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Four Months Old

Dear Baby A,

On January 30th, it was four months since the day of your birth. I know it’s the worst cliché ever, but I can’t help it: the days have flown by. I cannot believe we are already here.

Life with you and your brother has its exasperating moments. There have been lots of runny noses between the two of you, and some rough nights as a result. I’ve been frustrated many times. I’ve asked myself What is going on with this baby?? on more than a few occasions. When you cry, I feel my nerves fraying rapidly.

But I’m never actually frustrated with you. You are still pure innocence. You do what your circumstances dictate. And honestly, most of the time you are a sweet, happy, laid-back baby.

We love it when you talk. You get on a roll, making all kinds of sounds, both lilting and screechy. I can’t get enough of it. (It’s even cute – though slightly less so – when you decide that the middle of the night is a good babbling time.)

You’re also very physically motivated. At your two-month appointment, you impressed our doctor with your posture on your tummy: he looked at you pushing up and said in surprised tones, “She’s way past forty-five degrees.” (Whatever that means – it’s definitely good.)

When we put you on your back on your mat to play with toys suspended above you, you grab them right away with very deliberate hands, and fully engage with them. You’re great at getting your own hands into your mouth (so good that you regularly gag on them). And once we tried you in the jolly jumper, you got the hang of it almost instantly.

At four months, your brother was also grabbing things and making cute sounds, but you’re even more determined. We’re pretty sure you’ll be crawling and walking earlier than he did.

Speaking of your brother… it’s amazing to see how much joy you get out of each other’s presence.

Also, you’re just delicious. Your cheeks are delectable and your eyes are lustrous and your soft little hands are irresistible. Your chortles are still rare enough that it feels like a gift when they happen. When you grin at us, it’s so captivating that we ask ourselves, What could I possibly have done to deserve this awesomeness? Could I be as wonderful as she thinks?

Basically, when I look at your sweet little face, it makes me so happy that I feel like bursting. In a good way. I love you more than my heart can even hold.

Here’s a silly little video I made to celebrate.

***


 

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Is “a bit of fresh air” really worth it?

Let’s take a walk!

What could be more invigorating, more wholesome, more beneficial for body and soul? I can take the kids, we can all get some fresh air, and the baby can have a nice lung-cleansing nap.

On Wednesday I took my children for a walk around the neighbourhood. We have been graciously handed down a “sit-and-stand” stroller from a friend, so I could put A on the front in her car seat, and E could choose to sit or stand at the back, or walk.

We’ve done this a few times, and it works fairly well. E is happy and keeps his eyes open for tire swings and other interesting facets of people’s houses and yards. For instance, when we passed the house with the gaudy hot-pink garage door, he exclaimed, “That’s a SO beautiful pink garage!” and then proceeded to repeat pink garage, pink garage to himself for the next block or two.

on a walk with a preschooler
Wide-eyed at the environs.

Plus, A is ridonculously cute in her fuzzy snowsuit thingy.

baby in the stroller
Getting sleepy on the ride.

The stroller is rather large and unwieldy, but it’s worth a bit of straining around corners to have both children contentedly bundled and riding.

By Friday, it had turned snowy. That tipped the balance: given the number of households likely to have cleared their sidewalks (not many), I was not willing to try manoeuvring the behemoth on snow.

That is how Friday afternoon found me lugging the singleton jogging stroller up from the basement. That thing corners like it’s on rails… relatively speaking, of course. I should ask my son to just walk, so we don’t need a stroller – he actually has pretty good endurance – but it’s harder in the snow. When he poops out, I won’t be able to carry him on my back. The whining that would therefore ensue is not an option today. (I know you feel me, mamas.)

Strap on the 3.5-month-old in the baby Trekker. Find a hat that fits her fast-growing head. Don my sister’s voluminous blue second-hand Coat of the Nineties, because it is big enough to zip up around the baby. Situate folded receiving blanket where it will (I hope) absorb the most drool.

Help three-year-old with coat, hat, boots, mittens. Equip him with a snack. Let him clamber into the stroller. Opt not to do up the safety straps because frankly, this kid has gotten huge.

Navigate out the door. Lock door with one hand while preventing stroller from tumbling down stairs of front stoop with other hand.

Whew – it’s chilly. That’s a windchill. (It’s -13C with wind – that’s 9F for the Yanks.)

After we’ve passed about six houses, I stop and awkwardly put the plastic weather shield on the stroller so that E doesn’t freeze. It’s wrinkly, ripping at the seams, and generally disreputable from being bunched up in the storage basket. Between that and the highly fashionable coat I’m wearing, I allow myself a giggle at what an awesome mom-picture I must make.

A is gazing as far up into the trees as the head support for the carrier will allow. She has, of course, positioned herself such that she’s drooling onto the coat. Actually, she’s sort of licking it dreamily.

Well. Getting ourselves going was a production, but now it’s pretty! Lovely and white! Not to mention invigorating!

Until we turn westerly. I realize too late that any road we take heading vaguely west enables the wind to blow the cavernous hood off my head, so that there is no barrier for A’s face. She gasps as the wind steals her breath, and pieces of my ears begin to crumble away in icy chunks. I shield her with a mittened hand, steering with my other hand, as she complains. Good thing the stroller is so light and lithesome. Kind of. With a 35-pound kid in it.

The whole nap idea is not working out as I’d hoped. Instead of sleeping, baby fusses periodically as we change direction, taking the shortest possible route home.

She finally falls asleep about a block from our house, on our own street where the trees shelter us. I ask E, “Hey buddy, you doing okay?”

There’s no answer. I peek over the shade. My son, who has not had a regular afternoon nap in well over a year, has also fallen asleep. Or frozen in place, I suppose.

I do an extra lap of my street, trying to make the most of the situation. The longer E naps, the more it will screw up his bedtime. The shorter A naps, the grumpier she will be at dinner hour. I’m sure I could figure out the optimal length of time using calculus – if I remembered any.

In my wish that E will awaken cheerful and enlivened when we arrive home, I am sorely disappointed. His circuitry has somehow gotten stuck on whine mode in his sleep.

So that settles it. We’re going to make popcorn for dinner and then commence hibernation. It’s way more fun to hang out all day in our pajamas anyway.

baby girl and big brother
Yay pajama party!

All you mamas and daddies with three or more children who EVER get out of the house as a group… I bow down to you. You have my eternal admiration.

***

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Happy New Year!

It’s January Seventh, Twenty-Thirteen! Happy new year (more or less), Di-hards. It’s the first day back to school, the 13th day after Christmas. As good a day as any for a new year post in which I lighten up a little bit… with a silly celebratory questionnaire meme. Woo hoo!

{Disclaimer: Dilovely wrote these responses, with minimal actual consultation… but Sean gave the go-ahead.}

1. What did you do in 2012 that you’d never done before?

Me: Taught kindergarten; took up the ukulele; tried Aztec soup; and, um… oh, gave birth to a daughter.

Sean: Quit retail; learned machining; measured lots of stuff to within a tolerance of like two thousandths of an inch.

E: Turned three; began learning to read; ate (and liked) cornbread, macaroni, zucchini; swam with only pool noodles; started drawing people, cars, horses, etc. with gusto.

A: Existed, had cells, moved limbs, got born – yahoo!

 

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Me: Ummm… Did practice my uke, but not as much as I meant to. Didn’t become paragon of fitness – became pregnant instead.

Sean: Yes! Kept them perfectly preserved for this year.

E: I can totally say the word “resolution.”

A: Yes, I was born alive and healthy. Wait – that was Mommy’s resolution, but I pulled it off.

 

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Me: Me. I’m pretty close to me. Oh, AND at least six other friends with awesome babies. Yay! Love you and your babies!

Sean: See above.

E: Mommy. And Skye. I even drew a picture.

A: Mommy. I was right there. It was intense, dude.

 

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Me: Gramma Sue.

Sean: Nana and Grandad.

E: Grammie and Papa’s cats.

A: My placenta.

 

5. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?

Me: My waistline would be nice.

Sean: Freedom from acquisitiveness. In fact, I have made my wife a deal to this effect. There will be no talk of or wheedling for or purchase of gadgetry of any kind in 2013. Now it’s public.

E: Rollerblades! And of course, MY OWN iPAD. (Not gonna happen.)

A: How ’bout teeth? And perhaps independent mobility.

 

6. What countries did you visit?

Me: None.

Sean: None.

E: Remember that time we went to England? And I know we went to North Carolina, too. Mommy, yes we did!

A: Is Uterus a country?

 

7. What date from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why:

Me, Sean: A’s birthday, September 30th. Also, I’m pretty sure December 14th is etched upon the collective memory of all of us. Fortunately for us, there’s a happy reason to remember that date too – the Birth Day of Skye’s son!

E: My birthday! And Christmas! Because obviously.

A: September 30th was exhausting, but October 1st was pretty cool.

 

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Please see #1.

 

9. What was your biggest failure?

Me: Failure to get dressed properly – or get my children dressed properly – more days than I care to count.

Sean: That time I got only 92% on my shop project… brutal.

E: That 2 I drew doesn’t look like a 2!!! No, it’s NOT GOOD!!! (Inherited Daddy’s perfectionism.)

A: Are you kidding? I’m a baby. I’m always awesome.

 

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Me: Two stitches to my girl parts, if you really want to know.

Sean: I was constantly afflicted by tiny, razor-sharp, burning-hot pieces of metal hitting my skin during my machining course… But it’s okay. It just increases my manliness.

E: Innumerable runny noses.

A: I’m pretty sure my brother gave me that nose problem… but I eventually kicked it.

 

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Me: A deal with the dev– with my husband. (See #5 – bought with a certain Apple gadget.)

Sean: Ha ha hahaha! Let’s not go there.

E: With these coins, I can get some rollerblades! Right?

A: Lots of adults doing goofy things. Bought with pure cuteness.

 

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

Me: Baby A’s, when she slept 7 hours in a row that one time.

Sean: Mine, whenever I clean the kitchen. Because when I clean the kitchen, it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen.

E: My parents celebrate whenever I have a whine-free day.

A: Those adults doing goofy things, especially dancing. I like to celebrate them with enormous grins.

 

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Me: Harper Harper Harper. And McGuinty and Broten.

Sean: Cyber bullies and gun nuts.

E: Mommy and Daddy, when they won’t give me back the Os I drop on the floor.

A: Mommy and Daddy, when they strap me into that car seat. It’s an outrage.

 

14. Where did most of your money go?

Me: What money?

Sean: To Apple… and back.

E: I have a piggy bank now!

A: What’s money?

 

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Me, Sean: Baby!

E: Sister!

A: Glahkkhhaa!

 

16. What song will always remind you of 2012?

Me:

Sean:

E: Auntie Em discovered this song at the Jazz Festival and I became obsessed with it. (She is mostly responsible for my musical education.) I even have special moves I do with it.

A: That thumping sound from the womb. It was rad.

 

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

i. happier or sadder?

Me: happier

Sean: happier

E: happier, then sadder, then happier, then sadder

A: N/A

ii. thinner or fatter? Is this really relevant? Yes, we’re avoiding the question.

iii. richer or poorer? Eight months of unpaid pre-apprenticeship + four months of mat leave… ‘Nuff said.

 

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Me: Exercising and eating vegetables.

Sean: Eating vegetables and exercising.

E: Playing on the iPad!

A: Nudity. I love being naked… if only it weren’t winter.

 

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Me: Waiting in waiting rooms… but it was worth it.

Sean: Reading the news – but then, I do love knowing everything.

E: Sleeping. Sleeping is so boring.

A: THE CAR SEAT. Still trying to convince my parents.

 

20. How will you be spending did you spend Christmas?

All: With all three sets of grandparents (separately), and all the aunts and uncles and cousins we could muster!

 

21. There was no #21. I don’t know why there was no 21. Please feel free to submit one! I promise to answer.

 

22. Did you fall in love in 2012?

Me, Sean, E: Yes, with the baby!

A: Yes, with my own two hands! I wanna eat them up!

 

23. How many one-night stands?

What kind of a question is this? Do most people have that many to count up per year?

 

24. What was your favorite TV program?

Me: How I Met Your Mother, Community, BBC’s Sherlock miniseries.

Sean: Same… AND, they finally have Star Trek TNG on Netflix!

E: It’s between Backyardigans and Busytown Mysteries.

A: I think it’s called Adults Doing Goofy Things – and for some reason it’s on most of the time I’m awake.

 

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

What is this, junior high? “Hate” seems like such an immature word.

 

26. What was the best book you read?

Me: Belong to Me, by Marisa de los Santos, was compulsively readable.

Sean: Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck (a re-read, of course).

E: Berenstain Bears – lots of ones, like “Get Into a Fight“?

A: I like the story called Shhhhhh.

 

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Me: The excellent user experience of GarageBand for Mac.

Sean: The Lumineers.

E: Peter Gabriel has cool music videos. (Auntie Em showed me.)

A: There’s music!

 

28. What did you want and get?

Me: A baby.

Sean: An iPad Mini. Oh, and a baby.

E: A ramp for my cars that goes like this: {insert frenetic multi-loop-the-loop gesture}

A: My hands! To my mouth!

 

30. What was your favorite film of this year?

Me: The Hunger Games.

Sean: The Avengers.

E: I love Tangled.

A: The movie of life.

 

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

Me: 34, and who remembers that far back? I’m sure it was awesome.

Sean: 35, and my first day of machinist training.

E: I turned 3, had about four birthdays, and I got presents! And cake!!

A: Full-body massage in the birth canal. Aw yeah.

 

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Immeasurably? More satisfying? How unsatisfied are we supposed to be at this point?

 

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?

Me: Pajamas au lait.

Sean: Safety boots and coolant. (As if I could be any cooler.)

E: I’d be a dragon all the time if I could.

A: How should I know? I’m swaddled at least 16 hours out of 24.

 

34. What kept you sane?

Me: Same thing that drives me crazy: my kids. Plus: you guys.

Sean: Same thing that drives me crazy: doing everything as perfectly as possible.

E (direct quote): I’m not sane.

A: Khlaaaya!

 

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Me: It’s always James. Even though he did ZERO films in 2012. I’m not bitter. Until the next one, I’ll say Rick Mercer as well.

Sean: Scarlett Johanssen was awesome before… and now she’s Black Widow. Zowie.

E: Lightning McQueen.

A: Ceiling fan.

 

36. What political issue stirred you the most?

Me: Probably that teacher thing.

Sean: Harper’s Omnibullsh*t bill.

E: Equal access to my parents’ gadgets.

A: Freedom from bondage (a.k.a. swaddling) and the right to smack myself in the face if I so choose.

 

37. Who did you miss?

Sebastian. Also, please see #4. Also, sorry to say goodbye to Maurice Sendak, Ray Bradbury, Nora Ephron, Sally Ride, Neil Armstrong, Ravi Shankar, Maeve Binchy, and Dave Brubeck, among others.

 

38. Who was the best new person you met?

Me: Some amazing new readers and bloggers!

Sean: My carpooling partner, Rob. We have Guy Love.

E: Daniel, at Camp. I want to live in Ottawa now.

A: Who can pick? I met EVERYBODY this year.

 

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012:

Me: Time and patience will get you there eventually.

Sean: Don’t put your hand in the lathe chuck. Also, avoid letting your technology control your life.

E: Screeching and whining will not get me what I want. (Actually, we don’t know if this is fully learned yet.)

A: Crying will get me: milk, cuddles, diaper changes, and any number of cool sounds and funny faces.

 

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:

“Baby, baby, baby, gonna love you so.”

kids ages three years, three months
Love you so.

***


 

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Gifts That Can’t Be Wrapped

This Christmas has been special. I am grateful for many things.

Especially:

The presence of my big brother – Uncle Ben – which means that all four of us “kids” were together at Christmas. This has not happened often in the last decade.

baby playing cards
Playing Shanghai as a team.

Furthermore, you can’t imagine a more doting uncle. He is the first to volunteer to take the baby and love her to pieces when she’s up for grabs.

So, so grateful for family – both nuclear and extended.

Then there’s the very presence of a baby at family gatherings. It’s well worth the interrupted activities, half-eaten/lukewarm meals, and sleep loss to be able to bring a shiny little smile-maker to parties and watch her inspire ridiculously huge grins and other silly antics all over the place.

She also gave us a present. She was so close to success, so we practiced extra-hard on Christmas Day, and she finally gave us… a laugh (-ish thing)! Several of them, actually. Of course she seemed to be done by the time we got the video going… but listen to the end and see what you think.

Big brother E is pretty awesome (as long as everything is going his way, ha ha – sigh). These are his “Christmas hands”; he didn’t want to wash the Christmas off.

Christmas hands
Christmas hands.

And I love this, too. One day late for Christmas, but just as beautiful as I could ever hope for.

snow on boxing day
Snow on boxing day!

I hope you’ve had family and friends around you, yummy food, and time to relax this holiday. And lots of love.

***


 

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The Love for Four Fan Blades

My daughter has a fascination – bordering on a love affair – with the ceiling fan in the bedroom. Whether falling asleep or waking up, she gazes at it and her limbs get all excited (if they’re not swaddled). She grins and babbles to it in delight… and it’s not even on. E loved ceiling fans at this age, too, but it was summer and they were usually spinning, so obviously.

I’m trying to capture the passion (but usually she gets distracted by my being there with my camera phone). Here are a few examples so far.

baby smiling
Yay fan!
excited baby
I just wanna hug you!
baby
Oh, hey, Fan.
You’re looking mighty charming today, Fan…
Know what? I love you!
Fan, YOU’RE SO AWESOME!!

I was starting to feel a little jealous, but then yesterday I came into the bedroom to get her after her nap – she was awake but calm, lookin’ at the fan. I said, “Hi, baby! It’s time to get up!” and she looked right at me and gave me the biggest, happiest smiles I’ve ever seen. I almost died of cuteness. And I felt better.

***

{P.S.: For the Prokofiev and Italian folklore fans out there, the title of this post came to mind, and then I happened to look in the fruit bowl, and this is what I found, so I had to take a picture. Actually, this looks a lot like the faces E draws right now: they have big wide smiles, two eyes, a nose, and two independent nostrils.}

love for three oranges

***


 

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Poor Baby

My little daughter is sick.

It was just as we predicted to her big brother, who has had a cough and runny nose for the past couple weeks: if he is constantly hovering over her, breathing into her face as he gives her long strings of kisses… SHE WILL GET SICK. So, yeah.

She has been dealing with minor congestion for most of her 8-week life, but it’s been better lately. Now, suddenly, her lungs are rattling with phlegm (or “blemmiss” as E would say, because he can’t remember), and it’s hard. She hasn’t been crying much – she just kind of squawks and fusses in a way that clearly translates to “Mama, this sucks. Could you please just fix it?”

E didn’t get sick at all until he was almost a year old, so this is new territory for me. It makes me feel helpless. I try to send healing vibes to her through my milk; I’ve rigged a stiff pillow to elevate her upper body; we’ve got the humidifier and the nasal spray and the homeopathic drops. But none of this can just fix her.

In spite of feeling bad, as I’m sure she does, she still gets into a flirty mood after she finishes a meal, and gives me a bunch of beamy smiles. I beam back at her, but it kind of breaks my heart. Already she’s a little trouper.

cute baby face
Didn’t catch a real smile on camera, but here’s a cute coquettish look.
baby in cradle-swing
The way she watches the lights above her cradle-swing also really gets me… so full of wonder.
father and baby
Good thing Daddy is so snuggly – it’s like therapy. Just call him Dr. Snuggles.

***


 

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Watch out for swiftly-growing preschoolers

PC_The_Decadent_Semi-Sweet_Chocolate_Chips
Breakfast of champions.

Sometimes, to spice up breakfast a little for our three-year-old E, we put a few semi-sweet chocolate chips into his mini-bowl of Cheerios or Shreddies, which he eats dry. Finding them is just as much of a treat as eating them, it seems.

This morning, as I was putting the baby sister down for her morning nap, she was just falling asleep when I heard a distinctive crinkling and clicking sound that I immediately intuited was my preschooler getting into the chocolate chips. He has never taken the bag off the counter by himself before, but you know… at this age, independence is growing like a thistle. Height, too.

I went into the kitchen to find that he had filled his mini-bowl with approximately 1/3 of a cup of chocolate chips. I was like, “Whoa!! Buddy. This is not breakfast. What are you doing?”

He wasn’t even being covert about it. “I’m having chocolate chips!” Kind of charming, the way he’s still honest. And heaven knows I relate to his desire to eat chocolate for breakfast. But I quickly hijacked the bowl. No need to find out what that much chocolate does to a three-year-old.

Now, I can’t remember exactly how this part came out, but he said something about having “two of them”. I had to clarify, “Two chocolate chips? Or… two bowls?” He confirmed that yes, he had indeed already eaten a bowlful.

Aghh. #motheroftheyear, baby.

So I sat down with him, and unaccusingly tried to glean the truth. “So, I’m going to ask you something, and you tell me if it’s right, okay?” (We often have to prep him for a conversation like this, otherwise there’s no guarantee he’ll be listening whatsoever.) “So, you filled up your bowl and ate those chocolate chips.”

“Yep, that’s right.”

“And then you filled it up again, so you had two bowls?”

“No. That’s not right.”

Okay. Well, could be worse.

Then, somehow, as the conversation continued, it was worse. Because suddenly he was saying something about three bowls. (Technically, he wasn’t lying about the two bowls, then…)

“Wait – three?? Are you saying you had three bowls of chocolate chips? So, is this” – indicating the hijacked serving – “number three or number four??”

“That’s number four, Mama,” he replied matter-of-factly.

At this point, I was basically dumbstruck. Also, I couldn’t speak because I had to smother the laughter threatening to erupt. Seriously, what do you say in this situation? “I appreciate your candour,” or something?

So I just stifled my giggles and put the remaining stimulants away.

Weirdly enough, he seemed very much himself for the rest of the day – no more hyper than usual. He must be a natural chocolate-eater… or fabricating all this in order to to tell Mama an exciting imaginary story about breakfast… but I don’t actually hold out much hope for the latter – he’s too forthright. And I know it’s not that he lost count; he’s an excellent counter.

I think tomorrow we might avoid the chocolate altogether.

On the bright side, please note that my daughter’s navel is like a perfectly-shaped snail shell.

baby bellybutton
Isn’t it pretty?

Also, she is Supergirl. (YEAH she is.)

baby supergirl
There’s a sparkly cape printed on the back.

And she dominates when it comes to tummy-time.

baby tummy time
Such an athlete at seven weeks!

That is all. Good night, Di-hards.

***


 

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