Family Math 101 here... First there was one, just me, before I met Adrian on my 28th birthday. Then there were two. If you count the chihuahuas, we soon added up to be four. Tristan came along and we were 5, and now with the new one coming this month, we should be 6 (or 4 humans if you are not into counting dogs as family members.) Our lives are about to change again, and as much as I think we are ready for it, we are wondering how Toddler Man might react.
What a happy family!
My own brother had 3 blissful years before I came along, then I showed up and kind of ruined his whole little world for him. I guess that is what younger sisters do to their older brothers, am I right? Due to my brattiness, I realize that just maybe I deserved to be chased with a stick by him and his buddies in a game they liked to call "Rambo" but perhaps that is what made me quick and scrappy. And I am sure I was asking for it when I sat in the corner of the room as my brother worked on his math flash cards and I yelled out answers before he did. And who told on him when he used swear words and then got soap in his mouth? Couldn't have been li'l ole me! But I do draw the line at Bryan chasing me with his yellow bucket of expired chipmunks that he termed "Bucket o' Death"... that was just cruel even for a family of hunters.
My brother with his hands around my neck- feel the love?
So what is my little guy in for? How is adding another boy into the Wells family going to affect him? Will he relish his new role as big brother or will he be a rebel with a cause? Up to this point, he's happily had full attention of the entire extended family. Every night before bed, he chases Daddy while giggling up a storm as he gets tossed around like a beanbag. He's been a well-traveled seasoned hiker and happy beach bum with Mommy when I've been feeling well enough. He gets full grandparent attention as well and soaks that up like the little sponge that he is. Even the dogs revolve around his feeding times like circling sharks. So what happens when a new arrival bursts on the scene and alters all that?
Before Baby #1, we prepped the chihuahuas on the fact that they were not going to be the center of the universe much longer; we played CDs of baby cries, trained them not to step a paw into the nursery so we could have a guaranteed pet-free zone, brought home the baby's receiving blanket from the hospital, and generally got them as ready as possible for this adjustment. Yes, we were those yuppies who actually took classes at the hospital to get pets to transition successfully with a new baby coming home. The dogs are doing quite well for the most part, but I am thinking that mini-humans may have a harder time switching when you add new babies to the family mix. Tristan can't just go into the crate if he's being naughty to the new arrival; we'll have to work out a whole new system for him.
Chihuahuas sleeping blissfully after Tristan's arrival.
He seems to love his brother already as he kisses my belly many times a day. He plays him like a drum, tells him secrets and generally slobbers on him at this point, but we have a feeling it may not be all sparkly unicorns when the baby is on the outside demanding love and attention and Tristan gets that "Wait a minute- this is what was in your belly? I thought it would be a puppy and instead it's this purply wrinkled crying smelly thing." How do we handle that? I suppose we prepare as much as we can now, and then go with the flow just like we have for the other 17,000 changes since he came along. This should be a fun month- we welcome prayers!
Those are some big shoes to fill.
Our church takes new professional family pictures about every 5 years for our directory. Our last picture was when we were about to get married and both looking our best, with fresh smiles and an excited air about us. The world was in front of us and it was so easy to smile on cue. But, alas, that was half a decade ago and this most recent picture shoot ended up a slightly different experience on the whole. Just ever so slightly.
Just the two of us in our earlier days at Acadia National Park
Our 20 month old decided that he would have a screaming party the night before picture day, just close to midnight, oddly enough since he's been a good sleeper pretty much all of his short little life so far. No biggie, though, we'd all get to nap before our time-slot and would have plenty of time to dress the sophistocated family part and show up for pictures like the happy group that we were. Well, the nap didn't happen for any of us as the time to get to church crept up, we shoveled in some lunch that Tristan decided he suddenly did not want to partake in even though squash was his favorite food ever yesterday. Oh well, no nap, rushed wardrobe changes, a lousy meal, and a toddler refusing his milk didn't necessarily mean a disaster awaited us. Or did it?
We got to church and Tristan was all smiles, so we had fun running around and playing while waiting for it to be our turn under the big flashy umbrella that fascinated the little guy. Yea, he was in such a good mood for being so under-rested, and we got excited to get the cutest little picture of the 3.8 of us taken. Last year, we had taken our own Christmas pictures with a baby and two chihuahuas, so how hard could this photo shoot be? We got called into the make-shift studio maybe 20 minutes later and something in the air had changed. Can't exactly pinpoint what went wrong, but perhaps it was everything.
Tristan decided it was suddenly not any fun to be held by parents getting their chins shifted in unnatural positions and smiling away at a stranger talking about dairy. (Why exactly do we say "Cheese" and not "Wheeze" or something else?) So he started to more than fidget as he vehemently kicked off his shoes 7 times in a 5-minute posing session. He also chose to kick us, cry out like a wild monkey, show off his mad new nose-digging skillz, and shove his entire fist into his mouth for some really amazing shots of the family. As I tried to hold him and got kicked more times than I appreciated, my hair simply went amuck from his grabbing, the baby inside of me transformed into a sharp elbowing oven, hence turning me all sweaty and nasty as I dealt with a couple Braxton Hicks contractions all while trying to get Tristan to hold still for these flash bulbs he no longer wanted anything to do with. Oh, and that stupid stuffed animal moose that was supposed to get little kids to giggle made Tristan look as if he had been kidnapped and was quite suspicious of this stranger dancing a weirdo animal in front of him.... like he had it all figured out that it was staged and no he would not crack a smile even with dual-tickling from Mama and Dada. He's one tough cookie when he wants to be! And the fun was just beginning.
Out-take from our Xmas pix last year
When we got to sit down with the photographer and sift through the photos that we liked, that is where the real fun began. You know when you get a choice between your driver's license photos and it was always "Do you want the one where you look like a serial killer or the one with a goofy grin on your face and crossed eyes?" Well, these choices were much worse. So much worse because there were three of us and not just one person to reckon with.... one little person crying and having that "these people stole me!" look, one person with monster hair taking over the entire frame plus 50 extra pounds of baby already making her (me) look a bit whale-ish, and one trying to tame the wild stallion toddler with certain strange and non-joyous expressions on his own face. And we had to choose a framed portrait fit to represent our family in public in the church directory. Awesome. I have to say here that due to hormones and heat and lack of sleep, I started to crack up hysterically while being asked to choose between horrid and worse-than-horrid. Cracked up so hard I began to cry profusely, fell out of my chair, and had to leave the room to collect myself, for real. I told the hubby he should choose one for us, and when I came back a few minutes later and saw he chosen the one where I looked like I swallowed sour candy after coming back from a woodsy-3-day-survival excursion, we went through them again to find a more suitable picture. In one of them, Adrian and I actually looked decent yet Tristan had the frantic panicked look, hand all the way in his mouth, finger in nose, and was flicking off the camera. Okay, so he only had two hands and couldn't do all three of those but we think he was trying. In the end we picked one where Tristan looked semi-normal (heaven forbid us actually getting one with him smiling) and I looked like a hunched wildebeast and Adrian looked let's just say not as handsome as I know him to be.
This pix snapped the same day as the family portraits- proof that our boy can smile!
So that fiasco being over, and after Grammie got a few pictures taken as well, we all headed home for the 10 minute car-ride. En route, he fell fast asleep for 2 whole minutes, refreshed himself with that slumber, then met Oma and Grandpa at home running around giving them his very best picture-faced smiles for the whole world to see. He totally hammed it up and was just all perky and cute and the wonderful little man we know him to be. Yet, none of that could have happened an hour earlier, eh? What is that, some kind of toddler rule that they decide when to behave cute and when to behave nasty and it is usually at the worst possible times on earth for the parents? All I can say is that we could have chosen to ruin the dignity of the church directory today by choosing one of the other pictures, so if you do end up seeing the final result that was less than pleasant, please be kind to us and don't hurt our feelings too much. We are, in fact, parents of a toddler... and we survived picture day 2012.