Monday, August 29, 2011

Just Me & My Boy...

I sometimes get so caught up in wanting to do things "as a family" that I forget how important it is to also foster my relationship with Mercer, alone, as his Momma.

I think back to some of the best times of my childhood and interestingly, they were with one of my parents, respectively.  My Mom, my sister and I would take our Nannie (my great-grandmother) grocery shopping every week and then we'd all go to lunch.  My Dad and I would spend hours throwing a ball back and forth to each other in the yard.  The time that they took with us made us feel valued and important.  It made us feel like they wanted us around.  Since, both of my parents worked, they tried hard to instill quality into the short time they had with us.  Obviously, if I’m remembering this 100 years later, they did a good job.  And now as a parent, I can see what it gave them.  It gave them the opportunity to impart their own little wisdoms onto us.  To observe us as children with their eyes only.  And to take those experiences back to each other, after we were all tucked in for the night, and share what the other had missed; what we had said or did, how we had behaved, their thoughts and concerns about us, their secret wishes for our futures.

The above, all came together in my mind after this past weekend as Mark and I, both, got to spend some one-on-one time with Mercer.

Mark took Mercer to the zoo for the first time.  Mercer has been learning animals and animals noises at daycare, so we thought it was high time he saw these things in person.  I was excited for him…but I maintained low expectations, because I didn’t know if and how a 15-month old would grasp the zoo concept.  So, when I picked up my two warm, sweaty men after a morning at the zoo, I was estatic to hear Mark’s full detailed report of all the things that he and Mercer had seen together…as father and son.  They had seen the gorillas, bears, hippos, elephants, tigers, zebras, giraffes, wild asses (where I’m sure Mark pointed out, “There’s your mother, son”), penguins, catfish, turtles, flamingos, ostriches and more.  Mark made sure that Mercer saw each animal and Mercer made sure that he pointed, acted completely interested and made the appropriate animal noises when he saw an animal that he recognized.  When they got to the African Cattle, Mark held Mercer up to the railing and said, “Mercer…these are like cows”.  And Mercer said, “MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO”.  Mark was beaming as he shared the story of their morning together and ended it with, “Mermie had a great time, and you know, I did, too”.

(It is here that I would inset pictures of their experience together – but Mark hates taking pictures and being photographed, so the sketch below if my rendition of their experience together in stick figure form).
Mercer, what does a bear say?  "ROAAAAAAAAAAAAr"
The next day, Mark took a Dad’s Day Off and went fishing.  Mercer and I got to spend the day together.  And this is what I had to report to him as we climbed into bed last night in our matching, “Super Parent” t-shirts:
1.      After Mark left, I was putting the dogs out and Mercer said, “Lula”…which is how Mark and I refer to our dog Lu.  Mark was almost teary when he heard this.
2.      Mercer and I packed up and went to the park.  We took a long walk and ended up at the baby swings.  Mercer just loved swinging back and forth.  He was laughing and babbling the whole time.  I was quizzing him on his colors, body parts and animal sounds and he was firing off answers like a Jeopardy contestant in training.
a.       Also to Note:
                                                              i.      Mercer is also a total “man” as he stared at the 20-year old girls next to us working out.  He was smiling so big at them that they stopped exercising to comment on how absolutely “Cute and Smiley” he is.  So, he continued to stare (and drool).
                                                            ii.      I didn’t bring bottled water for myself…just Mercer’s sippy cup full of ice water.  So, I’m sure people were staring at me as I was openly drank from his sippy cup while pushing him in the swings.  They probably thought the cup was full of MommyJuice (Vodka).
                             iii.    He actually kept his hat on for an extended period of time.  THIS IS HUGE.  Since he's super fair (and a borderline Ginger) we had three choices:  hat, dunk him in sunscreen head-first or coercing him into become an agoraphobic.  Let's just say that the hat was the best overall solution.
Scenes from the Swings, taken by me:

3.      I took Mercer to McDonalds for his first Happy Meal.  I was a little unsure as to how to manage a toddler in a place where you have to carry your own tray to the table.  So, as soon as I got there, I plopped him in a high chair and wheeled him up to the counter to order with me.  I think he enjoyed the attention.  He had a Chicken McNugget Happy Meal with Apples and Milk.  A far more healthy choice of lunches than what his Mother used to eat there when she was a child…”Chicken McNuggets, BBQ Sauce, French Fries and a Coke”.  I will report that Mercer loved his meal and especially enjoyed trying BBQ sauce and ketchup for the first time.  He was more interested in the condiments than in the actual food. 
a.       Note:  McDonalds doesn’t put out plastic ware, so I had to use my teeth to cut Mercer’s food.  Classy.
He's thinking, "Where's that toy that everyone's talking about?

Looking back on what we've done this weekend makes me look forward to a future's worth of Mommy (and Daddy) & Mercer adventures, no matter how big (African Safari) or small (more gawking at girls in the park). 

Love - Me

15 Months

Mercer - Less than 1 day old

Mercer - 15 months

I'm amazed at the sheer biology of he got from a 6.5 lbs baby to the little boy that now resides with us...all over the course of just 15 months.

I don't look at the pictures of his baby-hood and sigh, wishing for time to pause or reverse so I can have that teeny tiny baby blob back in my arms.  Maybe it's because I know it's not possible.  But moreso, I think it's because each day, as he ages (learns, grows, experiences new things) I get a glimpse into what he is becoming.  And that end result...the result that Mark and I, as his (adoptive) parents have direct impact on, intrigues me more than anything else.

The World is yours, Mermie - Give 'em hell.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Mercer's Top 10 List

1.  He loves being read to.  Last night I read the book, I Kissed the Baby, about 8 times (not exaggerating).  There's a line in the book that goes, "I kissed the baby, did you kiss the baby?"  And each time after I read that, he looks and me, smiles and gives me a smooch.

2.   He can rock a tuxedo shirt.  Not many men (or men in training) can pull off this look.  As evidenced below, both of my men CAN.

3.  He eats Hummus.  In fact, I'm pretty sure Mark taught him to double dip because we'll put some on a cracker and he'll lick it off and then ask for "MO" (more).

4.  He's facing forward in the car now and can actually say, "Car" - so, he gets all excited when we're getting ready to go out.  In fact, he gets so excited that as soon as we mention "out" or "school" - he runs to stand by the door until we're ready.

5.  He likes to imitate animals noises.  We'll say, "Mercer, what does a (dog, cat, cow, duck, gorilla, bear or tiger) say?"  And he'll make some kind of noise and gesture.  For example, "What does a gorilla say?"  And he goes, "o o oh o" and pounds his chest.

6.  He can say his colors - yesterday we learned (from daycare) that his favorite color is yellow, or as he says, ""Dellohhhhhhh".  I went through the whole rainbow with him and the only color he has a hard time saying is "orange".  Mark thinks that this makes complete sense since both of "Mercer's" dogs are yellow and his room is (iridescent) yellow.

7.  Daycare Lady (Miss Laura, or as Mercer says, "Miss Wara") said that Mercer gets uber-excited when it's "circle time".  For those not familiar about the "circle time" concept - it's when all the learning happens - flashcards, colors, for the brain...he eats it up.  Miss "Wara" said that Mercer catches on quickly and in her professional opinion, he is going to be a genius.  I think her expectations are higher than MINE!

8.  His pallette is expanding.  He's eating more "real" (versus pureed) fruit.  It seems that he especially likes grapes.  He also loves Spaghetti & Meatballs and quesedillas.  Our ethnic tastes are rubbing off on him!

9.  If you're not looking, after having put food down for the dogs, Mercer will run over to their bowl and shove a handful of their food in his mouth.  Handful = 15 or so pieces of dog food.  He looks like a chipmunk because there's so much kibble jammed in there.  And then we (as his parents) get the dangerous task of fishing out each piece from a mouth with 8 little teeth in it.

10.  He's Daddy's Little Boy...and Daddy eats up every second of the attention.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Trying all sorts of new foods...

Mercer & his Tangerine ice pop - He shared it with me.

Mercer vs. Momma's spaghetti - He loved it

Long Live Punk

I didn't think Mercer's hair was long.  I never planned to grow it out to Hair Band lengths (think Motley Crue - 1985).  I wasn't holding out on getting his haircut because it's some passage from baby-hood into adult-hood and I couldn't bare to accept that he's growing up.  I just thought that he didn't need it.  And when I asked Mark (who - I'll remind you, has NO HAIR) whether Mercer needed a trim, he'd say, "Cut what?  There's nothing to cut.  You're going to pay someone to cut his hair?  You must think money grows on trees".  (He kept talking...I stopped listening...this technique has saved our marriage).

I was fine with this.  I was actually excited about eventually get my little man's hair cut and styled for the first time and I was happy that we didn't have to rush it.  That all changed with one comment from a stranger.

I'm a frequent shopper in the florist department at Dierbergs and there is one employee who I encounter frequently.  She is always quite friendly and helpful.  I happened to have Mercer with me on this day and when she see us she says, "Well...look at that.  What a cute little baby....uhhh...what is it...a boy or a girl?  I can't tell because his hair is so long". 

I.  was.  shocked.  (Maybe I should stop dressing him in kilts outside the house...he is very pretty and people get confused so easily).

I, of course, recovered quickly, because I roll with all kinds of diplomacy.  I smiled wide and said, "ALL BOY....looks like it's time for a hair cut".  We both laughed uncomfortably and I kept walking.  Walking and thinking in my head..."Where the hell can I get this kid's hair chopped off, ASAP?"
This is the part of the story where I look in my crystal ball and see a salon in a land far, far away that caters to children's cuts.  Since it's 2011, the crystal ball has been replaced by Google and we found a cool little shop near by.

Below are the "Before" and "After" photos.

Needed to feel like a man, so he chose the Monster Jeep (with a little help from Daddy)
Definitely looking girly with those long tresses...

Enjoying the attention of some ladies as he gets his first trim
Looking sharp...literally...with his new 'do

Can't deny it now...he's all boy, baby!
Mercer behaved quite well while sitting in a Monster Jeep, as a complete stranger buzzed around him with all sorts of cutting implements.  And of course, I couldn't resist having her style his hair into a mohawk.  Next time..he's getting blue tips.  How are we to pass on the true meaning of PUNK to the next generation without starting them this young?  Maybe we'll get his nose pierced for his 2nd birthday!!!  Hollar!

So...some post-scripts to my little tale:
1.  People, learn from the lady in Dierbergs.  If you don't know the sex of the child when encountering one, just say, "Oh - what a CUTE kiddo - you're so blessed".  This also works if the baby is ugly.  Don't put the parents on the defensive.  Because they could respond with something like, "That's a very nice haircut, ma'am.  My shop teacher  in high school, Mr. Sawhorse, wore his hair that same way!"  See?  Not nice, now, is it?
2.  Mark liked Mercer's hair after it was cut.  And of course he didn't complain about the cost, because Grandmom picked up the tab (Thanks Grandmom)!!!!
3.  There are people out there who cut their own kid's hair and I'm totally cool with your mad hairdresser skillz.  But, I know that unless we're doing a #1 on the clippers all over....I would have messed it up and made him the laughing stock of daycare.  I know my strengths - it's creating a style, not actually executing it.  Stop judging.
4.  It seems the mohawk suits him well.  He's come home from daycare with it styled like that a few times now.  Our little adorable!