Friday, April 4, 2014

Six Months





Before Christopher was born, I couldn't imagine loving anyone as much as I love Clare. Now, my heart just bursts every time I look at him. I can't get enough of him. When he smiles, when he blows raspberries, when he chatters away at me. He is so happy to see me, and the smile he gives me when I get him out of his crib in the morning makes my whole day.

He is a good sleeper, for now, at least until the next Wonder Week or tooth or growth spurt or who knows what disrupts things. But for now things are good. In the mornings, he is perfectly content to stay in his crib for an hour or more, looking in his mirror, chattering to himself, chewing on his toes. I love this. It makes the mornings so much easier, especially if we are trying to get out of the house at a certain time.

Christopher has become quite mobile - he rolls everywhere. He is trying so hard to crawl, but doesn't have the coordination. Instead, he lays on his stomach with his legs kicking ineffectually behind him, staring longingly at whatever he is trying to reach. If I threw him in the pool, he'd probably swim away. (Although he wasn't sure what he thought of the pool when we were actually in one a few weeks ago. Same goes for his baths. He doesn't cry, but he isn't exactly happy about things, either. His sister is a fish, but maybe he inherited his father's ambivalence to the water.) He can sit up on his own, but sometimes he forgets to balance and topples over, so I let him practice while keeping a close eye on him.

He is fascinated by the world around him, and when he sees something that amazes or excites him he moves his entire body with joy. I wish I could describe it better, but when I am holding him in my arms and he sees his reflection in the mirror, he flails his arms and torso and shrieks and grunts with happiness. He has the same reaction to running water. It is the little things, right?

He just loves Clare. If I can't get enough of him, well, he can't get enough of her. She is definitely his favorite person. Even when he is fussy, if Clare comes into the room he grins from ear to ear. If she starts laughing, he starts laughing. Clare, for her part, loves playing with her brother. This usually includes laying on top of him. He doesn't mind at all. In fact, I think he's only cried once during their rough and tumble play. (The fact that he only weighs about 10 pound less than her probably helps.)

He lights up when he sees people at our house or at our various activities, even people he's never seen before. He grins and laughs and tries to grab anyone's hair that he can get his hands on. Despite his need to show off, he is also getting better at independent play. Right now, he is laying under his floor gym grunting at one of the toys and occasionally stuffing his foot in his mouth. He is perfectly content.

Six months. An eternity, a second. I am trying to soak up as much of his babyhood as I can. I can't get enough.






Monday, March 31, 2014

Bits and Pieces: March

Spring! Spring! Spring! I know it is going to get cold again this week. I know we haven't seen the last of the snow. But 60 degrees this weekend felt amazing. It improved everyone's moods, even Christopher's. This month felt long, but now that it is over I am not sure where it went. 

***

It is official. Clare is potty trained. She has been for awhile, but I wanted to wait to say anything so that I didn't tempt the laws of the universe. (Write about it, and everything stops working, backfires, etc.) Speaking of that universe, though, apparently even when you think something the universe can step in to put you in your place. I was congratulating myself recently on making it through the whole winter without getting sick. So of course last week I developed a wicked cold.  I didn't even say anything out loud, but the universe knew. 

***

Clare has been taking very good care of her baby while I take care of Christopher. She even pretends to nurse her. The other day, she sat in her chair to nurse her baby, looked around, and said, "Where's my phone?" Oops. I guess I spend too much time looking at my phone while nursing. Darn you, smart phones!



She also likes to carry her baby in this homemade carrier when I am wearing Christopher. Don't worry, I have an actual carrier for him. Not just a shirt I tie around my waist.

***

We went to visit my grandparents in La Crosse a few weeks ago. I always enjoy seeing them. During the visit, Clare mastered her somersault, told my mom gracias means "a little bean up in the sky," and was convinced that the picture of my parents at their wedding was actually my brother and sister. She was also asleep before we pulled out of the driveway.

***

My mom came for a visit while she was on spring break. We went to story time, the aquarium, and visited Aunt Katie at work. Clare loved having her here. So did I.


***

Speaking of visiting people at work, we were driving in downtown Minneapolis to meet my friend Chrissy for lunch a few weeks ago and Clare and I were talking in the car.

Clare: Daddy goes to work, because he's a boy. You don't go to work because you're a girl.
Me: (Nearly swerving off road). No no no no! Lots of girls go to work! We are going to visit Chrissy at work! Aunt Katie goes to work! Meema Jo goes to work!
Me: (Frantically listing any woman I think of who works.)
Clare: Why is that sign spinning around? It is spinning around and around!
Me: Sigh.

***

Last night, I was thinking about how much easier my life was before I had two kids. How sometimes I prefer Christopher's company over anyone else's, because he doesn't talk back. How if I only had Clare, I would get so much more done around the house because she can be left alone to play.

And, as always, I thought about how I would never, ever give them up. Not for anything.

These two.




It is such a relief to be coming out of this long, long winter. Happy Spring!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Irish By Marriage

I couldn't resist this:


My little Irish boy. I have never really cared about St. Patrick's Day (although I have consumed plenty of green beer in my day); but today we decided to take the kids to the St. Patrick's Day parade in St. Paul. This could have been a disaster, considering the last time Clare was at a parade she had a complete meltdown, but luckily we grabbed a spot in the skyway. It was relatively quiet, and Clare could view all of the parade antics from a safe distance. (Antics included: actual Irish Wolfhounds, a terrifying giant Irish Wolfhound costume, a marching band composed of miserable looking seventh graders,  and a man marching with his clan while carrying, and drinking from, a 24-pack of MGD . Ben was disgusted. "He should at least be carrying a 24-pack of Harps!" he said.)


It always seemed to me that Irish people were inordinately proud of their heritage. I do not have a drop of Irish blood. I do remember doing a genealogy project in Fourth Grade, though, and finding out that my friend Sarah and I were the only members of our class with Czech ancestors. I thought that was pretty cool. I also still think it is kind of neat that I could be a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, although they might kick me out if they found out that I also have ancestors who were Hessian soldiers.

So I guess I kind of understand what it is like to be proud of your ancestry, even if we don't all have parades. Since I am married to a man with a significant amount of Irish blood, I think I'll continue to drink as much green beer as I please.

(As an aside, the last time I went out on St. Patrick's Day in the Twin Cities, I went to the Dubliner with a few friends, including my friend Scott. Scott picked me up in his ancient car and handed me an enormous flashlight. Floodlight, really. "My headlights aren't working," he said. "Shine that out the window." No one who knows Scott will be surprised by this story.)

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Five Months (And One Day)




So have you heard of the Four Month Sleep Regression? Yeah, that is actually a thing. I never noticed these sleep regressions or "Wonder Weeks" with Clare, but Christopher seems to be prone to them. I don't know why, but I guess development is harder for him? Clare apparently just slept right through it. Christopher slept like a newborn (meaning not much at all) for about a week. All of those brain synapses firing! He does seem like a much older baby all of a sudden. He plays with toys. He talks to people. He is interested in everything.

A few weeks ago, Ben was holding Christopher while we were having pizza for dinner. Christopher was fixated on Ben's plate. When Ben raised his piece of pizza to his mouth, Christopher opened his mouth as wide as he could, all "insert pizza, plz." A few days later, he was super excited at the prospect of a bite of my chocolate babka at ECFE. He was lunging for it. (He didn't get one.) Needless to say, I think he is ready for solid foods. I am going to make him hold out until 6 months, though. I do have one specialized talent, and that is the ability to produce copious amounts of breast milk. I have to use my talent while I can.

As I've mentioned before, Christopher is a generally laid back, happy guy. (Except when he is sympathy crying with Clare.) He is a charming flirt. He smiles at everyone. One thing he will not tolerate, however, is a drinking milk out of a bottle. This past weekend, my parents were in town. Their Christmas gift from my sister and I was dinner out at the Bachelor Farmer. We hired a babysitter to watch the kiddos. I was nervous, because I knew Christopher would not want the bottle (despite working with him to try to get him to drink out of one). I was afraid he would scream the whole time and poor babysitter would never come back. Luckily, he was fine while she was here. (He did not drink from the bottle.)

We moved Christopher to his crib earlier this month. Even though he is still not regularly sleeping through the night, it was actually a relief to get our own room back. I can read at night without tip toeing around, worried I'll wake the baby. His crib is on the same wall as our bed, so I can still hear him as soon as he stirs, but it is nice having him in his own room.

Christopher saw the pediatric cardiologist today. His heart looks great. He is no longer needs to take his blood pressure medication. He will see the cardiologist again in October, and after that he will only need to go every two years. I am so grateful that his heart is healthy, and that he is the jolly, pudgy little baby that he is.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Too Much/Not Enough

I've always fixated on things. I'll obsess for days over a decision I made. Sometimes it is a decision I made 15 years ago. I rehash it in my mind. Did I do the right thing? What would have happened if I had done this? Or that?

Since I've become a Stay At Home Mom (can someone please tell me the proper way to punctuate that title?), my fixations have mostly focused on my children and my house. I feel like I have so much TIME to think about these two things, because I don't have a job. Excuse me, I don't have a job outside the home. Would I spend this much time worrying about where to send Clare to preschool if I had a job (outside the home)? I've toured three preschools, attended a preschool fair, and enrolled her in a nearby school. It is part of a K-8 school, and really quite lovely. The teachers are warm, friendly people and the room is sunny and bright. One of the main reasons I chose it was its flexibility - she can stay there from 8 a.m. to 2:50 p.m. if I choose, and you can tell them that week that you'd like the extra hours. It also has a drop off lane - I won't have to get out of the car. In the winter, with Christopher no longer in the baby car seat, this will be huge. Lately, though, I've been wondering if it is the right school for her. Will she learn what she needs to? Did I get the right "vibe"? Part of the problem is I talk to other SAHMs at play dates etc., and when I hear about their decisions about preschools I start second guessing myself. (I do this all the time.) But it is PRESCHOOL, right? Does it really matter that much? GAH.

My other obsession: that someone will fall from our open staircase. I mean, really. Lots of people have those, right? And children are not routinely falling from them?

Because I am not working on other projects (outside of housework), I think about these things constantly. If I was working, would I stop? Or would I obsess just as much?

Sometimes, though, I feel like I have no time at all. Why, when I have all this time, does my laundry stay in piles, never to be put away or even folded? Why can't I have a clean house, or get through simple items on my to do list on a daily basis?

I spend my days doing all sorts of "child maintenance duties" as my mother calls them. And thinking. And feeling sorry for myself.

But really, I just need to SHUT UP, right? I have a good life. I have a comfortable home. Yes, I work hard taking care of my children. I realize, though, that compared to many, many people, my life is easy. And it won't be this way forever. This afternoon, after Clare FINALLY went down for her nap after what seemed like 20 potty breaks, I sat on the couch with the cutest baby in the world (in my biased opinion), watched TV, and ate jelly beans.

I mean, come on. SHUT UP EMILY.

(But seriously, it doesn't matter where she goes to preschool, right?)

Cute baby.


Friday, February 21, 2014

Two Year Old Trials

We're at the doctor's office for Christopher's appointment. Clare, deciding that Christopher will "cry too loud" when he gets his shot, opens the door and runs down the hall of the clinic. I chase after her, dragging her back into the room. (The doctor was with Christopher.)

We're at Target, sitting in Starbucks having a snack. Clare, for reasons unknown, takes off running into the store. I chase her, catching her as she passes the front door of the store. (Christopher and my diaper bag containing my wallet and cell phone are abandoned in Starbucks.)

We're at the rec center for playtime. Clare doesn't want to leave, so she runs in the opposite direction while I scream at her to come back. (Christopher, who now weighs 18 pounds, is breaking my arm as I hold him in his car seat.)

We're at home. Clare doesn't want to get ready to go, so she runs around the house, starts playing with toys, screams "no!" at me when I tell her to get ready. I force her into her coat and boots and out the door. (Christopher is screaming in his car seat. He has been ready to go for some time.)

It is not every day that we are dealing with these scenarios, but it feels like it is. I am fighting with her over every little thing. I try so hard to let things go, to pick my battles, but some days I just want to SCREAM. And I do. And it doesn't help anything.

I've tried time outs (she likes them), and taking away her privileges to watch Daniel Tiger (this makes her upset, but only sometimes works as an incentive to behave). I just finished reading "Bringing Up Bebe", a book that I have mixed feelings about. In the book, a French parent says you have to believe that your child will listen to what you say, and that will come through in your voice. Your child will listen. How I wish that were true. Maybe I am just not saying it right? I've learned not to phrase things as a question, because too often the answer is no.

On Tuesday, we were at Davanni's for a fundraiser for ECFE. I felt a little better, because I noticed that many other mothers were having similar issues with their 2-year-olds, and speaking to them much the same way I speak to Clare. So is it normal? Does anyone have suggestions for getting a 2-year-old to listen? And can I blame all of this bad behavior on the weather?

I don't want it to make it sound like Clare is a total brat, because she's not. Like I said, these incidents are not occurring every day. However, they are so frustrating and scary when they do happen (especially when she runs away in crowded, public places), and I just don't seem to be handling them well.

There are so many great things about Clare at two. Maybe I should have started with these? She is so sweet with Christopher. She calls him Mr. Kisstopher (her pronunciation), and says "He's SO cute" all the time. After her naps, I hear her moving around upstairs, and then her little voice calling, "Mommy! I am coming to check on you!" She has a million questions and a trillion follow-up questions. She kicks a soccer ball like a pro. (Much to her Daddy's glee.) She loves music and dancing. She is into art projects, especially anything involving paint. She DOES NOT like animals or loud noises, but the list of Clare's fears (and her overreaction to them) is a post all its own. She is funny, and fun to have a conversation with.

She is just so TWO.


Friday, February 7, 2014

Chomp!

On Wednesday night, Christopher reverted back to newborn-style sleep, waking every two hours or so. Today I saw, or rather, felt, why. Teeth!

His first tooth has poked through on the lower right side. Clare got her first tooth right around this same age - four months. It is early, yes, but apparently teething, like so many things, is genetic. Both of my children got my early teething genes. How special for them!

I am glad I have this blog, because I have forgotten how to handle teething. Helpfully, though, I wrote that Clare liked chewing on a frozen wet washcloth. Off to the linen closet I go!

Happy weekend.

Edited to Add: Tooth number two on the lower left side = no sleep on Saturday night. Yippee!

Growing teeth is hard.