The birds and the bees

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The time had come.

I’ve talked to The Big Sis about body changes and puberty, and she knew that babies are made by combining the seed from the dad and the egg from the mom. But over the weekend in the car, she asked, out of the view and point blank: “So, how exactly are babies made, and do you just decide you want a baby and then it’s there?”

As we were all in the car together, I told her, “Good question. I’ll tell you about it later.”

Now, it would have been simple for me to pretend I forgot to address it later and hope it didn’t come up again. But I figured I should proceed with telling her about the nitty gritty while she was still eager to hear it from me. It would be a potentially uncomfortable conversation, yes, but I knew this talk would help lay the groundwork for whether she comes to talk to me about these things in the future as well. Being evasive would have only made her pull back.

So, later that night, before bedtime, I asked if she really wanted to know how babies were made. She did, and so I proceeded to tell her all about it, doing my best to explain some very complicated topics. She did declare by the end of it that she’s not going to have kids anymore, but overall I think the talk went very well. She did think it was gross (I assured her she’d likely change her mind when she was a little older), but she didn’t seem super embarrassed (nor did I), and she asked a lot of great questions — enough that sometimes it’d make me get a little sidetracked because there’s just so much of cover. In the few days since then, she’s also asked me a couple follow-up questions, so I really do hope that continues in the coming years.


Wordless Wednesday: Babies no more

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Just dance

Saturday, September 27, 2014

For a variety of reasons, I’ve previously hesitated to enroll The Big Sis in any extracurricular activities that involved more than a two-month (or so) commitment and/or ones that involved rehearsals or practices on weeknights. However, I reconsidered this year and signed her up for a 22-week jazz and hip hop dance class on Tuesday nights through our Parks and Recreation department. At the same time, we decided to sign up The Little Sis for a preschool tumbling class on Thursday nights — her first-ever organized activity (aside from a parent-baby swim class when she was 11 months old).

Classes began last week, and hopefully they go better in coming weeks than they did in the first week! The Big Sis’s dance class itself was fine, but unfortunately The Husband got into an accident when he was less than a block away from the community center, so that put a damper on things.

Then on Thursday, The Little Sis ended up crying and sitting in my lap in the corner the whole time (even though I wasn’t even supposed to be in the room) and wouldn’t entertain the idea of joining the other kids in her tumbling class. We’ll continue to talk with her about it in the coming week, though as of right now she says she’ll be brave and do what the other kids are doing next week.

It just about tore my heart out, though, when she told me that night at bedtime, in a tiny voice, “I sorry I didn’t do my class today.” :-/ I told her it was okay, and she knew what to expect now, and we’d give it another try next week.

So here’s hoping next week goes better than this week did.

Oh, grow up!

Friday, September 19, 2014
Historically, The Big Sis and I have clashed quite a bit, over both big things and little things. I don’t LIKE that it happens, but I do think we’re similar in many ways, which then creates an issue when it comes to dealing with conflict. While we still butt heads from time to time, I can tell The Big Sis has matured quite a bit lately, which has made many parts of our family life much easier.

For one thing, after discussing homework with a friend recently, it occurred to me that while we’re just a month into the school year, with the bulk of the calendar ahead of us, so far our homework battles have been few and far between. And thank goodness, because we’ve certainly had our share of doozies in the past!

I’ve also noticed it quite a bit in how she reacts to situations that are disappointing or don’t go as she expected. I can still tell she is disappointed, but she doesn’t lash out immediately like she might have previously, especially in dealing with people outside our household. For example, the other morning at the bus stop, she said to our neighbor (who is also in her class and who she plays with regularly), “Let’s sit in the back again today!” The neighbor kid, with kind of a mean tone, said, “I’m not sitting with you today.” The Big Sis could have chosen to say something mean or defensive back to her, but she did not; she just let it go. I could read the disappointment on her face, but I could also see the resolve she had to not let it bother her. I didn’t want to say anything at the time, but later I made sure to bring it up and praise her for not turning that into an ugly situation.

I also find that I enjoy my one-on-one time with The Big Sis much more now. Not that I didn’t enjoy it previously, of course, but I feel like we can relate to each other on a different level more recently, which leads to better enjoyment and appreciation of our time together. No doubt the nature of our relationship will morph in both positive and negative ways over the coming years as she gains more independence and experience, but our bond remains through it all.

Tuesday tidbits

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

I sat down to look at my photos on the computer so I could find a good one for Wordless Wednesday. And then I realized it wasn’t Wednesday. So wait, it’s only Tuesday?! Ugh!


*The Little Sis is probably more princess-obsessed than The Big Sis. Send chicken soup and casseroles, please.

*I thought The Big Sis was sort of easing out of her princess obsession — until the movie Frozen came along. She has been hit with the bug badly. For as long as I can remember, her favorite color has been pink. But yesterday she told me that her favorite colors are now white and blue. “Because of Frozen?” I asked. A little embarrassed, she admitted that was why.

*I think there should be more evening entertainment options for people who don’t want to go out to bars/clubs. The Husband and I enjoyed a late-dinner date night this past weekend, as it’s easiest if we can get The Little Sis to bed before we go out, so the earliest we can leave the house is 8 or 8:15 p.m. By the time we finished with dinner, it was 9:30 p.m., and we weren’t close to any movie theaters to catch a late showing. The original plan had been to find a venue to watch a band play, which sounded good beforehand, but The Husband and I just generally aren’t “go-to-a-club-to-see-a-band-we-don’t-know-play” kind of people, so we decided to go get ice cream. An ice cream shop is much more our speed. But…then what? It was still just 10:30, and we didn’t want to waste the use of a sitter, but we ran out of things to do that didn’t involve drinking or eating. Not sure what the solution is there, though our solution that night was to go to Walmart and wander around a bit. I did find some new sunglasses, so it wasn’t a completely lame and pointless trip, at least!

*Warning: Potty talk in this tidbit. The Little Sis has been practicing using the potty for  a while, but she wasn’t making much forward progress, so we decided to take the plunge and switch to undies to see if that did anything. This is not how we did it with The Big Sis (who basically trained herself, and we switched to undies and she never had any accidents), but it’s what felt right this time. The problem? She was a poop-hider, meaning it was almost impossible to catch her before she pooped in her undies. (Which, I must say, kudos to The Husband for taking care of the many undies cleanups.) I’d watch her like a hawk for the entire time we were home in the evenings, then in the 15 seconds I’d turn my back to get her toothbrush ready, she’d poop in her undies. So frustrating! I don’t want to jinx it, but I think we might have finally turned the corner this past weekend and she’s actually pooping in the potty instead of in her undies, and her wet accidents are almost nonexistent. The only diapers I’m buying are the ones for her to wear at night (she’s definitely not ready to switch to undies at night), so fingers crossed that continues.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Your firstborn always holds a very special place in your heart. She’s the one who initiates you into parenthood, giving you a nonstop ticket to an unforgettable journey.

The late-night feedings and endless diapers soon give way to toddler tantrums and preschool sassiness, but through it all, she reminds you to STOP. To have fun. To experience the world with all your senses and without any sort of self-imposed time limit. To be hopeful.

The Big Sis is exuberant and extremely social and a natural-born leader and constantly searches for logical fallacies, and while those qualities present many challenges as a parent, they are also the qualities that will take her far in life.

Happy 7th to my one and only “Big Sis.”

Little People for my little people

Monday, November 18, 2013

My parents, while junked-up kitchen counters and coffee tables were their specialty when I was a kid, did not keep any of my childhood toys or clothes. We lived in a 1,000-square-foot house with no attic and no basement and no garage, so it was a matter of logistics that there just wasn’t room for such storage. I have to admit that I’m a little jealous of people whose parents kept at least some of their toys to pass along, as I had literally none. At all.


When my mom died in April, my sister and I were very civil about how we divided up her personal belongings. When there was a dispute, we found a fair (and usually random) way to settle it, but I don’t think either of us left with hard feelings. Mostly it was jewelry we had to divide up, saving some for our own kids, too, but there were some other things that we had to divvy up too. It was a difficult process, but at least made easier that we didn’t really fight over anything.


When I was cleaning through my mom’s closet, I ran across a large plastic storage tote in the back. In it, there were just some old shower curtains and beach towels, until I got to the bottom. In the back corner of the storage tote, I found one of the original Little People (pictured here) from when I was a kid. It’s larger than the Little People of today, and had some sort of unknown stain on the head. While I didn’t have a specific memory of that particular Little People character, I knew that I had to have it.

I knew I would be willing to fight my sister over that one item — a representation of my childhood. A relic of my past that grows more distant each day.


Thankfully, my sister had no such attachment and I gained the Little People (Person?) without any objection.

The stain didn’t come off the head, but that doesn’t matter. To see my own little people playing with my Little People makes me smile. I don’t think my mom kept it on purpose — I think it just got lost in the shuffle of everything else they owned, but I was glad it made the journey through all those years.

And when it’s time to pack up my girls’ Little People, I’ll set a few of their favorites aside, as well as the one that brought my own childhood back to life. They might not appreciate the history of it like I do, but who knows, maybe they will.

Wordless Wednesday: My little birds

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


Saturday, April 6, 2013

Apologies for the silence: Two weeks ago my mom had a debilitating stroke and she died this past Tuesday, April 2. I’ve got so much to say about the situation, and so many things to work through, but I’m not quite sure I’m ready to do it yet — I think I need a little time and space from it all. Overall I’m doing well, though, and we’ll have her memorial service a week from today. In the meantime, I’m not sure how often I’ll post, but I will when I feel up to it.

Sherpa dad

Friday, November 16, 2012

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Wean to stop

Monday, October 8, 2012

Just as with the first time around with The Big Sis, the first month of breastfeeding The Little Sis was near-torture. Cracked, bleeding nipples because of a baby that didn’t quite have her latch right, combined with a baby who wanted to nurse constantly, did not make for an easy time of it. Frustrations mounted, and occasionally the thought of, “Should I just quit?” would enter my mind. However, I knew from the first experience that if I just gritted my teeth and kept up with it, we’d very likely get to a better place. Sure enough, after about a month each time, we got over the hump and it became a much more enjoyable activity.

I nursed The Big Sis for 14 months, and I had the same goal in mind for The Little Sis, assuming the stars aligned to make it happen. Most of the time, though, I tried not to look too far ahead and instead focused on those smaller milestones: 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, etc. Twelve months came and went and I could tell that The Little Sis was kind of over the whole nursing thing. By that point, we were down to just two sessions a day (first thing in the morning and at bedtime), and she would oblige for maybe five or ten minutes then wanted to move on to other, more interesting ventures. We probably could have weaned then and there, but I really wanted to nurse the girls the same amount of time, so we kept up the charade. I never forced her to nurse, of course, but I could tell she was ready to move on, and I just had to wait for me to catch up emotionally.

I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to stop. I wanted to go into it knowing it was my last nursing session so I could take the time and drink in the experience, but it seemed too forced to just schedule. On Saturday, The Little Sis didn’t get a great nap because we made a day trip to Cincinnati, then we went to my parents’ house that night for dinner and I put her to bed a touch late because of that. As a result, she was so super snuggly and open to nursing without distraction. She just wanted her milk and her sleep. As I sat there on the futon in her room rubbing my hand on her newly budding hair, room darkened prematurely as the impending winter steals minutes of daylight each day, I realized this was probably the best possible scenario for a final nursing session (ever).

And so I really took it in. Synching her breathing to mine. Looking into her ever-grateful eyes. Listening to the wave sounds on her white noise machine and relaxed. Reflecting on what a wonderful thing I’ve done for both girls, and how fortunate I was to be able to do this for them. Thinking of the sacrifices I made to make this happen, all the pumping sessions, all the overnight feedings in the early days.

When her eyes were drunk and tired, I picked her up and laid her in the crib. As usual, I told her, “Goodnight, baby. I love you.” I was not sad. I was fulfilled.

She turned 14 months old the next day. I made my ultimate goal. As with the first time around, breastfeeding is one of the hardest things I’ve done. But it’s also one of the things of which I’m most proud.

K is for kindergarten

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

I’m writing this as the mom of a kindergartener. Say what? Yes, a kindergartener! We’re still learning the ropes — all of us — but I think we’re adjusting well so far.

We had orientation on the 13th, two days before the first day of school, and we were able to go and meet The Big Sis’ teacher. She said she has been teacher for 25 years and has been at this school for 13 years, so I’m happy that she’s established and (presumably) knows what she’s doing. Unfortunately we were unable to visit her classroom that day, as the kindergarteners are in portables this year (nice ones — with hallways, water fountains, and bathroom and everything), and they weren’t quite ready on orientation night. But we were able to see her classroom when we took her for the first day of school, and The Big Sis was most excited to find out there are two guinea pigs, three turtles, and some hermit crabs in her room. One of them is named Sparkle, but so far I haven’t been able to get the other names out of her.

That’s one of the things I notice that is different so far — we have to ask very direct, pointed questions to get anything out of her now. Really, if I think about it, she was somewhat like that before. However, whereas before I could corroborate information with her teachers and fill in the blanks after talking with them daily, that’s not really the case now. (And it’s really not cool to call or e-mail the teacher to ask the classroom pets’ names.) Thankfully, The Husband and I are Master Interrogators and generally get out of her the information we are seeking, but it can be exhausting sometimes.

The Husband drives her to school, and they just started using the car drop-off line (parents are allowed to walk kindergarteners to class the first few days, but not after that). Yesterday her assistant teacher met the class in the cafeteria (as she did last week), as it’s a long walk outside to the portables, but starting today, they had to walk to their classes all by themselves. I know she did fine, but The Big Sis was kind of nervous about it. It’s actually a pretty straight shot, through the school, out the back door, and following a single paved sidewalk to her portable (first one) right by the playground, but I can imagine that to her it feels like a much longer walk. (Side note: We often had portables in school, as every school I’ve ever attended has undergone renovation while I was there. But we never had paved sidewalks leading us there! Instead, we had gravel sidewalks. That ruined your shoes. Bah!)

She has several “specials” throughout the week, including P.E., art, music, Chinese, library, and computer. I’m excited to have her teach me some Chinese. And who knows — maybe she’ll be able to explain to me the point of Twitter. 😉 The Big Sis will have homework soon, probably toward the end of the month or beginning of September. (They have ordered special folders that they’re waiting to receive.) I’m unclear on how often it will be (see also: trouble getting answers out of her), but she should have time to work on it at her after-school program.

Oh! The after-school program. We had two realistic options: 1). The program at her school. This was cheaper (by $10/week), didn’t require her to be transported anywhere off-site, and would allow her to get to know other kids at her school. However, their big drawback was that they are not open during any days school is not in session and we would need to arrange other care. Or 2). The program at a church two blocks from our house. This was more expensive and required them to pick her up and take her there, but they are open during most school holidays (except major ones like Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.), all breaks, and snow days. Chances are decent that The Husband or I could arrange to work from home on her holidays, breaks, and snow days, however, we didn’t want to be in a position of both of us needing to be at work and not having anyone to care for The Big Sis.

So, we ultimately chose the church program near our house, which also has the advantage of giving us priority for enrollment in their summer program, which is what I would like to look into for next summer. (Crazy to be thinking about next summer already when technically it’s still summer now.) At this after-school program, The Big Sis will get an afternoon snack, have a chance to at least begin her homework (which will be a huge help since our evening time is pretty limited, though we still plan to be involved and go over her homework with her ourselves, even if she’s already completed it), and will get time in either their gym or outdoor playground. On the days she’s there all day long (like this Friday for teacher professional development), I think they often try to do a field trip or something else different for the kids. There are kids from both her school (including a couple in her specific class) as well as from a nearby school (including one of her best friends from preschool), so hopefully it’ll be a good way to branch out socially for her.

We all have to get up earlier, and we’re just a week into it, of course, but so far we’re doing well on that front. At the moment, The Husband is dropping off and picking up The Big Sis, and I am in charge of dropping off and picking up The Little Sis. We’ll continue to do that and see how it works and tweak if needed, but so far that’s the arrangement that makes the most sense. There will be some times that we will need to change (like next week when The Husband is out of town — ACK!), but for the most part I think this should be our new routine. We have tossed around the idea of seeing about moving The Little Sis to the daycare portion of the church program (there have been a few things at our place that I’m currently not happy with, and I gather that their financials aren’t that stable), but we’re waiting a bit to see how we like it there. No need to rush a decision like that.

Congratulations, graduate!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

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On the move

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Little Sis can now easily sit herself up from a prone position. We got to watch her practice this over the weekend, and it was so fun to see her getting better and stronger with each attempt.

She also is pulling herself up on furniture up to her knees, and it’s just a matter of time before she pulls herself to her feet and starts cruising.

And last, but not least, she is so so so close to crawling. She goes immediately to her hands and knees and rocks back and forth quickly, and yesterday she took two little knee-steps before getting too tired. I would not be surprised if she takes off at any moment.


Wasn’t it not that long ago that The Big Sis was doing these very things? Sitting up…pulling herself up…crawling. It feels like it was just yesterday….

And yet, that can’t be true, as The Husband and I went on Friday to register The Big Sis for kindergarten. She will begin in less than four months. Kindergarten!

At this point I’m really not sad or bittersweet about this transition. (Though I reserve the right to change that at any point.) It’s hard to believe she’s growing up this fast, yes, but we’re embracing each new stage as it comes. My only thing is that there are so many unanswered questions at this point — will we let her ride the bus? where does she go when she gets to school? how will the car pickup line work at the end of the day? how much communication will we have with her teachers and peers? — but those are all questions that we’ll have answered before long, so I try not to linger on those things unnecessarily at this point. We go to the school on August 3 for an assessment so they’ll know where to place her, and I believe there’s also another Kindergarten Kickoff Day where we’ll get to go and tour the school and rooms, meet the teachers, and get even more information about this whole process.

And what’s unbelievable is the fact that before we know it, it’ll be The Little Sis’ turn….

Wordless Wednesday: The Little Mermaid, Big Sis-style

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

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Catching up

Friday, January 6, 2012

*The whole sleeping thing really came unglued with The Little Sis earlier this week, culminating in a night in which she didn’t get to sleep until 12:30 a.m. and then I had to wake her at 6:30 a.m. Not nearly enough sleep for most people, let alone a baby her age (and one that routinely sleeps 12 to 14 hours consecutively at night). At that point we were pretty much at the end of our rope, unable to solve the sleep mystery that had gripped our house. The next night, I made a big effort to get her to bed even earlier. We’d had a consistent bedtime of around 6:30 or 6:45 p.m.since I returned to work, but the craziness of the holidays made us a little lax in that area, and I’m wondering if that’s what caused the issue…the past two nights I got her to bed at 6:15 p.m. and 6:05 p.m., respectively, and she slept through without a peep until we woke her at 6:30 a.m. And right now, night three, I got her to bed at 6:15 p.m. and so far she’s been silent for five hours — quite a departure from how things were earlier in the week. Getting her to bed that early presents definite issues on weeknights, mainly getting dinner made on time since we usually don’t get home until between 5:30 and 5:45 p.m. and The Husband isn’t home until at least 6 p.m. and sometimes closer to 6:15 p.m., but I’d much rather deal with that than the sleep issue. I don’t know if the problem has been solved permanently, but I’m appreciating it for the moment.

*The Husband picked up The No-Cry Sleep Solution from the library on Thursday. So far it seems as though just having the book in the house has made her sleeping better. (Score!) Seriously, though, I plan to read through the book so I’m armed with some tips for the next sleep regression phase, whether that’s tomorrow night or in a few months. Side note, though: Why in the WORLD is there not an audio version of this book available at the library? Aren’t sleep-deprived parents a bit short on time to be reading such a book?

*I’m feeling very good about my milk supply at this point. I now have just over 1,400 ounces of milk in the freezer, and each day I’m able to bag up about four or five 4-oz. bags of milk beyond what The Little Sis gets each day. I know this could tank at any moment, but here’s hoping that’s not the case. For the record: I still hate pumping, but I must say it’s not nearly as bad with the pumping bra that I fashioned myself from an old too-tight bra that I should’ve gotten rid of long ago.

*The Little Sis is starting to get stronger with sitting in a tripod stance, though she’s still pretty wobbly when she tries to sit unsupported without putting her hands on the ground. Still, it’s neat to see her getting stronger with this every day. In other milestone news, she still hasn’t rolled from back to front yet, but I suspect that’s coming any day.

*The Little Sis will be five months old tomorrow. How is that even possible??

*The Big Sis started a drama class at the Y this week. She attended her first class on Thursday, and so far so good. It’s taught by the same woman who taught her ballet class over the summer, and we liked her a lot, so I’m optimistic that this will be a good thing. I’m not sure how regular a thing we can make it, though…the only time the class is offered is Thursdays at 4 p.m., and The Husband asked his boss if he can leave early that day for the eight weeks of the class. His boss has been flexible and agreed to the arrangement, but I doubt it could be a permanent thing. Still, I’m glad he’s able to work it out for her to attend this class, and we’ll see where this goes.

*The Big Sis has been doing AWESOME with her bedtimes over the past two or three weeks. I don’t know what clicked for her — I don’t know if she took pity on us for dealing with The Little Sis’ sleep disaster or what — but I’m so glad it clicked, whatever it was. Fingers are majorly crossed that this continues.

*The Big Sis will be five years old in three weeks. Three weeks! Five!

*Kindergarten registration starts next month. The Big Sis will begin kindergarten in just seven months. Oh my!


Feeling healing

Friday, April 1, 2011

I wasn’t sure what it would take to make the lingering pain of infertility melt away into nothing. To make the residual bitterness of a much-bigger-than-anticipated age gap disappear. To make the sting of all the money spent and time wasted go away. To make the heartache of a 12-week loss less heavy on my heart.

I thought that time might be the only elixir, but it turns out the magic potion was simply telling our daughter that her much-desired wish — and our long-awaited dream — of her becoming a sister is going to come true.

Her initial reaction was subdued because she wasn’t feeling well, but she has more than made up for it in the past 24 hours.

She has taken to calling her “my baby.” Can I hold my baby when she’s here? How long has my baby been in your belly? Can I try giving my baby a bottle before Daddy takes his turn? Should we give my baby a blanket in your tummy so she can stay nice and warm? I hope my baby looks like I do.

She absolutely loves listening to the kicks on the doppler. I hold the probe and she holds the main unit, and we lie side by side waiting for the next BLOOP! sound to come out. She always gasps and says excitedly, “There’s one!” I then tell her if it’s one I could feel, and she always says that she can feel them when she’s holding the doppler unit. She will be beside herself when she can feel them for real through my belly.

I told her that the baby’s hearing is developed enough now that she can hear some things and is starting to recognize our voices. She said, “So I can talk to her?” I said, “Yeah, if you want to. Is there anything you want to tell her?” She leaned over to my stomach, and gently said, “I love you, baby sister. I love you, I love you, I love you.” No prompting from me…just talking from an honest place from within.

That’s not just my heart melting. That’s also the struggle of the past two years evaporating bit by bit.

And the best is yet to come.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

We sit there at the dining room table, doing a Christmas craft project together. (A rarity in our house, if I’m being completely honest.)

I instruct her on what to do, she watches me for a bit, then she starts making her own.

I get back to concentrating on what I’m making and I’m greatly enjoying the conversation we’re having.

I look up to realize that she’s almost done with hers — completely on her own, no help needed.

How can they grow up right in front of you?

But better that way probably. Much better than waking up one day and realizing she’s all grown up. At least this way I’m still right there when it happens, seeing each of the smaller stages.

I love to see her grow up. I really do. Are there times I’d like to hit the pause button? Of course.

But when I see the lovely young lady she is turning into with every new experience, my heart swells.

Wordless Wednesday: This little girl ate my baby!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

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Letting go

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Last week at the park, Baby B insisted on holding onto the monkey bars by herself. I’ve seen her grip become stronger over the past year, so this was not something we hesitated to let her do, despite the height she was at. We just told her to let us know when she was ready to get down, and we hovered near her in case she lost her grip before she was able to tell us.

After doing this a few times, however, it wasn’t enough for our independent thrill-seeker. Soon she was asking us to take a step back and let her jump down by herself. She’s good at jumping in general — jumping down the last two or three steps on any set of stairs is her specialty — but this was a pretty big jump for her — her feet were maybe 3 1/2 feet off the ground. The Husband and I looked at each other, sharing our thoughts with each other without words but through facial expressions as Baby B insisted, “It’s okay. I won’t hurt myself.” We both were a bit terrified to let her jump down that far, but we also knew that it was good not only for her to let go — but for us to let go, as well. It was unlikely she would seriously hurt herself. She might lose her balance with the impact of hitting the ground and fall all the way on her bottom, but the actual danger level was pretty low, all things considered. And sometimes you need to fall on your bottom so you can learn how to pick yourself back up and try again — literally and figuratively.

So we let go. And then she let go. And she dropped to the ground, landing on her feet, becoming unbalanced, and then steadying herself with her hands. Success — for both her and Mom and Dad!

We definitely acknowledge and encourage Baby B’s independence, but there are still some steps forward that seem a little scary at first. But in most cases, we’d be holding her back more than necessary, so the right choice is generally to let her proceed (taking safety into consideration, of course), let her make her own mistakes, praise her efforts, let her learn her own lessons.

So much good comes from letting go.

Now we’re cookin’

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I truly think my passion for cooking and baking came from all the hours I spent helping my mom and my dad in the kitchen when I was growing up. For as long as I can remember, I was their special assistant when it came to making tasty meals or yummy desserts, and I loved the sense of importance I felt as I completed the tasks they assigned me — tasks that were essential to completing the dish.

So, while we have many important things to teach Baby B as she grows up, I think one of the most important is to teach her how to be competent in the kitchen, and to show her that both mommies and daddies can be good at cooking and baking. I just really don’t want her to turn into one of those girls who is so proud of the fact that, “Yeah, I don’t cook.” That’s not to say that she has to love it — certainly not everyone does — but I want to make sure she’s armed with the skills necessary to do it. So every chance we have, we offer her the opportunity to be our helper in the kitchen, and we assign her tasks that range from something to just keep her busy to something that’s crucial to the outcome of the dish, depending on what we’re making. I love that she loves to help us, and I just hope that excitement continues.


Monday, April 19, 2010

There are times in raising a child where you can see them grow up right in front of your eyes. Many of those moments are the obvious milestones that everyone expects — learning to crawl, taking those first steps, saying those first words.

But there are other times that sneak-attack you and you can do nothing but stand there and watch it unfold in front of you, a bit stunned: Asking to pour the milk for the first time. Using the big-girl swings. Insisting she can go into the bathroom stall all by herself while you stand guard outside the door.

And, apparently, when she gets off the bumper cars for probably the third time and excitedly — and confidently — leaves the exit and immediately makes a beeline for the entrance to ride again, without giving a second glance up at Mom or Dad to go with her and get her settled in the car. She can do it all by herself, and you feel such pride that she’s independent enough to achieve this milestone that you’ll never see in any parenting books.

That was our experience on Saturday when we took Baby B to Kings Island amusement park for the first time. I’ve gone there nearly every year since I was born, though we hadn’t been since before I was pregnant with Baby B. However, this year she was tall enough to ride a lot of the kids’ rides (many of them have a 36-inch minimum), so we decided to take advantage of the pleasant weather and lesser crowds and go early in the season. She’s always been a thrill seeker, so we suspected she would like the park, and we were so amused when our suspicions were confirmed and she had a BLAST.

Knowing our days of staying at the park from open (10 a.m.) until close (10 p.m.) were a thing of the past with a young child, we left our house a little after 10 a.m. and drove the 2 hours to Kings Island, just north of Cincinnati. Instead of paying approximately $72 per person for amusement park food for lunch, we decided to stop for lunch at a restaurant nearby (much more reasonably priced), then arrived at Kings Island at 1:30 p.m. We decided we’d love to stay long enough to see the nightly fireworks at 10 p.m., but mostly we just wanted to stay as long as Baby B wanted to. We certainly weren’t going to insist we stay until close if she was a tired, cranky mess. Playing it by ear was the order of the day.

The weather was perfect: blue skies, an abundance of sun, and temps in the low 60s. We let Baby B take in the sights and sounds when we walked into the park, where you’re greeted by a huge fountain down the middle and a 1/3 scale replica of the Eiffel Tower, then we headed to the kids’ section, themed as Planet Snoopy. Some rides she was tall enough to ride by herself, like the swings, while other rides she was tall enough to ride but needed an adult to ride with her. After the tame swings, we went to the Kite-Eating Tree, a free-fall ride for kids that actually tickled my tummy as we rode it. Baby B LOVED it! She wasn’t scared of the height of the ride, and every time the ride would thrust us down, she would break out into giggles that were quite contagious and would declare, “That tickles by belly!”

Next up was the little kid roller coaster, which I insisted on riding with her since I wanted to share the first roller coaster experience with her. After this, she was begging to go on the ADULT roller coasters — and I really think she would have loved them! She was too short for all of the adult coasters, and the kids area has a bigger wooden coaster (the Beastie, for those who know Kings Island, though it’s the Woodstock Express now) that I thought she was tall enough to ride, but it requires a height of 40 inches, so she just barely wasn’t tall enough for that. Next year. I really think she would have ridden it repeatedly if given the chance.

Anyway, at this point, I took off to go ride Firehawk, the coaster that suspends you horizontally so it’s like you’re flying, since I’d never ridden that one before and really wanted to. I said if I rode nothing else myself that day, that’s all I wanted, so I escaped for an hour and a half to wait for that. (It was awesome! So worth it!) Baby B and The Husband had a great time together in the kids’ area, and once I joined them again, we had some blue ice cream (used to be Smurf ice cream back when the kids’ area was Hanna-Barbera themed, but it’s just called blue ice cream now). After that, The Husband took off to ride another new (to us) coaster, Diamondback, and the first thing Baby B and I did was take the elevator to the top of the Eiffel Tower. She thought that was exciting, everything from the elevator ride up and down, to running circles around the observational deck. It was quite windy up there (and I’m not so great with heights and the fact that if you stand still you can feel the tower moving slightly), so I wasn’t disappointed when Baby B was ready to go back down after probably 5 minutes up there. We headed over to the Grand Carousel next, then went back to the kids’ coaster when The Husband met up with us again.

One of the adult rides that Baby B was tall enough for was the Scrambler, the one that goes in circles so that everyone is squished into the person sitting on the outside. We decided to do that one before (as opposed to after) dinner, just in case food and rides didn’t mix for Baby B, and it was another that Baby B loved. Again she kept laughing about how much her tummy tickled (me too!). Overall it’s a pretty mild ride for an adult, but I imagine its effects are much greater on a kid, and she’s a tough one to have enjoyed it so much.

We enjoyed a dinner of Skyline hot dogs and fries, then shared a funnel cake. (Usually I like to get the funnel cake to eat during fireworks, but the sun was going down and it was started to get colder out, so I figured it’d be more enjoyable after dinner.) Oh, and speaking of the cold, score some Mom Points for me: I figured Baby B’s hands would get cold at the end of the night, so I brought a pair of her gloves along with us, and I’m so glad I did. Next time I need to think to bring my own gloves, though!

After devouring the funnel cake, we headed back to Planet Snoopy, where we thought we’d let Baby B try out the bumper cars. The first time doing it, she wasn’t quite sure what to do (despite our instructions beforehand), so I was a bit surprised when she came off the ride saying, “I loved it!” and wanting to ride again. And again. And again. All told, I bet she rode it ten times, as by this point it was 9 p.m. and the kids’ area had cleared out and there wasn’t a line at all, so she could get off and right back on. The more she rode it, the more she adored it. CRASH! BOOM! and the giggles were released. I think she also liked it because it was the only ride she could control, unlike all of the other kids’ rides that just run on a track controlled by the ride operators. To watch her ride the bumper cars repeatedly just brought me so much joy and, as cheesy as it sounds, made my heart smile. I don’t feel sadness at the fact that she’s growing up right in front of my eyes, but instead feel a sense of gratitude that I get to witness these important moments in her life.

We ended the night with a helicopter ride (kids’ ride, not real) and then watched the fireworks display at 10 p.m. Baby B succumbed to The Husband’s arms on the walk to the car, and she was fast asleep within ten minutes in the car. All told, we spent 8 1/2 hours at the park, and Baby B behaved wonderfully. She listened to us. She ate well. She did not misbehave at all. She briefly protested when we finally left the bumper cars (think that was her favorite?), but we resolved it within seconds and moved along to the next thing with no issue.

I asked Baby B on our last ride together what her favorite thing was that day. With both satisfaction and passion, she exclaimed: “EVERYFING!”

I was quite amused. 🙂

Have child, will send away for travel

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

About a year ago, The Father-in-Law mentioned that as soon as Baby B was potty trained at night, he would love for us to send her up to their house to visit without us so they could spend a week with her. (As background, we live in Kentucky, and they are in Connecticut, so this is a pretty big trip for her.)

With no  night accidents in more than four months, it looks like that time has come.

So The Husband called his dad over the weekend to let him know that we’re ready to begin planning this adventure for Baby B, and he was so excited to hear this. He said he’s going to talk to other members of the family who might want to come and see her, and we can figure out a date from there. July doesn’t work well for us, but we said we were open to June or August, and I think he’s leaning toward August since the water will be warmer if they go to a beach.

The logistics of getting her up to Connecticut are a bit challenging, but we’re figuring it out as we go along. Flying up would be ideal, but the cost of that is not so ideal. Even if only one of us travels with her each way, it’s still $1,200 just to do that. So as of right now, I think we’re looking at driving up to around Scranton (about 10 1/2 hours) on a Friday, spending the night there, then meeting The Father-in-Law somewhere in that area probably around late morning, or whenever he gets there after his 2 1/2-hour drive. (I would meet closer to us, but this just works out the best logistically for a variety of boring reasons I won’t go into.) She would stay with them for the week, and the following Friday we would drive up again to Scranton, spend the night there, and again make the switch on Saturday morning after The Father-in-Law drives down to meet us.

So, it involves a lot of time in the car for us — and probably traveling 10 1/2 hours up there by myself with her since it’s not likely The Husband can take off two Fridays in a row and he’ll probably want to be there to pick her up (I’m off Fridays, so that’s not a problem) — but it’s worth it to us to avoid paying $1,200 for airfare. At most we’ll have gas, hotel costs for two nights, and food on the road, which shouldn’t come anywhere near the cost to fly. And after our July road trip to South Florida (probably 15+ hours), driving to Scranton will feel like a breeze.

Although I think The Husband is a bit sad at this point at the thought of a week without Baby B, I’m very excited that she’s going to get to do this. My grandparents were always much older and I don’t remember ever spending more than two nights with them alone without my parents (and that was just one time when my parents went out of town), so I’m very glad she’s going to have this chance. Yeah, it’ll be strange to still be in our house and going about our normal routines without her there, but I think it’ll be good for everyone.

In the hair and now

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Last year, when we got Baby B’s hair cut for the first (and then second) time, we had them fashion it in a cute above-the-chin bob. I think the hairstyle suited her well, and it sort of separated her from all the other girls her age who have hair down to their shoulder blades.

A couple months after the last cut, I kept saying we were going to take her to get it cut again, as we had before, but things got busy, then we got into a long spell of at least one of us being sick, and we never did it.

Fast-forward to now, when we get comments all the time about how long her hair is. (Which, really, it isn’t that long. It comes a little below the tops of her shoulders. But it’s a lot longer than this time last year.) It wasn’t really intentional to let her hair grow out; it’s not really something I ever envisioned doing. But somewhere along the way, she started having opinions about her appearance — strong opinions — and one of those is that she wants to let her hair grow.

And, you know, why not, if that’s what she wants? There are so many things in her life that Mom and Dad control, so why not let her have something like this? It’s not necessarily what I would choose for her, but as a parent I have to accept that she’s going to make choices for herself that veer from what I might have decided. And that’s okay.

So for now we’re going with long hair. Secretly, I’m kind of glad about her choice because it’s a nice reminder of how far she’s come on the hair front, seeing as she was bald for quite a while and didn’t have her first haircut until after age 2. We didn’t previously have such choices, so I appreciate that we’re able to now.

Toward maturity

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I was struck the other day by what a difference a year can make.

Last fall/winter, we were struggling with a couple of difficult toddler independence issues, mostly with getting into her car seat and putting on her coat. Eventually, it just became part of our normal routine; something we expected to happen, awful as it was.

Then I realized the other day that we haven’t had a battle for the car seat in a LONG time. She willfully climbs right in and can even almost strap herself in the entire way. Leaving daycare is a much more enjoyable experience now that it doesn’t involve her avoiding the car seat, me crying and pleading, and then me forcefully putting her in there. I open the door for her, she climbs in and does as much of the strapping in as she can, I finish the job for her, and the whole time we’re pleasantly talking about what kind of a day she had at school and how she can help when making dinner that night.

We finally solved the coat issues last year when we taught her how to put her coat on by herself, but I was a little afraid that once coat season arrived this year, she would begin to resist it again. But so far my fear has been unfounded, as she’s usually quite eager to put on her coat either before leaving the house or leaving daycare. And she even taught herself an additional way to put on her coat, putting the hood on her head and then putting her arms in the sleeves of the coat.

Both of those things got me thinking about how far we’ve come in just a year’s time as we’ve seen her mature. Of course, mature is a relative term when you use it in reference to a two-year-old and of course she’s not a perfect angel all the time, but the fact is there: she is maturing.

She’s maturing in how she deals with difficult situations.

She’s maturing in the kinds of questions she asks.

She’s maturing in how she processes information.

She’s maturing in the decisions she makes.

I love seeing the little girl she is becoming, right before my very eyes.

Talk the talk

Monday, August 10, 2009

I loved Baby B’s first smile and first giggle.

I loved when Baby B first learned to sit up all by herself.

I loved the crawling stage.

I loved when pieces of her personality were slowly revealed to us.

Despite the many warnings I received about it, I even loved the walking stage.

But, I think most of all, I love the talking stage the best…more specifically, the conversation stage.

To see Baby B get our jokes.

To hear her make her own jokes.

To listen to the pieces of imagination that spill out of her mouth and surprise us. Dazzle us.

To realize just how much she knows and how much we’ve taught her, often without even realizing it.

I know it’s not always going to be like this. While I hope that Baby B will always feel comfortable coming to talk to me and The Husband, I know there will come a time in her life when we’re the lame parents and she would rather eat dirt than have a meaningful conversation with us. A time in her life when she would rather talk to her friends because she feels like they’re the only ones who understand her, not fully realizing that her own parents were once young and now understand things more than she knows.

So for now I’ll cherish these great, innocent moments chatting with her, when she’s so eager to tell me about her day on the way home from daycare. When she cracks herself up because she played a trick on The Husband. When she ever doesn’t grow tired asking me what I’m doing or if I need help.

This is such a wonderful time, and I look forward to the next surprises she has in store for us.

Raise your hand if you’re sure

Monday, June 29, 2009

On Saturday morning, we went to our local independent bookstore for a performance of a local children’s band because we thought it would be something Baby B would like.

Boy were we right!

She loved it. We sat on the floor and she stood a few feet in front of us dancing her little bottom off! She would clap along with the songs (on beat, even!) and would clap in appreciation after each song. Whenever the musician would ask the audience a question (“Who here likes peanut butter?”), she would raise her hand without hesitation — and without looking back at us first. That was the best part to see — her making these decisions on her own, without our prompting her.

This is going to sound corny, but it nearly brought me to tears (in a good way); I was just so proud of her for immersing herself in it and not looking to us for direction on what to do or what to think. Because isn’t that the ultimate goal of all this? Getting to the point that (eventually) your child grows up and makes their own decisions about things. Of course we’re a long way from the end goal, but I love to see these steps toward true independence along the way.

Show me!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Baby B was going through a separation anxiety thing a couple weeks ago at daycare where she didn’t want The Husband to leave when he dropped her off. He would always do what you “should” — say goodbye, but don’t draw it out, never sneaking out, etc. But she still had issues.

That is, until he started saying, “It’s time to show me out, Baby B!” She LOVES doing this. She gets a big smile on her face, holds his hand and walks him to the door, opens it, gives him a big hug and kiss, and then shuts the door for him and he leaves with no problems.

It’s been so successful that she’s started doing it at bedtime, too ( so that might be another idea for those of you with kids out of the crib who don’t want you to leave at bedtime). Baby B is so happy to show us out that she’ll do everything I listed above, then go right to her bed and tuck herself in (we watch her on the video monitor) or play with her baby dolls sitting on the futon for a few minutes before deciding to lie down and go to sleep.

I think it really plays to her desire to be independent and self-sufficient and gives her some control over the situation. We haven’t had separation issues at daycare since she started doing this, and bedtimes are so easy with this approach. (They weren’t hard before, other than her asking a couple times for us to stay [which we didn’t give in on], but this has made them even easier.)

I think it’s so sweet to see her do this. Every time she grabs my hand and walks me to the door after I said, “Baby B, show me out,” I have visions of taking her to school for her first day of kindergarten, with her eager to give me a kiss so she can rush to join those kids who will become her new friends. I know that so many of the things we’re doing now are preparing her for situations she’ll encounter in the future, and it’s times like these when I can’t help but think we’re doing a good job.

Crib notes

Monday, May 25, 2009

The end of an era is upon us. The end of the crib era (at least for Baby B).

Since she had been doing so well sleeping on the futon with apparently no desire to sleep in the crib since making the switch a month or so ago, we decided to try to take the crib out of her room this weekend. If she wasn’t cool with it, we’d leave it there.

I thought it would be important to have Baby B help us take down the crib so it wasn’t too drastic of a change. (Toddlers aren’t so big on the whole change thing, that much I know, if nothing else.) We let her get in there one last time, jumping up and down holding onto the front rail like she used to do with The Husband right before laying down. We took off the front rail and let her lie in it like a toddler bed (it does convert to a toddler bed and then a full-size bed, but for a variety of reasons, we decided not to do that), then put the mattress on the floor and let her lay on that.

A couple times in the process, she was unsure of what we were doing, despite being excited at first when we asked her if she wanted the crib out of her room. But she wasn’t having a freakout about it or anything, so we continued the process and explained things to her along the way. I vacuumed the room once the crib was down, and then we enlisted Baby B’s help again to move the futon to a slightly different spot in the room, closer to where the crib was. She was more than happy to jump up on the futon once it was in place to make sure all was well.

No problems at all with the first night in the cribless room. I really don’t feel sad or bittersweet about this change at all, either. Yes, she’s growing up — and very fast — but with each passing day, I can see success in my job as a parent. My duty is to prepare her for life as an independent, self-sufficient, kind, caring, well-adjusted young woman, and so far we’ve got a good beginning.

Last time in the crib:
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Where’s the crib?
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Futon in place:
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Futon frenzy

Thursday, April 30, 2009

A lot of times when you hear a parent say about their child, “Oh, she’s not ready for that,” it really means: “I’m not ready for that!”

I will fully admit that’s how I feel about the transition to the toddler bed. If it were up to me, she would stay in the confines of the crib until she physically outgrew it, as I cringe thinking about the battles we have ahead with keeping her in her bed, preventing her from playing when she should be sleeping, etc. Being contained in the crib is a very good thing at this adventurous age.


Sometimes your child starts to let you know that they may be ready for something, and it’s probably best to listen to those cues as you’re often within a good window of opportunity for change.

And that may be the case with Baby B and transitioning from her crib.

In addition to her crib, we’ve also got a futon (in the bed position) in her room, which we kept there as our only option for guests to sleep on. It’s also served as a great place for us to all sit together for bedtime stories and songs. Part of her bedtime routine has been lying on the futon with The Husband after I’ve left the room, which they’d been doing for a few minutes before she goes into her crib.

But on Sunday night, she wanted nothing to do with the crib and asked to lay down on the futon  (which she says, “FYOO-tawn) again. The Husband laid down with her and she ended up falling asleep there (so did he for about 15 minutes!), but he put her back in the crib when he left the room. This after napping with me on the futon that afternoon following a morning hike. If you know anything about Baby B, it’s that she does NOT nap with us, as she thinks it’s playtime if we’re around. But she and I napped for more than two hours together. (Didn’t hurt that the hike wore her out.)

So on Monday night, she resisted going to bed, and it was getting late enough — almost 10 p.m. — that she needed to get to sleep, no matter how. I went in to check on her and said, “Do you need something?” and she told me that she wanted to sleep on the FYOO-tawn. What the heck, I thought. Let’s give this a try and see how it goes, telling myself that I’d give her until 10:30.

I got her set up on the futon with her blankets and her babies and told her to lay down, close her eyes, and go to sleep, and I’d come in and check on her in a few minutes. I left the room and went to watch her on the video monitor (**another post coming soon on the video monitor**) to see what she’d do. I figured she’d be up immediately, but she stayed laying down for a few minutes before trying to get up, staying on the futon playing with her babies. I went in again to get her tucked in, told her to lay down and go to sleep and I’d come in and check on her again. I did have to check on her one more time, but after that, she was asleep for the night and didn’t wake up until The Husband got her up the next morning. I was impressed.

So on Tuesday night, The Husband was in charge of bedtime since I was out for the evening. I told him he could let her sleep on the futon if that’s what she wanted, but if she preferred the crib, then that was fine too. I don’t want to push this. Sure enough, she wanted to sleep on the futon, and she got to sleep fairly quickly and again stayed there all night — and the same thing happened last night too. He set up pillows strategically around the bed in case she rolled, and that seemed to help keep her from falling off the bed.

So now this, of course, raises questions regarding whether we should go ahead and convert her crib to a toddler bed, get a twin bed for her room (since eventually I’d like to move the futon into our spare bedroom for mythical child #2), or just continue with the futon thing a little while longer to see how it goes. For this moment, we’re going with option #3. It sounds funny to say that she’s sleeping on a futon, but is it really that much different from a real bed? Not really. And one advantage is that it’s low to the ground, so if she does roll off, she shouldn’t get hurt, or at least not too badly. Ideally I would love to have her out of the crib before mythical child #2 comes along in the unknown future, but I’m not planning to impose such a deadline if Baby B truly needs the crib longer.

It’s just funny because it’s not something I expected to be thinking about for a while, and certainly not in this way. I’m still not sure I’m ready for her to have the freedom of a real bed, but at some point you have to trust when your kids indicate they’re ready for something and hope you’ve done a good job to prepare them.

Of course, it’s possible that this week has been a fluke and a couple days from now, she’ll want nothing to do with the futon (just as she’s shifted to not much interest in using the potty since getting her cast off), but we’ll find out before long. I really believe in knowing your kids and looking to them for signs when they’re ready for something. That’s not to say that she leads the way in our parenting — we’re the bosses in our house, and that’s final — but it’s more that we look to her for her readiness and adjust our goals and actions accordingly. Seems to have worked well for us so far.

Wordless Wednesday: The first tricycle ride

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

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Wordless Wednesday: Make a wish

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

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Wordless Wednesday: Never knew love like this before

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Click on the thumbnail to view the slideshow:
View this montage created at One True Media
Age 1

They’re cousins. Identical cousins.

Monday, January 5, 2009

I guess it’s a good thing one of my New Year’s resolutions wasn’t to make a post every day. We just had a busy weekend and something had to be put on the back burner, and this was it. Also, I was just spending so much time with Baby B (yay!) that I felt like I needed a break from writing about her, too. So now it’s back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Probably the most fun part of the weekend was that my sister and her family were passing through the state and stopped here for a couple of days, and we got to see them on Sunday night. Baby B has two cousins, one on The Husband’s side (that she’s met once, a year ago) and one on my side, who she had never met. Cousin S is almost exactly two years older than Baby B, and instantly they took to chasing each other around the house, giggling, and squealing. It was so much fun to watch, as it looked like they were long-lost sisters, but it also made me sad at the same time.

See, my sister and her family live a 14-hour drive away, and I suspect they’ll never move back here ever again. Her husband seems to be most concerned with how much money he makes (which, to a degree, I can’t blame him) than being close to family, and he always complains about jobs around here not paying much, not really seeming to take into account that the cost of living is also less here. Anyway, chances are very slim that they would ever come back here.

So it makes me sad to know that Baby B will grow up without any cousins nearby (her other cousin lives about a 17-hour drive away). I didn’t get to grow up with any cousins, either. My parents took ten years to have me, and my dad’s only sister is about 8 years older than my dad, so nearly all of my cousins on that side are old enough to be my parents. Besides which, the closest any of them lived was 2 1/2 hours away, in the country. Not real easy access. On my mom’s side, her only sister had two kids, and both cousins were within five years of us (both older), but they also lived more than two hours away, so we saw them maybe once or twice a year.

So it’s a completely foreign concept to hear about people who hung out with their cousins, went to school with them, and considered them good friends. I feel like I missed out on that, so it’s unfortunate that Baby B is going to miss that, as well. I also wish that both my sister and my sister-in-law would involve us more with their lives with e-mail updates and pictures (like we do for our far-away families re: Baby B), but they’re both terrible about doing that, so it makes me feel even more out of the loop. (Believe me, I’ve mentioned this several times.) It’s obviously not the end of the world, but when you see these cousins playing together and just having the best time, it makes you wonder how much more fun things could be if this were a regular occurrence.

Wordless Wednesday rewind: Our year in a nutshell

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

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No hate for ’08

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Boy, and I thought 2007 — the year Baby B was born — was a fantastic one, but it was boring compared to 2008 for us! 😉 We had so many adventures throughout the year, and I have to wonder how we can top ourselves next year!

We began the year visiting the in-laws in Connecticut for New Year’s weekend, where Baby B got to spend time with her grandparents and meet her aunt and cousin for the first time. January also marked Baby B’s first birthday, which we celebrated with my parents and a few close friends. She had her surgery for ear tubes in mid-February, and that was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. She has had zero ear infections in the 10+ months since the surgery. Much relief for everyone!

March was a pretty laid-back month, but she was certainly on the march for April, when she started walking full-time at 14 months old. Everyone warned us that we’d hate once she became that mobile, but I can honestly say we’ve loved it. Yes, it forces us to be more active, but is that really such a bad thing?! April treated us with gorgeous spring weather, and we were able to get out of the house to enjoy the outdoors (and all the local parks) much more often. Baby B was also treated to her first ice cream cone on one of our outings that month.

In May, Baby B surprised me with breakfast in bed for Mother’s Day, and we traveled to attend a family reunion of my mom’s family. For Memorial Day, we packed up and flew to Boston to visit with Serenity and her little Baby O, and we also took in the children’s museum, the swan boats, and a nearby beach (Baby B’s first time at a beach!) with them while in the area.

With June came a day trip to the zoo in Cincinnati and my first real race, a 3K. In July, we went downtown to enjoy our city’s Fourth of July festival and parade, and we went back downtown later than night for Baby B to experience her first fireworks display. We also attended our local fair, and even though Baby B wasn’t big enough for most of the rides, she still enjoyed looking at all the fair had to offer. In mid- to late July, we attended two weeks of swimming lessons, then took a daytrip to Gatlinburg so The Husband and I could celebrate our 3rd wedding anniversary. At the end of the month, we headed back to Cincinnati to go to the aquarium, which we all loved.

In August, I had my second race, a 5K through downtown. The previous month, I had decided to train for the half-marathon, so my training continued through the late summer and early fall months. In the middle of August, we took a trip to Cincinnati (yes, again) to go to the children’s museum there, our second children’s museum of the year. We hit our third children’s museum when we went to Milwaukee to visit friends over Labor Day weekend, and we also visited the Milwaukee Zoo and observed the Harley anniversary festivities along the lakefront while we were there.

September brought us the annual dog swim at one of our local pools — always a riot to watch! We enjoyed the continued warm weather by visiting parks as often as we could, and at the end of the month, The Husband ran in his first race, the 5K Race for the Cure. After the race, we stayed downtown and visited our city’s children’s museum (#4 of the year), which isn’t as fancy as some of the others we’ve been to, but it still kept Baby B entertained.

In early October, we went to not just one but two pumpkin farms and enjoyed corn mazes, big slides, petting zoos, and fresh-picked apples among other things. We met a girl from one of my parenting boards, her husband, and their son, Luca (who is about a month younger than Baby B), when they were traveling through our parts. It was so much fun to see them playing together! That weekend, The Husband and I went on our first overnight trip without Baby B, going to see Cirque du Soleil and enjoying a nice grown-up dinner in Cincinnati. In the middle of October, we drove two hours for an overnight trip to my parents’ hometown for my third official race, a 10K. We painted pumpkins for Halloween, and Baby B dressed up as Raggedy Andy for her daycare Halloween party.

We went to Indianapolis during the first weekend in November so I could run my half-marathon, which I did significantly under my goal time. The race could not have gone much better than it did, and this ranks as one of my biggest life accomplishments at this point. While in Indianapolis, we visited their children’s museum (#5 for the year) twice, as it’s supposedly the largest in the world.

We played in leaf piles in November, and we watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade together as a family before joining my parents for Thanksgiving dinner. I have so much to be thankful for!

Just because the year was winding down in December doesn’t mean that we were! We made Christmas cookies with Chef Baby B, and visited with Santa. We decorated the Christmas tree together, enjoyed Baby B’s performance of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer at the daycare party, and went to a local drive-through lights display. And how could we forget a wonderful Christmas at the end of all that?!

And that’s just a brief summary of our year’s activities. (Whew! No wonder I feel so tired!) That’s not even getting into all the other changes in Baby B over the past year, including an even more developed (and silly) personality and the arrival of HAIR (finally)! She’s gone from being able to say one word to being able to converse with us quite well. Of course, we’ve also seen the introduction of super-picky eating and toddler tantrums, but you take the bad with the good, and I wouldn’t trade all the good we have for anything.

So after a year like that, how could we possibly have more fun next year? I don’t quite know the answer yet, but I can promise we’re sure going to try hard!

Our little seagull

Thursday, December 4, 2008

I swear, knowing what I know now, if I could go back to college and take classes in child psychology, I totally would. It didn’t seem particularly useful at the time, but boy would they come in handy now! I’m definitely learning to use Baby B’s possessiveness to my advantage, though.

If you’ve seen Finding Nemo, then you know what I mean when I say she’s like the seagulls in the movie: “Mine? Mine! Mine? Mine!” Everything is hers, whether it’s really hers or not. But we’re starting to use this to our advantage.

It’s pretty simple, really. These are the facts: Baby B won’t let me put on her coat. Baby B hates it when someone has something of hers. Solution? Pretend to put her coat on one of her daycare friends, and she runs over saying, “Mine! Mine!” with her arms stretched out, ready for the coat to be put on without a fight. She won’t get in her booster seat for breakfast? Solution: Try to sit in the chair myself, which again has her running over quickly, asking to be placed in the seat.

It’s also one of our biggest weapons in the daily dinner battle. She seems to eat best whenever we try to take things from her plate and pretend to eat them ourselves. We feign surprise and disappointment that she would dare take the food back from us, and she feels like she’s won that little battle.

Meanwhile, we win the war.

Defeated heroes

Sunday, November 23, 2008

You know that scene from Superman 2 when Clark Kent is beaten up by the man in the bar after he’s given up his superpowers to be with Lois Lane? He’s first hit on the back and falls forward through a pane of glass, landing on the floor.  He immediately recognizes his vulnerability, then gets up, more determined than ever to face his attacker, but then is punched a couple more times and lands again on the floor. He’s beaten, he’s bloodied, and you see his previously unknown weakness that befalls all mortals. That’s about how I feel right now.

I should first say that Baby B is a fantastic, silly, fun toddler 98% of the time. And The Husband is a wonderful, hands-on, loving, devoted father 98% of the time. But when I’m dealing with that other 2% from both of them — especially at the same time — it leaves me feeling not quite sure how to deal with it.

I’ve felt for quite a while like I’ve had this whole mom thing figured out; I’ve felt like an old pro pretty much since we got past that newborn fog after the first 6 or 8 weeks of her life. Sure, issues come up that I don’t know how to deal with at first, but we figure them out, make our decisions, move on, and learn our lessons from how well or poorly things turned out. But recently I’ve had the feeling like I’ve taken on the cloak of Supermom, and when something goes wrong, everything comes crashing down. I started feeling this way in Indianapolis with a simple thing: We accidentally left Baby B’s bib at a restaurant, and I felt like it was my fault because I’m always the one who remembers to check for things like that. But at the same time, I felt like it shouldn’t always be left up to me to check. Or it surfaces in instances when, come Monday morning, I find that I forgot to wash Baby B’s daycare blanket that we have to bring home on Fridays, and I get frustrated both because it didn’t get done and because I hate that I’m the one who always has to remember to do things like that.

The Husband is fantastic at helping out when I ask for help. If I ask him to fold the laundry, he’ll fold the laundry. If I ask him to pack Baby B’s daycare bag and let him know what to include, he’ll pack the bag. But I’m becoming increasingly frustrated that he rarely takes the initiative to do things like that on his own. From what I can see with other families, this seems to be a general male trait, so maybe I’m ridiculous or naive for thinking things can be different, but I hate feeling like I have to be the only one to remember to do so many of the things that help our days run smoothly. I’ve brought this up with The Husband (several times, in fact), and he’s said he hesitates to take the initiative because he’s afraid I’m going to criticize how he does it, which is a valid point. I’ve asked him to put away the laundry, but then got irritated that he didn’t put the sleepers back in the correct drawer, on top of the other sleepers. So, okay, I’ll give him that, and that’s something I’m trying to work on.

I decided that I need to communicate better, let him know the kinds of things that I do without him even realizing it (because how else is he going to know if I don’t tell him?), let him know how I do those things, then let him figure out the best way for him to do them.  But then he’ll wash and fold one load of laundry, act like he hung the moon, then things go back to how they were, with Supermom coming to the rescue yet again.

The big problem is that the man — like many, many men — does. not. listen. Apparently he thinks that I talk just to hear my own voice and not to communicate vital information. So he wants me to let him know the things I do around the house so he can help out more with those daily Supermom things that I take care of, yet he doesn’t listen to half of what I say? How is that supposed to work? I can talk until I lose my voice, but if he’s not listening, nothing is going to change. I can’t win. I’m currently waiting to get an address from him. For his college friends. To send a baby gift to them. That I bought. And wrapped. And wrote the card for. Yeah, I’ve asked for that address at least three times now. Just in the past two days. And you know what that starts to make me feel like? Nagging Wife. And I absolutely hate feeling like Nagging Wife. I hate being put in that position. I have one child; I have no desire to treat my husband like one, too. We’re partners; we’re equals. But I feel like we lose a bit of that when I’m forced to remind him several times, which no matter how kindly I do it, seems to be perceived as nagging by him (not just him; I think most men are like this).

So while I think I have room to improve in this area, I think he does too, and I don’t know how to communicate that any better without seeming like I’m unappreciative of what he does do around here for me and Baby B. But I can’t go on being like Supermom all the time. It’s fine when everything is going well (which it does most of the time, thankfully). But as soon as one link comes out of the chain, the whole things falls apart and I feels incredibly incompetent.

And speaking of feeling incredibly incompetent, all this comes along with a dose of Ornery Toddler. We’ve dealt with typical difficult toddler behavior for a while now, but this weekend Baby B launched things into a completely new realm. At first I thought it was just because she hadn’t napped at daycare on Friday, but she continued the behavior on Saturday afternoon/evening (thankfully not while we were shopping that morning), and for a good part of Sunday. She freaks out disproportionately to whatever is currently frustrating her. This morning it was because we made her come inside from the garage because it was too cold out there. Before dinner it was because we made her stop watching baby videos on YouTube even though she’d been watching them with The Husband for 15 minutes. She cries, she throws herself down, and she’s 100% inconsolable, sometimes for a good half-hour. I’ve got a lot of tricks up my sleeve that have worked in the past, but none of them work when she’s throwing a tantrum of this magnitude. Doing something funny? Don’t think so. Distracting her? Good luck. Ignoring her? She doesn’t even notice.

I can tolerate it for so long, but then something in me snaps and I just have to leave the room immediately because I can’t deal with it. I hate myself during these times because as I’m leaving the room, I’ll say things, not really to anyone in particular, like, “She’s such a brat.” I don’t want to have thoughts like that, let alone say them outloud, and certainly not where Baby B can hear me. And as I mentioned before, she seems to be going through an anti-mom phase right now, and while I know she’s not at the point where she is doing this on purpose to be hurtful to me (there’s plenty of time for that when she’s a teenager), it still comes across as hurtful and it’s hard to accept that she’s acting like that.

This evening I had the pleasure of dealing with all this by myself, as The Husband went to a friend’s house to play a game right before dinner. So I got to deal with her hideous dinnertime antics, which nearly had me pulling out my hair, before doing a storytime that was nearly a complete disaster. (Thankfully bathtime went pretty well, but that was the only thing that did.) I say complete disaster because by the time she was supposed to go into her crib, I’d had enough of her tantrums and her treating me meanly, and I collapsed in the corner crying. No…I was bawling. I haven’t felt that level of frustration since those early newborn days when I really didn’t know what I was doing. I certainly didn’t feel like any kind of Supermom; I felt like all my powers had been stripped away and I was much like Clark Kent in that scene, left crumpled on the floor, beaten up and completely vulnerable.

While I cried, Baby B entertained herself quietly with The Dog, then I began to compose myself but still sat quietly in that corner for another few minutes. I wanted to make sure I was 100% calmed down before going back to her in case she was still pulling her antics. I was also hoping that Baby B might come over to me, wondering what was wrong with Mama. At first she didn’t, which hurt me even more, but then I heard her scooting over and she peeked around the crib at me. I said, “Hi, Baby B. I love you. Mommy needs a hug. Can you give me a hug?” If I’d asked for this any other time this weekend, she would have denied me, without a doubt, but she took the two steps forward and buried herself into my chest, pressing her whole body against mine. I started crying again, gently this time, and repeated over and over: “Baby B, I love you so much. Thank you. I love you so much.” And we sat together on the floor, and I rocked forward and back as she hugged me back, though there was no way she could match how hard I was squeezing her.

I think part of it is that because both Baby B and The Husband are so fantastic 98% of the time, it’s perhaps even harder and more frustrating when we reach those times that are less than ideal. It’s like the fact that I’m fortunate that I don’t have to deal with headaches very often at all, so when I do get a headache, it’s difficult to deal with because it’s not something I’m used to. A headache that would be minor to someone else might feel more major to me because I don’t have as much frame of reference. I feel like it’s the same with Baby B and The Husband, because I really am very, very fortunate they’re both as wonderful as they are most of the time.

Right now I feel like I want to give up and just take the path of least resistance, which is to keep being Supermom, retain all of my mystery duties, and if something is forgotten, then, well, it falls on me. But realistically I know we can’t do it like that, especially whenever Mythical Child #2 comes along and there are even more tasks that need to be done, but I need to figure out how to get The Husband to listen to me with things like this. Even though this seems to be a common male trait, I find it hard to believe that it can’t be overcome. I want to do my part to help delegate some of my mom-only duties (which is a hard thing to do, in a way, to give up that control), but I also need The Husband to do his part, too.

As for Baby B, I don’t have any simple answers. I know this is a stage she’s going through, and I know we just have to weather it the best we can. This might sound bad, but it’s really times like these that I’m very glad that I work during the day and don’t have to deal with this behavior 24/7. It sounds bad, but it helps keep me sane so I can better deal with it (even if I could stand to deal with it differently). I’m also fortunate to get a decent amount of alone time so I don’t have to diffuse every single tantrum. I know she is just going through the necessary steps to become a more independent and self-sufficient person — which is the ultimate goal –and that we have many more battles that loom ahead. And thankfully we have way more fun, memorable moments as a family than we have these types of episodes. I’ll tell you…it makes me want to call my mom right now and apologize for every time I made her feel like a rotten mom, or that she couldn’t do it all. Maybe I just need to keep it in perspective like that and know that we’re doing the best we can. We’re still old pros, just a little less like superheroes.

Maid for this

Sunday, November 16, 2008

We had the fit to end all fits earlier today, and you know why? Because we had to make Baby B stop Swiffering the kitchen floor, which she’s already been doing for 15 or 20 minutes. No really. We’re talking Tantrum City because we wouldn’t let her continue cleaning the floor. After I’d already had her do some dusting on the furniture in the living room. And Swiffer the foyer floor.

How much longer until she can start washing dishes?

Into the future

Friday, August 22, 2008

Has anyone seen my little baby?  She appears to be missing these days.

In her place seems to be a spunky little girl who is her own little person now. She has her own opinions. She has her own friends. She has her own words. She has her own responsibilities around the house, albeit small, including shutting any door that needs to be closed and putting her dirty clothes where they belong.

I both look forward to Fridays — because it means it’s another weekend we get to spend with her! —  and also mourn their passing because it means yet another week has elapsed and she’s that much older. It’s wonderful to really immerse ourselves in our time together and experience new things as a family, but by the time you stop and look up for a moment, you wonder how in the world time could have passed so quickly. Wasn’t it just July? Wasn’t it just May? Heck, wasn’t it just Christmas?

How in the world is it possible that I have an almost 19-month-old daughter?  You’d think that in the span of 19 months, it would have truly hit me, right? But at times it still feels so surreal!

With each week that passes, it’s a reminder of our ultimate job as parents: to love her and to prepare her well for that great big world out there. With each week that passes, she asserts her independence further and is a tiny bit more ready to deal with the world without me holding her hand. There’s an element of bittersweetness, of course, but the predominant feeling I have is pride. I’m proud of The Husband and myself for figuring out this whole parenting thing (so far). I’m proud of all that Baby B has learned and accomplished in her short time with us.

I think the photo below, taken last weekend at the Cincinnati Children’s Museum, really captures the above ideas. The often-intimidating big world is shown as the big skyscrapers in the background. Baby B is climbing up the steps, representing all of her new learning and her milestone achievements, and she is looking ahead very determined. Then there’s me standing off to the side, eagerly watching and filled with pride for my daughter, but ultimately letting her figure it out on her own.

Did I want to run over and hold her hand just in case she tripped and skinned her knee going up the concrete steps? You bet.

But did I know that I should hang back and let her figure it out on her own, with me nearby for support but without offering my direct assistance?

You bet.

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 (Thanks to The Husband for capturing a great moment.)