Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Tale of Two Bunnies

I finally got around to taking Madeline's annual bunny picture before September gets away from us.  

Madeline isn't really enthusiastic about getting her picture taken these days.  Sometimes she straight-up tells me to put the camera away.

But usually, it goes something like this:

Maddie, smile.
No, a real smile.
Look at the camera.
Look at the camera and smile.
No, put your tongue away.  Smile.  

Then there's little sister who barely lays still long enough to stay in the frame.

Peace out, Mumma.

They're both like whatever, mom, we've got better things to do than pose with this dumb bunny.  

If they think they have it tough now, just wait till I show up to their graduations with the bunny under my arm.  I'm only half joking.  

Friday, September 26, 2014

Vivi: Forty Weeks

If our life this past week were to be made into a mini-series, it would be called "Les Trois Rousses Malades" or "The Three Sick Redheads."  It would be the most boring footage of us blowing our noses, lying on the couch looking sad, and watching too many hours of Disney Junior to count.  Very artsy.  

So far, Vivi has suffered the least of it with a runny nose and a slight cough.  I have my fingers crossed for her because I was KO-ed for a good 24 hours and now Eric is suffering its wrath.  We'll see.  

The big news in the land of Vivienne's is that she's crawling!  

Any time that she sees a coffee mug, an electric cord, or a lamp she's off!  My days of lounging on the couch eating bon-bons while she sits on the floor playing with cardboard boxes is officially over.  Shucks.  

I must say, she looks really cute when she crawls.  She wiggles her hips back and forth to propel herself forward like a wind-up toy.  

Obviously, she's been getting into Madeline's toys a lot.  I watch her very carefully when she makes her way toward M's Lego bin or bucket of dolls.  Vivi pulls the toys out one at a time, studies them closely, then tosses them in a pile before inspecting the next one.  She's so methodical.  

She's been saying "Mummmm Ma" a lot this week.  I don't think she knows what she's saying, but I'll take it!

She had a few rough nights of sleeping last week, but she seems to be settling back into a good rhythm now.  Her tummy is back to normal for now too.  

And getting a bunny picture this month?  Ummm...a nearly impossible feat.  

Monday, September 22, 2014

On Love Bugs and False Hopes

You guys...

I'm in love.  

Isn't she beautiful?  

I used to drive a VW Beetle...a lime green Beetle to be more specific.  Go big or go home, ya know?  

It had a sunroof and a flower vase.  I could always find it in a parking lot.  Children would punch each other in the arm when they saw me drive past.  It was fun, young, and so very me.  

The year before we had Madeline, I traded my Beetle in for something more "family friendly" and "practical".

My current car is dark gray.  It doesn't have a sunroof or a vase.  I can never find it in the parking lot because every other car looks exactly like mine.  I've even tried to get into the wrong car no more than one occasion.  It's a good car, really it is, but it's pretty boring.

Let's face it, my life is pretty boring these days.  But it doesn't have to be.    

Driving to preschool...Driving to the supermarket...Driving to the doctor...Driving to pick up, yet again, more diapers...It would all be so much fun in my bus!

As soon as I saw its picture float across my Facebook feed last week, I had one thought only: She will be mine.  Someday. Oh yes, she will be mine.

I texted the picture to Eric.  He said we could get it, but that he should never be expected to drive it.  I could live with that.  That night, I dreamt of carting my two kids, a dog, and even a tuba around in my mom bus.  

But alas, all dreams must come to an end.  I scoured the Internet looking for release dates, prices, any information about when this beauty could be mine.  There were conflicting reports....and then I learned the cold, hard truth.  Volkswagen has no plans to reintroduce a Microbus.

Damn you Internet and your false hopes!  Don't you know that it's dangerous to toy with the feelings of an exhausted mother desperately trying to reclaim her youth?  

And so, please, Volkswagen.  I implore you.  Make my dreams come true.

Vivi: Thirty-Nine Weeks

I had to look back at last week's update to remember how old Vivi is.  Second child, man, what can I say?

And, whoa Nellie, she's nine months?!  What's up with that? 
And she can do this?!

 Who is this munchkin?  What happened to that loaf of bread who used to sleep on me all day?

Seriously, I still sometimes think that Vivi was born last week. It felt like Madeline was a baby forever.  I basicaly had nothing else to do but watch her be a baby all day long.  This time around, life is not so laid back.  Vivi spends so much time being carted around our messy lives that I've forgotten to just watch her be a baby.  I've been trying to do more of that on the mornings when Madeline is in school.  I sit on the rug and focus on nothing but Vivi....and sometimes my pumpkin coffee.

This morning I watched her crawl across the playroom to try to pull a lamp over.  I stopped her before she got to the lamp for obvious reasons, but she was really, truly crawling.  She hasn't done it since (her toys are not as motivating as a lamp...that rascal), but I'm on the lookout to make sure it wasn't a fluke crawling. 

She is also taking steps while holding our hands for support.  She's a go-getter all right.

It's funny because Vivi figures out how to manipulate objects much more quickly than Madeline did.  She can press buttons, flip lids, and throw things with purpose.  But Maddie was ahead in terms of social interactions.  She could wave, clap, and say a few words by nine months.  Vivi doesn't do any of those things.  Mostly because whenever I try to show her how, she gives me a look that says, "I don't give a damn about choo and your clappin'!  Gimme that lamp!"  

Vivi has major stranger anxiety.  She had two doctor's appointments this week, and she gave the poor nurses and doctors a real earful.  (That lady is looking at me...Bwaaaa!)  And whenever a kind person tries to smile or wave at Vivi, she suddenly finds the floor fascinating.  

We discovered that Vivi has gained over 8 ounces since her last doctor's appointment three weeks ago.  She's moved up to the twelfth percentile.  Hoo-ray!  That formula certainly packs on the pounds.  

She had a poop attack again last weekend.  The doctors think we just need to give her more time to adjust to the formula.  They also recommend allergy testing when she turns one...which is only three months away?! How did this happen?!  

Tucked Away Memories

Every time Madeline draws a picture, she hangs it on the refrigerator with pride.  My kitchen is so cluttered with colorful squiggles, crude letter M's, princess stickers, and stamped handprints that one can barely tell that there's a refrigerator under the mess at all.  And so every few weeks, I sift through Madeline's masterpieces.  Most are placed discretely in the recycling bin, while the best of the bunch are tucked away in a box on top of our bookshelves for safekeeping.  

Meanwhile, Vivi outgrows clothing so quickly that I am constantly juggling what needs to be folded, donated, or discarded.  The most precious of her outfits are saved under her bed in a box that's identical to the one that holds Madeline's baby clothes.  

When the girls are grown, we'll open the lids and marvel that their feet were ever so tiny.  We'll smile at their early attempts at writing their names.  Favorite toys will bring up long-forgotten memories.  Some of the contents may be passed along to their own babies one day.  

Those boxes are mini museums housing the priceless artifacts of my children's lives.  And as the years pass, more and more boxes are stored under our beds, in the back of our closets, on the top of dusty shelves.  

But there's one box, safely nestled in my nightstand, that is never added to and will never multiply.  Ellis Jane, who came into this world still, has just a handful of items to prove she existed.  Her box  contains an envelope of photographs, her footprints, hospital bands, the clothing the nurses dressed her in, which miraculously still smells like baby.  

I used to pour through the contents of this box daily, then weekly, then every now and again.  Six years later, I am almost reluctant to open her box and be drawn back into that place of sadness. 
So much has filled the space between then and now that six years feel like another lifetime ago.

But today is her birthday, and today I will let myself remember.  Tonight, when the girls are safely tucked in bed, I will open the lid, flip through the photographs, study the footprints, and let my fingertips smooth out the wrinkles of her tiny pink sweater.  I will feel sad, and grateful, and maybe even an odd kind of peace.  Then the lid will close till next year.  

We love you, Ellis Jane, our forever baby.  

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Big Sister Strikes Back

We already know that little sisters can be obnoxious.  But as it turns out, big sisters can be just as bad.

M: Let's take a cute picture for Mumma.

V: Okay, I'm just gonna chew on this booger sucker.

V: Okay, I'm done.  Let me go.

M: Nope.  

V:  Let me go...

M: Nope.  

V: Very funny.  Seriously, let me go.  

M: Nope.

V: Quit it!

M: Nope.

V: Lemme go! Lemme go! Let. Me. Go!

M: Heh-heh...Nope.

V: (Whine. Whimper.)

M: And...nope.  

V: Are you kidding me with this crap?!

M: Look into my eyes...Nope!

V: Mumma!

M: I don't know what she's so upset about.  

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

We are Loved: We are Hated: Mostly We are Barely Tolerated

Going places used to be no big deal.  I was just another forgettable face in the crowd going about my frozen-pizza-buying business quietly and efficiently.  But now that I have two small children, we can't go anywhere under the radar.  Running errands is an event.  We've arrived everybody, stand back less you get sucked into our maelstrom of drool and budding estrogen!

I popped into Starbucks on a whim this morning because the pumpkin spice latte is back, and I think it's some sort of requirement for young, white, middle-class women like myself to indulge in at least one a week if we want to keep our lady bits thawed for the winter.  So since Madeline was at school, and I was in the same plaza doing errands anyhow, I thought I'd just pop in to satisfy my weekly quota.  (My town does not allow drive-thrus because they like to make parents of young children miserable.)

The barista behind the register threw us a smile, but it was clear that she was not thrilled to see a baby balanced on my hip.  Her words were welcoming, but her eyes read, "Okay, how's this baby and her bitch mother going to make my job harder?"  Her feelings were justified when ten seconds later, my spawn knocked an entire display of gift cards across the floor.

The woman behind the counter sighed wearily, her smile a little more rigid, as I apologized and tried to scoop up handfuls of the spilled cards.

"I have three kids at home," she nodded.  "I know how it goes."  Clearly, this woman was in no mood to deal with my child's shenanigans when she had her hands full cleaning up after her own.  And then she shouted toward the back, "Can someone come pick up these cards that just fell all over the floor?"

A manager poked her head out from behind the counter, a clear "WTF" etched between her eyebrows.

"The baby did it," the barista deadpanned, pointing in my direction.  The manager gave me another exasperated, frozen smile as she went about cleaning up our mess.

As I tried to disappear into the haze of artfully brewed coffee and glowing laptop screens, another customer started cooing over how cute Vivi is.  Then she launched into a history of her own teenage daughter.  My pumpkin spiced latte arrived, and still the woman chatted on about her child and mine.

And so, I find that the world's population can be divided into two main categories:  Strangers who are happy to see my kids and strangers who are most definitely not happy to see my kids.

People who are happy to see my kids include the following: most teen-aged girls, moms of much older children, men in business attire (who very rarely take the time to say anything to us, but smile nonetheless), the elderly, fellow redheads/ former redheads/ relatives of redheads, and grocery store cashiers. 

Meanwhile,  attractive young women on cell phones, moms/dads of young children who are trying to get a break by leaving them at home, grumpy old people, pretentious ass-hats*, and every member of the service industry, except for grocery store cashiers, are usually not happy to see my kids.

(* Special Note:  These people are not ass-hats because they don't like my kids.  I suspect many people view my children the way I view other people's pets.  Sure, that hamster seems nice, but I just don't know him well enough to find him cute and/or particularly interesting.  And that's okay.  These people are ass-hats because their heads are in the wrong place, AND they don't like my kids. This includes the lady who spent twenty minutes inspecting and critiquing every slice of meat she ordered at the deli the other day, but who also gave me a dirty look when Madeline knocked over a package of kaiser rolls.  Move along, lady.  Move along.)

There's also a third category of people who don't notice my kids either way.  This includes the moms/ dads who also have their young children with them because A. They are two busy dealing with their own brood to bother with mine, and B: They think their kids are cuter anyhow (false).  This third category also includes most adolescent males who don't notice much of anything at all.

Here's what a recent trip to the grocery store looked like for me and my girls:

Vivi spent the entire time growling, giggling, pulling Maddie's hair, and kicking her in the head.  Maddie spent the entire time screeching, giggling, and pretending to be angry.  (I know M looks sad in these pictures, but don't be fooled.  She was egging Vivi on the whole time.)

Some people smiled at our chaos.  Some scowled.  Some laughed.  Some threw me looks of absolute horror.  Some were too busy blocking the aisle to notice us standing there at all.  Some stopped to compliment Maddie's hair and talk about their ten redheaded grandchildren.

We're now out of paper towels, but I'd rather let the girls wipe their faces with bits of toilet paper than bother with bringing them to the store.  I hope that brings the people who are not happy to see my kids at least some measure of comfort.  And I won't be going to Starbucks anytime soon either.  I'll drive two towns over to use the drive-thru.