Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Letters to Maddie Bear: August, 2014

Dear Madeline,

This is the last letter I will write to you as a three year old.  How bananas is that?  

Four years is not a lot of time. Some days I can't believe that the child standing before me is you.  But at the same time, you're so much an essential part of our lives that it doesn't seem possible that you've only been here for four years. How did the world manage to spin before there was a Maddie Bear?  How did the sun manage to rise?  

A year ago, I predicted that three would be an important year for you, and it has been.  Not only did you become the world's greatest big sister, but you've grown in so many new and exciting ways.  You're taller and leaner.  Your baby curls have gone.  You can communicate what you're thinking and feeling without resorting to tantrums.  You remember the past and dream about the future.  

For example, you want to be a mumma when you grow up.  Sometimes you choose a career like a doctor, a chef, a teacher, or a pilot instead, but you always add, "A pilot and a Mumma."  

One of your favorite games is to pretend that you are a grownup visiting me at my house with your babies.  You enter the room on your mouse scooter, two dolls tucked under your arms, and tell me how the traffic was.  Then you ask me how my day is going, introduce your babies, and tell me to make them some mac n' cheese.  I hope you visit often when you really are a grownup.  I'll even make mac n' cheese.  

You're incredibly interested in the natural world.  Outer space and the human body  fascinate you the most.  Sometimes you draw me pictures of bones, veins, and brains.  Today you brought me a page full of scribbles and said, "Mumma, I drew your blood. Wanna hang it up?"  It's now hanging on the fridge.

We went to The Museum of Science in Boston a few weeks ago where you got to assemble a life-sized replica of a female body.  I thought you'd be freaked out when the lady handed you a giant kidney and instructed you to place it in the body cavity.  Nope.  You were so into it.  You didn't move until the final organ was placed.  

You're also very curious about how things are made.  How's bread made, Mumma?  How are people made, Mumma?  How are leaves made, Mumma? 

It's so incredibly cool that you're interested in these things. You are so, so smart.  

Legos are your favorite toy.  You make jails, houses, airplanes, and dinosaurs out of them.  The other day you played with nothing but Legos from morning to night. Dada loves it!  

We have two new girls around your age living across the street.  You adore them. They yell hello to you from the windows of their house, and you call right back.  It's super cute.  

You're still not quite sure how to interact with other kids sometimes.  You're a little bit shy, and a little bit confused by the games they want to play.  They seem confused by you too.  I sometimes worry about your gentle spirit.  You don't have any meanness in you, and you're a little too willing to be bossed around.  

However, we were very proud to witness you stand up for yourself while playing with a boy from the neighborhood a few days ago.  He kept trying to put you in "prison," and eventually you got right up in his face and roared at him.  Then he pretended to take all your powers away, and you very sassily replied, "Well, I've got even more frozen powers!"  Gender politics at the preschool level, and you go girl!

Finally, we went shopping for fall clothes the other day, and you're still wearing the same shoe size as you were last year.  In clothing, you're all over the place.  I bought skirts in size 2T so they'd fit around the waist, pants in 4T for the length, and shirts in 5T so they'd cover your belly.

You've been taking naps on the couch all week, and you haven't napped regularly since last fall.  I think you may be growing.  Hope we didn't jump the gun on those new shoes...

I'm always so proud of you, so awed by you, so humbled by the responsibility of caring for you.  You've taught me much more than I've ever taught you, my beautiful, brilliant little girl.  


Monday, August 25, 2014

Parenting, Currently

This is what I'm currently staring at:
That's M's polka-dotted bum in the air as she stands on her head.  She's been doing this for the past twenty minutes instead of sleeping.  I'm surprised she hasn't passed out from all the blood rushing to her head.  

 I have a sneaking suspicion that she's mooning me on purpose.  She knows how badly I want her to go to sleep.  She knows how much it annoys me when she won't let her body be calm at bedtime.  And she knows that there's not a damn thing I can do about it cause I'm nursing Vivi and don't want to risk waking her up to admonish Madeline.  

She knows.  She knows it all.  Asses up, ma!  Your move!  

Friday, August 22, 2014

Vivi: Thirty-Three, Thirty-Four & Thirty-Five Weeks

Wow, I let myself get way behind writing Vivi's weekly updates.  Second child syndrome rears its ugly head!  Sorry, Vivi.

Vivi wants to crawl so badly.  She's still not sure how to get one of her knees out behind her.  Instead she rocks her body back and forth while she leans forward on her hands like she's getting ready to launch.  In the meantime, she's figured out how to scoot about without crawling.  She moves all around the playroom to reach the toys she wants.  She arms crawls backwards when she's on her tummy.  Pretty soon everything will click in place, and she'll be following me around the house instead of crying every time I put her down.  Also, I better start cleaning the floors more often.

Sleep is becoming a real issue.  Her patterns are getting worse instead of better.  In April, she was starting to sleep for eight-hour stretches, and she took two solid naps a day.  Now, she wakes up two to three times during the night, and she very rarely naps unless it's a quick snooze while she nurses.

I know she would be a much happier baby if she were better rested, we're just struggling to find a way to make that happen.  We had a plan of action for Madeline, but we're having a hard time finding something that works well for Vivi.  Anyone have any tips?

She's been eating her  cocktail of prunes, juice, oatmeal, and laxatives every day, and it's still working.  We haven't had any more tummy troubles since starting the medication.  Now that she's not getting backed up every time she eats, I've been able to give her more solids.  She likes getting food other than prunes!   

On the other hand, Vivi's eczema has been terrible over the past month.  It's spreading to her chest, but her ankles and the backs of her knees are still the worst areas.

I opened her pajamas one morning while we were in Vermont to find her covered in an unsightly itchy, red rash, so we brought her to a walk-in clinic at a local hospital.  Guess what?  She's allergic to her eczema cream...her hypoallergenic, fragrance free, dye free, National-Eczema-Association- recommended baby moisturizer.  This was the second hypoallergenic brand we've tried that she reacted poorly to.  So...yeah...there's that.

We met with the GI specialist yesterday, and while he was pleased with her weight gain, (15 lbs, 10th percentile) he was worried by her rash.  She has so many strange symptoms even though I've changed my diet.  And while her tummy is getting better, it's taking two daily medications to get there.  

In a round-about way, he basically told me to switch to formula.  Breastfeeding is best, but not if it's continuously making my baby uncomfortable.  He suggested I pump while we add in more formula to see if her symptoms improve.  That way, I won't loose my supply if the formula doesn't work out.  

Even before we saw the doctor, I wanted to start adding in formula.  First, I'm worried that my supply isn't keeping up with Vivi's demands.  There's been a lot of biting and pulling and fussing while eating recently.  Secondly, as the doctor suggested, I wanted to see if it helped her out.

Eric buckled down and really tried to get her to take a bottle of her hypoallergenic formula this week.  The first few times she wasn't having it, but eventually, she gave in.  Yesterday she had two bottles without incident.  We'll continue to gradually add in more bottles over the next week before Eric goes back to work.  Then we'll have to see if she'll take a bottle from me.  We'll see.

It's funny.  I thought I was better prepared to have a baby the second time around, and in a lot of ways I am, but this baby just keeps throwing more surprises my way.  Parenthood is one giant experiment.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Vivi's First Ice Cream (Sorbet)

We've all heard the sob stories of the second child.  Not only does Vivi miss out on ever having mom and dad to herself, but all her toys are hand-me-downs, and everyone is much less impressed with her milestones.  Like...Oh, you rolled over?  Well bully for you, kid.  Your big sister can do simple math.  Why don't you learn to do that, then we'll talk.

But there's one thing she didn't miss out on: Maddie's first taste of ice cream was at Ben & Jerry's, and Vivi's first taste of ice cream was at Ben & Jerry's.  (To see Maddie's first trip to the ice cream gods, see here.)

Dairy allergy be damned! Only the finest for my girls!

 When we visited the Ben & Jerry's factory in Vermont last week, I was not planning on sharing my mango sorbet with God or anyone.  I certainly wasn't considering letting Vivi, who seems to be allergic to air, try any.

But as soon as the cone entered her line of sight, it was love.  It would be hers.  Oh yes, it would be hers. And so I tried, in vain, to wrestle her greedy, nugget-y hands away from it.  Her feet kicked in anticipation, her fingers dove into the sorbet, her mouth opened like a baby bird, and she nearly wiggled herself away from me.

I caved.  I held the cone up to her mouth and let her slobber all over it.  

Boy, did she love it.  I mean, she really loved it.  I have never seen her so excited about food before.  Every time I pulled the cone away from her lips, she grunted in frustration.  She was so enthusiastic that she kept taking giant bites only to find she couldn't handle holding so much frozen food in her gums and spitting it back out.

I watched her carefully for the rest of the day in case she turned out to be allergic to mango, but she was fine.  So fine, in fact, that we visited a different Ben & Jerry's the next night to repeat the scene for my parents.

Madeline saw Vivi's enthusiasm for mango sorbet, and decided she needed to have the same flavor.  It was a hit with her too!

Needless to say, I bought a whole mess of mangoes at the supermarket today.  Mango puree coming to a baby near you!

Monday, August 18, 2014

It's a Sunny Day on the Farm

Vivi has a Fisher Price "book" about farm animals that talks and sings.  Your child may also have this book, and if so, I'm sorry.  It opens with the line, "It's a sunny day on the farm," followed by, "It's time to play with our animal friends!"

However, Madeline always says, "It's time to cook our animal friends!" instead. (She likes to pretend that it's a cookbook.)  At first I was worried by her desire to cook the cute baby animals, but meh...she's right.

While in Vermont, we visited Shelburne Farms right outside of Burlington.  Madeline was petting some sheep, and I asked when they would be shorn.  The teenage farm hand whispered, so as not to upset the children, that these sheep were for eating, not wool.  Sorry, Lambchop...

Across the barnyard, we saw some adorable piglets napping amongst a pumpkin patch.  Every few feet, there was another tiny piglet hidden beneath the vines with the remnants of half-eaten pumpkins strewn about them.  This was really adorable.  Also, pumpkin-fed pigs probably make excellent bacon.  As do the acorn-fed turkeys living next to the piglets.
Sleep soundly, little pig.
I obviously know where meat comes from, and if I had my choice, I would much rather my food live a happy life amongst a pumpkin patch than a miserable existence in some giant stockyard.  Yet, from my position in suburbia, it's pretty easy to forget that farms are not just some cute place to visit with the kids.  It's time to cook our animal friends indeed, Maddie Bear.  How right you are. that I've left you with these are some cute pictures of my family.

Shelburne Farms is immense.  There's a wagon that brings visitors around the property, but we missed the ride when we first got there.  Rather than wait for the next wagon, we decided to walk the half-mile to the barnyard.

We saw some (slightly creepy) statues along one of the paths, and then realized that with the right stick, they were really instruments.

That's the barnyard in the background.  It looks like a fortress.  It now houses the children's barn, cheese making, a bakery, a wood smith, and a school.  Oh, how I would love to send Madeline and Vivi to that school so that they will be able to live off the land should the zombie apocalypse come upon us.  

Chickens roam the barn freely, so there's an area to leave any eggs visitors may find.  There were lots of kiddos chasing chickens, but Maddie was all set with that.  

She had no problem riding the tractor in the play room however...

Oh, dear God, they're not acorn-fed people....are they???

We got some goodies from the bakery.  I call this next photo, "No, You May Not Have My Cookie, Vivienne!"

And this one is called, "Fine, I'll Just Eat Some Grass Instead."  

When we were done visiting the barn, we (or rather I) decided it would be a good idea to hike to the top of a hill to admire the view.  Eric was carrying the baby, so why not?

The flowers were worth it...

The view was worth it.

Madeline took this next one.  

If you ever find yourself in this area of the globe, I can't recommend this place enough.  We didn't even see the inn, of which there are tours complete with afternoon tea.  How Downton Abbey is that?!  Next time...

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Riding in Cars with Kiddos

There was a time when I knew the route to my parents' cabin in Vermont so well that I could make the 200 mile drive in under three hours.  I knew how fast I could safely drive without getting a ticket or careening off the side of a mountain.  I knew where the best restrooms were if I had to use them, which I usually didn't.  And I knew where to get food, which I did even less.  This was before children of course.  

By the time we made it over the Vermont border on our way home today, we already had made three stops.  We made two more stops on our way through New Hampshire.  Three stops actually if you count peeking in at a gas station restroom only to find that there wasn't a changing table.  The Dunkin Donuts across the street didn't have a changing table either, but the nice man behind the counter offered me a gigantic trash bag to lay across the floor.  Epic poops call for epic measures, I guess.  Gross.  
All in all, it took us almost five hours to get home.  

I don't mind long car rides.  I like seeing new places.  I like shuffling through songs on the radio.  I like that Eric and I get a chance to have meaningful debates such as where the capital of the American wizarding world would be located.  

But as exciting as it is to set off for new adventures in the car, eventually you have to drive home, which is never as fun.  By then, there's nothing new to look at.  I can't find a song worth listening to on the radio, and those cute little debates are starting to seem more like couple's therapy.  Add a bored preschooler and a crying, pooping, hungry baby to the mix, and needless to say, we just wanted to get home as quickly as possibly this afternoon.

When we finally reached Massachusetts, things were starting to get weird in our car.  Maddie was whining because she wanted to hold a bag of pasta.  Vivi was crying.  I was belting out "I Guess That's Why They Call it the Blues" along with the radio.  Eric had a headache.  And thus, our wonderful vacation came to an end.

Ironically, on the way up to Vermont, back when we were fresh-faced and eager to explore, there were several stops we wanted to make but couldn't.  We drove an hour out of the way to have lunch at the Long Trail Brewery.  But when we got there, both girls were sleeping soundly.  Since two sleeping children in the hand are worth more than two cranky children in the bush, we just kept on driving.  That trip took about six hours, but hey, at least the girls got in a good nap.

The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry...especially if you have kids.  

These are the faces of three insane people stuck in traffic in the middle-of-nowhere Vermont.  Vivi was there too, but busy either pooping or crying.  It's a toss up.  

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

M & V: Summer, 2014

I am copying this idea from Elise Blaha, who copied it from A Beautiful Mess.  I was inspired to compare the interests of Madeline and Vivienne this summer and plan on doing so again every few months to illustrate how they are growing and changing.  

  M  &  V

Wearing: Blue Polka Dot Sun Hat- Old Navy/ Yellow Polka Dot Sun Hat- Old Navy (Maddie Bear hand-me-down)
Playing: Duplos/ Sorting Blocks
Reading: Little Bear / Princess Tag Book (It doesn't have the greatest story line, but she does love to chew on it.)  
Eating: Handfuls of blueberries/ Prunes AKA Poop Cocktail   
Watching: Barbie: Swan Lake (M borrowed this from the library.  She only watched it once, and didn't even get to finish it because there was a scratch on the DVD, but she says it's her favorite movie.  Bold claim.) / V doesn't watch TV.  She's too busy watching life.