Monday, November 2, 2009

1 Benny Boo Bear Year

Ben and Mom and a cornfield: September 27th, 2009

The fall has been all about birthdays.  We've celebrated several, including 3 firsts, and have been on the go from here to there to spend time with our loved ones putting another year behind them and looking forward to many, many more.  The first birthday party was Levi's, which was at the Asheville Pizza Company.  Ben played arcade games, hung out with Mommy's old friends, and watched Levi smear orange icing all over his face, hair, chest and so on.  Ben looked on in horror while Levi was in heaven.  The next party was in Atlanta the day before this picture was taken and was Jack Oliver's party.  He was introduced to Yo Gabba Gabba and DJ Lance Rock and played with a billion toys and other kids while Jack enjoyed his celebration.  Ben looked on in horror again while Jack ate his entire smash cake in quite a different fashion from Levi, leaving hardly anything and not making too much of a mess.  The kid is my hero.  Ben loved spending time with his bros and getting a preview for what was to come later in the season.  Mom got more and more anxious with each party because she realized each one symbolized the birth of these children and Ben's day wasn't far behind.  The Turners traveled to the mountains in mid October for Aunt Nette's birthday party and spent a relaxing weekend in our favorite place, lounging around with relatives and exploring the mountain and it's beautiful fall foliage.  Aunt Nette was very happy to see Ben and the feeling was mutual, because he knows Aunt Nette loves him the best.

Over the course of September and October, Ben decided it would be a good time to ditch that baby creeping thing and get up on his knees for some good old fashioned crawling, and continues to do so with extreme speed and precision.  He crawls laps around and around the house, usually not disturbing a thing as he moves, but getting a great workout and keeping himself occupied in a Mom-Approved sort of way.  He tried so hard to pull up on furniture and would get halfway there before falling down on his butt and shaking it off.  He finally figured that move out this week and has been pulling up on any piece of furniture he can get his hands on, followed by a quick look behind him, smiling in anticipation of his cheerleaders (AKA: Mom and Dad) yelling "Biggest One!" and clapping.  Benny has an electric smile that lights up any room, is highly contagious and flashes it almost constantly.  It is impossible to be sad or angry as long as he's near - it's a proven fact.  Ben is also expanding his vocabulary and is now exclaiming "DaDDDD-ay" and "a-BoBB" along with his already acquired mamas and babas and such.  Everyone and everything is "a-BoBB" and "DaDDDD-ay" is reserved for the father formerly known as Bob.  I'm not sure when he'll start saying actual words but I'm thinking it won't be long now.  In fact, today, he said over and over again with authority "E-gee-ahh-di" and my mom had to double check Google to make sure he didn't pick up some Italian somewhere when we weren't looking.  He was serious every time he said it, furrowing his brow and yelling it like a command.  Big Ben is nearly 22 pounds, about 30 inches, and full of new tricks and smiles.

October brought reds, yellows, golds and browns to the mountain landscape and a bit of cool air to break up mild and balmy days.  It also brought plans for Ben's birthday party, which happened on Halloween, just as Mommy predicted the year before.  Ben's birthday party brought a house full of friends and family who love Benny and wanted to share his special day with him. Everyone had a blast, packed in like sardines, watching kids in costumes tear the house apart and prove to The Turners that our house isn't baby-proofed after all.  This point was driven home when Jack's mom, Danielle brought me a cup of picture hangers and nails from the top of a bookcase while Jack was quickly darting to the kitchen to get in a cabinet and dump Comet cleaner all over the floor.  This is definitely new territory, as Ben minds his own business as he runs laps around the house, occasionally unplugging something before moving on.  So in his house were a bunch of hovering parents, a mischievous Batman, a waddling Hotdog, a very upset Pumpkin (Benny) and an adorable Ladybug mixed in with others watching the madness ensue.  Ben's birthday cake moment was met with an unanticipated scream when he realized he couldn't shake the icing off of his hands.  Instead of diving into the cake, Ben screamed and threw a fit until his hands were clean.  He refused to give the cake a second chance and even had the same reaction the next day when it was presented again.  Once Ben loosened up, he had an awesome time and the day was a blur as The Turners made their way through the party, chatting and thanking everyone for coming and celebrating Ben's day.

The next day, Ben and the complete Turner package set out for the apple orchard to have a day of fun but were met with overcast skies, a fairly empty parking lot, and quiet where bustling crowds, music, rides and fun were the week prior.  Harvest season is winding down and Hendersonville's apple orchards are selling their last pecks and bushels before closing for the year.  The Turners roamed the property anyway and took advantage of one last photo opportunity before parting ways till next time.  Mom, Dad and Ben headed down the road for a birthday party with Grammie and Grandpa and opened presents, ate lunch, and took a very long, and well deserved nap.  Ben's actual birthday, November 1st has been quiet, peaceful and full of reflection over the last 365 days.  It's been bittersweet for Mom, who has chased down every moment since Ben's birth and tried to make it last forever.  The days are so short and are coming at us at warp speed and I wish we could just call a time-out sometimes to savor little moments like a mid-afternoon bottle in our arms, a goofy giggle session before bed, or a sweet cuddle in the early morning hours before he's fully awake and alert.  I remember nursing him in a football hold, clutching him with one arm and resting him on my chest for a late morning nap and I feel like it was yesterday, literally, that this was our routine.  Hard to believe that my little 8 pound baby is now speaking Italian, eating Spaghetti-O's and calling me Bob.  I feel like I will be chasing down these little memories for the rest of my life, recalling every insignificant detail and longing for days that are behind us while looking forward to the next milestone.  The only way to describe it is to call it bittersweet, and suddenly the same birthdays that I was so excited about as a child hold a new meaning from a mother's perspective.  An extremely powerful revelation indeed.  So one year later, I am sitting at home, listening to the cold wind whip around the trees outside and reflecting on an amazing year with my Boo Bear, and recalling that on this night last year I was cuddling my newborn son and imagining what life would be like.  So far, it's been amazing.  Love you Benjamin - Happy 1st Birthday!  Love, Mama

Monday, September 7, 2009

BIG Ben and notable late summer adventures

September 1st: 10 months and feeling fine

... and by BIG Ben, I mean TALL Ben.  29 1/4 inches tall.  Ben holds steady in the 75th percentile for height and is slightly smaller than average for weight in the 30th percentile at 19 lbs, 15 oz as of his 9 month check-up.  No shots this time, but the youngest documented blood-drawer graced Ben with her presence to take some of his precious blood out of his precious pointer finger.  She looked fresh out of her phlebotomy class at AB Tech and made me really nervous when she approached my unassuming little boy with a needle.  Luckily she didn't screw up too bad, but Ben was very unhappy about his interaction with her.

Ben and The Turners have been enjoying a few consecutive weekends at home.  We haven't traveled anywhere, engaged in ridiculous "home improvement" projects or been otherwise occupied with weekend warrior activities as we've become accustomed to.  Instead, we've hung out close to home, played with friends and enjoyed spending time together in a quiet, non-eventful manner.  It's been great.  Last weekend, Ben had a playdate with his buddy, Levi, at Carrier Park and the two mutually enjoyed each other with no meltdowns from Ben "Sensitive Scorpio" Turner.  As always, Levi was into everything and exploring the world around him with no worries while Ben observed quietly, secretly taking notes on how to be naughty when he got home.  They went to the playground to swing, played on a blanket in the middle of the park, and were quiet passengers in their "3 wheeler" strollers while their mommies burned fat and gossiped.

August 30th:  Levi shows Ben how Ball is played

Hanging out with Morty:

We've also taken advantage of our very local Patton Park in Hendersonville and enjoyed the scenery out here.  The Turners push Ben around and around on the path so he can enjoy the ducks, the pond, people playing soccer, and the skateboarders that hang around the skate park all summer.  He really isn't too impressed with most of that stuff, but is fascinated with the boys on skateboards.  The last time we went, we sat in front of the skatepark and watched the kids skate around the course until Mommy and Daddy got bored.  Ben, however, never got bored.  His gaze darted from one side of the park to the other, watching the colorful shirts and skateboards whiz by and listening to the constant chatter and wheels jump up and slam on the pavement over and over.  We really encouraged him to be into the ducks, but they just weren't as cool.

August 23rd: Pretending to care about flowers in Patton Park

BIG Ben is becoming a more adventurous eater at every meal.  He is finally tolerating chunky solids well enough to start eating table food regularly, so we've begun to wean him off of those delicious jarred Gerber selections and have started adding things like scrambled eggs, ground beef, fish sticks, yogurt, and sliced fruit to his high chair tray.  When he tries something new for the first time, he makes a face like it's poisonous and chews cautiously.  Once he swallows the first bite, he'll either open his mouth like a baby bird in anticipation of another yummy bite, or lean back and push up in his high chair as if he is trying to escape the torture.  If he really hates it, he'll shake his head "NO" and scream.  That makes for a  long feeding session with food in the nostrils, hair, and all over the back wall.

Smiling because he doesn't know how bad this chicken sausage tastes yet:

At 10 months, Ben is winding down his loving relationship with formula and the bottle.  We are hoping to make the bottle disappear by his first birthday, but this means he needs to start drinking from the sippy cup instead of chewing ferociously at the sippy part.  This will take a lot more practice, but I'm optimistic that we'll be able to have our ridiculous bottle collection boxed up and in the attic by November.
The end of August brought an end to the daily visits to Gram's house for rounds of knocking over blocks and watching Sesame Street on demand.  His last week was filled with long days because Mommy had so much going on at work, so he got a little extra Gram for the road.  He misses her lots, and smiles and giggles every time we ask him "Where's Gram?" as if he expects her to come around the corner.  He visited with her this weekend and was all smiles when she whisked him away to play with him and feed him treats out of Gram's kitchen.  They have both had a busy week apart, however.  Gram is catching up on the last 8 months of her life, and Ben is spending his mornings with Miss Crystal and Miss Melanie at Mud Creek.  On September 1st, Ben started his first day of school as a Mud Puppy, and had a fabulous day.  He was nervous at first, but by the time Mommy came to pick him up at noon, he was already a natural, playing on the floor with Miss Melanie and some new toys.  I peeked my head around the corner to spy on him and he caught me immediately, smiled real big, and looked down at his toys again like "Nice to see you - could you come back in an hour?".  He spent every day of the week getting acquainted with his new surroundings and other baby friends, and looked genuinely happy every day when I picked him up.
September 1st:  Totally excited to be wearing a backpack
In the afternoons, he helps me with paperwork or tags along on visits if my clients want to see him.  He came to the sheltered workshop with me on Thursday and brightened everyone's day with his smiles.  Ben's presence has such an incredible impact on people with disabilities.  It's amazing to watch people who would otherwise not acknowledge anything or anyone brighten up and approach Ben in order to interact with him.  Generally, Ben has a little "stranger danger" when we are out in public and will sometimes cry or complain if someone reaches out to grab him.  However, he is completely content with being touched and loved by people at the workshop.  The feeling is definitely mutual.  On days that I visit and I don't have Ben, I get approached by 30 people with the same question: "Where's your son?"
Summer is drawing to a close and Fall is in the air.  The temperature is falling (ever so slightly), the days are becoming shorter, and the fields are being harvested.  While I was pregnant, I watched a corn crop close to our house grow.  Planted in spring, the corn grew higher and higher every day and I knew that once it was harvested and plowed, it meant that Ben would be arriving soon.  I told Jacob one night close to harvest time that I had been watching this corn grow and couldn't wait until it was gone because it meant that I would be closer to meeting my son.  The corn growing season coincided with my fetus growing season.  It's funny what you remember from when you were pregnant.  Anyway.  Today the corn is tall and ready for harvest which means Fall is upon us and my son is weeks away from his first birthday.  Hard to imagine we've gone through four seasons so quickly and are discussing birthday party plans already.  It's been an amazing journey so far, and I totally look forward to watching the corn grow with Ben every year and be reminded of that first summer full of anticipation and excitement for what was to come.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Benny's first vacation and other happenings!

August 6th: chewing sunglasses by the shore:

So this month, Ben took his first real vacation!  On Ben's 9 month birthday, The Turners defied several laws of physics and packed the Xterra full of all of Ben's worldly possessions... and a suitcase for Mommy and Daddy, and headed for the North Carolina coast.  This is an annual Turner vacation that dates back to Jacob's baby days, and involves lots of family members in one beachside house on stilts.  This experience is much different from my beach memories because I pretty much grew up there.  I was born in Ft. Lauderdale and grew up in Palm Beach County, Florida, so the beach was a regular event for us.  I have lots of memories of packing up buckets, shovels, boogie boards and colorful towels and driving up and down A1A looking for metered parking.  I remember coarse, yellow sand littered with seaweed and tar, and spending the morning and early afternoon with a billion other beachgoers  packed onto the shore like sardines.  The strip was decorated with sky-high condos and hotels as far as you could see, and there were fully-equipped lifeguard stands all along the beach.  North Carolina beaches are different.  Ocean Isle Beach is a small island accessible by a long bridge that makes me unreasonably nervous.  The island is completely developed with oversized Easter-egg colored houses on stilts, all packed in on top of one another.  The shore is full of powdery white sand and the ocean is brownish-grey, but clean.  There are tons of shells that get exposed during low tide, but most are broken from the big waves that roll through.  Ocean Isle is much less populated and much quieter than any beach I've ever known and this will likely be Ben's experience of the beach growing up.

Ben had a good time on his vacation.  At maximum capacity, there were 19 of us in this 5 bedroom house, which meant Ben kept his relatives busy from Saturday to Saturday.  He spent a lot of time indoors and away from the heat, wind, sunburns and the big, mean ocean.  Ben was unimpressed with water, and felt much safer helping Aunt Nette and Aunt Joanne cook and watch baby Adam.  I'm not sure how much cooking or babysitting Ben actually did, but I'm guessing he was not very helpful with either task.  He spent some time at the pool, floating around in his double-floatation contraption that consisted of a buoyant vest and a panda inner-tube.  He considered writing a note of suggestion to the owners of the house to install a heater for the pool, because his transition into the cool water made him very mad every time.  On the beach, Ben sat on his own towel and played toys, ate sand, and tried to stay as quiet as possible so that we wouldn't notice him and drag him to the ocean to scare the crap out of him.  He was unsuccessful, however, because we did drag him to the ocean at low-tide and made him stand at the shore and let the water rush up his legs.  And yes, he screamed every time it happened.  On the first day, Ben and Mommy sat at the shore and let the ocean touch our legs, and he didn't mind this as long as I sang him a song while it was happening.  It was a very special mommy-baby moment.  We didn't walk into the ocean with him because he was so anxious and because it was pretty rough every day we were out there.  So all in all, he had a great time, and Mom and Dad had a pretty good time enjoying the babysitting services from various family members while they got to hang out alone for the first time since Ben was born.

Poolside service: chillin' on a raft and eating a snack, courtesy of Daddy:

Watching the waves with Poo:

During his trip, Ben sprouted those 4 upper teeth we never thought would come in.  He cut his two bottom teeth within a couple weeks months ago, and I just assumed those would be his only teeth since the others showed no signs of coming through.  Ben threw a curve ball and decided he would cut all four of the top front ones in a matter of 2 days.  We should have known when he developed a little diaper rash and filled diapers with toxic waste that made us all consider evacuating the house and not coming back.  About halfway into the week, we noticed that those two front teeth were cutting through, and thought "poor baby, who gets 2 teeth at once anyway?"  That lasted until we noticed that the two teeth next to the front two poked through the next day.  OK seriously, who gets FOUR teeth at once?!  He was a total champ though, and barely whined about the experience.  Actually, had it not been for his Biohazard diapers, he would have had no symptoms of teething.  What a big boy!

Ben got to experience Calabash, North Carolina during his first vacation.  We took him to a restaurant called Dockside two times, and he MAY have eaten a basket of hush puppies.  Ben became a fan of table food during this trip, and also snuck various table items like scrambled eggs, crackers, various other things that are a secret to Mom and BOILED PEANUTS.  Seriously?!  Apparently while I was sleeping, Dad thought it'd be a good idea to share these coveted (disgusting) things with his son, not thinking about the whole allergies thing.  Luckily, Ben didn't break out in hives, but I almost did thinking that Ben ate peanuts.  After that, no one really told me what he ate while I wasn't looking for fear that I would totally freak out again.

Ben eats Hush Puppies at Dockside:

Other notable happenings on the beach vacation was Ben's increased mobility and talking.  He was either moving or talking through the whole week, and this hasn't stopped since.  He still hasn't figured out how to crawl in the sense that he gets up on his knees to move around.  He uses his arms and hands to propel himself around and has gotten really good at it, but looks like an "inchworm" as Mimi calls him, or "Lieutenant Dan" as Grammy calls him.  Lt. Dan has really built up his upper body muscles but can't quite figure out what to do with those pesky legs dragging behind him.  His chattering is consisting of Mamas, Dadas, Yiayias (but we aren't greek), Babas, and the like.  Once we returned from the beach, we noted that Ben suddenly understands (or suddenly cares about, I don't know which) English.  He is starting to follow simple commands when he feels like it, and will look in the direction of the person you are referring to when you ask "Where's _____?".  It's pretty cool to interact using language, and also scary to think that he's starting to encode what we say out loud.  Mommy and Daddy, AKA sailor-mouths are going to have to watch what words we choose a little more carefully.  This is a bummer for us, but a cool milestone for Ben.  He is starting to pull up on furniture and people a little bit, but it only seems to happen when he really wants something, like a remote control just out of his reach.  I haven't seen him pull up just because, but I know that's coming too.  Ben and Dad have started walking around the house religiously, as it seems to be the only activity Ben really wants to do these days.  He will walk with Dad's help all day long if he could, and giggles the whole way.  When this activity first started, Ben was kicking his legs and missing steps and walking like a total goober, but in just a couple of weeks, he's starting to actually put one foot in front of the other correctly and reassures me that maybe someday Ben WILL walk after all.  His parents' walking milestones were very different, so if genetics play a role, we still have no idea when he'll actually take his first steps, unassisted.  As the legend goes, Daddy walked on his 9 month birthday, and Mommy, who surprisingly is not developmentally delayed in the traditional sense, was 14.5 months when she decided to walk alone.  So far, Ben is not a walking superstar like Daddy, but will hopefully fall somewhere in between our achievements.  

On the way home from the beach, Ben asked if we could stop by High Point to see Mamaw and Papaw.  For those of you keeping track, Mamaw and Papaw are Poo's parents, and traveling is hard on them.  Because we love Ben so much, we granted him his wish and took a detour that had us on the road for 10 (yeah, 9+1) hours, all in the same state.  It was great to see the grandparents, and of course, it was nice to let Ben spend some time with them.

August 8th: Benny loves Mamaw:

Papaw Love:
Then, the following weekend, we got real crazy and hopped back into the car to head BACK to High Point for Mimi's surprise birthday party.  Ben had more fun playing with the family and being passed from stranger to stranger at Mimi's party and was the consummate trooper by not having a total screaming meltdown after staying up 3+ hours past his bedtime.  He was tired, but hung in there and provided some of the entertainment for the evening by being a goober and showing off his Benny charm.

We are back in Hendersonville and plan to stay that way for awhile.  The Turners had fun, but we are travelled out.  Ben fell back into his routine rather seamlessly, and is back with Gram during the week while Mommy does her thing at work.  Ben doesn't know it yet, but Gram's party train is about to end when he begins "school" at Mud Creek Baptist Church.  Ben and Gram have spent the last 7 months together, 5 days a week, and Gram has had just as much, if not more of a hand in raising Ben as his parents.  They play toys, eat homemade food, watch David Cassidy and Neil Diamond on YouTube and are pretty much peas and carrots into the early afternoon every day.  Ben has learned hilarious games such as "knock all the blocks over" and "act like I'm feeding myself with a spoon" with Gram and got to spend his early months with someone who gave him complete 1:1 attention, instead of at a germ-infested child care facility, fighting off Swine Flu and being ignored while he cried his head off.  Ben is thankful for all that time, and hopes to continue to have intermittent Grammy time once school starts, but is joining the ranks of the Mud Creek "Mud Puppies" and will now learn how to share his blocks, wait his turn, and be generally friendly to others.  I'm thinking they're also going to throw in some bible verses and songs about Noah's Ark as well.  Hopefully all in a relatively Swine Flu free environment.  Mom thinks pretty highly of this place, so hopefully Ben will too.  He'll be there from 8 to noon, 5 days a week, and hopefully all will go well.  For now, Ben is savoring his last days at full time Grammy care, knocking over blocks, singing Sweet Caroline, and eating homemade baby meals.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Summer Oh Nine

July 15th: spending an afternoon by the lake in Mama's old neighborhood: 

Ben is having a pretty good summer.  We've made several pool trips to get him more used to the water and sunshine, and he likes the sun OK, but can do without the ice cold pool.  He loves people-watching, and this can actually be an interesting experience at this particular pool.  If you've ever been to a public pool (which I hadn't till now) you know what I mean.  

June 2009 - Ben made a few trips to Patton Pool

The first trip: holding on for dear life:

Second trip: after the swimming experience and all dressed up.  Mostly because we may have had a saturated diaper incident that resulted in Mommy and Benny getting peed on.

The most recent trip: seems to do better with a swimming shirt on, but still not a huge pool fan:

Ben has also made several trips here and there, namely to the mountain house.  He loves getting family time because it means he gets passed around from person to person and gets to enjoy lots of different faces and games.  We went to the mountains 2 weekends in a row, which exhausted us, but energized Ben.  The first weekend, we just kinda hung out and entertained guests.  Ben showed off his babbling skills, ability to eat new foods, and how to play with his toys.  

He also learned how to play with new toys:

Ben and Aunt Nette sat in the "Booger Wagon" as it is affectionately called, and started it 50 or so times to Ben's delight.  He truly believed that whatever he is grabbing onto in this photo is what started it because Aunt Nette would start the engine every time he touched it.  He was quite proud of himself for "figuring it out".

Ben explored Aunt Nette's property, which is Mama and Dada's favorite place to be, and the place they got married.  We played in various places with the dogs and the flowers and happened to get a lot of pretty cute pictures.  My favorite set are of him sitting next to the pond, watching  the birds and the fish... and Buddy jump in after lillypads.

June 28th - Ben looking fancy in his Sunday best:

The next weekend was the 4th of July, so of course we headed back for the infamous Minneapolis (NC) parade.  This is the same parade we watched last year while I was 20ish weeks pregnant, overheated, overstimulated, and overweight.  It was much more enjoyable this time around, and just as much of a country spectacle.  We observed a white horse dyed red and blue, the mayor of the town on a 4-wheeler, every emergency vehicle in the county, and several children and babies without helmets on 4-wheelers and motorcycles.  Yes, a country spectacle indeed.  Ben watched the entire parade, and was not bothered by the cheering, sirens and commotion surrounding him.  He kept Aunt Elizabeth company and took in the sights.

Yankee Doodle Dandy:

That night, Ben "watched" fireworks for the first time.  And by "watched" I mean, fell asleep and snoozed throughout the show.  Aside from all the people, chatting, and extremely loud fireworks, it was pretty much like going to bed for him, so he took the cue of the darkness and fell asleep.  In retrospect, keeping Ben up until nearly 10 pm to watch fireworks wasn't the brightest idea, but luckily we escaped without incident.

We also traveled to Charlotte in July to visit Aunt Blake, Uncle Tim and the newest family member, Cousin Adam!  Ben was pretty much unamused with Adam, but enjoyed the extra attention.  Of course, it was a family event so everyone was there, and Ben took turns sitting in everyone's lap when Adam was otherwise occupied.  Adam was born at the end of June and is technically Ben's 3rd cousin (I think).  They are 8 months apart but will be thick as thieves as soon as they are able to figure each other out.  And because Ben was born in November (after the cut-off date for school), he will be in Adam's grade.  When they're older, they can discuss things like algebra homework and senior project.  Oh yeah, and that means 2 graduations in the same year.  Woohoo!

Developmentally, this summer has been sorta slow.  Not much happens between 6 and 9 months apparently, but he is refining his "Mamas" and "Babas" and I believe has snuck in "Dada" although it mostly sounds like "Tha-tha".  He is moving more, and is finally creeping around on the floor.  The wiggling around and throwing his arms and legs out like superman was not productive and he finally realized this.  Now he will creep or "army crawl" to the nearest item he desires, which is usually his binkie or someone's cell phone.  This means we can't leave him on the floor to play by himself anymore, because when we come back, he is no longer there.  This also means we need to babyproof the house.  And a sidenote about cellphones and remote controls: they ALL belong to Ben.  This is non-negotiable.  If he spots either item, it is now his and is destined for the inside of his mouth.  He now has a very special Sesame Street remote control with eyes that blink, lots of buttons that make different sounds, and is pretty much child-safe.  He also has a Pooh Bear cell phone that does similar things.  These are OK, but definitely not as cool as the real thing.  The real thing is worth having a complete meltdown over.  

July 14th: exaggerated crawling maneuvers:

Ben's favorite games this month are peek-a-boo and the "I'm gonna getcha" game.  Peek-a-boo is self-explanatory, but "I'm gonna getcha" is a tickle game with anticipation built in, and Ben flips out when you look at him, smile and say "IIIIIIIIII'm gooooooooonna GETCHA!" followed by a full-body tickle.  He laughs hysterically and buries his head in your chest like he can't even take how much fun it is.  Loves it.  He is also really into watching TV.  This is a dangerous activity because TV rots your brain and is a bad habit to start so early.  Unfortunately, his favorite show is a definite brain-rotter: Wheel of Fortune.  We found this out by accident because neither of us happen to watch this, but it was on one night, and Ben was mesmerized.  We noticed that he is fascinated with the colorful wheel specifically, and smiles every time he sees it.  I think that, coupled with the tick-tick-tick sound of the wheel and the sound the letters make when they turn keep him captivated for the entire half hour that it's on.  Since we realized this, we've hired Pat Sajak and Vanna White as our babysitters so that dinner can be prepared with minimal interruption.  Ben sits in his pack-and-play with his toys and watches people win fabulous cash and prizes every night.  It's great.

I mean seriously, this is hilarious:

So those are the highlights so far this summer.  In a couple weeks, Ben and The Turners are going to Ocean Isle Beach for our annual summer vacation, and everyone is totally excited and ready to go.  Our next update should be full of fun beach pictures and stories, and should be a lot more fun with Ben living on this side of the uterus.  I anticipate a lot less swelling, waddling and chaffing.  Details to come!

Monday, June 1, 2009

6 months + 1

April 23rd - Spending a sunny day outside with Mommy:

May 12th - Being goofy before a day at Gram's:

May 19th - Hanging out in the pink bathtub:

As the unofficial Turner historian, I have unofficially dropped the ball with updates for the month of May.  Every month, I have good intentions of keeping up with weekly updates, but this pretty much translates to monthly updates. Even with good intentions, somehow Mom (or as Ben likes to call me, MOOOOOOOOOOMMM!!!) managed to miss an entire month.  So first update, Ben talks!  Yeah, he's still not intentionally calling anyone anything in particular, but is really into A-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba and MOOOOOOOMMM!!!  I've been saying "Mama" to him and pointing to myself for the last month or so, but instead of a cute "Mama", I get a loud "A-BA-BA-BA-BA MOOOOOOOMMM!!!!"  Apparently Ben thinks I'm a sheep.  

Keeping the blog updated has been impossible over the last couple of months because The Turners have been so busy!  Ben has had things going on nearly every weekend, and of course his parents are completely swamped with work and staying on top of daily things like diaper changes, laundry, and landscaping.  Benny celebrated his first Easter with The Turners in the mountains and got his favorite toy to date: a singing Peter Cottontail.  Seriously, this toy is completely obnoxious, but unlike all of Ben's other obnoxious singing, vibrating and light-up toys, this one brings a smile to his face every time he is activated.

April 11th - playing with Mimi and Peter Cottontail:

Also on this trip, Ben learned how to play popular board game, Apples to Apples.  Ben caused quite an uproar when it was his turn to choose the card that best fit whatever identifier card was layed out because it rarely made sense.  For instance, the card he chose that most closely described the selection "Natural" was "genetic engineering".  He also chose "remote controls" to be "Dangerous".  Apparently, he lives on the edge, because this child is obsessed with remote controls, and goes out of his way to shove them in his mouth.

Ben went to the Greenville Zoo with best bud, Levi in late April and had a good time looking at the sad animals there.  He and Levi sported the jogging strollers and then the baby carriers, and wandered all over the park for an afternoon.  These two really love each other which is totally cool, because Ben has a problem with nearly every other baby he comes in contact with.  He and Levi respect each others' personal spaces and toys, and pretty much get along.  Ben and Levi had another play date in mid-May with the 3rd musketeer, Jack, and they all had a blast!  Jack and Levi got along really well, and Ben cried a lot.  He was definitely the 3rd wheel for those playdates because he's more than a month younger than those two.  They sat up, crawled around, and interacted well, and Ben just cried.  Poor Ben!

April 26th - at the Greenville Zoo:

Hanging out with Levi:

May 16th - The much-anticipated triple playdate:

Ben is warming up to Jack, but Jack is really tactile and loves to pet Ben, and for some reason, this intimidates the little guy.  They've had two weekends together so far, and by the end of both, they love each other, but it takes some convincing on Jack's part to win Ben over each time.  We're hoping next time he is more receptive to Jack's petting behavior!

Ben also went to the Garden Jubilee Festival in Hendersonville in late May, which is Mommy's favorite street festival (well, a close second to Bele Chere anyway!) and pretty much slept the whole time.  He rode in his Maya Wrap for the event and got so comfy that he fell asleep and stayed that way for a lot of the afternoon.  We stayed out for several hours and by the end of the day, Mommy's right shoulder was burning.  This carrier is definitely an upgrade from the Baby Bjorn (which by the way, doesn't work so well once your kid weighs more than 12 pounds) but not as good as the Moby Wrap that Ben and Mom are sporting this week!  Daddy is getting tired of Mommy's pursuit for the best baby carrier and cringes every time he finds out more money was spent on a baby-wearing contraption, but it's all money well spent.  I've never seen a child want to be carried this way more than Benny does!  

May 23rd - In a toy store downtown during Garden Jubilee weekend:

So in between these exciting weekends, Ben has enjoyed the luxury of staying home and enjoying the sunshine in the yard while Mom and Dad do some gardening.  Ben LOVES to be outside, and will spend hours in his exersaucer while his crazy parents plant gardens and attempt to transform the outside of the house from the "abandoned house" look to something you don't cringe at when you drive by.  He attracts a lot of attention and turns on the Benny charm when strangers interact with him... as long as they keep their distance.  Ben does not react well to crazy strangers making goofy sounds in his face.  Last weekend, Ben went across the street during a weekend warrior event to meet the newest bundle in Grimesdale, Benjamin Two.  The neighbors named their baby Benjamin as well, so we've got two Ben's on one street and they are both the cutest Bens ever.  Ben (the original) flirted with the new family and gave Ben Two's parents a preview of what's to come, which is a rare position, as Ben (the original) is usually the youngest baby in the room.

Notable happenings in Ben's life during these last two months include his attempted mobility.  At 5 months, we plopped Ben on the carpet, belly down, and played some toy with him, only to find that the little goober wriggled his way right off the carpet.  We videotaped it because it seemed so miraculous that a 5 month old, OUR 5 month old had "crawled" a whole 8 inches.  This, however, was a total fluke because he hasn't done it since.  We make a big deal out of tummy time, we are nonchalant about tummy time, we encourage, place toys out of his reach, pretend we don't care, whatever, but the child will not duplicate his efforts.  When he is placed on his belly now, he will kick his legs frantically, put his arms straight out front (in superman pose) and wiggle around, but this gets him nowhere.  Sometimes he gets so worked up that he will roll over, and then roll over again, and end up feet away from where he started by rolling instead of crawling.  Sometimes he will spin around 180 degrees and will be facing the opposite direction from where he was placed, but won't gain any distance.  He is totally determined though.  Eventually this kid is going to crawl and it is going to be a very sad day for The Turners, because it means that we can no longer be slobs and leave dangerous things laying all over the house.  It also means we will have to bubble wrap the stone around our HUGE fireplace, which is really going to add to the decor of the living room.  I want Ben to reach his crawling goal, but I don't look forward to babyproofing Turner Place.  

Ben has been an adventurous eater when it comes to Stage 2 Gerber foods in April and May.  He thinks the vegetables are laced with poison and spits out every mouthful, so we've gotten creative and paired a fruit with a veggie on the same spoon load, and he totally falls for it.  Green beans and apricots sound much more disgusting than just plain green beans, but he goes for it and gets whatever nutrients are in green beans (or peas, squash, mixed veggies, and the like).  His favorites are pear-pineapple and hawaiian medley (which is pretty much the same thing) so far.  We've tried to get him to eat puffs and cookies, and he hates them both.  Cookies to a lesser extent because he can chew on them, but once he swallows some cookie by accident, he makes a goofy face and tries to spit it back up.  Ben is not ready for real solids yet.  He does have one and a half teeth though!  The bottom-right tooth came in a couple weeks ago (which was a fun night) and the bottom-left is peeking through this week.  He's been teething like a madman and of course, drooling lots.  I hope the next 18 teeth all come in at the same time so we can put teething behind us - it is not a fun experience for anyone.

The Evolution of Scrumpy Bear - Months 2 - 6:

June 1st - 7 month giraffe shot:

Today is Ben's 7 month birthday.  My baby was born 7 whole months ago.  We are still breastfeeding (although we added formula supplement in May to take the pressure off Mommy to pump! pump! pump!) and this is all going really well.  We've got the best of both worlds and it works for us, so we'll go with it until it doesn't anymore.  Mom is very proud of making the 7 month breastfeeding milestone, especially when we look back at how rocky our start was.  Ben had a doctor appointment this morning and weighed in at a hefty 18 pounds and 8 ounces, and is 28 inches tall.  For contrast, at his 4 month appointment, he was 14 pounds, 6 ounces and 25 inches tall.  At birth, my chunky goober was 8 pounds, 11 ounces and 21.5 inches tall.  He's gotten SO BIG in these last 7 months!  Ben is in the 30th percentile for weight, 80th for height, and 80th for head circumference (so smart!).  He continues to be happy, healthy and scrumpy so that's great.  Hopefully MOOOOOOOOOOOMMM!!! will strive to be a better family historian so that everyone can be more up-to-date on Benny happenings!

Monday, April 6, 2009

157 days

5 months-ish: Ben wearing his fancy jacket at Aunt Nette's house
Ben is the most social, easy-going baby in the history of babies.  Seriously.  When we take him out in public, people are constantly making comments about how happy he looks.  He flirts with strangers over our shoulders and coos up a storm. Ben loves going out and rarely has a meltdown while we're in public.  He LOVES being carried in the Baby Bjorn carrier. He likes his stroller to a much lesser extent, but still enjoys it because being in it means he is on the go.  Ben likes shopping, going out to eat, but loves being outside.  Over the last few weekends, we've spent some time outdoors for the first time in Ben's life.  Since he was born in November just as it was getting chilly, the only exposure he's had of the outdoors to this point is the short time he spends being loaded and unloaded into the car.  Two weekends ago, we traveled to Hartsville, South Carolina for the annual Carolina Cup festivities. The picture above is Ben sporting his fancy "cup outfit" that we purchased around this time last year.  Unfortunately, it was terrible outside on the day of the horse races so we missed that part, but on Sunday, we spent a lovely day at Aunt Nette's farm soaking up the sun and playing with family.  The next Sunday, we spent the afternoon at the dog park in West Asheville and he was the happiest guy there.  He cooed and chatted in his Baby Bjorn and watched the 20-or-so dogs romp around and have a good time.

Ben has really taken an interest in the puppies over the last week.  The day we brought him home from the hospital, we introduced him to our dog-babies and he's had constant exposure to them since, but is only noticing them now.  The dogs, on the other hand, have been painfully aware of Ben's existence.  They've done really well and exceeded our expectations in accepting Ben into the pack, and it's been so much fun to finally watch them interact.  Ben loves Lilly.  We're not sure if it's because she is white and easier to see, or if it's because she acts more interested in him, but Ben laughs and snorts when Lilly comes into a room.  He watches her walk all over the house the way Lilly does (she's our safety patrol) and wiggles when she comes over to say hello.  Recently, he's been reaching out and petting her.  He takes his little baby hands and pats down on her scruff, and then opens and closes his hand to "pet" her.  It's the most adorable thing ever.  Period.  He also interacts with Gram's dog, Fergie.  Coincidentally, Fergie is also white (with black spots) and may be more visually appealing to him, but is also equally as interested in him.  He pets her the same way, and she hangs out with him while he exercises in his bouncer or sits on Gram's lap.  He is definitely a dog man.  I introduced him to one of Aunt Nette's cats while we were in South Carolina and it did not go as well.  The brave cat (and the only one out of who knows how many) greeted Ben by brushing up against him the way cats do, and he stuck out his bottom lip and cried.  In his defense, this cat is one of the more homely cats I've ever encountered, but I'm thinking he probably just prefers dogs.

Ben and Sophie: both weighing in at 15 pounds... for now.

At the beginning of the month, Ben met his other best friend (yes, you can have 2!), Jack.  To refresh, Jack is Danielle's little guy, born in September.  Danielle and I go back almost as far back as Jack and Ben do and have been in and out of each others' lives for nearly 24 years.  When we both got pregnant at nearly the same time, we started chatting more often, and both lamented about how hard pregnancy was, how good ice cream tasted, and other things that pregnant mamas talk about.  The Turners are so lucky to have the Mazureks in our lives to watch our babies grow up together, lament and marvel over parenthood and just have fun.  We traveled to their home in Atlanta, specifically, the fancy Buckhead district, and watched Jack get baptized.  For the parts where Ben was not pooping himself or crying, it was a moving experience.  Little Jack (who by the way, isn't so little but is about as cute as babies get) did not find it as moving and pretty much screamed at the priest during their interaction.  Ben went to Jack's party afterwards and then the two took their parents to the Atlanta Zoo for a day in the park.  They LOVED it, watched the animals, and fell asleep.  It was adorable, of course.

Ben and Jack meeting for the first time:

So March was a pretty busy month.  Other notable happenings include Ben's chattiness.  Is Chattiness a word (Auntie M, care to comment)?  Anyway, we've known since the start that this child has things to say and a big voice to say them with, but I will swear, and most likely write in his baby book that his first "word" is "OH YEAAAAAH".  Seriously, this child will sit quietly and say "ohhhhhh yeah, ohh yeaaaaaaah, ohhhhhh yeaaaaaaahhhhhh".  It's probably what he hears me say the most because as he chats, I ask him "Oh yeah?" as in "tell me more".  I know that this isn't actually speech, but it's really cute.  He still doesn't do the consonant-vowel dadadada or babababa and I imagine it will be a few months before this happens, but he sure does like to talk.  

Ben weighed 14 pounds, 6 ounces at his last doctor's visit in late March and is too big for his infant carrier.  This is not because he's outgrown it necessarily, but because Mommy cannot carry he and it at the same time.  We upgraded to a big boy convertible car seat in the truck and after some convincing, he loved it.  I think we scared him by sticking him in a big black contraption and flying down the road, so Daddy rode with him on our way back from his maiden voyage in it, and it's been smooth sailing ever since.  

Benny - April 4th, 2009 - the first ride of many rides to come:

In March, Ben also figured out how to roll over from back to tummy.  Specifically, in the middle of the night in a fit of rage he figured out how to roll over from back to tummy.  Unfortunately, once he was face-planted in the mattress, he couldn't quite conjure up his previously learned skill of flipping from tummy to back, so he screamed bloody murder for help.  I ran into the room (remember, this is at 3 am when Mommy isn't running on all of her cylinders), calmed him down, placed him on his back, and left thinking that it was over.  Nope.  He did it 2 extra times, just to show mastery of his new skill.  He has since done it a few more times, but only in the middle of the night when he is apparently tired of the whole "front to sleep" thing.  I love his determination and will to do things his way... even if these things occur while I'm trying to sleep.  

The last notable happening is Ben's attempts at swimming.  We got him a new tub because he was quickly outgrowing his little blue tub.  He now has a big (and ridiculous) pink duckie tub that quacks when you press her beak and can be filled with way more water than the other tub.  The moment we set Ben into this thing, he started kicking as if it were necessary for survival.  The child gets the most focused, intense look on his face and watches his chunky baby legs kick and splash water all over the tub and Mommy.  I've never seen another living thing, except maybe Buddy, love water as much as Ben does.  We will definitely get a pool membership somewhere in town this summer.  

Ben's water intensity - Exhibit A:

Monday, March 16, 2009

One whole year

March 7th, 2008
It was one year ago this month that we learned about Benjamin "Peanut" Turner and what a wild ride it has been since then.  I've posted that chart before, but wanted to see it again because it is so amazing.  Like Benny, this chart is perfect.  For those not obsessed with fertility, this is a chart of my body temperature every morning of that particular cycle. Basal body temperature is a good indicator that implantation has occurred.  The chart shows that in the first days of the cycle, my temperature was pretty low.  It dipped exactly in the middle, as it's supposed to when you've ovulated, and then shot up like a rocket after Benny appeared.  Its what's called a triphasic chart, and it's rare in fertility world, but leave it to Benny to kick off his existence being perfect. 

Benny is 4 and a half months old now, but it's been just over a year since we've been together.  I'm so thankful for having had the time to blog the few entries I did during my pregnancy to remind me of the highlights of those days because those memories are fading fast.  The low points are also fading, thankfully, because the pregnancy was mostly comprised of those and are details better left forgotten anyhow.  The last 4 and a half months have been a complete whirlwind and I often sit and wonder where the time has gone.  This is sweet irony because while I was carrying that little guy, I wondered if it would ever end.  I thought I'd be the first documented case of a woman being pregnant forever, because it sure seemed that way.  Somehow we've sped through his newborn stage and are knee-deep in his infancy and I wish it would all just slow down.  

I am the type of Mama who wants to do it all and am slowly realizing that this is unpossible, as Ralph Wiggum puts it.  I can't stand a messy house, or things left undone on my desk at work, and I really love slow-cooked homemade meals.  I also love my time with Benny, breastfeeding, and playing toys.  This seems to be why the pile of laundry is taking over my house, why Jacob and I are starving, and why I am completely behind and feel incredibly incompetent at my job.  This can't all be done because there are only 24 short hours in each day, and they really whiz by when your to-do list is as long as mine.  I'm slowly learning to let go; let the laundry eat the house, catch most meals on the fly, and do the very best I can at work, but leave it there after 5 PM.  I'm learning to savor every moment with my little guy because it's going by so incredibly fast.  I feel like if I blink, I'm going to miss the whole thing.  

In these 4 and a half months, Benny has told the doctor's where they can shove their modified expectations of his developmental milestones.  The doctors informed us that he may be slow to reach milestones due to his early birth (that he totally wasn't ready for but Mama SO was).  Instead, Benny came out of the womb holding his head up, was rolling over at 1 month, and has been chatting up a storm since he realized he can make noise.  He is sitting up, eating baby food like a big boy, and has learned cause and effect and how to use it to manipulate his sucker parents.  He grabs for things he likes and draws them to his mouth, drools like nobody's business, and laughs hysterically when you play him the William Tell Overture Finale.  He still only cries when he needs something (and this includes attention, which he seems to need constantly) and is just a sweet little boy.  I love this child more than anything, and wish these sweet moments would slow down and last forever.  I'd take a lifetime of sleeplessness if I could keep my little Benjamin bite-sized.  When he is sleeping peacefully or batting his long eyelashes at me I imagine what he will be like at 13 and cringe at the thought of him being embarrassed to be seen with his parents, or the possibility that he will turn into a snotty, bratty teenager.  Babies are so pure and unspoiled, I wish they would stay that way forever.

But this is not the case.  It's really a bittersweet journey for me as a Mama.  I celebrate every milestone he reaches.  He reaches them fast and early which I guess makes it all the more startling for me, but it is wonderful and I love looking forward to new things.  I am thoroughly enjoying the experience of babyhood and childhood again through my son's beautiful blue eyes, but milestones mean he is growing up.  Growing up means he'll be totally embarrassed and put out by my suffocating hugs and smooches all over his pudgy little baby face and it's gonna break my heart.  Bittersweet.  

One whole year since that fertility chart began.  Hard to imagine that it's gone by so fast, and that we've all lived to tell the tale.  We are incredibly blessed to share our lives with such a fantastic little creature, fleeting though it may be.  In one year we went from this:

To this:

Can't wait to do the next 100 years, but let's slow it down a little, k?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Graduated from the 4th trimester!

Benjamin Maddox: 4 months, 1 day

February was a big month!  Benny got to visit the mountains (read: Avery County) on Valentine's Day weekend to get his Mimi and Poo to all himself.  He got a special visit from Mimi the following weekend, got to rest the next, and then got a visit from Auntie Lauren this past weekend.  He loved every minute of it, of course, and loved up on his visitors lots.

Benny has become very conversational in the last month.  He sits with Mom and chats about his days with Gram.  He starts talking kinda softly but by the end, he is screaming, yelling and laughing hysterically.  He is definitely a people person.  He has clocked a lot of hours in his exersaucer, or air traffic control station as we like to call it.  Benny has a pretty intense need to stand and would like to be on his feet more often than not.  Our arms got kinda tired of this, so we've really gotten our money's worth out of this thing.  He stands proudly and will concentrate on each little station and press buttons that sing songs.  He is beginning to entertain himself, which is convenient for Mom and Dad, and lots of fun to watch.

Grabbing items and pulling them toward his mouth is another new activity that he has refined in the last week or so.  It's amazing to watch these little skills come together and to watch his face light up when he does something new successfully!  

Last weekend, it snowed lots.  It snowed the week Benny was born, and a few times since then, but nothing that stuck around for long.  On Sunday night, we got at least 6 inches, and I'd swear it was even more, but we didn't stick a ruler in it . We did, however, stick Benny in it.

He didn't necessarily love it or hate it.  The wind was blowing hard when we ventured outside so he was mostly bothered by that and wanted to go inside.  Hopefully next year we will get a good snow so we can try him in it again.  I'm thinking it'll be more fun as he gets older!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Where does the time go?

Being Fly: 12 weeks

Being adorable: 10 weeks
My munchkin is 3 months old officially!  And yes, he still lives with his parents.

The last month has been ridiculously busy, so I've not had a free moment to sit and blog about Life with Benny.  Living with an infant, Benny specifically, has been so incredible.  He makes me laugh every day and is such a fun, bite-sized companion.  Who knew that a discussion on what sound different animals make would be so entertaining?  Grammy introduced this game to Benny where he is asked "What sound does the *insert animal here* make?"  followed by a goofy impression of that animal's sound.  He is partial to the kitty-cat's "meeeeeeooooooow" but enjoys them all pretty well.  He laughs hysterically - the kind of laugh where he gasps for air because it was just that funny.

Mama went back to work on January 12th, and is taking it much harder than Ben is.  He has gone with the flow and smiles his silly smile when we put him in the carseat in the morning.  I think he knows that it means Gram isn't far away and he is about to have a pretty fun day.  When I put him in the carseat in the evenings, he does not flash the same grin, but rather, fusses a little bit like "Do I have to go, Ma?!"  I am finding it difficult to focus on work during the day and have a new and amazing ability to work the topic of Ben into any conversation.  I miss him lots, but we have the evenings and weekends to play and we definitely make the most of that time.

Benny at 11 weeks: getting ready to go to Gram's

This month, he's magically changed from a 10 pound ball of newborn human to a little guy with a very distinctive personality.  Benny is entertained by everything.  He laughs at everything, and likes to chat about it.  He talks constantly, and will raise his voice if you raise yours.  What he has to say is much more important than anything you could think of.  He is now sleeping through the night, with a midnight snack on the schedule every now and then (just to keep us on our toes), and is hilarious at bedtime.  Once he is swaddled and put into bed, he feels compelled to continue chatting to whoever will listen.  Most often, this is his teddy bear.

Exhibit A:
Exhibit B: 

He is also an escape artist.  In the last shot, he is wearing a special swaddler, called Snug-Tug.  It's supposed to be Houdini-proof.  Guess what?

It's not.  Notice the mildly amused look on his face.  We let him sleep with one hand out every night, just like that, because if we tucked it back in, he'd just work hard on poking it back out again.  We're learning to choose our battles.

He loves traveling and has taken to checking things out while he's out and about.  He really loves the Baby Bjorn carrier and watches people and things around him.  He's no longer satisfied with being carted around in his infant carrier - he wants to look around and flirt with strangers.  

We've gotten a few different items to keep him busy over the last month.  He's gotten an activity mat, which entertained him lots during a play date with Levi, and is very funny in his opinion.  He'll lay there and look up at the toys and bat at them every now and then.  He can't quite grab them yet, but it's coming.

Playdate: 12 weeks
At Target, Benny tried out some exersaucers and somehow conned us into buying the most elaborate (read: expensive) one they had.  We let him try it out at the store and he LOVED it!

How could we deny this face anyway?

At home, playing Air Traffic Controller:
We brought it home and observed as he hit the light-up buttons with a purpose.  It was the first time we noticed Benny engage in cause-and-effect behavior in an intentional manner.  Watching this made me so proud of my smart boy!

So January has been very eventful and lots of fun.  My little newborn is now a little boy and is getting more and more entertaining and fun to be around every day!  

Next stop - driving lessons: