Tuesday, October 26, 2010

my little bruiser

Babs checks in at 19 lbs, 9 oz., and 28 1/4 inches. Yes, that's off the charts. Yes, that means there is lots more of her to love, and we love all of her.

Monday, October 25, 2010

so, it's official

I read this in the Self magazine:

"Feel like an alien stole your brain? A woman's brain shrinks 8 percent during pregnancy. The whys aren't fully understood,... but the theory is that surges of the bonding hormone oxytocin may be restructuring brain circuits, rerouting energy and nutrients to the regions dedicated to attachment and baby tracking. And never fear: Brain size returns to normal six months post-baby, so if you're till feeling spacey, chalk it up to sleep deprivation and stress. Both have been shown to decrease brain function temporarily in numerous studies."

Explains a lot, doesn't it?

(The source of this information seems to be Louann Brizendine, M.D., a neuropsychiatrist.)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

meet jack

This is Kiddo's jack-o-lantern. He lives in the pantry, which doubles as a root cellar in the cold weather*. She made him with her daddy at a church activity the other night. (I stayed home and put Secundus to bed.) She was excited to go see pumpkins, although slightly confused at our insistence that there would be no "pumpkin cars" (Cinderella's coach) for her to ride in. She, understandably, thought that's what pumpkins do, is become cars. But, once we remedied that misconception, the activity was a success.

Kiddo got to help take out the seeds and the "pumpkin goo." She was not allowed to touch "the really sharp knife." Then she "broke" out the eyes, nose, and mouth. She was thrilled to have such an adventure with her daddy.

"I made this pumpkin with my dad," she told me with pride and love.

*At the time of this picture, we'd had two warm days, and I noticed Jack was a little droopy. So we took a picture, fast. I gave Kiddo strict instructions not to touch Jack, just sit next to him. "He has hair in his mouth" she noted. Yes, DON'T TOUCH. After the picture, I dumped his moldy self out.

Friday, October 22, 2010


Babs is six-months old today. I love her so much.

A song we sing often around here is "A, you're adorable." The line for u is "U make my life complete." That line was true when I fell in love and married my husband. But then somehow we made room for Kiddo, and soon couldn't imagine life without her. The same goes for Babs. How were we a family without her? I'm glad we've had six months of completion with her.

Some (okay, a lot of) things she's up to:
*She sincerely wants mobility. She balances on her copious belly, reaches her arms out, kicks the air, and goes no where. But she really, really, really wants to. She can turn from her back to her front and pivot though, so I still have to do a floor check when I put her down.
*She is not impressed by the limitations I have for what she chews on. She would really like paper and (filmy) plastic to be part of her diet. Oh, how she covets the wipes bag. And she always wants to be chewing.

*She doesn't suck on her thumb, hand, or self, really. Except for a day or so after she sees Mac, her friend of the same age. He sucks on his middle two fingers, and she seems to always want to try this after seeing him.
*She can now sit on her own for short periods of time. The clunk of her head hitting the floor is my indication that she's done.
*When she is truly at the end of her rope, tired, hungry, or both, she makes the specific sound of "maah, maah, maah" that sounds heartbreakingly like mama.
*We sporadically feed her solids. She has no use for rice cereal, but is incredibly fond of rice. I cannot shovel it in her mouth fast enough for her. (Part of the problem may be that I will only put in a few grains at a time, because her chewing is still primitive at best.) She likes orange vegetables. When her daddy feeds her, she insists on helping the spoon to her mouth, then extracting it so he can put more food on it. Often, we think she's done, but really, she's just found her bib and needs to chew on it a while. If the bib is removed from her sight, she'll start eating again.
*I think I'm mentally ready to wean her, but like her sister, she is bottle challenged.
*She has the most beautiful smile.
*When tickled, she will eventually laugh, but it sounds like she can't quite get it all the way out. Her most spontaneous laughs are when she interacts with other babies (especially our friends' little boy, Mac, who is almost her age) and when she realizes that Kiddo's hair is in reach.
*She looks amazing in blue.
*She looks just like her daddy.
*She has a crazy reverse mullet, such that she had fuzzy hair in the back, and long straight bangs that fall into her eyes.
*She wakes up about the same time the household wakes up (when we can't convince Kiddo to be still any longer), stays up for no more than 45 minutes, then goes back to sleep for a few more hours. On more way she is like her daddy. She doesn't necessarily eat. Because of this, we have to wake her up every Sunday for church.
*She still wakes up two or three times a night. Once about when I go to bed, and then anywhere between 3 and 6 am.
*We've never seen her ribs through her skin (like her sister) because of her fabulous fat rolls all over her belly and her thick, thick thighs. I expect she weighs close to 20 lbs.

*She has a very good nature and, if she's getting enough sleep and attention, is super pleasant.
*She loves singing. Unless its time for a nap, then she cries about how long it is taking you to get in her in her bed. I give up, stop singing and put her down.
*People tell me constantly how alert she looks. It's true. She is taking in the whole world as fast as she can. We're also told often how beautiful she is. Also true.
*When put down to sleep, she cries out, turns over, and falls asleep. It is not uncommon to see her with her face in the mattress, head propped up on her hands for some air, completely face down.
*Her sister tells us all the time how tiny she is, because she's just a baby. There are many things she can't do, but when she grows up, and gets teeth, this will be remedied.


I wanted Kiddo to fall asleep quickly tonight. So I was sort of hoping she wouldn't take a nap. But quiet time (although not terribly quiet) is sacrosanct at this house, and I was determined to get my time today, even if only for the sake of Babs, who needs a little personal mom time each day. I just wanted fifteen minutes to pretend to sleep while Babs sat on my belly chewing on cow and making noises.

It's always a tough choice. Do I want quiet time for me in the afternoon (thus more patience and enjoyment of the children, plus blogposts for you!) and a very pleasant child in the evening followed by hours of stay-in-bed fun, or no rest for me, and a tired and "delicate" child in the evening who at least falls asleep almost immediately? I never know.

Today Kiddo sacked out in those fifteen minutes I was determined to have apart, actually, in the last five. So I'm getting some quiet time to myself today (and thank goodness, the kitchen is already clean, so I don't have to feel guilt about that) but we'll be fighting that child about staying in bed for hours tonight. She'll go to bed easily enough. But she'll need to go the bathroom at least once. She'll want to read. She may leave bed. She may need some water. And eventually, she'll ask for covers.

That's when we'll know we've almost won. We'll go wrap her up, and she'll finally fall asleep. The question is, will this be before, or after, I wanted to go to bed myself?


Oh, there are a lot of things I'm not sufficiently grateful for in our house (for example the disaster area we call the computer room).

But I'm really grateful that the door to the girls' room opens silently, and I can check on them without waking them up or them knowing. I want this is every home we ever have...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

the bedtime posse

As has already been chronicled, Kiddo chose her comfort items (her lovies) a little later in life. And they happen to be an old pair of soft pajamas and a onsie. Recently she's added a stuffed lamb her great-grandmother gave her (named Agnes), and a small stuffed cat that was a Burger King kids toy. We're mostly resigned to just making sure she has them, otherwise we will surely hear, after we believe she's asleep, "I need my jammies and my onsie" or "where's little kitty?"

(Yes, she's only in her underwear. She likes to sleep this way. And while it was warm, I just didn't think it was worth the fight. I tried to convince her to put on clothes before her daddy got home, but that didn't always work. He is less of the "clothing optional for toddlers" mindset, but is giving in because it's hard to fight both of us.)

getting colder

We walked to the bank yesterday. It was colder outside than I anticipated, so we stopped at the car to see what warm weather options we could find. My husband's hat somehow fits my not-quite-six-month old. Bizarre.

Monday, October 18, 2010

a long story for a short lesson

Typically in the Mormon faith, your congregation is based on geography, thus you meet with people who live near you, providing some diversity in who you attend church with. (Hah! it's only as diverse as your living space, so usually the diversity is age related.) While living in PA though, for some time my congregation was split demographically, and so my ward contained small children under the age of 7 and adults ranging from about 18 to 35, who were all either college students or married to college students. Most of those college students were pursuing advanced degrees, usually PhDs.

This meant that we had a lot more in common (other than just our beliefs) than the average group of worshipers. The commonalities that are pertinent to this story are that we were all poor, with the expectation that it would end about the same time school did. Also, we all either had children, or expected to have children soon. And we were all exposed to the Church counsel that women should, where possible, stay home to raise their children.

And each family went about making ends meet in their own way. Some women worked part-time to provide extra income for their families, some full-time becoming the primary breadwinner, some were on government assistance allowing the mothers to stay home. And there were surely other solutions that I have not imagined, but worked for them.

One Sunday we had a lesson on motherhood, and these choices that we had all made about working and staying home and day care and home care came up. Those who worked talked about the struggles they experienced. Those who stayed home talked about theirs. And as we tried to learn and grown with respect and patience for the choices made by others, a friend of mine shared some thoughts that have stayed with me all these years:

Whatever choice that's been made, it was made through prayer, and it's hard to live with it every day. It's hard to be out of the home, and it's hard to be in it.

Or in other words, we can't judge others for how they're choosing to care for their families, and we can hope that they aren't judging us.

Why am I writing this? Because I am plagued with self-doubt of how to best care for my children in my particular circumstances. Many of the opportunities that I thought would be available are not for one reason or another. But are these opportunities needful? helpful? important? wanted? And while I don't believe anyone is judging how I'm raising my children, I sure wish that I, too, could withhold judgment on myself.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

before I forget

Yesterday Kiddo wanted to wear her princess dress. As always, I just pulled it over her head and let her work out getting out her arms and making it hang correctly. She got a little stuck yesterday.

"Help! I lost my armpit!"

Friday, October 15, 2010


I remember the mouse as brown. My husband thought it was black. The one he got last night was gray. Are we in the clear? Or still looking for more?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

low blow

Babs woke up around 4 am, as usual, but, atypically, didn't want to eat. She wanted to cry and be held. I finally calmed her down, but I couldn't put her down in her bed without more crying. At some point this crying must have woken Kiddo. I know this because as I lay silently with Babs on the couch, I heard little feet walk into my room, then larger feet walk back into the girls room, and the tired sound of my husband lying in bed with her.

About thirty minutes later, he gave up on her falling asleep, and left her there. And about this same time I was finally ready to put Babs down again (in her second crib, the pack-n-play in our computer/storage room, so she could cry it out in peace). We both tiredly head back to our bed.

And then the voice. "Daddy, I need my mom." "Daddy, I need my mom!" With a chuckle and a sigh, I went in there for a few minutes. She calmed down, and we all went back to sleep for a few hours.

Apparently the mice were up last night too. On the table. Longer sigh.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

probably not a coincidence

Tonight about 5 I was done being a mom to my child. I had no patience, all I wanted was 5 minutes to clear my head, but she would have none of it. She was there, wanted my attention, my time, and I had none. I told her this repeatedly, but she just stuck around wanted to be with me. I went to get something out of the backpack/diaper bag, and she decided that it looked interesting, so started to go through the pockets. A moment to myself, it's about time.

A few moments later she brought in the gift card envelope that was in one of the pockets. "Mom, I brought you a present." "Thank you" I dutifully replied, then realized something was in it. I looked, it was a frequent shopper reward card. I smiled at her ability to stick the card in, and set it down. I was still desperate for some more minutes. "Let's go get more presents," she suggested. "You go get more presents," I urged.

She came back a few moments later, with the same envelope. This time it contained the shopper card and my credit card. "I brought you a present mom. It will make you happy."

What? Oh, I know where she got the idea, her daddy taught her presents make people happy, specifically in the context of my birthday. And I'm pretty sure any time she found that envelope with its festive nature she would have played a game of giving presents, she's pretty big into that right now. But no matter how hard I try, I can't shake the idea that she knew I was unhappy, and the present was the best way she could think to change that. Thanks.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

we'll call him "argh!"

We have a mouse. He (she?) is small and brown. We first met him last Friday morning when my husband went to get milk for Primus. He gave a yowp of frustration, and tried to catch it then, unsuccessfully. As we worked out the details of the day, I decided to drive my husband in to work. All I really wanted to do that morning was pull the covers over my head and just hope it went away.

I remember having mice at our house in New Hampshire. I remember my mom and her friend just dealing with it. I wanted to be brave and strong like my mom, but didn't feel it. Then I decided that she probably didn't want to deal with it either, but she did, and that was what was important. I called my mom to tell her about our mouse, and my suspicions that she didn't like having mice either, but dealt with them. She replied that mice were no big deal.

This was not the answer I wanted. I wanted to be praised for dealing with it, despite wanting to hide, not be told my problem was little. I would have told her this, so I could get the encouragement I wanted, but we had a bad connection, and she was at the airport. (To my mom's defense, she would NEVER tell me my problem was little. It was the impressions of the day and the awkward situation. She thinks I'm brave. I'm fine.) So I let her get back to her life, and I got back to mine. My life that day involved a lot of cleaning.

We think he came in (lives?) behind the stove. Because I had more cleaning to do than could properly be handled with a toddler and an infant, I called up my good friend on Friday who came over and played with my child while I cleaned and cleaned the kitchen. (It's possible the source of the extensive amount of time needed to clean up was because we hadn't done this dishes the night before. This may have been a semi-regular occasion. It surely is no more.) Now all the counters are clean, the pantry is organized, and the stove is impeccable.

We had hoped that the mouse wandered in one day, and once the easy pickings on the counter were gone, it would be gone. A few mornings later we found its calling cards amongst our clean dishes, so we upped our cleaning routine again.

Now, we do the dishes immediately after every meal. At night, we dry them all, and clear off the counters completely. And last night we started setting traps. No success. My husband has set them again. This weekend we'll look for holes, and he'll plug those up.

No, it's not fun having a mouse (even if it is not nearly as big a deal as I thought it was on Friday morning). But, I have to admit, it's really nice having an incredibly clean kitchen.

Monday, October 11, 2010

you'd probably like a picture


Sundays make me tired. I love that there is a day where we ignore the world. There is no shopping, no errands, no chores around the house. I love that we go to church, and feel the Spirit, and see our friends, and take the Sacrament.

But our typical Sunday is packed. Either my husband leaves early for meetings, which leaves me to get myself and the girls out the door, or we all have to go in early for meetings. (In which Kiddo watches iTouch movies to keep her dancing to a minimum.) Then my husband takes Babs for the first hour while I settle Kiddo into nursery, unless I'm running nursery because none of the leaders have shown up. A half hour later I do singing time with our small but rambunctious primary. They are, all ten of them, converts within the last year, so everything is new to them, the songs, and the idea of reverence, sitting in your chair, scripture stories, etc.

Then for the second hour, I run to grab Babs so my husband can take his responsibilities as Elders' Quorum President seriously. He is usually teaching, and she makes less an impact in nursery rather than an adult class. I usually need to feed her somewhere in here.

Then I gather the girls (including a potty run) and head up to the chapel. Someone asked me yesterday where the chapel was. Upstairs, I answered. He then politely asked where the stairs were. I smiled and replied, out the door, and in the other one. Then suggested he wait and follow someone up. (Here is an accurate set of directions: Leave the portion of the building with the classrooms, and go outside. Then you go in the adjacent set of doors that brings you into the public portion of the building. Walk to the end of the hallway, there are a set of elevators on your left. Go to the second floor. Upon exiting, head to your right, the chapel is the first set of doors. No, you can't take the stairs because all the stair entry doors are locked.)

During the third hour, I lead the music, and attempt to keep an active 2 1/2 year old relatively quiet. And keep her distracted from the fact that the other kids are doing active fun things in the back.

Then we have choir practice. This may or may not start with a walk downstairs so we can turn around and walk back upstairs. I usually still am responsible for at least one child, depending on what crisises we're fielding, and what responsibilities my husband has. I am definitely leading the choir, and am sometimes playing the piano too.

Then we drive home, with a small chorus of "I'm not tired. I don't want to take a nap," emanating from the back seat. There is no correct response to these comments. Any response pushes her towards tired hysteria. Non-response induces her to repeat herself again and again.

Is it any wonder we all crash into bed for a while when we finally do get in the house?

Yet for all this, early in our time here, I was impressed that our time here at this branch would be fulfilling, and that we would look back fondly at this time our whole lives, as a time when we could be so involved and so meaningfully engaged. And that is already true.

worst fears realized

One of my husband's worst fears was realized yesterday.

Kiddo had an accident in public. Over the last 8 months through a combination of pull-ups and vigilance we've kept her accidents (mostly) contained to the house. (There was that once at the playground, and I feel that there may have been another that I'm repressing.*)

But yesterday, as she climbed onto the piano bench to sit with her daddy before choir practice, I heard the tale-tell sound.

Good news: our chapel is old and tired, so while we try to respect it, it has already suffered a lot. Also, it was at the beginning of choir practice, so Daddy had to take point on solving the problem, not me.

Bad news: one of the reasons that the impact on the floor was small is that a lot of the output landed on daddy's church bag. Sigh.

*Ah yes, it's coming back to me now, and there's a reason it's repressed. I'll leave it there.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

jors and mines

Kiddo is all about ownership right now, and everything is "mines!" as in "That's mines!" Today she ate both a piece of bread and quesadilla she didn't want just so that I could not have them. If she's not willing to share with me, well, that's some serious desire to have possession.

What few things are not hers are "jors." Kiddo has a new nursery leader who is from Peru. Her accent pronounces "y" as "j." Kiddo came home a few weeks ago saying "jors" instead of "yours." I suppose it is easier to pronounce.

Luckily, Babs has a few toys that are hers, and were never Kiddo's. When she plays with a specific book, Kiddo covets the book. I will not let her take it from Babs, and each time I give Kiddo the same deal. Let Babs play with one of your dolls (she seriously wants to suck their faces). And each time the desire to keep her things hers weighs in strongest, and Kiddo says no. At least she knows what she wants.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

calm before the storm

In what felt like a miracle, both girls were asleep by 8:15. We're still seriously working on the logistics of having them in the same room, with Primus who is likely to recite stories and sing songs for three hours after being put to bed, and Secundus, who likes to cry for some time as she goes down for the night. So, in two different beds, in two different rooms, they were asleep, and it was nice.

At 10:15 I decided to head for bed. I first picked up Babs to move her to her crib. That didn't go well. In fact, she woke up Kiddo, who had been coughing on and off since bedtime. She woke up seriously coughing, and seriously upset. (Apparently neither one of them is keen on the other hysterically crying. Good thing it rarely happens.) Throughout the next hour, we set up the pack-n-play, the humidifier, soothed the older one back to sleep, and bounced the younger one until she fell asleep. Plus, three of the four of us changed clothes because they'd been thrown up on. (Amazingly enough, the one who most often soils her clothes is the only who finished the evening in the same clothes she started in.) And when I moved the tiny one to her bed for the night, she woke up again. But didn't cry, so I let her explore her new digs, and I think (cross your fingers) she's down until our 4 am rendez-vous for food.

It hasn't quite been 90 minutes since my fateful decision to call it a day, but it feels another lifetime.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

what my lease gets me

We rent our apartment. It's one floor of a four floor building (including the basement). There are many things we like about it, and plenty that we don't like. I mention them occasionally, but mostly try to enjoy this phase of our life.

Recently, two of the four outlets in our kitchen stopped working. Given that the microwave is pretty constantly plugged in, and one of remaining working outlets only actually has one outlet, that brings me from six places to plug kitchen appliances in to two (plus one by the table, which seems to mostly work, though not always).

No problem, we talk to the apartment manager, a very proactive man who we like a lot, who talked to our landlord, who we really don't know, but seems nice. A month later, we were still waiting to hear something. We finally approached the topic with our manager again.

Our landlord says: since they were working when we moved in, they are our responsibility to fix.


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

enough said

longer thoughts on my birthday

Two weeks before my birthday, my husband and I decided it would be a good idea if Kiddo got me a birthday present, so that she could start the (long) process of realizing that not all gifts are for her. And not all of life is about her. I suggested a candy bar. About a week before my birthday, he talked to her about a present for me. It was a sweet conversation. (Although I had excused myself from the room, and closed my door, it is entirely possible that I heard the entire conversation. Sorry honey, you talk pretty loud when you're talking to the kids.)

He asked her what he thought I would like for a present. Her first suggestion was a cake in a white box (something from the bakery). He asked for another idea. She thought a moment, then told him I would like a book. She came up with the idea with no prompting at all. And she's right. I do like books.

For the actual evening, we had a party. We had party hats with Dora, because let's face it, a lot of our life is about Kiddo, and things that make her happy. In her world, parties come with hats, so we had some too.
Some friends of ours came over to watch our kids so my husband and I could go out to eat. Then more friends came over to share cake (in a white box, yum!) and play games.
Kiddo describes it as follows. "First our three friends came over [there were five]. Then we said surprise [they were all there by the time we got home from dinner, so they pretended it was a surprise]! Then we all wore hats, and momma and I blew out the candles with our lips. And we all had Dora hats, with Boots, and Danny [Benny], and Tikko. Then we ate cake. I ate all the chocolate, then all the cake, then all the ice cream. It was fun."

And that about sums it up. I had the audacity to blow out the candles myself, so we had to relight a candle for Kiddo to blow out. Except she can't really blow yet, so she tried while I covertly blew from behind. It was a nice evening.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

brief thoughts on my birthday

If you choose not to do chores one day, just because it's your birthday, doesn't mean the chores go away. It just means you have to do them the next day. (Although if the next day is a Saturday, your husband will probably help, or at least do some other chores.) So maybe treating myself to fewer chores for my birthday wasn't necessarily my best idea.