What's happening with the Hill family!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Is my one year old a tanorexic?

The other day a stranger in a store felt the need to share with me that she thought I wasn't putting enough sunscreen on my kids and that, prepare yourself, the sun causes cancer. I would like to now respond to that random woman in Super Target by saying the following: You Are Just Jealous!

I have always tanned easily and apparently my children are following my genetic suit. When Connor was a baby, I slathered him in sunscreen and basted him more regularly than a Thanksgiving turkey and that kid still crisped up to a golden brown by Memorial Day. I wondered while pregnant with Hudson, if he would have the same complexion as his older brother. He doesn't. Hudson has the complexion of a Hispanic child. He came out of the womb with a tan a la George Hamilton. But still, because I believe that a sunburned baby would earn me a place in the mommy hall of shame, I SPF'd the daylights out of that kid and yet he still spent all of last summer with skin the color of a dry roasted almond. We just can't help it.

So now summer is within reach and Hudson is attracting the comments and thinly veiled criticisms from the pasty white public. Listen up people, we can't help it! Hudson started getting tan lines around spring break and now has a full on farmers tan. He has white lines from the folds of his neck fat and white bands on his feet from the straps of his sandles. I know what you are thinking and yes, the overall look is pretty hillbilly but it will all even out once we start hitting the pool.

Ahhhh, the pool. Summer is so glorious for my two little boys and I. By June 5th, I expect us all to be glowing with health, vigor and of course, golden tans. There is one notable exception to this summer postcard, however, and his name is Matt Hill. Granted, he doesn't get as much quality pool time as the rest of us since he is burdened with a job that doesn't respect school holidays, but still Matt just doesn't have that innate ability (some might call it a gift) to tan easily. Bless his heart though, he really does try. He is always that guy walking around where you can see exactly where he missed with the sunscreen by the angry red burn staring at you. I teased him last summer by saying that when the four of us went out together we looked like a segment from Sesame Street. You know, the one where they ask what in the group doesn't belong.....three brown people and one bright white :)

Before you alert the skin cancer police, let me just be clear that I will still be suncreening both of my kids this summer. What kind of mother do you think I am after all? Heaven forbid Hudson get premature wrinkles or have old lady hands in kindergarten. Good grief, we have our pride :)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The long farewell....to diapers

I am of two minds these days. Hudson is trying desperately to potty train and I am kind of torn about it. Potty training wasn't even on my radar for the little man, so I was completely taken by surprise a while back when he all of a sudden took a serious interest in it.

Connor was super easy to potty train, he just had to be ready and that readiness did not land upon him until he was at least 2 1/2. I was fine with that because once he was ready, there was no looking back. I thought I would be facing a similar time frame with his younger brother.
But as usual, when I think I have some aspect of motherhood figured out, my children show me I am wrong (I think it entertains them). I hadn't factored in the big brother element. Mushy wants to do everything just like his Connie, including going to the potty. So we just went for it.

Problem the first: Connor always just used the regular toilet, as he is a giant this was never a problem. Hudson is minuscule in comparison so no amount of balance, leverage or hovering on my part could keep him from falling into the bowl. This was a disappointment to him because that is the way big brother does it and he just does not have the physique yet to manage the porcelain throne. After several self esteem killing attempts and subsequent "toilet baths", he finally agreed to give his tiny potty a chance and it was going great. He was managing several successful trips a day and I was totally shocked because I never expected to have a little boy ready to potty train at 21 months.

Problem the second: Hudson did great going to the potty when he realized that he needed to go. When he was cloaked in a super absorbent diaper, he couldn't tell until he was in the midst of the act that the urge was upon him. Let's just say there is no switching horses mid-stream for this one. So Ms. Karen suggested underwear for the tiny tyke. No problem, I thought, I had saved all of Connor's early briefs for just this momentous occasion. It was an emotional evening when I unpacked that little pair of hand me down underoos, almost a ceremonial passing of the torch if you will. Hudson was so excited to be just like his brother, but when we slipped them on we discovered that Hudson absolutely does not have a size 2T rump. They were so big that all his bits and pieces hung out of one leg hole. Matt took one look and said, "Absolutely not, this is indecent Melissa." Thus began our search for tiny training pants. In actuality Hudson's midsection is holding strong at 12 months, but I would settle for 18 because I thought that would be easier to find. Nope. Apparently tiny children don't need training pants in this world. I imagine there is a huge untapped market of parents whose kids are hanging out at the low end of the growth chart, just desperate for underwear. My mom looked everywhere while I searched online and we finally came up with some that we thought would work. They are still gigantic but at least an improvement from where we started. Plus it isn't everyday you get the luxury of wearing underwear that simultaneously keeps your rear end and your nipples covered.

Hudson loves his training pants, he keeps patting them and saying, "Connie? My Connie?" It brings him such happiness to know that he is just like his older brother and it makes me want to cry. I am sad because we are slowly letting go of the last vestiges of babyhood and I am not ready. Since he is our youngest and last, I thought that we would have longer to enjoy it and yes, I am sappy enough to consider diaper changes something to miss.

Experienced parents tell us all the time that we will blink and they'll be grown and I totally get that and frankly, it hurts. I am so looking forward to seeing what kind of men my sons will become one day but right now, I just want to keep them little for as long as possible. I am, after all, the woman that kept turning a six month old Connor over on his back like a turtle to "prevent" him from crawling (it didn't work). Matt, my ever constant dose of reality, was kind enough to say after watching me get misty eyed once again watching Hudson run around in his underwear/unitard ensemble, that he imagines after a few more months of cleaning human waste out of a tiny plastic basin (an exercise he calls "character building") I'll be changing my tune.

I hate when he's right :)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Worth a thousand words

Last week we took our annual family photos. This is a major mental undertaking for me and tends to stress me out. For the second year in a row our photographer was the wonderful Andrew Shepherd, son of the equally wonderful Ms. Karen (we like to keep it all in the family). Andrew is a documentary photographer and his clientele is usually much cooler and undoubtedly more cooperative than us.

I used to get the kids, and especially Connor's, photos taken all the time with a local photographer. I literally have monthly shots of Connor from birth to almost three posed with various themed props. These pictures are great, but I really started to notice that they all began to look like they belonged in a children's clothing catalog. While I think that my kids are catalog-worthy, it may come as a surprise to none of you that perfection is not the norm in the Hill Household.

Here is a major news flash......sometimes my kids don't cooperate, sometimes they get pissed and sometimes one or all of us cries. I love that Andrew captures that in our photos. Was it nearly impossible to get all four of us in one frame for a family shot, yes. But such is our life right now and the only person that seemed frustrated by that was me. Through lots of patience and chasing on his part, Andrew managed to capture in less than two hours a fantastic glimpse into our everyday life as a family. We laugh at each other, get mad at each other and run until someone's shorts fall down. We don't always smile on command or even under serious threat of ice cream deprivation.

So in conclusion, do we seek out adventure as fast as our tiny legs can carry us? Yep. Do we want to "accidentally" fall into a lake just so we can see how cold it is? Absolutely. Do we want to touch a duck with our bare hands and make it our very own? More than you could ever know. Am I glad that I have photos of this? Oh yes.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day 2010

Today is Mother's day (or what's left of it at least) and just like any holiday with my boys, it was chaotic and joyful. My kids love a holiday, hallmark or otherwise and Connor gets so excited about celebrating anything and today I was the lucky recipient of that joy.

I told Matt that the only thing I really and truly wanted for Mother's day this year was something the boys made. Gifts are really not one my love languages, but it is certainly one of Connor's and he gets such pleasure out of presenting someone with something, even if it is an obscure thing he found in his closet. He will wrap it up and practically dance up to them to show his love. This morning he gave me his gift and it was wonderful. It was a card that he and Mushy had made "all by themselves". Actually book would be a more accurate description, it's pages filled with pictures of me and the three people I love most in this world. It was the most perfect present ever and while I have been given gifts in my life that cost a lot more money, none have ever had this much love put into them. Connor's explanation was just as thrilling, he laid out for me exactly what he was responsible for (everything) and what Hudson contributed (two wet spots where he drooled). He turned every page for me and couldn't wait to tell me what he meant with every illustration. I love it for so many reasons, the least not being that he drew me as the skinniest stick figure I have ever seen.

I know it doesn't come as any surprise to those of you that read this blog regularly but I love my kids. I am so proud to be their mommy and I wish that I could put into words what joy those four pieces of construction paper brought to me. I don't even care that my sweet and helpful husband selected some of the most unflattering photos of me ever to be immortalized in digital media to include in this book. I really don't :)

Just like all of our holidays, we got so caught up in the action of going and doing, church, lunch, naps and baths that we didn't get much time at all to sit and be still together. But in all the craziness, I saw moments with my sons today that made me feel blessed beyond measure. My favorite had to be when Connor stumped his toe and was having a tired, tearful moment and before I could get over to comfort him, his little brother was sitting down next to him. Hudson hugged him and said, "Sowwy Connie". Connor buried his face in his little brother's chest and said, "I love you so much Mushy. But next time don't call me Connie, that's a ladies name." If that isn't the pot calling the kettle Mushy than I don't know what is.

That glimpse of compassion, love and of course, humor, makes me a happy mother indeed.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Curse you Kai Lan!

Connor is an addict. What could a four year old possibly be addicted to? Television. In particular, a certain channel that I believe was created by the devil, called Nick Jr., formerly known as Noggin. For those of you lucky enough to not be familiar with this channel, it is entirely dedicated to programming for preschoolers, no commercials. Sounds nice, right? Wrong!

Let me preface this rant by saying that I never in a million years thought I would be one of "those" parents that didn't allow their kid to watch TV. I love TV, I really, really do. I feel angst in my heart if I have to miss a single episode of The Office or Modern Family. For a long while, Connor had no interest at all in the television. I used to be desperate for a fifteen minute break and would fix him up all nice and cozy in front of Sesame Street, but he wasn't having it. He was much more interested in trying to jump from the coffee table to the couch. One day, though, it just clicked and he started to tune in.

Soon though we noticed that he was no longer able to do anything else while watching his "cartoonies." He would stand immobilized, completely transfixed by that bilingual siren, Dora the Explorer. He could only tear his eyes away from Kai Lan long enough to ask me when we would be celebrating the Chinese New Year with dumplings and paper lanterns. It finally got so bad that on more than one occasion we found him in the middle of the night in the living room, sitting two inches away from the screen talking to Diego about Pumas and baby Jaguars. It was all a little too poltergeist so we cut him off cold turkey. At the beginning of last summer,we unplugged the TVs, told him they were broken and prepared for the withdrawal.

It did not go over well. He went through several stages of grieving. There was anger, tears and finally reluctant acceptance. It was always on his mind though. One afternoon I asked him what he was drawing with his sidewalk chalk. His reply? "Kenny and Stuart watching cartoonies and a itty bitty bird who is crying." It didn't take a psychology major to figure that one out. When he kept asking people when we went to visit their houses, if their TVs were broken too, we had to come clean.

Now, lest you think we are the meanest and cruelest parents of all time, let me say that after the first couple of intense months of rehab, we integrated some Nick Jr. back into his life. He doesn't get to watch everyday but he seems okay with it. When he is allowed to watch his cartoonies he is so overjoyed, it almost makes me feel bad. Almost.

This first tiny glimpse into the world of tough love made me realize that it sucks. I can't even imagine facing off with a rebellious teenager. But I'll worry about that tomorrow. Today I rest easier knowing that I no longer have to live in fear of a giant-headed Chinese girl brainwashing my son through the TV screen. Whew!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Diagnosis: Something we can't pronounce/Something totally made up

Last Saturday night, Hudson woke up around 11:00 crying. This is a very rare occurrence so I rushed in to see what was going on. He was definitely running a fever, so I gave him some Motrin, tucked him back in and hoped he would feel better in the morning. He has been hard at work on his two year molars so I was keeping my fingers crossed that they were the source of his fever.

However, the next morning his 101 had gone up to 103. He was miserable all day and felt like a little space heater. We just could not get his fever down and he wasn't acting the way I thought a sick baby should. Instead of being fussy and irritable, he was totally out of it. He was in and out of sleep all day long and this totally freaked us out. Normally his energy level runs at about a high octane level, this was definitely not normal behavior.

Finally around 7:00, we took his temp again and it was 104.9. We panicked. He was burning up and sweating while simultaneously shivering. Normally, Matt and I like to alternate our moments of parental panic, but this was a tough one. We were torn between rushing him to the ER or waiting to get a call back from his pediatrician. We decided to wait and I gave him a cool bath while Matt cross referenced his symptoms in our copy of What to Expect the Toddler Years also known as The Biggest Piece of Alarmist Propaganda to ever hit paperback. Ten minutes later he came in and said, "Don't freak out but Mushy has meningitis. It may be bacterial or maybe the other kind that I cannot pronounce." I snatched the book out of his hands, because in a crisis the only reading skills I trust are my own, and I agreed. Hudson had a grand total of two out of seven possible symptoms of meningitis. I decided we were all headed to the hospital and not the crappy one by our house either, a good one.

But in the midst of dressing and packing the doctor called us back (finally) and talked me off the ledge. We took his temp again and it was lowering although painfully slowly. She told us to bring him in first thing to their office, unless of course, those other five missing meningitis symptoms presented themselves in the night. They didn't.

We made it through a sleepless night and in the morning Matt took him to the doctor. As is typical for both my kids, the moment we sign the receipt for our thirty dollar copay, they are miraculously healed. It never fails, they could be on their last leg on the car ride over and as soon as money changes hands in the sick kid waiting room, they instantly feel well enough to laugh, dance on the scale and yell "hi" to every person they see. Essentially they make their exhausted, worried parents look like idiots for bringing perfectly healthy, blissfully happy children to the doctor. I often wonder if I just hand them thirty bucks at home, we could save ourselves the trip.

So after all that the doctor proclaimed him a victim of a slight sinus infection and something she called a "fever virus," a virus whose only symptom is a really high fever. I call that "totally made up." But whatever, he is back to his normal, happy-go-lucky Mushy self and we all live to laugh another day. I'll take it.