It’s hard to believe that Damien has been in our lives for three years. I can’t believe that the little teeny baby – or even further back, the two lines on a pregnancy test – that inspired this whole blog is now a little boy with a distinct personality, a wild imagination, and a big heart. Dan and I just were reflecting that at this time last year we took note when Damien spoke in a complete sentence. This year, he speaks like a tiny adult (albeit one with a mild speech impediment. I love the traces of his toddler talk and will be sad when they disappear.)
His birthday was a fun day for all of us. This week he is slowly transitioning to the three-year-old room (which is actually not a room, as the three and four groups have the run of the whole preschool while the babies and twos are gated off) so he went to school on his birthday and all through the week. (Also, like I learned from his last preschool, as much as I’d like to spend extra time with him I will live to regret changing his routine any more than possible. Plus I can get a little bit done with only one kid in the house that I can’t get done with two.)
Damien woke up to a decorated door and his first present to open – a birthday tshirt from Old Navy (which, I discovered, was an amazing buy because all day people would say “oh, it’s your birthday? How old are you?” and Damien wouldn’t have to say anything, which was good, because he probably wasn’t going to.) He immediately put his shirt on and grabbed a balloon from the door and started batting it around.
I sent a special birthday-themed lunch with Damien:
That’s cheddar cheese (cut with a small 3-shaped cookie cutter), PB&J sandwiches (cut with large D and 3 cookie cutters), chocolate milk, and banana chips/raisins. I tried to think of a birthday-themed fruit or veggie but couldn’t come up with anything, so I defaulted to a known favorite. Also, I drew hearts on the chocolate milk as a ‘love note’ since he couldn’t read an actual note. :)
During the day Dan and I got stuff done and prepared to leave straight from Damien’s preschool. We went to pick him up fifteen minutes early, so we could sing to him and eat cupcakes with his class. Birthday boy was excited to see us and went straight to the inside tables and sat down (it was raining, otherwise we’d be at the outside picnic tables) but he handled the rest of the birthday festivities with his traditional stoicism (in other words, if it seems like it should be exciting, it’s actually Serious Business. Then he’ll talk about how much fun he had for days afterward, even though in all the pictures he won’t crack a smile.)
pics pics pics
From the preschool we drove straight to the nearest Chuck E. Cheese for Damien’s promised birthday dinner. It was about an hour away and perhaps would have been quicker but it was raining sooo hard I could barely see. On the trip over I was second-guessing my decision to take him to another town for his birthday, but as it turns out we had a great time and it was totally worth it. The best part was my parents were able to get away from the afternoon and meet us, since the Chuck E. Cheese was about halfway between our two houses.
It had been many a year since I set foot in a Chuck E. Cheese – I think the last time I was there was for Kassi’s birthday sometime in elementary school, in 2003 or earlier. I was surprised that in this particular location at least, the place was classed up – the place was clean, neat, and organized, the games were upgraded (there weren’t as many rides and there was no playground at all though, which was a bit disappointing), and the menu was much larger (the salad bar? Amazing.) The semi-creepy animatronics remained, but they lent a bit of fun nostalgia to the evening, and no one was scarred for life or even scared at all. :)
The pizza package I bought came with drinks and tokens. It was just enough for one three-year-old kid to run around and play basically to his heart’s desire, while his parents stole a few tokens for an epic Guitar Hero battle (we actually played co-op because Dan is waaaay better than me. It was really fun; I miss Guitar Hero! And we totally beat the pants off all the ten-year-olds playing, haha.)
Did I mention that Dan and I had fun? Because we totally did. We might have had as much fun as the birthday boy.
We also sat down at our table (which was held down by our jackets and a (small) pile of presents – there weren’t very many people there so it’s not like people were clamoring for our spot) and ate at some point. My verdict: pizza okay (but actually better than I remember it), salad bar amazing (they had sooo many options for everything! It’s way better than the college cafeteria salad bar I occasionally subject myself to.) Dan thought the pizza was crappy but he’s eaten much worse (read: on sale frozen pizzas that are on sale for a reason) so I don’t know why he was complaining.
Damien opened his presents before we went home. Most of his present-opening would take place at his actual birthday party, scheduled for the Sunday after his birthday, but we wanted him to have something to open on the actual day so we brought them. I didn’t take a picture of the wrapped presents (which is too bad; they were cute) but here is Damien with his favorite present:
(We also got him a few other things but none received this reaction. They were more appreciated at home though.)
And, last but not least, Damien cashed in his tickets for exciting (cheap and crappy) prizes and met Mr. Chuck E. himself.
(Or 36 months. I think we’re past the counting-in-months age, and in fact since he was two I never referred to him as “__ months”, just “two” or “he’ll be three in December” when it was getting close to his birthday. But still, old habits die hard!)
Height/Weight: 38 pounds, 40ish inches (according to ye olde yardstick)
Sizes: 3T in most shirts and pants. 4T in some shirts and pajamas (for length; 4T pants would fit in length but would be way too big in the waist.) His shoe size is 10 or 10.5.
Daily Schedule: Because Damien is in preschool for full days, his daily schedule doesn’t change too much, which I think is a really good thing for him.
- 8:00am: Damien wakes up and either Dan or I get him ready for preschool. He gets his lunch from the fridge and gets into his carseat. (And if it really goes that smoothly, high fives all around! As you can imagine it usually doesn’t.)
- 8:30am: Damien’s school day starts. They play in their ‘classrooms’ (the Twos room is just gated off from the Threes and Fours area, while the baby area actually has Plexiglass walls) until breakfast, worship and circle time (the latter two are sometimes done as a big group, I think.) The school provides breakfast, which really makes our mornings go smoother. I don’t know everything that goes on during the day, but I do know…
- 12:15pm: Lunchtime!
- 1pm: Naptime
- 3pm: Outside playtime
- 3:30pm: Either Dan or I pick him up! (We’ve been trading off – if one of us does dropoff, the other does pickup. That way Damien gets to see both of us, and so do the teachers.)
In January Damien will be switching to the threes room, which means a new teacher, new classmates (though he sees both the teacher/classmates on the playground and at worship), and a lot more freedom of movement. I’m a little worried about the transition because transitions are never easy, and I’m not looking forward to weeks of difficult dropoffs… But he’ll learn so much in the new classroom so I’m trying to stay positive.
Sleeping: Always an issue. Damien naps at preschool, and on his own little cot too, usually for around an hour (just like home, unless someone is sleeping with him.) Bedtime at home is a bit (a lot) more complicated. He goes to sleep in his bed around nine (should be earlier, but college life means our evenings are invariably crazy) with Dan or me laying down with him. The parent sneaks out and he’ll usually sleep until 1am (unless he’s sick or something, in which case all bets are off.) At this point he’ll do the thing he’s been doing since he was a year old, which is wake up every twenty minutes or so unless there is someone physically in the room with him, which is why Dan just gets in his bed and stays the rest of the night there.
I’ve mentioned before that I really don’t like this system. I still don’t, but since Dan is the one that has to get up with him (due to him NOT being the one breastfeeding) it’s not up to me. Also we have so much on our plate that losing any more sleep or adding anything major to our routine (like attempting to sleep train) is something that’s impossible right now.
Eating: During the week, Damien eats both breakfast and lunch at school. We try to eat dinner as a family but it never happens on Mondays (both Dan and I are in class at dinnertime) and Dan tends to have meetings in the evenings, so that complicates things. Sometimes it’s hard enough just to make sure everyone ate, let alone together.
As I mentioned earlier, Damien’s preschool provides breakfast. I make Damien’s lunch every day and I’m surprised at how well he eats. He has a sandwich (either cheese, PB&J, or PB&Honey), crackers (goldfish, trail mix, Teddy Grahams), cheese, or a granola bar, and some kind of fruit/veggie (carrot sticks, raisins, banana chips, apple slices, applesauce/fruit and veggie squeezable containers), and either milk or chocolate milk. His lunchbox generally comes home 90%-100% empty, and if there’s anything left he’ll eat it after school.
Taking Damien to restaurants is a lot more fun these days, because he actually wants to eat and will finish most, if not all, of his meal, which makes spending the money seem more worthwhile. His favorite foods to eat include pasta, mini corn dogs, and sandwiches.
Potty-training: At a child-induced standstill. Yes, we’ve tried just about everything, and though he’s not resistant (it’s not like he hates the potty or anything) he just doesn’t care yet. Until he does, there’s really not much we can do except keep encouraging and hoping it catches on soon!
Interview: In October I asked Damien about some of his favorites. Here’s what he said.
- Friends: Chloe, Brooklyn, Penny, Faithy (which is everyone in his classroom except the two boys, lol. Both boys were fairly new in October and if I asked again now he might include them too.)
- School activity: Playing inside with trains
- Color: Blue
- Food: Pizza
- Dessert: Cupcakes
- Toy: Fire truck
- Thing to watch: Little Golden Book Land
- Song: The friend song from Little Golden Book Land (he also loves You Are My Sunshine and sings I’m H-A-P-P-Y all the time)
This summer held a LOT of change for Damien. He became a big brother at the end of July. At the beginning of August (five days after Rowen was born), we moved to a new house in a new neighborhood. In September, he started preschool (8:30am-3:30pm, five days a week) and got a new babysitter (since Kassi switched colleges.) It was a lot for one kid to take. In some areas he struggled (mainly, dealing with a sibling) but in other areas he’s amazed me at how well he’s coped (moving and adjusting to preschool, for example.) Most of all I’m just amazed at how BIG and grown-up he is. I look at pictures from last year and despite the fact that he hasn’t really changed in size, he looks and acts like a little kid now, and there’s no trace of the baby in the pictures left. (Oh my gosh, I’m going to make myself cry.)
Here are some things that happened in the past few months:
- Went to a car race (and from that same post, in what rank as some of the most terrifying minutes of my life, got lost in a mall)
- Started preschool
- Went to the pumpkin patch.
- Went to the Sacramento Zoo (and didn’t write a post about it because my phone deleted all the picture from the trip! I was so upset! The only picture I have left is the following comparison one…)
- Was the ringbearer in Auntie Kaykay and Uncle Jay’s wedding
- Went to a Fall Festival (actually two – we went to the college one too, but he had a lot more fun at the preschool one)
- Painted and carved a pumpkin (well, Damien picked a pattern and I carved it)
- Went trick-or-treating on Halloween – dressed as a pumpkin (his request!)
- Celebrated three Thanksgivings: one with Dan’s dad/stepmom/brother/sister, one with my family, and one with his mom and family. (I haven’t finished the post(s) for this, but I’ll add a link when I do.)
- Participated in his preschool Christmas program (cutest.thing.EVER! I’m still waiting on the official pictures, but here’s a blurry cell phone preview:)
(I’ve been saving these on my phone for months, so there are a lot of them. They are more or less in order from September of this year.)
Mama, I want to hang on your monkey branches. I’m in trouble, I’m a monkey in trouble. You’re the monkey sleeping. Dada’s the monkey with Rowen-monkey. Your phone is the monkey swinging forward and I’m the monkey swinging backward. You’re on my swing set.
Pushes elephant sound button on a book: Does that sound like a cricket?Me: Give me five!Him: *kisses my hand*
Is Rowen awake? I wanna put mascara on him.I don’t like music! I like pizza, and salad, and milk.Damien on spiders: They’re not very yummy to eat. Some try to bite you. Some spiders are nice; some hurt you.While sitting on Ripley’s back: I’m riding on her back like Scamper does! (from this movie)D: Mama, Dada took something from me!Me: What did he take?D: That. A thingMe: What?D: Deodorant.Me: …Damien that’s Dada’s deodorant.D: NO IT’S MINE!
When I tried to fix the dryer: There must be a solution!Want you to put Ripley in the backyard so she don’t be frightened!Me, to Damien: I love you, Damien.D: I love you, Rowen.Me: Aww, that’s so sweet that you love your little brother. Do you love your mom too?D: No.Me: Why not?D: Because I don’t like you.Later that night…D: I like you.Me: Oh, I’m so glad! Do you like Dada too?D: I do, I do!Me: And do you love your Mama and Dada?D: I do, I do!Me: Aww, that is so sweet! But stop picking your nose.D: I’m gonna put it on your face!
After he did something he wasn’t supposed to, while holding a frog plushie: Froggy said it was an accident!
Playing in the other room: Do you know what day it is, Giraffe? It’s time for Shasha’s house!
I’m looking out at the world!
Kassi: Who’s taller, Mama or Damien?Damien: Dada!
Making his farmer Little People toy give a speech (from the barn roof) to the other Little People: Ladies and gentlemen, I’m glad you came to the barn today.
As we’re leaving a restaurant: I’m going to leave my gopher shoes there… (laughs) I don’t have any gopher shoes!
Damien grabs Dan’s face & pulls him in for a big kiss: That was a spiky kiss!
I’m not gonna shake you down, I’m gonna get you down! I’m gonna bubble you down!
Playing with stuffed animals, looks down at Bubble Puppy: Bubble Puppy’s a mermaid? That’s silly!After knocking something off his bookcase: Don’t worry, I got this.
Damien walks into kitchen, where I can’t see him. Starts whacking his broom around violently. I hear: It’s dead now! I see a piece of it!
The penguin has hair? That’s silly; penguins don’t really like hair. (‘Hair’ was the strings on top of a penguin mirror to tie it to a crib.)
Outside closed bathroom door: Mama I brought another book for you! DON’T HIDE!
Movie: Sometimes I think you have rocks in your head.Damien, confidentially to me: I don’t think rocks are in ANY heads.
(after reading the book Little Toot) Wow! Little Toot’s a very big hero!
(when Rowen was crying in the car) It’s OK Rowen, we’re just going for a little drive! We’re almost there!(to Ripley) Ripple Dipple, don’t sneak into our blocks
Damien walks into the bathroom, attempts to help me pull up my pants, then leaves and shuts the bathroom door saying, “I’ll be with you in a minute!”
I have an idea to do! Go to space! In a spaceship! And rush around and then go to earth.(to Dan) I’m your big boy! I love having a big Dada!(Dan laying on Damien’s bed; Damien jumps on his back)Dan: Damien, whyyyy?D: Because I want you to get off my bed. Because it’s my bed.(A few minutes later…)D: You have your own bed. Right in there! Right in Mama and Dada’s room!
Dan: I’m gonna get you!D: You’re not gonna get me, I’m gonna get YOU!
Dan: Don’t be a stumpsten.D: I’m gonna be TWO stumpstens! (‘Stumpsten’ is another word Damien made up. In our family vernacular it has come to mean ‘ornery’.)
Mama, I found you! (You did!) And then I gave you a hug, a kiss, and a banana!
(Puts bow in hair, runs to bathroom mirror) I look like a Canadian!Who wants to play catch with me? *hurls eight coasters at my head*I’m a selling guy; I sell pancakes!Mama, I’m going to take you away to the dark side.Mama, be happy and be safe and be lots of things! Don’t be sad!
I’m going on the angel ship! Oh no, there’s a financial there! We’re never never never never getting on the ship! (Note: Damien uses the word ‘financial’ a lot but he has no clue what it means, haha.)Get out of the dark, it’s fishing pole time!I am just a little working guy, Mama.Mama, I love you and you love me. Dada loves Ripley and Rowen loves… (Me: What does Rowen love?) Just eating nurses.(Who’s Rowen?) He’s just a baby I think.
(puts 2 puzzle pieces together) Look, they’re holding hands Mama!Choo choo trains don’t like the rain either.
(So you remember the bespins. Well, apparently there is a new imaginary creature in Damien-land: the jenner.)Me: What’s a jenner?D: A jenner is a benner without ears.Me: Where did you see a jenner?D: At the South Pole. It was bringing me wheat. I touched the jenner for a long time. The wheat had eyes and a mouth.
Mama, are you a girl?Yes, I’m a girl.I wanna be a girl like you, mama.Why do you want to be a girl?Because I want to put it up in a ponytail.You want to wear your hair in a ponytail?Yes.Well, boys can have ponytails, you just have to grow out your hair.*hair discussion ensues*Now, is there any other reason you want to be a girl?*whispering* I want…to put it up in a ponytail.Okay then.(after exiting someone’s house at night) There’s nothing to see but the quiet trees. (he’s quoting Scuffy the Tugboat)(to the tune of London Bridge)When the bridge is falling down, falling down, falling downWhen the bridge is falling down, my friend baby(to Dan) Here’s your beautiful sandwich! And you can have a cookie with two ears!A goat sat on a fat moon.Make me an apple made of plums!I wrapped this around my arm so the monster won’t come and grab my arm! (it was a towel)Mama, my butt is dancing!Our house is not on fire, but somebody’s house is on fire.(in reference to his dollar store nutcracker) This is my little friend. The other ones are not my friends at the store. This one is my friend. He is so squishy! I squish him all the time.(Star Wars related:) Mama, who’s in the wookie’s family? (and) I want to be a lightsaber when I grow up!I’ll get in there [the toybox]. I’ll stay in there forever! And then the rain will come.(while putting Silly Putty on a Little People sheep) If the sheep doesn’t have any hair, it won’t grow in. HEY, IT NEEDS TO GROW IN!(he was singing and playing along on a keyboard in Target, and then he spoke into the attached mic like a DJ) It’s dancing time everyone, please come!
Sunday, the day after our World Series game adventure, was Damien’s preschool fall festival. We went to it last year, so it was fun to compare how much more comfortable he was with everyone once he actually attended the school. My parents were both still in town and able to go – Damien was very excited to show them his school, especially the playground.
Both Damien and Rowen started out wearing their costumes, though Damien didn’t make it very long before he wanted to take his off. (To his credit, it is a little bulky.) I at least got a few pictures outside, before we went in:
When we were talking about costumes back in September, Damien insisted he wanted to be a pumpkin. I showed him lots of pictures of other costumes on the internet but he would not budge. It’s difficult to find a pumpkin costume in a toddler size (they’re all baby-sized) but I managed to find one on Amazon that is very cute and looks nice. The day it arrived in the mail, Damien announced “I want to be a firefighter!” Sorry kid, that ship has sailed. Rowen’s ‘costume’ is actually just a jumper with a pumpkin face on it from Walmart, although it did come with a ‘pumpkin’ hat. I didn’t find any costumes smaller than 12 months so I decided it was good enough, and he looks cute in it. Oh, and I found a cheap pumpkin faced tshirt for myself so I can be pumpkin-y with them. (Dan refused to play. Well, I never actually found a men’s shirt, although I could easily make one, but he wouldn’t wear it even if I did.)
Damien’s favorite place on the playground is the playhouse, which during the fall festival was the cookie decorating station, so he decorated several cookies just to get to hang out in there. He also liked playing in the sandbox, jumping on the water pillow (which is actually a water bed mattress), and playing in the rented bounce house (a little one for the under five set.) Last year Damien was always in danger of being trampled in bounce houses; this year I have to remind him to be careful so that he doesn’t do the trampling! (He was fairly good around smaller kids, which I appreciate, but I’m still a worried mom keeping a close eye on them.) He participated in exactly one craft and then was pretty much ready to go, so we did.
For fun, here are some comparison pictures from the fall festival this year and last year. It really makes it look like Damien has grown up! I feel like he still had that baby look last year, but now he’s all little boy – still adorable, but there is no baby left. *sniff*
Time-traveling back to the weekend when Rowen was five weeks old…
It was Memorial Day weekend and my parents were coming to spend some time with us. We thought it would be fun to go to a sprint car race at the Calistoga Speedway, which isn’t too far from our house but is somewhere we’ve never been. Both my parents are really into racing and Damien is interested in cars (and Cars) so we gave it a try.
We had great seats and it was a beautiful afternoon/evening. Damien had a lot of fun until it started getting dark, then he got a bit stir-crazy and wanted to run around and he really couldn’t. (He also refused to wear his ear protection, so I guess the noise didn’t bother him too much. Rowen, on the other hand, was much too little to argue.) I did take him over to the snack area where they had kettle corn (and delicious brick oven pizza made in a food truck! Dan bought one for us to share) so nomming on the popcorn distracted him for a little while. Eventually though we decided to head home – the people around us had ventured into the annoying-drunk zone anyway. We saw all the trials and the midget race, so we only missed the final sprint car race (which I felt bad about, but it did get us home an hour earlier, and it was already waaaay past some little boys’ bedtimes.)
The next day my parents had to go home, but we traveled part of the way with them. I was on the search for shoes to wear to Kaeli’s wedding, and nowhere around us had anything, so I decided to check out the Fairfield/Vacaville area where there’s tons of shopping. We went to the mall first, and while my mom, Rowen and I shopped, Dan wandered around and my Dad took Damien to play. He ‘rode’ on coin-operated cars (without coins in them) and they went on the carousel.
We were shopping in JC Penney’s when we got a very scary call. Damien had gotten away from my dad when he looked away for a second. My dad didn’t see which way he went and was afraid to leave the spot he was in, in case Damien had gone into a nearby store or something (which, as it turns out, was exactly what happened, though of course we didn’t know that at the time.) My heart dropped right out of my chest. The immediate problem was that we were on the second floor with Rowen’s stroller, and my dad was on the first floor. With no elevator in sight I sent my mom down the escalator to help them, and went in search for an elevator while trying not to completely break down. I found a Penney’s employee who took me down the service elevator, since the normal elevator was out of service (because why wouldn’t it be when I really really needed it?) One of the employees also brought me to mall security so I could make a report. I learned that a missing child report is known as a Code Adam and that I remembered exactly what Damien was wearing. I can’t tell you how horrible it felt, and the fact that I was alone with no idea what was going on made it worse.
I called Dan to see if he knew what was going on. It was hard to hear on the phone but I eventually figured out that my parents had found Damien and the security guards hadn’t communicated yet – I also didn’t get any of my parents’ calls, so apparently that mall has terrible reception. We rejoined them and I hugged Damien for about five minutes straight and started crying for the first time (I have no idea why I didn’t cry earlier because I am totally a crier. I guess it was the adrenaline or something.) He was gone for 20 minutes or so but it felt like so much longer. In fact, Damien didn’t even know he was lost; he had just wandered into a sporting goods store and was checking out the merchandise (“Playing golf balls” was the explanation he gave me, whatever that means. I’m surprised the store employees didn’t try to track down his parents because I’m sure he didn’t pick up after himself…)
After we had all recovered a bit we decided to finish our shopping, with two people watching our little escape artist at all times. Since I totally struck out on shoes in the mall, we decided to head over to the outlets in the next town. My dad and Dan took Damien to play/ride the train in the kid’s area while the rest of us shopped, and I actually managed to find shoes that worked and then rejoined them. Damien ended up getting several train rides.
I sincerely hope I never ever have to share another story like the toddler-missing-in-mall one again, but I have to confess that it’s probably direct karma raining down on my head, since I did the same thing to my mom when I was around Damien’s age (I think I was three, so I should have been slightly more responsible, maybe.) The difference was that I actually left the store she was in, walked across the mall, and went into a totally different store (the Disney store, actually) where I informed a nice-looking mom that I was lost, when in fact I had just completely abandoned my family all on my own.
The moral of the story is, when toddlers are in big malls, keep them strapped down. I intend to keep mine tied up (well, buckled in) in his stroller from here on out, until he’s older. Like 13 maybe.
I haven’t done an update on Damien in a long time (well, since May, when he was almost 2 1/2.) Now we’re four months away from three and life is getting reaaally interesting.
Eating: Thankfully Damien is not a picky kid, but he doesn’t always want to eat at all, so sometimes we resort to “here’s a bag of Cheerios/Annie’s gummies/whatever you’ll put in your mouth.” He LOVES breakfast and eats a ton, then he’s not so much into lunch and usually just snacks. Dinner is somewhere in between. Favorite foods include pasta, pancakes, cold cereal (seriously, he loves all of my non-sugary mom cereal, lol), and anything with chocolate in it – especially chocolate milk. The only food he outright refuses is food he thinks is too hard to eat (like a sub sandwich with lots of veggies on it, or a pizza slice that’s too big for him) but usually if you offer him food in manageable pieces he’s willing to try it.
Sleeping: Sleeping is the hot topic at our house recently. With a newborn bunking in with us (usually in his cosleeper but admittedly he does spend some time in the actual bed) we just can’t have a toddler in the bed too, for both safety and sanity reasons. So the plan is that I help put Damien to bed and lay down with him until he falls asleep, but if he cries out in the night Dan checks on him, and Damien stays in his own bed until it’s light outside. We let him get in bed with us in the morning for light snoozing, since I’m not really sleeping at that point anyway.
Well, the only problem is that Damien’s reaction to all the changes (new baby/new house) was to first reject both Dan and me, and then to continue rejecting Dan (and me when Dan isn’t around, but when we’re both here he gets the brunt of it.) So when Damien wakes up screaming and Dan goes in there, Damien’s reaction ranges between “GO AWAY DADA” to a full out top-of-the-lungs screaming, shrieking banshee tantrum (which he’s NEVER done before now.) It sucks, epically. (Don’t worry, Damien saves a few of these horrible tantrums for me in the daylight hours, but there’s something special about them when they occur at 3am and you desperately want to be unconscious.) After a few weeks of this we had a serious middle-of-the-night family meeting with Damien and it appears we broke through to him. He still wants me in there all the time and says mean things to Dan, but at least he’s not throwing demon-from-hell tantrums. (Update: he’s thrown one more tantrum, albeit not the worst one ever, but it does seem like we’re making progress.)
Oh, and one thing that’s helped for whatever reason is we found Damien’s Soothe and Glow Seahorse (formerly known as ‘crackhorse’) in a box of baby stuff and he’s readopted it for nighttime cuddles. We’ve literally been trying since he was born to get him to adopt just one solitary thing for self-soothing and it looks like he FINALLY did (and what a nice thing to adopt too, since we can easily replace it if it’s lost.)
Language: Damien is basically talking like a normal person with a speech impediment these days. He speaks in full sentences 90% of the time and has, in the last month, finally integrated “I” into his vocabulary (instead of saying “you” for himself); he still says things like “hold you” very rarely but it’s mostly “I” or “me” now. He still has a few little toddler speech quirks – both Ls and Rs are Ws, for example, so in our house we have “Wowen” and “Wipwey”.
In the past two months Damien has started doing imaginative play, which is super fun to watch. The first video is from the beginning of the summer, and the second video is from yesterday, which gives you an idea of how his language has developed in a short time.
“My fork is going to vacuum things!”
Damien, handing me a toy oven mitt while also wearing one: “Mama, we’re football catchers! I’m an outfield catcher and you’re an infielder!”
Damien: “You’re gonna make your baby brother cry.”(in this case, “you” = “me”)
Me: “You should try to make him laugh!”
2yo: “NO YOU WANT TO MAKE HIM CRY.” Can’t wait…
Completely apropo of nothing: “I’m gonna sniff Mama all the way to the balloon ship!” (Since then, the balloon ship has shown up a lot in conversation. He’s even asked us to draw it, despite the fact that he invented it and we have no idea what it looks like.)
“A strange thing happened! I fell into a berry bush.”
New Wheels on the Bus verse; proof my son’s childhood is quite a bit different than mine: “Mama’s phone on the bus goes buzz, buzz, buzz…”
“There are ants on my butt!”
“Get out of the infield! You strike out of baseball! You strike out of tennis and tee ball too!”
“Mama, ‘oof’ is a funny word!”
“A snail came out of my dream.”
“The toolbox will come back at some point.”
There’s a bird tweeting outside: “Mama, is that birdy asking for its mommy, Mama? Is there a worm?”
He found a sequin: “Mama, is this a policeman?”
Damien hands me a book: “Mama, read this to me!” It’s the Bedford Handbook.
“Is that your braids? Are they strong like Jesus?”
(Backstory: we have two versions of the same bedtime book. In one of them, something sticky got on one of the pages and ripped the baby’s face.) “Look! The baby’s face is not ripped! It is pretty and nice and beautiful!”
“My hair is like a merry-go-round!”
Damien: Lookit! Baby Rowen is looking at me!”
Me: He’s probably thinking, “I love my big brother.”
Damien: I love my little brother!
(Lest you think it’s all rainbows and sunshine with the new baby, here’s a quote from when Rowen was two weeks old:)
“I want to eat him away from you. I want to catch him in a net and throw him in the oven for baby and me.”
“My hand is dirty. It had bread sprinkles on it.” (Crumbs. He means crumbs.)
“What do you want to drink?” “Mingo juice!” (Mingo = mango)
(Damien made a creature using all of his animal Duplo blocks)
Dan, to Damien: That’s a chimera!
Damien, to me: That’s a come-here-a!
Damien’s version of “This Little Piggy”, using my hand:
“This little finger goes to Hawaii,
This finger goes to the South Pole.
This finger goes to the left.
This finger goes to the right.
And this finger…”
(Suddenly gets distracted by his own hand)
“My fingers are LITTLE!”
Ever since Rowen was born I’ve had a cough (not sure if it’s childbirth-related at all, or an asthma thing – we did recently move to a new house, after all) and Damien has been super interested in my cough drops. He asks me to stick out my tongue so he can see the cough drop and then asks what I’m doing with it. He also keeps asking for one, but I say no because it’s medicine and he isn’t sick. So one day I hear him making teeny tiny coughs: “Aha, aha… Mama, I have a cough! I need a cough drop!” I laughed for like ten mintues straight (and didn’t give him a cough drop.)
And here’s a parenting gem from Dan: “There’s never a good time to eat your shoe.”
(I just realized I never posted this! Oops! Well, here’s a flashback to over a month ago…)
I had a Grand Plan for the Fourth of July weekend. On Thursday, we were going to leave right after my mom’s class/Damien’s swim lesson/Dan’s work and drive to my parents’ new house. We would then go visit my sister Kassi at summer camp and watch the rodeo (she’s a counselor at Cowboy Camp so it’s kind of her deal) and come back to their house that night (they live 35ish minutes away from the camp.) We’d find fireworks to go see on Friday, and on Saturday a bunch of family would be coming over for a Baby Sprinkle (like a baby shower, only much smaller because it’s for a second child) (this wasn’t actually MY plan; my mom and sister surprised me with it because they’re nice like that.)
Well, I forgot to factor in a few things. Mainly one thing: holiday weekend traffic. We left only a few minutes after I had originally planned, but every freeway we traveled on was gridlocked. I only stopped twice – once for Del Taco/bathroom break, and once for gas/bathroom break (we also ran into the Target next door to buy baby wipes because, in a Mom of the Year moment, I forgot them) and the normally 2 hours 15 minutes trip took close to six hours. Ugh. (Thankfully my mom sat next to Damien and kept him happy, and Ripley is probably the best traveler out of any of us, so at least the littles were taken care of.)
So, we completely missed the rodeo (sorry Kassi! We were very bummed) and ended up eating dinner late at my parents’ house. Ripley was very excited to see her old pals Molly and Jethro for the first time since Christmas, and Damien was excited to have a few more furry friends to cuddle (especially the cat, who is pretty much the only cat in the world who’ll allow it from him.)
On Friday we ran some errands and ended up at the El Dorado Fourth of July Family Blast. There were lots of kid activities and contests; Damien had fun going through the hay bale maze (well, going over it, like most of the kids were) and playing with hula hoops (there was an actual hula hooping contest at some point.)
He even wanted to ride a pony, which is something he’s never showed interest in before. My dad walked right next to him while I alternated between being amazed he was so grown up and worrying that he’d somehow fly off (he wouldn’t hold on but actually rode really well, probably better than me, haha.)
We ate sandwiches and picked up a few treats from the vendors (which sadly included the world’s longest wait for garlic fries – they somehow lost Dan’s order) and waited for the fireworks. Damien went hyper and crazy trying to stay awake post-9pm, but once the fireworks started it was worth it – he was so amazed and excited. This was his first fireworks show (not like he’d remember an earlier one) and though he was quiet through the show, he couldn’t stop talking about it in the days afterward.
So, the next day was our mini shower, or as I call it a ‘sprinkle’. :) My mom and sister invited some family over to my mom’s house for dinner on Saturday; most people couldn’t come but at least all my immediate family was there, plus Dan’s mom and her boyfriend. Kaeli and Jay even brought their dog, Shawnie, so the four dogs (who at one point all lived in the same house) had a little reunion in the backyard (they seriously had a great time; it was like a doggie party! Haha.) Despite my parents’ propane tank running dry midway through food prep (talk about great timing, right?) (since my parents just moved in the propane company hadn’t come to refill it yet) the food was amazingly yummy and I ate way too much. Dan and I – and New Baby, of course – were blessed with adorable and super useful baby gifts. Marcia gave us this cosleeper, my parents contributed the carseat, and Kaeli and Jay bought us a swing – so basically, all of the most important things Rowen will need! (Despite parents and a family who will love him like crazy, of course – although I guess they’ll help contribute that too!)
Somehow my family and I managed to take exactly zero pictures, so here are some from Ray (thanks Ray!) –
(Continued from this post, which was getting way too long.)
After my mom’s first week of school, my dad was done with his conference and came to our house to spend the weekend with Damien. He got there Saturday morning, just in time to go with my mom and me to take Damien to Sabbath School. We hadn’t been there in a few weeks (okay, over a month) (the end of school was super stressful, what can I say?) so it was a program Damien wasn’t familiar with, but he still did pretty good at participating.
After we got home Dan and I packed up our stuff to head out for our first and only overnight trip since Damien was born. I thought it would be a good idea to see how he’d react before I was actually in labor/at the hospital. During the day he did great – he took a nap with my dad, then they blew bubbles and went on a walk with Ripley and climbed on some rocks.
I guess Damien woke up during the night and wasn’t impressed that we weren’t there (and was up for 45 minutes; sorry parents) but he did great the rest of the time. And on Sunday my parents took him to a train park (this one; I warned them that it wasn’t that great and my mom said it was actually better than she expected based on my description, lol. Oops.) Damien of course loved the train, and also rode the carousel and, surprisingly, the plane ride (which was kids-only, meaning he rode it all by himself. And he rode it twice too!) On the way home he got to go to one of his favorite eating establishments – Taco Bell – and then got an ice cream cone. Lucky boy!
Meanwhile, Dan and I headed out for our weekend, which wasn’t very exciting but was still fun. We stopped at a deli for sandwiches and had a picnic in the park, went to coffee at Peet’s, and checked into our hotel. When we were talking about a night away we were debating between a less-expensive hotel in a prettier area, or a more-expensive hotel in a less fun area, and eventually decided to go with the second option because I figured I’d be too exhausted to do much. Well, we guessed correctly. Even though we were right next to all kinds of amazing shopping I only made it to two or three stores before I was completely wiped out, and I sat on benches while Dan walked around, lol. Our hotel room was nice though, with a giant comfortable bed and a jacuzzi tub that, while a little smaller than I was expecting, was still definitely something I wanted to take home with me (especially at 35 weeks pregnant – being in water is the best thing ever!)
We were right across the street from an Olive Garden and happened to have a gift card, so that’s where we went for dinner. To our delight we saw this special:
Both of our favorite entrees were on there, as well as Dan’s favorite dessert (that I’ll gladly share, since dessert is pretty much my favorite dessert) so we were pretty excited, and the food was yummy as always.
The next day I picked Damien up a few things at the baby/kid outlet stores, we went out to lunch at B.J.’s (there was one right down the road from our hotel, and it was delicious but SUPER crowded and slow – we defintely had a leisurely lunch) and then we headed home. It was definitely a laid back overnight trip but it was fun, and my only regret is that we weren’t able to do it before I was practically incapacitated by pregnancy. I was amazed that despite my insane pregnancy hormones I was able to say goodbye to Damien and say goodnight to him on the phone without crying (just barely, but I made it!) Though I know it seems forever in the future, I’m already thinking of a 2-3 night trip, maybe on the coast somewhere, with Dan (and NOT pregnant) when I feel comfortable enough leaving New Baby (so probably in two years or so…)
Another good thing is that I feel reassured for leaving Damien once I go into labor (as long as my parents are able to get there in time I guess, which they should be, since they’re just over two hours away now. Dan’s mom will also be working in the area around my due date, so that’s nice – we shouldn’t have to leave Damien with a random neighbor or anything, haha.) I feel bad that he (Damien) missed us during the night (although it’s nice that he didn’t completely forget we exist!) but luckily he forgot it quickly the next day and didn’t seem too emotionally scarred.
Oh, here’s one more summer happening I want to squeeze into this post: swimming lessons! I wanted to enroll Damien in swimming lessons last year but with our mid-summer move, never managed to do it. This year I started looking into swimming lessons earlier and found that our local pool offered lessons, but starting at age three and sans parent. Since Damien isn’t all that comfortable in the pool I kept looking, and found mommy and me lessons (actually called Shrimp and Lobster so as not to exclude daddies, haha) at a pool about 25 minutes away. The lessons were at a more convenient time of day and were $25 cheaper, so I was sold and signed us up. We started the lessons last week and continue this week. They’re Monday through Thursday and in a class of kids ranging from ages 1-3. Damien likes the singing and some of the games; he’s not so sure about putting his face in the water but we’re working on it. It’s funny because a big drawback of lessons for me in the past was having to wear a swimsuit everyday and feeling uncomfortable – well, now I’m nine months pregnant and definitely as big as I’ve ever been and I’m out there in the pool with Damien. It’s actually nice because I can move a lot easier in the pool, but it’s still good exercise (the kiddie pool ranges from 1-3.5 feet deep and I’m squatting or crouched carrying Damien the whole time. I definitely felt it in my thigh muscles after the first day or two!)
(to be continued in part three… which is why I shouldn’t wait until weeks later to write about things)