Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Ladan's First Dentist Appointment... and My Birthday Present

Ladan had his first dentist appointment on Monday afternoon. We had talked about it on Sunday, so when he woke up on Monday morning, the first thing he YELLED was, "Mommy, I'm ready to go to the DENTIST!!!!!!!" (with his arms pumping in the air as he jumped from his bed). Of course, we had to wait three hours before our 1:15 appointment (that's right... he woke up at 10:15). We killed some time around the house, and he practically flew out the door when it was time to go. All the way there, he talked about how the dentist was going to clean the sugarbugs off his teeth.

We walked into the waiting room, and he was doing great while I filled out his paperwork. He was reading books and saying "that lady isn't going to brush my teeth" every time a new female patient walked in. When Andrea, our hygienist, called his name, we walked back, Ladan almost skipping with excitement.

Then he saw it... the big dentist's chair. And he screamed in terror. I got him calmed down. He refused to sit in it. I sat him in my lap. We showed him the pointy instrument used to count his teeth. He refused to open his mouth. We counted our fingers using said pointy instrument. He opened his mouth. He has 20 teeth. So far, no new discoveries. He started crying and screaming again. He got a sticker (tell me how this works, and I can't tell you--it doesn't happen this way at home, but this was "different"... apparently). It was Thomas. More crying. I prayed with him. He calmed down. Until Andrea came to introduce him to Mr. Thirsty (the thing that sucks slobber and water out of your mouth). He freaked! She moved on to the next activity.

He got to choose a flavor of toothpaste. Pink was his choice (bubble gum flavor). Andrea turned on the toothbrush. He freaked again. Now keep in mind that I'm holding him this entire time. I had my arm around him, and his little heart was beating just as hard and fast as it possibly could without causing some kind of cardiac arrest. She backed off again. We talked about trusting Mommy, God, and the dentist and about how we're trying to help him get the sugarbugs off his teeth so they don't fall out. He calmed down again (his heartrate confirmed this) and opened his mouth. Andrea was able to clean a tooth. We celebrated... for precisely 0.2 seconds before he realized what had happened and started crying again. He calmed down again and opened his mouth. She cleaned a second tooth. Celebration. Then crying.

Andrea decided it was time to stop. She said it's completely normal to have this experience the first time at the dentist. We'll try it again in six months. She gave him a hand balloon (she blew her glove up and tied it in a knot). He chose a toothbrush. He gave her a high-five with his hand balloon and thanked her for her time. Literally, he said, "Thank you for your time." She left the room.

And yet the drama continued. I stood up from under Ladan and went to sit him down in the chair so I could take his photo at his first dentist appointment. I was obviously not thinking, because he screamed with terror and looked at me like I had just slapped him across the face. I tried to explain that I just wanted to take his picture and that we were all done. When I realized he heard none of that, I quickly helped him down from the chair and took his photo standing up. He walked out of there as quickly as he could while still staying beside me.

When we got home, Ladan ran to Chet, and shouted, "Daddy, the dentist cleaned the sugarbugs off my teeth!" I clarified a little bit.

Chet went off to campus to study, and I stayed home with the boys eagerly anticipating the arrival of my birthday present! My birthday isn't for another week and a half, but the boys bought my present early, and IT'S AWESOME!!!!! I've been doing my walking/jogging routine with the boys quite a few times each week, but using the regular double stroller has been killing my back. So they bought be a double jogger. I cannot describe the difference. I can push and steer the thing with a finger, and because it's a double, I can spread my hands out a bit on the handle bar and open my lungs to breathe. I've found breathing to be a helpful addition to my workout routine! The other great thing is that the boys LOVE sitting right next to each other. They rest their heads on one another or sit forward together looking all around and giggling.

I have to say that this is one of the best presents I've ever received! It's right up there with the little bath bench that Chet got me for Valentine's Day one year so I could use it as a desk surface in the tub. I was in the middle of my student-teaching semester, and I kept telling Chet how great it would be if there was some way I could rig something up so I could grade papers in the tub at the end of the day (without risking dropping them right in the water). He and his best friend, Joey, went searching for just the right kind of thing... and they found it! What a creative gift!!! I can only imagine that I will look back on the gift of this stroller with equal or even greater gratitude.

To wrap up our Monday.... Before bed that night, Ladan prayed and thanked God for the ride in his new blue stroller [emphasis mine], for the dentist and for getting his teeth brushed. He told God that he yelled at the lady and said, "NO!" The next morning, he woke up and said he was ready to go to the dentist again! I knew he would forget the terror of this day by the time he was 10 or 12, but I didn't realize he'd forget it by the next day!!! Apparently, there IS hope for the next dentist appointment!

Wait Just a Minute... Is This 2007 or 1987?

Here's one for you... Ladan thoroughly enjoys tractors and has one that he particularly enjoys playing with. That's not the funny part (in case you were trying to laugh but couldn't). The funny part is that he calls it...

his "Tractor Keeper". He knows it's a tractor, but he prefers to call it his tractor keeper.

What!?! Has he ever even heard of a Trapper Keeper? Did he know even before I did that Mead was going to come out with a new and improved version of The Original Trapper Keeper? Where did he pick this up? I'm totally baffled, but I'm enjoying it while it lasts.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Gabe's Firsts and Faves... and One Funny Ladan Story

The last few weeks have marked many firsts for Gabe, which I'll list below:
  • First trip to the beach (9/9/07)
  • First time in a swimming pool (9/10/07)
  • First STEPS! (9/18/07) -- He took a couple of steps a couple of times yesterday! Chet got to see it all, and I missed it, which means I also don't have video verification. Oh well. It seems entirely possible that we'll have another opportunity to get that in the near future.
  • First shower (9/18/07). He loved the shower, water spraying all over his head and everything! He flipped around like a fish out of water in that tub, so I had to watch him, but he had a BLAST!
  • First injury inflicted by his personal body guard. (9/19/07). After church tonight, I was chatting with a friend. Gabe was crawling on the sidewalk and was heading in the general direction of the street (he was a good 5 feet away from the curb). Ladan JUMPED up from where he was in the grass; ran over to Gabe; yelled, "No, Baby Gabe! That's dangerous!"; and promptly squashed his brother down to the ground so he couldn't endanger himself any further. As a result, Gabe had the shock of his life and has a nasty scraped up fat lip to prove it all. Though Ladan overreacted just a bit, I did not correct him for squishing his brother. I simply thanked him for protecting Baby Gabe and let him know that, should this happen again the future, he might simply hold his brother's hand until I can get there.

His favorite word is "Ladan".

He now waves bye-bye.

He LOVES fruit of all kinds and most vegetables. I can't seem to feed him enough of these things.

He gets excited to see me, but when Ladan or Chet walk into the room, oh my goodness!

He enjoys singing, playing peek-a-boo, and clapping his hands.

He loves to play with any type of ball or book.

I can't believe he'll be one year old in 9 days! What a blessing to be his mom!


When Ladan has to use the restroom, he always comes running in to me and says, "Wait just a minute, Mommy! I have to go potty!" So, yesterday, I was getting Ladan ready to do just that. He stepped up on the stool and got his shorts down. I asked him to go ahead and pull his undies down, and he responded, "I can't do that right now, Mommy. I might crack my finger." Oh, well, my goodness. We can't have that, can we?!

A few minutes later, he told me that he couldn't lay in his bed for his nap because he might crack his head. I looked at him. And he promptly laid down on his pillow.


(Don't miss the entry below recounting our vacation adventures!)

A Trip to the Beach and a Near-Death Experience

Do you see that photo at the top of my blog? Well, I got to take the boys there last week, and it was SO FUN! My mom came over a couple of days early, and we all drove up to Grand Haven, MI together. Then my grandparents met us there the next day. They had never met Gabe before, and Ladan and I hadn't seen them in almost two years, so this was a special treat.

This was my first kid-on-the-beach experience, so I wasn't exactly sure what I should do with Gabe. I asked many friends, and none of them had any good advice... except be ready to fish sand out of his mouth if he gets enough that he's choking. It's a good thing I tend to be a little bit laid-back when it comes to my kids encountering germs, because the thought of seagull poop in his mouth might have prevented me from going otherwise.

So, in the interest of your time, I'll get on with the photos, and I'll include a few little stories where necessary....

In case you're a relativist who isn't sure whether or not there's truth in the statement that the earth is round, these first two photos are for you.

The boys had a blast the one day we actually got to play on the beach. It was 80 degrees, there was a calm breeze, and the water was warm enough to get in. Gabe took right to it all. Ladan needed a few minutes to get used the facts that the sand was dirty and that the water might make him wet. He was pretty funny, actually. For the first 30+ minutes, he did things a little differently than most kids. Most kids I know take wet sand up to the dry sand so they can make castles, etc. Ladan, on the other hand, took the dry sand down to the wet sand so as to make it less "muddy". After a good bit of time, however, he did what every kid does and spent about an hour throwing shovels of sand out to the water.

Our beach day was Sunday. Monday was rainy, so we decided to do some swimming in the hotel pool and celebrate our Dutch heritage with a trip to Holland, MI. Ladan promptly found the huge wooden shoes and decided they would serve better as race cars for he and Gabe.

Then Tuesday was ultra-windy. The winds were about 35-40 miles per hour... leading to the crazy-hair photos below. If Gabe had hair, it would have been blowing too! Ladan was very uncomfortable in the wind, so he stayed up closer to the car with Grandma. Gabe accompanied me all the way to the water's edge, which is where I snapped the shot of the two of us.

And these are my grandparents! My Gram will be 80 in the spring, and Ken is something like 83. They're so active and energetic, and they have a BLAST together! Ken has macular degeneration, so he can't see much at all. However, Gabe's big eyes captured his heart. It wasn't long before he was crawling around on the floor with Gabe playing peek-a-boo.

Okay, so here's my mom's favorite part... the horse-riding experience. My Uncle Bob (mom's brother) lives about 20 minutes from Grand Haven, and he invited us to come out to ride his horses. Ladan thought the idea was really great, but these were some big horses, so he decided it wasn't such a great idea anyway. I rode Buddy using the saddle normally fitted for the other horse. After walking into a tree line, nearly falling off the horse MULTIPLE times, and fearing for my life a few more than that, I figured out how to get Buddy to do what I wanted him to do.

I quickly learned from experience that horses get a little bit "fiesty" (as Bob termed it) on cool, breezy days. As soon as the breeze picked up, so did Buddy. I can't even count the number of times I had to slow the silly horse down so I didn't bounce right off the top of him. It wasn't until I dismounted, and my cousin was about to get on that we realized that Buddy's saddle was too loose. It's no wonder I felt a bit insecure! Lesson #1: if you're jumping up onto a horse, and his saddle slides down his side, get back off and tighten it... BEFORE you go for a 3-mile ride! Lesson #2: If you fail to do this, your bottom will likely hurt for a day or two. Lesson #3: It's still pretty fun even if it's a bit scary!

Gabe decided he would go ahead and attempt to ride with Bob. He was right at home, and Bob was having a great time! Ladan was content to pet the horses, which is just fine with me.

And here are a few photos of the lake (Lake Michigan, in case you're not sure). The wind prevented us from hanging out on the beach, but it made some really great waves! There is no doubt that the LORD is an all-powerful Creator! Just look at his handiwork!

And, finally, does anyone with loads of random knowledge happen to have figured out why seagulls stand perfectly still staring in exactly the same direction at a time of high winds and possible rain? I'm assuming it's to streamline their bodies and make it a little bit easier to stand on their tiny little feet. But if there's a better or more complete explanation, please comment.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

More Conversations With Ladan...

Conversation #1

Let me set the story up a bit for you...

When Ladan is being bothered by another child, his tendency is to just scream. We have been trying to teach him how to handle this a little bit better. When one of his friends is pushing or doing something he doesn't appreciate or understand, we instruct him to simply say, "Please don't do that." If the child continues, he is to come tell us or another adult in charge (he is not to hit or push back).

A couple of days ago, we were taking our normal evening walk/jog in the park. Gabe was in the back of the 2-kid stroller, and Ladan was in front. Ladan wanted to recline his seat, causing his bright orange hat to be within arm's reach of his very curious little brother. That said, his hat didn't stay on his head long, and he was quickly moved to shout at his brother, "BABY GABE, PLEASE DON'T DO THAT!" It was a little loud, but he was getting the concept. Realizing that when another person touches Ladan's hat it's the equivalent of them taking his underpants or some other terrible offense, and that Gabe (at 11 months of age) probably wasn't going to understand my explanation, I had to come up with a quick solution. They swapped seats.

Now Ladan was sitting in the back, and Gabe was in the front. Of course, this was very difficult for Gabe, because everything that was interesting to him was behind him. He was regularly turning around and laughing at Ladan. Since Ladan's hat was safe, he felt free to enjoy the company of his baby brother. He started to gently tickle Gabe's ears. After a few tickles, it became clear that Gabe no longer enjoyed this type of play. The conversation followed like this...

Me: "Ladan, please don't poke at or tickle your brother. He's not enjoying that."

(He promptly stops and sits back in his seat.)

Ladan: "Mommy, could you please don't do that?"

Me: "Don't do what?"

Ladan: "Could you please don't tell Ladan "stop tickling my broder"?"

Me: "Ladan, Mommy is trying to help you love your brother. When you were tickling him and poking at him, he wasn't enjoying it. I want Baby Gabe to like hanging out with you, so I'm helping you learn how to show him love."

Ladan: "Because I don't know these things."

Me: "Yes."

Ladan: "And you're helping me."

Me: "Yes."

Ladan: "Thanks, Mom."

The ride home was quiet and uneventful, aside from Gabe's near escape from his stroller buckle. That kid is going to be some kind of Houdini, I'm convinced.

Conversation #2

(Ladan is sitting on the potty, and I'm cleaning the toys out of the tub.)

Ladan: "Hey, Mom?"

Me: "Yes, Ladan?" (If I want him to say "Yes, Mommy" I better set an example and say "Yes, Ladan")

Ladan: "When I had my zookinny (zucchini) in my mouth and kept it there, Daddy dissipwinned (disciplined) me."

Me: "Did he do that because you were refusing to swallow your food?"

Ladan: "Yeah. I didn't chew up my zookinny and swawwow it."

Me: "Daddy didn't want you to choke, huh?" (This has actually happened many times in our home when Ladan keeps his food in his mouth for 30+ minutes refusing to swallow it. He may not be the meanest kid on the block, but he's got an independent streak that cuts to the core.)

Ladan: "Yeah. Daddy didn't want me to choke. He helped me eat my zookinny. Daddy loves me. And teaches me right from wrong. So I don't disobey and choke. On my zookinny."

He said "zookinny" so many times in the course of the conversation, I couldn't help but give him a big squeeze. I love that word! And his expressions were priceless! It was also a huge blessing to hear that the thing he focuses on when he recounts correction is that his daddy loves him and wants to help him.

Conversation #3

(This is our normal conversation every night when I put Ladan to bed. He sits on my back while we read his Bible story. Then he lays on my back while we pray. Then I tuck him under his covers, give him a kiss on the cheek, and we go through our nightly salutations.)

Me: "Goodnight, my buddy."

Ladan: "Goodnight, my Mommy."

Me: "I love you."

Ladan: "I love you too."

Me: "Sleep good."

Ladan: "Sleep good, Mom."

Me: "See you in the morning."

Ladan: "See you in the warning." (I'll be so sad when he stops saying this.)

What a sweet kid! It's no wonder I generally feel energized for a couple more hours of chores after that!

New Music

August 28 was a good day in the music world. Two new and amazing cds came out...

Casting Crowns The Altar and the Door

And Shane & Shane Pages.

Chet and I are going with a couple other folks our age and a load of teens from our church to the Casting Crowns concert in November, and I cannot wait! The cd is great, but Casting Crowns is always so good in concert that the cd almost pales in comparison. Because the cd is great, I can only imagine what the concert will be like....