her rocking chair, made animal sounds with him. Finally, because he was totally beside himself with lack of sleep, I decided to offer him nursing. We nursed, and I had a very light day at therapy, and we sat in the dark. It was actually quite nice, even though it was so challenging. I’m so glad I went. We were driven by frugality, by the fact that we couldn’t afford to pay the fee for not giving 48-hours’ notice, and instead, I got a chance to reset, which was totally unexpected.

But despite the fact that we seem to be living under a perpetual rain cloud these days, I’m okay. We’re okay. We’re learning how to roll with the punches and welcome any bright spots that may come our way. I wouldn’t complain a bit if the bright spots took over for awhile.


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babysitter woes

It looks like we’re going to be looking for a new babysitter. Damnit. We have had our current sitter for a few months now, and this has allowed us to attend weekly therapy, go on a few dates, and generally feel like we’re adults again. Today, I texted her to let her know we didn’t need her tomorrow since BG is sick, and she texted me back saying “Bummer. Hope he feels better. Hey, I meant to tell you in person, but I just got hired by Banana Republic, and I don’t know my schedule yet, but I’m probably working weekends and afternoons.”

And here lies the problem with hiring eighteen-year-olds who are drifting aimlessly through their lives. They may tell you one week that they don’t want any other work, that they want to focus on their studies, and then another week, they may decide that a mall job would be far more glamorous. I certainly can’t begrudge anyone a job. I just wish she would have told us. It’s hard getting a kid used to a sitter, and it’s hard as a parent feeling comfortable with a stranger coming into your home to care for your child.

But I remember myself at her age, and I remember very well that I wasn’t thinking about any of that. Still, can’t I expect more? Maybe not.

I’m not looking forward to yet another search, to getting BG used to yet another person, but at the same time, I can’t help but wonder if maybe there’s someone out there with a little more experience who might be a little more stimulating to BG. Maybe he needs someone he can actually get excited about, who is really enthusiastic about seeing him, who isn’t totally awkward when he tries to give her a hug. That would be cool.

I mean I have liked her well enough, but she has always done exactly the same things with him when she has come over. They play tea party and do playdough. Once in awhile they draw. Sometimes she brings stickers. I’d love to find an experienced sitter with real ideas. And did I mention she once completely forgot about working for us, that she didn’t show up until I texted her? So it’s not like she’s been superb. Still.

I’m curious: for those of you who have searched for and hired babysitters, what have you looked for? And what would you do in our situation? Would you just let her know you’d rather find someone who can commit to the work? I’d love to hear your ideas.


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The cherry on top of this week from hell came today when I returned home from a little outing by myself. BG came to greet me at the door, and as we walked into the living room together, he puked all over the place. So he doesn’t just have nasty cold; it’s worse. No wonder the kid can’t sleep. Oh man, it has GOT to get better from here, right?

Hey, at least we get to try out our spiffy new carpet cleaner.

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the blahs

I’ve been so gloomy this week, and today, the weather matches. The icing on my cake of crap this week was that I was given notice by the school I applied to that I won’t be asked to interview for either of the teaching positions. It’s okay. I’m suprisingly fine about it. I do miss teaching, but I would almost rather do some part-time teaching again so that taking care of my son and juggling schedules with my wife isn’t so daunting. Besides that, I want to be able to do at least some doula work, and teaching full time would only allow that during summer. There are always bright spots.

We’re still struggling here. My son is sick, and because of my lack of sleep, I’m not getting better. We’re all sleep-deprived, and my wife has thrown out her back and her shoulder. We are one big collective mess, and I wish I could just whisk us away from it all. My cat who just underwent surgery for a massive absess was given kitty morphine for us to administer. I think it’s fairly telling that my wife and I envy his drowsy, doped-up state a bit. While neither of us is really fond of how we feel on painkillers (and I hope I don’t need to mention we would never take our cat’s medication), the idea of mental escape is so alluring right now. Oh to be carefree and reckless again.

Honestly, I would give my left arm just to be able to lie on the couch and be sick for a day.

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these are some deep trenches

For the past few nights since our son’s transition to his new bed, we’ve gotten less and less sleep. He wakes up and won’t go back to sleep for these long periods. He wants to get out of bed. He wants me to hold him and dance him and hug him. He wants everything but sleep. Because he is not held prisoner anymore, he can also get up. One night, we caught him sleep walking. When he opened his door, I bolted into the hallway only to herd him back to his bed where he laid down, eyes closed, and continued sleeping.

I’m also sick.

On Tuesday night/Wendesday morning, BG slept like crap. This was a night of two lengthy wake-ups (one was nearly two hours of me trying to get him to stay in his bed, stop sreaming, and go back to sleep) and the sleepwalking. I had worked until midnight. BG woke up for the day at 5:30. The last remnants of BG’s breastfeeding have been first thing in the morning and just before bed, so my wife brought him to me to nurse in hopes that I might sleep a bit more and extend his sleep too. I was desparate for more sleep after three hours of very interrupted sleep that night. Shortly after my wife left for work, my son started pinching me, scratching at me, and finally, as I was blocking his little claws, he bit down. Hard.

I yelped, then immediately placed BG on the other side of the bed, and put pressure on my very sore breast as I snapped, “No Biting!” He looked surprised but didn’t try to nurse again. He knew something had gone awry, but in his sleep-deprived crazy state, I’m not sure he new quite what. Not wanting to dwell in the moment, he told me it was time to get up and make coffee. I reluctantly agreed. It was, after all, not even 6:30. I pulled back the blankets and began to stand up when I noticed a half-dollar-sized spot of bright red blood on the front of my shirt. My nipple was bleeding and hurting. I started crying. My son laughed at the red spot on my shirt. I cried a little harder. I told him “na-na” was very hurt. That his bite had caused a “big owie.” He was ready to move on. I was hurt. The sting and ache of the cut was one thing, but I also felt betrayed by my son.

He has nipped me before, typically when he’s been teething. One time previously he bit a little hard and left me with a bit of an injury, but this was far worse. This drew blood. This was the result of being irritated with me, with losing control. I could hardly relate to him all day, but I had to. I was on my own with him most of the day, and he and I were both in rare from (and by this, I mean we were crazy with fatigue). All morning, he cried and whined and fought me over and over. I had no tools to cope with this small tyrant who had invaded my son’s body. All my patience had been used up in the middle of the night. Finally, I sat down on found an episdoe of Sesame Street. I sped through the segments he didn’t like–the things that made him frustrated again–and I snuggled with him during the segments he liked. But then he started kicking and smacking the computer. I had to shut down the one bit of respite I had found. This catapulted him into a full-blown tantrum. I thought a bath might calm us both down, but this made it worse. He didn’t want a bath, he didn’t want me to give him a bath. I’m pretty sure he didn’t want to be in his own skin. I was summoning every speck of patience I had ever known. I dressed him, put on some music, and danced him down to his nap.

I collapsed on the sofa, and my cat joined me. I watched some bad television and finally fell asleep. My boy slept for nearly two hours, and I awoke from my own nap to him smiling over me.

When my wife finally came home, I had to take our cat to the vet. Earlier, I had found a giant absess on his back, and he had to go in. I never imagined going to the vet would be a means of getting some time to myself, but it was important–both to help the cat get well and to help me find some sanity. When I had to leave the cat at the vet for surgery and put down nearly three hundred dollars that we absolutely don’ thave, I nearly lost it.

I was reeling from the day, knowing that I was going to have to take the next big step toward weaning. So far, this process has been slow but natural. We’ve eliminated more and more nursing until these last two bookends have remained, but I’ll no longer be nursing my son in the morning. Our bedtime nursing will be all that is left, and that won’t be much longer either. I’m afraid of him biting me again, and I don’t want that. I don’t want to be tense with my son. I don’t want this event to color how I feel about him. I just never expected the end to start this way.

Today has proven better, albeit challenging in a new way. BG is quite sick and has been fighting a horrid fever all day. We had to pick the cat up from the vet and care for him all day. My two boys–my son and my cat–have required everything from me, and somehow I have had it to give. I’m tapped now. I have no idea how I’ll finish my work for the week, how I’ll get to spend time with my wife, where time for myself will come in. I can only live each moment hoping reprieve and strength and grace will come soon.


Filed under behavior, breastfeeding

tuesday night smatterings

Not much of substance to say tonight because I’m tired, so bullets it is:

  •  I’m still trying to fight off this cold. Half the time it is winning, and half the time I am. I hope tomorrow proves different.
  • The time change has done a number on our sleep. Sound familiar? BG is waking up at ungodly hours. He doesn’t know why he has to stay up so late. He wants to take his nap by like ten in the morning. Fun.
  • Transitioning our son to his big boy bed in the midst of time change hell was either brilliant (we get all the sleep hell out of the way at once) or really, really stupid (all the sleep hell is compounded). Let’s just say this mommy is no longer used to middle of the night wakeups.
  • Middle of the night wakeups and early mornings especially suck when you’re trying not to be sick.
  • We sold the crib today. BG watched me and the mama-to-be who was buying it load it into her car. He said goodbye, said he didn’t need it anymore because he has a big boy bed. And then “You LOVE big boy bed!”
  • It’s damn cold here right now (don’t laugh). I’m glad fall is finally upon us, but it’s a little challenging to aclimate when the weather shifts from 85 to 50 in a week’s time.
  • Because of the cold, we have gotten to test out our pellet stove. It’s awesome. BG wants me to start a fire anytime we don’t have one. He desperately wants to help, so I let him, but this is going to get tricky because he really likes the stove, and I don’t want him to like it quite so much given its potential for causing third degree burns.
  • I can’t seem to get my pumpkin bread right, and this is driving me nuts. I need a good recipe. If you have one (or if you have one for pumpkin muffins) please help. Bonus if it’s lower on the sugar and fat but still moist.

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side effects

So my wife and I were talking today wondering how long it would take BG to leave his room on his own after sleeping. He hadn’t tried to get up on his own last night and instead cried for us. This conversation was taking place during his nap.

As if on cue, we heard his door open, heard his little feet padding down the hall, and saw his sleepy smile and rumpled hair peak around the corner into the kitchen. My wife and I both gasped a little, looked at each other with the same slightly terrified look, and saw our kid grow up before our eyes yet again. He, on the other hand, just walked in and opened up the fridge to find himself a snack like he’s been getting himself up from his naps for decades.

Last night I ordered extra locks for both our sliding door and front door because I can’t stop panicking over the thought of my son waking up in the middle of the night and wandering out (he can reach and operate all of the locks on the doors).

On a related note, I noticed about fifty new gray hairs on my head today.

We’re celebrating all of the big excitement with a family cold. We’re so predictable.


Filed under Boy Genius

graduation day

Million Dollar Baby Sleigh Toddler Bed Cherry

Today, we bought our son a big boy bed. He only started sleeping in his crib when he was about one, and once his sleep started to regulate, we didn’t want to mess with anything, so we were in no hurry to move to a toddler bed. There was this idea that we would convert his crib to its toddler bed setting a couple of months ago when he was turning two, but again, we couldn’t mess with what seemed to be working.

However, BG has been expressing more and more interest in big boy beds  (and lifting him in and out of his crib is getting more and more challenging). We had on hand a bed rail, so we decided to go for the transition today. Unfortunately, when we did, we learned that the rail we had was not at all intended for a toddler bed, and as a result, it was fairly dangerous (any attempted roll out of the bed may well have taken the mattress too). Also of concern was that the boy still had three sides to pull up on, so he was still standing and walking in his bed. Something was going to have to change for these moms to be comfortable leaving our boy in the bed.

So we called a local baby store, put a toddler bed rail on hold, and then went to pick it up. While there, we took BG to a sale area upstairs where we spotted two toddler beds. BG laid in one. He liked it. It was only sixty dollars more than the rail. We hemmed, we hawed, we asked what colors they had, and within moments, we were leaving, receipt in hand, heading home to free our little sedan of a toddler, a carseat, and an extra mom so that one of us could return for a big boy bed.

While J was gone getting the bed, BG helped me disassemble his crib. We said goodbye to it a few times and we talked a lot about the big boy bed that was coming. He talked about which animals he would want in his new bed. He talked about having good dreams in his new bed. It was heartening. He had expressed a good deal of concern earlier in the day during the conversion of the crib to its toddler setting. He thought we were getting rid of his crib, and this worried him so. But having seen the option of a real bed, he was no longer distressed and instead was enjoying helping me.

When his new bed came, we assembled it, put the mattress down, and I gave BG a quilt my mom had made me when I was a baby. He loved the blanket, helped me tuck it into the bed, and then he laid down. He got under the covers, and yelled enthusiastically, “You LOVE this bed!” (He’s still working out his pronouns.) He got in and out of it multiple times, telling us, “BG like in and out of bed!” He put his favorite bear in the bed, his pillow, and the blankets he used in his crib. He placed his water bottle in the spot next to his pillow where it always is, and everything seemed in place. But then came his bonding doll, Wink. Wink has been with BG since infancy. I used to carry the doll around in my shirt and put it back in his bed. This was the first sleep friend he had, and he has continued to stay by BG’s pillow. But today, BG got to decide what he wanted, and when asked about Wink, he said, “No. No Wink. Put Wink in garage.” The garage is where his high chair went. It’s where we just put his crib. It’s where all of the symbols of his babyhood have gone. My wife and I agreed Wink would go to the cedar chest where we store our boy’s keepsakes. BG gave Wink a hug and a kiss. He asked us to kiss Wink. He gave him one last hug and kiss and said goodbye, and he watched my wife put him away. We told him he could have Wink whenever he wanted, but he was ready to say goodbye.

Do I need to tell you that this made me cry? I’ve done a lot of that today.

My wife and I have long said we would let our son tell us when he was ready to take his next steps. He told us when he was done with his high chair, and recently, he told us he was ready to move on from his baby bed. I’m so proud of him when he does this, yet it always takes me my surprise a little. I’m always caught up in the emotion of it all, in having a son who has left his baby self behind and has emerged a boy. I find myself in these moments simultaneously mourning my baby and celebrating the awesome kid he has become, and I know this is so very natural for parents to do. I am quickly learning that one of the hardest things to do as a parent is to watch one’s child grow up, yet this is also one of the most fulfilling and inspiring aspects of parenthood. I really don’t know what will come next, what big transition will come knocking on our door, but I can guarantee I’ll be crying in my wife’s arms, marveling at the wonder that is my son and wondering why on earth he has to grow up so fast.


Filed under Boy Genius, milestones, parenting