Saturday, December 22, 2007

Sleep Deprived Parent Seeks Nyquil and Blackout Curtains

I regret to say that while the children have been adorable, there has been a serious sleep deficit lately. The more sleep I lose, the less I can recall. What I faintly recall from last weekend, is that they've been tag teaming me. As soon as one child seemed to be more or less (or not at all, actually) settled back into bed, the other one wailed from their room. After two nights of this, we went to visit the Massachusetts Grandparents. They kindly took the kids off our hands while we tried to recover some sleep. Noodle was seriously damaging her image as the happy-go-lucky baby, screaming and insisting that only Mommy would do. Finally she managed to poop, and magically turned lovely again. Photo here is, obviously, after her recovery.

So I'm losing memories faster than I can observe them, but this is a posting of the few bits I can still scrape together.

Noodle- at seven months old, she's still pretty limited in variety, but she's lovely to cuddle, and amusing to watch:

* Contemplating a pacifier, picks it up, considers it, tries to put it into her mouth, only to hit another pacifier. Clunk. She reconsiders the pacifier again, turns it a bit, tries again. Clunk.

* Sharing a bath with Q, slapping the water, then happily slapping the back and limbs of her brother when he lies down next to her.

* She can now unreliably sit up on her own, and looks absolutely delighted with herself.

* She reliably loves her Noodle Theme Song and will quiet down almost any time I sing it to her.

Q - He is CONSTANTLY TESTING US. I am gritting my teeth a lot. But I'm also really amazed by how much he's picking up on lately:

* Looking at a book ("Knuffle Bunny Too") asks if this is the motory. (Actual photo is of a rotary.) I point out the New York City skyline and tell him that's where his Uncle Ralph lives. He says, "And maybe Aunt Marilyn." They evidently made an acute impression on their visit last month.

* When J sat down at the other end of the blue couch, "That is not a good place to sit. You should sit here." Pats the spot next to himself.

* I put him to bed one night at his usual time, about 6:45. At 8, I went upstairs and spot a light on in his room. I assume he fell asleep with the light on, and slip in to turn it off. Bright eyed, he looks up at me from the Paddington Bear book he is reading, "Mommy will you read this to me?" I crack up and give up any notion that I am going to scold him. (Sneaking a book to read in bed at 3 years old seems pretty darn funny to me.) Since then I have bribed him with books on his sleepless nights, he's allowed to read in bed and I'll turn off the light when I come to bed later.

* He can now accurately sing the alphabet song, as long as you don't like the letter "E".

* He is writing his name fairly reliably- enough that we got a Christmas card from Preschool with his signature. Perhaps they've been practicing without mentioning it?

* Those are simple examples of his obsession with words and letters and numbers. He frequently asks questions such as, "What does sponge start with a-?" "And what comes after S?" And so on. Soon he's going to start asking about words I can't spell without writing down. The advent calendars have been advancing his understanding of double digits. Triple digits (seen in the index of his poetry book) still thwart him.

* I told him "I love you" the other day. He replies, "Yeah, you do."

We're bracing ourselves for Christmas. Last year, Q was rapidly overwhelmed by the holiday and we simply hid all but a few gifts and then parceled them out slowly over several days. I think he'll be a little calmer this year, but he can actually anticipate the holiday, which is definitely asking for a full blown Christmas Meltdown. Whether his or ours is yet to be seen.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Mystic Adventure

A few weeks ago, my mil had a really great idea for a Q adventure which we implemented this past Friday. She dropped Q and me off at the Old Saybrook train station, where we picked up the Boston bound train. We traveled by train to Mystic, CT, where she met us at the train station with Noodle, and then the four of us went to the Mystic Aquarium, and then travelled home by car.

It was a fabulous adventure. Q was really thrilled by the train station, the train, and the train ride. He sat on my lap and commented on everything and everyone and was good as gold the whole way: his absolutely sweetest 3 year old self. I wanted to ride all the way to Boston.

Settling Q down for the night, I have a new list of soothing techniques: Christmas carols, imagery of the moon, lying down next to him in bed and smoothing his soft cheek. Thursday night I included a long description of Friday's adventure, hoping to enlist his assistance in getting ready early. (No luck with that, by the way.) Tonight he interrupted my description of the moon and asked me to tell him about our train adventure again.

He loved the train.

The aquarium was really fun. The beluga whales would pop into view as if playing a game of hide and go seek and we couldn't help but laugh with delight. Even if you knew they'd come back around, they'd still feel like a wonderful surprise.

We also saw a 14 lb lobster (larger than Noodle I believe), glow in the dark fish, sharks, jelly-fish, bats, piranhas, sea lions and penguins. We managed to hold back and just let Q explore without worrying about seeing everything or whether we'd catch the sea lion show or fish feedings. Q was generally giddy with excitement, which was lovely to see, even if it did bode ominously for his melt-down potential.

One of my favorite moments from the aquarium came from Noodle, however. I had pulled her out of the car seat, changed her, and was carrying her around hoping she wouldn't spit out her pacifier into the touch tank. Sitting down by one of the spiny lobsters, I held her so she could stand (still her favorite activity) and look into the tank. One lobster noted the easy pickings and scrambled over eagerly to attempt to eat her. She bobbled around, unfocused, but perhaps seeing the lobster, when we heard Q laugh from around the corner. Noodle's head whipped around with the biggest smile, trying to locate her brother.

She loves that boy.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Sleepy Head and Lazy Bones

Q has developed new bedtime rituals. I don't know all the rules yet, but some of them are very important and he will tear up and start sobbing if thwarted. A week and a few days into Noodle's new schedule, we are starting to get a rhythm. All of which is liable for modification on any given night.

4:15 Noodle eats her solid food dinner.

5:00 Noodle takes her pre bath nap. Sometimes. Q and I eat dinner. If J is here, all the schedule goes awry, but at least there are two of us to endure the tantrums. If Q remembers, he begs for a piece of his Halloween candy. Yep. He still has some. I'm not sure if it's because I'm mean and didn't let him have free rein, or if it's because J and I decided to try to lose weight this fall. Of course, many nights he doesn't remember it exists. He's only three. It won't last.

Tonight, because I managed to feed us all before 5 (this might have been desperate or sensible, I'm not sure which), I let Q watch 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas'.

Q informed me, "He's not being polite to that dog!" Noodle smiled gleefully as I rocked her side to side with the Christmas choir that transforms the Grinch's heart just by singing.

5:30 We go upstairs for Noodle's bath. Often I lug both children because Q has gotten sad and manipulative. Or, alternately, because he is melting down.

5:35 Noodle's bath. She now must be bathed in the bigger tub, although I have a small tub to set inside it. She'd still fit into the sink, but she is capable of turning on the hot water faucet, not to mention that all her splashing was starting to deteriorate the wood siding of the sink.

This is one of the most delightful activities of the day. Noodle grins and chortles throughout, splashing now with her hands as well as her feet. Q often comes over and makes loud obnoxious noises which she finds endlessly amusing, and sometimes even giggles at.

5:40 Noodle is dried off, Q hops into her bathwater. I don't know why, but he really wants to bathe in her bath. Noodle is dressed in her jammies and read a couple of books while Q sits in the water and hypothetically gets clean. Realistically he's taking a washcloth and commenting on how the tub needs cleaning and applying vast quantities of liquid baby soap to all tub surfaces he can reach. Noodle gets nursed or a bottle or both.

5:50 (or earlier) Q hops out of the tub after draining it. He gets his own towel. If he is not allowed to do these two tasks, there is a meltdown. He comes to our bed where I am feeding Noodle, making loud noises and then begs to be picked up and put on the bed. He is dried off and assisted into his jammies, usually with only a few threatening noises.

5:55 We read as many books or stories as Q can persuade me is necessary. Q is now a huge fan of Winnie the Pooh so some of the stories are quite long and Q loses interest. And luckily for me, doesn't follow quite well enough to notice when I read only one sentence on a page and move on.

6:25 I put Noodle down somewhere safe (like the bassinet she's outgrown) and carry Q to bed, singing his sleepy little baby song. I give him ten kisses and tell him I love him and good night. If I somehow miss an important statement, there will be tears immediately after the door is shut. If the ocean is not on, there will be wails. If Q forgets to say I love you and good night and air kiss at me, there will be sobbing.

6:38 I pick up the wailing Noodle and go downstairs to put her to bed, singing the Noodley N Song.

6:38 and 30 seconds Q opens his door and announces he has to use the potty.

6:45 I return upstairs to find a naked Q wandering around the bathroom, unrepentant. I help him onto the potty. I fix up his toothbrush, and heck, one for me. He washes his hands and brushes his teeth. He is reinserted into his jammies. He runs to his bed and begs me to bring Blankie, abandoned in the bathroom. Blankie is absolutely necessary, and if Blankie is not evident, for some unknown reason, like it is hiding by his feet, there will be heart wrenching wails.

7:00 There is an odd silence in the house. Yesterday, when J and I were both home for once, we turned to each other puzzled. How late is it? It feels like it must be 9 or 10. Suddenly I have hours of solo adult time open before my own bed time to do grown up activities, like, empty the dishwasher. Hunt for the address book. Pay the oil bill. Update my blog before my father comments that I'm slacking.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The All Screaming Sleep Solution

Last Saturday marked our third visit to the doctor for Nuala in less than a week.

Monday: ear infection. Kept me up enough of the night that I wanted to harm someone and hoped it would be me.

Tuesday: 6 month well baby check up. Baby is well. (Ears still red.) 13 lbs 10 oz.

Saturday: nothing wrong except my parenting. Ears no longer red. N weighs 13 lbs 14.5 oz. She kept me up enough of the night that I suspect I was going to harm someone and the most likely victim was the porcelain I was grinding off my teeth.

She’s biting me. BITING me. Hard. With no teeth. She is probably teething, but there’s nothing more traumatic at 2 am than trying to soothe an unhappy baby by nursing her and getting bit hard on the nipple.

So no more nursing for comfort for a while (ever?).

The kindly nurse also told me that at 6 months there were developmental milestones she was hitting and she was probably waking to practice, and waking to check on the location of her minions, and making sure they did her bidding at any moment. Well, okay, that’s my interpretation. Still. I am so unhappy with the quantity and quality of sleep I’ve gotten lately that I am about three inches from the end of my frayed rope.

When Q was just slightly older than this, we adapted a Ferber strategy and within a week he was not only sleeping through the night, falling asleep on his own, but cranked his bedtime back from 8:30 to 7:30. We barely knew what to do with the evening to ourselves. (We figured it out.) So it’s time to do this with kid 2. And if you think I’m cruel, I’ll call you up at 2:30 am next time she wakes and screams for an hour and you can talk me through my suicidal thoughts and call social services on the other line to protect this child.

So we're on Night 6 of the All Screaming Sleep Solution, and it's going alarmingly well. The first night was absolutely awful, but, in truth, it was not much worse than the nights when she'd simply start screaming at me for whatever reason that I could not determine at 3 am. At least I knew why she was upset. She screamed for approximately 5 hours (in shifts). Brutal.

Nights 2-4 saw approximately 30 minutes of screaming. Night 5 had less than 10 minutes. Tonight had about 30. She's been waking about 5:30 in the morning, but since she's already been asleep about 11 hours, how can I really blame her? I'm trying to coax her to sleep another 30 to 60 minutes... and maybe I'll get my way. Or maybe not.

(Photo is of N in an outfit selected by Q. J suggested Q get to pick out N's clothes for all future dates.)

Friday, November 23, 2007

Theater Widow

We haven't seen much of J lately. We've missed him. But now that the first play (there are three he's featured in) has been performed, we're figuring out what we need to do so that we won't miss him so much during the next one.

The play was terrific- a recently written trilogy (the first: "Last Train to Nibroc") about a couple during World War II. An audience member behind me described it beautifully as, "like watching a classic film." It's funny- which is good, since J is funny. And romantic- which is bad because he's too convincing at being romantic and it makes me want to hit him. The second play in the trilogy by Arlene Hutton is slated to be performed in February ("See Rock City"), followed by the third in May ("Gulf View Drive"). See: The New Main Street Theater

A week later we're still hashing and rehashing how the performances went. I saw two of the three performances, and, if I accept J's judgment, missed the best one. But I've been running lines with J since September (that's helping him learn his lines by reading the other lines) and listening to him discuss the issues faced by the characters to the point where it's a little hard to remember that they weren't real people. J keeps shaking his head in disappointment that he won't get to perform "The Last Train to Nibroc" again.

When I met J, he was a theater major. His concentration was in directing. But after the first year we dated (his last year of college), his involvement with theater was miniscule. This role is huge. Perhaps in a small theater, in a small town, but this is an area with a lot of support for theater, and with high expectations and standards.

Reading the lines with J, I watched him develop the meaning behind the words until they made sense. The first time I heard JR running lines for her character, I had to hide my smile because she'd breathed life into them that I hadn't felt in simply reading the script. I wanted to cheer, "Yes! That's what May would sound like!"

What I had never realized about acting, especially in a play like this, with only two characters, is the amount of intense trust required between actors. They're on a trapeze, and if they fly off their swing, they have to trust that their partner is there to catch them. If they miss a line or cue, they rely on the other actor to think fast- extending their hands to catch the unexpected release. They are lost, or saved, together on the stage.

It was unnerving to watch the first night of performance. I saw it happen: a missed line that led them to the wrong set of cues. And then, I saw them catch each other and swing back into place.

The weeks leading up to the performance were tough on us. J has been working, trading off on child care with me, and rehearsing every chance he got. I was getting up early with the kids, working, taking back the kids, and staying up late to see J before falling asleep. (J's line: Milking the cow on both ends.) And the day I found out that they'd decided the play called for a kiss was a very, very bad day for me.

Also hard was the simple fact that J was charging off to rehearse, full of energy, passion and happiness. Other women were sharing all of his enthusiasm and attention. Not to mention that he was awake. Actually, hard doesn't really begin to scratch it. I was home alone with the kids feeling boring, cranky, jealous and lonely.

Within a marriage, we are also trapeze artists, trusting that when we let go, our partner is there to catch us. Trusting that our relationship is more important than one skirmish or point. One fact always remained clear to me. This is the first time, in our entire marriage, that I have ever seen J genuinely happy.

And in that moment of the first performance, as she grabbed his hand and drug him to safety, my heart eased and I could have kissed her myself.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

November Creeps In

I call this photo "Angry Noodle." Note how company on the floor does not make her any happier about tummy time.

In an attempt to make a long Saturday less tedious with a child who sounds like he's about to go round two with winter colds, I offered him paints, something I prefer to offer outside. This bought me at least an hour of happy time after lunch. My real stroke of brilliance, however, came when I gave him his father's tool catalog. Full out bliss. I should be alarmed that he knows the name of so many tools. Including what a circular saw blade is.

This evening I was feeding N downstairs as Q went potty, yet again, after being put to bed. Since this was the third time in about 5 minutes, I was starting to get impatient with his delay tactics (which are crafty since he really does use the potty on some of the trips). I was ignoring him when I realized he was singing a song to the tune of Raffi's "Shake my Sillies Out." It went, "Help, Help, Help, My Help, Help."

Little N is starting to really bloom. She hasn't resembled a troll in months, and her impish grin is winning her admirers wherever we go. Friday we went to the library during Story Time and after children's madhouse hour, I packed her and Q up to go home. As I put Q into his jacket, two small girls admired her in her car seat as their mother watched on. Then N let out a scream of rage. Apparently the two year old had given into that small child urge and simply bopped N on the head. Her poor mother. N was fine, of course, and I earned some serious parenting karma by not flipping out. Or even getting upset. There but for chance, go I...

In case you've not heard, J is starring in a play which is being performed this week, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. He's been working hard and I'm really looking forward to seeing it all come together. Website for details:

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Where's N?

On the Q front: he wrote his name for the first time today, with next to no coaching, and no prior demonstration (to me at least) of letter writing other than the letter “Q”. I grinned all morning.

Sometimes I forget that N, in addition to being nearly twice her birth weight and able to eat mushy food, is also making subtle developmental gains. Lately she’s taken to grabbing things. I keep looking at her puzzled. “Why would you do that? You’re suppose to hang out aimlessly while I make my lunch, not stick your hands in the chummus.”

This evening though, we had a delightful little step. I’d read recently that babies at this age start comprehending hide and seek. I tried it once with no real response. But tonight, she was lying in the bassinet, and I tossed a blanket over her head. “Where’s N?” I pulled it off. “There she is!” The next time I wasn’t fast enough and she pulled it off herself, giggling as I responded. Giggling and full body happy wriggling as we repeated the game again and again, with Q joining in, sometimes hiding himself, sometimes hiding N.

A smiley evening ending with reading two chapters of Winnie the Pooh, and a delivery of groceries (too exciting to fall asleep during, I acknowledged). Not all nights are hard.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Big Boy Little Boy

Sometimes you have 48 hours in which you realize that you can no longer take for granted your child’s lack of skills to keep him safe.

Arriving at Grandma’s yesterday, Q leaned forward and chatted at me. Glancing back I realized he had released his own seat belt. I have no idea when. I sternly told him that he was not to do that when the car was moving, etc. etc.

Running errands a few hours later, he popped it open when I stopped. I left the kids in the car for a few minutes and came back. I later discovered that Q then, or at some point in the car ride, had also released the seat belt that holds N’s car seat. Oh Joy.

Q continued to channel Houdini. This morning he finally figured out, through sheer persistence, perhaps, how to open the gate at the top of the stairs. Wonderful. He can’t tie his own shoes, but he can open a gate that I have to wrestle and swear at.

These events have been bracketed by moments which pointedly depict how very little Q still is.

This evening, after many meltdowns, J and I simply had to cut the bedtime routine short and put the boy to bed. He screamed and screamed and then decided to sleep in the other bed and calmed down and fell asleep hard. About an hour later, I heard a loud thud followed by screaming. Panicked that he’d fallen out of the big bed, I raced upstairs. From what I can tell, he simply whacked something (his head?) against the wall. But he was screaming without any real rhyme or reason that I could determine.

I tried shifting him, holding him, rocking him, but the brief calm moments in which he’d settle down were always followed by more wailing. Finally he managed to explain that he had to go potty. I helped him in there, where he sat, eyes glazed and even shutting. Poor little boy.

Saturday night little Q managed to get up to use the potty before he fell asleep. We’d lost electricity, so he had the novel pleasure of his own flashlight, which I’d let him take to bed. He happily called down to me, “I’m going potty, Mommy!” as he scampered into the bathroom, an activity which I suspect is half need, half bedtime delay, but since it’s self initiated potty use, I’m loathe to discourage him.

A few minutes later I heard him crying in distress and rushed up the dark stairs. When you lose electricity this time of year, it’s really dark. “What’s wrong honey?” I asked.

“I dropped my flashlight!” He wailed.

Assuming the round flashlight had rolled under a bed or the sink, I reassured him, “That’s okay. We’ll find it. Where did you drop it?”

Snuffling, “In the potty.”

I looked in the potty, and, sure enough, lighting up the interior of the pot is his little plastic light wand. I sat on the floor of the bathroom and laughed uncontrollably.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween Frivolity

N is a Monkey Mouse.

The costume is very cuddly and she was good natured about it, although she evidently didn't like the hood much. Her mood is much improved (well, it wasn't that grumpy when she was sick, she simply screamed bloody murder for long stretches at night) and she's been happily sucking down the antibiotics, so I think she's well on the way to recovery.

Q is a Cat.

He had a flurry of Halloween activities: a parade in preschool, a parade after preschool, and trick or treating with Mom. Which is a lot for a child who had to be re-taught the concept of Halloween. He had a blast trick or treating, tromping up and down the streets, happily commenting that the decorations were silly, whispering "Trick or Treat!" when people opened their doors, and then managing to audibly say "Happy Halloween" as we left.

One of my neighbors with kids in middle and high school was helping them set up a mini-haunted house in his garage as we walked up. It was so awful, and so inappropriate for a 3 year old that we simply backed out and I started laughing hysterically. "I don't think this one's going to work for us, Q." Q seemed unalarmed, no harm done, but I was wildly amused. Their younger son took off his mask and very kindly offered Q candy.

I earned parenting karma points later tonight though. After we returned home, and got Q settled for the night, I took over answering the door. A very antsy princess fairy came with her sleepy pirate brother. When I realized she needed to pee, I offered our bathroom to her mother (I did make her go upstairs, which you understand if you've been to my house). A very relieved little princess fairy came back downstairs. Better my potty than my bushes...

(I apologize. These are not the best photos- when you delay getting the kids into their costumes until after dinner, you really run amok with light.)

Friday, October 26, 2007

Another Baby First

The shrieking lately, at 3am, has made the little girl a less than popular member of the family. I finally decided that based on the facts (she didn’t want to nurse, didn’t seem to want to be awake at all, didn’t seem to be comforted by anything) she must be teething. We got some night time oragel and treated her with oragel and tylenol and while she still woke and screamed horribly, it seemed to help and she seemed to go back to bed faster than usual.

But in a discussion with a nurse practitioner today (got my flu shot!), I was persuaded to bring N in to see the doctor, just in case. Sure she wasn’t cranky or miserable except when screaming at night, but it would be worth checking her out.

Well, what do you know, baby has her first ear infection. And considering this, she was far too good natured. Sure the screaming at various times was awful enough that we had to set her down and walk out of the room to gain self control. But mostly, during the day especially, she was her normal smiley self. Simply unreasonably good natured.

So. A lesson I hope I’ve now learned: if N screams without an obvious reason, that is enough reason to get her to the doctor.

Poor baby… This photo was taken after a particularly bad night (Thursday am). Note the total lack of grumpiness.

Monday, October 22, 2007


N at 5 months

Dashed Hopes

I felt oh so clever. I was even contemplating writing in my blog about how clever I was. I was going to title this one: Creativity.

Q, as I believe I have noted, picked up a cold and brought it home to share. We’ve all been a little grumpy, very tired, and less than cooperative. Knowing this, I picked up some videos at the library on Friday and I’ve been parcelling them out to ease the long cranky afternoons and to soothe achy little heads. Except when I remove video privileges as a consequence for refusing to walk at the outlet mall, requiring me to lug an unnamed, screaming child over my shoulder while pulling the stroller all the way back to the car. (Surprisingly few people grinned at me. I was close to smirking myself. After all, he’d tried to call my bluff and I’d won.)

So today, after I’d already exhausted the video of the day, and was wondering how to amuse a cranky 3 year old who had already done glamorous things (preschool, playground, videos…), I had a brilliant idea.

We’ve had a big box hanging out in the kitchen for a few days. I’m sure I must have something I want to store in it, but I haven’t figured out what quite yet. In the mean time, Quinn has been crawling in it, dancing in it, falling over and smacking his head in it. All around having a good time. And now we have a new opportunity for fun!

“Q, I know we have told you that you may not draw on anything other than paper, but I have something special for you. Would you like to use your markers to draw on this box?”

I was so smart. Q colored happily on the box for a good 45 to 60 minutes. I gave him train stickers to decorate with, wrote his name for him, and while he was in bliss, I made a lasagna for tomorrow night’s dinner. N did her part by sleeping. It was heaven. I even had a half glass of wine.

But the good times cannot last forever.

“I want the fire engine stickers.”

I told him those were for another time. My usually reasonable Q, whom we regularly do say no to, had a little meltdown. Which turned into a big meltdown. Eventually I had to pick him up and lug him upstairs (there’s a pattern) till he was ready to come down for dinner. I ate, nursed the now crying baby, called my mother, and predicted that one or both of the children would be crying for the rest of the evening. Finally Q emerged.

After some happy discussion of N’s diaper situation, and some initial overtures towards his food, Q eventually abandons eating and wants to play, just when it is time to take the kids up for Bath, Books and Bed Time. Another meltdown. I lug him upstairs again.

The meltdowns continue, “I don’t want you to bathe N!” “I don’t want you to trim my nails, NO! NO! NO! NO!” “I don’t want to pee!” “I want to hold the shower head!” “I don’t want to pee!” “I don’t want you to hold N!”

Finally, both kids are washed (minimally) and in their jammies. One infant is fast asleep and one exhausted boy is read four books, and tucked into his Big Boy Train Bed with Blankie. Two cats are going crazy with anxiety that they will not be fed.

Some nights are not about sweet nurturing bliss, but simple survival. These nights too will be remembered as some of the good times.

Monday, October 15, 2007

shaking with laughter

I popped N into the saucer today, told Q he could indeed play with her rattle, and walked into the kitchen as he joyously retrieved it. (He’s been told not to take it from her, but if she’s not playing with it, hey, that’s fine.)

An absolute scream of rage? pain? fury? (same as rage?) suddenly came from the living room and I whirled back in to see what the problem was as Q wanders out. I picked her up and she stops screaming.

Wondering aloud what the problem had been, J surmises that Q had whacked her with the rattle. I ask Q, “Q, why was N screaming?” After several tangents (not deliberate, this is just a lack of conversational technique), Q says, “I hurted her with the rattle.”


J had to gently inform Q that this was not ok while I turned my back and shook with laughter. So matter of fact.

He’s a very gentle little kid, but he’s getting bolder with her.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Poop

N has not been sleeping well. Worse, she’s been screaming for 30 to 60 minutes a night and very little can console her. Last night I discovered that the vacuum cleaner could calm her down, which was lucky since I was at my wits end. At 5 months, she’s got great lung capacity. She seems to be in pain, but I cannot figure out the cause for sure. My instinct is that it is due to the fact that she poops so irregularly. I brought this problem up at the last check up (4 months) and the pediatrician recommended pear juice- if we can find it.

So I set out today on a crusade to find pear juice to move the girl’s bowels and preserve my sanity. First destination is the natural foods store. Next to a Starbucks, which I was eyeing with more self preservation in mind. But before I fought over a parking spot, I spy a ‘Closed’ sign at the natural foods store. I move on. On a whim, I stopped at the fancy cheese and other expensive foods store. They are out of pear juice. But I see what the bottle would look like. I give up for the moment and go on to adventure #2 for Sunday morning: Hitting Ocean State Job Lot.

I have this idea that going to a large store with two small children, no particular goal in mind, and no back up is a fun idea. Obviously my sanity is fragile. But my luck holds out. I find a number of items I have been looking for: maple syrup (grade B, which I prefer, but is sometimes hard to find), a large soft, cheap fleece for lounging around in (my husband disapproves and requests that I buy clothing that fits me), a cat costume size 2 to 4T, a mouse costume size 6 to 12 mo (perhaps too large, but fairly amusing), both costumes are reasonably priced and very cheesy, sweetnlow (for my addiction to saccharine), and PEAR JUICE. 3 bottles of the fancy looking brand seen at the expensive cheese store (manufactured in Belgium, packaged in Bradenton, FL).

I manage to get a diluted quantity of pear juice into N. (We had little luck with the effectiveness of prune juice, I’m sure you were going to ask.) And the child seems to have come unplugged. Two poopy diapers and I’m wiping my brow with relief. Thank goodness. I think she may get some daily now. I’m wondering if solid food would make the problem worse or better…

Q has a bug. He barely ate today. He stopped eating potato chips and said he was done. After a lovely 2 hour nap, he had a fever of 101.7 and mostly just wanted to hang out near me. Poor child. His cough makes me nervous, so I’m leaning in to listen to him breathe, trying to catch the sound of bronchitis before it develops into pneumonia. (This because my family tends to assume that all ill people are faking, which led me to discourage my husband to get his cold checked out until he was in a borderline pneumonia state, and so now I’m paranoid about coughs and listlessness.)

But the kid is doing really well. He’s been sleeping in both the new beds, having gotten over the trauma of falling out of the big big bed into the toddler bed (we now have a bed rail for him). Saturday, after one of the awful nights with N, he let us sleep in till nearly 8, luxuriously late.

Unfortunately I figured out why, eventually.

He’s been coloring a lot lately. He calls it ‘drawing’, and when he has blank paper he is creating different art than he did, even a month ago: filling in shapes with color, and circling items deliberately. He has a coloring book that he turns carefully through, and fills in, almost neatly, small portions of different pictures.

Saturday afternoon I spotted the cap of a pen on the floor of his room. A pen we use to mark his clothes with his name. The rest of the pen is missing. I prod his memory, “Where is the pen, Q?” As I interrogate him, I notice three library books on the floor of his room… one with pen marks on the protective cover.

Only one turns out to have marks on the pages. The book he likes the best, I think. Something about eyes attracted him, and he added another level of art to the eyes of the characters. So sad: he’s destroyed a library book, he’s made it impossible to see the art, and yet at the same time, I see that he did it out of affection.

We had a little talk (Again) about how we don’t draw on books, that coloring books are very special etc etc. (This is the first assault on a book, usually he goes after furniture or walls.) And I will bring the book back to the library, apologize profusely for not supervising more closely, and pay for the book.

But as a librarian, I know something. Since I will pay for the book, they will probably give it to me. And then what? Do I bring it home and keep reading it with Q? Do I want him to get the bright idea that if he writes in his favorite library books he gets to keep them? Ah well. One problem at a time.

For English Major Party Fun:

I am Elinor Dashwood!

Take the Quiz here!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Big Boy Beds

I admit it. I have a linen fetish. But I am not just using this situation as an excuse to buy sheets for Q’s bed. This is strategy! Honest!

Last spring, before N was born, a friend came across the book My Big Boy Bed by Eve Bunting. It features a little boy who is very similar to our Q: has a cat, has an affection for fire trucks, has a blankie, and, very important, has a new baby brother. We read it ‘sister’, because, heck, Q can’t read, and we might as well push the analogy in his head as far as we can. The big brother in the book has just come home from buying ‘big boy sheets’ for his big boy bed. He discusses all the merits of the big boy bed, and at the end also describes slipping out of bed to gently touch the hand of the new baby and saying good night.

Well, you know what’s coming right? We have one crib, and one Q sleeping in it. He tried out the toddler bed for a few weeks, and then went back. N is still sleeping in the bassinet, but it is getting a little small for her. And it’s a little too close to me. As I found with Q, the smallest sound seems to wake me, and then I respond without giving her the opportunity to fall back to sleep on her own. Not that I suspect she would. After all, when your every whimper is catered to, why would you develop any stoicism?

Today we went to the mall. The mall in question is about an hour from home. We brought Q, N, the friend referred to above, and her wee baby. There was much time spent in the bathroom (actually, this is a big milestone, he’d never asked to use the bathroom before in a public place) and on the escalators. I was exhausted. But we returned with ‘big boy sheets’ for the two big boy beds. Q bought into the concept so entirely that he was playing escalator with the cat who is going up the escalator to get big boy sheets herself. I later discovered her trapped between the screen door and the wooden door. Evidently she decided to use the elevator.

We made the beds up. I am now fighting the desire to locate a twin sized red bed skirt (wouldn’t that look good with the fire trucks?) and Q chose to sleep in the GINORMOUSLY high bed, made with fire truck sheets that he selected himself. (I asked him which bed he wanted to sleep in and he replied, “Well, the one with Blankie.”)

I have been in and out of his room no less than 4 times with various excuses. He seems sound asleep, wedged against the wall, with little chance of falling out soon. I moved the toddler bed (now sporting a train sheet) next to it so there’d be something soft to break his fall…

and of course, now that I have so thoroughly persuaded him that he’s a big boy, I am filled with regret for how fast my little boy is growing.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

...and there it goeth

Today’s report from Preschool:
“Q burst our bubble of the lovely friend today with 2 incidents of grabbing/pushing for toys. How dare he act like a typical 3 year old!”

Have I mentioned that I really like this preschool teacher?

”...we know he will redeem himself!”

On the bright side, little sister N slept from 8pm to 6am last night. Very good manners. Or, more accurately, very merciful.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


Our 10th anniversary is in June and we want to plan ahead and make reservations at a good family resort or location. N will be just over 1, so serious amounts of water is a bad idea, although if our site (room? house? cottage?) is really well secured, we might consider something on the coast. Q will be 4, so lots of things to do with him would be good.

But we’re brainstorming and researching at this point. Our current guidelines:

  • Family Friendly
  • Reasonably Priced, or even Cheap! (Some ability to make meals a plus.)
  • No more than maybe 3 hours from home? Some flexibility here, since the cheaper the location, the more worthwhile the drive/time committed. There are a few places in northern VT that would be quite a hike, but are on the maybe list.
  • We like the idea of one of the retro-family resorts. The cheesy kind with little cottages. We see a few of them scattered in this area, but that’s too close.

Suggestions and advice welcome.
Although, as with the naming of our child, we reserve all rights to abandon previous principles and all recommendations.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Small steps

At 3:30 am this morning, N woke up and exhibited that just because she doesn’t normally insist on her way, it doesn’t mean she can’t broadcast to the neighbors if she wants to. Ears ringing, I changed her soaked diaper and returned to bed to nurse her. As I sat down, Q’s door opened and he trotted in and plopped down on our bed. “Is N crying?” (He’s in the ‘state the obvious’ phase.) He waited, chatting cheerfully with me while I nursed her, and then let me put him back to bed.

I dropped Q off at preschool this morning. When he falls into line, toddling off with the other wee ones, he doesn’t even wave goodbye. But today, unprompted, he paused, looked back, and blew me a kiss.

His genuine sweetness is a marvel.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The days go slowly... the years speed away

N decided to get busy for her 4 month birthday. She can now flip from her front to her back without much effort, although she sometimes chooses to simply wail instead. She started to grab at toys, and, impressively, even manages to attain them and cram them in her mouth at times.

We find that Q is wonderful entertainment for her. Just hearing his voice makes her face light up, and her first sight of him each day brings big grins. If we plop her into her exersaucer, she will often rotate herself to watch him as he plays.

She’s a sweet little baby, never grumpy except for the basics (hunger, diaper, exhaustion and gas). This week she ran a low fever from getting her 4 month shots, but didn’t seem to think it was worth fussing over. At 11 lbs 6 oz, she’s nearly twice her birth weight, but still seems like a little bitty thing. She looks good in pale green and yellow, but pink makes her look, well, red.

Unfortunately she’s shifted her sleep schedule to sleep 8:30 to 4 am, and I have not shifted with her, so I’m sleep deprived, short tempered, and less than proud of myself.

I believe that Q is perhaps also a bit sleep deprived, having an out and out meltdown today, refusing to have a picnic in the back yard. I responded to having a tantrum coerce me by (after a time out) telling him there would be no treats today. No Maisy, no cookies, just the basics. When I reminded him of that when he asked for a video (pre-nap routine), he didn’t even get upset, just agreed to the terms (book yes, video no) and went down for a nap. I feel mean. But I still feel manipulated, so I’ll get over it. He’s still asleep 2 hours later, so I think exhaustion was the real problem.

The boy made himself remarkably adorable today though. Wandering upstairs naked (still refusing to go potty), he informed me that he was going to nurse Excavator. And Tickulated Dump Truck. They were hungry and crying. As I watched, bemused, he held first Excavator, then Dump Truck up to his nipples. He’s such a good Truck Daddy.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Talking Trucks

I find myself missing fairly entertaining comments from Q on a regular basis, only figuring them out later. Earlier this week I explained that his dinner was a little hot, but in the meantime he could eat some tortilla chips. He asked, “Is it the Mean Time now, Mommy?” I thought he was asking if it was evening time now. J helped him out, “Yes, now is the meantime.”

He’s also been asking, “Is N happy? Is N happy, Mommy?” He’ll ask this about the cats, his sister, J, or me. The other day he asked me if I was happy, just as I had the two kids in a golden snuggly moment. You bet kid.

He’s suddenly launched into a new phase of imaginative play. He will describe a book as if he is the main character. “Then I found a stick and I whacked the tree with it, and the snow fell down.” (The Snowy Day) “I climbed up on the river bank into the reeds and something screeched in the sky above me.” (Come Along Daisy!) A boy after my own heart.

Lately he’s also been pointing at pictures and saying, “I’m gonna play with dat truck/tractor/excavator.” He points to a window on his train station, “I’m gonna look out dat window, Mommy.”

And his trucks are taking on more and more personality. “Excavator was spitting up on the spit cloth.” I asked if Excavator felt better now. “Excavator and Articulated Dump Truck were crying…”

Articulated Dump Truck was a gift from friends upon Q becoming a Big Brother. In case you are not up on your trucks, an articulated dump truck is the type that is jointed between the cab and the bed, so it can bend in the middle.

My father, hearing the truck’s name, was confused. “Is he saying, Tickle-A-Dump Truck?” Um, well, that’s what it sounds like most of the time. And when he can enunciate well enough to say ‘Articulated’ articulately, I think I’ll sob.

I doubted that Q had really gotten the meaning behind Articulated Dump Truck’s name. We have a glamourous truck book that explains these details, but he is only three, after all. At the Haddam Neck Fair, however, he pointed to a tractor, he announced it was articulated. Skeptically, I watched the tractor for a minute, and realized he was right. The tractor was jointed in the middle.

Before I had my son, I really don’t think I would’ve realized how cool that is.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

The Great Humongous Spider...

This spider photo is from last summer, but we have spotted two more of them this summer. They’re big spiders, so they really are hard to ignore once you see them.

Today J, Q and I went to take a look at the one in the hosta after returning home. We were admiring her web, very reminiscent of Charlotte’s, when a small fly blundered into it. The spider scuttled over and began to efficiently wrap it up. I squatted down and explained to Q that they spider was going to eat the fly for lunch.

“A bug sandwich.” J offered.

I elaborated, “See how she’s wrapping it up with her thread? Now she’s going to…Now she can… Spiders can…” I gave up in hysterics, trying not to explain what the spider would do without making it sound ghoulish.

“A bug sandwich.” J offered again, saving me from the corner I’d painted myself into.


Thursday, September 06, 2007


End of Summer photos

Growth Spurts

I love preschool. Q, who had been trying my nerves lately, is wildly happy and content in the afternoons when I get off work. It’s like he was desperate for a focus for his energy and now that he’s got it, and he can be a happy 3 year old and only a test his limits a little bit.

He’s doing great with potty training (no accidents, knock on wood, pull ups at night) and earned a compliment at preschool for his polite snacktime request for “more please”. A lot of the things we’ve been working on so hard on are coming to fruition. I’m so proud. What a good kid.

I’m noticing that an awful lot of his preschool peers also have a younger siblings lined up and waving goodbye in the morning (usually a year or less, one is due in January). I have visions of a parenting conveyor belt. We stand there all chummy, as our babies toddle in, holding each other’s hands (or their teacher’s), proud and amused at ourselves and our children. Some, like Q, don’t look back, which almost makes me cry. Others keep trying to retain eye contact as they sob, “NOOOOOO!” and their parents flinch, wishing their children were excited about a happy and busy day in preschool.

I’ve noticed lately that Q is enjoying trying out new words and phrases, although he has difficulty enunciating hard consonants in the middle of words. (“Water”, for example, often sounds like, “more” to me.) Several times in the past few days he’s stumped me by using the word, “startled” in a sentence. I had explained that N was startled by something he did, and that was why she’d burst into tears. This morning he informed us that N’s rattle was startled. (We need to work on the concept a little more.) He also heard us talking about something alarming (I now wonder what) and rephrased our comments to say, “We don’t like pants scared.”

Little sister N is so mellow it cracks me up. After nursing this morning, the house was dark and quiet. Thinking she’d drifted off, I popped her into her bassinet and got ready to shower. When I got back, she was just hanging out, looking around, gave me a huge grin. The big ones are impossible to resist. I suspect when she gets the opportunity, she’s going to be a quietly mischievous child…

We’re struggling with the sleep thing a little, but I think it’s because she’s in the room with us. (And struggling means she wakes up at 4 am, I pop her into bed with me and she wakes at 5:45 for breakfast.) I think she’d sleep better without me picking her up at the first whimpery snort of the morning. (We don’t call her ‘Snorty Girl’ for nothing.) I also suspect she’s hit a growth spurt and simply gets hungrier early.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Balancing Act

It was not promising to be a good day.

First of all, I woke up in a grumpy mood, having had my sleep interrupted for the second night in a row by the baby. I feel greedy for expecting her to sleep regularly through the night, but since she has been giving me 7 hours of sleep on a regular basis, the nights when she struggles to make it through, wakes, wails, and is easily comforted by nursing, seem, well, demanding.

Secondly, I’d had three days of Q testing me. Friday, Saturday and Sunday, J worked 11 to 7 and I was mostly alone with the kids. After three days, I wanted to hit my head against the wall to distract me from my desire to throttle Q. It was only on Sunday that we had a flashback to my mother’s theory that “when a normally pleasant child is acting like a pill, it’s often because they’re about to make some sort of a breakthrough.” Q is potty training, and while he never tells us he needs to go, unless he’s naked and making conversation as he pads off to the potty, he is actually doing quite well. Preschool starts tomorrow, and likely the stress of the two events is building on his little shoulders in ways I’m too oblivious to notice, except in terms of his behavior being so much more trying than usual.

By Monday, while I was feeling compassion for my little boy, I was starting to suspect I was going to have a nervous breakdown.

My husband, no fool, asked what would I like to do: have some time to myself, divide the kids between us, do something as a family…?

We went to the Haddam Neck Fair.

Haddam Neck is a tiny village that is part of the town of Haddam, most of which is the next town north of us. Haddam Neck, however, is within the part of Haddam on the other side of the Connecticut River. In case you’re curious, no, it does not make sense to divide a town with a river big enough for barges.

The Haddam Neck Fair is a small and lovely affair. There were some rides (we declined). There was fried food (we participated). There were many cows, some oxen (I realized my ignorance as I tried to explain oxen to my son), rabbits, chickens, goats, sheep, a camel, two donkeys, and zebus (the relation to cattle made famous by a Veggie Tales song!). We enjoyed the racing pigs (not local, I think they were up from Florida), and Q, as you can see, was in heaven when the tractor pull started up. I finally discovered what a tractor pull actually is. (The explanation illuminated the landscaping on a local property.)

All this excitement could have led to exhausted tantrums later, or a bathroom accident, or an infant meltdown. We lucked out, established our normal routine when we returned home, got Q to take a nap, and had a lovely afternoon and evening.

On the cusp of preschool, we had a magical day together.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Preschool Open House

Q seems like such a big boy and such a little boy at the same time. He loved the preschool room and didn’t want to leave. We liked his teacher quite a bit, she seems to have the same priorities we have. One of our acquaintances is an aide in the other class and sometimes will be in Q’s class, which makes me happy. Mostly just because I feel like someone knows us where we’re leaving our little boy.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Goofy Grin

N 8.19.07

Not to Forget

Qisms from this week

As I left for my dentist appointment: “Are you going to be naked at the dentist Mommy?”

When N was crying, he imitated her, saying, “Babies say, AAAAAH! I’m Hungry!”

J agrees, “That’s right, babies don’t have words, so they cry to let us know they’re hungry.”

Q, nodding, “Instead of whining.”

N, after several weeks with no repeating of her laughing, chuckled Saturday night in a very subtle way, “heh heh heh.” She followed that up this morning by giggling at J when he sang along with ‘Philadelphia Chickens’ making exaggerated expressions with his face.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Wits in Shreds

Sleep is apparently irrelevant.

I discovered, mid-way through the day, that I’d put my underwear on backwards.

Later, when I was picking up the kids, I left the door of the car open by accident. (I heard it chiming, but thought I was imagining it.) When I came back to load the kids in, about twenty minutes, one meltdown and a time out later, I tried to start the car and joked that I hoped I hadn’t run down the battery.

It didn’t start.

I tried again.


Then I put it in park and tried to turn it on again. Like magic. Luckily my dignity has long since disappeared, so the evidence of my lacking wits was not as embarrassing as it could have been.

(And I’d like to say in my defense that I learned to drive in a stick shift car and you don’t have to be in park to turn them on.)

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The Potty Diaries

Q is making serious efforts to poop in the potty this week. I attribute this to J’s motivational promise: 1 truck for the first poop in a potty, another truck for 6 successful poops following that. He’s so into the idea that he’s gone to double poop days.

Of course, he likes company, so we’ve been camped in the hallway (bathroom is too small) for 20 to 45 minutes at a time. He looks at Richard Scarry’s ‘What Do People Do All Day?’ (in which I haven’t yet seen a potty in use), and bellows:


This afternoon was reward time, so I took the kids to the toy store. Q zeroed right in on the excavator he’s been lusting after. He picked it up, confirmed that I really was going to get it for him, and then went to the train table where he played for 20 minutes.

N was in a bjorn sling on my chest, facing outwards. She’s been facing inwards until recently, so she’s fairly excited by the novelty of seeing so much of the world. I paced back and forth and was looking at the baby toys when N began chatting. I looked down and she was focused hard on an object above us, and making soft inquiring noises. I turned, and her head pivoted. I turned back; she kept tracking it. She made occasional coos, chirps and barks for a while, evidently enchanted with a toy I never managed to locate.

Saturday, August 04, 2007


After the initial burbles of laughter, I haven’t heard N laugh out loud. But as she gets older and more alert, I catch her smiling as if we’re in on a joke together. It’s nearly shy, she’ll grin and then quickly look away again, as if caught revealing more than she should yet. She’s plumped up now, and I never find myself thinking that her expression is troll-like. Often, however, I see that impish expression and know that she’s the same baby. Her serene sleeping face transforms her from the Maurice Sendak look into cherubic.

I am amazed at her resilience. A few weeks ago J had the kids at the park and realized that although he had formula and a bottle to feed N, he didn’t have a nipple. So, being far more imaginative than I, he decided to see if she could drink from a sippy cup.

No problem.

It would never have occurred to me.

Q snuggles close up to her, ‘I’m going to nuzzle N!’ he declares, right next to her face. She looks away if he gets too close too long, but she doesn’t cry . He’s very helpful, running over to pop her pacifier in her mouth, helping J give her a bottle, announcing that she wants to nurse, she wants her formula, that she smiled at him! ‘Is that our Nuala?’ ‘Is she cooing?’ ‘I’m going to check on my baby sister.’ I think he likes having company in the back seat.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Two points

On the sleep front: the baby slept 9 hours last night. The last few, tucked next to me, but what do I care? I didn’t have to get up or wake fully.

On the obvious conclusion front: if you put on your sweat and milk stained pjs and the aroma makes you think “aw, baby!” It is time to bathe the baby and wash your pjs.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Baby's Week In Review

N had her 2 month check up on Friday. I’m always a little confused as to how to count months with babies. Am I supposed to count by the day of the month (thus from May 13 to July 13 is 2 months) or by 4 weeks equals a month? In any case, she’s up to 9 lbs 5 oz, a gain of more than 3 lbs in two months. She’s still in the 10%, where she was at birth, which is perfectly healthy. 25% for length (I have no idea what her percentile for length at birth was) and 75% for head circumference. Thanks to Daddy’s gene for that!

What I found amazing at this visit was something I witnessed in our stay at the hospital. She had to get 3 shots. The nurse asked if I was nursing her, and I said yes. Would I like to nurse her through getting the shot? This often calms the babies faster and eases the discomfort or pain. In fact, I recall doing this with Q’s shots his first year.

“I’m not opposed to it, but she’s done.”

The nurse looked a little confused. “I nursed her just before her physical, and well, she’d done now.” Q nursed at any suggestion of the opportunity till he was 4 months or so. N nurses 20, maybe 30 minutes, and then she’s done. Trying to get her to nurse when she’s not hungry is inviting her to yell at me.

The nurse looks at me like I’m a little loopy, but we set the baby on the table (which makes it easier to give the shot than if I bobbling the baby around in my arms). Three shots take forever to give when you’re watching a baby scream her toothless little heart out. But it does eventually get done.

I pick her up and she stops crying. After the shots were given, she simply calms down and stops crying. In the hospital I witnessed this after they took practically a pint of blood. Once they stopped messing with her, she simply went back to sleep.

Unreasonably good natured of her.

They had me do a postpartum depression questionnaire. One of the final questions, “I feel I neglect my baby: (select one) All the time, Sometimes, Not often, Never”. No hesitation on my part. I picked ‘Sometimes’. I don’t think it is possible to juggle two small children and never feel like sometimes you have to neglect one kid to take care of another. You know it will have to happen before the second one arrives, but you don’t necessarily realize how heart-wrenching it can be to tear yourself from one child who needs you to take care of the another.

She also asked if N reacts to sudden noises. Speaking of neglect… I hadn’t noticed. I think I would notice if she didn’t…?

So yesterday I took the kids to the Deep River Ancient Muster in the next town over from us. I accidently got there early, which turned out well since Q got to play at the playground, we bought some fries, and sat right at the ending point for the parade of drum and fife corps. This is a seriously noisy event with a variety of drum sizes, passing sometimes close to a foot from where we were seated. Not to mention the guns being fired off.

N was in her stroller, blissfully sleeping through it all. I finally thought to look at her just before a gun went off. Yep, she flinched in her sleep. Guess her hearing is ok.

I’m really enjoying my time with N. We still tend to forget her when she’s sleeping or happily installed in her bouncy seat and we’re trying to get something done (dinner, potty training, showering, packing the car). But she stays awake longer, giving us a chance to see big goofy grins and silent laughter. The past two days I took her with me on my run, packing her into the jogger with blankets so she wouldn’t slide around. Each time she gazed with peaceful amazement at the world till it was too much to comprehend, then slid into companionable sleep.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Sibling Rivalry

Q has been more obviously jealous of N lately. I don’t see much deliberately unkind behavior, just distinctly wanting to be on my lap when I’m nursing the baby, pulling the pacifier out of her mouth (actually, that might just be for the fun of popping it back in), demanding that Mommy carry him when I’m already carrying N. I’m being patient with him, trying to accomodate most of his reasonable requests when possible. But I’m wavering between feeling sympathy for his jealousy and a growing suspicion that he’s manipulating my feelings of guilt.

This afternoon, N was in an active awake state, interested in her surroundings, moving her limbs in swimmy movements as she checked out the world. It was time to start Quiet Time, so I brought the kids upstairs and set N down on the bed while I got ready to change Q’s diaper (no, no progress on potty training lately). Q hopped up on the bed and did his usual eye to eye with N, one inch from her nose. He turned a bit away, to tell me something, and she cooed up at him.

She hasn’t cooed at me yet. Around me, yes. While in my arms, yes. Mostly at random pieces of furniture.

But that’s ok. He can be first.

Sunday, June 24, 2007


I had a hellish night last night with N. I suspect now (with the benefit of sleep) that she had no interest in nursing, she just didn’t want to sleep in the bouncy seat next to the bed where we’ve nestled her most nights. But at 3am I was in tears with the desire to buy some Nyquil, find a motel room, and sleep for three days.

J was working this afternoon, so I decided I better wear out Q. We took out his trike and chat about triking to the playground at the school next door. Ten feet from our driveway, he stops and tells me, “I’m done.” Um, what? He tells me he wants to just go for a drive. I still want to wear him out. So he and I negotiate and agree to go to the Essex playground, a lovely shady playground with better equipment.

We get there, he plays lacksadaisically for 5 minutes, tops, then says, “Are we done?” I tried to engage him in playing, but he wasn’t having any of it. Laughing (I mean, can you force a toddler to play?), I drove home. I took a long route home. As we got onto familiar roads, Q says quietly, “Don’t go home.” So I give up and drive a little around town. He finally agreed that we should go home, watch ‘In the Night Kitchen’ and then do a quiet time.

Quiet time was three blissful hours of sleep. Afterwards we ate and tried triking to the playground next door again. As we turn onto the school road, he looks up and points out the crescent moon. “That moon is a watermelon.”

I have no idea where that idea came from.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Baby Firsts

N had a first today:

First Time Pooping Around Diaper Onto Mommy’s Shirt While at the Library with no Spare Clothes.

Which reminds me that I need to get a Baby Journal.

Friday, June 15, 2007


Our daughter, not quite 5 weeks of age, slept from 10:30pm till 5am last night. This was after nursing, then being tanked with an additional 3oz of formula, something I would have found reprehensible with my first child. Waking at 5, she nursed, inspected the headboard for approximately 20 minutes, and finding nothing amiss, went back to sleep about 6am.

An hour later, I realized that the slow progression of gradually louder noises had reached the white noise machine next to my bed: the selection bumped from ‘ocean’ to ‘womb’, a sound J describes as “I’m coming to get you! ...Very very slowly, but I’m coming to get you!” It’s nice to know where your preschooler is playing.

Then, abruptly, our dozing was interrupted by a car alarm. We live in one of the safest towns in Connecticut (despite the multiple bank robberies). No one should be setting a car alarm in this town. I was grumpily thinking this when my husband reached over me, grabbed my keys from Q, and turned off the ‘panic’ alarm that he’d just set off on J’s car.

J then looked at the clock and realized that Q had set off the alarm at 7:20am, the exact time of his birth, 3 years earlier.

Happy Birthday, kid. Thanks for reminding us of how lucky we are to have you enter our lives.

Saturday, June 09, 2007


This morning I snuck out of the house for a quick run after nursing the baby, managing to not wake up Q on my way out. When I returned home, I could hear him whining an early morning whine.

I went upstairs and opened his door to make sure I was hearing him right. “I want my balloon!”

His balloon was lost over a week ago. I sat down in his rocker and laughed at him. He couldn’t help himself and grinned back.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Three Moments

Since N’s arrival, one of our sweetest big brother gestures(primarily Q just doesn’t pay that much attention to N) comes from Q stroking his face with N’s hair and announcing that he’s nuzzling N. Very gentle and tender.

Q is in a mildly perverse stage at the moment. Anything you say, eg: “It’s time for dinner,” is met with a contradicting declaration from Q, “It’s not time for dinner.” Sometimes in his own favor, but just as often he’s claiming something he doesn’t want. We’ve taken to using reverse psychology with this (he knows and finds it funny) and telling him to do things by telling him not to do things. Our favorite is, “Q is not going to kiss Mommy.” He begins to grin and says, “I’m going to kiss Mommy.” He kisses my knee and we act horrified and he giggles hysterically and announces he’s going to kiss someone else. (Even N!) Really, he’s in an endearing age.

Which brings me to last night. Sleep schedules are screwed up here. Due to heat, new baby, thunderstorms, you name it. Q woke from a nap at 7:30 last night and we let him sit with us in the den to eat his dinner, all four of us packed onto the couch, watching the Red Sox play the Yankees. So N is in my arms, successfully nursing on the side she tried to rip off recently, and Q gently leans his cheek into her hair once in a while, and I found myself looking down at these two beautiful children and tearing up. These are the moments you hope you can remember forever.

Monday, May 28, 2007


I’m fortunate to have a neonatal nurse as a sister-in-law. (Actually, that’s a bonus, she’s a great sil point blank.) I finally got a chance to chat with her about N and our stay in the hospital. While we’re in agreement that the doctors really need to improve their communication with parents, and that the ER seems to lack concern for actually spreading disease, she was warmly positive about the rate of concern with which N’s infection was approached by the pediatricians, and the course of treatment given by all the doctors.

So, if any further retraction of my grumpiness is necessary, I humbly apologize.

I also appreciate that the pediatrician who released us from the hospital has called both days since then to check on N.

And it looks like she’s developing a nice wholesome belly button after all. I was worrying she’d have nothing to pierce.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Hospital Rant

I was planning to write an entry about all the things I couldn’t do during pregnancy that I now can do, and the ones I’m still looking forward to. An appreciative piece about the body that’s not quite back in working order yet.

But I just spent the past two nights in the pediatric ward at the Yale New Haven Hospital. And now I’ve got other considerations balancing in my mind.

N’s umbilical cord fell off on Thursday morning, right before her 10 to 14 day check up. The belly button had worried one of the pediatrician’s her first week, and I had called in when it seemed to suddenly turn red in a few hours, but I’d been reassured that it looked fine on her previous (Monday) visit. However, Thursday’s pediatrician was very concerned and sent her for tests and consultations.

What followed was 5 hours in the ER. This is a horrible place- despite having a private room, I got nervous about their handwashing, and there was construction, literally just on the other side of the wall we were leaning against. I spent about 2 hours without seeing any of the doctors, and finally, desperate to pee, and not able to just leave the baby (hooked up to an IV), I had to prop open the door and flag down someone to find one of the consulting doctors. Who informed me that they were indeed going to admit her, and thus, me.

Now I don’t want to seem too critical. The doctors seem very conscientious and err on the side of caution. In the pediatric ward, all the staff was impeccable with their handwashing, gowning, gloving. The nurses were really kind, helpful, and attentive to my concerns and, more importantly, to the baby.

But the communication in the hospital was lousy. I might not have been real happy to hear what they were going to say (thus discouraging them from telling me), but they kept forgetting and neglecting to tell me what was expected of me and what was going on in their consultations. Example: I was admitted Thursday in the early evening. Around 8 pm on Friday, one of the nurses informed me that I wasn’t supposed to take the baby out of the room (we’d brought her onto the patio play area so Q could run around), and that I should be wearing a gown while in the room. (Naively I’d assumed that the gowns were to protect N, not to contain the germs to her.)

I found myself being increasingly frustrated by the conversations I had with the doctors. It was like being told, ‘Well, we’ll have to see what your father thinks’ in a cyclical pattern. Each time I was told ‘well, if her belly button looks good, we’ll let you take her home’ or ‘if her ultrasound is clear, you can take her home’ it was to meet with another obstacle, which, despite passing, all culminated in ‘you can’t take her home’. The very nice (I’m sure) chief resident seemed to want me to agree with the treatment, which I found ridiculous. I wasn’t consulted, it wasn’t discussed with me, I was simply told she had to stay. I’m not going to say I think that’s fine when I don’t. I can’t change it, and I’m not happy about it. (This same unfortunate resident had to break the news to me that the blood sample they took at 2:30 am had to be repeated because it had clotted.)

Ultimately, I’m a tired new mother, frustrated and unconvinced that anything was so wrong with my baby that she needed to be hospitalized. Their priority is the health of my baby, and I appreciate that. But leaving me hanging, wondering what was going on, and misleading me when I did get to talk to individual doctors was a serious disservice that left me more fragile and hostile than before.

J and I are grateful our family is all home and healthy again. I’m not even really sure how to resume my normal life- but I’ve realized that if some laundry isn’t done tomorrow, there will be dire consequences…

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


Her name is Nuala (pronounced: Nu-la).
6 lb, 4 oz.
19 inches long
1:27am on Mother’s Day.

I’m considering becoming a national spokesperson for epidurals. I thought I’d dislike the buzzy/novacaine feeling, which isn’t great, but it took away 100% of the pain (till the very last bit), and allowed me to actually know when I could/should push. (Not something my body was capable of with the previous delivery, probably sensory overload there.)

Fun details:
  • Saturday night I was sent home yet again from the hospital since dilation wasn’t happening, despite a day’s worth of increasingly exciting contractions.
  • We stopped at a barbeque (veggie burgers for us) on the way home, where my water broke in front of several old coworkers.
  • Someone took a photo of my stunned expression, while I waited for towels and the car.
  • I kept giggling and cracking jokes as they fitted me with a hep-lock (?) and watched my contractions. The nurses were quite bemused. (But they did call my veins ‘bouncy’ so how can I not giggle?)
  • Once the epidural was in, I went from 3 cm to 9.5 in approximately 1.5 hours. (After several hours to get to 3 from 1.)
  • I had to wake my husband to tell him that it was time for me to push.

Quinn is doing great (seems happy about her even…) and we’re trying to get enough sleep. My milk has come in and I look like a sloppy stripper. I’ll worry about my weight in a couple of weeks after we get our feet under us and some livable schedule established.

She looks like a Maurice Sendak baby.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

New phrases

My husband confessed that he heard Q talking to himself and demanding, “Where the H is my hammer?”

J looked at me innocently, “I have no idea who he learned that phrase from.”

Integrated into his normal conversation this week is a new (and much more positive) phrase that cracks me up everytime he uses it, “I be happy to!”

He uses it when I ask him if he’ll feed the kitties, “I be happy to!”
If he’d like to sit next to the milk gallon at the supermarket, “I be happy to!”
And most amusing, perhaps, he’ll ask, “Mom will you read to me?” Then answers for me, “Be happy to!”

How can I not be?

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Golden Day

It’s pouring here. It rarely rains so definitively in this region. Afraid of being trapped inside with an increasingly crabby child, I decided to run an errand about 30 minutes away at Baby Rus (named by a confused family member). I suggested to Q that we go run errands. He happily announced we were going on another ‘adventure’ and cooperated with trip preparations. I fear that some day my label of ‘adventure’ for running errands, or going to a new library, is just not going to fly with this boy. But I’ll take it while I can.

Miraculously, Baby Rus had the nifty tool I was looking for, as well as the bottle nipples I’m hoping to implement sometime in June. Afterwards, I realized that going straight home was a waste of resources. If we’d come all this way, we really ought to do one of our other shopping errands, pouring rain or not. I let Q decide, asking if we should head home. “Go to more buildings.” He stated firmly, mouth full of PB&J.

So I decided that I would risk the odds of the vacuum store being closed on a Sunday, and attempt to find one of the two places in Southeast CT where I can get replacement bags for our fancy, beloved vacuum cleaner. I started by taking a wrong turn. As I drove through a Waterford suburb, Q kept asking, “Where’s the vacuum store, Mommy?” Um, I have no idea? Somehow I managed to navigate through the unlikely suburb (normal routes would have one take frontage roads by the interstate) to a strip mall. Where the vacuum cleaner store had just opened 5 minutes earlier. I got two boxes. Should last us a good 6 to 12 months…

It was still pouring. But the grocery store at the strip mall beckoned with whispers of oatmeal and raisins, which Q has been asking for all week, at least, ever since we ran out. He sat cheerfully in a car cart through this trip. I’d parked by the vacuum store, so we got drenched, and I committed the cardinal sin of leaving a car cart stranded far from its corral.

We came home, unloaded, put away groceries, read books and tucked me into bed, and Q into his room for quiet time. I’ve given up on thinking he’ll nap, but if he stays in his room and lets me nap, it’s nearly as good as both of us napping. The sound machine will make ocean sounds for an hour, after which he’s allowed to come get me.

He ended naptime with our agreed upon closure, “Mommy did the ocean turn off? I can get Mommy the ocean turned off!” The twist? Boy is naked.

So after getting him dressed, we had more books, playing with Daddy, and dinner, where he ate broccoli, sunflower seeds, raviolis, oatmeal with raisins. The broccoli is a fabulous victory, recently born of Q being hungry enough in a restaurant to actually try broccoli again, which he used to love. The sunflower seeds are entirely new. Each time we add a new food to his repertoire, I feel a happy glow. I’m not willing to make an issue out of meals, but I’d like my philosophy of offering him variety to pay off eventually. Cheerfully he told us, “I smelling my seed flower suns.”

More playing with trucks, kissed the cat, kissed Daddy goodbye, fed the kitties, watered the plants, helped clean up toys, had a scrubby bath (ie with soap, hair washing and full out screaming), more books, and into bed.

And I realized that although there were some brief battles here and there (and absolutely no attempt at potty training), this was an absolutely golden day. He was funny and sweet and smart, telling me about the pots steaming and dinging, repeating that we were looking for a nifty tool, resisting a tantrum when I decided that another crib sheet was redundant (I have a linen fetish, and perhaps have passed this on). Today was one of the days I’ve been telling myself that I need to have with Q before the next kid arrives. I don’t have to sit home all day playing with his trucks, but simply remember to enjoy his little boy antics and snuggling to read with me.

Friday, April 13, 2007


After several time outs over kitty abuse today, it should come as no surprise that Q finally got scratched. Unfortunately he’d already been put to bed (twice), and the cat (she’s pathological) had snuck into his room, and was evidently hiding under his bed. I think he spotted her and did something (?) to piss her off. She was front declawed by previous owners, so I was relieved, to be honest, that he got scratched, not bit.

I had a little heart attack, since I only heard the result (screaming in pain) from downstairs. I wish it were a clear cut case of needing to get rid of the cat. She’s not a good tempered cat. But we’ve been surprised at how much she’s put up with, especially lately as he’s gotten bold. I really wish she weren’t so obsessed with interfering with bedtime. (Constantly having to be tossed out of his room at bedtime, she used to hop in his crib just as we were settling him down as a baby, walking between me and books as we’re reading.)

I also wish this were the sort of event that would instruct his little head not to mess with the kitties. (One time out was over deliberately stepping on the other cat’s tail. Usually he just pushes his luck, fiddling with their ears to watch them twitch, or chasing the mellow one from room to room…) Sigh

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


I just spent 10 minutes at Grandma’s house with Q sitting on the pot, not peeing. You can lead a toddler to the potty, but you can’t make him pee. We agreed that he could wear a diaper if he wasn’t going to pee. He seemed resigned to that. No accidents today though.

Last night- on the manners front- he was in the bath and announced, “Excuse me Cygnet,” (a friend watching him take a bath while sitting on the closed toilet), “I have to use the potty.”

We were stunned, and she quickly vacated the seat. He changed his mind, but nonetheless, it seemed like terrific progress.

He’s thoroughly enjoying ‘Time to Pee!’ by Mo Willems (suggested by Loree Griffin Burns). I was charmed that he recognized that the toy bus a child is driving in the illustration had a pigeon driving it. (An allusion to Willems’ book, ‘Don’t let the pigeon drive the bus!’)

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter in all its glory...

The least blurry photo. When I showed my husband the decorated truck last night he said, “Isn’t it a little, um, girly?” I pointed out that it was a truck, and how could that be girly? He said, “Yeah, but it’s a truck in drag!” Which made us both like it even more.

It took Q a while to spot it across the room, but when he did, he ran straight over to greet it. Love at first sight. But he’s carefully not neglecting the other beloved trucks now that he’s home. The ribbons didn’t last.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Newbery Award 2007

I am not always impressed by Newbery Award Winners. Some of winners in the first 20 years seem to have won just because there weren’t very many kids’ books being written, so anything with a serious topic and decent writing had to be applauded. And truly, ‘issue’ books always have an edge over other well written children’s books even now.

This year’s winner The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron caused a wild ruckus, due to the use of one word. The upset even includes omission from some children’s collections at libraries. In case that doesn’t yet sink in, think about it, this is the Newbery Award, the highest award we give children’s chapter books in this country. You can see an article in the “New York Times” on February 18, 2007 (sorry I can’t link to it because it’s now moved to their archives, but check access from your local library database) called “With One Word, Children’s Book Sets Off Uproar”.

What’s the one word? Scrotum.

Now, I’m definitely not someone who needs to use the word ‘Scrotum’ very often. And I don’t. But I am a big believer in using appropriate words to avoid confusion. I am a big believer that the forbidden is more exciting than the accepted. So when a huge fuss was being made over this book, I made a mental note to read it sooner rather than my eventual approach to the Newbery Award Winners.

My opinion now? Not only is the word ‘scrotum’ appropriate in context, but in many ways, I think I can argue that this word is crucial for the book.

The Higher Power of Lucky is about a motherless little girl who is desperately afraid that her beloved guardian will abandon her and return to France. Intertwined with her story is that of a small boy who is being raised by his grandmother while his mother, unknown to Miles, serves a prison sentence.

Most of all, what is frightening for these two children is the mysterious and unpredictable world of grown ups. Lucky is worried she will be left behind, so when she sees her guardian’s passport, and a mass of paperwork, she assumes that the next stop is a group home in Los Angeles. Miles’s mother never visits him, so he assumes that she simply doesn’t love him. Without accurate information, even children will tend to suspect the worst. And the worst is that we are unloved and unimportant.

‘Scrotum’ is not a word we need to shelter our children from. Near the end of the book, Lucky asks her guardian what the word ‘scrotum’ means, and the simple answer, reflected to me a larger truth. In attempting to ‘protect’ each other from the truths that affect each other’s lives, we can create greater problems than an anatomically correct vocabulary. When we know facts, the potentially horrible unknown no longer has power over us.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

More on Potty Training

In our attempt to deluge our toddler with potty training education, J picked up a handful (ie. all available) of books at the fancy new train hosting library. And two videos. I know we’re missing a few classics yet, but I thought I’d list the useful ones, with descriptions.

The star of the potty book show is Tinkle, Tinkle Little Tot: Songbook and CD: Songs and Rhymes for Toilet Training by Bruce Lansky. I’m not personally crazy about the cd, but Q happily listened through it several times. The illustrations are appealing and happy. But the rhymes, set to traditional tunes like ‘Twinkle Twinkle’ and ‘My Bonnie lies over the ocean’, are good. Our librarian called it addictive. You can’t help yourself. You end up muttering songs celebrating toilets and pee.

One morning this week, Q snuck into our room, picked up the book and recited my favorite one:

Hush little darling,
don’t you fret,
Let’s clean up,
your pants are wet.

Hush little darling,
don’t you cry,
Someday soon
you will stay dry.

Also good, with very simple visuals and text, is P.J. & Puppy
by Cathryn Falwell.
If you are lucky enough to have a 2 year old ambitiously potty training, I think this one would be brilliant. Parallels a child potty training with a new puppy paper training, complete with mistakes.

Very solid, although somewhat dated photos, is a nice classic by Fred Rogers, Going to the Potty (First Experiences). This is a really gentle, but matter-of-fact depiction of what potty training is all about. Nothing glamorous, but Q has had us read this multiple times.

Which brings me to one I do not recommend. In the Mr. Roger’s vein, Heidi Murkoff (of the What to Expect series for pregnancy, babies etc. series) has done a book on potty training. What to Expect When You Use the Potty has great illustrations and a very appealing main character, a dog, and Q loved looking at it. Unfortunately, it has text sophisticated enough that you might consider using it with a 6 year old. Hopefully most 6 year olds are potty trained, which seriously limits the usefulness of this book. Since Q loved the illustrations so much, we would sit and paraphrase each page, but it was a bit boring and annoying for the adults to deal with long explanations about food becoming energy for our body. It did bring up useful information with nice illustrations, such as where poop goes when you flush it away. But overall, it just didn’t have the usefulness of Mr. Rogers’ book on potty training.

Another fun book, not really about potty training, but often useful with potty training, since after all, we’re talking about poop all the time, is the newer classic Everyone Poops by Taro Gomi. Not every adult is into scatalogical humor, but, well, almost every small child tends to develop a sense of amusement about it, and this book is great for addressing the basic concept of food in: poop out.

I should note that I’ve seen some other books in libraries which I haven’t gotten a chance to read and evaluate yet. I’d love to hear from anyone who has read these or found other useful potty books!
Standards I hope to check out soon include:
Once Upon a Potty (Girl and Boy versions, and a video, which might be really useful) by Frankel;
The Potty Book (again in boy and girl versions) by Capucilli;
My Big Boy/Girl Potty by Cole.