Thursday, January 31, 2008

First post...our world with Benjamin!

Welcome to "the schiltz", as our blog has been named by Aaron. With this first post, the possibilities of what could be written as the perfect first post are essentially limitless. However, with the birth of our second baby right around the corner, I thought this first post could be a quick update just about Benjamin. He is as ready as a toddler can be for the arrival of a sibling, and will adjust well I think, but I would love to remember a few of the details of our live as they currently stand...just Ben, Mommy and Daddy.

He is in a WONDERFUL stage! He is 2 years, 2 months old, and is just every bit the "Golden Child" that his Nana lovingly calls him. He is bright, very verbal, surprisingly insightful for his age, and just a pleasure to be raising right now. We have certainly had our ups and downs over the past 2 years, and there have been periods of time that were very much a struggle, but, these days, things are just about as pleasant as they could be.

Here, in no particular order, are some of the things that stand out about Ben these days:

-He is just beginning to understand humor, and loves to laugh with us and to make us laugh by being silly and saying silly things. He especially loves to laugh with Aaron and to make Aaron laugh. When Aaron gets home from work, the two of them will often snuggle on the bed in our room after Daddy changes from his work clothes, just talking and tickling and playing with each other, and I will hear Ben laughing harder and longer than he has laughed all day. It is so hilarious and so sweet. It always makes me think about the fact that kids need 2 parents. Even though we have wonderful days together, no one makes Ben laugh like Daddy, so the importance of having the balance of 2 parents is always clear to me.

-Ben has begun using such "adult" language. Interestingly, every time that he is going through a big cognitive growth spurt, he will begin to stutter and repeat himself a bit while he is in the learning stage. Well, in November and December, he went through the worst phase of this that he has yet had. I kept thinking, "This must be a gigantic mental growth spurt." I also kept wondering, "When will this ever end??! I can't take all the repeating!!" Well, finally, just before Christmas the phase passed, and it was as if, overnight, his grasp and use of the English language had EXPLODED!! He is using such adult phrases such as, "Can I ask you a question?", "Remember yesterday when...", ""Do you think I can have this, Mama?", "I would like to try that please.", "Oh, Mama, I forgot my fire truck at the store! I guess we have to go back and get it!". Honestly, there are so many cute and wonderful phrases coming out that I could never come close to recording even the tip of the iceberg. Maybe on a future blog I can do a bit more listing.

-He is so good at "going with the flow". There are, of course, days when he protests getting dressed in a timely manner, or getting into the car as quickly as I might want him too, but for the most part, I can just tell him what is going on, what I need/expect from him, and then he will just get on board and we can go about our day. For example, I still do a little bit of speech therapy on Mondays, and so there are often some crazy mornings when we rush to get out the door and drive over to Granny and Grandpa's house. Then, as soon as we get there, we run inside to see Granny and I have to quicly head back out the door. Though he knows I won't be back for hours, he is so laid back in this routine that I can just give him a kiss goodbye, and he will happily go about playing with whatever toys particularly strike his fancy that day. He doesn't mind at all that some days are quiet, at home with just Mommy, and some days are crazy, running around and staying with Granny or having a family member o Katie Grealis babysit.
Now, to be honest, we don't live in a world where I can just drop him off with any number of people and have him not care in the least. But the truth is that, in choosing to be a family with a mom at home, Aaron and I are choosing to keep him a little more bonded to our family unit, and we are still happy with the results that we are seeing from this choice. He has the rest of his life to be independent from us and other family members, he's only a little guy for a little while longer, and we're happy to have him to stay that way as long as is possible.

-Ben is sleeping SO SO SO well these days! For anyone who has followed our sleep issues with him over the past 2 years, you will know that we have not had the easiest path with sleep. Aaron and I can see some things that we would have done differently if we hadn't been first-time paretns raising on our first child, and Ben is also just one of those kids who gets things on his own time schedule. But these days, his sleep runs like this: Aaron takes him to his room around 8:30 and snuggles with him for a couple of minutes, Then he lays him down and leaves the room. Ben, without protest or issue, falls asleep and then, sometime between 7 and 7:30 a.m. he will just call out that he is awake and we go get him. That's it!! So easy...and he goes down this well for others like Aunt GiGi, Grandpa, and Uncle Marty, too. His nap is from around 1:20 to 3:30, and is just as effortless.
The sleep thing has been such an interesting journey for us as parents. For so many months over the past 2 years, we have beaten ourselves up when he has been sleeping poorly. But now, to see that if we just continued to provide the framework for good sleep, that he would get there completely on his own without us ever having to force him or make him cry it out alone in another room is such amazing gratification!!

-He is a great eater. He, of course, likes any candy or treat that he can get, but he will also eat a wide variety of all foods. He is great with a good range of fruits and veggies, and, even though this seems like a boring thing to be excited about, as a mom who is trying to raise a healthy kid, this fact means so much to me. I feel like, so far, I have been a success at keeping his palate used to healthy foods, and I hope that we are starting some life-long healthy eating habits. Having watched so many friends and loved ones battle weight issues, it is really important to Aaron and I to raise our kids as healthily as we can, and watching him choose broccoli when it is available just warms my heart!!

-He is getting so creative in his play. Really, I'm not even going to write about this tonight because the things that he thinks to play are so varied and so intersting that this could be several different entries, at the least. I will add that he is still an excellent independent player, though. There are lots of times each day that he wants me to play with him, but there are also many times that he plays by himself with the most interesting and involved play schemes. And, other times, I will just walk into the living room and catch him standing on the couch, just watching the world go by outside our front door. I LOVE that he doesn't rely on me or on the television for interaction and entertainment.

-He is such a great "helper". Just tonight, he spent 30 minutes outside with Aaron in 20 degree weather, doing his best to help Daddy shovel snow off the sidewalk (using his "shovel" or dustpan as it is known to the rest of the world). He also loves to help with dishes and food prep for meals. And he NEVER lets me vacuum by myself. The second that he hears me turn the vacuum on, he will run to get his and will cover the entire floor keeping right up with me!

-He is getting so good with books! We read together everyday, though not even as much as maybe we should, and he has gotten to the point where there are several books that he can "read" himself. He has favorites that we read often, and there are story lines and certain pages that he always enjoys and will recite by himself in other contexts when something sparks his memory of them. It's so amazing to watch him develop this skill!!

-Ben has been SO loving to my belly! He loves to "snuggle the belly!" and will pull up my shirt when we are snuggling together and just pat my belly and give it a kiss every now and then. When we talk about the baby in there, he will always point to my belly button and say, "See, it's in there!" He thinks that somehow the belly button is an integral part of the fact that there is a baby in there. It is so unbelievably sweet to share these moments with him. I hope I never forget these last few sweet days together, as he and I just play and go about our days together, and prepare for the little one that will soon join us! Though it is bittersweet to see the end of our days alone together coming to an end, it is so exciting to think of this new, wonderful baby, and to think of Ben becoming a brother. I'm sure there will be plenty of rough times in the transition, but I think he will be an amazing brother to this baby, and I'm so glad that he (and the baby) will have the joy of having at least one sibling!

Well, I think this is a good place to stop for now. I didn't realize this post would get so huge, but it is so hard to just list a few things when each and every day Ben is learning, growing, and developing so much! Parenthood...what a trip!