Wednesday, February 24, 2010

He's a Mover and a Shaker

Since most of the updates lately have focused on the girl child, I figured it was time to feature the he-child. Mr. B will be six months old next week! He is getting very close to crawling and my guess is that he'll have it down in a few more weeks. He still survives solely on breast milk (which is what is recommended by pediatricians and, by looking at him, it's obvious that he is getting enough!). He does have a very keen interest in food and watches and tries to grab everything that goes into our mouths, one of the indicators that he may be ready to start solids in a few more weeks. If he can master this crawling thing, he'll be able to crawl right over to the pantry and grab himself a snack- how convenient!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Crocodile Song

Between this, "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" and "Do You Know the Muffin Man?", who needs a radio or iPod?

Crafty and Sassy

On days when we don't have an outing or play date scheduled, I like to do something creative with the kids or have a small lesson on a certain topic or subject. H really seems to enjoy it and Mr. B is a fairly willing participant too.

One of our activities this week was making stamp art! Our first project was hand stamping. We made a wreath of hands. The pink and purple hands are Miss H's and the slightly smaller blue hands are Mr. B's (trying to get an infant to put his hands on the paper and not into his mouth was more difficult than I had anticipated!). The gold "berries" are H's thumbprints. Though she doesn't usually like to get her hands dirty, she seemed to really enjoy this activity.

Next, we made our own stamps using fruit! We carved a nectarine and then used it as a stamp. Miss H thought this was really slick and she did a great job of stamping on the paper and then putting it back on the stamp pad to get more ink.

Since my own artistic abilities are VERY limited, preschool-age arts and crafts are about as fancy pants as it gets around here. While my previous life was not spent as an artist nor as a preschool teacher, my "pre-kid" career did make me very tolerant of messes and generalized chaos...probably a good thing when a project involves fruit, stamp pads, toddlers and little hands!

Little Turd

For the past, oh, eleven months or so, we have been slowly, gently introducing the idea of the potty to H. At first she was excited. Something new to sit on that also makes a great hat! By about eighteen months, I thought we were on the homestretch to being diaper-free as she was eliminating in the toilet several times a day and would voluntarily go in, remove her pants and diaper, sit down and go, wipe and then tell me that she was done.

However, just as quickly as she became enthralled with the potty she decided that she was unimpressed. Though she never had a bad experience or anything to give her an aversion to it, one day she just woke up and decided that wearing diapers and sitting in a mess was just fine with her. We didn't want to make it into a battle and possibly make her even more resistant so, on the advice of our pediatrician, we just continued to very gently encourage the potty in a no-pressure sort of way and waited. And waited. And waited.

To be perfectly honest, I was getting slightly irritated with the whole situation. After all, she seems to be reasonably intelligent. She can count in English and Spanish, she knows all of the letters in the alphabet in upper case and most in lower case and she talks about evaporation being the reason why she's cold when she gets out of the bath. She can point out her femur and her patella and she has memorized the words to several of her books. Even our cat, who I certainly wouldn't consider to be a highly intelligent creature, figured out how to properly eliminate in his litter box within a few DAYS. I was starting to wonder if H would be "that" kid who went to kindergarten in diapers or if I'd be wiping her bum for her when she went off to college.

I know that peer pressure isn't always a good thing but one of H's little boy friends (a friend who happens to be male...don't think there is any romantic interest, though he is an awfully cute kid) appears to have saved the day. When we were over at her little buddy's house for dinner last weekend, her newly potty-trained friend went to the toilet by himself about three times. Since little kids usually follow each other everywhere, H followed him into the bathroom and watched very intently. She seemed especially intrigued by the big celebration that occurred at the end of the "production".

Her little friend and his bathroom adventures were all H could talk about for the next several days. Soon she was trying to go to the "big boy potty" just like him. If she was a boy child, she would have had it down pat. Unfortunately, the anatomical differences called for a few modifications since, while she had the standing and shaking part down, that doesn't exactly work for a little girl. However, she is now very focused on the potty and seems to have realized that it may be a better place to eliminate than in her own pants. Who would have thought that I would have been so happy to have a boy drop his pants in front of my daughter?!?

Now that I have observed her bathroom habits a bit more closely, it makes total sense why it has taken this long to get her toilet trained. Yes, she is almost 27 months and some kids are out of diapers much sooner. However, being the strong-willed and independent little soul that she is, she not only wants to sit on the potty and go, she wants to take off her own pants and underwear, climb onto the full-size adult potty by herself without help, go, wipe herself, climb down, flush, put her underwear and pants back on and wash her hands (with soap) all without assistance. Nothing like going from the bunny slope straight for the black diamond!

My dad used to ask my why I always did things the hard way and why I never wanted to accept help. Well, I still don't know the answer to those questions but, from the looks of it, there may be a genetic component. Though sometimes Miss H's stubbornness and independence makes me want to pull my hair out, when she can take herself to the bathroom and emerge fully re-dressed with an empty bladder (or colon) and washed hands, it may all be worth it. And worth the 27ish months it took to get to this point.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler

Bon Mardi Gras 2010!

Official Mardi Gras boob inspector.

Our candy and bead collector.

Happy Fat Tuesday! Off to get "ashed" tomorrow!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Awesome, Beautiful, Fantastic, Wonderful, Amazing Sleep!

So for the past few weeks I've been sniveling about how I haven't been getting much sleep. I whined to my momma friends. I was grouchy about it with Hubby. I finally ended my pity party and very convincingly told myself that someday these precious kiddos will be grown up, moved out and then I'll miss the energy, activity, and lack of sleep in my life. Well, something miraculous happened. When I stopped complaining and stopped caring about the lack of sleep, Mr. B suddenly began sleeping MUCH better. Like 4-6 hour stretches instead of a mere 1-2 hours at a time. I have re-entered the land of the living and no longer feel like a zombie!

I'd think it was just a coincidence but, oddly enough, the same thing happened when I was dating. I had really stopped thinking about finding a husband and didn't particularly care if I was in a serious relationship because I was very happy with my life. I had a career I enjoyed, wonderful friends, amazing parents, fun pets and I felt very fulfilled. I had done a good job convincing myself that I could be single and happy forever...and then, less than a month later, I met Hubby. So much for life as a single lady!

I'm not sure if this reverse psychology will work again but, heck, why not give it a try? I'm going to decide that I'm very content with the varicose veins on my legs and the wrinkles that are trying ever so hard to take residence on my forehead. I'm going to decide that I love my outie belly button that, despite being five months post-partum and losing all of my baby weight, has yet to go back "in". I'm going to convince myself that I love winter and cold weather. If the varicose veins and wrinkles magically disappear, my belly button goes back in and the snow suddenly melts, I'll let you know. For now, I'm really enjoying this thing they call sleep.

Baby Mozart and Beethoven

Last week was Miss H's first music class of the winter term and her first session in the 24-36 month section. She was in the 0-24 month class for four consecutive terms so it was definitely time to graduate to "big girl music class"! We enrolled Mr. B in his first session so he made his music school debut in the 0-24 month class. We were fortunate enough to get them both registered in different sections at the same time and on the same day so Hubby and I can each take one child to class and we only end up spending an hour at the music school instead of half the day!

Hubby took Miss H to her class and reported that she really enjoyed it. She adores her teacher and has always been and still is the teacher's pet. The teacher always comments on how sweet she looks and on how eager she is to participate. Obviously she doesn't see her at home when she gives us the "go to hell" look or when she lays down on the ground, refusing to move or do whatever we've asked and tells us "I'm a sack of potatoes."

During her class she played a giant xylophone, sang songs and read books, several of her favorite things. She looks forward to music class all week and always tells us "Music class! I'm so excited!" as we're driving there in the car.

Mr. B is the youngest student in his class but, like almost everything else he does, he took it all in stride and was full of smiles. When the teacher passed out the puppets for a sing-along, a huge grin spread across his face as we received the cow puppet. I'm not sure if he was so pleased since he likes anything that produces milk or if he was just really happy to have a toy that his big sister wasn't trying to take away. Either way, the first class was a success and we think he'll enjoy getting to go to his own class instead of just tagging along on all of Miss H's play dates and toddler activities.

We're not very hopeful that either of our children will be musical proteges since, if you've ever heard Hubby or me try to sing or play an instrument, it's nothing to write home about. However, we figure we're helping develop their "right" brains and hopefully become well-rounded children and adults. And, heck, if they end up liking Dave Matthews or Lady Gaga better than Bach and Chopin, it's probably not the end of the world.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Puzzles, Chocolate and Sitting

These are a few of their favorite things...

H loves puzzles and is frighteningly good at them. She can find the pattern in one piece and matches it to the neighboring pieces and will patiently turn it and reposition it until she makes it fit. She received this giant floor puzzle for her birthday and "playing puzzles" has become one of her new favorite pastimes. This puzzle is dual purpose and also serves as a good resting mat!

I think the saying that "Man cannot live on chocolate alone but woman sure can" is true indeed! While Miss H is not a very food-motivated kid and will often take a few bites of something tasty that the "average" toddler would eat such as pizza, ice cream or grilled cheese and then politely say "No thank you" and declare herself officially done, I am fairly certain that she would eat chocolate until she popped.
Last week we went on a tour of a local chocolate factory. While I was expecting something on the scale of Willy Wonka, it was actually much smaller and Oompa Loompas were nowhere to be found. However, there was a faucet that had warm chocolate flowing out of it and H pointed at it and yelled "A chocolate sink!" and we got to see a 36 inch tall chocolate Easter bunny that was being made. It was a fun field trip and we especially enjoyed the sampling that capped off the end of the tour.
In the photo above, H searched through my purse until she found this chocolate lollipop that I'd bought her for Valentine's Day. When my back was turned, she unwrapped it and began helping herself. She wasn't very pleased when I took it away and made her save the rest for later but, as we all must eventually learn, moderation is key, even if it's something that tastes so darn good.

Our little lad is five months old and he's getting a new perspective on life! While he's not 100% steady while sitting just yet, he does a good job for about 20 seconds before he topples over. Of course, the intrigue of his feet and surrounding objects often diverts his attention and makes it hard to focus on just sitting.

We have a busy, fun month ahead but we're also enjoying some simple, everyday pleasures- getting puzzled, sweet treats and sitting for some quiet reflection (okay, so maybe the reflection isn't so quiet with the household dogs, cat and a toddler...).

Thursday, February 4, 2010

For My Children

To my children-

When you made me a mother, you promoted me to the best job in the world.
Giving birth to you is proof that our bodies can create living, breathing miracles.
Nursing you and watching you grow bigger and stronger has given me a whole new appreciation for my body's ability to nurture and provide.
Looking into your beautiful, trusting eyes makes it clear that I never want to let you down.
Witnessing what the love of two people can create has deepened my bond with and appreciation for your father and added even more glory and magic to our marriage.
Seeing you smile fills my heart with indescribable joy.
Watching you grow, learn and flourish gives me a sense of profound accomplishment.
Caring for you has reaffirmed my gratitude for how my own mother cares for me.
Hearing your laughter brightens any day and makes my heart glad.
Your innocence and purity gives me hope for the future.
Your pain, illnesses and injuries trouble me as if they are my own.
Waking up to your your precious face shortens the longest of nights and gives me reason to look forward to each new day.
You made me a mother and a mother I forevermore will be.
It is an honor and a privilege.
Thank you.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Slowing Down

What's new with our family?

Well, Miss H went back to the doctor to get her arm rechecked last week. Prior to her visit, we talked about what to expect- the doctor, how she was going to show him her arm, how he would probably want to remove the splint and touch and examine her arm and how she might even have another x ray. She seemed like she was going to take it all in stride and, for the entire day before the visit she talked about "The doctor who is so nice and gentle" and "We're going to check my arm to make sure it's okay after I jumped out of my crib". Well, when we arrived at the doctor's office, apparently she had a change of heart or got stage fright. She refused to let the doctor (who she has known for her whole life and who is an incredibly great guy) get near her, not to mention remove the splint and examine her wrist. Finally, though it was difficult to tell with all of the howling and squirming, we determined that it seemed to be healing fine and was not causing her any pain. We took some repeat x rays just to confirm and, sure enough, everything looks good! The doctor did call to follow up this afternoon and, while H was not impressed with him during the appointment last week, she sure did have a lot to say to him on the telephone today! Sheesh, the kids these days who like to call, email and text but can't have a real live conversation!

On your mark, get set....It's almost go time! Mr. B has gotten very good at moving across a room. He pushes up on his hands and knees and scoots backward. It's not exactly crawling but it's locomotion nonetheless. Miss H is going to be smarter than me and Mr. B is going to be crawling by six months....I think we're going to be in trouble! At this rate they'll be doing house repairs, re-programming the television and buying stocks and bonds online if we don't keep close tabs on these two.

A few girlfriends and I have started a once-monthly lunch club. We're all current or former coworkers but several of us are now "employed" as full-time moms. The plan is to choose a lunch spot that one of us has been wanting to try and to go someplace new every month. We had our first outing last week and it was fantastic! The group consists of an American, two Canadians, a South African and an Australian- sort of like the United Nations!

Finally and most notably, the biggest news in our household is that we are making progress on our quest for sleep! For the past five months (since Mr. B was born), I have been up with him every 2-3 hours all night long. The boy likes to eat and seemed genuinely hungry every time he woke up. While late nights and early mornings are certainly part of motherhood, we were all exhausted. In addition, I am a firm believer in the importance of good sleep habits and I was really starting to get worried about potential long-term sleep difficulties if we didn't make some adjustments sooner rather than later.

At the same time that B's sleep patterns (or lack thereof) were starting to worry me, Miss H,
our little sleeping beauty who has quite effortlessly slept through the night since she was eight weeks old, decided that it would be a good time to explore her room during nap time and during the wee hours of the morning. Her "big girl bed" gave her a new found freedom that was just too tempting for a curious little girl.

After consulting with some of my trusted mom friends, re-reading a sleep book that I had read when H was younger and making some big changes in our routine, I'm happy to report that we're on the road to sleep-deprivation recovery. Mr. B has fallen into a great nighttime and daytime nap routine very easily. I think the little guy wanted a sleep schedule all along and was just waiting for me to implement one. We still have a way to go before we get Miss H caught up on her sleep but we're working on it.

A huge part of our new routine involves more "down" time. While we tend to be very social and active, we've come to realize that sometimes it's best to just slow down, relax and enjoy the moment. Before nap time, the kids and I crawl into the big bed, read stories together and unwind. Bedtime occurs much earlier than before (in bed by 6:30 pm!) and we'll only make exceptions for very special occasions. Naps will be in their beds in their rooms whenever possible. I feel like the sleep Nazi but so far it seems to be working. Last night we got more than four hours of consecutive sleep for the first time in five months! The kids are already noticeably more pleasant, cheerful and attentive. It has been a good reminder that sometimes when it seems like you're just too busy to nap, the best thing you can do is exactly that- have a siesta and recharge your batteries. Sleep makes me a better mother and it produces healthier, smarter, more pleasant children.

Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop. ~Ovid