Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Disequilibrium

Since Clare turned 3, she has decided it is time to test everything, especially my patience. Six months ago I wrote a post about her bad behavior. She was doing a lot better for awhile, but on her birthday the switch flipped. Back to brat.

I should say this: she is generally a really good kid. She is funny and smart and creative. There are just these moments, though. And they are daily.

Last week she ran away from me at the park. Luckily, a friend was there to hold Christopher while I tracked her down. When I told Clare I would have had to leave Christopher alone if my friend hadn't been there, she was chastened. It didn't last long, though. As I was putting her in her car seat she had another tantrum, and kicked me in the face. (She was not trying to hurt me. She was just flailing everywhere.)

She is not subtle about it, either. Today she said, "I am not going to listen to you." Just outright said it. So she knows what she is doing. She knows I know what she is doing. And she uses the snottiest tone of voice. Where do they get that? I don't talk to her that way.

I've tried time outs. I've tried counting (which I hate. I don't do it in public). I take things away: books, TV, dessert. Ben talks to her at night about listening to me.

She is fighting her naps. She is exhausted, but refuses to sleep. I try quiet time. That works, for about 15 minutes. She NEEDS her nap. I NEED her nap. Right now she is in her room crying, and has been for the past 40 minutes. She has some stamina, I'll give her that.

The professionals talk about how children go through stages of equilibrium and disequilibrium as they pass through different developmental stages. We are definitely in disequilibrium right now. Hopefully by the time she is 3 and a half the switch will be flipped back the other way.

Until then, I'll count my blessings that she hasn't figured out how to open her bedroom door, so I can shut her in there.

Speaking of figuring things out:


Yep, he realized he can escape the play room. We are in trouble now.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Pipestone

At the end of June, we traveled to southwestern Minnesota to visit Pipestone, a small town at the edge of the prairie. Have you ever been to the prairie? It is wild - long grasses blowing in the wind like waves on the ocean. Weather you can see coming in from miles away - huge, dark clouds building higher and higher, bolts of lightening crashing to the ground. Then, suddenly, the sun breaking through, bright and hot. The storms never actually got near us, though, just threatened us from the distance.



This was our first vacation together, just the four of us. Traveling with small children is never going to be relaxing, but I didn't realize how hard it would be to be in one hotel room. There was a lot of this going on in the middle of the day:



At night, when the kids finally fell asleep, Ben and I opened a bottle of wine and sat in bed with our tablets. It was all we could do - we didn't dare turn on the lights.

We visited Pipestone National Monument. If you're not familiar with it, the national park is a sacred site for Native Americans, and is still used as a rock quarry for people to mine the red pipestone used to make peace pipes. It is a beautiful place.


Christopher was really into it, too.



We had fun, though, our little family. Hikes, pizza, the hotel pool, the public pool in Pipestone (Clare kept screaming that she was SO EXCITED to be at the pool), and a diner with the best pumpkin pie in the WORLD. It was a good trip.


Yeah, I don't know how Christopher slept like that either.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Nine Months



Okay, I know he's not really saying Mama, but it sounds like he is. And it is especially heart wrenching when he is crying while saying, "Mamamamama!" He also says "ooh," a lot, especially when he sees something new or interesting - and just about everything he sees is new or interesting to him.

His favorite book is "Goodnight Moon." He smiles from ear to ear when I pull it out to read to him before bed. He studies the pages carefully, and turns to grin at me, like he's thinking, "Wow, I can't believe I get to look at this!" Babies are funny.

He crawls, but not much. He gets up on his hands and knees and rocks back and forth, and drags himself across the floor toward his toys. His preferred method of movement is rolling. He rolls and rolls and rolls.

Clare is taking a music class, and Christopher gets in on the action, too. He dances. He plays a drum. He stares in awe at the music teacher.

He gets very upset when something is taken away from him, but if it is immediately replaced with something else he is content. He is never sad for long. He does scream at the top of his lungs if he is not getting the attention he wants when he wants it, though. It is piercing.

He is a hearty eater. A very hearty eater. That boy enjoys his food. I've started cooking for him regularly, because we go through so many packets of food. So many.

We're going to be at my parents' house for the Fourth again this year. Clare has already refused to attend the parade, but I think I am going to take Christopher. He can "ooh" all he wants.





Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Nuks No More

Well, we finally did it. We nixed the Nuk. And the first week was rough, but I think we are coming out the other side. I hope.

I took Clare to her first dentist appointment last week. She did great. I think she is maturing a bit when it comes to things that used to cause her major anxiety. I expected her to have a complete meltdown about the dentist, but as soon as the hygienist mentioned the words "princess toothbrush" she was sold.

It was the dentist who told us it was finally time to get rid of Clare's pacifier. She is concerned that it is causing a problem with her bite. So I decided Clare was done. Cold turkey. The first few days she screamed and cried for it at nap time. Then she didn't nap. She screamed and cried at bedtime. She still went to bed. It has been a week now, though, and she's stopped asking for it. She's also basically stopped napping, much to my dismay. I think it is time to introduce Clare to a little concept called Quiet Time, also known as Stay In Your Room Until Mommy Tells You To Come Out Time. I am not sure she'll like SIYRUMTYTCOT, but I need it.

Speaking of not that at all, did you guys watch "The Magic School Bus" when you were little? Clare has started watching it on Netflix. I don't remember that show being so gross. And really kind of disturbing. I mean, this tiny little bus flies through a human body. It is weird. After watching a few episodes, Clare turned to me and announced that she does not want to ride on a school bus. I explained that most buses do not actually fly into outer space, but I am not sure she felt better. I guess it is back to "Daniel Tiger" or, God forbid, "Caillou."

And to wrap up this completely random post, here is a picture of both my children after they became extremely upset because of my husband and father-in-law's loud yelling during the USA Men's World Cup match.


I don't know how they'll survive football season.



Thursday, June 19, 2014

Summer So Far

I love this time of year (except all of these storms, thank you very much). Summer! Cookouts, trips to the zoo, picnics at the park, summer fruits, sweet corn, swimming, sunshine. Really, I like the next six months, so I am always happy in June. It is just the beginning of the best times of the year. (Although this week has been a bit of a challenge - I am still happy because at least it is not winter!)

Our summer officially kicked off with Clare's third birthday party, held at our house on her actual birthday.


Ready to party.
We kept it small and simple this year. Sandwiches, cake, presents. Clare's guests included all four of her grandparents, a great aunt and uncle, Aunt Katie, her buddy cousin Gavin and his parents, and her BFF Benjamin and his family. Oh, and this guy was there too, for a little while anyway.

The party proved to be too much for little Christopher Lewis. He was in bed an hour after it started.

Party trick! Clare wowed the crowd by reading her name on her new personalized water bottle (and naming all the letters).
Clare requested a princess cake. I had my reservations, but I decided it wouldn't hurt to let her have one. I told the bakery I wanted a "little girl" princess. Yeah, I ended up with the typical curvy blonde, complete with eye makeup. Luckily, Clare was way more interested in eating the cake than actually looking at it.

More please!
She spent most of the party just like this:


It was a good day.

***

Last weekend I packed up the kids and took them to Evansville for a long weekend. Aunt Katie came along, too, so I didn't have to do the drive alone. Ben stayed here and enjoyed the peace and quiet. And did quite a few house projects, actually. Anyway, Christopher took his first trip the restaurant where Ben and I spent many a Friday night in our pre-children life.

He makes this face all the time.
We went to a Brewers game in Milwaukee. I don't know why I thought this was a good idea for Christopher. He, of course, crashed not even halfway through the game. He had fun tailgating, though.

Clare was nervous about eating around the cars, but she had a blast at the actual game.


And she adored the racing sausages. As anyone would. She cheered for the hot dog. Good choice, Clare. She also enjoyed seeing her Uncle Robby one last time before he heads back to England until November. Sniff. We'll miss you, Uncle Robby!

I also got to see a few friends for lunch and brunch, which I always enjoy. I brought Christopher with me to both outings, thinking he would just sit in his high chair quietly. Why do I keep forgetting that he is an extremely active 8-month-old, and not a newborn baby anymore? Next time I go out with friends that boy is staying at home. I would have been better off taking Clare, who will just sit quietly and peel the wrappers off the crayons she is given to color with at the restaurant.

Despite my energetic baby's restaurant antics, summer is off to a good start.


Saturday, June 7, 2014

Three


Last year a friend of mine told me I'd see a huge difference in Clare at 3 versus Clare at 2. She was so right. I can't believe how much she's changed. She is no longer a toddler. She is a full-fledged, potty-trained, card-carrying preschooler. Literally, she carries a cardboard credit card around with her. She has to pay for things, after all.

Clare at 2. She really has changed.
She is so verbal. She talks incessantly (as long as there are no strangers around). She is constantly inventing new games for herself. Her latest one is church. She uses my pile of unread New Yorker magazines as the music. She is so good at pretending an object is something else. My headphones are her stethoscope when she plays doctor, a flash drive is the needle for the shot. And yes, she knows how to work my iPhone.

She is affectionate with her friends, wanting to hold hands and give hugs goodbye. She can be a bit bossy when playing with friends, but always compliments them when she thinks they've come up with a good idea. She is empathetic to a fault - if someone else gets upset, she does too. Sometimes I worry that she is too sensitive and anxious, but once she learns some coping strategies it will be a good quality, I think. (Well, not the anxiety.)

She loves the aquarium, but is still unsure about the zoo. She is scared of dogs, bugs, and most other animals. She hates loud noises. She loves being outdoors. She plays soccer (and can actually dribble the ball), rides her bike, plays catch, and throws the tennis ball onto the roof. (Thanks for teaching her that one, Ben.) She draws with chalk. She plays with her water table. She gets covered in mud. If she could, she would spend all day on the swings, but she likes the slide, too.

She doesn't mind getting dirty outside, but inside she does not stand for sticky hands. She hates finger paint, and if any other paint or food gets on her hand she immediately demands a napkin.

She is so helpful. Most of the time she'll do things for me if I ask her. (Although I hear the word no more often than I would like.) She wants to help do laundry and make dinner. I let her, even though sometimes I want to tell her to go away, because it takes twice as long when she helps.

She would have french fries every night for dinner if we let her, but she inexplicably does not like pizza. She loves every kind of berry, and hates every kind of pepper. Of course she likes dessert.

She sees and hears everything. She forgets nothing. The other day she was reciting my phone number. I couldn't figure out how she knew it, and then I realized she'd heard me leaving my number on a voicemail for someone. More than once I've told her something doesn't work a certain way and she's proven me wrong. Yesterday, there was a beeping noise coming from the refrigerator and I could not figure out what it was. Clare told me she thought it was because I'd pushed a button on the water filter on the door. Yeah, she was right.

She loves her little brother. I still think about how much I underestimated her before he was born - I thought she would have a lot tougher time than she did. She is so good with him. She plays with him and makes him laugh like no one else can. She looks out for him - when they tried to give him water at school she told them he only drinks milk. When another boy took a toy away from him, she got it back. Each morning she goes into his room to talk to him before I get him up. I hear her chattering away, asking him how he's doing and why he's smiling. (He's smiling because she's there, of  course.) A few months ago, we took Christopher to the hospital for an ultrasound on his hips (he is fine). When we left, Ben took Christopher in his car, and Clare came with me. As I was pulling out of the parking lot, she became distraught. "Where's Christopher?" she wailed. She thought we'd left him behind. I know they'll fight, but I hope they'll always be friends.

Yes, there are days when she whines and throws fits and generally acts her age. Most of the time, though, she is just her lively, talkative, smart, creative, funny, active self. I wouldn't change a thing about her.

Riding her bike.

At the aquarium at MOA.

Playing outside in Evansville.

Our first picnic of the year.

Enjoying the sun.

Going on a ride in a cherry picker. It went pretty high, but I think she liked it.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Eight Months



Is it time to break out the ol' "where'd the time go" cliche? I think it is. Seriously, eight months? How'd that happen? The first four months seemed like a year, the second four months have seemed like a day.

And what to say about Mr. Christopher? Smiley? Check. Eating solid foods? Check. Loving his sister? Check.

He doesn't have any separation anxiety, but he is at the stage where he will be fine until he sees me. Then he realizes he has a problem. He is all smiles for everyone but me. Well, he smiles at me too, as long as I have assisted him with all of his needs first. So demanding!

I've been nursing him to sleep, and we decided we should try to move away from that, so I've been letting him cry it out a little. This works beautifully at nap time. (He cries while I put his sister to bed. By the time I am done with her he is asleep.) At bed time, not so much. In fact, I usually cave. I hate that sad cry; it is almost physically painful to hear it. Also, I want him to go to sleep so I can watch the 9 p.m. rerun of The Big Bang Theory. (We don't have cable.)

I've been working on sign language with him. He makes the milk sign, but I think he is using it when he is hungry, not necessarily when he wants milk. He has started waving, though. It is so fun when they start to communicate in ways other than crying. And he is pretty pleased with himself when he does it. He is babbling like crazy, and will make really, long angry speeches when I am not attending to him fast enough.

He loves books with pictures of animals - he tries to touch them. He loves the grass and sand at the park and has probably ingested a bit of grass. Clare hates the neighbor's leaf blower, but Christopher thinks the loud noises are funny. I know babies aren't supposed to have any screen time, but he gets such a huge kick out of watching videos of himself that I can't resist showing them to him.

Everyone who meets him talks about how happy he is. Of course, they're not here for his nightly meltdown at dinner time, but mostly they are right. Each morning when I get him out of bed, he grins and flails and then wraps his arms around my neck and nuzzles in for a morning hug. It is the best part of my day. My happy, happy little guy.