Friday, June 13, 2014

And all the people say ...

The ninth month of Sally has been eventful so far.   Walter has been maturing by leaps and bounds, too. It makes sense that the time and energy I have to document our lives decreases in proportion to the rising number of events I'd like to document. One of the constants has been very poor sleep, mostly on the part of Sally (and her parents.)  Walter has been sleeping better with the help of Claritin ... there's an allergist visit in our future, for sure.  Sally had a reasonable night's sleep last night with the help of a few days of antibiotic and some Tylenol--she's had an ear infection since April 20.  There's an ENT visit on the calendar for her.  Uff da.  

Next time, there will be video. We were too excited!
In other news, though, last night Sally did some amazing unassisted standing.  The first time it happened I was alone with her in the living room; Sean and Walter were cooking dinner.  It sounded something like this: "OhmyGod she's standing. OhmyGod she's standing. OhmyGod she's standing.  OhmyGod she's standing. Holy cats!" (I would like to submit that this was not taking our Lord's name in vain, but in fact a very fervent prayer.  I'm not sure what cats have to do with it, but there you go.)

The second time we were all playing together in the living room and she just stood there, looking at us, totally cool while we all tried not to freak out.  Walter wanted to go over and give her a congratulatory hug; we convinced him not to.  Hank went over to lick her face and tried to gently knock her over (this is what he did when Walter started walking, too.  Hank does not approve of his babies taking risks.)  We got Hank away from her and she was STILL standing with no sign of going down.  Sean ran into the kitchen and got his phone, which of course did not work as well as one would hope.  After several blurry pictures and one reasonably clear picture, Sally was still standing. Finally, she started to lose her balance a little bit, and as she did she took a full, unassisted step to the side, stood for a few seconds more, and then landed gently on her bottom.  Sally's first step!  I suspect that she took other steps during the day at daycare, too.  They worry about parents feeling bad when kids reach milestones at daycare. So, the report was carefully worded: "Sally was really interested in trying to walk!" Also: "Today, Sally licked EVERYONE!"

This morning, Sally threw herself around with great abandon--she's in the reckless stage of learning a new skill, something I've noticed with her before. She mostly threw herself in the direction of Walter and attempted to remove his bellybutton. Repeatedly.  Walter laughed about it but agreed that she wasn't being very gentle, and appreciated my (largely futile) attempts to dissuade her. A little later Walter lifted his shirt and presented his bellybutton to her.  "Here you go, Baby Sally."  He does this all the time, mostly when he's playing with a toy and she wants it (for the record, that's all toys, always.)  He's a sweet boy and a good brother.  My goal is to teach her to respect him, too.  This morning Walter said, "Can you be gentle, Sally?"  He also said, "I call her Ben sometimes." "Ben?" "Yes, Ben." "Why do you call her Ben?" "Because I love her."

I don't know where that came from, but it makes me happy. (Another recent nickname he's tried out for her recently  is "Buddy Girl.")

While we've always been affectionate and encouraging with Walter, lately we've been taking a page from Mr. Rogers and been extra intentional about telling Walter that we love being with him, that just being himself is a wonderful thing, and that he makes us very happy.  It took awhile, and it might be a phase, but Walter has gotten much more verbally and physically affectionate in the past week or so.  The other night, he and I had this exchange at bedtime: "Walter, you make me so happy." "Jah, I do. Mama, you make me very, very happy." "Thank you, Walter.  I love you." "I love you, Mama!"

That, as you can imagine, makes me very, very happy. 

Walter can still be a challenge, and I'm guessing that when the next growth spurt hits, or the next developmental milestone, or the next ear infection, or whatever it is that seems to turn the switch in his brain on to "defiant," we'll have some very tough days/weeks again.  But we are in a good, good stretch with him, and we're all enjoying it, Walter probably most of all.  He is effusively thankful.  A sample from last night: "Thank you, Dada. This is a very, very nice dinner. Thank you for making dinner with me, Dada." He's also starting to do some neat speaking/thinking/reasoning things, like the "When I was ..." construction I've noticed other kids (particularly older siblings) use. Two recent examples: "When I was a baby, I had to take that medicine." (He was referring to Sally's Amoxicillin. I didn't have the heart to tell him that he might have to have it again someday.) Also, "When I was a dog, I ate bones." Hee.  

Sally and John
John B. visited us last weekend, which was so wonderful for so many reasons.  I think watching the people I love fall in love with my kids, and watching my kids fall in love with them, too,  is one of the greatest things in the world.  Sally and Walter were both smitten with him. Walter even told Sean, "Dada, Uncle John is my favorite."  "Favorite" is a relatively new concept for Walter, and we were all pretty thrilled with this application of it. 
John said something that has really stuck with me.  I asked him what he thought of the kids, and he noted that they are wonderful at playing.  And it's true!  Walter is creative and imaginative when he plays, more and moreso every day, in ways that just blow me away.  Sally is inquisitive and determined and joyful when she plays, with lots of big, charming smiles. The way they play says so much about them as kids, and also about us as parents, I think. And it bodes well.

I needed John's perspective to realize that. I think it was something I needed to hear. 

Sean and I have been a little overwhelmed lately.  We finally got Sally into her room, and after two relatively good nights she came down with a terrible stomach bug (Walter had it earlier in the week, too.)  She ended up staying overnight in the hospital, receiving IV fluids for dehydration and IV antibiotics for her terrible ongoing ear infection (her third course ... she's now on her fourth.)  Sean also got the stomach bug and was sick for about a week.
Sally teepin', 9 months old, with IV and tiny hospital gown
Sally got better and then had a relapse: the solution was to nurse her for 15 seconds every 30 minutes. It was awful, but it worked--she got over the stomach bug with no more trips to the hospital. And that's good, because I didn't want to have to hold her down for blood draws anymore.  I would have done it if it was needed--because of my own medical history, I can be brave that way.  But I did not want to (of course, no one does.)

I've missed a lot of work and fallen terribly behind; Sean's been burning up vacation days, too.  We're not in a great place, financially. We're not getting very much sleep.  The house is a wreck, moreso than usual, and it feels like that's not going to change anytime soon. There is a chipmunk living in our workshop.  So much feels so very, very broken. 

Walter playing dress up. Joy!
Walter's favorite song these days is Matt Maher's "All the People Said Amen."  One of our worship bands introduced it to us at church and he's been hooked ever since.  It has a great beat, a fun "whoah-oh-oh" part, and it's just very enjoyable to sing.  I think Walter likes the message, too.  He likes the part about not being alone: "You are not alone, when you are lonely/If you feel afraid/you're not the only."  Walter gets that, and he sings it with great passion.  I like "We're all broken and we're all in this together/God knows we stumble and fall."  Last night Sally and Walter and I got out the percussion instruments and sang and played a pretty rockin' version together (Sally is brilliant with the tambourine and the kazoo.  Absolutely brilliant.)  And it all came together for me in that moment.  My kids who really know how to play, who put their whole hearts into playing and learning and exploring the world with joy.  My broken, messy, beautiful life. God's promise to be there, to love us, to sustain us no matter what. We are not alone in our brokenness or our fears. "We are all the same/in need of mercy/ to be forgiven and be free. It's all we've got to lean on and thank God it's all we need!"

Amen, amen, amen.    

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