Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Back to normal

I never thought I would look forward to the day Connor hopped out of bed a couple of times after we put him in there for the night. But tonight I was glad to see that the old Connor has returned. He's decided to eat, be pleasant, and run around suggesting 3 million different things to do in the span of the next 15 minutes. This is in stark contrast to the last week, which was a bit unpleasant due to a monster cold that took him (and the rest of us) down. Good to have you back, Buster.

Oh Helen,

It seems as if you have decided once more that you are not keen on the bottle. This is causing me oh so much stress. I came home early yesterday, and you pretty much spent the afternoon nursing like crazy and then spitting up all over because your little tummy just wasn't built for the monster meals you were consuming. And then, naturally, you were up every 4 hours last night trying to make-up all those meals. Ugh!

Monday, January 21, 2008

My favorite thing about Connor

My very favorite thing about Connor, of late, is the way he says "Thank you Daddy for this lovely meal" after dinner each evening, even when he refuses to eat a single bite and comments on how "I don't like that" throughout the entire meal.

At least you have your manners, Connor.

Oh - I guess I also love that he's still super cute!


Sunday, January 20, 2008

First Tooth!

We've been looking at Helen's two front teeth for quite some time now, but the top of the first finally made it just the eensiest way through. Shockingly, Helen is seven months younger than Connor was when he got his first tooth. It is, of course, completely useless at this point, but in my family, we celebrate every tooth that comes in that wasn't put there by a very expensive oral surgeon or orthodontist.

CORRECTION: Whatever I felt when I first published this post was most definitely not a tooth. It's mid-April now, and there is no tooth in sight. But, I leave the photo and entry, Helen, so you know that even though you are my second child, I am clearly still a rookie parent. That - and I absolutely love this little hat!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Apparently, we need more talking friends

Ed and Connor went to hang out at JWTumbles during "Pay to Play" while Helen was supposed to be napping, but instead faked me out by napping for a half hour - a half hour I foolishly spent doing dishes instead of sitting on my behind, only because I was going to enjoy sitting on my behind reveling in the thought that I had a clean kitchen and no toddler - and then proceeded to cry because, oh I don't know, she has reflux, or she's teething, or she's just all of a sudden in a pissy mood because she realized she'd been too damn happy all day, week, month?!?

Anyway, while they were playing and I was trying to comfort a screaming kid with a half-clean kitchen, some 5 year old decided to converse with Connor at the top of a slide. Connor's reaction? He headed down the slide, ran to Ed and exclaimed "That kid was talking to me!" Only problem - seems as if little man was so excited by the fact that another little person talked to him in an intelligent manner (he reportedly said "do you want to go down the slide first?") that Connor forgot to answer, though he did go down first. And, to be fair, it's not that everyone Connor hangs out with regularly doesn't talk, it's just that they're 2, and that means they tend to say stuff like "What's Zoe do?" or "mine" or name objects they see, which I guess does not impress Connor nearly so much as a random stranger who asks him a question at the top of a slide.


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A vote of confidence in Ed from Connor

Ed spent his first full day with both children yesterday while I toiled away at the office. Apparently at one point, Connor picked up the phone.

"Hello, Mommy? Your baby is crying. Please come home."

Lucky for me, he doesn't know my phone number, because I might just have rushed home at his request, saving Ed from figuring out how to manage both children.

When I came home, Ed was all too happy to hand Helen my way and lay down on the floor. Connor even walked up to Ed and asked him if he would like a pillow and blanket. Ed was able to mutter "yes", before collapsing.


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Happy 29 months, Connor

Dear Connor,

Two days ago, you turned 29 months old. And the most remarkable thing I can say about you is that you have finally developed a thorough trust in the world. As a baby, you would cry every time I left the room, and those tears somehow seemed to shriek that there was the possibility that I would never return and you would be left in the middle of the floor ALONE forever. Finally, you learned to crawl, and I swear every time I left the room you would follow. S..L..O..W..L..Y B..U..T S..U..R..E..L..Y you would follow - and I always thought this was incredibly smart on your end - recognizing that you could now get to me should you need to, so it was unnecessary to pretend the world was ending when I left. Mind you, you still didn't like it when I left, but you had an action plan of how to deal with the situation and that made things bearable for both of us. Even over the past year, it's a rare person who you warm up to instantly and you definitely seemed skeptical of all newcomers. But this month, Connor, I am certain you trust the world. For starters, we went to your dad's parents home for 9 days and there was nary a day when you hung out in the background. Instead, you and Alisa were the best of friends, enjoying bowling, reading books, and playing. You were again excited when my parents came to visit for the week, and one day when they were here, we went to an indoor playplace and this place was a madhouse. Imagine if you will - something like 50 toddlers running around with the accompanying adults. You barreled right in and told Grandma to catch you as you jumped off the slide. You now seem to know that, at least for now, the world is going to take care of you. I only hope you're really old before that trust is violated.

You still seem to enjoy hanging with your sister, bringing her toys, and letting me know her mood. Your dad and I are both tremendously impressed that you seem to not be jealous at all of the attention she receives. You certainly join in activities that before you would've ignored because she's there and you want a piece of the action, but you show her nothing but love, and we are both grateful for that.

This week, we introduced two new games into your life and this is totally fun. For starters, I got a game of Candyland from a fellow Freecycler, and we've played about 200 games - and your record is impressive. It's almost as good as your dad's record against me in chess used to be. I don't know the number of days, but it was well over 100 when we would sit and play a couple of games of chess each night. Your dad had just taught me how to play and he won EVERY game. It was long after we started our chess obsession that I finally took a game from him. I seem to provide about the same level of competition for you in Candyland. But boy is it fun to pretend to eat all the M&Ms when you victoriously make it to the candy castle at the end. Lucky for me, you always share your pretend candy cache. Your dad also taught you how to play duck, duck, goose and though you won't be constrained by his idea of running in a circle, your rules are pretty fun.

The babies are still with us, though they don't seem to go everywhere with us anymore. They do, however, continue to pop up when it's convenient. Like, when I have too many things in my hands and I need you to carry something and lo and behold, you cannot because "I'm carrying my BABIES, Mommy!".

You attempted to master hopping on one foot - solely because of a tale your dad told you. One day, he was a bit drowsy when he was preparing for work and wore one shoe from each of two pairs. The next day, he left one odd shoe by the door which meant that each evening there were three shoes by the door, rather than the usual 2. Connor, you asked me about this third shoe every day. Until finally, I said "I don't know why your dad has three shoes. Ask him!" and you did. And he told you the reason there was one odd shoe was that some days at his office were "hopping days" and this meant that everyone had to hop around on one foot everywhere he went, so he only needed 1 shoe. I don't think you bought the story for a minute, but you did think his hopping on one foot was so impressive that you, too, attempted this great feat.

Your happiness is infectious, Connor. One day, your dad told your grandparents that he was going to go to bed at 8:00 someday, just so he could wake up with your energy.


Monday, January 14, 2008

Happy 3 months, Helen!

Dear Helen,

I ought properly title this post - halfway home. Why? Because I distinctly remember how much better things got when Connor turned 6 months old. In fact, leading up to your birth, your dad and I used to say that if someone offered us a deal where we could fast forward through the next 6 months of our lives, we would take it - in a minute. But then, of course, we met you - and I have to admit I'm pretty happy nobody offered me that deal. Because you see, Helen, when it comes to babies, I have hit the lottery with you. True, I still worry about you (probably needlessly in many cases) and at times you stay up late screaming in pain which is no picnic for anyone in the house (damn reflux!), and this month, you even decided you would wake up every 3 hours for a few nights running. But I can live with all this for this month, Helen, you have shown us your laugh. You pump and kick your fists with the best of 'em - and you can go at it for quite a while. Sometimes, the cutest little sound escapes your lips and if there was a way I could make an adequate phonetic representation of it here, I would - but mere letters fail to capture this sound. If someone out there is trying to decide whether or not to have another child, you should hear this sound, because you will decide right away that you must have another child just on the off chance that your child makes this crazy sound.

You can also grunt, and you continue to fart and belch with impressive force. So impressive, my dear Helen, that sometimes you wake yourself up and it is not uncommon for an adult to get fingered for your gas. But the spit-up? I hesitate to write this because every time I do, things go terribly awry, but it seems to be dying down a bit. You were still able to impress both of your grandfathers with a load that catapulted from your mouth to the floor at least once when they were visiting with you separately.

I headed back to work for a few days and during this time, you learned to use a bottle. Your father assured me you had acquired this skill, though I was a bit doubtful since it never seemed like you drank much when I was gone. And, on the first day your grandma and grandpa were babysitting you and Connor, I got a call from my mom asking if I had any suggestions for how to get you to take a bottle. The answer? Kick Ed. Technically, this wouldn't help you, but it would relieve a lot of stress I felt when I got that call. Lucky for your dad, he works further away than my steel-toed shoe can reach, so his behind was safe. I sent out a panicked e-mail to the Milk Moms and advice came back, and you buckled down and learned to drink quite nicely from that ol' bottle. I am sure Connor is astounded that any creature would not think the bottle was the coolest thing in the world.

As I mentioned, you had a few days where you decided to wake up every three hours. Since my parents were visiting during this time, you and I were both sleeping upstairs rather than bunking downstairs to give others in the family a break, and this meant that your daddy heard you wake up. Apparently, it got to him because one morning, he smothered his toothbrush with diaper rash cream instead of toothpaste. He noticed when the stuff hit his teeth. Ew! I give you full credit for this lack of functioning on his part. Way to go, babe!

If there was one thing in this world that you love, it's your bouncy seat. I can't say that Connor ever cared for this piece of equipment, but it suits you just fine. You enjoy looking in on the action, and you love when Connor or someone else comes up to you and talks to you. My, how you giggle. You especially love it when you've had just a little too much cuddle time with someone and you need your own space. Perhaps this is the early signs of you being a loner, and maybe eventually you'll turn into an ax murderer. But, maybe you'll just have some dipshit high school counselor tell you one day that you have a lot of 'inner anger' and that someday you're going to explode. This happened to your Aunt Linda in high school and we're still waiting for the explosion. Perhaps you take after her, so I try very hard to respect that you need personal space.

And today, Helen, though technically one day over the month (so properly belongs in next month's letter), you were in your daddy's arms and when you saw me you jerked your whole body in my direction and reached for me and I swear, I almost cried on the spot, especially when your dad confirmed you did it all by yourself. Because sometimes, I wonder if you really need me. With your brother, my place in life was clear. He pretty much dismissed all people besides me as "not the mommy" and therefore, not useful or necessary to him. He tolerated your dad, but he didn't seem to care whether he existed or not, so long as I was nearby. But you, Helen, you seem to react to all people pretty much the same. And while I assure you it is wonderful to be able to leave a room without inciting tears in a baby, it does mean - every now and then - that this small part of me questions whether you know that I am the woman who will have your back, no matter what, even after the first of us parts this world. Because that, Helen, is what a mama is for.


Thursday, January 10, 2008

Finally...someone to go to museums with

Every year, my parents used to toss my sister and I in the backseat of the family station wagon for two weeks. Two. Weeks. With. The. Family. I will not begin to describe these adventures, except to say that the definite lowlight for my sister and I were the moments my dad announced we had made it to a museum. A MUSEUM, GIRLS! It's FUN!

And then, we would pretend to be suffering from some sort of grave malady that rendered us unable to walk. We would look up at our mom - our only hope of getting out of this predicament - and plead with her to please, please, please let us stay outside in the burning heat and clean our toenails rather than endure the suffering of walking through a historical place.

Connor, though, he's a different sort of bird. He actually likes museums. His favorites are Air and Space and Natural History. A couple of days ago, Connor wanted to "go to the museum me and my daddy went to!", so off my dad and Connor headed to Natural History. Thank you, Connor. You are forever going to be the favorite grandchild after this move.

Thursday, January 3, 2008


Last night, I woke up (OK - Helen woke up, which woke me up) around 2:00 and the power was out. I have over 700 ounces of breastmilk stored in my freezer so that I don't have to pump as much when I head back to work. It would be a huge tragedy, in my book, if this milk was lost. So I plodded upstairs, fed Helen, and told Ed "the power is out" and he knew the appropriate response on his part was to get out of bed and call the power company and alert them to this crisis. Strangely, there is no auto response indicating what number on the phone to press if you are worried about your breastmilk thawing. Hmmm...perhaps a letter to customer service is in order.

In any case, Ed made the call. The power company already knew about the outage. Helen woke up, oh, I don't know, every 10 minutes last night, so Ed went to work super early. Connor came in to bed around 6:30 and I told him that our lights were not working and that he could hunker down under the covers with me if he wanted while we waited for the sun to light our house. He was game for a while, and then he wandered out to the sitting room while I fed Helen. By this time, it was getting pretty cold in the house.

Connor ordered "eggy bread" for breakfast, which is something I could fix without electricity (thank you, gas stove) and about halfway through I had Helen napping with a stocking cap on and Connor put on a fleece. Finally, I gave up and called my friend and we headed to her house for the morning. Her nanny was kind enough to let Connor tag along on a prearranged outing and Helen was able to nap peacefully.

Ed had drug the deep freeze outside so the milk suffered no ill effects. I wonder how many days I will wake up to Connor saying "do you remember when we had no lights and we had to go to Zoe's house?". Connor was definitely worried about the situation - though he seemed happy enough with the answer that "the guys" were going to fix everything. Helen seemed not to notice that anything was wrong.


Tuesday, January 1, 2008

The resolutions...

A few years ago, I decided to start making New Year's resolutions. The year I decided to drink more champagne (a resolution borrowed from a friend) I did pretty well. Last year, though, I pretty much failed. So this year, I'm writing 'em down - and come December 31, 2008 - I'm going to look back at this post and see how I did.

1. My number one resolution of the year is to try very hard, every day, to meet my children where they are. Since I've been home, I notice myself growing annoyed at answering the same question approximately 300 times each day. It drives me crazy. Mostly, it drives me crazy because Connor knows the answer to the questions he asks. I really think he's just trying to make conversation, and he's doing it the same way adults make conversation with him. How many times have I asked him something that I already knew the answer to? A lot. This year, when Connor asks me "do you remember when we saw that pussycat?" rather than saying "Yes, Connor, just like I told you two minutes ago, I remember." I'm going to leave the annoyance on the table.

2. Finish the damn summer sweater. Before I became pregnant with Connor, I decided to knit myself a very cute summer sweater. It's sleeveless, and the back has been finished a good number of years at this point. But the front? Well, the pattern is tricky, and whenever I cadge a few minutes to knit, it always seems too difficult to just pick up plus, it's not very fun to knit something that you're not going to be able to wear it. Unlike past summers, I will not be pregnant this summer or next summer, so I don't have that excuse.

3. Declutter my house. I am a packrat. I have only recently come to terms with the fact that my mother no longer stores the trophies I received for playing softball, participating in the pine tar derby, and other random childhood events in her home. Just imagine all the things I have in my home. Last year, I was going to do this - and I had a plan. Tackle one room each month. I got through Connor's room and my bathroom, and even tossed a bit of junk from the attic and part of my room. And then I was feeling awful while being pregnant, so I stopped doing anything extra, let alone a job that wasn't essential. Once the plan derailed, I was sunk. This year, I have pretty good motivation. We're going to undergo either a renovation or a move. If the former, I will kick myself for every box of crap someone has to take effort to carry that eventually ends up in either someone else's home or the dump. Rather than kick myself later, I'm weeding things out now.

4. Start the morning with a moment of thanks and some sit-ups. I returned to my pre-pregnancy weight within 6 weeks of giving birth, but not my pre-pregnancy shape. If you remember the Special K ads from years ago, I can tell you this. I can indeed, pinch an inch, or more. By the end of the year, I hope this inch has melted back into my body. And, while I do these sit-ups, I'm going to take a moment to be thankful for the good health of both of my children. Two ear infections for Connor, some jaundice for Helen, and a few minor colds are the sum total of their illnesses. I was recently reminded of my good fortune when my mom called to let me know that my cousin's daughter has relapsed with cancer for the third time. She just celebrated her 8th birthday. The drugs aren't working and the doctor is predicting weeks, not months or years. So when I take the time to be grateful for my own two children, I'm also going to ask desperately that a miracle is sent to Nebraska for Miss Sadie. If you have a god or higher power you pray to, please take a few moments every day to join me in this resolution for Sadie. She needs it.

5. My final resolution of the year is again, a failed one from last year. I want to get back into the pottery studio on a regular basis. It won't happen until the au pair arrives, but I already have big plans for some sushi sets, new mugs, plates, and a few bowls that I've been promising a friend for a long time.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

While Connor and Ed are out looking for digger trucks and checking how the construction of a bridge over a nearby creek is going and Helen is busy working off her New Year's Eve buzz - I figured I should enter this long overdue update.

I got a new camera for Christmas - a digital SLR - and I am loving it. Only problem is, I haven't yet recalled everything I learned in my Smithsonian camera class a few years back - so I'm hopelessly relying on the auto features, which means the camera is only an improvement over my previous digital in that it takes photos when I push the button, rather than me having to push the button and wait for the camera to have a smoke break before actually taking the photo. True - this is a huge improvement (and removes Ed's primary excuse for the numerous crappy photographs he has taken with the digital camera), but I want to wean myself from this feature and start really using the camera.

Christmas was lovely. We were at my in-laws, which meant Connor had a whole new set of toys to enjoy. He also got to watch a bit of bona fide children's television because his cousins watch a lot of it. One day, when we were alone in the house he told me "I think I would like to watch some more TV". I, naturally, told him "no, I'm worried your brain will start dripping out of your ear", and that was the end of the conversation. He also asked Ed once if he could watch TV, but Ed also said "no" (though I KNOW Ed will be the one to break the TV ban with Connor in the future on some weekend when I am under the weather or out of town and Ed wants a break). I guess Connor didn't think it was that great or he would've persisted. He certainly did enjoy it when it was on though.

He also had the opportunity to go ice skating for the second time in his life - but he wasn't too nuts about that. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that last year when he went, he was wobbly on his feet, so being wobbly on skates didn't phase him. This year, he's steady on his feet so he didn't enjoy the out-of-control feeling the ice brought. He did enjoy the post-skate popcorn.

He also went bowling for the first time and this was a total success. He and his cousin Alisa had a great time. Sad to say, I failed to bring my camera, so you'll just have to imagine this one. Connor heads to the bowling lane. Ed or I plop his 6 pound ball down. He pushes it with all his might. The ball rolls down the lane, ever so slowly, bouncing off the bumpers on the side of the lane. The ball finally reaches its destination and the first pin it hits falls down. But the next pin? The force from the ball is less than that of gravity, so the pin remains standing and stops the ball. Impossible, I know. But it happened many times.

Over this time, Helen has become quite the smiler. She spent most of yesterday perfecting her laugh, which is pure music to my ears. I am quite the comedian, at least in the infant world.

Connor has become expert at building blocks, and we had great fun building and undoing the tower beside him. He particularly loves "the little teeny tiny block that goes all the way on the top"!

I'm looking forward to lots more towers, trains, and everything else you throw at me in 2008, Connor. Helen, I'm crossing my fingers every day that this reflux ends soon - and not just because I'm tired of both of us smelling like vomit all the time! I'm also hoping that you can chat with some other babies who love the carseat and figure out a way to tolerate it. Can you believe it? Two kids with carseatitis. A true call to support public transportation.