Monday, June 30, 2008


Ever notice that sometimes, your children change right beneath your eyes? I mean, I watch Helen closely, and I spend a lot of time with her, but I never imagined she could ride in the red car that brought Connor countless hours of joy since he got it for his first birthday. But then, someone comes to visit, notices what a fine sitter she is (and for the record, there have been few days over the past month that a complete stranger hasn't walked up to me to remark on what a good sitter Helen is), plops her in and all of sudden, she's cruising around the block and laughing.

You go girl!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

It takes a village...

to paint a picture with a toddler, while keeping a baby clean (though I must confess, the grandparents might do a good job only to have the mom come by and plop the baby's foot into paint - because wouldn't it be cute to add her footprint to the painting?).

Connor enjoyed painting with my parents, and Helen enjoyed chewing on a paintbrush that Connor shared with her. My mom was able to walk that fine balance of giving Connor plenty of paint to not stifle his style - without giving him so much that my entire deck got repainted in the process. Somehow, both my parents came inside with no paint on themselves, which is a feat I have not yet accomplished while assisting the resident artist.


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Simplifying life

"Does Wolf-Trap have any wolves?"
"Then maybe they should just call it 'Trap'."
"You're probably right."

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Two-person band

On Sunday morning, Connor invited Grandma and Grandpa over for breakfast. At his request, we made blueberry waffles. Before our guests arrived, Connor and I mixed the batter while Helen practiced her kitchen drums. It looked like so much fun that Connor abandoned our cooking project as soon as the egg was cracked in order to join her.

Between the two of them, they can make quite a bit of noise. Lucky for my parents, the concert ended before their arrival.

They seem to have quite a bit of fun in these games. Hope it lasts for many years.


Monday, June 23, 2008


Connor had but one request this evening before he drifted off to sleep. "Can you call Grandma and Grandpa and see if they can come visit us again tomorrow?" which I think pretty much sums up the fun we've been having since my parents arrived on Friday.

It was a great trip, and we're already looking forward to their return in a couple of months.


First tooth...real this time

I know I wrote about Helen's first tooth before, but I later had to amend that post - because she did not have a tooth. But now? As of June 15, Helen had her first tooth, with the second to follow on June 17. She's been quite drooly today, so possibly number three is on the horizon as well.


Friday, June 20, 2008

Happy (belated) Father's Day!

This year, Ed and I decided to join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). For a fee, we receive a random box of produce weekly. And, as a bonus, we get to visit "our farm" whenever we want and pick stuff. I can't even believe I am now part of the world that thinks this could possibly be a fun activity. After all, I am the child of a woman who, together with her sister, picked 50 pounds of strawberries a few weeks ago, in a couple of hours! FIFTY! I have memories of strawberry picking day in our house. Mom would drag us out to a farm and we would hunker down and pick strawberries while my dad got to hang out in some air conditioned office for the day. It was one of the few days when we actually got bonus allowance - yeehaw! Of course, I consumed more than my fair share of mom's homemade strawberry jam, and other treats, so don't feel too bad for me.

Anyway, I digress. We decided to make our first visit to our farm on Father's Day. They were having a fishing contest and our u-pick allotment of strawberries was quite generous. The plan was to pick some berries, check out the farm, and have some good old fashioned father son fishing. Only problem was, Connor loves to play with his fishing pole, and even Ed and I are not so stupid as to have the hook and line attached to it normally. So, we got out to the farm and didn't have a hook. No matter. After picking 9 pints of strawbeeres, we fed dried corn to some animals, climbed a hill full of tires, slid down slides, and Connor pedaled around in a tractor. Ed tried to ride with him (they were plenty big), but Connor told Ed that he would prefer to do it by himself because Ed was too big. He also told me that someday, he hoped he could go picking strawberries with grandma all by himself without me. You betcha, buddy.

But the best part of the farm? They have a huge ol' "kernel game". This is only cool because when Connor was less than a year old, and he enjoyed just sitting around, I filled up a little tub with popcorn kernels for him to play in (it was too cold to go outside). It was a great game - until Connor realized he could throw the kernels all over the basement. Oops. When I told my friends about my invented game, not a one thought it was a good idea. They uniformly looked at me and said "you did what? what were you thinking?". I'm telling you was fun!

And Helen's way of celebrating Father's Day? She said "mama" for the first time. Not as in, an actual word identifying me, just the syllables that Connor and I have been trying to get her to say for quite some time.


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Happy 34 months!

Dear Connor,

About a week ago, you turned 34 months old. I actually started this post on the 12th, but then life happened, and now I'm a week late in getting this post uploaded. It strikes me that this makes you awfully close to 3 years old, and I cannot believe I am almost the mother of a three year old. Wow. Just wow. After also being shocked at how old you are, your dad announced that your intellectual development seems to have peaked recently, so I guess it's all downhill from here, eh? Or, more likely, your dad is an idiot.

This month, much like previous months, you ran everywhere you went. It’s as if you have only two speeds – fast, and off. Fast makes me laugh constantly because, really, Connor, is it that exciting to head to your room for a two minute break, or to grab a toy?

You are becoming quite a worm finder, telling me one day that you and Mrs. T. were both very good at finding worms. And indeed, you are. Hopefully you are not already aware of this, but Connor, I do not like worms. I only pretend to be enthusiastic so as not to pass along all of my heebie-jeebies about things like worms.

One morning, you decided you wanted a spoonful of honey for breakfast, and you knew just the trick to get it. You looked up at your dad, secure in the knowledge that though he might be able to deny you candy before noon, he could never possibly deny something you requested via a quote from a book. So there you were, quoting Winnie the Pooh, and promptly being handed honey. And this is not the only time you quoted from a book in context this month. You also woke up one evening and recited a line from a Dr. Seuss about how you did not like your bed because it was too small. This did not gain you entry into my bed, but it was a valiant effort.

And speaking of getting up, you still snuggle, Connor, and for this I am grateful. On nights when you’re having a difficult time falling asleep, you will come out and ask if we can sit in the yellow chair. This, the chair we sat in while you nursed for possibly a thousand hours, until you turned 19 months old. This, the chair we sat in a few nights when you had a cold and couldn’t sleep unless you were held nearly upright so all the gunk in your nasal passages could drain. This, the chair I used to sit in on weekend mornings as sun streamed in the window, your father slept, and I read the morning paper. Those were good days, Connor, but these are good too.

You have become quite good at walking on the balance beam, jumping wildly into the swimming pool, and in general pushing your physical limits. And, you have the scrapes and scratches to show for it (or 'crapes and crathes, as you would say). I think those 'crapes give you some good playground cred.

In spite of the fact that you can drive me completely insane, on occasion, I am still enjoying our days. It's still a bit heartbreaking when you ask me "is it your at-home day" and I say "no" on my work days, and you quickly look to your dad and ask the same thing, and he also responds "no", and you get a little sad about that - even though I know you have fun without us.

I believe you get the 'best sleeper in the house' award again this month, though we did have to turn the 'ol wake-up light back on, as you had decided getting out of bed before 6:15 was an acceptable action a few days.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Could we be a little more polite, people?

I arrived early to Helen's appointment with the pediatric gastroenterologist because I did not want to risk being late and missing this appointment. When I arrived, I noticed two lines. The one on the right, which had about 8 people waiting in it, had a sign that said "primary care check-in". The sign on the left said "sub-speciality check-in". There were no people waiting in that line - but there was also no receptionist there.

I figured I might as well try the left-hand line, since it seemed to be where I belonged.

I went to the desk, and immediately, a receptionist that had been on the other side of the counter, working on something else, turned around and greeted me.

[Me] "I'm here to see Dr. R. Is this the right place?"
[Receptionist] "Yes. I presume this is Helen?"
[Me] "Yes."
[R] - woman pulls out folder sitting right in front of her with Helen's info in it - "She's so cute. You can wait in either waiting room and a nurse will call you in a few minutes."
[Mean lady in other line] "Excuse me, ma'am, but are you aware that it is not polite for you to go right up to the counter when there is a long line of people waiting?"
[Me] "Oh, I'm not waiting for primary care" (pointing to sign), "I'm here for a sub-specialty appointment" (pointing to other sign).
[Mean lady in other line with renewed nastiness in tone] "Well you could have asked. We didn't know that."
[Me] pause, staring at her trying to figure out what the heck was happening, finally saying "I think what you meant to say was 'sorry', in which case I will respond 'it's OK'". And I turned around and went to waiting area A.

Helen gets called almost instantly to get measured. The nurse - also named Elaine - and I chat for a bit. Then Helen and I go back to the waiting area. After playing for a few minutes, Helen gets a bit cranky and it's definitely time for her to be fed. So, I do what I always do in this situation, I feed her.

A few minutes later, Nurse Elaine shows up with a blanket. Mind you, I am holding a blanket on my lap. I obviously do not need a blanket. Nurse Elaine tells me I should cover up. I say "Sorry, it won't work, she doesn't like to have her head covered when she eats". Nurse Elaine "Well, you'll need to cover up because this is a pediatric clinic and not everyone here is used to seeing that."

Again, I pause, because the next thing out of my mouth probably would've been "this is a pediatric clinic" - but she clearly knows this. She must see the signs plastered all over reminding women that breastfeeding their baby is the best thing they can do for themselves AND their baby. I know nobody complained because nobody has left the room since I started feeding Helen.

Lucky for me, the very large loud-mouthed lady next to me who I have been chatting it up with ever since I started feeding Helen says to nurse Elaine "well they should be used to it", at which point I very lamely try and cover Helen up. Helen instantly kicks the blanket off, unlatches, and looks around - so now, rather than having an infant sitting in my lap nursing at least somewhat discretely, I have an infant looking all over wondering what the heck is going on and my obviously offensive boob hanging out. Awesome.

I had a moment where I felt like telling the nurse she should seriously reconsider having told me to cover up, and I almost used the bat phone to call my nursing friends to try and organize and impromptu nurse-in, whereby we would all just sit there nursing our babies just to annoy Nurse Elaine.

But...I needed to see Dr. R., so I didn't do any of this.

I have decided though, that if Helen is better by our follow-up in 1 month, I will let Dr. R. know that his nurse treated me wrongly and I will most certainly write the hospital. If she is not better, I will lamely wait until she is so that I don't risk having any personal issues with the Dr.

And for the record, I was not at some rinky-dink operation. I was at Georgetown University Hospital.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Top 10 things I love about my kids' pediatrician

10. He agreed to see Helen when I was nothing short of desperate for a pediatrician who would manage her jaundice at home. Really, I was a crazed woman on the phone. Looking back, I can't believe he agreed to take us into his practice, but he did, and I am still grateful.

9. He appreciates Connor's love of body art. He even has temporary tattoos in his office! When we went into the office to see if Connor had an ear infection, Dr. B. started the visit by admiring the 2 tattoos Connor had on his arms and the two tattoo band-aids he had on his skinned knees. His caring about Connor's beloved tattoos earned him major points with Connor.

8. His office is next to a playground. So, when Connor begs to go with me to one of Helen's appointments, I can send he and Ed or his au pair across the street to play. There's also a library across the street in case of inclement weather.

7. One of his partners is in a mom's group I just joined. Whoa boy is it going to be hard not to pester her for free medical advice.

6. He has an actual syndrome named after him. That's just cool.

5. He talks to me as if I am an educated adult who can read and understand information. He even seems to understand that we are partners in my children's care. He doesn't pretend to guess what I'm thinking and doesn't give a flip that my kids weren't born in a hospital. I appreciate this all...a lot.

4. He didn't give me any grief about not giving my kid a vaccine developed in the last couple of years that replaced a vaccine that was discontinued because of side effects not discovered until it was made widely available. In fact, he said "You do a good job managing your kid's care. It doesn't bother me a bit to skip this one."

3. He always tells me Helen is perfect.

2. Upon weighing Connor for the first time I pre-emtively said "he's skinny" and Dr. B. responded "fat never did anybody any good".

But, the number one reason that I love my kids' pediatrician is that dropping his name got me an appointment FIVE weeks early with a pediatric gasstroenterologist, which if nothing else, will at least make me feel as if I've left no stone unturned in my search for sleep for me and Helen. Please, gastro dude, find a magic bullet to end this nighttime pain!

Excuse me while I go simultaneously celebrate the upcoming appointment (Wednesday) and beat my head in the wall for waiting 26 months to find this nice man. If you don't like your pediatrician - run, don't walk - to a new one. My only regret is I didn't do it sooner.


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Happy Month 8!

Dear Helen,

There will be moments, when you find yourself so in love, that you will know that anything is possible. There will also be moments in your life when you will feel like a complete failure, and you will sob yourself to sleep. And Helen, if you are ever a mother, you will know that these seemingly contraditory moments can happen simultaneously.

After a solid two weeks respite from reflux, whereby your dad and I were once again able to sleep as if we didn't have an infant in the room next door, it reared its ugly head again. It was about as bad as it could get for 3 days - taking over an hour to soothe you into sleep at night, waking up obviously uncomfortable. Eventually, we had to pull out the big baby calming guns and your dad took you on a night-time constitutional. It's only fair that you got to experience this, as it was a regular feature of his evenings with Connor for the first few months of Connor's life. Only difference is, Connor used to get to go walking in the early evening when all the neighbor ladies could see your dad, and then tell me the next day what an awesome dad he was. Your walks were around 3AM, and anyone your dad saw at that time of day was not someone he wanted to see. It was so bad, in fact, that I thought about asking my parents to stay in my room when they come for a visit in a couple of days and let me stay at the hotel so that I could sleep. They would do this, you know, because they are that nice. But, I don't think it'll be necessary after all.

So, since I had totally missed an ear infection of your brother's, I figured it was worth going to the pediatrician to see if you had some good excuse like that for not sleeping. Turns out you're perfectly healthy. I suppose this is good news, but I really wanted an excuse for your tortured sleep, other than reflux. But, reflux is the best the doc had for me, so we have backed off of all solid foods (except for watered down prunes and oatmeal) and your system seems to be working again, and your sleep has been much better. Hopefully, there will be continued improvements in this department. Thankfully, your brother gave us a break and didn't even wake to use the bathroom during the worst of your nights. But then, true to form, on your first good night, Connor visited me three times.

You are not the most active baby on the block Helen, but what you do, you do well. And what is it exactly that you do? You sit. You sit inside, you sit outside, you sit with people, you sit alone, you sit on almost any surface I place you on and unlike your brother, if I left the room this month, you were almost always exactly where I placed you. Until a couple of days ago. All of a sudden, after being the champion of sitters everywhere, you have decided you would like to reach for things. I can tell already that nothing good is going to come of this. In the past few days you have developed a move where you reach as far as you can, until you are on your knees, and then you flop to your belly and roll. You still only roll from front to back, because clearly rolling both ways is not for someone of your cuteness. No, that would be too much effort for you. Apparently, this lack of interest in motion comes from me. Family legend has it that until I was about a year old, I laid on the couch and played all day. Just like you, I was reportedly a very happy baby. And, just like you, I had no interest in moving. Just like you, I had a sibling who was willing to do all that moving around, so why would I need to do it? In the past few days you have also inched your butt along as you turned to reach for objects and over the course of the month, you pulled yourself to standing a few times.

The most freaky think you did this month was go from lying down to sitting up at night. I placed you in your crib, like I always do, on your tummy. I left the room, you cried, I came back, and you were sitting. Turns out, you perform this stunt by curling your legs up beneath you and pushing up with your arms. It's rather impressive, and you have done it a handful of times.

I believe your dad has to take credit for your newfound desire to move. He plays a game with you where he puts you on the edge of the couch, counts to three, and you fall forward. You think this is the funniest game in the world. I reminded him that he played a similar game with Connor when Connor was little that involved rolling off the bed, only for Connor to discover that an important element of that game was having your dad ready to catch him. Ouch! So far, you have not attempted couch diving without your dad there to catch you, Let's keep it that way.

You still babble endlessly, but you have yet to throw me a bone with a "ma". You focus on "DA DA DA" and occasionally "na na" with a few thrilling yelps and hollers mixed in for good measure. On occasion, you will respond to a question Connor poses and he is so completely thrilled, and happy to translate what you said. Sometimes, you meet his queries with silence and he'll ask me in his very offended tone "why did Helen not answer me?". I have tried to tell him to cut you some slack, but I'm not sure that's sunk in yet.

We've started heading to the neighborhood swimming pool and you no longer despise water. In fact, if given a pail of water to play with, you can be quite content. Time for me to catch a nap before you and Connor wake from your naps!


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

On the edge of takeover

See the innocent children in this photograph? Does it cause you to tremble? No? Not even just a little bit? You must not be the mother of these children. Me? You better believe I'm trembling. Since Saturday morning, Connor has turned into a model child - even at mealtime. Not that little dude isn't always the picture of perfection, but sometimes (and lately this seems particularly true) he can really push my buttons. In fact, I'd started to think we had finally entered the proverbial terrible twos, and I wasn't excited about that as every parent of an older child tells me that it's actually THREE you have to worry about, not two, so if this was two - whoa doggie, three was going to be tough.

But something happened over the weekend. For starters, he asked if he could hold Helen and then actually asked me to get my camera. Usually, he's more interested in making funny faces at the camera than having his photo taken. At first, I thought this was incredibly sweet of Connor. But then, I started thinking, and I realized that this wasn't "being nice to your sister while providing Mom a nice photo op". No, that would be too simple. This is called gathering your army.

Next, I noticed at mealtimes, he hopped into his booster seat, ate most everything on his plate, and stopped torturing me by either spending the whole meal playing with his silverware or trying to cover up his plate with his placemat. In fact, careful observation has led me to notice he's been eating an awful lot of protein in the form of mussels and shrimp. I also noticed him eating two new fruits when Ellen offered them to him and while he and Ed were waiting for me at the doctor's office, they went over to a farmer's market and Connor chomped some cucumbers. At first, I thought "Wow, Connor might just be becoming a 'good eater'", but then reality hit, and I now realize Connor is just beefing up to prepare for a big battle.

I really started to catch on when I noticed at gymnastics, he was clearly doing some strength training. He bear walks across these bars with ease these days, something that tripped him up a bit just a few weeks ago when he started class. Lucky for me, class ended this week so I don't have to worry about him gaining additional strength for his planned takeover.

Finally, everything fell into place when I went to Connor's swim lesson tonight. This kid used to have a healthy respect for water. But now? He is completely willing to leap into the air and splash in the water. This leads me to believe that the upcoming battle Connor is preparing for may come by water.

I have also observed Connor sleeping better and occasionally, closing his door letting me know he's playing alone.

I'm on guard.

I'll keep you posted when hell breaks loose here.

Monday, June 9, 2008


I've been trying to do a little more cooking these days, and apparently Connor has noticed.

Ed put a new battery into the smoke detector and it beeped. Upon hearing the beep, Connor looked up at Ed and asked "Is Mommy cooking something?".

I'm only sorry Ed didn't fall off the stool he was standing on to replace the battery when he laughed.

Oh...and the reason Ed was replacing the battery? A few nights before I was roasting vegetables and set off the smoke detector. Not to fear, it didn't wake Connor - my child who can allegedly hear. I was not so lucky with Helen.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Sigh...It's official.

It's official, Teo is moving. Actually, it's been official for a while, but now that they have an actual house in Baltimore, it just seems a lot more real to me. When our au pair first arrived, and Helen was refusing to drink from a bottle, and Connor didn't seem too keen on listening to our au pair, Vickie trudged out to our house with Teo almost every day for two weeks - in the worst weather of the year!! - to help out. Later, Vickie let us join a weekly playdate that Teo had with another girl from our mom's group, which Connor completely enjoyed. For several weeks now, whenever I ask Connor if he'd like to visit another kid, he always shouts "AND TEO!".

Go get 'em Teo. We love you tons and look forward to visiting!


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Toddler logic

"Connor, would you like to stay up late tonight since you took such a long nap today?"
"Yes. But I'm not old."
"Is Mommy old?"
"Is Daddy old?"
long pause

Sunday, June 1, 2008

New Photos

Every three months, Connor had his photo taken by local child and pregnancy photographer, Liz Vance. Helen had her 3 month photos about on time, and we just went for her second photo shoot yesterday. Not sure if photos at 7.5 months count more for 6 month photos or 9 month photos. be a second child.

You can check them out HERE.