Monday, November 21, 2011

Miss M at 22 Months

Dear Miss M,

Every day, I sit and stare at you in wonder. How did we get so blessed with such a smart, funny, personable little kid? We are so lucky to be your parents.

You went back to New England with your dad in August when you were about 19 months, and had such a language explosion while you were there. We Skyped every day, and you shocked me every day with your new words and expressions. I was so worried about how it would be for you to be away from me, and how it would be for me to be away from you. It was hard for both of us, I think, but you did fantastic. You played on the beach every day and hung out with friends and took it all in stride. You would reach out your arms to me as though to give me big hugs through the computer screen when we Skyped, which got me through the rough bits. I missed you terribly. But, you learned to sleep in a crib while you were visiting grandma, and daddy says you didn't even put up a fight. We had NO chance of doing that while you were at home--it was major meltdowns every time we tried to put you in your crib. I was able to join you in the U.S. for the last week of your trip, and I was amazed that you slept in the crib even with me there. It was fun to play with you in the lake, and to watch how outgoing and personable you were with all of the friends and family that you hadn't seen since you were a tiny baby.

You were also able to play a key role in announcing your sister's impending arrival to our friends and family. We bought you a pink tshirt with elephants on it that says "I'm going to be a big sister." We put it on you the day we threw a big cookout, and sent you out into the crowd in it. We brought you by your uncle and grandfather first. Your uncle caught on quickly, but grampa was a little slower to pick up on it (probably because he wasn't wearing his glasses!) It was a fun way to tell everyone, and you certainly enjoyed running around to show everyone your shirt.

We went to your other grammy's house for a week after that, and you had a great time playing with all of the toys there. You were also a champion shopper, as I ran all of the errands we needed to accomplish there. We went to the most amazing amusement park for toddlers, too, and you had just a blast on the rides. You sobbed every time we took you off the merry-go-round. You thought that was just the best. It was a joy to watch your face as you rode round the merry go round on the pony, and waved to daddy as he passed by. It was a fabulous day.

And sure enough, when we got back home at the end of the trip, you went to sleep in your crib without protest, and you've been sleeping there ever since. You don't even mind taking naps. You cheerfully say "nuh-night," we pop you in the crib, turn on your sheep (which plays whales sounds, which you don't like, but ocean and rain sounds, which you love), and you either chatter away to yourself for a bit, or you go right to sleep. No fussing even at nap time! I can't believe that you transitioned so well, and so fast. We are all sleeping better as a result.

Since your trip back to the U.S., it has been just amazing to watch your language develop. I made a potato-leek soup recently, and you insisted on having a bite. "I don't think you'll like it," I said. You took a bite, then pronounced "I like it." Today I asked you if you had had a good day with daddy, and you said "maybe." You are constantly making your preferences known, and I love every minute of it, even when you are being obstinate. Actually, I might love those moments best (even when I have to discipline you for them), as I love watching your little personality develop. You are smart as a whip, too. You can count to 15, and you know the alphabet. If someone is singing the alphabet and stops, you will continue on exactly from where they left off. You can put all of the shapes through the correct holes in the shape sorter. You are also working on your colors, although everything seems to be both "blue" and "yellow" these days. I have faith you'll get there, though, and that it will be soon, given how quick you are to master new tasks. You also like to point to letters on the computer keyboard and on the alphabet that is hanging on the wall, so I think you will soon recognize the letters, too! You are also quickly learning songs like "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star," "Row, row, row your boat," and "Itsy Bitsy Spider," complete with hand gestures. And every day, something new! When one of our friends stopped by the other day, someone you see perhaps once a month, you asked where her husband was, by name. It just amazes me to watch you make these kinds of connections.

You are a pretty good eater these days, too. Everyone at home in the U.S. was impressed by your diverse palate. As your mother, I of course worry that you aren't eating enough of the right stuff. You still love dairy--yogurt, cottage cheese, cheese, and milk. The only things you will drink are milk and water. You love chicken, and will eat piles of it, and do fine with meat, as well. You love fruit--blueberries, in particular, but also strawberries, apples and plums. I can't get you to eat banana. I think it's a texture thing. You feel the same way about melons, and won't go near them. I tried to feed you mango yesterday, and you refused to try a bite. We are doing very poorly with all vegetables. You won't eat any of them. In desperation tonight, I tried mixing equal parts vanilla yogurt, mashed sweet potato and mashed apple. Success! I wonder how broccoli-pear yogurt might fare? Hmmm. . . .We don't feed your junk food or sugar, with one terrible exception (I blame daddy!): french fries. You love them. When we were at a restaurant with friends a month or so ago and you saw them come out on someone's plate, you did a double fist pump and said "yes!" When we pass restaurants on the street that have advertising pictures of them in the windows, you get terribly excited and shout out "french fries!" I even caught you begging them off another table in a restaurant recently. Of course, the women thought you were so adorable that they wanted to give you some. But, you barely ate pizza or birthday cake when you attended your first birthday party recently, so I think we are mostly doing okay.

We did a follow up appointment with the specialist pediatrician a month or so ago, and you are FINALLY on the height-weight charts. You are in the 9th percentile for height and something like the 3rd for weight, but you are on the charts at last. You seem to finally be growing normally. I suspect that you were so very active at such an early age, and developing so fast mentally, that you burned every calorie you consumed.

You continue to grow by leaps and bounds every day, and daddy and I struggle to make sure that you are stimulated enough, whether it's by playing in a new park or by new adventures. We recently took you to Scotland for a long weekend, and you adored the hotel pool. You've been afraid of the shower for a while now, but they had showers at the pool that were warm water, and with sprayers at all levels. You were intrigued by these, and played in them for almost as long as the pool. it was fun to see what a water baby you are. You kept wanting to swim away from us, even though you can't yet swim. We are enrolling you in swim lessons in coming weeks, which we think you will adore. Plus, given your affinity for water, we want to be sure you learn to swim at an early age!

We took you to your first art class recently. You sat and made a little spider armband and painted a bit on a pumpkin cutout before you got bored. You enjoyed sprinkling the sparkles, but then decided you would much rather wander around the room, or even worse sit on the lap of an older kid and try to muscle in on their art projects. You love hanging out with other kids, no matter how much older they may be. We think the art class is probably a bit too structured for you right now, but we are looking into music and dance classes that might let you play with other kids and be a bit more free, while still providing a bit of structure. I think it will be good for your to do something with some structure. I worry that when it comes time for preschool, you will be far to independent to conform to someone else's schedule!

Tonight we were playing after dinner. We read a book, then we colored, then I asked you to get out your musical instruments. You have a drum, a tambourine, maracas, and a little piano. You played the piano while I banged about on various other instruments. You started saying "one, two, three, one two three" to a rhythm as we went along. Then you paused, and went over to scavenge among your other toys. I thought you were done playing music with me. But you came back just a minute later, toting your sunglasses. You put them on, sat back down on my lap, and went back to playing the piano with your little rhythm. It was priceless.

You are really into buckles right now. When we aren't looking, you climb up into your high chair so that you can snap the straps together. Any backpack left lying around gets similar treatment. You are just fascinated by things that you can fidget with. You've been dragging around Dressy Bessy, who has so many things to play with. Duplos are a favorite, too, although you still get frustrated when you can't get them apart. You are also really into toilet paper. We can't leave it on the roll, lest you toilet paper the house. You are never out of our sight for more than a few seconds, but it is remarkable how fast you can move and how much you can accomplish in just a few seconds!!!

You enjoy a good book. For a long time, I have encouraged you to "pick a good one and I'll read to you." You recently went and selected a book, then turned to me and said "it's a good one." I'm just amazed by the things you come out with, and your proper use of vocabulary. The most amazing thing to me is that you correctly use words pretty much all of the time. I rarely hear an incorrect word usage or incorrect pronoun. And, you frequently know things that shock me. For example, you were running around the house with some paper money the other day, shouting "money!", and you also correctly held up a credit card and said "money." How do you know those things at your age?! How do you know that money is actually money, and not just some colored piece of paper? After all, the money here comes in all different colors. It is just fascinating to me.

You also love to use the phone. On weekend mornings, you will go to the telephone and say "call grammy please." I have to gently remind you that grammy is still well asleep when we wake up, given the time difference! It is adorable to see how into it you are. You actually prefer to talk on the telephone to Skype, because then you can carry the phone around with you. Plus, you love to push the buttons. You do enjoy seeing grammy, though, especially when she has a cat in her lap. All of her cats have inexplicably become named "Spanky," which is the name of her cat which you most enjoyed tormenting when we visited.

You are also quite the little tv monster. We try to limit your television to a little in the morning and a little at the end of the day, but you beg for more, fussing "tv remote" at us when you want us to change the channel. You try to sneak to the remote and attempt to change the channel yourself, if you don't like what the adults might be watching, and sometimes you even succeed! Your favorite by far is Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, but you are also a big fan of the Tinkerbell movies. Toy Story and Cars are also favorites. You also know that we have these things on our iPad and iPhone, and you will watch them at a moment's notice if given the chance. During a recent trip to Normandy, you sat peacefully through an entire train journey, watching videos on the iPad. Hopefully we are not stunting your intellectual curiosity by letting you watch videos at such a young age! We took you to a live Disney production recently, and you were mesmerized, sitting patiently through nearly two hours. You would giddily turn to me periodically, just in awe of what you were watching. It was magical to watch. I think I spent more time with my eyes on you than I did the show!

I am so looking forward to the holidays with you. I know that Santa is going to be bringing you lots of goodies, and I am excited to watch you open them. Then shortly after Christmas, we have your birthday to look forward to, and then the birth of your little sister. You don't yet have any idea that she's coming, although we've told you. You sometimes pat my rapidly expanding middle, but you don't quite get the concept that you will soon have a sibling. I know you will have fun with her, even as you are at times challenged by her presence. I hope you will be close and always have each others backs. That's what I want most for my girls.

I love you, my dear daughter, more than I ever could have imagined I could love anyone or anything. Life with you just keeps getting better and better. I am so enjoying being on this journey with you, watching you grow and change, and teaching you new things. I am so very lucky to be your mother.


Friday, November 11, 2011

Where Have I Been?

Time is rushing by me faster than I ever imagined it could.

Miss M is 22 months--a joy that I will save for a separate post. She is full of light and laughter and words and SENTENCES, and cracks me up all the time. Tonight we were watching tv while she played with her toys. There was a scene where a character was very ill, and all of the other characters were very upset about it. She looked up and said "people sad." I just loves that she gets what is going on around her.

I am 23 weeks into this pregnancy. 23 weeks!!! How did that happen? When we first got pregnant, a nurse warned me that this pregnancy would fly by, and that I'd have no time to sit with my feet up on the couch and enjoy it like I did when I was pregnant with Miss M, and boy was she right! Every day is packed to the gills. Right now, all I do is work, play with Miss M, prepare for Thanksgiving (we're having 20 people over!!! And you should see the size of my dinky European oven!), and Christmas shop (online, at night, when Miss M is asleep--Toys R Us is having a buy one-get-one-half-off sale on Legos and Duplos through Saturday, if you have a child who is obsessed with them like mine is). We had our big scan a few weeks ago. Numero Dos is still a girl. Everything looked pretty good on the ultrasound, and they gave us a video of the whole thing, and photos, and 3D photos. In the 3D view, her bone structure looked very much like Miss M's did when she was a baby. It was cool to see live, but the 3D photos are a bit creepy, I have to say. The only odd finding, which I'm trying not to freak out about, was that there are choroid plexus cysts in the baby's brain. We were assured that these have no real clinical significance, and generally disappear on their own with no impact on development. Dr. Google is similarly reassuring. There are some studies that suggest such a finding is linked to genetic disorders like Trisomy 18, but we did CVS and it came back clear for that. So, I've been trying to ignore that finding. The upside to staying so busy is that I don't have time to worry myself over every little thing like I did with much of Miss M's pregnancy.

Work has continued to be insanely busy. We have more staff now, so it will hopefully slow down, but it's been more than I'd hoped for, frankly. I'm enjoying it immensely, but I'd like there to be less of it. I'm traveling a ton. Mostly day trips, but still. My inbox is overflowing and I have piles of emails to return. I feel like I will never catch up, and I am hopelessly behind on the bureaucratic stuff. Like receipts. I hate expense reports. Can't someone just give me carte blanche with a credit card, and we'll call it a day?

We've done a bit of traveling recently--a long weekend in Normandy for fun, and a week and a half in Scotland for work. T and Miss M were able to join me in Scotland for part of the trip, and of course the best part was playing in the gorgeous hotel pool. Miss M loves to swim. We're going to be enrolling her in lessons, possibly starting this week. Normandy was amazing--charming old stone villages and good food. It was also heartbreaking to see all of the WWII stuff.

I am feeling good. I overdid it a bit this last week hiking and dragging around my luggage and my back is a bit sore, so I treated myself to a pregnancy massage today. I can't decide if it actually helped at all. I will definitely be sleeping with my hot water bottle tonight. I am such an old woman.

And although it has nothing to do with me personally, can I just rant for a minute about the Penn State child sex abuse scandal? Grad student McCreary walked in on a 10 year old being raped, and walked right out again? He did NOTHING to intervene? Really??? And then he told other people, and no one reported it to the police? With all that has happened with the Catholic church sex abuse scandal in the U.S. and was actively happening and all over the news during the timeframe in question, no one thought to go to the police? Really??? Let's set aside the legal requirements for a moment. Everyone anywhere in that chain of knowledge, from Paterno to university officials to other coaches, are absolute scum. I don't care how many games they won or how much money they have made in PA. You don't walk out on a child being raped. You save the child. Period. You SAVE THE CHILD. And you don't make the call on what did happen or what should happen--you hand the information to the police, and you let THEM make the call. That's the job of law enforcement, not football coaches and school administrators. I also have to say, I don't understand the reaction of the community/students who support Paterno. Paterno is not god. He is a man who was good at his job. But as good as he may have been at his job, he also knew about child sexual assault, and did nothing. That is utterly unacceptable. Maybe his age played into it--when he was a young man, people did look the other way at pedophiles. But we don't live in that world anymore. My heart breaks for those children who have been victimized by the Penn State sports establishment. Sandusky isn't the only one who needs a trial.

I haven't been anywhere near the internet lately, so I am way behind on what everyone has been doing, but I promise to catch up soon. I hope everyone is well!