Friday, November 30, 2007


We have a new word in our household. A word, that for me, symbolizes how closely our daughter connects my husband and I. Damum is the word given to both Sam and I. Dad and Mom. We get called this only when standing together. Or if she sees a picture of the two of us. "Damum!" Most of the time, when we are apart or she wants to tell only one of us something, we get called by the more traditional names of Mama and Dada. But how cool is it to be called a unit? "Damum!"

I think all couples struggle with the 'adjustment' that is parenthood. Adjustment is the biggest mis-nomer! And we have had our fair share of tiffs and arguments as to the "best" thing to do for her. But without a doubt, Sam and I are partners in this thing called life and this new adventure of parenting.

When we got married, I really resisted the whole notion of "the two should become one." For that reason, we opposed the unity candle and other references to "oneness" in our vows. We didn't feel that we should forget who we are as individuals just because we were getting married. We wanted to remain true to ourselves as individual beings. I would still be Megan and Sam would still be Sam but as a married couple, we'd be "Sam and Megan". I shuddered at the thought of unhealthy "co-dependent" lives. Who wants that? But as the years have gone by, we realize that being co-dependent is actually a good thing in marriage. You need to depend on the other person! That is one of the perks! When one is down, the other is up. And vice versa. We ARE a family unit. Yes, we still bring our own strengths to the relationship. And yes we still have our own thoughts and dreams but as a family, we are so much more invested in the other person's happiness.

So, after five years of marriage, I can say that I am happy to be in a partnership where I need my husband. I miss him when he isn't around! I depend on him, to some degree, to keep me laughing, calm and on an even keel. It is perhaps this close partnership that Seren also recognizes.

After all, according to her, we are most definitely a unit of one. Damum.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Back home, with Gratitude

We had a good time visiting family and friends in Flint, MI. The three of us traveled out on Thanksgiving day. Seren did well on the flights! Even though we didn't buy her a separate seat, we lucked out on three of the four flights- we were able to snag an extra seat. She LOVED wearing her big girl seatbelt. The fourth flight was a bit of a challenge. I sat with Seren, in the middle seat for two hours. But the man next to me, while easily 300 pounds, was a dad to a 2 year old and knew ALL of the songs and characters in Seren's Thomas book so he was a big help! He even had suggestions for "good" sippy cups. What a blessing to have very understanding folks next to us on the plane!

Our time with Sam's parents and sister was really nice. We relaxed and enjoyed eating together. Unfortunately, Seren got up every morning between 5:00 and 5:45am. She is still cutting those teeth and developed a head cold. (She shared this with me on the plane yesterday). So she had a bit of a rough time but it was so good to see her with her grandparents! She really enjoyed sitting with them and reading to them.

Seren is a very LOUD reader. She turns the page, and babbles to us, loudly. It is very sweet. She also is very clingy these days during her teething/cold. She will be playing along and then jump into our arms for a strong hug. She knows how to melt our hearts.

That being said, she is also getting very strong willed. Suddenly, as if over night, it seems as if many things are a struggle. Putting on shoes? The experience, if you ask Seren, can be likened to being forced into a tank full of sharks. Putting on a heavy winter coat? Being in a pit of snakes. And god forbid, you ask her to eat a green pea. Everything takes a LONG time and much negotiation. And creativity is a must! Which is why I found myself much of last week "feeding" stuffed animals before feeding Seren. It is very challenging. During one of these moments over our holiday break, I thought to myself, "One child is enough." I keep mentioning to other parents, with hope in my voice,"Well, this is a phase. It is a good thing- she is asserting herself. It will be better when she can communicate better." The more experienced parents simply just laugh. "You can tell yourself that."


But we had a blast being together for an extended period! I took two days off of work and just enjoyed PLAYING. We also had a photo shoot that Sam's dad put together. He has a love of photography and really did a nice job. We think we got a Christmas card picture out of the experience!

We have so much to be thankful for: our health, each other, our friends, our dear family, a home, and a daughter who has brought us so much joy. And so we enter the season of celebration and giving. I hope that we can continue to focus on the messages behind the season and not get too caught up in the insanity and consumerism. Wish us luck!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

18 month stats (18 months and 2 weeks)

Well, I was wrong. Last post I wrote about Seren filling out in her face. The amazing double chin? It is not the result of too much cheese, it is swelling from teething! Poor thing! She has hardly gained any weight at all. The doctor said that when they get the big molars, they often have swollen faces. Apparently red blotchy cheeks is also an indicator. She took one look at Seren and said, "So, she's getting teeth, right?"

Height: 33 inches (90%)
Weight: 22 lbs and 14 oz (50%) *Note, the Doctor said 50% but the online stats say between 10-25% for weight. Hmm...
Head is between 50-75%

The doctor said all looked good. Poor Dad said he had a heck of a time. Seren CLUNG to him for dear life. He said his collar was totally soaked in tears. The doctor said that this response is totally normal for 18 months. Sam sounded like he had been wrestling an alligator the way he spoke about how adamant she was about NOT wanting to be there. This time, unlike last time, she was ok with being weighed on the scale. Last time, Sam had to be weighed holding Seren and then weighed without Seren. Not exactly accurate. :)

I am surprised by the lack of weight gain. I SWEAR she is heavier. I'd like to see her gain some weight but I guess she is just a tall and lean peanut. I hope that some tylenol will take away the sting of a flu shot, a Hep-A shot and those four teeth that are giving her such swelling. As for the tired Dad? Maybe he'd like a doughnut? :)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Packing it on

Seren is gaining weight in time for the holidays! I can't believe it. I look at her face every night and swear that it has gotten bigger since I looked at her in the morning. She has a double chin! It is amazing! We can't quite figure out what is causing all of the weight gain. (It sure isn't the green peas she refuses.) Maybe the cottage cheese?

But it is good. It is about time! We go for her 18 month appointment (three weeks late) on Tuesday so that will be good. At that point, we'll hear how much our monkey weighs.

Speaking of monkeys, Sam has taught Seren how to "be a monkey" by hooting and moving her arms around. He also taught her last week to walk like a penguin. When she saw a picture of a monkey in a book yesterday, she stood up, started to walk like a penguin, realized that was the wrong animal and started to "be" a monkey. It was almost as if you could see the neurons firing! What a riot!

This weekend we had a spontaneous playdate with a neighbor of ours! The little girl down the street, who is about 8 years old, wanted to 'play' with Seren. Her aunt walked her down the street, knocked on our door and the playing began! There are few times in our lives where something happens spontaneously. Usually it is all planned, orchestrated, timed. But Saturday, a little girl in our neighborhood wanted to play with our little girl. And that was that! No planning. Just play. How refreshing!

Three hours and two cheese sandwiches later, Seren was ready for a nap and asking for her "Baa-baa" which is the stuffed sheep she sleeps with.

Thanksgiving week here we come!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

She is really ours, isn't she?

At 18 months old, you'd think I'd be over the "wow, that is our daughter phase." But honestly, I'm not. I just sit there sometimes and marvel at her. How the heck did we DO that? And we are the parents? What an amazing responsibility and joy.

This realization has hit me at different times in this journey for different reasons. At first, I was terrified. I cried when the NICU called to say we could take her home. This was it! This was the big moment! We were allowed to 'parent' without nurses, cords, beeping machines. I cried and then went into complete anxious mode. Oh my goodness! WE were the parents! Were we ready for this?!

Then there were a few months of "wow, so this is our new life?" Where did 'we' fit into that picture? Where did "Megan" go? What did it mean to have this new 'title' of Mom? What did it mean if sometimes I felt sad that my 'old' life seemed so far away? Did it mean I was a bad mom if I missed coffee with friends and hiking with my husband? Or is that just 'healthy' to still have a sense of 'self' after months of being a walking burp cloth.

At this point, I think I have worked through much of the new identity stuff. I am her mom. And I like it. That being said, we, as parents, don't allow ourselves to really delve into those ideas as much as I think we should. Because there is a LOT tied up in parenting. (More on this later). So I have worked through that. But I still look at my daughter through an almost mystical, magical lens. We gave birth to her. It still strikes me as surreal. Where did she come from, this little person? We have been blessed by her. She brings us such amazing joy! She reminds me that life is really precious and to try not to sweat the small stuff. She reminds me to love, love, love.

She is really ours, isn't she?

I'm including this picture of Seren looking at the sky as a fall leaf falls. It looks like she too is contemplating some of life's amazing mysteries.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Four New teeth? Pass the tylenol, please

This weekend was another fun weekend! I am getting really excited about Christmas plans. The cool air really helps- reminds me that the holidays are right around the corner! Sam and I spent a bit of time planning for the holidays and trying to think about what to get for our friends and family. This year, like last year, it is easy to shop for our daughter. She can be there with us! In a few years, this will be impossible to do.

Seren has four new teeth coming in and spent most of the weekend, when she wasn't playing, massaging her own gums. Poor little one! We were about to drive to a friends' home, about an hour away. She was crying in the back seat. We pulled out of our driveway and headed towards the freeway before we decided, ya know, a stop at the Wallgreens would be a good idea! 10 minutes later, Children's Tylenol was our new best friend. Can you imagine getting four new teeth now? I'd be a complete mess. No surprise she was too.

In other news, we spent some time with my parents this weekend. I am so glad to see the bond that is developing between my parents and my daughter. Seren used to be so scared of my father. No one could figure this one out as he is so gentle and so good with kids. But every time he held her, the tears would come. Now, she walked right up to "The birthday boy" (celebrating 64!) and gave him a little kiss on the cheek. What is it about kids' kisses that just makes everyone melt? I live for those kisses!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

All about the Dada

I know that there will be a time when our child will favor one parent over the other. One of us will be chopped liver and the other parent will be gold. And of course we each will have our own relationship with our daughter. Just like I have a unique relationship with my mom and my dad.

Seren, starting at age 1, only wants ME to hold her in public. Now this is in public. Which drives my poor husband nuts. If he is holding her, she'll reach towards me. So I hold her. But now the tide is turning. Last night, I rocked her to sleep and all she could think about or talk about? Dada. Over and over. "Dada, dada, dada, Dad."

I have my own hang ups and worries about being the one who is out of the house and missing out on her life as I work. So to hear this quiet, gentle chorus made me incredibly sad. I was near tears as I laid her down to sleep.

I told her I loved her. That "MOM" loved her and said goodnight. I dried my tears in the dark and was nearly over it by the time I left my room. I mean, how cool is it that she and Sam have a good relationship? Very cool. And I don't want my daughter to feel she has to 'make' me happy. I don't want that weight on her at this early age! I need to realize that this need to feel loved by her is very child-ish of me. And it is silly. Of course she loves me! But to hear only Dada and to have Dad get most of the kisses these days...tough.

I walked downstairs and started to do dishes. It was quiet, no sounds from the monitor. And then, a little voice. "Mama. Mom. Mamamama".

As one my "grandmas" at church would say, "My cup runneth over."

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Another take on the mysteries surrounding missing socks

(Two posts in one day?!)

You know the drill. You put a PAIR of socks in the washer and dryer but only one comes out. What happens to the other one? Did the dryer swallow it whole? Did you drop it somewhere between the washer and the dryer?

Or maybe, just maybe, did your toddler find it and decided that she only needed ONE leg warmer?

Acting it all out

I am pleased to see that Seren has developed a love of drama. We haven't yet taken her to a play but I have a feeling that she will love it. The reason why I think Seren will enjoy theater? She is acting out the pictures in her books.

Books and Seren have had a tedious relationship- as the pages in the books will attest. The first few months, the books were essentially chew toys. And then they were actual books- in that Mom and Dad read them to Seren. Then, around 15 months, she couldn't care less about them. Now, they are back in center stage. She carries them around and sits down to read them. One night last week, Seren was reading in the kitchen while Sam and I cooked dinner. We sat down to dinner in the dining room. Seren was still reading. We called to her, "Dinner!" No response. We finally had to go retrieve our little reader.

Last night, she refused to let go of "The Going to Bed Book". She held it close to her chest as she fell asleep on me. I pried it out of her hand as I placed her in her crib.

But all of this "love of books" aside, she is actually acting out the stories now. It is a riot! We aren't even reading to her and she'll flip open a page and do what the pictures are demonstrating. One book, there is a girl clapping, so, when Seren gets to that page, she claps. Another book has a picture of a boy scratching his head while he "thinks". Seren too scratches her head. Still yet a third has a picture of a doggy. She "woofs" and sticks out her tongue. Then there is the Curious George book of opposites. "Down" "up" "Forward" "Backward". Seren will squat down, then stand up, then walk forward and backward. I find myself looking at her thinking, "What the heck is she doing?" All of this is unprompted by us.

I love it! I love this age. I think I've loved every age but this "acting" is really a riot.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Halloween 2007

Wow! What a night! Seren had a complete blast! All week we got her 'used' to her costume. We spent a lot of time talking about Ladybugs and singing the Ladybug song from Sesame Street. (If you are in your late 20s-early 30s you'll remember it, right? 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12 ladybugs came to the ladybug picnic..._)

Sam took Seren to a parade that a local hospital had. Seren enjoyed parading in her costume. Sam said she didn't smile much but just took it all in. And did a little flapping. And the nurses, doctors and patients loved seeing the little kids.

I got home last night (after fighting a TON of traffic), we ate dinner and off we went! It took a few houses before Seren "got it". She then would take one or two pieces of candy and wave and say "bye-bye!" A few houses said to us, "Oh, well, we can't give her candy! What do we have?" We politely said, "Just seeing you is part of the fun!" Sam was bummed that I didn't let our neighbors give Seren the candy...which is really giving Dad the candy. :)

Seren loved trick or treating! We took lots of pictures and really enjoyed the night. My parents also came along for fun. So we were a group of four adults and one child! She didn't pull off her costume- she was a happy ladybug. She DID hold our hands very tightly and got a little scared by the night time and strangers in the dark. Holding our hands was FINE with me. If only one of us were holding her hands, she wanted the other parent too. I could hear her calling, "MOM" if I stayed back to speak to a neighbor a little longer.

I went as a flower to go with my ladybug. Sam said he was the gardener. I have always loved Halloween. Always! But this year was just a complete blast.