Thursday, March 31, 2011

And they called it...Puppy Love....

When it's time to feed the pups in our house - it is CRAZY.  Like us, our dogs are food whores.  They know their food and snack schedule down to the second.  They race through the house, side by side, in a contest of who can get to the goody jar or food bowl faster and then devour whatever is offered to them (and whatever gets within an inch of their mouths).  Eating is a competitive sport and they don't come up for air.  And now, in the midst of all of this, crawling around in between this tornado storm of food & fur,  is Mercer.

I've discussed before that Mercer thinks Zandi and Lu are his best friends.  And while having dogs as role models could make for some awkward moments (read:  inappropriate licking), at least we'll never find them teaching him how to snort coke off a stripper's ass.  If Mercer wants to mimic them by carrying around toys in his mouth while be it.  And if the dogs want to consider him "one of the pack" - all the better.

In fact, after what we witnessed last week...I think Zandi (our old yellow lab) may consider Mercer her little "mini-me".

Mark was watching Mercer while I was out shopping (surprise).  So, Mark being the industrious guy that he is, decided that he wanted to finish a project while he was babysitting.  He was putting the finishing touches on the installation of a bookshelf into Mercer's room and thus was back and forth between the garage and the nursery, always keeping and eye out for our little crawling devil.

During one of these trips, the dogs indicated that it was time for their supper and Mark obliged by filling their bowls with nuggets of doggy goodness and then he resumed his project.  On his way back into the garage, he was witness to what can only be described as true doggy / little boy love; Zandi was sharing her food with Mercer.  Apparently, while Zandi was eating, Mercer crawled over to her bowl, pulled himself up on it, grabbed a few morsels and decided to plop down next to her for a private picnic date.  Mark walked in to find Mercer and Zandi snacking away together on Hills Prescription Diet, tails wagging, mouths slobbering, happy as clams.

And while Mark fished the dog food out of Mermie's mouth, and gave Zandi some extra "pettings" for being so generous with her baby brother, our grins were huge and our hearts were warmed by the quintessential example of Puppy Love, depicted in cartoon form, below.

Note:  We didn't have the camera ready to capture Zandi and Mermz's picnic, so I enlisted the mad artistic skillz of my good friend, Chris.  His cartoons, always drawn on paper towels, are the highlight of my day.  Thanks Chris!  XOXOXOX

And in other news - Mercer tries out Lu's digs...
His willingness to hang out in there could provide some cheap babysitting....


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Ass in the Sand - Sand in the Mouth...

Mercer's Spring Break in Florida

Experiencing the beach for the first time - Yankeetown, FL

Mercer's feet in the sand.....
And that same sand in the mouth - oddly, he didn't seem to mind

Trying new foods
Mercer giving Bubby's chicken soup a try...
Sharing Twizzlers with Daddy 

Experiencing new things...
Sunglasses - Mercer rocking some Aviators

Pet Fish - Helping Grandpa feed the piranhas (j/k)

Nature - Checking out the local wildlife - gators & birds
Meeting new people
Mercer meets Uncle Melvis's Momma - (Grand)MomT
Seeing old friends
Grandpa and Mercer at the beach

Mercer and his bathing beauty, Bubby

Mercer amongst his elders - the Keiffer clan (this is where Mercer gets his good looks!) 

And even spending time with his very cool parents
Mercer is thinking, "I'm glad these two aren't in swimsuits..."

He partied so hard that he slept the entire flight home....
Snoozing on his 6th flight in 9.5 months

And now...back to our routine...which after all of the above excitement, is a vacation in itself.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Since moving from NJ to MO...our restaurant choices have changed.  Gone are the days of popping in to a quaint, family-owned Italian joint for a slice of pie or some pencil points.  In St. Louis, the majority of the little, family-owned joints serve Mexican fare.  So, when we're lazy and tired after work and don't feel like cooking (or cleaning up) we pack up the Mermie and head out.  Five minutes later, we have two cold margaritas and a basket of warm chips and spicy salsa sitting in front of us...and now, since Mercer sits in a high chair...they're in front of him too.

Mercer's hands are in EVERYTHING now...if he can reach it, he can grab it.  And if he can't reach it, he's going to try his damnedest to stretch and contort out of that high chair to get whatever catches his eye. Unless, something is just magically placed in front of it was yesterday.

Yesterday, like we always do, we ripped up little pieces of tortilla and placed them in front of Mercer, who will gnawed on them, some puffs and some rice while we ate.  He was a content little monkey, sitting in his high chair, snacking away.  That all changed when the waiter put a bowl of tomitilla salsa down in front of him.  Mercer caught the waiter's mistake right away and this wry smile crept across his face.  He laughed, then, because he knew he had us.  Before Mark and I could move the bowl of green goodness out of Mercer's reach, his hand was in the bowl and he had a fist full of green salsa dripping from his pudgy little hand.

And what does Mercer do with a fist full of green salsa?  First, he looked at it and then he put it directly into his mouth.  The look of shock on his face when his tastebuds realized the "wake up call"  that they were getting, was priceless.  His eyes popped open, his skin turned bright red and he started YELLING.  Not a cry - there were no tears; just these open mouth squwaks coupled with flailing arms, as if he was saying, "What the hell is going on in my mouth?" 

Being the amazing parents that we are, we immediate got him some water.  Immediately....after we stopped laughing at his reaction.  Between Mercer's antics and our laughing, people were starting to stare at us. 

After he got the water, he went back to chillin' and eating his carbs while we continued to giggle at his hilarity.  And even this morning, as we were getting ready, Mark and I were still laughing....

I wonder how Mercer would react to Frank's Hot Sauce....

Monday, March 14, 2011

Utter Cuteness

Sunlight is cruel.  My two "morning doves"
Zandi & Mercer ready to break out!
Getting him ready to live his life as Charlie Sheen...
He was supposed to be napping.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Special Guest Stars on 304

Since having Mercer, TV watching has become a luxury.  We TIVO all of our favorite shows to watch in blocks while he's asleep.  One of those shows is 30 Rock.

What I love about 30 Rock is that they always manage to work in a special guest star to make the show just that much better.  That person jives with the cast for just one week or so and really brings the show to life.  If you're a've seen Matt Damon, Salma Hayek, Will Arnett, Steve Martin, Elaine Stritch (Jack's Mom - my FAVORITE) work into a story line like they were supposed to be there the whole time.  It's brilliant writing and equally as brilliant acting.

And what's that saying..."Life imitates art"??? 
I'm here to tell you that some days I'm Liz and others I'm Jack or Kenneth.  The craziness of 30 Rock is my life.  That is my Office.  Those are my co-workers and friends.  That is my family.  And like 30 Rock...these are my guest stars....

Playing herself as "Grandmom Lorraine" - we have Jen's Mom (insert pre-recorded audience clapping here).  Mom came out to take care of the Merminator when he was recovering from his Tubes & Cirque procedures.  Aside from looking alike - the two have a kindred spirit (on-screen chemistry) that can only be explained by saying that they were always meant to be Grandmom and Grandson.   They have the same light in their eyes when they are together and you can tell that in spite of all the roles that my mother has played in her life, "Grandmom" is the one that she's going to win her Oscar for (especially for the scene where she describes, in detail, the volume and texture of Mercer's poops).

Here are some "stills" from her time here on 304:
Mom's First Jilly's Cupcake 
Mom and her "Mane Man", the Merminator
JenStar, her Momma and Mercer  - Love this Picture!

Playing herself as "Aunt Drea", as well as, "Mercer's Personal Librarian" and "Andrea Tanaka" we have, my sister "Andrea".   Mercer served as Dre's "subject" in her upcoming photography project, "My Life as the Aunt to the Cutest Child in the World".  I was informed after she left "the set" that she only took 300 pictures in 4.5 days.  O-N-L-Y 300. While she was here, she "thinks" that she taught Mercer his first word, "Dog".  She said, "Dog"...Mercer then replied, "og".  We all heard it...but in retrospect, since he hasn't said it since, he was probably asking for a vodka tonic.  In all seriousness, her dedication to the Mercer Project and her absolute adoration for our son, just warms us through.  He is the shiniest star on her walk of fame!

Aunt Drea, like Uncle Richie, has a clause in her contract regarding her right to first refusal on still picture publication.  So, I made sure to choose the most flattering photos, in order to prevent being sued by the Screen Actors Guild.  I will advise that in my possession, I have photos of her that could be released to the National, she should be extra nice to me.  Now that I've said that, I know that she has similar pics of for now...we're even.

Below are the best shots of Dre and Mermz from her stay.
Bedtime stories in our Jammies!

I think his shirt says it all...

Things at 304 are back to the original cast.  We can't wait for the Season Finale (Mercer's1st Bday), when we're all together again, this time joined by Pop-Pop.  If you know Pop-Pop, you know that the Season Finale will have to be "on cable" or the Sensors are going to sprain a finger while "bleeping" out the best parts of his stories.  (Love ya, Dad)

In the interim, we can't wait to be guest stars, ourselves, on the new reality show, "Our Lives as Florida Retirees" starring:  Bubby Carol, Grandpa Karl, Great Great Uncle Vince, Great Great Aunt Mary, Great Great Aunt Hilda, Great Great Uncle Bob and (Grand)Mama Teressa.  See you Floridians soon!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Sleep is for the Weak...

When we brought that precious little bundle of joy home from our stay in Colorado, he was two weeks old.  He magically transformed into the best sleeper ever.  Every night, almost on schedule, he cried for his midnight snack and went back to sleep afterward, like a champion.

At 5 weeks, he slept through the night for the very first time..and it wasn't but a few weeks later that he slept through the night for the entire week and then the entire month.

And Mark and I were rejoicing...WE GOT A SLEEPER.  This must have been a gift from God because of all that infertility bull$hit that we went through.  Surely, God is not a sadist; he wouldn't give us a child only to watch us squirm under the extreme stress of a non-sleeper.  That wouldn't be fair.

Of course, we were taking all the credit for his wonderful sleeping habits.  We had him on a schedule.  We were good sleepers.  We exerted a "calm presence".  It was all our doing - we were amazing new parents.

And when other parents asked, yea, we bragged (a little).  And the parents with the kids who were Mercer's age looked at us green with envy.  And the parents who had children older than Mercer, smiled knowingly and slyly - almost condescendingly (smug ba$tards).  And while I'm sure they thought that we were, indeed, amazing parents, they were quick to say, "Just wait until teething, separation anxiety, crawling, pulling changes everything."  And then we all shared an uncomfortable, forced laugh.

Mark and I would say, "They're crazy - he's sleep can't undo a good sleeper."

And I'd like this post to recognize the following:  WE WERE WRONG.

I like to think that God saw us doing such a great job with our little Monster, that He thought it was about time to throw a curve ball our way.  This curve ball's name was Sleep Training.

At our 9-month well visit, our pediatrician asked if Mercer falls asleep on his own.  And while I wasn't there to answer her (Mark took this Doc visit) I can assume he answered like this:  "Sure, while we're rocking him or he's drinking his last bottle."  And then I imagine her giving Mark this look of judgment that they teach you in medical school and then saying, "You need to teach him to fall asleep on his own, put him to sleep awake.  Comfort him with back rubs and shushing.  Don't talk to him; don't pick him up."
Easy for her to say...she doesn't have to actually implement this satanic ritual.

Friday night was our first night of this new bed time routine.  We had a last bottle at the table (his was formula, ours was wine).  We put on our PJ's.  We rocked and read a story.  Then, we put him in his crib...Awake.

At first his gaze locked with ours and he laughed.  This evil little demonic laugh that I didn't think infants were capable of making.  And then, after his nursery door was shut, the screaming began.  It was a howl, an angry howl with repetitive emphases made on the highest and lowest tones.  After the longest  two minutes of our lives, we went in to comfort him.  There he was, standing in his crib!  It was the first time he pulled himself up. Of course, we wanted to scoop him up and hug him because of this new achievement, but, we played it cool...he screamed, we shushed, we rubbed his back, we left the room.

This happened 3 more times during a 45 minute span.  And then, almost magically, he snuggled down after an intense crying fit, and slept...

...for 5 hours and the crying started, again.  A wail rang though the monitor that rocked us out of our sound sleep.  Me in my kerchief and Pa his cap, did "rock, paper, scissors" to decide the fate of who would fight the battle that night.  I lost.

And I started over again..the shushing, the back rubbing - each time lengthening the time between the visits into his room to "comfort" him.  And he settled himself back to sleep, AN HOUR AND A HALF LATER.
Between each visit into his room, I bargained with God.  For peace, I offered my presence at Mass, I offered my money to the homeless, I offered Mercer into the priesthood.  Nothing worked.  Mercer cried on.

Laying on the couch in the dark, listening to the cacophony of baby screams and dogs snoring tripped something in me.  I realized that like everything in life there was no easy way out.  And like anything I do in his best interests, I need to go "Mama Bear" on this task.   And while remaining stoic and taking a harda$$ approach on this was not easy for me, it was the only way I was going to "win".

So, I continued to sit in the dark, heartbroken, listening to him. Knowing that if I picked him up - his crying would stop instantly, but I would be giving in.  And that was not a habit I wanted to enter into this early in our relationship for his own good.

And like all the baby books said...he went back to sleep.

The bedtime routine on night two took a lot longer than night one, the middle-of-the-night crying was much more abbreviated  Night by night, it's getting just a little easier....and we're getting that much better functioning on less sleep.

So, in the recently immortal words of Charlie Sheen, we're "WINNING".  We're weary, we're sleep deprived but we're winning.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Nobody Knows the Trouble I See....

Installed for his protection; considered by Mercer to be the bars of his prison. 
Love the face, buddy.
Picture Credit:  Aunt Andrea "Tanaka" who was standing precariously on our chaise lounge leaning over the banister to get this shot.  Note - I probably should have taken a picture of that).

Splish Splash

Mercer taking a soak in the tub and loving every minute of it.
Picture credit:  Aunt Andrea