A Missing Fear of Heights

Hank Humor, Motherhood

We Wilsons live in a house with many, many stairs. We decided baby gates were really only needed on the tops of two of our staircases – at least at first – so we put those in and called it good. After many months of both his Daddy and me trying to keep our determined little Hankster from figuring out how to go UP the stairs, he finally got his chance. And he mastered it in about one minute. By the time I got over to him he was already halfway up, and nailing it, so I let him keep going against my better judgement! When he got to the top he did a little victory dance with an adorable squeal, as if he knew he had just accomplished something against great odds. I was equal parts proud for him and terrified for me.

As he danced around at the top of the landing, I had a scary revelation. With this new accomplishment came a new challenge: going back down the stairs. Why oh why did we build the split level house with three long flights of stairs? And why oh why does he think if he just runs straight at the stairs faster he will get down them easier? This adorable monster of ours obviously does not understand the concepts of heights, inertia, or danger

Just crawl down them backwards and show him, they said. He will pick it right up, they said.

Well, he still hasn’t figured out the whole “down” thing yet, so I’m praying he does soon! It takes so much willpower to not just scoop him up and carry him down myself!

My other terrifying Hank adventure this week also involved great heights, but this one included a near-death experience! He decided that in addition to not being afraid of heights, he would also try to be a stunt baby!

Why not?

Our back deck is one of Hank’s favorite places. I love letting him play out there while I do dishes, because it is hooked right to the kitchen. Daddy built us a hell-for-stout baby gate on the stairway down, and a big sunshade overhead as well, so we both thought our deck was one big wonderful outdoor playpen where he couldn’t really get into too much trouble.

Keep the monster caged!

That is, until I saw him try to get himself OUT of the playpen!

I made the mistake of taking a work call while I was cleaning up the kitchen a few mornings ago, and after the minute-or-so phone call I peeked out the door to check on Hank and I almost fainted. There he was – laying on his back, wriggling his chubby little bod underneath the bottom railing of the deck! And he must have channeled his inner Flat Stanley, because he was already up to his waist!

I panicked, rushed over to him and yanked him out, and frantically yelled for his Daddy while Hank looked at me with disdain, like I had foiled his plan. I never in a million years would have thought A) that he would be able to fit under there and B) that he would have any desire to find out whether or not he did!

Well, he sure did. And once I explained the whole emergency to Daddy, he tried to ease my mind with some good old Daddy logic.

“You know honey, his head definitely wouldn’t have fit through anyways, if he could have even gotten that far.”

Oh, ok! I feel much better now!

Seriously? So what you are saying, Daddy, is that his 25 pound body could get through and dangle from his 81st percentile-sized head, and you would be ok with that?

Yeah, I didn’t think so.

And I was just not ok with risking it, either, on account of “we didn’t think he would fit through there.” Simply “watching him closer” didn’t seem like the right solution either, as fast as he had gotten himself into his little predicament in the first place!

So off to Home Depot we went, and the 1-by-2s quickly went up around the bottom railing so I can sleep at night and Hank can still continue to enjoy his lovely alfresco redwood playpen. Crisis averted. For now, anyways. Probably just until the monkey realizes he can climb the rails!

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Just try to get through there now, you adorable little Houdini!

6 Ways a Baby Drives a Type-A Mom Crazy

Hank Humor, Motherhood

I am one of the biggest Type-A, control freaks I know. Or I was, anyways. Until my tornado baby came along, I was Master Of My Universe, and I loved it. My house was always picked up, my kitchen immaculate – hell, I used to even buy flowers once in a while, just because. Flowers I would arrange in a lovely white pitcher on the clean, bare countertop, just because it looked so nice. I was Martha Freaking Stewart.

Now don’t get me wrong – I love my life even more now with that crazy adorable whirlwind running all over tearing my house apart, but I have had to learn to get over some things! And for me, this is definitely a work-in-progress. Here are some highlights from Life With A One Year-Old that still drive me (just a little bit) nuts.

  1. Sippy cups. In a perfect world, there would be one universal size and shape of sippy, regardless of brand name, so all the tops would fit all the bottoms. Nothing frustrates me more than pouring the milk into the sippy cup, but then realizing that the ONE top that is clean at the moment is a Nuby and not the Munchkin I need, because of course the Nuby won’t screw on to the Munchkin. But I take that back – it is possible that the milk that sprays all across the floor and up the wall 25+ times a day when the baby throws the sippy as hard as he can frustrates me more. “Leakproof?” Not in my house!
  2. Keeping track of things. For the first month of having the adorable Little People barnyard playset, I actually put the animals back in their corresponding stalls every night, shut the barn doors, and folded it up neatly in the toy corner of the living room. Seriously. Now, I am lucky if there is one farm animal within a 25 foot radius of said barn. My new daily battle is keeping my entire kitchen Tupperware stock out of the potato bin. Yesterday, I opened it up and found 3 tuppers, 5 lids, 3 baby spoons and a plastic cup that I had been looking for all morning. (And a sack of potatoes, that I forgot was even in there. Go figure.)

    Hank’s treasure chest

  3. Bedtime. I set out trying to keep my little guy to a strict 7:30 bedtime. I fought hard to keep it there, but the craziness of my life and ever-changing blended family schedule wore me down and made me give up the fight, rather than lose my sanity. “Bedtime” is now a sliding window from 7pm to 9pm, (depending on about 15 different variables ranging from baseball to fishing to homework to teething to whether we have had dinner or whether we can even SEE the dining room table under all the clothes piled on top of it, that need to be put away so we CAN have dinner.)
  4. The clean house/laundry conundrum. Having a baby wrecked havoc on both the cleanliness of my house and my ability to keep everyone’s laundry done, folded and put away. Mopping? Now done in small concentrated areas when a tub of yogurt gets hurled at the floor or the dreaded milk splatter sprays across the kitchen. Dusting? Do people actually do that? Folding clothes right out of the dryer? Impossible. If you don’t like wrinkles, you are in the wrong house.
  5. The dishwasher. I have spent some serious time trying to brainstorm an invention that would keep the overly-helpful baby out of the dishwasher. I usually end up hand-washing half of my dishes anyways these days, just to keep them out of his eager little hands. Knives, forks, anything that still looks dirty and anything breakable – these are his absolute favorites to grab as soon as someone sets them in the dishwasher rack. His other favorite pastime is pulling random (clean) utensils out of my cabinets and “loading” the dishwasher for me. I found the turkey baster in the dishwasher the other day. I haven’t basted anything in at least 6 months.
  6. My car. My car used to get vacuumed as much as my house did. I actually have a devoted Norwex microfiber that lives in the jockeybox for dusting my dash and cleaning the glass. Well, these days, I need a tub of clorox wipes, a garbage bag, and a shop vac to get my car back into shape. If I had a dollar for every goldfish cracker I found rat-holed away in the car seat, door handles, and floor mats, I could probably afford to get my kid-chariot detailed professionally once in a while.

I know that someday, my sweet little monster and his big brothers will be grown up enough to help me keep the house and car spotless and organized, most likely when they are 18 and off to college. And I fully realize that when this happens, I will be wishing with all my heart, for the days of goldfish crackers, spilled milk, and pacifiers scattered all over the house! So I am embracing my new personality like I am embracing motherhood. I am not even sure what the technical term is for the opposite of  Type-A, so I’m calling it Type-Z!

Hank playing Sink or Float with his paci and my cappuccino

Baby Hell Is The Drive-Thru Car Wash

Hank Humor

It’s Memorial Day Monday, a lovely sunny day off with the hubby, and he decides it would be a perfect time to drive my dirty company-car-turned-kid-hauler through the car wash for me on our way into town. I never take the time to do it on my own, as I am either rushing home from work to pick up the baby, or I have the baby in the backseat and I am rushing home to feed him/change him/get him down for a nap.

“Great idea, honey! I need fuel anyways,” I agree, so we pull in to the closest Holiday and fill her up, then head over to the carwash entrance.

Well, maybe it was a good idea, but there are already 3 cars in line ahead of us, we have an impatient 1 year-old baby strapped in the backseat, and this mama hasn’t had breakfast yet.

“No way,” I declare, “this is not happening today.”

“But I have soap all over the mirrors already,” my sweet, well-intentioned hubby informs me, “so we’re committed! It will go quick-it’s all good.”

Famous last words.

27 minutes and a whole tub of cheddar cheese lil’ Crunchies later, we finally pull into the carwash. I wrap up my rant (that lasted the last 10 of those minutes) about why on earth the old lady in front of us in the immaculate Chevy even needed a carwash anyways! Doesn’t she know her pickup isn’t even dirty? And that it really pisses off the people behind you in line who actually do have dirty cars that need washed and have to wait for your sparkling Silverado to get 9 minutes of hydro-therapy? And can’t she imagine that there might be a BABY in the Tahoe behind her who really REALLY hates sitting in a car that isn’t moving?

“Yay, this will be fun, Hankers!” I exclaim as happily as I can to the wide-eyed baby in the backseat, as the door lowers behind us.

WHOOOOSH WHOOOSH WHOOSH. The rocker panel spray kicks on, full-bore, and Hank has about a two-second delayed reaction before-WAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

“THIS is why I never wash my car when the baby is in it, honey,” I growl towards the hubs through gritted teeth.

“Oh, he will like it, kids love car washes! He will love the soap!” Hubby the optimist says, cheerfully, and I turn around in my seat to try to soothe the demon baby screaming in the car seat behind me.

Rinse Cycle:

Baby’s screams of terror grow in volume in direct proportion to the proximity of the spray arm to his window.

Soap Cycle:

Baby does NOT, in fact, love the soap. Wrong-O, daddy.

Rinse (again!) Cycle:

Baby has not gotten any happier about the typhoon of water circling his car bubble, yet again.

Colored Soap Cycle:

Seriously? The plain old white soap wasn’t good enough? And surprisingly enough, RAINBOW COLORS do not make him like it any more; in fact, I think he likes it LESS. Judging by the fact that he is turning his own new color, a deep shade of pissed-off purple.

WAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!

Rinse (here we go again) Cycle:

Baby suddenly stops crying-probably to avoid passing out from continuous screaming- Could this finally be the end? Please be done please be done PLEASE BE DONE- 

ANOTHER FREAKING RINSE CYCLE:

Oh for heaven’s sake! But wait – this one is quiet and calming, with a lovely fine mist. Thanks be to God and all that is holy. Baby whimpers-exhausted and defeated. I also whimper, turning back around, and try to massage some blood back into the fingers the baby has had a death grip on for the last six wash cycles of CAR WASH HELL.

Suddenly the light at the end of the tunnel appears, and the exit door begins to open-

“SCREW THE AIR DRY HONEY, GET US OUT OF HERE NOW!!!”

Baby, catching his breath, smiles out the window when he sees that it is being sprinkled with his favorite little dots of. . .you guessed it. . . RAINWATER.

Mama needs a cocktail. And a better weather app too, apparently.

Oh, Boy

Hank Humor

So this afternoon was another crazy day in paradise!  I was lucky enough to get escorted to Wal-Mart by two handsome dates, Hank and his daddy.  Bill hadn’t been with us in a while, so I laughed as he got another chance to experience the adventure of shopping with Hank.  Which meant consuming half of a not-yet-purchased tub of Lil’ Crunchies in the front of the cart, (doled out two at a time from Mama), and shouting “NUM-NUM! NUM-NUM!” whenever he ran out.

We passed another mama pushing a cart with a toddler sitting down in it, and a similarly aged little boy in the front with his little bare legs dangling, just like Hank.  Only there was a major difference between them.  That little boy was quietly, peacefully, munching on a snack of his own, but he was holding the bag himself.  All by himself.  He was in complete control of his grocery store snack, and he was nailing it!  Not a crumb was hitting the floor, he wasn’t trying to shove three crackers into his mouth all at once, he wasn’t throwing them at his mama or his sister, or into the cart, and he certainly wasn’t screaming.  In fact, he wasn’t making a peep.  Just munching on his little bag of crackers, one by one, while his mama shopped leisurely.

Am I missing something?  If I gave Hank the whole tub of crunchies, (which we have tried, so I am not just hypothesizing) the entire aisle of Wal-Mart would be coated with cheddar cheese powder and crunched up Gerber goodness.  I started to wonder if perhaps our child is a little more of a handful than I may have realized.

“Did you see that baby in the cart eating his snack so quietly?” I asked Bill on the way home.  “Holding his own bag?”

“Yep. I saw him,” was all he had to say.

Hmmmm.

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Hank’s first cart riding experience – at 8 months 

Well, I got another dose of Hank help as I was trying to put the groceries away.  Bill was shuttling grocery bags to the top of the stairs and setting them over the baby gate, and I was unpacking and putting them away.  Well, that was the goal anyways!

Crunch. Crunch. CRUNCH. 

What is that?  

Oh, Hank!”  Hank found the brand new party-sized bag of Wavy Lays and decided he needed to see what kind of sound it would make if he pounded on it a few times.  Sorry boys, your chips may be a little more, well. . .Hank-sized now.  Sure glad we gave him that hammer and nails set to play with! 

I guess that’s why we call him Hammerin’ Hank!  I pulled him away from the Wavy Lays and put the limp bag remains in the pantry.  As soon as I turned around for another grocery bag, he had beaten me back to them yet again.

Oh perfect, he found a fruit squeezy pouch!  He loves those.  Maybe that will keep him out of trouble for a bit so I can put these away.

“Num-Num!” he said and handed it to me, so I unscrewed the top and gave it back to him.  Relieved, I went back to my unpacking and got exactly one bag put away before I noticed that Hank was mysteriously quiet, so I went around the island to look for him.

There he was – squeeze pouch in hand, just a-squeezing away, and sucking. . .only the problem was, he had turned it upside down!  So, purple fruit puree oozed down his clothes, onto his bare feet, the floor, and the rug.  When he spotted me, and the look of shock on my face, he cracked up!  And Hank cracking up while standing on his new, wobbly legs means only one thing, falling over.  So he fell right into the purple puddle.

“Don’t judge, Daddy, when you see that your son is now purple,” I said to Bill, who just happened to be walking in with the last bags.  “We had a little mishap!”  He just laughed.

I love that man.

I got Hank cleaned up and plunked him in front of my last resort – the spice rack.  My back-up baby-sitter.  This will work, I thought to myself as I put away a few more bags and watched him shake-a-shake-a-shake all around the kitchen with a lovely sounding jar of minced onion.

Wow, I am almost done!  Why didn’t I just give him that to begin with?  

I turned around to throw the empty bags in the bin and I almost fell over when I saw my son, and my kitchen.  That’s why.  Apparently I had forgotten about his new-found ability to open spice jars with his teeth – like the ground cloves!  Little white minced onion flakes were sprinkled across the entire kitchen floor, and all under the dining room table.  It looked like it had just snowed.

“Honey?  Can you grab the broom?” I hollered back to Bill in the laundry room.

Well, that wonderful man came out with the broom and dustpan, shook his head knowingly, and laughed while he swept up the mess for me.  Without saying a word.  And I held Hank because it is impossible to sweep a room if Hank is in it.  (He insists on riding the broom.)

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Hank riding the broom on a cleaner day

God, I really, really love that man.

And that helpful little boy who looks just like him.

20 Minutes in the Life of Hank

Hank Humor

“Hank is that you? Why aren’t you sleeping?”

“You’re supposed to be napping! Mama needs to take a shower! And you need to take your nap so we can go watch big brother’s game! Lay back down and go nite-nite.”

Lay baby back down in crib, put paci back in his mouth, pat him and try to sneak back out of nursery.

“Hank. Ank. Ank.” Baby says, rolling over and standing back up in the crib.

“Hank? You said your name! When did you learn how to say your name? Way to go buddy! Hank Hank Hank. Ok fine, you’re not tired, we will nap after mama takes her shower.”

Take baby upstairs to bathroom and shut the door, setting him on the floor with toys. Start to brush teeth.

“Hank where are you? Mama can’t see you. . .Oh no! Did daddy leave the toilet lid up? I hope you’re not – Oh NO!! No we don’t play in the toilet! Are your hands – Oh jeez your hands are all wet. Oh no. Let mama wash your hands with soap. We don’t play in the toilet, that’s a no-no-no.”

Dry baby’s hands and start to carry him downstairs.

“Num-num,” baby says and looks at me with that look that says I know I shouldn’t be doing _____ but I am doing it anyway.

“Num-num? Why are you saying num-num? Is there something in your mouth? Open your mouth Hank!”

Sweep baby’s mouth with finger to get mysterious foreign object out.

“Carpet? Why is there carpet in your mouth? Where did you get that? Carpet is not a num-num Hank. No-no! Icky! We don’t eat carpet!”

Let’s go change your clothes, since these ones are covered in yucky toilet water. Oh, and you are stinky now, too! Let’s get you a new diaper.”

Lay baby on changing table, pull off jammies. Open diaper and start to clean up baby’s poopy bottom.20151218_133924

“Wait a minute – how did your face get all wet too Hankers? Did you – Oh NO! You are covered in pee! Did you just pee? Oh Hankers. Now you need a wipey bath too!”

Naked baby giggles and sucks on his toes while he gets a baby wipe sponge bath.

“What am I going to do with you, Hank?”

“Hank. Ank-ank.” Says giggling baby.

(Sigh.)

Maybe it’s going to be one of those no-shower days. Ball cap and ponytail? Check.

Nap-time. Take Two.

Hank’s Top 10 Favorite Toys (That Shouldn’t Be)

Hank Humor

“Should we get some toys for the baby?” I asked my husband, as I anxiously awaited the development of our little one’s gross motor skills. The hubs was an old pro at being daddy, having three older sons, so he was my live-in expert on everything baby.

“We don’t need many toys, he has big brothers,” he said. So we gave him a few soft balls and were greatly entertained as those patient brothers taught him to throw them, each time with an adorably determined grunt like a Russian weight-lifter. Soon though, he learned to crawl and with his newfound mobility, his obsession shifted to pushing empty cereal boxes and my tupperware collection around the kitchen floor while making motor sounds. Right before his first birthday, I began to feel guilty. Most almost-one-year-olds probably have at least one actual toy car to push around, don’t they? I mean, he was all about the tupperware “cars,” but I was THRILLED when he got a tiny four-wheeler, two dump trucks, a little people farm set, a puzzle, lots of bubbles, and an awesome baby basketball hoop on birthday party day. He finally had real toys!

Well, it turns out my guilty mom feelings of toy inadequacy were unnecessary, as even with the sudden abundance of real toys, he continued to improvise. Here are his current (and ever-so-kid-appropriate) Top Ten Toys of Choice:

  1. The toilet scrubby. The first place spot, hands-down, without-a-doubt, goes to the almighty toilet scrub brush that can be found conveniently stashed next to every throne in our house. I have always been a firm believer that one should never have to carry a nasty, drippy toilet scrubby through a house on cleaning day (God forbid, across carpet!) So, much to my son’s delight, there are FOUR of these jewels in our house, and he loves them all equally.
  2. The jar of Mexican Hot Chili Powder. (And almost every other bottle in the pull-out spice rack I so badly wanted built into my custom cabinets.) These are so fun to roll around the kitchen, that they often end up IN the dishwasher, in other cabinets, in his dresser drawers in his nursery, and I even found a bottle of Lawry’s in the washing machine one time. Go figure.
  3. The door-stop spring thingy. There are MANY of these wonderful enigmas in our house, and their main function seems to be delighting my son. Not only does he love to make the THAA-WAAAAAANG-AAANG-AANG-ANG sound repeatedly; he also loves detaching them from the wall and carrying them around in his mouth. Or my personal favorite: Using them for a hammer to bang on random other non-toy toys in the house. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD-can we not engineer these mandatory marvels to somehow remain permanently attached to the wall?
  4. The aim-n-flame. We, being Montana folk who are surrounded by trees, burn wood all winter to help heat our house. Therefore, a big wood-burning fireplace is the heart of our living room, which doubles as baby’s playroom. A strategically-placed clothes hamper system keeps the wood pile and fireplace tools out of reach, but anytime the aim-n-flame gets left on the hearth, the baby WILL get his hands on it. It is his personal mission.
  5. The vacuum. Especially the power cord, but only when it is plugged in and running, or conveniently pointed in the perfect direction to fall on him with the slightest tug.
  6. The diaper genie. If I were asked to improve the design of a diaper genie, I would change two things. 1) Make it air-tight so it actually holds that lovely aroma in (is that even possible?) and 2) make it a rectangular prism that cannot be rolled around a room. Which leads me to number 7.
  7. Burritos.  Which in our house, is the code word for dirty diapers.  If a burrito gets placed anywhere within reach of the sitting/laying/crawling baby, it will end up in his freshly washed little hands.
  8. Mama’s hoosier. This prized family heirloom is filled with all of my heavy, breakable kitchen things, since it has the “latch” that baby is not supposed to be able to open. Running the dining room chairs into the hoosier to pop the cabinet door open is a new favorite pastime of our little learning-to-walker. I am sure glad I put those nice slippery felt pads on the feet of all the chairs, we wouldn’t want to put a mark in the vinyl, now would we?
  9. Daddy’s recently peeled-off, dirty socks. Daddy just loves to kick those socks off, usually in a different place every evening. This creates a wonderfully stinky Easter egg hunt for the baby, who loves to locate these little prizes and then fling them all around whichever room we happen to be in.
  10. The “smart” satellite tv remote control. Even though he has his very own remote that his cunning daddy gave him, sans batteries of course; the baby much prefers to operate the real remote when he gets his tech-savvy little hands on it. You know, the one that actually makes the tv DO something when you point it at it and push the buttons? Change channels, record series, delete important recordings-the fun that remote provides is almost endless! So many buttons!

Anyway, I can’t wait to see what new favorites pop up in the next few months when my little explorer figures out the whole walking-on-his-own thing. Until then, I will still be following him around, watching him knowingly shake his head “no-no” as he heads for any of these ten irresistible toys.