Saturday, February 23, 2013

To My Dear Little SB at 11 Months and Change

My Dear Little SB,

How is is possible that you are almost a year old?  Surely, you just arrived last week, or maybe the week before.  Yet, I feel like I have known you forever, and always had you in my life.  You are such a sweet little soul.  When you look up at me, it is always with a smile that lights up your whole face, including your eyebrows.  You have one devilish little smile that you give me when you are being mischievous that I absolutely love, and which I call "giving me eyebrows."  You are overbrimming with joy every moment of the day, and you impart joy in everyone you encounter.

And how has it been so many months since I have written you one of these little notes?  Oh, I know for sure why it's been so long.  You are a busy, busy little baby, and have kept us on our toes!  A few months ago, I worried that you weren't meeting your milestones.  You were just about 8 months old, and hadn't sit up yet, let alone crawled.  But it turned out that you just weren't all that interested until then.  Then, just a day or two before you turned 8 months, you started crawling.  Yes, all of my books say that is impossible.  They say babies must sit up before they can crawl.  But not you.  You started crawling, then sat up a few days later.

For a few days, you were a bit of a slow crawler.  I went to work one morning, and you could barely move yourself.  But somehow, in the course of just a single day, you put it all together while I was at work.  When I got home at the end of the day, you could FLY!  You were crawling so fast, I could hardly believe it.  You were (and are!) like a little spider monkey, flying all over the place.  Right after that, you learned to pull up, and for the last few months, you have been pulling up on any old surface, even a flat wall.  You'll walk along the couch or a wall now.

This week, you also started standing up all by yourself from the floor in the middle of the room, without anything nearby to pull yourself up on.  Today was the first day I saw it for myself, while I was visiting with a friend here in our apartment.  Daddy says that you've been doing it for a little bit, that he's seen it before, but that he just didn't tell me.  He likes me to see things for myself.  He hates to spoil the surprise!  It was pretty awesome to see you stand up all by yourself.  You are still working on the walking thing, though.  It won't be long.

You still have only two teeth, the two bottom front ones.  You don't seem to be teething at all.  I wish you'd get more teeth, so you could eat more types of foods.  With just two front teeth, you are mostly able to eat mushy soft things.  But you like almost everything, and are a good eater!  You eat all fruits and veggies, except peas.  You don't like mashed potatoes, either, or cottage cheese.  But you like (baby food) turkey, beef, and chicken.  You like yogurt.  You like fresh mango and banana.  You love the Gerber puffed snacks, and Cheerios.   You seem indifferent to cheese.  But given all of the things you DO eat, I'm not concerned by the ones you don't.

We'll start in on regular cow's milk in a few weeks, and we will wrap up nursing soon.  You aren't terribly interested in doing it much any more, and increasingly drink your breastmilk out of bottles.  You don't like to sit still long enough to nurse.  You don't like to sit still for any reason!  It is a bittersweet moment for me.  I will not miss pumping, especially at work, but I have treasured our time together, our quiet moments.

You increasingly play with your big sister Miss M, which is such a joy for me to watch.  You seem to really enjoy each other.  She is so good with you, and knows just how to talk to you to make you laugh.  You love her toys, and mostly she shares with you.  She likes your toys, too!  I hope you will be friends.  I can already tell that you are likely to be two very different people.  More than anything, I hope you will both be very kind, very smart, very honest, and very good friends.  I will feel successful if all of the above are true!

You've been going to daycare for the last 8 weeks while your daddy took an intensive Spanish class, and the people at the daycare have really enjoyed you.  You will be home again with daddy starting this week, and he is eager to spend time with you again.  The daycare folks are sad that you will be leaving, because they think you are such a joy.  Your daddy and I are glad to have you out of there, though, because you have basically been sick the entire time you've been there.  You are currently on antibiotics for a double ear infection.  You've also had a vomiting illness, countless colds, and another digestive illness in the last two months.  Your sister was NEVER sick as a baby, but you are exposed to so many germs in daycare!  We feel bad, but it probably is good for your immune system in the long run to have been exposed to some of the germs and given a chance to develop some immunities to them.  At least, I hope so.  But regardless, blech.

You give the best hugs.  Everyone comments on it.  All of our friends want to hold you and get hugs from you.  You just fold your whole body into the hug, and squeeze your arms tight.  It's just what I need at the end of a long day.  You make everything better.

For Valentine's Day, Grammy and Grampa sent you and Miss M a huge, soft, stuffed teddy bear.  You love the thing.  You love to roll around on it, to squeeze it and love on it.  It's hilarious to watch.  I simply must get it on video so you can see it when you are older.  It's pretty adorable.  YOU are pretty adorable!

Speaking of Grammy and Grampa, we've been able to visit with them about once a month while we've been living here in the U.S..  You love Grammy.  You fall asleep on her almost every time she holds you, and she is proud of that fact.  It also cracks her up.  She says you just relax your whole body right into her and go to sleep.  I am secretly envious that she is able to put you to sleep so easily at any time of the day!

You refuse to sleep in your crib.  You are still sleeping in bed with me at night.  We are working on this.  You roll over and sleep on your own for long stretches, so I know you would be fine in your own crib.  You just prefer to be able to roll over and snuggle with me when you feel like it!  Soon, though, you'll need to be in your own bed, so that we can have ours back.  There isn't enough room for all of us, my dear!

You are saying "mama" and "dada."  You have been saying them for months, mostly on the rare occasions when you are upset and want someone to pick you up.  That generally only happens when you are tired and seeking a snack and a nap.  But still, I love to hear them.  It's awesome.  I'm trying to teach you to say Miss M's name, and Grammy, but so far, those are your only words.  Soon, I know it will be a steady stream!

You have thinned out quite a bit since you started crawling.  You burn a lot of calories during the day!  You are still wearing 12 month clothing, although we will soon get out the 18 month clothing.  I'm guessing you weigh only about 18 pounds or so.  You weighed around 17 in December, when we last got your "official" weight at the doctor's office.  It's funny to see you in clothing that Miss M used to wear, though--you are growing so much faster that you are already wearing things she wore at 18 months!

You are so very loved, my dear.  You have added so much to our lives, and I feel so incredibly lucky to be your mother.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.  I look forward to your first birthday in a few short weeks, and to watching you grow and change in coming months.


Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Failure to Communicate

Miss M and I were walking today, on our way to do an errand, and she was explaining her day at school.

"And then we xxxxzed,"  she said, but I couldn't understand her.  She speaks clearly most of the time, but occasionally a word crops up that I can't make out.  "You did what?"

"We xxxxzed," she said patiently.

"You walked?"  I said hopefully, knowing that wasn't quite the word.  I stopped and knelt down beside her so that I could listen more closely.

"NO.  We xxxxed.  We xxxxed.  WE XXXXED."  She said, speakly more loudly with each repetition, enunciating as clearly as she could.

In my Spanish lessons, when I don't understand a word, I have to ask for an explanation in other words, and the instructor responds in Spanish.

"Can you explain it to me?"  I said.

"You know," she said.  "You go 'one-two-three,' 'one-two-three.'"

"Oh, you WALTZED."

"Yes, mummy, we waltzed today."

Of course.  How could I fail to understand that my preschooler was waltzing?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

In Honor of My Favorite Bees

Just now I was wondering about the genesis of St. Valentine's Day, so I did a spoonful of research.  According to one Catholic website that I consulted, "St. Valentine was a Priest, martyred in 269 at Rome and was buried on the Flaminian Way. He is the Patron Saint of affianced couples, bee keepers, engaged couples, epilepsy, fainting, greetings, happy marriages, love, lovers, plague, travellers, young people."  I am deeply amused that there is a patron saint of beekeeping, epilepsy and plague, and that a single saint is responsible for all of them.  (And the story of his demise is a bit. . .horrific.)  But anyway, I think it's lovely that he's the patron saint of young people, happy marriages, love and lovers.  That's a whole lot of love.  And also, there's quite a bit in his job description which I had never known before.  Which got me thinking about being a mother, and how it's simultaneously nothing like and exactly what I imagined it would be, just like St. Valentine.

I definitely delayed motherhood because I thought it would be impossibly hard.  For many years (ie, my 20's and a chunk of my 30's), motherhood seemed like such a burden to me, something that was inherently difficult, but also something which was hard in a larger sense, because it prevented women from doing the things they wanted.  (Yeah, there is some baggage there--my own mother made a lot of sacrifices for us, and although she would never, ever put it in the terms I do, that was my perception).  Gradually, I came to realize that human beings have choices and free will, and that having a family wasn't incompatible with doing other things I love.  I ceased to see it as something that would prevent me from living my best life, but rather instead began to see it as something that would enhance my life and make my life even better.

But even still, I expected motherhood to be inherently challenging.  I fretted over the time commitment, the sleep deprivation, the million things that are hard about being a parent.  I did not enter parenthood lightly.  But my perceptions and my expectations were so much bleaker than my reality.  Parenthood has been such a pleasant surprise for me, in that I expected it to be so much MORE work than it actually is.  Admittedly, there are some hard hours, like those early days when it feels like the baby never sleeps and always wants to eat, or stomach flu days when you've woken up in puke and subsequently do nothing but deal with gross bodily fluids, or the day your kid bites someone in daycare, or the months you spend trying to potty train, to no avail. . .And yet, the hard moments are really not so bad, and they are mostly few and far between.

But what I really wanted to talk about, and what I really underestimated, was how truly fabulous life with two small children is.  It's all just so magical, Christmas and birthdays and first trips to Disneyland Paris and that time the unicorn appeared right on our doorstep and started farting rainbows, and. . .

Okay, it's not always "magical", but it's pretty great.  But those things I just mentioned, the holidays and big events, they are not my favorite moments.  Do you know what has been so amazing, so special, so important, what makes me so happy beyond any measure of happiness?

  • Laying in bed with Miss M at night after I read her stories and turn out the lights, and just talking.   We talk about her day and the next day and anything and everything in between, and I get to listen to whatever is going on in her little head.  Sometimes, it's fantastical things, and other times, it's a confession of whatever happened during the day.  Tonight she told me she hit another child at school because he was spitting at her for playing with the trains.  She just speaks in such an innocent and honest way.  I treasure every single conversation.
  • Doing silly, pedestrian crafts with Miss M.  Last night we made cards for her classmates for Valentine's Day, out of construction paper and stickers and lacy hearts that I bought at Tar.get.  It was such a blast to watch her little mind work.
  • Reading books with Miss M, and seeing what she falls in love with.  This week it was a Spanish version of Jack and the beanstalk, in which the giant (or, gigante) gets chile seeds in his eyes, starts crying, and transforms into the boy's father as the tears wash over him.  She loves books, too, but has her own taste entirely, and it's so fun to see how much she likes to go to the library and get new ones.
  • Holding SB in my arms, watching her beam up at me.  I could hold that child all day.  She is so smily, so loving.  Plus, she gives the BEST hugs, and has since she was a tiny baby.  I don't know where she learned to give such big, warm, embracing hugs, but she is JUST like her father in that way.  He also gives the best hugs.
  • Watching little personalities develop.
  • Watching my girls sit and play together on the floor.
  • Seeing SB light up when Miss M pays attention to her, and watching Miss M entertain SB.  She instinctively seems to know just the right pitch to use and what to say to make SB crack up, and it's hilarious to watch them interact.
  • Going for long walks with the girls in the stroller and T by my side, having long conversations as  we walk.  They are content to hang out and watch the world go by, and we finish up by hanging out at a museum or wherever we have walked to. . .pure bliss for all of us.
  • Seeing what funny, kind, honest, irreverent, happy, pleasant children they are turning into. . .(most of the time).
In short, it is the little things in our family life, the everyday, mundane, pedestrian, ordinary moments that matter most and which I love the best.  It is the moments when we are walking to catch the bus, her little hand in mine, or holding SB while I drink my morning coffee.  It's the quiet space in between the moments which matters most of all.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

I Won't Call it a Breakthrough....Yet

Have I blogged about our lack of potty-training progress? I am so permanently sleep-deprived, I honestly don't remember (will these winter illnesses EVER end?! Daycare is a cesspool of sick.). If I haven't, suffice it to say that Miss M has been less than interested in using the potty. She turned three last month, and has steadfastly refused to use it. She will not be bribed, begged, cajoled, reasoned with, or otherwise persuaded to do her thing on her pink potty. In fact, she is very forthright about the fact that she prefers a diaper to her Tinkerbell underwear, and she will pee in said underwear five seconds after sitting on the potty, while standing right next to it. Until today, that is. . .

Miss M has been refusing to eat lunch (super picky eating phase, and the subject of another post--she knows what she wants in life, that is clear). When she got home from school today, she was so ravenous that she ate a yogurt, three cookies, a pile of crackers, and two tubes of squeeze fruit/veggie mixes, as well as a glass of milk. When I sat her down for dinner a while later, she complained that her stomach hurt and refused to eat (I am a genius parent, but she so rarely eats that we got a little carried away today). When I went to wash her hands after dinner, I realized her little tummy was STUFFED! I tried to get her into her pajamas, but as I was changing her diaper, she said that she had to poop. I dutifully followed her into the bathroom, and sat with her while she sat on her potty. She got up a few times, but I had her sit back down, and we chatted about all of her friends that use the potty. Suddenly she yelled excitedly, "I'm pooping!" And I thought she was just saying it, but in fact, the blessed event had actually occurred. She commented afterward that it was giant, and she made us take a picture of it. I am giggling as I type that. Good lawd, was it funny. We made a really big deal of it, and of how proud we are.

. A while ago, My aunt gave her some pink candy corn as a potty treat. I thought Miss M had forgotten about it, especially since it's been a while and she hasn't eaten any. But as soon as her Mission was Accomplished, she asked for her pink candy corn reward for using the potty. And then at bedtime, she told me that we don't have any pull-ups, and I need to buy her the ones with Cinderella on them, because she is going to keep using the potty "again and again and again." She must have seen them at school, because we've never owned such a thing. But hey, I will happily spring for Cinderella if it means no more dirty diapers!